Saturday, June 5, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Wild Salmon with Organic Baby Carrot-Ginger Puree

My original plans for this dish involved making a celery root puree, which is something I have often enjoyed at restaurants (recently inspired by a great dinner at Mas Farmhouse in Manhattan for my husband's birthday).  I had ordered a large celery root from Fresh Direct recently and what arrived was a large root vegetable that looked like a brain.  I didn't have time to figure out how to turn it into a puree during the week so I went for a simpler organic baby carrot puree this time with the salmon.  I'll do the celery root tomorrow night with scallops.

My plans for this dish were to showcase wild organic salmon with some fresh seasonal vegetables.  I decided to use organic baby carrot for the puree, which I prepared with ginger and a bit of cinnamon.  Then, I added local fresh golden beets from the organic market.  I am a huge beet fan, but I truly love golden beets because they're just as delicious and sweet but they don't turn everything in creation magenta so they are much easier to work with.  They are also perfectly in season this time of year.  If you prefer, I think this dish would also taste great with steamed asparagus.

Sasha's Salmon with Organic Baby Carrot - Ginger Puree
2 filets (7 oz each) or organic fresh salmon
16 oz (one bag) of organic baby carrots
3 tsp of minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 lemon
white wine to taste
2 golden beets
small amount of arugula

To prepare the puree, cook the carrots in your steamer until soft. Puree in a blender or food processor with the cream, chicken broth and ginger.  Stir in the cinnamon to taste and set aside.

To prepare the salmon, I simply cut up a lemon and baked the fish (at about 350F) with sliced lemon on top, and poured some white wine over the top of the fish.

To prepare the beets, I boiled them for about half an hour.  Then, I cooled them in some cold water and rubbed the skin off and sliced the golden beets.  If you are using asparagus instead, you can simply steam the asparagus and add a bit of lemon juice.  I plated the fish in the puree with the beets, and garnished with a bit of fresh arugula.

Salmon on FoodistaSalmon

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Charlene's Kitchen in Philadelphia: Asparagus, Ham, and Parsley Quiche

I picked up my first CSA share of the season this past Saturday at Greensgrow Farms! Included in my share (which I pick up every other week) were a huge tub of ripe strawberries, dark green kale, a bunch of scallions, a sizable head of Boston lettuce, radishes, two small containers of the most delicious yogurt I've ever eaten (thank you, Pequea Valley Farm), 4 oz. of a sharp chive chèvre spread made by Shellbark Hollow Farm, four lovely green zucchinis, and, the topic of this post, asparagus! This is my third summer participating in the Greensgrow CSA and I love it. The produce and dairy products come from small, often family-run farms in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey, as well as Greensgrow's own urban farm that happens to be in my neighborhood. I feel good supporting local farmers and eating according to the seasons. The food is fresher and honestly tastes better than supermarket offerings. And coming home with a tote bag containing produce that I may not have chosen on my own (radishes? leave your preparation ideas in the comments, please...) presents a good menu-planning challenge.

To eat up my bountiful share this week I've already made zucchini fritters, kale with bacon and garlic, and a summer salad with Boston lettuce, strawberries, goat cheese, and mint from my back yard. Next I tried an asparagus, ham, and parsley quiche. My default method of preparing asparagus is to coat it in olive oil, salt, and pepper and throw it on the grill. I wanted to try something different this time, so I found a tasty-sounding recipe from Metropolitan Bakery, yet another amazing Philadelphia establishment that I love supporting.

The recipe was easy to put together, although, as usual, I had trouble with my pie crust. The flavors go very nicely together. I was worried that the ham and Gruyère cheese would be too salty, but the quiche actually had a bit of sweetness, probably from the heavy cream. The result was quite rich and buttery, so next time I might try a lower-fat crust, such as the one Eric posted in his quiche recipe.

Next time you come home with a bag of CSA produce you need to eat relatively quickly, try making a quiche!

Recipe, from The Metropolitan Bakery Cookbook by James Barrett and Wendy Smith Born (Rodale, 2003, p. 130):

pie pastry
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 cup granulated sugar
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup plus 1 Tb. cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/8 cup plus 1/4 Tb. vegetable shortening, frozen
5 Tbs. ice water

1 1/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup milk
4 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

12 asparagus spears, ends trimmed
1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 cup diced smoked ham
1/2 cup coarsley chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 cups shredded Gruyère cheese

1) Prepare pie pastry by combining flour, sugar, and salt in a mixer bowl. Using mixer, add butter until it resembles a coarse meal. Cut frozen shortening into small cubes and add until evenly distributed. Gradually add ice water, 1 Tb. at a time, just until pastry begins to come together, looks crumbly but feels moist.

2) Gather pastry gently into a ball. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and flatten into a thick disk. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

3) Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line 8 1/2 x 2 inch tart pan or pie plate with pastry. Cover with parchment paper and pie weights. Bake on center rack for 15-20 minutes or until the sides of the pastry are set.

4) Remove pie weights and parchment paper and return to oven for another 8-10 minutes or until bottom of the pastry is set. Cool completely on a wire rack.

5) Prepare custard by whisking together the cream, milk, egg yolks, eggs, salt, and pepper. Set aside.

