Monday, August 17, 2009

Fried Goat Cheese

The first time I've ever had fried goat cheese was at Chaya Brasserie in San Francisco. Ummmm...what can I say about it? Everything and nothing all at the same time. That was about 5 years ago. I've had it multiple times since then, and it just occured to me recently that I could make it myself - and boy was it easy...and WAY less expensive than ordering it at Chaya. My boyfriend calls it "fancy mozzarella sticks". Yeah, pretty much....same concept, but much MUCH more delectible.



In this salad, I paired the warm creamy goat cheese with sweet roasted beets and toasted walnuts. I also had some homemade bagel croutons that I threw in to give it extra crunch, and served it with a drizzle of homemade citrus vinaigrette.

Ingredients
One small log of goat cheese, slicked into 1/2 inch discs
1/3 C Flour
1 Egg, whisked
2 tsp water
1/3 C cornmeal (Can also substitute bread crumbs, but the crunch of cornmeal is fun)
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
3 Tbs toasted sesame seeds
Salt & Pepper
Olive Oil

Put the Flour, egg and cornmeal in 3 separate dishes. Add the water to the egg, and whisk together. Add the garlic powder, cayenne, sesame seeds, and a generous pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper into the cornmeal and mix.

In a small saute pan, heat up enough oil so that it's deep enough to reach at least 1/4 of the way up the side of the disk - about 1/4 inch deep. Make sure the oil is hot enough by sprinkling some flour in the oil. If it sizzles, it's hot enough, but make sure the oil doesn't smoke.

Working with one or two goat cheese discs at a time, first cover each disc with flour and pat of the extra flour. Next, dip it in the egg, making sure that the whole disc is covered, then toss it around in the cornmeal. Gently place breaded goat cheese in the hot oil and cook for one to two minutes each side, taking care when flipping so the crust doesn't puncture. Once the goat cheese is golden brown, set aside on a paper towel and serve warm on top of the already prepared salad.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Horchata

I was browsing Food Network magazine the other day and came across a recipe for horchata. I don't know why it never occurred to me that I could make my own horchata. I LOVE the stuff! Sweet, cinnamon-y rice milk. Yum yum yum! The perfect balance for any spicy Mexican meal. After reading through the recipe, I didn't think it could possibly be that easy, so I went online to see if there were other variations. I found a recipe from Emeril Lagasse that included blanched almonds in it - which I think would add the creaminess that the other recipe may have lacked, so I decided to go with that one.


In the process of making the horchata, I realized that I had run out of sugar - so I used some powdered sugar instead. I think that added to the texture a bit to make it even more silky, since creamy sweet frosting is just powdered sugar and a tiny bit of liquid. In any case, it came out DELICIOUS. It's an easy recipe to follow, but a little time consuding since it has to sit over night. It definitely tested my patience - I couldn't wait to take a giant gulp of it.

Ingredients
8 Tbs long grain rice
1 Cup blanched almonds
zest of 1/2 lime
1 tsp cinnamon (I ended up adding more)
3 Cups hot water, 4 cups cold water, divided
1 to 1 1/2 C of sugar (depending on taste)
Vanilla extract to taste (~ 1tsp)

In a blender or food processor, finely grind up the rice - as fine as you can possibly get it. The finer the rice, the better the horchata. Put it in a large pitcher and add in the almonds, lime, and cinnamon. Add three cups of boiling water, stir, and let sit over night.

The next day, blend the mixure until it's as smooth as possible. Add 2 Cups of cold water and blend until combined. Using a fine strainer or strainer and cheese cloth, allow the liquid to strain through. (I strained it 3 times because I didn't have cheese cloth). Add a 2 more cups of cold water and mix thoroughly. Add Sugar and vanilla, and a little bit more cinnamon if you'd like. Stir well until the sugar has completely dissolved. I had to let the horchata sit in the fridge for a little while in order for the sugar to fully dissolve and all the flavors to meld together. Serve cold, over ice.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Corn and Zucchini Salad with a Latin Twist

Love, love, LOVE summer time!I mean, kale and chard in the winter is great and all, but nothing beats the bright colorful flavors of summer. The combination of the warm weather with sweet, in season corn, and cool tender zucchini screams summer time to me. It’s probably one of my favorite salads to make, and it’s so versatile! You can add anything you want to it. My first corn & zucchini salad had thyme and lemon zest with a simple lemon juice and olive oil dressing. In this version, I served it as a light and fresh side to grilled fajitas, so a Latin twist was in the stars for this recipe


Ingredients:
2 ears of corn, boiled and kernels cut off
2-3 small zucchini, diced to the size of corn kernels (more tender than the big ones)
1 red bell pepper, diced to the size of corn kernels
1 jalapeno, seeds removed, finely diced
½ Cup cilantro, chopped
Zest of one lime
Juice of one lime
5 Tbs Olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Toss all of the ingredients together, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Yes, it’s THAT easy.

