Tag Archives: Cooking

Italian Wedding Soup Raviolis.. They Burst in Your Mouth!

 

Weekends with lady friends are the best, I think we killed 3 bottles of champagne between us, while making these delicious dumplings. I called upon the help of my Italian friend Sarah who I leaned on heavily for meatballs and ravioli, and my trusty taste tester Jeni, to make this genius idea happen.

I have had a idea circling in my head since hitting up Din Tai Fung. And while I left there a little annoyed (not every dumpling has to be a soup dumpling, JEESE!) I thought to myself, why cant I make this into an Italian thing too. I threw around all the ideas in my head landing on a final perfect, delectable version of a ravioli soup dumpling.

Now here’s the thing, if you don’t want to spend several hours, if not days making this recipe, you can buy solidified chicken stock for your base. No judgement here. But if you want it to taste like love, make the chicken consomme at home. That way when these little suckers burst in your mouth it means that much more. The recipe for that will be at the bottom of the page, (start there) just scroll all the way down if you want to be in the cool kid club.

My ravioli sucks. Sorry kids. Not to disillusion you, but its fucking hard. So I used wontons wrappers to speed up the process and make things uniform. I did it both ways, one way making a dumpling style, using only wonton wrappers (the tastiest and least waseful way) and the other using my ravioli stamp (hella wasteful and more thick)

Italian wedding soup raviolis  (serves 4 healthy eaters)

3 cups chicken consomme (recipe at the bottom of page)

100 tiny meatballs cooked (recipe just above the soup recipe)

100 wonton wrappers

For the sauce made in batches

The juice and zest of 2 lemons

1 sage plant (a small handful per batch)

2 cups of butter quartered

6 cloves finely chopped garlic

a small fistful of fresh thyme

salt

pepper

Putting It All Together

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Place out several wonton wrappers. There is significantly less waste if you fold them. place a meatball, and a teaspoon of the consomme in each wrapper, seal the edges and set them aside in batches.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the wontons for about 3 minutes. Remove them from the water with a slotted spoon, and briefly set them aside. We did about 4 batches of these. So in each individual batch you’ll use about 1/4 of the sauce ingredients.

In a large pan, while the water is coming to a boil, melt the butter and allow it to brown slightly with the garlic, sage, a large pinch of fresh thyme, salt and pepper. Add in the lemon and lemon zest, give it a stir, and toss in your first batch of of the wontons.  Saute them for 3 to 5 minutes on medium heat. Repeating these instructions with the following batches

Garnish with a little parsely and sprinkle some romano cheese on top.

soup dumplins (19)

These are Sarahs Tasty Balls (halved)

1/2 lb ground pork

1/2 lb ground beef

1/2 c grated parmesan

3 cloves finely chopped garlic

A small handful of chopped parsley

1 egg

1/3 c bread crumbs

a splash of cold milk

1/2 tsp cumin

Salt, Pepper, chili flakes to taste

Mix these ingredients together by hand and form them into cm sized itty bitty meat balls. If you have left over meatball mix you can make several large meat balls to make up for the excess.

Chicken Consomme

1 Whole chicken skin removed

1 yellow onion halfed and seared (save the skins)

2 carrots pealed (save the peals)

1 celery bulb sliced and seared

A few sprigs of thyme

3 bay leaves

A few sprigs of parsley

A few sprigs of oregano

2 tbs salt

1 tablespoon peppers corns

Remove the skin from your chicken and cut it in to quarters. Sear your veggies and place them around the chicken parts. Put the herbs into a spice bag, cheese cloth, or tea strainer and pop them into the pot with the rest of your ingredients. Add water until everything is just covered and bring to a gentle boil. As all that brown sludge comes to the surface, skive it off. Let your chicken brother simmer down over 3 hours. You’ll know its done when you can grab a bone and pull it out of the soup and theres nothing on it. I also check that piece of cartilage that spurs off the chickens sternum, if its gone, you’re done!

Remove the big chunks from the stock, and strain it through a fine mesh sieve and a cheese cloth into a bowl. Let it cool to room temperature and set in the fridge over night (covered). When you wake up there will be (hopefully) A layer of fat on the top of a beautiful golden gelatinous  soup! Yay! You made food magic!  I usually end up with about 6 cups of broth. You’ll probably use maybe 2 cups worth.  If you failed at this life task, pop a packets worth of gelatin in there and carry on. Sometimes we cant win everything.

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Fried Sticky Rice Musubi

Musubi is one of those things, if you aren’t a spam eater, that you look at and really judge a person hard for. I was one of those people. You won’t catch me eating spam and eggs anywhere but in a campsite, its not something I stock in my cupboard, and it probably never will be. However, after careful consideration, if you throw some musubi in front of me, I’m going to eat it. Especially if that spam on the inside is still crispy and a little hot. I made it the normal way a few times, and was pleased. But then I thought to myself, how can I offend everyone, and make something delicious at the same time. And so, my newest culinary abomination was born.

musubi

For the rice:

1 cup glutinous sweet rice soaked for 2 to 24 hours (Your choice. I tasted no difference and the cooking time was almost identical.)

2 oz chopped shiitake mushrooms

2 oz chopped up chinese sausage

1/2 yellow onion chopped

2 tablespoons small dried shrimp

1/2 cup chopped scallions

a generous splash of soy sauce

and even more generous splash of chinese shaoxing

sesame oil

Salt an pepper

Nori

Spam

Rinse your rice until it runs clear after soaking it. In a steamer pot, steam your rice for about 15 minutes. While your steaming, cook the sausage. Add the sausage to the the steamer and fluff it with the rice at the 15 minute mark. Continue steaming the rice until its cooked.

While the rice is steaming saute the mushrooms, onions, salt and pepper in the left over oil from the sausage, and a little bit of sesame oil. Add in the dried shrimp halfway through. Once your rice is finished cooking, add it to the mushrooms and onions. Finally splash in the shaoxing wine, soy sauce, scallions, and little extra sesame oil.  Gently mix everything around in the wok until its well combine. Remove it from the heat and set it aside.

Set up your sushi station. A truthful moment here, I have literally nothing for making sushi. So, what I do is take a moist rag, spread it out over my counter so there are no wrinkles, and place saran wrap over that. Then place the nori over one side, and moisten one edge.

Cut the spam into 1/4 in thick slices, and fry it.

While its frying, spread the rice over the top of the nori, place the still hot slices over the rice, and roll your sushi. Give it a squeeze, let it sit in the towel and saran wrap for a minute or two. Remove only the towel, slice it up, and serve it.

 

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Not your DFAC’s Shrimp and Grits

I have no standing room as a grit expert. For years, the only grits I had had, were  from the army dining facility, or waffle house. They were grey, lumpy, lacking actual texture. So imagine my surprise when a good friend ordered them at a local brunch joint and they were a beautiful golden red color, teaming with flavor and artistically presented. Who woulda’ thunk that something I had previously referred to as gruel would turn into such a beautiful swan of dish.

So, along with my experience eating grits, is my experience making it. So, if you have any amazing suggestions in the fine art of making grits please, don’t hesitate to send me down the right path.

For the grits

2 cups water

1 cup chardonnay

1 cup chicken broth

juice of one lemon

1/4 cup butter

1 cup stone ground grits

Melt your butter, add in the water chardonnay, chicken broth and lemon juice. Slowly pour in your grits, while stirring. Continue to stir until they thicken up. Then start on your shrimp, occasionally giving the pot a stir while everything is simmering away.

Quick note, A lot of the shrimp flavor is hidden in its shell, after shilling them, retain half of those shells to simmer with your shrimps for an added boost.

For the shrimp

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup wine

1 red pepper

1 shallot

6 cloves garlic

1 tsp chili flakes

1 lb shrimp

1/2 cup shrimp shells in a cheese cloth or large tea strainer

A handful of chopped  fresh dill

A dash of salt and pepper

Melt the butter, and add in the wine. Place your shells in the cheese cloth or strainer to get that tasty shrimp flavor out of them. Add in the red pepper, garlic and pepper flakes. Once the pepper has softened add in the the shrimps. Cook them until the tails curl inward and they turn red and add in your dill.

Remove the grits from the burner, and serve them into bowls, placing the shrimp mixture over each and adding in a healthy serving of the sauce.

Tada! Amazing, flavorful, shrimp and grits, that don’t make you feel like you’re in prison.. Yay!

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Shrimp Manicotti is Good For Your Body

Winter nights make for amazing food. Part of what I love about winter, is having every excuse in the book to sit at home, and dream up tasty tasty foods to make, while having zero guilt about not going out into the drizzly mess outside. This dish is actually fairly lazy. With only about 20 minutes of prep and a generous bake time, you’ll have plenty of time to look like you spent all day slaving over a hot stove, when you really spent the day binge watching  Netflix and staring woefully out at the rain.

10 Manicotti – cooked to al dente

16 oz ricotta cheese

1 lb shrimp minced with shells removed

1/2 lb chantrelle mushrooms

1/2 cup romano cheese

6 cloves garlic

1 shallot

2 tablespoons fresh thyme, dill,and oregano

1 tbs butter

salt and pepper

2 cups marinara sauce

12 oz grated mozzarella cheese

Saute shrimp and chantrelles with shallots, garlic and herbs until just cooked, and set that aside too cool. Cook your manicotti to just on the hard side of al dente, usually about half the cook time on the packaging.

Once the shrimp mixture has cooled, mix it with ricotta, half the mozzarella, and Romano cheese add in salt and pepper to taste, and pipe it into your manicotti tubes.( I used a super fancy method of placing all of my mixture into a Ziploc and cutting off a corner at the bottom, and squeezing the mixture through.) After you have piped in all of your mixture, line the bottom of a casserole dish with marinara, place you manicotti over the top, add another layer of marinara, then place a heavy smattering of mozzarella and Romano cheese to the top. Bake it at 400 for 30 minutes.

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Seared Lemon Ahi Tuna with Cannellini Bean Mash

Seared ahi tuna is one of my favorite treats. My lovely cousin stopped by and I decided to make her something special. So I put on my thinking cap, and whipped this bad boy together. The creamy cannellini bean mash mixes really well with the peppered ahi tuna.

