Scallops with Lemon-Tarragon Browned-Butter Sauce and Garlicky Arugula
Friday, May 10, 2013
After the heavier foods of winter, spicy and bitter spring greens are cleansing to the body and taste delicious. Peppery lettuces such as arugula and watercress are typically served raw in salads, but they are very tasty when cooked as well. In this video, I show how to make a quick spring meal that you can put together in just 10 minutes. It features seared scallops in a lemony tarragon browned-butter sauce as well as garlicky sautéed arugula.
Scallops in Lemon-Tarragon Browned-Butter Sauce
Start with the scallops, since they take longer to cook than the greens. Make sure to purchase dry scallops that have not been soaked in any solution. Dry them well with a paper towel, and pull the tough little muscle off. (It is often attached at the side.) Toss the scallops with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat a thin film of fat in a non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium flame. Fats that are good for this dish include ghee, aroma-free coconut oil, or extra virgin olive oil. Heat the oil over a medium-high flame until your hand, when it’s held one inch above the pan, feels hot. Add the scallops—they should sizzle—and cook for about three minutes, until seared on the first side. Using a tongs, flip the scallops and cook them on the second side for another three minutes or so until they feel firm, with just a little give.
Meanwhile, melt 4 tablespoons butter in a small pot on another burner over medium-high heat. You’ll notice that the butter starts gurgling right away, which means that the water content of the butter is evaporating. After about three minutes, the butter will foam and smell nutty. Use a spoon to push the foam aside and see the color of the butter, which should have turned a burnished chestnut color. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and pour in a couple of teaspoons or so of lemon juice to stop the cooking process. Add a tablespoon chopped tarragon to infuse the lemony buttery sauce with a fresh herby flair. Now you have a delicious sauce that is versatile as well.
In a medium skillet, add a splash of olive oil with a couple cloves minced garlic. Start heating the oil and the garlic at the same time, which will keep the garlic from burning. When the oil starts to sizzle, and the garlic just starts to take on some light color, add a pile of greens and toss to cook. In the video, I use arugula, but watercress is delicious as well. The greens wilt and are ready in under a minute. Sprinkle with a dash salt and a splash lemon. Greens cook down a lot, so make sure you plan for two cups of loosely packed greens per person.
Serve the scallops drizzled with the browned butter sauce accompanied by a mound of the garlicky greens. You’ll marvel at how something so tasty was so easy to make.
Quick Vietnamese Pho with Fresh Herbs
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
This quick Vietnamese pho, pronounced fuh, as in fun, is a soothing one-pot meal that’s flavorful and light, especially after the heavier foods of winter.
Watch the Video Quick Vietnamese Pho with Fresh Herbs
The first step is to toast some spices—a couple of tablespoons of coriander, a few cloves, a pieces of star anise, a spoonful of black peppercorns— in a dry heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat until the spices smell fragrant, which takes only a couple of minutes. I then wrap the spices in a cheesecloth along with some chunks of ginger and onions. l add this bouquet to two quarts of chicken broth (this is where a homemade one really shines) along with a pound of boneless chicken (breasts or legs are fine), a tablespoon of natural brown sugar, a couple of tablespoons of Vietnamese fish sauce, and a few pinches of salt. The fish sauce consists simply of fermented anchovies, which gives the broth authentic Southeast Asian pizazz. After bringing the liquid to a boil, I lower the heat and simmer the broth very gently (so as not to toughen the chicken) for 20 minutes or so, until the chicken is cooked through. I love that I can flavor the broth and cook the chicken all at the same time.
While the chicken is cooking, I pour hot water over fettuccine rice noodles, and I assemble the garnishes. I chop some fresh mint, cilantro and basil, cut some limes, slice some red onions, and finely chop a couple of hot chile peppers.
When the chicken is cooked, I remove it from the broth and discard the spice bag. As soon as the chicken is cool enough to touch, I tear it into chunky pieces.
To assemble the final dish, I ladle the broth over the noodles and chicken, then add the garnishes. I start with the onions and bean sprouts and then add a big handful of the fresh herbs. A sprinkle of the hot chiles and a squeeze of fresh lime at the last minute makes the dish sing! Assembling the dish to order allows me to adjust the spice level for all who are eating.
The flavorful herbed broth is nourishing and cleansing, not to mention delicious!
