Archive for the ‘Green Board’ Category

Quick and Easy Sunday Afternoon Snack (with Wine): Cheese Toasties

12 June 2011

This is the first in our brand spanking new Quick and Easy Sunday Afternoon Snack series. Every recipe we post with the Quick and Easy tag must possess three primary characteristics: (1) it has to be quick to make with minimal prep work; (2) it has to be easy, as in “you could do this tipsy,” to throw together; and (3) it has to provide a decent cover story for having a couple glasses of wine on a Sunday afternoon. See, if you are eating something and it absolutely begs for wine, then you are obligated to pour yourself a glass, and you definitely aren’t a lush. Just don’t make any of these for breakfast and you’ll be fine.

As an added bonus, the snacks in this series will be a good way to introduce kids, or slightly less than adventurous adults, to progressively more sophisticated tastes, without scaring the bejeezus out them in the process. The dishes themselves should look familiar and classic enough to transport them to a place where they’re comfortable enough to try something new and unexpected. This week’s edition introduces Dijon mustard, tarragon, and some non-crappy cheese to the classic open-faced toasted cheese sandwich. For four mini-sandwiches (call them Cheese Toasties if you want), you will need:

Cheese Toasties ... Dijon, tarragon, scamorza, and black pepper on Challah rolls

Cheese Toasties ... Dijon, tarragon, scamorza, and black pepper on Challah rolls

  • 2 English muffins, Challah rolls, Hawaiian or Honey Wheat rolls, or 2 slices of regular sandwich bread (sliced kitty korner)
  • butter
  • Dijon mustard
  • the leaves from a sprig of tarragon, finely minced
  • decent cheese that melts easily, enough to cover the bread, such as scamorza, mozzarella, or even Gruyère, grated or thinly sliced
  • a few pinches freshly ground pepper
  1. Slice the rolls in half, like a hamburger bun, and butter the top side. Smear some Dijon over the butter, top with the cheese, and sprinkle some tarragon over the cheese.
  2. Place in a toaster oven and toast, or under a broiler, until the cheese is melted and gooey. Top each one with a sprinkle of freshly ground pepper. You likely won’t need salt if you use scamorza or mozzarella, but season gently with salt if they need some.

Told  you it was easy. For wine, I’d go with something with enough acid to cut the fat in the cheese and butter and hold up to the Dijon, which, depending on the type you use, can be quite assertive. A New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc would do nicely, as would a Chablis if you prefer Chardonnay. For reds, I would stick with the lighter side, such as an Oregon Pinot Noir. Of course, I need not mention how well good cheese goes with beer. My favorite right now is Goose Island’s Matilda, and it happens to pair with this snack wonderfully.

 

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Basic Bread Pudding

16 May 2011

A few weeks ago, we had the pleasure of making a chocolate-banana bread based on a Gordon Ramsey recipe. It was delicious, but since we don’t really have all that much of a sweet tooth, and the chocolate pushed it into that realm, we had leftovers. Rather than let them go to waste, we turned the bread into a classic bread pudding, and loved the results. Sorry, it didn’t last long enough to take a picture. 😉

Other than something to cook it in (a loaf pan, silicone mold, an old hub cap, a muffin tray, etc.), you’ll need:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 (chicken) eggs … we use a lot of duck eggs here, but this calls for chicken
  • 1/2 cup decent honey … buy this at a farmer’s market for half the price and 3 times the flavor of one you would pick up at a grocery store
  • 4 “slices” banana bread, brioche, or just plain good old bread bread … 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick.
  • butter (unsalted, naturally)

The method couldn’t be easier:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Gently warm the milk in a pan. When it’s tepid, take it off heat and add the honey. Stir to dissolve the honey in the milk.
  3. Pour the milk-honey mixture (Biblical references aside) into a bowl and beat in the eggs.
  4. Generously (is there any other way) butter each slice of bread on one side and then cut the slices into cubes.
  5. Butter your baking dish, and toss in the cubes … don’t stack them, just toss them in there.
  6. Pour the egg-milk-honey mixture over the cubes to cover. You may have too much of this, in which case, let the thing settle and the bread soak up some of the liquid, and then top off with more of the mixture.
  7. When the oven is good and hot, bake the soon-to-be-pudding for an hour or so. You’ll know it’s done when the mixture sets and the top browns. If it stays gooey, remember to use less egg-milk-honey next time. 😉 Trust us, it will still taste awesome even if you have to eat it with a spoon, so there will be a next time.
  8. Remove for the oven and sample some. Sample some more. Now, show some discipline and cool it for an hour or so at room temperature, and then in the fridge. It’s better the next day.

The quality of your final product depends on the texture, density, and quality of the bread and the ratio of bread to liquid. Try it a few times and you’ll develop your own favorite technique. You won’t need to top this with anything, but whipped cream, caramel, and berries are all good options if you’re so inclined.

We’ll have a fun announcement later this week to make Humboldt Kitchen better, so stay tuned.

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Monday Green Board: Tomato Mushroom Soup

21 February 2011

First, an announcement … Sunday Green Board is hereby known as Monday Green Board. First reason is that Sundays are getting too busy for me right now to both prepare a special vegetarian dish and then get it into a post that evening. The next reason is to align with the current Meatless Mondays movement. I may not agree with them on some things, but I’m all for health, and people eating more vegetables is a good thing.

This week we have another damned soup, and to be honest I feel slightly upset about it, but it’s what I came up with yesterday so that’s what we’re working with. If you are sensing a theme right now, and you think that theme may have something to do with winter comfort food with Italian-American influences, then you would be right. Bring on Spring already, we’ve suffered enough.

Exhibit A: this week’s Tomato Mushroom Soup. You will need:

Tomato Mushroom Soup

Tomato Mushroom Soup

  • sea or kosher salt, freshly cracked pepper, and good extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons butter
  • at least two dozen crimini mushrooms, the larger ones sliced thick (~1/2 inch)
  • six sprigs fresh thyme, substituting dried if you need to
  • medium sized zucchini, peel and diced, seeded if necessary
  • 1/2 yellow onion, roughly diced
  • 1 T fresh oregano, substituting dried if you need to (reduce the amount accordingly)
  • 1/3 cup good quality port
  • 28 ounce can San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes … the Italian ones, not the American ones named San Marzano, unless that’s all you have … crushed by hand, with the basil leaf removed, and WITH the juice
  • flat leaf parsley and freshly grated pecorino romano or parmesan

The preparation this week takes place in two stages: first we cook the mushrooms so they retain their shape and texture, and then we cook the stuff that makes the soup, adding the mushrooms back at the end right before garnishing. Another thing to note is that this soup doesn’t require stock, which is a nice time saver when you’ve used your reserves and won’t make more until the weekend.

  1. Heat the butter and a tablespoon of oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. When hot, add the thyme sprigs and mushrooms, toss, and cook for around 4 minutes, until the mushrooms have released some liquid and have shrunken a bit. You want them to remain meaty.
  2. Remove the mushrooms and stash away in a bowl. Add the onions and zucchini and continue to cook, stirring occasionally. If you need to add more oil, do so.
  3. After around four minutes, remove the thyme stalks. Many of the thyme leaves will have come off — this is what you want, just remove the woody bits. Add the oregano and continue to cook.
  4. About 8 to 10 minutes later, when the onion and zucchini start to brown, deglaze the pan with the port, transfer the entire thing to a stock pot, and return to the heat.
  5. Add the tomatoes (and juice) and one can (the same San Marzano can) of water. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. Using a stick blender, food processor, or regular blender, working in batches of you need to, turn the contents of the pot into soup. The texture can be a bit rustic, you just don’t want any chunks of zucchini or tomato left over.
  7. Turn off the burner, and season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. A splash of hot sauce wouldn’t hurt here, just don’t go overboard, this is about earth, not heat.
  8. Return the mushrooms to the soup. The residual heat will bring them back to temperature.
  9. Dish the soup into bowls and garnish with the parsley and cheese. Drizzle olive oil over the top and serve with some good crusty bread. If you feel luxurious, use truffle oil.

You should have enough for four people, and this keeps quite well in the fridge. Enjoy, and share your hints and tips no Twitter, Facebook, or here on the web site.

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Mojo Rojo

15 February 2011

OK, I owe you a Sunday Green Board. This will have to do for now. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Today’s treat was inspired by two things: a random memory of an old friend now living in Lanzarote (Hiya Joe!!!) and the opportunity for cheap, cheap airfare to Barcelona. It’s a wonderfully piquant sauce / condiment called either mojo picon or mojo rojo — essentially a vinaigrette flavored with garlic and chile peppers, similar in nature to a romesco sauce.

Whether you call it picon or rojo depends upon on the heat of the peppers you use … more heat means picon, less means rojo. I like to use dried pasilla chiles; they’re spicy, but not overwhelming, and their pleasant smokiness underscores the paprika, so mine’s a mojo rojo. If I used something with more heat, I’d call it mojo picon. It doesn’t really matter; there are dozens and dozens of extremely similar sauces out there, and in the end, what you call it is an order of magnitude less important than how it tastes.

We use the mojo rojo on boiled potatoes here (papas arrugadas to be precise), but it’s awesome on random veggies and meats, and absolutely stunning on scrambled eggs. Use it anywhere that needs a punch of spice without the overwhelming heat of a hot sauce. For something slightly more sophisticated, substitute it for Frank’s RedHot when you make Buffalo wings.

Mojo Rojo

Mojo Rojo on papas arrugadas with seared flank steak ... what a crappy picture, eh?

  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled (and degermed if needed)
  • 3 pasilla chiles, rehydrated, stems removed, or any other dried chile peppers you may like
  • 1 teaspoon good paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar, the best you can get
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, the best you can get, again
  1. Boil some water in a kettle or pot, remove from heat, and add the chile peppers. Cover with a pot or bowl to keep them submerged, and steep for 45 minutes or more to rehydrate them. After they’ve steeped, cut out the stems and scrape out most of the seeds.
  2. Combine everything but the olive oil into a food processor or blender and pulverize into a paste. If you’re using a food processor, drizzle in the oil while pulsing to form an emulsion, as you would with a mayonnaise or vinaigrette. If using a blender, add the oil and emulsify.
  3. Taste, adjust the salt content, and savor.

Refrigerate the unused portion, but bring to room temperature before serving.

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Sunday Green Board: Pasta with Veggie Marinara

06 February 2011

Yeah, I know, it’s a cop out. It’s pasta in marinara sauce with some veggies thrown in … but that doesn’t mean it isn’t awesome, and when the clouds are hanging heavy and the streets are covered with an inch of salt and three inches of slush, it can really hit the spot and help you forget about all that.

Basic Pasta w/ veggie loaded marinara

Farfalle in Marinara with Seitan, Crimini Mushrooms, Onions, and Basil

Forgive the picture, it doesn’t do it justice.

The exact amounts you need will depend on how much you want to make, but you’ll have to collect the following:

  • a basic marinara sauce, like we talked about in part one of the Italian Wonton post; we used about two cups
  • some chopped onion; we used half of a medium-sized yellow onion
  • around 4 ounces of ground beef-style seitan; we used Upton’s Naturals, but substitute anything you want, even real meat if you aren’t committed to the idea of the Sunday Green Board, or just like it better that way
  • some crimini or other tasty mushrooms, cleaned and thickly sliced, equal in volume to the amount of onion you are using; we used 8 baby bellas
  • some olives, about 1/2 the amount of the mushrooms; we used 8 pitted kalamata olives
  • fresh basil and freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese to taste; we used a dozen basil leaves and a good 12 tablespoons of cheese
  • your favorite dried pasta, or at least something you have in the cupboard already; we used around a pound or so of farfalle from Trader Joe’s. It would have been better using fresh pasta, but we were lazy today … it is Sunday, after all.
  • a bigger pot than you think you need, 2/3 full of boiling, salted water
  • sea or kosher salt, freshly ground black or white pepper, and decent olive oil

On to the business …

  1. Get that water going in the big pot … the more water, the better. Salt it so it tastes salty like the ocean, but not briny like something you would see in a grade school chemistry experiment.
  2. Heat some olive oil in a sauce pan over a medium flame. When the oil is hot, add the onions, reduce the heat a bit, and sweat them for a couple minutes. Add the seitan, mushrooms, and olives. Cook, stirring occasionally, so that everything heats evenly.
  3. When the onions are soft, add the marinara, stir, and cover. Continue heating, stirring every so often. Taste and then adjust the seasoning if you need to, but keep in mind that with the olives, you likely won’t need any more salt.
  4. After around 20 minutes, drop the pasta into the boiling water and hit it with a splash of olive oil to help reduce the odds of an over boil.
  5. When the pasta is cooked al dente (read the label but usually between 8 and 12 minutes), remove the pot from the heat and drain, allowing the pasta to dry for a few minutes in the colander or strainer before returning it to the empty and now dry pot. Hit it with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and stir if it’s sticking together.
  6. We’re serving 1970’s Italian-American style, so for each serving, plate a cup or so of pasta (more or less depending on whether it’s a starter or a main course) onto a warm plate, spoon over some of the veggie marinara, and top with torn or chopped basil and some grated cheese. Pour a chianti or some other rustic, tomato-loving red wine to keep it company.

Note: If you have a red checkered tablecloth, now is the time to break it out.

