Sunday, February 28, 2010

Phở Bò Tái

Eating Phở is fun - it is such an experience! I love getting that steaming bowl of noodles and beef slices swimming in a fragrant, savory broth, finding that perfect balance of toppings to make the flavors really pop. Add in fixins lime, bean sprouts, scallions, basil, hoisin sauce, and fresh jalapenos (for my husband...) and a delicious feast is born. Eating homemade pho is an even better experience, because after just a few hours of work, you get to sit down and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

1 ginger root
1 onion, peeled
smidgen fennel seeds
dash coriander seeds
1 cardamom pod
2 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
3 star anise pods
14 cups water
2 lbs beef shank
1 lb oxtail
1 teaspoon salt
2 anchovy fillets
2 shitake mushrooms
1 lb flank steak, thinly sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 lb rice vermicelli noodles

Thai basil
limes, quartered
bean sprouts
hoisin sauce

Broil ginger and onion until charred. Toast fennel, coriander, cardamom, and clove for 2 minutes, or until they start to become fragrant. Make a bouquet garni with cheese cloth - place the toasted spices, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, and star anise pods in the cheese cloth and wrap. Tie with kitchen twine. Bring water, beef shank, and oxtail to a boil, skimming off foam as necessary. Add charred ginger, onion, bouquet garni, teaspoon salt, shitake mushrooms, and anchovy fillets. Simmer for two hours. Strain the stock, and place the liquid over low heat. Add 1 teaspoon each of sugar, salt, and pepper. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Cook noodles for 5-7 minutes in boiling water. In individual bowls, add some cooked noodles, sliced beef, and onion slices, and pour stock. Beef will cook in the hot broth. Garnish with toppings as desired.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hibiscus Shortbreads

An afternoon tea break calls for an afternoon snack. These shortbread cookies, with their slight crunch and subtle flavor, are a great accompaniment to a perfectly brewed cup of tea.

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup powdered sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup rice flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons dried ground hibiscus leaves

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter and sugars. Mix in flours, salt, vanilla extract, and hibiscus. Roll dough into a log and slice. Bake 8-10 minutes.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Baba Ghanoush

Eggplant is such a beautiful vegetable! Roast or grill these purple beauties and then puree with sesame paste and seasonings to create a delicious appetizer for your next shindig. Serve with some pita bread, naan, or whatever you prefer! I like to dip seasoned pita triangles in my baba ghanoush.

2 medium eggplants
3 garlic cloves, minced
sea salt and pepper
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup tahini
1 tablespoon olive oil
juice of a lemon
½ teaspoon sea salt
dash cumin
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Slice eggplants in half lengthwise. Place on lightly greased baking sheet and drizzle 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil, sea salt and pepper, and minced garlic over the halves. Roast for about 40 minutes. When done, scrape out the meat of the eggplant and place in food processor. Add tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt, cumin, and pulse. Adjust seasonings to taste. Transfer to a serving dish and stir in chopped parsley. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Brown Butter Cookies

Brown butter is one of life's amazing discoveries. I just love the way the butter looks - so wonderfully deep and earthy - and the way it tastes - so subtly nutty. These crispy cookies are just one of many ways to enjoy the complex flavors of brown butter.

1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Demerara sugar for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown butter in sauté pan over medium heat until solids become a chocolate brown color. Cool the butter by placing it in a shallow bowl and chilling in the freezer for about 15 minutes, until just congealed. When cool, use an electric mixer to beat butter with the white and brown sugar, lemon zest, vanilla, and egg. Mix in flour, salt, baking soda, and nutmeg. Drop batter in uniform-size mounds on baking sheet. Sprinkle with Demerara sugar. Bake for 13-15 minutes.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Orecchiette Bolognese

This rich and meaty sauce is cooked slowly for a few hours and then tossed with pasta. I love using orecchiette pasta - that pasta shaped like little ears. I love the way they hold the sauce, making each bite a taste explosion. Serve this with some crusty garlic bread and a crisp green salad, and you have a delicious dinner.

