Runner Beans

March 4, 2011

Meyer Lemon Radicchio Salad

Meyer Lemon Radicchio Salad

Meyer Lemon Radicchio Salad

Meyer lemons have surged in popularity over the last few winters, but if this flowery, sweet citrus is still new to you, you may still be discovering the best ways to use them. Most Meyer lemon recipes I’ve found are for desserts, and as much as I’d love to indulge in Meyer lemon souffles, Meyer lemon upside-down cake and Meyer lemon curd, I’m putting a halt to the number of sweets coming out of my oven. Enter the Meyer Lemon Radicchio Salad—a refreshing (and guilt-free) way to enjoy Meyer lemons in savory form.

Here the entire Meyer lemon—rind and all—is chopped into bite-sized pieces and tossed into the salad. Briny bites of feta, creamy chickpeas and slightly bitter radicchio are fitting companions for the sweet-tart Meyer lemon: each ingredient is unique, each complements the other. A delicate floral aroma and bursts of yellow, purple and green color call to mind the bounty of summer, but the use of citrus classifies this salad as a winter dish. Bright, crisp, light—if this dish is wintry, then it must be winter on the Greek isles. And quite frankly, that sounds better than any dessert.

Serve this salad alongside broiled fish, grilled chicken or turkey kebabs.

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 Meyer Lemon, washed and chopped into ½-inch pieces, seeds removed
1 cup chopped Vidalia or other sweet onion (I cut the amount in half and used red onion)
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cups sliced radicchio
¼ cup crumbled feta
2 Tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt (to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Make the Salad

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss to coat evenly.

And because the magazine provides nutrition facts, I’ll include ‘em so you can feel great about eating this salad:Per serving: 215 calories; 2 g saturated fat; 7 g unsaturated fat; 6 mg cholesterol; 26 g carb; 222mg sodium; 8 g protein; 7 g fiber.

Recipe from Whole Living magazine, January/February 2011, p 60.

February 2, 2011

Technology Detox = No Blog Post

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrea @ 9:51 am

Hello Dear Readers!

I’m writing to let you know I’ve been out of town for the past few days and have been detoxing from technology—thus no blog post for the early part of this week. I’m heading home today and will resume my regular posting schedule later this week.

Cheers!

January 26, 2011

Anatomy of Salad, or How I Recover from the Weekend Revelry

Anatomy of Salad, or How I Recover from the Weekend Revelry

Beet, Potato and Egg Salad

Weekends, at least in our household, are the days ordained for gastronomic revelry. Between the Saturday morning pancakes, sweets only on days that start with “S” (though I break that one almost daily) and dinners out with friends, we eat well. It’s a tradition that runs in the family: my mom has a set of dishes she uses only on the weekends, a toast to the few days of rest between harried workdays.

Last weekend was one such festive weekend, and it felt a bit like the holidays all over again. Friday night was Sam’s work party complete with cocktails, appetizers and multiple desserts. Saturday included a full-course afternoon tea with girlfriends. And then there was the pan of leftover brownies, with its siren’s call. Needless to say, when Sunday evening rolled around, Sam and I were craving something light and full of veggies. Thus commenced the creation of this salad.

Inspired by the French Salade Niçoise, I began with cold, cooked potatoes and boiled egg. The rest of the ingredients, though, fall into the category of “what’s left in the fridge.” This post is intended to be inspiration more than a hard and fast recipe. Use whatever vegetables you have on hand to create your own version. Here’s what I used in my “How I Recover From the Weekend” Salad:

  • Mixed greens (I used red and green oak lettuce leaves)
  • Homemade Balsamic & Mustard Vinaigrette (recipe below)
  • Cooked beets, cubed
  • Cooked potatoes, cubed
  • Medium or hard-boiled egg (instructions below)
  • Microgreens
  • Homemade bread crumbs (recipe below)
  • Parmesan cheese

Homemade Balsamic & Mustard Vinaigrette

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon mustard
Freshly ground salt and pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard and salt and pepper to taste. The mustard acts as an emulsifier and binds together the oil and vinegar, which normally do not mix well. This recipe easily doubles or triples if you need to make more.

