Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sopressata Sandwich with Fried Egg and Pizza Pasta

Spicy fried soppressata (or salami), prosciutto, fried egg, gooey mozzarella, paper-thin slices of red onion, fresh basil, and Michael Symon's Shasha Sauce are sandwiched between crispy golden sourdough bread to make one decadent sandwich. This is a sandwich that is fitting for breakfast, lunch or dinner. So many flavors in this sandwich, it is definitely a winner.
Soppressata Sandwich with Fried Egg and Shasha Sauce
Adapted from Michael Symon's Live to Cook
Serves 1
2 paper-thin slices red onion
4-6 thin slices soppressata or dry-cured Italian Salami
1 large egg
2 slices prosciutto
2 thin slices fresh mozzarella
2 thick slices sourdough bread, toasted or grilled
4 large fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons Shasha Sauce (recipe follows)
Soak the onion in a small bowl of ice water for 2 minutes. (Takes the raw bite out)

While the onion is soaking, in a medium nonstick saute pan over low heat, fry the soppressata over medium-high heat until lightly crisp and some fat has rendered, about 2 minutes per side. Remove it to a plate. In the same pan, fry an egg sunny-side up.

While the egg is cooking, drain the onion slices and layer the soppressata, prosciutto, mozzarella, and onion slices on a slice of bread. Top with the other slice and place the sandwich in the pan next to the egg, pressing down on the sandwich with the palm of your hand. When that side is lightly toasted, about 3-4 minutes, flip the sandwich and toast the other side.

Remove the sandwich to a cutting board, and open the sandwich. Lay down the basil leaves, place the egg in the center, and spoon on the Shasha sauce. Close the sandwich and slice it in half to serve.

Michael Symon's Shasha Sauce is a well-loved family recipe made from hot banana peppers, garlic, yellow mustard, white wine vinegar, sugar and all-purpose flour. It is tangy, sweet, and mildly hot and while I did not enjoy it on it's own, it really did compliment the Sopressata sandwich well.
Shasha Sauce
Adapted from Michael Symon's Live to Cook
12 hot banana peppers
4 garlic cloves
1 cup yellow mustard
1 cup white wine vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Slice the top of the peppers and coarsely chop them. Toss them into a food processor with the garlic, mustard, and vinegar, and puree.

Pour the puree into a nonreactive saucepan, add the sugar, and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Mix the flour and 1/2 cup water to a smooth paste. Whisk it into the simmering liquid and return the mixture to a simmer. Cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring regularly until very thick. Let the sauce cool, pour it into a nonreactive container, and refrigerate for up to 1 month.

I guess I'm celebrating my love for Italian cured meats this week because I also made this Pizza Pasta Casserole which I found over on Tina's site, Life in the Slow Lane at Squirrel Head Manor. This is such a fun recipe and can be customized with whatever toppings you enjoy on your pizza.

Browned Italian sausage, pepperoni, cooked pasta, onion, green peppers, mushrooms, pizza sauce and both cheddar and mozzarella are layered into a slower cooker and cooked on low for 3 hours. You can definitely make this recipe your own by tossing in extra veggies or meats. The next time I make it I'd love to try black olives, artichoke hearts, maybe spinach. The sky's the limit! Head on over to Tina's site by clicking HERE for the recipe. Thanks Tina for a great recipe! This was a definite family pleaser.

I am submitting the Pizza Pasta Casserole to I Heart Cooking Clubs for this week's Lunch Box theme.

I am submitting Michael Symon's Sopressata Sandwich to my friend Deb @ Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sundays roundup.

Both the Sopressata Sandwich and Shasha Sauce were for this round of Symon Sundays hosted by Ashlee of Veggie By Season.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Puerto Rican Grilled Pork Chops with Sparkling Barbecue Sauce

Steve Raichlen's newest book Planet Barbecue! is a huge book dedicated to barbecue recipes from all over the world. The book itself is a fun read detailing the origin of the recipe, the background and the method. I will warn you though. Once I opened this book I was compelled to look through every page, all 600 and some odd one setting. Looking through this book is like taking a relaxing trip around the world, right in the peace and quiet of your own home.

