Monday, May 30, 2011

Friday Night Menu, Pork Saltimbocca Roulade, May 27, 2011

When we went to Naples Florida about 2 months ago, I picked up an Italian magazine to look at on the plane. It was a special addition of Gourmet Italian classic recipes. I came across this magazine when I was hunting for new recipes to make this week and thought that I would make all the courses from this magazine. I did my own spin on the main course though. Instead of a bone-in pork chop filled with cheese and prosciutto I decided to do a pork roast that I cut open completely, fill and roll back up.
Fava Crostini
We love our crostinis and this was another good one. The recipe calls for fresh fava beans or fresh or frozen edamame beans. I had the edamame in the freezer so I just used those since I think it would be hard to find fresh fava beans right now. It's 1 cup of beans cooked in boiling water for 4 minutes or so and then shocked in ice water to stop the cooking. Place them in a food processor and coarsely chopped, remove half of the beans to a bowl. Add to the processor 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup baby arugula, 3 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, 1/4 tsp lemon zest, 1/2 tsp lemon juice, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Process to a smooth puree then fold in about a cup more baby arugula. Bake some slices of a French Baguette until browned and rub each with a half garlic clove, a drizzle of olive oil then spread the fava mixture on each crostini. Top with another drizzle of olive oil and a single mint leaf. So good and healthy at the same time.
Pork Saltimbocca Roulade and Baby Spinach
I got a pork roast without the bone from Whole Foods. I cut off four chops for another use. I was left with a small pork roast (enough for four portions). I cut along the length of the roast leaving a good inch thickness throughout and opened it like a book. I brined it in 8 cups of cold water and 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup of salt (dissolved). I brined it for an hour, removed it from the brine and blotted it dry. Place fresh chopped sage in the opened pork roast (about 8 leaves), place 3 or 4 slices of prosciutto over the sage and a fontina cheese over that (not too much). Roll up the pork back into the shape it was originally and tie it using kitchen twine. Cover and place it in the refrigerator until ready to roast (I let mine sit for about 4-5 hours). When ready to roast combine 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp dried thyme, 2 tsp dried sage, scant tsp of kosher salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper. Rub this mixture all over the pork then place in a roasting pan on a small rack or use vegetables to keep if off the bottom (I used 2 ribs of celery). Place fat side up in the center of a 450 degree oven and roast for 10 minutes, reduce the temperature to 250 degrees and cook until it registers 150-155 degrees in the thickest part, this will take about 45-60 minutes (give or take). Remove from the oven and loosely cover with foil and let it sit for 15 minutes before carving. Very good and looks nice too.
Souffleed Gnocchi
This was one thing I remembered seeing in the magazine on vacation that I definitely wanted to make. It's 3 cups whole milk and 3/4 tsp kosher salt brought to a simmer then add 3/4 cup semolina flour in a slow steady stream while whisking, switch to a wooden spoon and cook over low heat stirring constantly for 12 minutes. It gets very thick. Remove from the heat and add 3 eggs, one at a time. Add 6 Tbsp of grated Parmesan cheese and 3 Tbsp softened butter. Spread on an oiled cookie sheet to 1/2 inch thickness, chill, uncovered for about 10 minutes. Cut out 2 inch rounds, using a cookie cutter. Place the rounds of gnocchi in a buttered 2 quart shallow baking dish, over lapping slightly and using the extra bits, gradually tucking them in and using up all the gnocchi to cover the baking dish. Place uncovered in the refrigerator for an hour. Brush about 1-2 Tbsp melted butter over the gnocchi sprinkle with another tablespoon of Parmesan cheese over top. Pre heat the oven to 450 degrees and place the baking dish in to top third of the oven for 10 minutes, then move the baking dish to the lower third of the oven and bake 10 more minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. This was so good, I will absolutely make this again.
Pear and Apple Crostata
I loved the idea of this because it's something I hadn't really done roast the fruit first then bake it again with a brown sugar filling inside of a crust. It's a total of 2 1/2 lbs of apples and pears that you peel, core and cut into 1 inch cubes. Place that in a bowl with 1/2 cup sugar, 1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger, 1 cinnamon stick, 4 whole cloves and 1 Tbsp apple cider or juice. Mix it all together, pour onto a rimmed baking pan and roast in a 375 degree oven for 1-1 1/4 hours until the fruit it caramelized and very soft. Remove from the oven and add about 1 more Tbsp of apple juice and scrape up all the juices from the bottom of the pan, remove the cloves and cinnamon stick and let cool for 45 minutes. While the fruit is roasting make a pastry dough by combining 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 tsp kosher salt, 2 Tbsp sugar. Use a pastry blender to blend in 2 sticks of cold butter that you have cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Using a fork add 6-8 Tbsp of ice water slowly and just until the pastry holds together when you squeeze a small amount in your hand. Form into a round and wrap in plastic wrap, chill for an hour. Roll out the pastry to a 14 inch round and form into a 11 inch fluted tart pan and don't cut the excess pastry off. Make the brown sugar filling; beat 1 stick of softened butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup confectionery sugar with an electric mixer for 2 minutes. Add 2 eggs one at a time and 1 tsp vanilla. Turn the speed down and add 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour. Spread this mixture into the pastry shell then top with the cooled off roasted fruit. Fold the excess dough back over the fruit (it won't cover completely). Brush the dough with egg wash sprinkle 1 Tbsp sugar over the top. When you preheat the oven to 375 place a large baking sheet in the center of the oven and when you assemble the crostata and bake it, place it right on the pre heated baking sheet. Bake for 50-60 minutes. I found that mine was done at about 40 minutes. Cool for 1 1/2 hours on a cooling rack, remove the sides of the tart pan and place the crostata onto a serving plate. Yummy!! I had bought some coconut ice cream made of coconut milk, and it went surprisingly well with this.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Friday Night Menu, Braised Hoisen Chicken Thighs, May 20,2011

I scraped together the few ideas I had and came up with this menu. I had planned a "Friday Night Bites" idea but I couldn't completely finish my other ideas and just tried to perfect 2 courses plus the dessert. I saw a picture of a dish that a chef made in a magazine called "Food Arts", it was a fancy scallop and micro greens dish that looked very fancy (no recipes in this magazine just ads for restaurants). I don't like scallops but tried to make a dish that looked similar with something else...and after much thinking I came up with a warm potato-leek salad. In the same magazine I saw a dish that had chicken legs with these really cool looking "orange rice balls". I imagined them to be like an arancine with saffron for color. The other component, Georgian Cilantro Sauce came from a pod-cast I was listening to called "The Splendid Table". There was a lady on the show raving about this sauce and so I had to make it. I thought the cilantro sauce would go nicely with the flavorful Hoisen chicken I thought of doing. Dessert was from the new Martha Stewart magazine, which was a Rhubarb Lattice Tart. To go along with the tart was an idea I got from a friend of a friend of a friend named Mara who is a vegan, she told me this way of making "ice cream", that I have to say is pretty amazing!!!!

Warm Potato-Leek Salad with Sprouts and a Crispy Bacon Chip

I thought of slow braising the leeks, standing up on their ends, which I will have cut into 1-2 inch whole pieces. Then once they are melting-ly tender remove any tough outer layers and maybe fill some of the bigger tender rounds with mashed potatoes. I wanted something like a dressing but creamy, I thought a little cottage cheese seasoned with salt, pepper and thinned with a little milk (I used almond milk). I made a chive oil by going out to my back yard and grabbing a handful of fresh chives from the earth and using a small blender, I combined the chopped up chives with olive oil and salt, blend until a smooth bright green oil appears. So when plating I placed the previously braised leeks (some filled with potato) into my bowl, covered with aluminum foil and heated in the oven. Remove the foil and spoon some of the cottage cheese mixture around the leeks and drizzled some chive oil on top of that. I garnished the bowl with some watercress and some funky sprouts I found at Whole Foods (pea tendrils, lentils, chick pea and alfalfa). I pounded out some thick cut bacon and slow cooked them in to oven to make these really big but very thin "chips"...well they shrunk down to a regular looking piece of bacon (oh well), I placed the bacon along side the salad.

Braised Hoisen Chicken Thighs with Crunchy Saffron Rice Balls and Georgian Cilantro Sauce

I made a marinade with a jar of Hoisen sauce, a splash of white wine, a few garlic cloves minced, about the same of fresh ginger minced, Siracha hot sauce to taste and placed boneless-skinless chicken thighs in it for 9 hours. I took them out of the marinade letting as much excess marinade drip off as you can casually do. I seasoned them lightly with salt and pepper and cooked them in a few tablespoons of hot canola oil in an oven proof pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes on one side, turn over and cook for another minute then cover the pan and into a 350 oven for 25 minutes. They were probably done but I took the cover off the pan and let them cook 5 more minutes just to brown the chicken slightly and reduce the sauce a bit. For the rice balls I made a risotto using Saffron and some Turmeric for an orange color. I rolled them and coated them with flour, egg wash and then Panko bread crumbs. Let them sit in the frig for at least 15 minutes to set the breading. I cooked them by deep frying them in canola oil just until browned, continue to heat them through for 5 more minutes in the oven if necessary. The Georgian Cilantro Sauce was from a pod cast called The Splendid Table and I put it on the plate as a sauce for the chicken and it worked perfectly.

Rhubarb Lattice Pie with Vanilla Bean "Ice Cream"

This lattice pie was in the Martha Stewart magazine June 2011. The rhubarb is out now in the markets and looked really good so I thought it was a good time to use it. I made the crust using Spelt flour, which I never did before, usually I use all purpose flour. Spelt is native to southern Europe and has been used for millenniums, with a nutty flavor its got more protein then wheat and its highly nutritious. I follow Jacques and Julia's recipe in there book "Cooking at Home". It was very good, it wasn't as light and delicate like with all purpose but it was still flaky and deeper in flavor and color. Now here is the big new thing...The "ice cream". Mara (from above) said..."cut up slices of bananas and freeze them in a single layer. Once frozen put them in a food processor and process to break them up adding vanilla extract for flavor. Slowly drizzle in almond milk with the machine running until you get "ice cream"... Don't add too much almond milk, just enough to make it look like ice cream. You will be amazed at how this mixture would sware it's ice cream. The mistake I think I made was not using a good ripe banana (it was not sweet enough). So I will do this with riper bananas and maybe the sweetened variety of almond milk. Thank you Mara!!!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Friday Night Bites #12, May 13, 2011

I decided to make "Friday night bites" this week. About a year ago I started doing these small plates every Friday night instead of a "regular meal" and it was good but I gradually went back to "regular meals". I had a couple ideas so I put together this menu...

Charcuterie and Cheese Plate

We went into Boston to "The Butcher Shop" restaurant a few months back and we sat at the bar and had a plate similar to this dish. I combined some good looking Salami and Soppressata from Whole Foods with some of our favorite cheeses (Borough's Market Stilton and Boucheron). I also put some Cornishon's, whole grain mustard, French prunes and creamed clover honey (which we remembered being so good at the restaurant, and it was still good at home). I got some rustic sprouted wheat boule and Whole Foods "Seeduction bread", and I put a few slices of each in the oven for about 10 minutes just to crisp up a bit then drizzled with olive oil. We love this kind of thing to start the meal with a cocktail made by Tony.

Chevre and Walnut Tartlets
I was looking for ideas and this was one of the first ones I came across, it was on Laura Calder's show "French Food at Home". This recipe uses fresh figs and they are just not at the market's right now so I had to use the dry ones and reconstitute them. The tart shell itself is made from store bought frozen puff pastry and instead of letting them puff up in the oven you place rounds of puff pastry on a cookie sheet and place another cookie sheet on top and bake them just like that and they come out like a crisp "cracker". Then you spread on some goat's cheese that you season with salt, pepper, fresh rosemary and a little heavy cream just to make it more spreadable. The figs go on top of the cheese then some toasted walnuts and some reduced port wine and sugar to make a syrup over that. I put some arugula leaves on the plate and the combination of all those flavors was Divine.

Sea Bass Chips over Buttered Snap Peas and Bell Pepper Agra Dulce

This dish came from a combination of two shows I watched over the week. One was Iron Chef America and the other was from a chef named Michel Richard, and I don't recall the show he was on. Iron Chef's secret ingredient was Wreck Fish and on Morimoto's side they made a "chip" out of the secret ingredient by pounding it and coating it in potato starch, then frying it. So, OK I will do that... What should I serve that with? I remembered seeing the show with Michel Ruchard and he julienned snap peas and cooked them in a little chicken stock and a good amount of butter. I did that with maybe less butter but enough so it was rich tasting. He piled the julienne of snap peas on a serving plate and put a shrimp that he made crispy in the bed of snap peas, then drizzled some kind of yummy looking red sauce around the plate. I thought for my dish a bright looking bell pepper Agra Dulce would be a good compliment to my fish chip and the snap peas. I combined a cup of water, 2-3 Tbsp red wine vinegar, 5-6 Tbsp sugar, salt, hot sauce to taste, diced orange bell pepper, 1/2 of a small onion diced and a handful of cherry tomatoes. I think that was it. I cooked it all over low heat until all the vegetables were softened about an hour. By this time the liquid has reduced and I thickened it a bit with just 1/2 tsp cornstarch and a little cold water. So I pounded out some pieces of Chilean Sea Bass to about 1/4 inch thick and seasoned with salt and pepper then the potato starch, fried them in canola oil and it worked like a charm! This was quite good! I will have to do this again as a main dish, just make everything bigger...

Crepes Filled with Orange Cream and Chocolate

I made a basic sweet crepe recipe ahead of time and put them in the refrigerator. When it was time to have dessert I put some butter in a non-stick skillet and just rewarmed two crepes. While they were heating I whipped some heavy cream with some vanilla sugar and orange zest to soft peaks. I melted some bittersweet chocolate in a little hot heavy cream. I also folded some hazelnut praline into the whipped cream. I layed out one crepe and spread a couple tablespoons of chocolate on one side and topped that with some whipped cream (maybe 1/2 cup whipped) then folded it in half then in half again to form a triangle. Garnish with a mint leaf and a bit of chocolate on the plate with some long strips of orange zest (so you know exactly what to expect when you take a bite of the crepe).

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Friday Night, Braised Beef Short Ribs, May 6, 2011

Did you miss me? Well I was here but Tony wasn't for 2 Friday's in a row. I kind of don't know what to do on a Friday if I am not cooking, but I figured it out. I had made some veal stock last weekend (I put the stock in ice cube trays and froze it) so I wanted to use it somewhere in this weeks meal. I saw some good looking short ribs at Whole Foods, and they don't always have them so I grabbed them. I thought the meaty fall apart short ribs with the rich veal stock sauce had to be paired with some fluffy and creamy mashed potatoes (you shouldn't mess with a good thing).

Rosemary Skewered Mozzarella

I saw this on a show, so I made a note to make these this week. We love any kind of bruchetta or crostini and basically this is "that" on a fancy stick. It's 1/2 inch slices of French bread and 1/4-1/2 inch slices of fresh mozzarella and fresh bay leafs skewered with long stems of rosemary and either grilled for a minute or baked in a hot 400 degree oven for 5 minutes. You basically make a sandwich; French bread, mozzarella, bay, French bread, mozzarella, bay and finally French bread. Secure it all by pushing through all the layers with a rosemary skewer that you have removed most of the leaves from (just leaving a couple inches on the end) and then poke another one through going from the opposite end. You will end up with pretty rosemary leaves showing on both sides. Brush the outsides of the bread all around. Bake them or charcoal grill them, plate them and spoon a generous amount of Bagna Cauda sauce over them. The Bagna Cauda sauce is 1 minced garlic clove, equal amount of anchovies chopped (I left those out), 2 oz butter, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 tsp lemon zest, 2-3 tsp lemon juice and salt. You put the garlic and anchovies in a small sauce pan along with the butter and oil; bring to a simmer over low heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the lemon zest and juice and season with salt to taste. It's really a perfect sauce to go with this appetizer.

Braised Beef Short Ribs

I made a seasoned flour by just adding salt and pepper to about 1/4 cup of flour. Dredge the short ribs in the flour and knock off the excess. Heat a large heavy pot on medium-high, once the pan is hot add about 1-2 Tbsp canola oil, once the oil is hot add the short ribs and brown on all sides. Once they are browned about 1/2 cup stewed tomatoes, 1 garlic clove minced and about 1 cup of boiling water. Cover and simmer over low heat for about 1 1/2 hours. Add 1 onion finely chopped and 1 large carrot thinly sliced. Cook another hour adding more boiling water if necessary. Remove the short ribs to a platter and strain the sauce, remove the fat from the sauce (I used a fat separator) pour the sauce minus the fat back into the pan and add veal stock if you have it or just reduce the sauce as is until it tastes delicious and it slightly thickened. Add the short ribs back into the pot and heat through.

Simple Mashed Potatoes- Just made with Yukon Gold potatoes, butter and milk

Simple Blanched Green Beans tossed with Toasted Almond slices- I blanched the beans ahead of time until they were perfectly tender. When I was ready to serve I melted some butter in a skillet and added the green beans. Once the beans are heated through in the butter I added the almonds that I toasted ahead of time and salt and pepper.

Crack Pie

This pie is something they make at Momofuku Milk Bar in NYC. Pastry chef Christina Tosi invented this and it's one of, if not the best seller at David Chang's Milk Bar restaurant. We actually went there one time before I heard about this Crack Pie, being a top seller, I got the Chocolate-Malt cake which I have to say was unbelievable. We will have to plan a trip to NYC again to see if I did a good job with this dessert. If you happen to have the Bon Appetit issue from September 2010 the recipe is in that magazine but you can also get it on line right here... It's a little time consuming but definitely worth it. You make a big oat "cookie", it's a cookie mixture that you spread out into a 13X9 inch baking sheet. After the oat cookie is baked you cool it completely (I made it the day before because of time). Then you crumble the cookie into a bowl and add more brown sugar and more butter. Combine this together and press into a pie dish. Combine the filling ingredients which are 2 kinds of sugar, dry milk powder, salt, butter, heavy cream, egg yolks and vanilla. Pour this mixture into the pie dish and bake for a total of 50 minutes at 350 then turning the oven down to 325. Cool on a cooling rack for 2 hours and then uncovered in the refrigerator overnight. So I started the first step on Wednesday in order to finish it Thursday night so it could chill overnight. But it was really, really good! I heard someone describe it as the filling of pecan pie with an oat cookie crust, and after having it last night Tony said to me..."it tastes like a pecan pie, but without the pecans...". It is served cold. I had a piece after lunch today and I think it got even better...