I was born and raised in Kansas and learned to cook alongside my mother. Now, along with my wonderful husband, I have taken the plunge into the city life in New York. These are my food adventures: in my own tiny kitchen, and in the many restaurants of the city.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Pork With Mustard Bourbon Glaze and Sauteed Beet Greens

I am going to ask a few favors of you, my faithful blog readers (there are a couple of you out there, I believe...). Number one, if you haven't already, please pick up either "Omnivore's Dilemma" or "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle." I told you before how much I enjoyed "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" and am in the beginning pages of "Omnivore's Dilemma". It's already surprised me and opened my eyes to the origins of our food and the problems that face our farmers and our country in terms of food production. We need to make some serious reforms in the way we grow, purchase, and consume and I think that the more people that read books such as these the faster these changes will come about. I guarantee you that by reading these books your perception of food will change.

Also, along some similar lines as the above favor, I ask that you go out and purchase meat that is raised organically and grass fed. Go to the farmer's markets and get to know the farmers and find out their practices before purchasing your meat. Not only will you be helping to reinforce some of the above mentioned changes to food production, but you will also be gaining huge bounds in terms of flavor. I'm telling you: animals that are raised on what they should be eating and that are not being filled with antibiotics and whatnot taste leaps and bounds better than the typical meat you buy at the grocery store. I promise you that you won't be disappointed.
When you go out and get some pork chops from your local farmer's market, try out this recipe. Joe said I should only make pork this way because it is so good. Sorry for no photos--next time I make it I'll make sure to get a couple and update the post.

Pork With Mustard Bourbon Glaze
2 pork chops (about 1 1/2" thick)
salt and pepper
1 t. mustard powder
2 TB cooking oil
1/4 c. dijon mustard
1/8 c. honey
1/2. bourbon
2 TB butter

Rub the pork chops on each side liberally with salt and pepper and the mustard powder. Allow to sit at room temperature for about 35-40 minutes before cooking.
Heat 2 TB cooking oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the pork chops and cook to medium, about 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove the pork chops and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
Turn down the heat in the skillet to medium-low. Add the dijon mustard and honey and stir for about a minute. Carefully add the bourbon, stirring constantly. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring, and then stir in the 2 TB of butter and serve drizzled over the pork chops.

Sauteed Beet Greens
4 c. beet greens, chopped into large chunks
4 TB butter
1/4 c. cooking oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 c. chopped onion
salt and pepper
1/2 t. red chili peppers
1/4 c. lemon juice

Heat the butter and cooking oil over medium heat in a large pan. Add the garlic and the onion and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the beet greens and cook until wilted and tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in salt and pepper, red chili flakes, and lemon juice and serve.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Beet Carpaccio

I've always prided myself on being someone that will try anything once (although, I do have a package of fried crickets that have been sitting in my cabinet for a while that I just keep trying to work myself up to trying...). Picky eaters are probably my biggest pet peeve. I think most of the time people that are picky about their food don't have any idea what they actually like/don't like. They were told as kids that they didn't like something (usually as they were eating it...ugh. When I see parents do this I want to pull my hair out). Or they just assumed they didn't like it and wouldn't try it. These people just have no idea of the things they are missing out on.

I do have to admit, though, that there were some things I did not like when I was a bit younger. Olives, radishes, beets. When growing up, though, my mom would make me try everything, even if I thought I didn't like it. I learned that sometimes I really did like these things or that sometimes my tastes would change. So these days I continue to try things that I used to not like in hopes of changing my mind.

I remember specifically the case for olives. I hated them. I would try them here and there (my mom loved them on sandwiches and pizzas and they made me gag :). Then I studied abroad in Spain. My host mother (a beautiful, amazing woman) would put olives on the salads multiple times a week for our family lunch. Never wanting to make her feel bad, I always ate them, along with anything else that maybe I didn't love. Then one day some friends and I were walking through a square in Cadiz and came upon an olive vendor. For some reason the smell of those olives overwhelmed me with desire. The vendor had barrels full of so many kinds of olives, all with a special brine or flavoring. I marched over, bought me a massive bag of garlicky olives and proceeded to enjoy the whole bag while wandering around the city. I was hooked and haven't looked back since (although I do admit to still struggling with black olives. I'll eat them in things, but alone...? Probably someday).

I don't remember exactly when this change came around for me with beets, but I do know I am happy that it has. There is something pure and earthy about beets flavor. I feel like I am experiencing the soul of the garden when I eat them. Beet carpaccio highlights their deep flavor and doesn't muddy it down with too many other elements

Beet Carpaccio
2 servings
4 beets, cleaned and trimmed
2 TB olive oil
4 TB extra virgin olive oil, divided
3/4 c. sunflower sprouts (or arugula)
1/2 c. blue cheese crumbles
1/3 c. walnuts
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375. In a small baking dish toss the beets with regular olive oil and a bit of salt. Cover dish with foil and cook beets until tender, about 50 minutes. Remove and allow to cool, then peel off the skins with your fingers.
Slice the beets into very thin slices and arrange in a single layer on two plates. Drizzle with 1 TB extra virgin olive oil on each plate. Top with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
In a small bowl mix together the sunflower sprouts with remaining 2 TB of extra virgin olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper. Divide sprouts in two parts and place each one on top of the beet slices.
Top the beets with blue cheese crumbles and walnuts and serve.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Seared Scallops with Herb Drizzle and Broccolini

In our new apartment (can I still call it that after almost 3 months??) we live very close to the beautiful, large Brooklyn Public Library. While wandering around it one day I stumbled across dvds of "The French Chef". So, let's just say I've been watching a lot of old school cooking television lately.

