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Peas and Pearl Onions

This may very well be the shortest post. I love this combination and it may be the only thing that I consistently make from the freezer, although it is better (only just) fresh. Considering the amount of work to shuck the peas, I might actually prefer the frozen.

Ingredients

  • 16 oz Fresh or Frozen English Peas
  • 1 Handful Pearl Onions, Fresh or Frozen
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • Salt and Pepper

Tools

  • 1 Sauce Pan
  1. Heat the two together with the butter melting on top.
  2. Salt and Pepper to taste.

Sometimes good dishes are just that easy.

Potato Pancakes

I was going to write about food politics again today, but I thought that maybe we were all a little tired of politics of any sort. I will only say that the Farm Bill has still not passed congress and it is an important and far reaching bill that needs attention. Please write to your congress person and light a fire under them. They are being seriously irresponsible with YOUR tax dollars.

I have had many a potato pancake in my time. I have made several, ruined a few and been surprised at some of my so called expert friends who have no comprehension of how to make a proper one. I finally learned the secret and it turns out to be much more simple that one might think.

Ingredients

  • 4 Russet Potatoes
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 Egg
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Vegetable Oil for Frying

Tools

  • Coarse Grater
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Small Bowl
  • Clean Tea Towel
  • Spatula
  • Heavy Skillet
  • Paper Towels
  1. Coarsely grate the potatoes and onion into the bowl.
  2. Pour the contents into a clean tea towel.
  3. Pour the excess water out of the mixing bowl.
  4. Over the sink, squeeze as much of the water out of the potatoes as you can. This is the secret. Really wring it out.
  5. Place the dried potato mixture back in the bowl.
  6. Beat the egg and mix it in. If you do not have a large egg add another.
  7. Salt and pepper liberally.
  8. Pour about 1/4″ of vegetable oil in the bottom of a heavy skillet.
  9. Warm it over medium heat until a drop of water sizzles when sprinkled in.
  10. Form pancakes in your hand, 1/2″ thick at the very most.
  11. Drop three or four in the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan.
  12. Cook until brown on one side.
  13. Flip and brown on the other. Only turn once.
  14. Remove with a spatula or slotted spoon to paper towels to drain the oil.
  15. If you want to keep them warm, place on a cookie sheet in a 200 degree oven. My kids usually eat them before this happens, but I hear that it works just fine.
  16. Serve with apple sauce (homemade of course) and sour cream. A few fresh chives on top is always nice.

Lulu’s Tomato and Fennel Soup

I had a delightful surprise awaiting me when I arrived home tonight. My lovely wife had prepared an old staple comfort food with a bit of a twist (or two). It was delicious and perfect for a cold Monday night after a long first day back at work. Have I told you how lucky I am to be married to my lovely wife. She takes great care of me and knows better than anyone my strengths and weaknesses. Fortunately for me, she compliments my strengths and does not take advantage of my weaknesses. That is a sure sign of a good friend. I am blessed.

What she made were some lovely and simple grilled cheese bites and this rustic soup. There are two other tomato soup recipes here but this one was worth adding to the collection. After all, you can never have too many soup recipes.

Ingredients

  • 28 oz Can Tomato Puree (San Marzano)
  • 28 oz Can Whole Tomatoes (Also San Marzano)
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 3 Stalks Celery, chopped
  • 1 Fennel Bulb, chopped
  • 4 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 1/4 Cup Brandy (optional)
  • 1 Teaspoon Walnut Oil
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Basil, finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons Tarragon, finely chopped
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
  • Pinch of Turmeric
  • Pinch of Dried Oregano
  • 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Cream
  • Salt and Pepper

Tools

  • Large Pot
  • Chef’s Knife
  • Stick Blender, Blender or Food Processor
  1. In the bottom of a large pot melt the butter.
  2. Sauté the onion, celery and fennel until starting to soften, about 20 minutes.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients except the cream.
  4. Bring to simmer and let cook for about an hour.
  5. Blend to a coarse blend.
  6. Add cream and adjust seasonings.

Serve with a simple salad and/or grilled cheese.

Pad Thai

Yes, I have finished with Thanksgiving. Hooray!  My lovely wife and I have had it with turkey and are seriously contemplating lobster for next Thanksgiving. Just so you know, we had this same conversation last Thanksgiving. Controversies fade and traditions continue.

I promised this dish last week and here it is. My great friend and colleague, the late Michael Kamen, loved this Thai dish. There was a woman in a trailer on the Portobello Road in London that made an amazing version and Michael had to have it every Saturday. He would wander down from his house, dog on a lead, and any of the friends and family that happened to be at the house in tow. He lived very near the road and knew everyone in the stalls at the market. It was quite a memorable scene, from the man on the corner selling Fabrashay Eggs to the busker playing klezmer music. Michael knew them all and they all knew and loved him.

Michael would long for the Thai noodles when we were not in London and would go to extremes to avail himself of the spicy/tangy noodle dish even when it was less than convenient. On more than one occasion we would be in a London recording studio on a Saturday, miles from the lovely Thai lady in her trailer, but Michael would insist on either driving or commandeering a Black Cab for a cross-town, round trip journey to bring back trays full of Pad Thai while the orchestra was on lunch break. Often this adventure stretched painfully near the amount of time allotted. On one session, I remember the wafting of the pungent noodles filling the control room of Abbey Road to such an extent that we finally had to remove the detritse of the field trip.

