Thursday, May 29, 2014

Hot Potato!

Potatoes were first introduced to Europeans by Spanish explorers from the New World in the 16th century. Not surprisingly, they were quickly integrated into local culinary cuisines. One of the most common uses of potatoes was to make potato salad. The Cassells Dictionary of Cookery, published in London around 1875, contains three recipes for potato salad: British, French, and German. The British and French recipes were very similar, served cold and dressed in a vinaigrette. The German version included bacon and was served hot. Incidentally, during both World Wars, recipes for German potato salad were simply called "hot potato salad."

Potato salad was introduced to the Americas by European settlers who quickly adapted their recipes to local ingredients. Originally, German style potato salads were more common; however, with the invention of bottled mayonnaise (see Kool sla, Kohlslau, Coleslaw!), mayonnaise-based potato salads have become the preferred version showing up at barbecues all across the country. I prefer a mayonnaise-based potato salad, but not one doused with yellow mustard, celery seed, rubbery bacon, and pickle relish. Instead, I prefer a more elegant version made with champagne vinegar, some sour cream to lighten it up a bit, and enhanced with onion, celery, hard-cooked eggs, and capers. Chopped chives, tarragon, dill, or parsley also make nice additions. This recipe for "Elegant Potato Salad" is just as good alongside any barbecue fair, but is sophisticated enough to serve with a perfectly grilled steak or salmon. Yum!


Elegant Potato Salad

Serves 8

Ingredients:
For the Dressing
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Salad
1/4 cup plain rice vinegar
Kosher salt
3 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, washed
3 hard-boiled eggs, diced (How do you make perfect hard-boiled eggs? See Techniques!)
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced celery
1 cup small-diced sweet onion
3 tablespoons capers, drained

Directions:
For the Dressing
Whisk all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to be used.

For the Salad
Stir together the rice vinegar and 2 teaspoons salt in a large bowl. Let sit to dissolve the salt. Place the potatoes and 2 tablespoons of salt in a 6-quart pot and add enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook the potatoes until barely tender when poked with a fork or skewer, 20-25 minutes. If the potatoes aren't all the same size, remove them as they are cooked.

Gently drain the potatoes and set aside until just cool enough to handle. Using a paring knife, peel the potatoes by scraping off the skin. Cut the potatoes into 3/4" chunks. Add the potatoes to the bowl with the vinegar and gently stir with a spatula to coat. With your fingers, pull apart any pieces that are stuck together.

When the potatoes have completely cooled, gently fold in the eggs, celery, onion, and capers. Fold in enough dressing to generously coat the potatoes (you may not need all the dressing). Season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed. Serve at room temperature or chilled. 

Recipe from Fine Cooking.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Thanksgiving in May?

This Memorial Day weekend gives me so much to be thankful for! While it is a time to honor and thank all the military and veterans who dedicate themselves to protect our freedom, my kids will finally be out of school for the summer, and my husband will be celebrating another birthday! So, with all this thankfulness over the weekend, I would like to share this recipe for "Bacon-Wrapped Turkey Breast with Cornbread Stuffing," from our friend Joshua Bousel of The Meatwave via seriouseats.com.

This creative recipe may look complicated with the bacon weave and all, but it actually isn't that difficult. I did skip the process of brining the turkey, because in my experience, brining doesn't seem to make that much of a difference and the bacon weave provides enough protection to prevent the turkey from drying out. In addition, I did read reviews that some people had trouble containing the stuffing, so I used toothpicks to seal the ends and tied the whole thing with kitchen twine at about 2" intervals. And finally, the best part of this recipe (besides the opportunity to weave bacon!), is that it can be assembled ahead to be grilled at your leisure. Grilled corn, green salad, and cranberry chutney are perfect accompaniments. It's a festive entree that will give you yet another reason to be thankful!


Bacon-Wrapped Turkey Breast with Cornbread Stuffing

Serves 8-10 (Note: I halved the recipe to great success, but I am providing the original recipe which is for two turkey breasts.)

Ingredients:
For the Brine (optional)
2 quarts ice cold water
1/3 cup Kosher salt
1/4 cup white sugar

2 boneless, skinless turkey breasts (I used 2 turkey breast cutlets instead, to make 1 turkey roll. If making 2 rolls, plan for 2 cutlets per roll and no need to pound it.)

For the Stuffing
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 pound breakfast sausage
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion (about 1 small onion)
1/3 cup finely chopped celery (about 1 small stalk)
1/3 cup peeled and finely chopped Granny Smith apple (about 1/2 an apple)
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage leaves
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
3 cups crumbled cornbread
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

24 slices bacon (about 1 1/2 pounds)

Directions:
For the Brine (optional)
Combine water, salt, and sugar in a large bowl and whisk to dissolve. Submerge the turkey breast in brine and place in refrigerator for 1 hour.

For the Stuffing
Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. When foaming subsides, add in sausage and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Add in onions, celery, and apple and cook until softened, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Place sausage mixture in a large bowl along with cornbread, chicken stock, sage, 1 teaspoon of salt, and black pepper. Mix to thoroughly combine.

