Sunday, February 27, 2011

Carrot Sorbet with Candied Carrot Roses

My husband has been making different juices for us in the morning.  He’s made various combinations of fruits with carrots.  It got me thinking of other things to do with the juicer.  The thought of sorbet intrigued me, so I started playing around with the idea.  This uses carrots and apples, but I’m sure it would be equally as nice with other fruits such as pears, oranges, etc.  A little ginger is very nice with it, too.  When making the candied carrot roses, make sure to allow the carrot strips to cool a bit before handling or else you will burn your fingertips!

½ c sugar
½ c water
10 whole allspice berries

Mix the sugar, water, and allspice berries together in a small heavy bottom pan.  Gently simmer together for 5 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

1 ½ lb (approx) carrots – or enough to create 2 cups of carrot juice
2 Empire apples – or enough to make 1 cup of apple juice
1 tbs of the allspice simple syrup from above
2 tea lemon juice
Pinch of salt

Juice the carrots and apples with a juicer making 2 cups of fresh carrot juice and 1 cup of fresh apple juice.  You may substitute fresh carrot juice from the supermarket.  For the fresh apple juice, I would substitute ½ cup cider and ½ cup apple juice.

Mix the juices, simple syrup, lemon juice and salt in a medium bowl.  Follow the manufacturer’s directions for freezing the sorbet.  Once sufficiently frozen, spoon into a plastic container and place into the freezer.  Let sorbet rest in the freezer for one or two hours before serving.

In the mean time make the carrot roses using:

1 large carrot - peeled
Remaining simple syrup

Using a peeler, create long thin strips of carrot approx 1” wide and 4 or 5” long.  Reheat the simple syrup and simmer for several more minutes until thickened.  Gently place several pieces of carrot in the hot syrup, cook gently for a minute or so until softened flipping once.  Gently remove each strip to a sheet of non-stick aluminum foil or a silicone mat.  Once cool enough to handle, take one strip and roll the short side up creating the center of the rose bud.  Add several more pieces of carrot rolling around the center until you are happy with the bud.  Set aside on the foil and continue making rosebuds until you have a total of 4.

Serve the sorbet in individual glass dishes with one carrot rosebud and a few fresh bay leaves as garnish.

Serves 4.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tamale Cups

I just love tamales, but all the recipes I have for them have a ton of shortening, or better yet, lard in them.  Since I can't really eat that often in good conscience, I wracked my brains trying to find something healthier.  Here's what I finally tried...

Tamale Cups

For the shells:
3 c water
¼ tea salt
1 c corn grits (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
Or use your favorite grits and make 4 portions.

1 ½ c of your favorite chili - I used the Pork Chile Verde with Posole posted previously
Approx 2/3 c grated cheddar cheese (I used Cabot 50% Cheddar)

Follow the package cooking instructions to cook the grits, then cover and set aside to cool slightly.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly oil 2 muffin tins.  Spread the grits evenly in the muffin tins to create the crust, approx 1/3” thick along the sides and bottom of the cup.  Add chili in the center of each cup to fill even with the top of the crust.  Sprinkle with as much cheese as you like 1 tea to 1 tbsp for each cup.  Pop into the oven for 20 minutes or until nicely browned.  Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes.  If you don’t let them cool, you’ll never get them out of the cups.  After 10 minutes take a small sharp knife & run it around the edge of each cup to loosen.  Serve 1 or 2 per person with salsa & cervezas on the side.  Makes 11 or 12 cups.

Aren't they cute?  You could put just about anything in to fill these.  You could easily make them vegetarian by adding a bit of rice in the center, then topping with beans or refried beans & cheese.  Or sautéed peppers and onions.  How about mushrooms?  Pulled pork?  Well, that’s not vegetarian, is it? You get the idea…

Pork Chile Verde with Posole

This is one of my favorite chili recipes.  I've adapted it to use my favorite gadget, the pressure cooker.  If you are faint of heart, just cook everything longer on top of the stove, or toss it in the crock pot...  Add as many or few hot peppers as you like.  Enjoy!

