Archive for the ‘Sides’ Category

Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto

April 14, 2019

Ah, risotto.  Comfort food.  But a little more elegant than meatloaf and mashed potatoes.  It’s a lovely way to spend a Sunday evening.  In the kitchen with a glass of wine, stirring a pot of arborio rice.  This is one of the most versatile dishes you’ll ever make.  Easy to make for vegans, vegetarians, seafood eaters and meat eaters – all in the same batch.  Start with a vegan base and add cheese or seafood or meat as you serve!

Usually when I make risotto I add the protein directly to the pot and eat it as a one dish meal.  I did a lot of running this weekend. A lot.  That always makes me crave beef.  So, tonight, a vegetarian risotto as a side dish and a lovely filet to get some iron in this body!

Normally a mushroom risotto says Fall or Winter.  Often I make mushroom risotto with beef broth to give it some warmth.  But Spring has sprung in central Virginia so a lighter version is in order.  My favorite thing about this risotto is that you get earthy and green from the mushrooms and asparagus.  Made with vegetable broth, it has a more Spring-like taste.

I really like the sharp saltiness of the parmesan on the top, but it’s awfully good without it for the vegans among us.  Add the cheese for the vegetarians.  If you’re serving this as a one dish meal, use cubed meat (shish kabob quality, not stew meat) to add to the top for everyone else.  The nice thing about adding things to each bowl is that you protect the leftovers for the vegans.

Some people feel that risotto doesn’t make good leftovers. I disagree.  I do think it’s best to heat on the stove, not in the microwave.  Add just a little water or broth to loosen it up, then top it just like you did before.  You can also form the leftovers into cakes and refrigerate them.  I brown the risotto cakes in a cast iron skillet and serve them as a side dish.  They’re great for breakfast with an egg on top!

Here’s what you need:

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  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 C arborio rice
  • 1/2 C dry white wine
  • 4 C vegetable broth, heated and kept warm
  • 8-10 stalks asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1-2 C mushrooms, chopped
  • Parmesan (optional)

Here’s what you do:

  • Saute the asparagus until it’s bright green, but still crunchy
  • Saute the mushrooms until they soften
  • Set the asparagus and mushrooms aside
  • Heat the olive oil in a large pan
  • Add the onion, saute until softened, but not browned
  • Add the arborio rice, stir until all the grains are coated
  • Add the wine, stir until the  wine is almost completely absorbed

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  • Add the warm broth 1/2 C at a time, stirring constantly until the broth is almost completely absorbed

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  • This is where having a glass of wine, or a cocktail, to sip on comes in handy
  • When the risotto is al dente fold in the vegetables

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  • Top with shaved parmesan (optional)
  • Serve immediately

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Sheet Pan Fried Rice

March 26, 2019

What if I told you that I had a recipe for a dinner that fits this description:  It’s super easy.  It’s cheap to make.  You can make vast quantities at once.  You can put in whatever veggies and proteins you like.  It can be vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian,  no red meat, only red meat, whatever you want.  It’s good at room temperature and it’ll reheat like a dream.  It can sit out without spoiling so it’s perfect for a potluck.  Would you not make it every week?  I just might.

I haven’t had a ton of luck with sheet pan dinners.  I always end up with some parts cooked well and others not so much.  Not so with this fried rice!  And this is the perfect dinner for nights when you come in a little late and need a 30 minutes meal with very little cleanup.

This is where you should make it easy on yourself.  I made two packages of minute rice yesterday and put the rice in the fridge overnight.  Make it even easier by picking up some steamed rice at a local Chinese restaurant.  Just do it the day before.  You want this rice to be cold and dry when you start.  And this is the time to buy pre-chopped vegetables too.  You want these vegetables to be chopped pretty small and you don’t want to spend all night doing it.  I found this “super 8” mix at Lidl for cheap.  Use garlic and ginger pastes if you have them.   I also bought the shrimp that are quick peel.  They’re de-veined, but not peeled.  Get the peeled ones if you want, just make sure they’re raw.  Then all you have left is to beat a couple of eggs, which is optional anyway.

