Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sage and Garlic Brined Pork Chops

I'm a big proponent of brining poultry. It just works. Ever since I brined my first turkey a few years back I have been sold.  So when I saw this recipe for brined pork chops I had to give it a whirl. The linked recipe is just for the brine, what you do with them from there is up to you.

1 1/2 ounces kosher salt, in 30 ounces of water
1 large shallot, sliced
10 cloves garlic, smashed with the flat side of the knife
1 lemon, halved
1 packed tablespoon sage leaves, fresh
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon black peppercorns, cracked in a mortar with pestle, or on a cutting board with the bottom of a heavy pan
4 pork chops, bone-in, about 8 ounces each
To make the brine:
  1. In a medium saucepan over high heat, combine the salt water, shallot, garlic, lemon, sage, bay leaves, and peppercorns, and bring to a simmer.
  2. Remove from the heat and allow the brine to come to room temperature.
  3. Refrigerate the brine uncovered until cold.
  4. Submerge the pork chops in the brine and refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours.
  5. Remove the chops from the brine, discarding the brine. Rinse the chops and pat dry with paper towels.
Let them sit at room temperature for about 1 hour before you cook them. 

I pan fried mine and made a shallot, butter and white wine sauce to serve over them.

Heat up a frying pan large enough to comfortably fit all of the pork chops

3 Tbsp Butter
Olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 Tbsp shallots chopped
1 Tbsp lemon juice (optional)

Add about a Tbsp of butter and once it melts add enough oil to the pan to have a thin layer covering the bottom of the pan.
Add your chops to the pan and cook 4-5 minutes on the first side. Once the chops are nice and brown flip and cook another 4 minutes or so, to an internal temperature of 145. Pull the chops form the pan and let them rest while you make the sauce. Add the remaining butter to the pan  and once it is melted add the shallots, saute for a minute or 2 then deglaze the pan with the white wine. Bring the sauce to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 4-5 minutes

Taste the sauce after 2-3 minutes and add the lemon juice if desired. I thought the butter was a bit too rich so I added the lemon to cut it a bit.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Welcome Inn

I have not really done much in the way of restaurant reviews previously, but I'm in a bit of a cooking rut. I tend to limit myself to blogging only new things that I make and sometimes I don't do a whole lot of new stuff.  I did make a very quick chicken "curry" in the crockpot by using a jar of salsa, some chicken stock and curry powder as a way to turn some chicken thighs into a tasty dinner.

However that is not what I am here to talk about tonight. Tonight I want to talk about a recent trip to the Welcome Inn here in Syracuse. This review gives you some great insight into the history of the chef and the building.

A friend and I went with the kids for lunch and had a wide variety of offerings, and all of them were good. The adults each got the Ukranian platter, which gives you 2-3 different pierogies, kielbasa, kraut, holubchi and a cup of borscht. The Kraut pierogies in particular were just delicious. The kids got fish, a corned beef sandwich, kielbasa and a grilled cheese.

 I grew up in a household that never had any form of stuffed cabbage. My dad would serve my brother and I kraut when we had a boys night but stuffed cabbage was never an option. With a mom who cooked like my mother I never wanted for much, but she had a co-worker who made holubchi that I adored. Anytime there was an office party I either wanted to be there or have some brought home to me. (Thanks Frannie)
The version at the welcome inn was delicious; rich and hearty with just enough tomato sauce to keep it moist but not so much that it was drowning.

The unsung hero of the menu that we tried was the house made corned beef. The seasonings of were much more forward than your traditional store bought corned beef. The pastrami is also supposed to be incredible but we didn't try it.

They have very limited seating and hours of operation, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, closed Saturday and Sunday, so plan accordingly. They also don't take credit cards.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Italian Meatloaf (polpettona ripiena)

As soon as I saw this recipe I knew I had to make it. It reminded me of scotch eggs in a way and that is a good thing in my book. There is something about the way that sausage gets nice and crispy that I just love.

(this is Marios version)

I followed the recipe pretty closely, though I only made 1/2 recipe. Two lbs of meat total instead of four seemed just fine for my household. I also could not find the cheese he mentions, I used a soft provolone instead but I'm sure any semi soft cheese would work just fine. I wouldn't go with anything too sharp otherwise you might overwhelm the vegetables. I blanched the carrots as directed but didn't bother blanching the spinach or the scallions. All of those extra steps for the spinach just seemed like too much work.

One tip I would recommend, that made it much easier to work with, is lining your work surface with wax paper. Spread the flour and breadcrumb mixture on the paper and then when it's time to roll you can use the wax paper as a tool to help you get a nice tight wrapping. Otherwise I think it would be very hard to wrap up without tearing it over and over again.

I also didn't make the sauce, I used my stoneware pan and when I looked at what was left in the pan and it was mostly fat. It did not seem like it was going to make an appetizing sauce at all. I may not have used enough water in the pan, I didn't measure.

All in all this is a really delicious recipe that is a fun change from regular meatloaf and it looks really impressive as well.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Asian Glazed Drumsticks with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Cider Reduction

This is another recipe from Skinny Taste (her photo is much more appetizing than mine!); I'd made it before with boneless chicken breasts and thighs, and we really liked it. The flavor was excellent and they're very easy. But since Mark and our daughter are both huge fans of "chicken on the bone" I decided to do them a favor and make the recipe the real way. It was very good. :) Go here for the original recipe. My only change was letting the sauce reduce a bit too much and I'd planned on having sauce for the side, so I needed to add more volume. I plated the chicken, then deglazed the pan with some apple cider and let it reduce. We sprinkled the chicken with the last of the fresh chives from our herb garden and a Tbsp of toasted sesame seeds.

Meanwhile, I cut the bases off a half pound of Brussels sprouts, cut them in half, and removed the outer leaves. Washed, then tossed on a pan with olive oil, salt, pepper, and 3-4 crushed garlic cloves. I roasted them at 400 for about 30 minutes, stirring halfway through. The cider glaze went really well with these and they made quite a satisfying side. Both kids ate the chicken (with the skin removed; the Sriracha sauce adds enough spice that they would notice).

Published with Blogger-droid v1.7.4

Monday, November 7, 2011

Maple Mustard Pork Chops with Maple Mustard BBQ Sauce

Maple and Mustard, sweet and tangy, they go together well.
I have used the BBQ sauce for other dishes in the past most notably my savory rosemary waffles. It is a versatile sauce that could be used with many things. These pork are where I first discovered them.

This is yet another recipe from BBQ USA that I absolutely love.

I made it most recently with some incredible pork chops from Stones Throw Farm

For the pork you will need

4 Pork chops (1/2 - 3/4 inch thick)
kosher salt
black pepper
3 Tbsp mustard powder
3 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1/2 Cup maple syrup (Grade B or Dark is best)
3 Tbsp vegetable oil.

