Asparagi e Porri al Limone

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Photo Credit: Lidia’s Italian Kitchen, 2017

Asparagi e Porri al Limone
(ASPARAGUS AND LEEKS IN LEMON VINAIGRETTE)

From
Lidia’s Celebrate Like an Italian
by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali
2017

I am really trying to eat light this Spring and given that I love asparagus, I found this delightful salad while perusing Lidia Bastianich’s most recent cookbook, “Lidia’s Celebrate Like an Italian” .

Lidia’s Celebrate Like an Italian

The best thing about this salad is that you can serve it while the vegetables are still warm, or you can serve it chilled, especially if you are hosting a buffet or a picnic. The important thing is to dress it just before serving, since the lemon juice will change the color of the vegetables.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon kosher salt, to taste
2 pounds medium thick asparagus spears, trimmed and peeled
1 bunch medium leeks, white and light green parts, washed and halved lengthwise
Juice of 1 large lemon
¼  Cup extra-virign olive oil
4  Hard boiled eggs, peeled and quartered

Directions:
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cut the peeled asparagus into thirds, crosswise. Cut the leeks in thirds crosswise as well. Add the asparagus and leeks to the boiling water, and cook until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes, depending on their thickness. Drain, and plunge into an ice bath to stop the cooking and set the color. Drain and pat very dry.

Put the asparagus and leeks in a serving bowl. Drizzle with the lemon juice and olive oil, and season with the salt. Toss well. Mound the asparagus and leeks on a serving platter, and scatter the hard-boiled eggs over the top and serve.

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Indian Butter Chicken

 

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Butter chicken – two simple words to describe one of the richest of Indian and most popular dishes where succulent pieces of chicken are cooked and then simmered in a sauce that is utterly a buttery combination of cream, tomatoes and aromatic spices. Known as murgh makhani in Hindi,this dish is a culinary star that tickles palates across the world. While this iconic dish remains a much-loved favorite on menus across the country, few people know about the humble and practical origins of the butter chicken.

The genesis of the original butter chicken is inextricably tied to the evolution of another gastronomical hero, the tandoori chicken. The origins of the latter lie in Gora Bazaar in Peshawar, British India, where nearly 100 years ago, a man named Mokha Singh Lamba started a small restaurant called Moti Sweets.

In the 1920s, in Peshawar in undivided India, a  young boy aged 12, named Kundan Lal Gujral,  started working as a kitchen helper in at  Moti Sweets. Having lost his father at a very young age, he had to start earning early in life. When the eatery’s owner died a few years later, the boy took over the chain, as the owner was very fond of him. He renamed the place Moti Mahal.

Moti Mahal was the first resturant to dig up a tandoor right in the middle of the eatery. and as a young chef, Kundan Lal Gujral decided to experiment by skewering yogurt marinated pieces of chicken and sticking them into the tandoor oven, which was previously used only for breads. Thus, Peshawar cuisine was introduced to the culinary art of tandoori chicken and the incredibly popular, ubiquitous tandoori chicken was born.

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 A view of the tandoor at the earliest Moti Mahal restaurant in 1948 where a cook is seen putting bread inside the tandoor to cook it . Photo Credit:Monish Gujral

Cooked in the radiant heat of the clay tandoor, fragrant and flavored by the smoke rising from the hot coals, the version Gujral made—with crispy skin and a recognizably bright red exterior—became an enormous success until Gujral was forced to flee Pakistan during the 1947 Partition of India.

flash5 (1)    Photo Credit: http://www.motimahalindia.com

The tragedy of partition forced Gujral to flee to Delhi with nothing but his skills as an innovation and creative user of Tandoor, an oven used by the people of North India.

Moti Mahal had already established itself among the British elite in Peshawar but the challenge came with Partition, when Gujral had to move to India and start a new life as a refugee.

Because he came from a more privileged background than most other refugees,  starting afresh was less of a struggle. Gujral  was among the few rich people who flew to India rather than taking the train. He stayed in a refugee camp initially and thought of setting up a dhaba (roadside eatery) to introduce Delhiites to the tandoori chicken.

In his new home in Delhi, Gujral co-founded a new restaurant and also called it, Moti Mahal, in Daryaganj, with Kundan Lal Jaggi and Thakur Dass.  It was one of the first restaurants to introduce the Punjabi cuisine to the rest of the world and many famous dishes include tandoori chicken, butter chicken and dal makhani.The place quickly proved popular and within a year Gujral turned Moti Mahal into  into a 400-seat restaurant.  Gujral also tried to make Moti Mahal a different experience by introducing live “qawwali” (a form of sufi devotional music) and a see-through kitchen.

Because of the lack of refrigeration facilities during this era, necessity led Gujral to having to innovate once again to avoid wastage, especially that of the unsold tandoori tikkas. He cleverly reasoned that a tomato gravy, lushly made with butter and cream, would soften his leftover chicken. He took the leftover pieces of tandoori chicken and cooked them over a low flame and served it as such. The combination proved to be a masterstroke and thus, by an act of genius, the butter chicken was born, a dish that is now a staple of Indian restaurants around the world. And by the same token, the very same gravy recipe was then used to make dal makhani.

709457284Kundal Lal Gujral (Center) with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi (Left)
                    Photo Credit:Moti Mahal Delux Resturant

Moti Mahal enjoyed the patronage of India’s first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who used to get catering done from here. So fond was he of the Peshawari cuisine that the owners had even set up a tandoor at Teen Murti House to serve piping hot naans and rotis to state guests at this august venue. In a rare gesture, the then Prime Minister had allotted an adjacent area to the owners — Kundan Lal Gujral, Kundan Lal Jaggi and Thakur Dass — to expand their business. The restaurant menu at the time as well as the placard outside used to make it clear that it had no branches anywhere and it was the sole restaurant to ensure that no one would misuse the name to start business elsewhere.

In its 1950s heyday, Gujral’s Moti Mahal resturant was extremely popular with celebrities and world leaders, including former Indian President Dr. Zakir Hussain, Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy and actors Raj Kapur and Nargis were among the famous patrons.

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Dr. Zakir Hussain (Left) and K.L. Gujral (first from the Right).

Photo Credit: Moti Mahal Delux

In its 1950s heyday, Gujral’s Moti Mahal resturant was extremely popular with celebrities and world leaders, including former Indian President Dr. Zakir Hussain, Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy and actors Raj Kapur and Nargis were among the famous patrons.

It  was also the favorite restaurant of former Soviet and Pakistan Prime Ministers Nikita Khrushchev and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, respectively. So impressed was Bhutto with the culinary skills of the chefs during an earlier visit that Indira Gandhi decided to get food served from here during the famous Simla pact meeting. Khrushchev would get handpicked dishes on the menu flown to Moscow for his official banquets.

Freedom fighter and independent India’s first education minister, Maulana Azad reportedly even told the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, that while in India he must make two visits – to the Taj Mahal in Agra and the Moti Mahal in Delhi. And the Shah followed his advice, adding his name to some of the most renowned patrons of Moti Mahal.

In its more recent times,the resturant now called Moti Mahal Delux with its global chain of restaurants with over 120 franchises in India and around the world, the Dehli location was visited by master chef Gordon Ramsay, who even went behind the counter in the kitchen of this iconic restaurant.

With time, Moti Mahal changed, too. While it retained the signature dishes of dal makhani, butter chicken, tandoori chicken, chicken pakora (fritters), the restaurant reinvented itself to suit the changing palate of the Indian customer. They introduced tandoori dishes made with broccoli, trout and lobster.

In this version of the famous dish, I found that marinating the chicken in yogurt and a seasoned tikka masala curry paste makes the chicken extra tender before finishing it in the oven and adding it to a creamy, rich, fragrant, mildly spiced tomato sauce. Served on the side, there’s ginger-spiced sautéed spinach, rice, and of course, plenty of warm, toasted naan for scooping up the extra sauce.

Definitely a favorite dish that is perfect for adding to your meal rotation.

Enjoy!

Serves 6 to 9

Ingredients:
For the Chicken:
½ cup whole-milk Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon tikki marsala curry paste
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces

For the Sauce:
1 stick unsalted butter, divided
1 3-inch cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 whole clove
1 large yellow onion, sliced
1 serrano chile, split lengthwise and seeded
Kosher salt, to taste
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
Two 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes

For the Spinach:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
10 ounces, baby spinach
1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Fresh coriander chopped, for garnish
Thinly sliced serrano peppers, for garnish
Fresh cream, for garnish

Directions:
For the Chicken:
Preheat oven to 475°F.

In a large bowl, whisk together yogurt, curry paste, lemon juice, salt and pepper to combine. Pat chicken dry with paper towels, cut into 1-inch pieces, and add to bowl with marinade. Turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to marinate in the refigerator for 1 to 3 hours.

