Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Broccoli with Crispy Bread Crumbs and Lemon

Broccoli with Crispy Bread Crumbs and Lemon
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate by Mari
Yields 4 servings

The recipe is from Mark Bittman's Book "How to Cook Everything"; he named this recipe "Breaded Sauteed Broccoli", I simply renamed it for my own files.
There are two ways of making this dish ~ with egg so the crumbs adhere better, or without egg... you'll still have the crispy crumbs, but they won't necessarily stick to the veggies, the choice is up to you.

As Mark states in his book:
"Whether the bread crumbs stick to the vegetable is not all that important, because you'll get the crunch no matter where the bread crumbs wind up, but for the prettiest presentation, use the egg."

1 pound broccoli or cauliflower (about 1 medium head), broken into florets of any size, 
All purpose flour for dredging (optional)
2 or 3 eggs, lightly beaten (optional)
1 cup bread crumbs, preferably fresh ~ I used coarse Panko (Japanese, air dried bread crumbs)
4 tablespoons butter or olive oil (may need a little more than this amount)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Lemon slices for serving

Parboil vegetable florets in a pot of salted water until just crisp-tender,  remove from boiling water and immediately plunge them into a large bowl filled with ice cubes and water to stop the cooking. Remove and allow to drain. Dab excess water off.
For the version using egg:
Roll each floret in the flour, then dip in the egg, then in the bread crumbs.
For the non-egg version:
Roll the pieces in the bread crumbs, pressing gently so they will adhere.

Place butter or oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  When butter melts or oil is hot, add the broccoli or cauliflower a few at a time, don't crowd the pan.  Adjust heat so the bread crumbs brown on all sides without burning, sprinkle with salt and pepper as they cook.

Well all of the florets  are browned and tender (about 8 to 12 minutes, depending upon size, and heat of the pan), remove to a heated platter, taste one and add more salt  & pepper if necessary.  Serve with slices or wedges of lemon to be squeezed over by each diner. 


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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Shrimp Toasts ~ Chinese style

Shrimp Toasts
From the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate by Mari
Yield:  About 2 dozen small, or 1 dozen larger toasts

You may have enjoyed these at your favorite Chinese restaurant. Sometimes I serve them alongside a non-traditional "Chinese" Chicken Salad.  They make also are a delicious warm appetizer  to accompany your favorite cold beverage, or hot tea.  The traditional version is fried ~ but you can also bake them (to eliminate some of the calories.)

6 slices white sandwich bread
1/2 pound fresh prawns, or raw frozen (thawed), cleaned and de-veined
8 water chestnuts
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons 'dry' cocktail sherry (not cooking sherry)
1 small egg, lightly beaten (may substitute 1 egg white instead)
2 green onions (scallions), both white and green parts
Sesame seeds
Optional: fresh cilantro sprigs/leaves for garnish

For fried version:  Flavorless cooking oil, or peanut oil
For baked version only:  1/4 to 1/3 cup melted butter 

Leave bread slices out on a tray or baking sheet to dry for two hours.  Meanwhile, cut green onions, including green tops into 1-inch lengths. In the bowl of food processor fitted with the metal blade, process green onions until coarsely chopped. Add egg (or egg white), cornstarch, sherry and salt ~ process for 2 to 3 seconds.  Add water chestnuts and process with on-off pulses until coarsely chopped. Add shrimp and process with on-off bursts until finely chopped, and no large pieces remain; mixture should have a paste-like consistency.  Refrigerate, covered until ready to use, or if bread has already dried proceed immediately.

For fried version:  Trim crusts from bread and cut each slice into four squares, or cut diagonally from corner to corner to make 4 triangles. Alternately (for larger toasts) cut each slice of bread in half.

Spread prawn-mixture on one side of the bread pieces covering the entire surface, mounding slightly in center. Sprinkle sesame seeds and paprika on the filling, pressing lightly so they adhere to the surface of the mixture.

Heat oil in a deep-fryer or pot, (OR a heavy skillet with oil to a depth of a little over 1-inch deep).  When oil is hot, gently drop prepared bread pieces, shrimp side down, into the oil. Fry for about 30 seconds, then turn and fry on other side for another 30 seconds.  The cooking time is only an estimate, depending upon temperature of the oil. Both sides should be golden colored. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels, serve hot.

Make ahead tip:  Fry the prepared bread pieces only until they reach a light beige color, drain, cool and freeze in airtight container. To reheat: Preheat oven to 350* (F), place frozen toasts on a cookie sheet and heat for 12 minutes.  If toasts are already thawed, reheat for 5 or 6 minutes. Toasts will become a deeper brown as they bake.

For baked version: Remove bread crusts and brush melted butter on both sides of each slice. Spread shrimp mixture on one side of each slice, brush shrimp-mixture surface lightly with additional butter or unflavored vegetable oil.  Sprinkle surface of shrimp with sesame seeds and paprika, pressing gently to assure they adhere. 

Cut each slice of prepared bread twice on the diagonal to make 4 triangles.  Place on baking sheet (for easy clean-up, line baking sheet with baking parchment or a silicone baking mat.)
Make ahead tip: At this point you can cover with plastic film and refrigerate for up to 8 hours.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375* (F). Bake uncovered for 10 minutes, or until bread is toasted. Watch carefully as oven temperatures vary ~ half-way through baking time I usually reduce oven temp. to 350* and allow them to bake a little longer. Beware, these can go from 'just golden' to 'dark brown' in a matter of moments. Serve hot.


For either version, I like to garnish with fresh cilantro.  I always serve these toasts with a small bowl of hot mustard for dipping.  For the hot mustard: Combine Coleman's dry mustard with a little cold water, adding water gradually to reach consistency. Mix in a few drops of vegetable oil to make mustard glossy, and prevent it from drying out.

I hope you enjoy!

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Shallots, Bacon and Hazelnuts

Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Shallots, Bacon and Hazelnuts
As shared from the kitchen of 'Once Upon a Plate by Mari'
About 4 servings (generous 1/2 cup each)

About 2 cups Brussels Sprouts
1 or 2 shallots
1 or 2 strips bacon
Toasted Hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Optional finishing drizzle:
Olive oil
Vinegar of your choice

Soak sprouts in a large bowl of salted water for 10 minutes to an hour before cooking them (to eliminate any debris or insects). Drain and rinse well with cool water.

With a small sharp knife trim stem ends, and discard any bruised or damaged leaves.

Parboil sprouts in salted water (until just barely tender), then immediately plunge them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking ~ drain well, then cut each in half.

No recipe needed for the remainder,  just a description:

For about 2 cups of Brussels Sprouts ~ snip a slice of two of bacon crosswise into thin strips, cook over medium heat until as crispy as you like. Remove the bacon pieces and set aside to drain.  If you don't mind cooking in bacon fat, continue from here (if not, drain and wipe the pan, then add a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter.)

Add peeled and sliced shallots (as many or as few as you would like.)  Cook slowly, over medium-low heat until they are tender. Remove the shallots and set aside.

Toss the Brussels Sprout halves in the pan over moderately high heat,  allowing them to turn just lightly browned, shaking pan frequently so they do not burn.  Add a little more butter if you like and add the caramelized shallots, and bacon back into the pan to heat everything through. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black paper.

Plate up and sprinkle with chopped, toasted Hazelnuts (or any toasted nut you prefer.)

You can drizzle with additional olive oil and a little vinegar (almost any type) if you like, to pique the flavor a bit.

These make a fabulous side dish for any roasted or grilled chicken, fish, or meat.


