Archive | March, 2012

Kale Caesar

27 Mar

Kale Caesar is a staple at Sam’s house.  This recipe was first sent to me by Lan— and i love it.  Instead of having egg in the dressing, you push hard boiled egg through a mesh strainer and use as a topping- and it is actually quite gorgeous. You can also- as I have- made pita chip croutons- as inspired by a different salad that I saw on Chuck’s Day Off. But if you are too lazy– and not in the fussy mood- as Sam & E & I were last week– you can quickly throw together just the kale and dressing. Tastes good too if you let the kale sit w. the dressing for a little bit, softens it up.

This recipe found on Epicurious– is originally from Bon Appetit
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
8 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil [last time just use 1/2 cup and worked fine]
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 hard-boiled egg, peeled
14 ounces Tuscan kale or other kale, center stalks removed, thinly sliced crosswise (about 8 cups). Tuscan kale also called lacinato, black kale or dinosaur kale– has long, narrow, bumpy dark green leaves.  [I find the best way to chop… hold leaf and pull out stem. Then stack all leaves in a pile- on top of the other. Then– starting at the top tip– roll it up– so you get a spiral of kale– and cut into thin ribbons— sort of like you would cut cookies from a roll of dough.

Put first 4 ingredients in a blender of food processor– and process until smooth. W. machine running, slowly add oil to make a creamy dressing. Transfer to a bowl and stir in 1/4 cup of parm. Salt & pepper to taste. Cover and chill. Can make dressing 2 days ahead.

If doing the sieved egg. Take hardboiled egg and separate egg white from yolk. Place egg white in a coarse mesh strainer– and push through w. a back of a spoon. Scrape egg white from bottom of strainer. (clean strainer in between- unless you are lazy, like me).  Repeat w. yolk. [to boil an egg, i usually just lower egg into boiling water and cook for 11 mins. take out and put in bowl w. cold water to cool before peeling.]

Toss kale and dressing in a large bowl to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan and sieved eggs.

For Pita chip croutons– A Chuck’s Day off method
1 pita pocket
olive oil
salt- sea salt if have. or kosher.
1 clove garlic

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Open pita– and cut around the edges so splits into the two rounds. Rub surface w. clove of garlic, drizzle w. olive oil and salt. Cut each round– into chips- maybe 6 triangles. Bake for 10 mins or until medium brown.
When cool, take in your hand– and crumble over the salad.
Obviously- if you just want to eat pita chips– that works too.


Andorra/ Barcelona

12 Mar

I fly into barcelona– take a 3 1/2 hour bus ride to Andoora– a tiny country you probably never heard of (unless you went to camp evergreen- then cue to burst into song). i arrive totally bleary eyed- and justin takes me to this tapas place- orders a bunch of things in spanish- and i have no idea what’s going on. but out arrives these amazing little green peppers- fire roasted and covered w. this epic sea salt. A few days later in Barcelona, i went to this restaurant–Paco Merlago thanks to Judy’s friend– and became obsessed with it for the 4 days I was in town. Mark my words- if anyone wants to join me next December– birthday dinner, 30yr old- will be there. i ate some blow-your-tastebuds dishes and still thinking about it a month later- decided to try to recreate some of them. I didn’t exactly have the recipes to guide me so I invited Reed and Rach over for dinner and got to experimenting. Surprisingly, it was a really easy and quick meal to throw together. By the way- if anyone is on their way to Barcelona I have a little googlemap of places I tried. If anyone has these for other cities too– would love to see!

Tomato Bread
When you get tapas in Barcelona- you most often get an accompaniment tomato bread- Pan con Tomate- to lap up all your tapas with. It is generally on a bread- a bit wider and a bit less crusty than a baguette.  To make, toast bread (i used ciabatta pannini loaf.) Drizzle olive oil on bread and toast in oven or face down in pan. Take a clove of fresh garlic in hand, rub on toasty bread. Cut the top off a fresh tomato and rub that on bread. Sprinkle w. sea salt.

