INCREDIBLY SIMPLE TIMES FOUR: MAY 2021

Last time I shared Incredibly Simple recipes was 7 months ago, so it’s been a while… The first three are embarrassing simple. The fourth will surprise you. Read on, my friends!

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #1

AIR-FRIED CAULIFLOWER FLORETS

I admit that the picture is not that great. The problem is I had no intention of blogging about it, until I realized I made it three weeks in a row, and now it’s pretty hard for me to prepare cauliflower any other way. The air-fryer is the perfect environment to get crispy, tender inside florets, in 20 minutes. Yes, 20 minutes start to finish. No mess, no fuss. Perfect results every single time.

Toss the florets in a large bowl with a little grapeseed oil (you can use olive oil if you prefer), season with salt, pepper, and when you want to rock your world a bit, go for smoked paprika, maybe a touch of curry. Set your fryer to the highest temperature (mine is 390F), and let it roast for 20 minutes, shaking the basket once or twice.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #2

HARD-BOILED EGGS, THE AIR-FRYER WAY

If you own an air-fryer and want to expand your horizons to use it more often, hard-boiled eggs are a great option. Place as many eggs as you want in the basket. Set it to 270F (or around that temperature, depending on your model) and set the timer to 15 minutes. You might need a little adjustment in the time. For my fryer and my taste in hard-boiled eggs, that combination hits the spot. If you want to have soft-boiled eggs, reduce the time to 8 to 10 minutes, but again you’ll have to tweak the conditions. The eggs peel like a dream, by the way.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #3

SWEET AND SPICY WALNUTS (or PECANS)

Phil came up with this idea and now we do it all the time for our salads. Grab a handful of walnuts or pecans. Coat a non-stick small skillet with a tiny tiny tiny amount of olive oil. Heat, and add the nuts. Season with salt and pepper, or if you like to change things a bit, go for a touch of paprika. When the nuts start to get fragrant, drizzle a very small amount (maybe 1 tsp) of maple syrup. Everything will bubble furiously. Shake the pan to move the walnuts and coat them with the syrupy mixture. Immediately remove from the heat and transfer them to a small bowl to cool down a bit. Add to your salad. Any salad. Try to refrain from picking those babies from the bowl when no one is looking

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #4

FRIANDS

You may ask yourself… “Has she lost her mind?” BAKING in Incredibly Simple? Nope, I did not lose my mind (at least not for this particular reason). This is a recipe that a 5 year old can make with minor supervision as the young child will need to operate a food processor.

Melt 1 stick (113g) of butter and place in the bowl of a food processor together with
90g all-purpose flour
110g almond flour (or finely ground almonds)
3/4 tsp baking powder
5 egg whites
190g powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Process for 1 minute. It will be very foamy. Spoon the mixture in non-stick muffin tins (or friand molds), filling each cavity no more than 3/4 full. Place two raspberries in each portion, top with some slivered almonds. Bake at 325F for 18 to 20 minutes, until the edges start to get golden. Let them cool for 10 minutes, remove from the molds and when fully cold, dust with powdered sugar.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I hope that if you consider yourself a non-baker, or worse yet, a bake-o-phobe (like I used to be), you will still grab the ingredients and try this recipe. You can vary the nut flour by adding some hazelnuts or even ground pistachios in some proportion together with almond flour. Or you can bake this simple version. They are delicate, moist, fragrant, absolutely perfect with a cup of tea. And so incredibly simple to prepare! Make sure to surprise whoever is around and when you bring those to the table, say very non-challantly… “I’ve made some friands for you”… Work on your best French accent, it is a must in this case.

ONE YEAR AGO: Phyllo Parcels with Moroccan Turkey

TWO YEARS AGO: Roasted Corn and Zucchini Salad

THREE YEAR AGO: Fraisier Cake, A Celebration of Spring

FOUR YEARS AGO: Zucchini Frittata with Roasted Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

FIVE YEARS AGO: Playing with Pectinase

SIX YEARS AGO: Poached White Asparagus with Lemon and Pistachios

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Dan Lepard’s Saffron Bloomer

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Fesenjan & The New Persian Kitchen

NINE YEARS AGO: Quinoa Salad with Roasted Beets

TEN YEARS AGO: Pasta Puttanesca

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Miche Point-a-Calliere

THAI-STYLE TURKEY & ZUCCHINI MEATBALLS WITH SPICY GLAZE

We arrive at mid-November and I must tell you that this simple recipe goes into the top 10 of this crazy year. For sure. I used the air-fryer, but it can be made in a regular oven adjusting time and temperature as I mention in the recipe. It was simple to put together, short list of ingredients, great flavor.

THAI-STYLE TURKEY & ZUCCHINI MEATBALLS WITH SPICY GLAZE
(from The Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by several sources)

for the glaze:
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3/4 cup water
50g granulated sugar (about 1/4 cup)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp fish sauce (optional, but advisable)
1 tbsp sambal oelek
2 tsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp cold water

for the meatballs:
1 pound ground turkey (dark meat preferred)
1 cup zucchini, grated and squeezed as dry as possible
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
zest of 1 lime
1 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper to taste
1 egg, lightly beaten

Make the glaze. Add the vinegar, water, sugar, soy sauce, and fish sauce to a non-stick pan. Heat while stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Simmer for about 3 minutes in medium-low heat. Add the sambal oelek, mix stirring gently until the sauce starts to thicken (about 3 minutes).

Make a slurry with the cornstarch and water, add to the sauce. Simmer, constantly stirring for another couple of minutes. The sauce will thicken quite quickly. Remove from heat, pour into a small bottle or bowl, cool and refrigerate until needed.

Make the meatballs. Combine the zucchini, ginger, cilantro, lime zest, salt, pepper, ground turkey and almond flour and mix them well with your hands. Add the beaten egg and gently finish incorporating it all. Mixture will be a bit loose. Shape as 12 golf-sized balls. Place over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer. If they seem too fragile to move around, stick them in the freezer for 10 minutes, it will not affect their roasting, maybe require just a couple of extra minutes.

Heat the air fryer to 390°F, and keep your regular oven at around 300F to keep the meatballs warm as you finish them. If not using an air-fryer, set your oven to 400F to roast the meatballs.

In the air-fryer, they will be ready in about 12 minutes, flip them over mid-way through. In a regular oven they will take 20 to 25 minutes.

As soon as the meatballs are finished cooking, coat them with the spicy glaze. If preparing them in batches, keep the first batch in a 300F oven as you cook the second batch. Serve with your favorite side dish, steamed rice and/or vegetables.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The glaze is the same kind used to dip Spring rolls made with rice paper. You can conceivably buy it ready in the grocery store, but making it from scratch is easy and the pay off is huge. If you like it really hot, add a touch of cayenne. For us, it was the perfect level of heat. Sambal oelek is a wonderful ingredient to keep in the fridge.

As to the zucchini, better avoid using a food processor to shred it. There is something about the size and texture of grating by hand that makes it perfect to combine with the meat. The only variable to keep in mind is the amount of water retained in the zucchini. Squeeze as much as you can, but consider increasing the amount of almond flour to have a consistency that allows you to form the meatballs. Use your intuition.

The meatballs can be formed in small size and served as appetizer with small lettuce leaves to grab them. We enjoyed them as a regular main dish, with white rice and sugar peas made in 5 minutes. Those must go into a future Incredibly Easy post. Stay tuned!

ONE YEAR AGO: Roast Veggies with Black Barley

TWO YEARS AGO: Creamy Chicken Thighs with Sun-dried Tomatoes

THREE YEARS AGO: Chocolate Cranberry Curd Tart

FOUR YEARS AGO: Slow-Cooker Pork Ragu with Fennel

FIVE YEARS AGO: Pimp your Veg, a Guest Post

SIX YEARS AGO: Cooking Light Pan-Charred Veggies 

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Pomegranate Chicken Thighs and Carrot Mash

EIGHT YEARS AGO: The Many Faces of Kale

NINE YEARS AGO:  Short and Sweet 

TEN YEARS AGO:Ciabatta, a Classic Italian Bread

ELEVEN YEARS AGO:
Magical Lamb Stew


TWICE-COOKED EGGPLANT

This recipe was adapted from the cookbook Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking, by Michael Solomonov. It is very unusual in the sense that you essentially fry the eggplant to the point that it seems ruined. Black. Burned beyond recognition. I made it exactly as described and we enjoyed it quite a bit, however it was a tad oil-heavy, hard to digest.  I wanted to re-visit the method using the air-fryer instead. To compensate for the lack of a “smoky” flavor given by the charred component in the original recipe, I seasoned it with smoked paprika. And for our taste, it was even better!

TWICE-COOKED EGGPLANT
(adapted from Zahav)

2 medium eggplants, cut into thick rounds
2 tablespoons kosher salt
about 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
2 large stalks of celery, chopped
2 medium shallots, minced
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/8 cup sherry vinegar
chopped fresh parsley to taste
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Sprinkle the eggplant slices with the salt, join the slices as if forming the full eggplant again, and tightly wrap each with plastic film. Liquid will collect inside the package. After 20 minutes or so, open the package and rinse lightly. Blot dry with paper towels.  Brush each slice lightly with olive oil and air-fry at 390 F for about 15 minutes, moving the slices around every few minutes.

