Sunday, December 6, 2009

Friday Night, Pistachio Crusted Rack of Lamb

Here is one that was new to me. I had never made A Rack of Lamb. I went to Whole Foods and I had a choice of American or New Zealand Racks of Lamb, the New Zealand ones were smaller and I think that's the one you might use for an appetizer size and the American ones seemed a better size for what I was doing so I got the American.

Pepper Jack Cheese and CrackersI didn't have alot of time today to spend most of the day coming up with something different and cooking so I made it easy on myself to just do a simple cheese and cracker plate and it did the trick.

Pistachio Crusted Rack of LambReally good. This was in the Bon Appetit December 2008 magazine under "fast easy fresh", which I always shy away from for a Friday Night Meal. But this said it's good enough for a dinner party and the timing was only 30 minutes from start to finish, I thought this would be perfect for tonight because I didn't have alot of time. You reduce pomegranate juice, dried currents and garlic then process it with some butter and spices. Rub it on the Rack of Lamb and press in a combination of Panko bread crumbs and chopped pistachios. Wow, so good!

Pureed Garlic, potato and marscarpone creme
I roasted a whole head of garlic in aluminum foil about 375 for 40 minutes or so. I heated some heavy cream in a pan and added the whole head of roasted garlic and mashed it together, seasoned with salt and pepper and whisked in room temperature marscarpone cheese. I put some boiled Yukon Gold potatoes through a potato ricer and folded in the marscarpone creme and a little cold butter. I finished the potatoes and put them in a small casserole dish then topped with about 2 Tbsp of butter, cover with plastic wrap and place it in the oven on warm. An hour later when I was ready to serve just mix the butter into the potato and serve. I learned that from Ann Burell on FN, she said that's how they do it in the restaurant to keep potatoes warm and ready to go all day.

Roasted Summer Squash
Just cut into angled pieces and roasted at 400 for 40 minutes with olive oil, salt and pepper

TiramisuIt has been a while since I made the real Tiramisu with Marcarpone cheese. I made up my own recipe last year using fresh ricotta cheese and I was making that version for a while. I made this one from Tyler Florance because the reviews were really good. I had to test it because the reason I didn't have alot of time to cook this weekend is because I am catering our Christmas Party at work, my third year doing it. Someone at work has requested a Tiramisu so I said I would make it. So like I said I had to test it and make sure it's not too rum-ee or Marsala-ee for work. I think it's perfect but for work I will use slightly less booze.

Friday Night, Double thick Veal Chops

With all intentions of a NY Strip steak I headed out to Whole Foods Market. Once I was there and looking at the meat case they had these amazing looking double cut veal chops that were on sale, and there was only one lonely NY Strip Steak... I thought...OK, change of plans...

Greek Potato and Almond Dip
I am always looking for different appetizer ideas and this was in the back of one of my magazines and it looked different so I thought I'd try it. It tasted alot like hummus. It has garlic, cooked potato, almonds, olive oil, lemon, fresh bread crumbs all combined in a food processor and spread onto crackers. It was good and interesting.

Double thick Veal ChopsI usually cook any thing like this on the grill but because they were so fat (about 3inches) I wanted to finish them in the oven anyway so I decided to do it all inside. And it allowed me to make a pan sauce with the drippings in the pan which was really good. I seared the veal for a few minutes on each side on the stove top and put the whole pan in the oven for about 15 minutes at 375 until it was cooked to medium. I removed the veal and kept it warm while I added some chopped shallots to the drippings and sauteed a bit before deglazeing the pan with some dry vermouth and reduced it slightly then finished it with cold butter. I spooned the sauce over the veal when I plated it.

Scallion Yorkshire Pudding
I saw these in a magazine and I thought hey that's different, I never make these. I have made them before but it has been a while. I added the scallions to the recipe because I thought it would be a bit more savory with the veal. The recipe calls for putting fat drippings from some other roast (in the magazine) into the bottom of the pop over pan (I used a muffin pan) but because I didn't make that recipe I just put in a bit of olive oil and it worked fine. These came out great and Tony liked them alot, it reminded him of when his mother would make them.

Minted PeasSomething different again. I made a mint pesto, similar to a basil pesto. I cooked some frozen peas in boiling water until just tender, it only takes 5 minutes or so, then I mashed half of the peas into a paste and combined it with the mint pesto then carefully fold the whole peas into the "pea paste pesto". Garnish with a chifinade of mint on top.

