People think slow cookers are boring. And people think brown ales are boring. Sorry to disappoint the preconceptions. Tonight I served a chicken and sweet potato stew along with a great $12 Malbec. The stew is super easy all I did was cube up sweet potato, red potato, half an onion, carrots and two boneless chicken breasts. Over that goes a 28oz can of whole stewed tomato (hand crushed) and a cup of chicken broth. Some white pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon finish off the flavor. Dessert was a Founders Brewing Sumatra Mountain. Their imperial brown ale made with coffee. Great way to start off Memorial Day weekend.
I fixed a lot of good meals during Annie's visit in April, but I think this one was the best. I found some wonderful fresh halibut at Whole Foods along with some purple potatoes. Jewel had zucc's on sale along with a white eggplant. The halibut was treated to an egg wash and then a coating of bread crumbs mixed with chopped sage and tarragon, then deep fried in peanut oil. The veggies were done with sea salt and white pepper. The purple potatoes were boiled and then pressed with a ricer along with butter.
We splurged on a 2010 Barolo and I learned something frightening. Women will tell you the weirdest things if they down a bottle of Barolo.
This was totally tasty and one of the best salads I have made. I started out making a type of walnut praline with cayenne pepper, brown sugar, some other spices and butter. While that was happening I roasted my beets in the oven until tender. This was placed over a bed of spinach and arugula with some goat cheese. It disappeared way too quickly for the amount of time it took to make.
Sometimes you just want a simple fish dish where the flavor of the fish comes through clear and clean. So last night I sautéed a catfish fillet in olive oil with onion, bell pepper, tomato and capers. Seasoning is sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. It is a super light way to cook catfish and the flavor is excellent.
The vegetables were prepared with a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis that is really, really good. I change some things up by replacing the yam and potato with slices of sweet potato. The layers of sweet potato, red bell pepper, carrots, onion, zucchini and tomato are all covered with bread crumbs and freshly grated romano cheese. I go light on the cheese and bread crumbs to keep it healthy.
I have been making this salad since I was in my 20's. It comes from an old Sunset Southwest Cookbook that has been a mainstay in my kitchen for a long time. It has a lot of great recipes that I used when living in Arizona.
The key to this salad is the cumin vinaigrette. There is something about how it works with the sugar and salt to make this one of the most awesome salads ever. A girl once told me she could live off of this dish and nothing else :). I put it together again a few weeks ago and it turned out great as usual.
While cruising the Whole Foods in Schaumburg I found a nice deal on organic leg of lamb. I have really been into Indian food lately, but I want something that has those flavors and is cooked in a healthy way. To that end I decided to take this boneless leg of lamb and rub it in garam marsala, thyme, white pepper and kosher salt along with olive oil. Then I seared that nicely brown all the way around and put it in the crock pot. Then a nice layer of finely minced onion and celery. But the best part is cooking up a big mess of hash browns and covering everything with that. Some bell pepper and diced carrots and cook for 7 hours on low. I ended up adding in little vegetable stock to get the liquid where I wanted. About one hour or maybe a little more before I prepared mustard and collard greens very simply with a veggie stock, kosher salt and pepper.
I wanted to make a special dinner for Annie this past week that would match well with a bottle of Rodney Strong Pinot Noir that we had picked up in California. I knew I wanted to do beef, but I wanted to do something with smaller portions than in the past. For me it is becoming more and more about plating a dinner properly without making it overwhelming and huge. I grilled a filet mignon with ground cumin and other spices that was sliced thin. The sweet potatoes were boiled and then mashed with butter, cinnamon and an organic comb honey. The purple carrots were interesting to look at and were sautéed with olive oil and Spanish onion. It was really an excellent meal and I was happy with the presentation.
A friend of mine who is a trained chef talked to me about how to do pretzels. He was the one who introduced me to food-grade lye and explained how it interacts with the dough. I know there are other ways to make pretzels, but there is nothing like using lye which is the traditional way of making pretzels. You have to be careful and wear gloves and eye protection is not a bad idea either. But the main thing is to remember to add lye to the water - NOT water to the lye. It will generate significant heat, but a plastic container is fine. It did not harm my container, but oddly enough it did discolor my baking sheets. Nothing damaging, but certainly visible.
I think the sun thawing out the snow caused me to suddenly think it was summer. That and I had been promising myself to work on some varieties of lemonade since December. A lot of times in a restaurant I will order a lemonade, especially if they have an interesting variety. Up until now I really had no idea what went into making lemonade. Unfortunately I now know how much sugar is in a glass, so I have to be careful about drinking too much of it. Essentially the recipe for basic lemonade is nothing more than a watered down sweet and sour mix.
I tried to incorporate a trick to bring out a really lemony flavor by boiling the rinds of one lemon cut very thin for a few minutes and then adding in the sugar to liquefy
- 2 cups (475 ml) of juice (about 12 lemons), this should be strained to remove any heavy pulp.
- The rind of one lemon cut into thin strips.
- 2 cups (approximately 400 grams) of sugar
- 4 cups (950 ml) purified water
The trick is to place the rinds in the 4 cups of water and bring it to a low boil, and covered. This does two things, it gives you the fastest boil time possible, and it keeps the aroma and flavoring from the rinds inside the pot. It cannot boil for very long. It is important to quickly stir the sugar into the water while it is still just barely boiling and the instant it is completely dissolved, turn off the heat. Place it to the side and let it cool completely. Then strain it into the container you will use for the lemonade. It should be almost clear, with no particles or debris. Then stir in the 2 cups of lemon juice. Taste it, sometimes you will need to add some water to balance the flavors. This can be stored in the refrigerator for a week, but I never like to keep it longer then 4 days at the most.
From this basic lemonade all things are possible. You can juice strawberries and mix that 1/2 - 1/2 to create amazing strawberry lemonade. You can make blueberry lemonade and kiwi lemonade too like I show here. There are many possibilities, I just wish it was July so I could enjoy this in the hot summer sun.
I wanted to use the last of the meat in my freezer and one of the things left was a turkey breast. In order to prepare the bird for roasting I ran 4 cloves of garlic and 4 sprigs of rosemary through the chopper, and then added 2.5 sticks of room temp unsalted butter. This was all blended and then stuffed underneath the skin. After that I sprinkled the whole thing with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. The oven temp was set at 325F and I waited for the meat thermometer to hit 170 (about 3.5 hours). The bird was incredibly moist and absolutely perfect. This is easy and a great dish I will do again in the future.