1 can cannellini beans

4 slices of bacon, fried and cut into pieces

1 onion chopped

6 garlic cloves minced

1 chicken bullion cube

half cup wine

1/4 cup Romano cheese

a few sprigs of fresh thyme and oregano

1/4 cup heavy cream

zest and juice of 1 lemon

salt

pepper

bacon grease for frying

Fry up your bacon. Using the left over bacon grease, blanch the garlic and onions with a little the lemon zest, and salt and pepper. Add in the herbs, 1/2 a cup of water, wine, lemon juice, beans, and the chicken bullion. Simmer that down until the water has reduced, add in the bacon,  romano cheese, and heavy cream and mash everything together.

For the tuna

2 tuna steaks

Juice of 1 lemon

salt

2 tbs  fresh ground pepper

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

Before you start anything marinate the ahi in lemon juice, salt and lemon zest for 30 minutes. Mix together pepper, salt, garlic and onion powder  on a small plate and coat both sides of the tuna. Place oil in a cast iron skillet  on medium high. Sear each side of the tuna for about 1 minute each side. Slice the tuna as you see fit, and place it on top of the cannellini bean mash.

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Fried Curried Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Coconut Cream Dipping Sauce

Gnocchi isn’t just for Italian food anymore, kids. Apparently you can make it into a misshapen little gargoyle of a Thai appetizer too. Feel free to make an entire batch, turn on netflix, and pop them in your mouth like potato chips.

Making gnocchi is hard. There are easier renditions, my favorite is Kenji Lopezs’ ricotta gnocchi, mainly because its a lot harder to jack up than its potatoee… cousin. Don’t believe those people that say its really simple. Their beautiful photos, with pristine unfloured hands, gently shaping ridges into the sides with a fork are all a great big lie. Its gooey. Even when you bake the potatoes instead of boiling them (Hint: DON’T boil them). If you add too much flour it changes the flavor and texture, too little and you are covered in the worlds stickiest potato and flour paste. Then, if you feel like making your little dumplings a bit more lovely you better place their little friends in a pile of flour, otherwise they’ll melt to your counter/baking mat/each other/what ever surface you’re using. Once you get the hang of it though, like everything else in life, it becomes simple, because you know what to expect.

For the Gnocchi

2 sweet potatoes baked (1 hour) or microwaved 8 minutes)

1 1/2+ cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 tbs brown sugar

1 tbs curry powder

Coconut oil for frying

Remove the potato from their skins after baking or microwaving them, and run them through a ricer, or mash them until all of the lumps are gone. Add in the salt, brown sugar and curry powder. Fold in your flour. The consistency that you are looking for is still slightly sticky but still easy to cut and separate into sections. Cut it into 4 sections, and roll them into worms approximately 3/4″ thick, and chop those into 1 inch pieces. In a large frying pan, melt coconut oil and throw in your gnocchi in batches, making sure they are crispy and lightly browned on each side. While the others are waiting to cook, you should have them resting on a light bed of flour, so they don’t stick to everything.

Dipping sauce

1 can coconut cream

1 chicken bullion cube

1 tbs red curry paste

1 stock chopped lemon grass

1 shallot minced

4 garlic cloves minced

1/4 cup thai basil chopped

1/4 cup cilantro chopped

juice of 1 lime

5 red chili peppers

salt and pepper

Put your coconut cream in a sauce pan, and add in all of the above ingredients. turn the heat to medium low, and let it simmer, occasionally stirring it, while you make your gnocchi. Once you have simmered it down a tad, pour it into a blender and puree (or use a hand blender). And there you have it.

Note: This is equally as tasty with sriracha mayo. Buy it or make your own with half a cup of mayo and two tablespoons of sriracha

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Break up Mediterranean Yogurt Chicken With Greek Salad

Why is this a break up dish? Its a breath bomb, that will let a fellow down easy, while letting him know at the same time there will be no room, for a post break up snog, nookie, or any variation of that. It lets him know politely that you still want to be friends, but the kind that don’t touch. Now don’t you worry your pretty little heads, Kris and I are just fine, but after I chopped up an onion and a bulb of garlic for this meal, I laughed to myself, realizing I would be permeating garlic for the next week.

I used goat yogurt, because I wanted to show all of you, that there are many kinds of yogurt. Not just that Greek paste, that leaves a weird layer of white yogurt smegma around your mouth, and destroys the planet, one overly thick spoonful at a time.

4 large chicken breasts tenderized (you can use your break up fists for this…. or a mallet… either way..)

16 oz goat yogurt

6 cloves of garlic minced

1/2 a purple onion minced

1 tsp garam masala

1/2 cup finely chopped parsley

1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro

The juice and zest of 1 lemon

salt and pepper

1 grated Persian cucumber

Salt the chicken and set it aside. Combine the yogurt with the garlic, onion, cilantro, parsley, lemon, garam masala, and lemon. Split it in half, saving one section for dipping later (add the Persian cucumber to that one). Put the chicken into a zip lock bag, pour in the other half of the yogurt, and set it aside for at least an hour to soak up all of those tasty tasty flavors. Once you are ready, remove the chicken breasts And either grill them or fry them for approximately 5 minutes each side (depending on thickness) The more you use your break up fists, the thinner it will be….

