Category:Main Dish’

Braised Chard, Carrots and Rice with Brats

 - by Elizabeth

Braised Chard, Carrots and Rice_1When you have lots of chard in your garden, or it’s on sale at the green grocer’s, it’s time to make this dish.  If you don’t add the brats and use water instead of the broth, it’s vegetarian, but we like to use Apple-Chicken sausage (we buy it at Costco) and add it to this dish.  The original recipe came from Mark Bittman, but I’ve made some modifications.

Braised Chard, Carrots and Rice_5 Braised Chard, Carrots and Rice_4 Braised Chard, Carrots and Rice_3Ingredients
1 pound (or one large handful) chard, washed and trimmed
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
5-6 carrots, peeled, and either sliced, or roughly chopped
1 shallot, peeled and minced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
salt and pepper (this needs more than you think)
2/3 cup jasmine rice
2 cups chicken broth
Aidell’s Apple and Chicken Sausage, 5 links
juice of one lemon

Directions
Cut the stems out of the chard leaves. Line up the stems (they look like pink celery) and slice them across the bunch, then cut the leaves into wide ribbons. Keep separate.

Put all but a tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the garlic, shallot, carrots and chopped chard stems, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When chard/carrots are tender, add chard leaves, more salt and pepper, the rice, and chicken broth. Cover and simmer for about 20-30 minutes, or until water is absorbed (you may have to lower the heat). Add water if needed, until rice is cooked. The mixture will be moist, but not too soupy.

Braised Chard, Carrots and Rice_6While those cook, place the sausage links into a non-stick pan, and over a low heat, cook until they are plump and slightly brown in places on the outside.

To finish the dish, add the juice of one lemon and a circle of olive oil, and if necessary, some more salt and pepper.  Slice the sausage/brats and pile on top of the rice/chard mixture. Braised Chard, Carrots and Rice_2

Spicy African Peanut Soup with Ginger and Tomato

 - by Elizabeth

Peanut Soup_1I first found this recipe in the New York Times; one version was by Julia Moskin and the other by Mark Bittman.  I have made this several times and combined/changed things up to suit me.  I like it because it begins with eggplant, and I always use the Japanese kind (so I can skip the salting step).  It’s a good stew to serve over some rice, on a day when you just need something flavorful and hearty for dinner.

Ingredients
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon turmeric
⅛ teaspoon cayenne
2 medium-size Japanese eggplants, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
¼ cup good quality oil, peanut oil (if you have it)
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 jalapeño chili, seeded and minced
1 onion, chopped
⅓ cup tomato paste
½ pound skinless, boneless chicken (about 2 thighs or breasts) cut into chunks
1 small (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, preferably roasted
4 cups vegetable stock or water
½ cup natural unsweetened peanut butter (creamy or chunky)
1 medium-size zucchini, 6 to 8 ounces, cut in quarters lengthwise, then sliced 1/2 -inch thick
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 to 2 lemons)
2-3 cups coarsely chopped greens, such as spinach or chard
⅓ cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves, plus whole leaves for garnish

Cooked rice, for serving

Chopped roasted salted peanuts, for garnish (optional)

Preparation

In a colander, toss eggplant with 1 teaspoon salt; set aside for 30 minutes [I skip this step if using Japanese eggplant]. Rinse, drain well and set aside. In a small bowl, combine cumin, coriander, turmeric and cayenne; set aside.

In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add shallots and fry, stirring often, until soft, and caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add chicken and continue cooking for another 3 or 4 minutes, until just starting to turn color. Using a slotted spoon, transfer shallots and chicken to a large bowl, leaving oil in pot (may need to add some more). Raise heat to nearly high and add eggplant. Cook, stirring often, until lightly browned and just tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to bowl with shallots/chicken.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pot and heat over medium-high heat. Add ginger and jalapeño and cook, stirring for 30 seconds. Add spices and cook, stirring, 30 seconds more. Add onion and cook, stirring to scrape up any browned bits, until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Peanut Soup Add diced tomatoes, stock or water, eggplant, chicken, shallots and a sprinkling of salt. Bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes. Place peanut butter in a medium bowl, add one or two ladlefuls of hot soup, and stir until emulsified, then pour mixture back into soup.

Reduce heat to a simmer, add zucchini, cover and cook 10 to 15 minutes, until vegetables are tender and chicken is done. Turn off heat and stir in lemon juice, chopped cilantro, greens; stir until greens are wilted. Let cool slightly and taste; add salt if necessary. Serve in bowls with rice, garnished with cilantro leaves and chopped peanuts, if desired.

Note: Can omit chicken and add 1 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans, if desired.  Can also add 1-2 thickly sliced sweet potato (as shown in the image above).

Peanut Soup_2

Pasta with Burst Cherry Tomatoes

 - by Elizabeth

IMG_6033This recipe, found on the New York Times’ Recipe Site is a total winner, if you’ve got cherry tomatoes going gangbusters in the garden, which I do.  Melissa Clark made hers with red tomatoes, but I always plant the little golden plum cherry tomatoes and they keep going when all the other toms in the garden have given up because of the heat.  While she calls for fusilli pasta, any small shaped pasta will do.  I adjusted the ratio of tomato mixture to pasta, using a little bit less pasta than she called for.  Lastly, my garden’s mint wasn’t producing, so I omitted that as well, but I’m looking forward to trying it!

IMG_60311 pound fusilli pasta
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
6 ounces pancetta, preferably thick cut, diced (available at Trader Joe’s)
4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Fine sea salt and black pepper, as needed
1 quart cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
3 tablespoons butter
Fresh ricotta cheese, for serving (optional)
3 cups whole mint leaves, torn (I didn’t use)
4 scallions, preferably red scallions for color, thinly sliced
Flaky sea salt, to finish

PREPARATION

  1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until 1 minute shy of al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking water.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat for 15 seconds, then add the oil and heat until it thins out and easily coats the pan when swirled. Add pancetta and cook until it starts to render its fat, about 2 minutes. Add garlic, red pepper flakes and a large pinch of salt and pepper and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until they burst, turn golden at the edges and shrivel up slightly, about 5 to 8 minutes.
  3. Add pasta to pan and toss with tomato-pancetta mixture; if the mixture looks dry add a little pasta cooking water a few tablespoons at a time. Cook over high heat until the pasta finishes cooking in the sauce. Add the butter and toss until it melts and coats everything.
  4. Divide pasta among warmed pasta bowls. Garnish with dollops of ricotta if desired, and top with a generous mound of fresh mint and scallions. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and more pepper before serving.

Zucchini Pasta

 - by Elizabeth

IMG_5831

This dish came about because we had too much zucchini in our garden.  Well — instead of too much — a bounteous harvest of zucchini.  I found this recipe on the New York Times website, and followed it pretty much to the letter.

Ingredients
2 pounds zucchini
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

¼
cup freshly grated Parmesan, for serving (more to taste)
¼ cup (approximately) light cream
IMG_5826
Wash several zucchini from the garden; pat dry.  Slice off lengthwise ribbons of zucchini, using a vegetable peeler.  Peel off several ribbons from one side, then turn the zucchini and peel off more ribbons. Continue to turn and peel off ribbons until you get to the seeds at the core of the zucchini. Discard the core. You can also do this on a mandolin, adjusted to a very thin slice.
IMG_5829
Heat 1 Tablespoon of the oil in a large non-stick pan, over medium-high heat, and when it is hot, add about half of the zucchini ribbons, salt and pepper.  Toss and cook, keeping the zucchini in motion until it is just soft and barely transluscent, but not browned (about 2-3 minutes).  Set aside, and cook the second batch.IMG_5830Put both batches back in the pan, and pour over a little bit of cream, then add the grated cheese, again tossing lightly over medium heat.  Adjust salt and add freshly ground pepper to taste, and transfer to a serving dish.We topped ours with a fresh bruschetta-type tomato sauce.

Brined Porchetta Pork Chops

 - by Elizabeth

Pochetta Pork CHops_1 Pochetta Pork CHopsWhile looking for a recipe for the newly purchased pork chops from the Big Box store, I found this one.  But every caution says to use a pork chop with the bone still in. . . but mine were boneless.  So I compromised by brining them, and they turned out delicious.  The porchetta part is a variation of Melissa Clark’s recipe from the New York Times.

2 bone-in pork chops, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches thick
2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt, plus a pinch–divided
1 cup apple juice
1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
Large pinch red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed
2 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds, more for garnish (nice, if you have them, but the recipe will survive without them)
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preparation

To brine: Put the chops in a quart freezer ziploc bag, or a container that is fits the chops snugly.  Mix together 1 teaspoon kosher salt and the apple juice, and pour over the chops.  Let brine overnight, then discard brine and proceed with recipe.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Pat pork chops dry and, using a very sharp paring knife, cut a large pocket into the fat-covered edge of each chop. Season chops all over with 1 teaspoon salt, including inside pockets.

