My favorite quarantine recipes Part V

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Yogurt parfait with Granola

After 35 days of isolation, I’ve made 35 different dishes with not much abatement in sight. In fact, my “no recipe duplication challenge” has only just hit 2nd gear. Still so much to cook, eat (and clean up) until New York’s restaurant scene re-emerges.  Here are this past week’s sweet and savory delights.

 

SUNDAY

I cannot begin to describe the most amazing garlicky, gingery, chili aromas that emanate from the kitchen with this all-in-one roast chicken and potatoes, but the fact that it takes nearly 3 hours to do so makes for some very envious neighbors. A great meal for a Sunday night where you have the time to work up a furious appetite.

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Slow roasted chicken and potatoes

SLOW ROASTED CHICKEN AND POTATOES

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 3½–4-lb. whole chicken
  • 1¾ tsp kosher salt, plus more
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 Tbsp. gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
  • ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 heads of garlic
  • 1 ½” piece fresh ginger
  • 1½ lb. baby Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1½” in diameter)
  • 5 scallions
  • 2 limes
  • 2 tsp. honey

DIRECTIONS

Do Ahead: Chicken can be seasoned 12 hours ahead. Chill chicken if you’re not going to cook within 2 hours of seasoning.

Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 300°. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Place on a small rimmed baking sheet. Season whole chicken all over with 1 Tbsp kosher salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper, making sure to season the inside cavity.

Whisk gochujang and 1/4 cup olive oil in a medium bowl until combined. Finely grate 3 garlic cloves (from one of the heads of garlic) into gochujang oil. Peel ginger and then grate into gochujang oil; whisk to combine.

Cut what’s left of the head of garlic in half crosswise. Repeat with the second and third heads as well. Stuff 2 garlic head halves (or individual close if they come apart) inside cavity of chicken. Tie legs together with kitchen twine.

Using a pastry brush, brush half of gochujang oil over chicken.

Toss potatoes and remaining garlic halves and 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil in remaining gochujang oil until well coated. Season lightly with salt and pepper and toss again to combine.

Arrange potatoes in a 12″ cast-iron skillet, scooting them toward edges of pan to make space for chicken. Nestle as many garlic halves (cut sides down) as needed in center of skillet. Stand the chicken on top of the garlic halves—as it roasts, it will infuse the fat (and thus, the potatoes) with flavor. If any potatoes have shimmied their way under the chicken, use tongs to arrange them around it (they won’t cook at the same rate if they’re underneath the chicken).

Roast chicken and potatoes, turning potatoes once or twice to coat in juices and oil that accumulate in pan, until potatoes are very tender when pressed with the back of a spoon, and chicken skin is deep reddish-golden brown in color, 2½–3 hours. When you wiggle the legs of the chicken, they should feel loose in the joints, meaning the meat is fall-apart tender. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and let rest 10–15 minutes.

Meanwhile, use the back of a large spoon or a potato masher to gently smash potatoes in skillet, exposing some of their flesh to juices underneath so they can soak them up.

Finish the potatoes: Thinly slice 5 scallions on a long diagonal. Cut 2 limes in half. Cut 1 half into wedges and set aside. Stir 2 tsp. honey and juice of remaining lime half into potatoes. Taste potatoes and season with more salt if needed. Scatter sliced scallions over potatoes.

Carve chicken, then arrange pieces over potatoes and scallions. Serve right out of skillet with remaining lime wedges alongside for squeezing, and squeeze out the sweet, slow-roasted garlic cloves as you wish. Serves 4-6.

 

MONDAY

It’s pretty hard to intimidate mussels. You can pretty much throw anything at them and they will thrive and survive. This dish has a one-two-punch from a pair of red-pepper sauces that crank the bivalves up 3 notches to a restaurant-quality dish with an impressive “wow” factor. (You’ll want to drink up the sauce when the mussels are gone.)

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Mussels with Harissa and Basil

MUSSELS WITH HARISSA AND BASIL

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 medium-size red bell peppers, halved
  • 1 medium-size white onion, unpeeled, quartered lengthwise
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • 1 small dried Thai chile, stem removed
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 – 4 pounds mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup harissa (depending on spiciness)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup roughly torn fresh Thai basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup Pickled Red Onion slices

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to broil with oven rack in middle of oven. Rub bell pepper halves and 2 onion quarters with 1 teaspoon olive oil. (Reserve remaining onion quarters for another use.) Arrange bell pepper halves and onion quarters, cut sides down, on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil in preheated oven until bell peppers are well charred, about 15 minutes, adding garlic to baking sheet halfway through broiling. Place bell peppers, onion, and garlic in a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature until vegetables are cool enough to handle and bell peppers are softened, about 10 minutes. Remove and discard garlic skins and charred skin from bell peppers and onion.

Transfer bell pepper mixture to a blender; add walnuts, Thai chile, lemon juice, salt, and remaining 2 1/2 tablespoons oil. Begin processing on low speed, and gradually increase speed to high, processing until smooth, about 45 seconds total. Set bell pepper puree aside.

Heat a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high until very hot, about 3 minutes. Add mussels, and shake pan to arrange mussels in an even layer. Pour wine into pan, and cover with lid. Cook, shaking pan occasionally, until mussels begin to open, about 5 minutes. Stir in harissa and butter. Cover and cook, shaking pan occasionally, until mussels are completely open, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and discard any mussels that did not open. Stir in bell pepper puree. Using a slotted spoon, transfer mussels to deep bowls, and pour sauce from pan evenly over mussels. Sprinkle evenly with Thai basil leaves and pickled red onion petals. Serves 4.

 

TUESDAY

I opted to keep things super simple for vegetarian day with these spicy, caramelized roasted yams that enjoy a bright and refreshing lime-flavored yogurt dressing to bring home the sweet, sour, tang and tart in a single mouthful. (The leftovers are great – sliced up in salads).

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Roasted yams

ROASTED YAMS

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 large yams
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red-pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup Greek-style yogurt
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice, approximately 2 limes
  • 2 scallions, both green and white parts, trimmed and thinly sliced, for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Heat oven to 425. Cut the yams lengthwise into 4 wedges per yam. Put them in a large bowl, and toss them with the honey, ½ tablespoon of the crushed red-pepper flakes and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Let it sit for 10 minutes or so, tossing once or twice to coat, as the oven heats.

Transfer the yams to a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet, season with salt and pepper and then bake until they are deeply caramelized around the edges and soft when pierced with a fork at their thickest part, approximately 30 to 35 minutes.

As the yams roast, combine the yogurt, lime juice and remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a small bowl, and whisk to combine, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

When the yams are done, transfer them to a serving platter, drizzle the yogurt over them and garnish with the remaining Espelette pepper or red-pepper flakes, the scallions and some flaky sea salt if you have any. Serves 4-6.

 

WEDNESDAY

Seeing as there was a little gochujang left from Sunday’s chicken, I wrested this quick-and-easy recipe from virtual obscurity which makes a lonely pork-chop, a legend in his own lunchtime.

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Korean grilled Pork Chops

KOREAN GRILLED PORK CHOPS

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/3 cup dry roasted peanuts
  • 3 tblspn canola oil (separated)
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 boneless pork chops, thin cut and trimmed
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tblspn gochujang
  • 1 tblspn orange juice
  • 2 tsp mirin
  • 2 scallions thinly sliced

DIRECTIONS

Use 1 tblspn of the oil to fry up the peanuts until they are golden brown. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with the chili powder and set aside.
Whisk the gochujang, juice and mirin together.
Salt and pepper both sides of the chops.
Broil or fry in a cast iron skillet until well browned (about 4 minutes). Flip over and cook the other side. Smother the chops into the sauce (or pour over them while still in the pan) until well coated on both sides. Sprinkle with the peanuts and scallions. Serves 2.

 

THURSDAY

Who would have predicted that the two scarcest commodities during the COVID-19 pandemic would turn out to be toilet-paper and yeast. I get the fact that we all have to poop, but since when did we all have to bake bread? I mean really! I’ve had the craving for a multi-layered-salami-and-cheese Muffuletta sandwich for some time now, but was determined to bake my own rosemary-lemon loaf. Who knew I would have to reach out to a shady character to score me a few grams of yeast from slightly north of the Mexico border?

