Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Things worked out very well for me and challenge number 3. The idea was to find a recipe that was popular the year you were born or around the year you were born. I looked it up on the internet and I found that Nouveau cuisine was popular. Not something I was too keen on recreating. Then I found a website that mentioned meatloaf and I started to think about some American dishes my mom made when I was growing up in the 80's. Salisbury steak was one that popped up in my mind. It was great for us kids because it was like eating a hamburger with gravy and it was easy for my mom to make when she came home from work. The recipe I found is very different from the traditional salisbury steak I've made or my mom has made. I found it while looking through some old cooking magazines. This is from the April 2005 edition of Cuisine at Home. Great magazine by the way. I should probably renew my subscription.
French Onion Salisbury Steak
Makes 4 Steaks; Total Time: 45 Minutes
1 1/4 lb. ground chuck
1/4 c. fresh minced parsley
2 TBS. scallion, minced
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 TBS. all-purpose flour
2 TBS. olive oil
2 cups onions, sliced
1 tsp. sugar
1 TBS. garlic, minced
1 TBS. tomato paste
2 cups beef broth
1/4 cup dry red wine
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
4 tsp. minced, fresh parsley
4 tsp. Parmesan cheese, shredded
4 slices French bread or baguette, cut diagonally (1/2" thick)
2 TBS. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp. garlic, minced
Pinch of paprika
1/4 cup Swiss cheese, grated
1 TBS. Parmesan cheese, grated
Combine chuck, parsley, scallion, salt and pepper. Divide evenly into 4 portions and shape each into 3/4"-1" thick oval patties. Place 2 TBS. flour in a shallow dish; dredge each patty in flour. Reserve 1 tsp. flour.
Heat 1 TBS. oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add patties and saute 3 minutes on each side, or until browned. Remove from pan.
Add onions and sugar to pan; saute 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and tomato paste; saute 1 minute, or until paste begins to brown. Sprinkle onions with reserved flour; cook 1 minute. Stir in broth and wine, then add the salt and thyme.
Return meat to pan and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer 20 minutes.
Serve steaks on Cheese Toasts with onion soup ladled over. Garnish with parsley and Parmesan.
For the Cheese Toasts
Preheat oven to 400º F.
Place bread on baking sheet.
Combine butter, garlic and paprika and spread on one side of each slice of bread. Combine cheeses and sprinkle evenly over butter. Bake until bread is crisp and cheese is bubbly, 10-15 minutes.
This was the recipe as printed in the magazine. I made a few slight changes. I had to buy two packages of ground beef so that gave me a little over 1 1/2 pounds of meat and I got 5 patties out of it. The scallions at shoprite have been looking pretty funky lately so I substituted red onion. I don't think it changed the flavor at all though. The only other change I made was that I used shredded mozzarella instead of the swiss. I've had french onion soup with both types of cheese so either is good for me! Everything else I did the same and I was very happy with the results. Steve really liked it as well. There are only two slight changes I would make in the future. First I would drain the fat from the patties after they are browned. I usually do this with my ground beef but I thought that the flour would absorb more. Turned out to be a little more greasy than I would have liked. The other thing is that I would use half the amount of dried thyme. It is very strong and too much can be very overpowering. I had to add a little water to try to dilute that. Other than that this recipe was great and I would definitely recommend it!
I forgot to take a picture of the meat mixture so I took a picture of the patty instead.
Patties dredged in flour.
Patties in my favorite all clad pan. (I'm such a kitchen label whore! lol)
Sliced onions and tomato paste.
Broth and patties returned to the pan.
Voila! Doesn't that look yummy?
It's not too late to join in the latest bakespace challenge! I believe it runs until August 15th! If you don't want to do the challenge but you are curious about bakespace come check it out at www.bakespace.com. You will find me there in the forums!
For our second bakespace challenge we had to recreate a dish from a movie of our choice. We were asked to put our own unique spin on it. This proved to be a difficult challenge since I could not find a movie right away. I really wanted to use Under the Tuscan Sun but there wasn't any close ups of the dishes or any discussions of what she made. I did finally decide on a movie that I could work with...Disney's Ratatouille. Ratatouille is a french vegetable stew that usually uses eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, peppers, potatoes and tomatoes. There seem to be many versions of this dish which is great for using whatever you have on hand.
To make my own spin on the dish I decided to make a lasagna layered with strips of zucchini and eggplant. I wouldn't call this a vegetable lasagna but I guess it could be considered that. I know vegetable lasagna to inclue spinach or broccoli but either way, I used veggies and it's lasagna. So call is what you wish! I didn't use ricotta in this dish because I wanted to concentrate on the flavors of the squash and not have it muted by a lot of cheese. Peppers are found in most recipes for ratatouille and I wanted to include them but not layered in the lasagna. This turned out to be my biggest problem. I rememeber seeing Rachael Ray make a roasted red pepper sauce and I thought that would be a great way to include the peppers. The idea sounded good but...nope...not so great. I used her recipe as a guide and used a jar of roasted red peppers. The result was a very tangy sauce that I really didn't care for at all. I think if I used my own peppers to flavor the sauce, it would have been much better. I love the flavor that peppers give the sauce when I make my mom's recipe for stuffed peppers (I'll have to share that with you soon.) I think the idea was good, the vegetables were tender but the sauce was a flop. If I had a chance to do it all over again I would make a marinara sauce and do everything else the same.
So the first thing I did was make the sauce. Here is a link to Rachael Ray's recipe if your curious. I used an onion instead of a shallot and I used three cloves of garlic instead of two. Basically, I made my regular sauce just added in some white wine and a jar of roasted peppers that I chopped in the food processor.
While the sauce was cooking I sliced the zucchini and eggplant on a mandoline. I used the 1/4 inch setting and made long slices. I also squeezed the juice and seeds from two small tomatoes and those I sliced by hand.
Next, I fried the zucchini and eggplant in vegetable oil and then drained them on paper towels.
I let the vegetable get lightly browned on both sides.
The next part was very easy if you've made lasagna before. I layered the vegetable between layers of no boil pasta sheets. Sauce on the bottom, sprinkle of romano cheese, three sheets of lasagna, more sauce, romano, eggplant, sauce, mozzarella. That was the first layer. It's important to use a lot of sauce because this is what actually cooks the noodles. Next layer was the same but I used the zucchini on this layer. Next layer was the top layer. On top of the pasta I added sauce, romano and mozzarella. I added the tomatoes here and sprinkled them with cheese.
Cover with foil and bake at 350 for about 1 hour.
When I sliced it you can see that it's not as thick as traditional lasagna. That's because it didn't have the ricotta. It still looked pretty on the plate and the vegetable were nice and tender.
So even though the recipe wasn't perfect, I'm proud of the way I put it together. Like I said, I would absolutely try this again without the roasted red pepper sauce.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Most people are familiar with the traditional rice ball. I love them. I love the Sicilian ones too (shhh! Nanny wouldn't be happy about that! lol) but this is something much more simple than that. This is a great way to use up leftover rice, they can be a great appetizer maybe even served with a dipping sauce of your choice or you could have them the way Nanny intended...as they are. I don't remember that there was ever a actual reason or occasion that she made these. She made them, we ate them, end of story. They are delicious and simple and again remind me of my childhood. Thanks again to Mom and to my Aunt Maryann who helped me out and told me how to make the croquettes.
1 cup of Carolina rice, prepared according to box and rinsed (makes 3 cups cooked)***
1 egg, beaten
About 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
3/4 cup - 1 cup plain breadcrumbs
Fresh or dried chopped parsley, optional
salt and pepper, to taste
Canola oil, for frying
***NOTE - Rice must be very cold and dry. Cook rice the day before and refrigerate for best results.
1. Add all ingredients (except for oil) to bowl with cold rice and mix. Rice should stick together nicely. If mixture is too wet add more breadcrumbs.
2. Add oil to a nonstick pan and let it get hot enough for frying.
3. Meanwhile, form rice mixture into egg shaped patties.
4. When oil is hot, gently place croquettes into oil. Do not touch them until nicely browned, then flip.
5. Place croquettes on a paper towel lined plate to absorb excess oil.
Makes approx 15 croquettes.
Friday, July 25, 2008
My sister Danielle wrote a few words describing her memories of Nanny. Stay tuned for the recipe and photos of Nanny's Baked Rice.
"Wow…I have so many memories of Nanny. She really was such a special person to everyone. When it comes to food, Nanny was on the top of the list of the yummiest, quick, creative and simple dishes. I think about the things she made all the time and wish that I was smart enough to pay more attention to all the things she made so well. My food memories of her go from the littlest of desserts to the large meals she prepared.
Nanny had a way about her cooking that no matter what it was she made, it just tasted better because she made it. Even when she would make vanilla pudding and tapioca pudding it just tasted better. I remember she would call up to me at night from the bottom of the stairs telling me to come down to the basement. She would have a little serving of the pudding waiting for me and we would enjoy it together. Even breakfast was delicious. She would make farina from a box but put an egg in it and who knows what else and it was so good. I really wish I knew what it was because I think my kids would enjoy it. When she didn’t know what to make for lunch, I remember her making a little bit of pastina and you would just crave more of it. She would add an egg, then she would take out a frozen container of sauce from the freezer and just scoop some out (frozen and all…for an elderly person she was very strong) and add it to the pastina. Oh my gosh…it tasted DELICIOUS!!!! This is what I mean when I say she was creative. She would just mix a few things together and there you have it….an outrageous lunch or dinner.
One of my favorite dinners that Nanny made was her Baked Rice. Again, it was nothing complicated but it was so good. It was rice with chopped meat, mozzarella cheese, grated cheese, and sauce all mixed together in a pyrex dish. She would put it in the oven and there you have it. It was so good I can taste it now. That is one recipe of hers that I make often in the winter. Sofia and TJ don’t eat it (they don’t eat anything) but Thomas, myself and Emily really enjoy it. My food memories of Nanny go on and on. I could write a book with just the little things that she did. Thinking back I see how lucky we were to have her living with us thoughout our childhood. Because she was always there we are able to keep her memory alive even with the little things."
When we lived in Brooklyn, Nanny had a beautiful vegetable garden. She grew tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, eggplant, string beans, figs, rasperries, grapes and of course, zucchini. Zucchini plants grow beautiful vibrant orange flowers that are edible. I've seen them on menus in restaurants and I've watched Chefs like Mario Batali make them, however, I've only seen them stuffed which was not the way Nanny made them. She mixed them in a batter, fried them and topped them with sugar. Strange you make think but I assure you, they are very delicious. If you just give them a chance maybe they will become part of your summer food memories as they are an important part of mine.
My mom has taken over making the fried zucchini flowers (as she called them) since Nanny has passed and I have to say, I'm impressed. She figured out on her own how to make them and they taste just like I remember. This past weekend I visited my parents in Staten Island. My mother had a big bag of blossoms in the fridge that she picked off the zucchini that she and my father grew this year. She kept her promise to teach me how to make these treats and on Sunday we made them together. Here's what we did.
Nanny always said to pick the flowers in the morning while the blossoms are open. I don't know why this matters since they close once they are picked but that's what she said so that's what we do. So first you pull off the bottom piece that holds the flower together. Then you gently tear open the delicate flower and pull out the bud. You then wash off all the pollen and any insects that may be inside. Let them dry in a colander and then drain excess water on a paper towel. (I had pictures of all of these steps but they were taken with my mother's camera which didn't come out very well. The pictures that we did get were taken with my brother's new high tech camera. Thanks Gennaro!)
Make batter by mixing 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of water, 2 eggs, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp of baking powder.
Add blossoms and gently mix them until coated with batter. Some pieces may break off but that's okay.
Heat a pan with vegetable oil. When oil is hot drop a large spoonful of batter into the pan. Try to get one blossom per spoonful if possible. When browned turn and fry the second side.
When they are done let them drain on a paper towel and then sprinkle with granulated sugar. Eat them while they are warm. I couldn't get a great picture because everyone was eating them before I could get a nice pile on the plate! I think this made at least 20 and they were devoured within minutes.
So next time you consider throwing out those zucchini flowers think of me and my Nanny and give this recipe a shot. I promise you won't be disappointed.
Thanks Mom for figuring out this recipe. If you didn't it would be lost!
