Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ann's (Bonnie's Mom) Famous Stuffed Mushrooms

This is a family recipe that is sure to make you the celebrity of any potluck you attend. While absolutely vegetarian, these mushrooms come out savory and "meaty" because of the walnuts and breadcrumbs. They are also quite easy, making even the most amateur cook look like a seasoned chef :)

20 white button mushrooms
3 tbs butter
1 clove garlic, minced
2 shallots or 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 cup bread crumbs (you can make these by putting stale or toasted bread in the food processor)
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
2 tbs dry sherry (always buy Spanish sherry)
1 tbs worchestershire sauce
3 tbs grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp thyme
salt and pepper

Remove the stems from the mushrooms, cut away tough or dark ends, and chop the stems into 1/4 inch cubes or so. Melt butter in medium skillet. Add stem pieces, onion, and garlic. Saute until starting to brown slightly. Add the rest of the ingredients. Stir until everything is moist and hot. Use more sherry if it's too dry. Arrange the caps open-side up in a baking pan. Mound stuffing on top of each cap. It's OK to really mountain it up above the top of the cap. Bake 15-20 mins. at 400, until the mushrooms start to give up their liquid (they will look wet and a little shrunken instead of dry and stiff).

Serve hot. Yum.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Potato and Green Bean Salad

I think this one is by far Chris' favorite. I'm pretty sure the two of us put away several pounds of this potato salad over the course of two days. We used green beans and dill right out of the garden and it tasted just like summer...

2-3 pounds of small red potatoes
a couple of handfuls of green beans
1/2 C plain yogurt
1/2 C mayonnaise
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 TBSP grainy dijon mustard
small handful of fresh dill, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, wash and quarter your potatoes. You want nice bite sized pieces so if your potatoes are huge you might have to eighth them or whatever to make them the right size. When the water is boiling, salt it well and dump in your potatoes. Boil gently for a while (maybe 15-20 minutes) until your potatoes are perfectly done. Test them with a fork. When they're nice and tender, they're done! Using a wire strainer, scoop out all of your potatoes and put them in a nice big bowl. Chop your green beans into 2" pieces and dump them into your potato water. They really only take a minute or two to cook. Watch for them to turn bright green and then pull them out before they have a chance to overcook! The green beans can go right into the bowl with the potatoes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. You should have a nice loose dressing. Drizzle this all over the potatoes and mix well. It should almost look like there's too much dressing on the potatoes because as they cool they will absorb some of it and you certainly don't want to end up with a dry potato salad :)

Bonnie's Super Awesome* Easy Olive Tapenade

*(note from editor: I know it's super awesome because I ate it, and it was yum).

I had some leftover kalamata olives from a picnic and was wondering what to do with them, and a google search led me to a recipe for olive tapenade that inspired this little number. My end result was nothing like the original recipe, so I'll just credit it for inspiration. This recipe results in a rich and creamy olive spread that can be used as a yummy snack on breads and crackers. I can even envision something fancy like little toasts with the spread on top and a cut kalamata or two arranged just so...

A few notes: You'll need a blender or a food processor that is able to grind nuts. Otherwise the creamy texture isn't going to be possible. Also, the end result is super potent, so you won't need much on your bread/cracker/whatever you choose to eat it on. I thought I had gone wrong until I actually put it on a piece of bread. Finally, I didn't measure anything, so feel free to be flexible with these directions.

1 tub of kalamata olives, drained. (If you want to make this lower in fat, set the olive juice aside and sub it for some of the oil)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts, but you can use whatever)
1 clove garlic, chopped or garlic-pressed
Olive oil (I didn't measure, I probably used about a tablespoon. whatever you prefer)

That's all! the original recipe had feta cheese, so if you wanted it cheesy you could add some.

Put all of your ingredients into the blender, making sure the nuts are closest to the blade. (This gets kind of thick, so if the olives are first they are just going to keep grinding while the nuts sit on top) Grind the mixture until it reaches a creamy consistency. If it's too thick, add more oil/olive juice and blend some more. This should make about a cup of tapenade. Enjoy!

Gnocchi with Slow-Sauteed Garlic, Broccoli, and Capers

Easy-peasy but flavorful meal. I used Trader Joe's whole wheat gnocchi, which are somehow really delicious, and fresh broccoli from the farmer's market. To make this a completely pantry-based meal, however, you could also use frozen broccoli or other veggies (I bet string beans would be great).

1 package store-bought gnocchi (of course, you could make your own if you're feeling adventurous!)
1 bunch broccoli, cut into small florets
4 large cloves garlic, sliced thinly
olive oil
capers (about 2 tablespoons)
red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the gnocchi according to package directions, making sure not to overcook them. Drain and set aside.

