Archive for ‘Savory’

August 10, 2013

wontons with apricot-mustard sauce

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I took a chance. I decided to venture out of my comfort-zone in order to test the waters of a cuisine that is not Italian-American focused. I took a trip to the Asian store (which ironically is called Paris Store?). I asked the people working there to identify certain vegetables that I couldn’t pick out of a vegetable line-up. I perused the sauce aisle for approximately 42 minutes without lifting my head once. And I made homemade green curry paste. And consequently a Thai green curry. That was delicious.

But this post isn’t about the green curry. This post is about the sides we made. Now, I know I am probably mixing up my non-Italian-American fare by serving wontons with a curry, but I am just a beginner, okay?

These wontons were…off…the…chain. Unbelievable. I was astonished by how successful they turned out. The texture. The filling. Tasted like something I would order in a restaurant (and this isn’t something I say very often about the food I turn out.) What I especially liked about this recipe is the minimalism of the ingredient list, and the fact that most of these things can be found in any old supermarket. Having a food processor is a bonus because it really gets the mixture to be homogenous, but I am sure loosely chopped versions of the ingredients would be excellent as well.

This post is for you Tilgerchen.

Wontons with Apricot-Mustard Sauce

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(adapted from Chloe’s Kitchen, makes 14 dumplings)

What you’ll need:

Apricot-Mustard Sauce

  • 1/2 cup apricot jam
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Wontons

  • 4 tbsps canola oil, divided
  • 5 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • gyoza or wonton wrappers (used egg-free if making this vegan!)

What now?

Apricot-Mustard Sauce:

  1. Combine jam and mustard in a small saucepan over medium heat for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently so that it doesn’t stick. Transfer to a serving bowl and let it cool to room temp.

Wontons:

  1. In a large skillet, heat 2 tbps canola oil over medium-high heat and sauté the mushrooms until soft and lightly browned. Add the cashews, scallions, carrots, garlic, ginger and soy sauce and cook them babies all together for another 5 minutes.
  2. Once cooled slightly, transfer to a food processor and pulse a few times until the cashews are finely ground and mixture is somewhat smooth. I left mine slightly chunky because I thought it would pack more of a punch.
  3. At your origami station, place 2 teaspoons of wonton mixture in the center of each wonton wrapper.  Keep a small bowl of water nearby. You will want to wet the edges of the wonton mixture just enough to seal the wrapper. As you are folding over the wonton, squeeze as much air out as possible to avoid air pockets. As you can see, I was not fancy, I will have to upgrade my folding techniques for next time.  Just make sure it’s sealed.
  4. Heat remaining oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat.  Once the oil is hot, place the wontons in the skillet. Do not smush them, leave some space between them.
  5. Cook a few minutes until the bottoms are lightly browned. Once browned, fill the skillet with 1/2 inch hot water.
  6. Cover the skillet immediately and let those puppies simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Flip the wontons to brown the other side lightly.
  8. Serve with apricot-mustard sauce et voilà!

Bon app!

(I am sure the option of steaming could work equally as well, just haven’t tried it yet!)

August 8, 2013

Broiled Blackened Tofu

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Why hello old friends. Over the past 3 months, I spent the largest majority of my time finishing up a French masters diploma. The title and the topic are irrelevant (because they are completely food unrelated, let’s be honest.) but the most important thing to know is that I finished it, quite successfully.

But up until the defense, I admit that my blogging habits were incredibly sub par. I cooked, and I cooked and I cooked. I had to take breaks from cooking in order to write the thesis. But the process of uploading and writing seemed too ambitious at that point in time.

Me voilà (here I am again) back at my computer, sorting through the photos I managed to snap regardless of my non-blogging ways. I shall now go through with you the 10 outstanding (as in “not settled or resolved”) recipes in a sort of Back to the Future type way. Only after these 10 recipes will I come back to speed and let you know what is going on now.

Sound complicated? Hang on tight, I promise it will all be alright!

Broiled Blackened Tofu

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(adapted from Appetite for Reduction, serves 4)

What you’ll need:

Spice Blend:

  • 2 1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • black pepper – to taste
  • 3 cloves garlic – minced

The rest:

  • 1 block tofu or about 14 ounces, pressed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp soy sauce

Now what?

  1. Mix together spices on a dinner plate
  2. After pressing the tofu, cut it into slices of your liking !
  3. Adjust broiler so the baking sheet is about 6 inches from the top of the oven.
  4. Pre-heat oven to broil.
  5. Spray or lightly grease baking sheet. Poke holes in your tofu with a fork to allow the flavors to enter!
  6. Put the olive oil & soy sauce on a separate plate.
  7. Dip tofu in the oil and cover both sides then dredge/dip each piece into the “spice blend plate” pressing down & covering both sides.
  8. Place the tofu on a baking pan and broil for about 12 minutes, flipping halfway through. You will know it is ready when the tofu is blackened in certain spots.

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Bon app !

June 18, 2013

40 clove chickpeas and broccoli

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There is not much to be said about cooking with a busy schedule because usually with a busy schedule, there is not much to be said about cooking. In our Franco-American household, either we take 2 hours to cook (a mechouia, for example) or we order pizzas, because somewhere in between those two extremes, we just don’t know how to handle it. With one Masters student and one PhD student, some days there just isn’t enough time to take a break and cook. But we are learning, slowly but surely, how to make quick, delicious, hearty low preparation dishes.

This recipe comes from the book of my dreams at the moment, Appetite for Reduction — though who said anything about reduction (didn’t I mention pizzas just before?) What I really like about this book are the recipes with few and basic ingredients. We just don’t have the time to go on a full blown mission in search for haloumi!

If you like garlic, this recipe is for you, though I must admit, the Beard said we could even add more next time. Roasted garlic becomes less offensive than its raw twin.

40 clove chickpeas and broccoli

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Serves 4

What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb broccoli, cut into large spears, stems chopped into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1- cloves of garlic, smashed (break them into individual cloves and then smash them with the flat side of your knife, you can peel off the skin, the clove will be relatively whole still)
  • 1 15oz can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 cup vegetable broth

Now what?

  • Preheat  oven to 400. Put the broccoli, garlic and chickpeas in a 9×13″ baking pan, or some sort of vessel where they can be spread out. Drizzle with a reasonable amount of olive oil (2 tsp to be precise), salt, pepper, lemon zest and dried oregano. Toss to coat every bit of it. Spray it with some cooking spray (or a little more olive oil) and throw it in the oven.
  • After about 15 minutes, flip the mixture. Bake for 15 minutes more, and then remove from the oven to flip one final time. Once all is flipped to assure even cooking, add the vegetable broth. With a spatula, scrape all of the delicious stuck pieces off of the bottom of the pan and put back in the oven for another 15 minutes.
  • Once it is done, the broccoli will be slightly browned and the garlic nice and tender.

We ate this with some lemony couscous!

Bon app!

June 15, 2013

Mechouîa | A guest post by the Beard

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Since we’ve been waiting for Spring for at least nine months now, and since this wonderful lady has been playing hard to get, I decided I’d bring Spring in our home on this St Barnaby. The best way to do so is to go back to the atmosphere of my lovely youth and taste what my all my Tunisian friends were so lucky to find on their table at dinner time: mechouîa, or literally “grilled pepper salad.” (pronounced may-shoe-uh)

Before I get on to ”mechouîng,” there is a little something you should know while reading these lines. In fact, the Guide and I recently relocated to a bigger and better-looking 150 year-old French building in which we’ve settled in a very bourgeois apartment. We’d post pictures, but I’m sure our roommate Aristide (our black cat, in fact) would sue us for copyright infringement 🙂 In any case, the good news is that the Guide and I noticed we spend most of our time together in our brand new kitchen! I just noticed how living has been made easier by just adapting to wiser eating habits. Not that I had bad eating habits before, but I am French… and I still can’t find a single article online that would prove me right in saying that one can take care of their figure by just shoving down 1.5 kilograms of cheese every day. So my cheese intake depends now on my bribing skills… et c’est pas plus mal!

