Saturday, November 28, 2009

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: O Ya: Haute Japanese Cuisine

Some people in life simply eat to live. Others live to eat. Diners at O Ya definitely fit the latter category. Nestled into a former fire station, this Japanese gem has shook up the dining scene in Boston. Frank Bruni's reviewed O Ya as the NYTimes's 2008 Best New Restaurant in the United States, quite an accomplishment for a charming, unassuming restaurant in Boston's Leather District. We arrived for our 9pm reservation a few minutes tardy and were promptly shown to our seats at the chefs' counter.

Like any good foodie, I had spent a few hours pouring over O Ya's menu, as well as reviews on Yelp, Citysearch and numerous publications. Ordering your courses is a significant investment; each course costs between $8 and $38-thus, not a decision to be taken lightly.

The menu is divided up into user-friendly categories; nigiri, sashimi, vegetable, pork, wagyu beef, poulet rouge chicken, truffles & eggs, other stuff, something crunchy in it, salad and soup. Although I would have loved to get items from each category, I couldn't bring myself to order soup&salad at such an inventive place.

Tamago Omelet Roll with Dashi Sauce, Burgundy Truffles, Robiola and Chives


Tamago is a sweet egg omelet. Here, chefs at O Ya prepare it with burgundy truffles, a light and delicate truffle. They are typically served raw and shaved over dishes as a finishing garnish. Dashi is a broth made from bonito flakes-a deep cold water fish, usually skip jack tuna. Robiola cheese is soft, creamy and aromatic. The tamago was a sweet, earthy bite with a savory aftertaste left in your mouth from the dashi.


Shrimp Tempura with a Bacon-Truffle Emulsion, Chive Oil



Tempura is deep fried vegetable or seafood, which is commonly eaten in Japan. An emulsion of truffle and bacon is made by mixing two substances that normally would not go together, such as fat and water, and mixed together until they become viscous, forming an emulsion. The tempura were perfectly crunchy upon biting into them, the bacon-truffle emulsion was delicious-I could eat an entire platter of the tempura, sadly, 2 shrimp were all I experienced.



Peruvian-Style Toro Tuna Tataki with an Aji Panca Sauce and Cilantro Pesto



Toro is an incredibly tender cut from the tuna's belly. In tataki, the outside of the fish is seared (in our case, with a creme brulee torch) for just a few seconds. Aji is a hot chili pepper from Peru. The aji panca sauce was smoky but unfortunately overpowered the fish.


Tea-Brined Fried Pork Ribs with
Hot Sesame Oil, Honey, Scallions


The chefs at O YA first brine these ribs in tea, then fry them, resulting in tender, moist and succulent bit of heaven. With a gentle poke of a chopstick the rib meat fell off the bone. Honey enhances the sweetness of the pork fat and spicy sesame oil complements the meat's richness. This was by far my favorite dish of the night. I could have eaten this meat candy all night long. I think my boyfriend caught my longing gazes (at the ribs, not him!) and offered me up some of his...good boyfriend!


Fried Kumamoto Oysters with Yuzu Kosho Aioli and Squid Ink Bubbles


I have gone through most of my life thinking that I didn't like oysters. Big mistake-turns out, I love fried oysters. The Kumamoto oyster tasted mildly fruity, has a rich, buttery texture and a slight mineral finish. A squid ink foam bubble covered the oyster; below was yuzu kosho-a combination of yuzu, a sour Japanese citrus fruit, and red or green chili peppers and salt, all over nori-wrapped sushi rice. It was a playful bite of crunchy, sweet and salty oyster, foamy squid ink and sour-spicy sauce. It was the kind of bite that makes you go, hmmm, afterwards while your brain deconstructs what just happened.


House Smoked Wagyu with Yuzu Soy


Wagyu refers to several breeds of cattle that are genetically predisposed to yummy-ness-that is, to intense marbling and a high percentage of unsaturated fat (some would argue that actually makes it healthier for you than a typical piece o' meat). It has enhanced tenderness, flavor and juiciness. The smoky beef was velvety, it melted in my mouth like a foie gras. The yuzu soy cut through the fattiness with just a hint of sour. I would definitely come back and try the other wagyu offerings-such as their petit loin with potato confit, sea salt and truffle oil, mmm...

