Friday, April 14, 2017

Baked Camembert

Sharing a super quick appetizer recipe with you.  A few reasons why this is the most perfect crowd pleaser: 

- CHEESE!  Ooey, gooey, melty cheese! 
- Bread.  Hello gluten! 
- Garlic, because face it, if they don't love your garlic breath, they can go pound sand.
- Rosemary, so we can be sure to get our daily dose of greens :)   

Seriously though, don't you want to jump into your screen and dig into this?? 

Baked Camembert
1 wheel Camembert cheese
1 baguette
1 bunch rosemary
4 cloves garlic, sliced into thin chips (madolin works best to get paper thin slices)
2 tablespoon good olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Chop up a baguette and toast or grill until charred. If you are feeling really randy, you can use the rosemary to skewer the chunks of bread.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Remove cheese from wrapper and slice the rind off the top.  Place the wheel of cheese back in the wooden container (I obviously did not do this) and cook on a sheet plan in the oven for about 10 minutes.

Preheat olive oil over medium and add garlic chips.  Cook until brown and crispy.  Don't let the garlic burn!  Chop up some rosemary (about a teaspoon).

Remove cheese from oven and drizzle with garlic oil, garlic chips, chopped rosemary, and salt & pepper.  Dip the bread into cheese and experience pure nirvana!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Ham Wrapped Braised Endive + Bechamel & Gruyere

OK.  I know this looks like a big pile of cheese.  Or even a casserole.  Funny story... my husband LOATHES casseroles.  Being from the Ohio, I have had my fair share of creamy, cheesy, crunchy, one (9x11, of course) pan dishes.  He always jokes and says people from the Midwest always cook shit with cream of mushroom soup and french fried onions on top.  He is not completely wrong.  

Well, THIS IS NOT A CASSEROLE!  It's not even remotely close to one.  I actually would not even have come up with this recipe without the help of my other half.  We like to go to Locale Market, AKA heaven on earth, for the good meats.  They have this Tuscan ham that will make you want to curse regular deli meats to hell.  This. Ham. Is. EXCEPTIONAL! 

When he was purchasing the ham, the french butcher/cheese monger, said to him (I'm imagining this exchange in his beautiful French accent): 

"You know what ai do wiv zis 'am? Ai tak zé 'am, wrap eet around braized endive, top wiv bechamel et gruyaire and broil eet. Zo delicious!"  

He got home and told me this= Mind. Blown.  Of course I was going to take our French friend's recommendation and turn that ham into a delightful meal.  

This is super simple and rustically delicious.  You are taking seemingly ordinary ingredients and turning them into pure decadence!      

Ham Wrapped Braised Endive + Bechamel & Gruyere
6 whole endives
1/2 pound good ham (you could also use prosciutto or serrano)
1/2 cup white wine
4 bay leaves
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1 tablespoon salt
6 cups water
bechamel (as much as you like)
1 cup grated gruyere cheese

In a deep skillet or small pot, add wine, bay leaves, fennel seeds, peppercorns, salt and water.  Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.  Add endives and cook in water for about 20 minutes, or until tender enough for a knife to be inserted and pulled out with no resistance.

Wrap endives with one slice of ham and place in a sprayed glass dish.  Top with bechamel and gruyere.  Broil under high for for about 5 minutes, and remove when cheese is brown and bubbly.

Bechamel Sauce
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
a touch of fresh grated nutmeg (or a pinch of dry)

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add flour and whisk in until smooth.  Continue to cook for another two minutes to cook out the raw flavor of the flour.  Gradually add 1 cup of milk while whisking to eliminate any lumps.  Increase the heat just a touch to bring sauce to a low boil.  Gradually add the rest of the milk while whisking the entire time.

