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Dream Bowl

I found this recipe in the February 2015 issue of Bon Appetit and couldn’t wait to make my own Dream Bowl creation.  Rather than a traditional recipe, this is more of a guideline to help you create the concoction that best suites you and your flavor profile.  Below is the breakdown with suggestions and ingredients to consider.  I roasted my sweet potato and butternut squash in harissa and loved the flavor it added.  A little spicy but not too much.  Enjoy!

The Base
What’s even better than a bed of delicious cooked grains? A duo! We like black rice with red quinoa, farro with red rice, bulgur with freekeh, or spelt with lentils (okay, so that’s a legume—see how crazy this can get?).

The Greens
Before you prep the other toppings, thinly slice heartier greens—e.g., kale, collards, savoy cabbage—then toss with apple cider vinegar to moisten and give them a few squeezes. They’ll be tenderized by the time you’re ready to assemble the bowl.

The Crunch
For an alt-crouton experience, toast a mix of nuts and seeds, such as sunflower and hemp with some fennel, in olive oil until golden and crisp, then season with salt and pepper. Bonus: Now you’ve got flavorful oil to work with, too. (Read on.)

The Upgrades
1. Use the leftover seed-toasting oil to griddle some sliced Halloumi cheese (our new favorite—don’t tell feta). 2. Dress up your grains with a generous handful of tender chopped herbs, such as mint, parsley, chives, and fennel fronds.

The Roast
For the ideal crispy-creamy balance, cut winter squash, carrots, or sweet potatoes into bite-size pieces, then toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and a dab or two of harissa or a shake of curry powder. Roast at 425° until tender.

The Dressing
Bold is better. For our Turmeric-Tahini Sauce, whisk together 1/4 cup tahini, 3 T fresh lemon juice, 2 T olive oil, 1/2 tsp ground turmeric, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, and 1/4 cup water until smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste of course.   Pour liberally on pretty much everything.

Bonus Tip
Don’t toss—at least not before admiring your work. Separating the components lets you design perfect bite after perfect bite.

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Squid Ink Pasta with Shrimp, Nduja and Tomato

Recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit • March 2015

If you get Bon Appetit or happened to see the most recent issue on the newsstand you saw the same food porn I did.  It was enough for me to race to the store in search of nduja this past weekend in hopes that I could make this gorgeous dish.  Lucky for me, my local grocery store just happened to get some in last week!  This dish is absolutely stunning presentation wise and flavor wise.  The black squid ink pasta is so sexy nestled in a white dish and the chopped up shrimp make each bite complete.  The fresh lemon juice is the perfect compliment to the otherwise hearty and meaty pasta and really does a great job brightening the dish as a whole.  I am dying to make this again and will be sure to call my grocery store to ensure they have nduja ahead of time to avoid disappointment.

4 SERVINGS

Ingredients

  • 1 pound large head-on or shell-on shrimp
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 6 garlic cloves, divided, 2 smashed, 4 thinly sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup tomato passata or puréed whole peeled tomatoes
  • 4 ounces nduja*
  • Kosher salt
  • 12 ounces squid ink linguine
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley, plus more for serving
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

Peel and devein shrimp, saving heads and/or shells. Finely chop shrimp; set aside. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high and cook smashed garlic, stirring, until golden, about 1 minute. Add reserved shrimp heads and/or shells and cook, stirring, until bright pink, about 2 minutes. Add bay leaf and 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until stock is slightly reduced and flavorful, 8–10 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl; discard solids.

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Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add sliced garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove skillet from heat and carefully add tomatoes and 1 cup stock (mixture may sputter). Return to heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is beginning to thicken, about 3 minutes. Add nduja, using a wooden spoon to work it into the sauce. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until flavors have melded, about 3 minutes. Stir in reserved shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until opaque, about 2 minutes.
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Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente (pasta will still be opaque and very firm in the center). Drain pasta, reserving 1½ cups pasta cooking liquid.

Add pasta and 1 cup pasta cooking liquid to sauce and cook, tossing often and adding more cooking liquid to help finish cooking pasta, until pasta is al dente and sauce is thickened (but still saucy) and coats pasta, about 5 minutes. Add lemon juice and ¼ cup parsley; toss. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve pasta topped with more parsley.

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Do Ahead: Stock can be made 1 day ahead. Let cool; cover and chill. Wrap tightly and chill shrimp separately.

*The recipe says you can substitute an extra glug of olive oil and some red pepper flakes if you can’t find nduja but I wouldn’t recommend that.  I think the nduja is the key ingredient to this dish and without it, the end result would be extremely different.

