Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Roasted Pineapple with Honey & Pistachios

Roasted Pineapple with Honey & Pistachios
Serves: 4

Roasted Pineapple with Honey & Pistachios 
Caramelized pineapple with a honey-orange glaze makes for an elegant and memorable summer dessert. Roasting or grilling fresh pineapple is a great way to boost the flavor. I will be describing a wedge cut of the pineapple served alongside crème fraiche, (or Greek yogurt) with pistachios for crunch. One could also cut pineapple rounds, roast similarly but watch your timing depending on size of pineapple, and use as a base for scoops of vanilla ice cream or sorbet.
  • ½ C (packed) dark brown sugar
  • ½ C fresh orange juice
  • 3 Tb honey
  • 1 medium ripe pineapple, peeled, cored, cut lengthwise into 8 wedges
  • ¼ C crème fraiche or yogurt
  • ¼ C natural unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tb torn fresh mint leaves (optional garnish)

The most important ingredient!!
Preheat your oven to 450 degree F.  Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Stir together ½ C (packed) dark brown sugar, ½ C fresh orange juice and 3 Tb honey in a large bowl until sugar dissolves. Add your prepared pineapple; toss to coat. Let it marinate, tossing occasionally, for 20 minutes. Place pineapple, one flat side down, on prepared sheet; reserve marinade.

Pineapple slices in the marinade
Roast the pineapple for 15 minutes – less time if grilling on barbeque. Turn, brush with marinade, and roast until tender and caramelized, 10-15 minutes more. Drizzle remaining marinade over; let cool slightly.  I love to serve it warm, not hot but it is also great at room temperature.

To serve, divide pineapple among 4 plates.  Spoon crème fraiche or yogurt alongside. Sprinkle with nuts and garnish with mint if desired. 

Fresh pistachios....sprinkle these liberally
Heavenly! And healthy!


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Reprise--Salad for Dinner with Duck Confit

Hi all. I posted this recipe last year, but have now done it again with MUCH better pics (after taking some food photo classes). Hope you enjoy!

Salad for Dinner with Duck Confit
Before you run for the hills – this can be super easy and a simple mid-week tasty, elegant and quick meal.  Of course you could make it more time consuming with an authentic gourmet approach and make the duck confit from scratch. But, it is available in so many places and so delicious that for the quick mid-week meal, I recommend just using store or restaurant purchased duck confit.  
Duck confit, like bacon, mixes beautifully with bitter greens – feel free to grab your favorite greens – add the crunch of sliced almonds, olives and light garlic vinaigrette. Sublime!  For that final optional touch – throw a poached egg on top. Eggs are the perfect food…truly a gastronomic miracle…with its ready-made sauce of creamy richness. I add a poached or fried egg to many dishes to give it that extra oomph.

Ingredients (for four)
  • ½ C sliced almonds                                       
  • 1 C pitted oil-cured olives – not too strong
  • 4 legs duck confit                                           
  • ½ C roughly chopped roasted red peppers
  • 2 med heads frisee, cleaned & chopped       
  • Roasted Garlic vinaigrette (below)
  • Watercress, Pea Shoots or Mache (3 C)            
  • Kosher Salt & freshly ground pepper
  • ½ C chopped Romaine or other firm greens  
  • 4 Eggs (optional)
  • 2-3 Tb white vinegar

First step: toast the almonds. This can, of course, be done well in advance – pop them on sheet, put into a 350 degree F oven for 4-6 minutes until lightly toasted. Remove and allow them to cool.
Untoasted almonds 
Toasted almonds
Pull the skin and obvious fat off the 4 duck confit legs – in large pieces if possible.  Pull the meat from the legs and shred it. Heat a nonstick pan over LOW heat.  Add the skin and fat – cook slowly – should take 25-30 minutes, flipping a few times, in order to render the fat and brown the skin…keep the heat low or it will burn. Once done, set the skin aside – save the rendered duck fat for another day. (I freeze it – and use a little occasionally with a variety of vegetables – great flavor!) Add the shredded duck meat to the same pan and gently warm for a few minutes while making the salad.
Duck confit leg
Fried duck skin
Shredded duck
Fill a saucepan with 6-8” water, bring to a bowl. Add 2-3 Tb white vinegar to the boiling water and reduce heat to a gentle simmer while getting the salad ready. Put frisee, watercress or mache and other greens in a large salad bowl. Drizzle enough Garlic Vinaigrette around the sides of the bowl. Then, gently, lift the greens to coat in dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add chopped red peppers, olives and most of the almonds. (Reserve a handful). Toss gently to combine.
Frisee....almost looks like a flower!
Pea shoots
The greens mixed together to show the proportions
Now for the egg! Break one egg into a small bowl or ramekin. Using a wooden spoon, stir the simmering water at the edge of the saucepan to create a whirlpool. Drop egg into the middle of the whirlpool. Start your timer. In 2 minutes gently remove your poached egg with a slotted spoon. Quickly drop the spoon into a bowl of ice water for a few seconds to stop the cooking. Remove and place the egg on a bed of paper towels to soak up excess water. Remove any remaining eggs whites from the water before adding subsequent eggs. Repeat for each one, allowing the water to resume the simmer. Create the whirlpool before each addition.

