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I call tibs!

I adore Ethopian food.  I love the warm spices, the communal presentation, and the simple, yet oh-so-complex flavor profile.  Besides, anyone who will present me with minced raw beef combined with fantastic aromatics (most predominantly cardamom) and warm butter is a-okay in my book.  I can not even begin to tell you how many times our favorite Ethopian restaurant has played surrogate chef on those nights where cooking was just not going to happen. 

Here is our typical order: 

  • The aforementioned raw beef dish known as "Kitfo" Special (raw extra lean minced beef seasoned with mitmita, onions, & jalapno with melted cardamom butter) 
  • Gomen be Sega (sautéed collard greens, beef cubes, lamb and ribs with garlic, ginger, onions, and spiced butter)
  • Atakilt (cabbage, carrots & potatoes sautéed with onions, fresh tomatoes, ginger & garlic in turmeric sauce)
  • Salata (tomatoes, onions, romaine, jalapeno, lemon & olive oil)

and what inspired this post....

  • Shrimp Tibs.

When researching what qualifies as "Tibs," I learned that it is essentially meat and vegetables (or just vegetables) that are sautéed.  The dish can range from hot to mild, and might contain little to no vegetables.  Really?  That's about as unhelpful a description as asking a Maine farmer for directions.  That said, the Shrimp Tibs I am accustomed to are shrimp sauteed with bell peppers, onions, tomato and jalapeños in a lightly spicy sauce. 

Last Winter, we had a lovely dinner with lovely friends at a lovely wine bar, and one of the things we ordered was their "Skillet Roasted Shrimp."  As fantastic as it was, it reminded me of something I'd had once before, but something just wasn't quite right.  A few more bites in, it came to me - Shrimp Tibs!  These two dishes needed to fuse!  Of course I had to turn it into a salad, because, well, I love salad.

So without further ado, I introduce to you...Wine Bar Tibs!  No good?  Okay, I'll work on a new title.

Shrimp Tibs with Tatsoi

1.5 lbs. raw shrimp, thoroughly cleaned and deveined
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely minced
3” piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 level tsp. ground cardamom
1 level tsp. ground coriander seed
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. smoked sweet and 2 tsp. smoked hot paprika
enough olive oil to make a paste (roughly 2 Tbsp.)

  • Combine all ingredients (save for shrimp) in a medium bowl.  Mix thoroughly into a paste.
  • In a large plastic bag, gently toss the shrimp with the paste.  Scrape all remaining bits of the paste from the sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula.
  • Let the thoroughly coated shrimp rest for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator (up to overnight).

1 Meyer lemon, cut into 8 wedges
4 medium/large green onions, whites diced up to the nicest part of the greens (yield about ¾ to 1 cup)
1 medium bunch of cilantro, roughly stemmed (some bits of stem can remain, but not the stalks – yield about 1 cup)
½ lb. baby tatsoi, thoroughly rinsed and dried, preferably using a salad spinner (if tatsoi isn’t available, you can substitute miner’s lettuce, baby spinach or any other similar green)
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
4 jalapeños, sliced lengthwise into quarters, seeded (WEAR DISPOSABLE GLOVES!)
4 Tbsp. grass-fed, unsalted butter (split into 3 and 1 Tbsp., respectively)
Healthy pinch of Himalayan sea salt

  • In a large, heavy-bottomed cast iron skillet over medium-low heat, combine 3 Tbsp. of the butter and the sea salt.
  • Add the lemon slices and jalapenos, and allow them to cook 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  When the butter begins to sizzle, turn the heat up to medium.
  • Once the jalapenos and lemons begin to soften, the lemons will begin to release some juice.  This is a part of the sauce, so no worries!
  • Add in the shrimp and gently separate them with a silicone spatula.  Bring heat to medium-high.
  • Add the remaining Tbsp. of butter, the green onions, shallot and cilantro.  Allow all ingredients to cook together for 2-3 minutes, flipping the shrimp once or twice to evenly sear on all sides. AVOID OVER COOKING SHRIMP!
  • Remove from heat and plate all ingredients over the prepared tatsoi.

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are we there yet?

almost_spring_salad.jpg

Sometimes, I feel downright spoiled by where I live. Last weekend, while my friends back East were snowed in, I was enjoying oysters and Bloody Marys by the very waters that said oysters came from, basking in the warmth of the sun.  This weekend, while other bloggers were putting up recipes for delectable braises and stews, I was in wine county.  Seriously?  How spoiled can you be, sipping on beautiful wine, wearing a tank top, in February!?  Oh, and it was pool-side no less.

