Saturday, July 14, 2012

Israeli Cousous Salad

Israeli couscous is a small toasted pasta that makes a wonderful salad base.  This recipe came about as a way to use all the vegetables coming out of my garden. I now use it to bring to BBQ's and potlucks. It is easy to transport and doesn't have a mayonnaise base, so you don't have to worry too much about the sun and heat affecting it.
I usually make the salad the day before the event and reserve some dressing to add to the salad right before I serve it (as it will soak up the dressing overnight and be dry unless you add more)!

Israeli Couscous Salad with Orange Muscat Vinaigrette

Serves 4 as a side dish and more at a potluck
  • 1    cup           Isreali Couscous
  • 2    Tbl           Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup           Eggplant, sm dice
  • 1/2 cup           Broccoli, chopped (and/or zucchini, sm dice)
  • 1/2 cup           Sugar Snap Peas, thinly sliced
  • 2    ea             Garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup           Kalamata Olives, quartered
  • 1/2 cup           Feta Cheese, crumbled
  • 1 Recipe         Orange Muscat Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

1.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add couscous.  Cook until al dente (as with pasta).  Once it is cooked, strain and cool under running water.  Place in a bowl to await the rest of the ingredients.

2.  While the couscous is cooking heat a fry pan over medium heat.  Add the olive oil, eggplant, broccoli, and sugar snap peas.  Cook until vegetables are soft but still have a little crunch, then add garlic and cook for about 1 minute.

3.  Take the vegetables off heat and add to cooling couscous.  Add the olive and feta.

4.  Pour about 1/2 the dressing over the couscous, mix everything together and taste, add as much of the dressing as you feel it needs.  As I said above, reserve a little dressing to add right before serving it.

Orange Muscat Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup          Orange Muscat Vinegar (It's a sweet vinegar that I get it at Trader Joe's, but if you can't find any then Rice Wine vinegar is a lovely alternative)
  • 1 Tbl              Lemon Juice (I would use 2 Tbl orange juice instead if I were using Rice Wine vinegar)
  • 1 Tbl              Dijon Mustard
  • 1 ea                Garlic Clove, minced
  • 2 Tbl               Fresh Basil, chiffonade
  • 1 Tbl               Red Onion, minced
  • 1/2 tsp            Salt
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup   Olive Oil
1.  Put vinegar, lemon juice, dijon, garlic, red onion, basil, and salt in a bowl.  Whisk together and then slowly drizzle in the olive oil.  Taste and adjust oil and seasoning before using.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Crab Cakes with Miso Aoli

With crab season upon us it seems imperative for Pacific North Westerners to have a good crab cake recipe on hand.  The key to this recipes is freshness; fresh crab, fresh herbs, and fresh breadcrumbs.  The cakes are moist and meaty and packed with fresh herbs. You can put them on a bed of salad greens or alone with  Miso Aoli.
These delightful morsels also freeze well, making it a perfect meal or appetizer for that hot summer night when you don't even want to think about cooking!

Dungeness Crab Cakes with Miso Aoli

Crab Cakes

Serves 4
  • 1 lb              Shelled Dungeness Crab Meat
  • 1/4 cup        Fresh herbs, chopped (dill, parsley, chives) 
  • 1/2 cup        Mayonnaise
  • 1 ea              Egg
  • 1 tsp             Garlic, finely minced and mashed (or just use a garlic press)
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp    Salt 
  • 1/2 cup         Fresh Bread Crumbs (take a few slices of your favorite bread and pulse in a food processor.  If this isn't an option feel free to use Panko or other store bought bread crumbs)
  • 2 Tbl             Olive or Vegetable oil
  • 1 recipe        Miso Aoli (recipe follows)

1.  Squeeze out all the moisture from the crab and put in a bowl.  Add the herbs (I use dill, parsley, and chives but there are many other herbs that would be wonderful in this recipe), mayonnaise, egg, garlic, salt, and the bread crumbs.