**Places to buy nduja online – Zingerman’s and Boccalone

Joe Jack’s Red Snapper

I blogged about Joe Jack’s Fish Shack in Puerto Vallarta because of this dish.  Every time I go down there this is #1 on my list of things to eat.  It’s so fresh, full of flavor and light at the same time.  Hands down one of my favorite dishes and now I have the recipe for myself thanks to the oh-so-friendly owner who had no hesitation in giving it to me the last time I was down there (thank you!).  And now I’m sharing it with you!

Each fish serves about 2

Ingredients

  • 1.5 -2 lb red snapper or other whole fish (scaled and gutted, very important)
  • 1-2 teaspoons of “huacho salt”
  • 4 Tablespoons of slivered garlic olive oil
  • 5-8 cloves of garlic poached in butter
  • 5-7 whole dry chile de arbol
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice

Huacho salt

  • 2 Tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 2 Tablespoons whole black pepper
  • 5 ea. Clove
  • 1 stick cinnamon (broken)
  • 4 chile de arbol (seeds o.k.)
  • 12 Tablespoons kosher or sea salt

yields about 1 ½ cups

Directions

Huacho Salt:

Toast all spices except salt and black peppercorns in a sauté pan on very low heat until smoking. Let cool and add black peppercorns. Grind in a spice grinder (coffee grinder) or blender or morder and pestle. Combine with the salt.

You can save and use this on anything. It will add a great interesting flavor to anything you can imagine.

Poached garlic:

IMG_6782To poach the garlic, slowly heat butter (enough to cover) and garlic cloves until cloves  just give to the touch. You can do more of this as well and just keep it in the fridge to use later in the week, but not too long as it will get rancid.

Whole Red Snapper:

IMG_6787Score the fish three or four times (or more if its bigger fish) on each side and liberally season with the salt mixture. Liberally douse the fish with the slivered garlic oil on one side and place on a medium temperature griddle or grill or large sauté pan or even a baking dish (preheat oven to 425˚F if using oven method), again liberally slather the top side with the same.  (feel free to stuff the fish with garden herbs and lemon or lime and if it’s a bigger fish also liberally salt the inside of cavity as well)

Place on griddle or grill or sauté pan on one side and cover. If its in an oven do not cover (cook for approx. 30 mins, 15 mins on each side or when done).

When fish is about half done on topside, flip the fish to the other side and cover again.

When the “new” topside is just cooked or rather almost cooked to the bone (the scores let you peek). You are pretty assured that the downside is also done.

Note:  an important thing to remember is that over cooked fish is way worse than under cooked fish. Most likely the residual heat from the cooking, will continue cooking the fish at the bone.

Place the fish on a serving platter.

IMG_6794In a separate hot sauté pan, put in the butter and poached garlic, a pinch of salt, and four or five more whole chilies. When the butter starts to brown, add the lime juice, and pour it all over the fish.  Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves, lime halves, and serve with fresh tortillas and beans and rice.

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Quinoa and Pistachios

I was given this recipe by my trainer and nutritionist – Breanne Curran at the Magnuson Athletic Club – and served it the other night to my girlfriends as a healthy dinner option for the night after Thanksgiving.  It’s hearty and filling while at the same time “light”.  She recommends subbing the feta with nutritional yeast (mild, nutty flavor) for those that are vegans.

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 4 small acorn squash, halved and seeds removed
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup feta, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup roasted, salted pistachios, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar
  • Pinch red-pepper flakes

Directions

Heat oven to 425ª F.  Brush squash with 2 tablespoons oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast cut side down on two baking sheets until tender and caramelized, 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring quinoa and 2 cups water to boil in a small pot.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until tender and water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.  OR – cook quinoa in a rice cooker according to directions.  Let cool, then fluff with a fork.  In a large bowl, combine quinoa, parsley, feta, pistachios, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, and vinegar.  Season with salt and red-pepper flakes.  Divide filling among squash and serve.

 

Pancetta, White Bean and Swiss Chard Pot Pies


From The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

One of the food blogs I love to follow is the Smitten Kitchen.  If you’re not familiar with it be sure to check it out.  Written by Deb Perelman, a wife and mother of one, she manages to make incredible food out of her teenie NYC apt which is even more inspiring!   I recently came across this incredibly delicious comforting winter recipe and couldn’t wait to make it.  It was unanimously a hit and I’m looking forward to making it again…possibly with some sausage added to make it even more hearty.  You can easily omit the pancetta to make it vegetarian.

