May 17, 2016

Mortadella-Wrapped Asparagus Dandelion Greens Salad


Ingredients:

for the salad:

1/4 lb thinly sliced mortadella
1 lb asparagus
4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
1 bunch red radishes, sliced
1 cucumber, sliced
1 large bunch dandelion greens, chopped
1/4-1/3 cup shaved parmesan or asiago (or a mix)

for the dressing:

1/4 cup white wine or cognac vinegar
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with foil.

Tightly wrap two asparagus spears in one slice of mortadella. Repeat for remaining asparagus. Arrange in a single layer on the lined baking sheet. Bake 5-10 minutes or until the asparagus is warmed through and the mortadella is crisping around the edges. Set aside.

In a large bowl, toss together the remaining salad ingredients. Whisk together the dressing ingredients until well-combined.

Divide the salad among 4 plates. Drizzle with dressing. Top with wrapped asparagus.

My thoughts:
I saw a picture of a salad on Instagram that had a salad topped with asparagus wrapped in some sort of meat and thought it would be fun to make at home. It really took the salad from bland to much more exciting and meal-worthy. I love the imported mortadella I get from my local Italian store so I thought it would be the perfect meat to use around the asparagus. It added the same sort of meaty, salty flavor as the more common prosciutto but the garlic and pistachio added to the flavor as well. Plus it was easier to eat; the texture is much softer than the oft chewy prosciutto. Try, it might become you new favorite spring salad.

Apologies for the lack of posting this month! I had high hopes (May marks the 12th year I've been posting recipes here at Coconut & Lime) but life got in the way. Weekends have been busy and we have been planning the most important part of our upcoming European adventure: where to eat. I've been relying on old favorites and easy dishes too much this month! Look for more recipes in June (if not before) and keep up with me on Instagram and Twitter.


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May 02, 2016

Elotes-style Cauliflower




Ingredients:
1 medium-large head cauliflower, broken into florets
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons Mexican crema or sour cream
1 tablespoon TAJÍN seasoning
1/3 cup finely crumbled Cotija cheese
1/4 cup chopped green onion (green parts only)
lime wedges

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with foil. Lightly coat the cauliflower in olive oil and arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet. Roast 30 minutes or until lightly browned and fork-tender. Allow to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, stir together mayonnaise, sour cream, cheese, TAJÍN seasoning, and green onion in a large bowl until well combined. Pour over the cauliflower and stir to evenly distribute. Divide into bowls. Sprinkle more TAJÍN seasoning and Cotija on top as desired. Serve with lime wedges.



My thoughts:
Mexican street corn aka elotes, and its salad cousin, esquites, is corn-on-the-cob (or off the cob for esquites) spread with mayo, Cotija cheese, lime and chile powder. I love it but corn isn't in season now. I had cauliflower in my cart when I came across a huge bag of crumbled Cotija (at Aldi of all places) and we thought it would be fun to dress up roasted cauliflower elotes style.

When I've made it in the past, I've used ancho, chipotle or even just chili powder but I had some
TAJÍN seasoning leftover from another recipe and used that instead. Traditionally used on fruit, TAJÍN seasoning is a mix of chile peppers, lime, and salt, exactly the same ingredients you need to make elotes so it seemed like a no-brainer to use that on my elotes inspired cauliflower. If you don't have it, up the lime juice, add a sprinkle of salt and sub in your favorite chile powder.

I love how it came out, cauliflower can be a bit of a blank canvas so the flavors really stood out and I love the squirt of fresh lime. It was spicy, creamy and tart all at once. An inspired side dish as we move towards warmer weather.
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April 29, 2016

Baked Matzo Brei with Mixed Greens, Mushrooms and Smoked Herring


Ingredients:
1 6.7 oz can smoked herring in oil
1 bunch green onion, white and green parts chopped
8 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 bunch spinach, chopped
1 bunch arugula, chopped
1 sheet egg and onion (or plain!) matzo, broken into 1/2 inch pieces
8 eggs, beaten
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

Pour the contents of the tin of herring in a large skillet. Add the remaining ingredients. Use a spoon to break up the herring into bite-sized pieces and saute until the mushrooms are cooked and the greens are wilted. Allow to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, stir the salt and pepper in the eggs. Fold in the vegetables and matzo. Pour into a greased 8x8 inch baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes or until fully cooked through. Allow to sit 2 minutes prior to slicing and serving.

