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....

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:


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.