August 26, 2010

Orange Sesame Slaw

This slaw was my contribution to a summer barbeque, it was pretty tasty. Like other salad recipes, I’m not going to go into too much detail, but I will talk about how to make the wonton crisps and infused oil.

To make the wonton crisps, I sliced wonton skins into 1/4-1/3 inch strips then heated up about 1/2 cup vegetable oil in a pot (the amount of oil depends on your pot size, but try to have at least half an inch of oil heated in the pan). A deep fryer would probably work better, but start by dropping a few wonton strips into the hot oil. Make sure you watch them, they burn quickly! Once they start to turn golden brown take them out with a wire “spider” or an slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. If you can find premade wonton crisps, that would probably be easier, I’ll try to improve my method, but I wasn’t completely enthused with how my crisps came out.

You’ll have a pot of oil left over, and I hate the waste oil created by frying, so I decided to repurpose it for my dressing. And I decided it would be an adventure to try infusing the oil with some good flavors for my dressing, I originally wanted to leave the solids from my infusion in my dressing but they kind of burned and formed a giant clump. I minced some garlic, ginger, and shallot, and threw it in with some sesame seeds, brown sugar and orange zest. If you’re more careful than I am fry all of the solids until they are cooked and lightly browned and then mix in the oil with the other dressing ingredients. If you have my luck, remove most of the solids, and measure out about 1/2 cup of the oil for the dressing. Enjoy!

Napa Cabbage, shredded
Red onion
2 Valencia Orange- segments of 2 and zest of 1
2 Avocado
grilled corn (I didn’t use it, but it would probably be good, Trader Joe’s sells frozen roasted corn-win!)
wonton crisps
sesame seeds

Orange Sesame Dressing
juice of one very juicy orange
~1 T sesame oil
~1 T rice vinegar
1/2 c veg oil infused with garlic, ginger, shallot, sesame, brown sugar, and orange zest

RRay-style Mushroom Pasta

I may have mentioned that mushrooms are my absolute favorite food before, they are just plain awesome. I’m pretty sure Rachael Ray also really like mushrooms, as she’s written several super-mushroomy recipes that inspired this dish. I also really love RRay, and I’m proud of it. I know her voice is annoying and she isn’t gourmet, but I like the way she cooks, and I admire the success she’s achieved in her life and business. I only disagree with her and another one of my idols (Kelly Clarkson!) on one big thing, they both don’t want kids, and I think babies are awesome. This recipe was fun and was one of the first times I made a successful roux. This was *shockingly* my first time cooking with dried mushrooms, and to be honest, I’m not sure I loved the smokiness of the porcinis in the mushroom broth, I may try another type of mushroom next time. Another thing I want to clarify is the way I made the mushroom broth. Most recipes call for chicken stock/broth to steep the mushrooms, but I didn’t have any on hand, plus chicken stock can’t be eaten with dairy products like the butter, milk, and cheese also in this recipe. I like the way the mild onion soup flavor (I used a lot less mix than I would for making actual package directions soup). I thought this tasted delicious, so did Ruby, she didn’t say anything while we were eating it but a few days later she said “yeah, that mushroom pasta was really good”.

2.5 cups water
1-2 T onion soup mix
0.5 oz dried porcini mushrooms
EVOO (had to, for RRay)
half a box whole wheat penne rigate (maybe a different pasta would be better)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 scallions, thinly sliced (shallots preferred)
6-8 large shitake mushrooms, stems removed, thinly sliced
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
2+ T butter
2 T flour
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 T milk (cream preferred)
1 sprig rosemary (and/or thyme), leaves removed and roughly chopped
parmesan for finishing

In a small pot bring water and soup mix to a boil, turn off heat and add porcinis, cover pot and steep mushrooms. Put water for pasta up to boil. Over low heat, begin to saute the garlic and scallions (or shallot) while you clean and slice the shitakes and creminis. Add mushrooms and rosemary to the saute pan and cook until soft and lightly browned. Push vegetables to the side of the pan and start to melt butter. Sprinkle flour into melted butter and make sure the two are fully blended. Let the flour cook for 1-2 minutes to get the raw flour taste out. Start to ladle in some of the mushroom broth and blend with the roux until it’s smooth, I had to use a whisk. Add about 1 to 1.5 cups broth total and mix in with the mushrooms in the pan. Stir in the balsamic and the milk or cream (you could also add some starchy pasta water if you’d like) and cook down until the sauce is reduced and thickened. Add the cooked pasta and the parsley and parmesan and mix until the pasta is coated with the sauce. Garnish with a little more parsley and parmesan.

August 23, 2010

Warm Artichoke Heart and Arugula Salad

Here is a salad I devised back in February or thereabouts, which is great in the colder months, but does just fine now in the summer time. Also, I brought it to a dinner party a month or so ago, and it was a big hit! So side or meal, it does great either way.

- Artichoke hearts marinated in oil (not brine, this is important!), 10 or so quarters per person. I use the ones from Costco for this recipe
- Pine nuts, approx one handful per person
- Arugula, 3-5 cups per person
- Grated parmesan, 1/4 cup per person, or to taste
- (and freshly ground pepper never runs amiss)

Put (washed) arugula into a bowl. Amount depends entirely on how many people you're feeding and what portion size you're going for.
Place a small to medium skillet over high heat, add pine nuts. Don't oil/butter/coat your skillet here. You are toasting the pine nuts and there is no extra fat needed to do this. Toast the pine nuts until they are golden on a few sides, 5-ish mins. Only stir them once or maybe twice.
Once the pine nuts are beautiful, toasty, and delicious-smelling, sprinkle them over the arugula.
Then put the skillet back over the heat, and add the artichoke hearts. It's ok if a little of the marinade gets in the skillet, but try for not too much, because the liquid will slow down the browning process. Brown hearts between 2-5 mins per side, depending on how brown you want your artichokes (or how quickly you want to eat, already).
Once the artichoke hearts are browned to your liking, place them over the arugula plus pine nuts. Top with parmesan, ground pepper, and a little of the artichoke heart marinade from the jar as dressing. Toss and serve!