Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sea Bass Fillets with Tomatoes and Roasted Red Pepper and Almond Sauce

From Things Cooks Love: Implements. Ingredients. Recipes.

Prep 45 min | Cook time 55 min | Serves 4

This recipe starts with the cazuela on the stove top for sautéing, and then, once the fish fillets are added, you slip the cazuela into the oven. The fish is served with a red pepper and almond sauce, a loose adaptation of the Spanish romesco. Any firm white fish fillets can be substituted for the sea bass.

12-inch Cazuela or 12-inch Skillet and 2-Quart Shallow Baking Dish, Strainer, Small Skillet, Blender

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large sweet onion, cut into ¹⁄8-inch wedges
1 clove garlic, sliced paper-thin
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 (6-ounce) skinless sea bass fillets
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley or mint, or 1 tablespoon of each Pepper and Almond Sauce
½ cup whole natural (skin-on) almonds, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
8 jarred piquillo peppers, or 2 large roasted and peeled red bell pepper (page 268)
1 teaspoon coarse salt
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
4 to 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or more as needed
1 tablespoon aged sherry vinegar

1. Add the olive oil to a 12-inch cazuela or skillet and heat slowly over medium-low heat. When the oil is hot enough to sizzle a piece of onion, increase the heat to medium, add the onion, and sauté, stirring, for 15 minutes, or until golden. Add the garlic and sauté for 5 minutes, or until softened. Stir in the paprika.

2. Set a strainer over a bowl and empty the can of tomatoes into the strainer. Use your hands to break the tomatoes into chunks, squeezing out and discarding the seeds. (Freeze the tomato juices for soup or another use.)

3. Add the broken, seeded tomatoes to the onion mixture and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until the mixture has cooked down. Add ½ teaspoon of salt and a grinding of pepper and remove from the heat.

4. While the tomato mixture is simmering, preheat the oven to 400°F.

5. If using a cazuela, arrange the fish fillets in a single layer on top of the tomato mixture. Season the fish with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the parsley. Place a spoonful of the tomato mixture on top of each fillet. If using a skillet, transfer the tomato mixture to a 2-quart shallow baking dish and arrange the fish fillets in a single layer on top. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the parsley. Place a spoonful of the tomato mixture on top of each fillet.

6. Place the cazuela or baking dish in the hot oven (it’s fine to put it in a hot oven because it has been preheated on the stove top) and bake the fish for 15 minutes, or until the thickest part of a fillet is opaque, rather than translucent, when tested with the tip of a small knife.

7. While the fish is baking, make the sauce: Put the almonds in a small, dry skillet, place over medium-low heat, and heat, shaking the pan, for 5 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Let the almonds cool slightly and then transfer to a blender. Add the garlic, peppers, salt, and paprika, and process until pureed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the blender as needed. With the motor running, add 4 tablespoons of the olive oil in a thin, steady stream. Taste and add more olive oil as needed to correct the balance. Add the vinegar and process to combine. Alternatively, make the sauce in a mortar: First crush the garlic and salt with a pestle. Then add the almonds and pound until the mixture forms a paste. Add the peppers and pound until blended. Slowly add the olive oil, pounding until the mixture is light and smooth. Add the vinegar and stir to blend. You should have about 1 cup of sauce. Taste and add more salt as needed. Transfer to a small serving bowl.

8. To serve, place the cazuela in the center of the table. Pass the sauce.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Grill Pan Recipe: Marinated Grilled Zucchini with Oregano and Dried-Tomato Vinaigrette

Things Cooks Love: Implements. Ingredients. Recipes.
By Sur La Table and Marie Simmons

Prep 10 min | cok time 8 min per batch | serves 4

Zucchini is mild flavored, so it is the perfect canvas for the bold tastes of fresh oregano and dried tomatoes. Use your best extra-virgin olive oil and aged red wine vinegar for the dressing.

