Thursday, February 25, 2016

chile-cumin lamb meatballs.

These are the best lamb meatballs I have ever made (Tyler was in agreement).   

I have a love affair with meatballs due to the fact that they are endlessly adaptable and absurdly easy.   These are a tiny bit more labor intensive then your everyday turkey or beef meatball with red sauce but it's worth it.   The chile sauce which you might think is unnecessary is totally necessary - it provides the perfect smoky and acidic counterpart to the gaminess of the lamb and any leftovers make for a pretty swell sandwich spread.  

Chile-Cumin Lamb Meatballs

Recipe adapted slightly from Bon Appetit

Chile Sauce

3 pasilla chiles, seeds removed, chopped
1½ teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
¼ cup Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
1 garlic clove, chopped
½ cup olive oil
Kosher salt

Meatballs and Assembly

¼ small onion, chopped
8 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
¾ teaspoon fennel seeds
¾ teaspoon ground coriander
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more
1 large egg
1¼ pounds ground lamb
1 tablespoon rice flour or all-purpose flour
4–5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
½ English hothouse cucumber, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1½ tablespoons Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup plain sheep’s-milk or cow’s whole-milk yogurt
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
Crushed red pepper flakes (for serving)

Chile Sauce: Toast chiles, red pepper flakes, and cumin seeds in a dry small skillet over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until fragrant and cumin seeds are golden, about 3 minutes. Let cool. Working in batches, finely grind in spice mill, then transfer to a blender.

Add vinegar, paprika, and garlic to blender and blend until smooth. With motor running, gradually stream in oil and blend until combined. Transfer to a large bowl; season with salt.

Do Ahead: Chile sauce can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.

Meatballs And Assembly: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Pulse onion, chopped garlic, parsley, oregano, sage, fennel seeds, coriander, cumin, and 1 Tbsp. salt in a food processor, scraping down sides as needed, until finely chopped. Add egg, lamb, and flour and pulse until evenly combined. Form lamb mixture into 1 ½" balls.  Drizzle with olive oil and transfer to the oven.  

Cook meatballs for 15 - 18 minutes or until cooked through.  Transfer all meatballs to bowl with chile sauce and toss to coat.

Toss cucumber in a medium bowl with lemon zest, lemon juice, vinegar, and remaining 2 Tbsp. oil; season with salt and pepper.

Spoon yogurt into bowls. Evenly divide meatballs among bowls; top with dressed cucumber and mint and sprinkle with red pepper flakes.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

triple coconut muffins.

In an effort to enliven my daily breakfast routine of oatmeal or granola with yogurt, I've started to dive into the world of muffins.  Muffins can fall into one of two camps - cake disguised as breakfast (I'm looking at you double chocolate strussel muffin) and those dense, devoid of flavor (but healthy!) hockey pucks that are labeled (in my opinion incorrectly) as muffins.  Neither of them really feel like a muffin to me.  A muffin shouldn't be dessert (even if I wish it were) and eating one shouldn't feel like punishment.  They should be flavorful and filled with all sorts of good for you things (namely fruit and whole grains).  They should be easy to prepare, freeze easily (for those mornings when you need something quick), and above all they should be good.  Really good. 

This, is my perfect breakfast muffin (it doesn't hurt that it tastes like a tropical vacation).   Chock-full of all my favorite flavors (coconut, banana, and blueberry) and filled with wholesome grains it's the kind of thing that will (at least help) get you out of bed in the morning.  And on cold, snowy-mix, still dark out mornings, we need all the help we can get.   

Triple Coconut Muffins
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

I realized while writing this you could make them quadruple coconut muffins if you use coconut sugar!  Haven't tried this yet but I imagine it would be delightful.  Also - If you are looking for a little extra protein, a tablespoon or two of ground flaxseed would be a great addition.   

Yield: 10 standard muffins

1/2 cup (110 grams) virgin coconut oil
3/4 cup (95 grams) spelt flour (or all-purpose)
1/2 cup (60 grams) whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup (230 grams) full fat coconut milk, at room temperature 
1/3 cup (65 grams) granulated sugar 
1 large egg, at room temperature is best
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1 large (VERY ripe banana) smashed (or pureed in the blender)
3/4 cup (90 grams) unsweetened shredded coconut, divided
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 375°F. Either grease 10 muffin cups with butter or coconut oil, or line them with papers.

In a small saucepan, warm your coconut oil just until it melts. It should still be on the cool side.

In a medium bowl, whisk together your flours, baking powder and salt. Stir 1/2 cup shredded coconut. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, sugar, coconut oil, coconut milk, vanilla, and banana. Stir into dry ingredients until just combined.  Stir in blueberries. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups then sprinkle the top with remaining 1/4 cup coconut, about 1 to 2 teaspoons on each.

Bake until a tester inserted into the center comes out batter-free, about 20 minutes. Transfer muffins to a rack and let cool.

Do ahead: Usually, muffins are best on day one but I just had one of these on day three and found them almost as moist and tender as day one. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

roast chicken with dijon sauce.

Is it weird that I don't have a Seamless account for ordering food? I realize I'm not the norm - I cook, a lot more then most urban dwelling 30 year old's but, in this day in age, is it strange to not want to have food delivered to you?  Is food delivery a right of passage that I am missing out on?  It's not that I am against delivery service per-se but, I've always seen it as an unnecessary luxury that I am too cheap to give into. Why order out when I can cook dinner and get it on the table faster (and cheaper!) then any restaurant (well maybe not the Chinese restaurants but most everything else).  

This is where the work horses of our weekly dinners come into play.  The dishes I can make in my sleep and return to at least once a month.  They are reliable, easy, and most importantly really freaking delicious and isn't that the point of eating?  

To most, roast chicken doesn't sound very exciting, in fact some may call it down-right boring (how rude) but when paired with a mustardy wine and cream sauce it becomes something else entirely.  It's dreamy and special.  The sauce turns it into a meal that you could picture yourself eating in a French brasserie (with a hunk of baguette, a leafy green salad, and a glass of cold white wine).  It's an easy dish to love - quick and simple with a short ingredient list (most of them being pantry staples!).  It's time you add this to your rotation.  

Roast Chicken with Dijon Sauce
Recipe adapted slightly from Gourmet

Want to turn this into a meal?  Serve it with some bread, a wedge of good cheese, and a simple green salad that you assemble while the chicken roasts.  DONE!  Also this reheats brilliantly.

3 pounds chicken parts (thighs, drumsticks, and/or breasts), with skin and bones

1 1/4 teaspoons salt plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper plus more to taste
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 small shallots, thinly sliced
3/4 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth (but let's be honest, homemade is best)
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
Lemon juice to taste

Preheat oven to 450F with rack in middle.

Pat chicken dry and sprinkle with 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Heat oil in an ovenproof 12-inch heavy skillet (cast iron is best for this!) over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Working in 2 batches, brown chicken, skin side down first and turning once, about 5 minutes per batch.  Don't move the chicken until the skin releases and it is evenly brown.  

Return all chicken, skin side up, to skillet and roast in oven until just cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.

Transfer chicken to a platter, then add shallots, wine, and broth to pan juices in skillet and boil, scraping up any brown bits, until reduced by half, 2 to 3 minutes. Add cream and boil until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. To thicken the sauce further, turn the heat to high and boil it until it reduces to a consistency you prefer.

Whisk in mustard, chives, and salt and pepper to taste.  Add a squeeze of lemon juice (I think it adds some nice brightness).  Serve chicken with sauce.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

salted brown butter crispy treats.

I feel kind of ridiculous talking about rice crispy treats since they are in the best possible way the furthest thing from a baked good.  Heating butter and marshmallows in the microwave and mixing in rice crispies is basically one step up from pouring yourself a bowl of cereal.   

But a few weeks back while rushing through Chelsea Market like a mad woman, I found myself at the Liddabit Sweets counter awestruck by a pile of Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats.  I can't explain why I wanted them but I did.  Immediately.  And then I wanted more.  

Rice crispy treats while good are nothing particularly special.  But adding browned butter and salt (and if you are up for the challenge homemade marshmallows) turns them into something positively transcendent.  

Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats
Recipe from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Because I am me, I made my own marshmallows.  You don't need to but my god do they change everything.  If you are up for a fun activity (and seriously it is fun) use this recipe!  Any leftovers can be used in a most epic hot chocolate or for indoor s'mores.   

Makes 16 2-inch squares or 32 1- x 2-inch small bars

4 ounces (1/4 pound or 1 stick) unsalted butter, plus extra for the pan
1 10-ounce bag marshmallows
Heaping 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal (about half a 12-ounce box) - Can also use brown rice rice crispies 

Butter (or coat with non-stick spray) an 8-inch square cake pan with 2-inch sides.

