Posts tagged ‘cucumber’

Leftovers At Last

Headache, and M is working late. I just heated up one little leftover lamb chop and had it with leftover pink-eyed peas, cucumber tomato artichoke salad, and the last eggplant relish from several days ago. There are three chops left for M and plenty of peas.

June 25, 2008 at 11:53 pm Leave a comment

Lamb, Beans, Salad

Menu: Lemon-Garlic Lamb Chops with Yogurt Sauce * Marinated Pink-Eyed Peas and Fresh Herbs * Cucumber Tomato Artichoke Salad

Lemon-Garlic Lamb Chops with Yogurt Sauce (from The Gourmet Cookbook)
I didn’t change this much if at all, so I’ll type it in as it is in the cookbook.

In Turkey, lamb – the meat of choice – is very often served with this simple yogurt sauce, a Mediterranean classic (the key is fragrant mint). To give the yogurt a thicker texture, we drain it before mixing in the garlic and mint.

Yogurt Sauce:
1 c plain yogurt
1 garlic clove, minced
2 T chopped fresh mint
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chops:
1/4 c fresh lemon juice
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 tsp dried oregano, crumbled
3 T olive oil
4 1/2-inch thick shoulder lamb chops
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 T water

Yogurt sauce: Set a sieve lined with a double thickness of cheesecloth over a bowl, add yogurt to sieve, and let drain at room temperature for 20 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and stir in remaining ingredients. (Note: I don’t keep cheesecloth around, so I used a #4 unbleached basket coffee filter and it worked just fine.)

Chops: Stir together lemon juice, garlic, oregano, and 2 T oil in a shallow baking dish. Add chops, turn to coat, and marinate 20 minutes. (I have an Italian herb blend grinder; I used that.)

Remove lamb from marinade (reserve marinade) and season with salt and pepper. Heat remaining 1 T oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Cook chops in 2 batches, turning once, about 4 minutes per batch for medium rare. Transfer to plates and cover loosely with foil.

Add reserved marinade to skillet with 1 T water, and deglaze skillet by boiling, stirring and scraping up any brown bits, for 1 minute. Pour pan sauce over chops and serve with yogurt sauce.

Marinated Pink-Eyed Peas and Fresh Herbs (from Frank Stitt’s Southern Table)
Again, I didn’t change this much, so here it is as Frank Stitts of Highlands in Birmingham wrote it.

This Southern take on a French lentil salad has become a regular staple in summertime, when peas are at their prime. It is a great barbecue side dish, easy to make, and holds up well for several hours. I like to serve it with creamed corn and fried okra as part of a vegetable plate.

2 pounds pink-eyes, black-eyes, crowders, or butter peas, or a combination, shelled
2 onions, quartered
1 ham hock or a small chunk of slab bacon
2 dried hot chile peppers
2 bay leaves
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bunch sage, leaves removed and torn into small pieces
1 bunch thyme, leaves removed
fresh ground black pepper
hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco or Cholula (my note: since living in New Orleans, Crystal is the hot sauce of choice)

In a large pot, combine peas, onions, ham hock, hot peppers, bay leaves, and salt; add cold water to cover by three inches. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and simmer til tender, 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the freshness of the peas. Set aside to cool in cooking liquid, then drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the liquid. Discard onions, peppers, and bay leaves; if desired, remove meat from ham hock and reserve for another use (discard the bacon if that’s what you used).

In a large pan, heat olive oil with garlic, sage, and thyme until fragrant. Add peas along with reserved cooking liquid and toss to mix. Season with salt and pepper and serve with hot pepper sauce.

(I spaced out and accidentally drained all of the liquid; I tried to make up for it with a few shakes of Pickapeppa sauce and soy sauce, plus some cane vinegar. The flavors were good, but the peas were slightly dry, only slightly, but next time I would pay more attention.)

Cucumber Tomato Artichoke Salad
Sunday evening’s recipe again, replicated successfully.

June 25, 2008 at 1:45 am Leave a comment

Pork, Beans, Veg, Pasta, Veg

Menu: Sauteed Pork with Broad Bean Ratatouille * Lemon-Pepper Fettucine * Cucumber Tomato Artichoke Salad

We’re trying to watch our wallets and our weight here, so I buy a lot of produce at the farmers market so we have good healthy vegetables, and today I was shopping at Sam’s and came across a huge batch of boneless pork back ribs and thought, “hm, I bet I can do something with that.” I’d been planning some marinating and some braising, but by the time I got home, it was time to find something quick to do for dinner. It wound up taking an hour, but it was worth it.

