Archive | July, 2010

Cheesy Zucchini

30 Jul

Cheesy Zucchini has got to be one of my all-time favorite comfort foods–Which is why I refuse to come up with some fancy alternative name for it. My mother use to prepare zucchini this way all the time (probably significantly more often than she would have if she did not have cheesy zucchini-obsessed children). Since “leaving the nest”, I have made it for myself several times, but I don’t think any time has ever been the same.  Since I’m leaving for family vacation in Maine in a couple of days, I will have to remember to ask her for her official recipe.

But, in the meantime, here’s mine.  I’ve ran into a significant enough number of people who don’t particularly like zucchini (sometimes it can have a slightly bitter taste), and in my experience, adding some form of bread and/or cheese to anything tends to up its approval rating. And you should eat zucchini because its high in Folic Acid, which we all love.

Cheesy Zucchini

Serves 4

Ingredients

3 medium to large zucchinis, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon thyme leaves

1/3 cup unseasoned bread crumbs

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (or fresh minced garlic if you want it to be more intense-I personally think its much too intense)

1/4-1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan

salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425° and grease a cookie sheet. Toss the zucchini slices in a bowl with olive oil, garlic, and thyme leaves.  Arrange on cookie sheet in one layer. Sprinkle a pinch of breadcrumbs, a generous sprinkle of parmesan, and some salt and pepper to taste on each round. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the breadcrumbs are golden brown.

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Wild Salmon with Crunchy Sweet Vinaigrette

27 Jul

Last night my S.O. and I went grocery shopping TOGETHER.  This doesn’t happen often.  He hates grocery shopping.  I love grocery shopping.  Whenever he comes with me, he is utterly shocked when the whole process takes more than 10 minutes and he follows me around with the cart like a magnet.  I try to explain to him that it’s much easier to just park it at the end of the aisle while you get the stuff you need (which is what I usually do, to avoid traffic), but he insists on following every step I take with the cart. He’s a bit like a little kid: asking me what the difference is between the Frontier Organic Cayenne Pepper and the 365 Cayenne Pepper, and loading up the cart with three different flavors of Mochi Ice Cream.

But, he DID have input when he told me he was in the mood for fish for dinner, which made me happy because I will eat fish any day of the week. I picked out a nice darkish red wild salmon fillet from the fish market and “epicurioused” (can that be a new term?) a good recipe when I got home.

This came out awesome.  I adjusted the recipe quite a bit from the original. It’s basically a mix of two recipes I read.

Wild Salmon with Crunchy Sweet Vinaigrette

Adapted from Gourmet

Ingredients

1/3 cup white-wine vinegar

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1/4 cup Whole grain mustard

1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoons  vegetable oil

freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 small shallot, chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill sprigs

two 2 8oz  salmon fillets with skin

In a bowl whisk together vinegar, mustard, dill, shallots, and brown sugar.

Preheat broiler and grease a cookie sheet.

Rinse salmon fillets and pat dry. Arrange fillets, skin sides down, in pan.  Brush salmon with glaze and season with pepper and salt. Broil salmon 3 to 4 inches from heat about 8 minutes, or until just cooked through.

Crêpes with Brandy

22 Jul

I’ve always try to avoid crêpes.  Making them myself, that is. I have no problem stopping in at La Crêpe Parisienne and trading a few bucks to have a perfectly flat, sweet, and lightly crisped crêpe made up for me within minutes.  But it’s tough to get them just right.  Its easy to end up with tiny chunks of flour, or to pour them just a little bit too thick in the pan (or too thin for that matter).

This recipe suggested putting the ingredients into a blender, and that solved the problem of the chunks of flour.  It also contains 1/2 cup brandy, which makes the mixture blend a bit better and makes the consistency more smooth.  Plus, having a bit of brandy in your breakfast on a Sunday morning never hurt anyone.

Breakfast Crêpes

From Epicurious

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups whole milk

3 large eggs

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

Scant 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup brandy

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

In a blender, combine milk and eggs. Mix on medium-high speed until foamy, about 10 seconds. Turn blender to low speed and remove feed top. With blender going, add sugar and salt. Replace feed top and blend on high speed for a few seconds, then turn blender back to low. In the same manner, add butter, brandy, and vanilla, replacing feed top and blending for several seconds after each addition. Turn blender off. Add flour all at once and blend until just combined.

