Monday, May 21, 2007

One post that is NOT about the &^%$ farmers' market!

Of course, I do realize that being consumed with baking for the market each week is interfering with other cooking and subsequent blogging about said cooking. Cyd's been complaining that I don't make proper dinners anymore, nor do we ever get any dessert for ourselves! There may be some validity to her complaints, but I did make a few things recently that weren't baked in loaf or pie pans. Let me share a sampling of the highlights...

First of all, we are grilling a lot lately, as I'm sure many others are. And I found a killer burger recipe on a blog that I shall not name. The author is Canadian, and though I constantly praise and nearly idolize my lovely neighbors to the north, she often has less than flattering things to say about us! (To put a fine point on it, she calls us "wobbly" and jiggly" and "lethargic." The nerve! Maybe she's got a point, but does she have to say it? How mean!) So I may make some of her recipes (and make myself wobblier and jigglier in the process...tee hee), but I refuse to freely advertise/publicly support her blog. HMPH! (I will now climb down from my soapbox and get on with the recipe which is truly yummy.)

Nameless Canadian Burgers

3 lbs. lean ground beef
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Montreal steak spice (or your favorite grill seasoning)
1 teaspoon anchovy paste (don't be afraid--it won't taste fishy, I mashed up three anchovy fillets instead of the paste which I could not locate in this country)
2 tablespoons BBQ sauce (your favorite kind...I have a wonderfully zesty, maple-based one from Vermont)
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes (or to taste)

1. Combine everything in a large bowl, using your hands.
2. Make into 1/3 lb patties (quarter-pounders are too skimpy but half-pounders are excessive).
3. Grill to desired doneness (I like a trace of pink myself, but to each his/her own).


I also made another lovely dish one night with some seasoned grilled shrimp and a homemade Alfredo sauce. The sauce is actually an infamous "copycat" recipe that mimics Red Lobster's and/or The Olive Garden's Alfredo (the former is a little lighter and uses half-and-half while the latter opts for heavy cream). Purists may balk at the inclusion of cream cheese, but it's mighty tasty regardless!

Pasta Alfredo with Shrimp

Alfredo Sauce:
1 cup half-and-half

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1 tablespoon cream cheese

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly-grated
1 teaspoon granulated garlic

In a saucepan, melt butter. When butter is melted, add the cream cheese. When the cream cheese is softened, add half-and-half and the Parmesan cheese. Add garlic powder and stir well. Simmer this for 15-20 minutes on low. You may wish to season with a little salt and pepper.

While the sauce is simmering, prepare a half pound of the pasta of your choosing (I used pappardelle because I love it so). Also, season your shrimp (about a half pound) with a preferred seasoning blend (lemon pepper is great, Old Bay is a classic, or what have you), then grill them or sear them in a pan with olive oil on the stovetop. Add al dente pappardelle (or fettucine or linguine) to pasta bowls. Ladle some of the Alfredo sauce over the pasta, then top with your seasoned shrimp. Delish!

Also, as promised, I finally managed a version of the amazing salad that I had at the Yellow Porch restaurant in Nashville. This is less a recipe that a methodology and an arrangement, but it will give you the general idea. You start with some torn butter lettuce (Boston/Bibb, or whatever your grocer calls it) and add some shredded radicchio, though we used Treviso (similar to radicchio, but with an elongated shape like endive) because it enchanted us in the store that day. Then you will want some lovely spring radishes, sliced paper thin with a mandoline, or you can even grate them, if you prefer. Next, you should add some bleu cheese crumbles (the best you can afford…I prefer a Danish bleu myself). Then you will want to add some candied bacon. To candy the bacon, cut up a half pound of bacon into big chunks, then fry it until it’s almost as done as you like it. Then add a couple of tablespoons of maple syrup, a tablespoon of brown sugar, and a couple of tablespoons of water. Cook over a low heat until the water has cooked off, and the bacon is covered in sweet, syrupy goodness. Next, you will top the salad with crispy onion strings. I sliced a small onion very thinly, then mixed up a tempura batter of sorts (half a cup self-rising flour, some seasonings like granulated garlic, salt, pepper, and cayenne, and a half cup—or more—of ice water). I tossed the onion pieces in the tempura, then fried them in vegetable oil until golden brown. And then you should encircle the whole affair with some quartered, hard-cooked eggs. Finally, the salad should be dressed with a champagne vinaigrette, but as I did not have any champagne vinegar, I made my dressing out of white balsamic. I minced up a few cloves of garlic with a little coarse salt and black pepper. I added a tablespoon of whole-grained mustard, and equal parts white balsamic vinegar and EVOO (maybe a third of cup each?). I mixed it all up in the blender to emulsify it without having to whisk forever, and that was that. Honestly, I may never want another type of salad ever again. This is my hands-down favorite. It just has an incredible balance of flavors—the spiciness of the radishes and radicchio, the sweetness of the butter lettuce and the candied bacon, the crispiness and flavor of the onions, the richness of the eggs, the bite of the bleu cheese, and the tang of the dressing. It just comes together in an amazing way. You should try it, and you might consider making it your dinner, as it’s definitely hearty enough on its own.

