Sunday, June 10, 2012

Quick Garlic Aioli

Yes, yes.  I am aware that real aioli is made with raw egg yolks instead of mayonnaise.  I would have made a more authentic recipe, too, if the idea of raw eggs didn't skeeve me out.  Food poisoning is something I have happily avoided for the past 27 years (though my parents did get terrible food poisoning after eating celebratory soft serve ice cream when they found out my mom was pregnant with me) and I don't care to experience it any time soon.  I also don't care to experience purchasing super expensive pasteurized eggs.  So mayo it is.  I honestly just threw the ingredients together (measured everything though!) and it isn't based on any recipe, but after I made it I looked on AllRecipes and this one is pretty similar.  The garlic aioli was originally made to go along with my awesome portobello mushroom burgers, but I decided it deserved its own post because it's SO good and SO versatile!  It was perfect on the burgers, but also great on the fries I baked to go along with the burgers, would be good on sandwiches, and odd as it sounds, it's really good on steamed broccoli.  Just put a little bitty puddle of it on your plate, fork a broccoli floret, and dunk it (just a little bit!) in the aioli.  A little goes a long way!  I think it would also be great on artichokes or salmon cakes or pretty much anything else.

Quick Garlic Aioli

1/3 C mayonnaise
1 clove minced garlic
1 1/2 t lemon juice (can do more if you want it lemony, I held back for once in my life)
1/8 t pepper
1/8 t salt

Mix together all the ingredients in a little bitty bowl.  It's fine if served immediately, but even better if you let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours.  It keeps for several days in the refrigerator.

Simple Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burger

Prepare for more less than mediocre photos, my friends!  I recently found out about yet another cooking group that I really want to join.  It's called, you can read about it at that link.  They only let you join if your blog has 100 recipes with photos.  I have more than 100 recipes, but not all of them have photos.  Added 'em up and about 75 have photos.  That means everything I post for the next while will be accompanied by a photograph unless I absolutely cannot stand to post one.  I'll also go back and add photos to some posts that don't have one.  You may want to shield your eyes, don't let my pictures deter you from trying the recipes :)  Oh and of COURSE I will not just be posting random recipes to get a photo up.  My standards are always that I only post recipes that I love, turn out great, and are ready for you to successfully whip up in your own kitchen!

On to the recipe!  I actually have a backlog of recipes (AND photos) to post, but for some reason I prefer waiting a couple days between posts.  Don't want to bury my recipes too quickly, you know?  I will probably pick up the pace though as I have like 10 recipes waiting in the wings and the pile will only keep growing. 

I am still loving my new grill and today's recipe is for grilled portobello mushroom burgers.  You may look at the ingredients and not be very impressed, since the actual burger is just a big ol' mushroom, olive oil, salt, and pepper, then it's topped with a bit of garlic aioli.  But sometimes simpler is better, and this burger is for people who really love mushrooms.  I have tried other portobello burgers where the mushroom flavor was completely covered up with a marinade or glaze or something.  They were good, but we LIKE the flavor of mushrooms and do not feel it needs to be covered up.  Cooked this way, they still taste like mushrooms, and the garlic aioli accentuates the flavor instead of obliterates it.  Plus, if you're paying $6.99 a pound for these overgrown button mushrooms (really) like we are, where's the sense in making it taste like something else?  In any case, we really, really liked these burgers and will definitely make them again!  Next time I am thinking of adding a slice of swiss cheese and making the mother of all mushroom swiss burgers.

Simple Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burger

portobello mushrooms, 1 for each person
olive oil
buns (make sure they are vegan if you're serving someone who is vegan)
garlic aioli (leave off if you want the burgers vegan!)
any other toppings you want, like lettuce, tomato, or grilled red onion slices (yum!)

Let your grill preheat.  While that happens, wash and thoroughly dry your mushrooms, then cut off the stems of all the mushrooms so the stems are flush with the rest of the cap.   Brush olive oil all over the mushrooms (I used oil on a paper towel), then sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  When grill is ready, stick the mushrooms on the grill, gill side up, and grill for 5 minutes over medium-high heat with the cover down.  You may want to check to make sure they aren't burning (though a little bit of black is tasty).  Before flipping them, one at a time pick the mushrooms up with tongs and pour out any accumulated oil and juices in the gills.  They will cause flare ups if you don't.  Cook the burgers on the other side for the same amount of time.  Flip again and cook a couple minutes on the first side, then flip once more.  By this time, the mushroom should feel soft when you poke it with your tongs.  Lower the heat and toss your buns, cut side down, on the grill and grill until toasted.  Drain the mushrooms briefly on paper towels, then serve on the buns with the garlic aioli and any vegetabley toppings you want.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sauteed Spinach and Mushrooms

There is a distinct lack of veggie side dish recipes on my blog.  It's not because I don't serve vegetables with meals- I definitely do- it' s just that I tend to go really simple.  We like most vegetables as they are and of course the less stuff (butter, cheese, etc) added to them, the healthier they stay.  So the majority of veggies at my house just get steamed, roasted, or eaten raw.  No recipe required.  Keeping with that trend, this is hardly a recipe and pretty much anyone can figure it out, but I've decided to post it anyway in case you haven't made it before.  In spite of its simplicity, I had never actually prepared sauteed spinach as a side dish until recently.  Of course I had sauteed spinach to go in other recipes, but never served it on its own.  It's really good though and a great way to get your greens!  My husband has actually mentioned it a couple of times since I first made it because he wants it again.

The recipe is very easy, quick, and flexible.  You can use chopped onion instead of (or in addition to) the mushroom, or just cook the garlic and spinach.  Willing to bet some toasted sliced almonds would be a great addition, too- just cook them in the skillet over medium-low heat for a few minutes, stirring frequently until toasty brown, then set them aside to cool while you proceed with the recipe and add 'em back in at the end.  Yummy!

Sauteed Spinach and Mushrooms

2 t olive oil
2 large button mushrooms, halved and sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, minced
10 oz bag baby spinach
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high.  Add mushrooms and saute for a couple of minutes, until they begin to turn translucent.  Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds or so.  Add the spinach to the skillet, a large handful at a time.  Cook and stir until it wilts (tongs are a great tool for this!), then add another handful of spinach.  Continue in this fashion until all of the spinach has been added to the pot.  Saute until the spinach is as tender as you would like, another minute or so.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve the spinach in bowls if you don't want spinach juice on the rest of your food!

Yield: 2 servings

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tuesdays with Dorie: Oasis Naan

Hooray, finally a new Tuesdays with Dorie post!  Each month the group makes two recipes and participants are supposed to make at least one of them.  I didn't get to make EITHER recipe last month.  For the first recipe, Hungarian Shortbread which is filled with rhubarb jam, I got the date mixed up and anyway it was too early in the season here for the rhubarb the recipe required.  I do plan to make it soon though because it sounds delicious and the people who did make it seemed to really like it!  The second recipe was Pecan Sticky Buns.  Sounds good, but very complicated, and an awful lot of sticky buns for two people to eat since apparently they don't reheat well.  Also neither of us likes pecans in our baked goods.

So I was very happy to join the fun this time around with a recipe called Oasis Naan.  To check out the recipe, visit the blog Always Add More Butter or Of Cabbages and King Cake.  There's also a very helpful two part video that shows the creators of the recipe baking it with Julia Child, as well as a great article with lots of information.  If you've never had it before (I hadn't until tonight!), naan is a type of leavened flat bread served with all kinds of Middle Eastern dishes.  Many types of naan are quite long and skinny, but Oasis Naan is round and puffy around the edges, with coarse salt, green onion, and cumin seed sprinkled on top before baking.  It's baked in a very hot oven until crisp and golden on the bottom with some golden spots on top.  Like I said, this was my first time eating naan, but I thought it was amazing!  The bread itself had outstanding flavor, a wonderfully chewy texture, and the salt and green onion on top was delightful.  I'd imagine the cumin would have been great too if I had remembered to buy it.  Oops!  I love cumin and was a little sad that my naan had to go without, but there's always next time.  Weird as this may sound, I think the dough would make a dreamy pizza crust and plan to try it.  (Update:  I have used this as pizza dough and it is indeed delicious!)

