Tag Archives: Lynda Balslev

Grilled Broccoli Rabe

broccoli rabe tastefood

Broccoli rabe, also known as rapini, is a brassica, or mustard plant. It resembles skinny leafy broccoli with narrow stems, spiky leaves and tiny green buds that resemble miniature broccoli heads. Slightly bitter and peppery, rapini fries up well in a skillet with robust ingredients such as garlic and red chili flakes – which is how I often prepare it. Yesterday I tried a different method and tossed the slim stems with olive oil and salt, then gave them a good char on the grill. Not only was it super easy to prepare, the charred flavor was a perfect match with the assertive rapini. I served it as an accompaniment to a whole chicken I roasted in a skillet on the grill. While the chicken rested, I cooked the rabe. Then, before serving, I drizzled a few tablespoons of the chicken pan juices over the greens. While chicken pan juices are not a necessary addition, I highly recommend it.

Grilled Broccoli Rabe

Serves 3 to 4 as a side dish.

1 pound broccoli rabe
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Prepare the grill for direct cooking over medium-high heat. Place the broccoli rabe in a bowl. Drizzle with 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil. Lightly season with salt. Toss to coat. Carefully place the broccoli rabe on the grill, perpendicular to the grates. Cook with the lid closed until bright green in color and charred in spots, about 4 minutes, turning once or twice with tongs. Transfer to a serving plate. Serve warm.

Not Very Easter Lamb

lamb roast

Moroccan Spiced Lamb with Roasted Vegetables and Yogurt Sauce

In honor of Easter – and Spring – I share a recipe with you for grilled lamb with 2 marinade options. Normally I smear my lamb with a heady concoction of  North African spices, which is not your traditional Easter roast, mind you, but more like Easter on  holiday – a spring fling for serious bouts of wanderlust. The other marinade is more traditional with olive oil, mustard and rosemary. Either way, the method remains the same. It’s best to let the lamb marinate for as long as possible, preferably overnight – or at least for 6 hours.

Grilled Lamb with 2 Marinades:

Serves 6 to 8.

1 (3 to 4 pound) boned leg of lamb, butterflied
Salt

Dijon Marinade:
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

North African Marinade:
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh cilantro sprigs, chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

Season the lamb with salt. Whisk the Dijon or the North African marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Make small incisions in the fat and meat of the lamb. Rub the marinade all over the lamb, massaging it into the meat and folds with your fingers. Place the lamb in a rimmed baking dish. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.

One hour before roasting, remove the lamb from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature. If grilling, prepare the grill for direct and indirect cooking over medium heat. Grill the lamb for 10 minutes over direct heat to sear, skin-side down, turning once. Move to indirect heat and grill, covered, turning once or twice, until medium-rare (a meat thermometer inserted in thickest part will read 130 F), 20 to 30 minutes. If roasting, place lamb in a roasting pan. Roast in a preheated 425 F. oven, skin-side up, for about 30 minutes for medium-rare, turning once. Finish under a broiler, skin side up, for a few minutes to brown meat. Allow lamb to rest for 10 minutes, loosely covered with foil, before carving.

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Strawberries and Cream

flourless chocolate cake tastefoodA tiny sliver of this luscious gluten-free cake goes a long way. It’s perfect for a Passover dinner or any celebration worthy of an intense chocolatey finale. Choose the best quality dark chocolate you can lay your hands on, because it makes all the difference. The gently sugared cream and naturally sweetened strawberries nicely offset all of the chocolatey goodness which encourages you to eat more – not that any encouragement is necessary.

Glazed Flourless Chocolate Cake
Slightly adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe
Serves 12.

Cake:
12 ounces dark high quality chocolate (70-72%)
3/4 cup unsalted butter
6 large eggs, separated
12 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Glaze:
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
4.5 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped, plus extra for grating
Whipped cream
Strawberries

