Monday, May 31, 2010

Peter's antipasto calzone

Appropriately we give a nod to Giada DeLaurentiis for the idea, but Peter made this his own. The idea (as the name suggests) is to have a calzone stuffed with the stuff you'd find on an antipasto plate. This bugger was huge! What you see above is only half of it!
Peter's antipasto calzone
1 lg. ball of pizza dough;
flour, for dusting;
cornmeal, for dusting.

4 oz. slab of salami, chopped finely;
1/4 cup Castelvetrano or other cured or brined olives, pitted and chopped fine;
2 jarred roasted red peppers, patted very dry and chopped finely;
1 Tbl. capers, rinsed, drained, and finely chopped;
1 lg. scallion, white and green parts, trimmed and finely chopped;
1 heaping Tbls. pickled garlic, minced or pressed;
8 oz. Provolne, shredded (2 cups);
6 oz. smoked mozzarella (scamorza), shredded (1 1/2 cups);
2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup);

1 lg. egg, beaten;
Olive oil;
1 tsp. dried oregano, finely crumbled;
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper;
1/4 crushed red pepper flakes;

1.) Following the instructions for my pizza with tomatoes, prosciutto, cheese, and arugula, proof your microwave oven and allow the large ball of pizza dough to rise therein in a large, lightly oiled glass bowl for at least three, preferably four, hours;

2.) Preheat oven to 450 degrees for one hour, with a pizza stone on lowest rack;

3.) On a lightly-foured work service, use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll out the dough to an even circle with a circumference of 13";

4.) Transfer the rolled-out dough to a pizza peel that has been evenly dusted with cornmeal;

5.) In a medium bowl, thoroughly combine all the filling ingredients;

6.) Using a pastry brush, paint a 1" border with the beaten egg all along the edges of the dough's surface to serve as "sealing glue;" brush the remainder of the dough's surface with olive oil;

7.) In a 2-cup measure, pour in remaining beaten egg, and whisk in enough olive oil so that the mixture reaches the 1/4 cup level; beat in dried oregano, black and red pepper, and pour egg/olive oil mixture over filling, stirring well to combine;

8.) Pour the filling ingredients onto one side of the pizza dough, leaving the 1" egg-washed border untouched, and spreading out filling evenly with the back of a large spoon; carefully fold over the the other side of the dough, and using first your fingers, then the tines of a fork, crimp the border firmly to seal the calzone shut;

9.) Brush the top surface of the calzone with olive oil, and, using a sharp knife, make 3 or 4 slits to serve as steam vents;

10.) Loosen underside of calzone on pizza peel with a large metal spatula, if necessary, to prevent sticking. Slide calzone onto preheated pizza stone in oven, and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.

11.) Remove calzone to cutting board, and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve (Makes 5-6 portions).

Friday, May 28, 2010

Chili dogs

A site called Simply Recipes sent me a recipe for chili dogs yesterday. It gave me the perfect idea for what to do with the trimmings from the ribeyes that were the centerpiece of Wednesday’s dinner. We used Johnsonville brats because we like them and they were on sale. I made up my own chili recipe:

Chili dogs
½ medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
6 oz. steak trimmings (or ground beef)
14 oz. tomato sauce
1 heaping tbsp tomato paste
chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
hot sauce (sriracha or Tabasco, your choice)
Hot dogs, brats or sausages (your favorites)
Hot dog buns
¼ cup red onion, chopped fine
grated cheese (any kind you like)

Heat some olive oil in a skillet. Add onion and sauté 5 minutes. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add beef, sprinkle with salt, and brown it well stirring occasionally, 15 minutes.

Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, chili powder, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Cook uncovered until reduced to your desired thickness of texture. I cooked mine for probably 2 hours, wanting to get a really thick textured chili that will live on top of a brat. Taste. Adjust. Add hot sauce to taste.

Cook hot dogs or sausages whatever way you prefer. Grill the buns a bit if you wish. Put it together: dog in bun, chili on top, onion and cheese to finish. We decided to go with a baguette which, when fresh from the bakery, is very pliable. I cut and sliced it in such a way as to have something resembling a hotdog bun.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Philly cheesesteak and shrimp with tasso

A lunch posting to go with a dinner posting (so much to cook, so little time.) We had ribeye steak leftover from Wed’s dinner and some cute little ciabatta rolls (from King Soopers). So it didn’t take a lot to make these lovely ‘wiches.

I made a quicky creamed spinach too. Nothing elaborate, just a bag of IQF (individually quick frozen) spinach, a bit of left over mascarpone, a bit of leftover heavy cream, some salt and pepper - a nice and easy side dish (and enough for another meal).