As the eggplant is air-frying, coat a large non-stick skillet with 2 tablespoons olive oil, and sautee the bell pepper, celery and shallots, seasoning with salt, coriander and smoked paprika.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very soft but not brown, about 12 minutes.

Add the air-fryed eggplant and vinegar to the pan, breaking up the eggplant and mashing it coarsely until well combined. Cook until the vinegar has evaporated, about 8 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the parsley and lemon juice.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: In the picture above you see the extent of frying that must be done before proceeding with the recipe. He includes a photo in the book to make sure everyone knows what he’s talking about when he says black. Charred. It does take a while, especially if you have only one large skillet to prepare two eggplants.

I did not take a picture from the air-fryed version, but it looked like the first photo in the composite picture. But it got there with a lot less oil, I only lightly brushed the slices once and that was it. Overall, a delicious side dish, that is good right after prepared, but also wonderful next day, enjoyed cold or gently re-heated.

Before I leave you, let me tell you that this trick of wrapping the eggplant tightly in plastic to release the bitter liquid was a tip I sent many years ago to Fine Cooking magazine, back when they had a contest for readers, I think it was called tip of the month. I won and got some nice gadgets, including the salad spinner I still own! Anyway, it’s a nice method. Not only you don’t need to spread the eggplant in a large area and find ways to weigh it down, but wrapping it is less messy and somehow makes the liquid come out faster. If you have to work with several eggplants, they can just sit side by side over your countertop. Piece of cake!

ONE YEAR AGO:  Turkey Burger, Japanese-Style

TWO YEARS AGO: Pumpkin Macarons

THREE YEARS AGO: Slow-Cooked Whole Chicken

FOUR YEARS AGO: Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Chocolate Frosting

FIVE YEARS AGO: Pecan-Crusted Chicken with Honey-Mustard Dressing

SIX YEARS AGO: Bewitching Kitchen on Fire!

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Chiarello’s Chicken Cacciatore

NINE YEARS AGO: Donna Hay’s Thai-Inspired Dinner

TEN YEARS AGO: Panettone

 

CHICKPEAS AND ZUCCHINI WITH TAHINI SAUCE

This side dish was the marriage of two regular appearances in our kitchen: quickly sauteed zucchini and air-fried chickpeas. The union was celebrated with a nice amount of tahini sauce.  I tell you, this worked very very well. If you don’t have an air-fryer, roast the chickpeas in a 400-420F oven. It takes longer and the texture won’t be quite as crunchy, but it will work just fine.  I intended to sprinkle pomegranate seeds right before serving for a little extra bling, but of course that day the grocery store had ran out of them. Best laid plans.

LEMONY ZUCCHINI AND CHICKPEAS WITH TAHINI-SAUCE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the tahini-sauce:
1/3 cup plain full-fat yogurt
1/8 cup tahini paste
juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 tsp honey
salt to taste
water if needed
for the veggies:

3 small zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise, then thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
juice of 1 lemon
1 can chickpeas, well drained and dried
olive oil to coat chickpeas
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
salt to taste
fresh parsley
(pomegranate seeds if you have them)

Make the tahini sauce: whisk all ingredients in a small bowl. Reserve.

Make the air-fried chickpeas.  Coat them lightly with olive oil, add the spices and place them in the air-frier set at the highest temperature (usually 390F) for about 12 minutes. They should be crunchy and golden brown.  Reserve.

Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet, add the zucchini covering the whole surface, season with salt and pepper. Let the slices cook undisturbed until the side in contact with the pan is well seared. Move the slices around and cook until done. Sprinkle lemon juice all over, cover the pan for a minute, remove the lid, add the chickpeas and parsley.  Serve immediately with the tahini sauce on top.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: When I was a child, teenager or even young adult, you could not bribe me to eat chickpeas, which in Portuguese have the non-appealing name of “grão-de-bico”. It translates – loosely – as “the grain of the beak”. They can also be called “ervilha-de-galinha”, which ends up as “chicken’s green peas”. Yeah, very sexy. How could anyone consider that a delicacy? Anyway, now I crave it. Go figure.

Leftovers were delicious a couple of days later. In fact, I found out that air-fried chickpeas, when microwaved just enough to make them warm, get a nice texture, a bit more creamy inside. My lunch coupled this tasty concoction with a fried egg on top.  I was smiling the whole afternoon.