Venison Tataki with Porcini Crema and Ponzu Oil

Venison was thinly sliced and briefly torched, then drizzled with ponzu oil, porcini crema and topped off with microgreens. Ponzu is a sour sauce made of Japanese citrus, soy sauce, vinegar, mirin and dashi. The venison's flavor was mild-not gamey at all, which was my fear, and tender. I felt somewhat underwhelmed, having mentally prepared for a strong flavor; I think that a second try would leave me with a more definitive decision about this dish.


Kyoto Style Enoki Mushrooms with Garlic and Soy


Enoki mushrooms have a mild, delightful flavor and a crunchy texture...and they remind me of spaghetti...or possibly a cute little cuttlefish (now picture a cuttlefish swimming through the ocean....adorable, isn't it?)

Wild Bluefin Maguro Tuna with Soy Braised Garlic and Micro Greens


A mature bluefin tuna can outweigh a pony! That, I certainly did not know before some research. At O Ya, micro is huge. I saw on numerous plates the smallest possible version of a salad I can think of atop various nigiri and sashimi dishes. Supposedly they are much more intensely flavored than normal salad greens-plus they fit much better atop sashimi ;)

Shrimp Sashimi with Golden Caviar...I think!


I didn't eat this dish-it appeared as we were waiting for our last dish, but my what a beauty! I was blown away by the intricate presentation of the dishes at O Ya-every morsel deliberated placed for maximum flavor and visual appeal. Golden caviar garnishes what I believe to be shrimp...anyone out there want to venture a guess at to this little fella's origin?

An hour and a half later, as we finished our meal, not a single table had left, nor had they attempted to acquire their checks. They seemed completely won over by O Ya. After some serious thought, I would declare that I too could fall in love with these small bites with big taste...if I could somehow find a sugar daddy or otherwise wealthy benefactor to pay for the bill (O Ya...oh boy, you are pricey!).

Friday, November 27, 2009

Leftover Turkey, Cranberries and Cheese Panini

I hope that your Thanksgivings went smoothly, tasted delicious and were joyous. Mine went fairly well...mole sauce turned out pretty amazing...if I say so myself (which I do), turkey looks really dark but that is just a little mole, desserts were lovely, zucchini cornbread was savory and a delight. Pretty calm on my end...the way I like most holidays. A safe and happy get together...unlike Tiger Woods. Did anyone else find it odd that he run into a fire hydrant. And then a tree...pulling into (out of?) his driveway? And the police say that alcohol was not a factor. Frankly, I'd feel better if it were a factor-if that is how Tiger drives...I'd feel safe with my 90 year old grandmother behind the wheel! But, I do digress...anyways, here is a simple and elegant way to use up your Thanksgiving leftovers.

To Make 4 Sandwiches:
1/2 lb shredded turkey
Cranberry sauce
4 ounces good quality aged cheddar, such as Dubliner
OR: Brie
OR: fresh goat cheese
1/2 cup baby spinach
8 slices bread
Butter

This sandwich can be eaten cold, but I prefer to use my George Foreman and create nice panini.

Butter 1 side of each slice of bread (these will be the outsides of the panini).

Place cheddar cheese over bread, with turkey and spinach.

Grill until cheese melts and bread develops golden lines from the grill.

Remove from grill and open sandwich. Spread cranberry sauce over the side of sandwich opposite from melted cheese.

Cut panini diagonally into fourths. Serve with a crisp, dry white and a side salad.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pumpkin Mousse


For Pumpkin Mousse:

2 cups roasted pumpkin
1/2 cup maple syrup
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1 envelope Knox gelatin
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup sour cream

Pulse pumpkin flesh in blender with maple syrup, cinnamon and ginger.

Sprinkle gelatin over 1 tablespoon whipping cream and let sit 5 minutes.

Beat whipping cream until peaks form.

Heat up gelatin mixture in pan of water over medium heat until dissolved. Pour into blender and pulse with pumpkin.

Add whipping cream to blender. Pulse until just combined.

Spoon pumpkin-whipped cream mixture into reserved pumpkin shell.

Refrigerate overnight. Serve in ice cream dishes alone or with crumbled gingersnap cookies on top.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cranberry-Applesauce with Candied Ginger

For Cran-Applesauce:
1 12 oz bag cranberries
1 lb apples, cored, peeled and chopped
1 cup sugar (taste, and add more if necessary)
1 cup apple cider
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 cinnamon stick
1/3 cup (about 2 ounces) minced crystallized ginger

Combine apples, cranberries, sugar, apple cider, cinnamon stick, and lemon zest in medium sauce pot.

Cook over medium heat for about 15-20 minutes until apples have softened and cranberries burst open, stirring frequently.

Discard the cinnamon stick & add more sugar to taste if too tart. Stir in chopped candied ginger.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

For Mashed Sweet Potatoes:
4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
1/4 cup evaporated skim milk
1/4 cup low sodium chicken stock
1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Pepper to taste


Cook sweet potatoes in boiling water until tender. Let cool slightly; peel. Mash to desired consistency with maple syrup, cinnamon, milk and chicken stock. Add pepper if you like.

Serve with Turkey with Cashew-Mole.
Drizzle some extra mole sauce over potatoes for a sweet and spicy combination.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ginger Panna Cotta with Cranberry-Blood Orange Sauce



Why have cranberries as your dinner side when you can dress them up a little bit for a fun and spicy dessert? Evaporated milk, lite cream and yogurt lighten up this creamy Italian classic while maintaining the rich flavor that makes panna cotta so irresistible.

For Panna Cotta:
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
1/2 cup lite cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup lowfat Greek vanilla yogurt
1 teaspoon grated ginger, juice reserved

Mix milk (minus 1 tablespoon that you need to save) and cream in saucepan. Add grated ginger. Bring to simmer. Remove from heat. Cover; let steep (cover) 30 minutes. Strain to remove ginger.

Sprinkle gelatin over ginger juice/reserved tablespoon milk. Let stand until gelatin softens, about 10 minutes. Stir sugar and gelatin mixture into milk mixture. Stir over low heat until sugar and gelatin dissolves. Remove immediately from heat. Whisk in vanilla yogurt. Divide among ramekins. Cover; chill until set. It typically needs at least 5 hours to set.

For Cranberry-Blood Orange Sauce:

12 oz fresh or unthawed frozen cranberries
1 cup honey or light brown sugar
Juice from 2 blood oranges, about 1 cup

Use a peeler to remove 2 large strips (about 4 inches long) from 1 orange. In a saucepan of boiling water blanch zest 1 minute and drain in a colander. Chop zest very finely and transfer to a bowl.

In a saucepan bring to a boil juice and sugar/honey, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add cranberries, return to a boil. Simmer for 10-25 minutes or until cranberries burst. Taste for sweetness, add extra sweetener if needed.

Remove from heat and stir in chopped zest. Refrigerate until serving.

Run small knife around panna cotta. Place bottoms of ramekins in bowl of hot water briefly to loosen them. Place plate atop ramekin. Hold plate and ramekin together and flip gently to removed panna cotta.

Serve with a generous helping of Cranberry-Blood Orange Sauce

Turkey with Cashew-Mole Sauce



This mole sauce takes a bit of effort, but it can be made a few days ahead, on Monday, if you are making it for Thanksgiving. If you cannot eat nuts or prefer to leave them out, that's okay-mole sauce varies by each cook's personal preferences and by ingredients available regionally.

For Mole:
2 medium dried ancho chiles, seeded and membranes removed
3-4 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 chipotles in adobo, seeded and diced
4 heads garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 large ripe (black) plantain, cooked
3/4 cup dry roasted, unsalted cashews
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon roasted peanuts
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon cumin
3-4 squares dark chocolate
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat and toast the dried chiles until they begin to change color, 15 seconds/side. DO NOT burn them, that will make your mole taste bitter. (If nervous about the skillet heat, my advice is to start at a lower temp and go slow, testing with 1 chile and having an extra 0n hand...chances are you would buy a bag of them anyways, and the comfort of knowing one mistake will not doom the dish is worth it, trust me!)

Tranfer toasted chiles to a large pot and add 1 cup broth and bring to a simmer. Cook about 20-25 minutes this way to rehydrate the chiles, stirring occasionally. Strain liquid and reserve. Chop chiles.

Heat up 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat in large saute pan. Add onions and garlic, stirring occasionally so that garlic does not burn (if browning, take pan off burner, turn heat to medium and return pan to burner 1 minute later). Cook 5-7 minutes, until onion is tender. Add tomatoes and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Let cook 15 minutes.


Pour the mixture into a blender or food processor along with the cooked plantains, cashews, sesame seeds, peanuts, bread, drained chipotles and spices. Add 1 1/2 cups broth and blend until smooth. Stop blending to stir occasionally and add extra chicken broth if needed to make this smooth. Press the mixture through a sieve into a bowl.

In large sauce pot, heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Add tomato-chile sauce and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes (you will probably need to turn heat to medium-low at this point). Melt chocolate squares into sauce (use 4 for a stronger chocolate flavor). Simmer for 35-45 minutes, stirring regularly. If sauce thickens too much, add extra chicken broth to thin to desired consistency.

For Turkey:
1 12 lb turkey (defrost in refrigerator 2-3 of days in advance
1 cup mole
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
2 cups chicken stock

Remove neck/any gizzards or random parts that come with turkey. Rinse turkey and pat dry. Sprinkle inside and out with salt and pepper and transfer to roasting pan. Spread 3/4 cup mole sauce over skin and 1/2 inside turkey cavity. Cover turkey with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (you can do this a few hours before cooking, but who wants to get up that early?).

Arrange oven rack in lowest position and preheat oven to 450°F. Add stuffing to turkey cavity, if using. Baste turkey with a little butter and tuck wings under breasts and tie together legs if using twine. Place in large baking dish.

Roast turkey 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F, cover turkey loosely with foil, and continue roasting 45 minutes more. Remove foil, add 1/4 cup stock to pan, and continue to roast, basting with pan juices every 30 minutes, 1 1/2 hours more.

Increase oven temperature to 450°F, rotate turkey pan 180° in oven to ensure even cooking, and add 1/4 cup stock to pan.

Roast turkey, basting occasionally until a instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of thigh (do not touch the bone!) registers 170°F, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Remove turkey from oven and insert instant-read thermometer into middle of stuffing. If temperature does not register 170, remove stuffing from bird, place turkey back in backing dish and put stuffing in cooking dish and continue roasting until both are at the required temperature.

Let turkey rest 20-30 minutes before carving. Heat remaining mole sauce and put in a gravy dish.

Serve slices of turkey alongside mashed sweet potatoes and stuffing. Drizzle plate with mole.

Happy Eating!

Note: a stuffed 12 lb turkey will probably take 3 1/2-4 hours to cook, if not using stuffing, expect a total cooking time closer to 3 hours.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Happy Thanksgiving without Looking Like a Turkey

The Holidays. A time filled with the joy and pain of seeing relatives, spending too much money and buying wonderful, thoughtful presents and eating and drinking way too much. Is there any wonder that a top New Year's Eve resolution is to lose weight? Not really. But it is possible to eat a delicious meal and maintain a healthy eating pattern (I know, it sounds boring and like no fun, but I have faith that you can do it!). Why am I so focused on healthy eating? Maybe it is because during nursing school a block of cheese seems like a reasonable breakfast choice. Or maybe it is going to my school gym and seeing all the perky, pretty young college students (just to be clear, I am not the "all cute and chipper working out student"); either way, I feel compelled to at least try to live a bit healthier.

Last year I actually had a Dominican feast for Thanksgiving. You can read about that (mis)adventure here and here. I realized as I was falling asleep, that for the first time in my life, I hadn't eaten myself to the point of nausea. Carb coma? Nope. Meat sweats? None. Vague chest pain that should concern me more but I helped myself to the wine to help myself deal my family (just kidding, I love you guys)? Not a single palpitation! It occurred to me that maybe I didn't need to eat and eat and eat to enjoy myself on Thanksgiving and Christmas. In addition to physical exertion (shoveling snow off the walk), emotional strain (arguing with relatives) and exposure to cold (November weather in much of the country), eating a big meal temporarily strains your heart. People have heart attacks on Thanksgiving. The weekend before Thanksgiving, at one hospital there were so many critically ill patients that doctors ran out of a key heart-pumping machine and had to rent two extras

Tomorrow I will post a healthy turkey main course, as well as a homemade cranberry dish that puts the cylindrical cranberry sauce to shame.

From WHfoods:

"Turkey is a very good source of protein, providing 65.1% of the DV in a four ounce portion. Along with protein, turkey is a very good source of selenium. In addition, it is a good source of niacin, vitamin B6 and phosphorus.

Cranberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, a very good source of dietary fiber, and a good source of manganese and vitamin K."

Sunday I will post healthy and delicious recipes for mashed potatoes and a fun alternative to traditional stuffing.

"Potatoes are a very good source of vitamin C. They are also a good source of vitamin B6, copper, potassium, manganese, and dietary fiber.


Check back Tuesday to find out so-delicious-they-must-be-bad-for-you ideas for your perfect dessert.

What do you think guys, is it possible to enjoy a healthy Thanksgiving? What do you do to make the holidays a bit healthier?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Shrimp Milanese with Lemon Cream Sauce

After looking at my credit and debit card history, and the amount of food in my kitchen/fridge I have determined that I spend way too much money on groceries for 1 person! So the idea is I will buy only fresh items like veggies or milk that complete recipes that can be made from ingredients that I already have. Sounds good, right? Of course, the first recipes will definitely be the easiest..let's see how this works 3 weeks from now! My first idea: shrimp that has been in my freezer for...um...a while, Parmesan , frozen spinach and zucchini I got at Trader Joe' last week. The recipe: Parmesan-crusted shrimp over pasta with a creamy lemon sauce, and some vegetables thrown in for good measure (and better nutrition).

For Lemon Cream Pasta:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, diced finely
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup cream
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup frozen spinach, defrosted and drained in colander over sink
2 small zucchini, sliced horizonally into thin slices
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 box cooked pasta-linguine, angel hair, tagliatelle, fettuccine...

For Parmesan-Crusted Shrimp:
1 lb large shrimp, deveined & shells removed
1/3 cup plain dry bread crumbs
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Sprinkle of dried basil and dried parsley
2 tablespoons butter

To Make Lemon Cream Pasta:
Heat olive oil in large saute pan over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute for about 3 minutes, turning heat down to medium after adding, and stirring often to ensure they do not stick to pan and burn.

Add zucchini and saute for a minute on each side. Add in lemon juice, lemon zest and chicken stock. Whisk together and allow it to come to a boil then reduce heat. Simmer about 15 minutes; it should thicken up a bit at this point.

Add the spinach (squeeze beforehand to ensure excess liquid does not enter pasta sauce) and cook in the sauce for a few minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cream.

Stir in Parmesan cheese and pour sauce over cooked pasta.

To Make Parmesan-Crusted Shrimp:
Mix together cheese, bread crumbs, and spices over large plate. Coat shrimp with mixture.

Melt 1/2 butter in large saute pan over medium high heat. Add 1/2 of shrimp and cook for 2 minutes on each side, they should be golden. Remove from pan and set aside. Melt remaining butter and cook remaining shrimp.

Serve shrimp over lemon cream past~voila!
And I didn't have to buy any ingredients to make it either...free dinner always tastes better!
What ingredients have been hanging around your kitchen for too long? Maybe with a little freezer burn, stale nature or been on the shelf and will expire if you don't use it in the next month of two...let me know your ideas! (I just may use them with my bajillion items chilling in my kitchen-pun intended)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Brussels Sprouts with Spicy Chorizo and Caramelized Onions

Lately I have been trying to eat more fruits and vegetables. I suspect that my methods may be considered a bit, well, unorthodox by some. I have been sneaking produce into my meals...a big bowl of pasta+some frozen spinach or diced zucchini...ice cream sundae+a handful of berries, well, you get the idea. Brussels sprouts. I imagine that many of you shudder reading those two words. Parents force their children to eat vegetables and children rebel, it's only natural. But once you try them again, you may discover that brussels sprouts are not the evil green monster you had previously imagine. In fact, they are pretty damn good. In this recipe, I use chorizo (drool) to compliment caramelized onions and brussels sprouts. 2 vegetables, not too shabby...at least, I think an onion counts as a vegetable, right?

