Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Braised Pork Shank with Campanelle and Asparagus

Over the weekend, on a whim, I purchased some pork shanks from Olsen Farms at a farmers market.  I had no plans for them, but after a little discussion, it was decided to go with a standard braising, much like that which I've done with veal shanks.  I initially wanted to do a red braise, or soy braise on them a la Chinese braised spare ribs.  But, Chris persuaded me otherwise.   Oddly, I don't remember having ever made pork shanks.  Can that be?  My mom would make red braised pork hocks, but those always had the rind on.  These shanks have the rind removed and look a lot like veal shanks.  Can't wait for my braised meat dinner.

3 to 3 1/2 pounds pork shanks
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 small carrots, chopped
4-5 small celery stalks, chopped
1 small onion, choped
several sprigs fresh thyme
several fresh sage leaves
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 1/2 cups red wine
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup beef broth
1 cup apple cider
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper the pork.
Heat the olive in over medium high in a medium sized heavy pot.
Brown the pork on all sides.  Remove and set aside.
Add the vegetables and sauté until lightly browned, about 5-7 minutes.
Deglaze the pot with the red wine. Let boil for a few minutes.
Add the broths and apple cider.  Bring to a boil.
Add the thyme, sage and rosemary.
Return the pork shanks to the pot.
Turn heat down to low, cover and simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until pork is fall off the bone tender.  You should flip the shanks a few times during the period of time.
When the pork is tender, carefully remove them and put into a pan. The pieces may fall away from the bone, but that's okay as you'll be splitting them up to serve anyway.  Cover with tin foil while you prepare the sauce.
Strain all of the solids from the cooking sauce using a fine sieve.  Press on the solids to extract all of their flavor.  Degrease the sauce using either a fat separator or by carefully spooning it off the surface of the sauce.
Return the sauce to the pot.  Bring to a rolling boil for 5-10 minutes, until the sauce is thickened and reduced to about 2 cups.
Add the balsamic vinegar, add salt and pepper to taste.
Add the pork shanks back to the pot.  Simmer to heat through.

For the campanelle, I drizzled it with extra virgin olive oil and finished with freshly grated parmigiano reggiano.  The asparagus was roasted under the broiler with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Pork goodness.

Farmer Cheese and Prosciutto Hand Pies and Bonus Fruit Pies Too

For my third installment on handheld pies, I'm going to go with something savory.  I'm imagining sweet, creamy, cheesy goodness baked in a flaky pie crust.  Thanks to my helpers Maddy & Stella, we were able to crank these out in good time.

This makes about 14-17 pie crusts. For the pastry: 1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
3-5 tablespoons ice water

Cut the butter into small cubes and place in the freezer while you assemble the dry ingredients.
In a food processor pulse together the flour, sugar and salt.
Then spread the butter cubes around the flour and pulse until small pea sized balls form.
Then add the ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing between additions.  Use just enough water so that the dough is moist enough to clump together.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface and gather it up to form a ball.  Press and gently knead together.  Do not overwork.
Use a large sheet of plastic wrap to wrap the dough and press it into a round disc.
Refrigerate for at least two hours or up to 3 days.

For the filling:
1 1/2 cups farmer cheese (or substitute with ricotta)
1/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
3 eggs
1/2 cup half and half
3 tablespoons honey
Pinch of kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
freshly ground pepper
3 thin slices of prosciutto, torn into small pieces
In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, blend together everything but the prosciutto.  Once the mixture is smooth, add the prosciutto and stir to combine.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use, or up to one day.

To make the pies:
Have two regular sized muffin pans ready along with 4-5" round or fluted cutters.  The round cutters I had were not quite large enough, so I used my fluted individual tart pans.
Take the dough out of the refrigerator, unwrap and place onto a well floured work surface.
Roll the dough out until it is about 1/8" thick.  
Using the rounds, cut the dough into as many circles as will fit.
Place the rounds into the muffin tin and gently press them into the molds.  If the dough tears, pinch it back together.  You can press the edge of the dough slightly onto the edge around the top of each mold.  When finished with one tin, place it into the refrigerator while you finish with the other.
With the dough scraps cut from rounds, knead together to form another ball and roll it out again to 1/8".  Cut additional rounds.  
Scoop about 3-4 tablespoons of filling into each mold.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before baking.
Heat oven to 375f.  Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until the filling is golden brown and puffed, but still slightly jiggly.  
Once cool enough to handle, pop them out of the muff tins and set onto a rack to cool.
These will keep up to two days at room temp.
I came up with 17 pie crusts but only enough filling for 12.  So, for the remaining 5, I made a mixed berry fruit filling with a granola crumble topping.

