Posts tagged ‘Vegetarian’

Profiteroles

Profiteroles

You will know that school is going well and that I have retained my sanity when posts appear here on From My Table.  As you can tell, it was touch and go there for a while, since my last post was put up here almost a month ago.  But today I finished writing my first paper (and it was a doozy!) and I finally have time to catch up here.  To set your minds at ease, it isn’t that I haven’t been eating or cooking.  I have just found that I can either post on the blog or cook and photograph, but not both.  I have stored up quite a few meals in my camera, but my typing time (and sterling wit) has been expended elsewhere for the past month — namely, at school.

Here’s the good news: I have a killer dessert for you.  Made of chou dough (the same used for gougères), these are simple and scrumptious and versatile to boot.  The ingredients are probably in your fridge and on your counter right now, and they take a mere half hour to make.  Plus (as if you needed further incentive), profiteroles cut an elegant figure and thus can be served at your next dinner party.  If you can wait that long…

Profiteroles, from the Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts

(Serves 6-8)

1 cup water
5 Tbs. butter
1 c. unbleached white flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
4 large eggs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a saucepan, bring water and butter to a boil. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, and sugar. When water and butter boil, add the dry ingredients at once, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. Continue stirring until the mixture forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the pan, like so:

profiterole-dough-ball-stage

Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes. Then, beat the eggs in, one at a time. Each egg will make the mixture gloppy and slimy for a minute, but will turn back into smooth dough after some sustained stirring.

Profit-dough-gloppy

profit-smooth-dough

Lightly oil a baking sheet and/or line sheet with parchment paper. Using the wooden spoon or, if you’re fancy, a pastry bag, form mounds of dough 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Use about 1/4 cup of dough for each large puff or about 2 1/2 Tbs. for smaller puffs. Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees then reduce temperature to 350 (don’t open the oven!) and bake for 20 minutes more for smaller puffs or 25 minutes more for larger puffs.

profit-dough-balls

When the puffs are firm, turn off the oven, remove the puffs, and using a small sharp knife, score a horizontal cut about 2/3 of the way up each puff (this is much easier right out of the oven when the puffs are crispy). Return the puffs to the still-warm oven for about 15 minutes to let the residual heat dry them a bit. Remove and cool completely.

Profiterole

When ready to serve, fill as desired by cutting the top from each puff at its scored mark, mounding the filling inside and replacing the top.

Profiterole-Caramel

My favorite fillings include:
Brigham’s vanilla ice cream with Herrell’s hot fudge sauce and/or dulce de leche (I used Stonewall Kitchen)
Home-made ice cream (coconut? strawberry? mocha chip?)
Apple chunks sauteed in butter, sugar, and cinnamon.
Cannoli filling (sweet ricotta, mmmm…)

October 3, 2009 at 3:19 pm 2 comments

Panzanella Salad

panzanella

When I wrote my recent post about my “Hearty and Refreshing” Arugula Salad, I definitely struggled over the title.  Are “hearty” and “refreshing” oxymoronic?  And if so, how better to describe a salad which is at once light, zesty and supremely satisfying?  And now, I give you another data point to consider: a hearty salad with a cornucopia of flavors, all harmonizing beautifully, which both sates and invigorates.

Panzanella is a wonderful concept — using day-old or even stale bread to make a fantastic and substantial salad — and can be endlessly varied.  A former classmate of mine from Needham (another Sweet Basil adherent, perhaps?) offers both a traditional recipe and some ideas for variants on her blog, Two Blue Lemons.  As for me, I don’t see much need for tweaking with this recipe, which combines savory roasted garlic, tangy marinated onions, sweet mozzarella and lots of fresh herbs.  While both the garlic and the onions take their own time and instructions to make, I recommend making the full batches outlined below and saving any extras for future creations.

Panzanella, from The Sweet Basil Cookbook – [Printable Recipe]
(serves 4-6)

1 recipe balsamic vinaigrette


6 generous handfuls mixed greens
1 cup roasted garlic

2 (8 oz) balls fresh mozzarella cheese, diced
1 Tbs. marinated onions

2 vine-ripened tomatoes, wedged [I used cherry tomatoes]
2 roasted red peppers, sliced in 1/4 inch strips
1 c. kalamata olives, pitted
1 c. croutons

Fresh basil, chiffonade, for garnish
Fresh parsley, chiffonade, for garnish
Shaved cheese (such as Asiago or Parmesan) for garnish

Follow the instructions to prepare the balsamic vinaigrette. In a large bowl, toss the greens with one-half of the balsamic vinaigrette. Then, in a separate bowl, toss the remaining vinaigrette with the roasted garlic, mozzarella, marinated onions, tomatoes, roasted red peppers, olives and croutons. Add this mixture to the mixed greens, tossing to combine.

