Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Travel Series: Tian en France!

Bonjour mes amies, je vous ai manqué. My deepest apologies for the prolonged and sudden hiatus from starving-architects.com - but a sudden quarter-life crisis has uprooted me and sent me a-journeying. First stop: The South of France for Auntie M's lovely Tian d'aubergine...

I doubt many would argue that one of the best things about France is the food. The freshest ingredients harvested from a picture-perfect landscape - a lot of the vegetables in the markets (especially in the south) look almost too beautiful to eat! I said almost. At any rate, after loading up our cute as a button Citroën Picasso with gallons (literally) of wine from the nearby depot, we ventured to Nîmes to visit my new favourite vegetable market on the edge of the square, Quatre Saisons. It was one of those vegetable market experiences where you find yourself putting everything in the basket, before remembering that you can always return tomorrow...

At any rate, what better to do with a mess of vegetable then create a Tian dish that incorporates all into a gooey, slow-roasted mess of aromatic excellence?? A few courgettes here, a few aubergine there, tomatoes (of course) and onion if you desire. There really are very few rules to Tian and perhaps that's why it's so perfect for a starving-architect like myself. Serve accompanying lamb, fish, anything... on its own with a touch of goat cheese to garnish?? C'est une belle chose. From the kitchen of Cruviers-Lascours to you, bon appetit!

Serves: 4-6
Active Time: 25 min
Cooking Time: 45 mins - 1.5 hours... can slow roast as long as you please!

Ingredients:

- two large aubergines (eggplants) or several small ones
- a few fresh courgettes (zucchini)
- about 6 fresh roma tomatoes
- garlic (optional)
- onions (optional... we didn't use it this time, but by all means throw it in the mix)
- olive oil
- fresh thyme
- salt and pepper
- herbes de provence (if you can get your hands on some)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 325 farenheit.

Wash all your veg and slice the aubergine, courgettes and tomatoes into approximately 1/8" slices (or close to). You may choose to salt, rinse and pat dry your eggplant, but in my opinion for this dish it's somewhat unnecessary especially if you have very fresh ingredients.

In a large pan, heat some olive oil and saute your eggplant slices so they are slightly pre-cooked before assembling the Tian. You may chose to do the same for the zucchini. Then, in a casserole, arrange your slices alternating eggplant, zucchini, tomato in a layering sequence until you have used up all your veg. Sprinkle the fresh type, some salt and herbes de provence atop the layered veg with a drizzle of olive oil over the entire thing. Cover and cook in the over for a half hour or so, before removing the cover and continue cooking for another 15-30 mins.

Serve sprinkled with goat cheese. Great as a leftover...


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spicy Panang Curry with Tofu - a la Diana & Chloe

What a wonderful predicament: friends who like to cook so much that I'm hard-pressed to find the time to blog their beautiful and delicious creations...
This Panang recipe I've brought back from the January archives, a grey time in my life when internet was down on Sullivan Street and I became severely backlogged on posts. But rest easy, because this Panang was worth the wait. Brought to you by none other than the infamous Chloe whom perfected her curry making gift whilst in Thailand, and Diana the Great, just a darn good chef and a humble sous-chef as well, even though her talents generally put her front row, centre, where she belongs.

Disclaimer: just a warning that all the ingredients are not super easy to find- in particular the panang curry paste, kaffir lime and the palm sugar that [Chloe] got in Thailand but [Chloe is] sure many asian markets have the stuff or u can just use sugar, but once you have the stuff, as you can see, it's quite easy.

Ingredients:

1 cup coconut milk
2 tbl panang curry paste
1 extra firm Tofu package (can use chicken, pork, beef, if you like...)
1/2 tbspn palmsugar
2/3 cup coconut cream
1/2 tbspn fish sauce
1/2 large red chili (or less, pending on your spice tolerance...)
2 Kaffir lime leaves finely shredded
1/4 cup sweet basil leaves torn from the stem

Directions:

Boil Coconut milk over low heat until oil appears on the surface.
Add curry paste and stir in for one minute.
Add tofu (chopped into cubes) to the coconut milk and then add coconut cream, bringing to a boil. Add the palm sugar and fish sauce. At the last moment add the chili, again remember your spice tolerance! Finally, add the kaffir lime leaves, and sweet basil. Cook for 5-10 seconds only, then remove from heat and serve atop plain rice.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Roast Chicken with Pancetta and Olives