My thoughts:
Passover is wrapping up but maybe you are like me and still have a bit of matzo to use up. This dish transforms the traditional breakfast dish, matzo brei (basically sweet or savory scrambled eggs with broken matzo), into a dish that is much hardier and can even serve as a dinner, lunch or brunch dish. I used a ton of local fresh greens in this recipe; so much so the whole dish turned nearly green itself. The arugula added a peppery bite which offset the rich, smoking herring. The matzo get rather soft and disappear into the egg except for the bits that peek out of the top, they stay much crispier. Think of it as a Jewish twist on a breakfast casserole, frittata or strata.

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April 27, 2016

Homestyle Chopped Liver




Ingredients:
1 lb chicken liver
3 hard-boiled eggs
1 small onion, diced
3 tablespoons schmaltz*
salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Heat the schmaltz in a small skillet. Add the liver and onions and cook until the liver is cooked through and the onions are starting to look a bit black around the edges and are very soft and translucent everywhere else. Allow to cool to close to room temperature. Scrape everything from the pan onto a cutting board. Chop the liver, onions and egg until into fine crumbs that start to stick together (thanks to the schmaltz), about 5-10 minutes. Add more schmaltz or olive oil to bind if it is very dry. Stir in salt and pepper. Refrigerate 1 hour prior to serving for best flavor.


*To render chicken fat to make schmaltz: Heat a sauté pan, add the fat, and the small onion, quartered and cook over medium heat until the fat is rendered. Strain into a heat safe bowl or measuring cup. Or use olive oil.

My thoughts:
Growing up my dad would say "what am I chopped liver?" whenever he felt he was being overlooked for something; implying that chopped liver was something no one wanted. Matt on the other hand, grew up eating chopped liver and it was quite an enjoyable thing indeed. Now that we are married, we make chopped liver and it is tasty! We like coarser texture like the one Matt's grandmother made so we do it all by hand versus using a grinder or food processor. Smoother textured chopped liver is okay but not our favorite! We have given chopped liver a lot of thought, possibly more than anyone else has to such a simple dish.  We've had chopped liver at delis that is slightly sweet which we didn't particularly like and found puzzling until I figured out I bet they add wine (a common variation or cognac) and since the delis are kosher, I'm sure they were using kosher wine which can be quite sweet. This is not a sweet or smooth chopped liver but it is delicious and perfect for smearing on a bit of onion and egg matzo.

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April 25, 2016

Spring Matzo Ball Soup with Herb Matzo Balls


Ingredients:

for the stock:
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 parsnips
2 carrots
2 stalks celery
1 onion, quartered
1 bunch fresh parsley
3-4 springs thyme
2-3 springs rosemary
several sage leaves
1 large chicken, cut into pieces, skin/fat removed and reserved
2 quarts chicken stock

for the soup:
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery
parsley
3 cloves garlic, sliced
3 carrots, sliced into coins
2 small to medium turnips, diced
1 bunch spring onions, bulbs and greens chopped (not scallions!)


for the matzo balls:
3 tablespoons rendered chicken fat* or olive oil
1 cup matzo meal
1 cup hot water
1 egg
1/4 cup minced parsley, thyme and sage
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions:
 For the stock:
In a large soup pot, place all of the ingredients for the stock. The broth should be covering the chicken. If not, add water or additional to cover. Over high heat, bring to boil then reduce to low and simmer, partially covered for 1 hour, every 10 minutes, skim any scum that floats to the surface off.

