Sunday, October 30, 2011

Brussels Sprouts Gratin with Shallots and Rosemary

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Remember the Brussels sprouts recipe from the New York Times that I posted a couple of years ago? The same one that got Brussels sprouts haters all over the world, including my daughter, to give them another chance? The same one Reggie D included in his Thanksgiving menu and my friend Silvia  (who doesn't cook) now makes when she is forced to entertain? Well, I think this one is a close second, although I'm sure the diehards will disagree.

The secret, methinks, is shredding the Brussels sprouts.  Somehow that takes away the stigma engraved in our minds from boarding school days and Charles Dickens books.

This rich, creamy side dish is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Brussels sprouts, pan-roasted in brown butter until tender and nutty, are mixed with sweet, earthy Gruyère and topped with crisp breadcrumbs. For a casual dinner, serve it straight from the oven proof skillet after browning the topping in the oven;  although I much prefer to serve and bake in a gratin dish.

I loved it!

Serves 6 to 8.

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs Brussels sprouts, trimmed
2 large shallots, halved
4 Tbs. unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-1/4 cups heavy cream
3-1/4 oz. (1-1/4 cups) finely grated Gruyère
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cayenne
3/4 cup panko
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary

Directions

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. In a food processor fitted with the slicing blade, slice the Brussels sprouts and shallots.

In a 12-inch oven-safe skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Continue to cook the butter until it begins to brown and smell nutty. Set aside 1 Tbs. of the browned butter in a medium bowl.

Add the Brussels sprouts, shallots, 2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper to the pan and toss to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the Brussels sprouts and shallots begin to soften and brown in spots, about 6 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

Meanwhile, in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, combine the cream, Gruyère, nutmeg, cayenne, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Heat until the cheese is melted, whisking occasionally, about 4 minutes. Do not boil.

Add the sauce to the Brussels sprouts, carefully stirring to combine.

Add the Panko, Parmigiano, rosemary, and a pinch of salt to the reserved butter and mix thoroughly.

Top the sprout mixture with the panko mixture.*

Bake until the crumbs are browned and the Brussels sprouts are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. )It tool a little longer for me...more like 25 minutes). Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

*Alternatively, transfer the Brussels sprout mixture to a 12-inch-wide, 1-1/2-inch-deep ceramic baking dish before topping with the panko and baking.

Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Preserved Eggplants With Olives, Capers And Parsley

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What a gorgeous Fall we are having here in North Georgia.  This has always been my most favorite times of the year although, because of the drought, we have not been able to enjoy picnics on the lake, one of our favorite pastimes. 

If you are a football fan, and I"m not,  you are probably out tailgating with friends and family at the numerous college games all over the country. Or just driving around with a picnic lunch in the back seat.  If you are not, there is something wrong with you. Do try to get out there and enjoy this gorgeous weather.  Pretty soon you will be home bound with snow up to your ears and the mother of all cabin fevers.  Remember last winter?

This is one of those recipes that is easy to make and great to have around in case of unexpected guests.  It goes well with the French meatloaf for a picnic or as an appetizer at a tailgating event or a Sunday lunch with friends and family.

Japanese eggplant have thinner skins and a sweeter flavor than their American counterparts.  They are perfect for this recipe, thus, substitutions are not encouraged.

There is no need to peel the skin of Japanese eggplants, as it will soften with cooking. Slicing, placing in a brine solution and draining, as with common eggplant, is also not needed. Simply cut and cook to your liking.

They are available from July until October so go get some and start making a batch.  A great addition served with a crusty baguette at your next tailgate picnic!

This recipe makes one pint.




Ingredients


2 Japanese eggplants (3/4 pound), cut crosswise into 1/2-inch rounds

2 tablespoons fine sea salt

1 cup water

3/4 cup white wine vinegar (7 percent acidity)

1/4 cup dry white wine

2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds

1 garlic clove, gently smashed and peeled

10 pitted green olives

2 teaspoons salt-packed capers, rinsed, soaked in cold water for 10 minutes, then rinsed again

3 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley leaves

1 fresh arbol or small serrano chile

About 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

Put eggplant pieces in a colander set over a bowl. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon salt. Fill a bowl, slightly smaller than colander, with water and place bowl on top of eggplant. Let eggplant stand, covered, at room temperature for 6 hours. (Eggplant will turn brown.) Discard liquid in bowl.