Here’s what you need (ish):  to feed 3-4

  • 2 C cooked rice, cooled and dry (leftover is best)
  • 2 C finely chopped vegetables
  • 1 T grated ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1/8 C canola oil
  • 1/8 C soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 T rice vinegar
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 lb shrimp, peeled and de-veined

Here’s what you do:

  • Preheat the oven to 475.  (This is the most important step)
  • Combine rice, vegetables, ginger, garlic, canola, soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil in a large bowl.

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  • Mix until the rice is well coated
  • Spread onto a sheet pan

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  • Bake 15 minutes
  • Use a metal spatula to stir the rice and spread it out again
  • Pour the eggs over the rice
  • Place the shrimp on top

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  • Cook another 7-10 minutes, depending on the size of the shrimp

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  • Use your spatula to break up the rice where the egg has stuck it together
  • Top with soy sauce or sriracha or green onions, etc.

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Chana Dal – take 2

March 25, 2019

My Indian cooking journey continues!  It’s a cool, rainy evening in Central Virginia and I’ve been thinking about making dal for dinner all day.  My plan was to try a new recipe for “Everyday Dal” with red lentils.  I even checked the cabinet to make sure I had them.  Sadly, while there is some red stuff on the bag, my lentils are green lentils.  Ugh.  On to Plan B.  I also had some chana dal, yellow split peas.

Several weeks ago I made Palak Chana Dal for the first time.  I really enjoyed that.  Two things have changed since then.  First, I went to an Indian restaurant in London so I could see what it’s actually supposed to be like.  Theirs was a lot soupier than mine.  Honestly, I like it better a little thicker.  Second, I got a new cookbook with a recipe for Chana Dal with Golden Garlic Tarka.  If you’ve been following along, you may recall that I cautioned that this is NOT a weeknight dish.  I did not recall that.

This recipe, like that one, says to cook the split peas 40 minutes.  And this time, like that one, mine were not nearly done in 40 minutes. I let them simmer an hour and they still weren’t creamy, but I was hungry. (Last time it took 90 minutes before they were soft and creamy).  I have no idea what the deal is with this.  Next time maybe I’ll soak them first.

My other mistake, other than doing this on a Monday night after work, is that I made a half recipe.  I’m trying to control the amount of food that gets stuck in the freezer only to be seen again in the event of a power outage; or that gets thrown away because I’m sick of it.  My advice?  If you’re going to make a dish that requires the peas to simmer 60-90 minutes, make a whole bunch.  I feel confident that this would freeze well and I like it so much that I’m sad I only have one meal of it left.

Other than that, this is an easy recipe.  Only onions and garlic to slice.  A few spices and some canola oil.  Done. I added some chopped spinach because I had a little left in the fridge.  That was a nice addition.  I ate mine without rice or naan.  I’m making fried rice tomorrow, so rice was out, and I have zero bread in the house at the moment.  I didn’t miss it except that I might be hungry later.

Here’s what you need: to serve 4

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  • 14 ounces chana dal (dried yellow split peas)
  • 4 T canola oil
  • 1 T cumin seeds
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 t garam masala
  • 1/2 t chili powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 mustard seeds
  • fresh red chiles (optional)
  • chopped spinach (optional)

Here’s what you do:

  • Rinse the dal until the water runs clear.  (Seriously.  This is not optional.)
  • Add dal and 5 1/2 C water to a large pot and bring to a boil
  • Simmer until the dal is soft (anywhere from 40-90 minutes, see above)

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  • In a frying pan heat 2T oil
  • When the oil shimmers, add cumin seeds and onion.
  • Cook 10-15 minutes until the onion is caramelized and add half the garlic
  • Cook for 1-2 minutes.  Be careful not to burn the garlic.
  • When the dal is done, add the onion and garlic mixture to the pot
  • Stir in the garam masala, chili powder, and salt