Chorizo and Egg
I ordered this sausage and egg dish at Paco and it arrives at the table bubbling hot sausage in a little clay pot– then they crack an egg in it table-side and mix up for egg to cook. The sausage in this dish was more of an italian style- but I thought i’d make what we think of as chorizo flavored. I was surprised that i didn’t come across chorizo as we think of it in spain–  there, it is just the word for pork sausage- and I believe generally refers to a cured, hard more salami like. Also, in my research- I learned that mexican chorizo has a wholely different ingredient list.

This is adapted from Emeril recipe. Original calls for 3 pounds pork, cut into 1-in cubes and 1/2 pound pork fat, cubed and involves a meat grinder and cases. But as I didn’t have such- I decided just to make it uncased and start w. 1 pound of ground pork– and the adjusting the spices accordingly. I didn’t have a little ovenproof clay dish for serving- so used a frying pan.

3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup red wine
2 tablespoons paprika [used 1.5 tablespoon smoked paprika, half table sweet paprika- bought some new paprika- the spanish kind in those little yellow tins- so into it]
1 teaspoons crushed red pepper
1 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Put all spices in bottom of a bowl. Take a fork and mix in pork and wine. Let sit for a day or two for flavors to meld. I ate at 12 hours and again 36. Probably a difference- but still super delicious at 12- so don’t sweat it either way. I’m sure if you had to use some immediately would be good too. I just cooked a portion– then left the rest raw to continue to blend- instead of having cooked leftovers.
To serve- cook chorizo on stovetop in oven proof pan. Throw in very hot over for a few minutes (450 or 500 should be fine). Using an oven mitt! bring to table to show your friends. Crack a raw egg or two in- depending on how much you are serving- I used 2 eggs for half the meat. Mix up immediately and egg will cook. Eat w. tomato bread.

Roasted Peppers w. salt
There is actually a recipe for this in an Alice Waters cookbook. And it calls those small green peppers I had in Andorra Padron pimentos- also says Nardello or Lipstick peppers would work. I bought what I could find- which worked very well- labeled red and yellow sweet peppers. I used this amazing salt i bought in barcelona- at this awesome store- called Gispert.

To make. Heat a cast iron or stainless steel skillet with a thin layer of olive oil- medium-high heat. Lay peppers on. They will scorch and sizzle. Using tons, flip over periodically. Cook until start to blacken and blister- 5-10 minutes. Put on serving dish sprinkle w. the biggest coarse salt you have. Maldon sea salt flakes would work. Or fleur de sel.

Calamari w. white beans

This was an experiment. I more or less used the chorizo spice list. It was not quite the same flavor I had in Barcelona. But still super tasty. Serve w. tomato bread. The technique for making it was loosely inspired by a warm seafood salad recipe in the Union Sq Cafe cookbook.

1/2 pound cleaned calamari, cut into 1/2 in rings and tentacles
1 tsp tomato paste
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp red chili flakes
1/8 tsp ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 15 oz great northern beans or 1 1/2 cups beans– reconstituted and cooked dried beans. cannellini could also work
1 tsp salt
fresh ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lemon
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced [optional]

In a skillet, heat olive oil on medium. Add garlic, spices and tomato paste and let cook to release flavor- about a minute (do not let garlic burn.) Turn up heat to high and add calamari. Cook for 2 minutes- mixing around. Lower heat back to medium. add beans, white wine, cook a little further for wine to cook off and beans to heat. Take off heat. Finish w. salt, pepper and the juice of one lemon and parsley.


Pork Dumplings

1 Mar

Let me take you back maybe 2 years ago. Sam’s friend Whitney brought a bag of frozen Vanessa’s dumplings out to the beach- and they were delectable. So I went to the Vanessa’s in Chinatown and bought a bag myself. And lord I tell you, I could not figure out how to make them. I tried to fry them and I remember completely burning the outside- and the middle was raw. Which just goes to show- that even if you have no idea how to cook- or feel like you have no instinct on the matter– it can be learned– and if you have the patience and the willingness to do so- you can figure a lot out on your own.

