Thursday, October 29, 2015

Kale, Cabbage, and Brussels Sprout Chopped Salad

(recipe from Food 52)

For the greens:
1/2 lb. lacinato kale (about one small bunch, or half of a larger bunch)
1/2 lb. curly kale (about one small bunch, or half of a larger bunch)
1 lb. Brussels sprouts
1 lb. green cabbage (about half a medium head or a quarter of a large one)
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

For the dressing:
2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. whole grain mustard
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce (I left this out)
1 cup olive oil (or to your liking - I reduced the amount a bit)
1 Tbsp. hazelnut oil, optional
1 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds, for assembly
2 Tbsp. toasted pistachios, for assembly

Wash and spin dry the kale, remove large ribs and cut it, plus the cabbage, into small squares, about 1/4-inch by 1/4-inch (or to your desired size).  Halve the Brussels sprouts lengthwise, cut each half in half, and, with them lying cut-side down, slice them like you would an onion.  Don't stress about the technique too much - the important part is that everything is roughly the same size.

Place all chopped vegetables in a large bowl, add sugar and salt, and massage the greens slightly until they no longer feel raw.  This salad will only improve if you do this a few hours ahead of time, but it's not necessary.  (At this point, the salad can sit for up to 2 or 3 days.  It will lose water, so be sure to drain before continuing on.)

To make the dressing, combine the vinegar, mustard, salt, sugar, and Worcestershire sauce in a blender, and blend until the color lightens and everything is combined.  (You can also use a whisk and a strong arm for this.)  Slowly stream in the olive oil, and then the hazelnut oil, if using - you're looking for everything to be thick and emulsified.  (This dressing will last for 2 weeks in the fridge.)

Add dressing to greens, a few spoonfuls at a time - you want a well-dressed salad but not a soggy one.  (Keep in mind you will have leftover dressing, so no need to use it all.)  Fold in the sesame seeds and pistachios, and serve.

(This salad was delicious.  I'd probably tweak the dressing to be a little healthier - substitute something for the brown sugar - next time I make it, though.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Roasted Hubbard Squash Soup with Hazelnuts & Chives

(recipe from Fine Cooking magazine)

3 Tbsp. olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, peeled
1 Tbsp. coriander seeds
1 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
1 1/2 tsp. dried sage
1 small (5 1/2-6 lbs.) Hubbard squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter (I used coconut oil)
1 large leek (white and light-green parts only), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into small dice
Kosher salt
5 cups vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skinned, and chopped
2 Tbsp. thinly sliced chives
Several small pinches Espelette pepper or cayenne

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400F.  Line a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with parchment.

In a mortar and pestle, pound the oil, garlic, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, and sage until they resemble a coarse paste.  Rub the spice mixture on the flesh of the squash halves.  Set them cut side down on the prepared pan and roast until tender when pierced with a fork, about 1 hour.

Let cool, cut side up.  When cool enough to handle, scrape the flesh away from the rind - you'll need about 5 cups.

Melt the butter in a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the leek, carrots, and a big pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leek is softened, 8 to 10 minutes.  Add the squash, broth, bay leaf, and 1 tsp. salt and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to a low simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes to develop the soup's flavor.

Remove the bay leaf and allow the soup to cool slightly.  Puree the soup in batches in a blender.  Return the soup to the pot and add the lemon juice.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Garnish with the chopped hazelnuts, chives, and Espelette or cayenne pepper.

(Nice flavor.  The recipe is a bit involved, and I followed all of the steps, but I wonder if  the grinding of the spices to rub on the roasting squash is necessary - perhaps just add the spices into the soup along with the broth?  Also, the hazelnuts add an interesting element, but I think could just as well be left out, as they are only garnish.)

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Cranberry-Pecan Bread with Caraway Seeds

(recipe from Christina Cooks)

3 oz. dried, unsweetened cranberries
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup organic yellow cornmeal
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. caraway seeds
1/4 cup avocado oil (I used coconut oil)
1/3 cup brown rice syrup (I used maple syrup)
2 tsp. grated orange zest
1 1/2 cups unsweetened organic almond or soy milk
1/2 cup pecan pieces, lightly toasted

Preheat oven to 350F and lightly oil and flour a 10-inch deep-dish pie plate.

Mix dried cranberries and orange juice together in a small bowl and soak them for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Drain, discarding any excess juice.

Mix together dry ingredients.  Mix in oil, syrup and zest.  Slowly add milk until you achieve a thick spoonable batter, but do not over mix.  Fold in pecans and cranberries.  Spoon batter evenly into pie pan and bake for about 35 minutes, until the center of the bread springs back to the touch or a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool for about 10 minutes, then run a sharp knife around the rim and slice the bread into wedges.

(Hearty and not too sweet.)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

How to mix a martini.

(from Real Simple magazine)

"There are only a few things you need to know to make a martini the way a man does:  Make it dry, make it gin, make it brutally cold, and keep it simple.  "The quickest way to sissify a martini is to get creative," says David Wondrich, author of a forthcoming book on cocktails.  "Don't garnish it with a sprig of rosemary or put a splash of Frangelico in it or do anything fancy whatsoever."  As for making a martini with vodka, it's certainly possible.  But if it's a man's drink you're after, stick with gin and aim for a gin-to-vermouth ratio somewhere between five to one and eight to one, depending on how strong you like it.  "Any more vermouth and it's unbearably watery," says Wondrich.  "Any less and you might as well be drinking straight gin, which is fine but not a martini."


Chill a martini glass in the freezer for at least 5 minutes.  Pour 3 ounces gin (Beefeater, Tanqueray, or Bombay Sapphire - something around 94 proof) and 1/2 ounce Noilly Prat dry white vermouth into a stainless-steel cocktail shaker or a chilled tumbler.  Place 8 to 10 ice cubes (according to Wondrich, cracked or crushed ice chills faster than cubes) in the shaker or tumbler, stir vigorously for about 20 seconds with a long-handled spoon, and strain into the chilled martini glass.  How you finish off the martini is a matter of taste.  A twist is the classiest way to go and yields the cleanest-tasting drink.  An olive is the traditional garnish, and it looks cool.  Take your pick.

(Been on a real dirty martini kick lately.  I just love the write-up of this drink - so much to say over something so simple.  Anyway, I add a spoonful or two of olive juice and two olives and I'm happy.  Cheers!)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Mediterranean Crunch Salad

(recipe from Whole Foods Market)

1 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans
1 cucumber, chopped
1 cup small broccoli florets
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup finely sliced kale, tough stems removed
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
2 Tbsp. finely chopped Kalamata olives
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme (I used dried thyme)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Chill at least 1 hour before serving.

(Easy!  So yummy!)