Thursday, May 20, 2010

No Recipe This Week

Sorry, dear readers, but there will be no recipe this week. I had been working on pasta sauce with almonds and asparagus, but just couldn't get it quite right. And I couldn't bear to send you off to the kitchen with a mediocre recipe!

Stay tuned for next week. I'm feeling inspired after my new man and I made two cast iron pots of seafood paella last night, accompanied by Spanish cheeses, delicious wine, and an orange-cardamom yogurt cake. We're off to NYC tonight for what I'm sure will be a hedonistic extravaganza. I expect to bring back some good ideas!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Spinach and Sorrel Gratin

I prefer my vegetables unadulterated: steamed artichokes with butter for dipping, lightly salted asparagus spears eaten with my fingers, or spinach sauteed with a drizzle of olive oil. I like simple vinaigrettes for my salads and never eat corn on the cob with butter. But every now and then a dish comes along that gives me pause and makes eschew these basic vegetable preparations for something more elaborate.

A new friend had recently suggested I consider including foraged food in some of my recipes. Brilliant. As a medical student and soon-to-be resident, he pointed out that foraged food was perfect for the student budget because it's free! True, you do need to know where to look and take the time to actually forage, but we can't spend 12 hours a day chained to our desks. That just wouldn't do.

As fate would have it, my mother had brought me a bunch of sorrel this weekend from the Berkshires. Tangy and lemony sour, it tastes like spring. Taking inspiration from my latest culinary obsession Jerry Traunfeld, I adapted his recipe for Spinach and Lovage Gratin to make a healthier spinach and sorrel gratin. Although you can buy sorrel at the grocery store, here is more info on how to forage for it. I love sorrel, but it becomes a rather drab army green when cooked, so spinach is the perfect foil for keeping it bright. The active time for this dish is minimal, about 10 minutes, but you will need to bake the gratin for about 15-20 minutes. I think this would be a nice side to a pasta main course, like last week's Whole Wheat Pasta with Rosemary and Garlic.

Spinach and Sorrel Gratin
serves 4 as a side dish

Special equipment: 4 small ramekins or 4-cup baking dish
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 10 oz bag large leaf spinach
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 T flour
  • 3/4 c 1% milk
  • 1 generous cup chopped sorrel
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 3 T panko bread crumbs
  • 3 T grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375 F. In a saute pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until coated in oil and fragrant. Add spinach and stir until completely wilted (using tongs makes this easier). Remove to separate bowl. Return pan to heat and melt butter. When completely melted, add flour, stirring mixture constantly. The flour will begin to darken just a shade, then immediately add milk, stirring vigorously to dissolve flour and butter. Let milk come to a boil and thicken. Add sorrel and spinach mixture. Toss to coat and then divide among ramekins. Combine remaining olive oil, bread crumbs, and cheese in a small bowl then sprinkle over the top of the spinach. Bake 15-20 minutes or until tops are golden brown.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Whole Wheat Pasta with Rosemary and Garlic

My apologies for the delayed post this week. Five days of epic eating in Seattle will do that to a girl. I ate some truly inspiring meals that made me want to give up my East Coast life and flee West where the oysters are melony sweet. The stand out meal was at poppy, where I was tempted to lick clean every dish of the wondrous thali prepared by chef Jerry Traunfeld. But since being back, I've felt the need to eat a bit more simply and a little bit lighter, Italian sausages at Fenway aside.

Waking up a little hungover this morning (the joys of my pre-med school life), all I've been craving is pasta. I immediately thought of this dish, which is yet another week night staple taught to me by my parents. I'm not typically one to advocate whole wheat pasta, as I love the full-carb bleached white flour version, but this dish is different. The ingredients are so simple that you need the nuttiness of the whole wheat pasta to round out the flavors. My mom recently turned me on to the Whole Wheat Organic Italian Pasta from Fratelli Mantova, which resembles a whole wheat linguine. It's sensational and I would urge everyone to seek it out.

A special thanks to my darling friend Lex for being an eager taste tester over lunch. I love when my friends are free during the day and put up with my propensity to make food too spicy at times.
Whole Wheat Pasta with Rosemary and Garlic
serves 2
  • whole wheat pasta for 2 people (about 2 quarter sized bunches)
  • 4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 t finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/8 - 1/4 t red chili flakes depending on how much spice you can tolerate
  • 4 T olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese for serving
First things first, get the pasta going according to the directions on the package. When the pasta has begun to cook, start on the sauce. Heat a medium saute pan (I use my cast iron skillet) over medium-high heat until warm. Add olive oil. When olive oil is hot and shimmery, but not smoking, add the garlic, rosemary, and chili flakes. Stir constantly just until garlic starts to turn brown and then immediately remove pan from heat. Drain pasta and add to the saute pan. Toss to fully coat in sauce. Serve right away with Parmesan cheese.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cupboard #3

Where: Capitol Hill, Seattle, WA
When: 5:30 PM, Sunday
Who: Melissa & Dan, Sinophile/project manager and physician, foodies
Favorite quick meal: cabbage with a fried egg on top