7.30.2012

Rapini & Radish Frittata




Forget spinach and kale, if you want a full-flavored frittata, broccoli rabe's your green. A frequent player in Mediterranean cooking, broccoli rabe (also raab or rapini) is not to be confused with the tree-like vegetable that shares its name -- it sports a pungency that aligns it more closely with turnip or mustard greens. Its distinct flavor is a hard sell to some palates, but a quick blanch or saute is all it takes to knock its raw bitterness down a few notches. 


Eggs are a perfect platform for rapini to shine, and here it gets cozy with peppery radishes in a frittata spiked with two more flavors of the Mediterranean: basil and feta. Dense and favor-loaded, the dish maintains its character served warm, at room temperature, or even cold the next day. (It's especially delicious topped with fresh tomato-basil salsa). 



RAPINI & RADISH FRITTATA

1 large bunch rapini (broccoli rabe), stems removed
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
5 to 6 small radishes, thinly sliced
5 eggs
1/4 cup buttermilk
Sea salt
Dash crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup crumbled feta 
1/3 cup fresh basil, finely chopped

Turn on broiler. Bring a pot of water to boil and add rapini. Cook for 2 minutes, drain, and transfer to ice bath to shock it. Drain again and squeeze out the water. 

Heat oil in medium cast-iron or ovenproof skillet over medium. Add onion and saute until softened and lightly brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add blanched rapini and sliced radishes to the onions. Cook for a few minutes until just warmed through (radishes should still be mostly crisp).

In a medium bowl, whisk 5 eggs with buttermilk, basil, feta, salt and a dash of crushed red pepper flakes. Pour into skillet and stir gently to allow the eggs to seep over and around the veggies. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes. When crust has formed around the edges and eggs are nearly set (you can tell by giving the skillet a jiggle), transfer skillet to oven and broil for 4 to 5 minutes until eggs puff up and the top turns golden brown.

Cool briefly before cutting into wedges. Serve warm or at room temp with fresh tomato-basil salsa (recipe below).

TOMATO-BASIL SALSA

1 large beefsteak tomato, diced
1 Tbsp olive oil
Black pepper, to taste
Sea salt, to taste
1/3 cup fresh basil, finely chopped

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss well. Prepare in advance to allow flavors to meld.

7.27.2012

Blueberry Cornbread with Basil & Lime


The creation of this recipe was spurred by a corn and blueberry salsa I made earlier this summer. It was a simple, use-up-the-leftovers kind of dish that began with a few lonely ears of grilled corn that had survived the Fourth of July feast. Shaving the kernels off the cobs, I tossed them in a bowl with a handful of fresh blueberries, minced onion, lime juice, lime zest, and olive oil. Striking an effortless chord between sweet and savory, and I thought, this combination would be excellent in a cornbread. It's already a common practice to plunk blueberries into cornbread batter -- in fact any bread with blueberries wins in my book -- but corn and blues are especially allied by their sweetness. While some recipes strictly use cornmeal and flour, I incorporated fresh corn kernels into the batter as well to boost the flavor and add another textural element. (Plus, sweet corn is so delicious right now, it would have been a crime not to use the fresh stuff.) Densely packed with kernels and berries, the real excitement comes when lime and basil enter the stage -- lime's tang keeps the bread's sweetness in check, and basil grounds it with savory, earthy notes. That's summer in a skillet right there. 



BLUEBERRY CORNBREAD WITH BASIL & LIME


3/4 cup stone ground cornmeal
1/4 cup course corn grits 
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup olive oil
4 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp lime zest
2 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 2 ears)
1/3 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1 cup fresh blueberries


Heat oven to 375 dgF. Coat cast iron skillet with olive oil and put in oven to heat. 

Wash blueberries, pat dry, and sprinkle with 1 Tbsp flour. (This will prevent the berries from bleeding/sinking while the bread is baking). 

In a large bowl combine cornmeal, grits, flours, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl whisk together eggs, buttermilk, honey, olive oil, lime juice and zest. Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir until just combined. Fold in 2 cups fresh corn, blueberries and about 1/3 cup chopped basil. 

Remove hot skillet from oven and pour in batter, spreading out evenly to the sides of the pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the edges are golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool briefly in the skillet -- (at this point I suggest slicing a warm wedge right from the pan and pouring a glass of milk) -- then loosen the edges with a spatula to release the bread from the pan and allow to cool completely before storing.

7.17.2012

Cilantro & Quinoa Soup




A recent screening of I Like Killing Flies inspired this recipe. The film documents the eccentric antics of Kenny Shopsins, chef and owner of the (formerly) Greenwich Village-based diner, Shopsins. Despite his notoriously profane behavior towards customers and his "no-party-over-five" rule, his restaurant boasts an inclusive menu that puts Encyclopedia Britannica to shame, and never stops growing. A brief soup montage in the film rattles off a few of (the 86) brothy favorites, and the cilantro & quinoa combo particularly caught my attention. No idea what else was in Shopsins' recipe, but taking the title ingredients at face value, I rolled with it. Mostly I was intrigued by the idea of elevating an herb from its role as garnish to star of a dish. Of course quinoa is there to bulk up the broth, but I wanted to make the presence of cilantro more than just background noise, so I went pretty gung-ho with it. The supporting cast is simple -- red onion, garlic, coriander, salt/pepper, and a pinch of cayenne -- but the soup has a surprising amount of personality. Here it's topped off with a summery trio: grilled shrimp, diced avocado, and charred corn-off-the-cob, (and, of course, more fresh cilantro). 


