Tag Archives: recipe

TOMATO TIME :: Fresh Tomato Salsa

Basic Salsa

I like to make this salsa with a variety of tomatoes, especially with an heirloom or two to add color, interest and flavor. Any tomatoes will do as long as they’re ripe. Whatever you have on hand.

Basic Salsa Recipe

Ingredients:
3-4 ripe tomatoes, cored and chopped small
2 small torpedo onions or shallots or 1 small red onion, chopped small
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped small
1 jalapeno, chopped small
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 Tablespoon chopped cilantro
Kosher salt and pepper

Directions:
1. Prepare and combine all ingredients. Stir well, add generous salt and pepper.
2. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
3. Serve immediately with tortilla chips.

Tomatoes on the vine

JalapenoPlant_FW

Salsa_Basic_Closeup_FW

Advertisements

Great Crumb – Celebration Cake!

I was looking for a simple yet festive cake to bake for my mom’s 70th birthday. I stumbled upon this recipe from Nigel Slater’s cookbook, Appetite, and I knew this was what I wanted to make. The author adapted this recipe from Tamasin Day-Lewis’s wholewheat chocolate cake, which apparently she adopted from her cousin. This cake gets around. Her recipe called for muscovado sugar, which Nigel didn’t have on hand so he used Demerara. I was headed to Minnesota from San Francisco to celebrate my mom’s birthday, so I figured I’d better bring my fancy sugar with me. I could’ve bought either type sugar at Canyon Market, my local Glen Park neighborhood store- they had quite an amazing array of sugars given the small size of their “corner market”- but I went with demerara out of an allegiance to Nigel. I thought I was going to be arrested going through airport security with this sugar. They were very, very suspicious of this sugar. Why was I traveling with sugar for chrissakes! the security’s face read. I was equally upset. Why wouldn’t I be traveling with ingredients for my mother’s cake. Please. Luckily I made it through security (they allowed my wrapped present to pass through too- whew!!), and it was all worth it because the cake was delicious. So good that I’m looking forward to making it for Christmas day. I think it’d be best if served warm with a little homemade whipped cream or ice cream.

PS. I’ve really bonded with the digital scale my boyfriend bought for ~$25. Baking via weight is highly satisfying and- as far as I know in my limited baking experience- it is recommended by the experts out there as more accurate (aka. will give you superior results).  Given my penchant for eyeballing ingredients in savory dishes (aka. I’m not a known baker despite my surname), I may not be the best one to advise on this front. Still- I’m just saying- you might want to investigate… I didn’t have a scale at my mom’s place, so I had to convert Nigel’s measurements. My conversions are included below. Happy Baking!

Serves 12 or a generous 8.

Ingredients:
butter – 250g (a generous cup // ~ 17.6 Tablespoons // ~ 2 1/4 sticks)
demerara sugar – 250g (~one heaping cup)
eggs – 4 large free range
espresso coffee a small one, or about 3 tablespoons
unbleached flour – 250g (~one heaping cup)
baking powder – 2 gently heaping teaspoons
skinned hazelnuts (filberts)- 200g, coarsely ground (~ generous 3/4 cup) ***
fine, dark chocolate (I used Ghirardelli ~65%+) = 250g, coarsely chopped (like gravel)

Directions:
1) Line a 23 cm (9-10 inch spring form pan) with greaseproof paper or parchment paper regardless if you have a nonstick pan.

2) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius (~355 degrees). Beat the butter and sugar until they are fluffy and pale. (Electric beater is best if you have one.) Add the eggs one at a time, beating lightly between each addition. You may find the mixture curdles a little but don’t worry, it will come good in the end. Stir in the coffee.

3) Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold them in, then fold in most of the hazelnuts and the chopped chocolate, keeping a little back for the top of the cake. The mixture should be quite firm; you may have to slide it off the spoon with your finger. Put it into the lined cake tin and gently smooth the top, scattering over the last of the chocolate and nuts.

4) Bake for an hour and twenty minutes or until the cake is springy (I think I only cooked an hour or so), testing for doneness by spearing the center with a toothpick. It should come out clean without any raw cake mixture on it. Leave the cake for half an hour or so before cutting.

***The most time-consuming part of this recipe is de-skinning the hazelnuts. Hazelnuts are a pain to skin. Don’t get caught up in perfection. I recommend toasting the nuts for 10-15 minutes in a toaster oven and then wrapping in a kitchen towel to let steam for ~1 minute. Rub nuts in the towel to remove loose skins and cool completely. Another site recommended shaking the nuts in a sieve after toasting at 350 degrees for the same effect. [Or substitute for almonds of walnuts (lightly toasted).]

