12.23.2008

Butterflied Tenderloin

Leave it to my husband to think bringing home 20 lbs of tenderloin is a good idea. (I love you baby). I froze half but had to come up with something other then grilling the other portion due to the 14" of snow outside.

I butterflied the beef tenderloin and stuffed it with onions and prunes flavored with mushroom powder and balsamic vinegar. The combination of flavors worked well on its own as well as a flavor for the tenderloin.

  • 1 loving husband
  • 10 lbs of beef tenderloin
  • 2 cups of prunes, sliced in half
  • 1 large Spanish onion, chopped into half rings
  • 2 tablespoons of mushroom powder (can be substituted by mushroom soup mix, but then do not add salt)
  • 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil
Roast onion in olive oil until just becoming translucent. Mix the onion (include the olive oil from roasting) with prunes, add balsamic vinegar, mushroom powder and season with salt. Season the butterflied beef tenderloin with salt and pepper on both sides. Place the stuffing on the inside of the meat and roll. Tie off with butcher's twine. Bake on 400 for 40 minutes. Check the meat and return to oven for another 20-30 minutes (depending on how you like your meat).

12.13.2008

Panettone French Toast

What do you do when life gives you sliced panettone left out overnight? You make French toast! Tastes like a bread pudding - perfectly crisp on the outsides and warm, gooey on the inside.
  • 6 half inch panettone slices
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla sugar
  • butter (for frying)

Whisk vanilla sugar and eggs with a fork to combine. Add the milk. Dip the panettone into the mixture and make sure each slices is soaked from both sides. Melt some butter on medium heat in a pan, and fry until golden brown. Serve steaming.

12.12.2008

Puff!


I wanted to make a quick appetizer for a family dinner tonight. With a sheet of puff pastry, apples and bacon I think I did pretty well. Everything is better with bacon.
  • 1lb of peeled, chopped, sweet apples
  • 3 strips of bacon, minced
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry (pepperidge farms), thawed
  • 2 tbsp port glaze
  • salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 egg yolk + 1 tbsp water
On an unrolled puff pastry sheet place chopped apples and bacon. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over the port glaze. Pinch the ends of the pastry sheet together and turn over onto the seam, on some parchment paper. Cut slits on a diagonal on top to release steam during baking. Brush on yolk and water mixture on top for the shine and color. Bake at 375F for 20 minutes.

12.08.2008

Blackberry Glazed Pork Riblets

I spent the whole day today entertaining different ideas for the pork ribs in the refrigerator, only to look at the clock and realize it was almost time for dinner. I think if it wasn't for the rush to get the baby in the bath, I may have done something else. However, I am very glad now that I didn't.

With about 10 minutes for the fridge to oven dance, I rinsed and dried the rack. Simply seasoned both sides with salt and pepper, and then mixed a little glaze I am going to have to make again. Blackberry jam (seeds removed), balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Simple. Quick. Bib worthy.
  • Pork ribs, full rack
  • 2 tbsp blackberry jam, seedless
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • salt
  • pepper

12.04.2008

Summer Memories

Winter is almost here. I have lots of friends waiting for those first snowflakes. Personally, I can skip that whole season completely and move from fall right into spring. Snow days are fun though. What a perfect excuse for a full breakfast mid-week, with the obligatory, I-just-shoveled-the-whole-driveway cup of tea. So, a correction, fall, a few snow days, and then spring...

Here are a few old pictures of a dinner with friends in June. We sat outside until we lost the spot in an unfair fight with mosquitoes. They should thank us though - sangria-infused blood is the best kind.

On the menu -
  • Fresh thyme tuna tartar
  • Roast vegetable napoleons
  • Steak a la husband
  • Tiramisu (joy of cooking recipe )

The tar tar

I was inspired by a trip to a sushi restaurant in Rome to make this tartar. The restaurant we visited served a trio of tartar fish, minced with fresh herbs I haven't had with raw fish before.

  • 1lb of ahi tuna, sushi grade
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp red tobiko
  • 1 tbsp ponzu
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Mince room temperature tuna with chopped thyme leaves. Mix in the ponzu, half the tobiko and lemon juice. Taste for flavor balance as it will vary depending on the ripeness of you lemon. Set into molds (or biscuit cutters) and layer on top with the remaining tobiko. Remove molds and decorate with fresh thyme.