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Our friend Christophe (the market gardener) is depressed, because the weather is so ugly that he can’t grow anything and business has therefore been horrible, to say the least. So to cheer him up, we bought 3 times the amount of food we usually get on a Saturday morning. And I ended up with 4 lbs. of banana peppers… and so what? I just thought about how the smell of roasted peppers freshly taken out of the oven could put a smile of the Guide’s face when she gets home. The smell of Summer, with a refreshing taste of happiness on the table. And a possibility for me to bribe the Guide into allowing me to go get a fresh mozzarella di Bufala Campana

Mechouîa salad

(adapted from omafaim)

Serves 4-6

What you’ll need:

  • 4.5 pounds of fresh banana peppers
  • 6 red tomatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

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Now what?

  • Turn on the radio, and start singing along the tunes from back in the 1970s.
  • Place the peppers on a baking sheet and broil them in the oven. They must turn almost black, so that you can peel the skin off more easily. Half way through the broiling process, place the three (unpeeled) garlic cloves amidst the peppers, so that the smell of garlic spreads to the broiling veggies. Once they’re well cooked, let them cool down in a large bowl, and make sure you cover it with a lid.
  • While the peppers cook, bring water to a boil. Slash the top of each of the 6 tomatoes and place them in the boiling water. Remove after 15 minutes and let them cool down.
  • Bring another pan to a boil, and pour yourself a nice cup of jasmine tea. It helps with your singing. Change the radio and turn to the hits from the eighties.
  • Once everything has cooled down, start peeling the peppers and tomatoes and take the seeds out. Quick tip: don’t use a knife to peel the peppers, just open its lengthways with your hands and use your fingers to remove the pepper flesh on a cutting board. The peppers need to be long and ropy (just like the tomatoes, which you will cut with a knife, obviously).
  • Drain the peppers and tomatoes in a colander in the sink for at least two or three hours. Too much juice would turn the mechouîa into a mushy soup.
  • Once it has drained, mix the preparation with the garlic paste (after you press it out of the skin) and the juice of one lemon, as well as 2 teaspoons of cumin and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. I tend to add a bit of black pepper (Malabar, preferably) and a pinch of coarse sawlt.
  • Place it in the fridge for 2 hours.
  • Finish your cup of jasmine tea and imaging what the Guide’s smile will be like, craving your mozza-ball.

Bon app!

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June 11, 2013

Big Schnooze’s Lite Summer Salad

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Summertime is upon us here in Strasbourg. Or at least I think. The weather has oscillated between scolding hot and blistery cold for the past month. The only solid sign I have that summer is almost here is the giant mosquito that is torturing me each night. Otherwise, the changing of the seasons is a most promising feeling when you get your produce from a market each week. The French rarely eat out of season, which for me meant discovering a ton of new produce (like, what the hell was a leek? and rhubarb? I’m sorry, that just doesn’t grow on Long Island!) and THEN having to learn when to get excited for what. Poor old me who thought strawberries were a year ’round fruit.

Now I know the simple joys of asparagus season — those few, beautiful weeks where you eat so much asparagus that your pee stinks for weeks. Or cantaloupe season — those magnificent round delights that migrate north from the Provence region of France (think Beauty and the Beast) around this time every year. Ah eating seasonally.  Maybe people do it in the United States, I just never had before. Shame on me.

This recipe is simple, easy and reminds me of a good dear Schnooze. Her invention perhaps? Or perhaps she was just the one to introduce me to this medley of flavors. But when summer time roles around, big Schnooze’s lite summer salad comes out and it brings me back to Strasbourg : Summer 2011, 2012.  For a lack of better name, I have named this one after you, Schnooze.

Big Schnooze’s Lite Summer Salad

Serves 4-6

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cantaloupe, cut into cubes
  • 1 cucumber, scraped out and cut into cubes
  • 1 red onion, cut into bite sized bits
  • 1.5 cups feta, cut into cubes
  • as much chopped fresh mint as needed to cover the dish — preferably from the Beard’s mom’s garden…

Now what?

Easy. Cut each ingredient into a bite size cube. Mix in a bowl. Eat chilled. (Can be kept in fridge if you haven’t finished yet! But I would eat this quickly since it can get soggy after about 2 days.)

Serve with wine. Gewurztraminer is a good idea.

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What are we listening to in the kitchen in honor of Schnooze? Postcards from Italy – Beirut

Bon app!

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