Grilled Leeks With Romesco Sauce

In Catalonia there is an annual ritual called the calçotada, an outdoor barbecue that revolves around local spring onions called calçots. After harvest, the onions, which look like baby leeks, are grilled, then wrapped in newspapers to steam for a bit. They’re served with romesco sauce, the nut-thickened pepper purée that is another regional specialty. For this picnic recipe, I’ve substituted leeks for the spring onions.

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FOR THE ROMESCO SAUCE

  • 1 medium red pepper
  • 6 ounces tomatoes (1 large or 2 roma)
  • 1 thick slice (about 1 ounce) baguette or country-style bread, lightly toasted
  • large garlic cloves, peeled
  • ¼ cup toasted almonds, or a combination of almonds and skinned roasted hazelnuts
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon pure ground chili powder or red pepper flakes, to taste pepper flakes are hotter
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • ½ teaspoon sweet paprika or Spanish smoked paprika (pimentón)
  • Salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, as needed

FOR THE LEEKS

  • 6 fat leeks, or 12 baby leeks
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • freshly ground pepper

 

Method:

Make the romesco sauce. Preheat the broiler, and cover a baking sheet with foil. Place the tomatoes and pepper on the baking sheet, and place under the broiler at the highest setting. Broil for two to four minutes until charred on one side. Turn over, and broil on the other side for two to four minutes until charred. Remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl and cover tightly to steam. When cooled completely, peel, core, and seed.

Turn on a food processor fitted with the steel blade, and drop in the garlic cloves. When the garlic is chopped and adheres to the sides of the bowl, stop the machine and scrape down the sides. Add the toasted almonds (or almonds and hazelnuts), bread and chili powder or flakes to the bowl. Process into a paste. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the pepper, tomatoes, parsley, paprika, salt and pepper. Process until smooth. With the machine running, add the vinegar and olive oil in a slow stream. Process until well mixed, then scrape into a bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding salt as desired. If possible, allow the sauce to stand for an hour at room temperature before using.

For the Leeks: 

Thoroughly wash the leeks and trim the root ends.

Prepare a medium-hot grill. Grill the leeks directly over the flame until completely charred. Remove onto sheets of newspaper, and wrap so that they steam. After leeks have cooled slightly, unwrap from the newspaper, slide off the burnt exterior, and serve with romesco sauce. To be dipped in the sauce and eaten with the hands.

Pickled Red Onions

Incredibly easy to make, beautiful, delicious, and keep for a long while in the fridge without having to process the cans. The perfect accompaniment to tacos, grilled meats, sandwiches, greens, and more!

Adapted from David Lebovitz’s recipe here.

pickled onions

Ingredients:

(spices can be varied)

  • 3/4 cup (180ml) white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons (50g) sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 allspice berries
  • 5 whole cloves
  • a small, dried chile pepper
  • 1 large red onion, peeled, and thinly sliced into rings
Method:
1. In a small, non-reactive saucepan, heat the vinegar, sugar, salt, seasonings and chile until boiling.
2. Add the onion slices and turn off the heat. Stir, periodically, until the onions soften.
3. Transfer the onions and the liquid into a mason jar then refrigerate until ready to use.
Yield: one mason jar

Italian Pasta Salad with Eggplant

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Ingredients:

  • 1 large eggplant, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, more as needed
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper, more as needed
  • 1 very large ripe tomato, cored and diced (1 and 1/2 cups)
  • ½ pound dried penne
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 3 anchovy fillets (anchovy paste can be substituted)
  • Large pinch chile flakes
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • cup torn basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. On rimmed baking sheet, toss together eggplant, 3 tablespoons olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Spread into one layer. Roast, tossing occasionally, until the eggplant is golden brown, about 25 minutes.
  2. Place tomato in large bowl and sprinkle lightly with salt.
  3. Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook penne to al dente according to package instructions; drain well.
  4. While pasta cooks, heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil. Stir in garlic, anchovies and chile flakes, and cook until golden and soft, about 3 minutes. Pour garlic-chile into bowl with tomatoes. Add eggplant and capers, and toss well.
  5. Add pasta to bowl with eggplant and tomatoes. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste, and drizzle generously with oil. Toss in herbs and serve warm or at room temperature.

Spicy Ginger Pork Noodles With Bok Choy

Easy. Quick. Delicious.

Adapted from the NYT recipe here.

