About Deborah

Deborah
Deborah is a wife, mother, grandmother, traveler, bootlegger, and a very poor speller! As Victor Hazan so eloquently puts it, Deborah has chosen Umbria to be the home of her soul. When she can’t be there in body, she spends her free time cooking & reading about Italy. She blogs mostly about food and about trips – past and future – here: Old Shoes New Trip.

About Cindy

Cindy
Cindy lives in Eagle River, Alaska where her freezer is always full of salmon, halibut & shrimp. Cindy participates in several regular cooking challenges. You can read more about her cooking and life in the last frontier on her blog, Baked Alaska.

About Jan

Jan
Jan is a serious home cook who loves to read recipes and then do her own thing. Her focus is ingredient driven comfort food, often with an Italian influence. She is passionate about all things Italian, especially the cuisine & the language. Jan blogs about food and travels (next trip to Italy: May/June of 2012) at: Keep your Feet in the Street.

About Palma

Palma
Palma is a Marriage & Family Therapist in Palm Desert, CA. She’s an Italian-American with a passion for cooking, entertaining, & travel to Italy. She’s always planning her next culinary adventure to Italia on her blog, Palmabella's Passions

About Sandi

Sandi
Sandi is a true Southerner, but a traveler & Italian cook at heart. She lives in Alabama and knows more about fried green tomatoes than fricassees. Her family owned the WhistleStop Café for many years. Sandi also blogs at Whistlestop Cafe Cooking.

About Kim

Kim
Kim joins us after being our permanent sub on the Pomodori e Vino project. Kim loves to eat, drink, travel and cook - probably in that order. When she's not here, you can find her organizing and leading food, wine and beer tours in Europe as co-owner and operator of GrapeHops or blogging at What I Really Think or The Amy Foundation.

About Jerry

Jerry
Jerry is a food obsessed Canadian. He learned to love Italian food as a child while eating the meals prepared by his Napolitano uncle. He learned to cook Italian foods by watching his uncle cook these feasts for the family. This love of Italian food has been honed through serious personal experimentation in eating and cooking. Willing to try most anything once, Jerry isn't so sure about tripe! Jerry also blogs at Jerry's Thoughts, Musings, and Rants!

Our Subs

About Beth

Beth
Beth, along with her husband, Mike, is co-owner of two Italian Deli/Markets in St. Louis - Viviano’s Festa Italiano. When not creating yummy new menu items for the deli, she’s the pediatric research lab supervisor at Washington University School of Medicine. Read more out about Viviano’s Festa Italiano.

About Amy

Amy
Amy is a teacher in suburban Boston with far too many cookbooks, her Grandmother's meat grinder and canning jars, and a new Wolf stove. She appreciates cuisines from around the world, with a particular fondness for French, Moroccan, Italian, Vietnamese, and Indian cooking. Tweaking her cooking and eating habits resulted long-lasting weight loss and health benefits, proving that living well still tastes good. An old hobby is knitting; and a newer one is canning preserves. Read more from Amy on her blog, Destination Anywhere.

Main

Main Dishes Archives

October 3, 2011

Proscuitto-Wrapped Salmon with Plum Salsa

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For those who don't know me, my name is Cindy and I reside in Eagle River, Alaska. I love to cook, and seem to go through spells of being creative and challenging myself, and being in a rut cooking basic things like grilled fish and steamed vegetables. I love to bake, but as I try to lose weight I find myself cooking more with the fish and shrimp that stocks my freezer. That's one of the advantages of living in Alaska, having a boat, and a husband who loves to fish.

Today is my first posting for the Flavors challenge, the first of fifty-two. I'm really looking forward to this challenge, as I think this challenge will make me a better cook. We will learn about our key ingredients, their flavor profiles, seasons, and their most complimentary ingredients. Then we will develop our own recipe which you'll see here along with photos of our completed dishes.

As Deborah told you yesterday, our first ingredient is PLUMS. I decided to pair those plums with the following complimentary ingredients: ORANGE JUICE AND ZEST, ginger, mint, olive oil, red onions, black pepper, and prosciutto. I'm starting off using a lot more than the 3 required ingredients. Each week, I'll let you know what complementary ingredients I have used, and I'll also list them as they are in the book-either BOLDED IN CAPS, bolded, or just plain type.

I really enjoyed this recipe. The saltiness of the proscuitto contrasts perfectly with the sweetness of the plums. The salsa is also made more flavorful with the addition of fresh mint and ginger. The salsa sounds like it has a lot of ingredients, but they blend really well and make a flavorful salsa that would also go well with chicken or pork.

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Continue reading "Proscuitto-Wrapped Salmon with Plum Salsa" »

October 12, 2011

Apple-Chicken Pie with a Cheddar Crust

I wanted to try an entree with apples, so I thought about tweaking a chicken dish I made last fall, and baking it inside a cheddar pie crust.

For the crust:

2 3/4 c. flour
1 1/2 sticks cold UNSALTED BUTTER, cut into small pieces
2 c. grated cheddar
a pinch of salt
6-8 T ice water

Combine flour and salt in bowl of a food processor. Add butter and pulse until combined. Add cheddar and pulse (do not over work dough). Add ice water a tablespoon at a time until dough forms a ball. Divide dough into two balls, smash into disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and keep in the fridge for at least an hour or overnight.

Filling:

4 chicken thighs
7 oz. chopped pancetta
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 honeycrisp apples
1 c. apple cider
1/2 c. Bourbon or CALVADOS
thyme
1/3 c. CREAM
salt and pepper to taste

Cook pancetta in a large skillet. Dredge chicken thighs in flour, and cook, browning them evenly on both sides.

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Remove chicken from pan and add thinly sliced onions until they begin to caramelize (5 minutes). Add brandy and reduce. Add apple cider and reduce again. Cut up chicken into bite-sized pieces, and return to pan, making sure chicken is completely cooked.

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Add apples and cook for 2 more minutes. Add cream and stir, add thyme and heat through. Take pan off heat.

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Assembly:

Remove dough from fridge 20 minutes before rolling (while filling cools). Roll our larger disk on floured surface into a 16' circle (about 4 inches larger than top of pie dish). I used a deep dish pie pan. Trim edges and save any scraps of dough. Pour filling into crust. Top with remaining cheddar. Roll out second disk of dough to a 12" circle, and cover pie, pinching together edges with you thumb. Cut slits in top crust. Optional: cut out dough from scraps to decorate. I made 6 small leaf shapes. Brush top of pie with a beaten egg, and bake at 325 for 45-50 minutes until a deep golden brown.

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This was an interesting combination of fall flavors. I think if I made it again, I would decrease the ratio of apples to chicken, as I would have liked the chicken flavor to be more dominant, with just the hint of apples. The crust was fabulous: flaky, easy to work with, nicely browned and pretty. The flavors of cheddar, pancetta, onion, thyme, bourbon and cream went well with both the apples and the chicken. It was an interesting fall flavor experiment. We're having the leftovers tonight!

October 13, 2011

Apples and Ginger over Pork

The Flavor for this week is Apples!
I immediatly thought of a ton of things to do with apples... but I wanted to try something different.
The flavor profile for Apples is wide open. They can be paired with sweet as sugar and caramel, or savory as cumin or horseradish; They suggest pairing with red cabbage or with pumpkin. The most recommended flavor is Cinnamon.
Pork with Apples and Ginger
3 Tbs fresh minced GINGER
4-5 apples
2 Tbs pure MAPLE SYRUP
1 Tbs OLIVE OIL
2 Tbs BROWN SUGAR
1/4 cup chopped PECANS
1 pound PORK cutlets
3 Tbs fresh ROSEMARY
3 Tbs OLIVE OIL
Preheat the oven to 350°
Combine 3 tablespoons olive oil with minced rosemary and set aside for the oil wo absorb some of the rosemary flavor.
Peel and slice apples into 1/2 inch slices. Spread a baking dish with foil. Toss the apples and ginger with syrup and oil. Spread the apples onto the foil and sprinkle with sugar and pecans. Gather the foil and seal. Bake for 30 minutes until apples are tender.
Pour the rosemary oil into a skillet. Pan fry chops will browned on both sides.
Place chops in a baking dish, cover with baked apples and sauce. Bake until pork is cooked to 160°
Serve warm pork with baked apples, pecans and rosemary. I also threw in a side of Rosemary roasted Sweet Potatoes for the perfect compliment.
Y'all enjoy~
Sandi

October 17, 2011

Grilled Mushroom, Swiss Cheese and Truffle Oil Sandwich

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Deborah introduced you to this week's ingredient, mushrooms. I love mushrooms, and had to really think about what I wanted to create that was different than what I usually do. I decided that I was going to make a Mushroom, Swiss Cheese, and Truffle Oil Pizza. I stopped at the store on the way home from work to purchase some mushrooms, but I had a hard day at work and by the time I was home I was tired and hungry and I didn't want to make pizza dough. I had some home-made wheat bread that a friend had given me the day before, and I decided that the same topping that I was going to put on the pizza would be great in a grilled sandwich.

This recipe is pretty loose on the quantities. You can really use as many mushrooms and as much cheese as you'd like. I'll tell you what I did, but feel free to adapt as you see fit. I have to admit-this is one of the best sandwiches I've eaten. At least the best I've made.

This week our main ingredient was mushrooms. The complimentary ingredients I used were BUTTER, unsalted, Swiss cheese, OLIVE OIL, and fresh thyme.

GRILLED MUSHROOM, SWISS CHEESE, AND TRUFFLE OIL SANDWICH
Serves 2 (you could probably get 3 or even 4 sandwiches out of the filling)

12 ounces fresh mushrooms (I used a mixture of shitake, cremini, and oyster), thickly sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
6 ounces Swiss cheese, thinly sliced or grated
Truffle oil
Butter, for cooking in
4 slices sturdy bread, your choice of variety

Place olive oil in large skillet. Heat on med-high. When hot, add mushrooms, shallots, and thyme. You want the mushrooms to sear, so don't stir at the beginning. Wait until they are browned on one side before you stir. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms and shallots are tender and browned. (If they start to burn, turn heat down a little.)
Remove to a plate and set aside.

With a paper towel, wipe out the skillet. Turn heat on med to med-high, and place butter in skillet to melt (I used about 2 teaspoons butter.). When butter is melted, place the bread in a single layer in the skillet. Top each slice with 1/4 of the cheese, then place the mushroom mixture on two of the slices. When the bread is beginning to brown, turn down the heat to allow the cheese to melt and the bread to brown. When the bread is nice and brown and the cheese is all melted, drizzle truffle oil over the mushrooms (I used about 2 teaspoons). Place the halves together so you have two sandwiches. Slice in half, place on a place, and serve.

I hope you enjoy these as much as my husband and I did. The topping could also be placed on crostini, pizza, or flatbread.

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October 25, 2011

Duck Meatballs with Apricot Mostarda

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In 2007, when Andrew Carmellini was the chef at A Voce, I was visiting Manhattan and had a wonderful lunch there.. The duck meatball appetizer with cherry mostarda was so memorable that it was the first dish I thought of when preparing for this weeks duck challenge. His recipe, found in his book, “Urban Italian” includes foie gras and grinding your own meat. I was fortunate that the butcher at our local Fresh Market was willing to bone out and grind a whole duck for me. So with a nod to Chef Carmellini here’s my take on duck meatballs with mostarda.

This recipe severs 6 as a main course.

Mostarda: (makes about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 pound dried apricots
6 dried figs
3 ounces (about 1/2 cup) raisins
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/3 cup water
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 finely chopped shallot
1 tablespoon sugar
3 strips of lemon peel without pith
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dry mustard

Put all the ingredients except the Dijon and dry mustard into a sauce pan.
Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Let it cook for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool for about 10 minutes. Put the mixture and the 2 mustards into a blender and puree.
Put into a bowl.

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Duck meatballs
3 pounds ground duck (1 whole duck)
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound mushrooms, chopped
1 cup cubed white bread
1/3 cup half and half
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
1 Tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon pepper

First sauté the mushrooms in the butter, with a little sprinkle of salt, until all of the liquid is released and evaporated. Set them aside to cool.

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Put the cubed bread into a sauce pan with the half and half. Heat it very briefly until the bread absorbs the half and half. Set aside to cool.
Combine the remaining ingredients with the cooled mushrooms and bread in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Mix thoroughly on a low speed.

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Cover this mixture put it into the refrigerator for about an hour.
Preheat the oven to 425.
Form balls, about golf ball size and place on a rimmed baking sheet.
Bake for about 10 minutes, rotate the pan and turn the balls.
Cook for another 8 to 10 minutes until slightly brown and cooked through.
Meanwhile put about 1/3 cup of the mostarda into a large sauté pan.
Add some water to make a saucy consistency.
Add the hot meatballs to the pan and swirl them with the sauce for about 3 minutes until they are fully coated.

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Serve the rest of the mostarda on the side.

October 26, 2011

Grilled Duck Breasts with Hot Cherry-Balsamico Sauce

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I have only cooked duck once before, and that was in Italy with my chef friend, Judith. We were making dinner for 10 for my Palmabella's Italy tour group, and I was Judith's sous chef. Brad plucked the ducks, Judith butchered the ducks and made a fabulous Anatra ragu. With the breasts, Judith taught me to MASSAGE the breasts with honey. (Not brush, not just RUB, but MASSAGE the honey in!)

I decided to start there with this recipe. First score the skin on top of the breasts (which will help render the fat). Then massage in some honey with your hands. I used Italian cherry honey, (miele di ciliegie).

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Saute the breasts, skin side down in a skillet over medium heat until nicely seared (about 7-8 minutes). On medium heat on a grill, cook skin side up for another 14-16 minutes.

While the duck breasts were on the grill, I made a very simple Hot Cherry Sauce.

4 oz. CHERRY preserves
red chili flakes (peperocino) to taste
2 T. BALSAMICO

Melt preserves in a small saucepan with balsamico over medium heat. Add peperocino to taste, (I used almost 1/2 a teaspoon). Stir, and let reduce until duck is cooked. Slice duck and serve with sauce.

Brad almost licked the plate. I agreed that it was a fabulous combination of flavors. This recipe is perfect for a fall dinner party! Impressive and EASY!

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October 27, 2011

Duck with Cherries and Red Wine

The Flavor for this week is Duck. Now y'all, I thought for sure duck would not something that is easily found at the Piggly Wiggly. Surprise to me. . . I found it in the freezer department. I am not sure about the quality of the duck~ although with enough of the cherries and red wine. . .

The Flavor Bible describes duck as 'loud' . . . which reminds me of Daffy Duck (I confess~ I never liked that cartoon) Bill was not excited about this weeks challenge; I don't think it had anything to do with the Daffy Duck.

Back to the flavor profile ~ Duck pairs nicely with citrus and fruits, with savory like rosemary and mushrooms, of course with Thai and Asian cuisine. In my recipe, I have capitalized the foods that are recommended by the Flavor Bible.
Duck Breasts with Cherries in Red Wine
3 Tbs SUGAR
2 Tbs water
1/2 cup dried CHERRIES
2 Tbs sugared GINGER
3 Tbs BALSAMIC VINEGAR
1 Tbs OLIVE OIL
2 boneless DUCK breasts
2 cloves GARLIC
1 1/2 cup MERLOT
1 ORANGE
Place the cherries and wine in a bowl and allow to soak.
Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan, cook on low to melt the sugar. Bring to a boil and allow to come to a rolling boil for 4-5 minutes (do not stir). Remove from the heat and add vinegar and cherries (reserve the wine for later)stirring as needed. Set on a low heat and allow the fruit and juices to caramelize.
Heat olive oil, add minced garlic and cook until clear. Pan sear duck breasts 5 minutes on each side. Remove from heat and set aside. Add wine to the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce by half, then add to the cherries. Continue to boil until it reaches a thickened consistency.
Serve duck breast sliced on a bed of oranges, with cherry sauce and orange zest.
I served mine with orange flavored cous-cous. . . and the rest of that bottle of wine
Waste Not ~ Want Not !
Y'all enjoy~
Sandi

October 28, 2011

Duck Breast Tagine

I love duck, like apples, if there's something on the menu with duck, I'm probably ordering it. I haven't had luck with duck though in home, and I always thought it to be not healthy (all that skin/fat), so I steered away from preparing it myself.

That's going to change. First, I found a local seller of duck, Griggstown Quail Farm (they have a lot of cool poultry plus amazing pies; if you haven't checked them out, you should - and they mail order too). Then, after consulting Weight Watchers, I found out that if you remove the skin, duck is incredibly lean (six ounces of uncooked duck, without skin is four Points Plus, the same as chicken!). Yes, I know, the crispy skin of the duck is delicious and doing it properly is the hallmark of a good chef, but sometimes, you have to prioritize those points.

Okay - so how to prepare the duck? I had two ideas, the tagine (think Moroccan stew), or a barbecued pulled duck pizza (like barbecued pulled pork, only with duck). Again, remembering my desire to cook healthy recipes for this challenge, I opted for the tagine.

Which brought me to my next dilemma, tagines are usually slow cooked, started on the stove top and then placed in the oven for a couple of hours. I didn't think duck breast would hold up to that preparation and I couldn't get a hold of duck legs or thighs (Griggstown told me they do all their bird butchering starting around Thanksgiving, so to come back just after that and they'll have legs and thighs). I did a little research and came up with a complete stove-top methodology.

Now to consult the flavor bible. Below are the corresponding flavor ingredients I chose:

  • GARLIC, GINGER, ORANGE ZEST, CHICKEN STOCK
  • figs, olive oil
  • cinnamon

Ingredients for Duck Breast Tagine

And now for the recipe...

Duck Breast Tagine

Ingredients

  • 2 duck breasts weighing about 8 oz each (when I bought mine they were just about a pound but once I trimmed the skin/fat, they were about 8oz)
  • 1T olive oil (divided)
  • 3 large onions, sliced (I used Spanish onions I also bought at Griggstown)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1T peeled fresh ginger (I never have luck grating mine, so I minced it)
  • 1t ground cinnamon
  • 1/4t ground ginger (i.e., dried)
  • about 3 cups chicken stock (I used Cento fat free)
  • 6 dried figs, stems trimmed, quartered
  • 1/4 to 1/2t fresh orange zest

Directions

Trim all the fat from the duck breasts. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Spray a large skillet with olive oil Pam and add 1t olive oil. Heat skillet and when hot (but not smoking), add duck breast. Brown breast (about 3 - 5 minutes depending how hot your skillet is), then turn, and brown other side. Remove duck breast from skillet.1

Pour remaining two teaspoons olive oil into skillet, and add onions. Cook about 10 minutes until soft and lightly browned. Meanwhile, slice your duck breast. Add ginger and garlic and cook another minute. Add figs, stock2, cinnamon, ground ginger and sliced duck breast (and collected juices) bring to a boil. Cover and let simmer away about 35 - 45 minutes until duck is soft and liquid has cooked down.

Add the zest of the orange3 and cook for another couple of minutes, uncovered.

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Notes

1 the duck was rare when we sliced it and tender. As it cooked back in the tagine, it almost toughened up for a while (maybe 20 minutes in), but as it cooked longer it became tender again.
2I intended to use a full quart of stock but as I was pouring it looked like more than I needed so I stopped pouring, 2 1/2 cups of stock might even be enough, but you will have to judge. In the end, I took the lid off my pan so as the broth would evaporate (i.e., cook down more near the finish), to a thicker gravy.
3I find that stews, while blending flavors, can also muddle them a bit. I thought first about adding some fresh cilantro at the end but then decided it didn't necessarily go with the sweeter flavor profile I created, and opted for the orange zest at the end to brighten the dish. Chris though it may have been a tad too much zest (i.e., overpowering) but I enjoyed it.

Oh, and for my Weight Watcher peeps, this makes 4 servings, at 7 points each. We served this with whole wheat cous cous and roasted asparagus. I'll definitely make this again.

October 29, 2011

Duck Curry with Pumpkin and Green Tomatoes

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Originally I had planned to make something fabulous with duck while we were in Italy. Nope. Didn't happen. I was waaaaaaaaayyyyyy too busy loving being in Italy to even think about cooking.

I had visions of an amazing duck pasta sauce. Then after more than two weeks of eating Italian food I realized I needed a break from italian food for a spell.

Then I remembered a wonderful curry we made when we attended a Thai cooking class in Sonoma years ago. I think it was the first cooking class we ever took . . . yes, they did have cooking classes way back then. The curry was made with a store bought (yes kids, store bought) roast duck from an Asian store, red curry paste, coconut milk, chillies, and Thai basil. For my duck dish I set out to recreate this (while tossing in an extra ingredient or two to make sure I had enough of the flavor ingredients to keep those who like rules happy as a clam)

Duck Curry with Pumpkin and Green Tomatoes

1 1/2-lb. kabocha or other winter squash
4-5 cups coconut milk (use two 19-oz cans of the Mae Ploy brand)
4-6 Tbs. red curry paste
1 1/2 to 2 Tbs. palm or coconut sugar
Fish sauce (nahm bplah) as needed to desired saltiness
2 1/2 to 3 lb. roast duck, chopped through the bone into small chunks
2 medium sized green tomatoes
1 lb shitake mushrooms, roughly shopped
2-4 red hot chillies, cut into thin slivers with seeds (optional)
2 cups Thai basil leaves and flower buds

Cut the kabocha in half, scoop out the seeds. Peel and discard the greenish skin. Then cut into 1 to 1 1/2-inch chunks.

Do not shake the cans of coconut milk before opening. Spoon 2/3 cup of the thickest cream off the top of a can into a large pot placed over medium-high heat. Reduce cream until thick and bubbly (about 3 minutes), then add the curry paste. Stir the paste into the coconut cream and fry for a few minutes until it is very aromatic and darkened in color. This is an essential step in making any Thai curries - it results in a more full-flavoured sauce.

Pour in the remaining milk from both cans, stirring well to dissolve the paste to make a smooth rich sauce.

Add 1 1/2 Tbs. of palm sugar (use brown sugar if you can't find this), stirring well to blend into the curry sauce. Taste and add fish sauce as necessary to salt to the desired saltiness. This will allow you to balance the flavours.

Add the squash chunks and duck pieces (note - I deboned the duck first and just added the meat). Stir well into the sauce. If there is not enough sauce to cover most of the duck and squash pieces, add more coconut milk; or if the sauce already looks rich, add 1/2 cup of water instead, as the squash and duck will thicken and enrich the sauce even more when they are cooked.

Return to a boil, then lower heat to medium, or just enough to boil the sauce gently. Cook partially covered, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender, or cooked to your liking (15 minutes or more). Taste the sauce and adjust as needed with fish sauce and palm sugar to the desired salty-sweet combination.

Stir in the mushrooms and cook for 4 minutes.

Stir in the green tomatoes and cook for 1 - 2 minutes more.

Taste. If more hotness is desired, stir in the slivered chillies.

Stir in the basil until it wilts to a bright green color. Turn off heat and spoon curry into a serving dish. Garnish top with basil sprig(s).

Serve with rice.

I bought 2 ducks so I had extra meat to use up (a happy problem). I whipped up some duck and mango spring rolls with a zippy lemongrass and ginger sauce. I mentioned it on facebook and I was accused of being an overachiever! LOL Not wanting that particular label I shall save that recipe for something else - like my own blog.

But just to tantalize you, here is a sneak preview:

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YUM. YUM. YUM.

Have a brilliant weekend y'all. See you next weekend with my carrot creation - which was amazing if I do say so myself.

November 5, 2011

Leftover Roasted Carrot Risotto

These days everyone is talking about Cucina povera. Cucina Povera is simply making use of everything/not wasting anything but at the same time creating dishes that don’t sacrifice in taste or goodness. Cucina Povera emerged due to economic circumstances but continues today in many parts of Italy not only because of economic circumstances but also for the deliciousness of the cuisine and traditions that were created. Some recipes have become mainstream –pizza,polenta,spaghetti cacio e pepe while others are regional or less known. Cucina Povera is more than just recipes however…it’s a way of life.

This recipe is a good example of this. This week's ingredient is carrots. I had all sorts of fancy things I was going to make with carrots but I have been sick. Then work has been busy again - happily after next Tuesday my major work will be done until February. Posting day was rolling around and I had made nothing.

Last week I had made a recipe from Food and Wine for whole roasted carrots with ginger and garlic. The leftovers had sat in the refrigerator for a week . Tonight, in a panic because tomorrow is posting day, I pulled together this carrot risotto using the leftover roasted carrots.

Carrot risotto sounds . . . well . . . bleah. I wasn't expecting to be wowed by this dish yet I was. The crisp pancetta provided an interesting salty contrast to the sweet roasted carrots. The thyme complemented the sweet carrots - as it always does with carrots. All in all this was an excellent risotto . . . one I'll make again!

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Roasted Carrot Risotto

leftover roasted carrots - about 6 medium carrots
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup chopped pancetta
5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup minced shallot
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus 1 tbsp. for garnish
1 teaspoon roughly chopped fresh thyme
1/8 teaspoon white pepper

In a blender, purée half of the leftover roasted carrots with 3/4 cup hot water.

Bring chicken broth to a simmer and keep at a simmer, covered, over low heat.

Heat remaining oil and butter over medium heat in large pot. Add chopped pancetta dn saute until crisp. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add rice, stirring with a wooden spoon to coat rice with oil, 1 minute. Add wine and cook, stirring, until wine evaporates. Add carrot purée and cook, stirring, until mixture no longer looks soupy.

Add 1 cup hot broth, stirring often, until rice absorbs most of the liquid. Repeat process, adding 1 cup broth at a time and stirring often till each addition is absorbed before adding the next, until rice is al dente (about 20 minutes; at least 1 cup broth will remain).

Fold in reserved carrots (save 2 tbsp. for garnish), mascarpone, 1/4 cup parmesan, 1 tbsp. parsley, and the thyme. Add up to 1 cup broth (1/4 cup at a time) to loosen the risotto. Season with salt and white pepper to taste.

Sprinkle each bowl of risotto with some of remaining 1/2 cup parmesan, remaining 1 tbsp. parsley, and reserved carrots. Serve immediately.

November 7, 2011

Almond-Crusted Pork with Rhubarb-Apple Sauce

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This week our ingredient was pork. I purchased a couple of local, organic pork chops at one of our farmer's markets here to try. I was hoping they would be good, because they were expensive. There are very few pigs raised around here, so the pork sells for $12-$15/pound. Doesn't take much to add up there.

The complimentary ingredients I used this week were almonds, APPLES, cinnamon, cloves, and sage.

I made this recipe about a month ago, and unfortunately, I didn't do the write-up then like I thought I did. I did jot down what I did for the sauce, but that was all. So today, as I'm typing this, I'm stuggling to remember exactly what I did. It was a pretty easy recipe, so if you follow this recipe, yours should turn out just fine.

I really liked this dish. I loved the sweet-tart of the Rhubarb-Applesauce. It paired nicely with the rich pork. My pork was pretty fatty, so the tartness also helped cut through that fat.

Pork with Rhubarb-Apple Sauce
Serves 2

2 thick pork chops
Almonds, finely ground (this is where I forgot quantity-probably about 3/4 cup
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
Salt and Pepper to taste
Rhubarb-Apple Sauce (see recipe below)

1. Mix together the finely ground almonds, chopped sage, and salt and pepper to taste.
2. Coat both sides of the pork chops in the nut mixture. Place in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes, which will help the coating adhere.
3. Over medium heat, heat about 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large saute pan. When hot, place pork chops. Cook on one side until nuts are golden, then turn and sear other side. Reduce heat and cook until meat is cooked to your preferred doneness. (Unfortunately, this is where having notes would have helped. I don't remember the time it took. My pork chops weren't thin, but also not real thick. If yours are really thick, you may need to place the pan in the over to cook through without burning the nuts.
4. Top with the Rhubarb-Applesauce and serve.

Rhubarb-Applesauce
1 cup rhubarb, chopped (I used frozen I grew this summer)
3 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/8 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium to medium low heat until apples and rhubarb are tender, about 15-20 minutes. When tender, use a fork to mash until chunky.

November 8, 2011

Pork with Prunes

A few years ago, at La Zucca, in Venice, I ate a wonderful dish which combined pork and prunes. My efforts did not result in that exact dish but it did spark a little memory.
I used a pressure cooker for this (I love Victoria Wise’s “Pressure Cooker Gourmet”) but you could braise it on the stove top for a lot longer time, I’m sure.


Recipe:

Start with a 2 pound piece of pork shoulder.
Brine it for about 6 hours in:

6 cups water
1/2 cup KOSHER SALT
1/4 cup white sugar
2 cloves of GARLIC, smashed
2 fresh bay leaves, broken up a bit
3 large sprigs of ROSEMARY

Put all of the above ingredients into a large zip lock bag, in a bowl.
Submerge the pork in it and refrigerate.

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Lift the pork out of the brine, rinse it and set it aside.

For the pork:

2 large sprigs of ROSEMARY
3 carrots chopped into 1” pieces
1 very large ONION sliced the long way into about 12 wedges
20 prunes
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup dry red wine (I used the Pinot Noir we eventually drank)
1/4 cup red wine VINEGAR
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Put the rosemary into the bottom of the pressure cooker and put the pork on top of it. Spread the rest of the ingredients around it.

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Bring the cooker to pressure and cook on medium low for 45 minutes. Remove from heat and let it sit for about 15 minutes or until all the pressure is released.

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Take the pork out and set it on a platter and tent it with foil to rest.

Take some or most of the fat out of the liquid remaining in the pot. Put it back over medium high heat to reduce for 5-10 minutes. Watch for the consistency you like. Mine was quite soupy.

Remove the string around the pork (mine came with it) and slice it into serving pieces. Top with the gravy, prunes etc. from the pot.

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I served it with polenta and some sauteed kale on the side. All good!

November 9, 2011

Stuffed Pork Loin Wrapped in Prosciutto and Puff Pastry

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Who doesn't love pork? I guess it is possible, given my own weird likes and dislikes, but I thank God for all the pigs who have given their lives for me to enjoy all their tasty parts and an amazing array of preparations: roasts, chops, ribs, shoulders, and don't even get me started on bacon, sausage and cured meats! YUM, I love them all!

I wanted to do something special with this week's recipe, so I came up with using three kinds of pork in my recipe for "Stuffed Pork Loin Wrapped in Prosciutto and Puff Pastry".

Here are the Ingredients:

1 pork loin (trimmed of any silver skin)
4 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto
fresh thyme
salt and pepper
1 sheet frozen puff pastry
1 Italian sausage, removed from casing and browned
1 oz. dried apples
1 oz. dried apricots
2 T. dijon mustard
1 T. honey
1 egg + 1 T. water for egg wash

Preparation:

Thaw puff pastry , cover with a clean kitchen towel.
In a food processor, chop dried apples and apricots into small pieces.
Brown sausage
Mix honey with mustard.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Assembly

Lay out slices of prosciutto between two sheets of parchment, and roll with rolling pin.
Sprinkle prosciutto with thyme, salt and pepper.

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Slice pork loin roast down center with boning knife, cutting almost all the way through.

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Place pork on prosciutto, and stuff center with sausage and chopped apple-apricot mixture.

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Roll, tucking ends of prosciutto, all the way around roast. Set aside.

On a floured surface, roll out puff pastry to a rectangle (longer than roast and wide enough to wrap all the way around). Brush pastry with a thin layer of honey-mustard.

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Place prosciutto-wrapped roast on pastry. Roll pastry around roast, sealing last couple inches of pastry dough edge with egg wash.

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Place roll on a baking sheet on a piece of parchment. Tuck ends of pastry under.
Brush whole roll with egg wash.

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Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown and pork registers 140 degrees with a meat thermometer. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing into 1 inch pieces.

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I wouldn't change a thing, and I will definitely make it again. It is a perfect "do ahead" company dish, and LOOKS much more difficult than it is. The whole process took less than 30 minutes! Brad has put this on his list of favorite entrees!

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November 10, 2011

Prosciutto Wrapped Pork Loin with Roasted Apples and Sweet Potoatoes

Y'all can see that the flavor for this week is Pork.
That is wide open!
The Flavor profile for Pork is sweet to savory. Of course in the south ~ we lean towards the Sweet! For this week we could choose everything from Pork Chops to Tenderloin. A Boston But, pork ribs, or a southern Ham. Most of those I see with sweet BBq sauce, pineapple with cherry on top.
The Flavor Bible suggests spice, savory, or sweet (redemption!)
I was at a dilemma . . . What to do??
I thought about that southern ham with brown sugar glaze. Then~ I settled in on the back porch with the newest copy of Bon Appetit.

Their Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Loin looked amazing. They must have read the 'Flavor Bible', because the recipe just fit. I changed it up a bit ~ Made it a little easier and more Southern. Sweet potatoes and pecans can always put a little south in your mouth.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Loin with Roasted Apples and Sweet Potatoes
1 cup dried porcini MUSHROOMS
1 cup diced APPLES
2 tsp kosher SALT plus more
2 Tbs OLIVE OIL
1 cup minced ONION
1 Tbs finely minced GARLIC
2 tsp fresh THYME
2 Tbs fresh ROSEMARY
2 Tbs BRANDY
1/2 tsp freshly ground BLACK PEPPER
1 pound ground pork with SAGE
1/2 cup PECANS
2 sweet potatoes
Pork
1 pork loin
1 tsp kosher SALT plus more for seasoning
1/2 tsp freshly ground BLACK PEPPER,plus more for seasoning
3 ounces thinly sliced PROSCIUTTO
3 sprigs rosemary
3 Tbs unsalted butter
1/2 cup low-salt chicken stock
Place dried mushrooms soak until very soft, about 30 minutes. Strain mushrooms. Finely chop mushrooms and apples.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook until soft. Add mushrooms and apples; cook, stirring occasionally, until flavors meld. Stir in garlic, thyme, and rosemary; cook another minute. Add brandy and cook until liquid is absorbed. Add saltad pepper. Transfer mixture to a bowl and let cool completely. Add ground pork and stir to combine well.
Pork Loin
Season pork with 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Spread filling on top of pork loin. Roll pork into a tight cylinder. Wrap one layer of prosciutto around roast. Tie roast securely with kitchen twine in 1" intervals. Tuck rosemary sprigs under twine, spacing apart. Place in a roastg pan with chopped sweet potatoes and any remaining stuffing. DO AHEAD: Pork roast can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before continuing.
Preheat oven to 400°. Roast pork uncovered until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of loin registers 140° (it will be cooked medium but still slightly pink), about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let roast rest for at least 20 minutes and up to 2 hours.
When roast is done, spoon off fat from juices in pan. Place pan on top of stove over medium-high heat. Add chicken stock. Pour in reserved mushroom liquid, leaving any sediment behind, and cook, scraping bottom of pan to release any browned bits, until slightly thickened. Whisk in remaining 2 Tbsp. butter and season to taste with salt and pepper. Strain sauce; slice pork. Serve sauce and sweet potatoes alongside sliced pork.

