Sunday, April 24, 2011

Fast and Easy Passover Cooking: Asparagus with Parmesan Butter

Asparagus with Parmesan Butter, outside on our terrace
For those who celebrate, happy Easter! For us Jews, it's still Passover. And, at least here in New York, the weather is finally fully spring. Ozzy and I wandered about, playing in a park for a time, before coming home for lunch. Asparagus is one of the ultimate spring foods. And, lucky me, I had a bunch of it feeling neglected in my vegetable drawer. That decided lunch!

But what to do with it? For seders, we often roast asparagus with matzoh crumbs. But that was far more complicated than what I was after. Also, the vegetarian (who isn't especially fond of asparagus) is in Albany, having a third seder with his family (I couldn't go due to a performance last night) so I was only cooking for one. A quick internet search produced the idea to broil them with some old Parmigiano-Reggiano and butter. I had these alone, but they'd also be delicious alongside some chicken (if you're not kosher, of course). And, if you don't like (or don't have) any asparagus, the butter was like the richest, most delightful garlic butters I've ever tasted. It would be delightful on any other vegetable, matzoh or even pasta or bread. Enjoy!

Update: Jaden at Steamy Kitchen is hosting a Spring Fling whose theme is asparagus! So get your asparagus noshes over to her and celebrate the spring bounty!

Asparagus with Parmesan Butter
adapted from a recipe at Epicurious

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add asparagus and cook 3 minutes. Remove and drain very well.

Meanwhile, cream together (I did this in the food processor because I'm lazy) butter, Parmigian-Reggiano, basil, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Turn broiler on high. Spread asparagus out on a broiler-safe pan and spread butter mixture over them as evenly as possible. Broil 3 minutes. Serve warm. Bon appetit!

Links to other asparagus parmesan butter noshes:

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easy Passover Recipe: Whole Baked Yams with Spicy Molasses Butter

Baked yam with spicy molasses butter
There are several things that keep me from blogging as often as I'd like. The most obvious, of course, is cooking. Truthfully, when the vegetarian and I are both working, we order in or eat prepared meals far more often than I'd care to admit. When I do cook, I make extra food and we reheat leftovers throughout the week. Or if I'm the one with the busier schedule, the vegetarian makes some variation of his signature baked ziti. None of these options are "worthy" of being written up.

When I'm the one making dinner, there are two routes I follow. One, which you see featured here, involves poking through several cookbooks and the internet, focusing heavily on what's local and seasonal, turning the recipe into a balanced meal and, of course, putting my own spin on things to keep you, readers, interested. The other, far less involved cooking, is based upon a perusal of the fridge and pantry and little to no advance planning or shopping. These recipes are rarely innovative or particularly interesting. However, they are tasty, fast and easy to pull together.

These days, I have two strikes against doing any interesting cooking. First, it's Passover, which usually requires more innovative cooking than usual but, when I'm tired and the majority of  the vegetarian's regular diet is made up of forbidden (to Ashkenazi me) kitniyos, it makes reheated leftovers seem ever-more appealing. And, really, how many matzoh brie variations can I give you? Secondly, I'm performing five nights a week in The Family Shakespeare, a fabulous new play (if I do  say so myself). So while I am often starving when I arrive home at night, there certainly isn't time to first start cooking then.

With all that said, I've decided to include a new feature on the blog: Fast and Easy recipes. These are often thrown together, based off of recipes I've found on the internet. They are primarily inspired by ingredients I already have at home, supplemented (to a greater or lesser degree) by any additional shopping the vegetarian or I have been able to complete. Since it is Passover, this one is Kosher for Passover. Though the butter is quite dark and not pretty, it's certainly delicious, especially alongside some matzoh meal polenta. This came about because I realized I had an obscene amount of butter in the fridge and the majority of a bottle of blackstrap molasses leftover from my chunky banana bran muffinsEnjoy!

Whole Baked Yams with Spicy Molasses Butter
adapted from Epicurious

In a food processor, combine butter, molasses, cinnamon, zest, chili powder, salt and pepper until completely uniform. Let rest while you cook the yams.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a large baking pan with aluminum foil. Cut a 1/2-inch deep slit lengthwise down the middle of each yam, stopping about 1 inch before each end. Place on baking sheet and bake 1 hour, 15 minutes.

When cooked, remove yams from pan and, using the slit for help, open up. Spoon 1 tablespoon molasses butter on top and mash well. Bon appetit!

Links to other molasses butter noshes:

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Broiled Edamame with Fennel and Lemon

Edamame with Fennel and Lemon
Last night, the vegetarian and I were able to enjoy a rare mutual night off. Rather than going out, we decided to stay in and cook together! And yesterday was one of those days where you can sense spring trying so very hard to push winter away and fly free. While spring hasn't quite settle down, my cravings for spring produce and lighter, pale green foods certainly have!

Edamame, ready for the oven
This meant, that, after having eaten lots of pastas, composed salads and tea this past (exceptionally busy) week, what I wanted last night was vegetable-based, fresh and easy to make. What I wanted was fava beans. I first encountered fava beans two summers ago when I belonged to a CSA. Never having made them before, I cooked them very simply the first time -- with garlic and oil, if I remember correctly -- and waited patiently, collecting recipes all the while, until I could have them again.

I rediscovered the recipe treasure trove last week and was most 
inspired by two recipes: Grilled Fava Bean Pods on Food & Wine and Potato Salad with Fava Beans and Fennel on Kitchen KonfidenceOf course, I live in an apartment without a grill (although we do have some outside space...) so I devised a way to "grill" using a preheated iron pan and a broiler instead.

But, you're thinking, isn't today's recipe for edamame, Lady A? So why on earth are you going on and on
    Fennel et al., awaiting the Edamame
about fava beans? Because, darlings, The best laid schemes of mice and men/go oft awry. Which is to say that, spring having begun only astronomically and not meteorologically, fava beans are certainly not in season. So I defrosted the frozen edamame we received this month from Winter Sun Farms and made them instead.

Broiled Edamame with Fennel and Lemon
adapted from Food and Wine's Grilled Fava Bean Pods with Chile and Lemon
  • 1 pound edamame pods, defrosted if frozen and spun dry in a salad spinner
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bulb fennel, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges (optional)
Ozzy, looking longingly up at our dinner
Raise oven rack as high as possible, place an iron pan on rack and preheat oven (with pan inside) to 550F. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss edamame with olive oil. When oven is heated. remove pan and turn on broiler. Add edamame to hot pan and place under broiler. Broil 5 minutes, shaking pan occasionally.

Meanwhile, in the same bowl, mix together fennel, green onion, red pepper flakes and kosher salt. when edamame is cooked, add to bowl and toss well to combine. Serve with lemon wedges. Enjoy!

Make it a Meal: As an alternative to your standard grain, try this with some savory oatmeal, prepared like
Edamame, Fennel, Oatmeal and Wine
rice by cooking it in water with olive oil, red pepper flakes and 
kosher salt. Stir in some Bulgarian feta as well, or just have the feta later for dessert. And to drink? I recommend a clean Sauvignon Blanc (ours was from Channing Daughters, of whose Wine CSA we're proud members). Bon appetit!

Links to fennel noshes: