Thursday, September 30, 2010

Catharsis & The New Series

My blog is my castle.  I moderate comments for the same reasons we lock our homes, to keep out unwanted guests and yahoos.  Primarily, that most wretched incarnation of commenter, the ANONYMOUS.  I liken an anonymous commenter to a hit and run driver.  They pop in, release their bile, do their damage and run away.  On LC, If you do not leave at least an email address, I won't post the comment, good or bad. 

See, you can "Have Your Say," but I reserve the right to do something called RETORT.

To Mr & Mrs Anonymous Commenter, butch up, toughen up, and grow up.  Leave a name, or email address so the bloggers that you are giving your unwanted advice to, can hit you back.

THANK YOU, to all who commented yesterday and actually left a name or email address.  I had something to say and judging by the comments, many of you had something to say.  The conversation was great and profound.  It really is not a surprise, judging that most of you who commented are some of my favorite bloggers.

Yesterday, one of the themes was inspiration.  I would like to keep that theme going today.  Another one of my "Mount Rushmore" foodies opened my eyes to a possibility that, frankly, I am a little embarrassed that I did not realize myself.  I am by nature a deconstructor in the kitchen.  If you read LC you already know that I love to reinvent or reimagine classic dishes.

Tanatha from I Just Love My Apron recently deconstructed one of my dishes.  A real honor that someone as talented as she would take a shot at redoing a dish from LC.  She took my black bean & catfish dish to a whole new level.

So, the new series is not Pissed Off Rant Wednesday, Alisha, AKA Magic of Spice from The Ardent Epicure, although it does have a ring to it for sure!  Alisha is a wonderful Friend and fellow cook, she also shares my love of the show Fringe.  Check her site out, it's impressive. 

The new series will be Foodie Friend Deconstruction Saturday.  I see so many fantastic dishes out there that I know I will never be short of material.  Be on the lookout, I may be coming to a dish near you soon...

The first person whose inspiring food I shall be working with is Faith from An Edible Mosaic.

Faith is a worldly and talented cook.  She makes food from all types of cuisines.  So, it is easy for me to draw inspiration from her blog.  If you do not know Faith, do yourself a favor and click on the linkage above and check out a truly great food site.  By the way, today is Faith's Birthday, so wish her a Happy one!

It must have been an extremely wise philosopher or a sage that first uttered the phrase "There is a first for everything."  Such is the case on LC!  After nearly 5 months of doing Guest Posts someone who agreed to do one did not come through.  Not a word or an "I'm sorry", nothing just vanished.

Luckily I have a true friend who stepped up and offered me a post.  Tanantha from I Just Love My Apron is a real sweetheart.  Thanks, T! So, she makes her unprecedented 3rd appearance as a guest on LC!  My prediction is that it will not be her last!

Guest Post Spotlight Thursday

This post was Tanantha's entry into our Quickies Cocktail Challenge, a fun and flirty non-alchy drink.  Along with her deconstruction of my Pan-Roasted Catfish with Black Beans.

Enjoy...

9.21.10

DSC_0147

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Comment Game & Inspiration

Welcome to Pissed Off Rant Wednesday

Inspiration is sometimes hard to come by for the blogger.  You sit at the computer and ponder "What the hell I am going to talk about this week?"  Then you slide over to a friend's blog and BOOM lightning strikes.

My foodie friend LeQuan, who's work you may remember was spotlighted on LC when she made a lovely Stir Fried Shrimp with Oyster Mushrooms & Enoki Mushrooms in Abalone Sauce, opened up Pandora's box for me with her last post.  I have been blogging now for only a few months, this blog actually went live on March 5, 2010 with this monumentally Craptastic Post.  Since then I have been lucky to meet some amazingly talented people, some amazingly nice people, and some people who I really could have done without ever meeting.

Early on I realized that comments on blogs is a game.  Spend an ungodly amount of time on the computer leaving hundreds of inane, superficial comments in the hopes of getting those lovely comments in return.  Why do people play this game?  Everyone has their own special reasons.  However, Laz do not play that game.  I do not blog for comments, or exposure, if I did I would still be on Foodbuzz.  I'll leave them to side right now...more to come on them in the future.

I blog because I love food.  I love cooking.  In my mind, LC is about the FOOD, nothing else.  I love to interact with people who actually...love food like me.  People who are passionate about their emuslions, or their immersion blenders, or their use of organic products or sustainable fish.  Not what camera they spend $1000's of dollars on so they can be on Taste Gawker, or whatever that shit's called.

I have made some amazing friends doing this.  You know who you are, I do not have to mention your names.  You actually know my email address and use it.  Now, some other people come on the scene and act like your long lost best pal only to then poof...like magic disappear.  You also know how you are, I need not mention your names either.  I read and comment on blogs that inspire me.  That's all.

