Thursday, November 18, 2010

Raw Butternut Squash and Carrot Salad



I do have a soft spot in my heart for Mark Bittman (Bitty, aka the "Bittster"). I watched his travels in Spain with Mario Batali and Gwyneth Paltrow (who invited a vegetarian to a pork-based country?) and was endlessly amused by his no nonsense "I'm from New York" attitude.

And he gets double points for his alter-ego, the Minimalist (a fantastic culinary superhero name in my book), his blog on the NY Times that emphasizes quick and easy recipes. And in terms of quick and easy, this recipe took the cake. Or rather the carrot. Even I, a longtime Minimalist fan, saw his recent posting about the glory of serving raw vegetables, I was initially unimpressed. I mean, cutting up vegetables and serving them with ranch dressing is not exactly rocket science.

But I had judged Bitty too quickly. As I scrolled through the recipe for a raw butternut squash salad, my dismissal turned to mild curiosity. Butternut squash? Raw? I mean, I'm a hearty supporter of the vegetable, but having chomped down on a few "not-quite-cooked" pieces now and again, I was skeptical of the vegetable's potential as a raw side dish.

Alas, again, I judged too quickly. Grating the butternut squash was key. It produced this fresh delicious salad, perfect for using up those butternut squashes which (if you're like me) are optimistically bought at the market and then just.quietly sit on the counter for weeks, sadly unused and under-appreciated.

I followed Bittman's recipe initially but then decided one raw orange vegetable really deserves another, so added shredded carrot to the mix. For the win.

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

1 butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded and grated

2 medium carrots, peeled and grated

4 spring onions, chopped

1/2 cup raisins

1/8 cup vegetable oil

1/8 cup toasted sesame seed oil

2-3 tablespoons sherry vinegar, or to taste

1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or crushed chillis)

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

Salt and freshly ground black pepper.



Combine the squash,carrots, spring onions, cayenne/chillis, raisins, oil, vinegar and ginger in a salad bowl; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to several hours.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Southwestern Deviled Eggs

A Borough Market carnivorous pumpkin
These comprise Part Deux of "Savory Halloween 2010", an accidental but delicious culinary experiment. Overwhelmed with sweet goodies, I needed something savory and, in homage to my Arizonan roots, spicy. I had recently purchased some Chipotle Chiles in adobo sauce from my first foray to Borough Market (see carniverous pumpkin photo below) and I was yearning to try it out in any way possible. A quick recipe search for deviled eggs (what could be more Halloween-y than that?) brought up Emeril's recipe for Southwestern Deviled Eggs, complete with what was termed "Emeril's Southwestern Seasoning". Well, it seemed fairly standard to me, but as it was delicious, credit needs to be given where credit is due.

The other surprise lesson learned in the course of this recipe was that of the "perfect hard boiled egg". I know, I know, there's no excuse for me *not* to know how to boil an egg at this late stage, but there's always been something slightly mysterious to me about the whole process. Do you start with cold water? Hot water? How long do you boil them? How long do you let them rest? How do you get the shells to come off easily? Well, again, the internet provided me with all the answers I needed. The hard boiled egg recipe I used worked like a charm and made peeling those bad boys a snap. 

The only substitute to this recipe was the swap of dijon mustard mayo (found in my local Tesco) for regular mayonnaise. It made it just that much more zesty, and who doesn't like mustard in deviled eggs? For those of you out there without the convenience of the Tesco-based product, a mix of dijon mustard and majo will surely work just fine. Enjoy!


Ingredients
  • 1 dozen hard-boiled large eggs, peeled (recipe follows)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (or dijon mustard/mayo mix)
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced pickled jalapenos, drained
  • 2 tablespoons canned chipotle in adobo sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Emeril's Southwest Seasoning, recipe follows
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked hot paprika, for garnish

Directions
Slice the eggs in half lengthwise and carefully remove the yolks. Press the yolks through a fine-mesh sieve into a mixing bowl. Add the mayonnaise, jalapenos, chipotle in adobo, Southwest Essence, and salt to taste. Stir to blend well. Spoon the mixture into the egg whites. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour. Sprinkle with the paprika just before serving. (If the paprika is added too early it will stain the eggs.)

