Saturday, July 31, 2010

Tapioca Pearls, Rose Water, & Vanilla Bean Infused Cream Brulee

I am extremely stoked about this project. Tanantha is a creative, smart, inquisitive cook; she is the perfect partner for this endeavor. We took a single ingredient, Rose Water, and both made original recipes.

Please hop over and check out her unique blog, you will surly not be disappointed. My end of this bargain is over at…

I Just Love My Apron


Welcome to Tanantha Actually Cooks Saturday



Rose water is one of the ingredients I’m not familiar with. It’s new to me and I was first introduced by Lazaro. I’m not sure how it started but I think I saw it as one of the ingredients he used in his food. And here we are, presenting our rose water recipes to each other.

The creative Lazaro initiated the joint dessert post where we will post each other’s recipe on the same day. I for sure didn’t hesitate to take it on. My curiosity and excitement to experiment had gone up since we decided to give it “a go” and do it. Lazaro was kind enough to send me his rosewater infused cookies recipe to me as a guide.

The first thing I did after I purchased was to smell and taste. Now I know why it’s called rose water! It’s a rose and water mixture. Ha. It has a strong taste and smells like perfume roses. I then thought of Moroccan and Indian restaurants. Hmm.. How am I going to incorporate this into my dessert? I went online, read a cookbook, and did some research. I ended up with this cream brulee for my own version. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t exist until now (smile). Not only does rose water make it special, but also tapioca pearls I found at my favorite Asian store does too. It adds interesting texture and fun to the cream brulee. I added vanilla bean to cut down the strong taste of rose water. You can’t go wrong with vanilla in dessert!





Okay, I admit that it took me a while to find the right taste. I tried so many times that I remembered every step, ingredients, and measurements (so I finally got the right adjustment). I tried from adding rice, to cinnamon, to caramel, and then to coconut milk. I changed this, added that, and adjusted it, voila.



I have to thank my husband for being a tester. At the end, he was like “again?” “can I not?” hahaha.




I used small ramekins instead of a regular size because crème brulee is rich and fatty in general. Sorry if you’re on a diet. Using small ramekins like me is a great way to treat yourself and you won’t intake too much cholesterol. Hey, c’mon we all need dessert time in life!

I hope you try and enjoy it because it tastes good! Thanks Lazaro for another great idea.



Pearl Tapioca, rose water, and vanilla beans infused Cream Brulee
Yield: 4 small ramekins or 2 regular ramekins

Ingredients:
3 eggs yolk
14/ cup white sugar
2 tbs tapioca pearls
1 cup soy milk
¼ tsp cinnamon powder
small pinch of salt
1 cup heavy cream
½ vanilla pod
¼ tsp rose water
8 tsp raw sugar

Casserole baking tray
4 small ramekins or 2 regular ramekins
Hot water

Directions:

• To prepare tapioca pearls, heat up a small saucepan, add 1 cup of soy milk and 2 tbls tapioca, cinnamon powder and salt. Bring the milk to boil, then lower it to simmer for about 20 mins with a lid on or until cooked. When they’re cooked, they will turn clear or somewhat clear. They’re called pearls because they are white and round like pearls (see photo). The tapioca will suck all the liquid to dehydrate itself. If the liquid is dry out and tapioca isn’t cooked through, add 2tbs soy milk incremental.

• Divide equally to ramekins.

• Preheat oven to 300 F and boil water on a stove.

• Heat up another saucepan for crème brulee. Add heavy cream. Scrap off vanilla beans and add to the milk pot. I used every single thing of the bean pod so after scraping off he beans I dumped vanilla pod to the milk pot too.

• Add rose water and let it infuse under low heat for about 10 mins.

• In a meantime, whisk egg yolk with sugar until soft and smooth. It should have a light yellow color and creamy.

• Turn off the heat. Spoon out a vanilla pod. Pour the milk mixture into egg mixture slowly and gradually. Whisk well.

• Pour the mixture into tapioca pearl ramekins.

• Place them on a tray. Pour hot water in a tray until it reaches a quarter to the top of ramekins

• Place them in an oven. Bake for 45 mins until it’s set. It should be a little wobble.