The napoleons
(instructions for 2 servings)
  • 1 orange or yellow bell pepper
  • 1 Chinese eggplant
  • 1 fresh, vine ripened tomato
  • 3 tbsp of goat cheese
  • 1 tsp pon shabu sauce
  • balsamic vinegar (aged)
  • shitake & sesame vinaigrette
  • olive oil
  • salt
At 350F roast the bell peppers seasoned with salt in olive oil. This takes about 30 minutes. Let the peppers cool and remove/discard the translucent skin and seeds. Cut eggplant into rings, about 5mm wide. Pan fry in olive oil. Eggplant absorbs a lot of oil so pressing it down extracts some of it back to the frying surface. As it starts to caramelize a bit, and becomes very flexible, it's done. Pour a little shitake & sesame vinaigrette dressing over the veggies. Mix goat cheese with pon shabu sauce, both at room temperature. Assemble the napoleons, using a toothpick or a steel spear, layering fresh tomatoes, seasoned with salt, bell peppers, eggplant and goat cheese mixtures. When you have about 2 layers, pour some balsamic over the napoleon. This should be just a drizzle. The key to this layered salad is the temperature. The vegetables should be served while warm.

12.02.2008

Deconstructed Strudel Ice Cream

My mom decided to dust off a recipe she hadn't made in some time - strudel. She made enough for the family and filed it away again...I am sure for at least few more years. It's perfume-y and sweet filling is just a bit too much for frequent enjoyment. This time though, it inspired me to come up with something a little different, if just as decadent! I am going to de-construct the flavors into an ice cream. Why? Well, why not. I haven't used the ice cream maker in some time.

The key flavors in the family strudel are rose jam, prunes, and raisins. The taste is sweet and aroma pungent, with a hint of sour. The sweetness goes well with a relatively bland, but flaky crust. Chopped walnuts and / or pecans are usually added for a texture variant.

So... I am going to make a rose jam ice cream with spiked dry cherries (I think I need something more acidic for the creaminess of ice cream than raisins), on prune plum sauce with a phyllo square. I'll highlight the fall flavors of this ice cream with some cardamom, which goes well with tea rose flavor.



Tea Rose Preserve Ice Cream
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup of tea rose preserves with petals
  • 1 tbsp lime zest
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 cup spiked cherries

Whisk egg yolks and slowly add sugar as whisking, until the mixture is pale yellow in color. Scald combined heavy cream and whole milk in a double boiler. Temper the milk into the yolk mixture slowly, add to the double boiler. Bring to a boil, just until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Strain from the double boiler bowl into a bowl on an ice bath and add the rose preserves. Mix and allow to chill to room temperature. Add in spiked cherries and lime zest and juice (add the juice to a little of the ice cream mixture to make sure it doesn't curdle, then add that back to the bowl). Cool in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Freeze in an ice cream machine (follow manufacturer's instructions of your machine). Place into freezer for a few more hours to set up and harden.
Note: If you don't have cherries you've prepared ahead of time, make sure you give them enough time to cure in alcohol, otherwise you'll have little icicles in your ice cream.

Prune Plum Sauce
  • 1 cup of pitted, prune plums
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
Bring plums to a boil in water and reduce heat to a simmer. Allow the fruit to boil until only half the water remains, the fruit should be plump and soft. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Puree the mixture when it reaches room temperature and strain.



To assemble individual portions...
  • Bake store-bought phyllo dough, precut into 2.5 inch squares
  • Scoop a generous amount of the rose ice cream into a small pool of prune plum sauce
  • Insert a cooled phyllo dough square into the ice cream at an angle and sprinkle with cardamom
  • Add a couple of toasted, warm pecans

12.01.2008

Thanksgiving Dinner


I have a confession to make. I don't like turkey. It's not personal. I just prefer dark meat to white meat, which is not a favorable proportion in my favor when it comes to turkey.

This year it was I who volunteered my house for the Thanksgiving dinner and thus had to make the sacrifice to the Mayflower "gods" and make the white meat monster. Having never made turkey, I did some research and came across the following: a) people are secretly scared of the turkey in fear if drying it out, b) every recipe I came across attempts to flavor the impermeable layer of white meat, and c) there are ALWAYS leftovers. I ordered a fresh (read: not frozen) turkey hen because it was smaller then the tom. I didn't marinate or brine the bird. Instead, I made a rub of mayo, Dijon & spicy mustards and orange juice concentrate, which I slathered on the inside and outside of the bird after seasoning with kosher salt and black pepper. To guarantee the turkey would be moist, I injected about a cup of orange juice concentrate mixed with chicken broth into the bird and stuffed it with quartered apples, which I discarded after the turkey was done (I didn't want to risk them still not being cooked through). The 13lb bird was in the oven at 350 for 3 hours, covered for the first hour and half with foil. I was basting every 20 minutes or so. I noticed that the juices in the pan were drying out so I added apple juice as needed to make sure there was plenty of moisture in the oven. I turned up the temp to 375 in the last 15 minutes to crisp up the skin.


Fennel, Parsnip, Apple and Onion Stuffing
  • 1 Country Boole bread; cut into 1 inch squares (I removed the top and bottom crust, but left the sides)
  • 1 large fennel, sliced into thin wedges and separated into strips
  • 2 peeled parsnips, cut into 2 inch strips
  • 2 Spanish onions, chopped into half-rings
  • 3 strips of bacon
  • 2 mitzu apples, peeled and chopped into apple pie sized pieces
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup of low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tbsp of heavy cream
  • salt
  • pepper

Toast bread cubes at 300F for 15-20 minutes and let cool. Coat fennel and parsnip in olive oil and salt to taste. Roast at 350F for 35 minutes, turning several times to caramelize the vegetables. Add chopped apples coated in olive oil on top of fennel and parsnip and roast an additional 15-20 minutes until apples are just tender. In a pan roast the bacon strips in some olive oil, once the bacon begins to curl, add in the onions and cook until golden. Discard the bacon (or make a great breakfast omelet, which is what I did). Mix the bread cubes, roasted vegetables and onions in a 9 inch pan. In a bowl, whip the egg with the heavy cream just until mixed and add in the chicken stock. Pour the contents of the bowl evenly over the mixed bread/veggies. Let stand for about 1 hour in the refrigerator. If you like the stuffing warm, as I do, put the pan into the oven 20 minutes before sitting down for dinner at 350F. Enjoy!



Fig and brie bites
Layer half of a dried fig, a slice of brie and deep-fried, canned onions (such as French's). In a saucepan, reduce on slow heat some balsamic and brown sugar until it thickens. Pour the cooled sauce over the bites.

Goat cheese and pomegranate balls
Mix goat cheese with buttermilk until the mixture is pliable but still holds its shape. Mix in chopped thyme, cracked green peppercorns and ripe pomegranate seeds (make sure there is plenty of them so that there is at least ~5 in each ball). Form 3/4 inch balls and refrigerate before serving. Serve with pumpernickel bread or Melba toasts.

Cranberry sauce
  • 1 bag of cranberries
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp port
Cook fresh cranberries in 1 cup of water until they burst. Turn down the heat to low and let them cook down and thicken until desired texture. Cool and add in the vinegar and port.

What's next? Leftover turkey panini of course, stuffing waffles, and cranberry chutney...

11.24.2008

The world of spicy mayo



[still working on this post]

I've enjoyed a variety of mayonnaise based sauces with mostly Japanese food, but have always wanted to try them with other food combinations, however never had them on hand. Now that Japanese food is so broadly available, so are its ingredients, but I am not so keen on trying the masses of brands to find something that can be so simply prepared at home and tuned to resemble the tried and tested restaurant mayos.

I know of three kinds I want to replicate:
  1. Spicy Mayo (red) - this is what's most commonly refered to as spicy mayo and usually made with cayennee or chilli pepper varieties.
  2. Wasabi Mayo (green) - this mixture is pretty common as well.
  3. Horseradish Mayo (white) - this isn't frequently available at japanese establishments, however is frequently sold as a sandwich ingredient.
Red.
  • 10 drops or 1/2 mL of cayenne pepper sauce (such as tabasco)
  • 1 tbsp of kwepie japanese mayo (available at asian grocers; this is much closer to a home made mayo then the standard store brands. It is more liquid in texture and tastes more of yolk. If you are unable to find this, I would suggest making your own mayo from scratch)
  • ...surpize ingredient: a teeny! dash of artificial sweetner (I used equal. The use of this completely depends on the hot sauce you choose.)
    I have to write a disclaimer to this one. I dislike artificial sweetner with a passion. The only reason I had it in the pantry is because my mother-in-law prefers it with her tea. Sweetner in general has a very distinct taste that is almost overly sweet and has a strange power to balance acidity in small amounts. This is why I dislike it so much in tea; but exactly what made it a perfect addition to this sauce.
Green.
  • 2 tsp wasabi root powder
  • 2 tbsp of kwepie japanese mayo
  • 1 drop of lime essential oil (I made more of this sauce so it could withstand the addition of the lime oil, you could make less if you can figure out how to get 1/2 a drop :o) )
White.
  • 1 tsp horseradish root powder (this isn't as readily available as the wasabi powder, but really is the only way to go to get the smooth consistency of the sauce)
  • 1 tbsp of kwepie japanese mayo

11.22.2008

Still prepping...

