Tag Archives: something smells fishy

soap salad

We can’t start chatting about this delicious cilantro rice salad without getting into genetics. Yes, cilantro is a controversial herb for good reason: we humans have a genetic disposition determining our cilantro experience. Some of us enjoy its lemony freshness, while others find its flavor uterrly identical to that of soap. Unlike blue cheese or kale or pine nuts, cilantro is not an acquired taste.

Those whose tastebuds insist on such prejudice have joined together on this wacky world web to create I Hate Cilantro.com. Really, they are an anti-cilantro community; I’m trying not to take it personally.

I picked up this gorgeous grafitti eggplant to accompany a bunch of cilantro and basmati dish. It’s that time of the month when we’re trying to use up all those stock items in our pantry and freezer. And we always have bags of brown and white basmati. We voted on brown tonight, knowing it was better for us and could justify brownie baking later in the evening. If you’re not into brown rice, a textured rice salad like this one really takes rice to another level. This recipe involves cumin and coriander seeds—ingredients I always keep around for my Indian cuisine nights. Since coriander seeds, however, are cilantro infants, I would be curious how the cilantro-haters tolerate this tasty seed?

You’ll find this lovely rice photographed alongside our meat/meatless mains: truly tasty grilled dishes on our (stunning cobalt blue) 12″ cast-iron grill pan.

Warm Herbed Coriander Rice Salad

from Gourmet, serves 4

  • 1 cup long-grain brown basmati rice, rinsed well
  • 1 3/4 cups cold water (use low-sodium chicken broth instead)
  • 3 tablespoons olive/vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, slightly crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, slightly crushed
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (on your microplane!)
  • 2 medium zucchini (1 1/4 pound), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped mixed herbs such as cilantro, parsley, and mint (just used cilantro here)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup pecans (2 ounces), toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)
This is both a low-fuss and budget-friendly meal. And may I take a moment to mention that Andrew, who has little reverence for zucchini, noted it was a “nice touch” in this dish? You heard it here. 

Bring rice and water to a boil with 1 tablespoon oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a 2-quart heavy saucepan. Cover and cook over low heat until water is absorbed and rice is tender, about 40 minutes. Let stand, covered, 10 minutes.

While rice is standing, cook coriander and cumin seeds in remaining 2 tablespoons oil in 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and a shade darker, 1 to 2 minutes. Add garlic, zucchini, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until zucchini is crisp-tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Toss zucchini mixture with rice, herbs, lemon juice, pecans, and salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, I cut half a medium eggplant into half-inch slices, brushed both sides with olive olive and sprinkled with coarse salt (needed for all the moisture in aubergines). I grilled on a medium-low heat so the slices could cook through. So rich.
 
Andrew thawed deveined shrimp in cool water for 20 minutes, then brushed with olive oil, salt and fresh pepper before grilling on medium-high. Of course, these crustaceans cooked up in no time—with a golden caramelized skin.
In my humble opinion, it’s really a toss up which is more gorgeous: the color of the shrimp or that spectacular grill pan?
 
I realize 40-minute rice sounds like quite a time committment on a weeknight, but the simmering time allows just enough opportunity to get all your other things done (switch into slippers, prep the side dishes, turn on some pleasant background noise, pour a nice glass of [preferred beverage]).
 
While grilling is an efficient way to cook, it’s delicious because of the intense heat caramelizing the surface of your ingredients. If you also have a snow storm in the forecast and can’t get out to your grill—or don’t yet own one of these handy stovetop pans—you can still achieve similar results.
Roasting shrimp and veggies with 1 tbsp olive oil at 450 F is another quick-cooking method for deep flavors. A metal cookie sheet is all you need. (Click here for my 6-minute shrimp.)
More on the brownies later… I’ll tell you how they taste after they’ve cooled (said the cook, counting the minutes).

For my earlier post on Perfect Basmati Rice Every Time, click here.