November 11, 2011

Pork Medallions with Cranberry-Apple Sauce

A few years ago Chris and I visited a winery in Vermont (yes, they make wines there). Much to Chris's chagrin, I purchased a bottle of cranberry wine. I had visions of creating a recipe using the wine and pork. Well, today I finally did it, not to the grand machinations in my head at that moment but still a pretty easy and decent dish.

Pork Medallions with Cranberry-Apple Sauce

Ingredient

1 pound pork tenderloin, sliced crosswise into eight pieces
2t olive oil
1 medium apple, peeled and diced (I used a honey crisp)
1/2C fresh cranberries
1 sprig rosemary, leaves removed and chopped
1/2C cranberry wine (don't worry, I'm sure you could use any wine)
1/2C fat free chicken broth
1/2C APPLE CIDER
salt and pepper

Directions

Season the pork tenderloin medallions liberally with salt and pepper. Spray a skillet with non-stick spray and add the olive oil. Warm over medium-high heat. Add medallions and cook, turning once until browned on both sides (about 2 minutes per side). Remove from skillet.

Add apples and cranberries to skillet, cook a couple of minute until apple are lightly browned. Add wine and cook until almost evaporated, scraping the bottom to deglaze. Add roemary, chicken broth and cider. Return medallion and collected juices to pan. Reduce heat and simmer, covered about 10 - 12 minutes until pork is cooked through.

Pork Medallions with Cranberry-Apple Sauce


This came together very easily and took less than 20 minutes to cook. We liked the flavor and the only thing I may do the next time I make it (and I will make it again), is to maybe add a little cornstarch at the end to thicken the sauce a bit.

And for my Weight Watcher friends, this serves 4 and comes in at a very reasonable 5 points plus per serving (2 medallions, and a bit of sauce).

November 23, 2011

Bucatini with Brussels Sprouts and Pancetta

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I love brussels sprouts! When I saw this ingredient on the list I knew I wanted to share a favorite pasta dish of mine, so I read the list of suggested pairings from The Flavor Bible, and added thyme to my recipe. All you need is olive oil, an onion, brussels sprouts, pancetta, thyme, and a pound of pasta. (Serves 4 as a main dish)

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Thinly slice an onion, and caramelize it in 2 T. of olive oil. Meanwhile, clean and chop about a dozen fresh brussels sprouts.

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Start water boiling for the pasta. When the onions have caramelized (about 15 minutes), add the brussels sprouts and 4 oz. chopped pancetta. Add salt, pepper, peperocino, and let cook for 5-6 minutes. Add pasta to the boiling water. Any pasta will do, but I love the thick bucatini best. (This is great with freshly made pasta noodles!)

Add about 1/4 c. white wine to brussels sprouts mixture, add some fresh thyme, and let cook until pasta is ready. Toss brussels sprouts mixture with hot drained pasta, add some freshly grated parmigiano and enjoy!

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November 25, 2011

Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Quiche

Who chose Brussels Sprouts? Really, I mean how many different things can you do with them? Luckily my fellow cooks are rising to the challenge. I on the other hand, returned to one of the prime axioms of cooking, "When in doubt, cook with cheese." Never heard of that? Yeah, I guess I just made that up.

Anyway...

I like quiche (shoot me) and I honestly poked around and didn't see anyone making quiches out of brussels sprouts (yes, I know maybe there is a reason) but I figured what the heck, I'll give it a go.

My primary concern was that the sprouts would be too tough in the quiche, so I cooked them first. I wasn't sure for how long, and honestly I was maybe about 2 minutes too short in my timing (or I could have cut the larger sprouts into eighths instead of the fourths I did) but other than that, I liked it! I went crust-less though (yes, some will argue not a real quiche then but tough) in my quest to keep the points down. Other than that, I think it's all pretty straightforward.

Brussels Sprout and Bacon QuicheI forgot to take my ingredient shot prior to cooking the onion and sprouts, so they're cooked here

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 8 oz brussels sprouts, quartered (or eighths if they're really large)
  • 4 oz Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese made from 2% milk, shredded (feel free to go full fat if you want but remember I'm looking to keep points down)
  • 1T freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 3/4C fat free evaporated milk
  • 1t dijon mustard
  • 2 slices center cut bacon
  • 1T flour
  • salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat your oven to 350F degrees.

Cook the bacon until it's crisp. Crumble it after blotting well with paper towels. Drain the fat from the pan and saute the sprouts and onions in it until lightly browned and wilted. I covered my pan and lowered the heat to medium-low for 6 minutes after a quick saute on medium-high to help soften the sprouts.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg and egg whites in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour the mix into a 9" pie plate coasted with cooking spray. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes until puffy and a bit golden brown. Let sit for 5 minutes. Slice and serve.

Brussels Sprout and Bacon Quiche

At 6 slices, this comes in at 4 Weight Watcher Points Plus per serving. Honestly, with a salad or some side veggies on the sie, it probably would have filled me fine but I got so wrapped up making the quiche, I didn't do that, so I was pretty hungry and didn't find it that filling. I think it will make a good breakfast though. And tomorrow, I'll probably try it with a side of veggies.

Brussels Sprout and Bacon Quiche

December 6, 2011

Sweet and Sour Chcken and Cabbage


My grandmother used to make stuffed cabbage and now my mother makes a huge pot of it when we go to visit her. This recipe is inspired by them. Think of it as chicken and cabbage “Jewish grandmother style.”

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Almost every ingredient in the recipe was on the list in the Flavor Bible. Actually raisins is the only one not from the book.

Recipe:

6-8 chicken thighs
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 very large onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
1 medium head of cabbage, halved and sliced
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1large can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes
4 slices of ginger root
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Juice and grated zest of one large lemon
Preheat the oven to 350˚
Sprinkle the chicken with salt and brown the chicken in the olive oil, (I used a Dutch oven with a lid) about 5 minutes per side on medium high heat.

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Remove to a bowl and when it’s cooled enough to handle, remove and discard the skin. Pour all but about 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan.
Add the onion and carrots to the pan with another pinch of salt. Use the vegetables to deglaze the pan, scrapping up the browned bits. Add the canned tomatoes, ginger, raisins, sugar, vinegar and the cabbage. Stir until the cabbage is beginning to wilt. Add the chicken back into the pot, burying it in the cabbage mixture and cover.

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Put the pot into a 350˚ oven for about an hour and a half or until the chicken is just about falling off the bone.

Off the heat, add the juice and zest of the lemon and serve.
You could easily add potatoes for more body or serve it over rice or noodles. I put some pieces of baked Yukon gold on the bottom of the bowl and that worked well.

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December 10, 2011

Braised Cabbage with Ribs and Smoked Sausage

My formative years, culinary-wise anyway, were spent in a community with a huge Germanic tradition. I can remember the hearty stews, schnitzel, pork dishes, sausages and mustard . . . yes, I am now drooling at my keyboard. Food memories are a funny thing.

So when I thought of a recipe for cabbage I automatically recalled those wonderful dishes and went to town! I marinated the ribs 2 ways - grainy mustard on one side and a delicious rub on the other. After they were slowly cooked they were set aside. Next, the key ingredient - cabbage was braised with onions, beer, smoked sausage, and sauerkraut. After a few hours the ribs are placed on top of the braised cabbage mixture for a final hour of cooking.

The result was the sort of dish I remember fondly from my earlier years. Hearty, delicious, and extremely satisfying!

This is NOT a weeknight meal (unless you cook it in advance). This is the sort of thing that is perfect to make on a rainy Sunday - it will fill your house with delicious smells. It may seem like a time consuming recipe but it really isn't since most of the time involves the cabbage or ribs slowly cooking in the oven.

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Braised Cabbage with Ribs and Smoked Sausage

3 to 3 1/2 pounds pork spare ribs, bone-in
1/2 cup (or more) grainy mustard
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp caraway seeds
1 Tbsp cracked black pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 32-ounce jar of sauerkraut
4 cups thinly shredded cabbage (about 1 medium head)
6 slices, thick-cut bacon, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 lb smoked sausage; cut into chunks (I used turkey Kielbasa)
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 cups chicken stock
2 bottle of your favorite beer
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon juniper berries

Rub the underside of the ribs with the grainy mustard. Place on pieces of plastic wrap. Mash the garlic, caraway seeds, and cracked black pepper together to form a paste. Rub top of the ribs with rub. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Unwrap the ribs from plastic wrap. Wrap the ribs with aluminum foil and place them on a roasting pan. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until tender. Remove from oven and set aside.

Sauté the bacon in a large Dutch oven. When approaching crisp add the onion to the pot. Cook until soft. Add in cabbage, caraway seeds, and brown sugar. Sauté until the cabbage is limp. Stir in beer, smoked sausage, juniper berries, and chicken stock. Add pepper to taste.

Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F. Bake the sauerkraut-cabbage mixture, covered, for 3 hours.

Lower the oven temperature to 325°F. Place ribs over sauerkraut, cover, and cook for an additional hour. Add more liquid if needed.

Serve the ribs with the sauerkraut.

December 15, 2011

Fall Vegetable Gratin

Y'all can tell that I had absolutely nothing to do with the choices of Flavors we would be cooking.
Not a single Grit on the schedule.
I didn't even know enough to know that Parsnips should never be eaten raw. I am just glad I never served a veggie dish with parsnips and ranch dressing. This cooking challenge has expanded my horizons.
According to the Flavor Bible, Parsnips go well with Savory flavors and creamy sauces. I was at a loss until I pulled out my cookbook from the Hot and Hot Fish Club. Leave it to the Hastings to come up with a recipe for the humble parsnip! Once again, I have capitalized the flavors that are recommended. Fall Vegetable Gratin
From the Hot and Hot Cookbook
1/2 stick unsalted BUTTER
1 large GARLIC clove
1 1/2 tsp HERB SALT
1/2 pound fingerling POTATOES
1 small rutabaga
2 large PARSNIPS
1 large TURNIP
1 Tbs THYME
1 1/2 cups heavy CREAM
The rutabaga, parsnips and turnip should be peeled and sliced into 1/8 inch slices. The potatoes unpeeled and sliced.
Preheat the oven to 350°
Melt the butter in a small saucepan with smashed garlic clove.Pour 1Tbs butter into an 8x8 baking dish, using the garlic to smear on all sides. Discard garlic. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp of salt on buttered dish.
Arrange an even layer of sliced vegetables over the dish. Drizzle 1 Tbs butter, 1/2 tsp thyme and 1/2 tsp herb salt. Continue to layer vegetables with butter and herbs until almost full. Top with a layer of large round turnip slices.
Pour the cream over the gratin, pressing the vegetables down to coat. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 20 minutes.
Allow to sit 10-15 minutes before serving.
y'all enjoy~
Sandi

December 22, 2011

Chestnut Ravioli in Marscarpone Sauce with Sage

If y'all followed us during our Pomodori e Vino adventure, you will remember the quest I was on to find fresh chestnuts. It was January and apparently chestnuts are a seasonal item at the Piggly Wiggly. This time I was on the hunt. The minute I saw chestnuts I scooped them up. Now . . . what to do with them? ? ?
I can remember holding a bag of roasted chestnuts while wandering Christmas Bazaars in Germany; not only did they warm my freezing fingers, but they helped dilute the effects of the gluwein. I don't remember them being all that tastey.
I checked the Flavor Bible. . . and the flavors seemed to fit. Why not give ravioli a try? As usual, I have capitalized the flavors that are recommended.
Chestnut Ravioli in Marscarpone Sauce with Sage
Chestnuts In Their Shells (6 ounces)
Ricotta Cheese (6 ounces)
Pinch of Salt
Pinch of Freshly Grated Nutmeg
3 1/4 cups All Purpose Flour
4 Eggs
Mascarpone Cheese (6 ounces)
fresh Sage Leaves
Cut an X in the shells of the chestnuts with a sharp knife. Roast at 400° for 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool, then peel.
Combine chestnut meat, ricotta, zest of fresh nutmeg and salt in a processor until smooth.
Make the pasta dough by combining the flour and eggs. Roll the dough out in wide strips. Place 1/2 teaspoon of the filling at 2 inch spots along one side of each strip. Folding each strip lengthwise back over the filling and press well around the filling. Cut the ravioli with a press or ravioli wheel.
Cook the fresh ravioli in plenty of boiling salted water for 5 to 7 minutes or until they rise to the surface.
Put the mascarpone in the top of a double boiler. Mince the sage and add to the marcarpone. Heat just until melted. Serve over warm ravioli.

Happy Cooking y'all~
Sandi

December 26, 2011

Thai Sweeet Potato Curry with Shrimp

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I love sweet potatoes when the sweetness is balanced by some hot. I've occasionally run into sweet potatoes used in Southeast Asian cooking, and noted that there were several sweet potato pairings in the Flavor Bible that also went in that direction--curry, chile, cilantro, basil, garlic, onion, coconut. Beautiful shrimp were on sale at the market, so they went into the pot as well.

This is spicy!

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Thai Sweet Potato Curry with Shrimp

2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 onion, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
4 cloves garlic, diced
1 tsp. ginger, grated
1 Tbs. Thai Green Curry Paste
2 Tbs. good Curry Powder, preferably Southeast Asian

2 Sweet Potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 cup coconut milk (I used light)
1/4-1/2 cup broth
2 tsp. fish sauce
1 tsp brown sugar, to taste
juice of 2 limes

2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 cup sugar snap peas
1 lb cleaned shrimp

handful chopped cilantro, basil and mint
chili flakes (optional)

In a large skillet or shallow pot, heat the oil. Add the first group of ingredients (onion through curry powder), and let sweat and lightly cook. Stir frequently to let the curry and vegetables mix. Add the next group of ingredients (sweet potatoes through lime juice). Mix gently and let cook until sweet potatoes are almost cooked through.

Add the mushrooms, and when cooked then the snap peas and shrimp. Mix and toss gently. Cook just until shrimp are firm and pink. Toss with the chopped herbs, taste to make sure you have a good balance of hot/sour/sweet (add more sugar, lime or chili flakes to taste) and serve over rice.

We all loved this, it's a do-again.

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December 30, 2011

Sweet Potato & Bacon Pizza

Phrew! Made it in. I have to confess, I totally forgot about this week's entry until Tuesday, when I wondered, "Hey, why are all these Swet Potato posts appearing in my news stream?" Duh, smack my head time.

Here's the problem, Wednesday we headed out of town for two days, returning last night and I had absolutely no inspiration.

Well, no inspiration until we had pizza at Otto for lunch.

Last night when we got home, I checked "the bible" and this morning, I made Chris run to the supermarket for some ingredients.

Sweet Potato & Bacon Pizza

Ingredients

1 pre-made thin crust pizza (yes, I copped out - feel free to use your own homemade, but I was rushed for time)
1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped (I started with two but only used half the puree)
4 slices center cut bacon, cooked and chopped (I did mine in the microwave)
ORANGE ZEST from one orange
1T BROWN SUGAR
chipotle chili powder
cayenne
kosher salt
shredded Gruyere cheese (had some in the fridge)

Directions

Preheat oven to 425.

Cook the sweet potato in water until tender. Drain. Mix in brown sugar, good dose of salt (to taste), chili powder and cayenne (aka ground red pepper) and orange zest. Spread the sweet potato puree on the crust of the pizza. Top with shredded Gruyere and bacon. Bake on a cookie sheet in oven for 7.5 - 10 minutes. Done.

Sweet Potato & Bacon Pizza

Sorry Weight Watcher peeps, I didn't measure well, so no points on this one. I'll try to come back and post it another time.

And yep, we liked it and will make it again!

January 6, 2012

Oyster Roll (aka Flavor Roll)

I've been really nervous about this week. Oysters. I only started eating them 11 months ago. Until then I'd been afraid of that slimy thing going down my throat (basically afraid I'd gag it all up). Anyway, once I tried them though, I was hooked. Yet I couldn't imagine eating them any other way than raw with a little mignonette sauce, so this became a real challenge for me. Until I looked at the flavors book that is...

You see, a few complementary ingredients that go with oysters jumped out at me... horseradish, caviar, cucumber and vinegar which made me think ... sushi! Okay - I used wasabi but wasabi is horseradish!

I've never made sushi before so this totally intimidated me. Also, I was concerned about the concept of "chewing" the oysters. I mean, I'm fine when they slide down my throat but I was concerned about the chewiness, so I decided to flash fry them (kind of like a shrimp tempura or spider roll).

