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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sausage Potato Balls

What is it about about making mashed potatoes that there is always left overs?  I'm convinced if we all donated our left over potatoes, we could feed small countries. This post is a little late to help you out with your left over Thanksgiving potatoes, but wait a few weeks, you'll probably have more. 

In this recipe, I'm giving you the base ingredients without definitive amounts. Be creative with this, adding in left over herbs and cheeses for extra flavor.  Use a trial and error method of adding in just little amounts at a time until it feels and tastes correct.  Don't be afraid, meat and potatoes are very forgiving. 

Tips and tricks:  Mashed sweet potatoes would work great in this recipe. Substitute turkey for the sausage if you have left over turkey. You can bake or fry these, I opted for the baking method for a slightly healthier option. Freeze any extras, then when you need to round out dinner or fill out a to soup it will only take minutes to defrost. 

Sausage Potato Balls

Cook sausage, set aside
Place left over mashed potatoes (roughly 2-4 cups) in a large bowl.  (If you have left over boiled, roasted or grilled potatoes- just mash them with a fork)  It's easiest to work with them when they are warm. so warm slightly in the microwave.

Sautee until soft

diced onion (about 1/2 cup)

Add and continue to sautee for one minute:
minced garlic cloves (about 2-4 cloves)

Add onions and garlic to potato bowl, along with:
Shredded cheese (I used cheddar, roughly 1/2 - 1 cup)
a few spoons of cream cheese
fresh chopped chives (couple of tablespoons)
a little melted butter (Couple of tablespoons)
salt and pepper to taste
warm cream or milk or broth (about 1/2 cup)
seasoned bread crumbs (about 1 cup)

With a whisk, whisk all the ingredients together, slowly adding cream to thin out the potatoes as needed.  You want the potato dough to be soft, but not runny; it needs to be able to hold it's shape.

Cut the sausage into 1 inch pieces.  Take a scoop of potatoes and place them in the palm of you hand.  Push one piece of sausage on the spuds, then form the potatoes around the meat into a ball.  Roll the potato in a plate of breadcrumbs (I season my crumbs with parmesan cheese, pepper and salt).  

Set the balls on a cookie sheet and continue until you've used up the all the spuds. Bake them in the oven until the the breadcrumbs begin to turn brown and crisp.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Roasted Pear Bellini

The night I created these scrumptious drinks we were heading to a friends housewarming party on the North side.  They had bought a beautiful place and I can't wait to go back for movies in the backyard!  The weather was teetering on fall, but yet one of the last summer nights nice enough to pull off my ankle wrap sandals. The drink really lends itself to a crisp fall day or a snowy holiday / hot tub drink- they are warming, rich, slightly spicy, comfortable and downright delicious. Have them with a holiday brunch in place of a traditional mimosa or to kick off your evening of cheer.

Tips and tricks: Use whatever pear is your favorite variety.  Peel off the skin and cut the pear into pieces before roasting it, it's much simpler than attempting to do this after the pears are roasted. You can use champagne, prosecco or cava- whichever you prefer. My preference is for the latter two.

Roasted Pear Bellini

2 pears, peeled and quartered
3 Tbls brown sugar
fresh ground pepper (about 10 turns of the pepper grinder)
5 cloves
pat of butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place above ingredients in aluminum foil, close up the foil and bake in the oven for about 1 hour.

Remove the foil package from the oven, cool slightly and remove the cloves.  Place the foiled ingredients in a blender.  Add:

Lemon zest (1/2 lemon)
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Blend until smooth.  Thin with a little apple juice if the mixture is too thick (it really becomes  quite similar to baby food texture).  You can blend it by hand if you prefer a chunkier texture.  Chill. I like to add a few cloves to the mixture while it's cooling- just be careful not to put them in the glass.

Place 1 or 2 scoops of the roasted pear mixture in the bottom of your champagne flute. Add champagne, prosecco or cava.  Stir slightly, and top off with more bubbly.  Enjoy.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Lemon-Spiked Meringues with Fruit Coulis and Chocolate Whipped Cream

Even though the hearty winter season of chili and big beefy stew is upon us, it's nice to have a light dessert to compliment those big meals.

Our friend Marianne invited us over for a little football and crockpot stewed ribs (yum!),  I called dessert.  While I would normally save these melt in your mouth, sugary wafers of goodness for summer fruits, they can also be a nice compliment to a hearty fall or winter meal.   The key is going to be the toppings.  Staying in the fruit realm, I choose to create two toppings to give the depth to the dessert - a blueberry port and a bourbon plum sauce.  The addition of the alcohol helped to deepen the flavors for a slightly heartier effect without overwhelming.   To top it off, I went out on a limb and made a fresh chocolate whipped cream.  The whipped cream matched wonderfully with the blueberry port, bringing out the deep flavors of the port; I wold probably prefer the the plum sauce with a normal vanilla flavored whipped cream. And because of the fruit sauces, I did add a hint of lemon to the meringues, it was a delightful touch.

All in all, it was a great night of food, friends and football.  If I had to do it all over again, I would add a spoon of vanilla custard to each meringue for a sturdier dessert (I added a custard recipe that would work great with with this recipe, below).  Regarding the fruit sauces - I always say, use whatever you have handy; so if you have raspberries and red wine rather than plums and brandy on hand, just go with it and adjust the flavors to your liking!

 Lemon-Spiked Meringues with Blueberry Port and Bourbon Plum Fruit Coulis topped with Chocolate Whipped Cream

Make the meringues first (start this the night before you need them)
2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar, add at soft peaks
1/4 tsp cream of tarter, add when foamy
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon zest

Heat oven to 200 degrees. In a stand mixer, place 2 egg whites and begin to whip.  Add the cream of tarter when the eggs begin to get foamy.  When the eggs hit a soft peak, slowly add the sugar and the lemon zest.  Continue to mix on high until stiff peaks form, add the vanilla, mix until incorporated.

Place parchment paper on a baking sheet.  Form the meringues- to do this you can form the bowl of the meringue with the back of a spoon or put the meringue into a decorating bag, use a large open tip to form the base and sides of the bowl.  Bake for about 2 hours.  Shut off the oven and let sit overnight.

Make the fruit sauces:
Choose your fruit.  Simmer a few cups of the chopped fruit with about 1/2 cup sugar (or corn syrup), 1 tbls lemon zest and 1 tsp almond flavor.  As the fruit begins to thicken (could take 15-20 minutes), take your immersion blender and blend until smooth.  Add in 1/3 cup of your matching liquor and simmer 5 more minutes.

Make the whipped cream just before serving:

Chocolate Whipped Cream

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbls cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla

Begin by whipping the cream, add the cocoa powder and slowly add the sugar.  When the cream becomes nearly whipped, add the vanilla.  Whippe until stiff.

Pour warm fruit sauces on the meringue and top with the whipped cream.  If you want to add the custard to this, follow the recipe below, place on meringues before the fruit sauce.

Vanilla Custard

1/2 cup sugar
3 tbls flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbls butter

Place sugar, flour and salt in a saucepan.  Gradually stir in the milk over medium-high heat until mixture boils.  Temper the egg with the hot custard, add back to saucepan; cook until it bubbles again.  Remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla.  Cool slightly.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream

It's not a secret that I make alot of ice cream, all from scratch, and always with the intention of trying to create something new, fun and interesting.  So when Dave asked me to make cookie dough ice cream, I was relatively uninterested in this request.  It seemed so plain and .... usual.  But I can't say no to Dave.

This cookie dough ice cream was absolutely fabulous.  I was completely blown over by the flavor, completely unexpected.  The dough was just the classic Nestle cookie dough recipe - Dave helped by following the exact instructions on the back of the bag. The ice cream itself is one of the heaviest custards I've made- but it's needed to stand up to the raw dough.  Don't skimp on the using the vanilla bean, it really does make a difference in the flavor.  You could use any dough that you want, but the classic chocolate chip dough is really quite amazing.  Enjoy this, make it for you and not the kids and try not to eat it all in one sitting!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 vanilla bean, spit and seeded
1/2 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
pinch of salt

Cookie dough- we used 1/2 of the batch of the Nestle recipe, and then made the rest into cookies.

Warm the cream, half and half and the vanilla bean over medium heat.  Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until they are pale and fluffy.

Temper the yolks with the warm cream, add everything back into the pan along with a pinch of salt, and cook until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon.  Stir often and be careful not to scorch the bottom. 

Cool the custard in a ice bath, place in the fridge overnight if you have time.  Place the custard in the ice cream maker and continue according to the manufacturers directions.  Add teaspoons of the cookie dough to the custard as it churns and freezes.  Enjoy!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Baked Caramel Apple and Cranberry Pumpkin French Toast

Baking anything in caramel rocks, almost as much as wrapping anything in bacon does.  This dish takes a basic french toast idea, simplifies the cooking process and doubles the taste factor.  Make it the night before, let it steep in the fridge overnight and then simply pop it in the oven in the morning, leaving you time to put your feet up and enjoy your mimosa.

A friend had mentioned this idea to me the other day and it sounded terrific, so I created a recipe, played with the flavor combinations and I have to say- this is pretty terrific!  I choose a pumpkin pecan bread from Whole Foods- it was stunning, similar to a hearty Italian loaf but with the flavor of pumpkin and studded with pecans.  Absolutely super.  Baked french toast will be a great dish for the holidays, but why not be fat and happy other times times too?

Tip and Techniques:  Change up the fruit depending on the season - perhaps with bananas and blueberries or pineapple and raspberries- be adventurous.  I would also suggest using whatever bread you have on hand as well, don't feel limited to use a pumpkin pecan bread as I did, try a challah or even just a french bread loaf will work great.  Also, I made these in individual ramekins- but you can also do one large casserole dish or try filling a muffin tin pan.

Baked Caramel Apple, Cranberry and Pumpkin French Toast

Make the caramel sauce first
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cream

Melt the butter in a sauce pan, add the brown sugar and bring to boil.  Carefully add the cream and whisk until it all comes together.
 Keep the caramel on a soft boil for about 5 minutes, stirrring once in a while. Set aside.

Make the egg mixture:
4 eggs
1/4 cup cream or milk
1 tbls water
2 tbls vanilla

1/2 loaf of bread

Whisk all the ingredients together, except for the bread.  Choose the bread you are using and cut into various size chunks, add them to the egg mixture and press them down in there so they soak up the mixture.  Set in the fridge overnight or for a few hours.

Assembling the french toast:

Clean and slice one apple, in 1/4 inch slices.  Toss with a little fresh lemon juice to keep from turning brown.

Take the caramel and pour it into a greased pan, ramekin, muffin tin-whatever dish(es) you are using.
Sprinkle cranberries into the caramel, can use craisins instead of fresh cranberries.  Lay the apples onto the caramel in a single layer.  Piece the bread onto the apples, and pour any extra egg mixture that didn't soak in right over the bread.

Bake in a 400 degree oven until the top bread is crusty and the middle is set.  Remove from the oven and let it sit for minute.  Carefully tip the pan upside down onto a plate and serve.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pumpkin Ravioli

Pumpkin ravioli is not new, it's not earth shattering, but It's almost a requirement for the Fall season - and it's sooo good.  The recipe I created below gets a helping of flavor from the fresh ginger.

This is a hearty dish, so serve with something light (a simple salad) or make your ravioli small so as not to overwhelm. You can make these ahead of time and freeze them too.

Tips and techniques:  Browning butter can be a super tricky process, it's easy to burn the butter.  But there is a simple method to follow.  Make this the last thing you do before you serve the ravioli.  Heat a sautee pan, add a pat of butter, do not touch the pan.  Let the butter melt and sizzle on the edges for a minute, the edges will start to brown.  Drop in a few sage leaves, pick up the pan and swirl the butter so that the rest of the butter pat melts.  Return to the burner (medium to low heat) for a minute.  Add in the ravioli and toss, or just drizzle over the ravioli on a platter.

Pumpkin Ravioli
1 small roasted pumpkin with brown sugar
4 oz of mascarpone
1 tbls fresh ginger, grated
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 egg
salt and pepper
1 tbls each of fresh thyme and sage, chopped
 1/2 cup shredded Midnight Moon Goats Milk Cheese + a little for topping (this is a semi-soft cheese, regular goat cheese will work or try fontina cheese)
4-8 whole sage leaves
1 slice of pancetta, diced small
1 shallot, finely sliced

Roast the pumpkin by carefully chopping in half.  Drizzle with a little olive oil and rub with 1-2 tbls of brown sugar.  Place cut side down on a baking sheet.  Bake until pumpkin flesh is fork tender.

Scoop out the pumpkin flesh into a large mixing bowl.  Using a whisk, smash the pumpkin until smooth and whisk in the mascarpone, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, egg, chopped thyme, sage cheese and salt and pepper. 

Scoop the pumpkin filling in to fresh pasta dough sheets (or wonton wrappers if you don't want to make the dough.)  See my posting on fresh pasta for recipes and ravioli instructions

Brown Butter Sage Sauce

Warm a sautee pan, add 2 tbls butter.  Let the butter melt until it begins to brown on the edges (do not touch the pan). Add in 4-5 fresh sage leaves.  Pick up the pan and swirl the butter, replace over heat for 1 minute.  Toss with the ravioli.

Cook the pancetta until crispy, remove from pan and add in the shallots.  Fry the shallots until crispy.  Set aside.

Cook the ravioli. Serve the ravioli with the brown butter sage sauce, topped with fried shallots, crispy pancetta (optional), fried sage and shredded goats milk cheese.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Chili Linguine with Pumpkin Chocolate Sauce

"Any ideas for chili linguine?" my brother Marty wrote to me.  There is nothing more I like than to make up a recipe ... so, yes, yes I do have ideas.  I sent him two ideas- off the top of my head I wrote the basic recipes for him and hoped for the best.  When the weekend hit, I promptly made both ideas to test them out (I had a busy week, testing a new recipe was not an option until the weekend.)

Jenni sent me a text today to say the one they made was awesome (the Chili Linguine with Lemon Shrimp).  They even sent me photo- go check it out. 

But back to the pumpkin mole sauce;  this is definitely not a true mole in any sense of the word mole, the only real similarity is chocolate ingredient, but it just sounds cool!  And it works well, it's a great fall recipe and a nice change to regular tomato spaghetti sauce.  I'm pretty happy with this creation.  The goat cheese is key, do not substitute Parmesan or anything else for that matter.  The goat cheese complete softens the bite and brings all the flavors to life.  Give it try and let me know if it makes you fat and happy!

Tips and tricks:  I always say to make your own pasta when possible.  This recipe was based on the Chili Linguine (boxed variety) that my brother had- so I added the cayenne and chili powder to make up for using regular pasta.  If you happened to have the chili linguine- you may want to taste this without the cayenne first, as it may not be needed.

Chili Linguine with Pumpkin Chocolate Sauce

Roast 1 small pumpkin  (carefully cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds (roast them with salt until crispy), drizzle with olive oil and about 2 tbls of brown sugar.  Place cut side down on a baking sheet, bake at 400 degrees until fork tender.)

Sautee in olive oil until caramelized:
1 large shallot. thinly sliced
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Dash of chili powder
Fresh black pepper

Scoop the roasted pumpkin out of its shell, and add to the shallots.  Mash the pumpkin with a wooden spoon.

1/2 cup heavy cream (or use white wine)

Blend with an immersion blender (or place in an upright blender).
Add broth to thin out
....about 1 cup of broth** (chicken or vegetarian) Or white wine
   **may need more or less depending on desired consistency

Add 1-3 Tbls of chopped bittersweet chocolate (try it with 1 tbls first- you can always add more but you can't add less) and 1 tbls butter.  Stir until melted.  Keep warm over the lowest flame.

In the meantime, cook the  linguine until al dente.  Warm a drizzle of olive oil in a medium -size fry pan.  Drain, toss the linguine lightly with the olive oil and then add a few scoops of the pumpkin sauce.  Toss.

To plate:  Use a pair of tongs to pinch a scoop of pasta from the pan, and place in the middle of the plate.  Drizzle with more pumpkin sauce and a little olive oil- crumble goat cheese and few shavings of  chocolate on top a d roasted pumpkin seeds (optional).
Enjoy immediately.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Kahlua Ice Cream Bars with Kalua Chocolate Chip Bar Cookies

We had a potluck for charity day at work.  The charity is Off the Street Club, a place for kids to play, learn how to use a computer, interact and plainly put- be safe!   It was painful to decide what to make, there are so many good options to make.  I'm not sure how I ended up choosing to make Kahlua ice cream bars, but I'm so glad I did- these are rich, moist, decadent and utterly fantastic!

The chocolate chip bar portion of the ice cream bar is soft and studded with large chucks of chocolate.  I wanted to be sure that they wouldn't freeze solid, so there is a bit of Kahlua in there as well.  It's easy to get pretty heavy handed with the Kahlua too, here's a recount of my experience while I was making the ice cream:

Pour in Kahlua...taste
pour in more Kahlua...taste
pour in more Kahlua...taste
pour glass of Kahlua, drink.

Ha ha!  Alcohol just seems to find it's way into my hand when I'm cooking!  Remember what I always say though - make this to your liking and to your preferences in terms of more or less Kahlua.  But there is nothing like a super happy ice cream to leave you fat and happy!

Tips and tricks:  You can pat the cookie dough in a 10"x15" pan or drop them by the spoonfuls for actual cookies, I tested both methods and they each worked just fine. Shape the ice cream into a pan while it's semi soft, and then place it back into the freezer.  Whether you are doing squares for bar cookies or circles for regular cookies, you can cut them or use round biscuit cutters for the mold, it's much easier than trying to scoop the ice cream and smashing it between the cookies.  Also, choose a pan this is 1/2 the size of pan you are using for the bars, since you will double the bars (one for top and one for bottom) you will need less squares of ice cream.  Line the pan with syran wrap, and then top the ice cream with syran. Wrap each tightly with syran wrap and place into freezer.  And of course, the ice cream is superb on it's own!

Kahlua Ice Cream
2 1/2 cups cream
1 3/4 cup half and half
3/4 cup sugar
2 heaping tbls cocoa powder
2 tbls finely ground coffee
2 tsp vanilla
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup Kahlua

Heat the cream, half and half, 1/2 cup sugar, cocoa powder and the coffee beans over medium heat.  Do not boil, stir occasionally.
While the cream is warming, whisk the eggs yolks and remaining sugar until they turn pale a fluffy.
Temper the yolks with the warm cream by adding a little bit of the cream to the yolks, like 1/2 cup at a time, until the yolks are warmed.  Pour into the cream, add the vanilla and continue to cook over  medium heat, stirring until the custard becomes thick and coats the back of the spoon .  Add Kahlua, remove from heat.  Cool in an ice bath.  If you have the time, let the custard mixture sit in the refrigerator over night; otherwise just follow your ice cream machine manufacturers directions.

I placed the ice cream directly from the maker to my syran wrap lined pan, and then froze it (see tips above), making for easy cutting and molding.

Chocolate Chip Kahlua Bar Cookies
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp  vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup Kahlua
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups flour
16 oz chocolate chunks or chips

Cream butter, and sugars.  Add vanilla, and each egg, one at a time.  Add Kahlua.  Sift together the salt, baking powder and soda and the flour.  Add to butter mixture.  Add 16 oz of chocolate chunks, mix.  Drop as cookies or use a rubber spatula to mold into the pan.  I used a 10"x15"- this does make a bit of a thick cookie, you could use a full cookie sheet for thinner bars.  Bake 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees, until the top is golden and the middle is set.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Salt-encrusted Red Snapper

The first time Dave and I went to Italy, his client took us out to a local eatery and choose our menu for us.  When the chef came out with this enormous fish covered in salt, I was excited and a bit skeptical at the same time. Not being a big salt fan, I was sure the fish would have an overtone of a sardine and I would need much more than a jug of wine to wash it down!  Of course that didn't happen.  The fish was amazing and meal ended properly with shots of grappa!  Yum.

Last night I finally recreated that dish.  The idea of crusting fish in salt is not a new dish or one that I made up, but it is simple and allows the fish to shine.  Do try this for your next dinner party; not only will it impress your guests, but you'll be a fat and happy host!

Tips and Tricks:  Vary what you stuff the fish with.  I used lime and fresh oregano because it's what I had on hand.  Lemon or orange would be great, as would rosemary, thyme or just parsley even.  Leave the fresh herbs in the stalks and just set the in there, so you can pull them out easily after the fish is cooked.

Salt-encrusted Red Snapper
2 lbs of course salt (sea or kosher)
1 cup water

red snapper, gutted and cleaned of scales and fins
oregano stalks (5)
4 slices of lemon or lime
salt and pepper

Rinse the fish and pat dry. Place the oregano and lime slices inside the fish, season with a little salt and pepper.  Drizzle a little olive oil on the inside and outside of the fish.  Pour the salt and water in a bowl, mix till the salt is all moistened.  Lay a bed salt on a sheet pan, place the fish on top and cover all but the head and tail with salt.  Push it all together so it is fully encrusted.

