Roasted Root Vegetable Salad

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roasted-root-vegetables-from-slim-palateHere’s another great way to highlight your fancy salt!  It’s a nice variation on your typical Turkey-Day fare. (I get sick of the same ol’ same ol’.)  This dish is typically though of as a side dish, but I like to call it a salad, because I can easily eat just this for lunch–or breakfast for that matter.   I really like it at room temperature, slightly al dente, with a tangy dressing and a bit of a crunch. Of course, you can use it as a side dish if you want. It’s your kitchen.

Ingredients

1 butternut squash

1 sweet potato

1 red or yellow beet

1 parsnip

1 yellow onion

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon unrefined salt – try Bavarian rock salt, Portuguese sel gris, Peruvian pink, smoked salt, or a salt infused with rosemary or red wine

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 cup apple juice

½ cup toasted pecans, chopped

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.   Dice squash, potato, beet, parsnip, and onion into 1-2 inch chunks.   Quarter the onion, leaving the root in tact. Toss them all in olive oil and spread onto a baking sheet. Roast until tender and crisp on the outside. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of salt, then set aside at room temperature.
  1. Meanwhile heat the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until translucent, about 30-60 seconds. Stir in honey, vinegar, and apple juice. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring, until the liquid is reduced to syrup consistency, about 3-5 minutes. Keep your eye on this. It will happen fast!
  1. Combine the glaze, roasted roots, and pecans in a large bowl and toss to coat. Season with more salt as needed and serve.

Variations

Bacon – If you’re a bacon fan, use two slices of raw diced bacon instead of butter here. Render the fat and crisp it up in the pan, then add the garlic, and continue with the recipe as written.   It’s great with pancetta too!

Cheesy – Garnish this dish with a crumble of feta, goat, or sharp blue cheese. The salty tang is a great contrast to the sweetness of these roots and the apple juice.

Burst Cherry Tomatoes

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This recipe is great as a side dish, but I also like it poured on top of pasta or polenta, stirred into risotto, spread warm over toast, or chilled and spread onto your hamburgers. It’s best if the tomatoes come from your garden, but if you have a black thumb (like me) good quality, perfectly ripe market tomatoes work just as well.

Ingredients

¼ cup olive oil

4 cups cherry tomatoes (choose assorted colors if you can)

1 teaspoon unrefined salt – try Halen Mon, Cyprus flake, fiore de sal, Black Diamond, smoked salt, or a salt infused with fennel seed, basil, or chipotle

2 cloves of garlic, sliced

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

Method

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add a third of the tomatoes, and cook, shaking gently, until they start to break their skin, about 5 minutes.   Reduce heat to medium and add another third of the tomatoes and the ½ teaspoon of the salt. Continue to cook, shaking and stirring for another 3-4 minutes, until tomatoes are deflated. Remove tomatoes from the pan to a dish, and return the pan to the heat.
  1. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan, then add the garlic. Cook, stirring, until the garlic softens, about 1 minute. Add the remaining raw tomatoes, the reserved cooked tomatoes, then cook, stirring, until the last batch of tomatoes begins to deflate. The mixture should be juicy and thick, and have a variety of tomato texture. Remove from heat and season with lemon juice and another pinch of salt Serve warm, room temperature, or cold.

Variations

Balsamic Tomatoes – Finish this dish with ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar instead of the lemon juice, add handful of basil leaves, cut in chiffonade, and finish with a grating of fresh Parmesan or some diced buffalo mozzarella.

Fennel Tomatoes – Before you burst the tomatoes, sauté a sliced fennel bulb in the olive oil with a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of toasted and crushed fennel seeds. Remove it from the pan, then stir it back into the mix when the tomatoes are done. Garnish with some reserved fennel fronds.

 

 

Cardamom Curried Cauliflower and Lentils

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Cardamom is my favorite spice of all time. It is equally at home in curry as it is in a coffee cake. But ground cardamom is not always of the highest quality. If you have the choice, buy whole cardamom pods, either green or black. To use, open the outer hull, remove the seeds and crush them in a mortar coffee mill.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon coconut oil, ghee, or butter

4 large cardamom pods, seeded and crushed

½ teaspoon cumin seeds

½ cinnamon stick

3 scallions, chopped

3 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon garam masala

½ head of cauliflower, separated into small flowerets (about 2 cups)

1 cup lentils

4 cups vegetable broth or water

1 can chickpeas, with liquid

1 teaspoon unrefined salt – try Moroccan, Arabian Fleur de Sel, Kala Namak, or a salt infused with curry or cardamom

