Thursday, March 19, 2009

March Madness

No I'm not talking about all the basketball on television, although my bracket does rock.... I'm talking about all the corned beef leftovers that we have!

While a fresh roast is amazing, nothing quite beats a Ruben sandwich. The tangy thousand island dressing, the earthy rye bread, the sweet freshness of Swiss cheese. It makes you wish the grocery stores stocked corned beef all year round.

Rubin Sandwich
Rye Bread
Corned Beef, cooked and sliced
Swiss cheese, sliced
Thousand Island Dressing

Stack beef, sourkraut, cheese, and dressing on bread. Butter outsides of the bread slices. Cook in a Panini maker or in a hot pan till toasted. Let sit till cheese has cooled slightly, slice and serve warm.

Thousand Island Dressing
3 small pickles
1 hard boiled egg
1 stalk celery
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp onion, grated
4 tbsp catsup
1 tbsp stone ground mustard
1/4 cup mayo
1/2 tsp hot sauce
1 tsp Worsteshire sauce
salt/pepper to taste

Chop pickles, egg, celery, and garlic fine. Add to the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Place in the refrigerator till cold.

Monday, March 16, 2009

St Patty's Green

Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren't go a-hunting
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl's feather!
My mother used to sign me an Irish song as a child which must have been adapted from "The Leprechaun" by Roger Dwyer Joyce. It was quite a different lullaby then most children might have gotten, but it made me proud to be part Irish and developed my love for everything green.

This year for St.Patty’s well be making soda bread, corned beef, and what else? Potatoes! Another way to incorporate a little Leprechaun green into your meal would be Spinach Pasta. Just add a little to a regular fresh pasta recipe and you’ll be speaking in a Gaelic drawl in no time :)

Spinach Pasta

1/2 lbs spinach, washed
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 egg
3 1/2 cup flour

De-stem spinach and cut into very very small pieces. Sauté ina pan with olive oil and salt. When the leaves have wilted and the water evaporated strain out spinach. You can simmer the strained liquid down until it is thick and add it back in with the spinach to retain the nutrients.

Knead all ingredients together on a flour dusted surface for 5 minutes until they form a ball which is not sticky. Wrap in plastic and let sit in refrigerator for another 1/2 hr. Using a pasta attachment or other tool roll out to 1/4 of an inch thickness on a floured surface. Cut into long strips or use fettuccini attachment. Because the spinach is ‘stringy’ you may need to manually pull the noodles apart from each other. Let dry on a rack for 1/2 hr.

Boil in salted water for 1-2 minutes or until the noodles float on the surface.

In a shady nook one moonlit night,
A leprahaun I spied.
In a cap of red and a coat of green,
A cruiskeen by his side,
'Twas tick, tack, tick, his hammer went,
Upon a weeny shoe,
And I laughed to think of his pot of gold,
But the wee man was laughing too.
Didee dee didee dee didee dee didee dum
Didee dee didee dee di day.

With tip-toe step and beating heart,
Quite softly I drew nigh.
There was laughter in his merry face,
A twinkle in his eye;
He hammered and sang with tiny voice,
And drank his mountain dew;
And I laughed to think of his pot of gold,
But the wee man was laughing, too.
Didee dee didee dee didee dee didee dum
Didee dee didee dee di day.

As quick as a wink I caught the old man,
"Your pot of gold," I cried,
"My gold?" said he, "'tis in her hand,
That lady by your side."
I turned to look, the wee man was off,
Awk! what was I to do?
And I laughed to think what a fool I'd been,
But, the wee man was laughing, too.
Didee dee didee dee didee dee didee dum
Didee dee didee dee di day.
Didee dee didee dee didee dee didee dum
Didee dee didee dee di day.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Tale of Two Custards

My sister makes the most delicious Crème Brulee, it’s always a family treat and we love to have it on special / not-so-special occasions. She taught me the secretes to stirring and chilling a few years back, so since then I’ve made vanilla, cappuccino, lavender, and toffee renditions. But while Brulee is decadent and smooth it also fills your waist line. So in the spirit of healthy living I thought I would try making Crème Caramel, the less sultry and definitely easier cousin of Brulee.