Serves 4

Lid

  • 2 cups (250 grams) all- purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 13 tablespoons (185 grams or 1 stick plus 5 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 6 tablespoons (90 grams) sour cream or whole Greek yogurt (i.e., a strained 
yogurt)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) ice water
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

Filling

  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
  • 4 ounces (115 grams or 3/4 to 1 cup) 1/4-inch-diced pancetta
  • 1 large or 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 large stalk celery, finely chopped
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Thinly sliced Swiss chard leaves from an 8- to 10-ounce (225- to 285-gram)
 bundle (4 cups); if leaves are very wide, you can halve them lengthwise
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons (50 grams) butter
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons (25 grams) all- purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 cups (765 ml) sodium- free or low- sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups white beans, cooked and drained, or from one and a third 15.5- ounce 
(440-gram) cans

Make lids:

In a large, wide bowl (preferably one that you can get your hands into), combine the flour and salt. Add the butter and, using a pastry blender or your fingertips, cut them up and into the flour mixture until it resembles little pebbles. Keep breaking up the bits of butter until the texture is like uncooked couscous.

In a small dish, whisk together the sour cream, vinegar, and water, and combine it with the butter-flour mixture. Using a flexible spatula, stir the wet and the dry together until a craggy dough forms. If needed, get your hands into the bowl to knead it a few times into one big ball. Pat it into a flattish ball, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill it in the fridge for 1 hour or up to 2 days.

Make filling:

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium- high heat in a large, wide saucepan, and then add the pancetta. Brown the pancetta, turning it frequently, so that it colors and crisps on all sides; this takes about 10 minutes. Remove it with a slotted spoon, and drain it on paper towels before transferring to a medium bowl. Leave the heat on and the renderings in the pan. Add an additional tablespoon of olive oil if needed and heat it until it is shimmering. Add onions, carrot, celery, red pepper flakes, and a few pinches of salt, and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are softened and begin to take on color, about 7 to 8 minutes.

Add the garlic, and cook for 1 minute more. Add the greens and cook until wilted, about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with the additional salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Transfer all of the cooked vegetables to the bowl with the pancetta, and set aside.

Make sauce:

Wipe out the large saucepan; don’t worry if any bits remain stuck to the bottom. Then melt the butter in the saucepan over medium- low heat. Add the flour, and stir with a whisk until combined. Continue cooking for 2 minutes, stirring the whole time, until it begins to take on a little color. Whisk in the broth, one ladleful at a time, mixing completely between additions. Once you’ve added one- third of the broth, you can begin to add the rest more quickly, two to three ladlefuls at a time; at this point you can scrape up any bits that were stuck to the bottom — they’ll add great flavor.

Once all of the broth is added, stirring the whole time, bring the mixture to a boil and reduce it to a simmer. Cook the sauce until it is thickened and gravylike, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir the white beans and reserved vegetables into the sauce.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Assemble and cook pot pies:

Divide the filling between four ovenproof 2-cup bowls. (You’ll have about 1 1/2 cups filling in each.) Set the bowls on a baking pan.

Divide the dough into four pieces, and roll it out into rounds that will cover your bowls with an overhang, or about 1 inch wider in diameter than your bowls. Whisk the egg wash and brush it lightly around the top rim of your bowls (to keep the lid glued on; nobody likes losing their lid!) and drape the pastry over each, pressing gently to adhere it. Brush the lids with egg wash, then cut decorative vents (small as they led to lots of draping) in each to help steam escape.

Bake until crust is lightly bronzed and filling is bubbling, about 30 to 35 minutes.

Do ahead:

The dough, wrapped twice in plastic wrap and slipped into a freezer bag, will keep for up to 2 days in the fridge, and for a couple months in the freezer. The filling can be made up to a day in advance and stored in a covered container in the fridge.

Saag Paneer

I came across this particular recipe in the September & October 2012 issue of Cook’s Illustrated.  I’ve been on an Indian kick lately and for some reason was craving this for dinner.  I’ve made a different version of it before and found it to be pretty simple and straight forward.  Paneer cheese is honestly THE easiest cheese I’ve ever made.  Anyone can do it!  Just be sure to watch your pot and avoid scorching the bottom of it (like I did this time around which took many washes to finally come clean and look somewhat normal).  This dish is perfect over basmati rice with some warmed up naan on the side.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

Cheese (Paneer)

  • 3 quarts whole milk
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon salt

Spinach Sauce (Saag)

  • 1 (10 ounce) bag curly-leaf spinach, rinsed
  • 3/4 lb mustard greens, stemmed and rinsed
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 jalapeño chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained and chopped coarse
  • 1/2 cup roasted cashews, chopped coarse
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Cheese

Line a colander with a triple layer of cheesecloth and set in sink.  Bring milk to a boil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.

