Monday, January 30, 2017

Sauteed Mustard Greens with Garlic and Peanuts

From Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison, this was the recipe that taught me I like mustard greens! As Madison writes, you can use a mix of red and green mustards, or go with just one kind if you prefer.

8 heaping cups stemmed mustard greens (about 8 oz)
2 teaspoons roasted peanut oil
1 plump garlic clove, slivered
Sea salt
Few drops of soy sauce
A handful of roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Chop the mustard greens into large pieces and give them a rinse.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and then add the garlic. As soon as the garlic starts to sizzle, add the mustard greens and season with a few pinches of salt. Saute, turning the greens frequently, until the water from the leaves is largely gone and the leaves are tender. This should take about 5 minutes, depending on the plant. Add the soy sauce, cook for another minute, then toss with the peanuts and serve.

With soba: Toss the mustard greens with soba noodles and garnish with the peanuts
With smoke: Season the cooked greens with a few pinches of smoked salt
With tofu: Serve these garlicky greens with cubes of steamed tofu or golden friend tofu and season with red pepper flakes or a few pinches of shichimi togarashi (a Japanese seasoning blend that can be found at Japanese groceries or made at home)
With sesame: Instead of using peanut oil, cook the greens in light sesame oil, then toss with toasted sesame seeds and finish with a few drops of toasted sesame oil

Serves 1-2

Friday, January 27, 2017

Stir-Fried Yellow Chives and Eggs

All Under Heaven by Carolyn Phillips is an amazing compilation of authentic recipes gathered from all areas of China. This recipe is very easy in execution, but it was hard for me to find yellow chives, which are chives grown under a tarp or pot so they don't develop their normal green color. It also decreases their oniony flavors. I had to go to a Korean grocery store (after searching a Thai grocery, a Vietnamese grocery, and a Chinese grocery), and the last time I was at the same store I couldn't find them. So I don't know how available these will be in most areas, but on the chance you can find some, I'm giving this recipe because I loved it.

Warning: If you do manage to find yellow chives, try to use them the same day or as quickly as possible. Even in a container and a freezer bag, the chives made my entire fridge smell funky as long as they were there. Worth it!

1 pound yellow chives
6 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil (or use half unsalted butter and half oil)
1 teaspoon sea salt
4 large eggs, lightly beaten

Rinse the chives and pat them dry. Trim off any dry ends or less-than-perfect leaves. Either finely chop the chives if you like them particularly tender, or cut them into 1-inch lengths if you prefer a crunchier texture.

Place a wok over high heat, and when it's hot, add the oil and salt. Swirl the oil to dissolve the salt, and then add all of the chives. Quickly toss the chives until they wilt and a few strands start to brown.

Scoot the chives to one side and add a bit more oil if you don't see any at the bottom of the wok. Pour the eggs in and stir them around as they curdle. As soon as most of them have formed large curds, chop them up with your spatula and then toss them with the chives. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Plate and serve immediately.

Serves 4-6

Notes from Phillips on this recipe:

There are many variations on this dish. Instead of eggs, try julienned pressed bean curd, shredded pork or chicken, little shrimp or even thin strips of fresh black mushrooms. Or, instead of the yellow chives, chop up some garlic chive flowers, which will serve as a sweeter, crispier companion to the eggs.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Artichokes and Cannellini

Artichokes and cannellini have become a quick, weeknight staple at my house. It's from Nigel Slater's Eat, which I love because the recipes in it are all pretty easy with only a few ingredients.

3 tablespoons butter
1 lemon
2 green onions
10-oz jar water-packed artichokes
15.5-oz can of cannellini beans
Parsley (optional)

Melt butter in a shallow pan. As it melts, squeeze in the juice of half the lemon. Chop green onions and let them soften in the butter over moderate heat. Drain artichoke hearts, rinse well, then slice each one in half and add to the butter.

Add cannellini beans to the pan and leave to quietly bubble over medium heat until a sort of impromptu creamy juice has developed. Season with salt, black pepper, and perhaps a little more lemon and some parsley.

Serves 2

Notes from Slater on this recipe:

This is not a recipe where anything should be allowed to brown in the pan. Keep the colors pale.

Tarragon is good here, as it always is with beans, and so would be mint. Add mint at the last minute, so it doesn't  discolor much. You could cook your own artichokes if you wish. Prepare and boil them until tender, then add them, halved, to the melted butter and lemon as above.

Swap the beans for Puy lentils and add more parsley for an earthier style.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Corn and Pancetta Risotto

This is one of my favorite recipes. I love all risotto, but this one especially. This is from Salt to Taste by Marco Canora with Catherine Young.

The corn can also be pre-cooked for this recipe (grilled or sweated in butter) then added with the last ladle of broth.

1/4 pound thinly sliced pancetta
4 ears of corn, husked
6 to 8 cups Brodo or chicken broth
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
About 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and diced
2 cups Arborio or other short-grained rice
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup freshly grated
Parmigiano-Reggiano

Preheat oven to 400. Divide the pancetta between 2 rimmed baking sheets, laying it out in a single layer. Bake the pancetta until the fat renders and the meat is beginning to crisp, 7 to 10 minutes. Pour off the rendered fat and reserve it. Chop the pancetta; add the chopped pancetta to the fat and set the mixture aside. (I only baked the pancetta the first time I made this. Now I just crisp it in a pan on the stove.)

