I've never wanted to be a test pilot. Nor a daredevil. Or even a tightrope walker. Nope. Not once. I've never been one to really risk my life for 'the thrill'. But, do I live dangerously? Maybe...
You see, I have no problem with eating a little bit of raw meat. Of course, I don't make it a regular event. And while most people don't have a problem with eating sushi, they have a very hard time understanding why anyone would like to eat red meat without any application of heat. Raw meat actually tastes very good and has a very 'clean' quality.
Of course, I cannot say that eating raw meat is for everybody. Pregnant women, for example, should avoid eating any meat that is undercooked. Check out some safety tips before deciding whether or not eating raw meat is for you. Always make sure you are getting your meat as fresh as possible from a respectable source.
Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a 2 quart saucepan. Seperate the yolk from the egg white and gently drop into the water. Cook for 30 seconds maximum and gently remove from the water. Place the yolk in the remaining cold water to stop the cooking process.
Finely mince lamb, cutting across the grain, into 1/4" cubes. Combine with habanero, salt, and pepper. Place egg yolk on top and serve.
Sometimes a little decadence doesn't hurt. Especially, when the temperature outside begins to drop. When cold weather starts to seep into my bones, rich and comforting food is the only thing on the brain.
With that in mind, I present this humble bread pudding. Not just for dessert, bread pudding can make a great savory meal to enjoy with friends. A little know-how is all you need for this dish. It is very, very easy to make and the end result is overwhelmingly satisfying. Here's how:
Begin by soaking the mushrooms in enough warm water to cover. Let the mushrooms rehydrate for at least 30 minutes. Drain the mushrooms, but reserve the water. Squeeze the excess water from the mushrooms and cut into strips. Preheat oven to 375°F.
In a large bowl, combine mushrooms, bread, rosemary, salt, pepper, milk, and eggs. Stir to combine well. Grease the inside of your cooking vessel (loaf pan, small casserole, or any other ovenproof dish) with butter. Pour mixture in and roughly level the surface. Place the entire cooking vessel inside a larger casserole dish. In the larger casserole dish, add enough water to come up to the same level as the bread pudding. Slide the whole thing into the oven and bake for 30 min, or until done. You can check by inserting the tip of a knife into the pudding. If it comes out clean, you are done.
While the pudding is in the oven, turn your attention to the reserved mushroom-infused water. Take the water and begin to reduce it on the stove. The amount of time spent on reducing will depend on how much water you used originally. Reduce until it is just a few tablespoons. Stir in the butter until well melted. Pour with over the pudding just before serving. Garnish with a little parsley and serve.
A few weeks ago, I purchased a pressure cooker. With the colder months around the corner, the thought of making homemade stocks for winter soups had my mind spinning with ideas. But all those ideas unfortunately came to halt when I realized exactly how many hours I would have multiple gallons of liquid sitting at a simmer on my meager stove. Having not yet found that particular tree on which dollar bills blossom forth, my plans were set back until I could find a quicker and more energy efficient method of simmering. Enter the pressure cooker. What would normally take 6-8 hours on the stove can be accomplished in under one hour in a pressure cooker. You can read all about pressure cookers and their benefits here.
In addition to stocks, I also began to get excited about soaking my own beans. During the fall and winter months, I tend to gravitate towards a bowl full of legumes after I get home from work. They are the perfect winter food. So, to test out my new-fangled pressure cooker, I started soaking some navy beans.
Navy beans need to be soaked for at least four hours prior to cooking. It is very important to not add any salt during the soaking or cooking process. While we are leaving salt out, let's leave out anything acidic as well (wine, vinegar, lemon juice, tomatoes, etc.). They can all be added in after cooking. Once the beans are soaked, they only take 12-13 minutes in the pressure cooker, compared to between 1 and 1 1/2 hours on the stove.
In a large bowl, soak beans in several quarts of water. Remember that the beans will double, even triple in size. Make sure you have enough water. Soak for at least four hours, changing the water halfway through. Drain beans and add to the pressure cooker, along with the stock, sprigs of oregano, and shallot. Once the cooker is brought up to full pressure, cook for 13 minutes. Consult your manual before using your pressure cooker!
When time is up, release pressure through the pressure release valve. Stand back as to not get burned by the steam. Take a few ladle fulls of beans and stock and place in a saute pan over medium heat. (Save the remainder of the beans to eat at a later date). Whisk in butter until combined. Season the fish with salt, pepper, and chopped oregano and place gently on top of the beans. Cover and gently simmer for five minutes. Flip the fish and cover and cook for four more minutes. Remove fish from heat and continue simmering stock and reduce until it starts to thicken. Taste and season with salt and pepper appropriately.
