fennel

vegetable paella

by Heguiberto on July 10, 2013

Yottam Ottolenghi’s Plenty attacks again! His vegetable paella is divine. It is full of color and flavors. If pilaf and paella have the same linguistic root, then I think this vegetable paella must be either an early progenitor of both or perhaps the modern trans-national child of the pair, as it not only uses saffron threads, but also turmeric and chili powders common to Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines: incredible! And then there’s the sherry… Wow.

vegetable paella

vegetable paella

Yotam recommends using Calasparra rice but to be honest I have never heard of it before, so couldn’t even begin to think of where to find it. At any given time my rice pantry will always have few different varieties, so I made do with what I had. My choice was Thai jasmine rice. I selected this kind because I’ve made successful paella before with it. He also recommends using freshly shelled fava beans which would have been great but I was not able to find them in the market. Instead I substituted them for a fresh frozen shelled bag of edamame.

This dish is vegetarian and vegan. So flavorful, your meat eating loved ones will enjoy it too.

vegetable paella

6 tbsp olive oil
1 medium Vidalia onion sliced thinly
1 red pepper cut into strips
1 yellow pepper cut into strips
½ fennel bulb cut into thin strips
4 garlic cloves crushed
2 fresh bay leaves
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp sweet paprika
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp chili powder (cayenne)
¾ cup sherry
1 container of saffron threads (0.020oz)
2 cups Thai Jasmine rice
3 ½ cups vegetable stock – hot
thin half-moon-shaped lemon slices
4 tbsp julienned sundried tomatoes packed in oil, drained
8 halves of grilled artichokes, preserved in oil, drained
¾ cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved
1 pint of mixed small heirloom tomatoes, halved
~ 2tbsp chopped parsley
Kosher salt

You need a paella pan or a similar large shallow pan for the dish. On high heat, add olive oil followed by the onions and cook until translucent, about 5 to 8 minutes. Lower the heat to medium, add sweet peppers and fennel and continue cooking for about 10 minutes. Peppers and fennel will soften a bit but still hold their crunch.

Mix in turmeric, bay leaves, paprika. Add rice and mix it again so rice gets some coloring. Stir in saffron and sherry, continue to cook long enough for the sherry juices to be absorbed/evaporated. Add vegetable stock, and kosher salt to taste, lower the temperature and cook for about 18 minutes. Liquid will be almost fully absorbed by the rice. To prevent the rice from breaking refrain from stirring while cooking. Turn off the heat.

Tuck in olives, artichokes, sundried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, lemon slices, then sprinkle with parsley. Let rest, covered, for about 5 minutes. Remove the lid, drizzle with some extra virgin oil and serve.

{ 6 comments }

poached King salmon in lemon butter sauce

poached King salmon in lemon butter sauce

I got this huge and expensive slab of King salmon at our favorite fish market in the Mission the other day. I wanted to try my hand at poaching salmon in court bouillon. Recipes for court bouillon abound! In the end what I realized is that this is just a clear broth. You can basically make with any vegetable you find in your refrigerator, plus some acidic agent, such as white wine or lemon juice. You don’t have to go all Julia Child about it and spend the entire day slaving in the kitchen, though that is fine, too. In my case I used what was at hand for a fairly traditional broth, with the addition of a stalk of lemon grass, which gave this broth a bit of a South East Asian flare.

king salmon poaching in lemon grass court bouillon

king salmon poaching in lemon grass court bouillon

poached King salmon in lemon butter sauce

3 ½ lb slab king salmon, skin on but de-scaled

for court bouillon:

½ cups dry white wine
1 whole scallion
½ onion
1 stalk of lemon grass, smashed with a cleaver
Black pepper corns
Kosher salt
1 stalk of celery
Few strands of parsley
1 piece of fennel stalk
1 carrot

for lemon butter sauce:

1 stick butter
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tbsp capers
4 tbsp chives chopped

Fill a pot with enough water to cover the salmon. Add all court bouillon ingredients to it, bring to a boil, reduce temperature and simmer for about 30 minutes. Discard vegetables. Let court bouillon cool down.

Lay salmon, skin-down, in a large pan so that it lies flat. Submerge with cooled court bouillon. Bring to a simmer and cook until done, about 10 to 15 minutes. If you choose to cut the salmon into smaller pieces before poaching, it may take as little as 3-5 minutes.

Using a large spatula carefully remove salmon from bath and place it on a serving platter. Keep warm.

Add butter and lemon juice to a saucepan on medium-high. Whisk until melted, remove from heat and add capers and 3 tbsp of chives. Mix well.

Sprinkle remaining chives over salmon and serve with lemon butter on the side.

Remember to keep the leftover broth and use it as a base for other soups. It is very aromatic.

On the night I served this, we had our friends Amie, Whitney, John, Chris and Valéria over for dinner. Amie and Whitney surprised us with a nice card, gift, some fruit tarts and a vegan chocolate cake celebrating our 3rd year wedding anniversary. It was a fun evening!

{ 6 comments }

This recipe is very aromatic and satisfying for a cool evening. The grilled eggplant gives the dish a lovely smoky flavor. All the herbs, fresh fennel and root veggies provide a supple elegance.

I’ve taken it from the Ottolenghi book, “Plenty,” with only minor modifications. Really tasty.

lentils with grilled eggplant

aromatic lentils with grilled eggplant

lentils with grilled eggplant

3 Japanese eggplant
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
Salt and black pepper
1 cup black lentils
3 carrots
2 celery stalks
1 bay leaf
2 stalks fennel with some bulb
Small bunch lemon thyme
½ white onion
Olive oil
Salt and black pepper
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 tsp. sugar
2 tbsp chopped parsley
Sour cream for garnish

Set grill on highest temperature. Grill eggplant until soft and skin starts to char, turning occasionally, about ten minutes, Remove from heat, cover with plastic and let rest for 5 minutes. Remove stems and skin. Mash eggplant with a fork.

Pre-heat oven to 275F.

Rinse lentils and remove any stones or debris. Place in saucepan with one carrot, half stalk of celery, bay leaf, lemon thyme, onion and plenty of water. Cover and bring to boil then lower heat to simmer. Cook until tender. Remove celery, carrot, bay leaf, thyme and onion. Drain.

Cut fennel and remaining carrots and celery into small dice. I made mine too large. The book recommends about 3/8 of an inch. I mis-read this direction as ¾ inch. At any rate, think small. Toss with cherry tomato halves, some olive oil, the sugar, some salt then roast in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes until tender but not mushy.

Mix roasted veggies with warm lentils. Add more olive oil, black pepper and salt to taste. Top with grilled eggplant and then a dollop or two of sour cream.

{ 6 comments }

soup à la Skinny!

by Jasmine Turner on September 3, 2009

finished skinny soup

finished skinny soup

My husband teases me whenever I make a big pot of soup by calling it my “Get Skinny Soup!” I used to make a broth-type soup sort of similar to this one. I used in place of eating regular food, supposedly clean out my system and get skinny fast. However, I was looking for a more filling soup with different flavors and Mireille Guiliano’s recipe for Lentil Soup in her French Women Don’t Get Fat book looked simple enough for me to manage cooking. She got the ingredients for the combination from a relative because as a kid she wasn’t a fan of lentils, but loved sausage, probably in small amounts because you know the French and their portion control! I used veggie sausages to get in the meatless spirit, and my signature “extra spicy,” additions like more garlic and hot sauce. The dish turns out really hearty and makes a good meal for lunch or dinner. Plus, there is something about cutting and chopping the ingredients and stirring a big pot of soup that is therapeutic. It feels like mixing some type of healthy tonic or medicine or hey….skinny potion! Oh My Goodness!

Soup à la Skinny!

Ingredients

1 green bell pepper
2 cups lentils
1 onion
½ chopped fennel
1 cup of chopped cabbage
4-5 celery sticks
2 small potatoes pre-cooked
1 quart of vegetable soup broth (I get mine at Trader Joe’s; or make your own)
Water to steam vegetables, retain one cup worth for later
1 clove garlic
2 chopped leeks
1 bay leaf
2 veggie sausages
Olive oil to saute
Salt and Pepper to taste
Pinch of curry powder (or more if you desire)
3-4 Tablespoons of hot sauce

preparing veggie sausage and skinny soup

preparing veggie sausage and skinny soup

Cook lentils beforehand and set aside. I use a slow cooker overnight but really you can just simmer them in some water for 20 or 30 minutes. I like them very soft. Steam: cabbage, potatoes, onion, bell pepper, celery, leeks, fennel for 12-15 minutes. Save one cup of water from the steaming of the veggies to use later for the broth mix. Saute veggie sausages in some olive oil in a frying pan. Put aside. Use a big soup pot and add: lentils, soup broth, steamed veggies and saved water. Stir. Cook on high heat until it starts to boil then add: salt, pepper, curry powder & hot sauce to your liking. Squeeze press the fresh garlic clove on top. Add sausages. Stir again. Lower heat to simmer for a few minutes, and serve. It’s so good; you might want two bowls in one sitting!

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Corn bread in Brazil is sweeter than the American version, and normally it’s eaten for breakfast, instead of with lunch or dinner. Brazilian corn flour, called fubá; though ground coarser than wheat flour; is finer than American corn meal. I grew up eating a lot of these corn cakes in the Brazilian hinterlands.

Looking back it seems that at all times there were shortages of something or another. Flour was one of those staples we could not produce ourselves. Temperate weather crops, like wheat, did not yield well enough in the tropical lands of South America. Wheat flour was used parsimoniously, really as a treat instead of an every-day thing. My mother mixed it with other types of flour, mainly corn and cassava (aka, yucca if you please).

slice

Refrigeration was another issue. We did not get electricity until 1972! Milk would go “bad” very frequently; turning into yogurt. For some reason my mother never liked it, except when she used it to make her famous bolão azedo. Otherwise that goodness would become a feast for the pigs. I know they liked it because I was the one who fed them! If we only had known how to make Prosciutto de Parma, we’d have become rich! Well here I am reminiscing about my hometown, Olegário Maciel …. but wait, I need to go back to my cake!

The cake is made just plain and simple with corn flour and yogurt, often times flavored with whatever spices that might be available from our dispensa (pantry). These additional items might include: fennel seeds, cinnamon, dried coconut, guava paste, etc. Yesterday I made the cake using all of the above and it turned out really good. Steven and I loved it, and I hope that you do too. You can find guava paste and fubá at Brazilian stores or sometimes in specialty food stores. So in belated honor of mother’s day, here’s the recipe:

key ingredients

key ingredients

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups corn flour (fubá)
½ cup wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
2 egg whites
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp grated coconut
1 cup sugar
1 pinch salt
1 cup yogurt
1 cup guava paste, cut into cubes and dusted with flour
½ tsp fennel seeds
1 pinch ground cinnamon

How to:

Preheat oven to 350F
Grease and dust with flour a baking dish (14’’ X 9””)
Mix together eggs, oil and sugar for a couple of minutes.
Mix in yogurt and coconut
Mix in corn and wheat flours, and salt, fennel seeds and cinnamon. Add baking powder and mix again.
Pour over greased and dusted baking dish, scatter guava cubes over cake, bake it for 35-40 min or till a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

finished corn cake

finished corn cake

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