March 31, 2009
We didn’t make it to the grocery store this weekend, so I worked with what we had. I found some frozen tilapia, a jar of Pickled Beets and decided to whip up some polenta. Recently I read an article on Cook’s Illustrated that compared various white wines to satisfy the “dry white wine” ingredient you often find in recipes. Sauvignon Blanc came out on top and Dry Vermouth was second. They specifically recommend Gallo. Since Dry Vermouth is a fortified wine and can be kept on the self for months, the convenience factor sold me on giving it a try. I used it in the sauce and found the Vermouth worked fine, although given my druthers, I would use a wine. The Vermouth seemed a bit one dimensional and not quite as acidic as I’d liked, but for everyday cooking Vermouth will work fine. And for $6.00 a bottle, quite economical. The beets were a store bought brand I spiced up a bit. The rosemary polenta, I have written about making it before.
The fish and sauce
- 2 pieces of tilapia
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 shallot or 2 tablespoons onion, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2/3 cup dry vermouth, or dry white wine
- 1 cup fish stock or chicken stock
Preheat the over to 350 degrees. Salt and pepper both sides of tilapia. In an oven proof pan, over medium heat, cook the shallot until translucent in 1/2 tablespoon butter. Add garlic until it’s released it’s aroma, about a minute. Turn the heat up to high and add the dry white wine or vermouth, cook for one minute and add the stock. There should be enough liquid to reach at least half way up the sides of the fish. Bring to a simmer, cover and put in the oven. The fish should be cooked until translucent, depending on the size of the fish, approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Once the fish is done transfer it from the liquid to aluminum foil, wrap and cover with a towel to keep warm.
Put the pan back on the burner, on high, and reduce the liquid to 3/4 of what it was. Remove from heat and mount with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter.
- 1 jar of pickled beets
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
- 1/2 cup orange juice
Drain beet juice into a sauce pan. Add ginger and orange juice and reduce by half. Add beets to the reduced liquid and warm through.
March 30, 2009
Cranberry Mango Granola
Have you ever noticed how small the boxes of granola are in the store? I love granola but it seems like a person only gets a couple of bowls per box. Here’s a granola recipe that is easy and you can make as much as you want.
3 c. oatmeal
1/2 c. wheat germ
1/2 c. chopped almonds
1/3 c. honey
1/3 c. orange juice
Grated orange peel from one medium orange
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. dried mango
Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Toast wheat germ on low heat. Mix with oatmeal and almonds.
Stir honey, orange juice, orange peel and cinnamon together in a saucepan. Heat until boiling.
Pour over oatmeal mixture and stir until coated.
Pour onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.
Add dried fruit to partially cooked granola. Bake for another 10 minutes or until light brown.
March 28, 2009
This soup was mostly about getting rid of leftovers in the refrigerator. I had homemade vegetable stock and braised beef shank sauce in the fridge. Also a few vegetables that needed to be used up. I decided to break out the neck bones I had purchased the other day for $1.69 a pound. I think it was about 6 pounds total. Those 6 pounds of neck bones yielded about 4-5 cups of meat. I had never cooked with neck bones before but I would again. There is more cartilage and connective tissues with this cut than I’ve seen in others. But most of it melts away and can be separated from the meat if you so desire. I can see how many would find this off putting, but the combination of meat, bone and connective tissue makes a very rich, flavorful broth. We really enjoyed this soup, and it just kept getting better as the days went by. I didn’t use a recipe for this soup, just whinged it.
Start by searing the meat on the neck bones in batches. They are irregularly shaped so you need to move them a few times to sear each side. Deglaze the stock pot with about a cup of red wine and put the neck bones back into the pot. If you have extra stock or sauce to add to the pot later, then just cover bones with water. If you don’t have liquids to add later, then you’ll need to use more water initially to make up the difference. Add 4-6 cloves of chopped garlic, a bouquet garni of 2-3 bay leaves, 10 pepper corns and a few sprigs of thyme. Simmer until meat begins falling off the bone, 2-3 hours. While the meat is cooking, cut your vegetables into bite size pieces. Use what vegetables you have. I used a mirepoix, 2 parts onion, 1 part carrot and 1 part celery. Approximately 4 cups onion, 2 cups carrot and 2 cups celery. I also cut up approximately 4 cups of fingerling potatoes. Once the meat is done, drain the whole works though a colander, saving the liquid. Pull the meat bones out and lay on a cookie sheet to cool. Strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth, back into your stock pot. The broth may have little bits of grit from the neck bones, so don’t bother straining the last cup or so of the liquid. Once the meat has cooled enough to pull with your hands, separate meat from the bone. Add the meat and vegetables to the broth. If you have leftover stock or meat sauce, now is the time to add. Bring the works to a gentle simmer, adjust acidity by adding wine to taste. Simmer until the vegetables are done to your liking. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.
