Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My Fat Sandwich

My Fat sandwich

I realize that I have a few versions of the fat sandwich. This one is my everyday. I started eating them on the way to a New Years Eve weekend one year.
What could be better than fat on fat on bread. Truly!

1 ripe avocado, preferable around February when they're best
2 teaspoons meyer lemon juice
2 tablespoons of soft salted rich European butter
1 teaspoon very fine extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
3 slices of crusty artisinal peasant bread, toasted or not

Halve and pitt the avocado(see below). Use a fork to mash each half within its shell. Add the Meyer lemon juice and olive oil, mash a bit more to combine, season with salt and pepper. Slather the bread with soft butter, then smear the avocado mixture on top.

Use a knife to cut the avocado lengthwise in half. Turn the halves to separate. Use a large knife to crack into the pit, lodging it lightly on the blade. turn the knife, this will release the pit.

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Spicy Pumpkin Seed dip

Spicy Pumpkin Seed Dip
Makes roughly 3 cups
Be sure to get pumpkin seeds in a store where people buy them regularly. Pumpkin seed oil is volatile and can go rancid, which is that sour cloudy flavor you may sometimes experience when an oil gets old or stored in a warm area.

You don't have to use fresh tomatillos, it's easier if you don't, but it may be saltier so taste the dip vefore you seaon it. Add more adobo sauce if you like things extra spicy. I think this sauce would be great with chicken as well, especially after looking at the NYT piece last week...

10 ounces (about 2 cups) raw hulled pumpkin seeds or pepitas
20 ounces fresh tomatillos, about 10 large
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon, adobo sauce from a can of chilies in adobo
1 teaspoon or fine sea salt
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 cups loosely packed cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped

Toast pumpkin seeds in a single layer on a sheet pan for 15 minutes at 350∞, stirring the seeds around a couple of times to prevent scorching. Remove from oven, set aside to cool.

Strip the paper off the tomatillos. Rinse them in cool water. Place tomatillos in a small pot covered in cool water. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for about 12-15 minutes, until the flesh is softened. Drain, and core the stems with a paring knife, set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a medium saucepan over low heat. Add olive oil, onions and garlic, sauté until the onions are translucent, about 35 minutes. Add the tomatillos, mash them with a spoon to break them up. Stir in the adobo sauce, remove from heat and set aside.

Place the cooled pumpkin seeds in the bowl of a food processor with the salt. Pulse to finely grind. Add the tomatillos, onion mixture, lime juice, and cilantro. Pulse until the mixture is chunky-smooth. Serve at room temperature, garnish with additional cilantro leaves.

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Lima Bean Soup

Lima Bean Soup
Serves 2
It's been so rainy cold that I've just wanted to make some bean soup.
I had wanted to find these enormous gigante beans, but Met Food wasn't selling any. I settled on some goya dry lima beans. Depending on how old your beans are, they may need a soak before you cook them or they may take a bit longer to simmer and soften. If your beans are fresher they should take less time to cook.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup dry lima beans,
1 medium yellow onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 drained peeled Italian plum tomato from a can, chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
1 small pasilla, ancho or other smokey dry chili, crumbled for garnish

Heat a large sauce pan over medium heat. Coat with olive oil. Add the dry lima beans, onions, and garlic and sautee, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent and browned around the edges, about 15 minutes. Add tomato and vinegar, cook until the liquid has evaporated.

Add 5 cups filtered water and salt and cilantro. Bring to a simmer, cook for 90 minutes, or until beans are very soft, Remove half the beans from the broth, mash them in a bowl with a fork and return them to the soup. Adjust seasoning, garnish with additional chopped cilantro and crumbled pasilla chili.

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Thursday, March 6, 2008

Sea Bass with Gastrique

Sea Bass with Gastrique
serves 6

Roasting fish is really easy in the oven, the trick is to cook it through, but not overcook it. I like to lay down a layer of foil on a sheet pan under the fish so that it's easy to clean up.

6 8 ounce filets of Sea Bass or other rich fleshed ocean (not fresh water) fish
extra virgin olive oil
fine sea salt

Heat the oven to 400∞. Place the filets on the sheet pan. Lightly coat the filets with olive oil. Sprinkle the filets generously with sea salt. Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the flesh is still moist but flakes apart easily when you coax it with a fork. Spoon a large tablespoons of the Gastrique sauce over each filet just before serving.

Gastrique for the fish
Makes 1/2 cup
Gastrique is a fancy French way of saying caramel made with vinegar. It's a technique used for making the orange sauce in the famous Duck a l'Orange.
All very intimidating sounding, but quite do-able. Be brave, the scariest part about this sauce is when you add the vinegar to the caramel, it hisses and spits at you, so stand back. You can tame the beast.

