Friday, December 28, 2018

A tasty and simple sauce for green vegetables

My usual approach to serving a vegetable side dish is to keep it very simple—often just steaming the vegetable--and concentrate my cooking energy on the other parts of the meal. I recently found this recipe, which gives a big flavor boost while still being simple to prepare. This will now be a standard!  The original recipe was for broccoli florets, but the next night I made it with a mixture of green beans and snow peas, and that was also great.  The first night, I minced fresh garlic cloves.  The second night I used minced garlic from a jar, and I didn't notice a difference.  The first night, I toasted the nuts; the second night I didn't bother, and didn't notice the difference. I originally made this recipe because it called for hazelnuts, and I happened to have some on hand, but I'm confident it would also be good with other nuts (I'd try pecans, cashews, or pistachios, or walnuts).

BROCCOLI (or other green vegetable) WITH SCALLION DRESSING
 AND HAZELNUTS (or other nuts)
adapted from The New American Plate Cookbook
4 servings

4 cups small broccoli florets (or green beans, snow peas, or other green vegetable)
1 T. toasted sesame oil
3 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely minced (from a jar also fine)
1 T. soy sauce
3 T. coarsely chopped toasted (or not) hazelnuts (or other nuts)

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the broccoli (or other vegetable) and cook for 3-4 minutes, until cooked to your liking. Drain the broccoli and rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking process.

In a medium bowl, combine the sesame oil, scallions, garlic, and soy sauce. Add the broccoli, toss well, and top with the nuts.  Serve at room temperature.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Shepherd's Pie

Looking for some comfort food as the weather gets cooler? I made this recently for a simple dinner with friends, and it was enjoyed all around.

adapted from WeightWatchers Simply Delicious
makes 6 servings

1-1/2 lbs. potatoes (about 3 large), cut in about 1" chunks (I leave the skins on the potatoes, but you can peel if you prefer)
1 t. olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced (minced garlic from a jar is fine)
1 lb. ground beef or lamb
14-1/2 oz. diced canned tomatoes with juice
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 t. salt (divided in half)
1/4 t. freshly ground pepper
1/2 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. dried thyme
about 1 t. butter
about 1/4 cup milk

1.     If you think of it in advance, measure out a cup of frozen peas early in the day and let defrost in the refrigerator. Or you can take them out when you start preparing the meal and put them in a bowl of cold water to defrost, then drain.

2.     Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

3.     Put the potato chunks in cold water to cover, in a large pot.  Bring to a boil and then simmer until tender when tested with a fork, about 20 minutes total. (Instructions for finishing the mashed potatoes in step 6 below.)

4.     While the potatoes are cooking, heat a large nonstick skillet. Put in the olive oil and heat up. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add the beef or lamb and brown, breaking it apart as it cooks, about 5 minutes. Drain all excess fat from the skillet.

5.     Stir in the tomatoes (with their juice), peas, 1/4 t. salt, pepper, oregano, and thyme. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

6.     When the potatoes are done cooking, drain them and then return to the saucepan. Sprinkle with 1/4 t. salt. Mash in the butter and then the milk, adding more milk if needed to get to a good consistency.

7.     Spread the meat mixture in a 9" baking pan or a 1-1/2 quart casserole. Spread the mashed potatoes evenly over the meat. Bake until the potatoes begin to brown and the filling is bubbly, about 20 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

269 calories per serving

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Thai salmon (or other fish) soup with ginger and lime juice

Last night I wanted to make soup with our new Sitka Salmon delivery, and wanted something brothy rather than a milk-based chowder, which is what I've made before. Looking through my file of saved recipes, I found this one, copied a while back from a friend's cookbook. The original recipe called for some ingredients not available to me, but it suggested substitutes that I used (lime juice instead of tamarind liquid, cilantro leaves rather than roots), and the soup came out great--more tasty than I imagined it would from such a simple recipe.  The soup alone isn't quite enough for a full dinner; we had some crackers and guacamole on the side.

I've given two sets of instructions, one for making the whole recipe at once, and one for dividing it in half, to eat on two separate nights, which is how David and I generally cook. Usually I just cook a whole recipe and heat up leftovers, but when cooking fish, I like to cook the fish on the same night I'm serving it. For this recipe, I made all the broth (including what would have been garnishes at the end), set aside half, and will add the rest of the salmon on the second night.

adapted from Quick and Easy Thai
serves 4

3 cups water
3 T. coarsely chopped shallots (about 1 large bulb)
1/4 c. chopped cilantro, divided in half
1/2 t. freshly ground pepper
3-inch chunk of fresh ginger
3/4 lb salmon or other meaty fish fillets (e.g. cod, tilapia), cut into about 1" chunks
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 T. fish sauce
2 T. brown sugar
1/4 t. salt
2 T. thinly sliced green onions

1.     Cut up the ginger into small chunks and then mince it in a food processor.  Add the shallots, 2 T. cilantro, pepper. Process, adding 1/2 cup of the water as you process, to make a fairly smooth paste.

2.     In a medium saucepan, combine the paste with the remaining 2-1/2 cups water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

3.     Add the lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar, salt, and the cut-up salmon.  Return soup to a boil and simmer until the salmon is just cooked through (about 2 minutes of total cooking time).  Stir in the green onions and remaining cilantro leaves.

If serving just 2 people and you want to cook the salmon fresh when having leftovers on a second night:

Do steps 1 and 2, as above.

3.  Add the lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar, salt, green onions, and remaining cilantro leaves.  Divide the broth in half (about 2 cups each portion) and put one portion in the refrigerator, along with half the cut-up salmon.

4.  Put the other portion of broth back in the saucepan, add half the cut-up salmon, bring to a boil and simmer until the salmon is just cooked through (about 2 minutes of total cooking time).

5. For a second night, repeat step 4.