For the salad

I hate salad. This is all guess work by the way…who measures things for a salad…. hang your head. Salad is supposed to be fun and creative.

2 finely chopped hearts of romaine

half an onion finely sliced

two large fistfuls of cherry tomatoes

2 pealed Persian cucumbers sliced

1/2 a cup kalamata olives

10 chopped up slices of salami

6 to 10 marinated artichoke hearts

feta cheese

For the vinaigrette

half a cup olive oil

half a cup white balsamic

1/2 tsp salt and pepper

3 cloves of garlic

1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes

1/2 cup finely chopped basil

Combine all of these ingredients in a blender and push puree. Spread liberally over your salad, and enjoy your new found freedom.

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Peter Rabbit Munched on My Herbs, So I braised Him With a little Red Wine

We’ve been on a rabbit kick for a while. Its wonderfully lean, in fact its so lean, if you were, a hobo, living off only rabbit, you could actually starve from a lack of fat in your diet. It packs a protein punch, but that is all. Rabbit tastes a bit like a chicken mated with a wild bore, and instead of creating a misshapen little gargoyle, it made an adorable tasty treat.

Rabbit is tough, and if you aren’t going to grind it up into a tasty croquettes, most people stew, or slow cook them. Which is why I chose to braise, but if you know any other cool rabbit tricks, please done hesitate to pass them on.

For the Marinade

1 rabbit butterflied

1 shallot

4 cloves garlic

1/4 cup white balsamic

1/2 cup olive oil

2 tbs fresh thyme

1 sprig of rosemary

1 tbs lemon juice

1 tsp salt

4 bay leaves

pepper

For Roasting

1 purple onion sliced a few times width wise

1 bulb of garlic, top removed, and drizzled with olive oil

Those extra sprigs of rosemary and thyme

3 cups red wine

Take all of the marinade ingredients minus the rabbit and bay leaves, and puree them. Pop them all into a bag with your rabbit, and bay leaves.Let that marinate for 2-4 hours. After your time is up, heat up a cast iron skillet to high,  and seer the rabbit on all sides for a few minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, and add in the onions, bulb of garlic, and herbs. Place the rabbit on top, sprinkle with a little salt,  add in half the marinade, and the red wine. Cover it with a lid and roast it at 325 for an hour and a half, occasionally basting it with the juices. Serve that up with your favorite sides and enjoy.

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Dead Men Tell No Tales Black Risotto With Polenta Stuffed Squid Hoods. Release the Kracken!!!

This is one dark abyss you shouldn’t fear. Well… you can fear the prep as your rip your tiny krakens apart, cutting off it eyes, and squeezing the innards from its delightful hood. Risotto is rich. So is this stuffing. This makes enough for 4 people. I highly suggest serving it with a salad just to bring the rich down a notch. The whole thing is very involved, there is multi tasking. It might be a two person job, but its well worth the work.

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For the squid

2 pounds of medium sized whole squid

8 oz finely chopped crimini mushrooms

4 oz diced pancetta cubes (or/and bacon)

2 chopped shallots

2 cloves garlic minced

2 oz crab meat

1/2 cup yellow corn meal

1/2 cup of bread crumbs

Juice of 1 lemon

1 egg

salt

pepper

1 cup Flour, mixed with 1 tsp baking soda,  and a whisked egg for batter

Oil for frying

To clean the squid, pull the heads the hoods, and set them aside. Remove the gladius (Pokey, semi hard thing sticking out, and squeeze out the innards. Remove the skin layer, thoroughly flush the inside, and stick them in a bowl of lemon juice and salt. Take the head, chop off the eyes, pull off its tiny beak and give it a little squeeze just to make sure you got everything. I told you, its ok to fear this part. I have a low threshold for gross, and this got me a little. Give the tentacles a rinse, and add them to your hoods for about 30 minutes if you have a few squids that are too small for stuffing slice them up. When they finish marinating, pat the tentacles and the hoods dry.

Take the mushrooms, pancetta, garlic, shallots, and celery, and saute them in half the butter with a little salt until blanched. Remove it from the heat and let it cool. While its cooling, cook up 1/2 a cup of cornmeal. Bring 2 cups of salty water (add about a tsp of salt) to a boil and slowly whisk in the cornmeal until it thickens, remove it from the heat, stir in the mushroom mixture, and add in the crab meat, breading, and lemon juice. Once its cool enough to touch, stuff the mixture into the squid hoods. You can spoon it in (painfully messy), or take a pastry bag.. or a ziplock with a corner cut off, and squeeze it in. Secure the hoods shut with a toothpick. Dip each hood into a whisked egg, and dredge it in the flour. Set it on a floured plate while you cook the risotto.

For the risotto

1 1/2 cups arborio rice

5 cups chicken broth

2 packets squid ink

1 minced leek

4 cloves garlic

1 celery stock finely chopped

zest of 1 lemon

a small pinch of saffron

1 cup red wine

salt

pepper

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup Romano cheese

Heat up the chicken broth, and squeeze in the squid ink (try to get it all out of the packets). Leave that on low, so it stays warm and combines well with the ink. Saute the leak with the garlic, lemon zest, celery, saffron, salt and pepper in butter, until its blanched. (At this point heat up the oil for frying your squid) Add the rice to the onion mixture and let it simmer for just a little bit, before you add in the wine. Once the wine cooks into the rice, begin to ladle in the chicken broth, slowly stirring it in until it dissolves into the risotto. Continue to do this until you have about about 2 cups of broth left, and start frying your squid. I did mine only 2 at a time so I could multitask, You have to watch the squid, because if they get too well done, they pop, violently, and you don’t want that at all… mostly because its very scary. Once they are golden brown, place them on a paper towel, to absorb the excess oil.  When you finish ladling in the broth and reducing the liquid, add in a pad of butter, and the cheese, and let it sit for five minutes while you saute the remaining tentacles in a little butter until they stiffen and begin to curl. (They have flavor from the lemon juice and salt you set them in don’t add more seasoning). Sprinkle your little squid buddies on your risotto, and finally serve it all up. Gobble down that black richness till you’re out of breath. You deserve it. You defeated the kraken today. Sooo rich, sooo delicious.

heavybreathing

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Seafood Eggs in Purgatory. Its Monday. I Feel Like One of Those Eggs.

I feel like I have a literal and figurative cloud over me right now. Its a typical drizzly, rainy, wet Monday here in Seattle. I’m pretty sure the first world is plotting against me. My device I ordered isn’t functioning right, the Seahawks lost, my rennet and citric acid said it was delivered, but no package is in site, and I bought a $7 gallon of milk to make some beautiful home made mozzarella, that  I’m almost certain its passive aggressively going bad to add a little singe to the burn of not having any cheese making supplies.

Something has become apparently obvious though, after 5 years of being out of the military, judging by that last paragraph, I’ve turned into a whiny little bitch of a hipster. Will one of my good friends, pretty please, drive over here and back hand some sense into me.

This isn’t a tale of innovation, rather, its a tale of up-cycling my leftover marinara. Last night, my super bowl dish was diablo seafood marinara with pecorino crustini. Its absolutely one of the easiest things I make It requires no skill. Huzzah!

Diablo Seafood Marinara with Crustini

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1 jar of your favorite marinara

1 onion chopped

4 cloves of garlic minced

Olive oil

1/4 cup white wine

the juice of 1 lemon

1 lb clams

1 lb shrimp

1 tsp chili pepper flakes

1 sourdough baguette

1 cup grated pecorino romano cheese

Parsley for garnish

salt and pepper to taste

Slice of a baguette, and give a light coating of olive oil to each side, and set them on a cookie sheet. Gently sprinkle a tad of cheese onto each slice, and pop it in the oven at 400 degrees for 5-10 minutes. Saute the garlic and onions in a tsp of olive oil until blanched, Add in your marinara, wine and lemon juice. Bring that to a high simmer and throw in your seafood. Once your shrimp has curled and your clams have opened remove it from the heat, sprinkle with a little pecorino, garnish with some parsley and Viola! You’re done. Eat like half and save the rest for the morning.

For your Eggs in Purgatory

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3 cups of left over Diablo Seafood marinara

4 eggs

1/2 a leftover sourdough baguette

1/2 tsp+ cayenne pepper

Slice up the rest of your baguette and stick it in the oven at 400 degrees for 5-10 minutes. For the marinara, remove the seafood. and set it aside. You don’t want to over cook the seafood.  Bring the marinara to a simmer, add in the eggs and let them cook. Heat up the seafood for 30 seconds in the microwave, and gently scoop out the eggs onto a plate add the seafood, and your baguette slices, and serve. Now, pardon me while I head off to the range to blow off some much needed steam.

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Ringing in the New Year with Healthy Steak Salad. Sort of. Shut up, Its Scrumptious!

 

Don’t worry, this health kick won’t last a week. I just figure, everyone is making new years resolutions, lose weight, get in shape, eat better… This tasty salad is in the very least a low carb treat! I’m not doing that Paleo crap though. Cave men died in their 30’s. As for me I’m not making any New Years resolutions. I’ll just continue to try to better myself as every human should. Best of luck to everyone in 2015.

Steaks

2 New York Steaks (I’m a purist for this, Salt, pepper, olive oil)

Cover the steaks in a bit of olive oil. Salt and pepper both sides, let it sit for 30 minutes, and pan fry or grill on both sides until its cooked to your favorite doneness. Let it sit for 10 minutes after cooking, and slice into strips.

 

For the Dressing

1 cup sour cream

1 tbs horse radish+ to your taste.

Juice of a wedge of lemon

2 cloves finely chopped garlic

1/4 cup finely chopped chives

1/2 tsp salt

pepper

Mix all of this together, and set it aside for 30 minutes to let the flavors meld together.

Salad fixings

spinach

arugula

1/4 cup finely sliced onion

1 cup cherry tomatoes

4 finely sliced radishes

1/2 a sliced and pealed cucumber

1/4 cup of pine nuts

A smattering of Gruyere cheese

Pepper

Set this up however you want. Salads are very personal. Like mac and cheese or spaghetti or underwear brands. I pop everything on top of the spinach and arugula. Don’t worry, it will mix itself.

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Guinness Beef Stew. Guinness is Good for You!

