Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sarah's Borscht

This borscht recipe was given to me by my friend Sarah. It is such a great recipe that even my non soup loving husband liked it! This soup is not only delicious, but brings up happy memories for my friend. Her husband proposed to her the night he made this as part of a romantic, multi-course dinner. So make this, eat this, enjoy it, and create your own happy memories over this wonderful soup!

2 quarts beef stock or bouillon
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 cup diced raw potatoes
1/2 cup diced raw carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
6 medium beets
10 peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 cup canned tomatoes (or finely diced if you're anti-can with your tomatoes)
1 cup very dry white wine
3 tablespoons Madeira
sour cream

In a soup pot or kettle, heat 2 quarts of good beef stock or canned beef bouillon. Melt butter in heavy skillet. Have ready 2 cups shredded cabbage, 1 cup diced raw potatoes, 1/2 cup diced carrots, 1/2 cup chopped celery, 1 small onion peeled and chopped, 1 chopped green pepper, 1 leek chopped, 1 minced garlic clove (or 2 if you like garlic as I do), and 6 medium-sized beets, peeled and shredded through a grater (reserve 1 heaping tablespoon of the grated mixed with 3 tablespoons water for later). Put vegetables in the skillet, cover, turn the flame low, and saute for about 5 minutes, shaking the pan constantly. Then add the sauteed vegetables to the boiling beef stock, together with 1 cup canned tomatoes, 1 cup very dry white wine, 10 whole peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, a generous pinch each of marjoram and thyme, and salt to taste. Lower the flame and continue to cook until all the vegetables are tender - about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Shortly before serving, add the grated beet in water, stirring it in for coloring, and the 3 tablespoons of Madeira. To each bowl of borscht, add a generous tablespoon of sour cream.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Asparagus with Poached Eggs

Spring has finally sprung! Spring is that wonderful time of year when all those yummy vegetables that have been hibernating finally make their appearances again, and what a long wait it has been this year. Celebrate the season with this simple dish of asparagus and poached eggs.

1 lb asparagus
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt
2 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano cheese
poached eggs
(Note: When we poach eggs, we like to use Julia Child's instructions in Mastering the Art of French Cooking)

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Drizzle olive oil, sea salt, and pepper over the stalks and roast for 10-15 minutes, depending on the diameter of the stalks. When done, remove from oven and sprinkle with grated cheese. Place poached egg on top of each serving.

Egg-in-a-Basket with Lemon-Garlic Aioli

The classic Egg-in-a-Basket - a buttered and toasted piece of bread with a fried egg in the middle - is one of my tried and true, quick and delicious breakfasts. When poked, the egg oozes out its yellow, gooey goodness all over the bread, making for a fun little feast. Lemon garlic aioli gives some zest to this classic breakfast dish.

Lemon-Garlic Aioli:
3/8 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced parsley
pinch freshly ground black pepper

Egg in a Basket:
sliced bread
margarine or butter
kosher salt and pepper

Mix aioli ingredients together in a small bowl.  Spread margarine on both sides of a slice of bread. Cut out circular hole in the middle of the bread just bigger than than size of an egg yolk. In greased frying pan, lightly brown one side of the buttered bread. Toss in the cut out circle of bread as well. Flip bread over, break an egg into the hole, and sprinkle salt and pepper on top. Cook for about 1 minute, or until bottom is brown, then flip over and allow the other side to cook for about 15-20 seconds. It can help to gently push down the bread into the pan with the back of your spatula. Take out and flip upside down onto plate. Serve with lemon garlic aioli.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lemon Mint Granita with Mascarpone Whipped Cream

A frozen lemon concoction is a delicious treat when temperatures start to rise. Beat the heat with icy, flavored crystals topped with a bit of whipped cream and leaves of mint.

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
3 mint sprigs, plus more for garnish

For the topping:
3/4 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
2 teaspoons honey

To start, make a simple syrup. In small saucepan, boil 1/2 cup sugar with 3 cups water until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and steep mint sprigs for 10 minutes. Place a metal bowl or pan and a metal spoon in the freezer. Let the syrup cool then mix it with the lemon juice and lemon zest. Pour the liquid into the cold container and freeze. Stir it every 30 minutes or so. It will take about 3 hours to freeze. To make the topping, stir together the mascarpone cheese and the honey until smooth in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add cream and powdered sugar. Whip until the cream has soft peaks, about 2 minutes. Top granita with whipped cream and mint leaves.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Fried Risotto Balls with Quick Marinara Sauce

Have left over risotto? Breathe new life into your leftover rice by frying up some risotto balls!