Homemade Croutons

Several Slices of Your Bread of Choice
Olive oil
Freshly ground salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 325°F. Using a serrated knife, slice the bread into cubes, however big or small you like your croutons. In a bowl, toss the bread cubes with a few drizzles of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread the bread cubes onto a cookie sheet or baking tray and bake until crisp and lightly browned, 15-20 minutes. Remove bread crumbs from oven, let cool and store in an airtight container.

Medium-Boiled Egg

1 egg
Water
Salt

Fill a medium saucepan with water, add a pinch of salt and place pan over medium-high heat. When the water begins boiling rapidly, lower the egg into the boiling water with a spoon. Reduce heat slightly so the egg isn’t dancing all over the bottom of the pan but the water still simmers. Refer to this timing guide to determine how long to cook your egg:

  • 6 minutes: runny yolk guaranteed, white may be slightly undercooked
  • 7 minutes: some of yolk may have hardened, white will be fully cooked
  • And if a runny yolk makes you queasy, leave the egg in the boiling water a few extra minutes.

When the egg is finished cooking, remove it from the pan with a spoon, walk over to the sink and rinse the egg in plenty of cold water. Continue running cold water over the egg for at least 1 minute. This ensures that the egg stops cooking and also makes it easier to peep. Peel the egg.

Credits:

January 11, 2011

Broccoli Stir-Fry with Chicken and Mushrooms

Broccoli Stir-Fry with Chicken and Mushrooms

Broccoli Stir Fry

Mark Bittman, the celebrated New York Times food writer, recently wrote an article titled “Chop, Fry, Boil: Eating for One, or 6 Billion.” In the article, Bittman argues that the key to changing one’s eating habits begins with eating real food rather than going on a fad diet.

Bittman explains,

The problem is, real food is cooked by real people — you! — and real people are cooking less than ever before. We know why people don’t cook, or at least we think we do: they’re busy; they find “convenience” and restaurant foods more accessible than foods they cook themselves; they (incorrectly) believe that ready-to-eat foods are less expensive than those they cook themselves; they live in so-called food deserts and lack access to real food; and they were never taught to cook by their parents, making the trend self-perpetuating.”

In answer to this cooking conundrum, Bittman sets forth three easy, nutritious and sustainable recipes that any person should know how to cook. The recipes are simple and can be varied in countless ways. The first two recipes, chopped salad and rice and lentils, make fairly regular appearance on our dinner table. The third recipe, though, was something I rarely, if ever, cook: stir-fry. Following Bittman’s recipe for Broccoli Stir-Fry with Chicken and Mushrooms, I delved into the land stir-frys. The dish was quick and easy to make, used standard pantry ingredients and tasted delicious. In fact, I’ve already made it twice this week. How’s that for a girl who rarely repeats a recipe?

Yield: 4 servings.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons good-quality vegetable oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
4 scallions, chopped
1 pound broccoli, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces, the stems no more than 1/4-inch thick
8 ounces button mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and sliced
Salt
8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch chunks or thin slices and blotted dry
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Freshly ground black pepper.

Make the Broccoli Stir-Fry with Chicken and Mushrooms

1. Put a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add half the oil, swirl it around, and immediately add half the garlic and ginger. Cook for 15 seconds, stirring, then add the broccoli, mushrooms and all but a sprinkling of the scallions. Raise heat to high, and cook, stirring, until mushrooms release their water and broccoli is bright green and beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes.

2. Sprinkle with salt; add 1 cup water. Stir and cook until almost all liquid evaporates and broccoli is almost tender, another minute or two more, then transfer everything to a plate.

3. Turn heat to medium, add remaining oil, then remaining garlic and ginger. Stir, then add chicken and turn heat to high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken has lost its pink color, three to five minutes.

