garlic

Cambodian Pineapple Salad

by Anne Maxfield on April 13, 2017

Accidental Locavore Pineapple Salad IngredientsWho knew I’d fall in love with a pineapple salad?

Last week I conned my bestie into taking a Cambodian cooking class with me at Brooklyn Kitchen.

The Accidental Locavore did it mostly because I had no clue what Cambodian cooking was all about.

Had never eaten it.

Or cooked it.

It’s like its neighbors Vietnam, Thai, Laos, and uses the five tastes that are essential to that part of the world – sweet, bitter, sour, salty and umami.

One of our favorite dishes was this pineapple salad. It makes a big bowl of salad, depending on the size of your pineapple.

Cambodian Pineapple Salad

Salad:

  • 1 medium pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into 1” chunks
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and julienned
  • ¼ cup mint leaves, sliced thin
  • ½ bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped (include stems)
  • ¼ cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 scallions, sliced thin

Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime and 1 lemon
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Thai or serrano chile, thinly sliced
  • 1/2” piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • ¼ cup grapeseed oil
  • 1 teaspoon sambal sauce (or Sriracha)

Place all the salad ingredients in a large bowl.

To make the dressing, put all the ingredients in a small container with a (tight) lid. Shake to combine. Taste and adjust the lemon, fish sauce and chile to taste.

Pour over the salad, toss, serve and enjoy!

My verdict:

I guess it’s time to change (or open my mind) about sweet ingredients with savory ones. This pineapple salad is a perfect example. It’s not something I would normally make, but it was my favorite dish of the class! The dressing would be good on all kinds of things, like chicken, fish or shrimp.

As a matter of fact, everyone at my table thought the whole thing would make a wonderful ceviche!

You can add or remove almost any ingredient. I’d add basil, especially Thai Holy Basil if I came across some. The salad we had in class had red and green peppers, I’m not a huge fan, so left them out of my version. Mango could easily replace the pineapple–you get the idea. Have fun!

I made it and brought it to a Slow Food Hudson Valley meeting and everyone loved it, guess this is a keeper.

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Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

by Anne Maxfield on March 23, 2017

Stuffed shells used to be the Wednesday special at the pizza place near my office.

Shells and two sides for $6.50. Couldn’t beat that.

It was a family-run place that was there for years.

No more.

And I don’t think I’ve had stuffed shells since then.

These were in the NY Times recently and it seemed like the right time to give it a try.

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

  • 1 pound baby spinach, rinsed, or 2 pounds bunch spinach, stemmed and washed thoroughly
  • Salt
  • 12 ounces giant pasta shells
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves, cut in half
  • 10 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons minced chives
  • 2 ounces Parmesan, grated, about 1/2 cup
  • Pepper
  • 2 cups marinara sauce

Accidental Locavore Stuffing for Shells

Bring a large pot of well-salted (“it should taste like the sea”) water to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice water. Cook the spinach until just wilted (about 30 seconds) and transfer to the ice water, then drain. Squeeze out excess water.

Bring the water in the pot back to a boil and add the pasta shells. Cook about 10 minutes, until al dente, drain and toss with the olive oil. Set aside.

In a food processor fitted with the steel blade chop the garlic. Add the spinach and pulse to chop finely. Add the ricotta and the egg and process until well blended.

Add 1/3 cup of the Parmesan, the chives, and salt and pepper to taste. Pulse until well blended.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Oil a large baking dish (or two 2-quart dishes), big enough to fit the shells in one layer.

Fill each shell with a scant tablespoon of the filling.

Arrange in a single layer in the baking dish.

Accidental Locavore Stuffed Shells and Sausage

Top with the tomato sauce and cover the dish with foil.

Bake 30 minutes. Remove from the heat, sprinkle on the remaining Parmesan, serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Sauce for Shells

My verdict: Delicious! On Frank’s request, I added some hot Italian sausage that I’d removed from the casing, chunked up and browned.

Because making and stuffing the shells was enough work on a weeknight, I used a Tomato and Italian Olive sauce I was given to try. It’s made in Barcelona by Delicious & Sons, but packed and shipped from Poughkeepsie (more about that and them at a later date). It was well named as it was delicious – a good tomato taste and a nice bite of olive here and there (and once I recycled the jar, no one would know it wasn’t homemade)! All the ingredients are organic and there’s nothing your nonna wouldn’t use. My thanks to Ricky for that and an assortment of other goodies I haven’t had time to enjoy!

Back to the shells. I didn’t have quite a pound of spinach, but I did have a lot of ricotta.

Even with that, I had a ton more shells than stuffing. They’re now in a bag in the freezer, waiting for another batch of stuffing.

 

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Chicken Thighs With the Crispiest Skin Ever!

by Anne Maxfield on March 2, 2017

I know that saying this recipe gives you the crispiest chicken skin ever is going to be controversial.

Wait until you try it!

