Trouble With Toast

Recipe: Warm Farro and Cranberry Bean Salad

March 15, 2011
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One of the sides I served with the olive-oil poached salmon was this warm farro and cranberry bean salad.  It is a REALLY hearty side dish – in fact, much like my go-to barley salad, this dish could easily be served as a main course.

I was surprised with how multidimensional this dish was.  The smoke of the bacon, the sweetness of the onions, the slightly bitter taste of the radicchio, and the meaty texture of the farro and beans all went really nicely together.  I couldn’t find fresh cranberry beans, so I used dried and modified my cooking times accordingly.

There is a lot to think about if you cook this dish at the same time as you are trying to prepare the salmon and the butternut squash mostarda, but if you read the recipes all the way through and plan things according to their time, attention, and cookware needs, you can have yourself a super-satisfying dinner.

  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups shelled fresh cranberry beans
  • 2 cups farro
  • 4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch lengths
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • Pinch crushed red pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 head radicchio Trevisano, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch lengths
  • 1 bunch fresh chives, finely chopped

Bring a saucepan of well salted water to a boil. Add the cranberry beans, let the water come back to a boil, and cook the beans for 10 to 12 minutes. Bite a few beans to make sure they are cooked through. Scoop the beans out of the water and reserve. Add the farro to the water, let the water come back to a boil, and cook for 15 minutes. Taste the farro to make sure it is cooked through. Remove the farro from the water and reserve.

Add the bacon to a large, wide pan, give a drizzle of olive oil, and bring to a medium heat. When the bacon has let out a lot of fat and starts to become crispy, add in the onions and season with salt and crushed red pepper. Cook the onions until they become soft and aromatic, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cooked beans and farro and stir to combine. Add the chicken stock and taste for seasoning; season with salt if needed. Cook until the chicken stock has reduced by about half, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the radicchio and chives and cook until the radicchio is wilted, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.


Recipe: Olive Oil Poached Salmon

March 14, 2011

Anne Burrell is one of my new favorite TV chefs.  I always liked watching her as Mario Batali’s sous on “Iron Chef America,” but I am so glad that she’s getting the spotlight all to herself now.  On her show, “Secrets of a Restaurant Chef,” she has such a contagious enthusiasm about food.  Oh, and the dishes she prepares?  They always look AMAZING.

So, when my parents were joining us for dinner recently, I decided to make up for “the burnt, sauce-less short rib disaster of 2011” and give some of Chef Burrell’s recipes a go.  While I was in California, I watched an episode where she poached salmon in olive oil – and my mom LOVES her some salmon.  As a show of confidence, I even splurged on some really choice salmon from Whole Foods.  I was going to honor the protein, gosh darnit.

It turns out that olive oil poaching is the easiest and most delicious thing EVER.  Seriously, the fish was like buttah.  The little satchet of herbs was pretty subtle in terms of the flavor it imparted on the salmon, but it still tasted delicious and had wonderful texture.

I’ll post recipes for the two side dishes later (warm farro and cranberry bean salad and butternut squash mostarda), but I would definitely recommend this meal.  And I am definitely a member of Team Anne – I hope she cleans up on “Chopped: All-Stars.”   

  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 small bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 lemon, peel removed in wide strips with a veggie peeler
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 quart extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets
  • Kosher salt

Place the aromatics (the garlic, thyme, lemon zest, coriander, and bay leaves) in cheesecloth. Tie into a sachet. Add the oil to a large straight-sided saute pan and toss in the sachet. Bring the pan to a medium heat and let simmer for 15 minutes.

Let the salmon come to room temperature and season generously with salt. Add the salmon fillets to the pan with the olive oil. Let the fish cook in the oil for 15 to 17 minutes. Remove from the oil with a fish spatula to a plate before serving

Recipe: Fried Rice with Scallions and Edamame

August 19, 2009
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Like any self-respecting Jewess, I love me some Chinese food.  Egg rolls, hot and sour soup, lo mein, General Tso, Americanized or spicy authentic Szechuan, I crave it all.  Unfortunately, the Chinese delivery options near us are either WAY too pricy or just plain terrible.  Also, delivery Chinese isn’t exactly known for being a beacon of goodness, nutritionally speaking.

