Recipe Review: Seared Fish with Beet Salsa

I try to balance “cheat” days at my favorite bakery (Craftsman and Wolves) with some healthy dinners during the week.  One great source for recipes is the Recipes for Health series by Martha Rose Shulman in the New York Times.  The recent recipe for beet salsa is really easy and flavorful.  I roast the beets covered in foil for about an hour at 400F.  The roast beets are diced together with apple, jalapeno, cilantro, and lime juice.  The fresh salsa has bright flavors that go well over a simple pan-seared fish fillet such as tilapia.  Pair with some green beans for a healthy, flavorful meal.  The salsa keeps for a few days in the refrigerator and can be used to accompany other dishes; one delicious application was on top of omelettes.

Level of difficulty: easy

Time: about 1 1/2 hours, including 1 hour to roast the beets.

Deliciousness: great (3 of 5 stars)

Cost: about $10

Healthy: yes

Make again: yes

Link to recipe here.

Recipe Review: Lobster Summer Rolls

Lobster Summer Roll

Lobster Summer Roll

For a different take on lobster rolls, here is a version by David Tanis published in the New York Times that uses lobster meat in a Vietnamese summer roll preparation.  It is relatively simple to make after steaming the lobster and removing the claw, knuckle, and tail meat.  The lobster is tossed with ginger and scallions, then wrapped in a rice paper roll with avocado, cucumber, basil, and cilantro.  There is a dipping sauce with lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar, chile, and peanuts.  This is a very light, refreshing lobster roll, different from the richness of the New England-style lobster roll.  Try both!

Cost: market price for lobster

Time: about one hour

Level of difficulty: moderate

Deliciousness: delicious (4 out of five stars)

Make again: yes

Link to recipe here.

Recipe Review: North African Meatballs (Boulettes), Couscous, Roasted Tomatoes

Many countries serve meatballs as comfort food, as David Tanis explains in the New York Times.  A couple weeks ago he published a French/North African version called boulettes that can be made with ground beef or lamb, chopped parsley and cilantro, and  an exotic mixture of spices: turmeric, cumin, cloves, nutmeg, ground ginger, paprika, and cayenne.  The meatballs are dusted with flour, browned in a saute pan, and then simmered in a tomato-saffron stock.  He pairs it with Israeli couscous and roasted tomatoes.

I am going to try a new format with my recipe review.  These are the factors I consider for the bottom line if a recipe is worth doing.  How delicious is it?  How long does it take?  How much does it cost?  There are so many recipes out there that I haven’t made yet – would I make this one again?  If readers have any other suggestions for what they would like to know, please let me know.

Total time: about 2 hours active time

Complexity: multiple steps for the boulettes, including making the tomato-saffron broth beforehand, but nothing too technical.  The roasted tomatoes and couscous are very easy.

Cost: about $10, but I already had all of the spices on hand.  Buying new spices for this dish would be expensive.

Deliciousness: good (3 of 5 stars).  The boulettes are soft, juicy, and aromatic with spices.  They go well with the roasted tomatoes and couscous.

Worth making once: yes, to try this flavor profile

Will I make again: no

Link to recipe here.

Recipe Review: Cold Rice Noodles with Grilled Chicken and Peanut Sauce

One of my favorite dishes in Vietnamese restaurants is a cold rice noodle bowl, topped with grilled meats, crispy spring roll, vegetables, and fresh herbs, all tied together with a pungent dipping sauce.  This recipe from David Tanis writing in The New York Times, is a healthy, delicious take on this dish that is great for a summer meal.  There is grilled chicken marinated in garlic, ginger, lemongrass, brown sugar, fish sauce, and soy sauce.  Vegetables include cucumbers, carrots, and mung bean sprouts.  There are fresh herbs – cilantro, basil, and mint.  To top things off there are crunchy peanuts and two sauces – a dipping sauce made from fish sauce, garlic, chiles, sugar, and lime, and a peanut sauce made with peanut butter, fish sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, and ginger.  The peanut sauce is great and differentiates Tanis’ dish from traditional Vietnamese rice noodle bowl.  This dish is light and fresh, and there is a lot of flavor.  The recipe requires a lot of specialty ingredients that can be sourced at an Asian market.  There are a lot of individual components (chicken marinade, dipping sauce, peanut sauce) but nothing too difficult.  Total time to make was almost two hours.  Be careful with the Thai chiles, because they are tiny but pack a lot of heat!

Link to recipe here.

Recipe Review: Soba Noodle Soup

This recipe for Soba Noodle Soup by Mark Bittman appeared recently in the New York Times.  Soba noodles are a Japanese noodle made from buckwheat flour that cooks quickly and yields a uniquely flavorful noodle.  The broth is quite easy to make with a few specialty ingredients: bonito flakes, mirin, and soy sauce, all of which can be found in a Japanese grocery store.  I cannot comment on the authenticity of this recipe, but the flavors are a light, well balanced mix of savory, briny, and sweet.  A beaten egg is cooked in the broth and becomes light and fluffy and absorbs the broth flavor.  The scallions are essential for flavor and texture contrast.

Link to recipe here.

Recipe Review: Bibimbap with Chicken, Mushrooms, Broccoli Rabe, and Turnips

This is a healthy version of bibimbap with chicken from Martha Rose Shulman and the New York Times’ Recipes for Health (there are more versions on the site featuring tofu or beef).  Bibimbap is a Korean dish where different marinated meats and vegetables and a fried egg are served over rice with kochujang, a spicy Korean red pepper paste.  This recipe requires ingredients from an Asian grocery: rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, kochujang, and sesame seeds.  Each component is prepared and seasoned separately – steamed broccoli rabe, salted raw turnips, sauteed mushrooms, sauteed chicken, fried egg – but it all comes together in about an hour.  Kochujang brings heat and ties everything together.  Healthy, light, flavorful dish.

Link to recipe here.

Recipe Review: Bulgogi Sliders

This recipe from the New York Times Magazine is a little complicated, with four sub-recipes that on their own are fairly doable.  Bulgogi is a sweet, salty Korean marinated beef that is used in Korean barbecue but here makes delicious sliders.  The bulgogi marinade is the most difficult, requiring a food processor or blender to pulverize an Asian pear and several ingredients that can be found at Asian supermarkets.  It makes about three cups of marinade, which is enough for two pounds of beef brisket.  The recipe requires a little advance planning, because the meat needs to marinate for six hours to overnight.  The other components are a spicy soy dressing for the scallion salsa that goes on top of the bulgogi, a spicy mayonnaise made with sriracha hot sauce, and cucumber kimchi.  Like the article mentions, high heat is essential when frying the bulgogi to get a little char.  I liked the extra step of buttering and toasting the buns to make the bun a little crispy.  Overall lots of bold flavors and definitely worth doing, especially for a get-together like a football game.  I served it with a Korean potato salad that was just OK (I would skip the potato salad next time and try to make another side dish).

Recipe Review: Linguine With Littlenecks, Roasted Tomatoes and Caramelized Garlic

This recipe from the New York Times makes a pasta with briny clams and a garlicky roasted tomato sauce.  The pasta is cooked until just before al dente, then finished in the sauce to soak up all of its goodness.  Just a few ingredients, pretty easy, and tasty.

Recipe Review: Spicy Stir-Fried Tofu with Corn, Green Beans, and Cilantro

This recipe from the New York Times Recipes for Health is, like most recipes from this section of the paper, healthy and pretty easy to do.  Requires some Asian ingredients like soy sauce and sesame oil.  Good flavor, even for people who don’t like tofu.  Worth doing once, but then I started craving a hamburger.

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