The point of all this is that LC is not going anywhere.  It's here.  I am here and I will be here.  Cooking my food and sharing with the people that inspire me.  At the end of every post it says "Have your Say".  For those of you that are moved to comment, great.  I can tell that there are some bloggers who probably have no clue I am even posting because they only followed me on Foodbuzz.  Oh well such is life, they will fade in oblivion for me.  But LC will endure.

So if you like what I do, pull up a chair, we'll keep making some good food.  For the rest, goodbye!

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

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Quickies Cocktail Challenge Round-up

First, I am no longer on Foodbuzz.  I will not be submitting my posts there.  Ultimately, my time on that site has run it's course.  Will I lose exposure not being on Foodbuzz, surely.  However, I don't mind that much.

From now on, LC will be unwanted Ads free!

There are a few ways to find out about new LC posts...

1. Subscribe via Email

2. Subscribe via Google Friends Connect

3. Send me friends request on Facebook.  Yes my profile pic is Fringe.  Don't let that throw you off.

4. Twitter

5. Cook, Eat, Share

6. Food Blogs


A Big Thank You...to all 20 foodie friends who supported Denise and I on our 2nd Quickies Challenge.  We received amazing cocktails from some truly creative people.

For the round-up and winning cocktail, please click on the linkage...

Quickies Cocktail Challenge Round-Up

Thanks!

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

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pan-Fried Grey Trigger Fish with Carrot Cumin Potage

The deadline to enter our Quickies Morning, Noon, and Night Cocktail Challenge has been moved back.  Please send in your entries by Monday September 27, 2010.  We will then announce the winner and post the round-up on Tuesday September 28. 2010.

A few more days for your challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to create your sexiest drink, alcoholic or non alcoholic.

The prize is the marvelous cookbook Quickies: Morning, Noon, and Night by the lovely Denise Fletcher.


First off, this week two of my favorite foodie friends took their hands at recreating some of LC's dishes.  Huge honorThank you Tanantha and Jessie!  Please hop on over to their blogs and check out these clever creative cooks.

Tanantha from I Just Love My Apron deconstructed and elevated the Catfish with Black Beans into a awesome sandwich.

Jessie from The Happiness in Health reinvented the Tostone with Braised Chicken Dish.  She made it Lawyer friendly with chicken breast instead of my usual chicken thigh.

Creative people who push food in different directions inspires me as a cook.

Welcome to Fresh Fish Saturday

Marco Pierre White likes to say that “We are in a world of refinement, not invention; all the greatest dishes have been done.” I agree with this sentiment. Whatever you think you are inventing, trust me, someone somewhere has already made it, or at the very least a version of it. I would personally like to thank whoever decided to put together carrots, cumin and oranges because it is a natural match.

Here I am continuing to make good use of this fresh Grey Trigger Fish pairing it with a carrot potage seasoned with cumin and oranges.

Raisins softened in hot orange juice & Grand Mariner add a nice compliment to the potage.

Enjoy…

Thinly Sliced Yukon Gold Pedestal

Carrot Cumin Potage

Grand Mariner Raisins & Cilantro

Pan-Fried Grey Trigger Fish

Orange Zest & Creme Fraiche


Pan-fried Grey Trigger Fish with Carrot Cumin Potage


For the Carrot Cumin Potage
¾ lb carrots – peeled & sliced thin on a mandoline
¼ lb Yukon gold potato – peeled & sliced thin on a mandoline
2 garlic cloves – minced
1 shallot - minced
2 tbs olive oil
1 quart veggie stock
½ tbs whole cumin seeds
1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
Sea salt

In a cold, dry sauté pan, add the ½ tbs whole cumin seeds. Place over medium-heat and gradually toast the seeds. When fragrant, take off the heat. Grind in a coffee grinder to a fine ground.

In a saucepot, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the carrots and potatoes toss well in the oil. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and ground cumin stir to combine. Add the veggie stock and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer. Cover with a parchment lid and simmer for 20 minutes.

In a small saucepan, bring the orange juice to boil. Turn the heat to low. Reduce the juice for about 25 minutes. The consistency should be syrupy. DO NOT ALLOW TO STICK OR BURN.

Pour the reduced orange juice into the potage. Simmer for 8 minutes. Blend well using an immersion blender. Strain through a fine mesh strainer. Check for seasoning.

For the Grand Mariner Raisins: 
1 cup raisins
2 cup orange juice
1 shot Grand Mariner

In a small saucepan, bring the orange juice and Grand Mariner to the boil.  In a glass bowl, add the raisins.  Pour boiling orange juice mix over raisins.  Let soak for 1 hour.  Drain and serve.

For the Grey Trigger Fish:
Grey Trigger Fish fillets
Wondra flour
Whole eggs
Italian bread crumbs
Canola oil
Sea salt

Remove the fish from the fridge 30 minutes prior to cooking. Set up a wire rack over paper towels.

Set up your breading station. In 3 three separate bowls, Wondra flour, beaten eggs, Italian bread crumbs.

In a heavy bottom frying pan heat ½ inch canola oil over medium-high heat.

Take the fish on down the line…dredge in Wondra flour, shake off excess, dip into the eggs, and then the Italian bread crumbs.

Test the temperature of the oil. Sprinkle some Wondra flour into the oil. It better bubble up quick, if not it’s not hot enough. Fry the fish on both sides to a golden brown. Remove to the wire rack. Season with sea salt.

That’s it for now…till we exchange a few words again…Peace!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fall Squash Crostata

The deadline to enter our Quickies Morning, Noon, and Night Cocktail Challenge has been moved back.  Please send in your entries by Monday September 27, 2010.  We will then announce the winner and post the round-up on Tuesday September 28. 2010.

A few more days for your challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to create your sexiest drink, alcoholic or non alcoholic.

The prize is the marvelous cookbook Quickies: Morning, Noon, and Night by the lovely Denise Fletcher.


Thank you for your much appreciated input regarding the Guest Post Spotlight Thursday.  I was merely conducting a survey, my intention was never to stop it.  I am thrilled that most of you enjoy this series as much as I do.  Luckily, we are booked solid into March 2011 with many many more talented foodies.

This week I am happy to welcome Chef Dennis from More Than A Mount Full.  Dennis is the Chef / Director of Dining Services at Mount Saint Joseph Academy in Flourtown, Pa.  He is a passionate advocate for healthy cuisine and proper nutritional education at his school.  When he is not working at the Mount, he is running his wildly popular blog, that was recently featured on CBSNews.com.  Chef Dennis is a very nice person and one of the most generous bloggers around.

If you have yet to check out More Than A Mount Full, please do so.  He makes some fantastic dishes there.  I must warn you though, dude has a serious, and a bit alarming, zucchini blossom addiction.  Fortunately it inspires him to make some creative courses with that ingredient.

Enjoy...

Guest Post Spotlight Thursday

I would like to say hello to all of LC readers, if you don’t know me I am Chef Dennis from More Than A Mount Full. I work at Mount Saint Joseph Academy in Flourtown, Pa, where I have the privilege of feeding 560 High School girls everyday.

To say that I am a fan of LC, would be an understatement, I have enjoyed watching Lazaro create incredible new dishes and reconstruct classics. His commitment to organic and sustainable foods is truly inspiring, and has me thinking when ever I do make food purchases. When Lazaro asked me to do a guest post for LC, I was deeply honored! I would also like to thank Lazaro for being such a good friend and always leaving such positive comments for me, he has helped me more than he will ever know.

In the spirit of LC, today I would like to share with you a new creation of mine. I like to start off my Saturdays at out local farmers market in Collingswood. We are so fortunate to have such a great selection of local and organic produce, as well as organic eggs and meats. While strolling through the market last Saturday looking for something special to make for this post, I chose some items that I don’t use very often, let’s say I was inspired. I have to admit that all of my selections were not organic, but they were all from local farms in South Jersey.


For today’s creation I chose a medley of fall squash, Butternut, Acorn, and Heirloom Patty Pan. When I purchased them I knew right away they would be perfect for a Crostata. Those delicate wonderful flavors intermingled with flaky dough. My stomach was grumbling at the thought of such a wonderful treat!

As I was preparing the dough, I decided to change it up a bit, after all I wanted this to be extra special….so I used a combination of white and wheat flours, as well as some ground pistachio’s. I wanted to add a little sweetness to this dish without adding to much sugar. As I looked through my pantry I spied some white raisins, and dried cranberries…Perfect! I also thought a few pistachios would add a little more depth of flavor. But it still seemed to be missing something, I needed another flavor, something to add just a little more zip to this dish…..hmmm…..caramelized onions….and what a great addition that was. I wasn’t completely sure how it would be received, I mean it was a savory Crostata, not really sweet and it wasn’t fruit…..sigh….I did get a little nervous.

This Crostata was making an appearance at our neighbors BBQ, well it didn’t take long for it to get passed around and completely devoured….I think everyone was a surprised as I was at just how good it was, and that’s when I knew it was good enough to share with all the LC readers. I hope you all enjoy it as much as we did, and thank you all for stopping by to say hello!


Pastry Dough
1 cup All Purpose Flour
½ cup Whole Wheat Flour
½ cup Ground Pistachio’s
1 1/2 teaspoon Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/c cup cold Unsalted Butter (1 Stick) cut into 1/4 inch pieces
2 Large Egg Yolks
1/4 cup Ice Water
1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar

I made my dough in a food processor, but feel free to do it the old fashioned way.

Add your flours, sugar, ground pistachio’s and salt in the food processor and pulse 3 times to mix.

Scatter the butter over the flour mix and pulse 7 or 8 times to cut in the butter.

Add Egg yolks one at a time and pulse 2 -3 times to incorporate.

Fluff mixture with fork and then add your ice water and balsamic vinegar and pulse 5 or 6 times or until the dough begins to form clumps, do not let the dough form a ball on the blade!

It should look like coarse crumbs, dump mix into a large bowl, form into ball, then flatten into a disc, wrap with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 1/ 2 hour. While your dough is setting prepare the Squash.

