Monday, June 20, 2011

Friday Night Menu, Steak Diane, June 17,2011

Last weekend we donated some things to the Salvation Army and we went into the Salvation Army store to check it out. Tony found a grilling book that he has been wanting to buy and he found me a Julia Child cookbook, it's her "Menu Cookbook". They were $4.00 each, not bad. So I came across this Steak Diane in my new Julia book. I didn't know exactly what that was so I figured that is what I will make for Friday Night. I think it was a popular dish at one time, I had heard of it before. I also saw the appetizer idea in this same book so I figured..."why not"...
Asparagus Tips in Puff Pastry with Lemon Butter Sauce
I thought it and Tony said it..."It tastes like something you would eat at a fancy French restaurant". Ahead of time I steamed asparagus until it was perfectly cooked and put them in the refrigerator until I was ready to serve. Defrost puff pastry that you buy in the freezer section of the supermarket overnight so it's completely thawed. Unfold the dough and cut rectangle shapes, about 2.5 X3.5 inch pieces (give or take). Place the puff pastry on a sheet pan and brush the tops only with egg wash (being careful not to egg wash the sides), then using a sharp knife make little crosshatches in the surface. Immediately bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for 12-15 minutes. Towards the last couple minutes of baking, make the lemon butter sauce. She said one way to do it and then an alliterative that she learned from Jacques Pepin. You bring 2 Tbsp lemon juice and 2 Tbsp water to a rolling boil then whisk in 1 stick of room temperature butter cut into small pieces a couple pieces at a time. Return this mixture to a rolling boil again for a few seconds. To plate you place one of the puff pastry rectangles on a plate and open like a book. Place asparagus tips (the size of the pastry with a little extra so they show their faces) inside the pastry and spoon the sauce over the tips then place the top pastry on the tips. Very nice.
Steak Diane
I found this video of Julia making her Steak Diane but she didn't make it exactly like it says in her book. I used a rib eye steak, you need 2 steaks cut to about 1/2 inch thickness so I got a one inch steak and froze it for an hour to make it easier to cut. After an hour in the freezer I cut the steak in half, remove all the fat then she says to pound each steak to a 1/4 inch thickness. Olive oil, soy sauce and black pepper rubbed on each side of the steaks and roll up like a rug (she says) until you are ready to serve. When ready heat a pan and add 1 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsp butter, once the foam subsides unroll and add the steaks to the pan. Cook over med-high heat for about 1-2 minutes on each side then remove to a plate in order to make the pan sauce. To the pan add a bit more butter and a minced shallot and minced parsley, stir for a moment then add (I added veal stock that I had, she did a slurry with a bouillon and cornstarch). Then to the pan you add a few droplets of Worcestershire and the juice of a half a lemon. Then a few droplets of Cognac and Madeira wine. Add the steaks back into the sauce to warm through. Plate and pour the sauce over, garnish with more parsley. The sauce comes together very quickly, I didn't really measure because she didn't really say how much of anything, it was very delicious.
Braised and Buttered Kohlrabi
I had planned to do a potato thing, but I came across this kohlrabi in the produce department at Whole Foods. They don't usually have it, if they did I would have made it by now. It's in the turnip family and it's very mild and tastes like a cross between the stem of broccoli and celery root. I read about it and it's usually eaten raw in salads, added to soups and stews and used in stir fries. Leave it to me to go against the norm, but I thought with the Steak Diane, a side dish should be similar to a potato dish (like mashed or at least braised). I just cooked it by peeling it, slicing pieces about 1/2 inch thick and placing them into a shallow pan with a couple Tbsp of butter and a splash of water. Cook, covered over medium-low heat until tender, adding water as necessary.
3-Pea Warm Salad
I combined regular peas, snap peas and pea tendrils to make this side dish. Ahead of time I blanched the regular frozen peas in salted water, drained them and placed in the frig. I blanched the snap peas the same way and chilled them. When I was ready to serve dinner I warmed them in a pan with a Tbsp of butter then at the end tossed in some pea tendrils, salt and pepper.
Shaker Lemon Pie
I was half watching Unique Sweets on the food channel and caught someone talking about how they make a Shaker Lemon Pie and it's unique because they use the whole lemon (rind and all) to make this dessert. I have made lemon pie, lemon tart, lemon meringue pie... but it's just a lemon curd. This is thinly sliced lemons that you let sit in sugar and salt overnight. The next day you finish it with eggs and flour and bake it. What a fantastic thing this is, just try to find thin skinned lemons (they will have more give when you squeeze them). The lemons I used had a very thick rind (that's all that was available) and I came across a couple rinds while I was eating the pie that were just too much. But overall it was fantastic, I am going to try to make it with limes and maybe oranges?? Oh by the way... I made the crust with another hint I heard on Unique Sweets (on another day). I used cold vodka in place of the cold water in the crust. They said you get a super flaky crust because the vodka evaporates more than the water will and you are left with a super light and flaky crust. I would say that it worked pretty well but I will probably go back to ice water, it seems like a waste of good vodka (water is free).

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Friday Night, Stuffed Chicken breast, June 10, 2011

I went to the store with absolutely no ideas for Friday Night Dinner. I always have some kind of idea, I thought I'd probably make something good but not "blog-worthy". I looked at the meat counter at Whole Foods and it was all the same stuff... chicken... steaks... pork chops... what will I make??? Just before the butcher asked what he could get for me I saw something a little different, Cornish Hens, hummmm "I will take two of the Cornish hens"... He gave them to me and I found a spot off to the side and looked up on my phone. One of the first recipes to pop up with 5 stars was cornbread stuffed Cornish game hens. I got the ingredients the recipe called for and sides that sounded like they might go well with the main dish. The strawberries looked good so I will do something with them... I will figure out the rest later...
French Black Olive and Crouton Skewers
This idea just popped into my head when I looked in the refrigerator for an appetizer idea. The olives were left over from the pissaladiere from last Friday night's menu and there was some leftover Sourdough bread from a couple days earlier. I thought I would cube up the bread and brown it in garlic flavored olive oil until it got some nice golden brown color on them and put them onto a small skewer with the very tasty Herbs De Provence black olives. I thought the saltiness of the olives and the crunchy, chewy and garlicky croutons would be a nice snack to have with drinks. They were easy and great with drinks, not too filling, really good.
Cornbread and Apple Stuffed Chicken Breast
So if you read the introduction you are saying..."I thought she got Cornish game hens"... well I did but when I opened them up one looked OK but the other one's skin was very thick looking and torn and there was an unpleasant odor coming from them. I read on-line about what they should look like and I saw that it said to stay away from torn skin and the breasts should be plump. Well these breasts weren't plump and the skin torn and the smell, I couldn't do it. "I will return them and use chicken from the freezer". So that's what I did. I defrosted two chicken breasts and pounded them out to about 1/2 inch thickness. I put a big scoop of the cornbread and apple stuffing in the center and just closed the chicken around the filling as best I could. OK now there is no skin so this is going to dry out..."Tony on your way home can you stop for some bacon or prosciutto?" So I pounded out the thick cut bacon Tony got for me and wrapped it around the chicken to protect it from drying out and come to find out it went really good with the filling and sides. I would have baked them in a 350 oven but I was roasting the sides in a 400 degree oven so I just went with that. I baked them for about 35 minutes uncovered, until an instant read thermometer registers 155-160. I never thought I'd make stuffed chicken breast for Tony because when he worked in the kitchen at Quidnessett Country Club he had to stuff hundreds of chicken breast, but he ended up loving this dish.
Celeriac and Sweet Potato Smash
I have combined celeriac with regular potato a few times, I have had celeriac on it's own but I thought what else can I combine with celeriac just to be different?? I thought sweet potatoes would work and they did. A couple days ago I par-boiled 1 inch cubed Yukon gold potatoes and then tossed them with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted them in a 400 degree oven for 35 minutes or so and they were really good. So I thought I would do the celeriac and sweet potatoes the same way then smash them together so some bits are smooth and some are chunky and some spots you'd get those roasted crispy edges. I didn't put it in the title but I also served green beans simply steamed and tossed with butter, salt and pepper.
Strawberry Pavlovas
I was trying to think of something not too heavy and not too caloric. Egg whites are not fatty... I remembered this dessert I have seen Jamie Oliver do this and The Barefoot Contessa also. I loved these and will do them again. I should have started the meringue earlier but it worked out OK. The heading of the recipe said it would take 1 and 1/2 hours to make but there was a misprint. Where it said inactive prep time, it said 4 minutes but it should have said 4 hours. You really have to let them slowly cool down by shutting off the oven and just leaving them in there then remove them. They will crack if you don't let them cool slowly. It even says to let them cool in the oven overnight if you have the time. Not only did I start them late but I pre-heated the oven for the root vegetables (forgetting that the meringues were still in the oven) thank god I remembered before they were completely ruined.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Friday Night Dinner, Chilean Sea Bass, June 3, 2011

Last week Tony and I watched Eric Ripert make this dish on his show Avec Eric. I had been wanting to make the Chilean sea bass again after trying it for the first time a few weeks back, it was really delicious then and I keep thinking about it. So that's easy, Eric did all the thinking for me, I will make that dish on Friday. I was a little worried because the sauce was the key, he said you have to reduce the port wine to 75% before adding the sherry vinegar and reducing that. You have to catch it at just the right time or it will be bitter. Appetizer and dessert were ideas I had, just floating there in the back of my mind waiting for the right moment to make an appearance.
This is a french appetizer that is pizza like. I saw a couple different recipes where the dough is made like a regular pizza dough and others that used puff pastry (I think puff pastry is the proper way). I made my regular pizza dough recipe but used a whole wheat pastry flour instead of the all-purpose flour I usually use (for no other reason than to try something new). This Pissaladiere is topped with caramelized onions, black French olives and anchovies (I used Sardines because Tony eats those and we have them in the pantry). Bake it in a hot 550 degree oven for 15 minutes and cut into small 2 inch squares. I loved the black olives that I bought at Whole Foods that were marinated in Herbs De Provence. Half of the pissaladiere I left free of sardines because I haven't gotten there yet.
Chilean Sea Bass over Shiitake Mushrooms with Port Wine and Sherry Vinegar Reduction
My first bite was..."wow, it tastes like a very high end restaurant"... and it did. This recipe is really pretty easy, just pay attention to the sauce so it doesn't burn. He used porchini mushrooms but I used shiitake just because they looked good at the store. He says the trick with the sauce to get a mirror like look is once you have reduced it to the right consistency you add cubed softened butter and shake it in (don't stir with a spoon or it will be cloudy) and no salt and pepper or it will ruin the look too (and it doesn't need any seasonings). That sauce was so good and amazing how that technique works. The fish itself is cooked skin side down in canola oil over high heat, pressing it down to get a crisp skin, turn over and I finished mine in the oven (350 degrees for 10 minutes and it was perfect). He uses a black sea bass and it looked to be about an inch thick so he was able to cook it on the stove top the whole time. I used the Chilean sea bass which was more like 2 inches thick so I finished mine in the oven. Nice recipe!
Peach Cobbler with Vanilla Ice Cream
This is a Tyler Florance recipe. I don't think I ever made a cobbler and so to get some direction I looked on and came across this one that had 5 stars. After reading it I remembered seeing this episode and thinking how good it looked and I'd have to make it some day. I read some of the reviews and they were saying there was way too much cobbler topping so I made 1/2 the amount for the topping and the reviewers were right, 1/2 was fine. It didn't cover the fruit completely but I think I like that better because it looks prettier when you see some bubbly fruit peeking through. This was also delicious. Yummmmm!!