whiskey-braised leeks and kohlrabi mash

One of the best things my mom ever taught me was how to braise leeks. And now I’m sharing her secret to leek perfection, because no one should have to go through life without eating these! While I’m at it, I’m throwing in how to make the kohlrabi mash we had tonight to accompany the braised leeks and seared scallops.

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Our whole meal tonight came from the Park Slope Sunday farmer’s market. I love shopping at the farmer’s market whenever possible, not just to support the local farmers but the food tastes so much better too. Leeks, especially when fresh from the farmer’s market, are notoriously full of soil, so washing them well is a key first step. Cut off the bottom and very top (about an inch and a half of the darkest green) and then slice open lengthwise. Then cut each half stalk into about three sections, and rinse well under cold running water, fanning out the layers. Finally soak the leeks in a bowl of cool water for about 15 minutes, swishing them around a few times to release any more soil, and then give them once last rinse. After draining, chop the stalks into about 1/2 inch slices. In a large pan, melt 1 tbsp butter and 1-2 tbsp olive oil and add the chopped leeks. Saute for about 2 minutes on medium-high heat, add about 1/8 of a chicken or vegetable bouillon cube, and then start gradually adding very small amounts of water. The water will boil off quickly; add a little more as soon as the pan looks dry. Keep doing this for about 10 minutes, or until the leeks are soft, stirring as you add the water. When the leeks are soft, add about 1 – 1.5 ounces of whiskey, stir, and let simmer for about 5 more minutes. At the end, add fresh pepper, a little salt if needed, and a generous squeeze of lemon juice.

For the kohlrabi (we used purple kohlrabi tonight, but the green/white and purple both taste the same), remove the leaves (you can use these in another dish, stir fried or steamed), and peel off the tough outer peel. At this point I usually slice off a few little pieces to eat raw because it’s so tasty, and then cut the bulbs into quarters, and boil them in lightly salted water for about 30 minutes. When soft, add about 1/4 milk, 1 tbsp butter, 1 tbsp olive oil, and puree with a hand blender or food processor. Add salt and pepper to taste. And in case you’re wondering, there is no real recipe for the seared scallops. My husband is usually in charge of the scallops, and he just dries them well, seasons with salt and pepper, and sears them for about 2 minutes on each side in very hot mixture of coconut oil and butter. They key to the beautiful golden color is to not move them around in the pan while searing!

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watermelon gazpacho

Yes, once again it has been months since I’ve posted a recipe. Insert excuses here: full time dietetic internship + planning a wedding…. yadda yadda yadda. However, the light at the end of the tunnel is visible! And that means (hopefully) lots more recipes come September.

Summer is upon us (technically as of this coming Saturday) and tonight is particularly muggy and gross in my lovely NYC. When hot weather hits, I love a good gazpacho. Last month when the first really hot night happened, I made a white gazpacho, which was cucumber and almond based. There’s a great coffee shop/sandwich place in our neighborhood that has been touting its watermelon gazpacho on a chalkboard outside, and every time we walk by, we go “mmmmm, we should make that.” So tonight, I did!

photo 1I used a Tyler Florence recipe to get a sense of what the general proportions should be, and then blended away. It’s super simple:

  • about 2 medium plum tomatoes
  • 2-2 1/2 cups fresh watermelon, cubed
  • 1/2 cucumber (seeded if you use a regular cucumber; you don’t really have to seed it if you use an English cucumber – the long skinny ones)
  • 1/2 a red onion
  • 1 jalapeno or serrano chile (2 if you love it spicy like I do)
  • a small handful of fresh dill
  • 1/4-1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

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Roughly chop your ingredients and toss everything in a food processor or blender, setting aside about 1/3-1/2 the watermelon first. Add more of various ingredients to taste (I added more salt, jalapeno, and vinegar after the first blend). Serve in chilled bowls, garnished with feta cheese and dill!

As an aside, NewYork-Presbyterian, the hospital at which I do my dietetic internship, has an Herb of the Month program – and dill just happens to be the June Herb of the Month!


squash & sweet potato tagine

Fall veggies – I could eat them all year long. Sometimes I think if everything contained butternut squash, the world would be a better place (the fact that trying to chop a butternut squash almost cost me a finger once doesn’t deter me). It just tastes like hearty sweet nutritious comforting perfection to me. So when we got butternut squash, acorn squash, and sweet potatoes in our CSA bag this week, I was really excited to get cooking! I came across this recipe for a vegetable tagine, which didn’t include acorn squash but I figured I could throw it in anyway. I also didn’t have a tagine, which is sort of a traditional Moroccan clay pot, or a dutch oven or terra cotta substitute, but I do have a beautiful Le Creuset french blue stoneware baking dish that my dad and stepmom got me for my birthday and I don’t get to use nearly enough. So I prepped the first part of the recipe in a pan and transferred it to the Le Creuset for the baking part, which seemed to work out just fine!

