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Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Seafood Nage

This difference of sautéing and sweating is that sweating is done over a much lower heat, sometimes with salt added to help draw moisture away, and making sure that little or no browning takes place.

One of my absolute favorites from the start. The tender shellfish and light broth makes my mouth water with delight. First time Cheffy and I made this dish I wanted to soak a full loaf of bread into the sauce and savor the buttery goodness but decided to refrain considering I had just recently started cooking with him and didn't want him to see that side of my monster (tummy) quite yet. Even as I type this out I find myself rocking with delight. It is quite simple as we will begin with the Tomato Sauce recipe from an earlier post.

"I wanted to soak a full loaf of bread into the buttery goodness". 

Saute' the mussels and clams
1 can of whole tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
1 yellow onion
olive oil
basil leaf

Shellfish ingredients:
1 shallot clove
White Wine for cooking
1 cube of Butter
After making the tomato sauce you'll need a sauce or saute pan to start cooking the shellfish. Slice the garlic and shallots, chop thyme and parsley.
In a med heated sauce pan add a tablespoon of olive oil and "sweat" garlic and shallots until flavors are released and they are starting to turn color. Add white wine thyme, parsley, and shellfish. Place a cup of the tomato sauce that you made earlier on top of the shellfish to act as a semi lid to the pan. Add cubed butter all over the tomato sauce, as the shellfish opens it takes in the buttery goodness. As soon as the shellfish open up remove them from the pan and set aside. After all the shellfish has been removed reduce reduce reduce the broth. Once it has reduced to a thick sauce add the shellfish back in to warm up. Serve immediately with bread- soak in the buttery sauce while savoring the sweetness of the mussels and clams. 

This is a quick and easy dish to make - perfect for a romantic lunch or the starter to a fantastic dinner. 

Thursday, July 07, 2016

This onion is my "B"

It has taken me quite a long time to say that but I have officially conquered the onion. 
Before I learned how to properly dice, cutting an onion was more like an horror film where the bad guys randomly swings his axe, chopping its victim in varies shapes and sizes. No matter how I seemed to start, it always came out irregular with large pieces in funky shapes - not good for trying to evenly cook them. Actually one of my first lessons from Cheffy was how to cut an onion. I never figured it would be the epicenter of my cooking experience but it has made all the difference in time and flavor. Once that onion became my "B" I felt more confident with my knife, cooking from scratch took half the time it did beforehand and honestly I felt a little bit like a badass. 
Yes, learning to dice an onion did all that for me and honestly it is going to change the way you cook.

First cut the onion in half from root to top. Do not cut the root off or slice through the root in any of these steps! Trust me.....
Lay one half of the onion down and make three horizontal slices towards the root, start close to the cutting board and move your way up the onion. (pic one)
Now turn the front of the onion towards you and make slices from the top of the onion straight down to the board without the the tip of the knife penetrating the root  (pic two)
From here all you have to do is turn the onion towards your dominate hand again and slice downward starting at the front and working your way back to the root. Keep your fingers in the claw position to protect your little piggys from being chopped off. (pic three)
The root keeps the onion together until the very last slice.
HOW does cutting a simple onion change your life?
Well, this technique works on everything: Garlic, potatoes, tomatoes, fennel, radishes...anything that is semi-round.
Cutting your veggies in the same size allows for even cooking, something that is essential to flavor and timing. 
Look at this perfectly diced garlic! So tiny and perfectly sized.
Next time you need an onion give Cheffy's method a try, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised how quickly your prep goes.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

My quest for the perfect rice noodles.

One day I woke up and BAM I had to have noodles....I don't mean noodles sounded good or next time I am in town I'll grab some noodles. No, the desire was overwhelming and on-going. I am a lucky girl because once my noodle desire became known to Cheffy he was all in for taking a trip downtown to Trove where we would indulged my impulse. 

Trove -Wide rice noodles, beef ragout, rapinl
When we get excited about something foodie there is really no stopping us. We can spend weeks even months on perfecting the dish.
The first couple of efforts resulted in some really tasty broth but the noodles were constantly breaking apart or the texture was grainy leaving an unsavory film on the one wants that. A few recipes later and we have it down. No special equipment needed, just  two saute pans and these noodles cook in minutes.

Ingredients for Rice Noodles

I weighed all ingredients.
200 grams of rice flour
65 grams of potato starch
325 grams of tepid water.

How To: 

Whisk together the flour, starch and almost all the water. You want the batter to be runny and thin but it needs to have some texture. How I tell it is the right thickness -when I whisk, is it easy to stir without any pulling? Is the batter runny enough that it easily drips from the whisk? Does it resemble a runny elmers glue? ok, you got it then. 

To Cook:

Bring water in a large shallow saute pan to boil. 
Brush a shallow sheet pan with oil. (Must fit inside your saute pan. A cake pan works well)
Whisk the rice batter before pouring it into the cake pan. (Each and every time)
Place a lid on the saute pan and steam on high for 3 minutes.
When removing the lid make sure you remove it quickly without dripping any water on the rice noodles (as you can see we used two pans: one as the base and the other as the lid.)
Spray the noodles with oil and remove with a spatula. 
Place on a cutting board and cut into desire width. ( I like wide noodles for the dish I am going to show you)
It is quite simple really. For the first time I suggest that you focus just on making the noodles and preparing the sauce or oil before or after. ...that way the noodles get your full attention. 