Put the chops in a baking dish and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle on the mustard powder, about 1 tsp per side. Rub the dry ingredients into the pork with your fingers, then drizzle on the soy sauce and work it into the pork until it forms a paste. Whisk together the oil and maple syrup and then pour it over the pork, turning to coat. Let the pork marinate for at least 30 minutes, longer is fine. Grill the pork chops over medium heat, you don't want to have the grill too hot otherwise the maple syrup will burn.
Grill the pork 6-7 minutes per side until it reaches an internal temperature of 165. Let th epork rest for 5 minutes and served with the maple mustard BBQ Sauce

You will need

1 Tbsp Butter
2 slices bacon cut into 1/4 inch slivers (replaced with pancetta today)
1 small onion finely chopped ( about 3/4 cup)
1 clove garlic minced
1 Tbsp tomato paste 
3/4 cup maple syrup (grade b if you can find it)
6 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
kosher salt and black pepper to taste.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the onion garlic and bacon. Saute until the bacon is crispy then add the tomato paste. Stir for a minute or two then add the mustard, syrup and vinegar. Bring to a boil then reduce hit to low and simmer 10- 12 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste. You can serve it hot or at room temp

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Best Broccoli You Will Ever Eat

I have lately become addicted to Pinterest. If you're not on Pinterest yet, it's a virtual pinboard for everything interesting on the Internet. You can see how it could become a major timesuck. Crafts, kids' activity ideas, fashion how-tos, decor, and of course recipes all pop up and you can pin them to various boards so you can view them later all in one location, rather than sorting through infinite bookmarks.

So this recipe popped up the other day and I had to try it, as I had fresh broccoli in the fridge. And, that was a mighty bold statement that I thought required a challenge. It. Was. Delicious. And so easy! It's nice to be able to throw it in the oven so you can focus on other aspects of your meal. My tips: stir at least once partway through cooking. The kids thought it was a little too lemony I think but Mark and I loved it.

Rather than repost, here you go:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Spice Crusted Salmon Fillets with Curried Beets

Its beet season and that is a happy time of year for me. I love beets, I'm sure I have mentioned that before but it bears repeating. There is something about the earthy sweetness of a roasted beet that just sings fall to me. Because of their strong flavor they also handle other strong flavors really well so they make a great canvas for spice. I put salmon into that same category, as a fish it has a strong distinct flavor that works really well with bold flavors. I started roasting the beets well ahead of time for this dish so plan on at least an hour of cook time.

You will need

For the Beets:
3-4 large beets
olive oil
curry powder

For the Salmon:
2 (or more salmon fillets)
olive oil
Dinosaur BBQ  All Purpose Red Rub*

Optional Ingredients
Cumin Seeds
Cardamom pods

Vegetable oil for cooking

Preheat your oven to 350
Peel and slice the beets into roughly 1/4 inch think slices. I cut mine in half so you should have 1/2 moon shaped slices. Put the sliced beets onto a glass baking dish, drizzle on some olive oil and toss to coat.  Sprinkle on some kosher salt (2 tsps maybe) some fresh black pepper and a couple of tsp of your favorite curry powder. Toss again to coat and place them in the over for about an hour. They should be cooked through but still have a firm bite in the middle.

When you have about 10 minutes of cook time left on the beets its time to handle your salmon. I used skin on fillets but you can easily use skinless ones. Rub some olive oil on the fish to coat and rub both sides with your red rub to form a nice coat (only one side if you have skin on fillets, it won't penetrate the skin)

Heat some vegetable oil (not olive oil its smoke point is too low) in a heavy deep frying pan, your oil should be about 1/8 to 1/4 inch deep. If you want, you can add some cumin seeds and cardamom pods to the oil as it heats to flavor the oil. I added them to pick up on the flavors of the curry on the beets.

When the oil is very hot, just before it smokes, add the salmon skin side down if you have skin on, otherwise it won't matter. Cook for 2-3 minutes on the first side, you should see the fish changing color as it cooks. When it is cooked through to a depth of about 1/4 inch its time to flip. Flip the fish over to the other side and cook another 3-4 minutes. The outside edges should appear to be uniform in color. Don't go to long or the salmon will dry out quickly. Remove the cooked fish to a plate to rest for a couple minutes then place it on a pile of your cooked beets.

Serve with a nice green salad or some wilted greens and you have a delicious complete meal.

The Dinosaur red rub is a staple for me, I use it on all kinds of things from beef, to pork, to chicken to fish. Make up a big batch and store in an airtight container, it keeps for a long time.

1/2 cup paprika
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated garlic
6 Tbsp granulated onion
1/4 cup chili powder
1 Tbsp black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne

Mix it all together well and rub it on anything.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Pan Seared Scallops with Tomato Chutney

Volumes have been written on the correct way to pan sear a scallop.My method is pretty much identical to that way Alton Brown does his. Pat dry your scallops sprinkle with some flour ( I use wegmans pan searing flour, it has a very fine texture) salt and pepper. Heat a few tablespoons of butter and olive oil in a non stick pan until it is almost brown, turn down the heat a bit and add your scallops a few at a time, you don't want to crowd them. Cook for about 2 minutes then flip and cook for another 2 minutes, they should be golden brown on both sides.

The tomato chutney was a spur of the moment idea. I Actually set out to find a tomato marmalade recipe to go with the scallops so I grabbed  Mark Bittmans How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. I found the chutney recipe and thought it would be perfect. You are going to need

1/4 unsalted peanuts (I used a mix of cashews and almonds)
3 Tbsp butter or peanut oil
2 tsp black mustard seeds ( I used regular mustard seeds)
6 whole cloves
3 dried thai or other hot chilis (I used one dried thai dragon pepper)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 large red onion chopped
2 large tomatoes chopped
3 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp curry powder
kosher salt

Put the peanuts, butter, mustard seeds, cloves and chilis into a heavy frying pan over medium heat. Cook stirring often for 2-3 minutes until the spices are fragrant, add the cumin and cook for another 2 minutes until the nuts start to brown.

Add the chopped onions and pinch of salt and stir until the onion softens then add the tomatoes, tomato paste and curry powder. Stir and continue cooking for about 5 minutes. Taste and add more seasonings if necessary. I added more curry powder. He recommends letting cool to room temperature for serving, I served it warm over scallops fresh from the pan and it was delicious. Not too overpowering for the scallops and the crunch of the nuts added some great texture to a dish that would have been just soft.

Santa Maria Beans

This twist on baked beans was a nice break from the traditional baked beans and they have a lot of flavors that work well with the meat and bread.

For the beans
1 lb dried pinquito or small kidney beans
1 Tbsp butter
2 slices bacon
2 ounces chopped ham
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp fresh cilantro
3/4 cup tomato puree
1/4 cup chili sauce
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
salt and pepper

Soak the beans overnight in water.

Drain the soaked beans in a colander and add them to a bot, cover with enough water to cover the beans by about 4 inches. Bring the water to a boil over high heat and reduce the heat to medium low, skim any of thr white foam that comes to the top. Simmer the beans for 1.5 to 2 hours until tender. When the beans are cooked, pour off all  but 1.5 cups of the cooking liquid.