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Muffuletta

MUFFULETTA

INGREDIENTS

For Olive Relish:

  • 1 (8-ounce) jar giardiniera (pickled vegetables), drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup mixed pitted marinated olives (5 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup jarred roasted bell peppers, drained
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

For Muffuletta:

  • 1 (1-pound) muffuletta loaf or round ciabatta
  • 6 ounces provolone cheese slices
  • 6 ounces mozzarella cheese slices
  • 8 ounces thinly sliced ham
  • 8 ounces thinly sliced capicola
  • 8 ounces thinly sliced mortadella

DIRECTIONS

Combine giardiniera, olives, bell peppers, parsley, capers, and garlic in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Place mixture in a bowl; stir in oil and vinegar. Let stand 1 hour; cover and chill up to 2 days.

Cut bread in half horizontally. Tear away some of the soft bread interior to make some room for the fillings. Spread half of olive relish over bottom half of bread; top with half of cheese, all of the meats, and then the remaining cheese. Spread remaining olive relish on top half of bread, and close the sandwich. Wrap entire sandwich tightly in plastic wrap, and weigh it down slightly. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours. Cut into 8 wedges. Serves 4.

 

FRIDAY

Dumb question: Who doesn’t like fried chicken? But one of the many reasons I adore this 18 year-old recipe, is that even though the chicken cooks in the oven, the buttermilk and garlic brine is an iron-clad insurance policy that guarantees moist and tender breasts. You can pair this with any slaw, but I happen to love this red one.

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Oven fried Chicken

OVEN FRIED CHICKEN

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 pints buttermilk
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup rustic Cajun rub (I prefer Emeril’s classic)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

DIRECTIONS

Add the garlic, buttermilk and chicken to a zip lock bag and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the Cajun spices with the flour in a bowl. Discard the garlic and buttermilk and dip each chicken breast into the flour mixture to thoroughly coat on all sides.
Heat the oil in a medium sized skillet on medium heat. Gently fry each breast for only 2 minutes on one aide. This step is purely for color. Using a spatula and tongs, very, very gently flip them over for another 2 minutes, taking care not to lose any of the fragile crust which is still very soft. Carefully transfer the breasts to a wire rack set over a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 25 – 35 minutes until they reach 165 degrees. Serves 4.

RED CABBAGE SLAW

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons celery seed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 head red cabbage, cut into roughly 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 2 small carrots, grated
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup golden raisins

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar and sugar until dissolved. Slowly whisk in oil, celery seed, salt and pepper to taste. Toss in cabbage, carrots, red onion and raisins to coat well. Cover and let sit at least 1 hour. Serves 6.

SATURDAY

I dare you to throw away that old sweet and sour shrimp recipe you’ve been hanging onto all these years. It’s not as if it ever tasted remotely like the real thing anyway. This gem comes from a cooking class I attended in Hong Kong by a former Cantonese restaurateur who bragged that she had served over 500,000 of these during her career. (For a healthy alternative, substitute cauliflower rice for regular Jasmin).

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Sweet and Sour Shrimp

SWEET AND SOUR SHRIMP

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Tbslpn cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup onion cut into strips
  • 1/3 cup pickled carrots
  • 2 Tblspn pickled ginger
  • 1/4 cup fresh ginger, julienned
  • 2 Tblspn garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1lb shelled and deveined shrimp
  • 1/2 red chilli pepper cut into strips
  • 1/2 green chilli pepper cut into strips
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp HP sauce
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 tspn salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp potato starch
  • 4 spring onions cut into 1 1/2″ lengths on the bias
  • Sesame oil

DIRECTIONS

Stir the vinegar, sugar and the 3 sauces in a jug until well combined. Set aside.
Heat a wok over medium-high. Add the cooking oil and stir fry the onion, fresh ginger and garlic for 1 minute. Add the shrimp and toss for another 1 – 2 minutes.
Add the chilli peppers, pickled carrots and ginger. Keep tossing the ingredients. Add the sauce mixture and cook for about 3 – 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
In a small ramiken, dissolve the potato starch in the water and add to the wok to thicken. Remove from heat and add the spring onions and a dash of sesame oil. Toss once or twice more and serve immediately with rice. Serves 4.

 

BONUS RECIPE

Don’t you find that most Granola’s are nothing more than stale, brown crumbs and sawdust? After the endless additions I’ve made over the years, this one has become somewhat of a signature. But be warned, even though this insanely nutty Granola is intended for yogurt, fruit or ice-cream toppings, it is also a dangerously snackable snack. Keep out of reach of adults.

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Insanely nutty Granola

INSANELY NUTTY GRANOLA

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup unsalted shelled pistachios
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • ⅓ cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup raw pecans
  • 1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup roasted hazelnuts (chopped in half)
  • 2 tspn salt
  • ⅓ cup dark molasses
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil
  • ¾ cup dried sour cherries

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 300. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, pistachios, coconut, pumpkin seeds, almonds, sunflower seeds, pecans, hazelnuts and salt.

In a small saucepan set over low heat, warm the oil and molasses until just combined, then remove from heat. Fold liquids into the oat and nut mixture, making sure to coat all the dry ingredients well.

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, and spread the granola over it. Flatten and smoothe to an even layer. Bake until dry and lightly golden for about 30 minutes, stirring around halfway through.

Remove granola from oven, and allow to thoroughly cool. Mix in the dried sour cherries and transfer to a storage container. Makes 6 cups.

 

Stay safe. Stay sane, but most importantly – stay inside!

Surprisingly sensational summer secrets

screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-3-46-48-pmBest-selling novelist Barbara Kingsolver penned the phrase: “Cooking is 80% confidence”, but for whatever reason she never got around to divulging the rest of the equation. So if it were me I would add: “… and 20% reading”, i.e. if you can read – you can cook! But there is a distinction between faithfully following a recipe, and creating something entirely new, inspired by your memory, guided by your tongue or compromised by the limitations of your grocery cabinet.

There are two reasons why I seldom (never) post recipes on my blog:

  1. I don’t want rogersdigest to turn into a re-publishing link for recipes that have debuted elsewhere.
  2. If I happen to invent a dish, a large part of me wants it to remain a secret.

What to do?

Well, maybe it’s the weather or maybe I’m just in a curiously generous mood, but I thought I’d share a couple of surprisingly successful – yet simple dishes that have come dangerously close to “hit” status this past summer.

The first comes in the form of a challenge I frequently set for myself – whereby I try (with mixed success) to recreate a dish I’ve recently enjoyed in a restaurant. Using the smattering of ingredients they list on the menu (rarely the whole story) and my ability to decipher the proportions (with varying accuracy) in the hopes that eventually I might get lucky. This creamy, yet ridiculously light and refreshing rendition of a Cucumber Gazpacho is within sipping distance of its original from the Little Beet Table on Park Avenue.

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Cucumber Gazpacho

Cucumber Gazpacho – Serves 4

  • 4 large cucumbers
  • 1/2 cup green, seedless grapes
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened, unflavored almond milk (if you can’t find unsweetened, then leave out the grapes)
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • 3 – 4 Tblspn white wine vinegar (to taste)
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • ½ cup roasted Marcona almonds for serving (or for snacking while you cook)
  • 1 Tblspn Chili oil (optional but highly recommended) *
  1. Peel, seed and roughly chop the cucumbers. Discard the peel and seeds. (Did I just write that?) Add the first 6 items to a blender (i.e. stop before you get to the salt) and puree thoroughly until smooth. Season with salt and feel free to juggle extra vinegar, salt or grapes to balance the sweet:salt:sour ratio. Don’t stop until you’re happy.
  2. Use a spatula to press through a fine sieve into a large bowl to remove all the solids.
  3. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours until well chilled. (If you don’t have 3 hours don’t add ice cubes. Leave the mixing bowl in the freezer while you’re making the soup.)
  4. Divide into serving dishes and toss in a few Marcona almonds. Dribble a few sparse freckles of chili oil on top and serve immediately.

* You can make your own chili oil by adding 1 Tblspn crushed red pepper flakes to ½ cup olive oil. Simmer over low heat in a small saucepan until fully absorbed for about 20 minutes. Strain and discard the chili flakes and let the oil cool to room temperature before using.
This shamelessly simple, down & dirty but delicious Crunchy Caramel Peaches was the result of a desperate think-outside-the-cereal-box moment when a crowd showed up with an unmistakably “what’s for dessert?” look on their faces. In less than 6 minutes, I whipped up whatever I could find before it became the most frequently requested dessert of the season.

 

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Crunchy Caramel Peaches

Crunchy Caramel Peaches – Serves 4

  • 2 ripe peaches
  • 2 Tblspn butter
  • 1 Tblspn Dulce de Leche *
  • Vanilla Ice-cream
  • Granola (The nuttiest one you can find. i.e. full of nuts – not crazy! See recipe below)
  1. Halve, pit and dice the peaches. Discard the pits. (There I go again.)
  2. In a large skillet at medium-high heat, melt the butter and sauté the peaches until they soften slightly and begin to caramelize, about 5 minutes. (You’ll know you’ve gone too far when they start to disintegrate and you have the makings of peach marmalade in your pan. If so, discard and start over at #1.)
  3. Add the Dulce de Leche and continue to cook, stirring constantly until well blended for about a minute.
  4. Dollop a healthy spoonful of the peach mixture over one or more scoops of Vanilla ice-cream, and top with a handful of granola. Serve right away.

* Don’t use Caramel sauce or the sugar will crystalize. If you can’t find Dulce de Leche, you can either curl up in a corner and weep for 20 minutes, or you can make your own by boiling an sealed tin of condensed milk submerged in a deep pot of water for 2 hours. (Oh, and you might want to remember to top up with extra water as it evaporates from time to time or the tin will explode. Trust me. I’ve done it before. Took nearly 2 months to clean up the mess. And let the tin cool completely before you open it, or you will have 2nd degree burns and stalactites of molten caramel dripping from kitchen ceiling. #notfun, #betterthingstodowithmytime)

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Have you ever noticed on the label how much sugar they add to store bought granola? It’s insane! And not surprisingly, the better they taste -the more sugar/syrup/honey they add. And those that are supposedly “good for you” just have insipidly dry, boringly beige oats. For me, granola has to be choc full of rich, dark, brown, sticky clusters of nuts, so that when you make your way through the crunchy deliciousness, you get a mélange of flavors from hazels and pecans and almonds and pistachios with every bite.

This recipe comes with a strict warning: Keep out of reach of habitual in-between-meal snackers, or you’ll have nothing left for breakfast!

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Sugar-free nutty Granola

Sugar-free nutty Granola – About 12 servings, depending on whether you lock it away or not

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup raw coconut flakes (unsweetened)
  • 1 cup pistachio nuts that are roasted, unsalted, shelled and talented
  • ½ cup roasted hazelnuts chopped in half – big pieces, not crumbs
  • ½ cup raw pecans
  • ½ cup raw almonds
  • 1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tspn salt
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup Blackstrap molasses (see, no sugar/syrup/honey here)
  • ½ cup dried tart cherries
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Combine the first 9 ingredients (all the dry stuff except the cherries) in a large bowl.
  3. Warm the oil and molasses in a small saucepan and stir constantly until combined.
  4. Pour the liquid over the dry ingredients and stir well. (Except the cherries. That comes later.)
  5. Spread the mixture evenly onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a latex baking mat.
  6. Place in the center rack of the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  7. Stir the mixture around and return to the oven for another 15 minutes.
  8. Allow to cool completely. This is where everything becomes nice and sticky so don’t rush this part. Go do something else. Read a book. Binge watch House of Cards. Practice the piano. Vacuum the drapes.
  9. Evenly distribute the tart cherries into the granola as you pour it into an airtight container. #yum.

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https://www.thelittlebeettable.com/