Monday, August 31, 2009

Stuffed Tomatoes
This hasn't been the best year for local tomatoes, too cold and wet. But even in an off year, there are some tasty morsels to be found out there. This recipe will stuff about 4 medium tomatoes.
4 Tomatoes, scooped out, salted and left to drain upside down for 1/2 hour.
2 Tablespoons minced anchovy fillet
2 Tablespoons minced garlic
2 Tablespoons minced shallot
2 Tablespoons chopped capers
1/4 cup chopped sundried tomatoes
1/3 cup olive oil-plus extra for drizzling
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup minced fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup grated parmesan, plus more for topping
Salt and pepper
Combine all of the ingredients and stuff the tomatoes.
Place the tomatoes in a baking dish and drizzle with some extra olive oil, top with some extra grated cheese and bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Brasied Leeks with Tomato Vinaigrette

This made a lovely salad last week. I braised the leeks, and served them at room temperature over salad greens topped with fresh tomato vinaigrette. The leeks are nice on their own served hot as a side dish with or without the tomato vinaigrette.

For the leeks:
4 leeks, trimmed and cleaned, cut in half lengthwise
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 cup chicken stock

In a flame proof casserole brown the leeks in the olive oil, cut side down.

Turn the leeks over, season with the salt and pepper and pour the chicken stock over them.

Place the casserole in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the leeks are tender.

Let the leeks cool to room temperature and place on a bed of salad greens and top with Tomato Vinaigrette.

For the Vinaigrette:
1 large tomato peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons of white wine or champagne vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons fresh Basil chiffonade
Salt and pepper

Combine all of the ingredients and let sit 1/2 before using.

More Pickles
I've been blessed with lots of neighborhood gardeners leaving extra vegetables at my door. Pickling has always been a way of managing the abundance of harvest. Here I pickled a combination of cherry tomatoes, carrots, whole garlic cloves, red onion, cucumber, and jalapeno slices (I leave the seeds in for extra spiciness), it hasn't even cured totally yet and is already so spicy and good. I put out a small bowl to enjoy with cheeses, fruit, and cocktails.
about 4 cups of vegetables
1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar
1/4 cup water (optional, depending on the acidity of your vinegar)
1 cup sugar
Salt and pepper
Stir up the vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Taste for the balance you like it should be a combination of sweet-salty-sour. Remember your pickling solution should be pretty assertive because when you add the vegetables, it will become a little diluted.
Toss in the vegetables and let sit overnight in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Henry Bain's Burger

This is an unusual steak sauce from Louisville's elite Pendennis Club. Henry Bain was the head waiter for years at the club beginning back in 1880, and he invented the recipe. I have used it for steaks, venison, and duck. Here I spooned it over a burger and served it with the Zuni Zuchinni pickles from my previous post.
1/2 cup chili sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup A-1 Steak sauce
1/2 cup worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups chutney-peach was probably the original, but any flavor will work-I used Major Grey
2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Combine all of the ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes over low heat. This keeps for several weeks in the refrigerator.

Zuni Cafe Zuchinni Pickle
Here is a pickle recipe from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rogers (she's from St Louis by the way). Zuni Cafe is one of the legendary restaurants of San Francisco. Judy credits both Chef Mark Miller and "The Joy of Cooking" as the genesis of the recipe. It starts with a cold brine.
1 pound zuchinni (medium sized)
1 small yellow onion
2 tablespoons of salt
Thinly slice the zuchinni and onion on a mandoline
Toss the slices with the salt, add ice and water to cover and let sit for 1 hour
Drain and dry the slices with toweling
For the brine:
2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon ground tumeric
Combine the brine ingredients and stir until the spices and sugar are dissolved.
Add the zuchinni and onion slices.
Judy cooks the brine for 3 minutes and cools it befor she adds the vegetables, but I omitted that step.
The color intensifies as the pickles age.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Summer Vegetable Pasta and Health Department Visit
We had an interesting inspection from the health department last week. Our score 96 out of 100-not perfect but ok. One unusual aspect was that it occured at 5:00 PM just as we opened which can often be a stressful 10 or 15 minutes without an inspector watching and checking temperatures. Anyone who has studied psychology will recognize the phonema as "Fixed Interval Scallop"-faced with a set of tasks and a deadline activity builds to a crescendo. Of course we face that deadline every night at opening. And even more unusual, the inspectator stayed for dinner. I have never experienced one of my inspectors eating in the place they inspect. I feel pretty good about that.
This vegetable pasta has nothing to do with the Health Department, but I just wanted to brag about it a little. This is just basically alot of vegetables simmered with tomatoes, wine, and some herbs at the end.
1/4 pound fresh green beans, cut into 1" pieces
1/4 pound zuchinni
1/4 pound yellow squash
1/2 red pepper diced
1/4 pound carrot sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
3 or 4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 pounds plum tomatoes, peeled and seeded
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 cups white wine
Salt and pepper
Fresh basil and oregano
I begin by stewing the vegetables in the oil over low heat for 15 minutes, until they begin to carmelize and take on some color.
Add the tomato paste and let it btown slightly.
Add the tomatoes and wine and let the sauce simmer for 15 to 20 minutes-just until the vegetables are tender, but not cooked to mush.
Taste for dalt and pepper, add some fresh herbs. Serve over noodles with some fresh herbs and parmesan cheese. Makes a big batch, so freeze some for winter.

Roasted Pork Loin with Marsala Wine Sauce
I made this dish for a wedding rehearsal dinner last weekend. It was really exceptional. First I bought the loin at Schubert's, a local packing plant in Millstadt. His products are locally grown on small farms, so finding a good pork product is three quarters of the battle, and grocery store pork usually doesn't measure up to a good local butcher.
For the pork:
1 whole boneless brined pork loin-Mine were about 6 pounds each, but you can buy smaller ones).
Salt and pepper to generously cover the roast
Place the roast fat side up on a roasting rack and season with the salt and pepper.
Many cooks are often intimidated by roasting large pieces of meat, but this is really one of the easiest. First, I brined the loins (I roasted two loins for 40 people-there was a second fish entree as well) over night in a solution of 1/2 cup salt, 1/2 cup sugar mixed with 1 gallon of water. Brining always ensures a juicy roast. I like to start roasting at a high temperature 450 degrees for ten minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees and cook to an internal temperature of 155. Start temping the roast after 30 minutes it will probably take from 45 minutes to just over an hour depending on the size of your roast, a good thermometer is the best way to judge for doneness. Remove the pork from the oven and let the roast rest for at least 8 to 10 minutes before carving. The internal temperature will continue to rise, hopefully not too much above 160 degrees.
Slice and serve with Marsala Wine Sauce.
For the Marsala Wine sauce:
3 cups of really rich chicken stock
1/2 cup minced shallot
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 cups sweet Marsala wine-it's important to find a good imported one I think
Salt and pepper
Corn starch slurry to thicken about 3 tablespoons of cornstarch dissolved in 1/2 cup cold water.
Bring the stock, shallot, mushrooms, and wine to the boil, simmer for about 10 minutes, season, and thicken the sauce with the slurry.
This is a really simple voluptuous sauce, but it will only be as good as the stock you make and the wine you purchase-no skimping.