Sauteed Pork (serves 3; we provide leftovers for an injured friend on Mondays, and I always want them to be good leftovers) (original recipe from Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything”… it was for pork chops)

8 boneless back pork ribs
fresh ground sea salt and mixed peppercorns
2 T olive oil
1/2 c vermouth (original recipe called for dry white wine; this was as close as I could get)
1 tsp minced garlic (original says “or 2 T minced shallot, onion, or scallion)
1/2 c water (original says “or chicken, beef, or vegetable stock)
1 T wine vinegar (original says “or freshly squeezed lemon juice, which I might try next time)
a handful of fresh sage leaves, chopped

1 small eggplant
1 red bell pepper
1/4 corno di toro pepper
1 15-oz can broad beans (butter beans or limas)
1 15-oz can cannelini beans

Sprinkle the ribs with salt and pepper. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat for 2 or 3 minute.s Add 2 T olive oil; as soon as the first wisps of smoke rise from the oil, add the chops and turn the heat to high. Brown the ribs on all sides, moving them around to develop good color all over. The entire browning process should take no longer than 4 minutes, and preferably less.

Reduce heat to medium. Add vermouth and garlic and cook, turning meat once or twice until wine is all but evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 c water, turn to low, and cover. Cook 10 to 15 minutes, turning meat once or twice, until meat is tender but not dry. When done, they will be firm to the touch, juices will run just slightly pink, and when you cut into them (which you should do if you’re at all unsure of their doneness), the color will be rosy at first glance but quickly turn pale.

(this is where I switch to one of the Eight Ways provided by Mark Bittman, Sauteed With Onions and Peppers, which I change quite a bit)

Leaving everything else in the pan, remove the meat to a preheated oven to warm. Sprinkle chopped sage over before closing oven.

To pan juices, add 1 small eggplant, diced; 1 red bell pepper, diced, and 1/4 corno di toro pepper, minced. Stir, re-cover pan, and cook 5 minutes over medium heat. Remove cover and cook, stirring, until vegs are softened and beginning to brown, about 5 more minutes. Add 1 can broad beans and 1 can cannelini beans, both drained. Moisten with 1/2 c water (or stock), then cook til most liquid is absorbed. Splash wine vinegar over; taste and correct for salt if need be. Keep warm over lowest heat, stirring occasionally.

If you wind up waiting for salad or pasta to be finished, add pork to pan for final warming on low.

Cucumber Tomato Artichoke Salad:
2 medium to large pickling cucumbers (large relative to other pickling cucumbers)
1 medium to large tomato
1/2 can quartered artichoke hearts packed in water
fresh basil
feta cheese
Steen’s cane vinegar

Chop cucumbers; chop tomato. Halve quartered artichoke hearts to make eighthed hearts. Combine in bowl; sprinkle lightly with fresh ground sea salt and cane vinegar. Chiffonade basil; sprinkle over, them add feta cheese to taste (we always add rather a lot). Mix.

Pasta
How wonderful it would be to use fresh noodles, or almost-fresh noodles, but instead we assayed “al denteTM All-Natural Carba-Nada Lemon Pepper Fettucine Noodles” … which were not that bad. Cook your favorite pasta as you like; serve.

We were going to have fresh blueberries and vanilla yogurt for dessert, but life intervened in the form of someone coming by to buy a bed we’d listed on Craigslist and it got too late.

Chef’s sustenance
Cherry tomatoes out of the bowl… diet tonic water with lime

Chef’s soundtrack
Donovan, “Jersey Thursday” * Doc Watson, “Cotton Eyed Joe” * Joan Osborne, “Make You Feel My Love” * Stevie Ray Vaughan, “Love Struck Baby” * Joe Henry, “Angels” * Django Reinhardt & Stephane Grappelli, “Tiger Rag” * Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Maps” * David Bowie, “Heroes” (Live at The Bridge School Concert) * Jimi Hendrix, “May This Be Love” * The Smiths, “Back to the Old House” * Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd, “Desafinado” * Sparklehorse, “Don’t Take My Sunshine Away” * The Smiths, “You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet Baby” * Sting, “I Burn For You” * Fleetwood Mac, “Oh Well, Part 1” * Royskopp, “Remind Me” * Suzy Bogguss, “Comes Love” * Stereolab, “Percolator”

How did it turn out?
I really liked it. It wound up being more work than I’d anticipated, and I always resist “remove from the pan you just got all dirty by cooking into a whole new pan that will get all dirty, just to sit and keep warm in,” but I’m glad I did. I really really wish I’d been able to have fresh noodles. And I will spend the rest of my cooking life trying to make sure I can replicate that salad. Not a drop of oil, just the slight maceration from salting the cukes and tomatoes, and a few shakes of cane vinegar, mixing with the feta cheese, and it was wonderful.

Would I make it again?
Yes, even with low-carb pasta.

