Friday, April 24, 2015

Spanish Asparagus Revuelto

Last Year's Post:  Spaghetti with Chicken, Herbs and Cherry Tomatoes
Two Years Ago:   Pasta Primavera

Revuelto is a Spanish term that basically means "scrambled eggs with stuff added" but sounds so much more exotic.  This would be a perfect spring dish when local asparagus first appears in the markets, and it would be an ideal brunch entree (Mother's Day!) or light spring dinner.  I was inspired by the fabulous fresh asparagus I found this week.

It's fast and easy but much more interesting than boring old scrambled eggs with the addition of bits of chorizo, that beautiful asparagus, smoked paprika and a little saffron sour cream on the side.  Add some grilled Ciabatta toast and you have a pretty special meal.

This recipe calls for Spanish chorizo, not Mexican.  Spanish chorizo is a dry cured sausage that looks a lot like pepperoni.

 Mexican chorizo is raw ground pork mixed with spices that looks a lot like ground Italian sausage and normally doesn't come in casings.  Speaking of casings, Spanish chorizo has a thin paper covering that you might not notice at first but that needs to be removed before cooking.  It's easiest to remove before you start slicing or chopping.

Make a special meal this spring to celebrate asparagus!

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Spanish Asparagus Revuelto
Serves 4

½ cup sour cream
Pinch of saffron
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
½ teaspoon minced garlic plus one large garlic clove
8 slices Ciabatta bread
2 ounces diced Spanish chorizo
1 bunch thin asparagus, cut into 1-2” lengths
6 green onions, sliced
8 large eggs, beaten
Salt and pepper
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons roughly chopped Italian parsley

Mix the sour cream with the saffron and refrigerate while you prep and cook the remaining ingredients to allow the saffron to bloom.

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.  Brush the bread slices with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and grill, turning once, until crisp with nice grill marks.  Remove from heat and immediately rub each piece with the large garlic clove.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, then add the chorizo and fry lightly.  Add the asparagus and stir-fry until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes (depending on the size of the asparagus pieces).  Add the green onions and minced garlic and cook 1 minute more. 

Season the eggs with salt, pepper and paprika, whisking to combine, then add to the pan and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, just until soft and creamy.  Divide between shallow bowls, topping with parsley. 

Stir the sour cream again and add a dollop on the side of each serving of eggs.  Add two toast pieces to each bowl and serve.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Mustard Swordfish Kebabs

Last Year's Post: Prosciutto, Gruyere and Egg Toasts
Two Years Ago:  Cotswold Quiche

I'm surprised I haven't posted this recipe before.  I've had it for at least 20 years and have made it countless times, refining along the way.  The original recipe called for one big swordfish steak, which I modified to individual portions and finally to kebabs, all to get more of the great mustard marinade in every bite.  I also added red onion and zucchini to the kebabs because I'm a vegetable kind of person, but you can change them to any vegetables you like or leave them out entirely.

The kebabs are grilled or broiled so you can make them any time of the year, and they stay moist and juicy on the inside while becoming crusty on the outside with that great mustard flavor.

I knew it was time to make this recipe when I found some beautiful fresh wild swordfish on sale.  If you haven't had swordfish before, it's a mild yet meaty fish that's not oily.  Trim off the skin and the dark red portion before cutting it into chunks.

First you make the spicy mustard sauce, then you make the actual marinade.  The marinade doesn't use all the spicy mustard sauce, but it keeps beautifully and is really good on sandwiches or served with pork or poultry dishes.

The swordfish and vegetables marinate for 20-30 minutes while you preheat the grill or broiler, then you place them on separate skewers because they cook for different times.  I know it's prettier to alternate everything on the same skewer, but then some pieces are either under-cooked or over-cooked.  As a rule of thumb it's always best to put the meat and vegetables on separate skewers whenever you make kebabs.  The Lawyer likes to use two skewers rather than one because it makes the kebabs easier to turn without the individual pieces spinning around.

Served with couscous tossed with parsley and toasted pine nuts, the kebabs make a delicious, fast and healthy meal.

Mustard Swordfish Kebabs
Serves 4

Note: extra mustard sauce keeps well and is delicious on sandwiches or served with pork or poultry.

For the Spicy Mustard Sauce:
1/3 cup (1 ounce) Coleman’s dry mustard
¼ cup dry sherry
¼ cup Dijon mustard
¼ cup coarse-grained mustard

For the Kebabs
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Spicy Mustard Sauce (see above)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 pound (1½ – 2” thick) swordfish, trimmed and cut into cubes
1 medium red onion, cut into 1” chunks
1 zucchini, sliced lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2” pieces
1 lemon, cut into 4 pieces

Wooden or metal skewers

If using wooden skewers, submerge in water weighted down with a plate for 30-60 minutes prior to assembly.

To prepare the spicy mustard sauce, place the dry mustard in a small bowl and gradually whisk in the sherry to form a smooth thick paste.  Whisk in the Dijon and coarse-grained mustards until well blended.  Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.

To prepare the kebabs: in a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of spicy mustard sauce, salt and garlic.  Divide evenly between two quart zip-top bags.  Place the swordfish in one bag and the onion and zucchini in the other.  Seal both bags and toss briefly to coat all ingredients evenly with marinade.  Set aside for 20-30 minutes to marinate.

Meanwhile, heat a grill or broiler on high heat.

