Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Maple-soy root vegetable stir fry

This is such a great way to cook root veggies - the sweet/salty glaze complements the starchy vegetables really well. This recipe is by David Chang (of the Momofuku restaurants), and I came across it in this month's awesome issue of Food & Wine. Before seeing this recipe, I had never really considered cooking potatoes with Asian flavors, but it tasted so good that now it seems like a completely obvious pairing. I'm curious about other sauces that would work well with these vegetables - maybe soy with hoisin and ginger, or something with garlic and Sriracha...I'm glad to have some new ideas to help me get through this endless root vegetable season!

Maple-soy root vegetable stir fry
Adapted from the March 2011 issue of Food & Wine
Serves 4

The original recipe uses Jerusalem artichokes and parsnips in addition to potatoes and carrots. Feel free to use whatever mix of starchy root veggies you have on hand.

1 pound small potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 large carrots, cut into 3/4-inch slices (if your carrots are thick, you may want to halve or quarter the slices)
2 tbs canola oil
2 tbs pure maple syrup
2 tbs soy sauce
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 tbs toasted sesame seeds
2 scallions, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 375 deg F. Heat canola oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add vegetables and cook until lightly browned, tossing occasionally, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and roast until vegetable are tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove skillet from oven and place on stovetop over medium heat. Add maple syrup and soy sauce and cook until sauce is syrupy and vegetables are glazed, stirring often, about 5-8 minutes. Remove skillet from heat, stir in sesame oil, sesame seeds, and scallions, and serve.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Flounder with lemon-herb breadcrumbs

I improvised this recipe last week after buying flounder fillets at the farmers' market. Andrew really enjoyed it so I decided to make it again, taking notes this time so that I could share it with you, and also enter it into the Somerville winter market recipe contest. The flounder fillets are coated with a layer of toasted lemon-herb breadcrumbs, then rolled up and baked. I topped them off with a little drizzle of brown butter and lemon juice. It's a quick and easy way to prepare flounder (or other thin fish fillets), and definitely has room for variation on the stuffing ingredients.

Flounder with lemon-herb breadcrumbs
Serves 2

1/2 pound flounder fillets (smaller fillets work better, so that the rolls don't end up being too thick)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 tbs finely chopped parsley leaves
Zest of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs butter
1 tbs lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 deg F and position a rack in the center of the oven. Melt 1 tbs butter in a small pan over medium heat. When foam begins to subside, add breadcrumbs and stir to coat with butter. Cook for 2 minutes, then add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes more, until breadcrumbs are toasted and garlic is fragrant. Remove pan from heat and stir in parsley and lemon zest. Season mixture to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Pat flounder fillets dry with a paper towel and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Spread bread crumb mixture evenly over fillets, leaving about 1/2 inch free on the edges. Carefully roll up fillets (don't worry if you lose a bit of the breadcrumbs) and place them on a baking pan (lined with parchment paper for easy cleanup if you want), seam side down. Bake at 350 deg F until fish is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork, 10-15 minutes.

While fish is baking, wipe breadcrumb pan clean. Melt remaining 1 tbs butter over medium heat until foam subsides and butter begins to brown. Remove pan from heat and add 1 tbs lemon juice.

When fish is done baking, remove from oven, drizzle with butter-lemon mixture, and serve.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Feta and radish toasts

I am loving the March issue of Food & Wine! It's a theme issue about healthy recipes, but it's not about cutting calories or excluding fat - the focus is on flavor first, making delicious food that just happens to use healthy ingredients. I think about nutrition and healthy cooking with the same perspective, so this is right up my alley. I've already cooked two recipes from this issue, and I have a couple more planned for later this week. This is pretty unusual for me - I almost never make multiple recipes from a single magazine issue, not to mention all in the same week!

These feta and radish toasts were the first thing I made, and I'm submitting this post to Magazine Mondays. I've been buying amazing watermelon radishes at the Somerville winter farmers' market - they're gorgeously colored and mild enough to eat plain, but still fresh-tasting and flavorful. These toasts were a great way to use them for something other than a salad. The salty, creamy feta worked well with the crunchy radishes, and the parsley added a nice fresh aromatic note. This makes a nice start to a meal, and would be a good hors d'oeuvre for a classy party.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Spaghetti with zucchini, almonds, and lemon


This dish is something that I've been wanting to make for several months. In the early fall, I got the idea to julienne zucchini lengthwise into long, thin strips and toss them with spaghetti, lemon, nuts, and Parmigiano. I went to the farmers' market all excited to try it out...only to find that zucchini had gone out of season that very week. So I resigned myself to the idea that I'd have to wait until next summer to make the dish.

