Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza

A college friend of mine from the Chicago area was recently in town for a visit, and in between climbing to the top of Telegraph Hill, riding the cable car, touring the Cal campus, and watching 21 Jump Street, we managed to find the time to make this insanely good Chicago-style deep dish pizza.  One word of warning: if you want to eat before 10 pm, you should probably start this earlier in the day than we did!  This pizza recipe takes about 3 hours from start to finish, and that's if you're being efficient with your time.  However, the wait is totally worth it.  This pizza has a tender, flaky crust (which possibly has something to do with all the butter in it!), which is topped with tons of mozzarella cheese, a super flavorful homemade tomato sauce, and any toppings you can dream up.  The cheese goes on the crust first to protect it from getting soggy, which works perfectly since deep dish pizza has a much longer cooking time (and more toppings/sauce) than the thin-crusted pizzas I usually make.  We filled one pie with fresh basil and awesome marinated tomatoes from the olive bar at my grocery store, and the other with black olives and chopped bell pepper - both awesome combinations. 

Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza (adapted from America's Test Kitchen)
Makes 2 pizzas (serves 4-6)

For the dough:
3-1/4 cups  all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1-1/2 tsp table salt
2 tsp sugar
2-1/4 tsp instant yeast
1-1/4 cups room-temperature water
3 T unsalted butter, melted
4 T unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp plus 4 T olive oil

For the sauce:
2 T unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt, more to taste
2 large garlic cloves, minced
14-15 ounce can tomato puree
14-15 ounce can diced tomatoes (in juice)
1/4 tsp sugar
2 T coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
1 T olive oil
Pepper, to taste

To finish:
1 pound mozzarella, grated
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese   
Toppings of your choice - we made one pizza with olives and bell pepper, and one with marinated tomatoes and fresh basil

1. Make the dough.  Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a dough hook.  Add the water and melted butter and mix on low speed until the dough is glossy and smooth and pulls away from the sizes of the bowl, about 5 minutes. 
2. Oil a medium bowl.  Shape the dough into a ball, roll around in the oil a bit, and then place in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise in a warm place until nearly doubled, 45-60 minutes. 
3. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion, oregano, and 1/2 tsp salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is golden brown, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook about 30 seconds.  Stir in the tomato puree, diced tomatoes, and sugar.  Bring to a boil and the reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer until reduced to about 2-1/2 cups, 25-30 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in basil and oil.  Taste and adjust for salt and pepper. 
4. Laminate the dough.  Turn the dough out onto a dry work surface and roll into a 15x12-inch rectangle.  Using a rubber spatula or offset spatula, spread the softened butter over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges.  Starting at the short end, roll into a tight cylinder.  With the seam-side down, flatten the cylinder into an 18x4-inch rectangle.  Cut the rectangle in half crosswise.  Working with one half at a time, fold into thirds like a business letter, pinch the seams together, and form into a ball.  Repeat with the remaining dough.  Oil another bowl, and then place each half of the dough in a separate oiled bowl.  Place in the refrigerator, and let rise until nearly doubled in bulk, 40-50 minutes.
5. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
6. Shape the dough.  Coat two 9-inch round cake pans with 2 T olive oil each.  Transfer one ball of dough to a dry work surface and roll into a 13-inch circle about 1/4-inch thick.  Transfer to pan and lightly press into bottom and and one inch up the sides.  If the dough is difficult to work with, let rest for 5 minutes so the gluten can relax.  Repeat with the other dough ball.
7. Assemble the pizzas. For each pizza, sprinkle half the mozzarella evenly over the dough.  Sprinkle your toppings over the cheese.  Spread half the tomato sauce over the cheese and toppings.  Sprinkle with half of the Parmesan.  Repeat with remaining ingredients. Bake until the crust is golden brown, 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven, pop pizza out of the pans, and let rest about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Baked Cod with Orange-Cashew Rice

I've come to really enjoy getting to know the guys at the fish counter at my grocery store - they're great at letting me know which fish is particularly good or for suggesting substitutions if the fish called for in a recipe isn't available.  In this case, I substituted cod for tilapia, with excellent results.  The fish here is pretty basic but delicious - baked with just salt, pepper, lime, and a bit of butter.  The only trick is to make sure to add the lime juice just before popping it into the oven so that the acid doesn't start 'cooking' the fish ahead of time. The simple baked fish is paired with extra-exciting rice.  I have to say, I'm a disaster when it comes to cooking rice.  I've even been known to mess it up in the rice maker, and when it comes to stovetop rice - forget about it!  However, this recipe turned out perfectly despite some errors along the way (I only added half the amount of liquid and had to add extra part of the way through cooking!).  The rice was tender and fluffy with a subtle sweetness from the orange juice, crunch from the cashews and bell peppers, and the nice surprise of bits of juicy tangerine.  Leftover rice made a great lunch the next day after stirring in some chickpeas and roasted cauliflower.

Baked Cod with Orange-Cashew Rice (adapted from mel's kitchen cafe, original recipe here)
Serves 2

For the rice:
3/4 cup water
1/4 orange juice
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
1/2 T olive oil
Generous pinch of salt
1/2 cup basmati rice
1/3 cup roasted cashew pieces
1/4 cup chopped bell pepper
2 green onions, minced
1 orange or large mandarin, supremed (I used a Sumo citrus)

For the fish:
2 cod fillets
Salt and black pepper
Zest of 1 lime
Juice of 1/2 lime (if juicy - use more if needed)
1 T unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment and lightly oil.
2. Combine the water, orange juice, orange zest, olive oil, and salt in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Add the rice and stir to combine.  Return to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer 20-25 minutes, until the rice is cooked through and the liquid is evaporated.  Remove from the heat, leaving on the cover, and let stand for 5-10 minutes (or until the rest of the recipe is finished).
3. Meanwhile, prepare the fish.  Season both sides of each fillet with salt and pepper and then sprinkle with the lime zest.  Right before popping in the oven, squeeze the lime juice over, and then top each piece with two small pieces of butter.  Bake 10-12 minutes, or until cooked through.
4. Just before serving, remove the cover from the rice and fluff with a fork.  Add the cashews, bell peppers, green onions, and mandarin pieces and gently stir to combine.  Taste and add salt if needed.
5. Divide the rice among two plates.  Gently transfer the fish to the plates.  Serve immediately.

I'm Lovin' It at TidyMom

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sage-Rubbed Turkey Breast

This turkey breast recipe is one my mom and I made all the way back at New Year's!  We used a similar technique to the one I often use with roast chicken - sage-laced butter is rubbed underneath the skin to infuse flavor throughout the meat, keep the turkey moist, and create a crispy skin.  Roasting a turkey breast rather than a whole turkey is a perfect option if you're serving a small group or if you want to serve multiple proteins (in our case we served the turkey alongside red wine roast beef).  Plus, since you don't have to worry about cooking the dark meat all the way through, you can avoid over-cooking the breast and pull it out when it's perfectly done. 

Sage-Rubbed Turkey Breast

One half turkey breast, about 2 to 3 pounds
4 T unsalted butter, soft
1 tsp dried sage
Several grinds sea salt (I used a flavored salt grinder from Trader Joe's with bay leaf, lemon, and thyme, but a regular one will work also)
A few grinds black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2. Using your fingers, gently separate the skin from the meat of the turkey breast.
3. Mash together the butter, sage, salt, and pepper until well combined.  Rub all over the turkey breast, using most of the butter under the skin.  If needed, secure the edge of the skin to the meat with a toothpick so it is covering as much of the meat as possible.
4. Place on a rack in a roasting pan.  Roast for about 30 minutes per pound, or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.  Remove from oven, cover with foil, and let rest for about 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

Here's our New Year's Day feast: My uncle's whole wheat bread with blueberry-Meyer lemon marmalade; baked potatoes with sour cream and parsley; spinach-walnut salad; red wine roast beef; and sage-rubbed turkey breast with whole cranberry sauce.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Mini Lime-Coconut Cheesecakes

I love mini cheesecakes - there's built-in portion control, plus they're so cute!  These cheesecakes are seriously delicious - the cheesecake itself is pucker-y tart and not too sweet, with a sweeter sour cream topping.  Coconut provides flavor for both the base and the garnish: a flurry of toasted coconut tops off the cheesecake, while untoasted coconut is combined with graham crackers for a tasty crust.  The yield will vary a bit depending on what you use to bake the cheesecakes - we made 12 in muffin tins and mixed up some extra crust for a small pie pan to bake up the extra batter.  Our best guess was that this would fill 18 muffin tins if baked all in those.  You can also use mini cheesecake molds if you have them.

