Thursday, April 30, 2009

rosemary lamb steak

There is a greek owned market near our house where I discovered a great new cut of lamb- the leg steak. Perfect for grilling or the broiler, the meat is as delicious as leg of lamb, without all the work. I've been on a kick using lots of fresh herbs lately so this one's got lots of rosemary.

2 lamb steaks
bunch fresh rosemary, finely chopped about 1 cup
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 c. olive oil
salt & pepper

Rinse & pat steaks dry; place in a shallow pan. Pour olive oil over steaks and add rosemary & garlic. Shuffle & turn the steaks around in the pan until they're evenly coated with oil & herbs. Sprinkle both sides generously with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Cover & refrigerate 1-2 hours. Grill or broil, about 3 minutes each side, basting frequently with the extra marinade. I like med-rare, but check after 2 minutes to gauge timing, because it varies according to thickness.

1 c. rice, or orzo
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 c. chicken broth, or water is fine
olive oil
fresh parsley
fresh mint
salt & pepper
pita bread

(**for orzo, follow adjust cook time to 8 minutes) In a small pot, add a dash of olive oil and the chopped onion. Simmer low until soft. Add rice, stir to blend, then add chicken broth or water & stir. Cover and cook low 20 minutes. Turn off burner & add olive oil, mint, parsley, salt, pepper & blend. Serve with lamb and warm pita bread.

striped bass with fennel tomato buerre blanc

terrine de campagne

Friday, April 3, 2009

salt-baked branzino

you couldn't tell, but this is the easiest fish prep i've tried- and the results are amazing! in italy they'll bring a tray with a foot-high mound of sea salt to your table; i've cut that down in size and it still melts in your mouth. to serve, i lifted out the filets and made black rice, below pic.

1-2 lb whole branzino , cleaned, head & tail intact *or similar sea bass 
1 egg white per lb of fish
coarse sea salt or kosher salt (*no additives: iodine stops salt from caking)
1 lemon, sliced in rounds
2 garlic cloves, smashed
fresh parsley sprigs
olive oil
*(you'll need 1 baking sheet w/ parchment paper, or foil on top)

Preheat oven to 400. Place egg whites in a bowl and whip until foamy. Add salt and fold in until it's like the texture of wet sand. Spread enough wet salt across your foil or parchment paper to lay the fish on. Rinse fish, pat dry, and lay on top of the salt on the baking sheet.  Put the lemon slices, parsley sprigs, and garlic in the front cavity (ok if it sticks out). Use a wooden spoon, or your hands if you like, firmly pat the salt mixture to cover the fish completely ( this seals in the moisture). I had some grape tomatoe sand tossed those on. Bake in the middle of the oven 15 minutes. (you can move it under the broiler for another 30 seconds so the crust browns a little.) Let cool for a minute, then crack salt shell, and serve with a little extra chopped parsley, olive oil, and a wedge of lemon  ;-)

orange fennel salad

1 fennel bulb, sliced thin
1 bunch watercress, stalks removed
1 navel orange, 1/2 segment supremes, 1/2 juice
lemon juice
olive oil
salt & pepper

navarin du printemps

farfalle all'alfredo e rucola

this is really just a great cream sauce. you can add whatever vegetables you like; spinach, peas, asparagus all work well. I like the emphasis on greens for spring and went a step further with spinach farfalle pasta- delicious!

1/2 lb spinach pasta, farfalle, fettucine- any shape
2 c. (large handful) greens- arugula, mesclun...
1 c. cremini mushrooms, quartered
3 T fresh chives, chopped
2 lg garlic cloves, crushed
4-6 oz goat cheese
3/4 c. cream
1/3 c. fresh grated parmesan
2 T unsalted butter
2 T olive oil
pinch of flour, 1/2 teas.
salt & pepper

Start a large pot of salted boiling water for the pasta. Heat oil in a large, deep skillet and cook the garlic 1 minute; add the greens and saute until just wilted. Set aside in a sml bowl. Reduce the heat to low and add the butter and mushrooms. Before it starts to brown, add the cream, & season with salt and pepper. Add a pinch of flour to thicken slightly, then stir in the goat cheese. When the pasta is al dente, drain and add to the alfredo sauce. Toss gently, adding the wilted greens, chives and parmesan. Grate fresh ground black pepper on top & serve.

newport clam chowder

when you're from rhode island, ordering clam chowder is almost always a disappointment.  unless you're at the black pearl on bowen's wharf in newport...this is the ultimate chowder. for the full experience, you'll need a hot dog and a cold beer on the side.

**tip: fresh clams have a tablespoon or more of delicious juice released when they open. this is really important for the stock- do not let them open in cleaning. just scrub the outside shells well under cold water and place in a bowl of ice water until they're ready to cook.

2 slices bacon
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, diced
1 lb mix red bliss/ yukon gold potatoes, diced
2 8oz bottles clam juice
2 lbs fresh littleneck clams
1 c whole milk
1/2 c heavy cream
1/2 c fresh dill, finely chopped
salt & pepper

In a deep pot, cook the bacon until seared but not crisp. Break up the bacon into pieces with a fork. Add the onion, butter and cook until soft but not browned. Add the clam juice & potatoes; simmer for 30 minutes or until potatoes pierce easily with a fork.  Turn up the heat to boiling and pour in all the clams. You want the clams to open into the stock to get the juices, but make sure they don't overcook (because the timing varies, I keep a bowl on the side and watch them closely- as soon as each clam starts to open, I pull it out and set aside in a bowl). When all the clams have opened, turn the heat on the stock to low; add the milk, cream, and dill. Stir gently until blended. Just before serving, add the clams back into the chowder (I leave half in the shells and chop the other half). Season with salt & fresh black pepper and serve ;-)

spaghetti cacio e pepe

a true roman classico. no baloney. this dish is so easy, you'll wonder why you've been sweating in the kitchen when you could be sipping wine on the terraza, italian style.
1/2 lb spaghetti, 'De Cecco'
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil, good quality
1 c. fresh grated Pecorino Romano cheese
3 T. coarsely ground black pepper
Sea salt

Boil water for the pasta with 2 Tablespoons of salt. Cook pasta al dente, stir to prevent sticking. Drain the water, making sure to save enough cooking water in the pot to coat the spaghetti. Add the olive oil, romano, black pepper and toss to blend. Basta!@
This is great with a simple salad of arugula, olive oil and fresh lemon juice.

poule au pot

3 lb whole chicken, or 4 whole legs
3 sml onions, peeled & quartered
6 sml potatoes, quartered
2 lg carrots, peeled & chopped coarsely
1/3 c. olive oil
1 c. chicken broth, homemade or low sodium
1 c. dry vermouth (or white wine)
2 heads garlic, cloves seperated, not peeled
1 bay leaf
1 lemon, grated zest only
1/2 c. fresh herbs: parsley, thyme, tarragon
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400. Rinse chicken in cold water & pat dry with paper towels. Heat 2 T olive oil in a deep non-stick pan. Lightly brown chicken on all sides while seasoning inside & out with salt & pepper. In a separate oven-proof pot (dutch oven) over med-high heat, put the remaining oil, crushed garlic, lemon, herbs, and vegetables and saute 2-3 minutes. Add the vermouth and bring to a quick boil. Turn off the heat, tuck the chicken into the pot of vegetables, then add the chicken broth, remaining garlic cloves, and cover with a lid. Transfer to the oven and bake 45 minutes, removing lid for the last 15 minutes. It's ready when juices at the thigh are clear when pierced with a knife. Season with salt & pepper and an extra pinch of fresh chopped parsley. Serve right from the pot into large bowls with lots of broth, and warm french bread.