Sunday, December 2, 2012

Braised Short Ribs step-by-step (for John) and lots more...

Who doesn't love a good short rib once in a while?  You should plan on making this a day ahead so the flavors have time to meld in the refrigerator overnight.  Here, I go step by step to show you how I did it.  Start with bone-in short ribs. You want them to be meaty and have good marbling, because as you will see they shrink down quite a bit once the bone is removed and the marbling melts away.  

Season with salt and pepper then dredge in flour (knocking off the excess)

Brown on all sides in canola or grape seed oil.  Do it in batches so you don't overcrowd the pan if you have to.  

Here I have bundled together some aromatics in cheesecloth.  An onion chopped, a couple each of carrots and celery, 6-7 garlic cloves just crushed and 2 bay leafs. 

Tie a pretty bow with kitchen twine.  This will make it easy to remove later so the vegetables don't cling to the meat (have this ready before browning the meat).

In a dutch oven add the browned meat and nestle the aromatics in the center.  Pour a couple cups of red wine and stock to come up almost to the top of the meat.  I used homemade turkey stock because that's what I had but use whatever you want, low sodium beef stock is probably the best.  Add a diced tomato or two and heat on the stove top.  Bring to a gentle boil then reduce to a simmer.  Place into a 300 degree oven for 3 hours.  Check it after it's been in for 15 minutes to make sure it's not boiling to hard, you want a gentle simmer, you may need to turn the oven down a little (or up if it's not simmering).

This is what it looks like after 3 hours (not too appetizing right now).

Take the meat out onto a plate and remove the bone (which sometimes completely falls out on it's own) and the fat layer that was over the bone (see below)

Strain the liquid then pour it into a fat separator. Pour the degreased liquid into a medium saucepan and reduce it by boiling it for 5-10 minutes.  I started with about 3 1/2 cups of liquid and I boiled it to about 2 cups.  Put the meat into the liquid, place the lid on top, let it cool a bit and put it in the refrigerator overnight.  This is the kind of thing that tastes much better the next day.  

So above is the braised short ribs with the reduced sauce.  I nestled the beef into the liquid as much as I could, covered the pot and put it in the refrigerator until the next night.

I reheated the short ribs gently on medium or medium-low until the meat is heated through.  Saute mushrooms in a skillet, seasoning them with salt and pepper until they taste perfect then add them to the short rib pot.  Thicken the sauce with a "beurre manie" (burr mahn-YAY) which is  kneaded butter and flour.  I used 2 tablespoons of softened butter and 2 tablespoons of flour, just blended together with your fingertips or the tines of a fork.  Whisk in a little at a time and as it comes back to a simmer it will thicken nicely. Add chopped parsley if you like for color.

Check to see if you need some salt and pepper by tasting a bit of the sauce, and if it does add it now then stir through before plating.

Plate the short ribs over mashed potatoes being sure to spoon plenty of the sauce around...
Serve with a glass of red wine..

Chicken Piccata with lentils and Brussels sprouts

This chicken breast is lightly pounded so it's an even thickness.  Season with salt and pepper, dust with flour and in a nonstick skillet cook it on both sides in a tablespoon each of butter and olive oil.  When the chicken is almost cooked through deglaze with 1/3 cup or so of white wine or vermouth, squeeze in the juice of a lemon and add a couple tablespoons of capers.  Cook for a couple more minutes to reduce the liquid.  Add a tablespoon of butter and swirl it in off the heat.  

Pork Meatballs and homemade fettuccine 

When you make a meatball using only ground pork something wonderful happens.  I'm never happy with the texture when I use beef.  I make a pretty basic meatball using eggs, parsley, Parmesan, bread crumbs... A couple different things is I use Panko bread crumbs to thicken it towards the end of mixing but I also use day old bread that's soaked in milk.  I always saute some diced onions with garlic and chili pepper flakes to soften and add the cooled onion mixture to the meat mixture, this time I added finely chopped fennel to the onions that went into the meatball and into the tomato sauce.  I was very happy with this one...

Roasted cauliflower with lemon aioli

I roasted some cauliflower with olive oil, salt and pepper, until it gets lightly browned on the edges and towards the end I drizzled a little more olive oil,  sprinkled on Panko bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese and let that form a crust over top.  I made the aioli in my mortar and pestle with a garlic clove, egg yolk, salt, pepper, a teaspoon of white wine vinegar and drizzle olive oil until an emulsion is formed (up to a cup).  Squeeze in the lemon juice from about a half a lemon until it has a perfect lemon aioli taste (you may need more salt and pepper).  Yummy just dipping the cauliflower in as an appetizer.

Egg, ricotta and baby spinach bake served on a bed of ratatouille 

I made the ratatouille by chopping onion, yellow bell pepper, eggplant and zucchini into a small dice.  Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and get the onion and eggplant in first and saute for about 10 minutes then add the bell pepper, zucchini and a couple garlic cloves crushed but left whole so you can take them out later. While all that is cooking slowly in the olive oil, add more olive oil if needed (the eggplant absorbs a lot) dice up some tomatoes (1 or 2 depending on size) that you have removed the seeds and skin from.  Let it cook slow for a good 30-40 minutes in total.  Check for seasoning.  Mmmm!  

For the egg dish I sauteed baby spinach until perfectly cooked and put that at the bottom of a small baking dish.  Drop in 1 inch squares of Brie evenly (as much as you want), sprinkle with Panko bread crumbs (a good handful).  Whisk together in a mixing bowl 4 eggs, 1 cup of ricotta, salt, pepper and fresh ground nutmeg. Pour this mixture over the Panko layer and place in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until just cooked through.  This was surprisingly good and we loved the texture.

Mixed berry yogurt freeze
My new toy is a Vitamix (heavy duty blender) that Tony got me as an early Christmas present.  The recipe book that came with it gave this recipe using frozen strawberries.  We made it with mixed frozen berries (1 lb), 1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt and 1/3 cup sugar.  

Vanilla "ice cream" done in the Vitamix.

I put ice cream in quotes because it's really "ice 2% milk".  It's right in the recipe book of the Vitamix.  All it is is 1 cup milk of your choice, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup nonfat milk powder, a splash of vanilla and 4 cups of ice!  Look what you get, it's so good!  By the way that recipe makes 5 cups of "ice cream", so much less calories than a real ice cream.  I made a caramel sauce and since I had it I thought I'd top the ice cream with it.

Breakfast smoothie (in Vitamix)

I was looking on line at smoothie recipes and I came across this one that's packed with nutrition and it was good and filling.  It's 2-3 cups of fresh kale, 1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries, 1 1/2 cup frozen blackberries, 1/2 frozen banana, 2 Tbsp flax seeds and 1 cup unsweetened vanilla flavored almond milk.

Rubik's Cube

I brought this to our friends house as an appetizer.  I saw it on line and had to copy it.  You can use any combination of fruit you like, I used seedless watermelon, pineapple, kiwi and feta.  Try to cut them all the same size, good quality ingredients and stack them up.

Bread pudding with golden raisins and vanilla bourbon sauce

This was supposed to have dried sour cherries in it too but I forgot to buy them :(  It was still good but it would have been better with the cherries.  This was in the Imbibe magazine that we just got in the mail.  Let me know if you want the recipe, I couldn't find the link on line but I will type it up if someone is interested.

Jeanne's cake

I figured I'd invent a cake so I went and separated 4 eggs, beat the yolks with 1/2 cup sugar, mixed in 1/4 cup olive oil, splash of vanilla.  I whisked together 1/2 cup flour, 1/2  cup almond flour, a pinch of salt and folded that into the yolk mixture.  Whisk the whites with cream of tarter and fold that in.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Dust with confectioners sugar and garnished with strawberries.  Very good but I will make it again with 1/4 cup more sugar and scant 1/2 cup of both flours.  

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Cookin' with gas...

Chicken Saltimbocca, potato gratin and green beans.

Saltimbocca is chicken breast pounded out pretty thin, about 1/8 of an inch, and topped with fresh sage and prosciutto then rolled back together and secured with a toothpick.  You then brown on both sides in a skillet with a tablespoon or two each of butter and olive oil.  Cover and let the chicken cook through for 5-10 minutes or so (it depends on the size of the chicken and how thin you pounded it out).  I removed the chicken from the pan and deglazed with a little chicken stock and a squeeze of lemon juice, let it reduce a little and swirl in about a tablespoon or so of butter off the heat, pour over chicken.

Potato gratin
This is probably the best potato dish there is.  It's thinly sliced Yukon gold potatoes layered in a gratin dish with salt, pepper and heavy cream between the layers then finished with cream just barely covering on top and a couple pieces of butter so it browns nicely.  After layering all the ingredients in the gratin dish cover it with aluminum foil and bake it in a 375 degree oven for about 30-45 minutes or until you can easily pierce the potatoes with the tip of a knife.  Remove the foil and let it cook until it's all bubbly around the edges and the top is browned.  

Roasted Butternut Squash, carrots, onions, garlic and thyme.

I made these roasted vegetables and the thyme bread stuffing (below) to go along with a whole roasted chicken.  Talk about comfort food!!

