Monday, April 19, 2010

New Toys for More Playing With My Food

I purchased a couple of lights and a backdrop sweep. It will be fun to begin playing with the background colors and how the food bounces off it. Here is one of my first attempts. I photographed a glass bowl of pea shoots against a brilliant yellow back ground.

Egg Foo Yong

Growing up in small town Mid-America in the 60's, Chinese food was the most exotic food we knew. My family really enjoyed it when we made the 45 mile trek to Peoria, where the closest Chinese restaurant was located. My mom would always bring home some Chinese tea bags, because she said "It's always the best"-and, as usual, she was right. Egg Foo Yong is one of those Americanised Chinese dishes i really like. I think it makes a really elegant Sunday breakfast.

Egg Foo Yong is really just an unrolled omlet with bits of vegetabes and meat stirred in, and topped with a brown sauce. I used some pea shoots, bean sprouts, scallion, and left over lamb chop. Garlic, ginger, sesame, sherry, and soy sauce are always part of my Chinese cooking. I topped my eggs with a brown sauce made of chicken broth with the afore mentioned flavors and seasonings. I used some oyster mushrooms in the sauce as well, Shiitake would have been more appropriate, but they are my least favorite mushroom-I eat them once in a while, but I prefer these oyster mushrooms.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Persian Lamb Chops with Sour Cherry Rice
While putting together Easter and Mother's Day menus, I came across this dish posted by "Hummingbird" on one of the eGullet forums. I'll be changing the lamb to pork tenderloins for my Mother's Day menu. Despite growing some terrific lamb here in the Mid-west, Mid-westerners don't consume much of it. Likewise, in Iran, where this dish would have originally developed, no one would ever make it with pork. I also will not be calling the dish Persian-after all we are practically at war with these people. The dish will be retitled "Cherry Wine glazed Pork Tenderloin" (because I'm adding cherry wine to the sauce) with cherry rice pilaf. Or maybe I should drop the pilaf part and just call it cherry rice-some people might think pilaf is "too French sounding" . Whatever it ends up being called, it is quite a savorous combination of vittles.
This recipe calls for sour or tart cherries-not the sweet ones-canned or jarred in juice or light syrup.
1 cup yogurt
1/4 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
Freshly ground black pepper
Combine all of the ingredients and marinate the chops a couple of hours or overnight. Hummingbird used leg of lamb, not chops, and she roasted it rather than grill it. This is enough marinade to cover 8 thick cut chops or a leg of lamb.
I grilled the chops over a medium fire. You have to be careful of flare-ups and not getting the fire too hot as the honey in the marinade burns easily.
Cherry Rice
1/4 cup carrots, small dice
1/4 cup shallot, small dice
1/4 cup celery, small dice
1/2 cup sour cherries, drained
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups Jasmin rice
3 cups of water
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup chopped pistachios
Melt the butter in a Dutch oven with a tight fitting lid, abd saute the vegetables and cherries for about 5 minutes until they are soft, but not browned.
Add the rice and stir to thoroughly combine, continue to cook until the rice becomes opaque and milky-two to three minutes longer.
Add the water and seasoning and bring the pot to the boil, cover and place in a 350 degree pre-heated oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender and fluffy.
Top with chopped pistachios and serve.
Cherry Wine Glaze
2 Tablespoons shallots, minced
1/2 cup sour cherries, drained
1/2 cup cherry juice
1 cup cherry wine
1/2 cup butter, cut into small cubes
In a saute pan, bring the shallots, cherries, juice, and wine to the boil, and reduce until the liquid is syrupy, mount the glaze with the butter and serve-this glaze does not hold, serve immediately.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Roast Chicken with Fennel Confit
I took my fennel confit recipe and added some santa grape tomatoes to it and topped with some chicken, placed it in a roasting pan with some par-boiled rice and made a sort of one dish casserole. First I made the confit and parboiled the rice for about 5 minutes. I layered the confit on half the bottom of a pyrex baking dish, on the other half I layered the rice. I sauteed the chicken in a very hot saute pan only until the skin was browned. I placed the chicken over the confit and rice in the baking dish and added some chicken stock. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Uncover and bake further until the chicken is crisped again and the rice is tender-add more stock if necessary.
Fennel Confit
1 pound fresh fennel, thinly sliced crosswise
5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
Juice and zest of one orange
Pinch of saffron
1 pint of Santa grape tomatoes
Chopped fresh Cilantro
Salt and pepper
Saute the fennel and garlic in the oil for about 5 minutes, the vegetables should be slightly soft, but not browned.
Stir in the raisins, coriander, juice, zest, and saffron. Stir-cook for another 2 minutes. Taste for the seasoning and add the grape tomatoes. Serve at room temperature, or proceed with the rest of the recipe and bake with the rice and chicken in a casserole. This is really good with any roast chicken or also with fish. Garnish with fresh Cilantro

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Scallops with Papaya, Avocado, and Arugula.

I was developing this dish for a fish class at The Kitchen Conservatory that never never quite got off the ground. I really enjoyed the vibrant colors and the clean sweet flavors of the scallops and fruit snapped with the acidity of the vinaigrette and the bitter greens. I will definitely file this away for another day.
1 pound of scallops (these were bay, but sea scallops would work as well)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 papaya, peeled, seeded, and cut into strips, tossed with fresh lime juice
1 avocado, peeled, cut into strips, tossed with fresh lime juice
1 small red onion, cut into thin rings and soaked in ice water to tame
Fresh lime juice
5 cups baby Arugula
In a very hot saute pan, briefly sear the scallops in the oil, remove from the pan and toss with some of the lime juice, hold until you are ready to assemble the salad.
Spicy Orange Vinaigrette
1 Tablespoon of Champage or white wine vinegar
Zest and juice of one orange
2 Tablespoons of fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 Tablespoons chopped Cilantro
1 hot chili, seeded and minced
1/2 cup fruity olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine vinaigrette ingredients and mix well.
Lay the arugula on the bottom of a serving platter.
Arrange the scallops, papaya, avocado, and oinion slices over the arugula.
Drizzle with the vinaigrette and garnish with the Cilantro.