Friday, August 19, 2011

Chicken with Artichokes and Potatoes

Friday 19 August
Boiled up batons of Northside Farmers' Market Kennebec Potatoes.  Cut up some boneless chicken breasts and set them to marinate in lemon oil that we've had for what, months? and a little artichoke oil from the big ol' jar from Costco.  So essentially it was a stirfry of chicken, dressed up in the same pan with slivered artichokes, chopped green olives, and then the potatoes.  Quite yummy, though now that I think of it, a little fresh rosemary would have helped.

Sausages and Peppers

Thursday 18 August
And onions, of course.  Mild Italian sausages from Trader Joe's.

Pasta Choriatiki

Wednesday 17 August
Yes, it's Italian pasta meets Greek salad.  Chopped and drained a red and a yellow tomato, then cooked it down a little along with some cute chopped zephyr squash, until most of the liquid evaporated but it remained chunky, while the penne boiled.  At the end, tossed in penne, cubed feta, and a handful of green and purple basil, tossed well, and served.  
A perfect combination of Greek and Italian.

Pork Scaloppine, Zephyr Squash, and Brussels Sprout Leaves

Tuesday 16 August
Barbara had set out some brussels sprout plants at the beginning of spring, and one got so tall that its stem broke.  She gathered up the leaves, though, and today we tried cooking them.  
They were not as tender as rumored herebut perhaps it's the difference between summer leaves and winter leaves - cold weather is supposed to promote sweetness in cabbage, and brussels sprouts are just another type of cabbage.  On the other hand, maybe the plant was actually collards.  All we know is, as Holt fried it with sliced garlic, it popped in the pan like popcorn, and he had to duck and shout "incoming!"

The zephyr squash was simply quartered and sautéed.  The scaloppine was dusted with ground allspice and caraway seed and sautéed as well.  Though the greens were still sort of chewy, it all tasted savory and fresh as spring.

Chilaquiles rerun

Monday 15 August
From Friday.  Chilaquiles always leave the perfect amount of leftovers.

Corn on the Cob, Salmon Fillets, and Tomato Salads

Sunday 14 August
We bought local peaches-and-cream corn from the Findlay farmers' market; it boiled up sweet and fresh for a first course, with just butter and salt.  
Holt made the tomato salad from various farmers' market heirlooms and more of our Findlay market sprouts, dressed with oil and white wine vinegar.  
The salmon was crusted with tarragon and seared crispy with butter, then deglazed with white wine.  Perfectly simple, simply perfect.

Friandes of Scallop and Crab with Lemongrass-Ginger Sauce

Saturday 13 August
We had some frozen scallops and half a can of crab, and Holt found this amazing recipe on the intertubes.  It was all in Britspeak, but translated very easily; there was a conversion calculator you could click.
We baked it in the friande molds instead of the chef's rings with the zucchini ribbons.  So we cooked them for 15 minutes, and actually it should have been 20.  Topped the dish with a few boiled shrimps, whose shells also went into making the sauce.
Garnished with fresh variety of sprouts from today's trip to Findlay market.  What is Saturday without a fun and experimental recipe?

Christmas Chilaquiles

Friday 12 August
Yes, it's still August, but these chilaquiles were made with two sauces, red and green.
Green: a pound of tomatillos, whizzed up in the Robot-coupe with an onion and a handful of cilantro, then just drained with salt.
Red: a pound of banana peppers, sautéed in oil with a big clove of chopped garlic, then a few squirts of tomato paste.  I ground up a red and a yellow tomato, put that in, seasoned with medium chimayo chile, ground coriander and cumin, and boiled down until there was no liquid left.
Then there was 8 oz. colby-jack cheese, grated.
Finally, the assemblage: in a corningware casserole, some green sauce on the bottom, then 3 layers: chips, green sauce, cheese; chips, red sauce, cheese; chips, green and red sauce, then punch some holes through it and pour the seasoned custard (3 beaten eggs and a cup of milk) over to soak in.  Topped with drained yogurt and the rest of the cheese.  Baked at 375º for 30 mins. closed, then 15 mins. open, and let it rest 10 mins.  A classic comforting casserole.

