Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Bacon-Wrapped Cod {Flop}


While I loved the idea of bacon wrapped fish, I clearly need a do-over. I call 'mulligan!' Or maybe I should actually follow someone else's tried and true recipe instead of winging it blindly.

I figured: How hard could it be?

Let's just say my fish was overdone and the bacon was not done enough. Ugh. So, apparently it's harder than I thought.


But I am posting this because as much as I love sharing my kitchen successes and triumphs, I find it equally important that we share those flops, too. It makes us human and encourages us to embrace the fact that we aren't Martha Stewart...at least not everyday, right?

And if any of my dear readers has a recipe for bacon-wrapped fish that they adore, send it over. I'll give it a try. Thanks in advance.

Spicy Lemongrass-Kissed Chicken Wings + Product Review #sponsor #giveaway

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Gourmet Garden. All opinions are my own.

I have worked with Gourmet Garden on several different events in recent years. Through those events - #HotSummerEats, #FreshTastyValentines, #10DaysofTailgate, and #TripleSBites - I have created a variety of savories and sweets, including - but not limited to - Grilled Lemongrass LambSavory Hops GranolaChili-Cumin Pan-Fried MeatballsSavory Hemp Seed Pesto TrufflesRoasted Broccolini SoupLemongrass Ginger Cheesecake.

Needless to say, I'm more than a little smitten with the ease that these products provide.


Gourmet Garden has Stir-In Herb Pastes as well as Lightly Dried Herbs. I once shadowed a chef for a day and he commented that, if you're using quality ingredients, you often don't need much more than salt, pepper, and some herbs. Those herbs add layers to a dish through their flavor, color, and aroma.

And, let's just be clear, we don't all have an herb garden at our fingertips. Even if we do have an herb garden, it doesn't produce all year long. That's where my love of Gourmet Garden come in. Their products are available in the refrigerated produce area of your grocery store; their herbs stay fresh for weeks. Weeks! So, you can have herbs at the ready when you need them.

Additionally, all of the products are GMO-free. These are products I feel good about using.


And, though I love all of their stir-in pastes, my absolute favorite is their lemongrass paste. Do you know why? Have you ever tried to mince lemongrass? It takes more patience and more knife-skills than I have. So, when I am creating a recipe that requires minced lemongrass, I head to the grocery store for a tube from Gourmet Garden.

I want to share one of my favorite ways to use lemongrass. At the bottom of this post, you have a chance to win an entire package of herbs and spices from Gourmet Garden, so keep reading.

 Spicy Lemongrass-Kissed Chicken Wings

Ingredients serves 4
  • 2 pounds chicken wings, separated into drumettes and wings (tips discarded)
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/3 C hot sauce
  • 1 t white garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 t black garlic*, peeled and minced
  • 1 T red chili pepper paste (prefer Gourmet Garden)
  • 1 T lemongrass paste (prefer Gourmet Garden)
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 T toasted sesame oil
  • 1 T water
  • 2 T vinegar (I used a rice wine vinegar)
  • 2 t gluten-free tamari (soy sauce is fine)
* If you are unfamiliar with black garlic, you can read about it: here. And if you can't find any, just use more white garlic.


Procedure
Preheat the oven to 450° F. Line baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the wings with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place wings - skin side up - on the prepared baking sheet. Roast them for 45 to 50 minutes. They will be cooked through and the skin nicely browned and crisped.

While the wings roast, whisk all of the remaining ingredients together to create a hot sauce. When the wings are done, add them to the sauce. and toss to coat. Serve immediately.


The Giveaway
This giveaway runs from May 25th, 2016 through June 6th, 2016 and is open to U.S. residents, age 18 & up only. All entries for the winner will be checked and verified. The number of entries received determines the odds of winning. One winner will be selected. The prize package will be sent directly from the giveaway sponsor. I am not responsible for the fulfillment or delivery of the prize packages. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Find Gourmet Garden
on the web

*Full Disclosure: I received an assortment of prepared and lightly dried herbs for recipe development and an assortment to giveaway to a reader. I received no additional compensation for this post; all comments are 100% accurate and 100% my own.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Recipe Testing: Radish Sashimi for Food52


I signed up to test a recipe for Food52: Radish Sashimi by Alexandra of Lollipopsicle. Alexandra writes that "this recipe is a fun lil’ play on Japanese sashimi [because she likes] to prepare produce like you would animal protein."

I have to admit that, initially, I wasn't sure I agreed with the recipe title. Sashimi? When I think of sashimi, I think more of this...


...than this...


But, I think that 'sashimi' refers to the fact that it's thinly sliced not so much that it's fish. So, if that's the case, this is radish sashimi. And, as Alexandria suspected, I was entranced with this dish. It was ridiculously simple with a refreshing crunch and surprising silkiness. I did skip the sugar - only because I forgot about it; we didn't miss it. And we will be making this dish again. Probably tomorrow.