While the pancetta cooks, cut the corn from the cobs. Reserve the corn kernels, break the cobs in half and put them in a large pot. Add the broth and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat slightly and simmer until the broth has reduced by one-third, about 30 minutes. Remove and discard the cobs. Season the broth lightly with salt and pepper and reserve.

Melt the 2 tablespoons butter in a rondeau or high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add enough oil so the bottom of the pan is generously coated, about 2 tablespoons. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until it softens, about 10 minutes.

Increase heat to high and add the rice. Using a wooden spoon, stir the rice with the onion and fat until the rice no longer looks chalky and the grains begin to crackle, 2 to 3 minutes.

Make sure the pan is really hot, then add the wine/ The wine will almost immediately begin to boil. Stir constantly until the rice absorbs the wine, about 1 minute.

Add enough warm broth to just cover the rice, 1.5 to 2 cups. Cook at an active summer, stirring and scraping the rice away from the sides occasionally. As the rice cooks, the broth will become viscous. Cook the rice until it is once again almost dry, about 5 minutes. Then again add enough broth to cover. Add the raw corn and simmer, scraping and stirring every so often, until the broth is incorporated, about 5 minutes more.

At this point, add the pancetta and fat and no more than 1/2 cup broth. Stir frequently and add broth in small increments until the rice is just tender. Depending upon the age of the rice and how soft and brothy you like your risotto, you can expect to add 1 to 2 more cups in all. Just take care to go slowly so you don't add too much.

Stir in the Parmigiano and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and serve.

Brodo

This is the Brodo mentioned in the corn and pancetta risotto, both recipes from Salt to Taste by Marco Canora with Catherine Young.

I've never made this, but I'm not the boss of your kitchen, and it's technically part of the risotto recipe. All that follows is the Brodo recipe as written by the authors.

Author's Note:
Brodo is not stock, but broth. Stock is made from simmering bones and broth is made from simmering meat. The practical difference is that stock contains more gelatin and is therefore an easier starting place for sauces. Because broths are made with whole pieces of meat and poultry rather than bones, they usually have deeper, more complex flavor. Broths also tend to be less cloudy - the protein in the meats in the pot acts as a filter that clarifies the broth as it simmers, leaving you with a beautifully clear liquid.

Brodo is easy to make with ingredients from the supermarket. Start with a chicken. Put it whole in the pot, then add 2 pounds of beef stew meat on the bone and a turkey drumstick (or two wings). Cover the meat by about 4 inches with water (you'll need about 7 quarts in all) and bring it to a boil over high heat.

As soon as the broth boils, begin to "clarify" it, lowering the heat to medium and pilling the pot to one side of the burner so it's partially off the burner. This forces the broth to boil in an oval circuit from top to bottom, circulating all the liquid over and around the meat. As the broth circulates, the fat and other impurities in the broth float to the surface. What will you see when you look into the pot? The broth will bubble along one side of the pot. The rest of the surface will look active but not be bubbling. Fat and scum will rise with the bubbles and settle on top.

Skim every 5 minutes or so. Be finicky about how you do this. Dip the ladle into the broth near the center of the pot just deep enough to barely submerge the front edge. Then keep it still. A thin stream of fat and foamy broth will be drawn into the ladle. Do this a couple times, then wait another 5 minutes and do it again, continuing until the brodo looks clear, about half an hour.

Once the broth is clear, add aromatic vegetables. Chop and then add 2 onions, 1/2 bunch of celery, and 3 carrots. Add a 12-oz can of tomatoes, 1 teaspoon peppercorns, and 1/2 bunch of flat-leaf parsley and simmer the broth until it's flavorful, about 2 hours.

Strain the broth; discard the vegetables but not the meat. (In my mind brodo is forever linked with polpettone, the fried morsels of minced meat that, in my family, give a second life to the chicken, beef, and turkey used in the broth.) You'll wind up with 3.5 quarts of broth that can be refrigerated or frozen.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Chard Soup with Cumin, Cilantro, and Lime

This is from Deborah Madison's Vegetable Literacy. Smaller, tender chard leaves are best (says Madison), but I used giant ones and it was still delicious. Don't worry about chopping too precisely during prep, because this is all going into a blender when it's done.

8 cups packed trimmed chard leaves (about 1 pound or 20 leaves)
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 small potato (about 4 ounces), scrubbed and sliced
1 carrot, scrubbed and sliced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1.5 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Finely cut cilantro stems and leaves to make 1 cup
Sea salt
1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt
Freshly ground pepper
Grated zest and juice of 1 lime

Rinse the chard, chop it coarsely, and set aside in a colander to drain.

