parmesan

I like the taste of the French/Italian/Spanish dish brandade. Usually made with salt cod, potatoes, dairy and spices, everything gets whipped together then baked in the oven till golden and delicious. Here’s a traditional brandade recipe from the New York Times.

Steven’s been after me about making this for a while. I won’t say how long. I keep promising I am going to but every time I gather the ingredients together I get distracted with other ideas. It isn’t quite “an issue” but… well, let’s just say that it’s high time that I pull this dish together.

“Brazilian” salt cod brandade

“Brazilian” salt cod brandade

My inspiration comes from the aforementioned traditional recipe and from my Dungeness crab casquinha de siri.

This is a crowd-pleaser that is perfect either as an elegant appetizer with crackers or slices of French baguette, or, like we had it, as a main course with a side of Israeli couscous and a mango and black bean salad to make a substantial meal.

Salt cod needs to be soaked in cold water for 24 to 48 hours with a few water changes to remove excess salt. I have some instructions on how to de-salt and pre-cook it here.

“Brazilian” salt cod brandade

2/3 lb prepared cod fish pieces (skinless and boneless)
2 Yukon gold potatoes, about 1lb, boiled and pureed (no lumps)
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
5 tbsp onion, minced
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
½ tsp sweet paprika
4 peeled tomatoes (from a can this time of year) chopped
1-2 tbsp grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 red Jalapeño pepper, minced, seeds and ribs discarded
4 tbsp light coconut milk
2 to 3 tbsp fine bread crumbs
Salt and fresh black pepper to taste
Ramekins (I used four medium sized ones)

Place cod pieces in the food processor and whiz for few seconds to break it down to small uniform bits but not into a paste.

Heat olive oil in a non stick pan, add onion and Jalapeño. Sauté until soft, add garlic and continue cooking for few more seconds until aromatic. Add tomatoes and let them break apart in the heat. Add cod, paprika, parsley, salt, pepper, coconut milk and mix everything together to warm through. Add potato and about one tablespoon bread crumbs. Mix to incorporate everything. Texture should look like that of a potato puree.

Fill your ramekins with the salt cod mix, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, top with a sprinkle of bread crumbs, and then grated parmesan cheese. Broil to give the crust a golden color (remember you’ve already cooked everything on the stove). Remove from oven a serve.

{ 4 comments }

These are not fish fingers or mozzarella sticks but the idea is similar. Instead of frying, I baked my zucchini fingers, for my own health ;) This is a really fun and tasty way to use up all that summer squash that seems to grow like weeds in your garden. Next year, maybe only a few squash plants rather than the six we grew this summer. I never thought it could happen, but I’ve actually gotten zucchini-fatigue.

oven roasted zucchini fingers

oven roasted zucchini fingers

I served these lovely treats with a tomato dipping sauce (don’t get me started on the overabundance of tomatoes from our garden plot—clearly nine plants is a bit much for two people) using the same recipe for pizza sauce found here.

oven roasted zucchini fingers

3 zucchinis cut into finger sized segments
2 cups Italian bread crumbs
Crushed red pepper
1 egg
1 egg white
2 tbsp water
½ cup parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic minced
3 tbsp minced fresh Italian parsley
Kosher salt
Black pepper

Pre heat over to 375F.

Place egg, egg white and water in a bowl, add a sprinkle of salt and whisk to combine. Set aside.

In another bowl, mix together bread crumbs, black pepper, garlic, parsley, and parmesan cheese.

Dip zucchini fingers in egg wash then roll them over bread crumb mix. Return to egg wash and roll them in breadcrumbs a second time. Repeat for remaining zucchini fingers. Lay them on a cookie tray ½ inch apart. Bake for about 20 minutes. Remove and serve with a spicy tomato dipping sauce (recipe follows).

spicy tomato dipping sauce

28oz can unseasoned peeled tomatoes, chopped with juices
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp tomato paste
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried basil
½ tsp black pepper
crushed red pepper to taste
1 dry chile de arbol
¼ tsp sugar
½ tsp red wine vinegar

Simmer all ingredients but vinegar and 2 tablespoons of olive oil for 35 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Remove from heat. Add reserved olive oil and vinegar, stir and set aside.

{ 1 comment }

My salad dressings are always made the same way, with lemon, olive oil and salt. Sometimes I add a new thing here and there, but usually I stick with plain-and-simple. When we eat out, I often enjoy Caesar salad. I think Zuni Café here in San Francisco makes a tasty one. I remember that theirs is a little zippier than those at other restaurants. Somehow that sparkle of acidity makes me feel guilt-free as I always imagine it has less dairy. Ha, ha! I’m sure that I’m being delusional here.

Romaine and oak lettuce salad in zippy improv Caesar dressing

Romaine and oak lettuce salad in zippy improv Caesar dressing

Anyway, I left work the other day ready to make my own Caesar only to discover that we didn’t have all the ingredients I thought I needed. A couple of months ago we went to see an improv comedy show in Freemont with our friends Amie and Whitney. With improv theatre, there is no script and the actors react to one another’s speeches on the fly. It’s very creative and can be exciting. You never know what’s going to happen next, until it does. Very Zen, improv. Even the background music was improv, played by a friend of Amie and Whitney. Very cool!

Well then, this Caesar dressing is our improv show and my kitchen is the stage.

I didn’t have anchovies so I replaced them with fish sauce. I didn’t have regular mayo so I used vegan mayo. After adding all the ingredients I realized I needed more umami flavor so I added some miso paste to it. The zippiness comes from the amount of lemon. I used the juice of 2 large fruit. Don’t skimp on the lemon. Definitely use more if yours are tiny or not juicy. And don’t bother with bottled lemon juice.

key ingredients for zippy improv Caesar dressing

key ingredients for zippy improv Caesar dressing

zippy improv Caesar dressing

2 tbsp vegan mayo
1 tsp red miso paste
1 tsp fish sauce
2 cloves garlic crushed
1 tsp olive oil
¼ tsp Worcestershire sauce
Black pepper to taste
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 large juicy lemons

for the salad:

Romaine and Oak lettuces rinsed, dried and leaves tore into bite size (enough for 2 large portions)
Authentic Parmesan cheese to be grated at the table

Place all ingredients for salad dressing in a bowl and whisk to combine. Let rest at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes for flavors to marry. Place lettuces in a large bowl. Pour half of the dressing over, toss and taste it. Add more dressing or just serve it on the side at the table. Plate salad and grate parmesan cheese over top. If you leave the Parmesan out, which is fine, you will have a dairy free Caesar salad dressing.

{ 1 comment }

artichoke leek lasagna

by Stevie on April 2, 2012

Is lasagna elegant enough to serve at a dinner party? That is the question that I have been pondering for the past couple weeks. I had invited about six friends over for a Saturday meal, including two, Jocelyn and Devin that we hadn’t seen in months. So I wanted to impress but also not be stuck in the kitchen all evening in order to have time to catch up. Naturally, in these situations, I always think: casserole!

artichoke leek lasagna

artichoke leek lasagna

My favorite “casserole” from childhood has to be lasagna. I like it even more than macaroni and cheese if you can believe it. (Maybe I’m exaggerating. What do you think, Mom?) But if you’ve read this far, you’re probably already wondering, “He’s talking comfort food here. Where’s the wow-factor?”

I made an absurdly fancy multi-step lasagna from Fields of Greens, a cookbook “from the Celebrated Greens Restaurant” in San Francisco. So there! The dish requires a tomato sauce, a ricotta “custard,” an herb béchamel, fresh artichokes, provolone and of course the lasagna noodles. With all the separate steps, to get the tray ready for the oven took me almost two hours. It smelled and tasted deliciously. But somehow, sadly, the pictures look just like any old lasagna.

I served it family style at the table, so everyone could help themselves and I wouldn’t have to be running around constantly. People loved it and ate almost everything.

