Category Archives: Bentosh

Southwesterly Salad

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If you buy a cooked rotisserie chicken or cooked chicken breasts, then this is a no heat in the summer salad. Even if you bake the chicken breasts like I do, it’s a low mess recipe and perfect for tiny kitchens. When I bake the chicken breasts, I dust them with a little salt, pepper, and smoked paprika.

Dressing:
• Small plain Greek yogurt (usually around 5 ounces)
• Juice of one lime
• Quarter cup or so of olive oil
• Two tablespoons of minced cilantro
• Half teaspoon each of cumin and garlic powder
• Salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Salad:
• Around two-thirds a cup of cubed chicken per person
• Around two cups roughly cut romaine lettuce per person
• Around a quarter of an avocado per person
• Sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, red peppers and red onion

As always everything can vary. The chicken could be turkey, or maybe smoked turkey, maybe scallions instead of red onions…corn kernels…the leftover fried onions from Thanksgiving….a hit of Ancho chili peppers or Siracha in the dressing…

Copyright © 2016 MRStrauss • All rights reserved

Horiatki with Pasta

Greek Pasta 2

This is always my first ‘welcome to summer’ recipe. Although tomatoes won’t be in around where I live until July, they are not the star here so I don’t mind using those Kumato ones. This is a definite tiny kitchen recipe: just one pot for the pasta.

Pasta options: After trying penne and some sort of short ziti, I’ve settled on conchiglie. You could try bow ties or rotelle; there’s probably a lot of fun pastas that would work here.

Other options: You could add some oregano or maybe some sliced Pepperoncini.

Time note: I usually mange to get everything chopped and ready to go by the time the pasta is ready.

For this four person version, you’ll need:
• One pound conchiglie pasta
• Half cup of mayonnaise
• Quarter cup of white wine or rice wine vinegar
• Half cup of good tasting olive oil
• One to four or more cloves of garlic
• Four or five Kumato tomatoes
• Around eight or ten Kalamata olives
• Half a small red onion
• One cucumber
• A handful of parsley
• Around three ounces or more of crumbled feta
• Fresh cracked pepper
• Sea salt flakes

Get the pasta water going; add salt if you want.

Then get a big bowl, big enough to hold all the pasta and the rest of the stuff. I have three white mixing bowls that nest together, I use the largest one.

In a two cup Pyrex measuring cup, add the mayonnaise. Slowly add the vinegar while stirring, then slowly add the olive oil while stirring. Run as many cloves of garlic as you like through the garlic press ( I used four big ones) and add to the mixture. Add pepper to taste. Set aside.

Cut the tomatoes into a small dice. Put them in the bowl and sprinkle with sea salt flakes. Cut the olives into a small dice and add this to the mayonnaise mixture. Next cut the red onion into a small dice and add this to the mayonnaise mixture. Skin the cucumber and cut it in half; with a spoon, remove the seeds, then slice into strips and cut into a medium dice. Put these in the bowl around the tomatoes. Finely chop the parsley and add it to the bowl.

When your pasta is done, run it under cold water to cool it. Once it’s cooled, add it to the bowl and mix together. Then add the mayonnaise mixture and combine, and then add the feta and mix until just combined.

Put in your bowls and serve with? In my house it’s water with lemon.

Notes: For olive oil, I use Columela— it has a sort of spicy flavor, for sea salt flakes, I use Maldon, and for pepper, I use the Tellicherry variety. I use table salt for anything mixed in or cooked and save the sea salt flakes for finishing or roasting. Using these ingredients adds a little extra flavor to the dish and they’re getting much easier to find now.

Copyright © 2016 MRStrauss • All rights reserved

Hoisin Tsukune Bentosh

Futon

If my mother saw me eating this, she would scream. When I was a kid, none of my food could touch. Sometimes we would have Swanson’s TV dinners and one section would invade the other; she would have to cut all of the mixed stuff out. And even then, I wasn’t happy because the molecules had been in contact. This was one of the first bowls I did. It was originally a bento box and I wondered how it would taste together. I was super surprised that I liked the combination, especially the rice and the cabbage salad. This is another recipe that can work in a tiny kitchen: you only need one burner —or a rice cooker—and a toaster oven for the meatballs.

Meatball options: I have been using ground chicken breast. I seem to like the kind of mild flavor here, but you could really use any kind of ground meat— pork, turkey, even tofu. I’m also thinking about swapping out the scallions for chives or chopped spinach.

