Steamer clams for the stockpot stir memories

Speaking of abundant seafood: A cache of steamer clams narrowly missed their date with my stockpot after a recent weekend at the coast.

Seeing those sturdy shells never fails to remind me of my childhood dining at the now-defunct Moe’s restaurant in Coos Bay, where plastic sand pails of steamers were a staple.

I still adore littleneck clams and mussels, simmered in broth and wine and plucked straight from their shells. Bivalves and other mollusks always seem a bit road-weary in Rogue Valley fish cases, and most in freezer sections are farmed in Asia.

The ones at Chuck’s Seafood in Charleston were particularly fine specimens, harvested in chilly Washington waters, the fishmonger confirmed. Clams will keep, still live, on ice for several days. But I didn’t want to chance purchasing them too far in advance then subjecting them to the road trip home. So I vowed we wouldn’t miss out next time.

Recipes abound for steamed clams, but this one with kimchi recently caught my eye. The addition of sausage would please my husband, a fellow lover of big bowls of mussels and their ilk.

Garlic sausage, listed in the ingredients, may be almost as elusive here as truly fresh seafood. Recipe testers for The Washington Post found it at Whole Foods Markets.
I would choose any good-quality, fresh sausage. Fennel-flavored goes well with the traditional flavor profiles for clams and mussels. The garlic component would be even better achieved with slices of garden- or farmers market-fresh allium.

The Post adapted this recipe from one by Lee Gregory of the Roosevelt, in Richmond, Va., included in “80 Forks: A Cookbook Featuring Richmond’s Most Admired Chefs, Restaurants and Cuisine” (Blunt Objects, 2014).

Photo for The Washington Post by Deb Lindsey

Clams With Sausage and Kimchi

30 to 40 littleneck clams

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

12 ounces to 1 pound fresh garlic sausage

8 ounces kimchi

4 ounces white wine, pale ale, no-salt-added chicken broth or water

Toasted bread, for serving

Place the clams in a bowl of clean, cool water; swish them about for a minute or two, then rinse clams and scrub them with a stiff brush under running water. Discard any that remain open when tapped with a finger.

Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed saute pan or wok over medium heat.

Remove and discard the sausage casings. Pinch off pieces of sausage into butter. Cook for about 6 minutes, stirring to break up sausage, until it loses its raw look.

Meanwhile, puree half of the kimchi in a food processor until the chunks disappear. Coarsely chop remaining.

Add clams to pan or wok, stirring to incorporate, then add the liquid of your choice (wine, beer, broth or water). Cook, uncovered, for 2 minutes, then stir in pureed kimchi and chopped kimchi. Increase heat to high; cover and cook/steam for about 6 minutes or until clams open.

Divide mixture among wide, shallow bowls, discarding any clams that failed to open. Serve hot, with toasted bread. Makes 3 or 4 servings.

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Forget fish sticks; treat kids to spicy, fried fillets

Several months of adventurous eating were bound to run their course.

My 1-year-old son, previously undeterred by most fruits and vegetables, has gravitated to the comfort of white bread washed down with large quantities of goats’ milk. Fairly bland foods don’t make the cut, of course, if their textures are too soft or mealy, as my boy longs to sink his new teeth into all things crunchy and crispy.

Fresh fish, therefore, should be presented battered and fried, according to my mother-in-law. I somewhat reluctantly agreed, eager for my son to consume his portion of local lingcod and rock fish while we visited the coast for Fourth of July.

The fish was so delicately delicious that it really only needed a quick saute in butter, a sprinkling of salt and a squeeze of lemon. But with several nights’ worth of fillets to prepare, we likely would have fallen back on a fish-n-chips preparation anyway.

And my son did show a bit more interest and enjoyment in the meal. Maybe it would have gone over better with a bit more spice in the batter, as my boy’s preference for shrimp only with horseradish-spiked cocktail sauce suggested.

Here’s a fish recipe I’m eager to try on the next coast trip. The presentation inside a lettuce wrap no doubt would please my mom, who orchestrates all the fish fries.