For the past few months I have eaten loads of noodles and just when I think my desire is finally fulfilled we discover a whole new way to eat them. We have had ox tail broth noodles, mushroom broth noodles, and our latest? Not actually a broth at all but a spicy oil.  The kind of oil that makes you sit at attention and thank the neighborhood H mart for having Korean spicy chili powder. 

Ingredients for Chili Oil

2 Tbsp soy sauce
4 grated garlic cloves
2 cups oil - I use canola and sunflower
1/4 cup Korean chili powder -more if you like it very spicy. 
3 Tsp sesame seeds
4 star anise
3 bay leaves- I used fresh but you can use dried
2 Tsp ground coriander
1-1/2 Tsp ground cumin
1/4 Tbsp curry powder
2 Tbsp of ground sichuan peppercorn

How To:

Mix the soy sauce and the garlic together and put aside. In a large pot combine the oils, chili flakes, sesame, star anise, bay leaves, coriander, cumin and curry powder and boil over medium heat . Boil for 3 minutes until the spices darken. This will make the room smell sensational and brighten all the flavors of the spices. Take off the heat immediately and add the peppercorn. Give the peppercorn a few minutes to cook before adding the garlic and soy sauce mixture. When adding liquid to oil expect a bit of a flare up...this is perfectly normal. I like to let my chili oil sit for a few hours before serving but have made it right before and it was fine.  

Ingredients for Soy sauce:

3/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tsp whole sichuan peppercorn
1 Tsp fennel seed
2 star anise
1/2 stick of cinnamon
2 whole cloves
1/3 cup vinegar (Asian black vinegar is the best but I just used what I had)

How to:

Combine all ingredients EXCEPT for the vinegar into a sauce pan. Simmer on low for 15 minutes. Strain all the spices and throw away before adding the vinegar. 

Now that your noodles, oil and soy sauce seasoning are made it is time to sit back and enjoy. 
Asparagus with chili oil and soy sauce seasoning.

Place the desired amount of noodles in a bowl. Add the soy sauce seasoning and then lots and lots of chili oil. We added some asparagus we had lying about and sprinkled with a few more sesame seeds to add a bit of crunch.  
Mushroom with chili oil and soy sauce seasoning.

Are you hungry yet? 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Happiness...Its about balance

Life isn't perfect...and although we wish for the man of our dreams to sweep us off our feet or having the perfect job we seldom have anything that can be remotely described as perfect. Its all about balance. Tonight could be a perfect example. Let's see....after eating chicken strips and fries from Dairy Queen in bed while watching about 5 episodes of Don't trust the B... in apartment 23 I ate a blizzard. Ok so not the healthiest dinner BUT after food coma passed and a 10 minute cat nap I put on my workout clothes and headed to the gym where I participated in a body pump class that is pretty much all squats and lunges. Not only did I "up" my weight this time but afterwards I put on my swimsuit and headed to the pool to do a few laps before returning home- Balance. I believe that a balanced life is a happy one. Work hard but play hard too, isn't that the saying? My saying, "Appreciate the big changes in life but pay attention to the little things that happen." Most of "everyday" experiences lead you to something bigger. Right now I am in the midst (1-1/2 yr process so far) of a divorce, newish relationship that has a 16 year span, daughter graduating college and thinking of opening up a bistro with Cheffy. That is a lot of stress for one individual and yet I feel happy. Yes, I have my bad days and even weeks of bad moments but for the most part I am content and relish on the moments in life which makes me happy.
Some days what makes me happy is a thought, or a special moment, or a kind gesture and then there are those day that nothing makes you happier than something new and fresh and purdy to look at! Today's happy moment is provided by Minted. YUP- my package arrived today and I couldn't be more excited. I am thinking of it as a little early Mother's day present to Me from Meeee. Minted caught my eye because it gathers artist from all over the world and showcases them on one site. The site also holds regular challenges that anyone can enter and win money as well as commission if their item is chosen. Right now they have a photography contest that so far I have not had the courage to sign up for.
 As I remove each photo from the package I sighed with satisfaction...I love my picks. I chose Consegra by Sharon Rowan, Yellow by Smile Peach Love, and Stardown by Amy Carroll and each one came with a little background story of the artist and a certificate of authenticity.
How do you stay balanced? What is your happy?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Pallet project Part 1 - taking apart a pallet.

Not the most artistic person in the world but love making things from nothing. Cleaning up the yard last fall we noticed an abundance of old pallets lying about and decided that reusing them would be a fun project. 

The usual problem I have is getting the old pallets apart without splitting them so I have come up with a (what I think is) genius method.  Yup, I just use one of the 2x4s. Ok maybe not genius but compared to some of the methods you find on the internet this has to be the easiest -I mean who has time to make a pallet separator out of metal or have the strength to use a hammer? 
Basically, I just take the 2x4 and place it under the boards I want to loosen. Make sure it is as close to the board and where it is nailed in as possible. Brace the pallet and slowly push down on the 2x4 causing the other side to lift up. (You are using the other board behind the 2x4 as a support brace.) Don't force it so much that you hear it crack but you will hear creaking sounds. My trick is to start in the center and then go to each side and repeat until the board "pops" off. Of course you're going to lose some of the boards but for the most part the boards will pop off and all that is left is pulling the nails out. Once you have removed most of the boards I will just place an extra piece of wood to use as support when removing the last piece. 
Pretty easy, right?
Wait till you see what we have been working on.

Another trick I have learned? Whenever working on a project always reward yourself for all the work you have done. For us it was a fire, cigar, and some whiskey. Aww the good life.