Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Great Hamantaschen Challenge

Two actors living together means one thing: when both of us are working, regular meals are few and far between. Thankfully (and alas) that is currently the case. So, while I'm looking forward to making some broccoli from our frozen CSA, I'll have to wait another week.

While I'm waiting, however, I wanted to pass along some information about a hamantaschen contest Mom is sponsoring over on her blog, Beyond Brisket. Unfortunately I'm late to post the contest (sorry, Mom!) but it's open until April 1, so, if you made some delicious hamantaschen this year (or if you want an excuse to make some more), write the recipe (or just filling idea) in the comments to her post, or simply include a link to your own post about the filling if you have a blog. Happy baking!

From Beyond Brisket:

I’m throwing down the gauntlet. What is your best hamantasch filling idea? Send us your recipe (and include an anecdote or other special note to go with it if you have one) in the Beyond Brisket comments section below. The winner, to be announced on April 1 (April Fool’s Day), will receive an autographed copy of my book, Jewish Holiday Cooking in plenty of time, I might add, to try out some of the recipes for Passover.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pepper, Bean and Cheese Arepas

Pepper, Bean and Cheese Arepas
Last night, the vegetarian and I were looking forward to venturing up to Harlem for some soul food from Melba's, but, unfortunately, they were totally booked. How disappointing! (Luckily we called first.) 

Since we had promised ourselves a culinary adventure, ordering in was certainly not an option. I decided instead to cook--something easy, tasty and interesting that we could both make together. Inspiration began with one of my favorite cooking tomes, The Best International Recipe, a collection of (very detailed) International recipes by Cook's Illustrated Magazine (who are also the exceedingly helpful and knowledgeable folks behind America's Test Kitchen. I stumbled upon the section on arepas, Venezuelan stuffed corn cakes, and quickly decided that was what we would make. Since I'd never made arepas before, I followed the recipe to the T and was thrilled by how easy and delicious they turned out. If you've only ever had mozzarepas at street fairs, you're missing out!

But one of the best things about arepas is that they're really little sandwiches that you split open like English muffins and stuff with whatever you desire. So it was with the filling that I could play around. I chose beans and cheese, a traditional Venezuelan filling called domino. But I didn't want it to be too heavy and I wanted to incorporate a little sweetness, so I added some bell peppers. Ta-da! Because I used canned beans, the filling didn't require any cooking, making this ideal for a casual weeknight meal. Enjoy!

Pepper Bean and Cheese Corn Cake Filling
(adapted from The Best International Recipe)

  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 4 ounces Monterey jack, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 tablespoon Himalayan salt
  • 1/4 tablespoon pepper, freshly ground
  • 8 freshly made arepas
Pour beans into a large bowl. Mash well with a potato masher (with his superior arm strength, this was the
Pepper, Bean and Cheese Filling
    vegetarian's job). When beans are mashed into a paste, add bell pepper, cheese, cilantro, onions, lime juice, chili powder, salt and pepper. Set aside while you make arepas. As soon as the arepas are out of the oven, pry them open using two forks and a knife and stuff each one with about 3 tablespoons of filling. The warm arepas melt the cheese beautifully. Any leftover filling can be heated for another meal.

    Make it a meal: Why tie yourself down to one cuisine? Serve this with bok choy instead of a salad. To drink? I recommend beer: John John Dead Guy, to be precise. And for dessert. raspberries. Bon appetit!

    Links to other bean and corn noshes:

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011

    Roasted Rosemary Tofu

    Roasted Rosemary Tofu with Salsa Verde
     So sorry for the extended silence! We just returned from an absolutely fabulous weekend in Florida (my first time!) for my cousin's wedding. We swam, went to the beach, saw alligators in the Everglades, ate hibachi, danced and enjoyed some sun and warm weather--two things we were beginning to think were just figments of our imagination.

    But now we're back in New York, where it's still stubbornly winter and I see I have yet to write up the 
    recipe for the tofu variation of last week's Roasted Rosemary Cod. Enjoy!

    Roasted Rosemary Tofu

    • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
    • 1 lb. firm tofu
    • 1 skewer fresh rosemary
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1 sprig fresh thyme
    • 2 tablespoons salsa verde
    Cut tofu in half height-wise, wrap in a clean towel and place on a plate. On top, place a colander or bowl filled with a couple of bottles or boxes (I use a bottle of olive oil and a box of kosher salt). Press for at least an hour.

    Warm a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add peanut oil. Swirl around pan. Unwrap pressed tofu and salt and pepper each side. Place tofu in pan. Pan-roast for 7 minutes. Flip over, reduce heat to medium, and add rosemary leaves, butter and thyme. Cook another 5 minutes. Remove from pan and serve with
    Rosemary and Tofu
    salsa verde.

    Make it a meal: We also had this with pearl barley, spinach, and Beaujolais Nouveau. For dessert: tangerines. Bon appetit!

    Links to other Rosemary Roasted Tofu noshes:

    Sunday, March 06, 2011

    Roasted Rosemary Cod

    Rosemary-Roasted Cod with Salsa Verde
    Lately I've been wanting fish. Maybe it's the recent spate of warmer temperatures. Either way, last week, I 
    Cod, Roasting in the Pan
    kept thinking about cod. Cod is thick, rich, buttery and difficult to overcook. Because by itself it has a quiet flavor, I like pairing it with more pungent tastes like rosemaryEven though it grows year-round, I associate rosemary's loud flavor with winter. It marries surprisingly well with fish, so I decided to cook it with the cod, grounding the dish in winter although it's certainly on its way to spring. Just like the weather these days. Next post will be the tofu variation. Enjoy!

    Roasted Rosemary Cod
    (adapted from Craft of Cooking)

    • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
    • 1 lb. skin-on cod fillet
    • 1 skewer fresh rosemary
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1 sprig fresh thyme
    • 2 tablespoons salsa verde
    Warm a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons peanut oil. Swirl around pan. Salt and pepper both sides of cod fillets. Place them, skin side down, in pan. Pan-roast about 7 minutes. Flip over, reduce heat to medium and add rosemary leaves, butter and thyme. Cook another 5 minutes. Remove 
    Rosemary-sprinkled Cod
    from pan and serve with salsa verde.

    Make it a meal: We also had this with pearl barley, spinach and Beaujolais Nouveau. For dessert I had some sottocenere and we each had a tangerine. Bon appetit!

    Links to other Roasted Rosemary Cod noshes: