Saturday, August 19, 2017

Back in the Kitchen: Simple summer gourmet, August

Fruits and vegetables are flowing at high tide through farmers' markets everywhere. It's hard to know what to pick and sometimes harder to figure out what to do with it when you get home. So here are some really easy "fixes" you can treasure for seasons to come. Next time: tomatoes, beets, eggplants, fruits..

Korean Carrots
Now is the time to take full advantage of all those gorgeously colored carrots: purple, yellow, bright orange and red.  Grab a few of each because this is really picturesque and delicious when you do--as you can see. And there's hardly any calories to make you worry about bathing suit images.

for 6
7-8 med/lg carrots of all colors
1/4 c rice wine or cider vinegar
3-4 tbsp honey (you want the sweet and sour to match so you have to taste and figure it out)
1 small green chili, seeded and minced
2 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground coriander or coriander seeds
Sea salt to your taste.
Chopped cilantro.

Using a peeler, peel the carrots, then continue using the peeler to create long wafer thin carrot strips. You can do this over your serving bowl.  Let the carrots sit a few minutes and then squeeze down to remove any water in the bottom or the bowl.

While they are sitting, in a dry frying pan toast the sesame, cumin and coriander seeds or powder for 2 minutes until the seeds turn brown and you can smell their fragrance.  In a small bowl whisk together the vinegar and honey. Pour the vinegar/honey over the carrots, then stir in the seeds, minced chili and salt. Let this sit a few hours so carrots absorb the powerful flavors--which means you can make it way ahead.  Garnish with cilantro to serve.

Roasted Cauliflower with chimichurri
I try to buy the smallest whole cauliflower in the pile so it roasts quickly and doesn't leave leftovers. There are too many other veggies waiting to be enjoyed. You can make the chimichurri--Argentina's favorite steak sauce, essentially parsley with vinegar, while the cauliflower is roasting. For this particular preparation I prefer the bright white traditional cauliflower for its striking contrast with the powerful green sauce.

To roast a cauliflower, remove all outer leaves. If it is small, you can leave it whole. If it's large, cut out the core and pull apart the florets.  Put the cauliflower on a baking sheet, sprinkle it with olive oil and sea salt and roast it at 450º until it starts to feel tender. How long depends on whether you use the whole cauliflower which obviously takes much longer, or the florets, whether you do it in an oven or toaster oven, with gas or electric but in general think about 12-25(the whole shebang) minutes.

Chimichurri, Argentina’s famous parsley steak sauce  
Make Ahead. The chimichurri can be refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.

1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley (leaves of 1/2 bunch) 
3 tbsp red wine vinegar 
4 large garlic cloves, minced (2 1/2 tbsp) 
2 tbsp oregano leaves 
2 tsp crushed red pepper 
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper 
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
In a food processor, combine the parsley, vinegar, garlic, oregano and crushed red pepper. Process until smooth; season with salt and pepper. Transfer the sauce to a bowl and pour the olive oil over the mixture. Let stand for at least 20 minutes.

Celery Date Salad
I'm posting this again two year later because it's still so perfect in every way right now: crisp, crunchy, colorful, cool and cooling.

serves 6
8 celery stalks, thinly sliced on the diagonal. Chop the leaves too.
6 fresh dates, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/2 c roasted almonds, halve. Whole is okay too.
1/2 sm red onion, diced
2 tsp minced fresh mint leaves
pinch red pepper flakes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 oz shaved Parmesan cheese 
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 c extra good olive oil

Combine celery and leaves, dates, almonds, onion and pepper flakes in a serving bowl. Moisten with the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cheese and olive oil and lastly stir in the mint leaves.
Darjeeling Green Beans with Sesame, salad
This is a recipe from the cookbook I'm working on: the Himalaya, a Cook's Tour gives an ordinary vegetable extraordinary oomph and character. People will notice. Best of all, It's simple, quick, tasty and remarkably nutritious. Little wonder it's a summer favorite in the Himalaya.

1 lb fresh green beans

1 tbsp + 1 tsp sesame seeds

1-2 green chilies (Serrano)depending on how hot you like

1 tbsp mustard or corn or canola oil

salt to your taste

juice of 1 lemon

Cut the green beans on a slant into 1 ½ pieces. Put them in a pot, cover with water, add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and cook 5-8 minutes until the beans are just tender. Add water if necessary. Drain. Put into a serving bowl.

Dry roast the sesame seeds in a small frying pan. Grind to a fine powdery paste.

Half and seed the chilies. Then carefully cut them into very thin long strips.

Heat the oil in a small frying pan and add the chilies. Fry 3 minutes until they start to get crisp. Pour the contents of the pan over the green beans. Put 1 tbsp sesame paste, salt to your taste and the lemon juice on the beans and blend everything. Let it sit at least 10 minutes before serving so the flavors merge.

Seriously tasty corn chowder
Sooner or later you've got to stop gnawing on all those delicious cobs summer brings but still want to eat corn while it's fresh from the farm. And sooner or later there's a cool night or a rainy day. So here's the perfect no sweat soup, a glory of New England.
  Serves 6

2 tbsp butter or ghee
1 sm piece salt pork or Spanish chorizo (if you want fire in the flavor)

1 lg onion, peeled and diced

1 poblano pepper, roasted, skinned and diced

1 Serrano or other hot chili, seeded and diced

1 tbsp dried sage

1 tsp dried oregano

2 tsp ground coriander

½ tsp ground chipotle chili

1 tsp cracked or freshly ground black pepper

3 cups corn kernels (4-5 fresh ears)

3 celery stalks, cleaned and diced

2 cups water

3 medium potatoes (any color), peeled and cubed

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp. diced pimento (roasted red pepper)

2 cups vegetable broth

12 oz. evaporated milk (not sweetened)

4 oz heavy cream

For garnish: chopped fresh chives, chopped fresh cilantro, shredded jack or cheddar cheese, toasted pumpkin seeds

Cut the corn off the cobs and put the cobs into a pot with 2 cups of water.  Bring to a boil and simmer while you work.

Melt butter in a medium soup pot or casserole. Add meat, onions, poblano and chili peppers, sage and oregano. Sauté over medium heat until onions are golden brown, about 6-8 minutes.

Stir in coriander, chipotle chili powder, black pepper and celery. Continue to sauté 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Puree one cup of corn with 1 tbsp vegetable broth and add to the pot, stirring to blend. Add potatoes, salt and the rest of the vegetable broth. Blend ingredients, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add 2 cups corn kernels, pimentos and if you have boiled corncobs in water, remove the cobs and pour the corn-flavored water into the soup. If you didn’t do this, simply add two cups of water. Continue to simmer covered on medium low heat for 5-8 minutes. (You don’t have to be exact.)

Taste for salt and adjust to preference. Stir in evaporated milk and heavy cream. Cook over medium low heat uncovered until the soup is warmed thoroughly. Do not bring to a boil once the milk and cream have been included.  Stir once to blend all flavors.

Ladle into large soup bowls and garnish with any or all of the ingredients listed above. 

And lastly here's another repeat performer because there's always zucchini to use up:
Zucchini Flan
1½ pounds zucchini, thinly sliced

 Salt and pepper

4 eggs

2 ½ cups milk or half-and-half

 Pinch of grated nutmeg

1 tsp chopped thyme

 A few torn basil leaves
1 tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley 

2 tbsp butter for greasing baking dish

4 oz grated cheese, such as Gruyère or Jack

Heat oven to 375º. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add zucchini and blanch for 1 minute. Drain and spread zucchini out to cool on a towel. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Beat eggs and milk with 1/2 teaspoon salt, then add nutmeg, thyme,  basil leaves and parsley.

Butter a 2-quart low-sided baking dish, and arrange blanched zucchini over bottom. Scatter cheese over zucchini, then pour in custard.

