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Archive for February, 2010

From Dish Gwen:

Have you ever come across a bag of potatoes that’s been sitting around so long that the potatoes are sprouting roots? I find such things in my home more than I’d like to admit. But not to worry – those taters are still good – fry them!

I grew up eating big Sunday breakfasts composed of eggs, bacon and home fries, and frying potatoes is something I’ve always enjoyed. Listening to the popping, sizzling oil and watching the potatoes turn from white to gold gives a sense of satisfaction that can’t be matched by mashing, boiling or roasting. Basically, frying completes me, and I’ll make and eat fries for breakfast, lunch or dinner any day.

Ingredients (this is easy):
5-10 small to medium potatoes
A couple-few cups of olive oil (extra virgin if you’re feeling fancy)
Salt

Instructions (also pretty easy):
Wash and clean potatoes (cut off those eyes and roots), and slice into thin rounds about ¼ inch thick. If you want a crispier fry (like a chip), cut them thinner. Heat a cup or two of olive oil in a deep skillet until it sizzles (test for sizzle by dipping an edge of one of the potato rounds in the oil – if it doesn’t say “ssss” then it’s not hot enough yet). You don’t want to burn the oil, so keep the fire at a medium heat, and if you see or smell smoke coming off the oil, turn the heat down a little but try and keep that sizzle going.

Lay the potatoes one-by-one in the pan, and be careful not to splash – that hot oil will definitely leave a mark. As the taters sizzle away, check them to see if the bottom side is browning – once you get a nice golden color, flip the potatoes with tongs and cook until both sides are golden-brown. Remove the fries from the pan, tapping off excess oil, and lay them on a cloth or paper towel (if you have a fry basket use that instead). Salt the drying fries liberally, and serve with bacon and eggs, burgers, grilled meat, or as the best part of a vegan smorgasbord.

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From Dish Rachelle:

Imagine a restaurant where for years, they get your order wrong. You order chicken fingers and you get a chicken sandwich, you say hold the mayo and they bring you extra. You say “Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Sundae” but with chocolate ice cream instead of vanilla. The waitress brings you Reese’s Pieces, or vanilla ice cream, or a bowl of New England clam chowder, or an extra napkin…

That was Friendly’s.

And yet, you kept going back. Like so many East Coast kids, you have childhood memories all wrapped up in Friendly’s. How you’d go every week after ballet class with your best friend and your Moms. How your grandmother would take you and always get a patty melt covered in translucent cooked onions. How your Dad always asked for sprinkles in his milkshake (aka Fribble) and called them “shots.” How when you were sick in high school, your stepfather would bring you home chicken fingers to help you feel better.

My favorite was the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Sundae and, as I learned last summer, so was Dish Erin’s. Walking through the mall on a weekend trip to South Jersey, we lost our boys to an electronics store, only to spot that faux old-timey red and white signage and make a unilateral decision to stop in for a snack. The boys caught up and, having grown up without Friendly’s on the West Coast and in NYC, they waited to be wowed. And so it began…our french fries arrived lukewarm, our Peanut Butter Cup Sundae had to be remade, and then showed up already melted, yet delicious, and don’t mind me, I’m trying to be polite because we’re sharing, and not eat all of it, and oh my god, is that a hair?

I won’t spoil Friendly’s for you by saying that it was long and black, yet nestled too deep in the sundae to be able to explain away as my own. What’s important is that I decided, once and for all, to recreate the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Sundae in my own (sanitary) kitchen. Apparently, I’m not the only one. Google “Friendly’s Peanut Butter Sauce” to find a thread on Chowhound devoted to the stuff, which is where I found a recipe to adapt.

(This recipe requires and ice cream maker. Purists will say that this should be made with vanilla ice cream, and where’s the hot fudge? I say see paragraph 1, and be happy for me that I’ll finally get my substitution on the first try.)

Ingredients:
For the ice cream (makes 1 quart):
½ cup sugar
1 cup milk
2 cups heavy cream
½ tsp. salt
2 tblsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
3 egg yolks
1/3 (+) semisweet chocolate, chopped*
1 tsp. vanilla extract

*A chocoholic, I found 1/3 cup to be a little low. Tweak chocolate and sugar levels to your liking; this made a milky chocolate ice cream that tasted, because I used Nestle semisweet morsels, like Quik.

Separate the eggs, reserving the whites for tomorrow’s compensatory egg-white omelette.

Combine sugar, milk, cream, salt and cocoa powder over medium-low heat, stirring constantly so the cream doesn’t curdle. Bring to a low simmer. With the egg yolks in a separate bowl, gradually stir in about ½ cup of the hot liquid, which allows you to incorporate the eggs without them cooking. When mixed, return chocolate-y yolks to the saucepan. Heat until mixture reduces by ¼ to ½, and is thick enough to coat a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate and vanilla. Pour into a bowl and chill, covered, until cold all the way through, about 3 hours.


