Sunday, July 31, 2011

Cottage Cheese Dill Bread

Soft & spongy & savory with a nice crust, brought to my attention by polkadotdotdot, in whose kitchen I've enjoyed more than one cup of tea and slice of toast sprinkled with dill. Amazing fresh from the oven w/oil, vinegar, and garden tomatoes. And speaking of toast, I expect it will be a winner in that arena too.

The only problem is: NOT ENOUGH DILL! I doubled up to half a cup of freshly chopped dill and it's still only a background flavor. Next time: ONE CUP of dill. Till then, I will sprinkle my putative toast with MORE DILL.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Chilled Corn & Fava Soup

Chris says this is "the finest soup I've ever made." And we are generally more or less awash in a sea of soup around here, so he wasn't lacking in comparators. However, it's just a leeeeeeetle bit labor intensive (cutting corn from the cob, double-shucking favas, peeling a whole head of garlic, cleaning leeks, stemming herbs).

So as not to inadvertently lead anyone down the path to a very late dinner, I'll specify that it took me about 2.5 hours ... maybe this is one to make with a sous chef, or on a post-farmer's -market Sunday afternoon when you have lawyer work you should ACTUALLY be doing and are seeking to forget, through repetitive physical motions and nice veggie smells, that you've ever read a law at all...

But anyway, that said, I just gobbled down two veggie-laden, pale green, savory-sweet, crunchy bowlsful like they were dang ice cream sundaes, so it gets a post.

You'll need:
2 pounds (in pods) favas - or more if you think you can face the shucking
6 cobs corn
4 small / 2 large leeks
1 head garlic
2 cups-ish (de-stemmed, loosely packed) fresh herbs: Mix of parsley, dill, tarragon, and mint
3 TB butter
Veggie bullion
Salt, paprika
Cotija cheese or a mild feta to top

Also: A soup pot, a saucepan with a steamer, tongs, blender.

The favas take the longest, both to prepare and to cook, so they're the place to start. Get 12 cups of water boiling. I added just 4 tsp of my preferred vegetable bullion to that quantity of broth (about 1/3 the amount called for) so it wouldn't be too intense. Then start shucking those favas.

When the broth starts to boil, take a break from the favas, husk your corn, and plop it in there to parbroil to make it easier to cut off the cob. (Unless you don't mind cutting raw corn off the cob, in which case be my guest, save yourself a step). When it cools, cut it off the cob and set it aside.

When the favas are out of their pods, put them in a steamer and steam them for 2-5 minutes, till the outsides look waxy and puckered, as if pulling away from the inner bean. Then peel that layer off too. (This was my first time dealing w/fresh fava beans,* and I quickly got in a groove where I'd put the knife perpendicular to the little brown line on top, and pop the top off like a cap, and then they'd shoot right outta their skins).

Once you get the favas into the broth, they will need awhile to soften, so you have plenty of time to prepare your garlic and leeks. Wash and slice the leeks; peel and slice the garlic, and put them all in the butter in the bottom of your saucepan, still hot from fava-steaming duty, on low heat. Let them soften. When they're niiiiiice and soft, add them to the broth. When the favas are also soft, add the corn as well.

Meantime, start pulling aromatic leaves from their stems. I used more parsley & dill than tarragon & mint. Don't skip the tarragon if you can help it though, I think it was an important flavor.

Once your herbs are ready, scoop some of the soup into the blender, add the herbs to the blender as well, and liquefy. I left the soup about 1/3 rustic and 2/3 blended, so there was plenty of texture but the broth had some creaminess to it. Season with salt and paprika.

Chill, then serve topped with your crumbly cheese plus maybe a squirt of lime and dash of paprika, with buttered bread and chilled white wine,. (I had it hot for lunch today on account of ferocious office A/C, and that was good too, but I think cold is better.)

*You'd think I never had a sister who farmed fava beans! But I did! Guess which one!

(There, have I redeemed myself from silly salad-dressing and smoothie recipes??)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Guest Post: Cherry Crumble

My good friend Natalie brought this very tasty summer dessert to a picnic last weekend. No worries about messy crumbles when you're in the grass! I pested her till she sent me the following guidelines:

Ok, here is the recipe I used, as my baseline anyway.

But I changed it to add 1 tsp. lemon juice to the crust and 1/4 tsp. into the cherry part, and also I threw the oatmeal into the food processor for a few seconds to make it smaller, closer to a coarse oat flour, but not nearly as ground up as flour. (And probably more than a pinch of salt in the crust. But I don't measure stuff, so I don't even know about the lemon juice/salt amounts above.)

The main criticism I had of this recipe is that there was way too much sugar in the crust, too much butter/margarine (I used a mix of half butter, half margarine in mine), and not enough oats and flour -- the wrong ratio. So if I make it again, I will definitely change that ratio to half the amount of sugar in the crust and increase the oats and flour.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Perfect Summer Salad

Denver's had strange afternoon rainstorms rolling through all summer. I suspect it's not something to celebrate, but it HAS been pretty amazing for my little potted garden. Tonight I went out back and picked a salad of delicate little lettuce leaves, bright red cherry tomatoes, and torn basil.

To dress it, I mixed up just a little olive oil with the juice of a grilled lemon (leftover from an artichoke adventure, and even better than plain old lemon juice), pinch of salt, and few drops of honey... and drank the last few drops of dressing from the bottom of the bowl when the salad was gone.