Home in the lovely Vancouver, British Columbia, glorious land of beautiful landscapes, funny people, Gold Medal Hockey Olympians, and a family that feeds me far too well...
For a Starving Architect, a weekend home to a range top that is larger than 3 square feet and an oven that is of this century and can actually reach temperatures of 400 fahrenheit is pure bliss. Not to mention this is Reblacka's kitchen (namesake to Reblacka's Famous Tomato Pie, and co-owner of Amelia Oil), which means take note, dear friends, as I am near certain no meal produced in said space has ever been short of phenomenal.
But remember: phenomenal does not necessarily mean time-consuming, and efficiency in the kitchen is another one of Reblacka's specialties. This recipe was borrowed from an old issue of Gourmet Magazine, and in my opinion, is an extremely easy and satisfying dish to produce leftovers for later in the week or for a dinner party - and easy on your wallet... so you can save that extra dough for more wine. Right?

Serves: 8
Active Time: 25 min
Cooking Time: 1-1.5 hour

Ingredients:

4-6 whole chicken legs, thigh and drum cut in half
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tbspn chopped fresh thyme
1 tbspn rosemary
salt and pepper to taste
10 cloves garlic peeled
2 1/4" slices pancetta, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup dry white wine
24 oil-cured black olives

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 fahrenheit with rack in the middle position.
Toss your chicken drums and thighs with oil, thyme, rosemary, salt and red-pepper flakes, and 1 tspn pepper, rubbing mixture into chicken.
Arrange chicken skin side up in 1 layer in a baking sheet,. Scatter garlic and pancetta on top and roast until chicken begins to brown, about 20 minutes. Drizzle wine over chicken and roast another 5 minutes or so more.
Finally, scatter olives over chicken and roast until skin is golden brown and chicken is cooked through 15 to 20 minutes more. Let stand 10 minutes, and enjoy.

Asparagus with Dates

Q: A date is a dried what?? A: Fig.
Wrong. My world was pretty much turned upside down about a fortnight ago when Annie once again proved my foodie knowledge wrong - the truth is that a date is in fact the fruit of a date palm. (I know, who really cares.) Still, I shall never again question Annie the date-lover...
Despite my dejected state over losing said argument, Miss. Martyr and I once again joined forces, marrying my offering of a few lone asparagus spears with her beloved dates remaining at the Cornelia Street Annex - the result, nothing short of euphoric.

Serves: 4 (as a side)
Active Time: 5 min
Cooking Time: 8-10 min

Ingredients:

20 or so fresh asparagus spears, tough ends snapped off
1-2 tbspn butter
6 (approx.) fresh dates, pits removed and coarsely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat the butter in a pan large enough to fit all of your asparagus spears. Place your asparagus in the pan with the butter and saute for approximately 8-10 minutes, until slightly soft but still with a crunch. Add the dates, and saute for another few minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. So simple - this recipe truly lives up to the saying 'less is more'.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Guest Chef Series: The Lovely Megan Loach Impresses with her Meani Rapini

Fashionista and Business Mogul by day, Starving-Architects Guest Chef by night - Miss. Loach is a lady with style and grace in both food and fashion, infamous for her signature Shrimp Ring offering at near every party.
Coming to us all the way from Toronto, Canada, ladies and gentleman: Megan Loach...

"Inspired by my local Italian lunch time spot that has sadly moved out of the Liberty Village** area that had authentic singing large Italian chefs loading up the garlic and hearty tasty treats. Rapini is a tart tasty side and mixed with sweet red peppers, smokey roasted pine nuts, and creamy goat cheese, it is the perfect flavorful side for a nice white fish or perhaps a pork tenderloin mariniated in red wine, just sayin'....
Serves 4, as a side.