The great thing about watching Julia Child cooking these recipes is that it really seems to take away the fear and complication of cooking these French recipes. I know that is what she was going for when writing "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" but sometimes the length and detail that goes into those written recipes is a little intimidating. When you watch her, though, you understand that many of the recipes are just cooking basics and there is so much room for substitution if necessary or different ways of doing just about everything. Despite the fact that most people consider French cooking "fancy" or "complicated", watching these episodes are making me more and more confident in going back to basics and sticking with simplicity. Because, really, most of the best meals are the most elemental.

So that brings me to this meal. Not French, but inspired by a woman who taught us to not be afraid in the kitchen and to try new things. The scallops are simply (but perfectly--seriously: crispy layer and creamy interior) seared and served with a refreshing herb drizzle and the broccolini is sauteed with some simple flavoring. Who needs to go out to a restaurant when you can eat like this at home?

Seared Scallops with Fresh Herb Drizzle
8 diver scallops
salt and pepper
2-3 TB Olive oil
1-2 TB good quality extra virgin olive oil

juice from 2 limes
1/4 c. cilantro, finely minced
2 TB mint, finely minced
1 TB finely minced shallots
salt and pepper
1/3 c. olive oil

In a small bowl mix together the lime juice, cilantro, mint, shallots and salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Set sauce aside.
Heat 2-3 TB olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot (but not smoking), salt and pepper each side of the scallops and add 4 to the saute pan. Allow to cook until crispy on each side, about 4 minutes on each side. Remove from the pan and set aside and cook the other 4 scallops in the same manor.
Drizzle the scallops with the good-quality extra virgin olive oil and then serve with the cilantro-mint sauce.

Sauteed Broccolini
2 bundles of broccolini
2 TB butter
2 TB olive oil
1 t. fennel seed powder
1 t. celery salt
salt and pepper
1-2 TB good quality extra virgin olive oil

Heat the butter and regular olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the broccolini. Sprinkle with fennel seed powder and celery salt and cook until just tender, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Mojito Ice Cream

I've said before how much I love mojitos. I don't think there's much more refreshing than the combo of tart lime juice and fresh mint while sitting out in the summer heat. So when trying to decide what kind of ice cream to make to kick off the summer, this was the first choice for Joe and I.

The flavor of this ice cream turned out really well but the texture is a little funny (almost like a cross between ice cream and sorbet). I'm not quite sure where the problem is--maybe too much lime juice? Maybe I really need the egg yolks in this? I'm going to do some playing around with it in the future, but I'm posting it to get some suggestions from anyone out there that has made a citrus ice cream before. When I placed this in the fridge it separated after a couple of hours, but I stirred it, placed it back in the fridge, and didn't have any problems with the separation after that.

Mojito Ice Cream
1 1/4 c. Half and half
1 3/4 c. heavy cream
1 c. sugar
zest from 3 limes
1/2 c. lime juice
bundle of mint
1 TB rum

In a medium saucepan mix together the sugar, lime juice and lime zest over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. While whisking, add in the half and half and heavy cream. Also add the bundle of mint (should not be chopped--use stems and all). Turn up the heat slightly and cook until the mixture reaches 170 degrees, stirring frequently.
Remove from the heat and stir in the rum. Cover with plastic wrap touching the top of the mixture and allow to come to room temperature. Then remove the mint, recover, and place in the refrigerator for 8 hours. Once it has sat, churn according to your ice cream makers instructions.
After churning place in a covered container and freeze for at least one hour before serving.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Homemade Butter and Radishes

It's so funny how sometimes growing up you want to be anywhere but home and be doing anything but what your parents are doing--and then you become an adult and wish you could go back home and do those things. I always fought against having to work in the garden, go feed and take care of the pigs and sheep, or spend long days canning and preserving fruits and veggies. Now these are things that I wish I could do more of now. I feel like I am so lucky to have this knowledge. So many people don't understand or get to experience first hand where our food comes from, and these days I'm realizing how very important it is that we start going back to those basics and regain the understanding.

In light of this, I am trying to get back to a way of life that isn't really simpler, but is definitely more rewarding. I am buying things in season from local growers. I am much more conscious of where my food is coming from. In this vain I also want to learn some of those skills that our generation hasn't had to use so these skill sets don't get lost. I'm learning to knit, for one, but I have decided I also want to make more of my own bread and pasta. I want to find a plot of land next year somewhere (anyone know a community garden in Prospect Heights that will let me plant?) and get a garden of my own started. And now I want to start trying my hand at butter and cheese.

I found this recipe for butter in "The Butter Issue" of Saveur. If you haven't seen this issue, I urge you to find it--so many fascinating stories about butter! The recipe is so simple. Find a local dairy and purchase your cream from them--the butter will taste even more of home. I decided to serve up my first batch of butter in a simple French way: with radishes. Basic, unadorned, and just perfect for showcasing the flavors of your butter.
(Oh, and if you want a great, easy bread recipe try this one out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTY4WJRSzY8).

Homemade Butter

Butter and Radishess
Homemade butter
Sea Salt
Smoked Sea Salt
Crusty French Bread (optional)

Place the butter in a bowl and let come to about room temperature. Clean the radishes and chop in half. Spread the radishes with butter and sprinkle with good quality sea salt and, if desired, smoked sea salt and serve on good French bread.