Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Marinades Release Day!

My third cookbook Marinades hits stores today!

I can hardly contain my excitement! With this book, I’m out to prove that marinades are the secret to getting amazing dinners on the table every day. From the introduction:

Wouldn’t you love knowing at the end of a busy day that something delicious and homemade is already started for dinner?

Well, with the investment of just the few minutes it takes to blend a handful of ingredients into a marinade, you can have just that. While you’re out making the most of your day, doing absolutely anything but worrying about what’s for dinner, your chicken breasts, steaks, or chops are hard at work absorbing tons of delicious flavor. Dinner practically cooks itself; you just have to move it to the grill. It’s that easy. It’s that quick. It’s that delicious, and there’s that much variety.

Could this be real? Wouldn’t it be easier to just have takeout? Trust me when I say that marinades are the ultimate in convenience cooking. And yet the flavors are bold and vibrant, as if you slaved all day. Just give it a go for one dinner, and you’ll find yourself making marinated meals night after night and feeling very clever doing it.

The book has a whopping 400 recipes! There are 200 different marinade recipes, and each one is accompanied by an additional recipe showcasing a way to use the marinade to make a complete meal. Other suggested uses are listed as well for more inspiration.

Recipes cover the gamut of cooking techniques from braising to frying to smoking. As you might expect many recipes are for grilling, which is perfect now that the season for outdoor cooking is here. Here’s a little sampling of what you’ll find inside the pages…

Grilled Baby Back Ribs with Asian Plum Marinade.

Chicken and duck are also recommended with this marinade.

Grilled Chicken Breasts with All-Purpose Tex-Mex Marinade.

This is one of my all-time favorites. I use these chicken breasts to make everything from fajitas and quesadillas to tortilla soup to chicken clubs and chicken Caesars. Other suggested uses for this marinade are steaks, fish fillets, shrimp, and scallops.

Grilled Lamb Rib Chops with Curry Marinade.

Chicken, pork, and shrimp are also recommended with this marinade.

Aside from the tantalizing recipes, perhaps what I love most about this book is how user friendly and versatile it is. Tools and marination times are highlighted in recipes in order to give you a sense of how involved they are and how far in advance to get started. A majority of the recipes are for what I call “blend-in-the-bag” marinades: ingredients are measured right into a large zip-top bag and then the food to be marinated is thrown in, making both preparation and cleanup a snap. An Index of Marinade Recipes and an Index of Suggested Use Recipes make it easy to navigate the book whether you’re in the mood for a marinade with rosemary or if you’ve picked up pork chops on special at the market.

I’m proud to say reviewers are enthusiastic about Marinades. LibraryJournal recommends it for “frequent grillers and protein eaters”, and ForeWord Reviews declares, “Home cooks who use this book will be enlightened and invigorated by the possibilities of such a wide variety of ingredients.” Publishers Weekly calls it a “snappy tome…out to prove that an herb or spice soak is more than a flavoring for meat—it’s also a means for simplifying cooking.” Reader reviews on Amazon are equally positive. Perhaps the highest praise is that Kitchen Arts & Letters deemed Marinades worthy of inclusion in their newsletter.

Want more Marinades? Watch me demonstrate a recipe from the book on AM Northwest this Friday between 9:20AM and 9:40AM. Then on Sunday, May 4, join me at the Portland Williams-Sonoma for a demo and tasting.

I may be biased, but I think you’ll find the recipes in Marinades to be inspiring and delicious as well as simple and easy to use. I truly hope you love this book as much as I do!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Fresh from the Farmers Market: Dandelion Greens

Now that spring is in full swing the farmers market is up and running again, and there’s no better place to be. The lush, vibrant produce is so inspiring after the long winter.

If these displays don’t make you get excited about cooking and eating your vegetables, then nothing will.

Of course, there are sweets there too to tempt you as you load up on the healthy stuff.

Eat your vegetables and you earn your dessert, right?

Believe it or not though, I’m drawn to the greens more than the sweets this time. The rainbow of greens.

This day my basked is filled with eggs, kale, chard, arugula, broccoli raab, dandelion greens, red radishes, daikon radishes, a chuck-eye steak, and a pork rib chop.

