Sunday, November 25, 2012

Leeks Vinaigrette

If I am home alone for lunch or dinner, I often turn to this addictive recipe for leeks vinaigrette.  It has everything I love in a recipe: Ease, bold flavors and a focus on the main vegetable.  I'll often prepare it and lap up the entire pan myself in one sitting.  But don't be fooled by my gluttony, it serves as a great side-dish to grilled white fish, roasted chicken or even a quiche at brunch.  Since it can be enjoyed warm or at room temp, it's perfectly versatile. 

It is a messy dish, bright and bold in your mouth but all slopped together on your plate, and that's a large part of the charm.

If you are anything like me, when you read Molly of Orangette's blog-post, you'll wish that it had been you living in Paris, and that it was your host mother preparing the original dish.

Note about cleaning: If you cook with leeks ever, the recipe below includes leek cleaning instructions that were kitchen-changing for me.

Leeks Vinaigrette
Courtesy of Orangette 
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • ¼ tsp. salt, or more to taste
  • 6 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small to medium shallot, minced
  • 2 lb. small leeks (about 7 or 8) 
  • Optional garnish: Finely chopped bacon or finely chopped hard-boiled egg
  • In a small bowl, whisk 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar with the mustard and salt. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Taste and add the remaining vinegar if  it needs it. Mix in the shallots and set aside.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and salt it REALLY well. The key, as Molly puts it, is that it should taste like sea water.
  • While the water comes to a boil, trim off almost the entire root of the leek keeping the stalk in tact. Remove the dark green leafy parts, leaving just white and pale green parts. 
  • Next, for the best leek cleaning trick ever, I've copy and pasted exactly from Molly : "Starting about 1 inch from the root end, so as to keep the white part intact, cut lengthwise down the middle of the leek. Wash the leeks well under running water, flushing any dirt from between the layers." 
  • Add the leeks to the boiling water and cook for about 10 minutes until they are nearly falling apart. 
  • Drain the leeks well, transfer them to a clean kitchen towel or paper towels on the counter and blot dry. 
  • While still hot toss them with a generous amount of the dressing.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature, with more dressing spooned on top and a pinch or two of salt. For a fuller meal, garnish with bacon and/or chopped egg.
leeks vinaigrette

Monday, November 19, 2012

Soba Noodles with Kale & Walnuts

Every home cook should have a few "deceptively simple" recipes in their arsenal and this one should become one of yours.  It may not photograph terribly well, but sure is delicious and it is super, and I mean SUPER, simple to make.

Hearty and rich kale. Walnuts for depth and protein. Soba noodles as a lovely nutty alternative to regular pasta. Cayenne and cheese together? Yes please. 

Soba Noodles with Kale & Walnuts
Serves two
  • 2 cups chopped kale
  • 6 oz of soba noodles
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Olive Oil or Peanut Oil
  • Bring two pots of salted water to boil, a large and a small
  • Add kale to the small pot, cook for 5 minutes, and drain
  • Meanwhile, cook the soba noodles according to package, and drain keeping 1 cup of the cooking water
  • Toss noodles with 1 tablespoon oil
  • In a frying pan, saute chopped walnut in oil until golden (2-3 minutes)
  • Add kale, walnuts, salt, pepper, pinch of cayenne, noodles and 1/4 cup of cooking water to the pan. Turn off heat, stir and add more cooking water if needed. Top with a very generous amount of Parmesan cheese

About Soba Noodles
This Japanese noodles are made of buckwheat flour and can be served warm or cold. Soba noodles, which can be purchased in dried form, are a healthier alternative to white-flour pasta as they contain almost half the calories and a good for you vitamins and minerals such as the essential amino acid lysine, copper and rutin.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Turkey Chili

Turkey Chili Ingredients

Here in the Northeast, it has certainly been a horrific few weeks with Mother Nature. Thankfully, we were all but spared minus a downed tree and a few evenings of rolling power outages.

All the talk of electricity, lack of heat and Nor'easter snow meant only one thing--it was time to cook and share my chili recipe!  That stick-to-your-insides, flavor-packed one pot meal that gets better each day it melds in your fridge.

This was one of my first real recipes. I pulled it together almost 15 years ago (gulp!) when I was living in Boston and wanted to enter my company chili contest.  As luck would have it, I won!  So, for fun, let's call this my "award-winning" turkey chili.

We top ours off greek yogurt, scallions and sometimes salsa.  Enjoy!

Turkey Chili
  • 6 pieces of turkey or regular bacon
  • 2 lbs of ground turkey meat
  • 3 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 can of white beans, rinsed in a colander
  • 1 can of kidney beans, rinsed in a colander
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 2 large (16 oz) cans of diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon of ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon of nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon of thai chili paste
  • 1/2 - 4 tablespoons of Sirachi or hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup of beer
  • 1 cup of red wine
  • Greek yogurt/sour cream and chopped scallions for topping
  • In a large pot, brown the bacon over medium heat until it almost burns.  Remove from the pot, and let dry on a paper towel. 
  • Drain 3/4 of the leftover fat from the pan if using regular bacon.
  • Add the ground turkey to the fat in the pan, and brown breaking into small pieces with the back of a spoon.  When the turkey is almost cooked through, add the beer, garlic and onions and cook for 3-5 minutes. 
  • Add the chili powder, cumin, green pepper and celery to the pot and cook for another few minutes. 
  • Add all remaining ingredients except the sirachi/hot sauce, i.e. the two cans of rinsed beans, one can of tomato paste, two cans of diced tomatoes, nutmeg, thai chili paste, red wine and well crumbled bacon and mix well.
  • Let simmer on low for 10-15 minutes, taste and add 1/2 to 4 tablespoons of sirachi depnding on your heat preference.  I typically add, then taste, add then taste.
  • Simmer for at least another 20 minutes, 45 minutes ideally. 
  • Top with greek yogurt or sour cream and enjoy!
Onion for turkey chili

beans for turkey chili
turkey chili

Friday, November 2, 2012

Homemade Celery Salt

I am working my way through possible holiday gift projects.  Last year, I doled out homemade Baileys/Irish Cream, which was festive if slightly ironic considering I was pregnant and unable to enjoy it!  Previous years I've made salad dressing, flavored olive oils and homemade body scrubs. It is fun.

With two weeks of CSA celery stalks teetering towards wilt in my crisper, and the following recipe in my inbox, it was time for celery salt.  So easy to make, even easier to enjoy.  Perfect on fish, in a salad, topping soup and, my latest obsession, over scrambled eggs. 

This may just make the Holiday 2012 cut!  Do you have a go-to homemade gift? I'd love to hear about it below.

Homemade Celery Salt
Courtesy of 101 Cookbooks, a favorite food blog
Prep time: 5 min - Cook time: 7 min
  • Leaves from one bunch of celery
  • Flaky sea salt (Maldon sea salt is recommended)
  • Pick all the leaves from the celery stalk, leaving stems behind.
  • Rinse the leaves with cold water and then shake off as much water as you can. Gently pat them dry in a clean dish towel, or with paper towels ensuring they are as dry as possible. 
  • Arrange the leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet, then roast in a 350F / 180C oven for about 5-7 minutes. Bake until dehydrated and crispy, but not browned.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Once cool, use your fingers to crumble the leaves completely, discarding any leaves that aren't crispy.
  • Combine equal parts celery leaves and salt in a jar, and shake to distribute the celery leaves evenly. Voila.

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