Sunday, January 29, 2012

Friday Night Menu, Mustard Rubbed Pork with Blackberry-mustard Sauce, January 27, 2012

I was watching "Unique Eats", the Maine episode on the cooking channel, they featured a restaurant that I have been wanting to go to called Fore Street.  One weekend maybe 5 years ago we went to Maine and we happened to stumble upon this restaurant and silly us, tried to walk in and get a table for dinner without a reservation.  It was completely booked and even the bar was full so that was out too.  I see this restaurant once in a while in a magazine or like the Unique Eats show, talking about how amazing this place is.  They showed a dish that looked so good it became the appetizer for tonight's dinner.  The dessert was just a picture I saw on the back cover of a magazine and I had to figure that one out.  The other dishes just fell into place...

Tomato Tart with Goat Cheese Mousse

The show (mentioned above) gives a quick description of how they make this.  The thing they said was that the chef uses a certain kind of tomato that's sweet and meaty and it's only available certain times a year.  I thought the tomato they used looks like Campari tomatoes so I just used some of those.  I drizzled some Sherry vinegar and olive oil into the bottom of an oven safe skillet; about 2-3 Tbsp of each; sprinkle some summer savory in the mix; then cut tomatoes in half and remove the seeds and excess liquid and place the tomatoes on the vinegar and oil skin side down; place a round of puff pastry just the same size as the inside of the pan over the tomatoes; place the pan into a 400 degree oven until the puff pastry puffs and browns slightly; remove the tomato tart from the pan by flipping it out onto a serving dish so the puff pastry in on the bottom and the tomatoes on top; top with a big scoop of goat cheese mousse (recipe below).

I made the goat cheese "mousse" by bringing about 3-4 oz of goat cheese to room temperature; use a hand held mixer to soften the goat cheese further and add a few tablespoons of heavy cream to the cheese; in a separate bowl I beat about 1/4 cup heavy cream and whipped it then folded it into the creamy goat cheese; fold in a pinch of salt, pepper and chopped fresh thyme.  I wanted the texture to be light an fluffy as it looked on the show so that's why I folded the cream in like that. 

This was very good with the vinegar and herbs and the goat cheese mousse but I might have left the whole thing in the oven another 5 minutes after it started to brown because the dough on the inside (near tomatoes) was almost under done.

Mustard Rubbed Pork with Blackberry-Mustard Sauce

I was flipping though some pictures in my Martha Stewart Original Classics cookbook, and this caught my eye.  Here it is.  It was so good with the blackberries.  Instead of the 2 Tbsp of spice mixture that's rubbed onto the pork I would suggest doing more like 1 1/2 tablespoons.  It was a little too much.

Butternut Squash Palpettone

I happened to catch this on Molto Mario one day and it looked good so I had this idea sitting around until it was a good time to make it, and I thought this was the time.  Here it is.  We loved the idea of this and we thought you can do variations of this with maybe more sweet as a dessert maybe with an orange syrup over top or more savory with maybe some texture from one of my favorite things, almond flour.  It's a smooth texture and easy to make.

Broccoli Rabe

I simply blanched the Rabe in boiling salted water for 5 minutes; drain; saute in olive oil and garlic; season with salt and pepper.

Apple Caramel Pie with Cornmeal Crust and Crumb Topping A' La Mode

This was, as I said above, a picture I saw on the back cover of a magazine.  I love the idea of a traditional apple pie with a crumb topping instead of a top crust and caramel drizzled over the top after baking.  The picture looked like it had a different crust and to me it looked like cornmeal (who knows, but that's what I did).  Since I had Martha's book out I flipped through it for a cornmeal crust and found this one.  I peeled and sliced Braeburn apples ( I used 3 apples but I made just 2 small portions in little baking dishes I have) tossed the apple slices with about 1/8 cup of sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg to taste with a pinch of salt.  To make the crumble topping I combined 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar, 1/2 cup flour, 1/8 cup brown sugar, pinch of cinnamon and salt, then with about 2-3 Tbsp of softened butter I smooched it all together to create clumps or crumbs. 

To bring it all together I lined the pie dishes with about 1/4 thickness of the pastry, pile in the apples as high as you can without them spilling out ( because they will shrink down), pile the crumb mixture over the apples; place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes and then bake (with a sheet pan under the dishes in case it leaks out) in a 350 degree oven for about 50 minutes or until the apples are soft and the juices are bubbling.  I let it cool and topped with homemade caramel sauce; serve with vanilla ice cream on top, yummm!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Friday Night Menu, Super Creamy Mac and Cheese with Spicy Chorizo, January 20, 2012

We got the new Saveur magazine and I saw this appetizer that sounds like something I make but done differently.  It's a hummus, which I tend to make a lot because it's so good and good for you, but the difference is the mushrooms of course that you fry and put over the top but also that it's dryer than normal.  Usually the olive oil is incorperated right into the hummus, but here you don't mix any in, it's all just drizzled over the top.  Same with the pine nuts that are toasted first and just sprinkled over the hummus on the serving dish.  Unique Eats on foodnetwork talked about this restaurant serving a mac and cheese with spicy chorizo mixed in and a filo filled with goat cheese and chorizo on top, as Tony and I watched it we both said "oh, that looks really good", so I had to make that the main dish.  For dessert I was drooling as I watched Laura Calder on French Food at Home make this orange cake, I had to do it.

Hummus with Wild Mushrooms

This was in the Saveur magazine as Hummus with Hen of the Woods Mushrooms, but of course they weren't at the store so I found this mix of wild mushrooms (oyster, shiitaki and baby bella), I also grabbed a couple good looking trumpet mushrooms just in case I needed a bit more.  I found the recipe here on line.  I didn't use the Tahini because I know it would go to waste in my house ( it happened before I bought a whole thing, used a tablespoon and the rest just sat there).  Tahini is sesame paste which is good but I like my hummus without it just as much.  So what I did just to give it some sesame flavor was I bashed a couple tablespoons of the seeds in my mortar and pestle and just added that to the mix.  I also just shallow pan fried the mushrooms instead of the deep frying as the recipe directed me to do.  I of course made slightly less than half of the recipe because 6 cups is way too much hummus for me and Tony. We liked this a lot, nice and healthy too!

Super Creamy Mac and Cheese with Spicy Chorizo Topped with a Filo Package

So as I said above we saw the show Unique Eats and they talked about this dish but of course they don't tell you how it's done (they want you to go to their restaurant and buy a dish of it).  They said they used 3 special cheeses, and they said it's topped with a crispy filo triangle filled with goat's cheese and spicy chorizo.  So that tells me one of the cheeses they use is goat's cheese, the other two I decided to go with an aged Fontina and this other one at Whole Foods called Raclette Reading (I never had that one but the sign said it was a good melting cheese and so I gave it a shot).  Here is what I did...

I grated the two cheeses, about 1/4 lb each, of the Fontina and the Raclette Reading, I crumbled about 2 or 3 oz of the goat's cheese and put all the cheeses onto a small plate, set aside. 

Heat 4 Tbsp of butter in a skillet to melt and add 1/4 cup of flour and whisk; cook the flour for a minute or two; add 2 3/4 cups of warmed milk slowly while whisking; continue to whisk and cook this mixture for 8 minutes or so; remove the pan from the heat and add kosher salt to taste, a few grinds of fresh nutmeg, freshly ground black pepper and all the cheese; stir until the cheese has melted into the cream sauce; cook pasta (I used Strozzapreti, you can use elbow) until al dente; drain and toss with the cheese sauce; pour into a buttered baking dish and top with some fresh bread crumbs that you tossed with a little olive oil; bake in a 375 degree oven for 10 minutes or until the bread crumbs on top start to brown.


I was planning on doing roasted broccoli which I have done before and it is so good.  You break the broccoli down into florets and toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Place the florets onto a sheet pan and roast in a 400 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until you get some nice toasty edges on the broccoli. I forgot to do this in advance, I was thinking too much about my mac and cheese so I ended up just steaming the broccoli and tossing it with butter, salt and pepper...this is good too.