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Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces baby bok choy (3 or 4 small heads)
  • 2 tbsp ginger root, grated
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 ounces rice noodles, not too thin
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound lean ground pork
  • ¼ cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • ½ cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 fresh Thai or habanero chile, seeded if desired, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sesame oil, more for drizzling
  • Cilantro or torn basil, for serving

Method:

  1. Trim bok choy and separate dark green tops from white stems; leave tops whole and thinly slice stems. Peel ginger and grate with the fine side of a box grater (or microplane).
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add noodles and cook according to package instructions. Drain and run under cool water; drain again.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork and cook, breaking up with a fork, until golden and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Season with salt, 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce and 1/2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar. Use a slotted spoon to transfer meat to a bowl.
  4. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to skillet. Stir in half the scallions, the ginger, the garlic and the chile. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add bok choy stems and a pinch of salt. Cook until bok choy is almost tender, about 2 minutes. Toss in leaves and return pork to skillet.
  5. Toss noodles, remaining 1/4 cup soy sauce and 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar into the pan. Cook until just warmed through.
  6. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with remaining scallions, sesame seeds, sesame oil and herbs.

No-Spread Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

These are perfect for use with cookie cutters because, as the name suggests, they do not spread (duh). I always hated making sugar cookies because of the mess, but rolling out the dough between sheets of parchment paper is easy and mess-free! Thanks so much to the Baking A Moment blog for this recipe.

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Ingredients: 

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) cold, unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method: 

  1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar, just until smooth and combined.  Mix in the eggs and vanilla until incorporated.  Add the flour, cornstarch, and salt, and mix on medium low speed (you may need to crank up the speed a little if the thick dough seems like it’s burning out the mixer’s motor).  The mixture will seem very dry and sandy at first, but after 3 to 5 minutes in the mixer it will gather itself into a ball and pull away cleanly from the sides of the bowl.
  3. Roll the dough out between 2 sheets of parchment paper, to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Cut into shapes, and bake for 9 to 12 minutes.  Cool completely, then decorate with royal icing.

Royal Icing: 

  • 3 ¾ cups/1 pound/454 grams confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 large egg whites
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • Food coloring, as needed
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar, egg whites, cream of tartar and salt. Whisk until stiff and glossy.
  2. To tint the frosting, divide into small bowls. Cover the ones you aren’t using with plastic wrap; the frosting dries out very quickly. Use a rubber spatula to stir in desired food coloring. Though not necessary, it makes life easier if you make two versions of each color — one that is thick to pipe the outline on the cookie, and one that is thinned out slightly with a little water to flood the outline.
  3. Transfer frosting to piping bags fitted with very small round tips (sizes 1 to 2 work best). Pipe frosting onto cooled cookies and let set, at least 2 hours. Or use a pastry of paint brush to decorate cookies with the frosting.

Chili Shrimp and Coconut Cornbread

Congrats to the winning entry from the 2017 National Cornbread Cook Off! I’m really looking forward to trying this recipe…

Ingredients:

For Coconut cornbread:
1 package (7 oz.) Martha White Sweet Yellow Cornbread & Muffin Mix
1 Large Egg
1/2 cup Canned coconut milk
1 tablespoon Water
1/4 cup Unsweetened coconut flakes
1/8 teaspoon Salt
1/2 tablespoon Unsalted butter, melted

For Chili Shrimp:
24 Frozen medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, tail removed and thawed
1 tablespoon Grated fresh garlic
1 tablespoon Grated fresh ginger
2 Large scallions
3/4 cup Water
1/4 cup Sriracha tomato ketchup
1 teaspoon Soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon Sugar
3/4 teaspoon Crushed red pepper
1/16 teaspoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon Black pepper
1 Large Egg, beaten
1/2 tablespoon Cornstarch
1 tablespoon Water
4 slices Bacon

Method:

  1. Make coconut cornbread. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 egg, coconut milk, 1/8 teaspoon of salt, 1 tablespoon of water and cornbread & muffin mix. Mix in coconut flakes until well blended. Use the lid of the Lodge Cast Iron 3.2-quart Combo Cooker as a skillet. Spread the melted butter on the bottom of the lid and spread the cornbread mixture evenly. Bake in preheated 400 degrees F oven for 19-21 minutes until golden brown and a tooth pick inserted in center of the cornbread comes out clean.
  2. While the cornbread is baking, make chili shrimp. In a small bowl, mix together
    sriracha tomato ketchup, soy sauce, sugar, crushed red pepper, 1/16 teaspoon of salt
    and black pepper.
  3. Heat the 3.2-quart Lodge Cast Iron Combo Cooker over medium heat. Chop bacon,
    add the bacon to the cooker and cook stirring constantly until the fat is rendered and bacon is almost crisp. Add garlic and ginger to the cooker. Cook stirring constantly until fragrant. Add shrimp to the cooker and cook stirring constantly until shrimp turn opaque. Stir in the sriracha tomato ketchup mixture and 3/4 cup of water. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.
  4. Cut out the stem end of scallions and chop scallions. In a small bowl, mix together
    cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of water.
  5. After 5 minutes, add the scallions to the cooker and stir to combine. Then add the
    cornstarch mixture to the cooker and stir until thickened. Stir in the beaten egg until egg is fluffy, not over cooked.
  6. When the coconut cornbread has baked, remove the lid from the oven, cut the
    coconut cornbread into four and place on each individual serving platter. Put the chili shrimp over the top equally.

