Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Lemon Tree Dance

I love when the days start to get warmer.  Daffodils start poking up through the ground, I can play outside when I'm not swamped with school work, etc. 

We have two pet lemon trees.  I call them pets because they are the recipients of a great deal of attention from us.  When the weather is nice they go outside for some fresh air.  Usually this means that it's still too cold at night for them to stay out, so back in they come.  Thus the lemon tree dance, back and fourth, in and out, repeat, repeat.

The Lemon trees in their happy spot, outside on the patio, next to the topiary, and the boxwood,  and my favorite thing, the grill.

Sesame Chicken, a lighter version

Since I found my new soy sauce, I had to try it in something......  Sesame chicken sounded really tasty and it's super easy.

Make some white rice, sticky rice is what we like in this house.  We make it in our Zojirushi rice maker.  It's perfect every time.  

Mix two egg whites and 1/4 cup of cornstarch together until smooth.  cube up three chicken breasts or 6 thighs.  Season with salt and pepper and add to egg/starch mixture.  Make a sauce that consists of 2T of sesame seeds, 3T of honey, 2T of soy sauce, and a clove of minced garlic.  Set this aside.  Prepare some broccoli for the steamer and have it ready to go. 

When the rice is almost done saute the chicken in two batches.  The egg white mix will make all the chicken pieces stick together a little bit, so just separate them as you cook them.  A nonstick pan is best for this.  Turn the broccoli on so it starts to steam.  Brown the second batch of chicken and then return the first batch back to the pan.  Thinly slice 4 scallions and add to the chicken.  Also add the sauce that we made earlier. Allow the sauce to simmer for a minute and its done.  Put some rice on a plate then top with the chicken and the broccoli.

This is a great dish because it is not so heavy.  The flavors are simple, fresh, and clean. 

New Find - Real Soy Sauce

I found this Kishibori Shoyu at my favorite store, Sur La Table.  This is real soy sauce!!  Fermented for 2 years in 100 year old cedar casks.  Wow!  Rich and complex, yet not salty.  Everything is in Chinese so I can't tell you anything more about it.....  other than to get some.......
I really enjoy the pristine white paper the soya comes in. 

These are the "instructions/directions" that come with it.

Friday, February 25, 2011

it's Ten o'clock... I just got home from work.... I'm hungry.... Lamb chops are in the fridge

it's Ten o'clock...  I just got home from work.... I'm hungry....  Lamb chops are in the fridge.  I picked up some truffle oil at the store before coming home.  I cut some red potatoes into little fries and tossed them in olive oil and pepper and roasted them at 400 for 30 minutes.  Lamb chops, really they are like miniature porter house steaks, trimmed, coated in olive oil and herbs de provence.  Fresh broccoli in the steamer ready to go.  I grilled the lamb and while it was resting I steamed the broccoli and pulled the fries out of the oven and tossed with truffle oil and truffle salt.  The lamb was perfect.  Flavorful, rich, and just the right amount of lambiness.......  The truffle fries are my secret indulgence.  Steamed broccoli, unadulterated........  sometimes you need some simple to compliment the not so simple.  Once again, simple prevails and is delicious.  Always is.......

Thursday night effort.....

Roasted root vegetables....  Sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots, onions, and celery......  toss in olive oil and pepper and a touch of salt roast at 400 for an hour or so, toss the veggies 1/2 way through.  I really enjoy the parsnips, they give an apple pie spice, cinnamon-ish flavor to everything.  If you have not tried them you really should.  They look like white carrots......

On top of the veggies, Grilled Pork Chops with Dean and Deluca's pork rub and a mustard sauce.  The Dean and Deluca spice rub is to die for.  I bought a collection of rubs from D and D a few months back.  They always turn the mundane to the extraordinary.  Sure they are sixty bucks but you'll spend that on dinner at a decent restaurant.  You do get 9 spice rubs in the tin, really you should but them....  So I pan fried the pork chops.  While they were resting I made a sauce in the same pan.  The brown bits that look like burnt on scrub work are actually called Fond.  It's a french word.  I add a touch of white wine to the pan and stir.  This loosens the fond from the bottom of the pan.  Add 1 tablespoon spicy mustard.  I'm really partial to Lusty Monk Mustard made in Asheville NC.  It's got kick, you know you're alive when you use their mustard.  It's really fantastic.  Add about a cup of chicken stock, and simmer away until reduced by 1/2.  Add a tablespoon of butter and pour over the pork chops.  YUM YUM all around.

Cinnamon, pecan, streusel coffe cake

From Martha, this month.  Odd recipe, has almost as much flour in the streusel topping as it does in the cake itself.  The two kind of become one.  It's tasty non the less.....

