Sunday, April 28, 2013

Fennel-Citrus Salad with Meyer Lemon Dressing



A few weeks ago Ed, Chris and I went to True Bistro in Somerville, MA for dinner. Although we went on a Tuesday night, we had a half hour wait (there are only 31 seats and the configuration makes a party larger than two logistically harder to accommodate).  The wait was well worth it. The evening really started when Ed, who knows I ration the butter, eggs and cream, asked what he should order. Since the restaurant is vegan, I could reply, "Anything you would like!"  The three of us each ordered a different salad, large plate, and dessert* and all were deemed good to excellent. I am looking forward to return visits. Meanwhile I am going to start cooking from Veganomicon, which has been sitting on my desk for weeks, and from Vegan Pie. While the vegan "cheeses" and sauces, olive oil crust and "whipped cream" will take some time to perfect, Chris's fennel salad was an easy inspiration.

This salad begs for a mandolin as thinner fennel would definitely be a plus, but the real star is the Meyer Lemon Dressing which would be great on other salads as well.  While the lemon zest could be used in the dressing, I chose to use it as a garnish with the nuts.

DRESSING

Combine and whisk until very smooth:

1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
Zest from 1 meyer lemon (Reserve as garnish or use in dressing)
1/4 c meyer lemon juice
1 t Dijon style mustard (optional)


VEGGIES

Slice very thin:

1 medium bulb fennel
1/2 medium orange, peeled

Chop finely

1 T parsley  (or substitute fresh fennel weed)
2 T toasted hazelnuts (I am fresh out so used tamari almonds)

Toss fennel, oranges and parsley with dressing; depending on taste and actual amount of fennel used, this will probably be more dressing than needed. Reserve any remaining dressing for future use. Divide salad between two plates.  Top with nuts and zest.

  Shaved fennel, citrus, Italian parsley, Meyer lemon vinaigrette, toasted hazelnut
    Wilted spinach, smoked tofu, pecans, cranberries, red onion, balsamic vinegar
    Crispy artichoke, harissa, baby spinach, Israeli couscous, preserved lemon, dukkah


    Red curry with tofu, baby bok choy, eggplant, king oyster, grilled rice cake
    Phyllo triangles, caramelized onions, swiss chard, seasoned tofu, sorrel cream
    House made fettuccine, asparagus, roasted tomato and mushroom, smoked tofu


    Strawberry cheesecake, almond crust, white chocolate, balsamic reduction
    Passion fruit tart, shortbread crust, cascabel coconut caramel
    ‘Death-by-chocolate’ cake, whipped coconut cream, crunchy shattered caramel

Reviewed 6/18/2017

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Lamb Shank with Wine Jus, Gremolata and White Bean Puree

When Ed and I are in Denver, usually a couple of times a year, we tend to eat at 240 Union .  While we generally have a good meal at a reasonable price, occasionally something is really good. Several years ago it was a mushroom salad which I tried to capture in Mushroom - Arugula Salad. Unfortunately this item has been missing from the menu on all subsequently visits.  Most recently, Ed and I both found  "Colorado Lamb Shank –wood oven braised, Chianti jus, gremolata" to be particularly good, good enough for me to try to recreate this dish at home.  What the menu description does not mention is that the lamb shank is served with pureed white beans and sauteed beet greens, vegetables which well compliment the meat and make for a delicious meal. When I made this recently, however, I did not have a source of beet greens and while I could have done spinach I decided on a green salad.  Anticipating this as a guest meal and wanting to focus on guests rather than my stove, I determined that this meal can be made ahead almost to finish (see next to last photo), leaving time for a shower, a change of clothes and a glass of wine with guests before a quick exit to the kitchen to do the final assembly. Gremolata can be made way ahead. Wine can be reduced  to 1/4, then later warmed, removed from heat and  butter added at the last minute. Bean puree can also be made ahead and microwaved to warm before serving, and lamb shanks can be kept simmering until ready to serve.  

Serves 2, scale accordingly.


On a gas grill sear until browned on all sides

2 lamb shanks

(A gas grill is a quick and clean way to brown the shanks, but this is not worth building a charcoal fire. Searing can also be done on a stove top or in the oven; see Lamb Shanks with Fig Sauce)

In a large pot saute:

1 T olive oil

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

When garlic is soft, add browned lamb to the pot, then

1/2 c red wine

When wine has slightly evaporated add

Water to almost cover lamb
IF serving with white bean puree, add  2-3 whole unpeeled garlic cloves to pot.

Cover and turn the heat to low.  Cook for at least an hour and thirty minutes, turning the shanks every half hour and  adding more water if liquids run low, until the meat is very tender - nearly falling off the bone.  Avoiding or spooning away the accumulated fat, remove lamb from liquid and place on a platter to drain/dry off any excess cooking liquid.