Evenly distribute the dressed greens among serving plates, and then garnish with the basil, parsley, and cheese. Serve immediately.

Balsamic Vinaigrette
In a mixing bowl, whisk together 2 Tbs. Dijon mustard and 1/3 c. balsamic vinegar. Once they are well combined, slowly whisk in 2/3 c. olive oil until it is incorporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Roasted GarlicRoasted Garlic
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place 4 garlic bulbs [each bulb yields approximately 1/2 cup roasted garlic] with their tops trimmed off by 1/2 inch, cut-side-up, in a casserole dish just big enough to hold the bulbs comfortably. Cover the garlic with 4 cups olive oil, cover the dish with aluminum foil, and then roast in the oven for 45 minutes, or until the garlic is soft. Remove the dish from the oven and allow the garlic to cool for 20 minutes. Remove the garlic from the oil, and then squeeze the garlic cloves out of the skin, reserving the oil for cooking.

Marinated onionsMarinated Onions
Combine 1 red onion, as thinly sliced as possible, 1 clove of garlic, minced (about 1 Tbs.), 1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil, 1 Tbs. fresh basil chiffonade, 1 Tbs. fresh parsley chiffonade, kosher salt and pepper in a large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to an airtight container.

Croutons
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Arrange 1 pound bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, on a baking sheet, drizzle with some olive oil, and then top with a few pinches of butter and a couple sprinkles of salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the bread is brown and crispy, flipping periodically to avoid burning.panz-bread
If serving the croutons immediately, sprinkle them with a bit of grated parmesan cheese; if saving the croutons for later, transfer them to an airtight container and store in a cool, dry place for up to 1 week.

Panzanella Salad

July 8, 2009 at 8:47 am 1 comment

Hearty and Refreshing Arugula Salad

Arugula and White Bean Salad
I don’t know how the weather looks where you are, but Massachusetts has been chilly and rainy for weeks now – not proper June behavior, to be sure. This morning we’ve been looking at intermittent bursts of sun and watching over our shoulder for the oncoming thunderclouds.  We’re hoping for summer to come on strong any day now, but she’s being reluctant.

This arugula salad is my response to this confused weather — an interpretive dance, if you will.  It sounds like it should be a summer salad but in fact the components are demonstratively wintery.  Hearty beans, parmesan cheese, and pickled onions all sound like they should be menu features in December or January, but with a substantial dose of lemon juice and the addition of cherry tomatoes, this salad is perfect for the confused days of June.

Easy Arugula and White Bean Salad

2-3 shallots
High-quality red wine vinegar
5 cups (baby) arugula greens
Cherry or grape tomatoes (optional)
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 lemon
High-quality extra virgin olive oil
14 oz. can of cannellini or other white beans
salt and pepper

Peel the shallots of their skin and slice crosswise as thinly as possible. Separate the rings and place in a ramekin or other small bowl. Pour red wine vinegar over the shallots to cover. Set aside.

Place the arugula (and cherry tomatoes, if using) in a large salad bowl and shave thin peels of parmigiano-reggiano into the bowl with a vegetable peeler, as much as you like. Then, using a grater or microplane, grate more parmesan over a separate medium-sized bowl until you have about a half a cup.

Dump the can of white beans into a strainer and rinse under running water until clean. Shake the strainer lightly to dispel excess water, and add the beans to the bowl with the grated parmesan. Gently fold the beans in with the parmesan, or lightly toss the bowl until the beans are coated.

Juice the whole lemon into the arugula salad, catching the seeds. Add a couple tablespoons of olive oil to the salad to lightly coat the leaves. Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper to taste, then toss the greens and parmesan shavings to distribute. Add the white beans on top of the green salad, then place the vinegar-soaked shallots on top of the beans. Sometimes I sprinkle a bit of the shallot-infused vinegar over the salad, but usually the lemon provides enough acidity on its own. Enjoy!

Best Arugula Salad

June 20, 2009 at 9:37 am 4 comments

Summer Updates and a Few Recipes

Champagne ToastI feel like it has been a very long while since I last posted here, and although only a little over a week has passed I feel I owe an apology!  Not that anyone hangs on my words here or anything, but I aim to keep up at least a two-posts-per-week rhythm.  As you know, I’ve been moving into temporary housing (cough)myparentshouse(cough) and am bracing for a second move, into our new apartment, in three weeks.  The stress of moving and of living out of cardboard boxes has been great – far greater than I imagined – but that did not prevent me from spending a wonderful time with my family over Memorial Day weekend (note the champagne!) or from getting in some bite-sized cooking for a baby shower this past Sunday.