I never take it for granted, though.

This gorgeous long weekend made me anxious for spring.  So anxious, in fact, that I decided that a big, bright salad was in order.  Our local farmers markets are just starting to bring the first spring onions, so I made sure to grab a few handfuls! 

This salad combines many of my favorite early Spring/late Winter goods.  The buttermilk dressing adds just the right amount of tang, while the smoked salmon and egg make for a very satisfying meal.  Perfectly tangy with a nice hit of salt, this salad pairs beautifully with a bright, lightly effervescent wine such as Anne Amie's Cuvee (2011).  

So join me in a bit of wishful thinking and enjoy this early taste of Spring, regardless of the weather outside!

Kale Salad with Buttermilk Anchovy Dressing

Dressing:

3 large cloves garlic
the zest of one medium organic lemon (on micro plane)
2 medium organic lemons, juiced
1⁄2 cup buttermilk (we used Kalona SuperNatural 2%)
5 anchovy filets
1⁄2 cup grated, packed Pecorino Romano (grated on the widest side of a box grater)
4 egg yolks (pastured eggs if possible)
1/4 - 1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp pink Himalayan salt

• Blend all ingredients on high to combine. Add additional salt or anchovies to taste.

Salad:

2 medium bunches lacinato kale (chiffonade or tear with stems removed, rinsed and drained, preferably with a salad spinner)
1/2 bunch green onion (roots removed and outer layer peeled, thinly sliced)
1⁄4 cup dill, cleaned and stemmed, roughly chopped
1⁄4 cup parsley, cleaned and stemmed, roughly chopped
Smoked wild King salmon - about 1/8th lb. per person
4 to 6 pastured eggs (1 or 2 per person)
1 tsp. baking soda

  • Put cleaned kale in a large bowl and add a decent amount of the dressing (2 or 3 tablespoons). Massage the kale well, until it has begun to soften.

  • Add in the dill, parsley, and green onions. Toss to combine.

  • Fill a medium saucepan halfway with cold water. Stir in the

    baking soda and bring to a boil.
  • When water is at a rolling boil, reduce to a simmer and gently

    add eggs one by one.
  • Allow to continue to simmer for 5 to 6 minutes, depending on

    desired doneness/runniness.
  • Remove from heat and rinse under cold water for 30-60 seconds.

  • Peel eggs under cold running water and set aside.

  • Plate the salads and top with rolls of the smoked salmon, chopped

    herbs and green onions.
  • Top with a halved (lengthwise) soft boiled egg and freshly cracked black pepper. Add additional dressing if desired!

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Who's the Bosc?

My Mom simply adores pears.  Bosc, and only Bosc, was all that she’d bring home.  The same went for apples. Mom ate Fujis, and that was that. She would sit down with a knife and cut slice after slice, eagerly slurping pieces up one after another. I remember time after time I would try to join her, only to be thwarted by the rough texture of the skin on the Boscs (just thinking about it gives me goose bumps). 

When I was older, I came to find a whole world of pear varieties that never seemed to make their way into our grocery cart. From sweet, creamy Comice (which are perfect for this recipe) to tart, crisp Forelles, I found that each variety has its own distinct charm and was worthy of my time and attention. I hope that you’ll do the same.

While I can appreciate my mother’s devotion to the pear in its unadulterated form, I think the pear likes to play dress up. We had a chat.

This recipe was created one evening when my sweet tooth could not be tamed, and I have found myself returning to this simple and satisfying dessert time after time. 

Vanilla Honey Mascarpone

8 oz container of Mascarpone (I use Galbani)
1/8 – ¼  tsp fine pink sea salt (depending on your preference)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp raw honey

  • Combine all ingredients into a bowl. Mix until smooth and thoroughly combined. Refrigerate until ready for use.

Spiced Buttered Pears with Honey

8 small or 4 large ripe pears (when selecting the pears you want them to be soft to the touch without being mushy)
7 Tbsp grassfed unsalted butter (1 tbsp + 6 reserved)
1 heaping Tbsp raw honey
1 Tbsp Vietnamese cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cardamom seeds (from green cardamom - finely ground into powder)
¼ tsp ground clove
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp fine pink sea salt

  • Rinse the pears and cut in half length wise. Use a melon baller to remove core, then remove stem and calyx with a paring knife.  
  • In a large skillet, add 1 Tbsp grassfed butter and melt over low heat.  
  • Once the butter is melted, place the prepared pears cut-side down in the skillet.
  • Keeping the heat low, cook the pears until they begin to soften, making sure they do not brown (roughly 7-8 minutes).
  • Remove the cooked pears from the skillet and set aside.  
  • Add 6 Tbsp grassfed butter into a small sauce pan and melt thoroughly, keeping the heat on low.
  • Once the butter is melted, add the spices, salt, and honey. Over very low heat, stir the sauce rapidly with a whisk and allow to thicken (roughly 2-3 minutes).
  • Place the pears on your desired serving dish and pour the sauce over the pears. Serve with the honey vanilla mascarpone.

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leave the gun, take the cannoli

Living in Northern California, it's easy to become completely enamored with persimmons.  The Fuyus that we have access to poses an otherworldly creamy sweetness, which we eagerly put in everything from cakes to salads.  It's difficult to break away from their siren song but it’s important to shake things up so we decided to play with their squishy brethren. Hachiyas are a completely different ball game. Unlike the crisp Fuyu that can be enjoyed almost like an apple, the Hachiyas must be left to ripen until they are nearly black and so soft and gelatinous that it appears they might turn to liquid at any moment. 

This recipe is inspired by the omnipresent Sicilian dessert that I could never quite get myself to fall in love with. A traditional cannoli is comprised of a thick, deep-fried shell and a nearly pasty filling that is thick with powdered sugar. Add your straight-from-the-jar maraschino cherry, heavy dusting of even more powdered sugar, and chalky, overly sweet chocolate chips, and you have a cloying gut bomb that will send you into a sugar crash so deep that no amount of espresso can save you.

This version, however, is pleasantly sweet and warmly spiced. The thin, crisp shell is a perfect way to showcase the filling (which is light and creamy unlike the aforementioned spackle). Instead of mounds of sugar, the sweetness comes from honey, the persimmons, and just a bit of brown sugar.

This recipe is sure to entice people on both of the cannoli fence, both those who steer clear of the traditional and those who celebrate them. I checked in with my resident Italian, and he liked them so much he didn’t even complain about doing the dishes! Okay, maybe not, but he really did love them.

Brandy snap cannoli shells

tablespoons raw honey, slightly rounded
tablespoons unsalted, grass-fed butter
1/2 cup soft light brown sugar, lightly packed
teaspoons ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Spiced Hachiya persimmon filling

8 oz containers of mascarpone
1 1/2 cup Hachiya persimmon pulp, pureed (approximately 5-6 large persimmons, making sure to remove any skin or seeds)
teaspoons vanilla extract
teaspoon Vietnamese cinnamon
teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
tablespoon raw honey

  • Add all persimmon pulp to a blender and blend until completely smooth.
    Measure out 1 1/2 cups of persimmon puree and add to a chilled metal bowl.
  • Add all remaining filling ingredients to the bowl and mix with a hand mixer until completely smooth (the mixture will begin to ribbon).
  • Refrigerate filling until ready to use.
  • Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
  • In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine butter, honey and brown sugar.
  • Over very low heat, stir ingredients until butter melts and the mixture is well combined.
  • Remove from heat and sift all remaining ingredients directly into the pan. Stir until thoroughly combined.
  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Using a measuring tablespoon, measure out one level tablespoon of the mixture and pour onto the left side of a lined baking sheet. Repeat on the right side. Leave at least 3" on all sides for the batter to spread out. Two cookies will fit on an average baking sheet.
  • Working one sheet at a time, bake for about 6 minutes (you can prep a sheet while one is in the oven). The cookies will be bubbling, begin to slightly darken at the edges and will appear lacy.
  • Remove from oven and place on cooling rack for 30-60 seconds. Using a bench scraper and a spatula (VERY gently), transport the cookies to a piece of parchment on a cool surface.
  • Using a cannoli mold (or any other one-inch metal tube), very gently roll the cookie around the form. Work quickly, as the sugars will begin to harden. Let the cookie rest on the form for 60-90 seconds to retain the cylindrical shape. Set on a cooling rack until all cookies are done.
  • Repeat the above four steps until all batter has been used. Yield is about 10 cookies.
  • Once completely cooled, add filling mixture to a prepared pastry bag. Pipe filling into one end of the cooled shell (filling will reach the halfway point), then pipe from the other end. Serve immediately.

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one tamale two tamale

It was not long into January 1st 2012 that I decided my New Year's Eve of 2013 should be a quiet one.  The charm of big parties, $10 well drinks and girls crying in bathroom stalls was, well, long gone.  We decided that having just a few friends over for a nice dinner, some thrift store board games and a few heavy-handed cocktails (made with booze that doesn't come by the handle) would be a much better time!

Just a few weeks earlier, a friend and her fiancée invited us over for an informal housewarming and dinner.  Her fiancée had been crafting tamales all day prior to our arrival, and we were more than happy to do our share in making a dent in the stash.  Besides the beautiful simplicity of tamales, the fact that you simply cannot just make a few, and the fact that it's much easier to make them when you've got 3 or 4 sets of hands helping, quickly turns this endeavor into a party.  Add in some Trio Los Panchos, a few very long-poured 3:2:1 margaritas (the traditional recipe is here, and we'll definitely be writing an all-margarita post soon) and you've got an afternoon of awesome just waiting to happen!

We decided to adapt one of our friend's tamale filling recipes, as well as make one of our own design.  We paired these two tamales with a wonderful roasted tomatillo salsa, fresh cilantro, sour cream and guacamole.  Please make sure that you read this recipe in its entirety before you start - this is a very time consuming process!  You can make the fillings the day before.  Make sure to have a large stock pot with a large steamer basket and lid (that both fit snugly) ready to go.  Be sure that you leave yourself plenty of counter space and time for this project.  

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Yield - approximately 3 generous cups
4 large Jalapeños, sliced in half and roughly seeded, tops removed
4 large Serrano chiles, sliced in half and roughly seeded, tops removed
1 medium brown onion, peeled and roughly chopped into 1/8ths
5 large peeled cloves of garlic
1.5 lbs tomatillos, peeled (you may want to get a few extra, as you may find that a few are a little beat up under the skin) and halved
2 Tbsp good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 tsp sea salt (I prefer fine pink sea salt, but use whatever you like best - the amount of salt will slightly vary depending on the type and your preference)
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 large, ripe Haas avocados, seeds removed
Juice of 2 limes
1 tightly packed cup of cilantro, stems removed (you can get a little lazy here, but take most of the stems off - it's just going into the food processor)

  • Pre-heat oven to 500° F.  Line a baking sheet with foil (shiny side up).
  • Put tomatillos, both types of peppers, garlic and onion on the baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle salt over the vegetables.  Lightly toss by hand (pro-tip, WEAR GLOVES WHEN HANDLING PEPPERS - THIS INCLUDES CUTTING AND SEEDING, SERIOUSLY) to evenly coat.  
  • Place into oven for 15-20 minutes, checking every 5 minutes or so.  The goal here is to caramelize and lightly char the vegetables.  
  • Once vegetables reach desired doneness, remove from oven and let rest 5-10 minutes.
  • Add all vegetables to food processor, being sure to get as much juice from the baking sheet into the food processor as possible.  This is the good stuff!  I like to use a large, sturdy silicone spatula for this.
  • Add cumin, lime juice and salt.  Pulse this mixture until just combined.
  • Add in avocado and cilantro, then continue to pulse the mixture until you've reached your desired consistency.  I personally like to leave the avocados a little chunky, but feel free to go smoother if you like it that way.  

Better-than-refried-beans (but maybe I'm biased.)

Yield - approximately 2 large cups
1 large can black beans with their liquid (I use Eden Organic black beans, which are BPA and GMO free)
1 generous Tbsp hot sauce (look for something with a good amount of vinegar and heat)
Juice of 1-2 limes (we used one and a half, but these were very juicy)
1/4 tsp sea salt (see the note about sea salt in the salsa recipe above)
1/4 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated (I prefer an aged white cheddar, but bear in mind that it's going to get melted into beans, so don't reach for the Hook's 12 year here - Cabot 14 month aged did the trick for our beans)

  • In a heavy bottomed sauce pan on medium heat, add the beans and their liquid.  Stirring occasionally, cook the beans until bubbles begin to form and the beans start to soften.
  • Add the hot sauce and begin to gently mash the beans with a potato masher.  There should still be some whole beans, but the majority of the beans should be mashed.    
  • Add in the lime juice and salt.  Continue to stir the beans as you add these ingredients.  Bubbles should now be struggling to pop at the surface.
  • Remove pan from heat and add cheese, stirring to combine.  
  • Return to medium heat and rapidly stir.  Mixture will begin to thicken to the consistency of thinned oatmeal.  If you prefer thicker beans, allow them to cook longer, but keep in mind that the beans will continue to thicken as they cool.

Roasted butternut squash

1 large butternut squash, halved, seeds removed
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp sea salt (you know the drill)

  • Pre-heat oven to 425° and line a baking sheet with foil (shiny side up).
  • Place the butternut squash cut side up on baking sheet.  Gently rub the flesh with the olive oil and the salt.
  • Roast in oven until flesh easily comes away with a spoon, about 45-55 minutes (depending on the size and firmness of the squash - you may want to check this every 15 minutes or so).

