Friday, May 3, 2013

Vegetable and Crepe Terrine

Crepes are one of those things that can be a dessert served in all kinds of ways from a Crepe Suzette which are crepes cooked in an orange-butter sauce then flamed with Grand Marnier to one filled with jellies and topped with whipped cream to ones filled with fresh berries and drizzled with chocolate sauce and a garnish of fresh mint.  It can also be used in savory dishes... think of it as a pasta.  I have filled crepes with a ricotta and egg mixture flavored with basil, fold it like a book and layer a few near each other in a baking dish, spoon on some tomato sauce and Parmesan then bake it for 15 minutes or so....... cut cooked crepes into fettuccine shapes and toss it with  fresh summer tomatoes and herbs and a vinaigrette for a twist on a salad.  Crepes are as easy as making a pancake batter (crepes are pancakes in France).

Here, I was thinking of a lasagna but I called it a terrine because it sounds more french!  You can make this with whatever you like, as long as each component in delicious on its own and they all work with each other, the final dish will be delicious!

Obviously you want to make all the components and have them ready then they will be layered in a baking pan. I used a spring form pan that is 7 inchs in diameter because it was just the two of us but if you want to make a bigger one you may need to double the crepe recipe.

To make the crepes mix together in a blender or just with a whisk

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup lukewarm water
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp unsalted butter (melted)
1/2 tsp salt

Let this mixture sit at least 30 minutes so the flour is fully absorbed by the liquid.

Note: if you are using this crepe recipe for a dessert only use a pinch of salt in place of 1/2 tsp and add 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar to the mix

Use a non-stick skillet to make the crepes; heat over medium high heat and a bit of butter to just coat the pan; pour in some batter and quickly turn the pan so the batter forms a thin layer; cook on the one side for a minute or two then flip to cook the other side for a minute or until both sides are lightly browned ( I use a rubber spatula to flip the crepes); continue to cook the rest of the batter.

Place a crepe in the bottom of your pan and line the sides, leaving some of the crepe hanging over so when you fill it you can bring the crepe pieces up and over.  See what I mean....

I had 2 layers of roasted whole tomatoes (cut the canned tomatoes in half and place in a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic); a layer of sauteed spinach with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic; a layer of Shiitaki mushrooms that I sauteed with butter, salt, pepper and fresh thyme deglazed with Madeira wine; a few strips of roasted red pepper right from the jar. I combined 4 oz of fresh ricotta cheese with 1 egg a pinch of salt and pepper and layered with the vegetables to give a creaminess to the final dish.

Remember you can use whatever you want I layered it with color in mind...tomatoes first then ricotta then a crepe then spinach then ricotta then crepe then roasted red pepper then ricotta then crepe then mushrooms then ricotta then crepe the tomatoes again then ricotta.  I just covered with a crepe on the top and brought the extra crepe pieces up, these pieces get nice and crisp in the oven.

Let it sit for an hour or so and then remove it from the pan.  Cut a wedge and serve it as an appetizer or have it for lunch..

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Homemade pasta test...

I decided to do a test on making fresh pasta with two different flours; Durum Wheat Semolina and Typo "OO".  I usually use All purpose flour and its always good but I knew it could be even better.  I have always liked the job of making pasta because your sipping on a glass of wine (that's a rule when making fresh pasta) and watching a cooking show or listening to some music... I think it's fun.  It's really not complicated, it's two ingredients....flour and eggs.  The conclusion was that we liked the Durum Wheat Semolina better.  It has a better texture and more flavor.   I can imagine the fine texture from the OO flour would be awesome as a ravioli that has a creamy or soft filling.  The Durum Wheat was perfect for a fettuccine shape, it has that al dente quality.

Here are the two flours...the one on the left has a super fine texture (the softest flour you ever felt) and the one on the right is almost the texture of fine cornmeal.  I put about a cup or a little more of the flour on the butcher block and made a "well" in the center; add 2 large room temperature eggs to the "well" and using a fork start to break up the eggs and slowly incorporate the flour; you also need a bench scraper to help release the egg and flour from the board as you add more flour; start to knead by hand adding enough flour so your hands aren't sticking to the dough but be careful not to add too much flour; keep kneading for about 6 -7 minutes (the longer the better); dust the finished dough with a little of the flour and wrap in plastic; do the same for the other flour and let the two dough's rest on the counter for about 30 minutes; roll out the pasta to the finest setting and leave the pasta sheets on kitchen towels to dry for about 10 minutes; fold each sheet a few times and cut into fettuccine or linquini shapes (if you are using the cutting attachment on the pasta machine I would cut it into the finished shape right away instead of letting it dry for 10 minutes, I like cutting it with a knife)

Here is the pasta after I cut each into strips and I just have them sitting here while we wait for dinner time.
They didn't sit any longer that an hour or so; boil them in salted water for only 3 minutes (separately of course) add the pasta to the sauce (below) to "marry" the pasta and sauce together.

I was feeling creative so I made a new sauce which was sliced Shiitaki mushrooms and shallots cooked in butter and a splash of olive oil until nicely browned then add a splash of Mederia wine; reduce; add some pasta sauce ( I had some left over) then finish with a splash of cream and let that reduce; season to taste.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Easy vegetarian pot stickers and much more...

