Thursday, October 13, 2011

Lobster Salad

I have been trying to challenge myself in the kitchen. I've been hoping to get away from flavors I'm familiar with while trying new skills and techniques. So I decided that I was going to make mayonnaise from scratch.

Making mayonnaise isn't an overly complicated process, it's just time consuming and when you decide to make it by hand with no electronics you better prepare yourself for some pain. You feel as if your arm is going to fall off at any moment. That being said, I'm so glad I did it. It was fairly easy all you need is an egg yolk and 3/4 of a cup of oil (I used extra virgin olive oil because I had it) AND lemon juice. The lemon juice is key. Not having any idea what I was doing I squeezed out a two lemons and reserved the juice. You will in no way EVER need that much juice for your mayo. The whole point of the lemon is to help "keep the emulsion from breaking." The acid from the lemon stabilizes the emulsion as you're whisking. So one to two drops as you feel you need it is perfect.

You can find instructions on how to make mayonnaise here:

I decided to to a variation on the mayonnaise since I wanted to put it on lobster and mix in dill, cayenne pepper and ginger.

I then mixed the already cooked lobster meat into the mayonnaise and set it aside. For my salad I wanted a little crunch so I added some slivered bell peppers on baby arugula. For a dressing I mixed the remaining lemon juice with pepper and a little bit of garlic.

When eating the dish, I prefer mixing the two elements because I find the lemon to be a refreshing compliment to the dill and ginger in the mayonnaise. As well as the lobster's buttery flavor complimenting the slight bite of the baby arugula.

Optional: I've added roasted cashew's to similar salads the cashews really bring in a nice texture.

Mix up &Enjoy


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup:
Beef Stock
1 Hanger Steak
Red Wine
Gruyere Cheese [I don't like Gruyere by itself on my soup,
so I cut it 3 parts Gruyere 1 part Asiago]
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

Last summer my family was lucky enough to go to France. While we were in Paris we had a seemingly nondescript meal that made "the list." "The list" is made when any one of my brothers says that he has a new favorite dish. Being fairly snobby and picky eaters {cough, cough... totally spoiled by my mother's amazing cooking, cough, cough...} this doesn't happen often. During the entire trip, "the best" meal we had according to the boys, was a bowl of French Onion Soup, sitting in a little hole in the wall cafe during an unexpected rain shower. I don't know if we were all just happy to be out of the rain, or if the soup was really as good as we remember it. Nevertheless, when we had our first really chilly, rainy day, it was the first thing I wanted to eat.
I decided that since I was buying beef stock, I wanted to add some additional flavor in the soup. So I purchased one hanger steak, cut it in half and cooked it in the pan I was going to use to caramelize the onions. I decided that since I was going to be keeping the meat in the stew I wanted the flavor of all the other ingredients to be present so I left some thyme in the pan when I cooked the steak and used a little bit of butter and olive oil to keep it from sticking. When I say little I mean minuscule. Once I finished cooking the steak I took it out of the pan and set it aside to rest. Then I added the onions I had cut to the pan with a little bit of pepper.

REMEMBER!!!! Don't forget to lower the heat or the onions will cook to quickly and burn rather then caramelizing. As the onions began to look somewhat translucent I added a little bit of red wine to the pan.

When cooking with wine or any other alcohol it is imperative that you give it enough time to cook off the alcohol.

While the onions were cooking I took the time to shred the hanger steak and dropped it in my soup pot with the littlest bit of butter. I added the butter for flavor rather then frying or any other function.

Then I added the onions.

Then the beef broth.

I didn't add any additional thyme because I had left the sprigs of thyme in the pan throughout the entire cooking process.

Step back.

Don't meddle.
Give it time to simmer on low heat.

I had to Macgyver the toasts because I couldn't find the soup crocks. So I toasted the sliced baguette under the broiler for a few minutes and then toasted the cheese on top of it.

Doing this part in batches actually helped me with serving the soup. Especially because everyone is on different schedules, it allowed them to have some of the cheese toasties while they were still fresh, and didn't chain me to the oven.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Meatball Sandwich

As a little girl one of my earliest memories is cooking with my grandmother in her kitchen "helping" her to make meatballs. While I'm fairly confident that I wasn't helping as much as I thought I was, my nonna never complained. I've always loved cooking with her. She always seems to know exactly what something needs and never needs a recipe or a measuring cup. Watching her work was and still is magical. Making "eatballs" will always be something that reminds me of my grandmother and inspired me to step outside the box. Typically the meatballs we make we bake and then they go right into the tomato sauce to boil for another hour. I know that seems like an excessive amount of cooking but it helps the meatballs remain moist after a lot of the fat cooks off while they are baking.

I decided to instead serve the meatballs immediately after I finished baking them. Topped with caramelized onions and mushrooms, and toasted with asiago cheese on Portugese rolls. Mmm. Mmm.

Mac 'N Cheese Please

So I don't know about you, but one of my favorite things to make EVER is mac 'n cheese. It's the perfect hodgepodge. I mean, how can you possibly go wrong with any combination of cheese and pasta?!? This one here is my basic quick and dirty combo. I'm sure you'll get different variations of this ooey gooey goodness in later postings as well.

To Start:
1 lb of pasta
1 small shallot
1-2 sliced scallions
crumbled bacon
1 16 oz bag of shredded cheese, we used cheddar and parmesan
2 small cans of Campbell's cheddar soup mix
Salt and Black Pepper
bread crumbs

Prepare the pasta; boil and salt the water, wait for the rapid boil add the pasta, tap your fingers for the amount of time allotted on the pasta instructions stirring occasionally, drain the pasta through a colander leaving a small amount of the liquid in the bottom of your pot.

While the pasta is boiling, use a small frying pan to caramelize your shallots.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Mix in the two cans of Campbell's cheddar soup, the shredded cheese, the scallions, 3/4 of the bacon and the caramelized shallots together and then pour into a baking dish.

Sprinkle on the rest of the bacon, some bread crumbs and I like to add a little more of the shredded cheese on the top.

Bake in the oven for about 20- 25 minutes.

Eat & Enjoy!!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Summer Loving and Longing

Unfortunately it always seems that summer comes too slowly and leaves us far too quickly. As we near the end of September and before my mind switches to serious fall fare, with aromatic apple pies and every thing perfectly pumpkin [[yum!!]], I started getting nostalgic about all the goodies we had during our Hampton's trip and I couldn't stop thinking about the...


Oh god I love the Guac! You can have it plain, you can have it with chips, you can put it on a burger or substitute it for the mayo in your lobster roll.. I digress. While I enjoy guacamole year round it always seems to taste better in the summer. Maybe it's the freshness of the tomatos, maybe it's just that I can't stand to live without it, but for me guacamole is a summertime staple.

2 avocados
1 bunch of cilantro
1 small white onion
1-2 tomato (cut tomato and remove the seeds)
1/2 a lime
salt and black pepper
1-2 Jalapenos depending on your preference, you can choose to leave these out

Picking the avocado's:
When I first started making guacamole, one of the things I had the hardest time doing was picking the right avocado's. If you are purchasing avocado's for guacamole that you plan on making that day you should be able to press your finger easily into the side of the avocado. The leathery peel should yield to your touch. If you're shopping ahead of time and not planning on making the guacamole until later in the week you should look for a firmer avocado that still needs some time to ripen.

The best thing you can do when making guacamole is to go get yourself a molcajete, which is really just a grainy stone mortar and pestle. It helps to combine the ingredients so that you're not just getting chunks of different ingredients here and there but a true blended flavor. You want to take the white onion that you've chopped and the cilantro and grind them into a paste. Once you've broken down the onions and the cilantro has started to have a pesto-like consistency, season with salt. If you like a little spice, which I do, you will want to grind the jalapeno as well while you're doing this.

Once your paste is done take the avocado and cut it in half. Avocado's have a large circular pit in the center so be aware that you will be unable to cut through it. To separate the halves I like to take either side that I've cut and twist it like I was opening a jar. Note that one of your avocado halves will still have the pit in it. The easiest way to remove the pit is to simply hold that half in your hand and gently squeeze, the pit should pop right out.
Then cut the avocado flesh, the soft green part, that remains in the skin in a grid-like pattern. Pinch both sides and the ripe avocado should fall out easily. Discard the peel. If you're having trouble with this grab a spoon and scoop out the inner part.

Mix the avocado into your paste. When you have reached the consistency you like, squeeze the lime juice into the mixture and add the tomatos. Mix thoroughly. Do not grind the tomato's! Through lots of trial and error I've found that when I grind the tomatos into the mixture I don't like the consistency of the guacamole. Lime juice in addition to adding flavor, helps to keep the guacamole from oxidizing. Avocado's when exposed to air tend to brown like apples once they've been cut. This doesn't effect the flavor or make it unfit to eat but it doesn't look nearly as pretty.

Season with salt and black pepper to taste and enjoy!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Roasted Chicken with Rosemary & Root Vegetables

What better place to start our Food War?!