A Shakshuka Brunch – North African Fried Eggs

Ever since I received Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook for my birthday, Plenty, I’ve been obsessing. I think I could happily make a recipe from it each day until I’d made it through cover to cover. While I am not a vegetarian, I love cooking vegetarian fare and heartily believe it’s possible to develop deeply satisfying flavors without meat. It makes sense then that Ottolenghi’s book resonates for me as it is a “vegetables-only” cookbook (from a chef who is not a vegetarian) with recipes that combine unique flavors and techniques from around the world.

This recipe he calls Shakshuka, named for the man who served it in a tiny restaurant Ottolenghi found in Jaffa. This North African dish is fantastic and the author’s version shows once again his mastery of melding a multitude of flavors and spices such that no one flavor overpowers. That said, I think it’s the saffron that ultimately lends this fried egg dish a bit of an exotic aura.

I halved the recipe, and it serves a 4 or a generous 2. I don’t have more than one large cast iron dish, so was unable to fry up the portions individually as described in the recipe, but it was no problem to do all the eggs in one pan. I also didn’t have fresh tomatoes since they’re no longer in season, so I used a jar of my own canned tomatoes, plus I threw in a handful of cherry tomatoes I’d recently frozen (slightly defrosted in the microwave first). I didn’t have muscovado sugar on hand, so threw in a couple pinches of demerara sugar. Don’t let the list of ingredients deter you. Most don’t take long to prepare and you can start cooking down the onions while you prep the herbs. Serve with fresh hunks of toasted, crusty bread. Combined prepping and cooking time is about 40-45 minutes.

Recipe Ingredients:
Serves a generous 2.
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
Generous 1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
1 large onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into 3/4-inch strips
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 3/4-inch strips
2 tsps muscovado sugar (or 2 pinches of demerara)
1 bay leaf
3-4 sprigs thyme, leaves picked and chopped
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 Tbsp chopped cilantro, plus extra for garnish
3 ripe tomatoes roughly chopped (or 1 jar canned organic tomatoes chopped)
1/4 tsp saffron threads
pinch of cayenne peppers
salt and black pepper
up to 1/2 cup water
4 eggs

Directions:
1. In a large cast iron pan, dry roast the cumin seeds on high heat for 2 minutes. Add the oil and onions and saute for 5 minutes. Add the peppers, sugar, and herbs and continue cooking on high heat for 5 to 10 minutes to get a nice color.

2. Add the tomatoes, saffron, cayenne and some salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. During the cooking keep adding water so that the mix has a pasta sauce consistency. (I didn’t add much water here, but the canned tomatoes were already quite watery.) Taste and adjust the seasoning. It should be potent and flavorful. (You can prepare this mix well in advance.)

3. Remove the bay leaf, then divide the pepper mix among four deep frying pans, each large enough to take a generous individual portion. Place them on medium heat to warm up, then make two gaps in the peppers mix in each pan and carefully break an egg into each gap. Sprinkle with salt and cover the pans with lids. Cook on a very (!) gentle heat for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the eggs are just set. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

Yum! Below a photo from the cookbook showing the individually cooked portions.

Green Beans with Chard

This recipe is a nice variation on steamed green beans. The beans look pretty mingled with the chopped chard, and it makes a great side dish for dinner parties.

Ingredients:
1 generous bunch Swiss chard (about 1 1/2 pounds)
3-4 generous handfuls of green beans
2-3 shallots, outer skin removed and chopped
olive oil, butter
kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
lemon juice or vinegar
toasted pine nuts (optional)

Directions:
1. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil while you prepare the chard. Fill a bowl with ice water. Tear the leaves from the stems and wash thoroughly in two changes of water. Discard the stems or set aside for another purpose.

2. When the water comes to a boil, add the Swiss chard leaves. Boil 1 minutes (from the time the water comes back to a boil) until tender but still bright green, then remove from the water with a slotted spoon or skimmer and transfer to the ice water. Drain and squeeze out excess water. Chop coarsely and set aside.

3. Wash green beans, cut off ends and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces.

4. Steam green beans until bright green and slightly softened, about 4-6 minutes.

5. Heat 1 T olive oil and 2 T butter in saucepan, about 30 seconds. Saute shallots, ~1-2 minutes.

6. Toss chard, beans and butter/shallot mix. Season generously with salt and pepper. Toss with juice from 1/2 lemon. Add toasted pine nuts if desired.

(Alternative addition if in season: toss in 1 heirloom tomato, chopped.)

Fudgy Flourless Chocolate Cake

Flourless Chocolage Cake

I recently had company over for dinner and two guests had gluten allergies. My mom clued me in to this great flourless cake recipe. It’s so good, I would make it gluten allergies or no! I recommend using high quality chocolate, such as Ghirardelli’s. If strawberries aren’t in season, try making a simple, raspberry sauce, detailed below.
……………
This cake is a chocolaty confection that’s a cross between fudge and cake.  You can make it ahead and freeze until you need it.  It’s good with ice cream, but can also be covered with sweetened whipped cream and fresh strawberries.
Serves 10.

