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Archive for July, 2010

From Dish Rachelle:

I knew I loved fried green tomatoes even before I ever tried them. It isn’t JUST because of the chick flick – though, truth be told, I’ve seen it a million times and as a Yankee girl, it was probably the first time I’d really heard of them – but also because tomatoes are my favorite food, and most things taste good with a little fry crust. I finally got to try fried green tomatoes a few years ago and my suspicions were confirmed: crispy, salty and tangy, they’re delicious, and a terrific way to usher in tomato season when you just don’t think you can wait any longer, and you’re planning trips to Jersey in case they’re riper sooner in your home state.

This was my first time frying green tomatoes at home. Although the traditional preparation requires cornmeal, we used tempura batter – with a healthy sprinkling of Old Bay – and they came out light and fresh. We plated them with arugula and strawberry salad, which balanced the oiliness perfectly.

Ingredients:
3 green tomatoes
Flour or cornmeal
Seltzer or water
Old Bay seasoning
S&P

Slice tomatoes.

Whisk together equal parts flour and seltzer, until the mix is thick but still liquidy. Season with Old Bay, S&P.

Coat tomatoes in batter.

Using a candy thermometer, heat frying oil to 350 degrees, and drop in tomatoes. (Frying tips from the Boy: “you can be a little flexible [when it comes to temperature], but shoot for 350. Over 375 will burn, below 325 will be soggy.”)

Fry until the outside is golden brown, and fish them out with thongs. Let tomatoes cool on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.

This is a joyful, Southern dish, intended to make use of a fruit before it’s fully ripened. At any point, feel free to play with your food.

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From Dish Erin:

This weekend I had the pleasure to accompany Dish Rachelle down to our favorite oasis: The Jersey Shore. Boys in tow, we headed down to Point Pleasant for some sun, fun, and margaritas. But what to eat? Our fearless group of accomplished cooks took on a truly bold task: Whole lobsters. Most of us had cooked a lobster tail or two in our lives–but a whole lobster dinner for four was a new undertaking. Never ones to turn down a good challenge, we headed to Spike’s fish market and purchased 3 giant LIVE lobsters.

It was time to make a badass summer feast. On the menu: Lobster, corn on the cob, homemade cole slaw, and plenty of crusty bread.

Warning to all our delicate dishes out there: This is a roll-up-your-sleeves, down-and-dirty dish. Lobsters are not for the faint of heart. They require some serious elbow grease, and a high tolerance for the gunk that they yield while you’re on the search for delicious meat. You’re gonna get dirty. Why else do you think they serve them with bibs? The upshot is that lobster is not a labor intensive dish. If you can make pasta, you can prepare lobster. Waiting for the giant pot of water to boil is really the most painstaking part.

Make the cole slaw first because the flavors need to marry and the cabbage needs to soften for a bit.

For the cole slaw:
1/2 head of green cabbage, sliced thin
2 carrots thinly peeled into ‘ribbons’
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons of mayonnaise
A few dashes of cayenne pepper
A sprinkle (or two) of sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Basil, sliced thin into a chiffonade

Combine all the ingredients and mix well. We made up this cole slaw as we went along, based off the availability of ingredients in the house. Season to taste and top with basil. Let it sit while you make the lobster.

Now on the the main event:

3 Live lobsters, purchased from your local fish market. They usually recommend 1 lb per person (that’s roughly about 1 lobster per person). We served it with lots of fixins so Dish Rachelle and I thought it was wise to split a lobster. And it totally was.
Salt
1 cup butter
Chopped fresh dill

Boil a giant pot of water. (2 if you want to make the corn, it’ll take about the same time to cook).

Make sure to leave room at the top for the crustaceans. When the water comes to a rolling boil, add a heavy hand of salt, then toss the lobsters in.

Cover and cook for 12 minutes. The lobsters will be a bright red color when they’re done. Remove with thongs and place on a large platter to cool a bit so you can handle them.

Melt the butter and then stir in the dill.

Separate the tail from the head. It’s wise to use a dish towel that you don’t care about getting [real] dirty. Remove the claws, the knuckles, and the legs. And if you have that bib (or perhaps a poncho?), you might want to use it.

You definitely want lobster crackers, too. We didn’t have them on hand but the resourceful bunch we are, found that a pair of kitchen scissors work fine in a pinch (pun intended). Just be ready for an intense bicep workout and be alert of flying claws/knuckles/lobster heads when the person directly across from you has the scissors.

Serve with butter sauce for dipping, cole slaw, corn on the cob, a loaf of bread and a cold Chardonnay. This is one classy Jersey shore dish, no spray tan required.

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From Dish Jodi:

Summer in LA has meant a hot house from the sun beating down, too hot to bake anything. But my oven was getting lonely…

Banana Bread is one of those things that always feels good. My mom made it all the time and there’s something about that warm creamy but crusty taste that makes me happy.

I tweaked my mom’s low fat recipe to use a good olive oil – it made it all a little more savory, and a lot healthier than the usual butter-packed bread. Also did it in muffin form. Cause they are cuter.

Ingredients:

3 over-ripe Bananas (I take about-to-die bananas and toss them in the freezer until there’s a banana bread emergency–thus the gross brown bananas)
1/3 cup olive oil
2 eggs
3/4 cups white sugar
2 cups flour
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1/2 c chopped toasted pecans

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees.
Whisk together first four ingredients in a large bowl until combined.
Sift together flour, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl.
Whisk dry ingredients into wet and stir until just combined. Add pecans and mix.

Divide evenly into a lightly greased muffin tin.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is toasted and a toothpick comes out clean.

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From Dish Amelia:

My friend Sabra came over for dinner recently, and we threw together some things and went to flavor country, which I highly recommend.

The too-easy-to-fail cast iron chicken, in one of its endless iterations was pretty and delicious, and a leftovers-plus-more salad also turned out interesting, nutritious and toothsome.

Cast iron chicken, which I know has been posted here previously, serves as a recipe I make for myself for sustenance just as much as is impresses guests. If you have not gotten around to making this year round, lifelong friend, let me reintroduce you.

Ingredients:
chicken (I use a whole leg with skin on it and a breast or two, free range, organic, yadda yadda)
1 fennel bulb, with core removed, and cut into bite-sized pieces)
1 small red onion, cut the same as the fennel
a bunch of parsley
a cup or two of white wine
orange zest
a small handful kalamata olives, rough chop
currants
3-4 T whole grain mustard
2-3 T powerfully floral Nigerian honey (if you dont happen to have this lying around, use other kinds of honey, or fig jam would be my next choice)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
black pepper
kosher salt
olive oil
a shake of cumin


Preheat oven to 350. Put onion and fennel in bit on olive oil in the pan and occasionally nudge them. Its ok if you forget about them for a while on medium-high heat. Rinse and dry chicken, and rub with mustard, spices, S&P, and honey. When onion and fennel pieces are wilted a bit, put in chicken. Add olives, parsley, zest, currants, maybe a little garlic. turn the chicken perhaps once, so it starts to look white all around. Add wine. Cover pan with foil an put in the oven about 40-minutes, then start checking it for doneness. When it is getting there, remove foil and let color develop on top. Serve with saucyness over cous-cous made with OJ and nuts.

I had a grain salad that Sabra elaborated on. I can’t quite remember which parts came when, but the end result contained the following.

Hudson valley organic farro
a bit of goat cheese
dill
sauteed kielbasa slices
carrots
scallions
Iceberg lettuce
a little blue cheese dressing

We had it with the rest of the white wine, so good.

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From Dish Paige!:

Sometimes two weeks seems like an eternity, but in actuality it wasn’t so long ago that I was in North Carolina swimming, walking on the beach, digging in the sand and generally having an awesome time on vacation.

But after getting back to reality and settling into the daily routine, those lazy, hazy days seem like forever ago. Following a day filled with work anxiety, workoutfit anxiety, weather anxiety and full double ear infections, I wanted to grab some of that beach-filled serenity back the only way I know how – with food. With a little help from Bittman, my Spicy Side of Meatball and the good people at Old Bay, the stinky, hot, loud streets of Bushwick magically disappeared and I smelled the salt water of the Outer Banks, could feel the sand beneath my feet and I was, if just for a brief moment, back on beach.

Ingredients:

3 quarts water
2 bay leaves
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 tablespoon peppercorns
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
2 dried hot red chiles
2 cloves
1/2 lemon
a handful of cilantro
salt
1 medium-largish sized onion, peeled and quartered
3/4 pound small waxy potatoes
2-3 ears of corn
2 pounds shrimp (I used the kinds without heads because I cannot deal with those weird beady little eyes staring back at me as I’m trying to eat, but if you’re a champion, use the whole ones)
Old Bay seasoning
Tobasco
Lemon wedges
French bread
Newspaper

Directions:
Combine the water, bay leaves, thyme, peppercorns, garlic, chiles, cloves, 1/2 lemon, cilantro, onion, potatoes and a liberal amount of salt in a large stock pot and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium and cook until the potatoes are just tender (about 10 minutes). Meanwhile, cover your table with newspaper because pretty soon things are going to get messy. Add the shrimp and corn and continue to cook for 5 minutes.

