Sunday, June 17, 2012

New idea's for dinner...

Hot cherry peppers with fresh goat cheese and garnished with fresh thyme tops.  A perfect bite to go with drinks.

Kale and Gruyere twice baked potatoes

Coat 2 russet potatoes with olive oil and a generous sprinkling of kosher salt and roast in a 400 degree oven for about an hour or until the potato is cooked all the way through; cut the tops off and scoop out the potato, leaving about 1/4 inch around the edges; mash the potato with butter, warmed milk, salt, pepper, fresh thyme and Gruyere cheese; have ready some sauteed baby kale cooked in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper; fill the bottom with kale and top it with the creamy potato and top again with some more grated Gruyere; place under the broiler to brown; while you brown the filled potato also coat the top with oil and place under the broiler to crisp up and become like a big french fry.  I just made a edamame and cherry tomato salad to go on the side.

Stuffed Baby Bella mushrooms with goat cheese, fresh bread crumbs, Shiitaki mushrooms, shallots and fresh thyme

I saute the Shiitaki with shallot, mix it the thyme, bread crumbs and season with salt and pepper; fill Baby Bella shells half way with goat cheese; fill the rest of the way with the Shiitaki filling and bake for about 25 minutes at 375 degrees or until the Baby Bella's start to cook down and the filling gets bubbly and browned.

Leek Tart

My friend works with a guy that has cooked for Julia Child, and he actually made this exact recipe for her and she loved it.  My friend knows me and copied the recipe for me...

Make a pie dough and line a 10.5 inch tart pan with it, chill for 30 minutes or until firm; preheat the oven to 425; prepare the filling, trim and clean 12 small leeks and roughly chop them; melt 4 Tbsp butter in a saucepan over low heat ; add the leeks, 1 tsp salt and black pepper to taste; cook, covered until the leeks are very soft but not browned, about 20 minutes, if the leeks have given off a lot of excess liquid, drain (which I did); combine 2 large eggs, 1/4 cup Creme Fraiche in a medium bowl and mix well, add the leeks and mix again; add 3 slices of Parma ham coarsely chopped and about 3/4 cup of Gruyere cheese; pour the leek mixture into the prepared tart shell and top with 1 more slice of Parma ham chopped and 1/4 cup more Gruyere cheese; season generously with freshly ground black pepper; bake until browned about 40-45 minutes; serve warm or at room temperature.
Pork tenderloin with bean sprouts, Enoki mushrooms, red chili peppers over vermicelli rice noodles

I marinated the pork by first cutting pieces about 1 1/2 inch pieces and dropping them into a combination of white wine, garlic, ginger, rice wine vinegar and honey for about 1-2 hours; drain the pork from the marinade and brown in olive oil on all sides and cook through 90% of the way; remove the pork and set aside while you cook the vegetables, add sliced onion then sliced celery; after a couple minutes add a hand full of bean sprouts and the "noodle-like mushrooms" Enoki mushrooms; add a splash of chicken stock and cook until the vegetables are cooked as you like them and add the pork back in; heat through; soak the vermicelli noodles in boiling water for about 3 minutes and remove to your serving dish then top with the pork mixture; garnish with some celery leaves and thinly sliced red chili.  This was a healthy version of a stir fry, I didn't want to add soy sauce and cornstarch, I wanted to keep it clean and healthy.  It was very good

Baby purple and white carrot salad with orange dressing

It looks like sardines at first glance but Whole Foods had these "just picked looking" baby carrots, that came in 3 colors.  I chose the purple and white but they had the orange ones too.  I peeled and cleaned up the carrots then braised them in a tsp of butter and a splash of water until they were perfectly tender earlier in the day; I hard boiled 2 eggs and separately chopped them finely; To assemble I plated some greens (arugula and baby kale) on a white plate and laid down the precooked carrots that I cut in half, the eggs over that and  the thing that really made this incredible was the orange dressing I made to top it all.  Heat a small saucepan over medium heat with a Tbsp of olive oil then add a shallot finely chopped, juice 1 1/2 oranges and about 1 Tbsp of honey into the shallots and cook to reduce; add a pinch of salt and ground black pepper; strain into a small bowl and add the zest of one orange; spoon this over the chopped egg and carrots; season with fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper

Braised chicken thighs with celeriac, potato, onion and pancetta 

I seasoned the bone-in skin-on chicken thighs with salt and pepper and browned them skin side down in a stainless steel skillet coated with a little grape seed oil; when the skin is crisp remove the chicken to a plate and drain all but a Tbsp of the fat; add chopped red onion, celeriac and potato chopped; stir around and coat the vegetables in the oil, adding more if you need to, season with salt and pepper; add a splash of white wine and a splash of chicken stock (maybe 1/4 cup each); add the chicken back in and place in a 350 oven for 35 minutes; add a couple handfuls of green seedless grates and put it back in the oven for 5 minutes; remove the chicken and keep warm; reduce the liquid along with the vegetables right in the skillet on top of the stove until you get a nice "sauce" consistency; plate the chicken and spoon some of the vegetables and sauce around.  Yum

Swordfish over tomatoes and capers

I followed a recipe from the Barefoot Contessa for this.  I must have seen this episode a few times and when I was at the store I saw the swordfish, I thought of this, here is the recipe.  It was so good, the combination is great.  The next morning I heated some of the tomato and capers combination and served a poached egg over and it was excellent!

Brioche bread pudding with rhubarb and cardamon whipped cream

I bought some rhubarb because it looked good but wasn't sure what I was going to make with it.  I also bought some brioche buns and I thought of a bread pudding when I got them.  Little did I know I was going to combine the two ideas.  I also had a third idea and it was sticky toffee pudding, I looked it up to see what it was made from because I thought it might be made like a bread pudding, well not really, but one of the ingredients was chopped dates.  I decided to add dates and cooked and sweetened rhubarb to my bread pudding.  It was a 6 pack of buns and they were all stuck together, so I kept them together and cut open like a sandwich and again so I had 3 layers.  In a loaf pan I spread some butter then one layer of  brioche; sprinkle on some chopped Medjool dates; then add the middle layer of brioche; and then the rhubarb that I cooked with sugar, a splash of water, a pinch of salt and cardamon to flavor; top with the top layer of the brioche buns and prick all over with the tines of a fork to help it really soak in when you add the custard; to make the custard mix together 3 eggs, 1 1/2 cups of milk, a generous 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 tsp of cinnamon and a tsp of vanilla; pour this custard slowly over the top, it may take about 5 minutes to let it settle and let it soak in by helping it along with the tines of a fork; allow it to sit for about 15 minutes before placing it into a 350 degree oven for about 35 minutes or until the top starts to puff up.  The whipped cream is just whipped and flavored with cardamon, vanilla and confectioners sugar, good stuff!

Rice pudding with cherries and slivered almonds

I got a message that my new favorite lady Beatrice Peltre was demonstrating her rice pudding recipe for the associates at Google in Cambridge.  I get updates from her blog and this came in one morning and we were eating it that night.  I didn't make the topping the same because I used what I had which was fresh cherries.  Her recipe in her book is topped with strawberries stewed in lemongrass and lime. Here is the recipe.  I didn't have lemongrass (not something I keep on hand), but I added some lemon zest to the cherries as I stewed them a bit.  Mmmm!

Crudite' Platter served with sour cream, cream cheese, mayo and lemon dip

I made this and the Gougere's below for a graduation party.  The Gougere's are basically a savory version of  the shell of a cream puff or profiterole or even the chocolate eclair.  The savory version has Gruyere cheese. You can eat these as is or you can fill them, which was the intention here, to fill with chicken salad.  There were a few more things made here but I didn't get the pictures.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Try some of these idea's for dinner...