Fall Squash Crostata

1 half butternut squash, peeled seeded and sliced
1 Acorn squash, peeled seeded and sliced
1 Large Patty Pan Squash, peeled, seeded and sliced
1 small sweet onion diced
½ cup salted pistachios
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup dried cranberries
½ cup demara sugar or light brown sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoons cinnamon (more if you like cinnamon)
1 stick sweet Butter

In a large skillet, melt your butter and add the diced onions, allow to sauté for 2-3 minutes.

Add in all of the prepared squash and allow to sit and caramelize, you will see the butternut squash get some good color from the heat. Add in the remainder of the ingredients and mix together.

Allow this mixture to continue cooking for about 3-5 more minutes.

Remove the squash mixture from the heat, and place on a cookie sheet to cool.

Allow mixture to cool to the touch, before placing on the pie crust.

While the mixture is cooling, take out your prepared crust, to allow to warm up slightly.

Flour your working surface, and roll out your crust to about a 16 inch diameter.

Place the cooled squash mixture in the center of the dough, heaped in the middle, leave about 2-3 inches of dough exposed, without any mixture on it. Begin to make folds with the exposed dough, partially covering the squash mixture. Make 5 or 6 folds, it should look rustic, not perfect!

Brush the dough with a milk wash if you like, and then bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the dough is fully cooked.

Allow to cool for about 30 minutes and serve warm, or room temperature.

This is such a great way to showcase the wonderful flavors of Autumn, the often overlooked varieties of squash are such a wonderful treat, and truly shine in this wonderful Crostata. I hope you all have a chance to try it, you won’t be disappointed!

All the Best!

Dennis

For more fantastic posts, check out Chef Dennis at More Than A Mount Full.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pan-Seared Grey Trigger Fish with Kalamata Olive Salad

Man, lots of stuff to get to, AGAIN.  Please stay with me....

The deadline to enter our Quickies Morning, Noon, and Night Cocktail Challenge has been moved back.  Please send in your entries by Monday September 27, 2010.  We will then announce the winner and post the round-up on Tuesday September 28. 2010.

A few more days for your challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to create your sexiest drink, alcoholic or non alcoholic.

The prize is the marvelous cookbook Quickies: Morning, Noon, and Night by the lovely Denise Fletcher.


A Big Thank You to those who have inquired as to whether I would be participating in FoodBuzz's Project Food Blog.  I will NOT be envolved with this contest.  However, many of my foodie friends are.  Please click on the link to peruse the many contestants and vote for your favorites.  There are loads of people working hard to produce wonderful posts for this project.

Project Food Blog Voting


Welcome to Fisherman's Catch Tuesday

When you have such an incredibly fresh ingredient to work with it's best to just let it shine.  I was fortunate enough to have a fisherman buddy of mine share part of his Grey Trigger Fish catch with me.  This fish is found in many parts of the world.  In Florida, it is fished in 60 to 120 ft deep waters in the Atlantic.

Butchering this fish is tricky and the yield is not fabulous, but the taste surely is.  The flesh has a meaty mouthfeel and cooks up great.

Commercially Trigger fish or (Balistes Fraenatus) is wild-caught in India.  I have read studies that report that their fishing practices are sustainable.  The Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch has yet to include trigger fish in it's guide, thus more research must be done.  Additionally, not all species of trigger fish are edible, so please do your research before consuming.

I paired the fish with a salad of kalamata oilves, roasted pimenton, and pickled swiss chard stems tossed in a honey mustard vinaigrette.  Garnished with toasted coriander seeds and sunflower sprouts.

Enjoy...

Pan-Seared Grey Trigger Fish with Kalamata Olive Salad


Friends, I have but a few questions if you would indulge me.  I have been hosting guest posts for about 4 months now.  It is a lot of work.  With that said, I find it extremely rewarding spotlighting some of the awesome foodie talent out there.  My two questions are as follows...

1. Do you enjoy the Guest Post Spotlight Thursday?

2. Have you been introduced/made new friends through this series?

Thank you for your input.

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

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cider Braised Pork Belly with Yukon Gold Puree

Man, lots of stuff to get to and only one post, so...

The deadline to enter our Quickies Morning, Noon, and Night Cocktail Challenge is fast approaching.  Please send in your entries by September 24, 2010.

Your challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to create your sexiest drink, alcoholic or non alcoholic.

The prize is the marvelous cookbook Quickies: Morning, Noon, and Night by the lovely Denise Fletcher.


I want to thank Marx Foods for sponsoring The 5 Star Foodie Summer 10 Makeover and supplying us with an awesome gift box of ingredients to work with. 

A big thank you to everyone who voted on the poll, we ended up receiving like 160 total votes.

Lastly, I would like to thank our beautiful host, the 5 Star Foodie herself.  Natasha from 5 Star Foodie Culinary Adventures runs one of the best blogs on the net...period!  She is a fantastically creative cook, writer and an amazing photographer.  Apart from that. she is a very sweet person and I am happy to be able to call her a friend.

