Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer Black Bean Soup with Pico de Gallo

Soups in Summer?


A vegetarian meal that uses lots of your summer veggies.

The secret is a slow cooker.

Beans are super easy to make from the dry state and this makes this recipe economical leaving you with lots of extra ice cream or margarita money.

No need for more words for this humble yet satisfying dish, just make it and enjoy!

CWYG Stats
  Italics mean seasonal produce likely at farmers markets or in veggie boxes.

CWYG List Items - black beans, onions, garlic, olive oil (I used bacon fat), tomatoes, shallots, cilantro, limes, jalapenos.

Summer Black Bean Soup with Pico de Gallo 
You can always add cubed avocado to this.  Feel free to also add fresh corn kernels or chopped and sauteed zucchini to the beans if you have a surplus of produce.  I serve it with corn tortillas.  Limeade, beer or margaritas are the natural beverage choices.

1 lb black beans
1 cup chopped onions
5 cloves garlic, minced, divided use
2 tbsp olive oil (or bacon fat)
8 cups water
2 tsp kosher or sea salt
1 lb tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 bunch cilantro, leaves removed and chopped
2 jalapenos (or 1 serrano), finely chopped (remove stem and membrane if heat is a problem), optional
1 shallot, minced
2 limes, one juiced the other cut into 1/4's
yogurt or sour cream for serving

Soak the beans in the bowl of slow cooker overnight. Drain and rinse.  Add back to the slow cooker.  Saute the onions in the oil or bacon fat until translucent.  Add to the beans along with half of the garlic and the water.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until the beans are soft.  Add 2 tsp salt.  Taste and add more salt to taste.

Meanwhile, prepare the Pico by mixing the tomatoes, cilantro, remaining garlic, jalapenos, shallot and lime juice together in a medium sized bowl.  Add salt to taste.

Serve the beans with lime quarters, Pico and yogurt. 

Copyright 2011 Christi Flaherty, TablaVie Cooking Classes

Friday, June 17, 2011

Grilled Baby Bok Choy and Thai Curry Chicken Satays

At a quarter the size of regular Bok Choy, these little guys are so cute.  Slated on the accompanying newsletter as "Mei Qing Choi", when they arrive in the veggie box,  there's usually 4-5 of them.  My kids definitely do not like the slightly bitter and earthy taste, but I like it a lot and so does Kyle so we feasted.  I have made them with lots of bacon before in early Spring months, but this was by far my favorite method especially in mid-June.

CWYG Stats

Veggie Box Items - baby bok choy
CWYG Items - shallots, garlic, ginger, tamari sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, thai red curry paste, coconut milk

Grilled Baby Bok Choy and Thai Curry Chicken Satays
I have never had luck with skewers for Satays, so these are skewerless.  Feel free to use skewers, just make sure they are sturdy and if bamboo or wooden, that you soak them for at least 30 minutes.

2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
1 cup coconut milk or plain yogurt
1 tbsp brown sugar or agave
1 lb chicken breasts cut into 1/2" thick strips
4-5 baby bok choy
1 shallot, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp tamari sauce (or soy if gluten's not an issue)
1/4 brown sugar (or 3 tbsp agave)
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Cooked brown rice to serve

Mix curry paste, brown sugar and coconut milk.  Marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes or up to 12 hours.

Cut each head of bok choy in half lengthwise.  Rinse well especially near the core to remove all dirt and sand.

Mix the remaining ingredients except sesame seeds in a small pan and cook over medium heat until boiling and slightly thickened.

Preheat grill.  Drain chicken strips and cook over hot grill until cooked through, about 5 minutes.  Remove from grill and cover with foil to keep warm.

Drizzle bok choy with a little oil the sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill cut side down for a minute or two until the leaves are slightly charred.  Turn over and grill another minute basting with the sauce.  Remove from grill and drizzle with remaining dressing and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Serve with chicken and brown rice.
Copyright 2011 Christi Flaherty, TablaVie Cooking Classes

Monday, June 6, 2011

Copper River Salmon with Warm Lentil Salad

Updated Bistro Updated - Grilled Copper River Salmon with Herb Butter and Warm Lentil Salad
Hopefully by now you know that Atlantic Salmon is a catchy name for farm-raised salmon.  If you're into food quality issues at all, you've probably seen Food, Inc. or read Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan.  You probably know the horrible conditions that cows live under and how that affects our health as a result.  Now imagine those cows are fish and in the same conditions but in water.  That's Atlantic Salmon. They swim in their own waste, are fed unnatural pills of food (that consequently create a fake color) that contain antibiotics to combat the disease that occurs when animals are raised in close quarters - a fenced-in pen underwater if you don't know.  There are many naturally occuring side-effects to the entire ocean eco-system and particularly the salmon population but I won't go into that now.  Suffice it to say, we don't buy it.