Our favorite seafood market even stocks the rice noodles suggested as an accompaniment and fish sauce to make nuoc cham a simple Vietnamese condiment of one part fish sauce, one part sugar and two parts water, flavored with lime juice or vinegar, minced garlic and chilies.

This recipe is adapted by The Washington Post from “The Little Saigon Cookbook: Vietnamese Cuisine and Culture in Southern California’s Little Saigon,” by Ann Le (Globe Pequot, 2011).

Photo for The Washington Post by Deb Lindsey

Hanoi-Style Fried Fish With Turmeric and Dill

1 1/2 pounds firm, skinned white-fleshed fish fillets, such as monkfish, red snapper or striped bass

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt or kosher salt

3 tablespoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon peeled and minced, fresh ginger root

2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon ground turmeric

1 1/2 cups rice flour

Peanut oil, for frying

3 to 4 ounces dried rice vermicelli noodles

1/3 cup fresh dill, chopped

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce (optional)

1/3 cup nuoc cham

1 lime, cut into quarters

Pickled carrots

12 large lettuce leaves

1 small bunch mint leaves

1 small bunch cilantro

1/2 cup unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts

Cut the fish fillets into 2-inch chunks. Sprinkle pieces all over with the salt; let them sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the fish sauce, ginger, scallions, sugar and pepper in a small bowl until sugar has dissolved. Rub mixture over fish pieces so they are thoroughly coated, then place them on a plate. Sprinkle them with the turmeric, cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Line a baking sheet with several layers of paper towels, then seat an oven-safe, wire rack on top; place on middle oven rack and preheat to 200 F.
Place the rice flour in a shallow bowl. Lightly coat each piece of marinated fish in flour, shaking off any excess.

Pour enough oil into a wok to create a depth of at least an inch (1 to 2 cups; oil will be shallower if you use a large skillet instead). Heat over medium-high heat until oil is almost smoking.

Working in batches as needed (do not overcrowd the pan), add fish and cook for 4 to 8 minutes (depending on thickness of pieces), using tongs to move and turn fish as needed so that it becomes evenly cooked and golden-brown. Use tongs to transfer cooked fish to wire rack in oven.

Boil a kettle of water. Place the vermicelli in a heatproof bowl. Pour just-boiled water over noodles; let them sit according to package directions. Drain, then toss with the chopped dill.

When ready to serve, arrange dilled vermicelli on a platter along with pieces of warm fried fish; the soy sauce, if using, and/or nuoc cham for dipping; the lime wedges; pickled carrots; lettuce; mint; and cilantro. Garnish with the peanuts. Makes 4 servings.

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Fruit-flavored sambal a firecracker of a sauce

Recent recipes for red, white and blue foods that ran in A la Carte relied on fairly mainstream concepts for capitalizing on peak-season berries.

Even the white fish suggested in this blog’s previous post couldn’t be fresher, as proven on a weekend visit to the South Coast. Calm waters have made for excellent bottom fishing locally, and seafood markets were awash in sole, lingcod and other species of rockfish.

One item that isn’t in such stellar supply despite quintessentially fitting into red, white and blue menus, is cherries. The tree in my yard did produce more cherries last month than in previous years, but the quality was poor, and I cut away evidence of widespread bug infestation while pitting the fruit.

This summer’s closure of Sugar Plum Acres’ cherry orchard to U-pickers left fewer options for the fruit locally. And Valley View Orchard’s stock of pie cherries already is sold out.

So while I could dispose of my frozen cherries in a single bang with pie or cobbler, I’m more inclined to stretch them over a few meals that each would gain a firecracker-like pop of flavor from this condiment recently featured in The Washington Post.

Photo Renee Comet for The Washington Post

It starts with home-preserved Maraschino cherries, which could be pleasing enough on their own. The cherries need to macerate overnight in the salted water solution, and again overnight in the sugar-lemon juice solution. The maraschino cherries can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks or canned via the water-bath method for longer storage.

