Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Quail stuffed with Mushrooms and Andouille with a Port Wine Sauce

I have to say that it is really nice to have a store just an hour away that carries all kinds of interesting and hard to find ingredients as a matter of course.   I know, you may be saying “an hour away and you’re happy about that”?  Well when you consider it is the closest store of its kind to where I live I have to look at the silver lining.  I make a point of stopping at Market of Choice every time I am passing though Corvallis just to walk around and see if they have something I have never cooked with before.  This is the same store where I found Oregon truffles, fresh turmeric and those fresh white anchovies sourced off of the Oregon coast, and it is where I can reliably find duck.  This last visit I was surprised, but then I wasn’t when I found quail.  I have had quail once or twice in the past; usually at a wedding reception, so I was somewhat familiar, but I have never cooked with them before.  I walked out of the store with four little birds and some other goodies to be worked with at a later date.
I have to admit that I was somewhat at a loss as to how to process the little guys.  They are really small.  I turned to U-Tube and found a demo video recorded by one of my favorite chefs:  Jacques Pépin.  Of course he made it look so damn easy.  It was not.  This is from the woman who has actually made Turducken from scratch, so I know deboning.  The hard part is that you are striving for presentation quality which means getting the bones out but leaving the birds and skin whole.  I managed it, but it was stressful to say the least.  Just an FYI if you run across quail at your local store and want to give them a try, they do take some work, so not something you want to tackle on a work night.  The recipe itself was adapted from one of Emeril’s, which I cut in half.
Quail Stuffed with Mushrooms and Andouille with a Port Wine Sauce
Serves 4
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped assorted mushrooms (I used Shiitake, Oyster, Cremini)
  • 2 ounces diced Andouille sausage
  • 3 tablespoons chopped onions
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • Cajun or Creole seasoning to taste
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup port
  • ¼ - ½cup bread crumbs
  • 4 quail cleaned and boned (see video)
Port Wine Sauce:
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup minced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup port
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  1. Process mushrooms, sausage, onions and garlic to a coarse paste in the large bowl of your food processor. 
  2. Heat ½ tablespoon olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add mushroom mixture, Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper.  Saute mushrooms until they release their water, about 4 minutes.  Continue cooking until pan becomes dry, another 2 minutes.  Stir in port and cook for an additional 1 minute.  Remove from heat and stir in bread crumbs.  Cool completely. 
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F. 
  4. Season the quail that you lovingly deboned with the remaining ½ tablespoon olive oil and more Cajun seasoning.  Stuff each quail with ¼ cup of the mushroom mixture.  Cut a slice in the end of one leg through the skin next to the bone that was left and push the other leg bone through the hole to secure.  Trust me, it looks pretty.
  5. Put the quail in a small casserole dish that you have sprayed with cooking spray and place in the oven.  Bake until the quail are golden brown and have an internal temperature of 150° F, about 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cover with foil.
Make the Port Sauce:
  1. Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat.  Add shallots and sauté for 1 minute.  Add garlic and cook for an additional 20 seconds.  Stir in sugar and port.  Bring to a boil and cook for 3 minutes.  Add stock and reduce heat to medium.  Cook down for 20 to 30 minutes or until sauce coats the back of a spoon thickly.  Serve over quail.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Lamb Curry 70's Style

When I was a kid I basically needed to teach myself how to cook to save my burgeoning palate from what I innately knew was not good food.  Generally the food my mom cooked did not appeal to me.  Canned veggies, liver and onions, beef cooked well done and undercooked chicken were a weekly occurrence.  Swanson’s TV Dinners notwithstanding.  However, there were bright points in my tweens when my mom started cooking from a few new cookbooks and also took a Chinese cooking class.  The folks also liked to entertain so the big addition was a book put out by Time Life Books called “Great Dinners from Life” which ended up adding so many tasty things to the menu that I still remember fondly.  I have that cookbook now and was prompted to crack it open.  One of the biggies was this Lamb Curry for the masses.  My mom served it as a lunch for the ladies and the special part of it was not only did it taste good, but all the new and weird condiments that she served with it had me saying "WHAT".  Okay at the time watermelon pickle was the weirdest, but just the same, I thought it was the most exotic thing my mother ever made.  Decades later with a better understanding of Indian food I understand this is a very British interpretation of Curry, but as a child I was intrigued and delighted by the new tastes. 

The recipe originally called for twelve pounds of boned lamb, which as you can imagine I needed to cut back for a recent Sunday dinner that only included two of us.  I used three pounds so I had to cut the recipe back to a quarter of the original.  I will say that that scale back needs to be tweaked (I used 2 lemons which was too much), but in essence was very close to my fond memories.  The only thing I would say is that I truly needed it to be a “Ladies who Lunch” lunch because the more the merrier with this one.

Oh, on side note, when I went to Fred Meyer (Kroger) to buy the lamb, I grabbed a boneless leg, which I thought felt like it weighed about three pounds but didn’t have a tag so I took it to the counter and asked them to weight it and price it for me.  Instead of doing that they went to the case and grabbed a loose tag and put it on my lamb.  It said that it was a five pound roast.  I took that roast and weighed it on one of the veggie scales and came up quite a bit short of that.  I took it back to the meat counter and made a bit of a stink (over seven dollars a pound, you bet I did) and it came back as just a hair under three pound.  The sheepish meat cutter said somebody must have switched the tag.  Okay, that is somebody being an asshole, but was Kroger just trying to pass that loss on to me by just slapping the loose tag onto me.  Urg.

Lamb Curry (Adapted from Time Life Books)
6 Servings
  • ½ cup unsalted butter or ghee
  • 3 pounds boneless lamb leg cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 4 large yellow onions chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic crushed
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons curry powder to taste (I used Madras)
  • 1 lemon scrubbed, thinly sliced and seeds removed
  • 4 Granny Smith apples peeled, core removed and chopped
  • 1 ½ cups chicken broth
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • Condiments (see notes)
  • Cooked Rice to serve
  1. In a Dutch oven melt the butter or ghee over medium-high heat.  Brown the lamb on all sides in batches.  Remove from the pan and set aside.  Leave the fat in the pan.
  2. Add the onions to the pan and sauté, stirring constantly until onions are soft and slightly caramelized, about 20 minutes.  Add garlic and reduce heat to low and cook for 5 minutes.  Add curry powder and cook for another 5 minutes
  3. Return lamb to the pan and stir in lemon slices, apple, chicken broth, salt and pepper and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally, until lamb is fork tender and onions and apples have reduced into the sauce.  Check seasoning and adjust as needed.
  4. Serve with rice and condiments.

Condiments I used were:
Pickled Watermelon rind (which I loved)
Shredded Coconut (works)
Garlic Chili paste (added heat)
Raisins (Nice)
Major Grey’s Mango Chutney (great)
Pickled Lime (never again)
Candied Ginger (okay)
Also recommended by the book:
Sliced Green onion
Sweet Relish
Green bell pepper
Mandarin oranges
Sour Cream or Yogurt
Bacon (why didn’t I)
Egg Yolks

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Deviled Ham

If you read this blog with any regularity you will know that the bulk of my recipes tend to be in the appetizer category.  I just like the idea of small plates and most of the entertaining I do starts with, or consists entirely of appetizers.  With this in mind, I am always on the lookout for new apps to try. This recipe comes to you basically unchanged from the original found in Bon Appetit magazine.  I discovered that the Nabisco company has a rye version of their Triscuit cracker which I thought went really well with this dip.
Deviled Ham (Bon Appétit)
8 servings
8 ounces country ham or good deli ham roughly torn
4 ounces room-temperature cream cheese
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon hot sauce
2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper
1 chopped scallion
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Rye crackers

Place the ham pieces in a food processor and process until finely chopped. 
In a large bowl mix together the cream cheese, mayonnaise, hot sauce, mustard, cayenne pepper and pepper until well mixed.  Add the scallion, flat-leaf parsley and finely chopped ham and mix all together.  Check seasoning and add salt and more pepper if needed.
Serve with rye crackers.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Marsala Chicken with Mushrooms and Gorgonzola

I eat cooking magazines for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  They are an obsession!  I usually have one or two on the coffee table, the night stand, and dare I say it the room with the porcelain throne.  I have amassed a collection of recipes from said magazines that is 2356 recipes strong and still growing.  Have I cooked all of those recipes or will I cook all of those recipes, probably not, but I am comforted by knowing that they are there for when I might eventually need them to inspire.  This recipe is a case in point.  Found and adapted from an issue of Fine Cooking from years ago that I dusted off and brought out of the cyber bin when I was in the mood for something “chicken”.  Did I change it up, sure I did, but not so much that I should fail to mention the source. 

This is a rich dish and best made with a mild tasting blue or Gorgonzola cheese.   It turned out wonderfully creamy, dense with flavor and just the thing to make me want to skip the scale the next morning.   I am thinking of making it again with Sherry or Cognac instead…yeah, one of those will definitely be the next version.

