Thursday, May 30, 2013

Fresh Peas with Lettuce, Spring Onions, & Garlic

Today's dish is a modification of another one of my favorites from Andrea Reusing's Cooking In The Moment cookbook. Fresh peas are another one of springs delights (yes, I said delights) and the shelling can be enjoyable if you sit outside with a cocktail nearby (or in our technological age, you can just do it in front of the TV, which is what I did tonight :P).

Once you've shelled them, make this quick dish and serve it with your favorite protein. For my friend's birthday, I served it alongside grilled Pork Chops with a Rhubarb Cherry Sauce:

Here's what you need:
  • About 2 cups of shelled fresh peas (you can use frozen if you can't get fresh)
  • 1 small head of leaf lettuce washed, dried and torn into pieces
  • 2 very large or 4 medium spring onions
  • 1-2 medium cloves spring garlic depending on how much you like your garlic
  • 2 T ghee
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
Slice the white and light green parts of the spring onions into thin discs and saute them over medium-low heat in 1 T of ghee in a large pan. While they soften, mince your garlic cloves and when the spring onions are soft and beginning to caramelize, add the garlic and stir. After 1 minute, add your peas and a sprinkle of kosher salt and cook until tender (depending on size, somewhere between 3-6 minutes). Once the peas are soft, add the remaining tablespoon of ghee and remove from the heat. Toss the lettuce on top, sprinkle with salt & pepper and toss so that the lettuce wilts and the butter melts. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Grilled Broccoli with Garlic & Anchovies

A friend of mine turned the Big 4-0 this Memorial Day so I offered to open some nice wine and make him dinner. In preparation, I bought up every spring vegetable and fruit that looked the slightest bit appealing at the market the day before figuring I'd sort out the rest of what I was making (asparagus had to be on the menu) once I got home.

I came home with strawberries, rhubarb, asparagus, spring onions, peas, leaf lettuce, broccoli, leeks, and mushrooms, many of which were served in some form at dinner. I couldn't cook it all though and one thing that didn't get made until tonight was the broccoli.

One of the first cookbooks I reach for for inspiration when the farmers market is in full swing is Andrea Reusing's Cooking In The Moment: A Year of Seasonal Recipes. Her cookbook epitomizes what I love - a few high quality ingredients cooked simply to make a beautiful dish, and her recipes never fail to produce delicious food.

So tonight I set to making the grilled broccoli with parsley, garlic, & anchovies from her cookbook, minus the parsley since that did not make it on to the gargantuan list of things I brought home. I cut the broccoli into long thin florets, tossed them with olive oil and put them on the grill. While they were grilling, I mixed together some anchovies, mashed garlic, lemon zest, and chile flakes. When the broccoli was done, I tossed it in the sauce and served:

The dish was delicious and packs a real flavor punch. Maybe not something to make for a hot date, but definitely something I'd serve to guests at a dinner party. I had it alongside a grilled ribeye and mushrooms and spring onions with balsamic that I cooked in foil packets on the grill.

Stay tuned, we have a lot more produce to get through and since I haven't blogged in over a week, I feel like I've got to make up for lost time! :)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Grilled This & That & This &...

Look, let me tell you how it's gonna' be. I bought a grill. I love grilled food. It's the right season for grilling. So I'm going to grill a lot of shit and post pictures of it here. You good with that? Okay then, read on...

I had in my head that I was going to make one of my favorite repeat spring dishes to use the spring onions and asparagus I scored at the farmer's market, but I changed my mind at the last minute and decided it would be a great idea to add a steak and grill it all, so that's what I did! But first, I stopped by my CSA farm earlier today to pick some strawberries and immediately knew that I wanted to have a spinach salad with them. I tossed the spinach and sliced strawberries with some shaved red onion, pecans, black pepper and balsamic vinaigrette:

After the salad, I got to grilling. If there is any one thing that is better than grilled meat, it may be grilled onions. The two together, well heaven:

I'm sure I've said this before, and I'm sure I'll say it again, but if there is one thing I can do properly in the kitchen it's do justice to a good steak by cooking it the perfect medium rare. This particular steak is a ribeye I picked up at a "new" (really it's old, but I've only just discovered it) family owned meat market called Boarman's. The steak isn't local, or completely pastured, but it is from small family owned farms and cut in house and it was delicious.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Grilled Tequila Mahi Mahi & Asparagus

My farmer's market opened for the season last weekend, one of the things I look forward to all year, but I was in New Orleans so I wasn't able to attend and as a result, this past week was spent working my way through leftovers in the freezer. Which meant that this weekend, I HAD to get to the market. I was originally slated to pick up a new foster today, which is the day of my market, so I headed into the city yesterday to visit one of my favorite "special occasional" markets, the 14th & U Farmer's Market. And when I learned that I wouldn't be picking up my foster (he has some medical issues that require treatment so he's staying in PA for the time being), I went to my market this morning as well (yep, I'm a bit of a farmer's market junkie). Between the two, I managed to score some great stuff, including 2 spring essentials: asparagus and strawberries.

On my way home, I realized that I wanted nothing more than to grill that asparagus. Unfortunately, I don't (well, didn't) own a grill. That's technically due to the fact that it's against my condo regulations because it's a fire hazard, but I love the convenience and flavor you get from a grill so I stopped at Lowe's on my way home and picked up a new tabletop gas grill (don't judge me - my fire extinguisher was sitting next to the grill the entire time!).

I had some mahi mahi defrosted in my fridge that I had planned to serve with the asparagus and some mango salsa, but the grill changed things. I started searching for a good grilled mahi mahi recipe and came across this one from Alton Brown and knew immediately it was the winner.

For the most part, I followed the recipe for the marinade as outlined, mixing 1/4 cup each of freshly squeezed lime and orange juices and tequila (I used Quervo silver), diced red onion (1/2 c, or about 1/2 of a small onion), & minced jalapeno (1 T, or about 1 small pepper), but I did alter the sugar - using 1/8 c of coconut palm sugar in place of the 1/4 c of brown sugar.

The fish marinated for about 2 1/2 hours, after which I dried it and basted it with olive oil. The cleaned and trimmed asparagus got tossed with evoo and s&p as well and both got grilled. While they were grilling, I reduced the leftover marinade in a pot on the stove. Here are the fruits of my grilling labor:

Yeah, there's a reason the grill I bought was only $36. I'll have to learn to work around the hot spots. But bottom line, my dinner was simple and delicious, my two favorite things. Here's my plate:

My only regret? That there wasn't more of the "chutney" that resulted from reducing the marinade. I had less than 1 1/4 lbs of fish to start with (versus the 2 lbs the recipe calls for) so the liquid was more than sufficient for marinating, but next time I'll double it to have more sauce for the fish.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Placeholder Post

I just realized it's been a week since I posted. And sadly I've got nothing for you tonight except a note to say that I was in New Orleans eating the crap out of some food (and let's be honest, drinking the crap out of some wine and bourbon) and tomorrow I'm headed to the National Zoo for my annual day of volunteering and then attending their big fundraiser, Zoofari. I have some good pictures to share from my trip and will be back to cooking on Friday so stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Mexican Beef & Ginger Carrot Slaw

I'm a Nom Nom whore. There, I said it. But, with recipes like her Oven-Braised Mexican Beef how can I not be? This is yet another recipe that is SO simple, but results in seriously delicious food.  Have you looked at the recipe? No? Well, go look at it. Beef, a few things those of us with a well stocked kitchen have on hand (stock, fish sauce, garlic, onion, tomato paste), and a jar of salsa. Slice an onion, season the meat, and pretty much dump everything in your pot and then go do something else for 3 hours. You don't even need to brown the meat!! I realize I seem excessively enthusiastic about that, but browning meat is annoying, and messy, and time consuming, and drilled into your head as a necessary step if you read anything about cooking.

Anywho, I served it alongside her Slaw with Tangy Carrot Ginger Dressing (don't skip the slivered almonds unless you can't eat nuts as they really add something) and the result was delicious:

By the way, I did not edit that photo. Yes, there are still harsh shadows from the shit lighting situation in my kitchen, but somehow I did manage a decent exposure and the depth of field I wanted. I realize it's not the prettiest plate and Gourmet won't be calling me anytime soon to offer me a job, but this is progress.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Weekend Update

A really fun weekend meant not too much time to cook or blog (and still no working out, more on that in a later post). Friday evening was spent listening to live music with a friend and tasting the new releases at the winery where I work.

I loved the Asian Chicken Thigh recipe from Nom Nom so much that I made them again, this time with skin-on, bone-in thighs, which did work a bit better. I also made the Avocado Slaw from PaleOMG. The latter was tasty, but even after amping it up with some extra lime juice and red pepper flakes and adding chopped cilantro, we felt it needed something. Next time I will add some minced jalapeno.

Saturday was spent at my Crossfit Box for the Jason Anthony Santora Memorial WOD. All I will say is that this was an incredibly well run event supporting two great causes and it was a ton of fun to be back at the box with my fellow Crossfitters. After a day of volunteering (and admittedly some drinking) a few of us carried on the fun at a restaurant down the street.

Here I am proudly supporting my new tank (and sunburn) from the fundraiser for PT Monday morning:

Sunday was devoted to giving my dogs some much needed exercise and attention. We hit up one of our favorite local spots, the Patuxent Wildlife Research Refuge to hike and play in the water. Skye especially enjoyed her romps in the water chasing sticks with her bestie, Ty. Here she is striking her meerkat pose:

That didn't leave much in the way of time for food prep, plus I was pretty exhausted so I took a nap and ate leftovers. However, on the agenda for this week are Nom Nom's Mexican Beef and Ginger Carrot Slaw and Mahi Mahi with Mango Salsa so stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Maple Lard Pecan Scones

Scones. Damn if I don't love 'em, especially with a cup of coffee. So it's totally reasonable that when I came home to eat lunch after PT today, I also decided to "whip up" a batch of scones. The last time I made paleo scones I used almond flour, but I knew this time I wanted to use coconut flour so I went searching for a good recipe. Elana's Pantry is always one of the first places I look for pastry recipes and once again, she did not disappoint as I found this recipe for Paleo Chocolate Chip Scones.

I made a few modifications and bam! Maple lard pecan scones:

You know what I learned today? Coconut flour gives baked goods a very light, airy texture. That's why the magic brownies were so light and cakey. And that's why these are less dense than your usual scone, although not so much to be muffin-like in texture.

So what modifications did I make? I subbed lard for the vegan shortening, 3 T of Grade B maple syrup in place of the honey (you could do 1 T more or less to suit your tastes), and 1/3 c of chopped toasted pecans in place of the chocolate chips. I used a 1/8 c measuring cup to portion out "mini-scones" and baked them for about 16 minutes.