Tabbouleh

 

The first time I had this was in a Persian restaurant in Washington DC. What an incredible idea: a salad of parsley. It’s a bit of a pain to make, especially since I don’t like parsley stems, but foolproof.

For this version you’ll need:
• 1 1/2 cups bulgur wheat (medium or course)
• 2 big bunches of parsley
• 1 red onion
• 2 large tomatoes
• 1 cup lemon juice (4-5 lemons)
• 1/2 cup olive oil (I use Nunez)
• 2 tablespoons fresh or dried mint
• Salt and pepper to taste (I use Maldon sea salt and freshly ground Tellicherry pepper)

Equipment I used:
Large mixing bowl
2 cup measuring cup
Mesh strainer
2 quart sauce pan
Lemon squeezer
Cutting board
8 inch chef’s knife

Start proofing the bulgur wheat. There are many ways to do this. I’ve settled on putting it into a mesh strainer fitted into a saucepan—shown above—and running hot water over it to wet the grains until the water reaches the top. I sit it by the sink and about 45 minutes later it’s all puffed up and you can just pick the strainer up and let the water run out.

While this is going on, get out a large bowl, the biggest one you have. Finely dice the tomatoes and put them in your bowl and sprinkle with the Maldon sea salt. Set aside.

In a 2 cup measuring cup, add a half cup of olive oil and stir in the mint; finely minced if using fresh. Squeeze the lemons and add to the olive oil.

Now finely dice the red onion and add it to the olive oil and lemon juice mixture.

Now the parsley. I don’t like stems so I painstakingly pluck the leaves and then coarsely chop them. But you can do this however you want.

Once the bulgur is drained and ready, add everything to the bowl with the tomatoes. Add freshly ground pepper to taste or not.

Watch it disappear in less time than it took to make.

Copyright © 2017 MRStrauss • All rights reserved

Yucatán Bentosh

This inspired take on the traditional rice bowl comes from a trip to the Yucatán peninsula. After discovering these bright pink pickled onions (escabeche de cebolla) in Mérida, I needed a place for them. As with all my recipes, the ingredients here can vary— here, I’ve used ground beef. But it is just as good with shredded spiced chicken or beef, or beans. If you’ve got the time, you could even take this to the next level with Mayan style Cochinita Pibil, which is another dish I first had in Mérida. Cochinita Pibil is like pulled pork, but with a kick from sour orange juice instead of vinegar. There’s a good recipe for this on rickbayless.com.

For this four person version, you’ll need:
• Ground beef (a pound or so)
• One red onion (medium size or however much pickled onion you want)
• Two small/medium yellow onions (one for the rice, one for the beef)
• Medium tomato for the rice
• Two cups Jasmine rice
• Cumin
• Chili powder
• Garlic (two or three cloves should be good)
• Diced tomatoes (14.5oz can)
• Iceberg lettuce (to me, iceberg tastes the best here since it is cool and kind of sweet)
• Cilantro leaves (I pluck the leaves unless the stems are really tender)
• White vinegar (around a cup)
• Salt
• Olive or canola oil
• Additional toppings: avocado, jalapeno slices, shredded cheese….

Equipment I used:
• Three quart saucepan for the rice
• Twelve inch frying pan for the meat
• One quart saucepan for the onions
• Glass bowl with lid for marinating the onions
• Mesh strainer
• Cutting Board
• 8 inch chef’s knife

Work on the onions first because they need time to cool; you can also make them early in the day or days in advance. Thinly slice or roughly chop one medium size red onion and boil covered in water for two minutes or so, until they soften. Don’t worry when you see their color fade. Drain the onions, place in a bowl big enough for them, and cover with white vinegar. Now the magic will happen: they’ll start turning bright pink.

Get a pot out for the rice. Here, I am making around five cups cooked, I think. Add some oil to the pot, I use about a tablespoon of olive or canola oil, and a teaspoon of salt. You can set this on low while your finely chop a half of a yellow onion. Saute the onion until it’s kind of soft. While this is going on, finely dice a medium size tomato or two small ones, or half a ginormous one. When the onion is done, add about a teaspoon each of cumin and chili powder and let that warm up a bit. Add the tomato and saute for a minute. Stir in two cups of rice— I’ve been using Jasmine rice here—and three cups of water and bring to a boil; then cover and set on low for seventeen minutes. This is the perfect rice timing I got from one of my first cookbooks, a ‘learn to cook’ cookbook by Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey, but once I accidentally just turned the burner off and it sat for the seventeen minutes on its own heat and it was fine. Who knows, every time I think something is a ‘must,’ I find it may not be so. But the general rule is a cup and a half of water for every cup of rice and seventeenish minutes. You could also make cilantro lime rice. Or you could also use Near East Rice Pilaf Spanish Rice to cut down on prep time; two boxes would equal about what I have here. Put the bowls on the stove to warm up.