Chicken Tikka con chipotles en adobo

2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1/2-1 lemon (to taste)
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp raw honey
3 oz (1/2 of a small can) tomato paste
2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo
4 Tbsp Tikka Masala powder (if you don't have a specialty store available, you can make your own.  Recipes vary on amounts and specifics, but the general gist is cardamom, pepper, fenugreek, cloves, cumin, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, nutmeg, chili, turmeric, coriander, fennel and salt)
1/2 cup plain yogurt (organic, grass-fed is preferable, we used Strauss)
1/2 cup half and half (organic, grass-fed is preferable, we used Strauss)
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into quarters (pastured, organic and soy-free if possible)

  • In a small dish, convert tikka powder into paste by adding about 1 tsp warm water (add it little by little, just until there is no dry powder left)
  • In a medium saucepan (not over heat), add chipotles, tikka paste, lemon juice, sea salt, honey, half and half, tomato paste and yogurt.  Whisk to combine.
  • In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add chicken and thoroughly cook.  Allow chicken to cool and shred roughly with two forks.  If you have a standing mixer, place chicken into the mixing bowl and run with the paddle attachment until shredded.
  • Add cooked chicken to the sauce pan and bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally to avoid scorching.  Once simmering for 3 to 5 minutes, remove from heat.

It's tamale time!

1 or 2 large packages of corn husks (only use the real deal - the fake, plastic wrappers are just awful)
3 lbs masa harina
2 quarts chicken stock (NOT THE STUFF FROM THE CARTON!  We used a very gelatinous, homemade stock), warmed
3 cups non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening or lard (we used Spectrum organic palm oil shortening)
3 Tbsp paprika
2 Tbsp sea salt
3 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp cumin
1 lb smoked gouda, shredded
1 lb extra sharp cheddar, shredded
2 oz. silver or reposado tequila, preferably high-end

  • Separate corn husks and discard any torn or heavily blemished pieces.  Trim about 1/2" from the small ends.  Place desired amount of husks into a large stock pot and cover with boiling water.  Use a ladle to gently press husks down as they are covered.  Allow to soak for at least two hours.
  • Mix all dry ingredients until combined.  Add the fat and begin to slowly add in the warm stock, one cup at a time. 
  • Work the mixture by hand until the dough begins to form.  If the mixture is clumpy, keep adding stock.  If you run out of stock, you can add warm water.
  • The mixture will reach the consistency of thick peanut butter.  If it has gotten too thin, add some additional masa.
  • After the husks are soft, remove them one at a time from the water and pat dry with a very clean paper towel.  
  • With the small point of the husk facing you, hold the husk in your hand and spread approximately half a cup of the masa mixture across the husk with a rubber spatula. 
  • Cover about 2/3 of the husk width-wise and 2/3 of the husk length-wise, saving about 1/3 of the length of the husk uncovered at the small point.  Repeat this process on approximately 12 husks.  Pour tequila into cordial glass and consume; at this point, you're going to need it.  (Jim says "You're welcome!")
  • Line the center of the masa mixture with either the Chicken Tikka mix or the butternut squash and beans.  
  • Add a sprinkling of gouda or cheddar to the mixture (we used the gouda with the chicken and the cheddar with the veggie tamales).  
  • Starting on the side where the masa goes to the edge, roll the tamale towards the uncovered side.  Fold the bottom of the tamale up like an envelope.  The tamale should have one open end showing the filling.  
  • Repeat this process until all supplies, or you and your friends, are exhausted.  You'll have about 48 tamales.
  • Tightly pack the tamales into a steamer basket, with the filling facing towards the top.  The tamales need to be packed tight enough so that they do not fall over while cooking.
  • Add water to a large pot (that the steamer basket fits into) and gently place steamer basket into the pot (making sure that no water comes into the steamer basket).  Cover with a tight-fitting lid and bring to a boil.  
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and steam for an hour to an hour and a half.  Ensure that pot still has water and add if needed (you do not want to boil the pot dry).  
  • When done, remove one tamale and let rest for 5-10 minutes.  Unwrap and ensure that no masa is uncooked.  
  • If done, remove all tamales and allow to cool on the counter.  Serve with salsa, sour cream, cilantro, lime and any other goodies that you so desire!
  • Remaining tamales can be wrapped tightly with foil and placed into freezer bags (6-8 to a bag).  Tamales will keep for several weeks if tightly wrapped and kept air tight.  Just re-steam in foil to re-heat!

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