Small Bowl, Flat or Sauce Whisk, Mandoline or Chef’s Knife,
Grill Pan, Silicone Brush, Tongs

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, grated or pressed
½ teaspoon coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 medium (about 5 ounces each) zucchini
Coarse salt
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
2 tablespoons finely slivered olive oil–packed sundried tomatoes, drained and patted dry, for garnish

1. Make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, and grinding of black pepper, and whisk until blended.
2. Trim the stem and blossom ends from the zucchini. With a mandoline or chef’s knife, cut each zucchini lengthwise into 5 slices each about ¼ inch thick, and then spread the slices in a single layer on a platter.
3. Heat the grill pan over medium heat until hot enough for a drop of water to sizzle on contact.
4. While the pan is heating, brush the zucchini slices on both sides with a film of the vinaigrette. Working in batches, place the zucchini on the pan and grill for 4 minutes, or until grill marks appear. Turn with tongs and grill the other side for 4 minutes, or until tender. As each batch is cooked, return the slices to the platter.
5. Sprinkle the zucchini slices lightly with salt. Whisk the oregano into the remaining vinaigrette and drizzle on top of the zucchini. Sprinkle with the tomato slivers. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Herbs -- From Things Cooks Love: Implements. Ingredients. Recipes.

From Things Cooks Love: Implements. Ingredients. Recipes.

Herbs add flavor and fragrance to your cooking. Here are some ideas for using your favorite herbs.

Basil is pleasantly sharp, with notes of mint, thyme, and clove. The herb’s mintlike taste goes well with tomatoes, seafood, chicken, pasta, and fresh fruits.

Bay Leaf
This highly aromatic herb is used in broths, soups, and sauces. Most cooks prefer the taste and aroma of Mediterranean bay (or Turkish bay) to the more pungent California bay.

Chervil’s mild parsley flavor with notes of licorice goes well with salmon, potatoes, peas, and carrots.

The delicate onion flavor of chives goes well with eggs, potatoes, fish, shellfish, and many vegetables.

Also called Chinese parsley and fresh coriander, cilantro has a distinctive taste. It is widely used in cooking all over the world.

The flavor of fresh dill is reminiscent of lemon and celery. It’s popular for salmon and other seafood, eggs, tomatoes, potatoes, and in salad dressings.

Marjoram is in the same family as oregano, but has a sweeter flavor. Italians use it in frittatas, eggplant dishes, and with tomatoes.

There are many varieties of mint, but the most common is the mild spearmint. It is a classic flavoring in iced tea, tomato salads, with green beans or braised carrots, and in tabbouleh.

Oregano’s flavor notes of pepper and thyme pair well with chicken, red meats, pork, tomatoes, and most vegetables. Use it sparingly as too much can produce a bitter taste.

Parsley has a pinelike flavor. It’s available as curly leaf and as Italian, or flat leaf, which has a more distinctive flavor. Use a finely chopped mixture of parsley and shallots or garlic, called persillade in French, to flavor sautéed mushrooms and other vegetables.

The camphor notes in rosemary go well with hearty flavors such as roasted poultry and meats, or vegetables and legumes. It is a key flavor in the herb mixture herbes de Provence.

Like rosemary, the camphor notes in sage define its flavor. It goes well with turkey and it is also used to season duck, pork, and breakfast sausage.

The unique aniselike taste of tarragon marries well with eggs, and mild-flavored vegetables such as zucchini and other summer squashes.

A member of the mint family, thyme is often used with other herbs, and is always included in a bouquet garni and in herbes de Provence. It is also used on its own in soups, stews, vegetable dishes, and seafood and meats.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Green Bean, Tomato, and Potato Salad with Almond and Basil Pesto

From Things Cooks Love, by Sur La Table and Marie Simmons

Prep 30 min | cook time 18 min | serves 4–6

The Italian word pesto translates roughly as “pounded” and typically refers to any food mashed in a mortar. But the best-known pesto is a sauce made with fresh basil leaves, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, and grated cheese. It is traditionally the sauce for a pasta dish that also includes green beans and potatoes, but here the pasta has been left out and the pesto is instead served over a salad of warm cubed potatoes and green beans. In another departure from tradition, dry-roasted almonds are used in place of the pine nuts. Make this recipe in the summer when the markets are well stocked with beautiful fresh basil.

Large Mortar and Pestle, 6-Quart Dutch Oven, Colander, Rubber Spatula, Chef’s Knife

1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon coarse salt
4 tablespoons coarsely chopped unsalted dry-roasted almonds
1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves, stemmed
¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
¼ cup grated pecorino romano cheese
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 pound Yukon Gold or other boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into ¾-inch cubes
12 ounces thin green beans, trimmed, and cut into 1-inch lengths
1 large, ripe tomato, cut into thin wedges, for garnish

  1. Place the garlic, ½ teaspoon of the salt, and 2 tablespoons of the almonds in a large mortar. Pound with the pestle to a smooth paste. Gradually add the basil leaves while pounding, adding more only after each batch has been reduced to a paste. This will only take 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. When all of the basil leaves are pounded to a smooth paste, gradually add both cheeses, stirring with the pestle to blend them with the basil paste. Then drizzle in the olive oil with one hand while stirring and pounding with the pestle in the other hand until the mixture is smooth. Set aside.
  3. Fill a 6-quart Dutch oven or other large, wide pan two-thirds full of water and bring to a boil. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon salt and the potatoes. Boil, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Add the green beans and boil for 6 to 8 minutes, until both the beans and potatoes are tender. Drain in a colander.
  4. Place the beans and potatoes in a large serving bowl, spoon the pesto on top, and fold together gently with a rubber spatula until blended. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons almonds. Garnish the bowl with the tomato wedges. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Cauliflower and Sweet Potatoes in Spicy Tomato Sauce with Cashews

From Things Cooks Love: Implements. Ingredients. Recipes.

Prep 25 min | Cook time 30 min | Serves 4–6

The flavor in this vegetable stew comes from frying the whole spices in hot oil before adding the tomatoes. Serve this hearty dish as a vegetarian main course with rice and a green vegetable, or as a side dish with grilled chicken or meat.


Karahi, Slotted Spoon

2 tablespoons canola oil
½ cup unsalted raw cashews
1½ teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1 cup chopped yellow onion
4 teaspoons peeled, finely chopped fresh ginger
1 (14½-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juices
1 serrano or other small green chile, halved or quartered lengthwise and seeded
1 (1½-pound) head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro

1. Add the canola oil to the karahi, a large skillet, a wok, or a Dutch oven and heat over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the cashews and fry for 30 seconds, or until lightly browned. Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to transfer the nuts to a plate. Add the cumin and mustard seeds to the oil and fry for 30 seconds, or until lightly browned. Add the onion and ginger and cook, stirring, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the onion is golden.
2. Add the tomatoes and chile, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until slightly reduced and the oil begins to separate from the tomatoes. Add the cauliflower, sweet potatoes, water, and salt, and stir with a large spoon until thoroughly blended. Decrease the heat to mediumlow, cover, and cook, stirring once halfway through the cooking time, for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are almost tender. Add the peas, re-cover, and cook for 3 minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender.
3. Transfer to a warmed platter or bowl and sprinkle with the reserved cashews and the cilantro. Serve warm.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Corn Soufflé with Red Pepper Sauce

From The Art & Soul of Baking by Sur La Table and Cindy Mushet

Serves 6 to 7

Gorgeous, golden, and bursting with two kinds of corn—both fresh kernels and cornmeal—this soufflé makes a great main course for a light summer dinner. The smoked paprika adds an intriguing undercurrent of flavor, but if you don’t have it on hand, simply leave it out or substitute a pinch of cayenne. You can make this soufflé during the winter and spring with frozen corn kernels, but don’t use dried basil; it tastes dusty and tired compared to the vibrant flavor of fresh basil. If fresh is unavailable, omit it.

Red Pepper Sauce
1 (15-ounce) jar roasted red bell peppers
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon olive oil
¹⁄8 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons (1 ounce) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (½ ounce) fine cornmeal
¹⁄8 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon minced garlic (about
1 medium clove)
1¹⁄³ cups (10½ ounces) whole milk
2 cups (11 ½ ounces) fresh corn
kernels (about 3 ears)
¼ cup (1 ounce) finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon salt
5 large eggs, separated, plus 1 additional egg white
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

Medium-Mesh Strainer, Blender, Large Bowl, Whisk, Medium Saucepan, Stand Mixer Fitted with a Whisk Attachment or a Hand Mixer and a Medium Bowl, Silicone or Rubber Spatula, 7½-cup Soufflé Dish, Baking Sheet, Small Saucepan

