Friday, September 23, 2011

maple black pepper pork chop

So a nice fat pork chop is always pretty good... on this blog alone I've covered quite a number of delicious preparations: breaded and baked, pan seared, coffee marinated, braised pizzaiole and agrodolce.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

dry fried garlic scapes with chorizo and polenta

One of the funny things you get from your CSA at the beginning of the season is garlic scapes, the little shoots that grow our from the bulbs. They are milder that the cloves, and they are only available for a short window of time in the late spring.

I like scapes, but aside from dicing them up for coleslaw or salads, I'm often at a loss of what to do with them. That's why I took note when I saw this recipe for dry fried garlic scapes.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

fried egg with cheddar, scallion, spinach and duck prosciutto/goat cheese, duck prosciutto and arugula sandwich

So in my last post I mentioned the duck prosciutto that I bought at the Union Square Farmer's Market. It was some amazing stuff. I usually just sliced it up and ate it for a snack, but I also added it to a couple of sandwiches, which was always pretty sweet.

It also makes an AWESOME bacon alternative, fried ever so quickly here and served with a little sauteed spinach and a fried egg topped with cheddar and scallions. No meal should be allowed to look AND taste this good. Just a winner on all counts.

Friday, September 16, 2011

eggs poached in buttery sorrel sauce with goat cheese, duck prosciutto and chive blossoms

This dish came together around sorrel. I had never tried it, but a couple of recipes expounding its peppery, lemony tasting virtues had caught my eye, so when I saw a little bunch of it on a lunchtime trip to the farmer's market, I snapped it up in excitement.

In general, it was a particularly successful and inspiring trip to the market. In addition to the sorrel, I got some amazing duck prosciutto, fresh goat cheese, a couple of crusty rolls and some beautiful purple chive blossoms, which I actually got for free. They were being sold attached to the chives, but a number of the flowers had fallen off, so I asked if I could just buy some of the spare blossoms and they kindly threw them in with the sorrel for no extra cost.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

tacos and margaritas, enchiladas and sangria

You so wish you could come over for dinner when Laura and I are cooking. Check out this Cinco de Mayo spread we put together back in May:

My mother's taco recipe: ground beef with all the fixins on a flour tortilla.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

flourless chocolate cake

As you may already know, my brother has celiac and can't eat wheat, so I am always on the look out for good gluten free recipes. This year, when Laura and I threw our annual joined forces for our annual birthday bash, Matt was home for spring break and therefore was able to come share in the celebration.

Great, obviously, but that also meant that I wanted to make a birthday cake that he could eat. Luckily, I'd been holding onto a flourless chocolate cake recipe by David Lebowitz for just an occasion, and it did not disappoint.

Monday, September 12, 2011

winter squash bread pudding

This is a bit of a take on the cheesy stuffed acorn squash, which has definitely one of the richest, tastiest things I made last fall/winter. Ooey gooey cheese and slow baked pumpkin or squash with cubes of bread, fresh herbs and a little cream to ensure it all cooks together into one cohesive mass of deliciousness. It was decadent in the best way.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

spaghetti with bacon, breadcrumbs and arugula

Nathan and I made this when he hosted our book club. The selection was Kurt Vonnegut's Mother Night, the discussion was riveting and the dinner... was actually better as leftovers.

When I found this recipe I was really excited. Bacon and breadcrumbs and arugula and sun dried tomatoes with spaghetti in a creamy sauce... What could possibly go wrong?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

cipolline in agrodolce

I promised you I had one more Roman peasant dish to tell you about, and here it is. Sweet and sour onions, or, in the mother tongue, cipolline in agrodolce. Agrodolce, according to wikipedia, is just a sweet and sour sauce-- the sweet "dolce" component usually being sugar and the sour "agro" element being some sort of vinegar. If you'll recall, we first made an agrodolce sauce for pork chops, using honey and balsamic. Here, it was balsamic and sugar.

Even with the fancy sounding name, an agrodolce sauce is actually really easy to make, and the most difficult part of cooking this recipe is peeling all the little cipollinis. It's not hard per say, just time consuming and a definite pain in the ass. Before you start peeling away, throw your raisins in some hot water so that they'll rehydrate and get nice and plump.

Friday, September 9, 2011

easter lamb, risotto and crepes

In my continuing trend of long overdue holiday meals, I present to you an Easter leg of lamb, stuffed with all sorts of deliciousness and served with a mushroom risotto and homemade strawberry crepes. First, let's talk about the lamb, courtesy of our friend Martha Stewart.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

beet and blood orange salad

So I apologize in advance for the quality of these photos. However, if you, like me, are at a loss for what to do with your food co-op beets, this may be just what you need. Alice Water's beet and blood orange salad

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

roasted ramps

So I already covered my ramp carbonara, but there was one other thing I did with ramps this past spring: I roasted them, plain and simple.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

caramelized bananas over oatmeal

I remember the first time I learned that you could utterly transform bananas into sweet, chewy, crisp, melty banana candy simply by slicing them and pan frying them with butter. I had helped my friend Kevin move, and as a thank you he made breakfast. It was either french toast or waffles, both of which I love and would have been more than satisfied with. Then he asked if I wanted bananas, and I was blown away.

