Saturday, March 31, 2012

Pork Wellington

I love this recipe for company.  It isn't too labor intensive but looks very impressive and is much less expensive than it fancier beef cousin.  I am not a fan of pork but am ok with the tenderloin.  I normally do not like fruit in with my savory dishes either but I can handle it in this one.  I actually like it very much.  We had company tonight, so I busted out my fancy company recipe:).  With it I made some rice cooked in chicken broth and some butter and my friends brought a lovely salad with lots of colorful veggies. (yellow peppers, tomatoes, spinach, etc...) with a choice of Cesar, ranch and raspberry vinaigrette for dressing. 

Pork Wellington

1    whole egg
1 T  water
1    -ounce dried apple rings
1    whole pork tenderloin approximately 1 pound
4 1/2    ounces thinly slice prosciutto ham
1/4 t  kosher salt
1/4 t  freshly ground black pepper
1 t  chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 t  all-purpose flour
1    sheet puff pastry,thawed completely
1 T  whole-grain mustard
Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and heat to 400 degrees
Whisk the egg and water in a small bowl and set aside. Place the apple
rings into the bowl of a mini food processor and process for 30 to 45
seconds or until they are the size of a medium dice. Set aside.
Trim the pork tenderloin of any excess fat and silver skin. Slice the
tenderloin down the middle lengthwise, creating 2 separate pieces. Lay
the tenderloin pieces next to each other head to tail, so when laid
back together they are the same size at the ends.
Lay out a 12 by 16-inch piece of parchment paper on the counter and
arrange the pieces of prosciutto in the center, overlapping them enough
to create solid layer that is as long as the tenderloin. Top with a
second piece of parchment, and using a rolling pin, roll over the
prosciutto to help adhere the pieces to each other. Remove the
parchment paper and sprinkle the prosciutto with the salt, pepper, and
thyme. Set the tenderloin down the middle of the prosciutto. Spread the
dried apples in between the 2 pieces of tenderloin and push back
together so the apples are held between them. Using the parchment paper
to assist, wrap the prosciutto around the tenderloin to completely
enclose in a package.
Sprinkle the counter with flour and roll out the pastry to 12 by 14
inches. Spread the mustard thinly in the center of pastry and lay the
prosciutto wrapped tenderloin in the center of the pastry on the
mustard.   Fold the puff pastry up and over the top of the tenderloin,
then roll to completely enclose, brushing the edges of the pastry with
the egg wash in order to seal. Turn the tenderloin over so the side of
the tenderloin with the double thickness of pastry is underneath. Pinch
the ends of the pastry to seal.
Brush the entire pastry with the egg wash. Place the tenderloin on a
parchment lined half sheet pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until
the pork reaches an internal temperature of at least 140 degrees F.
Remove the tenderloin from the oven, transfer to a cooling rack and let
rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Crispy Pan-Fried Shrimp And Chorizo Fideo Cakes

Well this dish was one enormous pain in the butt from start to finish.  It was pretty tasty at the end but not pretty and not really worth all the effort.  I put it in the fixable file.  It is from a top chef winner so I'm sure with a professionals skill it would we easier and perfect but in my less adept hands it was just a hot mess.  This was supposed to be yesterday's dish, but when I looked over the recipe at three, (normally plenty of time to prep and make the dish) I realized that there were a good 5 hours of prep before I could even start the final dish, so I make the stock and refrigerate it and make tonight's scheduled dish yesterday.  Of the 9 "cakes" I made, only 2 resembled a cake and not a bowl of pasta.  I know this means I made them a bit too big. (there was to be 12) However, I could not get them to hold any sort of cake shape and the only solution was to use an egg ring I had and press the cake mixture into it and lift the ring.  I couldn't bring myself to delete though, hence moving it to the fixable file.  There is another fideo recipe from the same chef from the top chef cook book that I LOVE.  The noodles always seem a bit under done, but I have to substitute angel hair and perhaps they are a bit thicker. If anyone attempts this dish, let me just say good luck and may the spatula be with you;)

Crispy Pan-Fried Shrimp And Chorizo Fideo Cakes

1/2 lb fideos (fine pasta nests) or angel hair pasta,in 1-inch lengths
2 c  chicken stock
1 c  dry white wine
Large pinch of saffron threads
1/2 lb medium shrimp—Shelled, deveined and cut into 1/2-inch pieces, s
7 T  extra-virgin olive oil
4    ounces chorizo,finely diced
2 T  sliced garlic,plus 1 garlic clove, minced
Large pinch of crushed red pepper
4    large egg whites
1/2 c  mayonnaise
4 t  fresh lemon juice
[Note:  .  The wines of northern Spain are a natural pairing with
these crispy Catalan-inspired cakes  ]
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Spread the fideos on a rimmed baking sheet;
bake for 8 minutes, or until lightly browned.
2. In a saucepan, combine the stock, wine, saffron and shrimp shells;
bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour.
Discard the shrimp shells.
3. In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the chorizo
and sliced garlic and cook over moderate heat until the garlic is
golden.   Add the crushed red pepper, fideos and the shrimp stock and
bring to a boil, stirring. Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly,
until the fideos are al dente and the sauce is creamy, 5 minutes. Stir
in the shrimp and season with salt. Remove from the heat and let cool
to room temperature. Stir in the egg whites and refrigerate for 1 hour.
4. Shape the mixture into twelve 3 1/2-inch cakes, about 1/2 inch
thick.   Set them on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 1 hour.
5. In a bowl, blend the mayonnaise, minced garlic and lemon juice.
Whisk in 2 tablespoons of the oil and season with salt.
6. In a large cast-iron skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add 3
cakes and cook over moderately high heat until browned on the bottom,
about 4 minutes. Turn the cakes, reduce the heat to moderate and cook
until heated through, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate and
keep warm. Repeat with the remaining oil and cakes. Top the fideo cakes
with the garlic mayonnaise and serve warm.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Quick Vietnamese Noodle Soup With Beef

I love pho, but this one is a lo cal copy so I wasn't sure how I would like it. I was a bit concerned when I googled the noodles.  They are almost calorie free, (never tasty) and they said that for the uninitiated they had a unpleasant smell.  (turns out like they smell like dirty socks soaked in musty fish sauce!)  This was a super quick recipe.  The only thing that might take you time is the slicing thin of the tenderloin, but your butcher can do that for you and then dinner would take 10 min tops.  The first few bites I wasn't sure I liked it.  I think I put way too much basil on mine and I was getting a lot of it in the first bites.  The meat was heavenly.  It looks raw in the picture, but once I dunked them under the broth, they were a perfect medium rare.  Thin slicing is key in this dish.  The noodles were odd, but they kind of grew on me.  They are made of tofu and like a cup of them was 20 calories. So from first bite I was saying we won't make this again, the boy was of the opinion he could take it or leave it and the husband really didn't like it.  By the end of the bowl, the boy was saying he changed his mind; he really liked it and I was agreeing.  The husband didn't finish his and had a double portion of the Tres Leche Cake I made for dessert.  I think he would have liked it but he just can't ever really like something that is lo cal.