Philly cheesesteak sandwiches (2 servings)
Leftover ribeye or other steak
½ medium onion, sliced
cheese (we used a combo of pepper jack and gruyere)
2 sandwich rolls

Slice the steak into thin pieces. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a skillet. Add the onions, sprinkle with salt, and sauté until caramelized.

Push the onions to the side of the skillet and toss in the steak. Toss with tongs for 1 minute, then top with cheese and tent with foil until the cheese melts. That’s all there is to it!

Last night we decided to have shrimp with leftover potatoes and some creamed spinach. There was a little piece of tasso ham left and that would flavor the shrimp. I went with a very simple, minimal ingredient prep for the shrimp. Served the shrimp over some re-crisped hash browns from the other day.

On Food Network, a lot of folks like to cook shrimp with shell on or at least tail shell on. For a messy, eat with your hands meal that’s fine, but I like to use a fork.

Shrimp with tasso (2 servings)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 oz. tasso, finely diced (substitute chorizo)
1 small shallot, sliced thin
Splash of chicken stock or water
12 oz. shrimp, peeled
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil and butter in a large sauté pan (the shrimp must fit in one layer) over medium heat. Add shallot and saute 3 minutes. Add tasso and cook 1 minute, stirring once or twice. Lay in the shrimp. Sprinkle with a little salt and black pepper. Cook until the bottom half of the shrimp have become opaque. Turn them and cook until the second side turns opaque. Remove from the pan immediately and serve right away.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Steak de Burgo and Steakhouse hash browns

We received a complimentary copy of Cook’s Country magazine last week. There’s some good looking stuff in it. I made two of its recipes last night. The steak recipe was a serendipitous find in that I had snared two beautiful rib eyes from the manager’s special bin at Safeway at 50% off!

Both of these recipes were prepared pretty much verbatim. It’s not my habit to be led along by the nose, but I could see no reason to make modifications for a first-time try.

Steak de Burgo
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper
2 rib eye steaks (about 1” thick)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large garlic clove, peeled and halved
1/8 cup (2 tbsp) white wine
1 tbsp unsalted cold butter, cut into pieces
1 tbsp heavy cream
1 additional tsp dried oregano

Cut out the center of the rib eye (the part that looks about the size of a filet mignon). Save the rest of the meat for another purpose. Wrap a piece of kitchen string around each filet so that they will hold their shape.

Mix together the oregano, garlic powder and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Dry the filets thoroughly and rub them with the dry spices.

Heat oil in a cast iron skillet until it starts to smoke. Cook steaks 3 – 4 minutes per side, according to your preference. Transfer to a plate and tent with foil.

Add garlic clove to skillet and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in wine and scrape bottom of the pan. Cook about 1 minute. Whisk in butter, cream, and remaining oregano. Cook about 1 minute. Discard garlic, season as desired with salt and pepper, pour over meat, and serve.

Steakhouse hash browns
3 lbs. russet potatoes (about 3 large), peeled and cut into 1/2” chunks.
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
½ tsp pepper
4 tbsp vegetable oil

Bring potatoes and enough water to cover by 1” to boil in a pot over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until tender but not falling apart, 20 – 25 minutes. Drain potatoes and return to pot (off heat); let stand 5 minutes.

Transfer 1 cup potatoes to a bowl and toss with butter. Mash until smooth and then gently combine with remaining potato chunks. Mix in salt and pepper.

Adjust oven rack to upper position (about 4” inches below broiler element) and heat broiler. Invert a rimmed baking sheet and coat lightly with cooking spray. Heat 3 tbsp oil in 10” nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add potatoes and lightly pat into a circle. Cook until bottom is crusty and golden brown, 7 to 9 minutes.

Slide potatoes out of skillet onto prepared baking sheet with browned side down. Brush top with remaining oil and broil until deep golden brown, 10 to 14 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes, then cardfully slide onto platter. Cut into wedges and serve.

Warm duck over microgreens

We’ve been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to make a warm duck salad with microgreens straight from the “recession garden” in our back yard. Several of our early crop greens are in need of thinning, which is the perfect opportunity to make this.

The baby greens I harvested from the garden were all delicate and individually flavored. This was “wet your pants” good. Peter and I agreed to repeat this in a few days (with the other half duck breast we have in the freezer).

I was initially inspired by Ina Garten, although I had to adapt her recipe along with another one by Melissa Clark from the NY Times. The blending of the two, along with my own impositions, was just about perfect.

Ina’s idea was to roast the duck breasts and then remove the skin and underlying fat layer. I’m going to render out the fat a la Melissa. My dressing is a blend of the two ladies’ ideas.