Mini Lime-Coconut Cheesecakes (adapted from Zoe Bakes via A Dash of Sass)

Makes about 18 miniature cheesecakes

For the crust:
1 cup plus 2 T finely ground graham crackers
1 cup plus 2 T sweetened shredded coconut
6 T melted butter 

For the filling:
1-1/2 8-oz packages (3/4 pound) full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
6 large egg yolks
1/2 to 3/4 can sweetened condensed milk (start with the smaller amount and add more to taste)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup lime juice
1 T lime zest 

For the topping:
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Toasted coconut, for garnish 

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Place 18 cupcake papers in muffin tins.
2. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, shredded coconut, and butter in a food processor and pulse until well combined.  Divide among the cupcake papers and press down with fingers or the back of a spoon. Bake about 10 minutes to set the crust, and then remove from oven and let cool (leave the oven on for baking the filling).
3. Beat the cream cheese until it is smooth with no lumps.  Beat in the eggs one at a time.  Beat in 1/2 can of the sweetened condensed milk along with the granulated sugar. Beat in the lime juice and zest.  Taste, and add more sweetened condensed milk to taste.
4. Divide the cheesecake filling among the muffin tins, filling each one almost all the way full.
5. Bake 30-35 minutes, until the cheesecakes are set.
6. Remove from oven and let cool - the cheesecakes will sink, but that's ok since they'll be covered in topping.
7. Once the cheesecakes are cool, stir together the sour cream and powdered sugar.  Cover each cheesecake with a spoonful of sour cream topping.  Chill the cheesecakes.
8. Sprinkle with toasted coconut just before serving (so the coconut doesn't get soggy).

I'm sending this recipe off to the citrus blog hop at Katherine Martinelli.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spicy Quinoa Patties

I was immediately drawn to these quinoa cakes when they started making the blog rounds a while back.  My mom and I whipped them up a couple of months ago and everyone in the family loved them.  Despite the word 'patties' in the name, I wouldn't consider these to be a burger-substitute.  Rather, they're simply crunchy-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside, pan-fried scoops of quinoa with lots of flavorful add-ins.  We served these with a salsa my dad made with black beans, tomatoes, ground cherries, and corn, but they'd be fantastic with pretty much any salsa, relish, dip, or pesto.  We added raisins to half the patties after we thought of the idea midway through plopping them into the skillet, and we thought chopped walnuts or pecans would be a great addition as well. Despite the name, these are not overly spicy, so feel free to double the crushed red pepper flakes or add a minced chile if you like.  These do keep well in the fridge - simply reheat in a non-stick pan until warm.

Spicy Quinoa Patties (adapted from Super Natural Every Day via Soup Addict)
Serves 4

2 cups cooked quinoa, at room temperature (leftover quinoa is perfect)
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 very small sweet onion, finely chopped
1 scallion, green parts finely chopped
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
A few grinds of black pepper
3/4 cup whole grain bread crumbs, plus more if needed
A palmful of raisins and/or chopped nuts, optional
Water, as needed
Oil, for the pan

1. Stir together the quinoa, eggs, and salt in a medium bowl.  Add the onion, scallion, cheese, garlic, crushed red pepper, and black pepper and stir to combine.  Add the bread crumbs, stir, and let the mixture rest for a few minutes.
2. Test the mixture to see if it will hold together when a palm-ful is pressed together  Add water or more breadcrumbs if needed.  Optionally, stir in the raisins and/or nuts.   
3.  Heat the oil in two large skillets over medium heat until shimmering.  Shape the patties by tightly packing the mixture into a 1/4-cup or 1/3-cup measuring cup (depending on the size you want), and then gently plop into the hot oil, using the back of a spoon to gently press everything together.   
4. Cook 8-10 minutes, until the bottoms are nicely browned.  Carefully flip with a flexible spatula and cook the other side for about 7 minutes, until crispy and golden brown.
5. Remove from the skillet and serve.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Coconut Spinach with Chickpeas

I actually bookmarked this recipe twice from two different websites that had posted it because it looked so good! I definitely was not disappointed when I finally got around to cooking it.  This dish is what I'd call a 'sorta curry' - many of the same techniques and flavors as a curry, but with some non-traditional twists like the inclusion of sundried tomatoes.  The recipe didn't turn out spicy at all, so if you like it that way, you should either add more dried red pepper flakes or even some minced fresh chili (I'd add this with the garlic).  You can serve the chickpeas with steamed rice, lightly mashed cooked sweet potato, or a combination of both - I tried it all those ways and enjoyed it each time!

