Tuesday, June 29, 2010

CSA Week Two

Week two of CSA Season is here, if you missed last weeks list take a look here.
This weeks share includes
red leaf lettuce
green leaf lettuce
red Russian kale
mustard greens
easter egg radishes
garlic scapes

Some of the red leaf lettuce, easter egg radishes and garlic scapes went into the salad we served with the Tarragon, Lime and Honey Tilapia

For the garlic scapes I think it may be pesto time. If you have never used garlic scapes
try to find some at your local farmers market, they will be gone soon or already gone depending on where you are. They have a very nice mild garlic flavor and can be added raw to salads or quickly cooked for a stir fry and so on. Lots of ingredients to plan for, if you have any ideas post a comment and let me know.

Tarragon, Lime, and Honey Marinated Tilapia

I have been trying hard to figure out what to use the tarragon from last weeks CSA pickup in.  I had fish in mind as it is one of the traditional uses for tarragon but beyond that nothing concrete. If you have never used it tarragon has a mild anise like flavor, I love it but it is very easy to overwhelm things with it. So I did a bit of fridge/freezer inventory and saw I had most of a lime left from saturdays Gin and tonics and some tilapia. A quick internet search didn't give me a recipe with tarragon, lime and tilapia but I found several recipes for fish with tarragon and plenty with fish and lime and several of those used honey so I figured I could use honey as a bridge between the flavors of the tarragon and the lime. So a quick marinade and flash fry at high heat and a delicious fish was the result. All of the measurements but the amount of fillets are educated guesses as I made this up on the fly

3 Tilapia fillets
A palm full of fresh tarragon leaves torn (you could use dry maybe a Tbsp)
The juice of one lime (couple of Tbsp of juice)
2 Tbsp White balsamic vinegar (you could use regular balsamic or perhaps white wine vinegar)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp of honey, I may have used more I didn't measure. I used buckwheat honey which has an almost molasses like quality to it, any honey would work I'm sure but I encourage you to try different varieties of honey, you will be amazed.
kosher salt
white pepper
 Canola oil for cooking, enough to fully cover the bottom of the pan
I went with the white pepper and white vinegar because I didn't want to color the fish with flecks of black or a dark vinegar, they are purely aesthetic choices, of course I didn't bother to take pictures. Place the fish in a large zip top bag, my fillets were still a little frozen which is fine for the marinating step, it just takes a bit longer.
Pour in all the ingredients but the canola oil, tip the bag around a few times to mix the ingredients and coat the fish, set in the fridge to marinate. If your fillets are fully thawed an hour should do it, if not allow 2 or three hours.

Heat the canola oil over high heat until it is almost smoking then back the heat off to medium, place the fillets in the pan carefully as the oil will splatter add a bit of the marinade as well, cook on one side for 2-3 minutes, then flip and cook for another 2 minutes.  I received a fish spatula (mine has a longer handle for grilling) for a gift this past Christmas I can't say enough good things about it, for flipping delicate fillets or really anything delicate it is really wonderful. Remove and serve immediately. We served it with couscous and a nice green salad.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Eggplant Rollatini

My Friend Jen asked me for this one and it was destined for the blog at some point, so today is the day.

Eggplant Rollatini (somehow we always had an extra n in the word, I always pronounced it Rollantini) has been a special dish in my family as long as I can remember and both my brother and I have continued making it. One of these days I would love to try Mine, my Mom's and my Brothers side by side, it would be interesting to see how years of separation have changed the dish. I don't actually have this recipe written anyplace so the amounts of anything are going to be educated guesses, the good news is it gives you lots of opportunity to taste as you go and make a few attempts at this.

For the filling
1 large container of ricotta cheese. (30 oz I think)
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Romano or Parmesan or a blend (if you are thinking about using some box of cheese here then we need to chat, seriously don't do it)
dried basil
dried oregano
garlic powder
salt and pepper
dried mint
one egg

For the eggplant
1-2 Whole Eggplants, look for the straightest eggplants you can find, free of any big bruises. I like to use two, if I am investing this much time in a dish I want to be sure there are leftovers.
3 cups or more of seasoned bread crumbs. I like to buy the unseasoned ones and add my own herbs and spices, making your own breadcrumbs is also fun
garlic powder or granulated garlic
3-4 eggs
canola oil  or some other neutral  oil for frying

To put it all together
2 cups or more of your favorite home made red sauce (if you don't make your own I will happily give lessons)
1-2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup of Parmesan/Romano

Start with the filling, you can make it well in advance, it also freezes well so if you don't need all of it freeze it. it is a great filling for several dishes, manicotti and stuffed shells come to mind.

Mix  the ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan/Romano together in a large bowl and add about a Tbsp each of  basil, oregano, and garlic maybe 1/2 Tbsp of salt and maybe a tsp of the mint, do not skip the mint. Taste for filling. You really want to be able to taste the herbs and the mint should be a light touch as an aftertaste. Set this aside in the fridge so the flavors can come together and you can do all the other work you need to do. When you are ready to use it taste for seasonings again and then mix in the egg.  I have tasted this more than one time with the raw egg in it and it hasn't killed me yet but I know people are squeamish about that.

Now make the eggplant, this is where the recipe becomes time consuming and you will see why I don't make it very often. The eggplant needs to be sliced lengthwise in slices about 1/4 inch thick, you want them to be uniform in thickness so they will cook at the same rate. If you own a deli slicer this is an easy task, cut the ends off of the eggplant and slice it up. A deli slicer may seem like an extravagant gadget but if you cook a lot I promise you will get a lot of use out of it. If you don't own a slicer (most of you I'm assuming) you can try to cut it with a knife but it is difficult to get the thickness right. Here is the trick, most supermarkets (Wegmans of course) will have people milling around in the produce area and if you ask they will slice it for you, no joke. Sometimes they will take it to the deli, sometimes they have a slicer in the produce department. If you tell them you want it 1/4 inch thick it is usually a pretty easy thing. Just ask. If you don't have any luck then you will want to buy smaller eggplants so it it easier to cut by hand.

OK now that you have your eggplant sliced you want to get some of the moisture out of it. lay the slices out on a cooling rack over some newspaper, sprinkle it with salt and let it sit for 15 minutes or so. You should see some of the moisture from the eggplant has dripped out onto the newspaper. Rinse off the salt and dry it off with paper towels.

Beat 3 eggs in a large bowl with a Tbsp of water

Mix up your breadcrumbs with salt, pepper, garlic, oregano and basil. Your best vessel for this is a 9 x 13 baking dish, the high sides are a good thing.

Heat up the biggest frying pan you own or an electric skillet, or both. The more frying area you have the fewer batches you will need to do. Add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan to a depth of about 1/8 of an inch. Medium High heat should do the trick.

