Saturday, January 3, 2015

Seared Sweet Potatoes with Arugula


Made these sweet potatoes for dinner tonight as a side with roast pork tenderloin. I enjoyed it much more than the tenderloin and will make this again and again as a main entree by itself. It's adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe and features potatoes, first baked, then seared, topped with dressed greens and toasted pecans. 



Ingredients
SERVINGS: 2

Sweet Potatoes And Nuts
  • 1 garlic clove finely grated
  • 3 tablespoons plus ½ tsp. olive oil
  • 2 large or 4 small sweet potatoes, preferably garnet, scrubbed
  • Kosher salt
  • ¼ cup pecans, chopped

Assembly
  • 1 large handful of arugula or other green
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 tsp. olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper or ¼ crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 T plain yogurt
  • ¼ cup fresh mint leaves

Preparation
Sweet Potatoes And Nuts
  • Preheat oven to 400°. Mix garlic and 3 Tbsp. oil in a small bowl. Prick sweet potatoes all over with a fork and rub with half of garlic oil; set remaining garlic oil aside. Season with salt and roast on a rimmed baking sheet, turning once, until flesh is soft and yielding, 45–55 minutes. Remove from oven; reduce heat to 350°.
  • Toss pecans and remaining ½ tsp. oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt. Toast, tossing once, until slightly darkened and fragrant, 8–10 minutes.
  • Let sweet potatoes cool slightly, then cut in half lengthwise. Brush cut sides with reserved garlic oil. Heat a large heavy skillet over medium. Cook sweet potatoes, cut side down, pressing lightly with a spatula, until browned and charred in spots, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and reserve skillet.
Assembly

  • Place greens in a large bowl. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in reserved skillet over medium. Stir in Aleppo pepper. Combine brown sugar, vinegar, and ¼ cup water in skillet, stirring to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until sauce is slightly thickened, about 3 minutes, then drizzle over greens. Season with salt.
  •  Divide yogurt among plates and top with sweet potatoes. Arrange dressed greens over. Top with pecans and mint.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Restorative Love

Something my sister Suzie taught me before she died was the restorative power of love. Most (maybe all?) people are marked with emotional wounds and scars that were inflicted upon them at earlier points in their lives. Sometimes the wounds are still open and very painful and cause torment, like a painful sliver in your palm. The self-help industry is booming with books, audiobooks, and live seminars on how to heal these wounds and move into a position of strength. And thousands and thousands of people flock to therapists annually to take a more formal, doctor-patient approach to healing. When Suzie lived with me during the summers late in the last decade, we would sometimes find ourselves having face to face conversations that lasted hours. In these interactions my sister and I were able to give each other a measure of unconditional love and support that healed emotional wounds and upended twisted, irrational, "broken" thinking in ways that traditional talk therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy might have taken years to accomplish. There is incredible power in love - to edify; to restore hope and a sense of security; to move us further along the path of growth. I have been fortunate to connect with others in this way as well - to give and receive love in genuine earnest - and it's nothing short of transformative.  I believe that love has this power because the author of love, God, is all powerful, and I believe that if you want to make a difference and transform the world around you, love is the answer. Give yourself to others genuinely in love and watch the magic that unfolds. You can make a difference; you can change lives for the better.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Butter Roasted Salmon w Hazelnut Pesto

Modifying and combining two different recipes I sourced from Bon Appetit led to a fantastic dinner this evening. Really one of the best salmon preparations I've had in some time. I hope you give it a try.

ingredients
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 T fresh oregano
  • 1 T fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup (packed) fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (I prefer lemon olive oil)
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 6-ounce pieces skin-on salmon fillets (optional, can also prepare with skinless fillets)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • Arugula (about 1/2 cup per person)
  • 1 large honeycrisp apple, cored and diced
  • Dash of lemon juice
  • 2 celery stalks, peeled
  • 1 T caraway seeds
  • Lemon vinaigrette (your favorite brand or recipe)
preparation
Preheat oven to 400°. Toast hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 6-8 minutes. Let cool.
Pulse garlic, herbs, capers, lemon zest, in a food processor until finely chopped. Warm olive oil in a small saucepan; add garlic mixture to oil and sauté until fragrant. Season pesto with salt and stir in hazelnuts. Remove from heat and set aside. 
Using vegetable peeler, create paper thin slivers of celery out of the stalks. Drizzle lemon juice over diced apple to prevent browning. Toast caraway seeds until fragrant. Combine arugula, apple, celery, seeds in salad bowl. Set aside.
Heat butter in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Season salmon with salt and cook, skin side down, until skin is crisp (do not disturb), about 3 minutes, basting constantly. Transfer to oven and roast salmon, basting once, until medium-rare (mostly opaque but still slightly translucent in the center), about 3 minutes.
Pour vinaigrette over salad (to taste) and toss.

Plate salmon, skin side up, topped with pesto, with salad alongside.