17 May 2008

Espinacas con garbanzos

adapted only slightly from one of my favorite food blogs, Lobstersquad

1 small onion
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup tomato sauce ( tomate frito, without corn syrup or dubious stuff, please. Just add a bit of sugar if you like) - I used most of a can of muir glen organic whole tomatoes, whizzed around in my food processor until sauce-like
1/2 tsp of cumin, or to taste
400 gr. fresh spinach
1 can chickpeas, drained
sherry vinegar
Tabasco or dried chili
salt, pepper, olive oil, lemon juice

In a biggish pan hat has a good lid, sautee the onion in olive oil, and when it´s transparent, add the minced garlic and cumin. Let it cook for a minute, until it´s fragrant.
Now add the spinach, tomato, and drained chickpeas.This is a messy procedure, as the spinach takes up a lot of room, but it will collapse quickly, so just move it around, clamp the lid, and after a minute, shake it around. The idea is that the liquid the spinach gives out is soaked up by the chickpeas, so there´s no sogginess. In no more than five minutes, it will be dark green and soft, but very juicy. Taste for salt and cumin, add a splash of Tabasco, vinegar or a squirt of lemon juice, and you´re in business.
It tastes better lukewarm, so try not to be greedy.

14 May 2008

thai-style chicken soup

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
3 lemongrass stalks, tough outer leaves removed, bottom 5 inches halved lengthwise and sliced thin crosswise
3 shallots, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
8 sprigs fresh cilantro, chopped
3 tablespoons fish sauce
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 (14-ounce) cans coconut milk, well shaken
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 pound white mushrooms, cut into 1/4-inch slices
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (5-6 ounces each), halved lengthwise and sliced on the bias into 1/8-inch-thick pieces
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice from 2 to 3 limes
2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste

1/2 cup fresh cilantro
2 serrano chiles, sliced thin
2 scallions, sliced thin on the bias
1 lime, cut into wedges

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until just shimmering. Add the lemongrass, shallots, cilantro, and 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce; cook, stirring frequently, until just softened, 2 to 5 minutes (the vegetables should not brown). Stir in the broth and 1 can coconut milk; bring to a simmer over high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the flavors have blended, 10 minutes. Pour the broth through a fine-mesh strainer and discard the solids in the strainer. Rinse the saucepan and return the broth mixture to the pan.

Return the pan to medium-high heat. Stir the remaining can of coconut milk and sugar into the broth mixture and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium, add the mushrooms, and cook until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken and cook, stirring constantly, until no longer pink, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat.

Combine the lime juice, curry paste, and remaining 2 tablespoons fish sauce in a small bowl; stir into the soup. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the cilantro, chiles, and scallions. Serve immediately with lime wedges.

13 May 2008

aglio e olio

1 lb spaghetti
table or sea salt
6 T good quality olive oil
1/4 c minced garlic
3/4 t red pepper flakes
3 T chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 t lemon juice
1/2 c Parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, set large heatproof serving bowl on rack and heat oven to 200 degrees. Bring 4 quarts water to rolling boil, covered, in large Dutch oven or stockpot. Add pasta and 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt to boiling water, stir to separate pasta, cover, and cook until al dente; reserve 1/3 cup pasta cooking water and drain pasta.

2. While water is heating, combine 3 tablespoons oil, 3 tablespoons garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon table salt or sea salt flakes in heavy-bottomed nonstick 10-inch skillet; cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until garlic foams and is sticky and straw-colored, 10 to 12 minutes. Off heat, add remaining tablespoon raw garlic, red pepper flakes, parsley, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons pasta cooking water to skillet and stir well to keep garlic from clumping.

3. Transfer drained pasta to warm serving bowl; add remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and remaining reserved pasta cooking water and toss to coat. Add garlic mixture and 3/4 teaspoon table salt or 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes to pasta; toss well to combine. Serve immediately, sprinkling individual bowls with portion of Parmesan, if desired.