Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Back to School Braised Veal Shanks

Maggie made a request for braised veal shanks for her back to school dinner.  Summer passed all too quickly, and although it's not quite the season for braising, on special days, I always honor special requests.

4 Veal Shanks, about 9 oz each
2 Carrots, finely chopped
2 Celery ribs, finely chopped
1 Sweet onion, finely chopped
2 Garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 Cup chicken stock
1 Cup beef stock
1 Cup red wine

Heat oven to 350.  Salt and pepper veal shanks and dredge in flour.  In a medium sized enameled cast iron pot, heat 3 tbsp oil over medium heat.  Brown shanks in turn, not crowding the pan.  Set shanks aside, and saute carrots, celery, onion and garlic over medium high heat in the same oil that was left in the pot, for about 2 minutes, until just softened.  Add in stock and wine and bring to a simmer.  Return shanks to pot, cover and place in the oven to braise for about 2 hours, or until the meat falls off the bone.  Check periodically to make sure the shanks are submerged in the liquid.  
Remove shanks onto a dish and cover with foil and keep warm while you reduce the sauce. 
I cooked some rigatoni to al dente and then finished it with some sauce from the veal shanks. 
Good stuff.  

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Whidbey Island Crab Haul Crab Cakes

Over the course of our Whidbey Island stay this past week, we managed to haul in about 24  dungeness crabs.  Pretty fine.  After divi'ing some out, eating a bunch, I was still left with enough to make a good batch of crab cakes.  We discovered chicken bones worked really well as bait.  I had deboned 4 chickens one night and our friend had the great idea of using the bones in the crab pots.  That along with the dog fish Stella pulled out of the water with her bare hand while standing on beach, made for good crabbing.

3 lbs dungeness crab meat
2 Tbsp butter
3 oz pancetta, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
5 scallions, finely minced
3 ears of corn, cut off the cobb
2 eggs beaten
3 Tbsp heavy cream
1 cup panko

Melt butter in large pan, add garlic and pancetta and fry until pancetta is crispy.  Add in the scallions and corn and saute until the corn is soft.  Let cool.  Mix together with crab, eggs, cream and panko.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Form into cakes.  Refrigerate until ready to cook.  I baked these at 375 for about 15-20 minutes, just until they are heated through and slightly crispy on the outside.  Since there was little to hold the crab together, the cakes fell apart easily, but worth the trade off for the large portion of crab in each cake.  We liked the addition of the corn.  It gave a nice sweetness to the crab cakes.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Smoked Salmon

The other salmon that was caught over the weekend were Pinks, good eaten right away, or smoked.  A little drive by pickup was made this morning.  Our friends brined the salmon last night, I picked it up this morning, cold air dried it, and smoked it.  The deal was struck with a small commission to be paid to the smokehouse.

This recipe can be doubled, tripled, etc. for the amount of salmon you have:
3 Cups water
2 Tbsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp brown sugar
3 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp peppercorns - smashed
1 tsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp vodka (this is the only thing I would not double or triple, maybe just add 1 more tbsp)
Cut salmon into small pieces to your liking.  Brine salmon for at least one day or even two.  What we smoked today was just shy of a day.  I like to use zip lock bags as less brine is needed and squeezing out the air aids in getting the brine into the meat.  Drain and dry on paper towels.  Lay pieces skin side down on a rack set over a baking sheet.  Air dry using a fan blowing over the salmon for about 2 hours.
We smoked the salmon using charcoal and applewood at 140-160f for 2 hours.  Half way through the smoking, I brushed honey on top of the salmon.  Let cool completely and wrap tightly.  The salmon should keep for up to one week in the refrigerator, or frozen for several months.  I used my FoodSaver vacuum sealer to store the salmon.  
Sweet goodness!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Miso Glazed King Salmon and Potato Pancakes

Did a little salmon fishing this past weekend and came up empty on keepers.  Out of the five I reeled in, all had to be returned due to protection laws.  Luckily, my friend caught a 16 pound Chinook and was very kind to share a piece with us.  Fishing is probably 2nd or 3rd on my list of favorite hobbies, after cooking.  What draws me to it is the peace of it, the excitement, the skill involved, sometimes the dumb luck of it all, and the wonder of what is living under the water that we cannot see, but can still catch with the proper lure. 

