Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve Extravaganza 2012

We have about 16  people this year so in order to try to save some sanity,and not to force that many people to sit I am going to go with more of a cocktail party feel than a sit down dinner this year. I'm also shifting the order in a major fashion this year. Everyone always fills up on soup and salami cheese bread so I'm moving that to the end of the evening. Think of it like the turkey sandwich on thanksgiving day.

Fried Squid
Fried Smelt

Beet cured gravlax
I can't believe the incredible color this took on in just two days
It was like a sunrise when I cut into it and the flavor was outstanding  the beet was subtle but present and the overall taste was just wonderful, like really good salmon sushi

I used to make my own breading, then I got lazy so I use Tempo Breading Supreme as my base and doctor it up with some smoked paprika, seafood seasoning blend and some dried herbs.
We have some toast, creme fraiche, capers etc to to go with the salmon.

Baked Whole Fish
Back to striped bass this year, stuffed with parsley  fennel frond, oranges and lemons. Baked in a salt dome. I don't vary from Alton Browns method at all. I have used Grouper and Red Snapper in lieu of striped bass with great success.

I got smart this year and stuffed it and covered it way ahead of time, thankfully it is cold enough that I can store it outside in the back of the station wagon.

Smoked Salmon Ravioli
Kerrie makes a pasta every year, it is fresh pasta dough stuffed with smoked salmon  ricotta and cream cheese. This year we are going to fry it instead of boiling it, that way I can get away from having to stand in the kitchen and toss raviolis in sauce a pan at a time.

Anchovy Spaghetti
This is my mothers contribution. It is a simple dish but so delicious. Saute 4 or so cloves of chopped garlic in olive oil. Once the garlic has begin to soften add two cans of anchovies and stir until they break apart and almost disintegrate, add some cracked black pepper and  toss with fresh pasta lots of grated cheese

Stuffed Calamari
I'm going back to the style that my mom always did, I got crazy with the stuffing over the years and did things with 5 spice and some other stuff, it was good but didn't quite fit int. This year it will be celery, onions, crab, shrimp, parsley and lemon. Some salt and pepper and that's about it.

Lobster Cheesecake
This has become a new tradition as well. It is incredibly rich as you might imagine. I follow Emerills recipe to the letter, almost. I add a big pan of water to the oven during cooking to create some moisture. My spring form pans are not secure enough to immerse them in the pan so I keep it separate.

Meatball Soup
This is a simple soup, traditionally made with the turkey stock from thanksgiving dinner. Just broth and meatballs, and a lot of cheese.

Clam Chowder
This one is coming along with my mom, I don't know what she puts in it, it is however delcious

Salami Cheese Bread
Last but not least, the killer of appetites, the Christmas day breakfast of champions, the salami cheese bread. It doesn't get much more simple.
I made the simple pizza dough form the Americas Test Kitchen Family Baking Book
It makes two loaves, divide the dough in half, roll the dough out, put dow a layer of provaline cheese, all the slices should overlap like the olympic rings. Cover that in a layer of salami, add more cheese, more salami and some grated parmesan. Fold the ends in and then roll it up tightly. Brush with some melted butter and bake at 375 until the crust is brown and the cheese has almost certainly exploded from the ends. Let it cool enough that the cheese sets up, slice and serve.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Chocolate Meatball Cookies- For my Mother

As a kid I loved sweets, particularly chocolate. Today I don't like sweets at all and a strong chocolate smell makes me a bit ill. These cookies were a bit part of my childhood chocolate addiction  To be completely honest I think I like the raw dough more than the finished product but they were a favorite for sure. This recipe makes a huge amount of cookies, scale as needed.

16 cups flour
10 heaping Tbps unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
8 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp allspice
1 Tbsp nutmeg
1 Tbsp ground cloves
1 Tbsp powdered ginger
4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

1 quart buttermilk
3 cups sugar
2 cups shortening
1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
6 eggs

2 1/2 cups chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts were most common)
2 bags chocolate chips

Mix all the wet ingredients together to form a loose batter. Sift together all the dry ingredients and mix well with the wet. Stir in the chopped nuts and chocolate chips and mix well with your hands. No spoon is man enough for the job. Let it rest in the fridge for about hour so it comes together. Preheat oven to 350

Roll the dough into balls, smaller than commercial or restaurant meatballs, think about a two bite cookie that you could eat in one bite if you wanted to 

Place about 1 inch apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake 10-12 minutes.
My mother always coated them with powdered sugar or made a quick powdered sugar glaze and dipped the tops in the glaze before serving.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pan Fried Pumpkin and Sausage Ragout over Creamy Polenta

Clearly I modified it by adding tasty tasty sausage

1/4 cup neutral oil like grape seed or canola
2 pounds pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into large chunks
1 pound sweet sausage (hot would be fine)
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoons minced fresh chile or hot red pepper flakes to taste
1/2 cup red wine, vegetable stock, or water
3 cups chopped or canned tomatoes (use homemade tomato sauce to save some time)

Grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly chopped parsley

Put a few tablespoons of oil  in a deep large pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium high heat. Add the sausage to the hot pan and cook on both sides until almost done, 8 minutes per side or so. Remove the sausage from the pan and set aside. Working in batches, add some of the pumpkin and season with salt and pepper. Brown on each side; about 10 minutes total. Transfer to plate and continue cooking the rest of pumpkin, adding more oil as necessary. 

When all pumpkin is cooked, pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the oil and add onion, garlic and chile. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3 minutes. 

Add wine and scrape any browned bits from the bottom of pan. Let liquid boil off and thicken, then stir in tomato and its juices. Bring the sauce to boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally until thickened, 10 minutes. 
Slice the sausage into bite size pieces and return it and the pumpkin to pot and let mixture come back to boil. Cover and turn the heat to a simmer. Cook, turning once or twice until the sauce has thickened more and pumpkin is tender, but not mushy, 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle with some  Parmesan and  parsley. 

I served this over Creamy Polenta and it was delicious. This polenta recipe has become my favorite. The cream cheese makes it so light and fluffy.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Blue Cheese Crackers

My mom told me about these and I absolutely had to make them, immediately. It just so happened that I had planned on making steak salads for dinner and thought these would be a great addition. I was right.
The original recipe came from Ina Garten, AKA The Barefoot Contessa. The original recipe is below

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
8 ounces Stilton cheese, crumbled (about 12 ounces with rind), at room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 extra-large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and Stilton together for 1 minute, or until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour, salt and pepper and mix until it's in large crumbles, about 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon of water and mix until combined.

Dump the dough onto a floured board, press it into a ball, and roll into a 12-inch long log. Brush the log completely with the egg wash. Spread the walnuts in a square on a cutting board and roll the log back and forth in the walnuts, pressing lightly, and distributing them evenly on the outside of the log. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or for up to 4 days.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut the log 3/8ths-inch thick with a small, sharp knife and place the crackers on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 22 minutes until very lightly browned. Rotate the pan once during baking. Cool and serve at room temperature

I made one change, and I am very happy with it. Kerrie is allergic to walnuts so they were never going to work, I thought about almonds and pecans as well. I ruled out pecans because all I had was a can of mixed nuts and I wasn't going to go pick them all out. Almonds sounded OK but I thought I wanted something with a stronger flavor to counteract the blue cheese. I finally settled on my favorite rye crackers. I crushed them up and rolled them just as with the recipe above. Delicious.
I served them crumbled up like a crouton on top of a sliced steak salad and some crispy parsnips. the slight soft cracker with it's blue cheese punch went great with steak and parsnips.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bacon, Swiss Chard and Chicken Pot Pie

Wow, I'm a terrible blogger. For those of you who don't know I took a new job back in July and have been travelling like a lunatic ever since. Hopefully now that I'm settled in and fall is here I can get back into the swing of things. In the meantime I have been keeping up with my posting schedule on So Good. Check me out there. I did have occasion to make a variation on an incredible looking dish from one of my favorite blogs, Smitten Kitchen. I adore pot pies and I am guilty of now thinking out of the traditional chicken pot pie box myself.
Even though I added chicken to my variant the inspiration was her Pancetta, white bean and swiss chard pot pie.

I admit upfront I used up a piece of puff pastry as the top for this one, as much as I love making pie crust, we happened to have a piece in the fridge so I used it instead. 

Filling 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
4 ounces (115 grams or 3/4 to 1 cup) 1/4-inch-diced bacon
1 large or 2 small onions, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 small celery root, finely chopped
Pinch of hot smoked paprika
Pinch of regular paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
Thinly sliced Swiss chard leaves from an 8- to 10-ounce (225- to 285-gram)
bundle (4 cups); if leaves are very wide, you can halve them lengthwise

1.5-2 cups choopped cooked chicken ( I used a store bought rotisserie chicken)
3 1/2 tablespoons (50 grams) butter
3 1/2 tablespoons (25 grams) all- purpose flour
3 1/2 cups (765 ml)  low- sodium chicken broth (home made if you have it)