Finely grate zest from lemon and put in a small bowl. Cut lemon lengthwise in quarters for serving (opt).

Using the flat side of a knife, mash garlic with a pinch of salt until you get a paste. Add to the bowl with the lemon zest and stir in rosemary, red pepper flakes, fennel seeds, 2 tablespoons fennel fronds and 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Divide filling between pork chops, stuffing some inside pockets and rubbing the rest on the outside.

Heat a large ovenproof skillet over high heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sear pork chops on one side for 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Gently turn over chops and cook for another minute, then transfer skillet to oven. Cook until meat is just done, about 5 to 10 minutes longer (internal temperature should read 135 degrees on a meat thermometer). Transfer pork chops to a plate, tent with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with fennel fronds and lemon wedges.

Mushrooms and Soy over Noodles

 - by Elizabeth

Soy and Mushroom Dish

Recipe adapted from Chris Jaeckle, All’onda, New York.
Published March 2014 in the New York Times
Further adaptations from Sam Sifton, and then further adapted in my kitchen.

Mushrooms and Soy wNoodles

Lemon Pappardelle pasta

TOTAL TIME: 35 minutes
Put the water on to boil for the a Lemon Paparadelle noodles from Trader Joe’s or use any high quality flat noodle that is at least 1/2″ wide. In between all other tasks, cook the noodles to al dente and the let them drain. Just before combining with the mushrooms, run hot water over them to freshen and unstick, the let drain again. Or, just get the timing down so the noodles are ready when the mushrooms are.

sliced mushrooms

FOR THE MUSHROOMS
About 20-30 ounces of mushrooms, thinly sliced (It’s better with a combination of mushrooms, such as Golden Oak, Crimini and Shiitakke, but it’s still quite good with just white mushrooms and crimini.) I do not measure, but when combining the mushrooms at the end, most go into the mixture, but some might be held back for another day. You be the judge.

Roughly 6 ounces cold butter, cut into 2 tablespoon pats
3 ounces butter ( for finishing)
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed through a press (or minced)
1/2 cup beef broth
1 tablespoon low-salt soy sauce
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

PREPARATION

  1. So as to not crowd the mushrooms as they cook,work in batches to cook them. For each batch, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a sauté pan set over high heat until it has melted. Add 1/2 pressed clove of garlic, then about 2 -3 cups of mushrooms, and sauté 3 to 4 minutes, turning until browned, tossing frequently, until mushrooms are coated with butter and start to wilt slightly. The ratio is more important than the quantity (a small amount of butter and garlic to the mushrooms), so if your pan is smaller, use fewer mushrooms. Remove to a bowl, then repeat until all mushrooms have been cooked. Remove last batch to the bowl.
  2. Add the beef broth to the pan deglaze the surface, using a wooden spoon to scrape at the browned bits. Allow the stock to reduce by half, then turn the heat to medium-low and add the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, whisking to combine, followed by the soy sauce, cream and olive oil. Allow mixture to cook until it thickens a little, then remove from heat. Taste for seasoning, adding black pepper, if desired.
  3. Add the mushrooms to this, tossing to coat as well as incorporate any accumulated juices (can drain those out earlier into soy mixture if desired).
  4. Put the warm noodles in a warmed bowl, then top with mushrooms and the sauce. Serve immediately.

Sweet and Savory Chicken

 - by Elizabeth

Sweet and Savory Chicken

This is a modification of the recipe “Sweet and Spicy Chicken” published on the New York Times website, which I found one day while perusing the videos from Melissa Clark.  She makes me believe I can cook anything.  Since I am of a certain age, I crave more layering of flavors and textures and this fits the bill.

SS Chicken_1

SS Chicken_2

SS Chicken_5

We served it to two young adult guests one night and one cleaned her plate and the other one pushed most of it around.  When you bite into those lemons, it’s a jolt, that’s for sure, but I loved the surprise of all the flavors together.

Ingredients
1 lemon, plus 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 and 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, more for pot
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 and 1/2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
3 tablespoons honey
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
Black pepper, to taste

About 4 lbs. of bone-in chicken thighs, drumsticks and/or breasts–about 8-10 pieces total.  (Hers call for one 4-lb. chicken cut up, but we thought all this good flavor was wasted on the bony chicken backs and wings.  We also liked the dark chicken parts better than the white, although both were moist and delicious.)