2.  Mix everything until just together being careful to not break up the larger chunks of crab meat.

3.  Once all the ingredient are together scoop out a small amount, form into a patty, and use as a tester.  At this point you may have to adjust the mayonnaise or bread crumbs if the patty is too wet or too dry.  Heat a non-stick pan with about 1 tsp of oil and cook the cake on medium low heat until golden brown on both sides.  You should be able to use tongs to turn the cake over.  If it falls apart you may need to add a little more mayonnaise.  Taste the tester and adjust seasonings as needed.

4.  Now you are ready to make the rest of your cakes.  If you have a portion scoop it will make things much easier.  I use a #12, a 1/3 cup portion, which should give you about 8 crab cakes.  Scoop out your portions and then loosely shape them into patties.

5.  At this point you can freeze or cook them.  If you are going to freeze them I suggest placing them on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat and letting them freeze, then put them in a labeled ziplock for storage.

6.  If you are going to cook them immediately heat a non-stick pan over medium low heat.  Add the oil and cook on each side for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown.  Take off the heat and put on a plate with a paper towel to take off excess oil.  Plate and serve with Miso Aoli.

Miso Aoli

This very simple recipe is based on one from a restaurant where I used to work.  We used it with  many different dishes as it makes a wonderful dipping sauce for many things.  I sometimes like to add a little extra rice wine vinegar and olive oil and turn it into a salad dressing.

  • 2 Tbl           Miso Paste
  • 1 tsp            Sambal
  • 1 1/2 Tbl      Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbl            Sherry
  • 2-3 ea          Garlic Clove, crushed
  • 2 Tbl            Cilantro 
  • 1 Tbl            Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp          Honey
  • 1 cup            Mayonnaise

1.   Put all the ingredients except the mayonnaise into a blender or food processor and blend until you have a homogeneous mixture.

2.  Put the mayonnaise in a bowl and pour your mixture over the top.  Stir everything together and then you are ready to serve!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Hello and welcome to Cook's Whimsy's first recipe.  Since tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo, I thought that a Mexican theme might be the way to go.  Given that we are supposed to have a sunny day, what would be better than to take it to the grill?!
I'm going to apologize right now about using approximate amounts.  I find that recipe amounts depend greatly on my audience and on how big of eaters they might be!

Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Sour Cream Guacamole

Serves 4
  • 1- 1 1/2 lb Shrimp of your favorite size, peeled and deveined
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large Lime, juice and zest
  • Cayenne pepper, a dash (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 Corn tortillas
  • 1/4 Cabbage, Shredded
  • 1-2 Tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup Cotija Cheese, crumbled
  • Sour Cream Guacamole (recipe follows)
  1. In a bowl toss the shrimp with the garlic, lime juice and zest, and cayenne pepper (if you want some heat). Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes to marinate.
  2. In the meantime get everything else ready.  Shred the cabbage, dice the tomatoes, crumble the cotija, and prepare the guacamole.  This way once the shrimp is cooked you can put your taco together right away.
  3. After the shrimp have marinated skewer them.  You cam use either metal or bamboo skewers, but if you use bamboo make sure that you soak the skewers in water while the shrimp are marinating.  Once you have everything together, salt and place the shrimp on a very hot barbecue.  They will take about 3-4 minutes, just until they turn pink.
  4. Once the shrimp are done I like to lightly grill the corn tortillas to soften them.  You can either brush a little olive oil on them or grill them dry.  I find a cooler portion of the grill and place the tortillas on until they start to wilt.  This will make them nice and pliable.
  5. You are now ready to build your tacos.  Take your tortilla and lay down the shrimp, top with cabbage (if you like add a squeeze of lime juice here), tomatoes, guacamole and sprinkle the cotija on top.  Sit down and enjoy!
Sour Cream Guacamole
  • 2 Avocados
  • 1/4 cup Sour Cream
  • 1/4 tsp Cumin
  • 1/2- 1 Lime, juiced
  • Salt to taste
  1. Mash the avocado in a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir until mixed.