Friday, April 30, 2010

Miso Soup

"Almost instant soup!  You can make an individual serving for yourself whenever the inspiration hits."

1 T (more or less) miso
1 cup (more or less) boiling water
a few tiny cubes of soft tofu
a few delicate slices of scallion greens

optional additions: 

1 to 2 T dried wakame seaweed, soaked in water for 10 to 15 minutes, then drained
tiny carrot sticks (matchstick-like), lightly steamed
finely shredded cabbage, lightly steamed
a few leaves of spinach

Measure 1 tablespoon of the miso.

Place the miso into the serving bowls.

Add about 1/4 cup of the boiling water and stir to make a uniform paste.

Cut the tofu into tiny cubes.

Slice a few scallion greens.

Stir in remaining water plus all remaining ingredients.  Serve immediately.

Yield:  1 serving

My Review

I love the simplicity of miso soup.  Most of the time I have these ingredients on hand, so at a moment's notice I can enjoy a hot bowl of miso soup!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Little Chefs' Banana-Chocolate Chunk Bread

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature,
     plus more for preparing loaf pans
All-purpose flour for preparing loaf pans
3 1/4 cups cake flour
1/2 t baking soda
4 t baking powder
1/4 t kosher salt
1 1/3 cups sugar
4 large eggs
3 cups mashed ripe bananas
2/3 cup sour cream
1 cup (6 oz) semisweet chocolate chunks or morsels

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter two 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pans and then dust the pans with all-purpose flour, tapping out the excess.

In a large bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside. 

In a large bowl, using the electric mixer set on medium speed, cream together the 3/4 cup butter and sugar until light yellow and creamy.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the bananas and sour cream.  Beat until incorporated.  Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, beating after each addition just until the flour disappears. 

And don't forget the chocolate chips!

Using a rubber spatula, fold in the chocolate.  Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.

Bake for 20 minutes, then rotate the pans 180 degrees.  Continue to bake until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes longer.  Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool for at least 15 minutes before removing from the pan.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 2 loaves

My Review

My 3 year-old loves to help me in the kitchen.  For this recipe, she measured and stirred and when it came time to peel and mash the bananas, she was a big help! 
I halfed this recipe because I wanted to make one loaf, but listed the original recipe in full.  Needless to say, the banana bread was a huge hit and was gobbled up fast.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Russian Cabbage Borscht

1 1/2 cups thinly sliced potato
1 cup thinly sliced beets
4 cups water
1 to 2 T butter
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
1 scant t caraway seeds
1 1/2 t salt (or more to taste)
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 medium-sized carrot, sliced
3 to 4 cups shredded cabbage
freshly ground black pepper
1 t dill (plus extra, for garnish)
1 to 2 T cider vinegar
1 to 2 T brown sugar or honey (I used honey)
1 cup tomato puree


sour cream or yogurt
extra dill

Place potatoes, beets, and water in a medium-sized saucepan.  Cover, and cook over medium heat until tender (20 to 30 minutes).

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a kettle or Dutch oven.  Add onion, caraway seeds, and salt.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent (8 to 10 minutes.)

and cabbage, plus 2 cups of the cooking water from the potatoes and beets.

Cover and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are tender (another 8 to 10 minutes).

Add the remaining ingredients (including all the potato and beet water), cover, and simmer for at least 15 more minutes.  Taste to correct seasonings, and serve hot, topped with sour cream or yogurt and a light dusting of dill.

Yield:  4 to 6 servings

My Review

I've had this cookbook for 12 years, and never tried this recipe!  I'm so glad I did, because it is terrific.  The flavors come together nicely in this beautiful red broth and vegetables are cooked just until tender.  Even though the yogurt topping was forgotten, this is a great borscht.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Chicken Tagine with Pomegranates

"The Moroccan word tagine, when translated simply as "stew", hardly does justice to this beautifully fragrant, succulent one-dish meal.  Pomegranate juice lends a tart depth of flavor to the sauce; use bottled juice and skip the garnish when the fruit is not in season.  Serve with whole-wheat couscous to soak up the delicious sauce."

1 1/4 cups fresh pearl onions or frozen small whole onions
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 t ground ginger
1/8 t freshly ground pepper
1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat
1 1/2 cups pomegranate juice
3/4 cup pitted prunes
1/2 cup dried apricots
15 sprigs cilantro, tied with kitchen string
1/2 t salt, or to taste
2 T sesame seeds for garnish
1 cup pomegranate seeds for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 F.  If using fresh pearl onions, cook in boiling water for 1 minute.  Drain.  Peel when cool enough to handle.  If using frozen onions, rinse under warm water to thaw.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add ginger and pepper; cook, stirring, until fragrant and beginning to foam, about 1 minute. 

Add chicken and onions; stir to coat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to turn golden, 5 to 8 minutes. 