The Clio Italian dandelion greens were mislabeled puntarelle, which is what gave me the idea for this salad.

Dandelion Greens with Lemon-Anchovy Dressing & Crispy Crumbs
Printable Recipe

1 1-pound bunch young dandelion greens, chopped
3 ounces sourdough bread, torn into pieces
1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 ounce grated Parmegiano-Reggiano
Kosher salt
3 tablespoons freshly squeeze lemon juice
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 cloves garlic, grated
3 anchovy fillets, minced
Freshly ground black pepper

Soak the dandelion greens in a large bowl of ice-cold water for 30 to 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400ºF. Pulse the bread in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. Toss together the breadcrumbs and 3 tablespoons of the oil in a small bowl, making sure that the breadcrumbs are evenly coated. Stir in the Parmegiano and a generous pinch of salt. Spread on a baking tray and bake, stirring once or twice, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until toasted and golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.

Whisk together the lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, and anchovies in a small bowl. Continue whisking while adding the remaining 1/3 cup oil in a thin stream. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Drain the dandelion greens and dry in a salad spinner. Toss together the dandelion greens and dressing in a large bowl and refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes. Arrange the salad on individual plates, divide the breadcrumbs among them, and serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6 as a side salad. This recipe was inspired by the classic Roman puntarelle salad with anchovy dressing. Italian dandelion, like puntarelle and other chicories, has a pleasantly bitter flavor. Use young dandelion greens for this salad and other raw applications as they are relatively tender and sweet. Soaking the dandelion greens in ice water, though not absolutely necessary, leeches out excess bitterness and makes them crisp and succulent.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Seafood, Cheese, and The Rules

The Rules say using cheese in seafood dishes is forbidden. The Rules dictate that the flavor of cheese is too bold and overwhelming for mild, delicate fish and shellfish. Cows and fish are separated by geography and therefore must remain separate on the plate, The Rules will have you believe.

If The Rules were strictly enforced, bagels with cream cheese and lox, Smoked Salmon Spread, crab dip, pizza with anchovies, tuna melts, tuna noodle casserole, coquilles St. Jacques, and even Caesar Salad would be prohibited. Who among us would want to live in a world without those?

The Rules against combining seafood come to us from the Italian culinary tradition, and you know I have great respect for Italian culinary tradition. I’m not saying that so many chefs, home cooks, and nonnas are wrong. But I am saying The Rules are meant to be broken. Cook what you like! Eat what you like, people, no matter what anyone else has to say about it!

So go ahead and fold crabmeat into your fettuccini with Alfredo Sauce and sprinkle grated parm onto your Spaghetti with Seafood Marinara and linguini with clams if you want to! Just be prepared for a few sideways glances from orthodox Italian cooks.

Before I get to a recipe that breaks all The Rules, I have a quick announcement: Leite’s Culinaria is giving away a copy of Flavored Butters. Enter for your chance to win.

Baked Paccheri with Crab and Ricotta
Printable Recipe

2 ounces (½ stick) unsalted butter, diced, plus more for greasing the baking dishes
2 ounces all-purpose flour
1 quart milk
½ small yellow onion
1 bay leaf
1 clove
Generous pinch freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
500 grams (1.1 pounds) paccheri
2 large eggs
1 clove garlic, grated
1 ¾ pounds ricotta
5 ½ ounces grated Parmegiano-Reggiano
1 pound lump Dungeness crabmeat, picked over

Heat the butter in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat until it melts, bubbles, and the foam subsides. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it begins to smell toasty. Whisk in the milk. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, add the onion, bay leaf, clove, and nutmeg, and simmer for 20 to 22 minutes, or until thick. Remove from the heat, strain through a fine mesh sieve, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Let cool.

Cook the paccheri in a large pot of boiling, salted water according to the package directions. When the paccheri begins to soften, using a wire skimmer, transfer it from the pot to a large bowl of ice-cold water to stop the cooking process, and then drain it thoroughly. Layer the paccheri between clean kitchen towels to dry.

Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Butter 8 individual baking dishes. Whisk together the eggs and garlic in a large bowl. Stir in the ricotta, 1 ½ ounces of the Parmegiano, and the crabmeat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip and pipe into the paccheri, filling each one loosely. Divide the filled paccheri among the baking dishes, arranging them in a single layer. Divide the white sauce among the baking dishes and spread evenly. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining 4 ounces of Parmegiano. Arrange the baking dishes on a baking tray and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling around the edges.

Serves 8. The paccheri should be boiled until it begins to soften but not until it is al dente. Undercooking the pasta in this way ensures that it doesn't become too mushy once it's baked. Feel free to substitute manicotti or jumbo shells for the paccheri. This rich dish is best accompanied by a salad with a sharp vinaigrette.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Butter Tasting at West Elm and a Recipe Using Shrimp Butter

Have you tried any of the recipes in Flavored Butters yet? Would you like some new ideas for ways to use them? Well, have I got an awesome idea for you right now! Use the Shrimp Butter from the book to make this Spaghetti with Seafood Marinara.

If that sounds good, I’ll have a lot more ideas for you at my upcoming Flavored Butters event at the Portland West Elm on Saturday, March 15 from 12:30PM to 3PM. Come join me for some butter banter and plenty of delicious samples of recipes from the book.

Chalkboard photo courtesy of Jae Obiniana at West Elm.

I just realized—see that platter and those serving utensils with the pasta? They’re from West Elm! And believe it or not, I didn’t even plan it that way! Goes to show how much I love West Elm style. So it’s a real honor to be invited to do a book event there.

While I’m on the subject of honors, I have to take a moment to say I am so honored that Amherst Bulletin included Flavored Butters in this list of cookbooks that “feed the imagination”. Thank you, Amherst Bulletin!

Now, back to that Spaghetti with Seafood Marinara. Sure you could just throw some seafood into some red sauce and call it good, but add a little Shrimp Butter and a good dish is elevated to an amazing dish, to a dish worthy of the best Italian restaurant. The Shrimp Butter boosts the seafood flavor off the charts. So save up some shrimp shells and give it a try!

Spaghetti with Seafood Marinara
Printable Recipe

3 cups Basic Tomato Sauce
1 pound spaghetti
Kosher salt
1/3 pound jumbo shrimp (16/20 count), peeled and deveined
¼ pound bay scallops
¼ pound squid rings
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons Shrimp Butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ pound small clams
¼ pound mussels
Generous pinch red chile flakes
1/8 pound lump Dungeness crabmeat, picked over
2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley
Grated Parmegiano-Reggiano, for serving, optional

Bring the tomato sauce to a simmer and keep warm. Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling, salted water according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, season the shrimp, scallops, and squid with salt and pepper. Heat a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the butter and let melt. Add the shrimp and a quarter of the garlic and sauté for about 1 minute, or until almost cooked through. Remove the shrimp to a plate. Add the scallops and another quarter of the garlic to the pot and sauté for about 1 minute, or until almost cooked through. Remove the scallops to the plate with the shrimp. Add the squid and another quarter of the garlic to the pot and sauté for about 30 seconds, or until almost cooked through. Remove the squid to the plate with the shrimp and scallops. Add the clams and mussels and the remaining quarter of the garlic to the pot and sauté for about 1 minute. Add the tomato sauce and red chile flakes and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the clams and mussels begin to open. Return the shrimp, scallops, and squid to the pot and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the seafood is just cooked through. Remove from the heat, stir in the crabmeat and parsley, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Drain the pasta when it is al dente. Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to coat. Arrange on individual plates, top with plenty of Parmegiano, if desired, and serve immediately.

Makes 5 to 6 servings. Seafood must be impeccably fresh, especially mussels and clams. Purchase live mussels and clams the day you intend to cook them. When you bring them home, the shells may be open, especially if they’ve been stored on ice. Tap them gently and see that they close; discard any that do not close. To prepare them, scrub with a stiff-bristled brush and de-beard the mussels. Discard any mussels or clams that do not open once cooked. If desired, add a couple of tablespoons of white wine to the pot along with the clams and mussels.
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