13th October 2008

    Shrimp with Fennel, Green Olives, Red Onion, and White Wine & Stuffed Tomatoes

    I came across these two dishes in The Olive and The Caper when looking for recipes that used fennel, which showed up in our CSA box this week.  The shrimp was incredibly easy to make and FAST — the tomatoes took a little more work (and a lot more time!) but were well worth it.  They went together perfectly.

    Lisa says:

    Whoa, looks fancy. Hey, I like these stuffed tomatoes — almost like dolma!

    Chris says:

    The author calls it “Tomatoes Stuffed with Ancient Ingredients”.

    Lisa says:

    What, like the old stuff in the pantry?

    Chris says:

    You’d think so! Not sure about the title, but whatever. It’s good. And I really, really, like the shrimp. It’s really tender and really picked up the flavor of the cooking broth — the wine, the salty olives.. yum! What are you doing with your bread?

    Lisa says:

    I’m going to make a sandwich… a little bit of yogurt — like a curly-lou — a titch of salt… a shrimp or two… and some bulgur. Mmmmm, soooo good!

    Chris says:

    You’re quite the chef!

    Lisa says:

    Soos!

    Chris says:

    This is actually pretty filling, I wouldn’t have thought so from the recipes themselves.

    Lisa says:

    Yeah, it is. I usually like the veggies better when the filling includes meat, but these are delicious.

    Chris says:

    Great success!

    Shrimp with Fennel, Green Olives, Red Onion, and White Wine
    2 lbs medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, shells reserved
    2 cups dry white wine
    1 cup water
    1 tsp salt
    1/2 medium red onion, coarsely chopped
    3/4 cup fennel stalk, coarsely chopped
    8 large green olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
    1 tbsp olive oil
    1 tbsp minced fennel fronds

    Put the shrimp shells, wine, water, and salt in a large pot and bring to a boil. Simmer until the shells turn pink, 2 minutes. Remove and discard the shells. Add the onion, chopped fennel, olives, and oil to the pot and return to a boil. Simmer until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes, then stir in the shrimp and simmer until they begin to turn pink, about 1 1/2 – 2 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish, sprinkle with the fennel fronds, and serve.

    6 Servings

    Fresh Tomatoes Stuffed with “Ancient Ingredients”
    6-8 large summer-ripe tomatoes
    1 tbsp olive oil
    1 small onion, finely chopped
    1 large rib celery, with leaves, finely chopped
    1 large poblano pepper, sedded and finely chopped
    1 cup medium-grind bulgar
    1/4 cup dry white wine
    1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
    1 cup greek yogurt (thick)
    6 sprigs cilantro and mint

    Prepare the tomatoes by cutting 1/4″ off the top. Set the caps aside. Use a paring knife to cut the cores and pulp out of each tomato, leaving a 1/4″ shell. Discard the core. Finely chop the pulp and place it in a strainer over a bowl to collect the juice. Strain any juices that have accumulated in the shells into the bowl as well. (You’ll have the tomato caps, tomato shells, chopped tomato pulp, and tomato juice).
    Heat the oil in a medium-size pan over medium heat. Add the onion and stir until it wilts, about 5 minutes. Add the celery, poblano pepper, and chopped tomato pulp. Stir over medium heat an additional 3 minutes.
    Add in the bulgar, wine, chickpeas, and salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool, stirring occasionally, for at least 10, and up to 45, minutes.
    Stuff each tomato shell with a heaping 1/2 cup of the bulgur mixture. Arrange the tomatoes in a large wide pot or baking dish so they are tightly packed in one layer. Place a cap on each tomato. Pour all the strained tomato juice into the pot (not over the tomatoes).
    Bring the liquid to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the tomato shells soften, 10 minutes. Set the lid ajar, and continue simmering until the bulgur is fluffy and the shells are quite soft, 10 minutes more.
    Remove from the heat and set aside for 15 minutes to cool.
    To serve, lift the tomatoes onto a serving platter. Set the caps to the side of each tomato. Spoon 2 tbsp of yogurt over each tomato, and place a cilantro sprig on top. Serve warm, or at room temperature.