Coconut Spinach with Chickpeas (adapted from The Kitchn, via Serious Eats)
Serves 4

2 tsp ghee
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 T finely minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 large lemon, zested and juiced
Generous pinch dried red pepper flakes
15 ounces cooked chickpeas
Oil, as needed
1 pound baby spinach
14-ounce can coconut milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garam masala
Steamed rice, to serve
Mashed cooked sweet potatoes, to serve

1. In a large pot, heat the ghee over medium-high heat until melted and shimmering.  Add the onion and cook until it starts to brown, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, ginger, sun-dried tomatoes, lemon zest, and dried red pepper flakes.  Cook until fragrant, stirring often, 1-2 minutes.
2. Add the chickpeas and increase heat to high, adding a bit of oil as needed to prevent sticking.  Cook until the chickpeas start to turn golden, stirring constantly, about 3-4 minutes.
3. Add the spinach (working in batches as necessary), stirring to help it wilt.  Once all the spinach is in and slightly wilted, add the lemon juice, coconut milk, salt, and garam masala.  Bring to a simmer, and simmer until the spinach is very soft and the chickpeas are tender, 10-15 minutes.  Taste and add more salt or lemon juice if needed.
4. Serve over steamed rice and mashed sweet potatoes (or just choose your favorite).

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Thai Red Curry Mac 'n' Cheese

When I make mac and cheese at home, I usually stick to my mom's recipe - it's easy, comforting, delicious, and quite a bit healthier than most mac and cheese recipes out there (no butter, skim milk, and a limited amount of cheese). However, I have to say that this baked version is totally worth the extra effort and the extra calories! A rich cheese sauce is combined with an entire jar of red curry paste and then blanketed under buttered bread crumbs and baked - wow!  I was definitely nervous about adding the full amount of curry paste, but the result is not overwhelmingly spicy at all - I think the spices are balanced by the large amount of dairy in the dish, creating an excellent boost of flavor without becoming the only thing you taste.  Definitely give this one a try if you're in the mood to indulge a bit and would like a twist on the traditional mac 'n' cheese.

Thai Red Curry Mac 'n' Cheese (adapted from Aarti Party)
Serves 6 to 8

Kosher salt
1 pound macaroni
5 T butter
5 T flour
4-ounce jar Thai red curry paste
1 quart half-and-half
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated
8 ounces Cheddar cheese, grated

For the topping:
3/4 cup panko
2 T melted butter
Salt and pepper

1. Put on a large pot of water to boil.  Salt, and then cook the pasta according to package directions.  Drain.
2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Whisk in the flour and continue to whisk until the mixture browns and releases a toasty aroma, about 1 minute.
3. Whisk in the red curry paste (yes, the whole jar!).  When smooth, pour in the half-and-half. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly.  Reduce heat and simmer until the mixture thickens, whisking occasionally, about 5 minutes.
4. Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in the cheeses until melted.  Add the pasta and toss to combine.
5. Turn on the broiler.  While it heats up, toss together the panko and melted butter, and season with salt and pepper.
6. Put everything together.  Pour the mac and cheese into a broiler-safe casserole dish, sprinkle with the panko topping, and then broil until browned, about 1 minute.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Fennel and Radicchio Winter Salad with Toasted Pecans

This tart winter slaw hits all the right notes - bitter radicchio, nutty toasted pecans, crunchy fennel and romaine, salty cheese, and a nice bright dressing. It's totally addictive, the perfect counterpoint to a rich main dish.  I think my favorite part of this dish are the pieces of pecan scattered throughout - toasting them until they're almost burnt gives them great flavor, and it's definitely worth the splurge even though pecans are pretty expensive these days.  It was also lots of fun to try out my new mandoline - it made slicing the fennel and radicchio a breeze.  You can also use the slicing function on a food processor or a sharp knife (and some patience) if you don't have a mandoline, something I've done lots of times in similar recipes before getting a mandoline.

