Archive for June, 2007

Let Me See Your Tongs…

Friday, June 29th, 2007

The next best thing to an opposable thumb. Tongs cost around $3 in a restaurant supply store, and they’re indispensable for turning scallops or chicken or sausages or anything relatively sturdy you happen to be sauteing, for tossing salads, for extracting bay leaves, etc, etc etc. When I’m cooking in someone else’s kitchen, tongs are usually the utensil I’m most jonesing for (unless the knives are dull and there’s no sharpener.) Get yourself some tongs, friends, you’ll be super psyched!

June Farmer’s Market Supper

Monday, June 25th, 2007

Carmelized Scallops, Sugar Snap Peas with Mint, and Roasted Beet Salad

The McCarren Park Farmer’s Market is starting to get exciting! The fish guys have been here for a few weeks (although sadly, no weakfish), but now my favorite weird vegetable guy is back, along with stalwarts RonnyBrook Farm, RedJacket Orchard and Dines Farms, among others. To celebrate, I made a super-plain, super-fresh dinner of fresh vegetables, herbs, and scallops.

If you want to make everything, the beets take about 1 1/2 hours, so start them first, then do the prep and cook the scallops and peas once the beets are finished roasting.

For Beets

1 bunch small- to medium-sized beets, greens and tips trimmed off
3 tbsp chopped chives
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp walnut or olive oil
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Wrap beets individually in aluminium foil. Roast 1+ hours. When beets are done, a knife should pierce them easily. Remove beets from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Remove skins, and cut into regular cubes. Dress in remaining ingredients.

For Scallops

10 large sea scallops, muscle removed (the little tough bit stuck to the side)
1/2 tbsp butter
kosher salt
pepper
1/3 cup white wine
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 lemon

Heat a heavy-bottomed medium-large size saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add half the butter to the pan, and swirl to coat the surface. Place scallops in the pan on one flat end, in order from largest to smallest (so that the larger scallops cook for slightly longer.) Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Do not shake the pan or move the scallops in any way for 2 minutes, then carefully turn them over (tongs are the best scallop turner,) sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook for another two minutes. Remove scallops to a warm plate, add the remaining butter, and cook the garlic in the butter for 30 seconds until just barely beginning to turn golden. Add wine and swirl over the bottom of the pan to deglaze, then use a rubber spatula to bring up any bits of scallop or friedness. Reduce to about two tbsp, and spoon over scallops before serving. Serve with lemon wedge.

For Peas

1/2 lb fresh sugar snap peas
1 tsp butter
1 bunch purple scallions, cut into julienne
a good handful of mint leaves, pulled from their stems and cut into chiffonade
salt

Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add peas and saute for several minutes, until the peas turn bright green and lose any trace of “uncooked” taste. Just as they’re finishing, add scallions and mint and saute for about 30 more seconds until scallions lose their sharpness. Remove from heat and add salt to taste.

Serves 2.

Mediterranean Salad

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

Kind of like a Greek salad. I assembled it on a platter surrounded by triangles of toasted pita bread, and served hummus on the side.

For Salad

4 cups washed and well-dried mesclun mix
1/2 cucumber, washed with soap and water, dried, 1/2 peeled in alternating stripes, and sliced 1/8 inch thick
1 ripe medium tomato, diced
20 medium-large mint leaves, washed, dried, and cut into chiffonade
12 kalamata olives
1/3 cup toasted Marcona almonds*
1/2 cup creamy Israeli feta, cubed

For Dressing

1 clove garlic, pressed
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp rice vinegar
3 tbsp snipped chives

2 tbsp olive oil

For Finishing

Maldon Sea Salt

Layer the salad ingredients in a platter or bowl. In a bowl, combine the garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, and chives. Whisk with a fork while gradually drizzling in olive oil. Pour dressing evenly over salad, sprinkle with salt, and serve immediately. You can either toss or just serve in vertical sections.
Serves 2.
* Marcona almonds are a Spanish variety of almond with a slightly richer taste, somewhat like a Macadamia nut.

