Sunday, December 20, 2009

Special Holiday Intredient Number 2

Last week I spoke about a favorite holiday ingredient, egg nog. Today is ingredient number 2. Panettone! This holiday bread was introduced to me a few years ago and I expect it will be a part of many holiday menues. This week I toasted cubes of the bread for a salad. In the next days it will be part of a Panetonne egg nog bread pudding and finally the last slices will be an amazing french toast!

The menu for this week is:

Arugula with a roasted fruit salad and Panettone croutons
Roasted Cornish Hen with smashed potoates and feta

The salad is one I have made during the holiday's for several years. It is a favorite, colorful and full of flavor. The fruits are cranberries, grapes, pears, and plums tossed with sugar, butter and lemon juice, then roasted until softened. Slightly cooled and tossed with the arugula and a lite dressing. Topped with the Pnaetonne croutons; makes an excellent salad.

The Cornish hen is halved and a rub of garlic, mustard, rosemary salt and pepper is put under the skin and roasted. The juice is reduced with red wine and chicken broth. The juice is poured over the hen and the potatoes.

A nice pre-holiday dinner. Next week I expect to highlight Christmas Eve and Christmas Day meals. Spectacular as always!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Weather Outside Was Frightful!

Snow...Wind...Cold, we had it all this week. I also spent most of the week feeling poorly. What better way to survive both than to make chicken soup. However, most chicken soup recipes are quite labor intensive; poach a chicken, cool it, cut it up, discard bones and skin and process the broth. Since I was not feeling very well, I took some short cuts that worked out well. This weekend my eats were:

Roasted-Chicken Noodle Soup
Egg Nog Egg Custard

Aside from the long chicken cooking process, I also object to the wide long egg noodles in most soups. When trying to eat them, they splash broth all over the table. your clothes, and runs down your face. I found a nice simple recipe in a Cooking Light cookbook. Carrot, celery, onion and garlic sauteed in oil. A box of good chicken stock and 2 medium diced baking potatoes with skins. I purchased from the deli a garlic roasted rosemary chicken and shredded the meat from one side (the other side will fill in for sandwiches and salads this week) A lot of good flavor in the meat stirred in with a cup of low fat evaporated milk, after the vegetables are cooked. I really like real egg noodles, but was unable to find them at the store (usually in the freezer case) so I used my second favorite; Kluski's European Style No Yolks egg noodles. A nice flavorful satisfying soup which I enjoyed all weekend. I had with it with toasted whole grain bread from the bakery.

For a simple sweet, an egg custard. I have egg nog in the refrigerator from Thanksgiving until New Years and use it in coffee and oatmeal. I substituted one of the cups of milk in the custard with the egg nog. Great flavor with a dusting of nutmeg. And it went well with endless cups of tea.

Hopefully next week I will begin putting together plans for holiday food. Stop by...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Seafood Weekend

This was a very seafood weekend. On Saturday I took a 'Feast of the Seven Fishes' class at Viking Cooking School. As always Steve conductuted an exceptional fish class. He has taught all the fish classes I have attended there. The highlights of this one were the first course; Insalata Frutti de Mare, a Seafood salad. Scallops, shrimp and calamari lightly grilled with a lemon dressing. A spinach-crab rolled stuffed flounder with a Prosecco saffron butter sauce, both were outstanding dishes. The clam linguine was OK, but I like the one I do better.

At home I did:
Pistachio-Crusted Tuna Steak
Warm Pecan Cabbage Slaw

The tuna dish is very good. The tuna is crusted with pistachio/Panko crumbs with dill. The grilled fish is served with a lemon-dill sauce. Nice flavor and texture. Would work with other fish 'steaks'. Will use this concept again with other fish.

The slaw was a nice side for the fish. Lightly steamed cabbage, carrots, and green onions with a butter mustard sauce and toasted pecans was a good accompaniment. Seafood, aside from being good for you, has a lot of possibilities in their preparation. I plan to do more seafood dishes in the new year.

Next week is still a mystery?

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Wisconsin Thanksgiving

Here I sit with a glass of Wollersheim Ruby Nouveau and a turkey sandwich. My visit to Madison encountered a dusting of snow, orange shirted hunters in the fields, yummy smells and good company upon arrival.

Every holiday we think 'This is the best', however this was 'the best' least until Christmas! Here is our menu:

Appetizer: Fig-Prosciutto/Gorgonzola Flatbread

This is an amazing appetizer. The sweetness of fig jam, the saltiness of prosciutto, and the creamy taste of the of the melted Gorgonzola Cheese with rosemary/garlic. Sliced green onions for garnish make this a colorful appetizer. Baked and sliced like pizza. YUM!

Turkey: Butter basted bird with Penzey's Bi-Centennial Rub. Wonderful color and very moist.

Salad: Molded Cranberry Salad Loretta's special and always a favorite!

Veggies: Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Gravy; Apricot-Orange Glazed Carrots; Green Bean - Corn Casserole and Brussels Sprouts, with Onions and Bacon. (isn't everything better with bacon) Very colorful and tasty.

Dressing: Pumpernickel Bread and Wild Rice with Veggies. When I opened the oven and saw this I was taken aback. The dark color was unexpected. Lots of textures and excellent? Good choice Chris!

We had an Appetizer Dessert:

Don't know the "actual name" but....

Cream Cheese, Pumpkin, Spices and Vanilla, whipped together It is wonderful as a spread/dip with very thin Gingerbread Cookies (from World Market). Good job Mary! One of my new favorites and will use it again!.

Also cherry pie and whipped cream!!

This was a great family dinner!!

We are always happy to hear from the family in Georgia. Facebook photos brought a tear to my eye to see Tim in Grandpa's Apron while he prepared his appetizers. TG's place cards were very cute.!

A Food Network rival? I think so!!!

To all my family and the extended ones, thank you for giving me so much to be thankful for. Love and blessings to you all. Start planning for next year??

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Autumn Minestrone from the Italian Rivera

I have a great soup cookbook that I like to use pre-holiday. Since there will be a lot of cooking and eating this week, I thought a pot of soup that had options would be a good thing and would leave time for other Thanksgiving preparations. The book is "Good & Garlicky, Thick & Hearty, Soul-Satisfying More Than Minestrone Italian Soup Cookbook" by Joe Famularo. A long name for a great small book. Many of the soups are vegetarian and there are also recipes for soup enhancers: breads, spreads, and crackers. The soup I chose is a minestrone and full of vegetables. Carrot, celery, onion, herbs, tomatoes, green beans, acorn squash, cabbage and potatoes. During the last part of cooking rice is added, I chose arborio. Excellent! Simmer time was about 2 hours. I also prepared crostini with leftover asiago bread from last week. The slices are toasted, drizzled with olive oil and topped with thin strips of fresh sage and grated fontina cheese. Baked until the cheese melts. A great accompaniment to the soup. I saw these served atop a butternut squash soup that was pureed, but this soup is chunky and floating a slice was not an option. Great for dipping, however. I expect some of the turkey meatballs in my freezer will join the soup at some point, but yesterday and today, just the soup as is.

Look for another recipe from this book in the days before Christmas. Perhaps a pasta fagioli? Next week I will share our Wisconsin Thanksgiving. I expect it will be full of great food and good company. Have a wonderful holiday!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Lidia's Bolognese X 2

Over the years, I've heard of and seen bolognese prepared, but never tried it. So this week I decided to go to one of the authorities of Italian cooking, Lidia Bastianich and her book "Lidia's Family Table". This project evolved into the most labor intensive one thus far.

Ragu' alla Bolognese
Green Beans with Cherry Tomatoes, Mozzarella and Basil
Baked Persimmon Pudding

I was not aware that there is a white bolognese as well as a red one. Unable to decide between the two, after preparing the meat mixture base, I divided it and prepared both. The white uses milk and nutmeg and has a gentle flavor and texture. The red uses red wine, tomatoes, and has more of a bite. Lots of blending, processing in both preparations. Both sauces are hearty and I would expect to see them used successfully over polenta or gnocchi, in lasagna, in risotto, and perhaps with ravioli. A good meal on a damp cold night. I had asiago bread with it to sop up the gravy.

As a side dish the beans, tomato, Mozzarella and basil dish is quick and easy. The vegetables, basil and fresh Mozzarella slices are tossed with salt, pepper and a bit of EVOO. A topping of Panko bread crumbs and grated Parmesan covers the top and baked for less than half an hour. Colorful and full of flavor.

To finish off the meal, I took a detour. I saw persimmons in the store and as I have never cooked with them, brought some home. One of my Face Book Friends speaks of a persimmon pudding he likes very much. I hunted up a recipe (don't know if it's the same one) and prepared it. The aroma while baking is very nice. I served a portion with a drizzle of melted raspberry jam and a tiny bit of whipped cream. Not too sweet, just right. Thank you Joe I will make this again.

All in all this was a good week. I have a freezer full of bolognese and will enjoy it over the cold winter. Next week? I am undecided, but perhaps a soup? We shall see.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Visiting Vermont

I have some very dear friends who retired from academia to a small town in the Green Mountains of Vermont. I visited them last year. Vermont is a magical place; green hills, covered bridges, and slow paced living. Vermont Fresh Network is a group of farmers, growers and producers of local food providing the best to chefs and locals alike. Maple syrup and cheese are two of Vermont's outstanding products. "Dishing up Vermont' by Tracey Medeiros brings recipes from many of the inns and restaurants of the state:

Roasted beets with baby greens, maple mustard vinaigrette and goat cheese from Trapp Family Lodge
Sauteed pork medallions with rosemary butter and apple salsa from Middlebury Inn
Cheddar mashed Yukon potatoes from Trapp Family Lodge
Maple moose from Chruchill House Inn

The salad has many steps, but well worth it. The beets are roasted in a mixture of orange juice, oil, fennel seeds, salt and pepper. The beets are cooled, peeled and cut into chunks. The liquid is saved to use for presentation. Baby greens are tossed with a vinaigrette of vinegar, mustard, lemon juice and maple syrup. The beets are arranged on top and drizzled with the roasting liquid and topped with toasted pumpkin seeds and crumbled Vermont goat cheese. The salad looks spectacular and has many flavors and textures.

Pork tenderloin is a very versatile cut of meat. In this dish, it is no exception. The medallions are sauteed and then finished cooking in a sauce of rosemary, cider vinegar, honey, bourbon and butter. They are served with a salsa of apple, red onion, jalapeno pepper, lime juice and garlic. The salsa was a very pleasant surprise. The combination of flavors complimented the pork very well.

Cheddar mashed potatoes are a simple side for the pork, but the flavor of the sharp cheddar brings a great flavor to the potatoes and compliment the pork.

The 'moose' is just that. It was created by the chef at the inn because moose regularly visit the yard outside the inn. Simple ingredients: egg white, maple syrup and heavy cream. The mixture is frozen and served with toasted walnuts and a sprig of mint. Very sweet, so a small portion goes a long way; but a nice ending to this meal.

Vermont is a special place and one I enjoy visiting. The foods and pace of life are relaxing and a step back in time. I hope you try these recipes. Next week? Lidia Bastianich and her wonderful Italian cooking.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

More Fast Food My Way

Last week in their Kohler presentation, Jacques and Claudine prepared 4 dishes from his book "More Fast Food My Way" Although this was not a quite a 30 minute meal, it is close.

Smoked Salmon Pizza
Crusty Chicken Thighs with Mushroom Sauce
Spinach with Macademia Nuts and Craisins
Skillet Apple Charlotte

The pizza is a elegant looking appetizer. The store had an Indian Naan which I crisped in the oven. It is then spread with a mixture of sour cream and horseradish. Thinly sliced smoked salmon and red onion are put on top. Garnish with parsley leaves. I really liked this and will prepare it again.

Chicken thighs are a good choice for this dish. They remain moist as they cook. A cut down each side of the bone and the flesh opened up allows the thickest part of the thigh to cook evenly and quickly. The thighs are put skin side down in a very hot pan until the skin is very crispy and brown. The heat is lowered and the pan is covered until the thighs are done, about 15 minutes. Remove the thighs and keep warm. Onions, garlic and sliced baby bellas are cooked in a small amount of the fat from the chicken. Some white wine is added and reduced. Usually when I cook poultry I remove the skin after cooking, but since the fat has cooked off, the remaining skin is more of a crust. The color of the chicken is lovely when served over the mushroom sauce. The dish cooks quickly and I would think using a duck breast instead of the thighs might be an interesting option. Lots of flavor!

