Sunday, May 25, 2008

onion-endive flatbread

My love affair with romesco sauce began at a small French restaurant here in town. The original sauce hails from Cataluña, a region in the northeast of Spain. Strictly speaking, it's a tomato, chile, breadcrumb and nut concoction. But here, I have used roasted red peppers, no tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and no ñora chile, which typically only crosses the borders of Spain in sneaky gourmands' backpacks.
The sauce makes an amazing replacement for the traditional pizza dressing of tomato sauce. Combining this with the subtle touches of roasty toasty root onions and endive, and the happy tang of goat cheese results in a heavenly, why-didn't-i-think-of-this-sooner flavor combination. The arugula adds a fresh, cool pop with a bitter bite, and the chipotle mayo gives it just enough spice.
It requires a little effort, but you can do the dough, sauce, and chipotle mayo ahead of time, and you make enough to recreate the meal one or two more times with minimal effort. The making of this recipe usually ends in the disastrous event of me consuming the entire thing alone (that arugula just won't reheat very nicely, right? might as well finish it off).

onion-endive flatbread

1/2 recipe dough
1/2 recipe red pepper romesco
4 oz goat cheese
1 onion
4 endive
2 tbsp olive oil
2 handfuls of arugula
1 tbsp diced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
5 tbsp mayo
dash of cumin
2 cups arugula

Make dough and romesco sauce (see below). *NOTE: Extras freeze well; I especially enjoyed the texture of dough after it had been frozen. Simply thaw for an hour or so to use.
Preheat oven to 400. Cut onions into thin wedges and cut endive into one inch pieces (crosswise). Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast until browned, turning several times, about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix chipotle chiles, mayo, and cumin. Salt and pepper to taste. Put in a squirt bottle (find them at WalMart, Dollar Tree, Williams Sonoma, etc; I use a diner-style ketchup container.) or, if you must, just use a spoon to dollop.
Top dough with romesco, then the onion endive mixture. Sprinkle goat cheese evenly across. Bake for 12 minutes, or until edges of crust are golden. Remove from oven; scatter arugula and drizzle chipotle mayo over the top.
Slice and serve.

red pepper romesco

2 red bell peppers, broiled/roasted and peeled
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 small garlic clove
1/4 tsp cumin
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2-3 tbsp olive oil
2-3 tbsp water

Put first 7 ingredients in a food processor; blend. Add oil and water with processor running to desired consistency.

pizza dough

1 1/3 c warm water
1 pkg active dry yeast
3 1/2 c flour
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp sugar

Combine yeast and water in bowl until dissolved. add the remaining ingredients and mix for about one minute. knead for about ten minutes. transfer dough to a bowl coated w/olive oil, cover and let rise for 1 1/2 hours. preheat oven to 475, grease baking sheet and dust with cornmeal. punch down dough, divide in half. roll each half into a ball and let rest for 10-15 minutes. flatten and roll out balls and let rest for ten more minutes, top, and bake about 12 min. from Joy of Cooking

Friday, May 16, 2008

basic chicken salad

Are you creamy or chunky?
An essential question when it comes to deciding what kind of chicken salad you prefer.
I am creamy...and in a recent attempt to recreate a certain creamy chicken salad, I came up with this delicious, albeit not exact duplicate, of the spread. It comes together in about five minutes, and it's just really, really good.
I think I may keep going in my quest to replicate the aforementioned salad. It drives me crazy when I can't make something at home that I love. Especially when it costs a wing and a leg.

meat from a whole baked/rotisserie chicken
4 celery ribs
1 onion
2 heaping tbsp mayo
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp yellow mustard

Chop onion and celery in food processor. Add chicken, process about 10 seconds. Add mayo, salt, pepper, vinegar and mustard, process or stir until combined, depending on desired texture.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

strawberry buttermilk pancakes

For me, some mornings Honey Bunches of Oats just don't cut it. Then, I usually eat an apple. But sometimes that doesn't cut it either. That's when I get out the big guns. And these, my friends, do indeed qualify.

Generally, I just whip up Southern Living's Buttermilk Pancakes, but with the last of the strawberry crop flooding the market, it seemed like a good idea to take these buttermilk pancakes to a new level. The addition of strawberry puree gives an overall strawberry flavor as well as a light pink coloring, and then the diced strawberries add that chunky goodness that I require in almost all foods I consume.

1 c flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 egg
1 /2 c buttermilk
1/8 c veg oil
1/2 c strawberry puree
1/2 c diced strawberry

combine dry ingredients, stirring well.
combine eggs, buttermilk, water, oil, and strawberry puree in a bowl, then add to flour mixture. add the diced strawberries. don't stir it a lot; just until mixed.
cook pancakes until the tops bubble, then flip.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

pimento cheese

I have finally found my pimento cheese. That delicious spread, ranging from creamy to chunky, traditional (orange cheddar) to modern (white cheddar and bleu), that every southern girl is expected to be able to "whip up." This one is made super special with some homemade mayonnaise. Easy, I promise! Whisking is key. And when you bite into sourdough slathered with this spread and grilled til melty, you will experience utter self fulfillment.

pimento cheese

1 roasted red pepper, finely chopped
8 oz. finely grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
2 oz. softened cream cheese, cut into pieces
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 tbsp mayo (see below)

Mix cheese, cream cheese, mayo, red pepper and its liquid, and the red pepper flakes with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until mixed (about 2 min). Season to taste.

homemade mayo

1 egg yolk
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/4 c vegetable oil
1/4 c olive oil
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Whisk egg yolk with juice. Add oils, first in drops, whisking constantly, then in a thin stream. Continue whisking until emulsified. Once thickened, add vinegar, salt, and pepper. Whisk vigorously.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

black beans

this is an incredible dish that is a favorite of my family's. we love pairing it with rice or bread, but we love even more enjoying it the next day, after the flavor has developed, over stone-ground grits. it really couldn't be any easier to prepare, which is kind of embarrassing to reveal when you get asked breathlessly for the recipe. the longer you can let it simmer, all the better to allow the water to turn slowly into black, meaty liquid gold.

16 oz dried black beans
16 oz polish sausage
8 oz bacon
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried oregano

Rinse black beans in large sauce pan. Drain. Add water to two inches above, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer one hour.
Slice sausage, and add to beans. Simmer another hour, adding water if necessary. You can also keep the top on to retain water.
Dice bacon and saute in skillet. Cook over med heat. When bacon begins to brown, add onion, pepper, bay leaf, oregano, pepper and salt. Saute until veggies are tender and translucent.
Add veggies and bacon to beans and simmer at least another 45 minutes. Season to taste

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

late night thoughts and theories at blankpalate

So, generally this is a place for food, recipes, and what have you. But I have two important thoughts.
1) I would like to propose a theory, which any sociologist is welcome to explore as long as I am properly credited in the footnotes. It is this: The Later A Person Eats Dinner, The More He Loves Life.
Just take a moment to think about this. Look at examples in your life. What time do you eat dinner? I bet not before 6:30, if you are reading this blog. If you cannot bring to mind any specifics, think first of senior citizens, those valuable members of society who, regrettably, are drawing ever closer to the end of their lives. What time do they eat that final meal of the day? Yeah.
Or, take the French or Spanish, those fun-loving ancestors of ours. Their GDP may not match that of the US, but their enjoyment per lifetime is far greater. And--guess what-- you won't catch a single one of them eating before 7:30. Unthinkable. More on this in an upcoming New Yorker article.

and, on the opposite side of grandiose,

2) it's 9pm and i am really enjoying peanut butter spread on wheat bread.