 

Spicy Indian Chicken Thighs

I’m always a huge fan of chicken thighs – they’re cheap, create their own juicy broth, and are hard to screw up. This recipe, from The Wednesday Chef, originally called for bone-in skin-on chicken thighs. I found that the best part of this cut of chicken thighs is that the skin gets really crispy in the oven. Unfortunately, with this recipe I’ve found that the thick spice paste prevents the skin from getting crispy, and really you just end up with rubbery skin. So, I changed it to boneless skinless chicken thighs. Feel free to revert back to the original (or use any other cut of chicken, really).

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Ingredients:

8 chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled
1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded
Juice and zest of 1 whole lemon
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander

Method:

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Put chicken thighs in a bowl. Mince/grate garlic, ginger and pepper. Toss with all remaining ingredients or put in a small food processor, and grind to a paste.

Rub mixture thoroughly into chicken and let marinate for at least 30 minutes. At this point, you can cover, and refrigerate for up to a day.

Put thighs in a roasting pan. Roast for 45 minutes or until done. (I’ve not tried it, but these would probably be really delicious grilled, too.)

Serve with couscous or basmati rice and a dallop of yogurt. Cilantro optional as garnish.

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Chicken Salad Veronique

As per usual, this recipe is adapted from an Ina Garten recipe (here). It’s highly adaptable if you like more tarragon, less grapes, etc. but is perfectly delicious as described below. Keeps well in the fridge in a sealed container for several days. Serve on a croissant sandwich, atop lettuce, or topping crostini (my favorite).

chicken salad

Ingredients:

  • 4 (boneless skinless) chicken breasts (or, just roast a whole chicken)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves
  • 1 cup small-­diced celery (2 stalks)
  • 1 cup green grapes, cut in ½
  • 1/2 cup pecans (or walnuts or almonds), toasted and chopped

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 25-30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Set aside until cool.

When the chicken is cool, shred with two forks (or dice, if you prefer). Place the chicken in a bowl; add the mayonnaise, tarragon leaves, celery, grapes, and pecans. Toss to combine, season with s&p, taste, and adjust seasonings.

Chill and serve.

Szechuan Lambchops with Cilantro Chimichurri

HUGE flavor! Fun to make, impressive to serve, and delicious to eat. Good for a crowd or just as a weeknight dinner. Serve with couscous.

Adapted from THIS recipe.

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Lamb Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • racks lambchops, frenched (can sub other cuts of lamb – adjust cooking time accordingly) 
  • tablespoons cumin
  • tablespoons Szechuan peppercorns
  • tablespoons salt
  • tablespoon coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)

Method:

Mix soy sauce, oil, vinegar, and garlic. Cut lamb into 6 equal pieces and marinate for 6 to 8 hours.

Heat grill. Mix cumin, peppercorns, and coriander. Mix with salt and chili and sprinkle liberally over lamb. Grill until temperature reaches 140, let rest about 5 minutes, then slice each piece in half. Serve with Cilantro Chimichurri.

Cilantro Chimichurri:

  • 1cup cilantro
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • tablespoons jalapeño (seeds removed), chopped
  • tablespoons rice vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Blend all ingredients through rice vinegar, then drizzle in oil with the machine running. Season to taste with salt.

Chicken Pot Pie

A warm and comforting classic that is SO much better when made from scratch.

chickenpotpie

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb chicken, cooked and shredded/chopped (about 2 breasts)
  • 1 cup carrot, diced
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 2/3 cup milk or cream
  • 1/2 tsp celery salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley (sub fresh if available)
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme (sub fresh if available)
  • 1 (9-inch) unbaked pie crust
  • 1 egg

Method:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Set the pie crust out to come to room temp (if using the refrigerated kind).

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the carrot, celery, and onion. Sautée until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle over the flour, and cook until the flour has been incorporated into the butter and has started to brown slightly, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and stir to combine. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce has thickened. Add the peas, chicken, milk, celery salt, pepper, garlic powder, parsley, and thyme. Stir to combine and cook until thickened, adding more milk if needed. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Lightly grease an 8″x8″ baking dish (or other dish about that size – you can even just use the same cast iron skillet you cooked everything in!). Pour in the pot pie filling, and top with the pie crust. Whisk the egg until frothy and brush on top of the pie crust. Cut several slits for steam to escape, and sprinkle with flaked sea salt. Place in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until the pie crust is browned. Cool slightly, and serve.

Notes:

  • Rice makes a great side with this pot pie, as it provides an excellent medium for sopping up the delicious filling.
  • You don’t have to use a pie crust as the topping – biscuits, crushed crackers, puff pastry, and crescent rolls all make nice toppings, too.
  • If you’re tight on time, just substitute frozen veggies for fresh. My grocery store (and probably yours, too) sells a nice mix of frozen carrots, peas, corn, and lima beans that is just delicious in this recipe. Simply make the roux first (butter, flour, broth) and then add the veggies with the chicken.