Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Quick Refrigerator Pickles: Szechuan Green Beans

The green beans have been quite prolific this year. We have a couple of pounds in the freezer and a couple of pounds in the refrigerator. This is the year I plan to experiment with more food-preserving techniques, so last year, I purchased “Put ’em Up!: A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook, from Drying and Freezing to Canning and Pickling.” It’s full of wonderful ideas for enjoying fresh garden produce now and later.

Szechuan Pickled Green Beans
Szechuan Pickled Green Beans

This refrigerator-pickle recipe for Szechuan Green Beans intrigued me because it’s so simple. It doesn’t involve the scary-seeming boiling-water method that is generally used for canning vegetables for the relatively long term – a few months to a year. This recipe just requires covering blanched beans with a seasoned vinegary brine and keeping it in the fridge. It will last for a month and the flavor deepens every day. Yum.

Szechuan Green Beans

  • 1 pound green beans, washed, topped, and tailed
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns, preferably Szechuan
  • 1 (1-inch) knob ginger, sliced into coins
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced

Line several baking sheets with dish towels and set aside. Prepare an ice-water bath in a large bowl or clean sink.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop the beans into the water, no more than 1 pound at a time, and return to a boil. Blanch for 1 minute.

Scoop the beans out with a spider or slotted spoon and plunge them into the ice-water bath. Continue blanching in batches. Remove the beans from the ice bath with a slotted spoon and spread on the towel-covered baking sheets. Blot dry.

To make the pickles, pack the beans vertically in a quart jar.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a medium nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 minute. Pour the hot brine over the beans to cover by 1/2 inch. Leave 1/2 inch of headspace between the top of the liquid and the lid.

Refrigerate: Cool, cover, and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

Szechuan Pickled Green Beans with Quiche and Tomatoes

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A Mexican Feast

Last week, Dan and I prepared a Mexican feast for 26 teachers during the annual capstone event for the graduate professional development class he teaches along with colleagues Dan B. and Richard.

I was so busy making sure everything was done and we hadn’t forgotten anything that I forgot to take pictures of everything when we were done with each dish. But here are a few to accompany the recipes we used.

Appetizers, all by Rick Bayless, served with toasted sliced baguette and tortilla chips

Fire-Roasted Tomato Salsa Prep
Prep for Fire-Roasted Tomato Salsa

Dinner

Ingredients for mole sauce
Mole ingredients

Corn tamales with chicken or cheese
Corn tamales stuffed with chicken (left) or cheese right)

Dessert was a trifle layered with cubed angel-food cake, lemon pudding and fresh strawberries, blackberries and raspberries. I tried making a tres leches cake for this, but it was flat and heavy, so I went with store-bought angel food.

Lessons Learned

  • When making tamales, test the batter by checking to see whether a handful sticks to itself; if not, it’s too wet, so add a bit more corn flour
  • I need a Kitchen Aid mixer if I’m going to try a tres leches cake; I didn’t fluff up the butter enough, so the cake was short and heavy rather than tall and light
  • When I’m cooking for a crowd, delegate the camera work to someone else!
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A delicious one-pot meal: Paella

A few years ago, my mother-in-law gave me for Christmas a wonderful gift for a foodie like me – a paella kit. It included a paella pan, Spanish rice and olive oil, and some saffron.

Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, because harvesting it is so labor-intensive. Saffron threads are the stamens of a variety of crocus. There are three stamens per flower and each must be picked individually by hand. It has a delicate flavor; liquids are generally infused with saffron and then used in recipes.

Paella is a classic Spanish dish of saffron-flavored rice with seafood, chicken and sometimes chorizo, or Spanish sausage. I made this dish for a dinner party and it was a big hit. Serve with a nice green salad and a vinaigrette made with sherry vinegar.

Seafood, Chicken and Chorizo Paella

Ultimate Paella with Seafood, Chicken and Chorizo

The term comes from the Latin patella, a flat plate on which offerings were made to the gods. The prepared dish is placed in the middle of the dining table, as it is traditionally eaten straight from the pan.

1/2 tsp. sweet paprika (preferably Spanish smoked paprika)
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. kosher salt
3 chicken thighs, cut in half
5 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Spanish chorizo sausage, thickly sliced (about ½ cup)
1/3 cup coarsely chopped roasted red peppers
1/2 cup Spanish onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped (reserve some for garnish)
2 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
3 cups short-grain Spanish rice, preferably Calasparra
5 1/2 cups strong chicken broth
Generous pinch saffron threads (about 1/2 tsp.)
1 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
1 dozen mussels, scrubbed
1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 lemons, cut into wedges

Combine paprika, oregano and salt. Rub spice mixture all over the chicken, cover and refrigerate for one hour. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325*.

Warm chicken broth in a saucepan to just below a simmer. Crush saffron slightly and stir into broth; keep warm.

Heat the oil in a 14-inch paella pan or large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the chorizo until lightly browned; remove from pan and set aside. Add chicken skin-side down and brown well on all sides; remove from pan and set aside. Sauté onions in the same pan; when the onions start to brown, add red peppers, garlic and half of parsley. Cook for 3 minutes over medium heat. Add tomatoes; cook until mixture caramelizes a bit, stirring occasionally.

Fold in the rice and stir-fry to coat the grains with the onion mixture. Pour in the chicken broth and stir gently to loosen browned bits from the bottom of the pan. The broth will almost fill the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring the mixture a couple of times.

Press the clams into the rice. Simmer for 5 minutes more, occasionally moving the pan on top of the flame so the rice cooks evenly and starts to absorb the liquid. You should still have a lot of liquid in the pan.