Take the preservation one step further with this fiery, homemade sambal, a commonplace sauce in Southeast Asia. At DC Coast in Washington D.C., it’s served with duck confit gyoza but also could accompany roast chicken or enliven vinaigrettes and Asian-style slaws. The Post advises against using commercially produced, bright-red Maraschino cherries in the sambal.

These recipes are adapted by the Post from Scott Clime, wine and beverage director for the Passion Food Hospitality group, and Miles Vaden, executive chef at DC Coast.

Maraschino Cherries

4 cups pitted (fresh or frozen/defrosted) sour cherries

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 1/4 cups sugar

Juice from 1 lemon

1 tablespoon almond extract

Place the cherries in a shallow, heatproof glass or ceramic bowl.

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine 1 1/4 cups water and the salt. Bring to a boil, stirring until salt has dissolved. Remove from heat; cool for 10 minutes, then pour over cherries. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Drain cherries, discarding liquid. Rinse them under cool water. Rinse out bowl they were in to remove all traces of salt, then return rinsed, drained cherries to bowl.
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the sugar, lemon juice and 1/4 cup water. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and immediately pour over cherries. Cool, then cover and refrigerate overnight; stir cherries once or twice during that time, if possible.

Strain, reserving cherries and letting liquid drain into a small saucepan. Place cherries in a heatproof container with a tight-fitting lid. Bring liquid to a boil over high heat, then add the almond extract. Remove from heat and pour over cherries, making sure they’re all submerged. Cool, then refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Makes 2 pints.

Cherry Sambal

2 cups Maraschino Cherries, drained (see above recipe)

1 tablespoon peeled and finely grated ginger root

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons homemade or store-bought sambal (see NOTE)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed

1 teaspoon kosher salt

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the maraschino cherries, ginger, sugar, sambal, lemon juice, salt and 1 cup water. Once mixture begins to boil, reduce heat to medium; cook for about 20 minutes or until mixture has reduced by about half.

Transfer to a blender; remove center knob in lid (so steam can escape), then place a paper towel over opening. Puree to a pourable consistency. If puree is too thick, add water as needed. If mixture seems thin, return it to saucepan and cook over medium heat to thicken.

Transfer to an airtight container; cool completely before serving or storing. Makes 1 cup.

NOTE: To make basic sambal, combine 7 ounces thinly sliced, stemmed/seeded red and green Thai or bird’s-eye chilies and 1/2 cup water in a pot. Bring to a boil, then cook over low heat for 15 minutes. Drain and transfer chilies to a blender, along with 2 tablespoons plain rice vinegar, 2 peeled garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil. Pulse until finely chopped but not smooth. Add water to adjust consistency as needed.
Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

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Red, white and blue fills holiday bill of fare

A full slate of red, white and blue recipes for the holiday weekend was my intent for this week’s A la Carte article.

But in a scenario that has repeated itself year in and year out at the Mail Tribune, the more copy planned for the print edition, the more advertising fills the pages, which leaves less space for said copy.

So here are two recipes from Ashland Food Co-op, mentioned in the story, that could compose the main and side dishes for Fourth of July. And because it wouldn’t be a celebration without dessert, I’m throwing in a festive accompaniment to fresh raspberries (more red). Zabaglione is only a tad more difficult than whipping fresh cream but worth the effort. And for special diets, it’s dairy-free.

Slate photo

The Italian custard consists only of egg yolks, sugar and some type of alcohol, traditionally marsala. But for summertime, prosecco or another sparkling wine lightens the dish, literally. The carbonation gives zabaglione some extra lift.

The first step takes place over a double boiler (or metal bowl set over a pan of boiling water). Then, after adding the prosecco, take the mixture off the heat and whisk or beat until it cools to room temperature. If you have a stand mixer rather than a hand-held model, do the first step by hand with a whisk and then transfer the custard to the stand mixer.

