Veggie Chips

Kale is not the only veggie that can be turned into chips.  Almost any green that does not contain too much water and has a reasonably firm cell structure will become a crunchy chip with the right treatment.   Spinach, Swiss Chard, Brussels sprout leaves (especially the biggish Brussels sprouts) are all wonderful.  I have even made chips out of arugula-although that was more to show it can be done than something I would repeat often.  The best part is adding your own flavors to these (relatively) healthy chips.

INGREDIENTS:

1 head/bunch of your favorite green or, if using Brussels sprouts, 1 -2 dozen large sprouts

2 T. good quality olive oil

salt

optional:  grated parmagian cheese, chili powder, Chinese five spice powder, or any spice blend you particularly love.

PREPARATION;

  1.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Wash greens, removing the tough stems (leave them in the biggest pieces you can because they shrink a great deal when cooking).
  3. If using Brussels sprouts, cut off the stem end and peel as many leaves as possible from each one (you may need to recut the stem end part-way through to release more leaves).
  4. Get the greens as dry as you can (without going crazy) and place in a bowl with the olive oil.  Toss with your hands to lightly coat (rubbing the oil in a bit if the greens are really curly).
  5. Spread the greens out in a single layer on a large baking sheet and sprinkle salt and any other toppings you want on the greens (these should not be too thickly applied or the greens won’t cook properly).  Place the tray in the oven.
  6. Start checking after 10 minutes or so to see if any have become crisp (the time will vary dramatically depending on the type of green).  Remove chips as they become done and place in a bowl.
  7. Enjoy!

 

 

Slow Roasted Salmon

This is, in very minor ways, adapted from Michael Schlow’s wonderful cookbook, It’s About Time, and is by far the best, and easiest, way to cook salmon I have ever found.

preparing-to-cook-salmon-fillets-in-panServes 4

Ingredients:  

4 6 oz. salmon filters with the skin removed

2 T. extra virgin olive oil

1 1/3 t. unsalted butter

salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
  2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil (to make clean up easier).
  3. Place the salmon filets, spaced evenly apart, on the baking sheet.
  4. Drizzle the olive oil over the filets and rub to ensure they are evenly coated.
  5. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Roast for 15-18 minutes for medium rare and 21 to 24 minutes if you prefer medium.
  7. Place each filet on a plate and top with 1/4 of the butter.  You can sprinkle with optional hersb, such as dill, as well.

 

Lobster and Summer Pea Pasta

This is a quintessential summer dish and is best when you can get fresh peas and pea sprouts.  You can make it much more quickly and easily if you can get the lobsters boiled by your fish market or supermarket.

INGREDIENTS:

2   1 1/4 to 1 1/2  lb. lobsters

1 lb. gemelli pasta

2-3 lbs of fresh peas in pods (or 1 to 1 1/4 cup of fresh or frozen peas)

1 t. kosher salt

1 T. good quality olive oil

1/4 cup heavy cream

3 T. parmigian cheese, grated – plus additional to serve at the table

1  handful of pea sprouts or tendrils (optional)

freshly ground black pepper

PREPARATION:

  1.  If you can get the lobsters cooked by your market, do so.  You can bring them home either warm or cold–it will make no difference.  If you cannot get them cooked, place two inches of water in the bottom of a tall pot (a pasta pot works perfectly) and bring to a boil over medium high heat.   Move off the heat briefly and add the lobsters, covering the pot and returning to the heat to steam for 12-14  minutes until the lobsters are bright red and fully cooked.  Immediately remove from pot but do not discard any remaining steaming liquid.  (Do remove any steaming rack, if one is used.) Allow lobsters and the steaming liquid to cool.
  2. Separate the lobster meat from the shell.  Remove large claws, knuckles and tail from the body. Rinse out any green/tan material from the end of the tail (it is the liver) and the dark vein that runs down the center back of the tail (the intestine).  If there is a hard red substance at the tip of the tail, save this (it is the roe from a female lobster) Break the large claws and remove the meat to a bowl.  Do the same with the claws and the tail.  If not making the dish immediately, place bowl of lobster meat covered tightly with plastic wrap in the refrigerator. (This can be done through step   a day or two ahead.)
  3. Place the shells from the claws, knuckles and tail along with any roe you have saved in the pot with the steaming water .  Add the small legs from the lobster bodies (you can also add the bodies if you remove the heads, but this may be too much effort for the small increase in flavor that results), as well as 2 quarts of water and 1/2 to 1 t. of salt and bring to a boil.  Boil the shells covered for 15-20 minutes to extract their flavor.  At the end of that time, remove the cover, take out and discard the shells and allow the liquid to reduce by at least 1/4 and up to 1/2.  You will have more lobster stock than you need, but it is great as the basis for any seafood or fish soup or chowder and can be frozen for later use.
  4. Remove the lobster stock from the pot reserving about 1/2 cup for use in this recipe, and clean out the pot to cook the pasta.
  5. Bring the pasta pot filled with clean salted, water to a boil over medium high heat.  While the water is boiling, remove the lobster meat from the refrigerator, if necessary.
  6. If using fresh peas, at the same time bring a smaller pot of water to boil over medium high heat.  When boiling, add the peas and cook for 2-3 minutes until just barely tender.  Remove and set aside.  If using frozen peas, remove from the freezer allow to begin to thaw on the counter.
  7. Cook the pasta according to package directions and drain immediately when it is al dente.
  8. Place 1 T. of olive oil in the warm pasta pot and return the pasta to the pot.  Add the reserved lobster stock, cooked lobster meat, fresh or frozen peas and stir to combine.
  9.  Turn the heat to medium low, just to warm everything through.  This should take 2-3 minutes.
  10. Add the cream, 3 T. of grated parmigian and the black pepper and stir to throughly coat the pasta and lobster.
  11. Serve garnished with pea sprouts tor tendrils, if using, and more parmigian.