These pork chops are seasoned with a Spanish-Caribbean rub and basted with annatto (achiote) oil while grilling. They are served with a Sparkling Barbecue Sauce made from lemon-lime soda, ketchup, sweet red barbecue sauce, liquid smoke and black pepper. The lemon-lime soda gives the barbecue sauce both a sweet and sour flavor and, according to Steve, is a popular way to make barbecue sauce in Spanish-speaking countries.

Steve says "Here's a version of the Puerto Rican Pork Shoulder made with pork chops and quick enough to be prepared on a weeknight."

Puerto Rican Grilled Pork Chops

Adapted from Planet Barbecue!
4 pork chops (each 8-10 ounces and 1 inch thick)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive or veg oil
2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons annatto seeds
One recipe Sparkling BBQ sauce (recipe follows)

Arrange the pork chops in a baking dish just large enough to hold them in a single layer. Lightly brush the chops on both side with the olive oil.

Combine the salt, oregano, granulated garlic, pepper, and sage in a bowl and stir with your fingers to mix. Sprinkle the rub over the pork chops on both sides, patting the spices onto the meat with your fingers. Let the chops cure in the refrigerator, covered for 15-30 minutes.

Make the annatto oil by heating the vegetable oil in a small saucepan. Add the annatto seeds and cook until fragrant and brown and the oil turns a bright orange, 2-4 minutes. Immediately, strain the oil into a heatproof bowl. Discard the annatto seeds.

Set the grill for direct grilling and preheat it to high. When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Arrange the chops on the hot grate at a diagonal to the bars. Grill the chops until browned on the outside and cooked through, 4-6 minutes per side. Give each chop a quarter turn on each side after 2 minutes to create a handsome crosshatch of grill marks. Start basting the chops with the annatto oil after 1 minute, basting them several times on both sides.

Transfer the chops to a platter or plate. Serve at once, which the Sparkling Barbecue Sauce, if desired, although the chops are so flavorful, you don't really need a sauce.

Sparkling Barbecue Sauce

1 cup lemon-lime soda, such as 7up
1 cup ketchup
1 cup of your favorite sweet red bbq sauce
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Place everything in a saucepan and whisk to mix. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium heat and let simmer until thick and richly flavored, about 15 minutes.

Notes/Results: My family tore through these pork chops in record time and everyone loved the vibrant orange color from the annatto oil. The seasoning on the pork chops was so fragrant and flavorful that you really don't need the sparkling barbecue sauce, but it is a nice accompaniment to the pork. I was in love with the idea of sparkling barbecue sauce and it was so much fun to make. The lemon-lime soda (Sprite or 7up) fizzes and bubbles away on the stove top making snap, crackle and pop noises while it cooks. I feel like the soda gives the barbecue sauce a lighter and fresher flavor. Overall it was an excellent dish and one that I would make again.

This is my submission to this month's Regional Recipes, currently celebrating Puerto Rico and hosted by my lovely friend Joanne of Eats Well With Others.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A New Take on Tacos: Herbie's Tacos

The secret ingredient to these tacos is Italian dressing! Sounds crazy, right? Herbie's Tacos is a recipe I found in Katie Lee's second book, The Comfort Table: Recipes for Everyday Occasions. Crispy fried white corn tortillas are stuffed with a spicy and extremely flavorful ground turkey filling and then topped with lettuce, scallions, cilantro, tomatoes and avocado that have been dressed in Italian dressing. According to Katie, "If they're not dripping down your hands, you didn't do something right."