Make filling: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium- high heat in a large, wide saucepan, and then add the bacon. Crisp up the bacon and remove it with a slotted spoon, and drain it on paper towels before transferring to a medium bowl. Leave the heat on and the renderings in the pan. Add an additional tablespoon of olive oil if needed and heat it until it is shimmering. Add onions, carrot, celery root, paprika and a few pinches of salt, and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are softened and begin to take on color, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook for 1 minute more. Add the greens and cook until wilted, about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with the additional salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Transfer all of the cooked vegetables to the bowl with the bacon and chicken, and set aside.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Make sauce: Wipe out the large saucepan; don’t worry if any bits remain stuck to the bottom. Then melt the butter in the saucepan over medium- low heat. Add the flour, and stir with a whisk until combined. Continue cooking for 2 minutes, stirring the whole time, until it begins to take on a little color. Whisk in the broth, one ladleful at a time, mixing completely between additions. Once you've added one- third of the broth, you can begin to add the rest more quickly, two to three ladlefuls at a time; at this point you can scrape up any bits that were stuck to the bottom — they’ll add great flavor.
Once all of the broth is added, stirring the whole time, bring the mixture to a boil and reduce it to a simmer. Cook the sauce until it is thickened and gravy like, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir chicken bacon and reserved vegetables into the sauce.

Assemble and cook pot pies: pour the filling into a deep pie plate . Set the plate on a baking pan. Roll out the pastry into  a round that will cover your plate with an overhang, of about 1 inch wider in diameter plate. Whisk the egg wash and brush it lightly around the top rim of your bowls (to keep the lid glued on; nobody likes losing their lid!) and drape the pastry over each, pressing gently to adhere it. Brush the lids with egg wash, then cut decorative vents  in each to help steam escape. Bake until crust is lightly bronzed and filling is bubbling, about 30 to 35 minutes.

Serve and Enjoy

Monday, August 27, 2012

Pig Fest

So, I roasted another pig. This is only my 3rd time around and I am slowly perfecting my style. This year I made my grill rather than renting one and I'm so happy I did. I need to fine-tune my build, but essentially I followed the instructions from these guys.
I had all my rebar cut up for me by a local metal shop, far cheaper than Lowe's or Home Depot. I used 4 7-foot lengths and 10 3-foot lengths. I picked up 4 23.5-lb bags of charcoal, 2 big jugs of adobo with cumin, 3 packages of banana leaves (from my favorite Asian market) and 2 bottles of sour orange juice.
When I buy a pig it comes in a bag, in a box. Save the bag, intact, you will need it. First up we had to do a bit of work to get the pig to lay flat. The neighbors were a bit disturbed by the image of me pressing down on both legs as hard as I could to crack some things open, but it was effective.Once I got it flat on the table I scored the skin all over.

Pig skin is tough, so I would recommend you use an adjustable razor knife set to about 1/4-inch depth to do the cutting. You don't want to cut too deep but you want to get all the way through the skin.
Once you have the skin prepped, mix both containers of Adobo (full disclosure this is the last time I will use the pre-made Adobo for this it, is too salty at times, try to find salt-free and season on your own or make from scratch) with 1/2-3/4 bottle of sour orange and about 1 cup of olive oil. Mix with your hands until it makes a loose paste. Add more orange or olive oil as needed.
Rub the seasoning all over both sides of the pig.

Once the pig is seasoned all around the best thing to do is slide it right back into the bag it came in. A large heavy duty lawn bag might work but the bag it comes with is best. You could do this the same day you are going to roast the pig, but I like to do it the night before. As you might imagine, I don't have a fridge big enough to store a whole pig, so I bought 10 bags of ice and laid 5 of them in the bottom of a shower stall, put the pig on the ice, stick at least one bag in the cavity of the pig (outside of the bigger bag) and try to cover as much of the pig as possible with the other bags. Then drape the whole thing in a heavy blanket or quilt. I have done this all 3 times and it works perfectly.

Now that Miss Piggy is seasoned and on ice, it's time to build the pit.

My father and I built up the first layer of cinder blocks and then filled the bottom with a couple inches of sand, conveniently available from the Sodus Bay beach. My pit was three tiers high and used 14 cinder blocks per tier. I draped the bottom two tiers with heavy duty foil before placing the 3rd one on top.

I need to pick up another 4 pieces of rebar for the next one. I offset the 2 halves so that the pig was sandwiched nicely between them but when I flipped it, the back portion of the pig was hanging off so I had to unwire the rig and move it so it didn't fall into the fire. Not ideal but we got it done. Two more pieces of rebar on each half of the frame would be perfect.

For my 96 pound pig I wanted to get it on the grill by 9 AM at the latest to eat about 5. I served at 5:30 so I wasn't too far off. I started the coals at 8-ish so they were perfect to start cooking.

When it was time to cook I divided the coals into 4 piles, roughly in the positions of the 2 hams and the 2 shoulders. I placed a layer of banana leaves on the bottom of the rebar grate (again more bars would have helped) laid the pig, skin-side-up on the leaves, then another layer of banana leaves, then the top grate. I wired it all together with more of the same wire ties I used to assemble the grate itself.

Once it was all wired up I covered the whole thing in foil and began pre-burning my next batch of coals. I used an outdoor firepit as my coal burning preparation area. Basically your task for the rest of the day is to keep the heat right. I shoot for about 220 degrees all day, measured with an oven thermometer hung on the rebar. With the grate set up the way it is, you only need to flip the whole rig one time at about the 1/2 way point of your day. We flipped about 2:30.

After you flip cover in foil again and let it go. Use an instant read thermometer to check your temp, I shoot for 180-190. If you want pork that will shred like pulled pork, aim for the higher end; I tend to go towards the lower end as I like to be able to slice some of the meat. When it was done I picked up the whole rig and brought it to the 6-foot table I'd already covered in foil, for serving.

Once I started carving I stopped taking pictures since my hands were covered in pork. But I find it best to work in sections: pick a shoulder, start breaking it down and put it in a foil serving pan. Once that one is full, move on to your next chunk. Try not to destroy the pieces that people are looking for: ribs, loin, cheek (omg cheek), belly etc. In the end it's a great way to spend a day with friends, food, and beer. And perhaps a pig predator pose.

Monday, August 13, 2012


Wheeeeee Sauerkraut. We have had an abundance of cabbage from our CSA in the past few weeks and since I am the only person in the house who really eats it I had to come up with a solution. I love Sauerkraut but I rarely get it outside of Oktoberfest and as post St. Patrick's Day Reuben.

I followed this recipe (mine is a double batch) and hopefully the results will be good in a few weeks. I will keep you posted

  • 8-10 cups shredded cabbage, loosely packed (about 2 lbs), about 1 cabbage
  • 1 tsp. caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp. yellow mustard seeds
  • 1-2 tsp. un-iodized or pickling salt
  • 1 c. filtered water mixed with 1 tsp. salt
In a clean, non-metallic bowl, mix cabbage, juniper berries, caraway, mustard seeds, and salt. Stir cabbage to release juices. Let rest 10 minutes then mix again. You may let this rest longer (1-2 hours) if needed.
Sterilize jar and lid by boiling for several minutes in water and draining on a clean dishcloth.
Pack into a sterilized quart-sized, wide-mouthed jar, pushing down with a wooden mallet. Add filtered, or non-chlorinated, salty (1 teaspoon salt per cup of water) water to rim of jar and cap loosely with a sterilized canning lid. Place jar on a tray to catch overflowing juices. Keep jar between 65°F and 72°F for 2-3 weeks.
After bubbling stops, check container and top off with salty (1 teaspoon salt per cup of water, warm slightly to dissolve completely) water if level falls below rim. Skim any (harmless) white spots or film from the top, close jar tightly, wipe off outside of jar and store in the refrigerator until you use it up.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

CSA 2012 Week 1

Woo Hoo CSA season is here again. and I cannot be happier. Something about the first batch of fresh local organic veggies just gets me into the summer spirit. 
The first weeks pick up at my CSA included:

  • Baby Lettuce
  • Mustard Greens
  • Broccoli
  • Green Onions
  • Garlic Scapes
  • Sugar Snap Peas 
  • Radishes
  • Tarragon

I'm pretty sure we have done the same thing on week one every year. Salad. It is just the right way to appreciate all the beautiful stuff we just brought into the house.

Now as much as I love fresh veggies, I do like some extra protein with my veg and in tonight's meal that role was handled by one of my old stand buys, Coffee Crusted Pork Tenederloins. Without a lot of time for a marinade to really sink in I wanted to add some extra flavor in the form of a dry rub and this pork fit right in.

We also made a quick mustard vinaigrette with rice wine vinegar, olive oil, fresh tarragon, fresh parsley (not csa), dijon mustard, salt, pepper and some sugar. it makes for a nice light dressing that complemented to pork and enhanced the veggies. 
I know I know it's tough to get excited about a salad but when it is the first one of CSA season then I'm pretty jazzed about it.
The mustard greens are likely going to be destined for sandwiches or salad.

Hopefully this will be the kick in the butt I need to get back to writing.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Beer Can Chicken

This is another one of those meals that I kick myself for not trying earlier. My brother and parents had been talking about it for a long time before I made it. Now it has become a staple that I make at least once a month.

I always forget to take pictures because we eat it so darn quickly so this is a pretty tasty looking one I found. There are 100s of recipes out there on how to make it, I go as simple as possible. You can make beer can chicken in the oven or on the grill, either charcoal or gas works fine. I have never actually tried it in the oven, as I prefer grilling, but I'm sure it would be excellent. The reason I prefer grilling is you can use indirect heat which I think makes for a much crispier, tastier skin. And this recipe is all about crispy tasty skin. If the thought if 360 degrees of beautifully browned skin doesn't make your mouth water a bit then I don't know what is wrong with you.
Regardless of charcoal or gas, set up your grill with a two zone fire. If you have a three burner grill light only the left and right or top and bottom burners, leaving the center burner off. For charcoal divide the coals equally on the left and right sides of your grill and leave the center open. I use a chimney starter and find that if I put 6-8 unlit coals down on the bottom of the grill and then evenly divide the hot coals between the two halves then I have enough sustained heat that I don't need to add more coals. The high heat at the start of grilling browns the skin immediately and the gradually decreasing heat allows the chicken to cook through without drying out.  The beer will steam your chicken from the inside and help it to cook evenly. It also infuses flavor.
While your grill is heating, prep your chicken. Typically we use chickens that come in about 4 lbs or so. This is the easy part. Rub the chicken all over with olive oil, sprinkle salt and pepper inside and out. I rarely use anything more than thyme and garlic as additional seasonings. Once your chicken is seasoned all around, open a can of beer. Drink about 1/3 to 1/2 of the can. Invert the chicken onto the beer can and place in the center of your hot grill.  You can certainly purchase one of the many commercial beer can chicken racks on the market, I just use the legs to prop the chicken up a bit. If you are using gas you want to start off on medium high and then reduce to  medium low after 15 minutes or so, cook for another 45 minutes. If you are using charcoal, close the lid and walk away for an hour. Perhaps drink another beer in either case. 

After an hour open the lid and take a look. The skin should be universally golden brown. Use  an instant read thermometer and check the temperature of the thigh you are looking for 165. The trickiest part of this whole dish is extracting the beer can without over-handling the chicken and tearing that tasty skin. The best approach I have found is using a potholder (ove gloves or welding gloves are better) hold the beer can at the base and then insert a meat fork into the other end and pull up on the fork. By sticking the fork inside you can get enough purchase to lift without tearing up the meat. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes then serve and enjoy.

If roasting a chicken is one of those things you feel like you always screw up then I encourage you to try beer can chicken. It is simple to do and hard to screw up.

On a personal note, I apologize for the lack up updates lately. I have this mindset that I only want to post new recipes on the blog so even though I am cooking regularly I have not been experimenting much of late. I am going to work on posting more, smaller updates through the week instead of waiting for that perfect "blogworthy" recipe. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Braised Pork Country Ribs with Root Vegetables

I have been struggling with what to do with the pork country ribs I got from Farmer Brian and I finally landed on this recipe for soy braised pork country ribs with root vegetables.

I think the soy braised name from the original recipe is a bit misleading, these ribs had an amazing flavor but the soy was really pretty muted. I did rekindle my love affair with star anise, it ads a flavor I just adore. I had never realized how much I loved it until I started using it.

My Ingredients

1/2 cup chicken broth
3 Tbsp dry Sherry
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp (packed) golden brown sugar
1 tsp hot chili paste (such as sambal oelek, I used Sriracha)
2 1/2 bone in pork country ribs
2 Tbsp peanut oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 green onions; white and pale green parts finely chopped, green parts thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
3 whole star anise
3 long strips orange peel removed from orange with vegetable peeler
1/2 pound carrots, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 pound turnips, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 pound parsnips, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces

Whisk chicken broth, Sherry, soy sauce, brown sugar, and hot chili paste in small bowl to blend; set aside. 

Sprinkle ribs with salt and pepper. Heat peanut oil in heavy large deep skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook ribs until browned, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer ribs to plate. Reduce heat to medium. Add chopped onion to skillet and saute until soft, about 4 minutes. Add white parts of green onions, garlic, and ginger; saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add chicken broth mixture, stirring to scrape up any browned bits. Add star anise and orange peel; bring to simmer.

Return ribs to same skillet. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes. Add carrots,turnips and parsnips to the pan and submerge them int eh sauce as best as you can. Cover and simmer until vegetables and ribs are tender, gently stirring mixture occasionally, about 30 minutes longer. Transfer mixture to platter. 
Serve it over some steamed rice or cous cous. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Seared Scallops with a Citrus Sake Mignoette

Scallops are delicious. That is all.
OK Perhaps a bit more. As time goes on I tend to do less and less with scallops in order to enjoy their natural flavor. Scallops have become my favorite kind of sushi and when I get good ones at home I tend to eat one or two just by themselves out of the paper. I found this recipe and thought that the bright citrusy flavors would be a wonderful way to enjoy the scallops with a great punch of flavor, but not so overwhelming that you lose the scallop.
I simply pan seared the scallops  and topped with as much of the sauce as I wanted.

1/4 cup sake (dry)

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp fresh orange juice
2 Tbsp grapefruit juice (fresh)
1 Tbsp shallot (minced)
1 tsp fresh ginger (minced)
1/8  tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper (cracked)
1 green onion (thinly sliced)

Sauces are rapidly becoming my secret weapon in cooking. Once you start off with a good ingredient and prepare it well, the sauce is what changes it from "hey great scallops" to  "Wow"

Friday, April 6, 2012

Pan Seared Tuna with a Cilantro Ginger Sauce

The picture kind of says it all. Good quality tuna is such a fantastic product to work with that you don't need to do much to it. In this case I coated it with some black and white sesame seeds, seared it on all sides in a screaming hot pan and sliced it thin. I made the sauce up on the fly so measurements are approximate.

For the Sauce
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Add all the ingredients except for the salt to a food processor, process until smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside

2 Tuna steaks.
2-3 Tbsp each of black and white sesame seeds (all white is just fine)
Canola or Peanut oil for the pan.

You want to use peanut or canola oil for this as they can handle the high temperatures you need to get a good sear. Heat the oil in a non stick pan big enough to hold all of your tuna.

Meanwhile put all the sesame seeds on a plate and coat all sides of the tuna, including the edges.

When the pan is nice and hot add the tuna and sear on one side for 1-2 minutes. Flip and do the same on the other side. I like to quickly sear the edges as well, using tongs to hold it up on its side if need be. I just like the uniform look, you don't have to do so.

Slice it thin and lay flat on a plate so you can see the inside of the tuna and then add your sauce. Start to finish this is a 20-30 minute so it's great for a weeknight dinner.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts with a Sherry Cream Sauce

Sadly these were likely the last Brussels sprouts of the year, or at least the last local ones. I modeled them after a dish I had at Dinosaur BBQ a couple months back.
I used this recipe as base but I changed the technique.


  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cream sherry
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

The original recipe called for making the sauce while you roasted the sprouts in the oven. That seemed like a waste of a lot of flavor in the pan. It also called for mushrooms, which would have been great but I didn't have any.
Cut the stems from the sprouts and cut them in half through the stem end, discard any leaves that come off easily. Toss the sprouts into a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt an pepper and toss to coat. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet and cook the bacon in it. When the bacon is just under crispy remove it, leaving the drippings. Saute the shallots for a minute or two, crank up the heat a bit and add the sprouts to the pan, cut side down to get them nice and browned. About 6-8 minutes. While the sprouts brown chop up the bacon, it should still have a good bit of fat left on it. Add the bacon back to the pan and toss it with the sprouts to finish cooking the bacon.The sprouts should be browned but not cooked through. Add the sherry to the pan and deglaze, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to low and add the cream. Stir and let it simmer for another 8-10 minutes. The cream should reduce to just a coating on the sprouts and they should be cooked through.

I might add a bit more sherry the next time I make this dish as I love its flavor and it wasn't as pronounced as I might have liked.
Truly this felt like more of a winter dish but it went just fine with the years first beer can chicken on the grill.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

An update

I have been poor on updates of late. I have been cooking like mad but not doing a whole lot of my own creations.
The Caramel Pork Belly recipe I made a couple weeks ago was stellar. Take a Look. I didn't diverge from the recipe at all on this one. Finding fresh pork belly may be a challenge, thankfully I bought 1/2 pig last fall and have been in my pork belly glory.
I also made an incredible herb roasted pork loin from One Perfect Bite. I followed the recipe on this one too. No reason  to mess with what works. I did brine the pork loin first which I strongly recommend

Pork Brine
(from Ad Hoc at Home)

3 T honey
6 bay leaves
2 fresh rosemary springs
1/4 oz fresh thyme sprigs
1 oz fresh flat leaf parsley sprigs
6 cloves garlic, crushed with the skin left on
1 T black peppercorns
1/2 c kosher salt
4 c water

Bring all the ingredients to boil. Stir & boil for 1 minute, until the salt is dissolved. Cool completely before adding the pork. (If you want to cool your brine quickly put the pot in a large bowl of ice & it'll do the trick.) You can also cheat the way I do sometimes and use only half the water and add enough ice after it boils to make up the volume. One traditional sized ice cube is one ounce so you can use 2 cups of water and 16 ice cubes to help chill it down faster. Put the pork  & brine in a bowl or plastic container just big enough to hold them. Let sit in the fridge for up to 12 hours, no more or it may get too salty, no less than 6 hours though.