Rice options: I used basmati when I took the picture because I’m trying to use up a ridiculously enormous bag I bought at an Indian market. I usually make it with short grain sushi rice, but I would really be happy with any rice— even brown rice. I also think quinoa would be a good option.

Cabbage salad options: This can really be anything. I used savoy and red cabbage, but green cabbage or napa or any cabbage you want will work. I have been adding carrot and scallions, but you could really use a lot of different things: peppers, radish, what else? kale?

Sauce options: You can use store bought hoisin sauce to coat the meatballs if you have one you like. I used to have one I liked, but it disappeared, so now I make one that is a little more tomatoey than most traditional ones. You could also add peppers or Sriracha to the sauce to take heat level up.

Time note: The meatballs take me around 10-15 minutes to make and then 25-30 minutes in the oven. Everything else comes together while the meatballs cook— unless you use a rice cooker, in which case the rice can take around 50 minutes.

For this four person version you’ll need:
• Around a pound to a pound and a third of ground chicken breast
• Two cups short grain white sushi rice
• Half cup or so of Panko
• One large egg
• Tablespoon or so of grated ginger
• Eight scallions
• One to four or more garlic cloves, depending on taste
• Toasted sesame seeds
• Four cups finely shredded Napa cabbage
• One cup finely shredded red cabbage
• One large carrot grated
• Rice Vinegar (around a half cup, plus two tablespoons)
• Two tablespoons of toasted sesame oil
• Half a cup of ketchup or chili sauce
• Quarter cup of soy sauce
• Two tablespoons of brown sugar or honey
• Two tablespoons of rice vinegar
• Two tablespoons of orange juice (if you have it around)
• Around a tablespoon of canola oil if cooking rice in pot

Cooking equipment I used:
13×18 sheet pan for meatballs (or toaster oven pan)
Pot for rice—I used a 3 quart saucepan, or rice cooker

Get the oven going at 400º F and then start on the meatballs— unless you’re using a rice cooker, then get the rice going first. In a large bowl, beat the egg. Finely mince three scallions (white to light green parts) mince or run through the garlic press one to four cloves of garlic depending on taste (I used four) and mince or grate a tablespoon or so of ginger. Add all of this plus a half cup of Panko to the egg. Now I get my sheet pan out and put it next to the bowl. Add the ground chicken and mix everything together. I usually make the meatballs around two inches diameter, giving me around fourteen meatballs. They’ll spend about 30 minutes in the oven to get brown.

If you’re doing the rice on the stove top, get the pot going on high and mix one tablespoon of canola oil and two cups of rice in the pot stirring for a minute to coat the grains before adding three cups of water. Bring to a boil and then cook on low for 20 minutes.

Now get the cabbage salad ready. Finely shred (I used a little hand-held mandolin) around four cups of Savoy cabbage, put in a large bowl, and coat with around a half cup of rice vinegar. Finely shred around cup of red cabbage and add that, then grate a large carrot and add that, then finely slice three scallions (white and light green parts) and add that, tossing after each addition. Then finely slice the two remains scallions on a diagonal and set aside to garnish. Toss in two tablespoons of toasted sesame oil. Set the salad aside but keep tossing it every few minutes while you make the sauce, tasting once or twice to see if it needs something more. Sometimes I add a little sugar, sometimes I add some red pepper flakes.

I usually make the sauce in a two cup Pyrex measuring cup. Combine two tablespoons of brown sugar or honey with two tablespoons of rice vinegar to dissolve and then add around a half cup of ketchup or chili sauce, around a quarter cup soy sauce, and around two tablespoons of orange juice (I only add this if I have it around). Taste it to see if you want to add more soy sauce or whatever.

By now the meatballs should be done. In a bowl, toss the meatballs until coated with however much sauce you want. Then you can layer the rice, cabbage salad, meatballs and top with scallions and toasted sesame seeds. I try to pause for a moment her to appreciate how cool it looks before I dig in.