For the matzo balls: (start this when you get the stock going)
Pour the water into a large bowl and top with matzo meal, stir to combine. Add 3 tablespoons rendered fat (if you don't have 3 tablespoons' worth, make up the difference in oil), herbs, salt, egg and white pepper. Stir to combine, refrigerate for 1 hour.


After the stock has cooked for one hour, remove the chicken and place in a bowl. Strain the broth through a fine strainer into another large pot, pressing the solids to release any liquids. Discard solids. Shred or chop the chicken.

Return the stock to the pot.  Add the soup ingredients. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove the matzo meal mixture from the refrigerator and, using wet hands, roll into 1 inch balls.



In a second pot, bring a large amount of salted water to boil. Drop the matzo balls into the water and cook 15 minutes, they should float to the top but this does not mean they are ready, cook the full 15 minutes.


To serve: place 2 matzo balls in each bowl (should serve 4-6) and ladle the soup over. Serve right away.


Store leftover soup and matzo balls in separate containers in the refrigerator. Add the matzo balls to the soup and warm it on the stove top to serve.


*To render chicken fat to make schmaltz for the matzo balls: Heat a sauté pan, add the fat, and the small onion, quartered and cook over medium heat until the fat is rendered. Strain into a heat safe bowl or measuring cup.


My thoughts:
The best part of Passover dining is matzo ball soup. We try to make it every year; it is super simple but time-consuming because it of the rendering the chicken fat to make schmaltz, make a super rich broth, make matzo balls and soup. It takes about 2 hours, (don't tell, but in a pinch you can use rotisserie chicken, store bought stock and olive oil for a passable matzo ball soup) but the end result is worth it. This version doesn't feature the crystal clear broth that we have made in the past, the spring onions turn it a bit cloudy and quite honestly, slightly green but the flavor is magnificent. Plus it uses two of the few vegetables in season this time of year, turnips and spring onions.

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April 14, 2016

Rapini, Smoked Trout and Beluga Lentil Salad




Ingredients:

1 large bunch rapini, chopped
1 3.9 oz tin smoked trout in oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons nonpareil capers
8 oz cooked Beluga lentils*
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced



Directions:
Place the rapini in a pot with 2 inches of water, bring to a boil and cook until the rapini starts to wilt and is bright green. Drain and place in a large bowl. Set aside.

Drain the oil from the trout into a small bowl, whisk in vinegar and capers. Pour over the rapini. Chop the trout. Add to the bowl along with the lentils and onions. Serve hot or at room temperature.



*Tip: many stores, include Target, sell these fully cooked in vacuum-sealed packets. Simply heat them according to package instructions.
My thoughts:
One of my favorite leafy greens is rapini and it is just coming into season now. It can be bitter but lightly steaming it yields a more peppery flavor than a bitter one. It is a bit early in the year for a traditional salad so I thought I'd make this lentil speckled one. It is packed with flavor thanks to the smoked trout and capers; a wonderful combination of peppery, smoky and salty. Beluga lentils are one my absolute favorite lentils. Like French du Puy lentils, they hold their shape unlike other lentils which get soft and mushy making them great for salads, side dishes and soup.

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April 12, 2016

Creamy Spaetzle with Kale and Mushrooms


Ingredients:
10 oz dried spaetzle
1 lb baby Red Russian Kale
8 oz sliced crimini mushrooms
5 oz crumbled blue cheese
1 onion, halved and sliced
1-2 tablespoons butter
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Direction:
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the spaetzle and kale. Cook according to package instructions, about 10-12 minutes until the spaetzle is tender.

Meanwhile, saute the onion and mushrooms until the onions are nearly caramelized. Add the drained spaetzle and kale, saute 1-2 minutes until well combined. Remove from heat and stir in cheese. Serve immediately.

My thoughts:
I love spaetzle but rarely make it at home. I found a big bag and thought I'd have to change that! The kale and mushroom makes it a full side dish and the cheese is an easy short cut to creamy flavor. A fun and quick(!) alternative to macaroni and cheese.


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