Side note: Feel free to play around with the amount of each ingredient to your taste!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cornmeal and Herb Crusted Chicken Drumsticks

It breaks my heart when I hear people say that they don't like chicken drumsticks. "It's too fatty." "There's a bone in it." "It's 'dark' meat...I don't like the concept of that." ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!?!? First excuse on the fattiness - ok, I can kind of accept that, but fat also = flavor. It's not like you're eating a stick of butter. Second excuse: a chicken was an animal. Animals have bones. You may as well eat worms if you're scared of bones. When cooking meat with bones in it you retain moisture and flavor. The third excuse....don't even get me started. Let's just stick with the scientific explanation that dark meat is dark because of myoglobin. Chickens need to run *or..at least chickens who aren't locked up in cages*....so their legs need more oxygen. Myoglobin stores oxygen and that's what gives dark meat its color.

So science and being irked by non drumstick eaters aside....I obviously enjoy eating it. It's inexpensive, juicy and is incredibly flavorful. I've cooked it various different ways, but this is my first time breading and baking. Let's just say I'll definitely do it again. I found a couple recipes and didn't like any one of them so I took bits and pieces from various recipes and made it my own. All the herbs I used are fresh from my garden and the bread crumbs are from
an old hunk of bread that I put in the food processor.

Ingredients:
8 Chicken Drumsticks
1/4 C Dijon Mustard
3 Tbs Mayonnaise
1 Tbs Worcesterchire Sauce
A Splash or two of Tobasco Sauce
1/3 C Plain Bread Crumbs
1/3 C Cornmeal
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp chili powder

1 1/4 tsp fresh Rosemary
1
1/4 tsp fresh Thyme
1
1/4 tsp fresh Oregano
1
1/4 tsp fresh Sage

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In small bowl, mix together the mustard, mayonnaise, worcestershire sauce and tobasco. In another dish combine bread crumbs, cornmeal, cayenne and chili powder. Chop up the fresh herbs all together and toss it in with the dry cornmeal/breadcrumb mixture. Working with one drumstick at a time, and using your hands, spread a thin layer of the mustard/mayo mixture all over the drumstick, then put it in the breadcrumb mixture, making sure to have the whole piece of chicken covered. Arrange the breaded chicken on a baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes. When you poke a knife into it, the juice should come out clear (not pink). Let sit for a couple minutes (if you can wait that long - because I couldn't and ended up burning my tongue), and serve warm.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Grilled Lobster w/ Garlic Herbed Butter

How do you pass up live, fresh lobster that are being sold at $7.99/lb. Simple - you just don't do it. *Thank you, Chowhounders for the food news updates!!!* Just the week before, I picked up 2 live crab off a boat in Bodega Bay ($6.99/lb), and steamed it with ginger and scallions (Here's a recipe for it from one of my fave blogs - Appetite for China). After that episode of fresh seafood - I was desperately craving lobster!!! Yumyumyumyumyumyumyumyum....=D.



Lucky for me, it was my dad's birthday - so I had a 'real' reason to splurge! - not that I needed a reason for $7.99/lb lobster. I ended up buying 3 lobsters that were just under 2 lbs each. Look - they're staring at you..saying "If you put me in boiling lemony water - I will forever hate you - but you will be forever pleased with my sweet and juicy meat, so I don't blame you."


Most people just eat the tail and the big claws, but there's actually a lot of delicious tender meat in the head and their skinny little legs, so I just decided to cook the whole damn thing - why not, right?


Ingredients
Lobster (in this case, 3 whole)
1 whole lemon - cut in half
1/4 Cup of Butter (1/2 a stick)
1 sprig rosemary, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Lemon wedges for serving


Boil a big pot of water and squeeze the juice of a whole lemon into it. Throw in the lemon halves for flavor. Submerge each the lobster under the boiling water for 1-1.5 minutes - until the lobster has turned orange and stops moving. =( You don't want to fully cook the lobster at this stage. If doing one lobster at a time - make sure th
e water comes back to a boil before putting in the next lobster.

