Archive for January, 2008

23rd January
2008
written by scott

stuffed sole 
You may already know papa’s brand new bag, but this little number is sure to awaken the funky spirit within you.  Stuffed with a blend of chanterelle mushrooms, capers and thyme, this sex machine of a dish will have your guests begging please, please, please for seconds.  Say it loud: I cook and I’m proud!
(Note: If you’re not rolling your eyes right now, you’re probably related to me.)

Makes: 2 people feel good (nah-ne nah-ne nah-ne-ne)
Total kitchen time: 30 mins

Shopping list:

  • 2 fillets of sole
  • 2 oz. chanterelle mushrooms (fresh if you can find ‘em)
  • 2 tbsp. capers
  • 5 sprigs thyme
  • 2 tbsp. coarse bread crumbs (a few crumbled crackers will do the trick)
  • 1 tbsp. coarse cornmeal
  • 1 pat butter
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • coarse salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.  Set the upper rack in the top third of the oven.
  2. Thoroughly clean and rinse the mushrooms.  Dry them well with a paper towel and chop into 1/4″ cubes.
  3. Heat the butter in a medium skillet over high heat.  Add the mushrooms and sauté until they have browned slightly, about 5 minutes.  Add the lemon juice and cook for another minute or so.  Remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. Roughly chop together the mushrooms, capers, thyme and breadcrumbs. Lightly salt and pepper the sole fillets.  Place a small mound of the mushroom and caper mixture in the center of each fillet and roll into a tube.  The fillets will be delicate, so be extra careful when handling them.  Dust each fillet with cornmeal.
  5. Heat the olive oil in a large, ovenproof skillet over medium heat.  Once the oil has started to glisten like a rhinestone cape, add the fillets.  Once they’ve hit the pan, don’t even think about moving them unless you want to end up with Godfather of Sole Helper.  Sear the bottom of the fillets until golden brown, about 2 minutes. 
  6. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the fish is cooked.  It should flake when you poke it with a fork.  I’ve always thought this was dumb advice, though.  Like saying your tire pressure is correct if the tire pops when you stab it with a needle.  The fish is done when it’s done.  Use your eyes.

Plate and serve with a mushroom risotto and a parmesan red chili fritter.   Git up and git down!

13th January
2008
written by scott

lobster with white chocolate and pomegranate 
If you’re looking for a Valentine’s Day treat, this recipe screams Besame Mucho!  In an unusual but spot-on pairing, the white chocolate and pomegranate bolster the delicate flavor of the lobster without overpowering it.  Plus, your date will think you spent years at culinary school for pulling off this dish.  You can skip the Panther Musk cologne tonight – this meal is the only aphrodisiac you’ll need.

Makes: 2 lovers swoon
Total kitchen time: 30 minutes

Shopping list:

  • 2 fresh lobster tails (as large or small as your budget)
  • 1 pomegranate (or, if you’re in a hurry, 1/2 cup pomegranate juice)
  • 4 Oz. high-quality white chocolate
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.  Set the top rack about 10″ below the heating element.  This recipe also works great in a toaster oven, if you’ve got one.
  2. Cut off the top and bottom of the pomegranate.  In a large bowl filled halfway with water, peel apart the pomegranate.  The arils (they look like purple corn kernels) will sink to the bottom and the pith will float to the top.  Discard all but the arils. 
  3. Using my favorite squeezing tool, a potato ricer, squeeze as much juice as possible from the arils and reserve.
  4. Prepare each lobster tail by removing the membrane that covers the meat.  Turn the tail upside down (as pictured) and cut away the transparent exoskeleton by trimming along the edges. 
  5. Arrange the lobster tails, meat side up, on a rimmed baking sheet.  If necessary, make a “U” out of a tin foil log to help keep the tails stable.  Divide the butter between the two tails and bake for 15 minutes or until the lobster is just tender.
  6. Reduce the pomegranate juice in a small skillet over very high heat.  You’re looking for the juice to reduce by about half, or until it starts to look slightly syrupy. 
  7. Melt the white chocolate in a small saucepan over VERY low heat.  White chocolate will burn easily if it is overheated.  If this happens, throw out the chocolate and start again. 
  8. Once the white chocolate is melted, drizzle in the reduced pomegranate juice.  Use a spoon to swirl the pomegranate into the white chocolate so it looks pretty.
  9. Plate the lobster and spoon the white chocolate sauce onto the meat.