Copyright © 2016 MRStrauss • All rights reserved

Polpetta Bentosh

Italian Meatball (1 of 1)

I never thought I would like meatballs with lemon in them, but over the years I kept seeing recipes putting lemon in meatballs, so I thought I would give it a try. Now I hardly ever make any of my four standard meatball recipes— recipes that took many moons to perfect. The lemon also goes really well with spinach and probably other greens too. I’ve been alternating between two sauces: one is Marcella Hazan’s classic with the onion and butter— which I won’t put here since it’s easy to look up— and the other is a kind of basic sauce with a little wine kick. These meatballs are all beef, but you can make them with a combination of beef, veal, and pork, or you can make them with ground chicken or turkey. I’m using 90% organic grass-fed beef because I think it has the most tender texture and a really clean beef flavor. I also usually make this with gemelli pasta but I could only find strozzapreti. Really any pasta could work here.

Put a rack in the upper third and get the oven going at 400º. Line your sheet pan with parchment or foil if needed. I like this recipe best when I make a panade of a large slice of crusty Tuscan or Italian bread in milk. If you want to do this, you need to get this going first. In a small bowl, break the bread into small pieces and add about a half cup of milk and then use a fork to kind of smush the bread and milk together; you’ll need to keep coming back and smushing it while you work on the other stuff. You may need to add more milk. If you don’t want to use bread, you can use a half cup of panko or bread crumbs or even eight smashed-up saltines. You can soak these in milk or just add to the rest of the mix. In a large bowl, beat up one egg. To this you add around a tablespoon of lemon zest, around a tablespoon of lemon juice, a teaspoon of crushed rosemary, finely chopped or pressed garlic (I ran four cloves through the garlic press last time I made this so you may want to start with one), and around a teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Now add the bread mixture or crumbs and the meat and mix everything together. I usually have the baking sheet next to the bowl. Now you can make the meatballs. I have been making them a medium size, around two inches. Once you have them done put them in the oven. They’ll take around twenty, twenty-five, maybe thirty minutes to get nice and brown. Set your bowls on the stove to warm.

Next up is the sauce. As I mentioned before, I’ve been alternating between Marcella Hazan’s classic sauce and this basic one. In a large saute pan (you’ll need room to put the meatballs in later) add a few tablespoons of good-tasting olive oil and get that warming while you finely chop a small yellow onion or half of a large one and add to the oil. Turn the heat up to kind of sizzle but not brown the onions. Add a teaspoon of salt. Finely chop or put through the press however many cloves of garlic you want (I used four again). Add the garlic to the onions and saute until the onions are sort of translucent. Now deglaze the pan with a half cup of red wine and let it reduce to about half. Now add one 28oz can of crushed tomatoes. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. You can taste it now and see if it needs more salt or some pepper. If you think you want more sauce, you can add a 14.5oz can of tomato sauce. Let this kind of simmer/bubble. When the meatballs are done, add them to the sauce.

There’s a little bit of a lag here depending on how you want to do this. I like to let the sauce simmer for another fifteen, twenty minutes after I put the meatballs in, so I usually don’t start the pasta water until the meatballs go in the sauce. I use the time to clean up the prep area or go through the mail, whatever. So depending on your timing— gemelli takes about 12-13 minutes— get your pasta water started, salting it if you want, and get out the colander. Also get the spinach out— I use an 8oz container of fresh baby spinach. You could try kale or Swiss chard; they may need an extra minute. When the pasta is three minutes from finished, add the spinach, mixing it with the pasta as it wilts. You could probably add the spinach to the sauce— and I may try that— my worry was it would make the sauce taste bitter.

Once the pasta and spinach are drained, it’s ready. You can top with some Parmesan or Romano or both. A friend mentioned maybe goat cheese or feta. I’ll have to warm up to that idea a little bit. I guess fresh basil too— that wouldn’t clash with the spinach, would it? I’ve been garnishing it with a few fresh spinach leaves.

For this four person version, you’ll need:
• Around a pound and a third of 90% lean organic grass-fed beef
• One pound of gemelli pasta
• Large slice of Tuscan or Italian bread or baguette
• A half cup or so of whole milk
• One large egg
• One lemon
• Garlic cloves (I used four in the meatballs and four in the sauce)
• Salt & pepper
• Olive oil
• Small yellow onion
• Half cup of red wine
• 28oz can of crushed tomatoes (I used Muir Glen Organic)
• 8oz baby spinach (or other greens)
Optional: fresh cracked pepper, Parmesan or Romano

Cooking equipment I used:
• Saute pan (I used a 6qt All-Clad lidded pan)
• 13×18 sheet pan for meatballs
• 7 qt. stock pot for pasta and spinach

Notes:
For olive oil, I use Columela or Nunez de Prado— it has a sort of spicy flavor and for pepper, I use the Tellicherry variety. I also use grass-fed organic beef all the time now— the flavor, and especially the texture, are better I think.