Arrange half the salad on a platter or distribute onto dinner plates. Top with about half the warm duck confit. Layer with the remaining greens and duck. Sprinkle the salad with reserved almonds and chopped fried duck skins. Finally, add the poached egg to the middle and serve immediately.
Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette:  Whisk together ¼ C champagne vinegar with 1 ½ Tb roasted garlic puree. While whisking, slowly add ¾ C extra virgin olive oil. This will make about twice more than is needed but can be refrigerated in a closed container for up to two weeks for use on other salads.

I began with a recipe from “Ad Hoc at Home” – the fabulous cookbook by Thomas Keller and have modified...different types of lettuce, poached egg, and a few other odds and ends. This might appear daunting at first, but once you get the duck confit and review your timing – it truly is an easy mid-week meal. I hope you will give it a go – it is a spectacular and scrumptious meal. 


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Poached Salmon with Peas and Morels

Poached Salmon with Peas and Morels
Serves 2
The second poached salmon recipe once again highlights the salmon and dresses it up by adding a simple yet luxurious sauce. Salmon is an amazingly simple and scrumptious quick meal. I especially love fresh wild king salmon, although you could use any of your favorite sustainable salmon varieties. See the Poached Salmon with Tarragon Sauce & Fingerling Potatoes post for more information on the attributes and storage of salmon.
  • ·      Two 6-8 oz center-cut salmon fillet, about 1½” thick, with skin
  •     1 C dry white wine
  •         2 Tb kosher salt
  •     3 Tb unsalted butter 
  •     4 oz fresh morels; sliced, stemmed shiitake; or other fresh mushroom 
  •     ½ C salmon poaching liquid 
  •     ½ C  shelled fresh (or frozen, thawed) peas
  •     ¼ - ½ C heavy cream 
  •     2 Tb chopped chives or pea tendrils 
The first step is to poach the salmon, which guarantees a moister fish compared to the risk of barbequing or broiling. In a deep skillet bring 1 C dry white wine, 2 Tb kosher salt and enough cold water to cover the salmon by ½”. Bring all to a simmer over medium heat covered.  Once simmering, immediately reduce temperature to medium-low, uncover, and gently poach salmon until just cooked through and barely opaque in the center, about 6 minutes, depending on thickness. Transfer cooked salmon and 2 Tb poaching liquid to a plate; tent loosely with foil.

Meanwhile, melt 3 Tb unsalted butter in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add 4 oz fresh morels; sliced, stemmed shiitake; or other fresh mushroom and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add ½ C salmon poaching liquid and ½ C shelled fresh (or frozen, thawed) peas and simmer until peas begin to soften, 2-3 minutes. Add ¼ - ½ C heavy cream and bring sauce to a simmer. Cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Shitakes and Morels
Using a flat spatula, transfer the salmon, skin side up, to paper towels. Gently peel off and discard skin. Invert onto serving plates and spoon sauce over. Garnish with 2 Tb chopped chives or pea tendrils and serve.

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Poached Salmon with Tarragon Sauce & Fingerling Potatoes

 Poached Salmon with Tarragon Sauce & Fingerling Potatoes
Serves 6
Poached Salmon with Tarragon Sauce & Fingerling Potatoes 
Salmon is an amazingly simple and scrumptious quick meal. I especially love fresh wild king salmon, although you could use any of your favorite sustainable salmon varieties. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program has a wonderful website (and iPhone app) on sustainable fish in your area. (http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/SeafoodWatch/web/sfw_regional.aspx) The wild-caught Coho salmon from Alaska is one of their top recommended king salmons. It is a rich-flavored fish with a lovely pink color. Other wild market names include Chinook, Chum, King, Pink, Red, and Sockeye – all from Alaska. Farmed in tank systems in the  U. S. are Coho, Sake and Silver salmon market names. These too are an excellent choice.