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  • Use a dry paper towel to wipe out the frying pan
  • Add remaining 2T oil and heat over medium heat
  • Add the mustard seeds to the cold oil and heat until they begin to pop
  • Add the rest of the garlic and fry until it’s golden; add the red chiles if using
  • Drizzle over the dal
  • Add the chopped spinach and stir until it wilts
  • Serve plain or with rice or naan

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Sheet Pan Fried Rice

February 15, 2019

I’m not sure what my deal is with rice these days, but I’m eating a ton of it.  I had a carton of leftover rice from takeout the other night, and sheet pan fried race calls for exactly that.  Rice that’s leftover so it’s dry.  I had a bunch of stuff that’s been in the vegetable drawer just this side of too long.  And I almost always have eggs.  Dinner!

This is super easy.  You mix your rice and veggies with some sesame oil and soy sauce.  Pour it on a sheet pan and bake.  That can be the end if you want.  I decided to add some eggs to mine because all the other protein I have in the house is frozen.  One tip. Put a teaspoon or two of canola oil on your sheet pan and spread it around.  Put the  pan in the oven as it heats.  That way the oil and pan are hot when you add the rice and it starts to fry immediately.

If you’re going to use a protein like chicken or beef, partially cook it in the sheet pan before you add the rice.  Then it will finish cooking with everything else.  If you’re using shrimp, add it about halfway through the rice cooking so it doesn’t get rubbery.

Here’s what you need: for 2-3 main dish servings

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  • 2 t vegetable oil
  • 1 pint leftover cooked rice
  • chopped vegetables
    • mushrooms, peppers, onions
  • 2 T sesame oil
  • 3 T soy sauce
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 2 green onions, chopped

Here’s what you do:

  • Spread the vegetable oil on a sheet pan
  • Heat the pan in the oven to 375 degrees
  • While the oven heats, mix the rice, vegetables, sesame oil and soy sauce in a bowl

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  • Spread the rice mixture on the sheet pan in a single layer

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  • Bake 10 minutes
  • Create 3-4 wells in the rice, pour in the egg
  • Bake 5 minutes
  • Stir the partially cooked eggs into the rice and spread it back into a single layer
  • Cook another 4-5 minutes
  • Add green onions
  • Season with more soy sauce as needed

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This is a good meal.  Easy, cheap, good for using up leftover vegetables.  What would I do differently?  I’d heat the oven hotter to get a little more crisp on the rice.  I might also add some garlic and ginger to make the flavors a little more complex.  Maybe I’ll try that the next time.  And there will be a next time!

Oh, and hang on to the takeout rice container.  You can put your leftovers in it!

Curried Chickpeas with Eggplant

February 11, 2019

This one’s for you my vegetarian friends looking for some spice!  Another winner from Melissa Clark’s Dinner.  Don’t be intimidated by the list of ingredients. It’s long, but the recipe isn’t difficult and most of the spices are things you probably have on hand.  The hardest thing about this is not eating all the roasted eggplant while you make the rest!

A few tips.  Do use a brush to apply a little oil to the eggplant.  I have one with silicone “bristles” because it cleans up easier than real bristle brushes.  Using a brush allows you to apply the oil evenly and very little of it.  If you try to pour a little and then spread it with your fingers you’ll use 2-3 times as much and have greasy eggplant.  Tip number two.  If you don’t have garam masala and you’re not starting an Indian cooking adventure, don’t buy it.  You can make a reasonable substitute with 1/2 t each of cumin, cloves, cinnamon, and black pepper.

I made a few substitutions just based on what I had on hand.  I didn’t have a fresh chile of any kind so I added crushed red pepper instead.  And I don’t generally buy fresh tomatoes in February. With the exception of grape tomatoes, they’re pretty expensive and don’t taste like much this time of year in central VA.  I do have a basement full of summer tomatoes that I canned myself.  I’ll take those as a substitute for cooked winter tomatoes any day!  And I used canned chickpeas instead of homemade, because, well, the recipe said it was ok and in the make versus buy equation, chickpeas come out on the buy side every time.

