Archive for the ‘carrots’ Category

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.

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Dinner for Friends

I live by a few major tenets when it comes to food related gifts.

1. If you give me a gift of something like, say, fruit off of your tree, you can count on getting some of it back in a new improved form (pie, jam, infused liquor, etc.).

2. If I do happen to give you a jar of jam or chutney or what not and you don’t return the jar to me, I probably won’t give you more jarred goods (the cost of jars really starts to add up).

3. If you and a bunch of my other friends get together and buy me an expensive new toy for the kitchen, I’m going to make you a fancy dinner.

That last one, number three, that happened this Christmas. My husband and several friends all chipped in to get me this:

A Sous Vide Supreme Demi (and a vacuum food saver, since it is integral to the process). I decided to make a dinner that would show off what I think are the best features of cooking sous vide (French for under pressure).

Over the span of a couple of weeks of planning my menu developed into five courses. I wanted to do a fish course too, because that is a place where the sous vide method really shines, but my friends include one with a salmon allergy and one that hates all things that used to swim in the sea (I also had to work around dislikes of winter squash, hazelnuts, raisins, olives and one friend with a dislike of vegetables in general). I also did a cocktail pairing to go with each course, ’cause that’s how I roll.

My awesome friend Dawn took a lot of the pictures that follow (and also helped clear the table, serve drinks and load the dishwasher). Not sure I could have done it without her (well, I could have, but it would have been way less fun and there would be like five photos).

Here we go…

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Eggs are especially nice cooked sous vide. The whites are just set and the yolks get really creamy, almost custard like. I also took this opportunity to serve of some of my home cured duck prosciutto (in fact, this is the same salad I developed and posted the recipe for just a couple of weeks ago).

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If you’ve ever opened up a can of park and beans, you’ve seen that sorry excuse for a piece of pork just floating there on top. Well, my pork and beans instead featured a large square of my home-cured bacon which I finished sous vide instead of in the oven (I’ll be posting more about my bacon experiments soon). Cornbread seemed like the perfect accompaniment.

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The beauty of chicken cooked sous vide is that it can safely be cooked to only 140°f (where the normal safe temperature is 165°f) because it is cooked for at least an hour. This makes for exceptionally moist chicken. I served it with a plum chutney that I canned over the summer and a mustard vinaigrette. The carrots were also cooked sous vide with a touch of butter and a bit of brown sugar. Even my vegetable hating guest said that they were tasty.

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Another strength of cooking sous vide is the ability to turn a tough cut of meat into a something that is tender and delicious. Generally I would cook short ribs in a braise. Sure they turn out great but they have to be cooked well-done. With the sous vide, they can be cooked medium-rare (130°f) but since they are cooked for 48 (or even 72) hours they still get super tender. I adapted a recipe from Grant Achatz’s Alinea Cookbook using the root beer cure and the fennel recipes found on page 356 (though I cooked my fennel sous vide). However, since I am not a “foam” person, instead of a vanilla-potato foam I roasted potatoes with vanilla salt and a vanilla bean (though I’ll admit they got a little over cooked). I also completely forget to make the poached prunes. I was four cocktails in after all.

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Lastly I made what I called my “Ode to the Captain” (Captain Crunch, that is). I will have a post with pictures of the process and a recipe later this week. But for now…

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Thanks to all my awesome friends (and my even more awesome husband) for the great gift and a great night!

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P.S. Five courses, with five cocktail equals a lot of dishes to put away.

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Potato and Carrot Casserole (In the Style of Pommes Anna)

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Pommes Anna has just three ingredients (counting salt) but yet it is one of the most delectable potato dishes on the planet. Delightfully crispy on the outside, smooth and creamy on the inside.

I decided to create a take on this classic French dish. Pommes Anna is usually made with peeled russet potatoes. I used red potatoes (and didn’t bother to peel them). I also decided that adding carrots might be a good idea, a little sweetness added to the mix. The last change I made was to add a couple of cloves of garlic to the butter while it was melting, just to add an extra bit of flavor.

Here’s the ingredients. And yes, that is a whole stick of butter and although it probably won’t all get used, this is not a low-fat dish and is definitely best eaten in moderation.

Using a mandoline I sliced the potatoes and carrots very thin (to about the thickness of a quarter). I discarded the first and last slice off of each potatoes because the skin on those outer edges prevents the potatoes from sucking up butter. I cut the carrots on an angle so that the slices were just a little larger. This step could probably be done by hand if you have a very sharp knife, but it would be very tedious (and hard to get all the slices the same thickness).

While I was slicing I melted the butter, along the the garlic in a small pot on the stove top.

Traditionally pommes anna would be made in a round dish, often a cast iron pan, but my cast iron pan is way two big (I would only get maybe three layers in my giant pan) and this square pan was the first baking dish I came across, so I used it. I used my fancy new silicone basting brush and buttered the dish with the melted butter.

Then I started the layering, potatoes, brush with butter, carrots, brush with butter, sprinkle with a wee bit of salt, repeat. The potatoes should overlap just a little bit. You don’t want to salt every layer or the dish can end up too salty, every other layer seems to work best. And if you are using salted butter you should go really easy on the salt additions.

I ran out of carrots before I ran out of potatoes, so the last few layers of mine were just potatoes. One final brush of butter and into the oven (and see, I didn’t use all the butter, it’s not so bad after all).

I baked the dish at 400 degrees for an hour until the top was browned and the potatoes and carrots were soft.

You’ll often see finished pommes anna inverted onto a serving plate, but I decided to forgo that step, instead just cutting it into quarters and carefully moving each slice to a plate.

I served the potatoes as a complement to pork chops with plum sauce and some roasted then sauteed beets (that I sauteed in that leftover butter, cause that’s how I roll).

The carrots definitely added a nice sweetness to this classic dish. I suppose you could say that the carrots add a little but of healthiness to the dish, but really, there is no making this dish healthy, just tasty.

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POTATO AND CARROT CASSEROLE
serves 4

This makes an excellent side dish for pork, beef or chicken.

1 stick (8 Tablespoons) butter
2 clove garlic
8-10 red-skinned potatoes, scrubbed clean
6-8 small carrots (about 6″ long) scrubbed clean

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a small saucepan, melt the butter along with the garlic over medium heat on the stove top. While the better melts, use a mandoline to cut the potatoes and carrots very thin (about the thickness of a quarter). Butter the bottom and sides of a small casserole dish. Starting with potatoes, alternate layers of potatoes and carrots, brushing each layer with the garlic butter and seasoning every other layer with salt. Bake in preheated oven for an hour until the top is browned and the potatoes and carrots are soft.

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Potluck Salads

Over the last few weeks I have been invited to a couple of potlucks. The guests at the first were mostly fellow food bloggers and the guests at the second were fellow personal chefs (with a couple of pastry chefs thrown in). When you’ve been invited to a gathering where everybody in attendance is a food enthusiast you kind of want to make sure that the dish you bring will impress.

For the first gathering I decided to go with a Garlic-Chive Potato Salad that I had made before. Luckily I had all the necessary ingredients in my fridge (with a little help from my herb garden). All that is needed is fingerling (or other waxy) potatoes, a lemon or two, a couple of cloves of garlic, mayonnaise and chives.

There are two keys to this salad. The first to to make sure all of the potatoes are cut to the same size. I like to use fingerling potatoes cut into 1/4 rounds (and I also like to discard the ends of the potatoes) this shape allows for maximum dressing suckage once the potatoes are cooked.

Which brings me to key number two. You must dress the potatoes while they are hot, just out of the boiling water (again, this makes for maximum dressing suckage).

So the basic steps are: make the dressing (mince a clove or two of garlic and pop it into a large bowl, whisk in lemon juice, mayonnaise and a tablespoon or two of water), cut and cook the potatoes, pour hot drained potatoes into the bowl with the dressing, add chopped chives, stir to combine and let cool.

I garnished mine with a few chive blossoms, but they are completely optional (I just thought they looked pretty)

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The second potluck really snuck up on me. All of a sudden it was the day of the potluck and I was left with a mostly empty fridge and no car to go to the store. Time to make something up. I remembered a raw vegetable salad that I had eaten over the holidays and decided to do a riff on that idea. I found beets, carrots, kale, scallions and snap peas in the crisper, perfect.

I chopped up the snap peas, kale and scallions then used the mandolin to cut the peeled carrots and beets.

Now all I needed was a dressing. I thought a citrus vinaigrette would be nice with the raw veggies but then I remembered the orange and meyer lemon marmalade that I made a few months back. I combined that with the juice of a lemon, a minced clove of garlic, some local raw honey, olive oil, a pinch or salt and some fresh mint from my herb garden.

I tossed it all together and was extremely pleased with the results. I received many complements on it from my fellow chefs, so I think the recipe will be a keeper. It was also really nice to have this crunchy salad as part of the food offerings since the pastry chefs brought some crazy good, delicious  (and not low-calorie) treats. Yum.

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G A R L I C – C H I V E   P O T A T O   S A L A D
Serves 6-8

This salad can be prepared one day in advance. If the dressing becomes too thick stir in 1-2 Tablespoons of water to thin.

2 pounds fingerling (or other waxy) potatoes
2 clove garlic, minced
juice of one lemon
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1-2 Tablespoon hot water
1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped

Cut potatoes into 1/4 inch thick rounds. In a large pan cook potatoes in salted water until tender, 8-10 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk together minced garlic, lemon juice, mayonnaise, and hot water. The dressing will be quite thin.
When potatoes are cooked drain them then immediately add the potatoes and the chives to the dressing. Stir well and season with salt and pepper. Let cool to room temperature than store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

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R A W   V E G G I E   S A L A D
Serves 6-8

I used home made marmalade, but any good quality canned marmalade would work. Feel free to experiment with the amounts and types of veggies you use. If this salad sits for too long it will release quite a bit of liquid and the veggies will become very soft so it is best eaten the day that it is prepared.

1/3 cup orange marmalade
1-2 Tablespoons honey
juice of one lemon
1 clove of garlic, minced
20 or so fresh mint leaves, minced
2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste

1 pound snap peas, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 bunch scallions, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 bunch kale, chopped
5 small or 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/8 inch thick slices
3 medium beets, peeled and cut into 1/8 inch thick slices, then cut into halves or quarters if larger than bite size

Whisk together all dressing ingredients. Taste for seasoning and add more honey if desired. Stir in the chopped veggies and serve.

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

Purple Carrot Soup with Basil-Pea Cream

Every once in a while, the people packing the CSA box seem to lose track of where they are on the packing list. A couple of boxes ago, this resulted in getting two packs of red raspberries and no red radishes. This week, it resulted in a double helping of purple carrots. Look how pretty.


I decided to use the carrots to make soup. Often times the quantity of veggies included in the box isn’t enough to make soup, but with the double helping I though it would be enough.

Here’s the ingredients for the soup:


2 bunch purple carrots, peeled and chopped
3/4 Walla Walla sweet onion, chopped
1-2 cups chicken stock (veggie stock would work too)
salt and pepper

I started by heating just a little olive oil in a sauce pan. To this I added my onion and let it sweat for about five minutes (sweating cooks the onion through, but doesn’t color the onion at all). Once the onion was cooked, I added the carrot and then added just enough broth to cover the veggies. I let this simmer until the carrots were tender, about 10 minutes.


I blended the soup in a couple of batches until is was very smooth, then I returned it to the pan. At this point I decided the soup was a little thick, so I added more chicken broth until it was the consistency that I wanted.

While the carrot soup was simmering, I decided to make a little cream sauce to further flavor the soup. With a search through the crisper drawer I came up with some English Peas and thought that the green of the peas would contrast nicely with the purple carrot soup. Over the last couple of weeks, I have been making a Pesto Pea Soup for some of my clients, and thought that a take on this soup would be good for the cream.

Here’s the ingredients for the Basil Pea Cream:


1 pound English Peas, shelled (this resulted in roughly one cup of peas)
1/4 Walla Walla sweet onion, chopped
2 clove garlic, smashed
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup chicken broth (again, veggie stock would work too)
a bunch of fresh basil
salt and pepper

Basically, the pea cream followed the same steps as the carrot soup, with the addition of the cream to the pan for simmering.