For the Sauce:
Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add cinnamon atick and clove, stirring, until slightly darker and fragrant, 1–2 minutes. Add onion and chile season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden and beginning to caramelize, 8–10 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until very fragrant and ginger starts to turn golden, 2–3 minutes. Add garam masala, fenugreek, paprika, and turmeric and cook, stirring, until very fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, breaking up into pieces with a spoon, and cook until most of the liquid is evaporated, about 1 minute. Continue to simmer, uncovered, until sauce is the consistency of a thick ragù, 40–50 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the sauce to to cool. Discard cinnamon stick and the bay leaf, but allow the whole clove to remain.

Transfer the sauce to a blender and purée until smooth. Cut remaining the 4 tablespoons of butter into pieces. Add butter and cream to blender and purée until creamy; season with salt. Return sauce to the pot and bring to a simmer.

Meanwhile, prepare a wire rack set inside a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.

After marinating, remove the chicken from the marinade and arrange the chicken in a single layer on the baking sheet. Broil until chicken starts to brown in spots , 7–8 minutes per side. Add chicken to simmering sauce, cover, and cook until chicken is cooked through, 8–10 minutes.

For the Spinach:
Heat  1 tablespoon butter in a large pan over medium heat. When butter is just melted, add shallot and ginger and cook until shallot is soft, about 3 minutes. Add spinach and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 3 minutes more. Season with  salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, transfer the chicken and sautéed spinach to serving bowls, spooning over remaining sauce and garnish with cilantro. Tear naan into pieces and serve alongside with rice.

Cook’s Note:
Butter chicken can be made three days ahead of time.

Sources:
Gujral, Monish. (2013).  The Moti Mahal Cookbook. India: Penguin Books , Publisher.

Pal, Sanchari (2016). “The Better India (TBI) Food Secrets: The Humble Origins of the Hugely Popular Butter Chicken”. Retrieved 21 April 2018. https://www.thebetterindia.com/75100/butter-chicken-history-kundan-lal-gujral/

Retrieved 21 April 2018. https://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2011/12/22/moti-mahal-delhis-gastronomic-pearl/

Vohra, Pankaj (2015).”Partition brought Moti Mahal, a landmark in India’s culinary history, to central Delhi”. The Sunday Guardian.New Dehli. Retrieved 21 April 2018.http://www.sunday-guardian.com/investigation/partition-brought-moti-mahal-a-landmark-in-indias-culinary-history-to-central-delhi

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Thank you so much!

 

 

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In the Spotlight: Peas

peas

Reaching their peak season during Spring, peas can offer. An impressive nutrition profile that is so ofteh overlooked.

Did you know that a half cup serving of  shelled peas can supply an excellent source of Vitamin C, a good source. Of Vitamin A, plus four grams of fiber and plant based protein.

All varieties of peas, including English green peas, snow and sugar peas are versatile and can serve as a main ingredient in stir- frys, salads, pasta, spreads and soups.

Green Peas

Peas-English-garden

The most common type of green peas include the English or garden peas, which are vibrant green and plump with pods that contain upbtobten precious round green seeds.

This variety is best eaten fresh. You should choose fresh garden peas thatcare small to medium in size because they will be the sweetest. When preparing them, just remove and discard the pods before eating them. When using them in pasta, soup or grain dishes, add peas during the last few minutes of cooking to maintain the beautiful green color.

For more traditional dishes, you can pair green peas with potatoes, carrots, onions and herbs like mint, basil and parsley.

In addition to being fresh, green peas are also available are year round in the canned or frozen forms. Try using them in making a mock gacumole with thr usual avocado, tomatoes, onions, cilantro and lime juice for the right touch of acidity.

 

Snow Peas

Peas-Snow,-Organic

The snow pea (Pisum sativum var. saccharatum) is a variety of pea eaten whole in its pod while still unripe. The name mangetout (French for “eat all”) can apply both to snow peas and to snap peas.

Snow peas are botanically known as Pisum satvium and are considered to be a hardy annual. sugar-ann-snap-sweet-peaThe entire pod is edible while unripe and typically grows up to 6″ in length. Produce on a climbing vine, Snow peas offer a sweet, tender flavor that has mild green notes.

Also known as Chinese peas, snow peas are flat with small seeds having a pleasant herbaceous flavor.

Did you know that the name mangetout (French for “eat all”) can apply both to snow peas and to snap peas and this vegetable has been cultivated since the 19th century in Europe?

