Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese, Sweet Red Pepper and Goat Cheese

Serves 4

This has been a revelation for me this summer. I wanted to do a salad, and was sick of the normal accoutrements of our salads, so used what we had--goat cheese and red pepper. The sweetness of the red pepper, coupled with the goat cheese, made this wonderfully rich, without actually being so, and of course the crunch of the red pepper was a lovely addition. Maybe the easiest good salad I make. 

  • One 10-ounce package arugula
  • One sweet red pepper sliced (with a mandolin) into 2 mm slices
  • 4 ounces high water-content goat cheese, e.g. Petit Billy or Chavri
  • Balsamic vinaigrette. Roughly 2 parts vinegar to 1 part oil, plus salt and 1/2 tsp dijon mustard to emulsify. The better your vinegar and oil, the less oil you need. If you have lower quality vinegar or oil, you'll need more oil to make it taste good. 
Toss arugula and red peppers with vinaigrette. Crumble goat cheese on top. 

Red Cabbage Cole Slaw

Serves 6 

These measurements are approximations. You'll have to do this to taste. I will try to update it if I ever figure out the actual measurements, but I typically do this totally by "feel"/ taste. 

  • 1 red cabbage, sliced into a 3 mm slice. Use a mandolin for this if you have one. If you don't have one (or if you have any other kind), buy the Kyocera mandolin. It's $15, and is the best piece of kitchen equipment I've purchased in the last 3 years. 
  • 10 ounce package carrot sticks, or shredded carrots. Or grate your own. 
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (may be less, so start with 3/4 of a cup)
  • 4 ounces honey
  • Juice of two lemons
  • Salt to taste
Mix it all together! Great with Bourbon-Orange-Hoisin Glazed Ribs or Bourbon Braised Pork Ribs. We also did this along with potato salad at our crawfish boil. 

Bourbon-Orange-Hoisin Glazed Baby Back Ribs

Serves 2

For the first time in our lives, we have a grill, something we are very excited about. But also a tad daunted by. We decided that we would break it in by cooking ribs. However, I was pretty scared, because several friends had talked about slow cooking for 6-8  hours, then smoking for another 4--and with mixed results! I am not that kind of cook (too lazy), so I looked for a recipe that sounded good, and didn't take that much effort. The recipe below is (very slightly) modified from and was wonderful, and very easy. And when I say wonderful, I mean that the ribs were extremely flavorful, and fell off the bone. Can't wait to try smoking, the rotisserie, and grilling fish!! 

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

  • 5 T honey
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons molasses
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon hot chili paste, e.g Sriracha
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • One 2 1/4- to 2 1/2-pound racks baby back pork ribs
  • 1 cup orange juice, preferably fresh

Whisk first 10 ingredients in small bowl.

Place long sheet of aluminum foil on each of 2 large rimmed baking sheets. Sprinkle rib racks on all sides with salt and pepper. Place 1 rib rack on each foil sheet. Fold up sides of each foil sheet around rib rack to form boat-like shape. Pour 1/2 cup orange juice over each rib rack. Place another piece of foil on top. Crimp edges and fold up foil to seal packets. Bake until ribs are tender, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove ribs from foil packets. This can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate.

Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Cut each rib rack in half. Place on grill and spoon as much glaze as you can on--do the same on the other side when you turn it. Grill until browned, brushing frequently with glaze and turning often, about 10 minutes. Cut racks between bones into ribs.

We served this with traditional cole slaw--red cabbage, carrots, mayo, honey, lemon juice. 

White Wine and Butter Poached Chicken Stuffed with Goat Cheese

Serves 4 

This is another recipe where the "Test Kitchen" part of this blog should be remembered. The dish was fantastic, I just haven't gotten the exact cooking temperature/time down yet. As a result, our chicken was a tad touch--but with the wine sauce and the goat cheese, it was still fantastic. I would eat my shoes with this preparation, so I will just work to refine the recipe so that the chicken is really tender, as it should be. 

  • 4 large breasts of chicken. We used boneless, skinless, but it would actually be best if it were bone-in, with skin. It would keep more moisture in. 
  • 4 T butter
  • 6 ounces good white wine. Use something you'll drink, and then drink the remainder with your dinner. 
  • 2 ounces dry, chalky goat cheese (the logs are what you're looking for here)
  • 1 to 1.5 T. minced tarragon
  • Kosher salt 
  • White pepper
Pre-heat oven to 350. I did 425, but I think a lower temperature would be better. Maybe even something in the 200s. Pat chicken breasts dry, then salt and pepper them. Place them in the smallest oven-safe dish that will accommodate them. You want to not have to use too much wine and butter, but you need them to be submerged, so a larger dish will mean you need to increase the amount of wine and butter. Add wine and butter in slices to the dish. The wine should cover or nearly cover the dish. I cooked mine for 20 minutes to 425, then let it sit for at least 10 minutes. It was over-cooked at that point. It may be that it was fine right when I took it out, but my inclination would be to cook it for around 10 to 15 minutes at that temp, or 20 at a lower temp. Just take it out and either use a thermometer, or a knife to visually inspect the inside of the meat. Once meat is done, still pink, but not translucent, remove from oven. Cut  a slide along the horizontal mid-line and stuff in as much goat cheese as you possibly can. Place chicken breasts in shallow, soup-type bowls. whisk tarragon into the butter wine sauce, and add salt and white pepper to taste. Evenly distribute poaching liquid amongst bowls. 

