Cod Mare Chiaro

This delightful dish was my first experience cooking cod. Cod is a white, flaky fish that can hold up to frying, but  also turns out beautifully in this roasted recipe. Technically this dish takes about 45 minutes to prepare, but all of the work really happens in the first 20 minutes, while the potatoes are roasting.

roast potatoes and saute the vegetables at the same time

roast potatoes and saute the vegetables at the same time

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Since it’s winter and tomatoes aren’t their best, I purchased a colorful assortment of cherry tomatoes, which are still a bit sweet. They were small enough that I only needed to slice them in half rather than chop them, and the mix of red, yellow, and orange tomatoes was stunning. The flavor combinations are undeniably Italian—oregano and basil, olives, capers, and tomatoes, garlic and olive oil. There is nothing surprising about the recipe, but it’s pleasing and healthy in that good-fats, Mediterranean-diet sort of way. I added a side of sautéed kale just for something green, but this could easily be a one-pot meal.

add cod and pan sauce to roasting dish

add cod and pan sauce to roasting dish

oh, the vibrant green of kale

oh, the vibrant green of kale

There are no tricks—it’s fast and easy to prepare. In the summer with fresh tomatoes and basil from the garden I bet it would be salivatingly delicious. Even in February, this recipe is a reminder that a few good ingredients can result in a satisfying, memorable meal.

mangia!

mangia!

Cod Mare Chiaro via Food 52

By Giulia Melucci            July 2009

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Crisp Quinoa Cakes with Rosemary, Almonds, and Dijon

I know quinoa has become trendy, but it’s a staple in my gluten-free diet. It’s easy to make, high in protein, and has a subtle, nutty flavor. This recipe came recommended by a friend, and although I loved the flavor and will make them again, they fell apart a little while cooking. I made the mistake of cooking the quinoa according to package directions, but the recipe calls for a little more water than is typically used. The extra moisture could have made a significant difference in holding them together. No matter—they were still delicious!

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Be careful not to overwork the cakes. Simply take a handful and gently form a patty between your hands. It’s okay if they’re a little thick, as long as you let them brown nicely on the outside. The combination of ingredients was perfect! The almonds add additional protein and a little crunch. Rosemary always pairs well with nuts, and the shallots and mustard brought a sharp, tangy flavor to the finished cakes. Top them with fresh lemon juice and they are ready to eat.

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I really wanted a protein-rich meal, so I served the patties with black beans and a side of broccoli. This recipe seems versatile to me, and I would love to hear your suggestions for side dishes in the comments. It was also fantastic leftover. Surprisingly, the cakes held up to reheating and were just as flavorful as the first time around. This fast and simple February meal was a hit!

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Crisp Quinoa Cakes with Rosemary, Almonds, and Dijon via New York Times

Mark Bittman

Pan-Roasted Chicken with Harissa Chickpeas

This fast and simple dish has a surprising complexity of flavors. It tastes like it spent all day slow roasting when in fact the active cooking time is close to thirty minutes. The secret ingredient that adds so much depth is harissa, a spicy paste made from chilis, spices, and olive oil. A little harissa adds a ton of flavor to any dish, but be cautious with store-bought brands as the heat level can vary widely.

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The most labor-intensive step is browning the chicken thighs. Once the meat is browned it just takes a few minutes to sauté the vegetables and spices before placing it in the oven. I’ve been eyeing some beautiful romanesco at the store and decided to prepare it as a light vegetable side to this dish. I separated it into bite-sized pieces as I would with cauliflower or broccoli, and then placed it on a baking dish with salt, pepper, and grape seed oil. During the twenty minutes it took to brown the meat I roasted my little romanesco trees at 425 F. When it was time to prepare the chickpeas I removed the romanesco from the oven and set it aside. The chickpeas need about five minutes of preparation on the stove, and then the entire dish goes in the oven for 20-25 minutes. With only five minutes left of roasting, I grated a thin layer of Parmesan over the romanesco and popped it back into the oven to melt and brown.

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Once plated, the entire dish is sprinkled with fresh, chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice. This final step brightens the dish and creates a tart contrast to the richness of the harissa. This delicious meal is packed with protein, so it’s deeply satisfying. Enjoy this deceptively easy, wintery meal!

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Pan-Roasted Chicken with Harissa Chickpeas

Bon Appétit            recipe by Dawn Perry

 

Spicy Pork Stew with Peppers and Potatoes

Okay, I admit it. This is an exception to my month of fast and simple recipes. Don’t worry—there are plenty of quick weeknight meals headed your way in the weeks to come. I just couldn’t help myself! Last weekend snow started falling in Portland and didn’t stop for four days. While this may not be true winter weather for much of the country, it was enough to keep many Portlanders homebound, myself included. After a few days indoors, this stew was the perfect project to occupy my stir-crazy self. Fortunately this hearty winter stew makes six servings, so it actually is a time-saver in the long run. It’s also delicious and, like most stews, tastes even better after it sits.

my dog in the snow

my dog in the snow

For this stew I chose to use my cast-iron pot. If you’re adept at carving meat, by all means buy a pork shoulder and cut it into stew-sized bites yourself. Otherwise, pre-cut stew meat from your butcher will work just fine. It’s important not to stir the meat, but instead to let it sear on each side. Once it’s seared it shouldn’t stick to the pan at all, so if it’s sticking it might not be browned enough yet. This recipe uses chipotles in adobo, which add a little heat and smokiness. Not all brands are gluten free, so read labels carefully. The other potential source of gluten in this recipe is beer. Since I enjoy dry hard cider, that’s my substitution of choice. This time I used Wanderlust from Wandering Aengus, but I also love Anthem’s Dry Hopped Cider because it combines the hoppiness of beer with the lightness of cider.

chopped garlic and chilis in adobo

chopped garlic and chilis in adobo

cider

cider

Before placing the stew in the oven, cover it with a parchment paper lid. This method is a French technique called cartouche. I used the actual lid of the cast-iron pot to cut out a circle of adequate size.  Once the stew is in the oven, the hard work is done. All you need to do is standby to add potatoes and shallots after the first half hour, then roasted red peppers after the second half hour. When it comes out of the oven, stir in the fresh cilantro. At the end of cooking be sure to follow the instructions for degreasing! This important step will give you a healthier, more flavorful result.

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I will make this stew again and again. The flavors meld together perfectly to create something slightly spicy, smoky, and rich tasting, but not heavy feeling. Just right for a snow-day.

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Spicy Pork Stew with Peppers and Potatoes

Fine Cooking            Issue 121

Quick Italian Chicken Piccata

There’s something about February that makes me want to hibernate. The pleasure I get from dressing in warm, bulky sweaters and indulging in hearty stews has begun to wear off. All I know is that my hands are cold and the calendar has months to go before May. I must not be the only person who feels this way, so with the assumption that some of you may be wrapped in blankets contemplating Spring I’ve decided to make February a month of fast & simple recipes.

pound flat and season, then brown

pound flat and season, then brown

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I chose chicken piccata because I’ve never made it before and I love the combination of tangy lemon and salty capers. It’s perfect for a quick dinner because the thin-cut chicken cutlets cook in no time. You can use thinly sliced cutlets or you can pound your chicken breasts until they are about ½ inch thick. I chose to do the latter, placing the breasts between two sheets of parchment and pounding them with a rolling pin. I’m confident that this is not the traditional way, although it’s not the oddest method out there either. Season your cutlets before you brown them to ensure they have some flavor. I kept mine closer to ¾ of an inch, so I increased the cooking time to 4 minutes per side. Tenting the cooked chicken under foil keeps them warm and juicy.

capers

capers

The single tablespoon of butter adds a nice creaminess to the sauce, but you can use olive oil if you’re avoiding dairy. My only deviation from the recipe was not to rinse the capers. I drained them and left them whole. They would certainly be milder if they are rinsed first, but I enjoyed them as-is and it made the recipe even easier.

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I served this with lots of steamed broccoli, although if you truly love capers you can try this sauteed kale with garlic, shallots, and capers recipe. This side dish is part of my regular rotation, but the broccoli is simpler and this month that’s what I’m all about!

Quick Italian Chicken Piccata via Fine Cooking

Issue 93

Figgy Buckwheat Scones

I’ve been dreaming about these scones for the past year. If the phrase fig butter doesn’t entice you, what will? Figs are naturally sticky-sweet. In this recipe dried figs are poached in a mixture of red wine, port, and spices. Buckwheat, despite its name, is not related to wheat and is entirely gluten free. The slight sourness of the buckwheat actually enhances the sweetness of the fig butter, and the delicate purple hue of the flour makes the finished scones absolutely beautiful.

figs in wine and spices

figs in wine and spices

Since I knew these would be a project, this seemed like an ideal recipe for a baking date with my friend Sarah. It was wonderful to have a friend in the kitchen for so many reasons. I tend to approach gf baking with a low-level of anxiety and a commitment to precision. Gluten free baking can be expensive and seems to lend itself to disaster. This doesn’t have to be the case, of course, but it is so upsetting to gather together high-quality ingredients only to be disappointed by the final result. Fortunately, Sarah comes from the other end of the spectrum. When the dough felt too dry, we optimistically agreed to pour more cream in until the texture felt right. When I neglected to let the wine and fig mixture cool before blending it with the butter, we tossed it into the fridge for a few minutes and assumed it would be fine. It was better than fine—it was delicious!

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If you’re not fortunate enough to have a friend in the kitchen with you, it’s worth making the fig butter in advance. I would probably store it at room temperature overnight and make the dough the next day. It took a little while for the syrup to turn amber, but the most important thing is not to let it burn. Once the wine and port were simmering, the rest was easy. I still have a jar of leftover fig butter that is great on toast and may even end up in some homemade fig newtons in the future.

pretty pinwheels

pretty pinwheels

As for the dough, you can take your cold butter from the fridge and use a grater to help create the grainy texture you’re working towards. Nothing works as well as rubbing it between your fingers to fully incorporate it into the flour mixture. It’s okay to leave some small lumps of butter in the dough. Sarah taught me to use a sifter to create an evenly floured surface, and that’s a trick I will keep with me. We used measuring tape to measure the dimensions of our dough. It sounds silly, but it helped us form pinwheels that matched the dimensions in the recipe so we could trust the cooking time. Spreading the butter and rolling the log was straightforward. Since they are best right out of the oven, we only baked ½ of the recipe and saved ½ of the dough for later.

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The final result was gratifyingly sweet, with a pastry that crumbled like cookies and rich fig-and-spice spiraling throughout. A year of dreaming about them and they were definitely worth the wait!

Figgy Buckwheat Scones via 101 Cookbooks

Reprinted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce