Monday, November 29, 2010

The Northern Spy kale salad

One of my favorite food discoveries is Tuscan kale (also known as Dinosaur kale), raw, sliced thinly, and tossed with a bit of lemon juice, olive oil and grated Parmesan cheese. Well, a couple weeks ago I had an improved version of this salad at a lovely restaurant in New York's Lower East Side called Northern Spy.  Ribbons of raw Tuscan kale, roasted acorn squash, almonds and wisps of cheese made for a delicious combination.  Turns out, it is easy to make at home with the goodies from the farmer's market.  Oh, and I love my new silicon baking sheet liners along with Deb's (over at Smitten Kitchen) method of oiling the sheet, not the vegetables.

Kale salad with acorn squash and almonds
1/2 pound of Tuscan kale
1/2 small-medium acorn squash
1/4 cup whole roasted almonds
Juice of 1/2 small lemon
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino chees
A healthy glug of olive oil
Salt, pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees, cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Slice the squash across into 1/2 inch slices and put them on an oiled baking sheet lined with foil or silicon mats, if you would like. Season gently with salt and roast, flipping over halfway, for about 20-25 minutes until soft and browned.  Meanwhile, remove the ribs from the kale and slice across very thinly.  Finely dice the shallot and coarsely chop the almonds.  Slightly cool the roasted squash and cut it into 3-4 pieces per slice.  Toss the kale, squash, shallot, and almonds with the juice of 1/2 lemon, most of the grated cheese, a couple tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper.  Pile on a plate and top off with the remaining cheese.  Enjoy as a salad or a lovely seasonal side dish.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Baked ricotta rolls - a random name for a really good dish

Dear friends (well, those who read this blog), I've missed you! I've been away for far too long and out of the many reasons, one really stands out - I've been cooking boring food that I did not deem worth sharing.  For me, the boring (but good!) foods are fried ham with eggs, all manners of roasted vegetables (450 degree oven, salt, pepper, olive oil, maybe cumin or paprika, lemon juice to finish), lentil soup. Yeah, I want to fall asleep reading this too.  At some point, though,  I had to write something, so I give you a dish that is simple, but not boring, easy, yet makes for an impressive dinner and excellent leftovers.  It has no good name (feel free to suggest in comments), but I love it nonetheless.  This week, especially, as you anticipate swimming in turkey, mashed potatoes, and squash, the baked ricotta rolls maybe a reprieve,  a connection to another place and, frankly, an entirely different season.  Soft ricotta, fresh herbs, and a little pasta baked in tomato sauce.

These rolls do not follow a seasonal philosophy. They shamelessly use canned tomatoes and I'm sure would be delicious made with fresh tomatoes in the middle of August.  However, I accidentally made ricotta by overheating my yogurt mixture last week, so I just pretended that it was the middle of August now.  I made this batch with basil, but any soft herb (parsley, chives, even thyme) would be good.

Baked ricotta rolls
2 cups of ricotta cheese
8 dried lasagna sheets
1 28-oz can of whole peeled tomatoes in juice, crushed with your hands
3 cloves of garlic
1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 cup of basil or parsley, chopped and divided, plus whole leaves for baking
Salt, pepper, olive oil, nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, put a medium pot of water on heat to bring to the boil, and start heating a large saute pan for the tomato sauce.  Peel and lightly crush 2 of the garlic cloves, drop them in the pan to be used for the tomato sauce, and saute them in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. When both sides of the garlic have gotten a golden brown color, add the tomatoes (watch for splatter) and let the sauce simmer for 15-20 minutes until slightly thickened.  Stir in salt, pepper, and 1/2 cup of basil.

Your pasta water should be boiling by now.  Salt it well and add 8 sheets of lasagna pasta, stirring to prevent sticking. Cook for 8-9 minutes, or until cooked enough to be pliable, but not fully cooked. Take the pasta out of water and let rest, separated from each other, on a plate (pasta sheets will want to stick).

Mix ricotta cheese with 1/2 cup of Parmesan, a finely chopped remaining clove of garlic, and remaining basil, salt, pepper, and a few swipes of freshly-grated nutmeg.  Position the lasagna sheets a short end in front of you.  Put 2-3 tablespoons of filling on one end of the sheet, then roll gently.  Pour the tomato sauce into a baking dish and nestle the pasta rolls into the sauce.  Top the rolls with 1/2 cup of Parmesan and put a basil leaf on each roll, if you would like.  Bake, covered for 20-25 minutes.  Then uncover and broil for a few minutes until the cheese is bubbling and lightly toasted.  Let cool for 5 minutes, serve and enjoy, perhaps with that boring roasted broccoli.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Cook's Illustrated Pissaladière-Onion, Olive & Anchovy Tart

I was flipping through a pile of old Cook's Illustrated at my sister's. Among other reason that make Cook's Illustrated superior to other culinary publications is the fact that there is always a recipe that you want to make right away. Pissaladière was the one that I ran into. Pissaladière is a simple french staple that can be served for simple dinner, brunch, or a wine paring event. To me it feels that the dish should be accompanied by a vegetable or a green, which, in my case, was a bed of arugula with shaved Pecorino and thin slices of the celery root. Simply blanched green beans or lightly roasted carrots should also compliment the salty and buttery taste of Pissaladière well. A glass of local 2007 Syrah from Delaplane Cellars is was a great pairing. 
2 cups of bread flour and about 1/2 cup for rolling and shaping
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil and another 2 teaspoons of olive oil for brushing and shaping the dough
1/2 cup hot water mixed with 1/2 cup room temperature water
Mix all dry ingredients with oil. Pour in water in three batches mixing gently until the dough forms a ball.
With well floured hands transfer the dough into a floured board and knead for 3-5 minutes until the dough becomes smooth.
Oil a large bowl or a 32 ounce (minimum) tupperware. Place the dough in a bowl/tupperware, roll around once to cover all of the dough with oil, and cover with a plastic wrap/top. Let the dough rise in a draft free place for an hour or leave it overnight in a refrigerator.
2 tablespoons olive oil from anchovies
4 large Vidalia onions, diced into 1/2 inc pieces (4 cups)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon brandy/cognac
1 tablespoon water
Heat the oil on a medium heat in a non-stick or cast iron pan. 
Add onions and salt. Cook for 10 minutes until onions start to brown.
Add brandy/cognac and let the alcohol evaporate. Lower the heat, add water, and cook stirring every 5 minutes for another 20 minutes until onions become golden brown.

the steps of Delaplane Cellars
1/2 cup black pitted olives, roughly chopped
8 anchovy fillets packed in oil, roughly chopped plus 9-10 additional anchovy fillets
thinly sliced green onions (optional)
Preheat the oven to 500F.
Once the dough doubles, with well oiled hands remove the from the container, and divide into 2 equal parts, leaving one in a container while you are shaping the other. 
Shape the dough by pulling and folding the edges of the dough ball in the center. Imagine you are folding chamomile petals.
Flip the dough seam side down and start stretching it by pressing and pulling it with a palm of one hand while holding the other end. Add flour if the dough sticks. Lay on a baking sheet or a pizza stone sprinkled with corn meal or lined with a parchment papper. Repeat with the second piece of dough.
Brush the dough with olive oil. 
Scatter onions, olives, chopped and anchovies. Layer anchovy fillets.
Bake until edges of the dough become golden brown about 15-17 minutes.
Cool and sprinkle with green onions.