Saturday, October 23, 2010

All in the Family


Veal Loin Chops in Balsamic-Marsala Syrup with Anchovy Butter

For the anchovy butter:

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

4-5 anchovy fillets in oil

for the veal:

8 Veal Loin Chops

Unbleached All-Purpose Flour or Brown Rice Flour

Kosher Salt & Cracked Black Pepper

4 T Unsalted Butter

4 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Marsala Wine

1 Large Shallot, thinly sliced in rings or half-rings

Aged Balsamic Vinegar

¾ cup chopped flat leaf parsley

1. Begin with the butter. Mash the butter with a fork in a small bowl. Add the anchovies and continue mashing until fully incorporated.

2. Spoon the butter mixture onto a sheet of plastic wrap, folding and rolling the butter into the shape of a small log. Place in freezer to solidify for easier slicing later.

3. Pat each veal chop in clean paper towels to dry completely. Divide the butter and oil in two heavy bottomed skillets (not non-stick), so as not to crowd the chops, and melt over medium-high heat. (Patting the meat dry prior to flouring and using non-stick pans will ensure a good crust on the chops.)

4. Mix a mound of flour (whichever kind you choose) with a healthy amount of the salt and pepper as this will be the only seasoning for the meat. Dip each chop in the flour mixture and shake gently to remove excess. (Do not flour until ready to sear or flour will become soggy and won’t form the desired golden brown crust.)

5. Carefully place each chop in the pans as the butter and oil begin to bubble but not brown. Leave some room between the chops and don’t touch for 4-5 minutes. Then check for browning and turn over. Let sear for another 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and keep warm by covering with foil.

6. Scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, add the sliced shallots and wilt. Then add the marsala wine and let reduce while scraping the pan some more. (This is called “deglazing the pan”.) When the shallots are soft and the marsala thickens slightly, add the balsamic and heat. Then add the veal chops and cook for a few more minutes until pink in the center.

7. Arrange the chops on a platter, pour the syrup over and slice the anchovy butter into eight pieces. Place a butter slice on top of each chop, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

“Pasta Rags” with Asparagus & Shiitake Mushrooms in Parmesan Cream

1 bunch thick asparagus, ends peeled and blanched

1 lb thin sliced large white mushrooms

1 lb thin sliced shiitake mushrooms (or other wild mushrooms)

1 garlic clove, pressed

2 T unsalted butter

2 T olive oil

truffle salt, if available

or kosher salt

marsala wine

half and half

finely grated imported parmesan regianno

1. Melt butter and oil in heavy bottomed skillet. When bubbling around the edges, add the asparagus, mushrooms and garlic clove. Add a pinch of truffle salt, if using.

2. Sautee until soft, about 8 or 9 minutes, then add marsala. Let marsala reduce a bit, then add half-and-half and some grated parmesan.

For the pasta rags:

Refer back to my post entitled “Cooking Outside the Box” of July 12, 2010 in which I cite a recipe for homemade pasta dough by Mario Battali. While you can certainly use boxed or fresh store-bought pasta, (for this sauce, I would recommend either a tagliatelli or fettucine, but whatever you have in your pantry is perfectly fine as long as it’s not too delicate), I love using my pasta machine and still have so much to learn about making my own pasta, that I chose to make it while my family and our close friends hung out in the kitchen. If using a machine, connect the plain sheet roller and make long thin pieces of pasta, going all the way down to #6 or 7, so the finished product is really, really thin and delicate. (Remember, pasta this thin will cook almost immediately in simmering water, so do not walk away from the pot!)

To make the “rags” simply cut or tear the long, thin pieces into squares that are approximately 3-4 inches on all sides. This does not have to be perfect, in fact, a sort of rough look is preferable, so don’t sweat it.

To serve the pasta and sauce, I would spoon a little of the sauce liquids onto the plate to keep the pasta from sticking. Then, slowly ‘wrinkle’ the cooked pasta rags onto the puddle of sauce and place a scant ladle of the sauce with vegetables atop. Finish with another fine grate of imported parmesan. Yum!


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Necessity is the Mother of Invention or...Use It or Lose It!

Our son, Adam has recently begun working out with and following the nutritional advice of a personal trainer. The two have formed a great relationship and Adam is reaping significant benefits from this challenging pursuit. As a result, my cooking skills are also being tested as I sometimes struggle to develop new and appealing ways to cook poultry and fish, as red meats are currently verboten. In my desire to support Adam's efforts, I’ve also made the switch from cooking with all things ‘white’ such as potatoes, rice, breads, and flours, to more wholesome multigrain or wholewheat ingredients. We’ve both had to make some adjustments but agree that it’s been worth the effort.

I don’t often make fish dishes at home because my husband, Daniel doesn’t like it. (I know, can you imagine ruling out an entire food group? But that’s another post.) So with Adam’s new dietary regimen, I’ve been branching out, and yesterday I purchased about a pound of halibut for our dinner. (Daniel would be having the remaining short ribs I’d made the previous night for company.) Intending to make poached fish tacos in place of fried, I knew this would be a great way to use up the leftover and soon to wind up in the trash romaine lettuce, almost overripe heirloom tomato, and slightly browning avocado I left on the counter after making a turkey sandwich for my lunch. That was until I returned home and discovered someone ate the remaining whole wheat tortillas I thought were still in the fridge. So now what to do with this halibut?

I browsed my bookshelves of cookbooks and reflected on a recipe I read in Nancy Silverton’s A Twist of the Wrist (2007) called “Garbage Salad”, which she created one night after deciding to empty her refrigerator of miscellaneous items. Spying the numerous jars and bottles of asian ingredients on my own refrigerator door, I decided it was time to use them or lose them. Somehow I’d figure out a compelling way to mix all of them into a sweetly sour sauce for our fish, including that stub of fresh ginger wrapped tightly and waiting quietly in the freezer.

Some of the most satisfying meals I’ve made for myself or family have come from a spontaneous refrigerator clearing effort. More often than not, I find myself fondly remembering just such a dish and being unable to reproduce it for lack of written notes. Most frustrating. Here then, as a memory jog for me and hopefully, an inspiration for you, is last night’s dinner. (I regret the absence of a photo but the fish was so good, we scarfed it down before I thought to capture an image!)

2 T dark sesame oil

1 T vegetable or canola oil

1 one pound boneless halibut

sea salt/fresh ground black pepper

Pat the halibut dry with a clean paper towel to facilitate the formation of a crisp crust. Sprinkle very lightly with salt and pepper, and heat the two oils in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. As oils begin to ripple, carefully lay the halibut in the pan, turning once after about 3-4 minutes. When both sides are seared, lower the flame and continue cooking fish, covered with a lid. Meanwhile, mix the following ingredients in a bowl:

2 t fish sauce

scant ¼ cup teriyaki sauce

1 T plum sauce

1 T mirin (Japanese rice flavored wine)

1 T oyster sauce

1 t grated fresh ginger

1 crushed garlic clove

When the fish is just barely opaque in the center, add the sauce to the pan to heat thru. Turn off the heat, place the fish on a bed of brown rice or tangy greens and spoon over some of the sauce. Enjoy!

(Note: We paired our halibut with sweet potato fritters made with wholewheat breadcrumbs, and sautéed French green beans with shallots, mushrooms & sliced almonds.)