 

 

Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

This soup is fabulous for fall or winter, but really can be served in any season as long as you can get good quality butternut squash. We had it recently as spring is turning to summer and with a bit of heat from curry powder and some naan and salad on the side, it fit the bill nicely. The spices in this can be changed to suit a number of different cuisines–Mexican chili could replace the curry, for example, and sour cream and minced jalapeno could replace the yogurt and mustard seeds.

INGREDIENTS:

1 medium to large butternut squash

1 large or two small sweet potatoes

1 T. neutral oil (such as canola) or olive oil, if you prefer the taste

1 small to medium onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 quart low-sodium chicken stock (the best I have found is 365 brand from Whole Foods)

2 t. curry powder

1 t. cumin (optional)

cayenne to taste (depending on how hot the curry powder, and how spicy you like your soup)

salt and pepper, to taste

Greek yogurt and mustard seeds, optional for garnish

 

PREPARATION:

  1. Peel and remove the seeds from the squash and cut into chunks of about 1″.
  2. Heat oil over medium low heat in a pot large enough to comfortably hold the squash and sweet potatoes, add the onion and cook until translucent.
  3. While the onion is cooking, peel and cut the sweet potato into 1″ chunks (sweet potatoes can discolor so it is best to cut them shortly before adding to the pot).
  4. When the onion is wilted and translucent, add the garlic, curry powder, cumin (if using) and cayenne and sauté, stirring, for a minute or so.
  5. Add the butternut squash and sweet potatoes to the pot, giving it a quick stir.
  6. Pour 3/4 of the chicken stock into the pot and increase the heat to medium high until the contents come to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the squash and potatoes are tender.
  7. Puree the soup with a stick blender or in a blender or food processor, until very smooth.
  8. Return the soup to the pot if not using a stick blender,.
  9. Taste for salt and pepper and add more chicken stock if the soup is too thick.
  10. The soup can be chilled and will keep in the fridge for up to three days.
  11. When ready to serve, reheat and top with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkling of mustard seeds.

Crispy Scallion Pancakes

Scallion pancakes are always one of my favorite things to order at Chinese restaurants, but while some are really wonderful, others can be greasy and heavy.  It seemed like a good idea to learn to make them myself so there would be reasonable quality control.  After testing several recipes, this one is a hybrid of several (especially the blogs seriouseats and the kitchn) with technique from Cook’s Illustrated thrown in.

This recipe will make four pancakes,  if that is more than you want, see the note in teh recipe about refrigerating half the dough for later use.

Photo:  courtesy of Sarah

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of scallions (mainly green part sliced thinly across)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour (with extra for rolling)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2-3 t Sesame oil
  • 2-3 T oil for frying – I recommend canola or peanut oil
  • salt

Instructions

  • In a bowl, mix the flour and boiling hot water until it forms  a smooth dough (stir with wooden spoon, this will take a little while and it is key that the water be really hot)
  • Remove the dough from bowl, on a lightly floured board or counter fold it over on self a few times to get it really smooth
  • Put the dough back in the bowl (as long as it is relatively clean), cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to rest for at least 30 minutes
  • After the dough has rested, divide it into 4 pieces and roll each piece into a ball (NOTE:  or divide in half and put half in the fridge wrapped tightly in plastic wrap for up to 5 days)
  • For each ball, roll out on a lightly floured surface into a circle that measures 8 inches across (use a ruler), and paint a very, very thin layer of sesame oil on top of the circle
  • Roll the dough up like you are making a jelly roll (thinner at the ends), then twist the roll into a spiral
  • Smack the spiral with your hand to flatten it a little
  • Roll the dough out to 8 inches a second time
  • Paint again with sesame oil
  • Sprinkle with scallions (1/3-1/2 cup of scallions per pancake)
  • Roll and twist the dough into a spiral again, and again lightly smack it
  • Roll it out one final time into a 7 inch round disc.  This is the final.
  • Heat the canola or peanut oil in a nonstick pan (cast iron is best but not necessary) until it is shimmering
  • Carefully slip the pancake into the pan
  • Gently shake the pan to avoid sticking and so the pancake browns evenly
  • After 2-3 minutes – if its really brown and crusty- flip it over
  • Repeat on the other side
  • Remove the pancake from the pan and drain on paper towels.  While pancakes are hot, sprinkle with salt.