After it’s cold, the custard should look like a cross between pudding and melted ice cream. Pour into an ice cream maker – the base must be frozen – and churn for about 15 minutes. After the ice cream maker has done its work, the mixture will look frozen but loose, like soft serve. Pour it into a storage container and freeze for no less than 3 hours, preferably more.

Recipe adapted from All Recipes.

When you’re ready to serve, prepare the toppings.

For peanut butter sauce (makes about 1 cup, and file under the category of junk foods that were tastier before you knew what went in them):

½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup light Karo syrup
2 tablespoons butter
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. peanut butter

Combine everything except the peanut butter in saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until heated. Remove from heat and stir in the peanut butter. Serve warm.

Recipe adapted from Chowhound (thanks, fellow addicts!)

For whipped cream:

Pour desired amount of heavy cream in a large bowl, and whip with a hand blender or electric beaters until light and fluffy. Since everything else was so sweet, I left out the sugar and added just a dash of cinnamon.

Garnish with an original Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, just like at Friendly’s.

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Saucy Little Dish would like to welcome this week’s Guest Dish: the delightful Nora Sherman, who blogs about everything and nothing at Thought For Food.

New York is a city of brunchers. There’s brunch for boozers (excuse me, cocktail aficionados), brunch for bluegrass junkies, brunch for meatheads, and brunch for people who like the smell of chicken feet in the morning (just about any dim sum joint but especially World Tong).

If the goal of brunch is to unwind, decadently, then I would argue that the ultimate brunch is the one you serve at home. Sure, it’s a bit of work, but so is getting a table at Prune on a Sunday at noon. At home, there is no anxious wait by the hostess stand, no $10 Bloody Mary that you suspect is just a can of tomato juice and a dollop of horseradish, no screeching child who’s gonna make you pay for that hangover, goddamn it. Hell, there’s no need to get out of your PJs.

At a recent Sunday brunch for eight in my apartment, I did change out of my PJs — but you better believe I kept the cozy slippers. The menu was inspired by two things: a killer smoked mozzarella, spinach, potato, and egg white frittata I fell in love with at Five Points… and a desire for simplicity. (Brunch is not a time for culinary theatrics.) And so: banana and blueberry mini-muffins, hot out of the oven to greet my guests as soon as they came in from the cold, a huge batch of Bloody Mary mixed by my boyfriend, who knows a thing or two about these things, mimosas, two frittatas (more on that in a moment), “brown and serve” breakfast sausages (an easy, nostalgic touch), and a salad of mesclun, citrus, and almonds.

Simplicity, and a stress-free morning, translates to smart prep. I made the muffins a couple of weeks ago and froze them. I popped them in the oven 10 minutes before my friends arrived to warm them. A loaf of good bread with jam and butter would have been swell, too. On Saturday, I cooked and chopped potatoes, grated and diced cheese, chopped citrus, washed greens, and set the table. The next morning, I woke up at the very-Sunday hour of 11 am, made some finishing touches, and even got in a quick workout before my friends arrived at 1 pm, bottles of bubbly in hand.

Now, on to those frittatas! Have you ever made one? They’re one of the easiest egg dishes to make, and they’re show-stoppers, coming as they do straight from oven to the table in a hot iron skillet, cheese bubbling and steam wafting. You can fill them with whatever is at the green-market or in your freezer or pantry (I know, who has a pantry? But I like the concept of a pantry). The first frittata included potatoes, spinach (from frozen), and the clincher — smoked mozzarella. In the other frittata, I started with the base of potatoes and spinach and added roasted tomatoes, frozen since August, and slow-roasted garlic cloves — both of which I had on hand. You could certainly use canned roasted tomatoes and quickly-browned fresh garlic to achieve a similar effect.

Below, I offer a recipe for “Wintertime Smoked Mozzarella Frittata” — quite frankly, the best use of smoked mozzarella I know. If you make the frittata, please let me know what you think in the comments section below. And I would love to hear some of your favorite frittata fillers.

Serves 4.

8 eggs
3/4 cup smoked mozzarella, cut to a 1/2-inch-dice (1 ball will be enough)
3/4 cup Yukon potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes), boiled to fork-tender and cut to a 1/2-inch-dice
1 cup frozen spinach
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon butter

1. Whisk the eggs in a bowl and set aside. Heat the butter over medium-heat in an ovenproof 10-inch skillet. Add the spinach and a pinch of salt and saute until just beginning to wilt. Remove the spinach from the skillet. Pour the eggs into the skillet, then sprinkle the spinach, potatoes, and mozzarella over the eggs, being sure to evenly distribute.

2. Cook until the eggs are almost set, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle Parmesan or Pecorino Romano on top of the frittata. Put the skillet under a broiler and cook until golden-brown, about 3 minutes.

Slice into wedges and serve immediately.

Want to guest dish? Contact us at saucylittledish@gmail.com.

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From Dish Jodi:

So, I made this tart weeks ago…in anticipation of a delicious desserty SLD post. THEN, the February issue of Bon Appetit lands in my mailbox…and WHAT?! my hazelnut tart!?! HUH!?

Well not MINE…but basically the same concept. But then life got in the way, and a busy few weeks has kept me out of the kitchen…and the delicious tart is still lingering in my head. So Bon Appetit be damned, I’m still gonna share mine with you. But know, readers, I WAS FIRST. I SWEAR. (and anyway…most of us have ROUND tart pans on hand. Who has rectangular pans anyway…)

Pastry:
1/4 C Heavy Cream
2 Extra-Large Egg Yolks
2 3/4 C All-Purpose Flour
1/4 C Sugar
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 pound of Butter, cold and diced.

In a mixer, or a food processor, mix or pulse the flour, sugar and salt together, then mix or pulse with diced butter until you get a coarse meal. Meanwhile, mix cream and egg yolks in a separate bowl. Gradually add the wet to the dry until just combined. When dough comes together, turn on to a work surface and bring it all together with your hands. Divide the dough in 2 discs, wrap in plastic and put on in the fridge for around 10 or so minutes. Freeze the other half until you need it another day.

Once chilled, roll out the dough into a 1/4 inch thick circle and press into a 9 or 10 inch tart pan. Blind bake the shell at 375 until lightly browned.

Filling:
1/2 Cup chopped and toasted hazelnuts
1/2 C Water
2 C sugar
1/4 C light corn syrup
1 stick butter, diced at room temperature
1/2 C heavy cream
2 Tbsp Sour Cream or Creme Fraiche.


In a medium saucepan, combine water, sugar and corn syrup. Cook over medium high heat, swirling occasionally, until you get a dark amber color. Remove from head and stir in butter, cream and sour cream (mixture will sizzle, but don’t get scared).


Let the caramel cool slightly. Fill the cooled tart shell with the chopped hazelnuts and pour the caramel about 2/3 of the way up the edge of the tart. Let cool and set.

Ganache:
4 oz. Dark Chocolate
1/2 C heavy cream


Melt the chocolate with the cream in a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water and stir until smooth. Pour the ganache over the set caramel in a thin layer. Let cool.

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From Dish Erin:

V-Day is almost here. Half of us will indulge in fancy dinners, champagne, and rich chocolaty desserts, the other half will down pink sugar cocktails and spend the evening in bed, covered in chocolate with two naughty men: Ben and Jerry. Either way you slice the cake, you’ll want to counterbalance all that winter indulgence by eating some heart-healthy fish. This week I decided I was in the mood for halibut…and…and…I didn’t know what else. I was too busy at work, too tired from the weekend to think up a delicious sauce and pairings to go with it. So I bought my fish, came home, and threw everything that seemed remotely compatible into a pan with it. Halibut is one of those fish that you can do this with, to great results. It kind of tastes like whatever you cook it in–the tofu of the sea, if you will. Anyway, my “kitchen sink” halibut was pretty darn tasty if I do say so myself, and I enjoyed the satisfaction that came with eating such a healthy dinner.

Ingredients:

Olive oil
2 halibut fillets
Salt & freshly ground pepper
Broccoli rabe (a big heaping handful), sliced into 1-inch pieces
2 cups small red potatoes, quartered
1/4 cup white wine
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 can diced tomatoes
5 kalamata olives, chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. In a separate pan/pot, boil heavily salted water to blanch the broccoli rabe.


Season halibut fillets liberally with salt & pepper. Place in saute pan, and at the same time, blanch the broccoli rabe, both for about 2 minutes. Drain broccoli rabe in a colander, set aside. Flip the halibut over and cook for another 2 minutes. At this point, the fish should be about 3/4 of the way done. Remove from saute pan and place in the preheated oven to finish off cooking/keep warm.


Add the potatoes to the saute pan (the same one you just removed the fish from), season with a little bit of salt & pepper, and cook for about 3 minutes. Add garlic to the pan, then add the white wine, cook for 1-2 minutes more and finally, add tomatoes, broccoli rabe and olives. Let it all cook together for about a minute or two, season to taste and serve with the halibut that’s been warming in the oven.

Presentation with rose in mouth is optional, but encouraged.