1 lb brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus a little extra-just in case!
6 ounces cured spicy Spanish chorizo, quartered lengthwise & sliced crosswise into 1/3'' long pieces
1 small Vidalia onion, sliced into long, thin pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced

Salt and pepper (to taste)

Heat a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add brussels sprouts and cook until tender, 6 minutes. Remove brussels sprouts and place in a bowl of ice water for 5 minutes (this stops the cooking process). Drain Brussels sprouts and dry with a paper towel.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large cast-iron pan over medium heat. Add the onion and turn heat to medium-low, stirring occasionally to prevent pieces from burning/sticking. Cook about 20 minutes, until onions caramelize-they should be golden but not brown. Remove onions from pan, reserving them in bowl.


Add chorizo to pan and turn heat to medium-high, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Turn to medium, adding more olive oil if necessary, and add the garlic, stirring for 2 minutes as it cooks.

Transfer chorizo mixture to a bowl. Increase heat to high and add 1 tablespoon olive oil and brussels sprouts. Cook until the sprouts are brown and tender, about 8 minutes, flipping once or twice to ensure even browning. Add reserved onions and chorizo mixture.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Pastelon de Platanos con Camarones


Do you ever get a dish stuck in your head and then you daydream about its smell, texture and taste until you realize that making the dish may be a life or death situation? I'm undergoing one of these urgent matters, all whilst studying for a nursing exam tomorrow morning.

Orinoco is a Venezuelan restaurant that opened its first location at the corner of Shawmut and East Concord, near Boston Medical Center in Boston's South End. Arepas, empanadas, slow-cooked beef (pabellon criollo), sweet plantains, molten chocolate cake...these are just some of my favorite thing to eat at Orinoco. While service varies between locations, the food is simply heavenly.


On my most recent visit to their Brookline Village location, my boyfriend was smart enough to order the appetizer special: fried oysters over a bed of mashed sweet plantains, gooey cheese (Fontina perhaps? I couldn't figure it out) and bitter sauteed spinach. The contrasting sweet/bitter & gooey/crunchy nature of the dish was a-frickin-mazing. I am not a big oyster girl-never cared for them, especially not (god forbid) raw, but did enjoy this fried version. That being said, in my recreation, I am going to use shrimp; cheaper, easier to cook, pleases more people. Case closed.

To Make Plantain Pie (PHOTO up tomorrow evening):

5 large ripe plantains
1 1/2 cups chopped baby spinach (I used frozen spinach and let it defrost, then drain)
1 cup shredded fontina
1/2 lb chipotle shrimp
Canola oil (enough to come up about 1/3 inch in saute pan)

Preheat oven to 400.

Cut ends from plantains and peel. Sllice each plantain lengthwise into 4 pieces. In a 12-inch skillet heat oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking and saute pieces in batches(test 1 pieces of plantain-if oil does not mostly cover plantain, add more and heat before adding the remaining pieces), without crowding, until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes on each side (use spatulas to turn slices). With a spatula transfer plantains to a paper towel to drain. Flatten strips with plantain peel.

Place 1/2 of plantain slices alongside each other to cover bottom layer of pie dish, forming an impromptu pie crust.

Cover plantains with baby spinach. Sprinkle fontina cheese over spinach.

Spread shrimp evenly over spinach and cheese. Use remaining plantain slices to cover shrimp and press down.

Cook in oven about 25-30 minutes, until plantain is turning golden.

Let sit 5 minutes before slicing.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Turkish Zucchini Bread

Turkish Family Restaurant in Brookline Village serves a delicious zucchini fritter known as M├╝cver. While I adore eating these bite-sized delights, making fritters often seems like a lot of work to me. You have to fry them and serve promptly, interfering with socializing, relaxing and preparing the rest of your meal. As a result, I have switched the recipe up a bit, creating a healthier Turkish zucchini bread with a lemony-yogurt dip. It's more nutrient dense than your typical bread-with-butter and shakes up the dinner scene.

To Make Zucchini Bread:

2 cups zucchini (grated, squeezed and drained)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 eggs
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup minced scallions
1/4 cup minced parsley
1/4 cup minced dill
1/2 cup crumbed feta

Preheat oven to 350, placing baking shelf (rack?) in center of oven.

Whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and in a bowl.

Mix the zucchini, scallions, herbs feta, lemon juice, zest, olive oil and eggs in a large bowl.

Add wet ingredients to dry, stirring gently to combine.

Pour batter into a non-stick loaf pan (eyeballing my pan it looks like 9x5)

Bake about 45 minutes to 1 hour. When it's done, a toothpick inserted into center of bread should come out clean.