Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in Review

My first attempt at a Gingerbread House and 
one of our last projects of 2013.  Keep and eye out for the post next winter!

I apologize, dear readers.  Thank you for sticking out this lengthy dry spell with me.  This blog began as a New Year's resolution to push myself to try new recipes, step out of my comfort zone, and play more in the kitchen.  I have continued to do so with fervor.  Unfortunately, as life caught up the blog fell by the wayside.

Despite that, 2013 yielded some incredibly tasty treats.  I found myself playing around more with beer in recipes as I learn more about brewing and beer styles.  Seafood became the highlight of my week this spring and early summer, as Ross would stop by a fish monger to procure the challenge for that evening's dinner.  A mere 61 recipes were posted.  A far cry from the 100 I set out for.  Some of the highlights:

Beer Pretzel Toffee
Clams in a Green Curry Coconut Broth
Hawaiian Rum Punch (a Pinterest favorite it would appear!)
Lemon Parmesan Orzo with Seared Scallops
Coconut Brown Ale Pancakes with Coconut Cream and Toasted Macadamia nuts
Osso Bucco Sea Bass
Plum Semifreddo 
Sour Braised Beef with Polenta Fries

No major misses this year, though a few dishes came out a little uninspired.  Baking certainly seemed lacking this past year.  As did sides and salads.

The first few months of 2014 will be a little slow to get under way as I continue to juggle far too many tasks in the air.  But there will always be time for cooking.  As the snow melts away the posts should become more frequent.  

What will 2014 bring?  Beer ice cream in several variations is in the works.  And some baked goods using spent grains from brewing.  More seafood.  And hopefully several more quick bites and snacks.

Thank you for sticking around!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Strawberry and Blueberry Muffins with a Streusel Topping

Our CSA continues to delight us with more berries than we can keep up with!  While I love the thought of frozen berries to enjoy later this year once the summer bounty diminishes, it seems such a shame to not use up as many as possible while at their peek of freshness.  With a double batch of berries in hand, I could think of no better idea than to play around with a few muffin mixtures.

The end result is a hodge podge of three recipes I tinkered with.  The batter is thick, almost the consistency of co

okie dough.  At first I found this a bit frustrating, particularly when I attempted to fill the muffin tin.  But in the end the thick batter resulted in muffins evenly studded with fruit, instead of a mess of berries submerged at the bottom.

A sprinkle of sugar spiked with lemon zest makes a bright wonderful topping, but I am a sucker for a good streusel.  Nothing really beats the Better Homes and Gardens version...

Inspired by Alton Brown, Confessions of a Baking Queen the BHG cookbook and Smitten Kitchen

The Ingredients:
for the muffins
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup greek yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup sliced or quartered strawberries
1/2 cup blueberries

for the topping
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 Tbsp butter

The Process:
preheat the oven to 380

Line a 12 ct muffin tin with paper liners or generously mist each cup with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter until fluffy.  Beat in the egg until well combined.  Mix in the yogurt, milk, vanilla and zest.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Mix in half of the dry into the wet until well combined.  Sift in the remaining dry ingredients in to batter, until just mixed.  Fold in the berries.

For the topping, in a small bowl combine the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon.  Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Set aside.

Using an ice cream scoop or two spoons, fill the cups of the muffin tin approximately 3/4 full.  Sprinkle with topping.
  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, rotating the pan once while baking.

Transfer to a baking rack to cool.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Sour Braised Beef with Polenta Fries

Some mornings I spend the entire bus ride to work day dreaming about what to concoct for dinner.  I have taken to carrying a notebook about with me (finally) lest I be hit with an idea unprepared. The inspiration for this dish first came about after an amazing beer dinner at Stout's Pub in Roseville, featuring the skills of chef Daniel Parker and the wonderful ales of Ommegang.  Five courses and several drinks in, we were served an amazingly fork tender mound of meat accompanied by bacon fried potatoes and sweet and sour onions.  The beef had been braised in Curvee Brut to compliment the sour cherry hints in the Three Philosopher's that was paired with the course.  Daniel lamented the lack of tartness to come through in the braising process.  Thus the sweet and sour onions served alongside.  Daniel truly had little to lament.  The dish was the highlight of the dinner for me.

Vamping off that...and out a desire to have a bit of leftover beef for a recipe down the road...I turned to a classic beef carbonnade, but with a much, much more sour beer.  The cooking time can be reduced slightly by cutting the beef down into smaller chunks, but I opted to stick with a full roast.  Look for a cut of meat with a lot of fat marbled throughout.