The last time I made fried rice, it was in 6th grade home ec class.  I’m happy to report, it’s just as simple now as it was then, but it’s HEALTHIER!  I adapted this recipe (which originally came from Ellie Krieger) to suit my on-hand ingredients, and it worked beautifully both the night that I made it AND for leftover lunches.  I par-cooked the chicken on the indoor grill pan first, then cubed it, then finished it in the wok with the garlic and ginger.  You could easily substitute tofu (actually, that’s what the original recipe calls for) or another protein of your choice, and you could play around with the veggies (try peas for edamame, or add mushrooms, or throw in some water chestnuts).  To make this dish even healthier, use Egg Beaters instead of the real deal.  Enjoy!

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon canola oil, divided
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 scallions, rinsed, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 4 cups leftover cooked rice (mine was a mix of brown and jasmine) 
  • 3/4 cup finely diced red pepper
  • 3/4 cup cooked, shelled edamame
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen, thawed, corn
  • 1 chicken breast. par-cooked and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok or large skillet until very hot. Add the garlic, scallions and ginger and cook, stirring, until softened and aromatic, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rice, red pepper, edamame, and corn and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Make a 3-inch well in the center of the rice mixture. Add 1 teaspoon of canola oil, then add the eggs and cook until nearly fully scrambled. Stir the eggs into the rice mixture, then add soy sauce and incorporate thoroughly. Serve hot.

    Recipe: Garlic Basil Shrimp

    August 18, 2009

    While my fiance and I may disagree on fish–how often to eat it, whether to eat the skin, whether to serve it whole, et cetera–we can usually agree on shellfish.  We both love shrimp, which is convenient while dieting because it is a fairly healthy protein (it IS somewhat high in cholesterol, but we are fortunate that we don’t have problems in that area).  This shrimpy recipe called out to me because of its relatively short (and staple-centric) ingredient list and its quick preparation.  Perfect for a weeknight dinner!

    If you are trying to cook on a budget, I highly recommend scanning the supermarket sale fliers and grabbing bags of frozen shrimp when they are on sale.  The ones in the fish case are usually previously frozen anyway (unless you happen to live by the water and/or have a VERY good fishmonger), so you might as well save some money, right?

    As for what to serve with this dish, I went with orzo and it worked nicely.  You could use any sort of pasta you like, or you could go with the rice family of carbohydrates.  Even couscous would work, I think.  The key is, don’t pick a starch (or a side veggie, for that matter) that is going to overpower the beautiful fresh flavors of the basil and the tomatoes and the garlic.  They are the stars of this show!

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds large shrimp (20 to 25 per pound), peeled and deveined
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then saute shrimp, turning over once, until just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a large bowl.

    Add garlic and red pepper flakes to the oil remaining in skillet and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add wine and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Stir in basil and tomatoes and season the sauce with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Return the shrimp to pan and cook just until heated through.

    Garlic basil shrimp

    Recipe: Grapefruit Cake with Grapefruit Cream Cheese Frosting

    March 25, 2009

    One morning during Lexa’s visit, we were all sitting around the TV (hungover from burgers and microbrews) making fun of Paula Deen.  The mocking was in love, I believe, but nothing was off limits–her exaggerated southern accent, her undying love of butter, her inability to make anything even remotely healthy, and her fuax-genteel sign-off tagline.  Suddenly, all of the jokes at Paula’s expense stopped, as she told us she was going to make a beautiful grapefruit cake.  We were intrigued and silenced.

    The recipe didn’t look too difficult, so we headed out to get ingredients at the only place you CAN get ingredients when you have an out-of-towner in tow: the Dekalb Farmers Market.  Actually, the official name for this magical place is “Your Dekalb Farmers Market” (YDFM), just to give it a more friendly community feel.  If you’re from DC, don’t think it’s a farmer’s market in the same way that Dupont or Eastern Market are farmers markets.  YDFM is more like a warehouse of culinary goodies from across the globe.  They don’t allow cameras inside, but if you were to see photos, you’d probably have the same adorable wide-eyed expression as Lexa.