The cheese pies were creamy, soft and cheesy.  Right up my savory alley.  
I think the kids enjoyed the fruit pies more though.  Maybe Chris, me and Pacino as well.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Chocolate Molten Jar Cake

I lost track of my easy and fool proof chocolate molten cake recipe, so let's see how this one turns out.  This is not a very sweet dessert, which makes it appealing to me.  It is also something you can make ahead and refrigerate and bake later.  Bonus.  

4 oz 70% cacao bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 oz 62% cacao semi sweet chocolate, chopped
11 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1/3 cup fine sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 tablespoons flour

Combine the two chocolates and toss to mix up.  Alternatively, you can use just bittersweet chocolate which is what I would have done if I were making this for adults only.  But I thought the kids may like a slightly sweeter dessert.  I used Scharffen Berger chocolate which you can purchase in already chopped form in prepackaged bags.  

Place 5 1/2 ounces of the chocolate and the butter in the top pan of a double broiler.  Or use a heat proof bowl set on top of a pot of water.  Melt them together over simmering water.  Remove from heat and set aside.
In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, yolks and sugar on high until the mixture is paled and thick and fluffy.  Turn the mixer down to low and add the flour, salt and vanilla. 
Add the chocolate mixture and continue beating on medium speed until it is glossy.

Divide half of the batter between six small approximately 6 oz jars or ramekins if you don't have jars.  
Divide the remaining chocolate and sprinkle it into each jar.  Top with the remaining batter.

At this point you can either bake them right away....
350f for about 12-14 minutes, until the cakes are just set around the edges, but still jiggly in the center.  Don't overcook, or the cakes will not be molten, but instead dry.

Or you can refrigerate them for up to two days and bring them to room temperature before baking.  As it turned out, I undercooked mine slightly.  I did 12 minutes, and I'd say 14 would have been better.  Still fabulously decadent and we couldn't help but add a dollop of vanilla ice cream on top.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Rigatoni with Shiitake Mushrooms, Ramps and Chicken Sausage

One short time a year, ramps make an appearance in a few markets in Seattle.  Ramps are like small wild leeks with a flavor similar to, well, a leek or garlic but more earthy.  I love them.  When spring comes around, I start looking for them and if I'm lucky, I get my hands on some.  I found some at Uwajimaya earlier this week and also saw some at Whole Foods this morning.  They do seem difficult to get and are not plentiful in our neck of the U.S.  Perhaps this makes them all the more desirable to me.  Tonight I'm pairing them with shiitake mushrooms and sausage to make a hearty and creamy rigatoni.

This made 5-6 servings

5 oz Ramps
8 oz Shiitake mushrooms
1 lb Basil garlic chicken sausage (or substitute Italian chicken sausage)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup dry vermouth
3/4 cup, approx. of shiitake mushroom stock
1 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
freshly grated parmigiano reggiano

Soak the ramps in cold water to loosen the dirt.  Then gently rinse and clean them.  Dry the ramps with paper towels and slice them on a diagonal, separating the white stems from the leaves.  Set aside.
Pull the stems from the shiitake mushrooms.  Slice the caps into thick pieces.  
Place the stems in a small sauce pan and cover with 1 cup of water.  Simmer, covered for about 15 minutes to make a mushroom stock.  Turn the heat off and let them continue to steep until cool.  Strain the stems, pressing on them to squeeze out all of the liquid.  Discard the stems and reserve the liquid.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat.  Brown the sausage, breaking it up into small bite-sized pieces.  
Once sausage is browned, add the shiitake mushrooms and ramp stems and sauté until just softened.
Add the ramp leaves and continue to sauté until just wilted.
Add the vermouth and let simmer for about 15 seconds.
Add the mushroom stock and continue to simmer for a couple of minutes.
Finally, add the cream and simmer until the liquid is slightly thickened.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cook the rigatoni according to package instructions.  I used Lagana's fresh rigatoni.  
When rigatoni is finished, thoroughly drain the liquid and add to the sauce.
Simmer together with sauce for a minute.
Creamy yet fresh.  Delish!

Peanut Butter Jar Pie

I treated myself, and my family, to a mother's day new cookbook:  Handheld Pies.  It caught my eye because I am a lover of the crust in a pie more than its filling.  With the small handheld and jar pies, the crust to filling ratio appears to be in favor of the crust.  This is very appealing to me.  Plus they're cute and handy to eat because of their contained sized.  I'm going to be trying out several versions of these pies over the next few days.  Stella chose peanut butter pie to start.

A few measurements have been slightly altered from the original recipe.  
This makes 6 pies.

