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.