Herbie's Tacos
Adapted from Katie Lee's The Comfort Table:Recipes for Everyday Occasions
6-8 servings (24 tacos)
For the taco meat:
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup minced cilantro
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
one 7-ounce can chopped green chiles (medium heat)
2 pounds ground turkey
2 tablespoons garlic salt (2 tbsp. is a bit salty, 1 tbsp. is probably enough)
1/4 cup chili powder
1/4 cup hot taco sauce, plus more for serving
1/4 cup green taco sauce, plus more for serving
For the Salad:
1 head of iceberg lettuce, shredded
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
1/2 cup minced cilantro
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cup Italian-Style Vinaigrette Dressing
For the Shells:
1 cup canola oil
24 white corn tortillas
For Garnish:
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream

For the Taco Meat: In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil, cilantro, and scallions. Add the chiles and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in the turkey, using a wooden spoon to break up the meat. As the meat is browning, stir in the garlic salt and chili powder. When turkey has cooked through, about 8-10 minutes, stir in the hot sauce and green sauce. Lower the heat to a simmer. Stir occasionally.

For the Salad: As the meat simmers, in a large bowl, toss all salad ingredients with the dressing. Refrigerate until needed.

For the Shells:
Line a baking sheet or large plate with paper towels. In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, use tongs to place a tortilla gently in the oil one at a time. After only 5 seconds, in one motion, turn the tortilla over and fold it in half. Cook 20 seconds, flip and cook an additional 20 seconds. Lift out of the oil and drain on the paper towels. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, one at a time. (The shells should not be too crisp when they come out of the oil. If they become too crisp tacos will be difficult to stuff).

Assemble the tacos by spooning the meat into shells and topping with cheese, salad and sour cream.

Notes/Results: This recipe really exceeded my expectations. The taco filling had BIG FLAVOR, more so than any I've tasted before. Looking at the filling you could see all the green flecks of cilantro and scallions and there was hints of garlic with a little bit of heat from the chiles and the taco sauce. The salad with the Italian dressing was a fun touch and added extra flavor that married well with the taco filling. I didn't make my own taco shells as stated in the recipe and confess to using boxed taco shells but these were still some fabulous tacos. Loaded down with big flavor these tacos are a fabulously messy flavor explosion that will indeed drip down your hands and onto your arms as you eat. I will be making these again and also topping my tacos with Italian dressing in the future.

I am a complete saltaholic and found the seasoning in this recipe to be right on. For anyone who does not like very salty food, I would suggest reducing the garlic salt to 1 tablespoon.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Jalapeno Roasted Chicken, Chile and Cheese Rice, and Vanilla-Pineapple Agua Fresca

I've really been enjoying Marcela Valladolid's new show Mexican Made Easy. I love the way Marcela uses Mexican flavors and turns them into fresh, light and gorgeous dishes. On a recent episode entitled "Mexican Family Style", Marcela made a Jalapeno Roasted Chicken and it made me wonder why I hadn't ever thought of something like that before. I watched her as she made a jalapeno paste out of oregano, butter, garlic, shallot, jalapeno, olive oil and salt and pepper. She rubbed it under the chicken skin and then she rubbed it all over the chicken. I got out my grocery list and started making notes!

I knew that Marcela's Jalapeno Roasted Chicken was going on the menu right away, but then she carried on making a delicious looking rice with fresh corn and poblano peppers. I watched her pour Mexican crema over the rice and top it with Monterey Jack cheese and set it under the broiler to melt and brown.

As soon as she pulled her Chile and Cheese Rice out of the oven I knew I had to make that too! Do you know what she had the nerve to do next?

She whipped up a batch of Vanilla-Pineapple Agua Fresca right before my eyes! I watched as she cut up a fresh pineapple and placed it in a blender with vanilla, water and a bit of sugar. She poured that golden pineapple juice into a glass pitcher and it looked so creamy and frothy. I was captivated. I was excited. I knew I had to make the entire meal and fast!

