Monday, June 20, 2011

Beet and green garlic stacks

These look like candy but they're perfect for a savory first course! And, ok, maybe they taste a little like candy too since the beets and green garlic are roasted to sweetness and topped with a tangy lemon-honey drizzle.I used 4 smallish beets, no bigger than my punching fist. And for a comparison, my punching fist is smaller than a spaniel's head, just so it's all perfectly clear.Prick the beets lightly all over with a fork and let them roast at 400 for about 30 - 45 minutes. It will depend on size, but since you now know to look for beets smaller than a small dog's head, I think it will be fine.While they are roasting, peel the outermost layer from 3 bulbs of green garlic and trim the ends.After beets have a roasting head start of about 20 minutes, go ahead and add in the whole bulbs of green garlic plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2-3 tablespoons white wine (or stock or water) and some salt and pepper. Pop them back into the oven to finish out their time.Meanwhile you can make the sauce to drizzle over top. Half a lemon, 1 tablespoon each of honey and olive oil, plus just a pinch of grated fresh ginger--maybe a teaspoon or less. You can omit this if you don't have fresh ginger root on hand--it's totally not worth it to run out and buy specially for such a tiny amount. I keep mine in the freezer so I always have some handy, by the way. Just chop it up into 1" chunks and freeze the pieces in a ziploc.This honey is still the best I've ever had--we got it from the farmer's market up in Blue Ridge last year... that has my vote for our most enjoyable mini vacation of all time.Mix up the honey, lemon juice, olive oil and ginger in a little dish with a teeny bit of salt and pepper.
Your beets are roasted and soft!Let them cool slightly so you don't burn your paws, then peel them--the skins should slide right off. Slice into thin rounds.Stack the rounds and top with a roasted green garlic bulb...And drizzle with the honey-lemon sauce.Pretty and dramatic! I like it.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Swordfish on leeks

Leeks look like hairy, skinny onions. In the allium world they are the scrawny teenage boy who just learned to grow a mustache, which is totally off-putting. But they turn tender and sweet when they are braised on the stovetop and they make a nice nest for meaty swordfish steaks.
Peel off the toughest outer layer and split your leeks in half longwise. You can trim the ends if you like, but I left them on because I think they look neat--just don't eat them.Leeks are always a bit sandy. Wash them well by swishing them in a bowl of cold water and letting all the dirt settle out while you do other things.Swordfish was on sale at Whole Foods! It's delicious but we barely ever eat it because of the over-fishing issues and the cost. But I figured if it was on sale they probably had a lot of it and who wants any waste of such a top fish?Salt, pepper, and marinate very lightly for 30 minutes with a tablespoon of olive oil and the juice from 1/2 lemon, plus a few slices cut from the squeezed out half.Melt about 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat and add in your (drained and dried) leeks.They'll start to get a little bit soft after 5 minutes or so; add in 1/4 cup chicken stock and a drizzle of white wine. Let them cook for another 10 minutes.Meanwhile, zest a small lemon (or do doubleduty and take the zest from the half lemon you used earlier, if it's big enough).Add the zest to the leeks along with another 1/4 cup chicken stock and 1/4 cup or so more white wine. Cover and turn the heat up to medium-high for 7 minutes, then check on them.They should be dry and looking like this with some yummy browned bits.Flip them around and add in a bit more wine (just pour it out from the glass you're drinking out of anyway) and a splash more chicken stock to deglaze the fond. Add also the lightest sprinkle of sugar, plus salt and pepper. Let it cook down for 5 minutes.Meanwhile, that's practically all the time you need to finish your swordfish steaks! Get your broiler cranked up and put in your swordfish steaks with some olive oil in the pan. Let them cook for 3 minutes per side then remove from heat.The leeks cooked off all their liquid and are lying there exhausted.Pile them into a bed on some couscous...And hello there! Swordfish on top.Enjoy! Have another glass of wine. You've earned it.

Roasted broccolini with green garlic

Broccolini and fresh green garlic were just both in season here in Georgia so I roasted them together. I actually don't usually love broccolini--I always think it tastes too bitter. But roasted using the revelatory broccoli method it mellows out a lot. And the green garlic is so tender that it becomes soft in no time at all.Chop up the broccolini into manageable chunks--I think these were in 2" pieces. Peel the green garlic...And chop into quarters, depending on how big they are.Scatter amongst the broccolini pieces...And drizzle with about 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus salt and pepper. Toss it together so everything gets evenly coated before roasting.Let it go for 20-25 minutes at 400. Check in often though--here it is after about 10 minutes.When you pull it out it won't look pretty--the broccolini leaves are browned and crisp.But they taste perfect. Shave a lot of fresh Parmesan over the top plus a squeeze of lemon juice.I like how they look on the plate in a big tangle--especially good with steak.