Archive for ‘Side Dishes’

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.
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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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 28, 2014

Grape Leaf Potato Salad

Grape Leaf Potato Salad

If you – like me – love potato salad but are tired of the same old spices and heavy mayonnaise base, then boy do I have the dish for you.

This potato salad was inspired by a jar of grape leaves that I’ve had sitting in my refrigerator ever since I made dolmas a few months ago. I’d been brainstorming different ways to incorporate the leaves into a new, creative dish when I finally thought up this potato salad for the Fourth of July.

The grape leaves are more subtle than you might imagine if stuffed dolmas are your point of reference, but they do impart a unique finish to this potato salad. Paired with robust oregano and finished off with a tangy dressing that’s just the right amount of creamy, the flavors are assertive without being overpowering.

The addition of cucumbers provides a wonderful crunch that is often missing from more traditional versions – or is otherwise filled by celery, which can overpower other more mild ingredients. The little bursts of refreshment make this the perfect dish for a hot summer days!

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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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April 27, 2014

Cauliflower Carrot Salad

Carrot Cauliflower Salad

This is a simple but delicious salad that’s perfect for the warm days of Spring and Summer.

The cauliflower and carrot are a wonderful base, but the real star of this salad is the dressing. When Maggie and I were on vacation recently we stopped by an artisan oil and vinegar shop and found a delicious lemongrass mint white balsamic vinegar. It’s tangy and herbal, sweet and acidic – and it makes the perfect base for dressing! Pairing it with refreshing parsley makes for a wonderful little salad.

If you can’t find a lemongrass mint white balsamic vinegar – a very real possibility – then you could certainly make your own. Allowing some pulverized mint and lemongrass to sit in white wine or white balsamic vinegar will give you a perfectly serviceable home substitute.

Whip this up for a picnic or a big barbecue party and enjoy!

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January 1, 2014

Wild Mushroom and Spinach Gnocchi

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Happy 2014 everyone! In the spirit of new year’s resolutions and self improvement, this recipe is the story of a culinary challenge that I finally overcame last year.

Ever since I started cooking, homemade gnocchi has been my Everest. I looked at countless recipes and tried multiple times to make it, but I could never get it quite right. It was always wound up a sloppy mess or an over-floured taste-dud.

This Christmas though, I finally figured it out.

The trick, at least for me, was to give up on the idea that the dough should feel like pasta dough. With pasta, the dough tends to be pretty tough and not sticky at all. But if you try to get gnocchi dough to that consistency you’ll wind up adding so much flour that it ruins the flavor. Instead, the trick is to flour the outside of the dough just enough to roll it out. It’ll still be a little sticky and hard to work with, but the result is delicious.

And this recipe is the perfect way to dress a well-made gnocchi! All the ingredients are delicate and inviting, and together they form a rich yet sublime palette of flavors. The leeks impart a subtle onion flavor, while the mushrooms and parmesan provide notes of umami. And while you may be tempted to skip the sherry in this recipe, you shouldn’t. It adds a fantastic extra dimension to the already wonderful thyme-cream sauce.

Best wishes (and dishes) for the new year!

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October 6, 2013

Salad Lyonnaise

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I enjoy a good salad, but as a stand-alone dish I rarely find one that doesn’t leave me hungry after a couple hours. Something about the thinness of the lettuce combined with the sparse toppings just leaves me longing for something more.

But not this salad.

This one is a twist on a classic Salad Lyonnaise that uses prosciutto and mixed greens instead of bacon and frisée. The crispy, saltiness of the prosciutto pairs excellently with the more full-bodied mixed greens. Meanwhile, the rich, creamy yolk of the poached egg is the perfect compliment to the effervescent and citrusy champagne vinaigrette. Finish it with some homemade croutons and you’ve got way more than just rabbit food on your hands.

This hearty salad is perfect for a lunch or light dinner. If you want to give the meal a little extra heft, serve it alongside some ratatouille or french onion soup. Either way, you won’t be disappointed!

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September 25, 2013

Harissa Cauliflower Mushrooms with Romesco

Harissa Cauliflower Mushrooms

I know it’s been a while since I posted a new blog, but I’ve just been too darn busy enjoying the awesome coverage my Asian Steak Tartare got in the Bitten Word’s Cover to Cover Challenge.

But seriously, I was actually on vacation down in San Diego helping my sister (and occasional dessert recipe contributor) get moved into graduate school. It was a lovely break, but I feel bad for leaving you all hanging without any new dishes to try. So to make it up to you, I have a post adorned with tons of scrumptious looking pictures!

These Harissa Caulifower Mushrooms with Romesco Sauce were part of a big tapas night I did a few weeks back, and they were positively delicious! The union of classic Spanish ingredients with zesty Moroccan flavors is a great flavor combination. The filling is spicy, tangy, and salty while the mushrooms themselves provide a real meaty feel to the dish.

These stuffed mushrooms are great as an appetizer or alongside a few other tapas for dinner. If you wanted to make this dish more substantive, perhaps to serve as an entree, you could add or substitute Spanish chorizo to the stuffing. Either way, it’s going to be delicious!

Tapas Dinner

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May 31, 2013

Spicy Citrus Corn Fritters

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I absolutely love when Spring roles around. Not because of the weather – in Seattle springtime is generally even more rainy than Winter, just warmer and punctuated by short burst of sunny days – but because of all the wonderful fresh vegetables that come into season.

Like corn. Seriously, who doesn’t like corn?

It’s sweet and savory, crunchy and soft. It’s good grilled on the cob or cooked in with other foods. It pairs well with so many different things. And that’s why it’s the star ingredient in this recipe.

Fresh corn is grilled to perfection, then sliced off the cob and tossed with just enough flour to bind it together into a delicious fritter. It’s complimented with a touch of jalapenos to add a little kick as well as two subtle citrus flavors: lime zest and lemongrass. The zest provides the scent and essence of lime without any of the sour or tart flavors, while lemongrass brings a softer, more complex citrus flavor than it’s namesake.

These fritters are great as single serving appetizers or served as a side dish or in groups of two or three. Perfect for a nice summer barbecue!

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