1 cup paneer or plain yogurt

Method

  1. In a large saucepan, heat coconut oil. Add cardamom, cumin and cinnamon, and toast until fragrant, about 1 minute. Reduce heat, add scallions, garlic and cook until tender. Stir in garam masala.
  1. Add the cauliflower and cook 3-5 minutes stirring to coat with spices. Add lentils, broth and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 30 minutes. Add chickpeas and their liquid, and cook until warmed through. Season with more salt as needed.
  1. Fish out the cinnamon stick and serve over rice, topped another pinch of salt, a dollop of paneer or yogurt, and a side of cucumber pickles or raita.

Kabocha Squash Soup with Hazelnut and Sage

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My favorite part of autumn is the culinary permission I get to cook with winter squashes. Pumpkin, Butternut, Acorn, and my favorite, the Kabocha, make there way into side dishes, desserts, salads, and lots of great soup.   Feel free to use your favorite winter squash here, and your favorite nut, for that matter. See the Variations below for some classic combos.

Ingredients

1 small kabocha squash

¼- ½ cup olive oil, divided

6-8 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon unrefined salt – try Persian blue, any sel gris, Japanese shio, or a salt infused with garlic, sage, or hazelnuts

¼ cup hazelnuts

½ large yellow onion

1-2 cups vegetable broth, chicken broth, or water

6-8 large fried sage leaves

1 cup half and half

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut squash into quarters and scoop out seeds. Coat the interior with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Set on baking sheet cut side up and roast until tender, about 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, place the garlic in foil, drizzle with oil, then wrap tight and roast in the same oven until the tender, about 30 minutes.   Peel the onion and cut into 6-8 wedges, with the root intact. Place on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil, and roast in the same until browned and tender, about 30 minutes.
  3. Place hazelnuts on a dry baking sheet and roast in the same oven until fragrant and browned, about 5 minutes. When each element is cooked as directed, cool them all.
  4. Roughly chop the cooled nuts with a pinch of salt, then set aside for garnish. Scoop squash out of its skin, and into a blender with the roasted garlic. Slice the root end off of each roasted onion, and add to blender.   Puree until smooth, adding broth or water as necessary to facilitate blending, but not too much – it should be a thick soup consistency.
  5. Pass the puree through a fine mesh strainer, and into a saucepan. Warm gently over medium heat. Add the half and half and season with more salt as necessary.   Keep warm.
  6. Heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a separate small sauté pan. When hot, add the sage leaves, and fry until the sizzling stops, and they are crisp and toasted, about 20 seconds. Drain on paper towels. Serve the soup warm, with a sprinkle of chopped hazelnut and a couple of fried sage leaves, and a pinch of your chosen salt.

Variation

Pumpkin – Try this recipe using pumpkin, and garnish with toasted pepitas (aka pumpkin seeds).

Italianate – Use butternut squash, and add a tablespoon or two of fresh chopped rosemary to the roasting pan. Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese, toasted almonds, or crumbled amoretti cookies.

Pipi Kaula (Hawaiian Jerky)

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Recently I’m become obsessed with homemade jerky, as I have seen the price for the store-bought stuff continue to rise. This recipe has become my personal favorite.

Hawaii has a surprising cowboy culture that began in the early 1800’s. George Vancouver gave 5 longhorn cattle to King Kamehameha, who promptly set them free to roam the island. When the herd had multiplied into the thousands, experts were called in to help control them—the Mexican vaqueros. They brought the horseman’s skill and it’s related arts, including leatherwork, metal work and guitar music (which evolved in to the ukulele craze).   By the mid 20th-century beef was the main export from the Hawaiian Islands, and half of the island lands were devoted to the cultivation of beef. Today that number has greatly diminished, but the Hawaiian cowboy traditions linger on. This recipe is a favorite trail snack of these paniolos.

Ingredients

2 pounds flank steak, frozen for about an hour for easy slicing

½ cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons Alaea Hawaiian salt

2 tablespoons raw or brown sugar (I leave this out when I am counting calories)

1 clove garlic, minced

1 inch ginger root, grated

¼-1 teaspoon red chile flake

1 tablespoon cinder vinegar

¼ cup pineapple juice

Method

  1. Slice beef into thin strips (about 1/3 inch thick). Combine in a large bowl with remaining ingredients, and toss to thoroughly coat.   Marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
  1. Drain marinade off meat and spread out in a single layer on a dehydrator tray, or on a baking sheet that has been lined with a drying rack. Dehydrate for 24 hours, or bake at 175° F for 5-8 hours, until very dry. Store airtight.

Hot Steamy Dinner Rolls

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There is really very little I can serve that makes my family as giddy as a basket of fresh dinner rolls, still warm from the oven. It just reeks of special occasion. This single white dough recipe can be shaped and finished in a number of ways. With just a few subtle changes, you will look like an expert baker.   (Or at the very least a very enthusiastic hobbyist!)

Ingredients

½ cup warm water

1 ½ cup milk, divided

1 tablespoon sugar

1 ¾ teaspoon active dry yeast

1 cup all purpose flour

1 egg

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 teaspoons sea salt

2-3 cups bread flour

½ milk for wash

Additional finishing salt – finish with the same salt, or add something unique, such as a smoked salt, a charcoal infused black salt, or a salt infused with rosemary, sesame, onion, celery alt, olive, curry, paprika, or saffron

Method

  1. In a large bowl stir together water, ½ cup of milk, sugar, yeast, and set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes. Use a fork to stir in milk and all-purpose flour to create a loose batter. Cover and set aside in a warm spot until it begins to bubble, 45-60 minutes. This is the sponge.
  1. Add to the sponge remaining milk, egg, butter, 1 teaspoon of salt, and enough bread flour to create a firm dough. (I like to stir this in with a fork, because it’s less cumbersome than a whisk or spoon, and way easier to clean.) Turn out onto a floured surface and knead, adding flour only as necessary to reduce stickiness. Knead 8-10 minutes, until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Return to the bowl, cover with a warm damp towel and set aside to rise until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
  1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Coat two baking sheets with pan spray. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Cut it into a few equal pieces, then shape it into ropes that are about 3-inches in diameter. Cut 2-inch pieces off of these ropes, and roll each piece into a tight ball. (Balls should be smooth on the top, with a small seam or dimple on the bottom.) Place balls 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet, seam side down, and dust lightly with flour. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside to proof for 30 minutes, until slightly puffed.
  1. Just before baking. Brush lightly with remaining milk, and sprinkle with finishing salt. Bake until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Rotate pan as necessary to promote even browning.

Variations
Parker House – This roll was created at Boston’s Parker House Hotel in the 1850’s. After the dough is risen, roll it out to about ½ inch thick. Cut out rounds using a biscuit cutter. Brush both sides of dough into melted butter, fold in half, then place on prepared pan about 1/3 inch apart.   (The dough should grow together during baking.) Cover lightly and proof for 30 minutes, then sprinkle with finishing salt and bake as directed above.

Clover – When the above dough is risen, and the dough ropes are formed, cut off 1-inch pieces. Roll them into tight balls, and set three of them together in a muffin tin that has been coated with pan spray. Proof and bake as directed above. After baking, brush with melted butter while hot, then sprinkle with finishing salt.

Butterfly – After the dough is risen, roll it out into a rectangle that is about ½ inch thick. Brush melted butter over the entire surface, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and finishing salt. Roll up on the long side, jelly-roll style, creating a spiral rope. Cut the rope every two inches. Using a wooden dowel (or wooden spoon handle) press the down firmly into the center of each 2-inch section, pushing the spiral edges up and out, like a butterfly wings. Proof and bake as directed above.

Crescent – After the dough is risen, roll it out into a rectangle ½ inch thick. Brush melted butter over the entire surface, and sprinkle with finishing salt. Use a pastry wheel to cut into 4×3 inch rectangles. Cut each rectangle into two triangles. Roll each triangle up from the wide base into a croissant shape. (Pull and stretch the base of the triangle as wide as you can before rolling for the best crescent shape.) Bend the outer legs down to form a crescent, and place on prepared baking sheet. Egg wash, then proof and bake as directed above.

 

Cranberry Sauce

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Everyone has a favorite dish at Thanksgiving. (Mine is the turkey sandwich on Friday.) My oldest daughter’s is cranberry sauce. I never liked it myself—probably because I grew up eating jellied cranberry sauce that was store-bought and canned-shaped. But I make it for everyone else, and it quickly became her favorite. In fact, she annually indulges in an entire bowlful for breakfast the following day. (I always make at least a double batch.) But this year she’s on the other side of the country, and so, she’s on her own.   This is for her.   One bit of motherly—not cheffy—advice: Don’t wear white, or anything you care about, when you make this. The berries sometimes pop (aka explode) if they get going too hot.

 

1 12-ounce bag fresh or frozen cranberries

1 cup sugar

Grated zest of 1 orange (use a microplane, the fine holes of a box grater, or a zester)

½ teaspoon cardamom

1 piece star anise

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 cup orange juice

Method

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. At the boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring every couple of minutes, until the berries have popped and the mixture thickens, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat, cool, then refrigerate until well chilled. Serve chilled—with turkey or with just a spoon.

Variations

Leftover cranberry sauce makes great sorbet. Puree it in a blender, pour in a freezable container, and freeze. Stir it every 10 minutes or so until thick and scoop-able. Voila! Instant no-churn sorbet!

Forbidden Rice Salad

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I can’t resist black food at Halloween.

Chinese black rice is a nutrient-rich, nutty, heirloom rice that is actually a deep purple. They say it has historically been reserved for Emperors. I’m skeptical, though. If all the foods that make that claim really were just for emperors, those emperors would have been really fat. You can vary the vegetables in this dish to fit the season, or switch it up to reflect another cuisine. See the Variations for ideas.

Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 cup scallions or chives

1 teaspoon sesame seeds

½ teaspoon sesame oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 inch of fresh ginger root, grated

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

Grated zest and juice of 1 orange

1 cup of cooked black rice, cooled

½ teaspoon salt – try Japanese shio

12-3 tangerines or oranges, sectioned

Method

  1. Heat vegetable oil in a large wok or sauté pan over high heat. Add the scallions and sesame seeds and cook briefly, until charred, about 2 minutes.   Set aside.
  1. To the same pan, add sesame oil, garlic, and ginger and warm briefly. Add the vinegar, orange zest and juice, and remove from the heat. Add the rice, salt, and orange sections. Toss everything until well coated, then chill completely.   Serve chilled with a final sprinkle of good salt.

 

Halloween Cocoa

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It’s October 22, and it was 80 degrees today. But I know it was much colder where my kids are—back east, where the seasons live.  So I thought I’d send them something to warm their tummies.

I wanted to make it Halloweenie, but also delicious. That means no candy freak’n corns, or orange M&M’s. Instead, I made orange sugar. Orange and chocolate are a classic pair, and in hot liquid form, they are irresistible.  (For those of you not studying, feel free to add a shot of Grand Marnier.)

Ingredients

2-3 oranges or tangerines

1-2 cups sugar

1-2 cups hot cocoa mix

1-2 cups white chocolate cocoa mix

mini marshmallows

chocolate chips

Method

Grate the zest off of 2-3 tangerines or oranges, and combine them in a coffee mill or food processor with 1 cup of granulated sugar. Pulse until the sugar turns bright orange – about 30 seconds.

Layer the sugar in jars or clear plastic piping bags with instant hot cocoa mix, white chocolate cocoa mix, marshmallows, and chocolate chips.

To make a cup, mix all the ingredients together well, and combine it with hot water, 2 tablespoons to every cup of water.

And since you’re making orange sugar, make a bigger batch, and keep some on hand. It’s great in coffee (with a pinch of cardamom), sprinkled over pancakes, or in place of sugar in all your baking (including #Mugcakes !)

Mummy Tails

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It might have been just me, but I always thought chocolate covered frozen bananas were called “Monkey Tails.”   It might be racist to the monkeys, but I’m pretty sure they can’t read.   (That might also be monkey racist.) It’s better if I just forget all about monkeys and focus on the task at hand…Halloween treats.

I’m not suggesting you hand these out to your neighborhood kids (unless they come dressed as monkeys). Just make a few for you and yours to enjoy while you wait for the doorbell to ring.  As an added bonus, the sight of you eating something with eyes might keep the neighborhood kids away!

Ingredients

Bananas

Sticks

Chocolate chips

White chocolate chips

Method

  1. Peel your banana, shove a stick up it, and pop it in the freezer.
  1. Melt the chocolate chips over a double boiler, or in a microwave (10 minute bursts, with stirring in between).
  1. Dip your ‘naners into the chocolate (you may need to assist with a spoon), then return them to the freezer.
  1. Melt the white chocolate (in the same manner as the dark). Use a fork to drizzle the white chocolate over the chocolate covered banana in a mummy-like fashion. Add eyes, if you dare. Return to the freezer for at least 5 minutes—or overnight.   Serve with a smile.
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