Thursday, June 28, 2012

Pickled Peppers

I will be making Kalbi burgers again in a couple of days, and so I decided to make my own pickled peppers to grill for the burgers. The pickling juice recipe below was enough for about 1 pound of sweet mini peppers and a little extra for which I decided to use for some thai chilies, about 2 cups, I already had in my refrigerator.  

2 cups almost boiling water
1 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
8 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Mix all together

Rinse and dry the peppers.  Using a small knife, make a small lengthwise cut on opposite sides of each pepper.  Place them into a glass jar and pour the pickling juice over top.  Let sit on the counter for several hours and then refrigerate them.  These should keep for several weeks in the refrigerator.  Since I did not remove the skin from them, they will remain a bit firm and will not absorb as much of the pickling juice.  But they should work out well for grilling and used as a condiment for the burgers.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Happy Birthday Chris - Ice Cream Pie

Another birthday, another ice cream pie.  As requested by the birthday boy, shortbread cookie crumb crust, salted caramel ice cream and a little chef's surprise in the middle.  Sometimes recipes are so simple, they aren't really even recipes and it almost seems silly to share.  But it is summer and, well, you can't go wrong with ice cream pie, so just the idea is worth sharing.  This is a Maggie creation...

For the crust:

8 oz Walkers Shortbread cookies
4 tbsp butter, melted
1 tbsp fine sugar
Break the cookies into smaller pieces and grind them up in a food processor.  Use a little of the melted butter and brush a thin coat onto the pie pan.  Combine the shortbread with the remaining butter and sugar.  Press into the bottom of the pie pan.  Use a sheet of plastic wrap and place it over the crumb crust and press with your fingers and palm of your hand.
Bake for 7-8 minutes in a  375f oven.
Allow to cool before filling.
Place 2 pints of your choice of ice cream in the refrigerator for about 2 hours to soften.  Maggie used Haagen Dazs Salted Caramel Truffle Limited Edition.  Once crust is cooled and ice cream is softened, use a spatula to fill the pie.  
Our chef's surprise is a chocolate-chocolate cookie crumb filling in the middle.  I happened to bake these cookies yesterday and so it was decided to break a few of them up and put them in between the ice cream.  
So, fill the pie with one pint of the ice cream, sprinkle the cookie crumbs on top, then spread the next layer of ice cream.  
Finish with an additional sprinkle of shortbread crumbs and a drizzle of Fran's Caramel Sauce.  Crunchy, sweet, creamy and just the right amount of saltiness.  Can't go wrong with ice cream pie.  

Seared Ahi Tuna with Shiitake Mushroom Cream Sauce

Would it be any surprise that Chris' birthday dinner request would involve heavy cream?  This is an old favorite, one from the early years.  Thank goodness Chris remembered it so we can put it back into the rotation.  

2  - 12 oz Fresh Ahi tuna steaks
Fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper
1 scallion, thinly sliced on an angle
2 cups thinly sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Lightly salt and pepper the tuna.  Heat a heavy cast iron skillet to smoking hot.  Add just a small drizzle of grape seed oil.  Sear the tuna, about 45 seconds per side.  Slice the tuna into thick slices.  
Heat a small amount of grape seed oil in a medium fry pan over medium high heat.  Add the scallions and sauté until softened. Then add the shiitake mushroom and continue to sauté until they are just soft.  Then add the soy and mirin and toss to combine.  Cook for one minute and add the cream.  Once it comes to a boil, turn heat down to simmer the sauce for a few minutes.  

I served the tuna with sautéed spinach with crispy shallots and crispy rice cakes with crab filling.  Happy Birthday Chris!  

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Kalbi Burger with Crispy Shallots, Mushrooms, Grape Tomatoes and Sweet Peppers

I had a fabulous kalbi burger recently, and Stella was just asking when I might make some for dinner.  With Father's Day around the corner and summertime backyard barbecue season  in play, I thought a quick post would be in order.  The burger is the easy part, the dressings, depending on your choices, are more work.  I went with Maui onion sweet bread rolls for the bun, crispy shallots, sautéed mushrooms, grilled grape tomatoes, grilled sweet cherry peppers and Beecher's Flagship Cheddar.

For the burger (making 6 big burgers)
2 1/2 pounds American Kobe Style ground beef
2/3 cup kalbi marinade
A couple things on these ingredients...  I go to Uwajimaya, here in Seattle for the Kobe Style beef.  It, of course, is not true Kobe beef, but it is more fatty and well marbled like Kobe beef is. 
I debated on making my own kalbi marinade from scratch, but then went for a jarred brand.  As it turns out, it was delicious and easy.  
Several hours ahead, mix together the ground beef and kalbi marinade.  Let rest in the refrigerator.  When ready to cook, form the beef into patties.  I find the looser you pack the burger, the more tender it is and the less it shrinks. Think more air, less hockey puck.
Grill the burgers over high heat to your desired temperature.  Be watchful of flame ups as there is a good fat content in the burger.  Reduce the heat once you put the cheese on to melt.

For the bun, I bought the Maui onion sweet bread rolls, also from Uwajimaya, but an equally good alternative would be a brioche bun.  Heat the bun up in the oven at 325f for 5-7 minutes.
For the crispy shallots:
6-8 Shallots, peeled and thinly sliced in rounds
2 cups canola oil

Heat oil to 220f in a medium cast iron pot.  Add shallots and fry for about 20-25 minutes until they are golden brown.  Turn heat up or down to maintain 220-250f temperature in the oil.  Drain on paper towels and let cool.  Store in an air tight container for up to several days.

For the mushrooms, I sautéed thinly sliced white button mushrooms in olive oil until softened.  The sweet cherry peppers were Mezetta brand.  The peppers and grape tomatoes were grilled alongside the burgers. 

That was one outstanding burger!  For an even bigger blast, brush a little of the kalbi marinade on top of the burger while grilling.  Burger love. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Short Rib Rice Bowl

A second day of "what should I do with".... and today it's left over short ribs.  A hearty rice bowl was a good idea and a good opportunity to put to use some other items already in my refrigerator.  The short ribs remain the star, but the other ingredients elevate it to it's new level of tastiness.

8 braised short ribs, deboned
1/3 lb shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
8 oz bean sprouts
1 bunch chrysanthemum greens, trimmed and washed
pickled cucumbers, carrots, daikon
cooked white rice
farm/backyard fresh eggs

Saute the shiitake mushrooms with a little light soy sauce, mirin and freshly ground pepper.
Saute the bean sprouts with a little light soy sauce and freshly ground pepper.
Saute the chrysanthemum greens in a little oil and salt.
Fry eggs sunny side up.
Assemble the bowl with a scoop of rice on the bottom, and a little bit of each ingredient plus an egg on top.  Drizzle any sauce or juices from the short ribs or sautéed vegetables.  Serve with a little ssam sauce or sriracha on the side.  
An excellent second use meal.  Bonus!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Salmon Cakes

We had some grilled salmon with beurre blanc the other night, and as it turns out, not so shocking for us, we had quite a bit of leftovers.  What to do?  Salmon cakes, of course.

1 1/2 lbs cooked Copper River Sockeye Salmon, flaked into large pieces
1 1/2 cups panko
2 eggs, beaten
3 tbsp butter

5 scallions, thinly sliced

1 tsp grated ginger
1 tbsp light soy
1 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp sugar
ground white pepper to taste. 

Melt the butter in a small sauté pan over medium-low heat.  Add the scallions and sauté until they are softened and translucent.  Then add the ginger, soy, miring, sugar and ground white pepper.  Cook for another minute, remove from heat and let cool.

Meanwhile, combine salmon, panko and eggs.  Once the scallion mixture is cool, add it to the salmon.  
Form the salmon into small round cakes, cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.  Cakes can be made several hours ahead.
To cook the crab cakes, heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add a little olive oil, fry the salmon cakes until they are lightly browned on both sides.  
I served the salmon cakes with the left over beurre blanc sauce from the other night and sautéed pea vine tips.
One good salmon cake.

Clam Chowder

What do you do with a five pound bag of Manila clams from Costco?  I had visions of grilling them bathed with garlic butter.  This did not happen.  Instead, after two days in my refrigerator, I was getting a little nervous.  So, now we have a large vat of clam chowder.  I like my chowder thick with clams and thin on the potato.  I prefer a thinner soup rather than a super thick one.  This is my version laced with smoky bacon and rich clammy broth.
5 lbs Manila clams
4 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
3/4 cup dry white wine

12 oz bacon, chopped
5 celery stalks, chopped
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
4 medium red potatoes, diced into small 1/4" pieces
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tbsp fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cream sherry
8 cups clam juice / broth, plus reserved broth from cooking clams, about 10 cups total
1 cup half and half
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper or to taste

Heat a large pot over medium heat.  Add the 4 tbsp butter to melt, and then the garlic.  Saute until just fragrant.  Add the clams and then the wine.  Cover the pot and cook the clams until they just pop open.  Remove from heat, uncover and let cool. 
When cool enough to handle, remove clam meat into a bowl, discard shells and reserve the cooking broth for the chowder.  Throw out any un-opened clams.  This yielded about 2 cups of clams.
Brown bacon in a large heavy stock pot.  Then add the celery, onion, garlic and potatoes and sauté until celery and onion are softened and translucent, about 5-7 minutes.  Then add the thyme and sage and sauté for another minute or so.  
Stir flour in and cook for another couple of minutes.
Deglaze with sherry, and then add the clam broth.  Stir to mix the flour roux and vegetables in well.  
Cover and bring to a boil.  
Add the half and half and the pepper and let boil, uncovered for another 5 minutes.  
When ready to serve, add the clams and cook just long enough to reheat them.  
Add salt if needed, though mine did not.  With the salt from the bacon and the broth from the cooked clams, there was enough salt.  
Creamy, clam goodness.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Braised Short Ribs

What started out as a grey day, turned into a somewhat warm and sunny afternoon, no doubt primarily because of the day of eating we planned.  Had we planned a big grill day, it surely would have rained.  We hit  Shabu Chic for lunch, had cheese and wine in the late afternoon and decided on braised short ribs for dinner, followed by Maggie's double chocolate cake with butter cream frosting for dessert.  Roll me into bed and cross another fantastic day off the calendar.

For the braised short ribs:
4 1/2 to 5 pounds short ribs
3 carrots, roughly chopped
4 celery ribs, roughly chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs sage leaves
1/2 cup cognac
1 bottle dry red wine
4 cups beef broth
salt and pepper to taste

Trim the short ribs of excess fat.  Salt and pepper them and brown in batches in a large dutch oven, removing the browned ribs to a dish or platter.  
Once all of the short ribs are browned, add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic and sauté until they are slightly browned.  Then add the rosemary, thyme and sage and toss to incorporate.  Deglaze with the cognac and let boil until almost fully evaporated, then add the wine and bring to a boil.  Add the beef broth and return to boil, then return the short ribs to the sauce.
Cover and simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until the short ribs are tender.
Remove the short ribs.  The bones may have come off the rib meat, but either way, remove the bones and trim off the sinewy portion that held the meat to the bones and discard that long with the bones.  Cover the rib meat with foil to keep from drying.
Continue to boil the sauce for another 15 minutes, and then strain the sauce removing the solids.  
Return the sauce to a light boil and reduce, uncovered, for about 10-15 minutes.  Return the short ribs to the sauce, turn the heat to low, and cover and simmer for another 10-15 minutes.  

I served the short ribs with mushroom and pea vine risotto.  Delish!