Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Seafood Paella

One of the best Christmas presents Jason received (and I'm not just saying that because I gave it to him) was a paella pan!  We also gave our good friend with whom we cook quite a bit a paella pan and rice of her own.  So it was fitting that last week we had our inaugural paella making party.  Ironically, the evening we purchased the paella pan, we caught an episode of Avec Eric on Hulu where Eric Ripert prepared a simple seafood paella in his home.  We used his recipe as the primary inspiration for our own, with the omission of the fish filets and slightly less saffron (I think professional chefs have easier access to this exotic spice than us mere mortals!).

On a side note, I have become a great fan of Eric Ripert.  His show, Avec Eric, is a delight to watch as he visits chefs and friends in locations all over the world, gives us a glimpse into the inner workings of the kitchen at Le Bernardin, and then prepares a simple (for Eric Ripert) and always beautiful dish for us in his own kitchen.  Most of all, he seems like a lovely, thoughtful and creative person.  The show is on PBS, but we watch episodes on Hulu. 

The quantities listed in this recipe are perfect for a 12 inch paella pan.


1 chorizo link, sliced into 1/4 inches
2/3 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves chopped
1 pinch saffron
2/3 tsp turmeric
2 cups short grain rice
5 cups chicken stock (approximately)
1 cup frozen green peas
12 large peeled and deveined shrimp
12 mussles
12 cockles
1 roasted red pepper sliced
1/4 cup parsley
lemon wedges

--Place the 12 inch paella pan on the stove on medium heat

--Add a little olive oil and cook the chorizo

--Add the onion, garlic, saffron and turmeric and cook until onions are just softened

--Add the rice and stir to coat the rice for about 3 minutes

--Add a cup or so of chicken stock to the rice and stir.  Continue cooking for about 15 minutes, adding stock as needed to get the rice cooked

--When the rice seems to be getting close stir in the peas then nestle the shrimp tail up in the rice and cook for about 5 minutes

--Place the mussels and cockels hinge side down in the rice so they can easily open and lay the pepper slices around the pan like spokes

--Cook for another 4 minutes or so until the mussels and cockles open

--Sprinkle with the parsley and serve with lemon wedges

Monday, December 27, 2010

Palak Tofu

Along with the Coconut Red Lentil Soup I decided to try out a tofu version of Palak Paneer.  Normally made with cheese "paneer" the dish consist of a spiced spinach and yogurt base which is pureed and dotted with the cheese cubes.  Here I substituted tofu for the cheese.  I would  have liked the dish a little sweeter and next time might actually add a dash of sugar to the spice mix.


1/2 package of firm or extra firm tofu, sliced into 1 inch cubes
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large clove garlic
1 tsp ginger
1/2 Tbsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/3 cup fat free yogurt
3 Tbsp water

--In a pan saute the tofu in 1 Tbsp olive oil until it is browned and lightly crisp, then set aside

--In a second pan, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil and add the spices and water, stirring until the spices dissolve, then stir in the yogurt

--Add the spinach to the yogurt sauce and stir to cover until the spinach is wilted.

--Add the mixture to a food processor and process until smooth

--return the spinach mixture to a skillet and heat through with the tofu

Coconut Red Lentil Soup

I've been a little soup crazy and adapted yet another recipe from 101 Cookbooks.  I wanted to use much of what I had on hand which included red lentils, fresh ginger and golden raisins plus some of the staples including curry which I've been using much more of recently.  I thought the soup came out fantastically.  I would perhaps use a hotter curry or add a little chili pepper to add a dash more heat but we have been enjoying the soup for days.


1 cup red lentils
1 cup green lentils (or yellow split peas)
7 cups water
1 carrot diced
2 Tbsp fresh peeled and minced ginger
2 Tbsp curry powder
2 Tbsp butter
8 green onions sliced thinly
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 14-oz can coconut milk
2 tsp salt
chopped cilantro

--Rinse the lentils

--Put lentils in a large stock pot, add the water and bring to a boil.

--Reduce to a simmer, add the carrot and 1/4 of the ginger and simmer until the green lentils are soft

--Meanwhile, in a small dry sauce pan, toast the curry powder lightly and set aside

--Heat butter in a pan over medium heat and add half the green onions, the ginger and raisins and cook for about 3 minutes while stirring

--Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes

--Add the toasted curry powder to the lan, mix and add all of this to the soup along with the coconut milk and salt

--Simmer for another 20 minutes or so, until the flavors meld nicely

--Serve sprinkled with green onions and cilantro

Friday, December 24, 2010

Roasted Pork Loin with Pickled Raisins

Another recipe from the Food & Wine entire year of recipes 2006.  The original called for a veal loin but we didn't know how well that would go over with the group so instead we used 2 - 3lb pork loins.