You can make up a large batch of this brine and freeze it in smaller portions for brining things like pork chops
St Patrick's Day is on the horizon and our annual meal of Corned Beef, Cabbage, Colcannon, Soda Bread. Potato Rolls, Guinness beef Stew and Irish Car Bomb Cheesecake are all on the menu.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Pan Roasted Chicken with Sweet Sausage and Peppers

I absolutely love this recipe. The depth of flavor (particularly the next day) is just fantastic. Think of the best sausage and pepper sandwich you have ever eaten, and this dish gives you all of that flavor and much more.

I will preface this one by saying that this is a very very involved dish and the work is best split over a few days. Considering it begins with brining a chicken for 12 hours you really don't have much choice in the matter but, making the brine itself can take a couple hours because it needs to be cold before use.

The book also has a great diagram on how to cut up your chicken into 8 pieces.

Day 1:
Make the brine. One trick you can use is to use one gallon of water instead of 2 when you make it and then add a gallon (8 Lbs) of ice cubes at the end to chill the brine. Stir the ice cubes in to completely blend, and it should be cool enough to handle. It is important to use cold brine as you don't want to to cook the chicken.

Once your brine is cold add your cut chicken, being sure to completely submerge the chicken. The recipe calls for 2,  2.5-3 lb chickens. I only used one chicken, which really only needed a couple of quarts of brine to cover. Freeze the rest.

Also on day one I would reccomned making your Peperonata Rustica. I made mine the same day and it was great, but it added a lot of effort for one day. Also I think the peppers are better day two.

Day 2:
Brined chicken
Kosher salt
Black pepper
Canola oil
3 Sweet Italian sausages
Olive oil
Fresh chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 350
Remove the chicken from the brine and rinse under cold water, pat dry with paper towels or let air dry. I let mine dry in the fridge all day, it gets the skin nice and crispy when you cook it.
In a skillet large enough to hold all of the chicken,  heat enough canola oil to coat the bottom of the pan to medium high heat. Season the thighs and drumsticks with salt and pepper then add them to the hot pan, skin side down and cook for 3-4 minutes, then turn the chicken and add the sausages. Cook the chicken and sausages 10-12 minutes until the sausages and the chicken are nicely browned, but not cooked all the way through. Remove the chicken and sausage from the pan and set aside. Season the breasts and wings with salt and pepper and add them skin side down to the pan and cook until the skin is nice and crispy,about 8-10 minutes,  turning the wings as needed to brown all around. Remove the chicken to a plate and drain the oil from the pan. Return the pan to the heat  and add the peperonata rustica, bring it to a simmer, cut the sausages into 2-3 pieces and add the chicken and sausage back to the pan and place in the oven to cook through, another 10 minutes or so most likely.

Sprinkle with fresh parsley and a drizzle of olive oil and serve right from the pan.
 I was really excited to make this dish when I read it and I was not disappointed at all, the flavors blended so well together and the presentation was beautiful. Don't get me started on the leftovers, as with many dishes the flavors were even better blended the next day.

So while this dish is a lot of work, if you break it up over a couple of days its not too bad, and it was fantastic. Definitely a great show off for your company meal.

Peperonata Rustica

I got a cookbook for Christmas this year that I had on my wishlist for a long time. So far Ad Hoc at Home is 3 for 3 in recipes.
This dish is truly its own stand alone side but I made it as a part of Pan Roasted Chicken with Sausage and Peppers.

The Recipe calls for:

6 yellow bell peppers
6 red bell peppers
canola oil
kosher salt
black pepper
6 ounces piquillo peppers
1/2 cup Sofrito  ( I used a jar, you can make your own)
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
3/4 tsp Piment d'Espelette ( I used hot smoked paprika, cayenne would work though not quite as much)
1 Tbsp minced chives

I scaled it back a bit and only used 6 peppers total and cut all the other ingredients in 1/2. Piquillo peppers may not sound familiar, they are really the Spanish version of the roasted red peppers that you find in every grocery store. Goya makes them as Piquillo Fancy Pimientos or just fancy pimentos. Regular roasted red peppers would likely be fine.
Heat the oven to 375
Slice the peppers in half and lay them on a baking sheet, coat them with some canola oil and sprinkle on some salt and pepper. Place the peppers cut side down on the baking sheet and roast in the oven for 35 minutes or until the peppers are soft and the skins have bubbled. Don't let them get too brown. Once they have roasted put them in a bowl covered in foil or something with a lid until they cool to room temp.
After they cool, remove as much of the skin as possible and tear the peppers into pieces. Tear the piquillo peppers the same way then add all the peppers, the sofrito, stock and the Piment d'Espelette. Cook over medium-high heat until everything is bubbling then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until the peppers have gotten very soft and liquid has reduced. After tasting this dish tonight you could, and should serve it as a side unto itself, sprinkle it with the chives and serve it alongside and roasted meat.

All Purpose Poultry Brine

So this one is another entry from Ad Hoc at Home, which is rapidly becoming a favorite of mine. It is used in several recipes throughout the book including Pan Roasted Chicken with Sausage and Sweet Peppers. Also in the buttermilk fried chicken recipe that I have not made yet. There are many brine recipes out there so if you have one you love, stick with it. If not I have enjoyed this one quite a bit.
You will Need

5 Lemons- halved
12 bay leaves
1 bunch flat leaf parsley
1 bunch thyme
1/2 cup honey
1 head garlic - halved through the equator
1/4 cup black peppercorns
2 cups kosher salt
2 gallons water

Combine all ingredients in a large pot, cover and bring to a boil. Boil for one minute, stirring to dissolve the salt. Remove form the heat and allow to cool then chill in the fridge for up to 3 days. Or if you are like me, use what you need and freeze the rest.
When you brine be sure you have enough to completely cover the poultry, use weight if you have to.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Bo Ssam

I saw an article in the New York Times about a dish called Bo Ssam. Now I am one of many porkaholics out there so a dish like this was likely to be a winner no matter what. I love the whole idea of how to present the dish, using lettuce wraps to scoop up pork and the various Korean pickled vegetables is an appealing way to eat for me.
I didn't vary from the recipe at all, other than the size of my pork shoulder. And that is where I want to offer a note of caution.
I only had a 3 pound pork shoulder, and while it looked fantastic
The smaller size of the pork screwed up the ratio of crusty, salty, sweet outside and slow roasted pork inside. It wasn't too salty for me, that is pretty hard to accomplish, but for Kerrie and others who sampled it, it was a bit on the salty side. With a larger pork shoulder there would be a better ratio of outside to inside and the saltiness would abated. If you are going to use a shoulder, say 7 pounds or less I would reduce the cure time to 6 hours or so.

I thought about making my own kimchee for this dish but since I wanted some of the other options I went to my favorite Asian market (conveniently located next to one of my favorite Korean/Japanese restaurants) and was able to pick up a tray containing the 4 options that Secret Garden, serves with their meals. If you have an Asian grocery nearby I would bet you can find several pre-packaged choices. At the very least Kimchee is readily available.  Serve up with a stack of bib lettuce leaves and steamed rice and you have a fun and tasty meal.

10 pounds bone-in Boston pork butt
2 1/3 cups white sugar 
2 1/3 cups plus 2 tablespoons salt 
4 each red and green chiles 
1 tablespoon brown sugar
4 cups uncooked Korean rice
2 heads Boston lettuce
Sagyegeol ssäm jang (Korean soybean paste)
Salted shrimp
1 pounds cabbage or daikon kimchee

The Night Before
Place 2 cups each sugar and salt in a bowl or saucepan large enough to hold the butt, add 6 cups water, and stir until dissolved. Place the pork butt in the brine solution. Make sure it’s submerged (weight if necessary), and refrigerate overnight.

Clean the chile peppers (leave the seeds in for a hotter flavor) and slice them 1/2-inch thick, on the bias. Mix 1/3 cup sugar and 1/3 cup salt with 1 cup water until dissolved, pour over the chiles, and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Place the pork in a large 6-inch-deep pot or casserole, and cook uncovered in the oven for about 6 1/2–7 1/2 hours, basting the pork with the pan drippings every hour. When the meat is fork-tender and pulls away from the bone, sprinkle the exterior with a mixture of 1 tablespoon brown sugar and 1 tablespoon salt. Increase oven temperature to 500 degrees, and continue roasting until the outside is well caramelized. Remove from oven.

Rinse the rice well to remove any sediment. Add 7 cups cold water, 1 tablespoon salt, and 4 cups rice. Cook for 20 minutes or until water evaporates.

Clean and wash the lettuce; select the best leaves, and set aside.

Assembly and Serving
Place the pork on a large platter surrounded with the pickled chiles. Arrange the Korean rice, ssäm jang, salted shrimp, kimchee, and lettuce in separate bowls. Allow guests to assemble their ssäm by wrapping each component in a lettuce leaf.