WHILE LAMB IS COOKING MAKE GREMOLATA, WHITE BEAN PUREE, WINE JUS




GREMOLATA


Combine:


1/4 c finely chopped parsley

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 t lemon zest, finely chopped
1 sprig of mint, finely chopped (optional)
WHITE BEAN PUREE

In a medium sauce pan heat:


1 T olive oil


2 cloves garlic, cooked in lamb broth, removed from skin

Add the following and simmer until liquid is reduced by approximately half, about 5 minutes:
1 15 oz can cannellini beans, drained but not dry
3/8 c chicken stock
1 T lemon juice

Put bean mixture in a food processor or, my choice, use an immersion blender, and blend until smooth. Add more chicken stock if necessary to achieve a smooth consistency. If this puree is made well before lamb is ready to be served, it should be warmed in the microwave before serving.

WINE SAUCE

Boil in small saucepan, until reduced to 1/4 c, about 10 - 15 minutes

1 c red wine

Remove from heat and add

1 T cold cut-up butter
Swirl pan until butter is melted and sauce is thickened


WHILE LAMB IS DRAINING ON PLATTER SAUTE THE BEET GREENS

ASSEMBLE DISH


Divide the warm bean mixture, the sauteed greens and the lamb shanks between 2 plates or large pasta/soup bowls.  Pour the wine sauce over each of the two lamb shanks. Put a generous tablespoon of gremolata on top of each lamb shank.  Serve immediately.


Reviewed 5/29/2017

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Potato Salad

While almost all of my favorite recipies and adaptions are now posted, occasionally I find one missing.  Last time was when Alex called me and asked where she could find my Spinach Salad recipe. This time I was getting ready to make potato salad for a group I hosted last weekend and found I had to dig through my cookbooks. My Hot Potato Salad, a holiday favorite, follows a strict recipe, but cold potato salad....

Cooked cold potatoes and dressing; you can really make it up as you go along depending on what is in season and what is in your refrigerator.  I love shelled fresh raw peas in this salad but that just doesn't work in early April in New England. When I checked on the allergies of the weekend guests, I found raw onions were out, so this time onions were replaced by sweet peppers. I also prefer a dressing that is lighter on the mayonnaise or equivalent and heavier on the mustard and vinegar components.

Cook until just tender to a fork but not mushy (ie test often!)

3 pounds small Red Bliss or Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled and cut into quarters or 1 1/2" slices

While potatoes are cooking, prepare other veggies

2 carrots, scrubbed and if necessary peeled, cut into 1/4-inch dice
3 ribs celery, cut into 1/4 inch dice
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 sweet pepper or several small multi-colored peppers, chopped (optional)
1 c fresh shelled peas or snap peas, cut on the diagonal into several slices (if in season)


When potatoes are just barely tender, remove from heat, drain, rinse with cold water, dry and cut into bite size cubes.

Mix dressing.  I tend to dress on the light side, for a more heavily dressed salad (or if more additional veggies are used), increase mustard  dressing and mayo to 1/2 c each:

1/3 c Mustard Dressing (not Mustard Maple)
1/4 t salt, pepper and more salt if desired to taste
1/3 c Mayonnaise (I use Spectrum Light Canola Mayo)


Mix the potatoes and the veggies and dress, then toss in

1/2 c fresh dill chopped (or substitute parsley)

Serves 7 - 10

Reviewed 6/18/2017

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Cool Tools 3

Cool Tools, Cools Tools 2, and Cool Tools 3 feature books and kitchen tools I have cooked without for many years, but now find incredibly valuable additions to my kitchen. Most all of these just weren't available, or readliy available in their current form, when I started cooking.

When I was making Pea Soup from the leftover Christmas Eve ham, Alexandra asked incredulously, "Don't you have an immersion blender?" Then upon my response added, "You really should get one."  I recently did and Alexandra, as usual, is absolutely right. Making soup, especially soup with beets, really trashed my kitchen.  By the time I had ladeled the soup, in batches, into the food processor, pureed the soup, poured it into a bowl, then processed the next batch I had soup dripping down the sides of the pan, processor, and bowl and on the counter.

The immersion blender purees a large kettle of soup in just a couple of minutes. No food processor bowl or holding bowl required. The only two items requiring washing are the soup pan itself and the end of the immersion blender which can go into the dishwasher (photo left, spoons for scale). This tool makes making pureed soup so much easier I will be making  Pea SoupCarrot Soup,  Beet Soup, Gazpacho/Solmorejo, Pumpkin Soup and Potato Leek Soup  and other pureed soups much more frequently.

In addition, I have found the immersion blender works fairly well for Parsnip and Fennel Puree.  Because this mixture contains less liquid than soup, the blending takes longer and the end result is not quite as silky as when done in a food processor.  Botton line, when I am just cooking for Ed and me, I'd probably use the immersion blender for this recipe, when cooking for a larger group, the food processor.