Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Greek Chicken with Okra-Kotopoulo Me Bamies

I read about this dish on a blog about Greek food called Kalofagas. The writer is a Greek-Canadian who visited his mother in Greece this summer, and this is one of the dishes she made with okra and tomatoes from her garden. It just seems about perfect for this time of year, very earthy and homey for these early Fall evenings. Although the garden tomatoes are gone, I used a high quality canned San Marzano tomato from Italy.

I know alot of you don't care for okra because of the slime factor, but if you choose small okra pods, and do not cut into them this problem is minimalised. I added some baby rainbow potatoes (red, yellow, and purple) that wasn't in his recipe, rice or orzo would also be tasty. You can read his charming blog and get the recipe here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Poached Fluke with Shellfish and Preserved Lemon

Poached dishes don't always sound appetizing-something about "boiled food"-but in fact they are complex and full of delicate flavor, especially when the poaching liquid is incorporated into a sauce that accompanies it. Poaching is not really boiling at all because the liquid should never boil, but just barely simmer, so that the food you're cooking has time to absorb some of the flavorfull poaching liquid as well as leaving their own flavors behind. It all starts with making a flavorful court-bouillon.

2 cups of water
1 cup white wine
1 onion, chopped,
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
bay leaf
1 teaspoon whole cloves
sprig of fresh thyme

Simmer the ingredients for 1/2 hour, strain the vegetables and spices out, and use this liquid to poach the fish and shellfish. I had some fluke, bay scallops, and mussels. The more varieties of fish and shellfish the better.

In dishes like this, I like to poach everything separately. Once all of the fish and shellfish have been poached, you can start the sauce.

1 cup court-bouillon
2 cups heavy cream
1 egg yolk
1 cup cooked fresh corn, scraped from the cob, scrape the corn "milk" into the sauce
1 quarter of preserved lemon, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and cayenne pepper to taste
Chopped fresh parsley and chives for garnish

Reduce the court-bouillon and cream by half.

Temper the egg yolk with the hot cream mixture and add it to the sauce, whisk thoroughly, at this point, do not let the mixture boil or the egg will cook too much and turned into scrambled eggs.

Add the lemon, juice, salt, and pepper and taste for seasoning-rember you are going to be adding all that fish and corn, so you can slightly overseason.

Once the flavors are just right, add the corn, fish, and shellfish to the sauce and just heat through-remember everything is already cooked.

Ladle into large soup plates and garnish with the parley and chives.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Raspberry Coffee Cake

This is the first morning in a long time that it has been cool enough to turn on the oven and bake something. I found this really simple recipe online from chef Stephanie Izard-a "TopChef" winner. I have never seen a "Top Chef" show, so I don't know what her performance on that show was, but it must have been pretty good, as she won the competition. The coffee cake was only ok, not spectacular, but it was nice to have something just out of my own oven. It is a very straightforward and easy recipe-maybe too easy. If I make this again I will add some things like vanilla, lemon or orange zest-maybe some nutmeg or ground cloves.

Get the recipe here, there is a vidoe of Stephanie making this for a TV show.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Eggplant, Pesto and Mozzarella Napoleons

This should be my Summer of the eggplant, I've made so many eggplant dishes this year. I don't always have time to get all the recipes written, pictures taken etc to write a blog post about them. Here is one of them, it is a dish I will be using at Kitchen Conservatory later this week. At Kitchen Conservatory I will be using the dish as a starter course for a late summer Italian dinner. In this photo, I placed the Napoleon on top of some Angelhair pasta to make a large pasta dinner.

I admit I chose a pretty affected name for this dish, a Napoleon usually means layers of crisp puff pastry with pastry cream and fruit fillings with some sort of glaze over the top. Here layers of grilled eggplant are spread with pesto and layers of fresh mozzarella and glazed with roasted tomatoes and Balsamic vinaigrette. So if my pretentious name puts you off, just retitle the dish eggplant, pesto, and mozzarella stacks-but do try it because it is rich and tasty, but I still think Napoleon sounds sexier than Stacks-it's really tough being one of those "elitists" everyone seems to hate.

1 eggplant
1 pound fresh mozzarella
Fresh basil pesto
Roasted tomato vinaigrette

Slice eggplant into 1/4 inch slices.
Salt the slices and allow them to sit 1/2 hour, rinse well and dry with toweling.
Brush both sides of eggplant slices with olive oil and grill 1 to 2 minutes per side.
Spread 1 teaspoon of pesto onto an eggplant slice, top with a thin slice of mozzarella cheese, and another teaspoon of pesto; repeat until you have stacks of three eggplant slices each.
Place the Napoleons in a 350 degree pre-heated oven just to slightly melt and meld the cheese.
To serve:Spoon a couple of tomato wedges and the Balsamic vinaigrette over the Napoleons. Here I served the Napoleons over angelhair pasta, but you could omit the pasta and place it on some salad greens or just serve it on its own.


2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed

3 large cloves of garlic

1/2 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

1/2 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor, pulse the leaves, garlic, nuts, and cheese until a crumbly coarse mixture develops. Drizzle in the oilve oil slowly, continually pulsing the machine-I like a chunky pesto. Season with salt and pepper.

Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette

4 Roma tomatoes, quartered

1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar (optional, but I like my vinaigrette slightly sweet, if you want a totally tart vinaigrette, omit sugar).

Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh thyme

1/2 cup olive oil

Place the tomatoes in a baking dish, cutside up, season the cut sides with the sugar, salt, and pepper. Strew fresh thyme over the seasoned tomatoes, drizzle the Balsamic over the tomatoes, finally drizzle the olive oil over them.

Roast the tomatoes in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Tomato Chutney

I was gifted with an abundance of tomatoes from my uncle's garden this past week-end. This is a really fast and easy condiment to put up. I used a recipe from Barbara Pleasant at Growveg Website, the recipe can be found here.

It is really excellent spooned along side roasts, grilled and smoked meats, or it can be one of the sides to a curry dinner. Chutney makes an unusual garnish to a cheese platter, and it makes a super quick hors de ouevre when spooned over cream cheese and served with crackers.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Stuffed Squid and Pan-fried Pork Dumplings
This started with some squid left from Saturday night's appetizer special, that I wanted to use. It wouldn't last into next week, so I decided to bring it home and stuff it. It is sort of a combination of Thai and Viet Namese recipes. I should also tell you there are alot of Italian-style recipes for stuffed squid. After stuffing the squid there was alot of the pork mixture left, so I just wrapped them up in won tons and froze them, of course I made a few to taste.
Pork and shrimp stuffing for squid and wontons:
1 pound ground pork
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined, and minced coarsely
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 scallion, minced
1 teaspoon Asain chili paste
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon sherry or mirin
2 tablespoons minced garlic

Combine all of the ingredients and mix well
I prefer small tubes of squid to stuff, just put a couple tablespoons of filling inside the tubes-do not overstuff as the stuffing expands and the squid shrinks. Secure the opening with a tooth pik.
I chose to make a Thai curry sauce for the squid and served some rice as well.
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
2 Tablespoons minced ginger
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 cup minced shallot
1 teaspoon Asian chili paste
1 Tablespoon red curry paste
Briefly saute the squid in a saute pan with a small amount of oil, about 1 minute on each side.
Remove the squid and add the ginger, garlic, shallot, chili paste, and curry paste, stir cook briefly and add the coconut milk.
Bring the coconut mixture to the boil and reduce the heat to a low simmer. Add the squid to the curry sauce and simmer for about 20 minutes, turning the squid half way through.
Top with some chopped nuts and fresh basil.
My method for pan-frying dumplings:
I pan-fried the dumplings, they could have been steamed if you prefer. To pan fry you need a saute pan with a tight fitting lid. First coat the bottom of the pan with a bit of oil, when the pan is hot, place the dumpling in the pan and let the bottom brown, add 1/2 cup water and quickly secure the lid. Let the dumplings steam cook for about 2 minutes. Remove the lid and let the water evaporate. Continue to cook until the dumplings begin to sizzle and brown. Any Asain dipping sauce would be appropriate.