For the beer, Flanders red and oud bruins are a good place to start. I found myself looking towards the Rodenbach Grand Cru.
 This is a sour I can never seem to get enough of. The result was amazing.  Because of the acidity of the beer, there was no need to add vinegar as many recipe variants recommend.  The sour dissipates to an earthly, slightly tart flavor that perfectly compliments the sweet caramelized onions and rich fat of the bacon.

The cooking process generated far, far more jus than I was anticipating.  But you know what?  After dinner is done, skim the fat off of the remaining juices and transfer it--onions, bacon bits, and all--to the fridge.  The next day, heat it up, ladle it into a ramekin and top with a bit of crusty bread and some Gruyère.  After a quick trip under the broiler, you'll be treated to an amazing twist on French onion soup...

beef carbonnade adapted from chef Charlie Palmer and Saveur
polenta fries adapted from Epicurious

serves 4-6

The Ingredients:
for the beef
3 lb beef chuck roast
salt and pepper
1/4 cup flour
4 Tbsp butter
4 slices of bacon, coarsely chopped
3 yellow onions, thinly sliced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cup sour beer such as a Flanders red ale
1 cup beef stock
2 Tbsp brown sugar
3 sprigs fresh thyme
3 sprigs fresh parsley
1 bay leaf

for the polenta fries
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 Parmesan (optional)
additional salt for sprinkling

The Process:
 Generously season the beef with salt and pepper and dredge in the flour.

 In a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt 2 Tbsp butter over medium-high heat.  Add the beef and brown, 3-4 minutes per side.  Transfer beef to a plate, cover and keep warm.

Add the bacon to the same pot and cook until most of the fat renders, 6-8 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium-low and add the remaining butter, along with the onions and garlic.  Cook until the onions have caramelized, about 30 minutes (long, low and slow is key).

Add half of the ale to deglaze the bottom of the pan.  Simmer for about 5 minutes or until reduced slightly.    Whisk together remaining beer, broth and sugar.  Return the beef to the pot.  Add the herbs and pour the beer mixture over top.  Bring to a boil, cover tightly, and reduce heat to simmer.  Cook until the beef is tender, about 2 hours.

Slice or shred to serve.

for the polenta fries:
Combine the milk and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Once the mixture comes to a simmer, whisk in cornmeal and salt.  Cook the mixture until thick and creamy, about 20 minutes.  Stir in the butter and Parmesan.

Prepare a 9x13 baking dish with a coat of non-stick cooking spray.  Once the polenta has thicken, pour in to prepared dish.  Spread into an even thickness, smoothing the surface out as much as possible.  Cover and chill 30-45 minutes, or until the polenta has set.

Preheat the broiler and place the oven rack 4-6 inches from the heat.

Carefully turn out the polenta onto a large cutting surface.  Cut crosswise into four even rectangles.   Cut each rectangle into 10- 12 even strips.  Line cut polenta onto a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bring the fries with oil and generously sprinkle with salt.

Broil, flipping once, about 10 minutes per side or until evenly browned.

Serve immediately with beef and juices.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Plum Semifreddo

Dear lord, the heat!  After the torrential rains of late June, the sunny skies are a blessing, but how I wouldn't love to be on a lake most days right now!  A vacation to slightly cooler, Northwesternly climates is just around the bend.  So in the meantime we make due with some chilly desserts to beat the heat.  A batch of beer ice (recipe coming soon, I swear...) left me with several egg whites to use up.  And this semifreddo recipe had just happened to catch my eye a few days earlier.

I have a soft spot in my heart for plums and plum jams.  For years, Gramma made the most amazing jam out of fruit from her backyard.  The nostalgia was worth the brief time standing over that simmering fruit in a scalding hot kitchen.

Everything comes together wonderfully quick; the rest is all self control as the dessert freezes.  With its healthy dose of heavy cream and sugar, this dessert is by no means light, but the texture will deceive you.  This semifreddo is a cloud spike with ribbons of tart plum. 

adapted from bon appetit

serves 8

The Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds red plums, pitted and cut into chunks
1 black cardamom pod, crushed
1 cup sugar, divided
Kosher salt
3 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chilled heavy

The Process:
Mist a 9x5-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray and line with plastic wrap, leaving a generous overhang on all sides. Chill until ready to use.

Combine plums, cardamom, 1/3 cup sugar, and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until plums release their juices, about 5 minutes. Uncover and cook until plums soften and start to fall apart, 6–8 minutes longer. Let cool slightly. 

Purée the plum mixture in a blender or with an immersion blender until very smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much pulp as possible. Chill. Set aside 1 cup purée for serving.  The rest will be folded into the semifreddo.

Whisk egg whites, a pinch of salt, and remaining 2/3 cup sugar in a double boiler or a medium heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (do not let bowl touch water). Heat, whisking constantly, until sugar is dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch, about 4 minutes. Remove bowl from saucepan. Add vanilla and, using an electric mixer or stand mixer with the whisk attachment set on high speed, whisk until mixture is tripled in volume, glossy, and completely cool, about 10 minutes.

In  another medium bowl whip the chilled cream until soft peaks form. Fold 1/3 of whipped cream into the  egg whites mixture until just combined. Fold in remaining whipped cream until just combined. Fold in plum purée, leaving large streaks throughout mixture.  The mixture will continue to mix and marble when poured in to the loaf pan. 

Transfer mixture to prepared pan and smooth top. Fold plastic wrap overhang over top and freeze until firm, at least 8 hours.

Unwrap semifreddo and using plastic overhang, gently lift from pan. Invert and slice into 1" portions.

Spoon reserved plum puree over top and serve

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Osso Buco Style Sea Bass with Herb Whipped Potatoes and Orange Gremolata

The seafood adventure continues!  What started out as an attempt to enjoy more seafood at home has since tranformed into an all out culinary challenge.  Each week, Ross picks a day to stop at the fish monger on his way home from work.  Whatever strikes his fancy that day while perusing the tanks and ice trays is destined to become dinner.  He'll text me what he picked up.  And I have the thirty minute or so bus ride home to decide what to do with it...using only what we have at home at the time, cause ain't nobody got time for last minute grocery trips.

All week I was thinking fish and chips.  In all the baked and breaded glory.  Served with lemon garlic aioli.  I couldn't shake that meal from my head.  So what does Ross pick out?  White Sea Bass.  One of the firmest meatiest fillets out there.  Such sacrilige to bread it up and bake it.  This was a fillet that demanded a meaty treatment.  No poaching or en papillote.  No... it wanted to be seared, grilled, broiled, or...braised.

The cooking method eluded me at first after pondering the fish for a while.  But the idea of a gremolata jumped into my head immediately.  Several types of citrus awaited to be used up at home.  But poaching was out of the question.  And the charcoal grill would take to long to get going.  After poking around for gremolata inspiration, I came across a halibut served osso buco style.  The rich, salty tomato and veggie broth sounded like it would stand up to the meaty fillet.  Spike with the bright gremolata?  Sold.  And I still was able to use up a portion of our CSA potatoes in the process.

adapted from Bon Appetit, via Epicurious.

serves 3

The Ingredeints:
for the "Osso Buco"
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 stalks celery, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
1/4 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup crushed tomatoes w/ juices
juice of 1 orange
zest of 1/2 a lemon
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp crushed thyme
1 bay leaf

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb white sea bass, skin removed and cut into 3 portions
salt, pepper and cayenne

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp butter

for the whipped potatoes
3/4 lb russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
3 cloves of garlic, halved
2 Tbsp salted butter
2 Tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped

for the gremolata
2 Tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley
zest of 1 orange
2 cloves of garlic, minced

The Process:
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the celery, carrots, onion and garlic.  Saute, stirring frequently, until the veggies are tender and beginning to brown, about 7-10 minutes.  Add the tomato paste and heat through, about 30 seconds.  Add the white wine and simmer until reduced by about half, an additional 5-7 minutes.

Add the broth, crushed tomatoes, orange juice, salt, zest, fish sauce, thyme and bay leaf.  Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until the liquid is reduced by 1/3...about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil and add the potatoes and garlic.  Cook until tender, about 25 minutes.

For the gremolata, combine the zest, garlic and parsley.  Mix thoroughly and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350

In another pan, heat the remaining oil over medium high heat.  Generously season the fillets with salt pepper, and cayenne.  Sear the fillets until browned, about 2 minutes per side.  Remove to a warm plate.  Add the balsamic vinegar to the same pan and simmer for about 1  minute, reducing slightly.  Add the vinegar to the vegetable sauce.  Melt the butter into the sauce.  Remove the bay leaf and transfer the mixture to a 9 x 13 baking dish.  Set the fish on top.  Bake, uncovered for 10 minutes, or until the flesh is opaque and flakes easily. Set aside to finish the potatoes.

