Friday, April 30, 2010

Olive Oil Poached Shrimp with Ginger-Tomato Sauce and Avocado and Carrot Salad

        I am always on the lookout not just for recipes but for cooking techniques to share.  I thought we had shrimp completely under control with Ina Garten’s Roasted Shrimp recipe.  The oven roasted results beat any boiled shrimp we’d ever tasted.  We’ll never make shrimp cocktail any other way. 

But here’s a recipe that uses Olive Oil as a poaching liquid and turns out the most tender, beautifully cooked creatures and, if you time them precisely, in 25 minutes you have absolutely exquisite shrimp.   And no, they are not the least bit ‘oily’.  That’s really the only downside to the recipe.  You need at least 17 ounces of the stuff or enough to fill a sauté pan with an inch of oil.  But after I finished, I strained what I’d used, put it back in its bottle and into the refrigerator for re-use.  And, like those ancient commercials for Crisco Oil, I was amazed at how little of the oil had been absorbed.  I had very close to the full bottle I started out with.  

Please don’t use your best Olive Oil for this dish.  You don’t really have to use Extra Virgin.  Just a good bottle of standard olive oil will do.  The sauce is wonderful too.  I served it with a simple Carrot and Avocado Salad.  With the pink shrimp, red ginger-tomato sauce, there was a lot of beautiful color on our dinner table. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A visit to April Bloomfield’s “The Breslin” and a recipe for Lamb Burgers with Yogurt Sauce and Tomatoes

        At The Breslin, April Bloomfield’s much-written-about “British Gastropub” at 16 West 29th Street,(TEL: (212) 679-1939), I  became totally enamored of the Lamb Burger.  It’s almost as outrageously tasty as the “Thrice Cooked Chips” that are as good, if not better, than any French fry I have ever tasted outside of France.  Together, these two items make the long wait for a table a reasonable proposition.  And that’s saying something because the place takes no reservations and even at lunch it’s jammed long before noon.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Roasted Beet Salad with Pecans and Queso Fresco

                              Sang Lee Organic Farms, Southold LI in Early Spring
                   (Special thanks to Karen Lee for sharing her photos.)

I was out on the East End of Long Island last weekend, on the North Fork to be more precise, when I met one of the owners of Sang Lee Farms, Karen Lee.  With her husband Fred, and their three children,   the Lees have run this organic family farm since the 1940s when Fred’s father George and his brothers, Kim Poy and Hugh, started farming Asian produce for New York’s burgeoning Chinatown.  The farm was first “up island” in Melville, later moving to East Moriches.  And to take advantage of the winter growing season, they also farmed in Hobe Sound, Florida.

 It was only in 1987 that Fred moved the business to Southold where the farm now produces a staggering array of over 100 varieties of specialty vegetables, heirloom tomatoes, baby greens, herbs and Asian specialty greens. You can order their produce over the internet at Last time I checked there was baby bok choy available there now.  It looked beautiful when I saw it in living color.  And how wonderful it was to go to the Sang Lee Farm stand and see an amazing array of vegetables this early in the season!  Thanks to Fred and Karen’s extensive greenhouse operation, they are able to open far ahead of any other farm stand around. 

Since I had no company last weekend and wasn’t entertaining, I didn’t go overboard.  I bought some perfect baby carrots, some purple scallions and last, but not least, the most beautiful baby beets.
Now I have a passion for beets. I love the color and the flavor. They’re not at all hard to roast, they pair beautifully with citrus and their sweetness is a great counter-balance to bitter greens.   I don’t remember eating beets at all as a child. I don’t think they were on our approved vegetable list which was on the short side anyway and leaned heavily on frozen peas and frozen green beans.  This may not have been a bad thing because Andrew has nothing but miserable memories of the canned beets he was served as a child and to this day, can’t really jump and down for the vegetable.  However, I’ve been making some progress in getting him to at least try them.  This Roasted Beet Salad has his seal of approval.  Here’s the recipe:

Recipe for Roasted Beet Salad with Pecans and Queso Fresco

1-1/2 pounds medium beets (I used a bunch of baby beets)
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt
1 (5-ounce) package baby spinach
6 ounces Queso Fresco (Mexican cheese) or Goat Cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup pecans, toasted
1 Recipe Vinaigrette (see following recipe)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Scrub beets and trim off stem and root ends. Peel and cut each beet into 6 wedges. Place beets and garlic cloves in 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil and toss lightly to coat.

Cover pan with foil; roast 30 minutes. Uncover and continue roasting 20 to 30 minutes more or until beets are tender.

When garlic cloves are cool enough to handle, remove from roasting pan and peel. Place cloves on cutting board, and sprinkle with small amount of kosher salt. Using flat side of a knife, smash cloves into paste. Add to olive oil in roasting pan. Toss beets and garlic in oil to coat.

Place spinach on large serving platter. Arrange beet wedges over arugula. Sprinkle beets with goat cheese and walnuts. Drizzle with Vinaigrette. Makes 4 servings.

For the Vinaigrette:

In screw-top jar combine 1/4 cup olive oil, 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper. Cover; shake well to combine. Makes 1/2 cup.