Quick Vietnamese Noodle Soup With Beef
 3 c  chicken stock or low-sodium broth
2 c  water
1 T  agave syrup
1 T  finely grated fresh ginger
1 T  soy sauce
2    Eight-ounce packages  shirataki noodles,rinsed and drained
2 T  fresh lime juice,plus lime wedges, for serving
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 lb trimmed beef tenderloin very thinly sliced across the grain
1 t  toasted sesame oil
1/2 c  chopped basil
1/4 c  chopped cilantro
1/4 c  chopped scallions
1 c  mung bean sprouts
Sriracha or other garlic-chile sauce,for serving
[Note: Argentinean Malbec's juicy, dark berry fruit is a nice
match for this comforting noodle soup. so says F&W]
1. In a large saucepan, combine the chicken stock with the water, agave
syrup, grated ginger and soy sauce and bring to a boil. Add the noodles
and simmer over low heat for 2 minutes. Add the lime juice and season
with salt and pepper.
2. Using tongs, transfer the noodles to bowls. Add the beef to the
noodles and ladle the hot broth on top. Drizzle with the sesame oil and
top with the basil, cilantro, scallions and bean sprouts. Serve with
lime wedges and chile sauce.
Notes Shirataki noodles are sold refrigerated at health food stores or
online at
One Serving 160 cal, 7 gm fat, 2.4 gm sat fat, 11 gm carb, 3 gm fiber,
15 gm protein.

Tres Leche Cake
For the cake
Vegetable oil
6 3/4    ounces cake flour,plus extra for pan
1 t  baking powder
1/2 t  kosher salt
4    ounces unsalted butter,room temperature
8    ounces sugar
5    whole eggs
1 1/2 t  vanilla extract
For the glaze
1    (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
1    (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 c  half-and-half
 For the topping
2 c  heavy cream
8    ounces sugar
1 t  vanilla extract
For the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil and flour a 13 by 9-inch
metal pan and set aside.
Whisk together the cake flour, baking powder and salt in a medium
mixing bowl and set aside.
Place the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle
attachment, beat on medium speed until fluffy, approximately 1 minute.
Decrease the speed to low and with the mixer still running, gradually
add the sugar over 1 minute. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl,
if necessary. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix to thoroughly combine.
Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine. Add the flour mixture to
the batter in 3 batches and mix just until combined. Transfer the
batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly. This will appear to be a
very small amount of batter. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20
to 25 minutes or until the cake is lightly golden and reaches an
internal temperature of 200 degrees F.
Remove the cake pan to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 30 minutes.
Poke the top of the cake all over with a skewer or fork. Allow the cake
to cool completely and then prepare the glaze.

For the glaze:
Whisk together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and the
half-and-half in a 1-quart measuring cup. Once combined, pour the glaze
over the cake. Refrigerate the cake overnight.

Place the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla into the bowl of a stand mixer.
Using the whisk attachment, whisk together on low until stiff peaks
are formed. Change to medium speed and whisk until thick. Spread the
topping over the cake and allow to chill in the refrigerator until
ready to serve.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Rigatoni With Spicy Tomato-Vodka Sauce

Well we have a ham, pasta with vodka sauce we love, and I thought I would try this vegetarian, lighter and spicier cousin of that dish. The tomato portion was pretty spicy when I tasted it. I had started a bit earlier than I needed to so I tasted it and put it off the heat still with the lid ajar.  If you love this sauce, you could make batches up to this point and freeze it, but I haven't tried this yet.  I would then gently reheat it and add the cream and cheese etc... and finish the recipe.  It was a bit spicy; I felt no need to add the additional red pepper flakes and even added a touch more cream to try and tame the heat.  If you are not a spicy lover, I would recommend halving the red pepper flakes initially.  You can always spice it up later.  I liked the omission of the ham, but missed the smokiness.  My husband added ham to his because he missed it in this dish.  Next time I make this I will add a few drops of liquid smoke to it and see how that goes.

Rigatoni With Spicy Tomato-Vodka Sauce

2 ea garlic,minced
3/4 t  crushed red pepper flakes more to taste
2    Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1    28-oz. can diced tomatoes
3    Tbs. vodka
1/2 c  freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1/4 c  chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3    Tbs. heavy cream
1/2 t  kosher salt
1/2 t  freshly ground black pepper
3/4 lb rigatoni (about 4 cups)
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the garlic
and red pepper flakes in the oil until theyre fragrant and sizzle
steadily for about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and their juices and
the vodka, and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a steady simmer,
cover with the lid slightly ajar, and cook to intensify the flavors
and reduce the sauce slightly (by about one-quarter), 10 to 15 min.
Pure the tomatoes using a hand blender or a regular blender. If you
used a regular blender to pure, return the sauce to the saucepan. Stir
in 1/4 cup of the Parmigiano, the parsley, cream, salt and pepper, and
more red pepper flakes if you like. Simmer to incorporate the cream and
reduce the sauce slightly, about 5 min. Reduce the heat to low, cover,
and keep warm.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta, stirring occasionally, until its just tender
to the tooth, 10 to 12 min. Drain well and return the pasta to its pot.
Add the sauce, set the pot over medium heat, and cook, stirring, to let
the pasta absorb some of the sauce, 1 min. Serve immediately with a
sprinkled with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmigiano.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Joyce's Vietnamese Chicken Meatballs In Lettuce Wraps

My husband's plate was the picture plate tonight.  He put WAY
too much siriacha!
The odds of me liking this dish were a million to one.  I don't like chicken. I loathe seeing it raw, particularly the dark meat.  If I see it raw I am grossed out and don't want to eat it.  Chicken thighs smell awful raw. I hated this dish from the moment I started it.  Add to that that I am sick and tired and in a bad mood. Oh and they looked like wet garbage.  Loose, wet "meatballs" that didn't hold their shape and of smelly gross looking chicken and green paste.  (I know I am totally selling you on this dish right?:)  I was gong to skip dinner since I really had no appetite but I am a big girl and very much interested in the culinary arts, so I was going to at least try them.  I don't have to like everything but I do need to try everything for knowledge's sake.  I steel myself for horror I am about to put in my mouth and found myself thinking it wasn't too bad.  The boys devoured them.  They loved them.  I was ok with never making them again, but I have to admit, I ate three, so did kind of  like them.  (Just so you can keep score I believe my husband ate 16;)  The chicken thighs came in a two pound package and we doubled the recipe.  Also there was no lemongrass to be found at the store so I used a refrigerated lemongrass puree I found in the produce section.  As it is most likely more moist than minced lemongrass stalk and I had no idea how much to put in (I ended up with 2-3 tablespoons), those things may have made the mixture more wet than called for.  I also think that doubling the amount of fish sauce may have not been needed.  More than the original recipe, but I think it was a bit too much liquid.  (flavor wise it was fine)