3 Tbsp light miso
1 Tbsp light soy sauce
2 Tbsp sake
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
Combine all ingredients and marinate salmon filet for about 4 hours.  Grill salmon to medium rare.

For the potato pancakes:
1 lb Yukon gold potatoes
1/2 sweet onion
2 Scallions, finely sliced
1 Egg, beaten
Salt and pepper to taste

Peel and grate the potatoes.  Rinse quickly under cold water, drain and squeeze out excess liquid.  This will keep the potatoes from browning.  Grate the onion and squeeze excess liquid out using a paper towel.  Mix potatoes, onion, scallion, egg and salt and pepper together.  Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add enough vegetable oil coat the bottom of the skillet, about 1/8".  Take a couple tablespoons of potato mixture and flatten with your hands and gently place in the skillet.  Don't crowd the pan.  Adjust temp as needed to cook the inside and crisp the outside...somewhere between medium and medium high heat.  Drain on paper towels and keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.
There's nothing like freshly caught salmon and home grown potatoes.  Yum!

Oh, and a few pics for the chicken update.  Now 10 weeks old, and doing well.  They love scratching around in the garden.  Pacino is slowly getting better with being around them.  They are roosting at night, each night earlier than the next.  Romaine lettuce and fresh corn are favorites, but dried meal worms take the cake.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Kobe Tri-Tip with Mushroom Sauce and Homegrown Peas and Mashed Potatoes

I had these lovely pieces of Kobe tri-tip steaks which I had thought about marinating and then grilling, but never got around to it.  I got a sudden burst of energy right before dinner and decided to make this little sauce with some old mushrooms I had in the fridge.  Once I had cut into them, they didn't look that great to just saute and eat, so I went the sauce route.
Because of the excellent marbling in the beef, Chris grills it a little longer to allow the fat to melt into the meat.  

For the Mushroom Sauce:
1/2 lb button mushrooms, sliced 
1 large shallot, finely minced
4 sage leaves, finely chopped
1 tbsp garlic rosemary mustard
1 tbsp brandy
1 cup cool beef stock

Saute shallots in 2 tbsp butter until softened, add mushrooms and continue to saute until softened.  Add in mustard, brandy and sage leaves to let simmer for a minute or so.  Place everything in a blender and add the cold beef stock and puree until liquified.  Return sauce to a small sauce pan and lightly boil for a few more minutes.  Using the mushrooms saves you from having to use cream to thicken or give it more body.  

I harvested the rest of my shelling peas today.  As I shelled the peas I thought of the gentleman that had tried to talk Chris into starting up a mushy pea business in the States.  He might have been a few pints in at the time, the gentleman, not Chris, though Chris may have been as well.  This was back when my sister was living in the UK and we were visiting.  Their neighborhood pub, The Rising Sun, would serve fish and chips on Friday nights.  That piece of fish was the best fish and chips I had ever seen.  It was one whole filet of cod, fried up so that it curled up on each end.  They served their fish and chips with mushy peas.  I didn't have the fish and chips that night, having already eaten, and the next time we were back, they had stopped serving it.  It is one of my eating regrets in life.  Perhaps it is better in my mind than it would have ever been had I actually eaten it.  I kind of hope so lest I missed such a wonderful thing.

For my peas, I simply blanched them for 2 minutes, and shocked them in cold water, then rewarmed them with a little salt and butter.  Absolutely delish!

I also harvested some of my potatoes today.  With the Pontiac Reds, I simply peeled, boiled and mashed them adding again butter and heavy cream.  What could go wrong?  Nothing!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Seared Ahi on Brioche

Sushi night tonight and along with the usual fare, I wanted to try something new.  I had found some small brioche buns, and so thought a seared tuna slider might be the ticket.  Is it me, or is everything a slider these days?  Going with the flow here...

I coated a small piece of Ahi tuna with Katsuo Fumi Furikake rice seasoning and seared it over medium high heat leaving the center raw.  Slice into thick slices.
Saute some sliced oyster mushrooms with grapeseed oil, salt and pepper.
Make a sauce of mayonnaise, lemon juice, sriracha, light soy, finely chopped scallions, and sesame oil.  

Assemble the slider with the ahi, then a few mushroom slices, some radish shoots and a drizzle of the sauce.  Yum!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Another Round of Crab Ravioli

I brought home three pounds of shelled Dungeness crab, used some last night for crab fried rice, gave a bit to our neighbor, and with the rest, I could not resist another round of ravioli.  I tried a slightly different recipe this go around, one that has some of the ingredients I like to use in a crab cakes.  