• Let it cool in a roasting tray/pan. When ready to serve, sprinkle 2 tsp of raw sugar on each ramekin.

• If you have a torch, brulee it until golden brown. If you don’t, no worries. Here’s what I did. Preheat broiler to hi heat. Place prepared ramekins under a broiler for 2-3 mins. I would say check it every min because It’s burned fast!

• The raw sugar smells incredible and the tapioca pearls make a fun texture. Enjoy!

Friday, July 30, 2010

A Hero is Born

Welcome to My Brother is now a Firefighter Friday

I know that I do not normally post on Friday but today is unquestionably special for me. I had the honor of attending the graduation ceremony for Coral Springs Fire Academy Class 10-02. When class 10-02 started the long journey of academy training there were 50 plus members. After 6 months of attrition only 22 graduated. Amongst the decorated graduates was my younger brother Alex.  This is no small feat, of all fire academys in the United States, Coral Springs Fire Academy graded out the best.  Let me repeat...in the whole of this nation...his was tops.



I cannot properly conceptualize how proud I am of his achievements. He already graduated with honors from the paramedic program, and now he was chosen for the Achievement Award by his Fire Academy instructors. He managed all this while being a husband and a father of two beautiful young girls.





With all that said, I am more fascinated with his intellectual growth. In his younger years he never did well with academics. To see him teach himself to study properly and get through the rigors of the medical terminology and methodology is a true inspiration. I honestly cannot say that I have felt any inadequacy in my life. It’s a weird thing to have your little brother, whom you witnessed grow up, make you feel mediocre. However, I have to admit that I never thought inadequacy could feel so good!

On behalf of The Lawyer & I,

We love you
We are proud of you
We feel safer knowing that you are out there saving lives.

That's it for now...till we exchange a few words again...Peace!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Stir Fried Shrimp with Oyster Mushrooms and Enoki Mushrooms in Abalone Sauce

This coming Saturday I am participating with a very talented foodie in an ambitious project.  We decieded to do a joint guest post centered around one ingredient, rose water.  So on this blog will be Tanantha from I Just Love My Apron's dish.  In turn, my dish will be on her blog.  Tanantha is one of my absolute favorites.  She is a skillful cook and a fantastic writer.

Tanantha is a contributing author for the website International Examiner.  She covers various food related topics.  Please check out her work here...

Make Your Asian Dishes Healthier This Summer
What does ramen speak to you?
History in the Baking

Guest Post Spotlight

This week I am thrilled to welcome LeQuan from luvtoeat . She is a skilled cook and wonderfully proud Mom. We are always treated to beautiful photographs of LeQuan and her lovely family.

I have immense respect for the fact that she is one of the most gracious bloggers I know. When making my rounds, invariably I will see that LeQuan was already there leaving her words of support. Please visit luvtoeat. I promise you will make a very sweet new friend.  Enjoy...


Hello all Lazaro Cooks' readers. I hope everyone is doing well. When Lazaro emailed me to ask me to do a guest post, I had to do a double take, or I guess in technology terms, a double click. That's right, I had to double click my in box button not once but twice to make sure that: 1. Lazaro did not make a mistake and that he did actually mean to send this email to me, and 2. that I was reading correctly and that he WAS asking me to do a GUEST POST.

I was so honored to even be considered as a possible guest poster on Lazaro's blog because I've read and seen the wonderful, witty, talented, and sincere guest posters whom he's had on here before. So the easy part was accepting this invitation, the hard part was thinking of a recipe to share on such a great blog.

I thought and thought and thought and had a few glasses of wine ;-) and thought some more, and finally came up with the perfect recipe. See, wine does do the body good, no? Or maybe that's milk I'm thinking about :-D. As a mother of two young ones, I'm always looking for quick and simple recipes, because anyone with young ones knows that time is of the essence. This recipe definitely fits that category.

