Sunday, September 29, 2013

Salmon rollups

Smoked salmon with cream cheese and capers. One of the best combinations of all time. Enjoy it in this convenient form!

8 oz smoked salmon
8 oz cream cheese
3 tbsp capers
black pepper
4 tortillas or other flat breads

Chop the salmon and add the cream cheese softened in the microwave. Blend using a handheld mixer.

Add capers and season with salt and pepper as needed. Spread onto four flatbreads.

Roll up flat bread and refrigerate wrapped in foil.

Slice and serve with a lemon wedge and tomato slices.

Stuffed eggplant

I am a fan of eggplant. Not the type soaked with oil and soggy inside and out. Rather the roasted version, with minimal grease added, combined with flavors of lamb and cinnamon. This particular version is from Turkey: the eggplant of the fainted imam. According to the story, the imam left his wives to prepare a meal from eggplant, and the crazy women put expensive cinnamon in the dish. The imam was so shocked upon his return that he fainted on the spot. Well, you may faint, but not from the wasted cinnamon. The flavors of this dish are simply divine!

1 medium eggplant
1 yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
1 large tomato
100 g of ground lamb
half a green bell pepper
0.25 tsp sugar
0.25 tsp marjoram
1/8 tsp cinnamon
0.25 cup parsley leaves
black pepper
3 oz mozzarella
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds

Wash and cut the eggplant in half, lengthwise. Cut in the inside without piercing the skin into a checkered pattern. Sprinkle with salt and flip cut-side-down onto a paper towel. Allow to drain for 30 minutes. 

Toast the pumpkin seeds in a cast iron skillet. Remove and set aside. Dice the onion into larger pieces, mince the garlic, dice the pepper, chop the parsley leaves, shred the cheese.

Pat the eggplant dry and place onto a baking sheet cut-side-down. Roast at 400F for 20-25 minutes. Meanwhile, caramelize the onions and the pepper in a cast iron skillet. Add the garlic and the ground meat, salt lightly and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the chopped tomato, marjoram, cinnamon and sugar. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 10 more minutes.

Remove the eggplant from the oven, scrape out the soft middle and mix into meat. Add three quarters of the chopped parsley.

Fill into eggplant skins and top with shredded cheese. Bake for an additional 10 minutes. Top with remaining parsley. Serve wit brown rice.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Tomato tart

An idea from a friend resulted in these tasty tomato tarts. Everything depends on the quality of the tomatoes and on sufficiently desiccating them. If your tomatoes remain wet, the product will be soggy.

1 sheet puff pastry
2 large tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp olive oil
3 tbsp goat cheese
3 oz fontina cheese
2 oz parmesan cheese
1 egg
0.25 cup fresh basil leaves

Slice the tomatoes to third-inch slices, salt and place into a colander. Allow to drip for 6-8 hours.

Brush the puff pastry sheet with egg wash. Sprinkle with shredded parmesan. Poke with a fork twenty times.

Bake in a preheated 425F oven until golden brown. Place tomato slices and goat cheese on top. Sprinkle with shredded fontina cheese. Continue baking until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Remove onto cookie sheet and brush with crushed garlic mixed with olive oil. Top with julienned basil. Serve!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Prosciutto and arugula sandwich

Prosciutto is one of the best, if not the best, sandwich meats available in the US. It is dreadfully pricey, but definitely worth the cost for the occasional indulgence.

2 semolina rolls
3 oz prosciutto
1/3 cup arugula
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Slice the rolls in half. Spread with butter and drizzle with olive oil.

Add prosciutto in layers. 

Add washed and dried arugula.

Semolina rolls

Semolina flour is a coarsely-ground wheat flour. I don't use it frequently, but this was a fun application that resulted in a tasty, chewy product.

7 oz all purpose flour
2.5 oz semolina flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup water
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp yeast

Dissolve the sugar in the water and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to bloom.

Meanwhile, mix the flours and the salt. Add the yeast mixture and stir until no dry patches remain. Cover and set aside to rise for an hour.

Form into six balls on a well-floured surface. Place onto a sheet lined with greased parchment paper. Sprinkle the top with semolina and cover with plastic wrap. Store in fridge for 10 hours.

Remove from fridge, preheat oven to 425F. Allow rolls to rise for 30 minutes, then bake for 15 minutes on the middle rack.