March 27, 2009
I’m not sure what inspired these bars. Maybe it was the two bags of carob chips in the cupboard. Or maybe it was the bag of dried cherries next to the carob chips. Either way this trio plays very nicely together.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2 c. flour
1 c. brown sugar
2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. cloves
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. salt
1 c. butter (2 sticks cut into tablespoon sized pieces
1 beaten egg
1 t. vanilla
1/3 c. dried cherries
1/3 c. carob chips
1/3 c. chopped walnuts
Mix the first six ingredients. With a hand mixer set at medium speed, blend a few pieces of butter in at a time into the dry ingredients. Crumbs should look like lentils.
With a spoon or fork, mix in the egg and vanilla. Add the cherries, carob chips and walnuts.
Spread into a greased 10X5 pan. Bake for 30 minutes.
March 24, 2009
Peach Cornbread Dessert
Kent invented this dish a couple years ago when he was given a jar of home canned peaches. Not only is it delicious, but it is a quick dessert you can put together in no time.
It’s not completely from scratch as it uses Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix. To be honest, I’ve always had a thing for Jiffy mixes. They’re economical and have a good flavor.
1 T. melted butter
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon
I can sliced peaches in a light syrup, drained
2 Jiffy Corn Muffin mix packages
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Combine the first three ingredients and stir mixture into the peaches.
Mix the corn muffin mixes together following the directions on the box.
Put 3/4 of the corn muffin batter in a greased pan. I used a cast iron skillet.
Spoon peaches onto batter leaving a 1/2 inch border around the edge. Dab the remaining batter on top of the peaches.
Bake for 20-23 minutes.
March 23, 2009
I remember a couple years ago watching Anthony Bourdain’s show, No Reservations, and being repulsed by the guy. I found him cocky, irritating and at times the show seemed to go nowhere. So when I would see him on, I’d turn the channel. I don’t know when it happened or how it happened, but I started liking the guy. I started liking his show. Maybe it’s like the first time you see a new model of car, and you think it’s ugly. Sometime later you find yourself dreaming about buying one. At any rate I decided to read his book, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures In The Culinary Underbelly. I’m glad I did. This book chronicles Bourdain’s relationship with food from the time he was a kid to becoming chef at Les Halles. It’s well written, interesting, funny and as the subtitle states, one gets a look at the “culinary underbelly” from Bourdain’s perspective. Bourdain started out in a privileged family but struck out on his own, landed a job as a dishwasher to pay bills, and his culinary career was born. From there you get to see both his humiliations and triumphs as he works his way up. He doesn’t seem to pull any punches, he lays it all out, the drugs, the hard times and the fun he had. I think just about anyone would find this a good read, but if you’re interested in what it’s like working in a professional kitchens, I think you’ll like it a lot. I’m going to give this book a 5 out of 5 stars. I really can’t think of anything I didn’t like about it.
March 22, 2009
Today’s post is about flops. Totally. As in the bread falling completely apart.
One of the great things about rhubarb is that you can quickly chop it up and pop it into the freezer for baking later. In a few months, fresh rhubarb will be available. So I thought I would finish up the rhubarb in the freezer. Rhubarb bread is one of my favorites so you’d think I’d pay more attention while putting it together.
Unfortunately I forgot the egg. Egg is very important. According to Darra Goldstein in the Baking Boot Camp, eggs are necessary for stability (2007). Eggs work with flour to add structure. During the baking process the two ingredients react to each other and solidify the batter for its final form. Without eggs, everything falls apart. As evidenced by the photograph.
The flavor is still pretty good. I’m thinking of getting some vanilla ice cream and crumbling my learning experience on top.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
2/3 c. oil
1 c. buttermilk
1 t. salt
1 t. soda
1 t. cinnamon
2 c. flour
2 c. rhubarb
Combine all the ingredients. Pour into two greased loaf pans.
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon
1 T. butter
Melt butter, mix in sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle mixture on top of batter.
Bake for 60 minutes
Goldstein, D. (2007). Baking boot camp: Five days of basic training at the Culinary Institute of America. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.