Bake for 30 minutes or until custard is still a bit jiggly, but an inserted knife comes out clean. Cool to room temperature before serving.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Chickpeas Part Four

Spring has not quite sprung. Asparagus and rhubarb--traditional tonic foods--are dribbling into markets still stocked with winter squashes and greens. So this transition moment seems ripe for another around the world meditation on that little black dress of the kitchen: the always perfect chickpea. I still have more recipes like these, and haven't even begun to talk about the tasty treats to make with ground chickpeas (think falafel) or chickpea flour (think socca)!

Lebanese Fatteh
This is basically hummus deconstructed into its parts.

2 c cooked chickpeas, drained and heated in 1 tbsp lemon juice and 1 cup water
2-3 lg garlic cloves, minced with a pinch of sea salt to a paste
1 ½ c plain thick (Greek) yogurt
¼ c chopped fresh mint leaves
Freshly ground black pepper to your taste
2 whole wheat pita breads
1 tbsp butter
¼ c pine nuts
lg pinch Aleppo or cayenne ground red pepper
 Preheat oven to 450º.
In a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, mint and garlic paste. Season with salt and pepper to your taste.
 Halve the pita breads horizontally and put on a baking sheet cut side up. Bake until they start to get crisp and turn a light brown. Remove and cool.
 In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and sauté the pine nuts until they’re golden, stirring so they don’t burn.
 In a large shallow serving bowl, break the pita into pieces and top with the warm chickpeas plus 1 tbsp of the lemon water they were cooked in to soften the pita. Top with the yogurt and then pine nuts. Garnish with more mint leaves and the red pepper to serve.

Moroccan Chickpea Soup

Serves 4

3 tbsp olive oil
1 med red onion, peeled and diced
¼ tsp caraway seed
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
¼ tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp fresh ground or cracked black pepper
½ tsp ground cumin
4 cups vegetable broth
2 tbsp chopped tomatoes in their juices
1 tbsp tomato paste
juice of ½ lemon
pinch of saffron
2 sm potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 1 cup when done)
1 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
¼ cup Italian parsley leaves, chopped
1/8- ¼ tsp salt to taste

Heat oil in a medium casserole or soup pot over medium high heat. Add onion and caraway seed and sauté five minutes until onion is soft.  Add garlic and all spices and continue to sauté 30 seconds. Add broth, stir in
tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, lemon juice and saffron. Bring to a boil. Add potatoes, chickpeas and parsley.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 30 minutes. Stir in salt. Serve hot with lemon wedges and, optionally, a dollop of harissa, Tunisian chili sauce, or similar.

Punjabi Chole
serves 3-4
this is the easiest version 

1 15 oz can chickpeas (drained)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp oil
1⁄2 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp chaat masala*
1⁄4 tsp amchur powder (mango powder)
1⁄2 tsp red chili powder
lg pinch salt
1 small red onion, chopped
1 small tomato, chopped
2 tbsp water
Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add cumin seeds, green chilies and then onions. Sauté until onions turn golden and translucent. Add garam masala, red chili powder and amchur powder.
Sauté for another 2-3 minutes. Add chickpeas and salt, cook another 2-3 minutes. Add 2 tbsp water, cover the pot and simmer 10 minutes. Uncover and add diced red onions and tomato. Cook 5 minutes.

*you can approximate this by roasting a few coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorns and ajwain seeds, then grinding them with a pinch of rock or sea salt.
Eggs with Chickpeas
This is a riff on Shakshuka from Ottolenghi in London, for 4-6

3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and roughly chopped
2 tbsp harissa
1 13 -14 oz can chickpeas, drained
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
2 tsp fennel seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
1/3 c Pernod (or Arak)
1 3/4 c chopped tomatoes (boxed or canned is fine)
1 3/4 c vegetable stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 eggs
3 oz soft goat’s cheese, broken into roughly 1" pieces
Dill, roughly chopped
Heat the oil in a large sauté pan for which you have a lid, on a medium-high flame. Fry the onion, carrot and fennel 15 minutes, stirring a few times, until soft and golden brown. Add the harissa, chickpeas and spices, stir through for a minute, then add the Pernod. Let it bubble for 30 seconds, then stir in the tomatoes, stock and a 1/2 tsp salt. Return to a boil, turn the heat to medium and continue to cook 25-30 minutes, stirring a few times and crushing some of the chickpeas, until the sauce is thick and rich.
Take off the heat, make six indentations in the mix, then crack an egg into each gap. Sprinkle the eggs with a generous pinch of salt, dot the goat’s cheese around and about, then cover and return to the heat for five to six minutes, until the egg whites are set and the yolks still runny. Remove from the heat, sprinkle with dill and serve.

