March 28, 2011

Caramel Orange Scallops, Spicy Glazed Carrots and Gougeres

Last week I made the Caramel Orange Scallops on time, but forgot to post here and on FFWD! Doh! It's been a very busy week.

On the left here, you see my caramel orange sauce bubbling away. I didn't want to open a bottle of white wine for a 1/2 c. of wine, since I wouldn't be able to drink the rest before it got old, so I used dry vermouth.

Also, I only bought enough scallops for myself, so although I made the full sauce recipe, it was only for 3 scallops :) Luckily Harris Teeter was having a special on fresh sea scallops last Friday!

I don't think I let my sauce reduce enough, because it was a little watery.

As per Dorie's suggestion, I made the Spicy Glazed Carrots (one of the earlier recipes I hadn't tried yet) and enjoyed both making and eating them.

You can see I served my scallops with the carrots and plain basmati rice. I dropped the empty cardamom pods (I had used the seeds for the carrots) into the rice to add a tiny bit of flavor. It really almost added no extra flavor at all but I felt it pulled the whole thing together.

I patted the scallops dry before I put them in the saute pan, but they still spattered all over the place, so I covered them with a screen. Still got a couple flyaways - ouch!

And then on Sunday I got up earlier than my alarm, and decided to whip up a few gougeres for a small reception that morning at church. I wasn't expected to bring anything, but since I was up, and since gougeres were another past recipe I hadn't tried yet, I decided to give them a go. I'm not sure I let the dough dry enough in the pot, and I used a stand mixer to add the eggs, which according to my mom (who makes amazing profiteroles) wasn't the same as mixing it by hand. So I guess I'll try by hand next time. I added mozzarella and parmesan which I had in the fridge, and although they weren't the puffiest, they were very tasty.

March 18, 2011

Butter Break-Ups

I managed to get back on schedule this week with the Salted Butter Break-Ups from Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table. The dough was very easy to make, thanks to my new food processor :) I chilled it for about two hours in a square shape, and then bashed it a little with the rolling pin as suggested by the book, then rolled it out into a "rectangle."

I brushed on the egg wash with my brand new pastry brush from Sur La Table (yay!). Notice the gentle brush strokes and the expert artist's hold of the brush (haha.)

I then created the criss-cross pattern with the back of a fork. That was the most "difficult" (and by difficult, I mean time consuming) part of this recipe. The pictures tell all.

The final product was DELICIOUS.

March 11, 2011

This week's cooking adventures

I can't believe that tomorrow is Friday and I still don't think I have all the ingredients to make the Beggar's Linguine. To be honest, that recipe sounds totally awful to me. I mean, I love pistachios, almonds, figs, golden raisins, and the rest of the ingredients. But together? I mean... ew. I will make this recipe, however, because I'm not going to judge these recipes before I try them. Tomorrow. In the meantime, here's what I did this week. I was on spring break and kind of frantically working on a paper so there wasn't much time to try stuff.

Catch-up recipe! I made Dorie's Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup! It was delicious! I was so excited to be cooking something that actually smelled like a restaurant dish. I used chicken and also bought a half pound of rock shrimp, just because, and for noodles I found some Chinese egg noodles at Whole Foods. Um, they were expensive. But anyway. I was really excited and proud of this dish. I also learned that I don't have deep bowls out of which to eat Asian soups.

I still have a bunch of almond meal leftover from when I made the Orange-Almond tart, so I decided to buy a piece of fish while I was at Whole Foods and crust it in the almond flour. I found a recipe at for Almond-Crusted Salmon with Leek and Lemon Cream and adjusted it for my needs. I used hake, a white fish I've never tried before that was fresh, instead of salmon. First I sauteed some sliced leek in a bit of butter and oil. When it was time to add the cream, I chose to add almond milk instead, to stick with the almond theme. (I had also purchased almond milk at WF that day and was
excited to try it.) The cream was then blended in my tiny chopper thingy and put aside while I cooked the fish. I didn't want to use an egg batter, so I just laid out the almond meal, grated some lemon zest into it, salt and pepper, and smushed it into the fish on both sides before sauteing it in the pan. It was done in a couple minutes. In the meantime, I made mashed potatoes. I decided again to use the almond milk, instead of regular milk, to keep in the almond theme. They were good, but I spilled a little too much in them so they were a bit liquidy. Simple salad on the side with balsamic vinaigrette finished it off.

Okay - can I just say how excited I am to try celery root? I saw it at WF and just had to have it! I will probably make a puree, but my Turkish friend has suggested various ways of eating it, including cooked but then cooled in a salad, with a tzatziki-style topping, lemon and evoo, etc. Yay!

And last but not least, I had some strawberries to eat, macerated with a little lemon and sugar, so I decided to make a faux Strawberry Shortcake. I used the Kitchen Aid recipe book to find a baking powder biscuit recipe, and then split the biscuit and covered it with strawberries, their juice, and a heaping dab of creme fraiche. I LOVE SS!!!

March 10, 2011

Pupatella - A Pizzeria with Spunk!

Last weekend I visited Pupatella, a relatively new pizzeria in Arlington, VA. They bill themselves as a Neapolitan pizzeria and friggitoria. I actually just saw that last part when I looked up their website. Um, yum! Friggitoria means they are serving up tasty fried treats like arancini di riso (rice balls) and crocche' di patate (mashed potato balls). They also had a fried calzone on their menu, but I got the impression it was going to be a pretty big, as in large, item, and not tiny like the ones you often find on the street in Naples.

