Sunday, January 19, 2014

Striped Sea Bass with Roasted Vegetables, Wheat Berries and Carrot Puree

This week’s theme is ‘ingredients you hated as a kid’ so basically vegetable week. I always hated carrots above all other vegetables, until I discovered that you could roast them and make them delicious. Or braisem the in red wine, that’s always a winner. I added some other kid-hated foods to round out the meal, brussels sprouts and fish, which apparently a lot of kids hate but I always loved fish and my mom never actually cooked brussels sprouts until recently. I wanted to make this with farro, but the supermarket was out so I saw these wheat berries and figured why not. Can’t say I’m a fan of them myself, but I wanted to try something different.

Carrot Puree
1 lb. carrots
1 cup white wine
2 shallots, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice

Roast the carrots at 400°F for 40 minutes. Add to a food processor along with all the other ingredients except for the salt, pepper and water. Process to a puree and pour in water as needed to get your desired consistency.

Roasted Vegetables
Brussels Sprouts
Bacon fat
Duck fat
Salt and pepper

Cut the brussels sprouts in half and remove the outer leaves. Toss with bacon fat, and season with salt and pepper and place in a baking pan. Lay some thyme on top – I would have thrown a clove of garlic in there, but I was all out (a culinary sin, I know).

Clean the carrots off and toss with duck fat, salt and pepper. Place in a separate baking dish along with rosemary and garlic if you want.

Roast the carrots at 425°F for 45 minutes, flipping halfway through. Roast the brussel sprouts at 425°F for 25 minutes. Discard herbs.

Wheat Berries
½ cup pre-steamed wheat berries
1 ¼ cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

This is for pre-steamed wheat berries which cook quicker than the plain jane ones – I think those take an hour and a half or so. These are easy though – bring your stock to a boil, add some salt and add in the wheat berries. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. They will be a little chewy, but tender. Strain, then toss with lemon juice and olive oil.

Striped sea bass filets
Olive oil

Cut slits across the skin of the sea bass so that the skin will not curl up when cooking. Season with salt and pepper on both sides, making sure to rub some in the slits.

Heat a pan over medium high, and add olive oil. Cook the filets starting skin side down, for 3 to 4 minutes, then flip and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes until cooked through. Times will vary depending on the thickness of your filet – if you do this with a very thick fish you may want to finish it in the oven.

Place a spoonful of carrot puree on the plate and drag a spoon through it to get that neat swoosh looking effect. Place vegetables on top, then place the wheat berries in the empty part of the plate and lean the fish on top.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Buttermilk Pot Roast

This one pot meal is a good simple meal when you have time to let meat cook all afternoon. It's about 20 minutes of prep, and then sticking everything in the oven for 2.5 hours. This is my adaptation of a Taste of Home recipe: This recipe makes 6 servings.

Buttermilk Pot Roast:
Bacon grease or vegetable oil
1 boneless chuck roast (3.5 lbs)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
¼ cup red wine or sherry
6 medium yukon gold potatoes
6 carrots, peeled
8 small boiler onions or shallots
2 leeks
1 cup buttermilk
2 beef bouillon cubes
2 sprigs rosemary
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons paprika
Salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Cut the potatoes in half (if you’re using something russets, peel and the cut into pieces), peel and cut the carrots into pieces, peel and halve the onions, removing the stem and root ends as well. Wash the leeks and slice into pieces.

Heat a dutch oven over medium high and add in a spoonful of bacon grease. Brown the meat on all sides except for the fat cap. Remove  the meat and rub with salt and pepper and Dijon mustard.

Meanwhile, lower the heat in the dutch oven (I actually dropped it to low, since it was already very hot) and add in the red wine or sherry to deglaze, scraping the pot with a wooden spoon to free up all the stuck on frond from the meat. Reduce the liquid by half, turning the heat up to medium if you think you need to.

Add the buttermilk, bouillon, rosemary, garlic and onion powder and paprika and a little salt and pepper. Place the roast on top (I put the fat side up) and place all the vegetables around it.

Cover and place in the oven for 2 ¼ to 2 ¾ hours, until the meat is tender.

Remove the meat and let rest on a platter for at least 5 minutes before slicing. Remove the vegetables as well (you may want to use a strainer, your call). Bring the liquid (since we’re not thickening it with, I think this technically counts as a jus) to a simmer on the stove and reduce to 1 cup. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the meat, potatoes and carrots/onions and pour some jus on top.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Bigos - Polish Hunters Stew

This week’s cooking challenge is Polish food, which I know nothing about. Luckily, the internet exists, so I grabbed a recipe from Simply Recipes for a Polish stew called Bigos. Most recipes call for dried porcini mushrooms, but I ended up using some beech, hedgehog, crimini and shitake that were at my vegetable store. Also, if you can find refrigerated sauerkraut, you should use that instead of the canned stuff. If you do need to use sauerkraut from the can, rinse it to remove the vinegary taste.

Typically this recipe uses prunes as well, but I opted to leave those out. You should add them for the last 30 minutes of cooking if you want to use them. There’s also a version using tomato sauce instead of wine.

2 tbsp bacon fat
1 onion, chopped
1 head cabbage (the regular stuff, not red or savoy), chopped
1 lb. mixed fresh mushrooms
1 lb. smoked kielbasa
2 lb. fresh kielbasa
1 smoked ham hock
25 ounce jar of fresh sauerkraut
12 ounces red wine
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp caraway seeds
2 tbsp dried marjoram

Wash the sauerkraut if need be, wash and chop the mushrooms, and cut the kielbasa into pieces.

In a very large pan (I started using a 5 qt dutch oven, but ended up moving everything to my stock pot), melt the bacon grease over medium heat then add the onion and fresh cabbage and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the cabbage is soft. Salt the cabbage while it cooks. Remove the cabbage and onions and set aside.

Add the mushrooms and a little salt so they release their liquid. Once their water is nearly gone, add back in the cabbage and onion, along with all the keilbassa, the ham hock, the sauerkraut, the red wine, and the pepper/caraway/marjoram and some salt.

You’ll notice that there’s very little liquid compared to other stews – Bigos is called a dry stew, and the ingredients will release a lot of liquid as the stew cooks.

Bring the mixture to a simmer, cover and cook on low for 2 hours.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Arzak Eggs with Mushrooms and Polenta

This is a bit fancier than I usually get at breakfast time, but this is a pretty easy dish if you have leftover polenta you’re looking for a use for. The egg technique comes from Juan Mari Arzak, head chef of Spain’s famous Arzak restaurant.

Polenta and Mushrooms:
1 cup uncooked polenta
3 cups water
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons butter, divided
Crimini mushrooms, chopped

Bring the water to a simmer in a pot and slowly add the polenta, stirring to incorporate. Add in the salt and rosemary. Turn the heat to low and cook for half an hour, stirring frequently, until the polenta is very thick. Place the polenta into an 8”x8” baking dish lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

Cut the polenta into 4 pieces. Heat a frying pan over medium and add the butter. Add the polenta and cook for about 3 minutes per side.

In a separate pan, melt some butter and add the chopped mushrooms. Mine were in smaller pieces so they only took about 5 minutes total to cook. Salt the mushrooms while they’re cooking to help release their water.

4 eggs
Extra virgin olive oil
1.5 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

Line 4 ramekins with plastic wrap so that there is some overhang. Add a little olive oil, then crack an egg into each piece of plastic. Add a little salt, pepper, and thyme to each egg. Bring the ends of the plastic together to create a bundle. Tie a piece of kitchen twine around each bundle. Tie the other end of the twine to a wooden spoon.

Bring a large pot of water up to a simmer. Add the egg bundles, balancing the wooden spoon on the top of the pot. Let simmer for 4 minutes – you can remove the bundles from water and poke the plastic to check if they’re cooked through.

Serve the mushrooms and eggs on top of the polenta, and grate some parmesan cheese on there for good measure.