Marsala Chicken with Mushrooms and Gorgonzola (adapted from Fine Cooking)

4 servings

  • 1 ½ pounds chicken breast
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound crimini mushrooms sliced ¼” thick
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • ¾ cup Marsala wine
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 ounces Gorgonzola cheese
  • ¼ cup flat leaf parsley chopped
  • Cooked pasta
  1. Cut the chicken into 1-inch pieces and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan until nice and hot.  Add chicken pieces until pan is full but not crowded.  Sauté pieces until chicken is just done, about 4 minutes; repeat as needed until all the chicken is done and remove to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
  3. Heat an additional tablespoon of oil over medium heat until hot.  Add mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms have released their water and are softened and brown, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds or until fragrant.  Pour in the Marsala and stir vigorously to incorporate the brown bits.  Reduce the heat to low and let the Marsala reduce slightly, about 4 minutes.  Stir in the cream and simmer for 2 minutes, then add the the Gorgonzola and stir until incorporated.  Add more salt and pepper to taste.  Add the chicken and simmer until chicken is warmed through.
  4. Serve with pasta and top with parsley.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

New Potato Latkes with Smoked Salmon and Crème fraîche

During the great CSA experiment this summer it seemed like every box I got had Rose Gold potatoes in it. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining really, I like potatoes, but I usually try to eat them sporadically, because well, they tend to be hard on my hips. But I was getting them a lot so I tried to use them in a variety of ways. This was a particularly yummy way I put my new potatoes to use. Not very creative mind you, buy my tummy sure didn't care, nor did the people I fed them to.

Having made potato latkes before using russet potatoes I knew that the key to crispy pancakes is to make sure the grated potatoes are really dry. It turns out the same is even more true for new potatoes, which tend to have a higher water content. I usually grate the potatoes directly into a bowl of water so that they don't start to turn brown before I’ve finished grating the whole batch and it also removes some of the starch, but that process can leave them watery so I pour out the grated potatoes into a strainer, and then from the strainer into a dish towel that I then twist closed and twist down hard until no more water drips out.  Then they go into the batter right quick.

I liked using the new potatoes for latkes because I left the skins on and that added a really pleasant rustic character to the little pancakes that I particularly liked.  I like to leave the skins in my mashed potatoes too which my family is still not sure of, so do as you like.

New Potato Latkes with Smoked Salmon and Crème Fraîche

12 appetizer servings

  • 2 pounds new potatoes, grated, drained and dried thoroughly
  • 1 pound grated onion, drained and dried thoroughly
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Vegetable oil for pan frying
  • Smoked salmon
  • Crème fraîche
  1. Mix together the eggs, flour, salt and pepper until you have a smooth batter, add the grated potatoes and onions and mix together well.
  2. In a large skillet heat about ½-inch of the vegetable oil over medium high heat until just starting to shimmer.  To test the heat of the oil drop a little bit of the potato mixture into the oil.  It should sputter a little, but not aggressively so.  You don’t want the oil so hot that the pancakes burn before the potatoes are cooked.  Using a quarter cup measure spoon some of the potato mixture into the skillet and press down slightly to form pancakes.  Repeat until the skillet is full but not crowded.  Cook the pancakes on one side until crisp and golden brown, about 3 minutes, then carefully turn over.  Cook an additional 3 minutes or until crisp and brown.  Season with a little more salt if needed and transfer to a paper towel lined baking sheet and place in a warm oven.  Continue with the rest of the potato mixture until gone, adding more oil if needed.  Serve each pancake with a slice of smoked salmon and a dollop of Crème fraîche.

Note:  I keep a slotted spoon handy to fish out any bits between batches so that the oil doesn't get flavored with the taste of burned potato or onion.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Roasted Tomato and Tomatillo Soup

This summer I decided to try my hand at a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box.  I knew from the start that it probably would be too much produce for me so I decided to split the weekly box with two friends.  We were all pretty excited until I picked up the first box and just could not figure out how to divide up the goods.  I mean really, how do you split a kohlrabi three ways?  We ended up taking turns at the pick up, which worked out pretty well, although I still ended up either wasting some or giving some away.  Those boxes were full!

In one of my boxes I ended up with tomatoes, tomatillos, jalapenos and cilantro and just knew I was going to make soup.  Roasting the fruit and vegetables gave this soup a really nice bit of smokey goodness. 

Roasted Tomato and Tomatillo Soup

6 servings

  • 1 ¾ pounds tomatoes (I used a variety)
  • 1 ¾ pound tomatillos
  • 1 jalapeno pepper stem removed
  • 4 cloves garlic unpeeled
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 28-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 container of Knorr Home Style Concentrated Chicken Stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • Cilantro leaves for garnish
  1. Cut larger tomatoes into quarters and leave small tomatoes whole and place on a large rimmed baking sheet.  Peel and wash the tomatillos then cut into quarters and add to the sheet with the tomatoes.  Add the jalapeno, garlic cloves and onion, season with salt and pepper and place in a 375° oven.  Roast for about 90 minutes, or until the tomatoes and tomatillos have released their water and have started to char in spots.
  2. Remove from the oven and pass everything through a food mill into a large soup pot.  Add tomato sauce Knorr concentrate, water, cumin and oregano.  Simmer over low heat for 30 to 45 minutes or until it reaches the thickness that you want.  Add chopped cilantro, taste for seasoning and serve topped with cilantro sprig. 
Note:  If you don't have a food mill, process in a blender then pass through a strainer.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Shrimp Curry with Fresh Turmeric

I had one of those moments at the store a few months back when I came across an ingredient that I have never seen before and just had to have despite the fact that I had no recipe in mind for its use. Frankly, those moments are few and far between because not much new comes our way, but that was a special day at the organic food coop we have in town. Typically, I have to travel at least an hour to a bigger community where I might find a new product that we haven't gotten in our local stores yet. There are some exceptions (finger limes and dragon fruit to name a couple, although I have not seen the finger limes again), but for the most part, while I might learn about something on my portal to the rest of the world (my computer) if I want it I need to travel or order it online.  The day I found the fresh turmeric was one of those “exception” days. 

I know, you are probably saying that turmeric is a readily available spice found in almost all supermarkets, but the fresh rhizome is something of a rarity since most of the turmeric grown is processed into the powdered spice. It is related to ginger and similar in appearance, except that it is a little narrower, and when you cut into it has an orange-yellow color like a carrot compared to ginger’s light yellow.  The taste is dissimilar as well.   Turmeric has something of a musty, peppery flavor with the fresh root being somewhat acidic.  I was anxious to try it, but I didn’t have a plan or the time so I thought that I would toss it in the freezer like I do my ginger and use it at a later date.  As with ginger, freezing it did not alter the taste and it is much easier to grate while frozen.

So what did I end up using it in?  Well, curry, of course.

This one was inspired by a fish stew recipe out of James Oseland’s “ Cradle of Flavor” cookbook, but of course I changed it up a bit.  I used shrimp instead of white fish, and I added coconut milk because I like it and always have some on hand.  There are some unusual Asian ingredients that may need to be mail-ordered, or, if you are lucky enough to have a well-stocked Asian market you shouldn’t have any trouble. 

Shrimp Curry with Fresh Turmeric (adapted from James Osland)

6 servings 

  • 1 ½ pounds medium shrimp peeled and deveined
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 large shallots, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 4 Thai red chilies, stemmed and chopped
  • 1-1  ½ inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1-1  ½ inch piece fresh galangal, peeled and chopped
  • 1-2  inch piece fresh turmeric, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 10-3inch pieces of fresh pandan leaves
  • 2 thick stalks of lemon grass pounded to loosen the fibers
  • 8 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1-13.5 ounce can coconut milk
  • Salt
  • Thai basil or Italian basil sliced for garnish
  • Rice for serving 
  1. In a bowl, combine the shrimp and the lime juice and set aside.
  2. Place chopped shallots, garlic, red chilies, ginger, galangal, and turmeric in a food processor and process until a paste forms.  You may need to add a couple of tablespoons of water to get it to go.
  3. In a Dutch oven heat peanut oil over medium heat.  Add turmeric paste, pandan leaves, lemon grass and kaffir leaves and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add coconut milk and lime juice from shrimp and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add shrimp and cook until shrimp have turned pink, another 3 to 4 minutes.  Taste for salt and add if needed.  Remove the pandan leaves, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves.  Add basil and serve over rice. 

Pandan leaves are a Southeast Asian ingredient that I found frozen at my local Asian market, but are not all that well known in the states.  They are from a green plant with fan-shaped sprays of long, narrow, blade-like leaves and they smell something like white bread and are used a lot in desserts or cooked in rice.  If you can’t find them, leave them out.

Galangal is another rhizome related to ginger and is becoming easier to find fresh, but more commonly frozen because it is a very popular Southeast Asian ingredient.  If you can’t find it leave it out.

Lemongrass is everywhere so no worries there.

Kaffir lime leaves are another very popular Southeast Asian ingredient so look for them either fresh or frozen at the Asian market.  They typically are found whole (two leaves attached to each other) so either use the two lobed leaves together to count as one leaf, or if they have been broken apart use two to equal one leaf.