I heard from a friend of a friend from Naples that this is THE place to go in the DC area for Neapolitan pizza, so I wasn't going to let much time to by before trying it. The inside of the place is really cute, and small, and funky. There are high tables and low tables and even a couch where people can sit and wait for their carryout orders.

Bottom line - I recommend it. The pizza - I ordered the "real Margherita" - the one with fior di latte mozzarella instead of mozzarella di bufala (which is kind of just not the same AT ALL as it is in Salerno, and therefore a waste of money in my opinion) and it was very delicious. The pizzaiolo stands right there in front of you, stretching the dough and making the pizzas, letting you see all his doughy tricks and witness just how simple the ingredients of these pizzas are.

Beer and wine are cheap there, and I noticed a special deal where if you buy two pizzas you get $10 off a bottle of wine. I think these wines were about $30 so that really isn't bad, considering you pay $10 a glass in a lot of places around here.

I also noticed they were advertising sfogliatelle for dessert, and so I had to try one. One of my favorite treats when I go to Salerno (and Naples), this seashell-like pastry with a ricotta cream inside is amazing when it's good. The one at Pupatella - not so good. Don't get it. If you've ever had one in Naples or the surrounding cities, you will be disappointed. Some things are just meant to be made in their hometown and not elsewhere, especially not in other countries across an ocean. I heard that the sfogliata at Cafe' Milano is good, but I'm still skeptical. I'll try it next time I'm there if possible.

Pupatella also has gelato, and I tasted a few before settling on the old classic nocciola (hazelnut.) It's worth a taste :)

Believe it or not, I did not check out the bathroom there (see the subtitle of this blog.) Will have to save that part for my next trip.

March 1, 2011

Last-minute Leeks!

I remembered today that I had some leeks in the fridge that will probably spoil soon if I don't use them. So I went to and looked up recipes for leeks that were quick and easy. And I found a real winner! Linguine with Leeks, Walnut Pesto and Radicchio. I kept the recipe basically the same except that I decreased the quantity of leeks (from 4 cups to 1-2 cups) and the quantity of radicchio. This meal was so fast and easy! Walnut Pesto was whipped up in the food processor while the leeks were sauteing in the pan and the pasta water was heating to a boil. I also used bucatini instead of linguine.

I was at the Italian Store in Arlington, VA the other day and found that they carry Garofalo pasta, a delicious and very al dente pasta from Gragnano (Naples.) The very same brand that my family in Salerno uses. So needless to say I was excited to try it out. I would definitely make this recipe again. Easy, Fast, Healthy, Vegetarian, Tasty - a real winner!

Savory Cheese and Herb Bread

I am totally on top of things and early this week with my FFWD recipe! I improvised with what I had on hand - parmesan, mozzarella, monterey jack, and parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme :)

I doubled the recipe to take a loaf to my friends. This bread is DELICIOUS. It's quite heavy, so one piece will really do you, but so tasty and just yum! How many ways can I say it? YUM-O!

I chose not to add any nuts, although I love them, because I wanted to enjoy the texture sans. Also, since cheese is already salty, I didn't want to oversalt the bread. I did add some salt to the dough, but I also sprinkled just a little freshly ground salt on top before putting them in the oven, and the result was a little crunchy salty goodness when you're eating the top crust.

Speculoos - Christmas cookies in February

Catching up on another past recipe from French Fridays with Dorie I decided to make speculoos, the Belgian Christmas cookies featured in Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table. I chose them because I was going to visit my honey at work for the first time, and I always like to make a nice impression on the people he works with (or on anyone for that matter.) This recipe said it made 70 cookies, which meant there would be plenty for them, and for me, and it didn't seem too hard.

I made the dough the night before so it could chill. I didn't have enough brown sugar so I added some more granulated sugar, but left the measurement just shy of its full amount since it's sweeter. I didn't have any cookie cutters that were 1.25 inches, so I improvised, and found a plastic bottle with the mouth about that size. I also threw in a couple with a penguin cookie cutter for my mom, who loves penguins.

Short Ribs (or Food Surgery, and Too Many Carbs)

Hello! I'm happy to say I finally completed that short ribs recipe! Better late than never. I ended up making about 3 lbs, which was plenty, and I got to use my brand new dutch oven, which was very exciting :)

The photo on the left is my first night of eating them, with pizza di patate and asparagus. My gremolata had the zest of one orange, parsley, and some grated garlic. I learned that I LOVE the flavor combination of orange and (browned) beef.

I have to say that although I kind of knew it beforehand, I was still shocked at how much fat was in the short ribs. It might be weird, but I have always loved spooning off congealed cold fat from the top of soups and sauces. I think it goes back to my dream of being a surgeon. It's kind of like operating on the food, trying to remove all the fat without any of the good stuff. This next picture shows just how much fat was there after a night in the fridge. Yikes!

Finally, tonight I decided to make mashed potatoes to go along with my short ribs leftovers.

I boiled 2 Russet potatoes, then mashed them (by hand!) with warm milk and a splash of half and half and some butter. For flavor, I sprinkled in some truffle salt, which turned out to be just the right amount. That stuff is strong, and can kind of ruin your dish if you have a heavy hand. I reheated the ribs with their sauce, sprinkled more of the delicious orange gremolata, and cut myself a piece (or 2) of the cheese herb bread. There's no such thing as too many carbs!