Drain the tender potatoes, reserving some of the cooking liquid.  Return to the potatoes to the pot along with butter and whip with an electric beater set to low, or mash by hand.  Add reserved liquid by the Tbsp until the desired consistency is achieved.  Stir in the herbs.

to serve:
Spoon 1/3 of the potatoes onto a dinner plate and spread out slightly.  Top with one of the fillets and spoon the vegetable sauce over top.  Garnish with a generous sprinkle of gremolata.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Apple and Kohlrabi Salad with Roasted Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

Vegetables are coming out of our ears!  I absolutely adore taking on the challenge of a full CSA share for two people, but even when most lunches consist of huge leafy salads, a full share can be a bit much to swallow.

This week we were treated to a wonderful treat though...4 pints of the juiciest, brightest red strawberries.  Last season had been so miserably dry that the farm's berries didn't stand a chance.  This year, with the ridiculous amounts of rain pouring through, the berries are bursting.  A good portion have already been frozen for later use.  What berries haven't already been devoured made it into this salad.  The mixed greens and kohlrabi were also courtesy of our CSA.

The inspiration for the vinaigrette came from a visit to a local oil shop where I sampled the most amazing 25 year aged balsamic vinegar.  It was so wonderfully sour, rich, earthly and sweet I could have eaten it with a spoon.  Alongside stood several other tuns full of rich balsamic and fruit blends.  I couldn't decide.  Start simple and with the basics.  High quality balsamic vinegar has ruined me...

And the combination of apple and kohlrabi has been bouncing around in my head for a while.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

The recipe is my own

serves 4

The Ingredients:
8-10 ripe strawberries
1 Tbsp diced shallot
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1 small Granny Smith apple
1 cup water
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 medium kohlrabi
4 cups mixed greens

The Process:
Preheat the oven to 400

Pick out the 4 smallest, ripest strawberries, and set aside.  Hull the remaining berries.  Place cut side down on a lightly greased pan.

 Roast to 10-12 minutes or until the berries are soft and juice is beginning to seep.

In a large glass, combine the shallot, oil, vinegar, salt and roasted strawberries.  Puree with an immersion blender until completely smooth.  Strain through a sieve to remove any pulp and seeds.  Set aside.

Combine the water and lemon juice and set aside.

Halve and core the apple.  Thinly slice into wedges and place in the lemon water.  Peel the kohlrabi and similarly slice into thin wedges.

Toss the mixed greens with half of the vinaigrette.
 Divide greens among four salad plates.  Arrange 1/4 of the apple and kohlrabi in a fan shape on each plate.  Using the reserved strawberries, cut four or five thin slices with a paring knife lengthwise through the berry, leaving slices attached just below the hull.  Gently fan out the slices.  Place the berry garnish on each plate.  Drizzle with remaining dressing

Monday, July 1, 2013

Coconut Brown Sugar Ale Cookies

Desserts have been few and far between as of late, haven't they?  I've had many an ice cream recipe bouncing around in my head, but not the time to concoct them.  Cookies, though... I always have everything I need on hand for cookies.

I encountered this recipe last Thursday during a Craft Beer and Bites event at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.  Little soft sugar cookies were served to be paired with many of the brown ales and stouts provided.  They had all the best flavors of an oagtmeal raisin cookie, only without the oatmeal and raisins.  They were wonderfully soft, lightly spiced and so buttery.

Eager I whisked the recipe home, but discovered the only brown ale I had was coconut brown.  We used a bottle of our home brewed beer, though Kona Brewing Company makes a wonderful coconut brown ale: Koko Brown

cookie base recipe courtesy of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

yields 3 dozen

The Ingredients:
12 Tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), room temperature
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup coconut brown ale
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup bread flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 flaked unsweetened coconut, coarsely chopped

The Process:
In a large bowl, combine the butter and brown sugar and mix until well combined.  Add the yolk and vanilla; beat until light and fluffy.  Add the beer and mix until combined.

In a separate bowl, mix together both flours along with the baking soda, baking powder, salt, cornstarch and cinnamon.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just combined.