I served this with poached artichokes and lemon-mayonnaise, and an arugula salad with balsamic vinaigrette, goat cheese and sliced sweet red pepper

Orange-Sesame Salmon Crudo

Serves 4

I copied this from Island Creek Oyster Bar. It's still a work in progress, but even imperfect, it was quite nice. In the past I've tried to make ceviche out of salmon, and found that it's kind of disgusting, with the acidity bringing out an incredible fishiness in the fish. When I had this crudo at ICOB, I was very impressed, because the lower acidity of the orange didn't have that result. When I tried this, I only marinated it for around 20 minutes, which was not enough. Below is what I did with suggested amendments called out. I'll update this when I try it next. 

  • 8 ounce filet of salmon, never frozen, sliced into 1/6" slices, then cue into 1" x 1" square. You're basically looking for sushi grade--and the best proxy you can get for that, is to ensure it's not been frozen, and ask when the fish was filleted (if the answer is longer than "yesterday," you shouldn't do this dish). 
  • Juice of two oranges. I might try blood oranges, or even fresh squeezed orange juice, as both are more acidic
  • 2-4 T sesame oil (I have no idea how much I used)
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt to taste
The way I did it
Whisk sesame oil in with orange to create a vinaigrette (incidentally, this would be a fantastic salad dressing). Marinate fish in vinaigrette for 20 minutes. Add salt and crushed red pepper to taste. Serve. 

The way I will do it next time
The issue with the way I did last time is that the fish did not take much of the flavor of orange, so you only got that taste to the extent that you were eating it with the vinaigrette. It was still nice, but not as good as ICOB's, and not as good as it could be. Below is what I will try next time. 

Remove a few large pieces of orange rinds, then over a sink, place a lighter underneath them to "smoke" the rind, and get out the essential oils. Place fish with orange juice, orange rind, and around 1 tsp kosher salt. Marinate for 1 hour. Drain fish. Make a new vinaigrette from juice of one orange, salt, and sesame oil. Add pepper flakes to taste. Don't let your guests, because they won't, and these are crucial. Just don't over do it--for your guests--go wild for yourself :) 

Sauteed Eggplant with Tomato, Hot Pepper and Feta

Serves 2.5 (2 adults, 1 kid)

This year our roof deck garden is doing beautifully. The first things to mature have been the eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes--hence the birth of this dish. It really did turn out really wonderfully, with just the right amount of latent heat from the serranos. 

  • 1 T. butter (or EVOO, but I think the butter is helpful)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced to a paste (w/salt)
  • 4 small eggplants (our are around the size of plums), or around 1.5 cups eggplant, cut into a 1/2" dice
  • 1 medium tomato, cut into a 1/4" dice
  • 1/4 of a serrano pepper, minced to a 1 mm or less mince
  • 2 ounces feta crumbled
  • kosher salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste

Melt butter in a 8 - 10" pan, then saute garlic, adding eggplant just before garlic starts to brown. Saute eggplant on medium-low until it becomes tender, adding peppers after a few minutes. Reduce heat to low, add tomatoes and cook till they have given up their liquid and become very soft. Taste, and add salt and pepper to taste. Turn off heat, crumble feta over the top, and cover. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, then serve immediately.

Serve with Lamb Burgers, or with Turkish Chicken Skewers.

Grappa Peaches with Basil and Creme Fraiche

Serves 6

Borrowed from Eric Ripert (Le Bernardin). An amazing, simple, summer dessert. 

  • 6 peaches, cut into wedges, with the fat part of the wedge about 1/3"
  • 3 T sugar
  • 3 T grappa
  • 10 large basil leaves julienned to a 1 mm width, max
  • Creme fraiche
Marinate peaches and basil with sugar and grappa for up to 4 hours, and as little as 20 minutes (more time doesn't really add that much, so it's whatever's most convenient for you). Serve with 1 T. dollop of creme fraiche each. 


Serves 6

  • one 6 ounce container 2% Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 an English cucumber, peeled and grated. If you have time, allow them to sit in a strainer and let some of the liquid drain off. 
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 3 T minced mint
  • 1 T minced dill
  • kosher salt to taste
  • black pepper taste

Mix together and if you can, let set to allow the flavors to inter-mingle. If you do this, don't add salt until ready to serve.

Serve on Lamb Burgers, or with Turkish Chicken Skewers. or even on fish.