Closet Kitchen

If I can cook in my tiny little closet of a kitchen, anyone can do it...

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Farro salad with tomato and corn

Time: About 20 minutes plus overnight soaking
Yield: 3 or 4 servings as side dish.

1 cup farro
2 ears cooked corn
16 cherry tomatoes, quartered
4 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 teaspoons white wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

1. Soak farro overnight in a bowl at room temperature, covered with plastic wrap.

When ready to cook, drain farro, and place in a small pan with water to cover. Bring to boil, and cook for about 10 minutes, until tender.

2. Scrape kernels from corn, and place in a bowl large enough to hold all ingredients. Add remaining ingredients, and mix well.

When farro is cooked, drain well, and toss with other ingredients. It is best served at room temperature but can be chilled.

Adapted from NYT.

Creamy grits with fontina sauce and mushroom stew

Time: About 90 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

1 cup Anson Mills coarse yellow or white grits (available at Dean & Deluca)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 to 2 tablespoons cold butter
Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 pound fontina cheese, diced
1/4 cup whole milk
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 egg yolk

Mushroom stew:
6 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
3/8 pound assorted mushrooms, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 shallots, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
2 ounces cabbage, shaved paper thin

1. Place grits in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add 2-1/2 cups cold water, and stir once. Allow grits to settle in saucepan, then skim off chaff and hulls that float to surface.

Turn heat to medium-high, and bring grits to low simmer, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to lowest setting, and cover saucepan.

2. Heat 2 cups water in a small saucepan. Keep hot.

3. Cook grits, covered, over very low heat, stirring every 10 minutes or so with wooden spoon, and adding 1/4 cup hot water to pan when grits become thick. Cook grits until creamy and tender but not mushy, about 90 minutes. Stir in salt after 45 minutes. At end of cooking, stir in butter, and season to taste with black pepper. Keep warm. (Grits can be served at this point, as a side dish.)

4. While grits cook, make fonduta. In a small stainless steel bowl, combine fontina with milk and let sit 30 minutes. In a small saucepan, combine cream with Parmesan cheese. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until parmesan has melted. Season with salt and pepper. Remove
from heat, but keep warm.

5. Set bowl with fontina over a pot of simmering water, and stir constantly to melt cheese into threads. Transfer both cheese mixtures to a blender, add egg yolk, and blend until smooth. Taste, and adjust seasonings. Return to saucepan. Keep warm.

6. To prepare mushrooms, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add half the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook until seared, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add 2 more teaspoons oil to pan, and cook remaining mushrooms. Transfer to plate. Add remaining olive oil to pan, add shallots and garlic, and cook 3 minutes. Return mushrooms to pan, cover, and cook about 4 minutes. Stir in thyme.

7. To serve, distribute shaved cabbage evenly over 4 warm plates. Put a spoonful of grits on top. Pour fonduta over grits. Top with mushrooms.

Serve immediately with lots of freshly ground black pepper.

Adapted from Rialto, Cambridge, Mass., NYT, March 24, 2004

Olde tyme spinach and artichoke casserole

Serves 6-8

1 tablespoon butter for greasing baking dish, 1/2 cup butter, melted, for casserole, plus 1 tablespoon, melted, for topping
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
1/2 cup coarse Ritz cracker crumbs (about 10 crackers)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Smear a shallow 2-quart casserole with one tbsp butter.

Cook spinach according to package directions, squeeze dry and put in a mixing bowl with 1/2 cup of melted butter, the cream cheese and lemon juice. Using a fork, blend well.

Spread artichoke quarters evenly over the bottom of the casserole dish. Cover with the spinach mixture and smooth the top.

Spread Ritz crumbs over the top, then drizzle with 1 tablespoon melted butter.

Bake on the middle rack until bubbly in the center and lightly browned on the top, about 25 minutes. Cool about 5 minutes and serve.

Adapted from NYT.

Leek and red pepper quichettes

Cheddar pastry
1/4 white cheddar
1-1/2 cups AP flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup (4 oz) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 lightly-beaten egg
2 tbsp cold water

1-1/5 tbsp butter
1 leek, just the white part, minced
1/2 small red pepper, cut into 1/4" pieces
1/4 lb. dry-aged white cheddar, grated
2 eggs
1-1/2 cup (12 oz) heavy cream
3/4 tsp Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Put white chedddar in pulverizer and pulse until crumbly. Add flour and salt and pulse until it's finely crumbled. Add cut up butter and pulse until it looks like fluffy bread crumbs.

Drizzle lightly-beaten egg over the mixture and pulse twice, then scrape down the sides of the bowl. Sprinkle water over the mixture and pulse until it turns into a rough mass - if it doesn't come together, add up to another tbsp water.

Roll pastry into a ball then split in half. Roll half out over a lightly floured surface until about 1/8" think. Use a 2" biscuit cutter to cut out as many circles as possible (should be about 48). Put each one gently into mini muffin tins - the bottom should stay rounded, the tops should be level with the tops of the muffin cups.

Turn oven on to 400 F.

Melt butter over medium-low heat, and sautee leek for about five minutes, until tender but not brown. Combine leek in a bowl with cheese and red pepper.

In another bowl, whisk eggs until blended, then whisk in the cream, mustard, 3/4 tsp salt and cayenne pepper. Add this to the leek/cheese/pepper mixture, and whisk to combine.

Pour 1 tbsp of filling into each pastry shell, being sure to distribute solids and liquids equally.

Bake until puffy and golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Let cook five minutes, then run a thin-bladed knife around the sides, then carefully lift quichette out of muffin cup. Serve.

Can be reheated at 350 F for 10 minutes, but won't be as crispy.

Adapted from Wms Sonoma.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Tuna & olive spread

7-oz can of tuna in olive oil, not drained
1 cup black olives in brine, pitted - preferably French, like Nyons
2 tbsp capers in vinegar, drained
2 tbsp dry red wine
2 fat garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1-2 tbsp EVOO, as needed

Pulverize all but EVOO until a thick paste, adding EVOO at the end if necessary to help it paste up.

Can store covered in the fridge for a week.

Adapted from 'The Provence Cookbook' by Patricia Wells

Green olive pesto

To be spread on slices of bagette, beneath meat and veggies

1 & 1/2 cups large green olives (for example: ascolene), pitted
1/4 cup pinole (pine nuts)
1/2 red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, mashed
EVOO as needed, likely about 1/2 cup

Put everything but EVOO in the pulverizer and let it rip for a minute, then drizzle in EVOO until it's thick.

Let it stand 1/2 hour before serving.

Adapted from Mario Batali