Archive for June, 2009

Basil and Thyme ideas??

June 19, 2009

basil and thyme

I’ve got all this beautiful basil and thyme and need ideas of what to do with it!  I’ll make a pesto for sure, but outside of that, any suggestions?


So simple: Quick Salmon Tacos with Collards

June 17, 2009

Hello there!  I’m here today to give you all yet another non-recipe recipe.  And you know what?  In my opinion, these are really the best, especially in the summer.  Here’s what happened.  Dinner time rolled around and I was stumped and lazy, as usual. I remembered a beautiful piece of salmon that I had purchased a couple of days before, and not wanting to risk letting it go bad, decided to base the meal around it. Next came the vegetable component. I don’t know about you, but for me, I need a vegetable at almost every meal, preferably even breakfast! It just makes me feel good. So I had some collards in the fridge, which is great, because I love to pair salmon with greens. Then I just needed to finish it off. Now, one thing I’m really into these days is putting things in corn tortillas. I actually used to be vehemently against corn tortillas, preferring their flour-based cousins, but I’m a convert! They’re lighter, they are arguably a whole grain, and they’re also small and cute. I’ll also add, and of course this is just a personal opinion, but I really do think that food is more fun to eat when you can wrap it up in a corn tortilla. So there you go… end of rant.

The “recipe” is embarassingly simple. I seasoned the salmon with salt and pepper and then pan fried it in olive oil until it got a bit of a crust. Then I threw it in a 400 degree oven on a baking sheet to finish cooking. While the salmon was in the oven, I sautéed the kale with olive oil, garlic, cumin, and cinnamon (and s+p, of course), and sliced up an avocado. All that was left to do was warm up the tortillas and throw it all together. So simple. A quick squeeze of lemon brought it all together and brightened it up. That’s it!

Quick Salmon Tacos with Collard Greens

1 lb salmon filets
salt and pepper, olive oil for pan

1 bunch of collard greens, jullienned, washed well
1 big garlic clove, or two small, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
about 1 tablespoon olive oil for sauteeing

2 ripe avocados, sliced
8 corn tortillas
1 lemon, quartered

Start by pan frying the salmon.  Warm a glug of olive oil in a non-stick pan over high heat.  While it’s heating up, season the salmon with salt and pepper.  When the oil glistens and moves easily around the pan, carefully place the salmon in the pan and let it cook (without moving it) until it gets a little bit of a crust on the non-skin side.  Remove the salmon from the pan, place it on a baking sheet, and put it in a 400 degree oven for 5-10 minutes (depending on thickness) to finish cooking.

While the salmon is in the oven, make the collards.  Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the collard greens (it’s ok if they’re still a little wet from washing, this will help them steam a little as they cook) to the pan.  Add the garlic, stir to combine, and cover the pan to let the greens steam for a few minutes.  When the greens are tender (about five minutes), add the cumin and cinnamon, stir, and continue cooking until all water has evaporated and the greens are tender.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a hot dry pan, heat the corn tortillas, one at a time, turning often until they are heated through.  Place the tortillas on plates (2 per person).  Remove the skin from the salmon and break it up, dividing it between the tortillas.  Add some collards to each tortilla, and top with avocado slices.  Finish with a squeeze of lemon.

Serves 4.

Daring Cooks: Dumplings! (with edits)

June 15, 2009

dumplings cooking

Hi there!  Just wanted to jump back in and add a few notes about this recipe.  All the new notes will be in green!

This month was my first daring cooks challenge.  It was hosted by Jen of Use Real Butter, and she chose Chinese Dumplings and Potstickers!  In my typical fashion, I had a whole month for the challenge, but I made the dumplings last night (the reveal date was yesterday!).  I planned to blog about them as soon as I finished eating them, slip my post in at the last second, and call it a night.  Well, needless to say, it didn’t quite happen that way.  Here’s what really happened:  I did make the dumplings last night, around seven.  They came out perfectly, but by the time I was done I didn’t really feel like having dumplings for dinner and my roommate was tempting me with the idea of going out to get Ethiopian.  Here’s the thing.  I’ve been craving Ethiopian food ALL WEEK and haven’t been able to get someone to go with me.  So of course, I caved.  I threw the rest of the dumplings in the freezer and we went out.  We had an awesome meal, hung out on the restaurant’s back patio for a while, and then I came home and promptly fell asleep watching Heroes, forgetting all about my plans to make a sneaky last-second post.  That brings us to this morning.  Well, I figure 8 hours late isn’t too big a deal, so here you go!  Potstickers!


Here the dough, after being kneaded.


Filling the dumplings…


And here the are now, crimped and ready for the pan.

ready to eat

And here they are again right before I put them in the fridge and went out to Ethiopian!  I did try one though.. delicious!

Chinese Dumplings/Potstickers

pork filling:
1 lb (450g) ground pork
4 large napa cabbage leaves, minced
1 small onion, minced
7 shitake mushrooms, minced (if dried – rehydrated and rinsed carefully)
1/4 (55g) cup ginger root, minced
3 tbsp (40g) soy sauce
2 tbsp (28g) sesame oil
1/2 block silken tofu
One note: the original recipe had cornstarch in the filling.  It acts as a binder.  I didn’t use it for two reasons:  One, I didn’t have any (simple!).  Two, I learned, on the dumpling episode of Bobby Flay’s Throwdown, that adding silken tofu to dumpling filling yeilds a silky (go figure) and perfectly textured dumpling.  I don’t like it when the meat part of the dumpling cooks up too hard, and tofu works perfectly to keep it the texture I like.   It also acts as a binder, helping the filling hold together while keeping it moist.

dough: (double this for the amount of filling, but easier to make it in 2 batches – or just halve the filling recipe)
2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (113g) warm water (although I ended up using much more)
flour for worksurface

For the filling: Combine all filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly (I mix by clean hand). Cover and refrigerate until ready to use (up to a day, but preferably within an hour or two)

To make the dough: In a large bowl mix flour with the water and stir until water is absorbed. Continue adding water one teaspoon at a time and mixing thoroughly until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. We want a firm dough that is barely sticky to the touch.

Knead the dough about twenty strokes, adding more flour as needed to keep it from sticking, then cover with a damp towel for 15 minutes. Take the dough and form a flattened dome. Cut into strips about 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide. Shape the strips into rounded long cylinders. On a floured surface, cut the strips into 3/4 inch pieces. Press palm down on each piece to form a flat circle (you can shape the corners in with your fingers). With a rolling pin, roll out a circular wrapper from each flat disc. Take care not to roll out too thin or the dumplings will break during cooking – about 1/16th inch. Leave the centers slightly thicker than the edges. Place a tablespoon of filling in the center of each wrapper and fold the dough in half, pleating the edges along one side. Keep all unused dough under damp cloth.

*There are two other, easier, ways to do this, both of which I tried.  One, you can just roll the dough into a log and cut off pieces, squish them flat, and then roll them a little flatter.  You can also take a bigger piece of dough, roll it out like a pie crust, and then use a 4-5 inch round cookie cutter (or even the rim of a glass) to cut out circles.  Both of these methods worked well for me.

To pan fry (potstickers): Place dumplings in a frying pan with 2-3 tbsp of vegetable oil. Heat on high and fry for a few minutes until bottoms are golden. Add 1/2 cup water and cover. Cook until the water has boiled away and then uncover and reduce heat to medium or medium low. Let the dumplings cook for another 2 minutes then remove from heat and serve.

To freeze: Assemble dumplings on a baking sheet so they are not touching. It helps to rub the base of the dumpling in a little flour before setting on the baking sheet for ease of release. Freeze for 20-30 minutes until dumplings are no longer soft. Place in ziploc bag and freeze for up to a couple of months. Prepare per the above instructions, but allow extra time to ensure the filling is thoroughly cooked.

Barely a Recipe: Spring Greens with Roasted Beets and Goat Cheese

June 11, 2009

A funny thing happens to me (and I suspect many others) as summer rolls around.  As much as I love to cook, when the weather gets hot and the days get long, that love kind of fades and turns tepid, and all of a sudden, I’ve just lost the urge.  Now don’t get me wrong, I still think about food all the time.  During the day I dream up recipes, delude myself with notions of elaborate meals that I will somehow have the energy to prepare when I get home, and convince myself that yes, this cooking thing is really going to happen.  But day after day six o’clock rolls around and guess what?  I just don’t feel like it.  Sound familiar?

I’ve got a solution… for now, at least.  Make this salad.  It’s simple, but special enough to make you feel like you’ve done something nice for yourself.  It’s also incredibly healthy.  Beets are a nutritional goldmine- they’re loaded with vitamins A, B1, B2, B6 and C, and surprisingly, are higher in iron than spinach.  Take that Popeye!  They’re also naturally sweet, which means that you’ll be less likely to be craving something sugary for dessert later.

