Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cauliflower with Bechamel

Trust me there is cauliflower under all that ooey gooey goodness. Both Scottie and I have been feeling under the weather...he even stayed home today. So, I felt we could both do with some comfort food. I'd never made a bechamel sauce before and I kind of winged this one. Inspired believe it or not, by seeing Rachel Ray prepare a gnarly, cheesefest of a pasta dish that she topped with bread crumbs and Parm just before I headed into the kitchen to presumably make steamed cauliflower. Instead I went to the computer and found a quickie bechamel recipe from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook. The original called for using regular milk and ap flour, but I figured I'd experiment. I used brown rice flour in place of the ap and plain unsweetened soy milk for the cow milk. I did use butter, but you could easily use Earth Balance in place of that. I almost wish I hadn't been out of it since both Scottie and I are stuffed up and I'm sure the butter didn't help any. Next time I'll try it that way. I'd made lentils with a mustard tarragon vinaigrette (made with onions instead of leeks) the night before having doubled the amount of lentils needed for veggie burgers. All I can say is...what foresight! :-) Dinner came together with a minimum of fuss since I just lightly oiled, salted and peppered tilapia filets and broiled them (~4 min first side, then ~2 more minutes on the other) to go on top of the lentils. We both loved the splurge of having more than just steamed cauliflower, so I thought I'd better write down my recipe before I forgot it!

Cauliflower with Bechamel:

1/2 of one large head of cauliflower, cut into florets and steamed
2 Tbs butter, Earth Balance, or canola oil (I'm just assuming a light flavored oil would work fine)
2 Tbs brown rice flour (or regular ap flour, or whole wheat pastry flour?)
1 1/4 cups plain unsweetened soy milk (or regular milk)
salt and pepper to taste
a couple rasps of nutmeg
a couple shakes of garlic powder
toasted whole wheat bread crumbs
grated Parmesan (I would have liked to use a nice aged Gruyere if I'd had any)
olive oil

Preheat your broiler.
Heat soy milk in a small sauce pan, taking care not to scald it.
While the milk is heating, add butter to another sauce pan and when foamy whisk in flour and cook it for ~2 minutes.
Add hot milk whisking to prevent lumps and continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes.
Add salt, pepper, nutmeg and garlic powder to taste.
Toss cauliflower in bechamel to coat, then arrange cauliflower in a casserole dish.
Combine about equal parts Parm or other hard cheese and whole wheat bread crumbs in a bowl and toss with a little olive oil to moisten.
Sprinkle cheese and bread crumb mixture on top of cauliflower and then broil until toasty.
Easy to veganize if you just ditch the cheese and sub for the butter.
Delicious just as I made it. You'd never know it was made with soy milk! Yay for experiments gone right!

A heinous picture, but man was this a good dinner!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Chicken with Artichokes and Sundried Tomatoes

I made this about a month ago for the first time and tried to remember what I'd put in it to make it again this time. Realizing THIS is why I'd started this blog in the first place! Alas...the summer haitus. I did replicate it pretty well though. Very yummy one skillet meal that provided us with dinner for 2 nights and a lunch due to a larger than I thought package of chicken tenders.
Writing it down now...lest I forget it in the next 5 seconds!

Chicken with Artichokes and Sun-dried Tomatoes:

1 package organic chicken tenders
brown rice flour, or regular ap flour
olive oil
salt and pepper
~1/2 of a large onion, sliced or diced or whatevah
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes (with the liquid)
1 15 oz. can quatered artichoke hearts, drained (not the marinated ones)
~6 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
reduced sodium organic chicken broth
a glug or two of white wine
fresh basil, torn (some cooked with chicken and some for garnish)
commercial pesto (I used about 1/2 of a pretty small jar...probably ~2 Tbs.)
freshly grated Parmesan Reggianno
Italian parsley for garnish (optional)

