Saturday, October 30, 2010

Beef Tenderloin Roasted in Herb-Infused Crust and a Mushroom Tart

This recipe is from one of the first cookbooks I owned, Simply French, Patricia Wells presents the cuisine of Joel Robuchon.  It's been many years since I've made this...too long, in fact, to say if it is really as good as I remember it to be.  Tastes have changed and so has the palate.  But when steak was requested for dinner, I started to scour the ole memory banks and remembered this unique preparation.  It's a bit of an intimidating recipe given that you don't know if you've succeeded or failed until it's too late to really correct it.  The tenderloin is cooked inside a dough which prevents, of course, visual confirmation, of how the beef is cooking.  Here, timing is of the essence.  I've adjusted the recipe slightly as follows.  Start a day ahead or at least 3 1/2 hours before serving.

For the Salt Crust
2 Cups kosher salt
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary leaves
2 large egg whites
2/3 cup water
2-3 cups flour

1 beef tenderloin, about 1.75 lbs, at room temperature
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large egg yolk (save one from the egg whites for the salt crust)

Make the salt crust using a standing mixer fitted with a paddle or by hand in a large bowl.  Mix together salt and herbs.  Add in egg whites and 2/3 cup water and mix until thoroughly blended.  Add in 2 cups of flour, a bit at a time, and knead until the mixture forms a firm dough.  You may not need all the flour, or you might need more.  The dough should be firm, but not too moist, or the beef will steam and not roast.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.

Heat oven to 375f.  Dry the beef well on paper towels.  In a large skillet over medium high heat, add butter and oil.  Sear the beef on all sides, about 2-3 minutes per side.  When finished, lean the beef on a salad plate turned upside down on a large platter.  This will allow air to circulate while the beef rests for 5 minutes.  

Meanwhile, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, to about 12" x 16" or large enough to enclose the beef.  In a small bowl, combine the egg yolk and 1/2 tsp of water to make a glaze for the outside of the dough.

When ready to bake the beef, wrap it in the salt crust making sure it is well sealed.  Place the wrapped beef on a sheet of parchment paper on top of a baking sheet.  Brush the entire surface with the egg yolk glaze.  Place the beef in the oven and roast for 15 minutes per pound of beef for rare, adding another 3-4 minutes per pound for medium rare.  The crust should be light golden brown.  Let the beef rest in the crust at room temp for 1 hour before carving.  This will not only continue to cook the beef a little, it will also allow the juices to be reabsorbed into the meat, making it more tender. 
To serve, slice off the crust on one end and remove the beef and discard the crust.  As you may have noticed, we are a family of sauce lovers.  Would the tenderloin wow on its own?  The tenderloin soaked up all the flavors of the salt and herbs, but honestly, was over-cooked for me, a rare gal.  This was medium rare.. and well, I like mine with just a quick introduction to the heat... knock the horns off and bring it on.  Still, very flavorful and tender.

Mushroom and Caramelized Onion Tart
I am still feeding my chanterelle mushroom addiction.  A savory puff pastry tart seemed just the right thing tonight. 

1 sheet ready made puff pastry
1 lb mushrooms ( I used chanterelles and white button)
1 small onion sliced
1 cup grated gruyere cheese
½ cup ricotta cheese
 2 tbsp sour cream

Heat oven to 400f.  To make an edge on the puff pastry, score it with the tip of a knife about ½ inch in from the edge.  Bake the puff pastry on a piece of parchment paper on top of a baking sheet and par bake the pastry for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, caramelize the onions by sautéing them with a little bit of olive oil, over medium heat until they are soft and golden.  Season with salt and pepper.
In a separate pan, sauté mushrooms in a bit of olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.
To assemble the tart, brush the edge with and egg wash of egg yolk and ½ tsp of water.  Mix together the ½ cup ricotta with ½ cup of gruyere cheese and the sour cream.  Spread it evenly onto the puff pastry.  Distribute evenly the mushrooms and the onions onto the tart.  Finish with the remaining ½ cup of gruyere cheese.  Bake in the oven at 400f until cheese is bubbling, about 12-15 minutes.  Still in love with chanterelles.  Oh so good.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Labor Day 2007 Pig Roast