Now take a slice of eggplant, and put it into your egg bowl,  let any excess drop off and then coat it with your breadcrumb mixture, shake off any excess,  you want a nice even coat. Put it into your hot oil and cook about 2-3 minutes until golden brown, then flip and cook the other side. Once each slice is done lay it on a cookie sheet covered with paper towels. You will wind up with several layers off eggplant, each layer should be separated by paper towels. Cook each slice this way, you will need to add more oil as you go, be sure to let the oil heat up fully before you add more eggplant, otherwise you will wind up with soggy greasy eggplant, doesn't that sound lovely? You may also need to add more breadcrumbs or eggs as you go.

Once all of your eggplant is fried you are ready to assemble. Preheat your oven to 375.
Put a layer of sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 glass baking dish. Then put a heaping tablespoon of the filling on the bottom end of the eggplant and roll it up, place it seam side down on your sauce covered pan, repeat until the dish is full, then start on the next dish.  Two eggplants usually nets me two full 9 x 13 pans and one smaller pan. I told you I like leftovers.

When you are done add a layer of sauce to the top of each pan and sprinkle it liberally with mozzarella and Parmesan/Romano. If you are going to freeze a pan of this then do it now, put a layer of plastic wrap right down onto the cheese and then cover with foil and stick it in the freezer. Do yourself a favor and use a sharpie to write on the foil  REMOVE PLASTIC BEFORE BAKING. To heat it from frozen just put it in a 350 degree oven until it is bubbling then turn the heat up to 400 for a few minutes to brown the cheese.

Bake it in the oven until the filling and sauce are bubbling and the mozzarella has started to brown a bit. 15 minutes? maybe? I have no clue. By this time I have been frying eggplant for a while and time has lost all meaning. I'm usually well into a few glasses of wine by now as well.

Ideally you will want to let this sit for 15-20 minutes before serving so the cheese filling has some time to set but I rarely make it that long. Serve with some extra sauce on the side if you like, I tend to like it just as it is, too much sauce overwhelms the subtle flavors of the eggplant and the filling.  This is my eggplant dish for people who say they hate eggplant. The eggplant is completely transformed in this recipe and while it still retains its flavor it loses all of the bitter mushiness that turns off many people to eggplant.

Serve with fresh bread or garlic bread and a nice green salad and some good red wine. Chianti or montepulciano would be a nice match.

Since the filling is the same I have been known to do half and half pans of eggplant rollatini and manicotti, this pleases everyone, including me. I did this for the first time as a meal for some friends who had just had a baby, I knew for sure one of them would not touch the eggplant so this was a nice compromise. Fresh manicotti shells are so simple it's a crime but that is another blog post.

Red Russian Kale and Red Onion Savory Breakfast Squares

This is another dish that Kerrie discovered last year during CSA season that was good enough to repeat this year Red Russian Kale Breakfast Squares. Kerrie made this one and was true to the recipe with two exceptions, she used swiss cheese and since we don't have any spike seasoning she used salt, pepper, paprika and a little season salt.

I ate some as I was running out the door last night and it was delicious. No reason to limit this to breakfast only but it would be a great dish to bring along to a brunch as it does not need to be piping hot to be good.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Warm Salad of Mustard Greens and Black-Eyed Peas

So last night was the first meal we made with our CSA stuff. Kerrie found this dish last year and as soon as we saw mustard greens were coming we planned on making it again. Here is the original recipe. We made of couple of changes and omissions so I won't bother reprinting the recipe, just what we did differently.
We used Canadian bacon instead of real bacon, not my first choice really, but in an effort to eat a healthier it was OK. Bacon and Red wine are two things that must be consumed as quickly as possible so once I open a package of bacon I will eat it in everything until it's gone. Since the Canadian bacon doesn't release fat in the way that regular bacon does you will need to add some oil to the pan to cook it in.

We omitted the jalapeno becuase we didn't have one, we didn't have one last year either so I don't know how it works in the dish, I would substitute some crushed red pepper if you want the heat.

We also didn't have green onions, so we used some of the chives from our garden, this was not a good substitute. In the few minutes of cooking the  larger pieces of chive picked up a woody texture that was not a pleasant thing, stick with green onions.

If you have never had mustard greens don't be intimidated, they have peppery mustardy taste that is reminiscent of arugula but with a much heartier flavor and texture. They are definitely a cooking green, raw you get all of the pepper and none of the other flavors

Oh and don't skip the caraway, it is an unexpected element in the overall flavor and it really sets off the vinegar and the black eyed peas. I would recommend dry toasting the caraway seeds before using them, it helps them to release their flavor a bit more and makes them blend in to the whole dish rather than just being a flavor when you happen to get one in a bite.  Just put them in a dry frying pan over medium high heat and shake them  periodically until they start to smell like caraway. It only takes a couple of minutes but really helps with any dry seeds, caraway, cumin, mustard, etc


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

CSA Season Begins

We made our first pick up of the CSA season today and I am going to use the blog to help organize and plan how to use all the fantastic produce we get. For those of you not familiar with what a CSA is you can take a look here. Our local CSA is Stones Throw Farm
This is our third year and it has always been a challenge to eat or process everything we get without some waste, and I really hate to waste good fresh food. So my challenge is going to be to list all of the produce we get each week and do some meal planning to ensure we use it up or preserve it.

So on to week one, we got:
baby lettuce,
Red Russian kale
mustard greens
garlic scapes
Yukon Gold potatoes
fresh tarragon.

So far we have a few dishes to transform things

Warm Salad of Mustard Greens and Black-Eyed Peas

Red Russian Kale and Red Onion Savory Breakfast Squares Recipe

The lettuce is destined for salads and the peas and garlic scapes will wind up in a stir fry, I think. 

Which really leaves just the potatoes and tarragon, I'm thinking some kind of a fish dish will tie both ingredients together nicely, I have some haddock in the freezer that may do the trick.

I will update things with recipes and tweaks as we get through the week and try to make this a weekly habit.


Lechon Asado (cuban citrus and garlic roast pork) with Mojo

This is a new recipe for me out of an old favorite: BBQ USA: 425 Fiery Recipes from All Across America, the same book I got Coffee Crusted Pork Tenderloins from. Any recipe that lists its first ingredient as 1 head garlic has to be good right? My parents are coming for a Father's Day BBQ and I wanted to pull out a new treat so I decided this was the way to go. I have made a Mojo sauce before for a cumin crusted pork paillard recipe (I will have to put that one on here some time)

The Ingredients
1 head garlic
1 Tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups of lime juice
1/2 cup orange juice (if you can find sour orange juice you can use 2 cups of it instead of the lime orange mix)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 pork shoulder (5-7 lbs)

Put the garlic, salt, cumin, oregano salt and pepper into your food processor and pulse until everything is coarsely chopped. At this point just the aroma should make you pretty happy you tried this recipe. Turn the processor on as slow as you can get it and while it's running pour in the olive oil and juice. It should wind up looking like a salad dressing.