Notes/Results: This was such a wonderful Sunday supper! I loved every component. The chicken skin turned a perfect golden brown and was crispy crunchy. The breast meat was incredibly moist with just the right hint of heat from the jalapeno. (The kids ate the legs and thighs which weren't as spicy because the jalapeno paste is only rubbed under the skin of the breast meat). I had some potatoes to use up so I placed them under the chicken as it roasted and they turned out so tender, buttery, and flavorful. The rice was so aromatic with a wonderful toasty flavor. The poblano pepper added a nice mellow heat to the rice and I loved the pop from the corn kernels. The Monterey Jack on top of the rice adds such a lovely quality and doesn't over take the taste of the rice at all. The Vanilla-Pineapple Agua Fresca is the perfect sipper for this meal. It's gorgeous, sweet, frothy and refreshing! I loved everything about this meal and found it exciting and new. I'll definitely be making it again and highly recommend it.

You can find the links to all three recipes HERE on the Food Network website.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Banana-Vanilla Shake

I discovered this shake exactly ten days ago. I've made it every day since then...yes, ten days in a row. Yes, I have a problem! I'm hoarding bananas in my freezer, I've gone through a whole bottle of vanilla, and I'm shoving this shake in everyone's face insisting that they'll love it(don't worry...I'm not pushy at all). I've washed my blender so many times that I have dishpan hands and yet I still have to have it. Do you all do that? Do you get addicted to something so bad that you have to keep putting it in your mouth until you get your fix? I do. I'm obsessive-compulsive that way. I'll love something so much that I'll have to keep indulging in it until I'm over it. Thankfully this Banana-Vanilla Shake is actually pretty healthy and I'm so happy that Pam over at Sidewalk Shoes pointed it out. Thanks Pam!

Banana-Vanilla Shake
Adapted from Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything
1 ripe banana, frozen or room temp **I prefer frozen
1 cup milk
1/2 cup crushed ice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
sugar or simple syrup to sweeten **I use about 2 tablespoons sugar

Add everything to your blender and blitz it up to desired consistency. Enjoy!

Cold, creamy, thick, icy and just the right sweetness! This recipe just speaks to me. I'm sure we all have our favorite smoothie recipes and this one is now my go-to. I enjoy it best with frozen bananas and about 2 tablespoons of sugar. I'm not sure why this is called a shake and not a smoothie, but either way I'm crazy about it! I enjoy the smoothie/shake just as the recipe is written, however my husband enjoys it best with a little Hershey's chocolate syrup mixed in. My daughter likes hers with some frozen strawberries mixed in. And last but not least, my little guy likes his best frozen....................

just like this!

P.S. Even though I divorced my Zoku Quick Pop Maker, I'm also stubborn and I have to keep messing with it. I had some leftover shake and decided to pour it into the molds and it was a great success. The pops slipped right out of the molds! You shoulda seen my face when I pulled those pops out "Ha-Ha you tricky little Zoku machine...I lose!"

This is my submission to I Heart Cooking Clubs for the Can I Have A Sip? theme.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Mario Batali Pizza Roundup!

If there was ever a reason to buy Mario's newest book, this is it!! Mario's pizza dough is definitely the star of Molto Gusto.I would go so far to say that pizza is probably the central focus of Molto Gusto, taking a full 30 pages of the book (pictures and recipes combined). If you're wondering whether Mario's pizza is swoon-worthy, have no doubts. It is superb!

Mario calls for "00" flour which I have a very hard time finding in these parts. I ordered both the Perfect Pizza Flour and also the Pizza Dough Flavor from the King Arthur website. There was definitely a difference in the pizza flour. It was ground very fine and was very soft, making for a very smooth and malleable dough. It was a joy to work with.

The coolest thing about Mario's pizza dough is that one batch of dough makes 8 little (personal-sized) pizzas which are first parcooked stovetop using a hot griddle. After the pizzas are parcooked on the griddle they are topped with the toppings of your choice and placed under the broiler for around 7-8 minutes each, or until desired doneness. The exciting part about this is that the parcooked pizzas keep very well in the refrigerator making it very easy for you to make homemade pizzas in less than 10 minutes. Genius!!

First up and extremely delicious is Mario's Pizza Bianca. The Pizza Bianca is a wonderful way to really appreciate the pizza dough itself. The pizza dough is parcooked on the griddle and then placed under the broiler for 1 -2 minutes, until lightly toasted. It is drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with salt.

Pizza Bianca is absolutely delicious on it's own. I love the way the dough bubbles up creating air pockets-yum! We loved this version so much that we enjoyed 3 out of 8 pizzas this way. It's the perfect example of simple and delicious.

The next pizza was Mario's Margherita D.O.P topped with Pomi strained tomatoes, 1 small ball of fresh mozzarella and fresh basil leaves. You can't beat those classic Italian flavors. This version was my pick for my personal pizza and I loved it!

Lastly, we have Mario's Pepperoni Pizza topped with some huge slices of pepperoni I found at a deli in Lexington. It was everything we wanted it to be and then some. We made a total of four pepperoni pizzas!

Notes/Results: This is an awesome recipe for pizza dough and I highly recommend buying the book. (I would love to share the recipe, but it is a full 3 pages long and would make for quite a long post). Mario has a wide range of pizza toppings in the book, from fun to adventurous. Molto Gusto is probably one of my top three favorite cookbooks this year. It is a very approachable book with gorgeous pictures and very tasty recipes. This pizza dough rocks and will be my new go-to pizza recipe. I simply can't get over the fact that you can parcook the pizzas and store them in the refrigerator. They are perfect to have on hand for after school snacks, perfect for family or game night, perfect for entertaining. I will be making another batch soon.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cheesy-Spicy Corn and Corn Chip Salad

This corn salad was featured in the most recent copy of Rachel Ray's Everyday Magazine. It caught my attention right away because it looked like a fun and unique way to enjoy all that fresh and wonderful corn that is available right now. This salad is a combination of corn, which has been cooked and sliced off the cob, shredded monterey jack cheese, shredded iceberg lettuce, chopped bell peppers, chopped jalapenos, sliced red onion, and chopped cilantro. Everything gets tossed with a bit of mayo and then topped with crushed Fritos. This salad makes for a gorgeous presentation and we really enjoyed it.

Cheesy-Spicy Corn and Corn Chip Salad
Adapted from Rachel Ray's Everyday Mag September 2010 issue
Serves 4
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, shredded (I used romaine)
8 ears corn, cooked, kernels sliced off the cob
2 red or orange bell peppers, chopped
2 chopped jalapeno chiles
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup mayo
1/4 cup chopped cilantro or parsley
salt and pepper
3 cups corn chips, such as Fritos, crushed

In a large bowl, mix the cheese, lettuce, corn, bell peppers, jalapenos, onion, mayo and cilantro; season with salt and pepper. Just before serving, top the salad with the corn chips.

Notes/Results: We loved it! I halved the recipe and it was easily enough to serve four as a side dish. The salad was super colorful with lots of wonderful flavors and textures. The sweetness of the corn was brought out by all the other ingredients. We loved it and think it would make a great contribution to a summer party or potluck. I will be making this one again!

This Cheesy-Spicy Corn and Corn Chip Salad is my contribution to this week's Souper Sundays hosted by my friend Deb at Kahakai Kitchen.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Farewell to Popsicle of the Week: A Trio of Tropical Popsicles

Betcha didn't know that I have a popsicle tree in my backyard!!

LOL! I've had a hard time with the natural light inside my house and taking pictures SO I decided to take it outside. It seems the best place to take pictures outside is right by my little palm tree on the back patio. I had to laugh when I made three popsicles and all three had the palm tree in the background. It's like a magical popsicle tree............ wouldn't that be fun?