Copyright © 2016 MRStrauss • All rights reserved

Yucatán Bentosh

This inspired take on the traditional rice bowl comes from a trip to the Yucatán peninsula. After discovering these bright pink pickled onions (escabeche de cebolla) in Mérida, I needed a place for them. As with all my recipes, the ingredients here can vary— here, I’ve used ground beef. But it is just as good with shredded spiced chicken or beef, or beans. If you’ve got the time, you could even take this to the next level with Mayan style Cochinita Pibil, which is another dish I first had in Mérida. Cochinita Pibil is like pulled pork, but with a kick from sour orange juice instead of vinegar. There’s a good recipe for this on rickbayless.com.

Work on the onions first because they need time to cool; you can also make them early in the day or days in advance. Thinly slice or roughly chop one medium size red onion and boil covered in water for two minutes or so, until they soften. Don’t worry when you see their color fade. Drain the onions, place in a bowl big enough for them, and cover with white vinegar. Now the magic will happen: they’ll start turning bright pink.

Get a pot out for the rice. Here, I am making around five cups cooked, I think. Add some oil to the pot, I use about a tablespoon of olive or canola oil, and a teaspoon of salt. You can set this on low while your finely chop a half of a yellow onion. Saute the onion until it’s kind of soft. While this is going on, finely dice a medium size tomato or two small ones, or half a ginormous one. When the onion is done, add about a teaspoon each of cumin and chili powder and let that warm up a bit. Add the tomato and saute for a minute. Stir in two cups of rice— I’ve been using Jasmine rice here—and three cups of water and bring to a boil; then cover and set on low for seventeen minutes. This is the perfect rice timing I got from one of my first cookbooks, a ‘learn to cook’ cookbook by Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey, but once I accidentally just turned the burner off and it sat for the seventeen minutes on its own heat and it was fine. Who knows, every time I think something is a ‘must,’ I find it may not be so. But the general rule is a cup and a half of water for every cup of rice and seventeenish minutes. You could also make cilantro lime rice. Or you could also use Near East Rice Pilaf Spanish Rice to cut down on prep time; two boxes would equal about what I have here. Put the bowls on the stove to warm up.

Once the rice is on its own, start browning your ground beef while you chop one yellow onion and a few cloves of garlic. Add the onions and garlic to the meat and brown everything up a bit before adding around a tablespoon of chili powder and a teaspoon of cumin. Give the spices a minute to bloom before adding a 14.5 (why isn’t it 15 ounces?) can of diced tomatoes and their juice. Bring to a boil and then let this simmer while you get the toppings ready. I stir it every few minutes; sometimes I need to add a little water. Toppings can be a lot of things here: any kind of lettuce, chopped tomatoes, roasted tomatoes, any kind of salsa, cilantro leaves, sliced jalapeno peppers, roasted peppers, shredded cheese, gosh what else? Don’t forget the pickled onions. I’m sure there’s other stuff. Oh, lime quarters (maybe not with the pickled onions). Avocado. Beans too. I’m allergic to legumes so I can’t really recommend what kind, but they could be in addition to or instead of the meat. Margaritas and mojitos pair well with this. Duh. But Mexican Coke in the green bottle is awesome. Wait! Horchata! That would be most awesome.

For this four person version, you’ll need:
• Ground beef (a pound or so)
• One red onion (medium size or however much pickled onion you want)
• Two small/medium yellow onions (one for the rice, one for the beef)
• Medium tomato for the rice
• Two cups Jasmine rice
• Cumin
• Chili powder
• Garlic (two or three cloves should be good)
• Diced tomatoes (14.5oz can)
• Iceberg lettuce (to me, iceberg tastes the best here since it is cool and kind of sweet)
• Cilantro leaves (I pluck the leaves unless the stems are really tender)
• Cheddar Cheese
• White vinegar (around a cup)
• Salt
• Olive or canola oil

Equipment I used:
• Three quart saucepan for the rice
• Twelve inch frying pan for the meat
• One quart saucepan for the onions
• Glass bowl with lid for marinating the onions

Notes: I’m starting to buy some different chili powders. Just like olive oil, there are a lot of different flavor notes in them: different kinds of smoky, some have citrus flavors, and others are almost sweet, some are H-O-T. I find them in local Hispanic markets, where I also see a lot of whole dried peppers. I haven’t advanced to grinding my own, but one day I’ll probably give that a try just to see if it makes a difference. Whole Foods has some different ones now. I use grass-fed ground beef all the time now. In this dish, you can’t really taste the difference, but you can appreciate the tender texture of the grass-fed beef. I also want to try cotija or queso blanco. I’ve made this with jack cheese, but I wasn’t crazy about the flavor.

