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Kale salad with butternut squash and almonds | Recipe of the week

8 Feb

I realized this week that’s it’s February and I haven’t been taking enough advantage of some of the two best things about winter: winter greens and winter squashes. I found this recipe for a salad with butternut squash, cranberry beans, and broccoli raab (a veggie I discovered through Happy Boy Farms at the Noe Valley Farmers Market — and LOVED). Unfortunately, after going to two different supermarkets, I couldn’t find either cranberry beans or broccoli raab, and I had already bought squash and kale (as a backup to the raab). So, plan B: Google search for “butternut squash kale salad.”

Kale, butternut squash, and almond salad

I turned up this tasty-looking recipe for kale salad with butternut squash and almonds, from Bon Appetit, and last night, Dave and I made it with some thick-cut, bone-in pork chops and homemade improvised apple sauce (Dave intended for them to be cooked apples, but then he decided to mush them up).

The recipe was really easy and really, really tasty. By far, the most labor-intensive part was cubing the squash, which is something that I’ve never learned how to do efficiently. Google, again, to the rescue. I followed Simplyrecipes’ great instructions on how to peel and cut a butternut squash, and got semi-uniform (I’m still working on my knife skills) cubes to roast. This recipe would probably also be good with yams or sweet potatoes, if you’re in more of a hurry and don’t want to hassle with the squash (there’s always the TJ’s pre-cut squash, too).

Kale and butternut squash salad with pork chop and homemade applesauce

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Spatchcocked lemon chicken | Recipe of the week

6 Feb

This was a recipe of the week a few weeks ago, but I just finally grabbed a bunch of photos off our camera. So here’s our spatchcocked lemon chicken. I love making roast chicken, but I was kind of getting bored with my standard recipe (and the standard variations). Always tasty, always virtually the same. Martha Stewart Living to the rescue! (BTW, Pilar Guzman is doing an awesome job as editor of that magazine. After canceling my sub in a huff a few years ago, I resubscribed. Although the depth of the coverage from before isn’t there, the fun is back, the fussiness is gone, and I want to cook and make several things in every issue!)

This recipe, from Lucinda Scala Quinn, is AWESOME. Roast chicken can get kind of boring. This is not. The lemon slices, wedged under the skin and underneath the bird, add such a bright, sunny flavor to the chicken — which is great for the middle of winter — and probably even bring some often much-needed moistness to the breasts. And spatchcocking means that you don’t have to awkwardly flip the bird partway through the roasting process. Very convenient.

Dave high-fived me when we ate it. We used Meyer lemons, because we have a tree full of them, but I kept the quantity of lemons about the same as in the recipe.

Spatchcocked lemon chicken

I would make this again and again and again and again. Scala Quinn, because she is a genius and highly practical, even has a recipe for a soup that uses the leftovers. Er, make that two recipes.

Additional resources:

Video on how to spatchcock a chicken.

Recipe: Roast spatchcocked lemon chicken, Martha Stewart Living.

Chicken Soup with Chipotle Paste | Recipe of the Week

5 Jan

For 2013, I’m bringing back one of my favorite New Year’s resolutions: trying at least one new recipe every week. But I’m adding a twist to it this year. I’ve been jealous of Dave and how he has a bunch of recipes stored in his head, so another resolution is to revisit at least one old favorite recipe (or, at most, a twist on an old favorite) every week so that I build up a repertoire AND expand my horizons.

Today, both to keep up with my resolution and to try to get rid of my relentless and enduring cold, I made chicken soup with chipotle paste, from Mark Bittman’s The Best Recipes in the World. Bittman described it as a smoky soup (thanks to the chipotle paste), so I used the turkey stock we made from our Thanksgiving turkey (smoked on our then-3-day-old Big Green Egg). The smoky stock complemented the chipotles nicely.

Mark Bittman's chicken soup and chipotle paste. Add as much or as little of the paste to the soup to give it kick, but a squeeze of lime juice really helps bring out the flavor.

Mark Bittman’s chicken soup and chipotle paste. Add as much or as little of the paste to the soup to give it kick, but a squeeze of lime juice really helps bring out the flavor.

The recipe is super easy — great for a weeknight meal (and then you have leftovers to freeze or eat for lunch). The basic recipe is a plain ol’ chicken and rice soup recipe. Add the chipotle paste (which you make while the soup is cooking), and it’s got just enough kick. “Just enough” because you add it to your own bowl. But squeeze a wedge of lime into it, and all the flavors seem to focus: the spiciness of the peppers is clearer, the smokiness becomes a nice background, and the carrots and celery are a nice little veggie break from the more intense flavors.

And, add enough chipotle paste, and it’s a decent sinus-clearer.

Personal Pizzaquest: Pizza with caramelized onions and arugula

11 Sep
Pizza with caramelized onion and arugula

Pizza with caramelized onion and arugula.

Dave and I got the idea of making our own pizza earlier this year, but it wasn’t until the magic of the wedding registry that we were fully equipped to do it (thank you Katie and Liz). Our first attempt was pretty meh. The crust was too thick and underbaked, and it stuck to the pizza peel, resulting in lots of panicked expressions as we struggled to shake it off and into the oven.

Tonight, while trying to figure out what to do for dinner without Dave, I decided to make pizza. I had arugula, and I know I’ve liked arugula on pizza, but I can never remember what other toppings accompanied it. So I did a quick Google search and turned up this deliciousness. Since it’s been years since I caramelized an onion, I dug up this handy how-to, also from SeriousEats.

I made the dough (Bittman’s recipe for Basic Pizza Dough, HTCE p. 258) and dashed off to the market while it rose. I can’t eat white sauce, so I decided to stick with red. Dave actually made a huge batch of red sauce, but I didn’t want to defrost it, and I also like a thicker, plainer sauce for pizza. Years ago, I made pizzas at home, and I used an awesomely easy tomato sauce recipe. It was like two ingredients. Needless to say, I have not been able to track it down, so I did Bittman’s Basic Tomato Sauce (HTCE p. 130), which turned out…fine. I did not crush the tomatoes enough with the fork and I overcooked the whole thing. The caramelized onions fared better, and I tossed in a bit of balsamic at the end, to help deglaze the pan and to add some flavor.

One of my main improvements, this time, was rolling out a thinner crust. I followed Bittman’s instructions to push the dough into a round, then let it rest for a few minutes. As the recipe promised, it helped the dough retain its shape as I rolled it out. (In our previous attempt, the dough kept shrinking back.)

The other main improvement was thoroughly flouring the pizza peel. I rubbed the flour into the peel to make sure the surface was nice and smooth. I drizzled the dough with olive oil, smeared it with sauce, put the caramelized onions on top, and then topped it with cheese, then put the whole thing in the oven. The extra flouring really helped the pizza slip right off the peel — even though I left it in the oven, with the pizza on it, as I ran to turn off the smoke alarm. I thought for sure the dough would start melting into the peel.

It cooked a bit longer than the recommended 8-12 minutes (maybe closer to 15-18 to get the crust to brown a bit), and by that time, the cheese had browned. I put the arugula on it when it came out of the oven, hoping that it would wilt, but it didn’t. The flavors were good, though.

My wins:

  • Flattening the risen ball of dough into a disc, then letting it rest before rolling it out. The rolled out dough held its shape much better than when I’ve made pizza in the past.
  • Thoroughly flouring the pizza peel. I actually rubbed the flour in, which smoothed out the surface nicely.
  • The flavor combination. It was super tasty.

Things I’ll try next time:

  • A different sauce recipe. In writing this post, I actually found the recipe I used to use: crushed tomatoes, olive oil. Easy peasy.
  • Waiting a few minutes to add the cheese. I have struggled to get the right balance between crusty crust and gooey cheese. Since today I know that I rolled the dough out thin enough to get a crusty crust, I think I need to let the pie cook a bit before I add the cheese.
  • Add any greens I want wilted while the pizza is still in the oven. I didn’t want fully wilted greens, but I wanted slightly wilted greens. By adding them after the pie came out of the oven, I got un-wilted greens.

Fun links:

Pumpkin bread from scratch | Recipe of the week

26 Oct

Pumpkin bread

Tonight, I made pumpkin bread from scratch. Though, to be fair, I started on the pumpkin puree on Sunday. We went to Farmer John’s Pumpkin Patch in Half Moon Bay on Sunday to pick up some carving pumpkins, as well as a Cinderella and a Fairytale pumpkin for eatin’. Mrs. Farmer John told me that the Cinderellas were good for baking and the Fairytale was better for grilling, since it had less water.

I was thinking of roasting the pumpkins, like I often do with winter squash, but D wanted to use the pumpkins to make pumpkin bread. Good ol’ Cook’s Illustrated helped out here, with simple (though time-intensive) instructions for making pumpkin puree. We used the Cinderella for the puree and CI’s recipe for pumpkin-nut bread (leaving out the nuts). And voila! Pumpkin bread from scratch. We ate it with vanilla ice cream, after it cooled down a bit but was still warm from the oven. It was definitely a subtler taste than with canned pumpkin, but it was pretty darn tasty. Next time, I’d add a tiny bit more sugar and more spices.

Recipes: Pumpkin-Nut Bread (Cook’s Illlustrated). Although Mrs. Farmer John’s recipe (and pumpkin prep technique) is here.

Technique: Pureeing pumpkins (Cook’s Illustrated)

Pan-seared lamb shoulder chops, arugula and blue cheese salad | Recipe(s) of the week

18 Jul

Pan-grilled lamb shoulder chop (without the pan grilling or marinating)
Arugula and blue cheese salad. HTCE p. 95

I really need to learn how to take photos.

Summer squash and herbs in parchment | Recipe of the week

31 Aug

Summer squash and herbs in parchment. The dish that finally sold me on summer squash.

A couple of weeks ago, my sweet boyfriend gave me some homegrown squash (along with some other veggies). I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I don’t like summer squash. But then I chose to reframe it as an opportunity to change–or, at least, revisit–my opinion.

On my way to the grocery store, I checked my “How to Cook Everything” app for a good squash recipe and found the summer squash and herbs in parchment (also in HTCEV). With its few ingredients, simple preparation, and promise of tastiness, it looked like a perfect unemployed-girl recipe!

And it was. After roasting a chicken last night, I popped these squash, onion, and herb-filled parchment packets into the oven, and 20 minutes later, had a sweet, flavorful side dish by the time I carved my chicken. I’m sold.

Note: The basil I bought for this recipe had already gone bad, so I used rosemary and fennel (to get the licorice flavor of the tarragon that Bittman’s recipe suggested). I LOVED the fennel. It really contributed to the summery sweetness of the dish.

Summer squash and herbs in parchment, HTCEV, p. 362.