The Macademias are cut in half and browned in a bit of oil. The spinach is added and cooks down very quickly. The craisins add a bit of color and a tang. The original recipe called for raisins which are not a favorite. I think the craisins are a better choice.

I have never prepared a Charlotte. The recipes I have seen required a special dish and is a bit tedious. This is prepared in a single small skillet and finished in the oven. When inverted on a serving plate it is glazed with peach jam. Very nice and not too sweet or heavy.

This was a very nice meal and none of the recipes was a disappointment. A good possibility for a week night supper.

Next week?.... I have no idea at the moment.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Kohler Food & Wine Experience

This event in Kohler, Wisconsin has become a favorite. The venue is exceptional at The American Club Resort and The Shops at Woodlake. Both are alive with tastings and demonstrations from renowned chefs and purveyors of cheese, wine, beer, sauces and all manner of food items. I had a ticket to see Jacques Pepin and his daughter Claudine. Charming doesn't begin to describe the two of them. They greeted us as we filed into the Stella Artois Main Stage tent. They graciously posed for pictures and after their presentation, signed cookbooks for everyone who wanted. Next week I will revisit the 4 dishes they presented for us, but more about that later. We were served samples of the foods demonstrated and also a lovely French red wine from Little James' Basket Press. The Gourmet Marketplace was in The Grand Hall of The American Club. The many vendors brought products for sale and sampling. I had not had Kobe beef or foie gras before. Both were interesting and I enjoyed them, but I don't see what the fuss is about. One of my purchases was from Oro di Olivia. A lovely bottle of cinnamon pear balsamic and another of walnut oil. I used these two this week in my food which follows:

Penne-Wise Pumpkin Pasta (Rachael Ray)
Mixed Winter Greens with a Cinnamon Pear Balsamic and Walnut Oil Dressing

I used a whole wheat penne pasta cooked in salted water and drained. The sauce is onion and garlic sauted in olive oil. Chicken stock is added along with canned pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and a few dashes of hot sauce. When heated through a bit of cream is stirred in before returning the pasta to the sauce. Sage leaves are sliced thin and added (reserving some for garnish) It is served with the reserved sage leaves and a few pinches of Parmesan cheese. A nice dish in a hurry and can be reheated easily.

The salad was a simple mix of greens (romaine, arugula and spinach) 2 tablespoons of walnut oil and 1 tablespoon of the balsamic are tossed with the greens. I would think perhaps sliced pears or apples would be a nice touch as would some roasted nuts.

I was happy with both the pasta and the salad. My weekend was very busy and these were quickly prepared and were very tasty.

As I mentioned, next week I will recreate the 4 dishes Jacques and Claudine prepared for us. Join me won't you?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

My New Toy!

Several years ago my slow cooker died. I had not thought to replace it since I have limited space. A month or so ago I came across a combination slow cooker and roaster. I thought it would be nice to roast things without having to turn on the oven, so I gave it a shot. This week went this way:

Mediterranean Roast Turkey Breast
Tomato and Mozzarella Tart
Pears Poached in Sangria with Toffee and Cream

Since the roaster is new, I didn't know quite what to expect. The turkey breast was roasted with kalamata olives, sun dried tomatoes, onion, Greek spices and broth. It came out very nicely. The Mediterranean ingredients flavored the meat and it is fall of the bone good. The roasting mixture made a nice sauce for the turkey. The skin didn't brown as I had hoped, but since I remove it anyway, it didn't matter much. Something I will need to work on as I use it for roasting. I expect to freeze some of the turkey to use later on in soup, etc.

The tomatoes were the last of the fresh from the farmers market. With the cheese, garlic and basil it made a nice side dish for the turkey.

The pears were a surprise. They were poached in Sangria with sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon. Then removed to cool while the syrup simmered and thickened. I expect a nice red wine would work well. The toffee was very easy, something I had never made. Butter and brown sugar cooked until it came together. A drop went into a glass of water. It became hard so the liquid is poured onto a baking sheet. Dark chocolate chips are sprinked on top to melt and then spread over the surface. The mixtue is refrigerated until it hardens. Sangria syrup is spooned into the bottom of a dish. The pears are layed on top. More syrup is drizzled over the pears, then the shards of toffee and a dollop of whipped cream Very nice, not over sweet or filling.

Some good things this week and for the most part I was happy with the results. Next week is a busy one, but I plan to do a fall pasta dish for the when I am at home. Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Rachael, the Over Achieving Chef!

Is there anyone who does not know Rachael Ray? She has 4 shows on the Food Network and an Emmy winning network daytime talk show. I have chosen from '30 Minute Meals' for this menu as it is the only program on which she really cooks. '$40 Dollars a Day', 'Tasty Travels', and 'Rachael's Vacation' spotlight her interest in travel as well as the challenge of finding out of the way places to enjoy local cuisine. EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), and GB (garbage bowl) are 2 of the phrases she has coined. My favorite is STOUP. A dish that is not a soup or a stew, but something in between.

Chicken Cacciatore Stoup
Crusty Garlic Bread
Super Stuffed Baked Apples a la Mode

The stoup has all the ingredients of a chicken cacciatore entree. The hardest part of the dish is the chopping. The ingredients go together quickly and truly is finished in 30 minutes. As with most recipes of this kind it is better the second day after having been refrigerated overnight. It was good on Saturday and even better on Sunday. The chicken has a good texture, the vegetables retain their texture and the broth ingredients a perfect vehicle for both. The tomato product is fire roasted diced tomatoes and with the pinch of red pepper flakes there is a nice bite. Shards of Parmigiano-Reggiano and the toasted bread made for a filling tasty meal.

The bread was a petite loaf of crusty wheat bread, sliced, drizzled with EVOO and toasted. I rubbed the surface with a garlic clove after toasting. Great for sopping up the broth.

I don't think I have had a baked apple since I was in elementary school. I've no idea why not. It is apple season and the dish is easy to put together. I'm not a fan of raisins so I substituted dried cranberries. It proved to be a good choice. The rest of the filling was oatmeal, brown sugar, butter, spices and chopped nuts. After baking, it is served warm with a scoop of Dulce de Leche ice cream and a bit of whipped cream. A great ending to the meal.

I will have stoup a couple of days this week, but I look forward to it. This menu was a good choice for this weekend. It gave me the time to do the other projects I had to do.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Danny to the 'Rescue'

Fall is the time of year I begin to think about comfort food. Soups, stews and one pot meals. Meals that cook for longer periods of time and fill the house with lovely smells. Over the years I have tried to prepare short ribs, with no success. They always came out tough, greasy and tastless. In the past several weeks a number of the chefs on Food Network have prepared them in many ways. When Danny Boome, The Rescue Chef, helped a young woman recreate the short rib meal that was served at her wedding, his technique and side dishes caught my attention. So this weekend I prepared his meal:

Short Ribs Bourguigonne
Dijon Mashed Potatoes
Baked Figs with Chopped Pistachios in Mascarpone

The short ribs were dredged in a seasoned flour, browned in a dutch oven, removed and set aside. Then the vegetables were browned in the pot in bacon drippings. Red wine and beef stock were added and simmered for about 10 minutes to further soften the vegetables. The ribs are returned to the pot, covered and finished in the oven. Something I had not done before. I had cooked mine on top of the stove. They took about 3 hours. The aroma is mouthwatering. The meat was fall off the bone tender and the wine vegetable gravy perfect.

Dijon mashed potatoes were an interesting change of pace. The yukon golds are cooked and mashed with butter, milk, a pinch of nutmeg and a tablespoon of Dijon mustard. These were perfect with the gravy from the meat. All in all a great dish that I will prepare again.

The dessert brought 2 ingredients I have had little to no experience using. Fresh figs and mascaropne. Finding fresh figs proved to be a challenge. Finally at Caputo's Market I found a basket of them. The figs are roasted in the oven and served warm with mascarpone which has been slightly sweetened with a bit of honey. The mascarpone gently melts over the warm figs. The dessert is topped with chopped pistachios, sprinkled lightly with cinnamon and finished with grated dark chocolate. I enjoyed the dish very much and it's pretty to look at.

All in all, this weeks project was a good one and one I expect to repeat over the cold months ahead.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Nip in the air menu!

