Posts Tagged ‘herbs’

Unrecipe of the Week: Almond Herb Crackers

April 4, 2016

 

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I try to stay true to my Whole 30| “Paleo-ish” diet on a day to day basis. That means no grains or gluten, dairy, legumes, sugar, sweeteners, or alcohol. For the most part, I am perfectly content with this, but once in awhile, I need a little something extra to get me through the day. Sure, there are all kinds of packaged Paleo treats, but if it is all about eating a clean diet of whole, natural foods, doesn’t buying Paleo cookies ‘n cream bars kind of defeat the purpose?

This recipe, adapted from Living Paleo is the perfect solution. They are all natural, Paleo compliant, easy to make and provide that bit of crunch I am looking for with a bowl of soup, or a plate of vegetables and eggs.

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Almond Herb Crackers:

Combine 2 cups of almond meal, 1/2 tablespoon of salt and 2 tablespoons of herbs. You can use fresh rosemary as the original recipe suggests, or any combination that suits you. I used dried herbs de Provence.

Add 1 egg white, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of coconut oil. Mix well.

Roll the dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper until it is about 1/8″ thick.

Place it on a baking sheet and remove the top layer of paper. Cut the dough into squares and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes until golden brown. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and allow to cool before removing from the pan.
Enjoy with your favorite dip, or as is.

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Unrecipe of the Week: Roasted Chicken

February 19, 2016

There is very little that evokes good old home cooking more than a whole roasted chicken. They take a little longer to make than many recipes that utilize chicken parts, but most of that time is spent in the oven. There are lots of ways to roast a chicken, and this method seems to yield that desired “juicy on the inside, crispy on the outside” ratio that we love. This is perfect Sunday dinner with the promise of leftovers to ease you into the week.

Start with a good quality chicken that is fresh, not frozen, and free of hormones and pesticides. Opt for organic, if possible.

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Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Rinse the chicken inside and out and remove the “innards” that are often stored in the cavity. Pat the chicken dry, and place it in a roasting pan, sprayed with cooking spray for easy clean up later.

Gently lift the skin and slide a few cloves of garlic between the skin and breast meat. Rub the bird all over with a little olive oil and a mixture of salt, pepper and paprika. Cut the ends off of a lemon and slip it into the cavity along with some garlic cloves. Sprinkle the chicken with fresh rosemary or thyme leaves, and toss some into the cavity. You can vary the seasonings, omit the lemon or change up the herbs to your liking

Place the chicken into the hot oven, breast side up. We like to add some baby potatoes to the pan to roast along with the chicken. You can also add chunks of carrots or onions if you like.  Cook for about 20 minutes, and then adjust the temperature down to 375, and roast another 50-60 minutes or so, until done. The rule of thumb is that the bird should roast about 20 minutes per pound once the temperature is reduced, but depending on size and fat content (a free range chicken will roast more quickly than a conventionally farmed one,) it could vary.
The chicken is done when the juices run clear, the thighs and wings move easily when jiggled, and a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh.

Let the chicken rest for 10- 15 minutes before cutting it to allow the juices to settle. Remove the lemon from the cavity and squirt the juice on the chicken before serving and enjoy!

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Herbal Infusions

February 16, 2016

 

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Do you have a tea ball that is just sitting in a drawer gathering dust? Well pull that thing out and repurpose it as an herb infuser. Many recipes call for a bouquet garni, which is a small bundle of herbs tied up in string or cheesecloth to allow the flavor to steep into the liquid, without all the little pieces getting loose.
A tea infuser can house some of those loose herb leaves and be hung over the side of the pot when making soups and stews. Its also fully reusable, and makes taking the herbs out of the food a breeze.
Next time you want to infuse a little flavor into your cooking without having to strain out the herbs at the end, try a using tea ball.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Confit

January 6, 2016

 

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Confit is a word that often turns up on restaurant menus, confounding the diner. Simply put, confit, ( pronounced kon- FEE,) means “to preserve,” in French.

Classically pertaining to duck, confit is the process of slowly cooking a food in a liquid that is inhospitable to bacteria growth. With meats and vegetables, it is some form of pure fat. For fruit, it is a concentrated sugar syrup. Once the food is slow cooked in its liquid, it has a shelf, or refrigerator life that is extended.