3 Scallions, finely chopped
2 Garlic cloves, finely minced
2 Tbsp butter
Melt butter over low heat.  Add scallions and saute until softened, then add garlic and saute until softened.  Let cool.

In a large bowl, mix together:
2 lbs freshly shelled Dungeness Crab
1/2 Cup freshly grated Parmagiano Reggiano
1/3 Cup finely grated Gruyere Cheese
1 Heaping Cup Petite Peas
2 Tbsp Calvados
3 Tbsp Heavy Cream
Freshly grated black pepper
Good pinch of grated white pepper
Add scallion and garlic mixture.  Set in refrigerator until ready to use.

For the ravioli shell:
4 Cups "00" flour
4 Chicken Eggs
3 Duck Eggs
(I used the egg combo because that is all that I had in my fridge)
Since I was making such a large batch of pasta, I decided to use the standing mixer with a  dough hook, set at #2 speed until just combined and forms a dough.  I then split it into 4 balls and kneaded until smooth.  Using the pasta roller attachment, I rolled the pasta to the #4 setting.  I found the easiest way is to place a little dollop of filling on one side of the pasta, fold it over, and use a pastry cutter to cut the ravioli into squares.  This made about  84 ravioli.
Boil the ravioli for 2 minutes.  Brown some butter and crisp in it some fresh sage leaves.  Serve with freshly grated parmagiano and black pepper.  

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Crab Haul Linguini

After two days of nada in our crab pots, we broke down and stopped off at the roadside fresh seafood merchant on Whidbey Island.  We bought a single crab for $20 and returned to check on our crabs.  Still, only one single small crab, and a female to boot.  We threw the crab back, put in a piece of old smoked salmon and left the pots overnight.  As I lay in bed, I thought to myself, surely the crab gods will smile on us now that we have bought a crab and rightfully returned a female to sea.  This morning we cruised out to our pots to find lightning had struck and given to us 7 dungeness crabs, all keepers.  Score!  This may not seem like anything special given what we've been hearing from folks on the prolific crab season they've been having, but this is not true of our particular bay.  So, there were high fives and celebratory hugs all around.  
I spent a good two hours cooking and shelling the crab... a labor of love.  I will bring the bulk of it back home to Seattle tomorrow for something else, but tonight, just a simple crab linguini.

Saute one garlic clove in a 2 tbsp melted butter until softened.  Add one cup of heavy cream, a pinch of sugar, a shot of vodka and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a thickness so that the sauce will coat the back of a spoon.  Using a microplane, zest a lemon into the sauce.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Cook Linguini according to package instructions.  Ladle on a bit of sauce and top with fresh crab.  

Monday, August 1, 2011

Grilled Leg of Lamb with Tomato Basil Vinaigrette, Roasted Garden Potatoes and Peas

I realize I've completely fallen off the meatless Monday gig.  My planning is just not reliable enough to accomplish this.  Instead, I've been trying to do just a meatless day once a week.  And if I'm confessing, that has not been a success every week either.  The guilt of it all.  But it is a goal of mine every week.  Shouldn't be that hard to accomplish right?  I continue to try to make it a truth.  In the meantime, I had bought this lovely leg of lamb and had to use it or freeze it.  You know what happens to stuff in my land of the lost freezer... so use it I did.

2 lb Boneless Leg of Lamb
About 2 tsp each finely minced thyme, rosemary and sage
2 Garlic cloves, grated on a microplane
1 tsp lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp kosher salt
Freshly grated black pepper
Marinade lamb in above ingredients for a few hours.  Chris grilled it on the gas grill at medium for about 15-20 minutes.  Perfect.

Tomato and Basil Vinaigrette
1 Tomato, seeded and chopped
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp sugar
Good handful of fresh basil leaves
Mix red wine vinegar, olive oil, sugar and tomato together.  To serve slice leg of lamb, lay basil leaves on top of lamb, pour vinaigrette over top.

I dug up a few yukon gold potatoes and picked some shelling peas from the garden this morning.  I par-boiled the potatoes and roasted them adding the peas just a couple of minutes before the potatoes were finished.  We loved the fresh and clean taste of it all.  The sweetness of the honey and sugar and the acidity of the lemon and vinegar and the basil and tomato, oh  so fabulous.