It was recently pointed out to me that I have been severely behind in posting on this blog. Of course, I had many reasons for my lack of presence on the web lately: too busy, too hot, visiting Portland, too hot, not cooking a lot lately, and finally, too hot. But in the end, I have no good excuse. So, I'm back. (Thanks for the nudge, Rachel.)
As summer draws to a close, and as Tropical Storm Hanna tries to blow down my house, I offer this simple late summer/early fall soup. It is quite easy to make and I can attest to it's comforting powers on rainy days. Plus, like all good soups, it will fill your home with its wonderful aroma.
Preheat oven to 375F. In an ovenproof casserole, drizzle olive oil over cauliflower and onion and roast until golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. Empty casserole dish into large stock pot and add stock, peppercorns, bay leaves, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer gently for 20 minutes, removing any scum that might float to the surface. Add cream, and lemon juice and stir to combine. Blend with an immersion blender, or blend in a food processor until smooth. Season to taste.
Ladle into heated bowls and add smoked salmon. Garnish with finely chopped parsely and a pinch of smoked paprika.
Although ice and fruit juice have been dessert buddies for centuries, I didn't get into making sorbet until very recently. Easier to make than regular ice cream, sorbet might be voted the official refreshing dessert of summer. And who could complain?
This sorbet matches the ultra-summery watermelon with a hint of spice through the addition of curry powder. An unusual combination indeed, but it might have you look beyond the simple slices of watermelon provided at picnics.
Combine all ingredients, except for vodka, in a wide skillet over medium low heat. Gently heat, stirring to combine. Adjust sugar and curry levels as needed. Do not bring to a boil, but simmer until sugar is absorbed. (If very watery, you could always cook a little longer to get rid of excess moisture.)
Remove from heat, allowing to cool to room temperature. Tranfser to freezer-safe dish/bowl. Stir in vodka and place in freezer. Check every two hours, scraping with an overturned fork until desired consistency is reached.
When I started this little blog, I decided it would focus on food. Especially on the cooking of food. But specifically, the direct relationship of cooking and then completely devouring said food.
But, I would like to take a moment for a quick plug that can help everyone. I'm not in advertising or have any background in marketing, but here's my pitch. Don't laugh. I actually thought hard about it. Ready? Okay. Here I go:
People like to eat and go out to eat. They like to go to restaurants. Most restaurants have a "No Shirt? No Shoes? No Service." policy.
Red Prairie Press, run by the ridiculously awesome Rachel Bone, will gladly help you out with the "No Shirt" part. Which means, buying awesome apparel from her can actually help get you into that exclusive restaurant. So swing by her website before you swing by the restaurant and you won't be turned away!
...unless you have no shoes.
Summer is offically here on Friday, but corn season is well underway. I will gladly admit that I actually believe I could live solely on good corn for months without fail. And while my preferred preparation of this delicious grass (seriously, corn is a grass) is straight off of the grill, my current lack of a backyard leaves that barbecued treat a wonderful but distant memory.
Instead, I offer this alternative corn dish. This combination of peppery radish, milky Camembert, and pleasantly sweet sweet corn is texturally not unlike another local favorite in these parts: the crab cake.
In a bowl, mix corn, radish, Camembert, and parsley. Taste and season accordingly with salt and pepper. Add egg and panko flakes and mix thoroughly. Add more panko flakes if mixture is still too loose. Refrigerate for one hour.
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Gently form mixture into five small patties and fry for two minutes on one side, or until golden brown. Repeat on otherside until sufficently browned. Serve with a small garnish of parsley.
A friend moved away last week and I promised to make some truffles as a going away gift. It was warm out when I made them and the heat combined with chocolate's relatively low melting point in such a way as to define their somewhat 'unique' shapes. Upon their completion, I decided that until someone sponsors me for central air conditioning, truffles shall remain cool weather food.
Regardless of temperature, truffles are actually very easy to make. And once you've made them a few times you can really explore different flavorings. These ones are, from front to back:
The recipe I used was from the great Alton Brown, which can be found here.
A surprisingly delicious dish that would be a great addition to any meal. The slight sweet and musky flavor of the vanilla plays well against the roasted potatoes and silky artichokes. A little lightly smoked gruyère cheese and alleppo pepper round out the dish.
