Friday, August 29, 2008

Braised Endive with Prosciutto

Adapted from All About Braising by Molly Stevens, found on Orangette blog

The original version of this recipe calls for browning the endive in butter, which helps to tame its bitterness, but with a feeble nod to my arteries, I have instead substituted olive oil for two-thirds of the butter. Happily, the end result does not seem to have suffered, and so far, neither have my arteries. For best results, choose endive with sleek, tight leaves and no bruises or discolorations, and opt for smaller specimens over large ones.

2 to 3 pounds Belgian endive
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs unsalted butter
4 or so thin slices prosciutto (about 3 or 4 ounces), cut crosswise into 1-inch-wide strips
1 cup good-quality chicken broth or stock
1/4 cup heavy cream
Coarse salt, such as Maldon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 F degrees.

Rinse the endive, dry them lightly, and remove their outermost leaves. If the root end is brown or looks dried out, trim it lightly. Cut each endive in half lengthwise.

Warm the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add as many endive as will fit in a loose layer, cut side down, and cook until the cut sides are nicely browned, about 4 minutes. Flip the endive, and cook them for a minute or two on the other side; them remove them to a large (9” by 13”) baking dish, arranging them cut side up. Add the butter to the skillet. When it has melted and is no longer foaming, add the remaining endive, and brown them as instructed above and place them in the baking dish. The endive should fit in a single layer in the dish.

There should still be a thin sheen of butter in the skillet. Still over medium heat, add the prosciutto to the skillet, and turn them gently but quickly to slick them with butter. Tuck the strips between, around, and on top of the endive in the baking dish.

Pour the chicken broth into the skillet, and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, scrape the skillet to loosen any flavorful bits; then pour the hot broth over the endive and prosciutto in the baking dish.

Cover the dish snugly with foil, slide it into the oven, and braise the endive until they are very tender when pierced with a paring knife, about 35 minutes. Remove the foil, and baste the endive by spooning over any juices in the pan. If the pan is dry, add 2 Tbs of water. Braise, uncovered, for another 8 to 10 minutes, until the pan juices have turned a caramel color and have almost completely evaporated. Pour over the heavy cream, and bake until it takes on a caramel color, about 6 minutes more. Serve warm or at room temperature, with salt and pepper to taste.

Yield: 3 to 6 servings, depending on what else is on the plate.

Personal Note: This is so freaking good. I am not the biggest salad person--my favorite salads don't focus on the leafy greens and are more about the other stuff, like olives or awesome tomatoes or cheese--and like a typical Asian (even though I'm not ;) I love bitter greens braised or briefly sauteed. I know this dish is a joke health and "I'm getting my veggies!" wise, but I don't care. It's amazing, even if you don't bother with the caramelized creamy last step...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Cube Steak Parmigiana

Ready in 1-2 hours
Difficulty 3/5
Serves/Makes 6

3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/3 cup saltine crackers, finely crushed
1/2 teaspoon basil
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon oregano, divided
3 slices mozzarella cheese, halved
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
6 (4 ounce) cube steaks

In three shallow bowls, combine flour, salt and pepper; beat egg and water; and combine parmesan, saltines and basil. Dip steaks in flour mixture and egg mixture, then roll in cheese mixture. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium high heat. Brown three steaks on both sides.

Remove to a greased 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Repeat with the remaining steaks, adding additional oil as needed. Bake, uncovered , at 375F for 25 minutes.

Drain any pan juices. Combine the tomato sauce, sugar, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of the oregano. Pour over steaks. Bake 20 minutes longer. Place mozzarella cheese on steaks. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and remaining oregano. Return to the oven for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Personal Note: Made this tonight during Robert's band practice to get rid of the cube steaks in the fridge. I've never heard of this and have no idea if it will turn out any good, but it's something to do, right? And super easy, if a little fake...

Thursday, August 21, 2008


For loaf:
Ground beef: usually around 4 or 5 pounds
Eggs: 1 egg per pound of beef for the first 3 pounds, and usually no more than 3 or 4 eggs total for as much as 5 or 6 pounds of beef
(Fresh) breadcrumbs: totally by feel
Onion soup mix (dry): 1 package per pound of beef for the first 2 pounds, and no more than 2 or 3 packages total for as much as 5 or 6 pounds of beef
Worcestershire sauce: again, it's a whim thing mostly
Jus/beef drippings (optional), if finished mix is still a bit dry
Ketchup: enough to coat the finished loaf and add a stripe down its middle

Vegetables, as much as you like of, say:

Meatloaf's ratios are never the same each time, so you go by feel. Put the loaf ingredients except for the jus and ketchup in a huge wide washable bowl and goosh everything with your hands until it's the consistency you want. Avoid dry meat loaf--it's the easiest judgment mistake one can make, I find, and the results are nasty. If after you've worked it it seems dry and not congealed and smooth enough, add a bit of jus and re-goosh. It should look congealed and coated and smooth now--slippery like a seal, ha. Put it in a wide deep roasting pan like you would for a turkey, NOT a tight small loaf pan. You want lots of space around the meatloaf; it'll prevent it from overcooking and drying out. That extra space is also where you'll put all the vegetables you peel and cut to desired size, and the extra jus. Form the meat into a tidy loaf in the pan, coat it with a thin glaze of ketchup, put a stripe of ketchup down the center of the loaf, and surround the loaf with the veggies. Cook it for a few hours at 325 F until it seems done. It will smell great. Yum.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Oven-Roasted Fruit

From Barefoot Contessa Parties! by Ina Garten
Episode: The Mediterranean Feast

6 peaches, pitted and cut into quarters or eighths
6 plums or Italian prune plums, pitted and quartered or halved
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups fresh raspberries
2 tablespoons orange juice

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Place the peaches and plums snugly in a single layer, cut side up, in 2 glass or porcelain oven-proof baking dishes. Sprinkle with the sugar, and then top with the raspberries. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until tender.

Heat the broiler and place the fruit about 5 inches below the heat and broil for 5 to 8 minutes, until the berries release some of their juices.

Remove from the broiler and sprinkle with orange juice. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.

Personal Note: Good with pound, lemon, or sponge cake, or creme fraiche, homemade whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream. Tastes a bit like compote--lush, varied mouth feel and both tart and sweet. Good with a dessert Riesling, Sauternes, or Vin Santo. Maybe even a French fruit aperitif like Mirabelle, hm...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Tzatziki and Pita

From Ina Garten

4 cups plain yogurt, whole milk or low-fat
2 hothouse cucumbers, unpeeled and seeded
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 cloves)
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Place the yogurt in a cheesecloth-lined sieve and set it over a bowl. Grate the cucumber and toss it with 2 tablespoons salt; place it in another sieve and set it over another bowl. Place both bowls in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours so the yogurt and cucumber can drain.

Transfer the thickened yogurt to a large bowl. Squeeze as much liquid from the cucumbers as you can, and add the cucumbers to the yogurt. Mix in the sour cream, vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, dill, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper. You can serve it immediately, but I prefer to allow the tzatziki to sit in the refrigerator for a few hours for the flavors to blend.

Personal Note: Made this for the Sunday afternoon board game party at Mosh and Jolly's. I cheated because I was super short on time though--I just used high quality true Greek yogurt and hoped it'd be dense/thick and flavorful enough without so much time straining. It probably is worth the extra time, and one day I'll try to do it properly all the way through and compare results. But people enjoyed it, even the food snobs at the gathering. So! ...Ina never steers me wrong.

Rosemary Cashews

From Barefoot in Paris: Easy French Food You Can Really Make at Home by Ina Garten

Serves 8.

Here is a savory cocktail nibble that would satisfy a French host's needs. These cashews were inspired by the bar nuts served at Union Square Cafe in New York City, which is one of my favorite restaurants in the world. The cashews are best served warm, but you can prepare the rosemary mixture in advance.

1 pound roasted unsalted cashews
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

2. Spread the cashews out on a sheet pan. Toast in the oven until warm, about 5 minutes.

3. In a large bowl, combine the rosemary, cayenne, sugar, salt, and butter. Thoroughly toss the warm cashews with the spiced butter and serve warm.

Personal Note: This was a hit at Mosh and Jolly's impromptu weekend Olympics/twister (ha) potluck--a super easy, super fragrant hit! I really like rosemary, and I love cayenne, so... In my (admittedly unorthodox) opinion, one could easily cut back on the salt in the recipe and it might even taste better.

Orzo With Roasted Vegetables

From Barefoot Contessa Parties! by Ina Garten

Serves 6.

1 2 small eggplant, peeled and 3/4 inch diced
1 red bell pepper, 1 inch diced
1 yellow bell pepper, 1 inch diced
1 red onion, peeled and 1 inch diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 lb orzo pasta or rice-shaped pasta

For the dressing
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

To assemble
4 scallions, minced (white and green parts)
1/4 cup pignolis (pine nuts), toasted
3/4 lb good feta, 1/2 inch diced (not crumbled)
15 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade or julienne cut

*To toast pignolis, put in a small saute pan dry for 4 minutes or until golden brown, tossing frequently to prevent burning.
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Toss the eggplant, bell peppers, onion, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, and pepper on a large sheet pan.
3. Roast for 40 minutes, until browned, turning once with a spatula.
4. Meanwhile, cook the orzo in boiling salted water for 7 to 9 minutes, until tender.
5. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl.
6. Add the roasted vegetables to the pasta, scraping all the liquid and seasonings from the roasting pan into the pasta bowl.
7. For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper and pour on the pasta and vegetables.
8. Let cool to room temperature, then add the scallions, pignolis, feta, and basil.
9. Check the seasonings, and serve at room temperature.

Personal Note: Wow, does this not have everything delicious imaginable in it?! This is in the "so freaking good" category for me. I mean, feta! Toasted pignolis! Fresh basil and lots of it! Scallions! Roasted, sweet seasonal veggies! Mmmm. And it's very, very easy. According to Ina, all of the vegetables are in season at the same time, and this can easily be made in advance (you can do everything ahead up to step 8 and then add the scallions, pignolis, feta, and fresh basil before serving). It probably goes without saying, but this dish is really pretty, smells awesome, and is good for entertaining because it's served room temperature. It's important to add the dressing while the pasta and vegetables are hot so they absorb the flavors.

EDIT: Aw, this dish received a shout out from my cutie. Sweet.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Beef Chow Mein

1. 8 ounces fresh thin Chinese egg noodles* (also called Hong Kong noodles; not wonton noodles)
2. 1 (1/2 pound) piece flank steak
3. 1/4 teaspoon sugar
4. 1/4 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
5. 2 tablespoons soy sauce
6. 2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine (preferably Shaoxing) or medium-dry Sherry
7. 2 tablespoons oyster sauce*
8. 2 teaspoons cornstarch
9. 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
10. 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
11. 1/2 cup peanut or vegetable oil, plus
12. 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
13. 1 teaspoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
14. 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
15. 3 scallions, cut into 2 1/2-inch pieces
16. 5 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps quartered
17. 6 ounces choy sum, cut into 2 1/2-inch pieces or 1-inch-wide broccoli florets

1. Bring 8 cups unsalted water to a boil in a 6- to 8-quart pot, then add noodles, stirring to separate, and cook 15 seconds. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water until noodles are cool, then shake colander briskly to drain excess water.
2. Cut steak with the grain into 1 1/2- to 2-inch-wide strips. Cut each strip across the grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices and put in a medium bowl. Using your hands, toss beef with sugar, sesame oil, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon rice wine, 1 tablespoon oyster sauce, and 1 teaspoon cornstarch. Let beef marinate at room temperature while preparing remaining ingredients.
3. Stir together remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon rice wine, 1 tablespoon oyster sauce, and 1 teaspoon cornstarch with 1/4 teaspoon white pepper in a small bowl until smooth, then stir in chicken broth.
4. Heat wok over high heat until a drop of water evaporates within 1 to 2 seconds of contact, then add 1/2 cup peanut oil and heat until just smoking. Carefully add noodles all at once, flattening top to form a 9-inch cake. Cook until underside is golden, 4 to 5 minutes, rotating noodle cake with a metal spatula to brown evenly and lifting edges occasionally to check color. Carefully flip noodle cake over with spatula and tongs, then cook, rotating cake, until other side is golden, 2 to 3 minutes more. Transfer noodle cake to a large paper-towel-lined plate to drain excess oil. Discard any oil remaining in wok and wipe out wok with paper towels.
5. Transfer drained noodle cake to a platter and loosely cover with foil to keep warm.
6. Heat wok over high heat until a drop of water evaporates within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Pour 1 tablespoon peanut oil down side of wok, then swirl oil, tilting wok to coat sides. Add beef, spreading pieces in 1 layer on bottom and sides as quickly as possible. Cook, undisturbed, letting beef begin to brown, 1 minute, then stir-fry until meat is just browned on all sides but still pink in center, about 1 minute. Transfer meat and any juices to a plate.
7. Add 1 tablespoon oil to wok over high heat. When oil just begins to smoke, add ginger and garlic and stir-fry 5 seconds, then add scallions and stir-fry 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and stir-fry until softened, about 3 minutes. Add choy sum and stir-fry until leaves are bright green and just wilted, 2 to 3 minutes (if using broccoli, cook until almost crisp-tender). Stir broth mixture, then pour into wok and stir-fry until sauce is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Add beef and stir to coat. Return mixture just to a boil, then pour over noodle cake.