INCREDIBLY SIMPLE TIMES FOUR: OCTOBER 2018

Time to feature recipes that are so simple they hardly qualify as such.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #1

AIR-FRIED CHICKPEAS
(also work in a regular oven)

AIR-FRIED CHICKPEAS

1 can chickpeas
a little olive oil
spices of your choice (I used Southwest mix from Penzey’s)
salt
grated Parmigiano cheese

Drain the chickpeas and dry them on paper towels. You need to prevent them from steaming, as much as possible. Place them in a bowl, coat lightly with olive oil, and add the spices of your choice, just a little sprinkle will do. Season with salt.

Spray the basket of your air-fryer with olive oil. Set it to 360 F. Add the chickpeas and roast them for 12 to 15 minutes, shaking the basket every five minutes or so.  Transfer them to a serving bowl, and sprinkle Parmigiano while they are hot. Enjoy right away, or store them for many hours at room temperature, uncovered. They are still excellent next day.

If using a regular oven, set it to 400F, and roast the chickpeas for 25 to 30 minutes.

to print the recipe, click here

I’ve made them both ways, oven and air-fryer. The air-fryer gives a little more crunch, so it is my favorite method. The fact that it is so fast does not hurt it either!  Beware, they are addictive. Perfect to nibble as appetizer but also quite good sprinkled over salads, spinach in particular goes well with crunchy chickpeas. Curry is a great spice to add to them before air-frying/roasting. Make sure to save them in an open bowl, they keep their crunchy nature better that way. Not that they will last that long.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #2

LEMONY SAUTEED ZUCCHINI

LEMONY ZUCCHINI

Prepare enough zucchini pieces to almost cover a 12-inch non-stick frying pan, like shown below:


Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan and allow it to heat until almost smoking. Add the pieces of zucchini, season with salt and pepper, and do not touch them. Let them develop a dark golden color on the side touching the pan, like shown below:

Only when they get to this point, move them to get some color on another side. Again, move them as little as possible, and wait for a deep color to develop. When the zucchini is tender (but not mushy), squeeze lemon juice all over, and shake the pan to move the slices around and gently coat them with the lemony glaze that forms.  Serve immediately, adjust seasoning if necessary.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #3

SMOKED RICE

Smoked rice, you ask? I first read about it in a blog I follow, Love and Olive Oil. Lindsay bought some smoked Basmati rice and raved about it. I was intrigued, and decided to take the smoke into my own hands. If you don’t have a smoker, you can follow the method described hereIf you have an electric smoker, it’s quite straightforward…

Add hickory wooden chips (or any wood you like) to the smoker

and set it to 175 F.

Place 2 cups of rice on a quarter-sheet baking pan.

Smoke it for one hour.

Allow it to cool completely, and cook the rice as you normally would.

 

I cooked one cup and saved another smoked cup for later. I was afraid that the rice would be all clumped up, because I did not want to rinse it after smoking. To my surprise, it was super fluffy, all grains well separated. The hour of heating at 175 F did not hurt anything, quite the contrary.  The rice had just the right amount of smokiness, and was excellent as a side dish for some sausages cooked sous-vide. We are smoking rice quite often these days…

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #4

SOUS-VIDE ITALIAN SAUSAGES

SOUS-VIDE ITALIAN SAUSAGES

5 Italian sausages
1/2 cup Lager beer
salt and pepper

Heat the sous-vide to 170 F.

Place the sausages inside a food-safe plastic bag. Add the beer, season with a little salt and pepper.  Use the water displacement method to close the bag.

Submerge the bag and cook the sausages for 1  to 3 hours.

Remove the sausages from the bag, discard the cooking liquid. Dry the sausages very well, and crisp them up on a non-stick pan with a light coating of oil, or on a hot grill.

The sausages cooked sous-vide can also be kept in the fridge for a couple of days. When you want to serve them, place them in hot water for 5 minutes, then proceed to saute them as described.

to print the recipe, click here

Sous-vide sausages, smoked rice, and a little butternut squash on the side…

When we cook sausages on the grill, we go through a pretty elaborate method of switching them from the grill to a pan with simmering beer on top of the stove. They go back and forth, back and forth, from simmering to the grill, to make sure they end up moist and flavorful. The sous-vide delivers the same quality in terms of texture, without any hassle at all. I doubt I will cook this type of sausage any other way. Even warmed up in the microwave two days later, they were excellent.  If you have a sous-vide gadget, give it a try.

I realize that this series of Incredibly Easy recipes used an air-fryer, electric smoker, and a sous-vide, but except for the Italian sausages, all others can be prepared without any special cooking equipment.

ONE YEAR AGO: Parsnip, Coconut and Lemongrass Soup

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2016

THREE YEARS AGO: Paleo Moussaka

FOUR YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2014

FIVE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2013

SIX YEARS AGO: Bourbon and Molasses Glazed Pork Tenderloin

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Crimson and Cream Turkey Chili

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Taking a break from the nano-kitchen

NINE YEARS AGO: Chocolate Chip Cookies

SMOKED SALMON FAIT MAISON

I love this French expression that makes “home-made” sound a lot more special…  In Paris, they often print it in restaurant menus to indicate that some item – say,  their country paté – is “fait maison.”  In other words, unique. Special. Cannot get anywhere else. And that’s pretty much how I feel about smoked salmon made in our very own electric smoker. If you like the stuff available at the grocery store, you will flip for this. It is so much better, it doesn’t even seem like the same food item. I go as far as saying that buying an electric smoker is worth it just for smoking salmon. And steelhead trout.