We went on hike around tiger mountain in the blistering fricking cold the other day.  ‘Tis the season for the light to pass perfectly through the trees, and for the cold to make its own beauty.

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I had been home a few hours and my ass still hadn’t warmed up. What better way to toast up my insides than a Guinness beef stew. When I was a kid, the very mention of anything about Guinness would cue up my grandmother to say the Guinness rhyme.  guinnes

Wouldn’t you know that Guinness is not only good for you, but its also good in stew. Its rich flavor deeply compliments the salty beef broth perfectly and makes pairing a drink with your stew super easy.

 

2 lbs Beef cut into 2″ chunks

2 large onions sliced

6 cups beef broth

1 can Guinness

6 cloves of garlic chopped

1 lb fingerling potatoes

4 celery stocks

12 oz mushrooms

1/2 cup barley

1 whole nutmeg seed

3 black cardamom pods crushed

3 bay leaves

2 sprigs of rosemary

2 sprigs of thyme

2 sprigs of oregano

Salt and pepper

In a large pot caramelize your onions, and brown the beef.  Add in the broth and beer. Place nutmeg, cardamom, bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, and oregano in a cheese cloth or large tea strainer, and add it to the soup. Throw in the celery, mushrooms, potatoes, and barely. Let all of that simmer for approximately 2 hours, or until you can separate the beef  easily with a fork. For extra cool points plop some Swiss and or Gruyere cheese in there for that amazing gooey cheese factor.

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Coconut Hazelnut Pecan Tart. My bastardized version of pecan pie.

I am a pecan pie naes-sayer. They are overly sweet and gooey, and if they aren’t cold they kind of ooze all over you with their sticky nutty mess. That being said, my mind was recently changed by my friend, Laura. I went over for a day of goofing off downtown and baking. I was pleasantly surprised by what popped out of the oven (she makes the best baked goods). We made pecan pie bars, with a large smattering of hazelnuts in them. Their sweet scent filled the  apartment, and they came out quite tasty. So I took that delightful bar recipe she found on allrecipes, and changed it into something that looks nothing like the original.

For the crust

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tsp salt

approx 1 tbs or less ice cold water

Mix together the flour, butter, salt and brown sugar in a food processor, or by hand until the ingredients are reduced to crumbles. Add in the water, mix it into the dough, and press it into a lightly oiled tart pan. Its too sticky and soft to roll out. You’ll just end up using all your swears otherwise.

For the pecan pie goo.

4 eggs

3/4 cup white sugar

3/4 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup crushed pecans

1/2 cup crushed hazelnuts

1/2 cup coconut flakes

1 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, whisk the eggs with the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and vanilla extract. Add in the coconut, pecans and hazelnuts, and pour that into your tart pan. Bake for 40 minutes, or until when you give the pan a light shove it no longer undulates a wave of goo.

Semi Sweet Chocolate Drizzle

Just use dark or semi sweet chocolate, this thing is already teaming with sugar. The slight bitterness of the dark chocolate is a welcome additive to the to the salivary gland squeezing sweetness of this tart.

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup semi sweet or dark chocolate chips

On low, melt the butter. Add in the chocolate chips and stir until they are melted and combined well with the butter. If you’re a neanderthal like me, pour it into a plastic sandwich bag, seal the top, a cut a small hole in one of the corner. Drizzle that over the top of your pecan pie once it pops out of the oven, and let it cool for at least an hour.

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Pimenton roasted game hen with Mediterranean couscous

Pimenton sauce is freaking tasty. I recently ate it at a delightful restaurant downtown. I’m pretty sure this is going to go on everything for the next few weeks (or until I run out of smokey paprika). I had initially seen a recipe from my friend Jason, on the NY times website for Moroccan game hens and couscous. It looks nice. But the addition of paprika really made me want to over do it. Basting these little birds with a slightly diluted version of the pimenton sauce makes them wonderfully flavorful. After its finished cooking you can spread it all over everything, like a 5 year old to ketchup.

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3 game hens cut in half

4 cups of Israeli couscous

4 cups strong chicken broth

1 large chopped onion

6 cloves of chopped garlic

1 cup golden raisins

2 tbs of tumeric

1 tbs cinnamon

1 tbs Baharat spice

1 tsp salt

water

Pimenton sauce

1/4 smokey paprika

1 large onion

4 cloves of garlic

1 tsp salt

the juice of 1 lemon

1 bay leafs

1 tbs flour

1 1/2 cup water

1 tbs butter

For the baste

1/4 cup pimenton sauce

1/4 cup butter

Juice of half a lemon

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For the pimenton sauce, saute the onion and garlic in a medium sauce pan, with butter,  until blanched. Add in the paprika, water, bay leaf, lemon juice, and salt. let that simmer for about 10 minutes. Turn the heat to medium high and whisk in the flour. Once the mixture has thickened, blend it with a hand blender or regular blender until smooth. Let it cool and serve.