When food is fried in oil at a high temperature, the result is crisp surface acheived in a short period of time. With a confit, the oil is heated to a much lower temperature, during a longer period of time.

This week, we are making confits from garlic and shallots. These preserved alliums add a mellow flavor to meats and vegetables and the oil they are cooked in add a subtle taste to dressings and sautés.

They are easy to make, and great to have on hand to add dimension to simple week night dishes. While the instructions are interchangeable,we prefer to prepare them separately to keep the flavors pure.

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Peel several heads of garlic or shallots and cover them with olive oil so that they are fully submerged with at least  1/2″-1″ of oil on top. For about 2 or 3 pounds of shallots, you will use about 3 cups of oil.  Add several sprigs of fresh herbs, such as thyme or rosemary, and a bay leaf or two, depending on the quantity you are making. Some people like to add a little diced hot peppers to give the confit some heat. Place in a 300 degree oven for about an hour, until the cloves become somewhat brown, but are still very soft. The time it takes to cook will be determined by the quantity. Start taking a look at the 40 minute mark if you making a small amount.

Conversely, this can be done on the stovetop, simmering the oil at a low heat until the garlic or shallots are soft and slightly brown.

Cool, and store in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator until ready to use. The confit should last several weeks and up to 2 months.

Photos: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Cleaning a Coffee Grinder

May 13, 2014

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Coffee grinders are great for grinding coffee beans, but they are also useful for grinding herbs and spices. The only problem is, who wants turmeric scented coffee? Or coffee scented oregano? Get the picture?
Help is on the way! In between uses, toss in some uncooked rice and grind it up until the grinder is odor free. For particularly pungent smells, change the rice and grind again.

photo: Glasshouse Images

Unrecipe of the Week: White Bean Soup

January 2, 2014

Mojettes from Marais Poitevin

It’s a new year, and so far, it’s a cold one. Temperatures are expected to drop into the single digits in New York City,  and snow is on it’s way. I am craving warmth and comfort, and this soup should fit the bill.

It’s low in fat and calories, and high in protein and nutrients, thanks to the white beans, tomatoes and baby kale.

White Bean Soup

Rinse 1 can (or box: kudos Whole Foods for your new BPA free packaging!) of cannelinni beans and put them in a pot with about 6 cups of vegetable or chicken stock, a few springs of fresh thyme, rosemary and a few sage leaves. Add 2 crushed garlic cloves, and simmer for about 30 minutes or so. Add one 26 oz. can or box of chopped tomatoes with their juice, and continue to cook for another 30 minutes, uncovered. Remove the herbs and garlic cloves,  and add several handfuls of shredded baby kale. Cook another 15 minutes until the kale is softened. If at any point, the soup gets too thick, add more stock or water. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If you prefer a thick, smooth soup, you can puree it at this point.

When ready to serve, drizzle each bowl with olive oil, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Tabbouleh

July 5, 2013

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As the weather gets warmer, I find my appetite changes. I long for lighter, cooler foods, utilizing the fresh tastes of the season.This simple side dish fills the bill, yet it is hearty enough to build a meal around.

Tabbouleh, a Lebanese salad made of grains, herbs and tomatoes is a great make ahead dish, as it is best to allow the flavors to mingle a bit before serving. While it is traditionally made from bulgur or cracked wheat, quinoa, cous cous or even brown rice could be used in its place. It’s a perfect “unrecipe”that can be tailored to taste and dietary preferences.

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Prepare 1 cup of the grains as directed, being careful not to overcook them. Bulgur can be cooked on the stovetop for about 20 minutes, or soaked in very hot water until softened. Set aside to cool.

In the meantime, chop a bunch of parsley and ½ a bunch of fresh mint leaves. Add a diced tomato or 2, and a large diced cucumber. A bit of finely chopped onion or scallions can also be added. Stir in the cooked grains. Toss with lemon juice, and olive oil. Season liberally with sea salt and pepper. Refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to merge. Taste and add lemon juice or more salt and pepper if necessary. Enjoy!

Note: Traditional tabbouleh is very heavy on the herbs, and uses the bulgur modify the balance to herbs and grains to suit your taste.

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photo: Glasshouse Images

Dukkah

May 31, 2013

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Every so often, a “new” item hits the culinary scene and suddenly foodies everywhere are talking about it. This recent discovery has been used in Egyptian cooking for centuries. Dukkah, derived from the word “dakka” means “to crush,” and it is essentially a blend of crushed nuts and spices often sprinkled over flatbread dipped in  olive oil. Since the variation of ingredients is so vast, it is only right that it’s uses are equally as broad.

The mainstream store bought version from Trader Joe’s contains almonds, sesame, fennel, coriander and anise seeds and kosher salt. It adds wonderful flavor when sprinkled over salmon filets, and surely it would be an enhancement to roasted vegetables, chicken or lamb.

While it’s easy and economical to let Trader Joe’s make it, making your own would allow for some variation in ingredients. Here is a simple base (un)recipe to get you started. Let your imagination run wild as you add flavors to enhance the simplest of dishes.

Dukkah:

1/2 cup toasted nuts, crushed. (put them in a plastic bag and use a rolling pin for easy crushing)

Try almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts or even pistachios as a starter.

1/4 cup  sesame seeds 

2 teaspoons fennel seeds

1 tablespoon cumin,anise,or coriander seeds (or any mixture of seeds that suit your taste)

1/2 teaspoon or more kosher salt or sea salt

Consider adding dried herbs to the blend: mint, tarragon, thyme or basil

Toast the seeds lightly in a dry skillet, tossing to avoid over browning. Cool, and grind lightly in a spice grinder so they are crushed, but not turned to powder. Add to the nuts and mix. If you don’t have a grinder, give them a once over with the rolling pin before adding to the nuts. Transfer to a glass jar and enjoy!

photo: Indigo Jones

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Perfect Salad Dressing

April 16, 2013

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Homemade salad dressing is so easy to make, and so much better than the store bought variety. A simple vinaigrette can be made with oil, and anything acidic, such as vinegar, or citrus juice.
As a baseline, dressing should be 3 parts oil, to one part acid. Depending on the ingredients, and what the dressing is being used on, that might need to be tweaked a bit. Personally, I tend to  err on the side of extra acid, preferring a little more tang to the dressing.

To make the perfect salad dressing, start out with a good quality oil. Olive oil is the most common base for a vinaigrette, but other clean, flavorful oils such as walnut can also be used.  Vinegar, or citrus juice can provide the acid.

There are lots of types of vinegars on the market. Balsamic vinegars can range from tart, to syrupy and sweet, depending on how long it has been aged. There is even a white balsamic, that has a milder taste. Red wine vinegar is a bit more tart, and half wine vinegar and 1/2 balsamic can be a nice blend. There are also flavored vinegars which add an extra element.  Lemon juice is a nice alternative to vinegar, as is lime or even grapefruit juice.

Whisking, or shaking the mixture will cause it to emulsify, thickening it slightly.
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Once you have the basic recipe, it is fun to experiment with fresh herbs or other condiments.

One of my favorite tricks is to make the dressing in a dijon mustard jar that is almost empty. Just pour the oil and vinegar or lemon juice into the jar, and shake it vigorously. The mustard left on the sides of the jar will mix in and add another level of flavor to the mix.

Once you start making your own dressings, you will never want to go back to bottled versions, which are laden with preservatives and other unnecessary ingredients.

Enjoy!

Photos:Glasshouse Images

Unrecipe of the Week: Crab and White Bean Salad

April 1, 2013

This beautiful salad inspired by Mario Batali, is filled with springtime flavors, and hearty ingredients. The white beans and crab make it filling enough to serve as a light main course, as well as a starter.

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For the salad:

Drain and rinse 1 can of cannellini beans and place in a bowl. Add some finely diced red onion, and about a teaspoon or so of diced fresh rosemary and marjoram. Add the zest and juice of a lemon, season liberally with salt and pepper and chill until ready to use.

Before serving, mix in 1 pound of lump crabmeat, and drizzle with mint oil. Add a quick grind of fresh pepper and enjoy!

For the mint oil:
Blanch about ½ cup of fresh mint leaves in boiling water for 15-30 seconds. Drain and squeeze dry.

In a blender or food processor, puree the mint with ½ – ¾ cup of olive oil. This can also be done a couple of hours in advance and set aside until ready to serve.

photo: indigo jones

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