Sunday, June 27, 2010

Taking a Break

I will be taking a hiatus for a bit. I have some issues that need my undivided attention. So Bye for Now but I will be back.....

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Treasures from the Gulf

This week has been odd in that the power was out for almost 48 hours this weekend. Needless to say, that did put a damper on my food plans. I usually spread out the food and cooking over two days, Saturday and Sunday. However, since only Sunday was available, I split up the menu and will prepare the rest next week. My plans were to use some of the wonderful seafood from the Gulf. Most of it is still readily available and safe to eat. This week I prepared:

Ginger-Soy-Lime Marinated Gulf Shrimp
Crayfish Stuffed Tomatoes
Strawberry Beignets

Whole Foods had Gulf shrimp that were very fresh and very large. A marinade of shallots, fresh ginger, garlic, soy sauce, lime juice, sugar, green onions, black pepper and EVOO is blended and the shrimp marinated for 25 minutes. Then they are grilled for about 3 minutes per side until pink and cooked through. The marinade was great on the shrimp and I expect would pair well with other seafood. Shrimp could be eaten hot or cold. Messy but good!

I really enjoyed the stuffed tomatoes. A mixture of cooked crayfish, basil, a bit of mayo, Dijon mustard, lemon juice and Creole seasonings is placed in a hollowed out tomato, chilled and eaten on a lettuce leaf. I could have eaten the filling alone in a bowl with a spoon. Yum!

The Beignets were an interesting challenge. If you've been to New Orleans and had them at Cafe DuMonde with coffee/chicory au lait, you know how light and lovely they are. I can't imagine how they make them all so uniform, like small pillows with powder sugar sprinkled over them. Mine looked like mutant amoebas I remember from sophomore biology class. They were tasty however and I found a strawberry dipping sauce that went well.

Although abbreviated, this week was successful and hopefully the entree and salad will be the same next week. Enjoy the week and happy eating.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Born Family Reunion

My family has had a reunion every (well almost every) June for many years. The original Born's were three sisters and one brother and their spouses. This year 2010 we only have two sisters left. One sister (my Mom) and her brother and their spouses are gone as are the spouses of the surviving sisters. Both remaining sisters are in their 90's and very spry. This year we met at Towering Pines in a forest preserve. It has been several years since I have been able to attend and the changes in the family are dramatic. Cousins and their families have grown beyond my wildest thoughts. I felt almost like a stranger, but it didn't take long to identify who went with whom. Everyone brings a dish to share and whatever entree they want for themselves. I should have remembered that an entree was not necessary given the spread on the serving table.

My dish to share was one I found in a Weight Watchers hand out. My entree was special for me.

Strawberry-Quinoa Salad
Greek Isle Chicken

The salad is very pretty and quite simple. The Quinoa is cooked and cooled. Sliced strawberries and thinly sliced English cucumber are tossed with it. A sesame-ginger dressing is mixed in. The mixture is served over baby greens which have been lightly dressed with the same dressing. It was very well received. I was surprised now many knew the grain. Not much left, but will have some for lunch this week.

The chicken is also very simple. A boneless skinless breast is sprinkled with Greek seasoning, browned in EVOO and removed while the sauce is cooked. A mixture of garlic, sliced grape tomatoes, oregano and pitted green olives makes up the sauce. After it is gently cooked the chicken is placed on top and finished off in the oven.

I will enjoy this too the rest of the week. All in all a nice week end. It was good to see family I have not seen in a long time and catch up with family news.

After hearing and reading about the oil spill in the Gulf, I have decided to do a menu featuring Gulf seafood for next week. One of my favorite chefs, John Besh has done a lovely cookbook "My New Orleans" I expect some of what I do will come from this book.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

More from Vermont

I have a couple more dishes to try from last week using the cheddar cheese. This menu is a bit of a mish mash and contained my first real disaster.

Twice-Baked Cheddar Cheese Souffles
Grilled Romaine with Lemon Oil, Oranges and Shallots


Seared Duck Breast with Ginger-Rhubarb Sauce
Cheddar-Pecan Green Bean Casserole

I have not made a souffle in years. This recipe was a bit unusual in that they are in individual ramekins and twice baked. The ramekins are buttered and dusted with a mixture of Panko bread crumbs and ground hazelnuts. The souffle was pretty standard using eggs, separated and folded with the cheddar cheese. After the initial baking, they are turned out of the dishes on to a baking sheet. More cheese is placed on top and baked an additional 8 minutes. These were wonderful. The double baking gave them a nice crust on the outside and a soft cheesy center. Served with the grilled romaine salad with oranges, shallots and an orange-lemon oil dressing made for a nice light meal. The romaine softens when grilled but retains crunch.

Duck is a favorite of mine, but a whole duck is a lot to deal with. I found 2 very nice duck breasts. The breasts are seared in a hot pan skin side down. Much of the fat renders off and is removed. The breasts are seasoned, turned and finished meat side down. The cooked duck is sliced on the diagonal for serving. The sauce was a reduction of red wine, ginger, rhubarb, shallots and star anise. The reduction is served over the duck and is a very nice paring. The sauce is a bit tart and cuts the sometimes greasiness of the duck.

The casserole was awful. I can't explain what was wrong, but the beans were undercooked and the sauce was soupy. A terrible waste of lovely green beans and the cheese. Most of it went in the garbage.

My family reunion is next week so my food to go is still a work in progress. Hope the weather holds as I have not seen most of the family in a while.