Archive for ‘Starches’

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.

read more »

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?

read more »

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.

read more »

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.

read more »

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.

read more »

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!

read more »

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!

read more »

February 9, 2014

Eggplant Wraps with Moroccan Rice and Pickled Mango

IMG_3046

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m down in the state capital these days for work. My day job – when I’m not cooking and writing here – is working for the state legislature, and during the legislative session that means a southward migration to our state’s capital, Olympia. It also means pretty long hours and fewer new posts here, but I do my best to keep things fresh (pun absolutely intended).

One of the best parts about the legislative session though is the return of my Olympia dinner nights, which my friends affectionately refer to as “Quinnsmas.” Aside from a welcome reminder that there is a life outside of politics, these dinner nights are a blast because they are loosely modeled after an Iron Chef challenge. I don’t have an opponent, but every week I get three surprise ingredients with twenty four hour notice that I have to incorporate into my dish.

My friends like to find odd pairings to throw me off, and I love a good challenge – which makes for some fun and elaborate dishes!

This past week the ingredients were chorizo, eggplant and mango, which resulted in this wonderful new Moroccan-inspired recipe. Eggplant and chorizo are a perfectly serviceable combination, so the only trick was figuring out how to shoehorn mangoes into the mix. As it turns out, pickling them brings the flavor profile in line perfectly!

The mangoes retain some of their sweetness, but also pick up some of the acid and vinegar notes as well as aromatic spice. Paired with salty, paprika-infused chorizo sausage, hearty spiced rice and full-bodied eggplant, it forms a delicious winning combination.

This is definitely a dish that requires some planning ahead – the mangoes should be done 24 hours ahead of time and the eggplant needs about an hour of work by itself – but the results are definitely worth it!

read more »

January 1, 2014

Wild Mushroom and Spinach Gnocchi

IMG_2981

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!

read more »

August 12, 2013

Chicken Tinga Chilaquiles

Tinga Chilaquiles

When I imagined this dish, I was aiming for nachos.

I had in my head an image of cheesy goodness oozing between tortilla chips with a smattering of deliciously spicy chicken tinga tossed over the top. But I wound up getting the portions wrong, and there was a lot more chicken tinga than I expected. When I pulled it out of the oven and tried to pull a chip away it crumpled soggily under the weight of all the toppings.

So I wound up eating it with a fork instead, and it was truly fantastic. I was going to call them “fork nachos” and shout the name from the rooftops to anyone who would listen, but after a little Google searching I discovered there was already a name for this kind of delicious smothered nachos: “Chilaquiles.”

And man, these are some awesome Chilaquiles.

They’ve got everything you could want in a Mexican dish. The chicken tinga itself spicy, tangy, and just a little bit sweet, while the rest of the toppings are a blend of creamy, cheesy, earthy and herbal. The tortilla chips provide just enough of a base to hold the whole meal together without giving it an overwhelmingly starchy feel.

You won’t be able to resist going back for seconds!

read more »

%d bloggers like this: