Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sauteed Mixed Greens, Rice Pilaf with Scallops, and Roasted Beets with Onions

Tonight I made a large dinner, fairly simply, over the course of an hour. I used scallops, rice, olive oil, butter, cream, flour, salt, pepper, beets, chard, kale, rosemary, leeks, onions, and garlic, most in somewhat random amounts. This was the end result:

And boy is it good.

For the beets, remove the beet greens and set them aside, then place the beets in a foil packet with chopped onions (they'll be quite tender so take that into account when chopping), garlic, and whatever spices you like, as well as some olive oil. I stuck a healthy swatch of fresh rosemary in the packet this time. Then cook the packet in the oven at 450 degrees for 40 minutes. Sizzle sizzle.

For Pilaf, simply saute some chopped onion in a saute pan with a lid, then brown some rice lightly with them. I used long grain jasmine rice; any long grain rice will do, some wild rice added in isn't a bad thing either. About 1/4 onion per cup of rice, once the rice is lightly browned add two cups of broth for each cup of rice, and bring to an active boil. Once boiling, place the lid on the pan and reduce the heat to simmer (medium-low to medium heat). Check after 10 minutes (a glass lid is quite helpful here), the pilaf is finished when all moisture has been absorbed into the rice. I garnished mine with chopped leeks, chives also work for this.

The greens are a simple saute with a roue. Heat oil in a pan until water flicked into the pan sizzles and pops. For chard, you can give the big stems the foil packet treatment like I did, or just start cooking them first. Once the stems have a good head start, add the leaves. Some time after the chard leaves, you can add thinner greens like kale (I generally remove the stems) or even leeks. Beet greens are probably last on this list, since they don't take much time to cook at all. I cook my greens until they are really done, but you can "stop early" if you like your greens a little crisper. I add water during the process to sort of steam the greens, if the pan still has oil in it this can cause some splatter so be careful. When the greens were almost finished I added some wine, cooked that off, and then pulled them out of the pan.

I deglazed that same pan with a little more wine and some water, and then plopped in half a dozen scallops. I seared them on both sides, let them absorb some of the tasty moisture, and then set them on top of the pilaf. I added some more water to deglaze the pan again, and once everything was off the bottom I added some cream and flour to make a simple sauce. I pour the sauce over the greens, but it would have been good on the pilaf as well I'm sure.

You can fit this on a plate however you like, but I put the scallops on top of one side of the pilaf, the onions from the beet packet on top of the other side, and the greens (with the "gravy" on top) on the other side of the plate. The beet got its own home between them, and the chard stems (from a separate packet) ended up being my seconds.

All of these recipes are really simple and substitutable, I could have easily used chicken instead of scallops for example, and any combination of greens would have worked.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Even Easier - Easy as Apple Pie

I haven't finished eating the galette yet, but I still had a ton of apples, so I bought some more pastry and made an apple pie. The apple pie recipe is on the box of the pastry shells, but really you don't need one. You put pastry on the bottom of the pie tin, put spiced apples in the middle, and put another shell on top. Then you cook it for 40 minutes at 425. Then you put it on the window sill and the crows eat it.

The apples were serviced by the apple-peeler corer used for the galette previously, the idea is generally to have thin, bite sized pieces of apple. I mixed them around in this bowl with some cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar, along with a little bit of flour, a pinch of salt, and more than the recommended amount of lemon juice. I find more lemon juice to be a good thing, so if you agree, and the recipe you have seems a bit skimpy on the limon, I support your decision to add more.

This time I used an actual lemon, too.

I crimped and poked the top shell as one should, you don't have to poke a little apple shape into the top, but it helps. About 15 minutes in I'm going to give the pie a little skirt to protect the edges from overcooking, leaving the middle to get the loving it needs.

I hope this turns out well, considering all my bragging about how easy it is! Here's the recipe, complete with the skirt recommendation:

Oh wait, did I say in 15 minutes? That was half an hour ago... oh NO!


Well, the smoke alarm seems skeptical of this spectacle, but actually that looks pretty tasty. Nice golden color (for the most part), and that caramel-y substance leaking out the side there looks promising. I used really good organic sugar, so the prospect of the pie having caramel apple innards is a particularly tasty one. Time will tell.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Apple Galette

A simple recipe; so simple even I can follow it!

First, peel, core, and slice about 7 apples. It helps if you have a medieval torture device handy.

Next, roll out 17 ounces (one package) of puff pastry until about 1/4 inch thin, and cut it into ten 5-inch diameter circles, like I did above. Chill the pastry for half an hour and then neatly brush it with an egg wash made with one egg yolk and 2 teaspoons of water. Be careful not to let the egg wash spill all over the place. If this happens, start over.

Once you've started over and there is no spilled egg wash still clearly visible next to your (clearly) 5 inch circular pastry divots, take a small package of almond paste (not marzipan, the other stuff) and divide it into 10 bits (little balls), and flatten them between sheets of wax paper. Then apply the paste circles to your pastry circles like cheese on a hamburger.

Divide the apple wedges evenly between your ten (not two) pastries, approximately 25 wedges each. Then sprinkle the galettes with lemon juice. If you don't have lemon juice, and are really silly, use organic limeade apparently. I mean, I did, and it was fine.

With pesto pasta in the background (see previous blog entry for instructions on making parsley pesto), spice your galettes liberally. I used freshly ground nutmeg, freshly ground cloves, and pre-ground cinnamon that has been passed down in my family for generations of a brand not sold in stores since the 80s. Fresh cinnamon would also work. Dust your galettes with confectioners sugar. If you like, you could create a caramel sauce for the galettes, but it isn't required (especially if you forgot to buy cream).

Bake at 400 degrees until the pastry is fluffy and flaky in the middle and golden brown around the edges. If you achieved the correct thickness of pastry, this should be 16-18 minutes. If you used limeade instead of lemon juice and also used way too much, the middle might be a little mushy, but still quite tasty.

Serve with the caramel sauce if any and vanilla bean ice cream (yum). Garnish with mint, or, if you just want to take a picture, you can use flat leaf parsley. The color is the main thing for picture taking.

This is a delicious and easy recipe (except for the apple prep, but that's what the device is for), and I highly recommend it. Despite the fact that I am apparently totally inept at contorting puff pastry into 10 5-inch circles (that poor poor galette on the right...), my results were quite yummy and I imagine yours will be even better.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Parsley Pesto with Walnuts

On tonight's menu I had two recipes planned, one which was sent to me with my veggies and one which I researched online after coming into possession of a huge box of apples. This is about the first recipe:

Parsley Pesto with Walnuts
Recipe from

  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (I used a toaster oven)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (organic)

  • 1 cup packed fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley

  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth (I subbed mushroom bouillon)

  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled

  • 1 tablespoon plain unseasoned bread crumbs

  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, or to taste

  • 16 ounces spaghettini or other thin pasta

1. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, process walnuts, oil, parsley, broth, garlic, bread crumbs, and salt until smooth

Pesto in a precious food processor.

Check. I only used 4 cloves of garlic, since the cloves were massive.

It's as big as the clock.

See what I mean?

2. Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking liquid, then drain pasta in colander.

Colorful pasta.

Check. I went to war with the pasta I had, but I'm not really a spaghettini fan anyhow. Neither is my spell check.

3. Place pasta in a large serving bowl and add the parsley-walnut pesto and reserved cooking liquid. Toss well to combine and serve at once.

Pasta with pesto

Tasty results achieved: the pesto was good and easily prepared. The recipe boils down to "boil water and puree stuff", but I did miss the last step: I did not "serve at once" because I was in the process of my second recipe: Apple Galette.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Today's tasty experiment was trying to make my family's famous fajitas, but without using fajita mix from a packet. I have to say it was quite a success. This time I have photographic evidence to back me up.

First I chopped a large yellow onion quite fine while some olive oil heated in a skillet over medium high heat. Once the oil was shimmery, I tipped the onions into it an pushed them around with a spoon to coat them in the oil and keep them from sticking to the pan. I added a touch more oil and a sprinkling of kosher salt, and then got to chopping a bell pepper.

