Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dandelion Green Reprise

This is really just a variation on the theme of an earlier recipe, but I liked it even more than that one and thought it deserved its own post.

Olive oil
1 large shallot, sliced
Small handful golden raisins
1 bunch red-stemmed dandelion greens, cut crosswise into ribbons
1/4 cup chicken broth

Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the shallot and saute for a couple of minutes until soft, then add the raisins and cook for a minute more. Fold in the greens and saute, stirring, for another minute or so, then pour in the chicken broth. Stir once or twice, let simmer for a moment, then stir again and simmer until the excess liquid boils off and the greens are completely wilted. Serve hot.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Pappardelle with Mushrooms, Sausage, and Greens

Here is what you should do: Make these, and make this sauce, and toss them together, and eat them. This recipe was inspired by a dish at Lucca that I have been slightly obsessed with for the better part of a year. Now I am obsessed with this version as well. Use good quality Italian sausage for this -- there's only a little bit, but it flavors the whole dish, so you probably want something snazzier than a supermarket variety.

We made this using greens from our CSA box, including baby red mustard greens and nettles...which, two stings later (from preparing them, not eating them), I'm not sure I'd exactly actively seek out in the future for cooking myself. If you do use nettles, a pair of powder-free latex gloves is a lovely thing to have on hand...literally. Rinse the nettles, pick the leaves off the stems carefully, and then soak the leaves in slightly warm water for a few minutes. Drain, then cook. Cooking takes the sting out, and they taste wonderful. But this might be an ingredient best enjoyed at a restaurant when someone else is handling the food preparation. (Pizzaiolo, in Oakland, is still one of our favorite pizza places ever, and they will put nettles on your pizza. And you will, in turn, declare your undying love for their pizza oven. Or at least, we did.) You could use baby arugula, spinach, and/or amaranth greens here as well -- pretty much anything that doesn't require a long cooking time.

Multigrain pappardelle or fettuccine
1/3-1/2 pound mild Italian lamb sausage meat (or other sausage)
3/4 cups finely chopped shallot
2 cloves garlic, pressed
Slightly over 3/4 lbs crimini mushrooms, sliced
Slightly over 1/4 lbs shiitake mushrooms, sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp sherry
1/4 cup veggie broth
2-3 handfuls of greens, chopped
2 handfuls flat leaf parsley, chopped
Shaved Parmesan cheese

Bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil for the pasta.

Heat a bit of olive oil in a wide pan with deep sides over high heat. Add the sausage and brown lightly, breaking into pieces with a spatula. When the pieces are golden brown on one or two sides, push to the side of the pan and turn the heat down to medium. Add the shallot to the opposite side and stir, cooking, for about two more minutes until the shallot is soft. Add the garlic, stir once or twice, wait a moment, then add the mushrooms and mix everything together. Stir and cook, adding a couple pinches of salt and a liberal dousing of black pepper, until the mushrooms begin to soften and release their juices (you may have to sprinkle them with a little olive oil to get them going). Add the sherry, stir, and saute for a moment more. Next, add the greens and veggie broth and saute briefly until they wilt, then stir in most of the parsley (adjust amount to taste) and turn off the heat.

Meanwhile, add the pasta to the boiling pot of water, stir, and cover to bring back to a boil quickly. Boil for about 3 minutes (for pappardelle) or until al dente. Just before you drain it, remove a ladleful of water and reserve for the sauce.

Drain the noodles mostly but not completely, and then pour them into the pan with the sauce. Drizzle with a little olive oil, then toss gently to combine with the mushrooms, adding some extra pasta water if necessary.

Serve hot, with extra parsley and the shaved Parmesan sprinkled over.

Serves 3-4.

Pairs very, very well with Moshin Vineyard's current red blend, which is some sort of delightful Zin-meets-Syrah-with-a-splash-of-Pinot type of affair.

The Pasta Chronicles, Cont'd: Multigrain Pasta Dough

After several selfless attempts at perfecting a recipe for multigrain pasta dough, we finally hit upon a balance of ingredients last night that passed the delicious-enough-to-post threshold. [Update: This one is even better.] This should work for any noodle -- we've used versions of it for ravioli, pappardelle, and tagliolini, and the dough is elastic enough that it holds up to the thinner settings on the pasta machine without breaking. The elasticity seems to depend on the protein content (more protein = more elastic), which is something to keep in mind if you decide to tweak the recipe below: the quinoa and chickpea flours are fairly high in protein, so if you substitute whole wheat flour or another grain, you may need to increase the egg and/or milk to compensate. Conversely, if you increase the amount of high-protein grain flour, you could reduce or cut out the milk entirely.