The recipe recommends that you serve this with rice or flatbread if you’re using it as a main dish.  I don’t have any flatbread in the house.  I tried to buy naan over the weekend, but Wegman’s was out of all the naan except their store brand, which I don’t think is very good.  And no rice for me because in the last week I’ve eaten more rice than in the previous few months combined!  I’d recommend some bread or rice though.  The yogurt did a good job of balancing the heat, but a little something else would have been nice.  And it’ll stretch your dish a little further as well.  Maybe a little cucumber salad on the side would be nice as well.

What else.  Don’t skip the step where you cook the spices for a minute.  Giving them a chance to toast just a little really helps.  Also, I don’t usually like mint in savory dishes.  In my world mint is for juleps and tea, but it added a really nice sweet note in this dish.  I used spearmint, not peppermint, which I think is a good choice.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 large eggplant, sliced and roasted
  • 1/2 a large onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced or 1/2 t crushed red pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala (substitute described above)
  • 1/2 t paprika
  • 1/2 t black pepper
  • 1/8 t cayenne pepper
  • 1 lb fresh tomatoes, chopped, or one pint canned tomatoes
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • lemon juice to taste

For garnish:

  • chopped green onions
  • chopped fresh mint leaves
  • plain yogurt (optional)

Here’s what you do:

  • Heat a tablespoon of oil in large skillet, then add the onions.
  • Cook until softened and golden, about 4 minutes.
  • Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes longer.
  • Add spices and cook for 1 minute, then add tomatoes, chickpeas and 2 tablespoons water.
  • Partly cover the pan and let the mixture simmer until tomatoes start to break down, 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Add eggplant to the pan and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, until sauce thickens.

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  • Serve with any combination of the garnish, rice, and flatbread

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“Everyday” Red Lentils

January 13, 2019

I have developed a serious love for lentils prepared with Indian spices – dal, in many of its forms.  For this Southern girl, with weird food texture issues, it might seem an odd comfort food, but that’s exactly what it is.  So I’m always looking for new recipes. I found this on foodnetwork.com.  It’s from Aarti Sequeira, so that seemed legit.  Whether it’s traditional or not, I love it!

I planned this as the wonderful cap to my “snow” day.  Sadly, I found out too late that I only had 1/2 C of red lentils so there’s only 1 serving of leftovers!  Frankly, I could eat this the rest of the week except that I have an eggplant thing on tap and a business dinner.  If you end up in this spot you could always serve it on rice to stretch it some.

This is super easy.  I was a little nervous about having to substitute mustard for mustard seed, but it worked out ok!  Other than that, I followed the instructions. I don’t know enough about cooking Indian food to monkey around with it but so much.  Could you use canned tomatoes?  I don’t see why not.  You’re cooking them down so not having the peels might be nice.  Could you use ground cumin?  Sure, but trust me on this, it’s not the same.  If you want to cook Indian food, invest in some cumin seed.  I was a little sorry I didn’t have a hot chili to add.  I like a little heat and it helps me not eat too much!

I think you could add rice and spinach to complete this one dish meal.  Lentils have protein, but they don’t offer a complete protein. Rice rounds that out.  And a leafy green is always a good idea.  I’ll do that for the leftovers.  I was so ready for these to be done that I ate them as is!

The one surprise for me was that adding salt too soon will make the lentils tough.  It took a lot of restraint for me to wait to add salt!

Here’s what you need:  serves 4-6

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  • 1 cup red lentils, picked through for stones
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • One 1/2-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 serrano chile, sliced in 1/2, optional

Tempering Oil (Bagaar):

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard
  • Generous 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Here’s what you do:

  • Put the lentils in a strainer and rinse them under running water. Add them to a bowl, cover with water and let soak for 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups of water, the onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, chile, if using, and the lentils. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Skim any scum from the surface. DO NOT ADD SALT YET; it will toughen the lentils, thereby lengthening their cooking time. Lower the heat, cover the pot with a lid and gently simmer until the lentils are tender, almost translucent, and almost falling apart, about 30 to 40 minutes.

