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.