2 Tbsp rosemary leaves plus 3 sprigs broken into 3-inch pieces
2 Tbsp thyme leaves, plus 8 sprigs
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Two 3-pound pork loins
Salt and fresh ground pepper
6 Tbsp butter cut into 6 pieces
24 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

Serve with:  
   Pickled Golden Raisins
   Chestnut Stuffing with Fennel

--In a bowl, combine the rosemary leaves, thymes leaves and 2 Tbsp olive oil

--Put pork loins in a baking dish and rub all over with the herb oil.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

--Remove the pork from the fridge an hour before cooking

--Preheat the oven to 375

--Arrange the rosemary and thyme sprigs on the roast and scatter the garlic around the meat.

--Cook for about an hour until a meat thermometer inserted in the center registers 140-145

--Let rest at least 10 minutes then slice and arrange on a platter, spooning a bit of the juice over the meat.

Chestnut Stuffing with Fennel

While a little labor intensive this dressing was well worth it.  Chestnut, pancetta and fennel are three of my favorite winter flavors.  The recipe came from the  Food & Wine entire year of recipes 2006.

Any rustic or country bread will do, the less dense the bread (like ciabatta) the shorter the time to make the croutons.  Also, make sure to have a large bowl on hand for the crouton mixture.  My largest glass mixing bowl just barely was able to hold everything. 


1 1/2 pounds day old bread, crusts removed, bread torn into 1 inch pieces (I used a few day old ciabatta loaves from the co-op)
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp fennel seeds
4 oz pancetta, sliced 1/8 thick and then diced (if you ask at the deli counter, they will cut the pancetta to the correct thickness)
1 small fresh rosemary sprig
1 dried arbol chili, or other red chili, stemmed and halved
1 small onion finely chopped
1 small fennel bulb finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
salt and fresh ground pepper
1 Tbsp lemon zest** note, if zesting always make sure you are using organic citrus
3/4 dry white wine
2 1/4 cups chicken stock**  homemade or low sodium
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 10-oz jar of chestnuts, coarsely crumbled**  I ended up buying, roasting and peeling my own chestnuts which was fine but took longer than I had expected
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 Tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

--Preheat the oven to 400

--On a baking sheet toss the bread with 1/2cup olive oil, spread bread in a single layer and toast in oven for about 15 minutes, stirring once, until golden brown.  The ciabatta I used needed less than 15 minutes, a denser bread will require 15.

--Leave the oven on

--Let the croutons cool then transfer to a large bowl

--In a small skillet toast the fennel seeds over medium heat until fragrant and golden, about 2 minutes.  Transfer to a mortar or spice grinder and coarsely grind

--In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil. 
--Add the pancetta and cook over high heat until crisp, about 3 minutes. 
--Lower heat to medium and add rosemary and chili for 1 minute.
--Add the onion, fennel, fennel seeds and thyme and season with salt and pepper
--Cook stirring for about 8 minutes
--Discard the rosemary and chili
--Add the lemon zest

--Add the mixture to the bowl with the croutons

--Take the large skillet just used and heat over high.  Add the wine and bring to a boil to scrape up any browned bits left in the pan.  Boil about 4 minutes, or until reduced to 1/3 cup.
--Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil
--Pour the hot stock mixture over the croutons and toss

--Wipe out the skillet.  Add 3 Tbsp butter and the chestnuts and cook over medium-high heat, stirring until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.**  Since I roasted my own chestnuts I eliminated this step and just added the chestnuts straight into the dressing

--Add the chestnuts to the dressing, season with salt and pepper and let cool completely.

--Add the eggs and parsely and toss well.**  make sure the crouton mixture has cooled or you will scramble the eggs

--Transfer the stuffing to a 9-by-13 inch baking dish.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes or so, or until crips on top.

Pickled Golden Raisins

Serve these pickled golden raisins along side a roasted pork loin.  Or just snack on them on their own.  Delicious. 


2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
3 Tbsp champagne vinegar
1 dried arbol chili, or other dried red chili, stemmed and crumbled
1 bay leaf
1 1/3 cups golden raisins
3 thyme sprigs
1 small rosemary sprig
1 teaspoon kosher salt

--In a small sauce pan,toast the mustard seeds over medium heat, shaking the pan until the seeds just start to pop, about 2 minutes

--Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer until liquid has reduced by half, about 8 minutes

--Let the raisins cool completely and drain them before serving

Roasted Baby Beet and Blood Orange Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette

This recipe is adapted from the Girl & The Fig cookbook.  Jason and I and two good friends had an amazing lunch at the Girl & the Fig while vacationing in Sonoma last February, and the cookbook appeared in my easter basket!

This is a great winter salad, although instead of the watercress it calls for, which we simply couldn't get our hands on, we used arugula, and some gorgeous yellow beets.  It was a lovely start to the meal and Jason plated it beautifully.