On Chris' list of "must dos" in life, sat this little gem, which seemed so obtainable, it would be a sin not to do it... with the help of a few friends.  So, we imposed ourselves, as we are sometimes known to do, upon our friends to carry out this little dream.  Roast a whole pig.  When I look back at these photos, I have to admit, I feel a bit guilty and sad for that little pig, as delicious as he was.  But truly, it was not  about the pig or the food, but the experience.  Look at the photos and you will see how beautiful it was those two days of preparing for the roast.  On Whidbey Island, last days of summer, happy kids, wonderful friends, happy dog.  A little slice of heaven, it will always be one of my favorite memories.

The Spit Roaster, borrowed from a friend, was a tad
larger than we expected for our little piglet.  It was built
for a 200 pound pig.  Heavy duty, electric motor.
 I had no idea.  Ironically, this was about
the only planning I had done.. flying by the seat of
my pants.  Pig... purchased, spit roaster... attained,
ready for lift off.
Stars aligned... this metal drum had washed up on
shore right in front of the house and was the 
perfect container for the coals.  As it turned out, the many
bags of coals we had were not enough to do their
job.  With the small size of our pig, it sat too high
off the ground to get enough heat to cook in
good time.
The night before the roast.  Piggy resting in the cooler on ice,
it was time for a little fishing break.
9:00am, time to get the pig ready.  If you're wondering
where to find a whole suckling pig.. I had gone to several
specialty butchers, none of whom could get one.
Alas... just down the street, QFC ordered one for me.
38 pounds, fresh, not frozen.
Stuff it with onions, orange slices, pineapple, garlic
and honey.  This made for quite a scene as the pig turned on
the spit.  Eventually, the stuffing tumbled around the cavity
scaring the children, and unnerving a few adults.
Sew him up
Now the best part.  A few drinks were consumed...
Sticks were chewed
Pig was basted with pineapple juice and coconut water
Beach time was enjoyed
Fish were caught
Kids ate
Time to carve.  It's late... pig took much
longer than expected.  I put the butt and
shoulder in the oven to finish.  Kids had
already moved on and eaten hot dogs.
I can't be sure the pork was as good as
I remember it now.
I do remember, however,
a lot of crispy skin was put down by
a most unexpected source.
And pig ears were enjoyed by Pacino.
Good times.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Crab Cakes, A Maggie Favorite

It's three nights of Maggie's favorites this week and tonight's dinner happens to be one of my favorites as well.  It's difficult to come up with a new version of crab cakes since I am in the camp of less is best when it comes to ingredients for them.  I really just want the Dungeness crab meat and little else; just enough to give a little seasoning and hold the crab together.  No fillers wanted or needed here.  When not feeling industrious enough to buy live crab, cook it  and shell it, I turn to Costco, who sells a tub of Dungeness crab, complete with whole pieces of leg meat.  Makes life so much easier. 

Neither Maggie nor I are huge fans of mayonnaise, but I am hoping a little home made aioli will pass the test.
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp paprika
good pinch of salt and pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1-2 tsp honey

In a food processor, add the first 6 ingredients.  Pulse a few times. Then with the blade running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the mixture thickens into an aioli.  After tasting the aioli, I decided a little sweetness would be nice, so I added a drizzle of honey.  Yum!
1 pound of lump crab meat.  
1 cup or so of panko, seasoned with salt and paprika
Squeeze all excess water out of the crab.  Mix together with the aioli, a bit at a time and 1 tablespoon of heavy cream.  You may not need to use all of the aioli if the mixture becomes too wet.  When forming the crab cakes, you will have to pack it tightly so the cakes do not fall apart when cooking.   Dip crab cakes into panko and coat all sides.  I like to make mine a little bit ahead of time and let them rest in the refrigerator before cooking.  Bring them to room temp before frying.  Fry in a couple teaspoons of oil over medium low heat until golden brown.

