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Archive for July, 2007

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Ever find a special alcohol or ingredient that you just have to have in the store, buy it, drink it or cook with it once and then totally lose interest? Yeah, it happens to me, too. Normally I can resist these urges, but when I had a Pimm’s Cup at Bar Martignetti a couple weeks ago, I loved it so much I just had to buy some Pimm’s to recreate the drink at home and enjoy it for less than $11 a glass. So I bought the Pimm’s, a cucumber, a bottle of ginger ale, and some lemonade, and recreated the refreshing drink and enjoyed it. Once. Its not that I didn’t like my version, but I was satisfied after that one glass so much that I just didn’t crave another.

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Most drinks made with bitter alcohols like Pimm’s and the more familiar Campari are meant to be apertifs. That is to say, drunk before dinner (or any meal, really) to open the palate and get the stomach juices going so you can more easily digest your food. The thing is, the bitterness, even when balanced with something sweet like fruit juices or sodas, lingers in a way that makes you not want a refill. Its meant to be a small drink, rather than a cocktail you’ll want seconds (or any number of multiples…) of. So even though that Pimms Cup was delish and I was proud of myself for recreating something so tasty, I haven’t been craving one since I made the first about 2 weeks ago. Not that Pimm’s goes bad, but I hated seeing the full bottle staring back at me every time I opened my food cupboard. It nagged me to be drunk or used in some other creative fashion, and today I finally took up the challenge of the second option.

So what do I do with my Pimms? I made mini turkey meatballs. WHAT?? Yeah. You read what I said. I made mini turkey meatballs with Pimms. How were they? Well, duh, would I put the recipe up here if they weren’t delicious and I wanted to share my discovery? Of course not. They “rock” as my dad would say, and they’re healthy too. What more do you want? A sauce to go with it? Ok, you win. Heat some extra virgin olive oil with 1 clove smashed garlic and cook over medium-low heat until the garlic turns golden. Toss in some pasta (I like stringy pasta with meatballs, especially angel hair since it gives a nice light contrast to the dense meatballs, but use whatever you like) and your cooked meatballs, turn off the heat and sprinkle grated parmesan, chopped parsley, sea salt, and some freshly squeezed lemon juice over the top of the dish and serve immediately. You can also add some chopped tomatoes when you add your garlic if that interests you. It would certainly add some more color, which is always appreciated. In fact, why not add more Pimms with those tomatoes? The sweetness of the tomatoes would really balance out the Pimms’ bitterness.

And one more note about experimenting with this recipe- the point is not to go out and buy Pimms to make these meatballs, and then find yourself- as I did originally- with a bottle of liquor you don’t know what to do with (unless that is, you really want a bottle of Pimms in your liquor cabinet, and then by all means, go ahead and buy it). The point is to use Pimms or Campari if you’ve got it, and if you don’t, use another liquor. Play around- who knows, maybe cranberry juice tastes great in these. You can even mix in some dried cranberries. Food is fun, afterall! : )

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Pimms Polpette

1 lb ground turkey breast

1 shallot, minced

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup grated parmesan

1/4 cup italian flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 tsp orange zest

1 slice bread, crusts removed, soaked in 1 cup Pimms

salt and pepper to taste

olive oil, for cooking

1. Mix together all ingredients except for the ground turkey until the mixture looks well combined.

2. Add ground turkey and mix it in very gently to avoid overworking the meat.

3. Form polpette from the mixture. You’re aiming for mini meatballs with 1” diameters.

4. Heat a large pan with enough olive oil to coat the bottom surface over medium high heat.

5. When the pan’s hot, add the meatballs and leave alone for 3 minutes to ensure nice browning. Flip the meatballs over and finish cooking and browning on the other side, about another minute. Transfer to a plate if you’re going to serve them immediately, or to a baking sheet if you’re going to keep them in a low oven (no higher than 150) while you finish the rest of your meal.

Note: Your pan probably won’t fit all the polpette in one go, so divide the uncooked meatballs in half and brown them in two batches to avoid overcrowding them. (If you overcrowd your pan, you won’t get nicely browned meatballs. The extra food in the pan will cause the heat to drop and your meatballs will steam in the juices they exude. Your meatballs will still be tasty, but they won’t have the depth of flavor that browning gives.)

Enjoy! : )

-M

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There is little that excites me more than a farmer’s market. The colors of the flowers, fruits, and vegetables, the eager smiles of the farmers, the smell of raw milk cheeses, the rough feel of fuzz on white summer peaches, the sound of what can only be someone biting into their favorite variety of apple…I could go on and on. While the USQ farmers’ market is open year-round, the time to go is now. Red raspberries, cherries, blueberries, apricots, and numerous varieties of squash abound, and we are just starting to see beautiful red currants, black raspberries, and even small sugar plums. Baby cucumbers can’t wait to be pickled, zucchini blossoms are ready to be stuffed, and all the steamer clams need- from Pura Vida’s stall, of course- are some eager mouths. Check out these photos from this weekend. Barely any comments are necessary, as the photos clearly speak for themselves.

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All eggplants, even the one that look like tomatoes!

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Beautiful array of herbs

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Think they have enough blueberries?

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gorgeous flowers

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20 feet of peppers

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glowing tomatoes

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Pickled everything, from beets to beans

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potted cacti

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Migliorelli Farms always has a great assortment of fruits and veg

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Pura Vida’s fish stall

beans galore
beans galore

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F.E.D. Fridays


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The Mighty Egg

Fabulous Egg Dish (FED) Fridays

What better way to start a food blog than with a post about the mighty egg? It can be prepared sweet or savory, hard or soft, light and airy or thick and creamy (to name just a few!), and I like it every way. Eggs give custard its decadent texture, meringue its delicacy, and pastry crust its sheen. While others debate its nutritional merits, I marvel at its wholesomeness. After all, it does contain all of the essential nutrients to create a living chick or duckling, right? What other proteins we eat are that complete? Eggs contain the highest quality protein available to us, they are a great source of choline (necessary for the development of the brain, especially its memory center) and they have very little saturated fat. And, obviously, they’re tasty.

What I’m most interested in though, is not how healthy or tasty eggs are. Most people know that eggs are cheap and healthy eats. (And if you find yourself enticed by that pop science gossip about eggs being bad for you, try to remember that humans have successfully been eating eggs for about 5 thousand years. Check out this short excerpt on eggs (is it an egg-cerpt then?) from a really wonderful online publication, if you’re interested in this topic. )

Back to what I was saying. What concerns me is that many people don’t realize how versatile the egg is. Sure, you can bake with it, make pancakes and french toast with it, and even attempt souffles with it, but we live in an age where are palates are eager for excitment and novelty, and its time to start using the egg as creatively as its composition allows. This isn’t to say that I won’t ever include simple egg dishes here; I will, and I do below. But in addition to those recipes, I will also include ones that utilize the egg in more creative ways. If the recipes are not my own, I will always note it below the recipe’s title.

So, here are two recipes. The first, for perfect hard-boiled eggs, is a master recipe, that will make your life easier and your hard-boiled eggs consistently delightful. The second, for Brik, is a variation of a Tunisian recipe that I have been dying to try ever since I saw it in a recent issue of Gourmet.

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Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs

Thanks to Chef Mike Schwartz at the Institute of Culinary Eduction for this method

1. Place fresh eggs in their shells directly into a small pot so that they fit neatly on the bottom in one layer.

2. Fill the pot with water until the eggs are covered by 3-4 inches.

3. Place the pot on a burner and turn the heat as high as it will go, and bring the eggs to a full boil, uncovered.

4. Once the water boils, immediately cover the pot, take it off the heat, and set aside, still covered, for 11 minutes.

5. During these 11 minutes, you’ll have time to get a bowl of ice water ready, and when the 11 minutes are up, plunge your eggs into the cold water. You can change the water, or just add more ice to it, if it warms up from the residual heat of the eggs.

6. Once the eggs have cooled, you can use them immediately or store them in your refridgerator for 3-4 days.

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Hard-boiled Egg and Raw Chioggia Beets on Toast with Cranberry-Blueberry Jam

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Brik (pronounced “Breek”)

Serves 8

adapted from Gourmet Magazine

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 7-oz pack of tuna, mashed (if using canned tuna, drain first)
1 small russet potato, boiled or baked, skin removed, cut into small pieces (no bigger than a 1/2 inch wide)
3 tablespoons of parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon of capers, rinsed and dried
pinch cayenne
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
8 egg roll wrappers
8 egg yolks
1 egg white
Oil for frying (Olive Oil- not extra virgin!- is best, but Canola Oil is fine)

Method:

1. Fill a large, wide pot with an inch of oil and heat to 350 degrees.

2. While the oil is heating up, saute the chopped onion until lightly browned and soft.

3. Mix together the tuna, potatoes, parsley, lemon juice, parmesan, cayenne/harissa, capers (if using), and season to taste with salt and pepper. If you want it spicier, feel free to adjust the amount of cayenne/harissa you use, but just make sure you add some salt before you adjust the spice, or you wont be able to tell how spicy it really is (i.e. salt brings out the spiciness).

4. When the onions are done, add them to this mixture (including the oil you cooked them in), and taste again to make sure the seasoning is right.

5. Place an egg roll wrapper on a clean surface, spoon 3 tablespoons of filling in the center of each and with the back of the spoon make a well in the center of each dollop of filling (or better yet, just use your fingers to form a ring- it works better). The filling should now look like a ring. Gently place one egg yolk into the center of each ring, trying hard not to break it, and brush the edges of each wrapper with some of the egg white. Fold each corner of the wrapper into the center, one at a time, to form a package, using extra egg white as necessary to seal the package. Repeat with the other 7 egg roll wrappers.

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6. Shallow fry in oil until lightly golden, flipping once to ensure even browning, about 3-4 minutes total. Serve immediately!

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Innards!

Tip: Eating these can be a challenge as the yolk will still be runny. Hold them upright to avoid needing a bib : ) You can also just use a knife and fork, but that takes the fun out of eating them…Plus you’ll inevitably lose some of the yummy yolk as it oozes onto your plate. Either way, enjoy : )

-M

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Welcome!

While this blog is not quite ready for actual posts, it will be up and ready within the next week, so check back soon!

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