Monday, March 31, 2008

Chicken & Veal Burgers

This was a surprisingly delicious combination of meat-- lean ground chicken breast and tasty ground veal. Jesse smothered his (above) in bacon & cheese, and stuffed the sandwich with avocado and hot sauce. I made mine (below) like last month's stuffed turkey burgers, but stuffed them with cheese (firecracker cheddar) and jalapeno slices, which I also put on top.

Into the 1/2lb chicken & 1/2lb veal went minced shallots, jalapeno, and garlic.

We ate these with simple baked sweet potato fries:

and a seriously good version of a basic cabbage salad. The secret ingredient...


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Lamb and Kale Quesadilla

Ok, I know it sounds weird, but believe me, this was really tasty, and sooo easy. I had some frozen ground lamb in the freezer and didn't even wait for it to defrost; it just thawed as it cooked in the pan.

You'll need:

2 tortillas
1/4 lb ground lamb
1/4 bunch kale (I used about 7 leafy stems)
2 shallots, sliced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1t cumin
1/2t cayenne
grated cheese (I used firecracker cheddar on one side, sharp cheddar on the other)
a little chopped red onion for garnish
a small handful of parsley, chopped

Saute shallots in a little oil; when the shallots turn translucent, add lamb, salt, pepper, cumin and cayenne. When lamb browns, add garlic, kale, and a little liquid-- wine, broth, water, whatever you have. Cover and cook until kale wilts. Stir in chopped parsley

Pass tortillas over gas flame to brown (or stick them in a hot oven). Cover with grated cheese and place, cheese side up, under the broiler for 30 seconds to melt cheese.

Spread lamb on one tortilla; sprinkle with red onion; place other tortilla on top, cheese side down. Serve with salsa or even a yogurt sauce.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Grilled Garlic Rosemary Pork Tenderloin with Pomegranate Spice Gravy and Wild Rice Pilaf

Jesse attacked his plate before I could get a good picture in. There are a lot of recipes on this post, so bear with me. The Pomegranate Spice Gravy is a delicious, and potentially vegetarian, sauce that can be drizzled over anything-- fish, chicken, rice-- to add flavor and sticky goodness. This time I went for pomegranate juice instead of molasses to cut down on the sweetness a bit. But first: the pork tenderloin.

Grilled Garlic Rosemary Pork Tenderloin

This is so quick and easy, and uses minimal ingredients. You'll need:

1 pork tenderloin, silverskin & any fat removed with a sharp knife
1T chopped fresh rosemary
3 garlic cloves, cut lengthwise into slivers
1t good olive oil

Rub the tenderloin with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Make little slits with a sharp knife and insert garlic slivers (make sure they're fully inserted or they'll fall out while cooking). Now, if you happen to have an electric grill with an aroma diffuser (hey, I do), put your rosemary in the diffuser with 1/2c water. If not, rub the rosemary all over the pork. Put the pork on a very hot grill or barbecue and cook 8-10 min/side, until a thermometer reads 140 degrees. Remove from heat and let sit as long as you can stand (ideally 10 minutes) before slicing, against the grain, into 1/4-1/2 inch slices.

Wild Rice Pilaf

This is Jesse's mom's recipe, and it's delicious. We used a wild rice combo (it's cheaper and more colorful!). And, by the way, wild rice is not rice, but aquatic grass.

You'll need:

1c wild rice
2c beef broth (or chicken or veggie broth)
1 large shallot, minced
6 cremini mushrooms, minced
1 medium red onion, minced
2 stalks celery, minced
2T butter

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute all veggies together for about 7 minutes, until mushrooms give off their liquid. Add rice and saute to coat grains; add broth, bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until tender and liquid is absorbed, about 1 hour. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, 10 minutes. Fluff and serve.

Pomegranate Spice Gravy

topped with marrow-- see below

The word "gravy" here might be a bit misleading-- this sauce is more syrupy in consistency. It's based on this recipe.

You'll need:

4 veal bones, optional
1 large onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
6 garlic cloves, smashed & roughly chopped
1 3-inch piece ginger, peeled and cut into disks
2 star anise
1 stick cinnamon
2t black peppercorns
2c red wine
2c unsweetened pomegranate juice
1/2c *low sodium* soy sauce
2t fish sauce
2t hoisin sauce
1T dark brown sugar
1T Wondra flour (or 1t cornstarch dissolved in 1t warm water)

First step, optional: Wash, dry, and salt the bones. Brown them in a dutch oven in very hot grapeseed oil. Remove & set aside. Lower heat to medium.

In the same oil, add onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Saute 15-20 minutes. Add ginger, star anise, cinnamon and peppercorns. Return bones to pot if using. Add all liquids (wine, pomegranate juice, soy sauce, fish sauce and hoisin). Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Check for sweetness; add 1T brown sugar if necessary. Keep cooking, covered, as long as you want.

this is what you take out
notice the tasty marrow in the bones...

About 15 minutes before serving, remove bones, anise and cinnamon. Run mixture through a food mill (or just strain through a fine mesh strainer) and return to pot. Sprinkle in Wondra flour, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil and cook until it's as thick as you want it, probably about 3 minutes.

Roasted Brocccoli

to interested parties:
we drank a delicious 2004 Poppy Pinot

This is the easiest, and tastiest, way to cook broccoli. You can also do this with cauliflower. Just cut into florets, toss with olive oil and coarse salt, and roast at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. We made this the other day and had to make another batch because we ate it before sitting down to dinner-- it's that good.

Frittata Sandwich

I am back from short my blogging break with a quick snapshot of what I've been eating this week: leftovers, like the frittata sandwich above, made from fromage fort, spread on each side of baguette and broiled, a piece of leftover frittata, lettuce & tomatoes. Here's the frittata recipe, from a few months ago. To this one, I added parsley & red onions. Green onions would be even better.

Katie, Karen & I also made a very delicious dinner of olive & lemon stuffed chicken breasts coated in a honey truffle mustard & panko crust, baked in a mushroom onion ragout, with toasted almond, lemon, and black pepper orzo. But the pictures got stuck on Katie's camera. Oh well.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Fromage Fort

As my 100th blog post (!!), this is dedicated to what I am proud to call my favorite food: CHEESE. From Camembert to Montagnolo, La Pyramide to Gruyere, Brillat Savarin, Feta, Bucheron, Sharp Cheddar, Brie de Meaux, Parmesan, Raclette, Epoisses, Fougerus, Reblochon-- you get the idea: I love cheese. The Cheeseboard (conveniently located four blocks from my apartment) is my favorite store. Even the Fromageries in Paris can't compete with the Cheeseboard's selection and generosity (I am slightly ashamed to admit how long I stand there, tasting cheese, each time I go in). I always end up with quite a variety in my fridge, and I am usually loath to eat the last of any particularly delicious cheesy morsel. Apparently, other people feel the same way; thus, the birth of Fromage Fort, essentially a puree of your leftover cheese bits, magically reconstituted into a tasty spread that is divine spread on bread and stuck under the broiler until bubbly and brown. This is the closest to eating "processed" cheese I have, and will, ever come.

I use Jacques Pepin's recipe-- appropriate to this "homage" post, since he is my favorite recipe writer of all time.

You'll need:

about 1/2 lb cheese bits
1 clove garlic
1/4c dry white wine (I use vermouth)
lots of black pepper

Throw it all into the food processor and process until smooth. Taste and add salt if necessary (if you used strong enough cheese, you shouldn't need salt). Your mixture should look like this:

You can keep this in a container in the fridge for weeks. As I said, it's really good on toast, either plain or broiled. You can also top it with olives. Yum.

Also, as this is my 100th post, and I never thought I'd make it this far, I want to thank my readers (I know there are at least 7 of you), and say that even though this was never supposed to be a public blog, it's been wonderful to get your comments and feedback, and even to work on the quality of my photos (though this post's pictures are distinctly monochrome and unappetizing). Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Chicken in Smoky Pomegranate Sauce

This sauce is insanely delicious-- spicy and smoky from the chipotles, and tangy and sweet from the pomegranate molasses. Don't be put off by the long list of ingredients; it's ok to leave some out, and this is really easy once you have everything chopped and the chicken cleaned.

You'll need:

chicken thighs, bone-in (2 per person; I made 6)-- remove the skin & all visible fat
2 thick slices bacon, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 anchovies, chopped
1/2 head garlic, peeled & sliced
2T tomato paste
1T fresh thyme, chopped (or 1t dried)
1t herbes de provence
2 chipotles in adobo, roughly chopped
2T soy sauce
1c red wine
1/2-1c chicken broth
1/3c pomegranate molasses

Prepare all ingredients first (chop, clean, etc).

Put bacon pieces in a cold pan. Turn the heat to low and slowly render the fat. When the pieces are crispy, remove them with a slotted spatula and set aside.

Salt and pepper chicken thighs. Dust well with flour. Turn up heat so bacon fat is hot; add chicken thighs, former skin side down. Brown well; this will take about 7-10 minutes. Turn them and briefly brown the other side. Don't burn the pan; add more oil if you need. Remove browned thighs and set aside.

Turn down heat. Add onion, carrot, celery, garlic, anchovies, salt and pepper. Stir until soft and the bottom of the pan is clean, about 10-15 minutes.

Add wine and cook until you can't smell the alcohol anymore. In the meantime, add tomato paste, thyme, herbes de provence, soy sauce, chipotles with their sauce, and return the bacon to the pan. When the alcohol has burned off, add the chicken, former skin side up, and add enough broth to come halfway up the thighs (their tops should not be covered). Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook about 45 minutes, until chicken in tender.

Remove chicken and add pomegranate molasses. Stir and reduce if necessary. Return chicken to sauce; serve over quinoa.

Lamb, Eggplant, and Feta Pasticcio; Seared Scallops with Arugula Walnut Pesto & Balsamic Drizzle

Seared Scallops with Arugula Walnut Pesto
& Balsamic Drizzle

Wine: 2005 Domaine Talmard

Lamb, Eggplant, and Feta Pasticcio

Wine: 2006 La Vieille Ferme
Cotes du Ventoux

Or: The dinner Suzanne & I made to celebrate our temporary culinary freedom from certain picky eaters.

To make the scallops:

Sprinkle them with salt, pepper, and a little sugar. Heat some oil. Sear them on both sides. Deglaze the pan with balsamic vinegar; stir in a pat of cold butter; drizzle on top of scallops. Serve over arugula walnut pesto-- a puree of arugula, toasted walnuts, 1 small shallot, and olive oil.

To make the pasticcio:

Saute 1 chopped onion & 5 cloves chopped garlic; add 1lb ground lamb and spices (cumin, cayenne, etc). When the lamb's brown, add some red wine and let it cook away. In the meantime, roast an eggplant and then mix the soft eggplant flesh in with the cooked lamb. Make a basic 2-3c bechamel and stir in 1/2 lb feta. Mix the feta bechamel with the lamb & eggplant and 2 beaten eggs, and then mix it all with some slightly undercooked pasta. Pour it into a gratin dish; sprinkle with breadcrumbs & parmesan. Bake at 425 degrees until set and golden & crispy on top.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Mushroom Hunting at Salt Point State Park

mushrooms on my kitchen table

these are the beautiful poisonous ones

poison mushroom bouquet

these are the edibles ones. kinda ugly.