    6 Servings

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    posted in Main Dishes | 2 Comments

    13th October 2008

    We Heart (Italian) Food: Rome, the Cinque Terre, and Venice

    After spending almost an entire week in Northern Italy, it was time to journey down to Rome for a few days.  We stayed in the Appio Latino district, a few underground stops from the city center.  We found the best restaurants were away from the super-touristy spots, hidden in small side streets, and sometimes didn’t even have menus!  We had a great (and cheap!) dinner our first night in Rome at a place where the owner just asked what we liked, and brought something out to match our requests.  Our favorite find, though, was Pompi, an awesome breakfast/bar/dessert joint just a block away from our B&B.  It didn’t matter what time of day you went in, it was always crowded… with good reason: morning croissants, evening tiramisu, late-night drinks, all were great.  We loved the late-night food/drink culture in Rome!

    Favorite cultural “what-the?” moment: We eventually tired of pizza and pasta, so we sought out and found… a Mexican restaurant!  It was surreal being in the center of Rome having an Italian waitress explain to us how to assemble and eat fajitas.  :)

    The Cinque Terre region is famous for its white wines (trails connecting the five villages go right through the vineyards), and being right on the Mediterranean, seafood was fresh and plentiful.  We had dinner at Marina Piccola our first night, and I was thrilled with the mixed seafood appetizer plate, which included the tenderest octopus I’ve ever eaten, along with anchovies marinated in olive oil, fried anchovies, an anchovy fritter (they heart the anchovies here!) and a bacon-wrapped scallop.  Fantastic.  Trattoria Dal Billy was a fun find, with great food and quite the entertaining waitstaff.  Nothing like having booze-soaked fruit spoon-fed to you after dinner, while being told that it’s POISON!

    The end of our Italian journey took us to Venice, with great beer, bellinis, and pizza at Birraria La Corte.  We enjoyed the feel of the place so much that we ate here two nights in a row.  It also helped that it was 50 feet from our hotel.  ;)  The gelato was plentiful, but our favorite “snack” in Venice were these green pistachio cookies that every other bakery in town seemed to make.  I’m pretty sure we had six of these fist-sized cookies in just a couple of days…

    If it weren’t for all the hiking, walking, stair-climbing, sightseeing, etc., I’m sure we would have packed on quite a few pounds on this trip — but hey, the site’s called We [Heart] Food for a reason!

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    posted in Italian, Mediterranean | 2 Comments

    12th October 2008

    Fennel and White Bean Stew

    Lisa wanted to cook something tonight, and keeping in mind that we had some great veggies to use from the CSA box, found this hearty stew on Fatfree Vegan Kitchen.  Lisa made some modifications that changed it to be neither fat-free nor vegan, but it still remained healthy and was simple and delicious.  We love warm stews on chilly nights, and Seattle has had quite a few of those lately!

    Chris says:

    The kitchen smells really good.

    Lisa says:

    Well try this — it tastes really good.

    Chris says:

    Oooh, yum — I really like this one! We’ve had a few stews that were similar, but this may be of my favorites.

    Lisa says:

    The fennel is good; it’s not overpowering.

    Chris says:

    Look at all those veggies! It’s pretty filling, too.

    Lisa says:

    Well it does have two entire cans of beans…

    Chris says:

    Uh oh…

    Lisa says:

    Don’t go there.

    Fennel and White Bean Stew (adapted from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen)
    1 large bulb fennel
    Olive oil
    6 cloves garlic, chopped
    2 carrots, peeled and chopped
    1 large (28-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
    2 cups chicken broth, divided
    1 tsp. dried herbs de provence, crushed
    1 1/2 tsp. oregano
    salt to taste
    freshly ground pepper, to taste
    4 small zucchini, cubed
    4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
    1 small lobster mushroom, cleaned and sliced
    6-7 stalks of baby bok choy, cut in thirds

    Prepare the fennel by removing the stalks and leaves (save them for another use). Slice about 1/4 inch off the bottom of the bulb, and cut the bulb in half, down through the middle (top to bottom). Cut each half into thin wedges, top to bottom.