In a large pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Don’t take your eyes off the pot as while you may be impatient for it to start browning, the period between the time the butter begins to take on color and the point where it burns is often less than a minute.

As soon as the butter takes on a nutty color, turn the heat off and stir in the marshmallows. The residual heat from the melted butter should be enough to melt them, but if it is not, turn it back on low until the marshmallows are smooth.

Remove the pot from the stove and stir in the salt and cereal together. Quickly spread into prepared pan. I liked to use a piece of waxed or parchment paper that I’ve sprayed with oil to press it firmly and evenly into the edges and corners, though a silicon spatula works almost as well.

Let cool and cut into squares.

Monday, February 8, 2016

leather chair.

I want to sit in this leather chair and read cookbooks and then ride my bike to the farmers market.

Très Bon Goût:

Image via Pinterest

Thursday, February 4, 2016

banana chocolate chip upside-down cake.

Look, when a recipe involves bananas nestled in brown sugar and paired with chocolate chips its going to be all of 5 seconds before my brain says "How soon can I make this?".  

I stumbled upon this gem while perusing David Lebovitz's blog.  I have the tendency to get lost in the rabbit hole that is the recipe archives on my favorite blogs and I'll emerge an hour later with a list about 20 recipes long of things I've convinced myself I need to have in my stomach RIGHT NOW. This landed at the top of the list mostly because I was dubious.  Can you have an utterly delicious cake that involves only 2 tablespoons of butter?  Is that even possible?  

The moral of the story is yes you can and that you should always trust David Lebovitz.  He knows his desserts and he knows how to make a really good dessert.  This is an impossibly addicting banana cake; moist, flavorful, and dense in that satisfying way banana cakes tend to be.   Studded with chocolate and layered with hints of caramel it's best suited for an afternoon snack or when just really need a pick-me-up because its been one of those days.    

Banana Chocolate Chip Upside-Down Cake

Recipe adapted slightly from David Lebovitz

Notes - I swapped 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour for oat flour because while banana and chocolate is good, banana, oats, and chocolate is even better (to me at least).  You can also replace another 1/2 cup of flour with spelt flour if you feel so inclined (I've been on a bit of a grains kick as of late) but using only all-purpose isn't a bad thing.   

I also doubled the chocolate.  Not sorry.   If you wanted to swap half the chocolate for toasted nuts (walnuts! pecans!) I would think that's a most excellent idea.  

One 8-inch (20 cm) cake

For the Topping

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons (60 g) packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
3-4 ripe medium bananas
a few drops of lemon juice

For the Cake

1 1/2 cups (210 g) flour (see notes above)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons (30 g) melted butter, salted or unsalted
2 large eggs
1 cup (250 g) banana puree (about 2 bananas)
1/2 cup (120 g) sour cream, regular or low-fat or buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (160 g) chocolate chips or chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate

To make the topping, place the brown sugar and water in an 8-inch (20 cm) cake pan. Warm the pan directly on the stovetop over low heat, stirring until the sugar is thoroughly moistened.

Simmer the mixture for about 45 seconds. Let cool to room temperature.

Peel and slice the bananas in 1/4-inch (1 cm) slices. Arrange them in slightly overlapping rows over the melted brown sugar. Sprinkle with a few drops of lemon juice.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl, making sure there are no lumps. Mix in the granulated sugar.

In a small bowl, mix together the butter, egg, egg white, banana puree, sour cream, and vanilla.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and stir in the wet ingredients until almost combined. Do not overmix. Gently fold in the chocolate pieces.

Scrape the batter into the pan over the bananas, then use a spatula to carefully spread the batter over the sliced fruit.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until the cake feels just set in the center when you touch it.

Cool the cake for about 20 minutes, then run a knife along the edges of the cake to help it release from the pan. Invert the cake onto a serving platter.

Serving: The cake is best served warm with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or by itself as a snack. If made an hour or so in advance, it can be inverted on the serving platter, and left with the cake pan over it, to keep it warm. Otherwise is can be rewarmed in a low over, covered with foil. Or enjoyed at room temperature.

Storage: The cake can be made up to two days in advance, although it is best the day it’s made. To freeze it, wrap it securely in plastic wrap; it can be frozen for one to two months.