Serve hot atop a bed of julienned asian pears.  As a side, try a souffle or a panzanela salad.  You and your date will be quite happy for your efforts.

13th January
2008
written by scott

DSC_0145 
Hi readers.  It’s me, the modern man.  Like my ancestors, I am predisposed to certain indulgences: domestic beer, ball park hot dogs, sandwiches measured in board-feet…  However, decades of instinctual evolution have led me to master the elevation of my desires.  I present to you now, the modern man’s potato chip.  Crunchy, salty and faithful in spirit to the ancient bagged recipes found at 7-11, these chips are the missing link between Monday Night Football-era Doritos and pre-Symphony crostini.

Makes: 1 Jumbo-Sized Mega Bag
Total kitchen time: 30 mins

Shopping list:

  • 2 lbs. russet potatoes, skin-on, cleaned well
  • 1 tbsp. safflower oil
  • 2 tbsp. red Hawaiian sea salt

Note: The oil and salt you use will really define the flavor of these chips.  Don’t use olive oil, since the smoke point is too low.  I used safflower oil, but you can also try canola oil, or any other oil suitable for frying.  Please, for the sake of modern men everywhere, don’t use table salt.  Find the spice aisle of your nearest (finer) grocery store and peruse their collection of finishing salts.  You’ll undoubtedly uncover some interesting varieties – experiment and find the flavor that you like best.

  1. Preheat your oven to 450°F.  Set the top rack about 10″ below the heating element.
  2. Set the depth on your mandoline or v-slicer to .75mm or 1mm.  If you don’t have a mandoline, you can use a knife to slice the potatoes but you had better be a samurai to get the slices thin and even.
  3. Slice the potatoes into discs.  Blot the potato discs with paper towels to remove some of the moisture. 
  4. In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with the safflower oil and salt.  Lightly grease a baking sheet and arrange the potato slices so they don’t overlap.  You’ll need to do this in several batches (working 2 at a time) to get through all 2 lbs. of potatoes.
  5. Bake for about 6 minutes, or until spots of brown appear.  Pay very close attention to the potatoes towards the end of 6 minutes – they’ll go from light brown to burnt quickly.
  6. Remove the chips from the baking sheet with a board scraper or spatula into a large bowl.  Serve promptly!
05th January
2008
written by scott

DSC_0064 
When flu season comes around, it’s important to soothe your aching throat with something healthy and delicious.  Yes, of course you’ll have plenty of tea and honey, but why not try a cold treat to numb away your woes? 

Makes: 1 prescription quart
Total kitchen time: 20 minutes plus freezing time

Shopping List:

  • 6 blood oranges (you can cheat and buy blood orange juice – about 1.5 cups)
  • 1 cup Muscat (dessert wine; you can drink the rest)
  • 1/2 cup blue agave nectar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla almond tea (loose tea in an infuser, or about 4 tea bags)
  • 1 tsp. lavender (in an infuser, or find lavender tea, about 2 bags)
  • 2 cups water
  1. Juice the blood oranges through a fine mesh screen to remove any pulp or seeds.  I used my potato ricer to get the oranges squozen.  
  2. Combine the blood orange juice, Muscat, agave nectar, vanilla bean (including the pod) and ginger in a medium pot.  Bring the liquid just to a boil, then remove from heat.
  3. Add the tea and lavender in an infuser or in loose tea bags.  Let the mixture steep for 10 minutes.  Remove and discard the tea.
  4. Add the water and refrigerate the mixture overnight or until cold.  Then, freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.

If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can still-freeze this recipe in a large, shallow baking dish.  Pour in the mixture and put it in the coldest part of your freezer.  Every 20 minutes or so, scrape the sorbet with the tines of a fork to break up the ice crystals.  You’ll end up with more of a granita than a sorbet, but it will still be delicious.

02nd January
2008
written by scott

dinner party collage 
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the coming of a new year than with good food and great friends.  Here’s a menu for an elegant New Years Eve, or any other worthy occasion.

I’d recommend pairing a dry, white wine such as a Dry Gewürztraminer with the hors d’ouvres, salad and soup courses.  For the entree, try a full-bodied Merlot.  If you’re still feeling adventurous, pop the cork on a bottle of Brut Champagne with dessert.

02nd January
2008
written by scott

hazelnut gelato

This dessert is so good that you’ll make an “ooo” face when you eat it.  The silkiness of this gelato comes not from some mysterious culinary secret, but from the inclusion of lots and lots of fat.  There’s no two ways around it, folks: great ice cream is heavy (iced) cream.  I’m confident that your guests can look past your nutritional indiscretions for a rare treat like this.

Makes: 8 bowls of hazelnut heaven
Total kitchen time: 20 minutes plus freezing

Shopping list:

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream (get the best stuff you can find)
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 13 Oz. nutella hazelnut spread
  • 1 personal trainer
  1. In a large saucepan, combine the cream, half and half, and sugar.  Over medium heat, bring the mixture to 170°F.
  2. Remove the mixture from the heat and add the nutella – yes, all of it.  Wisk together until well combined.
  3. Refrigerate the mixture until it has chilled thoroughly, at least 6 hours.  Then, freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.

That’s it.  No special magic, just a lot of tasty ingredients and a carefree attitude towards gravity.  Garnish with a dessert wafer, or serve with fresh raspberries.

02nd January
2008
written by scott

prime rib 
Majestic, isn’t it?  For many households, prime rib is a once-a-year tradition.  After all, there’s something about the Flintstones-sized scale of this chunk of cow that begs for a special occasion.  However, preparing this roast couldn’t be simpler.

Makes: 6 Flinstones cars flip
Total kitchen time: about 3 hours

Shopping list:

  • 1 6-lb. bone-in rib roast
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Do ahead: season the roast with coarse salt and pepper and place in a roasting pan.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate, 1-3 days.
  2. Let the roast come to room temperature for about 2 hours before cooking.  Preheat the oven to 425°F and adjust the rack so your roast will be in the middle of the oven.
  3. Bake the roast, bone side down, for about 20 minutes or until a crust has started to form.  Flip the roast over and reduce the heat to 300°F.  Bake until the internal temperature reaches about 125°F, about 2 hours, basting often with the pan drippings. If you have a probe thermometer, this is a great time to use it.  If you have an instant-read or meat thermometer, that will work too.  You want to carefully ensure that the roast doesn’t cook too quickly, or the meat will be dry and tough.  If necessary, reduce the oven temperature so that you glide into 125° as slowly as possible.
  4. Remove the roast and let it rest at least 30 minutes before carving.  If you skip this step, you’ve just wasted all the hard-earned money you spend on this glorious slab of beef. 

Horseradish Cream Sauce:

  • 1 1/2 tbsp. horseradish root, grated
  • 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup diced white onion
  • 2 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a small saucepan, combine the butter and flour over meduim-high heat.  Add the onion and sweat about 5 minutes.  Add the roasted garlic and stir to combine.
  2. Add the horseradish root (as much or as little as you like) and cream.  Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
  3. Using an immersion blender, food processor or regular blender, puree the sauce until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper (and more horseradish root!!!)
02nd January
2008
written by scott

twice baked potato rounds 
Do you love potatoes but hate their shape?  Then try new twice-baked potato rounds.  The same great potato taste you love (actually, much better) with out the oval shape!  Try twice-baked potato rounds at dinner, at the office, at the beach, or enjoy as a delicious snack anytime!  Twice-baked potato rounds are light, fluffy and moist – a treat the whole family can enjoy.  But you can’t buy twice-baked potato rounds in stores… they’re only available through our exclusive online offer. 

Makes: 10 delicious twice-baked potato rounds, for a limited time only
Total kitchen time: 45 minutes

Shopping list:

  • 2 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 cloves roasted garlic
  • 3 tbsp. grated parmesan
  • 2 Oz. crumbled sharp blue cheese (such as Rogue River or Stilton)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Cook the potatoes.  That’s a guidance-free, bold statement, isn’t it?  OK, you could bake the potatoes in the oven, but that takes about 3 calendar months.  Here’s what I like to do: cut the potatoes into about 1″ cubes and put them in a Pyrex dish full of hot water.  Microwave the little buggers for, oh, 15 minutes or so.  Cooking time will vary (a lot) but you want the potatoes to be very forgiving when you insert a fork.  Strain the potatoes in a colander and rinse quickly with cold water.  This does two things – 1) it cools off the potatoes so they’re easier to handle, and 2) it removes just a little bit of starch so out finished product doesn’t have such a glue-like consistency.
  2. While your potatoes are cooking, preheat the oven to 425°F and set the top rack about 8″ below the heating element.
  3. Next, you’ll want to grab your potato ricer.  If you don’t have one (and you make mashed potatoes more than twice a century) go order one.  Rice the potatoes into a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients, reserving a small amount of blue cheese for the tops.  It is important not to overwork the potatoes at this point – they’ll become gluey.  Just mix (or fold) until everything is combined.
  4. Cover a baking sheet with a piece of cooking parchment.  Place a pastry ring (or biscuit cutter) on the parchment and spoon in the potatoes.  Gently remove the ring to leave a biscuit-shaped potato mound.  If you don’t have a ring, you can grease a 1/2 cup measure or form the shapes by hand. 
  5. Top the rounds with a dollop of the remaining blue cheese and bake until just slightly golden, about 6 minutes.

Of course, you can use this recipe for classic twice-baked, re-stuffed potatoes.  However, I like the idea of baking them outside of the shells.  If you have a pastry bag with a wide tip, get creative with shapes and designs.  You and your guests will love the results.

01st January
2008
written by scott

butternut squash soup 
My best testimonial for this soup was a pile of licked-clean bowls.  Butternut squash is so versatile that there are hundreds of variations on this recipe.  Add chilies and coconut milk for a spicy Asian twist, or add roasted peppers and goat cheese and serve this dish on a hot summer evening.  My version uses classic winter spices for a savory, bold flavor.

Makes: 6 guests go butter-nuts! (too corny?)
Total kitchen time: 1.5 hours

Shopping list:

  • 2 small butternut squash, halved
  • 5 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 pat butter
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 2 cups chicken stock (hot)
  • 2 cups heavy cream (warm)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. grated ginger
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds for garnishing
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F.  Place the squash, cut side down, in a large roasting pan.  Add about one inch of water to the pan.  Cover the pan with aluminum foil and roast the squash until they are very tender, about 1 hour. 
  2. Once the squash has cooled, remove it from the skin and cut it into small cubes.  Heat the butter and 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large saucepan.  Add the onion and sweat over low heat until it is tender and transparent, about 10 minutes.  Add the roasted garlic and stir to combine.
    DSC_0021
  3. Add the butternut squash and 1 cup each of chicken stock and heavy cream.  Using an immersion blender (or a food processor), blend until smooth. 
  4. Continue adding the remaining stock and cream until you reach the desired consistency.  Add the cloves, nutmeg, ginger, salt and pepper.  Adjust the seasonings to taste. 

You and your guests will be very happy with this soup.  If you leave out most of the liquid, the same recipe makes a great filling for homemade ravioli. 

01st January
2008
written by scott

pear and beet salad Funny story… I prepared this “salad” for an elaborate, multi-course dinner party.  Halfway through chopping the beets, I realized that I forgot to buy lettuce!  My little oversight turned out to be quite an elegant first course.  Try this one out next time you have guests over – just don’t forget any other ingredients!

Makes: 6 guests forget all about greens
Total kitchen time: 10 minutes

Shopping list:

  • 3 ripe Bosc pears, skin on, cleaned well
  • 3 red beets, tops trimmed, skin on
  • 4 Oz. Stilton (a pungent blue cheese)
  • 2 cups candied walnuts
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (use the best stuff you have)
  • 2 tbsp. aged balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 twists black pepper
  1. Boil the beets in a large pot of water until they are fork-tender, about 25 minutes.  Drain and let the beets cool.  Oh, by the way, you should probably change clothes right about now.  Beets will stain, and you probably don’t want bright red sleeves right before your soirée. 
  2. Peel the beets and chop them into thin slices, as pictured above.  Set aside.
  3. Combine the garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, salt and pepper in a food processor and blend until smooth.  Adjust with salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar if necessary.
  4. Trim the top 1/2 inch off of the pears.  Slice in half from pole to pole.  Use a melon baller or a metal 1 tsp. measure to remove the seeds from each half of the pear.  Remove the bottom stem by cutting a wedge out of the pear with your knife.
    chopping pears
  5. Slice the pears into 1/8″ pieces and arrange five or six slices on a plate.  Pile a small mound of sliced beets, a bit of stilton and some candied walnuts nearby.  Drizzle with the balsamic vinaigrette just before serving.

Now, you could add lettuce back to this recipe, but I don’t think it’s needed.  Have fun with the plating too – create a “tower of pears” or a “nest of beets”.  Your first course will set the mood for the rest of the meal, so have fun with it.  Oh, and don’t forget, uh, what was I saying?