 

White Fish With Fresh Strawberry and Blueberry Salsa

¼ cup chopped strawberries

¼ cup blueberries

½ medium avocado, peeled, seeded and chopped

2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon chopped, canned green chilies

1 small jalapeno chili, stemmed, seeded and minced (optional)

1 tablespoon chopped scallion

1 tablespoon orange juice

½ teaspoon granulated sugar

½ teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste

4 fillets of favorite white fish, such as cod or halibut

Olive oil, for grilling

Black pepper, to taste

In a bowl, combine the berries, avocado, cilantro, chilies, scallion, orange juice, sugar and salt; refrigerate until ready to use.

Coat the fish with the oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill on 1 side for 4 minutes. Then turn and grill for another 4 minutes.

Serve fish with salsa and fresh spinach. Makes 4 servings.

 

White Bean and Tomato Salad

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 ½ teaspoons sea salt

¼ cup basil leaves, finely chopped

4 large, ripe tomatoes

3 to 4 cups cannellini beans, cooked and drained of excess liquid

½ cup finely diced red onion

4 to 6 cups mixed salad greens, washed and torn

Petals from 4 calendula flowers

12 to 20 borage flowers

In a small bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic and salt; whisk together. Add the basil and whisk for another minute.

Cut the tomatoes into slices and place in a bowl. Drizzle a little dressing over them. Toss gently and set aside.

In a bowl, combine the beans and red onion. Toss well and add all but a couple tablespoons of dressing. Toss to combine.

Place the greens in a large salad bowl. Toss with remaining dressing to lightly coat greens. Spread beans on top of greens and arrange tomato slices around edge of salad bowl.

Sprinkle the calendula petals and borage flowers on top just before serving. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

 

Raspberries With Prosecco Zabaglione

8 large egg yolks

2/3 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

1/3 cup prosecco or other sparkling wine

4 cups fresh raspberries

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Put the egg yolks, sugar and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to combine, then set bowl over boiling water. Cook, beating continuously with a handheld mixer or whisk, until mixture is thick and pale yellow, for 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove bowl from heat, whisk in the prosecco, and continue beating until mixture cools to room temperature, about for 5 minutes. Serve at room temperature or cold with the raspberries. (Store leftover zabaglione in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to a day.)

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

— Recipe from Slate magazine.

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Chicken, cauliflower collide in curried salad

I’m calling out cauliflower for my recent curry craving.

True to form, the cheddar cauliflower in my garden sized up all at once, leaving me with mounds of gorgeous vegetable matter whose very color suggests curry. Cumin and coriander seeds, on my palate, are some of the most pleasing foils for cauliflower. And roasting is one of my favorite ways for enjoying cauliflower, on its own as a side dish or folded into quick pasta sauces or cooked grains.

When I started considering one of my other favorite vehicles for curry, chicken salad, an interesting variation suggested itself. I roasted off some cauliflower in coconut oil, toasting cumin and coriander seeds with it for just the last few minutes. Then I pulled chunks of meat from a chicken roasted the evening before and liberally seasoned it with curry powder, ground ginger, red-pepper flakes, salt and pepper.

The garden gave up spring onions and parsley to mince and add in, along with the roasted cauliflower, golden raisins plumped in sherry and, of course, a healthy dollop of mayonnaise. I served the mixture on lettuce leaves from the garden with garnishes of blanched sugar-snap and snow peas, one of the first ripe tomatoes and toasted, slivered almonds. My favorite packaged naan bread, Stonefire, made a nice accompaniment and could have conveyed the entire dish in a hearty wrap.

The same suggestion arose in a recent Washington Post recipe for curried chicken salad. Now that the weather’s heating up, and perhaps sapping enthusiasm for heavier mayonnaise-dressed salads, this dish’s appeal lies in its lighter dressing of yogurt. And grilling chicken, instead of oven-roasting, helps to keep the house cool.
Although apples provide crunch here, I might swap the out-of-season fruit for mangos, peaches or apricots and add a sweet onion for its crunch factor.