Vegetarian Pot Stickers

I brought these to friends house as an appetizer and they were a big hit.  Here is the recipe, it's a Ming Tsai recipe.

Radishes with Fleur De Sel

This is only two ingredients but I thought this was such a good little snack I had to share...

Salmon Poached in Olive Oil

I placed two portions of salmon in two individual small baking dishes and poured olive oil in each one so it just covers the salmon and zest from an orange to flavor.  Place in a 250 degree preheated oven for 20 minutes.  It's surprising that it cooks through it such a short time with such a low temperature but it comes out  very tender and rich tasting.  Season it with fleur de sel and serve with a wedge of lemon on the side.  I served a guacamole salad and yellow beets stacked with goat cheese with this.

Homemade Pasta

I usually make fresh pasta by scooping flour onto the counter and forming the "well" in the center then cracking eggs in the "well" ...whisking the eggs with a fork.... incorporating the flour....kneading for 10 minutes...and so on.  I will continue to do it this way because I love it but for a change I tried something new.  I was watching America's Test Kitchen and they did it with the food processor and it was quick and easy and delicious.  In the food processor with the blade attachment add 2 cups of all purpose flour; 2 Tbsp olive oil; 2 eggs; 6 yolks; process for 45 seconds and remove the pasta dough to a board; knead to bring it together for a second and form a 6 inch log; wrap it in plastic wrap and chill it for 4 hours; this is where I did my own thing by using my pasta attachment from my Kitchen Aid mixer to roll it out thinly; lay out the pasta sheets for 10 minutes on kitchen towels then cut pasta into 1/4 inch strips; I do that by rolling it up and just slicing through it with a chef's knife into desired thickness;  the recipe they did was for people who wanted to make pasta without the attachment I have and so they used a rolling pin then sliced it.

America's Test Kitchen made a bolognese sauce to go along with the fresh pasta.  It looked very good but I wanted to make it more of a vegetarian bolognese and I had an eggplant that I thought I'd use in place of meat.  I diced the eggplant and cooked it with a pinch of salt and a pinch of red pepper flakes in a deep large skillet with olive oil for about 20 minutes; I had some prosuitto in the frig so I diced up about 4-5 slices and added that ( I said it was kind-of vegetarian); add a bay leaf; add 1 onion  1 celery stick and 1 carrot (that's been diced and then pulsed in the food processor 10 times to bread it down nicely) and a pinch of salt; add 2-3 Tbsp of tomato paste; cook these for about 5-10 minutes, you want the tomato paste to darken and the onions, celery and carrots to cook down; add a splash of red wine and a 28 oz can of whole tomatoes and a pinch of salt; cut the tomatoes in half if you like and just simmer for an hour or two until you taste it and it's good.  I served this over the pasta.  

To cook the fresh pasta it only takes about 3 minutes in plenty of salted boiling water.  See the finished dish below.

Leeks Vinaigrette

My husband recently downloaded "Ruhlman's Twenty" onto our Kindle Fire.  This is a book on the 20 techniques everyone should master in the kitchen. This was one of the recipes in the "Vinaigrette" chapter.  Ruhlman had me at..."it's a great bistro dish"...  Here is the recipe.

Steak Au Poivre with Celeriac Puree and Creamed Corn

I recently saw Jacques Pepin talking about cuts of meat.  He took a strip steak and cut it in half to get two (filet mignon sized) pieces; pressed it down to flatten it slightly and he said "this is for steak au poivre".... he made one so I did too.  Sprinkle each side with coarse salt and cracked black pepper to taste (I probably used about a tablespoon and a half of black peppercorns for 2 portions (1 strip steak).  I did this about 2 hours early then about 45 minutes before cooking I let it come to room temperature.  Sear in a skillet on each side until its cooked like you like and keep it warm while you make a pan sauce; to the skillet add a shallot that's minced, cook it for a couple minutes then add a splash of Cognac (be careful it will flame up), let that reduce and add a splash of beef or chicken stock, boil for a minute then add some butter to swirl in (this will add a certain thickness, shine and flavor to the sauce); add the steak back into the sauce along with any drippings; serve over celeriac puree and creamed corn (below)

For the celeriac puree...  It's a root vegetable, you peel, chop and boil like potatoes until tender; drain and add milk and butter to flavor; mash it or use an immersion blender to get a creamy texture; season with salt and pepper.  I added a little more flavor by heating up the milk first with a couple fresh bay leafs, turn off the heat and let it sit covered for about 20 minutes, it's like tea, it will infuse flavor into the milk.

For the creamed corn I cut the kernels off three cobs; heat a skillet with a Tbsp of butter and add a chopped shallot to the pan; cook it for a few minutes then add the corn and cook it in the butter for 3-5  minutes; pour in some heavy cream and let it reduce down and coat the kernels; season with salt and pepper.

Roasted Cauliflower with Brown Butter

This was another recipe from the "Ruhlman's Twenty" book.  This one is in the "roasting" chapter.  You preheat the oven to 450 degrees and prepare the whole cauliflower by trimming the bottom and removing the leaves; brush a Tbsp of canola oil all over the cauliflower, place it in a baking dish or oven proof skillet and roast for 45 minutes; remove the cauliflower from the oven and brush with 6 Tbsp of room temperature butter; sprinkle with a three-finger pinch of salt and return to the oven; roast for another 30 minutes, basting with the butter a couple times; it should be browned (as you see above) and a knife inserted should feel tender; slice and serve.  This is very tasty, I can't imagine someone not liking this.  It's buttery and delicious!

Mustard Seed Pork Chops, Allspice and Star Anise Mashed Potato and Brocolette

In the mortar and pestle I bashed up 2 garlic cloves with salt, red pepper flakes, black pepper and dry thyme, drizzled in some olive oil (enough to coat the two pork chops) and rubbed it all over the chops then I sprinkled on mustard seeds and let that sit in the frig for a few hours until dinner time.  I browned them in my cast iron skillet and put the whole pan in a 375 degree oven for about 5 minutes or until they are just cooked through (about 160 degrees) and let them sit for 5-10 minutes (covered with aluminum foil) and let the carry-over-cooking take it up to 165 degrees internally.  

For the potatoes, cook them as you would make mashed potatoes but infuse the milk with flavor... I poured into a saucepan maybe a cup of milk (depends how much you're making) and added a whole star anise along with about 6-8 whole allspice berries, turn to med-high and when the milk starts to simmer turn off the heat and cover it for about 15-20 minutes; when the potatoes are cooked through alternate cold butter with the hot flavored milk (that you've strained) until they are creamy delicious; season with salt and pepper of course; you will be surprised at the amount of flavor you get when you do this! You can flavor the milk with any flavor you want, I did this with a bay leaf in the celeriac puree (from this post) and its quite good.

For the broccolette I blanched them first in salted boiling water until they were tender; remove to a plate and let cool until you are ready; when ready to finish cooking soften some onions if you like in a skillet with butter then toss to coat the broccolette with the butter, warm through then season to taste with salt and pepper

Homemade Ricotta Gnocchi with Short Rib Ragu and Eggplant Charlotte 

After our trip to Florida during a snow storm up in New England our friends took care of us and shoveled our driveway so I had to return the favor and make them dinner; I also was dying to make some kind of fresh pasta after going to what could be a new favorite restaurant in Naples called Osteria Tulia; I figured I'd make ricotta gnocchi so it's 8 oz of whole milk ricotta that you strain overnight to remove any excess liquid; the next day you mix the strained ricotta with 2 eggs, the zest of 1 lemon, salt, pepper and about 1 cup of flour; first mix all ingredients in a bowl holding off on some of the flour and when it comes together remove the mixture to a board and knead, adding more flour if needed; it should be soft but not sticky ( the more you work the dough the tougher it will get and the more flour you incorporate the heavier it will get so be careful);  Using a pastry scraper cut off a small piece and roll into a long 1/2 inch thick snake; cut 1/2 inch pieces and either roll the pieces on the back of a fork to make the typical gnocchi grooves or leave just like they are and place on a flour-dusted cookie sheet; when you fill the cookie sheet freeze for an hour or two then remove them to a freezer bag; when you are ready to cook them just cook them in salted boiling water for about 3-4 minutes; remove to the sauce and cook them in whatever sauce you made.

For the short rib ragu I used my pressure cooker and I basically seasoned then browned the meat first and remove to a plate; add chopped onion, chopped carrots and  minced garlic to the same pan and cook for 5 minutes add a couple tablespoons of tomato paste, bay leaf, garlic, 2-3 cups of red wine; let the red wine cook down to about 1/2 then add the meat back in and a 28 oz can of whole tomatoes with the juices; in the pressure cooker this only took about 30 minutes and the meat was super tender; let it cool a bit and shred the meat; remove the fat from the liquid that remains and strain the liquid; the strained liquid and the meat are combined and there you have it.  I made a regular tomato sauce too so when I heated up the ragu later I added a ladle or two of the regular tomato sauce to it.  

For the eggplant charlotte it's Laura Calder's recipe and here it is.. I didn't add the cumin...FYI..

Key Lime Pie

Well I had to make this after our Florida trip to act like we were still there... It's a graham cracker crust which is here.   The filling is so easy you mix a 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk, 5 egg yolks and 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed lime juice (I have used either regular limes and key limes and I think they taste the same), you whisk the three ingredients together well and pour into the pre-baked and cooled pie shell; bake at 375 for 15 minutes; let it cool then whip some cream and dollop it on the top; serve chilled; Yummm!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Blizzard 2013 food and Mom's birthday

