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.