Archive for the ‘gluten-free’ Category

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Cauliflower and Tomatoes

 

We’ve had snow here in Seattle. Some areas have been harder hit than our house, but in the Seattle area even a couple of inches of snow is enough to bring the city to a standstill.

Luckily, before the snow hit, I fortified our home with supplies to get us through the storm (though we are running tragically low on Rum) including plenty of options for soup. To me, nothing tastes better on a cold, snowy night than a steaming hot bowl of soup.

I wasn’t planning on writing a blog about this particular soup, but after I posted the photo above a friend asked for the recipe. Since it had turned out so tasty I thought why not share it. However, since I hadn’t planned a post, the iPhone photo above is the only photo I have, no process photos. The steps are fairly straightforward though.

I served the soup with foccacia bread that I had dotted with kalamata olives. The salty tang was nice with the soup but any bread will do in a snow storm.

Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Cauliflower and Tomatoes
Author: 
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
If you are not a fan of tomatoes, feel free to leave them out. Same goes for the red pepper flakes, add a little or as much heat as your mouth can stand.
Ingredients
Soup
  • 1 butternut squash
  • olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning mix
  • 1-2 teaspoons (or more) red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 cups chicken or veggie stock
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
Roasted Vegetables
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • ½ onion
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. While the oven preheats, peel the butternut squash and cut it into 1-inch cubes. Toss the cubes with the olive oil, herbs, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and place them in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until tender and brown around the edges.
  3. While the squash cooks, cut the cauliflower into small florets. Toss them, along with the tomatoes, with the olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and place them in a single layer on a large baking sheet.
  4. Once the squash is done cooking remove it from the oven and place the pan with the cauliflower into the oven. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring once during the cooking.
  5. Meanwhile, in a large pot, combine the cooked squash with the chicken broth and bring just to a boil. Using an immersion blender (or working in batches in a regular blender) puree the soup. Stir in the vinegar and check for seasoning adding salt and pepper as desired.
  6. To serve, divide the cauliflower and tomato mixture between the bowls. Ladle the butternut squash soup around the cauliflower. Enjoy.

 

Monday, December 5th, 2011

Vegetable Terrine with Goat Cheese Inlay and the Final Challenge

Here it is. My last Charcutepalooza post. The challenge for this, the final month in our year of challenges? Show off a little. Basically, have a party, invite a bunch of friends and feed them until they are ready to burst.

Of course there were a few more guidelines than “just feed people”. A list of items (using at least four) that our meal needed to include: something smoked, cured or brined, something made with pork belly, a pate or terrine,  rillettes or confit and sausage of some kind.

I pulled out all of my trusty charcuterie books. For days I pored over them, considering my menu. A few items easily made the list (my buffalo chicken rillettes and pork belly confit) but some needed more consideration.

Finally, after days of adding something to my list only to replace it with something else two hours later, I settled on the following menu:

To start:
• Scotch Eggs
• Baguettes topped with Bacon Jam and Tomato Confit
• Buffalo Chicken Rillettes
• Baguettes topped with Goat Cheese and Lonzino

Dinner:
• Vegetable Terrine with Goat Cheese Inlay (based loosely on the version found in Charcuterie, recipe follows)
• Brined Pork Loin with Cured Lemons (from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home)
• Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Maple Syrup and Pecans
• Jim Drohman’s Pork Belly Confit with tender and bitter greens, mustard vinaigrette and sous vide eggs (pork belly recipe from Charcuterie)
• Polenta with Parmesan

And of course there was dessert (I served a nut tart I picked up at Will Bake for Food) and many plentiful cocktails (including a take on a lemon drop that included lavender and rosemary)

Ninety percent of my friends (and my husband) work at a the corporate office of a major corporation that does not allow anyone to take the day after Thanksgiving off work. So, that is the day I settled on for my gathering. Guests started arriving as they got off work and I started feeding them right away. And then I kept feeding them for the next four hours.

It was a glorious night of gluttony. Think about it, how often do you get to eat pork that has been prepared six different ways. The pork belly confit, which was cooked with cinnamon, cloves and allspice than deep fried was my favorite dish of the night, though the still-pink and meltingly tender pork loin was a close second. But then again, those brussels sprouts were pretty good too. Oh, and the veggie terrine…

I’m sad that my year of Charcutepalooza challenges has come to a close though I’m grateful for the new skills I’ve gained and the community of meat-enthusiasts that I have found. I plan to continue my learning and experimentation. Making my own bacon, grinding and stuffing my own sausage, whipping up a rillettes, just because. And now that I’ve got my curing chamber up and running, cured muscles and sausages are again within my grasp.