4. Turn heat to medium. Return broccoli, mushrooms and juices to the pan, and stir. Add soy sauce, sprinkle with more salt and some pepper; add a little more water if mixture is dry. Raise heat to high and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced slightly and you’ve scraped up all the bits of chicken. Taste and adjust seasoning, garnish with remaining scallion and serve.

Recipe written by Mark Bittman and published by the New York Times online (Dec 31, 2010).

January 7, 2011

Chicken and Rice Soup (and Anna K)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrea @ 7:08 pm

Chicken and Rice Soup (and Anna K)

Chicken and Rice Soup

January is a good month for Chicken Soup and Russian novels: Chicken soup because colds often rear their nasty heads after the holiday excitement dwindles and Russian novels because January is a long, sometimes dreary month and Russian novels are long and—let’s face it—sometimes dreary. Earlier this week I started rereading a college favorite, Anna Karenina. I can’t put it down. I wake up in the morning looking for 10 empty minutes where I can read a few chapters, and I go to bed at night wishing there were more hours in the day to read. I lose myself in the tragic tale of high society Moscow and Petersburg life; idealistic Levin trying to make sense of his changing country; and countless foreshadowing motifs of that crown of Industrialization—the train.

Chicken and Rice soup is simple food, the type of peasant food that Levin would have preferred to the champagne and oysters of Moscow. The broth is made from scratch by boiling a whole chicken in water with vegetables, and the result is pure, flavorful and unclouded. This chicken soup is so easy to make that it will leave you plenty of time to read your Russian novel. And unless you’re feeding a crowd, the leftovers will save you cooking time later in the week, giving you even more time to read. Whether or not you feel groggy with a headcold, this soup will warm you through, helping you relax as you agonize over the fate of a certain few Russians.

Serves 8 (Makes about 16 cups)

Ingredients

1 large onion, coarsely chopped
3 large celery ribs, cut into ¼-inch-thick-slices
3 medium carrots, cut into ¼-inch-thick-slices
1 (3½- to 4-pound) chicken
1 cup long-grain brown rice (don’t use white rice because it will turn mushy)
⅓ cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 Tablespoon salt, divided
3 quarts water
Freshly ground black pepper

Make the Soup

Combine onion, celery, carrots, chicken, rice, parsley and 1 teaspoon salt in a 6-quart pot. Add water and bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer, skimming off fat as needed, for 1 hour.

Transfer chicken to a colander. When cool enough to handle, remove meat; discard skin and bones. Coarsely shred chicken and return to soup. Add remaining 2 teaspoons salt and pepper to taste and reheat if necessary.

This recipe is from my favorite cookbook, The Gourmet Cookbook (Houghton Mifflin 2004), p 122.

December 3, 2010

Alton Brown’s Sardine Avocado Sandwich

Filed under: Recipes, seafood, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Andrea @ 10:13 pm

Alton Brown’s Sardine Avocado Sandwich

sardine avocado sandwich

In the spirit of Michael Pollan’s Food Rule #32, “Don’t overlook the oily little fishes,” I went to the grocery store on Wednesday and bought 2 tins of sardines, 1 tin of kippered herring and 4 fresh sardines. I have eaten very few oily little fishes in my lifetime, so I was slightly skeptical that I would like these. As such, I followed my mom’s recommendation for a great beginner sardine dish: Alton Brown’s Sardine Avocado Sandwiches.

I was a bit nervous as I peeled back the lid on the tin of sardines—online commenters on sardine recipes made it very clear that sardines smell pretty fishy … and not in a good way. My sardines did smell like fish and the ocean, but their smell surprisingly was not rancid or repulsive. The sardines were packed in Extra Virgin Olive Oil and fell apart as I put them into a dish. I didn’t mind though; the idea of whole sardines staring up at me from the toast was not appetizing. Next step: marinate the sardines in sherry vinegar, lemon zest and black pepper (as well as the oil in which they were packed). Alton Brown knew what he was doing when he designed this sandwich because creamy avocado is an ideal accompaniment to sardines, both tempering and complementing the strong flavor of the sardines. With just two bites of this sandwich, I knew it wouldn’t be hard to make this a weekly lunch item. In fact, this simple and nutritious recipe had me thinking it would be impossible to overlook the oily little fishes again.