1 Make the sauce: In the strainer, rinse the roasted peppers well under cold water. Pat dry with paper towels. Transfer to the bowl of the blender and add the water, olive oil, and salt. Blend until smooth, 20 to 30 seconds. Set aside.
2 Make the béchamel: In the large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, and paprika. Melt the butter in the medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat, add the flour mixture, and whisk well to remove any lumps. Return to the heat and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat again and add the milk slowly, whisking constantly to remove any lumps. Return to the heat and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Boil for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the corn kernels and continue to cook for 3 to 4 minutes, whisking until the sauce has thickened and the corn is cooked through. Remove from the heat and whisk in the Parmesan, basil, and salt. Whisk in the egg yolks and transfer to the large bowl. Set aside.
3 Preheat the oven to 400°F and position an oven rack in the bottom third. Generously butter the soufflé dish (including the rim), coat it with finely grated Parmesan, and tap out the excess.
4 Whip the egg whites: In the very clean bowl of the stand mixer, whip the 6 egg whites and the cream of tartar on medium speed until they form firm peaks. You may also use a hand mixer and a medium bowl. Be careful not to overbeat. With the spatula, gently stir one-fourth of the egg whites into the béchamel to lighten the mixture. Fold in the remaining whites just until there are no more streaks of whites.
5 Fill the dish and bake: Transfer the batter to the prepared baking dish and place on the baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. then reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and bake for 18 to 22 minutes longer, until set and firm to the touch. While the soufflé is baking, transfer the red pepper sauce to the small saucepan and heat through. Serve the soufflé immediately, accompanied by the sauce.

Individual Corn Soufflés
Prepare 7 (8-ounce) individual soufflé dishes with butter and Parmesan as described above. Place the dishes on a baking sheet and evenly divide the soufflé batter among them. Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and bake for 7 to 10 minutes longer, until firm to the touch.

What The Pros Know
You can get an even deeper corn flavor if you toast the cornmeal before beginning the recipe. Place a small dry skillet over high heat. When the pan is hot, add the cornmeal and toss or stir frequently until the cornmeal is very fragrant and has a golden toasted look, 3 to 4 minute —don’t let it brown. Immediately pour the cornmeal onto a plate to cool.

Getting Ahead
The red pepper sauce can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container. The béchamel can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated, a piece of plastic wrap pressed directly against the surface of the sauce, up to 2 days in advance. Reheat in a double boiler (or the microwave) before continuing with the recipe.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Feta, Roasted Pepper, and Basil Muffins

From The Art & Soul of Baking

Makes 12 muffins

Who says muffins have to be sweet? These are a great savory accompaniment to eggs or bacon on the breakfast table, and just as good alongside soup, salad, or roasted chicken. Do not substitute dried basil, because it just doesn’t have the punch of flavor these muffins require. If fresh basil is unavailable, substitute a tablespoon of fresh thyme or a teaspoon of dried thyme instead.

2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup (3 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
½ cup (4 ounces) jarred roasted red bell pepper, patted dry and chopped into ¼-inch dice
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
1 cup (8 ounces) buttermilk
¼ cup (2 ounces) olive oil
1 large egg

Standard 12-Cup Muffin Tin, Whisk, Large Bowl, Medium Bowl, 2-Cup Liquid Measuring Cup, Silicone or Rubber Spatula, Large Ice Cream Scoop or Two Soup Spoons, Parchment Paper, Thin Knife or Spatula, Cooling Rack

1 Preheat the oven to 375°F and position an oven rack in the center. Lightly coat the muffin tin with melted buter, oil, or high-heat canola-oil spray. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in the large mixing bowl. Set aside. In the medium bowl, stir together the feta cheese, roasted bell pepper, and chopped basil. Set aside.
2 Pour the buttermilk into the measuring cup. Add the olive oil and the egg and whisk together until well blended. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the well and stir gently with a spatula. Mix only until there are no more streaks of flour or pools of liquid and the batter looks fairly smooth. A few small lumps scattered throughout are fine—they will disappear during baking. Gently fold in the feta cheese mixture until evenly distributed in the batter.
3 Use the large ice cream scoop or 2 soup spoons to divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the tops feel firm and a skewer inserted into the centers comes out clean. Transfer the muffin tin to a rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Gently run a thin knife or spatula around each muffin to free it from the pan, lift out the muffins, and transfer them to a rack to finish cooling (careful, these are tender while hot). Serve warm. Storing When completely cool, the muffins can be stored at room temperature, wrapped in plastic or sealed in a resealable plastic bag, for 2 days. Reheat, wrapped in foil, in a 325°F oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until warmed through.

The muffins can also be frozen for up to 1 month, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and then sealed in a resealable plastic freezer bag. Thaw, still wrapped, for 30 minutes before reheating.

What The Pros Know
To use parchment in the muffin pan instead of the traditional pleated paper muffin liners, cut twelve 5 by 5-inch squares of parchment. Fit one into each muffin cup in the pan, pleating the sides slightly where they overlap so they lay flat against the pan walls. The parchment will extend above the top of the muffin cup. Put a spoonful of muffin batter into each liner to anchor it in the pan. Adjust each paper, as necessary so they are centered and even. Finish filling with the muffin batter. Bake as directed.