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Filed under budget, dinners, health

shhh… the goat cheese is hiding

I recently received a free year-long subscription to Bon Appetit—a magazine I had never read until it showed up in our mailbox. While stunning, it is a bit… pretentious for the home cook. When you can only purchase one-third of the ingredients at a small market in Italy, or on-line for $40, I don’t think the meal counts as accessible.

With that said, August’s issue contains a number of incredibly appealing recipes, a few of which I may actually be able to pull off (I am said home cook). This month featured summer dishes for corn, tomatoes, and zucchini. Be still my heart. I opened to page 72, and just before drooling over the Shaved Zucchini Salad with Parmesan and Pine Nuts, I spotted the Tender Zucchini Fritters with Green Goddess Dressing.  And I knew what I had to do.

We had planned to have my dad over for dinner (as mom was gallivanting in Disney World with her one of her dear girlfriends), so I thought I would shock the fellas with chili-rubbed salmon (except that I’ve never tried that before, either).

An easy dish coming from this magazine was surprising. And that’s exactly why I’ve got to share it with you, because I’m ready to whip these up again tomorrow—without doubt, one of most most delicious dishes on this entire blog! (Yes, I need to say most twice).

Supposedly this makes 12, but I got 8 beautiful 3-inch fritters. I will probably use more zucchini next time because the lack of leftovers was devastating.

There may seem to be a lot going on in the text below, but this is pretty straightforward: make the fritters, serve them with salad if you like, and add some 7-minute salmon. Watermelon optional, but highly recommended.

TENDER ZUCCHINI FRITTERS

1.5 pounds medium zucchini (Bon Appetit recommends 5-6, where my 3 zucchini were at the recommended weight. I say use 5 zucchini anyway)

1.5 tsp. coarse kosher salt, divided

6.5 tbsp. all-purpose flour

.5 tsp. baking powder

.5 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup beer

1 4-ounce package soft fresh goat cheese, coarsely crumbled, chilled (about 1 cup)

1/3 cup (or more) extra-virgin olive oil

Using the large holes on a box grater, coarsely grate the zucchini into a large colander. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon coarse salt over and toss to coat evenly. Place the colander over large bowl. Let the zucchini stand 30 minutes (or even longer while you’re doing other things), tossing occasionally. Press on zucchini to release as much liquid as possible.

Empty the zucchini into a clean kitchen towel. Roll up to enclose and squeeze dry. Squeeze hard.
There will still be an unbelievable amount of water, but is really not so tedious of a task as it seems in words.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt in medium bowl to blend. Mix in the beer (I used Kingfisher Lager, which was delicious and of course the guys didn’t mind helping me find use for the remaining liquid…).

Scrape the zucchini from towel into a bowl; stir to coat evenly (the batter will be beautifully thick). Mix in the goat cheese. And let me say that even if you think you don’t enjoy goat cheese, it’s a fantastic binder for this batter. The tart goat cheese is far more subtle in the final fritters—the guys gobbled them up (something men tend to do when it comes to food).

Heat 1/3 cup oil in heavy large nonstick skillet over medium heat until very hot, about 2 minutes.

(I learned the hard way that these are more quick and crisp in a nonstick skillet—if you have one, use it here).

Working in batches, drop batter into skillet by 1/4 cupfuls, flattening to 3-inch rounds—a silicone spatula was more helpful than a flat pancake flipper. Sauté the fritters until brown and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes per side.

I love how these stay together in the oil and in the flipping (this cook’s most dreaded technique). Transfer fritters to cooling rack (set over a pan or wax paper). A cooling rack keeps the fritters beautifully crisp. Repeat with remaining batter, adding more oil as needed.

These can be made two hours ahead and left at room temperature. Reheat in a 375F oven for 5 to 6 minutes.

FRITTER DIP

You can serve these fritters on their own, but they are certainly elegant overtop this salad, dipped in this fresh dressing.

green goddess dressing

1 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

2 tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon

2 tbsp. fresh Italian parsley

1 tbsp. distilled white vinegar

1 anchovy fillet, chopped (can we say optional?!)

3.5 cups (lightly packed) mâche (lamb’s lettuce; 2-3 oz.)