Stir Fried Shrimp with Oyster Mushrooms and Enoki Mushrooms in Abalone Sauce

Serves: 4 - 6 people



Ingredients:

• 2 cups (1 packet) oyster mushrooms cut into strips

• 2 cups (2 packets) enoki mushrooms

• 1 lb medium sized shrimp (peeled and deveined)

• 6 cloves garlic (chopped)

• 2 Tbsp cooking oil

• 2 Tbsp Chinese white cooking wine

• 1 tsp chicken broth powder

• 3 Tbsp abalone sauce




Before you begin, make sure you cut about 1 inch off the end of the enoki mushrooms and break them apart so that they are not all in one big clump.

Heat up 1 Tbsp cooking oil in a wok on high heat. Once the oil is hot enough add in 3 chopped cloves of garlic. As soon as the garlic starts to brown, throw in the shrimp. Toss the shrimp around. Do not cook the shrimp completely, only half way through or until all the shrimp have turned a slight pink colour (about 2 minutes). Dish out the shrimp and set aside.

Heat up 1 Tbsp cooking oil in a wok on high heat. Once the oil is hot enough add in 3 chopped cloves of garlic. As soon as the garlic starts to brown, throw in the oyster mushrooms.

Add 2 Tbsp Chinese cooking wine and 1 tsp chicken broth powder. Toss until the mushrooms start to soften. This is the Chinese cooking wine I like to use, no particular reason.



Next, add in the enoki mushrooms and toss for another minute or until the enoki mushrooms start to soften. As soon as the mushrooms soften, pour the shrimp back into the wok.

Add 3 Tbsp abalone sauce.



Stir for another minute or two and plate.

This dish goes well with white rice or any type of rice. On days when I don't have the time to cook, I like to cheat a little and use these types of already made sauces for a quick stir fry. When I do have time to cook, I like to cook up actual abalone dishes like this:



Which you'll find on my blog as well. I hope you enjoy this recipe.

It was a true privilege and honor of mine to be able to share this recipe with your lovely readers Lazaro. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity.

Please check out LeQuan at luvtoeat drop by say hello and sign up to follow a fun blog!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sablefish Mojito Ceviche & Roasted Chicken Leg Lasagna

Marx Foods is a fantastic online gourmet food retailer.  Justin Marx believes in promoting sustainble foods and seafoods.  This sentiment is obviously one that Lazaro Cooks! can wholeheartedly support.   However, being eco-friendly is only one piece of the puzzle, the quality of the products sold at MF is second to none.  They carry grass-fed beef, mushrooms, truffles, chilis, salts, and wonderful oils. 

They also carry exotic meats which you can win some in their Kangaroo Challenge.  Click on the link for the contest details.  You know I am getting on this one.



Marx Foods also carries fresh-to-your-door sustainable seafood.  Here is a chart provided by Marx Foods to further educate consumers on Seafood Sustainability & Mercury Chart.  Bookmark this very useful resource.

Sablefish is one of our most sustainable fish.  Marx Foods carries top-notch sablefish.  I was fortunate to be asked by Justin to guest post on the Marx Foods blog.  If this is your first trip to Justin's blog, say hello, leave a comment, he is a very nice and knowledgable person.  Here's the link to my guest post...

Sablefish Mojito Ceviche


Welcome to Lasagna Tuesday

I have a big problem with wasting food.  As a person who is passionate about sustainable, organic, and eco friendly, I strive to use up every ounce of produce that finds it way into my kitchen.  It is not about the money.  The bigger issue is the mind-blowing amount of people on this earth that are starving and would love to eat any of the leftovers we regularly throw away.  Additionally if we choose to eat animal protein was must honor and respect the food.  This is a topic will be the feature of future posts.

When you cook as much as I do it all comes down to coordination.  If you are a facebook friend you saw this dish last week.  That's because the filling came from the Canelones de Catalunya.  The tomato sauce used was from the La Rataouille post.  NOTHING goes to waste!

Roasted Chicken Leg Lasagna


Organic free-range chicken legs, olive oil, smoked pimenton.


Carrots, Yukon gold potatoes, leeks, onions, celery, rosemary, olive oil, sea salt, black pepper, garlic.


Bake at 450 F for 15 minutes to brown skin.  Then reduce to 325 F, roast for 60 minutes.


The Filling...chopped chicken, veggies, grated Queso Manchego, thyme.


Legalized addiction...Crack on a plate!

For the tomato sauce:
Vine ripened tomatoes
Olive oil
Onions
Celery
Leeks
Carrots
Garlic
Shallots
Tomato paste
Riesling Wine
Cinnamon stick
Vanilla Bean - split in half

Herb Bundle
Thyme
Marjoram
Bay leaf

Note: Quantities are left up to the discretion of the cook's palate.  I would suggest only 1 cinnamon stick and vanilla bean.  Their imprint on the sauce should be subtle.

In a stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions, celery, carrots cook for 10 minutes.  Add the leeks, garlic, shallots.  Cook for 7 minutes.  Make a well in the center, add the tomato paste.  Brown the tomato paste to reduce raw acidity.  Deglaze with the Riesling wine.  Reduce the wine until almost dry.  Add the tomatoes, cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, and herb bundle.  Simmer for 5 hours.  Adding water as needed, if too reduced.  Check for seasoning.  Add sea salt & black pepper.

Remove the herb bundle, cinnamon stick, vanilla bean.  Puree the sauce with an Cuisinart CSB-76BC SmartStick 200-Watt Immersion Hand Blender, Brushed Chrome .  Strain through a  CIA Masters Collection 5-Inch Very Fine Mesh Strainer.

The cheeses used were  Queso MahonFontina Val d' Aosta.
Click here for my White Wine Pasta.

That's it for now...till we exchange a few words again...Peace!
 

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Breakfast Fit for My Queen

Welcome to Breakfast in Bed Saturday 

I am incredibly lucky in love.  No small feat because there are some lonely people out there.  So how can a contented husband cook show his appreciation for his lawyer?  Saturday morning breakfast in bed.  Workweek breakfast is nonexistent in the Lazaro Cooks! household, but the weekends were made for rewarding the lawyer's hard graft.

Have I ever told my theory on what came first the chicken or the egg? Well it’s interesting actually…I'm just kidding…who really cares.


Chicken & Egg



6 Organic eggs
2 tbs Organic Valley butter
1 tbs Creme fraiche
Fleur de Sel
White pepper
Chives - finely chopped

Whole eggs beaten become firm when heated or COAGULATE at a temperature of about 156 F. Adding liquid to it will raise the temperature slightly. 156 F might not seem a very high temperature, but a sauté pan over medium-high heat can exceed 156 in a very short time.

I cook my scrambled eggs in a method of constant stirring, and a game of on-the-heat and off-the-heat. The goal of the exercise is to have a finished product of cooked, creamy, luscious scrambled eggs.  Once cooked to desired doneness add the creme fraiche to drop the temperature of the eggs.  Season with fleur de sel, white pepper.

2 Organic free range chicken thighs
Wondra flour
Sea salt
White pepper
Ground coriander
Ground dry mustard
Onion powder


Bone the thighs and cube the meat.  In a glass bowl mix the sea salt, white pepper, ground coriander, onion powder, Wondra flour and a pinch of dry mustard. Mix well. Dust the chicken in the flour mixture, and shake off any excess. Heat about ¼ inch of peanut oil in a skillet. Get it nice and hot. Add the chicken and fry till golden brown.  Remove chicken to a rack to drain.
  
To plate:

1. Spoon the scrambled eggs onto the plate.
2. Top with the chicken.
3. Garnish with finely chopped chives

French toast is all about the bread and custard.  If the custard sucks then you won't want to eat it.  I let my custard infuse in the fridge for 15 hours.  Colombian bread is buttery, kind of like brioche, and absorbs custard like a sponge.  The Grand Mariner bananas are dangerous.  I do not know if I want to recommend them you.  Please do not hold me accountable if you find yourself under a bridge quivering...covered by my GM bananas.

Grand Mariner Bananas French Toast



For the custard:
Egg Yolks 
Marx Foods Tahitian Vanilla Beans - split
4 tbs Organic Florida Cane Sugar
1.5 tbs Vanilla infused agave syrup
1/2 cup Whole milk - well chilled
2 cups Heavy cream

In a glass bowl, beat together the egg yolks and sugar until thickend.  Whisk in the cold milk, heavy cream, vanilla infused agave syrup.  Add the split vanilla beans.  Cover with plastic wrap and fridge for 15 hours.

For the bread: 
1 loaf Colombian bread - store bought - (Brioche is a viable substitute)

Cut the bread into 1 inch thick slices the night before.  Keep in a plastic bag.  I do not serve the crusts.

In a deep dish, add half of the custard.  Soak the bread slices for 1 minute on each side.  In a saute pan melt 2 tbs butter.  Allow the butter to BROWN.  Please not BLACK, black no good.  Add the bread slices cooking for 2 to 3 minutes per side.

For the Grand Mariner Bananas: 
4 bananas - cut into 1/2 inch slices on the bias
1/4 cup Grand Mariner
3 tbs orange juice
2 tbs caster sugar
1 tbs water

In a saute pan, heat 2 tbs butter.  Add the bananas cook for 2 minutes until lightly browned.  Off the heat, add the Grand Mariner, orange juice and water.  Bring to the boil.  Reduce to a simmer.  Add the caster sugar. Simmer for five minutes.

To plate:
1. Center a slice of bread.
2. Dust with a combo of ground cinnamon and caster sugar
3. Add the GM Bananas
4. Drizzle some of the GM sauce on the plate.

French Toast That Pops & Rocks



The lawyer named this one.  Add Pop Rocks to your French Toast and give your taste buds a new sensory experience.  It's amazing how these little candies maintain thier poppy qualities even on the toast.  Try it...it's pretty cool ~


Make these dishes for your significant other, who knows you might get lucky!

That's it for now...till we exchange a few words again...Peace!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Currant Affair

This week I am very fortunate to welcome fellow Blogcritics author  Kate Shea KennonKate writes about theater, reviews television shows, and is a badass mixologist.  Basically an all around talent.  I have enjoyed reading her well-written articles since I joined BC and was happy she decided to generously share her talent with us here.

Kate created this wonderful Currant Affair cocktail for this post...Enjoy!


Happy Hour at the Farmer’s Market: A Currant Affair

There are some people whose happy hours are spent at the week-end farmer’s market. And then there are those people whose happiest hours are well past the time the farmers have packed up their goat cheese. The drinking class would do well, however, to rise with the roosters and check out what’s being brought to market for there are infinite possibilities for a summer cocktail at the nearby farmer’s stand. Remember, think globally, drink locally.

A recent trip to a nearby farmer’s market in Bronxville, NY ( a town, farmers take note, that the New York Times reported today, is not suffering from the real estate recession that is affecting the rest of the country) offered lots of inspiration for this article.

To begin with, there’s the ubiquitous cucumbers and fresh basil here in Bronxville as in any Farmer’s Market this time of year. As bartender Adam Schuman, from Brooklyn’s Fatty 'Cue proves, basil and cucumber make for a considerable combination in a cocktail.

The South Sixth:

2 oz. gin (or vodka)
2 cucumber slices (1/16 in. thick)
2 basil leaves
1 oz. cardamom simple syrup
1 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. ginger beer

Muddle cucumber, basil and simple syrup in a pint glass. Add gin and lemon juice. Shake over ice for ten seconds. Double strain into iced highball glass. Top with ginger beer and garnish with cucumber wheel. Serve on patio.



When shopping, don’t just buy fresh basil. Buy the plant! Help yourself to the fragrant basil leaves with the South Sixth sense calls you. I bought 2 basil plants for $3 at the market, and you just have to admit, that is a bargain. I placed the plants in my container gardens to ward off my black gardening thumb for just a little while longer.

Mr. Schuman, my hero., also came up with a even more refreshing variation on the cucumber theme: muddling cucumber with the cardamom simple syrup, strain over ice, adding St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, grapefruit juice, sparkling wine and club soda to taste.

Moving beyond the cucumbers, I couldn’t pass by the red currants. Basically because I cannot resist bright, shiny objects.



