Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Chicken with Peanut-Lime Sauce

After several weeks off, I'm back participating in the recipe swap hosted by A Taste of Home Cooking.  I received Chicken with Coconut-Lime Peanut Sauce from Mrs. Regueiro's Plate, and was pretty excited to try it out, especially when I saw that it reminded her of chicken satay.  It was in fact pretty delicious, especially with brown rice with some toasted coconut flakes stirred in to soak up the extra sauce.

I did, of course, make some changes.  Since it's summer and I try to use the grill as much as possible to minimize dirty pans and overheated kitchens, I decided to stick with the satay idea and grill skewered chicken after marinating it in some of the sauce.  To adjust to not cooking the sauce, I cut back on the garlic and used scallions instead of onions.  Asparagus wasn't looking so great that week, so crisp sugar snap peas took their place.  Finally, coconut milk isn't very popular in our house, so I kept the coconut flavor to the rice and thinned the sauce using hot water.

Chicken with Peanut-Lime Sauce

What's in it:

3 scallions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ c peanut butter
Juice from 1 lime
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
¼ tsp black pepper
⅛ tsp cinnamon

⅛ tsp ground ginger
⅛ tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp honey

¼-½ c hot water
1 ½ lbs chicken breast, sliced into 1" strips, or chicken tenders

How to make it:

Combine ingredients through honey in a food processor, scraping down the sides if necessary.  With processor running, stream in hot water a little at a time, until your desired consistency is reached.

Combine chicken and half of the sauce and let marinate for at least an hour.

Thread chicken onto metal or soaked wooden skewers, and grill over medium heat until done, about 6-8 minutes.  Serve with reserved sauce for dipping.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Baked Sausage and Bean Ravioli with Spinach Gorgonzola Sauce

I’m terrible at following recipes.  I often start with every intention of following the recipe without changes in methods or making ingredient substitutions, but somehow end up veering off that well-defined path.  I really did plan to make this Orechiette with Sausage, Beans and Mascarpone. 

But by mid-week, I had accumulated some odds and ends in the fridge, and noticed that I hadn’t remembered to buy mascarpone.  And so wonton wrappers leftover from tuna tartare made ravioli seem like an easy alternative to homemade orechiette, and gorgonzola and spinach from Cobb salads and half and half from another pasta dish became a rich sauce to bake them in.  I’m sure the original recipe would have been delicious, but I think this was just as good!

Baked Sausage and Bean Ravioli with Spinach Gorgonzola Sauce
What’s in it:
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
½ lb turkey sausage, casing removed
1 small onion, chopped

1 (15-oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
½ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 c shredded parmesan, divided
36 3½” wonton wrappers
1 egg
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
¼ c white wine
1 c fat free half & half
3 oz crumbled gorgonzola cheese

How to make it:

In a large, heavy skillet warm 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and onions. Using a wooden spoon, break up the sausage into small pieces as it browns. Continue cooking until the sausage is golden and the onions are tender. Add the beans and oregano cook for 2 more minutes, lightly mashing beans. Stir in ½ cup of the parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 350. Whisk the egg with a little water to make an egg wash. Lay half the wonton wrappers on a clean surface, and spoon a scant tablespoon of the sausage-bean mixture into the middle of each, slightly flattening the scoop. Brush all four edges of each pasta square with the egg wash, and lay another wrapper on top, pressing to remove air and seal edges.

Wipe out the pan used to make the ravioli filling. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in the pan, then add garlic and spinach, sautéing until the garlic is fragrant and the spinach is wilted, about 1-2 minutes. Pour wine into the pan, scraping up any brown bits. Add the half & half, whisking to combine. Let simmer until slightly thickened, stir in gorgonzola, and set aside to keep warm.

Lightly coat a 9x13” baking dish with olive oil or cooking spray. Layer the ravioli in it, overlapping the edges. Pour the spinach-gorgonzola sauce evenly over the ravioli, top with the remaining parmesan, and bake until browned and bubbly, about 20-25 minutes.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Grilled Salmon and Potatoes with Quick Tomato Chutney

We've been having a heat wave here, but it hasn't stopped us from grilling.  With the outside temps so high, turning on the oven just isn't appealing anyway.  This grilled salmon and potato recipe works perfectly for these summer days when we don't want to heat the house up.  While the original recipe from Cooking Light included a tomato-onion salsa, I wanted something with a little more zing to it.  So sticking with the basic idea, I went with a quick tomato chutney that cooks in just a few minutes and brightens up the meaty salmon and creamy potatoes.  It does mean turning on a burner, but the sweet and sour sauce is worth the brief cooking time.

