Ingredients & Recipes

My Favorite Yogurts

All my favorite yogurts are organic. They are made in small batches from organic farms.

The cows feed on grass, hay, grains, which produces milk that is better for your heart and tastes better.  The grass on which they graze has not been treated with chemicals. The cows have not been treated with hormones or stimulants.

The milk is pasteurized, but not homogenized so the cream is on top. The taste is superb and superior.

I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes.

The best things and best people rise out of their separateness; I’m against a homogenized society because I want the cream to rise.

— Robert Frost

I eat half a cup of yogurt every day.

If eaten sans sugar, yogurt is probiotic, which means it replaces the good bacteria in your intestines.

I add ½ teaspoon of cinnamon.  Cinnamon has been give credit for lowering the cholesterol and acting as a natural inflammatory.  After eating ½ teaspoon of cinnamon every day for several months, my blood test revealed that my triglycerides had taken a dive.

The yogurt brands I like are:

  • Maple Leaf Creamery
  • Hawthorne
  • Erivan
  • Butterworks

I buy them at Fairway, Gourmet Garage, Whole Foods and Farmers Markets.

Roasted Plum Tomatoes

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Roasted Plum Tomatoes are delicious and versatile:

  • As a side to broiled or pan roasted fish.
  • In pasta dishes.
  • Also good to eat with mozzarella or for goat cheese and tomato crostini or in a sandwich.
  • As a flavor enhancer when added to vegetable soup.
  • You can also put them through a food mill for a smooth tomato sauce.

So great to have Roasted Plum Tomatoes on call to use in a variety of dishes. They last for one week in the frig.

You can still find local plum tomatoes at the farmers markets and the price is right. You may not even have to let them ripen this time of the year.

Roasted Plum Tomatoes © Karen Lee 2013

  • 12 ripe plum tomatoes, washed and dried
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt mixed with 1/8-teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, sliced, green stem removed if any

Drizzle a small amount of olive oil in a stainless steel skillet or a shallow roasting pan. The skillet you choose should be big enough so the tomatoes have a little space between them.

Slice the tomatoes in half lengthwise with a serrated knife and put them in the skillet cut-side up. Do not over crowd. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt and cayenne. Insert a sliver of garlic in each half.

Roast at 300° for 1-3 hours or until they have shriveled a little, are soft, and are a little brown on the bottom but still holding their shape.

This recipe can be adjusted to a small amount or a large amount of tomatoes. The more tomatoes you have in the oven the longer they will take to finish roasting.

Halibut Oreganata © Karen Lee 2013

In my Saturday April 20th cooking class we made:

Halibut Oreganata

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Braised Fava Beans with Herbs

I added this dish to the menu at the last minute when I saw fresh organic Fava beans on the second floor of Fairway).

Sautéed Asparagus with Ramps

I found the ramps at Citeralla much to my surprise.  That saved me 3 hours round trip by not going to the Union Square Market.  Ramps really made the dish, they are so sweet.  I describe them as a cousin to leeks, only much more tender.  They are in season just 3 weeks out of the year and the time is now.

Halibut Oreganata

Wild caught from Canada and purchased from Pisacane (51st and First Avenue, 212-758-1525 ask for Paul) was glistening and fresh as can be.

Pasta with Arabiata Sauce

We used fresh and canned tomatoes.  Best tomatoes right now are Tasti Lee.  I buy them at Gourmet Garage. They are grown in Florida.  Let them ripen a day or two at room temperature.

Linzer Cookies

 

Halibut Oreganata © Karen Lee 2013

  • 1 pound of halibut, not more than one to 1¼ inches thick, skin off

Topping

  • 1½ Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. sliced garlic, green stem removed
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped shallots or cipollini or combination of both
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • A few grindings of black pepper and a pinch of cayenne
  • ¾ tsp. dried oregano (preferably wild-harvested)
  • 3 to 4 Tbsp. of bread crumbs (brioche roll, cubed then pulverized in Cuisinart)
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped parsley

Final Seasoning

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Garnish with snipped chives (optional)

Preheat oven to 425º.

Dip halibut in a bowl of cold water for one second then dry well with paper towels.  Place the fish in a metal roasting pan that has been rubbed with olive oil or in a skillet that just fits the size of the fish (or a little larger).

Place a small sauté pan over low heat for one minute.

Add the 1½ Tbsp. of olive oil and heat slightly.

