Archive for the ‘Vegetables/potatoes/rice’ category

Asparagus risotto

July 18, 2020

This requires constant attention but the results are worth it! It makes a luxurious side dish for many poultry and meat dishes–or just on it’s own! It is vegetarian if you use vegetable stock.

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1 lb asparagus, thin spears (~1/2 inch) preferred
2 c arborio or carnaroli rice (do not wash)
¼ c finely chopped shallots or onion
3 c (about) meat, chicken, or vegetable stock
3 TB butter, divided
2 TB vegetable oil
1/3 c grated parmesan cheese
Black pepper

Trim an inch or so off the butt end of the asparagus—this part is often fibrous. Cut the remaining stems into 3 pieces and set the tips aside.

Bring 3 c of salted water to a boil. Add the stem pieces, cook for a couple of minutes, then add the tips. When done to your liking, drain and reserve the cooking liquid. Rinse under cold water and set aside.

Add stock to the asparagus liquid to make a total of 6 c. Put in a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer.

In a 2 quart heavy-bottomed saucepan, put 1 TB of butter and the oil. Put over medium heat and sauté the shallots for a couple of minutes—they should not brown. Add the rice and stir to coat. Continue to stir for a minute or two and then start adding the stock, about 1/2 c at a time. Stir continuously until the liquid is almost gone. Add another ½ c of stock and continue in this manner until you have used all the liquid. Remove from the heat, stir in the cheese and some pepper. Check for salt and add some if needed, which you probably won’t. Add the asparagus, cover and let sit for a few minutes. Ready to serve!

Zucchini with anchovy sauce

July 1, 2020

Don’t let the mention of anchovies scare you off. The small amount in this recipe adds a wonderful depth and umami flavor to the sauce. Serve on long pasta, spaghetti is ideal.

4-6 small zucchini or yellow summer squash, 6-8 inches long
4 flat anchovy fillets, chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled, 1 clove minced, 2 cloves sliced into thirds
½ c olive oil
1-28 oz can diced tomatoes, or canned whole tomatoes cut up, with juice
1 pound spaghetti
Parmesan or Romano cheese

Serves 4

Cut the stem off the squash and then cut each crosswise into 3 pieces. Stand each piece on end and make 2 vertical cuts to give you 4 wedges. Put into a colander, sprinkle with 2 tsp salt, and mix. Set aside for at least an hour.

Put minced garlic in a 2 qt saucepan with 3 TB of the oil. Heat over medium until the garlic is sizzling, then remove from heat. Let the pan cool down to almost room temperature. Put back on the burner at its lowest setting, add the anchovies, and stir/mash with a wooden spoon until the anchovies are reduced to a paste. Add the tomatoes/juice, a few grindings of pepper, and bring to a gentle simmer. Let simmer, partly covered, for 20-30 min until slightly reduced. The sauce may be done ahead of time. Correct salt if needed.

Put a large pan of water on the stove to heat (for the pasta).

While the sauce is cooking, quickly rinse the squash to remove excess salt, drain, and spread on paper towels. Pat with more towels to remove excess moisture. Heat (medium heat) the remaining oil in a non-stick skillet large enough to hold the squash in 1 layer (or use 2 skillets if necessary). Add the sliced garlic and sizzle until browned, a few minutes. Remove and discard the garlic–the idea is to flavor the oil. Add the squash and cook, turning once or twice, until lightly browned and crisp-tender. Turn off heat and leave squash in pan (but don’t let it overcook).

Cook the pasta until al dente and drain. If necessary, reheat the sauce. Put the pasta in the pan with the sauce and mix well. To serve, put ¼ of the pasta on each plate and top with ¼ of the zucchini. Serve with freshly grated cheese.

Mexican red rice

June 2, 2020

This is a staple at Mexican restaurants, plopped on your plate next to the refried beans. But with rare exceptions it is but a pale shadow of what it should be, consisting of little more than tomato-tinged rice. It can be so much more, and it’s not all that difficult. It goes well with many non-Mexican dishes, too. It’s very helpful to have a kitchen scale. This is vegetarian if you use vegetable stock.

2 c long-grained rice, preferably Carolina Gold
1-14 oz can diced or whole tomatoes
1 medium white or yellow onion, peeled and cut into large chunks
5 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
1 or 2 Jalapeño peppers, stemmed and seeded
1/4 c oil
1 c chicken or vegetable stock
3 whole bay leaves
1/2 c frozen peas, thawed

Rinse the rice well and let drain thoroughly.

Drain the tomatoes and save the liquid.

Put the tomato solids, half of the liquid, onion, Jalapeño, and garlic in a blender and zap for 30 sec or so, until fully pureed. Pour into a bowl on your scale–you want 20-21 oz. Either remove some or add reserved tomato juice to get correct weight.

