Saturday, March 28, 2009

Friday Night Menu, Comfort food

Oven Fried Chicken, Mashed Cream Cheese Potatoes, Sausage Pecan Stuffing, Cranberry Golden Raisin Chutney and Steamed Green Beans
I have recently organized all recipes I wanted to try from Martha Stewart magazines and I made this whole menu from 3 different issues. The oven chicken is from the August 2008 issue, It's a great recipe I made it one other time for the neighbors and the one problem was that the breast meat was dry, so this time I made only legs and thighs and it was fantastic! You marinate the chicken in eggs, Tabasco, garlic and an onion. Then it's coated in wondra flour, yellow cornmeal, salt, paprika and cayenne pepper then baked for a total of 50-60 minutes, brushing with olive oil towards the end, you would never know it's not deep fried.

Mashed cream cheese potatoes are yummy too, from November 2008. Normally I would never beat potatoes in the Kitchen Aid, but as long as you do it quickly, they turn out creamy and not gummy at all (which can happen if you mix it too much you will develop the gluten), you just beat in the cream cheese and butter at room temperature, milk and cream (heated) salt and pepper.

Sausage pecan stuffing, also from November 2008, was a winner. We will definitely make this one for the next Thanksgiving meal. I am not normally a mushroom person but I have been eating cremini mushrooms lately and they are pretty good. This recipe has hot Italian sausage in it and we don't mind the spice but some people might like to use half sweet and half hot for a happy medium.

Cranberry golden raisin chutney from the same November 2008 is also good, I couldn't find fresh cranberries at the store, not even the frozen ones so I just added a couple handfuls of dried cranberries and since they are already sweetened I just added a couple Tbsp of sugar instead of the 1/2 Cup the recipe called for. There is also an apple cut up in this recipe which helps with the sweetness. With all the changes it was really good.

The steamed green beans are just steamed until perfection and a drizzle of olive oil salt and pepper to finish them off.

Chocolate Bunt Cake with White Chocolate Whipped Cream and Fresh Blackberry Sauce
This bunt cake is in the December 2008 magazine and every time I flipped through the pages and saw that cake it made my mouth water so I finally made it. Instead of the chocolate glaze that the recipe has, I decided to just dust it with confectioners sugar. I had just gotten some blackberries for a great price so I wanted to use them somehow. I was looking at Food Network's site and I came across one of Bobby Flay's recipes (of course, he loves his blackberries), and it was blackberry-white chocolate fool with toasted hazelnuts. I broke it down and just did the blackberries macerated in sugar and cassis (I used chambord), then you mash up half of the berries and strain them. I was also intrigued by the white chocolate whipped cream part, I don't think I ever did that before, really good, it has the texture of whipped cream but the flavor of white chocolate. The combination was quite sinful, I must say.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Friday Night Menu, Gnocchi

Tonight I decided on a salad idea from that restaurant menu, I told you about in my last posting, "Rivoli".

Mixed Baby lettuces with sherry shallot vinaigrette and goat cheese and fig crostini
There were no baby lettuces at the market so I used Watercress and Pea Shoots with a hint of fresh basil Julienne. I also shaved some cucumber into the greens (outside only, no seeds) and a few grape tomatoes cut into quarters. Tossed with a sherry shallot dressing that I made with shallots, sherry vinegar, mustard, honey, salt and pepper. I cut 1/4 inch slices of french baguette and lightly toasted them under the broiler. Topped with some fresh goat's cheese and fig Preserves (Bonne Maman, it's in with all the jams and jellies in the little jar with the red and white checkered top), place under the broiler and melt the cheese a little. Loved the combination in the salad and the crostini was delicious and easy.

Veal Ragu with Homemade Potato Gnocchi
This was in the February Martha Stewart magazine. I have been wanting to make homemade potato gnocchi and so finally I did it. It was so easy, the trick is to not overwork the dough, just get it together and roll it into a log and cut 1/2 pieces off of it. Make ridges with the fork and freeze. It boils up it 4 minutes and it's tender and not as heavy as you may have had before. The Ragu was easy, I planned on getting the veal shanks, like the recipe calls for, but they were so expensive at the market, then I saw veal stew meat, so I got 2 Lbs of that and it was plenty of meat for the full recipe. It was just how you want it to be, tender tender tender.

Candied-Fennel topped Lemon Cake
The April Gourmet Magazine had this dessert featured. Actually, I don't know if I would have made it if Tony didn't comment on how he thought it looks good. It was different but actually very good. The candied fennel is hard to cut through with the side of a fork but it tasted really good. I might cut it up and not worry about the fennel design so much, just to make it easier to eat, but really good with whipped cream.

Fri, Sat and Sun the 13th, 14th and 15th of March

I am typing this late but this weekend was a little different. Tony went to his friend Joe's house on Friday so no regular Friday Night Meal was made.

Saturday was at a neighbors house for a St Patrick's Day get together. I made some pot stickers made with ground pork, ginger, garlic, cilantro, soy sauce and silken tofu and a sesame and simple syrup dipping sauce and Chicken and Cheese Spring rolls; I combine pre-cooked chicken that I cut up and mix in equal amounts of grated Pepper Jack cheese, scallions and soy sauce. I like to use the spring roll wrappers from the oriental market for this. Roll and shallow fry in oil until you get a nice golden brown color. I made an avocado and sour cream dip with lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Sunday, I have this new thing that I have been doing where I print menu's from the Internet and using only the description, I try to make the dish. I could be spot on or I could be way off, but I end up sometimes making something I have never made before. I had printed the menu for "Rivoli", a restaurant in California. So Sunday I made
  • Slow braised pork roast with chocolate, chilies and pine nuts
  • Corn spoon bread souffle
  • Green beans
  • Lemon cream and pine nut and parsley persillade

How would you make that? It came out OK. I loved the corn spoon bread souffle, I ended up finding a recipe in the Joy of Cooking and I just added some frozen corn. I didn't use the right cut of pork, I was thinking pork roast when I was at the store and I got a pork loin, it should have been pork shoulder or butt. Persillade is a French thing where they chop parsley and fresh garlic together and sprinkle it over a dish just before it is done, so I toasted some pine nuts and chopped pine nuts, parsley and garlic together and sprinkled it over the pork, I loved all the flavor that came from that, and I will do that again. Lemon cream... that could be taken different ways, I chose to just mix sour cream, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper.

Before this weekend I made a couple other things from the same menu on a couple different nights after work...

  • Roast pear and ricotta raviolini with brown butter, toasted walnuts, fried sage and Parmesan
  • Roast chicken roulade stuffed with wild mushrooms and herbs, served with potato leek gratin, butternut squash puree and broccolini

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Friday Night Birthday, Swordfish

Anybody who knows me knows that I am not a seafood fan, but I am trying to make myself like some seafood's. I tried a piece of Tony's swordfish one time at The Mill's Tavern in Providence RI, it was a big step but I thought it didn't taste fishy at all and I liked it. Tony's 38th birthday was Friday and he loves sushi and seafood. Usually he only has seafood when we go out someplace. I thought I would surprise him with a seafood dinner. For the appetizer I got sushi for him at Whole Foods.

For the main dish I grilled a swordfish steak with olive oil, salt and pepper and while it was still hot off the grill I topped it with a lemon and garlic sauce that I made in my mortar and pestle; (2-3 garlic cloves, good pinch of kosher salt, zest of 1 lemon, the juice of 1 lemon, black pepper and olive oil). For sides I did Tyler Florance's Scalloped Potato Gratin, I also did some bacon bits that I pre-cooked and added between the layer's. Excellent recipe. The vegetable was Shaved Fennel and Dill Salad (seasoned with lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and I toasted fennel seeds and then ground them and added a good amount, about 1 tsp, just to kick up the fennel flavor). I did the salad a couple of hours ahead and chilled in the refrigerator; it's good to do that so the flavors marry and the fennel becomes a little limp (in a good way).

For dessert I had just gotten the new Gourmet Magazine (April, 2009) and they had this recipe, that Tony and I both commented on, that it looks good: Coffee-Chocolate Layer Cake with Mocha-Mascarpone Frosting...(I had to make a birthday cake). We were right, it is good...really good! The same magazine had a recipe for Creme Fraiche Sorbet, so I made that to go along with the cake. Wow you must try the sorbet if you can. Really easy to make and wakes up your taste buds.

Check out the photo's below!