Heat a large non-stick skillet.
Salt and pepper the chicken tenders then roll in flour, shaking off the excess flour.
Add a little olive oil to the pan and when it's hot, add chicken to pan.
Sear the chicken for about 2 minutes each side on high heat, just til golden.
Remove chicken from pan and keep warm.
Add a touch more olive oil to pan and saute onions until translucent.
Add chopped garlic and cook for ~1-2 minutes more.
Add whole can of tomatoes with the liquid, cooking until most of the liquid is gone.
Now add the drained artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes and as much basil as you'd like (I probably used ~1-2 Tbs. chopped), stir, then nestle the chicken back in the pan in a single layer.
Pour in a couple glugs of white wine, then add chicken broth until it comes about 1/2-3/4 up the chicken.
Cover and reduce heat, and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Check the chicken to see if it's done. When done, remove from heat and add a couple dollops of pesto and delicately stir through.
Serve topped with Parmesan, some more torn basil and maybe some Italian parsley. Yum!
We ate this with a green salad and some steamed cauliflower.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Kale and Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes

These were a really nice side dish and a good way to get more nutrition into mashed potatoes.
I can't bring myself to purchase organic kale anymore because it just takes too darn long and too much water to wash out most of the bugs. Ick.

Update! This has all changed since I watched Alton Brown wash his greens in the washing machine. Now I buy enough kale to warrant a small load and let the machine do the de-bugging for me. Tra la!

I deviated from the original recipe by using a combo of buttermilk that I had in the fridge and chicken broth for the liquid. Amounts are all relative to the amount of potatoes you'll have. I would have liked to use Yukon golds for the visual, but found myself at a store that only sold 5 lb bags of them! I ended up using one fat unpeeled Russet tater that made plenty with leftovers for the Monster and myself. I'm writing up the recipe for 3 lbs of potatoes (as I found it), rather than as I made it to feed 2. I don't remember who to give credit for this of the blogs I read. :-)

Kale and Olive Oil Mashed Potato Recipe:

3 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
sea salt
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch kale, large stems stripped and discarded, leaves chopped very finely
1/2+ cup warm milk, plain unsweetened soy milk, low fat buttermilk, chicken broth or combo.
freshly ground black pepper
2-4 scallions, white and tender green parts, chopped
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, for garnish (opt)

Put the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Add a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil and continue boiling for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and saute until it becomes golden. Add chopped kale, a good pinch of salt, and saute just until tender (2-3 min?). Set aside.

Mash the potatoes with a potato masher or fork. Slowly stir in your liquid of choice a few big splashes at a time. You are after a thick, creamy texture, so if your potatoes are on the dry side keep adding liquid until the texture is right. Season with salt and pepper.

Dump the kale on top of the potatoes and give a quick stir. Transfer to a serving bowl, make a well in the center of the potatoes and pour the remaining olive oil. Sprinkle with the scallions and Parmesan cheese.

Serves 6.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Turkish Zucchini Pancakes and Turkish-Style Grilled Chicken

I found this recipe for Turkish Zucchini Pancakes on a fellow blogger's site and had high hopes for them. I even sought out a Turkish chicken recipe that I thought might compliment it. Maybe it's because I used about the half the cheese the pancakes called for but they seemed like a lot of work for an ok end product.
And if you're having to buy your herbs it can get spendy. I felt the zucchini didn't really come through and wonder if maybe it'd be worth trying again, without salting the squash first. I guess I'm a weirdo for wanting to be able to taste my veggies? :-) There wasn't a salt amount given in the original recipe and I don't think I put enough in...thinking the feta and the salted then rinsed zuke would have added their own saltiness. This could be streamlined and improved, so I might have another whack at it and republish the recipe as I've changed it. The Monster just walked in and commented that he'd make them less dilly too, so use your own judgment on that.

The chicken thighs were good, but I don't think they merited having to wash the food processor to make the marinade. We just like the Cardamom Chicken so much better and it's easy peasy.
If you do try it and don't feel like grilling, you can just roast them like I did on a sheet pan at 400 for 30-35 minutes (or until they reach ~170). I halved the marinade recipe for 5 largish thighs and marinated overnight.