Obviously, caramelized and fried bananas are hardly a culinary innovation. This is basically the same concept of Bananas Foster, without the theatrics of flambeing.

I don't add sugar when I caramelize my bananas, and they are still plenty sweet. If yours aren't particularly ripe, I suppose sugar would help, but I'd honestly advise waiting until the fruit sweetens up naturally in order to yield the best result.

There are two basic versions of this dish: thin sliced and thick sliced. Thick slices afford for the most variation in texture and flavor in each piece, as the center of a thick slice of banana will taste purely of banana. This is very good, but usually I like to slice my banana really thinly, which means that the inner banana gets very soft and almost melts away, while the exterior becomes a delicately crispy sugar shell. If you don't have enough butter in the pan, the fruit can easily stick and all the slices can quickly become a sticky caramelly mess. If that threatens to happen to you, do not fret. It's not as pretty, but it will still taste amazing.

So what can you do with these golden little beauties? They are a welcome addition to breakfasts, brunches and desserts. You could stuff them into crepes with mascarpone or ricotta, layer them with puff pastry and whipped cream, pile them atop a stack of pancakes or french toast, serve them over ice cream... The possibilities are endless.

Today, I chose oatmeal. It was an excellent way to enliven a somewhat dull breakfast food!

Monday, September 5, 2011

ramp carbonara

Obviously, it is September, so all good food bloggers should be writing about late summer tomatoes and peppers and plums. I am not a good food blogger. I am going to write about a delightful seasonal veggie that you can only really get for a couple of weeks out of the year, but procrastinator that I am, it'll be ramps on the menu, AKA something that was out of season by the beginning of June.

I am also a bad blogger because if you take out the ramps, I've already talked to you about this dish six times. That's right, six whole times.

So basically, if you've read my blog before ever, you know how this going to go. The only new step is slowly caramelizing the chopped ramps in the bacon fat after that we got that all nice and crispy. When I was making up the bacon and the ramps, I brought the pasta pot to boil, added salt and then tossed in the spaghetti to cook until al dente.

I actually went traditional on this one, simply tossing the cooked pasta, ramps and bacon with the beaten egg yolk, and then adding cheese. I was really excited with how good this came out. The ramps added a ton of great extra flavor, and I was very pleased to have bought them and finally sampled this spring green market special. It's a shame that we'll have to wait so long before ramps are back at the market, but I fully intend to cook more with them when they are.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

citrus sriracha mayonaise over scallops and avocado salad

I am pretty sure that I have never said this before on this blog: drop what you are doing and make this right now. For reals. Your day off plans for Labor Day are now to make scallops with this awesome sauce. I promise that you'll thank me.

This sauce recipe comes from The Amateur Gourmet, but it's definitely something you can imagine emerging from a professional kitchen, and it's simultaneously really easy to prepare. This was hands down the most elegant thing I've ever made on a weeknight, and Nathan and I couldn't stop exclaiming how good it was.

Of course, it all because clear when you read further and learn that Mr. Amateur Gourmet actually jacked this recipe from none other than famous chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten after NYT restaurant critic Sam Sifton selected it as one of his favorite restaurant dishes of 2010. That certainly goes a long way towards explaining this recipe's brilliance-- and if that's not good enough for you, I don't know what else to say.

So I guess you want to know how to make the dish already, right? Well you better be down to make your own mayo*. Don't worry, your arm might get a little tired, but it's totally doable. I have faith in you. Whisk together a splash of sriracha, pinch of salt and egg yolk, adding your oil drop by drop until you get a nice thick mayo. Then you stir in orange and lime juice to thin it out and add some of that citrusy zing and acidity that pairs so nicely with seafood.

The original sauce was served over big, seared, sea scallops, but as much as I love them, they are a bit rich for my blood. I went for cheaper bay scallops, which had sadly been frozen. Obviously, I didn't achieve that nice golden brown carmelization that you so often see on scallops (I cooked them in butter over medium high heat), but I think that's just fine for these little guys. The sauce went SO SO well with these scallops. A little sweet, a little spicy, and a whole lot of creamy deliciousness. So perfect!

To go with our scallops, we had a bright green salad, tossed with our spicy citrus mayo and topped with slices of orange and avocado. It was an excellent accompaniment. You might find that you don't need a rich mayo based dressing on avocado, but the citrus cuts the richness, and the sriracha adds some bite. It really hit the spot.

So, what are you waiting for? Go make this now!

PS. In a pinch you could probably just add sriracha and citrus to regular Hellmans mayo. Don't tell Jean-George I said so.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

strawberry cornmeal cake

I don't have too much to say about this recipe for strawberry cornmeal pound cake.