3 cups sliced carrots (1/4-inch thick)
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
3/4  cup sliced dates
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, mint or parsley, for garnish (we used cilantro)
2 scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish
1/4 cup chopped toasted pistachio nuts, for garnish

 

Preparation (to be done the afternoon before, if possible)
Quarter the lemon lengthwise, removing any seeds. Thinly slice crosswise into small wedges and add to small pot of boiling, salted water. Blanch for 2 minutes and drain. Reserve slices.

In a saucepan, whisk together lemon juice, orange juice, oil, mustard, honey, salt, bay leaf, red pepper flakes and black pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool.

Put chicken in a bowl and add honey mixture. Add carrots, onion, dates, thyme and blanched lemon slices. Turn mixture several times to coat.

SS Chicken_7We stuffed ours into two plastic zipper bags (yes, I ripped the bay leaf in half), set it in a bigger container and left it in the fridge overnight.  (She says you could let it marinate for at least 30 minutes at room temperature, but then the marinade won’t really have time to work its magic.)

The next day, heat oven to 425 degrees. Transfer all ingredients, including marinade, to a sheet pan with a rim. Chicken should be skin side up. Roast until chicken is browned and cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes for breasts and 30 to 40 for legs and wings (remove the pieces as they are done cooking). When the chicken is done, give the carrot mixture in the pan a stir; if the pan looks dry add 2 to 3 tablespoons water. Continue roasting the carrots until they are tender, about 7 to 12 minutes longer.  When you have about 3 minutes to go, add in the scallions/green onions to roast along with the vegetables, just to take that rawness off of them. (A change from her recipe)

SS Chicken_9Spoon carrots over chicken and top with cilantro (or parsley or mint), scallions and pistachio nuts.  This is even better the next day.  I served it with Rice Pilaf, and served up some homemade cookies, and gelato from the grocers for dessert.

SS Chicken_10

Summer Pasta Salad

 - by Elizabeth

Summer Pasta Salad with Asparagus and Tomatoes

Even though I call this Summer Pasta Salad, asparagus is typically a spring vegetable.  But I always make some version of this just as the heat begins to creep into our days, as it’s easy and delicious.  Add some bread, and bowl of fruit for dessert and dinner’s done.

Ingredients
1 lb. package of high quality cheese-filled tortellini
about 8 ounces of golden cherry tomatoes (2-3 handfuls)
about 8 ounces of sweet red pearl-like tomatoes
bunch of asparagus, about 15 spears
pitted black Greek olives, about 10 very large ones, or 20 medium
extra-virgin olive oil
good quality balsamic vinegar
red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
a light shake of cayenne pepper

Method
Toss the tomatoes with some olive oil and some salt and pepper, then spread out on a rimmed cookie sheet and bake at 425F for 15 minutes.  The tomatoes should still have their shape but be a little wobbly-looking.  Set aside to cool.

Blanched Asparagus

Wash, then prepare asparagus by snapping off the ends.  Hold your fingers at the end of the spear, letting it snap off where it wants to, then cut into 1″ pieces.  Cook in a gently simmering pot of salted water for 1 minute, then plunge into an ice-water bath to stop the cooking.  They should have some chewiness to them, but not crunchiness.  I always test first as some batches can take up to two minutes to be at the right texture.  To do that, grab one piece and put it in the ice water bath, then taste.

After each batch, place cooled asparagus to drain in a strainer or colander, then set aside.

Cooking Tortellini

Cook the pasta in lightly salted water on a gentle boil until done, but not DEAD-done.  You don’t want the pasta to fall apart.  Tip into a colander in the sink and rinse with cool water. GENTLY.

In a large bowl, place drained pasta, tomatoes, blanched asparagus, Greek olives.  Splash more olive oil on the mix, then some balsamic and some red wine vinegar (about 2-4 Tablespoons combined for the vinegars) then grind on some fresh pepper and salt, then a light sprinkle of cayenne..  Toss gently, then taste.  Adjust as needed.

Serves a crowd.

Mediterranean Chicken

 - by Elizabeth

This dish hails originally from Martha and I pretty much make it like she says, but don’t worry so much about the proportions.  If I think it needs more tomatoes, I add a few.  Likewise with the olives.  This goes together quickly and is good for a crowd.  Once I served it to over 50 people, and they all liked it (although I did see a few olives left on plates–guess they didn’t like those).

Cook’s Note: Like I’ve said before, I think the chicken breasts these days are beyond one person’s serving size, so I “fillet” them into thirds by slicing them on the diagonal, with the blade closer to horizontal than vertical.

