Saturday, August 20, 2011

Friday Night, Flounder Filet, August 20,2011

We had just watched "Chucks day off" on the cooking channel in the beginning of the week. That show is not one that we usually watch. It's a good thing we caught it because when I was planning the menu with no idea's I remembered we watched it and we were curious about the "roasted garlic soup with artichoke croutons" and the dessert was an interesting looking recipe for chocolate cake made with eggs, sugar and cocoa powder ONLY, and layered with fresh raspberries and chocolate mousse. I couldn't remember the main dish but I thought I'll make what ever he made on the show. I looked it up on the and printed all three recipes.
Roasted Garlic Soup and Artichoke Croutons
I wasn't sure about this recipe, but they seemed to enjoy it on the show so.... why not give it a go? Very easy and good, this is very similar to a very flavorful onion soup. There are no onions and the crouton that you put on top is much more interesting then the one you get on a French Onion Soup. You start by roasting garlic in the oven for 40 minutes in olive oil, remove the skins from the garlic and mash in a pan. Add flour and stock and that's the soup. After 15 minutes it's done. For the croutons I can't be bothered with using fresh artichokes and cutting them down and cooking until tender and all that. I just get whole artichokes packed in water in a can at Whole Foods ( their 365 brand). I quartered them and sauteed them in olive oil with sliced shallots for 5 minutes like the recipe says, and that worked perfectly fine. You cut some fat slices of bread, I used a French Banquette and top them with the artichoke mixture and some Emmenthal cheese, then under the broiler to brown the cheese. Place the crouton in a bowl and top with the roasted garlic soup, very good!
Flounder Filet on Barley and Vegetables with Grainy Mustard Sauce
As you may know I am a fairly new fish eater and Flounder is one I hadn't tried. The recipe that Chuck made was with a filet of Sole, but Whole Foods didn't have that so I asked the fish monger and he said the Flounder is in the same family and that would be a good alternative. I loved this method of cooking the fish, very simply on a sheet pan with oil, salt and pepper, covered with a piece of parchment paper and in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes ( I did 8 minutes and it was perfect). He served the fish on a bed of barley and vegetables and that was interesting because you cut the vegetables in a very small 1/4 inch dice, it takes a little effort but the end result it very cool. I liked the barley, it seems that's a grain I don't use too much so I was reminded to make barley more. The mustard sauce was perfect on top. Here is the link if you want to make the recipe.
Chocolate Raspberry Cake
So this was luscious looking with 2 layers of rustic chocolate cake and 2 layers of chocolate mousse and fresh raspberries in the middle and on top. I noticed the reviews on this and only 2 people commented and the average was 3 stars. One person raved about it and said they will make it again and the other said it was a terrible recipe. I proceeded with the cake recipe it's 12 eggs separated, you whisk the yolks with 1 cup of sugar then sift and fold in the cocoa powder. Beat the egg whites and fold them together with the yolk mixture...that's it, not flour, no butter or oil, no baking powder or soda, no dairy... So it was different then what I normally make for a chocolate cake ( I liked that). Well it scared me because this enormous amount of batter was for 2-9" cake pans, I did it even though it seemed too much. Well it never over flowed but it did puff up to about 3 inches past the top of the pan, I was worried that it would go everywhere, but it never did. After 20 minutes it still seemed under-cooked so I turned the temperature down a little and let it go another 10 minutes. I checked it again and it still seemed under done so I put a toothpick in and it was done (so maybe it was done after 20, but whether it was or not after a total of 30 minutes it was perfect). I decided the mousse recipe might not work after reading that bad review so I found one that looked easy and different, all made in a blender by Giada, so I did 1 and 1/2 recipes of her recipe (which turned out to be just right for this cake) and reducing the sugar like one comment on that recipe suggested. I made the raspberries just as the recipe says and onto a cake stand I layered this cake up and it sat in the refrigerator and waited for us to eat it! We loved it, it was light and airy and so satisfying!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Friday Night Menu, "Farmstead" Mac and Cheese, August 5, 2011

So a funny thing happened this week.  I looked in the cabinet that holds all my food magazines and I randomly picked a magazine that happened to be Bon Appetit September 2007.  I saw a picture of a macaroni and cheese that I wanted to make when I first got that magazine back in “07 and I never made it.  So I figured I would finally make it, that could be the main dish and I will go from there.   Keep in mind that I never tell Tony what Friday Night Dinner will be, I keep it a surprise until he comes home and reads the chalk board.  This macaroni and cheese dish is from a restaurant in Providence RI that we went to with friends probably 10 years ago, called “Farmstead”… Skip to Friday, while I am preparing dinner, I get an e-mail from Tony who is working very hard.  He sent me the menu of “Farmstead”, and said “we will have to go back here sometime”.  I thought that was funny because we hadn't mentioned that restaurant lately and after so long, he was thinking about going there, while I was making a dish from there.

Tomato Tartare (ta ta for Lisa)

Tony thought I would be interested in the newest “No Reservations” show with host Anthony Bourdain.  So I turned it on and fell asleep 15 minutes later (not because it was boring, I was just tired), but I got this one idea from the show before falling asleep.  It was a show on the closing of the best restaurant in the world.  It’s in Spain and it was called “El Bulli”.  They served Anthony Bourdain this dish called Tomato Tartare.  Tartare is usually raw Steak or Tuna and it’s basically freshly ground, very high quality steak or tuna and it’s mixed with different flavorings, plated and served with crostini toasts.  They said on the show that it tastes exactly like Steak Tartare.  I did what I thought that might be (since they don’t give recipes and I have never had steak tartare).  I skinned 3 meaty local red tomatoes and 1 big fat brownish-red heirloom tomato by making an X on the bottom of the tomatoes and plunging them in boiling water for 12 seconds then plunging them into a bowl of ice water.  The skin comes off very easily.  I seeded the tomatoes and just used the really good full flavored "meat" of the tomatoes.  Chopped them very finely and let them drain over a colander to remove as much water as possible.  After a few hours, to the drained tomato I added 1 small garlic clove minced into a paste, ¼ cup shallots minced to a paste, 1 scant Tbsp capers into a paste, 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard, a scant tsp grated orange zest, 1/8 cup olive oil whisked in, season with salt and pepper.  I plated it with a ring mold and on top I placed just the yolk of an egg that I cooked sunny side up. Tony said it was a very good imitation; he has had steak and tuna tartare’s , he was very impressed. 

“Farmstead” Mac and Cheese

I was just reminded of how good this dish was last night, because I just had it for lunch.  Here is the recipe.  It’s a great cheese combination of cheddar, gruyere and brie.  You start with a white cream sauce by cooking flour and butter for a few minutes then add milk.  When that mixture thickens you add the three cheeses and combine it with pasta that is cooked to al dente.  After spooning the mixture in serving dishes it is topped with the homemade bread crumbs which I have to say was the perfect thing to go on top, then it’s put into a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes, so good!

Chicken and Prosciutto Croquettes

I happened to see these croquettes in the same magazine the mac and cheese was in and I thought they would be the “meat” part of tonight’s dinner.  It was different for me, I hadn’t made croquettes before.  It’s funny because these also have a white sauce (just like the mac and cheese) that is kind of the glue that holds all the ingredients together.  I found the recipe on someone else’s blog, here it is.  These turned out good too, but I wasn’t thinking about color obviously.  The mac and cheese and these croquettes were basically the same color, usually I take color into consideration when planning my menu.

Caramelized Fresh Pineapple Tiramisu

In the same magazine I saw this recipe.  I love tiramisu and I couldn’t imagine it made with pineapple, so I had to make it.  It’s really interesting, it’s almost more summery.  The other thing that interested me about this recipe was that it’s made using the fresh, soft lady fingers that you get in the bakery section of the supermarket.  Whenever I make tiramisu it’s always with the “crunchy” lady fingers from the cookie isle.  This is made by a chef named Pichet Ong.  He gives this “usually Italian” tiramisu a Southeast Asian feel with the pineapple and the coffee mixture includes black tea leaves.  If you make this, keep in mind the recipe calls for 4 -3 oz packages of the lady fingers but you only need 2 -3 oz packages (I will have to invent a dessert with the extra packages I bought).


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Friday night menu - Charcoal Grilled Pork Chops with Bell Pepper Agrodulce

My turn!  Jeanne asked me to handle Friday night dinner this week, so here's how things went.  Time was short so I couldn't plan anything too intricate, but I think it was definitely blog-worthy!

Bucheron cheese & rosemary crostini

OK, I know this is just cheese and crackers.  But I needed something good to keep us satisfied while I put everything together.  Bucheron is a great cheese to try if you haven't had it before.  It's a goat cheese with a gooey outer ring.  Tangy and creamy.  Good stuff.

Charcoal Grilled Pork Chops, Yellow & Orange bell pepper agrodolche, Chile-corn Custard, Fresh Massachusetts green beans

I initially wanted to stay away from the grill for this meal (since that was what Jeanne and everyone else would expect).  But time was short aaaaand.....I have a new grill!  Just purchased the Weber 26.75" One Touch Gold Kettle....very nice!  I paired this with a grilled yellow and orange bell pepper agrodolce.  I had done an agrodolche on a prior Friday night meal and it was great.  Peppers in a sweet/sour vinegar sauce.  Perfect summer grilled main dish!  I paired it with some local fresh green beans and chile-corn custard, a recipe that I found on  This was a great find.  I used fresh local corn that I roasted on the new grill then added to the recipe.  This may have been our favorite part of the meal.  Cheesy, creamy, corn-ey, summer-y! 

Summer berries & cream

Again, I must admit I took the easy way out here.  But it was high quality, summer on a plate!  Fresh rasberries and blueberries mascerated with turbinado sugar and orange liquor, served with fresh vanilla whipped cream.