In a heavy bottom soup  pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat and when hot add the rice. Stir until the rice turns a light golden brown, 3-4 min then remove the rice to a bowl. Add the pureed vegetables to the same pot, bring to a simmer, and cook until the raw onion/garlic smell is gone–a few minutes. Add the stock and bay leaves and when simmering add the rice. Stir, cover, and simmer slowly until the liquid is pretty much all absorbed. Turn off heat and add peas. Let sit for 10-20 min then fluff with a fork and it’s ready to serve.

Braised leeks and fennel

May 15, 2020

An easy and tasty side dish that goes with many meals.

2-3 leeks
1-2 fennel bulbs
2 TB butter
1/2 c dry white wine

Cut the whites and light green parts of the leek in half lengthwise and then slice into 1/2-inch pieces. Wash well as leeks tend to accumulate grit. Halve the fennel bulbs and slice thinly. Melt the butter in a 10″ skillet and stir in the vegetables. Cover and cook slowly for 10-15 min. Add the wine and S&P to taste and cook uncovered until the wine is almost all evaporated. Serve hot.

Caramelized onions

April 27, 2020

This is a very useful and tasty ingredient to keep on hand. It freezes perfectly well and can be used in so many ways–in omelets, on pizza, in salads, a topping for steaks and burgers, etc. It’s easy to make although you must be attentive to get good results. The long slow cooking completely removes the hard onion taste and results in a slightly salty, slightly sweet relish with plenty of umami. These freeze perfectly well.

The cooking process reduces the volume by quite a bit, as the photos show. From 2 qts raw onion expect about 1-1/2 c caramelized onions. You’ll need a heavy-bottomed 12 inch skillet with a cover. Allow about 45 minutes for the cooking.

2 quarts yellow or white onions peeled and sliced into thin half-rings
1/4 c butter, olive oil, or a combination
1/2 c water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar

Put all ingredients in the skillet and bring to a moderate simmer. Cover and cook, stirring every few minutes, until most of the water is gone. Uncover, reduce the heat, and continue to cook. Regulate the heat–it will depend on your stove–to maintain a very gentle simmer. The water will soon be gone. Continue a very slow cooking action, stirring about every 5 minutes. The onions will continue to reduce and start to slowly turn brown. This is the danger zone–too-high heat or not enough stirring and the onions will burn, ruining them. Cook until the desired level of brownness is achieved. The photo shows a medium brown but you can cook a bit longer for a deeper brown with more intense flavor.

Hash browns at home

October 8, 2019

A lot of folks, myself included, would think of these as a treat to have when eating breakfast at a diner. But they are so easy to make at home, so why wait? They are a simpler version of the classic Latkes and are a favorite accompaniment to breakfast.

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2 c finely chopped potatoes*
2 TB minced onion (optional)
2 TB bacon fat or vegetable oil (not butter)
3 TB heavy cream (optional)

If using onions, mix with the potatoes. Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet, medium heat. When a speck of potato starts to sizzle, add the potatoes. Use a spatula to shape and press them into a pancake no more than 1/2 inch thick. Let cook, undisturbed, until the bottom is nicely browned, 5-10 minutes. Flip over (easier if you cut the pancake in half first). If using cream, dribble over the potatoes. Continue cooking until the 2nd side is browned. Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.

* about the size of a raw navy bean, or a bit smaller

Eggplant Parmesan

August 9, 2017

Like most simple dishes, this is dependent on highest quality ingredients. If you use pre-grated cheeses your result will be meh. Be sure you have a chunk of fresh, preferably local mozzarella and some real Parmesan (that is, from Italy). Breading and browning the eggplant gives a better taste and texture than simply using the bare eggplant slices.

2 medium size globe eggplant, as fresh as possible.
1 quart best marinara sauce, I like either Nellino’s or Rao’s (see Note 1 below)
10 oz fresh mozzarella
1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan
1 egg
flour
fine dry breadcrumbs
About 2 dozen fresh basil leaves

Peel the eggplant and cut into 1/2 inch slices. Sprinkle with salt and set in a colander for an hour or so. Rinse and pat dry. You can omit the salting step with super-fresh eggplant.

If you did not salt the eggplant, sprinkle with salt; then dredge in flour followed by beaten egg and then crumbs. Brown both sides in 1/8″ of olive oil. You do not have to cook it thru, just a browning.

Working a few at  time, roll the basil leaves tightly and slice thinly (see Note 2 below).

Cut the mozzarella into 1/4 inch slices and then into stick-of-gum sized pieces.

Spread a little sauce in a 12″ square baking pan. Layer half the eggplant, half the basil, half the cheeses,  and half the remaining sauce. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 min until cooked thru and bubbling a bit at the edges. Let sit for 5-10 min before serving.

Note 1: I find some jarred sauces, such as the ones I mention, to be every bit as good as almost all homemade sauces, and better than many. They certainly are convenient! The downside is price – you are not going to get really good sauce for a few bucks a jar.

Note 2: It’s a common misconception that one should tear basil leaves rather than cut them for best flavor. This is not so. If you are interested in the details, click here.

Chick peas with sesame and honey

December 7, 2016

There’s a definite oriental theme to these beans. They are quite strongly flavored and could make a meal on their own. Serve on plain white rice.

2 c dried chick peas (measure when dry) cooked, or 2 – 15 oz cans chick peas
1 medium onion chopped fine
4 large or 6 small garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 c honey
2/3 c soy sauce (Kikkoman is excellent and widely available)
1/4 c toasted sesame oil
1/4 c vegetable oil
2 TB rice wine vinegar
1 TB grated fresh ginger
1 tsp red pepper flakes

Optional garnishes: Toasted sesame seeds and/or thinly sliced scallions

Put all ingredients except chick peas in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes or so, stirring now and then. Add the drained and rinsed chick peas and simmer for another 10-15 minutes. If the sauce seems to be getting too thick, add a bit of water. Serve over white rice.

Kimchee fried rice

May 20, 2016

Kimchee, or spicy pickled cabbage, is a mainstay of the Korean kitchen. At it’s simplest it is chopped nappa cabbage mixed with salt and lots of red pepper and allowed to ferment for a while. It can be bought at Oriental groceries and is also ridiculously easy to make at home (my recipe is here). Combined with Spam it make a very tasty fried rice.

Did I say Spam, that meat-like substance is the square can that is the butt of many culinary jokes? I did indeed. It seems that Spam, a regular part of military rations for many years, has been introduced into the indigenous cuisine of some places where the U.S. had a strong military presence for many years, including Hawaii, the Philippines, and Korea. And it works very well in this dish. Lacking Spam, you can use ham or some other cooked meat.

The best rice for this is short-grained “Japanese” rice. I think of this rice as Japanese because it is the rice typically served in Japanese restaurants and use to make sushi rice. The rice should be rinsed well, cooked, and allowed to cool. Leftover rice that has been in the fridge for a few days is ideal.

Serves 4

1/2 stick butter
1 small onion coarsely chopped
2 c kimchee in about 1 inch pieces
1 c spam or other meat in small (1/4″) dice
4-5 c cooked short grain rice at room temperature
1/4 c kimchee juice or more to taste
1-1/2 TB soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1 TB vegetable oil
4 eggs
Nori and toasted sesame seeds for garnish (see note below)

Melt the butter in a wok or nonstick skillet over medium heat and cook the onion for a few minutes. Add the kimchee and kimchee juice and bring to a simmer. Add the Spam and cook, stirring, until the liquid is almost gone. Add the rice and stir, breaking up any clumps, until the rice is hot and evenly mixed with the other ingredients. Stir in the soy sauce and sesame oil. Reduce heat slightly and let cook, uncovered and undisturbed, while you prepare the eggs. The bottom of the rice will get slightly browned and crispy.

In another skillet, heat the oil and cook the eggs “sunny side up” until the whites are set and the yolk is still runny. Divide the rice among 4 bowls and top each with an egg. Serve with the garnishes on the side.

Note: Nori is roasted seaweed that is perhaps best known for wrapping maki (rolled) sushi. If your nori is a bit stale (not crisp) you can rejuvenate it with heat. On a flat-top range do this directly on the element, on other stoves use a griddle or large skillet. Over medium high heat, use chopsticks or tongs to quickly drag each sheet of nori over the hot surface, both sides. That’s it!

Sesame seeds are tastier if toasted. Simply heat a dry frypan over medium heat, add the seeds in a thin layer, and cook, shaking, until aromatic. Cool and store in an airtight jar for up to a few months.

 

Roasted sweet and spicy squash

November 29, 2015

My favorite squash for this is kabocha, but any orange-fleshed variety should do (acorn, butternut, delicata, etc.). In my experience the skin is perfectly edible although it has a slightly chewier consistency than the flesh.

  • One 2 lb squash, washed, quartered, and cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 2 TB soy sauce
  • 1 TB honey
  • 1 tsp sriracha or similar hot sauce
  • big pinch salt
  • 1/4 c neutral oil (peanut, canola, etc.)
  • 1-2 TB white sesame seeds
  • black pepper
  • cilantro leaves

Heat oven to 450 degrees

In a large bowl, whisk the soy sauce, honey, hot sauce, salt, and oil together.  Add the squash to the bowl, grind some pepper over, and toss to coat. Arrange in one layer on an oiled baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes until soft and starting to brown. While baking, toast the seasame seeds in a small, dry skillet over medium heat, shaking often, until lightly browned. When the squash is done, transfer to a serving bowl, top with the sesame seeds and cilantro, and serve.


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