This is the yield from two chicken breasts.  While the recipe originally called for 4 chicken breasts, I find that by filleting the chicken and leaving the amounts of the vegetable mixture the same, this will feed four nicely.

Ingredients:
2 cups grape tomatoes (1 pint)  *I like to cut some of mine in half, the long-way. I have used Roma tomatoes cut into large thumb-sized chunks and that works just fine too.  Different flavor, though.*
16 Kalamata olives, pitted and drained *The ones from the grocery store are bigger than the ones from Trader Joe’s, so use 20-25 of the Trader Joe’s olives.*
3 Tablespoons drained capers
3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (although Martha calls for chicken breasts with skin)
Salt and Pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  Toss tomatoes, olives, capers and 2 Tablespoons oil together in a medium bowl.

Rinse chicken and pat dry.  Season both sides with salt and pepper.  Heat a large skillet over high hot until hot.  Add 1 Tablespoon oil and heat until hot, but not smoking.  Place chicken in skillet; cook until golden brown, then turn chicken over to sear the backside briefly.

Place chicken in oven-proof baker.  Add tomato mixture all around.  Roast until chicken is cooked through and tomatoes have softened, about 18 minutes.

Note: Martha says to use an oven-proof skillet, then you can just add the tomato mixture to the pan and pop that in the oven.  Now you have options.

Stuffed Pumpkin

 - by Elizabeth

I first heard about this on NPR, when Dorie Greenspan was interviewed for a fall baking dish and also to promote her new book of Around my French Table.  Which I promptly put in my Amazon cart and which I now possess.  But because she encourages you to make this recipe your own, mine is nothing like hers except you start with a hollowed-out pumpkin and somewhere along the line you fill it will good things, put it in a 350 degree over for 90 minutes to two hours.  So I bought a sugar pumpkin at Trader Joe’s one day, and since we were having company for Halloween Night (the  trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood all grew up and went to college), I decided to try this.  Mine is stuffed with a small pasta blend (from Trader Joe’s), mushrooms and some Jimmy Dean’s sage sausage.  I roasted it with the lid on for 90 minutes, and it was done.  It makes a great presentation.

Start with the way Dorie starts: cut the lid off a pumpkin and hollow it out, scraping the flesh slightly to get rid of the stringy bits.  Sprinkle the inside cavity with salt, pepper and nutmeg.  I found it easier to grind the salt and pepper onto my cutting board, then pinch by pinch, sprinkle it around the inside cavity (the nutmeg went on from the spice bottle, no trouble).  Set aside.

In a medium size pot, brown the sausage well.  Turn off the heat, set aside.

Wash and cut about 3/4 pound crimini mushrooms into chunks.  In 1 Tablespoon butter, sautee half of the mushrooms in a saucepan (you’ll use this saucepan later for the pasta cooking); don’t crowd.  As they get done, dump them into the sausage, stir to mix.

When mushrooms are done, in about 1 Tablespoon olive oil, cook until slightly soft: 1 shallot, chopped and 1 large (2 small, or 3 weensy) cloves of garlic.  Stir in 1 and 1/4 cups of Harvest Grains Blend** mix (about 1/2 of the package), then add in 1 can of reduced salt Swanson’s chicken broth.  Cook until al dente–it will continue to cook in the pumpkin.  Add this slightly soupy mix to the sausage and mushrooms; stir to mix.

Spoon into your pumpkin, and don’t pack it down.  Just loosely spoon it in.  Set the pumpkin on a cookie sheet that has been lined with a sheet of parchment (or a Silpat) and bake at 350 for 90 minutes to 2 hours.  Check at 90 minutes.  The tip of knife blade should go in easily.  If the mixture is too soupy (mine wasn’t, but Dorie’s was) leave the lid off for the last few minutes.

Serve with freshly grated cheese, to be added atop the melange.  We served it by slicing it into wedges, then scooping out the mushroom/sausage mixture into a shallow bowl, topped with the cheese.  Encourage your guests to mix the cooked pumpkin with the rest–delicious.

I decided to try this again tonight, to see if we still liked it.  We did.  It’s perfect for a fall supper, and since a) today’s the last day in November–made it under the wire for fall, and b) we’re supposed to get a ten-year wind event tonight.  The house is creaking and moaning, and it feels like a Winnie-the-Pooh blustery day.

**Harvest Grain Blend: Could substitute a mix of pearl couscous, red quinoa, orzo and miniscule baby garbanzo beans.  At least that’s what the package says is in there.