3/4 cups stone ground whole wheat flour, plus extra for dusting
3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup quinoa flour
1/4 cup chickpea flour
1/4 tsp salt
Liberal dousing of freshly ground white or black pepper (optional)*
2 pastured eggs
2 tbsp olive oil
Scant 2 tbsp milk + 2 tbsp warm water

*White pepper complements winter squash recipes, and black pepper goes particularly well with lemon or basil. If you do use pepper, make sure you don't grind it too coarsely (big pieces can rip the dough as you get to the thinner pasta machine settings).

Combine the flours, salt, and pepper in a bowl.

Make a well in the middle and add the olive oil and eggs, then use a fork to begin blending the flour at the edge of the well into the center of the eggs. Add the water and milk slowly as you blend, and continue until it takes on a fairly uniform consistency. (You can do this on a cutting board instead, but the Household Kneader, after trying it both ways, says it's much easier in a bowl.)

Dust a cutting board and your hands with flour, then take the dough out of the bowl. Knead for about 10 minutes, dusting the board with additional flour as needed, until the dough is very elastic. Form a ball, then set in a lightly greased bowl and cover with saran wrap. Let rest for about 30 minutes.

To form the noodles, take a ball of dough about the size of your fist, dust very lightly with flour if it's sticky, and run it through the widest setting of your pasta machine. Fold in half, and repeat. Fold the ends in to create a rectangle, and run it through once more (the goal is to have a fairly rectangular sheet that's on the wide side). Adjust the pasta machine to the next setting, and run through again. Continue decreasing the width, one setting at a time, until you reach setting 7, laying the sheet of dough on a cutting board lightly dusted with flour once in the middle if necessary.

For cut noodles (e.g., fettuccine, tagliolini), hang the pasta sheets on a pasta tree to dry for about 20 minutes, then run each sheet through the pasta machine attachment of your choice.

For pappardelle:
After you finish rolling each sheet, lay it gently on the lightly-floured cutting board to cut the pappardelle noodles (a pastry cutter works well for this, or just use a paring knife). We made our noodles just under 3/4" wide, but you can make them whatever width you'd like (just don't forget that they expand quite a bit when you cook them).

To cook, bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pappardelle, stir, and cover to bring back to a boil quickly. Boil for 3 minutes or until al dente.

Serves 3-4 when making noodles. For ravioli, you probably only need half as much.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Risotto with Winter Squash, Bacon, and Sage

The brilliant thing about risotto, besides the obvious fact that cooking it involves one hand for stirring and leaves the other free to hold a glass of wine, is that it allows you to combine an irresponsibly large number of your favorite ingredients into a single dish. A single awesome, delicious, not-sure-I-actually-made-enough-for-both-of-us-tonight-honey sort of dish.

For instance. I love bacon. Love seems like too mild a word, but we'll go with it. And I love squash. Deeply love. And I've recently been on a southern greens kick. Especially when they're around bacon. And then there are assorted minor ingredients that I feel oddly passionate about, like sage and shallot and lemon zest.

So when I found all these things in my fridge tonight, I had a warm fuzzy feeling that good things were about to happen. 

We had baby red mustard greens from our produce box that I added just before the risotto was finished, but if you're using big-leafed greens, it's probably better to add them all earlier, which is what I wrote here. You should be able to substitute or add collard greens. Or throw in some baby arugula near the end...really anything with a little bit of a kick should work well.

2 cups veggie broth (new favorite: Imagine has a mere 9 ingredients, all recognizable, and comes in a low sodium version that avoids the whole wildly oversalted risotto thing)
Olive oil
Rounded 1/2 cup chopped shallot
1 cup Arborio rice
2 cups diced winter squash (heirloom or butternut)
White wine
Several big handfuls of turnip and mustard greens, sliced or chopped
1 tbsp sage that's been sliced crosswise into thin ribbons
2 strips Niman Ranch applewood smoked bacon (else pancetta), cut crosswise into strips
Zest of 1 lemon
Coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano

Heat broth in a small pot over medium heat until it simmers, then turn off heat and leave covered to keep warm.