Vietnamese Chicken Pho
My Favorite Winter Salad
Monday, January 21, 2013
After a season of holiday indulgence and too many meals out, it’s time to begin the new year with a little lighter fare. I’m busy with obligations, but I don’t want to skimp on good food. So I turn to my favorite nourishing winter salads that I can make in minutes. This hearty winter salad that I show on the video consists of arugula, oranges, fennel, and sardines, with a complement of olives, walnuts and feta cheese. It’s composed in such a way that I don’t even need a separate dressing.
Sweet, Salty, Crunchy, Juicy
My Favorite Winter Salad
I start with a nest of baby arugula, or watercress, or mesclun greens. In the video, I use arugula with some farmer’s market pea shoots mixed in. I next add an orange that is cut into segments known as supremes. I cut the orange over a bowl to make sure to catch the juices that will become part of the dressing. I sprinkle the greens and orange with salt and then add a layer of paper-thin sliced fennel, which is arguably the most appealing way to eat raw fennel. Using the mandolin is the easiest way to get such slices. Next, I sprinkle in some black olives—a flavorful variety such as kalamata or nicoise—followed by a handful of walnuts. I then crumble my favorite feta cheese, a sheep’s milk feta, over the salad. Finally, I crown the salad with sardines. I use sardines packed in extra virgin olive oil, so that the oil from the tin of the sardines becomes part of the dressing, mixing with the juice of the oranges. Every bite is exciting—a medley of sweet, salty, juicy, and crunchy. Moreover, this salad is a nutritional winner, packed with a range of nutrients, from omega 3’s to vitamins C and E, and loaded with phytochemicals and minerals as well.
You can pack this salad to take on the go. Layer the greens with the fennel, olives, walnuts, and feta. Put the juicy orange slices in a separate container. Salt the salad, add the oranges, and top with the sardines right before eating.
Day Before Thanksgiving Feast
Saturday, November 24, 2012
This time of year I get a hankering to cook a Thanksgiving meal, even if I’m not the one having the guests over. My local traditional foods club has farmers that bring in stunning pasture-raised Turkeys, so I couldn’t resist buying a couple. I invited a friend over to cook a no-stress pre-Thanksgiving meal with me and split the bounty. (We cooked the 13-pound Turkey. I still have a wee 7-pound turkey in the freezer.)
This is what we made, based on what looked good at the greenmarket when I went shopping that morning:
Cranberry glazed turkey: I planned this one. I made a glaze by simmering cranberries, maple syrup, thyme, orange zest, garlic, and brown rice vinegar in a small pot. When the cranberries had burst, I pushed everything through a strainer. I served this same glaze for a recent lunch party on duck breasts.
Cranberry Glaze in the Pot
I received the turkey Tuesday night and did a little prep. I dry-brined it with salt (basically just rubbed it all over) and slipped some thyme-rosemary-sage butter under the skin to keep the breast moist. I laid the turkey on a rack in the roasting pan and refrigerated it overnight. Wednesday I baked it breast-side down at 325˚F. for an hour, then flipped it, and cooked the turkey about another 2 hours. I glazed the bird the last 40 minutes. Next time I won’t be lazy, and I’ll tie the turkey legs together.
Gravy was the pan drippings with a roux made from chickpea flour and butter (the whole meal was gluten free), with some gelatinous chicken stock. (I had simmered a whole chicken with a bunch of extra feet overnight to make a gelatinous chicken stock.)
Stuffing: I made a gluten-free cornmeal with cornmeal and sorghum flour (soaked the flours in buttermilk overnight, then proceeded with the recipe), then sautéed onions with cranberries, dates, and prunes. I added some wine, apple cider, and a smidge of maple sugar to deglaze, and cooked this until the cranberries burst. I added the mix to a bowl with some sage, chopped pecans, toasted cornbread cubes, a pound of turkey sausage (I cooked it first), and a splash of sherry vinegar (and salt and pepper of course) and a couple eggs. I baked this separately in an 8×11 roasting pan at 350 for about 20 minutes. Next time I’ll have the stuffing ready in advance and I’ll fill the bird with it.
Stuffing in Progress
Celery root-apple-sage pancakes: recipe from The Healthy Hedonist Holidays. I used chickpea flour instead of unbleached white flour to make these gluten-free.