The only other concern for me was shucking the oysters. Chris is my shucker and he was out of town. Whole Foods though stepped in and shucked them for me and told me to eat them within 90 minutes - no problem!

I may have gotten a bit heavy handed with the rice but this was my first attempt at a roll and overall I'm really proud of how they came out!

Oyster Roll

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup arborio rice coating (I stole this from Michael Chiarello; it's what we use to coat our fried calamari and you can find the recipe here. We make it in batches and keep it in the freezer.
  • 1/4C buttermilk
  • 6 oysters (I used Chincoteague because they were small. I originally wanted kumamotos b/c I like them best. The Chicoteague were maybe a little too briny for this)
  • small egg caviar
  • 1C jasmine rice
  • 2T seasoned rice VINEGAR (I didn't have seasoned and used regular but it seemed good)
  • 1T wasabi powder (i.e., horseradish)
  • 1T water
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, cut in half lengthwise and seeded, then cut in long strips the length of the seaweed roll
  • nori sheet (seaweed)
  • Canola oil for frying

Directions

Cook the Jasmine Rice (any short grain rice will do though) according to package directions. When done stir in vinegar, cool to room temperature.

Shuck and drain the oysters. Soak in buttermilk to coat and then drain. Sprinkle with arborio rice coating, shake off excess and fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

Oyster Roll

Oyster Roll

Spread out Nori, shiny side down (I couldn't tell which side was shiny) on bamboo mat (I didn't have this so used a piece of parchment paper covered with saran wrap). Spread rice on seaweed, leaving 1 inch border with wet hands. Dab some wasabi on center of rice lengthwise (depending how hot you want it). Spread oysters and cucumber slices down the middle. (Note: this time I dolloped the top of the pieces with caviar. Next time I'll put it in the middle with the oysters).

Oyster Roll

From the long side closest to you, roll Nori over the filling by lifting mat (or parchment paper). Continue to roll away from you until the Nori is under itself (there are good picture directions of this maneuver on the back of the packages of the Nori). Using gentle pressure, shape roll with your hands. Remove mat (or paper and saran) and cut roll into 6 to 8 slices. Dollop with caviar. Serve with some soy sauce and more wasabi.

Oyster Roll

Oyster Roll

January 7, 2012

Oyster Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

Oysters - ICK

I suspect that oysters are one of those foods where people are firmly in the 'love 'em' or 'hate 'em' camp. I am in the latter. Of course I was in that camp never having tasted one - food loves and hates aren't generally rational.

So here I was with a dilemma - Deborah and Cindy had selected oysters as the flavor of the week and so I was forced to cook something with them.

ICK

I knew I wasnn't going to eat them raw. There was no way that was ever gonna happen.

In the end I decided to go with a fish taco sort of thing figuring that if the oysters were wrapped in a nice corn tortilla with plenty of salsas, sauces, and cilantro I wouldn't actually know there was an oyster there. Of course I had to cook them and just to ensure that there were even more flavours in each bite to disguise that oyster taste . . . I breaded them!

Now if you have never had a fish taco you have missed out on something amazing! I think it was the first time we were in San Diego that our friend Shannon directed to a restaurant in Ocean Beach that was said to have the best fish tacos in the US. We've not traveled the country trying fish tacos throughout the land but can say they were amazing and we were hooked.

There are two things we LOVE about fish tacos - the layers of flavours and the variety of textures in each bite. I tried to replicate both of these in this recipe. In the past when we've made fish tacos at home we’ve tried to lighten them up by grilling the fish instead of using the fried fish. I didn't care about light at all with this dish - I wanted those oysters coated with breading to disguise any possible oyster taste. Hell, I'd have put 9 layers of breading on 'em had I been able to figure out how to do that!

Once I figured out what I was going to do the rest was easy. Well, easy until I tried to buy the oysters. I didn't want to make an investment in the oysters so I didn't want to have to buy a shucking tool. I went to whole foods and they shucked the oysters for me and arranged them nicely on a bed of crushed ice. Had I planned on slurping them down (EWWWWWW) I could have just put the tray on the table and had at it. I laughed at Sandi's picture earlier of her oysters at Whole Foods - I believe the sign said 50 cents each. My oysters were 5 times that!

Oh well. The sacrifices one makes for blogging commitments.

Back home the oysters were stored in the refrigerator while I got everything ready (and discovered that what I had thought was cilantro in the keeper was really parsley causing another trip to the store for cilantro - thank goodness I was still on Christmas break when I made this dish!) When Paul came home from work I breaded and fried the oysters and bring the brave soul that I am, had Paul eat the first one. He didn't fall to the floor, thrashing about and foaming at the mouth, so I decided it was OK for me to eat one.

In the end I liked the tacos. I don't think I'd know it was an oyster on there unless someone had told me. I also made a shrimp version which I liked even better although that may have just been craziness on my part since my brain knew they weren't oysters!

A couple of notes - oysters contain a lot of moisture so when they fry they splatter! I'd use a deeper pan for the frying in the future. Also on the frying - I wasn't thrilled with the way panko coated the oysters - were I to make these again I'd use cornmeal instead.

On to the recipe . . .

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Oyster Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

8 oysters, shucked
8 corn tortillas, warmed
2 cups prepared coleslaw mix
1 egg, beaten
2 cups panko - seasoned with some chipotle chili powder (NOTE - I'd use corn meal next time)
canola oil for frying
Cilantro chopped (for garnish)
Lime wedges (for garnish)
Pineapple Salsa (recipe below)
Avocado crema (recipe below)
Chipotle aioli (recipe below)

Mix the coleslaw mix with half of the Avocado crema, set aside.

Dip the oyster in the egg (quiet your stomach as you fight the hurl instinct at touching one of these things). Shake off the excess egg.

Dredge the egg-coated oyster in the bread crumbs.

Fry in the hot canola oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

To assemble - place a bit of the slaw on a warmed tortilla. Top with fried oysters. Place some salsa and cream on top of the oysters. Drizzle with the aioli. Sprinkle with some chopped cilantro. Squeeze a bit of lime juice on top.

Roll.

Eat.

Repeat.

Pineapple Salsa
1 cup pineapple, finely chopped
1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 tablespoons red onion, finely chopped
1/2 hot chili pepper, finely chopped
3 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
the juice of 1/2 lemon or lime

Mix all ingredients together.

Avocado Lime Crema
1 cup sour cream or crema if you can find it – we never can here in Canada
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cubed
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped fine
1 T lime zest
Juice of two limes

Put all ingredients in the food processor - process until smooth.

Chipotle Aioli
1 cup mayonnaise
2 T finely chopped chives
2 minced garlic cloves
2 tsp fresh lime juice
2 T chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped finely

Mix all ingredients together.

January 9, 2012

WINTER SQUASH RISOTTO

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The special ingredient for today is Winter Squash. I had several winter squashes sitting around my kitchen, and I decided to try to create something from ingredients that I already had in my kitchen. I settled on making a Winter Squash Risotto. I began by roasting the squash for extra sweetness and flavor. Then I made a basic risotto, added the mashed winter squash along with some French triple creme cheese. It was a very delicious meal, and one that will surely remind you that you're in the winter season.

The complimentary ingredients I used this week were SAGE, stock,olive oil,leeks, and cheese.

WINTER SQUASH RISOTTO About 8 servings
winter squash of your choice (I used 3 different varieties-Delicata, Butternut, and Acorn (About 2 cups when roasted)
1 leek, cut in half and thinly sliced
10 cremini mushrooms, cut in half and sliced
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups Arborio rice
3 14 oz. cans chicken broth
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
2 ounces French triple creme cheese (or brie, gorgonzola, or blue)
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut squash in half, scrape out seeds, season inside with salt and pepper, and place cut side down on an oiled bakig sheet. Cook until tender, 30 minutes to 1 hour. Can be made in advance.
2. Bring broth to simmer in a saucepan. Turn to low and keep warm.
3. Place 2 teaspoons olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks and mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until both are softened. Add rice and stir for 1 minute. Add the wine and stir until evaporated. Add 1 1/2 cups hot broth and simmer, stirring frequently, until the broth is absorbed. Continue adding 1/2 cup broth at a time, allowing broth to evaporate before adding any more. Remember to stir frequently. When rice is tender (but not too soft), add the sage, squash, and cheese. Stir to combine and taste for seasons. Serve on warmed plates or bowls.


January 16, 2012

Roasted Beet, Goat Cheese and Walnut Tart

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The ingredient this week is beets. I love beets. As a kid, I ate canned beets. I liked them, but as an adult when I discovered fresh, roasted beets, my love for them grew more. One of my favorite ways to eat them is on a salad. A salad with roasted beets, goat cheese, and toasted walnuts. Yum. This week I decided to take the flavors of that salad and put them into a tart. This tart was absolutely delicious. The crunch of the crust, tang of the goat cheese, sweetness of the beets and earthiness of the walnuts complement each other perfectly. I served it the first evening with a simple green salad that was dressed with mandarin orange-infused olive oil and a sweet balsamic vinegar. Then I had some of the leftovers the next morning for breakfast. The tart is very versatile and could be served as an appetizer if made in individual small tart pans, or as a light entree alongside a salad, or as a breakfast or lunch course. It reheats nicely, but be sure and reheat in the oven, not the microwave or you will have a soggy crust.

Roasted Beet, Goat Cheese and Walnut Tart
Yield: one 10" tart
3 small to medium beets
Drizzle of olive oil
Salt & pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 tablespoons dry white wine
3 large eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 ounces soft goat cheese
1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts
10" tart shell, blind-baked (recipe below)

1. Preheat oven to 350. Wash and dry the beets and place them on a large piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Close the foil tighly around the beets and bake until beets are tender, about 1 hour. When cool, peel the beets and cut them into small chunks. (Can be prepared up to 1 day in advance.)
2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until the onion is soft. Add the wine and stir up any bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet. Cook until the wine has all evaporated.
3. Preheat oven to 350. Spread the cooked onions evenly in the bottom of the cooked tart shell. Then evenly distribute the beets on top. Sprinkle with the toasted walnuts.
4. Whisk together the eggs and cream and season lightly with salt and pepper. Pour this over the beet onion mixutre. Crumble the goat cheese over the top.
5. Bake until just set, about 40 minutes. Let sit 5-10 minutes before cutting.

Tart Shell (Pate Brisee) Yield: one 10" shell
1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
8 tablespoons ( 1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, diced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Ice water

1. In a food processor, combine the flour, salt and butter, and pulse until the mixture resembles course meal. Add the egg and pulse again until dough comes together. If dough is a little dry, add a few drops of ice water. You want the dough to hold together but you don't want a sticky wet dough.
2. Pull dough out of processor and with floured hands, shape dough into a flattened ball or disk. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to 1 day.
3. When ready to use, let dough stand at room temperature long enough you can roll it, about 10 minutes. Roll dough on a floured surface until it's large enough to fit in the tart pan with extra to come up the sides. Gently pat into pan and press up the sides of pan. Cut off excess.
4. To blind-bake the shell, preheat the oven to 375. Line the shell with foil and fill with beans, rice or pie weights. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove the foil and weights and continue baking until the crust is nicely golden brown all over.

January 22, 2012

Fancypants Truffled Burgers

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Burgers seem to be the new thing, at least as reported by the food press and bloggers. From New York to Paris, the humble burger has been tarted up enough to command ridiculous prices.

I used to not like burgers. They were dry, hard, a waste of calories. Seriously, I made a veggie burger when we had beef burgers on the grill.And then my husband Larry was given a subscription to Cooks Illustrated, and because of his engineering background became glued to the obsessive-compulsive search for the perfect techniques in cooking. He went through classic French and Italian recipes involving multiple trips to stores, piles of pots in the sink, and dinner served by 8:30 if we were lucky.

He discovered grinding his own meat for burgers. And Gentle Reader, I am now a convert.

Grinding your own beef results on a tender texture, juices oozing out of a flavorful pile of meat. Home-ground burgers cook quickly on a hot skillet, and you can dress them up or down as you like. For this excursion, we decided to make a tarted up burger, one that if served in a New York restaurant would command an insane price. From the Flavor Bible, I used onions, thyme, red wine, arugula, and a small jar of summer truffles in the pantry sealed the deal. If you don't like or don't have access to truffles, your home-ground burgers will still be amazing.

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Fancypants Truffled Burgers
Makes 6 burgers, which freeze well uncooked
2 lbs beef--we like to use 1 lb chuck and 1 lb boneless short rib

3 large onions, sliced
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. thyme
2Tbs. red wine
salt and pepper
1 Tbs. sliced black truffles (jarred Summer truffles are fine. Use the rest of the jar to top buttered fresh pasta, and invite me over)

Cheese--a mild blue cheese; or a nice nutty gruyere, sliced very thinly
arugula

Good quality buns--Whole Foods make a brioche bun with black pepper that is ruinously expensive but worth it

1. Pour yourself a nice drink. I suggest a classic vodka martini.
2. Slice the onions and saute in the oil in a large skillet over low-medium heat for 20-30 minutes until deep golden brown but not burned. Add the thyme and wine, season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Cut the meat into cubes, then put the meat in the freezer for 10-15 minutes until quite firm but not totally frozen.
4. Using the steel blade of a food processor, put small batches of the meat into the bowl and pulse until just chopped. Empty onto a cookie sheet as you go,

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5. Very gently form the chopped meat into loose burgers. You just want to tenderly gather the meat together, not press it.

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6. Toast the buns. Stir the truffles into the onion mixture and turn off the heat.

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7. Heat a thick skillet on high. Place the burgers on the sizzling hot surface, and turn after 1-2 minutes. Add the cheese, and cook another 1-2 minutes until desired doneness. If you want them any more than medium rare, I do not want to hear about it.

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8. Place the burgers on a bun half, very lightly sprinkle with good salt, top with the onion/truffle mixture, add arugula. Ketchup if you must. A bit of tomato if desired.
9. Inhale. Roasted potatoes with rosemary on the side are nice, and a little salad to appease your arteries.
10. Fight over who gets to finish the leftover onion-truffle mixture.


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January 23, 2012

Asian-Flavored Beef

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The ingredient this week is beef. I had trouble coming up with something that I thought was original. Then I remembered a recipe that a neighbor taught my mom years ago, when I was just a kid. An Asian lady moved into our neighborhood. I think she was Chinese. She taught some of the neighbor women to make wonderful fried eggrolls, and I think she also told us how to make this beef.

It's very simple and not really even a recipe. Place some type of thin-cut steak in a shallow pan. I threw away the wrapper without remembering which cut of beef I bought. You could use flank steak, or any cut that you can quickly cook on the grill. Mince 5 or 6 garlic cloves, a tablespoon or two of grated fresh ginger (I think we even used to use powdered ginger) and enough light soy sauce to come to about 1/4 or 1/2" up the sides of your pan., and place that all in the pan with the beef. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Turn the steaks to coat all sides in the soy sauce mixture. Cover the pan with plastic wrap, place in the refrigerator, and marinate from 1-3 hours.

When ready to cook, take out of the pan and grill until rare or medium-rare. That's all there is to it. Good served with steamed broccoli and maybe some rice. A simple, flavorful beef recipe.

January 24, 2012

Short Rib Stew

Short Ribs Stew

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I really didn’t know what to call this recipe. Basically I just bought the meat, put on some good music and cooked. Of course, I took notes all along so I could make the recipe. Flavors from the Flavor Bible include: bay leaf, carrots, celery, GARLIC, grits, porcini, olive oil, ONIONS, parsley, peas, rosemary, CHICKEN STOCK, FRESH THYME and DRY RED WINE. I know it seems like a lot of ingredients but it is the perfect winter dinner and well worth the effort.

Here’s the recipe:

6 pounds of beef short ribs, trimmed of most of the fat
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 carrots, sliced
3 stalks celery, sliced
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup porcini soaking liquid (can substitute more stock or water)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
6 sprigs of young fresh thyme
2 sprigs of rosemary
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1/3 cup shopped parsley
Kosher salt
Black pepper

First sprinkle the short ribs generously with salt and pepper.

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In a pressure cooker, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and brown the short ribs, in two batches, on all 4 sides—about 2 minutes per side. Remove them to a platter or bowl.

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Pour off the fat from the pan. Heat the other 2 tablespoons of oil and cook the onions, celery and carrots with the bay leaf for about 6 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook for about 2 more minutes.

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Add the red wine and deglaze the pan letting the wine bubble for a few minutes. Add the rest of the liquids, the herbs the browned short ribs and salt and pepper.

Lock on the lid of the pressure cooker and bring it to pressure. Cook over medium heat for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it sit until there is no more pressure. Remove the cover and add the defrosted peas. Serve over grits prepared with a bay leaf, a touch of cream and plenty of grated Parmigiano (I pretended it was polenta).
Right before serving, sprinkle fresh parsley on each serving.

January 28, 2012

Rosa di Parma

This is a traditional roast from the Italian province of Parma, often served for special family celebrations. ("Rosa di Parma" means it’s stuffed with Parmigiano-Reggiano and prosciutto.) Typically made with beef, it seemed a perfect fit for 'beef' week.