Pour the coconut into shallow bowl.  Using a heaping tablespoon of dough, form a ball and roll into the coconut, coating completely.  Place the balls on an ungreased baking sheet, spacing cookies about 2 inches apart.  Place cookies in the fridge to chill for at least 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies are puffed and golden around the edges.  They will deflate slightly as they cool.  Allow to cool slightly on the baking sheet.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Stir Fried Noodles and Steak

The wonderful thing about flank and skirt steak?  It used to be such a wonderfully cheap cut of meat that nobody wanted.  Sort of like chicken wings.  And then somebody caught on to how awesome this under appreciated cut of meat is.  Now I'm lucky if I can find the darn steak for under $8 a pound, if our butcher or grocer even has it in stock at all.  Ah well.  Other thin cuts of beef work equally as well when quickly fried and sliced across the grain.

adapted from Bon Appetit

serves 4

The Ingredients:
2 Tbsp sliced almonds
8 oz soba noodles
1 Tbsp sesame oil
12 oz skirt or flank steak
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 green onions, whites and greens separated, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1-inch knob of fresh ginger, minced
1 large head of bok choi, coarsely chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled, thinly sliced on the diagonal  
2 Tbsp oyster sauce
2 Tbsp soy sauce  
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp sesame oil
1/3 cup vegetable broth

The Process:
In a small, dry skillet set over medium heat, dry roast the almonds until evenly toasted.  Set aside.

Bring  a large pot of salted water to a boil, and noodles and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 6-8 minutes. Drain.  Rinse in cool water and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat sesame oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season steak with salt and pepper and sear until charred in spots, about 4 minutes per side. Remove form heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Thinly slice against the grain.

While steak rests, wipe out skillet and heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add onion whites, garlic, and ginger; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add bok choi and carrots. Saute, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes.

Whisk oyster sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and broth together in a small bowl. In a large bowl toss together noodles, sauteed vegetables, almonds and onion greens.  Drizzle with dressing and stir to coat.  
Serve with steak.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Turkey and Red Bean Soup with Rainbow Chard

The peak of summer is upon us, with all of its muggy, hot glory.  So why does my mind drift to soups and chili?  I suppose the fixation has a lot to do with a small test batch of red chili beans that found its way into our CSA box last week.  The farm included a great recipe for a radish and bean salad, but I couldn't shake that thought of chili...

This dish didn't end up nearly as thick as most chilies I prepare, and I'm okay with that.  The addition of chard makes if far more reminiscent of a minestrone anyway.  But the flavors are all tex-mex.  If you'd rather not hover over the stove on a hot summer's day, this soup can be prepared in the crock pot as well.  Just plan on adding the chopped chard leaves right before serving.

The recipe is my own

Serves 6-8

The Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup dry red chili beans
1 Tbsp oil
20 oz ground turkey
2-3 bulbs green garlic
1 small onion, diced
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt
1 bunch rainbow chard, leaves and stems separated
1 - 8oz can tomato sauce
6 cups vegetable or chicken broth

The Process:
Remove any pebbles or grit from the beans.  Rinse.  Place in a large bowl and cover with cool water.  Soak overnight.

Drain the beans.  In a large saucepan set over medium heat, bring about 5 cups of water to a boil.  Add beans, reduce to a simmer and cook about 45 minutes or until beans are tender.  Drain and set aside.

Heat oil in a large heavy bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the turkey, onion and garlic.  Cook, stirring frequently until the turkey is cooked through and crumbled.  Add the cumin, chili powder and oregano.  Stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Coarsely chop the chard stems and add to the pot along with the broth, beans, salt, bay leaf and tomato sauce. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Coarsely chop the chard leaves.  Add to the soup and simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until the chard has wilted.  Remove bay leaf and serve immediately

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Baked Coconut Curry Shrimp

The seafood pact Ross and I made is still going strong.  Shrimp hasn't made an appearance on our menu, which is odd given how we usually have some frozen on hand at all times.

The shrimp was picked before the recipe.  Jumbo and shell on.  I briefly toyed with a few Cajun inspired grilled recipes, but given our luck with the weather, an indoor meal was probably best.   We've both been itching for something breaded as of late, a splurge against the all of the CSA veggies we've been enjoying.  This baked version made the guilty pleasure a little more forgiving.  Quite frankly, it really didn't need any deep frying anyway.

The breading and cooking process itself is super quick.  The shrimp can ready in about 20 minutes.  However, if using shell on jumbo shrimp, plan an giving yourself a bit more time.  The peeling, deveining and butterflying can be a bit tedious and time consuming.

the recipe is my own

serves 3-4

The Ingredients
1 lb large raw shrimp (13-15 count)
2 eggs
1/3 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
1/3 cup panko
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt

favorite dipping sauce to serve

The Process:
Preheat the oven to 425

Peel the shrimp, leaving the last segment on the tail intact.  Slit the back of the shrimp and remove the vein.  Cut deeper along the center back to the tail segment, and gently splay the shrimp open.  Rinse and pat dry.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs.  In a second bowl, combine the coconut, panko, flour and seasonings.  One at a time, dip the shrimp into the egg and press into the coconut coating.  Lay the shrimp, butterflied side down, on a lightly oiled baking sheet.  Lightly mist with additional oil.

Bake until the shrimp are opaque and begin to curl, about 10 minutes.

Serve with dipping sauce.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Vietnamese Pork Chops

Meat.  Summer.  Grill.

And of course.  Rain.

So a slight change of plans.  These thick-cut marinaded pork chops would have been phenominal on the grill, but with the 20 minute windows of sunshine we seem to have been experiencing, the skillet will have to do.

And the marinade reduced into a dipping sauce?  Amazing.

adapted from Bon Appetit

serves 2

The Ingredients:
2 - 1" inch thick cut pork chops (about 1 lb)
1/2 shallot, minced
2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp ground pepper
olive oil
salt to taste
lime, quartered

The Process:
Whisk together the shallot, brown sugar, fish sauce, vinegar and pepper.  Pierce the pork chops all over, place in a zip top bag and pour the marinade over.  Seal and marinate for 20 minutes at room temperature, or chill 4 hours to overnight

Remove chops and reserve marinade.  Generously salt the chops with salt.  Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Sear, until browned and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side.  Remove from skillet, cover to keep warm and allow to rest for about 9 minutes

While the chops rest, add the reserved marinade to a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and cook until reduced until about 1/4 cup.

Serve chops with reduced marinade and lime wedges.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Cheesy Corn Porridge with Garlic-Chives and Bacon

A few months back I made up a batch of pale ale corn muffins, and ever since this recipe has been kicking around in the back of my head.  The muffin recipe started out with a polenta-like base.  The green chilies, butter and cornmeal smelled so amazing as I stirred up the thick mixture.  I briefly contemplated eating the first batch straight from the pot, and mixing up a second one for the muffins.

It took a few weeks, but I started toying around with a few variations until this corn porridge came to be.  The dish is equally as wonderfully with a bit of diced jalapeno sauteed up with the bacon, but that heat is a bit too much for me first thing in the morning.

Feel free to play around.  One stalk of green onion and a clove of garlic is a great fragrant base, but with the arrive of our first CSA box, I had to give the garlic chives a whirl

the recipe is my own

serves 1

The Ingredients:
2 slices of bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
2-3 Tbsp chopped garlic chives
1/3 cup coarsely ground cornmeal
1 cup water
1/4 cup shredded cheese (pepper jack, colby, cheddar blend)

The Process:
Heat a medium saucepan over medium high heat.  Add the bacon and saute until the bacon is crisp and most of the fat is rendered.  Remove the bacon to a paper towel lined plate to drain.  Add the chives and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the cornmeal to coat in the bacon grease.

Add a small amount of the water, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Add the remaining water, bring the mixture to a boil.  Promptly reduce heat and simmer until the cornmeal is thick and creamy, about 20 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir in the cheese and reserved bacon.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and enjoy.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Seared Scallops with Apple Pan Sauce

I'm on a bit of a Bon Appetite kick.  Have you noticed.  I'm sorry.  It's hard not to devour each issue cover to cover.  With our l
ate late LATE starting spring, many of the seasonal veggies and dishes featured had to be put on the back burner until the just recently.  Oh dear lord, I am looking forward to our CSA boxes.  Summer is a coming...

It is hard to screw up scallops.  Truly.  They are not that hard to make, and rarely require more than a touch of salt an pepper.  The sauce sounded interesting...I love simmering apples with a touch of brown sugar and bourbon for a quick pork or chicken dish.  Topping scallops, why not?

