Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Garlic Parmesan Edamame

So the other night I was at Checker's (yes, again) with some old friends of mine. Someone ordered the Garlic Parmesan Wings. Now I obviously am not a chicken eater, but the sauce smelled so good that I immediately wanted to try and use it with something.

I kicked around a few ideas in my head and had a list of things to try. Yet it wasn't until I picked up some edamame (which I always try to keep on hand in my freezer for a quick delicious snack) that it hit me - it would be perfect together.

Seriously - WOW! No, really. This is absolutely fantastic. It literally takes about 15 minutes to make and is amazingly tasty. I think this may have just become my absolute favorite way to eat it.

Go ahead - give it a try!

Garlic Parmesan Edamame

Garlic Parmesan Edamame
Serves 4

1 (16 oz) pkg frozen edamame in shell
1/2 c extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c Italian-seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt to taste

Steam edamame in microwave until slightly warm and not frozen. (You can do this one of 2 ways - I have a microwave steamer that I use, or even easier is throwing the edamame in a ziploc bag with about a tbsp of water, sealing it, leaving a small opening for steam, and heating it on high for 2 minutes) Drain and set aside.

In a small food processor, combine olive oil and garlic. Process until well-combined. Heat a wok over medium high heat. Add edamame and toss for a few seconds. Add garlic oil and saute for a minute or two, stirring constantly. Add breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and salt and toss until well coated. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Stuffed Artichokes

Part of what I really love about cooking is the constant desire to know more about it. There's nothing I love more than reading through cookbooks and jotting down recipe ideas and flavor combinations. I guess that makes me a food dork, but I don't care.

One of my favorite things to do is to randomly pick out something at the grocery store that I either have no idea what it is or have never prepared it before in my life. And that's where these artichokes came in. Although I've had them a few times, I've never actually prepared them. And not only have I never prepared them, but I actually had no idea what to do with them. But that didn't scare me. I immediately threw 2 in my bag and vowed to hit up both Google and my go-to cookbook when I got home. (Seriously, if you do not have either Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything" or "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian," then you must get thee straight to your bookstore).

Anyway, I came home, threw these on the counter and stared at them for a bit before I tackled them. First off, watch this video. It will absolutely give you the tools you need to prepare them. Secondly, I caution you - artichokes are dangerous little things and have sharp little spiky points, so use caution when preparing them. And finally, I won't lie when I say these are sort of a high-maintenance vegetable to prepare. You peel, core, and prepare them, and then it's 25 minutes in the steamer, followed by 20 minutes in a hot oven. The good part, though, is that most of this time is non-active time, so it's not like you're slaving over a hot stove endlessly.

For the stuffing, I used panko, but only because I love the light flaky texture of it. You can easily substitute regular bread crumbs. I also used fresh thyme, but only because I had it on hand. Feel free to use whatever fresh herb floats your boat. I also used a truffle olive oil, but only because I could.

No matter how you make these, I can guarantee they will be surprisingly delicious and well worth the prep time.

Food 007

Stuffed Artichokes
Serves 2

2 large artichokes
1/2 c Italian Seasoned panko crumbs
1/4 c freshly shaved Parmesan cheese
3 tbsp fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried thyme
1 tbsp olive oil

Destem, de-choke, and remove the tough outer leaves from the artichokes. (the video is very helpful for this). Bring a steamer with water to a boil. Add artichokes, bottoms up, to steamer and steam for 20 minutes. While they are steaming, combine remaining ingredients in bowl. Remove artichokes from steamer and place bottom down in a baking dish. Preheat oven to 375. Drizzle artichokes with a small amount of olive oil. Place spoonfulls of stuffing mix in center, as well as packed in between the leaves. Place into oven and bake for 20 minutes. Serve and enjoy.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Indian-Spiced Nuts

So obviously, if you peek through my "snacks" recipes, you'll see that I have a slight obsession with salty snacks, especially nuts. Not only are spiced nuts extremely easy to make, but you can essentially use any blend of spices to suit any purpose. And everyone usually likes nibblies, so these are perfect to put out at parties or when you have unexpected guests.

The Indian-Spiced Peanut Brittle was such a hit with my friends and family, but it's something you can only eat every so often, due to the high sugar content. I decided to use those spices, yet just make a mixed nut batch. And quite frankly, I think they came out perfectly. I also added some black sesame seeds for a nice little twist, but feel free to use regular sesame seeds in their place. And although I've used pine nuts, walnuts, cashews, and almonds, feel free to substitute whatever nuts you like best.

Indian-Spiced Nuts I

Indian-Spiced Nuts

1/4 heaping tsp coriander seed
1/4 heaping tsp fennel seed
1/4 heaping tsp yellow mustard seed
1/4 heaping tsp white peppercorns
1/4 heaping tsp cumin seed
1/2 tsp black sesame seeds
1/4 tsp coarse kosher salt
1/8 tsp ground chipotle chile powder (optional)

1/4 c raw pinenuts
1/2 c raw walnuts
1/2 c raw almonds
3/4 c raw cashews
1/2 c sugar

In a small skillet, toast coriander, fennel, mustard seed, peppercorns, and cumin seeds for a few minutes, or until they start to pop. Shake continuously throughout this process. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a minute or two. Place in mortar and pestle (or spice grinder) and process until coarsely ground. Place in a small container and add sesame seeds, salt, and chipotle powder.

In large pan, combine nuts and sugar over medium high heat. Stir frequently until sugar starts to melt. Lower heat, and stir continuously for 10 minutes, or until sugar starts to fully melt and cover nuts. Add spice mixture and continue to cook for an additional 30 seconds, until nuts are well glazed and pepper is well mixed in. Pour onto sheet of wax paper on a cooling rack and spread out. Allow to cool. Store in tightly-sealed container.

Looking for more?? Try these:
*Chili Lime Peanuts
*Lemon Pepper Cashews
*Jasmine Tea and Ginger Almonds
*Chili Chai Walnuts
*Sweet and Spicy Walnuts
*Green Tea Wasabi Almonds

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Mushroom and Smoked Garlic Cream Sauce

So I've got this smoker now, right? And I must admit, I'm slightly obsessed with it. It's a lot of fun to play around with, and I've been researching all sorts of things to throw in there and try.

This week, it was garlic. I used hickory wood and smoked a few heads of fresh local garlic. And let me tell you - FANTASTIC! I just tossed them in some olive oil, some kosher salt, and freshly cracked pepper, threw it in the smoker, and smoked it for about 45 minutes. It came out perfectly!

Smoked Garlic II

So I wanted a dish to highlight this great ingredient, so I decided to try a cream sauce with pasta. Boy, is this a great dish. The smoked garlic sits center stage, yet it has the hearty flavor of the fresh baby bella mushrooms, as well as the shiitakes, to back it up.

But don't worry - if you don't have access to any smoked garlic, go ahead and substitute your standard roasted garlic. The flavor will be much different, but will still be delicious. Either way you make this, I'm sure you'll enjoy it!

Smoked Garlic and Mushroom Sauce I

Mushroom and Smoked Garlic Cream Sauce
Serves 4

1/4 oz dried shiitake mushrooms
3/4 c hot water
2 cups chopped baby bella mushrooms
1 entire head smoked garlic (or roasted garlic)
1 cup heavy cream (or soy creamer)
Salt and pepper
8 oz dried pasta, prepared according to directions (I used Campanelle)

In a small bowl, cover dried shiitake mushrooms with hot water. Allow to sit for at least 15 minutes. While those are soaking, clean and chop the baby bella mushrooms. Drain reconstituted mushrooms, saving the soaking water. Finely chop reconstituted mushrooms and set aside. Peel head of garlic and place cloves into food processor. Add heavy cream and process for about 30 seconds. In a medium-sized saucepan, heat 2 tbsp olive oil. Add baby bella and shiitake mushrooms, and saute for 2-3 minutes until they start to soften up. Add the mushroom soaking water and the garlic-cream mixture, and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and simmer until mixture reduces and coats the back of a spoon, about 15 minutes. (If you are inpatient, whisk 1 tsp of cornstarch into a tbsp or two of additional heavy cream, add to sauce, and simmer a minute or two until thickened). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve sauce over prepared pasta.