Saturday, April 30, 2011

I love Italian!

The May issue of bon appetit is The Italy Issue. Pretty much everything in it is inspiring. I started with a salad because that's what I start thinking of in spring. This salad has some of my favorite things including canned tuna, potatoes and arugula. Plus it's warm! Look on page 38 for more ideas with canned tuna.

Warm potato and tuna salad my way

~3/4 pound fingerling potatoes, rinsed
1 medium shallot, minced
4 ribs celery, trimmed and diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 bay leaves
1 spring fresh thyme
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
whole peppercorns
extra virgin olive oil
red wine vinegar
2 small cans Italian tuna packed in olive oil
several handfuls of arugula
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and chopped
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped (See note below)

Boil potatoes in salted water with 1/2 of the shallots, 1/2 celery, the carrots, bay leaves and thyme. Add 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns. Boil gently until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain. Let cool slightly and slice. Toss with about 1 tablespoon each of olive oil and red wine vinegar. Set aside.

Drain the tuna and mix with chopped capers and the other 1/2 of the shallots and celery. Add another tablespoon or so of the red wine vinegar and toss with the sliced potatoes. Add the arugula and toss. Add more olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with hard boiled eggs.

Serve while warm. Delish! This really hit the spot. It would be great with some crusty bread and a crisp glass of wine. Enjoy!

Note: I have a good method for perfect hard boiled eggs that my cousin, Lisa, taught me many years ago. Place eggs in pot or tea kettle with lid in cold water. Bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and if the lid is not on put on. Let sit in water for 10 minutes. The eggs will be hard boiled but not gray/green. The beauty of the tea kettle is that it tells you when the water is boiling so that you don't overcook them. Remove from the water and rinse in cold water and crack. Peel when ready or after they've cooled.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Spiced Lamb Chops

I saw these yummy looking lamb chops and pickled red onions in the March 2011 issue of bon appetit. The recipe is from Monica Bhide and is inspired by her mother's cooking.
The combination was wonderful and we had them with our first asparagus of the season.

Spiced Lamb Chops my way

8 whole cloves
1 dried chile like chile negro entero, stem removed
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
6 ounces goat milk plain yogurt
2 teaspoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
6 lamb rib chops, excess fat trimmed

Combine first 5 ingredients in small skillet. Stir over medium heat until spices are aromatic and slightly darker in color, about 3 minutes. Let cool. Finely chop spices in food processor. Combine spices, yogurt, and ginger in non metal baking dish big enough to hold the chops. Add lamb chops and turn to coat with mixture. Let marinate 60 minutes or overnight.

Preheat broiler. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil. Arrange chops on baking sheet. Broil lamb to desired doneness, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare.

Pickled Red Onions

1 1/2 cups hot water
1 cup distilled white vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
kosher salt
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 serrano chile, halved lengthwise
1/8 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

Combine hot water, vinegar, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt in glass bowl. Stir until sugar and salt dissolves. Add onions, serrano and crushed red pepper. Stir to blend. Cover and chill at least 1 hour or overnight.

Use a slotted spoon to serve the onions with the lamb chops. Mike and I really loved this dish. The spices were delicious. I roasted the asparagus with extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper and toasted it with feta cheese. It was a really fit with the lamb. Enjoy!

Friday, April 22, 2011

My famous cousin, Lisa

My cousin Lisa Weiss, the famous cookbook author, has a new book out with Emily Luchetti, the very famous and talented pastry chef at Farallon and Waterbar in San Francisco. I went to their book signing party last week at Waterbar and ate some yummy desserts. They gave me a book because I helped coordinate the volunteer bakers. Lucky me! The name of their new book is The Fearless Baker. Of course when I got home I read though it, salivated and enjoyed the pictures. Check out Lisa's dog, Chita on page 96 and the dedication to their husbands and dogs.

Mike and I were invited to our neighbor's, Adam, Jennifer & Vivenne, house for dinner Sunday night and they very fortuitously asked me to bring dessert. The problem was picking out which recipe to make out of my new cookbook, too many good ones to choose from. I decided on strawberries since they're in season and settled on the Double Strawberry Cream Tart. Good choice! I love sour cream and strawberries. Their instructions are flawless and it turned out perfectly.

The Fearless Baker Double Strawberry Cream Tart, pages 142 and 146

Basic Sugar Short Dough

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2 inch cubes, it can be frozen
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons cold water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place flour, sugar, salt and butter cubes in food processor bowl. Pressing the pulse button quickly, pulse the mixture until the butter is the size of small peas. Do not overmix. Whisk the egg yolk, water and vanilla together in a small bowl. Add it to the dry ingredients and pulse until the dough comes together into several small clumps. Do not process to the point where it forms a ball.

Place the dough on a cooking board or other work surface and press the lumps together. Separate the dough into 2 or 3 pieces and place into 9 inch removable bottom tart pan. Use your fingers to press the dough over the bottom of the pan. make the dough as even as possible, breaking off pieces and re-placing elsewhere as needed. Put the pan with the dough in the freezer for about 20 minutes or refrigerate for 45 minutes. Be careful not to push up on the bottom of the pan. You can place the tart pan on a baking sheet.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the dough for about 30 minutes until the edges are golden brown. Let cool.