It is a tasty breakfast-y cake, very easy to prepare and special because it's not just a pound cake: it's got cornmeal and fresh strawberries. That doesn't make it extraordinary by any means, but it definitely elevates it above your average pound cake.

I love cake recipes that only involve creaming butter and sugar and then stirring in the dry ingredients. I am like the world's slowest baker, but even I can handle that without stopping to consult the directions too many times.

Be warned that this really isn't that sweet. It's more of an afternoon snack type of cake, or a toasted-and-slathered-in-butter breakfast type of cake than it is a big celebration cake. But the strawberries are pretty, and it'd be great for tea. Plan accordingly.

Friday, September 2, 2011

cacio e pepe

This is a famous Roman pasta dish, and I love me some Roman peasant food, so you know that it was only a matter of time before I tried my hand at cacio e pepe. As you might be able to guess, cacio e pepe relies pretty heavily on two ingredients: cheese, and pepper.

I first heard about cacio e pepe about a year and a half ago, when Saveur published an issue about Classic Roman Food. That issue has some pretty amazing recipes in it: their take on carbonara, fagioli e tonno, broccoli strascinati, milk baked fennel, pork chops agrodolce, peperonata, and finally, sweet and sour cipollini onions, which I fully intend to post about soon.

When I first read the issue this pasta dish went right down on my "to make" list, but it probably won't surprise you to learn that said list is about a mile long. Cacio e pepe might have been forgotten entirely were it not for the book and movie Eat, Pray, Love. It's admittedly a little cheesy, a little over the top, female empowerment-esque, but there were definitely moments in both the novel and film that resonated with me. I would say it's probably worth reading if you are interested in spirituality and personal growth. Otherwise it might not be your thing.

Anyway, the first section of the book takes place in Italy, where the super skinny, depressed divorcee author learns to love herself by eating carbs, namely cacio e pepe. This spaghetti dish features prominently in one scene from the movie, and Saveur was kind enough to re-post the recipe from their Roman issueon their website. At the same time, Bon Appetit posted a similar recipe that also caught my fancy. I knew it was finally time to try my hand at another Roman classic.

One thing that all Roman foods seem to have in common is that they are hell of easy to prepare, and this was no exception. I actually felt that it was a little similar to carbonara, in that both traditionally create their creamy sauces without any actual cream. Cacio e pepe is actually an even more stripped down version of carbona however, replacing the hearty bacon and egg simply with pasta water and even more cheese.

The two recipes are nearly identical. One suggests a mix of pecorino romano and grana padano or parmesan, and the other wants you to mix the romano with something called cacio de roma. One has you toast your ground pepper in butter, the other in olive oil. Otherwise, the methodology is identical: toast your pepper, add pasta water, bring it to a boil, and then add your pasta and copious amounts of grated cheese. Stir it over a fairly low flame until it all melds together into one uber creamy sauce.

This pasta is not for the faint of heart: it's A LOT of cheese, and Italian cheeses can be a little overwhelming in bulk. That being said, the sauce comes together beautifully, with an impressive ease. This is definitely a great pasta sauce to have under your belt.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

crispy tilapia fingers with lemon and garlic mayonnaise, pan fried potatoes and roasted asparagus

Sometimes it's hard to beat a nice piece of crispy fried fish, and when I saw that these golden brown tilapia fingers I was just totally taken with the lemon garlic mayo that went with them and had to make them.

Dredged in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs, the filets are seasoned with salt and pepper and then fried, two to three minutes a side in olive oil over medium high heat. It's fried fish, which is always a treat, but what made this preparation a little different is that it calls for extra crispy panko breadcrumbs. I of course have been hearing about how wonderful and crunchy panko breadcrumbs are for years but it's one of those specialized ingredients that has always kind of intimidated me. Let me tell you: I am glad I finally sprung for a can. They add a nice crunchy element to all sorts of dishes, and I'm getting great use out of them.

The accompanying mayo was simple enough: mayonnaise, minced garlic and lemon juice are mixed together. I had some chives on hand, so I minced those and mixed those in for color. Normally I just squeeze a little lemon juice on my fish, so this was a great way to dress up some simple fried fish with a nice zesty sauce. (You'll notice I still couldn't resist tossing an extra lemon wedge on the plate.)

I served the fish with some asparagus that I quickly roasted with garlic and olive oil. I am not big on asparagus, but this was a pretty decent preparation of it.

I also made these little smashed potatoes, first boiled and then pressed down into a hot frying pan with olive oil and butter until the bottoms get fried to a beautiful golden brown and finally served with a sprinkling of fresh chives. The crusty edges are pretty tasty, but of all three components of this meal, this is definitely the one I am least inclined to make again. This just isn't a special enough way to make potatoes.

So there you have it: a tasty dinner of fried fish, roasted asparagus and smashed potatoes. Not too shabby.