I added the basil to the cream when I put it in the blender.

Once the soup and the cream were both done, I ladled the carrot soup into the bowl and then spooned on a bit of the basil cream (giving it a little swirl for good measure).


How was it. Delish! Both the soup and the basil-pea cream were wonderful on their own, but together they were great. My only disappointment was that I expected the carrot soup to be purpleyer (is that a word?) but the flavor more than made up for it.

Of course the carrot soup could easily be made with orange carrots instead of purple. Or you could get really crazy and make orange carrot soup, purple carrot soup and then the green basil pea cream. That would be really striking.

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Ramen and Bok Choy with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Tonight I took a look in the crisper drawer and came up with bok choy. Bok choy led me to think of Asian food. Thoughts of Asian food led to peanut sauce. And so on…

Here’s the ingredients:

5 cloves garlic
3/4 cup peanut butter
4 Tablespoon soy sauce
2 Tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 Tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoon sriracha (or more, or less)
4 Tablespoon hot water (not pictured)

2 blocks of ramen noodles, without the nasty seasoning packets (don’t judge, they’re cheap, they cook in three minutes and they’re tasty)
1 cup frozen peas
4 small carrots, diced
1 bunch baby bok choy (about half of them chopped)

1/4 cup peanuts, chopped (also not pictured, a last minute addition)

I started by putting some water on to boil. In the meantime I got out the food processor and whirred together all of the peanut sauce ingredients (the first 8 listed, garlic through hot water). You could add more or less water, depending on how thick you want the sauce to be.

One the water was boiling I tossed in the ramen noodles, peas and carrots, then added a steam pan above the water with the bok choy. I let the noodles boil and the ramen steam for three minutes. I drained the noodles then tossed the chopped bok choy, noodles, carrots and peas together with about 3/4 of the peanut sauce. I put this into my serving dish, added the whole bok choy and then put the remaining sauce and the chopped peanuts on top.

This was super easy (it took less than a half hour to cook) and really tasty. The husband even said “this is really tasty” without even being prompted for comments. I would make this again in a heartbeat. I think it would be good with some chicken or shrimp in it too, but sometimes it’s good to go vegetarian.

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Brisket with Thyme and Garlic Smashed Potatoes

When we last left, I had made really good brisket as a test for an event at my church.

Before I started my recipe testing, I had done some reading about brisket cooking methods. One method that seemed to be widely shared was to cook the brisket one day then cool it and stick it in the fridge for a night or two. Then, while it was cold, it can be more easily de-fatted, then sliced and put back in the gravy to be reheated. The theory here is A) roast is better when it sits for a day or two B) it’s easier to slice when it is cold and C) in theory you can’t over cook it while reheating because the beef is already cooked to well-done.

So, after eating some of the brisket on Monday, tonight I reheated it using the method above.

Here’s the roast straight out of the fridge.

Here it is with the fat removed

I took the beef out of the pan, sliced it and then put it back in the pan, spooning most of the onion mixture on top of the beef. It didn’t seem like there was quite enough gravy in the pan, so I mixed together 1/3 cup each of beef stock and red wine and then added this to the pan. I put the lid on the dutch oven and then popped it into a 350 degree oven for an hour.

While this was cooking I started on my side dishes.

Here’s the ingredients for the Thyme and Garlic Smashed Potatoes

1 pound new potatoes (these are ruby crescent potatoes which are a beautiful shade of pink when they are done)
1-2 Tbls olive oil
1 Tbls fresh thyme, chopped
4 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper

I placed my potatoes in a large sauce pan, covered them with water and brought the pan to a boil. I let the potatoes boil until they were fork tender then drained them. I put the pan back on the stove over medium heat, added the olive oil, then the garlic, thyme and salt and let this cook for about 30 seconds. Then I tossed the potatoes back into the pan and gave them a good smash with my flat-bottom whisk (I don’t own a potato masher, multi-taskers only in my kitchen). I added some pepper, gave it a good stir and it was ready to go.

