Saturday, February 27, 2010

What's for Breakfast? Risen Crepes


Different then regular thin crepes, this batter had a bit of yeast, and beaten egg whites folded in after it had rise for 45 minutes. They were lighter than a pancake, fluffier than a crepe, and AMAZING rolled up with wild blueberry jam that we received from a friend in Texas.
They aren't the most spectacular looking dish, but on lazy mornings, who's looking for presentation?
Serve with fresh fruit and enjoy!
Btw: this is Andrew's serving size... not mine! He didn't even work his way through it!

What's for Dinner? Andrew's Roast Beef


...Named after the person who enjoyed it most! This was a basic prime rib roast, the kind you would coat in flour and brown in a dutch oven then let simmer in stock with a bay leaf for a few hours. Sick of the usual, I tried something a bit different and was thoroughly impressed with the finished product. I took the 'cylinder' roast and cut it into a spiral (going with the grain - important) and rolled it out into somewhat of a rectangle. I put down a layer of cooked wild mushrooms, red and white onions, basil and spinach, then rolled the beef back up into it's cylinder and secured it with 6 strings of tight butcher twine. I browned it, then let it cook in 2/3 stock 1/3 red wine. I let the roast overcook by about an hour and a half with no fear of it becoming tough. The wine was absorbed and the stock kept the meat tender. With a few other spices in the mix, the crust on the meat was blackened but not burnt in any way. It sort of reminded me of a dark caramel. The outer-layer was chewy and full of long-simmered flavour and the inside was beautifully salty (not in a fast food way). I cut the cylinder against the grain so that the meat just barely held together on your fork. It was presented as a simple pinwheel on the plate, twirled with the stuffing.

It's hard to describe the flavour of good meat slowly cooked in wine. I've heard the term 'Umami' used to describe full-bodied flavours like meaty mushrooms,aged cheese, red meat and richer foods. It's not like roasted turkey or Worshteshire sauce... think more a slab of fresh tuna and fermented fish sauce....
You just have to try this one! The recipe is flexible, what's important is the method. And if you add a simple gravy made from the reduced stock and wine...WOW! I guarantee that the result will taste rather familiar, almost like brisket!

Friday, February 26, 2010

What's for Dinner? A Very French Meal



Simple, but all about precision! That's the French way.

When you use such basic ingredients as chicken, starchy vegetables and eggs, there's no need for excessive flavouring. The foods speak for themselves.

I'm going through a bit of a souflee faze right now, so this time I baked them in cuttsie individual pots with a little handle. They puffed over the edge in the oven, but I thought it made them more rustic!

I browned the chicken pieces in a skillet with butter and oil, then I took them out, cooked the vegetables a bit then returned the whole lot to the oven. I added some miniature oranges to the skillet before letting it all finish cooking. A little broiling always does wonders!

Delicious!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What's for Dinner? Rooted Soup for a Chilly Day


Brrr! Cold outside! Looks like we had out own snowmagedon last night. My winter boots got their money's worth on the way home as I trampled uphill in two feet of snow! Obviously, soup was in order for dinner tonight.
We have a few winter squashes floating around the kitchen, and I felt like something classic.
Butternut squash! And I added 2 parsnips, 2 carrots, 4 small celery, potatoes w/ the skin.
I roasted them for a half hour in a 425 degree oven then transferred them to a pot and just covered them with water and chicken stock (50/50). 30 more minutes and I blended them, then added some milk (trust me, cream would have been in order, but we were all out) and s&p.
In my warm-up frenzy (which consisted of me hovering over over the boiling pot, convincing myself that the steam from root vegetables was in fact a good exfoliant,) I completely forgot to add onions and garlic.
Oh well! The soup was delicious anyways!

On top of the soup you'll see what look like 'pancakes'.
Well, I'll have you know - they're ricotta fritters. Quickly fried, a little crisp, and perfectly creamy to be broken up inside the soup. (The way you'd slurp mushy crackers from a broth.)

So now it's after 6pm and I'll officially warmed up. Watching the Olympics makes me think I should take up ski racing, though on second thought, that would mean no butter and spending time in the snow - which is the reason I cook with butter in the first place!

Monday, February 22, 2010

What's for Dinner? A Pasta Medley


Penne tossed lightly with ricotta and thick greens.
A hash on top: bell peppers, chunky mushrooms, Italian sausage, garlic, onions, shallots, herbs.

Again, horrendous amounts of Parmesan!!! Haha

Sunday, February 21, 2010

What's for Dinner? Jamie's Minestrone


Minestrone!!! Mmmm! The almighty Italian vegetable soup. I derived this soup from one of my favourite cookbooks - Jamie's Italy. The wonderful thing about Minestrone is that it uses up just about every vegetable in your fridge that is on the edge of spoiling. Better yet - you know those old bags of crushed pasta that sit at the bottom of your pantry? Throw those in too! It's an Italian party in a pot, and everyone's invited, even the zucchini!
There are three rules to a good minestrone:
1. Use good broth - meat or vegetable base with a splash of red wine and light seasoning
2. The Soffritto - (garlic, onions, celery, carrots, fennel) don't fry it in 5 minutes, gently sweat them for over 20 minutes
3. Use seasonal ingredients! It will taste better and you're doing the earth a favour!

At the end, toss on a tablespoon or so of good Parmesan and enjoy! Mange!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Update

Anyone ever make croissants? I'm not talking about pre-made, pre-packaged, brand name dough from the store that only requires a "remove from package, roll triangles, bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes" to turn out less than impressive, flavorless calorie-ridden lumps of dough.

No, I'm talking about the kind that take all day to make, and about 3 days worth of butter! Leave it to the French to find the most splurge worthy way of indulging in fat and carbs! (Though it's rumored they started in Budapest in the 17th century.)
There's this technique were you "turn the dough."

Basically you make a simple yeast dough... (test the yeast in warm water or milk & sugar, add flour, and egg and salt, knead, let rise for about double the time of regular bread).
While all that's going on, you take a hell of a lot of butter and flatten it out with a rolling pin, or a whacking tool of your choice. A rolling pin seems to be the classic choice of many French chefs but you can use your imagination! You roll it flat into a rectangle between 2 sheets of waxed paper then refrigerate it till it's stiff again.
Once the dough is done you punch it down then refrigerate it for 30 min. Then you roll it out into a rectangle, double the length and width of the butter rectangle. You place the butter on top then fold in all the corners of the dough to encase it like an envelope. You then fold the 'package' in thirds, roll it, turn it, fold it in thirds, roll it, hen refrigerate it for 30 min again.
(Trust me... it's worth it, plus you'll build up an appetite) This method sandwiches the butter between layers of over-soft dough, almost like a puff pastry.
Your repeat this again... fold in thirds, roll, flip, foll in thirds, roll, flip. Refrigerate.
Think, now you have about 81 layers of butter dough butter dough.....!!!
Once it's cold again, roll it into a circle, being gentle with the layers and use a pizza cutter to make triangles across. You then roll the triangles and give the crescents a little half moon shape. Let rise for about 2 hours (I know, I know) then bake at 350 degrees for about 30 - 40 minutes.
All I can say is that they are pure HEAVEN... in the form of butter!!!! MY GOODNESS!!!
The crinkle of the splitting layers (which my brother heard over the phone) was enough to melt my heart! The smell of buttery dough wafting from the oven tantalized Andrews' taste buds from about 10 in the morning till 4pm when they were finally ready.

We ate them all before I had time to take a picture. Besides.... a picture could in no way do this dish justice. And that's just it...it's a dish in itself. It doesn't need a garnish, it doesn't need a side dish. The mighty croissant can stand proud all alone as one of the few foods in the world that holds such power. I suppose you'll just have to just make these little bundles of joy to experience the extent of love for which I showed my 4 croissants!

MY NAME IS CLAIRE MATLOCK... AND I LOVE BUTTER!

What's for Dinner? Tandoori Chicken



A homemade curried chicken served over Basmati rice with a garnish of sweet red grapes and peppery arugula. (Probably could have improved the presentation a bit... but we were rushing for a movie.)

The curry paste was made of sweet curry powder, smoked paprika, turmeric, chili, ginger and a lil' cinnamon then the wet tomatoes.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Dinner










































So for Valentines... I made a special dinner for Mom and Dad, served restaurant style complete with 4 courses and several utensils. (Quite cute I thought) Hee hee :)

** See menu for each dish

Saturday, February 13, 2010

What's for Lunch? A Mighty Salad


What a wonderful lunch! A salad made with arugula, dark romaine, celery leaves, orange segments, slices strawberries, avocado slices, filberts, salty shaved Romano cheese and Thompson raisins
Dressing: EVOO, cider vinegar, squeezed orange, lots of dead sea salt (from nature roots organics) and freshly ground black pepper.
YUM YUM!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What's for Dinner? Stuffed Chicken, French Fries, Roasted Fennel & Broccoli. Dessert: Cranberry, Walnut Healthy Scones

This was a very fun dinner to make! It did take about 2 hours from start to finish... but for someone who's content to be in the kitchen, it's no problem. The chicken was stuffed with various cheeses: Camembert, cream, mozzarella, apple-wood... oh, and some chopped up apple and basil. Fairly stress free until the last 20 minutes when it seems like everything is about to boil over.
Shower requirement afterwards? (Homemade French fries) Oh, if you could see the grease stains. Haha. No biggie...
Cook never cleans up! (*Note: I only take advantage of this rule once a month, usually I am fairly tidy.)




Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What's for Dinner? Root Vegetables, Broiled Salmon and Rapinni


Not a very complex dinner... but satisfying.

4 person dinner*
Slow roasted root vegetables: Red market potatoes & sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots and onions
I cooked them for just over an hour @ 450 degrees, with a drizzle of olive oil, s&p, and flipping often.
4 Fillets of Salmon with marinade made of: 2 tbs olive oil, s&p, Penzey's jerk seasoning to taste, 1 tbs lemon juice, 2 tsp toasted sesame oil, 2 tsp pure maple syrup, 3 tsp quality grainy mustard.
I cooked the broccoli rabe nice and slow for about 40 minutes, to avoid the bitterness. At the end, I threw in 2 pats of butter and some salt and pepper. (I usually only throw butter in at the end, considering it's such a luxurious ingredient I'd hate for all the flavour to be lost in the midst of the cooking. You can use less flavour wise if you put it in fresh at the finish. Unless your caramelizing onions... then use all the butter in the world!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

More New York Photos 2



More New York Photos



Update




So we're back from New York! What a wonderful adventure! Not quite a vacation... more of an experience. We covered extensive ground everyday. Whether it be on foot, taxi, metro or bus. The city was just as wonderful as I remember. We even had an opportunity to cruise through Brooklyn he second last day. My personal, favourite part of Manhattan was the Chelsea area, a tossup with Soho. The artsy part of town is being made stylish again by young artists and new chefs.
We caught New York in Restaurant Week, lucky us!
Our restaurant choices were superb and I couldn't be happier!

Mario Batli's Lupa was magical! Cozy, quaint and delicious!
http://www.luparestaurant.com/menu-NEW.html
Our group meal included these menu items plus a few specials (we all shared):
- Escarole, Walnuts, Red Onion & Pecorino
- Bavette Cacio & Pepe
- Ricotta Gnocchi with Sausage & Fennel
- Skate with Sweet Braised Fennel, Cardoons and Sunchokes
- 2 different market specials of the night
- (shared dessert) Tatufo - cherry centre, luscious caramel ice cream ball, dark choc. coating, hazelnuts & pistachios coating

Gordan Ramsay's Maze @ the London
http://www.gordonramsay.com/mazeatthelondonnyc/
My Meal:
App- Cauliflower soup poured from boat into a bowl holding a square of smoked trout and its crisped skin layered 5 times.
Ent- Breast of duck, shallots, cube of butternut squash/parsnips
Dess- Mom & AL: Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting,
walnut praline ice cream
Me: Valrhona chocolate fondant,
green cardamom caramel,
sea salt and almond ice cream

Lots of other amazing places including one at the Time Warner building, and a cute Italian place.

Went to the Soup Nazi place from Sienfled... sad story... after walking 11 city blocks I found out it doesn't exist anymore. NO SOUP FOR YOU! Sad to miss out on the legendary seafood bisque.

