Saturday, February 26, 2011

Friday Night, February 25, 2011, Baked Rigatoni


We got the new (March 2011)Bon Appetit magazine in the mail and right on the front cover, there is a great looking baked mac and cheese dish. I always remember the great baked pasta dish I had at Alforno's restaurant in Providence RI (Penne with five cheeses) which would definitely be worthy of a "Friday Night" dish. I thought...I will do a baked pasta. This magazine has 5 baked pasta dishes to choose from, but this one with eggplant and pine nuts sounded like the one.


Beef Carpaccio

Since the main dish has no meat of any kind in it, I felt like I had to do something meaty for the appetizer. Beef Carpaccio is thinly slice raw beef tenderloin. I wanted to give it a bit of a sear on the outsides (for me mostly), and I thought for flavor too. I bought one fillet Mignon steak and and hour before serving I put it in the freezer, to make it easier to slice thinly. I seared the fillet in a very hot skillet with olive oil just to brown the outsides. I removed it from the pan and sliced as thin as possible, then layed the slices over a bed of baby arugula and shavings of Parmesan reggiano drizzled with lemon juice and seasoned with Flore De Sal and fresh ground pepper.



Duxelles Crostini

I wanted to do something else for an appetizer and I wanted to do something with duxelles, which is minced shallot and mushrooms cooked down with butter and olive oil to intensify the flavors then port wine, a little flour and heavy cream to finish. This is a recipe that I followed from Julia Child and Jacques Pepin's cookbook. I made this mixture ahead of time and when we were ready to eat I toasted some thin slices of French bread to smear the duxelles over.


Baked Rigatoni with Eggplant and Pine Nut Crunch

This was great, very flavorful, creamy and crunchy at the same time. Something great happens with baked pastas like this, where the tops of the pasta gets a little "burnt" and the pasta that is submerged in the sauce is creamy, and then the cheese and herbs just adds to the excitement! Basically you roast diced eggplant, yellow pepper, grape tomatoes and garlic with olive oil. Then you combine whole canned tomatoes with heavy cream and fresh basil in the food processor. You make a topping of fresh basil, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts and a garlic clove. To bring it together you boil some rigatoni pasta to just cooked, so it's still slightly firm to the bite (because it cooks in the oven you don't want soggy pasta). You combine the pasta with the tomato and cream sauce and the roasted vegetables, mix well and put into a shallow baking dish. Top with the basil and pine nut topping and chunks of mozzarella cheese. You bake it in a 425 degree oven for about 25-35 minutes.


Bread Basket with Roasted Garlic and Olive Oil

I had to go out this Friday morning to the Newton, Wellesly area and I thought there will be some good bakeries where I can get some bread to make a "restaurant style" bread basket to go with our pasta dish. Well it was pouring rain and hard to know what places would be good, so I had planned to go to Whole Foods in Wellesly Hills if I couldn't find anything else. So that's what I did, and it's the smallest Whole Foods I have ever seen. I got a couple choices of rolls, olive and cranberry-walnut, then I got this focaccia from Iggy's which is about 5 inches high and topped with onions. I roasted some whole garlic heads and squeezed them into a plate then drizzled with really good grassy olive oil, salt and pepper.


Sour Cherry Chocolate Torte with Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream

This was the great find of the night, as good as the pasta was, this was my favorite! I was flipping though another new magazine we got in the mail, Wine Spectator (March 2011) and it's mostly about wine but they do some recipes and this was one that they said paired very well with a Lindemans Framboise beer. Well Tony stopped on the way home from work to see if Julio's Liqueur store in Westboro would have that beer and they did. We had a small glass just to see how well it paired and we were very disappointed with it, it was like drinking cherry soda. But getting back to the cherry torte, this was easy to make, the combination of the sour cherry with the sweet chocolate was perfect and the texture of the torte was very satisfying. I got some cherry vanilla ice cream, I just can't resist ice cream, even though this recipe in the magazine is served as is, with just a dusting of powdered sugar on top.


Cappuccino

We had this cappuccino machine in the basement that we used when we first got it and then the seasons changed and I put it downstairs for the summer, and it just stayed down there for a couple years. Well I am happy to say it's back in the kitchen where it should be and we are enjoying it once again! By the way...perfect with the cherry torte!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sherry

Excess frequent flier miles have allowed us to receive the Wall Street Journal over the past 4 or 5 years for free.  I can't say that I read it cover to cover every day, but Thursday through Sunday they tend to have some sort of Food & Drink article each day.  This past weekend they had an article on Sherry.  It included suggested bottles to buy for sipping and adding to cocktails.

I made Jeanne a "Walla Walla Bing Bang" cocktail from the article that included Lustau Light Fino Sherry (see photo above), brandy, Grand Marnier, orange juice, simple syrup and orange bitters.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Friday Night Dinner, February 18, 2011, Grilled Rib Eye "Roast"


This week I had a whole other menu planned and then I learned of the 60 degree weather we were going to have on Friday so I completely changed from a... roasty toasty oven baked dish that was all about being cozy inside because its been so cold outside to... full outside grilling summer time food. I thought instead of a regular steak, I would do something crazy and have the butcher cut a 3 inch "roast" of rib eye beef, and I would get a fantastic crust on the charcoal fire then off to the side to finish cooking to medium.


Tri-Color Bell Pepper Salad

I had this idea in my back pocket for a while. I saw a plate of roasted peppers on some show and I thought, that could be a good appetizer for Friday sometime. I roasted red, yellow and orange peppers under the broiler, by just placing them a few inches from the heating element on a sheet pan and turning them every so often until they are completely blackened. Remove them to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for about 5-10 minutes and the steam from the hot peppers trapped in the bowl allows the skin to release easily. Remove the skins and tear into strips onto a platter. I made a dressing using balsamic vinegar, honey, mustard, finely grated fresh garlic, salt and pepper and poured that over the warm peppers. I got some authentic Greek feta cheese and crumbled that over. I toasted slices of French Baguette and served that along side the pepper salad.



Grilled Rib Eye "Roast"

I asked the butcher to cut a 3 inch piece of rib eye so I could do something different with it. Instead of the norm I would cook that one piece and slice it on the bias (against the grain) and serve a few slices per person. This was yummy! First you want to bring the beef to room temperature as much as possible, I did about 1 1/2 hours ahead. Then I made a rub, I put some garlic in a mortar and pestle and pounded it with some salt (about 2-3 tsp), some of Tony's spice rub (a heaped tsp), fresh ground pepper and I rubbed it all over the rib eye... front, back, sides and bottom and really rub it in. Tony got the charcoal grill going and he added some Pecan wood to enhance the flavors even more. We seared the beef on all sides directly over the flame and then off to the cool side to finish cooking. We closed the cover to create an "oven" and it reached an internal temperature of about 135 in about 30 minutes. Rest for 15 minutes and slice into it, it had a great salty crust that I loved.


Hannah Yam Mash

If you ever see Hannah yams in the market, buy them! They have a sweetness to them and it's just our favorite thing. I cooked these like a baked potato, just in the oven until a knife slides in easily. Remove from the oven and cool for about 10 minutes so you can handle them. I removed the skins and mashed them with salt, pepper and butter. You can't believe that that's all that is added to them. They taste so flavorful, you would sware there are other ingredients to make them taste so good.


Grilled Asparagus

Nothing says summer like grilled asparagus. I had to do these for our "summer supper". I got some that were fat so I cut off the woody ends and peeled off some of the green at the bases to make sure they were tender as can be. Olive oil salt and pepper and onto the grill. I cooked these as the rib eye rested, it only takes 5 minutes or so.



Apple and Ginger Crisp with Ben and Jerry's Vanilla

I thought a crisp with some ice cream sounded like a good explanation point to our dinner. I remembered this Martha Stewart crisp that I loved. I loved the idea of fresh grated ginger mixed in with the apples, kind of a sweet and spicy combination. The name of it, if you want to look it up is...apple, date and ginger crisp. I forgot to buy the Medjool dates when I went shopping so I just left them out. It was good with the Ben and Jerry's vanilla ice cream.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Friday Night, February 11, 2011, Chicken Bouillabaisse

Bouillabaisse is a fish stew, that includes muscles and clams and I am not a shellfish person (not yet anyway, I don't know if I will ever get the guts to put one in my mouth). We were watching Eric Ripert's show, Avec Eric and he made this Chicken Bouillabaisse. He did include shellfish, but I figured I could still make it and just do the muscles and do them on the side for Tony to incorporate into his dish.


Pancetta Pizzetta

Tony had made some, in-house cured pancetta a couple weeks back (he will have to tell you about that) and so I had to use some in tonight's meal, I knew he would love that. So I came up with this pizzetta idea for the appetizer. Pizzetta is just a thin crusted small pizza, which I tend to make them like that anyway (I usually do grilled pizza). Tonight I decided to just do them in a hot oven instead of out on the grill just because it was cozy inside and cold out. I made the pizza dough and let it rise twice (I think punching it down after an hour and letting it rise again makes an extra fantastic crust). Then formed the dough into casual, thin, little rectangle shapes. I love cream cheese on pizzas so I mixed some softened cream cheese with a little heavy cream and spread it onto the pizzettas. I preheated a sheet pan in a 550 degree oven and dropped on the cream cheese topped pizzettas. When they were browned and the cheese was melted I took them out and topped them with some pancetta, (that I just cooked on the stove top to ensure that they were perfectly browned). I sprinkled on some chopped chives, and some freshly ground pepper. Yummy, crunchy, creamy, salty from the bits of pancetta and the chives gave a perfect fresh kick to these!!


Chicken Bouillabaisse and Aioli topped Baguette Slices

You can find this recipe if you google Avec Eric. It's basically a whole chicken cut into 10 pieces and browned in oil, remove to a plate and add onions and fennel. You add wine and Pernod liquor. Then chicken stock, canned tomatoes and saffron. Then little baby new potatoes towards the end. Just before you serve you add in the shellfish, but like I said for tonight Tony cooked his muscles in a separate pan with some wine and garlic just until the shells opened. I had made some aioli for some toasted baguette slices to accompany this dish. Aioli is basically a mayonnaise that you make with egg yolk, lemon juice, garlic and very slowly drizzled in olive oil as you whisk to make it emulsify, like the consistency of mayonnaise. Serve in soup bowls with the baguette slices and some fresh parsley on top. This was really good, Tony loved it with the muscles too.


German Chocolate Cupcakes

I don't think I ever had German Chocolate Cake so I had to change that. It had to be a chocolate dessert because after all it is Valentine's Day weekend. So I looked on foodnetwork.com and this recipe popped up and it had good reviews so I just followed it. Its by Aliyyah Baylor (who?) well it appears she was on Throw down with Bobby Flay and it was a German Cake Throw down. Very good, I must say! Basically it's a great texture on the cake itself and its topped with a coconut and toasted pecans mixture. The topping is oowey goowey with ingredients like egg yolks, brown sugar, butter and evaporated milk included with the coconut and pecans. You frost the sides with your favorite chocolate frosting recipe. I just did a ganache which is heavy cream that's heated and you add chopped chocolate, let it sit a minute to melt and you mix it until it becomes thick and creamy. It's about 1/4 cup of heavy cream to 1/2 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Mussels...


Persimmon Provisions in Barrington, RI


A special thanks to "guest blogger" Aunt Mary for sending over this article from the Providence Journal on Persimmon Provisions in Barrington, RI.  We haven't been yet, but hope to check it out soon.  Sounds like the type of place we wish we had close to us here in rural Central Mass!!  And their restaurant is now officially on our list to check out soon....

Persimmon Provisons story from Projo.com

Persimmon web site

Blasphemy!!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dinner at Mills Tavern....

BUTTERMILK and ROSEMARY MARINATED GIANONNE CHICKEN HALF with ROASTED SHALLOT and PURPLE POTATO FRICASSE in ROASTED RED PEPPER, MAILLE MUSTARD CREAM SAUCE




Mills Tavern Oysters....


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Friday Night, February 4,2011, Indian Night


Remind me not to do that again! Well at least not all in one day. I really didn't think it would take all day, but it did! From the Tamarind Chutney to the Indian style ice cream and everything in between. I came across this Indian cook book on Wednesday while I was straitening up my pantry shelves and thought..."I haven't done any Indian cooking lately, maybe I'll do it for Friday Night. Everything I made is from this one cookbook that I bought at work one day because it was like $4.00 and I had to get it. When I think of Indian cooking I think of someone I used to work with in hairdressing, her name is Shobha. I had been to her house a few times and she'd invite me for lunch. Every time it was just the two of us and she made about 20 different things. I figure Indian food is served with many things, so I couldn't just make an app, a main and dessert. There would have to be many layers...

Let me first start by showing you pictures of the Tamarind Chutney I made from tamarind "pods", they look like a big pea pods. I happened to have these tamarind "pods" in my pantry, I bought them one day figuring..."these are interesting, I will figure out something???" And this was the day. I first peeled them, then separated the pulp from the seeds. I cooked the pulp in water and added a fresh Serrano chili, chopped and then some brown sugar and salt, it cooks for about 40 minutes in all. The time consuming part was peeling and getting the pulp from the seeds. By the way this was a recipe in the book, I didn't just figure that out. We loved this, the taste was, as if I had added a bunch of freshly squeezed lemon juice, but I didn't.



Ghee is something new for me. I had never used it but I liked it. It's a little expensive (about $6.00) for a small jar, maybe 4-6 oz? I liked it because it has the flavor of butter but it won't burn easily like butter would. It's made by cooking it like clarified butter but then taken a step further and browned slightly to give a more caramelized flavor.


When cooking Indian food you must have Garam Masala (Homemade of course). I made the recipe in the book and it includes bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, whole cloves and ground cloves. You toast these spices in a dry skillet then grind them to a fine powder. It turns out I only needed a couple teaspoons in the main dish but It had to be made. It also will last a long time so I do plan to use it in the months to come.




Vegetable Samosas with Tamarind Chutney

This is similar to a pot sticker or spring roll, in the way that it is a flavorful filling inside of a dough and fried. This filling has lots of vegetables and a potato finely diced and lots of spices. You make the dough with flour, Ghee, lemon juice and water. This dough is kneaded for 10 minutes. You roll out the dough and divide it to 7 circles then divide them in half and put some filling in, then seal into a cone shape. Fry and serve with fresh cilantro and the tamarind chutney. We loved this as an appetizer.




Pork and Vegetable Curry

This recipe is made with ground pork, which was easy. All the usual suspects are in this, the Ghee, the onion, more spices along with the Garam Masala, diced potato, tomatoes, carrot, cilantro and water. It's cooked for only a half an hour or so. I spooned this over the rice (below) and it worked great together.


Coconut Rice

I can't have a curry without rice. I followed a recipe that was in the book for this. It's made by first rinsing any starch off of basmati rice then toasting it a bit in oil, just so its coated really. Then you add some heated water and the "cream" from the coconut milk (when you open the can of coconut milk, there is always about an inch or so of coconut "cream" that has separated from the milk, you use that). Once they are combined you cover the pan and simmer gently for only about 8-10 minutes. Remove the cover and loosen the grains with a fork and off the heat cover the pan for 5 minutes. I had toasted some coconut flakes I had just for a garnish.


Mango Chutney

This was in the book and the description said it's much different than what you get in a jar at the grocery store. So that made me want to make it. It was different, it's got whole mustard seeds in it, lots of spices, lime juice, white wine vinegar, brown sugar, shallots and of course the mango. It says you must leave it in the refrigerator for 3 days before you eat it, but I have to say it was good after one day (I made this the night before).



Raita

This is served at every meal as a soothing component, in Indian cooking. If anything is too hot and spicy you eat some Raita and it soothes your pallet. It's made with grated cucumber and after removing all excess liquid you mix it into some plain yogurt, salt, cumin, sugar and fresh mint. Tony loves his cucumber so I had to make this.


Naans

How can I make an Indian meal without making Naans? This is the staple they have for bread at the dinner table. I make a lot of doughs and breads and pastries and this was similar to a pizza dough but with the additions of an egg, baking powder and Ghee instead of oil. It's a very stiff dough and I have to say my hands are still hurting today. It takes about 2 hours in total, between kneading and resting and incorporating the Ghee and letting it rest again, then baking (baking only takes about 5-6 minutes).




Saffron and Almond Ice Cream (Indian Style)

This is where I saved myself from gaining any extra pounds. You know why??? Because I only had a couple bites and the rest went to waste. It was made like a granita, by not using an ice cream machine, and just periodically scraping it with the tines of a fork for the beginning then removing it to individual dishes for the rest of the freezing. I didn't like it, and I have to say Tony left his too. It's made by infusing Saffron into milk for an half hour, then ground rice and ground almonds are are combined with the saffron milk. Evaporated milk, heavy cream and sugar are mixed in and that's it. I couldn't imagine ice cream made without any egg yolks, and now I know...you need egg yokes and you need an ice cream maker!!!!!!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Traffic is up!

Here at NE Foodie we have enjoyed increasing web traffic to our little blog each month for the last 4 months!  In total we are over 1300 pageviews since May of 2010.  In general terms, this is still a small number, but our goal is to keep the positive trend going! 

Tell your friends about us....just say "nefoodie.blogspot.com"...they'll get there....

If anyone has something to add, let us know.  You can be a guest blogger......

....Tony & Jeanne