The following afternoon, Hegui and I went to see Jocelyn and Devin at their place downtown. We talked about the meal. She said something along the lines of “I’d never thought to serve lasagna at a dinner party. It was really good.”

Hmmm…

So I ask you once again: is lasagna elegant enough to serve at a dinner party?

artichoke leek lasagna

for the veggie filling:

2 leeks, whites only, sliced thin and thoroughly rinsed
4 artichokes, cleaned with hearts and stems sliced (for cleaning instructions, click here)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
Juice from half a lemon
¼ cup dry white wine
3 tbsp chopped fresh herbs: I used lemon thyme, parsley and oregano

for the ricotta custard:

3 to 4 cups ricotta (I doubled the recipe here—naughty)
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup grated parmesan
A few pinches fresh nutmeg
½ tsp salt
Pinch black pepper

for the herb béchamel:

2½ cups whole milk
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
¼ tsp salt
Pinch black pepper
Sprigs of fresh herbs: I used parsley, lemon thyme, sage and oregano

for the tomato sauce:

1 tbsp olive oil
½ onion, chopped fine
¼ tsp dried thyme
6 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup red wine
2 large cans chopped tomatoes with juice
1 bay leaf
Salt and black pepper to taste

for the lasagna:

1 box lasagna noodles (not the no-boil kind—they get too squishy)
1 cup parmesan, grated
1½ cups provolone, grated
…and items prepared above

Start by making the tomato sauce. This is fairly straightforward. Sauté onions in olive oil until they become translucent, then add garlic, herbs, salt and pepper. Sauté a bit longer. Add red wine and cook until liquid evaporates. Add tomatoes, bay leaf, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cook at least 20 to 30 minutes. Adjust flavors with salt and pepper as desired.

Prepare the veggies by sautéing leeks in olive oil with salt until they become tender and translucent. Add dried herbs and pepper. Add artichoke slices and garlic. Continue cooking, covered, until artichokes are tender. Add lemon juice then white wine. Fold in fresh herbs. Adjust salt and pepper. Set aside.
Quickly make ricotta custard be mixing all ingredients together.

Prepare béchamel much like any roux. Add butter to a saucepan on high. As it begins to melt, sprinkle with flour and mix together. Once fully absorbed, slowly add milk while stirring constantly. Add sprigs of fresh herbs (tie them together to make fishing them out later easier.) Once it thickens, add salt and black pepper to taste.

the veggie layer for artichoke leek lasagna

the veggie layer for artichoke leek lasagna

Preheat oven to 350F.

Prepare lasagna noodles following package directions. In a large baking dish, scoop some tomato sauce on the bottom then a layer of three noodles side-by-side. Pour some more tomato sauce over the pasta. Then add sautéed veggies. Sprinkle half the cheeses. Add another layer of pasta. Spread ricotta custard over that then more pasta. Add another layer of tomato sauce, the remaining cheese and another layer of pasta. Spread béchamel over that final layer (after removing the herbs). Cover and bake about 20 minutes. Remove cover and bake another 10 to 15 minutes.

That’s it! Simple…

{ 9 comments }

Until just this week when the rain finally hit with a vengeance, I’ve been feeling that light joyful mood that I always have in spring-like weather, you know: energetic, hopeful and hungry for something new. That, of course, has inspired me to continue my adventures in the kitchen. So here we are. I made a sun-dried tomato and red bell pepper tapenade as a party dip but had leftovers. The flavor was quite intense, so I thought it would work perfectly as a filling for ravioli.

ravioli filled with sun-dried tomato and red bell pepper tapenade and mozzarella

ravioli filled with sun-dried tomato and red bell pepper tapenade and mozzarella

I know that people shy away from making their own pasta, and I used to be like that, too. Now I love it. Sure it is a bit of a job—mainly the kneading is a pain. But I prefer to think of it as a necessary work-out to get my desired marvelous result. Running the dough through the pasta machine is a snap now that I’ve gotten a replacement clamp to hold the device to my countertop. Plus that part is really quite soothing.

my hand-cranked pasta machine

my hand-cranked pasta machine

I made the dough using the same recipe and technique from my last ravioli post, which I’ll copy-and-paste here to make things easier. This time I took pics of the pasta with each run through the machine so you can see how long it gets. This does take some space in the kitchen as the sheets of dough grow ever longer. I moved a lot of stuff out of the way and covered most of my counters with clean dishtowels before I started with the machine.