Fried Risotto Balls:
mozzarella cheese
egg, beaten
bread crumbs
oil, for deep frying
parmesan cheese

Quick Marinara Sauce:
1/8 cup olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
14 ounce can crushed tomatoes
handful of chopped basil
bay leaf

for fried risotto balls:
Heat oil to a temperature of 225 degrees. Have three shallow bowls ready and use one for flour, one for the egg, and one for bread crumbs. Using the mozzarella as the center, form the risotto into a ball around the mozzarella. Roll the ball into the flour, then into the egg, then into the bread crumbs. Repeat as necessary until risotto is used up. Drop risotto balls into oil and fry until golden-brown. Remove from oil and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese. Serve with marinara sauce.

for marinara sauce:
Heat olive oil in saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onion and garlic until soft. Add tomatoes, basil, bay leaf, salt and pepper and simmer for 10 minutes.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Osso Bucco and Saffron Risotto

When nights are cool and dark, a hot and hearty dinner warms the soul. Succulent braised veal that practically falls off the bone, served with heaping mounds of cheesy saffron risotto, is the kind of meal that makes you feel all toasty inside.

Osso Bucco:
1 lb veal shanks
1/2 cup flour
salt and pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 ounces pancetta, cubed
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon whole peppercorns, toasted
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves, toasted
2 springs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh parsley
1 cup white wine
1/4 cup beef stock
2/3 cup crushed tomatoes

2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/4 cup parsley
1 garlic clove, minced

Saffron Parmesan Risotto:
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
2 tablespoons butter
3 shallots, minced
pinch saffron threads
1/2 cup white wine
4-6 cups chicken stock
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tablespoon butter
salt and pepper
1/4 cup chopped pistachios

for osso bucco:
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Dredge veal shanks in mixture of flour, salt and pepper. Make a bouquet garni - wrap toasted clove and pepper, bay leaf, rosemary sprigs, thyme sprigs, and parsley sprigs in cheesecloth, tie up with kitchen twine, and set aside. In a Dutch oven, crisp the pancetta in olive oil, remove, and set aside. Brown veal shanks over medium-high heat. Remove and set aside. Brown the onion, celery, carrots, and garlic. Return veal and pancetta to the Dutch oven. Add bouquet garni, 2/3 cup crushed tomatoes, 1 cup white wine and ¼ cup beef stock. Cover and cook in oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the meat is almost at the point of falling off the bone. Add more liquid if needed. The liquid should be about 2/3 of the way up the shanks. To make the gremolata, mix parsley, lemon zest, and minced garlic together. Top shanks with gremolata and serve.

for risotto:
Bring stock to a simmer and keep over low heat. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in large skillet over medium heat. Cook saffron and shallots until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in rice, coating with the butter . Add some salt, pepper, and white wine. When white wine has been absorbed by the rice, begin ladling in the stock. Add about 1/2 cup each time, allowing the rice to absorb the liquid. Keep stirring, and only add another 1/2 cup or so of liquid when the liquid has just about evaporated. Keep adding in stock until the rice is tender but still has a firm bite. The process will take about 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat and add the Parmesan cheese, a tablespoon of butter, and salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle chopped pistachios.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Blackberry Muffins with Streusel Topping

Eating blackberries when they are that gorgeous red wine color is the best! They have such a wonderful sour taste. Unfortunately, berries of this color only seem to be available when they are found growing on a blackberry bush. I just don't have as much enthusiasm for blackberries that are that typical bluish-black. However, I wasn't able to pass up a great deal on a quart of blackberries I saw at a market. But what do I do with them? Then it hit me - bake with them!

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg
½ cup buttermilk
1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon fresh nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ vanilla bean, scraped
1 cup blackberries

Streusel Topping:
1/8 cup flour
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1//8 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup chopped almonds

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cream the brown sugar and butter. Mix in egg and buttermilk. Stir in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla. Gently fold in blackberries. Pour batter in muffin tin. To make the streusel topping, pulse flour, sugar, butter, cinnamon, and almonds in food processor. Spread streusel topping over muffin batter. Bake for 20 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Penne with White Wine Tomato Cream Sauce

There is a little Italian restaurant just down the street from where we live. It is an unassuming place, a place with mismatched decorations and televisions broadcasting news and sports. It is also a place where honest, simple, and delicious food is made. This recipe is inspired by one of my favorite dishes from that restaurant.

1/4 cup olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
28 ounces tomato puree
15 ounces crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
1 cup white wine
lemon zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup heavy cream, room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/8 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 lb penne

Heat olive oil over medium heat in large pot, and sauté shallot, onion, and garlic until soft. Season with salt and pepper. Add tomato puree, crushed tomatoes, basil, rosemary and thyme. Simmer for 25 minutes. Add white wine, lemon zest, and lemon juice, and let the wine reduce (about 20 minutes). Add heavy cream, butter and parsley. Adjust seasonings as necessary. Remove from heat and add Parmesan cheese. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Cook pasta according to directions and serve with sauce.
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