Mojitos

Mint grows like a weed, and here’s another great use for it this time of year (late summer) when I’m sure you’ve got it in abundance.

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Ingredients:

6 Mint sprigs (plus more for garnish)
34 oz Simple syrup or agave nectar
34 oz Fresh lime juice
12 oz White rum
12 oz Club soda
Method:

Add the mint, simple syrup, lime juice, and rum to a cocktail shaker, and fill with ice.

Shake well and pour (unstrained) into a highball glass.

Top with the club soda and garnish with a mint sprig.

Chicken Shawarma

This recipe calls for chicken thighs, but any cut of chicken (or pork) will work fine. The magic is in the marinade and the char/smoke from the grill. I HIGHLY recommend using this marinade for grilled chicken wings.

Adapted from this recipe.

Chicken-Shawarma_4

Ingredients:

  • 2lb chicken thighs , skinless and boneless
Marinade
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground cardamon
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (reduce to 1/2 tsp to make it less spicy)
  • tsp smoked paprika (can sub regular)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Black pepper
  • tbsp lemon juice
  • tbsp olive oil
Yoghurt Sauce
  • 1 cup Greek yoghurt
  • 1 clove garlic , crushed
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Combine the marinade ingredients in a large ziplock bag (or bowl).
  2. Add the chicken and squish around to make sure each piece is coated.
  3. Marinate overnight or up to 24 hours.
  4. Combine the Yoghurt Sauce ingredients in a bowl and mix. Cover and put in the fridge until required (it will last for about 3 days in the fridge).
  5. Heat grill/BBQ (or large heavy skillet on stove) on medium high.
  6. Place chicken on the grill and cook the first side for 4 to 5 minutes until nicely charred, then turn and cook the other side for 3 to 4 minutes. Cook until internal temperature of chicken is 165 degrees F.
  7. Remove chicken from the grill and cover loosely with foil. Set aside to rest for 5 minutes.
To Serve
  1. Slice chicken and pile onto platter alongside flatbreads, Salad and the Yoghurt Sauce.
  2. To make a wrap, get a piece of flatbread and smear with Yoghurt Sauce. Top with a bit of salad and Chicken Shawarma. Roll up and enjoy!

Skillet Focaccia

focaccia

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 (scant) tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 3/4 cups warm water
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing and drizzling
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Optional: rosemary or other herbs, cracked pepper, cheese, etc.

Method:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and yeast. Add the warm water to the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until all the flour is incorporated and a sticky dough forms — no kneading required. Pour olive oil into a large bowl. Transfer the focaccia dough to the bowl, turn to coat, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator to rise for at least 8 hours or for up to 2 days.
  2. When you’re ready to bake — I’ve found that a 2-day rise is best, but 1 will work just fine — oil a cast iron skillet (10 or 12 inch). Remove the focaccia dough from the refrigerator and transfer to the prepared skillet. Using your hands, spread the dough out on the prepared skillet as much as possible, adding oil to the dough as needed to keep it from sticking. Place the dough in a warm place and let it rise until it about doubles in bulk The rising time will vary considerably depending on the season. (In the summer, it might take just 20 minutes; in winter, it can take an hour or more.) When the dough is ready, it should be room temperature, spread out on the sheet, and fluffy feeling.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450° F.
  4. Pat down the focaccia to an even thickness to the edges of the skillet, and then make a bunch of indentations in the dough with your fingertips — like you’re playing chords on a piano. Dimple the entire dough and then drizzle the whole thing again with olive oil (if it needs it). Sprinkle the entire surface of the focaccia evenly with sea salt.
  5. Bake, rotating once, until the top is uniformly golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, then slide out of the pan. Use the same day.

Fish tacos with avocado, Baja cucumber salad, and mint-yogurt sauce

From a highly-delicious Sun Basket Recipe.

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Ingredients:

Tacos:

  • 3 ounces Savoy cabbage, shredded
  • 2 or 3 red radishes, thinly sliced
  • Two 5-ounce sole fillets (or other mild white fish)
  • Sole taco seasoning (sumac – chile powder – granulated garlic)
  • tortillas
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped

Mint-Yogurt Sauce:

  • 1 Tbsp fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt

Baja Cucumber Salad:

  • 1 cucumber, halved and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

 

Method:

Make the mint-yogurt sauce: In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, mint, 1 teaspoon lime zest, 1 teaspoon lime juice, and 1 to 2 tablespoons oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Make the Baja Cucumber Salad: In a medium bowl, stir together the cucumber, pumpkin seeds, 1 Tbsp lime juice, and 1 to 2 Tbsp oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Prepare the fish: Pat the sole dry with a paper towel; cut into 2-inch pieces and season with the sole seasoning blend, salt, and pepper. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm 1 to 2 tablespoons oil until hot but not smoking. Add the sole and cook until opaque and lightly golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Warm teh tortillas and transfer to individual plates and top with the sole. Garnish with the cabbage, radishes, and avocado. Dollop with the mint-yogurt sauce and sprinkle with the remaining cilantro. Serve with the cucumber salad and lime wedges.

Linguine with Summer Squash, Tomatoes, and Mozzarella

Adapted from a Sun Basket recipe.

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Ingredients:

  • 5 ounces linguine
  • 1 shallot, sliced thinly
  • 1 summer squash (yellow crook-neck or zucchini), sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted
  • 4 oz cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 lb fresh mozzarella, diced
  • 3 Tbsp fresh basil, julienned
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano, finely chopped
  • 1 oz baby arugula
  • 3 Tbsp Parmesan, grated
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper

Method:

Cook the linguine: Bring a medium sauce pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add the linguine and cook until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
While the water heats and the linguine cooks, prepare the vegetables.

In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm 1 to 2 tablespoons oil until hot but not smoking. Add the shallots, squash, and garlic, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots and squash begin to soften, 3 to 5 minutes.
While the vegetables cook, prepare the remaining ingredients.

In a large bowl, stir together the tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, oregano, arugula, pine nuts, Parmesan, and 1 to 2 tablespoons oil. Add the linguine and the squash mixture and toss well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer the linguine and vegetables to individual bowls and serve warm.

Serves about 2

 

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.