Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Zucchini with Mint & Parsley

This might just be the fastest, easiest side dish ever invented. I love the mint and zucchini together - thank you, Rachael Ray. Perfect with a New York strip steak and sauce made from pan drippings. Serves 2

4 small zucchini, 1/2" slice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c fresh mint, roughly chopped
1/2 c fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

Coat a large saute pan with EVOO (a couple of TB) and heat on medium. Saute the zucchini and garlic 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until just tender. Add the mint, parsley, salt & pepper and cook another minute.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

This is Ina Garten's recipe from Back to Basics. Easy, fairly fast, freezes well, perfection in a bowl! Serves 4

3 lb butternut squash, peeled and cut in 1" cubes
2 small or 1.5 medium yellow onions, cut in 1" dice
1.5 McIntosh or Fuji apples, peeled, cored and cut in 1" cubes
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
3+ c vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 tsp mild curry powder

Sliced banana (sounds weird but tastes really good!)
Roasted, salted cashews (nice crunchy texture)
Sliced scallions (nice texture and offsets the sweetness of the squash and apples)

Preheat oven to 400*F

Put the squash, onions and apples on a half sheet pan. Drizzle liberally with EVOO and toss to coat. Sprinkle  with salt & pepper.

Roast for 35-40 minutes until everything is soft and there's a bit of caramelization on the vegetables. Pass the cooked vegetables through a food mill fitted with the medium blade or process the veg in batches in a food processor with enough stock to help it puree smoothly. Transfer to a dutch oven or large soup pot, and add enough stock to make a thick soup, approximately 3 cups. Add the curry powder, warm through, and taste for more curry powder, salt & pepper.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Potato Latkes (Pancakes) with Applesauce

Oh, yummmm! This sweet version with applesauce is perfect with breakfast sausage patties. (I topped my patties with applesauce as well.)

For more savory versions as a side dish for pork, you could add 1 TB finely grated onion, a clove of garlic also finely grated, 1/4 tsp ground marjoram and 1/4 tsp fennel seed. Serves 3-4.

2 large Idaho or Russet potatoes, peeled
1 large pasture raised egg, room temperature
1 + 1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 TB potato flour
3-4 TB coconut oil

Organic unsweetened applesauce with cinnamon (yes, cinnamon! it's really good with both the latkes and the sausage!)

Heat the coconut oil over medium heat in a large saute pan (do not use non-stick). In a medium mixing bowl, beat the egg, salt & pepper together. Grate the potatoes on a box grater in the center of a clean, dry kitchen towel. Wrap up the towel, hold over the sink and squeeze out as much liquid as possible: press against the side of the sink to get the last bit out.

Dump the potatoes into the bowl with the egg and use your fingers or a fork to separate the shredded potato. Sprinkle the potato flour over the potato and use a fork to mix well. Use two forks to drop about 3 TB worth of shredded potato into the hot oil. Repeat until you have about 5 or 6 latkes in the pan. Do not mash or press the potatoes together! This will allow them to cook more quickly and more surface area to brown, making them nice and crunchy. Cook about 3 minutes on each side, or until they're nicely browned.

When you're ready to remove them from the pan, use 2 spatulas and gently squeeze them together to get out the excess oil before putting them on a plate. Serve hot with applesauce.

*Note: if you have leftovers, you can refrigerate them and reheat in a toaster oven but be sure to put them on a plate or metal pan with sides! The oil in the latkes could drip down onto your heating element and at best, set off your smoke alarm; at worst, catch fire.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Breakfast Sausage Patties and Eggs

We're very fortunate to be able to buy our plain ground pork from a local Amish farm. It's very lean, about 10% fat, yet cooks up very moist and tender because of the maple syrup. It can take some patience and digging on the Internet to find affordable pasture raised proteins, but it's worth the effort. This is my newest (and our favorite) version of breakfast sausage. Great with eggs over easy for Jeff and scrambled for me. Serves 3-4

1 lb lean, unseasoned pasture raised ground pork sausage
1 rounded tsp dried sage
1 rounded tsp pinch kosher salt
1 rounded tsp fennel seed
1/4 tsp dried marjoram
2.5 tsp organic maple syrup
3 pinches crushed red pepper flakes

4 pasture raised eggs, room temperature
pinch of kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
4 dashes Tabasco (optional)

Preheat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients so they're evenly distributed. Wet your hands with tap water and form 5 equal size patties. Cook 5 minutes on each side so they're no longer pink but still juicy. Remove to a dinner plate and cover with a skillet lid to keep warm while you cook the eggs.