Copyright © 2015 MRStrauss • All rights reserved

 

Tamagoyaki Bentosh

Egg 3

Searching for a simple way to bring eggs to the dinner table led me to this loose version of the Japanese rolled omelette. I was looking for something a step up from scrambled— although warm, creamy, and topped with herbs, they are sublime—and not quite as heavy as a frittata, or as ethereal as a souffle. And simple— everything goes in the oven and then into a bowl. The eggs here come out very tender.

Arrange the shelves in the oven so one is just below the center and one above with enough room on the center shelf for the baking dish with the eggs. Get the oven going at 375º. Put as many potato cubes—I use Yukon Gold—yellow onions and red pepper as you want in a bowl. I have been cutting everything into cubes somewhere around a half inch, but larger or smaller would work fine just the timing would be a little different. You can also add other root vegetables, like carrots or parsnips, different onions, any color of peppers— I think I will try orange peppers next time. Toss the vegetables in some good-tasting olive oil—or oil of your choice— and spread out on your baking sheet. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. Put in the oven on the top rack so it can get started. The potatoes will take around 45 minutes including browning. Set the bowls on the stove to warm. There’s a bit of time here; I usually get the stuff for the eggs out and catch up on some reading.

Grease some sort of pan or oven-proof dish that is around 10×15 with butter and line with parchment paper. I use a Pyrex baking dish and I usually cut one piece of parchment about ten inches by twenty-three or four inches so it hangs down the sides. This will help you roll the omelette. In a large bowl, whisk together one cup of whole milk— soy or almond milk may work here but I’m allergic to them so I can’t say— with a quarter cup of flour by adding the milk slowly to the flour until it is blended. I used basic all-purpose flour but I’m sure other flours, such as rice flour, would work as well. Add six large eggs, a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, and around half a teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Whisk everything together. Pour the egg mixture into the parchment lined baking dish. When the potatoes have been in around 30 to 35 minutes, place the eggs on the middle rack. This will go for ten to thirteen minutes or so depending on how runny or firm you want your eggs to be. While the eggs are cooking, finely chop a bunch or handful of chives and then a similar amount of parsley. Shred the cheddar cheese if using.

When the eggs are ready, take them out and put the oven on broil to finish the potatoes. Here too it depends on your taste, I like to get them browned to the point where another thirty seconds or so and they would be ashes. And sometimes they do get burnt when you play it close like that. While this is happening, sprinkle the hot eggs with most of the chopped chives and grated cheddar cheese. Then you can lift the parchment up on one end to help you start to roll it. Don’t worry if it’s not tight enough— you can just re-roll it or leave it loose. Wrap the parchment around the roll to hold it together and let it rest. When the potatoes are ready, put some in each bowl and top with parsley. Then remove the parchment and slice of the egg like you would a jelly roll, put the egg on top of the potatoes and top with remaining chives; you can add other toppings if you want: more cheese, scallions, sriracha, ketchup, anything you can think of. If you have a bunch of people, you can put toppings out for folks to choose.

For this four person version, you’ll need:
• Six large or extra large eggs (organic ones usually have better color and flavor)
• Tablespoon of butter for gracing baking dish
• One cup of whole milk
• One quarter cup of all-purpose flour
• One tablespoon Dijon mustard
• Six or eight or so Yukon Gold potatoes (depending on size)
• One large yellow onion
• One large red pepper
• A half cup of parsley leaves (I don’t like the stems, so I pluck the leaves)
• Enough chives to make around a quater cup finely chopped
• Around a half cup shredded/grated cheddar cheese
• Salt, ground pepper, olive or canola oil
Optional: sea salt flakes, fresh cracked pepper

Cooking equipment I used:
• 10×15 Pyrex baking dish
• Parchment paper
• 13×18 sheet pan for the potatoes (I use a non-stick one)

Notes:
For olive oil, I use Columela— it has a sort of spicy flavor, for sea salt flakes, I use Maldon, and for pepper, I use the Tellicherry variety. I use table salt for anything mixed in or cooked and save the sea salt flakes for finishing or roasting. Using these ingredients adds a little extra flavor to the dish and they’re getting much easier to find now.

Copyright © 2015 MRStrauss • All rights reserved

Winter Chicken Bentosh

Possibly not for the dedicated locavore, but I found this a good way to bring tomatoes to the table in winter— as the little ones taste the same to me in any season. This is a light, cheery, and to me, easy to make warming winter meal.

Arrange the shelves in the oven to make room for the baking dish with the chicken and the baking pan with the tomatoes to go in together— I put the chicken just below the middle and the tomatoes and garlic just above the middle. Get the oven going at 400°. Put as many cherry tomatoes and peeled garlic cloves as you want in a bowl. Toss with a little good-tasting olive oil, spread this out on a baking sheet and sprinkle with some sea salt flakes. Place the chicken breasts in a baking dish and sprinkle with salt and fresh cracked pepper. If the baking dish doesn’t have a lid, cover with foil; I use an 11 cup Anchor Hocking baking dish with a glass lid which is good for up to four not too big chicken breasts. Put everything in the oven and pour yourself a glass of something. The tomatoes will take around 30 minutes to shrivel up and get some brown spots. I usually just leave the chicken in until everything is done, but you can test it around 20 minutes; if it looks cooked through when you pierce it with a knife or the instant read thermometer says it’s 165º, it’s done. You can take it out and let stay warm on the stove.

While you’re sipping and the tomatoes are roasting, start a pot for your orzo and bring it to a boil; salt the water if you wish. Orzo usually takes 10 minutes, so try to plot for it to be done when the chicken and tomatoes come out. While you’re waiting, finely chop some parsley for the orzo, drain a few spoonfuls of capers, and have some lemon wedges ready— I take out any pips that I can see. Oh, and you can set your bowls on the stove to let them warm up a bit.

When the tomatoes and garlic are shriveled up and brown in spots, it’s ready. Drain the orzo and put it back in the pot; drizzle with some olive oil and fold in the parsley and maybe some salt. Take the chicken and tomatoes out of the oven and slice or dice the chicken in the baking dish or on a cutting board. Now it comes together: every bowl gets some orzo, a few slices of chicken, tomatoes and garlic. Then I finish the dish with a few capers and a splash of lemon juice, but it tastes just as good without— the roasted tomatoes are the star of the show here. This might work with fish, maybe tilapia dredged and pan fried. The orzo could be any small pasta (little shells with fish could be nice) or even rice, quinoa, or couscous.

For this four person version, you’ll need:
• Four small chicken breasts (I find that the organic, air-chilled ones are the most tender)
• Two pints of cherry tomatoes
• One or two heads of garlic
• Two cups of orzo
• One cup of parsley leaves (I don’t like the stems, so I pluck the leaves)
• One lemon
• Two tablespoons of capers
• Salt, ground pepper, olive oil
Optional: sea salt flakes, fresh cracked pepper

Cooking equipment I used:
• Anchor Hocking 11 cup covered baking dish or 9×13 baking dish with foil to cover
• 13×18 sheet pan for the tomatoes and garlic
• Three quart or larger saucepan for the orzo

Notes:
For olive oil, I use Columela— it has a sort of spicy flavor, for sea salt flakes, I use Maldon, and for pepper, I use the Tellicherry variety. I use table salt for anything mixed in or cooked and save the sea salt flakes for finishing or roasting. Using these ingredients adds a little extra flavor to the dish and they’re getting much easier to find now. I’m wondering about the salt packed capers I see popping up, but they are super expensive. I guess I should try them. This dish could also work with quinoa or maybe even white rice.

Update February 2016: I made this with quinoa instead of orzo and I like it just a much.

Copyright © 2015 MRStrauss • All rights reserved

Summer Sole Bentosh

Sole

I love how bright tasting this is. I’ve made it with both orzo and quinoa and both are equally good. I was originally going to make this with tilapia but decided to get sole instead. This turned out to be a good thing. The sole is so thin, I decided to roll it up and that worked really well here. Although there is some preparation involved with the vegetables, overall the dish keeps the simplicity I was looking for.

Get the oven going at 400°. Rinse and dry the sole. On a baking sheet with parchment paper if needed, brush the fish with olive oil and sprinkle with fresh cracked pepper and sea salt flakes; then roll the fish and repeat with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place in the oven when everything else seven or so minutes from finishing. You can top the fish with some toasted panko at the end if you like some crunch. Actually, it’s your fish, so you can put whatever you want on it. I have a nut allergy so I can’t tell you if chopped nuts are a possibility here.

Get a pot of water going for the orzo or prepare quinoa or couscous according to how you like to make it. Then work on the sauce so it can have a little time for the flavors to come together. In a food processor or with a mortar and pestle or on the cutting board: about two cups of parsley with lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and garlic— to the taste and quantity you want. I use the zest and juice of one lemon to be economical and as many a four cloves of garlic because I love garlic. I wonder if basil would work instead of the parsley; I think I’ll try that try that now that my basil plants are getting too big. I may also try adding some tarragon with the parsley.

Then set to work on your vegetables. I like carrots, broccoli, and yellow squash. I cut the carrots and squash into thin half-moons and the broccoli into small half-crowns (you can save the stems for slaw). Then saute in a little olive oil, salt, adding a clove or two or four of crushed garlic at the end. I put the carrots in first for a minute or so, then the broccoli, and then the squash. You could also boil the vegetables in with the orzo by adding the carrots the last four minutes and the broccoli and squash for the last three to two depending on the thickness. I also want to try adding some red pepper; maybe taking out the carrots or the squash. If there’s still some asparagus around, that would be good here too. Lots of things could be really good here. Once the orzo is in and the vegetables are sauteing, the fish can have its turn. The fish is ready when an instant read thermometer says 145º or when a fork or knife can easily go through the thickest part. Do I need to say ‘drain the orzo’?

Then it all comes together in a filling little bowl. I’m thinking next time I’ll give the finished bowls an extra splash of lemon and dash of sea salt flakes before it hits the table.

For this four person version, you’ll need:
• Two medium or one large filet of sole for each person (cut large ones in half)
• Two cups of orzo
• Two crowns of broccoli
• Three carrots
• One or two yellow squash (depending on size)
• Garlic (two to four cloves or more for the vegetables and sauce )
• One lemon
• Two cups of parsley leaves (I don’t like the stems, so I pluck the leaves)
• Salt, ground pepper, olive oil
Optional: sea salt flakes, fresh cracked pepper

Equipment I used:
• Frying pan for vegetables (I used a 12″ pan)
• 13×18 sheet pan lined with parchment for the fish
• Three quart or larger saucepan for the orzo

Notes:
For olive oil, I use Columela— it has a sort of spicy flavor, for sea salt flakes, I use Maldon, and for pepper, I use the Tellicherry variety. I use table salt for anything mixed in or cooked and save the sea salt flakes for finishing or roasting. Using these ingredients adds a little extra flavor to the dish and they’re getting much easier to find now.

Update September 2015: I also like Nuñez de Prado, another ‘spicy’ olive oil. I also made this with tilapia, but I wasn’t crazy about it. I’m sure there are other mild white fish that will work here, so I’ll keep an eye out. I also want to try couscous as the base.

Copyright © 2014 MRStrauss • All rights reserved

Spring Salmon Bentosh

Better Salmon (1 of 1)

The only part of this recipe where measure matters is for the rice and even there I have not found the need to be too precise. Perfect rice is perfect for you: add more water, less water, more salt, oil, a bay leaf, a chopped onion. In time, you’ll have a lot of perfect rice. I like baked brown rice— it comes out with a little more bite left to it. This also works well if you are roasting the asparagus since you can make double use of the heat your oven worked hard to get. Everything else is subject to the whims of whoever is making it. I do try to make extra rice since it is so useful for so many things— even plain for a quick snack. But sometimes everyone is really hungry and the only thing left is a small prize of rice scrapings for whoever is cleaning the dishes. You could also make this with quinoa, couscous, or some sort of small pasta.

If I am using medium to thick asparagus, I roast them. These seem to really like being roasted and will thank you with a smoky sweet flavor. I cut them into bite-size pieces, discarding any hard ends, toss them with olive oil and flaked sea salt and spread them out on a baking sheet in a single layer, giving them a little space. If I have the thin asparagus, I trim their woody ends,  leave them whole and drop them into boiling, salted water for two minutes at most and then run them under a bit of cold water and onto a kitchen towel. Then they would be strong enough to merrily jut out of the bowl and you could eat them by hand, dipping them in the sauce as you go. It’s always fun to use your fingers.