Once the rice is on its own, start browning your ground beef while you chop one yellow onion and a few cloves of garlic. Add the onions and garlic to the meat and brown everything up a bit before adding around a tablespoon of chili powder and a teaspoon of cumin. Give the spices a minute to bloom before adding a 14.5 (why isn’t it 15 ounces?) can of diced tomatoes and their juice. Bring to a boil and then let this simmer. I stir it every few minutes; sometimes I need to add a little water.

While the meat and rice are cooking, you can get the toppings ready. Toppings can be a lot of things here: any kind of lettuce, chopped tomatoes, roasted tomatoes, any kind of salsa, cilantro leaves, sliced jalapeno peppers, roasted peppers, shredded cheese, gosh what else? Don’t forget the pickled onions. I’m sure there’s other stuff. Oh, lime quarters (maybe not with the pickled onions). Avocado. Beans too. I’m allergic to legumes so I can’t really recommend what kind, but they could be in addition to or instead of the meat. Margaritas and mojitos pair well with this. Duh. But Mexican Coke in the green bottle is awesome. Wait! Horchata! That would be most awesome.

Notes: I’m starting to buy some different chili powders. Just like olive oil, there are a lot of different flavor notes in them: different kinds of smoky, some have citrus flavors, and others are almost sweet, some are H-O-T. I find them in local Hispanic markets, where I also see a lot of whole dried peppers. I haven’t advanced to grinding my own, but one day I’ll probably give that a try just to see if it makes a difference. Whole Foods has some different ones now. I use grass-fed ground beef all the time now. In this dish, you can’t really taste the difference, but you can appreciate the tender texture of the grass-fed beef. I also want to try cotija or queso blanco. I’ve made this with jack cheese, but I wasn’t crazy about the flavor.

Copyright © 2017 MRStrauss • All rights reserved

Hark! The Cookie

Common name: White chocolate chip mint chocolate cookies.

Not a bowl recipe,but you could certainly put them in a bowl to eat. I wanted to photograph one in a bowl but it was dark and overcast on both days. And then they were gone. You can also make these in a toaster oven. Two at a time for big cookies and you need to watch the time, you may need more or less then 14 minutes.

So, ok, this was my younger daughter’s idea for a holiday cookie, based on her love of peppermint bark, that we cobbled together from various cookie recipes. I always like to say you can use whatever brands you want because I don’t want to be a food snob, but the truth is the ingredients really make a difference, especially when it comes to desserts. I learned this many moons ago when I first made Georgetown Cupcake’s chocolate ganache cupcake with regular butter, Hershey’s cocoa and chocolate chips. I couldn’t figure out what was so great about these cupcakes. For some reason, I decided to make them with their recommended ingredients: Plugra butter, Valrhona cocoa, Callebaut chips, the whole deal. And WOW! So it’s not that they won’t be good without all these special ingredients, but they won’t be great. I think it was mostly the chocolate that really made a difference, so I didn’t sweat it here when I realized I had only regular salted butter.

6.5 ounce bag of starlight mints or box of candy canes
8 ounces of butter (two sticks), I used regular salted butter this time because that was all I had
1/4 teaspoon salt if using unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2/3  cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
2 cups of flour (I used Gold Medal)
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa (I used Guittard Cocoa Rouge)
1 teaspoon baking powder
12 ounces of white chocolate chips (I used Guittard Choc-Au-Lait)

Get the butter and eggs out to soften and get up to room temperature (this usually takes a half hour or so).

Get the oven going at 350˚.

Line cookie sheets with parchment or silicone mats (such as Silpat) if needed.

Bash the candy into something around the size of Red Hots or M&M Minis. Careful here. The first time I used a rolling pin and now it is covered in pock marks. I had better success placing the candy between two layers of heavy duty zip lock bags and using the flat side of a meat mallet on a plastic cutting board. I have also used a food processor, but that just turns it to mostly dust (it also gets the machine really hot and etches the bowl).