OMG this menu was the best so far!! Also one of the easiest!! A grand slam home run, a touch down, a hole in one. a goal....etc. If every one from now on is as good as this, we will all be in great food shape. There is a nip in the air, color in the leaves and geese on the lake ready to make their escape. That is where these recipes evolved. It is from Ina Garten's "Barefoot Contessa, Back to Basics" The menu today is:

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrtette
Easy Fish Fillet Meuniere
French Apple Tart

The salad is incredible, maple roasted squash, dried cranberries, arugula, toasted walnuts and cider vinegratte with Parmesan cheese. Served warm and is wonderful.. Will use it again. Other nuts and cheese can be subtituted. A gorgeous salad!

The fish dish is also flexible I use tilipia though sole is given. Cooked briefly in browned butter and lemon, the fish and sauce is flakey and execllent.

The tart is fun and easy using seasonal apples (Granny Smith) I cheated and used frozen puffed pastry. The glaze is jam and rum or Calvados.

The menu today is excellent. Next week will approach some of the fall comfort foods.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cooking from the Low Country

An interesting week....a bit of overachieving. I used 2 books for the menu "Hoppin' John's Lowcountry Cooking' and 'Cooking from the Lowcountry from The Old Post Office Restaurant' Low Country is a term that refers to the coastal plains and sea islands of South Carolina and Georgia. The cuisine has roots in Western and Central Africa culture knows as Gullah. Gullah culture is known for storytelling, music, quilt making and sweet grass basket making.

Firefly Sweet Tea
Benne Crackers
Pimento Cheese Spread

Shrimp & Cheese Grits
Okra and Tomato Skillet
Sweet Potato Biscuits
Bourbon Balls

Sweet tea is a favorite in the south. Firefly Sweet Tea has the addition of vodka. I mixed it half and half with lite lemonade. A sort of Arnold Palmer taken up a notch. A refreshing drink with the crackers (Benne's are toasted sesame seeds and are thought to bring good luck) and pimento cheese (not the pale stuff you see in a jar in the dairy case) The cheese is another southern favorite and served alone or on hot dogs and burgers. I was very happy with all of these.

The Shrimp and Grits was an excellent choice and I had a lot of great dishes to choose from. The addition of sharp cheddar gave the grits a rich flavor. I used half cheddar and half the pimento cheese in the mixture. The grilled shrimp look great on top of the pale yellow grits.

The Tomato and Okra dish was not my favorite, but I have never liked okra... The seasonings were a bit sharp, but it is a pretty dish. The sweet potato bicuits were a nice surprise. The bits of potato gave the lightly browned biscuit some extra color.

I finished dinner (a couple of hours later) with a cup of tea and Bourbon Balls. A no bake cookie. The ingredients go in a food processor, rolled into balls and rolled in powdered sugar. Pretty strong cookies, but a simple end to a rich meal.

This was an educational week. I learned about the culture and history of the Low Country. Next week? Don't know. Stop by and take a look!

Monday, September 14, 2009

2 from Giada's Kitchen

Giada de Laurentis is one of my favorites on Food Network. Her recipes are easy and I have not tried any I didn't like. This week I made:

Asparagus and Zucchini Crudi
Pork Chops with Sweet Onion Marmellata

For those of you who don't speak Italian (And I am one of them) 'crudi' means raw. I did blanch the asparagus however, don't care for it raw. This was easy to put together and is very tasty. The vegetables are tossed with a lemon dressing and topped with slivers of Pecorino Romano. Will do this again.

The chops are 'marinated' with thyme, rosemary and garlic for 30 minutes before grilling. The herb theme continues in the sauting of the onions and at the end orange marmalade is stirred in. Excellent addition to the onions. I am looking forward to the leftovers!

Dessert was another look at last weeks 'sauce' I grilled a nectarine and basted it with the lime/butter/brown sugar mix. Liked this better than the baked bananas.

Also did a snack for the Bears game (Turned out much better than the game) Roasted drained garbanzo beans with EVOO and some spices. Yummy! Went well with my favorite drink these days...Arnold Palmer's. Lemonade and iced tea.

Until next week, bye for now! Happy Cooking!