Turkish Chickpea Patties
 serves 4

1  14 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed and drained
4 tbsp olive oil
1 sm red onion, diced
2 tsp cumin seeds, crushed if possible
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp Aleppo pepper or else paprika
1 sm bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 sm bunch dill, finely chopped
1 lemon, rind only finely chopped
1-2 tbsp white flour for dusting
salt and black pepper to your taste

For Serving
4 tbsp thick Greek yogurt
2 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
1 med red onion sliced into rings, rings sliced in half for half moons
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
1 lemon sliced

Either process the chickpeas in a food processor or pound with a potato masher to make a paste out of them. Add 1 tbsp olive oil to make a paste. With a wooden spoon, beat in the onion and 3 spices. Add the parsley, dill and lemon rind, salt and pepper. Blend well. The mixture should be thick enough to handle.
Pick out enough chickpea mix to make a golf ball, then flatten it in the palm of your hand into a thick patty. Continue until all the mix is used up. Dust the patties slightly with a little flour.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a nonstick fry pan over medium heat. Put in as many patties as will fit in a single layer and fray them 2 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels. These can be served hot or later at room temperature.

In a small bowl, beat the yogurt with the garlic and salt to your taste.
Arrange the hot chickpea patties on a serving platter and garnish with the half moon onion rings,  parsley and lemon slices. Drizzle the yogurt over them.  You can also tuck the patties, garnishes and yogurt into a pita for a variation on the falafel sandwich.

Persian Lamb and Bean Soup
serves 6

2 tbsp unsalted butter or ghee
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 lbs stewing lamb (leg or shoulder) in 1" chunks
1 lg onion, quartered
6 oz tomato paste
1 bay leaf
2 limes, thickly sliced
1 tbsp bulgur
2 cups cooked chickpeas (14 oz can will due)
2 cups cooked red kidney beans
1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper or lg pinch of cayenne
lg pinch ground cinnamon (1/8 tsp)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to your taste
3 medium boiling potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
0ptional: 4 cups beef broth

In a med soup pot or large saucepan, heat butter and oil. Brown the meat and onions. Mix the tomato paste with 8 cups of water or 4 cups beef broth and 4 cups water and pour over the meat. Add bay life, limes and bulgur. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook 1 1/2 hrs or until meat is just tender.

Add chickpeas, kidney beans, hot pepper, cinnamon, salt, pepper, potatoes and turmeric. Bring back to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook 20 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. (This is imperative.) discard the limes after squeezing them into the soup.  Serve with lavash or pita.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Eatin' o' the green

Since we're getting close to St Patrick's Day and the wearin' o' the green, I thought it time to talk about the eatin' o' the green, particularly because greens continue to dominate fresh farm food right now. Most greens--kale, spinach, collards, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli--happen to be cold weather crops. Mother Nature knows what she's doing so we should as well. She's piling on the sunshine and chlorophyll our winter weary bodies need to refresh and cleanse. Here are a few simple, worldly ways to make your table green in March:

Roasted Pears and Green Beans
serves 4

1 lb whole green beans, cleaned
2  pears, peeled and sliced lengthwise
2 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tbsp slivered almonds, lightly toasted
Steam the beans until just tender. If you don't have a steamer put them in a lidded pot with a minimal amount of water (say 1/3 cup), cover and cook over medium heat until the water has evaporated, about 3-4 minutes. Turn off heat and let them continue to steam in the covered pot. Sauté pears with melted butter, brown sugar, and balsamic vinegar in a large skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Stir in hot green beans, and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Top with the almonds to serve.

