Monday, January 31, 2011

my lunch

I made 2 roasted chickens for Saturday night's dinner.  One for dinner and one for leftovers.  So Sunday, when I got home from church, I sliced up some of my everyday crusty bread, avocados, tomatoes, and mmmmmmmmmmmmm chicken.  With a little Japanese mayo.  Heaven.
What's your favorite sandwich?

it's cold outside

It's supposed to freezing rain all night.  All day tomorrow.  All through Wednesday.

And it's weather like this that calls for a good, warm soup.  I was inspired by Throw Down with Bobby Flay where they had a salmon chowder throw down (in the Pacific Northwest, yeah!) and this food blog that I LOVE.  I had salmon in the freezer and a bunch of beautiful root vegetables in my vegetable basket, so I thought I'd make my own version ... and yes, fresh salmon is better, but we're in the Midwest here.  Definitely miss the Northwest when it comes to seafood.  Particularly the salmon.

Anyway, this soup was perfect for a cold, wintry day.  I kept it pretty brothy, but still creamy.  I love a good, thick clam chowder.  But once in a while, I like a cleaner taste and texture.  So there you go.  My attempt at salmon chowder.

Creamy Salmon soup with root vegetables
1 rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 turnip, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1.5 lbs fingerling potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped fine
4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
6 C stock (if you have seafood stock, use it.  If not, do what I did.  Whatever is in your freezer/pantry--other than beef.  This is not the time for beef stock)
1 C cream
salt and pepper to taste
3 large salmon fillets, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
minced parsley, for garnish
  1. In a large dutch oven, cook the bacon until crisp.  Drain all but 1 tablespoon of the rendered fat, add the onions and cook until softened.  Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add all of the rutabaga, turnip, potatoes, stock, and salt and pepper to taste.  Throw in the thyme and rosemary whole and put the lid on top.  Turn the heat to medium-low and let simmer until vegetables are tender.
  2. Remove thyme and rosemary (most of the leaves should have fallen off in the soup) and discard.  Add the salmon and cream.  Let gently simmer until Salmon is just cooked through.  Remove from heat and serve.  Garnish with parsley, if you want.  (obviously, I didn't have any fresh parsley in my fridge ... so sad!)

get. the. book.

Recently I received an email from my sweet Aunt Carolyn (the genius behind these rolls) informing me that she bought the book.  Yeah, THE book.  You know, the one I can't stop talking about?  The one that made me, a non-bread baker into a pretty much daily fancy shmancy bread baker?  The one that changed my life?  The one that makes 100% from scratch pizza a last minute dinner?  Yup, that one.  I'm excited to hear what her very skilled and experienced hands will create!

Go out and get the book, people!

Come on, you want this coming out of your oven.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

old favorite revisited

I haven't made this dish in a while because it's really a Summer dish.  But at Sam's club they had these beautiful little yellow cherry tomatoes that were so juicy and sweet, so I just had to give it a shot.  And I'm so glad I did!  It was a little weird eating something so fresh and bright when there's snow on everything outside of my window, but I liked pretending I was in some kind of an orchard.  It's so fun to eat good food that takes you to a different place, isn't it?

Summer Garden Pasta
serves 6
1 lb thin long pasta, such as spaghetti or linguine
extra virgin olive oil (this is the center of flavor for this dish, so get the best you can afford)
1.5 lbs cherry tomatoes, halved
1 bunch basil, sliced into thin strips (with a sharp knife to prevent bruising)
1~2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 C freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese (I like the bite this cheese has, but Parmiggiano Reggiano would be a great substitute)
1/4 teaspoon (more or less, depending on how much heat you want)
salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, garlic, basil, herbs, crushed red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper.  Pour enough olive oil to cover the tomatoes half way.  Toss to coat, cover and set aside.  Let sit on the counter for up to 4 hours.
  2. Right before serving, toss tomato and oil mixture with the cheese and set aside.  Cook pasta to al dente, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.  Drain and add directly into the tomato mixture.  Toss to coat, adding cooking liquid to loosen the sauce as needed.  Season with salt to taste.  Serve immediately alongside a slice of hearty, crusty bread to sop up the sauce.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

new year's resolution

It's actually been almost 3 months since my last post.  Unbelievable!  I don't really know what the problem was, but for a while I wasn't feeling very creative in the kitchen.  I didn't have a ton of motivation to try new recipes, experiment with new ideas or techniques, and so this blog has suffered.  Well, one of my New Year's Resolutions is to b more diligent in the kitchen.  Remember to enjoy the creative process of cooking, not just try to get to the end result as fast and easily as possible.  I got a few cherished cookbooks for Christmas, and became a lot closer to a new foodie friend, and now I feel this renewed passion for cooking.  I've missed it!

So the other day, I made a simple ham and cheese tart for dinner.  We had so much cheese in our fridge, so I had to think of a way to use some of it up.  I think it turned out perfectly.  I love the thyme and black forest ham with the complex flavors of the different cheeses.  It was a fun and successful experiment.

Cheese and Black Forest Ham Tart
serves 6
1/4 C grated Gruyere cheese
1/4 C grated Manchego cheese
1/4 C grated smoked Gouda cheese
1/4 C grated Irish cheese
(or use any combination of any cheese you think will go well together.  I liked these because each had it's own very distinct and unique, deep flavor that complimented each other really well)
1 sheet frozed puff pastry, thawed in the fridge
1/2 C caramelized onions*
4~5 super thin slices of Black Forest Ham
1/4 t fresh thyme leaves
  1. Preheat the over to 400°F.  On a floured surface, roll out the puff pastry to a 16x10 inch rectangle.  Trim the uneven edges.  Place the pastry on a baking sheet.  Lightly score a 1 inch border around the edge of the puff pastry, and prick the inside of border every 1/2 inch with a fork.  Bake until light brown, about 15 minutes.
  2. Place the slices of ham over the pastry, followed by the onions, and evenly sprinkle the cheese and thyme over the top.  Place back in the oven until the cheese is lightly browned, about 15 minutes.
I served it with a simple green salad with a lemon vinaigrette.  Helped to balance out the cheese:)

Caramelized Onions (America's Test Kitchen Recipe)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 lbs onions (about 4 medium), halved and sliced thin
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon water
  1. Melt the butter with the oil in a 12 inch non-stick skillet over high heat.  Stir in the onions, brown sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are deeply browned, about 40 minutes.
  3. Off the heat, stir in the water and season with salt and pepper to taste.