Ingredients/Supplies:

1 large WOK ideally and small frying pan
5 large bunches of Rapini...LARGE they will shrink when cooked
1 medium sized container of pine nuts [Starving-Architect's note: as shown in photograph, I tried Walnuts for a different flavour at a lesser price! Pine nuts are mad expensive.]
6 cloves fresh garlic (yes...SIX)
3 red peppers
medium sized goat cheese (choose how pricey you want to go with this, best for really soft but I like a little stink mixed in for good European measure) [Starving-Architect's note: that's my girl!]
Olive oil (the good stuff)
sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Directions:

Add olive oil to a small pan and heat. Add pine nuts to the small pan and slowly roast until golden brown, not black or dark brown, those colours are not our friends in this scenario. Cover and put off to the side.
Cut medium sized slices of garlic, not too small because you do not want them to dissolve. Add olive oil to wok and heat. Place your chopped garlic in the heated oil and roast away.
In a separate small pan [Starving-Architect's note: I just cooked it all in the same pan... lazy/less dishes...], heat olive oil and red peppers on a lower heat to slowly cook until soft, but we do not want floppy soggy peppers.
In your big WOK (or large pan) with the browned garlic, add a bit more oil and a touch of water and then put in the Meani Rapini. Saute until wilted and add ground pepper and sea salt to taste. The rapini is ready when it is a nice dark green and slightly soft (but no sogginess, mush = bad) and most of the water from the veg should have evaporated. Near the end of cooking add pine nuts and redpepers to wok, mixing together all the flavours.
Serve as side, include the pieces of roasted garlic and top with 4 dollops of goat cheese. [Starving-Architect's note: try it with a lemon wedge, adds a little zing]
MMMMM."

** Liberty Village: trendy Toronto hotspot full of designers from across the board. Very cool area to check out when north of the border...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Scallops on Potato with Kale & Wine Cream Sauce

Last night was a night of barter in the world of starving-architects: home cooked scallop feast in exchange for television viewing privileges at the Cornelia Street annex. Wanting to keep my mind sharp and stimulated, my dear dinner companions and I conversed in our usual legal jargon and engaged in political discussion, prior to watching the Bachelor. To accompany such an event, I had been dying to try Reblacka's "Qualicum Beach Scallops on Potato" recipe that was passed on to me a few weeks ago. However, seeing that Qualicum Beach (a little piece of Canadian heaven, just north of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island) falls ever so slightly outside of my NYC Soho/West Village bubble, I had to make do with a visit to The Lobster Place, an excellent seafood shop conveniently located on Bleecker just at the foot of Cornelia.
Twelve jumbo scallops later, and a quick trip to Morton Williams for the very basic and easy to find ingredients that make up this dish, I was off to running start - and considering Jake (the real Jake, not that cheeseball Bachelor dude) ate everyone's leftover potatoes of their plates, I think it's safe to say the meal was a satisfying success. Particularly good for a cold wintery night in, with good company, and a little wine never hurt.
I'd also like to take the opportunity to thank Annie for the use of her kitchen utensils and overseeing the scallop cooking - your patience and ability to precisely measure ingredients never seizes to amaze me.

*Tip: when purchasing scallops, make sure you're buying 'dry scallops' - the wild and natural kind. Wet scallops are treated with phosphates, thus increasing their weight and costing you more! When cooked, they shrink down to size and so really it's all just a mean trick, not to mention they don't taste nearly as good...

Serves: 4
Active time: 20 mins
Cooking time: 20 mins


Ingredients:

6 leaves of fresh kale, washed well, tough stems removed
¾ cup of chicken or veg stock
1½ lbs. Yukon gold, yellow fleshed potatoes, peeled and quartered
4-6 large cloves of garlic, peeled and thickly sliced
2 Tbsp melted butter
2 Tbsp warm milk or warm stock
Salt & Pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil
12 Jumbo Scallops (use your judgement as to how many scallops based on size and portions)
½ cup of white wine- dry Riesling works well
1½ cups whipping or heavy cream
2 Tbsp whole grain Dijon mustard
2-3 green onions thinly sliced


Directions:

Chop your trimmed kale leaves into ¼ in strips. Meanwhile, bring ¾ cup of stock to simmer in wide skillet. Add the chopped kale and cook till tender, this will take only a couple of minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Place potatoes and garlic in a pot and bring to a boil over med-high heat. Lower heat and let potatoes simmer until tender about 18-20 mins. When potatoes are cooked through, drain well, ensuring garlic stays in pot. Mash potatoes and garlic together until smooth. Mix in melted butter, 2Tbsp. milk or stock, the reserved kale and it’s cooking liquid, salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the mashed potato mixture to a 200F oven to keep warm while you prepare the remainder of the meal.

Next, season the scallops with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat some oil in a large skillet and cook scallops over medium heat. Timing varies pending on the size of the scallops you're cooking with, so start with a couple mins a side for large scallops, but be careful not to overcook - cook only until just barely cooked through.

