Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Fig and Goat Cheese Bruschetta

I always see great recipe ideas for appetizers, but hardly ever make them.  We don't have people over very often, and on the rare occasion that I make something to bring to someone else's house, I am hesitant to take a chance on a recipe I've never tried before.  So I've decided that every now and then we're going to make appetizers for dinner!  That will give me a chance to try out new recipes without the pressure of disappointing a lot of people if they turn out mediocre.

I think we are off to a good start with this one.  It's the classic combination of figs, goat cheese, and walnuts, except instead of fresh figs you use dried and add sugar, oranges, and rosemary to make a chunky jam on the stove top.  I loved the dried figs!  So sweet and delicious.  I ate several while preparing the other ingredients.  We made the full recipe and decided to bring the leftovers up to my parents house for Father's Day.  Everyone liked them!  Success!

To keep things light we rounded out the meal with roasted veggies from the CSA.  Works for us!  

Fig and Goat Cheese Bruschetta
makes 20 servings (serving size = 2 bruschetta)

Notes:  Even if you are serving this to a smaller group, DO make a full batch of the jam!  You will want leftovers for spreading on toast at breakfast.  You can prepare the jam up to three days in advance and refrigerate.  Bring to room temperature and assemble the bruschetta just before serving.

1 1/4 cups chopped dried Mission figs (about 9 ounces)
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup coarsely chopped orange sections
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1/3 cup fresh orange juice (about one orange)
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
40 (1/2-inch-thick) slices French bread baguette, toasted (about 8 ounces)
1 1/4 cups (about 10 ounces) crumbled goat cheese
5 teaspoons finely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a small saucepan, combine the figs, sugar, orange sections, orange juice, rosemary, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce the heat so it's just simmering.  Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the figs are tender.  Uncover, cook another 5 minutes or until the mixture has thickened.  Remove from heat.  Cool to room temperature.

Preheat the broiler.

Top each bread slice with about 1 1/2 teaspoons of the fig mixture and then add about 1 1/2 teaspoons goat cheese on top of that.  Lightly press the walnuts onto the goat cheese (the original recipe says to just sprinkle them over the top.  Go ahead, give that a try and let me know how many actually stick!).  Broil for about 2 minutes or until the nuts begin to brown.  Serve warm.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Spicy Grilled Shrimp, Potatoes, and Bok Choy

We had some lovely weather last weekend, though it left entirely too quickly.  I'm beginning to think we'll be stuck in this "Juneuary" dreariness forever.


However, we did make use of the evening by cooking our entire meal outside.  We had some purple potatoes and bok choy from the CSA which we tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  We bought some shrimp and made a spicy marinade ala Mark Bittman.  Then we just put everything on the grill.  It was exquisite.  We finally got to use our hot smoked paprika too!  The shrimp had some kick to it, but I didn't think it was super spicy, just enough to be really flavorful.

While waiting for the coals to heat up, I enjoyed a beer and a good book.  Seriously, give Sherlock Holmes a try if you've never read it, I'm really liking it!

Spicy Grilled (or broiled) Shrimp
adapted from Mark Bittman - How to Cook Everything
Serves 4

1 large clove garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon paprika (we used hot smoked paprika and it was awesome
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
About 1 1/2 pounds shrimp, 20-30 per pound, peeled, rinsed, and dried
Lemon wedges for serving

Heat a charcoal or gas grill or broiler until hot, and put the rack as close to the heat source as possible.  You are going to want to be able to cook these shrimp quickly so they get nice and charred but still juicy.

Mince and mash the garlic into the salt on a cutting board with a chef's knife until it forms a paste.  Transfer to a small bowl.  Add the cayenne and paprika, then the olive oil and lemon juice.  Hopefully it is still relatively paste-like.  Mine was a little liquidy, but it still works.  Smear this all over the shrimp.

Grill or broil the shrimp, turning once, for 2-3 minutes on each side.  Serve immediately or at room temperature, with lemon wedges on the side.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

French Onion and Wild Mushroom Soup

One weekend when I was up in Vancouver, WA, I had some extra time so my mom and I visited the local Cash and Carry.  It's a store mainly geared towards restaurant owners.  I love wandering the aisles, recognizing familiar items such as those red and white checkered paper baskets that the tortilla chips are served in at Baja Fresh, or those tiny plastic containers that hold the sour cream and salsa that sit along-side my burrito from the Beanery.

They also sell items in smaller quantities for regular people as well, and at great prices too!  I got some great deals on many of my favorite Asian food items, such as a big jar of Mae Ploy red curry paste and a huge stack of nori sheets.  I also bought a pack of tiny 4-inch corn tortillas (only one WW point for three!) which will be perfect for fajitas.

I also bought this....

The biggest jar of dried shiitakes EVER!  AND they're from Oregon!

So, I'm officially soliciting your favorite ways to use dried mushrooms, since I now have a ton.

To start off, I chose to make a soup.  I picked a Rachael Ray recipe that I had cut out of a magazine awhile back: French Onion and Wild Mushroom Soup.  It came together pretty fast and the mushrooms really add their own earthy flavor to the soup.  You definitely want to use good-quality stock or broth for this recipe, since it doesn't cook very long.  We had just made chicken stock a couple of days ago so this was the perfect use for it.

One of my favorite things about this soup is the crusty, cheese-covered bread that goes with it.  I let my slices of baguette float on top of the soup, just long enough to let the bottom soak up some of the broth, then I swoop in and take my bite while the top is still crunchy.  

French Onion and Wild Mushroom Soup
adapted from Rachael Ray Every Day Magazine, March 2009
Serves 4-6

4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 large onions, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups broth (chicken, beef, vegetable)
1 ounce dried mushrooms (I used about half shiitake, half mixed wild mushrooms)
1/4 to 1/3 cup dry sherry
1 baguette or other crusty bread, sliced
1 large clove garlic, halved
1 cup shredded gruyere or swiss cheese

In a dutch oven or heavy soup pot, melt the butter with the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onions, bay leaf and thyme, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until the onions are softened and browned.  Turn down the heat a bit if it starts to burn.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, bring the broth, mushrooms, and 2 cups of water to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Use a slotted spoon to remove and slice the mushrooms as necessary to make small enough pieces for soup (a lot of my mushrooms were already small enough).

Preheat the oven to broil.

Add the sherry to the onions to deglaze the pan, scrapping up any browned bits.  Add the mushrooms and hot broth to the pot and stir to combine.

Toast the bread under the broiler, then lightly rub with the cut side of a garlic clove.  Top with some cheese and return to the broiler to let the cheese melt.

To serve, ladle to soup into bowls and serve with the toasts.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Chicken Adobo

Once or twice a year, we splurge and buy a whole chicken.  It's a splurge because of course it has to be a free range, organic chicken, and those don't come cheaply (but that's the way it should be).  Since we're paying more and it really is a rare occasion, we go all out and try to make an awesome dinner out of it.  It always makes plenty for leftovers too, so we get about 3 meals out of that one bird.  We also make stock out of the carcass, so that's another couple of meals as well.

This time Joe pretty much ran the kitchen, I just took some pictures and suggested roasted asparagus for a side dish.  He chose to make Mark Bittman's Chicken Adobo.  It's a dish from the Philippines, and it's basically chicken that is poached in a mixture of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and coconut milk.  Then the chicken pieces are finished by roasting, grilling, or broiling, while the poaching liquid is simmered on the stove until it has reduced into a delicious sauce that is later served over the chicken and some rice.

I can hardly find words to describe how good it was.  The flavors of the soy sauce and coconut milk intensified as they reduced and the result was incredible.  This is going in the books as my favorite chicken recipe of all time!  The next time you find yourself with a whole chicken, I highly recommend this recipe.

We wanted to eat this on Sunday, but we also wanted time to make the chicken stock before the busy week got underway, so we started it on Saturday and refrigerated it overnight (see instructions in recipe below).  This way Joe could make the stock on Saturday as well (in the past we don't always get around to making the stock if we don't make it right away, so this worked out nicely).  Then on Sunday, all we had to do was grill the chicken, simmer the sauce, and make rice.

Chicken Adobo
adapted from Mark Bittman - How to Cook Everything
Serves 4-6

1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup white or rice vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups coconut milk (this is optional, but I think it really adds a lot of flavor and would not skip it if I were you)
1 whole chicken, 3 to 4 pounds, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 8 pieces, or any combination of parts

In a large saucepan or dutch oven (it has to be large enough to hold all the chicken in one layer) combine the soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, bay leaves, pepper, 1 cup water, and half the coconut milk.  Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.  Add the chicken and reduce the heat down to medium-low.  Cover again and cook for about 20 minutes, turning once or twice, until the chicken is almost done.

At this point, you may either proceed with the recipe or refrigerate the chicken in this liquid for up to a day (skim the fat before reheating).

Heat the oven to 450 F, or heat a charcoal or gas grill or broiler to moderate heat and put the rack about 4 inches from the heat source.  Take the chicken pieces out of the liquid and dry them off a bit with paper towels.  Grill, broil, or roast the chicken until brown, crisp, and hot, turning as necessary, about 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil the sauce, along with the remaining coconut milk, over high heat until it has reduced to about one cup.  Discard the bay leaves.  Keep warm until the chicken is ready.

Serve the chicken over rice and pass the sauce at the table.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Potato Salad with Mint

This is the second recipe from the week one CSA newsletter.  This was a good potato salad; fresh and zippy, definitely something I would make again.

This recipe uses purple viking potatoes.  They have deep purple skins and are white on the inside.  If you can't find these, small red potatoes will work just fine.  They also call for purple onions (is this another name for red onions?  Please enlighten me) but I prefer the milder onion flavor of shallots for this kind of thing, so I used those.  For the mustard, I bought a delicious whole grain Dijon at Trader Joe's that is killer in this salad.

We had the potato salad on Saturday night with some quick homemade black bean patties.  They would have been burgers, but we didn't have buns and didn't feel like going to the store.

Potato Salad with Mint
adapted from Gathering Together Farms CSA Newsletter
Serves 4

1.5 pounds Purple Viking Potatoes
1/2 cup plain yogurt (or mayo)
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
chopped mint (add to taste)
1/2 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard (or stone ground mustard)
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Wash and scrub the potatoes.  Cut into one inch chunks, no need to peel.  Steam the potatoes for about 20 minutes over about an inch of boiling water, until they pierce easily with a fork.  Set them aside to cool before mixing with the other ingredients.

Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl.  Add the cooled potatoes and mix gently until the potatoes are well coated.  Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Ginger-Glazed Grilled Carrots, Pea Shoots, Wild Rice Salad

It's the first week of our summer CSA!  This week we got the most beautiful basket of produce: fresh lettuces, spinach, scallions, mint, pea shoots, radishes, carrots, purple potatoes, and blueberry preserves.

The recipe ideas in their weekly newsletter looked really good too, so tonight I made one of them using the carrots and the pea shoots.  You basically marinate the carrots in a mixture of garlic, ginger, lime juice, brown sugar, and olive oil, then grill them whole.  Then you just make a quick salad out of the pea shoots and serve the carrots over the top.  I loved this method of cooking carrots!  Also, I forgot that pea shoots are totally edible, so this reminded me that I can be pruning my pea plants that are growing outside and add the pea shoots to my salads.

I also made a really yummy rice salad using a Mark Bittman recipe.  This recipe was a keeper!  Joe thought it was awesome, and I want to keep it in mind the next time I need to bring something to a picnic or potluck because it can be made ahead.

Ginger-Glazed Carrots and Pea Shoot Salad
adapted from Gathering Together Farm CSA newsletter
Serves 4

1 bunch carrots, tops removed, washed and peeled
1 bunch pea shoots
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
Dash of salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Leave the carrots whole, and put them into a shallow bowl or plastic bag.  In a small bowl, combine the garlic, ginger, half of the lime juice, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and half of the olive oil.  Pour this mixture over the carrots and toss well.  Allow this to marinate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

You can grill these carrots on an outdoor grill, or indoors on a grill pan or cast-iron skillet.  Heat the grill or grill pan to a high flame/high heat.  Place carrots on the rack or in the pan.  Cover and cook for 3-5 minutes.  Remove cover, flip carrots carefully.  Cook another 2-4 minutes or until the largest carrot is nice and charred on both sides.

