How to extend summer, although Autumn has just arrived:
How to extend summer, although Autumn has just arrived:
BRRRRR…… It’s Siberian cold here; it has been that way for the past couple weeks ever since we got 2+ feet of snow. What better mid winter warm-me-up dinner than mussels steamed in kimchi and topped with braised pork belly?
Serves 4 as an entre:
The day before serving the mussels, place them in a large bowl filled with water that has 3-4 T of flour mixed in. This not only purges the mussels but feeds them. After 24 hours, drain and rinse them well.
Put 1 1/2 cups of Kimchi in a large stock pot with the white wine, and bring to a boil. Then add the mussels, cover and cook until the mussels shells open up (less than five minutes). In the meantime, slice the braised, deboned pork belly into narrow strips or slices. Warm them up in a saute pan with a T of olive oil for a couple of minutes, or micro wave them for 45 seconds.
When the mussel shells have opened, drain them in a colander with a bowl underneath to catch the broth. Divide the mussels among the bowls, ladle the reserved kimchi broth into each bowl, and top with the warmed pork belly slices. Slice the remaining 1/2 cup (or more) of kimchi into strips and garnish each bowl. Serve immediately with big pieces of fresh rustic bread.
Searching for Giant Sea Urchin that cost a Fortune:
Last Saturday night, the 2GMs enjoyed dinner at Bouley in NYC. We opted for the 3 course prix fixe, but the couple next to us chose the chef’s 6 course taster. Their meal started off with a brace of the largest sea urchins I’ve seen east of the Mississippi, billed as Malibu Sea Urchins. I momentarily regretted not going with the chef’s taster. But later, I consoled myself with one of the best desserts I’ve ever had, a chocolate souffle (the other GM had a Mandarin Clementine tart that was truly unbelievable.)
But back to sea urchins. The following morning we stopped by Chelsea Market on the lower west side of Manhattan to purvey at the green grocer, Buon Italia, and the Lobster Place. Amazingly, while at The Lobster Place, we found endless quantities of whole giant California sea urchins, just like the ones I spied the night before at Bouley’s. They were larger than softballs, with a price tag to match. The 2GMs picked out a couple, and once home, back on Eastern Long Island, Rosaria snipped off their tops and plated them. The thing about uni is that no matter how many you have, or how large they are (each of the five lobes of uni roe inside the shell was as big as a person’s tongue!), you just never seem to have enough of that creamy, briny, sweet gold of the sea. After we inhaled them and washed them down with a well chilled muscadet, in addition to not having more sea urchins, I lamented not having another couple of the Mandarin Clementine tarts from the night before to enjoy after our uni.
Back in the day, especially when I lived in coastal Massachusetts, I made Lobster a l’Americaine regularly. It was probably the first complicated Julia Child recipe that I mastered. Now, living on the Eastern End of Long Island, I still have excellent access to great, fresh lobster. For the past decade or so, I’ve prepared lobster in myriad ways; but my go-to method has been lobster either butter poached or sous vide in butter. Hungry for lobster the other day, I proposed to the other gourmaniac that we go old school and that I’d make Lobster Americaine. Dishes prepared à l’américaine consist of a luscious tomato-wine sauce.
I pretty much relied upon Julia Child here: although, instead of her suggestion for an accompaniment of risotto, I made fresh linguine .
Ingredients (Serves 4 people):
3 1-½ to 2 lb lobsters (hard shell, not shedders that are found during the late summer)
4-5 Tbsp canola oil
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 medium stalk of celery, peeled and finely diced
1 medium white onion, finely sliced
4 Tbsp finely minced shallots
4 cloves of finely minced garlic
1/3 cup of cognac
5 medium fresh tomatoes on the vine, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 cup fish stock (preferably home-made)
1-½ cup white wine
2 Tbsp tomato paste
4 Tbsp chopped parsley
4 Tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
6 Tbsp soften unsalted butter
Basil florets for garnish
The reserved coral (the red and / or green stuff inside the lobsters)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Kill the lobsters. Separate the claws and knuckles, and the tails from the lobster bodies, reserve the coral and/or the green stuff inside the lobster bodies. With a heavy a kitchen knife or poultry shears, cut the tails into three pieces, detached the claws from the knuckles and crack each claw.