In a large pot, heat a glug of olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and saute for several minutes until soft, then add the rice and squash and stir to coat evenly. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about three minutes (the mixture should start to smell fragrant and toasty). Add a ladleful of white wine and continue to cook, stirring, until the liquid has been absorbed. Start adding the broth, a ladleful at a time, stirring occasionally and allowing it to be absorbed each time before adding more. After the second ladleful of broth, add the greens to the rice, and continue cooking as before.

When the rice is almost tender, heat a small pan over medium high heat, add the bacon, and cook until lightly brown on all sides. Add the sage, stir once or twice, and turn off the heat. Drain most (but not all) of the excess bacon grease out of the pan.

When the rice is tender (which should be just about when all the broth has been added), toss in the lemon zest, pour in the bacon-sage mixture, and sprinkle liberally with freshly ground black pepper. Stir together, and turn off the heat. Add the parmesan, stir, and serve hot.

Serves 2-3.

Tip: If your risotto has to sit for awhile, because, for example, one person in your party was unavoidably detained at the hospital despite ASSURING you that he would be back momentarily, or because you put it in the fridge to have leftovers the next day, you can reconstitute it by adding a little bit of broth before reheating (it tends to dry out when it sits for too long, but perks back up with a little more broth).

Monday, January 17, 2011

Best Oatmeal Ever

The only thing that I have to say about this recipe is that it is oatmeal-hating-husband-approved, after eleven years of wrinkle-nosed reactions to anything remotely resembling porridge.

3/4 cups Bob's Red Mill steel cut oats, or slightly more
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup golden raisins
Marcona almonds, very coarsely chopped
Brown sugar
Freshly grated nutmeg

Heat a smallish pot over medium-high heat. Add the oats and toast, stirring or shaking the pan from time to time, for 3-4 minutes. Push the oats to the side of the pan, and add the olive oil to the other side to heat. Stir to coat the oats, and continue toasting for another couple of minutes until they smell fragrant and start to brown.

Add the water and milk, cover, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 13 minutes. Add the raisins, stir, and simmer for 2 minutes more. Uncover and continue to cook, stirring, until any excess liquid is evaporated and oats are just slightly wetter than desired texture. Turn off the heat, replace cover, and let sit for a couple of minutes.

Serve sprinkled with a little brown sugar, cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg, and Marcona almonds. (If you don't have Marcona almonds, you could toast sliced almonds and put them over the top, but the Marconas are worth finding, especially because their slight saltiness complements the sweetness of the brown sugar.)

Serves 2.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Black-Eyed Peas and Polenta

I suspect this would be even better with home-soaked beans (update: it totally is), but it worked just fine with canned and made for a lovely, hearty, comfort-foodish sort of meal.

We served them over polenta (you could substitute rice), and paired it with a mixture of turnip greens (left over from our yellow turnips earlier this week) and some gorgeous young collard greens from our co-op, using this recipe.

1 yellow onion, chopped
1 strip pastured smoked bacon, sliced crosswise into strips
1 Anaheim chili, chopped
1 jalapeno, minced
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 cans Eden Organic black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed (or sub 1 cup dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight in 4 cups water, then rinsed and drained)
1-2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup or more veggie broth
Salt and pepper
                                                            Small handful flat leaf parsley, chopped

Heat a little olive oil in a pot over medium heat, then add onion and saute for about three minutes. Push to the side of the pan, add the bacon, and allow to brown on one side (stirring the onion on its own side from time to time, as well). Mix together, add the peppers, and continue to cook until the onion is soft and golden. Stir in the garlic and cook for a minute more, stirring, then add the black-eyed peas and saute for 2-3 minutes more. Add the tomatoes, then the veggie broth (enough so that you can see it at the level of the beans). Cover partially, and let simmer for 10 minutes or until liquid is mostly evaporated, stirring occasionally (if you're using soaked dried beans, simmer for 25-40 minutes until beans are tender, and add a little water if it starts to get dry since the beans will absorb more of the liquid).

Uncover, season with salt, black pepper, and parsley to taste, and serve.

