Salmon Bisque

IMG_1903I felt like a superhero when I make this dish.  I had worked a long day and got home late.  I would have gone to our “too late to cook” standby – quesadillas – except we just did that the night before.  So I resigned myself to a late dinner and started cooking.  Surprisingly, this didn’t take that long, and was really good, especially for the minimal level of effort and time it took.  Who says women can’t do it all?  Ha ha ha, right.

I feel a little guilty sharing this recipe because it has a lot of cream and butter.  Normally, I have no problem with butter and cream.  I like real food, and would rather have cream than some artificial ingredient.  But this dish has a lot of cream.  Be forewarned.  But then again, it has salmon, which I’m sure more than counteracts the cream healthwise!

Salmon Bisque, adapted from the Los Angeles Times

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c. butter
  • 1-2 leeks (1 large, or 2 small)
  • 8 oz. mushrooms
  • 1 T. minced garlic
  • 2 3/4 c. (22 oz.) clam juice (My clam juice came in 8 oz. bottles, so I used 2 bottles and used water for the remaining 6 oz.)
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 c. chopped parsley
  • 1 T. chopped dill
  • salt and pepper
  • about 1 lb. (or a little more) salmon
  • 2 T. flour
  • 2 c. heavy cream (told you)

Instructions:

1) Wash your leeks.  Leeks are extremely dirty.  Or do what I did and buy pre-washed packaged leeks at Trader Joe’s.  To wash leeks, cut off the green part, then slice the leek lengthwise and run the leek under water, separating the layers to get all the dirt out.

2) Slice leeks, mushrooms, and press garlic.  Melt butter in a large pot, add vegetables and saute until soft.

3) While vegetables are cooking, chop your herbs and set aside.  I advise you to do this now, because you’re going to flip your cutting board to cut the salmon on the other side, to avoid cross-contamination.  You’ll want the herbs already chopped.  (I speak from experience, having flipped my board and cut my salmon, only to realize that I hadn’t chopped my herbs and had to wash the board so I wouldn’t contaminate anything.)

4) Flip your cutting board and cube your salmon into 1/2 inch cubes.

5) When the vegetables are soft, add clam juice, tomatoes, parsley, dill, salt and pepper.  Bring to a simmer and add the salmon.  Simmer for about 5 minutes, until the salmon is fully cooked. (I told you this was fast.)

6) While the soup is cooking, whisk the flour into the cream.  When the salmon is cooked, add the cream/flour and simmer about 5 minutes until thickened.

That’s it!

 

Vegetable Paella

IMG_1834  As promised, here’s my favorite recipe from my Ottolenghi experimentation.  In fact, this may be my favorite dish of all time at the moment.  Vegetarian paella??  Traditionally, paella includes sausage, chicken, and seafood.  Vegetarian and paella seem mutually exclusive.  Except it works.  This paella is so delicious, and pretty easy.

Vegetable Paella, adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty

Ingredients:

  • olive oil
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 red and/or yellow bell peppers
  • 1 fennel bulb (the original recipe calls for 1/2 fennel bulb, but what is the Good Enough Gourmet going to do with the other half of a fennel bulb? I put the whole bulb in.)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 t. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 t. turmeric
  • 1/4 t. cayenne pepper
  • 1 c. short grain rice (I used Arborio)
  • 6 1/2 T. sherry (hey, I didn’t make these proportions up)
  • 1 t. saffron (a must – see my note below)
  • salt
  • 2 c. vegetable or chicken stock
  • frozen peas (1-2 handfuls)
  • about 15 grape tomatoes, cut in half, OR 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • about 5 canned or jarred artichoke hearts
  • 15 kalamata olives (really, counting is not necessary; I’m just the messenger)
  • 2 T. parsley

Instructions:

Before I get into the instructions, a word about saffron.  I have not had good luck with saffron.  Recipes tend to say that a pinch is all that’s needed.  When I use a pinch or two, I can never taste it.  I’ve tried crumbling it, letting it steep in hot water, but I still can’t really taste it.  This recipe calls for 1 t. saffron, which is a lot more than a pinch.  Do it.  Don’t skimp on the saffron.  Saffron is what makes paella delicious.  Buy a small jar of saffron at Trader Joe’s for about 5 bucks.  You’ll end up using most of the jar just for this recipe, but think of how much money you’re saving on the meat and the seafood you’re not buying,

1) Mise en place.  Prep your ingredients so this dish can go quickly.  Chop your onion, press your garlic, cut your peppers into strips and cut the strips in half, slice your fennel into strips.  Measure your spices and put them in a prep bowl.  Measure out your sherry.