Gently squeeze out any excess water from eggplant. In a large saucepan, combine eggplant, remaining tablespoon salt, 1 cup water, vinegar, wine, coriander and garlic; bring mixture to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with paper towels.

Drain eggplant slices; discard brine. Transfer slices to prepared baking sheet and let drain and cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, finely chop together olives, capers, parsley and chile.

Layer eggplant slices and olive mixture in a clean, dry 1-pint jar, or other container, with a tight-fitting lid. Add just enough oil to cover eggplant, and secure with lid. Preserved eggplant keeps, chilled, for 2 weeks. Bring to room temperature before serving.

La Cucina Italiana

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cinnamon Rolls...And Computer Problems!

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If you are reading this, chances are that you have had computer problems in the past and know exactly what an ordeal that can be.

A couple of nights ago I inadvertedly closed down my laptop before the system had a chance to completely shut down and that's where all the problems started.  Hours with technical support talking to people with foreign accents which is bad enough for someone with English as a mother tongue, but twice as hard for someone whose English is a second language.  Believe me, even though my English is excellent and better perhaps than most native born, when it comes to filtering computereze with an accent, my brain turns into a giant cotton ball and my system shuts down.  I become instantly stupid. 


Hello my name is Kevin how may I help you?

The long and the short of it is I have had to download my system again and have lost all my programs and files, albeit temporarily.  Luckily they are somewhere "in there" and will be restored within the week by the techies at Geek Squad.  So my photos of the cinnamon rolls are there (somewhere) and if you think I am going to bake them again to post a photo you are delusional.

The moral of the story is twofold.  Make sure your system has shut down completely before closing your laptop AND make sure all your programs and files are backed up somewhere not in your computer. For a very reasonable fee, you can now back things into the Cloud through services offered by Geek Squad at Best Buy and the like.  If you do this, they can work on your computer and fix problems directly.  I am seriously thinking of going this route.  Has anybody tried it?

 As to the cinnamon rolls....

There is no better aroma than a pan of these big, puffy rolls baking in the oven, fragrant with cinnamon, brown sugar and orange zest.  Great for breakfast or a snack while you are on hold waiting for Tech Support in Bangalore!


Ingredients:

For the dough:

1 package active dry yeast

3/4 cup milk, warmed (110°F)

1/4 cup granulated sugar

4 eggs

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed

1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into chunks


For the filling:

4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into chunks

2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Finely grated zest of 1 large orange

1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tsp. water


For the cream cheese frosting:

1/2 lb. cream cheese, at room temperature

4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted


Directions:

To make the dough, in the bowl of an electric stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add the granulated sugar, eggs, the 4 1/2 cups flour and the salt. Attach the dough hook and knead on low speed, adding a little more flour if needed, until the ingredients come together. Toss in the butter and continue to knead until the dough is smooth and springy, about 7 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl. Form the dough into a ball, put it in the oiled bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Cut the dough in half.

Roll out 1 dough half into a rectangle about 9 by 14 inches. Spread with half of the butter, then sprinkle evenly with half of the brown sugar, half of the cinnamon and half of the orange zest. Starting at the long side closest to you, roll the rectangle away from you, forming a log. Cut the log crosswise into 8 equal slices. Arrange the slices, cut side down, in half of the prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling ingredients, and arrange the slices in the other half of the pan. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm, draft-free spot until puffy, about 1 hour, or refrigerate overnight, then let stand at room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes before baking.

Preheat an oven to 400°F.

Brush the rolls lightly with the beaten egg mixture. Bake until the rolls are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a roll comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the cream cheese frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, combine the cream cheese, butter and vanilla and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar and continue to beat until thoroughly combined, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. If the consistency is too soft, refrigerate the frosting until it is spreadable, about 15 minutes.

Transfer the pan with the rolls to a wire rack and let cool slightly, then spread the rolls with the frosting while they are still warm. Pull the rolls apart and serve warm. Makes 16 rolls.

Baker’s note: If you like, add 1/3 cup raisins or toasted chopped pecans to the filling. If you prepare these the night before up until the final rise and baking, then all you have to do in the morning is let them come to room temperature and slide them in the oven to bake.


Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Home Baked Comfort, by Kim Laidlaw (Weldon Owen, 2011).




Monday, October 17, 2011

Rustic French Meatloaf

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I have had this recipe tucked away in my files for years and just recently something reminded me of it.  It combines the simplicity of meatloaf with the flavor and depth of a French pâté and goes well paired with buttered boiled potatoes.  Leftover slices naturally make terrific sandwiches, but they’re also wonderful panfried in olive oil. Moreover, it makes an excellent dish, cold or room temperature, for a picnic or tailgating event.

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 cup fine fresh bread crumbs (preferably from a rustic loaf)

1/2 cup whole milk

3/4 cup finely chopped onion

3 large garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 lb chicken livers, separated into lobes, trimmed, and rinsed

3/4 lb ground pork

3/4 lb ground veal

1/4 cup chopped prunes

1/4 cup shelled pistachios

 2 teaspoons thyme leaves

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Accompaniment: Dijon mustard

Directions

•Preheat oven to 475ºF with rack in middle.

•Soak bread crumbs in milk in a small bowl.

•Cook onion, garlic, and 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper in oil in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Cool slightly.

•Purée livers in a blender, then transfer to a large bowl. Add pork, veal, prunes, pistachios (if using), thyme, eggs, bread-crumb mixture, onion mixture, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper and gently mix with your hands until just combined.

•Transfer meatloaf mixture to an 8 1/2- by 4 1/2-inch glass loaf pan (see cooks’ note, below) and bake, covered with foil, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 165ºF, 50 to 55 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes. Cover top of meatloaf with parsley before slicing.

Cooks’ note: You can use a metal loaf pan, but the meatloaf will take about 15 minutes longer to cook.

Serve With: buttered boiled potatoes

Recipe by Kay Chun for Gourmet
Photograph by Romulo Yanes




Thursday, October 13, 2011

Buffet Menu Served At The Wedding Of The Duchess Of Alba

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This past 5th of October, the Duchess Of Alba, Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart and Silva, married Alfonso Diez at the Duenas Palace in Seville.  All of you, I'm sure, know the story.  She is 85, he is... well, a bit younger.  She is very rich... he is not.  She is a real trip.



What you didn't know, that is until now, is what the guests were served after the ceremony

It was a buffet served around the garden of the palace.  Here's the food.




Cold Plates 


- Gazpacho rebujito con hierbabuena
Gazpacho with Mint 

- Tortilla Española
Spanish tortilla 

- Ensalada de Nuyes con Angulas y Caviar
Salad of Nueyes & caviar


Hot Plates 


- Arroz a la provenzal acompañado con gambas blancas de Huelva y langosta en salsa americana
Provencal Rice with Shrimp and Lobster in American Sauce

- Tournedó de Ternera con Salsa Bearnesa
Tournedos Of Beef with Bernaise Sauce 


Sides

Pimientos de Padrón
Red Pimientos from Padron 

Cebollitas Francesas
French small onions 

Patatas Estilo Ducal
Potatoes Ducal Style



- Ave al limón en su jugo con verdura variada a la plancha
Grilled Lemon Chicken with vegetables


- Ensalada Mimosa
Mimosa Salad 


Desserts 

- Tocino de coco
Coconut Custard 

- Pastel de almendras con salsa de leche condensada
Almond Pie With Condensed Milk Sauce (??!) 

- Bomba de chocolate con salsa de turrón caliente
Chocolate Bombe With Warm Turron Sauce



Source and Photos Hola

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pork Chops Shepherd Style

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When you get to be an old timer in the kitchen like me, you can tell by osmosis who is who in the world of food blogging.  Yes, there are beautiful sites with gorgeous pictures but,  frankly, they are more for show than substance.  On the other hand, there are some where the photos may not be as professional (who wants the food to get cold!) but where you know the recipe they are sharing will be great.  Most of them, like me, have a good nose for good recipes from other sources.  They may tweak here and there but why fool around with perfection.