CILANTRO & QUINOA SOUP
[With Grilled Shrimp, Avocado and Charred Corn]

1 cup quinoa, rinsed 
4 cups vegetable stock, plus additional water as needed 
1 large bunch cilantro [yield about 1 cup chopped] 
3 small (or 1 large) red onions, thinly sliced 
4 garlic cloves, minced 
Olive oil
Sea salt 
Black pepper 
Fresh lime juice, from 1/2 lime 
Ground coriander, to taste 
Pinch cayenne pepper 

To serve: 
Grilled shrimp 
Diced avocado 
Charred corn-off-the-cob 
Fresh cilantro
Freshly cracked black pepper


1. Heat olive oil in a medium pot over medium-high. Add garlic and cook for a minute, stirring constantly. Add sliced red onion and cook until softened, about 3 to 5 minutes. 

2. Rinse 1 cup quinoa and add it to the pot with the onions and garlic. Stir to coat and cook for a minute or two, until quinoa becomes fragrant and toasted. Add 4 cups vegetable stock and cilantro and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes until quinoa is cooked. (Add more stock or water if the soup is too thick). Season with salt, freshly cracked black pepper, ground coriander, and a pinch of cayenne. Squeeze in juice from 1/2 lime. Taste, and adjust seasoning as necessary.

3. Serve warm, topped with grilled shrimp, diced avocado, corn-off-the-cob (grilled or fresh), and more fresh cilantro and black pepper.

[Another variation: Toss in some arugula while the soup is simmering; when the greens are wilted, crack in a few eggs, cover pot, and let them cook until set. Serve with some freshly grated Parmesan.]

7.16.2012

Flaxseed & Pepita Crusted Flounder with Avocado-Basil Crema and Sauteed Asparagus




Flounder loves a good crust. It's a mild, flaky fish that benefits from both the structure and the flavor of being battered and pan-fried. Here I took a detour from the typical flour dredge and coated my fish in a mixture of flaxseed meal and crushed pepitas. When the filets take to the pan, the flaxseed mixture crusts up around the flounder, deliciously nutty and scale-like. The crunchy armor keeps the flesh tender and moist, creating a wonderful contrast of textures in each bite. 

A crema of avocado, basil and a hit of lime makes an addictive dipping sauce for the fish (if you can resist devouring it all with a spoon before meal time). I recommend holding off on the crema until the very end, as the avocado and basil will quickly oxidize, despite the lime's kiss of acidity. It'll still taste alright, but no one wants an ugly brown crema on their plate. I finished off with a confetti-like scattering of asparagus over the flounder (finely chopped and sauteed in the fish's pan leftovers). 


FLAXSEED & PEPITA CRUSTED FLOUNDER 
WITH AVOCADO-BASIL CREMA AND SAUTEED ASPARAGUS

For the flounder:

1/2 cup golden flaxseed meal 
1/4 cup raw pepitas, finely chopped
Dash red pepper flakes 
Sea salt 
1 large egg, lightly beaten 
4 flounder filets 
Olive oil 
1 lime

In a shallow dish combine 1/2 cup flaxseed meal, 1/4 cup chopped pepitas, and season with a dash or two of red pepper flakes and sea salt. In another dish crack one large egg and beat lightly. Dredge flounder fillets in flaxseed meal mixture, then egg, then back in meal. Heat a few tablespoons olive oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high. When oil is hot, add filets and cook for about 3 minutes on each side, until crust is golden brown. Plate fish, squeeze lime juice over top, and serve with a dollop of avocado-basil crema (recipe below) and sauteed chopped asparagus bits (recipe below). 

Avocado-Basil Crema:

1 ripe avocado 
Handful fresh basil leaves 
A few splashes soy milk 
Juice from about 1 lime
1 tsp lime zest 

Combine all ingredients in a food processor; puree to a smooth consistency, taste, and adjust flavors as preferred. (Note: Avocados and basil are both prone to quick oxidization, so make this relatively close to serving time to avoid a brown colored crema). 

For the asparagus:

1 bunch asparagus, finely chopped
Olive oil

After pan-frying the flounder, heat more olive oil in same skillet. Add chopped asparagus bits and saute over medium heat until bright and just tender, about 5 minutes. Serve over fish. 



7.11.2012

Rolled Kamut, Honey & Beer Porridge


This morning I had a beer for breakfast. That's right, a crisp Belgian wheat went straight into my hot cereal. Typically my experimentation with porridge cooking liquids involves swapping one type of milk for another. But Green Kitchen Stories' recipe for Rye, Rhubarb & Beer Porridge inspired a booze-driven approach (homage to the Danish øllebrød, a humble breakfast made of bread scraps and beer).  In my version, nutty kamut flakes get deliciously inebriated with Blue Moon, lemon zest complements the beer's citrusy flavor, and honey balances it all with a touch of sweetness. Top with vanilla yogurt, fresh blueberries, and a drizzle of maple syrup, and you'll almost forget you spiked your breakfast.

ROLLED KAMUT, HONEY & BEER PORRIDGE
[Serves 4]

2 cups rolled kamut flakes 

3 cups water

1 1/2 cup Belgian wheat beer, or water
Zest of 1 lemon (about 1 Tbsp)

1 tsp vanilla extract 
 2 Tbsp honey 
Blueberries, for serving
Vanilla yogurt, for serving
Maple syrup, for drizzling 

Combine kamut, water, beer, lemon zest and vanilla in a medium pot and bring slowly to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the kamut is tender and swollen. (Most of the liquid should be absorbed). Stir in 2 Tbsp honey and remove from heat. To serve, top with blueberries, vanilla yogurt, and a drizzle of maple syrup.