The filling was just the tapenade, some mozzarella and a bit of parmesan cheese. After I boiled my ravioli for about 5 minutes; I lightly sautéed it in olive oil, garlic and fresh spinach. Mmmm!

ravioli filled with sun-dried tomato and red bell pepper tapenade and mozzarella

for the dough:

2 cups flour (I used all purpose)
3 eggs

for the filling:

2 red bell peppers, stems, seeds and ribs removed, cut into large chunks
3 cloves garlic
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil
2 tbsp olive oil
12 kalamata olives, pits removed
Pinch dried oregano
Salt and black pepper to taste
1/3 pound part-skim mozzarella
2 tbsp parmesan

for the sauté:

3 tbsp olive oil
1 bunch whole spinach leaves, large stems discarded
5 cloves garlic, sliced
Salt and black pepper to taste

to prepare dough for ravioli:

Usually you’re supposed to pour the flour on a work-surface then mix in the egg. Counter space is at a premium in my tiny kitchen so I beat the eggs for a couple minutes in a small bowl, then mixed them with the flour in another. Then I dumped everything onto a floured surface and kneaded it for eight (8) minutes. (I set my kitchen timer.) The kneading is the key step and really it is sort of magical as about seven minutes on, suddenly the flour-egg dough starts to do something amazing! It turns into pasta! You can feel it in your hands literally changing. Sure, that is what you’re making so should not come as a surprise to anyone. Nevertheless, whenever I make pasta, I am always stunned that it actually works!

my lump of dough after eight minutes kneading

my lump of dough after eight minutes kneading

Roll dough into a ball then cut it into six equal pieces. With your pasta machine on the widest setting, roll each piece through once. Then fold the edges of each piece together towards the middle and pass it through the machine again, still at the widest setting. Repeat with each piece so that they’ve all been rolled and folded about three times. When not working with a piece, lay it on a clean kitchen towel and be sure not to let it touch any of the other dough.

After that, reduce the width of your pasta maker by one notch and pass each piece through. They will slowly start to get longer. Repeat at next lower notch and so on until you get to the penultimate. By now, your dough should be quite thin and very long. Once you’ve finished set aside.

dough pieces after first setting on machine

dough pieces after first setting on machine

dough pieces after second setting of machine

dough pieces after second setting of machine

dough pieces after third setting on machine

dough pieces after third setting on machine

dough pieces after fourth setting of machine

dough pieces after fourth setting of machine

dough pieces after fifth setting of machine

dough pieces after fifth setting of machine

they're getting big now on the sixth setting

they're getting big now after the sixth setting

the seventh setting is getting blurry--I must have been more tired than I thought

the seventh setting is getting blurry--I must have been more tired than I thought

the dough after the eighth setting--we're ready to go

the dough after the eighth setting--we're ready to go

to prepare filling:

First make tapenade by sautéing red bell peppers and garlic in olive oil until tender. Add to food processor with sun-dried tomatoes, olives, oregano, salt and black pepper. If too thick, add a bit more olive oil. I used about one and a half cups.