Serves 3-4.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Roasted Yellow Turnips and Red Carrots

We found yellow turnips and red carrots in our CSA box last week, and fell in love. Yellow turnips seem to be creamier and less bitter than their plain white cousins, and the red carrots were especially carroty and sweet. For this recipe, you want to end up with about equal parts carrot and turnip once sliced.

4-5 short, fat carrots, brushed and sliced
2-4 yellow turnips, peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced
Olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, pressed
Small handful flat leaf parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss the veggies with the olive oil and garlic in a baking dish or roasting pan sized so that the veggies are about an inch deep. Roast in the oven for 25-40 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned and soft. Season with parsley and salt to taste, stir, and serve.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Pasta Chronicles, Continued: Pappardelle with Leeks and Applewood Smoked Bacon

Closer, ever closer...we chucked the fava flour and tried quinoa flour in its place, to good effect. Still not perfect enough to post, though, so we clearly have to keep trying. Possibly for weeks, if not months. Possibly twice a day, for weeks, if not months. (Okay, we may be getting slightly addicted. This homemade pasta thing is kind of amazing.)

In the meantime, here's another good sauce -- this one for pappardelle, or fettuccine would probably work too....

1 medium leek, halved lengthwise, cleaned, and sliced (white and light green parts)
2 slices Niman Ranch Applewood Smoked Bacon, sliced crosswise into strips
1/2 bunch Russian kale, sliced crosswise
10-12 leaves fresh basil, chiffonade
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch or two Meyer lemon zest (optional)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 poached eggs

Cook bacon over medium-high heat in a wide pan with deep sides until it starts to brown lightly. Add the leeks and turn the heat down to medium. Fold in the kale and a pinch of salt, and saute for a few minutes until the kale wilts. Add the basil, stir for another moment or two, and season with salt and black pepper to taste. Add lemon zest if desired, and turn off the heat.

Fold in cooked pappardelle or linguini, toss to coat evenly, and serve hot, sprinkled lightly with Parmesan, with an egg on top.

Serves 2.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Simple Daikon and Carrot Salad

This is a snap to prepare, and the toasted sesame seeds give it a little zip. It goes well with fish, and was a quick and easy way to pair some plants with our takeout sushi earlier this week.

Carrots and daikon, in equal parts, peeled
Black sesame seeds

Toast sesame seeds in a pan over medium heat until fragrant, shaking the pan or stirring from time to time. Meanwhile, coarsely grate the carrot and daikon and toss together in a bowl. Top with sesame seeds, and serve.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Soft Set Eggs with Mushrooms and Greens

Lest anyone ever argue otherwise, let me assure you, as a self-declared Person Who Cooks Things, that there is absolutely nothing wrong with having breakfast for dinner. But if evening pancakes tend to bring with them an inevitable nudge of guilt, consider making this recipe the next time you find yourself craving Sunday morning on a Tuesday night. It tastes complex enough to feel like dinner, despite the basic eggy-something-over-bread theme, and it's absolutely delicious.

2 tbsp chopped yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
Assorted savory greens, chopped (e.g., 1/2 bunch Russian kale, 2-3 handfuls baby red mustard greens, 1/4 bunch dandelion greens)
1 medium leek, white and light green parts, halved lengthwise and sliced
Flavorful mushrooms, sliced
(e.g., a mix of Trumpet Royale, Clamshell, and Velvet Pioppini, or a mix of shiitake and crimini)
Small handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
3 pastured eggs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 slices fresh bread

Heat a glug of olive oil in a deep saute pan over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and saute for a few minutes until it starts to smell sweet. Next, add the garlic and saute for a minute or so until soft. Add the greens to the pan and toss to coat evenly. Saute, stirring, for 2-3 more minutes until the greens begin to wilt, then cover the pan and turn off the heat.

Meanwhile, heat a nonstick frying pan (14" is good) over medium heat. When hot, add a little olive oil, wait for a few moments, and then add the leeks and saute until soft. Add the mushrooms and saute, stirring and sprinkling with salt and pepper as they cook.

When the mushrooms soften and begin to release their juices, add most of the parsley (reserve a little for garnish), stir, then distribute the mushroom mixture evenly along the bottom of the pan. Working quickly, crack three eggs into the pan in different places, and immediately turn the heat down to low. Begin to gently stir the mushrooms into the white, leaving the yolks whole for a few moments as the eggs begin to set. After a minute or two, gently begin breaking the yolks, one at a time, and folding them into the mushroom mixture (you want to do this slowly and gently, folding often enough that the mushrooms get coated with some egg, but not so often that the eggs get scrambled -- at the end, you should still be able to see distinct yellow and white parts).