And finally, I did bake a sweet treat for myself (and for my trivia team) lately that was worth blogging about. I saw these on The Smitten Kitchen, and I knew I had to try them! I don’t drink, with the exception of a one or two margaritas semi-annually, so these little cookies are right up my alley. They really do taste like a margarita...how fun!




















Margarita Cookies
(Source:
http://www.smittenkitchen.com/, adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Sabl├ęs au Citron)
Makes about 50 cookies

2 sticks (8 ounces; 230 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (70 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons tequila (I didn’t have any on hand—I told you, I don’t drink!—so I substituted fresh lime juice)
Grated zest of 2 limes
Grated zest of half an orange
2 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour

Coating:

Approximately 1/2 cup clear sanding or other coarse sugar (regular sugar will work, too—it just won’t look as pretty)
2 teaspoons flaky Maldon sea salt (if you are going to swap out kosher salt or coarse sea salt as I did, cut this by half, or even less than one teaspoon or the cookies will end up WAY too salty!)

1. Put the butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat at medium speed until it is smooth. Add the sifted confectioners’ sugar and beat again until the mixture is smooth and silky. Beat in 1 of the egg yolks, followed by the salt, tequila, grated lime and orange zest. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, beating just until it disappears. It is better to underbeat than overbeat at this point; if the flour isn’t fully incorporated, that’s OK—just blend in whatever remaining flour needs blending with a rubber spatula. Turn the dough out onto a counter, gather it into a ball, and divide it in half. Wrap each piece of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

2. Working on a smooth surface, form each piece of dough into a log that is about 1 to 1 1/4 inches (2.5 to 3.2 cm) thick. (Get the thickness right, and the length you end up with will be fine.) Wrap the logs in plastic and chill for 2 hours. (The dough can be wrapped airtight and kept refrigerated for up to 3 days or stored in the freezer for up to 1 month.)

3. Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (I used Silpats).

4. While the oven is preheating, work on the sugar coating: Whisk the remaining egg yolk in a small bowl until it is smooth and liquid enough to use as a glaze. Mix the coarse sugar and flaky salt well and spread the mixture out on a piece of wax paper. Remove the logs of dough from the refrigerator, unwrap them, and brush them lightly with a little egg yolk. Roll the logs in the sugar, pressing the sugar/salt mixture gently to get it to stick if necessary, then, using a sharp slender knife, slice each log into cookies about 1/4 inch (7 mm) thick. (Note: To get the sugar/salt mixture to stick better, you can move the log over to a piece of plastic wrap, and in the sort of technique you’d see a sushi chef use to shape a roll, use the plastic to press the sugar in by wrapping it tightly.) You can make the cookies thicker if you’d like; just bake them longer. Place the cookies on the lined baking sheets, leaving about 1/2 inch (1.5 cm) space between them.

5. Bake the cookies for 12 to 14 minutes, or until they are set but not browned. (It’s fine if the yolk-brushed edges brown a smidgen.) Transfer the cookies to cooling racks to cool to room temperature.

Keeping: Packed airtight, the cookies will keep for about 5 days at room temperature. Because the sugar coating will melt, these cookies are not suitable for freezing.



1 comment:

Randi said...

I really hate when Canadians trash Americans. You should see some ppl's face when they do it in front of me and then find out I'm American. I was once buying some candles and I asked where they were made( because Candles made in China suck) and the sales girl said" Unfortunatly, they were made in America. Oooooo, that pissed me right off and I tore her a new one. That salad looks yummy. I can mail you some anchovy paste when I come across some.