Putting it all together

Preheat the oven to 375. Rinse the couscous and place it in a lightly oiled roasting pan. Mix in the turmeric, cinnamon, salt, and baharat spice. Spread the onion, garlic and raisins over the, and gently mix. Pour the chicken broth over the top, and and place the hens over the couscous. Melt the butter, mix in the lemon and pimenton sauce, and baste the hens with it. Pop that in the oven, baste it every half hour with the pimenton sauce mixture, and add water to the couscous as needed. Bake it for 1 1/2 hours or until the legs easily break away from the body. Once its out of the oven, fluff the couscous and place the hens on top.

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Filed under Exotic meats, Holiday foods, poultry

A Cranberry Liqueur. Booze to make your Guests Smooze

So, my mom is cooler than me. I’m sure I’ve stated it before, and I’ll probably state it again. For the last few falls shes been making me peach liqueur, and blueberry liqueur. Both of which last me a few weeks, and then I have to go over and make one of the the worlds most distraught face, as I tell her that I couldn’t help myself, and I drank it. ( I really did lose it this time I swear!!) So now, in order to get as many cool points as my dear mom, I’ve been trying my hand at making liqueurs this holiday season. For Thanksgiving it was pumpkin spice, now that we’ve hit Christmas I made a delightful cranberry. They make easy gifts for drinkers, and can act as a fantastic liquid lubricant for any slow party, especially if you use everclear!

 

12 oz fresh cranberries

Juice and zest of 1 orange

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 gallon Vodka or Everclear

1 cup more sugar for later

In a medium sized pot, add orange juice, zest and sugar. Turn the heat to medium low, and let the sugar disolve into the orange juice. Throw in a light splash of water, and add in the cranberries, Stew them down to where they’ve burst, and are becoming almost like homemade cranberry sauce. Set them aside to cool for 30 minutes. Separate your cranberry into 4 different containers, (I use mason jars) and add in the vodka. Store it in a cool, dark place for 2-4 weeks. When your time is up, strain the cranberries out, and add in 1/4 cup of sugar into each jar, and let is sit for one to two more weeks, giving it the occasional shake as you go. When the time comes, break it out, give it one last shake for good measure, and pour over ice, or mix it with 7 up for a tasty treat!

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Poultry, Pork and Dairy! What Else Could Be More Merry!?

Sometimes you have to torture a chicken in order to get some really good grub. Have you ever considered what the chicken would say if it knew that after it died, you were going to take one of what could have been its babies, stir it around in a bowl, and then dip the chickens dead carcass in it? Wars have been started for less. Its so disrespectful…. and delicious. I made chicken cordon bleu tonight. Its comfort food. And on the darkest day of the year, you really just need to curl up with some tasty food and a nice strong drink. Chicken breasts are notoriously dry. We’ve taken care of that this evening by giving it the beating of a lifetime, and adding in flavor with vinegar, lemon juice and salt.

4 chicken breasts

1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar

Juice of 1 lemon

4 slices of ham

4 slices of swiss cheese

1 cup finely grated gruyere cheese

1 tsp lemon zest

1/4 cup flour

1 cup panko bread crumbs

2 eggs

Salt

Pepper

1 cup oil

Place the chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap, and give them a good bashing until they are about 1/2 inch thick. Place the breasts in a bowl or ziploc bag, and add in the balsamic, lemon juice, and salt. Coat each piece, cover it, and let it sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes. While that is sitting, whisk your eggs in a bowl. Then mix together flour, panko, lemon zest, and half the Gruyere cheese on a plate and set it aside. Heat up your oven to 400 degrees, and place oil in a pan and heat it to medium high. (I didn’t use an exact temperature, because at this point you’re just making the panko a bit more crispy). Remove the chicken from the fridge, and pat it dry.  In the center of each breast  place a tablespoon+ of grated Gruyere, a slice of aged Swiss, and then a slice of ham. When the ham is on the top it will stop the cheese from oozing out from the edges of the chicken….SCIENCE! Fold the edges of the chicken inward, and secure them with a toothpick or string. Dredge each piece of chicken in the egg, and coat it liberally in the panko mixture. Place the breasts in the pan and fry on each side for 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and place on a wire rack over a baking sheet and add a sprinkling of sea salt immediately. Pop them in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the internal temperature is 165. Remove from the oven, let it sit for 10 minutes, and dig in.

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Hydroponics! How I spent my low census day!

I saw an indoor herb farm on here the other night and thought to myself, Ooooh holy hell! I need to get on amazon, and buy that RIGHT friggin NOW!  As I search amazon for the best price, the hydro kit that I keep forgetting about shined a little brighter in its corner of the plant room. Sure, every few months I take it out, dig through it, and question what I should put in it. We have a TON of succulents, But they are in a sense the worlds most virile plants. Sometimes when I’m trimming them I stick the leaves in the dirt, and a few weeks later after I have forgotten about them as well, I find them rooted, and beginning to spring up fresh leaves. How ever, being that I am on a fresh herb kick, and that my mothers house was brimming with fresh growth, I decided to pick a few clones and plop them in my kit. After about 10 daunting minutes it was all set up, PH tested, plant food added and spirting water.

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Olaf even stopped by to check out the sprouts. He managed to abscond with a few of them before I was able to get them into the little pots. 

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Now I’m not saying I cant grow herbs on my own, I’ve just had a crappy track record thus far. My little baby pots have begun to sprout, at least some tiny tiny parsley, and some oregano. Still no sign of my basil, and the thyme only has a few meager sprouts. Only time will tell. A watched planter never sprouts!! 