Photo for The Washington Post by Stacy Zarin Goldberg

Grilled Chicken Curry Salad

1 teaspoon mild curry powder, or more to taste

Finely grated zest and fresh juice of 1 large lemon

2 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 pound thinly sliced chicken breast cutlets

1/3 cup nonfat or low-fat plain yogurt

2 tablespoons regular or low-fat mayonnaise

1 large sweet and crunchy apple, cored and cut into 1-inch matchsticks

2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

In a zip-close bag, combine the curry powder, lemon zest and juice and oil. Season lightly with the salt and pepper, then add the chicken cutlets. Seal bag, pressing out as much air as possible; massage to coat chicken completely. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, or refrigerate for 2 hours.

Prepare grill for direct heat: If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-high (400 F) with lid closed. If using a charcoal grill, light charcoal or wood briquettes; when briquettes are ready, distribute them evenly over cooking area. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above coals for 4 to 6 seconds. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames. Brush grill grate.

Place marinated chicken cutlets on grill. Close lid and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until chicken has good grill marks and is almost cooked through. Turn cutlets over, close lid and cook until cutlets are done throughout, for 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool for 15 minutes. Slice each cutlet into 1 1/2-inch-long strips, each a generous ¼ inch thick.

In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt and mayonnaise; season lightly with salt and pepper. Add sliced chicken, the apple and cilantro, stirring to incorporate. Taste, and adjust seasoning as needed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Makes 4 or 5 servings (makes 4 cups).

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Say howdy to new brand of hardwood charcoal

This week’s steak glossary for grillmeisters acknowledged that the size of steaks isn’t just a show of machismo. A thick steak is easier to grill to perfection.

MCT photo

But for backyard cooks who want to infuse their meat with an extra measure of manliness, there’s new fuel for the fire. The image of John Wayne wearing his trademark bandana and hat (and toting a rifle) adorns bags of hardwood charcoal hitting supermarkets this summer.

The oak-and-hickory charcoal has joined a collection of four spice rubs sold under the John Wayne Stock & Supply line, according to a recent story by the Sacramento Bee. The products come from the Fire & Flavor company, in partnership with John Wayne Enterprises (www.fireandflavor.com).

The marketing slogan is simple: “Authentic. Straightforward. Honest. Just like the man himself,” are the words on the bag. And of course, the Duke loved a good steak, grilled to perfection, his son Ethan Wayne, and president of John Wayne Enterprises, states on the product website.

Bee food writers bought an 8.3-pound bag of charcoal for $7, tested it on a Weber grill and reported that it worked just fine. They didn’t weigh in on the spice rubs, so here’s a recipe courtesy of McClatchy News Service based on the quintessential blend from Montreal that steak lovers everywhere swear by.

STEAK RUB

2 garlic cloves, unpeeled

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon dried parsley leaves

1 teaspoon smoked ground paprika

1 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes

1 teaspoon brown sugar

Heat a small, heavy, dry skillet over medium. Toss in the garlic and cook, shaking skillet now and then, until garlic is blackened in spots and soft, for about 10 minutes. Set garlic aside to cool.

Measure the salt into a mortar (or small electric spice grinder). Peel garlic and mash into salt. Mash in the remaining ingredients.
Rub about 1 teaspoon on each side of a steak during the last few seconds of grilling. Also good on pork and chicken.

Makes about 1/4 cup, enough for 6 steaks.

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Roll out fried rice balls for watching football

Now that a week of family wedding activities has passed, the excitement of World Cup soccer is taking over my household.

We shared football fever with some international houseguests for my sister-in-law’s nuptials, in between spa appointments, fishing excursions, pool parties, brunches and Saturday’s big bash. The schedule didn’t leave much time for cooking, or I may have gravitated toward some menus evocative of Brazil’s multiethnic culinary heritage.

Traditional Brazilian food has its roots in home cooking, according to the new book “Brazilian Barbecue & Beyond,” by David Ponté, Jamie Barber and Lizzy Barber. The country’s eclectic flavors originated with its indigenous people, Portuguese colonists, African slaves and immigrants from Japan, Italy, Lebanon and Germany, to name a few.