In end result was good, but the scallops really could of held up on their own.  The apple pan sauce was a touch to sweet and almost overpowered the mollusks.  A little bit went a long way...

adapted from Bon Appetite

serves 2

The Ingredients:
1 Granny Smith apple  
1 Tbsp lemon juice  
2 Tbsp hard cider, cream ale or apple juice
1 Tbsp olive oil  
6 large sea scallops
salt and pepper to taste 
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 1/2 tsp unsalted butter

The Process:
Peel and core the apple, cut half into 1-inch cubes. Combine the chopped apple, lemon juice, and cider in a blender and purée until smooth. Strain juice through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl. Cut the remaining apple into 1/4-inch cubes. Add to the puree and set aside. 
Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Season scallops generously with salt and pepper, and sear until golden brown and just cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.
Add butter to the same skillet. Cook, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan. Strip the thyme from its stem and add to the butter. Stir in the apple mixture and cook, until juice is thickened and apple pieces are tender, about 4 minutes. Spoon over scallops.  Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Buttermilk-Brined Roasted Chicken with Kale Cress and Bread Salad

Dishes that come to the table in one large glorious dish never fail to impress.  The chicken and the bitter, hearty and slightly tangy salad accompanying it create a beautiful rustic dish.  It is a hair tedious to prepare, between the 8 hours to marinate and the number of dishes that the salad prep seems to make.  Trust me, dinner will be worth it.

adapted from Bon Appetit

serves 4

The Ingredients:
1 1/2 lemons
1 quart buttermilk
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 chicken, 3-4 lbs
1 bunch fresh marjoram
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 small shallot
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 baguette, ripped into 1 1/2 inch pieces (about 8 cups)
1 bunch watercess, thick stems removed
1 bunch of kale, tough center stem removed

The Process:
Thinly slice one half of a lemon.  Combine the buttermilk, garlic, and salt in a medium bowl.  Place the chicken in a large zip top bag (1-gallon bag will accommodate a 4 lb bird).  Cover with the lemon slices and buttermilk mixture.  Seal, pressing out any excess air.  Refrigerate for at least 8 hours.

Preheat the oven to 425.  Remove the chicken from the marinade.  Rinse in cold water and pat dry. Thinly slice an additional lemon half and quarter the remaining halve.  Working carefully, loosen and peel back the skin of the chicken from the breast.  Place the lemon slices under the skin.  Stuff the chicken with the remaining lemon and the marjoram.  Rub the chicken all over with butter, season with salt and pepper and place on a wire rack set in a large baking dish.

Roast the chicken until the skin begins to crisp, 35-40 minutes.  Reduce the oven temperature to 350 and continue to roast until the chicken is cooked through and registers 165 (about an additional 20-25 minutes).  Transfer the chicken to a large serving casserole and loosely tent with foil.  Keep the oven on.

Pour as much of the pan juices as possible into a large bowl (reserve the baking dish).  Whisk in the shallot, vinegar and oil. 
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour half of the dressing in a small bowl and set aside.  Toss the torn bread into the large bowl with the remaining vinaigrette and toss to coat.  Spread the bread in a single layer on the baking sheet and toast in the oven, turning once or twice until the bread is slightly golden brown but still soft. 

In same large bowl, toss the toasted bread with kale and watercress.  Drizzle the reserved vinaigrette over top. 

Toss to coat and arrange in the serving dish alongside the chicken.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Savory Bread Pudding with Rapini and Prosciutto

Breakfast for dinner?  Certainly!  But this dish is also a twist on what is typically thought of as dessert. Perhaps the end result is more strata than bread pudding.  But with as inexpensive, yet full of flavor dish is, that seems like a minor detail worth overlooking...

adapted from Bon Appetit

serves 4-6

The Ingredients:
1 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 medium bunch rapini, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
6 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 large baguette, torn into 1 inch pieces (about 8 cups)
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan
6-8 thin slices of prosciutto

The Process:
Preheat the oven to 350.  Butter a casserole or baking dish and set aside.

Add the oil to a large skillet set over medium heat.  Add the garlic and pepper flakes, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the rapini and cook, stirring frequently, until the wilted.  Allow to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, milk salt and pepper.  Add the rapini, bread and 1/2 cup Parmesan.  Toss to coat.  Spread the mixture into the prepared baking dish.  Evenly place the prosciutto over the top and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan.

Bake, uncovered, until the pudding is puffed, beginning to brown and is set in center, about 50 minutes.

Serve warm.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Chorizo Spiked Clams with New Potatoes

Ross and I seem to be making good on an attempt to cook seafood with more regularity.  With the exception of weeks I am in dress rehearsals all evening, we've stayed a steady course.  This week's seafood dish: clams steamed in a flavorful broth with enough fresh bread to sop up the juices.  Littleneck or a similarly small clam work best for this.  We had to settle for the larger and slightly grittier ringneck clams as the fish monger was fairly picked over wen we arrived to pick out our dinner.