Serve in layers: Bread (or toast drizzled with just a little olive oil), then greens, then mushrooms on top, garnished with parsley.

Serves 2 for dinner.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

In Search of the Perfect Pasta

2011 brings with it, among other things, a gratifying spike of new subscribers (welcome!), a distinct lack of the stomach bug that stamped out any lingering culinary enthusiasm from 2010 (phew), and (are you ready?) a new, long-coveted, sleek and silver PASTA MACHINE. Thereby inevitably triggering the latest alliterative quest for whole-grain-infused Italian food.

Our first attempt at multigrain pasta dough was surprisingly uncatastrophic. But it turns out that fava flour, while beguiling in theory, tastes like fava. Strongly of fava. As in, thoroughly permeates your lovingly hand-crafted roasted squash ravioli even when used in very small quantities. But now we know, and, as G.I. Joe would say if he ever attended pasta parties, knowing is half the pasta dough battle.

In the meantime, though, the ravioli filling and sauce (loosely adapted from this recipe) were delectable enough to warrant posting, and will work with plain old egg-and-semolina pasta dough as well as with our yet-to-be-perfected multigrain blend. 

For the filling:
1 cup roasted squash puree (we used a papaya squash, which was wonderfully flavorful and made a very thick puree, but you could also use some other heirloom variety or butternut)
Olive oil
Pasture butter
3 tbsp minced shallot
Salt & freshly ground white pepper
Liberal sprinkling of freshly ground nutmeg
1 tbsp pastured cream

For the sauce:
Handful of freshly toasted walnuts, broken into pieces
Olive oil
1 clove garlic, pressed
6-10 sage leaves, chopped
Several handfuls baby red mustard greens, chopped
(or substitute a handful of regular mustard greens, finely chopped, and increase the spinach)
A handful of spinach, chopped
Handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
Freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano

Melt a small pat of butter and about 1/2 tbsp olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook for 2-4 minutes until soft and just translucent, then fold in the squash puree. Continue to saute for a couple minutes (or more, if the squash is on the wetter side -- you want the mixture to be relatively thick). Stir in the cream, sprinkle with salt, white pepper, and nutmeg to taste, and set aside to cool.

Dust your pasta machine and a wooden cutting board with a little bit of flour. Take the pasta dough and break off a piece about the size of a fist (my husband pointed out that it was the size of my fist, not his, so envision a petite female fist as you do this if you're a towering giant like him), and feed it through the thickest setting of your pasta machine (Setting 1). Fold it in half, and repeat a few times (the goal is to make this starting piece kind of wide and rectangular, rather than long and skinny). Then, feed it through again on Setting 2, and continue working your way up the numbers until you reach Setting 7. (Note that it's much easier to do this with two people, so that one person can feed it in and turn the crank while the other guides it back out again). Hang each sheet on a pasta tree (or "pasta rack," if you prefer, which I don't) to dry a little as you prepare the rest.

Cut each sheet into rectangles of desired size (a pastry cutter works well here, or just a table knife, and ours were about 3.5" x 4.5"). Set the rectangle so that the shorter side is closest to you (make sure the surface beneath it has been lightly dusted with flour). Place a spoonful of filling at the center of the rectangle, and fold in half by bringing the furthest side to meet the closest side. Press those two sides together firmly to seal, then press to seal the right and left edges, moving inward until the filling in the center is well-defined. Trim the edges with a pastry cutter, if desired, or pinch to form a wonton shape.

For the sauce, heat a glug or two of olive oil in a deep saute pan over medium heat for about 30 seconds, and add in the garlic. Saute for a minute or two until it softens, then add the sage and stir a few times. Next, add the greens and saute until just wilted. Season with salt and white pepper to taste, and turn off the heat.

Drop pasta into rapidly boiling water and cook for 2-4 minutes until the pasta changes color (if you're not sure, fish one out, rinse it gently with a little cold water, and take a bite). Drain, then add to the pan with the sauce. Drizzle with a little olive oil, add the walnuts, and toss everything together. Serve topped with freshly grated Parmesan and parsley.

Serves 2-3.