2) In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and add the onion and garlic.  Saute until the onion softens, then add the peppers and fennel.  Cook for about 5 minutes, until all the vegetables soften.

3) Add the bay leaves, paprika, turmeric, and cayenne.  Add the rice and stir.  Add the sherry and saffron and boil for a minute.

4) The original recipe calls for boiling the stock in a separate pan before adding it.  The Good Enough Gourmet was suspicious of this, since it seems like a possibly unnecessary step and adds a pan (no longer a one-pot meal!).  I tried it both ways – adding boiling stock and adding cold stock.  Unfortunately, I think the rice cooked better when I used the boiling stock, although it did work when I added the cold stock.  (I would probably increase the cooking time a little.)  Whatever method you choose, add the stock now, and 1/3 t. salt.

5) Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 20 minutes.  Do not cover the pan, do not stir the rice.

6) While the rice is cooking, cut your artichokes into pieces, slice your olives in half, and if using grape tomatoes, cut them in half.  I used grape tomatoes one time and canned tomatoes (undrained) another time — both are delicious.  The canned tomatoes make the paella a little saucier. (The picture above and below are with the grape tomatoes.)

7) After 20 minutes, add the artichokes, olives, tomatoes, and frozen peas (no need to defrost) to the pan.  Scatter them over the rice and stir a little but not too much.  Remove pan from heat, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes.  (I actually leave the pan on the burner, but turn the burner off, so the pan stays warm.)

8) Chop the parsley, and after 10 minutes add the parsley and stir everything together.  Enjoy.

IMG_1836For good measure, below is a picture of the paella my brother-in-law made for us just after returning from Spain.  This is proper paella, made with meat and fish, in a real paella pan.

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Chicken Pot Pie with Sweet Potatoes

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Chicken pot pie on a weeknight? Yes!  I even made my own pie crust, although you don’t  have to.  The Good Enough Gourmet will never judge you for buying the pie crust, although when you see how easy it is to make yourself, you might save yourself a few bucks (and have the satisfaction of knowing exactly what’s in your crust).  The sweet potatoes add a sweetness (no kidding) that keeps the dish from tasting dull.  They also make you feel virtuous since they’re more nutritious than regular potatoes (aren’t they?).

Chicken Pot Pie with Sweet Potatoes, adapted from Dinner A Love Story

Ingredients:

  • Pie Crust:
  • 1 1/4 c. flour
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. sugar
  • 1 stick cold butter
  • 1/4 c. ice water
  • Chicken Pot Pies:
  • 1 c. chicken broth
  • 1 small sweet potato
  • 1/2 c. chopped carrots
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • fresh thyme (a few sprigs)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 c. milk mixed with 2 T. flour
  • 1 c. cooked chicken (about 1 chicken breast)
  • frozen peas

Instructions:

1) If making your own pie dough, do this first.  This should be done in advance, e.g. the day before or in the morning, so it has time to chill (at least 1 hour).  Combine flour, salt, and sugar in food processor and pulse a few times to combine.  Add butter (cut into small pieces) and pulse for a few seconds until the mixture looks like coarse meal.  Add ice water a little at a time, until mixture holds together.  Dump the mixture out onto some plastic wrap, mold into a disc, wrap up, and stick in the refrigerator until you’re ready to make the pot pies.

2) If you’re not using rotisserie chicken, cook your chicken first.  I put 1-2 boneless chicken breasts (depending on their size) in a small Pyrex pan and coat with olive oil and some salt and pepper and bake at 375 for about 20 minutes or so.  It doesn’t really matter how you cook your chicken, as long as it’s cooked when you add it to the pot pies.

3) Preheat oven to 425.  (Or if you’re using your oven to cook the chicken at a lower temperature, just remember to turn up the oven to 425 when you take out the chicken.)

4) Peel and dice your sweet potato, chop your onion, carrot, and thyme.

5) Bring chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan, and add potato, onion, carrots and thyme.  Simmer for about 15 minutes until veggies are tender.

6) Add milk/flour mixture and stir into the vegetables until thick.  Add salt and pepper.

7) Remove from heat, add cooked chicken (cut into small pieces) and peas.

8) Pour the mixture into a pie dish or individual ramekins.  (I have fantastic oven proof bowls – perfect for pot pies!)