edible mushrooms cleaned & ready to cook

The edible mushrooms are black chanterelles (aka black trumpet mushrooms) and yellow-foot chanterelles. They are delicious sauteed with some butter and shallots and served over polenta, or stirred into a risotto, or sandwiched in the folds of a fluffy French-style omelet. Although we went all the way to Salt Point State Park (1/2 hour north of Jenner) to pick these, they grow all over the East Bay, and we hope to find more soon, closer to home.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Coffee and Chili Braised Short Ribs; Scalloped Potatoes; Acorn Squash Veloute; Broccoli Rabe

This is my third short rib variation. They have all been delicious. This one was especially flavorful. I made scalloped potatoes because the meat didn't have much sauce, and broccoli rabe as a strong-flavored veggie to hold up to the intense chili flavor of the meat. The acorn squash veloute we began with had the delicate flavor of this interesting squash with a zingy cayenne twist.

My excuse this time for the imperfect pictures is that we just plain forgot to take them until we were halfway through eating. Sorry.

We started with a glass of
St George Absinthe

Acorn Squash Veloute

with a swirl of cream

This recipe is from Epicurious.

You'll need (serves 8):

2 large onions, chopped
2 large acorn squash
2T freshly grated ginger
5c chicken broth
2T tomato paste
cayenne pepper to taste

1T cumin seeds
1T mustard seeds

Peel, clean and chop squash into 1" cubes. This is a pain in the ass.

Saute onion 10 minutes. Add squash and ginger, saute 5 minutes. Add 4c broth. Bring to a boil and simmer until tender, 20-30 minutes. Puree.

Stir in tomato paste and cayenne and simmer 10 more minutes. You can make soup ahead until this point. Add more broth to thin soup when you reheat it.

Saute cumin and mustard seeds in oil about 2 min. Sprinkle on top of soup to serve. (The seeds aren't just decorative-- they add a lot of texture and flavor.)

Coffee and Chili Braised Short Ribs

there was not much left when we
remembered to take a picture...

This is loosely based on a Mark Bittman recipe. You can use whatever kind of chilies you want.

You'll need:

short ribs, either English cut or Flanken cut. You'll need about 1 per person. I normally use English cut; I got Flanken by mistake, but it wasn't a problem. Be sure to cut off all the visible fat; it's unnecessary-- especially the huge layer on Flanken-cut ribs.

1 large onion, diced
1 shallot, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 dried chipotle chilies, seeded and chopped as small as possible
2 dried gaujillo chilies, seeded and chopped as small as possible
1T ancho chili powder
1 1/2c dry red wine
1 1/2c strong coffee (not espresso)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Salt and pepper short ribs. Brown in hot grapeseed oil on all sides. Remove from pot when browned. If necessary, clean out black bits with a paper towel and/or add more oil. Saute onion, shallot, garlic, chilies, and chili powder over medium-low heat, about 20 minutes. Add wine and coffee and reduce by half.

Return browned ribs to sauce. Cover pot and place in oven about 2 hours, turning ribs halfway. There shouldn't be too much liquid left at the end, but make sure the ribs don't dry out while cooking.

Scalloped Potatoes

variation: layer swiss chard leaves between potatoes

You'll need:

3lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, cleaned and sliced into rounds as thin as you possibly can. A mandoline is useful for this; I wish I had one.

1/2 onion, super thinly sliced
2T chopped fresh thyme
2T butter
1/4c parmesan
2 1/2c half & half or cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

each layer should look like this

Place potato rounds in a thin layer in the bottom of a well-buttered gratin dish. Top with salt, pepper, onions, thyme, and a spoonful of cheese. Continue layering until you run out of potatoes. Pour half & half on top. Top with more parmesan and any leftover thyme (not onions). Bake, covered with foil, until potatoes are tender, about 1 1/4 hours. Then uncover and put under broiler, or crank up oven heat, to brown top.

Broccoli Rabe

You'll need:

2 bunches broccoli rabe, or broccoli raab, or rapini (it's all the same thing)
2 shallots, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1T chili flakes
4T olive oil
grated cheese to top-- I can't remember the name of the cheese I used, but it should be hard and nutty, with enough flavor to hold up to the greens.