After boiling, run it under cold water or submerge into a bucket of ice water to stop the cooking. Peel off the large claws and set aside to get it out of your way. Using a large knife, slice each lobster length wise using the bottom side of the lobster as a guide - in between its legs and down the middle of the tail. Clean out the guts and rinse it out a bit w/cold water. Let the water drain.


In the meantime, prepare the herbed butter. Mix the minced rosemary and garlic in with the butter and put it in the microwave until all the butter is melted (30 - 40 seconds). This allows the flavors of the garlic and rosemary to seep into the butter. Brush the garlic herb butter evenly on the open sides of the 6 lobster halves. Place cut side down onto a HOT grill for 3-4 minutes until the the meat is browned. While the halves are grilling, also place the claws on the grill - they'll take a total of 6-8 minutes to cook (3-4 minutes on each side).


Before serving, crack the shells of the claws using a mallot, and serve with lemon wedges.

Citrus Poppy Seed Cookies

This post is LONG over due. I made these cookies a couple months back after buying a bag of poppy seeds at random from a local european specialty food store. I went into the store wanting to buy something I had never purchased before since the store had so many unusual items like cured meats with weird names I had never heard of to sauces that were completely foreign to me. What I came out with was a bag of poppy seeds, a mug of mustard (yes, a mug....), and a few other little snacks.

I asked the lady at the counter what she'd make with poppy seeds and mustard, and she suggested, in a very heavy German-like accent, *I could barely understand her*....that a great recipe her mom made was to spread a thin layer of mustard all over a whole fish, stuff the inside w/ avocado and lemon, and sprinkle poppy seeds over it. Mustard Avocado & Poppy Seed Fish. It sounded great - but I wasn't in a fishy mood - that might be another post one of these days..... I'm familiar with poppy seeds in lemon poppy seed cake, muffins, etc...so I figured I'd stick to familiarity before venturing off into foreign territory. I found a recipe online for Lemon Poppy Seed cookies that sounded pretty good. I had fresh oranges to spare as well - so why not mix lemon and orange and make it my own! The came out sweet, slightly tart and deliciously cakey/chewy!


Ingredients:
1/2 Cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 Cup granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
1.5 tsp lemon zest
1.5 tsp orange zest
1/2 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 Tbs orange juice
2 Tbs Poppy Seeds
1/2 Cup Sour Cream
2 Cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Frosting:
1 Cup powdered sugar
1/2 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 Tbs orange juice

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add egg yolks and vanilla and blend. Add the citrus zest, poppy seeds and sour cream and mix until combined. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture. Scoop 2 tablespoons of dough and roll to form each cookie. Drop them onto un-greased cookie sheets - keeping the about 2 inches apart. Bake until the cookes are lightly browned - about 18 minutes. Let the cookies cool before icing.

For the icing: Put powdered sugar into a bowl and mix in citrus juices until smooth. Dip the top of the cookies and let it drip before placing it down to allow it to harden.

Makes about 20 cookies

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Scallion Cakes

I opened my produce box last week and to my horror, I found a humongous bunch of scallions. Yucky yuck yuck. Ok - they weren't ugly or anything - quite beautiful actually, with pretty shades of purple, white and green.

But if you know me, you know I hate scallions. When I was little, I'd pick them out of my fried rice, spoon it out of bowls of congee, and spit it out after taking a sip of miso soup. I gagged when I ate them. To this day, I pick them out whenever I can. When I tell people this little fact about me, they think I'm crazy because I like to eat pretty much everything. This next little tidbit is probably even more odd. Despite my hatred for scallions - there are only 2 ways I eat them. In both ways - they are used as the MAIN ingredient and can possibly be 2 of my favorite foods. Weird, right? I know. One of them is ginger scallion sauce, which I love to mix with white rice and gobble up, and the other is scallion cake. Hot, flaky, chewy and salty little pastries that have an incredible green onion flavor that I happen to love.


Ingredients:

2 Cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup room temperature water
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

4 scallions chopped into little pieces
A little bowl of salt - course preferred
A little bowl of corn oil

In separate bowls, mix together 1 Cup of flour with the boiling water, and the remaining cup of flour with room temperature water. Once each mixture is mixed well, combine the 2 together and knead until it's fully combined. Place the dough in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rest for one hour. In the meantime, chop up the scallions.


Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces. Working with one piece at a a time, roll the dough into a circle that's about 1/8 inch thick. Using a brush, generously brush the dough with oil. Sprinkle a pinch of salt evenly over the dough, then sprinkle with chopped green onions. See picture for amount of green onions. (I know, I'd NEVER put that amount of scallions straight into my mouth). Roll up the dough length wise into a log. Then roll the log into a circle. Once a circle is formed, press it down flat. Some onions will ooze out, but that's OK. Repeat with remaining 11 pieces of dough.

Once all the cakes are formed, heat a non-stick pan over medium heat. Cook the cakes for about 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Roasted Cauliflower and Artichoke Heart Soup

I think cauliflower is totally under-rated. It doesn't get the praise that other vegetables get because it's not brightly colored, or super flavorful, or filled with uber amounts of vitamins and antioxidants. It's a plain white lumpy thing (although they do come in different shapes and colors...but that's another post...) whose flavor is slightly sweet and mild. Little does one know that it's a good source of fiber and is high in Vitamin C. My mom always said that if you eat things that look like a brain - you'll be smarter. I believe it. Walnuts, pecans, cauliflower....etc. Moms are always right.


That being said, when I found a humongous head of cauliflower in my box last week, I pondered over the many options of cauliflower dishes I could make to make me smarter. I tasted some cauliflower soup at Town Hall restaurant a couple months back, so I decided I'd make my own. I had some frozen artichokes I bought on a whim when I was starving and grabbing everything off the shelves that looked good - so why not throw some in the soup too! The result was a creamy and savory soup that had an everlasting flavor of that wonderful artichoke sweetness. I think roasting the cauliflower and artichoke hearts were key - it added a level of richness that I don't think would have existed if I had just boiled vegetables in the chicken broth.

Ingredients:
1 Large head of cauliflower - cut into little flowerettes
2 Cups of frozen artichoke hearts
3 Tbs olive oil
1 small onion - chopped
1 clove garlic - minced
4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you prefer)
1 cup whole milk

1/2 Tbs thyme leaves
1 tsp lemon zest
Salt & Pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. On a baking sheet, toss the cauliflower and artichoke hearts in a tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with a bit of salt. Spread it on the baking sheet in one layer and bake for 25-30 minutes until it cauliflower starts to brown. Remove from oven and set aside.



In a big pot under medium low heat, cook the onions and garlic until soft. Throw in the roasted cauliflower and artichoke stir. Pour in chicken broth and stir. Turn the heat to high and bring to boil. Once boiling, bring the heat back to medium low and allow to simmer for 15 minutes with the lid on. Add in thyme leaves and simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and puree the soup. (Using an immersion blender or ladle into a blender). Stir in milk and lemon zest. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Peanut Butter Granola Apples

Aaah - Spring cleaning! I haven't cleaned like this since.....I moved into my place three years ago! I set aside things for donation (i.e. an old high school winter ball gown and graduation gown....umm...yeah - those needed to go - I was saving them in case any halloween costume ideas came up), and threw away a bunch of stuff that I would be embarassed for anyone else to have. All that work got me hungry during mid-afternoon and I needed a pick me up. While I was cleaning, I concocted up this yummy in my head. One of my favorite snacks is apples and peanut butter - so why not throw in another a favorite? I had recently picked up my favorite granola - blueberry flaxseed - and it was waiting to be munched on. Oh yum! I felt like a little kid putting it all together. It was fun, easy - and delicious too!


Ingredients
1 apple - preferably sweet and crisp - cored and cut into eighths
2-3 Tbs peanut butter - depending on how big the apple is
1/4 C Granola (any kind will do)

Spread peanut butter on one cut side of each apple slice. Press the peanut butter side down into the granola - repeat w/ all eight slices.

Roasted Bell Pepper Mashed Potatoes

"What's that orange colored looking pile of mush that looks so insanely delicious?" - is the question I asked myself upon entering Pluto's in the Marina for lunch one day. Without going into detail about the structure of this restaurant - they pretty much serve you good ol' home cookin' (turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, brussel sprouts, tri-tip, etc...) - that's just displayed out there for you to salivate over and end up ordering too much - even though it doesn't really matter because it all ends up in your stomach in one sitting anyway. That is THE lunch time place that my co-worker Allison and I look forward to going to when we actually have the time to drive over there. We've come to learn that if we each order a side salad with meat (it's pretty much exactly the same as a large salad and comes w/ seven toppings, but less expensive)...we'd leave just enough room and $$ for a side to share. On our drive over one day, we were contemplating whether we should go with the curly fries or mashed potatoes. Even when parking (It's about a ~10 minute drive) - we had not yet made our decision. When we opened the doors to Pluto's and saw the server scooping out a humongous glob of orange mashed potatoes - we didn't know what made it orange, but we knew we wanted it - no questions asked. I can't tell you how happy I was to find that Allison's excitement for these mashed potatoes was just as grand as mine.


What gave them the beautiful orange color was roasted red bell pepper. How GENIUS is that? I LOVE roasted bell peppers - why had I never thought about it before? The rich roasted sweetness of the bell pepper was incredible w/ the salty potatoes, I was craving them Saturday night, so I made them along w/ some turkey meat balls and veggies.

Ingredients

5-6 medium Russet Potatoes, diced up for fast cooking
1 bell pepper
Salt
Pepper
1Tbs butter
1/2 to 3/4 C Milk

Roast the bell pepper by putting it on an open flame until the skin blisters and blackens - turning over a couple times until the whole pepper is blackened. (If you have an electric stove like me....put it very close to the broiler in the toaster oven and turn it when it blackens) After the whole pepper is black and blistered, wrap in foil to let it steam and cool. This allows the skin to peel off easier. Once it's cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and remove the seeds. Chop into little pieces and set aside.

Boil the potatoes in water until very soft, then drain. Pour the potatoes back in the pot, season w/ salt and pepper. Mash them up a bit and add in the milk slowly. The smoother you want your potatoes, the more milk you should add. Toss in the bell peppers - use an immersion blender to whip it up together - watch the potatoes turn pink! Once the potatoes are desired consistency, mix in butter and serve.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Basalmic Grilled Radicchio

My last couple of veggie boxes left me with a couple heads of radicchio. It's a sturdy vegetable, kind of like cabbage - so it stayed fresh for a long time in my refrigerator. In my life before veggie boxes, I didn't buy radicchio on a regular basis. Come to think of it - I don't think I've ever bought it - so naturally - I didn't have a clue how to prepare it except for mixing it with different lettuces for a salad that had a bit more meatiness to it. That said, one of the reasons for starting the produce delivery is so that I can explore new foods, and that I did.


Who knew that radicchio could have such a sweet/nutty flavor when grilled. *Ok - let me caveat that by saying i WISH it was grilled, but considering I don't have a grill pan or a bbq grill, it was more 'seared'....in a cast iron pan.* I'm not really sure how I got the idea to grill it - maybe I've seen it on restaurant menus or random cooking shows. In any case - the sweet, tangy basalmic w/ the slightly bitter radicchio made quite the pairing. I wish I had some roast chicken and roasted potatoes to go along with it....

Ingredients:
3 heads of radicchio (quartered lengthwise at the heart - be sure the stem stays in tact to keep the leaves together)
1/4 cup of basalmic vinegar
1/4 cup of olive oil
1Tbs fresh rosemary, chopped
1 small garlic clove, mashed
Salt & Pepper
Shaved Parmesan Cheese
Cilantro Leaves (or sweet basil would go well too!)

Rinse and soak the radicchio in cold water for 10-15 minutes, letting all the dirt particles sink to the bottom, then drain well. In the meantime, combine basalmic vinegar, olive oil, rosemary and garlic in a bowl for the dressing. Pour the dressing over the cleaned and drained radicchio. Heat up the grill (or cast iron pan) on high. Once the pan is hot, put the marinated radicchio cut side down on the heat for 1-2 minutes until slightly browned, and flip to put the other cut side down for another minute.

Pile the raddicchio on a plate and top with cilantro leaves and shaved parmesan cheese. Serve warm.

**....to those of you who gave me hard time for not having a food processor from the Butternut Squash Galette entry - don't give me hard time for not having a grill/grill pan - I already know what I lack from a kitchen utensil/appliance standpoint. But back in the day - there was neither - and good food was still made...so BACK OFF!!! ;)**

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Braised Oxtail

So - you know how a lot of cultures, Chinese culture being one of them, eat every part of the animal? Nothing goes to waste. Depending on the animal, this can include blood, heart, eyes, kidney, stomach, testicles, etc....I can pretty much go on forever. All of that stuff falls under a term known as Offal. Is offal awful? Sometimes - but it can also be Offal Good especially if you're Chris Consentino. I'm not Chef Consentino - and I'm only SOMETIMES a fan of that stuff, and one of those times is undoubtedly ox tail. YUM!!!! Yes - that long skinny thing that whips back and forth off the butt of a big hairy animal. That same long skinny thing, after being braised at 300 degrees in a liquid of many flavors for 3-4 hours, is way more than awful good - it's frickin' to DIE for. Imagine having a piece of savory meat slip right off the bone the moment you put your lips to it. It's a perfect combination of meat and fat. Dare I say it - it's a million times better than everyone's favorite meat and fat combination: bacon.

This picture does not by any means do it justice. You have to make it, or come over and have me make it for you (which i'd be glad to do), in order for you to fully understand the lip smacking, finger lickin' delight that is braised oxtail. I was too anxious to eat so - no time for a million shots.


Now that I've professed my love for braised oxtail. I must also share my dad's love for oxtail. He's a very simple man. Meat, sauce and rice is all he needs. (Maybe some veggies). I swear he poured on the braising liquid into his rice bowl so that it turned into a rice soup. Here he is, about to eat his last bite(s) in front of a bunch of meatless tail bones. He had a last helping of rice that he put in the ox tail serving bowl - just to sop up the sauce. What a good man.


Now on to serious business. How do you make this wonderful dish? I'm not even going to take credit for this because there's no way I could have come up with this recipe on my own. I found the recipe on SundayNiteDinner.com which also has much more beautiful pictures that do it justice. I followed the recipe to the T, but also used chopped cilantro as a garnish.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette

I tend to always 'happen upon' interesting food blogs while at work, and found that many food bloggers have been making this galette - which looked SO amazing. There was no way I COULDN'T make it. I got a butternut squash in my box a couple weeks ago and had been waiting for a perfect recipe that would celebrate the rich & sweet creaminess of the squash. This recipe, I have to say, did it for me - and you can't go wrong w/ caramelized onions and melted cheese either.


There are various versions of this - one of which uses a rosemary pie crust, which I think is KEY to this galette. Since I was too lazy this weekend to make my own pie crust (partly because I don't have a pastry cutter or a food processor), I went and bought frozen pie crust from the store (box of 2 - 9 inch pie crust), let it thaw, and worked in 1.5 Tbs of chopped rosemary into the dough before rolling it back out. It turned out pretty damn amazing - except I wish I used less dough as I like my crusts a little thinner. Next time, I'll probably take out 1/4 of the dough before rolling it out.


This recipe takes a bit of time, but if you have it, it's totally worth it. Here's a link to the filling recipe I used. I followed it exactly (which I rarely ever do). One thing I forgot was the cayenne pepper, but I ended up dusting some on top before serving.

Portuguese Kale & Potato Soup

One of Anthony Bourdain's new No Reservations episodes featured an archipelago of 17 or so islands right smack in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean called the Azores. It's Portuguese dominated, so of course all the food has Portuguese influence. He was served a Kale & Potato soup (I think it's called Caldo Verde or something like that). It was served chunky with cubes of potatoes and pieces of kale distinctly visible all boiled together in a big stock pot - chunky is the way Anthony preferred it. He mentioned that it's also served in many restaurants, pureed, which is great because that's how I prefer my soups...(sorry, Tony).

As they listed off some of the typical ingredients found in the national soup of Portugal (Anyone know what the national soup of the US is???) - I realized that I had all the ingredients - each individually waiting to be cooked. Little did they know they'd come together to form a surprisingly savory dish inspired by some islands seen on TV. I found a couple of recipes online to make sure
I had the idea right in terms of ingredients used. As it's always said, "Every family has their own special recipe of a dish".....right? Whether it's mole sauce in Mexico or my mom's special sticky fried rice...every family has their own recipe of a traditional dish that can't be replicated by another family....so here's a stab at my "traditional" Portuguese Kale & Potato Soup:



Ingredients:

1 Bunch Kale - leaves sliced into thin strips (stems removed)
4 Medium sized russet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 Tbs Olive Oil
6 oz. Chorizo, diced
1 White Onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 small Carrots, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
Salt/Pepper to taste

In a large pot, saute the chorizo in olive oil. Once it's browned, remove the bits of sausage and set aside. Add onions, garlic and carrots and cook about 2 minutes until it's a bit soft. Add in potatoes and kale - stir and cook for another 2 minutes. Pour in chicken broth and water and bring to a boil. Simmer until potatoes are soft, salt and pepper to taste. Toss in the little bits of chorizo.

You can serve as is, but if you want it pureed, pour it in a blender or put an immersion blender to it when the soup has cooled down a bit.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Chili Oil!!!

My first box of produce came with a bunch of fresh cayenne peppers. They were so hot, I was scared to use them. I had a previous post: Hanging Peppers, where I decided that Chili Oil might do them justice. This posting comes a little late since I bottled it before Christmas. They made the perfect little Christmas gifts with a little red ribbon tied around it.




Ingredients:
2 C dried chilis
4 C Vegetable Oil




Break dried chilis into large pieces and put in a pan with the oil.


Heat the pan slowly over a medium-low heat until small bubbles start to rise up from the bottom of the pot.

Turn off the heat and let oil come to room temperature. Pour the oil and chilis in a glass container (not plastic) and cover. Store in refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.

If you want to put them into little bottles, be sure to sterilize the bottles before putting the oil in.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Another beginning....Rosemary & Garlic Steak Sandwich

The holidays are over! - which is quite unfortunate because it was probably the best 2(ish) weeks off of work. 2 consecutive Thursday national holidays are SWEET! So much cooking and eating and indulging was to be had - but unfortunately - the excitement to just eat and enjoy what you cook with friends and family leads to lack of time for pretty photos and such. I would love to post everything I've cooked over the past couple weeks on here, but I think a fresh start is needed. Just to recap though - some of the highlights over the holidays were Pistachio Crusted Tilapia, Leek and Rosemary Scalloped Potatoes, Yorkshire Pudding, Roasted Beet Goat Cheese and Walnut Salad w/ Citrus Vinaigrette, Chicken Pot Pie, Egg Nog Petit Fours, Potato Leek Soup, etc.... etc.... etc.... but one of the things that REALLY stood out was a Rosemary and Garlic Steak Sandwich w/ Roasted Bell Peppers. Sadly - no pictures were taken, but just use your imagination as I tell the story of this glorious sandwich:

The Setting:
6 friends in a warm toasty cabin in Lake Tahoe on a quiet evening after a long day of playing in the powdery white snow.

The Meat:

1.5 lb Flank Steak
1 Tbs mashed roasted garlic**
2 sprigs rosemary - chopped up
a good drizzle of olive oil
Juice of 1/2 a lemon.
Salt & Pepper

Marinate overnight. Grill until medium. Let rest at least 10 minutes before slicing thinly - against the grain.

**For the roasted garlic: cut off the top of a head of garlic. Drizzle a bit of olive oil and sprinkle w/ salt and pepper. Wrap the whole thing in foil and throw it in the oven at 400 degrees for 45-50 minutes. When cool enough to handle, squeeze out the fragant gooey sweetness and use as you wish.... then lick your fingers**

The Sauce:
1 C Mayonnaise
2 tsp lemon juice
1 sprig rosemary
1 small fresh garlic clove - mashed (helps to use some salt and mash with the back of a knife)
1/2 tsp chili powder
Salt & Pepper

Mix it all together and refrigerate until ready to use.

The Veggies:
Fresh Baby Spinach (Arugula would be great as well)
2 Roasted Bell Peppers - Sliced (You can roast them yourself - which I prefer....or buy jarred)

The Bread:
5 Ciabatta Rolls - sliced in half & lightly toasted to warm and soft, but not brown
(I imagine an herbed Focaccia would have been amazing as well...)

The Assembly:
Evenly distribute the sauce on the 5 bottom halves of the warm toasted bread. For each sandwich, add a layer of the sliced roasted bell pepper. Place a couple slices of the steak on top. Add a bit of baby spinach and top with the other half of the bread. Slice the sandwiches in half (I prefer a diagonal cut)

Served with:
A bowl of creamy potato leek soup.

All of the above = HEAVEN IN MY MOUTH.