June 23, 2008 at 2:22 am 3 comments

Friday night

Menu: burgers with cracked pepper and garlic * oven fries with rosemary and sea salt * cucumber and cherry tomato salad with smoked tomato ranch dressing * Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy

H-E-B provided much of our dinner again tonight. Their meat department has a whole series of burgers, from this cracked pepper-garlic version to a fresh poblano-cheddar patty. The Alexia potato line in the freezer case yielded the oven fries. The farmers market was the source of the cukes and tomatoes. We finished them up tonight, leaving the crisper drawer ready for tomorrow’s expedition.

June 14, 2008 at 12:55 am Leave a comment

Fish, Noodles, Salad

Menu: salmon with hoisin-chili sauce * soba noodles with mushrooms and spinach * cucumber salad

Last night, I was really looking forward to the leftover Accidentally Amazing Black Beans. This afternoon, swamped by work, I forgot about that, and compiled a grocery list. On the way home, I stopped at our new H-E-B and picked up two nice little salmon filets. I knew I had the rest of a large tub of fresh spinach leaves, and while I was wandering around H-E-B thinking about what to have with salmon and spinach, I came across an end-cap freezer display of Central Market “Exotic Mushrooms in Cream Sauce” and remembered that there was a packet of soba noodles in the pantry.

(Central Market is the Whole Foods concept of H-E-B, our terrific Texas grocery chain. Central Market has specialty and organic groceries, but you can also buy Splenda and Coke. Central Market just absolutely rocks, as does H-E-B, whose community involvement should serve as a role model for businesses everywhere. Meanwhile, H-E-B has started marketing Central Market-brand products in its regular stores. Perfect cycle.)

Hoisin Salmon
2 salmon filets * 2 T hoisin sauce * 1 tsp chili garlic sauce * 1 tsp soy sauce
Preheat oven to 450. Put filets in oven-safe pan, skin-side down. Mix remaining ingredients; spoon over, and spread across surface of fish. Bake 10 minutes per 1-inch-thickness of fish (tonight I did it for about 7 minutes).

Soba Noodles with Mushrooms and Spinach
Exotic Mushrooms in Cream Sauce mix (includes Nameko mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, and oyster mushrooms; heavy cream, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper)
Fresh baby spinach leaves
1 bundle soba noodles

Cook mushrooms according to package. Boil noodles according to package directions. Drain noodles; add to mushrooms in large saute pan. Add spinach; cook and mix. Splash in a few shakes each of soy sauce and sesame oil, and a drib of juice from a jar of pickled ginger. Stir; let simmer or stay warm on low.

Cucumber salad
1 pickling cucumber, sliced thin * Drew’s Thai lime salad dressing

Cook’s sustenance
Vodka-tonic (really really must pick up that Plymouth)
wasabi rice crackers

Cook’s soundtrack
Coldplay, “Clocks”
Jack Constanzo, “I Love Paris”
Bill Lloyd, “All at Once You Unzipped”
Fountains of Wayne, “It Must Be Summer”
XTC, “Happy Families”
Shuggie Otis, “Island Letter”
Journey, “Separate Ways”
Patsy Cline & The Jordanaires, “Always”
Alejandro Escovedo, “Velvet Guitar”
Bananarama, “Robert DeNiro’s Waiting”
Coldplay, “Proof”
Caetano Veloso, “The Man I Love”
Derek & The Dominoes, “Bell Bottom Blues”
Zero 7, “Distractions”

How did it turn out?
Delish. The salmon done at the higher temperature was moist and tender (until now, I had been cooking it longer at a lower temp). The soba noodles were terrific, and I could imagine that they would also be good cold.

Would I make it again?
Yes. I make salmon frequently and will do it at the higher temperature for the shorter time from now on. And the soba noodles were tasty and should be good left over. I’ll be tussling with M to see who gets the last leftover Accidentally Amazing Black Beans and who gets the soba.

June 12, 2008 at 1:41 am Leave a comment

Fish, Grain, Salad

 

Menu (Serves 2):

Baked wrapped tilapia filets . red quinoa with sun-dried tomatoes and roasted yellow peppers . cucumber/cherry tomato salad . banana cake with chocolate-chip/pecan streusel & coffee ice cream

 

I have no real excuse for not cooking on Saturdays. M and I like to take our yellow dog, Bailey, to the farmers market, and see what demands to be taken home. This week we picked up pickling cucumbers for salads, cherry tomatoes, and little peaches. Then on our grocery store run, we bought tilapia.

I’ve got a good cookbook collection, but I tend to check online first. Epicurious yielded a baked wrapped tilapia recipe from Chef Duncan Pickford in the June 2003 issue of Self billed as “Tori Amos’ favorite recipe” (this had nothing to do with my picking it), and since it suggested a substitution of parchment paper (which I have) for banana leaves (which I don’t), it seemed worth a try.