I was wowed by what looked like thousands of dazzling rubies. I didn’t know anything about the berry at the time but bought some in confidence that I could find something to make with them. They were just too beautiful not to be perfect in some sort of beverage or another.

It turns out that for once my overconfidence paid off - red currants make a wonderful cocktail. Fresh, they are tart like a cranberry, and we all know how important cranberry is in today’s mixology.

 Here is a variation of a Red Currant Martini recipe that I found online:

2 oz. gin
2 oz. red currant simple syrup
1 oz. limoncello
1/3 oz. fresh lemon juice
Garnish with red currants.

In a cocktail shaker, muddle 1/4 cup of red currants and lemon juice. Add gin and limoncello and fill with ice. Shake til frost forms on the outside of the shaker. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with red currants.



As you can see, the red currant martini, pictured with some of the spoils of the day, a looks much like a cosmopolitan but falls on the sweeter side of a well-made cosmo. It might do better on the rocks as most summer drinks do.

I was unwilling to stop there because I felt that the above martini, while perfectly presentable, did not do justice to these beautiful berries. So I went exploring further in hopes of having something new to offer here as a guest blogger.

It’s amazing what a deadline (and a good Japanese soft drink) will do.

Drum roll. Unveiling.

A Michael Giacchino swell of music.

I bring you a Currant Affair.



3 oz. vodka
2 oz. red currant simple syrup
Unsweetened grapefruit soda.
Red currants for garnish.

To make a red currant simple syrup, dissolve one cup sugar in one cup water over low flame. When the sugar dissolves, add one cup of red currants. Stir and let cool. Pour into an airtight container and the syrup will last for up to four months.

In the Currant Affair, I used Gokurí Grapefruit Soda, a soft drink from the Japanese Beverage Company, Suntory. Gokurí, while difficult to find if you don’t live near a Japanese grocery, is particularly wonderful in cocktails. It was the true key to this cocktail’s succes: Gokurí has real fruit pulp, and it doesn’t hide the grapefruit tartness with sugar. It’s a very sophisticated beverage, and the same effect could be had with grapefruit juice and some club soda. You don’t want to use an American grapefruit soda like Squirt, as good as Squirt is, because it is too sweet and will pile on and overpower your currants.

Next week-end, take a morning walk through the local farmer’s market to see what’s possible for the evening cocktail. Next time, I’m going back to load up on more red currants. I hear that Martha has a great recipe for a red currant puree, one that goes perfectly with champagne. In the meantime, I have a particularly aromatic bunch of lavender that I will work with; I just know it will enhance some happy hour.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

La Ratatouille

Firstly, I have noticed that more and more of my foodie brethren are on facebook.  My facebook page is a playground.  We talk movies, music, sports, current events, and I post LOTS of dishes you won't see on LC.  The page is private so just send me a friend request and you're in!  Come holla at me...


Welcome to Remy's Vegetarian Dish Tuesday

I cannot believe it has taken me so long to post this!  When I first started the blog on March 5, 2010, this was one of the first dishes I wanted to make.  Better late than never.

Ratatouille is a French provencal vegetable dish.  Traditionally made with eggplant, zucchini, garlic, onions, bell peppers, carrots, and fresh herbs.

In 2007, Pixar released the animated feature film, Ratatouille, one of my all time favorite movies.  Pixar hired Thomas Keller, America's finest chef, to consult on creating the ratatouille which is the central dish in the film.  Keller used his refined culinary skills to elevate this humble dish.  SPOILER ALERT!  In the climax of the film, Remy the rat chef, serves this course to Anton Ego the most respected food critic in Paris.

Here's my homage to Remy's dish.  This course look simple enough, but what makes it interesting is the shape.  However, the real winners are the tomato sauce infused with cinnamon and vanilla bean, along with toasted brioche breadcrumbs with grated Comte cheese.  Enjoy!

La Ratatouille


For the tomato sauce:
Vine ripened tomatoes
Olive oil
Onions
Celery
Leeks
Carrots
Garlic
Shallots
Tomato paste
Riesling Wine
Cinnamon stick
Vanilla Bean - split in half

Herb Bundle
Thyme
Marjoram
Bay leaf

Note: Quantities are left up to the discretion of the cook's palate.  I would suggest only 1 cinnamon stick and vanilla bean.  Their imprint on the sauce should be subtle.

