I was goofing off in the kitchen last night and made something yummy. I love cooking. Here it is:
Pork loin chops with ginger and roasted grapes
Roasted ducati squash stuffed with apples, walnuts and gorgonzola
Sauteed mustard greens with bacon and orange zest
2 pork loin chops (1" thick, about 3" across)
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 small handfuls seedless grapes, chopped coarsely
1/4 c finely minced onion
1/4 c white wine (I keep a bottle of cheapish stuff on top of the fridge for cooking, but NEVER use cooking wine)
kosher salt/black pepper
Preheat oven to 350. In a medium saucier (with oven-proof handle!), heat 1 tsp olive oil over med-med high heat (I set it in between med and med high). S&P the chops, rub the ginger on top and lay them in the pan ginger-side up. Shake the pan periodically, and when the chops shake loose that means they have some good maillard and can be flipped. After about 3 minutes of cooking on the other side, deglaze the pan with the wine and dump the grapes and onions on top of the chops. Place pan in oven to pan-roast for about ten minutes or so. I do the finger test to check doneness:
Touch your index finger to your thumb like you're doing the "okay" sign. With your other hand, feel the meat of your thumb. That is what medium-rare feels like. The middle finger to thumb feels like medium, ring finger is medium-well and pinky is well done (or overcooked). This is a handy trick if you're grilling and/or don't want to lose all the meat's juices by piercing it with a thermometer.
Remove from oven when done to your liking and let rest in the pan for five minutes. Plate chops/grapes and drizzle with pan sauce. Le art!
These are cute little striped, torpedo-shaped Italian squash but this also works perfectly with acorn squash as a main dish.
1 ducati squash, halved lengthwise and seeded. Roast in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.
1 tbsp. butter
1 firm, tart apple (like Fuji), cored, peeled and diced into 1/4" dice
1/3 c chopped walnuts or pecans
2 tsp. brown sugar
1/4 c orange juice or apple juice
pinch salt and nutmeg, fatter pinch cinnamon
hearty glug of bourbon or whiskey if you have it
2 tsp. gorgonzola crumbles
Melt butter in small saucier over medium heat. Add apple and sauté, stirring often, for five minutes. Add walnuts, brown sugar, oj, seasonings and bourbon and stir. What the hell, take a swig of the bourbon for yourself. You're cooking dinner, so you've earned it. Continue to cook for five more minutes. Spoon into roasted squash halves and sprinkle gorg crumbles on top. Finish roasting in oven for ten minutes. Perfect fall accompaniment to pretty much any meat dish.
1 bunch mustard greens (or other bitter greens) stemmed, washed and chopped coarsely
1 slice bacon, chopped finely
1/4 c minced onion
zest from 1 orange
fatty pinch kosher salt
small splash apple cider vinegar
Saute bacon and onions in a large saucepan (that has a fitting lid) over medium-high heat. Stir frequently. When bacon begins to brown add greens and salt and put on the lid. In five minutes (when they begin to wilt) flip the greens with some tongs and turn the heat off. In another minute they should be wilted but still bright green and al dente. Strain out that bitter brownish-green juice in the bottom of the pan and return the greens, adding the zest and the vinegar. Toss to coat. Bon appetit! This is awesome with blackened salmon and cornbread, or pretty much anything. I thought it was good with last night's meal because the other two dishes were on the sweet side, and this balanced the meal out nicely.
For Dinner Tonight since I have the day off:
Beef Wellington a la Dakotah(I call this dish "beef tenderloin en croute ("on croot") with oyster mushroom duxelle". Sounds better.)
Background information: This recipe is written as though the reader is a complete novice. No, I don't think you're stupid; I just want to make sure you do this right and get the results you want. I am making this with Buffalo but Venison and Beef is fine too, and wild mushrooms that I foraged, which makes it awesome. Conversely, I use store-bought puff pastry instead of making pastry dough to save myself some effort. I like my meat medium-rare, and this is certainly the best way to serve venison (or buffalo), which is a leaner meat and prone to toughness if cooked much longer. It's important to brown the meat before you put it into the pastry because you can give the meat a chance to "rest" which will minimize the juices leaking all out into the pastry making it soggy. Joy of Cooking skips this step, but it's imperative that you obey me here. Also, by the time the pastry is golden brown and delicious, the meat will be perfect and not bloody or tough. Get the best wild mushrooms you can get to make this dish really special, but if you can't find 'em, portabellas or cremini will work fine."En croute" is French for "in a crust", I think, and duxelle is a traditional mushroom paste commonly used in crepes.
Serve with a petite syrah or a nice shiraz.
Step 1: make the duxelle
8 oz mushrooms, cleaned
1.5 tbsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
2 tsps finely minced shallots
1 tbsp dry sherry or Madiera, or a dry red wine if that's all you have
1/4 cup heavy cream
S&P to taste
Mince the fuck out of the mushrooms until they're practically a fine powder (if you have a food processor you're golden). Squeeze small handfuls (1/4 cup at a time) to get all the moisture out of 'em to extract the bitter juices. They'll be in a solid lump if you've done it right. Heat butter and oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until the foam subsides. Add shallots and cook for a minute or two. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring often until they've begun to brown, 5 or 6 minutes. Add sherry and cook until completely evaporated. Turn off stove and add cream, S&P and nutmeg. Set aside to cool. If you can afford it, you can add a few ounces of foie gras to this mixture which will likely lead to you getting oral sex from the person you're serving this to.
Step 2: prepare beef
1 center-cut filet of beef or chateaubriand (or 1 venison tenderloin, I am using Buffalo), trimmed of fat and tendony thingies
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsps olive oil
In a pan large enough to accommodate the beef, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Salt and pepper the beef, and gently lay the meat in the pan. The point here is to get a nice sear and some browning (maillard) on the meat before you put it in the pastry. After a minute, using tongs, roll the beef and repeat until browned on all sides (including the two ends). Remove meat with tongs and set on a large plate to rest for 10 minutes. DO NOT RINSE OUT PAN. You'll use it later, and you want all the yummy brown bits that the French call "fond" for the sauce.
Step 3: Assembly
1 package puff pastry sheets, thawed
1 large egg
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp milk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk egg, water and milk together into an eggwash. Set aside. Lay out pastry dough on a large baking sheet that's been lined with parchment (or lightly grease the baking sheet). Spread the duxelle onto the meat to make a layer about 1/4" thick that completely surrounds the meat. Fold the pastry gently up and around the meat, wrapping into a neat little package. Trim any excess dough. Roll the package so the seam side is down, and then brush lightly with the egg wash. With a toothpick or skewer, artfully poke two or three evenly-spaced holes in the top of the pastry to allow steam to vent. Slide the masterpiece into the oven and bake until the crust is golden, about 35 minutes.
If you really must ruin your meat by cooking it past medium-rare, then just loosely lay some foil on top when it's brown and finish until a meat thermometer reads the following temperatures:
120-125 for rare
125-130 for medium rare
135-140 for medium
But please, for the love of god, do not cook it past medium or you'll have a big old mess when you try to slice it, and you will not get the oral sex. You shouldn't have to use foil if you're only going to medium-rare or rare. Let sit, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes.
Step 4: The Sauce
You should make this while the meat is in the oven, so everything will be done at once.
1 cup beef stock (or broth)
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp peppercorns
1 tsp juniper berries
1 tsp allspice berries
4 or 5 cloves
1" piece of cinnamon stick
salt to taste
Heat a small pan (not the one you used to brown the beef) over medium-high heat. Place the spices in the dry pan and kinda shake the pan like you're making popcorn until the spices start to release their wonderful fragrances. Remove pan from heat and place the meat-browning pan on the burner that's still turned on. Deglaze the pan by stirring the red wine into it, scraping with a wooden spoon and stirring to dissolve all that good stuff. Add the juice from the rested meat, the stock, balsamic and toasted spices and simmer until liquid is reduced by about half. It should be somewhat thick and syrupy. Salt to taste. Strain out spices with a fine-mesh sieve, through cheesecloth or through a coffee filter if that's all you have. This sauce is awesome as a pan gravy for any red meat, by the way.
* * *
Slice wellington into inch-thick slices. Drizzle sauce into a puddle near the slices, or however you think it'll look awesome.
Recommended side dishes:
pan-fried new potatoes with parsley
green beans with citrus zest
Make side dishes while the wellington is baking/resting.
Potatoes: boil while wellington is baking, and then finish while it's resting
Figure about two baby potatoes per person. I like Yukon gold, but any small white potato is fine. Peel a strip of the skin of so there's a ring of peeled potato around the middle, with just the tender skin on the ends. Place potatoes in a pot of cold, salted water and bring to boil. Cook the potatoes until fork tender, then strain. Melt a fat pat of butter in a pan until it starts to foam, and add potatoes. Brown on all sides, and sprinkle with fresh minced parsley when serving. Crack a little pepper on that shit.
Green beans: cook when wellington is resting
Trim ends off beans, and blanch in boiling water just until they turn bright green. Shock in a bath of ice water to stop cooking. Melt some butter and sauté beans for about 3 minutes, basically until they're tender. Add S&P, and sprinkle with fresh orange or lemon zest. To get zest, just use the fine part of a cheese grater (or obviously if you have a microplate zester use it), grating off only the outer, colored part of the rind.
Dinner tonight. Before work I oven roasted all the veggies first, then put this all in a crockpot to slow cook all day.
Pork shoulder, tomatillos, onions, garlic, cilantro, chipoltles, serano chile, a bottle of Corona, cumin, oregano, salt.
I now believe tomatillos to be the greatest fruit/vegetable/berry product known to man.
For Dinner Tonight, I was in the mood for some Curry.