Maggie is a purist and likes to eat her crab cakes as they are.  I often make a dipping sauce to go with, but with the aioli already in the cakes, I stuck with Maggie tonight.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Seared Sea Scallops with Red Thai Curry and Crispy Rice Cake

Chris arrived home tonight just as discussions were being had about what to have with our scallops tonight.  Options were laid out, but I l already knew the answer that was coming.  It shall be rice cake fried in butter.  But first, let's talk sea scallops.  They are one of my favorite seafood items, but I am picky about how they are cooked.  Even now, it remains a challenge to get the hard crispy sear on the outside while accomplishing the perfect medium rare center.  I would tend to err on the rare side as I find overcooking strips them of their silky tenderness.  The beautiful luscious scallop you just shelled out good money for becomes ordinary and rubbery.  
1.5 lbs U15 Seal Scallops
1 1/4 cups unsweetened coconut milk

1 tbsp Thai red curry paste
3 dried kaffir lime leaves (substitute a little lime juice if you don't have the leaves)
1 tsp fish sauce

Combine coconut milk and curry paste in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil and simmer for about 7 minutes.  Add fish sauce and lime leaves.  At this point, I would add fresh basil leaves to finish, but none in the house.  Keep sauce warm while you sear the scallops.

In a smoking hot fry pan, add a little bit of vegetable oil.  Dry the scallops well on paper towels and salt and pepper them.  Sear the scallops, pressing down on them when you first lay them in the pan to make sure you get full contact on the surface of the scallop.  Do not overcrowd the pan as they will then not brown properly.  Sear them for about a minute a side.  You can test for doneness much like a steak.  Soft and jiggly, still raw, the firmer, the more cooked it is.  I go with just over soft and jiggly.  A little resistance, but not too much.  Let the scallops rest for a minute on a separate plate after cooking.  They will release a bit of juice (which I added to the curry sauce).  Then plate them with the rice cake.
For the crispy rice cake.  I cooked medium grain white rice in chicken stock.  In separate pan, I fried together 1 minced garlic clove, 1 tsp minced ginger, 2 scallions thinly sliced.  Once the rice is finished cooking add in the garlic/ginger/scallions and mix to incorporate.  Form the rice into large hockey puck sized discs.  I used a metal ring.  Then fry in butter.

I have to admit, there was a little grumbling amongst the girls about scallops, before dinner.  I was not worried.  More for us, right?  But upon first bite, Stella uttered, "hey, I like scallops!"  Is this a good thing or a bad thing?  

Friday, October 22, 2010

Gnocchi, Meatballs and a Veal Madeira Sauce

It's back to the freezer tonight to renovate a couple of goodies from the past.  My freezer is at the same time a treasure trove and a black hole.  There are several items I purposefully stock in the freezer and derive a certain comfort from just knowing they are in there.  Then there are the occasional items that I know will freeze well, of which I make extra when preparing it the first time.  And then, there are bits of this and that which are forgotten about or disappear in the abyss until they are discovered much too late to salvage or were never going to be eaten anyway.  Why am I compelled to put them in the freezer in the first place?  I can't stop myself.  It is, of course, out of hope and not wanting to waste.  

So, tonight, gnocchi and meatballs with a little veal stock, madeira and fresh sage.
I defrosted the meatballs in the refrigerator last night.  Cook the meatballs in a large skillet with a couple tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.  Brown them slowly to make sure they are cooked through.  Covering the skillet with a lid between flipping the meatballs will help.
The gnocchi can remain frozen until you are ready to boil them.  Account for maybe an additional minute in cooking time because they are frozen.  But the same procedure works... once they float, boil for another 10 seconds or so and they are ready.
For the all important sauce, bring veal stock to a simmer.  I had about a cup and a half in the freezer.  Add in 3 tbsp of madeira and bring back to a simmer.  Add in 5 tbsp of unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon at a time until all is incorporated.  Make sure heat is turned down so that you do not boil the sauce as the fat from the butter will separate.  Finish with a little chiffonade of fresh sage.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Never underestimate the power of freshly grated parmigiano reggiano on top.  
So very good.  The sauce, oh the sauce!  Meatballs were just as good as the first time around.  Gnocchi light and fluffy.  

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Soy and Rice Wine Braised Rock Cod

I knew I wanted fish, but once again, had no plan what to do with it.  This morning I picked up a nice fillet of fresh rock cod and waited to get hungry for that is when true inspiration strikes.  Nothing more difficult than trying to come up with a decision on food when you are not at all hungry.  So, come 4:00 this afternoon, and having no plan still, hunger struck.  Time for a little Chinese food.  Braising fish fillets often encompasses deep frying the fish.  Tonight, I decided to try it without a deep fry, but rather a wok fry with extra oil, and then braising it as usual.

Slice the rock cod into small squares, approximately 2.5" x 2.5" pieces.  Toss the fish slices with  1 egg white beaten with 1/2 tbsp of corn starch and 1 tsp rice wine.  Fry the fish in several tbsp of oil in a wok for a couple of minutes.  You may need to do this in batches.  Make sure the fish does not stick together.  Flip them gently so they don't break apart.  Remove and drain on paper towels.

1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp thinly julienned ginger
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup chanterelle mushrooms, or button mushrooms or shiitake mushrooms (I happened to still have chanterelles in my fridge)
In a clean wok, heat 1 tbsp oil over high heat and fry the above for about a minute.  Add the following:
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp light soy
2 tbsp rice wine
1 tbsp brandy
1/2 cup chicken stock
Bring to a boil.  Return the fish to the wok and combine well and simmer for 1 minute.  Thicken the sauce with a mixture of corn starch and water.   Drizzle with a little bit of sesame oil and sprinkle with cilantro leaves.  

Monday, October 18, 2010

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Lobster and Vanilla Saffron Sauce

The freezer is getting a little full, so time to do a cycle of revisiting some of the goodies that have been stored away in there.  What to pair with that yummy butternut squash ravioli from a couple of weeks ago.  I was thinking fish this morning and remembered of how excellent that vanilla saffron sauce was from back in May.  And wanting always to try something slightly different, I decided to go with lobster and a slight variation on the sauce.

1 live, 2 pound lobster
Steam the lobster for 4 minutes using 3 cups water in a large pot.  I am choosing to steam/boil the lobster because I will use the liquid for the stock in the vanilla saffron sauce and I don't want the liquid to be too diluted.  Remove the lobster, and pull of the claws and return them to the pot for another 2-3 minutes.   The meat will not be fully cooked so that you can finish it when ready to serve.  Once the lobster is cooled, remove all the meat from the tail, claws and knuckles.  Pull the tail away from the body.  I use a good pair of kitchen scissors to cut the tail shell open.  Make sure you remove the vein running through the top of the tail just under the top of the meat.  It's the same procedure as removing the vein from the shrimp tail.  Use either a hammer or the heel of your knife to break open the claws.  Pull off the lower pincer and remove the cartilage that should be attached to it.  Hopefully, your claw will remain in one piece, but not to fret if it does not, as you may want to cut them up anyway.  Use the scissors to also cut apart the knuckles and remove that meat.  Cut the tail meat into large bite sized pieces.   Clean the head/body of any roe or tomalley.  Keep all the shells for the lobster stock.  The cooking and cleaning of lobster can be done ahead of time.  Bring the lobster back to room temp when you are actually going to cook to serve. 

For the lobster stock:
Using the liquid left from the cooking of the lobster, and all of the shells, add 1 clove of garlic, 1 shallot, bay leaf, sprig of thyme and 3/4 cup white wine to the water.  Bring to a simmer for about 10 minutes and strain reserving liquid.  It should yield about 2 cups.  I saved one and put it away for another use.

Vanilla Saffron Sauce as follows:
1/2 Vannila bean, split
1 Cup lobster stock
1/4 tsp saffron threads
2 tbsp heavy cream
6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 5 pieces
Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into a pan adding the stock, vanilla pod, and saffron.  Let simmer until reduced to about 1/2 cup.  Strain sauce through a fine sieve.  Add in the cream and bring to a simmer.  Then slowly whisk in the butter a piece at a time.  Be careful with the heat so not to boil the sauce again, or the butter/fat will separate from the sauce.  

