Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Italian Style Smashed Potatoes

As an Irish girl, I love potatoes. When presented with this week's sensational sides theme of mashed, I knew was going to make potatoes. Italian smashed potatoes have become one of my favorite way to mash potatoes. It's just boiled unpeeled red potatoes with Italian parsley, a good Italian hard cheese, olive oil, salt and pepper. They go with everything. So simple. The amount of these ingredients listed below is a mere suggestion.

2 pounds of red skinned potatoes
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
1/4 pound of really good pecorino romano or Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse, clean, and cut the potatoes into roughly equivalent chunks to ensure even cooking. Place them in a medium to large sauce pot with salted water. Bring to a boil on medium high heat. Boil under fork tender, about 15 minutes. Remove about a cup of the water before draining if need when smashing.

Smash/mash drained potatoes with the olive oil. Try not to over mash them. I personally like a chunkier texture. Add some of the reserved water if you want a creamier, looser consistency. Using a spoon add and mix in the parsley, cheese, and salt and pepper. As always, season to your taste preference.

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Sensational Sides Food Fest. Check out The FN Dish. The spring food we're focusing on here is anything "mashed." On twitter, we're tagging #SensationalSides. Here are smashing mashed other delicious recipes:

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

No-Cook Vietnamese Spring Rolls

This week's theme for FN Dish's Seasonal Sides: No-cook. My first thought was to make an Ohioan confectionery called buckeyes - think of a spherical Reese's cup. I'll save that for another time. Besides, technically, the chocolate has to be heated. Healthy has been my thing since I've been back to blogging while living in Los Angeles. I went with Vietnamese spring rolls with a spicy peanut sauce. A favorite of mine, both to make, eat, and share. It always makes for a perfect appetizer for parties. They are healthy, light, visually appealing, and there is nothing to cook: hydrated rice wrappers, cucumbers, carrots, lettuce, shrimp, tofu, and herbs. (I had a couple of leftover "sea sticks" that I used to make rolls; I like shrimp + tofu best.) The only caveat is that the rice wrappers can be tricky to work with and the preparation and making of these are more like an assembly line than free-flow cooking. Everything must be ready to go when assembling these bad boys.

The sauce is one of my favorites that I usually can't get at restaurants since it's usually not gluten-free. All four taste components of Southeast Asian cuisine are there: salty (fish sauce/soy sauce); tangy (rice vinegar); spicy (chili sauce); and sweet (peanut butter/agave). This indulgent sauce is the perfect compliment to the super fresh and light rolls. Even though this technically is a side dish, I found four of these make a perfect dinner.

10-12 rice paper wrappers
1 seedless cucumber (Japanese or English), finely julienned
1 large carrot, peeled and finely julienned
2 large leaves of leafy lettuce, chiffonaded finely
1/2 tub of extra firm tofu cut into strips
20-24 cooked shrimp, cut in half
fresh mint, cilantro, Thai basil (optional)
1 tablespoon smooth/creamy peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon of GF tamari/soy sauce
1 teaspoon chili sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon agave

  1. Get your mis-en-place together, i.e., prep, cut, and organize all the vegetables, tofu, shrimp, herbs on a platter/plate/board. Have another board with a damp tea towel or paper towel to assemble the rolls, and another board for the completed rolls. Also prepare a large, flat container of lukewarm water to hydrate the rice wrappers.
  2. Submerge a rice wrapper into the water. Allow to soak for half a minute. Carefully remove with both hands and lay it towards you on the wet cloth on board and make sure it's flat without any folds. My first couple tries, I always break - these can be used as practice rolls or just throw away. You'll get it after a couple of practice runs. Once the hydrated wrapper in down flat ready to assemble, submerge the next wrapper in the water.
  3. Pretend you're making a delicate burrito - stack in the bottom center portion some tofu, veggies and up towards the top, place a couple of herb leaves and two halves of a shrimp with the pretty side down in order to see it in the roll. Fold up the bottom of the wrapper over the filling snugly, fold in each side and carefully roll up until all wrapped up into a pretty roll. Place on platter. Repeat, repeat, repeat until all made. Make sure the rolls do not touch each other - they stick bad! If not serving immediately, wrap individually in plastic wrap and store in the fridge.
  4. For the peanut sauce, in a small bowl combine the peanut butter, fish sauce, tamari, chili sauce, vinegar, and agave. Taste and adjust as needed.
I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Sensational Sides Food Fest. Check out The FN Dish. The spring food we're focusing on here is anything "no-cook." On twitter, we're tagging #SensationalSides. Here are other delicious recipes to help you save energy and discover new ways to eat "raw": 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Stir-Fried Quinoa with Chinese Vegetables

To be honest, I never heard of quinoa (pronounced: keen-wah) before my Celiac diagnosis. After my initial consultation with a dietitian, 10 years ago, I discovered a whole new whole of (pseudo-cereal) grains that are gluten-free: quinoa, millet, buckwheat, teff, and so many others. They all have unique texture and taste as well as power-packed with nutrients. Quinoa has become one of my standbys. Quinoa is an ancient, super-food from South America. It contains about 14% protein and all of the essential amino acids your body needs, i.e, it is a complete protein. Important tip with quinoa: it must be RINSED well with water (using a fine mesh sieve/strainer) before cooking it. There's this weird smelling enzyme that coats it and can be strong and wreck your senses. It is so worth the effort.

I make quinoa up as pilafs, tabbouleh, steamed. This time, I let my fridge dictate what method to use for my quinoa love. I saw small bok choy, giant shiitake mushrooms, and green onions. I worked at a Chinese restaurant for 10 years and still influences how I shop for (shopping at Asian markets regularly) and cook my food. Yes, why not - stir-fried quinoa?! It's like the new Chinese Peruvian fusion cuisine that's becoming so hot: the Chinese immigrants from the 19th century influencing traditional Peruvian food. It worked! Such a different take on "fried rice" that feels new, healthy, interesting, reinvented. This recipe is a multi-step recipe and it's important to follow the directions in the right order for the best results. Even though this is a side dish, I will contest that this dish can stand on its own.

1 cup quinoa (rinsed well with water as mentioned above)
1 1/2 cups water or broth (of your choice)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 egg
1 tablespoon of coconut or vegetable oil (not olive oil, it will burn)
4-5 large shiitake sliced mushrooms (fresh! or regular fresh button type)
1/4 cup of Chinese cooking wine (I like the sweet kind with this)
1 medium bok choy, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2-3 stalks green onions, chopped
1 teaspoon chili sauce
about 1/4 cup of extra liquid as needed (water, broth)
salt and pepper to taste (yes, you can add soy sauce if you feel it is truly necessary)
extra sesame oil to finish as desired

  1. Cook the rinsed quinoa in 1 1/2 times the volume of water in a covered medium saucepan over low heat until absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove lid, fluff with fork and allow to cool uncovered.
  2. Heat up wok on medium high heat. Scramble egg with a splash of water, a pinch of salt, white pepper (if you have it) in a small bowl or cup with a fork. Put sesame oil in hot wok, swirl. Pour in egg, swirl and cook it as a thin layer without getting brown. Turn over once until just barely cooked. Cut heat. Cut into small strips/pieces and put in a cool bowl/plate and put aside.
  3. In that same wok heat up the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add in sliced mushrooms and saute. Add in the wine, stirring constantly. Allow to get a good brown to them - good flavor. Add in the white parts of the bok choy, green onions, garlic, and chili sauce. Saute until those are slightly cooked down. Then add in the green sections of the bok choy and green onions with stirring. Once wilted, add in the quinoa. Stir, stir, stir. Add in liquid as needed if too dry. Trust your judgement. Taste for seasoning. Adjust salt, pepper, heat per your preferences. Cut the heat. Add in the scrambled egg and toss. Toss in a little sesame oil. Enjoy. Serves 4 healthy portions.
-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Sensational Sides Food Fest. Check out The FN Dish. The spring food we're focusing on here are  "grains." On twitter, we're tagging #SensationalSides. Here are other delicious recipes to tempt you to expand your grain horizons:

Jeanette's Healthy Living: Chinese Shrimp Fried Rice
Devour: Farro Salad With Greek Yogurt
Dishin & Dishes: Kale, Quinoa and Black Bean Salad
The Cultural Dish: Lemon Risotto

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Asparagus with Rosemary

In my mind, anything roasted is sensational. Roasted potatoes with rosemary remains a standard in my culinary repertoire for many years. As a new Angeleno, I love to go to at least one farmer's market a week. The produce in Southern California blows my mind. This week I picked up a tiny bag of fingerling potatoes and a beautiful bunch of asparagus from the same vendor. Why not roast them together? Asparagus can hold their own against roasting and rosemary, just not the same time in the oven as potatoes. And the rosemary I was able to source from my yard. Really, it's impossible to over roast the potatoes. I love them on the crispy side. Only about five minutes is needed to roast the asparagus. Note on the potatoes: don't be tempted to use the red-skinned ones, they have too much sugar - will not cook up right in the oven and will burn.

  • 1 pound fingerling potatoes
  • 1 bunch asparagus, fibrous ends removed
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary

  1. Heat up oven to 375F. Clean, dry, and cut the fingerlings in half lengthwise. In a baking pan, combine the cut fingerlings, olive oil, and salt. Arrange the fingerlings cut side up. This way there's no need to turn them while cooking. Allow to turn golden brown, about 15-25 minutes.
  2. Remove from oven. Cut the asparagus into ~2" segments on only the tender part. Toss in the pepper and rosemary, and more salt if need to taste. Again, arrange the fingerlings cut side up. Return to oven for about 5 minutes until the asparagus are very deep green. Remove and serve. Makes about 4 servings.
I reccommend serving this side with roasted salmon. Why not keep to the theme?

-Erin Swing
 The Sensitive Epicure.

 This is part of Food Network's Sensational Sides Food Fest. Check out The FN Dish. The spring food we're focusing on here is  "roasted." On twitter, we're tagging #SensationalSides. Here are other delicious recipes to tempt you to get roasting: