Thursday, October 26, 2017

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

We recently bought a new house, and there's a fantastic Mexican grocery store in our new neighborhood.  I found some delicious-looking tomatillos there, and knew I wanted to make a roasted tomatillo salsa.  A roommate of mine from grad school had made this type of salsa, and after looking at a bunch of different recipes online, I think I figured out a pretty good approximation! The recipe is super easy -- roast all the veggies, and then puree with either a blender or stick blender.  It keeps well in the fridge, and is so tasty -- I could eat it with a spoon!  This version is mild, but you can either use a hotter chile or add more jalapenos if you prefer a spicy salsa.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

16-24 ounces fresh tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed well
1 jalapeno pepper
1/2 large white onion, cut into large wedges
Olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
Handful of fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.  Toss the tomatillos, jalapeno, and onion with olive oil, and arrange in a single layer.  Sprinkle with a little salt.
2. Roast the veggies for 14-15 minutes, turning them once about halfway through.
3. Let cool slightly.  Remove the stem/seeds from the jalapeno and the cores from the tomatillos.  Add all the veggies to a blender or tall bowl (to use with a stick blender).  Tip in a little olive oil, along with the lime juice and cilantro.  Process until the salsa is as chunky as you like it.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Peanut-Chocolate Chunk Shortbread

I made these cookies for a recent potluck, and they were a big hit! People could hardly believe they were peanut cookies -- I think because peanut butter cookies are so much more common, and starting with whole peanuts really creates a different texture.  Although the dough for these cookies comes together quickly in the food processor, slicing and shaping them was pretty fussy -- the dough crumbles very easily and I often had to sort of push everything back together on the baking sheet.  That said, once the cookies were baked and cooled, they stood up well and had a lovely shortbread-type texture and delicate flavor.  

Peanut-Chocolate Chunk Shortbread (adapted from Alice Medrich's Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts)

1 heaping cup lightly salted peaunts
1 slightly rounded cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 stick (8 T) unsalted butter, cut into chunks and softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chunks

1. Place the nuts, flour, and sugar in a food processor, and process until the nuts are just ground.  Add the butter and vanilla, and process until the mixture forms a dough.  Add the chocolate chunks, and process until just incorporated.
2. Shape the dough into a log, wrap in parchment or wax paper, and chill overnight.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment or foil.
4. Remove the dough log from the fridge, and let sit about 10 minutes to soften slightly.  Slice into 1/4-inch thick slices and arrange on the baking sheets.  I found the dough was really crumbly, but when this happened, I just sort of pushed the dough back together and it baked up fine!  Bake 12-14 minutes, rotating halfway through.  The cookies will be lightly browned on the bottoms.
5. Let the cookies rest on the sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Cheddar-Bacon Biscuits and Citrus-Kale Salad with Roasted Salmon

This biscuit recipe is so good I've made it three times in the past couple of months!  It's nice because it's super flexible -- I've used various types of dairy, and a whole range of different mix-ins.  If you don't have a full cup of milk, you can add some sour cream or plain yogurt to supplement.  The cheddar-bacon combo pictured below is fantastic, and I've also made a version with cornmeal, dried cherries, and pecans that is amazing with peach jam.  Best of all, the biscuit recipe is easy to pull together, even on a weeknight.

Make it a full meal with kale salad and roasted salmon.  These dishes are both simple but flavorful, and a nice lighter complement to the richer biscuits.  I especially loved the citrus dressing on the kale salad, with both lemon and orange juice plus Dijon mustard.  Yum!

All-Purpose Fancy Biscuits, with Cheddar-Bacon variation (adapted from Food Network Magazine)
Makes 9 biscuits (or cut into smaller pieces for more biscuits)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.  Spray with oil.

Whisk together:
2-1/2 cups flour (sub up to 1 cup with whole wheat or 1/2 cup with cornmeal)
2 T baking powdr
1 T sugar
1-1/2 tsp kosher salt

Cut 1 stick unsalted butter into small cubes, and cut into the flour using two knives.  If you have some large pieces, you can blend them in with your fingers.  

Add up to 1 cup mix-ins -- I used shredded cheddar cheese and diced bacon, but there are many options:
Grated cheese (cheddar, jack, havarti, Parmesan, etc.)
Crumbled bacon
Fresh herbs (scallions, chives, parsley, thyme, sage, etc.)
Pitted and chopped olives
Chopped nuts 
Dried fruit (chopped if large)
Seeds (poppy, sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, etc.)
Drained and chopped picked hot peppers
Drained and chopped sun-dried tomatoes
Up to 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (or another vegetable puree)
Citrus zest (lemon, orange, lime, etc.)

Add 1 cup buttermilk or whole milk, and stir until the dough just comes together.  Pat into a rectangle, about 3/4-inch thick, and then fold in half and pat out again to the same size.  Cut into rectangles (or use a biscuit cutter to create other shapes. Arrange on the prepared baking sheet, and bake 12-15 minutes, until well-browned.

All-Purpose Citrus Dressing (adapted from Cooking Light)

2 T olive oil
1 T lemon juice
1 T orange juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard (creamy or country-style both work)
1 small clove minced garlic (optional)
Season with salt and pepper

Whisk everything together, taste, and adjust seasoning (I added a bit more lemon juice).

Citrus-Kale Salad with Roasted Salmon (adapted from Cooking Light)
Easily adaptable to any number of servings -- one bunch of kale will serve 2-3 people

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.  Rub fresh salmon with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Roast about 15 minutes, until it flakes easily.

Shred raw kale, and wash well.  Place in a large serving bowl and drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Massage for a minute or two until the kale starts to break down.  Add halved red grapes, orange sections, and crumbled goat cheese.  Dress with All-Purpose Citrus Dressing (see above).  Toss, and serve topped with roasted salmon.