Another fun fact is that Austrian scientist and monk Gregor Mendel  used peas which he called vi_a_201Pisum saccharatum” in his famous experiments demonstrating the heritable nature of specific traits, though this Latin name might not refer to the same varieties identified with modern snow peas. Imagine that, the entire study of genetics is based on the humble pea!

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When selecting snow peas, look for smooth pods with bright green skins and are at least 3 inches in length. The whole pod is edible abr contains the most fiber of all the varieties of peas currently being cultivated.

The best method for cooking snow peas is by steaming. In preparing snow peas before stir-frying, sauteeing or simmering, trim the stem end and remove the string along the side of the pod. You can refrigerate the peas in a kraft paper bag or a perforated plastic bag and use within three days.

Sugar Snap Peas

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Bright, crisp and naturally sweet, sugar snap peas are a cross between garden peas and snow peas.

Sugar Snap peas are bright green with thick walls that encase a row of petite green peas. The pea pod itself is crisp, juicy and fresh tasting and the peas, tender with a sweet pea flavor. The entirety of the pod, both the shell and peas are edible. In addition the vine, leaves and flowers or pea tendrils the Sugar Snap pea grows on is edible as well.

Sugar Snap peas provide a good source of vitamins A, C, potassium, iron, riboflavin and thiamine.

When selecting sugar snap peas, look for firm pods that do not bend and snap easily. In terms of storing this variety, refrigerate in a tightly sealed plastic bag for up to five days.

Sugar Snap peas are a versatile pea and can be enjoyed both raw and cooked. Serve whole on crudites trays or as an appetizer. Their crunchy texture makes them fun for snacking or just dipping in hummus or paired with cream based dips and cheese. Snap in half and add to an array of salads. Stringless Sugar Snap peas can be utilized whole and added to stir-fries, soups and sautés or even braised alongside beef or duck.

Sources:
Weis Super Markets Healthy Bites Magazine, March/April 2018. “Ripe Now: Peas”. Retrieved 20 March 2018. http://healthybites.weismarkets.com/18Mar/Page-4

Specialty Produce (2018). “Stringless Sugar Snap Peas”. Retrieved 26 March 2018. http://www.specialtyproduce.com/produce/Stringless_Sugar_Snap_Peas_410

Hello, May!

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What’s in season right now, this month? For starters, lettuces, turnip greens, kale, and possibly some root vegetables like fennel and onions are signatures of Spring. You’re also likely to see strawberries, rhubarb, and asparagus, and okra. Check out the list below for a quick guide to the top in-season fruits and vegetables for the month of May.

May Fruits and Vegetables

Artichokes
Apricots
Arugula
Asparagus
Basil
Beets
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage
Carrots
Collard Greens
Cauliflower
Chard
Cherries
Garlic
Green Garlic
Garlic Scapes
Kale
Lettuce
Mushrooms
Mustard Greens
Okra
Peas
Radishes
Rhubarb
Scallions
Spinach
Strawberries
Sugar Peas
Snap Peas
Swiss Chard
Turnips
Turnip Greens

Brodetto

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This fisherman stew was inspired  by the local cuisine found along the coastal city of Ancona, Italy. This rustic dish simmers the seafood in a garlicky tomato sauce and  is served with a crusty bread. Many Italian coastal towns have their own version of this dish, which often features the catch of day. Brodetta was original conceived by fisherman to use up the smaller fish that they did not sell at the market that day.  While brodetto is similar to the  classic French  fish  stew, bouillabaisse, traditional  Italian recipes call for 13 fish as in recognizing Jesus and his 12 apostles in attendance of the Last Supper. The stew can be made with any type of fish, shellfish, including mussels and clams and either with octopus or calamari (squid). The key to making this particular recipe is to cook the shellfish and fish in stages. If you are shopping at your local markets and cannot find the listed seafood in this recipe, always choose sustainable varieties that are in season.

Serve 6

Ingredients:
6 (1-inch-thick) ciabatta slices
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing and drizzling
5 garlic cloves, divided
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup dry white wine
One 32-ounces jar tomato sauce
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 pound mussels, scrubbed
12 littleneck clams, scrubbed
12 ounces cod fillets, cut into 2-inch pieces
12 ounces skin-on snapper fillets, cut into 2-inch pieces
10 ounces raw large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 teaspoons kosher salt
6 ounces cleaned squid, bodies cut into 1/2-inch-thick rings
3 tablespoons chopped parsley

Directions:
Preheat broiler to high with oven rack 4 inches from heat. Brush bread with olive oil, and place on a baking sheet. Broil until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes, flipping halfway through. Rub toast with 1 garlic clove and keep warm.

Thinly slice remaining 4 garlic cloves. Heat 1/4 cup oil over moderately high heat in a large Dutch oven. Add onion and sliced garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add wine; boil until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add tomato sauce and vinegar; bring to a simmer. Add mussels and clams; cover and cook until mussels open, about 5 minutes. Remove mussels with a slotted spoon and place in a large bowl. (Discard any that do not open.) Cover pot and cook until clams open, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove clams with a slotted spoon and place in bowl with mussels.

Season cod, snapper, and shrimp with salt. Add to pot, cover, and reduce heat to moderate; simmer 6 minutes. Add squid, cover, and cook until fish are just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Stir in parsley, mussels, and clams. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand until shellfish are heated through, about 2 minutes. Serve in shallow bowls with a drizzle of olive oil and garlic toast.

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Duck Confit Croquettes with Yuzu Vinaigrette

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I recently traveled to Atlanta, Georgia for a conference recently. Although I pass through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport quiet frequently, I rarely have time to leisurely grab anything to eat while trying to get from one terminal to another to catch a connecting flight.

However, this time I had an extended layover and being that it was lunch time, I decided to take full advantage of what the restaurant scene in the airport had to offer, and in checking the menu outside the establishment it appeared that One Flew South would fit the bill.

Located in Concourse E, One Flew South is the first upscale dining experience in Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

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Photo Credit: One Flew South, 2017

 

The cuisine at One Flew South  can be described a spirited global fare featuring a ‘Southernational’- Cuisine inspired by world travels specializing in Deep Southern and Asian flavors that cannot be denied with dished prepared largely with high quality, fresh, local ingredients from regional farmers and purveyors. An added bonus is that frequent fliers’ know that this Southern/Eclectic spot offers an exceptional prepared to-go selection for travelers as well.


               Photo Credit: TripAdvisor 2018.

The food menus has offering covering soups and appetizers, salads, sandwiches and full entrees. The  is a dessert menu for those that may have a sweet tooth, so be sure to ask your server to share it with you.

One Flew South has a top shelf bar that serves proper cocktails and features an exceptional sushi menu and take-away items. The restaurant presents an enticing culinary destination for travelers braving the world’s busiest airport.

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        Photo Credit: One Flew South, 2018

 

With that being said, I ordered the French Southern inspired duck confit croquettes and the thyme braised pork belly. The croquettes were made with duck, English Peas and Carolina grits and served with fennel slaw, candied citrus, Yuzu vinaigrette and topped with micro greens of cilantro and parsley.

As for the entree,the thyme roasted pork belly was cooked to perfection and served over a bed of parsnip puree and a black-eyed pea and arugula salad. This dish is normally served with a blackberry-onion marmalade, but because the blackberries were not in season yet, the chef made do with a balsamic vinegar reduction. I am working on replicating this recipe and hope to post it at a later date. Stay tuned!

The service was great and I truly enjoyed my meal and I could not wait to get back home to my kitchen to see if I could create such and interesting appetizer tailored to my taste. You see, cooking is pure happiness for me and I was truly inspired my first dining experience at One Flew South I start with this French inspired crispy Duck Croquettes recipe that is absolutely amazing. This process is a bit time consuming in terms of preparation, as they are a bit tricky to make, but they are so totally worth it. Make a few extra while you’re at it. You can keep them in the freezer, just ready to deep fry when you want to.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
For the Croquettes:
3 Duck Legs about
1 shallot, diced
2 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
Kosher Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Béchamel:*
2 tablespoons all purpose flour*
1 oz unsalted butter
1 cup Whole Milk
Kosher Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Breading*
Finely ground Japanese Panko bread crumbs*
2 Eggs
1 cup rice flour
Kosher Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese

For the Candied Citrus Peel:**
1 grapefruit
2 Navel oranges
2 lemons
2 1/2 cups sugar

Yuzu Vinaigrette:***
Yields Approximately 1 1/2 cups
1/2 cup Yuzu Juice, Yuzu marmalade or Monin Yuzu Fruit Purée
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice or orange juice
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon tomato paste
3/4 cup vegetable or canola oilSalt and pepper, to taste

For the Fennel Slaw:
2 tablespoons cider vinegar, or to taste
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 lb fennel (sometimes called anise; about 1 1/2 large bulbs)

For the Garnish:
Mixed Micro greens

Directions:
To make the confit: Lightly sprinkle salt and pepper the duck thighs and fry in a little olive oil. Once it got nice color put it in a large casserole.

Saute the shallots and add to the casserole with and garlic. Add wine and some olive oil.

Place the casserole in the oven at 350°F for about 1 ½ hours, until the meat is soft and falling off the bone. Let it cool down to manageable temperature and pick the meat from the bone.

Chop the meat finely and add to a bowl. Also,  add  the shallots from the casserole and add to the bowl.

For the Béchamel: Add the onion and the butter to a medium saucepan and cook on low heat, until the onions are translucent. Whisk in the flour with a little of the milk to the saucepan. Stir and slowly add the remaining milk until a thick paste is formed. Bring to a boil,  constantly stirring.  Reduce the heat and cook over low heat for a short while, as the consistency should thicken. Taste and season with salt and pepper, as needed. Remove from the heat and set aside, allowing the béchamel  to cool slightly.

To  a large plastic or stainless steel bowl, add about 1 cup of the béchamel, the chopped duck and  the grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper, if needed. Place the bowl in the freezer to solidify the mixture, for at least 1 hour. This step makes it easier to manage the meat mixture.

Spray your hands with a light coating of vegetable spray. Using a small ice cream scoop, fashion the croquettes, by rolling the meat mixture in balls, about 3 ounces each, and set on a plate. Place the croquettes in refrigerator for a least 4 hours.

To make the candied citrus peel: Score grapefruit, oranges, and lemons through peel from top to bottom in 6 sections for grapefruit and 4 for oranges and lemons (don’t cut into fruit). Pull off strips of peel with your fingers. Slide a small, sharp knife along inside of peels to remove excess membrane so peels are about 1/4 inches thick. Cut peels lengthwise into strips about 1/2 in. wide in center and tapered on ends.

Put peels in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan and add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, then drain. Repeat twice more.

Refill pan with 2 1/2 cups water and 2 1/2 cups sugar; bring to a boil, making sure that sugar dissolves. Add peels and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until peels turn translucent and syrup begins to form bigger bubbles, about 1 1/2 hours.

Drain peels, saving syrup for other uses (such as topping pancakes) if you like. Spread peels on a nonreactive cooling rack set on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Allow peels to dry completely, about 2-3 hours.(Store the candied peels in an airtight at room temperature for future use.)

Meanwhile, make the yuzu vinegrette. In a blender or food processor, puree all ingredients except oil until combined. Slowly add oil with blender running until all of the oil has been added.If you do not have a blender or food processor, then add all the ingredients to a bowl and whisk until well blended. Decant to a glass mason jar or cuvette and set aside.

To make the fennel slaw: Whisk together all ingredients except fennel. Trim fennel stalks flush with bulb, discarding stalks, and remove any discolored outer layers. Halve fennel through root end and discard core. Thinly slice fennel with a mandoline or other manual slicer.Place the fennel in a large bowl and toss the fennel with enough dressing to coat, then season with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

When you are ready to fry the croquettes, set up the breading station. In the first shallow dish add the flour. Whisk the eggs and add them to a shallow bowl. Add the breadcrumbs to a third shallow dish. Dip a duck conift ball, first in flour, then beaten eggs and finally in breadcrumbs. Set aside. Repeat until all the balls have been coated.

Add several inches of vegetable oil to a deep fryer or a large pot. Heat the oil to 360°F.  Deep-fry the croquettes in batches, if necessary until they are a nice golden brown in color. Remove from the oil and allow to drain on a paper towel lined plate.

To serve as an appetizer, with the fennel slaw,followed by the croquettes, topped with the candied citrus, micro herbs and the yuzu vinaigrette.

 

Cook’s Notes:
* You can substitute cornstarch for the flour for a gluten free option. Also use gluten-free breadcrumbs as an alternative to the the Panko.

**To save time, make the Citrus Candied Peel several days ahead and store at room temperature in an airtight container.

***This simple yuzu-soy vinaigrette goes well with many dishes, as a dressing for salads, cooked veggies, as a sauce for raw fish dishes such as tuna tartare or sashimi, or as a dip for homemade tempura. Yuzu marmalade (Yujacheong, 유자청), can be purchased from a local Asian Markets. If you cannot find Yuzu juice at your local supermarkets, you can use lemon juice as a substitute.

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Crab Mac ‘N Cheese

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Wow!

I cannot believe it.  This is my 500th Post on this Blog and I cannot think of a better way to celebrate with my favorite comfort food.