Smoky Green Curry Seafood Chowder
Smoky Green Curry Seafood Chowder
Ingredients (broken out into steps of prep):
1 medium-sized Asian eggplant, mandolined or sliced very thin (on the bias)
2 c chopped fresh tomatoes (canned would work in a pinch if drained)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
3 small, mild green chilis such as fresh pepperoncini
1 small onion, diced
1 shallot, minced (about 3 tbsp)
3 or 4 cloves garlic, minced
3" piece of ginger (the younger the better), julienned
1/2 c chopped baby haricots verts (or other tender green bean)
1 tsp coriander seed
1/2 tsp caraway seed
1/2 tsp cumin seed
1/4 tsp garam masala
coupla fat pinches kosher salt
6 or 7 cracks pepper
5 c fumet or fish stock
3 or 4 squirts fish sauce (nam pla)
1 can (13.5 oz) coconut milk
1 cup chopped fresh basil (reserve a few sprigs for garnish)
1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro, stems and all (reserve a few sprigs for garnish)
1/2 tsp red chili flake (I like the Korean kind, which is a little sweeter)
juice and zest from half a lime
1 tin (3.66 oz) smoked mussels, drained
1 lb mild white fish fillets (such as halibut, flounder, tilapia, etc.), cut into bite-sized cubes
8 baby octopus or squid, cleaned, tentacles left whole and bodies cut into bite-sized pieces
12 or 15 medium-sized prawns (~8 oz), peeled and deveined with tails intact
Heat oven to 350F. Spread thinly-sliced eggplant in a single layer on two lightly-oiled cookie sheets (or on a silpat on top of the cookie sheet). Spread tomatoes into glass or ceramic baking dish in an even layer. Roast eggplant for 15 minutes until browned and a bit crispy. Peel eggplant off while still hot and set aside. Roast toms for an additional 15 minutes (30 minutes total) until slightly browned, sticky and slumpy. You can kick the heat up a bit after the eggplant comes out if you want to expedite this step.
In a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the jalapenos, pepperoncini, onions, shallots, garlic, ginger and haricots verts for 5 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon (important utensil for home cooking). While this is happening, heat a small pan over medium heat and toast the coriander, caraway and cumin seed until fragrant. Remove from heat and grind in mortar and pestle or spice grinder until you get a fine powder. Add ground spices and garam masala to sautéing veg, and add salt and pepper.
When veg is beginning to get a little golden, add fumet, fish sauce and coconut milk. Drop heat to medium-low and stir. Add basil, coriander, chili flake and the lime zest/juice. Simmer for like 10 minutes. Add the eggplant and tomatoes, smoked mussels and the fish, and simmer another 10 minutes or so, until the veg is al dente and the fish is looking opaque. Avoid stirring too much here so you don't break up the fish. Add the octopus and prawns, and turn off the heat. The latent heat will cook the octopus and prawns without overdoing it.
Ladle into warm bowls and top with sprigs of basil and cilantro (or chop the sprigs up and sprinkle on top). Serve with crusty baguette (not as weird as you'd think; since Vietnam was colonized by the French they learned some nice baking skills from them). Enjoy with a nice Pinot Gris, which compliments the seafood and cuts the spiciness.
The recipe I promised you
Greek Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms with Rice
20 zucchini blossoms
1 1/2 cups of long grain rice
1 medium onion, grated
3 tomatoes, grated or finely chopped
1/2 bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2 bunch of fresh mint, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
freshly ground black pepper
1-2 teaspoons of olive oil
1 cup of water
1/4 cup of olive oil
If you want you can put 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill and some trim zucchini for flavor
Rinse the zucchini blossoms individually, removing any external green leaves and internal pistil and stamen, using a sharp knife. Take care not to tear the blossoms. Once rinsed, place the bottom of each blossom into the opening of another to prevent from closing, and set aside to drain thoroughly. Pat dry before using.
In a mixing bowl, combine rice, onion, tomatoes, parsley, mint, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Add 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil to help bind and mix thoroughly.
Carefully fill each blossom with 1 teaspoon of the mixture. Fold the open end of the blossom inward and turn underneath, and place in a wide pot or deep skillet. Continue until all blossoms are filled, and placed snugly in a single layer in the pot.
Add 1 cup of water and 1/4 cup of olive oil.
Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes.
I made this thing for a party tonight at home and my coworkers who saw it (I assembled it in the kitchen at work this morning) were jealous so I'm making another one tomorrow to share at the office.
Start with a sourdough boule (I baked it myself because I'm awesome, but you can buy bread at the store like a weakling if you prefer).
Slice it about an inch thick but stop about half an inch from the bottom so the loaf stays in one piece. Now turn it ninety degrees and repeat so it's sliced into one inch squares.
Slice up a brick of cheese (half a pound, more if you want to go all out) really thin, like a quarter of an inch. Stuff the slices into the slits between the squares. Now melt a stick of butter and add stuff to it, like poppy seeds, mashed garlic, sliced green onion, whatever. Drizzle that over everything.
Wrap it up in foil, bake at 350 for 15 minutes, unwrap, bake for another 10.
If you don't devour it while the cheese is still in its liquid phase, you might want to quickly re-slice through the congealed cheese; otherwise it's hard to pull the pieces of bread off.