Chicken, Tzaziki, and Caponata

Thursday 11 August
Barbara had already made the caponata from some adorable vegetables she bought at the Northside Farmers' Market; and the tzaziki was left over from Saturday.  With those strong flavors, all we needed was some simply-sautéed boneless chicken breasts.
So here's the way the caponata was done:
1 lb eggplant (preferably small) washed and cut into half-inch cubes
olive oil
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon double-concentrated tomato paste from a tube
about a pound of fresh, finely chopped tomatoes, with juice
3 celery ribs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 small onion, chopped
2 banana peppers, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup green olives (3 oz), pitted and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2-3 Tbsp. capers, drained
2-3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp or less salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
garnish: handful chopped flat-leaf parsley
Make tomato sauce: heat a tablespoon of oil in a saucepan and add most of the garlic; saute until golden, about a minute.  Add paste and cook a minute more, then add tomatoes and let simmer ca. 20 mins. until thick.
Oil a large skillet generously and stir-fry eggplant in one layer (in batches if necessary, adding oil as needed) until brown and tender, ca. 5 mins each.  Let drain on paper bag.
In same oiled pan, add first onion, then celery, then peppers, and finally rest of garlic, and fry until tender, about 10 minutes total.  Add tomato sauce, eggplant, olives, capers, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper, and let simmer for 15 minutes more.  Cool to room temperature; let chill in fridge overnight.  Serve sprinkled with parsley, either cold or at room temperature.

Horn & Hardart Beans and Schad's Ham

Wednesday 10 August
After the drive back from Ginger and Vaden's, all we had to do was get home, drop the bags, and heat up some leftover beans.  We had said they needed oomph, so we gave it to them with a chopped-up butt-end of Schad's ham and a dribble of cider vinegar.  Worked perfectly.

At Vaden and Ginger's

Tuesday 9 August
Vaden and Ginger have bought their own house on Indian Lake, and it is idyllic.  We went up for a visit and had an evening of good talk, sudden thunder and hail, and great food.  Ginger made us gins and tonics, accompanied by munchies of swiss cheese, some sort of loose sausage, and nuts.  Then we had corn soup, made from a recipe in the Wall Street Journal, garnished with coriander and pine nuts; and fettucine with fresh red and yellow tomato sauce. 
We had brought along one of our Canadian finds, the Featherstone new vines merlot. 
Dessert was Ginger's peach pie/cobbler with hand-whipped cream (Ginger had already gone to bed, so the other three of us were the whippers).  What a sweet end to a day on the lake.

Tuna Steaks and Summer Vegetables en Papillote

Monday 8 August
The recipe from Food & Wine called for halibut steaks, but tuna is what we have.  So we skipped the searing-the-fish step, which would have made fresh tuna too tough.  But otherwise, it was a nice variation on our usual en papillote recipe.

Fresh Metts, Sauerkraut, and Beans

Sunday 7 August
Such an American meal.  We got the Mettwurst and kraut from Eckerlin's at Findlay Market, and made the Horn and Hardart beans from the recipe we've done before.  This time we tried grinding up the onions and bacon together and pre-frying them, and it worked very well.  Used Great Northern beans, which were fine, though it really should be Navy.  Also ran out of molasses, so used brown sugar instead of regular.  The result was good, though it did need some ooomph.

Crabcakes and Tzaziki

Saturday 6 August
We figured out a good way to make extra thick and flavorful tzaziki.  Take 2 cukes, peeled, seeded, salted, and chopped small; and 2 cups plain yogurt, set to drain in cheesecloth.  Some fresh dill, in this case, from the plant outside, which has gone to seed but still has a few fronds.  A teaspoon of lemon zest.  Salt and white pepper to taste.  Mix, and let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours to let the flavors meld.
Holt made his standard crabcakeswith his own homemade panko from Wednesday.  They were perfect in texture, and golden brown.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Penne with Zucchini, Salami, and Cream

Friday 5 August

Ribeye Steaks and Chinese Long Beans

Thursday 4 August
Kroger's Supermarket has one nice feature: they often upgrade meats on sale a step (select to choice, for example), cut them extra thick, and sell them from a butcher's counter for only a buck more than the mingy sale packs.  That's how Barbara got an inch and a half well-marbled boneless ribeye for $7 a lb. yesterday, which Holt grilled up rare tonight.
She also got a spec purchase from the Northside Farmers' Market: a tress of slender Chinese Long Beans.  Most of the recipes we saw cut them up into two-inch lengths, but we couldn't believe that the Chinese would chop up a perfect longevity symbol that way.  

So Barbara winged it, and came up with this recipe:
Long Longbeans
1 hank of longbeans, ca. 1 lb., washed, dried, and ends trimmed
1 big clove garlic, grated
1 equally big chunk ginger, grated
1 tsp. chopped dried red chiles (ours came from our Chimayo ristra)
2 Tbsp. chicken water (from poaching) or broth
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
Heat your wok to high and add oil; coil the longbeans into the bottom, add some salt, and start turning them with tongs.  Keep going until they're dark green and slightly blistered/brown, about 5 minutes; set aside.
Turn down heat to medium and stir-fry garlic, ginger, and chile.  Add the chicken water/broth and soy, then return the beans to wok, toss around in the liquid, cover, and lower heat.  Simmer until they're as tender as you like them.  Serve and slurp like spaghetti.

Mushrooms Stuffed with Chard and Homemade Panko

Wednesday 3 August
We seem to be concentrating on vegetables these days, probably because they're fresh and available in various farmers' markets.  Holt foraged us up 6 big stuffin' mushrooms, but the meal needed a bit more bulk and protein, so we also finished off the lox spread - just cream cheese and Trader Joe's lox bits whipped up in the RobotCoupe - on rounds of toasted baguette.

With the rest of the baguette, Holt succeeded in making his own fresh panko!  He fed the baguette down the feeder tube of the trusty Robot Coupe, into the grater blade.  Then he toasted the fluffy crumbs in a 350º oven until they were dry, about 10-15 minutes.  We used some at once for the mushrooms.

In the meantime, we cleaned the mushrooms, took out their stems and minced them up, and minced a quarter of an onion.  While the mushroom caps were drizzled with oil and baked in the oven at 375 for 10 mins, we sautéed the mushroom and onion bits, then some chopped leaves of rainbow chard from the yard, and when all that was limp and tender, the panko.  Stuffed that into the mushroom caps and baked it for 15 minutes more, then topped with grated romano cheese and put it under the broiler until melty.  Hot enough to sear your hard palate, and we wonder why we're running the oven during a heat wave, but good when it cooled off a bit.

Dinner at Lynne and Tom's

Tuesday 2 August
It's so nice to have Lynne and Tom living here during the summer.  They invited us over for dinner and a schmooze.  Over wine and nibbles (eggplant dip, blue corn chips, and peanuts), we caught up on all the events of the summer. 
Dinner centered on The Minimalist's Arugula Pasta.

Great with extra parmesan grated over it, and a glass of wine, because these are strong flavors.
Dessert was rounds of fresh watermelon, rounding out (get it?) a perfect summer meal.  Thanks, Lynne and Tom!

Pork Tonnato Salad with Zephyr Squash

Monday 1 August
We just took the leftover pork tonnato from Saturday and shredded it up with its own tonnato sauce, helped with a little extra mayonnaise, lemon juice, and lemon oil.  Served it with the roast vegetables from the pork, nuked to reheat.

In honor of our great-nephew Zephyr, we are growing his namesake squash in the garden.  Barbara planted it before she left for Israel, and now there are four lush plants with big cheery yellow blossoms, on which we found three or four adorable green and yellow squashlets.  Tonight we ate the fruits of our first harvest, cut into batons and flash-fried with olive oil and garlic.   Almost as cute as the boy himself.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Roasted baby eggplant with pesto

Sunday 31 July
Got these cute little lavender and white speckled eggplants from the Northside Farmers' Market.  Sliced them in half lengthwise, tossed them in some salted olive oil in this pyrex pan, and arranged face down in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes, until they were tender.


Then turned them face up, smoothed homemade pesto on top, and put the oven for 5 more minutes. 
At the end, topped with some grated romano and ran under the broiler for a couple of minutes, until the cheese melted and browned a bit.  Don't look away too long though, or it'll burn.

Roast Pork Tonnato with Watermelon Tomato and Feta Salad

Saturday July 30
Since Barbara got back, Holt feels more like entertaining.  So we decided to invite some friends for a summer dinner indoors, out of the sweltering temperatures still in the 90s.  We invited Ted, who's a friend of our old buddy Priscilla, and our dear chum Julie.
Nibbles beforehand included olives, grape tomatoes, that d'amour salami that looks like hearts, manchego cheese, and lox spread on crackers.
Dinner started with Holt's signature cold canteloupe soup; not with apple juice as herebut made with orange juice, yogurt, and touches of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves.  He served it elegantly marbled with cream over the top.
Our favorite summer main course is Pork Roast Tonnato.  But this time we tried Marcella Hazan's recipe for Arrosto di Maiale Ubriaco, braised pork loin in red wine.  Despite Marcella's assurances of moist and tender, it was as dry as when we roast it plain in the oven.  So instead of giving you the recipe as we so carefully duplicated it to produce a hot dry mess, here it is as we SHOULD have done it.
B&H Tipsy Pork Roast
2 long carrots
a 2-3 lb. boneless pork center loin
a bottle of dry red wine
pinch of nutmeg
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
Peel the carrots and cut them into quarter-inch-thick long sticks.  Helping along with a skewer, thread them lengthwise, evenly-spaced about an inch and a half apart from one another, through the pork loin.  Get a dutch oven close to the size of the roast, and heat it on the fire; add oil, and sear the roast on all sides until brown. 
Remove the roast and deglaze with red wine, scraping up the brown bits; add nutmeg, bay leaves, and salt and pepper.  Put the roast back in, pour in more wine until the meat is almost covered, slosh it around a few times, and bring the heat back up until simmering.  Cover securely, and put in a 300 degree oven.  Cook it covered for a couple of hours, checking and turning about every half hour.  It's done when it feels tender when you fork it; you can then open the top and let the sauce reduce.
You could just serve it as is, with the sauce reduced and poured over it.  But for a tonnato, you cool it and cut it into thin slices so the tonnato sauce you prepared ahead of time can be poured over.
On the side, we served a novel summer salad: chopped chunks of watermelon and yellow heirloom tomato, showered with crumbled  feta cheese and fresh mint leaves, and dressed with oil and white balsamic. 
Ted is an ice-cream fan who had never had Graeter's before, so dessert was easy: all the flavors we had, coconut chip, vanilla chocolate chip, and fresh peach.  And Julie brought us homemade molasses gingersnaps, so tender and tasty.
Good friends, good food.  Who needs good weather?

Spaghetti Gazpacharrabbiata

Friday July 29
We had some gazpacho left over last night, but not enough to make an entire serving.  So the next day we cooked it down into an excellent pasta sauce, helping it along with a splash of sweetish white wine and a squeeze of tomato paste for improved texture.  Then we made it "angry" by adding the rest of the crushed chiles in oil left over from our cold noodles.  
We don't pretend that this is arrabbiata sauce, as it's made out of what was originally Spanish soup with Chinese/New Mexican flavoring.  Still, it tastes damn good on spaghetti with an abundant shower of pecorino romano, and used up these leftovers a treat.

Corn and Gazpacho

Thursday July 28
Got four ears of fresh local corn yesterday at the Northside Farmers Market, and luckily the mystery ears proved to be two each of butter-and-sugar and Silver Queen: the first sweet and a mite starchy, the latter more green and fresh.  We had it the Southwestern way, with butter, a squeeze of lime, salt, and Chimayo heirloom chile, whose redness shows you how much seasoning you're putting on the corn. 
Second course was a nice thick gazpacho made with more Farmers Market finds, including a big pink heirloom tomato, green bell pepper, bulbous green onions, and local garlic.  
You remember our linguistic tussle with gazpacho, here and here?
We have nothing to add to that, except that the better the tomatoes, the better the gazpacho.  And these (unrefrigerated, mind you) were damn good.

Cold Noodles with Sesame Sauce

Wednesday July 27
On the whole, it was like thisbut we deliberately poached a single boneless chicken breast, with a sprig of rosemary, to get shredded over the noodles.  Got the scallions and a few teeny peppers from the Northside Farmers' Market, and the cuke from Findlay.  Oh, and the sauce needed a bit more flavor, so we doctored it with a little more soy, vinegar, and chile oil (which we made from Chimayo chiles just soaked for a few hours in regular oil). 
We slurped them up as if we were in Shanghai.

Fresh Tuna and Tomatoes with Herbs

Tuesday July 26
Holt's inspiration.  He marinated a pack of defrosted Trader Joe's Albacore Chunks with olive oil, salt, and chopped fresh oregano, while Barbara harvested and chiffonaded some arugula and showered it over a bowl of one HUGE chopped yellow and red heirloom tomato.

The tuna chunks got sautéed in olive oil, then tossed in among the tomatoes, and some chopped preserved lemon went in to add salt and bite - it was the arugula that added pepper, and more bite.

Spanish Potato Salad

Monday July 25
We still had some prosciutto and a wedge of manchego cheese, which made an elegant, slightly Spanish starter on a bed of arugula from the garden.

Holt had prepared the Spanish potato salad by getting the ingredients at Findlay Market (including tiny red potatoes and sweet red pepper), and cooking and putting them together to marinate with their sweet selves the night before.

American Steak!

Sunday July 24
Holt bought a huge T-bone, and continued Barbara's re-exposure to America by simply grilling it indoors: home on the range.  He accompanied it with the old standards, mashed Yukon golds and caramelized onions with paprika.

Scallops with Tomato and Lemon Oil

Saturday July 23
Back to the blog, as Barbara just got home from Israel.  (As the Caesarea girls would say, "Yaaaaaaay!")
That's usually the signal for Holt to make a big, non-kosher dish of pork for her welcome-home dinner ("festival of trafe").  But Barbara spent an intervening week in Greece, and our old friends Mary and Susan had already made sure that she enjoyed a whole lotta chirino, from whole roast pig to brizoles to loukaniko
Still, the festal dinner had to start with some exquisite pig product: transparent slices of domestic prosciutto with some fragrant Indiana melon from the farmers' market, along with some sparkling French brut rosé as a celebratory toast.
The main course was luscious scallops with a sauce of our own (frozen) smoked tomatoes and lemon oil, inspired by this.
Dessert was fresh blackberries from the backyard of the Nice People at Findlay Market, plus Graeter's chocolate chip ice cream. 
Such reunion dinners ALMOST make up for time spent apart.  (No, not really.  But they do taste fine.)