Makes 4 open-faced sandwiches (serves 2)

Ingredients

2 (3.75-ounce 2-layer) tins brisling sardines in olive oil (1 can was sufficient for me)
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley leaves, divided
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
¼ teaspoon lemon zest, reserve the lemon and cut into 4 wedges
Freshly ground black pepper
4 (½ – inch) thick slices crusty bread, such as sourdough, country loaf or rye
1 ripe Hass avocado
Coarse sea salt

Method

Drain the oil from 1 tin of sardines into a small bowl and set aside. Drain the oil from the second tin into another small bowl and whisk in 1 tablespoon of parsley, vinegar, lemon zest and black pepper to taste. Add the sardines, stir to combine and set aside for 45 – 60 minutes.

Brush the bread with the remaining sardine oil and broil directly on rack for 2 to 3 minutes until golden brown and crisp (or skip the broiler and toast the un-oiled bread in your toaster).

Halve the avocado and remove the pit. Smash the flesh in each half with a fork. Spread the mashed avocado evenly onto the toasted bread. Top evenly with the sardines. Pour any remaining dressing on top and garnish with the remaining parsley. Season lightly with sea salt and serve with lemon wedges.

Recipe (Sherried Sardine Toast) from Alton Brown on Food Network.com.

November 18, 2010

Broccoli Rabe with Bulgur and Almonds

Filed under: dinner, Recipes, Uncategorized, vegetables — Tags: , , — Andrea @ 3:43 pm

Broccoli Rabe with Bulgur and Almonds

broccoli rabe and bulgur

Broccoli Rabe, also called Rapini, is a vegetable traditionally used in Italian, Spanish and Chinese cooking. Thanks to globalization, it’s now fairly easy to find in our U.S. markets, and is claiming its place on more and more American dinner plates. Broccoli Rabe’s slender stalks, dark green leaves and petite broccoli-bud heads are all edible and bear a resemblance in taste to broccoli (surprise!) and mustard. The delicate yellow flowers on the flowering bunches are similar to the pale yellow blossoms on mustard greens. I’m guessing these greens are cousins (or at least second cousins) because they look and taste similar to each other.

In this recipe, sautéed onions, toasted almonds and nutty bulgur temper the bitterness and pungency of Broccoli Rabe, yet still allow the broccoli flavor to hold center stage. Briny feta cheese is an ideal topping, though you could substitute parmesan if you prefer a milder cheese. Serve the Broccoli Rabe with Bulgur and Almonds as a side dish alongside roasted chicken or make it into an entrée by topping with a soft-boiled egg and serving roasted acorn squash with thyme on the side.

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 cup bulgur wheat
2 ½ cups boiling water
1 ½ pounds broccoli rabe (rapini; 1 very large bunch), bottom 1 inch of stems trimmed
2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, minced (about 2/3 cup)
⅔ cup finely chopped almonds (or walnuts)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup crumbled Feta cheese

Make the Broccoli Rabe with Bulgur and Almonds

Place bulgur in medium bowl; pour 2 ½ cups boiling water over. Stir once and let stand until just tender, about 20 minutes. Pour bulgur into fine strainer set over bowl. Reserve soaking liquid.

Separate the broccoli rabe leaves from the stalks. Cook broccoli rabe leaves in boiling salted water until wilted, 1-2 minutes. Using tongs, transfer to bowl of ice water and cool. Cook broccoli rabe stalks in the same boiling water until crisp-tender, 4-5 minutes. Drain; julienne the leaves, cut stalks into bite-sized pieces and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté until soft, about 2 minutes. Add almonds; sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add broccoli rabe and bulgur; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until heated, about 3 minutes. If dry, add reserved bulgur soaking liquid by tablespoonfuls. Stir in lemon juice; season with salt and pepper. Toss in half of Feta. Pass remaining cheese separately.

