parsley

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 }

Some restaurants tend to make meat the focus of the main dish and skimp with regards to vegetable portions. How many times have you seen a huge steak served on a massive dish with a tiny portion of vegetables: something like a few minuscule cubes of carrot; a single, near microscopic broccoli floret or a lone spear of asparagus? Really the vegetables are there just for decoration.

sautéed zucchini and yellow squash

sautéed zucchini and yellow squash

When you ask for additional vegetables, or, if they’re not on the menu, request that the chef prepares a dish with veggies, the wait-staff look at you as if you come from another planet. And once again, inevitably, when the vegetable plate arrives, the portion is just as absurdly little. (And I’m not even talking about the flavor here, as most often these mini-veggies only taste like butter.) It is funny as I have always thought that vegetables were cheaper (and healthier) than meat to serve, so they’d likely improve the bottom line of any restaurant. What’s up with that?

I’m pulling your metaphorical leg here a bit, as I know the reason for this. We’re trained to ignore veggies and focus on fattening foods, especially when we dine out. How sad.

Actually this dreadful paucity of veggies happened to me the other day when we went to Zuni with friends. I was not very excited about the main course offerings, so instead, I ordered appetizers and wanted some vegetables to go with them. The waiter promptly offered to have the chef prepare a ‘special’ side of veggies for me. On the face of it that sounds really excellent, don’t you think? Well, this chef-inspired dish turned out to have maybe a half-dozen small pieces of mixed veggies, probably 4 to 6 oz total, if not less. That’ll teach me to special order.

Needless to say, when we’re home, the vegetable portions tend to be a trifle bigger, and I love it. I served this zucchini and yellow squash sauté as a side to go with halibut en papilote. It matched well with the dish, I ate a lot and enjoyed every minute of it.

sautéed zucchini and yellow squash

2 Italian zucchini, cubed small
2 yellow squash, cubed small
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, minced
Black pepper
Kosher salt
Chili flakes
2 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
½ tsp minced lemon thyme

Heat up olive oil in a skillet, sweat shallot then add garlic. In goes the zucchini, yellow squash, salt, pepper, chili flakes, parsley and thyme. Toss around for about 4 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish and voilà!

{ 3 comments }

halibut en papilote

by Heguiberto on April 27, 2012

A throw back to the past? Maybe, but the thing is I had never prepared fish this way before using the actual parchment paper. It’s a snap with tin foil, but the result is not as dramatic and pretty. I made this for five people, so reduce or increase your proportions accordingly. The approach is Mediterranean but I did bake the fish steaks over carrot cumin rice which adds an Indian flare. I sort of used Mireille Guiliano’s halibut recipe from French Women Don’t Get Fat.

halibut en papilote

halibut en papilote

We at weirdcombinations were obsessed by Mireille a year or so ago, and she remains a fave. Jasmine met her in San Francsico once, if you can believe it!?! Of course, we loved the classic FWDGF! Who doesn’t really? Did you like the book about food and style over the seasons? I haven’t read the one about work, but Jasmine loved it.

Anyway, back to the fish. We had Jasmine Turner for this splendid Mireille-inspired meal. I forgot to mention it at the time, but I’m sure that she knows all about it by now. Love you, Jasmine!!

a charger with several halibut en papilote

a charger with several halibut en papilote

halibut en papilote

5 pieces of wild caught Pacific halibut
5 pieces of parchment paper, each about 13×26 inches
cumin carrot rice: double this recipe
½ cup dry white wine
4 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped fine
½ tbsp lemon zest
juice of 1 lemon
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tbsp butter at room temperature
chili flakes to taste
Kosher salt
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil plus more for brushing

Mix salt, butter, tablespoon of olive oil, lemon zest, parsley, black and chili peppers together. Set aside.

Pre heat oven to 375F.

Fold each parchment paper into a 13×13 inch square. Lay one folded paper on top of another. Draw a half heart shape on top, filling as much of the paper as you can, then cut it out to form large paper hearts.

filling my heart shaped piece of parchment paper with carrot cumin basmati rice

filling my heart shaped piece of parchment paper with carrot cumin basmati rice

all set and ready to fold closed

all set and ready to fold closed

Place one heart shaped parchment paper on counter top. Brush with olive oil. Put two scoops of carrot cumin rice in the center, top with a halibut steak, smear some of the herbed butter over, and add a tablespoon of white wine. Inch by inch fold the edge of paper in such way that the folds overlap one another until you get to the “tip” of the half-heart. Twist the tip tightly to seal everything together. Repeat process with remaining portions. Put individual papilotes on baking trays and bake for about 15 minutes. Serve in paper.

{ 3 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 }

I used to make this recipe from Mollie Katzen’s Enchanted Broccoli Forest all the time about twenty years ago. The book was new then, and I was new in the kitchen. It seemed terribly ambitious and impressive. I was always so pleased with myself!

whole wheat calzones with parsley mint pesto, provolone and mozzarella

whole wheat calzones with parsley mint pesto, provolone and mozzarella

It’s funny how I feel now, preparing this after such a long hiatus. The recipe seems kind of easy now. I really like the filling, which I’ve modified here. Mollie suggests basil pesto with ricotta or provolone and tomato. Hegui doesn’t care for ricotta, and we have a superabundance of parsley and mint from our community garden. I’m not that sure about the dough.

I followed the original recipe here to the letter. And in fact, it is exactly how I remember it from the late 1980’s. The thing is, it is a bit tough: tough to kneed and hard in the mouth. Somehow I long for a more fluffy, foccacia-like crust. Plus, more often than not, my calzones burst open while baking. It always makes a mess! Whether this is due to the recipe or my modest skills, I don’t know. This does not alter the delightful flavor in any way. Nevertheless, I believe they’re supposed to stay closed. Perhaps I should use less filling?

Well, I have to say that the dough absorbs the olive oil marvelously well. I had a leftover calzone for lunch a few days later, soaked through with oil and pesto, and it was truly sublime.

whole wheat calzones with parsley mint pesto, provolone and mozzarella

For the dough:

1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour
¼ cup corn meal
1½ tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
½ packet dry active yeast
1 cup warm water
Olive oil

For the filling:

1 clove garlic
1 large punch parsley
2 sprigs mint, leaves only
¼ to ½ cup olive oil
Juice of one lemon
Black pepper to taste
1 tsp salt
¼ cup walnuts
¼ cup parmesan
3 Roma tomatoes, in slices
1/3 cup provolone, shredded
1/3 cup mozzarella, shredded

To prepare dough:

Mix sugar, water and yeast in a bowl and stir. Let rest about five to ten minutes. In another bowl, blend flours, corn meal and salt together. Gradually work into liquid until forms a thick dough.

Pour onto counter and kneed about five minutes. Shape into a ball.

Pour some olive oil into a large bowl. Roll dough ball in oil, cover and let rise about 90 minutes in a warm place.

stuffing the clazone

stuffing the clazone


folding calzone closed, crimping the edges and piercing holes on top

folding calzone closed, crimping the edges and piercing holes on top

To prepare filling:

In a food processor, blend garlic, parsley, mint leaves, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and black pepper until it forms a paste. Add more olive oil if too thick. Process in walnuts then parmesan. Set aside.

To assemble calzones:

Pre-heat oven to 425F.

Press dough into a round disk and cut into six equal pieces. Roll each into a ball. Flatten each smaller ball by hand then with a rolling pin to about ¼ inch thickness.

Fill with some parsley mint pesto, some of the two cheeses and top with two tomato slices. Pull one end of dough over filling onto edge of other. Press edges closed with the blunt end of a fork or spoon. Mollie writes that the finished calzones look like UFOs, which is sort of true. Pierce with a fork to allow steam to escape and avoid unwanted oven explosions.

Place each on a baking tray. When all calzones are formed, bake about 20 minutes until crust is firm and golden brown. Let cool about 15 or 20 minutes then enjoy with leafy salad and red wine, of course.

welcome summer!

welcome, Summer!

{ 11 comments }

This dish comes from a very specialized cookbook I bought last time I was in Brazil: 1000 recipes for salt cod. I know, amazing!

salt codfish croquettes AKA croquete de bacalhau

salt codfish croquettes AKA croquete de bacalhau

I was excited when I bought the book and remain so. I don’t cook many of those recipes as they are a bit naughty and decadent, full of rich sauces with cream, butter, eggs, sometimes deep fried and so on. I try to hold back on this type of cooking for a special treat. Well, Easter weekend seemed the perfect occasion to splurge.

Croquete de bacalhau is a typical fried finger food (generically called salgadinhos in Portuguese) that you might find in Brazilian bakeries. Actually it is just one of many. Others come with meat, fish fresh, palm hearts, potatoes or cheese—and sometimes in combinations of these ingredients. The bakeries in Rio de Janeiro are especially fun to visit since you can try several kinds of salgadinho and order perfectly ripe tropical fruit juice, squeezed to order right in front of you, made from things like mango, papaya, various citrus, or pineapple, all at once, for almost nothing. That is worth doing, and often!

view of Sugar Loaf from Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro

view of Sugar Loaf from Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro


some tropical fruit for sale at a market in São Paulo

some tropical fruit for sale at a market in São Paulo

I think that I must have been channeling Rio when I made these the other day. Steven and I have had such marvelous trips there. Perhaps the springtime weather we’ve lately been enjoying is stimulating my wanderlust and taste buds.

The book calls for potato in the dough, but we didn’t have any, so I used cassava root instead. (Isn’t it weird we had cassava root at home but no potatoes?) So you can use potato or cassava (I bought mine peeled and frozen at a little market in the Mission. It is pretty common in stores that sell a lot of Caribbean or Latino foods, so if you have trouble finding it, you might try there.)

salt codfish croquettes AKA croquete de bacalhau

1 cup of tomato sauce (I made my own—see below. Prepared would work, too.)
1½ cups salt cod
3 tbsp chopped onion
3 tbsp chopped parsley
Black pepper to taste
1 cup mashed cooked cassava
1 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten and slightly salted
1½ cups fine bread crumbs
Canola and olive oil for frying

For tomato sauce:

5 fresh tomatoes
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
3 tbsp olive oil
pinch dried oregano and basil
salt and pepper to taste

To prepare the tomato sauce:

Cut woody tips off tomatoes then slice them in half. Add a couple of tablespoons of water to a pan. Place tomato halves in, cover and let cook until skins begin to curl. Remove from heat. With the help of tongs, remove peels and discard them. Transfer tomatoes to a bowl, wipe pan off. Simply make sauce by sautéing garlic in olive oil, add tomato and remaining ingredients. Raise temperature to boil then lower heat to simmer, partially covered for about 20 minutes.

To prepare croquettes:

Soak salt codfish over night, changing water about 3 times to remove salt.

Bring a pot of fresh water to a boil. Drop cod fish in it. Immediately remove from heat and let poach for about 10 minutes. Remove fish from cooking water and let cool. Remove skin, bones if any, then cut into small chunks. Set aside.

Sauté onion in olive oil until translucent, then add codfish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for a couple of minutes longer. Add tomato sauce. Stir and bring to boil then reduce to simmer. Adjust flavors. It should be slightly salty. Add mashed cassava, flour and parsley. Mix to incorporate. It will turn into thick dough. Remove from heat and let cool until easily handled.

rolling croquette in breadcrumbs

rolling croquette in breadcrumbs

formed croquettes ready for frying

formed croquettes ready for frying

Split dough into two equal pieces. Wet your hands with olive oil and roll each piece into a ¾ inch diameter tube or log. Cut pieces and roughly shape them into coquettes.

Roll each croquette in breadcrumbs, then in egg wash, and back again in breadcrumbs. Repeat process with remaining croquettes.