I did not include dill, because Andrew and I plain don’t like it. I also eliminated the anchovy fillet.

Blend all the ingredients in small food processor until smooth, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Taste it and season the dressing with salt and pepper. I added an additional 2 tablespoons of chives. When it tastes as flavorful as you like, transfer to a small bowl. Cover and chill—you can make this a day ahead.

Place mâche in a large bowl (I always find mâche in bags at Trader Joes, it’s a very mild—and dare I say cute—lettuce). Toss with 2 to 3 tablespoons dressing. You can place the dressed leaves over your fritters, or as I did it the other way around. Serve the fritters with extra dressing alongside as a refreshing, herby dipping sauce.

CHILI-RUBBED SALMON

As far as meat I’ve personally played with in our kitchen, I haven’t strayed far from chicken or flank steak. Seafood, as far as fragrance (okay and appearance) is concerned, grosses me out way more than creatures who live on land.

I had these salmon fillets triple-wrapped in our fridge and it still stunk up the entire kitchen. (The intense joy and satisfaction from my salmon eaters, however, made it all worth it).

This recipe (which met all prerequisites for the Lickety-Quick category) is from Everyday Food’s Great Food Fast, my new favorite cookbook. (p.s. there are a million more copies are Home Goods, where it’s always 50% off, hurrah). To serve four, you’ll need:

4 skinless salmon fillets (6 oz. each)

coarse salt and fresh ground pepper

2 tsp. chili powder

I love recipes with so few ingredients!! (It warrants the double exclamation points, said the blogger). First, preheat the broiler (my favorite way to cook just about everything) and set a rack four inches from the heat.

Before we move on, can I say something about salt and pepper? You know, now, that there’s no stopping me. Big, chunky sea or kosher salt is really fantastic. There’s the great crunch, not to mention how darn fun it is to sprinkle over everything. If you find yourself squinting at table salt, shaking and shaking that poor little shaker… well, it’s really challenging to control how much salt you’re using. Salt you can see (not to mention that with oh-so finer flavor) is incredibly helpful in the kitchen. Just pick up a pinch (maybe out of an adorable little ramekin or jar that resides by your stove) and distribute the salt. No pouring.

Everyone in my family can attest to my dislike of pepper. I definitely have a super-sensitive palette. However, when I picked up a baby jar of black peppercorn with built-in grinder (at Trader Joes for, what, $2) and started grinding pepper, fresh pepper: I fell in love. And this romance only began about a month ago, so consider yourself on top of the key apartment kitchen gossip.


You rub this simple and oh-so fast salmon all over with salt and pepper. I made this photo humungo for you (that’s the lingo for ginormous) so you can see what I’m talking about. Can you imagine rubbing gritty sand-sized salt and pepper into this hunk of fish? I know you wouldn’t (the fish would be offended and disgraced).

So what’s stopping you? You’ve got that huge thingy of Morton’s iodized table salt and don’t know what you’ll do with it if you make the switch? Well save it for baking if you must—surely you won’t break the bank ignoring it for a bit and picking up a box of coarse kosher salt for a buck of two at the grocery store. (And I’m talking any grocery store).

There now, it’s nice to have that matter settled, and I appreciate that you’ve considered this important decision just shy of my starting to beg.

After giving your fillets a mini-massage, sprinkle the top with your chili powder. I’ve got a jar of mild chili powder I use for Indian cooking, so I sprinkled away without fear of my guests bursting into flames. Use caution.

Broil until the fish is opaque throughout, 7-10 minutes—don’t overcook!

Was that easy or what?

If you really want to round out the meal with something sweet and spectacular, you know I’m going to point you back to my newly discovered summer favorite (hint, click here): watermelon and feta salad. Something juicy and colorful is a nice addition to this dinner.

Pardon the uber-unfortunate photos that came from this most incredible eating experience. The pictures do not do the meal a hint of justice, so it’s official: you’re just going to have to make it yourself.

summer update, a salmon photo from our beach trip:

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Filed under lickety-quick, the basics