Clean broccoli rabe-- remove thick stems and wash well. Place in boiling, salted water for 2 minutes. Drain well. At this point, you can put the blanched greens in the fridge 'til you want to serve them.

Just before serving, heat oil and saute shallots, garlic, and chili flakes for 2 minutes. Add broccoli rabe and warm through. Top with grated cheese, salt and pepper to taste.

The Cheese

When I went to the Cheeseboard to buy the cheese for the broccoli rabe, I couldn't help getting an oozingly ripe Chatelain Brie, some Montagnolo (I promise: even if you don't like blue cheese, you'll like this one), and some other one whose name I forget. So we had a cheese course, too.

The Wine

This was the first wine. I thought it
went really well with the soup.

This was the second wine. It is as old as I am.
The cork was disintegrating. It was delicious.
If only women aged like wine.

Thanks for the wines, Mr. Anonymous.

Almost Enchiladas: Or, a Spicy, Cheesy Way to use up leftovers

I call these "almost" enchiladas because certain people (you know who you are) might object to calling them "real" enchiladas; these people (actually, one person) have a right to object because they make some of the best "real" enchiladas out there. So, that said, this is simply a spicy, cheesy way to use up leftover meat. I was left with some bits of tongue after the last feast, and tongue-- like any stew meat-- shreds beautifully. You can use any leftover beef, chicken, even fish.

You'll need (serves 1):

1t oil
1 minced shallot
1t flour
1T chili powder
2 chipotles in adobo, chopped (or less if you don't like spicy)
3/4-1c chicken broth
leftover meat
1 tortilla
1/2c grated cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Heat oil; saute shallot 2-3 min. Add flour and chili powder. Stir, cooking, 1-2 min. Add chipotles and some of their adobo sauce. Add broth. Boil to thicken, 2 minutes. Add meat. Cook until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Place tortilla in baking dish. Pour meat into tortilla, saving a bit of the sauce, top with grated cheese, and roll. Top with the rest of the sauce (it's ok if there's meat in it) and more cheese. Bake until bubbly, 10 min. Serve with lime and fresh tomatoes.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Chicken Liver Spread, Cheese, Olives & Tomatoes

Sometimes all you want is just bread and cheese. In fact, if it were up to me, I'd probably have bread and cheese for every other meal. Luckily for my stomach (and for this blog), I don't. Tonight I did just that-- and added a little liver for variety, olives because they go so well with the liver, and tomatoes because I felt guilty for not having any vegetables. This would also make a good lunch.

Chicken Liver Spread

This is a "low-fat" version of the chicken liver mousse we made last week. Somehow I couldn't justify adding 2 sticks of butter and a cup of cream to my already unhealthy meal. And, although that mousse was incredible, this was damn good.

You'll need:

1/2lb chicken livers, washed, dried, and cleaned (remove all the sinewy stuff)
2 shallots, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2T fresh thyme, minced
1/3c Marsala wine
1T butter
1T olive oil

Salt and pepper the chicken livers. Saute them in the hot oil until browned (5-7 minutes); remove and let drain on a paper towel. Add the shallots, garlic, and thyme; saute until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add wine and reduce until there is only a little liquid left. Toss the livers, shallot mix, and butter in a food processor; process until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. For best flavor, refrigerate a few hours before eating.

Pork Stir Fry with Noodles

This is the same recipe as this post, but with broccoli added, served over some surprisingly delicious fresh chow mein-style noodles. When you make any noodle or pasta dish with sauce, under cook your noodles by about a minute, then finish cooking them in the sauce, so they soak up sauce and become flavorful. I think this stir fry is especially good with noodles because of all the tasty sauce the recipe makes.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Phyllo, Meat, and Veggie Pie

This is a larger, more communal (and non-kosher) version of my grandmother's borekas. It's very easy to make and you can throw in whatever veggies you have lying around.

