March 26, 2005

Salmon w/ Pecan Herb Crust

Made a version of Salmon with Almond Herb Crust. Replaced the almonds with pecans. And the basil with tarragon. Ended up needing to cook it 20 minutes at 325 degrees, and 10 more minutes at 375 degrees. An interesting alternate, but not as good as the almond version. Served with Monterey County 2003 Pinot Noir by Castle Rock.

Posted by Jennifer at 12:28 PM | Comments (1)
March 24, 2005

Cornmeal and Cumin Coated Pork Loin

Cornmeal and Cumin Coated Pork Loan
from Gourmet (March, 2000)

1 1/4 lb boneless pork loin, trimmed
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted and coarsely ground
3/4 tsp ground cayenne
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Pat pork dry and season with salt. Stir together cornmeal and cumin and transfer to a plate. Turn pork in cornmeal mixture to coat well and discard any remaining mixture.

Heat oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet until hot but not smoking and brown pork, turning, about 3 minutes. Transfer pork to a shallow baking pan and roast in middle of oven until a thermometer inserted diagonally at least 2 inches into pork registers 155 F, 30 to 45 minutes. Let stand, loosely covered, 10 minutes. Cut pork into 12 slices (about 1/4 inch thick).

Notes: I rubbed the pork loin with just a bit of coarse salt (the original recipe calls for seasoning with salt and pepper). The cayenne above is my own addition to the recipe, and gave it a nice little zing. Simple to prepare (and I got to use my mortar and pestle on the cumin seeds - fun!). Tender and just a teensy bit pink in the middle; very tasty.

Posted by Jennifer at 9:59 AM | Comments (4)
March 21, 2005

Ginger Beef

Ginger Beef
via Rogi's Giant Iron Wok

1 lb. lean beef, cut in thin strips across the grain
2 1/2 TBSP cornstarch
1 1/2 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP sherry
1/4 cup soy sauce
6 mushrooms thinly sliced
1 8 oz. can sliced bamboo shoots, drained
1 chunk ginger, size of a walnut, minced
2 garlic cloves minced
2 stalks green onion, cut in 1 inch pieces
3 TBSP oil
3/4 cup beef stock

Marinate the beef in 1 TBSP cornstarch, 1 TBSP sugar, soy sauce, 1/3 of the ginger, and the sherry (or water) for 15 minutes. Place in small bowl 1/2 tsp cornstarch and 1/2 cup beef broth, set aside. Heat wok over high heat. Add 1 TBSP oil to wok after it is very hot. Stir fry mushrooms and green onions until barely tender, about 1 minute. Add bamboo shoots, stir fry 1 minute. Add 1/2 tsp sugar, and 1/4 cup beef broth. Stir fry 1 minute. Remove from wok. Add 2 TBSP oil to wok and heat. Stir fry the ginger, garlic and beef 1 minute, or until barely browned. Add sauce mixture and stir until thickened. Add mushrooms, bamboo shoots and green onions. Serve with rice.

Notes: I've been meaning to try something out from Rogi's site for a while. The dishes always look so interesting. But often they have an ingredient or two that isn't easy for me to come by. The directions on his site didn't list an amount for the soy sauce so I made my best guess and have edited that in above, and left out the salt elsewhere in the recipe to compensate. Also, for my mushrooms I used shiitake. I might've tried oyster as well, but they weren't available. I think it came out pretty well, though it was a very beige dish and I might at some point in the future want to find a way to give it more color. Still, very tasty and I'm glad I gave it a shot.

Posted by Jennifer at 8:39 PM | Comments (2)
March 16, 2005

Orange-Soy Braised Pork Ribs

Orange-Soy Braised Pork Ribs
from Gourmet (January 2005)

A long, slow braise is the secret to tender meat that falls off the bone.

4 lb country-style pork ribs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Special equipment: an 11- by 17-inch flameproof roasting pan

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 325 F.

Sprinkle ribs evenly with salt.

Bring orange juice, soy sauce, sugar, ginger, garlic, and pepper to a boil in roasting pan over moderately high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add ribs in 1 layer using tongs, turning to coat, and cover pan tightly with foil.

Braise ribs in oven until very tender, about 2 hours. (If making ahead, see cooks' note, below.)

Before serving:
Reduce oven temperature to 200 F.

Transfer ribs to a baking dish, arranging them in 1 layer, and keep warm in oven.

Skim fat from cooking liquid if desired, then make glaze by boiling liquid, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until syrupy and reduced to about 3/4 cup, about 15 minutes. Brush glaze generously on ribs.

Cooks' note:
Ribs can be braised 5 days ahead and cooled completely in cooking liquid, uncovered, then chilled, covering them once they are completely cold. To reheat, set roasting pan with ribs and cooking liquid over moderate heat, covered with foil. Simmer, covered, turning once, until they are heated through, about 15 minutes, then transfer ribs to a baking dish and keep warm. Make glaze as directed.

Notes: Easy to prepare, but very hard to clean up after (I was still scrubbing the stove-top off this morning). But quite well-received and tangy in a mild way not at all like traditional BBQ and very interesting. I'm debating adding just a touch of red pepper flakes to the recipe the next time for a bit of contrast. I recommend using a low-sodium soy sauce as otherwise I suspect the dish will come out too salty.

Posted by Jennifer at 2:25 PM | Comments (2)
March 13, 2005

Spiced Biscotti

Spiced Biscotti
from Baking Illustrated

2 1/4 cups (11 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground white (or black) pepper
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
2 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
1/2 tsp vaniila extract

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spice and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.

Whisk the sugar, eggs, and yolks in a large bowl to a light lemon color; stir in the vanilla extract. Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the egg mixture, then fold in until dough is just combined.

Halve the dough and turn each portion onto the prepared baking sheet. Using floured hands, quickly stretch each portion of dough into a rough 13 by 2-inch loaf. Place the loaves about 3 inches apart on the baking sheet; pat each one smooth. Bake untli the loaves are golden and just beginning to crack on top, about 35 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. Remove the baking sheet from oven and place it on a wire rack.

Cool the loaves for 10 minutes; lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Use a wide metal spatula to transfer the loaves to a cutting board. With a serrated knife, cut each loaf diagonally into 3/8-inch-thick-slices. Lay the slices about 1/2 inch apart on the baking sheet, cut-side up, and return them to the oven. Bake, turning over each cookie halfway through baking, until crisp and golden brown on both sides, about 15 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and cool completely. Store in airtight container up to one month.

Makes about 50.

If you like, macerate 3/4 cup currants, chopped rasins, or dates in 1/4 cup brandy or Marsala for about 1 hour. Drain and fold into dough in step 2, adding a teaspoon or so of the macerating liquid.

Notes: Only my second attempt at baking biscotti. The first was Chocolate Chip Biscotti made about a year ago. This was quite different and a non-butter recipe, which according to the very informative article included in the cookbook, will also give it a longer shelf-life and a more enduring taste. But the additional yolks provide it with a rich taste that can compete with the butter-based style recipes. I took half a batch to ATD yesterday and they didn't last long, which I'll take as confirmation that the group agreed with my opinion that these were quite tasty.

Posted by Jennifer at 2:07 PM | Comments (1)
March 12, 2005

Chicken in Tarragon Cream

Chicken in Tarragon Cream
from The Herbfarm Cookbook by Jerry Traunfeld

If you're an herb lover, this dish, which takes 10 minutes to prepare from start to finish, will become a standard in your repertoire.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 1/2 pounds)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 small shallot, finely chopped (about 3 TBSP)
1/4 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 to 3 TBSP coarsely chopped fresh French tarragon
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken about 1 minute each side until they begin to brown slightly. Transfer to plate.

Reduce the heat in the skillet to low. Add the shallot and cook, stirring continuously, until softened but not browned, less than 1 minute. Add the vermouth and cook 30 seconds, then add the cream and half the tarragon. Return chicken to pan and adjust heat so cream gently simmers. Cook until chicken is just cooked through (the cookbook says 4-6 minutes, mine took about 8).

Transfer the chicken to a warmed serving platter or individual dinner plates. The sauce should be thick enough to lightly coat a spoon. If it's too thin, continue to simmer for about 1 minute. Stir in remaining tarragon and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour sauce over chicken and serve right away.

Serves 4.

Notes: It's actually been two to three weeks since I made this. I have quite a backlog of posting to do at this point. However, I know this cookbook has never let me down yet, and that still holds true. Though my memories of this dish are not as clear and vital as I'd like, I know it was good. Just perhaps not as remarkable as some others. Faint praise, perhaps. Mise en place is particularly germane in this case as the ingredients are added to the skillet in quick succession. Otherwise, the ease of making this recipe has much to recommend it as well.

Posted by Jennifer at 9:32 AM | Comments (1)
March 9, 2005

Pear Stuffed Pork Chops

Pear Stuffed Pork Chops
a Jennifer original

2 boneless pork chops, about 1 inch thick

Stuffing:
1 TBSP olive oil
1 shallot
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup Anjou pear, diced
1 tsp rubbed sage
1/3 cup blue cheese
1/3 cup pecans

Heat olive oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Saute shallots and garlic for about 2 minutes (until soft). Add pears, sage, salt and pepper (to taste). Saute until pears are soft -- about 5 minutes. Remove to a separate dish to cool. Reserve skillet. Add blue cheese and pecans to stuffing and stir to combine.

Make pockets in pork chops and fill with stuffing, using toothpicks to secure the openings. Grill 2 boneless pork chops 6 minutes per side (these were done in a cast iron covered grill pan at medium heat). Tent with foil and let rest for 10 minutes. While waiting, make sauce.

Sauce:
2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
6 TBSP white wine
1 TBSP butter

Deglaze skillet with balsamic vinegar and white wine. Reduce liquid by half and thicken with TBSP of butter. Plate pork chops and spoon sauce over top. Serve immediately.

Serves 2.

Notes: This was inspired by the winning entry created by Paige Mahaney in the "Garden Meets Grill" cookoff, which was judged by, among others, Alton Brown. I hadn't quite the same access to ingredients and accoutrements, so my dish is decidedly different. However, it was agreed that it was the best adaption to a "Jennifer Original" yet witnessed by this kitchen. A definite keeper and one I don't know how to improve! Served with Monkey Bay 2004 Sauvignon Blanc.

Posted by Jennifer at 4:13 PM | Comments (2)