Vegetable Terrine with Goat Cheese Inlay
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
This vegetable terrine was a welcome addition to a very meat-centric meal. Add or subtract other vegetables as you see fit, just be sure to think about color transitions as you layer them in you terrine. Make sure to season each vegetable as you prepare it.
Ingredients
  • 1 eggplant
  • 2 zucchini
  • 2 yellow squash
  • 4 red pepper
  • 2 portobello mushrooms
  • 1 handful green beans
Goat Cheese Inlay
  • 3 roma tomatoes
  • 6 ounce Goat cheese, softened
  • 2 Tablespoon fresh soft herbs (parsley, basil, etc)
  • salt and pepper
Gelatin Vinaigrette
  • 2 teaspoon powdered gelatin
  • 3 Tablespoon Water
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 Clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup sherry vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Slice the tomatoes into ¼ inch slices. Shake of as much liquid as you can. Spread the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Place in oven for 2-3 hours or until the tomatoes are dehydrated. Once cool, cut into ¼ inch pieces. (This step can be done 1-2 days in advance)
  2. Heat the grill or preheat the broiler.
  3. Slice the eggplant, zucchini and squash into ⅛ inch slices. Toss the slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and grill or broil, turning once until tender. Set aside to cool. Repeat the process with the mushrooms and green beans. Roast, peel and deseed the red peppers, leaving the pepper pieces as large as possible.
  4. Stir together the diced tomatoes, herbs and goat cheese. Season with salt and pepper then spoon the goat cheese onto a piece of plastic wrap and use it to form the goat cheese into a log shape the same length as the mold you plan to use.
  5. Heat the water in a small saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin over it and allow it to bloom. Heat the bloomed gelatin over low heat until dissolved. Meanwhile, whisk together the remaining vinaigrette ingredients. Add the bloomed gelatin to the vinaigrette and set aside in a warm place.
  6. Line a terrine mold with plastic wrap leaving enough overhang on the two long sides to cover the terrine. Lay the eggplant slices over in the mold so that the ends hang over the sides. Brush them with the gelatin vinaigrette. Repeat the process with the zucchini. In the bottom of the terrine add a layer of green beans, followed by mushrooms, and red pepper, brushing each layer with vinaigrette. Spoon the goat cheese in a line down the middle of the terrine. Layer green beans and squash along the sides of the goat cheese. Add a layer of red pepper. Fold the zucchini flaps over, brush with vinaigrette and then finally fold over the eggplant flaps, brush with any remaining vinaigrette. Fold the plastic wrap over and refrigerate overnight.
  7. Remove the terrine from the refrigerator. Open the top flaps of plastic and turn the terrine onto a cutting board. Remove plastic and cut into ¾ inch slices.

 

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

White Bean and Sage Soup

It has become painfully (pardon the pun) obvious to me that at the moment, my ankles and knees are just not up to doing triathlons. I wish that this had occurred to me sooner. That I had stopped trying so that I could avoid re-injuring myself over and over, but sometimes I guess I’m slow (or maybe stubborn).

With this realization, I have re-embraced swimming. It was always my favorite of the three sports anyway. I had been swimming at the local community pool. For my occasional swims it made sense to be on a pay as you go $5 a swim type plan, but I never really enjoyed that pool. I hated swimming inside in the middle of summer and it seemed like the pool was always closed at times when I wanted to be swimming. Plus, I have never been a fan of community locker rooms.

A couple of months ago I finally took the plunge and joined a swim club that is just a half-mile from our house. For as often as I wanted to be swimming (3-4 times a week) the private club was just a few dollars more a month.

I cannot begin to describe just how much I love it. I mean, for one thing, they have an adult-only locker room with private showers. That alone is worth the few extra dollars a month. My favorite thing about the club, however, is that they have an outdoor pool that they keep heated to 80 degrees year round. It’s a funny experience to make a run from the heated indoors so that you can jump in the pool to warm up.

I’m usually a morning swimmer, but on occasion it is just impossible for me to get out of bed early for a swim. Yesterday was one of those days. Instead, I waited for my husband to get home (since we share a car) and then went for a late afternoon swim. Of course a late afternoon swim at this time of year in Seattle means the sun has gone down.

Surrounded by darkness, I hopped into the fog-covered pool. I put my headphones on and suddenly, even though I was sharing the pool with a swim team, I was transported to my own underwater space. Save for a few shadows, I was alone with my music and my thoughts.

Tired and hungry, it was eventually time to go. I came home to a house redolent with sage and garlic and was quite pleased to remember that I had left a pot of soup simmering on the stove. Simple yet delicious, it brought me back to reality and filled me up at the same time.

