Archive | November, 2011

Thanksgiving & The Greatest Sandwich that ever was

28 Nov

In junior high, my class went on a ski trip to Bolton Valley.  Dana C. and I were in the commissary at the Black Bear Inn, and she ordered a cinnamon bun the size of her face.  When she finished, she stood up and shook her hands in victory, as an imaginary crowd cheered on.  It was with such joy and sense of accomplishment, that I ate the most magical sandwich. Just as we come together with friends and family on Thanksgiving, so too do the fruits of many days labor, join in celebration– between two slices of seven grain bread.  To elucidate the layers: a delicate schmear of brie- adding just a touch of creaminess, a spoon of sweet/tart cranberry sauce, a slice of fresh roasted turkey breast, a heap of cornbread sausage stuffing— and back again- turkey, stuffing, cranberry, brie, toast- piled high.

The Turkey:
Call me crazy, but as Corcoran said I am probably the only person in America to buy and roast a turkey breast, the day after thanksgiving.  But as it was- I had all the fixings, but none of the meat in my leftovers, so I did what had to be done.
A turkey breast, about 2 1/2 pounds, boneless
2 tablespoons of butter
1 spring rosemary, chopped
Perhaps 6 small leaves of sage, chopped

Melted butter for about 20 seconds in microwave to just soften. Mix in herbs.  Take turkey, rinse and set in roasting pan.  A little trick I once learned, if you don’t have a roasting rack, you can take a big piece of tinfoil and roll it into a big S shape, creating a platform for your meat to sit on, allowing space for the drippings to fall down. Slathered the turkey in the herb butter, then sprinkled very generously with kosher salt & pepper.  Baked for an hour and half, basting with chicken stock about every thirty minutes.  I cooked until juices ran clear and internal temperature reached 150. According to FDA regulations or some such, they say to cook until 165, but in that class I learned about the S foil rack, I learned that anything over 145 for chicken is fine– and that if you actually go to 165 your bird will completely dry out. So do what you feel comfortable with, but I go 150.

The Cranberry Sauce: See Mom’s Cranberry Chutney recipe

The Stuffing:
I decided to go cornbread stuffing this year and used a recipe by Anne Burrell.
extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, small diced
3 ribs celery, small diced
kosher salt
1 pound spicy sausage, removed from casing, broken into bite-size pieces
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
10 leaves of sage, finely chopped
3 sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped
3/4 walnuts, coarsely chopped (optional- i left out)
10 cups stale cornbread, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups dried cranberries (I only used 1 cup- didn’t want it to overpower- as some aren’t crazy about dried fruit in savory dishes)
3 or 4 cups of chicken stock

Preheat to 350.  Coat a large saute pan w. olive oil.  Add onion and celery and saute over medium heat.  Season w. salt and cook until vegetables are soft and very aromatic.  Add sausage and cook until sausage begin to brown. Stir in the garlic and saute for another 1 to 2 minutes. Add the walnuts, sage and rosemary and cook for another minute and then remove from heat.
In large bowl, mix together cornbread, cranberries, and sausage mixture. Add some stock and knead w. your hands until the bread is very moist, actually wet. Taste for seasoning and season w. salt, if needed and transfer to ovenproof dish.
Bake stuffing until hot all the way through and is crusty on top, about 30 to 35 minutes.

The Cornbread:
As a base for the stuffing, I wanted to make my own cornbread- and used a recipe from Silver Palate.  To ensure 10 cups, I made two batches of the recipe below.
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup stone-ground cornmeal (coarse)
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup diced crisped-cooked bacon (optional- I left out b/c i thought w. sausage in the stuffing, this might be overkill)
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat to 400, grease a 9×9 inch pan. Stir dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Then stir in buttermilk, bacon, butter ad egg, mix gently. Pour into pan, set in middle rack. Bake for 25 minutes. Cornbread is done when edges are lightly browned and knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cooled for a few minutes, then flipped onto cooling rack to finish cooling.
If want to make muffins: spoon into 10 greased muffins and bake for 20 minutes.
In order to get stale for stuffing, I cut into 1 inch cubes, and left spread out on baking sheet for 2 nights.  Then toasted for a few minutes in oven to further dry out.

The Bread: Bread Alone 7 grain bread

The Brie: From the co-op. $1.76 for a wedge, I’m just saying.

Sweet Potatoes:
These did not make it to the sandwich as there were no leftovers. After much deliberation, I decided to go the classic marshmallow topped route, with a recipe from Barbara Haynes. You can do totally prep this all the night before, then just heat the day off in oven- add marshmallows and toast.
5 sweet potatoes, of varying sizes, but when roasted and mashed, this produced 5 cups
The recipe is written as for every cup of sweet potatoes allow the following– so I multiplied each of the following time 5… except for the orange juice times 4, because I didn’t want it too overpowering
1 1/4 tablespoon butter (multiplied by 5)
1 tablespoon of brown sugar (multiplied by 5)
3 tablespoons of orange juice (multiplied by 4)
1/2 teaspoon of orange zest (multiplied by 5)
1/2 teaspoon of salt (multiplied by 5)
mini marshmallows, half a bag

Preheat oven 375. Prick the potatoes with a fork.  Place directly on rack in over- no baking sheet. Cooking 1 hour (few minutes more or less depending on size of potatoes) until they are soft.  Wait a few minutes until cool enough to handle.  Skins peel off quite easily.  Mash with fork (or potato masher if you have, I don’t.)  While hot, mix in all other ingredients.  Put in baking dish.  If re-heating cook for about 30 minutes to heat through. If potatoes already hot might take less time. Add a layer of marshmallows, and turn oven to broil for a minute- until toasted. Watch closely they will burn!


Scallops with Passion Fruit

23 Nov

Many years ago, I went to Nougatine with my parents and had lobster with passion tagliatelle.  Man it was delicious. The other day I bought a passion fruit– and waited for weeks as it ripened- apparently they are ripe when they get old and wrinkly looking.  With that Nougatine dish in mind, I set out to apply the passion fruit to the much less labor intensive scallops. This whole dish took about 5 minutes to make. No joke. You could serve with some braised greens or asparagus maybe- but I as I was lazy, I thought I’d put it against the peppery bite of some fresh arugula- just tossed with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh lemon juice

Passion Fruit vinaigrette– The great thing about the internet (ha!) is that if you have something like passion fruit scallops in mind- somewhere you can find it.  This was adapted from a blog- I had never had seen before- called the Taste of Beirut.
Olive oil- yikes I am a terrible blogger because I don’t remember how much I used- and she didn’t specify but I believe it was 1/8 of a cup- so let’s go with that.
1 passion fruit
Salt, pepper, and sugar

I really like her phrasing in the directions— so I am going to post them verbatim:
Grab a serrated knife and cut the passion fruits in two. Scoop out the flesh (including the seeds) into a bowl. Using your taste as a guide, add some sugar, salt, pepper and olive oil and whip to emulsify.
I would say i started out w. a sizable pinch of each spice- and kept adding on from there. If you are sure what she is talking about when she says whip to emulsify is– you basically whisk together your passion fruit and spices, and slowly add the oil- continuously whisking as you do so- that way the oil incorporates with the other ingredients.

I decided to take my scallop cooking advice from Alton Brown- they often talk on various food network shows about getting “a good sear” on your scallops- so I thought this technical chef would have some good advice.

1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
scallops (I was only making three. The original recipe is for 1 to 1 1/4 pounds of scallops- approx 16– and doubles amounts above to 2 tsp each- so adjust accordingly)
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper

Alton’s first step is to remove the small side muscle from the scallops- and I will admit, I am not sure what this means– I think maybe I bought them with it removed? Anyone? But continuing on…  rinse with cold water and thoroughly pat dry.

Add the butter and oil to a saute pan- you want to use something like stainless steel- i would not go non-stick because then you won’t get a good sear. Salt and pepper the scallops. Once the fat begins to smoke, gently add the scallops, making sure they are not touching each other. Sear the scallops for 1 1/2 minutes on each side. The scallops should have a 1/4-inch golden crust on each side while still being translucent in the center. Serve immediately.

So I put them on top of my dressed arugula. Drizzled w. the passion fruit vinaigrette. Yum. Fancy looking and easy.


Best Baked Salmon

While we are on the subject of fish–I only recently started to like salmon. So I decide to try my favorite tofu marinade on a piece of salmon. I was making one small fillet, so I halved the recipe on that post and added a teaspoon of dijon mustard and a teaspoon of olive oil.  Let the fish sit in the marinade for about 15 mins before cooking.  I baked at 425, for about 10-12 mins (the thicker the fillet, the more time it takes). Mine was perfect at 11 mins.



Chicken Donburi w. Braised Napa Cabbage

14 Nov

Japanese two posts in a row!  Donburi is a rice bowl dish,  and while ground chicken is not something I ever make- this Harumi recipe intrigued me.  It is seriously tasty– and very quick and easy to make.  It is topped with sweetened shiitake mushrooms and a (just a little bit) runny egg.  I decided to braise some napa cabbage on the side, as Jess gave me her CSA stash, and I had to put it to good use.

Ground chicken came as one pound package- so I doubled the recipe below:
1 cup (1/2 pound) ground chicken [if you can’t find ground chicken, you make your own by putting boneless chicken into a food processor]
1 1/2 tablespoon mirin
3 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon superfine sugar [to make superfine sugar, I put regular sugar in a coffee grinder for few pulses.  If you don’t have, just regular sugar would work fine]

6 dried shitake mushrooms (or other kind of mushroom), soaked in 1/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoon mirin
1 teaspoon superfine sugar

1 egg
cooked rice
a few snap peas- to garnish [I left out]

Put minced chicken, soy sauce, mirin, and sugar and in a pan and simmer [over medium heat], until nearly all the liquid is evaporated. [This took me about 12 minutes.]

Sweetened Mushrooms:
Soak mushrooms in warm water until soft, then lightly squeeze out, removing excess water, reserve excess water.  If any mushrooms are big, slice.  Put all ingredients in small skillet, including the 1/4 mushroom water. Bring up to a lively simmer.  Cook until most of the liquid is evaporated [this took about 5 minutes.]  They get sort of caramalized.

Make rice.
Make egg, by boiling for 8 minutes in boiling water.  Place in cold water to cool. Peel and quarter.

Braised Cabbage- this recipe comes from from Karoline Boehm Goodnick (ah, the internet)
3 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 small head napa cabbage, cut off bottom end, slice in half lengthwise, remove core, cut into rough 2 inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, cut into matchsticks [do this peeling, then slicing into rounds. then stack and slice across stack of rounds to get matchsticks]
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

The key to this- is to cook the cabbage in a searing hot skillet- high heat is essential – to caramelize the leaves. Saute in two batches so overcrowding doesn’t steam the vegetables.
In a large skillet or wok, heat 1 teaspoon of the vegetable oil . When it is very hot, add half the cabbage. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes or until leaves begin to brown. Remove them from pan. Use 1 teaspoon of the remaining vegetable oil to cook the remaining cabbage in the same way; remove from the pan.
Add the remaining 1 teaspoon vegetable oil to pan. Cook the garlic and ginger, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
In a small bowl, stir together the water and cornstarch. Stir the soy sauce into the pan. Add the cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil.
Return all the cabbage to pan, stirring well to coat it all over. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until the cabbage is tender.
Remove from the heat. Stir in the scallions and vinegar.

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