Next. make a bunch of slices in your pork shoulder, put the tip of a knife about an inch or so deep, wiggle it around a bit to open things up. Once you have perforated your pork, put it into a non-reactive container and pour the marinade onto it, working the marinade into the slits in the pork. Remember that Tupperware marinating container I talked about with the pork tenderloin dish? Yep, you should have one. Otherwise you can put in in a glass baking dish and cover tightly with plastic wrap. If you have a Ziploc bag big enough that would work as well. Ideally you want to turn the pork a few times to get the marinade evenly distributed. Let it sit overnight at a minimum, but 24-48 hours, or more, would be much better. Seriously, if you want this for a Saturday BBQ start it Wednesday night.

Now I am starting mine in the smoker and I will finish it on the grill, but any indirect cooking method will work fine. Charcoal, gas, giant pit in the ground, whatever you happen to have around. So heat up your cooking vehicle of choice and while it heats you can finish preparing the pork.

Open the lid, inhale heavily, then drain off the marinade and let the pork sit on a cutting board. Rub it all over with kosher salt and pepper and then put it on the heat. The recipe says it will be 3-4 hours on a grill with indirect cooking, shooting for an internal temp of 195. 195 is higher than I would usually cook pork but apparently that is the Cuban way. I like 175 or 180. You have a meat thermometer, right? Every kitchen needs one to make sure your foods are cooked to the proper temperature. Even if it's just a simple stem thermometer. (And yes, this public health PSA is brought to you by Kerrie).

For the Mojo Sauce
1 cup olive oil
12 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 1/3 cups of sour orange juice (or the same lime orange mix from the marinade)
2/3 cup water
2 tsp kosher salt or more
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup cilantro

Heat the olive oil to medium or medium high in a saucepan and add the sliced garlic, cook the garlic until it is light or golden brown. Add the remaining ingredients except for the cilantro and bring them to a boil for 3-5 minutes then let it cool to room temperature. Add the cilantro right before serving.

When your pork is done let it rest for 10 minutes or so then cut it into slices.

Pour the sauce over the pork when it is ready and enjoy yourself a treat. Or you can pour the sauce over the pork and some grilled plantains which are pretty simple.

Slice 2-4 plantains on an angle so you have long evenly thick slices, slice the peel and remove from each piece. Either coat your grill with oil, or take a piece of foil and fold up the edges a bit and pour in a few tablespoons of canola oil, toss the plantains in the oil, sprinkle with a bit of salt and put the foil on the grill. If your grill has wide grates then go the foil route, you will be happier. Cook the plantains on one side until the get a nice brown caramel color then flip and cook a few minutes more. They get a really nice sweet potato flavor and the salty sweetness goes amazingly well with the mojo and the pork.

Watch this space for the amazing fresh bread Kerrie made and a really wonderful lobster, shrimp, mango and pea salad that my mother contributed.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Carribean Seafood Salad

This was my Mothers contribution to Fathers day dinner. Now those of you who know me might have some inkling of how important my mom teaching me to cook has been to my life, but it really can't be put in to words. My enjoyment of cooking and eating has it roots in enjoying the time spent with my mother as kid cooking and trying different things. I am so excited to have my parents close by again for many reasons, the chance to cook with and for my mother more often is a huge factor in that. Right, all  nostalgia aside here is the recipe.

For the Salad
1 bag of frozen peas
1 1/2 heads of romaine lettuce
1 mango
1 lb steamed spiced shrimp
14 oz lobster meat ( you can use frozen, just don't use faux lobster)

For the dressing
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup of cocktail sauce
1 tsp horseradish(or more if you like a kick)
1/2 cup of mayo (olive mayo has become the preferred mayo in my family, use miracle whip at your peril and my never-ending loss of faith in you)

Cover the Unpeeled Shrimp in old bay and steam for 5-7 minutes until pink, don't over cook the shrimp please. Seriously, chewy stringy shrimp are just not a happy thing.
Drain the shrimp and cover with ice to stop it from cooking any more. Once it has cooled peel the shrimp and slice each shrimp in half lengthwise and set aside in the fridge.

If using frozen cooked lobster just thaw it by running it under cold water and set aside. If you are using fresh lobster, cook it however you like and chop it into bite seized pieces

You can  use frozen mango slices if you can find it, but fresh is better, slice the mango and then, either use a small melon baller or use the hedgehog method to cut cubes. Cutting a mango can be a bit tricky but the linked video is a good way to learn.

If you are going to eat the salad right away then thaw the peas by running them under cold water in a colander, if you are going to be bringing this to a picnic and it is going to sit for a while just leave the peas frozen.

Remove the core from the lettuce and chop or tear the lettuce into bite size pieces. I like to tear leafier lettuces like red leaf or green leaf because I'm a bit nutty and that is what I was told you are supposed to do once upon a time and it has stuck with me. However with romaine if you cut it with a sharp knife you won't wind up with nasty wilted edges.

Put the lettuce in the bottom of a salad bowl and then layer on your seafood, mango and peas. Set it aside and work on your dressing. Combine all the dressing ingredients and whisk together. If you are serving right away just pour on the dressing and toss well to combine. If you are traveling with it leave the dressing in a separate container until just before serving.

This salad was a fantastic complement to the Lechon Asado and fresh bread. and of course the giant pitcher of Mojitos I made. If you don't think this meal screams for Mojitos then you are deaf to the siren call of tasty booze with your food.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

This recipe is from the cookbook by the same name, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.

The basic recipe has been reproduced in a few blogs with permission, so I won't do so again here. Instead I'll send you to one of the other websites. And strongly recommend that you buy the cookbook; there's a lot of basic info about bread baking and what worked for the authors, and what didn't, as they came up with the basic recipe. And of course there are a number of variations on the theme, even recipes for bagels and breakfast dishes.

The idea is to mix up a big batch of dough to keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Kneading isn't necessary, as the time it sits in the fridge is enough to allow the gluten to develop. Then when you want a beautiful free-formed loaf of crusty artisan bread to go with your homemade soup, you simply cut out a piece about the size of a grapefruit, shape as desired, let rise, and bake.

I really like this method because as the dough sits for a few days, a delicious sourdough flavor develops. In fact, when the dough is gone I like to mix a new batch in the same container without washing it to preserve that flavor (don't get grossed out; it's in the fridge, and since you're adding new flour you're feeding the yeast which means mold doesn't grow. It's like maintaining a sourdough starter).

