Thursday, November 28, 2013

Black Friday: The Foodie Edition

I'm kind of obsessed with bargain hunting, so this holiday weekend is perfect for my expensive pastime. I've come across many things I think fellow chefs and foodies would enjoy on my Amazon hunt this morning, so I've compiled a random list of deals here. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Mexican Polenta Pizza with Tomatillo Salsa (gluten-free)

Hello everyone! Rosh Hashana is upon us, and so I thought I would post...something entirely unrelated to apples, honey or brisket! But tonight's recipe is in part motivated by the upcoming holiday. Specifically, we got a really great haul from our CSA this week and we have been scrambling (figuratively and literally as well, we made scrambled eggs this weekend with some of it) to use up the delicious produce we get from Windflower Farm - with the abbreviated week, we needed to make sure we cooked up some good stuff before heading to family for the holiday.

Among our haul: tomatoes, bell peppers, chili peppers, arugula, red onions and tomatillos. The last one being, I think, the most interesting of the bunch. I've heard professional TV chefs like Bobby Flay talk about how amazing tomatillos are, and I've heard of them used in lots of Mexican dishes. I've seen them in the supermarket too, but I've always been a little afraid to buy them, being unsure what they taste like or how to use them. So naturally when we got them in our CSA it was my job to use them up.

The trouble with tomatillos is: no one else really seems to know how to use them either! That's an exaggeration of course, but in my research it seemed like all people really used tomatillos for sauces - the most popular being salsa verde, along with some other tasty-sounding sauces for enchiladas, or as mix-ins for guacamole. I recently even saw a tomatillo ketchup from Saveur recently. But in all these recipes the tomatillos were just playing second fiddle as a condiment. I nearly gave up and planned on just buying some avocadoes and dicing them into guacamole...

When I asked Faigy what proteins we had on hand, she mentioned chicken. I figured I'd be stuffed with chicken for the next three days over the holiday, so I wanted to go for something else. The only other things she mentioned we had were pasta and polenta. Hmm...polenta sounds good, but we always have it sliced into rounds, how could I come up with a new presentation...?

A few more minutes mulling it over and it hit me! Being a sauce didn't mean the tomatillo couldn't play a starring role. What if I just treated it like a tomato and made a sauce out of it for pizza? But the better answer was to let the tomato inspire it, but not treat it like one.

I went back to the tomatillo salsa idea. I could bake a pizza "crust" from polenta, spread a tomatillo salsa doctored up as a pizza sauce on it, sprinkle cheese and bake! The result was a recipe with a number of different variations to fit all sorts of different tastes and requirements.

Some notes: I tried the salsa raw and cooked. The raw had much more of a spicy kick, but way more vibrant flavor and a beautiful color. If you're looking for something punchy with a great bright green color, keep the salsa raw before spreading onto the crust (you may need to strain it a bit). On the other had, the cooked version has a much deeper, more caramelized flavor, with a taste that vaguely resembles a tomato but not quite.

This can also be made vegan by using vegan cheese (or omitting it entirely). It is also entirely gluten-free naturally!

Finally: if you want a quick version: skip the tomatillo sauce entirely and just use regular tomato sauce. The polenta crust is way healthier than dough (350 calories for the whole thing) and it takes 5 minutes active time to prep.

Mexican Polenta Pizza with Tomatillo Salsa and fresh CSA veggie salad

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Cheeseless Mushroom Quiche

Going through the Smitten Kitchen cookbook, I came across a  recipe I knew I had to try: the wild mushroom tart. However, as I needed to take the dairy out of the recipe to serve it as a side with our meat meal, this tart actually became a new recipe entirely! 

Much of the binding in the filling comes from milk and cheese, so I decided to use silken tofu and miso as a replacement. The former replaces the creaminess and the latter replaces the cheesiness. Yes, you read that right - miso can imitate a cheesy flavor. It's a trick I learned from the meatball recipe on the blog Supper for Two

Another big change I made to this recipe is the cooking time, as the tofu takes much longer to set than cheese. While cooking, I was getting nervous about leaving in the tart for nearly double the original cooking time, but it turned out perfectly. 

In the end, this tart came out so delicious, meaty from the mushrooms and savory from the miso. We had absolutely no leftovers, which is always the best sign of all.