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 slices of bacon, chopped
3 stalks celery, minced
1 onion, minced
2 carrots, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb beef
1 lb veal
12 ounces tomato paste
2/3 bottle of red wine (I like using a cabernet sauvignon)
1/3 cup beef stock
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon cinnamon - or you can toss in a few cinnamon sticks
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon clove
1/4 teaspoon toasted and ground coriander and fennel seed
2 tablespoons parsley
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 lb orecchiette

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until fat is rendered, about 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium heat and add the garlic, onion, carrots, and celery. Sauté until softened, about 20 minutes. Add salt, pepper, bay leaves, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, oregano, coriander and fennel, and thyme. Increase heat to medium-high, and add the beef and veal.  Cook until no longer pink. Stir in the tomato paste. Add the wine and reduce. Pour in the beef stock. Simmer for two to three hours. Keep adding stock if it seems dry. When cooked, remove bay leaves (and cinnamon sticks if using them) and add unsalted butter, heavy cream, and parsley. Take off the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese. Mix with the orecchiette and enjoy!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mocha Meringue Cookies

The meringue cookie, with its crispy outside and light as air interior, is like a miniature and edible version of a cloud. You can experience multiple textures in your mouth by taking just one bite! These particular clouds pack a punch with chocolate and espresso.

5 egg whites
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup superfine sugar (if you don't have superfine sugar on hand, just run regular white sugar through the food processor for 30 seconds)
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
pinch of salt
1 shot espresso
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a glass or metal mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the remaining ingredients and continue beating until the batter holds stiff peaks. Scoop batter onto baking sheets (or use a pastry bag or Ziplock bag for fancy cookies), and bake for about 2 hours or until the cookies are stiff. Turn off the oven and open the door to continue to allow the meringues to dry out for about an hour.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Roasted Tomato Pesto with Chicken

There's nothing like the taste of fresh basil, parsley, and tomatoes when looking to bring a little taste of summer into those dreary winter nights. What better way to bring these together than with a nice, creamy pesto. Add a little "roast" to your tomato and you've got one savory summer sauce.

Roasted Tomatoes:
12 Roma tomatoes halved lengthwise
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 lb chicken breast
fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup parsley leaves
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

1 lb pasta

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Place the tomato halves cut side up in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1/4 cup olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with the garlic, salt and pepper. Roast in oven for about two hours, or until they begin to caramelize. Let the tomatoes cool to room temperature.

While tomatoes cool, heat oven to 400 degrees. Sprinkle chicken breasts with lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Heat butter in casserole over medium high heat until foaming, and smother the chicken in the butter. Bake in oven until cooked through (about 6-10 minutes). When cooked, cut into 1-inch strips.

Cook pasta according to package directions. In a food processor, pulse basil, parsley, and pine nuts. Slowly pour in the olive oil. Add the Parmesan cheese and lemon juice. Add the roasted tomatoes to the pesto mixture and pulse.

Combine the roasted tomato pesto and chicken with the cooked pasta.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sunday Morning

There is nothing better than waking up to a luxurious breakfast, the kind of breakfast that you need time for - time for making, time for eating, and time for slowly but happily digesting. This Sunday Morning breakfast has a layer of spiced and sauteed potatoes, topped with melted cheese, topped with strips of bacon, and topped again with fried eggs.  Just cutting into and serving this meal is a delight.

4 slices of bacon
1 1/2 lbs potatoes, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 shallot, diced
2 scallions, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup fresh parsley
½ teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon sage
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 cups of cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fry up the bacon and then set aside. Heat olive oil over medium high heat and sauté the potatoes with the onions, shallot, scallions, and garlic. Mix in parsley, thyme, oregano, sage, and bay leaves, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes become crispy. Place potatoes in an oven-proof pan and sprinkle cheese over the potatoes. Bake the potatoes until cheese is nice and melted, about ten minutes. Meanwhile, fry the eggs and season with pepper, salt, and paprika. Place strips of bacon side by side on top of the potatoes, and then set the fried eggs on top of the bacon. Then, of course, dig in!

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