Another similar recipe is the overnight No-Knead Artisan Bread recipe. Pro: makes one batch at a time, so you don't need to keep anything in your fridge. Con: makes only one batch at a time. There's no better food to prepare in your cast iron Dutch oven!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Granite City Food and Brewery

So I figured I would give remote restaurant blogging a try. We shall see. When I was planning my trip to St. Cloud Minnesota I looked up breweries (as I always do) and Granite City was the only thing that came up. I was a bit put off because it is a chain, albeit a regional one. I tried the bock first and they also gave me a taste of what they call two pull which is a blend of the bock and some light thing I didn't care to learn the name of. The bock was OK but a bit thin, the two pull was a watered down version of that so there was no shot. I tried the stout next and it was a winner, nice rich malt, good coffee flavors and a smooth finish. I ordered one and was informed that they had pitchers on special for $5, hell for $5 I would have had the bock. Top that off with a really tasty prosciutto and olive flatbread pizza and I am a happy man. The pizza is a bit on the salty side, and that is a lot coming from me. Thankfully the stout cleans the salt from my palate quite nicely.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tofu Tacos

We still had some cilantro, pico, avocado, and a lime leftover from Mark's burgers the other night, and I had some tofu to use up (plus I wanted a couple nights of meatless meals after those burgers), so we decided that meant tacos.

A friend of mine, Jenny, is a vegetarian and a big tofu fan, so thanks to her for sharing preparation tips! I wrapped a package of extra-firm tofu in a towel and placed a heavy cookbook on top for about 10 minutes. Then I cut it into small cubes (about the size of dice) and placed them in a plastic bag. I added a splash of lime juice, another splash of olive oil, some fresh lime zest, 2 Tbsp torn fresh cilantro, 1 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and let the tofu marinate for an hour or so in the fridge.

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add 2 cloves chopped garlic and 1 small onion, minced. Cook until it just starts to brown. Add tofu, stir well and crumble a bit more until it's heated through and the liquid has absorbed.

In a separate, dry, pan, heat your tortillas. We used corn because they're whole grain, but I love flour tortillas too. Top warmed tortillas with your filling, grate a little pepper jack onto it, then add pico or salsa, sliced peppers, sliced avocados, your favorite taco toppings.

I like tacos for all the toppings, not so much for the meat, so I was happy with this recipe. Mark of course likes the meat for itself, but said these were still good. :)

Homemade pizza or focaccia bread

Mark has had a few nights off from cooking this week so I'm a bit behind in adding recipes. This is a family favorite; even our picky son will down 2 slices in a sitting!

Pizza dough (as mentioned in the Christmas post, salami cheese bread recipe, this is adapted from the Joy of Cooking):

1 pkg instant yeast
1-1/4 c. warm water (105-115 degrees F)
1-3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2-3.5 c. flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water, let sit 5 minutes. Pour into a bowl, and add sugar, oil and salt. Add 2 c. flour and mix well. I wouldn't make this as often if I didn't have our Kitchenaid mixer with dough hook, I admit it.

I started with white flour but over the years we've moved to 100% whole wheat flour. We used half and half for awhile until we got used to it but I think we all like the chewiness of the whole wheat now. If you're not a fan of whole wheat but want the whole grain, try King Arthur Flour's "white whole wheat" flour. It's awesome.

I start with 2 c. flour and mix well. Then I add more flour by 1/2 c. increments until it's just pulling away from the sides of the bowl, but still kind of attached at the bottom. If I'm using white flour, it's up to 3-1/2 cups; whole wheat flour is only about 2-1/2 c.). Knead about 5 minutes, then pour a little olive oil down the side and quickly grab the dough ball, swish it around to coat the bowl with oil and then turn it over, so the whole dough ball is coated in oil.

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place about an hour, until doubled; or overnight in the fridge which tastes way better but I can never remember in time.

Sprinkle a lot of cornmeal onto a baker's peel and stretch out your dough by hand (some people use a rolling pin but I think it flattens the dough too much; I like bubbles) until it's about 15-18 inches in diameter. Or, you can divide it into 2-4 pieces and have everyone in the family make their own. Allow to rest 10 minutes. It will have contracted a bit, stretch it back out a little before topping.

Our favorite:
Cook a box of frozen chopped spinach; drain well. I put it in the middle of a clean dishtowel and wring it right out. Pour 3-4 Tbsp good extra virgin olive oil onto the dough. Add 4-5 cloves crushed or minced garlic, and using a basting brush, spread the garlic and oil all over the crust. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp sea salt (kosher's too fine for this), 1 tsp each dried basil and oregano, and some ground black pepper.

Cover with part-skim mozzarella, feta if you have it, and grated Romano cheese. Sprinkle with the drained cooked spinach and sliced black olives. If you like them, of course.

Slide onto a preheated pizza stone that's also been sprinkled with cornmeal. Bake at 475 F for 10-12 minutes, or until the cheese is just starting to brown. Pull it out with the peel, and let cool for a few minutes before slicing (as if we ever do).

Our second favorite:
Gyro pizza
Do all the above, but skip the olives (you can use kalamata olives if you like). Chop a few slices of gyro meat (we get ours from the Mediterranean specialty store down the road) and sprinkle onto the pizza. If you can't get this, try some marinated pork tenderloin or even chicken. Add chopped tomatoes, onions-whatever you like on your gyros. Bake as directed above and serve with tzatziki sauce for dipping.

Another favorite:
Breakfast pizza
Cut back on the garlic and herbs by about half. Top with some mozzarella, Swiss, cheddar, chopped ham, bacon, onions, peppers, broccoli-- whatever you like in a quiche. Gently scramble an egg and cook it for a minute or two on the stove until it just starts to cook and then dab the bits of egg onto the pizza; or just crack an egg or two right onto the pizza, then slide it into the oven. Bake just as above.

My brother Ryan's favorite:
Focaccia bread
Mix the dough as above. Divide into 2 pieces and pat into about 8 or 9 inch rounds (you can put them in oiled cake pans or just do this on a baking stone). Let rise an hour. Gently press your fingertips into the risen dough to create dimples. Drizzle olive oil all over the bread so it pools in the dimples; sprinkle with sea salt, rosemary, garlic, grated cheese, etc.--whatever you like on your focaccia. Thin slices of red onions or leeks, and thin slices of potatoes work very well, too. Bake at 400 F for 20 minutes, until it's golden brown. Cut into wedges and serve.

A ghost from Christmas Past

2009 Feast of the 7 fishes Menu and Recipes

Course One
Fried Calamari and Fried Smelt
I use a boxed seafood frying mix that I a doctor up with cayenne pepper and seafood seasoning. The real trick is soaking the squid in buttermilk for a few hours before using it.
Course Two
Salami Cheese Bread
Kerrie makes the bread dough each year and I get all the credit for filling it and rolling it up. For 4 loaves of bread I use two pounds of provolone cheese and between 1.5 – 3 lbs of Salami. Roll out the dough like you would a pizza, though try to go for a more oblong oval shape instead of a circle. Start with a layer of cheese, about 8 slices, then cover that layer with salami, sprinkle on some grated Parmesan, then repeat the same three layers again. Roll it like a burrito and try to seal it as much as you can. I often wet the tips of my fingers to try to seal it better. Brush the tops with butter before baking at 400 for about 20 minutes. The timing is tough to judge, the bread should be nice and brown and you will likely see some salami and cheese bursting out of the loaf someplace. When you think it is done tap your fingers on the top of the loaf, it should be pretty hard and make a nice thumping sounds when you hit it.
(Kerrie here) Bread dough: You can use refrigerated pizza dough, of course, but here’s my recipe. It’s the pizza dough recipe from the Joy of Cooking, tweaked a bit:
Dissolve 1 pkg yeast in 1 ¼ c. warm water (between 105 and 115 degrees F) for 5 minutes. Add about 2 Tbsp sugar, 1 splash of olive oil, and a couple of pinches of salt (maybe ½ tsp). Stir in 2 c. flour. Sometimes I use all white (I did this year), sometimes it’s half white and half whole wheat. Add more flour in half-cup increments until it’s just pulling away from the bowl, up to 1.5 more cups, and knead for a few minutes. Sprinkle a little more flour on top so you can pick up the dough, put it in an oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Let rise to double, about an hour. Punch down and roll out to use, ideally letting it rest about 5-10 minutes before cooking.

Meatball Soup
Meatball soup is a family tradition that spans several generations of my mother’s family. As it turns out it was traditionally served Christmas day, but my mother added it to Christmas Eve to offer something to those folks who don’t like fish.
The tradition is to use the turkey stock made from Thanksgiving's turkey as the base. There is no written recipe for the meatballs but I will try to recreate it as best as I can.
3 pounds of meatball mix (a mixture of beef pork and veal)
Mix with a couple handfuls of grated cheese then salt, pepper, garlic, basil, oregano and a pinch of mint.
I use panko breadcrumbs, but you can use the traditional method of soaking some stale bread in milk for a while, then wring out the bread and crumble it up into the mixture instead of breadcrumbs. Add 2 eggs and at least a cup of water and mix well. I like to fry up a little bit of the mix to taste it and make sure the seasonings are right. Then roll the meatballs just a bit larger than a large marble. I usually do this well ahead and freeze them so all I have to do is add them frozen to the simmering stock on Christmas Eve but you can do them fresh as well. The meatballs are done when they float. If you use frozen ones they will float, then sink, then float again.


We use this recipe, but here it is, again:
Cioppino can be made with the shell fish served in the shell, or with the shells removed. Though some diners prefer not to have to muss their hands in eating soup, the shells do add to the overall flavor of any fish soup recipe and allow for a more appealing and realistic Cioppino presentation.

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
8-10 canned or bottled oil cured anchovies, diced
4-6 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup diced celery
1 medium to large onion, diced
1 roasted red bell pepper, diced
1 cup good rose or red wine
3 T red wine vinegar
1 quart homemade fish or shrimp soup stock Shrimp Stock (chicken stock and/or clam or Clamato juice can be substituted)
2 cups or more, (depending on how thick and how tomatoey you like it) homemade tomato sauce or a 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped or 2-3 T dried (add to seasoning mix if dried)
Dash or two of Tabasco Sauce
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup fresh Italian Parsley
2-3 T fresh lemon juice
Seasoning Mix: (use your herb-designated coffee grinder)
1 T salt
1 T black or mixed whole pepper
2 T dried oregano
1 T fennel seeds
1 T fresh or dried rosemary leave
Just about everything works in Cioppino and Italian fish Stew or Soup recipes, but here are our recommendations:
1/2 lb. medium shrimp (save shells for making seafood stock)
1/2 lb. scallops
24 fresh mussels
1 lb. firm white fish, chopped in 1 inch pieces (cod, catfish, halibut, orange roughy, etc.)
16 fresh clams (optional)
(Fresh or canned oysters can be added if you like them)
Fresh bread of your choice, garlic baked if desired, and lots of it. (The juice is incredible)
Prepare the Cioppino:
Heat olive oil to medium and add anchovies. Add garlic after about 3 minutes (this mixture should smell fabulous by now, might even bring a whole slew of hungry family members a-runnin’).
Add bay leaves, onions, celery and bell pepper plus 1/2 of the seasoning mix. Sauté for 6-8 minutes.
Add wine, vinegar, Tabasco and Worcestershire and reduce by 1/2, then add tomato sauce, basil and the rest of the seasoning mix. Simmer about 5 minutes then add the lemon juice.
Add the fish stock and bring to a simmer
Add the fish and shellfish, cover and cook about 7 more minutes. Remove any of the mussels and clams that don't open.
Sprinkle the completed Italian fish stew with parsley. Serve with fresh, Italian bread. (Butter it up and garlic it if you really want a taste treat!)

Course Three
Kerrie again:
Pasta dough: I make enough for about half the expected number of people. Eggs, salt, and flour, mixed well. 1 egg for every 2 people; enough flour to make a soft dough, and a good pinch of salt. Or you can use the recipe below listed with the lobster ravioli.
Smoked salmon ravioli
I don’t really have a recipe for this, I just mix in the salmon and cheeses until it taste right. Chop about 4 oz cold-smoked salmon and half a brick of softened cream cheese. Add ½ cup ricotta and a handful of mozzarella. Season with basil, dill, chopped garlic, salt and cracked black pepper until it tastes good, then mix in a lightly beaten egg. Set aside to chill before filling so the flavors blend.
Lobster ravioli
I have used the recipe on this page for a couple of years now and it's excellent. Preparation Time: Approx. 4 hours, allowing for setting and drying time

Servings: 2 dozen large ravioli

Note: Most ravioli fillings are a finely chopped meat and spinach mixture but you may use any combination of meats or vegetables you like.

Ingredients: Noodle Dough

1 and 1/3 cup all-purpose flour -
2 eggs
2 tablespoon water -
1 teaspoon salt -
2 teaspoon oil.