Once the sauce has come up to a boil, this will thicken the sauce.  Now is the time to add the salt, pepper, dry mustard, garlic powder, and nutmeg.  Continue whisking and reduce the heat to low until sauce has thickened.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Blistered Shishito Peppers + Sesame + Sriracha + Brown Sugar

Hey you guys!  Long time no speak.  Once again, I am here to apologize for my long hiatus. There really is only one reason for it.  I am sick of screens!  I work remotely and am mostly on my computer all day.  By the time quittin' time rolls around, I can barely look at a computer screen for another minute! 

I even did something crazy.  Like REALLY CRAZY.  I deactivated my personal Facebook profile and I want to shout form the mountain tops how liberating it feels!  For a long time, I kept thinking about getting off the Book, but couldn't bring myself to pull the plug.  I had about 700 "friends", but in reality, I only speak to about 20 of them in "real life".  

After being on Facebook since it's inception, I wonder how many hours I spent scrolling, and scrolling, and SCROLLING though my feed absorbing mind numbing information.  So, one day I did it.  I clicked the deactivate button.  Now don't get me wrong, I still have  Instagram and Snapchat, but I prefer those social media platforms infinitely more than Facebook.  Don't worry, my Owl with the Goblet Facebook page is still alive and well and I hope to be more active on that, now that I am cooking up a storm again. 

   Now on to these cutie-pa-tooty shishito peppers.  ERMAHGERD they are sooooo good!  I got the idea from our local ramen place, Buya Ramen.  Yes, Florida has ramen restaurants.  I was just as surprised as you, since May through October, I pretty much sweat even thinking about downing a bowl of soup or hot beverage in Florida.  But Buya is so good, I might just make an exception for them during the summer.  In addition to bomb-ass-ramen, their blistered shishitos with brown sugar are the perfect appetizer. 

After I had their peppers, I was determined to make them at home.  I even put my husband on "shishito pepper watch" at every grocery store he frequented, but sadly, he was not successful in this quest.  Yesterday, I had a leisurely trip to Locale Market, AKA heaven on earth, and they had a whole basket of shishito peppers.  I basically took the entire basket and poured it into a produce bag.  Two pounds of peppers later, I am finally sharing this recipe with you. 

Moral of the story; if you see shishito peppers at your market, buy them all and cook them like this! 
PS- It feels good to be back :)

Blistered Shishito Peppers + Sesame + Sriracha + Brown Sugar
1 pound shishito peppers
1 tablespoon oil (best to use an unflavored one like canola or avocado)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
Sriracha to taste
Salt to taste

 In a bowl, toss peppers with oil and salt.  Heat up a heavy skillet (cast iron works best) over high heat.  You want it to be barely smoking.  While the pan is heating up, turn your broiler on high.

Once broiler is hot and pan is smoking, add peppers and place in oven under the broiler.  Leave them there for about 5 minutes, or until skin is blistered and peppers have softened.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with brown sugar, drizzle sesame oil, then salt & sriracha to taste.  You can eat the entire pepper.  Except the stem.  Don't eat the stem.

Now... "ALLEZ CUISINE"- in my best Iron Chef voice

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Arugula & Roasted Beet Salad + Fried Goat Cheese


Today has been the best day.  Not for any reason in particular, rather because I am just enjoying the small things in life.  Leisurely bicycle ride.  Farmers market.  Strong iced coffee.  Cooler weather (finally). Adorable doggies.  Good music.  All too often, I find myself stressing about life.  It's days like these that make me stop, count my blessings, and appreciate the meaningful simplicities that can bring the unexpected contentedness.

Oh and how can I forget???  The Cleveland Indians are headed to the WORLD SERIES!  I don't know what is in the water there, but Cleveland sports are a force to be reckoned with.  Except the Browns. I'm pretty sure that a high school football team would give them a run for their money this year.  I was doubtful I would ever see a title in my lifetime... and now there is the possibility I might see two in one year. Go Tribe!

Our be used much more now that summer has passed!
My new ride.  Craigslist find.  Watch out St. Pete :) And yes, that is a burger bell.
Even looking at these pictures of this salad are making me so happy.  That color!  I had so much fun making this salad.  Beets have really grown on me through the years and I find myself making them much more frequently.  And fried goat cheese... what is not to love! 

This rainbow beauty served me well for lunch all week.  I just kept the breaded goat cheese discs in the freezer and fried them up each time I was ready for a salad.  This would also be a terrific salad to bring on a large platter to serve many at a party.  I promise you will turn those beet skeptics out there into beet lovers!

Arugula & Beet Salad + Fried Goat Cheese
10-12 ounces goat cheese
1/3 cup flour
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup breadcrumbs or panko, lightly seasoned with s&p
2 red beets
2 golden yellow beets
olive oil  + salt & pepper
3-4 radishes, thinly sliced or shaved on a mandoline
1/4 cup toasted walnuts

Roasted Beets
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place the red beets and yellow beets each on their own piece of foil.  Drizzle each with olive oil and salt & pepper.  Close foil pouch tight and roast in oven for 50 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool. Once cooled, use hands to peel the skins right off.  Cut off root and tip, cut in half and then slice beets to bite sized pieces for salad.  Place in separate bowls and keep in fridge until ready to use.  

Fried Goat Cheese
Scoop out large spoonfuls of goat cheese and pat them out into small, thin discs.  It will crumble, but use the heat from your hands to warm it and compress it into the patties.  Place on cookie sheet and freeze for 15 minutes.  

In three bowls,  add the flour, beaten egg, and bread crumbs.  Remove goat cheese discs from freezer and bread them.  First flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs; shaking off excess as you go through each step.  Once all discs are breaded, place on wax paper lined pan and return to freezer until hardened.  

When ready to eat salad, add oil (any type, but I have been digging Trader Joe's avocado oil) to a saute pan until bottom is completely covered.  Heat to medium high heat.  Once oil is hot, add a few discs at a time in, flipping and removing once each side is golden brown.  Transfer to a sheet pan or plate lined with paper towels to absorb some of the oil.  These can be kept at room temperature for up to an hour, until ready to serve.  

Pile some arugula on a plate and over the top, scatter the beets, radishes, and walnuts.  Top with as much fried goat cheese as your cheesy self desires!  Drizzle with a few spoonfuls of the vinaigrette and voilà... your rainbow salad is ready!

Mustard + Dill Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil

Add all ingredients to a mason jar and shake until combined.  You can also mix all ingredients (except oil) in a bowl or measuring cup and then slowly whisk in the oil.  Keep in fridge until ready to serve.  

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Braised Short Rib and Truffle Pappardelle

Enchante my favorite followers!  It is Saturday night and the hubs is glued to the tube, flipping back and forth between about a million college football and MLB payoff games.  I'm cuddled up on the couch with a crisp glass of sauvignon blanc and two sleepy dogs by my side.  Perfect kind of night if you ask me :)

I just finished writing this recipe and am hoping that after you see the long paragraphs written below, you don't immediately write this off as too labor intensive. This is a show-stopper meal through and through.

Last weekend, we were at our local farmers market and one of my favorite vendors, Casa Truffle, had some fresh truffles on hand.  He lifted the the lid of that container and I was destined for a date with these beautifully aromatic gems.  It's funny how one ingredient can get those wheels turning in your head.  As soon as I got my grubby little paws on those fresh truffles, I remembered the gorgeous short ribs that I saw at our local Fresh Market and I knew it was on.

At the market, I also found these peppery little radish sprouts that I have been using on everything all week.  I ended up buying one ounce of fresh truffles and in addition to showering this dish with them, I have also been topping my scrambled eggs with them each morning.  I even managed to make a pound of truffle butter with the remainder.  Let's just say I have been in truffle heaven all week.