Coat a large Dutch oven (or casserole) with the canola oil and place on high heat on the stove top. When it’s hot, but not smoking, throw in the lobster pieces. Move them around with a wooden spatula, turning them. Cover with a lid and continue to heat, checking on the lobster pieces until the shells are red. (The lobster meat inside the shells shoul not be cooked by this point.) Transfer the lobster from the Dutch oven to a bowl. Immediately place the carrot, celery and onion in the Dutch oven, lower the heat and cook until tender, about five minutes.
When the aromatics are cooked, season the lobster pieces with salt and pepper, then return them to the Dutch oven, and increase the heat to high. Add the garlic and shallots and cover to build up the heat: don’t let the aromatics or the garlic and shallots burn. After a minute or so, remove the lid, pour in the cognac, and ignite with a long neck igniter. (Careful here!)
After the flames subside, pour in the wine and fish stock, and incorporate the tomato paste. Add the chopped tarragon. Reduce the heat and cook on the stovetop for several minutes until everything is simmering. (The aroma is intoxicating.) Remove from the stovetop; cover the Dutch oven with a lid and place in the 350 degree oven for about 18-20 minutes.
In the meantime, bring a simmering stockpot of salted water to a boil, and just as the lobster comes out of the oven, cook the linguine or fettuccine until al dente.
In a small bowl, blend the coral/green lobster stuff with the softened butter. It will look like a paste. Remove the lobster pieces from the Dutch oven and transfer to a bowl. Take ½ cup of the cooking liquid from the casserole, and add it to the bowl of the butter-coral mixture, whisk quickly, and immediately return to the Dutch oven. Whisk until combined; you’ll notice the cooking liquid begin to thicken. Add the lobster back in and coat with the thickened sauce.
Drain the pasta, plate with the lobster pieces on top of the linguine. Ladle some of the scrumptious sauce into each dish, and garnish with chopped parsley and basil florets.
I just returned from a week in Western Canada. To be exact I was skiing in Banff, Alberta. In fact, one mountain I skied several times sat on the border between western Alberta and eastern British Columbia. Have I ever mentioned how much I love all edible things that come from the northwest Pacific ocean? And not the least, I love the vast selection of oysters from Washington State and British Columbia. So being so relatively close to the motherlode, I thought oysters would have been spilling off restaurant tables in Banff. Not exactly. Alberta and Banff are much more cowboy country. Beef and wild game prevail. It’s definitely the place to go for bison, elk, and even bear. Definitely not the place to go for fresh fish and oysters.
So, I’ve been salivating for oysters. Yesterday, I picked up a couple dozen of North Shore Long Island’s finest. And instead of simply shucking them, and pouring down my throat, I decided to do something new. I made a minced topping from organic chicken sausage, seasoned with tomato-basil, and mixed it with a butter sauce and topped the oysters with it, after I let them open on the grill. Although they didn’t exude the ocean’s brininess, theses grilled oysters were a delicious and satisfying appetizer. And they were so quick and easy to make, plus I didn’t have to shuck them. It got me to thinking about substituting the chicken sausages with, say, smoked buffalo sausages.