How do I fill my salmon craving?  Most of the year, it's Costco's Wild Salmon Burgers.  But during the summer, when I can find it for $10/lb or less (a splurge, but totally worth it) I buy it and savor it while I can.

When you look at wild salmon fillets next to Atlantic salmon you can see the difference.  The Crayola crayon color of Orange Red is probably the closest match to the Copper River salmon's color versus the light pink of the Atlantic.  There are other wild varieties and I urge you to look for them in the coming months.  This is the season for fresh salmon so enjoy it before it goes through the factory chilling process and sits in the freezer section for months. I did freeze some fillets for later, however, and they had the exact same texture and flavor after being frozen - bright orangey pink and buttery in the center even after being a little over-cooked.  (I don't know what happens in the factory freezing process, but they always seem to have a tougher texture.) 

On this particular night, I had lots of fresh herbs in my fridge so I made a compound butter with them and let that melt over the fish after grilling.  With family in town that eat very few carbs, I paired it with a warm lentil salad that made use of the variety of fresh produce in my veggie drawer.  This very earthy but bright combination is a perfect pair with a Pinot Noir, but we happened to have Mourvedre which is a less known varietal from France.

CWYG Stats

Veggie Box Items -  Fresh oregano, Tokyo turnips, purple carrots

CWYG Items - French green lentils, olive oil, sherry vinegar, garlic, shallots

Grilled Salmon with Warm Lentil Salad
1/2 cup softened butter (1 stick) preferably unsalted
1/2 chopped fresh herbs (any combination of basil, oregano, mint, parsley, cilantro, chives, summer savory)
zest of 1 lemon, reserve juice for later
1 cup green lentils (preferably tiny French lentils such as Du Puy)
1 tbsp bacon fat (I am a Southern girl by birth and yes, I keep this in my fridge)
or 1 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp sherry vinegar3 tbsp olive oil
1 carrot, finely diced (I used a purple carrot since that's what I had)
3 Tokyo turnips or radishes, finely diced
1/2 green apple, finely diced, optional (I had it and decided at the last minute to throw it in)
2-3 medium tomatoes, seeded and finely diced (use a variety of color if you have them)
4 6-oz wild salmon fillets
olive oil
kosher salt and pepper to taste

Mash the butter with the herbs and 1 tsp of salt (only if unsalted butter.) Scrape onto a square of plastic wrap or parchment paper and roll up.  Twist the ends to make it look like an old-school piece of candy. (Think Tootsie Roll).  Place in freezer.  (Freeze for up to 3 months as long as it's stored in a ziploc bag.)

Meanwhile, rinse the lentils well and check to make sure there are no little pebbles or sand.  In the bacon fat or olive oil, saute 1/2 the shallots and garlic.  Add the rinsed lentils and saute for 30 seconds then add 2 cups of water.  When boiling, lower heat and simmer until the lentils are done which usually takes about 25 minutes.

While the lentils cook, soak the remaining shallot in warm water and a big pinch each of salt and sugar.  Combine the garlic, sherry vinegar and olive oil with the carrot, turnip and apple or tomato.  Add a lot of fresh black pepper and a teaspoon of salt.  Let stand until lentils are done then add the warm drained lentils.  Taste for salt and pepper and adjust accordingly.

Preheat grill.  While that's happening, brush the salmon with olive oil and liberally sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper.  When the grill is very hot, place the salmon skin side up for 2 minutes or until the bottom 1/8th inch of salmon is opaque and significantly lighter.  Turn gently a quarter of a turn to get good grill marks.  Grill for another 2 minutes. Turn over and grill skin side down for 2 minutes or until both sides have about 1/4' of opaque flesh with the middle of the salmon remaining dark pink.  (If you like it well done, just cook it until it is all opaque.)

Slice off a pat of herb butter to top each salmon fillet then serve immediately over the lentils.

Copyright 2011 Christi Flaherty, TablaVie Cooking Classes

Copyright 2012 TablaVie Personal Chef Service

All photos and recipes may not be used without express permission from Christi Flaherty, owner and creator of Cook What You've Got Concept and blog.
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