Monday, January 30, 2012

Grilled Trout with Pecan-Rosemary Butter

Here's another quick weeknight dinner. I adapted a topping I normally use on skirt steak that I got from Fine Cooking a while back and decided it would be perfect for the trout filets I managed to score at Fresh Market.

I'll bet Bigfoot eats a lot of trout.

"'Sup? I'm headed to Fresh Market for some trout. Need anything?"

I cooked my trout filets on the grill, but you could do them in the oven, of course. Preheat a gas grill or the oven to about 400F. Put the trout filets on a foil and parchment-lined roasting pan, and give them a sprinkle of kosher salt. And pepper if you like. As you can see, I forgot pepper. Oh well.

Put about 1/2 cup of pecans, 1 Tbs. of butter, 1 Tbs. of fresh rosemary (not dried), and a teaspoon of honey into a food processor. Frrrzzzzt it until you get a knobby paste. Then dot the trout filets with that.

Put them on the grill or in the oven for about 5 minutes, until the trout is flaky and cooked through. Bam. Dinner. Done. Here's the .pdf if you'd like to give it a try.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Salad with Fried Goat Cheese

This is a lovely salad, and a lot easier than it might sound. Fry goat cheese? Won't it melt all over the place and make a godawful mess?

Nope. Not unless you leave it in the pan too long.

Make a salad dressing of 3 Tbs. apple cider vinegar, 1 diced and sweated shallot (remember, I don't eat those raw, but if you want to, knock yourself out. Just please don't breathe on me.), a pinch of salt, two teaspoons of maple syrup, a few grinds of black pepper, and about 6 Tbs. of olive oil. Set that aside.

Mix together about 4 cups of salad greens and a diced apple. I used Pink Lady.

I like to salt and pepper my salad before tossing it with dressing.

Now get the goat cheese ready. Get a couple of shallow pans and put a beaten egg in one and about a half cup of panko crumbs in the other. Put a small pan over medium-high heat. Cut or form about 4 oz. of goat cheese into 1/4 inch disks. You're going to want to use the firmer goat cheese here, and pack it together so it doesn't crumble.

When the pan is hot, add about a tablespoon of olive oil. Dip the goat cheese in the egg, drain off any excess, then roll it around in the panko crumbs to coat it well. Fry in the oil on each side about 1 minute or so - until the goat cheese crust is golden brown. Place on paper towels to drain and toss the salad with the dressing. Plate the salad, then top with a round or two of the goat cheese.

Here's the .pdf if you'd like to crisp up some goat cheese in your own kitchen.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pounded Pork Cutlets with Mustard Pan Sauce

This is an old favorite around here. Technically, it's schnitzel, I guess. Whatever you call it, we love it, and it's a pretty quick and easy weeknight dinner.

Start with about a pound of pork tenderloin. Slice it crosswise into rounds about 1/2 inch thick. Place the rounds between two pieces of waxed paper, and whack on it with a meat mallet or a rolling pin, or a skillet.

Salt and pepper each side while you're watching your awesome iPad that your parents gave you for Christmas (thanks!) which is playing old episodes of The French Chef for inspiration.

Julia was making croissants. I was not. But then of course, I wanted one. With some butter. And a cup of coffee.

Put about a cup of flour for dredging in a shallow pan. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat on the stove. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter. When the butter is foaming, the pan is ready.

Foamy butter. See?
Dredge the cutlets in flour and shake off the excess. Put them in the pan and brown on each side - about 3 - 4 minutes per side.

You want them nice and brown. Like this.

If your pan isn't enormous, you'll need to do these in batches. Put the ones that are done in a 250F oven to keep warm. When they're all finished, the pan will have beautiful brown bits in the bottom.

Add about a half cup (or a glass you happen to be drinking) of dry white wine to the pan and scrape up all that deliciousness.

Add two tablespoons of dijon mustard and stir to incorporate.

This is not yet incorporated.