Working from memory, I did something neither lady called for. It had to do with the spices. I mixed together some dried oregano and salt and pepper and rubbed it into the duck skin. Then I consulted the recipe – oops. That wasn’t what was called for. So I brushed off some of the oregano (the part that got into the slit skin stayed) and proceeded with the below. The result was so good that I’ve incorporated a bit of oregano into the plan.

A word about the burner setting of medium-low. We have an electric range with the knobs labeled from 1 to 10. To me medium-low is 3 ½. 4 was too aggressive. The accompaniment, by the way, is quinoa cooked in chicken stock.

Warm duck over micro-greens
1 duck breast
½ tsp dried oregano
½ cumin
½ tsp chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
microgreens (including, but not limited to) mizuna, kale, mustard, curly endive, arugula
1 shallot or scallion, finely chopped
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
lemon zest
Rendered fat from the duck

Score the skin of the duck without cutting into the meat. In a small bowl mix together oregano, cumin, chili powder and some salt and pepper (to taste). Rub the dry mix into the skin side of the duck.

Put a cast iron skillet on the stove over medium-low heat. When warmed, add 1 tsp olive oil. Add the duck, skin side down. Render the fat for about 10 minutes, checking to be sure it does not burn.

In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

When the fat on the duck has been sufficiently rendered, turn it skin side up and continue to sauté for 1 minute. Turn again and put the pan into the oven for 5 – 7 minutes, until medium rare.

Remove to a plate.

In a small bowl, whisk together shallot (or scallion), vinegar, zest, salt and pepper, and 2 tbsp of rendered (and flavored) duck fat. Dress the greens with this mixture, slice the duck very thin, place on the greens and serve.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Garden

The garden

Last year Peter and I plunged into vegetable gardening with enthusiasm and utter ignorance. Many of the first batches of seeds we put in did not sprout. Once we discovered (at the advice of gardening neighbors) that we needed to cover the freshly planted seeds with potting soil and not our crappy Colorado dirt, things took a turn for the better. The heavy clay content here caused a cement-like covering to develop over the first seeds. They simply couldn’t push their way through.

In the end we had some real successes: patty pan squash, tomatoes (copious though not large), potatoes (copious but not large), lettuce, curly endive, herbs (which were slow to start but then lasted past the first frost), three kinds of peas (less successful), and my favorite, yellow wax beans.

This year we expanded by 100 sq. ft. to about 425 sq. ft. We also did some improvements to the soil (calcium silicate, lots of mulch, and bone meal as a side dressing), covered all the seeds with potting soil from the outset, and changed watering systems to get more even distribution. Nearly everything that’s been planted so far germinated very rapidly and is looking healthy and robust. One problem: Scooper (the dog) was so attracted to the bone meal that he began digging holes along the fence by the tomato plants, digging one of them up. I stuck it back in the ground and it appears it’s going to survive.

Obviously we're in the early stages. More to come.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Turkey soup

Believe me, if you think you’re tired of reading about my turkey, I’m tired of writing about it. This post will wrap it up for good. As much as I have always loved the Thanksgiving turkey, other than the occasional bbq turkey leg, I have rarely cooked it other than for that beloved holiday. Frankly the best thing about having turkey around is 1) for a sandwich and 2) for soup.

I like to keep my soup simple – just a few ingredients: celery, carrot, noodles, and a few mushrooms (and of course the title ingredient).

Turkey soup
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
½ medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 medium carrot, ½” pieces
1 stalk celery, ½” pieces
4 button mushrooms, ½” pieces
3-4 cups poultry stock
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups cooked turkey, ½” cubes
poultry seasoning, to taste (optional)

1 package ramen noodles, cooked without the flavor packet and chopped

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large sauté pan. Add onion and garlic and cook 2 minutes. Add carrot, celery, mushrooms, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.

Add the stock and some salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer. Cook slowly until carrots are tender.
Add turkey and and noodles and heat through. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

NOT your usual Vietnamese banh mi sandwich

Banh mi is a Vietnamese-style sandwich. My variant of it uses gravlax, homemade sauerkraut and a dill sauce. The sandwiches are usually pressed, so we weighted them down with our teakettle for about 20 minutes. This gets the flavors to ooze into the bread.

I guess my conception of this is that it is a deconstructed/reconstructed bagel with lox and cream cheese. The sauerkraut is a gratuitous addition that brings in an element of a Reuben. Go figure.

