Monthly Archives: February 2013

Everybody hates leftovers

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Photography by Sam Armocido

Gone are the days of meatloaf Mondays, canned corn Tuesdays, green bean wednesdays and mashed potato Thursdays building to Shepherd’s pie Fridays. Yet, in today’s time and budget-starved world, more and more people cook Sunday for the whole week. Even as we portion meals into plastic containers, we are guilt-filled with the knowledge that by Thursday our meals will remain untouched in the office fridge as we head to the closest food truck rally.

Thinner waists and fatter wallets – casualties of boring leftovers – were the inspiration for these two dishes. We used the same ingredients – chicken, cauliflower and spinach –  in two distinctly different dishes. They are simple enough to prepare in one night, delicious enough to hold our attention throughout the week, and the ingredients are cheap.

Yum! Pass me the leftovers.

Smokey Tomato Chicken, Cauliflower and Spinach

Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 tbs olive oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1” cubes – about 1.5 lbs
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 2 tbs Spanish paprika, or Hot Hungarian paprika
  • 2 tbs Roasted Red Pepper Blackberry vinegar to deglaze the pan*
  • 1 28oz can of San Marzano tomatoes, puréed
  • ½ head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 tsp Dark Chocolate Balsamic vinegar*
  • 1 bunch spinach, stemmed, about 4 cups loose

*Supermarket solutions: You can order these online from Sapore or sub sherry vinegar for Roasted Red Pepper Blackberry and a 25 year balsamic for the Dark Chocolate Balsamic.

Directions:

  • Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat (use a pan you have a cover for). Add chicken and brown on all sides. Remove chicken and reserve.
  • Add an additional tablespoon oil if the pan is dry, reduce heat to medium and add onions. Sauté until softened, 4-6 minutes.
  • Stir tomato paste and paprika into onions and cook for one minute, until fragrant.
  • Add tomatoes to pan, stir together with other ingredients and simmer for five minutes.
  • Add cauliflower and cook for 10 minutes. Add chicken and cook until cauliflower is tender but still firm. Another 10 minutes or so.
  • Stir through Dark Chocolate Balsamic vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Add spinach to pan, cover and remove dish from heat. Leave for 10 minutes until spinach is wilted.
  • Stir spinach through, check seasoning and serve.

Curried Chicken, Cauliflower and Spinach

This spice list may seem a bit daunting. Most of these are available at your local supermarket. See everyday substitutions below.

Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 tbs olive oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1” cubes – about 1.5 lbs
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tbs mustard seed
  • 2 tbs cumin seed
  • 1 tbs turmeric
  • 1 tbs asafetida*
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbs ground coriander
  • 1 ½ cups chicken stock
  • ½ head cauliflower , cut into florets
  • 1 tsp fenugreek*
  • 1 bunch spinach, stemmed, about 4 cups loose
  • ¼ tsp mango amchoor*

Supermarket solutions: Asafetida adds depth and could be replaced by leeks cooked with the onion. Fenugreek offers the herbal notes of dried oregano with the floral notes of coriander. Mango amchoor ads acidity. A splash of sherry vinegar can replace it.

Directions:

  • Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat (use a pan you have a cover for). Add chicken and brown on all sides. Remove chicken and reserve.
  • Add an additional tablespoon oil if the pan is dry, reduce heat to medium and add onions. Sauté until softened, 4-6 minutes.
  • Add mustard and cumin seeds, and toast until mustard seeds begin to pop.
  • Add turmeric, asafetida, cinnamon and coriander and cook for one minute until fragrant.
  • Add stock to pan, and bring to a boil, scraping up the brown bits.
  • Add cauliflower and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Add chicken and fenugreek and cook until cauliflower is tender but still firm. Another 10 minutes or so.
  • Add spinach to pan, cover and remove dish from heat. Leave for 10 minutes until spinach is wilted.
  • Stir spinach through, season to taste with salt, pepper and mango amchoor, and serve.

I ❤ Jason.

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Jonathan and JasonThree years ago I woke up on Valentine’s Day, a Sunday, and grabbed my copy of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which had spent the better part of a year next to my bedside. Deciding it was high time I learned to make a soufflé, I turned to the chapter on entrées and luncheon dishes.

This recipe is a shining example of Julia’s genius as a teacher and a writer. She breaks it down into three parts – sauce, flavor base and egg whites for leavening – that make soufflés not only simple, but easy to remember. Julia also praises the value of a copper bowl for whisking egg whites, which, she claims, increases the volume by a third.