For the Bacon Weave
Create a bacon weave by laying 6 strips of bacon out horizontally side by side. (I did this on a big piece of plastic wrap.) Interlace 6 more pieces of bacon vertically with horizontal bacon, as you would make a lattice-top pie. Repeat with the remaining 12 slices of bacon to make a second weave.


The Assembly
Remove the turkey breasts from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Butterfly turkey breasts open and pound out to a square of even thickness. Lay each breast on one bacon weave. Spread half of the stuffing in an even thickness over each of the breasts, leaving about 1/2 an inch edge with no stuffing. Roll tightly into a cylinder with bacon on the outside. (I found the plastic wrap made this step much easier!) Wrap turkey rolls tightly in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to firm up, about 1 hour to overnight.


For the Grill
Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. (At this point, I removed the turkey roll and the plastic wrap, toothpicked the ends closed, and tied the roll with kitchen twine at about 2" intervals.)


Place turkey rolls on cool side of grill, cover, and cook until an instant read thermometer reads 150 degrees when inserted into the thickest part of the turkey.


If bacon has not colored or crisped sufficiently, quickly sear over hot side of grill until desired doneness. Remove from grill and let rest for 15 minutes.


Cut turkey into 3/4" slices and serve immediately.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Boy Bait

Want to make your man swoon? Barbecue him some ribs! I don't know a man around who doesn't go crazy for some good ribs! (It must be some innate caveman thing.) This recipe utilizes a basic dry rub of paprika, salt, sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper. The ribs are then smoked over a pan of water while maintaining a temperature between 300-350 degrees for about 3 hours. I know the temperature is higher than most "experts" would swear by, but it is exactly the way I make my Memphis-Style Spareribs and it has never let me down. I do brush these ribs with a little barbecue sauce (my favorite being Sweet Baby Ray's Sweet 'n Spicy) and wrap them in foil for the last 30 minutes. So ladies, push your man aside and make him the best ribs he's ever had! (Make sure you really like him, because he just might propose!) Coleslawpotato salad, and grilled corn are obvious accompaniments.


Best Barbecue Ribs

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

For the Dry Rub
1/2 cup paprika
1/4 cup Kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

For the Ribs 
4 lbs pork sparerib slabs, preferably St. Louis style cut, if possible
3-4 handfuls mesquite and cherry wood chips, soaked in water
Your favorite barbecue sauce

Directions:

Remove the membrane from the bone-side of the ribs by sliding a knife under the membrane at the edges and using a paper towel, pull the membrane off. Gross! Mix all the dry rub ingredients in a bowl, and pat it all over the spareribs, rubbing it in well. Place the ribs in a dish, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or for up to 4 hours. Remove from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before barbecuing. (I also cut each slab in half to ensure they fit in my Weber grill.)


Prepare a charcoal grill for barbecuing over medium-low heat (300-350 degrees).

Place an aluminum drip pan half full of water in the center of the fire bed. Sprinkle some of the wood chips on the coals. Place the ribs on the grill rack over the drip pan.

Cover and grill and smoke the ribs, rotating them every 30 minutes or so (the ribs along the outside will cook faster, so it's good to rotate to the inside, etc.) and adding more wood chips, more coals, and more water to the drip pan as needed.


Continue to cover, grill, and smoke the ribs until they are tender and a toothpick can easily be inserted between the ribs, about 2 1/2-3 hours. Brush the ribs with a little barbecue sauce, stack, and wrap in foil for the last 1/2 hour.



To serve, cut the slabs into separate ribs and pile on top of a platter and serve proudly! With lots of napkins!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Bonjour, Mother's Day!

Being a mom is not always easy. With all the things we do from homework to housework, it's easy to forget our joie de vivre (joy of living). So this Mother's Day, I am sharing this lovely French recipe for "My Family Quiche from Beatrice," from Jamie Cat Callan's book Bonjour, Happiness! Jamie Cat Callan has written many francophile books focused on interviews and advice from hundreds of French women about staying stylish at any age, romance, and finding your joie de vivre. Her books are delightful and remind us not to forget that we are powerful and sexy women! I now try to make sure my underwear always matches, I never forget to wear perfume or my favorite Chanel lipstick (Monte Carlo), and remember to take some time for myself. It's funny how such simple things can really enhance your joie de vivre!

This recipe is from Jamie's friend Beatrice, who lives in Toulouse and is a "high-powered executive in the medical field." Jamie was impressed by the generosity that Beatrice took time from her day to make her this wonderful quiche along side a green salad for a simple and beautiful lunch. I have to say this is one of the best and unique quiches I've ever made! For starters, the fabulous pastry crust is rolled on parchment and placed, parchment and all, inside the pan, giving it a nice rustic appearance. Charming! The filling is more of a souffle which creates a creamy cloud-like layer that enrobes a generous mixture of bacon, ham, and Swiss cheese. Delicious! I have Americanized the amounts for the pastry crust, e.g., using 4 ounces butter instead of 3 1/2 ounces, etc. to great effect. In addition, I did saute the bacon and drained it before adding it to the pastry crust. So, if you want to do something really special for your mom this Mother's Day, skip the busy restaurants and make her this chic, elegant quiche that is guaranteed to enhance her joie de vivre! 


My Family Quiche from Beatrice

Serves 4-6
*This recipe calls for a 10" pan. I don't own one, so I used my 9" springform pan.

Ingredients:
For the Pastry Crust
4 ounces softened butter cut in small pieces
8 ounces flour
1 egg
1-2 teaspoons milk
1/8 teaspoon salt

For the Filling
4 egg yolks
4 egg whites
1 cup cream
3 1/2 ounces shredded Swiss cheese
7 ounces bacon cut in small bits
7 ounces cooked ham sliced, and cut in small squares
Pepper (1 pinch)
Nutmeg (1 pinch)

Directions:
For the Pastry Crust
In a bowl, put flour and salt, then add the butter and mix with fingers. Add the egg and keep on mixing with fingers. Add a drop of milk so the mix forms a ball. Let rest in the fridge for minimum half an hour. (It can be prepared earlier in the day. In that case let it stand about 20 minutes out of the fridge before rolling it.)

When ready to use, take the dough out and using a rolling pin, roll it on a piece of cooking paper. Place it in the pan with the paper. Preheat the oven to 460 degrees.

For the Filling
In a bowl, mix the egg yolks and the cream. Add the shredded cheese, pepper, and nutmeg. (Usually you don't need to add salt, as the bacon, ham, and cheese are already salted.) Beat the whites until hard. (I think she means firm peaks.) Carefully incorporate the whites (without breaking) (I think she means fold in gently) in the bowl containing yolks, cream, and cheese. In the pan, on the unbaked crust, place bacon and ham. Pour the filling in the crust. Place low in the oven for 30 minutes.

Serve with a green salad.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Nacho Mama's Enchiladas!

I have been struggling to post this recipe. Not because it isn't delicious, but because it goes against everything I know about authentic Mexican and authentic Tex-Mex cuisine. I was running late, needed dinner fast, and just happened to have everything in house. As I scoffed at it's ingredients as an abomination to everything I know, I threw it in the oven and waited. What caused me so much contention was that it was for enchiladas filled with a mixture of chicken, green chiles, sour cream, and cheese, all rolled up in...FLOUR tortillas! Never before in my life have I ever made or consumed enchiladas made with flour tortillas! "It's so wrong," I kept thinking. And that isn't even the half of it! Instead of the classic chili-gravy doused on any self-respecting Tex-Mex enchilada, or an authentic chili-laden sauce of Mexican cuisine, it called to be blanketed in...salsa! Wtf? 

Time was up and as I carried my pathetic entree to the table, I felt embarrassed and apologetic to my family. That is until we ate it! It had all the heart-stopping goodness of oozy cheese, spicy salsa, and tender chicken. In fact, my husband and I thought it tasted quite reminiscent of a good nacho plate, but without the crunch of course! It's just what you crave along side a pitcher of margaritas, that no doubt will be abundant this upcoming Cinco de Mayo! I knew I needed to post the recipe, but what would I call it? Enchiladas are made with corn tortillas, ends open, and baked with a sauce. Burritos are made with flour tortillas, folded in at the ends, (which is why they are named "little donkey," resembling the packs that a donkey carries) and are never baked with a sauce. Burritos can be fried, but then they are chimichangas. Hmm? So, after some consideration, I present you the world's first and easiest recipe for (drumroll) "Nacholadas!" Classic Tex-Mex accompaniments would be rice, beans, and garnished with a "salad" of shredded lettuce, diced tomato and white onion, dressed with a little cider vinegar, salt, and dried oregano. Chips and guacamole would be the perfect starter! Happy Cinco!


Nacholadas (Sour Cream Chicken "Enchiladas" with Salsa and Oozy Cheese)

Serves 8

Ingredients:

For the Filling
3 cups cooked, shredded chicken (Chicken thighs make the most flavorful and tender filling.)
1, 7-ounce can diced green chiles
4 large green onions, chopped
1 cup diced and seeded plum tomatoes
1, 16-ounce container sour cream
8 ounce block of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded and divided into two portions
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

For the Nacholadas
8, 8" flour tortillas (slightly warmed in microwave, if necessary to make pliable)
2 cups of your favorite tomato-based salsa (store-bought or homemade)
1-2 jalapenos, sliced
Chopped cilantro, for garnish

Directions:
For the Filling
Mix all the filling ingredients in a large bowl, reserving 1/2 of the cheddar cheese for the top. Season with pepper to taste.

For the Nacholadas
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13x2" baking dish. Spoon generous 1/2 cup of filling down the center of each tortilla. Roll up and place seam side down in the baking dish. (Can be made a few hours ahead and refrigerated.)


Pour salsa over the enchiladas, cover with foil, and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover the pan and sprinkle on the remaining cheddar cheese and top with jalapeno slices. Bake an additional 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Garnish with cilantro and serve.