Now, as a pair, beets and goat cheese are nothing new.   Why?  Because they work perfectly together.  The tangy creaminess of the goat cheese is the perfect complement to the beets’ deep earthy sweetness.  And when you toss everything together, the juice from the beets mixes with some of the goat cheese to create a built-in dressing.  It couldn’t be simpler.

To make this salad even simpler to throw together, you can roast the beets the night before.  I like to throw them in the oven after dinner and pull them out before I go to bed.  That way, they practically make themselves!

Spring Greens with Roasted Beets and Goat Cheese

2 beets
1 tablespoon olive oil (for drizzling)
1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 -3 big handfuls salad greens, well washed and dried
2-3 ounces of chevre, or other goat cheese

1 tablespoon olive oil
squeeze of lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Start by making the beets (as I mentioned, I would highly suggest doing this the night before).  Preheat the oven to 400 (F).  Place the beets in a cast iron skillet (or even an oven-safe pot).  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Bake, covered loosely with alumninum foil, for 60-90 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork.  Remove from the oven and let cool completely before peeling (you should be able to remove the skin easily with your fingers).  Chop into 1/2 inch cubes.

For the salad:  In a bowl, combine the greens and the beets.  Crumble the goat cheese over the top.  At this point, you could really add any dressing, but I just like a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze or two of lemon, and some salt and freshly ground pepper.  Toss and serve.

June Top Tens: Blog Envy!

June 8, 2009


Hello there!  I’m so pleased about last month’s Top Tens event.  We started small, but all the entries were great and I got to make a bunch of new blogger friends.  For me, that’s a win-win situation!  For this month’s event, I’ve got a new challenge for you.  I hope this works, because I really like this idea.  Here goes:  Blog Envy:  Top Ten Recipes You’ve Been Meaning to Make. You know how it goes… you’re checking out blogs and you find an incredible recipe.  Maybe it’s the picture that grabs you, maybe it’s the way it’s described.  We all know that bloggers can be quite persuasive!  So what do you do with that recipe?  Well, of course, you add it to that long list of bookmarked recipes that end up just sitting there, waiting to be made.  Now, it’s sad for all those great recipes to just sit on a list, so let’s do something about it!

Here’s how it works:

  1. Pick out the top ten recipes (from blogs) that you’ve been meaning to make.  Make a list, with links.
  2. Pick one of these recipes to make!  Leave the blogger a comment letting them know that you love their recipe and are going to make it for this month’s Top Tens challenge. Provide a link to the challenge on my blog so they will know what you’re talking about!  For example:  “Hi (Deb, Ree, Helen..etc)!  I just love your recipe for (triple chocolate cake, ricotta gnocchi, beet salad, etc).  It’s on my list of the top ten recipes I’ve been meaning to make and I’ll be preparing it for this month’s Top Ten’s challenge on Food*Nerd!”
  3. Prepare the recipe (you can make any changes you like) and blog about it, including a picture.  In this post, also include your list of Top Ten recipes with links.  Link back to this post on my blog.  The link to the event is:
  4. Send an email to me at foodnerdblog [at] gmail [dot] com with your name, your blog’s URL, your Top Tens list, and a link to the post where you made one of your top ten recipes.
  5. The challenge will be running from now until June 30.  You can post any time between now and then.  Have fun!


May Top Tens, the Winner!

June 3, 2009


So I can’t believe that this has taken so long, but I’ve finally put together the roundup and picked a winner (by random draw). Here’s the list of all the entries. I enjoyed reading these so much.

Audrey’s Top Tens – Audrey has a new blog called Superfine Spot.  It’s only been a month and she’s already got a ton of posts!

Sarah’s Top Tens – Sarah’s blog is The Application of Heat. She’s a Daring Baker and has got some really exciting stuff going on.  Check out her triple chocolate pyramid!

Plutosangel’s Top Tens – Plutosangel’s blog is One of a Grind, and she’s got some really intriguing recipes and writing.

Sneh’s Top Tens – Sneh writes the wonderful Gel’s Kitchen, and is the host of a great event called No Time to Cook, which I’m co-hosting this month!

It was such a treat to read all of your memories.  I loved getting reminded of memories that I had forgotten about, and hearing about experiences that I never could have imagined.  You guys made my month!  So spread the word, I’ll be continuing this event each month, and I’d love to get more people involved!  Stay tuned for the next installment!

Oh, and how could I forget??  The winner!  This month’s winner is Audrey of Superfine Spot!  I’ll be contacting you about your prize 🙂