Wednesday, August 24, 2011

#61 - Salmon and Spinach Cakes

It's been a while since we've made a new fish meal. Not anymore.

Salmon and Spinach Cakes

From Food & Wine This dish is salmon and spinach cakes with a jalapeno and dill mayonnaise. The first thing you do is cook up the potatoes and the spinach that are going to go in the cakes. Then while those are cooling, you chop the jalapeno and dill, mix them together with mayonnaise and some salt, and set that aside for when it's time to eat. After that, it's just puree-ing, forming the cakes, and pan frying. We've never had anything like these before, and they turned out pretty good. We probably didn't add enough salt to the potatoes because the cakes were a little bland on their own, but the jalapeno dill mayonnaise was very good, and it went really well with the cake.

The biggest problem we had was that this recipe made too many cakes for the two of us, so we put the rest in the freezer before cooking them, and hopefully they'll taste good in weeks to come. In need of a new fish recipe? Here you go:
  • 1 1/2 lbs large Yukon gold potatoes
  • 5 oz baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 3 Tbs chopped dill
  • Salt
  • 1 1/2 lbs skinless salmon fillet, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup onion, minced
  • Vegetable oil
  1. Cover the potatoes with water in a medium saucepan.
  2. Simmer potatoes over medium-high heat until tender, about 30 minutes.
  3. Drain and let cool.
  4. Peel potatoes and cut into 1/4-inch dice.  Transfer to a large bowl.
  5. In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbs of water over medium-high heat.
  6. Add spinach in batches, and cook until wilted.
  7. Drain spinach, squeeze dry, and coarsely chop.
  8. In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise, jalapeno, and dill and season with salt.
  9. Put the salmon in the food processor and pulse a few times, until chopped.
  10. Pulse in the cream until incorporated.
  11. Add the salmon to the potatoes.
  12. Stir in the spinach and onion and season with salt.
  13. Form mixture into 12 patties.
  14. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1/8 inch of vegetable oil over high heat.
  15. Add half of the cakes and fry until lightly browned on the bottom, about 1 minute.
  16. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until well browned, about 2 minutes.
  17. Turn and cook for 3 minutes, until browned.
  18. Repeat with the remaining cakes, adding more oil to the skillet as needed.
  19. Top cakes with the sauce and serve.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

#60 - Bourbon Blondies

We explained how we made bacon-bourbon brownies for Mikey's birthday due to his love for bacon and bourbon. The only problem is, Mikey's not a big fan of brownies, and he usually prefers blondies. We found a solution for that.

Bourbon Blondies

From Smitten Kitchen
For a more appropriate birthday dessert, we made Mikey bourbon blondies. There's nothing in these ingredients he can find offensive - sugar, vanilla, butter, bourbon.
And this couldn't be easier. It's just mix, mix, mix, and bake.
Again, the verdict's still out on this one. Some people preferred the bacon brownies; others wanted seconds of these.

You could definitely taste the bourbon more in these blondies than in the brownies, and while it's hard to make the perfect brownie, so few people ever eat blondies, these are definitely gonna be one of the best you've had.
If you're not a big chocolate fan, cook up a batch of these:
  • 8 Tbs butter, melted
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Butter an 8x8 glass pan.
  3. Beat melted butter with brown sugar until smooth.
  4. Beat in egg and then vanilla.
  5. Add salt, and stir in flour.
  6. Mix in bourbon.
  7. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  8. Bake until set in the middle, about 20-25 minutes.
  9. Cool completely on a rack and then cut into squares.

#59 - Bacon-Bourbon Brownies with Pecans

Today's Mikey's birthday, and when we saw this recipe had two of his favorite things - bacon and bourbon - we had his birthday dessert all planned out.

Bacon-Bourbon Brownies with Pecans

From Food & Wine
These are bacon-bourbon pecan brownies, so the recipe will definitely include bacon, bourbon, and pecans. And then you just need the ingredients it takes to make brownies - butter, eggs, sugar, and chocolate.
We've never made brownies from scratch before (unless you count those chocolate bouchons from a couple months back), and what better way to get started than with toasting some pecans.
The bizarre part was the bacon, but mostly that just goes on top as a crumble. And then some bacon fat and bourbon were added to make the inside extra moist.
As expected, these were pretty unusual brownies. A whole bunch of people went over to Nonno's house to celebrate Mikey and Lorenzo's birthdays, and the reception of this dessert was mixed. They tasted good, but they were really rich, and you probably couldn't eat a whole piece if you cut the squares too big.