    Add a teaspoon of olive oil to a large pot. Heat it on medium, and add the fennel and carrots. Sauté for about 3 minutes and then add the garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add the beans, 1 cup of chicken broth, and all seasonings. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

    Add the other cup of chicken broth, the zucchini, the mushrooms, and bok choy. Cover and simmer another 10 minutes, or until the zucchini is tender.

    3 Servings

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    posted in Main Dishes | 2 Comments

    11th October 2008

    We Heart (Italian) Food: The Dolomites

     

    As mentioned in a previous post, Lisa and I just returned from our honeymoon in Italy: almost three full weeks of hiking, sightseeing, riding the rails, and of course, eating!

    Our first week in Italy was spent far north, hiking in the Dolomites.  Hiking up there bore little resemblance to hiking in the States, due to the presence of rifugios — overnight “huts” that free overnight hikers from having to pack bags, tents, food, etc.  These “huts” are more like small hotels/taverns that serve full meals, beer, and wine.  What could be more enjoyable than spending a long, taxing afternoon on the trail, and discovering that right at your destination is a hot plate of food and an ice cold beer?

    The food of the Dolomites is heavily German-influenced: strudel, sauerkraut, and wurst made frequent appearances in menus.  Our favorite find, however, were canederli, tennis-ball sized dumplings usually flavored with speck, a juniper-flavored prosciutto.  We had them alone and served in a broth, and loved them in any preparation.  Mushrooms were also very popular in this region of the country, and by the time we left the mountains Lisa was ready for funghi-free food.  :)

    We were able to find a cookbook that featured many of the local Dolomites specialties, so look out for some canederli to be featured her relatively soon.

    Next up… delicious dishes from Rome, Venice, and the Cinque Terre.

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    posted in German, Italian | 2 Comments

    9th October 2008

    Pollo Pulquero

    Our first post after our almost three weeks in Italy (w00t honeymoon!) is this chicken dish from Rick Bayless’s Mexican Everyday. The original recipe calls to prepare it in a slow-cooker, but, not owning one, we went with the oven-bake method instead. This was a perfect recipe match to our CSA box, which this week included tomatillos and red-skinned potatoes.

    Chris says:

    Yum, I love this!

    Lisa says:

    Me too — I was taking bites while you were taking pictures.

    Chris says:

    This is like your dream dinner — there’s no oil, and there’s salt between each layer.

    Lisa says:

    That doesn’t mean I can’t add even more salt, though…

    Chris says:

    I bet the flavors would be even more intense if this was done in a slow-cooker. And I really like the little crispy edges of cilantro and tomatillo from the lid-free finish.

    Lisa says:

    Too bad I have lunch plans tomorrow, this would make a great lunch.

    Chris says:

    Guess what we’re having for dinner tomorrow night, then?

    Lisa says:

    Wahoo!

    Pollo Pulquero
    1 medium white onion, sliced into 1/4″ thick rings
    salt
    1 lb red-skin potatoes, sliced 1/4″ thick
    8 skinless chicken thighs
    1 cup cilantro leaves
    1 1/4 lbs tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and sliced 1/4″ thick
    1/4 cup roasted hatch chilis, chopped

    Heat the oven to 400 degrees. In a 6-qt Dutch Oven, spread the onion in a layer, and sprinkle with salt. Continue with the potato slices, chicken, cilantro, and tomatillos, sprinkling with salt over each layer. Scatter the roasted chilis over the top. Set the lid in place and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the lid and bake 15-20 minutes longer to reduce the juices. Spoon directly onto plates, and top with additional cilantro.

    4 Servings

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    posted in Main Dishes, Mexican, Mexican Everyday | 3 Comments


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