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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Clementine Ice (Granita)

Clementine Ice (Granita)
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate
Makes about 3 cups

With a micro-plane grater remove the zest (colored part only) from one medium size Clementine. Place the zest in a small pan with 1 cup of water and 1/2 cup sugar (or scant 1/2 cup Agave syrup).  Or sweetener of your choice, adjusting amount according to how sweet you prefer.
Heat mixture until hot but not boiling, stirring once or twice.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  When cool stir in  1 and 1/2 cups Clementine juice,  plus 1 to 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Pour mixture into a flat, shallow container, cover with cling film and place in freezer.  Allow to freeze until mixture begins to freeze around the edges.  With tines of a fork scrape and mix, bringing the frozen parts to the center of the container. Return to the freezer and repeat this process a couple of times after mixture begins to freeze again.

When the juice has frozen throughout it may be served immediately, or scraped the fork once more, covered tightly and served within a day or two for best flavor and quality.

I hope you enjoy! ~ Mari

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Monday, February 7, 2011

Vegetable Frittata with Italian Herb Blend

One of the meals I make when it appears as if there is little to eat in the house is an egg based frittata (essentially a flat, baked omelet.) It's a great way to use up bits of vegetables, some cheese and/or meat (either are optional.) ~ Add a green salad and perhaps serve with toast, garlic bread, or warm rolls and you have a satisfying meal in minutes. It's budget friendly and perfect for times when the pantry and cupboards seem bare. I like the fact that they can be served hot, warm, or at room temperature ~ and a slice is a great snack any time of day or night. Frittatas are perfectly portable as well,  sometimes I'll make one to take along on a picnic, when it has cooled I cut and wrap individual portions ~ add some fruit, a baguette, your beverage of choice and you're all set for a nice al fresco treat.


You're probably familiar with how to make a frittata ~

Here's how I make mine:  I start mine in an oven-safe skillet (well seasoned cast iron works great). A smallish pan for a few portions, larger if you have a crowd to feed. 

Select and cut the fillings, whisk up some eggs (I always just estimate the number of eggs, you need enough eggs to just cover the ingredients in the pan), add Ariosto seasoning of choice (or herbs and salt and pepper.) 

Melt about a tablespoon or so of butter or olive oil in the medium-hot pan, add the filling/s to the pan to heat. When hot pour in the beaten, seasoned eggs, give the pan a shake or a stir to distribute the eggs evenly around the filling and while still on the heat, allow the mixture to just begin to set. Transfer the pan to a 350* oven (middle rack) and bake until just firm. Usually 10 to 20 minutes, (the amount of time will depend upon the size of the pan, density of ingredients, etc.) Best baked until firm, but not over-done or the texture will be rubbery.

 Optional:  A couple of minutes before the frittata is done baking sprinkle some cheese on top (your choice of cheese, or cheeses)  place back in the oven until cheese is melted and bubbling.
If you like you can place the pan under the broiler element for a couple of moments to give it a nice golden finish.


Vegetable Frittata with Italian Herb Seasoning

For the filling I generally use cooked vegetables; any kind you wish. Of course if you choose to use something like scallions/green onions, tomatoes, baby spinach, etc. ~ those need not be cooked. If using cheese, you can add it to the beaten egg mixture before pouring it over the filling, but this can cause the frittata to stick.  To prevent this I usually sprinkle a light layer of cheese on top during the last few minutes of baking. 

This time I had left over, cooked, whole potatoes so I peeled them (optional) and sliced them about 1/4-inch thick. For extra flavor and texture I  lightly browned them in a skillet with a combination of half olive oil and half butter.  As they were browning, I sprinkled them generously with Ariosto Seasoning for Potatoes*, a delicious herb blend imported from Italy. (Alternately you could roast the potatoes; generously drizzle a shallow rimmed baking pan with olive oil and toss the potato slices in the pan to coat, then dot liberally with butter and sprinkle with  the herb blend, place in hot oven until as crisp and brown as you like ~ turning once or twice so they brown evenly.)

Usually I add some herbs to all frittatas, but the enticing aroma from this particular blend of herbs actually brought compliments from everyone in the house as the potatoes were cooking! *

*Herbs, not spices, No preservatives
Sea Salt, garlic, rosemary, sage, juniper, basil, marjoram, oregano, laurel (bay), coriander and parsley. 

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