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July 31, 2006

Portobello Mushroom and Zucchini "Souvlaki"

This is one of those serendipitously inspired recipes. I was wandering around the supermarket, thinking that something vaguely Greek would be nice for dinner, when I happened upon a pile of portobello mushrooms. The idea for this recipe popped into my head. It's a bit of a stretch to call this souvlaki - I believe the term refers to grilled meat. But it's not entirely unlike those souvlaki sandwiches you sometimes get in Greek restaurants.

The recipe came out really well. Mr. Spaceling made me promise to blog it so that I would be sure to remember how to make it again.

The Ingredients

We used Sabra baba ganoush, which is by far our favorite commercial baba ganoush. (Actually, our favorite baba ganoush, period. While I can make a decent hummus, all of my previous attempts to make baba ganoush have been staggeringly unsuccesful.)

The Steps

  1. Put the mushrooms, zucchini, and garlic into a medium-sized bowl. Add juice of 1/2 a lemon, oregano and pepper to taste, and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat.
  2. Allow vegetables to marinate for 15-20 minutes. (I recommend using this time to put together a simple Greek salad of cucumber, red bell pepper, olives, tomato, and feta.)
  3. In a large skillet (the larger the skillet is, the easier it will be to get your mushrooms and zucchini nice and browned), heat a bit of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms/zucchini mixture, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are cooked through and lightly browned. Season to taste with additional salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
  4. Serve the vegetable mixture stuffed into pitas and topped with baba ganoush, if desired, along with the Greek salad.

Serves about 2.

Posted by spaceling at 10:14 PM

July 15, 2006

Spicy salami and poached egg salad

This is another recipe adapted from the British food magazine Olive. I adapted quite a bit, though. The original recipe called for chorizo (which in Britain always means Spanish-style chorizo, which is a hard cured sausage, not Mexican-style chorizo, which is a soft fresh sausage), softboiled eggs, and rocket, as well as for croutons made from ciabatta.

Since it's hard to find Spanish-style chorizo here, I substitued a really nice red pepper fennel salami from the Columbus salami company. It's like one of their regular salamis, only coated on the outside with red pepper and fennel seeds. Yum.

I also swapped poached eggs for the soft-boiled eggs, added tomatoes, and used a salad mix containing mache in place of the rocket. (I like rocket, a.k.a arugula, but I just felt like mixed greens.)

The Ingredients

The Steps

  1. Make the dressing by whisking together the mustard, olive oil, and lemon juice until it's blended.
  2. Put about 1 inch of water in a deep skillet with a lid. Bring to a boil, add the vinegar and some salt, and turn down the heat until the water is just lightly bubbling.
  3. Working one at a time, crack each egg into a shallow bowl and then slide it into the water. Cover the skillet and cook for about 3 minutes. (I like my poached eggs with rather runny yolks, so go about 5 minutes if you want the yolks cooked a bit more.)
  4. While the eggs are cooking, divide your greens and tomatoes between 2 plates. Arrange 4 slices of salami on each plate. Season with a bit of freshly ground pepper.
  5. When the eggs are finished, remove them from the water with a slotted spoon, and place one egg on each salad. Drizzle with the dressing and serve.

For poaching the eggs, I used the technique from Mark Bittman's trusty How to Cook Everything. They were not the prettiest poached eggs I've ever seen - they spread out a bit and were a bit ragged around the edges. But they were perfectly cooked, and I could probably get them a bit prettier with practice. One thing I learned is that it's important to be very gentle when you're slipping the egg into the water - any momentum you impart to that egg is just going to make it spread out more.

This recipe makes a great quick summer supper - it's light, it's easy, and it's different enough to be interesting.

Posted by spaceling at 09:14 AM | TrackBack

July 11, 2006

Puy Lentil Salad

I adapted this recipe from a recipe in the British food magazine Olive, which accounts for some of the measurements being in metric. If I'd been thinking about blogging while I was making the recipe, I'd have stopped to work out what 225 g of lentils is in cups, but I didn't. Maybe about 2 cups? At any rate, I think the proportions in this recipe are pretty flexible - add more of things you like, and less of things you don't, and it'll come out fine.

This is a handy recipe to help use up some of the basil that one always seems to have too much of at this time of year if one is a gardener or an enthusiastic patron of farmers' markets.

The Ingredients

The Steps

  1. Pick over and wash the lentils. Put them in a pot, add water to cover by ~2 inches, bring to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender but not mushy.
  2. Meanwhile, put the onion slices in a large bowl and toss with the juice of 1 lemon. Let the onions marinate while the lentils cook.
  3. Prep all your other ingredients while the lentils cook
  4. When the lentils are done, drain them if necessary. Add them to the onions. Stir in the peppers, sundried tomatoes, remaining lemon juice, mozzarella, and basil. Add olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste.
  5. To serve, put a handful of greens on a plate, and top with the lentil mixture.

When I was making this, I was a bit worried that it didn't include any instructions for cooling the lentils, and I was worried about serving up piping hot lentils on top of salad greens. Turns out I needn't have worried. By the time you've stirred everything together, and gotten your proportions of olive oil and seasonings right, the lentils are just pleasantly warm.

This would probably lend itself to some nice variations - for example, with feta in place of the mozzarella, or cilantro in place of the basil.

Posted by spaceling at 07:17 AM | TrackBack

July 09, 2006

Fish Tales

So, I went over to the San Jose Japantown farmers' market today, and what did I spy? A stand selling fresh seafood! (Fresh Catch Seafood was the name.) I knew then that fish would be on the menu for dinner tonight.

I hit the other stalls and picked up some fruit, some tomatoes, and some fresh basil, and then hit the fish stand. The seller recommended the halibut, caught just off Santa Cruz yesterday. They were also selling wild salmon, and scallops, along with a couple of cooked seafood dishes.

I got a pound of halibut, and chatted for a while with the sellers. Unfortunately, they told me they may not be back to the Japantown farmers' market, because they're not doing much business there. The customer base is apparently not primed to appreciate wild-caught seafood. (As I was coming in to the market, I overhead the seller explaining to a potential customer, "See, the stuff in the grocery store that's $6.99 a pound is farmed salmon. This is wild salmon, which is better...." I don't think the customer was buying it.)

However, the seller did tell me that they regularly go to the Willow Glen farmers' market on Saturdays. And they gave me a business card, and told me to give them a call if I wanted something special, and they'd try to get it for me. I'd say they know a thing or two about customer service. (Either that, or they just appreciated having one customer who already knows why wild-caught salmon costs twice as much as farmed.)

I baked the halibut en papillote, using a recipe (originally for salmon) from Mark Bittman's Fish: on a sheet of aluminum foil, put down a slice of tomato. Top that with some chick peas and minced fresh basil. Put a serving of halibut on top, and top that with more basil, chick peas, and another slice of tomato. Drizzle it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and fold up the foil into a packet. Repeat with your other pieces of halibut, and then bake everything for 15-20 minutes, until the fish is done.

Fish en papillote is one of my favorite ways of cooking fish - the fish is guaranteed to stay moist (unless you overcook the hell out of it), and it's so much fun to open up the little packets at the table.

It was some very fine halibut. I think I'm going to be making a trip to the Willow Glen farmers' market when I next want fish.

Posted by spaceling at 10:22 PM | TrackBack