As usual, the recipe was a starting point:

Ingredients:

Topping:

  • 1-inch cube fresh gingerroot, finely chopped or grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped or grated
  • 2 green onions (green part only), finely chopped
  • Fresh chile to taste
  • 1 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 tbsp grapeseed (or safflower) oil
  • Dash of toasted sesame oil
  • Dash of soy sauce
  • Dash of fish sauce
  • 4 tsp dark maple syrup
  • 4 fillets (4 oz each) fresh tilapia (or other firm-fleshed whitefish) 
I planted cilantro earlier this season, but our deer munched quite a bit of it. They did not, however, bother with any of my basil, so I had lemon basil, and the Mexican marigold that had been pruned out in an earlier munch had grown back. I gathered about a cup’s worth of a combination of those herbs and chopped them finely. I added them to the ginger, diced finely because I can’t find my ginger grater. M doesn’t like onions, so I didn’t bother with those. I have eleventy-umpteen condiments of all cuisines in my refrigerator and pantry, but no fish sauce or fresh chilis (or chiles), so I got out the Huy Fong Vietnamese chili garlic sauce. Sesame oil, check; soy sauce, check (wheat-free tamari); wasabi oil substituted for grapeseed oil; Steen’s cane syrup; substituted for maple syrup.
Preparation:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine all topping ingredients in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place a fillet on each banana leaf and divide topping evenly among them, spreading it over the top. Fold each banana leaf over to form a packet around each fillet and seal the edge of each packet with a small piece of aluminum foil, crimping it tightly. Place on a baking sheet and bake 25 to 30 minutes.
(Parchment paper substituted for banana leaf.)
Quinoa
1 c red quinoa (I used Ancient Harvest Inca Red)
2 c water
6 dried sun-dried tomatoes, cut into slivers
1 yellow bell pepper, roasted, skinned, and chopped
1 T olive oil or butter
Put quinoa, water, and sun-dried tomatoes together in saucepan; cover, bring to boil, let boil 5 min. Leaving cover in place, let sit 15 minutes or until fish is done. Toss with olive oil/butter and chopped pepper; salt to taste.
Cucumber-cherry tomato salad
2 pickling cucumbers; ends trimmed, sliced lengthwise into quarters, cut into quarter-moons
8 cherry tomatoes, quartered
Divide between two plates; grind fresh salt over, dress with salad dressing of choice if desired.
We don’t have dessert every night, but this morning I had to do something with several too-ripe bananas and turned to Epicurious for help. The leftovers of our banana coffee cake were excellent rewarmed and accompanied by a little scoop of Blue Bell coffee ice cream. recipe here, not much modified except to cook in a 9″ round pan because thanks to a childhood with the occasional Sara Lee, I think of coffee cakes as round)
Chef’s sustenance:
1 vodka-tonic with fresh mint and cucumber
rice crackers
Chef’s soundtrack:
Bill Withers, “Lovely Day”
Love Tractor, “We All Love Each Other”
The Notting Hillbillies, “Your Own Sweet Way”
Shuggie Otis, “Cold Shot”
Journey, “Any Way You Want It”
The Dukes of Dixieland, “Original Dixieland One Step”
Randy Newman, “Last Night I Had a Dream”
Alejandro Escovedo, “Wedding Day”
Violent Femmes, “Blister in the Sun”
PJ Harvey, “We Float”

How did it turn out?

Surprisingly wonderful. I was, frankly, cranky about having to cook the tilapia. A wonderful balance of heat and sweet. I had the leftovers for lunch and it held up. I don’t know that the sun-dried tomatoes added anything to the quinoa, but the peppers certainly did.

Would I make it again?
Yes. Soon, probably.

June 8, 2008 at 2:17 am Leave a comment


Some of my cookbooks

In no order except for how they appear in my LibraryThing cookbook catalog: True Women Cookbook: Original Antique Recipes, Photographs, & Family Folklore, Janice Woods Windle (1997) * Made in Texas; H-E-B's 100th Anniversary Cookbook (2005) * The Texas Cowboy Cookbook: A History in Recipes and Photos, Robb Walsh (2007) * The Silver Palate Cookbook, Julee Rosso, Sheila Lukins (1982) * In the Land of Cocktails: Recipes and Adventures from the Cocktail Chicks, Ti Adelaide Martin & Lally Brennan (2007) * Braise: A Journey Through International Cuisine, Daniel Boulud (2006) * Moosewood Cookbook : Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant, Mollie Katzen (1977) * Crescent City Cooking: Unforgettable Recipes from Susan Spicer's New Orleans, Susan Spicer (2007) * Saveur Cooks Authentic American: By the Editors of Saveur Magazine, ed. Colman Andrews (1998)

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