Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Monday, December 28, 2009
Lobster RollsAdapted from Gourmet MagazineIngredients:4 - One and a quarter to one and a half pound live lobsters1/2 cup mayo1 tbsp lemon juice6-8 Hotdog rollsButterOld BayIf you're feeling crazy, scallions, dill and chives all came up in my research. Go nuts.Directions:Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Plunge two lobsters headfirst into the pot and cook, partially covered, over medium high heat for 8 minutes (if it's a bigger lobster go 9 minutes). Transfer with tongs to and ice bath and let stand until completely cooled. Return water to a boil and cook remaining two lobsters.Remove meat from claws, joints, and tails. Carcasses and shells can be saved for lobster stock if you are so inclined. Coarsely chop the meat. try to keep some of the red claw meat in tact, as it is very pretty in the bun.Whisk mayo and lemon juice in a small bowl (if you were adding herb, you would mix those in as well). Butter inside of rolls, then grill face down in a grill pan (regular skillet will do if you don't own crazy pans like I do. If it's summer and you don't live in an apartment, you could use an actual grill like the smug suburbanite you are). Once toasted, spread mayo/lemon juice mixture on the bun. The alternative is to toss the lobster meat itself with the mixture, but Will is not a mayo fan so I did not do this. Then stuff with lobster, and sprinkle on Old Bay to your own person taste. (For Will I sprinkled lemon juice right on the lobster, then sprinkled the Old Bay over that.)
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
We learned several things from this party. First, a dinner party might be good at 7, but no one is going to show up for a cocktail party that early. Oops. A few things need to be re-warmed, and the cheesecake re-chilled. I had planned to put the food out in batches, so that as one dish ran low I could replenish with hot food, instead of putting it all out at once and watching my precious scallops get cold and slimy. We learned that we need to purchase an ice bucket soon, as running back and forth to the kitchen is just damn inefficient. I learned not to try to pop ice out of a tray when your martini is sitting precariously on the edge of the counter, or it ends in an embarrassing crash. And I learned what awesome friends I have, as immediately Sean was in the room with a dust pan. Throwing your first cocktail party is infinitely easier when many of your friends have worked in food service. As I whisked fondue Sean cut bread and Matt and Brian ran food out. Will apparently got help as well, as someone appeared to request the half and half. Apparently a White Russian had been ordered.
I carefully considered what recipe to present you with this week, as offering up the complete menu just seemed a bit overwhelming. The cookies, which were very popular, are nothing you haven't seen in a ginger cookie before, nothing you couldn't get elsewhere. The fondue, which was completely devoured, and extremely easy to make and forgiving to multiple reheatings, will have to wait for a future blog. I am starting to look into the future at a possible fondue party. Stay tuned. In the end, I think those mushrooms are what you should really know about. The ability to make them ahead of time was divine, and since all I had to do that day was pop them in the oven for ten minutes I could put them out in batches, making them hot and melty upon serving. I had way more filling then mushrooms, but with the snow coming I thought 45 of them would be enough. When they disappeared I fell back on plan B, heating the leftover filling and serving it in a bowl with pita chips. It was plenty popular this way as well, so it's flexibility makes it a perfect party dish. If you really don't like mushrooms you don't even have to make them, just make the filling, but I think the mushrooms were classy looking and definitely added something to the dish. This also breaks one of my other rules of cooking: I usually won't go anywhere near a frozen vegetable. I think the freshness is compromised at the expense of taste, and there are all kinds of environmental issues about how much more carbon is used to get frozen vegetables to a store versus fresh. In this dish, however, there are so many flavors at work that the fact that the spinach isn't a dominant one isn't a problem. And again, with a six dish catering job ahead of me, my food morals became a bit flexible. I'll plant a tree or something...Maybe an douglas fir.
Roasted Mushrooms with Feta, Spinach, and Bacon
Adapted from Bon Appetit
8 ounces bacon slices
1 cup chopped onion
1 10-ounce package chopped frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 3/4 pounds button mushrooms (about 48; each about 1 1/2 inches in diameter), stemmed
Preheat oven to 375°F. Cook bacon in heavy large skillet until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Coarsely crumble bacon. Discard all but 1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons bacon fat (adding olive oil if necessary to equal that amount).
Heat 2 teaspoons reserved bacon fat in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onion and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl and cool; mix in bacon, spinach, feta, and cream cheese. Season filling to taste with salt and pepper.
Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with foil. Toss mushrooms and reserved 1/4 cup bacon fat in large bowl to coat. Sprinkle mushrooms with salt and pepper. Place mushrooms, rounded side down, in single layer on prepared baking sheets. Bake mushrooms until centers fill with liquid, about 25 minutes. Turn mushrooms over. Bake mushrooms until brown and liquid evaporates, about 20 minutes longer. Turn mushrooms over again. Spoon 1 heaping teaspoon filling into each mushroom cavity. (Filled mushrooms can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake mushrooms until heated through, about 10 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to platter and serve warm.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Catfish Tacos with Tomato and Avocado SalsaAdapted from Bon Appetit
- 1 cup chopped plum tomatoes
- 1/2 cup chopped peeled avocado
- 5 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 3 tablespoons chopped green onion
- 3 teaspoons minced jalapeño chilies with seeds
- 1 pound catfish fillets
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 taco shells
- 2 cups thinly sliced curly leaf lettuce
- 1/4 cup shredded cheese
Directions:Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix tomatoes, avocado, 2 tablespoons lime juice, onion, and 2 teaspoons jalapeños in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
Place fish in single layer on small rimmed baking sheet. Mix garlic, 3 tablespoons lime juice, and 1 teaspoon jalapeños in another small bowl. Drizzle half of lime juice mixture over fish; reserve remainder. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper; let stand 15 minutes.
Preheat broiler. Broil fish just until opaque in center, about 6 minutes. Cut fish into 1-inch pieces. Top each taco shell with 1/2 cup lettuce, then fish pieces. Drizzle with reserved lime juice mixture. Spoon salsa over; sprinkle with cheese.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
Maple Pear Upside-Down CakeAdapted from the NY TimesIngredients:11 tablespoons butter3/4 cup maple syrup1/4 cup packed brown sugar3 to 4 pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced3/4 cup granulated sugar1 teaspoon vanilla2 large eggs1 1/2 cups flour1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder1/4 teaspoon salt1/2 cup milk.Directions:1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a 9" cast iron pan over medium heat; add maple syrup and brown sugar and cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and cook for another 2 minutes; remove from heat and set aside. When mixture has cooled a bit, arrange pear slices in an overlapping circle on top.2. With a handheld or standing mixer, beat remaining 8 tablespoons butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs, one egg at a time, continuing to mix until smooth. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.3. Add flour mixture to butter mixture in three batches, alternating with milk; do not overmix. Carefully spread batter over pears, using a spatula to make sure it is evenly distributed. Bake until top of cake is golden brown and edges begin to pull away from sides of pan, about 45 to 50 minutes; a toothpick inserted into center should come out clean. Let cake cool for 5 minutes.4. Run a knife around edge of pan; put a plate on top of cake and carefully flip it so plate is on bottom and pan is on top. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Spiced Pumpkin PieAdapted from Bon AppetitIngredients:
- 2/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 1/2 cups canned solid pack pumpkin
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup whipping creamDirections:
Place baking sheet in oven and preheat to 450°F. Whisk first 8 ingredients together in large bowl to blend. Whisk in pumpkin, molasses and eggs, then cream. Pour mixture into crust.
Place pie on preheated baking sheet in oven. Bake 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 325°F and bake until sides puff and center is just set, about 40 minutes. Cool. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and re-frigerate.) Serve at room temperature.
The pie was like 90% perfect, or some such percentage. It looked all nice and set and puffed when I took it out of the oven, but ten minutes later the center fell and I ended up with quite the dent in my pie. Probably could have left it in the oven a tiny bit longer. It's an extremely tasty pie, however, with more spice then pumpkin on the palate. See above note for my feelings about taste over aesthetics. I felt my dented pie had character.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Chantrelle and Pear Bread StuffingIngredients:
About 4 cups of Pullman loaf or other firm white bread torn into small pieces (I used Italian, again, worked fine)
1/4 pound chanterelle mushrooms
1/12 pound pancetta, diced small
2 1/2 tablespoons butter, more for greasing muffin tins
1/2 small chopped onion
1 minced small shallot
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 teaspoons white wine
1 diced pears ( firm, ripe varieties like Bartlett or Anjou)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 heaping teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon minced chives
4 teaspoons chopped Italian parsley
1/2 cup turkey stock (since I wasn't making turkey, I used chicken stock. I leave this to your judgement and personal menu)
1. Dry bread, cover with paper towels and leave out overnight. Or, place on a baking sheet in batches and lightly toast. Set aside.
2. Wipe mushrooms with a clean, damp towel. Trim tough ends. Slice some thickly, chop others. Set aside. Place pancetta in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook slowly until fat is rendered, about 7 minutes. Remove to a plate.
3. Add 1/2 tablespoon butter to fat in pan and turn heat to medium high. Add onion and shallots, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just soft. Do not brown. Remove to plate holding pancetta.
