Thursday, September 25, 2008

Turkey cutlets Bolognese style

From the "Molto Italiano" cookbook, I made the Turkey Cutlets Bolognese Style the other night. Trader Joe's always has nice turkey cutlets at an excellent price. This recipe calls for a fresh truffle shaved over the top, which of course I left out. He specifically says not to use truffle oil, so I did without. I also skipped the breading this time. I didn't have any fresh bread for crumbs, and didn't want the crispness of panko for this dish. So I simply dredged the cutlets in seasoned flour, browned in a bit of butter, and then assembled the dish: a few curls of shaved parmesan on top of the cutlets, followed by a slice of prociutto, and then some asiago (he calls for pecorino toscano). I put this all in a 450 oven until the cheese was melted and the turkey was cooked through.

I really liked this preparation quite a bit. It was a lot like veal/chicken salimboca which I make a lot, without the sage and with a bit less frying. Not that there is anything wrong with that of course, but we are watching our fat & cholesterol intake around here a bit.
This was definitely a keeper, as leftovers were still very good - even cold!

Mmmmm, pizza!

I've been making the "Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day" boule dough in order to have fresh bread every couple of days. It has been awesome!! Although with one more blast of hot weather, I won't be putting the oven on at 450 or higher for a while.
One of the things that the book suggests (it was a gift for my birthday) is to use the dough for pizza, so I gave it a try. The oven needs to be preheated to at least 500, but preferably 550 - happily my oven does go that high! So, windows open, fans on, battery out of the smoke detector.. here goes.
I rolled the dough out as thinly as I could while the oven preheated, and just added a simple plain tomato sauce, some Italian herbs and crushed red pepper, and some shredded mozzarella cheese.

Then, into the hot oven for about 10 minutes or so. The dough puffed up a little bit more that I prefer, and didn't get quite as browned on the bottom, but it was still very very good.

I will definitely be doing this again. I think the key for next time will be to wait until the very last minute to work with the dough to get it thin & crisp.
One thing I do is use parchment paper instead of cornmeal on a peel - no worries about the dough sticking too much to the peel.
We also have a spare pizza stone for the BBQ, so that might be something to try also if we can get the grill hot enough.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Summer gratin

I love gratins, all kinds. So, when I saw this simple summer gratin in this month's Food & Wine, I had to give it a try. Alas, the eggplant and tomatoes were store bought (but local), but the zucchini was from our friends' garden and I baked the bread myself. Lots of garlicky olive oil is used to layer the veggies on top of the bread pieces, and all in the oven for about 40 minutes. The bread gets crispy (fried in the oil basically) on the bottom and juicy on top from all the vegetables.
We cleaned this dish, the flavors all really melded together well, the highlight being the crispy bread on the bottom. I hope to make it one more time with some more garden vegetables (hint, hint guys!).

Martinis revisited

A few posts ago I wrote about the beauty of a simple gin martini, with olives, and a splash of olive juice in the mix. I got a nice comment from Eric at American Mixers regarding their product, Dirty Sue Martini Mix, and would I like to give it a try. So I said yes, and he sent me some to try! It was very generous of him, looking over the product literature it seems like a perfect thing for dirty martinis, you don't have to use up all of your olive jar brine.

We gave it a whirl, with Bombay Sapphire gin, and I must say I enjoyed the flavor quite a bit. It was slightly salty so I might decrease it just a bit, but I really liked that it didn't have that bit of "greasiness" that sometimes olive jar brine has to it. It was very clean. I sometimes use vermouth in martinis (enough to coat the glass) but didn't this time. I am thinking that a touch of vermouth will also counter the saltiness of the brine.
I will definitely share this with my friends, thanks Eric!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Omnivore's Hundred

I came across this interesting post from a UK blog called Very Good Taste. Basically, it lists 100 things that an "omnivore" should try at least once. Here is my list, I italicized the things that I have tried before.... and changed the color of the things I would never really care to try in red. I think I did pretty good, I toe the line at insects, durian and the raw Scotch bonnet. There are only a few things I haven't tried (22 or so since Spago here in LAonly has 2 stars)

Fun post, links to definitions of some of the items....

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile -- hmm, does alligator count?
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp - possibly in Japan, but I am not so sure
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper - no way, too spicy
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi does Mango Lassi count? maybe...
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O - hehe... not sure I want to admit that one
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian - no thanks to this one for sure...
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse - in Japan, this is a delicacy apparently. We found out afterwards
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Friday, September 5, 2008

Tomatoes, yum!

I found myself with a lot of tomatoes this week, courtesy of our good friends Kate & Andy that have an awesome garden. A couple of their good sized tomatoes and some nice local romas that were a great deal at the market made a lovely tart. Inspired by this hilarious blog, I looked in the freezer and lo and behold! One lonely sheet of Trader Joe's puff pastry! Yay!
I sliced tomatoes while the pastry thawed, then just used tomatoes, a drizzle of olive oil, some Maldon sea salt & some pepper. I didn't have goat cheese, so I used Boursin. A bit salty, but a nice flavor. Next time I'll use herbed goat cheese. Yum!
Went perfectly with impromptu "shrimp Louis" salad - just cooked shrimp (also a freezer find), salad mix, green onions, cucumbers and a dressing of mayo & chili sauce. Oh, and white wine of course :) Is it September already??

Mom's Gazpacho

My mom passed away a little over 2 years ago. Sunday would have been my parents' 40th wedding anniversary. This soup always makes me think of my mom. She used to make a big batch of it in a blue lard bucket with a tight fitting lid for us to take on picnics in the mountains. I made this last night, along with some yummy "deviled" chicken legs - basically just chicken legs rubbed with dijon mustard & rolled in panko, parmesan, salt, pepper & cayenne pepper. Oh yeah, and some butter :). Baked at 450 for 30 minutes, then cooled in the fridge, they went perfectly with this gazpacho. Wow, what a terrible photo! Oh well:
Note that this is not a traditional Spanish gazpacho (no bread, not blended), but my mom's special recipe. Sometimes I substitute cilantro for parsley, or half & half. My mom HATED cilantro though, so this time I made it just the way she did:

1 large (46 oz) bottle tomato juice (use PLAIN)
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 bunch of green onions, chopped
1 cup parsley, chopped
2 cups chicken stock (or to taste - depends on how thick you want the soup)
juice of 1 lemon

Mix everything together, season to taste with salt & pepper, maybe a hit of hot sauce. Refrigerate for as long as you can - serve it COLD (add ice cubes if needed)

I like to serve with a dollop of sour cream in the bowl.

It tastes like summer. Try it :)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

More fun with grains from the Flexitarian Table

Since we love the tofu dish on p. 126 (Tofu w/Lemon, Soy, White Wine & Butter Sauce), I paired it with the actual menu pairing: Quinoa Salad with Green Beans, Corn & Tomatoes.
Like it's predecessor, this makes a TON of this salad. I must admit that I took some shortcuts, frozen French green beans, frozen corn & cut up roma tomatoes are what I had when I decided to make this last minute. I had never used quinoa before, and I really loved the texture of it. I am not a huge couscous fan, especially "instant", and I think that I may use this grain as a couscous substitution when I can. It has a soft texture but still a nutty flavor, the combination with the sweet corn was great! This and the vegetables really picked up the lemon and olive oil dressing quite well. We really enjoyed this, but then had too many leftovers to finish and no time to do so. Next time I will make this for a crowd!

Labor day weekend was packed with a baseball tournament, we just had time to grill some frozen hamburgers last night before all falling asleep. Some holiday weekend, hehe.