Add about a half cup of cream. Taste it and adjust the seasoning if you need to, but I usually find it's plenty salty enough.

I like to serve this with rice. Now I will show you a trick that you probably already know.

Rub the inside of a ramekin with buttah. Mmmm...

Pack the rice into the ramekin.

Invert the ramekin onto the plate, and hey, presto! Little tower of rice!

Serve the cutlets with the sauce. Garnish with parsley if it makes you happy. It made me happy, so I did. Here's the .pdf if you'd like to pound some pork cutlets on waxed paper in your own kitchen.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Chocolate Peppermint Filled Ebelskivers

A few years ago, my uncle got me an ebelskiver pan for Christmas. I don't normally use it for breakfast, because pancakes make me feel like a complete slug all day. I do better on oatmeal and coffee. But I've used it gracious plenty for dessert.

We had our good neighbors Morgan and Jesse (holla!) over for dinner the other night. I had my ebelskiver pan, some peppermint ice cream, and some leftover chocolate peppermint bark from Christmas. (Hey. Cut me some slack. It's only January. It's not like that stuff goes bad that fast.)

Anyway, perfect makings for dessert.

The only part of this for company that I'm not crazy about is that you really need to make the ebelskivers fresh. They aren't a make-ahead kind of dessert. But no one seemed to mind that I was futzing in the kitchen for a few minutes after dinner. They're not a major production, if you get the batter mixed up ahead, which is just fine. Yes, it is.

The recipe for the Ebelskiver batter is here. Mix it up, and you're halfway ready to go.

Set the ebelskiver pan on the stove on medium heat. Put little dots of butter in each round. When the butter turns foamy, the pan is ready.

Fill the pan just under the rim with batter. Now's the time to put in whatever filling you're using. I used pieces of chocolate peppermint bark. I've also used plain chocolate. You could use fruit, applesauce, caramel, any number of things. Just keep it small.

Top with just a dab more batter. About level with the top. Then when you see that the sides are starting to brown and pull away just a little, put a chopstick on either side of the round and flip it upside down. It may go perfectly, it may not.

But once the ebelskiver cooks on the other side, you can roll them around in the pan a little and cook those oozy seams. It cleans them up nicely.

Once they're browned all around, serve them warm with whatever you like. In this case, I used peppermint ice cream and a garnish of peppermint bark. I would have cut into one and gotten a picture, but my guests wanted their dessert.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

305 Vacation to Colonial Williamsburg

The residents of 305 went on a little celebratory "Thank goodness most of this cancer business is over" holiday. We'd planned it ages ago, knowing we'd probably want to get the hell out of dodge for a few days. We're clever that way.

Colonial Williamsburg is one of my favorite places, and it's only about five hours from here. It's been fifteen years or so since we visited, so the pin went on the map and off we went.

Want to see our vacation pictures? SURE you do! It's every dinner guest's nightmare! And I'm not even plying you with wine and food! You poor people.

We arrived early evening, so I still had a little light to grab some photos.

Since the streets roll up there at 5:00, (except for the taverns), we spent the evening poking around our inn and relaxing.

Accomodations were comfortable. We had the entire place to ourselves, except for one night. And that night, a bunch of the interpreters and their friends had a Twelfth Night party in the inn. They were all dressed up in their colonial regalia, dancing, singing, drinking, eating, and otherwise making merry until 1:00 AM. We were lying in bed listening and figured that was probably pretty authentic. No such thing as soundproofing rooms back then. It was noisy and boisterous. But at least we didn't have to share the room with a bunch of smelly strangers and sleep on a flea-infested horsehair mattress. It was actually pretty cool, in retrospect. Yes, they invited us to join them, but I hadn't brought my ballgown, and we figured those people have to perform for the tourists enough without us standing there, snapping pictures.

Here is the well behind our inn.

Here is Pootie, trying to take a cell phone picture of the well. And telling me to get out of the shot.

Here is where I put him after that. Those old root cellars come in pretty handy.