Drizzle some olive oil into a wide saute pan. Add the garlic, then turn on the heat VERY low. Watch the oil and garlic carefully; you want it to sizzle only the tiniest bit. Saute it this way for about 5-10 minutes; if it shows any signs of browning during the process, quickly take it off the heat and let it cool for a few second before putting it back on. Cooking the garlic like this on very low heat gives it a sweet flavor, almost like roasting, but in much less time. When it starts to smell fragrant, toss in the capers, red pepper flakes, and broccoli. Saute for about 1-2 minutes so the broccoli can cook, then add the gnocchi for another minute or two. Add extra olive oil if needed, and salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lemony Raw Kale Salad with Tomato and Avocado

I know, I know. Raw kale. It sounds weird. But this salad is fresh and amazing - the kale and sunflower seeds make it crunchy, the avocado makes it creamy, and the lemon juice gives it a delicious tartness. SO perfect for summer.

1 large bunch of kale, leaves stripped off the stem and cut into ribbons
1-2 tomatoes, chopped
1 ripe avocado, chopped
a handful or two of toasted sunflower seeds
1-2 lemons, depending on how tart you like it
a sprinkle of salt
olive oil
dulse (dried seaweed), optional

Put the kale ribbons in a big bowl, and squeeze the lemon or two over it. Sprinkle some salt on as well. Then, stick your fingers in and mush the lemon juice into the kale. (Really, mush it!). You'll start to feel the kale wilt, as if it's cooking down - so cool! Once it's "cooked" down enough, drizzle a little olive oil on top and mix that in, too. Then, add the tomatoes, avocado, sunflower seeds, and dulse. Gorgeous and delicious.

Grilled Tofu with Spicy Peanut-Soy-Ginger Sauce

This has been my go-to recipe for grilled tofu this spring/summer. It's super easy and extremely flexible - I think I've prepared it differently each time I've made it based on what I've had on hand! Adjust and alter to your hearts content...I'm convinced you really can't go wrong with this combination of flavors.

1 block tofu, drained and sliced into 1/2" thick grillable-sized slices
peanut butter
hot water
juice from half a lime
soy sauce
garlic, minced
grated fresh ginger or powdered ginger
cayenne pepper or hot sauce
black pepper
fresh cilantro, chopped

Pat your sliced tofu dry with a clean dish towel to get out any remaining water, drizzle with just a touch of soy sauce, and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together several spoonfuls of peanut butter (I prefer crunchy!) with a tablespoon or two of hot water until the peanut butter kind of dissolves and gets nice and saucy. It's better to start with just a bit of hot water and add more as needed to get the desired consistency. Add to this: the juice from half a lime, several tablespoons of soy sauce, as much minced garlic as you can stand, about a tablespoon of grated fresh ginger or a couple of pinches of the powdered variety, several dashes or pinches of hot sauce or cayenne, a couple grinds of fresh black pepper, and a nice handful of chopped fresh cilantro. Mix well.

Taste and adjust to your preferences! Like things spicy? Add more heat. Prefer it a bit saltier? Add a couple shakes of soy sauce. Want to repel vampires? Up the garlic content. You get the picture.

Get your grill going, oil it up a bit, and spread out your tofu slices. Grill until you have nice grill lines on the bottom side and then flip. Now, brush on a good layer of the sauce on the tops of the tofu slices. When the bottoms are all perfectly grilled, remove tofu from the grill and flip it over onto a plate so the non-saucy side is up. Brush (or pour!) on plenty of the sauce. I like to save a little bit of the sauce so that as I serve the tofu I can drizzle more on each plate to let it mingle with whatever veggies or salad I am serving. Yum.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Raw Kale Salad with Parmesan, Red Pepper, and Bread Crumbs

Adapted from 101 Cookbooks, which adapted it from Melissa Clark's "In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite." The combination of lemon, garlic, red peppers, and sharp cheese is amazing, and will make you want to eat kale every day.

1 bunch kale - I used about 7 giant stalks.
2 slices whole wheat bread, or two handfuls good, homemade coarse breadcrumbs
1 small garlic clove
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup (or small handful) grated pecorino or parmesan cheese, plus additional for garnish
3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly squeezed juice of 1 1/2 lemons
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Rip the leaves off the kale stalks, and discard the stems. Slice the kale into 1/2 inch ribbons. You'll probably have about 3 cups worth. Place it in a large bowl.

If using the bread, toast it until golden brown on both sides and dry throughout. Tear into small pieces and pulse in a food processor until the mixture forms coarse crumbs.

Mince the garlic very finely and transfer it to a bowl. Add the lemon juice and let it hang out for about 10 minutes; this will take the edge off the garlic. (However, if you love raw garlic, you can skip this step). Add olive oil, salt, black pepper to taste, and red pepper flakes, and whisk to combine.

Pour the dressing over the kale and toss very well (the dressing will be thick and need lots of tossing to coat the leaves). Let the salad sit for 5-10 minutes; the lemon juice and salt will actually wilt the kale leaves a bit. Add the grated cheese and toss again. Then serve topped with the bread crumbs and additional cheese. Plan on eating the whole bowl, because it's just that good.