Monday, June 23, 2008

If blogging paid, I'd do it all the time.

But for now, it doesn't. So I will continue to defend my sporadic posting by saying,
"Get off my case!"


Anyhow! What I REALLY want to document at this point in time is the well-thought-out and delicious birthday foods I made for Matt. His birthday was, well, 2 weeks ago. I'm nothing if not not prompt.

Good, I'm glad you're going with me on this one.

Anyhow, I planned to start out with a lovely romesco sauce/paste/dip along with a par-cooked filone from Trader Joe's, baked to crispy completion. However, though I made the romesco, I forgot to serve it. It was going to be a leisurely appetizer as I finished my cooking, however since I got caught up in my runnings-around and Matt was accepting his birthday wishes from his legions of fans followers friends and family, it fell by the wayside and was instead served with chips at the party later.

Official Recipe: Roasted red pepper-Cascabel romesco sauce
May 28, 2008, LA Times
Total time: 45 minutes
Servings: Makes about 2 cups

2 dried Cascabel peppers
1 large red bell pepper
1/4 cup hazelnuts
1/4 cup almonds, blanched and peeled
4 Roma tomatoes
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 ounce good-quality country white bread, sliced, crusts removed
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sweet paprika (preferably Spanish)
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (preferably Jerez)
1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley

1. Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Stick a fork through the Cascabels and place tines-down in a bowl (to keep the peppers submerged). Cover with boiling water for at least 30 minutes to soften, then stem, seed and set aside.
2. While the Cascabels are softening, roast the red pepper on a gas stove or under a broiler. Place the peppers in a plastic bag or in a bowl, covered with plastic wrap, and cool. Peel, stem and seed the peppers (don't rinse); set aside.
3. Toast the nuts separately in the 375-degree oven until golden and aromatic, 8 to 10 minutes. If the hazelnuts have skins, cool them and remove their skins by rolling them in a kitchen towel. Set aside the nuts and increase the oven temperature to broil.
4. Halve the tomatoes lengthwise and place them, skin side up, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Coat the tomatoes with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then broil the tomatoes until the skins begin to darken and crack, about 5 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet, then peel, core and set aside.
5. In a skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and fry the bread until golden brown. Cool and set aside.
6. In a food processor, coarsely chop the garlic, salt, fried bread and nuts. Add the peppers, tomatoes, paprika, vinegar and parsley and process to a rough paste. Slowly pour the remaining olive oil in a steady stream and process until combined.

Changes I made:
- I couldn't find cascabels, so I just used hot red pepper flakes.
- My almonds were not blanched, had skins and they turned out fine.
- I left the crust on my bread.
- I mistakenly bought cooking sherry and not sherry vinegar, so I used 1T of sherry and 1T of rice vinegar.

It was still delicious.

Next! For the main course, I made Top Chef winner (YAY!) Stephanie Izard's beer-challenge winner mussel dish, grilled corn on the cob with chile-lime compound butter and the aforementioned bread.

(photo to come!)

Official Recipe: Steamed Mussels with Cilantro Vinaigrette & Grilled Bread

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4-5

Cilantro Vinaigrette:
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1t Dijon
1 1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 jalapeno, seeds removed
1t honey
Salt and pepper

Changes: I used olive oil and only 1 cup. It was plenty.

Steamed Mussels:
2T butter
1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb PEI mussels, cleaned, debearded
4 oranges (juice 3, segment one)
Salt and pepper to taste
3 bottles, hoegaarden

Changes: I added an extra 2 T of butter when I put in the orange juice. Also, I only used 1 bottle of Hoegaarden, but it could have used 1.5. Three is just too much damn liquid.


Cilantro Vinaigrette:
In blender, blend yolk, vinegar and Dijon. Slowly drizzle in canola and season with remaining ingredients.

Steamed Mussels:
In saucepot, melt butter. Add in fennel, onion andgarlic and sweat for a few minutes. Turn up heat and add in mussels and orange juice; season with salt and pepper. Cover and steam untilmussels open then add in hoegaarden.

To Serve:
In bowl, add mussels and broth. Drizzle with vinaigrette and garnish with orange segments and some chopped cilantro and scallions. Serve with warm grilled bread.

Changes: I didn't grill the bread but rather gave each person a big chunk from which to tear off pieces to dip into the abundant broth.

Very, VERY tasty. This, folks, is why she won this season. Because she's awesome. You'll end up with extra vinaigrette, but I've found it goes nicely on chicken and on swiss chard. And the Hoegaarden goes SO nicely with the citrus/herbal flavors of the dish.

I pretty much winged it on the compound butter. I started with half a stick of room-temperature unsalted butter, added some pimenton and a healthy sprinkle of cayenne, the juice of a lime and some sea salt to taste. Roll it into a little log with plastic wrap and throw it in the fridge to firm up. I'm looking forward to using this on fish and chicken too.

The corn... follow any online grilling instructions. I'm getting lazy right now. I think I cooked them for about 25 minutes. I was peeved that I couldn't find corn on the cob with the whole husk intact at any stores, They were all trimmed and with one side exposed to show off their kernels. Hussy corn! Haven't you ever heard of an air of mystery? Anyhow, I had to wrap it in tin foil because my hussy corn had lost its clothes.

So there was much beer and bread and corn and tastyness. And then there was the cake.


1 comment:

Matt said...

The title of this post is now officially ironic.