After 20-30 minutes, remove the swordfish, onion and zucchini from the bags and place on the skewers.  The swordfish should be placed on skewers by itself and not crowded; the onion and zucchini can be placed on the skewers together.  Sprinkle the skewers with pepper.

Grill or broil the swordfish skewers for 3 minutes per side, turning once.  Grill or broil the vegetable skewers for 4-5 minutes per side, turning once.  

Serve kebabs immediately with lemon on the side.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Korean Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Last Year's Post: Mixed Berry Jalousie
Two Years Ago:  Joanne Chang's Lemon Bars

At one point in my career I reported to a manager who liked to take job applicants to a restaurant for their interview.  Any restaurant would do as long as the food was particularly awkward or messy to eat - spaghetti or tacos, for example.  He claimed he liked to see how the applicants handled a stressful situation and whether they could maintain poise.  I think he just enjoyed watching those fresh young hopefuls struggle not to get spaghetti sauce all over their brand new suits.

Lettuce wraps would have qualified for his list.  They're right up there with tacos in terms of potential for messiness, but they're just as fun as tacos and a whole lot more healthy.  I've been on a major Korean food jag lately so I already had Gochujang paste sitting in my refrigerator for these Korean chicken wraps, but if you aren't familiar with it, you can find it in Asian markets and it looks like this.

It's one of those Korean food staples so if you like Korean food you'll find plenty of uses for it,  like these Korean sliders.  If you really don't want to buy it, you could substitute some other type of hot sauce to approximate the taste.  The overall flavor profile of the marinade should be slightly sweet, moderately spicy, somewhat salty from the soy sauce, and garlicky - classic bold Korean flavors.  The marinade will taste strong on its own but will be diluted somewhat when it's cooked on the chicken and then again when the other ingredients are added to the wraps.

Other than the marinated and cooked chicken, the wraps contain high-fiber brown rice and veggies so they're really good for you.  If you marinate the chicken and cook the rice in advance, they'll take all of ten minutes to make - just slice up the veggies while the chicken cooks.  They're equally good when the rice and chicken are hot, room temperature, or cold and make a great lunch for work the next day.  And they'll provide your co-workers with amusement at the lunch table as they watch you eat.

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Korean Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Serves 4

3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce plus more for thinning
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 ½ tablespoons dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon Gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic (about 3 large cloves)
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 pound skinless boneless chicken breast halves, thinly sliced
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
12 Bibb lettuce leaves
24 English cucumber slices
4 radishes, sliced
4 green onions, diagonally sliced

Whisk the first six ingredients together in a bowl until well combined.  Reserve 3 tablespoons of the mixture in a small bowl; thin with a little additional soy sauce (if desired) and set aside.  Pour the remaining mixture into a large zip-top plastic bag and add the chicken slices; seal and toss around to coat.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.

Cook rice according to package directions.

Remove chicken from bag and discard marinade.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat; add oil to pan and swirl to coat.  Add chicken and coat approximately 2 minutes per side until golden and fully cooked. Sprinkle sesame seeds over chicken. 

To assemble, place 2-3 tablespoons of rice in each lettuce leaf; top with chicken, cucumber, radishes, and green onions.  Serve with reserved soy sauce mix on the side for drizzling.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Prosciutto, Mozzarella and Radicchio Panini

Last Year's Post: Classic Potato Gratin
Two Years Ago:  French Chicken Salad

We went to an outdoor concert the other day and wanted to bring a picnic dinner.  I was inspired to make these Italian sandwiches because they have a most interesting combinations of flavors - definitely a big people kind of sandwich - and it's always good to get out of a sandwich rut.  The prosciutto is salty, the radicchio and arugula are bitter, the balsamic vinegar is sweet, the mozzarella is creamy, and the artichokes are, well, artichokes.  Trust me, it all works together.  The original recipe called it a panini although it wasn't grilled, just served fresh.  In my book paninis are grilled, which has the advantage of sort of gluing the whole sandwich together with cheese.  Otherwise there are a lot of little pieces in the sandwich which could easily fall out.  But, if you don't want to grill the sandwich you certainly don't have to.

Radicchio is that little round red guy in the produce department that sort of looks like a small cabbage.  Marinating it in balsamic vinegar for a few minutes while you assemble the sandwiches takes away some of the bitterness.

After prepping the artichokes and mozzarella, it's just simple assembly and grilling the sandwiches.

Paninis are always delicious hot off the press, but these sandwiches were equally good wrapped up and enjoyed at the concert.  Picnic food!

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Prosciutto, Mozzarella and Radicchio Panini
Makes 6 sandwiches

¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ head radicchio
4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
Two 6-ounce jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced
¼ cup fresh Italian parsley leaves
8 ounces baby arugula
12 slices from a loaf of ciabatta bread
Olive oil spray

In a large bowl, whisk together the olive and balsamic vinegar.  Season with a pinch of red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.

Slice the radicchio into thin ribbons.  Add to the vinaigrette and toss together.  Set aside to marinate.

Lay the bread out on a work surface and spray lightly with olive oil spray.  Turn the slices over and layer half the slices in the following order:  prosciutto, artichokes, and mozzarella slices.  Add the parsley leaves to the radicchio mixture, toss to combine, and place on top of the mozzarella.  Finish with the arugula and top with the remaining bread slices, olive oil side up.

Heat a Panini press and grill until the cheese melts and the bread is toasty and golden, about 3-5 minutes.  Serve hot or at room temperature.