Saturday, June 15, 2019

Burrata Watermelon Salad with Thai Basil

Make this when you have little time to make a salad. Make it when you want a simple but delicious side. Make it because it tastes so damn good. Believe my words and just make it. 

This barebones salad needs the sweetest watermelon, room temperature burrata, thai basil, extra virgin olive oil, slat and pepper. Use the best sea salt you have. Grind your pepper fresh. Flavor rests in the freshness of product. Chinks of watermelon surround a mound of burrata. Slivers of basil fleck the salad. Olive oil ribbons coat the salad. Season well. Reap the rewards!

Serves 2 as a salad course

2 cups cubed Watermelon
1 ball of Burrata, at room temperature
2 tablespoons Thai Basil 
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt
Freshly ground Black pepper

Place burrata in the center of a serving dish.

Surround burrata with watermelon cubes.

Cut basil into thin slivers. Scatter over watermelon.

Drizzle olive oil generously over salad.

Season with salt and pepper.

Enjoy the salad!

The crunch of watermelon, The softness of cheese. The spicy pop of basil. The unctuousness of olive oil. Heaven on a plate!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Sriracha Shrimp

What is easy and fast to cook and tastes delicious? Something small? Shrimp! Though mine is rather large...more jumbo sized. Yet they will cook quickly. It's what's on my plate tonight. 

These large shrimp are cleaned, butterflied and marinated for a short while in a spicy Sriracha and oil marinade. The grill pan helps them caramelize. It is the quick twist of the wrist, the fast flick of a knife and a ready fork to enjoy this meal.

Serves 2

4 jumbo Shrimp
2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Garlic paste
2 teaspoons Lime Juice
1 teaspoon Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon ground Black Pepper
Canola Oil Spray

Peel shrimp, leaving the tail on.  Devein and wash well. Pat dry.

Butterfly shrimp., leaving the tails on. 

Make a marinade by whisking Sriracha, olive oil, garlic paste, lime juice, sugar, salt and pepper together in a bowl.

Add shrimp to marinade and keep aside for 20 minutes.

Heat a stovetop grill pan over a high flame.

Coat the pan with canola spray and add shrimp to pan. Cook on all sides for a total of 3-5 minutes till golden and the edges have caramelized.

Enjoy them plain or with greens and a salad.

The shrimp have a simple clean taste, with faint chile undertones. Enough to let the star shine...full of jumbo flavor!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Roasted Eggplant and Harissa Mashup

Nosh food is a genre close to my heart. Small plates to be sampled with wine or cocktails is trendy. You could carry the concept over to lunch. A soup or salad and a plate of roasted eggplant, cooked slowly with spices and harissa? Sounds and tastes delicious. 

I grill thick slices of eggplant. The base starts with pale brown onion, garlic and tomato paste. Add some chopped prunes. Allow the base to saute low and slow. Add the roasted eggplant, harissa paste, a splash of champagne vinegar and some mint. Do as the title suggests...mash it well. Let the flavors develop as they cook. 

Heat triangles of garlic naan or pita. Scoop the mash up.

Makes 2 scant cups

1 medium Eggplant
Olive Oil
1 large Onion 
4 Garlic cloves
2 heaped tablespoons Tomato paste
1/2 cup pitted Prunes
2 tablespoons Harissa paste
1/2 teaspoon Champagne Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
Several grinds of Black Pepper
15 Mint leaves, slivered
Garlic Naan, Pita bread or Crackers

Cut eggplant into 1 inch thick slices.

Preheat an outdoor or indoor grill.

Brush eggplant slices with olive oil on both sides.

Grill slices till soft and charred, flipping occasionally. 

Take them off the grill. Cool and chop into small dice.

Heat 2 tablespoon olive oil in a nonstick skillet.

Chop onion into small dice and add to hot oil. Saute till pale brown. 

Peel and slice garlic and add to onions. Let garlic bloom for 30 seconds.

Add tomato paste to onion and stir well. Let the tomato paste saute for a few minutes.

Add prune to onions. 

Saute onion and tomatoes on a low flame for 30 minutes, scraping the pan often.

The tomato paste will thicken and change color to a deep maroon color as you saute. 

Add chopped eggplant, harissa paste, champagne vinegar, salt, pepper and mint leaves. 

Allow the eggplant to cook slowly on a low flame for 15 minutes.

Scrape into a bowl.

Garnish with mint leaves, along with warm naan or pita triangles.

My soup and eggplant lunch satisfies in umpteen ways. A fun mash that's uplifting! 

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Capellini with Clams and Chorizo

This dish is an alliterative plateful. Thin capellini cooks up fast. Cherrystone clams open up, swimming in beer. Chorizo clumps up as it cooks, making for an intriguing surf and turf combination. Awkward but delicious, I watch a similar preparation on a food show and adapt it to my standards.

Start by chopping chorizo sausage into small bits. Remove the outer casing. As it cooks it tends to clump up. Break up the sausage with a spoon. It should cook till brown and crisp.  Brown onions and garlic in the chorizo oil for boosted flavor. Pour in beer. Drop cleaned clams in to the beer. Cover and let the magic happen. A little tomato paste, cooked capellini and browned chorizo make this an unusual meat and seafood pasta. Twirl your fork and relish it.

Adapted from Pati Jinich
Serves 4

4-5 Mexican Chorizo Sausages
3 dozen Clams
2 Onions
6-8 Garlic cloves
2 Chile de Arbol
1  16oz bottle of any Mexican Pilsner Beer
3 tablespoons Tomato Paste
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 pound Capellini or Angel Hair Pasta
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt 
Fresh ground Black Pepper
Cilantro leaves

Wash clams well. Discard any clams that do not close.

Remove outer casings of chorizo and cut into small pieces.

Heat a dutch oven or deep saucepan over medium heat. 

Add oil. 

When oil shimmers add chorizo. Break up chorizo with a spoon. Brown, stirring often till chorizo is crispy. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Keep aside.

Chop onions roughly and  add to oil.  Saute till soft. 

Slice garlic.

Add garlic and crumble chile de arbol into the onions. Saute. 

Pour beer into the onions and bring to simmer.

Add clams to saucepan. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. The clams should have opened. Discard any that havent.

Boil a quart of salted water. Add capellini to boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Drain. Save some pasta water if you need to thin out the sauce.

Remove clams from the sauce. Take the meat out of 24 clams. Keep the rest of the clams intact.

Add tomato paste to sauce.

Add the clam meat, whole clams and chorizo to sauce and simmer for 5 minutes. 

Drop capellini into sauce. Saute for 2 minutes.

Season with salt.

Garnish with cilantro and enjoy. 

Mexican style pasta is quite the revelation, clash of cultures that is easy on the eye and taste buds.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Chocolate Pistachio Fridge Cake

Ottolenghi recipes never fail to delight. They include a melange of vegetables, a few meat-centric nuggets, involve a multi-step cooking process with a string of ingredients as long as my arm, and eventually pleases the palate. Not complaining, no no no. I usually maneuver my way through the labor intensive recipes. So when I find an easy dessert, I am ecstatic.  

All I have to do is melt chocolate with butter and maple syrup. Add pistachios and raisins. Crumble in graham crackers and let it settle in the fridge. And I have a scrumptious immensely snackable chocolate bar. Ottolenghi calls it a fridge cake. I call it my nemesis.

Adapted from Simple by Ottolenghi
Makes 25-30 small bars

10 oz dark Chocolate (I used Trader Joe's)
1 stick or 8 tablespoons Butter
2 tablespoons Maple Syrup
1 cup Raisins
3 tablespoons dark Rum
A large pinch of Kosher Salt
6 oz Graham Crackers (about 15 pieces)
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons Pistachios

Line a 13x8 inch pan or dish with parchment paper.

Soak raisins in rum.

Fill a deep saucepan halfway with water and bring to boil.

Chop chocolate into 1 inch pieces. 

Put chocolate, butter, cut into eight pieces, maple syrup and salt in a heatproof bowl. 

Place in a heatproof bowl over the saucepan. The simmering water should not touch the bowl.  

Heat chocolate for 4-5 minutes. Then stir well till smooth.

Crumble graham crackers into 1 inch pieces.

Add raisins, 3/4 cup pistachios and graham crackers into chocolate. Stir till crackers are well coated with chocolate.

Spoon the chocolate into the lined dish. Smooth the top till it is flat.

Sprinkle the remaining pistachios over the top. Push them in lightly to embed. 

Let the chocolate sit for 15 minutes. 

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3-4 hours.

Cut into 2 inch bars. 

Refrigerate till you serve.

These bars make an ideal hostess gift for Carla and Victor. Some are parcelled off to Nikita as she visits. And the crumbs fall into my lap.


Sunday, May 19, 2019

Lamb Shanks with Leeks and Barley

The media is ablaze with theories on the conclusion of Game Of Thrones! Sunday's episode is the last after eight torrid seasons. As the series culminates, questions abound. Who will sit on the Iron Throne? Who will live or die? The fate of this imaginary realm will be decided once and for all.

To accompany the resulting mania, I plan to dish up a GOT worthy repast. It will have to include roasting meats. Some greens. And copious amounts of wine, the main quaff of the series .

Lamb shanks are deemed appropriate. They are large, albeit shaped like a mini leg of lamb. They turn deep brown in olive oil, are then covered with leeks, barley, umami paste and beer, before going into the oven for a slow roast. You ask umami paste? Yes it does exist on Amazon. But I make my own. It is quite a flavor bomb, a paste made with soy sauce, fish sauce, anchovies, tomato paste, garlic, mushrooms, miso paste and a few other spices. And you thought umami was just the fifth taste bud!

Wafting aromas tickle the palate. The roast gets a stir halfway through cooking to brown evenly. Leeks form a crisp crust and barley plumps up tender from the lamb juices. Roasting meets the carnivore standards, both in taste and color. May the games begin.

Serves 4

4 Lamb Shanks
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
2 Leeks
3/4 cup Pearl Barley
2 teaspoons Umami Paste (recipe below)
1 160z dark Beer
2-3 cups Water
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon ground Black Pepper

Makes 1/2 cup

2 Anchovies
1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
2 teaspoons Tomato paste
2 teaspoons Fish Sauce
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese
2 tablespoons Olive oil
4 Garlic cloves, minced
4 Shitaki Mushroom, minced
1 teaspoon white Miso Paste
1 teaspoons Balsamic Vinegar
A pinch of crushed Red Pepper Flakes

Blend all the above ingredients in a food processor till smooth.
Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Place an ovenproof Dutch oven on a high flame.

Add olive oil.

Pat lamb shanks dry and add to hot oil. 

Sear lamb on all sides. The shanks should be deep brown.

Season with salt and pepper.

Heat oven to 325F.

Wash leeks to remove any grit. Chop into chunks.

When lamb has browned, add leeks, barley and umami paste.

Pour in the beer and bring to a boil. Scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan into the sauce.

Add between 2 and 3 cups water, enough to cover the shanks. 

Place shanks into the oven and cook for 2-3 hours till shanks are tender.

Halfway through give the shanks a stir and return to the oven.

Poke shanks with a knife to check if they are tender.

Serve with sauteed greens. 

Use a fork and knife or eat GOT style- with your hands!

Game time approaches. All senses are on high alert. Rumor mills are rife on the internet. We ignore them all to enjoy our hearty meal.Winter is over.