To name a few of my favorite real cooks, there is Martha's Lines From Linderhof, Penny's Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen and Carolyn's A Southener's Notebook.  Both Carolyn and Penny are friends of Lindaraxa's country blog My Kitchen By The Lake.  Martha is a friend of both and her baking is to die for!

Last week I noticed that Carolyn had posted a recipe from one of my favorite Italian cooks, Lidia Bastianich.  When I lived in New York,  I used to go to her restaurant, Felidia's,  for one of the best Italian meals in town.  Later on she started her own show on PBS and I was just transfixed.  Everything I tried was not only good, it was spectacular.

This recipe is probably one of the best pork chop recipes I have ever tasted.  The three of us, including my daughter and my favorite neighbor,  were just in awe of what we were eating.  No words can express how good this recipe was.  Like Carolyn, I served them with artisanal egg noodles made in Tuscany, something I have been keeping for a special occasion, and a simple Italian salad.  Tiramisu for dessert. I am still marvelling at the combination.

Don't make any substitutions.  I went to the local deli and asked them to cut the provolone in 1/8 in slices which I lay on top of the chops.

This is nirvana.  A simple, no fuss dish that is out of this world and perfect for a Sunday family dinner;  but do get the right ingredients and make no substitutions.  By the way, as there were only three of us, I halved the recipe.

Carolyn, I owe you one.  In the meantime, you might want to try the recipe she cooked for the Pope when he came to this country...Goulash

Pork Chops Shepherd-Style

Serves 6

Ingredients

6 bone-in pork loin chops, about 1 inch thick, 6 to 8 ounces each

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2cup all-purpose flour, for dredging

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced (about 4 cups)

3 plump garlic cloves, sliced

6-ounce chunk provola or provolone, preferably imported from Italy

1 cup white wine

1/3 cup grated pecorino

Recommended Equipment: A heavy-bottomed ovenproof skillet or saute' pan, 12-inch diameter or wider.


Method

Trim excess fat from the pork chops, leaving only a thin layer on the edges. Season both sides of the chops with 1 teaspoon of the salt. Spread the flour on a plate, and dredge the chops, lightly coating both sides.

Meanwhile, pour the olive oil in the skillet, and set it over medium heat. Shake excess flour from the chops, and lay them all in the skillet in one layer (depending on the size of your pan, you may have to snuggle them in). Gently brown the pork on the first side, about 4 minutes; turn the chops over and brown the second side, another 4 minutes. Remove the chops to a plate and keep warm.

Scatter the onions and garlic in the skillet, stir them around the pan, season with the remaining salt, and cover. Cook the onions slowly, stirring occasionally, and scraping the pan bottom to mix the crusty browned bits with the onion juices.

Meanwhile, if you'll be finishing the dish right away, set a rack in the middle of the oven and heat it to 400*. Slice the provola in 6 or more thick slices about the size of the pork chops.

After the onions have cooked for 15 minutes or so, and are quite tender and colored with the pan scrapings, uncover, and push them all to one side of the skillet. Lay the pork chops back in, one at a time, spooning a layer of soft onions on the top of each chop. When they're all in the pan, lay the provola slices over the onions.

Raise the heat, and when the meat is sizzling again, pour the wine into the skillet (in the spaces between the chops, not over them). Swirl the pan so the wine flows all through it, and bring to a boil. Sprinkle about a tablespoon of pecorino on each chop, then carefully move the skillet from the stove to the oven.



Bake the chops for 10 minutes or so, until the cheese toppings are bubbly and crusty. Carefully remove the skillet from the oven, and let the chops rest in it for a few minutes. To serve, lift out each chop with a spatula, keeping the cheese topping intact, set it on a dinner plate, and spoon some of the skillet juices and onions around it.






Friday, October 7, 2011

Gnocchi Alla Romana

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Unlike the gnocchi which you are most familiar with and which is commonly made with potatoes Gnocchi Alla Romana is made with semolina flour.  In Marcella Hazan’s “The Classic Italian Cookbook,” she mentions that this dish can be traced back directly to Imperial Rome. Apicius, the Roman gourmet who lived during the 1st century, had a recipe for gnocchi made of semolina exactly like these, then fried and served with honey. These are made the same way, but baked in the oven with freshly grated parmesan cheese and butter and are as light as can be.

It makes for a great first course or primi after which you can serve any meat or fowl.  I actually like it the way it was suggested in Williams Sonoma's site, accompanied by Roman Style meatballs.

The entire dish can be made ahead up to 2 days, before baking, if it is refrigerated and covered with plastic wrap.


Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

•1 cup semolina

•1 quart (1 liter) milk

•1 brimming cup grated Parmigiano plus more for sprinkling over

•7 TBs unsalted butter

•2-3 egg yolks

•Salt

Preparation:

Bring the milk to a boil, and gradually stir in the semolina, stirring constantly to prevent lumps and keep the mixture from sticking to the pot. The mixture will become quite thick; continue cooking and stirring for about 20 minutes, and remove the pot from the fire. Beat the yolks with a little more milk, and add them to the semolina, together with 2/3 cup of the cheese,  2 TB butter, and a pinch of salt. Mix well and spread the mixture a little less than a half an inch thick  on your work surface.

Let the semolina cool for 2 hours, and with a biscuit cutter cut it into rounds.

Butter a square pan and layer the disks in it, overlapping like roof tiles.  spread a little more grated cheese between the layers (there should be 3-4). When all the rounds have been used up, dot the gnocchi with the remaining butter and add the rest of the grated cheese. Use more cheese if you need to.

Bake the gnocchi 15 minutes in a hot (400 F or 200 C) oven, until golden, and serve at once. If a crust hasnt formed, raise the temperature to 500 and bake another 5 minutes.

Let rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

Adapted from Marcella Hazan

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

RIP Steve Jobs- The Greatest Visionary Of Our Time

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"The only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle"  Steve Jobs

Apple founder Steve Jobs died tonight at age 56 after a long fight with pancreatic cancer. He was the greatest mind of our generation.  There a very few people who have made an impact on our lives the way he did.  May he rest in peace.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Guess Who's Coming For Lunch...

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I guess Fall is the time of the year to entertain distinguished guests.  Almost a year ago, on a visit to New York City, I had the pleasure of cooking for my dearest friend Reggie Darling. This year, I am thrilled to be making lunch this Sunday for another dear friend, Blue from The Blue Remembered Hills,  a popular blog here in Atlanta.  Blue, the Celt and I have been meeting for dinners in several restaurants in Atlanta but this will be the first time that both of them will be entertained by Lindaraxa at her home.

Believe it or not, it is difficult to choose a menu for first time guests, particularly when they are readers of your blog.  So many things to choose from...that's what usually drives me crazy.  In Reggie's case I narrowed it down to the fact that he was coming back from a weekend at Darlington Hall and New Yorkers love nothing more than comfort food on a Sunday night.  What better than  lasagna bolognese and apple crisp for dessert.  A strange combination but apples were in season.

This time I asked the guests to choose a menu.  French, Italian, German or Cuban.  It never fails that they will opt for Cuban and seeing that it's Sunday lunch and not dinner it is the perfect choice.  So I sent another email...picadillo or pork and black beans?  They replied, both! Well, unless it's the last dinner or you are angling for cardiac arrest both is not an option.  So after much soul searching and back and forth consultations amongst each other they chose the pork and black beans.  So here's the menu:




A Cuban Lunch At The Lake

Chorizo in Sherry And Onions
Manchego Cheese
Yucca Chips

Black Beans and White Rice
Baked Plantains with Brown Sugar, Cinnamon and Sherry

Green Salad

Baked Meringues

Cuban Coffee

It is going to be a glorious day tomorrow with temperatures in the 60's and no clouds. You couldn't ask for more. Everything is ready and all that is left is a bath for Lucy, the sous chef, to meet her Scottish friends!

Who? Me? Bath? WHY???!!
 

Plates from Gien, France

photos Lindaraxa

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