GREEN TEA RICE WITH EDAMAME & BUTTERNUT SQUASH

I drink tea every evening and often incorporate it in my cooking (and baking). Any green tea will work well for this recipe, but I used a very special kind, that goes by the beautiful name Thunder Dragon. I did not know, but that’s how people of Bhutan call their country… Bhutan: The Land of the Thunder Dragon. Isn’t that beautiful? The tea they produce is rarely exported, but not too long ago was available for sale by “In Pursuit of Tea”, and I got some. First time I made this dish, I brewed some tea and used it to cook the rice later, but if you don’t have a problem with the tea leaves staying around… this method is easier and delivers the same flavor.

GREEN TEA RICE WITH EDAMAME AND BUTTERNUT SQUASH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the rice:
1 cup Basmati rice, rinse and drained
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
fresh ginger, minced (about 1 tsp, or to taste)
2 cups water
2 tsp green tea leaves (loose)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 to 3/4 cup shelled edamame (frozen works great)

for the butternut squash:
1/2 butternut squash, cut in 1-inch pieces
olive oil to coat
salt, pepper and paprika to taste

Start by roasting the butternut squash. Heat the oven to 420F. Coat the pieces of squash with olive oil, season with salt, pepper and paprika. Place as a single layer on a baking dish lined with aluminum foil, sprinkle a bit of water (a tablespoon or so), and cover tightly with foil. Roast for 25 minutes, remove the cover and roast for 20 more minutes uncovered while you prepare the rice.

If using frozen edamame, remove it from the freezer and place on a baking dish to defrost while you make the rice. Heat the grapeseed oil in a saucepan, add the ginger, saute for a few seconds, and add the rice. Season with salt, and saute for a minute, until all grains are well coated with oil. Add the water, tea, and bring to a gently boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 20 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Place the edamame on top of the rice and cover the pan again. Leave for 10 minutes undisturbed, and when the butternut squash is ready, fluff the rice, mix the edamame with it, and serve with the squash around it.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The rice can stand on its own as a side dish, but the color, texture and taste of the roasted squash was surprisingly good with it. I often do a very similar approach using frozen corn kernels instead of edamame. The residual steam as the rice is ready and waiting is enough to warm up the corn and it retains a very nice texture. If you ever want to perk your rice up, it’s a pretty easy way to do it. I might do a double feature next time, edamame and corn together, green and yellow, the colors of Brazil!

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INCREDIBLY SIMPLE TIMES FOUR: OCTOBER 2020

It’s been a while since I shared with you recipes that are super simple but tasty enough to justify being featured on a blog post.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #1
EGGS WITH ZA’ATAR AND LEMON

This very simple “recipe” is from a wonderful cookbook called “Falastin.”  Gently boil as many eggs as you want, but just for 6 minutes. The idea is to get the yolk still pretty creamy. Now in a small bowl, whisk olive oil, lemon juice, and za’tar. Peel the eggs, and chop them coarsely, drizzle your little sauce and sprinkle salt on top. Amounts are totally flexible, I usually go with 2 eggs, 1 tablespoon olive oil and then improvise.  I don’t know how many times I’ve called this lunch, with Ak-Mak crackers or a slice of sourdough bread. So good!

 

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #2
SMOKY CHICKPEAS

Inspiration for this recipe came from Steeped: Recipes Infused with Tea (I adore it). You will need some smoked tea (Lapsang Souchong), but it is totally worth it to get some and keep in your pantry, even if you don’t enjoy it as a regular tea. I use it in chocolate ganache and quite often in cooking. It gives the food a very nice, subtle smoky flavor.

Slice open one bag of smoked tea, mix its contents with some cumin, smoked paprika, and salt. Open a can of chickpeas, drain and rinse well. Add into a bowl, drizzle some grape seed oil all over it, add the dry spice mixture and mix.  Spread on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, and roast in a 400F oven for 25 minutes until golden brown.  Once again, amounts can be totally eye-balled, no need for precision here. Relax and have fun with it.

 

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #3
AROMATIC BASMATI RICE

I found this gem of a recipe at Spice House website and made it four times in a row. That tells you how much we enjoyed it. It just turns a regular batch of rice into something special.  I made some adjustments to their recipe as I felt that the rice was turning out a bit too underdone for our taste.

AROMATIC BASMATI RICE
(adapted from Spice House)

1 cup Basmati rice, rinsed
1 Tablespoon grape seed oil (or another mild-flavored oil)
5 whole cardamom pods
2-3 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
salt to taste
2 cups cold water  

Add oil to a non-stick saucepan and place the pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the cardamon (you can lightly crush them if you want more flavor), cloves and cinnamon stick to saute briefly. When fragrant, add rice and salt. Saute a minute or so to coat the grains of rice with the flavored oil. Add water, but don’t put the lid on yet.

Once the water boils, turn the heat down and simmer uncovered for 7 minutes. Cover the pan, and let it cook on very gently heat for 7 more minutes. Turn the heat off and let the rice sit in the pan for 10 minutes before removing the spices and fluffing the rice for serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Make sure to count how many little spice pieces you add to the pan so you can be sure to remove them all, although they are pretty visible on the cooked rice later.  There is so much flavor in this recipe, I guarantee you will be hooked on it.

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INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #4
BAKED SALMON WITH SOY-GINGER GLAZE

BAKED SALMON WITH SOY-GINGER GLAZE
(inspired by At Home with Natalie)

3 salmon filets
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin (sweet rice wine)
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 tsp sesame oil (do not add more, it is powerful stuff)
salt to taste
sesame seeds to sprinkle on top

Place the salmon filets (skin side down) over a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil leave at room temperature while you heat the oven to 350F and reduce the sauce for glazing.

Mix the soy sauce and mirin in a small non-stick saucepan, add the ginger, brown sugar and sesame oil. Simmer gently for a few minutes, until it starts to get a little thicker.   Brush the top of the filets with some of the glaze, season very lightly with salt, and place in the oven for 20 minutes. Reserve the rest of the glaze.

Remove the pan from the oven, brush with more glaze and sprinkle sesame seeds. Return to the oven, and cook until done to your liking. Serve immediately.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

We eat salmon every week, but usually the husband is the seafood cook in our house. I rarely venture into his department, but was tempted to try this very simple preparation. I know I’ll be making it regularly, the only key thing is to get the fish cooked to the exact point you want (which is easier to do with sous-vide, but sometimes it’s nice to simplify things further).  Probe the filet with a paring knife, and remove from the oven when it reaches your personal Nirvana level.

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TURKEY-PUMPKIN ROULADE WITH CIDER SAUCE AND MILLET PILAF

This was one delicious meal, even if I say so myself. I had never cooked turkey breasts, for some reason they’ve always intimidated me. Huge, and with that look of “I am going to be very dry and tough.” But sous-vide has a way to mellow any tough creature into perfection. If you don’t have a sous-vide, you can still make this recipe, just read my comments for changes.

TURKEY-PUMPKIN ROULADE WITH CIDER SAUCE AND CARROT-MILLET PILAF
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

2 boneless, skinless turkey breasts
Salt Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup canned pumpkin purée
¼ cup chopped toasted pecans
2 tablespoons crumbled sage,
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 cup + 1/2 chicken broth, divided
¼ cup apple cider
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons flour

Heat the water bath to 148F.  Pound both breasts to about ¼ inch thick. Season well with salt and pepper. Make the filling by mixing the pumpkin, pecans, sage and smoked paprika in a small bowl.

Spread half the filling on each breast, then roll up each breast jelly-roll style, starting at the narrow end. Keep the roll tight with kitchen’s twine.   Place each breast in a heat-safe bag, and pour 1/4 cup chicken broth + 1/8 cup apple cider in each bag.  Close by water displacement.  Cook in the water bath for 3 hours.

Remove the roulades from the bag, reserving the cooking liquid or one of the bags (discard the liquid from the other bag). Place the roulades on a paper towel–lined plate and pat dry.  Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a non-stick skillet and brown the roulades quickly on all sides. Cut the kitchen twine and place them on a platter covered with foil as you reduce the sauce.

Add one more tablespoon of flour to the skillet, and cook the flour on it for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly. Pour 1 cup of chicken stock and the reserved cooking liquid from one of the bags. Simmer gently until reduced, about 5 minutes. Season with more salt and a little pepper, cut the turkey in slices and serve with the sauce.

CARROT-MILLET PILAF

1 cup millet, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons olive oil, dividied
salt and pepper
3 carrots, peeled, cut in small pieces
1/4 cup slivered almonds
smoked paprika to taste

Start by roasting the carrots. Heat oven to 420F. Drizzle the carrots with 1 tablespoon olive oil, season with salt, pepper and smoked paprika. Place on a small baking sheet in a single layer and roast for 20 minutes, then add the almonds and roast for 5 minutes longer, mixing them well with the carrots. Reserve.