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Sunday Green Board: Seitan Tacos

30 January 2011

Every Sunday, or as often as we can, we’ll be posting what we call the Sunday Green Board. The “Sunday” part is obvious, that’s when we publish the post. The “Green Board” refers to the fact the whole dish can be prepared on a green, as opposed to a red, cutting board … meaning there is no meat involved … as in vegetarian … as in, for those of you who know any of us personally, pure lunacy. Hell, we would put sausage on our corn flakes if we could get away with it, and one of our favorite vinaigrettes replaces the olive oil with bacon grease.

Anyway, back to red versus green … we can get a little forgetful in a busy kitchen, or after a few glasses of wine, and in order to prevent cross-contamination, along with the unpleasant and possibly dangerous consequences, we prep meats on a red cutting board, and fruits and veg on a green board.

Red Board = any raw flesh

Green Board = CLEANED fruits and vegetables

You may laugh, but you haven’t tried cooking after one of our martinis … so we use this simple visual cue to help avoid food poisoning, and lawsuits for that matter, so long as we remember to keep our hands clean and utensils and knives from crossing the red-green divide.

Side Note, AKA the Rant … if I see one more commercial of people cooking crap and taking the damn spoon they just used to taste their crap out of their, or their friend’s, or some kid’s, mouth, and immediately returning it to whatever pot they are cooking their crap in and resume stirring, I am going to throw a brick through the television. Seriously, start counting how any of these you see. Same damn reason I won’t eat birthday cake once you let someone spit all over it, ummm, I mean, blow out the damn candles.

Ahhhh, that’s better. Back to the Sunday Green Board … Seitan Tacos!

Seitan Tacos

Taco with Upton's Naturals chorizo-style seitan, onions, and red peppers, spiked with a Sriracha-cilantro cream

If you use the normal 6-inch corn tortillas, the following ingredients will get you about 5 tacos … more or less depending on how much filling you use, and of course everyone knows that the size of your tortillas matters.

  • corn tortillas, or if you prefer, flour tortillas, pita bread, naan, lavash, whatever you like; hell, you could put this on a bun and it’d be awesome.
  • 1 medium-sized yellow onion, sliced into quarter moons (cut 1/4″ wide rings, then cut the rings into three or four equal-sized pieces)
  • 1 medium-sized red pepper; cored, seeded, and sliced into 2 inch long, 1/4″ wide strips
  • 4 ounces of Upton’s Naturals (or similar brand) chorizo-style seitan … if you can’t get this, you can season your own seitan accordingly; start with some powdered ancho and chipotle, hot paprika, garlic, oregano, black pepper, salt, and maybe a little vinegar. Alternatively, you can just use actual Mexican chorizo, but it won’t be a green board dish.
  • kosher or sea salt and fresh black pepper
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt, crème fraiche, sour cream, or crema fresca
  • a little bit of heavy cream (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • Sriracha or other spicy (NOT JUST HOT) chili-based sauce
  • a lime or two and some more chopped cilantro to garnish

Once you get your ingredients together and prepped, you can start on the dish.

  1. Mix together the yogurt and the 2 tablespoons of cilantro, and adjust the consistency with some heavy cream until it’s liquid enough to drizzle. Add a pinch of salt and stir.
  2. Add Sriracha to taste … start with a few drops, stir, taste, and adjust. Note: we like to puree the sauce in a blender or food processor to get a smooth, consistent texture. You can, though, just mix it by hand so long as you finely chop the cilantro — it’ll just look more rustic, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
  3. Heat a neutral oil in a pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions and peppers and cook until the onions are translucent and just starting to caramelize.
  4. While the onions and peppers are cooking, prepare your tortillas whatever way you like — over a flame, in a hot pan, or in a microwave or toaster oven. Keep them warm and soft.
  5. When the onions are starting to turn golden, add the seitan and continue to cook, stirring occasionally. When the seitan is warm, taste and adjust the salt and pepper accordingly.
  6. When the seitan mixture is hot, taste and adjust the seasoning one last time, and then remove the pan from the heat.
  7. Lay out your tortillas on a flat surface … like a CLEAN green board, maybe?
  8. Drizzle each tortilla a with a splash of the Sriracha-cilantro cream, top with a few spoonfuls of the seitan, peppers, and onion mixture, and garnish with a pinch of chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime.
  9. Roll or fold the tortillas, plate, and serve with some of the leftover Sriracha-cilantro cream and some more hot sauce.

Enjoy, and send us your pics, substitutions, and questions!

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