LC's Cuban Fish & Chips was fortunate enough to be chosen as the WINNER of the Summer Makeover.  So here it is one more time before we retire it....

Now here's the real star of the Summer Makeover, Silvia from Citron et Vanille.  She created a fabulous Vegetarian Cassoulet with Trout Beans & Wild MushroomsThis was the dish I voted for! 

If you are a regular reader of LC you know that Silvia is one of my favorite cooks, her talent is really over-the-top and her dishes never cease to inspire.  If by chance you do not know her, please do yourself a favor and check out her blog.




Welcome to Out-and-Out Extravagance Saturday


Do you have a kitchen role model? Someone who’s inspired you to evolve your cuisine? In developing my kitchen repertoire, Thomas Keller and Marco Pierre White have had a significant influence on my food. Thomas Keller made me see the infinite possibilities that exist for plating your food elegantly. Marco Pierre White made me understand the importance of finding out where your food comes from and supporting the great produce indigenous to where you live.

With that said, my absolute kitchen hero is Joel Robuchon.  The man dubbed, “The Chef of the Century” in France…could you imagine, think about all the amazing chefs that country has produced…is my favorite chef. Many of his kitchen philosophies fall right in line with what I believe. His food is incredibly progressive, but he has such an amazing grasp of the fundamentals of cooking. He preaches straightforward, clean, and harmonious food. Recently, in an interview the chef was asked basically, what his theoretical last meal would be, he answered, “Give me a good potato with butter and I am happy man.” I could not agree more. I can relay that message in my own exceedingly convoluted mathematical kitchen equation…

Yukon Gold Potato + Butter = Heaven

So, I know that you’ve seen my Yukon Gold Puree many times and my guess is that you will see it again, again, and did me mention; again!

Pork belly, oh wonderful, fabulous, luxurious, sumptuous, splendid pork belly. Food so good I can now understand why it is a sin to eat in many cultures. Search out the best possible product you can afford, it will make your dish better in the end product. Humane animal husbandry and earth-friendly production practices ensure ecologically sustainable farms. Eden Farms is one of the most economically and environmentally sustainable food companies around. 

The belly is where we get our bacon and pancetta from. However, if you purchase the whole piece, and braise it, you will have experienced the equivalent of culinary enlightenment.  Here's how tender it can be...


Enjoy…

Cider Braised Pork Belly with Yukon Gold Puree




For the Pork Belly:
4 lb Organic Pork Belly - Skin-on
Sea salt
Black pepper
Ground coriander
Smoked pimenton
Blended Oil

Remove the pork belly from fridge 30 minute before cooking.  Season both sides of the pork with spices.  Cut the pork in half.  Heat 2 pans over medium-high heat.  Add blended oil.  When the oil is hot and rippling, add the pork belly, one piece in each pan.  Brown the pork on both sides.  Remove to a plate to rest.

For the Braising Liquid:
750 ml Magners Hard Cider
1 large yellow onion - chopped
3 celery stalks - chopped
1 leek - (white & light green parts only) - chopped
3 carrots - peeled & chopped
6 oz Organic tomato paste

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Heat a large braising pan over medium heat.  Add some blended oil.  Add the onion, celery, leeks, and carrot.  Sweat the veg for 5 minutes.  Make a well in the center and add the tomato paste.  Brown the tomato paste to remove raw acidity.  Add the pork the pan.  Pour in the hard cider.  Cover with a parchment lid, not a tight fitting lid.  You want some of the liquid to reduce and intensify the flavor of the sauce.

Braise in oven for 3 hours.

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

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Rainier Cherry Tart with Maple Cream and a Gluten-Free Maple Crust

The deadline to enter our Quickies Morning, Noon, and Night Cocktail Challenge is fast approaching.  Please send in your entries by September 23, 2010.

Your challenge is to create your sexiest drink, alcoholic or non alcoholic.

The prize is the marvelous cookbook Quickies: Morning, Noon, and Night by the lovely Denise Fletcher.



Today I am happy to turn over LC to the wonderfully talented Krista from Rambling Tart.  Krista blogs about travel, photos, and food.  If you enjoy travel, she highlights some of the amazing places she has visited.  Her keen eye for photography and capturing the moment produces some of the best photography on the blogosphere.  Her writing style is candid and inviting.  Not to mention that there is always a tasty treat to feast on.  Please visit, Krista at Rambling Tart, I know you will find a marvelous new blog to follow.

Enjoy...

Welcome to Guest Post Spotlight Thursday


Hints of autumn are all around me this week. Hot sunshine burns away the morning fog revealing green grass covered with crisp, brown leaves. I may get to wear my beloved sun dresses during the day, but as soon as the sun sets I pull out sweaters and tuck quilts around me whilst I read or visit with good friends.

Although I dearly love Autumn and can't help but smile when I think of apple picking, cider pressing, and cozy nights spent in front of the fire, I confess that part of me is still clinging to the last vestiges of summer.