Cook the millet. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan. Add the millet and cook on high-heat, toasting well, for a couple of minutes. Add 2 cups of water, reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until water is absorbed and grains are cooked.  Immediately fluff it with a fork, add the carrots and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipes, click here  

Comments: If you don’t have a sous-vide, the process is pretty much reversed. You start by browning the roulades in olive oil, then add chicken stock and cider to the pan, close it and simmer away until done to your liking. Or use your crockpot, or the pressure cooker, following the timings recommended for this type of preparation.

The millet was also delicious with it, and leftovers re-heated quite well for two more meals. This whole dinner would be perfect for a Thanksgiving for two, if you don’t want to go through the trouble of roasting a whole bird and then facing leftovers until Valentine’s Day say hello…

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BULGUR AND CHICKPEA SALAD WITH POMEGRANATE SEEDS

I’ve been on a bulgur kick lately. It is such a nice grain, cooks in less than 10 minutes and you can enjoy it warm or cold. In the version I share today, it showed up as salad, with a very simple lemony dressing with fresh mint from our own garden. Disclaimer: I take zero credit for any fruits, legumes or herbs grown in our backyard. The husband is the gardener in charge, and for that I am forever grateful. I am a certified mint-killer.

BULGUR AND CHICKPEA SALAD WITH POMEGRANATE SEEDS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 cup bulgur
1/2 tsp salt
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 tsp paprika
2 Tablespoons olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
fresh mint leaves
fresh pomegranate seeds
1/2 preserved lemon, cut in small pieces (optional)
salt and pepper for final seasoning

Cook the bulgur in a large volume of salted water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and rinse briefly with cold water. Reserve.

Place the drained chickpeas in a microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle some paprika and microwave for 15 seconds or so. Let them cool briefly.  Add the chickpeas to the bulgur in a serving bowl. Add mint leaves to taste, drizzle olive oil and lemon juice, mix everything well. Finally add pieces of preserved lemons (if using) and pomegranate seeds. Adjust seasoning, and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The little step of microwaving the chickpeas for just a few seconds with a touch of spice is absolutely worth it. I read about it a long time ago and now I just incorporate in every recipe that calls for canned chickpeas. It brightens up the flavor, and since it is such a short “cooking” time, it does not affect the texture. It exorcises  that “tinned” feel out of them.

I added preserved lemons because I made some from scratch back in April and this salad was a perfect opportunity to bring them to play. You can omit or add orange segments together with the pomegranate seeds. Leftovers keep quite well, in fact I think the salad was better at lunch next day. I added a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and a touch of additional salt. This will be in our regular rotation, I am sure.

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ROAST VEGGIES WITH BLACK BARLEY

Black sesame, black barley…  What can I say? Love them both, although black barley is not always available in our stores. Online I see what seems to be the exact same product described as “purple barley” and pretty expensive by comparison to the product I find here at Hy-Vee. I love the way it looks and it seems to be slightly more chewy and perhaps a bit more bitter than regular barley. In this recipe, I paired it with my current favorite way to roast all kinds of veggies.  It all started with carrots

ROAST BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND CAULIFLOWER WITH BLACK BARLEY
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

(use enough veggies to cover a baking sheet in a single layer)
Butternut squash, cut in 1 inch pieces
Cauliflower florets sliced to have a flat side
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp rose harissa
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
lemon juice to taste
1 cup barley

Heat oven to 425F.

In a large bowl, mix together the olive oil, harissa, paprika, pomegranate molasses and salt.  Add the veggies to the bowl and toss well to combine. Spread on a baking sheet, add a tablespoon or two of water, cover with foil and roast for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and roast for 10 to 15 minutes longer, until nicely golden brown.

Meanwhile cook the barley. Fill a large saucepan with lightly salted water, when it comes to a boil drop the barley and cook gently until soft. It should take between 30 and 40 minutes. I prefer to retain some texture. Drain it, coat lightly with olive oil and reserve.

Remove the veggies from the oven, add some lemon juice and serve over the cooked barley. Adjust seasoning if needed.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I love this type of recipe, it “almost” makes me feel that becoming a vegetarian would be possible. Almost is the key word, though. I rather embrace my omnivore nature. Leftovers? You know I always cook dinner with leftovers in mind, and more often than not I pair them with another favorite food item of mine.

Lunch is served!

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