I absolutely love Macaroni and Cheese and this is a very special dish meant for any occasion. The homemade bechamel sauce compliments the sweet jumbo lump crab meat perfectly. Serve it as a side dish or as an entree it’s a fantastic and budget friendly way to serve crab meat to a crowd with style.

Serves 6

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds conchigliette pasta*
1/4 cup butter
1 shallot, finely diced
3 cloves garlic,finely minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup shredded white Cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded Asiago cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound jumbo lump crab meat, picked over
Chopped fresh parsley or crushed dried parsley, for garnish

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375ºF. In a large pot of boiling water, cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and return to pot.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add shallot and garlic and cook until fragrant and softened,for 3 minutes. Add flour and whisk until combined and golden, for about 1 minute. Add milk and season with salt and pepper. Simmer 2 minutes, until sauce is thickened and smooth.

Stir in 1/2 white cheddar, the mozzarella and Asiago until slightly melted, then remove from heat.

Add the bechamel sauce and crab meat to pot with cooked pasta and gently stir with a wooden spoon until completely combined.

Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheddar and 1/4 cup Parmesan and bake until bubbly, for 20 minutes.

Garnish the dish with parsley and serve immediately.

*Cooks Notes:
Conchiglie [koŋˈkiʎʎe], is a type of pasta in which the name is derived from the Italian word “conchiglia” .Commonly known as “shells” or “seashells” , this pasta is usually sold in the plain durum wheat variety, and also in colored varieties which use natural pigments, such as tomato extract, squid ink or spinach extract. The shell shape of the pasta allows the sauce to adhere to it. A miniature variety called conchigliette is also available.

All photographs and content, excepted where noted, are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

Thank you so much!

 

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Lemon Squares

Lemon Squares

A light pastry crust with a tart lemon filling.

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All photographs and content, excepted where noted, are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

Thank you so much!

 

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Hello April!

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It’s Spring Time……

And cooking with the seasons means choosing fruits and vegetables that are at the peak of freshness and flavor and for the purposes of freshness, April is a fabulous month for choice! Buying locally grown produce is the best: local produce is less likely to be damaged, uses less energy to transport, ripens more naturally. In fact, when fruits and vegetables have been allowed to ripen on the vine for consumption — they taste sweeter and have significantly more intense flavor.

And, locally sourced produce helps the local economy as well.

April Fruits and Vegetables

Artichokes
Arugula (Rocket)
Asparagus
Beans
Beets
Broccoli
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Chicory
Chives
Dandelion greens
Fava Beans
Fiddlehead Fern
Horseradish
Leeks (end of season)
Lettuce (leaf and head)
Limes
Morel Mushrooms
Oranges
Papayas
Peas
Radishes
Ramps
Rhubarb
Shallots
Strawberries
Sweet Potatoes
Sweet Onions
Turnips
Watercress

 

This Month’s Featured Vegetable: Cabbage

Cabbage is in season all year long and is more abundant during the beginning of Spring.Cabbage is a low-calorie, fiber-rich, leafy vegetable that boasts plenty of health benefits, which include: treatment for constipation, headaches, obesity, arthritis, and vitamin C deficiency. An unsung hero of the vegetable crisper, this versatile veggie can be used in everything from slaws and salads, to fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, to soups and stews and Indian curries.

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Photo Credit: Produce Made Simple, 2018

Cabbage Varieties

Cabbage comes in a variety of kinds – green, red, Savoy and Napa.

Green and red cabbages are identical with the exception of their colour. Both are quite heavy for their size due to their density and are smooth and spherical in shape.

Savoy cabbage has crinkly and flexible green leaves that are looser than a green or red cabbage. Savoy is also milder in flavour (with the exception of the stems, which are slightly bitter) and very tender.

Napa cabbage is long with oblong leaves and pale green in colour and tastes milder than green cabbage and is common in Asian cuisine.

 

How to Select and Store Cabbage

Select  cabbages  with compact  heads and that feel  heavy for their size with good colour and nice crisp leaves. Avoid cabbages that have brown and/or blemished spots, or loose or yellow leaves. Cabbage generally keeps for a pretty long time and can be stored unwashed in a plastic bag in the vegetable crisper of your refrigerator for up to two weeks. That quality along for most cabbages makes it a good ingredient to keep on hand. However, Napa cabbage has a shorter shelf life and will only last approximately four days.

How to Prepare Cabbage

A cousin to broccoli, this potent anti-cancerous cruciferous vegetable can be a part of many healthy meals. It cab be great raw, in slaws, roasted in pieces, or chopped and sautéed with olive oil and garlic. It cab also be the best comfort foods of all times – cabbage rolls.