I’m not sure if I succeeded. The Caramel was sweet, but not smooth as Brulee. The almonds added a nice texture difference but something was just missing… maybe it’s the 3 cups of cream I’m used to….

Crème Caramel
1/3 c. sugar
4 tbsp water

3 egg yolks, beaten2 eggs, beaten1/3 c. sugar1 2/3 c. milk1/2 tsp. vanilla
3-4 almonds, chopped

Set up 8-10 ramekin bowls or other small bake proof dishes in a 9x12 pan (like a lasagna pan).

In a medium non-stick pot melt sugar and water together on high heat until it just starts to brown becoming caramel, about 8-10 minutes. Pour hot caramel into the dishes, coating the bottom. Caramel will cool quickly so reheat if needed. Once the caramel has cooled sprinkle the chopped almonds on top.

In a large double boiler or non-stick pot, heat milk and sugar to a low boil; when small bubbles form around the sides. Slowly stir in eggs (temper by stirring in a tbsp of the milk into the eggs first). Add vanilla and heat through stirring for 5 minutes.

Pour into the dishes, straining if the eggs have formed up slightly.

Fill the pan with water up 2/3 the side of the ramekins. Bake for 40-60 minutes in a 300 degree oven or until thickened and a knife comes out clean. Let cool and place in refrigerator overnight, up to 2 days or at least 4 hours to set. Run a knife around the edges of the dish and invert onto a plate, letting the caramel run over the sides.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Something to look forward to

We recently made a fun little purchase from Bed, Bath, and Beyond… a dehydrator. It’s a noisy little bugger but it works just as well as my oven and frees up space. The first thing we tried was apples and banana chips.

I wasn’t quite sure how thick to cut everything, but hey, it’s a learning process! The apples while a little large, are delicately sweet and have a really nice balance being crispy without tasting too dry. I'm looking forward to the fall when I can stock up on small apple varieties and make a batch large enough to share with friends. They make a nice little dessert without being too filling and are yummy on cereal or even in salads.

I added a coating to the apples, but left the bananas raw. I was surprised how long the drying process for fruit actually took. I did venison jerky just the other day and it took much less time, so if you are trying out a dehydrator for the first time I would recommend accounting time for the longest setting your machine recommends. Just so you’re not getting up at 4am like someone I know….

Harvest Apple Chips
Apples, semi peeled and sliced into circles
Lemon juice
Nutmeg, freshly grated

Combine lemon juice and spices to coat apples with to keep them from browning. Place in dehydrator and bake to your own machine specifications. Turn once during the drying process.
Let cool and store in an air tight container.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Winter Clam Bake

For Valentine's Day this year we made a fresh seafood pasta which I have been lazy to post. Although the flavors were amazing, the effort to get the crab meat out is something we won't be repeating. I'd recommend using preshelled crab or a mock for easier eating :)

The heat from the red pepper oil is a really nice background to the strong sauce and shellfish.

Sage Seafood Pasta
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
3-4 green onions, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup cream
1/2 batch fresh linguine pasta
2 tbsp Asiago cheese, grated
2 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
Salt/pepper to taste, about 1/4 tsp each

2 rock crab claws, washed
8-10 fresh mussels, washed
8-10 clams, washed
8-10 shrimp, deveined and washed

Prepare the fresh pasta and let dry. Start a large pot of water heating with salt.

In a 375 degree oven place the crab claws in seasoned water covered to 1/2 their height. Bake until done (about 20 minutes) or to other package specifications.

In a large pan heat oil with red pepper. Add onions, salt, and pepper; sauté till soft. Slowly add in wine and let evaporate. Add mussels and cover to let steam. Once the shells have opened strain from liquid and place in a warm location. Add clams to the remaining broth and cover till open. Remove and set aside with mussels.
Add cream to the broth and simmer on low. Cook the pasta in the preheated water for 2-3 minutes until it floats on top. Strain and add to the cream mixture. Add all the shell fish back in and cover letting the shrimp cook and other shells warm.

Top with Asiago and sage.