    We made our way through the little snack shop (shock, we were hungry) for a quick homemade veggie samosa and some steamed broccoli.  We walked through the extensive dairy and meat selections.  We stopped at the seafood counter to procure giant shrimp, and we both lamented that we needed to buy a whole fish and learn how to take it apart.  We saw countless spices, pastas, legumes, flours (I swear, they have 15 different kinds), and baked goods.  The real kicker is the produce section, where they have every weirdo recipe ingredient that you never thought you could find, plus the “normal” stuff, at ridiculously low prices.  The market is pretty overwhelming in size and scope, and it was crowded on the Sunday we visited, so we only did one brief pass.  However, if you’re in Atlanta and you have some time, YDFM is definitely an interesting sight to explore.

    With the grapefruits I purchased at YDFM, I made Paula’s cake.  It actually turned out very well, though it benefited (in flavor and texture) from sitting for a day before eating.  I tempted fate by making a meringue-based cake on a humid, rainy day, and it didn’t bit me in the ass TOO much, but I can’t help but wonder if it would have turned out even better had it been dry outside.  The cake itself is citrusy and slightly sweet, and I think it would have been delicious on its own as a pound cake, maybe just dusted with a little powdered sugar.  My only issue with the icing was that it wasn’t quite thick enough for my liking, but it had a wonderful tangy flavor.  Make sure you have a large serrated knife before cutting the cake in half for layering, or you’ll end up with a crumbly mess.  I don’t have any special cake decorating tools (I just used my knife and a stationary cake stand), and this still ended up as the prettiest dessert I’ve ever created.  Not sure what that says about me, but enjoy!

    • 1 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons bakingpowder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
    • 1/2 teaspoon grapefruit zest
    • 3 tablespoons grapefruit juice
    • 3 egg yolks
    • 3 eggs whites
    • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

    Preheat oven at 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch cake pan with nonstick oil.

    Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center for dry ingredients. Add water, oil, zest, grapefruit juice and egg yolks. Beat until smooth. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar separately until whites are stiff but not dry. Gradually fold egg whites into flour mixture with a rubber spatula until just blended. Do not stir the mixture.

    Pour batter into prepared cake pan.

    Bake for 25 minutes or until cake springs back when gently touched with a finger. Invert pan on cake rack to cool. Run spatula around edge of cake. Carefully remove from pan. With a serrated knife, gently cut layer in half.

    • 2 (6-ounce) packages cream cheese
    • 2 teaspoons grapefruit juice
    • 1 teaspoon grapefruit zest
    • 3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
    • Grapefruit sections, drained

    Let cream cheese soften to room temperature. Beat cheese until fluffy. Add grapefruit juice and zest. Gradually blend in sugar. Mix until well blended. Crush several grapefruit sections to measure 2 teaspoons.

    Blend into frosting. Spread frosting on bottom half of cake. Top with several grapefruit sections. Cover with second layer of cake. Frost top and sides. Garnish with remaining grapefruit sections.


    Recipe: Tomato Tortilla Soup

    March 24, 2009

    Okay, let’s move from burgers to healthier fare.  Although true soup season is down the drain (at least here in Atlanta), I saw Elie Krieger preparing this recipe on her show over the weekend, and I decided to give it a try.  It just looked so easy, and I’m always a hit when I incorporate Southwestern flavors into my cooking (fiance spent a good bit of time stationed in San Antonio).

    I adapted the recipe a bit, and it turned out pretty well.  I would have liked it a bit thicker, so next time I may add some beans (I suppose cornstarch would also do the trick, but I always feel like that mucks up the flavor).  Jason would have liked more spice, so I may also sub out the jalapeno for a serrano or other slightly hotter pepper.  Oh, and I overcooked the tortilla strips, so I’ll try to NOT do that when I make this again.  Otherwise, I was quite pleased with the results, and it was nice to have a light (but satisfying) dinner for a change.  You could certainly add some pulled chicken or pork if you wanted to give this soup a protein kick.  Enjoy!