To prepare your cabbage, first remove the outer leaves and run it under cold water. To core the cabbage, use a small sharp knife and cut a cone shaped section from the bottom of the cabbage. Or, you can cut the cabbage into quarters starting at the stem end. Be sure to cut the core out of each piece.

You can also freeze cabbage for future use. Start by first chopping it into slices or chunks, depending on how you choose to use it in your recipes. Blanch cabbage for about a minute or two in boiling water, then drain and submerse into an ice bath to shock the cabbage and stop the cooking process. Spread the leaves or pieces out and pat dry. Transfer to a baking sheet to flash freeze, and then place in an airtight container and use within 9 months.

Important to note: One pound of cabbage will yield approximately four cups of shredded raw cabbage or two cups cooked cabbage.

Cabbage Tips

  • Red cabbage tends to turn pale blue when cooked so if you want it to retain its vibrant purple colour, add a little vinegar or lemon juice (or something slightly acidic like apples or wine).
  • Shredded cabbage is a great addition to any salad, soup or stir-fry and cooked shredded cabbage is a terrific filling in wraps and casseroles.
  • Try cooking cabbage until it’s just tender. This way it will retain its sweetness and crunch.
  • If you find it difficult to slice cabbage thinly, try peeling a few leaves off the head of the cabbage and stacking them on your cutting board. This makes it much easier to finely slice to your desired thickness.
  • Said to aid digestion, fermented foods including sauerkraut made from cabbage are on trend. It’s also very easy to do yourself at homeThis recipe is a good starting point for those who would like to give it a go.
  • Speaking of foods that are on trend, Kimchi, another fermented cabbage-based side dish, is having a much–deserved moment and can also be made at home.

 

Source:

Produce Made Simple: Cabbage. (2018) The Ontario Produce Marketing Association. Date Accessed March 18, 2018.  https://producemadesimple.ca/cabbage/ 

Creole Herb Crusted Lamb

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This rack of lamb recipe is simply delicious. Beautifully coated with a flavourful herb crust and cooked to perfection, serve it at your next dinner party and impress your guests. When purchasing lamb, ask for lamb that has been grass-fed from birth to market. It is healthiest for you and delicious!

Serves 4 

INGREDIENTS
For the Lamb:
2 racks of lamb, cut in half with 3 bones per serving
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil(for browning)
4 to 5 garlic cloves
1 bouquet of thyme
2 tablespoons Creole  mustard*

For the Herb Crust:
3 cups Japanese Panko breadcrumbs
1 1/2 cup  fresh parsley, stems included
1 cup baby spinach
1/3 cup of mint (optional)
4 sprigs thyme (leaves only)
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black, pepper to taste
1/4 cup  Parmesan cheese, grated
Splash of  olive oil

DIRECTIONS:
Heat oven to 400°F.

Select a cast iron skillet.

Remove the fat cap if present. Cut each rack into 3-4 bones each (approximately one serving).  NOTE: Do not cut all the way to the meat. Season on all sides with salt and pepper.

Heat the skillet to very hot, add olive oil until it is shimmering.  Add a bouquet of thyme, cloves of garlic. Place the lamb in skillet and sear on all sides of meat  and using tongs sear the ends, to give it a nice dark color.

Once browned, place the racks skin-side-down in the skillet, and into the oven for 12 minutes.

Preparing the Crust: Place the panko  breadcrumbs, herbs, spinach and Parmesan cheese into a blender or a  food processor and pulse several times until you have a very fine  green crumb. Add a splash of the olive oil and continue pulsing for a few more seconds. NOTE: It will still look like dry crumbs, but when you pinch it, it should stick together well. Pour onto a plate.

When lamb has been in for 12 minutes, remove from oven and brush all sides with  mustard. Then press each rack into the crumb mixture, coating on all sides and pressing it to get an nice even coating. Shake off any excess. Dip several times to ensure an even coating. Allow meat to rest for a bit.

Place the racks (this time skin-side-up) in a baking dish.  Place back into the oven for another 8-10 minutes (longer if you want well-done), Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of each rack. NOTE: The chops may be cooked to 145 °F (medium rare),160 °F (medium), or 170 °F (well done).

Serve the lamb with potatoes boulangère and courgettes provençal, but you can serve with anything you find fitting to your taste.

Cook’s Notes:
You can substitute Dijon mustard for the Creole mustard, if desired.