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, potato, and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes to soften. Stir in the tomato paste, smashing it into the vegetables, and then add the cumin, coriander, cilantro, and chard leaves. Sprinkle over 1.5 teaspoons salt, cover the pan, and allow the leaves to cook down substantially before adding 5 cups water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer, cover partially, until the potato has softened.

Cool slightly, then add the sour cream and puree in a blender until smooth. Return the soup to the pot over gentle heat. Taste for salt, season with pepper, and stir in the lime zest and juice. Ladle into bowls and serve.

With Texture: Add cooked rice, crisped coarse bread crumbs, or skinny tortilla strips to each serving.
With Other Greens: In spring and early summer, include other greens, such as tender sorrel leaves, wild nettles, lovage leaves, lamb's-quarters, and so on.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Corn Griddle Cakes

This is a recipe from Cucina Viansa, which is a collection of recipes from the Viansa Winery in California. The cakes are mostly polenta with corn kernels. They weren't what I expected, but they were so good that I had to move the plate with the finished cakes away from the stove so I would stop eating them while I was cooking.

Note: They are not kidding about the nonstick pan. I started with a metal pan and had to switch because I couldn't get the cakes off without destroying them.

3 cups milk
1 cup polenta or corn meal
3 cups fresh yellow corn kernels (about 4 medium ears)
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons fresh baking powder
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions
2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
6 egg whites
Olive oil

Warm the milk in a large saucepan over medium-low heat and slowly drizzle in the polenta, stirring to incorporate. Cook over low heat for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring constantly, just until the milk is absorbed. Transfer polenta to a large bowl and cool for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, plunge corn kernels into boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes and drain.

Add the flour, baking powder, basil, green onions, salt, pepper, and blanched corn to the cooked polenta and mix together thoroughly. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites into firm peaks and fold gently into the corn mixture.

Heat a large non-stick saute pan and brush lightly with olive oil. Pour about 3 tablespoons of corn mixture into pan, forming a small cake about 3 inches across. Cook about 1 minut, until the underside is golden brown. Turn and brown the second side. Brush more oil on pan if needed. Transfer the cooked corn cakes onto paper towels, and reheat in a warm oven if necessary.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Mama Chang's Hot and Sour Soup

This is Joanne Chang's recipe from Flour, Too, and it makes me want to see the rest of her recipes. It's easy, fast, and delicious. I've never had hot and sour soup that I liked before this, although I tried to like it several times. This recipe is a keeper, though.

Chang writes that she wrote the recipe with button mushrooms because they are easy to find, but suggests using wood ear mushrooms if you can get them. I will further suggest that if you use wood ear mushrooms, buy them dried and rehydrate them instead of using fresh ones. I have only used button mushrooms in this recipe, but I did once use fresh wood ears in a different soup recipe and they were very slimy the next day. I ended up removing them before eating the rest of the soup.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
4 scallions, white and green parts, minced, plus 2 tablespoons chopped for garnish
8 ounces ground pork
4 cups chicken stock
One 1-pound block soft or firm tofu (not silken and not extra-firm), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 or 5 medium button mushrooms, wiped clean and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2/3 cup rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sesame oil, plus 2 teaspoons for garnish
1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
2 large eggs
White pepper for garnish

In the saucepan, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the garlic, ginger, scallions, and ground pork and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1 minute. Break up the pork into smaller pieces but don't worry about breaking it down completely. Add the stock and bring to a simmer.

Add the tofu, mushrooms, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, black pepper, sesame oil, and Sriracha sauce and bring the soup back to a simmer over medium-high heat. (Taste the soup. If you want it hotter, add more Sriracha sauce; if you want it more sour, add more vinegar.)

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until blended. With the soup at a steady simmer, slowly whisk in the eggs so they form strands. Bring the soup back to a simmer. Divide the soup among four bowls and garnish each with a little sesame oil, scallion, and white pepper. Serve immediately. The soup can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Sauage and White Bean Gratin

This gratin is very nearly one-dish, very good, and very easy. This is from Kathy Brennan's and Caroline Campion's Keepers.

2/3 cup panko or regular dried breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
1 small yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
1 scant tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 scant teaspoon dried
1/2 cup dry white wine
1.5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Two 15.5-oz cans white beans, such as cannellini or Great Northern, drained and rinsed
Pepper
4 large handfuls of baby spinach (optional)

Preheat oven to 425, with a rack in the middle position. In a small bowl, combine panko and butter, season with salt and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over high heat until it shimmers. Add the sausages and cook, stirring often and breaking up the meat, until browned, about 4 minutes. Leaving as much of the oil in the pan as possible, transfer the sausage to a medium bowl and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and thyme and stir for about 30 seconds. Add the wine and briskly simmer, scraping up any caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan, until almost evaporated, about 2 minutes.

Add the broth and bring to a simmer, then add the beans, cooked sausage, and any juices. Season with salt and pepper and simmer, stirring occasionally, until heated through and some of the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. The mixture should be wet, but not drowning in liquid. Off the heat, stir in spinach (if using). Check the seasonings, then transfer the mixture to a 3-quart baking or gratin dish.

Top evenly with the panko mixture and bake until bubbling and the top is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.