Friday, July 29, 2011

Black Bean & Corn Salsa

I think I selectively forget how delicious black beans and corn can be, as corn is technically a carb and not the healthy vegetable we all wish it to be.
The side dish is really the star of this meal, so forgive me if I glaze over the chicken a bit.

Well, I guess I should tell you something.
I took three (rather small) chicken breasts and seasoned them with a bit of ground cumin, chili powder, salt, and a very small dusting of ground cinnamon. 
Sauté in olive oil until opaque in the middle and remove. Optional spritz of fresh lime juice once off the heat.
Toss in some diced shallot and garlic, deglaze the pan with some chicken stock, increase the heat to reduce and form a quick pan gravy.
Some of the seasoning from the chicken should be left in the pan to flavor the gravy, so just a little salt should round it out.
Spoon a little over each breast and the chicken is done.
Now for the good stuff.

Now I know a proper cook would use dried beans and soak them and then cook them and season them accordingly, but frankly, there's a reason there's a market for canned beans.
We're in a rush!
Also, it's summer in New York and we've had almost a solid week above 90º and no one wants to be cooking anything for more than five minutes.
As it is summer while I am typing this, you can find lovely fresh corn everywhere.
However, should you be making this in the dead of winter and the bag of frozen corn you found on the door has serious freezer burn, fear not. There's a way to resuscitate your desiccated corn.
Simply place it in a hot pan with a pat of melted butter and a splash or two of water, season with a pinch of salt, and bring the whole mess up to a simmer. Allow the corn to cook in the buttery liquid until it has largely been absorbed, 2-3 minutes, and you should have sweet and plump kernels once more.

For THIS dish tho, I used half a medium shallot, diced and lightly cooked in a bit of olive oil.
Next I threw in the corn and a pat of butter.
My SUPER cheat for this recipe, and I feel no shame in it, is that I use Goya black bean soup instead of regular black beans. I just strain (and reserve) the soup liquids and throw the already cooked and seasoned black beans into my dish, and I'm DONE!
Well, a few tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro, taste for salt, and then I'm done.
And it is delicious!
Sweet and savory and bright and perfectly balanced.
This by itself would make a great picnic side, or even a vegetarian lunch by itself, as it works just fine at room temperature.

The Hubs greatly approved of this meal as corn is one of his favorite foods, but I don't serve it that often as it is largely devoid of nutrition, so he gobbled this down in no time.
If you want to be a bit healthier, go 2-1 beans to corn for more protein and fiber. I went about 1-1 because that's just how much I had on hand.
Also, the leftovers when it hits 96º tomorrow will be delicious and completely effortless!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Scallops on White Bean Purée

As per my current norm, I had these delicious Garlic White Beans made and in my fridge for snacking and side-dish purposes. 
Then, there was a special on diver scallops, which are always good for a meal since they cook in under 5 minutes.
You can see where I'm going with this...

Hot pan with a bit of olive oil, add lightly seasoned scallops.
(Do not rush the pan. Wait until it has gotten fully hot, or you will not get a nice crust on your scallops!)
2-3 minutes on the first side, and flip.

About a minute into cooking the second side, add a pat of butter to the hot pan.
Swirl/spoon the melted butter over and around the scallops for another minute.

Place on a plate with puréed garlic white beans, drizzle the now browned butter from the pan on top, and call it an appetizer.

Of course, the dish above has WAY more bean purée than you would normally serve with 3 scallops, but as this comprised the entirety of my lunch, I needed more beans to round out the meal.
But throw in a nice crisp baby-greens salad with a lemony vinaigrette and you might have a lovely light dinner for a hot night.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Pineapple-Mango Pollock

It is currently "99º feels like 112º" at noon in NYC.
Cooking is at a minimum.

I made this delicious pineapple-mango salsa again and used it over some very quick-cooking pollock.
(Or tilapia, flounder, turbot... whatever has a good price.)
Minimal stove time is a plus right now.

That said, it was nice, but maybe missing a little something.
I have an excellent idea for the next time I make this.
Which if this heatwave continues much longer, may be in just a few days.
Stay tuned... and cool if you can.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Milanese Into Meatballs

I do suggest cooking your meatballs... and I did. 
I just forgot to take an "after" photo.

I don't know about you, but whenever I'm breading anything I tend to have a ton of leftover flour and breadcrumbs in my assembly line.
I came up with a solution the other day when I was making Pork Milanese: meatballs!

I got the hubs to pick up a pound of pork and a pound of beef on his way home, and once I was done cooking our dinner, I mixed up a batch of meatballs with the leftover breadcrumbs (complete with grated pecorino), beaten egg, and used the leftover flour to dust the outsides before cooking.

Ready to go.

Start by mixing all your breadcrumbs, cheese, herbs, and optional egg together before adding the meat, so you do not overwork the meat and make it tough.
These meatballs were made entirely off the cuff, so I have no measurements.
Luckily, it all worked out and they were quite tasty.

