Friday, November 4, 2016

Gravlax with Hovmästarsås Sauce

Subbing for a fellow culinary teacher (I'm on a 1-year leave from my regular position) I showed (and watched with multiple classes) a video demonstration of a chef making gravlax. I knew I had salmon in the freezer, and was inspired to try it out! Gravlax is Scandinavian, Nordic especially, and similar to lox -- a cured but not smoked salmon specialty. Traditionally the salmon is cured with salt, sugar, and dill; frequently other spices (juniper berry, horseradish) and liquor are also incorporated. Historically, the fish was buried during curing ("grav"+ "lax" ...grave salmon), so frequently a weight is placed on the fish during curing which helps the curing elements penetrate the salmon. Most often gravlax is served with hovmästarsås  which is simply a mustard-dill sauce.

Here's a very simple version. Easy, but it needs to cure about 3 days, so plan ahead.

Ingredients
1 lb salmon filet
1/2 C sugar
1/3 C salt (kosher or sea salt)
1 C chopped fresh dill OR 1/3 C dried dill

Serve with...
hovmästarsås sauce (recipe follows)
lettuce
toasted bread / crostini
butter or cream cheese
fresh dill sprigs for garnish

Directions
About 3 days before serving...
Combine sugar and salt in small bowl. Using about 1/3 of the sugar-salt mixture, sprinkle a layer on the bottom of a pan or glass dish just big enough for salmon filet. Top with 1/3 of the dill. Set salmon filet into pan, skin side down. Sprinkle with remaining dill; top with remaining sugar-salt mixture. Cover with plastic wrap. Place a heavy pot or a pan filled with weights (or canned goods) on top of the fish and refigerate for 3 days.

About every 12 hours, drain excess liquid from the pan, flip the filet, re-weight and refrigerate.

To serve...scrape the curing elements from both sides of the fish and pat dry. Place salmon on a cutting board, skin side down; slice very thin, on a slant, across the grain, leaving the skin. Slices can be fanned on a platter for service; keep refrigerated.

Serve on thin sliced bread (a dark, heavy bread is traditional) or crostini. Spread butter or cream cheese onto bread, layer with a lettuce leaf and gravlax slice(s), top with a teaspoon of hovmästarsås sauce and garnish with a dill sprig.


Hovmästarsås Sauce Recipe:

Ingredients
1 small garlic clove, finely minced
2 T cider vinegar
2+ T brown sugar, to taste
2/3 C mustard (preferably coarse grain dark mustard)
1/3 C fresh chopped dill

Directions
Blend all ingredients, season to taste. Refrigerate until serving; serve at room temperature.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Turnips Anna

This one comes from Sunset Magazine. Inspired by Pommes Anna, with turnips instead of the traditional potatoes. I'm always looking for tasty ways to get more veggies into my diet. A little cheese and bacon in this recipe go a long way. In fact, though it was delicious as is, a little less bacon would still be delicious; or at least with the cured bacon, I would do without the salt next time I make this recipe. And add a little extra of the thyme, which I personally love. Personalize it to your own taste!

Ingredients
6 T butter, melted
6 oz sliced bacon
½ C shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 T flour
½ tsp fresh thyme leaves, minced
     (additional thyme sprigs for garnishing)
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 lbs small - medium turnips, peeled and trimmed

Directions
Generously brush a 9" pie pan with butter. Preheat oven to 425˚, with rack in lower third of oven.

Brown bacon until crisp; drain, and chop.

Combine bacon, cheese, flour, minced thyme, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Thinly slice turnips into rounds - easiest using a handheld slicer or mandoline. Arrange one sixth of the turnips in concentric, slightly overlapping circles, in a layer in a pie pan. (I only did 4 layers.) Evenly sprinkle a heaping 2 tablespoons of bacon-cheese mixture over turnips, and drizzle with about 2 tablespoons melted butter. Repeat layers, ending with turnips.

Lightly butter bottom of another 9" pie pan; set on top of turnips and add pie weights, dried beans or other oven-proof weights. Set layered pans on a rimmed baking sheet to catch bubbling butter. Bake until edge turns golden (about 50 minutes). Remove top pie pan with weights. Continue to bake until browned on top (10-15 minutes more).

Loosen Anna from pan with a knife; invert onto/into serving plate or dish. Garnish with additional thyme sprigs.


Sunday, October 9, 2016

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

This is an approximate recipe...but soup is easy to make by tasting and adjusting along the way!

Ingredients
¼ C olive oil
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
2 yellow onions, rough chopped
50-60 oz canned, diced tomatoes (with juice)
2 C chicken broth
¼ C sugar
2 tsp dried oregano
12-15 large, fresh basil leaves
1-2 C cream
salt & pepper to taste

Directions
Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan or stock pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic; heat until fragrant. Add chopped onions, cooking until soft and translucent (8-10 minutes), stirring frequently.

Add diced tomatoes, broth, sugar, oregano and basil; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 30 minutes (more is fine, let those flavors blend). Using an immersion blender, purée until smooth.* Add cream as you purée, return to boil. Season to taste with salt & pepper.