If you also don’t have a tagine, or something similar that can go from stovetop to oven, do this: Preheat the oven to 375. In a pan, saute one chopped onion in 2 tbsp olive oil until it turns golden. Then add 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1/8 tsp crushed saffron threads, and a pinch of cayenne pepper, and cook for another minutes. Then transfer this to your baking dish with 1 butternut squash, 2 sweet potatoes, and 1 acorn squash (chopped into cubes) or any ratio of these veggies you want (I personally would have gone with more butternut and less sweet potato if I did it again). You could also add carrots. Slowly stir in 2 cups of hot vegetable stock, top with a 1/2 cup of raisins, and drizzle with 1 tbsp of agave (or honey). Stick a cinnamon stick in the middle, cover and bake for an hour. Remove the cinnamon stick, sprinkle with cilantro leaves, serve on its own, with bread for dipping, or over brown rice or cous cous. Now I have to admit (and I LOVE cilantro), I was skeptical of how the cilantro would taste with this… but it was great! Such a nice flavor contrast. Definitely don’t skip it (if you tolerate cilantro). We ate it as a main course over brown rice (Lundberg, my favorite) with sauteed snap beans. Delish…

Squash and sweet potato tagine right out of the oven

Tagine with brown rice and snap beans

 


potato-kohlrabi puree

I should be ashamed of my non-blogging. Not a single post since May 29th – and that one wasn’t even food related! I have a new awesome kitchen, a weekly pick-up of fresh veggies from Sang Lee Farms, and no posts to show for it. I can’t even blame my busy schedule since I’m not at work or in classes (although I am putting in almost-full-time hours at a pediatric obesity clinic in a hospital for my fieldwork). So enough of my lack of excuses, and onto my kohlrabi obsession…

Every time I’ve walked through the farmer’s market for about the past year and seen kohlrabi, I’ve been intrigued. If you’ve never seen it, kohlrabi is a bizarre looking creature. It’s as if cabbage, Brussels sprouts, a radish, and a potato all mated with Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors. Technically, kohlrabi is a wild cabbage and can be prepared in a few different ways. The first time it arrived in our mystery bag of CSA farm veggies, I was really excited to experiment. I peeled it (and we ate a few slices raw, which kind of tasted like sweet radish), tossed the slices in spelt flour and spices, and sauteed them in a pan with a spritz of olive oil to make kohlrabi fries. The second time, I did the same thing but an oven roasted version instead of fried. I also stir-fried the green leaves and stems with some garlic and sesame oil, and they took a while to get tender but had a great flavor. These were super delicious side dishes, but the third time kohlrabi came around this summer, I decided to mix it up, especially since we had potatoes and onions in the bag too.

Kohlrabi can really be substituted for potatoes in most recipes, but a combination of potatoes and kohlrabi is a popular mix if you google search some recipes. For my recipe, I combined a few ideas I found and ended up with this:

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Potato-Kohlrabi Puree

Trim the stems and leaves off a kohlrabi bulb, and peel off the tough outer layer. Wash 1-2 cups of potatoes (peel on or off is up to you – I did peel on) and dice both into about one inch cubes. Bring a saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil, and add the potato and kohlrabi cubes. Reduce the heat and simmer until tender (test with a fork) for about 15 minutes. While the potatoes and kohlrabi are cooking, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and cook 3/4 of a cup of diced onion until it’s soft. Drain the potatoes and kohlrabi and either add the onion to the saucepan if you’re using a hand blender or put all three in a food processor. Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/4 cup of low fat milk, and salt and pepper to taste, and pulse until you get to your desired smoothness (I like mine fairly chunky). If you’re feeling fancy, serve with a little drizzle of olive oil over the top. I think I like the taste even better than regular mashed potatoes!

Anyone out there have any other great kohlrabi suggestions? It’s become one of my new summer favorites and hopefully there’s more coming my way…


wintery spring rolls & miso salmon

Sometimes the main course is an afterthought. It’s true. It’s probably not how one is ideally “supposed” to plan a menu, but given that I’m not running a restaurant, I think it’s ok.

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Wintery spring rolls

I’d been drooling over the idea of these wintery spring rolls for weeks, from the moment they were posted on my favorite food blog. I followed the recipe pretty closely but have a few notes: 1. I don’t (yet) own a mortal and pestle. I actually looked into getting one yesterday, and was deterred by the fact that Williams-Sonoma only had a $99 one! I ended up using an attachment on my hand blender to sort of pulse the ingredients into a paste. It was either that or saran wrap and a hammer, and I opted for least messy. 2. It is nearly impossible to assemble spring rolls in a mini-kitchen. The only other time I’ve made them (Vegan week 2011), I was actually in my boyfriend’s enormous (by NY standards) kitchen, and last night I didn’t quite realize the extent of what I was getting myself into until I found myself soaking spring roll wrappers in a bowl in the sink, grabbing lettuce off the stovetop, and reaching for my tofu stash on top of the fridge. 3. The recipe says you don’t need a dipping sauce, which is true if you are good at slathering the brown sugar-garlic mixture on the tofu. I chose to make a peanut-soy-rice vinegar-mirin mix anyway, with a touch of red pepper flakes, and it was a great compliment. A little added extra challenge if you’re going to take them for lunch the next day and try to eat them in a classroom however…

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Wintery spring rolls & salmon with miso glaze

Oh yes, and the broiled salmon with miso glaze, the afterthought… I can take exactly zero credit for this expertly cooked picture-perfect fish, as Chris made the whole thing AND battled my tiny broiler and fended off the dog with a garbage can barricade at the same time. Recipe can be found here. This will definitely be a favorite recipe in the future, and might even be what I design the appetizer or side dish around next time, instead of the opposite…