Monday, August 29, 2011

Salmon Tartare


I was a little bit surprised when looking over my salmon recipes (17 posts!) that I didn’t publish recipe for Salmon Tartare, one of the simplest and fastest way so serve a salmon. There are as many versions of Salmon Tartare as there are cooks. It is pretty much almost-anything-goes with one important exception: just like anything Tartare (basically raw protein) it has to be absolutely fresh. To be on a safe side and also to make it easier to chop I freeze my overnight and then let it partially de-freeze in refrigerator till I can chop it with my cleaver.

 

Ingredients
Salmon fillet, skinless and boneless, about 6 oz.
1 Tbs. capers, chopped
Lemon zest from 1 lemon
Lemon juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 Avocado, chopped
1/4 tsp. coarse sea salt or to taste
Furikake for garnish, optional
Cucumber slices for serving

Slice the fillet into 1/4” slices, place in sandwich bag and freeze overnight. 1 hour before preparing the Tartare, remove salmon from freezer and place in warmest part of refrigerator. Cut the fillet slices into 1/4” julienne and then into 1/4” cubes. Place chopped salmon into mixing bowl.
Add chopped capers, lemon zest, lemon juice, chopped avocado and sea salt.
Mix with fork till well combined.
Serve on slices of cucumber and garnish with Furikake (optional).
This is very quick and healthy snack.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Ratatouille and Pork Sausage.


I had some homemade pork sausage on hand but not enough for meal for 2. I could have used it in a pasta sauce but since I have so many Oriental eggplants I had to incorporate them somehow. Since it is one of ingredients in French Ratatouille I had decided to improvise something new (I have never seen a recipe similar to what I came up with).
Again, there is not much of a detailed recipe.

Preheat oven to 350 °F.

Butter ovenproof dish and spread raw pork sausage, store bought is fine, into 1/2” layer.

Next, lay down row of eggplant, than tomatoes, zucchini, followed by white onions, more tomatoes and more eggplant, all sliced. This is basically layer of Ratatouille. The veggies were seasoned with sea salt and about 2 tsp. of “Herbes de Provence”. (To mix your own “Herbes de Provence” I have included recipe at the end of this post.)


Since it didn’t look like there is enough substance I peeled and sliced Yukon potato and covered vegetables with overlapping potato slices. I lightly salted potatoes and sprinkled olive oil on top. In order for vegetables and meat to heat evenly I covered the top with parchment paper and then aluminum foil. (The paper prevents salt from interacting with aluminum and burn holes in the foil.) Place the dish on baking sheet and bake on middle oven rack for 45 minutes

Right from beginning I was going to top the veggies with slices of Provolone cheese so after 45 minutes raise the temperature to 450 °F, remove dish from oven, remove the foil and paper and cover potato slices with layer of cheese. Put back in oven and bake another 15 minutes or till cheese starts to bubble.


To serve, remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Cut across the rows of vegetables with sharp knife into 2 portions and serve on preheated plates with slices of crusty French baguette.
This is a definite “will-make-again” meal.
Herbes de Provence
Ingredients
2 tablespoons dried savory
2 tablespoons dried rosemary
2 tablespoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons dried basil
2 tablespoons dried marjoram
2 tablespoons dried fennel seed
Directions
In a small mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients together. Store in an air-tight container.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pork Tenderloin Shish-Kebab


In my kitchen one of the best uses for pork tenderloin is kebab with lots of vegetables and grilled on medium hot BBQ. In this version I used flat bamboo skewers (only kind I use lately). As you can see in picture bellow the order of ingredients was pork, smoked bacon, Cremini mushroom, white onion, red pepper and zucchini. This I repeated 3 times, finishing with pork so that veggies will not fall off while turning on the grill.

I grilled them for 3 – 4 minutes on each side for a total of about 15 minutes. Tenderloin becomes very dry if overcooked. During turning is where the flat skewers come so handy. All sides were basted with hickory BBQ sauce and kebab was served with steamed rice, as usual. Also, as I always do when using bamboo skewers, I laid piece of aluminum foil under the exposed ends of skewers to prevent them from burning.
I used only half of pork tenderloin and it was enough for 2 people.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Salmon Tartare


I was a little bit surprised when looking over my salmon recipes (17 posts!) that I didn’t publish recipe for Salmon Tartare, one of the simplest and fastest way so serve a salmon. There are as many versions of Salmon Tartare as there are cooks. It is pretty much almost-anything-goes with one important exception: just like anything Tartare (basically raw protein) it has to be absolutely fresh. To be on a safe side and also to make it easier to chop I freeze my overnight and then let it partially de-freeze in refrigerator till I can chop it with my cleaver.