Fennel and Radicchio Winter Salad with Toasted Pecans (adapted from The Kitchn, original recipe here)
Serves 4-6

Olive oil
1 cup pecans
2 medium bulbs fennel, trimmed, halved and cored
1 small head radicchio, halved and cored
1 heart of Romaine lettuce
Pecorino cheese

For the dressing:
1 Meyer lemon
2 T seasoned rice vinegar
1 T soy sauce
1/4 cup olive oil

1. Heat a generous drizzle of olive oil in a small non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the pecans and cook, stirring frequently, for about 4 minutes, until toasted.  Let cool, and then roughly chop.
2. Thinly slice the fennel and radicchio on a mandoline (about 1/8-inch thick).  Chop the Romaine heart into bite-sized pieces.  Toss together the fennel, radicchio, Romaine, and pecans in a large bowl.
3. Place all the dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid.  Shake until combined.
4. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Taste and add salt or pepper if necessary.  Divide among plates, and top each serving with shaved Pecorino cheese (a vegetable peeler works well for this).

Friday, March 9, 2012

Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies

I often end up with half a block of cream cheese after making frosting or another recipe that doesn't require a whole package (like these raspberry-goat cheese topped brownies).  Since I don't enjoy cream cheese on bagels or toast, I have to get a little more creative in figuring out how to use it up before it goes bad.  These cream cheese swirl brownies were a perfect solution - other than the cream cheese, all the ingredients are things I typically have on hand in the pantry, so I didn't have to make an extra shopping trip.  Plus, the brownies are totally delicious!  The brownie batter is moist and chocolate-y, although it doesn't have that super fudge-like texture and flavor that some brownies do.  That's actually a good thing in this case, though, because the cream cheese swirl provides that more custard-y texture.  Because of the cream cheese in the topping, I thought it was safest to store these in the fridge after they cooled, but the brownies really do taste best at room temperature.  If (by some miracle) you have leftovers, I recommend pulling them out of the fridge an hour or so before you want to eat them (if you can wait!).

Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies (adapted from Miss in the Kitchen, original recipe here)
Makes one 9x9 pan of brownies

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 T canola oil
4 ounces cream cheese softened
2 T butter, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
3 eggs, divided
1/2 cup plus 1 T all purpose flour, dividced
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 T brewed coffee
1/3 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a 9x9 baking pan with foil.  Spray the pan with oil.
2. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring between each 30-second interval.  Once the chocolate is melted, stir in the oil.  Set aside.
3. Place the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Beat on high speed until fluffy.  Beat in the powdered sugar.  Beat in one of the eggs, followed by the flour and vanilla.  Beat for another minute or two until smooth.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining two eggs for a few minutes until lightened in color.  Briskly whisk in the sugars.  Add the remaining 1/2 cup flour and the baking powder, and beat with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until completely combined.  Beat in the coffee and the melted chocolate mixture.
5. Scrape the chocolate batter into the pan and spread evenly.  Drizzle the cream cheese mixture over and pull a knife through the batter to create a swirl.  Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the brownies.
6. Bake 30-40 minutes, or until just set in the middle.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Dark Chocolate Brownies with Raspberry Goat Cheese Topping

These are without a doubt special-occasion brownies: super rich, indulgent, and insanely delicious.  I made them for my boyfriend for Valentine's Day because the color seemed appropriate for the holiday, and they were a big hit!  The bottom layer is an extra fudge-y brownie, while the top layer combines brandied raspberries and goat cheese for a tart, creamy treat.  The brownies are so tasty, and anyone you give them to will know they are loved!  You'll want to cut the brownies into small squares because they're very rich, and so the recipe makes a lot of servings - you might want to make a half recipe in a 8x8 pan depending on how many you need.

Dark Chocolate Brownies with Raspberry Goat Cheese Topping (adapted from the Kitchn, original recipe here)
Makes a 9x13 pan

For the berries:
12 ounce bag frozen raspberries, thawed
2 tablespoons brandy

For the brownies:
8 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 ounces chocolate chips
12 T unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/2 cup milk
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

For the goat cheese topping:
8 ounces goat cheese, softened at room temperature for an hour
4 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temperature for an hour
2 T unsalted butter, softened at room temperature for an hour
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with foil or parchment and spray with oil.  Set aside.
2. Stir together the thawed berries and brandy in a small bowl.  Set aside.
3. Place the chocolate, chocolate chips, and butter in a large saucepan.  Set over low heat and melt, stirring almost constantly.  Remove from heat, whisk in the milk, and let cool 5 minutes.  Whisk in the sugar and vanilla (mixture will appear curdled).  Whisk in the eggs one at a time (at this point the mixture should look much smoother.
4. Sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Fold in until just combined.  Fold in about half the berries, and spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
5. Prepare the topping.  Beat together the goat cheese, cream cheese, butter, egg, and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the remaining berries along with their liquid and beat just briefly to combine (or fold in with a rubber spatula).  Pour evenly over the brownie batter and spread with a rubber spatula into an even layer.
6. Bake for 30 minutes or until just barely set. The top will be just turning light brown. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing.  Store at room temperature, well covered - the flavor and texture will improve from an overnight rest.

Monday, March 5, 2012

SRC: Portuguese Corn Bread

This month, my Secret Recipe Club assignment was Paulchen's Food Blog, which was full of delicious recipes to try.  Since I'd recently purchased some whole grain corn flour for another recipe, I thought I'd see if I could find some inspiration for using up the rest of the package. Indeed I did, with this delicious recipe for Portuguese corn bread.  This is a yeasted corn bread, so it takes more work than the quick bread version, but it's definitely worth it.  In addition to being tasty, it's also much healthier than your typical quick bread - over half the grains are whole grain, and the bread is fat free.  The result is a moist loaf that's perfect for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or for serving next to a bowl of soup or chili.  You can leave the top of the loaf plain or add your favorite spice blend - I used a fun citrus-fennel seasoning salt that added great flavor, but feel free to play around with different flavors here.

Portuguese Corn Bread (adapted from Paulchen's Food Blog, original recipe here)
Makes one loaf

1-1/4 cups boiling water
1 tsp honey
1-1/4 cups whole grain corn flour
1 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1-3/4 tsp fine salt

1. Combine the boiling water, honey, and whole grain corn flour in the bowl of a standing mixer.  Whisk to combine, and then let sit for one hour.
2.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the yeast and lukewarm water, and let proof for about 5 minutes, until bubbly.
3. Meanwhile, add the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, and salt to the corn flour mixture.  Mix on low speed with the dough hook attachment to break up the corn flour mixture - the mixture will resemble coarse crumbs.
4. Once the yeast is proofed, add to the flour mixture and mix on low speed for about 5 minutes.  Add more water or flour as needed to create a sticky dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl but sticks to the bottom - it will appear very shaggy.
5. Place in an oiled bowl, cover, and let sit 20 minutes.  Then gently fold the dough a few times (working from under the dough, fold it over itself 3-4 times).  Let sit another 20 minutes, and then repeat the folding process.  Let the dough sit a final 20 minutes (for a total of 60 minutes), and then fold a final time.  On the final fold, pick up the dough and form into a smooth round, placing it smooth-side-up in the bowl.  The dough will still be very sticky, but much more smooth than when you started.
6. Let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour in a warm room.
7. Shape the dough: without punching down the dough, pick it up and fold the edges under with your fingers to create a smooth, tight ball.  Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, seam side down.  Cover, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
8. About 15 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
9. Brush the loaf of bread with water, and sprinkle with salt or a spice blend if you like.  Pop the bread in the oven.  Bake 15 minutes at 400 degrees, and then turn the oven down to 375 degrees and bake for a further 15 minutes, until the bottom sounds hollow when tapped.
10. Let cool before serving.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sausage Ragù with Broccoli Rabe

I made this recipe a while back and really enjoyed it.  I often make quick pasta sauces from canned pasta sauce, sausage, and whatever veggies I have on hand - it's one of my favorite fast dinners when I don't have a lot of time.  This recipe is basically from-scratch version of that same idea, and it only takes a few minutes longer...definitely a winner!  The added vegetable here is broccoli raab, which I don't think I would have thought of for a tomato-based pasta sauce, but it actually works really well.  The broccoli raab contributed a slightly bitter flavor and toothsome texture - even my broccoli-hating boyfriend thought it was tasty.  The broccoli raab pairs well with turkey sausage, although any sort of Italian-seasoned sausage that you like would work well.  One note - although I definitely had leftovers and enjoyed them, I thought the sauce was best the same night I made it, so you might want to save this one for an evening when you're serving a crowd (or make a half recipe).  This is one I wouldn't freeze as I think the texture would suffer.