Ingredients:
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 cup ground almonds
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted (1 1/3 cup)
4 eggs, separated
1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups strawberries (or 1 cup frozen raspberries, defrosted)

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350°.  Coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray or butter and cocoa; shake off the excess cocoa.

2.  Beat butter until smooth.  Add 1 cup sugar and beat until creamy. Add ground nuts, chocolate and egg yolks;  beat thoroughly.

3.  Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Stir one-third of egg whites into chocolate mixture; gently fold in remaining egg whites.

4.  Scrape batter into prepared pan.  Bake 35-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out nearly clean.  Let cool in the pan 30 minutes, then release sides and slide onto a serving plate.

5.  Combine cream, vanilla and 2 tablespoons sugar; beat until soft peaks form. Top cake with cream and strawberries or raspberry sauce.

[To make the raspberry sauce. Simply blend 1 frozen raspberries with 1 tablespoon water and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Drizzle over cake and top with cream.]

Turkey, Farro and White Bean Soup

Turkey, farro and cannellini bean soupIt’s post turkey-time, and we all know what that means. Turkey soup! I decided to use up some of the sneakily and steadily growing grain stockpiles in my pantry by adding farro into the mix. What with the cannellini beans in the fridge, the soup practically made itself. Soup is the perfect way to use left-over ingredients from all the Thanksgiving shenanigans. Yet one more thing to give thanks for.

Serves 6-8.
Preparation time: ~20 minutes.
Cooking time: ~30 minutes.

Ingredients:
1 cup farro, thoroughly rinsed
2 quarts homemade turkey or chicken stock
1 Tablespoon olive oil
A few dashes cayenne pepper
1 yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, sliced
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups cooked cannellini beans (or one 15 oz can, beans rinsed)
1 zucchini sliced or diced
2-3 cups bite-size cooked turkey bits
Leaves of one large sprig of thyme
4 sprigs parsley
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
Freshly chopped chives for garnish

Directions:
1. Heat olive oil in large sauce pan over medium-high heat along with the cayenne pepper. Add onions and saute about 5 minutes. Add celery and saute another 5 minutes or so, until the onion is translucent and the celery is softening.

2. Add garlic and saute briefly until garlic smells fragrant, about 30 seconds to a minute. Stir in the tomato paste and keep stirring until well integrated with the vegetables.

3. Add stock and bring to a boil. Add farro and reduce heat to a low simmer. Stir in sliced carrots, and add the bay leaf and thyme. If using freshly made cannellini beans, add now as well. (If using canned, wait until step 5.) Add a dash of salt.

4. Cook at low simmer, partially covered 25 minutes, or until farro is cooked through.

5. Remove bay leaf and parsley sprigs. Add zucchini and turkey and heat until zucchini is just cooked and the turkey is warm, about 6 minutes.

6. Add salt if needed, and add generous fresh cracked pepper. Serve with chopped chives along with slices of toasted rye bread.

Turkey with Farro and Cannellini Beans Soup

A New-Found Love of Brussels Sprouts

Brussel Sprouts

I have a new fondness for brussels sprouts. For a long time, I swore I didn’t like brussels sprouts and refused to eat or cook them. That all changed when I finally agreed to try them in a dish at Beretta in San Francisco. Their recipe is absolutely delicious, and so I realized that it is indeed possible to create tasty brussels sprouts. It’s all in how they’re prepared. It seems the trick is to make sure they’re cooked through, but not overdone (like many vegetables), and they’re best when accompanied by other flavors, such as garlic, shallots, breadcrumbs, or Parmesan.

The first time I made them, I soaked them in cold water for about 10 minutes to ensure that they were clean. This may be overkill. It’s probably fine to simply wash them carefully, peeling off any leaves as necessary if they look dirty. However, I have learned that this step also helps them keep their vivid green color.

Next, I cut a small “X” in the bottom of each, to help them cook through. I steamed them for about 5 minutes, then removed them from the heat, let them cool slightly and cut them in halves. Next, I melted a pat of butter in a saucepan, sauteed minced garlic (1-2 cloves) and added the brussels sprouts, continuing to saute another few minutes. I tossed them with salt, freshly ground pepper, and a bit of freshly grated Parmesan before serving. That was all it took- tasty brussels sprouts!

Since then, I’ve been paring down the number of steps, and have been opting to simply saute the halved brussels sprouts for 7-10 minutes, skipping the steaming step. I may saute some minced shallots first or add in some minced garlic near the end, when they’re almost ready.

I recently discovered a few other recipes on Food52 that sound fabulous, although I have yet to try them. This recipe, Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Breadcrumbs and Lemon, calls for roasting and looks amazing. This Parmesan-Crusted Brussels Sprouts recipe is also a version that looks worth trying out.

I normally make green beans as a side dish for Thanksgiving, but this year it’s looking more and more like brussels sprouts might make it on the menu!