Pork Chili Verde with Posole

1 lb tomatillos
2 ½ lb thick sirloin pork cutlets
1/2 tea salt
½ teaspoon ground pepper
3 or 4 tbs flour (for dredging)
3 or 4 tbs olive oil, for browning, may need more
1 lg sweet onion, chopped
2 Anaheims, chopped
3 Poblanos, chopped
2 Jalapeno, chopped
1 each green and red bell peppers, chopped
4 cloves garlic
3/4  c dried hominy, soaked overnight and drained, or 1 can hominy drained and rinsed
1 tea oregano
1 tbs ground cumin
1 tea salt, or to taste
1 ½ c chicken stock or water
3/4 c chopped cilantro

Put the hominy in a 6 qt pressure cooker with 6 cups of water and 1 tea salt.  Cover and bring to pressure.  Lower the heat to keep the pressure up and continue to cook for 20 minutes.   Let pressure release naturally.  Drain and set aside.  Or, just use a can of drained & rinsed hominy.  Add into the recipe later as indicated.

Turn on the broiler.  Set the tomatillos roasting pan sheet and place broiler.  Watch them carefully, once the tops are browned and charred, turn them and place back under the broiler.  Once the other side is browned, set them aside to cool.  Then chop the tomatillos coursely, reserving all the juices.

In a large shallow dish, mix the flour with ½ tea salt and a few grinds of pepper.  Dredge the cutlets in the flour, dusting off the excess.

Add the oil to a 6 qt pressure cooker.  Bring to medium and the pork and brown it on both sides.  At the same time toss in the whole garlic cloves and let them get light brown.  Remove the pork and browned garlic then set aside to cool.  Once cool enough to handle, cut the meat into chunks about 1” or so.

 Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pressure cooker then add the onion making sure to scrape up all the brown bits from the pork. Cook for several minutes until softened.  Add the chiles and bell peppers.  Continue cooking over medium heat for several more minutes.  Add the garlic and pork, stir.  Then stir in the hominy, cilantro, oregano, cumin, chicken stock or water, and the tomatillos and their juices.  Fasten the lid to the pressure cooker and bring to pressure.  Lower the heat to maintain the pressure and continue to cook for 30 minutes.  Let Turn off the heat and allow the pressure to naturally release.  Check the broth for seasoning add salt and pepper as needed.  Stir in the cilantro and simmer uncovered until the hominy is tender.  Taste for salt and pepper, adjusting as needed.

Serves 6 hungry people.  This is better if made in advance and reheated.  (These pictures show a double batch.)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

To Ghee or Not to Ghee

I know, I know, it's corny.  But here goes anyways.

So I volunteered to test a recipe for Food52, one of my favorite foodie sites.  I needed ghee.  Hmmm, I thought, why should I buy ghee when I have perfectly good local butter right in the fridge?  Shaw Farm, my local dairy, now makes their own butter, yum!  I had a general idea how to make ghee; it is basically a form of clarified butter.  Why would you want clarified butter?  Sometimes you want to cook with butter, but don’t want it to foam and turn brown.  This happens because there are still milk solids in the butter.  This process removes those solids and allows you to cook with butter at a higher heat.  Nice for browning meat, etc.

Melt the butter in a heavy bottom saucepan then bring to a simmer. 

Skim off the foaming milk solids. 

Once the remaining butter fat is clear, turn off the heat and let cool. 

Strain through a very fine sieve or several layers of cheese cloth.

 Store in a clean jar in the fridge.

Tah Dah!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Lenticchie in Vellutata con Crostini e Scarola

I made this last January and have been thinking that I should make it again this weekend.  It's a great cold weather dish.

Lenticchie in Vellutata con Crostine e Scarola

Pureed lentils with croutons and escarole
La Cucina Italiana Jan/Feb 2010

3 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
½ c finely chopped onion
1 c small lentils (any kind, actually, will work)
4 c vegetable broth (I used ½ chicken broth ½ water)
3.5 oz good quality baguette cut into 1 x 1.5” pieces
1 sm head escarole (about ½ lb) roughly chopped

• Heat oven to 325 deg
• In a medium saucepan, heat 1.5 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 min. Add lentils and stir to combine add 2.5 c broth and 1 c water, bring to a simmer, then reduce to a very gentle simmer and cook until the lentils are tender 35 – 40 min.
• Meanwhile, spread bread on a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until croutons are dry and lightly golden, 12 to 15 min. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
• In a large skillet, heat remaining 1.5 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add escarole and generous pinch salt; cook, stirring frequently, until wilted and tender, about 3 min.
• In a blender, carefully puree lentil mixture with remaining 1.5 c broth in batches. Return puree to pot and gently heat to warm through. Adjust seasoning. Add water to thin soup to your liking, if desired.
• Ladle soup into bowls, top with escarole and croutons, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with a little salt.

You can easily convert this to a porkatarian recipe by topping with fried diced bacon.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Skate Croquettes with Preserved Lemon Kalamata Relish

I already had the poached skate from testing the Pasta e Broccoli in Ray (Skate) Broth.   Dan recently made a batch of preserved lemons, too, so it seemed like a good match.
Skate Croquettes:
·                   4 red potato, peeled & diced
·                   1/2 cup sweet onion,finely diced
·                   1 teaspoon butter
·                   1 tablespoon olive oil
·                   1/3 cup parsley, chopped
·                   1 1/2 teaspoon preserved lemon, finely minced
·                   1/2 pound poached, flaked skate
·                   1 egg white
·                   1/4 cup breadcrumbs
·                   1/4 cup panko
·                   salt and pepper to taste
·                   olive oil for sauteeing

1.                Boil the potatoes in ample salted water until tender. Drain and mash roughly in a large bowl. Set aside to cool.
2.                In the meantime, cook the onion in the butter & olive oil over medium heat for several minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the parsley and continue to cook for another minute or two, stirring occasionally. Mix into the mashed potatoes.
3.                Once the mixture has cooled enough to handle, gently fold in the flaked skate, preserved lemon, and the egg white. Make a quenelle and gently sauté in a little olive oil. Taste and correct seasoning.
4.                Place breadcrumbs and panko in a large shallow bowl or plate. Season with salt and pepper. Gently form the cakes into uniform croquettes about 3” in diameter & 1/2” thick. Coat evenly with breadcrumbs. Can be made ahead to this point & refrigerated up to 1 day.
5.                In a large sauté pan, add several tablespoons olive oil, heat over medium flame. Once the pan is hot, gently add several cakes. Leave undisturbed to brown on one side, several minutes. Gently flip and brown the other side.
6.                Place cooked croquettes onto a heatproof dish & place in a low oven or warming drawer as you make several batches to avoid crowding the pan. Add more olive oil as needed to evenly brown the croquettes.

Preserved Lemon Kalamata Relish:
·                   1/2 cup parsley, chopped
·                   1/3 cup preserved lemon, finely minced
·                   1/2 cup green pepper, diced
·                   1 tablespoon chile such as cayenne minced, or to taste
·                   1/2 cup grape tomato, chopped
·                   1/2 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
·                   1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
·                   3/4 teaspoons zaatar, or to taste
·                   1 tablespoon lemon juice, or to taste
·                   1 tablespoon olive oil
·                   pepper, freshly ground

1.                Mix all together in a medium bowl. Set aside to blend flavors for about 1/2 hour.
2.                Line plates with mixed lettuce leaves, top with a spoonful of the relish and a croquette or two. Add a bit more relish on top or the side. Garnish with sliced lemon.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Cassoulet

I finally got around to making my second cassoulet.  The first used duck confit, but this time I decided on just pork. The recipe is loosely based on Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking volume 1

Meat and fixings to make the sausage.  Had to use a freshly picked bay leaf.

