Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Highest Salad Honor

My mom might not be the greatest cook, but she has impeccable taste. Not sure if something's high quality? Just ask Mom. So when today, after tasting my mizuna and sprouts salad with mint-garlic dressing, she proclaimed it was "one of the best salads I've ever had," you can imagine my satisfaction and pride.

Seeing as this dressing passed the "mom test," I'd love to share it with my dear readers. Unfortunately, I didn't pay much attention to exact measurements as I made it (big surprise) - but if you follow the general rule of one part acid to three parts oil, which holds up for all classic salad dressings, you should be fine. And, as always, follow your taste buds.

Mint and garlic dressing

*Note: For this dressing, I use garlic scapes (the spirally plant that grows out of a garlic bulb), since they are now in season and plentiful at the farmer's market. I like how their delicate taste and soft color add to the vibrant aroma and look of the dressing. Regular garlic cloves will work just fine; just substitute one large clove for 2 garlic scapes.

- juice of one lemon
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 bunch fresh mint leaves, chopped
- 2 garlic scapes, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce, or to taste

Combine all ingredients except oil and soy sauce in a blender until liquified. With blender running, slowly pour in oil and blend until the dressing has emulsified (is creamy and uniform). Lastly, blend in the soy sauce and adjust dressing to your liking, by adding more soy sauce, mustard, vinegar, etc.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Main ingredient: Time

What do homemade wild-yeasted bread and sprouts have in common: lots of time sitting around looking inedible. The sprouts, from overnight soak to final sunning, took 5 days (not too bad). The bread, from the initial mixing of water and rye flour to the fateful bake: a full week. Of course, they've got nothing on my 3 week sauerkraut!

But for now, the bread and the sprouts are on parade:

After 2 hours in a 350 degree oven, this came out with a satisfying crust and a moist crumb, and the most excellently dark, sweet and sour taste. Better than I had hoped for. Next time, I'll try a rye/wheat mix, because the pure rye is really heavy. As my friend aptly described it: a rye brownie!

And the alfalfa sprouts! Not much to say by way of ingredients (just alfalfa seeds + water + sun + love), but get this: I yielded nearly four cups of packed sprouts from just 2 tablespoons of seeds. Kinda reminds me of those little sponge animals I used to throw in the bathtub...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

What's cooking?

While the majority of bloggers probably engage in this egotistical act in order to satisfy a narcissistic urge to let the general public in on their every thought and desire, I oftentimes blog for this simple reason: I hate to eat alone. When I cook a meal, the idea of just consuming it - destroying the evidence, in a sense - without sharing it with others seems ludicrous. However, I find myself in this situation quite a bit, working city dweller that I am.

So tonight, like so many other nights, I want to let you in on some of the activity that's been going down in my little kitchen:

We'll start with last weekend:

I roasted a chicken, brushed with olive oil, garlic, chili pepper flakes, rosemary, lemon juice, and salt, until the skin was crispy and the aroma had me almost licking the oven door:

Next, I started fermenting cabbage to make this outrageously PINK sauerkraut (a fine demonstration of our rich NYC cult-shaah):
This weekend, although I spent almost every waking moment working in some commercial kitchen or another, I still couldn't resist the urge to dabble in my own cooking projects so I:

roasted some peppers...

and made veggie/nut/seed pate, then put both on my made-in-Brooklyn flatbread and rolled that up with farmer's market red romaine and feta for lunch:

And since I was on such a "roll," I decided tonight to make some minty, garlicky meatballs and wrap those up with my colorful bounty of veg:

Ahhh, I feel much better! Thanks for humoring my voyeuristic kitchen confession.

Up next: the results of my garlic brining, alfalfa sprouting, and sourdough starting!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

New and Old

I love those random dinners that come together so perfectly out of a few leftovers and something fresh and new. Tonight we had:

Warm cauliflower salad with vinaigrette and...

Freshly-picked rosemary along with...

Leftover lentil stew over brown rice.

Here's what brought it all together (seriously delicious - have faith in the fish!):

Anchovy garlic vinaigrette
(enough for 1 two-person salad)

- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 anchovy filets (oil-packed)
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped

Using a mortar and pestle, smash the garlic and anchovies together until a paste is formed. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the mustard and red wine vinegar until uniform. Slowly whisk in the oil and continue whisking until creamy and smooth. Stir in the rosemary. Serve on steamed veggies (like cauliflower!), salad greens, or even pasta (this is the best: thin the sauce out with some of the pasta water, and top with a bit of freshly grated parmigiano reggiano).

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Bringing it down a notch

After going a little loco as of late with my hectic work/school/internship schedule, which includes a lot of fancy-schmancy commercial kitchen cooking, I decided tonight to bring things back to basics and make a simple impromptu lentil stew. I hope to refocus the next few posts on food that highlights simplicity, freshness, and healthfulness. It's about time I took it down a notch.

This is the sort of easy weeknight dinner you can start 1 hour in advance and completely ignore most of the time it's on the stove. I used a Moroccan-esque spice combination of cumin, cinnamon, and paprika, but go ahead and dabble in your own herbal hocus-pocus, substituting out any of the aromatics for others. This iteration of the dish goes well over basmati or brown (or brown basmati!) rice.

Lentil Stew
(serves 2-3)

- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 2 teaspoons grated ginger
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon each: cumin, cinnamon, paprika
- 1 cup brown lentils
- 3 cups plus 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon dark miso
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 3 handfuls fresh leafy greens (spinach, arugula, tat soi, etc.)
- salt to taste

Heat the olive oil in a medium pot, tilting to coat, and add the garlic, ginger, and onion. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until softened and fragrant.

Add the lentils and 3 cups water and bring to a boil, covered. Lower heat and simmer, partially covered, about 30 minutes. Dissolve miso in a dish with remaining 1/2 cup water and add to the pot, stirring to incorporate. Continue to simmer, partially covered, another 20 minutes or so, until the lentils are softened but not falling apart. Season with salt to taste (you won't need much, since the miso adds saltiness).

Just before serving, stir in the peas first, mix briefly, and fold in the greens. Cook until peas are thawed and bright green and greens are just wilted. Ladle into bowls over rice and enjoy hot.