Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sausage Minestra

Tonight was a rather spicy soup for dinner. Some Italian sausage links were cut into slices and sauteed in oil until browned. Some diced onion, minced garlic, Italian seasonings and crushed red pepper were added and cooked until the onion was soft. The pan was deglazed with white wine and allowed to cook down until almost evaporated. Chicken broth and chopped tomatoes were added along with some orzo and cooked until the pasta was done. A fair amount of fresh chopped spinach was stirred in until wilted and the soup was ready. The soup was delicious and really quite spicy.

Our side dish was a Romaine Salad with a Creamy Parmesan dressing. The salad did a nice job of cooling off the spice from the soup. It was a great combination!

Wednesday's Cheese Enchiladas

With Zeb and Melissa here, we decided to make cheese enchiladas and Spanish fried rice. The cheese enchiladas are an old favorite. The flour tortillas were quickly softened in a skillet with oil and then dipped in a homemade tomato/chile sauce. The dipped tortillas were filled with a combination of shredded cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese. The filled tortillas went into a casserole dish and topped with the remainder of the sauce and a sprinkling of extra cheese over the top. A quick bake in the oven and these were ready to disappear.

Our side dish was a Spanish fried rice which was fine but we recently had a Mexican rice dish that I thought was much better.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spicy Pork with Asparagus and Chile

Some coarsely ground pork was tossed with a combination of soy sauce, sherry vinegar and cornstarch and set aside In a wok some sliced asparagus, diced chile pepper and diced ginger was stir fried until crisp tender and removed. The pork mixture went into the wok and stir-fried until browned. The asparagus mixture was added back in and a combination of soy sauce, oyster sauce, and honey was added and stir fried until the pork was cooked through. The stir fry was finished with the addition of sliced scallions and salt and pepper.

This very flavorful stir fry was served over white rice.

This recipe came from the April issue of Bon Appetit.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Hash Brown "Omelet"

For today's meatless Monday dinner we had a Hash Brown "Omelet" with asparagus and chive brie. I started by steaming some asparagus tips until crisp-tender. Then I whipped some Brie cheese with just a tablespoons of cream until light and fluffy. Some chopped chives and salt and pepper were used to season the cheese.

A couple of russet potatoes were peeled, shredded, rinsed, drained and dried. A little peanut oil and unsalted butter were heated in a skillet before the layer of shredded potatoes went in and allowed to brown without stirring. The hash browns were flipped using a plate to help the process and browned on the other side. Once browned, the chive cheese mixture was spread on half and topped with the steamed asparagus spears. The "omelet" was folded in half and allowed to stand for a minute to allow the cheese to melt and the asparagus to warm up.

The omelet was cut in half and served with a green salad dressed with the best salad dressing.

Another yummy meatless Monday!

Smokin' Sunday

We decided to try poaching salmon with smoke for dinner. It was a recipe in my latest Cuisine at Home magazine and sounded intriguing. We started by lining a pot with aluminum foil and placed some apple wood chips in an even layer on the bottom. The pot then went over high heat, covered and we waited 4-6 minutes for smoke to appear. The chips were stirred and smoked for another minute before we added chopped carrots, onion, celery, garlic, coriander seeds, a bay leaf and a dried chile pepper. This mixture was allowed to smoke for another 5 minutes.

The pot was deglazed with water and then the foil was removed and discarded. The smoky stock was brought to a boil and allowed to simmer for 30 minutes before being strained. The strained stock went into the pot over low heat and salt, vinegar, fresh orange juice, and fresh lime juice were added. Salmon fillets were poached in this smoky court bouillon until just cooked through. The salmon was removed and diced tomatoes, canned black beans, and honey were added to the bouillon.

Our side dish was Hominy Hummus. A can of yellow hominy was drained and rinsed before being warmed in the smoky court bouillon. The warm hominy was removed with a slotted spoon to the food processor and pureed with sour cream, fresh orange zest, fresh orange juice, vegetable oil, ground cumin, and salt and pepper to taste.

The presentation on this dish was a little strange - some of the smoky bouillon with the tomatoes and black beans went into a bowl, a smoked salmon fillet was added and a serving of hominy hummus was spooned next to the fillet. We loved the flavor of the smoky salmon and look forward to trying that process again. There was way too much broth in our bowls, so we both ended up draining some of it out. The hummus was fine but not something I will crave again.

We rounded out dinner with a Creamy Triple Lemon Pie. The crust was made with Lemon Snaps reduced to crumbs with sugar and lemon zest added and held together with some unsalted melted butter. The crust was baked to a golden brown and allowed to cool slightly.

Meanwhile the filling was made by beating egg yolks until light and fluffy before adding sweetened condensed milk and mixing again until light and fluffy. Some fresh lemon juice and fresh grated lemon zest helped to intensify the lemon flavor on this layer. The filling went into the cooled crust and baked for about 10 minutes until just set. Once cooled, the pie was refrigerated until serving time. A slice was served with whipped cream which was sweetened with powdered sugar and flavored with lemon zest and vanilla extract. The crust, the filling and the whipped cream each had either lemon juice, lemon zest or both to round out the lemon theme of this dessert.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Popcorn Scallops

Tonight was the first time I made Popcorn Scallops which we put into tacos. The process started by dredging tiny bay scallops in cornstarch seasoned with salt and pepper. They then went into seasoned beaten eggs and finally into Panko breadcrumbs. They got a quick fry in Canola oil until golden brown on both sides. These crispy popcorn scallops went into a soft flour tortilla with a leaf of red leaf lettuce, some sliced fresh mango, sliced red onion and some Cilantro-Avocado Crema.

The Crema was a simple mixture of sour cream, fresh cilantro, olive oil, garlic, and avocado all pureed in the food processor. A final touch of fresh lime juice, and salt and pepper rounded out the crema.

Our side dish was Mexican Rice with Green Peas. We started by sauteing chopped onion, tomato paste, minced jalapeno, garlic and ground cumin for a couple of minutes. We added some chicken broth, rice and chopped fresh tomato and cooked in the usual way. Once the rice was done, we fluffed it and added some green peas.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Pan-Roasted Lamb Chops with Red Wine-Black Currant Sauce

Friday night is Gerry's choice and at least half of the time he chooses lamb which is amazing to me since he really did not like lamb until a few years ago. Tonight's entree came from our Bobby Flay Cooks American cookbook. The rib chops were seasoned with salt and pepper and seared in oil over high heat on the stove top and then transferred to the oven to finish cooking. The chops were then transferred to a plate and allowed to rest.

In the same pan, shallots, celery and carrots were browned and then the pan was deglazed with wine and allowed to reduce. Some chicken stock went in and was allowed to reduce again. The sauce was strained into a small saucepan and peppercorns and currants were added. The sauce was finished by whisking in butter and tarragon.

The chops were served with the sauce drizzled over. The sides were garlic mashed potatoes, and roasted broccoli.

Another delicious dinner!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cheeseburger Soup

Wednesdays are reserved for Zeb and Melissa to have dinner at our house. Since Melissa had her tonsils out 1 1/2 weeks ago, she is still having trouble eating solid foods. A comment she made over the weekend is what prompted tonight's dinner choice. She said she couldn't wait to have a burger...we decided cheeseburger soup was the next best thing.

This soup was a perfect blend of a soup with the flavors of a cheeseburger. It started with browning ground sirloin in butter with chopped onion, celery, carrot and garlic. Once browned, some chicken broth, diced potatoes and basil were added and allowed to cook through. Meanwhile a bechamel sauce was made and once the potatoes were tender, the bechamel was stirred in and allowed to come to a simmer.

The final touch to the soup was to add grated Cheddar cheese, ketchup, mustard, and salt and pepper stirring until the cheese was melted. The soup was garnished with home made shoestring fries and chopped pickles.

The flavors of this fun soup totally made you think about a cheeseburger!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fish Packets with Orange-Tarragon Butter

The recipe for tonight called for flounder fillets, but we substituted halibut. The salted and peppered fillets went on to a piece of parchment paper and then topped with matchstick cut snow peas, carrots, and with diced yellow peppers which were blanched. Each packet then got a topping of orange-tarragon butter which was made with softened butter, finely chopped fresh tarragon, grated orange rind, salt and cayenne pepper. The parchment packets were sealed and baked in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes and then allowed to stand for 5 minutes.

Our side dish was rice topped with a little more of the orange-tarragon butter.

Gerry really enjoyed this dinner and I thought it was okay. I ate most of it but I couldn't decide if the fish taste fishy or if it was too much tarragon. I won't be giving many stars to this recipe.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Israeli Couscous with Moroccan-Roasted Butternut Squash

A butternut squash was peeled and cut in to thin slices, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with ground cinnamon, ground red pepper, ground cumin and salt before going into the oven to roast.

Meanwhile, Israeli couscous went into an oiled pan to saute for a minute before water and salt and pepper were added. The couscous was brought to a boil and simmered until done. It was removed from the heat before kalamata olives, parsley, and toasted almonds were added.

The couscous was topped with the seasoned, roasted butternut squash which made for a wonderfully spicy meal.

Sunday Secrets

Sunday night was a Secrets of a Restaurant Chef dinner. I had watched a taped episode where Anne made Sole Meuniere and a Wilted Bitter Green Salad with Crispy Walnut Goat Cheese.

I started by slicing a log of goat cheese into rounds, seasoning the disks with salt and pepper and then dredging them in beaten eggs and then into a mixture of finely chopped walnuts, fresh white breadcrumbs, chopped chives and parsley. The breaded goat cheese disks got a chill in the refrigerator for an hour or so and then popped in the freezer for 15 minutes right before sauteeing them in hot oil. Once golden on both sides the cheese went in to a warm oven while the dressing was made in the same skillet. In a little more olive oil, some diced shallots were allowed to soften, some Dijon mustard was whisked in with some sherry vinegar. Some bitter greens were added to the dressing in the pan and allowed to warm until wilted. The salad was plated with the breaded goat cheese and was absolutely delicious.

We then moved on to the fish which was supposed to be sole which I couldn't get at my local supermarket, so I substituted tilapia fillets. The fillets got a quick saute in a non-stick skillet after being seasoned with salt and pepper and dredged in flour. Once floured, the fish immediately went in to the hot skillet creating a perfect crispy crust on the outside. They then went into the oven next to the goat cheese to stay warm while the sauce was made.

In the same skillet, some butter was melted with some fresh thyme leaves. When the butter was completely melted and bubbly, fresh lemon juice was whisked in. Once browned and bubbly again, salt and fresh parsley were whisked in.

The fish fillets were plated and covered with a spoonful of sauce and we served it with a side of oven roasted broccoli and cauliflower.

A very simple, and yet delicious dinner!

Major Milestones of Life

There are some milestones in life that make you take a step back and cherish the moment and the many memories that get you to that point - a major wedding anniversary like 25 years or 35 years, the birth of a child or grandchild, or the marriage of your daughter. All of these events make you think about who you are, re-evaluate what's important in your life and re-dedicate yourself to those people who matter most. Life is really about the people you spend your time with and, of course, the food consumed in the process. Stephanie and David were married on 3/11/11 and the wedding has been all-consuming the past few weeks, hence no blogs.

The wedding was spectacular and very special just like the bride and groom. We had a house full of family with us and enjoyed every minute spent with them. Of course, we cooked up some of our favorite meals: Vodka Cream Pasta with grilled chicken and shrimp, Brown Sugar and Mustard Glazed Salmon, Flat-Iron Steak with Red Wine Sauce, Scampi over Couscous, and Chicken Tikka Masala.

Now that this major event is over, life will get back on an even keel and I will get back to blogging about the most consistent thing in our lives; "what will dinner be tonight?"