Lower temperature to 375F and continue baking if needed to brown lightly. Remove onto cookie rack.

Fish tacos

I had something similar in California. Very refreshing, light yet filling.

2 flour tortillas
1 tilapia filet
0.5 tsp cajun seasoning
1 tsp butter
1/3 cup chipotle coleslaw
2 tbsp peach salsa
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
1/4 lime

Season the fish with the hot spices. Brown in a preheated skillet with butter. Set aside. Wipe the skillet clean. Toast the pumpkin seeds.

 Toast the flour tortillas until lightly browned. Add the fish piece cut in half to the center.

Top with coleslaw, peach salsa, toasted pumpkin seeds. Squeeze a wedge of lime on top.

Fresh peach salsa

I had no idea one could successfully cultivate peaches in Vermont. Apparently, it is possible. A friend of mine had tons of peaches from a single young peach tree, all of them easy to peel, sweet and juicy. As they go from green to rotten in the span of a week, I got to eat and keep a pile as well. When I could not keep up eating them as dessert, I turned the last few into peach salsa.

4 peaches
1 red onion
2 tbsp lime juice
2 jalapeno peppers
1 tbsp brown sugar
0.25 tsp cumin
1 tsp olive oil
2 tbsp cilantro leaves
1 clove garlic

Peel and dice the peaches.

Dice the jalapeno and red onion. 

Mince the garlic and the cilantro leaves. Mix everything together in a bowl.

Refrigerate. Serve with meats, tortilla chips and fish tacos.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Chipotle coleslaw

A delicious, spicy twist on coleslaw. Perfect with fish tacos. The major players are these delicious, hot, smoky, sweet peppers stored in adobo sauce. Sensitive people should use gloves to not irritate their skin when handling these.

2-3 chipotle peppers stored in adobo sauce
1 small head of fresh cabbage (2 cups shredded)
3-4 tbsp mayo
1.5 tbsp honey
1 tbsp lime juice
0.25 cup chopped red onion
0.25 tsp salt

Shred the cabbage.

 Mix the mayo, lime juice, minced pepper, honey, chopped onion and salt. Whisk it until smooth. 

Pour onto shredded cabbage and combine. Cover and allow to rest in fridge overnight.

Heirloom tomato salad

This is tomato season in Vermont. It lasts about a week. Within this week the tomatoes for sale on the market go from green tomatoes for frying to super-ripe, nearly-rotten, sweet heirloom tomatoes. Well, we are on the downhill of the season now, which, like with mountains, happens to be the best part. Tomatoes are colorful, juicy, sweet and actually tomato-flavored. Most people in the US will not have access to such beauties, but once every year. As a member of this crowd, I treasure these moments and savor their fruit every day.

3 large heirloom tomatoes
balsamic glaze
fresh basil
Feta cheese
lemon pepper
sea salt
fresh cucumbers

Slice the tomatoes with an extra-sharp knife. Serration helps here, as you don't want to squeeze the juice out of the tomatoes. The serrated blade bites into the skin easier.

Layer them alternating fun colors, interspersed with sliced, sweet cucumbers. Drizzle with balsamic glaze. Top with Feta, lemon pepper and fresh, julienned basil. Serve with an additional cheese of your choice, if desired.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Dill-caraway rolls

Caraway seeds are a ubiquitous topping for rolls in Hungary. As children we used to pick them off and preferred the plain, salted version of baked snacks. However, a caraway seed managed to hide out here and there, and over time I at least became a fan of the flavor. These rolls are super-soft with a delicate yet pronounced dill, onion and caraway flavor.

1 cup cottage cheese
1 tbsp butter
3 tbsp minced onion
1 tbsp dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water
2.25 cup flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg
3 tsp caraway seeds
1 tbsp dried dill weed

Sautee the onions in the butter. Add the cottage cheese just until warmed through.

Dissolve sugar in water, sprinkle yeast on top. Allow to bloom. Equilibrate egg to room temperature. 

In a large bowl combine flour and salt. Add dissolved yeas, warm cottage cheese, dill, beaten egg and caraway seeds. Stir well, until the dough comes together. Knead dough on a well-floured surface for 5 minutes. It will still be a little sticky at the end.

Allow to double in size in a covered, lightly-oiled bowl. Preheat oven to 350F.

Form eight rolls from the sough and allow to double again on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake until lightly brown. Freeze or serve slightly warm.