Let's talk about beef for a bit. I love the stuff. I used to eat beef 3 or 4 times a week. however, as I age I've been eating more meatless dinners and adding more fish to my diet to the point that I can go weeks without a slab of beef appearing on my plate. The odd thing is that I can't resist buying it when I see it on sale! I have a freezer full of tenderloin, t-bone steaks, roasts - you get the picture.

Grocery stores here will often feature a whole beef tenderloin for $5.99 a pound. I'll buy 2 or three, bring them home and butcher them up for our needs. Generally I'll get 3 or 4 roasts, 10 filet mignon steaks, and a huge bag of trimmings for stews out of the whole tenderloin. I decided to use a beautiful 4 lb tenderloin roast for this recipe.

This is not a traditional rosa di parma - I've kept the prosciutto and Parmigiano Reggiano but I've added a layer of spinach (I had a huge container of baby spinach leaves in the refrigerator that needed consuming). While not traditional it was very, very good. We had this for dinner last Sunday and we were amazed at two things: a) how quick it was to prepare, and b) how delicious it was.

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Rosa di Parma

beef tenderloin roast ( 2 - 4 lbs)
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic minced
Coarsely ground black pepper
1 package (3-ounce) sliced prosciutto
6 ounces grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
2 cups baby spinach leaves (about 4 ounces)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup red wine
Rosemary sprigs
1/2 cup beef broth

Butterfly beef with a sharp, thin bladed knife, by cutting lengthwise down center of tenderloin; open like a book. Cover with plastic wrap and pound until beef is about ¼-inch thick (I find this to be so theraputic . . . life's frustrations vanish, they do).

Stir together olive oil and garlic. Brush the inside of the beef with half the garlic oil. Sprinkle with pepper.

Layer the prosciutto over entire surface of beef. Top with cheese and spinach leaves. Carefully roll meat lengthwise into a long slender roll. Using kitchen twine, tie to secure.

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Brush the surface of the rolled beef with garlic oil. Mix together salt, sage and rosemary and rub into surface of meat.

Combine remaining garlic oil and butter in a Dutch oven or deep skillet; place over medium heat. Add beef, turning to brown all sides.

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Add red wine and sprigs of rosemary to pan and allow the wine to reduce. Pour in beef broth. Continue to cook, turning and basting with pan juices about 30 minutes for rare (140F) or longer for desired doneness (if your roast is larger the time will take longer).

Let stand 10 minutes. Remove twine and slice.

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February 6, 2012

Broccoli Cakes with Tomato Salsa

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I remember a trip my husband and I took to Santa Fe probably 20 some years ago. One of the nights there we ate dinner at a restaurant where I had some type of a vegetable cake or patty, served with a sauce or salsa on top. I think they were broccoli, but I don't remember what type of sauce they had. I was suprised at the time how good they were.

So for this week's ingredient, broccoli, I decided to try to recreate some type of a cake. I actually made these for Christmas Eve dinner. It was just me and my husband, and I was wanting to use ingredients we had in the house, and I also wanted something healthy.

While these were good, I would change some things next time I make them. The only cornmeal I had was medium-grind. I would use a fine-grind next time. I think I would also try them with all of the flour being white next time, to see what difference that makes. You can also use whatever vegetables you have around. I happended to have about 1/4 cup of mushrooms stems leftover from making stuffed mushrooms, and I chopped those and added them to the broccoli.

Broccoli Cakes with Tomato Salsa 2-4 servings

Tomato Salsa
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Cilantro or Parsley, optional
Juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
dash tabasco sauce
Pinch sugar (optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Brocolli Cakes
1 cup finely chopped broccoli
1/4 cup finely chopped mushrooms (or any other vegetable you choose), optional
1 teaspoon chili paste
1 clove garlic, minced
1 egg + 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup flour (I used half white and half wheat)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Grated cheese, about 1/4-1/2 cup (I used an Irish sharp cheddar, but you could use any hard cheese)
2 teaspoon baking soda
juice 1/2 lemon
1 cup milk

1. Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the broccoli, mushrooms, and garlic and cook over med heat, stirring, until tender. Place in large bowl to cool.
2. To the bowl with the broccoli, add eggs, cornmeal, flour, salt, and cheese. Mix well.
3. In a small bowl, combine the milk, lemon juice, and baking soda.
4. Add the milk mixture to the broccoli mixture and stir well.
5. Form into 4-6 patties and cook in a large non-stick skillet (which you've either sprayed with Pam or drizzled a little oil into) and cook over medium heat until first side is browned. Flip, turn heat to med-low, and continue to cook on second side until cakes are browned and cooked through.
6. Top with the tomato salsa and serve.

February 12, 2012

Rabbit & Risotto Bake

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I've been planning to make a twist on a uniquely St. Louis appetizer - Toasted Ravioli - stuffing it with rabbit. I cut up my rabbit. I soaked it in wine vinegar and salt water.

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After a day of soaking, my rabbit was ready for braising. I selected the appropriate flavor ingredients for the braising.

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I braised the meat low and slow for two hours. It was melting off the bone tender and ready for the next step.

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Then I realized I just didn't have the time or energy to make homemade pasta for the ravioli, not to mention taking the extra step to bread and deep fry them after they boiled.

So, as a fall back, I added more ingredients to the already shreaded rabbit; made a pot of risotto and was ready to roll it into spirals to be breaded and deep fried when .... oops. This sure sounds familiar. Didn't I do breaded spirals with another ingredient earlier in this challenge? A quick check of the blog archives confirmed it.

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NOW WHAT ?!!

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The good news, it turned out to be pretty tasty. Not spectacular. Not particularily original.

Since I don't know where to begin to write a logical recipe, I'm just going to tell you what my ingredients were.

RABBIT, wine VINEGAR; yellow & red bell peppers; celery; ONION; GARLIC; basil; pancetta; porcini mushrooms; salt; pepper; risotto; cheese; bread crumbs.

February 13, 2012

Rabbit Marbella

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Our Flavor ingredient this week is rabbit. I love rabbit. It's not something I eat often, but each time I do I wish I would think to eat it more often. One of my favorite recipes is a slow bake with onions, fennel and white wine. Today I decided to make what is essentially a recipe for Chicken Marbella and use rabbit instead of chicken. For those of you who don't know what Chicken Marbella is, it's a baked dishe of chicken pieces, prunes, green olives and capers in a sweet sour sauce. I thought this would match perfectly with the rich rabbit.

I loved this dish. The sweetness from the brown sugar was cut by the tang of the red wine vingear and capers and olives. I will be making this dish again, either using rabbit or chicken.

Rabbit Marbella 3-4 servings
1 rabbit, 2 1/2 - 3 lbs, cut into pieces
5-6 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1/8 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup pitted prunes
1/8 cup pitted Spanish green olives (I used the kind stuffed with garlic)
1/8 cup capers, drained, but use a little juice also
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white wine

1. In a large bowl, combine the rabbit, garlic, red wine vinegar, olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper, prunes, olives, capers, and bay leaf. Cover and place in the refrigerator to marinate, at least 8 hours or overnight.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
3. Place the rabbit pieces in a shallow baking dish without overlapping them. Spoon the marinade, including the prunes, capers and olives, over the rabbit. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and white wine.
4. Bake 50-60 minutes, basting frequently with the marinade and juices.
5. Transfer to a large platter and serve along with the pan juices.

February 14, 2012

Braised Rabbit in Mustard with Fennel

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I love rabbit, but I've mainly eaten it during trips to France and Italy. Lapin au Moutard at a bistro in Paris; Rabbit Loin stuffed with Fennel in Le Marche; a Rabbit Ragu on Papparadelle in Tuscany. I've always been able to compartmentalize the deliciousness on my plate from the cute, silky Alpaca bunnies I've cuddled at fiber shows. With their long soft ears, trusting eyes....

No, not going there.

OK, first step was finding a bunny, er, rabbit. Struck out at Whole Foods and my fancypants local butcher. I called around, and my new best friend Tony at Tony's Italian Market in Roslindale assured me "sure dear, I have two in the freezer. I'm going on a cruise next week and closing Sunday, otherwise I'd order you a nice fresh one and cut it up for you." I told Tony I'd order fresh some other time, and reserved the frozen rabbit. I picked it up Saturday morning, and since Larry was along for the ride, homemade sausages, prosciutto, and pancetta somehow went home with us as well.

Rabbit defrosted in the fridge for a day, and then I unwrapped it--and panicked, because while the structure was similar to a chicken, the long loin and strangely jointed legs gave me pause. Thank God for Google and Youtube Videos. I think there's a video for everything. Here's the one I used, stopping and starting the laptop several times, knife in the other hand.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3koU93-2e4

Cue my husband and offspring singing "Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit..."
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGhQ2BDt4VE&feature=related

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I looked at many recipes for rabbit in mustard. Most called for the rabbit to be baked, some for it to be braised. Since I wanted to add smothered fennel and onions to the sauce, I decided to go with a braise. I also hoped that long slow cooking would avoid any of the dryness that some recipes warned about. From the Flavor Bible I used mustard, fennel, onions, thyme, white wine, and stock.

Braised Rabbit in Mustard with Fennel
4 servings

1 rabbit, cut into 8 pieces
1/2 cup Dijon grainy mustard
1/2 tsp. thyme
Spray oil or Pam
1 fennel bulb, cored and sliced
1 onion, sliced
2 tsp. butter
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock or broth
2 tsp. butter
2 tsp. flour
2 Tbs. creme fraiche (or sour cream)

1. Mix mustard with thyme, add salt and pepper. Rub all over the rabbit pieces, lay in a bowl, cover and refrigerate 10-24 hours.

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2. In a large deep-sided skillet, spray with oil, then heat 2 tsp. butter. Add the sliced onion and fennel and saute. Add a few spoonfuls of the chicken stock and slowly cook 20 minutes or so, until almost soft. Let the broth evaporate so the vegetables can caramelize a bit. Add salt and pepper to taste and remove from pan.

3. Spray pan again generously with oil, then add as many rabbit pieces as will fit comfortably in the pan without crowding. Turn heat to medium high, and quickly sear the rabbit. Turn and repeat; then remove to a dish and finish the remaining rabbit. (spray pan again before second batch of rabbit)

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4. Add the last of the butter to the pan and melt, then flour to the drippings in the pan, (if you're not watching your calories feel free to add more butter) and saute for a few minutes. Add the wine and broth, bring to the boil for 2-3 minutes while whisking.

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Lower heat, and add the rabbit and vegetables, mixing well. Turn heat to low, cover, (turn the pieces once or twice during cooking) and very gently simmer for 40-50 minutes, or until rabbit is tender.

5. Stir in 2 Tbs. creme fraiche, stir to coat rabbit with the sauce. Add chopped parsley, and serve with potatoes, noodles or rice.

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We all loved it, even my picky teen. And since rabbit is so low in fat, and I severely cut back on the butter and creme fraiche in traditional recipes, this can actually be a healthy and very tasty dinner!

February 15, 2012

Stuffed, Boned Rabbit

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I love rabbit, and can usually get it at Bristol Farms, but after asking 6 butchers, I couldn't find one who would bone a rabbit for me. I had visions of Brad and his boning knive ending either in a trip to the ER for Brad, or in unrecognizable tiny pieces of bunny, bones and organs all over my kitchen. I finally found both a rabbit and a head butcher who would bone it at Jensen's, another upscale grocery store.

The butcher did a great job, and gave me a package of bones, organs and what I wanted: boned rabbit meat I could stuff.

First I made the stuffing:

Stuffing:
1.5 oz. pancetta, chopped
1/2 bulb of fennel, cored and chopped
2 cloves of garlic
2 Italian sausages, removed from casings

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Saute the pancetta, garlic and fennel in a splash of olive oil. Add sausage and cook until browned. Set aside.

1 boned rabbit
8 thin slices of pancetta
1 oz. fontina cheese
black pepper and sea salt
1 c. white wine
2 T. lemon juice

Sprinkle black pepper on both sides of rabbit. Place rabbit on a sheet of parchment paper with 5 pieces of cooking string under, and positioned to tie when rabbit is rolled.

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Top rabbit with thinly sliced pancetta, then stuffing, topped with fontina.

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Roll and tie rabbit. Sprinkle roll with sea salt and place in a baking dish. Pour wine and lemon juice over rabbit.

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Bake for 1 hour at 350, basting occasionally with pan liquid. Let sit 5-10 minutes before slicing.

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One word: DELICIOUS! I will definitely do this again!

February 16, 2012

Rabbit in Thyme Sauce

Only because of Flavors . . . we are branching out with rabbit.
Just this once.
The only reason I could even do this . . . is because it came in a cellophane wrapper from Piggly Wiggly. I just pretended it was chicken.
Rabbit in Mustard Thyme Sauce
1 lb Rabbit
2 Tbs OLIVE OIL
1 cup flour
2 Tbs cracked PEPPER
2 Tbs fresh THYME
1 Tbs fresh TARRAGON
1 BAY LEAF
2 cloves GARLIC
1 cup WHITE WINE
1 cup chicken stock
1 Tbs MUSTARD
1/2 tsp MUSTARD seed
Drench boneless rabbit pieces in flour and sprinkle with pepper. Brown in olive oil. When browned evenly: add diced garlic, and herbs. Allow to cook for another minute, then remove from heat and add white wine. Continue to cook covered over low heat for another 45 minutes-1hr. Turn up the heat and add Dijon mustard and extra broth if needed to make a smooth sauce. Serve with RICE . . . and just pretend it's chicken.
Y'all enjoy~
Sandi

February 17, 2012

Rabbit Milanese

Bugs-Bunny-Carrot-icon.pngI had lots of different ideas floating through my head for rabbit but nothing I could really latch onto. I kept coming back to rabbit fricassee until I realized that was stuck in my head from the old Bugs Bunny, Donald Duck routine.

Then, last night, while sitting at a bar waiting for some friends, the bartender and another patron were trying to remember the name of the dish served in Italy, that's usually veal served with a salad. I chimed in, "Veal Milanese" and they both replied, "Yes!" And I thought, yes, indeed.

So here we have Rabbit Milanese.

Now some of you may quibble that most of my "flavors" are really in the arugula salad (and actually arugula is one of the "flavors") but you're supposed to eat the rabbit and salad together, so to you all, I say, "tough!"

Rabbit Milanese


Ingredients

12 oz rabbit loin - I trimmed this and pounded it thin
1/2 C seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 egg beaters
2t olive oil
2 slices BACON
1/2 shallot, minced
1t honey
juice of half a lemon
bunch of arugula

Directions

1. Cook the bacon in a small pan, reserving 1t of the rendered oil. Set the bacon on paper towels to drain.
2. Dredge the flattened rabbit in egg and bread crumbs and then cook in a hot pan, coated with cooking spray and the 2t of olive oil, until lightly browned on both sides. This was pretty quick - a couple of minutes on each side.
3. Saute the shallot in the remaining 1t of bacon fat, add lemon juice and 1t of honey (I forgot the honey in the ingredient picture). Toss with the arugula.

Voila!

Rabbit Milanese


Easy peasy man and it came in at 7 weight watcher points, for 3 servings.

February 18, 2012

Rabbit Sugo

Now here we are at the end of rabbit week . . . the gang has made some great dishes. The main commonality has been cooking that bunny long and slow. Rabbit is a lean meat (all of that incessant hopping will do that to you apparently) and it benefits from a long, slow cooking with plenty of liquids.

Like Amy, I have a titch of trouble compartmentalizing the tasty treat on my plate with those fluffy things that some folks keep as pets. Mind you, the compartmentalizing has gotten easier since the bunny population in the woods has exploded and the damn things wreak havoc on my garden. Besides, cows, pigs, and baby chickens are cute and I have no trouble chewing on any of those!

Because of the need for a long, slow cooking in plenty of liquid I decided to make a rabbit sugu (Ragu is another word to describe a nice meaty sauce but I can NOT bring myself to use the phrase since it was appropriated by a giant food conglomerate for a crap jarred pasta sauce).

Heck, we decided to go all out and make our own garganelli pasta to serve with this ragu. I had learned how to make this when we took a cooking class in Bologna. Garganelli are a type of pasta formed by rolling a flat, square noodle into a tubular shape. They can be made from smooth pasta or a ridged variant reminiscent of corduroy.

While garganelli are very similar to penne, they differ in that a "flap" is clearly visible where one corner of the pasta square adheres to the rest, as opposed to a perfect cylinder in penne. We learned to make them by rolling them on a dowel and then running it across a small frame with ridges to leave the marks. When cooked, the pasta and sauce adhere brilliantly because of both the hollow centre and the ridges.

Here we are making the garganelli:


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The pasta recipe we used was dryer than I'm used to. I think I'll need to go back to the 2 cups of flour and 4 eggs that produces a lovely, soft, eggy pasta. Given that this was our first attempt at making garganelli and it had been almost two years since the cooking class I was pleased with the results:


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The sugo involves three main steps - marinating the bunny for 2 hours or up to overnight. Preparing the 'base' flavours by slowly cooking the sofritto (carrots, onion, and celery) and then browning the bunny in the sofritto. The final step is the long, slow cooking in wine, stock, and tomatoes. You can see that this isn't a weeknight recipe - this is perfect for one of those lazy weekends. The actually time in the kitchen isn't great since most of the work requires little attention at all.

