Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Gluten-Free Brownie Skins

I recently made these guys over the weekend for a gluten-avoiding friend of mine.  They have very few ingredients and come together in a minute.

The recipe comes from 101 Cookbooks, where they're called "Chocolate Puddle Cookies," but I think they taste like gooey brownies when they're still warm, so I've renamed them accordingly.  They do firm up as they cool but they maintain a thin layer of goo in the middle.  The first time I made them without nuts; this time I used toasted and skinned hazelnuts... both were tasty but a little too sweet for my liking [though JG's a big fan].  I think next time I might swap out some of the powdered sugar for rice flour or buckwheat [which would be a different cookie entirely but a little grain's always better for you, right?].  I'll let you know how it goes.

Also, I made a half recipe and a #60 scoop and managed to get about 20 the size of my palm [10 on each cookie sheet].  The ones in the original recipe must be monsters... which makes sense since each cookie would have almost a quarter cup of powdered sugar.[!]  Even the smaller ones I made have about 1.5 tablespoons per cookie... so, yeah, they're not low-calorie, but they are a decadent, gluten-free addition to the cookie plate.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lamb Stew

Here's a perfect example of why I love leftovers.  It was a blustery New England day and JG and I both got home chilled and hungry.  We had a leftover shank. We made soup. It tasted like something we'd labored over for hours, when all the work had been done by a slow cooker a couple days ago.

No recipe here... We sauteed another onion, threw in a couple bunches of coarsely chopped kale and let it wilt [kale is a superior soup green because it won't turn to mush], then threw in a can of garbanzo beans [including canning liquid], the leftover meat juices [the sauce had congealed from the gelatin in the bones], 4 cups of water, and a Parmesan cheese rind [I save these in the freezer for just such a purpose]. Once it came to the boil, we threw in some of the leftover risotto in the soup, checked the salt [it had plenty from the lamb], threw some bread in the toaster, ladled out the soup, pulled the toast, and dinner was ready.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Slow-Cooked Lamb Shanks

The leaves are starting to change here in Yankee Land, and that makes me want to break out the slow-cooker.  To whit, I present an epic-looking dish which is actually an easy midweek dinner that's just about ready whenever you walk in the door.
[Mark Bittman totally stole my thunder on this one.  The good news is, I was going to tell you that preserved lemons take time to make but are easy to buy, but Bittman just posted a recipe that only needs a few hours... so there you go. His uses sugar as well as salt (many do) so it won't taste exactly the same as mine, but I'm sure it'd be great.]

The wet rub for these shanks was actually JG's creation from about a month ago... I think because the weird jar of salt-packed lemons had been taking up pantry space and we weren't using them very fast, so he created a marinade with them and a few other powerful ingredients that was fantastic smeared on lamb steaks...  but I also thought it could be great for slow-cooked hunk o'lamb with just a little modification [reducing the oil and adding a bit of salt].

In the end, the texture of the meat [fall off the bone tender] and flavors were great and the onions were pure caramel-y goodness.  The sauce was a little on the salty side, so recipe below reflects my "notes for next time" adjustment.  People tend to call anything with preserved lemons "Moroccan-style." I think these flavors -- particularly with the rosemary-- are more eastern Mediterranean, but I don't really know.  I do know that they taste great together, and that's all that really matters to me.

Recipe: Slow-Cooked Lamb Shanks with Rosemary and Preserved Lemons

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pressure Cooker Chicken Posole

I've posted my posole recipe before, but I recently went back to the post [after I made the current batch] and discovered the pictures were no bueno so I'm posting it again.  Plus, posole is a beautiful thing and I want everyone to try it.  It can be hangover food or comfort food [it is Mexican chicken soup, after all] or chilly-day food and it doesn't require anything you can't find at any grocery store. [Hominy is sometimes with the canned veggies and sometimes with the Mexican food, but it's always there somewhere.]

I made this batch in the pressure cooker in just under 45 minutes last Sunday as chilly-day food and it was just what I needed.  The only problem was that after cooking the bone-in legs and thighs for 30 minutes, the meat fell apart so thoroughly that I had trouble finding the cartilage caps that had slid off the bone and secreted themselves in the meat chunks.  [Have I mentioned that I love pressure cookers? Modern ones aren't scary at all.]

As for the garnishes -- which I considered weird the first time I had this at a friends house -- none of them are required, but each adds complexity in both texture in taste.  I forgot to add cilantro to this bowl and didn't miss it 'til I saw it sitting on the counter.  I threw in raw tomatoes and they added a great brightness that could be used in place of the lime juice.  Sometimes I eat it plain.  Sometimes I add a lot of hot sauce.  Sometimes I add the juice of a whole lime.  Sometimes I throw in pickled jalepenos... Do you catch my drift?

Recipe:  Pressure Cooker Chicken Posole

Friday, October 8, 2010

Superfast Elote Asado... with a Caveat

The polenta was almost finished when I remembered I had a couple ears of corn languishing in the fridge. It's not like me to neglect sweet corn, but we went out of town for a wedding and sometimes these things happen.  I thought a little roasted corn flavor might be nice in that polenta, but there just wasn't enough time to make elote asado before everything else was ready for dinner, so I gave it the chile pepper treatment and held with tongs over the open flame of my stove burner.  The kernels spit as they charred, making these wacky little bursts of sparks [It's not as scary as that may sound.]  As soon and they were spotty all over,  I transferred them to a cutting board, gave them a minute to cool while I checked the polenta, then cut the kernels from cob and stirred everything together.  The texture of the kernels was a little chewier -- it's definitely not a replacement for stand-alone elote asado* -- but it had the desired flavor and made the polenta dish taste like super gooey, whole-kernel cornbread.  It was good.
I topped it with fried eggs and scattered raw yellow tomatoes and roasted wax beans around the plate. It was supposed to be a textural and tonal dish, harkening back to the early days with JG when I'd regularly make an all-yellow meal of blue box macaroni and cheese, fish sticks, and canned corn [I've come a long way, baby]. Aesthetically it wasn't much prettier than that meal from the old days... I could have scattered some bright green cilantro over the whole thing and it would have been lovely, but I didn't garnish back them and I was overly committed to the theme.  At any rate, it tasted great with a few splashes of [tonally acceptable] Cholula hot sauce and was a _bit_ healthier than my yellow dinner of yore... and at ~15 minutes of total cooking time, the new, whole grain/fresh produce version might have even been faster.

*that's the caveat

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Wax Beans

I know many people are scarred by cans of three-bean salad.  Personally I always liked it, but I like most pickled things.  I will admit, however, that I've never been inclined to buy fresh wax beans, in part because I didn't know what to do with them beside three-bean salad.

The answer is one of my favorites*: Roast them!  A woman I know was waxing poetic about them at the market, about how much more meaty and flavorful they were than supermarket green beans, so I figured I may as well try them... and once they were home I figured I may as well cook them like I usually cook green beans.**
I sprayed them with oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and then broiled them in my toaster oven for about 15 minutes [ovens vary; check at 10 just to be safe].  I usually stir beans halfway through, but I got distracted and they were no worse for it.

They were meatier, and while I can't be sure they were more flavorful [roasting tends to heighten the flavor of everything] they were quite good.  Color-wise they may not be as striking, but if you pair them with wilted greens or something tomato-based, they'll look pretty as a picture on your plate.

If you see some, snatch them up.  I've already gone back to the market for another bag.

*right up there with "Add alcohol!"

** The other green bean preparation in regular rotation is to blanch them, douse them liberally with green salsa, stir in some olive oil and chopped raw shallot, sprinkle with sea salt, and chill.  This was faster.