My cooking is a reflection of my divided heart. One moment I'm making blueberry smoothies as if I needed cooling off, and the next I'm stirring a pot of spicy curry to warm my bones.

This recipe, Rainier Cherry Tart with Maple Cream and a Gluten-Free Maple Crust, is a delectable combination of summer and autumn. Shiny Rainier cherries are sunny reminders of hot summer days, while the maple cream and crust lend that comforting richness so treasured as the days shorten. If you can't track down cherries, then plump blackberries or even sliced peaches would work just as well.


(Lazaro, thank you so much for inviting me to join you today! It's wonderful to linger on your blog with your dear readers for a day. :-) )

Rainier Cherry Tart with Maple Cream and a Gluten-Free Maple Crust


Ingredients:
2 cups cherries, pitted and halved
1/4 cup blueberries
1 package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp maple extract

For the Crust:
1 cup gluten-free all-purpose baking flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp maple extract
1/2 cup butter, melted

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 F.

Blend cream cheese, coconut milk, maple syrup and maple extract until smooth. Set aside but do not chill.

Mix all crust ingredients, add a little flour if too soft. Press evenly into 9-inch tart pan and bake for 20-25 minutes until crust is golden brown.

Let crust cool, then spread cream mixture in the bottom and top with fruit. Chill until ready to serve.

Please check out Krista's Rambling Tart for more wonderful photos and food.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pan-Roasted Catfish with Black Beans Guest Post

Welcome to Guest Post Tuesday

Please click on over to my friend Patty's fantastic blog, Patty's Food to check out my guest post there.  If you are new to Patty's blog, stay awhile, she makes some wonderful food.


Here's the link to my post...

Pan-Roasted Catfish with Black Beans

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

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sea Scallop & Prawn Orzo

Welcome to Seafood Mac & Cheese Saturday


Malaysian Giant River Prawns are sustainably farmed in the United States. According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s seafood watch, it is a best choice for sustainable shrimp. These prawns are my absolute favorite to make shrimp stock. I purchase them whole because there are so many flavors in the head and shells.

Orzo is a rice shaped pasta. In this dish the orzo is paired with a tasty sauce of reduced shrimp stock, tomatoes, and luxurious Saint Andre Triple Cream Cheese.

Finally, giant sea scallops crown the dish. U.S. Atlantic Ocean caught sea scallops are wonderful and sustainable. These scallops are sized U-10, that means that there are under 10 scallops to the pound. Big, meaty, sweet and juicy. The scallops are seared on the pan with butter and coriander seeds.

Enjoy…

Sea Scallop & Prawn Orzo


For the Shrimp Stock:
Canola oil
2.2 lbs Malaysian Giant River Prawns – (heads and shells)
1 large white onion
1 cup carrots – chopped
10 Black peppercorns

Herb Bundle -2 sprigs each
Thyme
Oregano
Rosemary
Tarragon

In a stockpot, heat the canola oil over medium heat. Add the shrimp heads and shells. Sear for three minutes until they turn bright red. Add the onions, carrots, and black peppercorns. Pour enough water to cover the shrimp and veggies. Add the herb bundle. Bring to a low boil. Reduce to simmer. Simmer for 2 hours.

Strain through a China cap.

For the Orzo:
Orzo pasta
2 cups shrimp stock
2 tbs chopped tomatoes
2 tbs Saint Andre Triple Cream Cheese

Bring 2 tbs of cream cheese to room temperature.

Boil orzo in lightly salted water until just tender.

In a saucepan, reduce the shrimp stock by half. Add the chopped tomatoes. Cook for 2 minutes. Strain the sauce. Return to the pan and swirl in the cream cheese. Simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat, and add the cooked orzo. Keep warm.

For the Sea Scallops and Shrimp
Giant River Prawns
Sea scallops
Blended oil
Unsalted butter
Coriander Seeds

Cut the river prawns (reserved from before) into 1 inch pieces. Season with sea salt and white pepper.

Pat dry the sea scallops with paper towels. Season with sea salt and white pepper.

Heat a sauté pan over medium high heat. When very hot, add 1 tbs of blended oil and sauté the shrimp until cooked through. 2 minutes tops. Remove from pan.

Wipe the pan clean. Heat the pan again. Add 1 tbs blended oil. When very hot, add the scallops. Sear for 1 ½ minutes on one side. Turn the scallops. Add the butter and coriander seeds to the pan. Baste the scallops with the fat and coriander seeds. Cook for 1 additional minute.

Garnish with chives.

That’s it for now…till we exchange a few words again…Peace!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Red-Scented Pork Delights With Unexpected Flavor From … Tofu??

Thank you to all who went over to the Marx Foods Blog to vote for the 5 Star Summer Makeover 10.  Voting is open until Sunday for any who have not voted and are so inclined.

