All posts filed under: Sides

Braised Short Ribs with Creamy Polenta

Ahhh Fall.  Falling leaves, pumpkin-everything, hay rides, jackets, sweaters, the smell of a fireplace.  Fall means cozy to me.  What’s cozier than lovingly braised beef with creamy, warm polenta. Short ribs are quite the thing now–they’re on menu after menu in restaurants.  They can be pricey, but if you have the time, they’re so easy to prepare.  I always look for thick, meaty short ribs–they can be quite fatty and be mostly bone, so be choosy when shopping.  I recommend a nice Whole Foods or even better, a local butcher.  Always trim excess fat off, but always leave some on.  I’ve made braised short ribs a few different ways, and ideally you would make them a day ahead of time and reheat the next day.  The reason being that short ribs give off a lot of greasy fat, so if left to sit in braising liquid overnight in the fridge, the fat rises and firms at the top–making it easy to scoop off the next day.  The braising liquid also has time to thicken up …

Grilled Zucchini + Lentil Quesadillas

When in the guts of Summer, when temperature highs are in the 90s (or 100s) and humidity is giving you a new hair-do, the real high points for me are AN OUTDOOR GRILL and OUTDOOR FARMERS MARKETS.  This week browsing the New York City Stuyvesant Farmers Market with my friend Sarah, the real stars were pit fruits (peaches, nectarines, plums,) tomatoes, and zucchini.  Nick and I stocked up on all of the above.  Inspired by the gorgeous yellow and green zucchini, I set out to make a vegetarian main course using this versatile vegetable.  Using what I had on hand (tortillas,) I decided to go for quesadillas.  For added protein and fiber, I added lentils.  The end result was so delicious.  You should see this recipe less as a “recipe” and more as a template.  You could easily substitute grilled eggplant or red/green peppers for the zucchini and your favorite cheese will work as long as it melts well.    An important tip: be SURE to cook your veggies first. If you don’t, they’ll put out …

Vegetarian Summer Rolls with Brown Sugar Tofu

Summer rolls are one of my favorite, healthy Asian restaurant options.  I usually see them prepared with shrimp, thin rice noodles, cilantro, cucumber, carrot, and lettuce.  I had a package of extra firm tofu in the fridge for a while and decided to experiment with it–thus vegetarian summer rolls were born.  These are incredibly healthy, low in fat, low in carbs, easy to make, and the best part… you can eat a lot of them.  While I really enjoyed my invention (recipe below,) I would encourage you to try any combination you like. Vegetarian Summer Rolls with Brown Sugar Tofu Servings vary based on spring roll wrapper size and how stuffed you like them. Ingredients 1 package extra firm tofu 1 package of spring roll skins or wrappers 1 tbsp. granulated brown sugar 2 cloves garlic, minced and smashed 1 inch of peeled fresh ginger, grated on a microplane grater 1 tbsp. soy sauce 1 tbsp. vegetable oil 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into matchsticks 1 large red bell pepper, sliced into matchsticks 4 …

Broccoli Crunch Salad with Apple, Walnut, and Dried Cranberries

I have been an admirer of 101 Cookbooks for years.  After reading a new post, I always walking away thinking “I should eat healthier.”  “I should eat more vegetarian.”  “Why don’t I make more recipes from this blog??”  I share Heidi’s passion for broccoli and was thrilled to stumble on this recipe.  I made a recent discovery of a product called PB2.  PB2 is essentially genius peanut butter.  The manufacturer presses peanuts under extreme pressure which releases the natural oils from the nuts.  They then bottle the pressed oil and sell it as well as the ground oil-free peanuts.  The ground peanuts are in powdered form in the jar when purchased.  You simply add a little water to the ground peanuts to make a paste–just like real peanut butter.  It’s truly delicious, and we’ve become addicted.  I decided to substitute PB2 for the peanut butter in the recipe here and was thrilled with the results.  I think you will be too. Broccoli Crunch Recipe courtesy of 101Cookbooks.com The success of this salad hinges on the …

Lentils with Bulgur Wheat + Caramelized Onions

Goodbye 2011.  Hello 2012.  This year was a big year for Nick and I.  We were married May 15th in Naples Florida at the beautiful La Playa Beach & Golf Resort with a small gathering of our closest friends and family.  It was also the year that we lost my 13 year old cat, Sydney, and gained two new members of the family, kittens Miles & Sadie.  2011 was a year of wins and losses, but most of all, a year of abundant love and joy.  It is said that lentils symbolize prosperity, good fortune, and wealth.  Nick and I are raising our forks full of lentils as we ring in 2012 with hopes for forkfuls of more love, health, and happy surprises. Please enjoy this delicious and oh-so healthy lentil recipe not-modified-one-bit from Emeril Lagasse.  A note: Santa was very good to me this year, leaving a new Canon 100mm macro lens in my stocking.  I’m still getting the hang of it, but here are some photos taken with the new lens. Lentils with …

Taiwanese Sesame Cucumbers

I just returned from a trip to Europe–and came home to a stack of all of my new November cooking magazines.  Packed with images of pumpkins and turkeys and stuffing and pies, I was giddily jumping up and down, dog-earring the pages of all of the recipes I couldn’t wait to try.  So many options, so little Fall days to cook!  Many of the recipes I selected were heavy, soulful items.  But these Taiwanese cucumbers were a bright contrast.  One, they require no cooking.  Two, they were a welcome shock of bright green color.  Three, they were Taiwanese!  I decided to take these as a nibble, as a palate cleanser before a heavier, more traditional Sunday supper.  What a hit.  These were so crisp with this amazing smoky sesame flavor.  Even better, they were healthy.  I didn’t fill one shred of guilt gobbling them up.  The main course on the other hand, was another story (and another post to this blog.) I started by grinding up the sesame seeds, salt, and red chili flakes.  The …

Roasted Cauliflower with Anchovy, Red Chili, Garlic, and Pecorino

  I love cauliflower.  I love it raw and dipped in fresh Ranch dressing.  I love it mixed with broccoli and cheese.  I love it cooked in roti with cilantro.  This love is why I feel so disappointed when I find it on the side of an entree plate as an afterthought… usually combined with some sliced carrots and green beans in a puddle of steamy water.  Cauliflower deserves to stand on its own–crisp and meaty and full of flavor.  This dish puts cauliflower at center stage.  I’ve also prepared this dish with chopped moroccan olives and capers (instead of the anchovies) and loved the results. First, prep the cauliflower.  A great trick to prepare cauliflower is to rinse it off and turn it upside down.  Cut off the green leaves to reveal the stalks.  Voila–you can now easily cut into florets by the stem.  Now chop up the anchovies, garlic, and parsley.  I like to keep the garlic in BIG chunks as when cooked, the chunks will become mild and caramelized. Add the olive …

Shiitake Mushroom Risotto with Thyme, Saffron, and Parmesan

Risotto is one of the ultimate comfort foods.  When made right, it’s creamy and belly-warming.  I tend to like my risotto packed with a lot of vegetables–mushrooms being the classic companion.  Here is my take using shiitakes only, but 2 ways: fresh and dried. I soak the dried shiitakes in HOT water for about 45-60 minutes before adding. Start by sauteeing a chopped medium size onion in butter and olive oil until transcluscent.  Add in the sliced mushrooms until cooked down by about half.  Make sure you add salt & white pepper as you cook the risotto–you want those flavors to penetrate the mix as you go.  Once cooked down, add the rice.  Stir well. Once the rice and ‘shrooms saute for a few minutes, add the thyme and saffron threads.  Start adding the chicken stock in 1/2 cup increments, stirring constantly.  After the first 1/2 cup of chicken stock, add the strained mushroom liquid and wine.  Keep adding chicken stock until the rice is tender and the consistency is creamy.   Add 1/2 cup grated …

Butternut Squash Agnolotti with Pancetta, Toasted Breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and Beurre Monte, Part Three: Sauce and Serving

Ahh… the finish line.  The first bite.  Experiencing the combination of textures and tastes: smooth & crunchy; sweet & salty.  Everything in one bite.  Total bliss.  Total joy in knowing that it all turned out–rejoice in your accomplishment!  Now, the final step in making butternut squash agnolotti. After making the fresh pasta, the filling, and composing the finished agnolotti, it’s time to bring it all together by making the sauce and plating.  This part probably takes only 20 minutes–so make sure you save this to just before serving.  Fill a pot with well salted water; cover and bring to a boil.  Meanwhile, start dicing the pancetta, thinly slicing scallions or chives, and chopping garlic into big chunks. Add the pancetta and garlic chunks to a COLD large pan.  Place over medium-low heat.  Once the pancetta and garlic are browned, discard the garlic.  Add the pancetta and pancetta fat to a ramekin and set aside.  Lower the pan heat to low. When the water comes to a boil, drop the fresh (or frozen) agnolotti into the …

Butternut Squash Agnolotti with Pancetta, Toasted Breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and Beurre Monte, Part Two: Filling & Stuffing

This post serves as part two of three posts on how to make Butternut Squash Agnolotti with Pancetta, Toasted Breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and Beurre Monte.  To make the filling for the agnolotti, start by baking one butternut squash.  If you find one already cubed, awesome–that will work just fine.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and white pepper.  Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of light brown sugar.  Bake until the squash is tender and you can easily pierce with a fork.  Cool at room temperature. Once cooled, add the butternut squash flesh (no skin!) to a food processor.  Blend until smooth.  Add the ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, and maple syrup (the real stuff, please.)  The result with be super smooth and creamy with a bright orange color. To fill the agnolotti, fill a pastry bag with the butternut squash/cheese mixture.  Or you can fill a large (gallon-size) Ziploc bag.  Roll down the sides to ease the process.  Twist the bag above the filling to fill the bottom of the bag–snip off the corner of …