In a stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions, celery, carrots cook for 10 minutes.  Add the leeks, garlic, shallots.  Cook for 7 minutes.  Make a well in the center, add the tomato paste.  Brown the tomato paste to reduce raw acidity.  Deglaze with the Riesling wine.  Reduce the wine until almost dry.  Add the tomatoes, cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, and herb bundle.  Simmer for 5 hours.  Adding water as needed, if too reduced.  Check for seasoning.  Add sea salt & black pepper.

Remove the herb bundle, cinnamon stick, vanilla bean.  Puree the sauce with an Cuisinart CSB-76BC SmartStick 200-Watt Immersion Hand Blender, Brushed Chrome .  Strain through a  CIA Masters Collection 5-Inch Very Fine Mesh Strainer.

For the Vegetables:
Zucchini
Squash
Eggplant
Leeks
Roma Tomatoes

Slice all vegetables thin on a Kyocera Adjustable Mandolin Slicer, Black.  In a baking dish, spoon some of the tomato sauce.  Then layer the sliced vegetable in an alternating sequence.  Cover with a parchment paper lid with a small hole in the center to allow steam to release.  Bake at 325 F for 25 minutes.

For the Brioche Breadcrumbs:
Brioche Bread
Comte Cheese
Thyme
Smoked pimenton
Fleur de Sel

In a food processor blitz the brioche.  In a saute pan, with no oil, toasted the breadcrumbs.  Season with smoked pimenton, fleur de sel, thyme, and finely grated Comte cheese.

To Plate:
Center the ratatouille.  Drizzle the tomato sauce on the plate.  Add a tiny dice of zucchini and carrot.  Spinkle the brioche breadcrumbs.  Garnish with a sprig of chive.

I am sending this dish over to Ann from Momgateway.  She is hosting a light recipes contest and this dish is light! I just recently found her blog and would enthusiastically recommend it.  If you have a good light recipe and would like to take on me, there is still time.  The deadline is July 25, 2010.


That's it for now...till we exchange a few words again...Peace!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Canelones de Catalunya

Welcome to More Photos, Less Words Saturday

After birthing my 1040 words epic There Is Nothing Stock About It for Blogcritics; I am all worded out.  So, I thought I'd do something different today and use more photos to describe the process of bringing this dish to life.

My version was inspired by the Catalan dish served at Els Casals a fabulous restaurant in Barcelona, Spain.



Organic free-range chicken legs, olive oil, smoked pimenton.



Carrots, Yukon gold potatoes, leeks, onions, celery, rosemary, olive oil, sea salt, black pepper, garlic.



Bake at 450 F for 15 minutes to brown skin.



Reduce to 325 F, roast for 60 minutes.



Ajo Blanco a traditional cold Sevillian soup that I turned into a thick "sauce" for the canelones.  Almonds soaked overnight in water and drained, Spanish olive oil, sherry vinegar, 4 garlic cloves (blanched), sea salt, figs, mineral water.  Blitzed and strained.



The Filling...chopped chicken, veggies, grated Queso Manchego, thyme.



White Wine Pasta, olive oil, corn meal.  Pipe filling. Roll up the canelones.  Spoon Ajo Blanco sauce.  Top with grated Queso Mahon.

Canelones de Catalunya



That's it for now...till we exchange a few words again...Peace!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Blogcritics Article & Guest Post Spotlight Thursday

Thank you to my Editor Caitlin for publishing this weeks article about Stocks.  Stocks are the foundation for soups, stews, sauces, and most braising dishes.  However, due to our need for the quick fix, because you know we are just so "busy" droves of people are turning to sodium-loaded store bought stocks.  In this article I show how one pot of wholesome homemade stock yielded 3 dishes.

There Is Nothing Stock About It


Guest Post Spotlight Thursday

This week I am happy to introduce Trix from Tasty Trix Culinary Comforts.  I stumbled upon, no pun intended, Trix's blog a few months ago.  I immediately related to it.  Finding a great new blog is like meeting someone new, it is a visceral reaction, a connection.  With Trix the culinary talent jumps off the screen.  Here's a good example of what I mean Kenyan Curried Fish.  Her cuisine is about the process, technique, and sustainability.  Everything I stand for.  Plus she is a big fan of Silvia from Citron et Vanille so you know she has great taste.


Please check out Tasty Trix I know you will be impressed.




I was so pleased - and of course flattered - when Lazaro asked me if I'd like to do a guest post. And I am not merely being polite when I express my admiration for him and his creative cooking.  Lazaro is a blogger with a conscience, someone who is really thinking about the effect that his food choices have on  the world.  I am particularly happy to see a fellow food lover who is so vocal and passionate about sustainability and the humane treatment of animals. But if you're one of his regular readers,  you already know all that good stuff.

I knew right away that I wanted to make a fish dish for my guest post - and of course the fish had to be an eco-friendly choice. I went with branzino, also known as bronzini, Mediterranean sea bass, or loup de mer. I was attracted to its small (1.5-2 pound) size, the flaky, almost sweet flesh, and the promise of a crispy skin - if cooked properly.

You should know that like so many seafood species,  the sustainability of the branzino depends largely upon the aquaculture methods that are used to farm it. It's not yet listed by the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch Program,  one of the leading consumer guides to sustainable seafood. In fact, Monterey Bay is working on a study about it, and a spokesperson for the aquarium told me that until it's published your best bet is to make sure that you procure your branzino from a purveyor you trust. And so that's what I did.

But on to the recipe! It's loosely (and possibly inaccurately) based on one I saw in an old issue of Bon Appetit, a magazine I usually only read when I'm at the hairdresser. There I was, being a total girl - sipping on some tea with my head covered in highlights and foils, flipping through magazines - and then I saw this dish, my stomach growled loudly, and  I knew I had to make it. So I hurriedly scrawled the recipe down in  my notebook, hoping to get it all down before I had to get my hair rinsed.  When I got home, I realized that I could hardly read my own writing, so I had to fill in the blanks as far as amounts go. 

My illegible writing didn't matter in the end. It turned out beautifully - the fish was juicy and tender, and the fennel and red onions imparted an incredibly aromatic quality to the dish. You should definitely serve this to guests at your next dinner party. I don't know if the photos capture it, but this baby has got a real wow factor!

Roasted & Stuffed Whole Branzino with Fennel, Tomato, & Olives
adapted from Bon Appetit

2 1.5 pound branzino, scaled, gutted and cleaned. (The fish guy unfortunately left the fins on, so you should probably ask to have them removed.)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups white wine
2 bulbs fennel, sliced and fronds reserved
1 large red onion, sliced
AP flour, for dusting
8 cloves garlic
1 cup Italian parsley, chopped
1 pound cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup oil cured black olives, pits removed
salt & pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Boil the wine until it's reduced by half. Meanwhile, cover a large baking tray with the fennel and onion slices. Lightly salt and pepper, and drizzle with a little olive oil.  Next, rinse the fish and pat dry:
Salt and pepper the inside and outside of each fish, and lightly coat with AP flour. Fry at medium high heat in the olive oil, until both sides are nice and crispy. (I definitely need a bigger skillet!)
Gently place each fish on top of the fennel and onions, and stuff each one with half of the parsley and garlic:
Pour the wine over the vegetables. Roast uncovered in the oven for 35-40 minutes, and then add the tomatoes and olives:
 Roast for another 15 minutes, and then take out the fish and cover to keep warm. Turn the heat up to 475 degrees, and roast for another 10 minutes. To serve, garnish with  chopped fennel fronds.

This dish is like the Mediterranean on a plate. It's balanced and healthy and fresh and tastes of going on holiday.  Even if you're a little squeamish about working with a whole fish, I hope you'll give this a try. The branzino is very manageable, and not at all intimidating, I promise!

Thanks for having me Lazaro - and thanks to everyone  for checking out my guest post!

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