Black beans, rice, shrimp, pork, cashews and fruit of all varieties are common ingredients. And as the book title suggests, grilling and barbecue are a big part of the nation’s culinary identity.

Sometimes dubbed Brazilian beignets, bolinhos are a mainstay bar snack in Brazil. A Portuguese staple, salt cod flavored the version seen on Anthony Bourdain’s previous food-travel show “No Reservations.” This one from “Brazilian Barbecue & Beyond” smacks more of the Italian arancini with its pairing of rice and Parmesan cheese

Either leftover or freshly made rice can be used. If the rice is too dry, add an extra egg to help it stick together.

MCT photo

Bolinhos

3/4 cup long-grain uncooked rice

1 egg, lightly beaten

4 scallions, trimmed and finely chopped

2/3 cup Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish

1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup flour, plus more if needed

Small bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped

Vegetable or peanut oil, for deep frying

Lime wedges, for serving (optional)

Put the rice in a pan with 1 ¾ cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partly covered, for about 10 minutes, until most water has been absorbed. Remove, cover and let steam for another view minutes. It will be slightly overcooked and sticky, and you should be able to shape it easily. Set aside to cool completely.

To the rice, add the egg, scallions, Parmesan, salt, baking powder, 1/4 cup flour and most of the chopped parsley (all but 1 tablespoon). Mix well and check consistency: It should be stiff enough to shape into balls. If it’s too sticky, gradually add more flour until you get the right consistency. With well-floured hands, roll into walnut-size balls.

Heat the oil in a deep-fryer to 350 F (it should sizzle when a little rice mixture is added to it). Fry in batches for 2 to 3 minutes, until golden-brown all over, then drain on paper towels. Keep warm while you fry remaining batches. (No deep fryer? Use a sturdy pot and cover bottom with about ½ inch oil and fry rice balls, turning them around to brown them.) To serve, transfer to warmed bowls and serve sprinkled with grated Parmesan and remaining parsley, with the lime wedges alongside.

Makes 20 to 25.

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High tea highlights family nuptial celebration

This weekend’s extravaganza of entertaining prominently features high tea.

Served as my sister-in-law’s wedding banquet, the genteel array of finger sandwiches, scones and berries with cream is one Claire enjoyed on numerous occasions as a Marshall Scholar at Cambridge. She introduced her fiancé, Rick, to this not-so-dainty meal, which won over the self-professed picky eater.

My mother-in-law’s contribution are jars of homemade jam and fruit butter, tied up with blue ribbons and crowned with bits of lace. A master gardener, Ann also been tending teapots unearthed at rummage sales and planted with delicate, seasonal flowers.

I can’t wait for it to all come together Saturday evening. Claire had my seal of approval when she asked for local catering recommendations. High tea is one of my favorite food experiences, too.

So in honor of Claire and Rick, here is a recipe for that high-tea staple: chicken salad. With the inclusion of Major Grey’s mango chutney, this one has a decidedly British feel, despite its origin in New York High Society. The Washington Post adapted it from Florence Fabricant’s “The Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center/Park Avenue Potluck: Recipes From New York’s Savviest Hostesses.”

Using a store-bought rotisserie bird makes this fast, summertime picnic fare. But for fresher flavor, cook the chicken at home. Start by trimming four or five boneless, skinless chicken breast halves of visible fat. Season them generously with salt and pepper, and arrange them on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Cover tightly with foil; bake in a 300-degree oven for 30 minutes. Cool before cutting.

The salad can be made and refrigerated a day in advance. Taste, and season as needed (with salt and pepper) before serving.

And for Ann, here is Saveur magazine’s recipe for Major Grey’s Chutney. Maybe next summer we’ll have time to make it.