In his memory and honor, I have recreated the dish to the best of my ability. It turns out not to be difficult at all. There are a few steps, so patience is needed, but the process is not at all tricky and even the ingredients are available at most markets.

I miss Michael every day. I hope you all enjoy the tribute.

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

  • 8 Oz. Thai Rice Noodles
  • 1/4 Cup Fish Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Palm or Raw Sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons Tamarind Paste
  • 1 Small Red or White Onion
  • 1 Cup Green Onions, sliced into 1/2″ pieces on the bias
  • 6 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 8-12 Oz. Chicken, Shrimp, Pork or Beef (optional)
  • 3 Eggs
  • Bean Sprouts
  • 1 Tablespoon Rice Wine Vinegar
  • Peanut or Vegetable Oil
  • Red Chili Flakes
  • 1/2 Cup Roasted Peanuts
  • Handful of Cilantro, chopped
  • 1 Lime, quartered

Tools

  • Small Sauce Pan
  • Large Pot
  • Large Colander
  • Large Sauté Pan or Wok
  • Chef’s Knife
  1. In a small sauce pan, combine the tamarind paste, fish sauce, 1/2 the garlic, sugar, and vinegar. Stir and simmer just until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside.
  2. Boil a pot full of water.
  3. Cook noodles in boiling water for about 3 minutes, until soft but still firm.
  4. Remove to colander and run under cold water to stop cooking.
  5. Add a couple of tablespoons peanut oil in the large pan and sauté the meat (if you choose to have some). The traditional dish is often served with both chicken and shrimp. I like it with a small amount of beef. Regardless, the amount of meat should be a condiment, not the main emphasis.
  6. When the meat is cooked, remove and set aside.
  7. Add a little more oil and sauté the rest of the garlic. Cook until fragrant, stirring to keep from burning.
  8. Add the onion and do the same.
  9. Add the noodles and combine.
  10. Pour the sauce over and thoroughly combine.
  11. Add back the meat.
  12. Move ingredients up the wok or to one side and add the eggs.
  13. Let the eggs cook for a minute until the start to firm up,
  14. Scramble then stir in.
  15. Add a handful of green onions and a handful of sprouts. Mix together and turn off heat.
  16. Serve in bowls with garnish of peanuts, remaining green onions, sprouts, cilantro and a wedge of lime.
  17. Sprinkle some chili flakes or thai chili paste, amount based on your desire for heat.

Turkey Quesadilla

Here is another Thanksgiving leftover suggestion. There is one ingredient that can vary this dish and that is the salsa. If you have the time and inclination, it’s fun to make variations and serve all three. You can make the traditional pico de gallo or my delicious green salsa. Another interesting and seasonal suggestion, and a great use of another leftover, is to create a salsa with your cranberry sauce.

Take a cup or so of cranberry sauce, add a tablespoon of mexican cocoa (or other good cocoa) and a finely minced ancho chile or jalapeño pepper. That will make a great sweet, hot and seasonal sauce.

Makes Four Quesadilla

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Shredded, Leftover Turkey
  • 8 Uncooked Tortillas (flour or corn)
  • 2 Avocado, sliced
  • 1 Cup Shredded Mild Cheddar, Jack or Mozzarella Cheese
  • Salsas (see above)
  • Cilantro
  • Sour Cream
  • Salt and Pepper

Tools

  • Non-Stick Pan
  • Chef’s Knife
  • Medium Grater
  • Spatula
  1. In a non-stick pan, cook one side of one tortilla briefly and remove.
  2. Cook one side of the other tortilla and flip.
  3. Sprinkle the cheese onto the tortilla and let melt briefly.
  4. Sprinkle the turkey over cheese and cover with other tortilla, cooked side down.
  5. Carefully flip after about a minute.
  6. Cook for another minute or two, until the cheese is all melted.
  7. Remove from heat and fold back half, add avocado and a spoonful of salsa. Repeat for other half.
  8. Repeat until all quesadillas are cooked.
  9. Slice into wedges and serve with a little more salsa, sour cream and chopped cilantro.

Turkey Hash

Here come the leftovers. Hopefully by now you have exhausted the 2nd helping, the turkey sandwich, and maybe even the traditional turkey pot pie. I have a chicken pot pie that one can substitute with turkey and enjoy if you are so inclined. I thought that we should get a little more adventurous with our leftover bird.

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Leftover Turkey, diced
  • 1 Onion, diced
  • 1 Turnip, peeled
  • 1 Large or 2 Medium Potatoes (your choice)
  • 1 Parsnip, peeled
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 Red Pepper, diced
  • 1 Teaspoon Fresh Sage, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Italian Parsley, finely chopped
  • Eggs (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper

Tools

  • Large Pan
  • Large Sauté Pan
  • Chef’s Knife
  1. Place the potatoes, turnips and parsnip in a large pan and fill it with water.
  2. Set to boil.
  3. Boil until they are soft but not mushy, about 10-20 minutes.
  4. Let cool.
  5. Dice the potatoes, turnip and parsnip.
  6. In a saute pan, melt the butter.
  7. Add the onions and red pepper and sauté for a few minutes.
  8. Add the potato mixture.
  9. Salt and pepper.
  10. Cook for about 10 minutes.
  11. Add the turkey and herbs and cook for another 10 minutes, until the mixture starts to brown.
  12. Fry one egg per serving and serve over top. Garnish with a little extra chopped parsley.