Joyce's Vietnamese Chicken Meatballs In Lettuce Wraps

1 lb Chicken Thighs,boneless, Skinless & trimmed of visi
3 T  Asian fish sauce
3    small shallots,finely chopped
3    garlic cloves,minced
1    stalk of fresh lemongrass tender white inner bulb only, minced
3 T  chopped cilantro,plus 1/3 cup leaves for serving
1 T  finely chopped mint,plus 1/3 cup leaves for serving
1 1/2 t  cornstarch
1/2 t  kosher salt
1/2 t  freshly ground pepper
1/2 c  granulated sugar
1    head Boston or red leaf lettuce,leaves separated
1    small seedless cucumber—peeled,halved lengthwise and th
1    small red onion,halved and sliced
Asian chili sauce,for serving
[Note:  .  The Spanish grape Verdejo has a citrusy zing that goes
perfectly with this sweet-spicy lettuce-wrapped chicken. It grows in
the Rueda region in   north-central Spain. Our Pairing Suggestion    ]
1. Preheat the oven to 400. Position a rack in the top third of the
oven.   In a food processor, pulse the chicken until coarsely ground;
transfer to a bowl. Add the fish sauce, shallots, garlic, lemongrass,
chopped cilantro and mint, cornstarch, salt and pepper and mix with
your hands.
2. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the
sugar on a plate. Using slightly moistened hands, roll the chicken
mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls. Roll the meatballs in the sugar until
they are evenly coated. Transfer the meatballs to the prepared baking
sheet and bake them for 15 minutes, until they are lightly browned and
cooked through.
3. Meanwhile, arrange the lettuce, cilantro and mint leaves, cucumber
and onion on a platter. Transfer the meatballs to the platter and serve
with chili sauce.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Spaghetti Carbonara With Green Peas

After the mediocre reception of the other carbonara recipe, I thought I would try an different one.  I thought this one would be superior in several ways.  1) It has cream in it, and that couldn't hurt.  2) This recipe has peas in it.  Not only do I love peas, but I thought it would add another flavor element to the dish that was needed.  And 3) this recipe is from 2 Top Chef contestants I thought seemed to be really great chefs.  (as always click on the title of the post for a link to the original recipe.)  This one was better.  I did have some issues with the dish, but not flavor wise.  The peas and pancetta were not evenly distributed.  No matter how much mixing I did, they sank to the bottom of the pan and I had to hunt with a spoon to put some over the top of the pasta.  The sauce was also a bit thin.  Not horribly so but I would have liked it a bit thicker and dare I say a tad less cream.  The other recipe was perfect in its consistency, but lacking something in flavor.  At the end of the day, this is the carbonara I would make again, but I would probably reduce the amount of cream by 1/4 cup.

Spaghetti Carbonara With Green Peas

1 T  extra-virgin olive oil
2    large garlic cloves,lightly crushed
6    ounces pancetta ,sliced 1/3 inch thick and cut into  -1-inc
3/4 c  heavy cream
3    large egg yolks
1/3 c  freshly grated Parmesan cheese,plus more for serving
3/4 c  fresh or thawed frozen baby peas
3/4 lb spaghetti
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In a large, deep skillet, heat
the oil. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat until golden, about
3 minutes. Discard the garlic. Add the pancetta to the skillet and cook
over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden and
crisp and the fat has been rendered, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted
spoon, transfer the pancetta to a bowl.
2. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the skillet. Add the
cream and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet,
then pour into a medium bowl. Whisk in the egg yolks and 1/3 cup of the
Parmesan cheese.
3. Add salt to the pot of boiling water. Add the baby peas and cook
just until tender, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the
cooked peas to a bowl.
4. Add the spaghetti to the boiling water and cook until al dente;
drain. Return the pasta to the pot and add the cream mixture, pancetta
and peas. Season with salt and pepper and toss until the sauce coats
the spaghetti. Transfer to bowls and serve immediately with the
remaining Parmesan

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Salmon Steaks With Curried Fennel-Wine Sauce

I have only had fennel bulb once before and I did not care for it.  It was baked into some dish I made many years ago that we vowed to never make again. (yeah it was that good;) I am also not a fan of licorice which is another strike against the poor fennel plant.  I have to say I really liked it. The boy wasn't a fan so I didn't make him eat the sauce.  It just goes to show you never know if you really don't like something until you try it in many forms.  I think it was the long slow cooking time that mellowed the flavor of the bulb and made it more palatable for me. Perhaps also the strong flavors of the curry powder helped tame the fennel.  I'm not 100% sure what did it;  I am only sure that I enjoyed it. I served it with a green salad with a "dressing" of some left over coleslaw from the fish tacos we made for the progressive dinner.  That worked well too and it used up leftovers.

Salmon Steaks With Curried Fennel-Wine Sauce
3 T  vegetable oil
2    large fennel bulbs—bulbs halved,cored and sliced lengthwise 1/4"
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4    scallions,cut into 1-inch lengths
1 1/2 t  medium-hot curry powder
1/4 c  dry white wine
1 c  bottled clam juice
4    salmon steaks,about 3/4 inch thick
1/2 T  fresh lemon juice
2 T  cold unsalted butter
1. In a deep 10-inch skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the
fennel and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over low
heat, stirring, until lightly browned and tender, 20 minutes. Add the
scallions, cover and cook until they are just tender, 2 minutes.
Transfer to a bowl. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the
skillet and add the curry powder. Cook over low heat, stirring, until
fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the wine and boil over high heat until
reduced by half, about 1 minute. Add the clam juice and boil until
reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Cover and remove the skillet from the
2. Preheat the broiler. Arrange the salmon steaks on a large rimmed
baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Broil about 6 inches from
the heat for 3 to 4 minutes, until just opaque throughout.
3. Meanwhile, scrape the fennel and scallions into the sauce and
reheat;   stir in the lemon juice. Remove the skillet from the heat and
stir in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until incorporated. Season
with salt and pepper.
4. Transfer the salmon to plates and spoon the sauce on top. Garnish
the salmon with fennel fronds and serve.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Progressive Dinner #2

Well we had our second progressive dinner.  This time the theme was Mexican. I think it was another success.  I am already thinking of our next theme:).  I know some think the traveling from house to house is a bit silly but I think it really makes the party.  The change of scenery gives each course it's own vibe, and the people you are sitting near or talking to changes too.  It makes a real difference.

Tonight we started with some homemade salsa and chips with homemade sangria.

Then we had our fish tacos with a Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc,  My husband even made a taco stand out of some cherry wood we had.

Next we had a spicy chicken tortilla soup with a bottle of sangria. The heat was perfect.  Just a little bite without overwhelming the soup.  I also loved the baked tortilla chips.  I think they are even better than fried.

 For salad we had a really unique and delicious Mexican Avocado salad made with beans, yellow peppers, onions, tomatoes and avocado with a oil and lime dressing.

Dessert, normally my least favorite course was A-MAZ- ING!  A sopapilla cheese cake that I had way too much of and a chili infused dark chocolate that was wonderful too all with a Chilean Merlot and  Cabernet.