Monday, February 1, 2016

chickpea stew with tomato, tumeric, yogurt, and harissa.

There are two types of soup people in this world.  The people who can eat a bowl and have that be a meal (me!) and the people who eat a bowl and then wonder where the rest of their meal is (most everyone else).  Soup is usually a starter or a side to a sandwich, it is rarely the main attraction.

This soup is more substantial then most which lends itself to being the center of a meal rather then a supporting role.  More of a stew then a soup, it's chock-full of chickpeas (a full pound!), greens, and more flavor then I thought was even possible in a vegetarian, bean based pot of deliciousness.  It also gets better with age which means making a pot ensures you dinner for the better part of a week.  

If you feel you can't serve it without a side of something, a hunk of good crusty, nutty bread wouldn't be a bad accoutrement (OK, and maybe a wedge of cheese).             

Chickpea Stew with Tomato, Turmeric, Yogurt and Harissa
Recipe from the Gjelina Cookbook

The original recipe says you get 4-6 servings out of this soup.  Unless you are feeding 300 pound men I think 6 - 8 servings is more realistic.

Serves 6 - 8

1 pound of dried chickpeas
1 yellow onion, quartered
1 carrot, peeled and quartered
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 bay leaf
4 fresh thyme sprigs
1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 teaspoon of coriander seeds
1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
3 carrots, peeled and cut into half moons
1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon of ground turmeric
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 cup of dry white wine
4 cups of vegetable stock
1 bunch Tuscan kale or swiss chard, stemmed and cut into strips (2 inches, 5cm wide)
1 teaspoon of red wine or sherry vinegar
1/4 cup of harissa
1/3 cup of spiced yogurt (see recipe below)

In a small, dry frying pan over medium heat, toast the coriander seeds and cumin seeds just until fragrant and beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool before grinding to a powder in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle.

For the chickpeas: In a large bowl, cover the chickpeas with water by 2 inches and soak overnight. Drain the chickpeas and rinse with cool water.

In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, combine the chickpeas, onion, carrot, garlic, bay leaf, and thyme. Add water to cover by about 2 inches. Season with a little salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer until the chickpeas are tender but still hold their shape, about 45 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Cool the chickpeas in the cooking liquid and then drain, discarding the liquid. Set the chickpeas aside.

In a small, dry frying pan over medium heat, toast the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and fennel seeds just until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Let cool. With a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder, grind to a powder.

In a clean, large soup pot over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add the carrots, onion, and garlic; season with salt and pepper; and cook until the vegetables begin to soften and brown slightly, about 5 minutes.

Add the powdered cumin mixture and the paprika, turmeric, thyme, and bay leaf and cook until quite fragrant, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, scraping the bottom of the pot frequently so that it does not burn, and cook until fragrant and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.

Add the wine, bring to a boil, and cook, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan until reduced by more than half, 2-3 minutes. Add the stock, discard the bay leaf, and return to a simmer.

In a blender, combine 1 cup of the soup base with 2 cups of the cooked chickpeas and purée until smooth. Return the puréed beans to the soup pot. Throw the kale into the stew and cook until softened. Add the remaining cooked chickpeas and gently stir. Remove from the heat and let stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

Just before serving, adjust the salt and spike with the vinegar. Serve with a dollop of spiced yogurt and a drizzle of harissa.

Spiced Yogurt
Recipe from the Gjelina Cookbook

¼ tsp of coriander seeds (or ground coriander)
¼ tsp of cumin seeds (or ground cumin)
1 cup of Greek-style yogurt
2 Tbsp of chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp of chopped fresh mint
2 Tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp white wine vinegar
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Kosher salt
3 Tbsp of water, or as needed

In a small, dry frying pan over medium heat, toast the coriander seeds and cumin seeds just until fragrant and beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool before grinding to a powder in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. (Omit this step if using ground spices.)

In a food processor, combine the yogurt with the ground coriander and cumin, cilantro, and mint. Process until the herbs are broken down and the yogurt is tinted green, about 5 seconds. Add the olive oil, vinegar, and lemon juice and pulse just until incorporated. Taste and season with salt. Stir in the water, a little bit at a time, stopping when the yogurt is still thick but thin enough to drizzle from a spoon.

Over time, the lemon juice can cause the yogurt to break and lose its creamy texture, so make just a small amount and use it right away.