 

 

White Bean and Sage Soup
Author: 
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Simple and inexpensive, this soup requires very little hands on time. Make it a meal by adding a simple salad and some crusty bread.
Ingredients
  • 1 pound navy beans, picked through and rinsed (no need to soak)
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 6-8 ounce salt pork
  • 2 sprig fresh sage, wrapped in a cheesecloth sachet
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Parmesan cheese rind (optional)
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a stockpot. Do not add salt as the salt pork will add a lot of saltiness to the soup. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for 3-4 hours or until beans are tender.
  2. Using tongs, remove and discard sage sachet and cheese rind. Move salt pork to a cutting board and cut the meaty portion of the piece into small pieces. Discard the fat. Add the meat back to the soup.
  3. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if desired.

 

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Rillettes

 

I was going to do it. I had every intention. I was going to take a chicken, pull its skin off like a disgusting, slimy sweater and then refashion the whole thing into something that people have said is delicious.

I’ll be honest though, I wasn’t really looking forward to it. For one, the galatine looks like old food (as in not modern) and something I wasn’t really interested in. Secondly it made a lot. I mean the whole idea of this month’s Charcutepalooza challenge was to stretch a small amount of food into an amount to feed a group. I just didn’t want to make a bunch of food that would eventually go to waste and I just didn’t have enough free time this month to throw together a dinner party.

Then came the thing that made the whole point mute. I got sick. So sick. Nothing sounded good to eat and I had no energy for cooking.

Finally with two days to spare, I felt up to cooking, but, I still wasn’t up to full Jennifer strength. I needed my challenge to be easily completed in just a few hours. Galatine out. Rillettes in.

I’ve made rillettes before (I made the fantastic recipe from the Pork and Sons cookbook last month as part of my meal) but I’ve always made it with pork. I wanted to try something new so I thought I would use chicken. Then I started thinking about flavorings. I love the tangy flavor of buffalo wings and I thought that would be in interesting direction to take. Here’s the ingredients.

To start, I combined all the ingredients except for the chicken and the vinegar in a saucepan and heated it until the lard had melted. Then I added the chicken and brought the pot to a low simmer. I stirred it a couple of times, but there was enough liquid in the pot that I didn’t have to worry about it too much.

After an hour I added the vinegar and let it cook for another 45 minutes or so until the chicken was falling apart. Then, using a slotted spoon, I moved all the meat to the bowl of my stand mixer.

Using the paddle attachment I ran the mixer for about a minute until the meat had broken apart. I tested for flavor and consistency and added a few spoonfuls of the cooking liquid and a splash more of vinegar.

 

Then I packed the meat into 3 half-pint jars.

 

While I packed the jars, the cooking liquid separated into layers with the fat on top, so I was able to easily spoon a layer of fat top each of the packed jars.

 

I stashed the jars in the fridge so the fat could re-solidify and the flavors could marry.

Since buffalo wings are often served with blue cheese dressing, I thought that a hunk of good blue cheese, along with some crusty bread and a few celery sticks would be the perfect accompaniments.

The rillettes made a delightful dinner. The “buffalo wing” flavor was subtle, but delicious. I could have used a little more heat (and maybe a little more tang) but overall, this recipe is a winner.

Buffalo Chicken Rillettes
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: three 8-oz jars
 
When checking the rillettes for seasoning, keep in mind that the flavors will not be as strong once the mixture has cooled. Season the mixture a little stronger than you think you should.
Ingredients
  • 5 ounces pork fat or lard
  • ½ Cup Frank’s Original Red Hot Sauce
  • ½ Cup Water
  • 1 onion, diced
  • ¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon Tabasco or other hot sauce
  • 1 Pinch cayenne
  • 1 Clove garlic, minced
  • 1½ Pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces, large veins removed.
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
Instructions
  1. Combine all the ingredients, except for the chicken and white vinegar, in a saucepan and heat gently until the fat has melted. Add the chicken and cook over very low heat, stirring often for 1 hour. Add the vinegar to the pan and continue to cook until the meat shreds easily, about another hour.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix at low speed until the meat breaks into pieces. Adjust consistency by adding a few spoonfuls of the cooking liquid to the bowl (consistency should be spreadable, not runny or dry). Test for seasoning and add more salt, hot sauce or vinegar as needed.
  3. Pack the meat into a suitable jar or ramekin. Allow the cooking liquid to separate and spoon fat over the top of the meat to cover and create a seal.
  4. Serve with crusty bread, celery sticks and good blue cheese.

 

Monday, August 15th, 2011

Tête Pressée

“She was a good pig. I used to pet her everyday.”

Yes, this is what I was told by the petite girl working the counter when I picked up my pig’s head.

This statement caused some very mixed emotions. On the one hand, I was happy to know that my pig was well loved and cared for. On the other hand, that statement really made me think. Sometimes (too often, I think) it is easy to forget that the meat I eat was a living, breathing thing, just days or hours before. But that statement was a reminder. A slap in the face of a reminder. Another creature has given its life so that I can have nourishment and enjoyment. It’s a sacrifice that needs to be respected.

~ ~ ~

As I worked in the kitchen, making jam and pickles from the rest of my farmer’s market bounty I thought about the head in my cooler bag. I was nervous to start with when I decided to take on this challenge (I was going to make something with trotters but my husband talked me into getting a head) but the more I thought about it the more nervous I got. I have a bit of a gag reflex and I just didn’t know how this was going to go down. Finally, I ran out of projects to procrastinate with and it was time. Well first, maybe a cocktail to steel my nerves.

For my challenge this month, I had decided to make a tête pressée (rolled pressed pigs head). The idea of head cheese (with it’s gelatenousness and all) did not appeal (I mentioned my gag reflex, right). The first step in my project was brining. So, all I had to do was take the head out of the bag, rinse her off, put her in a bowl and then pour the brine over the top. Oh yeah, and cut her tongue out and her ear off. The ear removal went fine, but once I started in on the tongue I saw her teeth. Don’t know why, but that sight set me off. It took great effort for me to finish up, but I did. Phew. Into the fridge for three days of brining.

Finally it was time for step two. Rinse her off and start her boiling. I tried, at this point to singe off all her little face hairs (p.s. this smells awful) but my torch ran out of propane. I decided to deal with them later and get the show on the road. Into the pot she went along with some mirepoix and water (and minus her nose because her whole head wouldn’t fit in the pot).

A couple of hours simmering later and it was time for the next step. I manhandled her out of the pot and set her aside to cool. Meanwhile I strained the stock and sauteed some shallots and parsley.

That feeling came back. The nervous stomach feelings of doom for what was to come. When researching this project I’d come across a post by Hank Shaw in which he was making head cheese. He called picking the meat off the head “grim business” and he’s a hunter for goodness sake. How was I supposed to deal with it?

Perhaps a little more liquid courage. Yes, that might help. I donned some gloves and dug in. The first problem was the hairs. Even the ones that I had singed off were still a problem. I ended up basically having to scrape and cut the skin of the entire head. That done I moved onto the real sticky business. First, removal of the eye. No, wait. First, one more drink. It gave me the courage but the process was still awful. There was gagging and deep breathing and much trying not to throw up. Not fun. But I persevered. Feeling my way through, separating the good from the bad. It’s a grim business indeed.

Happily, now, I was just left with the good stuff. Time to roll. The meat (fat) on my head was quite thick so I sliced it in half. I set out some cheese cloth and put half the head down then layered on the shallots and parsley mixture along with the tongue and all the other tasty meat that I had pulled off the head, then topped it with the other half of the head. Finally I rolled the whole thing up tight and secured it with some butchers twine.

The roll went back into the stock which was then left to cool in the fridge. The idea being that the gelatinous stock kinda gets into the nooks and crannies and holds the whole bit together.

Happily, when it was time to serve, it did just that. I had been so worried that the whole thing would just fall apart when I sliced it (and yes, a few slices did) but for the most part, it worked out great.

I served the tête pressée with thinly sliced red spring onions and spicy Dijon mustard which definitely help to cut the richness of the meat. Best described as unctious, the tête pressée was a wonderful part of our warm August dinner party.

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Grilled Vegetable Chopped Salad with Creamy Pesto Dressing

So far this summer, my trips to the farmer’s market have been largely uninspiring. With the cool, wet weather that we are having in Seattle, summer produce is late arriving. My most recent trip, however, brought a wealth of inspiration. This particular farmer has been using a greenhouse to help summer along so I was able to find my first “warm weather” produce.

I decided to take advantage of one of our few sunny days and do some grilling. This, combined with some leftover chicken and a couple of ingredients from the pantry produced a wonderful main dish salad. Here’s the ingredients.

To start, I cut the bell pepper into quarters, removing the seeds and what not and then cut the eggplant and zucchini into planks about 1/2″ thick. Then I cut the sweet onions into quarters and pushed them, as well as the garlic, onto skewers. I rubbed everything down with olive oil and then seasoned them all with salt and pepper.

I started the onions and the garlic on the top rack of the grill and then walked away … for too long. Sigh. Burned. That’ll teach me for trying to do three projects at one time. I forged ahead and put the rest of the veggies on the hot grill. Flipping them as they browned …

… and removing them as they cooked through.

I decided the garlic was a goner (and it ended up being unneeded), but went ahead and peeled the charred layers off of the onions so that I could use them. I chopped everything into 1/2″ pieces, including a couple of the greens off of the sweet onions.

