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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Peach Sauvignon Sauce

It can be difficult to find healthy dried fruit, unless you buy it in peak season and dry it yourself. Most dried fruits found in stores contain added sugar and oil, so when I find fruit dried without additives, I stock up for winter months.

I recently discovered oil- and sugar-free dried peaches at Fairway and fell in love. Juicy and sweet, plump and overwhelmingly peachy, they are my new favorite snack. I love them so much that I turned them into a sauce, which I paired a jerk-rubbed pork loin. This sauce would also work well with grilled chicken breast, halibut or tofu triangles, seasoned with a dry rub of ground thyme, allspice and chili peppers to counter-balance the slightly sweet sauce.

Sauvignon Blanc is a great wine for making savory sauces because it is dry instead of sweet, fruity and slightly sour. If you don’t have it on hand, substitute another dry and fruity wine like Pinot Grigio.

This recipe makes about a cup and a half of thick, rich sauce, just the right amount for a pound and a half of pork loin. If you prefer a thinner sauce, or want more volume, increase the wine to 2 cups.

-4 dried, unsweetened peach halves, roughly chopped
-1.5 cups Sauvignon Blanc
-Pinch sea salt

Add the peaches and wine to a small saucepan. Warm over low heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the wine has reduced and the peaches have plumped. Set the mixture aside to cool to room temperature, giving the peaches time to fully re-hydrate.

Puree the sauce in a food processor with a small pinch of sea salt. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. When ready to serve, gently re-warm over low heat.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Carrot Ginger Soup

This warming soup is easy to throw together for a quick dinner yet elegant enough for a special meal. Because it doesn’t take long to prepare, can be made ahead, and calls for common ingredients I usually have on hand, it’s a staple in my kitchen during fall and winter months.

Made with vegetable broth, this dish is vegan, but it can also be made with chicken or duck stock. The citrus adds a tangy twist to this dish. If you don’t have tangerines, substitute oranges or clementines.

This recipe will yield 4 starter portions or two main course servings. Double or triple it if you are feeding a crowd.

-1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, first cold pressing
-1 large yellow or white onion, chopped
-1 pound organic carrots, scrubbed and sliced into ¼-inch rounds
-2 or more cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
-1 tbsp freshly grated ginger, or more to taste
-Pinch sea salt
-3 cups vegetable broth or chicken or duck stock
-½ cup fresh juice from 1 or 2 tangerines

To garnish, use any or all of the following:

-Finely chopped parsley or dill
-Grains of cooked wild rice
-Fresh pomogranate seeds

Warm the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot and sauté until soft and starting to brown. Stir in the garlic and ginger. Cook until aromatic, about one minute more. Do not burn the garlic. 

Add the stock and sea salt. There should be enough liquid cover the vegetables. If there isn’t, add some water. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low setting and simmer until the vegetables are very soft.

Add the tangerine juice. If you have an immersion blender, puree the soup in the pot. Otherwise cool it slightly, transfer the soup to a blender and puree until smooth, taking care to vent the blender and allow heat to escape.

Taste the soup for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Ladle it into bowls and garnish with fresh herbs or pomegranate seeds, or grains of cooked wild rice.

Alternatively, allow the soup to cool and store it in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to eat. Can be made one day in advance.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Three Alarm Chili

This chili has three different layers of heat from three different chili peppers: ancho, jalapeno and chipotle. If you like your chili on the mild side, remove the seeds and membranes from the peppers, or just use one or two.

Ancho chilies are dried poblano peppers. They are mostly mild but occasionally carry some heat. The jalapeno gives this hearty stew a fresh green chili flavor. Chipotles, smoked jalapenos, add an earthy and smoky flavor and aroma.

For a vegetarian version, omit the ground buffalo meat and add two large portabella mushrooms instead. Wipe them clean and place them gill-side up on a baking sheet. Drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle them with sea salt and ground peppercorn. Broil until they start to brown and the gills start to crisp. Cool, then roughly chop and add them to the chili at the same time as the tomatoes.

If you don’t have ground buffalo meat, substitute another grass-fed or pasture-raised ground meat, like beef, chicken or turkey.

This is a great dish to make ahead if you want a quick meal to heat and eat on demand. Not only is it convenient, but when you allow the stew to sit, the flavors have more time to develop.

1 ancho chili pepper
1 chipotle pepper
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, first cold pressing
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 pound ground grass-fed buffalo meat
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin
Ground peppercorn to taste
Sea salt to taste
28 oz chopped fire-roasted tomatoes or regular tomatoes
2 cups cooked black beans (or one 15 oz can)
2 cups cooked red beans (or one 15 oz can)

To garnish:

Whole milk Greek or strained yogurt
Thinly sliced scallions
Roughly chopped cilantro

Tear up the ancho and chipotle peppers and add them to a spice grinder with the coriander seeds. Grind them into a powder and set aside.

Add the olive oil to a soup pot and warm over medium heat. Add the onion, green pepper and jalapeno. Cook until soft, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook until aromatic, about one minute more. Do not burn the garlic.

Once the vegetables are soft, add the ground chili and coriander mixture, along with the cumin, ground peppercorn and a generous pinch of sea salt. Use clean hands to break up the ground buffalo and drop it into the pot. Cook 5 to 10 minutes more, stirring occasionally, until the buffalo is cooked through.

Add the tomatoes, black beans, red beans, and enough water to cover. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for one hour. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Serve immediately or cool to room temperature and store in the fridge until ready to eat (gently warm the chili over medium-low heat before serving).

When the chili is hot, perfectly seasoned and ready to serve, ladle it into bowls and garnish with a dollop of yogurt, sliced scallions and cilantro.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Cherry Cabernet Sauce

This thick, rich sauce is packed full of antioxidants. I served it this weekend with slow-roasted pork shoulder, but it also pairs perfectly with duck, chicken, turkey, smoked tofu and grilled tempeh strips.

If you can’t find dried red plums, use a full cup of dried cherries. If you live in New York City, find
dried Angelino plums at Fairway.

1½ cups cabernet sauvignon, or other dry, fruity wine
½ cup packed dried unsweetened cherries
½ cup packed dried unsweetened red plums, Angelino or other
Pinch sea salt
Ground peppercorn to taste

Heat all ingredients in a small or medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to lowest setting and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, until sauce has reduced by half and the dried fruits have re-hydrated. Remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.

Once cool, puree the mixture until smooth.  If mixture is too thick, thin with a little more wine.

Serve immediately as is or re-heat slowly over lowest setting until warm. Or store in an airtight container in the fridge for future use.