Combine 2 cups of flour, 2/3 cup cocoa, and 1 teaspoon baking powder. Set aside. I don’t usually sift the dry ingredients together unless it’s a cake or cupcake.

With a stand or hand mixer, cream together 8 ounces of butter, 1 cup sugar, and 2/3 cup brown sugar. Scrape down as needed. Add the eggs. Mix until all mixed together.

Scrape down the bowl and begin adding the dry ingredients in three additions. Scraping down between each addition. This is to help incorporate the dry ingredients and also to keep you from having a flour bomb go off.

Once everything is thoroughly mixed, fold in the crushed candy and white chocolate chips. Don’t worry if the batter seems ridiculously thick.

Now you can decide what size you want the cookie. I used a large ice cream scoop that holds a ⅓ of a cup. I baked 5 cookies at a time on a large baking sheet. This made a ‘monster’ size cookie between 4 and 5 inches across. I baked these for 14 minutes. I did one sheet at a time, although if I would have turned the convection on, I could have done three sheets at a time.

Let cool slightly and eat.

Copyright © 2016 MRStrauss • All rights reserved

Thai Beef and Basil

I keep a few well-wrapped packages of ground beef in the freezer for quick recipes like this. You could use any ground meat or tofu. I’ve tried it with both Italian and Thai basil. I like them both; the Thai basil is a little stronger. I have also used brown, Basmati, and Jasmine rice and I think I like the Jasmine best. Again, this would have been another good recipe for when I first lived in New York and had nothing but a two burner hot plate and a toaster oven.

For this four person version you’ll need:
• Around a pound to a pound and a third of ground beef
• Two cups Jasmine rice
• Around six cloves of garlic
• A half cup beef broth or water
• Two cups basil leaves
• Two to three carrots julienned or shredded (I use this Japanese julienne tool)
• Tablespoon of Canola oil (if cooking rice in pot)
• Half cup rice wine (optional)
• Salt and pepper
• Two red chiles or add chili garlic sauce at end
For the sauce:
• A quarter cup of soy sauce
• A quarter cup of fish sauce or oyster sauce or hoisin
• Tablespoon of sugar
To finish:
• One cup basil leaves (torn if big)
• Two to three carrots julienned or shredded (I use this Japanese julienne tool)
• Four to six scallions
• One lime cut into four wedges
• Chili garlic sauce
Cooking equipment I used:
• Ten inch frying pan for beef
• Pot for rice—I used a 3 quart saucepan, or rice cooker

If using frozen beef, get that started in the pan, breaking it up as it browns. Then make the rice how you want. I usually heat the rice up in a tablespoon of canola oil, stirring to coat, and then add a cup and a half of water for every cup of rice. Here, I used two cups of rice and three cups of water. Add salt to water if desired. Bring to a boil and cover for 15 minutes before fluffing. Put your bowls on the stove to warm up.

While the beef is browning, julienne the carrots, remove stems from basil, finelly slice the scallions, and take skins off garlic cloves. Stir the soy sauce, fish sauce, and sugar together. When the beef is browned, add the garlic. You can slice, finely mince, or put the garlic through a press and add to the beef. Let this work together for a minute. Deglaze the pan with a half cup of rice wine and let that almost burn off. Then add the beef broth and two cups of basil. When the basil is wilted and the sauce is bubbling, it’s ready! Put some rice in the bowls, top with the beef and basil, then divide the the basil and carrots, then drizzle over the sauce, and finally, sprinkle the scallions. Serve with lime wedges and chili garlic sauce.

Copyright © 2016 MRStrauss • All rights reserved

Salmon Teriyaki

The only part of this recipe where measure matters is for the rice and even there I haven’t found the need to be too precise. Perfect rice is perfect for you: add more water, less water, more salt, oil, a bay leaf, a chopped onion. In time, you’ll have a lot of perfect rice. I like baked brown rice— it turns out with a little more bite left to it. This also works well if you are roasting the asparagus since you can make double use of the heat your oven worked hard to get. I do try to make extra rice since it is so useful for so many things— even plain for a quick snack. But sometimes everyone is really hungry and the only thing left is a small prize of rice scrapings for whoever is cleaning the dishes. If you need to adapt this for a tiny kitchen, you can bake the salmon in a toaster oven and do the rice and broccolini on a two burner stove. Or do the rice in the oven and pan fry the salmon.