To finish the lobster, melt a few tbsp butter in a saute pan, over med/low heat.  You don't want to fry the lobster, but rather just kind of poach the lobster gently in the butter until it is warmed and cooked through. 
The frozen ravioli can be thawed laid out on paper towels in a single layer or you can just boil them directly from frozen state, accounting for longer boiling time if frozen.  Serve ravioli with a few pieces of lobster and the vanilla saffron sauce on top.  That's good living!  Sauce, divine.  Lobster, sweet.  Ravioli, just as good as the last time, maybe even better with the vanilla saffron sauce.  

Friday, October 15, 2010

Duck Fat Fries

So, what could be better than a perfectly fried shoestring potato?  One fried in duck fat, of course.  The first time I made these, I was making some duck confit, and well, what to do with all that fabulous fat.  A revelation.  I love duck, I love french fries.  It would be a match made in my deep fryer heaven.  

I fry these the same as regular fries.  The only difference is the varying ratio of duck fat to the regular oil you use.  Tonight I am doing a combo of duck fat and peanut oil.  Though other times, I've done all duck fat, tonight I chose to do a 2/3 duck fat to 1/3 peanut oil ratio.  It all depends on how much duck flavor you want in your fries.  If I were to be serving only a small handful of fries, I would be inclined to go with all duck fat.  It would produce a very rich and bold flavor.  However, tonight I am serving them as a significant side to the burgers which I made earlier this week that Chris had missed out on.  He's been asking every night since, to have burgers, and tonight I am acquiescing.  Given the quantity of fries we'll be putting down, full duck fat may be too much.  

If you are wondering where to find prepared duck fat, you can find it most often in the freezer section.  Or just ask your butcher.  If you live in Seattle, Uwajimaya has it pretty much all the time.  
I find a russet potato works best and I like to keep the skin on.  More flavor.  I hand cut my fries to about 1/4" x 1/4" thickness.  I am finding the longer I soak my cut potatoes in water, the crispier the fries are.  It goes against my belief that soaking the potato dilutes the flavor, but in this case, I guess I'm willing to sacrifice a little flavor for more crispiness.  Besides, we're talking duck fat here.  
So, fry as usual... par fry at 250f until potatoes are softened, but not fully cooked.  Remove from fat/oil, and heat the fat up to 350f and fry the potatoes until golden brown and crispy.  Drain and salt immediately.  Sure, why not, use some truffle salt.  Might as well go all the way.  Blissful, and impossible to stop eating until all are devoured.  If you like duck, you must have duck fat fries!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Clams with Black Bean Sauce

When we were living in Taipei, we would go to these beer houses with large groups of friends.  Everything on their menu was there as an accompaniment for beer... or in fact, to make you want to drink more beer.  These beer houses ranged from little holes in the wall to large, elaborate multi-level establishments.  My favorite one was just outside of the city, had a large outdoor patio and was next to a rice paddy.  Dimly lit, the warm night air,  icey cold beer, good times.  Among other dishes, we would always order these baby clams.  We used to call it the plate of empty clam shells, though it mattered to us not.  They were spicy, salty, sweet, deliciousness and we rarely found any actual clam meat.  The clams were size of dimes and in the cooking of them, most of the clams fell out of the shells.  We'd slurp the fabulous sauce out of the shells along with the clam if were lucky enough to get one, and drink beer, lots of beer.

I took this photo in Taipei, at a street market, last December.  Clams on the bottom left are about twice the size of the ones from the beer house.

