Thursday, February 5, 2009

Valentines Day

Everyone seems to fall back on the favorites of the holiday, chocolate, and flowers. I'll be spending Valentines Day by myself this year. Single once again... boo... hoo. Anyway what are some of your favorites other than the two that I've mentioned. This community is so creative, there has to be more than the usual.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Maryland Crab Cakes with Red Pepper Coulis

Last year I drove through Maryland and had some wonderful crab cakes. I made them at home and added the coulis.

1 pound lump Crab Meat
1 Large Egg
2 tablespoons Real Mayonnaise
1/3 cup soft, Fresh Bread Crumbs, no crust
1 tablespoon minced Parsley
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 to 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
Dash of Freshly Ground Pepper
Saltine Crackers, about 12, crushed
Rough chopped italian parsley for garnish.
vegetable oil, for pan frying

For Crab Cakes

Combine all ingredients, except oil and italian parsley, and mix until mixed well. Chill for 4 hours in the fridge.

For Coulis

4 Red bell peppers roasted until completely black and charred, under the broiler or over direct flame on a grill, or gas stove

After Roasting peppers set aside in a bowl, cover with plastic, and let set 20 minutes... After 20 minutes peel and seed peppers. Puree until smooth, add a tablespoon of cream or half and half, mix in blender another 30 seconds or so, season with salt and black pepper, and keep warm.

Back to the cakes...

After the four hours of chilling, form into patties, about a third of a cup each.

Pan fry on med high heat, in batches, until all cakes are golden brown and cooked through

To plate...

Set two cakes on each plate and nappe with red pepper coulis. Garnish with rough chopped italian parsley.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Tampenade (black olive paste)

This is a quick dish to use as an alternative to some of the processed dips out in the super-duper-mega mart. Use the best olives you can find, and definitely do not use black olives from a can.

1 Pound brine cured black olives
1/2 C capers drained
1 small garlic clove coarsely chopped
10 filets of oil packed anchovies
2 T brandy
1/2 cup olive oil
a few drops of fresh lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process briefly. This should be a coarse paste, not a puree. Stir in olive oil.

Serve with raw vegetables, crusty bread, or with toasted flat bread.

Chicken With Vinegar

The acidity of this dish along the sugar adds a great sweet and sour combination that has been a family favorite since my Dad first prepared it.

1 3-4 pound chicken cut into quarters
2 t of salt
1 t black pepper
1 T vegetable oil
3 T unsalted butter
4 large garlic cloves finely chopped
1/2 C chopped shallots
1 medium carrot finely chopped
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1 Bay leaf
1 T tomato paste
1 C dry red wine
1/2 cup red-wine vinegar
2 T sugar
1 cup chicken broth

For Chicken

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

wash and dry chicken
sprinkle with 1 t salt and 1/2 t pepper
heat oil and one teaspoon butter in 12 inch skillet
heat over moderately high until foam subsides, then brown chicken in two batches turning once 8-10 minutes total.
Transfer chicken to small flame proof roasting pan arranging in one layer. Once chicken is browned, roast uncovered in oven for 15 minutes.

For sauce

Discard all but 2 T fat from skillet, hen add garlic, shallots thyme sprigs, and bay leaf and cook over moderately high heat stirring and scraping brown bits, until vegetables are browned. Add wine, vinegar, sugar, and remaining t salt, and half t black pepper, and boil, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half. About 5 to ten minutes.

Finish Sauce and Chicken

Add chicken broth to sauce along with any juices from roasting pan and bring to boil. Pour through a fine mesh sieve onto chicken in roasting pan, pressing on and the discarding solids. Continue to roast chicken , uncovered, until just cooked through, about 15 minutes more.

Transfer chicken to oven proof serving dish and keep warm, uncovered in turned off oven.

Meanwhile, boil sauce in roasting pan over high heat, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about a cup, then remove sauce from heat and finish with remaining butter. Season with salt and pepper and pour sauce over chicken.

It's good to be back...

After an absence of a few weeks due to an illness in my immediate family, I'm finally back. It's nice to be sitting here writing again. Lets hope that the bugs stay away for awhile. I didn't need to catch the respiratory flu that wasn't covered by the flu shot formula this year. Nice stuff. I'm still kind of achey and groggy, but it's time to get back to the "work", so to speak, that is this blog. I'll be hitting it pretty hard in the next few days to make this blog active again. As I laid in bed for a week or so, I thought about everything that I've learned just by reading and writing here. It's good to be back!