Sausage Ragù with Broccoli Rabe (adapted from Gastronomer's Guide, original recipe here)
Serves 6

1 bunch broccoli rabe (about 1 pound), thick stems removed
3 T olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 pound turkey Italian sausage, casings removed
1 T tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 sprig rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 pound pasta
Grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

1. In a large pot of boiling water, blanch broccoli rabe until bright green, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water until cooled.  Pat dry and coarsely chop.
2. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add sausage, crumbling with wooden spoon, and brown until no longer pink, about 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in tomato paste to coat all ingredients.
3. Pour in the wine to deglaze and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer for about 5 minutes to burn off the alcohol. Pour in the crushed tomatoes and add rosemary, bay leaf, and Italian seasoning. Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer. Cook until tomato sauce has darkened and thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes.
4. While the sauce cooks, bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt, and cook the pasta according to package directions.
5. Add the broccoli rabe to the sauce and rewarm. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce; stir to coat.  Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Blackened Shrimp on Kale and Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Andouille Cream

Tim and I made this dish in honor of Mardi Gras, and we absolutely loved it!  We were super tempted by the gorgeous photo on Closet Cooking, and couldn't wait to get started.  The recipe is definitely pretty complicated with lots of different components (all of which seem to need attention at the same time!), but it's so worth it.  I definitely recommend making this recipe with two people in the kitchen so you can more easily have multiple things going at once without going totally crazy.  :) 

Starting at the top of the bowl, the shrimp turn out perfectly tender and coated in a flavorful spice mixture that totally transported me back to New Orleans.  Under the shrimp is a rich andouille gravy that just tastes incredible - salty, meaty, and creamy.  The gravy flavors the two veggies underneath, bright green kale and mashed sweet potatoes.  I secretly think these components are added so you don't feel quite so guilty eating the dish, but they're also just tasty additions to the proteins and make this a one-bowl dish.  We were surprised that our leftovers actually kept quite well in the fridge - the texture of the shrimp suffers a bit, but overall everything was very tasty heated up for dinner the next evening.  Just be sure to store each component in a separate container.

Blackened Shrimp on Kale and Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Andouille Cream (adapted from Closet Cooking, original recipe here)
Serves 4

For the potatoes:
1 pound sweet potatoes
1 T butter
1/4 tsp cinnamon

For the gravy:
1 T oil
1 andouille sausage, diced
2 T onion, diced
2 T celery, diced
2 T bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp creole seasoning
1 T butter

For the shrimp:
1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 T oil
2 tsp creole seasoning
1 T butter

For the kale: 
1/2 bunch kale, rinsed and coarsely chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Poke the sweet potatoes with a fork, wrap in tin foil, poke with a fork again, and then bake until tender, about one hour.
2. While the potatoes bake, begin preparing the rest of the dish by cleaning the shrimp, making the creole seasoning, and chopping the vegetables.  Put on a pot of water to boil for the kale.
3. Make the gravy.  Heat the oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat.  Add the sausage and saute for three minutes.  Add the onion, celery, and bell pepper and saute for two minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the wine and deglaze the pan.  Add the cream and creole seasoning and simmer to reduce by half, about 5 minutes.  Whisk in the butter, remove from heat, and then cover and set aside.
4. Prepare the shrimp.  Toss the shrimp in the oil, and then toss in the creole seasoning.  Melt the butter in another skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the shrimp and saute until cooked, about 1-3 minutes per side.  You may need to do this in batches.  Cover and set aside.
5. Cook the kale.  Salt the boiling water and blanch the kale in it until tender, about 2-3 minutes.  Drain.
6. Finish the potatoes.  Once tender, peel and mash with the butter and cinnamon.
7. Assemble the dish.  Divide the sweet potatoes among four plates.  Top with the kale, andouille gravy, and shrimp. Enjoy!