Sunday, April 25, 2010
What do we look for when we go out? We want good food and different flavors and not necessarily a "meal". That's what I have been doing right along, an appetizer, main dish with a veg and starch then dessert, but you know what? We don't always want a meal. Maybe a spicy bite here and an acidic bite there and maybe a meaty bite... that's what we want.
Spinach and Artichoke Flat bread
Salmon Rillette [ree-YEHTS] with Toast
This came from "The best thing I ever ate" show. I think it was Tyler Florance that raved about this dish from "The French Laundry" restaurant ran by Thomas Keller in California. They don't give the exact recipes on this show but they give you a quick look at the basic way they do it and I watched closely and I think I may have been right on. It was really delicious. Here is what I did...1/2 Lb salmon steamed in a Pernod for about 8-10 minutes then let it cool and break it into pieces (not too much). Add the steamed salmon to a bowl then add 1/2- 3/4 cup half inch dice of smoked salmon. Soften minced shallots in butter and cook over medium heat for 5-10 minutes let it cool then add it to the salmon. To the bowl add about 2-3 Tbsp Creme Fraiche, 1-2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 egg yolk, juice of 1 lemon, salt and pepper to taste. Mix gently together and taste for seasoning. Pack it into a short fat glass (he used a cute little mason jar with a flip top lid) and pour over the top about 1/4-1/2 inch of clarified butter. Chill for an hour and serve with slices of toasted French Baguette. When you serve you remove the butter in one piece and put it on the side and you can spread the butter and/or the salmon rillette on your toast. It tastes like a fancy restaurant dish.
Braised Pork Belly and Frisee
Fried Soft Boiled Egg over Stewed Vegetables
I served this on the same plate as the braised pork. We were watching Iron Chef and the ingredient was basil. One of the chef's made some stewed vegetables and topped it with a deep fried soft boiled egg that was breaded. So I said "Ooo I'll do that"! I soft boiled an egg for 6 minutes and let it cool in cold water. Tap the whole egg with the back of a spoon and starting at the fat end of the egg start to peel carefully under cool water and it takes a minute but you can easily peel it. I chilled the eggs until I was ready to fry them a few hours later. I made some stewed vegetables by just throwing into a sauce pan; green and red peppers, baby tomatoes, basil, onions, olive oil, splash of red wine vinegar and salt. I covered it and just cooked it slowly until the vegetables looked delicious. When I was ready to serve I breaded the eggs with flour, egg and bread crumbs then deep fried for about one minute until it's golden in color and the inside warms through. Wow the egg on top of the vegetables and when you cut into it and it oozzes, it's something else. Who knew?
Sweet and Tangy Salad in Endive Cups with Mignonette Sauce
Martini Ice Cream with Candied Olives
Originally I was planning to make 3 mini examples of homemade ice cream of flavors we never tasted in ice cream (I will save that for another time). To get ideas I was looking through my "Food Lover's Companion" book and I saw Gin, it explains how they make it and what other flavors go into it. It's made with juniper berries (which we just happened to have in the spice cabinet), anise, caraway seed, cardamom, cinnamon, citrus peel, coriander seeds, ginger root and a couple other things I wouldn't be able to get. I thought that I would crush all these different flavors in my mortar and pestle and then steep them in the milk of the ice cream for 30 minutes and proceed with making ice cream as I normally would. But this gave me another idea. If I make ice cream that tastes like gin I will have to serve it in a martini glass (Tony drinks his martini's with gin not vodka so this was just a natural thought). And you can't just do that you have to have something that would be the olive... Well what if I just candy some real olives... That's what I did. I made a simple syrup and just gently cooked olives over low heat for about an hour. When I tasted them while they were warm they were great, a sweet olive, perfect! I put it together and put the martini glasses in the freezer. The ice cream was delicious but you don't think gin when you taste it, you think cardamom with some other flavors. The olives when frozen and next to the sweet ice cream tasted too savory, almost like I didn't candy them at all.
I would normally use my LeCruset heavy bottomed cast iron enamel covered pot for something like this and just brown the meat in two batches. Instead though, Anthony Bourdain used a heavy bottomed roasting pan spread over two burners on the stove top, it saves time to do it with the roasting pan. The reason is because when you brown the beef chunks, you really need to space them out a bit, otherwise you will end up with a tan color on the beef and it will turn watery and start to steam, and that is not what you want. So I browned some 2 inch pieces of chuck beef on all sides in a little bit of olive oil, which takes about 10 minutes or so. Remove the meat pieces to a plate and pour off the extra fat. Place the pan back on the heat and add an onion that's medium diced. Cook the onion over medium heat, scraping the brown bits and making sure the onions don't burn for about 10 minutes. Add Burgundy wine (about 2-3 cups, he didn't really say but that's what I did) and continue scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add big 1 inch chunks of carrots and the meat back in and just let it cook for 3 hours. Now that's when I was worried about evaporation, he never said he covered it but I took a big sheet of parchment paper and wet it, squeeze out the excess water and put it right on the stew, tucking it along the inside of the pan and every 30 minutes I removed the parchment and stirred it and replaced the parchment. It was still evaporating a little so I had made some beef stock a week earlier, it was sitting in the freezer, so I heated it to defrost it and reduced it down a bit. After it was reduced I added the stock to the stew when it needed it. I don't know if Anthony Bourdain did that, but I would suggest you do that. If you add more wine later on it won't taste very good, and you want a nice meaty sauce in your Boeuf Bourguignonne, it won't be good if it's dried out. That's it, after cooking for 3 hours the meat is very tender and the sauce is rich and tasty. Plate it in a shallow bowl and garnish with fresh parsley.
Homemade Basket of Flavored Breads and Butters
After going to the Mill's Tavern last week and getting a basket of flavored breads, it inspired me to do it myself. I have been making bread lately from Jim Lahey's book, the no-kneed method. At the restaurant they served a fennel and raisin bread, a sourdough and an Italian bread. I had a thought one day that the spice fennugreek (which has a maple syrup flavor) would pair well with bacon. So I thought I would do two breads; the fennel and raisin; the fennugreek and bacon. I cooked the ingredients ahead and after the second rise of the dough when I was shaping them into the final bread shape, I incorporated the ingredients to make the two flavors. The butters were just a really good European style butter which has a higher percentage of fat, and in turn it tastes really good. The other butter was something I never had and I kind of knew it might not go with Boeuf Bourguignonne but I made it anyway was, apple butter. It's apples and cider, sugar and spices and you cook it down until it gets really thick, which takes 2 1/2 to 3 hours. It was really good, I think it would be perfect with pork.
Mixed Berry Tart with Coffee
I have made lots of tarts... apple, peach, chocolate... I don't believe I have ever made a berry tart with pastry cream. I can't believe it myself! If I did it was a long time ago. So I got John Barricelli's new book, he is a guy that Martha Stewart has made famous. He's on her shows once in a while and he's like the 3rd generation of bakers in his family. He's got a bakery in Connecticut called The Sono Baking Company. He's got some good looking pictures of this berry tart in his book, I had to make it. I wanted to make the smaller tartlet shapes but I couldn't find the mini pans you need in the couple days I had, so I just used a bigger 12 inch tart pan. It's really easy to do and impressive looking. The one thing I would change is the crust, I made his which is very different than I usually do, his is a much more wet dough. So you make the dough and "blind bake" it, and let it cool. You make a pastry cream, which is simple and delicious. Use whatever berries you want, I used black berries and raspberries. To assemble just spread the pastry cream onto the cooled off tart crust, heat a couple Tbsp of apricot jam and coat the berries in the jam then spoon the berries over the top of the tart. Sprinkle some sliced almonds on the edges. Serve it with a rich cup of coffee.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
I had plans to go to Boston on Friday morning with a friend so I thought, instead of rushing to put together a fancy meal after returning home from Boston, I would take this opportunity to suggest going out to dinner. Tony is always saying, "You know if you don't feel like cooking we can always go out...". It turns out we never went to Boston because it was such a rainy and raw day. So we kept our plan to go out anyway and we decided that the Mills Tavern in Providence was the place.
The options for an appetizer are limited. They have a "raw bar" and Tony always takes advantage of that, he got some oysters, which he always enjoys very much. He says they have extra good ones there. For me it's a salad. I have probably gotten all of them and they are always pretty big and can be filling so I opted for the mixed greens with raspberry vinaigrette. It's a good size and not filling at all. They served some mixed breads, raisin with fennel seeds, sourdough and Italian. It's hard to resist trying each of them.
I ordered the Filet Mignon with a grilled duo of beets. I was drawn to it because the Filet was served bone-on which you never see. Usually it's cut off the bone so I thought, I have to see what this looks like. I have made porterhouse steaks many times and basically that the same cut with the NY Strip still attached to it. So that was very flavorful, delicious and moist. The beets were interesting, it was red and yellow beets and you could see the grill marks on them. They had a very interesting and pleasant smokey flavor. Tony will be trying to recreate them on his smoker some time.
Tony ordered the Braised Short Ribs with Orange flavored Fennel. Of course we had a bite or two of each others and his was really yummy. Super tender, meaty short ribs and the fennel cooked perfectly with what seemed to be grated orange zest as the orange flavor, very interesting. I'll be stealing that idea.
We shared a side of Sweet Potato and Carrot puree. It was very fall tasting because it had a strong Cinnamon flavor to it. It paired nicely with both of our meals.
For dessert we shared the Cream Brulee with Warm Berry Compote. Very nice with the warm raspberry over the top, it could have used more berries. I will be stealing that idea too.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Fontina Stuffed Risotto Cakes
Caramel Brownies with Fleur de Sel and Deep Fried Dulce de Leche Ice Cream
On the show "The Best Thing I Ever Ate", someone was saying they loved the brownies at this place in NYC, where they made these brownies and layered in the middle of the batter some caramel sauce. I saw that episode a few weeks ago and I have been thinking about them ever since. I gave it a go and they were tremendous brownies but the layer of caramel got lost in the batter somehow. They showed them pouring in the caramel before baking them off and I think they made a thicker caramel and maybe they put more than I did. Then I thought well I can't just have a brownie for dessert on a Friday Night so I thought of every one's favorite thing...ice cream... but what can I do different? "How about fried ice cream, I have heard of it, I never did that"!! So I looked it up and came across some "You Tube" videos and basically there are two ways of doing it. You can either cover a scoop of ice cream with slices of pound cake and fry it or do what I did and that was coating it with corn flakes mixed with a little bit of sugar then egg wash then more cornflakes and sugar, freezing the balls between to make sure they are really hard and frozen then you fry them in canola oil very quickly (before any ice cream leaks out and splashes everywhere). I did it and in 30 seconds they were golden brown and delicious. It was interesting but I don't know if I would do it again, I am happy with just a scoop of ice cream. But now I can check -Fried Ice Cream- off the list.