Oven-Baked Mussels with Herbed Panko

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Mussels are underrated. Cheaper than clams, but meatier and just as flavorful, they get a bad wrap. Sure, you probably shouldn’t order them in a restaurant (thanks to Kitchen Confidential, I’ll never look at a seafood special the same way again), but they couldn’t be any easier to make at home.

For this dish, it’s essential that you use fresh mussels. Don’t bother with the frozen, pre-cooked variety, otherwise you’ll get none of that good briny flavor that you want to achieve.

Oven baked mussels with herbed panko

Ingredients:
1/4 cup water
2 pounds mussels, rinsed
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Bring water with mussels to a boil in a large pot, covered, then boil, covered, shaking pot occasionally, until mussels open, about 4 minutes. Discard any unopened mussels. Transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon, reserving cooking liquid, and cool to room temperature.

2. Put the half of the mussel shells with mussels attached in a large shallow baking pan (discard other halves) and drizzle with a little of the reserved cooking liquid.

3. Stir together remaining ingredients, then top each mussel with about 1 teaspoon of mixture. Bake until crumbs are golden and crisp, about 5 minutes.

Hearts of Palm Salad with Shrimp and Avocado

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I first encountered hearts of palm at Pampas Grill, a Brazilian churrascaria in the Farmers Market in Los Angeles a couple of years ago. I have no idea how I’d gone so long without coming across the vegetable, but it’s been a favorite ever since then. I used them in making what is now one of my favorite salads:

Hearts of palm salad with shrimp and avocado

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons drained capers
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 cans hearts of palm, drained and rinsed
1 hard-boiled egg, shelled and chopped
1/2 pound cooked tiny shrimp
1 avocado, peeled and sliced
salt and pepper

1. In a bowl, whisk olive oil, vinegar, capers, lemon juice, shallots, mustard, and salt to taste. Cut hearts of palm in half lengthwise. Lay hearts of palm in dressing, turn over, and let stand for 5 minutes.

2.Lift hearts of palm from dressing and arrange on a large salad plate. Add shrimp to dressing in bowl and mix. Arrange avocado on salad. Spoon shrimp and all the dressing over the hearts of palm and avocado. Top with egg, and sprinkle with pepper to taste.

Pasta and Chickpea Soup with Clams

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savory cuts of meat and hearty bowls of soup. to me that’s what fall cooking is all about. well, at least a pretty big part of it. can’t forget breads. oh, and earthy root vegetables. that too.

here’s what i’ve been cooking:

i love beets
beet and raspberry salad

this was fantastic
veal marsala

yum, anchovies!
multilayered anchovy bread

land meets sea
pasta and chickpea soup with clams

here’s the recipe for the soup:

1 cup dried garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
5 T olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 fresh rosemary spring
1/4 t dried crushed red pepper
1 1/2 lbs small clams
1 cup short hollow pasta

1. place beans in bowl. pour enough warm water over to cover; let soak at room temperature overnight. drain. place garbanzo beans in large saucepan; add enough fresh water to cover. boil 15 minutes. drain.

2. return beans to pan; add 4 cups water, 3 tablespoons oil, 2 garlic cloves, rosemary spring, and crushed red pepper. bring to boil. reduce heat and simmer uncovered until beans are tender, adding more water as needed by 1/2 cupfuls, about 2 hours. discard rosemary spring.

3. transfer 1 cup garbanzo bean mixture to processor and puree until smooth; reutrn to mixture in saucepan.

4. heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. add remaining garlic clove, saute unti golden, about 2 minutes. add clams and 1/4 water; cover and cook until clams open, about 5 minutes. cool clams slightly; reserve pan juices. working over bowl to catch juices, remove clams from shells; discard shells.

5. strain pan juices and clam juice from bowl into garbanzo bean mixture, then add 3 1/2 cups water and bring to boil. add pasta and cook until pasta is al dente, adding more water if soup is too thick and stirring occassionally, about 10 minutes. stir in clams. season to taste with salt and pepper.

Nasi Goreng

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i cooked this nasi goreng a few weeks ago, one of my favorite dishes that i’ve ever made. popular in indonesia and malaysia, this fried rice is easy to make, and best of all, delicious. don’t be put off by the long ingredient list – the results are well worth it.

Nasi goreng and simmered snow peas with mushrooms

recipe:

2 1/2 cups jasmine rice
2 cups chicken broth
vegetable oil, for deep-frying
1/2 package krupuk (indonesian shrimp crackers)
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 lb skinless chicken breast, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 lb shrimp, peeled
2 fresh thai red chiles, seeded and minced
1 t salt
4 T ketjap manis (indonesian sweet soy sauce)
1 T fish sauce (nuoc nam)
3 green onions, thinly sliced
sliced cucumber and wedges of hard-boiled egg for garnish

1. rinse rice and drain well. bring rice, 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, and enough water to cover rice by 3/4 inch to a boil in a heavy saucepan. cover pan, then reduce heat to very low and cook until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 15 minutes. remove pan from heat and let rice stand, covered, 5 minutes. transfer to a large bowl and cool to room temperature. chill rice, covered, for a few hours.

2. heat vegetable oil for deep-frying in a large pot until very hot. drop a few krupuk into oil and fry until they float to the surface and curl up, about 15 seconds, turn krupuk over and fry until lightly golden, about 10 seconds, then transfer to paper towels to drain. fry remaining krupuk in same manner.

3. heat 3 tablespoons oil in wok over high heat until hot. add shallots and stir-fry 1 minute. add garlic and stir-fry 30 seconds. add chicken and stir-fry until cooked through, about 2 minutes. add shrimp, chiles, and salt and stir-fry until shrimp are just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. add remaining 1/4 cup broth with ketjap manis and rice and stir-fry until rice is heated through, about 2 minutes. remove wok from heat and stir in fish sauce and green onions until combined well.

4. serve nasi goreng on a platter with krupuk, cucumber slices, and hard-boiled eggs.