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Meal Worthy of a 'Silver Palate'

In the early 1980's Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso co-authored and published "The Silver Palate Cookbook" They introduced home cooks to sun dried tomatoes and goat cheese, now considered staples. Sheila took on the challenge of Chef of a Shoestring on the CBS morning news. She passed away this last week of brain cancer. I have prepared one of her 3 course meals for 4 for $40 for my entry this week. The menu is:

Roasted Beet and Walnut Salad
Chicken Marbella with Orange Scented Couscous
Lime Baked Bananas

First the salad, I know you're saying beets again?? Well this is a very different presentation and a winner in my book. Beets are roasted, cubed and marinated in a Dijon mustard vinaigrette. Served on a endive leaf with blue cheese and toasted walnuts. Endive is a perfect vehicle for serving bite sized servings of various fillings. One of my other favorites is a BLT salad on the leaves.

Second is the chicken. It was a standard dinner party favorite when introduced in the 1980's. The chicken is marinated overnight in an unusual variety of ingredients: prunes, green olives and capers in a garlic dressing. The chicken is roasted with a sprinkling of brown sugar, the marinade and white wine. The chicken is moist and tender, but the marinade ingredients sort of disappear... It is served over orange couscous. I found Israeli Couscous at Trader Joes and it was perfect. The consistency is that of tapioca and perfect for the chicken and juices. I would likely do the recipe again, but perhaps make some marinade changes.

Last was the dessert: Lime baked bananas. The idea of baking bananas is foreign to me, but I bought bananas that were just slightly ripe. They are basted with lime juice, butter and brown sugar. An interesting combo which I think would be better served with a stone fruit (peach, nectarine, or plum) The sauce is lovely. It is served with vanilla or coconut ice cream. The ice cream isle is not one I spend much time in and after 3 passes I decided coconut was not a common one. Instead I purchased 2 tiny containers of vanilla bean which I softened, stirred in a couple of drops of coconut flavoring and some toasted coconut. Quite nice and would use it again.

All in all I think this was as successful menu. I have the yearning to spend a couple of days over my birthday in November at Wickwood Inn in Saugatuck Michigan, owned by Julee Rosso and Bill Miller.

What will next week bring?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A slight change in plans

I had originally planned to do 'indoor grilling' for the Labor Day Weekend. However, the culinary world lost a special person this week so I am rethinking the menu.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Food Report/Week 1

Well here we are....week 1 of my adventure. Each week I will prepare 3 recipes from one of my cookbooks and report on the results (good or bad) here. If any recipe sounds like something you might want, let me know and I will pass it on. This week I made 3 recipes from 'The Food You Crave' by Ellie Krieger. Ellie is a nutritionist and has a show on the Food Network. Her recipes focus on health as well as taste. That's debatable!?

The first one is: Beet Salad with Watercress Drizzle
The beets are cut in medium cubes,(wear rubber gloves unless you want to look like an ax murder) cooked until just soft and placed on a bed of greens. The dressing is made of watercress, goat cheese, buttermilk, vinegar and salt and pepper. This is processed in a blender until light green. Drizzled over the beets and topped with lightly toasted almonds.
I love beets so this was a good choice. However, the drizzle left me a little flat. I like goat cheese and this was a waste of it's unique flavor. I expect I will doctor the leftover dressing (perhaps some salsa?) and use is as a dipping sauce for raw vegetables perhaps?

The second recipe is: Poached Salmon with Lemon-Mint Tzatziki
No more poaching for me!! My beautiful piece of salmon looked pretty sad after only 5 minutes in the simmering poaching liquid. The rich salmon flavor was pretty much gone. A terrible waste of salmon and the white wine in the poaching liquid. However, covered with the Tzatziki sauce is was OK. I like Tzatziki sauce and the mint added a nice fresh flavor. I used leftover salmon and the sauce in pita for lunch today. Better than the original dish. I will prepare it again but will grill or roast the fish

The third recipe was a big hit: Peaches with Balsamic Cherries
Very simple and very good. Bing cherries simmered in one tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. When they are softened sliced peaches are folded in and cooked just until heated through. The recipe called for adding sugar, but both the cherries and peaches are in season and were plenty sweet. I could see this served over ice cream or pound cake....or both.

Guess that does it for this week. Since next weekend is Labor day, I will have 3 days to fill. Wonder what I will do? Stay tuned!!