The bacon, though, was kinda fun. It wasn't too overpowering and added a bit of texture and saltiness along with the pecans.
If you wanna give these a try, just follow these steps and see what you think.
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/2 lb sliced bacon
  • 8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 stick plus 2 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 Tbs bourbon
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving 2 inches of overhang on 2 opposite sides. Spray with nonstick spray.
  3. Spread pecans in a pie plate and toast until fragrant, about 8 minutes. Let cool and coarsely chop.
  4. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp, about 6 minutes.
  5. Drain on paper towels and let cool. Reserve 3 Tbs of the fat.
  6. Finely chop the bacon.
  7. In a small saucepan, combine both chocolates and the butter and stir over very low heat until melted. Scrape into a large bowl.
  8. Using a handheld electric mixer, beat in both sugars with the reserved 3 Tbs of bacon fat.
  9. Beat in the bourbon.
  10. Add the eggs and beat until smooth.
  11. Sift the cocoa and flour into the bowl and beat until blended.
  12. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the pecans and bacon on top.
  13. Bake until the brownies are set around the edges but slightly wobbly in the center, about 50 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center should have some batter clinging to it.
  14. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and cool brownies completely.
  15. Lift the brownies out of the pan using the parchment paper. Cut into squares and serve.

Monday, August 8, 2011

#58 - Corn and Black Bean Salad

Pete Beck made this salad at Grandma Bebe's house earlier this summer, and since it was really tasty and pretty easy to make, we thought it deserved a spot in the Hundred.

Corn and Black Bean Salad

From Pete Beck
This is a corn and black bean salad, so make sure you have corn and black beans. You're also gonna need a red onion, a lime, and cilantro if you have some. We didn't.
Basically, you're just cutting and mixing here.
We've been getting some really nice corn on the cob from Farmer Randy this summer, and this is the first time that we've cut the kernels off of the ear. It's surprisingly entertaining.
This is a really great summer salad. It's light and flavorful and has that zing of citrus from the lime.
This is so easy, you really don't have an excuse not to make this.
  • 3 ears of corn, husked
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 lime
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  1. Fill a large pot with water and add corn.
  2. Set on high heat. Remove corn when water begins to boil.
  3. When slightly cooled, slice kernels off of cob.
  4. Mix corn, onion, and black beans in a large bowl.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the juice of one lime and the olive oil.
  6. Toss dressing with corn salad, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

#57 - Indian-Spiced Short Ribs

We're kinda big Top Chef fans, and when we found this recipe online from Top Chef Season 6 winner and all-around kitchen ninja Michael Voltaggio, we knew we had to give it a try. Now, if only we had a fully stocked kitchen and a suite of GE appliances...

Indian-Spiced Short Ribs

From Top Chef Michael Voltaggio
This is an Indian-inspired dish, so there are a lot of spices. It's also a Top Chef recipe, so there are like a thousand steps.
The first step is to toast some seeds before grinding them, but we couldn't find the cumin seeds that the recipe called for, so we just used already ground cumin.
Then after browning the meat in a big pot (we used a Dutch oven), you cook some vegetables.
Then you make a braising liquid and add in some of the spice blend - called a garam masala - and you add the meat back in and plop it in the oven.
Oh wow. Now we know why this dude won.

A) This was delicious.
B) It was impossible to make.

You really feel like you're competing for Padma and the judges when you use this many ingredients and techniques for one meal.

And then you really feel like you are Padma and the judges when you get to eat it. Because it was crazy good.
If you've got the time and energy, pack your knives and go make this:
  • 1/4 cup coriander seeds
  • 2 Tbs cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbs black peppercorns
  • 1 Tbs ground ginger
  • 1 Tbs ground cardamom
  • 1 Tbs cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 2 Tbs canola oil
  • 4 boneless short ribs, trimmed of fat
  • Salt
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 3 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 2 heads garlic, halved crosswise
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 1 qt chicken stock
  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. In a small skillet, toast coriander and cumin seeds over medium-high heat, shaking pan constantly, about 2 minutes.
  3. After seeds are cooled, grind with peppercorns, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, crushed red pepper, and bay leaves in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Pulse this garam masala to a powder.
  4. Heat oil in a large cast-iron casserole over high heat.
  5. Season short ribs with salt, and sear until browned and crusty all over, about 15 minutes. Transfer meat to a plate.
  6. Add the onion, carrots, and celery to the casserole and cook over medium heat until lightly browned, about 7 minutes.
  7. Add the garlic, tomatoes, and 3 tablespoons of the spice mixture and cook until fragrant and the tomatoes are starting to break down, about 3 minutes.
  8. Add the wine, and boil until reduced by half, scraping up any browned bits of meat, about 5 minutes.
  9. Add the stock and bring to a simmer.
  10. Return meat to the casserole and season with salt.
  11. Cover and braise in the over for about 2 hours, until just tender.
  12. Transfer the meat to a baking sheet.
  13. Strain the liquid into a saucepan. Skim off and discard the fat that rises to the surface.
  14. Boil liquid over high heat until reduced to 1 cup, about 15 minutes.
  15. Preheat the broiler and position rack 8 inches from the heat.
  16. Brush the meat with some of the sauce and broil for 3 minutes per side, until browned and sizzling.
  17. Sprinkle meat lightly with the garam masala powder, then slice it 1/2 inch thick.
  18. Serve with remaining sauce.