Thursday, March 29, 2012

Wok Fried Crab with Egg

I bought a live crab with plans to wok fry it and then got lazy.  Too much work I did not feel like doing.  Work to cook it, work to eat it and not a favorite of the family because of the messiness of eating crab in its shell with a sauce coating it.  Growing up, my family would sometimes have a midnight snack once we got home after our restaurant closed for the night.  We would eat at our restaurant before cleaning and shutting it all down and then by the time we got home, it was hours later and we were hungry again.  Sometimes we would just have a crab, a bowl of rice and maybe some other little pickled vegetables and things.  It felt like such a treat to get to stay up that late until I had to wake up the next day.  So, it feels very much in my nature to dig every last bit of meat from the crab and enjoy the process and time it takes to do so.  Nothing goes to waste.

Sometimes, it's easier to put in the work up front and de-shell the crab for all.  Though it seems like more work, it somehow actually feels easier.  I sit leisurely at my kitchen counter, watch the chickens on my web cam waiting for another egg to be laid, and de-shell the crab.  
You could go heavier on the egg here, but I am using it just to barely coat the crab.  
Crab meat from 1 - 2lb crab, about 1 3/4 to 2 cups
2 Eggs beaten with 1 tbsp water
2 Scallions, finely sliced
Combine into a sauce:
1 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp mirin
2 tsp sugar

Place about 1 tbsp of oil in the wok over medium heat.  Add the scallions and fry until they are softened.  Then turn the heat up to medium high and gently toss the crab in, spreading it evenly over the wok.  Fry for about 30 seconds without disturbing and then pour the egg over top.  
Once the egg begins to solidify a bit, pour the sauce evenly over the egg and crab.  Then gently turn the mixture over.  You don't need to keep it whole, but just be gentle as you don't want to break up the crab meat too much.  I like to keep it in larger lump pieces.  Cook until the egg is just cooked through.  Serve immediately.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Grilled Octopus with Potatoes, Celery and Lemon

Whenever I see octopus on a menu, I am drawn to order it.  Here's another dish I had at Osteria Mozza.  The octopus was wonderfully tender, but not at all mushy and retained its delicate flavor.  Now that I have the cookbook, I had to try my hand at making my first octopus.
Start a day ahead or early in the day you want to serve this dish.
Poach the octopus:
8 cups plus 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 2-pound frozen octopus, thawed and rinsed and well dried
10 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 wine cork

Heat oven to 300F.
The original recipe calls for using the same braising pot to sear the octopus as you would to poach it.  However, I found that the braising pot is too small to properly sear the octopus, so I used a large skillet to sear.  Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in at the large skillet over medium high heat until it's close to smoking.  Sear all sides of the octopus  until it is burgundy and browned in places, about 8-10 minutes.   
In a braising pot just large enough to hold the octopus, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil and sauté the garlic over medium-high heat until it is golden brown.  Turn heat off, remove the garlic and place the octopus into the pot along with the red pepper flakes, wine cork and enough oil to cover the octopus.  I cut the head off to make the octopus flatter so that I would not need to use as much oil.  Put the lid on the pot and place into the oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the octopus is very tender.  It should puncture and tear easily with a fork.
Remove the pot from the oven and let the octopus cook to room temperature in the oil.  Remove the octopus from the oil and place it on a baking sheet.  Cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for at least several hours.
You can strain and save the oil in the refrigerator for up to a week and use it to cook another octopus.  
Lay the octopus out on a cutting board.  Cut it in half through the body, keeping the tentacles in tact.  Cut each tentacle at its base to remove it from the head.  Cut the head into quarters or 6ths, cut the tentacles into 2-inch segments, leaving the ends of each long for a dramatic presentation on the plate.   Place all of the pieces into a large bowl.
Make the marinade:
1 Cup whole Italian parsley leaves
1/2 Cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 Cup Garlic cloves
1 tsp red pepper flakes
Combine everything in a food processor or a blender and puree.  Toss the marinade with the octopus.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to grill it, or for up to 3 days.

