the Horn Farm Paste Mob


strawberry goat cheese pie

From the LA Times (rewritten here in a more sensible order). It was amazing.

CRUST:

a. Make a standard cookie crust or see below.

FILLING:

3 cups whole strawberries
5 ounces goat cheese
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon chopped tarragon

b. Whip the goat cheese in a mixer or food processor until light. Add the milk and beat to blend. Add the tarragon and stir to mix.

c. Spread the cheese mixture evenly in the bottom of the pie crust.

d. Cut the stems off the berries and arrange them, pointed side up, on the goat cheese, covering the entire surface of the pie. Set aside.

GLAZE:

3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/2cup water
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1 cup sliced strawberries

e. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, water and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then add the sliced strawberries and continue to cook until thickened, about 5 to 7 minutes. Pour the hot glaze over the pie. Refrigerate until the glaze sets, about 4 to 6 hours.

SUGGESTED CRUST:

1 1/2 cups almond biscotti, pecan shortbread or butter cookie crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted

If you have whole cookies, turn them into crumbs with a food processor or by putting them in a Ziploc and crushing with a rolling pin.

Place the cookie crumbs in a small bowl. Add the sugar and melted butter and toss with a fork until blended. Pat the crumbs evenly onto the sides and bottom of a 9-inch pie plate. Chill 30 minutes.

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poached salmon with watercress mayonnaise

From Epicurious, more or less. It is awesome.

1/2 cup mayonnaise [1]
1/3 cup finely chopped watercress leaves
2 teaspoons coarse-grained Dijon mustard
2/3 teaspoon lime juice [2]

1/3 cup water
1/3 cup white cooking wine
1 shallot, thinly sliced
4 fresh parsley sprigs [3]
1 fresh thyme sprig [3]
1 1/4 pounds salmon fillet

Mix first 4 ingredients in small bowl to blend; season to taste with salt and pepper.

Combine water, wine, shallot, parsley, and thyme in large skillet. Place salmon fillets, skin side down, in skillet; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover skillet tightly and simmer over medium-low heat until salmon is barely opaque in center, about 10 minutes. [4] Remove from heat; let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Transfer salmon to plate. [5] Serve with mayonnaise.

Notes:

[1] This is 2/3 the sauce and half the fish of the original. It made a nice dinner for two people with slight leftovers this way.

[2] The original wanted lemon juice, but we had lime and it turned out well.

[3] We used dried herbs and guessed heedlessly about the equivalences. I think the ratio of parsley to thyme was probably more like 1:1 than 4:1.

[4] The first time I made this, we started it on medium-low heat, which meant it took about 8 minutes to even reach a simmer, and another not-quite-ten to cook through. The second time, we had it on high heat until it boiled, then reduced it to simmer low, and the results were chewier. The first way was better AND it boiled off enough of the liquid that the soggy herbs + shallot could be scraped up and used as an additional topping for contrast.

[5] Only once we were about to dig in did we notice the original recipe said to chill the fish for four hours and serve cold. Screw that! The temperature contrast between mayonnaise and fish was one of the things I liked about this.

Separating watercress leaves from stalks is finicky work, but overall this is a very quick recipe for two people.

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tilapia with mean mustard paste

Recipe, adapted from here by tripling the amount of sauce:

2 (6 ounce) fresh tilapia fillets
1 teaspoon tablespoon spicy brown mustard [actually, we used Grey Poupon, the kind with seeds]
1 teaspoon tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon tablespoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon tablespoon fine Italian bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter or oil a baking dish and bake the fillets in it for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, stir together everything else except the bread crumbs.

After 10 minutes of baking, spread paste on fillets and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Continue baking for another 5 minutes until topping is bubbly and golden.

Okay, so we tripled all the amounts in the topping because it seemed like even so it would make such a tiny amount of sauce. And it did! But man, it was more than enough. This had a STRONG flavor. Had we used the amount suggested, the layer of paste perhaps would have been thin enough to bubble or crust over; that didn’t happen, which may also have affected how it tasted.

Still, I liked this a lot. If cooking the sauce through is important, I would rather apply the paste earlier in baking than decrease the amount. On the other hand, I like food that wakes me up. The taste was complex enough that I think it would still be interesting for someone who made it as originally written because they wanted less punch.

Also, note that the only prep any ingredient requires is that the cheese has to be grated. This was very low effort for how interesting it tasted.

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neatloaf!

Rowan took me to a vegetarian restaurant in San Francisco run by disciples of Sri Chinmoy, a reasonably jovial guru who could be seen lifting sheep on a back-wall TV screen throughout our meal. Rowan then offered me some neatloaf from her plate, and it only took one bite to realize that her advance praise of neatloaf was not exaggeration. She also mentioned that a friend of ours had tried to reverse-engineer it, but couldn’t figure out all of the ingredients.