Preheat oven to 400F. Place potatoes in a large skillet with vanilla bean pods and teaspoon salt with just enough water to cover. Bring water to a boil and simmer until water has evaporated off. Add 1 tbsp olive oil and brown potatoes.
Meanwhile, in a baking dish, place artichoke bottoms, vanilla bean "seeds", gruyère cheese, and 1 tbsp olive oil. Bake for 30 minutes. Add potatoes to oven as well if they are not done.
After 30 minutes, remove from oven and season to taste. Plate with remaining olive oil and garnish with alleppo pepper.
I just love these little egg cups. They are perfect for something small with a lot of flavor. In the past they have held soups, broths, and even juices. In fact, I don't think I have ever even used them for eggs (maybe that needs to change...).
I wanted to serve something different just before the main course of my recent big dinner and I thought a savory mousse would be an unexpected and delicious idea.
Inspired by another savoury mousse recipe in the wonderful Spanish cooking tome 1080 Recipes.
In a food processor, process peas until smooth. Add mayonnaise and process further until smooth.
Add gelatin to boiling water to dissolve and then add a little bit at a time to pea/mayo mixture. Mix well until smooth, adding chervil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Pour into serving vessel, in this case I used egg cups. Garnish with chervil and refridgerate for at least two hours or until set.
Because of my apartment's, well, let's just say climate control issues, I can only usually do this type of thing in the spring and fall. I'm hoping to maybe get another one in before summer's long days have a chance to destroy all will desire to even go near an oven. Enough chit chat, here's the menu:
I - Lemon Baked Mozzarella and Mushroom Crostini
II - Red Pepper and Yogurt Soup with Grapes and Horseradish
III - Artichoke and Potato with Gruyere, Vanilla, and Alleppo Pepper
IV - Pea and Chervil Mousse
V - Trout with Mustard Manchego Bechamel, Risotto Cakes, Apple, and Watercress
VI - Grilled Chocolate Brioche with Sesame Cream
Judging by the very clean plates (before they were even anywhere near the sink) I think I did well. The Artichoke and Potato was probably the hit, which I am very pleased about. I think it was my favorite as well. Recipes will all be up shortly. And thanks to my guests for bring great wine, big smiles, and empty bellies. You are awesome.
After reading about making deep dish pizza in a cast iron skillet at Everybody Likes Sandwiches, I knew I had to give it a try. Such a great idea for making a quick dinner with plenty of left overs for lunch. (Unless of course breakfast wins out. I tend to believe that pizza may be at its prime first thing in the morning.) I decided to load my pizza up with asparagus and broccoli, two vegetables I have been craving lately. Mixed in you will find tomatos, shallots, and a healthy dose of farmers cheese as well. Great suggestion on the cheese!
I started off cooking the broccoli and asparagus with a little sherry and a splash of soy sauce until they just started to get tender. While I shredded the cheese, I preheated the oven to 475F. The dough was stretched to fit into an oiled cast iron skillet. Then the toppings went in just before the skillet went in the oven.
Thirty minutes later (20 to bake and 10 to cool - cast iron really holds its heat!) I dug into some very tasty deep dish. Nothing like what you can find in Chicago, but still pretty damn good.
Unfortunately, it was so good I forgot to take an 'after' photo. Just Imagine the above with nice golden melted cheese and perfect crust and you've got the idea.
Cook bacon in a large saucepan until crispy over medium heat. Add butter and garlic and cook until just before garlic starts to take on any color. Pour in sherry and rosewater. Bring to a boil and add crushed red pepper. Reduce to a simmer and add mussels. Cook, covered, until mussels have opened. Move mussels to a bowl. Season broth to taste (if too salty from the bacon, a good squirt of honey is a nice touch). Ladle broth over mussels and garnish with parsley.
Did I mention it was for 30 people? A new personal record. Everything turned out really well. I have mention that none of this would have ever been even near possible without my good friend Evan, who worked on this menu for many hours, bought a ton of groceries, and with whom it was an absolute pleasure to cook alongside again. And also to Kyle, who took the photo at the top of this post as well as risked permanently dying his hands red as he sliced the beets. Well done, Kyle.
And thanks to all who showed up! I'm so glad to be able to share what I love with so many great friends all at one time!
We've spent our time honing in on our recipes; perfecting our ideas to the point where we are very happy with what we have come up with. I don't want to give too many details away, but there will be four courses all which will progressively exhibit our delight for springtime.
I will post some photos and recipes after the dinner. Stay tuned.