Saturday, September 20, 2008

Capellini and White Clam Sauce

This is one of my favorite dishes. Perfect for a weeknight and the only seafood dish I can cook for myself, this is a treat that I try and enjoy one a month. The recipe calls for 2 cans of minced clams, but I usually use 1 can minced and 1 can chopped. Before you scoff at canned clams - they are delicious and a lot less work than buying, scrubbing and cooking whole fresh clams.

If you insist on using fresh, you need to buy a bottle of clam juice to add to the sauce. When it is time to add the clams, you will need to turn the heat up a bit and put a lid on the pan. Steam in the sauce until ALL the clams have opened.

Capellini and White Clam Sauce
From Nancy Sparks Frank (Mom)
Yields 3 servings

2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons oil, olive
2/3 Cups wine, white
13 Ounce(wt)s clams, canned minced (reserve juice)
1 Teaspoon basil, dried
6 Cloves garlic, fresh minced
1/4 Cup parsley, curly chopped
3/4 pound pasta, capellini

In a medium skillet, melt butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add clam juice and wine. Add basil. Let simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, until basil is softened. Add minced garlic. Turn heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add clams, heat through.

Cook pasta as desired.

Add parsley to the sauce, stir and serve over cooked pasta.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Creamy Cocktail Sauce

During Culinary School we were often called upon to develop our own recipes for things. My partner in crime was fellow chef Patti Smith. She and I would spend lots of time brainstorming of new items for us to try. Some things wouldn't work out so well, but most of our creations I still use today and on a regular basis. Here is one of my favorites - this is perfect for steamed or boiled shrimp and has a regular place on our Kentucky Derby Party table.

Creamy Cocktail Sauce
Yields 2 cups

Prep Time: 10 Minutes

1 1/4 Cup mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon horseradish
2 Tablespoons chili sauce
2 Tablespoons ketchup
1 Tablespoon bell pepper, red finely diced
1 Tablespoon bell pepper, green finely diced
1 Tablespoon shallots minced
1 Tablespoon chives, fresh chopped
1 Tablespoon vinegar, red wine
1 Tablespoon oil, vegetable
2 Teaspoons paprika
1 Teaspoon pepper, cayenne
2 Teaspoons sugar, white
1 to taste salt
1 to taste pepper, white, ground

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and blend well. Let the sauce stand overnight, covered and refrigerated, to develop its full flavor.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Baked Pork Chops with Parmesan-Sage Crust

This is one of my favorite week night, somewhat easy to do after work meals. I am a fan of pork chops and you can buy them at such a great deal at Costco. I buy them and freeze them in small batches. On nights I want to cook with them, I put them in the fridge the night before to defrost.

These have an amazing flavor and form a great crust. I prefer to use boneless pork chops and usually use more oil and skip the butter.

Baked Pork Chops with Parmesan-Sage Crust
From Bon Appétit, February 2001
Yields 4 servings

Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes

1 1/2 Cup breadcrumbs, fresh or Panko
1 Cup cheese, parmesan, grated
1 Tablespoon sage, rubbed
1 Teaspoon zest, lemon
2 Large egg, whole
1/4 Cup flour, all-purpose
4, 9-ozs pork chops, loin, bone-in or boneless-6-oz
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons oil, olive

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix breadcrumbs, cheese, sage and lemon peel in pie dish. Whisk eggs in medium bowl to blend. Place flour on plate; season generously with salt and pepper. Coat pork chops on both sides with flour; shake off excess. Dip chops into eggs, then coat on both sides with breadcrumb mixture.

Melt butter with oil in heavy large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork chops to skillet and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer skillet with pork to oven. Bake until pork chops are crisp on the outside and meat thermometer inserted into pork registers 150 degrees, about 20 minutes.

Transfer chops to plates. Garnish with lemon wedges and orange wedges, and serve.

Garlic Marinated Lamb with Garlic Chive Mashers

I've always been a fan of Ming Tsai as he does an excellent job with fusion food. My dad brought home some 2-inch thick lamb loin chops and we wanted something new to use for a marinade. I did a little searching and found this at Food TV and it looks delicious. We didn't have 12 hours to marinate, but we were able to squeeze in 4 or 5 hours and that did the trick. I can only imagine how amazing these would have tasted with a full 12 hours to sit in all that garlic.

I would marinate these in the morning before you head off to work and fire up the grill as soon as you walk in the door that evening.

