20 April 2018

Magic Sauce and two ways to use it

I can't get enough of this simple tahini-miso concoction, and I've been keeping a big jar of it in the fridge for otherwise uninspired last-minute lunches:

Miso-Tahini Magic Sauce

1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup tahini
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon shiro (white) miso
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon mirin
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon warm water (add slowly until you get the consistency you prefer)

Place everything in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake vigorously until mixed.  If tahini remains clumpy, just stick a spoon in there and break it up.

You can use it as a salad dressing, and I particularly like is as a dressing for coleslaw.  Just toss some cabbage or Brussels sprouts in the food processor with carrot and cilantro and finely chop, add sliced scallions and toasted sesame seeds if you like, and add enough Magic Sauce to coat.

You can also toss it with soba noodles you've boiled along with vegetables (love broccoli) and a little reserved cooking water, then sprinkle chopped peanuts and squirt a little lime juice on top. 

And you could drizzle this sauce over any grain/tofu/veggie bowl you've put together.  Wait, is that three things?And what if you spiked your egg salad with it?...the possibilities might be almost endless. 

13 April 2018

Oaty Rhubarb Bars

Spring is coming, green leaves are shooting up in the area of our rhubarb patch, and we still had a bag of frozen rhubarb from last summer shoved in the bottom of the freezer. Fearing a watery mess if I attempted pie, I tried to gather together as many absorptive ingredients as I could to make the best of it, and these turned out pretty well! I think you could use any frozen fruit in the same quantity, though I haven't tested that theory...

Oaty Rhubarb Bars

Makes about 15 servings

1 1/2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat pastry  flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened sliced rhubarb (thawed overnight and drained)
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 8x8x2-inch baking pan with butter or spray.

In large bowl stir together oats, the 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour, and brown sugar. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside 1 cup oats mixture. Press remaining on bottom of prepared pan. Bake 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in medium bowl stir together granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, and ground ginger & cardamom. Add rhubarb; toss to coat. Spread on hot crust. Sprinkle reserved oats mixture and pecans; press lightly.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until top is golden and filling is bubbly. Cool on rack. Store, covered, in refrigerator up to 5 days. Makes 15 squares.

06 April 2018

Alison Roman's Decidedly Not-Sweet Granola

Cook and food writer Alison Roman has come out with a new cookbook I just can't put down.  It's called Dining In, and it's chocked full of recognizable ingredients combined in some subtly surprising ways.  Recipes are meant to be low-effort (usually) but put-together enough for guests.  Though she lives in NYC these days, Roman's SoCal roots show in her love of fresh produce and the gorgeously sun-drenched photos remind me of summer, or every day I have ever spent in L.A.

As a savory breakfast fan, I got super excited about her recipe for "Decidedly Not-Sweet Granola" in the grains chapter.  She suggests several uses for this: breakfast with yogurt and cucumber, as croutons over salad, and as a snack.  I haven't gotten past the breakfast trick, which has kept me full and satisfied all morning today, and I can't imagine getting sick of it anytime soon.  Plain yogurt + diced cucumbers + this savory granola is her recipe; I added a squirt of lemon over the whole thing, as well.

I also made some adjustments based on what I had in the kitchen, as she encourages.  So, here's the actual recipe:


I had no nigella seeds and didn't want more sesame seeds, as she suggests, so I threw in a scant 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut.  I also skipped the egg whites, because what am I going to do with three egg yolks?  The result is a finer granola that doesn't clump together, but that's fine by me. Finally, I just used plain old crushed red pepper flakes in place of aleppo. I mean, I got them at the tortilleria down the street, so I don't know if they're aleppo or not. Come to think of it, they look similar.

If you're in the market for a new cookbook that is also a feast for the eyes, get Dining In.  It's lovely in every way.  And make this savory granola for something, even if you're hooked on Pop Tarts for breakfast.  I promise you'll happily find a use for it.

30 March 2018

Reliving Crawfish Monica from NoLa's Jazzfest

It's in no way good for you (is any recipe that comes out of New Orleans ever good for you?), but I always crave it when I get close to the Gulf.  After a little reading, I understand why this is the official dish of Jazzfest in New Orleans--it's super fast and easy (and very 80s, which is when it was invented). I can't find decent crawdad tails here in the Rockies so I use shrimp, but you can easily adjust if you're luckier than I (and use a pound of tails instead of the 1/2 pound of shrimp I call for, as they're tiny).

A shot of the real deal at New Orleans' Jazzfest

Shrimp Monica

Serves 6-8

1/2 pound small shrimp, shelled, tails off, and deveined
1 stick unsalted butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
6-8 fresh chives, chopped
1 cup plain milk (any flavor)
1 tablespoon Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning (this should be a staple in your kitchen, anyway)
1 pound rotini pasta + a little pasta water

Set salted water to boil in a large pasta pot. In a large saute pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and chives and cook 2-3 minutes, until softened. Add shrimp and saute for 2-3 minutes until cooked. Stir in milk, then add Creole seasoning to taste. Cook for 10 minutes until sauce starts to thicken. Cook pasta according to package directions, then drain (but reserve a little of the water). Stir pasta into the sauce, adding cooking water a tablespoon at a time if needed. Cook for another 5 minutes on low, stirring often, and allowing pasta to soak up the sauce.