Heat the oven to 350°F (180 C). Butter a 9-inch diameter springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter the parchment. Sprinkle with unsweetened cocoa powder and tap out the excess. Wrap the outside of the pan with foil to prevent leakage.
Combine the chocolate and butter in a double boiler or heat-proof bowl placed over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir frequently until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from heat.
Beat the egg yolks and 6 tablespoons sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until light and thick, about 3 minutes. Transfer the eggs to a large bowl. Thoroughly clean and dry mixing bowl and whisk attachment.
Fold the melted chocolate into the egg yolks. Stir in the vanilla.
In the clean mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 6 tablespoons sugar until medium-firm peaks form. Fold the whites into the chocolate in 3 additions. Pour into the prepared pan.
Bake until the top of the cake is slightly puffed and cracked and a knife inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs, 40 to 50 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely in the pan.
While the cake is cooling, prepare the glaze. Heat the cream and syrup in a small saucepan just until it reaches a simmer. Remove from heat. Add the chocolate and whisk until smooth.
Gently press down on the top of the cake to even its thickness. Remove the pan side and invert the cake onto a plate. Remove and discard the parchment. Pour the glaze over the center of the cake. Spread the glaze over the top and down the sides of the cake, using a flat icing spatula to smooth the glaze. Sprinkle with grated chocolate. Chill in the refrigerator until firm, about 10 minutes.
Serve at room temperature with whipped cream and fresh strawberries.

Rhubarb Compote with Lemon and Sage

rhubarb sage tastefood

They say what grows together goes together and that certainly applies to this springtime compote. Green rhubarb stalks, flowering sage leaves and spring lemons comprised the latest bag of loot I came home with from the farmers’ market. The green rhubarb was stunning, it’s puckery astringency melding beautifully with bright citrus and, yes, sage leaves. Serve this compote straight as it is or add a drizzle of heavy cream. Vanilla ice cream wouldn’t be bad either.

Rhubarb Compote with Lemon and Sage

Serves - 2 to 3 (or never enough depending whom you ask)

1 1/2 pounds rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup sugar
2 to 3 fresh sage leaves
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Finely grated lemon zest for garnish

Combine the rhubarb, sugar and sage in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar begins to dissolve. Cover and simmer over low heat until rhubarb softens, 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.. Remove from heat and discard the sage leaves. Stir in the lemon juice. Cool. Serve garnished with lemon zest.

 

Black Lentil Salad with Asparagus, Kale and Egg

black lentils bowl tastefood

Black lentils are the star of this salad. These tiny pellets are nicknamed Beluga lentils since they resemble caviar. They remain firm when cooked, which makes them a great addition to salads, and their shiny blackness provides vivid contrast to colorful vegetables. Like their brown or green brethren, black lentils are a superb source of iron, fiber, protein, folate and magnesium. Plus, they are easy on the wallet. Not bad for a little legume.

black lentils salad tastefood

Black Lentil Salad with Asparagus, Kale, Egg

For a larger salad, arrange the lentils on a bed of mixed greens or arugula.
Serves 3 to 4 as a side dish.

1 1/4 cups black lentils
3 cups water
Salt
6 to 8 thin asparagus
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 red or green spring onions, white and pale green parts thinly sliced
2 hard boiled egg yolks, crumbled
1 red jalapeno pepper, minced
1 1/2 cups shredded kale
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup cilantro

Rinse and pick over the lentils to make sure there are no small stones. Combine the lentils and water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until the lentils are tender but still firm, about 25 minutes. Drain and cool to room temperature. Transfer to a large bowl.
While the lentils are cooking, blanch the asparagus. Bring a wide pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the asparagus and cook until bright green and crisp tender, about 1 minute. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Cut off the tips and slice the stalks into 1/2-inch pieces. Reserve all of it.
Whisk the garlic, oil, lemon juice, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the black pepper in a small bowl. Add to the lentils and toss to coat. Add the asparagus tips and stalks, the spring onions, 1 crumbled egg yolk, the jalapeno, kale, parsley and cilantro. Gently stir to combine. Taste for seasoning – you might need more salt. If desired, douse with a little extra oil. Transfer the salad to a platter or divide among serving plates. Garnish with the remaining crumbled egg yolk and serve.

Rosemary and Porcini Crusted Lamb Loin Chops

Lamb tf

A rub of crushed dried porcini mushrooms and finely chopped rosemary creates an umami-rich crust for lamb. I use a food processor to blitz the mushrooms before continuing to chop them by hand with the rosemary, resulting in a coarse rub. A spice grinder will create a finer crust.

Lamb cru tf

Porcini and Rosemary Crusted Lamb Loin Chops

Serves 4.

8 lamb loin chops, about 1 inch thick
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup finely ground dried porcini mushrooms
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary leaves

Season the lamb with salt and pepper. Combine 2 tablespoons oil and the garlic in a bowl. Smear all over the lamb. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
Thirty minutes before roasting, remove the lamb from the refrigerator. Combine the mushrooms and rosemary in a small bowl. Coat both sides of the lamb with the rub. Let stand at room temperature, 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C). Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat in a large ovenproof skillet. Add the lamb without overcrowding. Cook until brown on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the skillet to oven. Bake until cooked to desired doneness, 10 to 15 minutes for medium-rare. Remove from oven, tent with foil and let rest 15 minutes before serving.

