It’s a weeknight, and you need dinner on the table. One solution: planning. One option is doing your preparation ahead of time, such as making your mirepoix and freezing it for dishes you can make throughout the week. Here, we use the prepared mirepoix to put the dish together on Sunday evening. Come home on Monday, and all one has to do is pop the skillet into the oven.
2 celery stalks
Dice each ingredient then toss together. Make more or less of the mixture in the same ration (2 onions to 1 celery to 1 carrot). Use immediately or place in a plastic bag and freeze to use as needed.
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1.5 cups mirepoix
10 fingerling potatoes, halved
Juice of one lemon
3 chicken quarters
Directions – The Night Before:
In a cast iron skillet, coat the bottom of the pan with the oil. Add the mirepox and spread evenly.
Toss the potatoes with salt and paprika, then place on top of the mirepoix.
Season the chicken with salt and sumac (approximately 2 tbsp over all three chicken quarters). Squeeze the lemon over the entire mxiture.
Place the chicken on top of the potatoes. Cover the skillet with foil then refrigerate.
Directions – Day of Cooking:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and let oven stand at 20 minutes at temperature. While preheating the oven, remove the skillet from the fridge to come to temperature.
Place skillet in oven and cook for approximately 55-60 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
A niçois salad can be controversial. Traditionalists swear it must only include raw vegetables. Modernists appreciate changes that were recommended in the late 19th century that added eggs and potatoes (cooked, of course). It is the one salad that nobody can seem to agree on.
This twist certainly is not traditional in some ways. It welcomes the history of the origins of a niçois, however, developed by peasants who could not afford much and focused on fresh regional vegetables available to them and the tuna and anchovies available in the nearby seaports. This takes that same approach.
Moving to Austin and having access to abundant and fresh southwest flavors, we’ve incorporated the regional aspect of the origins of the salad. Here, instead of vinegar and olive oil, we replace it with a salsa verde with tangy tomatillios, spicy jalapenos, and zesty limes.
Ingredients for tomatillo sauce:
1.5 pounds tomatillos, paper and stems removed
1 jalapeno, stem removed
1 red onion, peeled and stems removed, chopped
1 avocado, pit and skins removed
2 tsp cumin
½ tsp salt
Zest and juice of two limes
Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. If you wish for a less spicy salsa verde, seed the jalapeno prior to blending.
Put in a container and put in fridge for at least an hour so flavors meld.
Ingredients for guacamole:
1 avocado, pit and skin removed
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
½ tsp cumin
Juice of one lime
¼ tsp salt
Prior to plating, mash all ingredients using a mortar and pestle or the back of a fork.
1 can of tuna, drained
Zest and juice of one lime
¼ tsp of salt
Mix all ingredients together.
Take one radish and slice thinly. Using a ring mold, first put the guacamole for the first layer in the middle of a plate. Next, pack the tuna mixture tightly. Arrange the radish in a layer. Place in fridge for approximately 5 minutes.
Remove plate from fridge and add a teaspoon on top of the layers, removing the ring mold carefully. Spoon salsa verde in a circle around the plate and serve immediately.
We are back after a couple weeks of delay with some exciting news. I am officially moved into an apartment in Austin to continue my culinary knowledge and journey with an exploration of flavors. Before I left my fiance, however, to come to this brave new world of flavor, I prepared a dish that combined two of our favorite cuisines together: Indian food and Italian food.
Not a combination you see every day, true, but this vegetable korma risotto led to no leftovers. The spiciness of the East Asian flavors coupled with the saltiness of Parmesan in the risotto led for a decadent dish full of flavor. Want to go vegan? Sub out the risotto with some regular rice for a more classic pairing!
Vegetable Korma Risotto
For the Korma:
2 tbsp vegetable oil
5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp ginger, minced
1 28 oz. canned tomatoes, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
3 yellow potatoes, diced
12 oz cauliflower (either frozen or 1 head, trimmed and cut)
12 oz broccoli (either frozen or 1 head, trimmed and cut)
salt to taste
2 tbsp turmeric, ground
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
In a blender, blend the tomatoes, garlic and ginger. Set aside.