NOT your usual Vietnamese banh mi sandwich
1 sfilatino loaf, or 2 - 6” sections of French bread
dill sauce* (recipe below)
homemade sauerkraut (or store bought)
lettuce or baby arugula

Slice the bread in half and pull our some of the soft insides (if you wish). Smear some dill sauce on both sides of the bread. Layer in gravlax and sauerkraut (as much as you want). Top with some lettuce or arugula (arugula is in the picture above).

Lay a piece of foil over the top of the sandwiches and weight them for 20 minutes or so.

*Dill sauce
Mix together equals parts, yogurt, mayonnaise, sour cream. Add salt and pepper, and a generous tablespoon each parsley and fresh dill. It will taste best if you do this ahead – day before, an hour or two, whatever is convenient for you.
My only regret about yesterday’s foodie lunch is that I couldn’t interrupt my progress by taking pictures. Everything on the menu is something I will make again. However, in the meantime, I’ll relate my journey to shrimp mac and cheese.

When I started on it yesterday morning I knew what I wanted it to be but had no clear concept of how to get there. I wanted it to be loose, as opposed to a more traditional dense mac and cheese. It needed to be just so cheesy and no more. After all cheese and seafood are tricky to balance.

And I was cooking for 10! The timing of getting it ready at just the right moment (so as not to keep my guests waiting, but also having it come to them fresh off the stove) was tricky. The pasta I knew would take 7 minutes. The sauce I was comfortable making ahead. Then there was the problem of the shrimp which would take 3 minutes max to poach. I threw the pasta in right after serving the course that preceded the mac and cheese. And hit on an inventive way to do the shrimp.


Shrimp mac and cheese (10 servings)
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 oz. tasso or chorizo, diced fine
2 tbsp flour
4 cups chicken broth
4 oz. mascarpone cheese
¾ cup gruyere cheese, grated
40 shrimp (31-40 count), shelled and cleaned
1 tbsp grill seasoning for seafood
16 oz. mini shell pasta

Using a large skillet, heat the butter and oil. Add the tasso or chorizo to the pan. Saute 1 minute. Whisk in the flour. Cook 1 minute. Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Add mascarpone and stir to melt it. Cover and remove from the heat. Reheat over low flame while the pasta cooks. It may form a skin on the top, but energetic whisking will make that go away.

Put the shrimp in a heat-proof bowl and toss with the grill seasoning (or use salt and pepper if you prefer). Put a teakettle full of water on to boil.

Drop the pasta into a large pot of well-salted boiling water. Just before the pasta is done pour the boiling water from the teakettle over the shrimp. They will poach in it in just 2-3 minutes, at which point you should drain in a colander.

Use a spider and transfer the pasta to the pan with the sauce. Stir to combine.

Put a ladle full of pasta and sauce on each of 10 heated plates. Top with 4 shrimp each, sprinkle with a pinch of gruyere and serve.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The FEDUPs Feast

Foodies Eating Diverse and Unusal Platings; that's us, the FEDUPs. I produced a five-course lunch for them today. If I do say so myself, and I do, it was a considerable success.

I was far to busy to take pix, and far too tired to post recipes. Here's the menu. That will have to do it.

May 19, 2010, 11:30 am
Chez Russell/Crout


Cream of mushroom soup
Shiitake mushrooms and button mushrooms

Spring rolls
homemade gravlax and sauerkraut, rice noodles, dill sauce

Moroccan-spiced orange and olive salad
supremes of California navel oranges, castelvetrano olives, arugula

Shrimp mac and cheese
gruyere and mascarpone cheeses, poached shrimp and baby seashell pasta

with a Zweiback crust and blueberry sauce

Monday, May 17, 2010

Roast turkey breast

Remember when I bought that 20 lb. turkey the day after Easter? I didn’t think so. I dismantled it into its component parts, the last of which, half of the breast (bone in), I just thawed out for tonight’s dinner. I found an odd recipe via Google that I’m going to adapt.

As for the mushrooms listed below, they were left over from my mushroom soup last weekend. Decided to throw them into the gravy. Oops, the turkey took so long to cook that I saved the pan drippings and skipped making gravy.

Accompaniments: grilled potatoes and a salad (with a tip of the hat to

Roasted turkey breast
½ large turkey breast, 3-4 lbs. (skin on, bone in)
fresh sage leaves
10 oz. chicken broth
4 oz. unsalted butter
2 tbsp mayonnaise

Brine the turkey for several hours. Rinse well and dry with paper towels.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Loosen the skin of the turkey breast slightly and insert a few sage leaves under it.

Melt the butter in the microwave and stir it and the chicken stock together.

Put the turkey onto a roasting pan with 1” sides. Pour the stock and butter over it.

Rub the mayo all over it.

Roast for 1 hour and then increase oven temp to 350 degrees. When the internal temp is 160 degrees, remove to your cutting board, tent loosely with foil, and allow to rest for 15 minutes.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Chicken vindaloo

I thought I had a total plan for chicken vindaloo until I started making it. Changed course completely – and to marvelous effect.

Vindaloo spice is a combination of numerous ingredients. I would probably never make it from scratch, but with Savory Spice Shop just 10 minutes away, we just get it there.

Some additions of mine: white vinegar and tomato paste. Also chose to make it on the stovetop instead of under the broiler. We liked the result.

Chicken vindaloo (4 servings)
4 bone in and skin on chicken thighs
3 tbsp vindaloo seasoning
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp water
3 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp white vinegar
¼ medium onion, chopped
chicken stock, maybe 1/3 cup

Brine the chicken for several hours. Rinse well with cold water and dry with paper towels.

Heat a little olive oil in a big skillet. Brown the chicken on both sides for 3 minutes per side. Set aside.

Mix together vindaloo seasoning, olive oil, water, tomato paste and white vinegar.

Heat some olive oil in the skillet. Saute the onion for 3 – 4 minutes. Add vindaloo paste, heat and stir until bubbling. Add the chicken, turning to coat with the sauce. Bring to a simmer (add some chicken stock to thin it so it will bubble happily), cover and cook 25 – 30 minutes, turning once, until the chicken is cooked through.

Serve over basmati rice.

Kimchi and sauerkraut (both homemade)

I have mentioned before the book “wild fermentation” by Sandor Ellix Katz. (Yep, it’s in lower case.) Katz not only has a wonderful name, he has wonderful ideas. I have used his basic plan for making both kimchi and sauerkraut several times. Each dish is distinctly the best homemade version of itself I’ve ever had. The process is extraordinarily simple, though it does require a few minutes per day during the curing period.

Let’s start with the kimchi (pictured above). You can use bok choy or napa cabbage or savoy cabbage. Of course the standard way of making sauerkraut would be to use regular green cabbage. In this case I used savoy for both kimchi and sauerkraut. The amounts of stuff you use is entirely up to you. I can never get daikon radish at our local Safeway, so I substitute some standard red radishes.

Peter had the bright idea of tossing in some pickled garlic which he bought the other day. Neither of us had tasted it before. It’s meant to be used as a condiment or just noshed right out of the jar. Superb!

I didn’t bother taking a pic of the sauerkraut – it looks a lot like the kimchi but without the colorful veggie additions.

½ large head savoy cabbage
2 cups brine
2 tbsp radishes, grated
2 tbsp carrot, grated
2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
2 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed
red pepper flakes to taste
1 tbsp pickled garlic, minced or pressed

Slice the cabbage across into narrow strips. Put it in a non-reactive container (I used a soufflé dish.)

Make the brine by dissolving 2 tbsp kosher salt in 2 cups water. Pour it over the cabbage. Press cabbage down with your (clean) hands. Weight it. I couldn’t find anything quite suitable until I got the idea to fill a 1 gallon freezer bag with enough water so that it spreads itself out, completely covering the surface of the nascent kimchi.

Put the kimchi in a relatively warm place. For me that’s just on the dining room table. After 24 hours drain off the brine. Taste the cabbage. If too salty, rinse it just slightly.

Add the remaining ingredients, mix together thoroughly and press back down into the bowl. If necessary add back a little of the brine so there is liquid just over the surface of the kimchi. Re-weight it and let it sit for 4-6 days, redistributing it once a day. Then refrigerate it. It will keep a long time and in the chill of the fridge will only continue fermenting ever so slowly.

½ large head savoy cabbage
kosher salt

Slice the cabbage across into very thin strips. Layer it into a non-reactive container adding sprinkles of salt to each layer. Press it down firmly with your hands. Weight it with a water-filled freezer bag and let it sit for 1 or 2 weeks, redistributing it once a day as with the kimchi.

If, after the first 24 hours, it hasn’t exuding enough water to cover it, add a little weak brine just to cover.

I find that it is ready to eat (according to my taste) after 4-5 days, at which point into the fridge it goes.

My best word to describe the flavor the savoy cabbage brings to the party is "umami."

Friday, May 14, 2010

Pictured here: catfish, fresh sautéed organic spinach, and the dreaded BARLOTTO. Don’t worry, it’s gone now.

It was Friday (fish night), and we’re not even Catholic (although we’re catholic in our tastes). Ok, ok, I know that Catholics haven’t had to eat fish on Fridays for decades. Lighten up.

Catfish (starts out just like “Cat”holic) was on the menu. Nothing fancy, just a delicious fish.

Baked catfish filets (for 2)
2 8 oz. catfish filets
smoked Spanish paprika
all-purpose flour
1 egg
2 tbsp milk or cream
grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees with a baking pan in it.

Salt and pepper the catfish on both sides (to taste). Sprinkle some paprika on it, but just on one side (it can take over). Dredge in flour, dip in egg (whisked with milk or cream). Press into breadcrumbs which have been tossed with an equal amount of parmesan.

Place on a wire rack and put them into the fridge for 30 minutes so the coatings will set up. Remove from the fridge 20 or 30 minutes before cooking.

Put the wire rack onto the hot baking pan in the oven. Set the timer for 18 minutes and go have a drink and watch “Millionaire”.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


The pork roast that I made last Sunday provided an amazing number of meals, including the one last night: posole. I love making posole and it turns out very different each time. In this case there was the luxurious broth infused with onion, hominy and celery. I added another 14 oz. can of hominy, shredded the remaining pork, and tarted it up as best I could.

A word about liquid smoke. It’s not an ersatz ingredient. It’s perfectly ok and adds a flavor I can’t otherwise get, seeing as how I don’t own a smoker. If I had thought of it I’d have added it to the pork as it roasted.

12 oz. shredded roast pork
32 oz. beef broth
1 14 oz. can white hominy (supplementing the can already in the broth)
½ large jalapeno, seeded and minced
hot sauce to taste
2 tbsp liquid smoke
2 heaping tbsp tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste

Put it all in a pot and heat it through. Taste for seasonings and adjust as necessary. Serve with hot tortillas if you have them. Otherwise a nice crusty bread will do.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Eggs poached in buttery sorrel sauce

A couple of tidbits: when I made tacos (two nights in a row) I heated the flour tortillas right on the electric stove burners. About 10 seconds per side made them nice and hot and gave them a delicious bit of char; today’s recipe involves sorrel, a wonderful new discovery for me – I trimmed their stems, chopped them fine and added them to my second batch of pico de gallo.

Last night we made, for a second time, a marvelous dish (adapted from the NY Times), eggs with sorrel and butter. The recipe called for a considerable quantity of sorrel. We wanted to spread ours thinner and so used less. Sorrel is wonderfully lemony. The stems should be removed (they are thin and crunchy and can be used as a garnish for this or another dish).

I added just a tablespoon or so of finely diced Spanish chorizo and altered the original cooking time to satisfy our preferences regarding the runniness of the egg yolks. Also, I used ramps in place of scallions.

Eggs poached in buttery sorrel sauce
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 fat scallions, white and green parts chopped
1 heaping tbsp finely diced Spanish chorizo
1 oz. sorrel, stems removed and reserved
salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup heavy cream
4 large eggs
chili flakes
buttered toast for serving
sorrel stems for garnish (optional)
parsley for garnish (optional)

In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add scallions and chorizo and sauté about 2 minutes.

Add sorrel leaves and salt and pepper and toss for about 1 minute.

Add cream and bring to a simmer.

Add 4 eggs to the pan in a single layer. Lower heat to medium low, sprinkle with salt and pepper, cover the pan and cook until the whites are set. Remove from the heat and let stand covered until yolks get to your desired level of doneness.

In the meantime chopped the sorrel stems very fine (if using). Serve the eggs in heated bowls with or on toast and garnish with the stems or chopped parsley.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mushroom soup and tacos (eclecticism rules)

As a rehearsal for next week’s foodie lunch at our house, I made a modified version of my own mushroom soup yesterday. I only made enough for Peter and I to share, along with ½ a meatloaf sandwich for lunch. I took a couple of pictures of it, but they were terribly blurry. Heck, everybody knows what mushroom soup looks like.

There is one unusual ingredient included: anchovy. Yep, anchovy. We’ve all seen Giada or Rachel or Lydia use anchovies in the foundation of many sauces. They melt into butter and oil, leaving behind a touch of umami.

Mushroom soup (2 servings)
4 dried shiitake mushrooms
2 tsp olive oil
3 tsp butter
¼ medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
2 oil-packed anchovies
2 oz. button mushrooms, cut into ½” pieces
1 14.5 oz. can beef broth (low sodium and low fat)
½ cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
1 scallion, green and white parts finely chopped

Cover the shiitakes with warm water and reconstitute for 30 minutes. Then trim out the stems and slice them to about ¼”.

Heat 1 tsp olive oil and 1 tsp butter in a saucepan, add onion, garlic and anchovy. Cook 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the beef broth and use an immersion blender or your food processor to puree the onion and garlic.