On returning, I mentioned all this to Rosa, who thought to search the web for recipes. She found this, which was fully weird enough to make me suspect it was Sri Chinmoy’s real recipe, presumably stolen by the forces of darkness to keep money out of Chinmoy’s pocket.

We made it last night, and while it wasn’t perfect– I remember the restaurant’s version being slightly less moist, with more of a crust on the outside– it was delicious, and eerily like what we had eaten in Dan Francisco. My only complaint was the sauce’s sweetness; less-sugary ketchup and maybe a longer baking time are the only changes I plan to make next time. And oh, there will be a next time.

Here’s the recipe as posted at Recipe Link; strike-throughs and italics represent our changes. We realized afterward that the amounts will come out a little nicer if you multiply everything by 1.5, though if your store doesn’t sell ricotta and tofu in convenient quantities (why *14* ounces?) there’s less point in doing so.

LOAF:
4 eggs
2/3 envelope Lipton Onion Soup Mix (the whole packet measures 1/4 cup, so use slightly less or use the whole packet if you like the onion soup mix taste) – for vegetarian version substitute dry soup mix without beef bouillion [Wait, is normal Lipton Onion Soup Mix not vegetarian? Is Sri Chinmoy's neatloaf not vegetarian? We used something called Lipton Recipe Secrets that was beefless but came in larger packets. 2/3 of 1/4 cup is 1/6 cup, for what it's worth.]
1/3 LB low-fat ricotta cheese
1/3 LB firm tofu (mashed into small pieces)
1/4 cup vegetable oil of choice olive oil
1/3 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup cooked brown rice brown rice, cooked
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. rosemary (fresh is good)
4 cups (dry measured) Special K (note: this approximately equals 4 oz or 113 grams of the cereal by weight)
1 1/2 tbsp. chopped garlic

SAUCE:
1/2 cup ketchup
1/8 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup molasses
1/8 cup to 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (to taste)
Pinch cayenne ground pepper (to taste)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Saute onions and garlic until onions are translucent. [We did this in extra oil, leaving the 1/4 cup to be an ingredient on its own. The loaf ended up moist enough that I suspect we were wrong, not that it was a problem.]

Beat eggs in a bowl, and then add all other ingredients (from LOAF block) except the Special K, which you should crumble in a separate bowl. Mix well and then add fold in the Special K last. Put in pan that is sprayed with cooking oil coated lightly with butter.

Bake for 1 hour. While it bakes, mix all the sauce ingredients together. Pour sauce over loaf after 1 hour, and bake for 10 more minutes. Serves 4.

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sweet potato quesadillas

Adapted slightly from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home. Very tasty; still good when lukewarm or reheated (making them excellent for potlucks and/or leftover snacking).

1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
4 cups grated peeled sweet potato
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
generous pinch of cayenne
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

8 tortillas (8- to 10-inch)
tomato salsa
sour cream

Saute the onions and garlic in the vegetable oil until the onions are translucent. Add the grated sweet potatoes, oregano, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne and cook, covered, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, until the potato is tender. Moosewood thought this would take 10 minutes; in my experience, it’s more like an hour. Maybe one is intended to crank the heat up much higher than I’m usually willing to (especially if I’m trying to make something else at the same time and can’t stir constantly). Or maybe they’re settling for less-smooth filling than I prefer.

Add salt and pepper to taste and remove the filling from the heat. Spread one-eighth of the filling and 2 tablespoons of the cheese on each tortilla, keeping the mixture all one one half of the tortilla, and never less than an inch from the edge. Fold the empty half of the tortilla over and cook a few minutes per side in an oiled skillet. Cut each quesadilla into thirds with kitchen scissors and serve immediately, topped with salsa and sour cream.

You can add goat cheese for extra richness, but you still need the cheddar, to melt and keep the quesadilla closed.

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cashew-encrusted haddock with lemon-dill butter

I tried more mediocre nut-encrusted fish recipes before finding this one than I have with any other category of dish I set out to make something from. (Admittedly, that number isn’t too large; I think there were 2 or 3 flops.) With a few changes in the main ingredients, this Epicurious recipe was fantastic. I like neither horseradish nor parsley, normally, but here they just… work. I’m totally making this for Thanksgiving.