In a large pot, heat vegetable oil over medium high heat. Once oil is hot, add onions and carrots and a pinch of salt. Cook until translucent, approximately 5 minutes.
Add jalapenos and cook until fragrant, approximately 30 to 60 more seconds, stirring.
Add potatoes, cauliflower, and broccoli. Cook approximately 8-10 minutes, stirring, until potatoes are seared.
Add puree mixture and remaining ingredients, scrapping bottom of pot as it is de-glazed. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.
Cook, covered, until vegetables are tender, approximately 30-45 minutes depending on range. Adjust seasonings and serve.
For the Risotto:
1 cup short grained rice, like Arborio
6 cups good quality vegetable stock
1 onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup Parmasean, grated
Salt to taste
In a sauce pot, bring the stock to a simmer and keep it at a low simmer during the cooking process.
In a large pan, heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium high heat. Add the onion with a pinch of salt, and cook until translucent approximately 5-6 minutes. Add the rice, and cook another 1-2 minutes, stirring, until well coated with the onions and oils and beginning to toast.
Add approximately 1 cup of the hot stock to the pan, de-glazing it, and stirring frequently.
When the liquid is mostly absorbed by the rice, add another ladle of stock, continuing to stir frequently. Keep repeating this until the rice is cooked through and is al dente with a slight bite.
Stir in the cheese until incorporated and melted. The mixture will be thick. Taste and adjust salt as desired. Serve with the Korma above.
My dad’s birthday was a couple of weeks’ ago (Happy Birthday, dad!), and what better way to celebrate a summer birthday by grilling up a storm. We made a number of dishes, but the favorites may surprise you: grilled portabellas and cauliflower, and grilled whole fish.
While a rib eye maintained its well earned love by my mother and me, my father prefers lighter meats, such as fish, and has a passion for vegetables without rival. To be sure, between the tender flesh of the branzini and the smokey, melt-in-your-mouth mushrooms, nobody will miss red meat if you decide to just go with those items for your next cook out and ahead of the Fourth.
Chili Spiced Portabella Caps
4 portabella caps, stems removed (reserve these for another use such as making vegetable stocks, or dicing and sauteing them as a topping for a burger).
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
Mix all ingredients except the mushrooms together in a bowl to make a thick paste – add more vegetable oil if needed.
Slather the mushrooms evenly with the paste, and place in a plastic bag up to overnight so that they absorb the flavors.
When ready to cook, on a hot, well-oiled grill, over direct heat, cook the mushrooms for approximately 3 minutes per side, trying to flip the mushroom as infrequently as possible as the flames allow.
Serve immediately – if desired, squeeze some lime juice on top before serving.
Grilled Whole Branzini
2 whole branzini – ask your fishmonger to clean and gut these for you.
2 lemons, sliced
1 bunch of cilantro, trimmed and cleaned
1 tsp salt, divided
1 tsp pepper, divided,
1 tbsp cumin, divided
2 teaspoon chili powder, divided
Several hours before you wish to grill, take the whole branzini and rinse them under cold water, making sure the fishmonger did not leave any remnants of unpleasantness in them and that the fish is entirely de-scaled. If not, de-scale the fish by running the back of a knife against the fish to get any missed scales.
Make sure you have everything prepped ahead of time. Squeeze some vegetable oil throughout the fish (we did this previously out of video).
With your CLEAN hand, sprinkle the seasonings evenly among both fish and the cavities of both fish. Stuff the fish with lemon slices and cilantro sprigs – as many as you can fit without the herbs and fruit spilling out.
Wrap butcher’s twine around the fish to keep everything inside of it. Place covered in fridge until ready to grill and up to overnight.
When grilling, make sure you oil the fish (again) very liberally, that the grill is very well oiled, and that you are working on high, direct heat. This will all prevent the fish from sticking. Grill for approximately 4-5 minutes on each side. The fish should not stick when you flip it over if it is cooked and you’ve done all these steps. If you do not feel like dealing with risk of a sticky fish, use a cedar or other wood plank pursuant to their directions and cook the fish on top of that. This will take longer but will still be delicious.
Remove the fish and serve with a squeeze of lemon. Remember to be wary of bones!