SMOKED SALMON WITH BUTTERMILK DRESSING
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by many sources)

1 salmon fillet (about 4 pounds)
½ cup seafood dry rub
1 lemon, sliced
½ cup buttermilk dressing

for dry rub (makes more than you need):
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1 tablespoon  paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt

for buttermilk dressing:
½ cup buttermilk
1/4 cup full-fat yogurt
Juice of half lemon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill

Make the dry rub:  In a small sauté pan over medium heat, toast the coriander seeds, black peppercorns and cloves for 1 to 2 minutes.  Let the mixture cool slightly, then process it thoroughly in a spice grinder and transfer it to a small bowl. Add the paprika, oregano, red pepper flakes, sugar, and salt. Mix thoroughly.  Keep leftovers in a dark, dry place.

Soak 2 cups of wood chips in water for 15 to 30 minutes.  Heat the smoker to 200F.

Pat the salmon dry and let it come to room temperature.  Coat the salmon thoroughly in the dry rub and place it skin-side down on the grates. Scatter the lemon slices over the flesh. Smoke for about 1 hour, or until the flesh flakes easily with a fork.  While the salmon smokes, prepare the buttermilk dressing.

Whisk together the yogurt, buttermilk, lemon juice, salt, and dill. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. 

Serve the salmon with the buttermilk on the side, or drizzled all over. It’s your call…

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Since we acquired the smoker back in December last year, we’ve made this recipe (with or without the buttermilk dressing) countless times.  We simply do not get tired of it. Often we will smoke two pieces, one we remove after 1 hour, and enjoy for dinner. The second piece we allow to smoke for one additional hour or even a little longer. That will be perfect to have over crackers with a bit of sour cream or cream cheese and capers. Or to make salmon rillettes. Or a smoked salmon quiche. Certain dogs love it too…

What makes the smoked salmon ‘fait maison’ so amazing is the texture. Simply cannot beat the texture. It melts in the mouth, and the smoky flavor is just perfect. Subtle. Delicious.

If you do not have a smoker, the closest approximation to this would be a method used by Jacques Pepin, in which you place the salmon on the dish it will be served and stick it in a very low-oven, 200F. You can check it out here. I would then make the same dry rub, but use smoked paprika instead.


Save a pin for later!

ONE YEAR AGO: Kouign-Amann, Fighting Fire with Fire

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, Yin and Yang

THREE YEARS AGO: Chocolate Toffee Banana Bread

FOUR YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, June 2014

FIVE YEARS AGO:  Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

SIX YEARS AGO: Baked Coconut and “The Brazilian Kitchen”

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Honey-Glazed Chicken Legs

EIGHT YEARS AGO: French-Style Rolls

 

 

 

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SOUP SATURDAY: SAY GOODBYE TO WINTER

Since it’s the third Saturday of the month, it’s time to enjoy the soup event organized by Wendy. This month yours truly is hosting, and I chose as my theme a farewell to the season that tortures me: Winter.  My apologies to those who like to shiver, who enjoy having to cover their feet, hands, ears and nose before heading outside, and don’t mind a heating bill in the triple digits at the end of the month.

We still have a few evenings here and there with ungodly cold temperatures, and for those evenings, a soup that warms body and soul is the best thing in the world. So I made it smokin’ hot. Literally. Remember my new toy  from last Christmas, the electric smoker? We’ve been using it a lot, I just did not have a chance to blog about it yet, but now it’s the perfect opportunity. I made a smoked tomato soup. Very simple in terms of number of ingredients, but incredibly flavorful due to the subtle applewood smoke component.

SMOKED TOMATO SOUP
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

10 large Roma tomatoes, halved
olive oil spray
salt and pepper
applewood chips for smoker
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 shallot, minced
zest and juice of one blood orange
1 cup of chicken stock
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Turn your smoker to 250 F and place a few applewood chips in the chamber, according to the instructions of your smoker.

Drizzle the tomatoes with a little spray of olive oil, and season lightly with salt. When the smoker reaches the right temperature, place the tomatoes, cut side down, on the tray. Close the chamber and allow them to smoke for 40 minutes. At the end of the smoking time, remove the skin, that should peel off easily.

In a large saucepan, saute the shallot and yellow bell pepper in olive oil, season lightly with salt and pepper. When soft and fragrant, add the zest of the blood orange add the tomatoes, breaking them up with a potato masher.  Simmer in medium heat for 5 minutes, add the chicken stock, cover the pan and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to a blender, blend until smooth. If you like a very smooth soup, pass through a sieve to remove the tomato seeds.  If too thick, add some chicken stock or water. Pour back into the pan, add blood orange juice, heavy cream, simmer a few minutes, and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Serve with a drizzle of blood orange juice on top.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Talk about flavor!  What we’ve learned so far from our adventures with the smoker is that you don’t need that many added spices, in fact, it is best to mellow down the spices, so that the smokiness can shine. Even when tomatoes are far from their peak, the brief encounter with the smoke intensifies their flavor quite a bit. Very nice. If you don’t have a smoker, I suppose grilling the tomatoes could do a good job too. In that case, add some smoked paprika to the soup, while you are sauteing the veggies. If blood oranges are not available where you live (here, let me offer you a hug), you can use regular oranges, and decorate the soup with a drizzle or cream or yogurt.

I cannot tell you how happy I am to be saying goodbye to winter!  If you’d like to see what my virtual friends made for our Soup Saturday event, click on the link at the end of the post. Stay warm!

ONE YEAR AGO: Manchego and Poblano Soup

TWO YEARS AGO: A Smashing Pair

THREE YEARS AGO: Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

FOUR YEARS AGO: Crispy Chickpea and Caper Spaghetti

FIVE YEARS AGO: Spring has Sprung!

SIX YEARS AGO: Chickpea and Fire Roasted Tomato Soup

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Double Asparagus Delight

EIGHT YEARS AGO:  Sun-dried Tomato and Feta Cheese Torte

 

 

 

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