Melt the butter in a pan and cook the bacon and ham in it, cook for about 5 minutes.Add the onion, garlic and cilantro and cook until the onion is soft. Add the tomato, chili sauce, brown sugar, mustard powder, cumin, oregano and 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp of black pepper. Continue to cook and stir for 10-12 minutes until the sauce is rich and the raw tomato taste has cooked out.

Stir the tomato mixture into the beans and simmer for about 15 minutes, adding the reserved cooking liquid as needed to keep the beans from drying out. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Whole Lot of Braisin going on

In the quest for new recipes I went to the trove of cookbooks on the shelf in my kitchen. Even with so many recipes available on the internet I still love paging through cookbooks and finding something new to try. Michael Symon's Live to Cook is one of my favorites, it reads almost like a novel to me. As I'm flipping through I land on his recipe for Braised Rabbit Thighs

I ran to the freezer to get out my package of rabbit thighs and then remembered I don't have a big package of rabbit thighs. Chicken thighs would have to do. The recipe has them as an optional replacement.

The original recipe was Braised Rabbit Thighs with Olives and Orange.

Mine wound up as
Cider Braised Chicken Thighs with Olives.

6 bone-in rabbit thighs or chicken thighs (about 1.5 pounds)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp Montreal seasoning
1/2 cup all purpose flour1/4 cup olive oil, or more as needed
1 small red onion, halved and sliced
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 serrano chili, seeded and sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup apple cider
1.5 cups chicken stock
12 black oil-cured olives, pitted and chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Chop the onion garlic and chili pepper and set aside.
Add the olive oil to a pan large enough to hold all the thighs, or just plan to brown them in batches. Heat the oil to medium high.

In a bowl or deep plate mix the flour and the Montreal seasoning and dredge the chicken in the flour and seasoning mix. Brown the thighs on both sides for 2-3 minutes per side. Remove to a plate. Add your onion garlic and chile to the pan and saute for 4-5 minutes, add the cider, wine and chicken stock to deglaze the pan. Once the liquid is at a simmer add the chicken thighs back in. At this point you can put the pan right in the oven (assuming its oven safe) for about 3 hours at 225. Or you can do what I did and put it in the crock pot on low for about 4 hours.

When the chicken is fully cooked and tender remove the chicken from your cooking vessel and set aside, pour the liquid into a pot and bring it up to a simmer (do this right in your oven safe dish if you did it in the oven) Simmer for 10 minutes or so to let it reduce, then add in your olives and chopped fresh parsley. Add the chicken back to the liquid and serve it up.

Now a dish like this would be great served over a bed of rice or pasta, however, since we are trying to avoid those foods at the moment I had to come up with some kind of a nest for this delicious chicken and sauce.

Braised leeks were the perfect choice. Leeks are one of my favorite onion variants, they are fresh and plentiful this time of year. I first encountered braised leeks a few years back and try to fit them in wherever I can. They are really really simple and when they are cooked this way they get very soft and have an almost pasta like texture. I would never try to tell you that it is just like pasta or any such ridiculous notion, they are however, delicious in there own fashion while providing the textural element and the solid base for a dish with a lot of liquid. You will need:

3 large leeks
3-4 Tbsp butter
1-2 Tbsp Olive oil
1 cup (or less) chicken stock
salt and pepper

Trim the root ends form your leeks and cut them off about an inch into the green part, you want to use mostly the whiter portions for this application. Save the tops they make great soup stock material. Cut the leeks in half and look at them closely, leeks can often contain a lot of grit, soaking them in a sink full of water for 5-10 minutes after you cut them in half will help remove any grit.  Once they look clean, cut them lengthwise into strips about 1/4 inch wide. A little wider is no problem but you don't want them to be any more than 1/2 inch wide otherwise your cook time might be longer.

Heat the butter and olive oil up in a pan that has a good tight lid. Put the heat to medium and add the sliced leeks. Cook them for 4-5 minutes until they just start to brown a bit and get soft. Add the chicken stock and sprinkle with some salt and pepper, reduce the heat to low cover and cook for 10-12 minutes. When time is up remove the lid, and if necessary turn the heat up a bit and stir until the liquid is almost fully gone. Twist them up with a serving fork and set a nest of leeks on a plate for service.

I would eat these as a side unto themselves, the soft, buttery, oniony almost sweet flavor is a great accompaniment to any dish but as a pasta replacement it worked admirably and really added its own character to the dish as a whole.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Sandwich is a Sandwich but this is a Meal

I have not come up with a good name for this dish yet so any ideas would be appreciated. The idea was to replicate a lot of the flavor of a Cuban sandwich without the sandwich portion. Kerrie and I are trying some variation of the primal diet so a straight up Cuban wasn't really an option. Neither is roasting a pork shoulder on a Wednesday. We had some pork tenderloins thawed and ready to roll so they became the base. Add some ham, Swiss mustard and pickles on off you go. I marinated the pork for a few hours and then seared it on the grill. Then I sliced it on an angle to get bigger pieces than your standard pork tenderloin medallion.       
Once that was done I brushed on some mustard  and laid some pickles on top of each slice. Topped off with some ham and Swiss and its off to the oven.                                                                                                                                              

For the Pork
2 Pork Tenderloins
olive oil
lime juice
Adobo with cumin 

For the Rest 
6-8 slices of ham
6-8 slices of swiss cheese
sliced dill pickles

Do this at least an hour ahead
Rinse and pat the pork dry, rub it with some olive oil and then rub with adobo. Put the pork tenderloins in a bag and then pour in a shot or two of tequila and a shot or two of lime juice. Let the pork rest in the fridge for at least an hour.

When your pork is ready, preheat your grill to medium high. Brown the pork on all sides, 3-4 minutes per side should be enough. Preheat your oven to 375. Once the pork is nicely browned remove the it from the grill and let it rest for a few minutes before slicing on a bias and laying it in a pan.

Brush it with the mustard of your choice, I use plain ole yellow mustard as that is what I prefer on my Cuban sandwiches.Lay a few pickles on each piece and then layer on the ham and cheese. I recommend slicing the ham and cheese to approximately the same size as your pork. 

Bake it in the oven for 20 minutes or so, longer if the pork is not cooked through.  On this first attempt I don't think I grilled the pork long enough as it took longer to bake than I wanted. If you look at the picture I would recommend you have your pork cooked through a little more than I did to reduce baking time. Do not cook it all the way through on the grill otherwise it will dry out in the oven

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fresh Pappardelle With Swiss Chard, Onions, and Goat Cheese

This recipe was included on one of our CSA newsletters and has been sitting on the fridge ever since. It sounded good but just never came up. Until today, that is. Kerrie bought some goat cheese for another recipe so we had all of the ingredients on hand, which is always a good thing.

The original recipe is from Real Simple , the CSA variant used garlic scapes instead of the garlic cloves in the orginal. Since garlic scape season is over we used cloves tonight. I also chopped up a tomato and added it with the swiss chard for some extra color. Roasted red peppers would be an excellent addition as well.