The potatoes do need to be boiled prior to grilling- I did this the evening before and refrigerated them overnight, but I think that they could also be microwaved.  We grilled the salmon on a sheet of non-stick foil to make sure that it didn't fall apart. 

Grilled Salmon and Potatoes with Quick Tomato Chutney

What's in it:

1/2 lb baby yukon gold potatoes (about 6)
olive oil, salt and pepper
1/4 red onion, diced
1/2 pint assorted cherry tomatoes, halved
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp cumin
pinch red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 6-oz salmon fillets

How to make it:

Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 15 minutes or until tender. Drain potatoes, and allow them to cool slightly. Cut potatoes in half. Coat potatoes with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Thread potatoes onto two metal skewers with cut sides facing out.

Heat about a teaspoon of oil in a pan over medium-high heat, swirling to coat.  Add onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook until softened and just starting to brown.  Add tomatoes, garlic, cumin and red pepper flakes, cooking until the tomatoes begin to release their juices.  Stir in the brown sugar, then vinegar, scraping up the brown bits in the pan.  Simmer until a thick, chunky sauce has formed.  Check seasoning and set aside until ready to serve.

Season salmon with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Place fish and potatoes, cut sides down, on grill rack coated with cooking spray or lined with foil.  Cover and grill potatoes 6 minutes without turning. Grill fish 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Serve fish with potatoes; top with tomato chutney.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Burgers with Gorgonzola and Port-Glazed Onions

I just can't leave well enough alone when it comes to food.  If something can be made more complicated, I'll do it.  This burger is one of those things.  Burgers are delicious as is, so do they really need to be dressed up?  No, but it's a fun and tasty thing to do anyway. 

The idea for this burger started with the June issue of Food & Wine's cover recipe.  But it seemed to need something else texturally along with the melted cheese and chewy beef, and maybe some sweetness to balance the salty cheese as well, so I pulled some elements from Josie's fig-glazed burger with red onion jam.  The resulting burger has a lot of strong flavors, but they all work together and make a weeknight burger seem a lot fancier than it is.

Burgers with Gorgonzola and Port-Glazed Onions

What's in them:

1 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, halved and sliced into half-rounds
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt, divided
1/2 c port
1 lb ground beef
1/2 tsp ground pepper
3-4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1/4 c fig jam
1/2 c crumbled gorgonzola cheese (or bleu cheese or Stilton)
4 hamburger buns

How to make them:

Heat a pan over medium high heat, and add oil when pan is hot.  Once oil is hot as well, add onions and 1/2 tsp salt, stirring to coat the onions.  Reduce heat to medium-low, and let onions cook until soft and brown, about 15 minutes.  Turn heat back up until the onions are sizzling, then pour in the port, stirring and scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.  Reduce heat to low, and simmer until port thickly coats the onions.  Set aside, keeping the onions warm.

Mix beef, remaining salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce lightly, being careful to not overwork the beef.  Form four patties, then grill to desired doneness.  When burgers are almost done, brush each with fig jam, then top with gorgonzola. 

Serve on buns, topped with the port-glazed onions.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cranberry Bean Salad with Dill Dressing and Steak "Croutons"

As you might have guessed from my post on buying part of a cow, I like meat.  But as much as I like it, I also realize that consuming large quantities of it isn't really good for my health or the environment.  For this reason, Mark Bittman's recipes often appeal to me, as meat is often used almost as a garnish, rather than the main attraction.  You can taste it, but it's not the focus of the meal.  When I saw his recipe for an edamame salad in Cooking Light, I loved how the crispy steak bits looked like croutons on top of a colorful mix of fresh vegetables and beans.

Unfortunately, I'm not really a fan of edamame.  But, I do like most beans, and had some dried heirloom cranberry beans in the pantry.  I changed up the dressing for a more summery taste, and added some avocado because it makes even the healthiest meal feel more indulgent.  This is really more a method than a recipe, because there are a lot of variations to try: radishes and thinly sliced carrots would add some crunch, or use black beans and lime juice for a southwestern combo.  Any kind of bean would work, dried, canned or fresh.

Cranberry Bean Salad with Dill Dressing and Steak "Croutons"

For the salad:

1 Tbsp mayonnaise
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp white wine vinegar

1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp olive oil

2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
Salt and pepper
1 c dried cranberry beans, soaked and cooked according to package directions, cooled

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved, seeds removed if making this more than a few hours in advance
1 chopped and seeded English cucumber
4 green onions, thinly sliced 

For the "croutons":
1 Tbsp olive oil
8 ounces flank steak, cut into small pieces
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

How to make it:

Combine mayonnaise through dill in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  If you used canned beans, you may not need as much salt.  Add beans, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado and onions; stir gently to combine and coat with dressing.

