Sunday, April 25, 2010

Friday Night Bites

This week I did something a little bit crazy...and I liked it!
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

Tony and I went to the mall last week and we ate at a place called "The Met Bar". We saw a show one time where they talked about the unique way they cook their burgers, with a vertical grill. We ate there before and wanted to go back. This time we had an appetizer first called "Spinach and Artichoke Flat bread" that I decided to recreate. We have all had spinach and artichoke dip but this was interesting. I made some pizza dough, I made spinach and artichoke dip and you just roll out the dough fairly thin and put it on an oiled sheet pan, I did a long rectangle shape. Spread out the spinach and artichoke as you would do tomato sauce on pizza dough, about 1/2 inch thick. Drizzle with a little olive oil and grate some Parmesan cheese over. Put into a 500 degree oven and about 15-20 minutes later it's done, when the crust gets golden. They also had some crispy, deep fried artichoke pieces on top, only a few, so that's what I did too. I made a little tempura batter and just used artichokes from a can that were packed in water, just one that I quartered.

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

In case you didn't notice, pork belly is big now in fancy restaurants and I come across it more and more when I flip through food magazines. It's the same cut that bacon is made from but it's not smoked it's braised. I am not one to enjoy a lot of this kind of thing because let's face it, it's mostly fat. But when we went to NYC on our restaurant hopping trip a couple months back, this was something we had at Momofuko restaurant, and it's very good in small bites. But the problem is that it's usually sold in a big slab, too big for just Tony and I. So I came across this small package of Salt Pork (which is the same cut) that was pre sliced and it was kind of meaty looking. I didn't know what I would do with it at the time but then it came to me. I could do something Julia Child would do to bacon when she wanted to remove some of the smoke flavor, except I want to remove some of the salt. I will boil it then treat it like it's just a small piece of pork belly. So I found a recipe that Emeril has on Food and I followed it. It's marinated over night in orange juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, lemon and lime juice, garlic and ginger, green onions, sambal and chicken stock. Braise it in the oven for a couple hours and chill it for 6 hours then reheat it. It's really good, Tony loved it. Perfect for a small bite and I served it with frisee lettuce dressed with rice wine vinegar and salt and pepper.

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

I wanted to do something light amongst all the other "bites" and I also wanted to use Mignonette sauce. Tony loves this sauce with his oysters at Mills Tavern, every time he gets them he's always loving the sauce. So I came across a recipe which is just 1 minced shallot, 1/4 cup sherry vinegar, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. I don't think I will ever have oysters so what can I do? I thought I would do some different exotic fruits and vegetables all cut into 1/4 inch dice and use the leaves of the endive lettuce as the vehicle. So I cut up some kiwi, green grapes, Bosc pear, fresh mint and golden beets that I roasted ahead of time. I squeezed the juice of a half a lemon into the bowl just to prevent the pear from browning. I spooned the mixture into the endive leaves and put it in the refrigerator until I was ready to serve. Just before serving I spooned the mignonette sauce on top and around the endive "boats". We loved the combination of everything and I think it was a good way to use the 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.

1 comment:

  1. Being a guest at your Friday night meal was wonderful. the portion sizes were perfect an excellent job.