2.25 lbs Live Manila Clams
1 tbsp fermented black beans, soaked, drained and smashed
1 tsp black bean garlic sauce
2 tsp soy
1 tbsp rice wine
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced ginger
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp sliced scallions

Rinse clams, but do not soak in water.  In a hot wok, saute garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes until fragrant.  Add in clams and smashed black beans.  Toss several times to fry the clams.  Add in remaining ingredients and continue to toss the clams.  As they cook and open, transfer them to a dish.  Once all clams are cooked, simmer sauce another minute or so and add a thickening agent of cornstarch and water to thicken the sauce slightly.  Discard any clams that do not open.  Return the clams along with the sliced scallions to the wok and toss quickly just to coat.  Salty, briny, and fresh.  Oh so good.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Something with Gravy... and a Little Calvados and Some White Truffle Oil

Yes, we eat a lot of chicken here.  Again this morning, the question went out for any requests for dinner tonight.  The discussion circled around something with gravy, leftovers for lunch sandwiches, and a roast chicken.  I can make that happen.  But what will make this chicken different and special?  This is the quandary most every time I set out to make another chicken dinner.  

The chicken will be prepared in the same way as I often do.  Start by taking a whole chicken and cutting it up into 8 pieces.  Salt and pepper the chicken and brown, skin side down first, in a large pan over medium high heat.  No need to add any oil to the pan as the fat from the skin of the chicken will suffice.  Do this in batches and place browned chicken onto a baking pan as you will finish the chicken in the oven for about 20 minutes at 400f.  

The magic is in the sauce.  With a tablespoon of the fat left from the browned chicken, saute some sliced mushrooms until browned and softened.  Add a couple tablespoons of flour and stir to cook for a few minutes.  Deglaze with 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock and stir well to incorporate the flour until sauce is thickened.  Add in 3 tbsp of calvados and bring back to a simmer.  Add salt and pepper as needed and 2 tbsp of heavy cream.  Finish with a drizzle of white truffle oil.  
A little truffle oil will heighten anything you add it to.  Pure perfection.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Burger Craving and The Costco Purchase

A couple of nights ago, a large burger craving swept over me.  I looked back and the last time I had a burger was in July.  So, yes, it is time again.  Met with a Costco trip for other staples, I found myself home with a large quantity of beef to grind.  What was I thinking?  That's a lotta beef!  So, if you're wondering, where's the beef?  It's at my house!

Last posting I went with all chuck.  This time around, I went back to my normal mix of short rib and top sirloin.  A little trick I use is salting the beef before grinding.  I figure this assures the proper amount of salt and even distribution.  Since I generally do not measure, the visual I get with salting the beef in its whole form takes the guess work out of it.

When forming your burger, gently form the ball and press it flat.  Don't pack the beef too tightly as this will give you more of a hockey puck effect and more shrinkage will occur.  Even with freezing a bit of the meat unground, I would up with quite a bit of burger to freeze (yay!) and some that hit the road to happy homes.  
With our burgers, I went the griddle route tonight and put a heavy sear on them.  I made the gals discuss the burger a bit.. yes, perhaps a little torture, but a little payment must be made for the food they are getting.  What do you think about the sear, I asked.  It was agreed the little bit of crunchy outer layer was delish.  And the cheese?  Beecher's Flagship for me, good ole Kraft American for the gals.  My favorite bun?  Oroweat  potato rolls.  It makes for a medium sized burger, but it is the perfectly soft and light bun with enough girth, without being overpowering, to hold the burger.  The girls opted for sliders.  All good.  All eaten. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday Where's the Bacon? Chanterelle Mushroom Rigatoni

Any requests for dinner tonight?  One of the most challenging parts of cooking every night is coming up with ideas on what to make.  I rely largely on my family for requests.  For inspiration on preparation methods, I often wander the various markets in town and pick up produce that is in season.  Chanterelles have made many an appearance in my kitchen lately.  I have read that so far, they are only found in the wild and that efforts to cultivate them have been unsuccessful.  So, get them fresh while you can.  The request came in this morning for cream sauce pasta, the kind with bacon.  Hmmm... carbonara, I assume, is what was meant as I don't recall having used heavy cream and bacon in one pasta dish.  Though, you never can be too sure with us.  I am hoping the plan I came up with will satiate the desire for bacon.
1 pound rigatoni pasta
3/4 pound chanterelle mushrooms, clean and cut to bite sized pieces
1 cup bacon dashi (left over from Saturday night's meal)
2 shallots, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup mascarpone cheese 
1/2 cup grated parmesan
Arugula and scallions to garnish

