A new look at cooking and home decorating...with an attempt to add more greens to the plate, more vegetarian options & hopefully lots of new ideas to explore

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Pan-Roasted Maine Jumbo Scallops with Mushrooms and Asparagus Puree

(From French Laundry Cookbook)

This dish from The French Laundry Cookbook was not too difficult to make. The Asparagus are blanched and then Pureed into a sauce. The mushrooms are simmered in stock then sautéed with thyme and garlic, and butter. And the scallops are seared in a pan before serving. If you have the cookbook you will note that I did not follow the recipe exactly since I used chanterelle mushrooms. Also, I substituted heirloom tomatoes from my garden as garnish. This dish was fairly easy to make thanks to the great directions in the cookbook, and if you have any interest in cooking from The French Laundry Cookbook this may be the recipe to start off with.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Gnocchi Gratin

1 pd. 4 oz of Potato Gnocchi- homemade or store bough and cooked in boiling salted water until the Gnocchi float- remove and drain the water
2 Tablespoons butter cut into small pieces
1/3 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1/3 cup Grated Parmesan
½ cup breadcrumbs
1/3 cup warm heavy cream

Into a Gratin dish (the wider the better so all of the Gnocchi can get a little crust) place the cooked Gnocchi. Scatter the butter pieces on top then add the cream. Sprinkle on the cheese and breadcrumbs and run under a broiler until the top is golden- about 2 “from the broiler.

Note- the breadcrumbs can brown quickly so watch carefully. Also, children do not seem to like the smell of melted Gruyere as it can be pungent-for them I use only Parm. Cheese.

The Gift of Food

About a week or so ago I received a gift. It wasn’t the kind of gift that one can put a price tag on, but rather, the kind that one cherishes for its symbolism. To many people it might look like a bunch of old papers. Each day I have been sifting through a good size stack of recipes that my mom had collected over her lifetime. The beauty of this kind thing is in the memories that it conjures up.

Some recipes were given to her from friends, teachers, and relatives. I found a yellow folded up paper of my mom’s original meatball recipe, which had been a gift from my grandmother. My grandmother had received it from her mother in law, who had emigrated from Naples Italy.

Other recipes were cut out from local papers and places like Yankee Magazine. These too are special recipes in that they are often accompanied by a story. I found clippings of Christmas cookie recipes, chocolate truffles, and a very yellow tiny piece of paper with a marinara sauce recipe on it.
Ultimately, I have here a bag of American recipes. Some, of Italian origin, some French and, well, some from everywhere- and I cant wait to share them with you.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lamb or Chicken Tagine

The word Tagine is used for both the style of Moroccan cooking as well as the vessel that the food was cooked in. A Tagine looks like a large round oven safe “platter” covered by a tall “top”. My first experience eating this style of food was in Paris. Unlike traditional French food, which is small in portion, a Tagine is a hearty warm and filling meal. As starving student we could not wait to head over to the left bank of Paris and eat these “stews”. My guess is that in France the Tagine is vestige of the time when the French colonized Morocco, but I am no historian.

So you are wondering, do I need a proper Tagine vessel to cook this dish? No. I have an Emile Henry one and almost never use it to cook in. It will make for a very pretty serving piece though. All clad also makes one. I use my slow cooker if I want to smell the stew simmering away all morning or switch to a Dutch oven (7 quart) and reduce cooking time to about 2-3 hours. Bring to a boil then keep the stew on you stove over a low simmer.

2 ½ pounds of Lamb for stew, I use shoulder meat
(If you want to feed more people you can add chicken parts as well- might I suggest dark meat)
5 large white onions, peeled and cut into a medium dice
2 heads of garlic, peeled and slightly crushed
2 cups chicken stock
5 oz of pitted green olives
2 lemons preserved/confit- use the outer rind not the pulp and cut into a small dice
2 Tablespoons Harissa

Place all of the ingredients into a slow cooker and simmer on high for 6-8 hours. Serve over couscous (1box prepared as per instructions on box)

Add 1-2 tablespoons ginger, 3 tablespoons cilantro, 1 teaspoon saffron threads,
1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon turmeric for a version with more spice

Also, 1 bulb sliced sautéed fennel, 1 sautéed eggplant cut into a medium dice and or
1 roasted red pepper can be added for more vegetables

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Spinach Twins

Recently, I became rather interested in re-creating a particular recipe. I had seen it first on a DVD of The French Chef with Julia Child. The episode started in the kitchen with Julia. Julia demonstrated the Turnover dough then, the shot switched to France where Simaca filled the dough with spinach ham and mushrooms. The Turnover was then baked in the oven.

I thought perhaps this would be a great dish to bring to a wine tasting being held by a friend. I set out to find the recipe and it was not in any of my Julia Child cookbooks. Distressed, I went to the local Library to see if I had missed a Julia cookbook in my collection. It turned out that I had. I was missing what some say is one of her best books called From Julia Child’s Kitchen. The section called Pastry turnovers and covered tarts contained just what I was looking for.

Once home, I started on the sauce called Sauce Soubise au Gruyere. Things went rather well and I felt quite confident.

I then drained and cooked the chopped spinach. Sautéed the mushrooms and the ham and set it all aside.

Rolling out the pastry dough was easy enough since I had chosen to use puff pastry rather than the dough suggested in the book. Assembly was my next step.
The puff pastry was then filled with layers of filling and decorative touches were added to my creation. Then it dawned on me. I had rolled out the dough a bit larger that Julia instructed and the Turnover would just barely fit into my oven. Plus, since I was bringing it to someone else’s house it would be best if freshly baked- in my friend’s oven! I cleared out the top of my refrigerator then baked the turnover at my friend’s house the following day. I cannot wait to re- create my own version of the turnover on a smaller scale. Who else but Julia could inspire all of this work.