Remove skillet from heat and transfer scallops to a plate and keep warm in oven.
Set skillet back on med-high heat. Add the wine and reduce by half. Pour in cream, simmer and reduce until a thickened sauce forms. Stir in green onions, mustard, salt and pepper and reserve on low heat.

To serve, divide and mashed potato mixture in centre of warmed bowls, top each mound a few scallops, and drizzle the wine-cream sauce over the top.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Mushroom Quinoa 'Risotto'

For all those foodies out there that made the New Year's resolution to 'eat healthy', this recipe fits the bill: quick, easy, inexpensive and low calorie, while still gooey and warm for those grey winter days.

A Peruvian seed that I am fairly certain I used to feed to my childhood pet cockatiel as a treat, quinoa is the glue that binds this dish, leaving your usual risotto aborrio rice in the dust. (...but not for long, because really, calorie-count aside, who doesn't love a well done risotto? Impossible to fairly compare aborrio and quinoa, like making a parent choose their most loved child -- and I digress...). Point is, today quinoa is offering us something we never thought we could have: a risotto-esque entree dish that is healthy while still filling; robust yet uncomplicated.

A few more glorifying fun facts: Quinoa is...
High in protein!
Contains balanced amino acids!
Gluten-free!

So, on an evening when you're tired, and don't necessarily feel like cooking anything that involves too much prep work or makes you feel like a blob, bust out the mushrooms and try this one out. A few asparagus spears or some sauteed collards on the side, and you've got yourself a perfectly well-rounded meal, in minutes.


Serves: 4
Active Time: 10 min
Cooking Time: 15 min


Ingredients:

1 cup rinsed quinoa seeds
1 large Spanish onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 package (8 ounces) of crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, sliced
1 package dried shitake mushrooms
a small handful of fresh marjoram, chopped (can also use thyme for a different flavor)
a few glugs of dry white wine
olive oil
red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
grated pecorino cheese

Directions:

First, soak your dried shitake shrooms in a bowl of warm water. Set aside and let sit until tender.

In a saucepan, bring approximately 2 cups of salted water to a boil, add the quinoa seed, cover, and reduce heat to let simmer until the quinoa is tender and has absorbed all the water, at which point remove from heat. (This part is kind of like making rice, which admittedly, I am awful at. So, if you're like me and lack confidence, you can usually find further quinoa cooking details on the back of the package...).

While the quinoa is cooking away, in a large pan saute your onion in some olive oil until it begins to brown, then add your garlic, mushrooms (both the criminis and the shitakes, water removed) as well as your marjoram to the pan. Continue to saute until the mushrooms are tender, approximately 5 minutes.
Add a glug or two of white wine, and allow to cook down. Add some red pepper flakes (for spice), salt and pepper to taste.

Finish by mixing the quinoa in the pan with the mushroom mixture. Plate with a side veg of choice, pecorino grated atop, and voila: healthful meal extraordinaire.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Guest Chef Series: Culinary Master Chef Annie Martyr Sprouts Gastronomic Victory

One of the best things to happen to me in 2009 was when Annie Martyr bid Murray Hill a fond farewell to journey west and nest within my 5-block radius Soho/West Village bubble, elevating our basic friendship up a notch to 'neighbour friend'. Since then, evenings of cooking together have become a regular occurrence, and a highly enjoyable one at that.

Though ever-modest with her exceptional culinary skill, Annie Martyr found taste bud euphoria again just last weekend, with this 'simple side' to almost any meal. I'm certain that when French settlers first brought the 'mini cabbage' vegetable to Louisiana around 1800, they likely could have used Annie's help in finding the correct malt liquor to season and prepare. At any rate, some 210 years later, she has perfected the process, and taste tested by moi, I can attest to this fact.

