Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Friday Night Bites #4

I have been making these "Bites" and we are always very full by the time dessert is ready to be served so I made one less course this week, an it was perfect. I wanted to use pearl cous-cous somehow, I wasn't sure but I pictured it being suspended in a gelatin or something. After doing some research on gelatin and reading about "aspic", I decided to do this. Aspic is a savory jelly made from clarified stock and gelatin. This "clear jelly" is used as a base for molded dishes, where you can add fish, poultry, meats or eggs. You can serve it cubes as an accompaniment relish to cold meats or fish.

Sunset Borscht Aspic with Pearl Cous-Cous and Sauteed Beet Greens

Borscht is a beet soup that can include meat but I didn't want the meat. I wanted to make a "red jelly" and suspend the pearls of cous-cous in it. I bought a bunch of red beets and a bunch of yellow beets. I roasted off the beets, separately, a day ahead (just to save time). On Friday I chopped up the beets and added just one color at a time into a sauce pan that included chopped leeks softened in olive oil and about 1-2 cups of homemade chicken stock. I cooked this mixture together with salt and pureed it up with my emursion blender, then I strained it to remove any solids ( I wanted it to look like "stained glass" when I was done). I reheated the clear red liquid and added about a tsp of gelatin that I softened in 2 Tbsp of cold water for 5 minutes. Once the gelatin dissolved into the red liquid I removed it from the heat. In 6 oiled ramekins I sprinkled in some cooked cous-cous maybe about 1-2 Tbsp in each, then I spooned in some of the red aspic. I put the ramekins in the refrigerator and chilled while I did the same exact thing with the yellow beets. About an hour later I spooned the yellow aspic over the red aspic with a bit more cous-cous and placed them in the refrigerator to harden completely. When I was ready to serve I dipped the ramekins in hot water to help dislodge the aspic from the ramekin onto the plate. I topped it with sour cream mixed with lemon juice, salt and pepper. I also sauteed some of the beet greens in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, and at the end I added red wine vinegar. I called it "Sunset" because the two colors; red and yellow, looks like a sunset. This turned out to be pretty damn good.

Homemade Pork Sausage with Cannellini Beans

I planned on getting a pork shoulder for this but I saw the "country style pork chops" and they looked like they had a good amount of fat on them ( which is what you want when you make sausage, fat) so I got them. I should have gotten the shoulder. The flavor of these were great, I followed one of Emeril's recipes ( I really haven't made enough sausage mixtures to be sure of myself). Like I said the flavor was great but they were a little too dry to be considered perfect.

Grilled flank steak with homemade tortillas and cucumber kimchi
I saw some good looking flank steak at Whole Foods and thought I would do something with it. I decided to marinate it first thing in the morning and grill it on the charcoal grill later. I found a recipe for homemade flour tortilla's and made that. The problem was that I wanted it to be soft and fresh, that's why I made them from scratch, but it tuned out that when they cooled down they became crispy. They were still very good but I wanted SOFT! I kept it simple, I wanted the flank steak to be the star so I didn't do anything else but a wedge of really good blue cheese, which was the perfect thing to put there. Along side I made a cucumber kimchi. Tony loved kimchi the last time I made it with cabbage so I happened to come across a picture of cucumber kimchi in a magazine earlier in the week. I looked through a bunch of magazines trying to find it and I couldn't find it. I said, "I don't need no stinkin' recipe, I can figure this out". I had a recipe for a quick kimchi that was from a Bobby Flay show in my files, so I used that as a guide to make my own. I combined julienned cucumber in a bowl with garlic, red pepper hot sauce, ginger, rice vinegar, water and scallions. Cover the bowl and let it sit at room temperature for an hour and it's ready. I hollowed out a small section of cucumber and filled it in with the julienned cucumber mixture. I served that along side the flank steak with a radish rose garnish.

Zeppole with homemade strawberry rhubarb jam

Someone at work asked me if I ever made a zeppole. I didn't really know what it was, so no I didn't. After doing some research I found that it's just an Italian Doughnut. Recipes on the Internet were all in Italian so I found a recipe on from the show "Follow that Food", that looked like the ones I saw Italian women making on You Tube. It's a basic yeast doughnut dough. I have seen three different ways they do it. One is with a Pate Au Choux pastry dough, which is the same pastry you make a cream puff with. The second one is similar to a potato gnocchi dough with the addition of sugar and yeast in it. The last was is a sweet yeast dough, without the potato and that's what seemed to be the best way so I did that one. I fried them in some hot oil just when we were ready for dessert, so they would be fresh and hot. I coated them in a sugar and cinnamon combination when they are freshly drained out of the hot oil. I also got some fresh rhubarb from my brother-in-laws fantastic garden on a recent trip to visit my mother-in-law, so I had to make a strawberry-rhubarb jam to go with the zeppole. I just cut it open like you would a bun for a sandwich and filled it with the jam.

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