Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Another Trip Down Memory Lane

I follow a number of food blogs (no surprise there). One of my Favorites is Octoberfarm. It not only is great to look at, but has great food and gardening ideas. A few weeks back she did a piece on City Chicken. When I was growing up, my Mom made these and they were called Mock Chicken Legs. According to the blog, chicken was quite expensive and this was a substitute.  The meat is pork and veal because they were cheap?  I can't imagine veal ever being cheap.  I also had a difficult time finding some. Apparently it is not very popular. The first two pieces I found had to be returned because they were 'bad'. It took a lot of Fresh Wave to get the smell out of my house. Finally I found two suitable veal chops.  I cut the pork tenderloin and veal chops into cubes and placed them on skewers.  They are then dusted with flour, dipped in beaten egg and coated with cracker meal.  They are browned in a heavy pot; then chicken stock is poured about half way up them and finished off in the oven. It brought back lots of memories for not only myself, but a number of my FB friends.

The 'legs' were served with Creamy Spring Peas with Pancetta.  Sugar snap peas, snow peas and small English peas are blanched and set aside. The pancetta is browned and removed to a paper towel. Flour is added to the drippings along with chicken broth and heavy cream.  When thickened, the peas are added back to the pan along with lemon juice S&P.  The dish is served with the crumbled pancetta.  I did  not care for the sauce at all. Next time I will blanch the peas and dress with an EVOO-lemon juice vinaigrette and the pancetta or bacon. A lovely dish to use fresh spring peas in several forms.

I found some fresh rhubarb at the market and decided to use it in a dessert.  I found a simple recipe for sorbet.  The cubed rhubarb is simmered with sugar, water and orange juice until softened.  I cooled it a bit and put it in a blender until smooth.  It is put in the freezer until firm.  It will need to be thawed slightly to scoop it into balls for serving.  A sprig of mint is added for color. I expect this recipe would work for a number of fresh fruits and will try it again when peaches are in season.

Except for the sauce on the peas, this was an excellent dinner. I have begun looking into some new and different foods for Cinco de Mayo.  Stop by next week to see what I come up with.

Stay safe and dry through the spring storms we all seem to be experiencing.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Seafood and Sides

We are almost to the end of the Lenten season.  Meals during Lent. for me tend to include a lot more fish.  Recently we celebrated the opening of trout season here in the mountains. People from everywhere come to line the banks of the streams and rivers to catch this lovely fish.  Trout is a particular favorite of mine, simply prepared with some interesting side dishes.  The trout (head off, because it won't fit in my cast iron skillet) is dusted with equal parts flour and corn meal and fried in a hot pan with a bit of melted butter.  About 3 minutes on each side and it is cooked through with a nice crispy skin.  The same technique is used for a salmon fillet. The only difference is that it is only fried on the skin side. It is finished in the oven after having turned it over.  Just a few minutes will do it.

I tried a number of new sides to have with the fish.  With the trout a dish of Morel mushrooms and asparagus was very successful.  Morels are an interesting mushroom.  The fresh variety have a very short 'season'  and are very expensive. Even finding them is a challenge.  I remember buying a very small box of them on a visit to Door County.  Before I got them home they had molded.  So when I can find them dried and on sale, I stock up. I bought 12 containers from Illinois to the mountains.  This dish was simple to prepare.  The dried Morels are brought back to life by soaking them in a mixture of chicken broth and white wine. They are drained, chopped and sauteed in butter with shallots. The soaking liquid is added and reduced.  Blanched asparagus is added to the mushrooms along with Greek Yogurt, S&P to taste.. Heat through and serve with the trout and some lemon wedges.

The salmon was served on a bed of fennel-radish slaw (a new favorite) Thinly slice a fennel bulb and toss with thinly sliced red onion, radishes and cucumber. Dress with EVOO, chopped dill an lemon juice. The slaw cuts the richness of the fish nicely.

Another side was baked Parmesan mushrooms.  I used a class pie plate lightly oiled.  Thick slices of Baby Bella mushrooms are layered in the pan.  Top with the zest and juice of one lemon, chopped garlic, dried thyme, S&P.  Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and toss.  Bake for about 15 minutes until the mushrooms are softened and the dish is lightly browned.

I was happy with all the sides and the fish. The strange weather has slowed the availability of spring vegetables and fruits at the farmers markets.  Hopefully in the next weeks that will change. I will be away for Easter weekend with family. We shall see what food adventures await!

Have a blessed holiday and will see you back in a couple of weeks.