I decided I had to make fresh pasta to go with it. Kerrie is typically the pasta maker in the house, outside of the occasional roux and a couple of my family's bread recipes, if it has flour in it, then it's her realm. Today I took a crack at it and was really pleased. I used the basic egg pasta recipe in  The Best Ever Pasta Cookbook: 200 Step-By-Step Pasta Recipes.

For a large batch (enough to serve 6-8 people) you need
2.5 cups of flour
4 eggs
pinch of salt

Make a well with the flour and crack your eggs into the middle. Using a fork slowly pull flour from the well into the eggs and mix. Once the mixture starts to form a dough, use your hands to mix it the rest of the way, incorporating more flour until it is no longer too sticky to handle. Set your dough ball aside and scrap up your work surface to be sure you have no dough residue, then add a coating of flour and knead the dough for about 10 minutes, pushing the ball away from you with the palm of your hand, scoop it up, turn it and push again, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Or you can take the dough ball and add it to your mixer with a dough hook attachment. You could do the whole thing in your mixer if you are so inclined but I do like working with my hands. Once it is all kneaded you can begin turning it into the noodles of your choice. I used the pasta roller attachment for our Kitchenaid, which is an awesome machine. You could certainly roll it by hand if you wanted to. Be sure to dust the rollers and the surface of the dough with flour before each pass; if the dough is breaking up, chances are it's too moist and is sticking (though your first inclination may be that it's too dry, so try dusting with flour first).

A dish like this suites the big fat ribbons of pappardelle perfectly, they get nicely coated  and really hold onto the delicious cheesy sauce. We used white whole wheat flour for the pasta.

Once your pasta is ready you can put it all together



  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water; drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the chard and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook, tossing frequently, until tender, 3 to 5 minutes more.
  3. Add the chard mixture, 3 ounces of the goat cheese, ¾ cup of the reserved cooking water, and ½ teaspoon salt to the pasta and toss until the goat cheese melts and coats the pasta (add more cooking water if the pasta seems dry). Serve sprinkled with the remaining ounce of goat cheese.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sauteed Mustard Green "Sandwiches"

One of the many many things I love about being a part of a CSA is the continual challenge to use vegetables that I might not go out and pick up on my own. Cooking greens are one of the many products that have a much greater variety and usability than I ever thought

The basic recipe is here and it is originally from the Moosewood Restaurant New Classics 

I found the directions a bit unclear and, me being me I had to pork it up a bit
The sandwich Pre-Broiler

You will need
4 cups of mustard greens, rinsed and dried
2 cloves garlic, finely minced ( I used 2 whole garlic scapes)
2 Slices chopped bacon ( I used English bacon when  I made these which is more like ham or back bacon, pancetta would be great)
2 cups grated Gouda ( the recipe calls for smoked Gouda, which doesn't melt very well so I used a really nice goats milk Gouda I picked up at the market, any strongly flavored cheese would work)
4 Slices pumpernickel bread
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Turn on your broiler. Heat a couple Tbsp of olive oil in a large pan and cook your pork product of choice until it is crispy. Add your Garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes until it is soft and lightly browned. Meanwhile chop your mustard greens and grate your cheese. Once your bacon is rendered down and crispy add your mustard greens and saute for 4-5 minutes. While the greens are cooking, lightly toast your bread. Lay the bread down on a cookie sheet, top with the cooked greens and cover with the shredded cheese. Put the sandwiches under the broiler and cook for 2-3 minutes until the cheese gets brown and bubbly.

The sharp peppery flavor of the mustard greens is really softened by cooking, and the salty smokiness of the bacon really works well with the nice crispy cheese. You could very easily use the small hors d'oeuvres pumpernickel squares and turn this into a really delicious appetizer

This would be great with a nice dry Riesling.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Foil Pouch Cod with Swiss Chard

I made a variation of this over the weekend and it was so good I wanted to try again. Cooking in a foil pouch allows you to do this equally well on the grill (as I did) or in an oven. Cod is a great fish for this method as it handles the heat very well and if you happen to over cook it a bit it still remains quite moist.

You will need

One large cod filet, about an inch to 1.5 inches thick
Half a bunch of  swiss chard
4-5 cloves of garlic
1 small onion
2 stems of tarragon ( I used rosemary the first time it works great)
olive oil

Lay out a double layer of foil. Slice the onion and garlic and lay them down on the foil in a pile. Add your sprigs of fresh herb. Roughly chop the swiss chard and mound it up in a pile about as long as your fish. A couple inches tall should be perfect. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle on kosher salt and pepper. Lay the fish on the top of the pile, sprinkle on some salt and pepper and a bit more olive oil. Seal the foil tightly and cook on a medium grill or in the oven at 400 for about 10-12 minutes.
The fish should be just starting to flak and the chard should be fully wilted.

I really like the Tarragon this time around as it perfumed and lightly flavored the fish with its delicious licoricey goodness. However if you are really averse to it then go ahead and use some rosemary in its place.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pan Seared Mahi Mahi with Garlicky Kale

To call this pan seared is a bit of a misnomer because it also poaches/steams a bit which I think keeps it extra moist. It's CSA season again and that means its time to amp up the vegetables in our diets. Last weeks pickup included garlic scapes, red russian kale, salad greens, snap peas, radishes and tarragon. All of which hit the table tonight.

For the greens:

About 1/2 lb of washed chopped kale (The red russian kale is more tender than most of the heartier kale you see in stores so if you need a replacement go for spinach or swiss chard.)
5-6 garlic scapes (garlic scapes are really mild and are tough to directly replace, however a couple cloves of garlic will work)
Olive oil
White wine vinegar

Heat up some olive oil on medium low, finely chop up the garlic scapes and add them to the oil. Sprinkle with some kosher salt and saute the scapes until they are soft but not browned.
Add your chopped kale and turn up the heat to medium, saute until the greens are wilted and then add a splash of vinegar and more salt and pepper to taste. Mound them up on a plate to recive your fish.

We almost always have frozen mahi mahi, salmon and tuna in the freezer. As much as I love fresh fish, sometimes it is hard to meal plan for it.  One of the things I like about the frozen fish is that thawing and marinating can happen at the same time.

For the Fish

Mahi Mahi fillets (2 or more)
12-14 tarragon leaves
Rice wine vinegar
Olive oil

Put the (frozen)fish in a ziploc bag, chop the tarragon and add it to the bag. Add 2-3 Tbsp of vinegar and olive oil, a sprinkling of kosher salt and about a tsp of honey. You want enough marinade to fully coat the fish and leave 1/4 to 1/2 inch on the bottom oof the bag surrounding the fish. If you remember to do this in time you can do this in the am and thaw in the fridge all day. If you don't remember to do this until later, you can put the whole bag into a bowl and run cold water over it for a while, leave the water running, the movement will it help it thaw faster.
Once your fish is thawed heat up a pan with some olive oil until the oil is nice and hot. Add the filets to the hot pan and cook for a couple minutes, then flip and cook on the other side. After a minute or two reduce the heat and add the remaining marinade to the pan and cover it for 2-4 mintues until the fish is cooked through but not flaking.
Remove the fish and turn up the heat to reduce the remaining marinade, add about 1 Tbsp of butter and stir until it is melted. Then pour over the fish and a bed of garlicky kale.

We served it with a nice green salad with greens, radishes and snap peas from the CSA and all was right with the world. Or at least with dinner.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Santa Maria Tri Tip with Salsa

In planning for our Memorial Day BBQ I  wanted a large slab of meat type dish rather than individual portions, somehow I got tri tip into my mind. Tri tip is not a very popular cut in the Northeast and we are missing out.Thankfully I was able to order it from a local meat store. I have only had it a few times and it is consistently amazing. Enter Santa Maria Tri Tip with salsa. I served it with the recommended Santa Maria beans and grilled garlic bread, which was outstanding.

Soak some wood chips the night before, tradition says red oak, good luck finding it around here, I went with apple wood.
You only need to rub the tri tip down a few hours ahead of time and it only needs to grill for 1/2 hour or so. Since it is truly a steak it is best served medium to medium rare rather than something like a brisket that needs to slow cook a long time. I had two smaller tri tips rather than one large one so I doubled the recipe

For the Rub
4 tsp Kosher Salt
4 tsp Black Pepper
4 tsp Garlic Powder
4 tsp Dried Rosemary
2 tsp Dried Oregano

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl then rub into the meat, let the meat set for at least an hour but longer is fine.  The book recommends using a two zone fire for cooking, simply put you have your grill set up to be medium-high in one half and just under medium on the other, so if the outside is getting too done you can flip the meat to the cooler side. For charcoal (which is what I did) you can accomplish the same thing by having a double layer of coals on one side and single on the other.   Add your pre-soaked wood chips right before cooking. Cook for about 15 minutes per side or until the meat reaches an internal temp of about 135-140 then pull it off and let it rest for at least 5 minutes, 10 may be better. Slice it thin and lay it on a platter. Serve with grilled garlic bread.

For the Bread
Two Loaves of crusty Italian Bread
One stick butter
4 cloves garlic, chopped
handful of chopped fresh parsley

Melt the butter over medium heat and add the chopped garlic. You want to heat the butter until it bubbles then lower the temperature and let it cook for 10 minutes or so this will infuse the butter with garlic.
When the garlic butter is ready brush it onto one side of the bread. Lay the bread on the hot grill butter side down, watch it very very carefully as it will go from raw to cinder very quickly if you aren't careful. Flip to the other side for just a moment to toast it up a bit then sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve. On the plate, the bread soaks up the juices form the meat and the salsa, it is fantastic.  I may have just dropped a piece onto the meat platter, accidentally, and allowed it to soak up the juice. Accidentally of course.

For The Salsa
6 Tomatoes
4 Ribs Celery
6 Scallions
2 Jalapenos
1/2 Cup chopped Cilantro
4 Tbsp Lime Juice
2 Tbsp White vinegar
2 tsp Worcestershire
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp hot sauce
black pepper

I also doubled the salsa recipe as I wanted to have some hot and some mild. So I used 1/2  of a jalapeno in on batch and 1.5 jalapenos in the other.  I mixed up the whole batch, split it in half  then added the remaining jalapeno. The salsa gets served right on the meat if you are so inclined.

Add in the beans and a green salad and you have a complete meal.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sliced Strawberries with Red Wine

This is a simple delicious way to spruce up strawberries. Inspired by many of the recipes for strawberries with balsamic and black pepper I made a simple change tonight that was just delicious. Since I knew the grownups would be the only ones to eat them I made a small batch, only 6 or so large strawberries sliced.
I replaced the vinegar with a few splashes of some leftover red wine from last week. I know I know, leftover red wine is a crime but my wife and her friends failed me.

Anyway, I splashed some red wine over the berries and tossed them around, them I added a few grinds of fresh black pepper. In the time it took me to grill some tuna and eat it, the wine and black pepper had really soaked in nicely.I didn't add any sugar, well becuase I don't like sugar and berries are sweet enough for me.
I know it may sound odd but you should try it.

Herb "Crusted" Tuna Steaks

I am a big fan of Mark Bittman we have two of his cookbooks that I really rely on at times.
How to Cook Everything and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
They are both packed full of recipes that are simple and easy to use. No no one will ever mistake me for a vegetarian but we try to eat vegetarian meals a couple nights a week and it is a great cookbook to have for more inspired vegetarian dishes.

His new show on the cooking channel is one of my favorites. I have made a couple of recipes from it. His Pork Pernil which was outstanding and now tonight his grilled herb and olive tuna steaks.

The Tuna was a perfect weeknight meal. About 15 minutes from beginning to yummy. We used a mix of parsley, basil and chives for the herbs. Since we could not find oil cured olives tonight ( for shame Wegmans) we used regular brined olives and mixed in a bit of olive oil.

The residual heat of the tuna is enough to take some of the raw flavor out of the herbs but they still tasted nice and fresh and light. Exactly what I was after. We served the tuna with some steamed broccoli and a favorite preparation of strawberries.

(picture credited to the cooking channel website, I failed to take one. My tuna looked just like this)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Grilled Red Snapper With Garlic Sriracha Sauce

Some friends and I went to the farmers market with the intention of buying crabs for a crab boil, and wouldn't you know they had none. So we moved on to plan b, buy some tasty seafood and cook it. We wound up with a couple pounds of scallops and a beautiful whole red snapper. The scallops we wound of cooking in kind of a scampi style. I lined a grilling pan with some foil, added some canola oil, butter and chopped garlic and cooked the scallops. Meanwhile on the side burner some of the other guys made up a  sauce with white wine, butter and garlic for drizzling on the cooked cooked scallops (and the steak which was also tasty)

 Back to the snapper.

I really didn't know what I wanted to do with it but as we decided at the market, I was in charge since neither of the other guys had cooked whole fish before. I did a bit of searching and found this recipe from a blog called Cook and Be Merry, which looks fantastic. I didn't have all of the ingredients on hand but I figured I could make do and use it as a framework for my own variation. I really just winged it with measurements but I will approximate.

4 Cloves finely chopped or pressed garlic
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp Sriracha (You can use less but I wouldn't recommend it)
2 Tbsp Black Bean Garlic Paste

2 tsp Fish Sauce
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 Tbsp Lime Juice
1 Tbsp Lemon juice

And my secret ingredient because I don't actually have sweet Thai chili sauce around for no good reason whatsoever .
3 packets of duck sauce form Chinese take out.

I mixed it all up in my 2nd favorite piece of tupperware and brought  it along to the party.