NOTE:  The white part of the scallions can be chopped and combined with soy sauce and mirin for a simple dipping sauce.

Frittata

This recipe is one of the easiest to make, is almost infinitely adaptable, and is just as good for dinner as it is for breakfast or brunch. You can even treat it like a pizza and put one set of fillings on one half and a different on the other.  It is best made in a cast iron pan but, if you don’t have a very well seasoned one, any pan that go in the oven as well as on top of the stove will do.

Serves 4 (you can cut it in half, but the leftovers are good for several days so why not amke the whole thing).

INGREDIENTS:

8 large eggs

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 t. salt

1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper

2 T. olive oil

2-3 T. grated parmigian cheese

Fillings of your choice, they should equal about 2 cups and should be precooked.  Some good combinations are:

  • sautéed onions, mushrooms, and asparagus
  • sautéed onions and garlic, chopped roasted red peppers, shredded cheddar or Monterey jack cheese
  • smoked salmon finely chopped, sautéed onions and creme fraiche
  • cooked (and drained) spinach and prosciutto

PREPARATION:

  1.  Cook all the fillings that are raw in advance of making the frittata and, if they are wet (like spinach or mu=shrooms) drain them well.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Beat the eggs,.milk, salt and pepper together in a bowl
  4. Heat a fry pan that can go in the oven over medium heat and then add the olive oil (you will need it all to keep the frittata from sticking).
  5. Pour the eggs into the pan and allow to cook for just a minute or so to set the bottom
  6. Add the fillings and gently press into the frittata.
  7. Cook until the edges are just set and starting to change color (4 to 5 minutes – see picture above)
  8. Sprinkle the grated parmigian over the top of the frittata and place on a middle or upper shelf in the oven.
  9. Cook for 10-15 minutes until the frittata is fully set.
  10. Allow to cool for 5 minutes or more before slicing and serving.

 

Hot and Sour Soup

I love how recipes pass from person to person, often with some tinkering to take into account personal preferences or regional ingredients.  This recipe, as I understand it, came from 101 Easy Asian recipes and began with Joanne Chang (one of my favorite chefs).  It was then adapted by the Smitten Kitchen blog.  That is where I found it and Kate and I adapted it further last week to suit our own tastes.  It is  one of the best hot and sour soups I have ever had–clean and bright tasting! It is also an amazingly easy and quick soup to put together, making it truly perfect for a weeknight meal when time is short.  Rice or veggies as a side would be all you would need to make the meal complete.

Serves 4.

INGREDIENTS:

2 T. canola oil

1/2 lb. ground pork

1 T. minced garlic

1 T. minced fresh ginger

1/2 cup sliced scallions

5-6 shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thinly

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (the 365 brand from Whole Foods is the one we use)

1/4 pound (about 1/3 of a typical package) of firm (not extra firm) tofu, cut into small dice

1/3 cup rice wine vinegar

3 T. soy sauce

1 t. sugar

1 t. black pepper

1 t. sesame oil (preferably toasted)

1 T. Sriracha (or the hot sauce of your choice)

2 eggs, beaten

6-8 pea pods sliced thinly on the bias

a handful of pea shoots or microgreens, washed (definitely optional)

PREPARATION:

  1.  In a saucepan (or pan with straight sides that is deep enough to hold soup), heat the oil over medium heat and add the ground pork breaking up with a spoon, then the garlic,  ginger and scallions and cook, stirring frequently until the pork is fully cooked and the garlic and ginger are fragrant (3-5 minutes).
  2. Add the chicken broth, mushrooms, tofu, vinegar, soy sauce,  sugar, pepper, sesame oil and Sriracha and bring to a simmer.
  3. Check the seasonings and add more soy sauce or pepper if needed (extra Sriracha or hot sauce can be served on the table).
  4. Stir constantly while slowly drizzling the eggs into the soup (it helps to have two people for this step) and cook until the eggs coalesce into small distinct strands (this happens in just a minute or so).
  5. Top with the pea pods slices and pea shoots or microgreens, if using, and serve.
  6. Extra Sriracha and soy sauce are good to have as condiments on the table.