Cook rigatoni according to box directions.  
Saute shallots and garlic in a little olive oil until softened.  Add chanterelles and saute until just softened, but not fully cooked.  Add bacon dashi and bring to a simmer.  Reduce just a bit.  Add mascarpone cheese and stir until well incorporated and sauce is creamy.  
Drain the pasta, keeping about a bit of the cooking liquid.  Add pasta to the sauce along with the parmesan.  Toss to combine well.  Add some cooking liquid as needed if the pasta is too dry. Salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish with a bit of arugula and I added some scallions, also left from Saturday's meal.
This made enough for dinner and the kids' lunches tomorrow.  Another bonus!
Very rich, as you would guess.  Sitting heavily in my stomach, albeit a very satisfied stomach.  In love with chanterelles.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Saturday Night - Let's Talk Fish

So, you know I've been dreaming about how to incorporate sushi rice fried in butter into many aspects of a meal since the day I first had that revelation moment at Nishino.  I had to stop myself from thinking on a big scale to embracing the 'less is more' concept.  I mean, really, if a bite sized portion is good, wouldn't a whole large cake be even better?  I refrained.  Tonight, a couple of test cases for the sushi rice fried in butter.
Seared Teriyaki Kobe Beef with  Wasabi Flying Fish Roe and...
Otoro Sashimi with Fried Seaweed, soy and wasabi oil drizzle
And then a good back to basic, Maguro tuna poke, seaweed salad and fried wonton strips.

For the main course, a variation on a Momofuku recipe I tested out back in April.  Tonight, it is seared halibut cheeks, sauteed pea sprouts, pickled chanterelles, pickled fennel, potato and celery root puree and bacon dashi.

Though this dish has many components, you can make a few of them the day before.  
For the pickled chanterelles and fennel, you can use the same pickling juice, but pickle them in separate containers.  I like using jelly jars the best. 
1 large fennel bulb, sliced very thinly, core removed
1 cup chanterelles, cleaned well.  Go ahead and rinse them in water to make sure you get any dirt or debris off.  Cut them in half or quarters, depending on how large they are.
For the pickling liquid, combine:
1 1/2 cups super hot water
3/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
3 tsp kosher salt
Pack the chanterelles and fennel into 2 jars and pour the liquid over them.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  The chanterelles will not keep for as long as the fennel, maybe only a week, but the fennel should keep for up to a few weeks or month.

Make the bacon dashi the day before to allow it to chill completely, so you can remove the fat layer that forms on top.  Here's the recipe for bacon dashi.

The potato and celery root puree I made was done in the same way as my regular mashed potatoes but with the addition of the celery root.  Cut the outer skin off the celery root and then cut the root itself into 2" x 2" pieces.  Boil until tender.  Mash and combine with the potatoes. to proceed.  A variation for tonight, I added a new love, truffle infused honey.  Oh my!

I went to buy sea bass and came home with halibut cheeks.  I hadn't seen halibut cheeks in a while and when I asked which I should get, the response was sea bass you can get anytime, halibut cheeks are a seldom find.  True and sold! 
Rinse and clean the halibut of any impurities.  There's a small piece of thin white sinew on the base of the cheek.  Remove that with a sharp filet knife.  Dry the fish well before cooking so that you can get a good sear on it.  Season with salt and a little ground white pepper.  Use a large rimmed well seasoned saute pan to sear the halibut.  Put a little bit of oil in the pan and heat to smoking hot.  Place the fish down and press on it to make sure the entire surface gets a hard sear on it.  After a minute or so, add several tablespoons of butter into the pan.  Use enough butter so that once it's melted, you can spoon it over the top of the halibut to cook the top half.  You will have to tilt the pan and continuously spoon the butter over the halibut.  If you have to do this in batches, like I did, start over with a clean pan.  

Sublime and delicate flavors.  We'll be dreaming about all the fish tonight, but the otoro stole our hearts.  Just beautiful in every way.