So, back to this recipe.  This is definitely a weekend recipe.  You can even break it up into two days, braising the short ribs on day one and finishing the sauce on day two.  Before you make this, please read the recipe from start to finish so you can better understand what goes into all of the steps.  Here are a few tips:
  • Reduce the sh#$ out of the sauce.  First when you pour in the wine.  Then when you remove the short ribs from the oven, reduce with the vegetables to extract more flavor.  Then again after you strain.  This is going to concentrate and deepen the flavor. 
  •  Remember that the short ribs will significantly shrink when cooked.  I am usually cooking for two, and this recipe with 4 pounds of short ribs made at least 6-8 servings. We were eating leftovers all week and it did not get old... not even in the slightest.  
  • I used 1 pound of fresh pappardelle that I found from Mazzaro's, but you can easily substitute the starch in this with polenta, potatoes, or even a thin slice of toasted bread.  
 For me, this is was a tough recipe to document because it truly embodies what "cooking" really is.  This is a dish that I would normally "wing-it", but for you, I have documented the entire process.  And even though it seems like a long process, I assure you the end result is worth its weight in gold.  This is restaurant quality food in the comfort of your own home.

Please leave me comments if you have any questions at all.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend and cheers to good food!

Braised Short Rib and Truffle Pappardelle
4 pounds short ribs, seasoned with salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 carrots
3 ribs celery
2 onions
6-8 mushrooms
8 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste 
1 bottle red wine (cabernet sauvignon)
4 cups beef broth
3 bay leaves
2 sprigs rosemary
1 bunch flat leaf parsley (reserve some for pasta and garnish)
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup half & half

For assembly
pasta, polenta, mashed potatoes or cauliflower (or any other vehicle to serve with the braised short ribs)
crème fraîche
fresh shaved truffles and/or truffle oil
radish sprouts, arugula, spinach (any green of choice will do!)

Place a large dutch oven with olive oil on the stovetop and preheat to medium-high.  Season short ribs liberally with salt & pepper. Once pan is HOT, add short ribs to the pan.  Do not add more than 4 or 5 short ribs at a time to make sure they have enough room to brown.  Sear on both sides for 2-4 minutes, until short ribs develop a brown crust. Place the short ribs on a plate while you brown the rest. 

In same pot, add carrots, celery, onions, mushrooms, and garlic.  Saute over medium heat until vegetables are caramelized and soft; about 10 minutes.  Add tomato paste and mix until vegetables are coated.  Turn heat up to high and add entire bottle of wine.  Cook over high heat until wine has reduced by almost 1/2; about 10 minutes.  Add beef broth, bay leaves, rosemary, and parsley.  Add browned short ribs and any juices on plate back to the pot.  Cover with lid and place in the oven.  Cook at 350 degrees for 2 1/2 hours.  

Remove pot from oven,  Short ribs should be soft and falling apart. Remove short ribs from pot and place them on a large plate to cool. 

While short ribs are cooling, place pot back on the stovetop over high heat and bring liquid to a boil.  Cook for 15-20 minutes until sauce has reduced by almost half.  Strain vegetables and solids from from the broth and place the liquid back on the stove to continue reducing for another 10-15 minutes.  You are aiming to end up with 3-4 cups of liquid.  

In a separate container, whisk together flour and half & half.  slowly whisk mixture into the reduced stock.  Bring mixture up to a boil and then reduce to simmer.  Sauce should be slightly thick and coat the back of a spoon. Be sure to taste the sauce and adjust with salt & pepper as needed.  

While you are reducing the stock, remove bones from short ribs and shred the meat, picking out any large fatty/gristle parts.  Shred the meat into bite sized pieces and arrange in a single layer onto a cookie sheet.  Just prior to serving, place meat under broiler for 3-5 minutes to slightly brown and caramelize the meat. 

Prepare pasta in boiling water (boil water when stock is reducing).  I like to toss my pasta with a little butter, fresh chopped parsley, and grated parmesan prior to serving.  

Time to serve: 
  • On each plate, pile a serving of noodles
  • In the middle of the noodles, place a single serving of shredded short rib meat
  • Top meat with a few spoonfuls of reduced sauce
  • Drizzle entire plate with crème fraîche and a little truffle oil
  • Finish with fresh shaved truffles and a small pinch of radish sprouts


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