Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Troll Caught Wild King Salmon with Miso Glaze

Bought a beautiful piece of salmon today.  Stella was with me and requested that sauce I made over the summer... it had little bits of something in it, and was white.  I looked it up, and alas, it was beurre blanc.  I had to break it to her that I am currently on my no butter, no cream commitment.  She pondered a moment and said to me, isn't that sauce served on the side?  Hmm, how right you are.

I decided to broil the salmon with a little miso glaze:
1/3 cup light miso
1/3 cup sake
1/3 mirin
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp honey
Place individual portions of salmon in a zip lock bag with the miso glaze and let marinade for a few hours.  Line a baking pan with foil and broil the salmon, skin side first for about 2 minutes per side, depending on thickness of your salmon.

And, not being able to resist a Stella boo face, here's the beurre blanc:
2 tbsp white wine
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp finely minced shallots
1/4 cup cream
pinch of salt
sprinkle ground white pepper
8 tbsp butter cut into small pieces

Combine wine, vinegar and shallots in a small sauce pan.  Simmer until sauce is reduce to 1 tbsp.  Add in salt, pepper and cream.  Bring to a light boil for 1 minute.  Turn heat down to low and add the butter a piece at a time, whisking all the time until all butter is incorporated.  Do not bring back to a boil or the butter will separate.  Keep sauce warm until ready to use.  Makes about 1/2 cup.
The salmon was fabulous.  As usual, correctly steered by my guy at the fish counter.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Broiled Honey and Truffle Black Tiger Prawns

Well, one thing's for sure, there's no stopping a body's need for food.  With the eating that's been going on over the holiday, I even find myself saying, really, another meal?   I mean, don't get me wrong, I happily eat every next meal.  But a little guilt combined with a bit of laziness goes a long way to making that next meal a serious ponderance.  Last night I decided I would have to start taking serious measures to offset my love for food.  I had grand plans of waking up early and exercising before the kids got up.  I awoke at about 6 am and decided it was too dark to go for a run.  So, I spent the next hour dreaming I was going for a run.  Is that just as good?  I have a love - hate relationship with running.  It's a lot of hate before you get to that love.  But out I went, albeit not quite the 'early' I had intended, but baby steps, right?  I bring the dog along as an excuse to slow down every once in a while.  I figure he has a right to check his p-mail every few blocks.

So, what does this all have to do with tonight's dinner?  I've sworn off butter, cream and fried foods, maybe pork belly, um, Kobe beef, cheese, dessert.... until, well, until I don't have to feel guilty about eating it anymore.  (OK, minus New Years of course)  This will be very sad news for Chris.  
I had in my freezer some shell on, U15, black tiger prawns.  I decided to broil them with a little brush of sauce.  Split the prawns open from the back and press on them firmly to open them.  Brush with the following mixture:
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp honey (I used white truffle honey, but regular honey will work as well)
1/2 tsp dijon or a sweet mustard
1/2 tsp white truffle oil
1/2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
pinch of paprika
salt and pepper to taste

Broil prawns for just 3-4 minutes under the broiler.  I served mine with King Trumpet Mushrooms sauteed in olive oil.  The prawns were really good.  Plump and sweet.  But the mushrooms were fabulous.  Meaty and firm.  

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Market Report

As my kids announced, it is Christmas Eve Eve.  I thought I'd report on what I'd say is a complete score during my own holiday food shopping today.  First I will say, I will not be posting Christmas Eve dinner as the meal will consist of items already on the blog.  As a tradition, we celebrate Maggie's birthday on Christmas Eve.  She is a Christmas baby,  the best and most precious of gifts.  Maggie's choice for her birthday dinner this year is Steak Frites, l'entrecote sauce and poutine.  We say hooray! 

I was making just a quick routine stop at Uwajimaya this morning.  As I zipped by the meat department, what stopped me in my tracks, but a Grimaud Farms FRESH young goose.  It has probably been about 15 years since I last cooked goose.  Sold and sold!  For a little icing on the cake, they also had fresh foie gras that were sliced into approximately one inch pieces and individually shrink wrapped.  Really, all you ever want are a couple of slices, not a whole lobe, which is what historically I've ever been able to purchase.  So, this is a real treat and great service for your customers.  Also in the meat counter were muscovy duck legs, duck breasts, and guinea fowl I believe.  And if you need one last decadent item to round out your holiday, pick up some fresh black truffle and shave that on some mashed potatoes or buttered pasta.  Uwayjimaya, always worth a stop, and seemingly ever more impressive with each visit.  I feel like I should be on their payroll by now.  But I can't help but share a good thing.

Happy Eating, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!  

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Poulet de Bresse au Vinaigre

Another day, another chicken.  There must be an infinite number of chicken recipes out there, but I am often at a loss for something new.  Don't feel like it, too much work, boring, or just stuck in a rut, I just could not come up with what to do with that chicken in my refrigerator.  I sat at my kitchen counter looking through cookbooks and suddenly remembered this recipe from Bocuse's Regional French Cooking, Poulet de Bresse au Vinaigre.  It's been a long time since I last made this chicken.  Not too many steps, and if I remember correctly, quite tasty.

Of course, my chicken was not from Bresse, but it is organic and it will do.  The recipe is as follows, with a few changes I made along the way.
1 Large Bresse or free-range chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds)
2 Tomatoes - I used what I had on hand, which were grape tomatoes, about 1 cup, chopped
6 tbsp unsalted butter
4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 cup red wine vinegar
2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 tbsp heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse and dry the chicken and cut into 8 pieces.  In a large Dutch oven, melt 1 tbsp of butter.  Salt and pepper the chicken.  Add the chicken and brown on all sides.  At this point, the recipe calls for incorporating the rest of the ingredients with the chicken.  I preferred to remove the chicken and continue with the sauce so that the skin the chicken can remain crispy.  I put the chicken on a baking pan and placed it in a 400f oven to finish, another 20-25 minutes.  Add the garlic cloves to the pot and mix well.  Add the vinegar and bring to a boil.  Stir in the tomatoes, cover and simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes.  Add the chicken stock and reduce the sauce by 1/3.  Strain the sauce through a sieve pressing on the solids.  Return sauce to clean pan over low heat.  Cut the remaining 5 tbsp of butter into small pieces and add to the sauce a couple pieces at a time, whisking to incorporate.  Stir in the cream.  Ladle the sauce around the chicken to serve.  The first question from the girls is always, "is there sauce?"  But of course!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rasa's Show Stealing Cookies

Over the holiday season, a few cookies will be consumed.  I am not a particularly talented baker, nor much of a consumer of sweets, but the other night I had these fabulous cookies my friend, Rasa, made... peanut butter cup, chocolate chip cookies.  They were crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, and peanut butter, mmmm.  Chris and I laid in bed discussing how they might have been made.  As we prepare for a day of skiing tomorrow, and snowshoeing for me, it seemed only perfect to make these for our outing.  Thank you, Rasa, for sharing the recipe and good laughs from me inquiring how they should be made.

Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe

1 Package of mini Hershey's Peanut Butter Cups - 36 or 48 
Make the cookie recipe and scoop the cookie dough into small tart / mini muffin tins that have been sprayed with Pam or other non-stick spray.  Bake as directed in the cookie recipe.  I think I wound up baking them for a couple of minutes longer as I may have over filled my muffin tins.  I made 36, but perhaps closer to 48 might have been the right amount.  Remove the peanut butter cups from their wrappers and have them ready when the cookies come out of the oven.  Press a peanut butter cup into each cookie.  Let cool, and invert the pans or just pull the cookies out.  They should slide out easily.  The perfect apres ski, avant ski, or pendant ski snack.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Show Night Shell Pasta with Veal and Crimini Mushrooms

It is the Thursday before the last day of school before my kids are on winter break.  That, in itself, is enough to celebrate.  But it also means that tonight is their school Christmas Program.  This will be our 8th year, and we will once again squeeze ourselves into the lovely church, straining to get a brief look at our kids as they belt out their songs, and maybe sometimes only catching a glimpse of them as they walk up to the stage.  Are binoculars inappropriate?  Perhaps a pair of opera glasses.   Before I send them off to stand confidently in front of hundreds of people and perform, a good hearty meal will be had.

3/4 lb veal shoulder, ground or chopped
3 cups chopped crimini mushrooms
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp flour
1/4 cup madeira
1 1/4 cups veal stock
pinch dried thyme
1 bay leaf
2 tsp tomato paste
1 tbsp chopped capers

1 lb fresh shell shaped pasta
An idea from a video a friend sent to me, I decided to use a large heavy cleaver to hand chop the veal shoulder instead of grinding it.  I first cut the veal into small pieces and then chopped it finely with the cleaver.  A fine way to also get some aggression out, should you need to do so.  Saute the veal in a little olive oil over medium high heat until it is well browned.  Add in the onions and then the mushrooms, bay leaf and thyme.  Saute until mushrooms and onions are quite softened.  Add in the tomato paste and then the flour and stir to combine well.  Deglaze with the madeira and then add in the veal stock.  I tasted it and it needed a little something, so I decided to add the capers.  Let simmer for about 20 minutes.  

Cook the pasta and add the pasta to the sauce and stir together.  Serve with freshly grated Manchego cheese.  The pasta.... delicious.  The singing ignites the Christmas spirit.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Crab Wontons with Spinach and Bacon Dashi

Thanks to our friends, we were lucky recipients of a freshly caught, cooked and cleaned dungeness crab.  How lucky are we?  Chris suggested crab wontons.  Sounds good to me.

1 Dungeness crab, meat removed from shell
3 scallions, finely sliced
1/2 cup very finely chopped water chestnuts
1 tbsp softened brie spread
1 tsp light soy
1 package wonton shells

Saute scallions and water chestnuts together in a little vegetable oil for just a few minutes.  Let cool.  Gently mix all ingredients together.  Fill wonton shells and shape as you like.  I decided to do a simple fold over to make a triangle.  I would have used heavy cream instead of the brie, but alas, no cream in our house.  Yes, it's true.  I would have thought the refrigerator alarm would have gone off to alert me.  But, never fear, there is always a good substitute in the house.  Boil the wontons for 1-2 minutes.  Since everything is cooked on the inside, really, you just need to cook the shell.
Serve with sauteed baby spinach, bacon dashi, a sprinkle of crispy Nueskes bacon, and fresh thinly sliced scallions.  Sweet crab, smoky crispy bacon bits, really, really good.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Chinese Salt Pork with Leeks and Cabbage

While thinking about foods that go well with rice, salt pork wok fried with leeks and garlic is a home cooked favorite.  It's nothing fancy by any means, but it is a powerhouse of flavor.  It is the quintessential late night, late supper, congee or rice, beer or liquor, way to end an evening.  I've seen it pop up on some menus at Chinese restaurants around town.  It reminds me of college days when after a night out, I found myself drinking beer out of a tea pot while having a few midnight munchie tidbits with a bowl of white rice....mmmm.  Youth and resilience.    
8 oz Salt pork
2 leeks, sliced
1 small cabbage, sliced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 scallion, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp soy
2 tsp rice wine
1 tsp sugar

In your wok, fry the garlic, scallion and red pepper flakes in a little bit of oil over high heat until fragrant.  Toss in the salt pork, then the leeks, and then the cabbage. Fry until slightly softened.  Add in the soy, rice wine and sugar and fry for another few minutes until everything is well incorporated.  Let me tell you, it is like the potato chip.. one bite is never enough.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Roasted, Braised, Fried then Braised Again Oxtail - In a Word Divine

The other night we watched a holiday special featuring David Chang as one of the chefs preparing holiday dishes made from cuts of beef.  His was the oxtail.  Chris and I sat wide eyed and speechless, maybe drooling a bit.  Coming from a Chinese family, it's not surprising I ate a lot of oxtail growing up.  But I found it strange that Chris had done so as well.  Those wild and crazy Canadians.  We carry on the tradition, as our kids are quite the oxtail connoisseurs.

David Chang, becoming more my hero every time I see him in action, made a brilliant version of the braised oxtail.  He roasted them first, then braised them in a pressure cooker with leeks, apple pear, apple juice, soy sauce and garlic.  Then he deep fried them, reduced the cooking sauce, and braised them again.  Later that evening, Chris walked into the room and said,"I love David Chang."  I mean, not in the way that you'd, say, proclaim that you love vanilla ice cream.  I mean in the way that if somehow I were out of the picture, he would find a way to develop a Felix Unger and Oscar Madison relationship with him.  A good old fashioned bromance.  This might be my choice for him as well... my kids would be well fed, that's for sure.

Fortuitously, I already had a package of oxtail in my refrigerator.  Blinded by the awe of the deep frying portion of the recipe, I failed to go back and watch the episode to find out what other ingredients I needed.  Missing were apple pears and leeks, which I substituted with pear, apple and scallions.  I think we'll be okay.

6 Oxtail
1 pear
1 whole head of garlic, cut in half
5 scallions, cut in half
2 cups apple juice
1/4 cup dark soy sauce

Sprinkle the oxtail with kosher salt.  Roast in a 500f oven for about 10-15 minutes until deep brown.  In a large cast iron pot combine all the ingredients and bring to a boil.  Turn heat down to simmer, covered, for about 2 to 2.5 hours, until tender.  Flip and turn the oxtail a couple of times during the braising.  Chang used a pressure cooker, but a regular pot will do just fine, just takes longer.  Remove the oxtail from the cooking sauce, and drain.  Continue to boil the sauce until reduced to more of a glaze consistency.  Using a deep fryer or large pot of oil at 365f, fry the oxtail quickly.  Drain on paper towels.  Strain the sauce and braise the oxtail again for just a few minutes in the sauce.  
I served the oxtail with crispy rice as I also did not have the rice cake noodles he used.  Garnish with a blanched scallion and julienned apples.   My frying oil was too hot resulting in too crispy of an outer layer.  I left my oil thermometer at a friends' house and have yet to replace it.  Winging it has its pitfalls.  But still, it was divine and devoured.

I should leave you with the fact that Chang did his shopping in what looked to be an Asian quickie mart.  Well on his way to hero status for sure.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Szechuan Chinese Long Beans

One of my favorite ways to eat a bowl of rice is with a big plate of Szechuan green beans.  The green beans I've seen of late have been a little on the sad side.  Enter the Chinese Long Bean, an excellent substitute.  I've usually cooked the long bean in its pickled form.  Finely diced and sauteed with a little ground pork, soy and spicy chilies, it is the perfect beer and rice companion.   If you ever make it to Spiced in Bellevue, WA, they make a great version of this, along with a whole cooler counter of special cold items to choose from.  But on with my long beans.

1 lb Chinese long beans
1/3 cup minced or ground pork, mixed with 1 tsp soy and 1 tsp wine
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp cooking wine
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp white vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp minced ginger
1-2 tsp chili sauce
1 scallion, sliced

Rinse the long beans and trim off the ends.  Cut into bit sized pieces.  Fry the beans in a smoking hot wok with 1 tbsp of canola oil until they are a little bit shriveled looking.  Remove the beans from the wok and add another couple teaspoons of oil.  Add the pork and fry until browned.  Add the garlic, ginger and chili sauce.  Fry until fragrant.  Toss beans back in and add the soy, wine, sugar and vinegar.  Fry for just a couple more minutes.  Sprinkle with scallions to serve.  This is a keeper!  It goes on the "standards" list.  And so a new label is born.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Steamed Ginger and Scallion Rex Sole

After a big eating weekend, time again for something that will keep you feeling light and fresh.  I wanted to steam a whole fish, but was counseled that the whole fish they had in stock were not worthy of steaming... only pan frying.  Thank you for being honest!  I was directed to Rex Sole, a delicate little fish, which had been cleaned, head removed, but small enough not to be filleted.  

Rinse and pat dry the fish.  Make a few shallow slits on both sides of the fish.  Place the fish into a shallow dish with enough of an edge to hold the sauce and any liquid that comes from the fish while steaming.   Toss with:
1 tablespoon of finely julienned ginger
1 tablespoon cooking wine
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
Let marinade for about 10 minutes before steaming.

There are several ways you can steam this.  Set the dish on top of a inverted bowl.  Fill the wok with a little water, making sure the water will not touch the dish while boiling.  Cover the wok with a large rounded lid.

Use a bamboo steamer set on a wok.  Place the dish into the second (top) layer of the steamer to make sure the dish does not touch the boiling water.  

My mom gave me a metal steamer which works great as well, but has limited height allowance.  Good for dumplings, but not always good for dishes.  But worked well for the fish tonight.  

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons finely julienned ginger
2 Scallions, finely sliced
freshly ground pepper
Steam the fish for about 5-8 minutes, until the meat comes away easily from the bone.  Heat  the vegetable oil in a small pan until smoking hot.  Sprinkle the fish with the ginger, scallions and pepper.  Drizzle hot oil over the fish.  Fresh, delicate, forgiving.

Turkey Pot Pies

So here's the pay off from the roasted turkey.  In the years I've been making these, I've learned the two most important things are the gravy or sauce in the pies and the vegetable to meat ratio. For purely our own consumption, I would have used single serving ramekins and placed a sheet of puff pastry on top.  But these pies are going to travel to a few of my family members, so the pie tin works best for freezing and hitting the road.  A few years ago when we had a snow storm followed by a deep freeze here in Seattle, my Sister's family lost power for several days.  I sent them home with some frozen pot pies which they were able to cook in their fireplace.  Cute!  as my sister would say.

I'm leaving out the measurements as I did not measure, but took enough photos that perhaps would give a good idea of proportions.  But here's a list of ingredients.

Ready made pie shells in tins.  I purchased these at Big John's PFI.  They have a variety of sizes in both pie and tart.  
Puff Pastry sheets.  Also purchased from PFI.
Turkey - cut into 1/2' chunks
Celery, I use the tender core of the celery and use the leaves as well
Sweet onions
Baby peas
Fresh Sage
Dried Thyme leaves
Gravy - as described on yesterday's post on roast turkey.  I will add that I had A LOT of turkey stock which I boiled at a rolling boil to condense until I felt the stock was rich enough.  To the gravy I added a splash of brandy and let it boil for bit.
Saute the onions until slightly softened.  Then add the carrots and saute until they are slightly softened.  Then add the celery until they are softened.  Incorporate the turkey, thyme, sage and lastly the peas.  Add the gravy to the mixture, stir to combine.  Be liberal with the gravy.  You need more than you think.. especially if you are freezing.  I did not cook the filling after adding the gravy.  Once the gravy was added, I let the mixture cool down before filling the pies.  

Pre-bake the pie shells until just starting to golden, about 10 minutes at 400f.  Let cool completely.  Fill each pie shell and cover with a square piece of puff pastry.  I used to cut out rounds and make them fit perfectly over.  But no wanting to waste, and taking an easier route, I decided to just cut them into squares.
Make a few slits on top of each puff pastry to allow steam to escape when baking.  Brush with an egg wash before baking.   Since I was going to freeze mine, I did not do this.  Bake the pies at 400f for 30-45 minutes.  Everything is cooked inside, so really, you just want to have the puff pastry puff and golden properly.  I love inventory!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Roasted Turkey

It was just a matter of time before I spatchcocked a turkey.  You knew that, right?  Not as beautifully presented as a whole bird, but in this occasion it does not matter.  We will get the advantage of even cooking resulting in better flavor, juiciness and tenderness.  With the turkey being only 9 pounds, it was not too difficult to cut the back bone out with a pair of kitchen shears.  A few choice mutterings may have escaped my mouth, but in all, it was as civil as removing a back bone out of a turkey could be.  With my cleaver, I cracked the hard part of the breast bone in order to flatten out the turkey.  

For the brine.. approximately 1/3 cup kosher salt, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp each of dried rosemary and thyme.  Add 3 cups of water and bring to a simmer for about 5 minutes to dissolve the salt and sugar and bring out the flavors of the herbs.  Then add another 3-4 cups of cold water, or more as needed to submerge the turkey.  Let cool completely before putting the turkey in.  I used a large stock pot and placed the turkey inside and covered it with the brine.  If your weather is like ours currently in Seattle, you can put the whole thing outside if you don't have room in your refrigerator.  Use a small cooler if you want instead.  But I can tell you my pot is outside on my deck right now.  I will report back should food poisoning ensue. 

The next day, take the turkey out of the brine, discard the brine, and pat dry the turkey.  Let it come to room temp before roasting.  Use a large baking sheet or pan to roast.  Lay the turkey skin side up and roast in a 400f oven for approximately 45 minutes.   At this point, the skin was brown enough, that I loosely covered it with foil.  Turn the oven down to 350 and roast for another 20 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into thickest part of the turkey reaches 165f.   Rotate the turkey once while roasting.  No need to baste.  As a matter of fact, it's better that you do not, as the skin will not be crispy if you do.  Let rest 15 minutes before slicing.

In my preparation for the eventual turkey pot pies, I made a large pot of turkey stock by using various turkey parts, onion, celery and carrots.  Combine everything with water and simmer for a couple of hours.  Use the fat from the roasting of the turkey and make a roux with some flour.  It should form a very soft and wet dough.  Cook the roux for a minute or so.  The amount of flour and fat you use depends on how much stock you have.  I had quite a bit of both because of what I was going to save for the pot pies.  Plus, we just flat out love gravy.  Add the roux to the boiling turkey stock and whisk in as needed to achieve the consistency of gravy you like.

I love the smell of the turkey roasting.  It conjures up feelings of warmth and coziness and the anticipation of something good to come.  

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Alaskan Sockeye Salmon with White Balsamic Glaze and White Truffle Honey

Full disclosure, I have to admit there is a standing rib roast 'aging' in my downstairs refrigerator, and a Diestel Petite Turkey waiting to be brined.  Both are planned to be consumed by the end of the weekend.  Not sure if the turkey will make it to the table, but I obviously did not get my Thanksgiving turkey fill as I am still craving a roasted turkey and Maggie is still asking daily for turkey pot pie.  Yes, it's December, and not that we haven't indulged all year, but the weather combined with that holiday feeling, drives me to cook up some big dinners.  Knowing these two large dinners are around the corner, I thought it wise to go with something maybe a little lighter tonight.  Haven't had salmon in a while and looking for a new preparation, I decided to try this little experiment.  

2 lbs Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon
3/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
Drizzle of LuLu White Truffle Honey
Salt and white pepper

Rinse and pat dry the salmon.  Cut into individual servings.  
Place balsamic vinegar in a small sauce pan, bring to a simmer and reduce to about 1/4 cup
Salt and pepper the salmon on both sides.  Lay skin side up on a foil lined baking sheet.  Set the oven to broil and place the rack as close to the top of the oven as would allow the pan to still fit.  Brush skin side with the balsamic glaze.  Broil for 2 minutes.  Flip over, and brush the flesh side with the balsamic and drizzle with a little white truffle honey.  Broil for another 2 minutes.   

I served the salmon with sauteed pea vines and lemon garlic quinoa.  Saute the garlic in a little olive oil, add quinoa and cover with chicken stock following the liquid to quinoa ratio given on the package for cooking, basically one part quinoa to 2 parts liquid.  Let cook for about 15 minutes, then rest covered for 15 minutes.  When ready to serve, add a little lemon zest and a squeeze of juice.  Sweet, simple and yummy.  Loved the quinoa.