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  • Whisk the lentils, releasing its natural starch, and mash some them so the mixture becomes thick. Add salt, to taste.

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  • Tempering oil (bagaar): In a small bowl, combine the oil and mustard. In another bowl, combine the spice powders and cumin seed. Have all the ingredients ready because this will move very fast!
  • In a small skillet, over a medium-high flame, warm 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add seeds and immediately cover so you don’t get covered in spluttering oil and seeds! Add the spices. They should sizzle and bubble a little – that’s the blooming and it’s exactly what you want. Don’t let them burn. The mixture should bloom for about 30 seconds, no more.

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  • Pour the oil mixture into the lentils, standing back so you don’t get hurt when the mixture splutters again. Stir to combine.

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This is so good, y’all.  Really.  Every bit as much comfort food as mac and cheese or mashed potatoes.  And it’s vegan, for those of you who care about that.  It’s low fat and WW friendly.  Gotta love a comfort food that doesn’t make you feel the slightest bit guilty about over-indulging.  Enjoy!

 

Malai Palak (Indian Creamed Spinach) with Chickpeas

January 5, 2019

This is one of my favorite dishes.  I love Indian food and I mostly shy away from making it at home.  Much of my favorite Indian food has dozens of ingredients and almost as many steps.  This is serious cooking.  So, in a “build or buy” analysis, “buy” almost always wins.  Except for this.  The yum factor far exceeds any difficulty, and it’s not really that hard anyway.  Be prepared for some kitchen cleanup though!

I’ve made this dish twice before.  Once, as described in the recipe – just the spinach; and once using one of the given variations that adds paneer.  The spinach only variety is fantastic, but it’s not a meal.  It’s a side or a sauce.  With the paneer you’re getting closer to a meal, but it’s still really a side.  I wasn’t in the mood to think of anything else tonight so I had to make this my entire dinner, without just eating the whole pan.  I could have added some cubed chicken, but that would have meant an extra pan.  No good.  Aha, chickpeas!  Nothing to do but drain the can.

The recipe below is how I made it tonight.  You should know that the original uses heavy cream, not half and half. I just used what I had on hand.  The end result is slightly less thick, but still so, so good.  The original, which is from my Rasika cookbook, also calls for fenugreek powder.    I’m sure it adds some depth of flavor.  I’ve just never ordered any.

Here’s what you need:

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  • 10-12 oz fresh baby spinach
  • 1/4 C (or  slightly less) canola oil
  • 1 t cumin seeds
  • 2 T finely chopped garlic
  • 2 C chopped onions
  • 1 T finely chopped ginger
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped or Thai chilis to taste
  • 1/2 t ground turmeric
  • 1/4 C half and half
  • salt to taste

Here’s what you do:

  • Blanch the spinach (wilt in boiling water, submerge in ice water)
  • Drain the spinach well
  • Add spinach and 1/2-1 C water to a blender
  • Puree and set aside

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  • Heat the oil in a large skillet until the oil shimmers
  • Add cumin and garlic. Stir 15-30 seconds (Do not burn the garlic)
  • Add onions, stir 5 minutes until soft

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  • Add ginger, chilis, turmeric.  Cook 30 seconds

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  • Add chickpeas and spinach.  (watch for splatter)

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  • Cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly
  • Reduce heat to medium, add cream and salt
  • Return to a boil and cook another 5 minutes
  • Serve as is, or with rice and/or naan

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A couple of tips.  First, adding the chickpeas reduces the splatter factor quite a bit, but still be careful.  If your bare hand or arm gets splattered by hot oily spinach, it really hurts.  Second, time these 5 minute steps.  You need to give the flavors time to develop and the chickpeas time to heat through and soften.  It will feel like a very long time, but do it.

I can hardly describe how good this is.  The addition of the chickpeas was a very good call.  They provide good substance and have a wonderful creamy texture.  I served it over rice, but this is one of the rare cases where I think riced cauliflower might actually be just as good.  I’ll try that next time.  And there will definitely be a next time.  It’s all I can do not to eat the leftovers before I even put them away!