Broccolini Gomae (how the Japanese eat greens)
1 bunch baby broccoli/broccolini

4 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp Japanese cooking wine, Mirin, or Chinese cooking wine
1 tbsp tamari (wheat-free Japanese soy sauce) or any soy sauce
½ tsp rice wine vinegar

Put the broccolini whole into a large saucepan, generously add salt and cover with water 1" higher. Bring to a boil, lower heat to simmer and cook until broccolini is just tender, maybe 5-8 minutes. Drain and dry well. Put broccolini in a deep serving dish.

In a dry skillet or frying pan, toast the sesame seeds over medium heat for 2 minutes or until they start to become golden brown. This can happen very fast so stay focused on this. Grind or smash the sesame seeds into a paste. Stir in the cooking wine, tamari, sugar, rice wine and water to thin the paste into a dressing. Spoon over the broccolini and serve at room temperature.

Saag Paneer (Indian spinach or any greens with fresh cheese)
serves 4 as a side

1 1/3 lb fresh spinach, well washed
2 tbsp ghee or unsalted butter
½ lb paneer or feta or best halloumi cheese, cubed 
1 small onion, very thinly sliced (a mandolin is helpful)
4 fat garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
1” fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 fresh small green chili, deseeded and thinly sliced
1 tsp garam masala
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp salt
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add spinach, blanch for 10 seconds, then drain and cool in ice water. Squeeze well to dry. Finely chop the stalks and roughly chop the leaves. Squeeze again and again until no more water comes out – it should be as dry as possible.

Heat the ghee/butter in a large heavy frying pan on a medium-high heat and fry the cheese cubes until golden and crusty. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Heat the remaining ghee/butter until it just starts to smoke.
Add onion, garlic, ginger and chili, then the spices and salt. Fry, stirring vigorously, until everything is browned but not burnt.
Add the chopped, dry spinach and cheese and stir vigorously until everything is hot. Taste for seasoning and serve.

Ghanaian Spicy Spinach
This West African dish should carry you away to someplace new and adventurous.
serves 4

½ c vegetable oil (corn, canola, safflower, mustard)
1 medium red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp minced ginger  
1 habanero chili, seeds and ribs removed, minced
kosher or sea salt
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 ½ lb plum tomatoes, chopped
¾ cup raw shelled pumpkin seeds
2 1/2 tsps smoked paprika plus a dash of Thai fish sauce)
1 1/2 lb spinach, washed, dried and roughly chopped
3 large sweet (yellow) plantains, peeled and boiled in salted water until just tender

In a Dutch oven, warm the oil over medium heat, and add the onions, garlic, ginger, chili and ¼ tsp salt. Cook over medium heat stirring frequently until the onions are golden brown and sweet, 10-15 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, and cook 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and another ¼ tsp salt. Bring to a boil, partly cover the pan and lower heat to simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has cooked to a rich tomato-soup consistency, about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a food processor or blender blitz the pumpkin seeds to until it just starts to get clumpy as a powder. (Do not overprocess into a butter.) Remove to a bowl.
When the tomatoes have reduced, add smoked paprika and fish sauce to taste, and simmer 2 minutes. Stir in water, a tablespoon at a time, to the bowl of pumpkin seed powder until it is a loose paste. Add the paste on top of the tomato sauce, and spread it out. Cover the pan, and cook 5 minutes.
Stir the sauce all together; it will look like a thick porridge. Add a few splashes of water, and increase heat to a boil. Stir in the spinach, until wilted and tender. Taste, season with salt (or more fish sauce, if using) and serve with boiled sweet plantains.

Himalayan style Mustard Greens with Pork

 serves 3-4
Typically this is made with flat leaf Indian mustard greens, not the curly ones available here. If you can't find flat leaf, use Chinese broccoli, aka, gai lan, or a leafy green like yau choy.