Serves: 4 (as a side)
Active time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

Beer Braised Brussel Sprouts

Ingredients:

1/3 lb Brussel sprouts
Beer - preferablly a medium to dark lager
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons Butter or olive oil
Salt and pepper

Directions:

In a large saute pan saute brussel sprouts for 2 to 3 minutes in butter (or olive oil for a slightly healthier dish). Add about 1/3 inch of beer and brown sugar, and cook on medium-high heat so that the beer is simmering. Braise the brussel sprouts until the beer has almost completely reduced, stirring occasionally (about 10 minutes).
Add salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Asian Noodles for Justine

J'ai un ami. Son nom est Justine. Mardi dernier, nous avons eu une soirée pyjama.
Aside from our shared interest in architecture and design, I realize that Justine and I are two especially different people. She is short, I am tall. She is dark, I am fair. She is half Cambodian, I am half Estonian. She knows how to cook Asian cuisine, but Asian cuisine does not generally involve tomatoes, eggplant or foods in the form of pies, so, I can only try. Two people don't really get much more different than this - but let's not forget, opposites tend to attract.
So it was Tuesday night, I had received news that Justine was coming all the way from the Upper West Side for a slumber party at Sullivan Street - I had to make a meal to impress. Though risky, I decided I was going to try to cook Asian for my Asian friend, which meant a trip to my favourite Japanese food store, Sunrise Market (494 Broome Street, at W. Broadway - don't miss it if you live in the area).
Finding some inspiration from Jamie Oliver (I chose to refer to his Asian Noodle Salad recipe since he's just a white boy who in all likelihood rarely cooks with daikon himself, and I take some peace of mind in this fact), I went about my shopping at Sunrise taking the usual 45 minutes to find two ingredients with the aid of my iphone and google image search, since few labels are printed in English. But don't be deterred - this recipe is very easy, all it takes is a little bit of courage to acquaint yourself with a few Asian ingredients and you're off. "This reminds me of something I would eat in Cambodia" - Justine Cheng. Mission accomplished.

Serves: 4
Active Time: 25 min
Cooking Time: 5-7 min

Ingredients:

200 g 'beanthread noodles' (google it for a visual)
1/2 lb. ground beef or sausage (i used sausage)
1/2 lb. of peeled fresh shrimp
2-3 tblspn of fresh grated ginger
3 cloves of garlic, minced
one bunch of fresh green onions, finely sliced
the juice of two fresh limes
1-2 tblspns fish sauce
a large handful of fresh mint, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced*
1 cubano pepper, thinly sliced*
1 sweet red pepper, thinly sliced*
red pepper flakes*
2 large handfuls of roasted peanuts
olive oil
3 tspns sugar
salt and pepper

*Jamie Oliver calls for '2 fresh red chilis' - I meanwhile just bought what looked good! A mix of spicy and sweet, adds colour and holds true to the fact I can never follow a recipe word-for-word.

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and remove from heat. Off the burner, place your beanthread noodles in the hot water, and cover. Leave to soak and soften for about 20 minutes after which you should train the noodles and set aside in a bowl to cool.

Meanwhile, throw a little olive oil in a wok (or a pan if you're ill-equipped much like myself) and get your ground beef and/or sausage cookin', spice with red pepper flakes to taste. Pan fry for a few minutes before adding the garlic, ginger, sugar and shrimp. Cook for a few more minutes until the shrimpies are pink and cooked through, but not dried out. Remove from heat.

Stir the wok mixture in with the drained noodles. Toss in the onion, lime juice, fish sauce, chilis of choice, mint and peanuts. Season to taste with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, adding a little more lime for added 'zing'.

And you're done. Seemingly anti-climatic on the preparation front, I was impressed with the outcome: a super easy, super delicious and healthy meal that will be sure to satiate your half Cambodian friends, et al.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Celebrating the Deliverance from Evil (aka. ConEd)

Con Edison really thought they had us. It was the first mild day after a week of frigid cold that started off our New Year. I felt I had put up my fight, powered through customer service representatives day after day - my persistent nature so nearly defeated, I was literally about to give up. But my horoscope that fateful morning of January 9th reminded me that 2010 was to be a year of love and luck, and never again will I doubt the power of the Aries Ram!
I was out for a run when I received the call that brought near-tears to my eyes, the call that changed everything: Con Edison would be coming in 15 minutes... the gas is back! My most dearest Uruguayan roommate and I rejoiced, and I believe the grey skies parted for a moment when we saw that little stovetop flame for the first time since October 26th, 2009.
Just when I thought I would never be re-stocking the fridge again, that i'd be having another awful Asian take-out meal for dinner that night, my angst of paying premium rent in SoHo without being able to boil water exponentially growing -- all negative thoughts were suddenly put to rest, and it was time to recall the original Sullivan Street dinner party...

Thank you for your patience during this very difficult time.