 

 

New Year Luck and Money: Vegetarian Style

January 1, 2019

In my little corner of the world it’s tradition to have black-eyed peas and collard greens to bring luck and money in the new year.  Sometimes I make them into soup; sometimes hoppin’ john; sometimes a side dish for grits or cornbread.  But there’s almost always been a smoked meat element – smoked turkey legs or ham hock.  I do love the flavor that smoked meats add.  So, this year is an attempt to get that flavor, or something very like it, without the meat.

There are a few choices for adding a smoky flavor without adding smoked meat.  You could actually smoke another ingredient.  I think the black-eyed peas could have been successfully smoked.  But that’s a lot of trouble.  I just wasn’t going to do that.  You can add liquid smoke to a dish.  This works well, but you have to be super careful with the amount. It can over power a dish quickly.  So, I picked option three -smoked paprika.  You get a little smoke and a little heat.  Good stuff.  And you only need one of the elements to carry the smoky flavor, the black-eyed peas in this case.

The peas contribute the smoke and the greens bring the heat and the acid.  Cook your greens with hot sauce and vinegar.  Then throw in some rice and you’re ready to eat!  I decided to stuff a couple of bell pepper halves this year just to change things up.  You could also mash up some peas and mix in the rest of the ingredients and make patties.  That seemed like a lot of trouble today.

For the peas:

  • 1 pint fresh or frozen black-eyed peas
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 t smoked paprika
  • water
  • salt

Cooking the peas:

  • Add all the ingredients to a small pot and bring to a boil
  • Reduce to a simmer and cook until the peas are soft, about 30 minutes

For the greens:

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch of fresh collards, stemmed and chopped (if you need some help with this, check here)
  • 2 C vegetable stock
  • 1 T Frank’s hot sauce
  • 1-2 T cider vinegar
  • salt

Cooking the greens:

  • Heat oil in a pan until the oil shimmers
  • Add onion, pepper, garlic and saute until vegetables are soft

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  • Stir in collards

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  • Add stock, hot sauce and vinegar
  • Simmer until collards are soft and most of the stock has cooked out, about 90 minutes

For serving:

  • Mix peas and greens.  Add rice if desired.

This is super comfort food for me.  I love the smoky, earthy, acidic, hot combination.  And I really liked the pepper.  I baked the pepper until it was just warm, but not soft.  The crunch of the pepper is a wonderful balance for the soft peas and greens.

I’ll be eating the leftovers for a few days and happy as a clam about it.  Here’s hoping this is the kick start my weight loss plan needs!

Shrimp in Amazing and Versatile Green Sauce

December 30, 2018

I have two more nights of decadent eating and drinking before I need to get it together for the new year.  Shrimp is pretty decadent for me.  The cholesterol fairies aren’t overly excited about me eating a lot of shrimp.  But this is exactly the light, but rich and wonderful meal I was hoping for.  Just some shrimp and toast.  And a favorite bottle of wine.  Perfect.

Let me start by saying that even if you’re not a shrimp fan, this post is worth reading.  This sauce would be good on lots of things – chicken, beef, bruschetta.  I do think the roasting part is important.  It’s a lot of garlic so serving it raw might be a little much.

What do we love about this?  It takes 15 minutes to make and 10 minutes to cook.  It only has 7 ingredients – 6 for the sauce and 1 for something to put it on.  There’s limited chopping since you make the sauce in a food processor.  Love that.  And you can use the shells, stems and ends that you’d normally throw away to make the stock you need.

I’m going to give you the proportions from the original recipe and let you adjust as needed like I did.  I only had about 2/3 lb of shrimp left after last night’s noodles so I adjusted accordingly without doing any taxing math.

Here’s what you need:

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  • 2 lbs shrimp, shelled and deveined, shells reserved
  • 1/3-1/2 C olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 6 scallions, roughly chopped
  • 1 C fresh flat parsley leaves
  • 1-3 pinches  crushed red pepper, to taste
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/3 C shrimp broth (add shells, parsley stems, scallion ends, and garlic ends and papers to water and bring to a simmer.  Simmer while you prepare the rest)

Since there are so few ingredients, use the best ones you can find.  They all matter in this case.