Add the garlic and sauté for 2 minutes on very low heat, never allowing the oil to get too hot and lose its green color.  Add the shallots and continue to sauté over low heat.  Take the pan off the heat if necessary to lower the heat.  While the shallots are sautéing add the salt, black pepper, cayenne and oregano.  Turn off the heat.  Add the bread crumbs, fresh thyme and fresh parsley. Using an icing spatula, spread the topping over the fish.  Roast fish for about 5 to 10 minutes. Time will vary depending on the thickness of the fish. If necessary run fish under the broiler for 30 seconds to 2 minutes to get the desired crust. Watch like a hawk. You are looking for brown and crusty, it is more about the color and crust than the timing.  Using two spatulas remove the fish from the pan and place on a serving platter.  Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over the fish, and then squeeze a little lemon juice and a sprinkling of salt.  Garnish with optional chives.

N.B.

If roasting more than 1 pound of fish, increase the topping accordingly and the cooking time…anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes roasting time depending on the thickness of the fish and the number of pounds.

You can tell when the halibut is done by inserting the point of the knife into the thickest part of the fish and the knife-point goes through easily.  If the fish stops the knife it is raw in the center.

Also you will see albumen (white liquid protein) form around the fish.

You can undercook the halibut slightly to allow for carry over cooking time.

Spring Vegetarian Delicacy

Fava Beans, one of the treasured parts of spring have arrived. We made these in class recently and they were a big hit. I wanted to share the recipe with you. You can serve them as an appetizer, or a side dish; hot, or room temperature.

Braised Fava Beans

Braised Fava Beans

Ingredients

  • 3 ½ pounds of fava beans (once shelled, blanched and skins slipped off will yield 1 cup and 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup leeks (white and light green parts only), split, washed and diced
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 5 turns of freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup (or more) of chicken stock, warmed
  • ½ tsp. chopped fresh thyme or marjoram
  • ½ tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tbsp. chiffonade of fresh basil
  • 1 tbsp. fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp. finely diced scallions (split lengthwise then sliced into 1/8 inch semi-circles) or snipped chives
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil for sautéing
  • 2 tsp. of extra virgin olive oil for finishing

Instructions

  1. After shelling the fava beans, blanch half of them in 2 cups of rapidly boiling water for 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon then repeat with the other half. Slip off the skins. Set aside.
  2. In a 10-inch stainless steel skillet, sauté the leeks for 3 minutes in 2 tbsp. of olive oil over medium low heat or until they have softened. Add the salt and pepper. Add the fava beans to the sauté pan and turn over in the oil for 2 minutes. Add the stock a few tbsp. at a time, using up to ½ cup, as necessary, until the fava beans are cooked through. Total time will be between 7 to 10 minutes, but begin to taste for doneness after the first 5 minutes. Be careful not to stir the beans too often or they will begin to break. Remove from the heat. Add the herbs – the thyme, rosemary, half the basil and half the parsley to the pan.
  3. Place the fava beans on a serving plate. Drizzle the beans with 2 tsp. of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Finally, sprinkle the beans with the diced scallions and the rest of the basil chiffonade and parsley.
  4. The dish can be made a few hours ahead and can be served either hot at room temperature.
http://karenleecooking.com/2013/04/13/spring-vegetarian-delicacy/

VARIATIONS

As an alternative to the fava beans, the dish can be made with any fresh bean, such as cranberry or lima beans, or with any dried beans, such as chick peas or black beans, which will need to be soaked and cooked in advance.

La Sauce C’est Tout

 

The French say, “The sauce is everything”.

For the roasted Poussin I just wrote about on March 18th, a simple but delicious sauce can be made from the natural drippings from the skillet in which you roasted the Poussin (little chicken).

To Make The Sauce

After having removed the Poussin to a plate, add 2 tablespoons white wine or sherry to the drippings in the skillet in which you have roasted the Poussin.  Reduce over low heat for 2 minutes.  Add 3 tablespoons of chicken stock and reduce a few minutes  or by 50 percent.  Dissolve 1 teaspoon arrowroot or water chestnut powder in 1 tablespoon water.  Add this binder to sauce to thicken. Still over low heat pour the binder slowly with one hand while continuously stirring with the other. You could swirl in 2 teaspoons of butter to make the sauce extra delicious but you can also get away without the butter.  Remove sauce from heat immediately lest the butter will break, i.e., will separate from the sauce.  Done.

For sherry I like Savory and James Amontillado, Jerez.   For the white wine I like Mokoroa, Cosecha, 2011.  I buy these two brands at the 67 Wine and Spirits, 212-724-6767.  Ask for Oscar.

 

 

 

Quick Dinner

Tonight I roasted a Poussin (baby chicken) from Citerella. It weighed a little over a pound.

You can also buy them at Fairway (D’artagnan) or Food Emporium.

This is what to do:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Measure out a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a small shallow dish.

On a plate mix a teaspoon of salt with 6 turns of the pepper mill. Also on the plate put 1/6 of a lemon, half of a shallot or a clove of garlic and a sprig of rosemary or thyme.

Wash the Poussin by submerging and lifting the chicken in a bowl of cold water.

Dry well with paper towels. Remove the kidneys if they have not been removed (they are lodged in the chicken near the tail end and look the color of liver).

Rub down the Poussin with the olive oil and then the salt and pepper. Put the lemon, shallot, and rosemary into the cavity.

Wash your hands and clean all surfaces that have come in contact with the chicken.

Place the Poussin in a small skillet and roast for 45 to 50 minutes. No basting no turning.

The chicken is done when the juices run yellow and the leg moves freely in the joint.

Bake a potato in a small iron skillet in the oven at the same time while the Poussin is roasting.  Once the bird is removed, crank up the oven to 450 to finish baking the potato.

With dinner in the oven, you can make your salad.

You can make a sauce from the natural drippings of the chicken.  The instructions are described in a previous poultry blog.

N.B. If you roast 2 Poussins at a time they might take 10 minutes more. Choose a pan that just fits the one or two birds you are roasting (not more than 1 inch of extra space).

Chicken Vindaloo

Chicken Vindaloo

Chicken Vindaloo

 Karen Lee’s adaptation of a Julie Sahni recipe.   Julie Sahni is the author of Indian cookbooks.

You can get a good butcher to cut up the chicken.  If the chicken is 3 pounds or less then leave the thighs whole.   I like to slip the skin off the legs as well.  Easy to do.  I prefer to skin the chicken as the sauce is less fatty this way.

This braised Indian dish is wonderful and flavorful.  A lemon rice pilaf (next week) , mint chutney (soon) and the saag paneer (see table of contents) would make a delicious dinner.

A good opportunity to use healthful Indian spices.  Chicken Vindaloo reheats well and lasts in frig for 3 days.

Julie Sahni says:  “A specialty of Goanese Christians of Portuguese descent, Vindaloo is a very hot and spicy curry flavored dish with cayenne and green chilies.  The Vindaloo sauce by itself may be used over meat and fish.  Combined with an equal portion of tomato sauce it makes a delightful barbecue sauce.”

One 3 to 3½ pound chicken (organic if possible) cut up, skin removed (remove legs and wings then skin the chicken, cut thighs in half and cut breast in 4 pieces)

¼ cup olive oil

2 cups chopped onion

1 Tbsp. chopped garlic, green stem removed if any

2 Tbsp. minced ginger

2 tsp. mustard seeds

1½ tsp. cumin

½ tsp. turmeric

½ tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. ground cloves

¼ tsp. cayenne

2 tsp. paprika

½ to 1 cup chicken stock

1  full tsp. tamarind paste

1 Tbsp. rice vinegar

1 tsp. dark brown sugar

1 tsp. salt

Garnish: 2 to 4 jalapeño finely diced, no seeds, no membrane; and cilantro leaves

Wash chicken by submerging and lifting the pieces in a bowl of cold water.  Dry each piece well.  Remove the kidneys if they have not been removed (they look like the color of liver and are lodged in the cavity near the rear end).

Place a 12–inch skillet over high heat for 1 minute.  Add ¼ cup olive oil and then the chicken pieces; spread them out in a single layer with a wooden spoon.  Turn the heat to medium.  Let them build a crust before turning.  Sauté about 8 minutes or until brown. Remove to a plate.

Turn the heat to low and add more oil if necessary; add the garlic and sauté for 2 minutes; then add the onions and sauté for one minute; then add the ginger and continue to sauté for 5 minutes.  Add the cumin, mustard seeds, cinnamon, clove, turmeric, cayenne and paprika.  Sauté for about 3 minutes; then add the tamarind paste, sugar and vinegar and stir a minute; then add the chicken pieces and any resting juices from the plate.  Stir to mix, then add 1 cup of chicken stock.  Bring to a boil.  Lower heat, and cook cover askew until the chicken is tender and the sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the chopped hot peppers and cilantro.

Indian Cooking Class

Indian cooking is so delicious and so good for you.  Recently I have had many requests from students who are interested in preparing Indian food at home so I scheduled an Indian class on February 19th.

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When you add Indian spices such as turmeric and cumin to the oil and onions and slowly sauté them this enhances their flavor and health benefits.

Recommended companies that sell spices are:  www.Frontiercoop.com

Simply Organic and Penzeys.

Spices stored in the refrigerator in glass bottles will maximize their fresh scent.

For our Indian cooking class we made:

  • Indian Inspired Split Pea Soup with spiced yogurt
  • Chicken Vindalou
  • Saag Paneer
  • Lemon Rice
  • Raita
  • Mint Chutney
  • Baked Custard with fresh strawberry sauce

Here is the recipe for the Saag Paneer.

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In a few days I will post the Chicken Vindalou recipe. It is adapted from Julie Sahni.

SAAG © Karen Lee 2013

(Indian method of preparing Spinach)

  • 1 ¼ pounds fresh spinach
  • 2 medium potatoes or 4 new potatoes, scrubbed and sliced (no more than 12 ounces or ¾ pound) (If using organic  do not peel)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup diced combination of onions and leeks
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
  • ½ teaspoon blonde or black mustard seeds
  • 1/3 teaspoon turmeric
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ½ tablespoon butter, broken into small pieces.

Remove stems from spinach in one motion and  discard. Wash spinach by submerging and lifting as many times as necessary to remove all sand and grit.  Place spinach in a bowl, not necessary to spin dry.

Have some boiling water ready in a separate pot.

Bring 1 ½ cups of water to a  boil in a 12- inch skillet.  Add the potatoes spreading them out into a single layer.  Cover and simmer until almost done, about 15 minutes.  Keep checking to make sure the water does not entirely evaporate.  Add spinach, cover and cook another 2 minutes.

When the potatoes and spinach are cooked they should have no more than a few tablespoons of liquid at the bottom of the skillet.

While the potatoes are cooking:

In a second skillet over medium low heat sauté the onions, leeks,  garlic, and  ginger for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the mustard seeds, turmeric, cayenne and salt; sauté another 2-3 minutes. turn off  heat.

Add the cooked spinach, potatoes and all the remaining cooking liquid.  Mix then place mixture in a bowl or a bain marie (tall stainless steel utensil) and zap it using an emersion blender or you can use a food processor.

Add lemon juice and more salt if needed.  Saag can be made one day in advance and reheated.

If making the Saag and serving immediately or within a few hours you can reheat in the same skillet in which the Saag was made.

When eating dot with Paneer and little bits of butter. Paneer is Indian cheese. You can substitute ricotta or mozzarella.

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Our Valentine’s class was so much fun

This year we made:

  • Hummus with Crudities
  • Scampi
  • Penne with Arrabbiata Sauce and Sautéed Prosciutto
  • Pan Roasted Filet Mignon with Fresh and Dried Herbs
  • Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake with Crème Chantilly

The orange chocolate chunk cake is Anna Pump’s recipe. She is a cook book author and the owner of Loaves and Fishes in Sagaponack. A wonderful store that sells takeout food.

Behind every good meal there is a good shopper

That’s me Karen Lee, I’m the shopper. I went to nine stores in New York City for this meal.

Pisacane for the Shrimp, ask for Paul, 212-758-1525 fresh Florida Shrimp, large, U-15’s (15 shrimp to the count.)

Gourmet Garage for the fresh Tomatoes, Tasti Lee, they come 2 or 3 in a box. I take them out of the box and put them on a flat surface with room to breath in a single layer. Let them ripen at room temperature for one to 3 days. They become redder and sweeter and make the most delicious red sauce. The fresh organic, rosemary and thyme.

Buon Italia in the Chelsea Market for the parmesan cheese and the Setaro pasta.

Setaro Pasta is the best dried pasta I have ever had. It is made in Naples, high in the mountains where water is considered the best in Italy.

Food Emporium for the sour cream. Daisy is the brand I like. No hormones and the taste is great.

Zabars for the  heavy cream. By Nature is the brand. It is organic. They also sell Hudson which is wonderful too.

Fairway, second floor, for organic vegetables, Bionaturae canned tomatoes and tomato paste in a jar. Organic, from Italy.

Whole Foods, for the organic butter, their brand, 365. Vital Brand organic eggs.

Spelt Bread made by Bread Alone.

Chipolini Onions.

Salumeria Rose for the Prosciutto de Parma. 24 month old is my favorite.

Citeralla for the Fillet Mignon. Always choose the most marbled meat. Tip – wipe it down with a damp paper towel. Put it on a plate with a loose cover of wax paper and let it air dry in the frig over night. I do this with all meat. The meat loses moisture and becomes more tender.

Enjoy some photos from our special night.

Joe and John with Karen
Joe and John with Karen
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Israeli Red Peppers

 

Organic Israeli red peppers are in season and available in the Northeast from December through March. In NYC you can by them at Whole Foods and Fairway. They are my favorite. Mexican red peppers can be equally as sweet if you get one that is crimson red. They are available at Food Emporium and Citarella in NYC. Great in salads raw or roasted. Remember the deeper red the pepper, the sweeter it is. Recipes to follow in the next few weeks.