ONE YEAR AGO: Mokonut’s Rye Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookies

TWO YEARS AGO: Incredibly Simple Times Four

THREE YEARS AGO: Going naked, and my husband loved it

FOUR YEARS AGO: Cream Cheese Mini-Pancakes with Smoked Salmon

FIVE YEARS AGO:  Star-Shaped Chocolate Brioche Bread

SIX YEARS AGO: Blueberry-Banana Bread 

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Into the Light Again

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Five Grain Sourdough Bread

NINE YEARS AGO: The Nano-Kitchen

TEN YEARS AGO: Kaiser Rolls

 

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE TIMES FOUR: MAY 2019

Once again I offer you a small collection of non-recipes, so simple that I wonder whether they are blog-worthy. The first two use the air-fryer, but you could make them both in a regular oven. It will just take a little longer, and maybe the texture will not be quite the same.  The second two call for preserved lemons, an ingredient that is worth experimenting with. You can make your own, or buy a bottle, which is what I did.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #1

AIR-FRIED TORTILLA CHIPS

Excellent use for tortillas that are getting past their prime, and wave at you when you open the fridge… “Please, do something about us laying here in this lousy bag. We are not getting any younger…”

Grab a pair of scissors, cut each tortilla in four wedges, each wedge in two. That will make 8 pretty good size chips from each corn tortilla. Spray olive oil, sprinkle with your favorite spices (I like to use a combination of smoked paprika, cumin, and a very light touch of cayenne pepper).  Season with salt. Put in the air-fryer set as high as it will go (mine goes to 390F). Fry them until golden brown and crispy, shaking the basket every few minutes. They should be ready in 8 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen absorbent paper, and serve while still warm, but they are great at room temperature, getting a bit harder then. Amazing how much better they are than those you can buy in bags. If you only need a small amount, the air-fryer is definitely your best option. A very efficient way to exercise portion control: don’t make a massive amount!

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #2

AIR-FRIED ARTICHOKE HEARTS

You might be surprised to learn that I found this recipe in a vegan forum. I do have a pretty open mind when it comes to cooking, and vegan recipes can be quite creative and intriguing. Members of the forum were raving about it.  Grab a bottle of oil-packed artichoke hearts. If you can only find those that come in a brine type solution, no worries. Simply drain the liquid well, dry them a bit, and coat them with a nice layer of olive oil.  Place them in the air fryer basket, set to high. Fry until they get golden the way you like. Some bits will threaten to get charred. Those are good bits, embrace them.

I can only advise you to get more than one bottle going. These fried morsels are addictive, they shrink, and you will regret not frying a few more. Plus, leftovers are fantastic added to pasta, couscous, as pizza topping. You need these in your life.  I imagine you can do them equally well broiling in a regular oven. Simple. But so very tasty…

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #3

ROASTED VEGGIES WITH PRESERVED LEMONS

For this “non-recipe” I got a bag of those rainbow carrots, and cut them quarters lengthwise, then in sticks. Did the same with some zucchini. Added all veggies to a bowl, drizzled olive oil, salt and pepper. Grabbed 4 slices of preserved lemons, diced them (they are so soft they more or less melt as you cut them), added to the bowl, mixing gently.

Placed in a roasting pan and into a 425F oven.  Thirty minutes later, they were ready to be enjoyed!  Very nice lemony flavor, perfect side dish for a busy weeknight.  Probably doable in the air-fryer also, but I was hoping for a bigger batch, with leftovers in mind.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #4

GRILLED CHICKEN BREASTS WITH PRESERVED LEMON MARINADE

Get a couple of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, slice them in half to make them thinner, and pound them slightly.  Now get about 6 thin slices of preserved lemons and add to a small food processor with a few tablespoons of olive oil, salt, pepper, and a couple of teaspoons of agave nectar.  Process into a paste. Add to the chicken breasts inside a plastic bag, leave to marinade a few hours or overnight. Remove the meat from the marinade, grill about 5 minutes per side.

Pure citric flavor, that will also tenderize the meat slightly. It will be moist and flavorful, a combination not always easy with chicken breasts. This preparation reminds me of the whole-lemon marinade I blogged about in the past.

I hope you enjoyed my little collection of quick and easy recipes, they tend to become part of our regular rotation, in fact preserved lemons will have a permanent spot in our fridge. Right there next to the rose harissa…

ONE YEAR AGO: French Style Baguettes

TWO YEARS AGO: Sad Times

THREE YEARS AGO: Slow-Cooker Carnitas Lettuce Wraps and Paleo Planet Review