4 6-ounce sea bass fillets [we used haddock]
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs made from crustless French bread [we used store-bought crumbs]
3/4 cup walnuts (about 3 ounces) [we used cashews]
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 1/2 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 3/4 ounce)
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
4 teaspoons olive oil

3/4 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons chopped shallot
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan. Arrange fillets in prepared pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix breadcrumbs and walnuts cashews in processor. Using on/off turns, process until nuts are finely chopped. [Maybe because store-bought bread crumbs are so tiny, I prefer the texture you get by crushing the nuts in a Ziploc with a rolling pin. This makes the topping recognizably nutty rather than just a coarse paste.] Transfer to bowl. Mix in butter, horseradish and mustard. Stir in cheese and parsley. Gently press crumb mixture onto fillets. Drizzle 1 teaspoon olive oil over each. [I couldn't get this to go on in a remotely even fashion-- my drizzling technique is poor-- and I'm not sure what purpose it serves. Also note that if you use haddock, it'll probably be more like 2 tsp per fillet.] Bake until fillets are cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Boil wine, shallot and lemon juice in medium saucepan over high heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 6 minutes. [Unlike most recipe-site estimates of reduction time, this was about right!] Reduce heat to low; add butter, 1 piece at a time, whisking until melted before adding more. [Once I was impatient and just dropped the whole stick in to melt. It seemed okay.] Remove pan from heat. Stir in dill. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat broiler. Broil fish until crust is golden, watching closely to avoid burning, about 2 minutes. [In my broiler, the top always burns a little and the thinnest bits on the side are undercooked. It's still delicious. I was surprised how many of the crumbs you can blacken without making it taste bad.] Transfer to plates. Serve fish with sauce.

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fish korma

I just found this recipe. I apparently made some notes without ever posting it, but it was tasty enough that I still remember liking it, so here it is. (It was, in fact, the first homemade Indian food I’ve had that tasted like restaurant food, whether or not that’s a good standard to use.)

750 g fish fillets [we used a tiny bit more - 1.75 lbs]
lemon juice
1 ts salt
1 ts black pepper
1 ts ground turmeric
oil for frying
1 lg onion, finely sliced
1 md onion, roughly chopped
1 ts chopped garlic
1 tb chopped fresh ginger
3 fresh red chilies [we used 1/4 of a Thai chili pepper]
2 tb blanched almonds [we used cashews]
1 tb white poppy seeds (optional) [we left this out]
2 ts ground cumin
2 ts ground coriander
1/4 ts ground cardamom
1/4 ts ground cinnamon
small pinch ground cloves
1/4 ts saffron strands [we left this out]
2 tb boiling water
1/2 c natural yogurt
salt to taste
2 tb chopped fresh coriander [we left this out]

Wash and dry fish, cut into large serving pieces [we used smaller pieces] and rub with lemon juice, salt, pepper and turmeric [we combined those things first]. Heat oil in a frying pan for shallow frying and on high heat, brown the fish quickly on both sides. Lift out on to a plate. In the same oil fry the sliced onion until golden brown, remove and set aside. [As printed, the recipe never puts the onion back in! I think they must have meant "remove pan from heat" here, not "remove onion from pan".]

Put chopped onion, garlic, ginger, chilies, almonds, poppy seeds into a blender jar and puree. If necessary add a little water. Add ground spices and blend once more, briefly.

Pour off all but about 2 Tbl oil from pan and fry the blended mixture until colour changes and it gives out a pleasant aroma. [There was no excess oil in the first place, so we used 2 Tbsp of new oil. They're not kidding about the aroma, though; it suddenly smelled good after a few minutes' frying.] The mixture should be stirred constantly while frying and care taken that it does not stick to the pan and burn. Add 1/2 cup water to blender container and swirl out any remaining spice mixture. Add to pan.

Pound saffron strands in mortar and pestle, add boiling water and stir, add to mixture in pan. Add yoghurt, stir and simmer gently for a few minutes, then add fish pieces, turning them carefully in the sauce. Add salt to taste. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, then sprinkle with fresh coriander and serve hot with rice.

(Posted to TNT – Prodigy’s Recipe Exchange Newsletter by “I. Chaudhary” on Apr 27, 1997.)

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perch Veracruzana

From Epicurious:

1 pound onions (2 medium), chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 to 1 whole jalapeno or serrano pepper, seeded and minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
8 large Spanish or Italian green olives, pitted and chopped
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons capers, chopped if large (tiny ones can be left whole)
2 1/2 cups peeled canned low-sodium tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 pounds red snapper, sea bass, halibut, or cod
Juice of 1 lime

In a nonstick pan, saute the onions in hot oil until they begin to soften and color. When they color, add the garlic and jalapeno and cook for 30 seconds.

Add the oregano, olives, cinnamon, and capers to the onion mixture and stir. Squeeze the tomatoes between your fingers and add, with the bay leaf. Simmer for 10 minutes. Refrigerate.