Ingredients serves 3 to 4

  • 1 bunch organic radishes
  • 2 T gluten-free tamari
  • 2 t olive oil
  • zest and juice from 1 organic lime
  • 1 to 2 t fresh herbs, finely chopped


Procedure
Wash and dry radishes. Slice radishes on the thinnest setting of a mandolin. Place them on a serving plate. Drizzle with tamari, olive oil, and lime juice. Sprinkle with lime zest and fresh herbs. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Grilled Strawberry & Blue Basil Granita for #SundaySupper


Throw Something on the Barbie...
As the days lengthen and warm, my culinary mind turns to the grill. Well, most of the time. This Spring, however, our grill is packed away as we prepare to move houses, again, this Summer. But I still have my grill pan - that I use on the stove - and I got the nod that it was okay to participate in this Sunday Supper Movement event even though my dish is not technically cooked on a grill.

Thanks to Sue from A Palatable Pastime for hosting this fun event.

All the Grilled Goodies...

Patio Libations
Let’s Get This BBQ Started!
The Main Event
On a Side Note
Saucy Sentiments and Rebellious Rubs
Finishing Touches
Plus Piri Piri Sauce and Recipes for Summer Grilling from Sunday Supper Movement


Unusually sweet...
Those who read my blog even somewhat regularly know that my recipes tend towards the savory. So, it surprised even me when I decided to share a grilled sweet for today's round-up!


I made a granita with grilled strawberries, adding a touch of exotic with blue basil from my Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf's herb garden.

Granita is a frozen dessert that I remember mostly from Sicily. It may have been available throughout Italy, but I remember sitting in piazze all over Palermo, eating granita, and talking about our next day's adventure. I don't remember that gloriously cool rush of icy sugar from when I lived in Rome. My favorite part: It's amazingly simple and flexible. 

Granitas are great because they have so few ingredients and even fewer rules! Use any watery fruit. Use any citrus. I've made Watermelon-Tequila Granita, Pluot-Port Granita, and even a Cuba Libra Granita. Okay, there's not real fruit in that last one, but you really can't go wrong with rum and coke!


Ingredients
  • 1 C water
  • 1 C organic granulated sugar
  • 4 T blue basil leaves and blossoms + a few whole flowers for garnish
  • 1 ½ pounds strawberries, approximately 2 pints


Procedure
Place blue basil in a sterile jar. Bring water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Cook until sugar is dissolved, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Pour the syrup into the jar with the blue basil. Let cool completely.


Heat grill or grill pan on the stove; I opted for the latter as our grill is packed and ready for our move. Thread strawberries onto a skewer.


Grill strawberries until softened and juices are bubbling, approximately 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.


Once cooled puree grilled strawberries with 1/2 C blue basil syrup. Reserve the rest for some blue basil lemonade!


Pour mixture into a rimmed pan . Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer.


Using the tines of a fork, stir the mixture every 30 minutes, scraping edges and breaking up any ice chunks as the mixture freezes, until granita is slushy and frozen, approximately 3 hours.


Scoop into chilled serving glasses.



Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET.

Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It's easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Sazerac + The Restaurant Critic's Wife for Foodie Reads 2016


While April was a ridiculously unproductive month for me in regards to the Foodie Reads 2016 Challenge, I have carved out full afternoons to read this month. I had started The Restaurant Critic's Wife by Elizabeth LaBan* earlier this week. But, this afternoon, I curled up under a blanket - while Jake worked on the 8th grade graduation video and the boys did homework - and read the rest of it. I love losing myself in the pages of an entertaining read.

On the Page...
I had initially thought this novel would be a breezy read about a series of restaurant reviews. It was much more than that.

Lila is the restaurant critic's wife and they have recently relocated from New Orleans to Philadelphia. Sam, her restaurant critic husband, is obsessed with anonymity and wants her to stay out of the public's eye. That means he doesn't want he to socialize with her friend from college who has recently opened a restaurant; he doesn't even want her to get to know their new neighbors; and he definitely doesn't want her to befriend a local waiter at one of the city's most swanky spots.

Lila, pre-Sam and pre-kids, was a dynamite crisis manager for a chain of hotels. She was like a public relations wizard. Now, she is often covered in spit-up and spends her days alone with her two young children, Hazel and Henry.

As I wrote: this book is about much more than eating at different restaurants though there is plenty of food mentioned. This book is about balancing a family. It's about forging a new identity as a wife and a mother. For those of us that are or have balanced being a mother and a professional, this book exposes those feelings that are constantly in flux. And LaBan nails the roller coaster of emotions that comes with reevaluating your life and getting comfortable in your skin.

A brief exchange with her father-in-law stuck with me.

"Thanks for making Sam an incredible family," he whispers in my ear just before he heads out the door. It is the first time anyone has said anything like that to me. ...Have I made an incredible family? I never would have thought myself capable of that.

"Thanks for making Sam," I whisper back.

In My Glass...
As you can imagine, there is a lot of food on these pages. Spaghetti and meatballs is Lila's comfort meal and one that her mom makes whenever she comes to visit. I considered the cranberry pancakes from the diner where she meet her ex-boyfriend for breakfast and realizes that leaving him was not a mistake after all. I even thought to make macaroni and cheese, inspired by the 'Macaroni and Cheese Test' that Sam conducts when they are vacationing at the Jersey Shore.

But I opted to share a recipe for New Orleans' signature cocktail because it is one of my favorites and it was the drink Lila calls Sam to help her make to calm down a nervous chef.

"What can you do for me?" [Chef Landry] asks, and I can hear the Cajun in his words.

"I can get you better crawfish, for one thing, " I say.

"What else?" he asks.

"Better beans,"  I say.

"Anything else?" he asks, cheering up a tiny bit, I think.

"I'll make you a Sazerac," I say.

"I'll be down in about fifteen minutes," he says.


Ingredients makes 2
  • 1 ounce absinthe
  • 4 ounces bourbon
  • 1/2 ounce maple syrup
  • 8 dashes bitters (I used my homemade Meyer Lemon Bitters)
  • Meyer lemon twists for garnish

Procedure 
Pour absinthe, bourbon, and maple syrup into an ice-filled shaker. Shake and strain cocktail into two glasses. Add bitters to the glasses. Rub the rims with a lemon twist and drop twist into the glass. Cheers.

*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.



Here's what everyone else read in May 2016: here.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Cod in a Mushroom-Cream Sauce with Dom Pichot Vouvray for #Winophiles


Welcome to the May event for The French Winophiles, a wine-swilling, food-loving group coordinated by Christy of Confessions of a Culinary Diva. We've made it around France. And by clicking on the following regions you can read my recipe post that includes the #winophiles round-up as well. So far, we've traveled - by tabletop and goblet - to the Loire Valley, Corsicathe SouthwestLanguedoc-Roussillon, Côtes du Rhône, Bordeaux, Champagne, Burgundy, and Alsace.

To Vouvray

Today we're headed to Vouvray. Located in the heart of Touraine, Vouvray - having been granted A.O.C. status in 1936 - is one of France's oldest, but the grapes themselves have been grown there since the 4th century. Vouvray's single grape varietal, that thrives in the region's clay and limestone soils, is Chenin Blanc, known locally as Pineau de la Loire.

The Conversation
Join us for a live Twitter Chat Saturday, May 21st at 11 am EST/8 am PCT. You may join in the revelry by following hashtag #winophiles. A Vôtre Santé!

The Other Winophiles...
In My Glass...

I was able to track down a bottle of 2014 Domaine Pichot Vouvray Le Peu de la Moriette. The Pichot family dates its start as viticulturists and restaurateurs to the mid-18th century. They harvest mostly done by hand and all of their vineyards are now organically farmed with grasses grown between the rows to reduce the uptake of moisture to the vines.

A pale straw hue in color, this Vouvray is dry with aromas characteristic of Chenin Blanc. With ripe fruit on the nose and mild spice on the tongue with hints of honey, I figured that it would be ideal with foie gras, ripe cheeses, or any desserts. So, I decided to go with a rich, creamy entree.

On My Plate...
Ingredients serves 4

Cod
  • 4 cod fillets
  • 1 C fish stock
  • 1/4 C oil
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
Sauce
  • 1 leek, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 C mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 T butter, divided into 2 T and 1 T
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 to 2 T flour (I used a rice flour to keep it gluten-free)
  • 1/2 C white wine
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 1 C heavy cream
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
Procedure

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper. Place in a rimmed baking dish and let stand for at least 5 minutes at room temperature.

Pour stock and oil over the fish. Roast uncovered, until fish just flakes and is cooked through, approximately 45 to 50 minutes. While the fish roasts, make the sauce on the stovetop.


In a large, flat-bottom pan, melt 2 T butter in 1 T olive oil. Add the leeks and mushrooms. Cook until the leeks are translucent and the mushrooms are softened. Add in 1 T butter and let melt. Whisk in the flour until a roux forms. 


Pour in the wine, milk, and heavy cream. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until nicely thickened.


To serve, place cooked filets on your serving plates. Spoon the sauce over the top of the cod and serve immediately.

Hand-Rolled, Hand-Cut Cuttlefish Ink Pasta for Bizarre Foods


While I don't find using cuttlefish ink that bizarre, the boys decided we should cook with cuttlefish ink for my Bizarre Foods SEM because "other kids might not have ever tried it." Okay. That makes sense.



Ingredients makes 2 to 3 servings
  • 1 C flour (I used a blend with semolina, bread flour, and all-purpose flour)
  • 1 egg
  • water, as needed
  • 2 t cuttlefish ink


Procedure
Spoon the pasta flour blend into a large mixing bowl and make a hollow in the center, like a volcano. Spoon the cuttlefish ink into the crater of the flour volcano.


Use a fork to begin incorporating the flour. Making a whisking motion with your fork, starting in the middle and blending in the flour from the bottom moving upwards. If your dough is too wet, add a small amount of flour; if your dough is too dry and crumbly, add water 1 t at a time. Turn the dough onto a lightly dusted board and knead for 5 minutes until the dough is elastic and smooth.


Roll out as thinly as you can. I found that rolling it into a long rectangle make the most even strips.


Once the pasta dough is as thin as you can get it, starting at one (short) end of the rectangle, roll the dough into a cylinder.

  
With a sharp knife, hand cut the roll into pieces whose width is the width you want for your pasta. I went with wide fettucine; the kids did all different widths. Carefully unroll the strips and you're all set.

To cook: drop the pasta strips into boiling water. They will cook in about 3 minutes.

*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more, but it helps support my culinary adventures in a small way. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.

Black Tea-Lime Kombucha for #CrazyIngredientChallenge


I love the idea behind the Crazy Ingredient Challenge (CIC); we are assigned two ingredients to cook and create. This month, Kelly of Passion Kneaded and Lori of Lori's Culinary Creations are hosting. So, here goes...


May's Crazy Ingredient Challenge = black tea and lime

Since my husband has been brewing his own kombucha for several months now - and always uses black tea as his base - I asked if he'd add in some lime leaves for one batch. He agreed. Sweet!


I had some Black Dragon Pearls where each tea pearl is comprised of 30 handpicked leaves and buds. They are rolled immediately before the leaves can dry. They are so pretty! And - for the lime part of the challenge - I opted to use thin shards of Makrut lime leaves. Click to read about Makrut limes (I used to call them Kaffir limes): here

Now a bit about kombucha, if you're unfamiliar. Kombucha is the beverage the ancient Chinese called the “Immortal Health Elixir.” It’s been around for more than two millennium and has a vibrant anecdotal history of health benefits such as preventing and fighting cancer, arthritis, and other degenerative diseases. Kombucha is brewed from sweetened tea that is fermented by a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, also known as a SCOBY. Our SCOBY is named Scooby! This is Scooby. I know it's not pretty, but it produces some amazing, healthy drinks for us.


 Ingredients 
makes 1 gallon

  • 2 T black dragon pearls (or substitute black tea leaves if you wish)
  • 4 C water + more cool, filtered water
  • 1 C organic granulated sugar
  • 2 T shredded Makrut lime leaves (I got mine at Whole Foods)
  • Also needed (all included in the Kombucha Brewing Kit*): 1 gallon brewing jug, thermometer, muslin reusable tea bag, SCOBY, cheesecloth, individual bottles, and large funnel

Procedure

Place 4 C water in a medium saucepan. While that comes to a boil, place 2 T black tea leaves into your muslin bag. I attach the string to a wooden chopstick so I can get it out of the pan easily when I'm done brewing.

Once the water comes to a boil, remove the pan from heat and submerge your tea bag in the water. Let steep for 7 to 10 minutes. Remove the tea bag, pressing all the liquid from the leaves as much as you can. 

Stir in the sugar until completely dissolved. Let cool 5 to 10 minutes. Pour the sweetened tea into your gallon jar and fill until the liquid sits just below the shoulder of the jar. Once it comes to room temperature, approximately 66 degrees, gently pour in the SCOBY and 1/2 C of the previous brewing liquid. If you don't have any previously brewed kombucha, you can use a store bought kombucha; they sell them in most grocery stores these days.

Cover the jar with cheesecloth and rubber band it tightly. Put the jar in a warm area where it can stay between 64 and 68 degrees. Let ferment for 12 to 14 days. Then you can bottle the kombucha for its secondary fermentation with the lime leaves.

Place a pinch of Makrut lime leaves into the individual bottles. Remove the SCOBY and place into a sterile jar with 1/2 to 1 C of the brewing liquid for your next batch. Using your large funnel, pour the kombucha into the individual bottles. Close tightly and let ferment for another 7 days. After that, it should be tart with a touch of sweetness and have light carbonation.

Cheers!




And, in case you're interested in trying your hand at homemade kombucha or other fermented drinks, Delicious Probiotics is a must read. I've also linked up to the brewing kit we've been using and one more book on kombucha that I found helpful!



*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.

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