Turn off the heat and with a slotted spoon remove the shrimp and sprinkle with Old Bay seasoning. Serve the shrimp with lemon wedges, the corn & potatoes, French bread, and a bowl of the cooking water to dip the bread in. Peel the shrimp over the newspaper, maybe splash them with a little of that Tobasco if you want, a squeeze of lemon if that’s your thing, and seriously enjoy. Oh and make sure you have plenty of napkins.

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From Dish Danielle:

This past July 4th weekend marked not only the celebration of our country’s independence, but also the start of my second summer of private cheffing out ‘East’ in the Hamptons. (You may recall my post from about a year ago where I roasted a 10lb Striped Bass for this very same client.) With last summer under my belt, I set out wielding a brand new chef’s knife, feeling confident and exhilarated to be out in the cool ocean air once again, cooking in a kitchen fit for a king.

The woman I work for was hoping for another summery Mediterranean feast. She had recently picked up Arabesque, a gorgeous cookbook featuring dishes from Morocco, Turkey, & Lebanon by Claudia Roden. We selected a few wonderful dishes to include in Saturday nights’ spread. Below is one of my personal favorites from the weekend.

Batinjan Raheb: Eggplant & Tomato Salad
Recipe doubled to serve 15-20, Perfect to bring to a summer BBQ to pass.

Ingredients:
5 large Eggplants
Juice of 2 lemons
8 garlic cloves, minced
8 tbsp good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt & freshly ground Black Pepper
1 bunch Parsley, cleaned and chopped
large handful of Mint, cleaned and chopped
1 bunch Scallions, cleaned and sliced thin
4 ripe yet firm Tomatoes, diced uniformly
additional juice of ½ a lemon
½ tbsp of sugar
1-1½ cup Pomegranate seeds


With a sharp knife, poke a few holes in the eggplants to prevent them from exploding. Place them on a covered hot grill and let them roast—allowing their skins to char, (mine took about 15 minutes). Once they’re cool enough to handle, remove the skin (it should peel right off), and place them in a colander in the sink to drain. Press and mash them with a fork, knife, wooden spoon–whatever’s in reach. The goal is to wind up with a chunky mush of deliciously smoky eggplant.

Transfer mush into large mixing bowl. Now toss in the lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, parsley, mint and mix well. In a second bowl, mix the tomatoes, scallions (reserving a few to garnish with), additional lemon juice, sugar and liberal pinch of kosher salt thoroughly. Now, find a shallow platter, and spread the eggplant mixture into a smooth but thick layer. Spoon the tomato mixture atop.

Now sprinkle the pomegranate seeds on top and finish with a few of those reserved scallions. It is such a pretty, ahem, saucy. little. dish.

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From Dish Gwen:

These days I’m always prepared to whip up a decent meal. My freezer is packed with nice meats and the garden is bursting with fresh vegetables and herbs. So when mealtime rolls around all I have to really worry about is finding something starchy to round out my dinner. Tonight I was able to scrounge up a tupperware full of brown rice that I left in the fridge a few days ago. Time for a little fried rice – Italian style.

I don’t know if the Italians actually make fried rice, but I don’t really care either. The best way to put a container of cold rice to use is by frying it up in some oil and tossing in some fresh vegetables and maybe an egg. This time I left out the egg and kept it simple – just a handful of arugula, some chives and a dash of salt. Molto Italiano.

Ingredients (serves two):
1 quart cooked brown rice
1-2 cups arugula
½ cup chives, chopped
1 tablespoon Olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter

.5 to 1 pound Rib Steak
1 Pinch salt and pepper

Directions:
On Medium, heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok, then add in the rice. Coat the rice with the oil and toss it in the pan so that all of the rice heats up evenly. When the rice is hot, add the arugula, chives and salt, and toss everything together. Cover the pan for a couple of minutes so that the vegetables wilt, then turn off the pan.

Melt the butter in a small frying pan and heat the pan so that it’s sizzling on medium-high heat. Drop the steak in to the pan and sear each side until it browns. Once both sides are good and dark (like the color of coffee), turn off the heat and pull out the meat, resting it for five to ten minutes on a cutting board. Salt and pepper both sides of the steak liberally, and slice it thinly.

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