Thursday, November 30, 2017

Turkey and Beet Greens Ragu

Turkey and beet greens come together in a zesty sauce. It begins with a saute of onions and garlic. As they turn color I add slivered beet greens. Only green leaves, no stems. I like beet greens as they have a nice peppery kick. A quick saute once again and turkey gets to dance in the pan. I let the turkey brown before I pour in a large glug of white wine. Fire-roasted tomatoes and tomato paste mingle with salt and pepper. Unlike traditional ragu, this one has a short simmer. Penne is the pasta of choice. Then again ragu can be ladled over any pasta. 

Serves 4

1 pound ground Turkey
1 Onion
4 Garlic cloves
1 cup Beet Greens (only leaves)
1/4 cup White Wine
1/2 cup fire-roasted Tomatoes (canned or fresh)
1 tablespoon Tomato Paste
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/4 teaspoon ground Black Pepper
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
Pasta cooked al-dente
Parmesan Cheese

Peel and chop onion finely.

Peel and cut garlic into thin slivers.

Cut out large beet stems from the leaves. Chop beet leaves roughly into large chunks. Rinse well to remove any grit from the beets.

Heat olive oil in large saucepan.

When it shimmers add chopped onions and garlic. Stir onions till they turn light brown.

Crumble ground turkey into onions. Turn heat to high and saute till turkey acquires some color. Break up the meat with a spatula as you saute it.

When the turkey has a lot of brown spots, pour the white wine in. It should bubble vigorously. Scrape the brown spots in the pan with a spoon. This fond, as it is called, has a ton of flavor.

Stir the meat for a few minutes and then add beet greens. Saute till greens turn a little limp.

Add fire-roasted tomatoes and tomato paste to turkey. 

Season with salt and pepper.

Cover the saucepan and let the sauce cook for 15-20 minutes.

Serve ragu over cooked pasta with a liberal spoonful of grated Parmesan.

The ragu has simple flavor and a wholesomeness that is heartwarming. Paired with an arugula salad, our forks are put to good use.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Chipotle Crab Cakes

I have so much fun planning a milestone birthday meal for Carla, my sister-in-law. She is a gentle soul, to whom family means the world. So our family celebrates her milestone with a Pimm's Cup, wine and multi course meals. The repast is to be a deconstructed walk through Carla’s life as I know it. We first met her with Vic in Maryland. She entered our lives with a delightful smile and a heart full of love. Her life has been one big travelogue, her parents having lodged all over the world. The world traveller deserves an international meal!

Our small plates start in Maryland with crab cakes. We move on to slurp some Tom Kha, a mildly spicy Thai mushroom and bamboo shoot coconut soup which annotates her travels through Asia, where Vic was posted for three years. Their last trip was to Japan, so I fry us some Okonomiyaki. Then there is the obligatory nod to India where her roots are strong, complemented by a favorite Batata Vada. Europe plays into the picture with a Gorgonzola stuffed pear salad. And then over the channel to England where she did her schooling, with a very recognizable Beef Wellington with a Leek Parsnip Carrot gratin and peas and gravy as the hearty main course. It is full circle back home with Lemon Pudding and Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Crab cakes start with fresh crab meat. No substitutes allowed! A sauce made with mayonnaise, eggs, herbs and spices is mixed in. The crab sits in the fridge for ten minutes, while I pulse fresh bread in the food processor. Gather about two scant tablespoons in your palm. Flatten them slightly and dredge in the fresh breadcrumbs. Pan fry them in butter or oil. Butter is always better! It is delicate operation, making crab cakes, but so rewarding.

Makes 10-12 small cakes

1 pound fresh Crab Meat
2 Eggs
3 tablespoons Mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon Chipotle Chile Powder
1/4 teaspoon Chile Powder
1/2 teaspoon Lemon Juice
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
Fresh ground Black Pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped Cilantro
3-4  Bread slices (preferably Pepperridge Farm white bread)
Butter for sauteeing
2 tablespoons Ketchup
1 tablespoon Sriracha

Mix eggs, mayonnaise, chipotle and chile powders, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a bowl.

Flake crab meat into another bowl.

Pour egg and mayo sauce into the crab meat. Blend slowly, taking care not to break crab clusters.

Refrigerate crab for 15 minutes.

Break bread into small chunks. Place chunks in a food processor and pulse till you have crumbs. Keep crumbs in a bowl.

Take the crab out of the fridge. 

Add 1/4 cup of fresh breadcrumbs and cilantro into crab. Mix gently.

Melt a few pats of butter in a nonstick saucepan.

Heap remaining fresh breadcrumbs onto a plate.

Take about two scant tablespoons of crab meat in your palm. Pat it into a round shape.

Dust the top and bottom of crab cake in the breadcrumbs.

Place gently into hot butter and fry till golden brown on both sides.

Make the remaining crab cakes in the same fashion.

Keep cakes warm in a 250F oven while you cook the rest.

Make a sauce by mixing ketchup and sriracha.

Serve crab cakes warm with the sauce or any sauce of your choice.

The celebration unleashes a flood of good wishes for Carla. The love in the room is overwhelming with old family friends and family that loves her.The succession of small and big plates please the birthday girl as we munch our way through her glory days!