For the Salad: 
1/4 Pound fingerling potatoes
1 tsp kosher salt
1 Medium leek, washed and cut into 1/4" rounds, white and light green parts only
2 Scallions, thinly sliced on the extreme bias
3 Celery ribs from the heart of the celery, cut not he extreme bias
1/4 Cup whole fresh pale green celery leaves, from the heart of the celery
freshly ground black pepper
3/4 Cup plus 2 Tbsp Lemon Vinaigrette from this post
1 Lemon, halved
1/2 Cup, 3 inch long chive pieces

Steam the potatoes for about 15-20 minutes, until tender.  When cool enough to handle, peel the potatoes and cut into 1/2" thick rounds.  Place into a bowl and set aside.
Bring a pot of water with 1 Tbsp of salt to boil.  Place leeks into a strainer and blanch them for 1 minute.  Dunk the leeks into a bowl of ice water to cool them.  Place them onto paper towels to dry.  
To make the salad, season the potatoes with 1/2 tsp of salt and toss together to evenly distribute.  Add the leek, scallions, celery, celery leaves.  Drizzle 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp of the vinaigrette, and toss to coat.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  
Pile the salad in the center of 4 plates, dividing equally and reserving any vinaigrette left at the bottom of the bowl.

For the Octopus:
Heat your gas or charcoal grill on high.  Grill the octopus pieces until they are charred on all sides, about 3 minutes total.  Remove the pieces as they are done and place them into the bowl with the reserved vinaigrette.  Drizzle with additional vinaigrette to coat the octopus.  Adjust seasoning with additional salt if needed.
To finish, stack the octopus pieces on top of the salads.  Squeeze a few drops of lemon over top and finish with a few chive pieces over top.
Due to a scheduling conflict the day I poached the octopus, I think I overcooked it.  So sad.  But we really liked the flavors and the salad.  Just a little less time on the octopus and it would have been fabulous.  The Mozza recipe referred to Mario Batali's Babbo restaurant octopus.  I happen to have that cookbook and that recipe calls for poaching the octopus in its own liquid.  I will try this route next.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Grilled Beef Tagliata, Rucola and Parmigiano-Reggiano

With the Mozza cookbook now in hand, thanks to a friend, I can work and share through it to my heart's content.  Lured by a beautiful photo, Stella said, this looked pretty good.  So here we are.  The recipe calls for hangar steaks, but none to be found this morning, I went with New York strip and cut the recipe in half.
1/2 Cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 Cup whole fresh rosemary needles
4 Whole garlic cloves
1/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 to 2 lbs of New York Strip or Hangar Steak
Combine the balsamic vinegar, rosemary and garlic in a food processor fitted with a metal blade or a blender and pulse until the rosemary is finely chopped.  Add the oil and pulse until well combined.
In a large zip lock bag, add the steak and the marinade together.  Close and refrigerate for at least one hour or up to overnight.  Remove steaks from the marinade and bring to room temperature before grilling.  Discard marinade.
Prepare a hot fire in a  gas or charcoal grill.  Generously salt and pepper the steaks.  Grill steaks until they are well seared and deep brown, about 5-6 minutes per side for medium rare. Remove steaks to a platter or cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.  Slice into 1/2 inch thick slices.

While the steaks are resting, prepare the arugula.
8 Cups loosely packed arugula
Wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano
Lemon Vinaigrette to taste (see below)
Maldon sea salt or another flaky salt such as fleur de sel, I used fleur de sel
Aged balsamico condimento
Finishing quality extra virgin olive oil
Using a mandolin or large knife cut the Parmigiano-Reggiano into very thin slices. I find a large vegetable peeler works as well.  Make sure the cheese is at room temp.
Put the arugula in a large, wide bowl and sprinkle with salt and toss gently to distribute evenly. Drizzle the vinaigrette and toss gently to coat the arugula.  Taste for seasoning and add more salt or vinaigrette if desired.

To serve, transfer 1/4 of the steak slices to each of four dinner plates.  Drizzle the steaks with any juices that have collected on the cutting board.
Lay a few slices of Parmigiano-Reggiano next to each serving of steak.  Build the arugula salad in two layers swing the largest slices of Parmigiano for the top.  Pile a handful of arugula on top of each layer of cheese finishing with a top layer of the cheese.
Sprinkle steaks with a pinch of fleur de del and drizzle with 1 teaspoon of balsamico condimento and the finishing quality olive oil.
Simple, tasty, a definite keeper.

Lemon Vinaigrette
1/4 Cup minced shallots
1/4 Cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp champagne vinegar
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/2 Cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
Combine shallots, lemon juice, vinegar and salt in a small bowl.  Set aside for 5-10 minutes to marinate the shallots.  Add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream whisking constantly.  Stir in the pepper.  Taste for seasoning and add more salt or pepper if needed.  Use immediately, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  Bring back to room temp and whisk to recombine before serving.