Add pomegranate juice, prunes, apricots, and salt...

and cilantro; bring to a simmer.  Cover tightly with foil and then with a lid.  Transfer to the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove lid and foil.

Discard cilantro.  Return to oven and bake, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through and tender, about 10 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, toast sesame seeds in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until light golden and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.  Transfer to a small bowl and cool.

To serve, spoon the tagine into a serving bowl or onto plates.  Garnish with sesame seeds and pomegranate seeds.

Makes 4 servings

My Review

This exotic stew has amazing flavors and the chicken and fruit cook down nicely to tender, rich bites.  The broth thickens and the couscous soaks it all up.  I made this dish for my Mom and she LOVED it. 

Monday, April 12, 2010

Marinated Steak

1/2 cup dry red wine
2 t light soy sauce
Pinch of ground black pepper
1/4 t dried oregano
1 pound flank steak, trimmed of all visible fat

In a shallow dish, combine the wine, soy sauce, pepper, and oregano. 

Add the steak and turn to coat both sides with the marinade.  Cover and refrigerate overnight, turning the steak occasionally.

When ready to cook, remove the steak from the marinade, pat dry with paper towels, and discard the marinade.

Coat a broiler-pan rack with olive oil cooking spray.  Preheat the broiler.

Place the steak on the prepared rack.  Broil 4" from the heat source for 5 minutes per side, or until a thermometer inserted in the center of the steak registers 160 for medium.

To serve, thinly slice the steak diagonally across the grain and place on a serving plate.

Makes 4 servings

My Review

This marinade is very subtle.  The wine and soy sauce combination adds a hint of savory flavor.  After pulling the steak from the oven, I covered it in foil and let it rest for about 15 minutes.  Slicing it thin and adding it to a fresh veggie salad made dinner tonight.  I love a good steak salad and this was a breeze to make!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Korean-Style Fire Beef in Crisp Lettuce Cups

"Korean bul go gi is often translated as 'fire beef.'  This version serves the sizzling-hot beef in cool and refreshing iceberg lettuce cups.  The contrast, temperatures, and flavors is simply delightful..."  -David Kim

1 pound beef sirloin, sliced across the grain about 1/8 inch thick
1 T sugar
1 T sake

Place the beef slices in a large, shallow baking dish.  Sprinkle them with the sugar and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the sake.  Set aside at room temperature while preparing the marinade.

2 1/2 T soy sauce
1 T sake
1 T Asian sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 1/2 t peeled and minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup chopped green onion, white and light green part only
2 t sesame seeds, toasted
1 T water
1 t freshly ground black pepper
1 head iceberg lettuce
1 T vegetable oil

In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon sake, the soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, green onion, sesame seeds, water, and pepper. 

Whisk together and pour over the beef, making sure the beef is completely immersed in the marinade.  Cover and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

Core the heat of lettuce and then peel off whole leaves from it.  You will need 12 cup-shaped leaves.  Rinse the leaves well under cool water and drain upside down on a rimmed baking sheet lined with a double thickness of paper towels.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Reserve the remaining lettuce for another use.

To cook the beef, remove it from the marinade.  Heat a well-seasoned, large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the vegetable oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan.  Add the beef, working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding, and saute, turning and moving the slices as they cook, until cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes.  Remove from the heat.

Fill the lettuce cups with the beef and eat out of hand.

Serves 4

My Review

This beef is so tender it melts in your mouth and so flavorful, it's well worth the overnight marinate.  I love this paired with the cool lettuce, but iceberg was a little difficult to work with.  Next time I will try bibb lettuce...  Serve with the remaining sake!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Spring Asparagus Soup

"An elegant soup is often the ideal beginning to a meal, and this soup fits that description.  Although it can be purchased year-round, asparagus is at its peak from February through June, when it's sweet, tender, and plentiful.  This recipe is a snap to prepare and is especially good when topped with a dollop of sour cream and some croutons for texture."   -Ildiko Woodhall

1 T unsalted butter
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 pound asparagus, woody ends removed, cut into 1-inch pieces
24.5 oz low-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup uncooked long-grain rice
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
sour cream for garnish
croutons for garnish

Beautiful Spring Asparagus

In a 4- to 6-quart over medium heat, melt the butter and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan.  Add the onions and asparagus and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to brown lightly on the edges and the asparagus is tender, about 12 minutes.

Add the broth and rice and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the rice is quite tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat and, using an emmersion blender, puree the soup until smooth and velvety.  Alternatively, working in batches, ladle the soup into a blender, cover securely, and process until smooth.  Return to medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes longer to heat through. 

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Ladle the soup into a warmed soup tureen or individual bowls.  Garnish each serving with a dollop of sour cream and some croutons.  Serve immediately.

Serves about 6 as a first course

My Review

This soup says Spring with its green color and delicate flavors.  It would be perfect to serve with a chicken salad...  don't skip the garnish as it adds a bit of richness and crunch.  Lovely...