I had a little time to myself the other day and remembered girlichef's Mango on a Stick. Even though it is in fact a mango on a stick, it rates as a sort of popsicle in my book. Girli says "A warm, ripe mango is skewered, peeled, sliced into petals, doused with the juice of a lime, then sprinkled with salt and chile piquín." Please visit her post HERE to read her seductive description of this glorious treat! It truly was one of the best treats I've had in some time. Outside on the back patio I was like a kid again, mango juice dripping down my arms, chili powder all over my face, it was the perfect way to enjoy some down time! Thanks Heather! (Note: Feel free to poke fun at my "so called petals". I can take it:) I never claimed to be much of an artist).

Taking a page from my friend Natashya at Living in the Kitchen with Puppies, I wanted to make at least one popsicle with alcohol this summer so I tried my hand at mixing banana nectar and Bahamian vanilla rum (4ozs. nectar to 1 oz. rum). The addition of the rum helped the pops to stay on the softer side, which I really enjoyed. Plus, I really did taste the rum which was a nice grown up twist on a popsicle. I can't wait to experiment with different flavors and types of alcohol! Click HERE to check out Nastashya's Easy-Peasy Raspberry Ice Pops made with a handful of frozen raspberries and some raspberry liqueur.

The third pop is a really fun one from Erica's site, My Colombian Recipes. When Erica posted her Paletas de Coco con Bocadillo (Coconut and Guava Paste Popsicles) I knew I had to try them. Thanks to Velva at Tomatoes on the Vine, I had just enough guava paste left to make a batch of these delicious pops. Let me tell you, these are some decadent pops. How can you resist that wonderful combination of coconut milk, heavy cream and sweetened condensed milk? I was really excited to try these, not only because they have tasty little chunks of guava paste, but also because I had never made a pop with sweetened condensed milk before. The consistency of this pop was so creamy that it was almost like an ice cream pop. We loved eating them and biting into a chewy frozen chunk of the guava paste. They were a real treat! Please click HERE to see Erica's recipe.

For my last popsicle post I wanted to compile a list of favorites but as I was taking notes I realized that they all were favorites. We liked them all for different reasons. Popsicles are such a fun treat and the Popsicle of the Week feature has been one of the most fun projects I've taken on in awhile. All in all, I think I made about 15-16 popsicles and there are still lots of recipes that I'd like to try. There were some challenges along the way, mostly issues with unmolding pops from the Zoku or other various molds.

Although I won't be posting popsicles weekly, I will still be making them from time to time. In fact, I have a few in mind once fall begins!!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Mexican Chicken with Jalapeno Popper Sauce and Chili Powder-Scented Rice

This recipe for Mexican Chicken with Jalapeno Popper Sauce is one of my new favorites. I found the recipe over at Julie's great blog, Mommie Cooks. I knew instantly that we would love it and I was right. I made it last week and put it back into the dinner rotation for this week. It's creamy, spicy and soul satisfying and will definitely be a regular dinner staple for us.

Julie created a genius recipe when she put this together. What's not to like about spice rubbed chicken served with a decadently creamy cheese sauce spiked with minced jalapeno peppers, cilantro and bacon? It's perfectly delicious. Please visit Julie's site HERE to check out her gorgeous step by step pictures.

The chicken is perfectly delicious on it's own, but does go well with rice. I decided to spice up my rice today and made Mark Bittman's Chili Powder-Scented Rice for this week's potluck theme over at I Heart Cooking Clubs. Bittman offers a lot of variations on spicing up your rice, suggesting cumin, anise, caraway, curry, all kinds of fun ideas. I'm glad I chose the chili powder. Not only did it pair well with our meal, but it was a fun red color.

Chili Powder-Scented Rice
Adapted from Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything
Makes 4 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2-1/2 cups chicken, beef or veggie stock (or water), heated to the boiling point
minced cilantro leaves for garnish

Place the oil in a medium saucepan or skillet over medium heat. A minute later, add the onion and cook, stirring, until it wilts, 3-5 minutes.

Add the chili powder (or spice you are using) and stir to coat with oil; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute; add salt and pepper.

Turn the heat to low and add the liquid. Cover and cook 15 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed. Garnish and serve.