I stirred together the pesto, lemon juice and mayo and chopped the chicken. Finally I combined all the ingredients in a large bowl and tossed the whole mix together.

Delicious!

 

GRILLED VEGETABLE CHOPPED SALAD WITH CREAMY PESTO DRESSING
serves 2 generously

This salad can easily be made with prepared pesto and mayonnaise. However, if you have the time, take it and make a batch of pesto and homemade mayo. Put any leftover pesto into an ice cube tray and freeze. That way you’ll have a tasty touch of summer all year round. I used two “ice cubes” worth of pesto in the dressing. Mayonnaise from scratch might sound hard, but it’s easier than you think (especially if you have an immersion blender) and totally worth it. I like to use Alton Brown’s recipe (which I’ve added below) and Chef John’s method (here’s a link). If you can’t find new sweet onions, use a sliced mature sweet onion (for the bulb) and scallions (for the greens). I used leftovers from a rotisserie chicken to keep my kitchen cool.

1 zucchini, cut into 1/2″ planks
1 small eggplant, cut into 1/2″ planks
1 red bell pepper, quartered and seeded
6 new sweet onions, bulbs quartered, some of the greens chopped
10 cloves garlic (optional)
1/4 cup pesto
1/2 cup homemade mayonnaise (see recipe below)
juice of 1/2 lemon
6 ounces cooked chicken, chopped
2-3 ounces Parmesan cheese
4-5 leaves romaine lettuce, chopped

Prepare grill for cooking. Grill all the vegetables, flipping as they brown, until they are softened and cooked through. Cool, then cut into 1/2″ pieces.

Stir together the pesto, mayonnaise and lemon juice.

In a large bowl, toss together the cooled and chopped vegetables, onion greens, chicken, lettuce, cheese and dressing. Divide between plates. Enjoy!

 

Alton Brown’s Mayonnaise

1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
2 pinches sugar
2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 cup oil, safflower or corn

In a glass bowl, whisk together egg yolk and dry ingredients. Combine lemon juice and vinegar in a separate bowl then thoroughly whisk half into the yolk mixture. Start whisking briskly, then start adding the oil a few drops at a time until the liquid seems to thicken and lighten a bit, (which means you’ve got an emulsion on your hands). Once you reach that point you can relax your arm a little (but just a little) and increase the oil flow to a constant (albeit thin) stream. Once half of the oil is in add the rest of the lemon juice mixture.

Continue whisking until all of the oil is incorporated. Leave at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours then refrigerate for up to 1 week.

 

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Scallops with Carrot Cream and Marjoram from Good Fish Cookbook

A couple of days ago I got a call from a perspective client wondering if I was available this weekend for a dinner party for two. Happily I have the day open because I love doing these kind of intimate affairs. This particular dinner will be an anniversary celebration and my client wants to provide his wife with some of her favorite foods, one of which happens to be scallops.

However, because my husband is NOT a fan of seafood, I don’t cook a lot of it at home. I decided I better turn to one of my many (many) cookbooks to find some inspiration. Luckily, my friend Becky Selengut has just written a cook book all about sustainable seafood called Good Fish. I’ve had this absolutely gorgeous and exceptionally witty (yes a cook book can be witty) book on my shelf for a while but until now I haven’t had a great excuse to cook from it. This was my opportunity. I turned to the chapter on scallops and spotted a recipe for Scallops with Carrot Creme and Marjoram. Perfect.

The recipe has several components that are cooked separately then plated together. They include carrot cream, herb oil, pickled carrots and of course, the scallops. Looking at the photo in the book, the way that it was plated made me wonder if the pickled carrots were really necessary. They’re kind of off to the side looking very unimportant. Luckily I was able to contact Becky through Twitter (she goes by @chefreinvented) to ask if they were really needed. “Crucial” was her reply, “it’s the only acidity in the recipe”.

Okay then. I made the “crucial” pickled carrots (though I cut the carrot into tiny matchsticks instead of the ribbons Becky called for) and the rest of the components following her excellent instructions then plated it all together, piling my carrots atop my seared scallop rather than off to the side.

How was it? Really, really  good. In the headnote to the recipe Becky says “There is something about the earthy sweetness of carrots paired with the delicate pine notes of the marjoram that really works.” I have to agree. And that carrot cream, I could eat it with a spoon. Swoon. Following Becky’s instructions for cooking the scallops themselves led to beautiful caramelization on the outside with a lovely medium rare interior. Awesome.

The husband though? Yeah, he really is not a fan of scallops (though he enjoyed  the other elements of the dish). I applaud him for trying them but by the time he was done he had declared the house a seafood-free zone until at least August.