Today I turn LC over to one of the smartest bloggers out there.  Jessie from The Happiness in Health is freshly back from an amazing stint studying at Peking University, a trip that took her to Beijing, China and Hong Kong.  She chronicled her awesome trip on her blog, sharing with us the sights, sounds and most importantly the tastes she experienced.  The Happiness in Health is exactly what the name says, a health conscious blog with great food and sharp, witty writing.

Also contributing to this blog is Jessie's husband Peter, AKA the MacGyver of the Kitchen.  Do not take my word for it, check out his DIY Sous-Vide Cooker.

Please check out The Happiness in Health one of the blogs on my weekly reading list.

Enjoy...

Welcome to Guest Post Spotlight Thursday


Hello, Lazaro Cooks! readers! Jessie from The Happiness in Health here! As I’m relatively new in the blogging world, I suppose I should introduce myself by describing myself in one sentence. Well, here goes:

Omnivorous girl living minimal lifestyle who nevertheless struggles to close fridge door due to massive numbers of specialty food products and husband-cooked items; also: CHEESE.

Before I go any further, a huge thank you to Lazaro for asking me to guest post. I am honored :)

For those of you who have read my blog, you’ll know that I recently returned from a trip of a lifetime to Beijing, China and Hong Kong. While I was abroad for 6 weeks, I tasted anything I could get my hands on (I was also studying at Peking University, but that experience pales in comparison to REAL CHINESE FOOD). Since my return to the U.S., I’ve been attempting to recreate my favorite Chinese dishes at home, such as this “cafeteria-style” hand-shaved noodle dish.

Another favorite dish I enjoyed in a Hong Kong dim sum restaurant was pork with fermented tofu sauce. Ladies and gents, the original:


Like many Asian dishes, this pork dish contained a higher ratio of bones-to-other stuff than I prefer. Keeping this preference in mind, could I make this dish better? Why yes, yes I can.

Before we get to the recipe, let’s talk about fermented tofu.


Also known as fermented bean curd, fermented tofu is preserved in vinegar, rice wine, and salt and has a pungent, slightly spicy flavor. The tofu is often used on its own to flavor rice and other bland foods. When cooked into other dishes, such as this pork dish, other ingredients are used sparingly so as to highlight the tofu’s flavor. You can find fermented tofu at your nearest Asian grocery store. If you’ve never set foot in an Asian grocery, I invite you to expand your food boundaries by checking out one. Not only is much of the food super cheap, the new, exotic flavors will be sure to inspire you!

Now, for the recipe: if you’ve checked out the recipes at my blog, you’ll notice I have a fondness for wacky awesomely creative recipe names, such as Salmon Swims Through Pineapple-Tomato Chutney and No One Messes with Triple P! (Protein-Packed Pesto). Why break the pattern now?

Red-Scented Pork Delights With Unexpected Flavor From … Tofu??

And for those who prefer a more traditional recipe name:

Pork Tenderloin in Fermented Tofu Sauce
Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp canola oil
1.5 lbs pork tenderloin, cut into medallions (no bones allowed!)
¼ cup sherry
¼ cup Asian wine vinegar (another excuse to check out the Asian grocery)
3 cubes red fermented tofu
2 ¼-inch disks peeled ginger
½ cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce

Note: Since tenderloin is a lean cut of pork, I decided to braise the medallions in order to retain their juiciness. If you use a fattier pork cut, feel free to try baking, broiling, or frying.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat canola oil in heavy, oven-proof saucepan over medium-high heat. Sear pork medallions on both sides for about 30 seconds per side.



Add sherry and wine vinegar to pork, cover, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until center of medallions reach 160°F. Alternatively, cut a few medallions open to make sure they’re cooked through.

Remove saucepan from oven and return to burner. Take out pork with tongs or slotted spoon to a waiting plate. Heat saucepan on low heat and add chicken broth, ginger, and soy sauce. Use your stirring spoon to “smoosh” the red tofu into the sauce until the sauce is smooth. The sauce should be thin. If you prefer a thicker sauce, let the sauce cook down before placing your pork back in the saucepan and letting all the flavors mingle. Serve with your favorite rice. Mine happens to be a combination of brown rice and black forbidden rice (also conveniently found in your local Asian grocery store).


The finished dish, with a side of cruciferous-ly delicious steamed cauliflower.





Thanks again, Lazaro!

For more, please check out Jessie's fantastic blog The Happiness in Health.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Fish Pie

Help me win Fresh Alba Truffles, click here to Vote!!!

It is voting time for the 5 Star Makeover Summer Special.  Click on the link above to head over to my wonderfully talented friend Natasha's 5 Star Foodie Culinary Adventures and vote for your favorite recipe. 

I want to recommend two dishes made by two friends and amazing cooks.

Bren from Flanboyant Eats made a delicious Saffron White Beans with Mushroom Medley & Seared Halibut

Silvia from Citron et Vanille made a fabulous Vegetarian Cassoulet with Trout Beans & Wild Mushrooms

Thank you Natasha for being such a good friend and supporter of mine.  I had a lot of fun being involved in this with you.