From there I followed the original recipe for cooking it.  I definitely recommend using a fish/vegetable grill basket for cooking. Make several deep slashes in both sides of the fish and rub your sauce into it well.  
Once your grill basket is nice and hot lay the fish in it and brush the exposed side with sauce. Let it go for 4-5 minutes then flip and baste. You will want to flip it a few times to ensure even saucing and cooking. About 20 minutes of cook time.  It was delicious. There was really only enough fish for everyone to have a few forkfuls but I will certainly do this one again.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Butterflied Leg of Lamb on the Grill

This is one of my favorite ways to cook lamb, while the prep time (mostly marinating) is long the cook time is fast. Most recipes for a leg of lamb will go down the slow and low road of roasting, braising or stewing, all of which are delicious. However when you don't want to cook all day this is a great alternative. The recipe is very very simple, the challenge is in the butterflying technique. If you can find an already boneless leg of lamb it is much easier but sometimes it's fun and cheaper to work with a bone in or semi boneless leg as well. The key is to try to get it as even as you can so it cooks evenly. You will want to prep this recipe at least a day ahead.
1 butterflied leg of lamb
8-10 Cloves of garlic
4-5 sprigs of rosemary
olive oil
salt 1 Tbsp
pepper 2 tsp

Chop the rosemary and garlic and add them to a mixing bowl, add enough olive oil to make it into a paste then add salt and pepper to taste.
Rub the lamb all over on one side with the rosemary and garlic mixture, then fold it in half and rub the remaining surfaces. Place the meat in a gallon zip lock bag or of course your Tupperware marinator.

Let it sit overnight and then cook on a medium hot grill for about 12-15 minutes on one side then flip and cook 8-10 minutes on the other side. Let it rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Couscous Pancakes

Ever wonder what to do with leftover couscous? (say that in your head like Andy Rooney) I do, all the time. I love making couscous as fast simple side to go along with any old piece of protein. The Near East plain boxed stuff is a staple in my house though we will often buy it in bulk as well. My preference is to saute a couple of chopped cloves of garlic in the requisite amount of olive oil on the box then add the liquid and cook as directed.
Every cup of couscous needs two cups of liquid. You can use water but I prefer to use chicken stock.

Regardless of how you cook your couscous, if your house is like my house there is always a bunch left. It does reheat OK in the microwave but it just loses something.

In my brain I was looking at this plastic tub of cold couscous to go along with some tasty miso and riesling marinated salmon and I thought I might try to replicate fried rice with couscous. When I realized that would mean also chopping an onion, finding some frozen veggies which seemed like more work than I could muster in the 10 minutes or so I had to spare.

Enter the pancake.
I took my leftover couscous (about two cups of cooked couscous)  and tossed it into a bowl with some garlic powder, salt, pepper and some thyme. I added two eggs and mixed it up until it had kind of a soft almost batter like texture. I  preheated my oven to broil and heated up a 8 inch skillet with a good amount of oil. Once the pan was really hot I  added my mixture, once it started to set up and brown on the bottom I tossed it into broiler to finish.

While the cake itself was kind of dry the sauce I made with the salmon soaked into it nicely and it was a great bed for the fish.

You could season these to go along with whatever style of food you are cooking so they are pretty darn versatile.


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Black Beans and Rice

I made a huge batch of black beans and rice to go along with the Cuban pig I roasted for my brothers 40th birthday. I will post the pig recipe at some point but the black beans and rice were really a hit. These recipes are taken from the Dinosaur BBQ Cookbook, I have never made a bad recipe out of it. If you have never eaten at a Dinosaur you are missing out, I assure you.


The Beans
2 cups dried black beans
8 cups water
1/2 large onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp  salt
black pepper

The Sofrito
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green pepper
3 cloves garlic chopped
salt and pepper

The Finish
2 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp oregano
1 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp brown sugar
4 tsp red wine vinegar
Tabasco Sauce
1/4  cup dry sherry

Wash and sort the beans, add 2 cups of the water, the onions, peppers, garlic, bay, olive oil, salt and pepper. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Cover the pan with the lid cracked a bit and turn down the heat. Simmer for 2 to 2.5 hours, adding the water 1 cup at a time as it is absorbed.

After the beans have cooked about an hour and 1/2 make the sofrito. Heat the oil in a small saucepan and then add the remaining ingredients. Cook until the vegetable are soft. Set the sofrito aside.

Mix up all the dry ingredients for the finish ahead of time as well.

Once the beans are done and are swimming in a delicious rich black gravy, add the sofrito and remove the bay leaf. Then mix in all the ingredients for the finish. Serve over a batch of "Perfect Rice"

Perfect Rice
2 cups water
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup long grain rice

Combine the water, olive oil, salt and garlic in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile put the rice in a sieve and rinse it under cold water until the water runs clear. Add the rice to the boiling water, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Cook a few minutes longer if it seems to moist then fluff with a fork.

Excellent stuff.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Irish Car Bomb Cheesecake

I make no claim on this recipe. My friend Kris posted a mention of it a year or so ago and this year for St. Patrick's day I had to make it. I have the original recipe posted below. Kerrie does not like Baileys at all so I had to alter things. I did not use any baileys in the filling, I used all cream. To replace the baileys and keep to the title I made a baileys whipped cream, however I used much more than the 2 Tbsp of baileys that the recipe called for. I had some fans in the house so I kept adding more until they thought it tasted like baileys.

* The Irish Car Bomb Cheesecake*

*Guinness Brownie Crust*

1 box Brownie Mix

1 egg


Prepare brownie batter as directed on the box of whatever mix you use, but replace the water with Guinness
Extra Stout and add an extra egg. Mix well and pour enough to make a 1/2 inch crust into a greased Spring form pan. Bake as directed until done (toothpick test).

*Irish Cream Cheesecake filling*

NOTE: Bring all items to room temp first!

4 bricks Cream Cheese

1 2/3 c Sugar (less to taste, I likely used about a cup)

2 Eggs

1/2 c Cornstarch

1 tbsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 c Heavy Cream

1/4 c Bailey's Irish Cream

First, get your oven ready. Lower rack to middle of the oven. Preheat oven
to 350.
Place one brick of cream cheese in a mixer with cornstarch and 1/3
of the sugar. Mix on low until smooth and no lumps. Scrape down sides of
bowl and add another brick of cream cheese, and repeat until all cheese has
been mixed well and there are no lumps. Add remaining sugar and then add
eggs one at a time, allowing them to get incorporated before adding the
next. Add vanilla extract, heavy cream and Bailey's. Do not over mix once the heavy cream has been added, just mix on low until the heavy cream has been worked in. Pour mixture on to crust in a 9" spring form pan. You are now ready to bake. I baked it for 50 minutes or so. I recommend using a water bath to avoid cracking. I did not use a true water bath as I am paranoid about immersing a spring form pan in water, even with plastic wrap and foil to protect it. Instead I just placed a big pan of water in the oven to keep the environment moist and my cheesecake crack free.

When done, let cool gradually and then top it with the Whisky Glaze.
Top with this Jameson's Whiskey Caramel Sauce:*

You can easily 1/2 this recipe if you want.