1 lb. mustard or bitter greens
1 lg. onion, peeled
2 tbsp. garlic/ginger paste (1” ginger, 2-3 lg. garlic cloves)
2 tomatoes
1 tsp. salt or 2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. cooking oil
3/4 lb pork shoulder or baked ham, cut into thin narrow strips
fresh ground black pepper

Dice the onion and tomato separately. Chop the mustard or bitter greens into confetti.

 In a large wok or skillet. heat the oil. Add the chopped onion and stir fry over medium heat until it’s brown and carmelized.Add the ginger/garlic paste and stir to blend.  Add the diced tomatoes. Lower heat and cook until the tomatoes have released all their juice and are mushy. Add the pork/ham, raise heat to high and stir fry the meat 1 minute. Lower heat to medium. Throw the chopped mustard greens into the pot, stir to blend. Add the salt or soy and mix thoroughly. Raise the heat to medium and continue to stir fry three minutes until the greens are soft and tender. Remove from heat and serve.

Chard Gratin from Ottolenghi

1/3 c olive oil
1½ tsp caraway seeds
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
2+ lbs plum tomatoes, skinned and roughly chopped
1¼ lb chard, washed, leaves and stems separated, leaves roughly chopped, stalks finely sliced
4.5 oz (roughly ½ c) sorrel, roughly shredded**
1 ½ tbsp mint leaves, roughly chopped
1 ½ tbsp. dill, roughly chopped
8 spring onions, cut into ½” pieces
8 0z feta, roughly crumbled into ¾” pieces
¼ c pitted Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
2 eggs, lightly whisked
1 c Greek yogurt
2 ½ tbsp parmesan, finely grated
5 ¼ oz coarse polenta (fine polenta will do, if you can’t find coarse)
**if you don’t have sorrel use 1 tbsp lemon zest
Heat the oven to 400º. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large sauté pan for which you have a lid, then fry the caraway and garlic over a medium-high flame for a minute, stirring most of the time. Add tomatoes, chard and ½ tsp salt. Cover and cook 15 minutes, stirring every now and then, until the chard has wilted and the tomatoes have broken down. Remove from heat and stir in the sorrel, mint, dill, spring onions, feta and olives.
Put the eggs, yogurt, parmesan, remaining oil, polenta, ¾ c water and ½ tsp salt in a large bowl and mix to a thick batter. Pour half the batter into an 8 x 12” ovenproof baking dish, so it completely covers the base, then spoon the greens evenly over the top. Pour over the remaining batter – it won’t completely cover the greens, but that’s OK. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until risen and dark golden-brown on top, leave to stand for 10 minutes, and serve hot.

Kale and Polenta Layer Cake
I saved this for last because it takes some time. Nothing very hard, just a few steps more than usual.
It's festive feed for vegetarians. 
Serves 6

2/3 cup polenta
3 cups water
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tbsp minced roasted poblano pepper
Pinch of red pepper flakes
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup shredded or grated mozzarella cheese

*carnivore options
2 bunches kale
1 med white onion, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp pine nuts
¼ tsp salt
½ cup ricotta cheese (fat free is fine)
 2 lg sweet potatoes
¼ tsp salt
2 cardamom pods, cracked or ¼ ground cardamom.
2 tbsp mascarpone
 ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
pinch of nutmeg
1 tbsp olive oil for the pan

Grease an 8 or 9” springform pan with 1 tbsp olive oil and set aside.
Preheat oven to 375º.

Peel and coarsely chop the sweet potatoes. Put in a pot and cover with water.
Add the salt and cardamom pods. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat slightly and cook until potatoes are soft, 12-15 minutes.  Remove cardamom pods. Using a slotted spoon or spatula, put the sweet potatoes in a food
processor. Add 1 tbsp of the cooking water and hold the rest. Add the mascarpone. Quickly puree.  Set aside.