Meanwhile, chop or tear the pea shoots into smaller pieces if desired.  Toss with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the other half of the lime juice.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Slice the carrots into 1-inch pieces if desired, or serve whole.  Pile on top of the pea shoot salad and serve immediately.

Wild Rice Salad
adapted from Mark Bittman - How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
Serves 4

3-4 cups cooked wild rice, cooled
1/4 cup chopped scallion
1/2 cup dried blueberries, cranberries, or cherries (or a combination)
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper
1 large shallot (about 1 ounce), cut into chunks
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint

In a large bowl, add the rice, scallions, dried berries, and almonds.  Toss with a fork to break up the rice and mix all the ingredients.

To make the vinaigrette, put the oil and lemon juice into a blender or small food processor.  Sprinkle with salt and lots of pepper.  Blend for about 30 seconds to emulsify.  Add the shallot chunks and pulse a few times until the shallot is minced within the dressing.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Drizzle the vinaigrette over the rice mixture and gently toss to combine.  Stir in the mint, taste one more time for seasoning.  Serve at room temperature or refrigerate for up to a day.  Bring the salad back up to room temperature before serving.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Apricot Poppy Seed Tofu with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Asparagus

Remember how I said before that most of my magazine recipe cut-outs were neatly filed away into file folders?  Well, that may have been a little optimistic.  Replace "most" with "hardly any" and replace "file folders" with "a massive pile on my desk", and then you'll have a more accurate description of my recipe collection.  These last couple of weeks I've been working on remedying that situation.  The result is that I've found a ton of recipes I forgot about that I can't wait to make!  This is one such recipe.

The actual recipe calls for chicken, but I used tofu, and it was delicious!  The apricot preserves make the sauce nice and sweet.  I had to let it simmer longer than it said to get it to thicken up.

To go with it, I roasted some asparagus and sweet potato wedges in the oven.  I sprinkled the potatoes with a little brown sugar in the last couple minutes of cooking.  It was yum!

Apricot Poppy Seed Tofu
adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray Magazine, September 2007
Serves 4

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds firm tofu
Freshly ground black pepper
2 shallots, thinly sliced (red onion works too)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup apricot preserves (chop any big fruit pieces)
3 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1 tablespoon butter

Slice the block of tofu in half lengthwise.  Press the tofu between layers of paper towels for a few minutes, or up to an hour if you have the time.  To add extra weight, set a heavy can (about two pounds) on top of a plate, and place the plate on top of the tofu.  This helps remove excess moisture and will help the tofu hold together better during cooking.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Season the tofu with salt and pepper and cook in the skillet, turning once or twice, until browned, about 5 minutes or so.  Add the shallots and cook for another 3 minutes.  Add the vinegar and cook until it is slightly reduced, about a minute.  Next add the broth, preserves, honey, and poppy seeds.  Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens.  Stir in the butter, and serve.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Inside-Out Spring Rolls

This is a wonderful, simple meal to have when you either don't have much time to cook, or you just don't want to spend a big chunk of your precious free time in the kitchen.  Sure, you could get take-out like this, but it's healthier to make it yourself, and taking some help from packaged pot stickers is a nice short cut.

I also would like to point out that this is the third meal I have made from just ONE head of cabbage!  Talk about stretching a buck!

Inside-Out Spring Rolls
adapted from Real Simple - Meals Made Easy
Serves 4

I used vegetable pot stickers but you could use whatever kind you like.  I also used regular soy sauce instead of low sodium, and dry roasted peanuts instead of salted.

1 16 ounce bag frozen pot stickers
1 tablespoon olive or peanut oil
1 large carrot, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 small head Napa or green cabbage, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce (regular or low-sodium)
1/4 cup peanuts, salted (or dry roasted)

Pan fry the pot stickers according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the carrot and cabbage and stir to coat with the oil.  Add the soy sauce and cook for just 2-3 minutes, so the vegetables are crisp-tender.

To serve, fill the bottom of a bowl with the vegetables, top with pot stickers, and sprinkle the peanuts over the top.

If your pot stickers came with a soy sauce packet, you can pour it into a small dish, heat it in the microwave, and serve alongside (I thought the soy sauce packet that came with ours was nasty, so I just dipped my pot stickers in some of our regular soy sauce).
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...