9) Roll out dough, cut into circles slightly larger than your pies, drape over the pie and press the edges around the side of the bowl/ramekin/pie dish.  Cut a few slits in the crust.

10) Bake about 20 minutes for individual pies or 30 minutes for a large pie.

Serve, and wait for your accolades!

 

 

Sweet and Sour Eggplant

IMG_1871An easy, healthy (uh, except for the sugar, I guess) meal.

Sweet and Sour Eggplant, adapted from The Shiksa in the Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 Japanese eggplants
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • scallions (optional)
  • 3 T. soy sauce
  • 2 t. brown sugar
  • 2 t. rice vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 t. cayenne pepper (or red chile flakes)
  • 2 t. cornstarch
  • 3 T. vegetable oil (I used grapeseed oil, which has a high smoke point)
  • 1 t. toasted sesame seeds (find them in the Asian aisle of your supermarket)
  • rice

Instructions:

1) Make your rice.  Although I love brown rice, I make white rice with this, in my rice cooker.

2) Cut your eggplant into cubes.  The original recipe asks you to salt the eggplant cubes, leave them for 30 minutes, then rinse and dry them.  I did it the first time I made this and have skipped it since.  I can’t taste the difference so I don’t bother.

3) Make your sauce. Whisk together soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, cayenne pepper, and cornstarch.  Note that the original recipe and every other recipe known to man asks you to dissolve the cornstarch in a little water and then add it to the mixture.  But if you can dissolve cornstarch in water, why can’t you dissolve it in soy sauce and vinegar?

4) Heat the pan until very hot and then add oil.  Add eggplant cubes and cook, stirring frequently so the eggplant doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan, for about 5 minutes.  (If you get your pan really hot before adding the oil, the food you cook will be less likely to stick.)

5) No, I haven’t forgotten about the red bell pepper.  Now that you’ve cleared your cutting board of the eggplant cubes, cut the bell pepper into strips, then cut the strips in half.  When the eggplant is done cooking, add the red pepper strips and cook for another 5 minutes.  Last time I also added scallions, which was a good addition.

6) Lower heat and add the sauce.  It should turn thick almost immediately.  Cook for a minute or two.

7) Serve over rice and sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on top.  Don’t be tempted to skip the sesame seeds, thinking it’s just garnish.  The sesame seeds are delicious on this dish.

Milk Frother

My new favorite gadget/appliance is a milk frother that I bought on a lark at Costco.  You know how you go in for coffee and toilet paper and come out with a milk frother and a television set?  Just kidding – didn’t buy the television…yet.

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Seriously, this wasn’t very expensive (about $40, I think) and it works really well. I love it so much because it makes this:

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Now I have lattes every morning.  Yum!

Glazed Balsamic Sweet Potatoes

By request, I am sharing the recipe for Ottolenghi’s glazed balsamic sweet potatoes.  I have adapted the recipe, as the recipe I followed was British and called for things like caster sugar and spring onions.  Forgive me, it’s been a while since I’ve made this, so I can’t remember exactly how I converted the glaze ingredients – I’m giving you the original recipe proportion and an approximate conversion.

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Glazed Balsamic Sweet Potatoes, adapted from Ottolenghi

Ingredients:

  • 4 small sweet potatoes
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • balsamic vinegar (40 ml – between 1-2 oz?)
  • sugar (20 g – a little more than 1 T?)
  • 12 green onions
  • red chile pepper flakes
  • 6 fresh figs (I omitted this since I couldn’t find them at the time)
  • goat cheese

Instructions:

1) Preheat oven to 425.

2) Cut sweet potatoes into wedges.  (Cut in half lengthwise, and cut each half into wedges.   You can cut the wedges in half if your potato is long.)  Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Put skin side down onto a baking sheet (which I line with foil) and roast for 25 minutes or until soft.

3) Combine balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then simmer a few minutes until the mixture thickens.  Remove pan from heat when mixture is still runnier than honey, because it can’t be drizzled if it’s too thick.

4) Add olive oil to a small pan and saute green onions and red chile flakes for a few minutes.

5) Put roasted potato wedges on a platter, add green onions, and drizzle the balsamic glaze.  Dot with goat cheese and serve.  Can be served warm or at room temperature.

In reference to my last post about Ottolenghi recipes being better (i.e. more time consuming) than Good Enough, I did think it was a bit of a drag to have to roast potatoes, make glaze, saute green onions (3 pans plus a serving platter!) for a weeknight dinner.  But I would definitely make this again for a special occasion.