As you know, I’m not in the habit of sharing recipes from cookbooks. Those authors worked hard on their book and I’m not going to give away their hard work for free. So, get yourself a copy of this book, turn to page 89 and fall in love.

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Five-Spice and Cherry Chicken Sausage

Years and years ago. Back when cooking was a hobby, not a career, I asked my husband to get me the pasta extruder attachment for my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. At the time, rather than being an attachment all its own (like it is now), you first had to buy the meat grinder, then you bought a separate plates for the pasta part of the process.

Happily, my husband granted my Christmas wish. Unhappily, after using the extruder just a couple of times, I gave up on it. the pasta came out all clumpy and I was certain the effort involved for the mixer was sure to burn out the motor.

In the years since, even though I still had the meat grinder, I had only used it once or twice to grind raisins for my grandmother’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. I never really thought using the meat grinder as a meat grinder until Charcutepalooza started. Now, I’m using it all the time.

 

This month’s challenge was to not only make my own sausage (specifically a poultry and fruit sausage), but take the process one step farther and stuff that sausage into casings. A little research yielded the fact that I could buy yet another Kitchen Aid attachment to get the job done (and it would only cost $8).

I placed an order for the attachment and for natural casings, then started plotting what the flavor of my sausage would be. During what seemed like an interminable wait two things happened. First, I got the chance to eat a special lunch at Allium on Orcas Island. The main course of squab with a five-spice and cherry demi helped determine what the flavor profile of my sausage would be. The combination was so good, I knew I had to borrow it. Second, a missed meeting during (one of the last) fried chicken nights at Spring Hill resulted in a number of Twitter messages between Kelly Cline (@kcline on Twitter) and myself that went something like this. Me: “How could we miss each other, I must have walked right past you?” Kelly: “Guess this just means we’ll need to get together another time, how about drinks? Me: “How about you come over at help me stuff some sausage?” And then a flurry of suggestive tweets followed (the topic is low-hanging fruit when it comes to dirty jokes).

Stuffing sausage into casings is a two-person project. I must say, I was grateful for guidance from a set of experienced hands. As we worked, we talked tricks for sausage stuffing (along with more jokes, seriously, it’s like we’re eight), plus family, gardening and the fact that we are both big nerds. What we didn’t manage to do is take any photos. All fours hands were needed for the sausage making. So, while I have photos of the sausage making portion of the project (which was done the day before Kelly came over) the stuffing portion of the project will have to remain a mystery.

Here’s the ingredients.

I started by pouring the port over the cherries (so they would plump a little).

And then I toasted up the spices.

Once they cooled a little I put the mix in my spice grinder And then put them through a sieve to  get rid of the big chunks.

Then I strained the cherries and popped the port into the fridge to use later.

I combined all the ingredients (except that port that I just put in the fridge).

And mixed it all up.

Then, it was grinding time.

I threw the port into the bowl of the newly ground meat.

And mixed it for a couple of minutes until it was sticky and tacky (and honestly, kinda gross looking).

I fried up a little test patty to make sure that the seasonings were good (and oh boy, were they). Then the mix went in the fridge until the next day when Kelly came over.

A couple of hours after her arrival, we had these.

So pretty (in a weird kind of meat-loving way).

I thought a little tang would be a nice compliment to the richness of the sausage, so I quick-pickled some sweet onion and fresh cherries kind of using a recipe from David Lebovitz but instead of using the spices he suggested, I used allspice berries and star anise.

At dinner time I whipped up some Israeli couscous and gently sautéed the sausages. Alongside I sautéed some kale tips seasoned simply with salt and pepper.

Finally I plated it all together with a couple of spoonfuls of pickles onions and cherries.

So, so good (and so, so rich). Seriously, I’ve made some tasty food before, but this sausage is awesome. Kinda sweet (but not overly so) with an unctuous, snappy bite. The pickled onions were good, maybe even necessary as a compliment. If you decide to make this sausage, consider the onions too.

 

FIVE-SPICE AND CHERRY CHICKEN SAUSAGE
loosely adapted from Charcuterie by Ruhlman & Polcyn
makes 20ish 6-inch sausage links

I got the idea for the flavoring of this sausage during a meal at Allium on Orcas Island. We were served squab with a five-spice and cherry demi that was freakishly good and I knew I needed to steal immediately.

If you like duck (and have won the lottery so you can afford to buy a lot of it) feel free to substitute it for all or part of the chicken.

Spice mix
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 2-inch cinnamon stick
3 star anise
5 cardamom pods
6 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon Coriander
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
1 Tablespoon black peppercorn

1 Tablespoon orange zest
2 Tablespoon kosher salt
1 Cup dried tart cherries
1/2 Cup port
4 Pound skinless, boneless chicken thigh meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 Pound pork fat back,cut into 1/2-inch cubes
10 feet hog casings soaked in tepid water for 30 minutes, then rinsed

In a small saute pan, heat all of the spice mix ingredients until they are toasted and fragrant. Grind into a fine powder using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Move this to a small bowl and combine with the orange zest and salt.