 
Ingredients
Salmon fillet, skinless and boneless, about 6 oz.
1 Tbs. capers, chopped
Lemon zest from 1 lemon
Lemon juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 Avocado, chopped
1/4 tsp. coarse sea salt or to taste
Furikake for garnish, optional
Cucumber slices for serving

Slice the fillet into 1/4” slices, place in sandwich bag and freeze overnight. 1 hour before preparing the Tartare, remove salmon from freezer and place in warmest part of refrigerator. Cut the fillet slices into 1/4” julienne and then into 1/4” cubes. Place chopped salmon into mixing bowl.
Add chopped capers, lemon zest, lemon juice, chopped avocado and sea salt.
Mix with fork till well combined.
Serve on slices of cucumber and garnish with Furikake (optional).
This is very quick and healthy snack.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Tomato Sauce


I have to admit that until two weeks ago I have never made or tasted pure tomato sauce. I have made hundreds of tomato sauces but they always had at least celery, peppers, onions and garlic in them. This was my very first time that I have made tomato sauce from my very own tomatoes with absolutely nothing else: no salt, sugar, onions, peppers, garlic or any other vegetables. Just tomatoes, slowly simmered for 4 hours (in this case) and then run through the food mill with the finest plate (1/16” holes). What a revelation it was! Mind you, I did make tons of sauces before using store bought tomatoes plus other veggies but since I have never grown paste tomatoes like Roma I had no opportunity to make basic sauce of my own. Now, I am hooked. Right after I have tasted the sauce I started Googling for San Marzano Lungo tomato seeds that have the reputation as the best paste tomato. Yup, I bought some and now my plans for veggie garden is going through some changes, at least in my mind, that is. My plan for next year was for only 3 tomato plants: one of each “Sweet Baby Girl” (cherry), “Magic Mountain (size and shape of large strawberry) and “Margherita” (Roma). Since San Marzano is meatier and dryer than Margherita I have decided to go with 4 Marzano instead and the salad tomatoes stay the same, 1 of each.
There is not recipe here as far as I can see.
Cut tomatoes in half and then half again, put in pot, cover, and start the simmer. Stir tomatoes every so often to help them release juice but keep cooking it covered. After 3 hours I removed the cover (I never used pressure cooker locked cover) and let reduce to fairly thick consistency, stirring more frequently. Never let it burn!
When there is very little liquid visible at surface it is time to run it through food mill. I don’t know about any other substitute for food mill besides China Cap strainer (Chinoise). (Now we are talking hard labor here! I used Chinoise when I went to George Brown College’s culinary arts courses back in 1970’s and we had to make all sauces by hand, no food mills and no food processors, just large Chinoise. It is not fun!)



Food mill removes the seeds and tomato skin.

I started with 4 quarts (4L) of tomatoes that gave me 4 cups (1L) of thick sauce.

Since it was 30 °C outside I have decided to make the sauce on my BBQ side burner so I won’t heat up the house. Unfortunately, the BBQ burner doesn’t have too much of a heat control plus if I run it low the wind can blow off the flame. Compromises. Also, towards the end of making the sauce, when the sauce thickens, it is very easy to burn. Because it is much more likely to burn in thin bottom pot I have decided to use my pressure cooker pot because it has very thick bottom. It all worked like a charm.