24 oysters in their shells
4 oz chicken-tomato-basil sausage, minced (substitute chorizo, smoked duck, or your favorite sausage)
2 oz fresh squeezed lime juice (about four limes)
1 Tbsp olive oil
12 oz unsalted butter cut into 1/2 cubes
2 cloves minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons minced ginger
1/2 cup finely chopped parlsey
parsley leaves for serving
Remove the sausage from their skins/casing (if any) and cut or mince into tiny pieces. In a small nonstick sauté pan, heat the olive oil, and then add the minced sausage along with the minced garlic and ginger. Sauté over medium heat until well browned, constantly turning and moving the contents in the pan with a wooden spatula. When done, tansfer to a bowl to cool, and add the lime juice. In the same sauté pan add 2 Tbsp of water and four of the 1/2 butter cubes. Stir with a spatula, collecting any leftover bits of sausage in the pan. Begin adding the rest of the butter, 4 cubes at a time. Arrange all the oysters in a large grilling tray (I used two metal grilling baskets) and place on the hot grill. Remove them once the shells start opening up, about 3-4 minutes. Using a mitt or kitchen towel to handle the oysters, remove the top shell. Arrange the oysters in a warmed serving dish, over scattered parsley leaves.
Quickly finish the sauce by adding the rest of the butter and the chopped parsley, and fold in the sausage mixture, incorporating well. Pour the sausage buttersauce on the oyster with a small ladle and serve immediately.
Swordfish in Chilli, Coconut and Lime-scented Sauce
with Jasmine rice, Naan, and Herb Chutney
The remarkable thing about Indian cuisine for my family is that we inevitably want more. That is, every mouthwatering bite which we cannot possibly consume during a dining feast shared at our favorite Indian restaurants (unless you happen to be my voracious 18 year old son) we crave the next day, when the previous night’s dinner is only a memory. The solution of course is to make our own Indian dinner at home. This is not a hardship for a family that has always “appreciated that an Indian meal was not a heap of rice covered with a slurry of curry.” (rasoi: new indian kitchen)
Following a recent dining experience at Vatan, one of our preferred NYC Indian vegetarian spots, I searched through our 2gourmaniacs extensive cookbook library and got inspired for my next Indian meal by Vineet Bhatia’s beautiful and elegant book “rasoi: new indian kitchen.” In the foreword, the chef explains how he “was saddened by the representation of Indian cuisine and determined to change the perception of Indian food outside his native land.” Well done, I might add, since Bhatia is the recipient of the first Michelin star ever awarded to an Indian restaurateur.
Below is my adaptation of Bhatia’s “prawns poached in chilli, coconut and lime-scented sauce”. I tweaked the recipe and changed several proportions, to allow for extra spiciness, and I used individual portion pieces of swordfish instead of prawns, which I pan-seared prior to poaching in the sauce.
Ingredients (for 6 servings):
6 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp chopped garlic
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated or finely chopped
4 small green chilis, finely chopped
1 stalk lemongrass, 4” of light section, chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
8-10 kaffir lime leaves
2 cans coconut milk
1 Tbsp red chilli paste
6 swordfish steaks
unsweetened coconut flakes or fresh grated coconut
spray cooking oil
In a large sauté pan, cook the garlic in the vegetable oil until lightly golden. Add the onions, ginger, and green chilis and sauté for several more minutes. Add the lemongrass and lime leaves, and let the flavors blend over low heat for 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and chili paste and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Pour the coconut milk in the pan and bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat for a few minutes. If using dry coconut flakes, add them to the sauce now; if fresh grated coconut is available, sprinkle on the plate as garnish when ready to serve. Meanwhile, heat a cast iron skillet, spray with cooking oil and sear the swordfish portions, about 2 minutes per side, until the steaks get a lightly golden-brown crust. Remove swordfish pieces from skillet and add to the sauce. Cover and allow the fish to poach for about 7 minutes, until cooked through, depending on thickness of steaks. Serve with jasmine or basmati rice with green peas, naan bread (optional) and herb chutney. (see my recipe below for some of the best chutney ever!)
RSA’s Awesome Herb Chutney (yields about 2 cups):
Place first 10 ingredients in a food processor bowl and pulse for several minutes, to blend. Meanwhile, drop the liquids through the feed tube and continue to pulse until mixture is bright green and finely blended. Add the yogurt to the bowl and continue to pulse until the chutney is well processed and smooth. Salt to taste, and pulse to blend. Serve as a dip, condiment or sauce, or use as a marinade. Will keep nicely in refrigerator for several days. Enjoy!
Vatan’s Vegetarian Feast
Ever since our latest excursion to Chinatown in lower Manhattan, where we filled our car trunk full of Asian provisions, all I’ve been cooking is Chinese, Thai, and Japanese – and loving it! Here is one dish I made recently; an easy Pad Thai without the tamarind. According to some sources, the original pad Thai did not contain tamarind. So here is what I did, based on a great recipe I found online at About.com Thai Food. Any extra sauce will freeze or refrigerate for next time (I used mine to marinade and stir fry some vegetables the next day). Serves 4, or 2 adults and 1 hungry teenager.
For the sauce:
Sometimes it just amazes me how long prepping a dinner can take. For this Christmas dinner, the other gourmaniac and I prepped for three days for what we thought was an easy dinner. We sat fifteen at the table: you don’t have to be a math major to calculate the dish, glass, and flatware count, and the cleanup afterwards.
Having said that; it was an incredible meal. In some ways, it epitomizes the 2GM’s 2012 year in food. I made a very traditional, old school salmon paté en croute, and then I sous vide four different types of seafood. Somewhere in the culinary technique middle space I rolled out and hand-cut papparadelle. The other gourmaniac took the sous vide octopus, seppia and scungilli, along with calamari and other seafood, and masterfully made the best seafood salad I’ve ever had the pleasure of sliding across my palate.
Without getting into specific recipes, I’ll share the 2GMs 2012 Christmas Dinner menu. And I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank all those of you who have visited us throughout the year at 2gourmaniacs.com. This past month we saw the most visits since we started our blog; over six thousands hits. Best wishes for the holidays and a Happy New Year. Or to paraphrase the “World’s Most Interesting Guy”…stay hungry my friends.
Christmas Dinner 2012
At the island
Apple & Onion with Goat Cheese Tart
Molded Salmon Pate
Pan Sautéed Tuna Belly Slivers
Uni on Cucumber Slices
Escargot and Wild Mushrooms in Puff Pastry with Demi Glace
Seafood Salad (Insalata ai frutti di mare)
with Sous vide Octopus, Seppia and Scungilli
Salmon Fish Filets over hand-cut Pappardelle with Lobster sauce
Root Vegetable Cassoulet
Marquise au Chocolate
Egg Nog Ice Cream
Now THAT’s what we call a Christmas dinner, with the benefit of some amazing leftovers! We can now stop cooking – for a brief while.
If you have been following 2Gourmaniacs for a while, you’ll recall how much we like octopus. The secret to great octopus is slooooooowwwwwwww cooking. A great way is to braise it in a 275 degree oven. Refer to: http://www.2gourmaniacs.com/fine-food-food-photography/braised-octopus-asian-courtbouillon/
But recently it occurred to me that octopus would be an ideal candidate for sous vide. So, in preparation for another 2Gourmaniac Christmas dinner, I made a test sous vide octopus appetizer. Actually, it would be great as a first course, or with just one or two medallions, it could be a wonderful amuse bouche.
Serves 6 as an appetizer, 12 as an amuse bouche
1 large octopus (4-5 lbs); if frozen, thaw in the refrigerator
1 peeled and sliced carrot
1 large shallot minced
10 juniper berries
1 large celery stalk peeled and sliced
8 black peppercorns
8 white peppercorns
3 bay leaves
¼ cup white whine
2 Tbsp mirin
Place the whole octopus in a vacuum bag with all the above ingredients and seal it. Insert the sealed bag in the sous vide oven bath, already warmed up to 170 degrees temperature, and let it slow cook for 7 hours.
When ready, remove the bag with the octopus from the water oven and let it cool to room temperature. Cut open the bag and remove the octopus. (there will be visible shrinking because much of water has rendered from it). Discard the rest of the bag’s contents. Pat the octopus dry with a clean kitchen towel and center it on a large piece of plastic wrap spread out on a work surface. I positioned all the tentacles alongside the body, pointing in the same direction. Wrap the octopus as tightly as possible in the plastic wrap, place in a small bowl to collect any extra liquid, and refrigerate overnight.