Garlic Marinated Lamb with Garlic Chive Mashers
From Ming Tsai
Yields 4 servings

Prep Time: 12 hours
Cook Time: 45 minutes

12 lamb loin chops
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/3 cup garlic, minced
1/4 cup thin soy sauce (not tamari - I used low sodium soy sauce)
1/3 cup canola oil (I used peanut oil)
1/2 cup red wine
1 tsp coarse ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients together and marinate chops for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. Grill to desired doneness.

6 to 8 large yukon gold potatoes, washed
8 garlic cloves
1 cup chopped garlic chives, may substitute regular chives
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and black pepper to taste

Bake the potatoes until fully cooked (about 45 minutes at 350 degrees). In a saucepan, saute half of the chives and garlic in a little butter. Add cream and reduce by 50 per cent. With a hand blender, mix well and check for seasoning. Add the remaining chives. Hand mash the potatoes, skin and all. Add the cream, butter and check for seasoning. Serve with vegetable following.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Cool Zucchini Soup

I heard about this on NPR a few weeks ago and after a quite fruitful trip to a local Farmer's Market on Saturday, I had some of the freshest zucchini I has ever seen in my hot little hands. I decided it was the perfect time for making this soup.

The zucchini was so fresh that the soup had a slight sweetness to it. I garnished it with some freshly sliced basil from my parent's garden and we ended up with a delightful starter to our meal that could also have been enough of a meal on its own with some crusty baguette and a nice compound butter.


Cool Zucchini Soup

Chef's Note: This is a very satisfying version of the zucchini-mint soup I so enjoyed. I've never quite figured out how to add the flavor of the mint while still preserving the smooth texture. I'm still working on it. But using mint as a fine herbal garnish works well, as does using basil.

Makes 4 servings; Yields 1 quart

1/4 cup olive oil
2 small to medium zucchini, coarsely chopped
1 onion, coarsely chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 to 1/2 cup buttermilk, to taste
Salt and pepper
Basil or mint sprigs, finely chopped or julienned, for garnish (optional)

Place the oil in a heavy pot. Add zucchini, onion, lemon zest and a little salt to help draw out the juices. Sweat them, covered, for 25 minutes. Check and stir frequently. Don't let the zucchini brown. Don't overcook it, either, or it will take on an unappetizing olive hue.

When the vegetables are quite tender but not mushy, add the stock. Simmer everything together for 5 minutes.

Using a blender set on high, puree the soup in batches and strain it through a fine strainer or sieve, discarding any fibrous solids. Whisk in buttermilk to taste and chill at least 4 hours.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Citrus Marinated Pork Chops

Citrus Marinated Pork Chops

Serves 4

4, 8-oz double thick cut boneless center cut pork chops
2 Tbls Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbls grainy mustard
10 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed from stems and chopped
Zest and juice of 1 lime
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Zest and juice of 1 orange

In a gallon plastic bag or a high-sided baking dish mix, whisk together the orange, lemon, and lime juice and zest, thyme leaves, grainy mustard, and oil. Place meat into the marinade and let sit for at least 15 minutes - 1 hour is better. If using this marinade for chicken, do not let it marinate over 1 hour as it may begin to cook the chicken. The pork can last much longer, but more than 1 hour, put it in the fridge.

Build a medium fire. Sear the chops over the heat, 3 minutes a side. Dip the chops back in the marinade and move next to the coals (indirect) for 10 to 15 minutes (depends on how thick the chops are). Cook to an internal temperature of 155 degrees. Remove from grill and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute.

Serve with fresh veggies from the farmers market steamed or grilled with a little lemon pepper. We had fresh red and green okra from the Saturday markets and oven-roasted acorn squash with a little butter and brown sugar for our starch.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Pecan Day: Kahlùa Lace Sandwich Cookies

Today, March 25th, is Pecan Day. Therefore I decided to post one of my favorite recipes from years past using pecans. Since I am allergic to nuts, I have to be very careful when making these cookies, and I can only eat a couple before I start to have a problem. But these are so very worth the discomfort.

I found these in a Kahlùa ad in a magazine sometime in the late 1980's or early 1990's. My friends LOVE these cookies.