Press the chicken (with any accumulated juices), chorizo, mussels and shrimp into the rice. Place the pan into the oven and bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven. Place the pan on the stovetop and sprinkle with peas and parsley. Cover with foil and let rest, covered, for 10 minutes. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve.

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Favorite new candy: French Chocolate Bark

I printed out this recipe last year, but this year I finally made chocolate bark for the first time and OMG was it good. It was amazingly easy to make, beautiful to look at, and GOOD FOR YOU! Dark chocolate, dried fruit, and cashew nuts – what could be better? It was popular with everyone I shared it with.

French Chocolate Bark

Barefood Contessa’s French Chocolate Bark

8 oz. dark chocolate chips (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
8 oz. milk chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup cashew pieces

Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Draw a 10″x14″ rectangle on the paper; turn the paper over so the drawing side is down and set aside.

Place a stainless steel bowl over a medium saucepan containing 1 inch of simmering water. Place chocolate chips in the steel bowl and stir till completely melted. Use a spatula to scrape the melted chocolate onto the parchment paper and spread out until the rectangle is covered. Sprinkle the fruit and nuts over the chocolate and press lightly to adhere.

Set aside in a cool place for 2 hours (or in the freezer for 10 minutes) to harden. Cut into 1″x2″ pieces.

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Hard-Cider Pork Chops

I saw this recipe a couple of years ago on Nigella Lawson‘s TV show Nigella Feasts (although I changed the name, since I like the cider part better) and have wanted to try it ever since.

I finally found hard cider (fermented apple juice) at Angry Adam’s, our local wine and cheese (and other yummy stuff) shop. So I was finally able to try it, and it was delicious and very easy. And the hard cider is great on its own.

Hard-Cider Pork Chops
2 pork chops
salt & pepper
2 tsp. oil
1/2 cup hard cider
1 tbsp. grainy mustard
1/3 cup heavy cream

Sprinkle chops on both sides with salt and pepper to taste. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat, then add the oil. Swirl the oil around, then add the pork chops and sear until well-browned on both sides. Remove chops to a plate, cover with foil, and keep warm.

Add the cider to the pan and use a wooden spatula to scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Boil for a minute, then whisk in mustard and cream. Simmer a few minutes to reduce a bit. Place pork chops on serving plates and pour cider sauce over.

Hard-cider Pork Chops

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GYO: Shrimp Bun – Vietnamese-style Rice Noodle Salad

Grow Your Own Food Blogging EventSome friends introduced me to Vietnamese cooking a few years ago, at the restaurant Great Saigon on Virginia Beach Blvd. in Janaf Mall. One of my favorite meals to get there is bun, or meat served over salad and rice noodles with a hot, sweet, salty and sour sauce or dressing.

I decided to try making it at home by combining a recipe I found at myrecipes.com with one from the cookbook The Best International Recipe by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated magazine. It’s a bit more work than I want to do on a weeknight, but next time, I’ll mix up the dressing ahead of time and maybe skip the shallots.

This is my contribution to the food blogging event Grow Your Own, originated by Andrea of Andrea’s Recipes, which celebrates raising and cooking our own fresh food. The lemongrass, mint and chiles in this recipe came from my garden. We had a huge crop of hot chiles last year, and I still have some in the freezer.

Here’s a tip: To preserve whole hot chiles, place them on a cookie sheet and put it in the freezer. Freeze until fully frozen, then remove to a zipper-lock bag and keep in the freezer. When ready to use, remove the number of chiles needed from the bag and let thaw on a plate on the counter. This will take about 10 minutes, depending on the size of the chile. Trust me, they maintain their hotness 🙂

Shrimp Bun – Korean-style Rice Noodle Salad

Ingredients – serves 4

Shrimp
2 tbsp. fish sauce
2 tbsp. canola or peanut oil
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 lb. peeled and deveined large or extra-large shrimp
2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and crushed with the side of a knife

Dressing
1/3 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup warm water
3 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
2 fresh hot chiles, minced
1 clove garlic, minced

Shallots
1/8 cup canola or peanut oil
1/2 shallot, julienned
salt to taste

Salad
2 carrots, or 6 baby carrots, peeled and shredded
1/2 cucumber, peeled and julienned (cut into matchstick shapes)
4 oz. dried rice noodles
2 cups lettuce, any kind, cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup fresh basil, cut into chiffonade (ribbons)
1/4 cup fresh mint, cut into chiffonade (ribbons)
1 cup bean sprouts
1 cup chopped peanuts

Preparation

SHRIMP: Combine shrimp with marinade ingredients; seal in a zipper-lock bag, place in a leak-proof container, and refrigerate for 1 hour, turning occasionally.

DRESSING: Whisk dressing ingredients in a medium bowl until sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

SHALLOTS: Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and cook for 5 minutes, until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Strain shallots through a sieve into a small bowl; reserve oil. Place fried shallots on a paper-towel-lined plate to drain, and set aside.

SALAD: Place rice noodles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand 20 minutes, then drain. Combine the noodles with the shallot oil, 1/4 of the lettuce, and 1/2 of the bean sprouts, carrots and cucumber, tossing well.

Pre-heat grill or grill pan. Remove shrimp from bag and discard marinade. Grill shrimp 2-1/2 minutes per side, till completely opaque. Place 1/4 of the noodle mixture in each of 4 bowls. Top each serving with 1/4 of the shrimp and 2 tbsp. of the dressing. Pile 1/4 of each of the remaining ingredients around the rim of the bowls and top with 1/4 of the fried shallots. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and serve.

Grow Your Own: Vietnamese Shrimp-Noodle Salad (Bun)

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