Whisk in buttermilk and salt, turn off heat, and let stand for 1 minute.  Pour milk mixture through cheesecloth and let curds drain for 15 minutes.

Pull edges of cheesecloth together to form pouch.

Twist edges of cheesecloth together, firmly squeezing out as much liquid as possible from cheese curds.  Place taut, twisted cheese pouch between 2 large plates and weigh down top plates with heavy Dutch oven.  Set aside at room temperature until cheese is firm and set, at least 45 minutes.

Remove cheesecloth and cut cheese into 1/2-inch pieces.  (Left uncut, cheese can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days.)

Spinach Sauce

Place spinach in large microwave-safe bowl, cover, and microwave until wilted, about 3 minutes.  When cool enough to handle, chop enough spinach to measure 1/3 cup and set aside.  Transfer remaining spinach to blender and wipe out bowl.  Place mustard greens in now-empty bowl, cover, and microwave until wilted, about 4 minutes.  When cool enough to handle, chop enough mustard greens to measure 1/3 cup and transfer to bowl with chopped spinach.  Transfer remaining mustard greens to blender.

Meanwhile, melt butter in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.  Add cumin seeds, coriander, paprika, cardamom, and cinnamon and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add onion and 3/4 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3 minutes.

Add garlic, ginger, and jalapeño; cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned and just beginning to stick to pan, 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir in tomatoes and cook mixture until pan is dry and tomatoes are beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes.  Remove skillet from heat.

Transfer half of onion mixture to blender with greens.  Add half of cashews and water; process until smooth, about 1 minute.  Return purée to skillet.

Return skillet to medium-high heat, stir in chopped greens and buttermilk, and bring to a simmer.

Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until flavors have blended, 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Gently fold in cheese cubes and cook until just heated through, 1 to 2 minutes.

Transfer to serving dish, sprinkle with remaining cashews and cilantro, and serve.

Oven-baked Spicy Brussels Sprouts Crumble and Sour Cream Curry

I was in need of a good vegetable side to serve with my Baked Fish recipe that I was serving to friends  for dinner and came across this recipe in my Vij’s At Home cookbook and have now found a new favorite.  It’s a fairly simple recipe and doesn’t require too much time or focus (which is a plus when multi-tasking in the kitchen:)).  While the Brussels sprouts are baking, start the curry and voila!  You’ve got yourself a damn tasty side dish that everyone’s going to want seconds of!

Serves 6

Ingredients

Baked Brussels Sprouts

  • 1 1/2 lbs Brussels sprouts, cut in 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp crushed cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 2 tsp mango powder (I couldn’t find this in my local grocery store so I omitted it)
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil

Sour Cream Curry

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup cooking oil
  • 1 cup  chopped onion (1 medium)
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped garlic (6 medium cloves)
  • 2 cups puréed tomatoes (4 medium, or canned is fine, but not crushed)
  • 2 Tbsp ground yellow mustard seeds (optional0
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp garam masala or ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground fenugreek seeds (optional)
  • 3 1/2 cups water

Directions

Baked Brussels Sprouts

Preheat the oven to 400ªF.

On a large baking tray, toss Brussels sprouts with cumin, salt, cayenne, mango powder and oil.  Bake for 15 minutes, carefully stirring them once after 6 minutes.  (The spices should be cooked and the Brussels sprouts slightly dry but not wilted.)  Remove from the oven and set aside.

Sour Cream Curry

In a medium bowl, combine sour cream and buttermilk.  Set aside.

Heat oil in a medium pot on medium-high for 45 seconds.  Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes, or until golden brown.  Add garlic and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, or until garlic is also golden brown.  Stir in tomatoes, mustard seeds, cayenne, salt, garam masala (or cumin) and fenugreek seeds and sauté for 5 minutes, or until oil glistens on top.  Stir water and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.

To prevent curdling, spoon about 3 Tbsp of the hot curry into the sour cream-buttermilk mixture.  Stir well, then pour the sour cream-buttermilk mixture into the pot of curry.  Using a whisk, mix well and simmer, stirring continuously, for 5 minutes, or until the curry reaches a gentle boil.  Remove from the heat.

Top baked Brussels sprouts with sour cream curry and serve immediately.

*Serve this dish with bread or on top of a 2-inch cube of paneer per serving.

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