The health benefits of eating fish in general are widely appreciated. In addition to the omega-3 beneficial fatty acids, salmon is also high in protein. A 4 oz portion provides a full day’s supply of Vitamin D, as well as B12, niacin and selenium. Omega-3s are found in every kind of fish but are especially high in fish such as salmon that store a lot of the oils in their muscles. These fatty acids in fish are derived from plants (algae, leaves, grass). In wild salmon, the amount and type of omega-3s are based on the algae and plankton found in their diet. In farmed salmon, the omega-3 levels are dependent on what type of feed is provided.

Fishmongers store fish at 38 degree F, colder than most home refrigerators. Once purchased, rinse the fish in cold water, pat dry, and wrap in a clean plastic wrap; put the fish in a clean plastic bag and store on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator with a resealable plastic freezer bag or two of crushed ice on top. Very fresh fish will last 3-5 days if handled correctly. To find the pin bones, which are not attached to the skeleton, run your fingers over the surface of the fillets. Use needle-nose pliers or fish tweezers to remove bones, pulling with the grain of the flesh to keep it from tearing. Wait until after cooking to remove the skin: it will slip right off.

I thought it might be a fun to demonstrate the myriad of ways one could serve poached salmon. This is one recipe to try - it can be served warm, room temperature or cold.  How versatile!  Next week - Poached Salmon with Peas and Morels.

FIrst step: Poaching Salmon
Salmon--pre poaching. Gorgeous color and marbling!
Ingredients for Salmon
  • 2½ C dry white wine
  • 2½ C water
  • 3 to 3½ lb salmon fillet, about 1½” thick, with skin

Ingredients for fingerling potatoes
  • 2 bunches of fresh tarragon 
  • large bunch of chives 
  • 1 large shallot.
  • ¾ C fresh flat-leafed parsley leaves
  • 1 C Best Foods (or Hellman’s) lite mayonnaise
  • ¼ C unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
The first step is to poach the salmon, which guarantees a moister fish compared to the risk of barbequing or broiling. In a deep 10-inch skillet bring 2½ C dry white wine and 2½ C water to a simmer, covered. Cut a 3 to 3½ lb salmon fillet, about 1½” thick, with skin into six pieces and season with salt and pepper. 
Salted and peppered
Submerge 3 salmon pieces, skin sides down, in simmering liquid (add hot water if necessary to just cover salmon) and poach at a bare simmer, covered, 7 minutes, or until just cooked through and barely opaque in the center. Transfer cooked salmon with a slotted spatula to a platter and poach remaining salmon.

When the salmon is cool enough to handle, peel off skin and, if desired, with a sharp knife scrape off any dark meat. Salmon may be cooked 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring it to a cool room temperature just before serving.

Taking 2 bunches of fresh tarragon (about 1 ounce total); pick enough leaves to measure ½ C (do not pack). Chop a large bunch of chives to measure 1/3 C. Coarsely chop 1 large shallot. In a food processor puree tarragon, chives, and shallot with ¾ C fresh flat-leafed parsley leaves, 1 C Best Foods (or Hellman’s) lite mayonnaise, ¼ C unseasoned rice vinegar and 2 tsp Dijon mustard. Blend until smooth and season with salt and pepper. Sauce may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring sauce to cool room temperature before serving.

Fresh tarragon
Chopped chives
Fresh parsley
Cut 1½ lb fingerling or other new potatoes lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick slices. In a steamer set over boiling water, steam potatoes until just tender, about 6-8 minutes. Test with a fork. Remove from steamer and place on paper towels to dry. Season potatoes with salt and pepper.
Fingerling potatoes

To serve: Spoon sauce onto 6 plates and arrange some potatoes in a circle overlapping slightly, on top of sauce (see pic at the top of this recipe). Arrange salmon on top of the potatoes. Garnish with optional additional chopped parsley or chives or with diagonally cut sugar snap peas. This can all be done one day ahead, served warm or cool room temperature.  It would be a great picnic meal!

Watch for the next poached salmon recipe with peas and morels next week.  And, enjoy this one now!