As for the recipe itself, I followed it very closely.  Ended up using an extra half cup of flour in the dough and kneading it in my stand mixer on low for 5 minutes.  The recipe said to let the dough rise at room temperature for 2 hours, but because of timing issues, mine rose for 3 hours and got a little bigger than it was supposed to, though the recipe said it was okay if that happened.  My bread may have been a bit chewier because of this, but it was really, really good anyway and the dough developed a wonderful flavor while it rose.  I did form and bake mine a little differently.  My dough was wonderful to work with and although I started rolling the pieces out with a rolling pin like the recipe said, it ended up working better when I just patted it out with my hands.  As for baking, the recipe said to transfer the naan to a pizza stone or a cookie sheet that had preheated for 20 minutes in a 500 degree oven.  I did preheat my oven and cookie sheet properly, but I don't have a pizza peel or anything so I put my naan on a piece of parchment paper, picked up the paper, and put it on the baking sheet.  It worked out really well this way, though the parchment paper hanging over the edge of the baking sheet got VERY dark!  The cookie sheet also melted my favorite oven mitt when I took it out after the last batch of naan, so watch out for that if you do it this way!

All in all, I really liked this recipe.  It was super easy to make, fun to bake, and tasted great.  If you've never used yeast before, this would be a wonderful recipe to start with because the dough is easy to work with, the rising time isn't too important and it's all the more charming if the finished naan isn't perfectly round!  I served my naan with Indian Butter Chicken and steamed rice and we had a very enjoyable dinner.

Chicken Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken)

I made naan for my Tuesdays with Dorie group and of course needed something to serve it with!  A few years ago I had Butter Chicken at a restaurant and it was really good, though I don't remember specifically what it tasted like.  Seemed like a perfect opportunity to make it myself!  My base was this recipe from AllRecipes, but it was thoroughly tweaked based on the recipe's reviews and my own tastes.  It turned out really well and we both thoroughly enjoyed it.  The flavors in the sauce melded perfectly after simmering and it was just delicious.  I will definitely make it again!

Quick Note:  I used my little food processor to grind the cashews, finely chop the onion and shallot (just coarsely chopped them by hand, then pulsed them together in the food processor), and make the garlic ginger paste.  For the garlic ginger paste, I just tossed in a head's worth of peeled garlic cloves and an approximately equal sized piece of peeled fresh ginger, then a tablespoon of water to help turn it into a paste.

Chicken Makhani

1 small onion, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 T oil
2 T butter
2 T garlic ginger paste (see note)
1 bay leaf
1 t garam masala
1 t chili powder
1 t cumin
1 t coriander
a pinch of cayenne pepper (or to taste)
2 t lemon juice
1 C unseasoned tomato sauce (an 8 oz can)
1/4 C finely ground cashews
1 C half and half
1/4 C plain yogurt
3/4 to 1 t salt, or to taste
1 T oil
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast or thighs, cut into bite size pieces
optional: 1 additional t garam masala and about 1/2 C water

Place oil in a nonstick skillet and heat over medium high.  Add finely chopped onion and shallot and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add butter, garlic ginger paste, bay leaf, garam masala, chili powder, cumin, coriander, cayenne, and lemon juice, and cook, stirring frequently, for about a minute.  Add tomato sauce and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir in cashews, half and half, and yogurt, then salt to taste.  Simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes.  Pour sauce into a bowl and puree with an immersion blender, regular blender, or food processor (let it cool a bit first if you use a regular blender or food processor!).  Wash skillet and add oil.  Heat over medium high, then add chicken and cook until golden on the outside.  It's okay if it hasn't cooked through yet.  Add the sauce back into the skillet and simmer over a very low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently.  The chicken will finish cooking during this time and the flavors in the sauce will marry and mellow.  You can add the reserved teaspoon of garam masala if you'd like, and water if it gets too thick.  Serve over rice or with naan.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings