M. Andrew Gordon

Archive for the ‘Side Dishes’ Category

Building a better beet salad…with bacon

In Appetizers, Side Dishes on March 4, 2011 at 9:24 am

This salad combines so many things I love: beets, bacon, smoked cheese, maple syrup, peppery greens.  Salads don’t have to be complicated at all and often I like things simple, say, watercress with some thinly sliced red onion and a simple vinaigrette.  But this salad is, comparatively, a bear to make, if only because it requires roasting of the beets and the baby artichokes.  But the results are worth it.

Baby artichokes have one real advantage over their larger brethren – they can be eaten whole.  Of course, you can’t eat them whole as you buy them.  To prepare baby artichokes to cook, peel off the outer leaves until you have revealed the light green and soft leaves inside.  Trim the stem end and slice the tips off the leaves. At this point, the artichokes either need to be cooked or rubbed with lemon juice as they will brown very quickly.  If you thought apples browned quickly, you haven’t seen anything yet.

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Pickled, or soused, salmon

In Dinner Party, Main Dish, Sauces, Seafood, Side Dishes on February 7, 2011 at 8:30 pm

As I went into the planning phase of last Saturday’s dinner, I kept coming back to a common theme: pickling.  It’s been a hot culinary topic of late, with numerous local restaurants offering house made pickles.  I have also been reading Momufuku, the eponymous book by chef David Chang, and there are a number of delicious looking pickle recipes in that book.  Chang is a fascinating chef and a real proponent of pickling.  In addition, I have been spending my spare time at Lena’s apartment reading East Coast Grill’s Chris Schlesinger’s book Quick Pickles which immediately won me over when I read about a pickled rhubarb that is recommended as an accompaniment for soft shell crab.  So pickling has been fascinating me of late.

One dish that I had been thinking about was a soused fish.  Generally, it is a white fish that is braised in a pickling liquid and or fried and then set in a pickle brine for some amount of time.  Neither of these were quite what I was looking for so, after consulting with the good folks at New Deal Fish Market when I was picking up the fish, I decided to brine some salmon, serve it over celery root puree, and top it with salt-pickled cranberries inspired by a recipe in Momufuku.  Sadly, it was so delicious I forgot to take a picture!  The dish was paired with Blue Point Brewing Toasted Lager, a fairly low alcohol lager with a nice crisp hop finish.

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Salmon with Cannellini Beans and Citrus Salad

In Main Dish, Side Dishes on January 15, 2011 at 8:34 pm

One of my favorite pairings with salmon for a long time has been cannellini beans.  Often confused with navy beans or Great Northerns, cannellinis are kidney-shaped with a thin skin and have a pleasant nutty flavor and retain their shape pretty well.  I find the flavor is a nice foil to the assertively sweet flavor of salmon or trout.  In the past I’ve cooked the beans with garlic and onion, but the other night I was thinking about essentially just heating them and adding garlic and onion that had already been cooked.

Starting with a good dose of olive oil, I slowly cooked the garlic and onion over low heat so that the oil just barely simmered.  I added some crushed red pepper for a shot of heat and a slice of Meyer lemon for a little acidity and sweetness in one shot.  For those unfamiliar with the Meyer lemon, I think they are completely worth tracking down for their somewhat unique flavor.  Essentially, it’s a lemon you don’t mind eating.

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Grilled Cole Slaw

In Side Dishes on November 3, 2010 at 7:56 am

Autumn in New England is a wonderful time for culinary explorations as there is a great wealth of food that is at, or at least still near, its peak. Squashes, pumpkins, apples, cranberries, Brussels sprouts and kale are all quite good right now.  If you’re lucky enough to hunt or know someone who hunts, the prospect of obtaining quality, fresh venison, duck, goose, or other game increases.  But there is a bitterness underlying the good fortune as there looms a long winter without a preponderance of fresh fruits and vegetables.  Thankfully, many squashes and root vegetables will keep through the winter and there are always dried beans and canned or preserved goods to turn to.  But I like to take advantage of the last remnants of truly fresh produce in the region and the cole crops such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, and broccoli are prime suspects.  They are usually hardy through light frosts though a hard frost will ruin them.

This salad was born from simply needing to provide a side dish for a late season barbecue.  Thankfully, it’s remarkably simple if you omit the poached cranberries, though you will then need to make the dressing from scratch.  Grilling the cabbage softens the texture and the pears become lightly caramelized, making them just a little bit sweeter.  If you do not poach the cranberries, I would recommend adding a handful of sweetened dried cranberries in their place.