Makes 10 servings

6 large beets
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup champagne vinaigrette
3 blood oranges, segments only (supreme)
8 oz arugula (approximately)
salt and pepper
parmesan, thinly shaved

--Preheat oven to 350

--Place beets on top of tin foil, cover with the olive oil, fold the foil into packets and place on a baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour

--Cool enough to handle, then peel off the skins and slice the beets into thin slices

--Toss the arugula with the champagne vinaigrette

--On the plate, lay down 2-3 overlapping slices of beet with a pinch of salt and pepper

--Lay 3-4 blood orange segments along the top of the plate

--Top the beets with a mound of arugula and garnish with the shaved cheese

Champagne Vinaigrette

We served this vinaigrette with a beet, arugula and blood orange salad.


2 1/2 Tbsp champagne vinegar
1 tsp minced shallots
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp sugar
5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

--Combine the champagne vinegar, shallots, mustars and sugar in a bowl

--Slowly whisk in the olive oil

--Season with salt and pepper

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Wishing everyone a very happy and healthy holiday season!

Holiday cooking begins in earnest this afternoon and I can't wait until after the holidays to share our Christmas Eve feast.

Love, happiness and good food for all in 2011!!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Favorite Food Books of 2010

Grist shared a list from the likes of Michael Pollan, Ruth Reichl and other foodie/activist/farmer types of their favorite food books of  2010.  You can check out the list here

I have The Dirty Life on hold through my library system and second on my list of to reads is Free for All: Fixing School Food in America a history of school lunches (unappetizing I'm sure).

On a slightly different bent but still talking about sustainability, I heard a great interview on NPR's World View today with John Vucetich with the Isle Royale wolf-moose research project  He discussed not only his research there but touched upon a host of issues revolving around environmental sustainability and ethics.  You can find a link to the podcast here.

Lima Bean Soup with Celery and Carraway

I came across another recipe I just had to try at 101 Cookbooks.  I made a couple of changes but think that it turned out great.  The caraway and celery is an incredible flavor combination.  We have a big batch of the soup to get us through the better part of the week.


3/4 lb frozen lima beans (substitute 3/4 lbs of any bean you would like)
Scant 2/3 cup olive oil
2 large heads celery, with leaves, trimmed and cut into 3/4 inch pieces
2 bunches scallions, green and white parts sliced
8 garlic cloves thinly sliced
2 tsp carraway seeds, lightly crushed
sea salt
28 oz chopped tomatoes, drained
celery salt (homemade, see previous post)
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups water
oil cured black olives, pitted and chopped
thin lemon slices

--Heat the scant 2/3 cup olive oil in a large pot on med-high

--Add the celery, stir to coat and cook for about 10 minutes

--Add the scallions, garlic, carraway and some salt.  Cook for another 15 minutes, until everything is softened

--Add the tomatoes and 2 tsp celery salt and cook for a few minutes

--Add the beans, water and stock

--Bring to a simmer, season to taste with salt

--Serve bowls topped with chopped olives and a squeeze of lemon

Celery Salt

I came across a recipe that called for making your own celery salt.  I thought it was a great idea, especially since I seem to be looking for celery salt while I'm cooking recently, never have it and always forget to buy some at the store.

--Preheat over to 250

--Pick the leaves off of a head of celery.  Dry the leaves if you have recently washed it, the leaves need to be as dry as possible

--Lay leaves out on a baking sheet and cook for 15 - 20 minutes, until the leaves are crispy

--Crumble leaves and combine with equal parts salt.  Discard any leaves that didn't crisp.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Borlotti Beans with Woody Herbs

Ever since he had borlotti beans in a restaurant for his birthday dinner with my parents at Anteprima my husband has been obsessed with borlotti beans and trying out this recipe for borlotti beans with woddy herbs from Tyler Florence.  He had a little trouble finding dried borlotti beans, and finally found them in the hispanic food section of our local chain grocery store (we didn't try the italian shops which probably would carry them as well).  Borlotti, or cranberry beans, are a beautiful mottled white and red when raw, turning brown with cooking and are a favorite in Tuscan cooking. 

This recipe was quite a hit served alongside roasted multi-colored baby carrots from the co-op and a fennel rubbed pork tenderloin.


1 cup or so dried borlotti beans, soaked overnight
1 onion quartered
1 carrot cut into large chunks
1 celery stalk
3 garlic cloves
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 fresh thyme sprigs
2 fresh sage sprigs
1 small fresh rosemary sprig
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
2 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper

--Rinse and drain the soaked beans, cover again with water and cook until tender.  These beans took a much shorter time to cook than cannellini or garbanzos

--Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped

--Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a large pot (lecreuset dutch oven worked perfectly) over medium heat

--Add the herbs and cook for 2 minutes

--Add the chopped vegetables and red pepper and cook until vegetables are soft

--Add the beans, bay leaves, chicken stock and rest of olive oil

--Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook about 20 minutes

--Season with salt and pepper

--Discard bay leaves and any large herb stems before serving