In another saucepan heat the remaining oil and butter. Add the mushrooms, sprinkle them with salt and pepper and cook for about 6 minutes. Add the broth to this saucepan. Add the cream and bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust seasonings. Simmer partially covered for 10 minutes.

Garnish with scallions and serve.

Pictured above: the pork roast (forgot to include a full picture yesterday) along with some pico de gallo and tortillas in the background for the tacos we had last night.

What we threw into our tacos: Jack cheese, lettuce, avocado, pico de gallo (recipe below).

Pico de gallo
2 medium on-the-stem tomatoes, diced
½ medium shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
½ tsp Spanish smoked paprika
1 tbsp hot sauce (or to taste)
1 tsp dried oregano
salt and black pepper

Put all this stuff in a bowl, stir and let stand for a while to meld flavors. Of course taste and adjust seasonings.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Roast pork and the great tater tot NOT experiment

Jenn ( and I conversed about tater tots the other day. I determined to try making them from scratch and baking them instead of frying.

With the assistance of Google I found a recipe which, with a little tweaking, sounded promising. Well, it wasn't. What I ended up with didn't resemble tater tots at all - more like latkes. They were actually quite good, just not what was intended. I even accidentally deleted the pix from my camera. Probably a Freudian slip. I've got another idea - radically different, but a possibility. Stay tuned.

Yesterday afternoon was dedicated to making a pork roast. In the spirit of the 50's-style pot roast from a couple of months ago I made up this recipe.

The pork is shown here with a side of leftover barlotto.

Roast pork
4 lb. pork shoulder blade roast (bone in)
salt and pepper
1/2 onion
1 14 oz. can hominy, drained
2 stalks celery, cut into 2" pieces
2 small dried red Mexican chili peppers, whole
2 large cloves garlic, sliced
1 1/2 14 oz. can chicken stock
1 can cream of celery soup concentrate

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Liberally salt and pepper the roast on all sides. Place in it a Dutch oven.

Scatter onion, hominy, celery, red peppers and garlic around the roast. Add chicken stock.

Pour celery soup (undiluted) on the top of the roast.

Cover and put in the oven for 1 hour. Reduce temp to 275 degrees and continue baking for 2 more hours. Check for doneness. If necessary (probably not) roast for an additional 1/2 hour. Remove the Dutch oven from the oven and let stand covered for 30 minutes before serving.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Baked cod with barlotto

Had a hankering for fish. Went to the market and found some nice fresh cod filets. Then this:

Baked cod
2 cod filets, about 6 oz. each
salt and pepper
all-purpose flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
¾ cup parmesan cheese
breadcrumbs, homemade or panko

Preheat oven to 400 degrees with a baking sheet inside.

Lightly salt and pepper the cod on both sides. Dredge in flour, shaking off excess. Coat with egg, shaking off excess. Press into bread crumbs (mixed with the parmesan) on both sides.

Put the filets on a wire rack coated with cooking spray. Lay the wire rack on the baking sheet in the oven. Bake 16 minutes.

Wednesday’s NY Times “Dining” section had some interesting recipes including two for using watercress and one for sorrel, a green I’ve never had that I can remember. Last night I made barlotto, a risotto made with barley and watercress.

The ramps of course are available for such a limited time, but, having had them – used them. The original recipe called for 1 shallot minced.

If I make this again someday I will pre-cook the barley for 30 minutes. At our altitude it took 45 minutes to cook the barlotto and even then the barley was significantly (but acceptably) al dente.

Barlotto (for 4)
4 oz. watercress, heavy stems removed
1 oz. spinach (about 1 cup)
½ cup flat parsley leaves
5 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 ramps, white and green parts finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
6 oz. pearl barley (1 ½ cups)
¼ cup white wine
2 oz. parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Have a large bowl of ice and water ready. Blanch the watercress, spinach and parsley for 1 minute and transfer to the ice water. When cool, squeeze out excess moisture and puree in food processor with ½ cup of the stock until smooth.

Place remaining stock in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Melt 1 tbsp butter in a wide sauté pan. Add shallots and garlic and sauté on medium heat until barely starting to brown. Add the barley, stirring until coated with butter. Add wine and boil away until evaporated. Start adding warm stock, about 2/3 cup at a time, stirring frequently and adding more as it is absorbed, until barley has plumped but is still al dente, about 30 minutes (maybe longer).

Fold in remaining butter, the watercress puree and half the cheese. Season with salt and pepper, and serve with remaining cheese, and serve with remaining cheese and a garnish of watercress sprigs on top.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Jen's grilled potatoes

We’ve seen Jen’s grilled potatoes ( on a number of her plates. She was kind enough to describe to me how she makes them. Oddly enough mine don’t look anything like hers. Some of the difference must be that she uses her gas grill and mine were done on the stovetop. But I’m here to tell you they are magnificent. Peter and I have added them to our “keeper” list. I made this with just one large russet potato, which was plenty for the two of us for dinner last night.