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Creamy Italian Sausage and Kale Soup

Kale is one of the latest and greatest super foods. It lowers cholesterol, fights heart disease, cancer, and is a wonderful source of potassium. However, It tastes kind of like spinach had a torrid love affair with thistle, and together they made a bastard, misshapen little gargoyle of a love child, kale. Its quite tough, not quite like eating a thistle, but really rather rough in texture. Don’t let that put you off. There are many, many ways to beat it into shape.

You can can eat it plain in a salad, bake it into chips, massage it with olive oil and a vinegar (no really give it a loving rub down, it will soften it) saute it with any flavor you want it to pick up, and unlike spinach, it won’t wilt into a stringy mess. This weekend, I tossed it into a soup.

1 lb Ground Italian sausage

6 slices of chopped thick cut bacon

1 chopped raw onion

5 cloves of minced garlic,

1 potato

2 sticks of celery

4 cups chicken broth

Juice of one lemon

1 cup mushrooms

1 cup cannellini beans

1 cup cherry tomatoes

3 or 4 sprigs of fresh thyme

2 tbsp fresh oregano

1 tbsp chili peppers

1 cup heavy cream

several leaves of fresh purple kale

Brown your sausage meat with bacon, onions, garlic and mushrooms. Add the chicken broth herbs, celery, herbs, chili peppers, beans and potatos. Let that simmer for approximately 30 minutes (until the potatoes are soft). Toss in the tomatoes and let the soup simmer until the cherries split. Add in your heavy cream, let it simmer for a few minutes and stir in your kale until it softens.

Serve it up with some fresh grated Parmesan and enjoy!

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Pho King Delicious

I woke up last weekend with a fire under me, and decided to make  pho.  A lovely Vietnamese dish, with a beautiful French twist.  France has a unique global history of occupation, and culinary influence, that can be seen all over the world from their many conquests. Pho being one of those diamonds glistening in the rough of their occupation of Vietnam.  My favorite part of pho, is it’s depth of flavors. Meaty broths mixed with the sweet scents of spices, and bold taste of the fresh herbs and lime.  Before I started I figured it was going to be easy enough to make in about an hour, until I caught wind of the fact that I wasn’t just sticking some bullion cubes into a pot. I would be simmering down meat and bone, extracting the amazing flavor of beef from the soul of the cow (Cow souls are delicious. It was a lengthy process).

Ingredients: For Broth

1lb ox tail

1 beef shank

 2 or 3 beef shin bone cuts

1 onion halfed and seared

1 large knuckle of ginger, seared

2 tbsp salt

2 heaped table spoons of granulated sugar (or if you can find them white sugar rocks)

Aproximately

10 Star anise seed pods

1 tsp fennel seeds

2 cinnamon sticks

5 cloves

2 cardamom pods (black cardamom if you can find it)

2 whole nutmeg seeds

For soup preparation

Thai Basil Leaves

Cilantro

Green onion

White onions

Lime

Chilis

Bean sprouts

Rice noodles

Your finely sliced meat of choice

Hoisin sauce

Sriracha

I set to work researching to create the most flavorful broth I could find. I chose ox tail, shin bone and beef shank for my meats.  The key to starting your pho is searing  in flavors. I threw my shank and my ox tail in to an empty pot on high,  and cooked them on both sides.  I then added the shin, and filled my pot with water, left the stove on high, and boiled out all the impurities. Pho should be clear.  Once your hot beef water gets several mounds of frothy nastiness on it (after about 10 to 15 minutes of boiling) empty out your pot and wash all of your bones off. This takes away most of what will cause that murky appearance to your broth. Hopefully. One other thing that will give you an edge, is maintaining a very light simmer after your second boiling, and NOT stirring it.  Fill your pot again, add approximately 2 tablespoons of salt and boil for another 10 minutes, continuing to ladle off anymore meat sludge that chooses to surface.  Drop your heat to a low simmer, and add  seared onions and ginger. I used my butane torch for the searing. The torch is not only entertaining, but actually quite effective at this task.  Walk away at this point for no less than 5 hours.  What you should return to is a thick stew. Remove your bones and meats, and strain your broth.  I became concerned about the amount of fat glistening across the surface. I weighed my options, and thought that the fridge would be my best bet to make the fats, and other tidbits rise up and solidify.

I woke up the next morning, and peered into my bowl, initially excited to see that the fat had indeed risen to the surface. My next surprise was that I had created a  bowl of gelatinous meat goo, or beef consomme. After scraping off my fat, I threw it back into a pot, and added several cups of water. Next came toasted spices. Star anise, cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg seeds, fennel, whole black cardamom and a few tablespoons of sugar. (If you can get your hot little hands on white sugar rock I recommend going that route. It is usually available in Asian markets.) These toasted tidbits should simmer for about an hour or two. Finally it was time to strain it one last time through a cheese cloth (french for paper towel). This was my last effort to really clarify my broth. It worked quite well.

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I served it up with my favorite seafood, herbs, jalapenos, and  lime, and pondered over the all of the new recipes I could try with my new found friend, beef consomme.

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