6.30.2008

The Reddest Prairie of All...




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.

6.15.2008

Camembert, Radish, and Sweet Corn Cakes



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.



1 cup sweet corn
4 radishes, finely chopped
2 oz. Camembert
1/2 cup panko flakes
1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste


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.



6.08.2008

Truffles


Truffles, originally uploaded by six course dinner.



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:


Peanut Butter Cayenne
Rosemary
Cardamom
and, Mystery....

The 'Mystery' truffles aren't exactly the stuff of Sherlock Holmes. I wanted to identify what kinds of truffles they all were, but leave the last one a surprise. What was the surprise? A whole, fresh blueberry wrapped in the ganache. A nice and juicy surprise!

The recipe I used was from the great Alton Brown, which can be found here.

6.03.2008

Chocolate and Brioche Sandwiches with Sesame Crème Anglaise




People who know me will tell you that I am not one for sweet desserts, and even so, dessert itself doesn't even cross my mind frequently. But, you can't serve your friends a meal that doesn't have at least a little something sweet at the end. However, I still refuse to accept that after slowly building up to the main course, one should switch directly to something sweet. So I try to add one 'savory' ingredient into my desserts. This one uses chocolate, but also brioche and sesame. I remember reading somewhere that, "Good bread deserves good chocolate." I can't say I remember who wrote it, but I certainly agree!

This was inspired by a link I saw on Tastespotting. I finally found it again this morning, so check out the original at What Geeks Eat.
 




12 slices of brioche, cut to the same size
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate
1 cup light cream
2 tbsp plus 2 tsp sugar
2 large egg yolks, beaten
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
tahini, to taste


In a sauce pan, bring cream, sugar, and vanilla to just below the boiling point. Mix a few tablespoons of cream mixture into egg yolk and whisk to temper the eggs. Be careful not to cook the eggs. Gently add a little more until eggs are tempered. Return mixture to the sauce pan and bring back to just below the boiling point. Cook until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Cool to room temperature before chilling in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

In a double boiler, heat chocolate until thoroughly melted. Spread mixture over each slice of brioche and then stack slices into sandwiches and set aside until almost ready to serve. Toast in a toaster oven until chocolate begin to melt and the brioche is nicely browned and crispy. Do not toast too long: brioche burns easily.

Remove creme and stir in a tablespoon of tahini, adding more to taste.  Spoon some sauce onto a plate and top with brioche sandwich.



Photo by Gino Molfino. Thanks, Gino.

Trout with Manchego, Mustard Sauce




The main course of my recent big dinner composed of trout with a Manchego and mustard sauce. The fillets of trout were briefly cooked right before being served with risotto cakes and a watercress and apple salad.

The Trout

6 small trout fillets, about 6 oz. each
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp mustard
3 tbsp grated Manchego cheese
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

In a sauce pan, heat butter over medium heat until it justs starts to begin to brown. Whisk in flour, stirring constantly to make a roux. Cook over gentle heat until all flour taste has been cooked out. Stir in milk, Manchego, and mustard and combine. Season with salt and pepper and reduce heat to lowest setting and start to prepare the fish.

Remove any pin bones and season fish.  Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute fish skin side down for two minutes. Gently flip fish over and continue cooking down, about another two minutes. (Adjust accordingly for thicker fish: 8 minutes total cooking time for each inch of thickness.)

Serve topped with sauce.

Risotto Cakes

1 cup arborio rice
2 tbsp butter
3 cups vegetable stock
2 cups white wine
1 shallot, chopped
1 tbsp Gorgonzola cheese
1 tbsp chives, finely chopped
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
canola oil for frying
salt and pepper, to taste

Bring vegetable stock and white wine to a strong simmer.

In a large pot, gently cook shallots in butter until they are just done. Add rice and cook for one more minute. Add one ladle of stock to the rice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat on the rice to a simmer, adding another ladle of stock each time the rice absorbs all the liquid. Continue to do so, whole stirring the rice occasionally, until rice is still slightly al dente. Stir in Gorgonzola and chives. Move rice to a half sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Spread evenly and allow to cool before chilling in the refrigerator until ready to fry.

In a fry pan, bring one 1/2 inch of oil to 375F. Beat eggs in a small bowl, and place flour in a bowl next to it. Remove risotto from the refrigerator and cut into even squares. Dip each square first in the egg and then the flour, coating thoroughly. Fry on each side until golden brown. Drain on a cooling rack.

Watercress and Apple Salad

1 bunch watercress, washed and dried thoroughly
1 apple, preferably Stayman
olive oil
lemon juice
fresh ground black pepper

Slice apple into thin slices and combine with watercress. Top with olive oil, lemon juice, and black pepper.



Photo by Gino Molfino. Thanks, Gino.



6.01.2008

Baked Lemon with Mozzarella and Mushroom Crostini



These are not entirely my idea. I'm man enough to admit that.

I first read about baking mozzarella in the rind of a lemon over at Totally Addicted to Taste a few months ago. And I was intrigued. But, not really being an anchovie fan (at least yet...) I began to think about how to change the dish. While I still think I could have done a little bit better, these turned out to me a great starter. 

By the way, Adski at Totally Addicted to Taste is also manly enough to show you where he got the idea.

Here's my version:


6 lemons, halved and flesh removed
1 lbs fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes
6 cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
3 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
12 slices good rustic bread, toasted
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 300F. Heat oil in a saute pan over medium low heat and cook shallots until just translucent. Add mushrooms and cook for five minutes. Remove from heat and mix with parley and mozzarella. Season to taste and spoon into lemon shells. Place on a baking sheet and bake until mozzarella has thoroughly melted.

Remove from oven and serve with toasted bread, spreading cheese over the bread.


Photo by Kyle Van Horn. Thanks, Kyle.

Red Pepper and Yogurt Soup with Grapes and Horseradish




Grapes and horseradish? In the same dish? I know, they are primarily a garnish, but, are you serious?

Hell yeah, I am serious. And seriously delighted with how this refreshing soup came out. I served it warm, but I bet it is equally as good cold. Aside from roasting the red peppers, this could be a really great dish for those summer days when you would just hate to cook something. This is a variation on an interesting soup I found at Nami-Nami.


3 red bell peppers, seeded and quartered
1 cup plain yogurt
3 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp olive oil
3 red seedless grapes, sliced into incredibly thin rounds
fresh grated horseradish, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste


Preheat oven to 400F. Coat peppers in olive oil and season with a little salt. Place on a baking sheet and roast until soft. Remove from oven and place in a paper bag. Roll openning of bag down to close. The residual heat of the peppers with create a little steam, making it very easy to slip off the skins.

Chop peppers finely place in a saucepan with stock over medium heat. Simmer gently for 20 minutes. In a large bowl, add 1/4 cup of plain yogurt and one ladle's worth of soup, stirring quickly to combine without curdling the yogurt.  Repeat until all yogurt has been combined and then blend well in a food processor. Season to taste and keep warm until ready to serve.

Garnish with a few slices of grapes and freshly grated horseradish to taste.


Photo by Kyle Van Horn. Thanks, Kyle.