Tuesday, September 30, 2008

BakeSpace Challenge #6 - 6 Ingredient Entree

Mission: Utilize 6 Ingredients in a dish; These being:
Parmesan cheese
Solution: Stuffed Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin....

1 Tb Olive oil
1/2 of a sweet onion, finely minced
4 oz of Crimini mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup Pinot Grigio
4 oz roughly chopped fresh spinach
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Fresh Ground Pepper
3 TB Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese; Shredded or Grated
1 1/2 TB Sun dried tomatoes in oil; chopped - Reserve the oil
2 Pork Tenderloins (This is about 2 -2.25 lbs)
For rub
3 TB each Fresh Minced Rosemary, Thyme, Sage (or 4 tsp each if Dried)
2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 tsp black Pepper
Sun Dried Tomato oil for rubbing

Saute onion and mushrooms in a skillet over medium heat in a little olive oil until the mushrooms give up their juices.
Deglaze the pan with white wine.
Add spinach and cover to allow it to steam for about 1 minute.
Remove lid and sprinkle with salt and pepper
Continue cooking another 3-5 minutes of cooking to dry filling out.
Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Butterfly the tenderloin.
Mix Tomatoes and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Place 1/2 of the filling in each tenderloin.
Roll up and tie
Mix herbs with salt and pepper
Rub tenderloins with oil from the sun dried tomatoes.
Roll tenderloins in herbs.
Cover tightly with plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Now you have 2 choices.
Either bake for 50 minutes in the 400 degree oven until internal temp reaches 143 -or-
Sear tenderloin on all sides until brown in a hot skillet with more of the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes.
Finish in the 400 degree oven for 15 -20 minutes, or until temp reaches 143.

Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing on the bias...


Monday, September 15, 2008

BakeSpace Challenge #5 - Presidential Recipes

Mission: Presidential Recipe, or favorite food of President

Solution: Abraham Lincoln and his love of oysters

This was a no-brainer for me... Well, at least the IDEA was a no-brainer... Finding decent oysters in San Diego? That proved to be a little more difficult. Now mind you, being from the Pacific Northwest, not just any oyster will do, since I spent my childhood and first part of my adult life being spoiled on the lovely Olympia Oysters coming from Yaquina Bay on the Oregon coast, or shipped down from Hood's Canal in the Puget Sound in Washington. I DID succeed in finding these tiny little mollusks of delectableness, but I had to wait until a shipment came in from Hood's Canal.

Abraham Lincoln was said to not eat that much. That is unless being served oysters, and then he could not get enough.
In the interest of keeping with the theme of "Honest Abe" I present to you, an honest oyster. Simple, uncluttered by Rockafeller and shooter of cocktail sauce. Granted I could have served them raw, but I tend to reserve that for a restaurant just in case. Here they are simply baked in the shell and served with a little UN-salted butter.
And honest mollusk without a lot of flash, but quite delicious.

Here is a picture of my little beauties prior to their exposure to a 500 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Yep, that's right.... Only 10 minutes in an extremely hot oven... They cook in their own liquor and are absolutely divine.
Please line your pan with aluminum foil, as any liquor that leaks out during cooking will pretty much destroy your pan at 500 degrees. Shown is my Oyster knife... Nothing fancy.. Cost me 7 bucks... The only issue I have with it is that the tip is not bent... A bent tip actually makes it easier to get into the oyster's shell...

How delicious does THIS one look... YUM!

As I said, 500 degrees 10 minutes this is the result after shucking.
Sorry I did not provide a play by play of prying the flat top off the oyster, but that is hard to do when there isn't a second person taking pictures. What is THAT delicious looking thing on my plate beside the oysters... Well, THAT my friend in as lovely Crashed Hot Potato, granted I took a few liberties of my own, adding a little homemade pesto, pine nuts and Parmagiano-Reggiano to it. But it was a perfect accompaniment with the Prosecco...

I highly suggest really good Italian Prosecco, not quite as bubbly as Champagne or Asti, the flavor tends to heighten the flavor of the oysters... I don't mean in a mollusk sort of way, but more of an eating the whole entire sea sort of way... If you have ever had GOOD Sea Urchin as a sushi restaurant, this is the type of flavor Nirvana I am talking about.

At the risk of switching this challenge over from recipes of presidents to those of classic novels, after I saw the carnage left over from my feast, I really felt like the Walrus and the Carpenter from Alice in Wonderland.

"I weep for you," the Walrus said:
"I deeply sympathize."
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.

"O Oysters," said the Carpenter,
"You've had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?
'But answer came there none—
And this was scarcely odd, because
They'd eaten every one.

Monday, September 8, 2008

A Plethora of Pizza

I love pizza … Heck who doesn’t? Especially h o m e m a d e pizza….
Yeah now THAT’S what I am talkin bout!! Super thin, crisp and slightly charred on the bottom. With JUST the right amount of cheese, not enough to throw you into a pizza coma like so much Thanksgiving dinner.

I had decided that it might me fun to throw a little pizza party for my godson in Palm Springs since he is getting old enough to seriously get his hands dirty in the kitchen without the constant worry of hot pots and sharp knives in little hands. So since I was going out to visit one weekend, I made a double batch of dough (see Roasted Potato and Pancetta Pizza) and headed to the desert with my peel, stone, cornmeal and a million toppings so everyone could make their version of the ultimate pizza.

OK, now something that had not occurred to me, since I am usually the one making the pizza FOR people… When you have 5 people all making pizza, it creates a HUGE mess that must be cleaned up. HA!

Everyone has an absolute blast though. Sam, in particular, enjoyed himself immensely, especially the pressing out of the dough.

I was so busy shoveling pizza in and out of the oven that I only got 1 picture of an actual BAKED pizza resting on one of Steph's Pampered Chef stones to cool slightly before cutting.

This was Andy's pizza (above) - Red sauce, pepperoni, Salami, Mushroom, and Black olive; With Fresh Mozzarella and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Sam constructed his pizza with Red Sauce, Salami, Pepperoni, Mushrooms, Black Olives, 1 Basil leaf and Parmigiano-Reggiano - With some Herbes de Provence sprinkled on top... (Gourmet Child I must say)

While his father, Alex, went the Hawaiian route with Red Sauce, Ham, Pepperoni and Pineapple with Shredded Dry Mozzarella.

Stephanie, ever daring and always the individual, was the only pesto'ed pizza. Pesto genovese, Tomato, Salami, Mushrooms, Black Olive, Basil leaf, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino Romano and Fresh Mozzarella with Pine Nuts.

While I stayed within my flavor range with only slight enhancements spurred by Stephanie's reckless abandon with her toppings. Olive Oil, Tomato, Mushroom, Basil and Fresh Mozzarella with a sprinkle of Pine Nuts and a touch of Pecorino Romano, lots of Cracked Black Pepper and a tiny sprinkle of Smoked Salt.

I love getting Sam involved in cooking at such an early age. Showing him how easy it really is. He is always so proud of himself while he is eating it. It gives him a sense of accomplishment. I love creating memorable childhood moments for him. If a little self confidence comes along with that, then so much the better.

I hope he will cherish these times as I do my own memories of my grandmother and mom and the fantastic smells and flavors that issued forth from the kitchen. Getting involved in things like cutting sugar cookies, decorating gingerbread houses at Christmas, rolling meatballs, making cinnamon ornaments, spooning divinity onto wax paper as quickly as possible before it dried rock hard and crosshatching the peanut butter cookies with a fork.

Those are some of my most vivid childhood memories; those spent with loved ones in the kitchen… I don’t see my godson as often as I would like. He lives 2 ½ - 3 hours away now that I have had to move back to San Diego. So when I get to visit, it MUST be a quality visit.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Food Forward - Pasta Carbonara

OK, after the labor day holiday BBQ's it is time to revisit the pancetta in my refrigerator, sitting there, lonely and forelorn after being ignored for 24 hours. This is my GoTo Pasta Recipe, some make Classic Tomato Sauce Spaghetti, I make Linguine alla Carbonara (which means Carbon or Coal in Italian), a classic Roman tossed pasta dish of pancetta, eggs, lemon juice, white wine and Pecorino Romano with lots and lots of cracked black pepper, being the "coal" or "carbon".

3-4 oz Pancetta, small cube (You can use bacon if you like)
Kosher salt
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper (Lots and lots of Black Pepper)
16 oz Spaghetti or Linguini (Although all I had this evening was Bucatini)
1 Large egg
3 Large egg yolk
1/3 cup White Wine (Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc)
4 oz Pecorino Romano, finely grated
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
6 Sprigs of flat leafed parsley, 3 chopped fine and 3 chopped coarse
Extra Virgin Olive oil

Fill a large kettle with water and bring to a boil with the cover on.
Heat some Extra Virgin Olive oil in a frying pan.
In a bowl place egg, egg yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, fine chopped parsley and 2 oz of the Pecorino; whisk well.

Liberally salt the boiling water and drop the pasta; stir to coat so pasta cooks evenly, Re-cover for about 1-2 minutes to allow the water to come back to a boil, then uncover again.
Add the pancetta to the pan and sauté until crispy.

Deglaze the pan with a 1/3 cup wine scraping the fond from the bottom of the pan.
Let wine reduce slightly too about 1/4 cup.
Remove from heat and mix in a lot of freshly ground pepper.
When the pasta is al dente remove 1/4 cup of the cooking water, drain the pasta and add to the bowl along with the wine reduction and toss twice to coat the pasta and incorporate the pancetta.

Add the egg mixture and 1/2 of the remaining Pecorino Romano to the bowl and toss quickly and thoroughly.
The retained heat of the pasta will cook the eggs and thicken the sauce.
If the sauce becomes too ‘thick’ then add some of the reserved cooking water until it becomes smooth and silky.
Sprinkle over the rest of the Pecorino and coarsely chopped Parsley

Serve immediately with a light sprinkle of the remaining Pecorino Romano!

Romano Cheese on Foodista