I chose to bake these in the oven since I made so many (and then they could bake while I was digesting my dinner instead of having to cook them in sauce on a stove and then clean even more pots and pans.)
I think it was about 20 minutes or so at 400º and they were nicely cooked through without being dried out.
Hint: roll the meatballs in flour and shake off excess before pan-frying. If you do that before baking in the oven, you will just have white crusty crud on the outside. Either douse with olive oil before baking, or skip the roll in the flour completely.

No matter how you cook them or how you season them, meatballs are a great solution to excess breading station leftovers!
(Just make sure to make them all the same day.)

Friday, July 15, 2011


While I could probably post the promised clever solution to leftover breading stations, instead I am gussying up and off to see the final "Harry Potter" movie in IMAX, followed by a delicious dinner at Boulud Sud that may or may not send me into a delightful food coma.

Which is to say, it is the hubs' and my Fifth Wedding Anniversary, and every year we like to combine a little bit of nerd with some very tasty food.
For the past four years Gordon Ramsey's underlings have fed us at his restaurant Maze at The London hotel in midtown NYC (conveniently down the block from the Ziegfeld Theater), but as the service there is quite so cold, even if the food is good, we have opted to go elsewhere this year.
It's also incredibly convenient that the new Daniel Boulud restaurant is only 2 blocks from the IMAX theater by Lincoln Center.
Proximity and tastiness!

5 years ago today!
Pinkies up!

(I really love that dress... damn!)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Pork Milanese

Anything "Milanese" really just means breaded, and possibly pounded out flat.
So this time it's pork loin chops, not pounded out, because I prefer there to be more meat than breading in each bite.
But to each their own.

Standard lineup of flour, beaten egg, and then a combination of panko bread crumbs with a bit of grated parmigiano reggiano mixed in.

Room temperature one inch thick pork loin chops, which I season with salt and a bit of dried ground sage before going through the breading process.

In a skillet on medium high with a tablespoon or two of olive oil in it, cook in batches, making sure not to crowd the pan so the chops get crispy rather than steamed, about 3-4 minutes per side.
You may have to add more oil to the pan when you flip, as the breadcrumbs will absorb some of it as they cook.

Hideous photo, but tasty food.
Finish with a spritz of lemon juice and a side of vegetables, and dinner is done.
Stay tuned for my clever use of the leftover breading assembly line!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Pineapple Mango Salsa

It's summer, it's hot, and no one wants to turn on the oven.
(Well, maybe people with central air, but they don't really experience summer.)
This is an incredibly tasty mix of bright and zippy flavors, delicious on its own, but also great over cooked meats.

Ingredients: 1 pineapple, 4 ripe champagne mangos*, 1 large jalapeño pepper, 1 medium shallot, and about 1/4 cup of fresh lime juice.
Try to chop the pineapple and mangos into the same size pieces, and give the jalapeño and shallot a fine dice. This will be time consuming but worth it in the end.

*If you cannot find champagne mangos, 3-4 regular ripe mangos will do just fine. I just used champagne mangos because there was a special on them! However, they taste just like the usual green and pink skinned mangos but they have a thinner skin and a slightly less fibrous flesh.

If you have never carved up a mango before, this is the best way that I have found.
First slice down either side of the pit, as close as you can get to the pit without hitting it.
Next, make a grid with your knife through the flesh of the mango halves in whatever size you want your finished dice to be, and be sure to go all the way to the skin but not piercing it.

Then you invert the mango half and carefully run your knife between the skin and the (very slippery) orange flesh. (Feel free to use your teeth to eat any remaining layer of mango on the skin when no one is looking!)
You should now have lovely little cubes of mango ready to eat.

While I was dicing all the pineapple and mangos, I let the finely diced shallot mellow in the fresh lime juice. Just as you might use vinegar to mellow raw onion or shallot in a salad dressing, the acid in the lime juice takes some of the bite out of it here.

About half way thru the "mellowing" process I added the (seeded) and diced jalapeno with a pinch or two of salt and gave it a stir.

Put everything in a large bowl and toss to combine.

This salsa will taste better if given some time to meld, and for the acids in the lime juice and pineapple to break everything down a little bit.
It should be sweet and tangy, with just a little bit of heat from the jalapeño. 
(Again, I only like a mild level of heat in my food, so adjust to your own tastes.)
A delicious summer treat!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Poached Egg Over Quinoa

I ate way too much grilled meat this weekend, as I'm sure many others did as well.
It's time to lighten up and get some healthy food back in my system.
Unfortunately, that much grilled meat also makes me feel rather sluggish, so combining that with the 90º heat makes me a very lazy cook.
Luckily lazy does not have to mean bland.

I took leftover quinoa (I always make extra as it keeps well in the fridge for quite a few days) and placed it in a ramekin (or bowl) with a bit of grated pecorino, some crumbled goat cheese that was like a smoother ricotta salata, and some chopped basil.
Mix well and form in a patty.

I did not bother to fry this in any way. It's just room-temperature quinoa with cheese and basil.
Simplicity works sometimes.
Next step: poach an egg, 2-3 minutes in almost-boiling water.

Place poached egg on top of quinoa.
Sprinkle with salt and more grated pecorino.
Allow warm runny yolk to ooze.
A schmancy-ish and filling breakfast for sure, and done in about 5 minutes.