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Two Easy Veggie Recipes: Beets & White Asparagus

Two Easy Vegetable Recipes: Beets & White Asparagus

Roasted Beets with Cumin & Mint
Beets with cumin and mint
Beets may not be the prettiest things you’ll find in your local produce aisle, but they can do some beautiful things to your health. You’d never know it from its unassuming appearance, but the beet may well be nature’s multivitamin, loaded with nutrients like potassium, vitamin C, fiber, iron and antioxidants. There are actually endless ways to work beets into your diet without any trouble. They’re simple to roast, steam or boil and they’re great in everything from salads to desserts. Yes, dessert!
  • 1 Tb fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds 
  • ½ tsp salt 
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 2 Tb extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 lb of fresh medium sized beets
Stir into a small bowl: 1 Tb fresh lemon juice, 1 tsp cumin seeds (toasted and lightly crushed), ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper. Add 2 Tb extra-virgin olive oil, mix and let stand while roasting beets. This will form your vinaigrette.
Toasting cumin

Put rack in the middle of oven and preheat to 425 degree F. Wash and scrub 2 lb of fresh medium sized beets to clean off any dirt. Leave the beet whole unless some are extra large ones (if extra large, cut in half). Trim off the stems (leafy tops) and ends of the beets, leaving about 1” of stems attached. Tightly wrap beets in a double layer of foil and roast on a baking sheet until tender and easily pierced with tip of a paring knife, 1 to 1¼ hours. Cool to warm in foil package, about 20 minutes. When beets are cool enough to handle, peel the skin off. They should peel easily by hand, but you can use a paring knife if needed. Discard skin, stems and root ends, cut into ½” wide wedges.

Toss warm beets with dressing. Stir in ¼ C coarsely chopped fresh mint just before serving. Enjoy!

White Asparagus with Brown Butter Sauce
White asparagus with brown butter sauce
I absolutely love white asparagus season. There are a myriad of ways to cook it including my previously posted braised asparagus recipe (Feb, 2012). Here is another way to enjoy this treat. White asparagus is really the same plant as green. Lacking chlorophyll, it has a milder more delicate flavor. It is grown covered in mounds of sandy soil so it never sees the light of day, hence remains white.

  • 6-20 white asparagus spears
  • 2 Tb unsalted butter i
  • 1 C fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp chopped parsley
White asparagus

Rinse 16-20 white asparagus spears and trim the tough ends. Depending on thickness, it might benefit from a light peel if it looks at all tough or stringy. Put water and salt into a pot and bring to a boil – and add asparagus. Boil for 8 minutes, drain and set aside. 
Boiling asparagus
Heat 2 Tb unsalted butter in a sauté pan until it melts and just begins to brown, add 1 C fresh breadcrumbs, and mix thoroughly. Add cooked asparagus and sauté until coated with browned butter and breadcrumbs. Sprinkle with 1 tsp chopped parsley. For an extra bite of spring, serve with a wedge of lemon. Enjoy!


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Miso Clam Chowder

Miso clam chowder
Something special happens to the taste buds whenever miso is added to any recipe. Miso, a traditional Japanese food, is made from fermented soybeans and comes in several styles. This is an especially nice pairing of clams and white miso (also known as shiromiso). At one time you would need to go to Asian or health food markets for this exquisite ingredient. But, due to surging popularity, you can now find it in your local grocer – look in refrigerator section. Miso is a quick way to add exotic flavor to your everyday cooking. Give it try!

  • 1 Tb unsalted butter
  • 3 oz chopped pancetta 
  • ½ C chopped onion
  • 2 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 sprig thyme 
  • 1 C dry white wine 
  • 1 lb russet potatoes
  • 2 C low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 C heavy cream
  • 2 Tb white miso. 
  • 12-15 scrubbed littleneck clams
  • Tabasco
  • flat-leaf parsley
Melt 1 Tb unsalted butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 3 oz chopped pancetta (Italian bacon). Cook until slightly rendered, 5-6 minutes. 
Uncooked pancetta

Cooking pancetta....mmmmm!
Add ½ C chopped onion, 2 chopped garlic cloves and 1 sprig thyme. Cook, stirring often, until onion is soft, 4-5 minutes. Add 1 C dry white wine; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 2 minutes. Add 1 lb russet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½” cubes, 2 C low-salt chicken broth, 1 C heavy cream, and 2 Tb white miso. Simmer until potatoes are tender, 25-30 minutes. Add 12-15 scrubbed littleneck clams
Scrubbed littleneck clams
Cover and cook until clams open, 5-7 minutes. Season with Tabasco; garnish with chopped flat-leaf parsley. This will serve 4 as a starter soup or 2 as an entrée portion.

Now that you have your miso – watch for more recipes on my blog using this special ingredient. I use miso as a unique salt. It adds depth to even simple preparations. Try it as an addition to vegetables, such as green beans. Miso is one of my favorites – and will become your favorite taste treat as well.