First I cut around the stem and tugged out the peppers guts, then sliced it in half, and then diced it up. You could dice your peppers and onions smaller or larger, but I was in the mood for fairly small bits as you can see. I added those to the pan as the onions were just starting to get translucent, and stirred them up, adding another splash of olive oil. Then I let that cook while I chopped up some chicken. I'll spare you the raw chicken picture, not sure what I was thinking when I took it, but it looks like chopped up raw meat. Not really tasty.

I sliced up two chicken breasts and added them to the mix, as well as some (say a 1/4 teaspoon each) chili powder, cumin, seasoning salt, garlic, and black pepper. After the chicken was essentially done (all white, no pink inside when split), I added some lime juice and mint, stirred it up, and then removed it from the heat.
I added chili powder to my own tastes, and warmed up two tortillas in the same pan, one at a time.

Once the tortillas were ready, I filled them with the fajita filling and some shredded cheese, and voila. As you can probably figure out, there's a lot of fajita filling leftover, but as you can see by the empty bag, I'm out of tortillas. The debris nearby is from the onion and the bell pepper. I scooped it into the bag and stuck it in the fridge. Is bell pepper good for chicken stock? I guess there's one way to find out.

The fajitas were tasty, but I'm gonna kick up the spice a notch next time. Sadly, I didn't have a jalapeno handy.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Chicken breast and beet green sautee with roasted onions and beets

My plan is as follows: Just after receiving a produce delivery, go through the handy included list and figure out what logical dishes spring forth from the cornucopoid bin. When beets turned out to be one of the items included, I found myself having nothing spring to mind whatsoever, a problem I thought I had better address shortly, since I anticipated further beets in boxes to come.

After some research I determined that the (somewhat scout-ish) method of cooking beets at high heat in the oven for 40 minutes in an aluminum foil packet seemed like a good way to go for a "beet beginner" such as myself. I removed the greens from the beets, and put the beets on a large square of foil, then drizzled them with olive oil. I also chopped an onion into the mix, particularly since the whole affair reminded me of grilling on the barbecue, which always requires an onion. I also included 3 diced garlic cloves (to add some aromatic flavor) and 3 undiced ones (to provide tasty bites of flavor on their own). I sealed the packet, slipped it into the oven at 425, and then prepped some chicken.

I slipped a chicken breast into a dish that was just the right size for marinating, and salted, peppered, thymed, and balsamic vinegared it, just a sprinkling of each. Then I poked holes in it until it was quite receptive to marinating, and then filled the dish with red wine to cover the breast. I used a Cabernet Sauvignon because that's what I had sitting by the stove, but it was sweeter than the ideal; next time I would probably use something drier.

With about 15 minutes left, I started some rice in the rice cooker, and addressed the beet greens. The tops of the beets are tasty and spinach-like, so if you like greens, you might want to hold onto them, as I did. I sauteed some more garlic, the beet greens, and a diced bunch of celery in a skillet while the rice cooked and the beets finished. Once the greens and garlic were mixed and starting to cook, I diced the chicken breast into the saute, and added the marinade to the pan as well for good measure. It sizzled as you might expect, and by this time there was also a quite prodigious sizzling noise coming from the oven. I cooked the beet greens quite well, making sure they were extra wilty, since that is how I prefer my greens... you are welcome not to cook yours to death, but my results were tasty nonetheless.

When the timer set for the beets went off, I removed the packet from the oven and spilled its contents into the saute pan with the heat reduced a bit. I tested the beets with a fork and found that two were quite yielding, while the others were a little tougher, so I took out the two that were finished and scraped off their peels with a fork. Once the others were a bit softer and had given a little flavor to the saute (and vice versa) I extracted them as well and gave them the same treatment. The rice finished and I added it to the saute as well, mixing it all up quickly and then taking it off the heat.

Unfortunately, I ate it so quickly that there are no pictures. If you make this, please do send your pics my way, so I can show people how tasty it looks.