Chicken Tagine with citrus rice

Monday night effort.......  Chicken tagine with tomatoes, orange, carrots, celery, and green olives.  Served with red citrus rice.  This was a recipe that I found on the Wall Street Journal site.  It's divine, one of the better tagine recipes that I've made lately. 

Quiche Lorraine and Co. - from Julia Child

Mom and dad came to brunch the weekend before last.  I was working the night before and had lots to do for class the next day.  So quiche sounded good and easy.  I used one of those awful refrigerator pie crusts, which I would not do again.  It's definitely worth the time and effort to make your own pie shell.  Anyway, It turned out perfect.  Quiche Lorraine is usually bacon only in the quiche.  I added cheese.

a nice green salad is perfect with the quiche.  I made a vinaigrette with Italian olive oil, champagne vinegar, and a touch of honey.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Valentines day dinner

Every year for V Day we stay in.  Ignore the crowds, the PDA, and the overpriced not worth it meals.  This year was no different.  We had a bottle of 2006 Childress Vineyards Meritage that we wanted to open and Fillet was a good pairing.

The french green beans look so boring here.  They really were quite tasty.  Tossed with some white pepper and our best olive oil in the house.  Potatoes were roasted with herbs de Provence and some olive oil as well.  The steaks were the show stopper for this meal. I went to three different grocery stores to get what I wanted and then had to have them cut.  Why is it so hard to buy a decent piece of meat.  Fleur de sel, pepper, and olive oil is all I put on the steaks.  I do this a few hours before cooking so they have a chance to absorb some of the flavor.  These guys were about 3 inches thick so I grilled them on screaching hot for 6 minutes per side for a perfect medium rare.  I took them off when they registered about 114 internally with my Rosle thermometer.

Lasagna with Swiss Chard, Sausage, and Lemon

Sunday night dinner this past weekend.  Compliments of Martha again.  She has been having lots of really tasty recipes lately.  During the summers they correspond nicely with the garden and what is coming from it. 
yes that is a lemon slice on top, not a tomato.  You boil the lemon slices first and that removes any bitterness with the pith.  It's a great compliment to the swiss chard and cuts the richness of of the sausage.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tonight's Dinner, brought to you by the letters A and P

Tonight dinner started late, I got in from the studio at 9, dinner was on the table about 10 after 10.  That's even late for me!!!  Asparagus with white pepper and olive oil, mashed potatoes with cream, buttermilk, and butter; and grilled pork chops with Dean and Deluca Pork rub.  So fast, So easy, So yummy.

Here it is on the table.  I had to do a table shot because we are working with rituals and dining in studio right now; not just eating.  Dinner is a ritual here, nightly.

and the post dinner view.

Monday, February 7, 2011

BBQ pork shoulder, the stages.

The weekend that we made the Brusnwick stew we also cooked a pork shoulder.  This translates to good old southern bbq, Lexington style.  For those of you non bbq people, this means vinegar based rather than katsup based.  This is a slow process, usually about 8 hours.  Start the grill and keep it low, about 275 to 300 degrees.  I usually have to prop the grill open just a bit to maintain this temp while my grill is on low.  I mix up a brew of vinegar, red pepper flakes, and some sugar, bring this to a boil and let it cool.  This is the bbq sauce.  I pepper the ham and put it on the grill.  There is no need to salt it since they come full of salt from the store.  Turn the shoulder ever 30 minutes and baste with the sauce.  You know when it's done because the tongs tend to shred the meat when you start to turn it the last time.

The meat goes through a huge transformation during the day.  After you take the mean off the grill let it rest for about 30-45 minutes then pull it apart with a fork and eat up!!!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Risotto with Butternut Squash, Corned Ham, and Cheddar cheese

RG cooked a corned ham.  This thing was huge, a whopping 20 pounds or so.  So what is a corned ham?  It's a hog leg, just like a regular ham, only it's not smoked, it corned.  Kind of like corned beef, but not as salty.  The result is a very mild and light ham.  It's really quite delicious. 

Since there are only two of us and ten times as much ham, we had to figure out what to do with it.  Risotto with butternut squash, ham, and cheese was just the ticket.  It's now one of our favorites.  It's an exercise in simplicity at it's best.

Coq au Vin with polenta

Our Friend Christine's mother, Pat, was in town for a few days. Of course dinner was in order.

I made the coq au vin with bone in chicken thighs this time. I think I will make it this way in the future as well. Chicken breasts are too difficult to eat with the bone in, in a graceful way! We also served it with polenta rather than potatoes or noodles and this was a winner as well. I added butter and cream and pecorino romano, a sheep's milk cheese. The polenta was fantastic and a great addition fo the coq au vin.