Pear Cranberry Cake with Brown Sugar Balsamic Swirl Ice CreamThis cake was good but it really tasted to me like something you may have for breakfast or brunch. The ice cream was really good and interesting. It was so good that I made it again for Thanksgiving to go along with the apple and pumpkin pies that our family brought. You make the ice cream base and it's made with brown sugar, egg yolks and a fresh vanilla bean. Once it is cold and churned in the ice cream machine you add the balsamic swirl which is made by reducing balsamic vinegar from 1/2 cup to 2 Tbsp and it becomes a sweet syrup.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Friday Night, Red Wine Braised Beef Shanks

I hadn't planned on beef shanks but they looked nice and fresh and I thought I had to try them because I had never had them. I have had veal shanks but not beef shanks. I got home and looked up beef shanks on Food There were a few recipes but I chose Emeril's, Red Wine-Braised Beef Shanks with Mushrooms, because he had some good reviews.

Crostini Italian Style, salted cured meats...It's a Seinfeld thing
I had some hot salami and capicola, goat cheese and some fresh whole wheat bakery bread so I toasted up some slices of bread under the broiler, rubbed a little garlic over then added goat cheese mixed with lemon juice and zest, topped it with the "salted cured meats", seasoned with salt and pepper and because I happened to have it I topped it with some raw dandelion greens, a drizzle of olive oil and done. Really good with a drink to get the party started.

Red Wine Braised Beef Shanks with Mushrooms
As I said above this is an Emeril recipe, I didn't use his Essence seasoning, just salt and pepper. I cut the recipe in half and it made plenty of sauce, almost too much, but it's better too much than too little. I also didn't make the basil mashed potato, I had another side in mind. It cooks for five hours so you can imagine that it just falls off the bone. It was good.

Sweet Potato Mash
I felt like a sweet potato so I cut two big ones into quarters the long way and drizzled them with olive oil, salt and pepper. Into a hot 400 degree oven tossing a couple times while they roasted for about 40 minutes. Cool slightly and remove the skin. Place the sweet potato into a bowl and mash with a little butter, salt and pepper. I put it into a small baking dish and topped it with a little brown sugar and pecans and I just placed it into the oven for 5-10 minutes to melt the topping a bit.

Sauteed Fennel and Leeks
This was part of Emeril's recipe and Tony liked it a lot. It's just thinly sliced fennel and leeks cut into 1/2 inch pieces and cooked in a bit of olive oil until tender. Then finish it with butter, lemon zest, salt and pepper. This only takes about 7-8 minutes.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Fresh Raspberries
I had made a cake for someone during the day and I just happened to have some cake batter left over so I made cupcakes with it. I had planned on something different for dessert tonight but I was falling behind so I just went ahead and made chocolate cupcakes topped and filled with cream cheese frosting, garnished with fresh raspberries the dessert. It was a good idea because they tasted perfect at the end of the meal.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Friday Night, Bison Meatloaf

Trying to come up with different main dishes can be tough sometimes. Tony recently had a bison burger on a business trip and raved about it. He said I would have liked it too, not gamey at all. While shopping at the meat case in Whole Foods, they had some really good looking Buffalo meat cuts. My first thought was to do a bison burger but that was too casual sounding for a Friday Night Meal. I thought about it and decided on doing a bison meatloaf. It's comfort food but a little fancier. So once I have one part of the meal figured out I build on it and look for the appetizer, sides and dessert that will pair nicely with that one component that is decided on.

Pizza Patate (Potato)
I love making pizza but I don't think I have ever made pizza for the Friday Night Meal. This pizza was different. I found it in Gourmet magazine, November 2009 and it was from a new book called "My Bread", they were writing about this book and they had this recipe featured. Its made with Yukon Gold potatoes thinly sliced, diced yellow onions, black pepper and olive oil. No cheese, nothing else. It's dough was different that my normal recipe and I liked it alot, super crispy and crunchy and easy to make. The potato topping with the olive oil baked up and became slightly creamy in the center and almost potato chip like on the top and of course the crunchy crust. I Highly recommend this one.

Bison Meatloaf
I didn't follow a recipe for this, I just made it like I was making a regular meatloaf, with all the regular stuff... onions, garlic, fresh, slightly dried, bread crumbs soaked in milk, eggs, parsley, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. I topped it with ketchup to give it some sweetness and keep it moist. It came out really nice, not gamey and slightly different then what you may be used to.

Creamy Polenta
I followed the recipe on the "Stone Ground Yellow Corn Meal" bag but I think I added just a bit more milk and butter at the end just so it would stay soft and creamy because it has a tendency to set up quickly and I wanted a pillowy creamy texture. It was perfect with the meatloaf

Dandelion Greens
I can't believe I hadn't tried these greens before. I sauteed them in a pan with olive oil and garlic like you would do with fresh spinach. We liked it, but I can see how some people would think it's too bitter. The key I think it to very quickly saute them like no more than a minute and the residual heat will cook them perfectly or even raw, which is what I did a couple days ago. Think of it like fresh arugula X 10. I think mixed with a green leaf lettuce or something neutral in a salad it would give a nice kick, but not over power it.

Cranberry Apple Crumble Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream
This was good. I found it in a magazine, I think the new Bon Appetite or Martha Stewart for the holidays. It has a crust with apples and regular fresh cranberries (I thought the cranberries would be too tart but that's not the case), there is a little sugar and spices mixed in and than it's topped with the crumble. Really good with the vanilla ice cream.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday Night, baked herb stuffed salmon

I loved the salmon last time so much, I decided to do it again. This time though I thought I would try it baked instead of grilled. As I looked for a recipe I came across Jamie Oliver's recipe which I remember seeing him do on his show. Tony always says he puts way too much herbs on his seafood so I thought I would see if it's too much by making it his way and we can judge it our selves.

I recently went to Job Lot and came across a cookbook on salt and pepper. It seemed like an interesting book and it was priced at $2.99 so I thought, wow you can't do better than 3 bucks for a nice cookbook. When I got to the register it rang up at $1.50 so I guess you can do better than 3 bucks. Anyway I made a couple things already from it. Last night I made spaghetti carbonara which had a good peppery taste to it. Tonight I am serving homemade sea salt and black pepper crackers as an appetizer along with some cheese. Also there is a recipe for salt roasted potatoes which are boiled first with lemon and garlic then roasted with course gray salt, garlic and lemon, which is going to be the side dish tonight. I am also doing roasted asparagus as the vegetable.

Something we have been watching on the food network is "The best thing I ever ate". They ask food network chefs this question and 5 or so chefs describe the best... sweet thing...or...thing you eat with your hands...or...with bacon. So the the best "sweet thing" that Duff from Charm City Cakes ever ate was this ice cream dessert, and I can only guess at how it's made because they don't give out the recipes. It's vanilla ice cream at the bottom of a glass then something they call "wet nuts" which looks like peanuts they heat with honey until it looks like wet nuts, then chocolate ganache and then something that looks like house made marshmallow fluff. So that's what I will attempt to do.

So the whole menu is...

Homemade Sea Salt and Black Pepper Crackers with Blue Cheese,

Zucchini Vichyssoise this is from The Bearfoot Contessa, I thought it's a cool day, a soup sounds good. I will serve some toasted french bread slices with garlic butter.

Baked Herb Stuffed Salmon

Salt Roasted Potatoes

Roasted Asparagus

Ice Cream trifle

Monday, September 28, 2009

1st Supper Club

This Saturday was the very first supper club. Our neighbor Dave suggested one night that I should do a supper club. At first I thought, yeah right nobody would be interested in that. But as I thought about it and the neighbors seemed to be into it, I thought yeah maybe I will do that. I love to cook, Tony and I can only eat so much. We love to have parties but if I made all the food I wanted to when the neighbors came over we would go broke. I set a date and 14 adults and 5 kids came.
For a small fee I made a gourmet meal including appetizers, main dish and dessert. I mailed out a rough draft of the menu because I wasn't sure of some things like the alternative chicken dish (because I knew there were some that would not enjoy the main), the main dish to be served was Veal Ragu with Homemade Potato Gnocchi. Bruchetta for appetizers and chocolate souffle for dessert.

I ended up choosing 3 different bruchetta's, one with goat's cheese and panchetta, one with sun-dried tomato jam, mozzarella and basil and a plain one with olive oil, salt and pepper (the last one never made it out, it ended up just being served with dinner). The main dish was delicious. I got an antique gnocchi tool from Italy the last time I went to the Brimfield Antique Show, Lisa bought it for me, so I used it to make Homemade Potato Gnocchi. The Veal Ragu was veal shoulder braised for a few hours in a tomato based sauce. The vegetable was 4 roasted veggies...white cauliflower, purple cauliflower, fresh carrots with the stem on and parsnips. A crispy chicken that is breaded and baked (I tried to come up with something baked to make it a little easier on myself)for the alternative. The dessert ended up being served in hollowed out orange halfs. It was either that or I would have to go buy a bunch of souffle dishes. I tested it ahead of time and the orange idea worked! But now I would have to think of something to go with it that had orange in it to tie it all together. Something crunchy like a cookie. I found a recipe for Toasted Coconut and Orange Cookies. I made them and they were great and easy because they were refrigerator cookies so I could store them in the frig and just bake them off when the time came. But Lisa doesn't like coconut... she loves walnuts. That led me into finding another recipe that was an Almond and Orange cookie from a Martha magazine, I turned it into a Walnut and Orange cookie by just substituting one nut for another nut. The souffle needed a bit of vanilla whipped cream and of course a chocolate drizzle for the plate for looks but also to hold the orange bowl in place. Everyone had a great time and loved the idea of being able to just walk home because they are so close.

With it being the first time serving this many people, I feel I do have to tweak things a bit. Maybe do no more than 10 people or so and a babysitter for the kids.

BBQ Contest

Again I wasn't able to do my thing this weekend. Tony's BBQ Contest was Saturday into Sunday and with all the prep work it just wasn't a good idea to cook on Friday. Tony, Brian, John, Lisa and I were team members. Lisa and I were mostly there for moral support, but John and Brian stayed with Tony overnight in the tents, working towards the big win. For the contest you were required to make a pork shoulder, a beef brisket, pork ribs and chicken in order to win the grand prize. Considering Tony has only made the shoulder and the brisket one other time each, and not too much chicken on the smoker, really, they did pretty good. He has probably only done the ribs a total of 10 times and even though we think they are excellent, they didn't win. They give you a score sheet at the end with all the different "team names" and we,"Blackstone BBQ", ended up somewhere in the middle. There were 41 teams and we scored between 20-27 between the four categories. You really couldn't taste the other teams food. That's one of the things that would have been nice to do, so we could taste what a winning rib tastes like.

Here's the link to Brian's photos.

No time to cook

This week I went to the Brimfield Antique Show on Friday with Lisa, Bonnie and Marie. It rained but we still had fun. Normally I would have made something Saturday or Sunday but instead I painted a mural for a neighbor. He's made a stage right in the corner of his family room for his daughter and he asked me to do a back drop. Here are the pictures...I will soon be finishing off some curtains that will flank the stage.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

I'm back...

Hello, I'm back...

I took a little time off from blogging, but not on purpose, it just happened. Wow, four months!! A lot has been eaten in four months.

Last night was a first for me. I made and ate and liked Salmon!! I followed Ann Burell's recipe on Food Network. It's grilled until perfection and topped with a compound butter made of dill, thyme, garlic salt and pepper. The butter melts over and adds lots of flavor, moistness and creates the sauce.

The appetizer was "Fried Red Tomatoes", yes red. I love the recipe in the joy of cooking for fried green tomatoes but unless you have a garden, it's hard to get your hands on green tomatoes. I picked the firmest tomatoes at the store, otherwise they would probably fall apart quickly or be mushy. It worked perfectly.

The sides to go with the salmon were Fennel Salad and Potato Latkas. Those were good, grated onion and potato mixed with an egg, flour and seasoning, cooked in vegetable oil for 3 minutes a side and drain on paper towels, a pinch of salt and it was a perfect compliment to the salmon.

Dessert was an individual portion of Tart Tatin. I was watching "Follow that Food" on Fine Living Network, and it was ...follow that apple. A chef made these and I thought of it when I was making the menu. I looked it up on line and it was right there. Simple, pretty and Delicious. I served it with a dollop of Vanilla Whipped Cream.

Let me try and go back in time with a few high lights of the past four months...

Tony has entered a BBQ Contest, it's just a couple weeks away, and so he smoked a whole beef brisket a few days ago to practice. So when my parents came to visit on Thursday I thought I should use some of that brisket, so I made a "Super Deep Dish Brisket Meat Pie". Every Christmas that's what we have, meat pie. There is about 5 different versions of the meat pie, all very similar, made with stew beef or chuck. I brought a mexican meat pie for a few years now, just to be different. This Christmas I will make this one. I made 2 pastry crusts and lined a spring form baking pan with one pastry crust and filled it to the top with a mix of ground brisket, mashed potato and carrot, garlic and onion, seasonings and I just happened to have a nice beef stock that I made, so I added just a bit because I didn't want it to be dry. I topped the concoction with a few pats of butter and topped it with another pastry crust. I put a small vent on top and baked it on the lower, middle rack for 20 minutes at 400 degrees and turned it down to 350 degrees and baked it for another 20 minutes or until the top crust gets a nice golden color. Served it with catsup (always with catsup) and it was really good with a nice smokey flavor from the smoked brisket.

With the "Julie and Julia" movie that just came out, I had an idea one Friday morning about a month ago. I called a few neighbors and friends and invited them for a last minute dinner party using all recipes from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". We had a great night it ended up being 9 adults and 3 children. I got a whole pork loin and followed Julia's recipe for a pork roast. But because I don't do a lot of whole pork loin, I did exactly how she said to do it, it was dry. Julia says to cook it to 180 degrees or something and by the time I realized that that seemed too high it was too late. I figured in the time I wanted it to be done and when to start cooking it and it was done about an hour too early, so it sat there and that didn't help with the dryness. Nobody seemed to think it was dry, I think they were just being nice. I served french cheeses as the appetizer and the sides were her Garlic Mashed Potato and French Green beans. I made her Almond and Chocolate Cake for dessert with Creme Fraiche Sorbet (the sorbet was not Julia's but thought it would go well). I made the kids there own cheese pizza to share.

On August 1st we had our yearly cookout. Tony made some great BBQ Ribs that didn't stick around too long. We had burgers and hot dogs, baked beans, potato salad and pasta salad, chips and dips and beer and sangria. Everybody brings something so there were steamers and lots of other sides and desserts, I think brownies are the most popular thing that people bring and they always seem to go quickly. We had right around 100 people, our biggest turn out so far!! Lots of kids and they always have a blast!!

One reason I took some time off from blogging was because June and July were crazy with parties and vacationing. It seemed every weekend there was something going on so the Friday Night meals were very sporadic. The middle of July we headed to California for a vacation. Napa, Sonoma, Santa Rosa, San Francisco and Monterey. We went to Alcatraz and Hearst Castle. We toured a few wineries; Alpha Omega, V. Sattui and Rombauer are the ones that stand out. We got alot of good pictures. We took Rt 1, the scenic route from San Francisco area down to Monterey Bay (which was about a 3 hour drive). Unfortunately it was a little foggy, so we saw bits and pieces of the beautiful ocean scenery.

So that's what has been happening and I look forward to keeping you all up to date with my menus on a weekly basis again.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday night, Barefoot Contessa Style

I normally don't do chicken for Friday night because, to me, it just doesn't seem special enough. But I saw this recipe and it sounded good and different and with all the good reviews, I decided to make it. It's a Barefoot Contessa recipe (from the food network). With the chicken I decided on green beans and sweet potato fries. Appetizer was Spicy Cashews (we love our cashews) that is also a Barefoot Contessa recipe and for dessert I made a whole Coconut Cake and Homemade Chocolate Gelato, also Bearfoot Contessa recipes.

Spicy Cashews

The love of cashews started with the Mills Tavern bar. As I am sure I mentioned we always sit at the bar at restaurants, we think you get much better service and it's just more casual. The Mills Tavern serves these really good cashews at the bar and that's why I started off with this recipe (to bring us to the Mills Tavern in our minds). It's made by tossing together a Tbsp of olive oil, 1/2 tsp of chili powder and salt as needed with 3 cups of whole roasted cashews. You heat it all together in a saute pan for about 3 minutes, remove from the heat and serve. It happened to be a night that Tony's car pool buddy, Gerry, came in for a beer and he also enjoyed the cashews!

Indonesian Ginger Chicken, Sesame Green Beans and Oven Roasted Sweet Potatoes
A whole chicken is cut up and marinated overnight with a combination of honey, soy sauce, 1/8 cup of minced garlic and 1/4 cup of grated fresh ginger. It's easy to make this for company because you prepare it ahead and just pop it into the oven for 30 minutes, remove the foil and turn over the chicken to cook 30 minutes more. I found that if you baste it a couple times in the last 30 minutes with the marinade on the sheet pan you will get a deeper color on the chicken.

The green beans were just steamed until perfectly cooked and topped with a compound butter that I had made earlier and chilled. A compound butter is just softened butter with flavors or herbs mixed into it and chilled. I made it with toasted sesame seeds, salt and pepper.

The sweet potatoes were cut like french fries and tossed with olive oil, freshly ground cardamom, salt and pepper then roasted in a 400 degree oven for about 35-40 minutes. Yummy!

Coconut Cake with Chocolate Gelato
I had this cake recipe printed out in my "recipes to try" folder for quite a while. It was so good with the cream cheese frosting and the coconut was different for us. It went perfectly with the chocolate gelato that I made, which was heavy duty. It reminded me of a fudgicle.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Friday Night, lamb shanks

After making the lamb chops a couple Friday's ago, I just had to make lamb again. It was so good and I was surprised that I liked it so much. But I would have to do a different cut...and that's when I decided on lamb shanks. I found this recipe on the food network and it's a Bobby Flay recipe. This recipe already came with sides so I didn't have to think of that. He does roasted tomatoes and toasted orzo, both of these I have done in the past, but I figured I'd do them again. I wanted to do a salad for the appetizer, trying to stay away from anything too caloric. The dessert was inspired by one ingredient; rose water. I have seen rose water in some recipes and I looked for it in the past and couldn't find it any where. Last week I happened to see it and I picked it up. After looking around on line it's used in some drinks and it's used in sorbets and even cookies. Almost all the recipes call for using only a tsp or so. I thought of doing the sorbet but I had an idea of a vanilla ice cream with rose water chips. I would serve it along side a strawberry and rhubarb pie (which I have never made before).

Boston Lettuce with Roasted Red Onion, Roasted Bosc Pear and Roquefort Cheese
I cut the red onion into wedges, about 12 wedges, with the root end still in tact so it stays together. Tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar. Same with the pears, into wedges and I tossed them with the same ingredients as the onion wedges. I placed them into the oven at 400 degrees and they took about 30 minutes, turning them over after 20 minutes. I placed them over some Boston Lettuce along with cucumber, tomato, walnuts, dried cherries and topped with the Roquefort cheese. I made the salad dressing with shallot, honey, sherry vinegar, mustard, s+p and olive oil.

Oven Roasted Lamb Shanks with Roasted Tomatoes and Toasted Orzo
I got some New Zealand Lamb Shanks at Whole Foods, I don't know how that differs from regular Lamb Shanks but that was all they had in the meat case. After browning the meat, you brown some celery, carrots and onion to the pan, then de-glaze with red wine and port wine. Reduce and add the browned meat, chicken stock and roasted garlic in the pot and you bring it to a boil and slowly cook in a 350 degree oven for 2 hours. I had read a review about this recipe and someone said it's better if you make it the day before and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. I couldn't do that but I made it first thing on Friday morning and let it cool, then I put it in the frig until 4:30 or so and finished the dish at that time. To finish the dish I heated it through and then you remove the meat and strain out the vegetables. Reserve some of the cooking liquid to add to the toasted orzo and reduce the rest to pour over the shanks when you
serve it. The tomatoes are slow roasted in a low oven. To make the toasted orzo, you toast 1/2 of the orzo in a dry skillet and then basically cook it like a risotto which is slowly ladling in hot stock or water in this case, and stirring until cooked through. Add butter, fresh parsley and reserved braising liquid at the end.

Strawberry and Rhubarb Pie with Rose Chip Ice Cream
This whole dessert was not one of my best. It was just OK. I was following a recipe that got 5 stars and everyone raved. I didn't like the crust, I should have made my own that I usually do and it always tastes good and flaky. The filling was too watery and no where near as good as my mother-in-law's (I will have to get her recipe). For the ice cream part, I had to use that rose water, like I said above. The ice cream it self was good, it's a basic vanilla ice cream but I made the rose water chips. You may or may not know that chocolate and water don't mix, but if you get a drop of water in chocolate the way to fix it and to make it smooth is to add more water. I melted the white chocolate over a double boiler and added 1 tsp of rose water and it separated and it wasn't pretty. I added another tsp and it was better and then I added another tsp and it seemed fine. I put a drop of rose food coloring in and spread it out on a Silpat and then froze it. Cut it into squares or "chips". They tasted like white chocolate with a hint of rose which was OK but, it was the "chewy" texture that was the problem. I went through with my plan anyway and added the "rose chips" to the ice cream after it was done churning and put it in the freezer. It was OK but from the start I wasn't excited about it and I should have listened to myself and made something different.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Friday Night, steak au poivre

To come up with a Friday night menu every week is, sometimes, not so easy. It's got to be something I have never made before or a different way to cook something that I have made before. This is my way of teaching myself to become a better cook and at the same time, make something that makes us say wow, this is sooo incredibly delicious!!! This week I didn't know what to do, and then I watched a Jamie at home show on beets and carrots. He was raving about roasting vegetables with the addition of vinegar which is unusual. I almost always just toss vegetables with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 400 until they are done. NY Strip steak was on sale and I had some potatoes I had to use up before going bad. Flipping through my recipes that I wanted to make I came across Ina's (Barefoot Contessa) "Mixed Berry Cheesecake".

Crostini with lemon cottage cheese and tomato salad
On the same Jamie at home show, he made this cottage cheese, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper, olive oil and fresh lemon thyme combination and spooned it over a steak and beet dish as a sauce. I thought I would make it but use it on top of a crostini, (a favorite appetizer of mine) and a simple cherry tomato salad where I quartered the tomatoes and dressed them with olive oil, salt, pepper, white wine vinegar and fresh basil. I topped the toasted french bread slices with the two toppings after rubbing a clove of garlic on the toast first.