6) Prepare filling by tossing the asparagus, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper together on a baking pan. Roast for 8 minutes at 375ºF or until tender. Cool, then slice asparagus into half-inch pieces and combine with the ham in a bowl.

7) Spread the asparagus and ham mixture in the crust and sprinkle with the parsley and Gruyère.

8) Reduce oven temperature to 325ºF and line a large baking tray with parchment paper. Place the tart pan or pie plate on the tray and gently pour the custard mixture over the filling.

9) Bake on center rack for about 45 minutes, until custard is set and the top is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.


Sasha's Kitchen: Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

Chocolate is one of my favorite things in the world, whether it is pure dark chocolate (dark chocolate is my favorite), chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate cake or chocolate fudge.  Most of the time, I simply can't resist a bit of chocolate and any dessert that is chocolate based is usually pretty enticing. I love the combination of chocolate and peanut butter, which I have incorporated in other desserts in the past.

Last night, I tried out a new recipe for chocolate peanut butter brownies.  The recipe was based on a recipe from the Everything Chocolate Cookbook, a gift from my wonderful cousin Alicia. I revamped the recipe a bit to get the brownies the way I want them, and really used the recipe as an inspiration.  I might do a few things differently next time - these were excellent cake like brownies, but next time perhaps I will adjust the eggs to make them chewier. They were a hit with my husband, too and satisfied that chocolate craving.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies
Chocolate Portion
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 cup flour1 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs

Peanut Butter Portion
1/2 cup peanut butter (I used Brad's Organic Peanut Butter), which I am sure is named after my husband Brad :)
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
2 T flour
3 T brown sugar
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 325. Grease a 8 inch brownie pan with PAM. Melt the chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler over hot (not boiling) water, stirring continuously. Remove from the heat.

Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder.

Blend the sugar into the chocolate mixture.  Combine the vanilla and eggs. Sir in the dry ingredients until just lightly blended.

In a separate bowl, cream together the ingredients for the peanut butter portion.

Spread the chocolate batter in the pan and top with the peanut butter mixture.  Really, I should have not added all the chocolate at once (only about 3/4) and swirled the peanut butter portion and then added the remaining chocolate.  But I got a little over excited and added the chocolate all at once and then the peanut butter portion on top.  It still tasted pretty good, though.  Bake the brownies for 45 minutes  and allow to cool before cutting for about 30 minutes.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Veal Piccata

I've been traveling for the holiday weekend, hence the lack of cooking and new blog posts on my part.  I didn't make anything new this weekend either because Brad and I were on the road. But I do have plans to make some chocolate peanut butter mascarpone brownies tonight or tomorrow now that we are back.  In the meantime, here's a great Italian recipe that I made last week which was a big hit with my husband, veal piccata.  This dish can, like most Italian classics, also be made with chicken, but I like it better with veal. Essentially it is a very lightly breaded lemon chicken in a white wine chicken stock broth.  It is good with a variety of side dishes, from pasta to sugar snap peas to potatoes to even diced tomatoes.

Veal Piccata
1/2 cup flour
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
6 veal scallops (about 1 lb)
1 1/2 T canola oil
5 T butter (you can substitute canola oil for a healthier dish, but the butter adds flavor)
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 cloves garlic (diced)
3 T of lemon juice
2 T chopped parsley

Combine the flour, 1 1/2 tsp of salt and the pepper in a bowl.  Quickly dredge the veal scallops in the seasoned flour mixture, shaking to remove any excess flour.

Heat the pan and add 1 1/2 T of the butter to the skillet.  Sear the veal until golden brown on all sides, about 45 seconds to 1 minute on each side. Set aside.

Add the wine to the pan and bring to a boil.  When the wine has reduced by half, add the chicken stock, diced garlic and lemon juice.  Cook for 3-5 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly. Add the remaining salt, butter and parsley and return the scallops of veal to the pan. Cook as desired for another minute or two.  Serve with fresh parsley and the side dish of your choice.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Eric's Kitchen in NJ: Pan-seared Salmon Salad

The first time I had a dish similar to this was at one of my favorite bars in Jersey City, Iron Monkey. I think it was a special on their menu a few months ago, when I still lived there. It paired capers and green olives (which I normally don't like), with mandarin oranges and pan seared salmon and the contrast of flavors was fantastic. This was my first attempt to recreate the dish and I think it came out very nicely.

Ingredients (served 4):
3 salmon fillets
4 bowls worth of spring greens (half a gigantic package)
1 small bottle of capers
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
most of a jar of whole food's garlic stuffed green olives
about 6 peeled mandarin oranges split into sections
Chef Prudhomme's seafood magic
Some cracked black pepper

Dressing (all measurements are approximations I just add things until it tastes good!):
1 Lemon's worth of juice
1/4 cp. Olive Oil
1 tbsp White Wine Vinegar
1 tsp Pure maple Syrup (you can use sugar or honey as well)

Basically I mixed the dressing ingredients in a container until they tasted good with a slice of cucumber and then pan-seared the salmon in a little butter and olive oil, flipping it once and taking out of the pan when firm, making sure not to overcook it. I dislike dry or overcooked salmon quite a bit. In the end the sweet citrus flavors contrasted very nicely with the more bitter flavors of the capers an olives and it was a great summer dish. I also highly recommend some fresh mandarin or clementine oranges instead of canned ones.
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