Fill a small cooking pan (8 inch in diameter) with about an inch of oil. Use about 3 parts canola to 1 part olive oil. Heat oil on high. Drop 3 to 4 croquettes in at a time and fry until golden brown. Remove to a paper towel to drain. Repeat process with remaining. Serve warm with hot sauce. Enjoy your salgadinhos!

{ 6 comments }

I was desperate to create something lively and flavorful for dinner the other night without a huge amount of prep or excessive amounts of grocery shopping. Inexplicably, our fridge was filled with beautiful poblano and red bell peppers, so I thought, “Why not stuff these?”

poblano and red bell peppers stuffed with saffron rice

poblano and red bell peppers stuffed with saffron rice

Visually, stuffed peppers are always a delight. Don’t you agree? Marcella Hazan has a really tasty recipe for peppers stuffed with eggplant and anchovies. Yum! I even like them when the stuffing gets all over the place, like when I made chile rellenos. Messy can be very good.

The problem with a lot of these recipes is that they require you to remove the outer skin of the pepper. That is a lot of work! And it is the step in which I’ll inevitably accidentally destroy the peppers, thus stuffing them becomes difficult to impossible. Well, thank goodness for the 1997 Joy of Cooking. That book came to the rescue again. In their stuffed pepper dish, they call for steaming the peppers with no peeling at all. This is so much easier, and equally delicious!

I used poblanos as well as reds. The recipe in the book calls only for the reds. Also I used pepitas instead of pine nuts, added more herbs than they recommended as well as capers and green olives to give the dish a little kick.

These stuffed peppers had an extremely delicate flavor that was marvelous. We preferred the poblanos over the reds as they had a more complex taste. We ate ours with arugula salad and an extremely aromatic pinot noir from Eric Kent. What a memorable meal!

poblano and red bell peppers stuffed with saffron rice

2 fresh poblano peppers
2 fresh medium red bell peppers
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and cut in thin slices
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 pinch saffron threads
1½ cups basmati rice, well rinsed
2½ cups vegetable stock
2 cups shredded provolone cheese
¼ cup pepitas, lightly toasted in a dry pan
¼ cup each chopped basil, parsley and cilantro
salt to taste
black pepper to taste
¼ cup green olives and capers

Carefully cut peppers in half to create little boat-shapes while preserving stems as much as possible. Remove inner seeds and ribs. Steam for about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and cool under running water. Set aside.

steaming poblano and red bell peppers:  I took off the lid for this picture

steaming poblano and red bell peppers: I took off the lid part-way through steaming for this picture

Sauté onion, garlic and saffron in olive oil on medium heat until onions start to brown (about five minutes). Add rice and stir to mix with oil. Add vegetable stock. Bring to boil then lower temperature to simmer, covered, until rice gets cooked and all the water gets absorbed (about 10 to 15 minutes). Set aside to cool.

Pre-heat oven to 350.

Pour cooled rice in a large bowl. Add cheese, fresh herbs, pepitas, salt, black pepper and olives and capers. Gently stir.

Carefully fill peppers with rice mixture. Place them in an oven-proof baking dish, fitting them tightly together. After all peppers are stuffed, carefully pour ¼ cup water around them into the base of the dish. Cover with foil and bake for thirty minutes to warm through.

Serve with salad.

stuffed peppers crowded together ready for the oven

stuffed peppers crowded together ready for the oven

{ 8 comments }

eggplant kuku

January 27, 2011

My parents were in town over the weekend. They live way across the Country in Virginia, so a visit is a welcome treat. This was a working trip as they’re paying for us to have our kitchen remodeled. That is incredibly generous! We didn’t have time for sightseeing as we spent most of it planning […]

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salt cod with chickpea purée on Texas toast

December 23, 2010

Recently we got a very large piece of Norwegian salt cod at our favorite salt cod market in San Jose. It was about half of a fish, so it was extremely awkward and oddly shaped. Fortunately, L and F Fish have a jigsaw, so they cut it up for us into individual sized portions. It […]

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