But hallelujah!  The smoked and cured Spanish chorizo we had such a hard time locating for previous recipes?  Despite the old world meat markets, full service butcher shops and amazing ethnic markets that fill our city?  Turns out the fish monger stocks it on a regular basis.  Paella will not be a problem in the future...

As with any clam, tap the shells on a hard surface.  Any shells that do not snap shut should be discarded.  Place the clams in a bowl of fresh cool water and allow them to rest for at least twenty minutes.  Longer is better.  They will spit out sand and grit during this time.  One at a time, remove the clams from the water and scrub with a soft brush to remove any external dirt.  Continue with your recipe.

adapted from Bon Appetit

serves 2

The Ingredients:
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 oz Spanish chorizo
3/4 lb small new potatoes
4 green onions, whites sliced crosswise and greens sliced on the diagonal
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 cup wheat beer
1 1/4 water or vegetable stock
2 lbs littleneck clams
1 baguette, cut crosswise and lightly toasted

The Process:
In a high sided skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the chorizo and fry, stirring often, until the chorizo begins to crisp and some of the fat has rendered, about 4 minutes.

Add the potatoes, garlic, and onion whites.  Saute, stirring occasionally until the potatoes are tender crisp, about 10 minutes.  Add the beer and cook until reduced by half.  Add the water and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 5-8 minutes longer.

Add the clams and half of the onion greens.  Tightly cover the skillet, and steam until most of the clams half opened, about 10 minutes.  Discard any clams that have not opened.

Divide clams, potatoes and broth among bowls.  Sprinkle with remaining onion greens.  Serve with toasted bread.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Banana Beer Bread

Yard work is futile today.  The sun teased me for about an hour before the dark clouds rolled in and the downpours began.  At this rate, I may never get our front yard redone and our trees planted.  But at least a good chunk of weeds are gone.

So now that I've been forced indoors, what better to do than whip up some banana bread with those three gloriously be-speckled bananas starring at me forlornly from the corner.  It may be a bit too late for breakfast, but it may make up for the lacking of grilling this evening, should the rain decide to not move along.

The banana recipe base is one I've been using for years courtesy of my sister.  I have no idea where the original came from.  I did increase the flour to accommodate the extra liquid, as well as decrease the sugar from the original.  I like my banana bread extra fruity, so in went another banana.  And for an added twist, the pan is dusted with a 50/50 blend of flour and dry malt extract.   If you do not have access to malt extract, all-purpose flour works as well.

I used Lakefront Brewing Company's Wheat Monkey.  It only seemed appropriate.

adapted from my sister's beer-less banana bread recipe.
yeilds 1 loaf

The Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 overripe bananas

The Process:
Preheat the oven to 350.  Generously grease a 9x5 loaf pan and dust with a 50/50 blend of flour and dry malt extract.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.  In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter until fluffy.  Beat in the egg, one at a time, until well incorporated.  Mash in the in the bananas.

Fold the banana mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until the flour is just moistened.  Stir in the beer.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50-55 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and allow to cool for about 15 minutes before removing the loaf from the pan.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Chicken Orzo Soup with Dill and Lemon

Few things are as comforting as a bowl of chicken soup.  Especially since we seem in the midst of the chilly spring that won't quite come full bloom.  But unlike many a hearty winter or fall dish, this Greek inspired soup is steeped with the bright and hopeful taste of summer.  Lemon and dill keep the soup as light and refreshing as it is filling.

Adapted from Bon Appetit

serves 4

The Ingredients:
1 Tsp Olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium leek
1 celery stalk
12 oz skinless boneless chicken thighs
6 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup orzo
1/4 cup fresh dill
1 lemon, quartered
 salt and pepper to taste

The Process:
Rinse the leek well to remove grit and cut in half lengthwise and then sliced crosswise, 1/2 inch thick.  Cut the celery crosswise into 1/2 inch slices.

In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic, leek and celery.  Saute until the vegetables are fragrant and tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the broth and chicken thighs and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Bring the broth to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 15  minutes.  Transfer the chicken to a plate and allow to rest until cool enough to handle.

Return the broth to a boil and add the orzo.  Cook until al dente, about 8 minutes.

Shred the reserved chicken into bite sized pieces and return to the pot.  Allow to heat through.  Remove pot from heat and stir in the dill.

Serve with lemon for a squeeze to finish.