Shred mozzarella. Mix cheeses with tapenade.

to assemble ravioli:

placing the filling on the pasta

placing the filling on the pasta

finished glider-shaped raviolis

finished glider-shaped raviolis

Place about a teaspoon full of filling along prepared dough strips, roughly three inches apart from one another. To seal, dab your finger in some water, rub water along edges of dough and between mounds of filling. Carefully fold dough over filling, press down to remove air pockets. Cut between mounds of filling to create individual ravioli. I folded mine into triangular shapes, thinking of our recent adventure with hang-gliders. Set aside but be sure not to let them touch one another. Makes about three dozen.

to make final dish:

Boil ravioli in salted water about 5 minutes. Meanwhile sauté garlic in olive oil for about a minute. Add spinach, salt and black pepper. Drain ravioli and toss into wilted spinach. Fold together and serve.

{ 5 comments }

orzo with spinach

by Heguiberto on September 9, 2011

I haven’t made this dish in ages! It is so satisfying and good, yet, for some reason orzo seems to have fallen out of fashion in our household. Now I am determined to make that right again. I only wish we could find more varieties here in SF. I remember in the Big Apple orzo came in many different colors, brands, sizes and shapes. Clearly I need to shop, maybe in North Beach.

orzo with spinach

orzo with spinach

You can serve this as a side or main dish. We had ours with poached salmon in lemon sauce.

orzo with spinach

1 lb orzo
2 lb organic spinach leaves: try the curly type (Bloomsdale) they are more flavorful
6 cloves of garlic, cut into thin slivers
5 tbsp grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt to taste
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp pine nuts

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add orzo and cook per instruction in the package. Drain.

Dry roast pine nuts in a skillet for about a minute, remove from heat and set aside.

Return skillet back to burner. Add 3 tbsp of olive oil. Toss in garlic and sauté until aromatic. Add spinach in three batches and cook until wilted (it is okay if some leaves don’t wilt fully, they will in the dish). Toss in orzo, season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Add cheese, remaining olive oil and pine nuts. Adjust flavors with more salt, pepper!

Makes about six servings.

{ 6 comments }

I’ve been out of town at the World Science Fiction Convention in Reno. It was really fun, but I’ve fallen dreadfully behind with you, my fellow food bloggers. So this week, as I re-adjust to the “real world” again, I’m scrambling to get on the ball. To that end, I’m pleased, no, thrilled to announce a September cooking challenge to any and all of you. Heavenly from donuts to delirium and I agreed to try the elegant but surely prone to disaster Julia Child recipe for butter croissants. Follow this link for the recipe.

rustic pizza with feta, heirloom cherry tomatoes, kalamata and marinara

rustic pizza with feta, heirloom cherry tomatoes, kalamata and marinara

The recent Ottolenghi cheesecake challenge was a wild success and amazingly fun. That one was quite specific however. Here, should you be daring enough, you can tinker with the croissant recipe to your heart’s content. I’m already fantasizing about stuffing mine with tropical fruit and mascarpone. All you need do is contact Heavenly or me to let us know that you’re on board. Make the recipe and publish it on your blog on September 19, 2011. We’ll send you a list of links of other participants a few days before for you to add to your post. C’est tout! I do hope all of you try this with us. The more, the merrier.

Today’s rustic pizza doesn’t have a thing to do with Julia Child or butter croissants. But it’s one that I’ve been thinking of trying since July when I saw it posted on Karen’s wonderful The Gourmet Food Blog. Her pizza tri-colore was stunning! I was particularly impressed with her gorgeous crust.

chilly and overcast Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco

chilly and overcast Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco last Sunday

I tried mine on a very cool foggy San Francisco day—you could say almost winter-like weather (I know most of you are suffering over the record-breaking temperatures everywhere, but it has been a might cold in the City by the Bay.) I think that affected my final product. My dough rose, but remained fairly dense, even after I doubled the time. It had a firm texture that really held onto the heavy toppings. It reminded me of Chicago style pizza. I added heirloom cherry tomatoes, feta, Kalamata olives, and marinara sauce. I like a lot of toppings.