To serve, wash the fish and squeeze the lime juice over it. Refrigerate for no more than 1 hour.

Reheat the sauce slowly. Arrange the fish in a large skillet, spoon the sauce over it, and cook according to the Canadian rule: measure the fish at its thickest part and allow 8 to 10 minutes to the inch. Remove the bay leaf and serve the fish with its sauce over boiled potatoes or rice.

Our substitutions were minor: Thai red pepper for jalapeno, a mixture of black and Kalamata olives for green ones, and perch for the fish. Also, the tomatoes were already diced, so if there’s so magic to squeezing them, as the recipe requests, we missed out.

How much you cook onions is a matter of taste, of course, but we took ‘begin to color’ as meaning translucency, figuring they’d cook more as the sauce simmered, and they didn’t really. I would have sauteed them longer for less crunchiness.

When we put the fish fillets into the saucepan, they immediately curled up into arch shapes, with the center ridge of each fillet almost an inch above the pan along its whole length. Why did that happen? Skipping the refrigeration? Some quirk of perch skin? Leaving the lime juice on too long beforehand? (The surface of the fish visibly started to ‘cook’ from the acid.) The fish required substantial abuse before it would lie flat enough to cook somewhat evenly.

Fish texture aside, this tasted good. I fell in love with this kind of sauce at Ole in Inman Square, and I know I’ve made it once before with even better results; I wish I could find that recipe. Perch is not an exciting fish, which is fine on the face of it, but I think a slightly different kind of not-exciting might have meshed better. Some restaurant (Naked Fish?) made it with grouper, and that worked. Where does one buy grouper?

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Au Bon Pain ideal sandwich

Now that I’ve had the same sandwich for lunch on 25 of the past 28 Tuesdays, I want to share the excitement with people other than my coworkers.

I am aware that the standard penalty for posting to the internet about what you ate for lunch is that now, anyone who has ever done anything interesting with their lives, ever, has the right to kick me in the head. I accept that risk.

The ideal sandwich is an a la carte construction from Au Bon Pain’s sandwich menu: tuna salad, rosemary focaccia, herb mayonnaise, tomato, goat cheese.

It seems like it should be too many flavors, but it isn’t. I actually used to get cranberry Wensleydale in place of the goat cheese, but while the cranberries worked, the chalky Wensleydale overrode the mayonnaise more than goat cheese does.

This sandwich never fails to make me completely happy. Once I got sick and could barely eat for four days; the ideal sandwich tempted me back to the world of substantial food.

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poached salmon with peppercorn-ginger-orange sauce

SALMON:
2 C water
1 C dry white wine
4 slices fresh ginger, scraped with a knife [why?]
1 Tbsp black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
3-4 lbs salmon fillet(s) [we used much less]

SAUCE:
1/2 C sour cream
1/4 C mayonnaise
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1.5 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp grated orange zest [we used blood orange]
2 Tbsp orange juice [ditto]
1.5 Tbsp green peppercorns [we used capers]
1/2 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar

Combine in a saucepan everything from the “SALMON” block except for the fish itself. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Put the salmon skin-side down in a buttered baking dish and salt to taste. Pour in the wine mixture and cover tightly with foil, then bake at 400F for 20-25 minutes to poach.

While the fish cooks, whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce and let sit to mix flavors. Serve part A with part B.


The recipe we worked from, here, was awfully picky. For one example, the peppercorns are supposed to be “bruised”; for another, it specifies that after being mixed the sauce should stand “for 20 minutes to let the flavors develop”. I’m sure this is a good idea, but prescribing that the sauce stand for exactly as long as the fish cooks seems gratuitously troublesome. How about 15 minutes instead? And how crucial is it that the liquid cool for exactly 5 minutes after boiling? Who knows? The preciousness of some instructions gave us a boy/wolf problem with others.

We were unsure whether poaching required that the liquid definitely cover the fish entirely, or definitely NOT cover it entirely, or what. Since we had only half the suggested fish, it was quite submerged; it ended up excellently moist but not all that strongly flavored by wine/ginger/pepper. If the heat vaporizes some of the flavors out of the liquid, would having some fish exposed directly to the steam have made it stronger?

The sauce was strong enough that both M and I took a minute to decide whether we liked it, but we did. The sugar seemed completely unnecessary, even with tart blood-orange juice substituted for the regular stuff. I might have gone without the capers too, though I think M liked them (whereas I happily ate the baked-to-softness black peppercorns and she skipped those).

Notwithstanding the sugar and the decision not to halve the rest of the recipe for half the fish (which we should have), this recipe goes on the List.

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