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Nanny was great at using leftovers to make an entirely new meal. She was a big fan of adding an egg to soups or pasta for extra flavor and as she always said "to give you strength". I used some of the leftover ingredients from the bakespace challenge to make an incredibly hearty soup that Nanny would be proud of. This recipe just came to me in a dream. I'm not kidding. I woke up several times throughout the night because I was so excited about the soup. I don't have an exact recipe with measurements since I used leftovers but feel free to change this up however you like. In my mind this is a kicked up stracciatella soup (roman egg drop soup).
I sauteed onions, celery and carrots in extra virgin olive oil until they were tender. Then I added water and chicken bouillon and the rind from a hunk of parmigiano reggiano cheese. When that came to a boil I added the spinach, some shredded rotisserie chicken and a couple of tablespoons of tomato sauce. That's a trick my mom always does to add some color to soups and stews. We usually use very small cans of Del Monte tomato sauce but this time I had some in my fridge that I already made myself. In a seperate bowl I beat two eggs with some grated locatelli romano cheese. I lowered the heat and beat in the egg and cheese mixture in a slow stream to create little egg "rags". This is similar to the look of chinese egg drop soup but without the thickness you get from the cornstarch. I then cooked some tortellini right in the pot with the soup and veggies.
Hearty and delicious!
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Yields 4 servings
My Migas Recipe
Monday, July 7, 2008
1. Twice a month someone will post a list of 5 ingredients in a new thread (ex. BS Cooking Challenge #1) the challenges will vary and get more creative as we get more comfortable. Everyone who participates will get a turn to decide on the challenge.
2. You can use the ingredients to make one or two dishes. Whatever you decide.
3. The recipe will be an original recipe, your own creation.
4. We will have two weeks to make a dish and post your recipe and a picture if you can.
5. Most importantly...have fun!!!! This is purely to get our creative juices flowing and to get some great new recijpes!!! Even if your recipe is a flop, please share your experience with the group.
Here are the five ingredients we had to include in our recipe...chicken, puff pastry, spinach, eggs and onions.
I decided to make stuffed puff pastry triangles and they came out really great. I didn't have a lot of time so I bought a cooked rotisserie chicken and shredded the breast. The only thing I would change next time is the flavor of the chicken. I bought a Tuscan Spice chicken and it was too salty. I think the original flavor would have been perfect.
Sauteed onions, mushrooms and garlic in extra virgin olive oil and butter.
Add Spinach until wilted.
Add shredded chicken and stir to combine mixture.
follow directions on box for defrosting puff pastry.
Then roll out dough and divide into 6 pieces.
Add heaping tablespoon of mixture on center of pastry dough.
fold over in order to form a triangle. Brush sides with egg wash to seal.
Once you have made 6 triangles brush tops with egg wash and sprinkle with cheese. Bake until golden brown.
This is what they look like when they are all done!
I'm very happy with the outcome!
Now who wouldn't want a bite of that???
If you'd like to give these a shot here is the complete recipe which received great reviews from Steve. Sweet Success!!!
1 chicken breast, shredded (I used store bought rotisserie)
1 package cremini mushrooms, diced
5 oz fresh spinach, roughly chopped
1 large onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Shredded cheese blend (I used mozzarella, asiago, fontina and provolone, romano, parmesan) Salt and pepper, to taste
1 sheet puff pastry
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon water
Approx 1 tablespoon butter
Sauté onions in a combination of EVOO and half of the butter. When they start to soften add the rest of the butter and the mushrooms, sauté until brown.
Add garlic and let it cook for a few minutes and then add spinach. Turn in mixture until spinach wilts and all the veggies are combined.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Mix in shredded chicken.
Roll out puff pastry on a well floured surface and divide into 6 pieces. Roughly shape them into squares.
Put a heaping tablespoon into the center of the dough, sprinkle with cheese.
Brush edges of dough with egg wash and fold over to form a triangle, crimping edges with fork to seal.
Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with some grated parmesan or romano . Bake at 400˚ for 25 mins or until brown.
The zucchini blossoms were incredible! In fact, my mom has started making them the last couple of summers. It took her a couple of tries but she finally got the consistency just right! Later this summer when my mom makes them and teaches me, I'll post the recipe along with some pictures!