Chard with cipolline onions: We cooked cipolline onions in olive oil and balsamic vinegar and added a couple bunches of wilted chard.
Buttered Green Beans with anchovies, garlic, and sage: We crushed the anchovies with salt so that they disappeared, and finished the green beans off with a splash of lemon juice.
Brussels Sprouts with leeks and shiitake mushrooms: We sweated the leeks and mushrooms with olive oil and a splash of tamari, until shrunken and tender. We removed them from the pan. We then added the Brussels Sprouts with butter, water, thyme, and salt, and cooked them until tender. We uncovered the lid and added balsamic vinegar and mustard, stirred the mushroom mix back in, and finished with a sprinkle of fresh tarragon.
Squash-Chestnut soup: We cooked hubbard squash soup with chestnuts, and added a splash of scotch. Served it with a swirl of yogurt, although crème fraiche would have been even more luscious.
Hubbard Squash and Chestnut Soup
Russet apples: Roasted in ginger-cinnamon mulled cider.
Then we feasted, and divided the spoils. No room for dessert, but it wasn’t necessary. Had leftovers of this one (espresso pudding with pumpkin whipped cream).
Chocolate-Espresso Pudding with Pumpkin Cream and Whipped Cream
I’ll admit that on Thanksgiving I had salmon, since I didn’t want to exhaust my enthusiasm for Turkey. The next night I was into Turkey again. This is my second night of leftovers, and it’s so good.
The whole plate: Turkey, Stuffing, Chard with Cipollines, Brussels Sprouts, Russet Apples, and Celery Root Pancakes
Mussels in White Wine Sauce
Monday, November 5, 2012
Today I made videos of a few easy seafood dishes. I started with mussels in white wine sauce. I simmered some shallots and garlic with white wine for a couple of minutes. I added a couple pounds mussels, covered the pan and cooked them until they opened. I transfered the mussels onto two plates, then added some fresh herbs (today it was thyme, parsley and oregano) as well as a chunk of butter and a sprinkling salt to the skillet. When the butter foamed, I poured the sauce over the mussels and mopped up the extra with a hunk of crusty bread. Delicious!
Mussels in White Wine Sauce
Savory Plum Dishes
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Now that the summer has transitioned into autumn, I am thrilled to resume my favorite cooking method: braising. I love the way that the prep for a braise is usually short; the oven does all of the hard work. A cut of meat that starts out tough slowly cooks for hours until it is meltingly tender. Best of all, braises taste better the following day, making them ideal dishes for gatherings.
A few weeks ago I was inspired by a New York times article by Melissa Clark on braising a brisket with Italian plums and port wine. Because of the wonky weather in New York this year, peaches and plums were mealy and unappealing to eat raw, but I envisioned cooked plums melting down into a beautiful regal sauce.
I purchased a second cut grass-fed brisket, which is the fattier of the two possible brisket cuts. Since grass-fed meat tends to be extra lean, this is the better of the two cuts to use. I salted and peppered the six-pound piece, seared it on both sides in a little oil for about 7 minutes per side in a large skillet, then transferred it to a plate. I added a few cups sliced onions and a few cloves minced garlic to the pan, and gently sweated the onions until softened. I then added a cup of port and a cup of rich chicken stock, and scraped up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. To a baking dish that would fit the brisket, I added a couple pounds of halved Italian plums along with a couple cinnamon sticks, a few stars of star anise, some bay leaves and a handful of fresh thyme branches. I poured the onion-wine mix over the plums, lay the brisket on top, and spooned some of the liquid over the brisket. I covered the pan with foil and placed it in a 325 degree oven for about 5 hours. Every half hour or so I flipped the brisket. The last half hour I uncovered the brisket to thicken the liquid. I let the meat cool to room temperature, then chilled it overnight in the refrigerator. I sliced it while cold and shared the dish with friends. I reheated the sliced pieces in the oven in the sauce. The brisket was succulent and delicious.
Brisket braised with Plums
Since I was not yet over plums, I made a quick plum sauce to go over duck breasts. While my duck breasts were searing, I added a bit of the rendered duck fat to an adjacent skillet and sweated some sliced onions. I then added a cup of chicken stock, a cup of port, a cinnamon stick, some star anise pods, a few sprigs thyme, a bay leaf and 2 pounds of halved plums. I let the whole sauce reduce while the duck breasts cooked. The duck and the sauce were finished around the same time, in about 15 minutes. Earlier in the day I had roasted some whole beets in a pan with thyme, olive oil, and water for a couple of hours. When they were ready, I slipped off the skin, cut them into wedges, and drizzled a bit of pomegranate molasses over them.