I dressed and headed to the kitchen while Jason showered. When he came down to the breakfast table he found not only a beautiful, puffy, golden soufflé, but a vase filled with hand-arranged, white flowers.

Jason handed me a folded piece of paper. It unfolded to reveal an order receipt for a copper whisking bowl. I fell in love all over again.*

*With Jason. Not the bowl.

Julia Child’s Soufflé Recipe

That morning my first soufflé was flavored with Manchego cheese and jamón Serrano, both Spanish, that we had in the cheese drawer. Here is the recipe below, adapted from Julia Child. Forget all of your fears, soufflés are really quite simple. I have never had one fall in the oven, and entertain of brings lots of big boys stomping around our kitchen. By your second soufflé you’ll have it in the oven within 25 minutes, and served, with a vinaigrette-dressed salad, within an hour.

SouffléIngredients:

  • 3 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, unbleached
  • 1 cup milk, whole
  • White pepper
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Nutmeg
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup grated Manchego cheese*
  • 1/2 cup diced jamón Serrano*

*You can substitute about 1 cup of cheese and just about anything else you want. Try bacon, sautéed mushrooms, fresh corn, smoked or cooked salmon etc…

Directions:

  • Heat your oven to 400 degrees.
  • Butter the inside of a 2 qt soufflé dish. Add grated parmesan and turn dish to coat, reserving extra cheese.
  • Make the béchamel sauce. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add flour and stir 2-3 minutes being careful not to brown the roux. You are cooking the raw flavor out of the flour. When ready, it will smell pleasantly sharp.
  • Off the heat, add the milk all at once and whisk vigorously to avoid lumps.
  • Return the sauce to the pan and cook for 3-5 minutes until it thickens. The sauce will be very thick. Season to taste with salt, white pepper and a pinch each of cayenne pepper and nutmeg.
  • Stir the egg yolks, one at a time, into the sauce.
  • Next whisk the egg whites, in a copper bowl if you have one, or a freshly cleaned bowl, until they support their own weight on the whisk.
  • In a large bowl, stir together the béchamel sauce with the cheese and jamón. Stir in 1/4 of the stiff egg whites. This lightens the mixture so you lose less volume folding in the remaining three quarters of the egg white.
  • Gently fold in the remaining three quarters of the egg white, until only a few white streaks remain. Transfer the mixture to the prepared soufflé dish, smooth out the top with an offset spatula (or the rubber one that’s already dirty from folding) and sprinkle the top with the remaining Parmesan cheese.
  • Bake for 25 minutes. Do not open the oven for the first 20 or so. the soufflé is done when the top is golden brown and moves slightly in the middle when shaken. I prefer mine still wet in the center. Serve immediately. Warn your guests ahead of time.

Strange chocolate.

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IMG_3406If you need someone to blame, then it is my Mom’s fault. For most of my teenage years, we would tackle Bon Appetit’s ridiculously complicated Valentine’s Day dessert together. This recipe taught me several important life skills including the proper pronunciation of framboise and Grand Marnier, and that, though still underage, if you cook with a new alcohol, it is easy to convince otherwise responsible adults that you needed to taste it.

More importantly, it taught me to enter the kitchen without fear, to fail boldly, and that if it meant eight hours together with someone special, your day was a complete success.

Unlike the glazed strawberry tarts with crème patissiere and spun sugar, or the aforementioned white and dark chocolate, marbled heart, this recipe is a snap. You have to wait 20 minutes for the cream to steep with the vanilla bean, and make sure not to scramble the egg yolks.

Chocolate Pasta + Crème Anglaise

Ingredients:

  • 1.25 cups cream
  • 1 whole vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise and seeds scraped out
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 large-egg yolks
  • 1.5 cups raspberries
  • 1.5 tsp Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar*
  • 8oz chocolate pasta*

Simple Substitutions: You can use a thick, syrupy, 25-year balsamic and a tablespoon of dark, bittersweet chocolate shavings instead of the vinegar. No pasta? Grab some fresh berries, or just eat the sauce with a spoon. We won’t tell.

Directions:

  • Warm cream to a simmer over medium heat. Add bean and seeds to cream. Turn off heat, cover and steep for 20 minutes.
  • Strain cream and return to heat with sugar. Return to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar.
  • Add cream slowly to egg yolks. Return to med heat. Stir until sauce coats the back of a wooden spoon.
  • Crush 5-6 raspberries in a bowl. Strain sauce into bowl. Add vinegar.
  • Cook pasta until al dente. Strain and return to pot with sauce. Cook an additional 5 minutes over low heat. Stir often.
  • Cool to room temp over a bowl of ice water and serve topped with berries.