Tapinade and spinach stuffed chicken breast with roasted potatoes and onions

Pound out chicken breast and cut them in half if they are really big ones; have ready some baby spinach sauteed in olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper; also have ready kalamata olive tapinade that you buy or it's just finely chopped kalamata olives with garlic (anchovies and olive oil if you like); season the chicken with a little salt and pepper then spread on the olive and spinach; roll up and use a tooth pick to secure; with a fork beat up a couple egg whites in a bowl and have ready some corn starch; dust the chicken with corn starch then coat with some egg white; place into a non-stick skillet and brown on all sides to get crisp; place in a 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until it's cooked through and the temperature reads 165 degrees.

For the potatoes; cut the potatoes with or without the skin into desired "fry shape" and coat with olive oil then sprinkle on the salt and pepper; do the same with sliced red onion; spread on a sheet pan; roast in a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes tossing a few times for even cooking.


A tartine is an open faced sandwich on toast.  I had lots of cheese, tomatoes, an avocado I had to use up, some leftover tapinade (from recipe above), fresh herbs an a couple slices of prosciutto.  So what do you do with all these bits of ingredients?  Here you go... think of it like pizza but much easier and quicker...

Basil pesto and roasted chicken pasta salad

I roasted a whole chicken and removed the chicken from one breast and about that amount of dark meat, tossed it with some basil pesto and let it soak in, then chill; boil the pasta and while it is hot, I tossed it with the basil pesto to coat, chill; to make the basil pesto I smashed a small garlic clove and added it to the food processor and processed; add a handful of pine nuts and a couple good handfuls of fresh basil leaves and process; add about 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese and the juice of 1 lemon, process; add olive oil while the food processor is running until you get a sauce consistency; season with salt and pepper to taste; you may want a bit more lemon or cheese, you be the judge. 

To bring it all together toss the chicken and the pasta into a bowl and add cherry tomatoes (sliced or whole), toasted pine nuts, chopped sundried tomatoes and fresh basil. 

I like this served this at room temperature, but cold is good too.

Eggplant ravioli with roasted haricots vert, onion and mushrooms in a basil pesto sauce

I had made these ravioli a month or two ago and they were sitting in the freezer ready for me to boil.  I had some pesto leftover from the "pesto chicken pasta" I made so this came together easy!!!  I roasted the mushrooms, onion and haricots for about 25-30  minutes at 400 degrees just with olive oil, salt and pepper.  So I tossed all the components together and grated some Parmesan cheese over top.  This was excellent with a glass of red wine!!

Shittake mushroom caps with Gruyere and Thyme

I have this thing for mushrooms all of a sudden, which is good because they are so good for you.  I also made some regular stuffed mushrooms using button mushrooms, with a shittake, shallot, fresh bread crumbs, parsley and goat cheese filling (which I didn't take a picture of for some reason).  I had 3 shittake mushrooms left over so I decided to just simply cook them in butter and olive oil for a few minutes then remove to a baking dish cap side up and topped each one with a few small slices of Gruyere then under the broiler to melt the cheese; remove from the oven and top with a bit of fresh thyme from the garden.  Good stuff!

Turkey and Bella mushroom burgers with guacamole, tomato and onion

If I didn't tell you, you would have thought that was beef!  Not at all...I took a whole package of Bella mushrooms; cleaned and trimmed them then into a food processor with a shallot; cook this mixture in olive oil with salt and pepper; once its good and cooked down add fresh thyme and check for seasoning; let it cool then add a pound of ground dark turkey meat; season and fry up a small bit to make sure it's perfect; form into patties.  I made some guacamole by simply chopping up an avocado and mix in some salt, lime juice and cilantro.  These buns were skinny whole wheat and spelt buns you will find at Whole Foods.

Brie on fresh Baguette slices topped with apricot pepper jelly

I saw Laura Calder (French Food at Home show) make a sandwich of just butter and Brie on a Baguette so I did something similar, made without the butter but with the apricot pepper jelly I just came across, and sliced for an appetizer instead of her "hogie" style for a train ride.  Nice with drinks, it's like a big cracker with cheese and jam.