Here’s what you do:

  • Preheat the oven to 500 degrees
  • Combine olive oil and garlic in a small food processor.  Process until smooth.
  • Add scallions and parsley leaves.  Process until well combined.

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  • Stir into shrimp with salt, black pepper, and crushed pepper
  • Spread shrimp onto a roasting pan

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  • Add broth to pan
  • Roast 10-12 minutes
  • Serve with bread or toast

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If you don’t have a small enough food processor you can probably get away with using a blender.  Just be careful to leave some of the parsley and scallions in visible pieces.

How is it?

AMAZING.  It’s light and rich at the same time.  I added more olive oil to get a consistency closer to a sauce than a paste.  The broth helps with that too.  I ate mine with a fork and a nice glass of wine, but a big platter as finger food alongside a bucket of beer wouldn’t be out of place either.

I’m pretty tempted to make this sauce again and spread it on a baguette.  A little time under the broiler would take care of the sharpness of the raw garlic.  You could top some of the slices with a shrimp or a piece of roast beef for an easy to eat appetizer.  Or you could mix it into some rice and white beans.  Maybe a squeeze of lemon to finish the dish.  It all sounds fantastic.  And easy.  And fast.  And elegant.  Can’t ask for much more than that.

Brown Butter Cardamom Banana Bread

December 28, 2018

It’s a few days post-Christmas and pouring down rain in Central Virginia.  I have nowhere that I have to be today.  Glorious relaxation day to spend in the kitchen. It’s a baking day!

I’ve been making banana bread for decades.  I’m one of those people who will die with half a dozen overripe bananas in the freezer just waiting for my next baking day.  I bought ripe bananas thinking I would make a banana pudding pie for Christmas, but I didn’t.  So here we are again with overripe bananas.  Fortunately, we also have a pile of new cookbooks!

I found this recipe in the The Complete Milk Street TV Show Cookbook.  I’ve never seen, or heard of, the tv show, but I’m fast becoming a big fan of the cookbook.  If you’re looking for a good survey of international foods, this is a great one.  And this is a very nice, slightly exotic, twist on traditional banana bread.  The brown butter gives this a rich flavor and slightly darker color than my regular loaf.  The cardamom is a really fun addition.  Subtle.  Maybe next time I’ll add a little cinnamon too to jazz it up.

The only thing that’s even slightly challenging about this is browning the butter.  You really have to watch it.  It will go from wonderfully brown and nutty to hideously black and burned in a hot minute.  So, do all your other measuring and whatnot before you start browning the butter so you don’t get distracted.

This is a really lovely quick bread.  Not overly sweet and it has a wonderful sweet crust on the top.  It’s solid without being dense and still very soft.  And you can add “freezes beautifully” to its list of attributes.  Great for breakfast or a snack or a hostess gift.  Enjoy!

Here’s what you need:

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  • 2 C (260g) flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t kosher salt
  • 1 stick salted butter
  • 1 1/4 t ground cardamom
  • 2 C mashed bananas (about 4 bananas)
  • 1/4 C (150g) packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 1 T white sugar

Here’s what you do:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Butter a loaf pan and set aside
  • Mix flour, powder, soda, and salt in a large bowl.  Set aside.
  • In a medium pan, melt butter over medium heat.  Shake it around frequently.  When it begins to foam watch for browning.  When the butter is an almond brown color remove it from the heat.
  • Whisk in cardamom
  • Carefully whisk in bananas (If you’re too vigorous with the whisk you’ll have butter everywhere)
  • Add brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla.  Whisk until incorporated.
  • Add to flour mixture.
  • Fold with a silicone spatula until there’s no more dry flour
  • Pour into the loaf pan.
  • Bake 50-55 minutes until a cake tester or bamboo skewer comes out virtually clean
  • Remove from the oven and let sit on a wire rack for 10 minutes
  • Turn the bread out and cool before serving

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