Archive for ‘Fruits and Vegetables’

June 7, 2016

Tahini Spaetzle with Olives, Chickpeas and Cauliflower

Tahini Spaeztle

See how nice that spaetzle looks? I promise it tastes even better. But I know when you start reading the recipe to make it for yourself, you’re going to try to ruin it.

You’ll look at the ingredient list and start thinking about how you can cut a few corners. “What ridiculously named olive does he want me to use?” you’ll ask. “Can I just use a regular lemon?” you’ll wonder. “I can just cook up some dried pasta, right?” you’ll reason.

Do. Not. Give. In.

Castelvetrano olives are available in most grocery stores, in jars if not fresh. Preserved lemons can be found at any middle-eastern specialty shop – or you can easily make your own. And while making your own spaetzle might seem intimidating (many recipes tell you to press the dough through a colander) it really doesn’t have to be. Just use thumb and pointer finger to pinch off small bits of dough. A bit messy, but not challenging.

The extra effort is worth it, I promise you. This dish is a sublime blend of tangy, salty, and creamy that nonetheless defies expectations of being too rich or heavy. The castelvetranos are meaty and buttery, spaetzle is nutty, and the preserved lemons are packed with concentrated zest and just the right tartness.

Do it right. Treat yo self.

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September 8, 2015

Caprese Pasta Salad

Caprese Pasta Salad

If you’ve been reading this blog for much time, you probably know that I’m a big fan of culinary challenges. Unusual ingredients, strange kitchen set ups – you name it. Recently though, I completed a trial like no other.

I spent two weeks as a vegetarian.

Yes, it’s true. Your humble blogger and avowed carnivore went fourteen days without a single bite of meat. It was part of a deal that my girlfriend and I made to “eat healthier,” because meat is “bad for you.” In exchange she agreed to give up sweets for two weeks. I think I got the raw end of the deal.

(For the record, there is ample evidence to suggest that eating less meat contributes to better overall health. There, I admitted it.)

So what did I learn from the experience?

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August 8, 2015

Pancetta, Pea, and Mint Pizza with Pistachio Sauce

Pancetta, Pea, Pistachio Pizza

This pizza is your new best friend.

It will give a ride to the airport at a moment’s notice. It knows when something is wrong before you even say a word. It always has the next round.

I kid, of course – but this is a darn good pie.

The pistachio sauce is a nutty, subtle alternative to the more traditional aggressive red and rich white pizza bases. The salty, smokey pancetta and crisp sugar snap peas are like a see-saw, rocking your tongue gently back and forth between two flavors. Everything is bound together by mozzarella, and cut with just a hint of mint to keep things cool.

The pizza as a whole manages to be both indulgent and refreshing at the same time. As the midsummer heat begins to fade into temperate Autumn evenings, you may find yourself more attached to it than you’d care to admit.

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June 2, 2015

Revisited: Gazpacho with Pea Shoots and Capers

Gazpacho Redux

With both the legislative session and school winding down, I’m making it a goal this summer to really explore one or two international cuisines. I realized recently that not really having the opportunity to cook for several months has left me in something of a culinary rut. I think a deep dive into the subtleties of a specific palette is just what the chef-doctor ordered.

And since a visit to Spain many years ago was what really piqued my interest in cooking, so it only seemed like a fitting place to return.

Almost four years ago (!) when I had just started this blog, I posted a recipe for one of the most ubiquitous of Spanish dishes – gazpacho. Here is what I wrote at the time:

There are hundreds of ways to spice up a gazpacho recipe – and believe me, I’ll be back here with some of my own takes down the road – but for a quick, refreshing dish on a hot day, you can’t beat the original.

Don’t say I’m not a man of my word.

Technically the addition of bread to this dish would make it salmorejo, the less famous cousin of gazpacho, but it’s largely the same concept. This recipe is a bit heartier – enough to be a light meal by itself – but still delightful for a warm summer day. The fried capers offer little bursts of salt and vinegar that help break up the flavor of the soup. The pea shoots, meanwhile, are a beautiful visual addition that also provide some diversity in texture.

Traditional? Not as much. Delicious? Sí.

Gazpacho with Pea Shoots and Capers

Equipment

  • Food processor

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup crusty bread, preferably a bit stale, cut into small cubes
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 red pepper
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber, peeled
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon pimentón or smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for plating
  • 10-12 capers
  • 1/2 cup pea shoots

Instructions

  1. Place the cubed bread in a small bowl with the vinegar. Let it stand until all of the liquid has been absorbed so that the bread is slightly soggy.
  2. Roughly chop the red pepper, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, and garlic. Don’t worry about getting them too small or the same size.
  3. Add the chopped vegetables to food processor along with the bread, pimentón, cumin and quarter cup of olive oil. Blend to your desired consistency (there are all manner of opinions on how much you should blend your gazpacho. I’m a fan of almost completely smooth, but it’s up to you).
  4. Chill the soup for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator before serving. Feel free to let it sit overnight, as the flavors only develop over time.
  5. To serve, fry your capers in a small sauce pan with a dash of oil until lightly crisped and beginning to lose their shape, about 2-3 minutes. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the gazpacho and top with a handful of capers and the pea shoots.
February 7, 2015

Kimchi BLT

Kimchi BLT

Bloggers note – It has been longer that I like since my last post. The legislature is once again in session, which means my day job is substantially busier than normal. There may be a bit more time between posts, but I promise to keep the recipes coming!

Now, to the dish at hand.

The BLT is a classic, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be made better by importing some flavors from Korean cuisine. In this recipe, it is brightened by tangy, spicy kimchi that perfectly complements the salty bacon and ripe tomato. The addition of a creamy, runny egg not only builds on the complexity of flavor, but also makes the meal a bit more substantive.

Easy to assemble while remaining both delicious and unique, this sandwich is great for a fun lunch or weeknight dinner!

Kimchi BLT (serves 1)

Ingredients

  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 3 slices thick-cut applewood smoked bacon
  • 1 egg
  • 3 thin slices of tomato
  • 2 leaves of bibb lettuce
  • 1/4 cup of kimchi, diced
  • 2 pieces of sourdough bread, lightly toasted

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, combine the garlic, lemon juice and mayonnaise until evenly incorporated. Let the mixture sit while you cook the remaining ingredients.
  2. Heat a skillet to medium-high and cook the bacon in a skillet until crispy, about 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove the bacon to a paper towel and set aside.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium and crack the egg into the skillet. Let it cook for about 3 minutes, until lightly browned and crispy, then flip using a spatula. Sear the egg for 1 minute on the other side before removing it from the skillet, so that they yolk is still slightly runny.
  4. To assemble the sandwich, spread the garlic aioli on each piece of bread, then layer the egg, bacon, tomato, lettuce and kimchi on top.
October 31, 2014

Caramelized Pumpkin Soup

Caramelized Pumpkin Soup 4

I’m not usually one for molecular gastronomy – it requires too much precision and expensive equipment for me – but ever since I first tried it I’ve been a huge fan of the caramelized carrot soup put together by the mad scientists over at Modernist Cuisine.

Despite a minimal list of ingredients and uncomplicated instructions, the soup has a depth of flavor that is unparalleled by any conventional recipe. Rather than try to explain their culinary techno-magic myself, here’s the secret straight from the source:

It’s the pressure-cooking that really allows the flavors of this soup to flourish. The flavors are a combination of caramelization and the Maillard reaction (what people commonly call “browning”), which produces a rich, caramelized, nutty flavor. Pressure cookers are particularly suited for promoting the Maillard reaction because elevated temperatures encourage foods to develop their characteristic flavors…

As it so happens, this neat little science trick works on more than just carrots. Using a pressure cooker to caramelize the pumpkin as it cooks causes it to develop wonderful richness and complexity that ordinary pumpkin soups just cannot match. Even better, it’s done with just a hint of butter and no milk or cream.

Served with delightfully spiced and ever-so-sweet cider-poached pears and crunchy pumpkin seeds, this soup is the perfect decadent autumn treat!

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October 10, 2014

Butternut Squash Pizza

Butternut Squash Pizza 1

Oh hey, Autumn.

This is my favorite time of the year in Seattle. Summer is great and all – with the sun and the beach and the barbecuing – but there is truly nothing that beats a crisp fall day. There is a bite in the air, golden leaves line the sidewalks, and cozying up with a book and a fresh cup of coffee is the perfect Sunday morning activity.

Of course there’s all the wonderful winter beers, but that’s a whole other story.

Nothing could be more seasonal than this Butternut Squash Pizza. The nuttiness of the parmesan and pistachio meets the sweetness of the squash and caramelized onions to form a soul-warming union of comforting flavors. Those lovely notes are reinforced with mellow mozzarella and earthy sage to boot. On top of it all, this dish just looks autumnal with its orange and green colors and sinister caramelized onion curls.

Serve this up next to a fresh-cut jack-o’-lantern after a day of traipsing around a corn field and you will be the epitome of Fall – not to mention the envy of all your friends.

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August 12, 2014

Roasted Red Jalapeño Elote

Roasted Red Jalapeno Corn 2

I suspect many of you will scoff, even cringe, when you pull out the mayonnaise to make this dish. You might question why on earth I would stray from the canon of butter when it comes to finishing some perfectly nice corn on the cob.

You would be oh so wrong to do so.

Elote, a traditional Mexican preparation of corn on the cob, employs mayonnaise for one simple reason: stuff sticks to it. Delicious, scrumptious stuff like refreshing cilantro and salty cotija cheese that would just slide right off a butter coating. Furthermore, it’s easy to mix in all sorts of wonderful things like tangy lime juice and spicy roasted red jalapeno.

In short, it’s the perfect vehicle for adorning your sweet grilled corn with the best possible combination of ingredients. So stop hating on mayonnaise and make yourself some Elote, ASAP.

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July 18, 2014

Chipotle Grilled Corn

 

Chipotle Grilled Corn

What’s the best way to beat the heat? Sometimes you just have to fight fire with fire. And by “fire,” I mean this Chipotle Grilled Corn.

This corn the cob is the first in what’s sure to be a long string of grilling-related recipes, as I finally purchased my very own grill a few weeks ago. Although you can emulate some of the mechanics of a grill by using the broil function of your oven, I don’t believe there is a real substitute for freshly grilled meats and vegetables. Grabbing a small grill off craigslist or making friends with your neighbors who have one is highly recommended.

As for this recipe, it really couldn’t be simpler once you have the right equipment. At just four ingredients, it definitely qualifies as a cheat dish. I promise that you won’t feel cheated at all by the wonderful union of sweet and heat that you bite into though.

This recipe is a perfect example. A proper searing on the grill brings caramelizes the outer layer of the corn, bringing out it’s natural sweetness. It’s paired with out the smokey and devilishly spicy flavor of the chipotle pepper and tamed just so by creaminess of the butter to make for an easy, delicious side.

Serve these bad boys up with some carne asada or barbecued chicken and enjoy with some sangria. You could even invite over some friends – assuming you’re willing to share.

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June 23, 2014

The Great Green Pizza

The Great Green Pizza

If chlorophyll could turn you green, then this pizza would make you into the incredible hulk. A happy, satiated hulk that is very content with his/her dining decision.

The peas and asparagus on this pizza retain just enough of natural crunch to provide a nice textural contrast while developing a faint sweetness under the heat of the oven. The roasted green onions bring a mild but noticeable flavor that winds up somewhere between biting onion and soothing vegetable. Combined with creamy mozzarella and sharp, salty parmesan cheese against a backdrop of aromatic pesto makes this a delicious and multi-dimensional dish.

With a light sauce, veg-heavy toppings and just the right amount of cheese, this pizza is perfect for the warm summer months. Find yourself a park or a patio and enjoy while you soak up the rays!

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