Serving suggestions: Serve with cheese lace (pictured), topped with shredded parmesan, a dollop of sour cream, a fresh basil leaf...

* If you don't have an immersion blender, simply work in batches to purée soup in a standard blender.



Thursday, September 22, 2016

Apple Bacon Muffins

Apple + bacon = delicious! The bacon in this recipe wasn't particularly prominent.Maybe it just needs a little more. I added a some crumble topping, and maybe I should have put some bacon in it to boost the flavor. They were definitely good enough to try again, and fiddle with the recipe a little.

Ingredients
½ C brown sugar
¼ C butter, softened
2 eggs
2/3 C milk
2 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 T cinnamon
¾ C apple, finely chopped
½ C cooked, drained, chopped bacon

Directions
Preheat oven to 350˚. Spray muffin tin cups or line with paper liners.

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs. Combine dry ingredients, then add to creamed mixture, alternately with milk. Fold in apple and bacon just until blended.

Fill muffin cups full. [Optional - top with crumble topping.] Bake 20 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in the pan, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Pumpkin Bars

Generally I bake these in a jelly roll pan (baking sheet with a 1" lip) and cut them into bars, though they're more cake-like in texture than like a bar cookie. I'd love a good pumpkin cookie recipe, but I've yet to find a good recipe that really has a cookie-like texture. Most of them are more cake or muffin like in texture. I baked some of these up like mini cupcakes recently (pictured), and that worked just find too. 

Ingredients
11/3 C sugar
4 eggs
½ C oil
½ C applesauce
15 oz pumpkin puree
2 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground nutmeg

Directions
Preheat oven to 350˚. Grease and flour (or coat with non-stick cooking spray) a jelly roll pan or line with parchment.

Blend first 5 ingredients until smooth. Combine dry ingredients, including spices; add to pumpkin mixture. Pour into prepared pan, smoothing and spreading as needed to an even depth.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes until center is dry (the 'clean toothpick' test works here).

Top with sweetened whipped cream, cream cheese frosting, or a simple powdered sugar icing.
Or do like I did: I didn't use a recipe for the topping...just blended cream cheese with some maple syrup, a little cinnamon, folded in some whipped cream...

Monday, August 29, 2016

Quick and Easy Apple Tart

This isn't the best apple tart I've ever had, but it IS quick and easy. It's from 'The Pioneer Woman'.  Recipe  It's not fall yet (though the leaves across the vacant lot that is currently my main view are turning yellow), so I'm NOT reaching for the pumpkin and spice just yet. but...it is overcast and rainy -- well, showers -- and an apple tart just sounded delicious today.

I dusted mine with a little powdered sugar, but I like her idea of drizzling it with some caramel. I'll try that next time...

Friday, August 12, 2016

Stuffed Cabbage (Polish - gołąbki)

Maybe not a recipe that will especially entice a lot of people, but...I had 1/2 a cabbage leftover from another recipe, and I'm always interested in trying something new (especially something that combines more vegetables with the meat), I figured I'd give it a shot. After perusing a variety of recipes and noting consistently common ingredients in all, this is an amalgamation of two different recipes, choosing the ingredients based on flavors I know I like personally. I really don't know how 'traditional' it may be.

Sauce Ingredients
1 15-oz can crushed tomatoes, with juice
1 C mire poix (1/2 C onion, 1/4 C carrot, 1/4 C celery - all finely diced*)
½ C brown sugar
¼ C red wine vinegar
¼ C lemon juice
2 T cornstarch, dissolved in ¼ C water

* I'm not a fan of celery, so I tend to go light on the celery and throw in a little extra onion and/or carrot.

Stuffed Cabbage Ingredients
½ large (or 1 small) head cabbage
1 lb ground beef (or combination beef & pork)
1½ C cooked rice (cook in chicken stock for extra flavor; I used a whole grain, wild rice blend)
2 eggs
½ C bread crumbs
½ C caramelized onions
¼ C brown sugar
½ tsp thyme
¼ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp each salt & pepper

Directions
Prepare cabbage...  Use a pairing knife to remove core. For the most tender leaves, freeze the cabbage the day ahead. With or without freezing, bring a large pot of water to boil; boil cabbage until leaves are tender and pull apart easily (approx. 5 minutes, or slightly more if not frozen). If ribs are still too tough, trim thickest parts.

Mix sauce...  In saute pan, cook mire poix with a little oil until onions are translucent and carrots have softened. Dissolve cornstarch in water; combine mire poix, cornstarch and remaining ingredients in saucepan, bring to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer for ½ hour.

Prepare filling... stir together ground beef, cooked rice, bread crumbs, caramelized onions, brown sugar, thyme, garlic powder, salt & pepper. (Add a little extra bread crumbs or a little of the sauce if mixture is too soggy or too dry...should be a relatively firm meatloaf consistency.)

Assemble...
Pre-heat oven to 375˚.
Pour a thin layer of sauce to cover the bottom of 9x13 baking dish. Place generous ½ cup of meat filling near the rib end of a cabbage leaf; roll toward the outer leaf, tucking in sides as you go. Place seam side down in baking dish. Continue until all meat mixture is rolled in leaves and placed in baking dish. Pour remaining sauce over rolls. To retain moisture during cooking, spread remaining cabbage leaves over top of rolls. Cook 1 hour. 

Stuffed Cabbage rolls -- and the extra sauce -- can be served with mashed potatoes, rice or pasta.







Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Roasted Figs

Ingredients
8-10 fresh, ripe figs
3 oz (+/-) chevre or ricotta
¼ C honey
1-2 T balsamic glaze
flakey salt


Directions
Preheat oven to 400˚.

Slice figs in half, lengthwise; place in baking dish, cut side up. Top each fig with a teaspoon or more of chevre. (To really dress up these figs, wrap the m with prosciutto before baking.) Bake 10-12 minutes, until figs are very soft.

While figs are roasting...
In a small bowl, mix honey and balsamic.

Cool figs slightly; drizzle with honey-balsamic mixture, sprinkle lightly with salt.


Sunday, August 7, 2016

Sausage & Mushroom stuffed Mini-Peppers

Using up leftovers...

Ingredients
1 lb sausage (actually a little more than a pound)
8 oz mushrooms
1 green bell pepper
½ medium onion
1 tsp minced garlic
8 oz cream cheese
1 tsp dried basil
s & p to taste
¼ cup bread crumbs
15-18 sweet, mini-peppers

Directions
Pre-heat oven to 375˚.

Finely dice mushrooms, bell pepper and onion. In skillet, brown sausage. Add mushrooms to brown (or brown separately first). Add onion, diced bell pepper and garlic; cook until softened. Reduce heat; add cream cheese and dried basil, stirring until fully incorporated. Remove from heat. Salt & pepper to taste.

Halve mini-peppers, removing ribs and seeds. Place halved side up in baking dish drizzled very lightly with oil. Spoon sausage & mushroom mixture into each pepper half. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake 25 minutes.


Sunday, July 31, 2016

Bacon Jam

Ingredients
1 lb bacon, diced
1 lg onion, diced
2 Tbl brown sugar
2 Tbl maple syrup
¼ C apple cider vinegar
¼ tsp thyme
salt & pepper to taste

Directions
Crisp the bacon in a skillet; remove onto paper towel to drain, reserving as much as possible of the drippings in the skillet. Add onion to skillet and drippings (adding a little extra canola oil if needed); cook to soften and caramelize onions (approx. 15-20 minutes).

Return bacon to skillet along with brown sugar, maple syrup, vinegar and thyme. Cook over low heat to full dissolve brown sugar and thoroughly heat all ingredients.

Remove from heat; cool to room temperature. If desired, pulse in food processor to desired, spreadable consistency. Salt & pepper to taste.


Great on burgers (full bacon flavor in every bite without fighting strips of bacon sliding off your burger). Probably would be delicious on a BLT too. I'm curious to try it on my Peanut Butter Apple & Bacon Sandwich. :)


Friday, July 15, 2016

Lime & Sesame Vinaigrette

After the relatively recent miso-orange vinaigrette, I wanted to try for another (better) Asian-inspired vinaigrette...

Ingredients
1 lg shallot, finely chopped
1 C fresh lime juice
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
½ C toasted sesame oil
½ C vegetable oil
¼ C soy sauce
3 T honey or maple syrup

Directions
Combine shallot and lime juice in a bowl; season with salt and pepper. Let sit 10 minutes. Add sesame oil, vegetable oil, soy sauce and honey/syrup. Whisk to combine. Season with additional salt and/or pepper to taste.

This was good on a salad of fresh greens (cabbage, slivered scallions, and shredded carrots play nicely with the Asian flavors) along with mandarin orange wedges topped with crunchy chow mein noodles or peanuts -- sprinkled with sesame seeds, garnished with finely chopped fresh mint and/or cilantro leaves...  Some grilled, diced chicken or pork makes for a heartier salad. Add more or less of anything to suit your tastes.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Corn & Bacon Bucatini


Serves 4

Ingredients
2 lg ears corn on the cob
8 oz bucatini
½ C half-and-half
1 egg yolk
1 tsp each kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
4-5 oz bacon shredded parmesan, divided
1 T minced garlic
½ C shredded parmesan, divided

Directions
Cook corn in a large pot of lightly salted water -- about 5 min. Remove corn to cool slightly; add bucatini to water and cook to al dente. Drain, reserving a cup of pasta water.

Cut corn from cobs. Whisk together half and half, egg yolk, salt and pepper.

In a skillet, cook bacon until crisp; remove from skillet -- reserving bacon drippings. Chop or crumble bacon. Add garlic to hot skillet, cooking and stirring briefly (1 min). Reduce heat, then add cream mixture, corn, and crumbled bacon; bring to boiling. Add pasta and ¼ C parmesan. Bring pasta back to temperature, adding pasta water to desired consistency.

Serve topped with remaining shredded parmesan.

I didn't have bucatini and just used spaghetti, and if I was making this for company I'd go with yellow corn instead of white (which is what I had on hand) just for more colorful presentation...