Friday, March 11, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Menu and Recipes

This is a holiday we really get into-- I think it's right up there with Christmas. Here is a list of our traditional recipes:

Most of our recipes are from the Joy of Cooking, with our own variations.

Corned beef and cabbage:

Briefly, follow directions on package: boil with seasoning packet for about 3 hours. Add carrots, cabbage and potatoes (as many as you want) for the last half hour of cooking time.

Place the brisket in a baking dish. Make a glaze to taste, with soy sauce, ginger, brown sugar, and mustard. Some people like theirs sweeter, but we really like the mustard and ginger to come through. Bake 350 ish for about 10 minutes. You just want the glaze to set, the beef is already cooked through. This avoids the slimy texture you can find on meat that has only been boiled.

Slice against the grain and serve along with the veggies from the pot that don't make it into the colcannon.

Guinness and Beef Stew:

Season flour with salt, pepper, thyme, and paprika (we use smoke paprika which gives it a kick).

Dredge the chunks of stew meat (2 lbs. of beef or lamb) in the flour, shake off excess.

Brown the meat in small batches in bacon fat if you have it, otherwise use oil or butter.

Add to the crockpot. Cook a mirepoix (you can buy this precut in some grocery stores, but basically it's diced celery, carrot and onion) until the onions are translucent in the drippings, adding more oil if you need it.

Add the mirepoix to the crockpot. Add 1-inch cubed potatoes, carrots, parsnips, thyme, oregano, basil, marjoram, bay leaves, salt and pepper to taste. Add 2 bottles of beer, preferably an Irish stout. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Serve with potato rolls or dumplings.

I think I've posted the potato rolls before, but let's have it all together:

Refrigerator Potato Rolls (this is my great-grandmother's recipe):

Instant mashed potatoes, enough for 4
4 ½ to 4 ¾ c. flour
1 pkg. dry yeast
1 c. milk
½ c. butter
½ c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs

Prepare mashed potatoes according to pkg. directions.

In large mixing bowl, thoroughly stir 2 c. flour and the yeast. Heat milk, butter, sugar, and salt in a pan to 115-120° F, stirring constantly. I usually heat it too quickly and then have to cool it down to less than 120 before adding the yeast-- you don't want to kill the yeast! Add potatoes. Add to dry mixture in bowl, and add eggs. Beat low 30 sec. Beat high 3 min. Stir in enough flour to make a dough. Place in greased bowl, turning once to coat; cover and refrigerate several hours or up to one week.

To use: divide in half, shape half into 16 rolls. Place in a greased 9x9x2 in. pan. Repeat with other half. Rise to double in a warm place. Bake at 375° F 25-30 min. Turn out of pan onto a rack to cool. Break apart and serve with butter. Makes 32 rolls.

IRISH SODA BREAD (from Joy of Cooking, almost exactly)

One 8-inch round loaf

When this batter is made with the greater amount of sugar and baked in a loaf pan, it becomes a fine crusty tea bread that stays moist for 3 to 4 days. To make a tea loaf, use 1/3 sugar and 1 cup buttermilk.

Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 F, 350 F if you are baking in the loaf pan. Grease a large baking sheet or an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch (6-cup) loaf pan.

Whisk together thoroughly in a large bowl:

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Stir in:

1 cup raisins, Craisins, or currants
2 teaspoons caraway seeds

Whisk together in another bowl:

1 large egg
2/3 cup buttermilk, or 1 cup for the tea loaf
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) warm melted unsalted butter

Add to the flour mixture and stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened. The batter will be stiff but sticky. Scrape the batter onto the baking sheet in a mound 6 to 7 inches in diameter or scrape it into the loaf pan and spread evenly. Use a sharp knife to slash a large X about 1/2 inch deep on top of the batter. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes on the baking sheet, 45 to 50 minutes in the loaf pan. Transfer the bread to a rack to cool completely before serving. Or, if using a loaf pan, let cool in the pan on a rack for 5 to 10 minutes before unmolding to cool completely on the rack.

Colcannon (Mark did a bunch of research and combined 5 recipes into this):

Chop finely 1 bunch of green onions or 2 leeks, 1 c. cabbage and 3 c. kale.

In a Dutch oven or stockpot, cook 6 slices bacon to crisp; drain and chop into pieces.

Sautee onions, kale and cabbage in reserved bacon fat.

When the kale is wilted, add chopped bacon and a bunch of the cooked potatoes, carrots and cabbage from the corned beef pot.

Mash with a little milk, salt, pepper, then mix in 2 Tbsp. butter.

For dessert, our son wants festive cupcakes this year but Mark (yes, Mark) is making an Irish Car Bomb Cheesecake; I'll let him post the recipe.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Thai Style Roasted Chicken with Stir Fried Vegetables and Mahogany Rice

I lifted this chicken recipe almost entirely from Smitten Kitchen
Smitten Kitchen is what this blog hopes to be when it grows up. The Photography is awesome.
Me I take snapshots with my phone.
 Deb has a love of baked goods that I don't share but her recipes always look amazing, even when I know it is a recipe I would not personally like.

So tonight I borrowed her Thai Chicken Legs and served them up with mahogany rice, which was new to me and a bag of stir fry veggies with additional baby corn (which my daughter and I love) and water chestnuts (which I love)

I did not really vary her recipe much with one significant exception. I had no hoisin sauce in the house, a situation that must be remedied, but I had to punt. So I made my own hoisin sauce which was delicious, but it's flavor and consistency are the main reason why I think my version of this dish did not jump up and down and say "Hey I am Asian inspired food"

This hoisin sauce is the same as I use on the Hoisin bbq chicken a few weeks back, I just made a much smaller batch and replaced the hoisin in the Smitten Kitchen recipe with mine.

The end result was absolutely delicious. Fish sauce has been absent form my life for a few years for no reason other than I ran out and never remembered to replace it. I adore fish sauce, it's earthy salty taste is almost the definition of Umami. It just tastes good. Again mine did not really scream Thai but I will take an incredible roasted chicken no matter what the flavor profile was supposed to be.

The stir fry was just a bagged stir fry amped up with some garlic, ginger and sesame oil. And the addition of the baby corn and water chestnuts.

The mahognay rice was a new one for me, Kerrie had been reading about it so we bought a bag the other day and tonight was it's maiden voyage. I cooked it in my steamer like I would brown rice and it was really tasty. The color makes it difficult to not think of wild rice when you dig in to it and that is not completely off base. It has a lot of the bite of wild rice but the flavor of brown rice.

All in all it was a darn tasty meal.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Biscuits and scones

A couple months back, I posted a recipe for chicken and biscuits that was pretty tasty. But, the biscuits were missing something. I wanted flaky, buttery, melt in your mouth biscuits and didn't want to use shortening, so I set about doing some research which involved asking a bunch of friends and reading a lot of websites. What I came up with was that I wanted a ratio of 2 c. flour to 1 whole stick of butter, lots of baking powder, buttermilk, and a decent amount of salt. Because I'd like these to be a little less guilt inducing, I went with half whole wheat flour and half white, on the recommendation of a friend. They were amazing! Which makes sense; whole wheat has less gluten which makes bread making more difficult but is great for quick breads like this. I call these CAM Biscuits.