The Accidental Locavore cooked this recipe for Golden Chicken Thighs with Charred-Lemon Salsa Verde from Food and Wine last week for dinner. Feeds 6-8.

You need a little time for it to marinate, so plan ahead.

Chicken Thighs With the Crispiest Skin Ever!

Chicken:

  • 12 chicken thighs (bone-in, skin-on)
  • 24 sage leaves
  • 16 garlic cloves—6 cut into 4 slices each, the rest gently smashed and peeled
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 slices
  • Strips of zest from 2 lemons
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped oregano
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • 12 fresh bay leaves (optional) 

Salsa Verde: 

  • 1 lemon, cut into 1/2-inch slices and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped oregano
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 anchovy fillet
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped drained capers
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Run your fingers under the skin of each chicken thigh to create a pocket. Stuff each pocket with 2 sage leaves, 2 slices of garlic and 1 slice of butter. Transfer the stuffed thighs to a large bowl.

In a small bowl, stir the lemon zest strips with the smashed garlic, olive oil, chopped herbs and crushed red pepper. Pour the mixture over the thighs and gently toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 450°. On a small baking sheet or oven proof dish, toss the lemon slices with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Spread the lemon slices in an even layer and bake for 16 to 18 minutes, until charred on the bottom. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool for 5 minutes. Chop the slices into 1/4“ pieces and set aside.

Leave the oven on.

In a mortar, or mini-chopper, mash the oregano and mint with the chopped garlic, anchovy, capers and 1 teaspoon of salt until a smooth paste forms. Slowly drizzle in the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil. Stir in the chopped lemon a little at a time, to taste.

Heat a large ovenproof skillet, big enough to put the chicken in a single layer (or do it in batches) over medium heat. Season the thighs evenly with salt; remove the lemon zest and smashed garlic from the marinade and set aside. Arrange the chicken thighs skin-side down in the skillet. Cover it with another large pan or pot weighted down with a few heavy cans. Cook over moderate heat until the skin is golden brown and crisp, about 15 minutes.

Remove the weight and turn the chicken. Scatter the chicken with the reserved lemon zest, garlic and the bay leaves, if using. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through. Discard the bay leaves. Transfer the chicken to a platter, serve with the salsa verde and enjoy!

 

My verdict: As I said in the intro, we were shocked by how crispy the chicken skin was! I’m definitely going to try this the next time I make a roast chicken.

I used half the chicken (6 thighs), half the sage, garlic, butter and lemon zest but made the whole recipe for the marinade and salsa. Rosemary would work well under the chicken skin too.

I left out the parsley and the bay leaves and don’t think either of them was missed (not sure what would happen with dried bay leaves).  I also left out the thyme because I forgot to buy it – that would have been a nice addition. And I zested the lemon on my microplane rather than zesting it into strips.

In three months, all of these herbs will be growing in my garden, so this will definitely get made again (maybe on the grill).

Because the chicken was so good on its own, the salsa verde was a nice but unnecessary addition and might actually be better on some lamb or fish. I’d slice the lemons thinner next time and if I was doing it on the grill would definitely grill them.

 

 

 

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Spinach with Garlic and Lemon Juice

by Anne Maxfield on January 12, 2017

Accidental Locavore SpinachSpinach is one of those vegetables that is hard to mess up.

A little fat (butter or duck) or olive oil and it’s a success.

However, there are times when you want it to be a little more…interesting.

The Accidental Locavore was making some Spare Ribs Vindaloo (recipe soon) and wanted an Indian spin on spinach that didn’t require running out for ingredients (I’m looking at you saag paneer).

I pulled out my favorite Indian cookbook Made in India and found this recipe for spinach. Serves 4.

Spinach with Garlic and Lemon Juice Recipe:

  • 1 pound spinach
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 fresh red chili, very thinly sliced (more or less depending on your heat tolerance)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • Juice of about ½ lemon (to taste)

Wash the spinach and set aside.

In a very large frying pan, over medium heat, add the butter. When it starts to melt, add the garlic and red chili.

Stir-fry for a couple of minutes until the garlic starts to turn pale gold.

Add the salt and pepper.

Add the spinach in handfuls, toss to coat with butter. As it starts to wilt, add another handful or two until you’ve used it all up.

Squeeze the lemon juice over the spinach and take off the heat. Taste and add more lemon juice if needed. Serve immediately and enjoy!

My verdict: Oh yes! Sadly, we only had a 9-ounce bag of spinach so I did half a recipe and wished there was more. Lots more.

This was super simple and I’ll be making it a lot—so good!

There wasn’t too much heat from the chili, a serrano, so we could have used more, but we like heat. If you don’t have serranos or jalapenos lying in wait in the freezer (when you have a mess of chilis, wash them, toss in a Ziploc bag and freeze them—you’ll always have them on hand), a sprinkle of red pepper flakes would probably be fine.

Try it and let me know what you think.

 

 

 

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