For the roasted vegetables I cut all the vegetables in uniform sizes so they cook at about the same rate.  I tossed them all together with olive oil, salt, pepper and a cinnamon stick just for fun.  Roasting until everything is cooked through and lightly browned which takes about 40 minutes in a 400 degree oven. 

Leftover Spaghetti Cake

I sauteed slices of a small eggplant with slices of onion.  I had ready 2 beaten eggs with a couple spoons of ricotta cheese, salt and pepper.  Add leftover spaghetti to the skillet and toss to heat through.  Add the egg mixture and distribute evenly, let it cook on one side, flip over and cook the other side.  The edges are crispy and the center is soft.  I put a little tomato salad on top.  An excellent lunch that was quick, easy and yummy!

Pan seared Salmon with Puttanesca Sauce and Brown Rice

I actually did my version of puttanesca sauce.  The real sauce has tomatoes, onions, capers, black olives, anchovies, oregano and garlic all cooked together in olive oil.  I heated some olive oil and added shallots, garlic, capers, lemon zest, tomatoes and I think I used fresh thyme here (but you can use whatever fresh herb you want).  

Corn and Basil Risotto

I made a risotto and add frozen corn towards the end of cooking along with fresh basil chiffonade.  It was quite good, I must say...

Sausage and Potato

In a baking dish I combined slices of hot Italian pork sausage, wedges of Yukon Gold potatoes, whole garlic cloves, torn pieces of day old chibata bread, olive oil, paprika, salt, pepper and rosemary.  Roast at 400 degrees for 40 minutes tossing half way through.  The bread in it is really good, it soaks up the juices and gets a nice crusty edge on it.  I finished with a little fresh Thyme.

Chicken Pot Pie

I sauteed some mushrooms separately to get the best flavor out of them.  I finely diced the vegetables and sauteed them in butter and oil until tender, made a roux with the fat in the pan and poured in homemade chicken stock, add the mushrooms and poured into a baking dish.  I let it cool slightly so the pie crust that I placed on top would stay cold before baking (which it the key to a flaky crust) 

Chicken Salad Crostini appetizer

I was watching John Besh and he was making this dish with crab.  I thought... "I'll do that with the leftover chicken I have in the frig"... He didn't measure anything it depends how mush chicken or crab you have.  I minced 1 shallot, a couple spoons of mayonnaise, a spoon of mustard, a few dashes of white wine vinegar, hot sauce to taste, the whites of 1 or 2 hard boiled eggs finely diced, cayenne, lemon juice, capers, fresh tarragon and fresh chives.  Mix that all together and I chopped up the egg yolks and used that as the base of the dish.  This was very flavorful and a different appetizer.  I may make all my chicken salads like that from now on...

Artichoke Croutons to go with roasted garlic soup

I didn't get a picture of the soup but it is so good, I made it before and I had been thinking about it.  I had a cold last week and it hit the spot!  It's a Chuck Hughes recipe, here it is 

Braised Chicken with Roasted Peppers

This is a whole chicken cut into 12 pieces, season with salt and pepper then dredged in flour.  Brown the chicken pieces in olive oil in a cast iron pan.  Once browned on one side, turn over to brown the other side and add 5-6 garlic cloves peeled and just crushed lightly.  Cut a roasted red pepper into 1 inch strips and the same for a yellow pepper and add to the pan.  Sprinkle in a pinch or two of dried oregano and about 3/4 cup of white wine, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or so or until cooked through.  So good, reminded me a sweet and sour chicken from a Chinese restaurant for some reason.

NY Strip with Creamed Corn and Rice Pilaf 

This creamed corn was gooood!!!  It's 2 whole corn on the cobs that are rubbed with  butter and seasoned with salt and pepper, wrapped in foil, placed on a baking dish and cooked for 30 minutes on 350.  Heat heavy cream, about 1/2 cup in a saucepan with about 2 teaspoons of grated fresh ginger, salt and pepper.   Cut the kernels off and add them to a saucepan.  Continue to simmer together for about 10 minutes to infuse the corn flavor into the cream then add a handful of Gruyere cheese off the heat.  Stir together and its fantastic!

 For the rice pilaf, I had some leftover brown rice.  I heated some butter and oil to a skillet then added a sliced shallot, cook and add the leftover rice.  Cook for 10 minutes or so and add some toasted pine nuts and fresh thyme.

Smoked Kielbasa, Chick Peas, Onions and Red Bell Pepper served with toast.

I made this very fast with some Kielbasa from the freezer.  Sear the Kielbasa in a skillet add onion, slices of bell pepper and when everything is pretty much cooked perfectly add a can of drained chick peas a splash of chicken stock and I finished it in a very French way, with beurre manie, which is kneaded butter and flour added at the end of cooking just to thicken the sauce. 