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Japonesa squash ravioli

In Dinner Party, Main Dish, Side Dishes on October 27, 2010 at 6:51 pm

I have written at great length about my love of the abobora japonesa, a wonderful specimen of squash, its warty green skin hiding the stunningly delicious interior.  It offers a more intense squash flavor than butternut with a dense texture similar to a buttercup squash.  Unlike many squashes, it can really stand on its own with little help from butter, brown sugar, maple, etc.  When I conceived this dinner, born on the idea of crafting a ravioli from scratch, the japonesa came to mind immediately as offering a unique filling for the ravioli.

To round out the filling, I knew I would want some other flavors (despite the squash’s inherent deliciousness) and would need something to thin out the texture for ease of filling the ravioli.  Caramelized onion provides additional sweetness and depth; fromage blanc, a simple fresh cheese, gives the filling a more creamy texture; chile and cumin powders give some heat and spice; and a touch of porter (just add beer!) lends some additional caramel notes.  It just so happened that there was a growler, or 64 ounce bottle, of Cambridge Brewing Company’s Charles River Porter in my fridge and as I poured myself a glass, the proverbial light bulb went off in my head: a small addition of porter would really be good in the squash filling!

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Three Salads

In Side Dishes on September 8, 2010 at 7:36 pm

There is probably little to be said here – below are three salads that serve well as side dishes.  One is a variation on the perennial favorite potato salad.  I like to roast my potatoes, giving the salad a greater depth than most boiled potato versions.  The dressing is simple, playing off the herbs and trying not to drown the potato in a mess of mayonnaise or bludgeon it with vinegar.

Another is a paean to late summer produce, combining the sweetness of corn and peaches in a dressing that manages to just capture the two predominant flavors.  I combine raw corn, because I like the texture and sugary flavor with cooked corn, which has a more mellow sweet note.  In another variation on that salad, I added chopped tomato and smoked mozzarella to great effect.   In other words, it is a versatile canvas for other flavors.

The final salad was a last minute side dish on an early September weeknight.  I wanted something that pulled together quickly.  By shredding the Brussel’s sprouts and the carrots, they cook very quickly and the cranberry-chipotle syrup was leftover from fried chicken and waffles the night before.  The syrup is more of a sauce, though, and actually would form the basis of a killer salad dressing.

Roasted Potato Salad

Serves 8

  • 2 lbs potatoes, washed and cut into ½ inch pieces
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 stalk celery, strings removed and chopped
  • 1 small red pepper, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (basil, chives, thyme, sage)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.  Toss potatoes with oil and salt and pepper.  Roast for 35-40 minutes, turning pan once and stirring potatoes every 10 minutes.
  2. Place potatoes in a bowl and add celery and pepper.
  3. In separate bowl, combine mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, herbs, and lemon juice.  Pour over potatoes and toss to coat.

Variation:   Cook 6 ounces of bacon until crisp.  Let cool and crumble over potatoes.

Corn-and-Peach Salad

Serves 8

  • 8 ears corn, husked
  • 4 medium peaches, peeled, pitted, and chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Cut kernels from corn and divide in half.  Over one bowl, scrape all eight ears to release juice.  Heat a cast iron or stainless skillet over high heat.  Add the half of the kernels that did not have the corn juice.  Cook until well-charred, stirring often, and remove.
  2. Add butter and half the lime juice to skillet, stirring to break up any brown bits.  Pour over the cooked corn and let cool, about 5 minutes.
  3. In large bowl, combine raw corn, cooked corn, peaches, and red pepper.  In smaller bowl, combine mayonnaise, vinegar, cumin, chile powder, basil, and remaining lime juice.  Season with salt and pepper and pour over corn mixture.  Stir to coat serve.

Brussel’s Sprout-Carrot Salad

  • 2 cups shredded Brussel’s sprouts
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons cranberry-chipotle syrup
  1. Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat.  Add Brussel’s sprouts and carrots and stir to coat.  Let cook for 8 minutes, stirring regularly.
  2. Add cranberry-chipotle syrup and continue cooking for 2-4 minutes.  Serve.

Cranberry-Chipotle Syrup

Makes 2 ½ cups

  • 2 cups dried cranberries
  • 2 cups water
  • ¾ cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 heaping tablespoon chipotle puree
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  1. Combine cranberries, water, honey, vinegar, and chipotle in a sauce pan and place over medium heat.  Cook for 20 minutes, until cranberries are very soft and liquid has reduced by half.
  2. Add the butter and continue cooking until melted.  Let cool slightly, transfer to blender or food processor, and puree.

Beet Greens

In Appetizers, Side Dishes on June 30, 2010 at 8:13 am

Swiss Chard

Beet Greens

Counter to the Mango-Avocado-Jicama Salad is this dish, a simple presentation of baby beet greens and young chard.  I was at my parent’s house and was looking at my mother’s garden when she remarked how the beets needed to be thinned.  I quickly volunteered to take the young beet greens, all sorts of visions of tasty salads percolating in my mind.  The tender greens had just the faintest hint of a beet beginning to grow within the dirt and when washed, I realized that I would be eating the entire plant.  At the same time, my mother had grabbed some young Swiss chard from her neighbor who had been pleading with her to take some.  I was now picturing chard and beet greens in one salad.

My first task was to create a proper dressing.  I had a container of pepitas, or shucked pumpkin seeds, that I had been meaning to do something with.  What would happen, I wondered, if I simmered a bunch of the seeds in oil?  Would the oil take on some of their nutty flavors?  Sure enough it does and by sprinkling just a hint of curry powder in the hot oil, the result is a particularly flavorful oil.  And the best byproduct was puffed, crunchy pepitas, which would be a perfect garnish.  Then again, if you have pumpkin seed oil, you could just use that.

After tasting the seasoned oil, it seemed apparent that I wouldn’t need anything else to dress the salad with.  This would complement the greens and create a very simple, minimalist salad.  As I ate this, it dawned on me that I would have been plenty happy leaving the chard out all together and as such, the recipe reflects that change.  The beet greens, with thoroughly immature beets still attached, have an interesting earthy flavor.  When dressed with the curried-pumpkin seed oil and garnished with the fried pumpkin seeds, the nuttiness of the seeds and the earthiness of the greens provides a very refreshing salad.

The Salad

Beet Green Salad

  • 1 large bunch beet greens
  • 1/4 cup neutral-flavored oil
  • 1/3 cup pepitas
  • Pinch chile powder
  • Pinch curry powder
  • Salt and Pepper
  1. Wash beet greens and dry thoroughly.  Over medium heat, warm oil and add pepitas.  Stir regularly, so that pepitas begin to brown and just start to pop.  Stir in chile and curry powders.
  2. Using slotted spoon, transfer pepitas to paper towel to dry.  Let oil cool.  Toss beet greens with oil, add pepitas, and season with salt and pepper.

The Non-Locavore Salad (unless you live in Central America)

In Side Dishes on June 28, 2010 at 8:50 pm

It’s funny.  I wholeheartedly endorse eating by seasons and sourcing local produce.  The adventure of eating only what’s in season (at least during the summer months in Massachusetts – things can be a little bleak in March) churns some interesting creations out of surplus zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes, and cucumbers.  It’s a continuing challenge for several months.  The following salad is pretty much the antithesis of eating local in Massachusetts.

Sure, all the produce had to travel many thousands of miles to wind up on my kitchen counter, ready for the knife.  But somehow, it only cost me about $4.50 to procure the ingredients.  That this is a state of affairs that is wholly ridiculous, completely symptomatic of a societal culture in the U.S., and certainly can not continue into perpetuity should be obvious to most everyone (though I doubt that it is).  However, it’s delicious, and god damn it, I’m going to take advantage of it while I can.

Here, you’ve got the sweetness of a mango – though it is better to get them slightly under-ripened here because the sweetness is not quite so powerful, something like a slightly underripe peach, where there is still a hint of tartness.  The creamy texture and mellow flavor of the avocado plays off the sweet-tart mango.  And the jicama adds a pleasant crunch.  The dressing is simply lime juice, honey, and rice wine vinegar spiked with garlic and ginger.

Mango-Avocado-Jicama Salad

  • 1 mango, peeled and chopped
  • 2 avocados, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 jicama, peeled and shredded (use coarse box grater)
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  1. Combine mango, avocado, jicama, red onion, and chile in bowl. In separate bowl, combine ginger, garlic, vinegar, lime juice, and honey.  Whisk to combine, season with salt and pepper.
  2. Pour dressing over fruit and toss to combine.  Serve immediately.

Grilled Shrimp with Coconut Risotto

In Main Dish, Seafood, Side Dishes on June 5, 2010 at 5:16 am

On Monday I was hanging out at my parent’s house and decided that rather than get stuck in any traffic meandering back from the Cape toward Boston in the haze of Quebecois smoke, it would be just as easy to stay the afternoon and eat dinner at their house.  We took a quick assessment of what we had available and decided to grill shrimp and corn and serve it alongside some rice.  Sounded easy enough.

The whole meal

Grilling shrimp is probably the easiest thing to cook, right alongside toast and grilled cheese.  Once they hit the heat of a grill, it takes a matter of minutes before you know they’re done.  And those little crustaceans also turn pink, letting you know when they’ve finished cooking.  Grilling corn is one of the highlights of the summer season for me, resulting in pleasantly charred cobs that are never soggy.  My biggest pet peeve about corn is when it has been boiled in a pot of water and left to sit.  It’s repulsive, turning perfectly good corn into something that I expect to be poured out of a can sixteen years after nuclear war has left me huddled in a bunker.  In the past I have grilled corn directly on the grill, wrapped bare cobs in foil, and pulled back the husks, removed the silk, and tied the husks back over the corn.  They all work and they all have the shortcomings.  The naked corn gets too burned, the foiled cob can get charred or be left too moist, and the pull-back-the-husk method is a nuisance.  On Monday, per Lena’s suggestion, we pulled about half the husks off and threw them right on the grill, the remaining husks and silk still intact.  I was suspicious.  But when time came to try eating the corn, I was amazed at how easily the silk pulled away with the husk, yielding a perfectly grilled ear of corn.  Consider me converted.