Emeril's Southwest Seasoning:
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
Combine all ingredients thoroughly.

Yield: 1/2 cup

Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs

Carefully set eggs in a pan. You may use as few as one or as many as a dozen. Cover the eggs with 1" of cold water.

Set the pan on the stove and heat until water comes to a rolling boil.

Cover with a lid and set off. Let sit for approx. 15 minutes.

Dump water and fill pan with ice-cold water. Leave the eggs in the pan.  Let sit 15 - 20 min and dump the water. Your eggs are ready for peeling.





Pretzel Bites (aka Halloween Ladies' Fingers)




  I've always had a soft spot for Halloween, not just because of the free candy. Well, ok, not entirely because of the free candy. Particularly as I've grown older and the option of trick or treating has become increasingly unlikely, I've had to make my own delectable treats in celebration of ghouls, goblins, etc. But ironically enough, it's a savory treat that I associate most with the holiday. Way (and I mean way) back in high school, I hosted a Halloween party for my friends. Looking for food ideas of a non-candy variety (we did have to eat some form of dinner), I stumbled upon these creations by none other than the hostess with the mostest, Martha Stewart. Called "Ladies' Fingers", they were small bite-size pretzels shaped to look like, well, you guessed it, fingers. The original recipe called for sliced almonds, dyed red with food coloring, to make the pretzel look like an actual finger.

Now, way back when, I followed dear Martha's advice to the letter. Fast forward a few (ok, more than a few) years and I couldn't be bothered by the multi, multi, multi step process that involved not only making your own pretzels, but also dying and attaching red almond slices just for the spooky effect. And considering there would only be two of us to eat them, well, it just seemed silly. So, I turned them into normal pretzel bites, which were phenomenal in their own right. Sprinkled with sea salt and rosemary, these babies disappear faster than you can say "Happy Halloween". And hey, if you're feeling creative, go crazy and do it the Martha Stewart way. They look awesome and if you're having guests, they're sure to impress.











Makes 4 dozen


Ingredients
Red or green food coloring (optional, for fingers)
24 blanched almonds, halved lengthwise
2 cups warm water (110 degrees), plus 3 quarts, plus 1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon sugar
1 package active dry yeast (1/4 ounce)
Vegetable oil
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 tablespoon coarse salt
2 tablespoons baking soda
1 large egg
Sea salt
Rosemary (dried)

Directions
1. Place a small amount of food coloring, if using, in a shallow bowl, and, using a paintbrush, color the rounded side of each split almond; set aside to dry.

2. Pour 2 cups water into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough-hook attachment. Add sugar; stir to dissolve. Sprinkle with yeast, and let stand until yeast begins to bubble, about 5 minutes. Beat in 1 cup flour into yeast on low speed until combined.

3. Beat in coarse salt; add 3 1/2 cups flour, and beat until combined. Continue beating until dough pulls away from bowl, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup flour. Beat 1 minute more. If dough is sticky, add up to 1 cup more flour. Transfer to a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth, 1 minute.
4. Coat a large bowl with cooking spray. Transfer dough to bowl, turning dough to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap; let rest in a warm spot to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

5. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a 6-quart straight-sided saucepan over high heat; reduce to a simmer. Add baking soda. Lightly coat two baking sheets with cooking spray. Divide dough into quarters. Work with one quarter at a time, and cover remaining dough with plastic wrap. Divide first quarter into 12 pieces. On a lightly floured work surface, roll each piece back and forth with your palm forming a long finger shape, about 3 to 4 inches. Pinch dough in two places to form knuckles. Or, to make toes, roll each piece so that it is slightly shorter and fatter, about 2 inches. Pinch in 1 place to form the knuckle.

6. When 12 fingers or toes are formed, transfer to simmering water. Poach for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer fingers to the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough, blanching each set of 12 fingers or toes before making more.

7. Beat egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush pretzel fingers and toes with the egg wash. Using a sharp knife, lightly score each knuckle about three times. Sprinkle with sea salt and rosemary, if using. Position almond nails, pushing them into dough to attach.

8. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on wire rack.

Fingers and toes are best eaten the same day; or store, covered, up to 2 days at room temperature.

Comments system

Disqus Shortname