Eggplant, Zucchini and Spinach Lasagna

Lidia was making this by breading slices of eggplant and zucchini with flour, eggs mixed with milk and the bread crumbs were seasoned with salt and pepper then a lot of olive oil added to make like wet sand.  Bread as you would normally, brushing off excess bread crumbs, place on a sheet pan, then bake in a 375 oven for about 25 minutes until they a partially cooked and lightly browned.  Meanwhile saute spinach just as you would for a side dish with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic. Layer in a lasagna pan some tomato sauce, the eggplant, sauce, grated fresh mozzarella, grated Parmesan, zucchini, sauce, cheeses, spinach, sauce and so-on until all ingredients are gone.  Finish with sauce, grated mozzarella and then the grated Parmesan.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 375 for 30 minutes then remove the foil and bake another 15 minutes or until it's browned on top.

Fresh Sweet Potato ravioli with Trumpet Mushrooms and Cherry Tomatoes

If I remember right, the ravioli filling is mashed sweet potato mixed with ricotta cheese, cinnamon, pine nuts, salt, pepper and an egg.  To make the sauce it's just mushrooms seared in a skillet with butter and oil then add a little pasta water and tomatoes.  Toss the cooked ravioli in with the mushrooms and add some kneaded butter and flour to thicken.

Apple Crepe Tart

I forget who I was watching but they made a crepe batter and had thin slices of apple ready.  Butter the crepe pan or small non stick skillet and pour a little of the batter in, as if you were making crepes.  Once its in the pan add slices of apples to the uncooked side in a fancy layer, dust with confectioners sugar (removing the pan from the heat if it's cooking too fast).  Flip the crepe over and add about 1-2 Tbsp of heavy cream around the edges of the crepe.  Brown on the apple side and cook through the apple which only takes a couple minutes.  Between the butter in the pan and the confectioners sugar added to the apple side, then the heavy cream added at the end you get a caramel.  Flip out the crepe to a serving dish, dust with confectioners sugar and serve with ice cream or in this case Chantilly cream.

Pear Crumble with Vanilla Ice Cream

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Homemade sourdough bread and some other things...

After trying to make a sourdough starter a couple times (in order to make sourdough bread) in the past and getting frustrated because it wasn't working, I finally succeeded!!
I was looking on-line for a recipe and I came across one that sounded like it might work, here it is...

After mixing the rye flour and water it looks as you would imagine.

This was after 5-6 days of feeding it each day more flour and water ( I didn't get a shot of the final day).
You can see more bubbles and it's starting to smell like sourdough bread.

I did make the sourdough bread recipe that was given in the link above, but I wasn't happy with it.  I did what the link above says to do which is to put the starter in the refrigerator and feed it, but less often just to keep it going.  I did my own thing and used all purpose flour instead of rye flour (because it was too "rye" tasting).  I also did my own thing and followed Jim Lahey's no-kneed method.  Which is easy as can be but in place of a little flour and the yeast I added about 1/2 cup of the starter and let it sit for 18 hours before doing Jim Lahey's final step and baking it off which is to bake it in a cast iron pot.  It was very delicious!!

I roasted some eggplant and onions.  I layered the roasted vegetables in this baking dish along with some goat cheese, some jarred roasted peppers and diced tomato.  I drizzled some balsamic vinegar and olive oil over it all and let it sit for an hour or so and served it with the fresh out of the oven sourdough bread!

Artichokes filled with mushroom duxelles and a crunchy top
basically you saute finely diced shallots with finely diced Bella mushrooms and after they begin to brown season with salt and pepper, deglaze with Mederia wine and finish with a splash of heavy cream.  Fill the jarred artichokes that you cut in half the long way with this duxelles filling and top with a combination of bread crumbs and olive oil then sprinkle over top.  Bake until browned on top and heated through.

Devil's on horseback
This is dried prunes (re-hydrated with port wine) filled with a whole almond in the center and bacon wrapped around.  Broil until the bacon is cooked and for some reason they serve these with toast points.  I didn't think the toast points were necessary but I read that is what they do in Britten. 

Salad with a crust-less leek tart and Hibiscus flour stuffed with goat cheese
I had a drink recently that had a hibiscus flour at the bottom of the glass.  To recreate that drink at home I got these flowers at the liqueur store and the bottle suggested this appetizer so I did it.

Pan seared salmon with mushroom polenta and peas

Homemade ravioli filled with ricotta, basil and pine nuts with a tomato cream sauce

Deviled eggs topped with radish
I flavored these with mayo, mustard, apple cider vinegar, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper

New York Strip steak with roasted asparagus and roasted Russet potato

Pear cupcakes with caramel, cream cheese frosting and a pear chip