Chicken Salad for the Ladies

5 cups cooked chicken, preferably white meat, cut into bite-size pieces

Photo for The Washington Post by Deb Lindsey

3/4 cup chopped scallions

Flesh from 1 large mango, diced (1 cup)

1/3 cup Major Grey’s mango chutney

1/4 cup regular or low-fat mayonnaise (do not use nonfat)

Juice of 1 lemon

1 1/2 cups plain, whole-milk Greek-style yogurt

1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

1/3 cup roasted, salted peanuts, lightly crushed, for garnish (optional)

1/3 cup chopped cilantro leaves, for garnish (optional)

In a serving bowl, combine the chicken, scallions, mango, chutney, mayonnaise, lemon juice, yogurt and soy sauce; stir to blend well.
Just before serving, garnish with the peanuts and cilantro, if desired. Serve on lettuce leaves or bread slices.

Makes 5 or 6 servings (7 cups).

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Rice salads lighten summer potluck spreads

A flurry of activity around my house portends the official start of the summer entertaining season. In our case, that’s a wedding-rehearsal dinner for my sister-in-law later this week.

Even if getting the house and yard ready feels like biting off more than we can chew, we fortunately relieved ourselves of cooking by hiring a local food truck-caterer that I admire. Alyssa Warner’s Fresco uses seasonal produce, much of it grown on the property of her family’s Greensprings Inn.

If this was a more casual affair with fewer people, I’d likely be making one of my signature summer potluck dishes. Wild Rice Salad Olivio, the subject of a previous post, always stands out among sundry pasta salads, not least for its wide array of colors and textures but also because the Mediterranean ingredients are a delicious combination.

In addition to their interesting textures and flavors, rice salads are much lighter than pasta salads, as Los Angeles Times food writer Russ Parsons recently pointed out. Additionally, I favor oil-dressed offerings in summer’s heat, over mayonnaise-based ones that are more at risk for spoilage. I agree with Parsons that rice salads are a grossly underrepresented genre.

The most important consideration is cooking the rice, he said. The goal is to get rid of as much of the free starch as possible so the grains are light and separate and not gummy and clumped together.

The best way to do this is to cook the rice like pasta, in a large pot of boiling water. This way, its starch will be diluted and washed away when draining the cooking water.
Cook until the grains are tender but still firm. There shouldn’t be a trace of crunch, but at the same time you don’t want to cook it to mush. Check the ends of the grains. You want to stop before they “explode” out.

Give the rice a quick rinse under the faucet afterward, just to get rid of any starch that remains, and then pat it dry: Spread it on a kitchen towel, cover with another kitchen towel and pat lightly.

While the rice is still slightly warm, season it. Once the grains are cold, they won’t absorb flavor as readily. So add salt, a little olive oil, a jolt of lemon or vinegar.
If you have some cooking liquid from whatever meat or vegetables you’re using — seafood stock, chicken broth or glazing juices from the vegetables — add that too. Cooked meat and can be stirred in right away but wait to add herbs and any soft foods, such as tomatoes or cheese, until right before serving.

Although I’ve always dressed my wild rice salad while still warm, Parsons’ cooking technique is one I haven’t employed. But I will the next time occasion calls for it.
Or I may deviate from my favorite recipe with Parsons’ rice salad, inspired by the classic Spanish dish paella. Of course, the inclusion of seafood makes it more perishable. I warrant it’s so delicious, however, that it won’t sit around long.

Los Angeles Times photo

Rice Salad, Paella Style

Salt, as needed

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 ounces Spanish chorizo, cubed

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 pound mussels in shell

1/4 pound calamari, cut into rings and bite-sized pieces

0.2 gram saffron threads

1/2 cup diced red onion

2 cups long-grain rice, rinsed well

3/4 cup sliced, jarred, roasted red peppers

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 cup chopped parsley

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.

In a skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the chorizo and cook until it begins to brown and render fat, for about 5 minutes. Add the white wine and increase heat to high. When wine is bubbling, add the mussels, cover and cook until shells open, for about 5 minutes. Add the calamari and cook until edges curl, for about 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer chorizo, mussels and calamari to a bowl, cover tightly and refrigerate until needed. Add the saffron threads to liquid in pan and return to heat. Simmer until liquid is reduced by half to about one-third cup.

Place the red onion in a strainer and rinse under cold water to remove some of its “bite.”

Cook the rice as you would pasta: Add rice to boiling water and cook until it is tender, for 10 to 15 minutes. Do not overcook or undercook it; rice should be soft throughout but should not beginning to “explode” at ends.

Line a jellyroll pan with a kitchen towel. Drain rice and rinse it quickly under cool water, then spread it over kitchen towel. Cover with another kitchen towel and gently pat dry.

Transfer rice to a large mixing bowl. Pour saffron liquid over rice, add red onion and stir gently with a wide rubber spatula to coat evenly. Rice should be a uniform golden color. Season to taste with about 1 teaspoon salt and set aside to cool completely. (Recipe can be prepared to this point up to 1 day in advance and refrigerated tightly covered; bring rice back to room temperature before finishing recipe. You may need to add a little olive oil to finish.)

Add the red pepper strips, lemon juice, parsley, chorizo and calamari to rice, and stir gently to mix well. Season to taste. Transfer to a large, flat serving bowl and scatter cooked mussels on top. Serve at room temperature.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

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Baby bok choy grows up in grilled salad

Baby vegetables don’t just make for a cute presentation. Those chef darlings usually are more tender, sweeter and not as watery as their grown-up selves, making them worth unearthing at local farmers markets.

Indeed, baby bok choy was among the produce in particularly good supply last week when I interviewed the Rogue Valley Growers & Crafters Market manager for today’s story in A la Carte. More often sold at their “baby” stage than many other veggies, this cousin of cabbage and cauliflower still can’t match the appeal of carrots, radishes or summer squash for many shoppers. Must be that it’s still pretty watery, even as an immature brassica.

Attempting to remedy that, this recipe calls for caramelizing bok choy’s watery stalks on a grill and serving them with the tender, uncooked leaves. It combines the grilled-salad concept with a more standard approach to dressed greens for a unique dish.

Treating bok choy as two vegetables in one, this recipe starts with instructions for cutting the leaves away from the stalks. When reunited, the still-warm stalks barely wilt the leaves.

Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Grilled Baby Bok Choy With Miso Butter

6 heads (about 1 1/2 pounds total) baby bok choy (may
substitute Shanghai bok choy)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 tablespoons white or yellow miso paste (the darker the
miso, the saltier it will be)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Pinch kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as
needed

Prepare grill for direct heat: If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-high (400 F) with lid closed. If using a charcoal grill, light charcoal or wood briquettes; when briquettes are ready, distribute them evenly over cooking area. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above coals for 4 to 6 seconds. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames. Brush grill grate.

Meanwhile, cut leaves off the bok choy stalks, then cut stalks in half lengthwise. Rinse leaves and stalks well, then shake and pat dry to remove as much moisture as possible. Place stalks in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, blend the butter and miso using a fork, then use clean hands to coat bok choy (all over) with butter-miso mixture.

Arrange bok choy stalks cut-sides down on grill (or grill screen, if using). Close lid and cook for about 5 minutes, until golden-brown on undersides. Use tongs to turn over stalks. Close lid and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until golden and crisp-tender. Be sure to keep temperature moderate so miso butter will caramelize but not burn.

While stalks are on grill, stack bok choy leaves, then roll them tightly and cut them crosswise into thin ribbons (chiffonade). Arrange them on a serving platter as a bed for stalks. Drizzle with the oil and lemon juice, then sprinkle with the salt and pepper.

Arrange grilled bok choy stalks on dressed leaves, which will wilt a bit. Season stalks lightly with pepper. Serve right away. Makes 4 servings.

Recipe adapted by The Washington Post from “Brassicas — Cooking the World’s Healthiest Vegetables: Kale, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts and More,” by Laura B. Russell (Ten Speed Press, 2014).

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  • Blog Author

    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
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