Baby Onesies

Below I share some photos from these various events and the occasional short-hand recipe, for the summer is too wonderful and too fleeting to waste with your eyes glued to a cookbook.  Summertime is the perfect season for impromptu cookouts and improvised menus, spontaneous salads and kitchen-sink side dishes.  I cannot wait for the first call alerting us to fresh tuna on the dock, or the first bite of sweet August corn.  In the meantime, enjoy the below and share your summer creations in the comments.

Scallops Grillin'

First up was our Memorial Day weekend cookout at my father-in-law’s house.  He wrapped scallops in raw bacon and secured them with toothpicks (don’t forget to soak the toothpicks in water for a couple hours before so they don’t burn), then cooked them in a small disposable aluminum tray on the grill, just to render the fat, followed by a few minutes directly on the grill to get the charred marks and flavor.  These were followed by kebabs of swordfish and beef tips with mixed vegetables.

For the baby shower I attended I brought three dishes: an appetizer of caramelized fennel and onion goat cheese tarts, an artichoke-spinach-leek quiche, and mini cheesecake bites.

Fennel and Goat Cheese Tarts

For the appetizer I sliced a large fennel bulb and a large red onion very thinly.  In a pan I melted 3/4 stick of butter over med-low heat and then added the fennel and onion as well as about a tsp. of kosher salt (or more to taste).  Stirring occasionally, I let the vegetables soften then start to caramelize.  When they reached the color brown I was looking for (about 45 minutes later), I stirred in a tsp. of herbes de provence and let that cook for a minute or two before taking the pan off of the heat.  I did this part well ahead of time so that all I had to do on the day of the party was warm up the caramelized vegetables and assemble the tarts.  To assemble, I placed two packages of Athens mini “fillo” shells on a baking sheet and put a teaspoon or so of goat cheese in each shell (supermarket brand Chevron, shaped like a pyramid, worked great since it is so soft).  Then I topped each tartlette with the caramelized fennel/onion mixture and a couple of fresh thyme leaves and put them in the oven for about 8 minutes at 350 degrees Farenheit.  They came out perfectly and were a huge hit.

Cheesecake bites

Those phyllo shells are also great for desserts.  With an electric mixer, I blended one package of room-temperature cream cheese (I used low-fat but you don’t have to) with 1/4 cup sugar and a 1/4 tsp. of vanilla.  Then I mixed in one egg.  Fill the phyllo shells with the cheesecake batter then cook at 325 degrees for about 15 minutes or just until the filling sets.  After they cool to room temperature, I top the mini cheesecakes with fresh berries, chocolate sauce, or individual cherries from a can of cherry pie filling (gimme a break, okay?).  One warning – if these go into a refrigerator for any length of time the shells lose their crunchiness.

Artichoke filling

Finally the quiche.  Again I used this recipe for both the pie crust and the leeks – it’s a winner.  Then I mixed into the hot leeks about a 1/2 lb. of shredded baby spinach and a drained can of quartered artichoke hearts, stirring gently until the spinach had fully wilted.  I let the vegetable mixture cool while I mixed 5 eggs and 1 cup of half and half in a big bowl, then added about a cup of shredded parmesan cheese, some salt and some pepper.  I dumped the veggies into the egg mixture, making sure they were well blended, then poured it all into my prepared pie crust.  I baked the quiche at 400 degrees for about 50 minutes, slightly overcooking the quiche.  To avoid this, I would recommend doing what I did with the remainder of the quiche batter that didn’t make it into the crust — cook your quiche (crust or no) for about 40 minutes at 375 degrees or until the quiche is only slightly jiggly in the middle.

Crustless Quiche

June 9, 2009 at 6:42 pm 6 comments

Ramen Noodle Salad

ramen-saladLeftovers Week continues… After my fancy doctored-up ramen dinner for one, I had a half-package of ramen noodles with the seasoning pack, half a head of napa cabbage, and plenty of scallions, all of which had to go before The Big Move. Fate itself can be credited with my discovery of this recipe, for in the midst of packing I happened upon a small recipe binder.

This binder was a gift from my wedding shower which was cooking-themed (go figure!). Each guest brought a dish with them to the party, along with the recipe for the dish and a gift that related to the recipe. For example, one guest made sangria and my gift was the beautiful glass pitcher she served it in. Another friend made blueberry crumb cake and gave me a beautiful pottery berry bowl.

The shower hostess (my lovely cousin Audrey who herself is now engaged and deserving of reciprocity) collected everyone’s recipe cards and put them into a binder for me to have. While I have turned to the binder several times (whenever a strong food craving reminds me of something delicious I ate at the shower), I must somehow have missed the recipe for Chinese Salad sent in from my aunt who was unable to come last June. If she had attended, I am sure I would not have been able to forget this fun and flavorful dish!

As I flipped through the binder before putting it into a cardboard moving box with the other cookbooks, I happened to fall upon Aunt Robbie’s recipe card — serendipity. Three more items saved from the rubbish bin, and in such a delicious way. I must admit I balked at the quantities on the card, but I wasn’t serving a crowd (as the card promises), so I cannot say that the amounts listed below are incorrect. All I can say is that in addition to quartering the recipe I also probably reduced the proportion of butter and sugar listed here. Nevertheless, I will report the recipe as it was given to me – to do otherwise would be to reject the wisdom passed to the new bride and I don’t need any of that bad juju.

Chinese Salad
1 stick butter
2 packages chicken-flavored Ramen noodles, broken into tiny pieces (with 1 package of the enclosed seasoning)
1 cup slivered almonds
2 Tbs. sesame seeds
1 bunch bok choy
1 bunch scallions
1 head Napa Cabbage

 Dressing
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbs. soy sauce
3/4 cup olive oil

Melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add the noodle pieces, the 1 package of ramen seasoning, the almonds and the sesame seeds – saute until almonds and/or noodles just begin to brown.

ramen-saute

Slice the vegetables into thin slices or julienned strips and toss in a salad bowl with the noodle saute.

Whisk together the cider vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce, then mix in the olive oil slowly while whisking. Toss the salad with the dressing.

In the manner of all lovely handed-down recipes on index cards, there is a note: “Serves a crowd and is always a hit!”

May 31, 2009 at 11:01 am 5 comments

Doctored-up Ramen

Ramen Noodles

A cookbook author and an editor/correspondent for Gourmet, Nina Simonds has shared her philosophy about Asian cooking and ingredients widely.  One of her methods for spreading the word is through her “Dinner Doctor” character, who goes around solving common challenges to making delicious, healthy dinners.  She can be seen on Oprah and her own website breaking down people’s extensive excuses – I am too tired at the end of the day, I don’t know how, it’s too expensive to buy groceries, I have to eat takeout to get to my fortune cookie, etc…

My second foray into Nina’s book, Spices of Life, is a healthful twist on doctored-up ramen.  Ramen noodles, the staple of college dorm rooms everywhere, answer almost all of the above excuses (you’ll still have to get your own fortune cookie – sorry – but Confucious says necessity is the mother of invention).  Ramen are super easy and low effort (add water and stir) and cost about 20 cents a package.  Granted, this dinner-doctored version is a bit more high maintenance, but it is also far FAR better tasting.  Toss out your “flavor pak” and check this recipe out:

Stir-Fried Ramen Noodles with Vegetables, from Nina Simonds’ Spices of Life

(serves 6)

ramen-mise3/4 lb. fine dried Japanese ramen, Chinese egg noodles or angel hair pasta
1/2 small head Chinese (Napa) cabbage (about 3/4 pound)
2 Tbs. virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
1 tsp. dried chile flakes, or to taste
2 medium red onions, peeled and cut into thin slices (about 2 1/2 cups)
2 carrots, peeled, ends trimmed and grated
2 Tbs. rice wine or sake

Noodle Sauce (mixed together):
5 Tbs. soy sauce
2 Tbs. mirin (or 2 Tbs. rice wine or sake plus 1 1/2 Tbs. sugar)
1 1/2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
3 Tbs. soy sauce

2 Tbs. toasted sesame seeds

Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Drop the noodles into the water and stir to prevent them from sticking together. Bring the water again to a boil and cook 4 1/2 to 5 minutes, or until the noodles are just cooked. (Since the cooking time varies with the type of noodles, refer to the package for the recommended time.) Drain the noodles in a colander and rinse under warm running water. Drain again and set aside.

ramen-onions

Cut the cabbage leaves from the stem. Trim the leafy tip ends and discard. Rinse the leaves thoroughly and drain. Cut them into julienne strips about 1/4 inch wide, separating the stem sections from the leafy sections.

ramen-cabbage

Heat a wok or a heavy skillet, pour in the oil, and heat over medium-high heat until hot. Add the ginger, garlic, chile flakes, and onions, and stir-fry for about a minute. Cover and cook for several minutes, until the onions are soft. Add the cabbage stem shreds, carrots, and rice wine. Stir-fry lightly, cover, and cook for about 1 1/2 minutes, until almost tender. Add the leafy cabbage shreds, toss, cover, and cook for a minute or two. Pour in the Noodle Sauce, bring to a boil, and add the noodles and the sesame seeds. Toss lightly to coat the noodles and vegetables and spoon onto a serving platter. Serve immediately.

Fancy Ramen Noodles

(As you can see from the pictures, I sauteed some shrimp to mix in, but as-is it is a vegetarian main course.)

May 20, 2009 at 8:06 pm 2 comments


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