Saturday, November 27, 2010

Welcome to our international friends!

The Blogger stats function now allows us to see the number of hits on our blog and even what country the hits are coming from.  To our amazement, we actually get some hits from outside the US.  As of this afternoon, here are where the hits have come from since May of 2010:

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While we love it when anyone leaves a comment to one of our posts, we'd especially like to hear from those of you outside of North America.  How did you find us?  What are your favorite posts?  Please leave comments when you visit!!

Time off

I haven't stopped blogging, don't worry. I find it hard to do "Friday Night Meals" the right way for the months of November and December, so I am not even going to try. We are still having really good food on Friday Night's for these two months but nothing too different. So let me tell you about the past couple weeks and after that come back and see my posts in the new year.

Last week was a great steak on the grill and my favorite apple tart that I like to make every so often. The week before was dinner with the Roke's (next door). We had a great night...

I made some hummus and olive tapinade with some homemade walnut and Gruyere crisps for the appetizer.

Grilled Swordfish with Roasted Tomato Parsley Sauce and Lemon Risotto

Croquombouche (Krok-Kuhm-BOOSH) which is a dessert they serve in France at weddings or even at Christmas because it resembles a Christmas tree. It's cream puffs filled with pastry cream (I did 50% butterscotch pastry cream and 50% Chocolate pastry cream) they are "glued" together with caramel, very carefully, into a round shape then "glue"more as you go up to form a tree shape. Once it's shaped you use the tines of a fork dipped in the leftover caramel to drizzle over the outside for another layer of (caramel) crunch. The trick is you have to make this within a couple hours of serving. I pushed it, I made it about 4:00 and we had dessert about 8 or 9:00. It was really good, a little messy but good.

Friday Night, Charred Skin Salmon

Endive Cups

I did endive cups before and they were a good way to start a meal because they aren't too filling and it's kind of like a cool way to eat a salad. I candied some pecans by tossing them in a quick caramel that I made and remove to a plate to cool. Once they are cool (about 10 minutes later) they are crunchy and sweet. I cooked a few slices of pancetta and let those drain on paper towels. So separate the leaves from the endive and you get to a point where they don't come off easily anymore so that's where you stop. I used 2 endives for us. So chop up the heart of the endives that you couldn't separate and add to a bowl. Chop up the candied pecans and pancetta and add to the bowl. Crumble some blue cheese of your choice into the bowl. I drizzled olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to the mixture and filled each endive cup with mixture. I cut some green grapes into quarters and put one quarter on the top of each endive. Really good with the sweet and crunch of the pecans, the salt of the pancetta, the creaminess of the blue cheese and the crispness of the grape.

Charred Skin Salmon

I had the idea to get the charcoal grill nice and hot, then put the skin side of the salmon down and never flip it, let it cook through on just that one side. I never ate the skin before so I thought if it's crispy like a potato chip it might be good. Well Tony ate it, I thought it was ok but too fishy tasting for me. It was a good way to cook the salmon, on the verge of being overcooked though. We only had it on for 5-7 minutes... so watch it, it goes fast.

Braised Fennel

I think fennel goes well with fish so I have done this before, nothing new here. It's just sliced thin and cooked in a skillet with olive oil for a couple minutes. I add in some chicken stock, cover and let it simmer gently until it's tender. Season to taste.

Red Skinned Sage Mashed Potaoes

I infused some milk with sage leaves by just heating the milk and sage, cover and let it steep for about 30 minutes. After the potaoes cook and are mashed I reheated the milk and poured it in along with some butter, salt and pepper. Once it tastes great serve and garnish with fresh sage leaves.

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Whipped Cream and Fresh Raspberries

People raved about this on It's an Aaron McCargo Jr recipe. I had never made any of his recipes before. It was good, super rich...even more rich than I had imagined, like a chocolate truffle. I served it with whipped cream and raspberries and it was good....but

Two days later we had the neighbors over for the game and I had this extra round of flourless chocolate cake (I didn't have the right size pan so I used 2 smaller ones) in the refrigerator and I thought I would embellish it and serve it for dessert. I thought it would make a good layer in ice cream cake. I made some vanilla bean ice cream and I got some chocolate ginger snap cookies that I crushed and mixed with melted butter. I put the crumbled cookies at the bottom of a spring form pan (no need to bake, it will firm up when the butter gets cold). On the base pour in 1/2 of the ice cream, the layer of chocolate cake, the rest of the ice cream sprinkled with some toasted hazelnuts, whipped cream and fresh rasperries. Put the whole thing in the freezer. Cut out slices as you would a cake and I think it was a fantastic way to use that 2nd round of cake!

Saturday Night, Rotisserie Chicken

I fell behind a couple weeks and I really shouldn't do that because I forget little details. I will do my best to remember everything.

Smoked Salmon Terrine with Dill and Capers

I found this in the Bon Appetit November 2010 issue. I noticed that the Whole Foods Market in Framingham Ma. has "in house smoked salmon", they have maybe 8 different flavors to choose from. When I came across this recipe as I flipped through the pages I thought of the smoked salmon I saw. I got the Mediterranean (I think) flavored one. You combine cream cheese, red onion, dill, capers, lemon juice and salmon that you chop. Then you layer that mixture with more smoked salmon that is cut into slices so when you cut into it (after it sets) you see the layers within. I served it with toasted slices of French bread.

Rotisserie Chicken with Steamed Buns and Two Sauces

Because Tony was home for all the cooking I let him take care of the chicken part of this menu. Also because I don't know how he rigs up his charcoal grill with this rotisserie part that he bought on EBay. Just a sprinkle of salt and pepper over the trussed chicken before hovering over the grill is all it needed because the flavorful part would come in the form of sauces. I made a Hoison Barbecue Sauce by combining and simmering Hoison, ketchup, brown sugar, rice vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, dash of Tabasco, salt and pepper. I also made a roasted cranberry sauce from Bon Appetit November 2010. The steamed buns is something the Chinese do. It's yeast and water combined with sugar, dry milk, cake flour and baking powder. It's a bit time consuming... you mix it together and kneed it then let it rest for 2 hours then add the baking powder and kneed again then let it rest for 30 minutes then form the dough into 16 pieces then let it rest for 30 more minutes and then you steam then for 3 minutes. It's all put on the table and you make your own flavorful steamed bun sandwiches.

Zucchini and Tomato Gratin

On this Saturday morning while I made breakfast, Tony had Julia and Jacque's show on and Jacques was making this gratin. We said..."that looks good"...I happened to have all the ingredients and so it went on the menu, I needed a side dish and this was perfect. It's just thin slices of each the zucchini and tomato, layered decoratively in a shallow baking dish and seasoned with salt and pepper, topped with bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and olive oil. Baked in the oven until the top gets golden brown and the vegetables become tender.

Pumpkin Cappuccino

I envisioned a pumpkin mousse in a glass coffee cup with whipped cream on top to look like a cappuccino. Well I thought the idea came together perfect and for having very little sugar in the recipe it was good and healthy. But Friday Night's are not about being "healthy". It needed more sugar in my opinion but I was following a recipe that was given 5 stars, so I didn't change anything.