For the rice, I wanted to do something a little different.  I had recently made a Mark Bittman recipe for coconut rice using jasmine rice and coconut milk as the only liquid.  But the only rice we had available was Arborio rice so it looked like we were having risotto.  This recipe makes a very nice risotto that is extremely rich while only adding coconut milk and stock to the rice.  The coconut flavor comes through and while tasting a little bit sweet, pairs nicely with the grilled shrimp.

Grilled Shrimp with Coconut Risotto and Grilled Corn

  • 1 lb shrimp, thawed, deveined, and shelled
  • ¼ cup butter (1 stick)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Zest of 1 lime; lime then halved
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 vidalia onion, diced
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 can chicken stock
  • 4 ears corn
  1. Skewer shrimp and set aside.  Combine coconut milk and stock, whisking to combine.
  2. In small saucepan, melt butter over low heat and add garlic and lime zest.  Cook for five minutes, stirring several times.  Squeeze half of lime into pan and stir.
  3. Light grill and let warm.  Arrange coals so that one side of grill is cooler or if using a gas grill, keep one burner unlit to achieve the same thing.
  4. Pull off half of the outer layers of corn husk.  Place corn on grill over the cooler side and cook for 20-25 minutes, rotating every five minutes.
  5. In large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Cook onion until soft and translucent, about 6 to 8 minutes.  Add rice and stir to cover in oil, cooking for about one minute.  Pour about one cup of coconut-stock mixture over rice and stir to combine.  Let cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid has absorbed.  Add about ½ cup of the stock mixture and again let cook, stirring, until liquid is absorbed.  Continue until all liquid is used.
  6. Oil grates on grill and place shrimp skewers on grill.  Brush liberally with melted butter.  Cook for 2 minutes on each side or until shrimp are pink.  Just before pulling off the grill, squeeze the remaining lime half over shrimp.
  7. Serve shrimp with risotto and corn.

Asparagus – raw and uncut but not unshaved

In Main Dish, Side Dishes on March 29, 2010 at 7:54 pm

Tonight’s recipe owes to a strange confluence of events and things in the pantry.  I had seen some recipes for raw asparagus salads and had been sufficiently intrigued about the prospects.  Having a bunch of asparagus in the refrigerator, I knew that I would try to make a salad with that.  But I didn’t have anything else which I planned to focus the meal on, so I went with the classic combination of eggs and asparagus, which seems to always have poached eggs and cooked asparagus or a frittata with asparagus.  But I imagined a fried egg, sunny-side up, with yolk oozing into the salad.

I had two-thirds of my meal figured out, or at least sketched out, and the final part decided itself the day before.  While browsing through my favorite produce shop yesterday, I came across purple yams and decided I should try them.  So I bought one, which as luck would have it, would be perfect for a side dish here.  I didn’t do anything fancy with the yam, just cut it up, dressed it with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and coriander and roasted it at 375°F for about 25 minutes.  I’ve got to say, I hope I can do some more cooking with the purple yam, which had a very nice sweetness to it, probably more so than the more common yellow sweet potato.

Shaving asparagus seems like a relatively easy thing to accomplish.  And perhaps it is.  But I have to say, it was more of a nuisance than I imagined.  I often use my vegetable peeler to shave carrots into a cole slaw.  I envisioned something similar with the asparagus but it never quite worked out as well.  For the dressing, I mixed together freshly squeezed lemon juice and riesling and let that boil, than I added some Dijon mustard and butter.  Salt and pepper finished the dressing.

Shaved Asparagus Salad with Eggs

  • 1 lb asparagus, shaved
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons Riesling or other fruity, white wine
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 ½ tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh black pepper
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ cup grated Pecorino Romano
  1. Shave asparagus into a medium bowl.  In saucepan, combine lemon juice and Riesling.  Bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half.
  2. Add Dijon and ½ tablespoon of butter to lemon-wine mixture.  Whisk until combined and let sauce cool.
  3. In large non-stick skillet, melt the remaining butter.  Carefully slide eggs into pan to keep the whites from running.  Let cook until whites are nearly set.  Remove from heat.
  4. Pour dressing over asparagus and toss to combine.  Transfer to plates, top with eggs, and sprinkle Pecorino Romano over eggs.  Garnish with freshly ground black pepper if desired.