Instead of adding salt and pepper I just used a grill seasoning (the first ingredient of which is salt). This is extremely easy and is a wonderful variation on a potato “side.”

Another wrinkle is altitude. Jen advised some vigilance during blanching so as not to get the potatoes to the point where they might start to break up. In Denver water boils at about 203 degrees. A full five minutes seemed just right. Thanks, Jen.
By the way, the protein on the plate was a magificent piece of pork milanesa.

Jen’s grilled potatoes
1 large russet potato, skin on
olive oil
grill seasoning

Slice the potato into ¼” circles.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt to the water and blanch the potatoes for 5 minutes. Remove and dry on paper towels.

Heat a stovetop grill over high heat. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, brush them with olive oil and sprinkle with grill seasoning or salt and pepper (both sides of course).

Cook on the grill until tender and browned – mine took somewhere between 15 and 20 minutes.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Eggdrop soup

A couple of years ago I finally cracked the code for making egg drop soup. I accomplished this with the assistance of Google. I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t google something or someone. What an amazing resource.

The secret lay in the technique used when “dropping” the egg into the broth. There are just two important things. First, whisk the broth vigorously in a circle, thus creating a little whirlpool in the pan. Second, drizzle in the egg through the tines of a fork held over the rotating broth, not in the center, but at the edge of the whirlpool. The egg cooks almost instantly and the soup should be served at once.It is also best to whisk the egg vigorously to liquefy it.

Egg drop soup (2 first course servings)
2 cups chicken broth
½ cup water
1 scallion, white and green parts chopped
¼ cup frozen peas
1 large egg, beaten
salt and pepper to taste
juice of 1/3 lemon
Add a little salt and pepper to the egg
Bring the broth to a boil in a saucepan. Salt and pepper to taste.
Whisk the broth in a single direction with a circular motion to get it moving in a circle. At once drizzle in the egg through the tines of a dinner fork. Add the lemon juice and peas.

Serve immediately garnished with scallions.

Pork burgers

We were excited to have a batch of fiddlehead ferns still to enjoy. I did a freezer inventory (I’d gotten way behind) and when I found a package of pork I went for pork burgers. The pork was some kind of chop cut but was quite fatty. I trimmed it thoroughly and ground it in the food processor. Then I put in everything I could think of for flavor.

Along with the ferns we had some real nice quinoa. I don’t know why I don’t cook quinoa more ofter – it’s supposedly very healthful and it cooks very much like rice. Here’s a caveat though. The last two times I’ve cooked it, the proportion of 2 parts liquid to 1 part quinoa (from the package instructions) seems wrong. It’s supposed to cook in 15 minutes, but after that time the liquid wasn’t absorbed. I took the lid off and increased the heat. After a couple of minutes it was better. I still had to use a slotted spoon to serve it. The next time I’m going to change the proportion to about 1 cup quinoa to 1 2/3 cup broth or water.

Pork burgers (for 2)
14 oz. ground pork
2 scallions, white and green parts chopped
1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp each powdered garlic and onion powder
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
Cheese (optional)

Mix everything in a bowl. Take about a teaspoon’s worth and nuke it for 20 seconds and taste for seasoning. Form the pork mixture into 2 burgers.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet. When hot, add the burgers. Cook about 5 minutes per side. After flipping the burgers put slices of cheese on top if you wish. We used fontina.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Turkey risotto

Today’s recipe is courtesy of Peter. He used some of our leftover turkey thigh meat for this. The method is standard risotto procedure. The result was succulent and satisfying.

Turkey risotto
6 cups chicken stock

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
½ medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 cup arborio rice (or other short-grain rice)
¼ dry white wine
salt and pepper to taste
½ cup frozen peas
1 ½ cups cooked turkey, shredded
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
¾ cup grated parmesan or romano cheese

Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat and keep it at a simmer.

In a saute pan with sloping sides heat the oil and butter until the butter melts and the foam subsides. Add the onion and cook 3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook another 3 minutes.

Add the rice, stir, and cook for 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook until it is absorbed. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Add 1 cup of the stock and cook, stirring frequently, until it is almost completely absorbed. Continue adding more stock as needed and stirring until the rice is tender (about 25 minutes at high altitude (that’s us)).

Stir in the peas, turkey and parsley. Get it all hot and then, off heat, stir in the cheese. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve in heated bowls.

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