Grilled Pizza with Baby Kale, Broccolini and Chilies

broccoli kale pizza tastefood

Do you have a grill? Do you love pizza? Then look no further for a couple of  techniques that will result in delicious homemade pizza. I grill pizzas all year, no matter the weather. It keeps the heat outside on a warm day, gives me an excuse to fire up the grill on a cold day, and consistently results in crispy, chargrilled homemade pizza which is the next best thing to having my own pizza oven.

There are 2 basic methods I use to grill a pizza. The first, and easiest in my opinion, is to use a pizza stone. I have a Weber pizza stone that’s designed to fit right on my grill, but you can use any pizza stone that fits. Just preheat the stone over direct heat while you fire up the grill, and go about preparing  your pizza. When the grill is nice and hot, slide the pizza onto the stone. Close the grill and cook the pizza until the crust is browned, the cheese is melty and bubbly, and the toppings are cooked to your desired doneness, about 15 minutes.

If you want more char and blistering to your crust, the second technique is to grill the pizza directly on the grates. In this case, you should begin to grill the crust before adding the toppings. Lightly oil the rolled out crust, then place over direct heat, oiled-side down. Grill until the crust  is nicely browned on the bottom and releases easily from the grates, about 2 minutes. Brush the un-cooked side of the crust with oil then flip the crust over and add the toppings to the top. Close the lid and grill until the cheese melts and the toppings wilt, about 5 minutes.

This was the pizza I made over the weekend using the pizza stone method. I often make white pizzas, which means without tomato sauce, and top it with garlic oil, cheese and fresh veggies from the farmers market. It’s a hit with the whole family and great way to get everyone to eat their vegetables.

Grilled Pizza with Baby Kale, Broccolini and Chiles

I prefer to roll my pizza out onto a piece of parchment paper for easy maneuvering. You can skip this step and transfer the dough directly to the pizza stone if desired.  Makes one large pizza.

1 pizza crust dough (recipe below)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes (optional)
6 ounces fresh mozzarella, torn or cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup finely grated Asiago or Pecorino cheese
1 1/2 cups broccolini florets, coarsely chopped
2 cups baby kale leaves (or spinach)
1 red jalapeno pepper, stemmed and seeded, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper

Prepare the grill for direct cooking over high heat (about 500°F) and preheat a pizza stone for at least 10 minutes.

Roll out the dough to fit the size of the pizza stone (I have a rectangular pizza stone and formed a 10 by 15-inch crust). Lay the dough on a piece of parchment. Trim the parchment to fit the contours of the pizza.

Whisk the oil, garlic and salt in a small bowl. Brush the crust with the oil. Lightly season with chili flakes, if using. Scatter half of the mozzarella and half of the Asiago over the crust. Scatter the broccolini and jalapeno over the cheese. Top with the kale. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Asiago over the kale. Slide the pizza onto the pizza stone. Close the grill and cook until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbly, 13 to 15 minutes. Remove from grill and drizzle with remaining oil. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Cut into serving pieces and serve immediately.

Alice Water’s Pizza Dough Recipe:

Makes enough for 2 (10 t0 12-inch) crusts

1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 teaspoons dry yeast
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup semolina flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups cold water
1/4 cup olive oil

Stir lukewarm water and yeast together in a bowl. Add 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and the semolina. Mix well. Let stand until bubbly, about 30 minutes. Combine the remaining flour and the salt in another bowl, then add to the yeast. Add the cold water and olive oil. Mix well to form a dough. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. (Or use a mixer with a dough hook, and knead about 5 minutes). Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat all sides with the oil. Loosely cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours. Punch dough down, and let rise another 45 minutes. Divide dough into 2 equal disks. Let rest 30 minutes before shaping.

Fregola Sarda with Asparagus, Pecorino and Lemon

fregola tastefood

Have you ever tried Fregola Sarda? You should. Fregola is a semolina pasta hailing from Sardinia, Italy. What distinguishes fregola is its shape and flavor. The pasta are rolled balls which are sun-dried and toasted, similar to pearl or Israeli couscous. Their unique shape and texture lend well to soups and salads. I find their nuttiness so addictive and satisfying, I like to keep my preparations simple to allow their toasty flavor to shine through. This dish is light and bright, inspired by the fresh asparagus and lemons in season now at the farmers markets.

Fregola Sarda with Asparagus, Pecorino and Lemon
Serves 4

1 pound fregola
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Salt
1/2 pound thin asparagus
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino cheese
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the fregola and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes or per package instructions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, the lemon zest and 1/2 teaspoon salt and toss to coat.
Cut the stalks of the asparagus into 1/2-inch pieces while keeping the tips intact. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and saute until softened, about 2 minutes.  Add the garlic and chili flakes and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the asparagus stalks and tips. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Saute until asparagus brightens in color, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until asparagus are crisp tender and most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and add to the fregola. Add the Pecorino and toss to combine. If the fregola are too sticky, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Serve warm with additional black pepper.

Quick-Braised Chicken with White Wine and Vegetables

Braised Chicken Wine

White Wine Braised Chicken with Leeks, Carrots, Mushrooms, Thyme

Humble stews are quintessential comfort food. Braised and slow cooked, they are one-pot wonders infused with deep flavors coaxed from hearty vegetables and meat. These long simmering concoctions are often left for the weekend with stretches of time for cooking. So what to do during the week when we crave equally satisfying and nourishing meals in less than an hour? Quick braising is the answer. This chicken recipe can be quickly prepped and popped in the oven for 30 minutes of hands-free braising. Light yet rich, this flavorful meal will address any cravings for a hearty dinner. Weeknight food never tasted so slow.

Wine-Braised Chicken with Vegetables and Thyme

Keeping the chicken skin exposed while braising ensures that the skin will remain crisp and golden.

Serves 4.

4 large chicken breast halves, with skin and ribs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 leeks, white parts only, thinly sliced
2 large carrots, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 pound white or cremini mushrooms, sliced 1/2-inch thick
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup dry white wine
2 to 3 cups chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Season the chicken breasts all over with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a deep skillet or wide Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, skin side down, in batches. Cook until the skin is brown and crispy, 4 to 5 minutes, then turn the chicken and cook 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining chicken.

Drain off all but 1 tablespoon fat from the pot and add 1 tablespoon oil. Add the leeks to the pot and saute over medium heat, about 1 minute. Add the carrots, mushrooms and garlic. Saute over medium heat until the vegetables begin to soften and brighten in color, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the white wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits. Add the bay leaf, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Return the chicken to the pot and nestle, skin-side up, into the vegetables. Pour in enough chicken stock, without splashing the skin, to nearly cover the chicken but not submerge it. The skin should remain exposed. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Uncover pot and transfer to oven. Bake until the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts. Serve in bowls with rice, farro or couscous.

Shrimp and Tabbouleh Salad

Shrimp and Tabbouleh Salad

There is something intrinsically satisfying about a grain salad. Hearty, fresh and toothsome, brimming with greens and chopped vegetables, it’s both nutritious and versatile. Tabbouleh is a Middle Eastern salad made with cracked wheat or bulgur. The grains are softened with water, lemon juice and oil and tumbled with spices and fresh herbs. I like to add shredded kale and grated carrot to tabbouleh. The sturdy greens are tenderized by the oil and lemon, and the sweetness of the carrot rounds out the tangy citrus and spices. The salad is delicious as is or stuffed into pita pockets with crumbled feta and a dab of harissa. In this recipe I’ve topped the salad with pan roasted shrimp for a light and healthy meal.  If you prefer another grain, feel free to substitute quinoa, wheat berries or couscous for the bulgur. For a vegetarian option, sprinkle with feta cheese.

shrimp bulgur table tf.jpg

Shrimp and Tabbouleh Salad
Serves 4.

For the bulgur salad:
1 1/2 cups bulgur
1 1/4 cups hot water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Tabasco or hot sauce
6 large green kale leaves, tough stems removed, caorsely chopped
2 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced
1 large carrot, finely grated
1 small red bell pepper, stemmed and seeded, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped, about 1/2 cup
1/4 cup each chopped fresh flat leaf parsley, mint and cilantro

For the shrimp:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes, or to taste
1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 lemon

Freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
Extra-virgin olive oil

Prepare the salad:
Place the bulgur in a large bowl. Pour the water over the bulgur and stir to combine. Add lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin and Tabasco. Stir again. Set aside until the liquid is absorbed and the bulgur is tender but chewy, about 20 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well. Taste for seasoning. If necessary, add more olive oil to moisten the salad.

For the shrimp:
Heat the olive oil and the chili flakes in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the shrimp in one layer and cook  until pink in color and  just cooked through the center, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with juice from half a lemon.

To serve, arrange salad on a platter or divide among serving plates. Top with shrimp. Garnish with freshly ground black pepper and chopped parsley. Drizzle with extra oil if desired.