Chocolate crepes with cherry Creme Anglaise

I kept seeing these chocolate crepes in my new book "La Tartine Gourmande".  I finally said OK, it's time to make these.  She (Bea) suggested serving them with thickened creme anglaise which is basically ice cream before it's churned, thickened with a little cornstarch.  I just got these great cherries and wanted to use them.  I did that by infusing some cherry flavor into the milk as I was making the creme anglaise.  You usually heat milk and scrape the seeds from a vanilla bean, add seeds and the bean to the milk, then let it sit covered off the heat for 30 minutes, then strain out the bean.  I added some crushed cherries along with the vanilla bean to give it a pink color and of course the flavor.  Here is her chocolate crepe recipe.  For the thickened creme anglaise heat to just under a boil 1 cup of whole milk, 1 vanilla bean, cut open and scraped and about 10 cherries cut open and crushed slightly; cover and let steep for 30 minutes; whisk together 3 egg yolks and 2 Tbsp sugar until lightened in color and ribbon-y; add a tsp of corn starch to the egg yolk mixture and stir in; strain the milk and heat it gently until you see bits of steam; slowly whisk in the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture and then back into the pan; place over low heat and stir with a wooden spoon; once it coats the back of the spoon it's done, this takes about 5-7 minutes; I folded in some chopped cherries and filled the chocolate crepes with the creme anglaise, topped with powdered sugar.

Raspberry, lady finger and creme anglaise triffle topped with whipped cream

I had some creme anglaise left over from the chocolate crepe dish so I just layered in the fresh raspberries, anglaise and lady fingers then topped with sweetened whipped cream.  I let it sit overnight to get the lady fingers really soft (like a tiramisu) yum!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Restaurant Review - Armsby Abbey

This review is a couple months in the making.  We've been a total of three times, but I'm just getting to this now.  I think maybe I just wanted to keep going so I'd have more delicious things to write about!  I would have to say that this place is just about our favorite restaurant these days.

Armsby Abbey is in downtown Worcester, between the courthouses on Main Street.  As you walk by and peek in the front door, at first glance it looks like a dark, dive-y bar. In reality...that description of the look of the place wouldn't be far off.  But quickly you notice that the beer selection is vast, focusing on mostly Belgian style beers.  There also seems to be a desire to feature local New England brews.  Next you notice the selection of craft cocktails made with all fresh ingredients and artisan spirits.  It makes sense that the place was featured in Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

Next the food.  The menu seems to change weekly (if not more often).  They always feature locally produced meats and cheeses on "slates" that include appropriate condiments.  All menu items feature local ingredients, simply prepared.  The last two trips to the restaurant featured the aroma of their house cured bacon being smoked.

We've been twice on Sundays for brunch.  Below are the items we had this past Sunday (copied from their online menu).

Onion Frittata
Caramelized Sweet Onion, Shaved Red Onion, fresh Scallion and Gruyere with Local Organic
Eggs from Gibson’s Dairy Farm served with a side of fresh Greens from Berberian Farm
dressed in a Red Wine Vinaigrette

Pig & Grits
Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder, Spicy Creole Sauce made with Victory Hop Devil, Vermont
Cheddar & Scallion Grits, Bacon braised Tuscan Kale, one 145˚ Local organic egg from
Gibson’s Dairy Farm

Belgian Sugar Waffle
Housemade to order with Belgian Pearl Sugar and Urthel Samaranth topped with a Rhubarb-
Strawberry Compote and Mint Whipped Cream

As far as drinks, I ordered from their "Bloody Mary Bar" (Right Gin infused with peppercorns, house bloody mary mix, garnished with house pickled asparagus, cocktail onions and a slice of house cured bacon).  Jeanne had the "Fleur de Violette" which was Crème Yvette Liqueur and Prosecco
with a candied Wild Hibiscus Flower.

So in summary, two thumbs up.  Worth the trip to Worcester.....