Sunday, January 29, 2012

Eggs and Lox with Lemon-Garlic Chard

A quick and easy picnic on a plate for nights when you're home late and hungry.

Ingredients (per person)
Fresh chard, sliced into ribbons
1 small clove garlic, smashed
Meyer lemon
1 pastured egg
Olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
Fresh chives, snipped
Nora pepper
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 oz wild smoked salmon
1 slice whole grain bread, toasted, or whole-grain crackers
Thinly sliced radish or daikon

Saute the garlic in a little olive oil over medium-low heat until it starts to soften, then add the chard and stir to combine. Sprinkle with a pinch or two of salt, turn the heat up to medium, and saute until the chard begins to wilt. Cover and steam until tender (about 3-5 minutes). Squeeze liberally with lemon juice to taste, sprinkle with black pepper, and turn off the heat.

Meanwhile, heat a glug of olive oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the shallot and saute until it softens. Reduce heat to medium low and crack each egg into the pan. Stir gently to combine with the shallot (the idea is to end up with distinct yellow and white parts, rather than scrambling the egg entirely -- an especially delicious trick when you have a real pastured egg with an intensely yellow yolk). Sprinkle to taste with salt, black pepper, nora pepper, and a few snips of chives. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, then serve with chives snipped over the top.

Serve chard and egg alongside a few slices of smoked salmon, radish, and crackers or toast. Goes particularly well with ak-mak stone-ground whole wheat crackers.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Red Rice and Black Beans with Peppers and Cilantro

There are few things as simple, hearty, inexpensive, and roundly delicious as rice and beans. Here's one of our favorite versions yet.

For the rice:
Combine 1 cup red Bhutanese rice and just barely under 1 1/4 cups water in a pot and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes. (You can substitute brown rice, but red is worth seeking out if you haven't tried it before.)

For the beans:
1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
1 green bell or Anaheim pepper, chopped
Olive oil
1 can black beans
Handful cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup grated pepper jack cheese (Petaluma Creamery is still our all-time favorite)

Saute onion in a wide saute pan until translucent, then add peppers and continue sauteing until onion begins to lightly brown around the edges (more cooking brings out more flavor). Add the beans and salt to taste (unless beans are already highly salted) and stir. Turn down heat to low or very low and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes.

Serve in layers: rice, a sprinkling of cheese, beans, a sprinkling of cilantro, and the rest of the cheese over the top.

Serves 2.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cumin Ginger Carrots

Easy, delicious, and one of those delightful dishes that somehow tastes better when you accidentally forget about and overcook it for a few minutes.

1 bunch carrots, sliced at an angle
A few slices ginger, julienned
Cumin seeds
Olive oil
Splash chicken or veggie broth

Set a frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add a glug of olive oil and wait a few seconds to let it heat through. Add the ginger and a couple pinches of cumin seeds, and saute in the oil for about 30 seconds. Add the carrots and a pinch or two of salt, and saute, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 minutes.

Add a splash of broth, stir once, and cover. Turn the heat down to medium-low and let steam for a few minutes until desired tenderness (poke with a fork to see how soft they are). They're good al dente or accidentally overdone (my favorite, because they get all caramelized and delicious that way).

Serves 2-4.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ginger Tea with Lemon Verbena and Honey

We're pretty sure this tea is magic. It keeps colds at bay if you're well and calms even the most tenacious lingering cough if you're not, resets a lost voice after a long first week of lecturing, helps hangovers, warms thoughts and fingertips, and cures winter blues in a heartbeat.

Plus, it's delicious.

A few slices fresh ginger
10-15 dried lemon verbena leaves (or sub about twice as many fresh)
1 2-inch sprig fresh thyme
1 tsp honey

Add about 4 cups boiling water, brew for at least 8 minutes, and enjoy. (You can try a sip after about 5, if you'd like, and adjust any and all ingredients to taste. I didn't quite get the point of homemade tea until we started blending things like this. Even tea skeptics seem to like it.)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Opah with Coconut, Ginger, and Cilantro

Consider the impeccable timing: just weeks before our long-awaited Kaua'i trip, I fall deeply, obsessively, madly in love with fish. The result? A delightfully fish-filled vacation, brimming with everything from fresh ahi poke to a panoply of new (for us) fish discoveries primarily involving the letter O—ono fish wraps from the Kilauea fish market, sauteed opakapaka with garlic and scallions; succulent opah simmered in a mouthwatering medley of coconut milk, ginger, and cilantro.

Speaking of which, if you can find opah (also called moonfish, and sometimes available at the Sacramento Co-op and no doubt other west coast fish markets at least), make this. If you can't, find a substitute fish (thick enough to be cooked for a little while, relatively firm, buttery flavor) and make it anyway. And if you can snag ripe mango or papaya, try combining a bite with the fish, closing your eyes, and enjoying your taste buds' tropical vacation.

2 thick opah fillets (or one that you cut in half later; we used one .6 lb fillet for two people)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
1 1/4 tsp grated ginger
Small handful cilantro, coarsely chopped
1/3 can light coconut milk
4 baby bok choy, sliced crosswise (or sub tatsoi)
1 ripe mango or papaya, sliced (optional)
Black Forbidden rice (or sub brown rice)
1 medium shallot, chopped

Rinse a cup of black rice and let drain. Saute the shallot in a little olive oil until soft, the add the rice and saute for another minute or so. Stir in 1 cup of water, cover, bring to a boil, and turn the heat down to low. Simmer 25 minutes or until the water is absorbed and the rice tender. (If substituting brown rice, adjust liquid and cooking time accordingly.)

Meanwhile, heat a glug of olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Stir-fry the bok choy with a pinch of salt and a pinch of grated ginger until just tender (we like it when some of the pieces brown a little, too). Set aside.

Sprinkle the fish on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. When hot, add a little olive oil and swirl to coat. Add the fish, shake the pan to prevent it from sticking, and then pan fry until golden on both sides. Add the coconut milk, the rest of the ginger, a pinch of salt, and the cilantro, and the bok choy. Turn the heat down a bit to simmer gently until the fish is just barely cooked through (here's why I like using one fillet for two people: it gives you an excuse to cut the fish in half at this point and check whether it's almost done). Turn off the heat just before the fish is cooked to your liking -- it will keep cooking a little on your plate, as well.

Serve the fish on a bed of black rice. Spoon the bok choy and coconut sauce over the top of both, and garnish with fresh mango or papaya and a sprig of cilantro.

Serves 2.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

Happy 2012, from our kitchen to yours!

They say black-eyed peas bring good luck in the new year. We say bacon is delicious. The end result, dinner-wise, is happily the same.

(Recipes from here and here, in case you want some lucky bacon in your new year, too.)