Mom's Birthday Cake

Mom loves chocolate and creamy things so I combined them.  She is also trying to stay away from gluten so this is a flour-less chocolate cake with fresh raspberries and whipped cream between the layers.  I topped it with a smooth layer of chocolate ganache.  Here is the cake recipe.  It's Jacques Pepin's chocolate roulade cake recipe but I cut it into long rectangles instead of the roll.  I have made the roulade many times but this time I imagined it this way, stacked high... I just whipped some heavy cream with vanilla and sugar ( use either confectioners sugar or granulated they both work).  I thought to keep the weight of the cake from smooching out all the cream you need something solid to keep it straight and high so that's where the raspberries came in (maybe 10 raspberries in each layer spaced evenly, especially on the edges).  Chocolate ganache is just heavy cream heated to just under the boil then chopped chocolate ( bittersweet is the best) added and stirred until it melts in.  Depending on how thick you want it is how much the chocolate to cream ratio is...usually it's equal amount like 4 oz each for this cake.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

This is NOT the way you would usually get it in a restaurant, it's my "healthy" version.  You usually will get this loaded with cheese and mayonnaise and who knows what else is in it and what you thought was a healthy choice may not be.  I chopped 3 small leeks or about 1 big fat one into 1/4 inch slices (white and light green parts only), soften in a skillet with about a Tbsp of olive oil for about 5 minutes; wash and chop a bunch of spinach and add that to the skillet with the leeks (don't worry if the spinach is still wet it needs that liquid); season with salt and pepper and cook over medium heat until the spinach is tender and most of the liquid is cooked away about 5-10 minutes more; add the spinach mixture to a food processor and pulse a few times; add artichokes (I added almost a whole can of drained artichokes but add as much as you like depending on the amount of spinach you have); add about 1-2 Tbsp of full fat sour cream and pulse; the consistency should be smooth but with little pieces of artichokes, not like baby food; chop some scallions and stir them in if you like and season with salt and pepper to taste.  I topped it with some Panko bread crumbs moistened with a little olive oil then put it into a 375 degree oven for 10-15 minutes or until the top looks browned.  I served this with blue corn chips.  I didn't miss the extra fat...

Salmon and Vegetable Salad with Creme Fraiche and Dill Dressing

I started with shiitaki mushrooms, cut them into large pieces and cooked them over high heat, season with salt and remove to a large bowl; chopped some leeks and cooked them for a minute in olive oil, add sliced fennel to the leeks and cook for a few minutes; add snow peas and cook for an additional minute, remove to the bowl with the shiitaki; sear a piece of salmon (4-or so oz per person); when it's cooked let it rest for 5 minutes and break it up into big bite sized pieces and add it to the bowl with the vegetables; I found this green at Whole Foods called Tat Soi and it says that its used in oriental cooking in stir fries and such; I put that on the bottom of the plate as the "bed" for the salmon salad; I made a little dressing for the salad by combining a couple tablespoons of creme fraiche and a bit of lemon juice, some chopped fresh dill and salt and pepper to taste; spoon some of the dressing into the bowl and toss to combine, add to the bed of greens and spoon some more dressing around...Yummy

My Famous Turkey and Mushroom Burger with Naples Potatoes

One day I made this recipe up and it has become a favorite for us and our fellow Naples Florida and Massachusetts neighbors (Lisa and John).  I have blogged about this before but I'll tell ya again in case you missed it.  I finely chop a package of Bella mushrooms and mince a shallot; heat a non stick skillet with olive oil over medium-high heat and add the shallots and mushrooms together; cook over med-high heat tossing so it all cooks evenly; season with salt, pepper and fresh thyme; continue to cook until the mushrooms start to turn brown but not dried out; cool the mushroom mixture then add it to 1/2 pound of dark turkey meat; season with salt and pepper and form into patties; cook through either on the grill or in a skillet; top it any way you like but here I did some caramelized onions, Boucheron cheese, mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato.

For the Naples Potatoes I call them that because I made them for the first time in Naples and our friend came to dinner that night, they have been made many times since.  It's just Yukon Gold potatoes that you can peel or not and cut into bite sized pieces; boil in salted water until just about done (don't cook them too long or they will start to break apart but you want a knife to go in easily); drain and drop them onto a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and toss to coat; roast at 400 degrees until browned and crispy edges which will take about 40 minutes.  

Shiitaki , Baby Bella and Stilton Galette 

Make or buy a pie crust and have ready while you make the filling.  To make the filling chop the white and light green parts of 1 or 2 leeks depending on the size; cook in a skillet with a tsp of olive oil over medium heat just to soften then remove to a bowl; wipe out the skillet and put it back over the heat on medium high; add a couple tablespoons of olive oil and once hot add a whole bunch of sliced mushrooms ( I sliced into 1/4 inch pieces a small package of Bella mushrooms and a good cup and a half or so of Shiitaki mushrooms); cook mushrooms until they wilt down, add a pinch of salt and then allow any liquid to evaporate, this will take 5-8 minutes; remove and add to the bowl with the leeks; I added a couple Tbsp of Greek yogurt but if you have it add sour cream or creme fraiche, stir together to combine all ingredients; roll out the pastry dough and place on a sheet pan lined with parchment or a Silpat liner; put half of the mushroom filling in the center and spread it out to about 1 1/2 inches from the edges (start with a 14 inch round give or take); drop about 2-3 Tbsp of Stilton cheese (or your favorite blue cheese) in chunks on the filling; layer the rest of the filling over the cheese and top with another 2-3 Tbsp of Stilton; fold the edges of the crust over the filling leaving the filling exposed in the center; brush egg wash on the edges of the crust so it browns nicely; place in the lower third of a preheated 400 degree oven and turn the heat down to 375, cook for 45 minutes.  Oh boy is this good!!

Blizzard Ham and Cheese Panini

During the blizzard of 2013 I had stocked the frig with lots of things to get us through the 2-3 days we'd be trapped in our house ( I was hoping we wouldn't lose electricity and thankfully we didn't).  This is a Hogie bun I got at Whole Foods and its got ham, american cheese, mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato pressed in a panini press and served with Salt and Pepper Kettle brand Krinkle Cut chips.

Blizzard Burrata Cheese with Tomato and Basil Salad

If you haven't tried Burrata Cheese you must!  It's a very soft cream filled mozzarella ball that explodes with yum!  I chopped a tomato with fresh basil, olive oil a bit of sherry vinegar and salt and pepper.  I served a couple slices of sourdough bread along side and it was a delicious first course.

Blizzard Flank Steak 

As I said above I got ingredients for the blizzard and some things without knowing exactly what I would do with them.  I got this flank steak, tomatoes, Kalamata olives among other things.  The next morning I happened to be flipping through a Bon Appitit magazine from June 2012 and this recipe was on one of the pages..."grilled flatiron steaks with tomatoes and tapenade"... so I had to make it, here it is.  I used a cast iron skillet because of the blizzard and it was really good.

Red Bliss Potato Salad with Onion and Red Peppers

Boil the potatoes whole until tender and set aside to cool for a second.  Meanwhile heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and toss in sliced onion and slice red pepper (about 1/2 of each).  Cook for a couple minutes to soften over medium high heat; lower the heat and add about 2 Tbsp of mustard, 2 or 3 Tbsp of Sherry vinegar, about a tablespoon of honey, whisk in a little more olive oil, salt an pepper; taste for seasoning; slice the potatoes and layer in a serving dish with the onion and pepper mixture; season each layer with salt and pepper and fresh basil.

Blizzard Chicken Wings

I got some chicken wings and tossed them in a bowl with a mixture of soy sauce, mustard, honey, 2-3 garlic cloves chopped small and a thumb sized piece of ginger chopped small; Toss to coat and heat a sheet pan in a 400 degree oven until the oven is up to temperature; Drop the chicken on the hot pan in one layer and cook tossing once or twice during cooking for 45 minutes.  The sauce was sour cream with a dollop of Dijon mustard a squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper and crumble in some blue cheese.

Blizzard Coconut and Banana Smoothies

I have been making smoothies in the morning for breakfast and lately I put in a spoon of coconut oil.  It's amazing how much coconut flavor comes from a tablespoon of the oil so I had the idea of making my banana ice cream with the addition of the coconut oil for flavor.  I mixed almond milk (just enough to get the blender going) with frozen banana slices (maybe 1-2 bananas depending how much your making), a couple tablespoons of coconut oil, vanilla and blend.  It was supposed to be ice cream but I had to add more almond milk and it came out like a smoothie.  I toasted some coconut flakes to garnish the top.  It tastes sinful but its not!!!

Jeanne's Almond Crust Tart with Creme Patissiere 

I saw someone making their pie crust one day on a wooden cutting board using a pastry scraper as the "pastry blender".  I made a small amount of pie crust the regular way but on the board with flour, butter, salt, sugar and heavy cream instead of ice water ( I was making just enough for 2 small desserts and it worked out perfectly and it was easy and delicious.  I thought later on that I should try this same idea but with almond flour so I did and it worked perfectly, with a nice nutty and buttery flavor and no white flour and only a pinch of sugar per dessert.  I made a larger amount to bring to a friends and it was enough for 6- 3 1/2 inch mini tart pans; I mixed 1 1/2 cups almond flour on the board with a pinch of fleur de sel, 1/2 Tbsp of sugar, 6 Tablespoons of cold butter, chop with pastry scraper until the butter and the flour start to come together and you can see the butter brakes down into small bits and it looks like rocky sand, sprinkle in a tablespoon at a time some heavy cream mixing it with the pastry scraper, when you can squeeze together a small about and it just holds together it's done.  Press into mini tart pans and bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until the edges start to brown.  I made a pastry cream by whisking in a bowl 1 whole egg, 1 egg yolk, 4 tsp corn starch, 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp vanilla; heat 1 cup of half and half just to a boil and pour it into the egg mixture while whisking and then pour the mixture back into the saucepan and whisk over medium heat and bring it to a boil to thicken, remove to a bowl to cool or at least 15 minutes or chill until ready, fill the cooled almond crust with cooled pastry cream and top with sliced strawberries.

Monday, January 28, 2013

A fried soft boiled egg? What???

Roasted Eggplant Stack with Goat Cheese Bechemel Sauce

This was eggplant that I sliced about 3/8 inch thick, olive oil salt and pepper and roasted in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes, turning over half way.  I had some leftover caramelized onion, leftover walnut-parsley pesto and leftover tomato sauce.  I stacked the eggplant, the pesto and the onion, eggplant, pesto and onion...etc... until I ran out of eggplant; I made a bechemel sauce by melting 1 Tbsp of butter in a skillet then add 1 Tbsp of flour, cook for a minute then slowly pour in while whisking about a cup of warm milk; off the heat melt in a chunk of goat cheese and taste to see if it's enough, season with salt and pepper; spoon over the stack letting it drip down the sides then place in a 350 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes to warm through and meld everything, then turn the broiler on and brown the top. 