Happy summer!

Cherry Garcia Smoothie

One scoop vanilla ice cream, 3 frozen bananas, 1 chocolate pudding cup, 1 large handful frozen cherries, a few hershey's kisses, a few ice cubes, and a splash of orange juice.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Chiky Cookie S'mores

I read the food blog of a dear friend, Melissa Harrington, at 519 Kitchen. She's living in Korea and often posts about the trials of cooking abroad. Awhile ago, she posted here about her makeshift s'mores in the absence of graham crackers.

Saturday night, my friends and I encountered the same thing in Monteverde, Costa Rica when the family that ran our hostel (a.k.a. hosted us in their home for the night) offered to light us a fire for s'mores. We couldn't find graham crackers and the chocolate bars were only in mini size and far too expensive.

In the midst of our disappointment, I suddenly remembered Melissa's stroke of inspiration in using Korean chocolate covered cookies in place of graham crackers and chocolate. I ran to the cookie aisle and found the Costa Rican version, Chiky cookies, which are chocolate chip cookies with chocolate covering.

We bought a pack and returned to our hostel and a ten foot blaze of a fire that the family insisted was perfectly fine. Most of us weren't brave enough to edge close enough to the fire for roasting, but the five year old boy present took care of that for us. The kids loved the galletas and marshmallows, and one of my friends said she thinks that how s'mores should always be made- essentially a gooey chocolatey marshmallow cookie sandwich.
The moral of the story is this: resourcefulness in cooking is always a win, and if you are ever in a foreign country with chocolate covered cookies (I can't think of any U.S. equivalent) make s'mores with them. ¡Que delicioso!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Baked Barbecue Chicken with Pineapple

Before my sisters begin laughing about the fact that I am about to present yet another variation on my go-to dish of barbecue chicken, let me explain.

I spent six weeks in Peru. And in Peru, they don't have barbecue sauce. If you know Annalise, you know that this is a big deal.

I visited McDonald's for the first time out of homesickness and the comfort "normal" food can easily give in that regard. As I was ordering my McNuggets, I could have sworn I heard the words "barbecue sauce" escape her mouth (albeit in Spanish) and my love for Mcdonald's skyrocketed in that moment. Sadly, that day, there was no barbecue sauce sauce next to the aji de gallina, thus I ate my McNuggets in contentment and attributed it to the language barrier.

A few weeks later, with a shortened lunch break and knowledge of the fact that restaurants in Peru take about twice as long to bring you your food, I stood in Gato's Market in the Plaza de Armas and spied it: a bottle of barbecue sauce. I debated for some minutes before caving, purchasing it, tucking it in my bag and marching proudly to McDonald's, excited to consume some McNuggets with barbecue sauce. I got to McDonald's, ordered, and....she handed me two packs of barbecue sauce with my meal.

Fast forward a few weeks and here I am in Costa Rica, with a bottle of unopened barbecue sauce, a kitchen (at last!), and an abundance of the most melt-in-your-mouth, juice-dripping-down-your-chin delicious pineapples you will ever find. The following meal is the result:

Barbecue Pineapple Chicken

I placed two laaaarrrrge chicken breasts in what was supposed to be a casserole dish, but was metal and electrocuted me several times. These I drenched in the precious barbecue sauce (I imagine this would have been better with honey barbecue or some sort of tropical fruit-themed one) and 1 bottle of pineapple juice bought at the store. If you are not in a place that has corner markets overflowing with fruit (sorry, friends) canned pineapple could also work, and the extra juice from the can would be placed in the pan. I then looked up recipes for baked chicken, but wisely called up my mama to gather her opinion first. I ended up placing the whole thing, covered in tin foil, in the oven for about 40 minutes at 375 ish (ish because I had to convert to Celsius). Then I pulled it out, checked it, placed fresh pineapple slices on top and placed it back in for another ten to allow the pineapple to become even more juicy (if that's possible?). We served it with corn on the cob (not very good here) and saute├ęd zucchini (very good here, particularly when topped with cheese).

The verdict: the pineapple CAN be juicier, and that bottle of barbecue sauce was totally worth it. Also I'm going to live in Costa Rica and eat tropical fruit for the rest of my life. See you at the beach.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Warm Asparagus and Potato Salad with Tahini Mustard Dressing

Inspired by this potato and asparagus salad. I took the mustard dressing idea as a base, but added tahini to make it creamier. Deliciously tangy!

4 russet potatoes
1 large yam (the kind with pale yellow flesh)
2 bunches asparagus
1 bunch green onion
4 cloves garlic
2 lemons
Dijon Mustard
Olive Oil
Sea Salt
Black Pepper

Wash and chop the potatoes + yam. Toss in a bit of olive oil, lots of dill, sea salt, pepper, and basil. Roast at 425 until starting to brown.

Meanwhile, cut and steam the two bunches of asparagus. Once steamed, chop into large pieces and set aside in serving bowl.

Chop green onions and garlic. Use about 1/2 of the total green onion bunch. Place in a bowl; squeeze the juice of both lemons over the onions and garlic. Add several tablespoons of mustard and olive oil, to taste. Add two tablespoons of tahini, make sure to mix well and emulsify. Finish with sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste.

Remove potatoes from oven, move into serving bowl with asparagus. Toss with dressing and serve warm.