Broccolini options: You could use any greens here. I have made this with something called ‘Chinese broccoli’ and also with baby bok choy. All steamed. But stir frying the vegetables would work too.

Salmon options: I have been seeking out wild Sockeye, King, or Coho salmon because they have the deepest color. I’m not sure what goes on with farmed salmon, but they look like I do after a long winter—pale. Some even have natural color added. Something added is never natural. What color was it before? I would rather have a smaller piece of a salmon that lived the salmon life. And here you don’t need a big piece. I might try arctic char the next time. Also you can either pan fry the salmon or bake it at 275ºF until it reaches 140º (about 30 minutes for a one pound piece.)

Rice options: Instead of brown rice, you could use white rice, quinoa, couscous…

Sauce options: I have been using bottled teriyake sauce. The Whole Foods brand has a pretty good one.

Time note: If you do the baked rice, it will take about 10 minutes to prep and boil the water and 50 minutes in the oven. Everything else will come together within that time. I usually manage to clean up the kitchen and check messages, email, etc. while things are cooking.

For this four person version, you’ll need:
• Around a quarter to a third of a pound per person for the salmon
• 3 cups of medium grain brown rice
• Two bunches of broccolini
• Around a half cup teriyake sauce
• Around four or five spring onions finely sliced to garnish
• Salt, ground pepper, olive or canola oil
Optional: sea salt flakes, fresh cracked pepper

Cooking Equipment I used:
• Frying pan for salmon (I used a 12″ pan for four pieces of salmon)
• 4 quart pot with steamer insert
• Anchor Hocking 11 cup covered baking dish or 9×13 baking dish with foil to cover for the rice
• Four cup Pyrex measuring cup for boiling water

Get the oven going at 375º.

Next, get the rice going. This is my big, hoping for leftovers portion, but you can cut it in half or thirds:
• Mix 3 cups medium grain brown rice and 3/4 tsp table salt in the baking dish
• Bring 4 2/3 cups water to a boil in a pot or microwave in a four cup Pyrex measuring cup (it will fit the extra 2/3 cup) or other microwave safe bowl.
• Add the boiling water to the rice
• Stir in 2 tablespoons of olive oil
• Cover and bake for about 50 minutes.

Once the rice is in, put the bowls on the stove to warm up and cut up the broccolini in roughly 3 inch pieces. Discard (or compost) any really woody ends. Set aside until you get the salmon in the pan. Prepare the pot and steamer. Add about a cup to cup and a half water and set on low.

When the rice has about fifteen minutes left, set a pan or a griddle on the stove and let it get good and hot. Prepare your salmon: rinse, dry, remove any bones, season with a little table salt and ground or fresh cracked pepper. You can cut into serving sizes or leave whole.

Turn the steamer up to high. Put the broccolini when the salmon has about four minutes to go.

Sear the salmon flesh side down, turning after it releases from the pan and has a little crust to it; I don’t find that I need any oil here, I just have to wait for the pan to let it go after a few minutes. Sear the other side a few minutes and let the skin crisp up, someone at the table will probably love a side dish of crispy salmon skins. Turn the heat down and let it finish cooking, anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes depending on how thick it is and how done you want it to be. Sneak a peek with a sharp knife at the thickest part if you’re not sure. I always do this because I’m never sure. When the salmon is almost done, take out the rice and uncover the broccolini

It’s ready. Remove the skins from the salmon if you want. Or leave them on. Coat the salmon with the teriyaki. Assemble your little bowl with as much or as little as you want. Top with spring onions.

Why a bowl? You can use any kind of dish, but I like a bowl. I like to cup my hand around the bowl while I’m eating to share a little of the food’s warmth with my hands. The best part is at the end: holding the bowl helps you get every last bit out. Also it’s easier to make food look nice in a bowl.

Notes: For olive oil, I use Columela, for sea salt flakes, I use Maldon, and for pepper, I use the Tellicherry variety. I use table salt for anything mixed in or cooked and save the sea salt flakes for finishing or roasting. Using these ingredients adds a little extra flavor to the dish and they’re getting much easier to find now.

Copyright © 2016 MRStrauss • All rights reserved

Tamogoyaki

Searching for a simple way to bring eggs to the dinner table for everyone at the same time, led me to this very loose version of the Japanese rolled omelette. I was looking for something a step up from scrambled— although warm, creamy, and topped with herbs, they are sublime—and not quite as heavy as a frittata, or as ethereal as a souffle. And simple— everything goes in the oven and then into a bowl. The eggs here come out very tender.

Potato options: You don’t even have to use potatoes, you could just do just vegetables— maybe peppers, eggplant, and onions? They wouldn’t need as much time to roast. You can also add other root vegetables, like carrots or parsnips, different onions, any color of peppers— I think I will try orange peppers next time.

Egg options: Any kind of cheese or herbs that you like would work. I find that I like it without the cheddar cheese, but everyone else wants it so I leave a little strip uncheesed.

For this four person version, you’ll need:
• Six large or extra large eggs (organic ones usually have better color and flavor)
• Tablespoon of butter for gracing baking dish
• One cup of whole milk
• One quarter cup of all-purpose flour
• One tablespoon Dijon mustard
• Six or eight or so Yukon Gold potatoes (depending on size)
• One large yellow onion
• One large red pepper
• A half cup of parsley leaves (I don’t like the stems, so I pluck the leaves)
• Enough chives to make around a quarter cup finely chopped
• Around a half cup shredded/grated cheddar cheese
• Salt, ground pepper, olive or canola oil
Optional: sea salt flakes, fresh cracked pepper

Cooking equipment I used:
• 10×15 Pyrex baking dish
• Parchment paper
• 13×18 sheet pan for the potatoes (I use a non-stick one)

Arrange the shelves in the oven so one is just below the center and one above with enough room on the center shelf for the baking dish with the eggs. Get the oven going at 375º. Put as many potato cubes—I use Yukon Gold and leave the skin on—yellow onions, and red pepper as you want in a bowl. I have been cutting everything into cubes somewhere around a half inch, but larger or smaller would work fine just the timing would be a little different. Toss the vegetables in some good-tasting olive oil—or oil of your choice— and spread out on your baking sheet. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. Put in the oven on the top rack so it can get started. The potatoes will take around 45 minutes including browning. Set the bowls on the stove to warm.

Grease some sort of pan or oven-proof dish that is around 10×15 with butter and line with parchment paper. I use a Pyrex baking dish and I usually cut one piece of parchment about ten inches by twenty-three or four inches so it hangs down the sides. This will help you roll the omelette. In a large bowl, whisk together one cup of whole milk— soy or almond milk may work here but I’m allergic to them so I can’t say— with a quarter cup of flour by adding the milk slowly to the flour until it is blended. I used basic all-purpose flour but I’m sure other flours, such as rice flour, would work as well. Add six large eggs, a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, and around half a teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Whisk everything together. Pour the egg mixture into the parchment lined baking dish. When the potatoes have been in around 25 minutes, place the eggs on the middle rack. The eggs will go in for ten to thirteen minutes or so depending on how runny or firm you want your eggs to be. While the eggs are cooking, finely chop a bunch or handful of chives and then a similar amount of parsley. Shred the cheddar cheese if using.

When the eggs are ready, take them out and put the oven on broil to finish the potatoes. Here too it depends on your taste, I like to get them browned to the point where another thirty seconds or so and they would be ashes. And sometimes they do get burnt when you play it close like that. While this is happening, sprinkle the hot eggs with most of the chopped chives and grated cheddar cheese. Then you can lift the parchment up on one end to help you start to roll it. Don’t worry if it’s not tight enough— you can just re-roll it or leave it loose. Wrap the parchment around the roll to hold it together and let it rest. When the potatoes are ready, put some in each bowl and top with parsley. Then remove the parchment and slice of the egg like you would a jelly roll, put the egg on top of the potatoes and top with remaining chives; you can add other toppings if you want: more cheese, scallions, sriracha, ketchup, anything you can think of. If you have a bunch of people, you can put toppings out for folks to choose.

Notes:
For olive oil, I use Columela— it has a sort of spicy flavor, for sea salt flakes, I use Maldon, and for pepper, I use the Tellicherry variety. I use table salt for anything mixed in or cooked and save the sea salt flakes for finishing or roasting. Using these ingredients adds a little extra flavor to the dish and they’re getting much easier to find now.

Copyright © 2015 MRStrauss • All rights reserved

Insalata Caprese with Smoked Mozzarella and Basil

This is almost too simple to put here, but I love this version with smoked mozzarella. All you need to do is slice or cut your tomatoes however you want, sprinkle with sea salt flakes and let sit for a few minutes while you cut up the mozzarella and basil. In this recipe, the mozzarella is more of an accent than a equal player; sometimes I do little cubes, sometimes sticks. If I have enough basil florets, I’ll use those; if not, I’ll do a chiffonade. The trick here, for me— and maybe this is just my imagination— is pouring the balsamic vinegar over the tomatoes before putting the mozzarella on top because I think it makes the cheese go tough. Weird. Also, some folks think adding vinegar is a travesty, but I think a little works well here. So, to taste and depending how hungry you are, tomatoes, salt flakes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar (you need very little of this, probably around teaspoon for a cup and a half of tomatoes), fresh cracked pepper, smoked mozzarella, and basil. Pair it with garlic bread and corn on the cob and voila! And a big glass of ice water with lemon, double voila!

Copyright © 2016 MRStrauss • All rights reserved

Southwesterly Salad

If you buy a cooked rotisserie chicken or cooked chicken breasts, then this is a no heat in the summer salad. Even if you bake the chicken breasts like I do, it’s a low mess recipe and perfect for tiny kitchens. When I bake the chicken breasts, I dust them with a little salt, pepper, and smoked paprika.

Dressing:
• Small plain Greek yogurt (usually around 5 ounces)
• Juice of one lime
• Quarter cup or so of olive oil
• Two tablespoons of minced cilantro
• Half teaspoon each of cumin and garlic powder
• Salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Salad:
• Around two-thirds a cup of cubed chicken per person
• Around two cups roughly cut romaine lettuce per person
• Around a quarter of an avocado per person
• Sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, red pepper, and red onion

As always everything can vary. The chicken could be turkey, or maybe smoked turkey, maybe scallions instead of red onions…corn kernels…the leftover fried onions from Thanksgiving….a hit of Ancho chili peppers or Siracha in the dressing…

Copyright © 2016 MRStrauss • All rights reserved

Summer Sole

I love how bright tasting this is. I’ve made it with orzo and quinoa and both are equally good. I was originally going to make this with tilapia but I got sole instead. This turned out to be a good thing— sole is so thin, I decided to roll it up and that worked really well here. Although there is some preparation involved with the vegetables, overall the dish keeps the simplicity I was looking for. Actually, after watching a show about tiny houses— the ones built on trailer beds— I realized this would work well for a tiny kitchen: you could easily do the fish in a toaster oven and you only need a two burner stove for the rest.

Options: There are always options. I mention trying quinoa instead of orzo above. I think couscous would also be a good base. The fish could be another sort of mild, white fish. I tried this with tilapia, but I wasn’t crazy about it. I’m sure there are other fishes that will work here, so I’ll keep an eye out. Snapper? You can top the fish with some toasted Panko at the end if you like some crunch. Or maybe ground nuts. I have a nut allergy so I can’t tell you if nuts are a possibility here. What other crunchy things are there? I also want to try adding some red pepper; maybe taking out the carrots and/or the squash. If there’s asparagus around, that would be good here too. I was thinking about adding some tarragon to the parsley sauce next time; I wonder if basil would work instead of the parsley? Lots of things could be really good here.

For this four person version, you’ll need:
• Two medium or one large filet of sole for each person (cut large ones in half lengthwise)
• Two cups of orzo
• Two crowns of broccoli
• Three carrots
• One or two yellow squash (depending on size)
• Garlic (I used four cloves vegetables and four in the sauce)
• One lemon
• Two cups of parsley leaves (I don’t like the stems, so I pluck the leaves)
• Salt, ground pepper, olive oil (or other mild oil)
Optional: sea salt flakes, fresh cracked pepper

Cooking equipment I used:
• Saute or frying pan for the vegetables (I used a 12″ frying pan)
• Sheet pan lined with parchment if needed for the fish (I used a 13×18 because that’s what I have, but it could be smaller, even a toaster oven pan)
• 3 qt saucepan for the orzo

Get the oven going at 400°F.

Start with the the sauce so it can have a little time for the flavors to come together. Combine about two cups of finely chopped parsley with the zest and juice of one lemon, around a third of a cup of olive oil, a teaspoon of salt, and one to four or more garlic cloves —finely chopped or run through a garlic press. I use the zest and juice of one lemon to be economical and as many a four cloves of garlic because I love garlic and around and enough olive oil to give it the consistency of a sauce. You could also blitz it in a small food processor or one of those bullet things.

Next, get a pot of water going on high for the orzo and set your bowls on the stove to warm.

While the water’s heating up, rinse and dry the sole. On a baking sheet, with parchment paper if needed, brush the fish with olive oil and sprinkle with fresh cracked pepper and sea salt flakes; then roll the fish up bow to stern and repeat with olive oil, salt, and pepper on the outside. Set the fish aside.

Then set to work on your vegetables. Get the pan warming up on medium with a teaspoon or so of olive oil and a little salt. I cut the carrots and squash into thin half-moons and the broccoli into small half-florets (you can save the stems for slaw).

The water for the orzo should be ready now, so that can go in. It usually takes around nine minutes, but go with whatever the box says.

Then saute the vegetables. I turn the pan up to medium-high and put the carrots in first for a minute or so, then the broccoli, and then the squash. If you want to avoid using a pan, you could also boil the vegetables in with the orzo by adding the carrots the last four minutes and the broccoli and squash for the last three to two depending on the thickness. When the vegetables are almost ready, add one to four of more garlic cloves—finely chopped or run through a garlic press.

Once the orzo is in and the vegetables are sauteing, the fish can have its turn in the oven. The fish is ready when an instant read thermometer says 145ºF or when a fork or knife can easily go through the thickest part. This is somewhere around seven minutes.

Do I need to say ‘drain the orzo’?

Then it all comes together in a filling little bowl. I’m thinking next time I’ll give the finished bowls an extra splash of lemon and dash of sea salt flakes before it hits the table.

Notes: For olive oil, I use Columela or Nuñez de Prado— they both have a sort of spicy flavor, for sea salt flakes, I use Maldon, and for pepper, I use the Tellicherry variety. I use table salt for anything mixed in or cooked and save the sea salt flakes for finishing or roasting. Using these ingredients adds a little extra flavor to the dish and they’re getting much easier to find now.

Copyright © 2014 MRStrauss • All rights reserved

Horiatki with Pasta

This is always my first ‘welcome to summer’ recipe. Although tomatoes won’t be in around where I live until July, they are not the star here so I don’t mind using those Kumato ones. This is a definite tiny kitchen recipe: just one pot for the pasta.

Pasta options: After trying penne and some sort of short ziti, I’ve settled on conchiglie. You could try bow ties or rotelle; there’s probably a lot of fun pastas that would work here.

Other options: You could add some oregano or maybe some sliced Pepperoncini.

Time note: I usually manage to get everything chopped and ready to go by the time the pasta is ready.

For this four person version, you’ll need:
• One pound conchiglie pasta
• Half cup of mayonnaise
• Quarter cup of white wine or rice wine vinegar
• Half cup of good tasting olive oil
• One to four or more cloves of garlic
• Four or five Kumato tomatoes
• Around eight or ten Kalamata olives
• Half a small red onion
• One cucumber
• A handful of parsley
• Around three ounces or more of crumbled feta
• Fresh cracked pepper
• Sea salt flakes

Get the pasta water going; add salt if you want.

Then get a big bowl, big enough to hold all the pasta and the rest of the stuff. I have three white mixing bowls that nest together, I use the largest one.

In a two cup Pyrex measuring cup, add the mayonnaise. Slowly add the vinegar while stirring, then slowly add the olive oil while stirring. Run as many cloves of garlic as you like through the garlic press ( I used four big ones) and add to the mixture. Add pepper to taste. Set aside.

Cut the tomatoes into a small dice. Put them in the bowl and sprinkle with sea salt flakes. Cut the olives into a small dice and add this to the mayonnaise mixture. Next cut the red onion into a small dice and add this to the mayonnaise mixture. Skin the cucumber and cut it in half; with a spoon, remove the seeds, then slice into strips and cut into a medium dice. Put these in the bowl around the tomatoes. Finely chop the parsley and add it to the bowl.

When your pasta is done, run it under cold water to cool it. Once it’s cooled, add it to the bowl and mix together. Then add the mayonnaise mixture and combine, and then add the feta and mix until just combined.

Put in your bowls and serve with? In my house it’s water with lemon.

Notes: For olive oil, I use Columela— it has a sort of spicy flavor, for sea salt flakes, I use Maldon, and for pepper, I use the Tellicherry variety. I use table salt for anything mixed in or cooked and save the sea salt flakes for finishing or roasting. Using these ingredients adds a little extra flavor to the dish and they’re getting much easier to find now.

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