I added a TB of EVOO to the pan and cooked 2 eggs over easy, and then 2 scrambled with Tabasco, so they pick up all the fond (caramelly bits) left in the pan from the sausage.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Julia Child's French Onion Soup

The first time I ever made this, I didn't have any beef stock on hand so I roasted our leftover Thanksgiving turkey carcass and made stock from it. It was so rich, with such deep flavor, it was unbelievable, and since then I've always used homemade roasted stock. This time, I used our leftover Easter leg of lamb carcass. (You don't taste lamb, just lots of rich meaty flavor.) You can make this with any roasted stock, even vegetable. My version has more onions (Julia's recipe calls for 5 c onions to 2 qt stock) but since we aren't topping it with cheese and bread I wanted it to be more substantial. Serves 3-4 and freezes beautifully.

5 large sweet onions like Vidalia or Walla Walla, thinly sliced on a mandoline
1 tsp kosher salt
1 TB tapioca flour
1 qt roasted stock
1/3 c dry white wine, not aged in oak barrels
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
1-2 TB cognac (I use Decourtet)

Heat the EVOO in a dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the onions, toss with tongs to coat with oil, cover and cook about 15 minutes. Uncover, raise the heat to medium and add the salt. Since you're using sweet onions with lots of natural sugars, you don't need to add any sugar to help the browning process. Cook about 40-50 minutes, stirring often, until the onions have caramelized to a deep, golden brown.

Sprinkle the tapioca flour over the onions. Stir and cook another 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and add the stock and wine, and season with salt & pepper to taste. It will feel like something's missing; that's going to be the cognac, which comes later. Put it back on the heat and simmer, partially covered, 30-40 min longer.

Before serving, remove from heat and add the cognac. Stir it in, then taste for salt & pepper. Serve immediately.

Shrimp Scampi

Mmmm, garlic and wine make everything taste good. Cooking the spaghetti squash in the sauce for 4-5 minutes will improve the texture, plus it absorbs all the beautiful flavors. Roasted or steamed broccoli makes a great side dish, and you can bake it alongside the squash. Serves 2.

1 1.5# spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed
Water or chicken stock

1/2 lb 30-40 ct shrimp (about 16), shells off, tails on, deveined, rinsed & drying on paper towels
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 healthy pinches crushed red pepper
1 lemon, zested & juiced
1/4-ish c dry white wine, not aged in oak
Big handful fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 400*F

Place cleaned squash cut side down in a baking dish or roasting pan, on a half sheet pan and pour in 1/4" water or chicken stock.

Bake 45 minutes. Check the liquid level at about 30 minutes and add more if needed. Turn the squash over and bake another 15 minutes or until very tender. Remove from baking pan and let cool enough to handle. Use a fork to scrape out the pulp in long spaghetti-like strands into a dish and set aside. The picture below is from a different squash. One 9" in length yields a lot of squash, more than you will need for this dish. Freeze the extra for later.

Warm the EVOO over medium-low heat in a large saute pan. Add the garlic & saute for a couple of minutes. Add the shrimps & season with salt & pepper. Cook just till both sides of the shrimps turn pink (you turned them over) but aren't cooked all the way through, about 3 minutes. Remove the shrimps and set aside. Add the lemon zest & juice, wine, red pepper flakes & parsley, then put the cooked squash in the pan. Cook and toss with tongs for about 4-5 minutes so the squash absorbs all the flavors. Add the shrimps back in & cook for another minute until they're completely opaque.