Southwestern Pulled Brisket by Chris

Mary was out of town and a co-worker of mine had been telling me about a brisket recipe that I just had to try.  So here is a rare non-Mary entry into the Mary Buffet.

This recipe came from the Smitten Kitchen blog (link below). I followed it exactly except took the advice of my co-workers wife and added an additional quarter cup of brown sugar and then reducing the resulting sauce substantially after the brisket was done.

Southwestern Pulled Brisket

3 pounds beef brisket
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 Spanish onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, with their juices
1 to 2 whole canned chipotle chiles en adobo [Read: 1 or 2 from a can, not one or two cans, m'kay? Many misread this amount!] (I used one pepper; two will give it a real kick)
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup molasses

For serving:
If sandwiches, soft sandwich buns. If tacos, small soft tortillas. For both, I suggest some slaw, pickled onions and/or pickled jalapeños.

Season the beef with salt and pepper, to taste. Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and heat just until beginning to smoke. Add the meat and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer the meat to the slow cooker; leave the skillet on the heat.

I did not use a slow cooker for this recipe, I used a cast iron dutch oven in our electric oven at 200 degrees for 9 hours.  After Mary got home she informed me that we do in fact have a slow cooker so I will try it in there next time and see which way is better.
Add garlic, onion, chili powder, coriander, and cumin to drippings in the skillet and stir until fragrant, about one minute. Add vinegar and boil until it’s almost gone (and seriously, get your head out of the way of the steam; inhaling vinegar is no fun!), scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Stir in water and pour the mixture over the brisket. Crush the tomatoes through your fingers into the slow cooker; add the tomato juices, chipotles, bay leaves, and molasses. Cover the cooker, set it on LOW, and cook the brisket until it pulls apart easily with a fork, about 8 to 10 hours. (The original recipe suggests 8 hours, but my mother-in-law, who makes wonderful brisket, says she cooks hers for 10. So I went with 10 and it was lovely, but feel free to check in on yours at 8 hours to determine if it needs more tenderizing.)
I strained the sauce (to remove the cooked-until-dead vegetables and bay leaves), then simmered it down (to about 2/3 the volume) to thicken it a bit. I served the brisket whole in a dish and pured the sauce back over it.
The sauce definitely makes this dish it has a really good twang.  Mary worked her magic on the leftovers the next night serving it over rice after she doctored it with some additional peppers and cheese sauce.  Me being greedy I stretched the brisket fest into lunch the next day as well.  Thank you Mr. large cow.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Boston Pork Butt with Milk

This recipe couldn't be simpler, but the result should be a tender pork roast rich with flavor.  Check out Pork and Sons Cookbook for this and a bounty of other porky creations to fulfill anyones pork desires.
I made a couple of adjustments that the recipe in the book did not do.  I salted and peppered the pork and adjusted the cooking method a bit.
1 Boston pork butt, about 3 1/2 pounds
8 Cups whole milk
3 Garlic cloves
1 Fresh thyme sprig
1 Fresh rosemary sprig
2 Bay leaves

Heat oven to 350F.  Salt and pepper and the pork, then put it into a large casserole or dutch oven, pour in the milk, add the remaining ingredients.  Cover and bring to a boil on the stove top.  The recipe calls for cooking the pork in the oven, covered for 2 hours, or until the milk was mostly evaporated.  I didn't see how the milk would evaporate this way.  So, I decided to cover it for the first 45 minutes, and then cook it uncovered for another 1 1/2 hours.  However, at the end of that, there was still plenty of milk left and the pork was by no means fall off the bone tender.   At this point, it was time for dinner and the natives were getting restless.  So, I took the pot out of the oven and decided to cook it on the stove, boiling rapidly, until the milk reduced, about 35 minutes.   Then, discard the herbs and serve the pork with the milk sauce from the bottom of the pot.  Unfortunately, the rapid boiling of the milk caused it to curdle.  The pork was delicious, but the curdled sauce was not visually appetizing.  It was however, tasty nonetheless.  
Next time, I think the route to take is bringing the pork butt and milk to a boil on the stove top, then moving it to the oven and baking it uncovered in the oven for maybe 3 to 4 hours?  Definitely worth another shot.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Prosciutto and Truffle Butter Breadsticks

I meant to add this to last night's post, but here it is, a quickie but a goodie.  Also from Mozza, we had this surprise on our charcuterie plate.  One breadstick, a smear of softened truffle butter, and a thin slice of prosciutto (I used di Parma).  I was not expecting that luscious butter!   For the truffle butter, I combined Kerigold Irish butter, softened, with a drizzle of white truffle oil and a sprinkle of truffle salt.  Divine!  I think the only thing that could make it better is a cantaloupe sorbet we once had at our friends' house.  Gotta get these two together.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Ricotta and Egg Raviolo with Browned Butter

I recently had a most wonderful dinner at Mozza in Los Angeles.  Among the many oh so delicious dishes we ordered was this favorite one of the evening, the Ricotta and Egg Raviolo with Browned Butter. Simple ingredients were brought together achieving perfection.

1 Cup whole milk ricotta
1 egg yolks (you'll also need one egg yolk for each large raviolo)
1 tsp white truffle oil
1/4 tsp salt
freshly grated black pepper
pinch of meyer lemon zest
Fresh pasta sheets (enough to make 8 - 4" diameter ravioli)
Freshly grated parmagiano reggiano

Combine ricotta, egg yolks, truffle oil, salt and pepper and mix well.
Cut pasta sheets into approximately four inch diameter rounds.  
Place a large round of ricotta onto a pasta round.  Make a small well, large enough to hold an egg yolk. 
Break open an egg, separate egg white from yolk and save the white for another use.  Place the yolk into the middle of the ricotta.  
Place another pasta round over top pressing to make sure all edges are firmly secured so the filling does not leak out while cooking.  You may want to use water or an egg wash to brush the edges before sealing the ravioli if you find the pasta to be a little dry and difficult to seal.
Place ravioli in a single layer on a clean kitchen towel.  They can be refrigerated for several hours, if needed, before cooking.
Fill a large skillet or pan with water. Add a little salt and oil to the water.  Bring to a boil and gently add the ravioli one at a time adjusting temperature to just keep the water simmering, but not at a rolling boil.  Cook the ravioli in batches if needed in order not to over crowd the pan.  Cook for about 3 minutes, being careful not to overcook the egg yolk.

Brown the butter by slowly melting it and eventually cooking it until brown over medium heat.
To serve, ladle a spoonful or two of browned butter around each raviolo.  Grate a mound of fresh parmagiano on top.  
They were delicious, but did not match up to Mozza's.  Next time, I would try to add more filling and try to seal the ravioli with a narrower edge.  The egg could have been cooked for maybe 30 seconds more.  Next time I may try to roll the pasta out one setting thinner.  I only went to the #4 setting on the roller, afraid that the yolk may break should the pasta be too thin.  
It's such a beautiful and tasty dish, I will definitely be trying it over and over again.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Clay Pot Chicken with Chinese Sausage and Mushrooms

There are two things Chris keeps asking for which I can't seem to work into the dinner cycle.  Pot roast and clay cooker chicken.  Does anyone have a good pot roast recipe?  I've attached a stigma towards it, but I'm sure there's an excellent recipe out there, I just haven't searched it out.  Now, clay cooker chicken was something I used to make when we were first married.  I had and still do have a Schlemmertopf clay cooker.  It does make a good fool proof, tender and juicy chicken.  Come to think of it, why am I not using that any more?  I need to pull it out of the depths of the basement and put it to some good use.  But for tonight, I have already gone the Chinese route and so my chicken will go into my clay hot pot instead.  It's nearly the same vessel.

1 Whole Chicken cut into 10 pieces, cutting the breast in half as well
2 Tbsp rice wine
2 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp light soy sauce
3" Piece of ginger, thickly sliced
4 Garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
4 Scallions, cut into 4" sections
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp szechuan peppercorns

Put everything together, except the chicken, into a large zip lock bag and mix well.  Then add the chicken and massage the ingredients into the chicken.  Refrigerate overnight.

5-6 Dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked until soft, liquid reserved
3-4 oz Fresh oyster mushrooms
2 Links of Chinese Sausage, sliced diagonally into 1/3" pieces

Fill the clay pot with water and soak for 1-2 hours before using.
Remove chicken from the refrigerator about 45 minutes before cooking to allow to come to room temp.   
Heat oven to 400f.  Pour the water out of the pot and place chicken along with the marinating ingredients in tot he pot.  Scatter the shiitake mushrooms and Chinese sausages around the chicken and pour 1/2 cup of the reserved liquid into the pot.  Cover and bake for 45 minutes.
Then add the oyster mushrooms, cover and continue to bake for another 15-20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.  
Serve with a bowl of rice and sautéed greens, baby spinach in my case.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Bacon Cheese Muffins

For a post volleyball match snack for the team, these are fast and easy to make and oh so delicious.  Do you see a pattern here?  Basically, bacon and cheese in any format is a winner.

2 Cups flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic salt
3 tsp baking powder
1 Cup Beechers Flagship or other cheddar cheese plus more for sprinkling on top
1/4 Cup crispy bacon bits
1/4 Cup Skillet bacon jam
1 Cup milk
1/4 Cup vegetable oil
1 Egg

Beat together the milk, oil and egg.  Combine flour, sugar, salts, baking powder and mix well.  Add the flour mixture to milk mixture along with remaining ingredients and stir together to combine well.  Spray 3 mini muffin pans with Pam.  Fill 2/3 full and sprinkle each with a  pinch of cheese.  Bake at 400f for about 13-15 minutes.  So good!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Truffle Spaghetti Carbonara, Pan Seared Chicken Thigh and Celery Root, Endive and Muscat Grape Salad

A not so pleasant morning here in Seattle and dropping off the kids at school in the wind and rain, they requested pasta for dinner.  I haven't made carbonara in a while or fresh pasta for that matter.  As I started my dough, I decided to add a little truffle salt and truffle oil.

2 Cups '00' flour
4 Eggs
3/4 tsp truffle salt
1 tsp truffle oil
On a large work surface, make a well with the flour.  Crack eggs into the middle, add truffle salt and oil.  Beat eggs, incorporating the flour as you go to eventually gather into solid ball of dough.  Scrape off any dried bits of flour that did not collect into the dough from the work surface.  Knead dough until it is smooth and has a nice sheen to it.  Separate into smaller balls, cutting it with a pastry scraper or knife.  I had a total of 18 I think, but mine were small.  You could go with a little larger, say 12 total.  

I used a pasta roller attachment for my kitchen aid standing mixer and rolled the dough to #5 thickness.  For the first setting, roll the ball out, fold the dough back onto itself, roll again, and repeat, so that you roll it on the first setting 3 times.  Roll out all of the balls first, then move onto the second setting.  Repeat until your desired thickness.
Let the sheets rest to dry a bit before cutting, otherwise it will stick together when you cut it.  It should still be pliable but not sticky. I used a spaghetti cutter attachment.
I used half for tonight and saved the other half for a later meal.

For the carbonara:
4 oz Pancetta, diced
2 small or 1 large egg, I used 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup grated parmesan 

Cook pancetta until crispy.  Reserve fat from the pancetta.
Beat the egg(s)
Cook pasta for about 90 seconds to 2 minutes.  Drain.
Place the drained pasta into a large bowl, add the egg and fat from the pancetta.  Toss then cover for a couple of minutes.  Then add in the pancetta and parmesan and toss to combine.
I served the pasta with a pan seared chicken thigh I had pounded flat and salt and peppered before cooking.  Fry the thighs skin side down first to render the fat and then flip over to brown the other side.  Remove excess oil from pan.  Deglaze pan with a little (a few tbsp) dry vermouth and then some (about 1/2 cup) chicken stock to make a quick sauce.  Add any juices that gather from the  chicken while it's resting.
For the Celery Root, Endive, Muscat Grape Salad:
1 Cup julienned celery root
1 Cup endive, sliced crosswise
1/4 Cup muscat grapes, halved
1/8 Cup crumbled blue cheese like Maytag Blue
2 Tbsp toasted pine nuts (I would have preferred hazelnuts, but none in my house)

3 Tbsp walnut oil
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp honey
freshly ground pepper

First toss the celery root with a little drizzle of the dressing.  Refrigerate for an hour or so.  Then toss remaining ingredients and dress as desired.
Pounding the chicken made for faster and even cooking.  Carbonara was a hit.  Truffle flavor was slight, but there.  The kids must have been starving as rave reviews were flying right and left.  

Friday, March 2, 2012

Braised Veal Shank with Pine Nut Gremolata and Roasted Mushrooms

Just when I was starting to think about spring, getting my planter boxes ready, looking forward to putting away the heavy sweaters, and dreaming about the sun on my face, it feels like winter again.  So, out comes the cast iron dutch oven and time to braise a big piece of meat.  It's my Pavlovian response to cold weather.  Must braise meat.

3 Crosscut Veal Shanks, about 2" thick
2 Carrots, diced
2 Celery ribs, diced
1 Small onion, finely chopped
1/4 Cup dry vermouth
1 1/4 Cups dry white wine
1 1/2 Cups chicken stock
2 Cups beef stock

Salt and pepper the veal shanks and coat with flour, shaking off any excess.  Brown all sides of the shanks in a large dutch oven with a few tablespoons of canola oil, adding more if needed.  Remove the shank and all but 1 tbsp of oil.  Then brown the carrots, celery and onion.  Deglaze with the vermouth and wine, then add the stocks and bring to a boil.  Return the shanks to the pot.  Cover and simmer over low heat for 1 1/2 to 2 hours depending on the size of the shanks.  Check on them from time to time and turn or rotate them gently.
When they are close to fall off the bone tender, remove them to a dish and cover with foil so they don't dry out.  Keep the veal in a warm spot while you finish the sauce.  Strain the cooking liquid pressing on the solids to capture all of the juices.   Return the liquid back to the pot and discard the vegetables.  Bring the sauce to a boil and reduce until slightly thickened.  Adjust seasoning, salt and pepper to taste.
For the Pine Nut Gremolata:
1/2 Cup finely chopped Italian parsley
1/4 Cup pine nuts, toasted
Zest of 1 lemon
Mix all together
For the Roasted Mushrooms:
I used a mixture of Crimini and Velvet Piopini
Cut the Crimini mushrooms in half or thick slices if they are larger, or leave them uncut if they're smaller.  Toss both mushrooms with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast under the broiler for about 5 minutes, turning turning over half way through.
The sauce was a hit.  I loved the gremolata.   Bone marrow in the veal shank was divine.  Leftovers saved for a pasta meal to come.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Spaghetti di Nero with Butter Poached Sea Scallop and Thai Red Curry

Gosh, when I'm not cooking new foods or blogging, a lot more time gets freed up during my day.  It's nice.  I was channel surfing last night and came across the season finale of Top Chef Texas.  One of the dishes was a squid ink pasta with prawn crudo.  It looked to die for.  So today, I was on the hunt for squid ink pasta.  I've only eaten it out in restaurants, so I'm not sure if the dried packaged version will be as rich and flavorful.  But it sure is a lot easier than finding squid ink and making my own.  Maybe someday I will make it happen.  I did find myself feeling a little more energized having a cooking project today.  I felt more focused and less lost in the worries of the day.

For the spaghetti, I purchased a package of Rustichella d'Abruzzo Spaghetti di Nero, Squid Ink.  Cook the pasta according to package directions, in this case about 8 minutes in salted water.  Do this right before you are ready to serve.  
Then, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over low heat, add 2 garlic cloves, finely minced.  Slowly cook the garlic until it is translucent. Drain the pasta and toss it in the olive oil with a pinch of kosher salt.

For the Butter Poached Sea Scallop:
In Thomas Keller's French Laundry cookbook, he talks about the many uses of Beurre Monte, his workhorse sauce.  He says that they use it to poach lobster, baste meats, rest cooked meats, and make sauces.  I mean a perfectly cooked steak passing through a butter bath before serving?  Sounds like love.
Beurre monte is made with just a little bit of water, about 1 tablespoon, brought to a boil and then over low heat, chunks of unsalted butter are whisked in, bit by bit to emulsify.  With just the one tablespoon of water, you can add a few tablespoons or pounds of butter.  When you normally heat butter, it separates into the butter fat and the milk solids.  Using just the bit of water and then adding the butter will keep it from separating.  
I made mine with 8 oz of butter.  Keep the heat low and consistent to maintain the emulsification.  
To poach the scallops, bring them out of the refrigerator and dry them well.  Let them come to room temp before poaching.  Set them in a single layer in a pan and add the beurre monte.  Set the pan over low heat and poach the scallops until just warmed through... almost rare on the inside, and just cooked on the outside, about 5 minutes.  Make sure the heat is low enough that the butter does not boil.
With the left over beurre monte after poaching the scallops, I made it into clarified butter and into the fridge it went for another use.

For the Thai Red Curry Sauce:

5.6 oz can of unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 tsp Thai red curry paste
4 fresh kaffir lime leaves
2/3 tsp fish sauce

Combine the coconut milk and kaffir lime leaves and bring to a simmer for a couple of minutes. Then add the curry paste and fish sauce.  If you find the sauce is too thick, add a bit of water.

Serve the pasta with the scallop on top, drizzle just a bit of the red curry sauce, finish with some toasted shaved coconut and daikon radish sprouts.  I was a bit disappointed with the pasta itself.  It had good texture and color, but was lacking in the flavor of the squid ink.  I will have to pursue some squid ink to make my own fresh pasta.  The scallop was, well, buttery.  Silky and tender.  Butter bath for all!