Heat a medium skillet over high heat. Add olive oil to pan; swirl to coat. Combine steak, salt, and pepper, coating steak. Add steak mixture to pan; cook 5 minutes or until well browned and crisp, stirring frequently.

Divide salad into four shallow bowls and top with portions of the steak bits.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Ginger-Orange Blueberry Jam

I know, it's another oddly flavored jam.  But since you can buy pretty good "normal" jam pretty much anywhere, I feel like there should be something more complex, more interesting about the jam if I'm going to put the time and effort into making and canning it.  And really, this stuff is good.  The orange and ginger are pretty strong here, but not so much that the tart blueberry flavor is lost.  It's not so sweet that it would be out of place as a condiment on a cheese plate, but would still be excellent on a morning scone.  I'm especially looking forward to swirling some into oatmeal this winter.

I started with a recipe on Serious Eats, but since I was using regular pectin instead of low-sugar, I used the berry and sugar amounts on the guide that came with the pectin.  My blueberries were on the tart side, so using the regular pectin and more sugar helped balance the flavor here for me.  If you've got very sweet blueberries, you may want to check out the low-sugar version.  Also, if you're new to canning, the Ball website has a lot of helpful information and recipes.

Ginger-Orange Blueberry Jam

What's in it:

4 c granulated sugar
3 pints of blueberries, washed and crushed (about 4 c of crushed berries)
1 1.75 oz package of powdered pectin, like Sure-Jell
Zest and juice of one large orange
1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger (try freezing your ginger- it makes it much easier to grate)
Pinch ground ginger
1/2 tsp butter

If canning, 7-8 half-pint jars and lids
Boiling water canner (stockpots with pasta inserts also work well)

How to make it:

Prepare canning jars and equipment. 

Measure sugar into a separate bowl and set aside.  Combine everything but the sugar in a large pot and bring to a full rolling boil.  Pour in all of the sugar at once, stirring until it's dissolved.  Bring jam back to a rolling boil, and let it boil hard for one minute.

Turn off heat and ladle jam into warm jars.  Wipe the jar rims, and secure lids, just turning the bands to finger tight.  Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes, then let sit in the water for a few more minutes.  Remove jars from water and allow to sit at room temperature until they are cool and the lids have sealed.  Refrigerate any jars that did not seal properly.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Friday Food for Thought: What's Your Favorite Food-Related Book?

Are you a food memoir fan?  Or do you prefer more scholarly books on food policy and agriculture?  Or maybe fiction based around cooking?

My favorite is probably The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan.  It's not as popular as In Defense of Food or The Omnivore's Dilemma, but it's an interesting series of "case studies."  Each of the four chapters examines how human desires affected the evolution of a particular plant: the apple for sweetness, the tulip for beauty, marijuana for pleasure, and the potato for sustenance.

I've also recently read Recipe for a Perfect Marriage, a story about a food writer unsure of her recent marriage, intertwined with her Irish grandmother's story and seemingly stable marriage.

Anything food-related on your summer reading list?  What's your favorite food-related book?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Lemon-Lime Basil Shortbread Cookies

I've already talked about how much I like savory baked goods, and we've established that I like herbs in unexpected places.  So when I saw these citrusy shortbread cookies in Bon Appetit, I had to try them.  I've always included shortbread in my holiday baking, and loved the idea of a fresher-tasting, more summery version.  These would be great with a glass of minty iced sun tea, or with ice cream for dessert.

I didn't change the recipe much, other than to use lime juice and a little more of its zest since I prefer it to lemon.  The dough was almost too quick to put together in the food processor, and soft and very easy to work with, and the cookies themselves were sturdy enough to handle without being dense. 

Lemon-Lime Basil Shortbread Cookies

What's in them:

1 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c + 2 Tbsp powdered sugar
1/2 c chilled unsalted butter, diced into small cubes
2 Tbsp sliced fresh basil leaves (about 3-4 leaves)
1 tsp lime zest + juice from half a lime
1 tsp lemon zest
1/4 tsp kosher salt

How to make them:

Preheat oven to 375°. Place flour, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, butter, basil, both zests, lime juice, and salt in a food processor. Pulse until large, moist clumps form.

Measure level tablespoonfuls of dough; roll between your palms to form balls. Place on a large baking sheet, spacing 2" apart.

Lightly dust the bottom of a flat measuring cup with powdered sugar and press cookies into 2" rounds, dusting cup bottom with powdered sugar as needed to prevent sticking.

Bake until edges are brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool.