Monday, January 19, 2015

Crispy Brussels Sprouts with a Celery Root-Ginger Dressing


Indie Plate promised me big, beautiful Brussels sprouts from Fekete Farms when I placed my order this week ... and they delivered. Right to my front porch in Baton Rouge, where I sat snapping pictures of my full haul until my fiancé got home and snapped me back into reality.

I served these divinely crispy nuggets up as an appetizer while the main course (pork and quinoa soup, blog to come) simmered away.

Honestly, I could have eaten these all night. Good thing I set a limit. Fresh ginger and minced celery root tossed in a sesame-soy mixture and finished with a squeeze of lemon juice. Drizzle of sriracha and sprinkled sesame seeds and chives. Et voilà! Start poppin' away.






Crispy Brussels Sprouts with a Celery Root-Ginger Dressing
Serves 2 as appetizer.

Ingredients:
8–10 brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
salt
pepper

For the dressing:
1 1/2 oz. soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/2 cup minced celery root
2 in. fresh ginger, minced
Juice from one lemon

For garnish:

Sriracha
Black sesame seeds
Minced chives

Method:
1. Make the dressing: Whisk together sesame oil and soy sauce in a medium mixing bowl. Add celery root and ginger and toss to combine. Stir in lemon juice. Set aside.
2. In a medium skillet, heat up olive oil over medium heat. Add brussels sprouts, cut side down, and cook for 7–8 minutes, turning sprouts occasionally to brown both sides.
3. Add sprouts to dressing and toss to coat. Serve on plate and garnish with a drizzle of sriracha and a sprinkle of sesame seeds and chives.





Saturday, January 17, 2015

Roast Potatoes with Artichokes, Lemons, and Sage + Cinnamon-Thyme Mushrooms


I'm officially an Ottolenghi fanatic. I'd been drooling over his cookbooks in stores for a while—now I have one of my very own. Gorgeous full-page pictures ... vibrant, unexpected flavor combinations ... I could gush for a while.

Putting my culinary crush to practical use, I found weekend lunch inspiration from two different recipes in Ottolenghi. First, the Roast Potatoes with Artichokes, Lemon, and Sage: not much more complicated than your average sheet of vegetables browning in the oven. But somehow it's more. Could it be the careful timing? Potatoes, garlic, artichokes, and sage. Then lemons. Then cherub tomatoes and olives. A final sprinkling of parsley.

Or is it the flavor mix? The sweet tomatoes and creamy potatoes matched with a powerful sprinkle of sage and briny olives and artichokes.

All that's certain: I used to despise olives. I've spent the past few months eating them with diminishing winces. But here today, I was doe-eyed.

For another side, I found the flavor combination just a few pages back from the roast potatoes. Cinnamon, thyme, garlic, lemon, and mushrooms. A quick sautée and it was ready. The original recipe called for a variety of mushrooms as well as cinnamon sticks. I opted for just sliced white mushrooms (to save money) and ground cinnamon (because I forgot to double-check my pantry before I went to the store), and it was plenty delicious. I'll go the extra mile next time, and I expect it to be divine.

Salmon seared on a salt block for the final component. As it was my first time with a salt block, I followed these guidelines. On my electric range, I placed the block in a square cake pan (couldn't find my springform) and heated it up to medium-high in increments for about 45–50 minutes. Salt-and-peppered the salmon, rubbed it with olive oil, and cooked it for 6 or 7 minutes on each side, topping it with a Meyer lemon slice once flipped. Success!

Now on to pictures and recipes:


And here's how you make it...

Roast Potatoes and Artichokes with Lemon and Sage (adapted from Ottolenghi)
Serves 4 to 6 as side.

Ingredients:
1 lb. fingerling potatoes, scrubbed
1 lb. marinated artichokes, sliced 1/4-inch thick horizontally
4 cloves garlic, crushed
3 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. fresh sage, coarsely chopped
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper
1 lemon, thinly sliced and seeds removed
9 oz. cherub tomatoes
heaping 1 cup kalamata olives, pitted
2 tbsp. coarsely chopped parsley

Method:1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. On the stove, place a large saucepan filled with well-salted water. Add potatoes and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes. Then drain and let cool slightly.
2. Halve the potatoes lengthwise and place them on a large rimmed baking sheet. Add artichoke slices, olive oil, sage, salt, and pepper. Mix well, then place in oven.
3. After vegetables have been roasting for 30 minutes, add lemon slices and stir mixture with wooden spoon. Return to oven.
4. After another twenty minutes, mix in cherry tomatoes and kalamata olives.
5. Remove from oven. Stir in some of the chopped parsley and use the rest for garnish.

Cinnamon-Thyme Mushrooms (inspired by "Mixed mushrooms with cinnamon and lemon" from Ottolenghi)
Serves 2 to 3 as side.

Ingredients:8 oz. sliced white mushrooms
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp. fresh thyme
2 tbsp. chopped parsley
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Juice from one lemon


1. Heat up olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, thyme, cinnamon, and parsley and shake pan quickly to prevent sticking. Cook for 2 minutes.
2. Spread sliced mushrooms in a layer over the spices. Cook without stirring for a minute, then stir constantly for 3–4 minutes as mushrooms brown.
3. Serve hot or warm.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Turnips with Creole Mustard Jus


Oh, sauce. Make a good one and you'll be licking the plate clean. You'll be hiding in the corner of your kitchen sipping on it as an apéritif. You'll be brainstorming for future applications. You'll whip it up again the next night.

Creole mustard jus came into my life during a Test Kitchen I did for Country Roads Magazine. The dish was Prosciutto-Wrapped Quail complete with Creole mustard jus and mustard greens gnocchi. Such a wonderful sauce that it simmered along on the stove while I maneuvered my way through the more complicated aspects of the recipe (up to the elbows in flour and gnocchi dough, but loving every minute).

And so it found its way into my dinner the next night. I had brussels sprouts and turnips from the Baton Rouge gourmet grocery delivery service Indie Plate, and I wanted to put them to good use in a warm, full-flavored dinner. Winter in Louisiana is a brutal time, taking no prisoners.

I browned the vegetables in pancetta fat, drizzled them with Creole mustard jus, and then finished the pan off in the oven. Crisp, tender, and just what I needed. Now where to use this sauce next...


Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Turnips with Creole Mustard Jus
Serves 3–4 as entrée; 4–6 as side

Ingredients:
4 oz. diced pancetta
1 lb. brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
3 medium turnips, peeled and cut into 1–1 1/2 inch pieces 
Creole Mustard Jus
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted.

Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Render pancetta in a medium cast-iron skillet. Once pancetta has begun to crisp, remove from the skillet and set aside.
  2. Add brussels sprouts and turnips. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes until vegetables have begun to brown.
  3. Pour Creole mustard jus over the skillet, then place in oven to cook for 30 minutes.
  4. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with toasted pine nuts, and serve.

For Creole mustard jus:

Ingredients:
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup carrot, chopped
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1/2 tsp. tomato paste
3 tbsp. white wine
1 + 1/2 cups low sodium or
no-salt chicken stock
3 thyme sprigs
1 tbsp. Creole mustard


Method:

  1. In a saucepan, sweat the onion, carrot, and celery in olive oil. Stir in the tomato paste. Cook one minute then deglaze with white wine. Add the chicken stock and thyme sprigs. Reduce by half or until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Strain the sauce into a clean saucepan. Add the Creole mustard and stir to combine. Leave on low heat until ready to pour on vegetables.

Brunch Tips: A New Year's Start


Long overdue for blogging! As such, I've made it eleven days into the new year without an update. The entry you're reading now comes especially belated because it highlights the first brunch—the first anything, actually—that I made in 2015.

To date it less: just consider it a lovely, filling meal pulled together after a late night out with friends, cocktails, and champagne toasts.

Rather than an improbably accomplished chore, this meal (consisting of asiago grits, fresh cherry tomatoes, roasted vegetables, pancetta scrambled eggs, and seasoned toast spread with strawberry preserves) was my way of wrapping 2015 in a bear hug. Welcome, welcome, welcome, new year ... what do you have in store?


Below I'll pass on some tips and strategies for pulling together your own hearty meal with low energy reserves and a variety of elements to manage.

Roasted vegetables are simply made with a vibrant presentation. Just chop-chop your range of vegetables; toss them in a mixing bowl with olive oil, salt & pepper, and fresh (or dried) herbs; and then spread them out on your baking sheet. Roast at 400 F for about forty minutes, with a half-time toss/stir/pan rotation.
• For little "callbacks" (and a way to cut down on your ingredient list and clean-up time), repeat elements throughout your meal. A few cherry tomatoes, un-roasted, can be tossed onto the plate for a pop of color (fresh herbs too). The asiago grated into my polenta was sprinkled into the scrambled eggs as well.
• Speaking of polenta: oh, man! After a vigorous whisk at the outset, the polenta doesn't need much tending, just the occasional stir. Polenta, homemade chicken stock, asiago, and a hint of tomato paste melded into silky smooth deliciousness. Leftover polenta can be saved and chilled for polenta cakes later, a fancy mop for divinely good sauces. For another brunchy application of polenta and fresh produce, check out my take on Alice Waters' polenta torta.
Confidence is key: Having a game plan, a mise en place, and a bit of choreography to your kitchen routine makes this late-morning activity enjoyable rather than panic-inducing. Twirl from oven to cutting board to fridge with a (slightly smug) mastery. If you have an audience, take care not break the fourth wall (especially when they shout "Brava!" or "When's this going to be ready exactly?") You are a god/goddess. Own it.

Other breakfast/brunch ideas from My Weekend's Cooked:

 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Chickpea & Sumac Onion Salad with Roasted Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette


I've had a bag of dried garbanzo beans in the cabinet for a while, sitting next to the flax seed and coconut oil and other Things That Are Good for Me. I try not to let that shelf get too dusty.

On Saturday morning I bypassed my usual weekend ritual—gulping down coffee in bed and staring at my phone—and instead meandered into the kitchen with dinner plans forming.


Soaking beans, slicing onions, and sprinkling said onions with salt and sumac. Sumac is wonderfully tart, and after several hours in the refrigerator, the onions were mellowed, chilly, and full of flavor.

I had a few Meyer lemons in the fridge from the Baton Rouge gourmet delivery service Indie Plate. I wish I were one of those people with the overabundant Meyer lemon trees, because I could use them in the kitchen every single day. I used the bundle I got from Indie Plate to make salmon en papillote, a Sensation-style salad dressing, and now a roasted Meyer lemon vinaigrette complete with honey and balsamic. (Next time 'round: preserving and limoncello, for sure.)

Finally I added fresh mint and parsley and a drizzle of pomegranate molasses, which I first made as part of a homemade cocktail kit for Country Roads Magazine.

Then I served!

Chickpea & Sumac Onion Salad with Roasted Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette 
Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients:
3 cups chickpeas, cooked*
1 white onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sumac
1 tablespoon salt
10 leaves fresh mint, chopped
1 bunch parsley, chopped
Pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons olive oil

For the roasted Meyer lemon vinaigrette (sourced from Sandwich Sunday):
2 Meyer lemons, halved
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon balsamic
3 tablespoons olive oil

*I used dried chickpeas and soaked them for a few hours before soaking another hours in a pot of boiled water removed from heat. I then used fresh water to cook them, simmering, for another two hours.

Method:
1. Make ahead: In a medium-size bowl, combine onion slices, sumac, and salt. Cover and chill for several hours.
2. For the vinaigrette: Preheat oven to 400. Place lemon halves (cut side down) in a baking dish, alongside unpeeled garlic cloves. Roast for 25—30 minutes, until lemon tops have begun to brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Then squeeze out roasted garlic into a small prep bowl. Mash, then squeeze in lemon juice. Add honey and balsamic, then whisk in olive oil.
3. To make the salad, combine chickpeas, onions, mint, and parsley in a large bowl. Pour in vinaigrette, olive oil, and pomegranate molasses. Toss and serve.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Salad in a Jar: Lunch Ideas


I'm told I'm way late to the game on "salad in a jar." But forget that! I am behind on a lot of trends, and that doesn't lessen my enjoyment any.

"Salad in a jar" is just a good idea. And perfecting the technique—while it might not help you contribute to water cooler conversation, if that's still a thing—is simple and immediately yields dividends. It's all about layers, and building your salad carefully so as to keep the ingredients fresh, crisp, and just as delicious as you need them to be when lunch hour looms. Ingredient amounts and jar size will vary depending on what sort of salad you'll make. Side salad? Go for a half-quart jar and balance your ingredients accordingly. Entrée? I used a quart jar and loaded it up with chickpeas and quinoa ... greens were sort of an afterthought, but definitely made it in!

Your layering strategy should be as follows (find my route in italics):

• dressing on bottom: I doubled Cooks.com's recipe and reserved the extra.
substantial vegetables next: Chickpeas, grape tomatoes, then zucchini.
grains: I cooked a cup of red quinoa and added 1/4 cup to the two jar salads I made, reserving the rest—quinoa gets used quickly around here.
• cheese: Feta crumbles.
greens: Spring mix and kale.

To serve:
Shake the jar and then empty contents into a shallow bowl. Toss, then enjoy.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

How To: Reseason Cast Iron


If you're a cast-iron disciple, you know to hold it dear. To gather the rest of your household and solemly tell them, "You see this skillet? Don't worry about this skillet. I will care for my precio—I mean, my skillet. Thanks for listening, you are dismissed."

The basic tenets in cast-iron care are these:
  • Do not put it in the dishwasher.
  • Do not even let it near soap.
  • Do wipe it down gently with a towel using vegetable oil or shortening and hot, hot water.
  • Do throw in a lilting Irish lullaby if you happen to have one handy.
But, as Bender tells us in The Breakfast Club, the world is an imperfect place.

Should tragedy (or stubborn food or old-age or *gasp* soap) befall your cast-iron, there is a road back. Here's a short tutorial for stripping and reseasoning your pans. I made good use of these instructions this weekend while setting up a new kitchen. A little online authority and a well-ventilated kitchen (It might get a little smoky, so open up those windows) will result in some gorgeous pans. Have a celebratory dinner recipe at the ready!


How To: Reseason Cast Iron

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 200. Line bottom rack with foil to catch any drips from the pan (this comes later down the line).
2. To strip your pan of rust and stubborn food, sprinkle the inside with lemon juice and kosher or sea salt. Scrub out with a towel or steel wool.
3. Dry your pan in the oven. Then remove and adjust heat to 350.
4. Pour just a little bit of vegetable oil into your cast iron, then use a clean towel to spread a thin layer of the oil all over the pan, inside and out. Apply more as needed, but err on the side of caution.
5. Place pan upside down on the top rack of the oven. If your oil layer is thin enough, you should see no drips onto the foil below.
6. Bake for one hour. Turn off oven and let pan cool inside for another hour.
7. Whoop in triumph! You've got a rejuvenated cast iron to enjoy.