Welcome to Sustainable Seafood in a Bowl Tuesday

In keeping with the British theme from Saturday's Cambridge Burnt Cream, I thought why not post another of my favorites.  Fish pie is a dish I can eat everyday, or probably not, because I'd be about 350 lbs and quickly lose my sex appeal.  However, it is an awesome way to eat incredibly wholesome sustainable seafood.

Again, here are some links for sustainable seafood information.

Lazaro's Blogcritics Author Page - Ha. See how I slipped that one in?!  Shameless self promotion.

Enjoy...


White Ocean Shrimp, Spiny Lobster Meat, Calico Scallops, Pacific Halibut, Coho Salmon.


Blanched Leeks, Sweet Corn, Green Peas


For the Cream: Half & Half, Sea Salt, Grated Nutmeg, Allspice, White Pepper.


Aged Wisconsin Cheddar


Decadent Yukon Gold puree topping

Bake in oven and...


Dig in.

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

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Cambridge Burnt Cream Guest Post

Welcome to Lazaro's Guest Post Saturday

I was very happy and honored to be asked to guest post on one of my favorite blogs, Deana's lostpastremembered.

Hop on over for my take on the British classic dessert.

Cambridge Burnt Cream

Thank you to everyone for their sweet birthday wishes for Audi.  He sure is a cute bugger!



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

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Beach-Side Wheat Berry Salad

Today is a special day in the LC household...Audi's 2nd Birthday!  So the birthday boy, ever so slightly intimated, that he should get some pub on the blog for his special day.  Oh, the vanity!

Audi was living in the parking lot of our condo community before the Lawyer and I took him in about a year ago.  Sleeping under cars, by the dumpsters, or in the bushes.  Now he sleeps...

On my sofa...

And on my bed...

Happy Birthday Lil' Buddy.  Thanks for taking over my apartment!


Welcome to Guest Post Spotlight Thursday

This week I am happy to welcome Kenzie from A Healthy Purpose a blog very passionate about educating people on eating healthy.  It is an amazing holistic health blog, a treasure trove of solid information and vegan recipes.  Kenzie enjoys a high-vegan, high-raw lifestyle, concentrating on foods that fuel your body and make you feel good. Apart from solid nutritonal advice, Kenzie is a fantastic writer, and a dedicated champion of seasonal foods.

Please check out Kenzie's well-written and educational site.  I guarantee you will learn something every time.

Enjoy...

Hello Lazaro Cooks Readers! If you’re anything like me, the September calendar date has you saying, “What?!?! Where did the first 3/4 of my year go?” I like to think this is completely natural (and unfair), especially when we’re about to say goodbye to the most beloved season: Summer. Barbecues, waking up to sunshine, days by the pool or on the beach--there really isn’t a better time of year.


So for my post today, I wanted to share a recipe that holds onto Summer, letting it know we just aren’t ready to say goodbye.

What I love most about this dish, is that it sticks to my principles of trying to eat along side the seasons, and appreciating local fare--a concept I know Lazaro is passionate about too.

So while the juicy berries and fresh greens are still in season, but the weather is starting to turn cooler and the kids are rushing back to school, you can jump in the kitchen and make this Wheat Berry Salad: reminiscent of the beach but perfect for packed lunches and making one large dish to last all week.


Beach-Side Wheat Berry Salad: (serves 6-8)

2 cups soft white wheat berries
1/2 head curly kale
1-2 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup walnuts
1/4 cup + 1 tsp walnut oil (or other subtle oil)
1/4 cup maple syrup
juice from 1/2 orange
1 tsp salt

1. Cooking wheat berries: Okay, don’t be intimidate. Put you wheat berries in filtered water with a tablespoon of lemon juice for at least an hour, or overnight. This removes phytic acid (found in all grains and seeds) and makes the grain more digestible. Then bring 8 cups of water to a boil. Add strained wheat berries, cover, and cook on low for about an hour, or until tender.



2. Wash the Kale*. And chop or rip into very fine pieces. Pour the 1tsp of walnut oil over the greens and coat thoroughly using your hands.



3. Make the Dressing by combining oil, syrup, orange juice, and salt



4. Combine kale, warm** wheatberries, blueberries, walnuts***, and dressing into large bowl, mix, and serve hot or cold.


5. Enjoy!



*If you’re intimidated by kale, use spinach, and don’t bother with the teaspoon of oil

**Adding the hot wheat berries to the salad wilts the kale and brings out the flavor of the other ingredients.

***For an extra smokey, nutty flavor, toast the walnuts on low heat in skilled for about 10 minutes.


Do you see where my inspiration came from?? I really am trying to hold on as long as possible while still eating the colors from the world around us.


Of course, there really is no better way to pay tribute to the beautiful food on our planet than by really relishing in seasonal food and expressing our creativity with great natural ingredients.

I hope the transition to fall finds you all well! And please, stop by my blog, A Healthy Purpose, to continue eating seasonally as fall inevitably finds us.