I served the meal with a mélange of corn, peppers, and zucchini and a few spoonful’s of lacto-fermented carrots. This bright and colorful meal took only 30 minutes of labor.
Duck with Plum Sauce
Cornmeal-Crusted Cod with Fresh Tomato Sauce
Saturday, September 22, 2012
Miniature tomatoes dazzle in a variety of different sizes, shapes and colors; they are flavorful long after the larger varieties are truly out of season. I love using these miniature packets of flavor to make versatile stove-top sauces. The one that I demo in the video is just as delicious over polenta and simple greens as it is over fish. In the video, I’m demonstrating a single serving of cornmeal-crusted cod, although the tomato sauce is enough for up to four filets. You can swap out the cod for halibut or pollack or any thick white-fleshed fish.
Cornmeal-Crusted Cod with Fresh Tomato Sauce
I begin with a pint of small tomatoes. I’ve used grape and cherry, or sweet sun-golds—my favorites—when I can find them at my local greenmarket. I often mix a beautiful combination of colors, varieties and sizes. I add to the skillet—besides the halved tomatoes—a teaspoon or so of minced garlic, a couple tablespoons minced shallots, a teaspoon of fennel seeds, a few tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar. I sprinkle a dusting of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper over everything, give it a quick mix, then cover and set the pan aside while I start the fish.
I salt and pepper the filet before I dredge it on both sides in cornmeal. When the cast iron skillet (or any other heavy-bottomed skillet will do) is heated, I add a film of coconut oil—unflavored is best—and cook the fish a couple of minutes on each side over medium-high heat until golden. I transfer the pan to a preheated 400˚F oven for 5 minutes to cook the inside of the fish thoroughly.
While the fish is in the oven, I turn the heat on the tomatoes and let them stew for 2 to 3 minutes, just until warmed through and juicy. I then stir in a tablespoon or so of minced chives and parsley, which brightens the colors and heightens the flavors. When the fish is ready, I plate it and spoon the sauce over the top. The fish is moist on the inside, crispy on the outside and complemented by the warm tomato sauce.
It’s a guest-worthy dish that is easy, seasonal, and delicious.
Friday, September 7, 2012
Until recently, too many bad memories of thick chunks of raw zucchini in crudité platters made me shy away from ever eating the vegetable raw. I had assumed that the best way to coax and concentrate the flavor of the watery squash was to cook it. Before cooking, I’d often salt the zucchini to draw out the water. If I had grated it, I would squeeze out the excess; if I had sliced it, I would blot it dry before sautéing.
I gave raw zucchini a second chance recently. The difference was that I sliced the vegetable paper thin. I then added a fat sprinkling salt to draw out the water. The slices wilted into an appealing texture that changed my assessment of raw zucchini.
I’ve been making many delicious salad all summer with this technique.
I repeat: the key is to slice the zucchini thin. This is where a mandolin comes in handy. I don’t use anything fancy—a plastic one or the slicer that is on some flat metal graters works fine. I then sprinkle some salt on the zucchini, along with something acidic like lemon and lime juice as well as all of the other ingredients. Sometimes I hold back on adding the oil until after the salad is completely softened. I let the zucchini wilt for about an hour, turning every so often.
Zucchini before Wilting
These salads retain their good looks and flavor up to three days in the refrigerator.
The salad pictured here includes lime juice, a few chopped anchovies, scallions, jalapeños, cilantro, dill, Thai fish sauce, and baby shrimp. I let it sit about an hour, mixing a couple of times, until the zucchini is wilted and tender. I then add some oil. Nowadays I’m using a blend of extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, and filtered coconut oil. I serve this over a bed of mesclun for a delicious lunch.
Although the prep is quick, you do have to plan to make this an hour ahead of eating.
The version I made the other day was with zucchini, salt, lemon juice, olives, mint, basil, and oil. If I had some cherry tomatoes I would have thrown those in as well. This humble vegetable (and use the yellow variety as well) lends itself to lots of possibilities for extraordinary dishes.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
This past Friday and Sunday, I catered a couple of on-site parties. I had Wednesday and Sunday morning to prepare for the Sunday brunch, and Thursday and Friday to prepare for the Friday evening party.