I've been wanting to use these Tepary beans from Rancho Gordo.  I quick soaked the beans then popped them into the pressure cooker with broth that I made from pork back bones and aromatic vegetables.

I made a double batch of the sausage so that I can make this again soon.  Freezing it in my handy dandy Food Saver.

The pork roast is my mother's recipe.  Liberally salt & pepper then lots of crushed garlic and caraway seeds. The drippings go into the cassoulet, too.

The Assembly

Once I had browned the sausages, I used the pan to brown 1/2 lb pearl onions.  Those got layered in along with the cooked meat picked off the bones from the stock.

In the oven with the parsley crumb topping

And the finished cassoulet ready for eating.  I should have chopped the parsley by hand instead of using the food processor.  This made the whole thing look very green.  Tasted marvelous, though!

A Ducky Weekend

A Ducky Weekend

I’m a little late, but I finally got my duck to do the Duck Prosciutto challenge for  Charcutepalooza.  I thought I’d get a whole duck since it was the same price as getting just the breast, plus it gave me more options.

Once I had the duck thawed, I separated the duck as follows:  boned the breast, took off the legs, cut off all the skin and fat, set aside the giblets and neck, set aside the carcass.  The breast is well on its way to becoming the prosciutto.  The legs are getting a confit treatment with the rendered fat from the skin.  The liver, heart, and carcass meat became Pate de Campagne.  The carcass and giblets became the broth for the Superbowl gumbo.  Pretty successful use of the bird, if I do say so myself!

I used the recipes from Ruhlman & Polcyn’s Charcuterie for the prosciutto, confit, and the pate.  I made a few adjustment to the recipes (except the prosciutto) since I am notorious for changing recipes.   I changed the pate spice mix to add allspice as I am not a big fan of cloves and cinnamon:  2 tea allspice, 1 tea nutmeg, 1 tea ginger, 1 tea coriander, 1 tea cinnamon, 1 tbs black pepper.  Since I had this all mixed up, I put it into both the pate and the confit.  The pate also used the duck liver rather than chicken, and I included the meat picked over from the cooked carcass which ended up being about 2/3 cup.  I couldn’t resist topping it with fresh bay leaves from my tree that lives in the dining room window.

The duck fat rendering, drove the kitties bonkers.

Here's the duck legs as they emerged from their 10 hour slow cook in their fat bath.  I got to try out the oven timer function on my stove, had it for 5 years and never used it until now.  Since these will last a while, I have plenty of time to think of a use for them.  Will also need ideas for the cracklings, any ideas?

And now the Duck Prosciutto!

Mysterious boned duck breasts nestled in kosher salt for a day...

After you rinse the salt off and pat dry, wrap in cheesecloth and tie.  Then you're ready to hang for a week or so...  Are you hungry yet?

And now, if it would only stop snowing.  At least we won't go hungry.

Clotile thinks it's ready...

but just can't reach...

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Pasta e Broccoli in Ray (Skate) Broth

Working with skate.  Never done that before.  Ate it once and really liked it.  I did end up taking some liberties with the recipe since it didn't indicate quantities for the parsley and olive oil.  Plus I'm not really sure what a "1/2 gallon glass of white wine" is.  Must be metric...

First things first: find the skate.  Called everyone I could think of:  Captain Marden's, James Hook, McKinnons. Any one of them can special order it  Finally drove down to HMart since they have a huge fish department.  I also needed a duck and some pork belly, but that's another story or two.  After some very nice bowl of YukGaeJang (Korean spicy beef soup) in the food court, I went in search of the skate.  Found some at the enormous fish counter, but there was a fellow in front of me who bought all the skate except for the last 2 pieces.  After much walking around I decided on some flounder as well, thinking it might be a good substitute if one couldn't find skate.  Then home with all my goodies.

And now the cooking commences!  The flounder version is on the left, skate on the right.