Griddled Ham Steaks With Spring Onions And Mustard

Well while this was not a dish I think I will make again, it certainly was not a bad way to use up an entire extra ham we had from making stromboli on the 18th.  I served it with rice and a salad.  It was pretty quick; it certainly was fast since I didn't need to really cook a protein.  The sauce came together pretty quick and it could be made ahead of time.  A solid "c" meal:)

Griddled Ham Steaks With Spring Onions And Mustard
3/4 lb pearl onions
1 T  unsalted butter
2 T  extra-virgin olive oil,plus more for frying
1 lb spring bulb onions,sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 t  chopped thyme
1    garlic clove,minced
1/2 c  dry white wine
3/4 c  low-sodium chicken broth
2 T  Dijon mustard
1/3 c  chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4    eight ounce ham steaks about 1/3 inch thick
1. In a small saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the pearl
onions until just tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and trim the onions,
then squeeze them from their skins.
2. In a large skillet, melt the butter in the 2 tablespoons of olive
oil. Add the sliced onions and thyme, cover and cook over moderately
low heat, stirring a few times, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add
the garlic and cook over moderate heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Add the pearl onions and wine and cook over moderate heat until the
wine has reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the broth and simmer
until reduced by one-third, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir
in the mustard and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Cover the
skillet and keep warm.
3. Heat a griddle over two burners. Add enough olive oil to lightly
coat the griddle. Cook the ham steaks over moderately high heat until
browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Turn and cook until heated
through, about 1 minute. Transfer the ham to plates, top with the onion
mixture and serve.
Make Ahead The onion mixture can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Break

Well we had a wonderful vacation to Disney and Zip lining at the zoo. We did cook but I was taking a vacation from the blog as well.  However I had to share something that I thought was really a great technique.  My friend said her mom always stuffed the chicken cavity with an onion.  YUM  and the bonus the onion chopped and tossed in some rice with the chicken drippings made a tasty side dish.   So if you are cooking a whole bird, throw two halves of an onion in it and enjoy;)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Spaghetti Alla Carbonara

Well this dish started with a meh, and ended with a mmmm?  Initially there was a bitterness that I wasn't digging.  I still am not sure what.  There is also a lot of black pepper and I am not a huge fan of aggressive pepper.  All that made my initial impression of this dish less than favorable.  In the end I was won over.  I think there is some tweaking to be done, but we all decided we wanted to have this again. It is a pretty quick one; it isn't the fastest dish ever but not a super long cook time which is always a plus.

Spaghetti Alla Carbonara

Kosher salt
1    Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
4 oz fatty pancetta or guanciale sliced 1/4 inch thick and cut into 1-1/2
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c  diced red onion
2    large eggs,chilled
1/2 lb imported dried spaghetti (Setaro brand,avaiable online was reccomended)
1/2 c  lightly packed,freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
spaghetti-carbonara.aspx  ]
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat.
In a 10-inch skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the
pancetta or guanciale and 1/2 tsp. pepper and cook, stirring
occasionally, until golden and beginning to crisp, about 5 minutes. (If
the meat is browning too quickly, reduce the heat to medium low.) Add
the onion and continue to cook until its soft and golden and the meat
is crisp, about 5 minutes more.
Remove the pan from the heat and carefully spoon off all but about 2
Tbs.   of the fat. Add 1 Tbs. water to the pan and scrape any brown
bits from the bottom.
Beat the eggs in a small bowl until smooth and set aside.
Cook the spaghetti in the boiling water according to package directions
until its just shy of al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water
and drain the spaghetti. Transfer the spaghetti to the skillet, set it
over medium heat, and toss with tongs to coat the spaghetti with the
fat and finish cooking to al dente, about 1 minute. If the pasta is too
dry or starts to stick to the bottom of the pan, add 1 or 2 tsp. of the
pasta water. You want the bottom of the pan to be just barely wet. If
the pan is too dry, the eggs will scramble when you add them.
Remove the skillet from the heat and pour the eggs over the pasta,
tossing quickly and continuously until the eggs thicken and turn to the
consistency of a thin custard, 30 seconds to 1 minute. (Tossing
constantly is important, as it prevents the eggs from scrambling.)
The sauce should be smooth and creamy, and it should cling to the pasta.
Add a little more pasta water if necessary to loosen the sauce. Stir
in the Parmigiano and season to taste with salt and pepper (you may not
need additional salt, as both guanciale and pancetta can be very salty).
Serve immediately.
From Fine Cooking 92 , pp. 57
March 12, 2008

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Garlic-Rubbed Grilled Cheese With Prosciutto And Tomatoes

Not to sound like a broken record, but another good and tasty meal.  The tomatoes didn't get the sandwich watery, the cheeses were wonderful and the garlic rubbed on the outside perfect.  We did buy a Tuscan Garlic loaf from the Publix bakery, and unbeknown to us, it was chuck full of whole garlic cloves, but not too much garlic in the end.  The loaf was a bit on the small size, diameter wise, so we made 6 instead of 4 sandwiches.  We used last night's aioli as a salad dressing and it was super yummy. With the exception of grating the cheese, which didn't take long, the sandwich required almost zero labor and was ready in a snap.  If you are pressed for time for dinner, you could always pre grate the cheeses so you save some minutes on those days that you only have a short window for dinner.

Garlic-Rubbed Grilled Cheese With Prosciutto And Tomatoes

3 oz grated aged Gruyère (1-1/4 cups)
3 oz grated fontina (about 1 cup)
2    Tbs. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 t  crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
8    1/2-inch-thick slices rustic Italian bread
4    very thin slices prosciutto halved crosswise
2    medium ripe tomatoes,cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
Kosher salt
2    Tbs. salted butter,at room temperature
1    to 2 large cloves garlic halved and peeled for rubbing
Lightly toss the cheeses and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Put
4 slices of the bread on a work surface and evenly distribute half of
the cheese mixture on top. Put 2 pieces of prosciutto (1 full slice) on
each sandwich and top with 2 to 3 slices of tomatoenough to cover the
cheese and prosciutto in a single layer. Season the tomatoes with salt
and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Lightly butter one side of
the remaining bread slices and place them butter side up on the
Heat a griddle or a large skillet over medium-low heat. Arrange the
sandwiches butter side down on the griddle and cook until the bread is
toasted and  golden-brown, about 2 minutes. Meanwhile, spread an even
layer of butter on the top slice of bread.
Using a spatula, flip the sandwiches and cook until golden-brown on the
other side, gently pressing the sandwiches with the back of the spatula
to compress, about 2 minutes. Remove the sandwiches from the griddle
and lightly rub both sides of each with the cut side of the garlic.
Using a serrated knife, slice the sandwiches in half and serve

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Salmon Burgers With Herb Aïoli

Our worries that this would fall apart were unfounded.  We did add a coating of bread crumbs since the patties seemed a bit too moist. They weren't needed for flavor but they were our insurance policy.  The whole thing was very good and we all liked it a lot. My husband wanted to add cucumber slices to his next time but he still really liked it as is.  I think this is a great and easy way to get some omega 3's in to you diet.  Even those who aren't a fan of salmon should like this.  The aioli was really tasty, but there is at least a half a cup leftover and I was very liberal with it's application.  All and a very good meal. I think they would be really good without the bun too as a salmon cake.
Salmon Burgers With Herb Aïoli