Double Strawberry Cream tart

2 pints organic strawberries, stemmed and washed
1/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Put half in the strawberries cut into 1/2 pieces in a small saucepan with 1/3 sugar. Cook over medium heat until the mixture is thick and jammy. Stir occasionally, about 10-15 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Spread the cooked strawberries over the baked crust.

Mix together the sour cream, 1 1/2 tablespoon sugar and the vanilla. Spread over the strawberries.

Slice the other half of the strawberries lengthwise through the stem end and arrange on top of the tart.

This tart can be refrigerated up to 6 hours. Let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature before serving if chilled first.

This was a big hit. My neighbor, Adam, had 2 pieces and we split the leftovers. Mike happily ate the leftovers. Thanks Emily & Lisa! Enjoy!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bacon, Meatballs & Stroganoff - 'nuff said?!

I get so much in my inbox every morning I spend alot of time deleting things. Apparently at some point I subscribed to I'm glad I did because I love meatballs and these babies are good. The meatball and stroganoff recipes came to my inbox and I made it for a dinner party.

My guests were happy, Mike was happy. It was a good thing. This is rich and filling so I did not serve an appetizer just a butter lettuce, avocado and fresh cracked crab salad with a grapefruit vinaigrette.

Bacon Meatballs my way

4 strips bacon, diced
1⁄2 red onion, diced
2 large garlic cloves, peeled, cored and pressed
~1 pound grass fed ground beef
1⁄2 cup dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400°. Coat a broiler pan with foil.

Cook bacon in a non stick skillet over medium-high heat until crisp, turning over as needed. Remove and drain on paper towels. Pour off all bacon drippings from skillet.

Sauté onion in same skillet over medium heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic to skillet and cook, 1 minute.

Combine beef, bacon, onion & garlic, bread crumbs, parsley, paprika, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Stir in beaten egg.

Form mixture into 1-inch meatballs and place on prepared broiler pan. Bake meatballs until fully cooked, about 10 minutes.

Meatball Stroganoff my way

~ about 1/2 pound white mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, diced
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
12 ounces fresh egg noodles like tripoline
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1⁄2 cup dry white wine
4 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1⁄2 cup low fat sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Boil salted water in a large pot for egg noodles.

Sauté mushrooms in olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Sauté onion, paprika, and cayenne in remaining oil in same skillet until onion is soft, about 5 minutes.

Prepare noodles according to package directions; drain, toss with butter, and set aside.

Deglaze skillet with wine; simmer until liquid is nearly evaporated. Sprinkle flour over onions and stir.

Whisk in broth. Add lemon juice and mustard; simmer until thick, 8–10 minutes.

Stir in cooked mushrooms, sour cream, dill, and meatballs. Cook until meatballs are heated through. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over noodles.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Healthy Vietnamese Pork Salad

I got this recipe form Women's Health. It's healthy, delicious and different.

Vietnamese Pork Salad my way

~12 ounce natural pork tenderloin
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
3 tablespoons sugar
1 clove garlic, peeled, cored and pressed
2 tablespoons fish sauce
i bag shredded cabbage & carrot coleslaw mix
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup lightly salted peanuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place pork on a foil-lined baking sheet; sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt and cook until thermometer registers 160 degrees F, about 25 minutes. Let meat rest for 10 minutes. Cut meat into bite size pieces.

Place lime juice, sugar, and garlic in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with microwave-safe plastic wrap and microwave on high until sugar melts, 20 to 30 seconds. Let cool. Stir in fish sauce and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt.

In a large bowl, gently toss coleslaw mix, scallions, and cilantro. Pour lime mixture over veggies, add pork, and toss gently. Top salad with nuts before serving.

This was simple, quick and delicious. Enjoy!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Last Gasp of Winter

The local spring vegetables are just starting to come in but there are a few local winter veggies still around. Mike and I love Brussels sprouts and cauliflower and when I saw this recipe in the San Francisco Chronicle I wanted to try it before they were all gone. I decided to add chicken and make it a main dish. You could also add sausages or some other protein.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Cauliflower Pasta my way

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into bite size pieces
2 cups chicken stock
~3/4 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut into halves or quarters
1 small head of cauliflower, cut into bite size florets
~2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
~12 ounces spaghetti
juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Arrange two racks in middle of oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Separately toss cauliflower and Brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Place Brussels sprouts and cauliflower on separate rimmed baking sheet. Bake about 15minutes until nicely browned. Stir vegetables. Rotate baking sheets from top to bottom. Bake another 15 minutes. The pieces should be cooked through, but still retain some bite.

While the vegetables are cooking, brown the chicken in a non-stick skillet with olive oil, about 5 minutes per side. Add the stock and simmer for about 15 minutes until cooked through and the stock is reduced.

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and save some cooking water.

Combine Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, chicken with stock and pasta. Toss with lemon juice and pasta water if necessary. Add cheese and season with more salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Garnish with pine nuts and parsley. Serve in bowls.

There will be leftovers which is good because it was delicious and we'll have to wait until next year for more Brussels sprouts. Enjoy!