Place crêpe pan over moderately high heat. With flexible spatula, spread a tiny amount of butter in pan (an alternative method is to brush the pan with melted butter using a pastry brush) and heat until butter just begins to smoke. Pour 1/4 to 1/3 cup batter into the pan. As you pour, quickly tilt the pan in all directions to spread a thin layer of batter across the bottom. Pour in just enough batter to cover the pan.

Cook crêpe over moderately high heat until bubbles just begin to form on the exposed surface, about one to two minutes. Lift up the edge to check the cooking process — if the crêpe starts to burn before it is cooked through, turn down the heat. If it is not nicely browned after two minutes, turn up the heat.

When underside of crêpe is browned, flip and cook another minute or less, until other side is browned. Remove from pan and keep warm in the oven, loosely covered with foil.

Grease pan with a very small amount of butter and repeat process. Continue until all batter is used, stacking cooked crêpes on a plate in the oven. To serve, sprinkle each crêpe with the toppings of your choice: sugar (granules or powder), berries, bananas, nutella, nuts.

Flank Steak with Artichoke Hash and Aleppo Pepper Aioli

1 Jul

It’s pretty rare that I cook steak.  I generally would prefer to eat fish or poultry over red meat, and to be honest, its not my specialty.  I always end up with a smoky apartment and overcooked meat.

But practice makes perfect.  And when I discovered this recipe, I decided that it was time to practice.  And how could I resist anything that uses artichokes at this time of year? The globe artichokes piled up 2 feet high are enormous, round, and so perfectly green that they look like they could be plastic. And it doesn’t hurt that they are 5 for $5…

In hopes of not having a heart attack when I’m 50 (not to be a debbie-downer) and for the purpose of feeding the carb-phobic people closest to me, I served the aioli on the side and  eliminated the potatoes.

It was a success!! This is a great comfy meal with an kick of spice and very season-friendly.  My steak came out perfectly savory on the outside, and cooked just to a medium-rare pink.

Flank Steak with Artichoke Hash and Aleppo Pepper Aioli

Adapted from Bon Appétit

Ingredients

Aioli:

2 garlic cloves, pressed

1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper

1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon Sherry wine vinegar

Steak:

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper

1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 1 1/2-to 2-pound flank steak

1/2 lemon

8 baby artichokes or 2 globe artichokes stems trimmed

1 1/4 pounds unpeeled small yellow potatoes (such as baby Dutch or Russian Banana)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1/2 cup water

2 fresh thyme sprigs

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

1 tablespoon peanut oil or vegetable oil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

For Aioli:
Mash garlic, Aleppo pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt to paste in mortar with pestle or in small bowl with back of spoon. Whisk in remaining ingredients.

For steak:
Mix thyme, Aleppo pepper, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in small bowl. Rub seasoning mixture into steak; set aside.

Squeeze juice from lemon half into medium bowl of water. Cut 1/2 inch from tops of artichokes. If using globe artichokes, simply cut out all the leaves. Working with 1 artichoke at a time, break off  outer leaves. Cut artichokes lengthwise in half; cut each half into 1/2-inch wedges. Place in lemon water to prevent browning.

Place potatoes in heavy large saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover; sprinkle with salt. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-high and boil until potatoes are just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain. Transfer to baking sheet until cool enough to handle. Halve or quarter potatoes.

Drain artichokes; pat to dry well, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add artichokes and sauté until browned, about 4 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water, thyme sprigs, and garlic. Cover skillet and simmer over medium heat until artichokes are tender, about 5 minutes. Uncover and boil until no liquid remains, stirring often, 2 to 3 minutes. Add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and potatoes; stir to coat. Add cream and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until potatoes are heated through and browned in spots, stirring often, about 6 minutes. Season hash to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Heat oil in heavy large ovenproof skillet over high heat. Add steak and cook until bottom is brown, about 2 minutes. Turn steak over; transfer to oven and roast until cooked to desired doneness, about 7 minutes for medium-rare. Transfer to work surface; tent with foil to keep warm. Let rest 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, reheat artichoke potato hash gently over medium heat. Stir in chopped chives. Thinly slice steak crosswise. Divide steak and hash among plates. Drizzle some aioli over steak or serve on the side.