NY Strip Steak Au Poivre.
After looking on food for steak Au Poivre recipes, they are all similar with the peppercorns and the cream sauce with cognac, but they are all made in a pan and you make the sauce from the drippings in the pan. I wanted to grill my steaks, so I did and instead of making the sauce from the drippings I heated the olive oil in a pan and added shallots and green peppercorns (they are in a liquid and look a lot like capers in a little jar). Cooked the shallots a little and added the heavy cream and cognac, reduced for a minute and finished it with Dijon mustard and salt. While plating the steaks, I poured any of the juices that collected on the serving dish into the cognac and cream sauce, and then spooned that over the steaks.

Roasted red and yellow beets with balsamic glaze and roasted potato fries.
On Jamie's show he says to par-boil the veg and then roast. I decided not to par-boil the beets but to par-roast them. I rinsed and dried the beet roots and placed them into a couple sheets of aluminum foil, sealing tightly. I placed the aluminum pouch on a sheet pan and roasted for about 40 minutes at 400 degrees. The beets were almost done but not quite. I removed the skin and sliced each beet root into about 6-8 wedges, depending on the size of the beet. I tossed them with olive oil, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar and fresh rosemary leaves. I did that ahead of time and about 1/2 hour before dinner I heated up a sheet pan in a 450 degree oven so it got really hot then I poured the beets onto the hot sheet pan to get them really crispy on the outsides and finish cooking on the insides. Jamie was right the vinegar is a great addition to roasting.

The roasted potato fries were peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch french fries, and I par-boiled them for 5-10 minutes. I drained well and added olive oil, lemon thyme, salt and pepper to them and I added those to the same hot pan as the beets went in and they took the same amount of time to cook. I'll take that over deep fried any day!

Mixed berry cheesecake
This was a recipe I printed a while ago with the idea that I would make it someday and I have to say it was simple and extremely good. The thing that has stopped me in the past is that it has to be started the day before so it can slowly cool and then chill overnight in the refrigerator. I may have made a cheesecake before but not in a long time. After making this one I will be making it again and again. After making and cooling the cheesecake you combine raspberry jelly (heated) with sliced strawberries, raspberries and blueberries and spoon it over the whole cake, chill and serve and all I can say is wow!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Friday Night,Lamb Loin Chops

Easter is this weekend and there has been a lot of recipes recently with lamb because of that. So even though I never had lamb (I may have tasted a bite of Tony's one time when we went out), I started thinking that should be the main dish. I always thought it would be gamey, but the lamb loin chop wasn't at all. I was pleasantly surprised.

Prosciutto, broad bean and goat cheese crostini

Jamie Oliver now has his own magazine. I love Jamie, he knows his food. Tony brought home the first Jamie magazine on a recent trip to the book store, this was one of the recipes he had in that magazine. You toast 1/4 inch slices of ciabatta bread on both sides under the broiler or on a grill then rub one side with a garlic clove. Top each toast with a mixture of goat cheese, lemon juice, lemon zest and salt and pepper (mix it up until it becomes spreadable). Over that he tears apart pieces of panchetta and cooks it until it starts to turn brown (I used prosciutto) add broad beans or adamame and cook a few more minutes. After dressing the bean and prosciutto with a combination of lemon juice and olive oil salt and pepper, spoon the bean mixture over the cheese. Top with chopped red chili and fresh tarragon leaves. Really good combination and a good way to start off the dinner.

Grilled Lamb Loin Chops with tarragon pesto and warm goat cheese sauce
You're going to think I can't make a meal with out using goat cheese. We do love it, but this time it was part of a recipe I was following. I marinated the lamb for an hour in garlic, fresh rosemary, cayenne, salt and olive oil. Grilled the lamb or 3-4 minutes on each side and finished in 400 degree oven for another 5 minutes. It came out medium rear to medium, which turned out to be perfect, usually I am a medium-well kind of girl but I loved it that way. The pesto was fresh tarragon, garlic, Parmesan, chopped pecans, chicken stock, olive oil, salt and pepper all buzzed up in a food processor. I loved the tarragon pesto. Warm goat cheese sauce turned out to be not necessary in my opinion. The sauce was just softened goat cheese 6 Tbsp to 4 Tbsp heavy cream heated in a small saucepan. It was OK, I probably won't do it again.

Roasted Mustard Sage Sweet Potatoes and Roasted French Beans
I liked these sweet potatoes. It's sliced sweet potatoes (1/4 inch disks), olive oil, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, fresh sage leaves, salt and pepper, all tossed together and roast in a 375 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until they start to brown. The roasted french beans were simply tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted along with the sweet potatoes (in a separate pan) until they were done which took about 25 minutes.

Caramel cinnamon apple pie served with house made Tuaca Ice Cream
Dessert is always my favorite part of the meal and it has to be great because it's the last thing you taste and it makes the biggest impression. I first thought that I would make Tuaca ice cream. Tuaca is a liquor that, to me, tastes like butterscotch or caramel and it's good to sip but I keep thinking that it would be a good ingredient for a dessert. So I decided to add some to a custard type homemade ice cream, I added just 1 tablespoon, it was subtle, but it was definitely there and it was delicious. I thought I would look for something to accompany the ice cream that was caramelly or butterscotchy, so after looking around on food I found "Caramel Cinnamon Graham Apple Pie with Caramel Pecan Cream", courtesy of David Armes. I didn't make the caramel pecan cream part but I made the crust which was made with shortening instead of my normal butter recipe. The apple pie with the cinnamon graham cracker "crumble" on top was very nice. The apple's were tossed with a whole cup of sugar, where usually you would use 1/3 cup or so. I was worried it would be too sweet but it wasn't at all. I used gala apples. Overall, another wonderful Friday night dinner! Now what will I do next week????

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Friday Night in Spain

I had come across some really good saffron and that's what started this menu. It's a Spanish ingredient, so from there I found some Spanish olive oil and then I went home and searched the internet for Spanish dishes. Between the internet and the new issue of Bon Appetit (May 2009) came the menu. Bon Appetit had Spanish-style pork rib roast with pan roasted romesco sauce. I found the saffron rice, raw artichoke salad, sangria and churros on the internet.

Cheese Plate
Spain is famous for "tapas", small dishes of tasty food. I considered doing that but decided instead that I would do a cheese plate. On the plate I had Aged Mohon cheese to serve with crackers, Piquillo peppers stuffed with Carpricho De Cabra goat cheese, lemon garlic olives and Marcona almonds.

Blood Orange Sangria
You can't serve a Spanish meal and not have sangria on the menu. I found this and it's "Neely's Sangria" from the Food Network, but after re-reading the ingredients later I realized that I had skipped the 1 cup blood orange juice, so basically it's red wine, brandy, sugar and slices of blood orange and slices of lemon. It was just fine without the blood orange juice.

Raw Artichoke Salad
Tony liked this but I have to say raw artichokes aren't my thing. It was OK, but I would have liked the artichokes cooked. It's from Jose Andres' show Made In Spain. It's thin slices of raw artichoke, orange segments, frisee lettuce and a dressing made from orange juice, sherry vinegar and Spanish olive oil.

Pork Chops with Romesco Sauce
In the Bon Appetit magazine they make a whole pork rib roast, but I just got 2 bone-in pork chops. First I brined the pork overnight (20 hours), then rubbed on a paste made with olive oil, garlic, salt , pepper, fresh marjoram and Spanish smoked paprika. Let that sit in the refrigerator for a couple hours. When it was time to cook the pork I heated a pan with oil and seared the pork on one side, flipped them over and then put the pan right into a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes. When the pork was done, I moved them to a plate and covered them with foil while I finished the romesco sauce. I deglazed the pan with Sherry and reduced. Once reduced I poured the sherry sauce into a combination of roasted red peppers, garlic, plum tomato, Marcona almonds and fresh breadcrumbs that was already cooked in the oven and blended in a food processor. Then I poured the sauce over the pork chops...delicious!

Saffron Rice
This starts out by sweating some onion and red bell pepper and salt in olive oil, for 7 minutes then add garlic, paprika and rice. After a minute add wine. Then canned tomatoes in their juice, chicken broth, saffron and a bay leaf. Cook until the rice is done and at the end add pimiento stuffed green olives and taste for seasoning. Saffron had a very floral taste, I want to try it again with out so many other flavors that compete with the saffron taste.

Churros Served with Dark Chocolate Sauce
This recipe is from Chocofateria San Gines in Madrid Spain. Basically it's a choux pastry, which I have made many times, and you spoon the pastry into a piping bag and you squeeze 4 inch strips of pastry into the hot oil and deep fry for about 5 minutes. After draining on paper towels you roll them into a combination of cinnamon and sugar. The chocolate sauce is a combination of milk, bittersweet chocolate, sugar and corn starch, cooked together until slightly thickened. You serve the warm churros with the warm chocolate sauce. Very nice.