Kahlùa Lace Sandwich Cookies
Yields 2 dozen

Oven Temp: 375

1/2 Cup butter
1/2 Cup coffee powder, instant
1/2 Cup corn syrup, light
1 Cup flour, all-purpose
2/3 Cups sugar, light brown, packed
1/2 Cup pecans ground
22 Teaspoons cocoa powder (unsweetened) divided
1 1/3 Cup sugar, powdered
4 Teaspoons water, hot
3 Tablespoons liqueur, Kahlúa

Grease cookie sheets, preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In saucepan, mix butter, corn syrup and brown sugar, bring to a boil. Remove from heat. In a bowl, mix together coffee powder, flour, pecans and 4 tsp of cocoa and stir into hot mixture. Mix well. Consistency will be a thick syrup.

Drop by level teaspoons onto cookie sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake 5 to 6 minutes. Cool 2 minutes and remove with spatula onto cooling rack.

Meanwhile, mix powdered sugar, remaining cocoa and water until smooth. Stir in Kahlùa. Spread onto bottom of 1 cooled cookie and place another on top to make sandwiches.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Toast Day: Bruschetta

Toast can take so many forms. My personal favorite is French Toast. I'm not sure that's what Toast Day really means, so I will save that recipe for another time (I mean, really, there has to be a French Toast Day, right?).

Yields 6 servings

6 plum tomatoes, diced
2 Tbls balsamic vinegar
1 head garlic, broken into cloves, divided
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
6 leaves basil, fresh, cut into ribbons
1 loaf Italian or French bread
Kosher salt and pepper

Mix together 2 cloves of minced garlic, the chopped tomatoes, the vinegar and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper as desired. Set aside to martinate for 30 minutes. At the last minute, stir in the fresh basil.

Preheat oven on broiler setting. Place a rack approximately 6 inches from broiler.

Slice the loaf of bread, on the bias, into 3/4-inch slices.

lace bread in oven on sheet pan and broil until golden brown on both sides, approximately 2 minutes for the first side and 1 to 1 1/2 for second side.

Remove to a platter and rub each slice of bread with the cloves of garlic and then brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

National Bavarian Crêpes Day: Dessert Crêpes

I love crêpes and it is a rare occasion we make them as the cooking process takes so long - just getting through a batch. But my favorite is then turning these into blintzes. Yum.

Dessert Crêpes
From Nancy S Frank
Yields 6 servings

3 Large egg yolk
1 Dash salt, table
1 Cup milk, whole
2 Tablespoons brandy
1/2 Cup water
1/2 Teaspoon extract, vanilla
1/4 Cup sugar, white
1 1/8 Cup flour, all-purpose
2 Tablespoons butter, unsalted melted and cooled
1 to taste cooking spray, butter-flavored

In a blender, blend thoroughly. Add melted butter. Blend. Refrigerate batter for at least 30 minutes.

In a 5- to 6-inch diameter pan, on high, spray with cooking spray and then cover bottom of pan as thinly as possible with batter and turn pan to coat evenly (about 2 tablespoons batter).

Oil cookie sheet and place cooked crepes on it.

Friday, March 21, 2008

California Strawberry Day: Strawberry Daiquiri

In my neck of the woods, I can't guarantee California Strawberries, but since it is Friday I figured a cocktail was the way to go no matter where the strawberries were grown.

Strawberry Daiquiri
Yields 1 serving

Ice cubes
2 parts light rum
1 part Triple Sec
1 part fresh strawberries, tops trimmed off
Lime juice, as needed
Lime wedges

Add to a blender and puree the ice cubes, light rum, Triple Sec, fresh strawberries and lime juice. Rub the rim of a glass with lime. Roll the glass in sugar. Garnish with lime wedges. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Ravioli Day: Prosciutto Ravioli

I love Ravioli, but sometimes it can just be too labor intensive. However, I got this super simple recipe from Giada de Laurentis and they are delicious.

Prosciutto Ravioli
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis
Yields 6 servings
Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

15-ounce container whole milk ricotta cheese
10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
2 large egg yolks
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
48 wonton wrappers
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
Freshly grated pecorino

Whisk the ricotta, spinach, prosciutto, egg yolks, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl to blend.

Place 1 tablespoon of the ricotta filling in the center of a wonton wrapper. Brush the edge of the wrapper lightly with water. Fold the wrapper in half, enclosing the filling completely and forming a triangle. Pinch the edges to seal. Transfer the ravioli to baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining filling and wrappers. (Can be prepared up to 2 hours ahead; cover and refrigerate.)

Melt the butter in a heavy small skillet over medium heat. Add the oregano and stir 1 minute. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.

Working in batches, cook the ravioli in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes per batch. Transfer the ravioli to a large shallow bowl.

Pour the oregano butter over the ravioli and toss gently to coat. Sprinkle the pecorino over the ravioli and serve.