1 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. unbleached white flour
1 stick + 2 Tbsp salted butter*
3/4 tsp salt, not kosher
1 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 c. buttermilk

*if you use unsalted butter, increase salt to 1 tsp. And I use table salt in baking, the smaller pieces mix better.

Cut 1 stick butter into small pieces, and place back into the fridge until you're ready to use it, or in the freezer for a few minutes. Whisk together the flours, salt and baking powder and place in the freezer until you're ready to use.

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Place the dry ingredients in a food processor. Add the butter pieces and pulse a few times, just until the butter is cut in and it looks like coarse cornmeal. Turn the blade on low and pour in the buttermilk all at once, the dough will quickly form into a ball.

Turn the ball out onto a floured surface. Quickly pat the dough out into a 2" thick rectangle, fold in half, pat out again, repeat until you've folded it about 10 times, and then pat out to 3/4" thick. Work fast so the heat of your hands doesn't melt the butter. With a floured biscuit cutter, cut out a dozen biscuits and place into a greased cake pan. I usually need 2 round ones. If you want the sides softer, make sure they're all touching and fill in spaces with dough scraps. If you want taller, fluffier biscuits that are perfect for splitting in half and topping with chicken fricassee, don't let the sides touch.

Melt the remaining 2 Tbsp butter, and brush onto the biscuits before baking.

Bake about 12-15 minutes, until golden brown. Flip onto a rack and let cool for a moment before serving. You could probably store these in a ziploc and toast before serving leftovers, but I'm not sure we often have leftovers of these.

Option 2: in my reading, I found that the soft wheat used in the South is different from the hard winter wheat we use up here. White Lily makes a fantastic white flour for use in biscuits, particularly the self-rising flour. My mother in law was kind enough to bring me some from NC for Christmas. I used the same basic recipe, using 2 c. of this flour and skipping the salt and baking powder of course since it is in the flour, but all the other steps were the same. It was fast, easy, and delicious. But...I do like using the whole wheat flour. It feels just a little less naughty.

Option 3: decrease salt by 1/4 tsp and add 2-3 Tbsp sugar and make some delicious scones. Serve with this recipe for microwave lemon curd, with the following modifications as suggested in the reviews: Use 3 whole eggs plus 2 egg yolks and increase the sugar to 1 1/4 cup. It won't be two sweet but will mellow out the tartness. And strain the curd through a fine-mesh seive to remove all the white egg bits to ensure a perfectly smooth curd. Be sure to use freshly squeezed lemon juice instead of bottled. You need the lemons for all the zest, anyway.

Baked Lump Crab Cakes with Red Pepper Chipotle Lime Sauce

Some friends and I have recently been into the Skinny Taste blog, and I thought I'd share a few of the recent recipes I've made with you; this one being the most recent. We really liked it, the freshness of the lime juice with fresh cilantro was very appetizing.

Our changes: I forgot to buy scallions so we used chopped red onion; and I used whole wheat Panko bread crumbs instead of crushed Ritz crackers. Mark was thinking it could have used that buttery taste of the crackers, and next time he might brush the tops with a little butter before baking. One of the things I like about this website is that she's not afraid to use a little butter, there's no light butter substitute everywhere.

Anyway, I won't reprint the recipe but just link to it:

Baked Lump Crab Cakes with Red Pepper Chipotle Lime Sauce

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sweet potato, rosemary and pancetta waffles, rosemary roasted pork tenderloin and a maple mustard sauce

So waffles eh? That seems to be a trend I am hearing about in the last few days. First Kerrie tells me about a conversation she had with her mom about falafel waffles and brownie waffles, the Cooking Channel Blog is all about waffles,  a couple weeks back I was thinking about Alton Browns Sweet Potato Waffles, and just last week my favorite local bar had fried chicken on special which led to a chicken and waffles discussion.

It seemed waffles and I were heading for a collision course.I just had to figure out where we were going to collide.

I decided to give sweet potato waffles a try but I wanted to go full on savory rather than attempting to make breakfast waffles with a twist. I have a fantastic waffle recipe that I love and don't really need to mess with (no it isn't posted yet, yes I will get around to it.)

I looked over Alton's recipe and started formulating some ideas, then I found this recipe on a blog called Food With Legs

I must say the author did most of my thinking for me on the waffles. I really only made one change and that was baking the sweet potatoes instead of steaming. Roasting the requisite garlic at the same time just makes sense. I think baking them brings an additional layer of flavor that you don't get from steaming.

One other note of caution about the recipe. It calls for 6 beaten egg whites about midway through the instructions but does not show them in the ingredient list. Just be sure you have them on hand.

The end result was delicious. The rosemary, sweet potatoes and garlic really played off of each other. Contrary to the authors opinion I think the pancetta was a bit too mild and got lost in the mix. It was a nice crunchy textural element but I think a little smokiness would have been welcome. I may try it again with sliced pancetta instead of cubed.

Now of course the next step was what to serve with it. I have to make a confession, I have never made fried chicken. I love fried chicken and I seek it out wherever I can. I just have never gotten around to making it myself.  It shames me. I would have tried to make it tonight but it just seemed like too much, and too much fat. So I started thinking of alternatives and I remembered this maple mustard pork chop recipe I made once upon a time and a recipe was born. Instead of chicken and maple syrup I would make roasted pork tenderloin with the maple mustard bbq suace.

The sauce comes from an often used cookbook called BBQ USA: 425 Fiery Recipes from All Across America. Every recipe I have tried has been a winner. You will need

1 Tbsp Butter
2 slices bacon cut into 1/4 inch slivers (replaced with pancetta today)
1 small onion finely chopped ( about 3/4 cup)
1 clove garlic minced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
3/4 cup maple syrup (grade b if you can find it)
6 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
kosher salt and black pepper to taste.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the onion garlic and bacon. Saute until the bacon is crispy then add the tomato paste. Stir for a minute or two then add the mustard, syrup and vinegar. Bring to a boil then reduce hit to low and simmer 10- 12 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste. You can serve it hot or at room temp

Since I was using it as maple syrup I just drizzled it on the waffles at room temp.

The pork tenderloin was pretty simple, I had a couple of big flavors going already so I just wanted to the pork to taste like pork. I coated it in a little olive oil, salt and pepper, I jammed a branch of rosemary in each end then seared it on all sides. 2 minutes a side or so. Then I put it into a 375 degree oven and baked it until it hit a temp of 150.

Slice up the pork, lay it on a waffle and drizzle with the sauce. It was a great combination of savory and sweet. If you love chicken and waffles then you really should try this. If chicken and waffles has always sounded crazy then try this and you may reconsider.