He actually spent a lot of the trip telling me to get out of his pictures. I didn't get one decent photo bomb in there the entire time. Bummer.

Of course, one of my favorite parts was visiting a working colonial kitchen. Here, Bob is boiling a big ol' side of beef. He gave me all kinds of cool info on what was available food-wise back then. Those folks actually ate REALLY well.

We got to take a carriage ride. The horses are the ones who pulled the Queen (yes, the Queen) when she visited in 2007. The carriage is the one she rode in when she visited in 1957. And one of the women sharing our carriage ride had actually met the Queen. As Pootie said, "This carriage ride has all kinds of Royal Mojo." I'm sure that's what Queen Elizabeth would say.

We visited the cobbler (the shoe guy, not the baked fruit thing). He said the shoes are actually very comfortable. I wanted those leather slippers.

We toured houses and saw horrible wallpaper. (Truly, their aesthetic was very different.) These three wallpapers were all within sight of one another on the same floor. Oh my god.

We saw beautiful horses and fat, happy sheep.

We saw the Peyton Randolph House, who was a lot more prominent in colonial history than most people realize.

Then we went to Jamestown for a day so that Pootie could see boats and forts and be very happy.

Then it was back to Williamsburg for more wandering and gawking.

Of course, we toured the Capitol building. Which was not original. I can't believe they tore that thing down. No one wanted it. So in the early 1800s, down it came. They rebuilt it. The one original thing in it is the Speaker's Chair in the Hall of Burgess. Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry would have sat their actual kiesters in it, so that's pretty cool. The interpreter said "This is the most expensive case for a historical object ever." (Referring to the Capitol building)

We went to a coffee house, where the Colonial men would have discussed politics, and we discussed them. We were served some seriously good hot chocolate there, too.

We had a wonderful time, and I did not want to come home.

Of course, we ate well. Unfortunately, because it was the off-season, we couldn't eat at the King's Arms Tavern, where we'd eaten one of the best meals of our lives fifteen years ago. They close all but one of the Taverns for the month or so when no one is around. Makes sense, but it was still disappointing. But anyone visiting Williamsburg should check out The Blue Talon and The Trellis. Also the kitchen at the Powhatan Plantation was excellent. And Aromas coffee house deserves special mention. Our room had one of those "coffee" makers in it that brews the most vile substance ever. We managed to snag a half pound of rich French Roast from Aromas and they gave us some filters that Pootie modified so that we could have REAL coffee in our room in the morning.

My only other disappointment was that the Raleigh Tavern Bakery no longer actually bakes. One of the things I remembered most clearly from our trip fifteen years ago was going there and seeing a working colonial bakery, and actually being able to buy their baked goods. They had delicious apple turnovers and some of the best ginger cookies I've ever tasted. Now, they mass produce the stuff, wrap it, and the RTB is just a little snack bar with coke fountains and pre-packaged stuff. Supposedly they couldn't keep up with demand and there were some Health Department issues. BOOO! But, I bought some of their ginger cookies anyway, and they were still delicious, just lacking ... character.  But on my trip years ago, I had snagged one of the Raleigh Tavern Bakery cookbooks, so I can (and have) made the ginger cookies myself. So there. The ORIGINAL recipe reads:

"Take three pounds of flour, one pound of fugar (those fs for the letter s cracks me up), one pound of butter rubbed in very fine, two ounces of ginger beat fine, a large nutmeg grated; then take a pound of treacle, a quarter of a pint of cream, make them warm together, and make up the bread ftiff (hee hee); roll it out, and make it up into thin cakes, cut them out with a tea-cup or fmall (hee hee) glafs (huh?), or roll them around like nuts, and bake them on tin plates in a flack (hee hee) oven. (Hannah Glaffe, The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Eafy (with lotf of fs), 7th ed. (London, 1760).

The adapted recipe is here. I've modified it slightly (who uses margarine anymore?). So you can have a taste of Colonial Williamsburg too, if you'd like.

Huzzah, y'all!