Here's a good idea :D Pour steaming hot espresso over really good ice cream and drop in a hunk of biscotti. Simple but genius!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Update

So I'm off to the big city! A little post-exam break in Manhattan can't hurt right? The borough alone has more than 1,600,000 people, not including the thousands commuting, visiting or touring everyday!. With that number of people, you can bet there are a lot of places to eat. So naturally, the first on my list of to-do's when I arrive is dining out at a top-notch restaurant. Last year on the same date, my mother and I went to a quaint little 'Osteria Romana' named "Lupa" - one of Mario Batali's. Again, we are kicking off the trip with dinner at our favourite little place and will be dining at

Gordon Ramsay's "Maze" on the second day.
We have left the remainder of the trip open to explore all the foodie destinations that the city has to offer. We're hoping to travel into Brooklyn, I've heard there are AMAZING places to eat found in the nook and crannies across the bridge.
I'll be off the track on blogging for a few days. Though I can assure you when I return there will be a flood of stories and pictures sure to tickle your taste buds!
Till then...Happy Eating Everyone :D

BONVOYAGE!

What's for Dinner? Crispy Fish Cakes, Julia's Souffle, Acorn Squash and Broccoli





A delicious dinner that was crispy and cheesy, yet light as air, and somewhat healthy.

Little Fish Cakes made of Sole, Chives and Fresh Breadcrumbs.
Julia Child's Basic Cheese Souffle. (Before & After Pictures)
Acorn Squash & Broccoli from the market

Claire Flips Crepe

video

I love my nonstick pans!! :D

Monday, February 1, 2010

Recipe - Feb 1st 2010

A visually beautiful dinner, perfect for week nights!

Savory Crepes

- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
Directions:
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and the eggs. Gradually add in the milk and water, stirring to combine. Add the salt and butter; beat until smooth.
Heat a lightly oiled frying pan (I use non-stick for crepes) over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each crepe. Tilt the pan with a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly.
Cook the crepe for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is light brown. Loosen with a spatula, turn and cook the other side. (The first crepe will almost never work out, adjust the heat and keep going). Serve hot.

Mushroom Filling
- About 3 cups of fresh oyster mushrooms http://imghost.indiamart.com/data/P/N/MY-1247650/Oyster_Mushrooms_250x250.jpg
- 4 tbs butter
- salt & pepper
- 1/2 tbs minced garlic
- tsp marjoram
- 4 tbsp. dry white wine or chicken stock (we all know the wine is better)
- 5 tbs milk
- 1/4 c. light sour cream
- 2 tbsp. minced chives
Directions:
Slice mushrooms. Saute 4 minutes in butter. Add salt, pepper, marjoram, garlic and wine. Cook over medium heat several minutes. Turn down heat to low, stir in milk (DO NOT BOIL THE MILK OR IT WILL CURDLE) and sour cream and chives.
Can be served immediately or kept in refrigerator and heated in oven.

Eggplant Spread
- 1 eggplant
- 1 head garlic (The WHOLE head!)
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) kalamata olives, rinsed and pitted (omit if you don't care for olives)
- 3 tbsp (50 mL) extra-virgin olive oil (reduce to 2tbs if you didn't use olives)
Directions:
Cut eggplant in half lengthwise. Cut top off garlic to expose cloves. Place both, cut side down, on greased baking sheet. Roast in 425°F (220°C) oven for 40 minutes or until very tender. Let cool slightly.

Scoop eggplant flesh and squeeze out garlic into food processor. Add Kalamata olives and oil; purée. Transfer to small bowl; cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or for up to 48 hours.

Farmer's Cheese (optional - but worth it!)
This is a wonderful accompaniment to the crepes. Because the dinner is quite rich in flavour, the tangy cheese helps to cut saltiness and creaminess. I've attached the link to a respected formula for this cheese. I used an alternative because I only had 2% in the fridge. Do what suits you, either works. This is the better method - http://allrecipes.com/recipe/home-made-farmers-cheese/detail.aspx

*Steam asparagus

To assemble:
Spread eggplant mixture on a flat crepe, generously fill with mushrooms, fold over crepe and spread a little more of the eggplant mixture. Dollop on a little of the farmers cheese. Serve the asparagus on the other half of the plate. Enjoy.
(Quite a long recipe list, but the method is all quite easy, so you can watch tv while making it.)

What's For Dinner? Crepes




Yummy Yummy! And with a bechemel sauce...watch out!
Stay tuned for a crepe flipping movie!!

Update

Starting to develop a rhythm here... I'm going to post all the food creations/meal on the Blog page. Aunt Shailla had a great idea - recipe swapping. Fell free to add any of your own/family creations! Any other suggestions are welcome! Hopefully this can grow into a database for family, friends and anyone who loves to cook.
~ CM