Thursday, September 17, 2015

Craving Cured Meats for Oktoberfest

With Oktoberfest just around the corner, I find myself craving cured meats even more than usual.

Funny story: When I moved to Germany in 1997, I was actually a vegetarian (or flexitarian, as my in-laws would call it since Mom refused to believe that chicken broth or fish were truly vegetarian). But before I even moved, I decided that in order to fully experience Bavaria, I would have to give up my vegarianism. After dozens of Weisswurst, Bratwurst, Currywurst and Rostbratwurst, not to mention also discovering liverwurst and other creamed meats, I never looked back.

The above photo is not actually from Germany, because, well, it was 1997. But if ever you want two glorious pounds of housemade German sausages in Seattle, Rheinhaus on Capitol Hill will certainly whet your craving (although I would be remiss to not also mention Bavarian Meats at Pike Place Market, I just don't have a picture of their extremely authentic selection).

Despite my love of cured meats, I still haven't taught myself how to make sausages. But I did make a delicious dish with prosciutto last night that calmed my craving for the night.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken with Potatoes and Artichokes
1-1/2 pounds fingerling or new potatoes, cut in 1/2-inch chunks
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
8 chicken thighs
8 slices prosciutto
8-ounce package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
2 cloves garlic

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Toss potatoes with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, then roast for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, wrap each chicken thigh in a piece of prosciutto, sealing on the bottom.

Remove potatoes from oven and stir in artichoke hearts, sage, and garlic. Nestle chicken among the vegetables, then roast for about 25 minutes.

Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Note: This recipe is also good with cauliflower, as shown in this Epicurious recipe, but it's even better if you add some fresh figs!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Bring on the Vitamin D - An Excuse to Indulge in Mushrooms

Like many residents of the Pacific Northwest, my vitamin D levels tend to skew on the low side. It's just hard at this latitude to get enough vitamin D from the sun since we can only really process it from March to October.

Food isn't the best alternative source, but it's something. And it certainly helps that some of the foods that are high(ish) in vitamin D are also among my favorites: fatty fish, mushrooms, eggs (don't skip the yolk!!!) and beans, yum!

Maybe that's why when the days start shortening, I just can't get enough mushrooms. It doesn't matter what kind, I just want them in my belly. Since it's not quite mushroom season yet, I've been going crazy with the commercially grown portabellas and creminis.

Mushroom-Veggie Curry Pasta
1 cup mushroom (or any other) broth
2 tablespoons lime juice
*4 dates
1/2-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup basil leaves
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
8 ounces bite-size pasta such as penne
2 tablespoons coconut oil, more if needed
4 cloves garlic, minced, separated
**2 portabella mushrooms, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
**8 ounces cremini mushrooms, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 bunch lacinato (or any other) kale, stems removed and thinly sliced
1 cup soy edamame, defrosted

Make sauce by blending broth, lime juice, dates, ginger, curry, red pepper flakes and basil until smooth. Stir in sesame seeds and set aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Add coconut oil, and stir in 2 cloves minced garlic for about 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and stir periodically until mushrooms lose their water and start to brown. Remove mushrooms with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add more oil if needed, then add onion and pepper to the skillet and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add remaining 2 cloves minced garlic near the end, then add kale and stir-fry until kale is wilted.

Stir in mushrooms, pasta, edamame and sauce, and serve.

*The original recipe called for 2 Medjool dates, which I would have done if I had them. It's nice to know the cheaper dates work just as well if you double the amount!

**This recipe would taste great with any combination of mushrooms, just be sure to use a lot!

— This recipe was adapted from Portabella Mushrooms and Noodles.