Recipe adapted from Epicurious.com’s Broccoli Rabe with Bulgur and Walnuts.

August 31, 2010

Greetings from the Big Apple

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrea @ 8:02 am

taxis in NYCHi Friends! Last week and this week finds Sam and me rather busy: last week we celebrated a dear friend’s wedding and entertained house guests, while this week we are visiting New York City. I imagine you can understand why my blogging has been pushed by the wayside! This week, in addition to exploring the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Public Library and Central Park, we plan to revel in New York’s famed food scene (recommendations welcome!). Check back soon for photos of our adventures in New York!

July 8, 2010

Announcement!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrea @ 9:04 pm

Announcement!

andreaAfter nearly three months of solid weekday blogging, I have decided to reduce my weekly number of posts. Instead of posting every weekday, I’ll only post blogs on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Why? It all boils down to quality versus quantity. I want to concentrate on creating higher-quality blog posts, which means I will do more thorough post planning and recipe development and testing, hopefully resulting in better reader satisfaction. My goal is to share recipes that will inspire you to get in the kitchen and cook delicious, healthy, unprocessed meals, and I’m taking these steps to accomplish that goal.

Have a great weekend and see you Tuesday!

June 8, 2010

Russian River Valley Wine Tasting

Filed under: Informational, Personal Essays, Uncategorized — Tags: — Andrea @ 11:46 pm

Russian River Valley Wine Tasting

Last weekend my parents, aunt and uncle, and  Sam and I visited the Russian River Valley just north of San Francisco in Sonoma County for a day of wine tasting. We are incredibly spoiled to live just an hour away from the world-renowned wine producing regions of Napa and Sonoma. Though I’m no veteran wine aficionado, I have learned that a visit to Napa and Sonoma is not simply about the wine—-it is about the rolling hillsides, the knotted oaks, the great spreads of green grass, and the bright wildflowers. This is the terroir or the land, and in winemaking, the land plays an immensely important role in producing distinctive wines because it imparts subtle characteristics to the wine. To put it plainly: you can take the wine away from the land, but you can’t take the land out of the wine. Thus, in this post, I offer you not critiques of this or that wine or winery, but photos of the land from which these wines were wrought.

We visited four wineries:

  • Merry Edwards Winery (Owner/Founder Merry Edwards is one of the first female award-winning winemakers in the region; free tastings)
  • Iron Horse Vineyards (Specialize in sparkling wines; they have two tasting flights of 5 different sparkling wines)
  • Dutton Estate (This was the least interesting of the four, though their Pinot was well-liked)
  • Lynmar Estate (Lovely gardens, beautiful facility, pizza oven; make a mean Chardonnay and Pinot Noir)

    Iron Horse View

    View from the Iron Horse Winery.

berries

These blackberries were growing outside a berry stand near the Iron Horse Winery. Makes me want to pick a handful and eat them with a bowl of vanilla ice cream.

artichoke

Recognize this garden beauty? Yep, it's an artichoke. Seeing an artichoke begin to bloom was a special treat because usually I just see them on my dinner plate with their spikey, triangular arms tucked close to their body.

flowers 1

Check out these flowers! I love the green and purple colors on them and the interesting shape. Anybody know their name?

foxglove

And here is the graceful Foxglove. When I was growing up in Washington, we treasured the few Foxgloves that would spring up on our property amidst the Fireweed. Fireweed were a nuisance and needed to be eradicated, but Foxgloves were like jewels.

mache

The garden at Lynmar Estate was home to many varieties of fruits, vegetables and herbs, such as these Mache salad greens. I've been reading so much about gardens lately, so it was fun to walk through an abundant garden.

pizza oven

Lynmar Estate also had their own outdoor pizza oven where they have pizza parties once a month. I told Sam I wanted an outdoor pizza oven for my 4oth birthday. Good thing he's still got many years to plan that one!

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