Fried soft Boiled Egg on Arugula Shoots - Goat Cheese and Beet Tower with Dijon Dressing 

I Soft boiled the eggs earlier in the day; peeled them and chilled in the frig until I was ready to serve; dry them off with paper towel; dip in flour, then egg wash then Panko bread crumbs; let them sit on a cooling rack in the frig for about 10 minutes or so to ensure that the coating sticks to the egg and stays on while frying; heat a small deep pot with enough canola oil so the egg will be fully submerged when added (do one or two at a time); it will only take about a minute for each, you want to warm through the egg and have a golden coating on the exterior; serve over arugula sprouts.

Roast the beets by just wrapping them tightly in aluminum foil (no need for oil or seasoning) at 400 degrees for 45-60 minutes (depending on the size); let them cool enough to handle them easily, while they are warm cut the root end and remove the skin by simply rubbing it off with a paper towel; Slice into 1/4 inch slices and slice a log of goat cheese into 1/4 inch slices ( I used a piece of dental floss which makes it easy); stack then slice the edges so you get a nice square tower.

Here was a shot of the inside of the egg...still soft in the middle and crunch on the outside

Herb Rubbed and Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Grape Mostarda, Hannah Yams and Green beans 

I made a rub for the pork tenderloins by smashing a couple garlic cloves in the mortar and pestle, a good pinch of salt and pepper, a couple fresh sprigs of rosemary and thyme,  2 heaping teaspoons of Dijon mustard, a couple regular sized teaspoons of clover honey, a splash of soy sauce and a splash of rice wine vinegar, maybe 1-2 Tablespoons of each; I rubbed this over two tenderloins a few hours ahead; when we were ready Tony started the charcoal grill and cooked them whole with a chunk of hickory for flavor, I sliced them after.

The grape mostarda is easy to make and you can serve it with different meats and I bet this would be good on a grilled chicken breast.  You need 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 Tbsp cracked mustard seeds, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 1/2 cups of seedless red grapes, 2 tsp mustard powder; combine the vinegar, sugar, mustard seed and cinnamon stick in a saucepan and bring to a boil, continue to boil until the liquid is reduced by half; add the grapes and mustard powder and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes or until the grapes are barely cooked though.

 Hannah Yams are just simply cooked like you would a mashed potato.  Green beans were blanched until perfectly done earlier in the day then heated in a skillet with butter to warm through, season with salt and pepper.

Spaghetti Squash with Balsamic Roasted Tomatoes

Usually I just microwave the spaghetti squash like it says to do on the sticker that comes on it but this time I cut it in half and roasted it like any other squash (flesh down) with olive oil, salt and pepper at 400 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until very tender; remove the seeds in the center with a spoon then using the tines of a fork scrape all the "spaghetti" out into a bowl; top it with the sauce which I made by just draining a can of whole tomatoes and place the tomatoes on a sheet pan with a couple garlic cloves, a good drizzle of olive oil,  a good drizzle of balsamic vinegar (maybe 1/3 cup) a sprinkling of salt and pepper and some dried oregano; roast at 375-400 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until it deepens in color (move it around a couple times while it cooks with a spatula to keep the balsamic from burning on the edges); taste for seasoning then top the squash with it; grate some parmigiana reggiano over the top.

Casarecce with Walnut Parsley Pesto Cream Sauce

I had to find the box to tell you what kind of pasta this was but you can use any kind you like of course.  I made the sauce by first making the pesto; I put a couple garlic cloves in the bowl of a food processor, I chopped them first just to ensure they get good and chopped up, add a whole bunch of fresh parsley (avoiding the stems), a couple handfuls of walnuts (toasted in a dry skillet), about 1/3 cup of grated parmigiana reggiano, the juice of a lemon and lemon zest, salt and pepper, pulse to combine and brake down everything pretty small; drizzle in some olive oil while the machine is running until you form a paste; taste to see if it needs more lemon or salt; to make the cream sauce add about 1/2 cup of heavy cream to a skillet over medium-high heat, add a couple heaping spoonfuls of the pesto and whisk together, heat through and taste to see if you've added enough pesto or if too much add more cream; once the sauce is a good consistency and tastes right add the drained pasta to the sauce and cook together for a minute; serve; yum
I made about 1/2 lb of pasta for this amount of sauce

Boneless Rib Eye with Fresh Rosemary, garlic, cracked peppercorns and salt

I cut a couple slits into the meat and pushed garlic slices in there; a couple rosemary sprigs placed where the bone usually is, rub the salt and pepper all over and then tie with kitchen twine to hold it all together while it cooks; I did this about 30 minutes ahead of time and let it sit at room temperature, this really lets all the flavors get into the meat; also letting it sit at room temperature helps with even cooking.

Cast Iron Boneless Rib Eye with Roasted Corn and Guacamole 

This seems like an odd combination to put on a plate in January but it did make it feel a little like summer (which is always a good thing).  I cooked the rib eye inside because it was freezing out side!  The flavors were really delicious on this steak that I described above.  The avocados looked really good so I made some guacamole with just the avocado, some lime juice, fresh diced tomato, salt and pepper and something I don't usually do but I thought it needed some olive oil to enrich it.  I served a few blue corn chips (as the bread), and the corn on the cob which I describe below.

 Roasted Corn On The Cob
I did this before and they were so good I had to do this idea again.  Butter, salt and pepper the corn cob's, then wrap in foil, roast at 375 for 30 minutes; it's an easy way and it really comes out nice and intensely flavored

Savory Cheese Cake over Arugula

I didn't measure anything here, so maybe it's not that important to be exact, this is what I did.  Keep in mind I only made 2 portions so if you want more that double this...In a food processor add 4 oz of cream cheese, an ounce of blue cheese, a couple-three tablespoons of Greek yogurt, 1 egg, salt and pepper, fresh thyme to taste.  Buzz it all up and spoon into 2 small souffle cups that you've buttered and coated with bread crumbs; press into the center another chunk of blue cheese; bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes; it puffs up a bit like a souffle; serve over an arugula salad simply dressed.

Pizza of caramelized onions, baby kale, fresh mozzarella, roasted red peppers and homemade slow cooked tomato sauce with fresh oregano from Puerto Rico  

When my friend Maria from work brought back some fresh oregano after a trip to Puerto Rico I had to make something to showcase it.  A pizza was the first thing that I thought of.  I use my food processor to make the dough which is 1/4 cup of 110 degree water mixed with just over a tsp of instant dried yeast and 1/2 tsp of sugar; measure out 5 oz of room temperature water and a tablespoon of olive oil and set aside; in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the dough hook add 11 oz of bread flour and 3/4 tsp of kosher salt; after the yeast mixture is bloomed which takes about 5 minutes add the room temperature water and olive oil mixture to the yeast mixture and mix together with a fork; pour this into the flour mixture while pulsing and after all the liquid is in run the processor for 30 seconds (this kneads the dough); dump the dough out onto a floured board and knead just enough to make it smoother which takes about 10 kneads; place the dough into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a towel in a warm spot to rise for an hour; punch down and let it rise again for another hour (sometimes I let it rise even an hour and a half each time);  carefully spread out the dough and top it with whatever you like.  I made the sauce with canned whole tomatoes cooked in a good amount of olive oil, whole garlic cloves that you remove after cooking, salt and pepper and of course the fresh oregano; let it simmer uncovered to thicken for about an hour.

Salmon and Cucumber Tea Sandwiches served with Arugula and Kale Salad

I made some aioli with an egg yolk, dijon mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper and cumin.  I used cumin because I heard that morning you should eat cumin with omega 3's, so I tried it and it was good.  I spread the aioli on the bread and layered smoked salmon with thin cucumber slices on each side, cut the crust off then cut into quarters.  I made an arugula and baby kale salad with fingerling potatoes and roasted mushrooms and shallots.  

Individual Baked Alaska

Just make a basic white cupcake (I made one up for this and it needs work), cut off the top and scoop in vanilla ice cream, put the top back on and then top with meringue; to make the meringue it's 4 egg whites at room temperature that you beat with a 1/4 tsp cream of tarter, after it starts to change to white beat in 1/2 cup of sugar very slowly and continue beating until stiff peaks form; beat in a tsp of vanilla; you should be able to hold the bowl upside-down over your head, then you know they are whipped enough.  Brown the meringue with a hand held torch or under the broiler.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Seaberry/Sea Buckthorn Berries

Please check out Tom's Seaberry/Sea Buckthorn blog when you have a chance.  Seaberry/Sea Buckthorn is a very interesting ingredient that's getting lots of attention in the food world recently.  In the recent issue of Bon Appetit, it's listed as the "Ingredient of the moment" (pg 26 of the Feb 2013 issue).

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Soft boiled eggs anyone?

Soft boiled egg over shoestring fries

Martha Stewart has yet another show called.."Martha's Cooking School"... we were watching an episode on potatoes one day and the next morning a show on poaching eggs.  With both ideas fresh in my mind I combined them for breakfast.  I didn't deep fry the potatoes like she did.  I used a mandolin to cut the potatoes into shoestrings, rinsed in a bowl of cold water and paper towel dried them; I used a nonstick skillet with a good coating of olive oil at the bottom, heated the oil first then drop in the potatoes and sauteed them over medium high heat until they became crisp; season with salt and pepper.  The egg is a fresh farm extra large egg, only a couple days old (thanks to my friend Lisa) and I just bring a saucepan of water with a bit of white wine vinegar to a good simmer; carefully drop in an egg and allow to cook for 3 minutes; remove with a slotted spoon and remove any excess water on paper towels then serve over the potatoes...