Ingredients: Lobster filling -

1/2 cup minced lobster meat -
1/2 cup cooked minced spinach -
2 eggs
¼ cup bread crumbs
¼ cup grated cheese -
2 tablespoon heavy cream -
1 teaspoon dried sweet basil - 1 clove minced garlic -
pinch of salt & pepper

Method for Ravioli Filling

Lightly beat the eggs and add the cheese, garlic, heavy cream and spices. Fold in the lobster meat, the spinach, and lastly the bread crumbs.
Method for Noodle Dough

On a cutting board make a well with the flour. Loosely combine the egg, the salt, the water, and the oil and drop this mixture into the well. Work the mixture by hand, folding the flour over the egg until the dough can be formed into a ball. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes then let it stand for an hour.

Roll the dough until it is very thin and cut it into 2 equal sized sheets. On one sheet put a teaspoon of the ravioli filling, in little mounds 2 inches apart. Lightly brush around the mounds of filling with water. Place the second sheet over the first sheet and press gently around the ravioli mounds. Press the outside edges. Cut the dough into squares with a pie jagger leaving a mound of filling in the middle of each square. Place the ravioli on a lightly dusted sheet pan and dry for about 2 hours. If you’re going to freeze it, place in a single layer on that sheet pan and pop it in the freezer for a few hours, then you can put it in a bag.

Drop the ravioli into salted boiling water and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove and cool for later use or serve at once with tomato sauce and grated cheese.
White sauce
Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a saucepan; add several cloves of chopped garlic and cook until the garlic softens a bit. Sprinkle in about 1 Tbsp of flour and cook for a minute. Stir in a pint of cream (FF half and half works well too) and a cup of white wine, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens and almost boils. Stir in ½ c. to 1 c. grated cheese until it melts, turn off the heat and serve immediately.
Brown Butter Sauce
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
In a medium saucepan cook the butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When the foam subsides, and the butter begins to turn a golden brown, about 3 minutes, turn off the heat. Let cool for about 1 minute. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper.
I mixed in the parmesan in the pan and then tossed pasta with it but you could easily put the cheese on after the fact

Stuffed Calamari
This is another one where the recipe changes a bit each year but I will put down what I did this year.
2 stalks of celery, diced finely
1 medium onion, diced finally
1 stick butter
1 can of baby shrimp
1 can of crabmeat
Panko breadcrumbs
Chinese 5 spice powder
Salt, pepper and garlic to taste
This amount of filling will make between 10-12 portions depending on the size of your calamari tubes.
Melt the butter, add the celery and onion and cook on medium or medium low until soft. Add a teaspoon (or so) of Chinese five spice powder and salt and pepper and garlic then cook another few minutes until the spices have blended well. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool for a few minutes before adding in the crab, shrimp and breadcrumbs. Mix well and give it a taste, add more seasonings as needed.
Let the mixture cool before filling the squid.(the squid should have been soaking in the same buttermilk as the stuff you are going to use for fried calamari) You could try to use a pastry bag to fill them, I just use my fingers and add a little bit at a time. Do not over fill the stuffing expands and the squid contracts so you will lose a lot of stuffing, I leave a ¼ inch or at the large end open so there is room for expansion.
Lay the stuffed squid into a glass baking dish and add a few dots of butter to each squid and sprinkle on some paprika. Bake at 350 until the squid turns opaque, about 10-15 minutes at most. Overcooking is bad.

Course Four
This garlic monkfish was the dish we did not make it to this year. I made it a couple nights later and it was excellent. Couple if tips, be sure you chop the garlic pretty well, otherwise the pieces are too big to fit through the sieve. Also I found the sauce a little too thin for my tastes so I would recommend removing the fish from the pan and add the sauce to a pan to reduce it for a while before running it through the sieve.
10 cloves unpeeled garlic
1/4 cup softened butter
several thyme sprigs or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 pounds thick (1 1/2 -2 inches) monkfish fillets
9 tablespoons thyme vinegar or white wine vinegar
Parboil the garlic for 5 minutes in 1 cup of water. The skins will slip off easily. Coarsely
chop the garlic. Use half the butter to coat a shallow baking dish just large enough to hold
the fish in a single layer, and sprinkle with the garlic and thyme. Lay the fish on the herbs and dot with the remaining butter.
Bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes, and then add 3 tablespoons of vinegar. Now bake and baste twice more until all the vinegar is used. Then bake for another 5 to 15 minutes, basting every 5 minutes, until the fish is opaque.
(Cut through the thickest part to test. Do not let the fish become flaky or it will lose its
lobsterlike texture.) Strain the sauce through a sieve, using a wooden spoon to push the
garlic through the screen.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Crazy Days

So it has been a few days since I have posted anything. Thankfully Kerrie stepped up and filled in the gap. Between BBQ's and a lot of hours of work I have not done much cooking until today. Since I felt like my head was above water for the first time in a while I wanted to take advantage and get some food to the table. Unfortunately I was craving junk food and I really didn't want to go that way. So instead I turned my craving for a burger into a nice meal that, while it was not perfectly healthy, was a whole lot better than a burger out. Thus we wound up with

Fresh ground sirloin and chuck roast burgers with fresh Pico de Gallo and avocado. Served with Grilled chili lime corn on the cob.
For the Pico
I have to say I really just winged this one so these are all approximates
5 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped and mostly seeded
I like the ones on the vine, they just smelled great today
1 vidalia onion roughly chopped
4 cloves of garlic smashed
1 jalapeno pepper seeded and ribs removed, sliced
1 handful of fresh cilantro, just tear off a big handful
Olive oil
chili powder

Throw everything into your food processor and pulse until it is blended and all chopped, I like my pico very chunky. Do this up ahead of time if you can so it can set and the flavors can blend. Then you can season to taste.

For the burgers 
16 ounces Chuck roast
12 ounces of Sirloin
kosher salt
Whole wheat rolls
Pepper jack cheese
1/2 an avocado sliced

Sprinkle the meat liberally with salt and cut into one inch pieces, run the pieces through your meat grinder with a medium size plate.  What's that? You don't have meat grinder? Right then, you can go ahead and use ground beef, or if you are feeling a bit more adventurous you can run the meat through your food processor until it is coarsely ground. All my Rochester area friends, you know those chopped steak burgers we all love so much at Don and Bobs, Tom Wahls, Shalers etc, well that is about what you get when you chop some steaks up in a food processor. Just don't grind it too much or for too long, heat is your enemy.

Form the beef into 6 ounce patties, you can go bigger or smaller but 6 ounces is about perfect for me (you need a scale, you really do).  Form the patties to be about the size of your buns or a little bigger, use your fingers to make a dent in the center of each patty. This will help it cook more evenly and prevent bloated burgers with juicy centers and dry edges.

You can grill the burgers or pan fry them, I actually like to pan fry fresh burgers like this, I like the crust you get from a good hot pan and I like being able to regulate the temperature more effectively. Heat up a griddle or large frying pan with a thin layer of oil (or butter if you are so inclined), get it nice and hot then put the burgers on dimple side up, reduce the heat to medium and let them cook for a few minutes. Then flip , you should see a nice brown crust on the burgers, let them cook another couple of minutes then add your pepper jack. It helps to cover the burgers for a few minutes once you have the cheese on, it melts much better.

Now since you made these burgers yourself from meat that you selected and cut yourself you can make them as rare as you like, I like mine pretty rare.

While the burgers are cooking prepare your rolls, you can toast them if you like, I typically don't unless the rolls are a day old or so. The recipe that inspired me to make this called for a thin layer of Greek yogurt on the bottom of the bun, that would have been an excellent choice. I went with my standard which is some mayo and fresh black pepper. The yogurt with the black pepper would have been better.Once the burgers are done to your liking put them on the bun, and finish dressing the burger, add your avocado slices and top with a big spoonful of your pico de gallo. While you are dressing the burger the juices from the meat will have melted your mayo or yogurt and turned it into a delicious sauce. Thank you Alton Brown

With the nice fresh pico, the creamy avocado and the delicious sauce on the bun you won't need another thing to make this burger great.

I served the burgers with grilled chili lime corn on the cob. This one is so easy and fast you will kick yourself for not trying it before.

As many ears of corn as you want or can fit on your grill
Fresh lime juice
chili powder
olive oil
kosher salt

Pre heat your grill
Take off the outermost layer of your corn husk then peel the rest almost all the way off leaving it attached at the bottom, you can give the husk a couple of twists and it should stay in place at the bottom like a nice handle. I like to tie mine with some kitchen string to keep it in place. Oh come on you don't have a kitchen string dispenser on your counter? How did you tie the tails of your coffee crusted pork tenderloins in place when you made them. Oh right I skipped that step since I didn't expect anyone to do it. If you are curious just ask.

Once you have the corn ready lay it out on a cookie sheet  and mix together the juice of one lime, a teaspoon or so of chili powder and a couple of teaspoons of olive oil and pinch of salt. Those amounts will coat 4-5 ears of corn nicely.
Pour the mixture over the corn and rub it in, you can see it soak in between the kernels. Put the corn on your hot grill and cook it for 6-8 minutes turning it often so it doesn't get too charred. It is really easy to overcook it, pull if off the fire as soon as you feel the kernels start to soften, it will cook a lot more after you remove it from the heat so if you keep it on the grill until it is soft then it will be overdone by the time you eat it.

It doesn't need need anything else, the slightly charred flavor from the grill along with the lime, chili and salt is a great combination.

A nice green salad would go well with the overall meal

I had a Labatt blue light lime with dinner and it was an excellent complement.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


This makes a great sandwich spread or veggie and pita dip. It's a summer staple in our house.

1 cucumber*
1 pint plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
Olive oil
White vinegar
Garlic powder
white pepper

Peel, core, and grate/shred a cucumber. Peeling isn't necessary, but I recently learned that Mark can't abide cucumber skin. So, I peel them now.

Sprinkle with 1/4-1/2 tsp salt and let sit 5 minutes; press out the water and then put the cucumber into a medium (about 4 cups) bowl with a lid. The salt helps the water come out. And you want this drained well so you don't have runny tzatziki.

Top with a pint of plain Greek yogurt (nonfat usually; I also sometimes use sour cream and you can use any non fat, light, or full fat that you want). Add 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1/2 Tbsp white vinegar. Sprinkle garlic powder until it looks like the top of a cooked lemon meringue pie (or add 2-3 cloves pressed or minced garlic). This is just the way I learned to make it; I've never measured. Add more to taste. Add about 1/2 tsp white pepper. It's milder than black pepper and doesn't show up on the tzatziki.

*I have occasionally used a dill pickle when we're out of cucumbers. Dice it, then don't use vinegar or salt. It's not as good, it's not tzatziki, but it works.

What to do with it:
Top gyros with it
Use as a salad dressing
Serve with falafels (that's how we're having it tonight)
Serve with chicken, pork or lamb kabobs with a side of naan
Spread about 2 Tbsp into a pita bread, add a grilled chicken breast, feta, sliced tomatoes and shredded lettuce. If you have trouble opening pita pockets without shredding them, microwave one for about 20 seconds, slice off a strip 1" from the widest side, and it'll open right up.

Add feta
Add feta, chopped kalamata olives and tomatoes, makes an even better dip for veggies and pita wedges
Add feta, olives, tomatoes, and chopped grilled chicken breast for a Greek chicken salad-- stuff into pitas with some shredded lettuce and it's an easy lunch to serve.

Quinoa Tabbouli

Mark's bogged down in work this week, so he's asked me to share a few of my recent recipes. Here's one I made Saturday for a cookout. We love Greek and Middle Eastern food, it's so fresh and flavorful and great for summer. And there are interesting vegetarian options.

Tabbouli is a cold grain salad, traditionally made with bulgur, which is cracked wheat berries (the whole grain kernel that is ground down to make wheat flour). Then you add some seasonings, lemon juice and diced raw tomatoes and cucumbers. However, I am not a fan of raw tomatoes, so I decided to use sun-dried instead. Also, I discovered that I was out of bulgur, so I knew I'd have to be creative.

But I did have quinoa, and since I've finally developed a taste for it, decided to use it for this dish. Quinoa is actually a seed, not a grain; it's very high in protein, and a complete protein at that (has all 20 amino acids, if you follow that, including all 8 needed for muscle repair which is helpful if you're exercising a lot). Because it's such a super-food, I've been trying to like it. Other recipes I've tried have been a bit on the bland side, but a few weeks ago I made "Quinoa with Sun-Dried Tomatoes" from the Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook by Tosca Reno and it was really good. So this recipe was sort of a combination of that one, and a traditional tabbouli. This looks really long and complicated, but only because I babbled quite a bit. It was actually very easy.

1 Tbsp olive oil
6-8 sun-dried tomatoes
2-3 cloves garlic
1 c. dried quinoa
2 c. really good chicken or vegetable stock
1 cucumber
1 avocado
Lemon juice, or lime juice, or both
Fresh herbs: I used mint, oregano and chives because that's what we have in our garden right now
Salt and pepper to taste

First: quinoa has a soapy coating that can make it taste bitter, so rinse it well in a mesh sieve lined with a coffee filter for a few minutes, until the water runs clear and the bubbles go away. Quinoa is also an amazing mess to clean up if you spill it all over the floor, or if a toddler finds the bag in the pantry and decides to try to build a sand castle. Just trust me on this. So be careful how you store it. We buy some grains at Wegmans, but prefer to stock up at our local co-op because they carry grains (and many other foods) in bulk there and of course we also like to support our local businesses. If you buy grains in bulk, store them in the freezer for a couple of days at first to make sure any pantry moths or whatever are gone.