I am not sure if it was the simplicity of the previous post that I decided to spike a few more things. I started with the dried bing cherries and moved onto prunes and tea leaves. I have only eaten one rum raisin. I swear. But the other stuff, well, let's just say taste tests are an important part of cooking. The preparation is just combination of ingredients listed, and like in rum raisin, the dry fruit is first scalded and steeped.

The bing...or rather, the bada bing
  • 1 cup of dried, bing cherries
  • 1/2 cup of vodka
  • 2 tbsp of lemon juice
  • zest of one lemon
Using lemon here was a choice I made since I have a few ideas of how I am going to be using this. I wanted cherries to be spiked but with a kick of acidity, unlike the rum raisins.

Prune-licious
  • 2 cups of prunes
  • 1 cup of rum
  • 1 cup of table red wine
  • 2 tbsp of honey
  • 1 tsp of grated fresh ginger
  • 3 tsp of steeped through whole tea leaves
As I was making this, I realized that in taste it started getting close to the Dominican "mamajuana" drink, sans the root. The tea really adds a kick of bitterness here that the root would have imparted. This would be perfect for a meat sauce.

11.21.2008

The Prep Work


It occured to me that in order to really make something standout in a dish you have to know what you're putting into it. I mean really know what you're putting into it. Sure, fresh ingredients and a little ingenuity is good, but the basic components don't stop there. A well made dish takes a good sauce...just look at the French Laundry cookbook. Keller really outdoes himself. There is no way to compete, but there is a way to make sure a dish 1) can be simplified with a little leg work ahead of time and 2) that it is an interesting combination of flavors.

So, I am on a quest to stock my fridge with sauces, bases, and anything that can stand up to a month of refrigeration while I think of how and where to use it all.

Today is RUM RAISIN day. Yes, simple as it may be, I figured it's a good place to start. I am going to do this one blind. I don't want to know (until I finish the recipe) how everyone else makes it. I want to make it how I think it should taste. That may offend some - but I'll let my palette do the talking.

I start with a cup of raisins. Scald them in boiling water and let stand for 1 minute. Drain the water. Place in a glass (at least I did) jar. Add 2 tablespoons of real maple syrup. Add about 1/2 cup of 120 proof dark rum just to cover. Let steep on the counter for about 1 hour and then move to the fridge for about 1 week.

Ingredients Used
  • 1 cup of raisins
  • 2 tbsp of real maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup of 120 proof dark rum

4.15.2008

Pizza Blanca with Prosciutto, Broccolini and Garlic






















On a premade, oiled (just the top) thin crust arrange: 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup of broccolini, 2 cloves of thinly sliced garlic, several slices of Prosciutto, sprinkling of parmesan cheese. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes. Serve steaming hot.









4.14.2008

Turkey Rissole in Tomato Marinade with Dill Potatoes and Fresh Salad

Rissolle

Add 1/2 cup of boiled, unsalted white rice to 1 pound of processed turkey meat. Mix in 1 egg, salt, pepper and dry cilantro powder.

Form small meatballs and drop onto an oiled ceramic pan.

Bake at 375* for 25 minutes. Follow the Sauce instructions below.

These can be prepared 1 day ahead of serving and refrigerated.

Tomato Sauce

In a medium sauce pan, roast 1 chopped onion in olive oil. When the onions are golden in color, reduce heat and add 1 tsp of flour and mix. Add 1 cup of water, 2 tbsp of tomato paste (unseasoned), salt, pepper, dash of sugar and 1 tsp of cider vinegar.

Add the rissoles to the pan and cover with sauce. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes until they reach temperature.

Serve immediately with dill and sour cream.

Boil potatoes with skins on, until soft when tested with a toothpick. Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon of chopped dill and 1 clove of smashed garlic.

Sour Cherry Dumplings with Cherry Lychee Sauce

  • 1 pack, round wonton wrappers (wheat)
  • 1 package, frozen sour cherry
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 can of lychee in syrup

Defrost the frozen cherries in a colander over a bowl. Set aside the collected juice from the bowl. Move the cherries into the cleared bowl and add the sugar. Allow to stand for at least 2 hours. Drain the juice collected (press the cherries lightly to get most of the moisture out) and set it aside (with the previously collected juice).

Fill wonton wrappers with cherries (4-6) and seal well. At this point the dumplings can be frozen for up to a week or refrigerated for a day or so. Boil a pot of water. When the water comes to a boil, add the dumplings and let boil for 7-10 minutes.

Sauce.

Reduce the reserved cherry juice with some syrup from the lychee can, on slow heat, until the mixture is sweet and slightly thickened.

Serve.

Drain the dumplings and toss with some butter. Serve immediately with sauce.