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From Dish Paige!:

Every year my parents get me a present for Valentine’s Day, and depending on their availability, either one or both of them take me out to lunch as well. It’s sweet and I love it, and it doesn’t at all underscore the fact that I’ve never actually had anyone to celebrate the holiday with and that I’m going to grow old and die alone and it’s all Hallmark’s fault anyway because no one really cares about Valentine’s Day except for people who are single because, again, Hallmark designed this thing to sell chocolates to people who never thought they were lonely until a commercial told them so. Or err….

So last year my parents got me a set of 4 heart-shaped Le Creuset ramekins for the occasion, and I figured the best thing to do with them was make some mini Pot Pies.

To make the dough, I used my old stand-by recipe, which you can find here.

For the filling:
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons butter
1 three pound chicken
4 cups chicken broth
4 oz. pearl onions, peeled and sliced in half
5 oz. red potatoes, washed and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
3 small/medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch rounds
2 small/medium turnips, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch rounds
5 oz. (e.g. half a box) frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup milk
a few sprigs of thyme
salt & pepper
1 large egg

Directions:
Place the chicken and stock in a medium pot and add just enough water to cover the chicken. Bring the stock to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked through – about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, if you’re making your own dough, now would be a good time to do it! Then, peel/chop/slice your veggies. If you’re not making your own dough – well how about writing some haikus in the meantime?

Once the chicken is done, transfer it to a plate and set aside until it’s cool enough to handle. Strain 1 1/2 cups of the stock into a measuring cup and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375. Melt the butter in a large skillet or a medium pot (whatever), and add the potatoes, carrots, onions and turnips and cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies begin to brown. While keeping an eye on the veggies, remove the skin and bones from the chicken and shred the meat into bite-size pieces. There will be more chicken then you actually need, but I’m sure you can figure out a use for the leftovers!

Once the veggies have browned, and a few sprigs of thyme to the pan and give it a stir or two. Next, add the flour and cook, stirring for about 1 minute. Add the reserved chicken stock and milk and bring to a simmer. Cook the mixture until it’s thick and bubbly, stirring constantly. Stir in about 3/4 of the chicken you shredded (or more or less depending on how much you want in your pot pies), and salt & pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.


On a lightly floured surface, roll out half the dough (if you’re making one big one make one big circle, if you’re making individual ones, make four little circles) and transfer to your vessel(s), leaving about 1 inch of dough hanging over the sides. Carefully spoon the filling into the dough. Then, roll out the remaining dough in the appropriate size, place on top of the filling and pinch everything together so it sticks the top to the bottom and it looks pretty. Use a knife to make a few slits into the center of the pie. Beat 1 egg with 1 teaspoon water, and bush the top of the dough with the glaze. Sprinkle with sea-salt and then bake on a baking sheet until the dough is golden brown. If you’re making individual pot pies, they’ll take about 30-40 minutes. A large pot pie will take about 45-60 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart.

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From Dish Amelia:

Occasionally I am not interested in thinking about food. It happens sometimes, after I have covered my priorities (coffee), and I realize its probably time I should eat something again. Though I could turn to any deli or cookbook, this is the mood that makes me turn to Michael. Michael Pollan is a writer whose most recent works, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food, and Food Rules, have ordained him a food writer rock star. I recommend you read his books because they are well researched, informative, witty and grounded. I like how whenever I read his work or hear him on the radio, I am struck with his sense of humor, and his knowledgeable plain language. The subtitle of In Defense of Food is: Eat Food. Mostly Plants. Not Too Much. He clearly loves food, and has explored and explained why we should eat organically, eat food that is minimally processed, and eat what our ancestors ate. But he also seems very clear about not getting overly serious about things. Whether its food politics or different kinds of world diets or dissecting food myths, he always encourages me to acknowledge what’s important and then approach food in the most honest way I can. And move on.

So here is some food.

Several large handfuls of baby spinach
4 chopped scallions
1 bunch snipped dill
1 bunch chopped basil
1 thinly sliced and quartered cucumber
1 chopped tomato
1 thinly sliced and quartered red onion
a handful of crushed pecans
a couple cups of cooked pasta
a couple large dollops of farmers cheese (tangy pressed cottage cheese)
a brief pour of red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
a brief pour of olive oil
a drizzle of honey
a squeeze of olive paste
S+P


Put everything in a bowl. Cook the pasta (in this case I used organic “rombi”, a ruffled, rhombus shaped pasta). Either mix the dressing-y type things together, or just add them individually. Sometimes I like to add lemon zest and juice, but I had none. Toss everything together. Eat. (This made about two quarts, so um, don’t eat too much, like he said.)

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