Friday, August 31, 2012

cucumber & chiles salad

i love this salad...crunchy, spicy, a tiny bit sweet...perfect alongside cold roasted chicken, piled on top of a roast beef sandwich, on fish tacos or as part of an asian food buffet. i also like it with new mexican or mexican food.  try with stacked enchiladas, beans and posole instead or the more typical green salad.

cucumber & chilies salad
(ensure you prepare at least an hour in advance to allow the flavors to meld and then serve it icy cold.)
8 oz. cucumber (i use an english cucumber)
coarse kosher salt
2 fresh jalapeño chilies
1 fresh red chili
3 tbsp champagne or sparkling wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp coconut sugar

thinly slice cucumber and place in a colander. sprinkle with the kosher salt. let sit for 30 minutes and then rinse thoroughly with cold water. pat dry and arrange 1/2 of cucumber on a platter. seed and remove membranes from jalapeño and red chilies.***   cut peppers in half lengthwise and then very thinly slice. sprinkle 1/2 of sliced chilies on top of platter of cucumbers. cover with the remaining cukes and arrange remaining chilies on top. place vinegar and coconut sugar in small bowl and whisk together until sugar is dissolved. pour dressing over cucumbers, cover platter with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour. serve really cold. make even not remove membranes from the make insanely hot..keep some, if not all, of the seeds...

**regarding jalapeños and serranos..if you have never prepared fresh jalapeños/serranos this note is very, very important..and i really, really mean it (have i emphasized this point enough? :)  immediately after you seed and chop the peppers wash your hands really well. if you don't, i promise you will forget, touch your eyes and cause a massive, painful burning. some people recommend wearing rubber gloves when preparing peppers.  i don't, but i always remember the washing hands tip...i learned the hard way.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

spicy braised artichokes

i am a huge proponent of stocking the pantry with amazing ingredients...think extra virgin olive oils, lots of different types of vinegars, high quality mustards, seasoning blends, rice, beans, grains/flours, jams, marmalade, chutneys, dried name it. then...coupled with a fridge full of fruit and vegetables, organic & free range eggs and a selection of artisan cheeses...wonderful meals are always possible without needing to leave home.
there have been artichokes in my csa box the past few weeks. the cool thing about being this close to the farm is that you can experience the progress of each crop. the first week, the artichokes were tiny..only a couple of inches long. the next week they were a bit bigger..bigger the next week...and today some are almost large. that is the reason the quantities needed in the following recipe are a bit vague...use as much or as little as you like depending on the yield of the prepared artichokes. as long as you keep liquid in the braising step you really can't screw this up! :)so here we go...spicy braised baby (or small, or medium or large) artichokes. i created the recipe when they were baby sized and the name stuck....enjoy!

spicy braised baby artichokes
8-12 or small or 4-6 medium or large
2 lemons
ice water
1 leek, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, shredded
extra virgin olive oil
splash white wine
1/2 cup water
1-2 tbsp chili paste (1 use a brand called chili sauce)
grey salt
freshly cracked black pepper

have ready a medium sized bowl of ice water. cut each lemon in half, squeeze the juice into the water bath and add the used lemon halves...set aside. prepare artichokes by turning each artichoke onto its side and, using a sharp knife, cut off the top 1/3 of the leaves. pull off all the dark green leaves of each artichoke. this step is very need to remove everything until you get to the light green leaves. you will probably feel like you are discarding most of the worries! those dark green leaves will never soften enough to be edible. cut each artichoke in half lengthwise and then in half again into quarters. peel the stem using a paring knife and then scoop out the tough thistley part of the center or heart called the "choke". as soon as you finish preparing each artichoke, place it in the lemon water bowl. this will help prevent browning.

add a tablespoon of the evoo to a large sauté pan and warm. add the leeks and onion and sauté until soft and translucent. add the garlic and carrot and continue cooking until the onions just begin to turn brown and caramelize. add another tablespoon of evoo. drain the artichokes and add to the pan (discard lemon halves). sauté for a couple of minutes and then add a pinch of salt, pepper, the wine, water and 1 tbsp of the chili sauce. stir. cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the artichokes give easily when pierced with the point of a sharp knife. when tender, remove from heat and taste. add additional chili sauce if you want a bit spicier dish. correct seasonings if needed, but do this step last. chili paste/sauce often contains a lot of salt so you may not need to add any more.

serve as is for a side dish...or add to hot, cooked pasta with a bit more olive oil if needed...delicious! (also, terrific on grilled bread as a bruschetta topping.)

**this post was originally published on the napa farmhouse 1885 blog**