Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanksgiving Week at the Table

It's hard to believe Thanksgiving is this week. A three day work week means lots to get done so I can leave early on Thursday for dinner with the Wisconsin Family. I thought that because I have lots to do, I would prepare a table that would lend to reheating during the week. Here is the table:

Caesar Salad on Flatbread
Tamale Pie
Lemon pudding in Puff Pastry Shell

I've said before I'm not much into baking, but the recipe for the flat bread sounded simple enough. Flour, salt, a bit of oil and water in the processor until the dough starts to come away from the sides. Form into a ball and roll out on a lightly floured surface. It is a free from shape, good thing because is certainly was oddly shaped. Lay it on a baking sheet and lightly brush with EVOO. It baked up nicely and was very crispy. The salad was chopped romaine lettuce dressed with EVOO, lemon juice, a bit of mayo and seasonings. Tossed with the salad is grated Parmesan cheese. The salad is spread on the flatbread which is still warm. I really liked this; a different and unusual way to have salad and 'bread'. I see this with chili, stew and lots of soups.

The tamale pie is a simple one dish preparation. In a large skillet ground turkey is browned and mixed with pinto beans, sliced black olives, chopped green chilies, chili powder and a jar of salsa. While this heats through corn meal and more chili powder is cooked with water until thickened. It is spooned over the meat mixture and topped with shredded cheddar cheese. The dish is heated in the oven until cheese melts. The recipe says it reheats in a microwave...we shall see as it will be dinner most nights this week.

I have not used puff pastry in years, but this sounded easy and looked very pretty in the cookbook. The shells are baked until puffed and browned. The lemon curd is cooked atop the stove until thickened. The whites that are not used in the curd are whipped with a bit of sugar and lemon zest is folded in. The meringue is spread on top of the curd filled shell and put back into the oven to brown. A very pretty presentation and quite simple. I love lemon curd...not too sweet!

My offering at the table on Thursday are 2 appetizers and.....GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE. I love the stuff. It would not be a holiday with out it.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving to all my FB friends. I expect next week will be a lower calorie table.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Blast from the Past

This week has had several days of R & R in Galena Illinois, one of my favorite places. Thank you to Fran and Brian at Aldrich Guest House for your hospitality and great company. I will be back. Dinner out is always a delight and I will recreate my dinner at Fried Green Tomatoes at a later date.

I think one of my first restaurant orders as a young adult was trout almondine and it was part of my table this week:

Trout Almondine
Corn and Couscous Salad
Black Forest Brownie Pecan Tart

Whole Foods had very nice looking trout this week and preparing it lightly cooked in butter and oil. A toasted almond topping with orange zest was a good addition. Love trout.

The salad was a new combination I found in a Martha Stewart cookbook. Not one of my favorites as her recipes tend to be a bit over the top. This was sauteed onion, diced jalapeno, garlic and corn. This mixed with couscous steamed in hot broth. Tossed with cilantro and seasoned. I really enjoyed this served at room temperature or hot.

I'm not much for desserts, but I do have some favorites. I love pecan pie and black forest cake. This dessert is a smaller combination of both. The pecan pie has melted chocolate added and baked in a graham cracker tart crust. A cherry pie filling is spooned over the top and a squirt of whipping cream makes it a festive dessert. Will keep this in mind for the future.

The soup for the week is Watercress-Cauliflower soup. Onion and cauliflower are simmered in broth with seasonings and watercress is stirred in at the end. When cooled slightly it is pureed in a blender. Served with chopped chives. Simple and quite good.

Next week is a puzzle and will be a surprise for us all. Stay Tuned!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Return of the Salmon

In 2008 when I began this project, my first table featured poached salmon. It was awful. A huge waste of a lovely piece of fish. I bought an equally nice piece of wild salmon and fixed it two ways on this weeks table. The results were far different from the last. Here is what was on my table.

Paper Wrapped Salmon
Potato-Gruyere Gratin

Grilled Salmon Gyros
Cucumber-Pomegranate Salad

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Cider Cream

Cooking fish of any kind in parchment paper is a favorite process of mine. The salmon is seasoned and covered with strips of Zucchini, yellow squash and black beans. A broth of white wine and soy sauce is drizzled over the vegetables and a pat of butter on top. The paper is folded tightly to form a packet. Baked on a cookie sheet for about 20 minutes. The packet is carefully opened and the fish is served in the paper. This was a recipe I will use again with perhaps some other fish. The salmon is a excellent choice.

The side for this was a gratin of thinly sliced, partially cooked cauliflower and potatoes. They are layered in a casserole with half of the grated Gruyere and milk is poured over. Top with the remaining cheese and bake about 30 minutes. Great taste, but rather bland looking. Perhaps some green herbs would have been a good choice.

The second half of the salmon is marinated with garlic, hot pepper flakes, EVOO, lemon zest and juice. It is then grilled and broken into smaller pieces. I don't care for pita bread as a receptacle for anything, so I used a warmed flour tortilla in it's place. A tomato onion salad and yogurt cucumber dill sauce is spooned over the salmon and rolled up. Excellent! I really like this concept and was pleased with how it turned out.

I made a salad to go with it. Thinly sliced cucumber, fennel and Granny Smith apple are dressed with a dressing of lemon juice, zest, EVOO and white wine vinegar and S&P. Fresh pomegranate seeds are sprinkled over the top. A good choice with the rolled gyro.

The soup this week is a puree of cooked butternut squash, leeks, carrots, celery and Granny smith apple. The broth is chicken with apple cider and herbs. A garnish of cider cooked down to thicken and then sour cream stirred in. A spoon over the soup is with some fried sage leaves.

All in all I was quite pleased with the table. It was a bit of a challenge because my disposal died on Saturday and there is about 3 inches of vegetable peelings and water in the sink. Cooking without the use of the sink is something I don't want to experience again. Hopefully it will be fixed by next week.