Chocolate Crumb Crust
1 1/2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs (this is about 20 chocolate wafter cookies)
6 tablespoons butter, melted
Stir together until well combined.
Divide the crust mixture evenly into 6 jars.  Press the mixture into the bottom and slightly up the sides.  Bake in the oven at 350f for 10 minutes.  Let cool completely before filling.
Peanut Butter Filling
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
8 oz cream cheese at room temp
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup fine sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, chopped, plus more for garnish
Using either a standing mixer or a handheld mixer, whip the cream until soft peaks form.  I used a hand mixer for this and the rest of the recipe.  Set the cream aside.
In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar and vanilla extract.  Beat on medium-high until the mixture is smooth and creamy.  
Use a rubber spatula to fold in the peanuts.  
Fold in about a third of the whipped cream and then gently fold in the remaining whipped cream until no white streaks from the cream remain.
Divide the filling into the jars.  Smooth the tops.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days.
To serve, sprinkle with some chopped peanuts and perhaps a small scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.  Wow, that's a rich pie!  Hurt me!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Broiled Hamachi Collar with Chili Sauce

Yes, we're still in love with hamachi collar.  It has become a staple in my repertoire for whenever we have a sushi or Japanese meal night.  Tonight is going to be a bit of a mish mash of dishes all with seafood as the main ingredient.  But this may be our favorite.

2 Hamachi collars 
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground chili in garlic oil

Heat a small frying pan over medium heat.  When hot, add the chili sauce and sugar.  Saute for a minute then add the soy, mirin and vinegar.  Bring to a simmer for a couple of minutes.  Cover and let cool.  Marinate the hamachi collars in the sauce for several hours.
Remove from the marinade.   Place the collars on a baking pan.  Put half of the marinade in a small bowl and half in a small sauce pan.  Add a little drizzle of oil to each.
Broil the collars for about 3 minutes per side, broiling the skin side first and then flipping over to the flesh side and brushing it with the reserved sauce in the bowl.
Meanwhile, simmer the sauce that's in the pan for a minute.
To serve, brush the collars again with the sauce from the pan.
So good!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Fried Chicken Baked in Gravy

I love talking about food and hearing about others' food experiences.  My friend Sam emails me when I post something new and we often exchange a few emails discussing various related topics to whatever I've posted.  The other day, when discussing rice, Sam shared a fried chicken dish his grandmother used to make and serve with rice.  We're calling it Estelle's Chicken.  Estelle, by the way, is a most fabulous name, and I can picture her frying that chicken with Sam looking on.  Sam's from the South and he said the last time he had that chicken was when he was eight.  That must have been some kinda chicken!  After his description of it, I immediately replied that I'm all in.  

1 Whole chicken, cut into 10 pieces, backbone removed
2 Cups buttermilk
2 Tablespoons kosher salt
Flour for dredging chicken
Approx. 1.5 cups organic vegetable shortening
1 Stick unsalted butter
3 Tablespoons flour
2 Cups chicken stock

Combine the buttermilk and kosher salt.  Add the chicken and soak overnight.
Remove the chicken from the buttermilk and dredge each piece in the flour.  Set into a pan.
Heat oven to 375f.
Heat the shortening until melted, then add the butter.  Once the butter is melted, and bubbling, start frying the chicken in batches.  I did mine in 3 batches under medium high heat.  The goal is to par cook the chicken and fry it until it is golden brown, but does not have to be cooked through.
As you finish each batch, place the chicken onto a baking pan.
Once all of the chicken is fried, remove all but 2 tablespoons of the cooking oil.  
Add the 3 tablespoons of flour and cook for about a minute until the flour is browned.
Add the chicken stock and stir to incorporate the flour mixture.  Let boil for about a minute.
Since the skillet I used was not large enough to fit all of the chicken, I added only half of it back into the skillet.  The rest I left in the baking pan to finish cooking in the oven.  If you have a skillet large enough, add all of the chicken in with the gravy. 
Place the skillet and the baking pan into the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes.
Serve the chicken with the gravy and rice on the side.
It was very "southern fried" chicken tasting.  We loved it.  Thanks Sam, for sharing.  When you're back in Seattle, we'll take a little fried chicken detour.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Rice with Peas and Roast Duck

Rice is, of course, a staple in every Chinese family's home.  Growing up, in my parent's restaurant,  we kept two large 34 gallon cans of rice, one with short grain and one with long grain.  We mixed the two together to make a blend good for serving plain with your meal or cooked again for fried rice.  The cans would never stand empty as that would be a sign of misfortune.  My mom always said never let your rice run out, and even now, I always make sure it is the one item I am never without.  If you have rice in the house, you know you will not go hungry.  When nothing else comes to mind, I can always depend on rice to stand in.  
I'm trying something new tonight and using a new little pot I bought sometime ago, but have not yet used.

This is kind of a semi home made dish being that the roast duck is from a Chinese barbecue shop.  I purchased half a duck and by the time all of the fat and bones are removed, you really only get about 1.5 cups of shredded duck.  For added flavor to the rice, I went ahead and used the small  containers of the duck cooking sauce and the plum sauce there were included with the duck.
2 cups medium grain rice, rinsed and drained
3 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 tablespoons sake
Approx. 1 1/2 cup shredded Chinese roast duck meat
Soy & plum sauces included with roast duck
1/2 cup fresh english peas

Blanche the peas in boiling water for 1-2 minutes depending on their size.  Cook until they are just tender.  Do not overcook.  Shock in cold water.  Drain and set aside.
In a medium sauce pan or cast iron pot combine the rice, chicken stock, sake, duck and sauces.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Turn heat down to low, cover and simmer until rice is cooked, about 10-12 minutes.  Turn heat off and let rice sit for another 10 minutes without removing the lid.  
Stir in peas and serve.  This is one I'll keep in the books.  Loved it.

Wok Fried Calamari with Celery and Garlic Butter

Calamari is a favorite in our family.  Most often, when I mention having calamari, the girls get excited because they think of deep fried breaded calamari, which is their most favored.  I grew up eating wok fried calamari and probably never had the deep fried version until I became an adult.  Truth be told, I love the deep fried version just as much.  I have cleaned more than my fair share of squid over the years, but these days you can buy them frozen, cleaned and even sliced.  When given the choice, I prefer to buy fresh squid and clean it myself.  As unpleasant as it may be, I think the fresh, caught in the wild squid is best.  

This is a simple recipe meant to serve as one dish of an entire meal containing several small dishes.  I came across it as part of an Izakaya menu.
1 pound small squid (calamari)
Several tender celery stalks, including the leaves equalling 2 cups sliced (use the heart of the celery bunch)
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 tablespoons garlic butter
salt and pepper
lemon wedges

If you are using uncleaned squid, pull out the tentacles and separate them from the body.  This will pull out the innards of the squid.  Rinse out the body and peel off the outer skin.  The skin is like a soft film.  Once you tear it, it's pretty easy to peel it off.  For the tentacles, it's easies to use a pair of kitchen shears and cut everything off from the eyes down.  This will take off the beak and all of the innards that were pulled out.  Discard all of this.
Rinse the bodies and tentacles under cold water.  Pat dry.
Slice the bodies into bit sized rings, about 1/2" to 1" wide.  If needed, cut the tentacles in half into bite sized pieces.  
Slice on the bias the celery stalks and leaves into 1/4" to 1/2" thick pieces.  Separate the stalks from the leaves.
In a large wok or frying pan, heat the oil over high heat for about 1 minute.  Add the squid and salt and pepper and saute for 1 minute.
Add the celery stalks and when they are just barely softened, add the leaves.  
Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Serve the calamari with lemon wedges and top with the garlic butter.  
Melt the butter with a kitchen torch.

For the Garlic Butter:
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temp

Finely chop the garlic.  Sprinkle the salt over top and smear the garlic into a paste with the side of a knife on the cutting board.
Mix the garlic into the softened butter.
Cover and refrigerate until firm.

Maybe not one of the girls' favorite, but I loved the charred taste the torching of the butter imparted and the celery paired well with the calamari.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Grilled Chicken with Penang Curry Sauce

With this dish, I wanted the best of both worlds...chicken from the grill and a flavor packed sauce to go with it.   Hot days like we had today are just calling out for the grill.  Instead of marinating the chicken, a quick and easy sauce just changes it up a bit and makes the dish a little more interesting.  The chicken is simple.. salt and pepper and grill.  I used chicken drumsticks and cut two slits on opposite sides of the drumstick to aid in faster cooking.  

For the sauce:
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 cup coconut milk
1 Shallot, peeled , cut in half and smashed
1 - 2" piece of galangal, sliced into thick pieces
2 stalks of lemon grass, cut into 3" pieces and smashed (peel off the outer hard pieces)
5 lime leaves
1 tablespoon Penang curry paste
1 tablespoon grape seed oil
In a small saucepan, saute the Penang curry in the grape seed oil until fragrant.
Add the chicken stock, coconut milk and remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil.
Lightly boil, uncovered, for about 10 minutes.
I was worried the sauce would be too spicy for the girls, but there were no complaints.  It's a keeper.