Turkish Zucchini Pancakes (Mucver):
(from Seasonal Ontario Food's blog)

450 grams (1 pound) zucchini (1 large or 2 medium)
2 to 4 green onions, minced
1/3 cup minced fresh dillweed
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil and/or mint
salt and pepper
4 extra-large eggs
1/2 cup soft unbleached flour
150 grams feta cheese (I used about 80g?)
1/4 cup grapeseed, sunflower, or canola oil

Wash and grate the zucchini. Put it in a colander in layers, sprinkling salt between each layer. Set it aside to drain as you prepare the remaining ingredients. (total pain to try to get the zuke off the paper toweling and a waste of paper towels...I'd try to figure something else out)

Wash, trim and mince the green onions, the dill, parsley, basil and/or mint. Put them in a large mixing bowl, and season with the salt and pepper. Beat in the eggs.

Rinse the zucchini and drain well. Then, take it by handfuls and squeeze it thoroughly, into a little ball, being sure to get out as much moisture as possible. Once each handful of zucchini is squeezed dry, add it to the herbs and eggs. It is really important to do this; they will cook much more quickly and evenly. When the zucchini is all in, mix in the flour and the feta cheese, crumbled.

The batter can be made ahead, kept refrigerated and covered until wanted (the same day.)

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Use a 1/4 cup measuring spoon to scoop out the batter. Place them in the hot oil, then press down to form neat 1/2" thick pancakes with the pancake lifter.

They will cook fairly quickly, about 5 minutes per side. They should be a good dark golden brown. As they cook, put them on a plate padded with paper towel in the oven to keep warm. Serve them hot, with yogurt or light sour cream with garlic mixed into it if you like.

Turkish-style Grilled Chicken with Yogurt and Cumin (Tavuk Izgara):
(From The Mediterranean Kitchen by Joyce Goldstein)

Plan ahead to let chicken marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

* 2 Tablespoons cumin seeds
* 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
* 4 to 6 cloves garlic, finely minced
* 1 Tablespoon paprika
* Juice of 1 lemon
* 1 cup plain yogurt
* 12 boneless chicken thighs, about 2 to 2-1/2 pounds, or 4 half broilers
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* Lemon wedges for serving (oops, I forgot these)

Toast the cumin seeds in a small saute pan over medium heat until the seeds are fragrant and start to pop in the pan. Remove from the heat and grind in a spice grinder5.

Place the cumin, onion, garlic, paprika, and lemon juice in a food processor or blender and pulse to liquify. Add the yogurt and pulse just until blended.

Put the chicken thighs in a shallow non-aluminum baking dish or bowl. Pour the marinade over the chicken and toss well to coat. Let stand at room temperature at least 2 hours or cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the broiler to make a charcoal fire. Thread the thighs if using on 4 skewers. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Broil or grill until the juices run clear, about 6 minutes each side. Serve hot with lemon wedges.

Yield: 4 servings

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Spicy Black-eyed Peas with Collard Greens (and Sausage!)

I found this recipe on Fat Free Vegan's blog and it sounded perfect for my non-committal family who were going to be in town, they didn't know when, they didn't really know doing what. So I thought I'd at least have a pot of SOMEthing ready in case anyone got hungry and happened to be at our house at the same time! :-) My mom is a veggie so this recipe fit the bill. And for the meat eaters the Monster picked up some jalapeno sausage from Donn's bbq on his way home from work. It was great sliced into the the peas and collards served over some brown rice cooked in Central Market's organic veggie broth. A great meal to have for the freezer I'm thinking, even though what's left from this batch will be going into our bellies for lunch. This was my first time cooking with dried black-eyed peas and I think I'll just do this from now on when time allows. Don't know why I thought it was such a big deal...I was able to control the salt and they were cheaper to boot.
The only things I changed from the original recipe were to reduce the amount of dried herbs (don't like things too herby) and to add a splash of vinegar to the pot. I made this around 3pm and when it was done cooking just let it sit on the stove in my big enameled pot until dinner at 7. It's nice if you can make it ahead and just let the flavors come together even more.

Spicy Black-eyed Peas with Collard Greens (and Sausage):

2 onions, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 cup diced green bell pepper
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups dried black-eyed peas, picked over and rinsed
6 cups water
1 pound collard greens, tough stems removed and greens chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme (divided...I only used 1/2 tsp in with the onions)
1 teaspoon oregano (divided...again I only used 1/2 tsp in with the onions)
1 16-ounce can diced tomatoes (fire-roasted preferred)
2 cup vegetable broth (or water)
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika (I used hot smoked)
1 -2 teaspoons kosher salt (to taste)
1 tablespoon double strength tomato paste (or 2 tbsp. regular)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
splash of vinegar (optional)

Optional: top with jalapeno sausage from your favorite bbq joint

Spray a large pot with a light coating of olive oil. Heat it and add the onions. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until they begin to brown. Add the celery, green pepper, and garlic, and cook, stirring, for 3 more minutes.

Add the black-eyed peas, water, 1 (or 1/2) teaspoon of the thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon of oregano.

Slowly bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer, partially cover the pot and cook until peas are tender, about 45-55 minutes.

Once the peas are tender, add all remaining ingredients and cook for at least 25-30 minutes to allow flavors to develop. Serve over brown rice with additional hot sauce. If you have some awesome jalapeno sausage nearby and are so inclined, throw some in to each bowl! :-)

Nutrition data obviously not including sausage!
Makes at least 6 servings. Each provides 242 Calories (kcal); 1g Total Fat; (4% calories from fat); 16g Protein; 45g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 488mg Sodium; 11g Fiber. Weight Watchers Core/4 Flex Points.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Italian Lentil Soup

It feels like it's been a hunert years since I've blogged about anything I've had going on in the kitchen! We've just been eating a lot of old favorites so I wouldn't have tax my poor heat addled brain. This is one new recipe I tried a few weeks ago though that was really good. Not sure if you'll be up for lentil soup in the summer, but you can always jack up the A/C and pretend it's oooh so chilly out and say to yourself isn't it nice to be curled up with bowl of hot soup! I sent this recipe to my pop after I made it and he said it was a winner in their house too. Serve it up with a nice crusty loaf of whole grain bread and a salad if you wish. It makes a lot of soup so we're actually eating previously-frozen leftovers tonight.

Italian Lentil Soup:
(Adapted from a Giada DeLaurentis recipe)

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 28oz can diced tomatoes with the liquid
1 pound lentils, washed and sorted
10 cups low-salt chicken broth or veggie broth(2 and 1/2 cartons)
1 cup of white wine
4 to 6 fresh thyme sprigs
a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
2/3 cup dried elbow pasta (I used spelt elbows that I got from CM)
finely grated Parmesan

Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery. Add the garlic, a pinch of salt (you can adjust to taste after you've gotten the broth in) and pepper and saute until all the vegetables are tender, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices. Simmer until the juices evaporate a little and the tomatoes break down, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add the lentils and mix to coat. Add the broth and wine and stir. Add the thyme sprigs and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer over low heat until the lentils are almost tender, about 40-50 minutes. (original recipe called for 30 minutes, but my lentils were not tender by then)

Stir in the pasta. Simmer until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with the Parmesan, drizzle with olive oil, and serve.

Cardamom Roasted Chicken Thighs

I thought this recipe was worth revisiting since it was from my very first post and I hadn't taken a photo then. It's easy. It's yummy. Enough said.
I toss in a couple of small sweet potatoes (each wrapped in foil) to roast on a foil lined baking sheet about 30-35 minutes before the chicken goes in. Then, place the chicken on the sheet with the potatoes and continue cooking both together. The potatoes should be done in about an hour total depending on their size.

Scottie's favorite Cardamom Roasted Chicken Thighs:

4 cloves garlic, smashed whole cloves
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (I grind the pods in a spice grinder so it’s nice and fresh)
1 package boneless, skinless organic chicken thighs
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Place the garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey and cardamom in a resealable plastic bag. Place chicken thighs (I trim off as much fat as I can first) in the bag, and squeeze to coat. Press out most of the air, and seal the bag. Marinate in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 hours.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Remove the chicken from the marinade, and discard the marinade. Place chicken on a broiling pan or baking sheet (lined with aluminum foil). Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

3. Roast in the oven for ~25-35 minutes (depending on how large they are), or until chicken is browned and a thermometer registers 160.  Remove from sheet pan, cover with foil and let rest for about 5-10 minutes.