The Basics

Broccolini

Broccolini is a green vegetable similar to broccoli but with a milder taste. It has smaller florets with thinner and more tender stalks. I use the whole vegetable except for the last half-inch of the stems.

Broccolini © Karen Lee 2016

Broccolini © Karen Lee 2016

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch broccolini
  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sliced garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • a pinch of crushed dried chili pepper
  • ¼ to 1/3 cup chicken stock

Instructions

  1. Wash broccolini by submerging and lifting in a big bowl of water to which a dash of white vinegar has been added.
  2. Let drain in a bowl. Spinning dry is not necessary.
  3. After discarding about ½-inch of the stems, cut the broccolini into ½-inch pieces.
  4. Heat a 10-inch stainless steel or enamel skillet for one minute over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil and then the garlic. Turn heat to medium low and sauté the garlic until it just starts to take on some color. After the garlic has been in the pan for one minute add the salt and the chili pepper.
  5. Add the broccolini and toss; sauté about 1 minute, then add the stock a few tablespoons at a time. Simmer until evaporated then toss and add more stock as needed until the broccolini is tender, approximately 5 minutes. Dish. Drizzle with the remaining ½ tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt.
https://karenleecooking.com/2016/05/17/broccolini/

Learn How to Cook Perfect Fish with Karen on October 18

Sign up for my Saturday October 18th class and learn how to cook fish perfectly. If you overcook fish it is dry. If you undercook fish it is rubbery. You want it cooked through but not overcooked.

In this class you will learn not only all the tips about picking out fresh fish and all the right questions to ask but also how to judge when the fish is perfectly done. The Black Sea Bass with Sweet and Sour Onions is a delectable example of how to do it.

This Saturday class, starting at 10 a.m.and finishing at 2 p.m. we will also be making Sole Meunière… and achieving a crust that you thought could only be produced in a restaurant!

Sea Bass with Sweet and Sour Onions

Sea Bass with Sweet and Sour Onions

Ingredients

  • 1¼ pounds Sea Bass fillets, skin off (you will need one or two whole sea bass, head and tail intact, with a total weight of 2 1/2 pounds as you lose 50 or 60 percent when the fish is filleted)
  • 1 tablespoon flour, spread on a plate mixed with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/16 teaspoon black pepper
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, approximately
  • 3 cups onion sliced very thin
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Instructions

  1. Rinse and dry fillets.
  2. Combine on a plate the flour, salt and pepper
  3. Dredge the fish on presentation side in the flour mixture. Tap off excess flour.
  4. Choose a stainless steel sauté pan large enough to accommodate all the fish in a single layer. Heat the pan for one minute over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sauté the onions over medium low heat until the onions have wilted. Turn up the heat to medium. Add another 1 tablespoon olive oil and continue cooking. Stir from time to time. Sauté until the onions become a rich golden brown. Push all the onions to the edge of the pan.
  5. Add 1 to 2 more tablespoons of olive oil to the sauté pan then place the fish fillets in pan, presentation side down. Raise the heat to medium high. Sauté fillets for 3 minutes and then turn them over. Pour the wine, vinegar, and sugar into pan over the onions. Turn the heat down. Continue cooking for approximately 2 minutes. Check to see if fish is done. Transfer the fish to a heated serving platter. Reduce drippings in pan if necessary. Arrange onions in-between fish. Pour any pan juices over fish. Then sprinkle with parsley. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil (also known as finishing oil).
  6. © Karen Lee 2014

Notes

If you forgot to ask fishmonger to remove the skin, slit the bass in three places (crescent shape slits) on the skin side in order to prevent the fish from curling up too much when it is turned.

https://karenleecooking.com/2014/10/01/learn-how-to-cook-perfect-fish-with-karen-on-october-18/

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.

Sweet Strawberries

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Just returned from Whole Foods Market.

They are having a sale on organic strawberries from California.

$4.99 for a big box.

Very sweet.

I always like to wash fruit and vegetables in warm water to which a dash of white vinegar has been added.

Fill a large bowl with warm water.  Add a dash of vinegar then submerge the berries, swish them around then lift them out.

Submerge and lift one more time in just plain water.

Drain and dry.

Fruit is best eaten at room temperature.

For proper digestion, eat fruit 30 minutes before a meal or 2 hours after a meal.

Purple and Red Fruits are full of protective antioxidants, which are good for the heart.

Food Mill

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“You say chunky, I say smooth.”  Some people love a smooth tomato sauce others like it chunky. In my April 20th cooking class we made a smooth tomato sauce by using a food mill.

First we sautéed onions and garlic then added seasonings followed by tomato paste, working it in with the back of a wooden spoon, which brings out the flavor of the paste.  Then we added the fresh and canned tomatoes.  Simmered the sauce for about 30 minutes then put the whole contents of the skillet through a food mill, leaving the skins and the seeds of the tomatoes behind.

Apple sauce is another great use for the food mill.  Don’t peel the apples, just leave out the seeds and the stem.  After the apples are cooked and you mill them,  the skins will be left  behind and your sauce will be vibrant with color and more flavor and vitamins from being cooked with the skins.

Penne Arrabiata ©Karen Lee 2013

 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 cloves garlic, sliced

¼ cup diced onions

2 tablespoons diced shallots

½ cup diced leeks (white and light green parts)

1/16 teaspoon cayenne (more if you like spicy)

½ teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon salt

1 or 2 jalapeno peppers (seeds and membrane removed), and diced (use rubber gloves)

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 pound fresh tomatoes, diced

28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes with liquid (remove basil from can if any); use hands to squeeze and crush into large chunks

1 pound Penne

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons olive oil to drizzle on pasta before serving

1 teaspoon chili oil (optional)

Heat oil, add garlic, sauté for 2 minutes over low to medium heat.  Add onion, shallots, leeks; sauté for an additional 4 minutes or until the onions just  begin to take on color.  Add cayenne, sugar, oregano and salt; sauté another 2 minutes to bring out the flavor.  Add jalapenos; sauté 1 minute.  Add the tomato paste; let sizzle in pan for two minutes.  Add the diced fresh tomatoes and the canned tomatoes with their juice; simmer for 30-40 minutes or until the sauce separates.

Cook pasta for half the time the package directs and then taste.  Make it al dente.  Drain then add to sauce to coat.  Turn off heat and toss using two wooden spoons.  Place on a serving platter and add the parmesan cheese.  Toss again then drizzle with finishing oil and optional chili oil.  Garnish with whole sprigs of parsley or basil leaves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brown and Red Rice Pilaf © Karen Lee 2013

Last night I made dinner for three of my classmates from the Rudolf Steiner  School. They were in town for our reunion.

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Menu

Red Kidney Beans with Garlic Rosemary Oil

Mixed Grain Baguette from Orwashers  Bakery (I bought it at Citeralla)

Grey Sole Meunière

A Sauté of Asparagus an Shitake Mushrooms

Brown and Red Rice Pilaf

Salad

 

For the rice dish, I was looking in my pantry with all the different grains I have.

I wanted to make a simple rice pilaf, but with a different twist.

I decided to try combining short grain brown rice with red rice.

Lynn Rubin, a dear friend and one of my once a month regular students, had brought me some red rice when vacationing in the Camargue region in the south of France.

It turned out beautifully and I wanted to share the recipe with you.

Rice Recipe

1 cup short grain rice

¼ cup red rice

1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

½ cup diced leeks or onions

¾ teaspoon salt

A pinch of cayenne

¼ teaspoon turmeric

2 cups stock ( chicken, turkey, or vegetable)  heated

2 tablespoons chopped parsley or scallions

Procedure

Wash and drain the brown and red rice.

Put the rice in a bowl, cover it with cold water, swish it around with your hand.  Particles of dirt will float to the top, then pour them  off.  Drain in a strainer.

Place the stock in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer.

In a 2-3 quart sauce pan with a tight fitting cover, (my favorite pot in which to cook rice is Le Creuset, which is cast iron coated with enamel) heat the pot for one minute over a high flame.  Add the olive oil, turn the flame to low  and then add the leeks.  Sauté for 2 minutes .

Add the salt , cayenne, and turmeric.

Turn the flame to medium high and add the washed, drained grains.

Using a wooden spoon stir to coat the rice with the oil for about 2 minutes.

Add the heated stock, bring to a boil, stir cover and turn the flame to low and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes. After 15 minutes take a peek , you may need to raise the flame slightly.

The rice is done when you see ” fish eyes” or steam holes, the stock has been completely absorbed into the rice, and the grains are cooked through.

Turn off the heat and let the rice ” relax” for 15 to 30 minutes.

Garnish with chopped parsley or scallions.

The rice will stay warm for up to one hour.

Store left over rice in the frig for up to 5 days.

You can buy red rice at Fair Way and Whole Foods.

Try to catch a sale if you are interested in buying a Le Creuset pot. Sometimes department stores run a sale when the company is discontining the color.

Store turmeric in the refrigerator to maximize the scent.

If using a commerical stock, omit the salt in the recipe.

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).

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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