The buerre blanc sauce was so good with the snap peas on Monday that I decided to make it again.

Here the ingredients.

10 cute carrots
1 Tbls white balsamic vinegar
2 Tbls butter
1 Tbls lemon zest
a couple of pinches of kosher salt

I started by steaming my carrots until they were almost cooked. While they were cooking I started the buerre blanc.

Now, people seem to think that buerre blanc is had to make, but really, it’s easy, it just needs a little attention. I started my buerre blanc with vinegar (because I want the tang) but any liquid (even water) can be used. And no matter how much sauce you want to make (whether it is two tablespoons of butter or two pounds), you only need to start with about a teaspoon of liquid (I’m using more because of the aforementioned tang).

I started by bringing the vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan.

Then I whisked in my butter one tablespoon at a time (that’s important) waiting until each addition melts before adding another.

Once all my butter melted I added my lemon zest and salt to taste. Then I poured this over my steamed carrots.

So now, everything is done and/or warmed. So I plated it up.


So now, which dish will reign supreme?

While the flavor of the brisket improved (and it was easier to slice while cold), both the husband and I thought it was a bit drier rewarmed. The husband said that he actually liked the texture better, but I didn’t think that the improved flavor was worth the dryness (because it was really good the first day).

The potatoes were really good, but both the husband and I thought that the flavor of the brisket completely overwhelmed the potatoes. The corn pudding was a better match in both flavor and texture.

The carrots and the snap peas both had the same sauce. The husband and I were split on which was better, he liked the carrots while I liked the snap peas. Since I’m the chef, my vote wins.

So the meals for the Seder meal will be:
Mediterranean Brisket
Savory Corn Bread Pudding
Snap Peas with White Balsamic Vinegar and Lemon Buerre Blanc

I still need to figure out dessert. But that is a project for future Jennifer.

Meanwhile I’ve got a lemon with no zest, which means I need to use that lemon right away. Cocktail time.

I was thinking lemon drop (because I’ve got a lemon, duh). But I wanted to give it a little twist, so here is what I came up with.

Lemon-Gin Buzz


juice of one lemon
4 teaspoons sugar (plus additional for rim)
4 ounces gin

I ran the lemon around the rim of the glass and then dipped it in a shallow plate of sugar. Then I put it all the drink ingredients in the shaker with a couple of cubes and gave it a good shake. This makes enough for two drinks (or one really big one!).

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

Lemony Lentil Soup

I was kind of tired tonight, and my sprained ankle is still bothering me, so I was looking for a lazy meal. Whenever I’m feeling lazy I turn to soup.

Soup is also a great way to empty out the crisper.

Here is what I found in the crisper (and the pantry).

1/2 leek, chopped
8 tiny yellow and orange carrots, peeled and chopped
4 really tiny russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes
4 cup chicken broth (veggie broth could be used)
2 cup water
1 cup french green lentils, rinsed
1 bunch of chard, leaves and stems chopped
2 zucchini, chopped
2 tablespoon sumac
1 lemon zested and juiced
2 tablespoon parsley, minced
1/2 cup sour cream

In a large pot I combined my leek, carrots, potatoes, garlic, tomatoes, broth, water, lentils and the chard stems. As this simmered I added the juice of half a lemon, the sumac and some salt and pepper. I let this simmer for about 40 minutes then added the zucchini and chard leaves. I let this simmer about 10 minutes longer.

While the soup was cooking, I combined the lemon zest and minced parsley with a bit of salt and pepper. I combined half of this mixture with the sour cream and then set them both aside.

I tested the soup for seasoning and decided to add the juice from the other half of the lemon and a bit more salt. To serve, I ladled my soup into a bowl and topped it with a dollop of the sour cream mixture and a sprinkle of the lemon zest-parsley mixture and sumac. I served the soup with a slice of toasty sourdough bread that I had sprinkled with olive oil, sea salt and black pepper.

While his was very tasty I think I may have liked it better without the potatoes, however the husband strongly disagreed. The soup was good on it’s own (very fresh tasting with the lemon), but the addition of the sour cream made it wonderful. The toasty bread was a very yummy accompaniment (way better than crackers).

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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