I had some tomatoes that were getting old so I roasted them with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, a couple tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, whole garlic cloves with the paper on, salt and pepper at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.  I let it cool to room temperature and serve with fresh mozzarella cheese and a crunchy slice of french bread (pictured below)

Roasted Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Crostini (above)

Finnish Raspberry Pancake

I was flipping through the pictures on Pintrest and I came across this pancake, it was early Saturday morning and I was trying to figure what to make for breakfast so I made this.  It's not the regular pancake you know well, this one is from Finland and it's more like a custard, it's cooked in the oven and topped with jam and a drizzle of honey.  It was interesting...I will make it again...

Here is a slice of the Finnish pancake described above.

Caramelized Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Stewed Apple and Pears

I started with the stewed fruit by peeling and dicing one Granny Smith apple and one Bosc pear into 3/4 inch dice; add to a saucepan with a pat of butter over medium high heat for about 20-30 minutes or until they are tender and slightly browning.  While they cook remove the silver skin from a pork tenderloin and slice into 1 1/2 inch medallions, lay them down and press down slightly so they are now about an inch thick; season with salt and pepper on both sides then sear in a skillet for about 2 minutes per side; remove to a warm 150 degree oven just to keep them warm while you make the sauce; deglaze the pan with about 1/2 cup of red wine, let it boil down for a minute while you scrape up any brown bits from the pan; add about 1/2 cup chicken stock and let that boil for a few minutes; finish with a tablespoon or two of ketchup (Jacques Pepin's trick to finishing his sauces which adds richness and flavor); taste to see if you need any seasoning; add the pork and any juices that accumulated back to the sauce just to coat and serve over the stewed fruit.

Salmon en papillote

Cooking en papillote is cooking (usually fish) in a parchment paper, sealed tightly and baking it in the oven.  I first lay a portion of salmon that's been seasoned with salt and pepper on the parchment then saute a chopped shallot in olive oil for just a minute to get it going then sprinkled it over the salmon; chop a tomato and added them along with some fresh tarragon; fold the parchment like a book and seal the edges by making small folds overlapping until you've worked your way all the way around; brush the parchment with oil so it looks pretty when it comes out of the oven; bake on a sheet pan for 10 minutes at 400; serve as I did (below) in the paper just cut open and pushed aside or remove it completely by sliding it onto a plate.  I served this with potatoes that I cut into a small dice; boiled until tender; drain well; heat a non-stick skillet with olive oil; add the potatoes tossing now and then to brown; this process takes about 20-30 minutes.. Serve with a slice or two of lemon...

Salmon en papillote

Roasted Kale

I forget where I saw this but someone roasted these whole Dinosaur Kale leaves so I had to do it too... I washed and dried the leaves then lightly brush with olive oil, a little salt and pepper then roast for 20 minutes at 400 degrees until they turn into "potato chips"... 

Turkey Scaloppine with wild mushrooms and Israelian couscous

Jacques Pepin was making this on his show "fast food my way" so I made it.  He used dried morel mushrooms but I used a combination of dried mushrooms that I had in my pantry and it worked perfectly.  Basically you put about a cup or so of dried mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with hot water and let it reconstitute for 20 minutes or so; pound out turkey breast to about 1/4 inch; season with salt and pepper; dredge in flour knocking off the excess; brown on both sides in olive oil in a non-stick skillet which should only take a total of 4-5 minutes; keep warm while you make the sauce; add a finely diced shallot to the pan after 30 seconds add the reconstituted mushrooms and slowly pour in the liquid the mushrooms were soaking in but hold back the very end where there may be some sand that you don't want in your dish; cook that down to pretty much nothing then add about 1/4 cup of heavy cream then reduce that for a few minutes until a nice consistency; add the turkey back to the sauce and coat it.  Serve with Israelian couscous which only takes about 10 minutes to cook; I flavored it with 1/2 of a small onion finely chopped and sauteed in olive oil first then I added 1 tsp of turmeric and I used homemade chicken stock for the liquid instead of water.

Pistachio Crusted Veal Chop

I always let a piece of meat like this sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before cooking, it will ensure even cooking.  Also 30 minutes before season with salt and pepper on each side.  I pulsed a handful of pistachio nuts in the food processor along with a handful of fresh parsley leaves until it's like coarse breadcrumb consistency.  Brush on a teaspoon or two of Dijon mustard to help the crust stick and add flavor; press on the pistachio mixture; in a oven safe skillet heat some olive oil then add the veal; cook on that one side for about 5 minutes then put the whole pan in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until it's perfectly done for you!  I served mashed potatoes and a green salad with this.

Cherry Tart

I had about 1 pound of cherries that I pitted and added to a bowl along with, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch and 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice; mix together and pour into the center of a rolled out pastry dough; fold the edges up over the filling and onto a cookie sheet; add a pat of butter to the top of the cherry filling and brush the crust with heavy cream or egg wash then sprinkle on a bit of sugar; into a preheated 400 degree oven for about 50 minutes or until the crust is browned and the filling is bubbling.

Mousse Cups

This is something I made and brought to a friends house for New Year's Eve.  It's these little plastic shot glasses I got at The Party Store that I first placed a raspberry at the bottom, then some vanilla pudding and some chocolate mousse; I had these little spoons which were perfect and decorated them with some wire-ey things I found at the party store.