Place in a 450 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Tap on the crusted salt to remove.  Strip away the skin, remove the herbs and limes. Serve.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Butterfinger Candy

About ten months ago I started an undertaking to recreate the Butterfinger candy bar, I was ultimately going for a cake that tasted like the crunchy, flaky, peanut buttery Butterfinger.  This started after a friend tasted a cake I made for Dave, it was an unbelievable, fabulous malted milk ball cake (whopper cake).  To this day, anyone  who tasted that cake swears it was the most scrumptious thing they've ever had. And it truly tasted like a whopper, down to the gritty middle. 

So this friend nonchalantly mentioned that her birthday was coming up, and oh, Butterfingers is her favorite candy bar.  My sleeves were rolled up before the drool started, and the testing began.  I do have a plan for the cake and topping portions, but the key to this is to recreate the actual flaky candy portion.  Lets be honest for a second- this type of candy is nearly impossible to create outside of the large, industrial, candy making plant. But that didn't deter me, I made three different batches of candy that day. Fast forward ten months and one new job later... life swallowed me up and spit me out.  I'm dusting myself off and getting back in the kitchen and back to my many recipe projects that were left unfinished, starting with the Butterfinger.

This is not perfect yet, but it's pretty good!  Give it go, see what you think.  Most of the problem with my earlier batches was that they were too hard.  This version gave me those flaky layers that are so crucial to this candy.  I'll be refining this recipe slightly more and then making the actual cake (check back for that recipe soon.)  In the meantime, nobody better lay finger on my Butterfinger...but if they do, they will be fat and happy!

Notes and tips:  You must work extremely fast once you add the baking soda, and do not touch the candy after pouring it in the pan or you will loose the layers.  Do cover it with chocolate.  This only stays for a few days, but before it gets old, it almost seems to soften slightly- making it even more like the actual candy bar.

Butterfinger Candy (aka, soft peanut brittle)

Have ready:
1/3 cup peanut butter, place in a glass dish and warm slightly
Line a 9x13" pan with parchment paper
Stir 2 tsp baking soda with a spoon of water (use a regular table spoon)

Melt together on low, stirring gently for about 5 minutes:
1 cup sugar
4 Tbls corn syrup

Boil for 10 minutes, do not stir.  Pour into the peanut butter, add the baking soda water. Stir and immediately pour onto the parchment paper (this has to happen in lickety spit time!).  Do not touch at all or you will loose the layers.  Let cool.  Cover with melted chocolate.  Break apart and eat!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Grilled Salmon with Pineapple Poblano BBQ Sauce

When we don't plan for dinner, often the first answer out of Dave's mouth is "pizza?"  A few weeks ago I mentioned my brother and his wife loaded us up with fresh salmon, we've been enjoying the heck out of it, so much so that I forgot to post the the recipes.  The weather in Chicago hit nearly 70 degrees this week, clearly some kind of record for the 2nd week in November.  There was no question that grilling was a must!  Sorry Dave, no pizza tonight

With a huge salmon fillet in hand, I meandered over to the cupboard to find a suitable marinade.  First thing I saw was a little can of pineapple and it just stuck.  With the help of some left over tomato sauce that was begging for use I found myself with a pan of pineapple bar-b-que sauce, it's a bit on the sweet side with bits of heat from the poblano peppers, a nice change!   It all comes together super easy, by the time the brown rice was cooked, the sauce and salmon were ready.  I'm pretty sure you can have this together and in your mouth before the pizza guy can deliver, need I mention that it's much, much healthier too??

Notes and tips:  Grill the salmon on the flesh side on high for a minute, then flip over and place on a piece of tin foil, bending up the sides.  Now pour half of the sauce, along with some of the pineapple chunks on top.  The foil will catch the sauce drippings and  caramelize the sides.  I was thinking you could try this with a small can of mandarin oranges as well, sounds super!

Grilled Salmon with Pineapple Poblano Pepper BBQ Sauce

Sautee in olive oil
1/4 (heaping) cup of diced onions
1 minced garlic clove

3 Tbls Tomato sauce
1/2 cup pineapple juice
chopped pineapple (from a small can- about 1 cup)
3 Tbls Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbls chopped roasted poblano peppers (use more or less depending on the heat level you prefer)
1 heaping tbls brown sugar
1 tbls maple syrup
juice from 1/2 lime
1 tsp vinegar (white balsamic is what I used, cider would be just fine)
salt and pepper to taste

Simmer on low until it's all blended and the flavors have had a chance to meld. (roughly 10 minutes).

Oil the grill.  Drizzle olive oil on the salmon, season with salt and pepper.  Grill flesh side down on high for a minute.  Flip onto tinfoil, cover with bbq sauce, close the lid, lower heat to medium and grill a few more minutes.  I like my salmon rare, and depending on the thickness of a the salmon, this may only take about 5 minutes.  Grill to your preferred doneness.

Drizzle remaining sauce on top and serve with brown rice tossed with chopped almonds.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Leek, Fennel and Bacon Breakfast Hash with Parsley Oregano Vinaigrette

What is hash really?  Historically it was made with potatoes, onions and left over meat all mashed together- so basically it's a big skillet of cheap food sauteed in butter.  Sounds awesome. My versions of hash are much less mashed and don't come in a can either, perhaps they should be named a skillet-something-or-other.  But hash is more fun.

Many people also know hash as breakfast hangover food.  Plop a sunny side egg on top and let the runny yolk drip down and coat the spuds with total gooey yummy-ness.  Or you can go the lighter side of hash and top with fresh salmon baked in parchment paper with a dill yogurt sauce.  It all depends on your mood, in some cases -the prior evening out ... and what you have in the fridge.

Today it's just hash, an upscale hash perhaps, but just skillet hash, with a side of green chili.  Honestly, use what you have- don't be afraid to throw in beans, or peppers or peas even.  Think of the potatoes as a base to flavor as you see fit.  Chop, sautee, toss and enjoy with a fresh squeezed mimosa for a fat and happy morning!

Notes and tips:  Use a mix of sweet and white potatoes for the best flavor profile.  Add cubed roasted pumpkin or butternut squash for a nod to fall.  Top with an egg. Try the salmon idea mentioned above.  Add roasted red peppers and sausage for an Italian twist. Or top it with a steak for a super hearty breakfast (or dinner!)  You can never go wrong by adding bacon!

Leek, Fennel and Bacon Breakfast Hash

Mix Parsley Oregano Vinaigrette (recipe below)

5 strips bacon in a large sautee pan (add fresh ground pepper)
Set bacon on a paper towel, drain most of the bacon grease out of the pan- retain a few tablespoons.

Add and Sautee until golden brown on one side:
3 medium sliced potatoes to the bacon pan.
Fresh ground black pepper

Add and continue to sautee
1 chopped leek
1 medium sliced fennel bulb

When the fennel and leek begin to soften, add:
2 tbls butter
2 minced cloves of garlic
1/4 cup chopped sundried tomatoes
Continue to sautee and toss until the potatoes, leek and fennel are all softened and getting browned. If your pan is too dry, add a little olive oil.

Add and toss:
1 tbls fresh oregano
2 handfuls chopped parsley
2 tabls chopped fresh chives
4 small tomatoes, quartered
Salt and pepper to taste

Crumble feta cheese on top.  (if you want extra cheese, add a little Havarti as well)  Drizzle with the Parsley Oregano Vinaigrette and serve with a warm tortilla.

Parsley Oregano Vinaigrette
Add in a blender:
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh oregano
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
2 tbls champagne vinegar
1/4 cup walnut oil

Blend on high, drizzle in olive oil as needed:
1/4 -1/2 cup olive oil  (add as needed, may not need all of this)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Oregano Chipotle Pulled Turkey with Potato Poblano Fundido Soft Taco

I love having a couple of mini tacos rather than one big one, but small, mini tortillas are super hard to find- I'm not sure why. These two and three bite morsels let your taste buds experience the flavors together- it's a party in your mouth.  And the small tortillas allow this recipe to be used as an appetizer or as tapas.

I used white corn tortillas this time because I was out of flour ones, but the flavor worked fabulously together.  But use what you have and what you prefer. These are an outstanding taco - moist, cheesy and slightly spicy.

It was Halloween the night we made these so we enjoyed a pumpkin beer with our meal, but any dark beer would work! Enjoy as a appetizer or as a full meal.  Mini foods are fat and happy!

Tips and Techniques:  If you can't find the small 4" tortillas, simply buy the larger ones and cut small circles out of them.Save the edges for top soups or throw in salads.

Oregano Chipotle Pulled Turkey

Turkey Tenderloin (1.5lbs) (could substitute pork- it will give better flavor but it's also not as healthy)
3 minced garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup water or broth
2 tbls fresh oregano
1 tbls cider vinegar
Let that simmer with the the cover off until the liquid is reduced to half

Shred, or 'pull apart' with two forks, and add:
1/2 can tomato sauce
2 tsp chili powder
1 small can chopped chipotle chili's (or you can use green chili's, but the chipotle will garner more flavor)
2 tbls fresh oregano
Fresh ground pepper (salt if needed)

Cover, put heat on low - medium low, let simmer for a couple of hours.

Potato Poblano Fundido
3/4 cup finely dice yellow onion
1 medium size potato, finely diced
1/4 cup small dice, roasted poblano pepper (add more or less depending on your heat preference and the heat of the peppers)
1/2 cup beer
1/4 - 1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup chopped or shredded smoked gouda
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Saute onion and potato in olive oil until potatoes are nearly soft (this will happen relatively quickly when they are diced super small.)  Add the poblano peppers and beer, toss. Add cream, simmer on low for minute.  Add cheese and parsley just before serving.

The Soft Taco, putting it all together:
Buy small (2 - 4") flour tortillas, if you can't find the small tortillas, cut them out of larger tortillas.  Pile a scoop of the pulled turkey in the middle of a tortilla, add a small scoop of potato fundido. Fold and eat!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Shrimp, Edamame and Wild Rice Salad

Expect to see alot of Wild Rice recipes on this blog this winter, thanks to my family!  After I posted the Orange Balsamic Wild Rice Salad recipe- I hinted at the need for my Mom to send me more wild rice.  She did (Thanks Mom!)  Then we took a trip to visit Marty and Jenny down in Kirksville to root on the Bulldogs (see photos of the game below); Jenny's folks had read the blog and also sent wild rice for us there!  (Thanks Bartz's!)  So my cupboard is loaded up with magnificent Minnesota Wild Rice ....let the cooking begin!

Side note- we were also sent home from Kirksville with fresh (frozen) Salmon as well - look for those recipes soon!  There is something about our family and sharing food, I absolutely love it!  I'm open for some wild game....venison...elk....anyone?? 

Okay, this recipe worked in two ways, first it was served warm topped with garlic sauteed shrimp. Turns out we ate all the shrimp before I snapped a photo, oops.  Then second, I added a chopped apple and had it cold for lunch.  It's super versatile to be either a main dish or a side salad just by changing one ingredient.  Amazing, right? The other fun ingredient here is the edamame- a great soybean that is super high in protein, fiber and calcium. 

And now for my disclaimer- once again I just wildly poured, mixed, tasted- basically I wrote down the ingredients but not the amounts.  So this is from memory, I'm sure it will get you close, but feel free to adjust each ingredient for your taste. Make wild rice and be Fat and Happy!

Shrimp, Edamame and Wild Rice Salad
Make wild rice- basic cooking calls for roughly 3 cups of water to 1 cup rice, simmer covered about 45 - 50 minutes

Cook 1 cup Edamame - shelled edamame are found in the freezer section, these are simply boiled for a few minutes.  Follow the package instructions. (you could substitute peas).

Thai-esque dressing:
Whisk together, set aside

1/4 cup Sriracha sauce
1 tbls Ground ginger
1/8 cup Pomegranate balsamic (or regular balsamic)
1-2 tbls fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tbls Soy sauce
1/4 cup Walnut or Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

 Putting the Shrimp Wild Rice Salad together:
Ready two plates, lay a small bed of chopped romaine lettuce on each plate.
Have shrimp peeled, deveined and ready, I had 4 per person but depending on the size, you may want more.

When the rice is ready, sautee shrimp with 2 minced cloves of garlic and olive oil over medium heat.  Shrimp cook extremely quick so this should only take a minute or two per side.

Quickly pour half of the dressing in the pan with the shrimp,add the edamame and toss. Now add the shrimp to the hot wild rice and toss.  Scoop the wild rice on the bed of lettuce (the heat from the rice will slightly wilt the lettuce) and serve with a lemon wedge.

Apple and left over Wild Rice Salad
Take one red delicious apple, dice and toss with fresh lemon.  Mix with the left over wild rice and serve on a bed of lettuce or with a pita. (This salad will stay for days in the fridge).


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