    • 2 (6-inch) corn tortillas
    • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon canola oil
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 small onion, chopped
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 4 cups chicken stock (homemade, of course)
    • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans no salt added diced tomatoes, with juice
    • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
    • Reduced-fat sour cream

    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

    Brush both sides of each tortilla with oil, using 1 tablespoon of the oil. Cut the tortillas in half, then cut each half into 1/4-inch wide strips. Arrange the strips on a baking sheet, sprinkle with the salt, and bake until crisp and golden, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

    Heat the remaining 1 teaspoons of oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic, jalapeno, cumin, and oregano and cook for 1 minute more. Add the broth and tomatoes, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes. Stir in lime juice.

    Serve the soup topped with the tortilla strips, a dollop of sour cream, and a sprinkle of cilantro.


    Recipe: Falafel

    October 17, 2008

    After a burgerrific get-together with one of my favorite DC bloggers at the Vortex on Tuesday night (post and pics to follow shortly), I decided that Wednesday’s dinner should be of the vegetarian variety.  I also really wanted to use my Cool Daddy deep fryer, which was a housewarming present from my parents and had been collecting dust in the cabinet since early summer.  Hey, I never said I wanted to make a HEALTHY vegetarian meal.

    Falafel was the obvious choice, and it really hit the spot.  The deep fryer worked well, but it would have worked even better if I had allowed the chickpea mixture to chill for 3-4 hours instead of 30-40 minutes.  You could certainly fry the falafel in a pan with oil, too, though I might suggest investing in a splatter guard (ANY moisture in the falafel will result in a little spitting).  In any case, this was an easy and affordable meal that gave my body a much-needed break from meat.  Hope you enjoy!

    • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and patted dry
    • 1/2 small onion, roughly chopped (about 1/2 cup)
    • 2 cloves garlic
    • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • Canola oil, for frying

    Combine all falafel ingredients expect oil in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse mixture until coarsely ground. Transfer to a bowl or container and refrigerate, covered, for several hours.  Form the falafel mixture into balls about the size of walnuts and press to flatten.  Heat 4 inches of oil to 375 degrees F in a deep pot or deep fryer. Fry about 6 balls at once for about 4 minutes, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Stuff pitas with falafel balls, chopped tomatoes, lettuce, and tahini.

    Recipe: Tortilla with Chorizo

    October 15, 2008
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    NOTE: Before you attempt this recipe, make absolutely certain that you have an OVEN-SAFE 12-inch skillet.  Disaster will result and familial relations may be severely jeopardized if you do not heed this advice.

    Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration.  But when I volunteered to make this breakfast while at my parents’ mountain vacation home last weekend, I assumed that I would have the proper tools to cook with.  And we all know what happens when you assume.

    After giving my mom a hard time and beating myself up a bit, I did manage to salvage the idea of this dish.  The flavors are all there, and it is incredibly hearty, but you really need to finish it in the oven to get that great frittata/tortilla browning while cooking the middle of the eggs and not burning the bottom.  I would also note, I cubed the potatoes pretty roughly, and I might suggest dicing them a little smaller.  Otherwise, as long as you’ve got a pan that can handle the heat, get in the kitchen and make this dish!

    • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
    • 1 red pepper, roughly chopped
    • 1 (7-ounce) package pre-cooked chorizo, thinly sliced
    • 1/2 pound red potatoes, cubed, boiled until tender and drained
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus 1 pinch
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 12 eggs

    Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

    Heat canola oil in a 12-inch nonstick or cast iron saute pan over medium high heat. Add onions and peppers, cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add chorizo, potatoes, garlic, and cilantro stirring carefully as to not break up the potatoes, cook 1 more minute. Season with salt and pepper.

    In a large bowl whisk eggs with a pinch of salt until well blended. Add eggs to the pan with the chorizo mixture. Stir gently with a heatproof spatula, allowing the bottom to cook, pulling away at the sides to allow the egg on top to run underneath as if cooking an omelet.

    When eggs are mostly set but still a little runny place pan in oven for about 5 minutes until set and slightly puffed and brown on top.

    Remove from oven. Cut into wedges. Serve warm or at room temperature.