Soak the dried cherries in the port for 30 minutes. Drain the cherries and reserve the wine. Refrigerate the wine to chill it.

Combine the cubed chicken and pork fat with the spice mix and cherries and stir to combine. Chill until you are ready to grind.

Grind the mixture through the small die into a bowl set in ice.

Add the chilled port to the meat mixture and use the paddle attachment on a stand mixer (or a very sturdy spoon) to mix until it is well combine and has a uniform appearance (about one minute).

Cook a small portion of the sausage and adjust the seasonings if necessary.

Stuff the sausage into the hog casing and twist into 6 inch links. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to cook.

Gently roast, grill or saute the sausage to an internal temperature of 160 degrees.

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Loaded Potato Salad

Though the weather here in Seattle has yet to show it, Memorial Day generally signifies the start of summer. And of course the start of summer means the start of summer parties.

Next time you need a side dish to take to your friends barbecue try this easy potato salad. It’s all the good stuff about a loaded baked potato without the time (and hot oven use) involved in baking the potatoes.

Make this in the morning (or the day before) so the flavors can marry. It’ll be tastier.

Here’s the ingredients.

You’ll also need a dog (who is flirting the bounds of the “out of the kitchen” rule) in case you drop any cheese.

Okay, you don’t really need the dog, but he is nice to have around.

 

Boil the potatoes in salted water until they are cooked through (this will take about 10 minutes).

Once the potatoes are cooked drain them and then return them to the hot pan. Immediately pour the vinegar over hot potatoes and stir.

After a minute or so, pour the potatoes into a large dish so that they are more or less in a single layer (this will help the potatoes cool faster).

Then step away. Step away from the potatoes. Seriously, let them cool completely before proceeding or else you will end up with a cheesy, melty mess.

While the potatoes are cooking and cooling saute the diced bacon until it is cooked through and crisp.

Then set it aside to cool.

Once the potatoes are cool place them along with the remaining ingredients in a bowl (reserve a little of the bacon and chives to sprinkle on the top).

Gently stir to combine. Stash this in the fridge until party time.

When it’s time to serve, move the potato salad to a serving bowl and then sprinkle on the reserved bacon and chives.

A seriously tasty side dish that would be great served with grilled steak (you know, a place where a baked potato might be traditional) or even burgers and hot dogs.

 

LOADED POTATO SALAD
serves 6

I used fingerling potatoes because that is what I happened to have on hand, but any potato would work. However, if you do not use a thick-skinned potato (such as a russet) you will want to peel them before proceeding.

1 1/2 pounds fingerling potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
2 tablespoon white wine or cider vinegar
4 ounces bacon, diced
2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
2 Tablespoons chopped chives
1/2 cup sour cream

Boil the potatoes in salted water until they are cooked through, about 10 minutes. Drain the potatoes and return them to the hot pan. Pour the vinegar over hot potatoes and stir gently. After a minute, pour the potatoes into a large dish so that they in a single layer and allow them to cool to room temperature.

While the potatoes are cooking saute the diced bacon until it is cooked through and crisp. Then set it aside to cool.

Reserving some of the bacon and chives for topping, combine the cooled potatoes with the remaining ingredients in a bowl and stir gently to combine completely. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

When it’s time to serve, move the potato salad to a serving bowl and then sprinkle on the reserved bacon and chives.

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

Chorizo and Potato Tacos

I haven’t cooked in days.

No. Actually, I haven’t cooked in weeks.

Sure, I’ve kept us fed. Sandwiches, scrambled eggs and the like. But I’ve done more reheating then cooking lately.

My drought of cooking started at the beginning of April. A glorious week in Hawaii. And while we were staying in a condo with a full kitchen, the last thing I want to do while on vacation is cook. When we returned home the fridge was barren and I was hesitant to shop because we would be heading to Portland in just a few more days. So, we had a few days of take-out and frozen meals.

Then I got sick. Yes, before we went on vacation to Portland I got sick. I suffered through a respiratory infection the entire time we were away . My hopes of eating my way through all the awesome restaurants in Portland were smashed. I rallied in time for a busy week of catering, cooking for clients, two foraging classes and a full evening of volunteering at the Art of Dining event in Seattle. I was so busy there wasn’t time for cooking. So a few more days of take-out.

Then I got sick. Yes, again. In fact, I’m still sick. For the last nine days it has felt like I’m swallowing glass and I’ve been completely wiped out. Thankfully the husband has been awesome at keeping me fed and watered.

However, with the Charcutepalooza deadline looming I decided I better suck it up and cook.

The challenge this month was to make either Mexican Chorizo (a pork sausage) or Merguez (a lamb sausage). Since Chorizo is one of my very favorite things, that is the direction I decided to take.

I followed the recipe for Mexican Chorizo in Charcuterie. I’ve made sausage before, so I found the recipe easy to follow. The whole process took less than an hour (and I was lollygagging). The only ingredient that I didn’t have was hot paprika so I substituted regular paprika instead. Since I knew this would affect the heat level of the sausage a bit I decided to add just a bit more of the ancho chile powder.

Upon frying up a test patty I declared the Chorizo delicious, portioned it into 1-pound packages (four of which I stashed in the freezer). Then decided to take a break (being sick is exhausting).

Once I had worked up some new energy I decided to tackle dinner. I wanted to make tacos, and I wanted to keep them simple so that I could really show off the Chorizo. I settled on a play on tacos de papa (potato tacos) but instead of cooking the potatoes with onion and spices, I would use the chorizo to season them. Here’s the ingredients.

I started by browning the Chorizo over high heat. Meanwhile, I cooked the sliced poatoes in the microwave for two minutes so that they were just about cooked through.

When the Chorizo was just about cooked through, I added the potatoes to the pan and continued cooking until the potatoes were browned and cooked through completely.

While the Chorizo and potatoes were cooking I heated the tortillas so that they were flexible. I like to just throw them directly onto the gas burner on our stove (using tongs of course), but they can also be done in a pan or in the oven.

Once they were all warmed I laid them out on my counter so that I could fill them all at once. I added a couple of tablespoons of the meat and potato mixture to one side of each tortilla.

Then sprinkled each one with some Cojita Cheese. It’s important not too overfill the tacos or the filling leaks out while they are frying and it’s a big mess. Plus any leftover filling is totally delicious scrambled with eggs the next day, so it won’t go to waste.

Time to fry. I put about 1/4 inch of vegetable oil in a skillet and added the tacos, three at a time to the oil. When the first side was crispy, I carefully flipped them with my trusty tongs so the second side could fry.

As the tacos were finished I moved them to paper towels to suck up any extra oil and then started a second batch of three.

I served the tacos with some quick-pickled radish slices (slice radishes, squeeze lime juice over the top, sprinkle with salt, let sit for 15 minutes), fresh lime and my favorite hot sauce.

Muy delicioso. The potatoes got kind of creamy which was an awesome contrast to the crispness of the tortilla shell. And the home made Chorizo was just spicy enough. I ended up slipping my radish slices into the tacos but the husband didn’t care for that idea.

I’m looking forward to making these again when it isn’t excruciating to swallow. I imagine they’ll be even tastier.

 

CHORIZO AND POTATO TACOS
makes 6-8 tacos (enough for 2 people)

Sometimes Cotija cheese can be hard to find, so if you can’t, Parmesan makes a good substitute (but really, most any cheese will work). If you don’t want to take the time to make your own Chorizo feel free to substitute one from a reputable butcher.

8 oz Chorizo
6 fingerling potatoes, sliced 1/8″ thick
3-4 ounces Cotija cheese
6-8 corn tortillas
vegetable oil for frying

Cook the potatoes for 2 minutes, or until they are just tender, in a microwave, set aside. In a medium-size skillet, brown the chorizo, breaking it into pieces as it cooks. Just before the Chorizo is completely browned, add the potatoes and continue to cook the mixture until the potatoes are cooked through and browned.

Warm the tortillas until they are soft and pliable. Place 1-2 tablespoons of the chorizo-potato mixture on each of the tortillas, sprinkle each one with cheese then fold each in half.

Pour about 1/4 inch of vegetable oil in a large skillet. Heat oil until it is shimmering then carefully add the 3-4 tacos to the hot oil. Do not overcrowd the pan. Fry until tortilla is golden brown then flip each taco and brown on the second side. Move the finished tacos to a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat until all tacos are cooked.

Serve with fresh lime, taco sauce, sliced radishes, sliced cabbage, sour cream…

 

About Me

I'm a personal chef living happily with her picky-eater (but willing to try anything) husband, neurotic black lab and a red heeler puppy.

I watch way too much TV and enjoy hip-hop more than any reasonable grown-up should.

I'm an avid swimmer and sometime triathlete (whenever I'm not nursing an injury).

Find out more about me here.

About This Blog

I started this blog at a time when my personal chef business was quite slow and I needed to keep my mind busy and my skills sharp. But now, business is booming so I've had to put the blog on the back burner. So, no new recipes for now, but please enjoy my archives.

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