Next day, unwrap the octopus from the plastic wrap. To make the “carpaccio medallions” place the octopus on a deli style slicer or a large mandolin with the body perpendicular to the cutting blade. The idea is you want to cut almost transparent cross section slices off the octopus.
Arrange the slices on a plate in a small pool of your best quality olive oil, some lemon slices and parsley, or in my case Thai basil.
Note: If you don’t have a sous vide water oven, follow our instructions for slow braised octopus.
When the octopus is tender, follow the instructions above for wrapping, refrigerating, and slicing the cooked cephalopod.
Storm clouds are gathering over my kitchen as hurricane Sandy bears down on us here on the East End of Long Island. <gulp!> You might think that soft shell crabs are a strange thing to make right before a hurricane. But then consider what I’m making for dinner tonight if the power doesn’t go out: a whole brined turkey sous vide. I’ll let you know how that turns out in a day or so.
On my last trip out before the storm I swung by my local fish market to pick up some last minute seafood. Cor-J’s sits right on Shinnecock Bay, and they were severely flooded last year during hurricane Irene. And it could be a lot worse for them this time. But, as I selected some yellow fin tuna, some sock eye salmon, and a filet of striped bass, I noticed a bunch of live soft shell crabs nestled in seaweed. If you’ve read my earlier posts about soft shell crabs, you know how much I like them. Interestingly, the other gourmaniac isn’t a big fan of them; for that matter my entire crew can take them or leave them. As I picked up a couple of “whales”, I was thinking that I wanted a different batter besides flour and egg or Wondra, and I was already thinking about a spicy sweet and sour sauce to go along with them.
Here’s what I did with my soft shell crabs.
For the batter:
2/3 cup rice flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp curry
2 tsp tikka masala (available on line or in an Indian spice shop)
1 tsp vindaloo (available on line or in an Indian spice shop)
½ tsp sea salt
½ fresh ground pepper
enough water to make a batter the consistency of pancake batter appox 1 1/2 cup
at least 1 cup canola oil; more depending upon pan
For the sweet and sour gelée: (inspired by Jean George Vongerichten)
1 red sweet pepper, cored and seeded, and coarsely chopped
½ cup red wine vinegar
4 Tbsp Shaoxing wine (Chinese cooking wine) – can substitute with sherry
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp white wine
4 Tbsp honey
4 Tbsp brown sugar
4 Thai bird chilies seeded and coarsely chopped
4 whole cloves
1 tsp agar-agar –available in good Asian market (can substitute 2 tsp powered gelatin)
For the gelée:
Place everything except the agar-agar in a 2 quart sauce pan, bring to a boil and simmer for a minute or two, making sure the sugar dissolves. Off heat, and pour everything into a blender and puree for a minute or until finely pureed. Was sauce pan and return puree to it. Heat over low flame and skim off the foam on the surface. Add the agar-agar and stir until dissolved. Off heat and pour into a metal, non reactive bowl. Place the bowl either in the freezer or over a larger bowl containing ice cubes and water. The gelée is ready when it is thick like jam. Keeps in the freezer for a couple of months, well sealed.
The soft shell crabs:
Either clean the crabs or have your fishmonger do it for you. Pat them dry. Take all the dry ingredients for the batter, above, and place them in a bowl. Add the water gradually as you stir and mix with a spatula or whisk. Once you achieve the pancake batter consistency, dredge the crabs in the batter thoroughly coating them.
In a sauté pan or a wok, heat about 1 ½ inches of canola oil. Bring the oil to 350 degrees and add the crabs. Cook them about two minutes per side. Because of the vindaloo masala in the batter, the crabs are going to turn a dark orange, and because of the rice flour and cornstarch, they’re going to have a very crispy crust.
When done, remove from the pan/wok and let them drain on paper towels briefly. Plate them on some greens (like baby arugula), along with a small ramekin of the gelée, and serve immediately.