Dumplings are one of those why should I bother making when i get buy them 6 for a dollar- and they will prob taste better anyway. Well, I dunno. I just felt like making something tedious. And sometimes dumplings can give me this mystery meat feeling- so I like knowing what’s in them? And they freeze super well, so just think how happy i will be– coming home late one night and remembering that homemade dumplings are just minutes away. I have to say- I was surprised how good these tasted- and how much like the dumplings I would buy. My only complaint was the wrappers- were kinda thin and skimpy. Next time I will either make my own- or try a different brand. Served dumplings w. bok choy in a miso butter– also made escarole w. miso butter this week- delicious.

This recipes comes from a blog called The Steamy Kitchen. I sort of internet meandered to it- finding that several people referenced an original recipe from Asian Dumplings by Andrea Nguyen. Steamy Kitchen says she  “adapted” from Andrea’s and I would highly recommend looking up her post for Chinese Boiled Pork Dumplings- because she has great pictures of the folding/wrapping process.  She says it makes 50 dumplings. But mine only made 28. Steamy K. also advices “Salting and squeezing the water out of the cabbage is essential. It prevents your dumplings from being too soggy!” FYI– ( ) is Steamy K. notes. Mine, as always, are [ ]. Thank you steamy k.

12 ounces napa cabbage leaves, roughly chopped (or regular cabbage) [estimated, using most of 3 pound cabbage, but cutting out a large portion of the heavy white stalk]
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/2 teaspoon table salt)
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (use microplane grater)
1/4 cup minced Chinese chives or green onions (white and green parts)
2/3 pound ground pork
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper (or freshly ground black pepper)
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry) [i used Mirin instead]
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 package frozen round dumpling wrappers (gyoza/potsticker wrappers), defrosted at room temperature for 30 minutes [frozen, mine took longer to defrost]
for the slurry: 1 tablespoon cornstarch + 1/2 cup water

1. For filling, put cabbage in food processor and process until finely chopped. Remove cabbage to large bowl and sprinkle w. salt. Let sit for 10 mins. In meantime, return to food processor– add ginger, chives, pork, pepper, soy sauce, rice wine and sesame oil. Pulse a few times to just mix- set aside.
2. Using your hands– a cheesecloth or clean paper towel- grab a handful of cabbage and squeeze to get out excess moisture. You want it to be dry. Put cabbage back in large bowl- fold in pork mixture.
3.[Line a baking sheet w. parchment or wax paper.] mix cornstarch and water in small bowl to make slurry [the glue]. Take one dumpling wrapper- spoon a scant tablespoon [tho I found a rounded teaspoon fit better] of the pork mixture into the middle of the wrapper. Dip a finger in the slurry– and trace it around the edges of the wrapper. Bring the bottom side of the wrapper, up to meet the top- to form a half moon shape. Pinch in the middle of the top– then around the edges– so there is no air bubbles and sealed all the way around, encasing the filling. [reminder that i recommend looking at Steamy K for picture. and this is definitely something the first one you will break- but then you get a the hang of it. kinda like rolling a… well, anything really]. Placing finished on baking sheet. covering w. a barely damp paper towel. Best to cover the wrapper pack w. a damp paper towel too so don’t dry out. Finish rest of dumplings- and put on baking sheet, making sure not to touch.
4. When all assembled, can cook immediately. [Otherwise, I’d recommend freezing them. Freeze whole baking sheet– then once completely frozen can throw in a ziplock.] To cook, fill a pot w. water, bring to a boil. Ease the dumplings in [i used a slotted spoon]. When water returns to a boil, turn heat to simmer and cook gently 6-8 mins. Remove w. slotted spoon. Serve w. hot chili sauce. [as i didn’t have- and was too lazy to make a proper dipping sauce- just ate w. soy sauce and sriracha]

Next stop- I am going to try frying and will let you know how it goes.


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