We were impressed with the dish. It made far more than we could eat which was great because I know it will freeze well - another benefit from making a big pot of sugo . . . it is around for a while! *smile*

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Rabbit Sugo

1 rabbit, about 3 lbs, cut into 8 pieces
2 cups dry red wine
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
7 or 8 whole peppercorns
1 carrot, peeled, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
flour for dredging
3 cups chicken stock
2 cups crushed tomatoes (I used one of those tetra containers of Pommi crushed tomatoes imported from Italy)

In a non-reactive container or zip-lock bag combine the wine, 1/2 cup olive oil, thyme, bay leaves, garlic, and peppercorns. Add the rabbit pieces, making sure they are well-covered with the marinade. Put in the refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight.

Bring rabbit to room temperature (about 30 minutes) before you start cooking with it.

Remove the rabbit from the marinade being sure to preserve the marinade. Gently pat the rabbit dry with a paper towel.

In a large sauté pan head the remaining olive oil over medium heat. Add the carrot, celery, and onion. Sauté for about 7 minutes or until the onion is a golden brown.

Dredge the bunny pieces in flour (I put flour and bunny pieces in a zip lock bag and shook it up). Add to the pan and brown on each side for about 5 minutes.

Add the reserved marinade to the pan and stir to scrap all of the delicious browned bits at the bottom of the pan. Cook for about 15 minutes in the marinade.

Add the stock and crushed tomatoes.

Decrease the heat, cover, and cook slowly for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the meat is tender and falling off the bones.

Remove the rabbit from the sauce. When cool enough to handle shred the meat from the bones. Return the rabbit to the pan. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.

Serve.

now on to lentils . . . .

February 20, 2012

Lentil, Walnut & Salmon Salad

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This week our Flavors ingredient was lentils. I love lentils and fix them quite often. They're healthy, filling, and I love that I don't have to soak them overnight and they cook quickly.

When looking at the complimentary ingredents I saw salmon listed. I often serve salmon along with lentils, but this time decided to make a lentil salad that could be served at room temperature (or cold) and topped with salmon. I was originally planning on using a jar of salmon (we can salmon every year) but instead I thawed out a fillet and cooked it on the grill.

I really enjoyed this salad. The sherry vinegar and dijon mustard gave the right tang to the dressing. Then you have the bite of the shallots and green onions. Be sure and add the toasted walnuts, and the earthiness and crunch added a lot to this salad.


Lentil, Walnut & Salmon Salad
2 1/2 cup dried lentils
3 carrots, peeled & quartered
1 onion, peeled & sliced in half
1 1/2 quarts chicken broth (I used half chicken broth and half water)
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/3 cup sherry vinegar
2 shallots, peeled
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup oil-walnut, hazelnut, or olive oil (I used half hazelnut and half olive oil)
Salt & pepper to taste
1 cup thinly sliced green onions
1 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely choppe
Salmon-can use 1 fillet or 1 can (I used one fillet)

1. Rinse lentils. Place in a large pot and add the carrots, onion, chicken broth and water, bay leaf and thyme. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until lentils are tender but still firm (about 25 minutes).
2. Combine the vinegar, shallot, and mustard in a food processor. Then slowly add the oil until emulsified. Set aside.
3. Drain lentils and discard the carrots, onion and bay leaf. Pour into a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the hot lentils and toss to mix. (I used the entire amount of dressing, but you could use less.). Season with salt and pepper. Let cool.
4. If using salmon fillet, rub with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and place on a sheet of foil. Place on a med-low grill and cook with lid closed, until salmon is just barely cooked through. If using canned salmon, drain.
5. When ready to serve, add the green onions and walnuts to the salad and toss. Top with salmon.

February 21, 2012

Lentil and Collard Greens Stew

This tasty and hearty stew is perfect for "greens season" which is all winter long in the deep South. Remember to rinse the lentils and check for little stones. Serves 8


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12 ounces of lentils, rinsed.
3 carrots, sliced thin
1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks of celery, sliced thin
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 14 oz. Can of diced tomatoes
1-quart chicken stock
1-cup water
1 parmesan cheese rind
1 pound bunch of collards, chopped and rinsed but not dried
1-teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Sherry vinegar
Celery leaves roughly chopped

Cook the onion, carrots and celery in the olive oil with the bay leaf (I used a fresh one) for about 10 minutes, over medium- low heat until they are quite soft.

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Add the chopped garlic and tomato paste and continue to cook for about 3 minutes more.
Add the diced tomatoes and the liquid with some salt and pepper and the cheese rind. Turn up the heat and bring the liquid to a boil.

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Add the lentils and salt and pepper. Cook, on low, for about an hour and a half, until the lentils are soft.
Add the collards to the top of the pot. (To prepare the collards, wash them well and remove the tough inner stem)

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Let them cook for a few minutes until the collards begin to wilt. Then you can incorporate them into the lentils. (I used tongs for this part) Cook the greens for about 15 minutes.

Before serving, remove the bay leaf and the cheese rind.
Garnish each plate with a little sherry vinegar and the chopped fresh celery leaves.

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February 25, 2012

Lentil 'Stew' with Sausage and Rapini

Both Paul and I have been suffering from colds for the past few weeks - I blame the lack of a real Canadian winter with its accompany sub-zero temperatures that freeze and kill germs. The weather we've been having is rather tropical (all things being relative) and so these germs just fester and spread. Many of our friends and work colleagues have had far worse colds this winter than usual.

I remember a few years ago when I was part of the Sunday Slow Soupers group - 23 weeks of soups - that Kim selected lentil soup as her recipe. At the time she indicated that it was one of her mother's recipes for when someone in the family was under the weather. Given that we're so under the weather we don't know what side is up any more I had high hopes for lentil week. High hopes, indeed.

Incidentally, until we had reached that week in the soup event I had NEVER eaten a lentil. I was convinced that they would be gross so I always worked hard to make sure one never arrived on my plate or even worse, passed my lips. Kim forced me to eat lentils in the soup challenge, and once I had confronted my food prejudices I realized that I quite liked lentils. I am sure that there is a profound lesson there but I'm too sick to figure it out.

Compared to other types of dried beans, lentils are relatively quick and easy to prepare. You don't need to soak them for hours on end before you con contemplate cooking them. They readily absorb a variety of wonderful flavors from other foods and seasonings, are high in nutritional value, and are available throughout the year. This makes them a perfect addition to the pantry as there is so much you can do with them.

I decided to make a lentil soup that became so substantial and thick I'll call it a stew . . . I made it so I'll call it whatever the hell I want. :-)

From the Flavour Bible I added: bay leaf, carrots, celery, garlic, olive oil, onions, flat leaf parsley, pepper, sausage, chicken stock, thyme, and tomatoes. The grocery store near us had rapini on for 88 cents for a HUGE bunch so I added that too . . . I figured the added health benefit of all of those greens could only help.

I pulled this all together last night after a busy day of shopping in the US to try and kick-start their economy. We were both impressed with how tasty it was. . . ready in about 90 minutes, it was a hearty and flavourful addition to the dinner table. We served it with a green salad and some warm bread to soak up all of those delicious juices.


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Lentil 'Stew' with Sausage and Rapini

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian turkey sausage
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut in small dice (about 3/4 cup)
1 celery stalk, cut in small dice (about 3/4 cup)
1 medium onion, cut in small dice (about 3/4 cup)
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 1/2 cup red or yellow lentils
7 cups vegetable or chicken stock
4 cups water
1 teaspoon dried basil leaf
3 springs fresh rosemary
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 bay leaves
1 bunch rapini, trimmed and chopped
2 cups diced tomatoes (with their juices)
Salt and pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil (to drizzle for finish)
1/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley

Remove the sausages from their casings. Place the oil in a large pot. Over medium heat, cook the sausage on. Remove and set aside.

Add the diced carrots, celery, garlic, and onion. Reduce the heat to medium-low and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent.

Add the lentils, stock, water, basil, rosemary sprigs, thyme sprigs, oregano, and bay leaves. Return the sausage to the pot. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook covered until the lentils are tender.

When the lentils are tender, add the rapini and diced tomatoes (with juices) to the pot, stir and continue to cook, covered, until the rapini is just tender, about 5 – 10 minutes more.

Stir and remove bay leaves, rosemary, and thyme stalks (the leaves will have fallen off into the stew). Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle into bowls. Drizzle with the BEST extra virgin olive oil you have on hand. Sprinkle with minced flat-leaf parsley.

Enjoy . . .

February 26, 2012

Cannellini Tricolore

Think of Cannellini Tricolore as a pasta-less pasta. It's a fast, delicious and healthy one pan meal for two with the flavor of Italy and the colors of the Italian flag.

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Ingredient List:
3 – Tablespoons high quality extra virgin OLIVE OIL (2T for cooking, 1T for garnish)
¼ cup - Red onion in large dices
1½ - Large yellow bell pepper peeled and chopped into ½” chunks
1 – Large clove garlic minced
1 – Teaspoon dried BASIL
1 – Teaspoon kosher or sea SALT
½ - Teaspoon fresh ground black PEPPER
¼ - Teaspoon red pepper flakes
6-8 – oz pureed TOMATOES plus water if necessary
1 cup – dried cannellini beans soaked and cooked to just tender but not mushy (Well rinsed canned beans work just fine, too.)
2 Tbs – chopped fresh Italian PARSLEY
6 - roma tomatoes seeded, chopped into large chunks and oven roasted
½ lb – Whole green beans, boiled in salt water until very tender. Then, reserving 6 whole beans for garnish, cut remainder into 1” pieces.

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Cooking:
Heat first 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium/high heat.
Add the onion, garlic, yellow pepper, dried basil, salt, black pepper, & red pepper flakes. Stir cook until onion is softened.
Add tomato puree and continue to cook until peppers are beginning to melt.
Add cannellini beans heat through.
Add cut green beans, oven roasted tomatoes & chopped parsley. Toss gently.
Add just enough of the reserved tomato juice to keep mixture moist, but not soupy.
Continue cooking only long enough for tomato juice to begin bubbling.

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Plate Cannellini Tricolore. Garnish each plate with three of the whole green beans, crossing them over the center in a star pattern. Drizzle each serving with half of the remaining tablespoon of EVOO.

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Delicious with fresh rustic Italian bread and Orvieto Classico or Pinot Grigio Wine. It is very filling. I've made variations of this dish many times. I've used fennel instead of red onion and asparagus instead of green beans. I've even mixed in red kidney beans for some extra body.

March 1, 2012

Red Beans and Rice ~ Southern Style

Red beans and rice is a traditional Southern dish. Y'all will feel like you have a bite of south in your mouth.
Ca c'est bon~ Just in time for Mardi Gras!
This is a recipe that I have enhanced a la Flavors. I will say this . . . In the Flavor Bible, Celery is not a recommended, but that would be like a Holy Trinity without Mary. The suggested 'flavors' have been Capitalized inthe recipe.
Red Beans and Rice a la Flavours
1 pound red kidney beans, dry
2 Tbs OLIVE OIL
1 large ONION, chopped
1 GREEN BELL PEPPER, chopped
5 ribs celery, chopped
5-6 cloves GARLIC
1 large smoked PORK Hock, 3/4 pound of Creole-style pickle meat (pickled pork), or 3/4 lb. smoked ham, diced, for seasoning
1/2 lb. CHORIZO
1 to 1-1/2 pounds ANDOUILLE SAUSAGE
1/2 to 1 tsp. dried thyme leaves, crushed
1 or 2 bay leaves
1 Tbs fresh PARSLEY (plus more for topping)
1 Tbs CHILI
TABASCO on hand
Pickled onions (minced sweet onion with a dash of spicy mustard)
Start by soaking the beans overnight, drain the water and cover the beans with a double volume of fresh water in the pot. (Seriously, this helps reduce the GAS!) Bring the beans to a rolling boil. Boil the beans for about an hour, until tender. Keep them covered with extra water. (save 2 cups of this beany water for the rice)
In a skillet, heat olive oil and stir in the Chorizo (removed from the casing), cook while breaking up the chunks. Sauté the holy trinity (diced onions, celery and bell pepper). Add the garlic and saute for couple more minutes, stirring occasionally. Slice the andouille sausage and add to the skillet.
After the red beans are boiled and partially drained, add the sausage and vegetables to the beans, then add the ham hock and seasonings. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook for 2 hours at least, preferably 3, until the whole thing gets nice and creamy. (If the beans are not as creamy as you would like, take 1 or 2 cups of beans out and smish them then stir back into the pot)
When you are ready to cook the rice, use the reserved 'beany' water, and cook according to the package directions.
Serve with good French bread for dippin' and a healthy sprinkle of minced onions and parsley on top.
Let the good times Roll~~
Y'all enjoy!
Sandi

March 3, 2012

Italian Sausage and Cannellini Bean Stew

It continues to be 'comfort food' season here in the tundra known as Canada. For my bean recipe I wanted t make something warm, filling, and delicious. I also wanted something that would make for lots of leftovers - I'm on the road a lot over the next few weeks and it is great to have a freezer full of delicious food options for Paul.

I pulled this together one night last week - I was worried that it would take too long for a weeknight meal but I need not have been concerned. Just over an hour after starting to good we were sitting down to a delicious meal.

This recipe is very easy, try and get your hands on Italian sausages if you can, if not I’m sure regular sausages might work fine too. We were lucky enough to have some of those sausages that we made in the freezer so they went into the stew.

Some might call this a soup but it is thicker than that. Rachel Ray has invented a word for a dish mid way between a soup and a stew - stoup. I won't go there but in a sense this dish is a stoup (teeth grinding at the Rachel Ray reference . . . but it works).

This dish would be great over some polenta of a thick slice of crispy garlic toast. MMMM

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Italian Sausage and Cannellini Bean Stew

1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
4 Italian sausages, casings removed and cut into chunks
2 tbsp flour
1 large tin peeled, chopped tomatoes
300g pancetta cubes
200ml beef stock
2x400g tins cannellini beans, drained
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of rosemary
salt and pepper
3 tbsp olive oil (plus extra for drizzling when you serve it)
1 glass of red wine for the stew and 1 glass for you… (heck, drink the bottle . . . I did)

Heat the olive oil in a large casserole pot. When heated sauté the onions until soft but not coloured. Add carrots and celery, rosemary, and bay leaves. Cook for about 10 minutes over medium heat.

Add the pancetta and sausage meat. Cook for 5 minutes stirring with a wooden spoon.

Mix in the flour. Cook for a few minutes, keep stirring.

Pour in the wine. Cook for about 5 minutes until the alcohol evaporates.

Add the tomatoes, stock, and rinsed cannellini beans to the pot. Taste. Season with salt and pepper (I added some pepper but no salt). Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 30-40 minutes.

Remove bay leaves and rosemary sprigs. Serve in bowls with a drizzle of good quality olive oil.

March 8, 2012

Lobster Mac and Cheese

The flavor for the week is Lobster . . . Y'all know that I love a good lobster.
But ~ Honestly, I love them fresh, when I am in Boston. Paying $30 for a couple of tired looking tails is just a rip-off.
Which reminds me . . . Why did I agree to this cooking challenge?
I sucked it up and paid for my lobster .
Lobster apparently goes with any flavor. Butter is enough in my humble opinion ! Here I combined it with a good southern Mac and Cheese. I have capitalized the recommended flavors.
Lobster Mac and Cheese
3 Tbs BUTTER
3 Tbs flour
2 cups CHICKEN STOCK
juice of one LEMON
2 cups MILK
1 cup HEAVY WHIPING CREAM
1 1/2 pounds COLBY JACK CHEESE
1/2 cup marscapone CHEESE
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano CHEESE
Salt and freshly ground BLACK PEPPER
1 Tbs fresh THYME
1 Tbs fresh BASIL
1 pound large pasta shells, cooked in salted water to al dente
2 (2-pound) lobsters, steamed, meat removed from shells
Crumb Topping:
1 1/2 cups coarse breadcrumbs
1 tsp ANCHOVY PASTE
2 tsp grated LEMON zest
Melt the butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the hot stock, milk, and cream and whisk until the sauce begins to thicken. Cook for several minutes, whisking occasionally.

Remove from the heat and whisk in the grated cheese and marscapone, season with salt and pepper. Add the thyme, basil and pasta and stir until combined. Chop the lobster into bite-sized pieces and fold into the pasta. Pour into a buttered casserole dish or individual baking dishes.For the bread topping: Put toasted bread chunks into a small blender. Add the anchovie paste and lemon zest. Whir to crumble. Sprinkle generously over the pasta.
Bake at 350° until heated through and top is browned ~ about 20 minutes.
This was a meal in itself. Rich and Cheesy. It didn't do much to improve the Flavor of the Lobster . . . in fact, next time I'm using the inexpensive lobster substitute ! But I will make the Mac & Cheese again.
Y'all enjoy~
Sandi

March 10, 2012

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese with Black Truffle

Lobster is an interesting ingredient.

Years ago it was considered to be the food of the poor. Considered to be nothing more than mud roaches, no one with good breeding would serve up a lobster to a worthy dinner guest. Lobsters were only served to prisoners and indentured servants; in fact, those unfortunate souls were made to eat lobster every day of the week! When they rebelled, agreements were made so that they would not be fed lobster more than three times a week.

Imagine rebelling because you're forced to eat lobster!

If my mother knew she'd be feed lobster daily I suspect she rush out and commit a crime so she'd be locked up.

Confession time - I'm not a huge fan of lobster. I won't refuse to eat it but I won't go running to get some. I suspect it has a lot to do with the amount of work involved in eating a lobster. I'll enjoy a tail of a big claw but that is it. I don't want to work for 10 minutes to get a piece of meat so tiny it would need to be weighed on one of those super powerful scales they use to measure flakes of gold. I’m more apt to want a dish with lobster eat in it than a whole creature sitting on my plate.

I remember our first trip to Maine as kids. We all got lobsters out on a dock. Mom and dad sat at a rickety picnic table eating their lobster with glee. Rose and I stuffed the offending bits of lobster meat between the planks of the dock until we were caught wasting it and given a hot dog.

Fly forward 20 years and Rose married the son of a Nova Scotian lobster fisherman. We were always having lobsters arrive at the house. Even with a plentiful supply it didn't make me love it any more.

During our last trip to Maine we stayed in Portland for a few days. There we enjoyed an amazing dinner at 555. For my main course I had the most expensive item on the menu - truffled lobster "mac & cheese" - torchio pasta, butter-poached shucks Maine lobster, artisanal cheese blend, and shaved black truffles.

I decided that when it came to lobster week I'd try and recreate this recipe and add a few more Flavour ingredients. I had a big can of lobster meat in the freezer, a jar containing a fat black truffle from Italy in the pantry, and a variety of cheeses. I was good to go.

Then I heard that one of my co-Flavor cooks was making lobster mac and cheese - CRISIS. I thought about switching to something else but in the end decided I'd make mine different and hoprefully better (given Sandi's luewarm review of her dish apparently I scored there . . . clearly the Novan Scotian lobster was superior to the creature she added to her mac and cheese).

The end result was nothing short of brilliant if I do say so myself. This sure as hell wasn't your mother's mac and cheese - it was rich and delicious with a subtle lobster flavour and the gentle pungency of the black truffles. I loved the way the cheese sauce was infused with garlic and thyme. The wine added a great level of flavour to the entire dish.If you feel the need for a celebration of heck, if you just want to be happy, make this!

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Lobster Macaroni and Cheese with Shaved Black Truffle

1 pound pasta - I did NOT want to use the traditional elbow noodles and used some fancier pasta we brought home from Naples for this dish
1 stick of butter
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup of flour
1 cup of white wine
4 1/2 cups of milk
2 sprigs thyme
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 lb cheese, grated (I used about 6 oz asiago, 6 oz aged white cheddar, 1 oz of blue cheese, and 3 oz gruyere).
Salt and pepper
1 lb lobster chopped meat (be sure to check for bits of shell or cartilage)
1 black truffle
2 cups of fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Drop the pasta into boiling, salted water and cook until almost al dente, about 10 - 11 minutes. Make sure the water tastes like a day at the beach, as the pasta will absorb it and become properly seasoned. The pasta should not be fully cooked; it should have just a touch of firmness when tasted. Drain well.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add garlic and thyme sprigs cook for several minutes until it softens. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until a smooth paste forms. Continue cooking for a few more minutes, in effect toasting the mixture and adding flavour to it. This also infuses the sauce with garlic and thyme. Slowly stir in the wine and continue mixing until smooth and then add the milk, mixing until smooth. Continue whisking until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Add cayenne, salt, pepper, and cheeses and stir until melted.

Add the lobster meat to the cheese mixture along with the pasta. Stir well to combine and season with salt and pepper. Shave most of the black truffle into the mixture and stir to distribute the shavings evenly. Pour into a 9-inch by 13-inch ovenproof casserole or similar dish.

Mix the bread crumbs, thyme leaves, and Parmigiano Reggiano. Sprinkle the macaroni and cheese with the breadcrumb mixture. Bake until heated through and the breadcrumbs are golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Prepare to be overwhelmed with love and adoration from all you serve it to . . . :-)

March 29, 2012

Lemon and Sweet Pea Risotto

Y'all have all heard the saying " When life gives you Lemons ~ make sweet tea ".
Or something like that...
The weather has been beautiful, so I have been digging in the dirt a little. I have uncovered my mint and planted 5 kinds of basil.
Just what I need for a savory pan of Sweet Pea risotto. . .Why not add some Lemon to it for our flavor of the week ! I have capitalized the recommended flavors.

Lemon and Sweet Pea Risotto
4 cups chicken broth
2 Tbs OLIVE OIL
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup WHITE WINE
2 cups frozen petite peas
1 cup Parmigiano CHEESE, grated
3Tbs fresh MINT
3 TbS fresh BASIL
1 tsp lemon zest
juice of one lemon
SALT & PEPPER

Whir herbs and broth in a blender to mince herbs. Add lemon zest and juice. Bring the broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan over low heat. Cover and keep the broth warm over the low heat.Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the diced onion and cook until lightly browned. Stir in the Aborino rice and cook until the edges begin to turn translucent. Add the wine and cook, stirring frequently, until it is completely absorbed.
Add a couple of ladles of the warm broth mixture to the rice and stir. Cook, until the liquid is absorbed. Continue to cook, stirring in a ladle of the broth every few minutes, until the rice is cooked through and the liquid is absorbed Add the peas and cheese. Stir in another splash of broth if the risotto is too thick. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve the risotto immediately with a sprinkle of Parmigiano, lemon and sprig of basil.Y'all enjoy~
Sandi

April 2, 2012

Spicy Israeli Lamb and Chickpeas

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When I was last in Jerusalem, I was taken to dinner at Joy restaurant in the German Colony. Among the wonderful dishes that arrived on the table was a bowl of chickpeas mixed with a spicy, savory ground lamb mixture topped with pine nuts and herbs. It was addictive, and I've been searching for a recipe ever since.

So, I experimented, and this is the result. It goes beautifully with an Israeli chopped salad of tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, parsley and feta dressed with oil and lemon. Pass some toasted pita topped with oil and zataar, and you can pretend you're in Jerusalem.

From the Flavor Bible I used chickpeas, chili, cinnamon, garlic, salt, parsley, mint, pine nuts and tomatoes. If you can, do begin with dry chickpeas that you soak and cook,. The texture and flavor is surprisingly better than those you buy canned.

Spicy Israeli Lamb with Chickpeas 3-4 servings as a main dish

1 cup dried chickpeas (or 1 can chickpeas)

1 lb. ground lamb
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 small can good quality chopped tomatoes
1 tsp. or more good ground chile--I love Aleppo pepper for this, but you can use a mixture of ancho, hot pepper flakes and cayenne, or whatever you prefer.
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste
handful chopped mint
handful chopped parsley

1. A day or two before, soak 1 cup dried chickpeas in water to cover by several inches.
2. Drain the chickpeas, put into a pot and cover with water by several inches. Simmer for 1 1/2-2 hours, until tender. Drain, and salt very lightly. (can be done the day before serving--and they also freeze well)
3. In a large skillet, heat the oil. Saute the chopped onion and the pine nuts until just beginning to color, then add the garlic.
4. Add the ground lamb, stir and toss as it cooks to break up lumps.
5. Add the drained tomatoes and all seasonings.
6. Cook gently for 30-45 minutes. Taste, add more seasonings, especially chile until it has a gentle tingle on the tongue.
7. Stir in the chickpeas, and let simmer another 15 minutes.
8. Sprinkle with chopped herbs, and serve.

Leftovers are great with Greek yogurt, or tucked into a warm pita.

April 4, 2012

Lamb Lollipops with Three Dipping Sauces

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I began with a rack of lamb. Brad trimmed it and cut it into rib chops. While he grilled the lamb, I finished up three different dipping sauces:

Maytag Blue Cheese Sauce:

1 T. butter
1 T. flour
3/4 c. milk
4 oz crumbled Maytag blue cheese
freshly ground pepper

In a small pan, melt butter and stir in flour. Add milk and cook until mixture thickens. Reduce heat and stir in cheese until melted. Stir in pepper and serve.

Pistachio-Herb Pesto

I always keep a jar of a mixture of chopped herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage and basil), sea salt and olive oil in my fridge. It is great for throwing in soups, or rubbing a chicken or roast. I put a heaping tablespoon of it in a the food processor with 8 oz. of shelled pistachios, and some parmigiano, adding olive oil until it was the consistency I wanted. YUM!!!

Pomegranate Reduction Sauce

1 cup POM
1 T. balsamic vinegar
1 T. honey
1 T. butter

In a small saucepan, heat POM juice. Add balsamic and honey, and cook over medium-low heat until reduced by half (about 5 min. ). Remove from heat. Stir in
butter and season with salt and pepper.

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We liked all three sauces. Brad's favorite was the pistachio pesto, and I liked the blue cheese best. (No surprise there!) Try one next time you cook lamb!

April 5, 2012

Lamb Stew with Apple Cider and Herbs

Y'all know by now the flavor for the week is Lamb.
When ever I am trying to come up with a 'new' recipe for our weekly challenge, my first step is to google the ingredients I think I want to combine. (In an effort NOT to recreate somone else's recipe)

So this week I googled Lamb, Apples, Potatoes, Stew.

Look what I came up with . . . Dog Food .
No Kidding!
At least Buddy will love this stew~
As usual, I have capitalized the flavors that are recommended in the Flavor Bible.
Roasted Lamb Stew with Apple Cider and Herbs
1 ONION
1/2 cup CELERY
5 GARLIC cloves
2 Tbs flour
1 pound lamb
1 cup OLIVE OIL, divided
fresh SAGE, ROSEMARY, THYME
2 BAY LEAVES
3 cups APPLE CIDER
1 cup BEEF STOCK
1 teaspoon SALT
1/2 tablespoon freshly ground BLACK PEPPER
1 cup baby CARROTS
1 cup pearl ONIONS
1 APPLE
Remove most of the fat and cut the lamb into 1-inch cubes. Chop 2-3 bunches of sage. Dust the cubes of meat and sage with flour. Add some of the olive oil to a large heavy pot and heat over high heat. When the oil is hot, carefully add the chunks. Cook the lamb, in batches until browned. Be careful not to burn the sage. Transfer the lamb to plate. Quick fry the diced onion and celery in the same hot skillet until tender. Add the apple cider to the skillet, over high heat, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Cook the cider until reduced by about half and the solids have come up off the pan. Add the lamb chunks back to the pot with remaining herbs and stock over the lamb.
Cover the pan with a lid and braise until the lamb is tender, about 1 1/2 hours.
Once the lamb is tender, add the pearl onions, carrots and diced apple to the pan. Continue to simmer until carrots are tender. Add salt, pepper, and more fresh herbs, to taste.
Serve the stew over mashed potatoes with plenty of sauce.
y'all enjoy,
Sandi

April 7, 2012

Lamb Spiedini with Tzatziki

For many people when they think of Easter foods they think of lamb! Easter is a leg of lamb (or in some spots a whole lamb slowly roasted in the backyard).

Roast lamb’s good, but my favourite of all is the traditional lamb kabob known as spiducci or lamb spiedini. Lamb spiedini has really caught on in recent years - to the point that a local super market chain even sells a version of them in the freezer department (no Sandi, I did NOT use store bought). The love of lamb spiedini has even stimulated the sale of individual spiedini grills with perfect placement settings for the skewers. I found some online ranging from $200 to $500. For my lamb recipe I just used my regular grill and saved myself some serious cash apparently!

We served these skewers last night for Good Friday appetizers - I had marinated the lamb for six hours - a few minutes on the grill and they made an amazing treat. I really like the way garlicky Tzatziki sauce pairs with lamb so we served a bowl of that with these skewers.

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Lamb Spiedini with Tzatziki

1 lb boneless lamb, trimmed and cut into smal pieces
24 wooden skewers, soaked in water for at least an hour
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp Greek oregano
1 bay leaf, crumbled
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
3 cloves of garlic

Tzatziki

1 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (if you use other yoghurt you'll need to drain it for an hour as it is far too watery)
1/4 cup finely grated seeded cucumber (Squeeze off juice)
2 tsp chopped garlic
1/4 tsp salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped, fresh dill
1 1/2 tsp vinegar

Thread the pieces of lamb on the soaked skewers.

Mix the remaining lamb ingredients in a non-reactive dish (I used a rectangle pyrex glass dish). Add the skewers and ensure that the skewers are well covered with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 6 hours.

Mix the tzatziki ingredients together and refrigerate.

Remove the lamb skewers from the marinade and drain. Discard the marinade.

Heat a BBQ to high. Place the skewers on the grill and cook for 5 minutes, turning once.

Serve the spiedini with the tzatziki on the side.

April 9, 2012

Thai Shrimp Salad

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Our Flavors recipe this week is shrimp. For those of you who know me, you know that my husband and I have a boat, which we take out of Whittier in Prince William Sound. We are very fortunate that one of the things we are able to do is set out shrimp pots. Once you find good spots, we get an abundance of shrimp. Large, sweet spot shrimp. We eat it boiled, in stir fries and curries, in soups and stews, lots of different ways. Today I decided to make a Thai Shrimp Salad. I started off by making some quick pickled carrots, cucumbers, & onions. I needed to use the cucumbers before they went bad, and this was a great way to fix them.

Here's what I did for the pickled vegetables: Thinly slice the cucumbers and place in a bowl. Peel the carrots and cut into sticks and add those to the bowl. Peel an onion, cut it in half, and thinly slice it. You can use as little or as many vegetables as you would like. Then cover the vegetables with seasoned rice wine vinegar and place in refrigerator. Let them soak until they're as stong as you would like, then drain. I soaked mine a couple of hours.

Thai Shrimp Salad 4 Servings
Dressing:
2 tablespoons peanut butter
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce (I use low sodium)
1-2 teaspoons chili sauce
Pinch of sugar

Salad:
1 pkg (2 oz) bean thread noodles
1 lb shrimp
1 cup sliced red pepper
6 cups lettuce, shredded
1 cups cabbage, shredded
As many pickled vegetables as you would like
Cilantro if desired

1. Make the dressing by whisking all of the dressing ingredients together.
2. Boil the shrimp in water until done, just a few minutes (they will float when done). Cool and peel.
3. Cook the bean thread noodles according to package directions and drain. I then took kitchen scizzors to mine and cut them into smaller pieces to make them easier to eat.
4. Place noodles, shrimp, red peppers, lettuce, cabbage, and pickled vegetables in large bowl. Pour dressing over and toss to coat. If desired, top wtih chopped peanuts and chopped cilantro.

4 Servings
Per Serving"
297 calories
9.1 g fat
25.1 g carb
3.9 g fiber
7.2 g sugar
28.1 g protein

April 11, 2012

Sweet and Spicy Fried Shrimp

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1 lb. shrimp (20-25)
1/2 c. cornstarch
1 c. panko
1 cup milk
canola oil for frying

Sauce:

Whisk together:

1/2 c. mayo
2 T. Thai sweet chili sauce
1 T. Sriracha sauce
1 T. rice wine vinegar

Soak cleaned shrimp in milk. Dip shrimp into cornstarch, back into milk, then into panko. Repeat with all shrimp, filling a plate with the coated shrimp. Heat oil to 350 degrees in deep fryer or skillet. Fry shrimp until golden brown (about 5 minutes). Drain on paper towels. Toss shrimp in sauce.

I served my shrimp in martini glasses filled with garlic mashed potatoes! GREAT party food! Creamy, sweet, spicy, crunchy!