Remove kale leaves from their thick stems. Wash and drain carefully. Combine kale, garlic and pine nuts in a food processor. Using the pulse button, chop the kale into small pieces as though making pesto.
In a small skillet, heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium/low heat. Add onions and black pepper. Sauté 5 minutes until onions are soft.  Stir in the chopped kale mix. Sauté 3-5 minutes until kale is soft but still bright green.
Remove from heat. Add salt and ricotta and blend well. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup sweet potato water with 2 cups water. Add salt and bring to a boil. Whisk in the cornmeal and continue whisking until it is absorbed and the mixture starts to thicken, 5 minutes.
 Add oregano, pepper flakes and minced poblano pepper. Continue cooking over low heat 2 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon. Add mozzarella cheese, stirring as you go and continue cooking 3 more minutes so all cheese is melted.  Polenta should be thick and creamy now.
Cover the bottom of the oiled springform pan with an even layer of the polenta.
Cover the polenta layer with an even layer of the kale mixture.
Top with an even layer of the sweet potatoes.
Top with the grated parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of nutmeg.
 Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake at 375º for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking 15-20 minutes until top is lightly brown.
 Remove from heat. Cool in the pan 10-15 minutes. Remove sides of the pan.
Serve cut in wedges like a cake.

*Carnivores can add ½ cup chopped chorizo or pepperoni to the polenta or ½ cup chopped garlic sausage to the kale.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

More cheap chic, as in more chickpea recipes: Part 3

Here they are again, the most useful, chic and always perfect meat of a meal: chickpeas, the little black dress of the kitchen. Put them on your table in these additional ways to pep up a grim February. And don't think even though this is part 3, that's all there is! You'd underestimate the power of a can of chickpeas in the cupboard.

English Mac and Chic
This is from the English cook Nigel Slater.
for 2 or maybe 3

3 tbsp olive oil
2 med onion, 1 chopped and 1 cut into very thin rings
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 cups (1 box) chopped tomatoes
1/2 stick cinnamon
2 bay leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4-1/3 c macaroni or other small pasta
1 c light cream
1 small green chili pepper (jalapeno, Serrano) seeded and sliced into very thin strips

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a medium sauté pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook over med heat until the onions start to brown, maybe 6 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, Aleppo pepper or crushed chili flakes, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, chopped tomatoes and salt and pepper to your taste. Reduce heat to low and simmer the sauce for 15 minutes.

Fill a pasta or soup pot halfway with water, bring it to a boil, heavily salt it and add the macaroni. Cook until tender. Time depends on your shape but probably 8-9 minutes. Drain.  Drain the chickpeas and rinse them. Stir them and the macaroni into the simmering tomato sauce and add the cream. Blend everything well. Remove the cinnamon stick, keep on low heat until serving.

In a small frying pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil. Add the sliced onion and green chili and cook over medium heat until they are crisp. Add the chopped parsley. Remove from heat. Serve by dividing the macaroni mix between 2 or 3 deep bowls and top with the fried onion mix.

Kazan Kabab: a Meat Stew with Chickpeas
I found this in a collection of recipes from one of the world's most fascinating places, at least for me:  the mysterious world of Samarkand, Tashkent and Bukhara. This bit of home-cooking from the rich Fergana Valley that includes Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan is an easy and delicious way to taste it all.
serves 4

1 lb beef stew meat, cut in cubes
1 tbsp all purpose flour
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp ghee
3 garlic cloves, smashed
2 cups strained tomatoes or tomato sauce
1 bay leaf
2 c beef broth or water
1  14 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained well
1 bunch cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp coarsely chopped basil leaves
1 tbsp fresh oregano leaves or 1 tsp dried (Turkish would be most authentic) 
1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
1 lemon, juice

Put the flour in a small bowl and toss the beef in it. Season the beef with salt and pepper while in the bowl. In a large heavy gauge casserole or Dutch oven, heat the ghee and brown the beef, in batches if necessary to have each piece touch the bottom of the pan. When it's browned, add the garlic, stir and cook 60 seconds. Add the tomato, bay leaf and 2 cups cold water or broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, voer the pan and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Cook til the meat is tender. Stir in the chickpeas, herbs and lemon juice. Taste for salt and adjust if necessary. Simmer 10 minutes. Serve with a sliced chili pepper to add at the table.