Make this sauce and store it tightly covered at room temperature for up to two days.

2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
large pinch of salt

Place the sugar and 1/4 cup of water in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Stir continually until the sugar melts completely, about 5 minutes, brush any sugar sticking to the sides of the pan off with a barely wet pastry brush. Don’t touch the pan at this point to stir it or otherwise. The sugar mixture will start to turn a golden color after about 15 minutes, swirl (don’t stir) to spread the caramelization throughout the melted sugar. The caramel will start to turn a deeper amber color, remove it from the stove. Immediately stir in the vinegar, salt and zest with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula. The mixture will froth and bubble madly, be careful! Stir until the caramel is dissolved completely in the vinegar.

Transfer the gastrique to a heat proof cup or sauce boat with a spout. The sauce can be reheated in a microwave or placed in a small saucepan filled half way with hot water over low heat.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Glazed Carrots with Fennel Fronds

Glazed Carrots with Fennel Fronds
Serves 6 as a side dish

Growing up we had carrots with dill and honey. Dill, like cilantro is one of the great culinary divides. I am on the "love" side with cilantro, the other side with dill. I replaced the dill with a visual doppelganger: Fennel fronds. The fronds are the feathery tops you find on the top of a fennel bulb. They have a light flavor and visually they at the hit of green that's so appealing to me.

2 bunch carrots,(1/2 pounds) peeled and cut in 1 inch rounds
2 tablespoons Pernod or other fennel flavored liquer
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons snipped fennel fronds

Place all the ingredients except the fennel fronds in a medium sauce pan with 1 1/2 cups water. Heat covered over medium hi heat, bring to a boil, simmer for 12 minutes or until carrots are almost cooked through. Remove cover, turn heat to high and boil rapidly until the liquid has reduced to a syrup and the carrots are crisp tender, about 10 minutes more.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Two Sweet Little Cookies

The Coffee Fennel Cookie
Makes about 7 dozen

These cookies are fascinating to me because of the clear chemical transformation that happens when you leave them sitting overnight before you bake them. I love them dipped in plain hot coffee.

1 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1/2 vanilla bean
1 tablespoon ground espresso
2 large eggs
1 cups flour, sifted

Butter two baking sheets, dust with flour, knock out excess flour, set aside. In the bowl of a food processor or coffee grinder pulverize the sugar with fennel seed and vanilla bean and coffee. Use a fine mesh sieve to shake out the powder and leave behind the larger, woody pieces. Discard whatever is left in the strainer, (or put it in the sugar bowl you use for coffee to flavor your sugar).

In the bowl of an electric mixer use the whisk attachment to combine the sugar mixture with the eggs. Beat until light, thick and pale, about 7 minutes. Gently fold in the flour in three additions.

Spoon the batter onto the sheet pans by the teaspoon, smooth the rounds with the back of a spoon, Alternately, pipe the batter onto the sheet pan in 1 1/4 inch rounds. Leave the baking sheets sitting out at room temperature for at least 8 hours or over night. They'll look almost cooked in the morning.

Heat the oven to 350∞. Bake the cookies for 7 minutes, until crisp and pale on top and cake like layer has formed on the bottom. Cool on a wire rack, store in an airtight container for up to one week.

Ginger Dollar Cookies
Makes about 13 dozen

You can make these cookies bigger and get less of them. They store nicely in an airtight container for up to a week. They are buttery, not too spicy and perfect with tea.

1 cup flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
5 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons super finely diced crystallized ginger
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
4 large egg whites

Heat oven to 375∞. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper or silpat mats. In a small whisk together the flour, cornmeal and salt, set aside. Beat the butter and sugar until fluffy and pale in an electric mixer using the paddle attachment, about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla, gingers, zest and egg whites, beat until uniform. Add the flour mixture, stir until just combined.

Drop batter by the half teaspoon onto the sheet pans, leaving 1 1/2 inches between cookies. Bake until the cookies are golden at the edges and pale in the center, about 9 minutes. Remove to a baking rack to cool.

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Bright Green Dressing

Bright Green Dressing
Makes 3/4 cups
Although I used this for a salad dressing, it could be lovely with roasted pork or chicken. It's quick to make and the Dijon is pungent.

1 bunch parsley, leaves only
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons plus one teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons nut oil, such as hazelnut
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon high quality Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon salt
large pinch freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a blender, pulse until creamy and thick. Adjust salt and pepper, to taste.

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This week...

Last week Mark Lund and James Leeland Day shot a beautiful bunch of photos with me. I'll post them here with the recipes over the next couple of days. I'm so excited. Stark contrast to my counter with the point and shoot! Between Mark's light and James' props, it worked out wonderfully.