You'll need (3-4 servings):

1 lb ground beef
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 bunch swiss chard, kale, spinach or other cooking green (stems removed, cut into large pieces)
1/2c walnuts
1 bunch carrots, washed & sliced into 1/4" slices
1c grated strong cheese (we used goats' milk cheddar)
1T olive oil
salt, pepper
1T cayenne pepper
1 1/2 T cumin powder
1/4 c minced parsley

8 sheets phyllo dough (1/2 package)
1/2 stick butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat oil in heavy skillet. Saute onions, about 15 minutes, over medium heat until golden brown. Add walnuts, saute 5 minutes. Add meat, cumin, cayenne, salt & pepper and saute to brown. Add chard, cook 3 minutes to wilt. Add carrots, cook 2 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir in parsley.

Working quickly, butter a baking (gratin) dish and lay down 1 sheet phyllo dough. Brush with butter; place another sheet; continue, alternating butter & phyllo, for 3-4 sheets. Then pour in meat mixture, and top with grated cheese. Layer phyllo and butter again to top; fold over edges when done, brushing edges with extra butter. Cut into pieces (this is very important to do before cooking!), sprinkle with parmesan, and bake about 30 minutes, until golden brown. Serve with a nice green salad.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

All Offal, All the Time

All Offal, All the Time
February 29, 2008

Our offal dinner-- the somewhat belated Winter Feast of the series Katie & I have been doing-- was held, somewhat appropriately, on Leap Day. I think I can wait til the next Leap Day (or bissextile day) to do this again. It was rather rushed, labor-intensive, and (at least partially) kinda gross (yes, even I can't handle prolonged exposure to gooey, goopy brains as I pull the membrane and veins out...).

I didn't help that our old meat standby, Verbrugge's, completely let us down. We were supposed to pick up the brains and kidneys the morning of the feast (they should be eaten as fresh as possible). Verbrugge's decided to call us that morning to let us know that they couldn't get them. After some very frantic phone calls, I located frozen kidneys at Andronico's (who knew? they also have hearts, tripe, and sweetbreads), and beef brains (we wanted lamb or calf) at Mi Ranchito Bayside Market (Berkeley). But when I went to buy the brains, it turned out that all they had was a frozen 5-lb tub. A little too much for this party. So, a few more calls later, we located pig brains at 99 Ranch (Richmond) and I went off in search (thanks for the company, J). 99 Ranch is a simply fantastic asian market, but they don't really speak English, so trying to get something specific is pretty difficult (I once tried to get seafood stock. Don't even try. They don't have it.). But eventually I found the pig brains, below the tocino and next to the pig uterus and bung (intestines)-- here's a good post on those products, fyi. They were fresh, not frozen, which was a little worrisome, but they were only $2, so we decided to give them a try. We had, after all, promised brains to our delighted guests.

Unfortunately, our recipe depended on lamb or calf brain-- the kind that stays together-- and this poor piggy brain fell apart as soon as it left the container. So, instead of making nice fried slices, we fried the few clumps I'd managed to clean and had them as pre-dinner snack. They were as good as anything deep-fried is, but the brains themselves didn't have much flavor. We'll try again though-- stay posted.

Thanks to Karen for the dessert and photos and to Ridwan for coming early to help (and cleaning too)!

So, the menu:

Chicken Liver Mousse
with pickled red onions

Deviled Kidneys

Braised Tongue with
Caper, Cornichon, and Caperberry Sauce
Potato-Chard Gratin

Blood Orange Sorbet
with candied peels
and phyllo crisps

Cooking Pictures (view at your own risk):

The Brains

uncooked, uncleaned

uncooked, cleaned

fried up in tasty clumps

The Tongue

looks like a tongue. feels like a tongue.

bubbling away with aromatics
(notice the brand!)

cooked and sliced, soaking up sauce

The Gratin

This was so pretty uncooked,
topped with chopped chard stems
in red, orange, and yellow

The Dessert

beautiful blood oranges, and a lime

candying the peels

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