Saturday, September 18, 2010

Friday Night Bites #11

Last Friday night we went to The Mills Tavern restaurant in Providence and it was fantastic as usual. We used some Hilton Honors points and stayed in Providence for the night, neither one of us wanted to behave and not drink.

This week I did some "bites". I had the "mortadella bignet" idea left over from "Friday Night Bites #10", it was another idea from Marc Vetri from his restaurant in Philadelphia. Dessert was something I have been wanting to do from our Chicago trip. We had a ricotta and chocolate chip filled sweet brioche as a dessert at "The Purple Pig". I wanted to use black truffle butter that I saw at Whole Foods somewhere and so I came up with an egg yolk ravioli to bath in the butter. The blue cheese souffle was something I printed off foodnetwork a few years ago and I came across it in my files so I thought I'd finally do that and maybe a salad would go nicely with it. That's it, too many courses is not needed as I am discovering.

Mortadella Bignet (meat donuts)

I started by making the mortadella mousse. I am calling it mousse but all I did was take some pistachios (a handful) and get them really ground up in the food processor, then about 3 big and thick slices of deli mortadella and get that really ground up with the nuts. Then I drizzled in some heavy cream just to make it more luscious and creamy. I put that into a piping bag and put it in the frig so it would be ready for later when it was time to fill the bignet's. For the bignet's I made a savory Choux Paste. Its just a basic recipe with out any sugar, but a little salt in it's place. Choux Paste is butter and flour and eggs basically, it's used to make chocolate eclairs and cream puffs. Then usually you would bake them and fill them but they showed Marc Vetri deep frying them so that's what I did. I put the choux paste into a piping bag and dropped round pieces into the oil and cooked them for 4-5 minutes. Once they come out of the oil I made a small hole in each one with a skewer and then piped in the mortadella mousse. It was fantastic! They were very hard to resist.

Blue Cheese Souffle with Crisp Greens and Toast

I decided to make a salad to go along with the souffle. The souffle was rich and very flavorful and the salad went perfectly with it, it really needs something crisp like a salad. The salad was arugula, red onion, thinly shaved celery cut on the bias and grape tomatoes. I made a dressing that included shallots, sherry vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper and olive oil. The souffle only has 3 ounces of Roquefort cheese and it's the perfect amount, other wise it would be too over powering. The Cheese Souffle is an Ina Garden recipe from the foodnetwork. The toast was a nice loaf from Whole Foods bakery that had sprouted wheat and raisins.

Egg Yolk Ravioli with Black Truffle Butter

I saw someone do this before, with the "mashed potato bed" and then place an egg yolk in the bed. I thought of it when I was coming up with this idea. I just made mashed potato and added in some chives, parsley, butter, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. The pasta dough itself is mostly egg yolk with a little of the whites, all purpose flour, olive oil, salt and pepper and I rolled it out fairly thin. Instead of boiling the ravioli (very delicate with the egg yolk) I decided to take a skillet and put in about 1/2 inch of water with a few tablespoons of the black truffle butter (bought at Whole Foods in the cheese department). I brought the water and butter to a simmer and added in the ravioli. Cover the skillet and allow the ravioli to cook and steam for about 2-3 minutes only. Remove the lid and let the water evaporate a little bit and the truffle butter to coat the ravioli adding another pat of butter at the end. I also added right at the end some pre-cooked panchetta pieces and the dark green parts of a scallion sliced thinly. It was a nice dish.

The next day I fried up the two left over ravioli in olive oil until it was completely heated through and the pasta browned up a little crispy, and some toast on the side for a perfect breakfast. Believe it or not the yolk was still perfectly runny.

Brioche "Cannoli"

I followed an easy recipe for brioche in the Jacques and Julia cookbook, Jacques makes it in the food processor. His was for a savory dish with sausage stuffed in the center but I was doing this sweet version so I added a couple tsp of sugar. After letting it sit overnight in the refrigerator to rise slowly I mixed together the filling which was ricotta cheese, confectioners sugar, vanilla, a tiny bit of whipped heavy cream just to make it creamier and bittersweet chocolate. I rolled out the dough and cut rounds out of the dough. I filled the centers of the dough rounds with as much filling as I could and completely enclosed them, and then placed them into a cupcake pan (which is what it looked like they did at the "Purple Pig" restaurant; above). It was tasty right from the oven but it wasn't the same as the restaurant. The one at the restaurant had a lot of filling and the chocolate was melted and it looked completely enclosed. Mine, I don't know where the filling went, it seems like the cheese became one with the brioche and the filling wasn't there. Like I said it was tasty but I wouldn't make them again, I'll just have to go back to Chicago and get one there!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Friday Night Menu, Bone-in Rib Eye

Tony was off this Friday because of Labor Day and I didn't want to be cooking ALL DAY as usual so I tried to keep the menu simple, but somehow I ended up cooking most of the day anyway.

Antipasto Plate
We usually think of an antipasto as a salad (I do anyway). But in my book "Food Lover's Companion" the definition for antipasto is "before the meal", it can include hot or cold hors d'oevres, like cheeses or cured meats or even marinated vegetables. One of the first things I thought of was something I saw someone do on Food TV. This chef sliced about 1/2 inch or so of a honeycomb slab and placed it in the middle of softened blue cheese and she wrapped the whole thing in Nori sheets with the help of a sushi mat. I did something similar but I used Gorgonzola Dolce instead of blue cheese and I used thin slices of prosciutto in place of the Nori. The rest of the plate included some watercress for color, some spicy salami, heirloom tomatoes, chard's of Parmesan reggiano, my version of a stuffed mushroom which is; the stuffing consists of softened onions, garlic and diced mushrooms in butter, some thyme from the garden and salt and pepper, some dried Italian bread crumbs are added to the onion mixture and softened with chicken stock. I then slice clusters of trumpet mushrooms in half and kind of did an "opened faced stuffed mushroom" with the bread stuffing. I sauteed the mushroom halves (that have been topped with stuffing) in a skillet then popped the pan in the oven to finish cooking with a pat of butter over the stuffing. I made some bread too called Fougasse which is kind of a flat bread, but slits are made through out the middle of the dough, which is great for people who like the crusty edges of a bread. I loved this bread, really good, from my Paul Hollywood bread book.

Bone-in Rib Eye
Tony charcoal grilled these while I worked on the sides. These were nice big fat, nicely marbled, grass fed bone-in rib eyes from Whole Foods. When we make a steak we let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes and simply season these with salt, pepper and olive oil. Tony brought them to a perfect medium for him and medium-well for me. I knew they were too big (for me anyway). But we love having leftovers. The rib eye and Fougasse left overs made a good pressed sandwich for lunch the next day.

Leek Bread Pudding
This recipe came from my Thomas Keller cookbook "AD Hoc at Home". It's really a great recipe. It's made with Brioche bread (I used a Portuguese sweet bread), lots of milk, heavy cream and eggs. It also has sauteed leeks and a cheese which I never tried "Comte" which tastes an awful lot like mushrooms. You would swear there is mushrooms in the finished dish because of this cheese. This was a big hit.

Green beans
I simply steamed these and seasoned with butter, salt and pepper.

"Twice Baked" Peach Crepe Souffle with Buttermilk Ice Cream

Years ago my mother-in-law got me a cookbook called "The White Barn Inn Cookbook". I was looking through it this week trying to get ideas for dinner and I came across this Crepe Souffle that sounded really good. The difference is that the recipe in the book was a Rhubarb flavored Crepe Souffle, but they didn't have any rhubarb at the store so I looked around the produce department to find something to use in it's place and they had these good looking organic peaches so I gave them a go. Basically you make some sweet crepes and line a ramekin with them after butter and sugar goes in the ramekins. You make a souffle mixture that includes Calvados, the peaches pureed, eggs, sugar and milk. The eggs are separated and you add the yolks at one point then the whites are whipped and folded into the mixture at the end. So you spoon the souffle into the crepe lined ramekin and bake them in a water bath. When they are done cooking you turn them out onto a plate so the crepe is now at the top and garnish with some lightly caramelized peach slices and buttermilk ice cream on the side. The ice cream is really good it's made with lots of egg yolks, buttermilk, heavy cream, sugar and a vanilla bean. Very rich.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Friday Night Bites #10

This weeks menu came together from a couple different shows on food TV and one from a magazine. I just happened to not have any good ideas and it was Wednesday night (I usually have it figured out somewhat by Wednesday so I can shop on Thursday) and I was watching the show "Unique Eats" and everything this guy Marc Vetri made looked really good. He's got this Italian restaurant in Philadelphia called "Vetri". They showed about 5 of his menu items and I picked 2 of them along with an idea for a 3rd dish. The dessert came from the show "Drink up" where the host made a Banana Rum Flambe'. The other dish was something I came up with.

Fried Sausage Stuffed Green Olives

This was in the Bon Appetit magazine September 2010. Really the perfect little thing to eat with a drink. We love olives as is but this way is really good... it says to get some big green pitted olives and cut a slit down one side. Fill in the center with this sausage, Parmesan, garlic, parsley, lemon zest, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper mixture (some sausage is still showing). It's then coated in flour an egg wash and Panko then fried until golden and the sausage cooks through. Yummy, crispy, salty, spicy and flavorful.

Spinach Gnocchi

This was one from Chef Vetri (above). They don't give the recipes on the show but say how they do it very quickly. I think it was good but his looked more light and airy. He said it's made with 100% spinach and a little bit of flour, a little bit of egg, a little bit of Parmesan and nutmeg. The spinach is made into a smooth paste in the food processor and those few ingredients are added to the spinach (I think If I put a little more than a little bit of the other things it would have been light and airy like his). His in the final product even looked lighter in color. He served it in a dish with some Parmesan sprinkled over the top and then he spooned brown butter over it, so that's what I did. I thought they were good but I would have to figure out the right way if I were to make them again.

Roasted Turkey Roulade with Mushroom Stuffing and a Blueberry-Cranberry Sauce

I was at the meat counter looking at my options when it occurred to me. That's something I tend not to buy unless it's Thanksgiving, a whole turkey breast. I think I will do it more often too because it was easy and delicious and we had lunch for a couple days after. First I brined it; I heated about 2 cups of water in a pan and added 1/4 cup kosher salt and 1/4 cup sugar, a few Tbsp fulls of Hoison Sauce, 1 Tbsp dried sage and 1 star anise; once everything was dissolved in the water I poured it over ice in a large bowl to cool quickly; I added the turkey (making sure it was completely submerged in cold brine) and refrigerated it for 24 hours. I made a mushroom stuffing with Shiitaki mushrooms and Italian bread, onions, fresh sage and chicken stock. I stuffed the turkey, rolled it up and tied it with kitchen string. I brushed melted butter over the skin and roasted it in a 350 degree oven until it reached 160 degrees internal temperature. I think it took about 45-60 minutes ( I forgot). I let it rest for about 15 minutes before carving into it so it wouldn't dry out. I served it with red (beet-stained) cous-cous and not just cranberry sauce but Blueberry-cranberry sauce. I got the idea for blueberries because the Vetri guy and another guy on the same "Unique Eats' show used blueberry jam in there dishes. One was on a pizza after it came out of the oven and the other was dibbled around a plate of a fancy lasagna. So I did about equal amounts of wild (whole) blueberry jam and canned whole cranberry sauce with some lemon juice to loosen it and to add a tang (I think it's going on the Thanksgiving table in November).

Almond Tortellini

This was one of Marc Vetri's dishes. He cooks down Arborio rice as you would a risotto until it turns mushy and almost a paste which takes slightly over an hour using water instead of chicken stock. Once it cools he adds eggs, ground toasted almonds, Parmesan and almond extract. He puts it in a pastry bag and pipes onto squares of fresh pasta dough which he makes using just the yolks, then forms them into tortellini shapes. So I did everything he did and I think I was pretty accurate. This is a good thing to make for someone who doesn't like cheese so much, you would never know it's RICE in the filling. He melts butter in a skillet with truffle paste and cooks the fresh pasta right in the butter sauce. I just used butter with fresh parsley, toasted bread crumbs and Parmesan at the end, because I didn't have the truffle paste. This was good I never formed my own tortellini shapes before, it wasn't too difficult at all.

Banana Rum Flambe' with Homemade Banana Ice Cream

This was a great find because it was so easy and really good. This was on the show "Drink Up". The host of the show made it and it takes no time at all. You melt a couple Tbsp of butter and a couple Tbsp of brown sugar in a medium skillet; once melted add a couple sliced banana's and coat the banana slices in the sugar syrup; Add a good splash of rum away from the heat then flambe' it carefully with a match holding it away from you and anything around it; once the flame goes out spoon the banana mixture over either vanilla or in my case the banana ice cream and top with nuts. He used Macadamia nuts but I used Walnuts and the next day when I made it again I used crushed Almonds, all are good.