4. Add 3/4 tablespoon butter to pan. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and quickly sauté until starting to brown. Remove and add to plate.
5. Add wine to pan and deglaze over medium high heat, cooking until wine reduces by about half. Pour remaining liquid over mushrooms. Wipe out pan and add remaining butter. Add pears and sugar and season with salt and pepper. Sauté pears, in batches if necessary, over medium high heat until they begin to brown slightly.
6. In a large bowl or roasting pan, add sautéed ingredients to bread. Toss lightly to combine. Add herbs and toss again. Slowly pour 1/4 cup stock over mixture and toss. Add more broth to make a very moist stuffing. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper.
7. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously butter muffin tins and fill each with stuffing, pressing down so each cup is well filled. Top each with one tablespoon stock. Bake for about 20 to 30 minutes, until a golden crust forms on bottom. To serve, use a butter knife to remove each stuffing muffin and invert onto the plate.Yeah, so that part in step 7 where you are supposed to top each muffin cup with a tablespoon of stock? Guess what I forgot to do. As a result the little stuffing cakes were a bit resistant to holding their forms, but by holding parchment paper over the top and then flipping the entire thing, I was able to get enough of them to hold in a delicate state that was presentablefor the meal.The Pheasant and I were now staring each other down. The legs, I have read, are really not even worth thinking about eating. As game birds the little suckers run around a lot, making the meat tough and unappetizing. Better to just hack them off altogether and save for stock. And so, at about 5pm Thanksgiving day, I was breaking the hip joints and cutting off the legs. I live such an enchanted life.
Roasted Pheasant with Apricots and DatesAdapted from Gourmet MagazineIngredients:1/4 cup dried apricots
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
- 1/8 cup fresh lime juice (from about 1/2 a lime)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- A 2 1/2- to 3-pound pheasant
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoons dried thyme, crumbled
- 1 bay leaf
- vegetable oil for brushing pheasants
- 1/4 cup pitted dates, chopped
- Garnish: fresh thyme sprigs
In a small heatproof bowl cover apricots with boiling water and soak 10 minutes. Drain apricots and cut into quarters. In a small saucepan simmer wine, liqueur, lime juice, and sugar 5 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Cut off legs of pheasant and reserve for another use. (Glamorous work) Sprinkle pheasants inside and out with pepper and salt to taste. Put 1 teaspoon thyme and 1 bay leaf in cavity of the pheasant and close cavity with skewers or toothpicks so that pheasant holds its shape.
Brush pheasant with oil and in a roasting pan arrange, breast side down. Roast pheasant 20 minutes and discard any fat in roasting pan. Turn pheasant over and to pan add apricots, wine mixture, and dates. Roast pheasant, adding about 1/2 cup water if all liquid evaporates, 25 minutes more, or until thermometer inserted in thickest part of breast registers 160°F. Let pheasants stand 10 minutes.
Transfer pheasants to a cutting board and cut each in half. Serve pheasants with apricot date sauce and garnish with thyme.Okay, confession time once again. The recipe as I have provided is halved from a recipe for making two pheasants. This means there should be twice as much liquid for the sauce in a full size roasting pan then there was. I did realize this, and planned to check in on it about ten minutes after putting it in, but at about minute 7 I started to smell something burning. I ripped it out of the oven, and the liquid was very dark in color. I added water and some extra wine, and it was passable, but not very attractive. Next time I might just make all of the sauce, and allow for there being extra, rather then burn the halved version. Oops.
Pheasants, as game birds, are leaner then, say, a chicken. This makes it very easy to dry out, so I was keeping a very close eye on mine, and even took it out of the oven a few minutes early. The recipe says to let it rest for about ten minutes, but a British website the TimesOnline states about Pheasant "All meat continues to cook after it has been taken out of the oven because it is still relatively hot. If the meat is served while this process is still in motion, it is likely to be tough. When you come to carve, if steam escapes from under the knife, the meat has not been rested anywhere near long enough... A rough rule of thumb is to rest meat for about the same length of time that it spent in the oven. This may sound an implausibly long period for some, but try it and I promise that your roast will taste more forgiving." I erred somewhere in the middle. Will wasn't yet home when the bird came out of the oven, so I put it in a dish with a lid and let it rest on the table until he arrived, which was greater then 10 minutes but not quite 45.
In the end this untraditional Thanksgiving fowl was a success. The breast retained its moistness, and paired well with the apricots and dates, even if the latter two were a bit overdone. The stuffing was a huge hit, flavorful filling, and I now have a tupperware full of the less structural ones to snack on or put in a sandwich. The pie, well it was a great follower but a bit of a challenge in its own right, so if your curious be sure to stop back tomorrow!