Also, I baked mine on our new, amazing-because-you-can-actually-wash-it-with-soap-and-water coated pizza stone! Gone are the days of crusty gross pizza stones growing funk in my oven. Hurrah! It was twice as expensive as the other kind of uncoated stone, but so worth it.

our glorious new washable pizza stone

our glorious new washable pizza stone

rustic pizza with feta, heirloom cherry tomatoes, Kalamata and marinara

for toppings:

½ cup feta cheese
1 cup heirloom cherry tomatoes, in halves
12 kalamata olives in halves
2 tbps. Parmesan
Small bunch fresh basil leaves
Olive oil
Plus some coarse corn meal to move pizza

for marinara:

14 oz. Diced canned tomatoes with juice
1 clove garlic, minced
½ small onion, finely chopped
3 tbsp. Olive oil
1 tsp. Dried oregano
1 bay leaf
½ tsp salt
crushed red and black pepper to taste

Prepare pizza dough from Karen’s recipe.

Pre-heat oven to 425F with pizza stone inside.

In a small saucepan, add 3 tbsp. olive oil, garlic, onion and salt on high heat. Cook for a few minutes. Add remaining marinara ingredients. Bring to boil then reduce heat to rapid simmer to reduce liquid by at least half. Discard bay leaf.

Shape pizza dough. Prepare a board with some corn meal. Place dough on top of corn meal. Spread with marinara sauce. Sprinkle with feta, then heirloom cherry tomatoes, Kalamata olives and parmesan. Gently slide onto pizza stone. Bake 15 to 20 minutes until crust becomes golden.

Remove from oven then drizzle with some olive oil and finally toss basil leaves on top.

{ 5 comments }

catfish tenders

by Stevie on August 19, 2011

“Everything’s better fried.” That, and “save room for dessert” are two of my favorite food sayings from childhood. My mother used to call me “the bottomless stomach” when I was a kid, as I was always hungry! We’d be happily eating away at lunch and I’d be asking what we’d be having for dinner; at dinner, I’d inquire about breakfast; and so on. You get the idea.

catfish tenders

catfish tenders

Mom didn’t fry everything and we didn’t always have dessert (though as I recall, we almost always did.) Usually, she’d buy things like fish sticks in frozen packages. My sisters and I would microwave them with slices of Kraft American cheese, the kind that comes individually wrapped, and eat them in sandwiches with lots of ketchup. It was horrible, really, but just remembering it now makes my mouth water.

I wasn’t really thinking of any of this when I made catfish tenders. It is after eating them that it all came to mind. Funny how memory works.

You could undoubtedly serve these as a fish stick alternative to hungry kids. But adults will appreciate them too.

catfish tenders

1 lb catfish fillets (about four pieces) cut in half the long way
2 eggs
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
3 tbsp parmesan
1 tbsp Aleppo pepper
Salt and black pepper
Vegetable oil for frying

Rinse and pat dry catfish. Beat eggs together with about 1 tsp salt. Put fish into egg wash and let soak while heating oil in a medium sized pan. You’ll need enough oil to almost cover fish.

Mix breadcrumbs, parmesan, Aleppo pepper, black pepper and some salt together in another dish. When ready to fry, immerse fish in breadcrumb mix so that each piece is evenly and fully covered. Gently place fish into hot oil and let fry for a few minutes on each side. Once golden, remove and let drain on paper towels. I did mine in two batches.

Serve with lemon slices, a dipping sauce of your choice or even ketchup. We had ours with fiery habanero sauce.

{ 7 comments }

raw Tuscan kale salad with lemon

August 18, 2011

We’ve this incredible overabundance of Tuscan (dinosaur) kale from our community garden right now. The stuff is delicious but after a while, you simply run out of creative ideas for this ultra healthy green. What a relief it was, then, to try our friend, John’s raw Tuscan kale salad “cooked” in lemon juice on our […]

Read the full article →

asparagus, fava and edamame tart

May 13, 2011

I’ve always been curious about baking with puff pastry yet this is my first time: a puff pastry virgin no more! Last week I saw a beautiful recipe on the cool blog, gourmet food, for asparagus tart with caprino de cabra that convinced me that is was about time for me to give it a […]

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Read the full article →