However...I've recently decided that for the winter, I'm going to expand my definition of local food to include ingredients that are produced regionally - that is, anywhere on the East Coast. This gives me some more variety in vegetables, although I'm still buying as many Massachusetts-produced ingredients as I can. I'm also still buying all my produce and meat from the farmers' market so that I have a connection with the people that grow the food, even if the food is coming from a different part of the East Coast. One of the vendors at the local winter farmers' market sources produce from Florida, and they were selling zucchini this week, so I decided to finally try making this dish!

I was really happy with how this came out - it is a simple but tasty, and I liked the effect of the zucchini and spaghetti being the same shape. Even my zucchini-hating cousin happily ate a big bowl of it for dinner tonight! I'd say this was worth the wait, although I hope my recipe ideas are better timed in the future...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Kale and tofu stir fry with cashews

I'm starting to really love kale. It cooks quickly, and its texture never gets too mushy or slimy. I've been buying it weekly at the winter farmers' market, and lately have been trying to incorporate it more in main dishes, rather than just sides. We usually eat kale roasted or sauteed, but for lunch today, I decided to try stir frying it with some tofu and cashews. It came out quite nice - the kale soaked up the sauce even better than I had expected, and the different flavors and textures worked well together. The sauce I used here is a basic formula I've come up with after some experimenting - I like the balance of sour, sweet, savory, and spicy that it has.

Kale and tofu stir fry with cashews
Serves 4 as a light meal

I used a mixture of curly kale and Tuscan kale for this. Either one is fine, but curly kale soaks up the sauce a bit better. This stir fry is really good on its own, but you could also serve it with rice or noodles.

1 block extra-firm tofu (14 oz)
1 lb kale
1/2 cup whole raw cashews
3 large cloves garlic
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs oyster sauce
1 tbs hoisin sauce
1 - 1 1/2 tbs sambal oelek (Asian chile paste - the amount you should use depends on your heat tolerance)
1/2 tbs cornstarch
Approximately 1/2 cup broth (chicken, beef, or vegetable) or water
1 tbs canola oil, plus more if needed
1/2 tbs sesame oil
Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)

Cut tofu block into 1/2-inch-thick strips. Place strips on 3 layered paper towels, and top tofu with 3 more paper towels. Put a cutting board on top of the towels and place a heavy weight (such as a cast iron skillet) on the cutting board. Press tofu under weight for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, force garlic through a garlic press and set aside. Remove ribs from kale and roughly chop the leaves. Rinse and drain the leaves, but do not fully dry (the residual water will help them cook). Mix together soy sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, sambal oelek, and cornstarch in a liquid measuring cup. Add broth or water to bring volume to 3/4 cup.

When tofu is done pressing, cut into cubes. Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat for 2 minutes. Carefully add canola oil and sesame oil (oil may bubble and splatter when it hits the hot wok). Tilt wok to coat sides and bottom evenly with oil. Add tofu and stir fry until until browned, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer tofu to a bowl. If wok is dry, add a splash of canola oil. Add cashews and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until golden brown. Transfer cashews to bowl holding tofu. Add kale to wok and toss with tongs until kale is bright green and excess water has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Clear a space in the center of the wok and add a small splash of oil if dry. Add garlic and stir fry in the center of the wok for 30 seconds, then toss with the kale. Return tofu and cashews to the wok and pour in sauce. Toss to distribute sauce evenly. Take wok off heat as soon as sauce thickens - this may only take 30 seconds or so on high heat. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Stuffed cabbage leaves

Yum...this may be my new favorite way to cook cabbage. I know I just told you about a cabbage recipe last week, but that one only used half a head, so I still had the other half to deal with. I had been thinking about making stuffed cabbage for a while, but most of the recipes I'd seen included ground meat of some kind, and I was really looking for something vegetarian. I finally found the perfect recipe in World Food: Greece, which is a big, gorgeous cookbook that my sister gave me. Greece is probably #1 on my list of places to visit, but until I find an opportunity to go, I'll have to make do with getting a taste of it at home.

The cabbage here is stuffed with a sweet and savory mixture of rice, raisins, and nuts, and then braised in tomato sauce. The ingredient list is simple, and the dish doesn't take much active time, but it takes quite a while for everything to cook, especially if you choose to use brown rice like I did. Totally worth it though. This made a great dinner with some bread on the side to dip in the sauce. And I bet the leftovers will be delicious!