Sunday, May 25, 2014

Shitake Mustard Green Frittata

I love me a frittata in the morning for brunch.  The kids, not so much so this is really a frittata for 2.  Add in a side of hash browns or toast and some juice and its a full meal.

I used curly mustard greens, rib removed and coarsely chopped.  Its got more of an earthy peppery bite to it so you if you don't like it, swap out baby spinach in the same quantity.  It seems like a lot of greens, and it will overwhelm the pan at first, but as they give up water and wilt, they will shrink considerably.

Different for me is this doesn't call for any additional salt.  Parmesan, the real deal you buy in wedges is a pretty salty cheese to start with so you can use it as your "salt" If on first bite you feel it isn't seasoned enough give it a little sprinkle of maldon sea salt if you must.

Shitake Mustard Green Fritatta

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 T half and half
  • 1/4 c finely shredded mozzarella
  • 5 T grated Parmesan
  • 4 Shitake mushrooms - stems removed, sliced 
  • 2 c coarse chopped mustard greens ( or any other green you have around)
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1/4 t ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350F

Over medium-high heat add 2 T olive oil to an 8" saute pan.  Stir fry the mushrooms and ground black pepper until browned, about 5-7 minutes  Add mustard greens and garlic.  Stir constantly until wilted and greens are reduced to 1/4 or less of original volume.

Whisk together eggs, half and half, mozzarella and 3 T Parmesan.  Reduce heat on pan to medium, add eggs.  Stir slowly until ingredients are well distributed and bottom has set, about 2-3 minutes.  Remove pan from heat and put in preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until puffed and browned.  Garnish with additional 2 T Parmesan and serve hot.
There is flavor in the brown...don't skimp on browning your Shitake

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Lemon Souffle'

I'm beginning to wonder what all the fuss about is with making Souffle'.  This version doesn't have a starch to bind and it still puffed up wonderfully.  Yes, it fell a bit after while cooling but it was still a wonderful puff of marshmallowy lemony goodness.

I cheated here and used a good store bought lemon curd.  Dundee brand if you can find it is the most amazing lemon pucker I've found yet.  Yes, you can fuss and make it at home, but why for the love of gawd when you can get good store bought would you do it?

I use Meyer Lemons, the virtues of which I've extolled in the past.  Suffice it to say its milder with a better flavor than the traditional lemons found in the groc at the corner.  Worth tracking down March-May when they are in season.

Tip: Zest lemon then juice it.  You will never zest a lemon that has been juiced first.

Lemon Souffle'

  • Good quality Lemon Curd
  • 1 large lemon - zested and juiced
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 5 T superfine sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 t cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350F

In a 10-12 oz ramekin spoon in 2 heaping tablespoons lemon curd, smooth and level in bottom of ramekin.

Whip egg whites and cream of tartar in copper bowl until soft peaks form.  Sprinkle over 1T superfine sugar.  Whip until stiff peaks form.  Set aside.

Combine egg yolks, sugar, salt, zest and juice.  Whisk until frothy and sugar is dissolved.  Stir in 1/4 of the whipped egg whites to lighten the yolks.  Pour yolk mixture into the egg whites and fold gently until well incorporated and few white streaks remain.

Place ramekins on baking sheet.  Divide souffle' batter evenly between the 3 ramekins.  Bake 17-18 minutes until puffed and golden brown on top.  Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Serve.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Creme Puffs for my Pop

I'm not quite sure when my Mom made the switch to Creme Puffs for my Dad's Birthday, but I'm glad she did.  Its a little comforting tasty bit that always reminds me of him.  Today would have been his 83rd birthday and its appropriate I make them now.

There are many ways to fill them.  Traditional is to make a pastry creme, but sweetened whip cream works too.  Ditto cool whip if you're really lazy.

Baking them on a silpat baking sheet promises an easy release from the pan.  Nothing worse than a puff that scorches onto the baking sheet.  Silpat is the greatest invention of the last century.

Creme Puffs

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 c water
  • 1 c flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 eggs

Preheat oven to 400F

Bring water, butter and salt to a boil.  Reduce heat and add flour all at once.  Stir vigorously until a ball forms.
Put dough ball in stand mixer on medium, or food processor with a dough blade installed.  Add eggs one at a time until smooth dough forms.

Line baking sheet with silpat.  Drop dough by 1/4 C full.  Bake 30-40 minutes until golden brown.

Remove from oven and move to a wire rack.  Cool completely.  Split and fill with pastry creme or sweetened whipped creme.

Pastry Creme

  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 2 T corn starch
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 C milk
  • 2 egg yolks.
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 2 T butter

Whisk together Milk, sugar, corn starch and salt.  Bring to boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly  to prevent clumping.  Cook 1 minute until thick.

Whisk together yolks. Whisking vigorously slowly ladle in 1 c of the hot milk mixture into egg yolks.  Bring heat to medium-low.  Slowly pour the yolk mixture into the remaining hot milk.  Whisk constantly as it thickens and comes to a boil. Cook 1 minute.  Immediately remove from heat.  Whisk in vanilla.  Whisk in butter.  
Put into a heat proof container.  Float a piece of cling film over the hot mixture to prevent a skin from forming.  Cover and refrigerate until cool. 
 To prevent curdling and scrambling of the pastry creme mixture whisk constantly.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Bulgur Wheat Salad

This Salad is fine as a meal by itself or as a side with grilled meats and fish. With the fresh chopped herbs it really packs a lot of flavor.  Its one of my fave for the former for a quick lunch.

Bulgur wheat is simply cracked wheat berries. It used to be a staple at the hippy stores, but I've  been finding it in mainstream grocs these days.  Yeah...and its cheaper that way too.  Nice complete grain and its easy to cook.  If you can do rice, you can do this.

I always have chicken stock on hand so this isn't entirely vegan, to make it that way simply use a good veggie stock.  As you don't know how much salt is in the stock, hold off salting the bulgur wheat until you taste it.

Bulgur Wheat Salad
  • 1 c bulgur wheat
  • 2 c veggie or chicken stock
  • 1/4 t black pepper
  • Salt
  • 1 c sliced mushrooms
  • 1 small zucchini quartered and sliced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 3 T chopped cilantro
  • 3 T chopped mint
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 T olive oil

In small sauce pot bring stock to a boil.  Add bulgur wheat and reduce heat to low and simmer/steam 20 minutes. Remove from heat and lest stand 10 minutes covered.

Add mushrooms to a large non-stick fry pan with a tablespoon of oil.   Sautee over med/high heat until the mushrooms start to brown, about 3-5 minutes.  Add zucchini and cook 3-5 minutes until they start to brown.  Add onion and cook to translucent.  Add garlic and cook 1 minute.  Remove from heat.

Prepare dressing with lemon juice, olive oil, herbs, and black pepper.  In large salad bowl add bulgur wheat and fluff with a fork.  Pour over the veggie mixture and toss lightly to combine.  Pour over the salad dressing and toss to dress the salad.  Test of salt and add as needed.  Serve warm.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Slaw 2 ways...its how I gotta do it some days`

I have some picky eaters.  One likes only the traditional southern style slaw, the others like the Thai style.  Its easy enough to make both so I do.

To make life easier I take a small head of cabbage, quarter it then finely slice it all at once.  Voila...enough cabbage for 2 batches of slaw.  From there its about the dressing and that is just stupid easy.  

The traditional southern is what I learned back in "Men's Contemporary Living" back in high school for crying out loud.  The other is an adaptation of the one my cousin makes...Thai with the flavors amped up a bit.

Traditional Southern Cole Slaw
  • 4 c sliced cabbage
  • 2 T finely sliced onion
  • 1/2 c Miracle Whip
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T sugar
  • pinch salt
  • Pinch black pepper.

Whisk together the Miracle Whip, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper.  Add to sliced cabbage and onion.  Toss to coat.  Chill for at least an hour for the flavors to marry.

Thai Cole Slaw
  • 4 c sliced cabbage
  • 1/4 c thinly sliced onion
  • 1/4 c peanuts
  • 2 T chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 c Miracle Whip
  • 2 T  rice wine vinegar
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 t curry powder
  • 1 t fish sauce
  • pinch salt

Combine Miracle Whip, vinegar, lime juice, curry powder, fish sauce and salt.  Whisk until smooth.  Pour over sliced cabbage, onion, cilantro and peanuts.  Toss to coat.  Chill for at least an hour for the flavors to marry.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Tuna Tarragon Mac Salad

Today is classic May Gray, with wind warnings and red flag starting at 3PM.  What's that got to do with food?  Plenty.  The latter means its going to be extremely hot and dry for the next several days as it harkins the return of the Santa Ana winds.  Nothing is more refreshing than a cold salad on a hot miserable day and this fits the bill.

I use good canned in water tuna.  Simple honest tuna flavor with no added fat calories...the dressing will add plenty of that.

I use frozen peas as they are already blanched and are ready to go.  By all means since this is fresh pea season use them, just blanch in salted water and shock in ice water to keep them brilliant green.

I sprinkle the herbs onto the hot drained pasta as the residual heat and moisture will cause them to release their flavor oils and deep flavor the pasta.

Tuna Tarragon Mac Salad

  • 12 oz Shell shaped Pasta 
  • 1 T minced tarragon
  • 1 T minced parsley
  • 1 half small onion minced
  • 1 c sliced celery
  • 1/4 diced dill pickle
  • 2 cans tuna, drained.
  • 1 c frozen peas
  • 1 c Miracle Whip
  • 3 T dijon mustard
  • 2 T dill pickle juice
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t fresh ground pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions in well salted water.  Drain.  Pour pasta into mixing bowl and sprinkle with herbs.  Toss lightly.  Set aside while prepping veggies and pickles.

Put minced onion, sliced celery and dill pickle into bowl.  Flake tuna and sprinkle over the veggies.

Prepare dressing by whisking together Miracle Whip, mustard, pickle juice, salt and pepper.  Pour over the pasta and toss lightly until all are well distributed and coated with dressing.  Chill at least 3 hours in fridge before serving.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Coffee Brined Pork Loin Chops

What?  Coffee in a brine.  Absolutely.  It brings smokey bitter notes to a naturally sweet meat like pork.  Grill it over sweet mesquite and omg...its terrific.

The coffee you use will make a difference. I prefer bold roasts for the rounded bitterness.  A medium roast will work in a pinch.  Skip right over the light "breakfast blend" roasts as they are too light to work well with this brine.

Costco sells pork loins, whole strips about 2-3 feet long on the cheap.  This lack of butchering on their part is a bonus for me in that I can cut it into thick loin chops or modest sides loin roasts.  All at a fraction of the cost the local groc charges.  Wrap it up in good freezer paper and its good to go for a couple of months before use.

I use the Thai red chili in this.  I like the heat and flavor.  If you can find it your groc is challenged and you need to tell them to get on the ball and stock them.  If that doesn't work you can substitute a red jalapeno pepper.

Coffee Brined Pork Loin Chops

  • 4 large 1 1/2" thick pork loin chops
  • 1 1/2 c water
  • 1 heaping T coffee
  • 1" piece of ginger sliced
  • 4-5 cloves garlic - smashed
  • 2 Thai red chili - sliced horizontally
  • 1 T dried thyme 
  • 1 t kosher salt

In sauce pot add ginger and coffee grounds.  Bring to a boil.  Then remove from heat and cover, let steep for 5-10 minutes.  Strain the mixture tossing coffee grounds but reserving the ginger slices.  Add smashed garlic, sliced Thai chili , salt and thyme.  Put the pork loin chops into a large food storage bag, pour in coffee mixture with the veggies and herbs.  Seal bag, place in a large bowl to catch potential leaks, and refrigerate for 6-8 hours.

1 hour prior to grilling pull the pork loin chops from the fridge and allow it to sit on counter to come to room temperature.  This ensures even cooking.  Remove chops from bag, pat dry with towel and grill 5-6 minutes per side until cooked through. (FDA recommends 165f, I' go with 150 so its still juicy but no longer pink).

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Orange Sriracha glazed salmon and Herbed Bulgar Wheat

This is stupid easy and fast.  Can you boil water?  If so the bulgar wheat is done.  Can you turn on a burner under a grill pan?  Bang...your done.

Seriouisly, some nights no one has time to fuzz and fiddle in the kitchen.  Tonight was one such night.  Busy baby sitting the grand meant little time in the kitchen.  Timing is everything so start the Herbed Bulgar wheat first, then move to the salmon.  This dinner is fast..on the table in 20 minutes.

Herbed Bulgar Wheat

  • 1 c bulgar wheat
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 2 T dried onion
  • 1 T chopped cilantro
  • 1 T chopped parsley

Bring chick broth and dried onion to a boil.  Remove from heat and add bulgar wheat and herbs. Stir.  Cover.  Let sit 15 minutes.  At end of the cooking time remove lid and fluff with a fork.

Orange Sriracha Glazed Salmon

Heat a non stick grill pan over medium high heat.  Salt and pepper the salmon filets generously on both sides.  When grill pan is hot, spritz with non stick cooking spray and put salmon down.  Cook 4-5 minutes until the side is opaque about half way up the side of the salmon filet.  Flip over, reduce heat to medium.  Divide Orange Sriracha sauce and spread on the cooked side of the filets.  Cook 3-4 minutes longer until opaqueness meets in the middle.  Turn off heat and remove from pan, let rest 3 minutes and serve over Herbed Bulgar Wheat.