Head on over to I Heart Cooking Clubs today to check out everyone's potluck dishes! Better yet, join the fun and cook along with us. We still have 7 more weeks to celebrate Mark Bittman.

I'm also sending this over to Brenda at Brenda's Canadian Kitchen for her Cookbook Sundays.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Symon Sundays: Slash and Burn Grouper and Zucchini Crudo

I've decided to join in the fun with the Symon Sundays group who is cooking their way through Michael Symon's new book, Live to Cook. This time around they are making Symon's Slash and Burn Grouper and Zucchini Crudo.

The grouper is slashed and seasoned with jerk seasoning, seared on one side and finished in the oven. It is served with a pan sauce made from seafood stock, a nice amount of butter, fresh lime juice and roasted red pepper. Succulent, meaty and buttery this is one deliciously tasty way to enjoy any fish fillet. I spiced mine up with some extra cayenne pepper and served it with a habanero pepper on the side. We really wanted to feel the burn on this one! The recipe for the grouper can be found at Joanne's site, Eats Well With Others, HERE.

The zucchini crudo was a combination of zucchini and yellow squash sliced very thinly and combined with garlic, shallot, lemon juice and zest, olive oil, dill and sliced almonds. The texture of the almonds was wonderful against the thinly sliced squash and the dill brought the whole salad together giving it that incredible fresh flavor that only dill can deliver. The recipe for the zucchini crudo can also be found on Joanne's site, by clicking HERE.

I enjoyed both dishes and felt they were both full of flavor.I had never tried grouper before and was lucky to find a grouper fillet from a new vendor at our farmer's market this morning. I was really impressed with the meatiness of the grouper and look forward to cooking with it more in the future. We enjoy spicy foods and loved the heat in the slash and burn grouper. It was the perfect amount of heat! The zucchini crudo would be a fabulous summertime staple, very delicious.

I am also submitting the Zucchini Crudo to Deb over at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sundays roundup of soups, sammies and salads.

The Symon Sundays roundup will be featured on Ashlee's blog A Year in the Kitchen tomorrow. If you would like information about joining, you can view Ashlee's sidebar for the upcoming schedule of recipes.

Note: I apologize about the pictures of the grouper. I'm rather burnt out on picture taking lately. To complicate things, I've been relying on the natural light coming in my kitchen window to shoot all my pictures. This past week the contractors in our subdivision cut down a huge row of trees right by my window and now I get way too much sun through my "picture-taking window."

This leads me to ask you all a few questions...............

Where do you take your pictures? Do you use natural light? Do you take them outside? Do you have a lightbox? Any ideas/suggestions are welcome!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Recipe #55 - Stirring the Pot: Fried Chicken with Buttermilk Cherry Tomatoes

About a year and a half ago I decided that I was going to cook my way through Tyler's book, Stirring the Pot. I liked the way Tyler's book was broken down into rather unique chapters, each chapter celebrating a specific cooking technique: Roast; Saute; Braise; Fry; Grill; Bake; Steam; Fresh and Raw. At that time I was pretty good at roasting,sauteing, braising and baking. Fresh and problem! However, when it came to frying, grilling, and steaming I had no experience......and I still don't! Somehow I have managed to put off the recipes in those chapters (I'm definitely one to procrastinate).

Well, I'm procrastinating no longer. Awhile back my husband bought a deep fryer because we thought it would be easier to regulate the temperature of the oil that way. The deep fryer makes things easier for me and I like the fact that it frees up the stove top. I practiced my deep-frying by making french fries in the fryer and learned that it ran on the hot side. If a recipe calls to fry at 375F, I've learned to turn my fryer down to around 325F. After some practice I thought I had a pretty good handle on frying......but that was not the case.

My first batch of fried chicken cooked all the way through but the coating was very dark. I turned the oil down and decided to cook the chicken a little longer on the second batch. When the second batch came out the coating was perfect, but the chicken was still pink inside..........really not good! I turned the temperature back up a tad and fried the third batch. You know what they say about the third time being a charm? Well, thank God the third time was a charm! Each batch fried for about 20 minutes, meaning that I stood in the kitchen lording over the fryer for an hour and I was in no mood for raw or burnt chicken.

Tyler's fried chicken is marinated in buttermilk and hot sauce which makes the chicken very tender. The coating is made from all purpose flour, garlic powder, onion powder, sweet paprika, and cayenne pepper and has quite a bit of flavor. He serves his fried chicken with ancho cress or any other peppery lettuce, as well as sliced cherry tomatoes and a homemade buttermilk blue cheese dressing. In the book Tyler pours the buttermilk blue cheese dressing over the fried chicken. We decided to serve ours on the side. Overall I would say that this is a solid recipe for fried chicken. The chicken was tender and the coating was flavorful with all the spices. I don't know if I would make it again, but then that might not be a fair statement since I'm not much on frying. You can find the recipes online HERE and HERE.

Next up from Stirring the Pot is Tempura Green Beans with Chile, Garlic, and Sesame Aioli! I think I nabbed the last of the fresh green beans and I'm really looking forward to this one.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

One of the Best Meals This Year: Mario Batali's Pennette with Swiss Chard Ragu

Okay, stop the presses! I'm interrupting my regular blogging schedule to bring you one of the best meals I've made so far this year, Mario Batali's Pennette Pasta with Swiss Chard Ragu. While in the process of testing recipes from Mario's new book, Molto Gusto, I ran across this gem of a recipe. My original plan was to add this recipe to a recipe roundup for Molto Gusto, but as soon as I tasted this I knew it had to have it's own post and let me tell you....this recipe is exquisite! If you are a pasta lover and you happen to like Swiss chard then I promise you that you will be in heaven with this recipe!

Mario's new book is hands down one of my favorite cookbooks that I've bought this year and I very highly recommend it. In Molto Gusto, Mario shares many approachable recipes with chapters on Vegetable Antipasti; Seafood & Meat Antipasti; Bruschetta & Cheese; Insalata; Pasta; Pizza; and Gelato & Sorbetto. I believe there is a picture of each and every recipe and the photography is quite stunning. I have so many recipes bookmarked, but this recipe for Penne with Swiss Chard Ragu was probably the first recipe that stood out to me. I have to share the recipe with you!

Pennette with Swiss Chard Ragu
Adapted from Mario Batali's Molto Gusto
Serves 6
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small white onion, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 pound Swiss chard, trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
Maldon or other flaky sea salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into 4 pieces
Coarsely ground black pepper
Kosher salt
1 pound pennette
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus extra for serving
1/2 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs, fried in olive oil until golden brown

Combine the oil, onion, garlic, and chard in a large pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion and chard are beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Season well with Maldon salt, add 1/4 cup water, cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chard is very tender, about 20 minutes. Add the butter, stirring until it melts, then season with pepper and remove from the heat. (The ragu can be prepared up to 2 days ahead. Let cool, then cover and refrigerate; reheat in a large pot over medium-low heat before adding the pasta.)

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and add 3 tablespoons kosher salt. Drop in the pasta and cook until just al dente.

Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Add the pasta and 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water to the chard ragu and stir and toss over medium heat until the pasta is well coated (add a splash or two more of the reserved pasta water if necessary to loosen the sauce). Stir in the cheese.

Transfer the pasta to a serving bowl and scatter the bread crumbs over the top. Serve with additional grated Parmigiano on the side.

This recipe is simply delectable! The Swiss chard is so tender but yet adds such flavor and texture to this pasta dish. Everything marries together so well in this recipe: the chard, the garlic, all that wonderful truly is a swoon-worthy recipe. Make it for yourself, make it for someone special, make it for a dinner party. I guarantee you'll be impressed! (Note: I forgot to add the fried breadcrumbs to mine, but loved it anyway).

Coming up soon I'll be sharing a roundup of pizzas using Mario's recipe for pizza dough!