I have been seeking out wild Sockeye, King, or Coho salmon because they have the deepest color. I’m not sure what goes on with farmed salmon, but they look like I do after a long winter—pale. Some even have natural color added. Something added is never natural. What color was it before? I would rather have a smaller piece of a salmon that lived the salmon life. And here you don’t need a big piece.

Start with the baked brown rice. Make sure there is room in the oven for the rice (I bake this in a 11 cup square covered Anchor Hocking baking dish) and the baking sheet of asparagus. Get the oven going at 375°. This is my big, hoping for leftovers portion, but you can cut it in half or thirds: 2 1/4 cups medium grain brown rice, 3/4 teaspoon table salt, 3 1/3 cups water, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 9 x 13 glass baking dish with foil to cover or a similar capacity glass baking dish with a glass lid. This will spare the foil. Bring water to a boil in a pot or microwave in a four cup Pyrex measuring cup or other microwave safe bowl. In baking dish combine rice and salt. When water is boiling, add it to the rice. Stir in the olive oil and cover. Bake for about an hour. Put the bowls on the stove to warm up.

Once the rice is in, cut up the asparagus. I usually cut them on the bias just because I like the way they look and it doesn’t take any more time here. Discard (or compost) any really woody ends. Toss with a little olive oil and flaked sea salt. Spread on a baking sheet and put them in the oven with the rice for the last half hour. When you take the rice out, move them up to the top rack and broil for a few minutes to get some nice brown spots going.

After the asparagus goes in, make the sauce. Mix the greek yogurt or any plain yogurt you like or have around, or even mayonnaise, with a handfuls of fresh minced chives and parsley. You can also try adding mint. Or maybe some tarragon could work. Squeeze in enough lemon juice to get the taste and consistency you like and add a dash of salt and a little fresh ground pepper. Set it aside to let the flavor come together.

When the rice is about ten or so minutes from done, set a pan or a griddle on the stove and let it get good and hot. Prepare your salmon: rinse, dry, remove any bones, season with a little table salt and ground or fresh cracked pepper. Sear the flesh side first, turning after it releases from the pan and has a little crust to it. I don’t find that I need any oil here, I just have to wait for the pan to let it go after a few minutes. Sear the other side a few minutes and let the skin crisp up, someone at the table will probably love a side dish of crispy salmon skins. Turn the heat down and let it finish cooking, anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes or so depending on how thick it is and how done you want it to be. While the salmon is finishing, remove the rice from the oven, move the asparagus to the top shelf and set the oven on broil. Is the salmon done? Sneak a peek with a sharp knife if you’re not sure. I always do this because I’m never sure. Or better yet— see if an instant read thermometer registers 145º.

It’s ready. Remove the skins from the salmon if you want. Or leave them on. Assemble your little bowl with as much or as little as you want. Top with a few chive batons if you’re in the mood.

Why a bowl? You can use any kind of dish, but I like a bowl. I like to cup my hand around the bowl while I’m eating to share a little of the food’s warmth with my hands. The best part is at the end: holding the bowl helps you get every last bit out.

For this four person version, you’ll need:
• A pound of salmon cut into four filets (I like wild Sockeye, King, or Coho best)
• Three cups of medium grain brown rice
• Two bunches of asparagus
• Plain Greek yogurt (small 5.3 oz.)
• Around a quarter to a third cup each of finely chopped chives and parsley
• One lemon
• Salt, ground pepper, olive or canola oil
Optional: sea salt flakes, fresh cracked pepper

Equipment I used:
• Frying pan for salmon (I used a 12″ pan for four pieces of salmon)
• 13×18 sheet pan for the asparagus
• Anchor Hocking 11 cup covered baking dish (or 9×13 baking dish with foil to cover for the rice)
• Four cup Pyrex measuring cup for boiling water (or pot or something else to boil water)

Notes:
For olive oil, I use Columela— it has a sort of spicy flavor, for sea salt flakes, I use Maldon, and for pepper, I use the Tellicherry variety. I use table salt for anything mixed in or cooked and save the sea salt flakes for finishing or roasting. Using these ingredients adds a little extra flavor to the dish and they’re getting much easier to find now.

Copyright © 2014 MRStrauss • All rights reserved