Turkish Chickpea Stew
serves 4 as a side, 3 as an entree

2 tbsp ghee or 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 sm red onions, halved and sliced into thin strips
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp coriander seed
1 tsp cumin seed, crushed with the back of a knife
1 tsp fennel seed
2 tsp ground Aleppo pepper
2 tsp sugar
2 14 oz cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
14 oz chopped tomatoes (boxed or canned is fine)
1 sm bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 lb baby spinach leaves
salt and pepper to your taste
To serve: 1 lemon, the juice
1/4 c thick yogurt (4-5 tbsp)

In a medium size heavy pan, heat the ghee or oil/butter over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and spices and cook until the onions begin to brown. Lower heat if anything is burning. Stir in tomatoes and sugar. Add chickpeas and brown them lightly. Add parsley, salt and pepper. Heat thoroughly. Toss the spinach leaves on top, cover the pan, cut off the heat and let the leaves wilt in the steam, about 3-5 minutes. Transfer the stew to a serving bowl, add the fresh lemon juice and serve with a dollop of yogurt for each person.

Spanish Chorizo with Chickpeas

 serves 4-6
¼ cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas, as dry as possible
black pepper
4 oz. chorizo, diced
½ lb. spinach, roughly chopped
¼ cup sherry
1 to 2 cups bread crumbs

Heat the broiler.
Put 3 tbsp. olive oil in a skillet large enough to hold the chickpeas in one layer and get it hot over medium-high heat. Add the chickpeas and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until chickpeas begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Add chorizo and continue to cook 5 - 8 minutes until chickpeas are crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chickpeas and chorizo from the pan and set aside.

Add the remainder of oil to the pan. When it’s hot, add the spinach and sherry, salt and pepper to your taste. Over med/low heat, cook spinach until it’s very soft and its liquid has evaporated. Put the chickpeas and chorizo back in the pan and toss quickly to combine everything. Top with breadcrumbs, drizzle with a bit of oil over them. Put the pan under the broiler for 30 seconds to lightly brown the top. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Chard and Chickpeas
serves 4-6
2 1/2 lbs chard, stemmed and chopped
4 tbsp good quality olive oil
1 med onion, diced
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp freshly chopped cilantro leaves
1/4 tsp Aleppo or chipotle chili powder
1/2 c chopped walnuts
1/2 c dark raisins or currants
2 c (15 oz can) cooked chickpeas, drained
1 lemon, cut in wedges

Put 2 c of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add chard and push leaves into the water so they all cook evenly. Lower heat to low and cook until leaves are tender, 5-6 minutes.

In a medium skillet, warm the olive oil and over medium heat sauté the diced onion until it's translucent and soft, maybe 5 minutes. Don't burn. Stir in the tomato paste, then the cilantro leaves, Aleppo pepper, walnuts, chard, raisins, salt and black pepper to your taste. Blend well. Gently stir in the chickpeas and cook just until everything is hot. Serve with lemon wedges.

Persian Lamb in Bulgur with Chickpeas
 This can be made ahead and reheated.
serves at least 4

6 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp corn, canola, safflower or any veg oil
3 med onions, diced
2 lbs lamb shanks, trimmed
2 c beef broth or water
1 1/2 c large bulgur, rinsed
2 c (15 oz can) cooked chickpeas
1 1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to your taste
To Serve: thick yogurt, chopped cilantro and tomato wedges

In a medium nonstick saucepan, melt butter. Add oil. Add onion and sauté over med/low heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add lamb shanks. Roll them in the butter and brown them on all sides.
Add broth/water, bring to a boil. cover and reduce heat to med/low again. Cook 90 minutes or until meat is almost falling off the bone.  Remove the lamb to a cutting board. Remove the bones, trim off excess fat and cut the meat into bite-sized chunks.

Measure the liquid remaining in the saucepan and add enough water to have 2 3/4 cups liquid in the pan. Add bulgur, chickpeas, spices, salt and pepper, then the lamb. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce heat to low, over and cook about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, keep covered and let it steam/rest 10 minutes.

Serve in a large bowl garnished with cilantro and lemon wedges and serve with a dollop of yogurt on top.