Since I had to prepare a good amount in advance of Sunday, I had to plan on a certain number of dishes that would freeze or hold well for up to five days.
These individual cheesecakes fit the criteria.
Individual Cheesecakes with Raspberry Sauce
As they rest in the refrigerate, they just keep on getting tastier, so making them five days ahead was not a stumbling block. I bought the molds at J.B. Prince, an amazing store on 31st street in NYC. I froze a batch of crepes (which were to be filled with strawberry-rhubarb compote), zucchini pancakes, lasagna, and this caramelized onion tart.
The asparagus salad that accompanied the tart I made right before serving. The asparagus was shaved raw and tossed with dressing, which softened the asparagus after about 20 minutes. I baked the tart without defrosting it first. It simply took an additional 15 minutes. Sunday I was able to focus on last minute items, like the fish.
I made the Friday desserts Friday afternoon. This is the blueberry buckle from the Healthy Hedonist Holidays.
This is a chocolate cake made in individual aluminum ramekins.
Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Sauce
Powdered sugar covers a multitude of craters.
The Friday night meal had as a starter the Turkish chopped romaine salad and the miso-marinated black cod from The Healthy Hedonist.
Miso marinated cod with Turkish chopped salad
I marinated the cod early in the day (marinade made the day before) and just tossed it in the broiler to brown. Before serving I blasted the fish in a hot oven to reheat; the oily fish is so forgiving it was not in the least bit dried out .
The stock for the broccoli soup was made Wednesday and the soup and pistou topping were finished Thursday.
The main course included braised short ribs and stuffed chicken (a great way to keep the chicken moist) as well as braised-roasted purple potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots, and lemony sautéed artichokes.
Friday Dinner Main Course
I planned the main course to have items on it that would reheat well without drying out.
For the Sunday buffet I did cook a couple of items that required precise timing, but not too many. One of the most important things about cooking for a crowd–beside being organized–is to have a menu that is a bit forgiving.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
When my photography teacher waxed enthusiastic about his favorite sumac chicken, I started thinking about how much I like the sour, astringent flavor that that the purple spice imparts to dishes. I am especially fond of the combination called za’atar, a mix of sumac, thyme, and sesame seeds, which is typically baked into Middle Eastern flat breads.
I hadn’t cooked with sumac for a while, and the thought of making a delicious chicken with the spice was intriguing.
My first version, which had sumac and salt rubbed in, over, and around the chicken was tasty, but not as tasty as I wanted. The flavor needed a bit more complexity.
The next two versions were delicious.
First I mixed fresh thyme, salt, sumac, minced garlic, and extra virgin olive oil into a paste.
I butterflied open the chicken, then slipped the paste under the skin of the chicken I had bought at Union Square green market.
Butterfly the Chicken
Slipping the Paste Under the Skin
I flipped the chicken and then brushed it with olive oil, and sprinkled it with more sumac, some dried thyme, and some garlic powder, salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Sprinkling the Outside with Thyme, Sumac, Garlic Powder, Salt and Pepper
I then transferred the chicken to the refrigerator to let the flavors seep into the meat. It’s great if you can make this dish a day in advance and let it marinate overnight.
So far I’ve cooked the chicken two ways. The first time I just placed it on a rack and put it in a 400˚F oven for about 50 minutes until a thermometer in the thigh registered about 175˚F.
Roasted at 400˚
The next time I set the chicken on a grill pan skin side down and put a weight on it. I used this nifty iron, but a cast iron skillet or anything weighty works just as well.
Press the Chicken to get Grill Marks
I grilled it over medium-high heat for about 8 minutes until some serious browning appeared, and I then flipped the chicken and transferred it to a rack in a pan and placed it in a 350˚F. oven for another 40 minutes.
Grilled, then roasted
It was delicious this way, even almost tasting as if it had been grilled outdoors. Of course you could grill it on an outdoor grill, but for me, in Manhattan, this was not a possibility.
The bird was succulent, with bright zesty flavor. I served it with mujadarrah (rice and lentils with caramelized onions) and salad one time, and mujadarrah and roasted asparagus another.
With Mujadarrah and Salad
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