Sunday, April 17, 2011

Friday Night, Grilled Pork Chops with Cherry Peppers, April 15, 2011

I saw this pork chop recipe in the new Bon Appetit magazine. It was someone writing into the magazine asking for the recipe, they had it at Mario Batali's restaurant, Babbo in NYC. I love the sweet and spicy of pickled cherry peppers and it's been a while since I had them, I thought it sounded really good. Another new magazine came in the mail, the Food & Wine May 2011 had this interesting looking dessert in it, a chocolate carrot cake. I love carrot cake because its so moist and of corse the cream cheese frosting that is so good with it. But this chocolate cake version has no cream cheese frosting, but it's got a crumb topping (what??).

Brown Tomato Caprese Salad

Whole Foods had these great looking brown tomato variety that I thought looked like a good choice for tonight. So caprese salad is a cobination of tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese and basil. I put some good looking watercress lettuce on the plate first and layered on the mozzarella thinly sliced then sliced tomatoes that I seasoned with salt and pepper seperately and fresh basil. I drizzled on some olive oil and served with lightly toasted fresh bakery bread that I rubbed with fresh garlic and a drizzle of olive oil. Fantastico!!

Grilled Pork Chops with Cherry Peppers, Cipolline Onions and Balsamic Vinegar

These pork chops are soaked in a brine overnight to ensure they are flavorful and tender. Dissolve 1/4 cup kosher salt and 1/8 cup of sugar in 4 cups of water. I put the brine in a zip-lock bag and placed 2 pork chops in and closed the bag, making sure I get out all the air so the brine really gets into the pork chops. He says to brine it 12 hours, but mine was more like 16 hours and it was fine (I am always worried about it becoming too salty if it sits too long in the brine, that happened to me before). You combine bell peppers, cipolline onions, red onions, pickled cherry peppers, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and olive oil. The vegetables are cooked until softened and it's spooned over the perfectly charcoal grilled pork chops. He says to use aged balsamic vinegar just drizzled over the final dish, but I just reduced some regular good quality balsamic, to make it a bit more syrupy and deepen the flavors a bit. Really good, the pork had really perfect amounts of saltiness and sweetness.

Smoky Mashed Potato with Egg Yolk Centers

I saw this on some show, I think it was Unique Eats. The guy made his own smoke oil by charring a brickette then removing it to a small pot then pouring olive oil over it and when it cools down you get this olive oil that tastes like you cooked it on the grill. I made some mashed potatoes and flavored it with the oil and some milk, salt and pepper. I soft boiled 2 eggs for about 3-4 minutes and after spooning the mashed potato onto the serving plates I cracked the egg into the center of the potatoes. It was really good, I was afraid of using too much oil in the potaoes so it was a mild smoke flavor. The egg just added a nice "sauce" the the dish.

Steamed Snap Peas

Cocoa-Carrot Cake with Cocoa Crumble and a Cup of Espresso Ice Cream

This was in the new Food & Wine magazine (as I said above). It's basically made like you would make a carrot cake with the additon of cocoa powder and it's baked in a loaf pan instead of a cake pan. Instead of the cream cheese frosting there is a chocolate crumble that you make by combining flour, sugar, almond flour, cocoa, salt and soft butter. This mixture is clumped together by your hands and chilled for 15 minutes. You then bake it for 15 minutes and let it cool and it hardens as it cools. When you put the cake batter in the loaf pan you top it with the crumble and then it bakes all together. Its really good and different. Its a combination of a coffee cake and a carrot cake. I served this with a "cup of espresso ice cream". I came across these small espresso cups in the bacement and I thought they would be a perfect little vehical for the ice cream. Basically I made a vanilla ice cream but infused the milk with espresso powder. When I finished mixing it, I tasted it and it was like a cup of coffee that needed sugar, what do I do now?? I made some simple syrup with 1/4 cup water and 1/2 cup of sugar. I whisked this into the custard and tasted it, and it was perfect, thank goodness!!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Friday Night, April 8, 2011, Walnut Veal

This was one of those weeks I found myself with no idea for Friday dinner and it was Wednesday night. I started flipping through magazines and books for something different and interesting. I saw this Cauliflower bisque in the back of a Veranda magazine, I remembered how good it was at Daniel Boulud's restaurant called Bar Boulud. Then I found the Chocolate Truffle Pie from the new Bon Appetit magazine, April 2011. Laura Calder never disappoints and we are always surprised about her dishes from French Food at Home, they are different and always delicious, that's where the Walnut Veal came in...

Cauliflower Bisque

This is very rich and delicious. I made it with half the amount of heavy cream, basically I made my own half and half in place of the 4 cups of heavy cream the recipe called for. You melt some butter in a pan and add the white part of a leek, a small amount of celery, 1/2 garlic clove minced and 1/8 cup dry vermouth. Cover the pot and sweat the vegetables for a few minutes. Add 1 small head of cauliflower that's been sliced thinly and 4 cups of half and half. Cook until very soft. I used a stick blender to puree it smooth. Season with salt and nutmeg. I roasted some of the thinly sliced cauliflower for a garnish which added a nice texture, very good.

Walnut Veal

This was in Laura Calder's book, "French Food at Home". It was crazy looking, it kind of didn't look like it would be good, but I haven't made anything bad from her book yet so I gave it a shot. I am glad I did because it was delicious, easy and quick too. You make a paste in a mortar and pestle; 1 garlic clove and 1/2 cup walnuts. Grind it into a paste and add about 1/4 cup or so of walnut oil. Add 1 Tbsp of drained capers and about 2-3 Tbsp of finely chopped fresh parsley. Season with salt and pepper. That's the sauce that you top the veal with. To make the veal it's 2 veal cutlets that I pounded (just to help tenderize them), season with salt and pepper then cut into 1/2 inch strips. Heat a skillet over medium high heat then add 1 Tbsp of butter and let it brown slightly, add 1 Tbsp olive oil and let it get quite hot. Toss in the veal and cook it 2 minutes, until its just cooked (too long and it will toughen). Remove to serving dishes and spoon some of the walnut sauce over top. The whole thing takes about 5 minutes and we loved it. We used the rest of the walnut sauce today as a spread on a sandwich, so flavorful!!

Baked Corn Pudding

I don't know where this idea came from, it just popped into my head. It was good, but I have made better ones in my opinion. I kind of followed Sunny Anderson's recipe but instead of just cheddar cheese I did half cheddar and half Gruyere, no jalapeno and no bread topping. It was good, Tony loved it.

Roasted Eggplant with Soft Goat Cheese and Watercress

I wasn't sure what else to serve so I got some eggplant and watercress without a plan for them. I decided to roast diced eggplant with minced shallots and some diced tomatoes from a can with olive oil, salt and pepper and do a ratatouille kind of thing. When they were finished roasting about an hour later, I added a bit of red wine vinegar. After sitting a couple hours at room temperature I folded in some softened goat cheese and served it on a bed of watercress.

Chocolate Truffle Pie with Orange-Champagne Sabayon and Strawberries From Bon Appetit Magazine

This was one of these desserts that I really had no idea what to expect from the combination of all these ingredients. I thought it couldn't be bad. We each took a bite and looked at each other and we smiled and we each said wow with our eyes. I love when that happens. The richness of the chocolate pie with the small amount of toasted almonds on top and the orange zest that is mixed within. The airiness of the Orange-Champagne Sabayon (which is egg yolks, sugar, orange zest and I used Prosecco whisked over a double boiler until it reaches 170 degrees then you whisk over a ice water bath to cool it completely). And the thinly sliced strawberries that are macerated with some sugar for a few hours. This combination is heavenly...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Friday Night Menu, February 1,2011, 7 Hour Pork Shoulder

The dessert Tony and I shared at Eastern Standard a few weeks back was still fresh in my mind. I had to recreate it! It was the Butterscotch Bread Pudding with Praline Ice Cream and Salted Caramel. I saw a picture that looked like thinly sliced potatoes layered, and in the shape of a mini cupcake pan, baked probably and filled with a tasty wasn't...I think it was phyllo dough or something. But anyway, the picture led to my idea for this appetizer which was "mini potato cups with Gruyere, panchetta and Creme fraiche". The main dish was an idea I got from Jamie Oliver, he was traveling somewhere and he filled a earthenware pot with lots of different ingredients, tightly covered it and it slowly cooked in a communal oven for hours. I also have been wanting to do a pork shoulder in the oven (usually Tony smokes a pork shoulder in his smoker outside for 16 hours, and it's always very good, but for a change I wanted to try the oven).

Mini Potato Cups with Gruyere, Panchetta and Creme Fraiche

So I have two mini cupcake pans, one I oiled the top side and the other one I oiled the bottom side so when I filled the cups with thinly sliced russet potatoes I could put the other pan on top to force them into a cup shape. I just sprinkled salt on the potatoes after I layered in about 7-8 sliced potatoes into each cup. After putting the other pan on top and pressing it down a bit I put it into a 300 degree oven (pork was cooking at that temp) for about 20-30 minutes or so, until you can start to see the edges of the potatoes browning slightly. Remove the top pan and continue to cook until the rest of the cup turns golden. It was a little tricky, you have to make sure you put plenty of oil or they will stick. I happened to have cooked potatoes in the frig and I made a small amount of mashed potatoes with it, mixing in Gruyere cheese. I put the mashed potatoes in the cup and sprinkled more Gruyere cheese on top, then a piece of panchetta that I already cooked and baked it until heated through and the cheese was melted. I topped each one with a bit of creme fraiche, very good appetizer!!

7-Hour Pork Shoulder with Prunes, Currants and Fennel over Creamy Polenta

I have a clay pot called a "Romertopf". You soak it in cold water before baking anything and you put everything in at room temperature or cold, and you even put the whole thing in a cold oven and slowly heat the oven. Sudden changes in temperature will crack it. I decided to use it for this dish. I have only made bread and I think a whole chicken one time in it, so I am not familiar with it too much. I put the whole 3 lb pork shoulder in that I rubbed with freshly ground fennel seeds, allspice seeds and chili powder. Of course I sprinkled liberally with salt and pepper. I added one large sweet onion cut into 1 inch wedges, 2 small fennel bulbs cut into 1 inch wedges, 1 garlic clove cut in half, a handful of dried currents and about 10 dried prunes. I splashed in about 1/4 cup dry sherry and 1/4 cup chicken stock, and salt on the vegetables. I covered the pot with the lid and put it into the oven. I turned the oven onto 325 degrees and figured I would let it go until 6:00pm. I started smelling it a couple hours into it (which is a good hint that its about done) and I bet you it was done after 3-4 hours. It had great flavor and the vegetables and fruit were so good, but the pork was slightly dried out. I strained and thickened the juices with a corn starch slurry that came out great. I served this with creamy polenta.

Butterscotch Bread Pudding with Praline Ice Cream and Salted Caramel

I looked for a recipe for butterscotch bread pudding and Sara Moulton had one that looked good. Her bread was diced (which is normal) and put into ramekins, but I kept my slices whole, because that's what I think it was like at the restaurant (above). I actually made this the night before because Tony went out and I had nothing better to do. So you put in the bread and pour the butterscotch custard over, I let it sit a bit to really soak in and then bake it in a water bath. I made a vanilla ice cream from my Avec Eric cookbook and when it was done churning I layered in some hazelnut praline that I had made probably a year ago and had in the freezer. Basically to make a praline its toasted nuts of your choice and you mix it into a hot caramel then pour it out onto a Silpat on a sheet pan and let it harden. You then process it into fine bits. That ice cream was really good, its gone now! Then I made some salted caramel just to pour over the bread pudding and ice cream. It was to die for!!!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Weekday meals, March 27-31

I am starting to do weekday meals on the blog, mainly for myself. I always try to make something I never made, even during the week (not just Friday Nights). So I think it will be helpful for me, to remind myself of the things I have made (maybe make changes to perfect it), and even maybe perfect it to put it into another cookbook. I am not going to describe each dish but I will list the name and/or description along with a picture.

Sunday Lunch- Pistachio and Panko encrusted lamb loin chop atop a salad of mixed greens, hearts of palm, tomato, cucumber, pistachio nuts and dried cranberries. Shallot, sherry vinegar and mustard vinaigrette.

Sunday Dinner- Grilled Cheese (cheddar, gorgonzola and boucheron) with sliced poached chicken and fried egg on a thinly sliced round boule loaf of bread from Whole Foods.

Sunday dessert- Honey cookies from Laura Calder filled with apple, lemon and orange granita.

Monday dinner- Brown rice mushroom risotto with chicken and beet greens.

Tuesday dinner- Soup and salad; Roasted beet, goat cheese and mixed greens salad with lemon vinaigrette and sesame semolina bread. White lentil soup with homemade chicken stock, finely diced onion, celery and carrots.

Wednesday dinner-Baked savory crepes filled with steamed kale and cream cheese pesto and a big meatball on the side.

Thursday dinner- Pan seared salmon with braised Brussels sprouts and baby potatoes.