Next: Heat oil in a pan on medium. Slice or chop your tomatoes, add to pan, mince or press garlic cloves and add to the tomatoes. Just stir around for 2-3 minutes until it's fragrant. Then add the quinoa and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Grains benefit from toasting in the pan before adding your liquid; either dry-toast or stir-fry in a little oil. It brings out their flavor so they taste kind of nutty and rich. We do this with most of them: steel-cut oats, bulgur, brown rice.

The directions on a bag of grains usually call for water. Always, always use a good stock or broth instead. Even whole-wheat pasta can benefit from a few splashes of broth in the water when you boil it; it improves both flavor and texture. The only time I don't do this is when making a breakfast cereal, when I use half water and half milk.

Back to the quinoa: stir in 2 c. stock, bring to a boil, and let it simmer on low for 15-20 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa seeds have exploded into these neat little UFO-looking spirals. The tomatoes will have cooked and softened by now, too.

Spoon into a shallow bowl, fluff a little, and allow to chill, at least to room temperature, because you won't want to cook the veggies or herbs you'll add. Stir in about 1 Tbsp lemon juice and a splash (capful) of lime juice. Fresh is better but sadly, we don't always have fresh limes and lemons around. If you use fresh ones, add a little of the zest. It's concentrated citrus flavor.

Peel, core, and dice 1 whole cucumber and stir in. Same for the avocado-add this just before you serve. If you're making the dish ahead of time, save this step for last so the avocado doesn't brown, though the citrus juice will help. Avocado isn't a traditional ingredient in tabbouli but it goes really well in this salad. And it's a great source of mono-unsaturated fatty acids so they can help regulate your cholesterol levels, flatten your belly and keep you satisfied longer after meals. Avocados are another super-food. And they're yummy. So don't avoid them just because they have fat.

Chop about 1 Tbsp each of fresh mint, oregano, and chives and add to the quinoa. You can use green onions instead of the chives, or add some flat-leaf parsley. Mint, oregano, and lemon are very Greek flavors and they go really well together in this (or any) dish. Dried herbs aren't going to be the same, but you can use them if you add them earlier-- I'd add them to the broth before you cook the quinoa. Fresh herbs are best added last. Sprinkle a little freshly ground black pepper.

Blend it all together and taste. Add salt if needed, or another splash of lemon juice. I recently read an interview in Clean Eating magazine with a chef who said most recipes benefit from a little acid to finish them off-- vinegar, lemon juice, etc. Since we started doing that, we've noticed a difference in the flavors of our recipes.

Let chill an hour or 2 so the flavors blend; stir again and serve cold. This is a great side dish, or if you add a can of chick peas it's a fine, light, summer meal.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Coffee crusted pork tenderloins with red eye BBQ sauce,

Since I have not cooked in a couple of days I wanted to grab something from the past and keep my momentum.

This one is straight out of one of my favorite cookbooks BBQ USA: 425 Fiery Recipes from All Across America This is another one of those cookbooks I have used many times and it never fails. If you want to look like you know what you are doing around the grill this is the place to start.

First a bit about dry rubs. If I were a better man I would make up 3-4 of my favorite rubs is large quantities and keep them around.  Sadly I am not that man, yet. However I have at least 2-3 rubs I can make off the top of my head that will cover most needs so I guess I will be content with that for the time being.
Many of the more common rubs you find in a store will start with the same base of salt, pepper, brown sugar and paprika. from there you can shift the flavors around to suit the meal you are making. Add some cumin, coriander, cayenne and cinnamon and you have great rub for lamb, add some cardamom pods to that and you have more of an Indian flair. Add some granulated garlic, ginger and some lemon peel and you have a nice rub for fish. Really just go crazy, it's tough to blow a rub. One additional note when you are changing around your flavors to add more heat or more of a different flavor profile don't add more salt until after you have tasted it. Since salt is such a key ingredient in many rubs, if you add more rub to get more heat you wind up with more of everything. You are better off just adding some more cayenne or chilies than adding more of your rub.

On to the recipe.
You can and should make this up the night before. At the very least your pork should sit in the rub 4-12 hours, longer won't hurt. You need
2-3 pork tenderloins
3 Tbsp of fresh ground coffee
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp dark brown sugar (if you only have light that is fine)
2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tbsp canola or other neutral oil

Trim the pork tenderloins and set aside.  For more on trimming pork tenderloins watch this handy video and set aside.

Next mix all the remaining dry ingredients in a bowl and stir together well, you can use a whisk but I like to use my hands (best tool in the kitchen so they say)

Next rub your Rub all over the tenderloins and then drizzle the oil onto them, this will help everything stick. Put the tenderloins in a plastic bag, cake pan or my favorite the Tupperware Season-Serve Marinating Container
Seriously if you don't have one of these you should. I use mine constantly, there are days I wish I had two.

Let it sit over night and pull it from the fridge 1/2  an hour before you are ready to grill so it is not cold going on the hot grill. It will stick less. Rubbing your grill grates with some oil helps too.

Preheat your grill to high then reduce the heat to medium/medium high  cook the tenderloins 3-4 minutes per side (12-16 minutes overall) to an internal temperature of 160. Do we need to have a chat about cooking to temperature rather than time? If you don't have an instant read thermometer at a minimum, then send me a message, I will happily spend the time to convince you to not overcook your food.

Let it rest for for 3-5 minutes then slice and serve.

Trust me on this, the pork itself is absolutely amazing and does not need a sauce as long as you have not cooked it dry. However the Red Eye BBQ sauce recipe below is pure awesome.

1 Tbsp butter
1 slice bacon finely chopped
1/2 medium onion finely chopped
1 clove garlic minced
3/4 cup strongly brewed coffee or espresso
3/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp dijon mustard
2 Tbsp molasses
2 Tbsp brown sugar
kosher salt and pepper

Melt the butter then add the bacon, onion and garlic and saute until slightly brown (3 minutes or so)
Add the coffee, ketchup, Worcestershire, cream, mustard, molasses and brown sugar. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer until it thickens up, about 10 minutes, whisking occasionally. Taste it  and add salt and pepper as needed.

You can serve it fresh or make it up well ahead of time. You best bet is to make it with your breakfast the day before or the day you are going to cook your pork. You already have the coffee and bacon out anyway. ( it does not suck on eggs)

The richness of the sauce and the coffee in both dishes acts as a great bridge for the flavors in both and the sauce really brings the pork up to another level.

This is a beer dish all the way, a good porter or scotch ale would be a winner. A nice pinot noir would also work really well,