April 12, 2012

Bacon Shrimp and Creamy Corn Grits

Shrimp and grits is my summer go-to meal. A day out by the pool and this is something to throw todether. I have posted several recipes (I never seem to make it the same way twice)
This is a recipe that I have kicked up with flavors. . . The creamy corn grits are made into individual ramekins with smokey gouda cheese. The shrimp are simply panfried wth thick bacon and butter.
Bacon Shrimp with Creamy Corn Grits
1-1/2 pounds (12 to 15 count) shrimp
4 pieces thick bacon
4 tbs unsalted butter
1 tsp minced garlic
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup quick-cooking grits
1 can creamed corn
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup cream
1 cup smoked gouda cheese
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Peel the shrimp, leaving the tails attached. Refrigerate until ready to use. Cut the bacon into 1 inch cubes.
Preheat the oven to 325°
Butter four 4-ounce ramekins and set aside.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoon of the butter. Add the garlic and cook for a few seconds. Add in 1 cup of the cream, and simmer. Add the grits, reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, until thick, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the creamed corn. Remove from the heat to cool slightly. Stir in the cheese. In a large bowl, whisk 1/2 cup cream and the eggs. Gently fold the grits mixture into the egg mixture until combined and evenly divide among prepared ramekins. Place the ramekins in a roasting pan, place in the oven and pour enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until a toothpick or skewer comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
In a large skillet, fry the bacon cubes. Remove to a paper towel and drain almost all of the grease. Add the shrimp and cook until pink, flipping as needed. Transfer the shrimp to a bowl. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in the hot pan, Stir in sliced green onions and add the shrimp and bacon and toss to coat. Remove the pan from the heat.
Take the cooled grits and run a knife around the edge of the ramekin and invert onto a serving plate. Top with shrimp and bacon. Sprinkle with a few green onions
Y'all enjoy~
Sandi

April 19, 2012

Citrus Tuna Salad with Ginger and Pecans

Y'all know by now that the flavor of the week is Tuna. I first thought about some beautiful Ginger Tuna steaks . . . when I looked at the price, I decided to go with frozen tuna. When I took the frozen tuna out of the bag. . . I decided a tuna salad was in order.
I still wanted to include the strong citrus flavors and Ginger. As usual, I have included the flavors that are recommended by the flavor bible.
Citrus Tuna Salad with Ginger and Pecans
2 large fresh tuna steaks
2 Tbs OLIVE OIL
2 LEMONS
2 Tbs minced GINGER
1 cup fat free Greek yogurt
1/2 cup mandrin ORANGES
1/4 cup pecans
2 Tbs CILANTRO
Put olive oil in a skillet, place tuna steaks in a hot pan. Cover with minced ginger. Sprinkle the zest and lemon juice evenly over the tuna. Cook over high heat, flipping once. The tuna should flake easily with a fork when it is cooked through. Allow to cool.
In a small bowl, combine chopped cilantro, and chopped pecans (I used praline pecans from Trader Joes) Add the cooled tuna, stirring with a fork to break it up. Add the yogurt to desired consistency and stir to combine. Finally add the mandrin oranges and toss gently. Season with salt and pepper and freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat.Y'all enjoy~
Sandi

April 21, 2012

Spaghetti with Tuna, Tomato, Olives, and Arugula

When I was in Naples last fall I had a wonderful pasta dish made with the canned tuna that Italy is famous for. You might read this and think 'canned tuna, really?'

Yes. Really.

I don't know what or how they do it but canned tuna, packed in olive oil is a wonderful thing.

So when I saw tuna coming up on the schedule I remember those cans of Italian tuna I had in the pantry and decided to recreate the dish. I suspect that the chef who developed the dish for the restaurant was from the south - the olives and pepper flakes speak to that. The result is a zesty plate of pasta that will leave you wanting more.

This dish comes together quickly making it perfect for a weeknight!

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Spaghetti with Tuna, Tomato, Olives, and Arugula

1 pound dried spaghetti
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (use the best you have!)
3 large garlic cloves, or more to taste, finely minced
2 teaspoons hot red pepper flakes
2 6-ounce cans Italian tuna packed in olive oil, drained
1 small can crushed roma tomatoes
1/2 cup pitted, black olives, quartered
Kosher salt
1/2 to 3/4 pound baby arugula

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and boil until al dente.

While pasta cooks, heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium-low heat. Add the garlic and hot pepper flakes and cook until garlic is fragrant and sizzling. Add tuna and shred it into fine flakes with a fork. Add tomatoes and olives. Season with salt. Keep warm over low heat.

Just before the pasta is ready, set aside 1 cup of boiling water. Drain pasta and return it to the warm pot set over moderate heat. Add the arugula to teh pasta mixture. Toss vigorously (a good set of kitchen tongs works well here). The arugula will wilt in the heat of the pasta. If the sauce is too 'dry' add in the reserved pasta water.

Divide among warm bowls and serve immediately.

Italians would faint if one served cheese with a dish containing fish. Faint away - er grated some Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on top.

April 26, 2012

Lemon Artichoke Chicken

Y'all know by now that the flavor of the week is Artichokes.
I would love to get my hands on some of those fresh artichokes that we can get right off the plant in Italy. Porca Miseria . . . I will have to settle for canned artichoke hearts.
Now. . . what to do?
I love me some Artichoke Dip.
So, I decided to take the same ingredients and turn it into a yummy dish.
Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!
Artichoke Chicken with Lemon Zest
4 chicken breasts
4 GARLIC cloves
1 tsp THYME
2 LEMON, juice and zest
2 cups of artichokes, drained and chopped
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup parmiggiano
Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper, set aside. In a bowl, combine diced artichoke hearts, minced garlic, thyme, lemon juice and mayo. Stir in Parmiggiano cheese. Place the chicken breasts in a baking dish, top with artichoke dip. Cover and bake for 35 minutes or until cooked through, uncover and bake another 5-10 minutes until toasty on top.
Serve each chicken breast with a topping of artichoke dip and a nice green side.
That is fit for company
Y'all enjoy~
Sandi

May 3, 2012

Pork Chops with a Coffee Bourbon Sauce

The 'flavor' of the week is coffee.
What goes with coffee?
You don't need to buy the Flavor Bible to know that Bourbon and sugar go with coffee.So, I decided to take some of our favorite flavors and use them in a sauce over grilled pork chops. . . Brilliant!

Pork Chops with Coffee Bourbon Molasses
1 cup strongly brewed coffee
1/2 cup BOURBON
1/2 cup packed light BROWN SUGAR
2 Tbs MOLASSES
1 CINNAMON stick
Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan. Simmer over low heat until reduced to desired thickness. Remove cinnamon sticks.
Brush over porkchops while grilling.It doesn't get much better than this!Y'all enjoy~
Sandi

May 6, 2012

Mushroom & Ham Stuffed Squid

I was never a squid fan. To me squid meant greasy, breaded and fried rubberband rings served in poor excuses for Italian restaurants. That is until September 21st, 2010 when I was forced to attempt a squid recipe during our Pomodori e Vino project.

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That's when I fell in love with squid - or more accurately, a specific method of preparing squid. Marcella Hazan's Squid with Porcini Mushroom Stuffing. I've prepared it numerous times since then. I love it.

So when this week's squid assignment rolled around, I decided to use Marcella's recipe and just tinker with it a bit. Basically, all I did was requce the amount of mushrooms by half and add a cup of finely diced smoked ham.

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I'm not going to post the recipe here. You can find it on page 325 of Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. You'll thank me for having to buy this treasure of a book in order to get the recipe. The complimentary ingredients are: PARSLEY, SALT, PEPPER, GARLIC, white wine.

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After cleaning the squid and chopping the tentacles, I mixed all the stuffing ingredients and then stuffed the squid sacks.

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After browning the stuffed squid sacks in oil, I added the wine and covered for a long slow simmer. I must have overstuffed one of the squid sacks, because it split open during cooking.

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So, I added some more liquid to the stuffing that ended up in the pan, turning it into a yummy sauce.

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This was a delicious version. The smokey ham married so well with the squid. I know I'll make it again someday. But, Marcella's classic recipe is still my favorite.

May 7, 2012

Shrimp-Stuffed Squid in a Sofregit Sauce with Aioli

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I knew I wanted to make a stuffed squid dish, but I wasn't sure what I wanted to stuff them with. I went to our local asian/seafood/specialty market, where I knew they carried whole squid. I bought a pound, and the only problem was that the squid were pretty small. I had thought I would stuff them with a rice/shrimp mixture, but I decided they were too small for that. So I decided to stuff them with minced shrimp instead.

This preparation is rather long, but if they squid were larger they would be easier to stuff and wouldn't take as long. I was having a friend come over for a late lunch on Saturday, and I woke up early, which gave me the opportunity of piddling around in the kitchen taking my time and making most everything in advance.

I started out by making a sofregit sauce. Sofregit is a foundational sauce in Mediterranean Catalan cuisine. It's a fragrant tomato-based sauce made with tomatoes, onions, olive oil, garlic and onions, it can include other vegetables like mushrooms and peppers. These are cooked at low heat for a long period of time, so the vegetables become very flavorful.

As this sauce was cooking, I peeled my shrimp, minced it, and seasoned it with salt and aleppo pepper.

Then I cleaned my squid. I had done this before, so I knew how. Once you've done it once, you realize how easy it is. Okay, some people might find it a little unappealing, but it doesn't bother me. When the squid was cleaned, I stuffed them like little sausages with the shrimp mixture. Close the open end with a toothpick woven through, and back in the refrigerator to wait until their time to cook. Oh, I also kept the tentacle part to cook in the sauce alongside the stuffed bodies.

I next made an aioli sauce, which is basically a garlic mayonnaise. If you make this recipe, be sure to include this element. The bright sharp flavor of this really made a difference in the taste of the dish.

The stuffed squid turned out delicious. The shrimp inside was firm with the texture of a seafood sausage. I served simply with crostini alongside. (Take a loaf of good crusty bread, slice, lay on cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and broil on low until crispy.)

Shrimp-Stuffed Squid in Sofregit Sauce with Aioli
Serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as an appetizer

1 pound whole squid, cleaned.
1 pound shrimp, peeled and minced
salt and pepper
aleppo pepper
Sofregit (see below)
Aioli (see below)

1. Make the safregit and set aside. Can be made in advance and refrigerated until ready to use.
2. Make the aioli and refrgerate until ready to use. Can be made a day in advance.
3. Season the raw, minced shrimp with salt and a sprinkling of aleppo pepper.
4. Stuff the squid bodies with the minced shrimp and close the end by weaving a toothpick through each. Make sure to cut the eyes and the hard white piece off the tentacle part of the squid and set aside.
5. Heat the sofreigit in a large skillit. Place the stuffed squid among the sauce and add the tentacles also to the sauce. Keep the heat on low, cover, and cook until the squid are firm and you think the shrimp are cooked through. I forgot to watch exactly how long this took, but I would guess about 20 minutes. You don't want to overcook or they'll get tough but you need the shrimp to cook through. You could cut one open when you think they might be done.
6. Divide the sauce and squid among 2-4 plates and drizzle the aioli sauce over. Serve with crunchy bread.

Sofregit
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped (I used a yellow one)
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, chopped (I used cremini, you can use portabello, buttons or any kind)
1 bay leaf
Large pinch of cumin
Large pinch of oregano
Salt to taste

Place all ingredients in large skillet and cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until all of the vegetables are soft. (I probably cooked mine for an hour to 1 1/2 hours). Can be made ahead and refrigerated until ready to use.

Aioli (The recipe for aioli came from Epicurious.com)
2 garlic cloves
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Mince and mash garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt using a large heavy knife. Whisk together yolk, lemon juice, and mustard in a bowl. Combine oils and add, a few drops at a time, to yolk mixture, whisking constantly, until all oil is incorporated and mixture is emulsified. (If mixture separates, stop adding oil and continue whisking until mixture comes together, then resume adding oil.)

Whisk in garlic paste and season with salt and pepper. If aïoli is too thick, whisk in 1 or 2 drops of water. Chill, covered, until ready to use.


May 9, 2012

Calamari Steaks Stuffed with Sausage and Fennel

This week was a bit of a challenge. There's not a lot of squid in the desert. I was able to find calamari steaks, so I decided to try something I thought sounded interesting, as I am not a fan of tomato-based sauces. The results were delicious, and I would definitely make this again!

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2 large calamari steaks
2 plus 1 T. olive oil
1 bulb fennel, finely chopped
1/4 c. chopped onion
4 oz. hot Italian sausage
1/2 c. bread crumbs
1/4 c. grated Romano or Parmigiano cheese
1 cup white wine

In 2 T. olive oil, saute sausage, fennel, and onion until sausage is browned, and vegetables have softened. Remove from heat. In a bowl, add bread crumbs and cheese to sausage mixture. Stuff the calamari steaks, and tie with kitchen string. In a clean skillet, heat 1 T. olive oil. Brown the rolled, stuffed calamari on all sides. Add white wine and cook 30 minutes.

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Plate the calamari rolls, add remaining stuffing to reduced wine and pour over calamari as a sauce.

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May 12, 2012

Grilled Squid with Tomato Basil Vinaigrette

I've not been looking forward to squid week. To me it has absolutely no flavor, it gives nothing to me other than the impression of chewing on a rubber band. Breaded, fried, with a spicy dipping sauce I can eat it but other than that it is a struggle.

I was curious to see what the Flavor bible said about squid - I suspected it would be like chicken and the book would list 'everything' underneath the title. I mean, what WOULDN'T go with something with such a delicate flavour?

I discovered through my research that grilling is an excellent way to prepare squid because the quick cooking keeps it tender. Apparently, it's easy to overdo it and end up with a chewy texture, so most authors suggest sticking to 3 or 4 minutes total.

I decided to marinate whole (but CLEANED) squids in a citrusy marinade for an hour and grill it over high heat. Once off of the grill my plan was to slice it into rings and serve it dressed with a simple tomato basil vinaigrette.

The result was delicious. Still not enough to have me ordering up squid on a regular basis but I was able to force it down! High praise, indeed.


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Grilled Squid with Tomato Basil Vinaigrette

For the marinade:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 pounds cleaned medium squid (about 4 pounds uncleaned)

For the vinaigrette:
1 medium coarsely chopped tomato
1/2 cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt

To make the marinade: In a small bowl whisk together the marinade ingredients.

Place the cleaned squid in a large, resealable plastic bag and pour in the marinade. Press the air out of the bag and seal tightly. Turn the bag to distribute the marinade, place in a bowl, and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

To make the vinaigrette: In a food processor combine the tomato, basil, vinegar, garlic, pepper, and salt and process until smooth. With the motor running, slowly pour in the olive oil and process until fully incorporated.

Remove the squid from the bag and discard the marinade. Season with salt. Grill over Direct High heat until just cooked, 3 to 4 minutes, turning once halfway through grilling time. Remove from the grill and cut into 1/4-inch strips. Place in a medium bowl and add as much of the vinaigrette as desired. Toss to coat the squid evenly. Serve warm.

May 16, 2012

Grilled Sea Bass with Passionfruit Beurre Blanc

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This was the first time I cooked Sea Bass. I wanted to keep it simple, so I left it to Brad to grill the fish, while I created a yummy sauce. I spotted the jar of passionfruit jelly in my fridge, and decided on a Passionfruit Beurre Blanc!

4 Sea Bass Steaks

1 shallot, finely chopped
1/2 c. white wine
1/4 c. white wine vinegar
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. heavy cream
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2 T. Passionfruit jelly

Brush fish with olive oil, and grill for 6 minutes on each side (adjust time depending on thickness of fish)

In a small saucepan, cook wine, vinegar and shallots until reduced to 3-4 tablespoons.
Add cream and reduce heat. Whisk in butter two pieces at a time, removing from heat when half the butter has been added. Whisk in passionfruit jam and season with a little salt and white pepper. Pour through mesh sieve, and serve over fish.

May 17, 2012

Fresh Sea Bass on Wild Mushroom Risotto

I have been really worrying about some of these Fishy 'flavors'. . . not because I don't like fish. It is a proven fact that it is nearly impossible to find good fish at the Piggly Wiggly!

I was talking about this with Chef Rob . . . not a problem he says ~ I'm breaking down fresh fish all the time.

So . . . guess who my guest Chef will be? I have to give the credit to The Tavern of St Clair and Rob. I would never be whacking at this thing in my kitchen!The special tonight at the Tavern is ~

Fresh Sea Bass on Wild Mushroom Risotto with Grilled Asparagus

(recipe by description of the chef...)

Season the sea bass with salt and pepper.

On a hot grill, splash some oil and heat to a slight smoke. With a sprig of fresh thyme, sear the sea bass skin side down. Flash sear until you have a crispy skin and golden color. Flip it once.



Serve over a healthy portion of wild mushroom risotto in a shallow bowl with a slant of asparagus. This is a hot entree and will be gone by the end of the night.

And he was right!

Y'all enjoy~
Sandi

May 30, 2012

Veal Meatballs with a Surprise Inside

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These meatballs were a nice change of taste, and have a "surprise" inside. They are baked, not fried.

1/2 lb. of ground veal
1/3 lb. of ground beef
1 egg, beaten
1 clove of garlic, minced
a handful of Italian parsley, chopped
1/4 c. bread crumbs
1/4 c. grated Romano cheese

2 oz. mascarpone
2 oz. gorgonzola or blue cheese, softened

Preheat oven to 400. Mix together all ingredients for meatballs. Combine mascarpone and gorgonzola thoroughly with a fork.

Make 4 meat mixture patties.

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Divide cheese mixture into four spoonfuls, and place one in the center of each patty.

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Completely enclose cheese mixture into meat, forming 4 meatballs. Drizzle with a little olive oil in a baking dish.

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Bake at 400 for 30 minutes.

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June 7, 2012

Pan - Fried Cod with an Almond Crust

The flavor of the week is Cod.  I think that the only place you get cod in Alabama is at Captain D's. I was tempted to go there and take a picture before I left for Italy and just be done with it.But . . . I started thinking of a trout almondine I had made before. Cod would work just fine.

Pan-Fried Cod with Almond Crust
4 fish fillets
2 large eggs
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup butter
Almondine Breading
1/2 cup panko crumbs
1/2 cup almonds, sliced
First, make the almondine crust by minching the almonds and panko together in a Majic Bullet or processor. Salt and pepper the fish.

In a small bowl, mix egg and water together to make an egg wash.
Place the almondine breading in another shallow pan.
Dredge each fish fillet through the flour, dusting off any excess, then dipping in egg wash and placing in breading, coating both sides of fish.



Melt the butter in a saute pan using medium heat.
Place fish in hot butter and cook on each side until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side be careful not to knock off the Almond breading.



That's better than Captain D's any dayY'all enjoy~
Sandi

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