Strawberry Mint Margarita

Monday, June 18th, 2007

After working through several weekends only to spend my first weekend off having a hot, sweaty, dusty stoop sale, refreshing tasty beverages were in order. I had some beautiful deep red farmer’s market strawberries macerating with mint left over from topping a coconut tapioca pudding the night before, which made the perfect fruity base for a frozen margarita. Approximately something like this:

Combine 1 pint washed, hulled, and sliced fresh ripe strawberries, 4 tbsp agave nectar*, and 4 tbsp mint leaves. (Be sure to wash and dry the mint leaves.) Allow to macerate at least 5 minutes, or overnight. Fill a blender about 2/3 full of ice cubes. Add 1 cup tequila, 1/3 cup triple sec, juice of one lime, and strawberry mixture, and blend on high for several seconds until ice is pulverized and ingredients are combined thoroughly. Divide between 4 medium glasses and garnish with fresh mint leaves.

Serves 4.

*I love the idea of using agave nectar for this recipe, since it comes from the same cactus that tequila is made from. Even though it’s pricey, it’s sweet and tasty and has a low enough glycemic index that it’s approved for diabetics, which means it’s better for the rest of us too.

Mustard Panko Chicken

Monday, June 11th, 2007


Julia Child was on to something with this recipe for Chicken Broiled with Mustard, Herbs, and Breadcrumbs, although the multi-step broiling process seems too complicated for what could just be a tasty thing to cook after work on a weeknight. We like it with sauteed kale or a green salad and mashed sweet potatoes, although when I made it the other night I had half a loaf of olive bread from Bouley Bakery left over and going stale which I turned into a panzanella with olives, tomatoes, some creamy Israeli feta, basil, and pine nuts. It’s great either with homemade breadcrumbs or panko, and, as Julia suggests, the perfect wine to drink is a rosé.

8 chicken thighs, boneless or with bones
4 tbsp melted butter
1/3 cup dijon mustard (not the grainy kind)
2-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup panko or homemade breadcrumbs
1 tsp dried thyme or tarragon
1 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375°. In a small bowl, combine butter , mustard, and garlic. In another small bowl, combine panko, dried thyme or tarragon, salt, and pepper. Coat the chicken pieces thoroughly but lightly with the mustard-butter combination, then with the panko-or-breadcrumb mixture. Place in a baking dish that is big enough so that none of the pieces are touching, and bake until done. This should be about 25-30 minutes for boneless pieces and about 10 minutes longer with bones.

Black Bean Salad

Sunday, June 3rd, 2007

This is a classic Southwest-flavored recipe, but the proportions here worked out particularly well — the results were zesty, colorful, smoky, and tangy. It’s a great easy no-cook side for anything grilled. Be sure to rinse the beans very well, and to wash and thoroughly dry the other ingredients, particularly the scallions and cilantro, since those have nooks and crannies where creepy germs can hang out.

2 cans black beans (or a combination of black beans, chick peas, black eyed peas, etc)

2 ears of corn, kernels sliced off the cobs

1 bunch scallions, green stems removed and chopped fine

1 red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, diced

½ bunch cilantro, washed thoroughly and chopped fine

1 lime

1 tsp cumin powder

3 tbsp red wine vinegar

3-4 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp chipotle pepper sauce

Salt to taste

 

In a medium bowl, combine black beans, corn, scallions, bell pepper, and cilantro. Zest the lime directly into the bean mixture, then slice the lime in half and squeeze the juice over the top. Add remaining ingredients, taste and adjust.

Garlicky Grilled Shrimp

Saturday, June 2nd, 2007

This is one of my favorite things to throw on the grill in the summertime. They’re super easy to make and they cook in just a few minutes. Great with a hefeweissen or a very cold sancerre.

1 lb large shrimp (large = 15-20 shrimp per lb), shell on but cleaned (“vein” removed)

3-5 cloves garlic, chopped very fine

½ tsp chili flakes

2 tbsp olive oil

½ cup parsley, chopped

½ tsp sea salt

Lemon wedges

 

Combine garlic, chili flakes, olive oil, parsley and salt in a medium bowl. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours. Remove and thread shrimp onto wooden skewers. Be sure to thread the skewers through both ends of the shrimp so they’re stable and won’t spin around on the skewers.

 

Prepare a medium-hot grill. Grill shrimp approximately 3-4 minutes on each side, until pink and shells begin to char. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Serves 4.