Orange Almond Cake with Whipped Cream and Chocolate Mints

So I love these kinds of cakes that are moist and flavorful using almond flour, I love an olive oil cake with citrus, so this was so delicious looking to me.  Here is the recipe.  It was easy and very good!  I took mine out of the oven 10 minutes early and it was done, I also used a 9 inch spring form pan.  She didn't say what size pan she uses in the recipe, maybe she used a 7 or 8 inch and the timing would be longer like she says.  By the way for the "chocolate mints" I just melted some bittersweet chocolate and dipped in some fresh mint leaves, and let them harden on a sheet pan in the refrigerator. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sloshed: How to Order a Proper Drink in Any Bar, Anywhere

Tony here...Found this article while cruising Really good advice to ensure you get an enjoyable drink in any bar/restaurant you may visit!!  Click the link below....

Sloshed: How to Order a Proper Drink in Any Bar, Anywhere

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Friday Night Dinner, Pot-au-feu, January 13, 2012

I flipped through my French Feasts cookbook and saw "Pot-au-feu".  Doesn't that sound like a classic French dish??  But what is it??  I had to read the recipe to remind myself and I realized I had that at a friends house about 4-5 years ago.  It's like a cross between a New England boiled dinner and a  beef stew but it's made using short ribs.  I thought I'd keep the "French Classic" theme going.  I flipped through and saw a Nicoise Salad, which I had never made and then....oh, yes the apple tarte tatin....ok done!

Salade Nicoise

This book gave a recipe but said use what ever is fresh.  The things that must be used for the Nicoise salad are tuna, hard boiled eggs, black Nicoise olives, anchovies and some recipes I looked at had cooked potatoes, Julia's included a potato salad added to this green salad.  They pretty much all use tuna packed in water from a can but I wanted to use fresh tuna.  So I did my own thing by spreading out some arugula and Mache greens on a small platter that we would share.  I placed these colorful ingredients over the greens...sliced red bell pepper...blanched and shocked green beans... hard boiled eggs cut in half... small tomatoes cut in half... black olives... green olives stuffed with almonds (just for fun)... anchovies (for Tony) and of course the tuna; seasoned with salt, pepper and rubbed with olive oil then seared it in a non-stick skillet, leaving it slightly pink in the center.  I liked the look of Julia's dressing which was the juice of 1/2 of a lemon, zest of 1/2 lemon, Dijon Mustard, salt and pepper; whisk together and drizzle in some extra virgin olive oil (ratio 1 part lemon to 2 parts oil).  I drizzled the salad with the dressing just before eating and I served a French Baguette that I heated in a hot oven for about 4-5 minutes. 


Like I said this is like a New England boiled dinner.  Here are the ingredients in the book...

1 lb 2 oz short ribs
1 lb 2 oz beef shin (I didn't use)
1 Oxtail (I didn't use)
3 Marrow bones (I didn't use)
6 carrots
3 onions studded with 4 cloves
6 potatoes ( I used fingerling potatoes braised separately with a little water and butter)
1/2 head of green cabbage
6 turnips
3 leeks
1 bouquet garni
4 celery stalks
course salt

The short ribs are tied to hold their shape during cooking and you put them in a pot and cover with lot's of water.  Bring to a boil and add the bouquet garni, onions and chunks of celery and simmer for 2 hours.  Add the peeled and chopped carrots, turnips, leeks, cabbage, and marrow bones (which I didn't use).  Season with coarse salt and cook for and additional hour.  Cook the potatoes separately.  Gently remove the meat and vegetables from the broth and serve with coarse salt and cornichons.  The name sounds fancy but whatever is said in French sounds fancy.

Apple Tarte Tatin

I planned on making the recipe from this French Feast book but I had trouble with the caramel so I just switched over to Jacques Pepin's book and followed his which worked much better.  I found the recipe on line so I don't have to type it again.  I followed his general recipe but I decided not to add the apricots but I did add some slivered almonds as he recommends.  I used "honey crisp" apples because they didn't have the "golden delicious" in the store this week.  I also had planned to do the other tarte tatin recipe which called for puff pastry so I used that which worked very nicely.  This was very good and I will make it over and over again!  I served it with whipped cream lightly sweetened with powdered sugar.

Monday, January 2, 2012

New year's eve 2011

My family came on New year's eve this year, I decided on a Buche de Noel for dessert, It was a big hit.  I followed Jacques Pepin's recipe in his new book, Essential Pepin, and meringue mushrooms from the Joy of Cooking.