Sunday, September 26, 2010

A nip in the air....

This weekend it finally felt like autumn had arrived. Cool Temperatures and some color change in the trees. The lake is covered with Canada Geese on their way south for the winter. It brought to mind warm comfort food. I have wanted to look into pasta sauces and not use the over salted sauces in jars. This week I played with a red sauce with meat.

Pasta sauce two ways
Zucchini Fritters
Mascarpone Polenta

Recently I read a book "The School of Essential Ingredients" It's a story of 8 people taking cooking classes in a restaurant. Each chapter focuses on one of the characters and the recipe they learn. Tom did a pasta sauce that worked for me. The sauce begins with sauteing onion and garlic in oil and chicken broth. The meat mix I used was 1/3 pound each ground chuck, pork and lamb. Once the meat is browned milk is added and cooked until absorbed into the meat. Next comes red wine, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce and seasonings. The sauce simmers for 2 hours and then tossed with penne pasta and Parmesan. An excellent and easy meat sauce. I expect it will be repeated in a number recipes over the winter. In a couple of weeks I plan to work on a meatless sauce.

I used the meat sauce over the polenta and it too was very successful. The polenta is corn meal cooked into a boiling mixture of water, milk and EVOO. As it thickens pepper, heavy cream and mascarpone are added. When it thickens finely chopped rosemary is added. Have not made polenta with mascarpone, but will again. The cheese gives the polenta a nice smooth texture.

The unexpected star of the weekend was the zucchini fritters. I had the reminder of a large zucchini that I wanted to use. Grated with the liquid squeezed out the zucchini is mixed with mint, dill, green onion, garlic, black pepper and feta cheese. An egg and a bit of flour are added. The batter is sauteed in a bit of oil until browned on both sides. Drain on paper towels and served with Tzatziki sauce from last week (it keeps well in the refrigerator). I can guarantee that with the garlic in the fritters and the Tzatziki, there will be no vampires in your house!!

Next week is Apple Fest in Long Grove so I plan on apple recipes for the weekend. Have a couple in mind. Until then, have a great week!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Surf and Turf at Marilyn's Table

Surf and Turf has become an restaurant staple. However, the surf and turf's change depending where you are. I think mine is pretty unusual. Here goes!!

Grilled Grouper
Marinated Lamb Shoulder Chops with Tzatziki
Arugula, Orange and Feta Salad
Stewed Chick Peas with Tomatoes and Zucchini
Strawberries in warm caramel with salted nuts

First of all I did not prepare this all at one meal. I fixed the grouper on Saturday and the lamb on Sunday. The remaining dishes were spread out over the two days.

First, Saturday: the Grouper. I love this fish, but is is not always available. When I saw that Fresh Market had it, I could not wait to pick it up. It was unusually good looking (I have another piece in the freezer for later) The preparation is south Louisiana, with Emeril's Essence. Melted butter, garlic, Parmesan and Emeril's Essence are brushed over the grouper on a hot grill pan. Cooking time is roughly 15 minutes. At the last minute sprinkle with fresh herbs, tarragon, thyme, and basil.

Next is Sunday. The lamb chop is marinated overnight in lemon, oregano, dill, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and EVOO. Grill for 2 - 3 minutes per side.

As good as the two entrees are, the sides are very special. Tzatziki is favorite of mine; not only on lamb, but on vegetables and in sandwiches:

English cucumber, coarsely grated, Greek yogurt, garlic, white wine vinegar, dill and mint. A pinch of Kosher salt completes the sauce. Chill overnight in the refrigerator.

The Chick pea stew is excellent. Drained chick pea are cooked with cumin, fennel, crushed red pepper tomatoes and zucchini. Definitely something to be repeated.

The salad of Arugula, baby spinach, orange segments and dressing was a great accompaniment to both the fish and the lamb. Dressing of Dijon mustard, orange juice, white wine vinegar, EVOO and salt and pepper.

I'm not big on dessert, but the strawberries looked sooo good. Dipped in warm caramel and rolled in chopped salted nuts...YUM!

The end of October I will be going to Kohler Wisconsin for the Food Wine show. Chef Anne Burrell from the Food Network will do a demonstration. The Lamb, Chick Pea Salad and Tzatziki recipes are hers. I look forward to seeing what she brings to her table. Never trust a skinny cook especially with great hair!

Have a great week and will see what I come with up next week.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Lazy Labor Day

Today will be a lazy one for me. I have cooked for the last two days and will enjoy leftovers today. Over the last few years I have watched several television chefs prepare pulled pork. There are several ways to prepare it; slow roasted or slow cooked in a crock pot. I chose the slow roasting method. Here is what is on my table:

Pulled Pork
Eastern and Western Carolina Sauces
Butternut Squash Slider Biscuits
Broccoli Cole Slaw
Butternut Squash Cole Slaw with Honey Goat Cheese Dressing

The pork shoulder was about 4 pounds. It is rubbed with a mixture of chili powder, cumin, light brown sugar, onion powder and cayenne pepper. Then wrapped in plastic and refrigerated overnight. Oven temperature is 275 degrees and the meat is placed on a rack and roasted for about 6 hours. The outside forms a very nice crust and the meat is easily pulled apart with 2 forks.

There are three Carolina barbecue sauces; all vinegar based. I prepared 2 of them. The Eastern Carolina sauce uses juices from the pork, white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, dark brown sugar, sweet smoked paprika, a few dashes of hot sauce, salt and pepper. The Western Carolina sauce adds organic ketchup to the basic vinegar ingredients. Another variation uses prepared mustard in place of the ketchup.

The slider biscuits are a basic buttermilk biscuit with cinnamon and cooked butternut squash added. The size of the biscuit was a perfect way to try the two sauces over the shredded meat and slaw.

The broccoli slaw is very simple and very tasty. Put a bag of broccoli slaw in a large bowl. Crush a package of Ramen Noodles (Oriental variety) and saute the noodles in a skillet with butter and slivered almonds. The dressing is canola oil, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar and the seasoning packet from the noodles. Toss the sauteed noodles, dressing and broccoli slaw together. Serve with chopped green onions on top. This went very well with the pork and sauce on the biscuit.

The butternut squash slaw was new for me. Butternut squash is a favorite of mine, but I have never eaten it raw. Peeled the neck (I used the bottom cooked in the biscuits) and cut it in strips using a mandoline. The dressing is goat cheese, honey, EVOO, apple cider vinegar and lemon juice. A little salt and pepper and then tossed with the squash. Stir in dried cranberries and toasted walnuts. This slaw was better as a side rather than on the sandwich.

All in all a great table with leftovers for today and some dinners this week. For today it is book time. Later on a movie and a visit to the book store. A very labor less day for me.

Until next time, Bon Appetite or Happy Cooking or whatever works for you.