Recipe of the week

Spanish Rice Pilaf by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan

‘PILAF’ is a method of cooking rice and/or wheat. The rice kernels are coated in oil and/or butter until they are ‘hot to the touch’. Simmering stock (or other liquid) is added and the pot is covered and put into the oven to simmer and steam. This technique results in ‘fluffy’ rice.

Heirloom Tomato Sandwich with Miso & Nori (Seaweed Leaf) by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan

It’s officially tomato season in Massachusetts, and I was invited back to judge the 37th Annual Tomato Contest, sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture. Last year I judged the cherry tomatoes and this year, it was the Heirlooms. So, a recipe for an heirloom tomato sandwich makes perfect sense. I grew up eating home-grown tomato sandwiches with mayonnaise and sliced red onion (once known as a ‘Bermuda’ onion) on toast. Fast-forward a few decades and I’m making tomato sandwiches on toasted sesame bagels with miso and nori/seaweed sheets. The tomato and miso pair perfectly together—it’s very umami, very satisfying. Use mild miso. I used an organic Shiro miso: white, sweet, and mellow. (Miso is a Japanese fermented soybean and rice paste.) I split and toasted the bagel, and I did butter it before I spread the miso. Omit this step if you wish.

Cauliflower Hummus with Cashew Crema by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan

Hummus has blown-up in recent years. What used to be defined and made only with chickpeas and tahini, has grown to embrace a myriad of vegetables and flavors. Twenty years ago, I never thought I would be eating ‘chocolate hummus’—and it’s delicious, BTW. So why cauliflower? It does seem like such a winter vegetable; smooth cauliflower soup recipes abound in January and February. But it’s being sold in the farmers’ markets now! And I know that long, slow cooking, will turn it into a sweet and delicious puree. The cashew crema is the substitute for the ubiquitous tahini. It is creamy, rich and smooth and adds a subtle, nutty background flavor. It’s simple to make, just soak unroasted and unsalted cashews overnight, drain, rinse and puree to a smooth nut-cream. And any leftovers can be saved to add to pasta dishes or used as a vegan-cream sauce.

Watermelon ‘Pizza-Pie’ by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan

No crust.  No dough.  No cooking.  And no baking is required.  Festive and Impressive.  Quick and easy. It’s all you need as part of a summer dessert tableau. I took a slice from a whole, small watermelon and cut it into 6 wedges, but you could easily buy pre-cut wedges of watermelon and put 6 or 8 wedges together to form a circle.  The toppings will cover any variations in the shape/size of the ‘pie’.   And feel free to vary and/or augment the toppings—add shaved chocolate, different fruits (like sliced peaches), toasted coconut, crushed meringue cookies or toasted marshmallows (yummy).

An Easy-Peasy Middle Eastern Wrap by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan

Becoming a confident cook includes developing the ability to choose excellent store-bought ingredients and using them with creativity and finesse. For example, to make this sandwich a bit more substantial and delicious, and of course quicker & easier to prepare, I added diced fresh plum tomatoes, diced cucumbers, feta cheese, chickpeas, olive oil and a touch of lemon to a
pint container of our Bay Sweets Market Tabouli Salad. I also chose our Bay Sweets black olive flavored hummus as a spread and then marched over to our deli and grabbed ready-grilled chicken skewers. I added a few chopped dill pickles (or use sliced pepperoncini peppers), wrapped it up tightly in a 10-inch flour tortilla wrap and sliced it in half. The tortilla flour wrap is sturdy, and this sandwich will hold together if you are thinking of taking it on the road. (Yes...beach food!)

Curried ‘Rotisserie’ Chicken Salad by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan

I wanted roast chicken for dinner last week, but I didn’t want to cook it. So, I did the next best (or best) thing, I bought a rotisserie chicken. It was delicious, but I had about ¾ of the chicken leftover. And it’s July, so making soup did not appeal to me for the same reason that roasting a chicken didn’t appeal to me either. But chicken salad did appeal. Wash your hands and don a pair of disposable gloves that I’ve previously suggested you keep stocked as part of your ‘batterie-de-cuisine’ (your stash of kitchen tools and equipment). Directions are below for breaking down and shredding the rotisserie chicken. This recipe is based on a yield of about 3 cups or 12 ounces of shredded chicken meat, both light and dark meat combined. Adjust ingredient amounts according to the amount of chicken
you have.

Braised Lentil Salad with Browned Shallots, Sheep’s Milk Feta and Pickled Radishes

There seems to be no end to what one can concoct with a good legume. And the lentil is a perfect example: full of good plant protein, tasty when served either hot, cold or room temperature and mixes well with a wide range of ingredients. And if you haven’t tasted sheep’s milk feta cheese, I encourage you to try it. It’s less salty with a correspondingly milder flavor and a creamier texture. I have found Bulgarian Sheep’s Milk Feta in the cheese departments of well-stocked grocery stores. And the pickled radishes…. well, just because they are a sweet, crunchy, and tangy touch. It’s a little accessory that dresses up the salad. (But raw radishes will work as well.) Start by pickling the radishes the day before if you can. They will be crisper and more flavorful if they spend a night in the fridge.

Roasted Salmon with Gochujang Peanut Dressing by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan

Here’s another way to use that delicious gochujang peanut dressing from the recent ‘Korean Rice Bowl’recipe. I oven-roasted salmon with a swath of gochujang dressing on top. And I served it with coleslaw and kimchi and the freshest snap peas, which are finally (!) available in the farmer’s markets.

Korean-inspired Rice Bowl with Gochujang Dressing by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan

A rice bowl is a delicious and versatile meal. You start with a ‘flavor idea’ and then build your bowl from there. I bought a jar of Korean gochujang paste and built my rice bowl around wanting to use this ingredient. (Gochujang is a sweet & spicy fermented paste popular in Korean cooking; the sweetness comes from fermented rice and the ‘heat’ from chili peppers.) Once I decided to build a sauce with the gochujang paste and peanut butter (!) the rest of the ingredients just tumbled into the bowl.

Grilled Romaine & Vegetable Salad by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan

Fire up the grill! It’s Father’s Day! This is a beautiful and simple grilled salad that can be made ahead. Prep the vegetables and get out
there before the meats go on the fire—you can even prep the veggies the night before and wrap and refrigerate. The surprise here is the grilled romaine hearts—the bit of char gives a depth of flavor to the humble romaine.