2    small cloves garlic
Kosher salt
1    -1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/3 c  finely chopped fresh chives
2    Tbs. finely chopped fresh dill
1    -1/2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1    Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1/8 t  cayenne
Freshly ground black pepper
5    brioche or hamburger buns,1 cut into large cubes, the other 4 split
1 lb skinless salmon fillets preferably wild, pin bones removed, cut in to 1" pieces
2 oz (4 Tbs.) unsalted butter
Chop the garlic. Using the flat side of a chefs knife, mash the
garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt. Transfer the garlic paste to a
small bowl and stir in the mayonnaise, chives, dill, mustard, lemon
juice, cayenne, 1/4 tsp. pepper, and salt to taste. Set the aoli aside.
In a food processor, pulse the cubed bun into crumbs. Set aside 1/2 cup
of the crumbs and save the rest for another use. Pulse the salmon until
coarsely chopped, about 5 pulses. Transfer the salmon to a medium bowl
and stir in 3/4 cup of the aoli, the reserved breadcrumbs, 1/4 tsp.
salt,   and 1/8 tsp. pepper. Shape into four 1-inch-thick patties.
Heat 2 Tbs. of the butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-
high heat. When melted and hot (but not smoking or brown), add the
patties and cook until they are firm and each side is crisp and golden-
brown, 3 to 5 minutes per side.
Meanwhile, position a rack 6 inches from the broiler and heat the
broiler on high. Melt the remaining 2 Tbs. butter in a microwave or on
the stovetop. Brush it on the insides of the split buns. Put the buns
on a baking sheet, butter side up, and toast under the broiler until
light goldenbrown, 1 to 2 minutes.
Serve the burgers on the buns, spread with the remaining aoli.
Serving Suggestions
Serve with a deeply spiced, aromatic Chickpea and Spinach Salad.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Beef Wellington

Before the sauce
WOW!  I have to say this was one of those omg meals.  It does have a lot to do with the fact that it is tenderloin.  The meat just melted in your mouth.  But there is a reason this is a classic dish,  I haven't had it with the mustard and prosciutto before; both of these were really great additions.  I also have to say I am not a huge fan of pate.  I loved it's omission in this recipe.   We all devoured this recipe.  Some small changes, I cut the recipe in thirds.  I neglected to realize that a 3 lb tenderloin was WAY too much for the four of us, so I only cooked a one pound section of it.  The rest we cut in to steaks and vacuum sealed them in bags bound for the freezer.  Also it seems that green peppercorns in brine are MIA in the area right now, so I left them off.  I have made green peppercorn sauce before, and I like it better without them.  Last time we made the green peppercorn sauce, we nearly burned down the house. (it was our first flambe)  This time, it worked perfectly.  I think it is because we didn't immediately ignite the alcohol vapors.  We let it cook a bit first and it was a very manageable flame.  (we still had a lid and a fire extinguisher handy and will always have one just in case:)  We made our own potatoes and greens, and not the recipes that were suggested.  The baby potatoes were tossed in olive oil, chopped rosemary, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  We put a pan in the oven for about 20 minutes at the 425 degrees that the wellington was cooking at, removed the hot pan and put the potatoes on it and roasted about 20 minutes.  The greens were wilted in a bit of oil and seasoned with the "peppercorn" sauce. Yum, yum, yum!  The boy, who has a violent hatred of mushrooms, and who had no idea that the paste was mushrooms, was really loving it until dad clued him in.  I would have waited until he was done personally, as his eating slowed after he found out.  The crust did not stay on nice and neat, but I attribute this to 1) we didn't let it sit in the fridge a full 30 minutes, and 2) I made some extra of the duxelles.  Not as pretty but super good.

Beef Wellington

For the Duxelles
3 pt (1 1/2 pounds) white button mushrooms
2    shallots,peeled and roughly chopped
4 ea garlic,peeled and roughly chopped
2    sprigs fresh thyme,leaves only
2 T  unsalted butter
2 T  extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Beef
3 lb center cut beef tenderloin (filet mignon),trimmed
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12    thin slices prosciutto
 6    sprigs of fresh thyme leaves only
 2 T  Dijon mustard
Flour,for rolling out puff pastry
1 lb puff pastry,thawed if using frozen
2    large eggs,lightly beaten
1/2 t  coarse sea salt
 Minced chives,for garnish
 Green Peppercorn Sauce recipe follows
(suggested sides: Roasted Fingerling Potatoes & Warm Wilted Winter Greens)
To make the Duxelles: Add mushrooms, shallots, garlic, and thyme to a
food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add butter and olive oil
to a large saute pan and set over medium heat. Add the shallot and
mushroom mixture and saute for 8 to 10 minutes until most of the liquid
has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool.
To prepare the beef: Tie the tenderloin in 4 places so it holds its
cylindrical shape while cooking. Drizzle with olive oil, then season
with salt and pepper and sear all over, including the ends, in a hot,
heavy-based skillet lightly coated with olive oil - about 2 to 3
minutes.   Meanwhile set out your prosciutto on a sheet of plastic wrap
(plastic needs to be about a foot and a half in length so you can wrap
and tie the roast up in it) on top of your cutting board. Shingle the
prosciutto so it forms a rectangle that is big enough to encompass the
entire filet of beef. Using a rubber spatula cover evenly with a thin
layer of duxelles. Season the surface of the duxelles with salt and
pepper and sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves. When the beef is seared,
remove from heat, cut off twine and smear lightly all over with Dijon
mustard. Allow to cool slightly, then roll up in the duxelles covered
prosciutto using the plastic wrap to tie it up nice and tight. Tuck in
the ends of the prosciutto as you roll to completel
y encompass the beef. Roll it up tightly in plastic wrap and twist the
ends to seal it completely and hold it in a nice log shape. Set in the
refrigerator for 30 minutes to ensure it maintains its shape.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry out to about a 1/4-
inch thickness. Depending on the size of your sheets you may have to
overlap 2 sheets and press them together. Remove beef from refrigerator
and cut off plastic. Set the beef in the center of the pastry and fold
over the longer sides, brushing with egg wash to seal. Trim ends if
necessary then brush with egg wash and fold over to completely seal the
beef - saving ends to use as a decoration on top if desired. Top with
coarse sea salt. Place the beef seam side down on a baking sheet.
Brush the top of the pastry with egg wash then make a couple of slits
in the top of the pastry using the tip of a paring knife - this creates
vents that will allow the steam to escape when cooking. Bake for 40 to
45 minutes until pastry is golden brown and beef registers 125 degrees
F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from oven and rest before
cutting into thick slices. Garnish with minced chives, and serve with
Green Peppercorn Sauce, Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, and Warm Wilted
Winter Greens.

With the sauce
Green Peppercorn Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
1 cup brandy
1 box beef stock
2 cups cream
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
1/2 cup green peppercorns in brine, drained, brine reserved Add olive oil to pan after removing beef. Add shallots, garlic, and thyme; saute for 1 to 2 minutes, then, off heat, add brandy and flambe
using a long kitchen match. After flame dies down, return to the heat, add stock and reduce by about half. Strain out solids, then add 2 cups
cream and mustard. Reduce by half again, then shut off heat and add
green peppercorns.
Before slicing

Monday, March 12, 2012

Barley Minestrone

My husband loves barley.  I am neutral but not a huge fan of soup.  I really liked it; everyone really liked it.  If you take the chopping out of the equation, this is super easy and fairly fast.  It could easily be adjusted to be meatless, but the pancetta really was nice in it. I was worried that the soup wouldn't be done in 20 as the package of barley says it takes 40 minutes, but it was tender and tasty.  I didn't get as big as I remember it getting when cooked in the traditional way, but tender and tasty.

Barley Minestrone
2    Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 c  finely diced pancetta (about 1 ounce)
2 c  large diced Savoy cabbage
1 c  medium diced yellow onion
1 c  sliced carrot (1/4 inch thick)
1/4 c  medium diced celery
2 ea garlic,minced
2 qt homemade or low-salt chicken broth
1    14-1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes,with their juices
1/2 c  pearl barley,rinsed
2    large sprigs fresh rosemary
2    -inch square Parmigiano-Reggiano rind (optional)
Kosher salt
1 c  rinsed and drained canned kidney beans
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano for serving
Heat the oil in a heavy 6-quart or larger pot over medium heat. Add
the pancetta and cook, stirring frequently, until it becomes ever so
slightly golden, 2 to 3 min. Add the cabbage, onion, carrot, celery,
and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables begin to
soften, about 6 min. Add the broth, the tomatoes with their juices, the
barley, rosemary, Parmigiano rind (if using), 1/2  tsp. salt, and 1 cup
water. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then reduce the heat to a
simmer and cook until the barley and vegetables are tender, about 20
min. Discard the rosemary sprigs and Parmigiano rind. Stir in the beans
and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with the
grated Parmigiano.
Serving Suggestions
Serve with Garlic Crostini with Spinach, Mushroom & Parmigiano Salad.

Coconut Cream Pie

I have had a plan for years now to make a dessert every Sunday.  Today is the first time I actually did.  I gave my husband a list of about 40 (trimmed down from hundreds) recipes that we haven't made or weren't yet on the blog.  I asked him to pick 7 for the week.  One of the seven was this recipe, so I guess I have to make a dessert this week;).  I rounded out the week by adding the salmon burger to the week's recipes.  I have always known that my dessert skills were practically nonexistent, so I dove into this one pretty excited and anxious.  I think coconut cream pie is one of my all time favorites and it looked fairly simple, but this is still straying into the science realm of cooking that always strikes a bit of terror in me.  Well it came out great.  I little loose to cut into neat wedges, but delicious.

Coconut Cream Pie

1 c  (250 mL) granulated sugar
1/4 c  (50 mL) cornstarch
Pinch salt
1 c  (250 mL) unsweetened coconut milk
4    egg yolks
2 c  (500 mL) whole milk
1 c  (250 mL) packed sweetened flaked coconut
1 T  (15 mL) butter
1    9-inch (23 cm) store-bought or homemade Graham Cracker Crust
1 1/4 c  (300 mL) whipping (35%) cream
2 T  (25 mL) confectioner’s (icing) sugar
1/4 c  (50 mL) sweetened flaked coconut,toasted
[Note: This pie is wonderful served with chocolate sauce or Hot
Fudge Sauce on the side   ]
1. In a large saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch and salt.
Whisk in coconut milk until smooth. Whisk in egg yolks until smooth.
Whisk in milk. Cook mixture over medium heat, whisking continuously,
until thick and bubbly. Reduce temperature to low and continue to cook,
whisking, for 2 minutes more or until mixture is very thick.
2. Remove saucepan from heat and strain filling through a fine-mesh
sieve into a bowl. Stir in coconut and butter until butter is melted.
Pour into prepared pie crust, pressing a piece of plastic wrap directly
onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool completely.
Refrigerate pie for 4 to 6 hours or until filling is firm enough to
3. Topping: Just prior to serving pie, in a bowl, using an electric
mixer or whisk, whip together cream and confectioners sugar until soft
peaks form. Swirl whipped cream over top of pie and garnish with
toasted coconut.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Pizza With Pancetta, Poached Eggs And Arugula Salad

Pizza night again:)  Although I do feel calling this pizza is a bit of a stretch.  Not that it wasn't yummy, but the cheese was hidden among the dressing on the salad.  I loved poached eggs and they did make a lovely addition to the salad.  I think a bit more egg would have been nice.  I think next time I will poach an extra egg or two and cut them up in the salad.  That way, there is some of the lovely yolk in every  bite.

Pizza With Pancetta, Poached Eggs And Arugula Salad

1 lb frozen pizza dough,thawed
3 T  extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 t  chopped rosemary
4    ounces thinly sliced  pancetta
2 T  fresh lemon juice
4    large eggs
2 T  freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 bn of arugula (1/2 pound) thick stems discarded
1. Set a pizza stone on the bottom of the oven and preheat the oven
to 500.
2. On a lightly floured work surface, stretch and roll the pizza dough
into a 14inch round. Transfer the dough to a floured pizza peel,
shaking it to make sure it doesn't stick. Brush the edge of the dough
with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and sprinkle on the rosemary.
Arrange the pancetta slices on the dough, overlapping them slightly.
Bake the pizza for 8 minutes, until the dough is golden and crisp.
3. Meanwhile, bring a deep medium skillet of water to a simmer. Crack
the eggs into individual cups and slide them to the water. Poach the
eggs in the simmering water for 4 minutes, until the whites are set but
the yolks are still runny. In a large bowl, mix the remaining 2
tablespoons of oil with the lemon juice and the ParmigianoReggiano.
Season with salt and pepper and toss with the arugula.
4. Mound the arugula salad on top of the pizza. Using a slotted spoon,
transfer the eggs to the pizza. Cut the pizza into 4 wedges and serve

Before the salad

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Easy Tuna Or Chicken Noodle Casserole

Well as the only one who likes tuna, this was one for me only.  The husband was working and I had seen a tuna noodle casserole recipe at the bottom of some recipe I was looking at.  I began craving it.  I am not sure why, aside from the fact that I probably haven't had some since before 1990.  I have to say I liked it.  It wasn't  a blow you away meal, but I went back for more:).  I liked the fact that the veggies sill had a bit of crunch to them.  I cooked the sauce on a little bit lower temperature because I was afraid it would burn as I was multitasking.  I would make it again; the boys would rather that I had hated it. (hehehe)  

Easy Tuna Or Chicken Noodle Casserole
6    ounces egg noodles
2 T  butter
1    (10 ¾ ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup,undiluted
1/2    -1 teaspoon garlic powder (or to taste,I used 1 teaspoon)
3    -4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese (optional)
3/4 c  milk (or can use half-and-half cream) (I used 2/4 milk 1/4 half and half)
1/2 c  sour cream (can increase to  3/4 cup)
1/4    -½ teaspoon seasoning salt   (or to taste,or use white salt)
1/2 t  fresh ground black pepper (or to taste)
1    small onion,finely chopped (can use 2 green onions)
1/4 c  pimiento,chopped
1    small green bell pepper finely chopped
1    large celery rib,diced
1    (6 ½ ounce) can tuna drained and flaked (can add another 3 oz)
12    -15 butter flavored crackers,broken in pieces (such as Ritz
1Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2Grease a 2-quart casserole dish.
3Cook the egg noodles in boiling salted water; drain then toss with 2
tablespoons butter.
4In a large saucepan, mix the undiluted mushroom
soup,  garlic powder, Parmesan cheese (if using) milk or half and half,
sour cream, salt, pepper, chopped onion, pimiento, bell pepper and
celery; cook over low heat, stirring frequently for 15 minutes
.5Add in the tuna or chicken; mix to combine
.6Combine the mixture with the cooked egg noodles.7Transfer to prepared greased baking dish.8Sprinkle
top with the broken Ritz crackers
.9Bake for about 25 minutes.
Read more:

Friday, March 9, 2012

Rice And Beans With Fried Eggs

I did a smaller portion with 1 egg
Dinner was only eaten by the boy and myself.  I happened to really like it; the boy, not so much.  He did eat it all, but wasn't a fan.  I didn't have the salsa Lizano.  A quick search of the Internet returned that the salsa in question is a Costa Rican condiment that had cumin and is a bit sweet and spicy.  One person noted that they have used Worcestershire instead with good results.  Well of the 3 Tbsp required, I used 2 of the Worcestershire and 1 of a mild hot sauce that is loaded with cumin called Micanopy Gold.  I will keep the recipe and plan on making it again, but the boy could take it or leave it.

Rice And Beans With Fried Eggs

 3/4 c  long-grain white rice
Kosher salt
2    Tbs. canola oil
1    small yellow onion,cut into small dice
1/2    medium red bell pepper seeded and cut into small dice
2    large cloves garlic,minced
1/2 t  ground cumin
1/4 c  canned tomato sauce
1    (15-1/2-oz.) can black beans,drained and rinsed
3    Tbs. Salsa Lizano,more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
8    large eggs
2    Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
Put the rice, a big pinch of salt, and 1-1/2 cups of water in a 3-
quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat
to low, cover, and cook until the rice has absorbed the water and is
tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside with the
lid on.
Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbs. of the oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium
heat.  Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and a pinch of salt; cook,
stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the cumin
and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomato sauce and
stir for 1 minute. Add the beans and 1 cup of water and simmer until
the liquid reduces to the level of the beans, about 4 minutes.
Add the rice to the beans and mix well. Stir in the Salsa Lizano* and
season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm.
Heat the remaining 1 Tbs. of oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over
medium heat, swirling the pan to coat evenly. Gently crack the eggs
into the pan. Season with salt and pepper, cover, and cook until the
yolks edges have just begun to set, 2 to 3 minutes. (The eggs should
cook gently, so lower the heat if needed.) Separate the eggs with the
edge of a spatula.
To serve, put a heaping spoonful of the rice and beans on a plate and
slide 2 eggs on top. Sprinkle with the cilantro.
*Worcestershire/ Micanopy gold 2/1

The boy had two:)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Chorizo And Cheese Arepas

I get to go out with the girls again to my all time favorite hang out.  (  I left the husband to reinvent a previous recipe we have made and really liked.  (see 12/12/11) It was made almost the same except the fillings.  He cooked up some chorizo we had on hand, but it wasn't quite enough so he diced up some of the leftover steak as well and threw that in.  They thought the end result was a bit pitchy. I tried it reheated later and it was alright.  I remembered the sour cream and they didn't.  I think that would have made the dish.  Reheated fried thing are never as good and I seemed to like it better than they did.  (ahh the magic of sour cream:)

Chorizo And Cheese Arepas
2 c  Masa Harina,(maseca Brand if Possible)
1 3/4 c  Water,Hot (plus 2 Tablespoons)
2 c  Red Cabbage
1/4    Small Red Onion,Thinly Sliced
2 T  Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 lb Chorizo (sauteed)
4 oz Sharp Cheddar Cheese Shredded
Hot Sauce
Pickled Jalapeno Peppers
Sour Cream
1. In a bowl, mix the masa harina, water and 1 teaspoon of salt to
form a soft dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in another bowl,  toss the cabbage, onion and vinegar.
Season with salt
3. In a small bowl, combine chorizo and cheddar and season with salt and
hot sauce. Form the pork filling into 4 compact balls.
4. Form the dough into 4 balls and covert with plastic wrap.  Working
with the balls one at a time, flatten it on a sheet of plastic wrap
into a 7 in round.  Place pork filling ball in  the center of the dough.
Bring the dough up to cover the filling. Gently flatten the ball into
a 4inch patty and patch any holes or tears.  Repeat with the remaining
dough and filling.
to plates.  With a slotted spoon, mound the cabbage slaw on top and
serve with the jalepenos, hot sauce and sour cream.
Make Ahead:
The uncooked arepas can be stacked between sheets of plastic wrap and
refrigerated overnight.  Bring the arepas to room temperature before

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Pasta with Spicy Almond Pesto

We have discovered a new favorite!  I picked this originally for my husband.  He loves all kind of nuts, and now that we know that my daughter's peanut allergy is non existent, (YAY!) I am trying to put nuts back in our diet.  I have been putting this one off because  A) the almond butter was $15 (yikes) and I wasn't sure I would really dig it.  I liked it WAY more than I thought I would.  I was telling my husband that since I used so very little of the jar of almond butter, I needed to look for more recipes that use it.  He nixed that right away.  He said we can make this one more often! I have to say, it is super fast.  I had the sauce done before the pasta had cooked.  (I set the water to boil when I started)  Also, I didn't start diner until the boys were already on their way back from the soccer fields (10 minutes away) and I was done before the boy was dressed after his shower.  Delicious and quick!!  Perfect.  I do think it needs most of the pasta water; it was pretty thick with out it.

Pasta With Spicy Almond Pesto
3/4 lb fettuccine
3/4 c  extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 c  sage leaves
1    large garlic clove,mashed to a paste
1/4 c  almond butter
1    scallion,minced
1/2 t  finely grated lemon zest
Large pinch of crushed red pepper
1/2 c  freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1.In a pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente;
drain,   reserving 3/4 cup of the cooking water. Meanwhile, in a small
skillet, heat 1/2 cup of the olive oil until shimmering. Fry the sage
leaves over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until crisp. Drain the
sage on paper towels, then chop half of the leaves.
2.Combine the chopped sage, garlic, almond butter, remaining 1/4 cup of
oil, scallion, zest, red pepper and all but 2 tablespoons of the cheese.
Toss the pasta with the pesto; add the pasta water as necessary to
make a creamy sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Top with the
remaining cheese and whole sage leaves and serve.

Monday, March 5, 2012

No-Knead Bread

Well my first really foray into baking did not start well.  There was no instant yeast to be found and the information I have found on the Internet was not very helpful in making me happy with substituting the rapid rise I planned on trying in its place. Since I saw someone did use the instant successfully in this recipe and I saw someone else say the instant is more potent, and because another post said it didn't rise as high or as fast, and despite the fact I know baking is a science with exacting procedures I decide to double my yeast!  Then 20 hours later, my dough was really wet and practically liquid.  Well since I was already throwing caution to the wind, we added a liberal dose of flour and worked it in.  The result, not bad!  Certainly very pretty looking.  The crust was a bit tough and chewy, but not unpleasantly so.  If you sliced it very thin, it was perfect.  Well next time, I will make sure I get instant yeast, but I am now hopeful for future baking projects:)  Thank you Elaine!

No-Knead Bread

3 c  all-purpose or bread flour more for dusting
1/4 t  instant yeast
1 1/4 t  salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.
[Note: Via Elaine: http://wednesdaychef.typepad.
com/the_wednesday_chef/2006/11/jim_laheys_nokn.htmln She notes: I use a
deep casserole that I have  with a make shift lid and it works  fine.
Comes out great everytime!  ]
1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water,
and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl
with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about
18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly
flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little
more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with
plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface
or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball.
Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran
or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour,
bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for
about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size
and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees.
Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or
ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot
from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot,
seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once
or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it
bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake
another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a

The dough after 20 hrs
Dough right before baking

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Crisp Pancetta And Egg Salad Sandwich

I didn't go hunting for brioche. I used an egg bread made in to rolls.  I was an ok dish.  I love salty, but I thought it was a bit too much.  Without the bread it was way to salty.  Seriously a teaspoon of salt and a 1/4 of pickles.  WOW! I also think I got my pancetta too thinly sliced because it gnarled up in to theses shriveled semi crisp pieces.  They were crisp, but not as crisp as I would have wanted bacon to be so, meh.  All in all, unless I hear from my husband that he loved it, I will most likely delete it. I didn't hate it, but it is no where as good as many of the dishes we have made before.  As always, I am on a quest to try a new recipe every time I cook for a year so this was part of that experiment and I'm ok with a dinner with a grade of 'C' tonight.  You never know how good a recipe will be.  As a simple veggie to have with it, I sliced some tomato and drizzled it with a balsamic reduction.

Crisp Pancetta And Egg Salad Sandwich

6    large hard-boiled eggs small dice
1/4 c  finely chopped dill pickle
3 T  mayonnaise
3 T  finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 T  cider vinegar
1 t  kosher salt
1/2 t  freshly ground black pepper
6    (3/4-inch-thick) slices brioche,toasted
9    thinly sliced pieces Pan-Crisped Pancetta
Place the eggs, pickle, mayonnaise, parsley, vinegar, salt, and
pepper in a medium nonreactive bowl and stir until evenly combined.
Divide the egg salad among 3 pieces of the brioche and top each with 3
pieces of the pancetta. Top with the remaining pieces of brioche and

Friday, March 2, 2012

Crab Cakes

The measurments for this recipe are approxomate.  I should know, I made it up:).  Yes it is based on many recipes we have tried before, but this is my own improv one night, and we wrote it down becasue we liked it.  All the amounts are based on large veggies; I often add more than the recipe says just to add more veggies to the diet.  This time I used the el cheapo crab; the kind that looks like string.  I thought, it's a cake, does it really need to be the fancy kind?  Well it really should, but the trade off made for some very smooth cakes!  I took last night's cuke relish and mixed in some mixed greens and it made for a very tasty salad.  I had some left over pasta; I tossed that with some butter, parm. cream and garlic as a starch for the boy.  I took a smidge.  (only in the intrest of learning if it worked well mind you;) Of course it is a keeper, I made it up.  However, I always play with my recipes. 

Crab Cakes
2 Servings

1 small can Crab, preferably lump
1/4 c  Bread Crumbs,Homade From a Baguette
1/4    Onion,Minced
1/4    Green Pepper,Minced
1/4    Carrot,Minced
2 ea Garlic,Minced
1 Egg,Beaten
Salt And Pepper
Butter And Oil,Unsalted
1. saute onion, carrot and pepper in about a tablespoon of butter
until soft then add the bread crumbs and saute until all the liquid and
fat is absorbed.
2. in a bowl, beat eggs, add crab and sauted mixture.  Season with salt
and pepper
3. form the mixture into small patties about 2 inches in diameter and
1/2 inch thick.  coat in the panko
4. put on a plate and cover and refrigerate at least an hour.
5.  Heat oil with some butter in a saute pan over medium heat. (enough
to make about a 1/4 inch deep of hot fat to fry in)
6.  Fry cakes until golden brown on both sides.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Middle Eastern Lamb Burgers

Another try at a new take on a burger.  They are always popular and ever so tasty.  This was surprisingly good.  I am a loaded burger kind of gal.  (everything but mustard) I need mayo, tomatoes, pickles and onions(I just do.), and am happy to add everything else. (just not mustard lol)  I am finding that there is life beyond those toppings.  This burger is very flavorful.  I was even happy with just the relish as a condiment.  It needs a lot of the relish to help keep it moist, but YUM! Everyone wolfed theirs down.  I did make 2 small deviations: 1) they were cooked in a skillet inside not on a grill. 2) I did not grind my own coriander seeds. The salad was a bit of a miss for me.  I improvised a dressing using the rest of the yogurt I had with some lemon, Dijon, salt and chives.  The burger is a keeper!

Middle Eastern Lamb Burgers
1 lb ground lamb
1/4 c  minced white onion
1    medium garlic clove,minced
2 T  finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
2 t  finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1 t  kosher salt
1/2 t  cayenne pepper
1/2 t  freshly ground black pepper
4    burger buns or ciabatta bread cut in half
Cucumber and Cumin Yogurt Relish
Combine all of the ingredients except the bread and relish in a
large bowl and mix until evenly incorporated. Form into 4 patties.
Heat a grill pan or outdoor grill to medium (about 350F to 450F). Once
the grill is hot, cook the burgers about 10 minutes per side, or until
the juices run clear and the patties are firm to the touch.
Place the lamb burgers on the buns, top with relish, and serve.
Beverage pairing: Green Point Shiraz, Australia. The spice and black
pepper in the wine merge wonderfully with the flavors of these burgers,
while the blackberry and plum notes refresh the mouth.
Cucumber and Cumin Yogurt Relish Recipe
By Regan Burns
6 medium Kirby cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, and seeded
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup Greek-style yogurt or sour cream
2 tablespoons white wine or red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon whole coriander seed, crushed to a powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
Cut cleaned cucumbers into small dice and place in a colander set over
a mixing bowl. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt and toss to
coat. Weight down cucumbers by setting a plate on top, and let drain
for 10 minutes. Occasionally press down on the plate to extract excess
Meanwhile, combine yogurt, vinegar, parsley, mint, sugar, coriander,
cumin, cayenne, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium mixing bowl,
stirring until evenly combined.
Blot cucumbers with paper towels, add to yogurt mixture, and stir to
combine. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.