When done, you have a great basic tomato sauce to be used for many other sauces.
My first sauce was simple spaghettini sauce where I sautéed onions, eggplants, celery, red pepper, garlic (lot of it), hot pepper flakes and oregano for 15 minutes, added the tomato sauce and simmered for 30 minutes on low. Done, no straining or mashing, I like some texture in this sauce.
It looks like I might buy some Roma tomatoes at our farmer’s market to make some more sauce, it is that good!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Steamed Tripe (Dim Sum)

Tripe Dim Sum_1
If you ask me which is my favorite dim sum dish, I will give you different answer each time. One day it will be Ha Gaau, another Shumai, then maybe Ribs with Dow See but more often it will have to be Steamed Tripe or Phoenix Feet (chicken feet). Steamed Tripe is a dish that is cooked 3 times: boiled, dried and stir fried and then finally steamed. This is one reason that almost no Chinese ever cooks it at home. For me, however, I have no choice: there is no decent Dim Sum joint for about 100Km. Fortunately, I can get a good book tripe just about 40 minutes away. I can get honeycomb tripe in local supermarkets but this is not a tripe to use for this dish.
This is not complicated meal with lots of ingredients but it is time consuming, schedule 2 days if you want to make it.
First, cleaned book tripe is boiled in salted water with ginger and garlic for about 20 minutes, drained and then dried over night in a fridge.
Next day, cut the tripe into small serving pieces and stir fry with chillies and chopped ginger and garlic. Then you place tripe, chillies, ginger and garlic in small serving dishes and stem for about 20 minutes. Three minutes before serving sprinkle with green onions cut diagonally into 1 inch pieces.
Here is very detailed recipe.

Tomato and Green Bean Soup

With Parmigiano Regiano.

I have big load of tomatoes and beans, chicken stock in my pantry and few pounds of real Parmesan cheese. When the hunger pang struck I knew what will chase them away! With chicken stock ready this soup takes just minutes to prepare but I wanted to dress it up a bit, so, out comes my cheese grater. It smelled and looked so great and kind of Summery. When the bowl was almost empty I noticed that now melted Parmesan was not only stuck to my spoon but on the bottom of the bowl as well and it was quite a job to clean the spoon (I use ceramic Chinese spoon only) and the bowl. I do love the taste of hot tomatoes, beans and Parmigiano but next time I will grate it on a baguette toast instead. This way no cheese will end up in the sink.

There isn’t much of a recipe, really: Put stock, chopped beans and tomatoes in sauce pan and boil till beans are soft to your liking and serve J.

Where is the Food?

I have just realized that I didn’t publish any food posts for 3 weeks now! Last post was on July 24th, that’s the longest since I have started blogging. Not that I haven’t cooked anything interesting, I did, but the time is surely at short supply this time of the year.

Anybody who cooks for 2 people knows how hard it is to prepare just enough so that in one week you don’t end up with fridge full of leftovers. Not that there is anything wrong with leftovers, mind you, some leftovers when re-done with other fresh ingredients can be better than the original meal. Take spit roasted whole chicken on BBQ, for example. I grilled one last week, together with grilled carrots, potatoes, onions and long beans. The onions were stuffed in the chicken and whole bird was seasoned inside and out with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and Herbes de Provence and rubbed with olive oil. In 2-1/2 hours of roasting on a rotisserie spit at 350°F the chicken was nice and moist and skin was golden and crisp.


Meal #1:
Roasted chicken leg and wing, potatoes, onions, carrots and beans.
That left rest of the chicken, 1 roasted potato, about ¾ cup of beans and 1 cooked onion.

Meal #2:

Next day all the leftover vegetables and one chicken breast were chopped and mixed with chopped, seeded and drained tomatoes, 2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped pickle (gherkin), pepper and mayo and Dijon to bind it all together. This Chicken Salad  was served with toasted baguette slices and fresh tomatoes. There was enough salad left for a nice light lunch.

Meal #3:

I had 1 chicken breast and meat from around cage left. This went into a pasta bake. I cooked about a cup of pasta shapes (sea shells, again), sautéed 1/2 onion, 2 small eggplants, 6 cherry tomatoes (seeded and squeezed dry) and 2 cloves garlic.
Time to assemble. Coarsely chop the meat and mix it with pasta, onion, eggplant, garlic and tomatoes. Mix in 3 beaten eggs, 1 cup of grated cheese (I used 1/2 cup Provolone and 1/2 cup Parmigiano). Mix till well combined and pour into buttered baking dish. Bake uncovered in 425°F oven till top is crisp and golden brown, about 40 minutes.
This will make supper for 2 plus another 4 meals served at room temperature together with salad and pickles. Of course, it has to be stored in the fridge.


One chicken, 4 days and 7 meals. Not bad J!