Sesame Salmon with Lime Broccoli & Spring Onions

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sesame Salmon with Lime Broccoli & Spring Onions

I'm a creature of comfort & of habit. I have always been in-tune with my sense of smell & I love getting a whiff of something and being taken back to fond memories and happy moments. :) My parents live down the road from a tire manufacturers and there's nothing like the smell of hot rubber wafting through North Carolina pine trees in the summer time. Ahhh. [You're probably thinking that this is a weird way to start an entry in a food blog. I know.]

Let me talk to you about Sesame Salmon with Lime Broccoli & Spring Onions, though.

Spanish -style Chorizo & Potato Tortilla

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Spanish Chorizo & Potato Tortilla

Although they both speak Spanish, Spain and Mexico are completely different countries. Radical thought, eh? No, I'm not being pedantic, the differences in Spain and Mexico are as pronounced as the differences in America and England. The similarities are as similar as well. But here's one difference that needs explaining: the tortilla.

Mexican tortilla: a flat pastry dough made either out of flour or corn, used as the base for burritos and tacos.
Spanish tortilla: an egg omelet.

My first experience with a Spanish tortilla wasn't in Spain, unfortunately. It was in the back garden in a quiet area of Manchester, one overcast summer day. A friend was having a housewarming barbecue and had made a delicious spinach and feta tortilla. I decided at that moment that I wanted to try my own. I found a recipe for one featuring one of favorite Spanish ingredients, chorizo, and set out making my first Spanish-style tortilla.


Ingredients: 4 eggs, beaten; parsley, salt and pepper to taste, 5 medium-sized potatoes peeled and finely sliced, 2 medium-sized onions, diced; a pack of sliced chorizo, half a pack of shredded cheddar cheese (115g), 5 tablespoons of olive oil.

Method: Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large nonstick pan. (Make sure the pan is really nonstick.) I used a wok. Cook chorizo until it browns or is cooked through. Leave on a napkin to rest.
Add two more tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and fry the potatoes and onions for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring so that they brown evenly. Cover the pan and reduce to a gentle heat (1 or 2) and allow to cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Preheat the broiler (grill in the UK) to about 400F (200C).

Meanwhile, add the parsley, salt and pepper and cheese to the beaten eggs. Allow the ingredients to incorporate into the egg, then add the chorizo, followed by the onions and potatoes. Take care not to beak the potatoes when mixing them into the egg mixture. Add your last tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, and allow to warm. Pour the mixture back into the pan and fry on a low heat until the bottom of the omelet is cooked. This should take about five minutes. Periodically shake the pan to ensure that the omelet isn't sticking. While the egg is finishing off, wrap the handle of the pan in aluminum foil, if it is not a steel handle so that it doesn't melt in the broiler/grill.

Place the pan in the broiler for about 3 to 5 minutes or until cooked to your desired consistency. Slide the omelet out of the pan and onto a plate. Cut into wedges and serve. I served mine with cornbread and it tasted really good.

Prosciutto & Parmigiano Reggiano Omelet with Glazed Bacon

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Prosciutto and Parmigiano Reggiano Omelet with Glazed Bacon

One year during my undergrad, I went to Florida with a friend for spring break. While down there, I had my first experience with prosciutto. It was layered on one of the most amazing sandwiches I have ever tasted. The prosciutto was slightly warm and had an unmistakable full-on sweet & salty flavor with a hint of acceptable bitterness. I was hooked.

Years later while in Milan, I stumbled to a sandwich van parked in the square outside of Il Duomo. I handed the dark-faced man in the shade of the van a few Euro coins and he handed me a simple sandwich: cold & salty raw prosciutto with runny mozzarella cheese, sandwiched on a crusty Italian baguette-type bread.

Yesterday while grocery shopping, I came across a packet of prosciutto on special offer. I was in the deli section picking up some chorizo and thought, Why not? It's been long enough, and tossed the prosciutto into the cart.

This morning, with the sun shining in my face & my stomach growling, I sought to combine the prosciutto with Italian flavors to make an omelet. My flavors of choice were fresh basil from my windowsill garden and parmigiano reggiano. I threw in some tomatoes for added acidity & because what's an omelet without vine-ripened tomatoes? A little bit of salt & pepper & some cinnamon. Well, quite a bit of cinnamon, to ensure that the flavor came through. I served it up with oven-cooked bacon with a brown sugar glaze.

Chicken and Cheese Pie

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Chicken and cheese pies

One of the things I love most about living in the Northwest of England is this region's obsession with meat pies and pasties. While, in America, we tend to refer to pies typically as desserts, with the exceptions, of course, of pot pies and Shepherd's pies, in England, you can find almost anything in a pie.

My recipe is a variation of a Chicken and Stilton Pie recipe snagged from The Everyday Chicken Cookbook. Changes were made for a variety of reasons: 1. Stilton is a blue cheese and I prefer blue cheese as a sauce or dressing. 2. The recipe calls for celery as a part of the filling and this seemed a bit odd to me since celery's main property is water and since it lacks in flavor. 3. The recipe calls for an insane amount of lard and butter: 75 grams or 6 tablespoons! I definitely reduced this to make a healthier option and changed butter to margarine.

So, here we are. This recipe yields 4 rather large pies.
For the pastry:
350 grams of self-rising flour
2.5 ml teaspoon of salt
25 grams of lard
25 grams of margarine
100 ml cold water
beaten egg, to glaze

For the filling:
4 chicken breasts, diced
25 grams of chopped walnuts
25 grams of spring onions, sliced
50 grams of Double Gloucester cheese (or any strong cheese)
2.5 ml of rosemary
2.5 ml of oregano
salt and black pepper as you wish

Preheat your oven to 200C/400F. Mix the flour and salt in a bowl and Cut in your lard and butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in the cold water to form a stiff, pliable dough.

Turn out onto a work surface and knead lightly until smooth. Divide into four and roll out each piece until desired thickness. Cut into a 20cm/8in circle.

Mix the chicken and the chopped walnuts, spring onions, cheese, rosemary, oregano and salt and pepper. Divide the filling equally among the pastry circles.

Chicken and cheese turnover pies
 Brush the edge of the pastry with beaten egg and fold over pinching and crimping the edges together well. Brush the remaining egg on the outside of the parcel. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 40 minute or until golden brown.

Voila! I served it with a really nice butternut squash rice. Very filling.

Roasted Duck Crown and Potatoes

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Roasted Duck Crown

The other day, I decided to have something different. I am a huge fan of Hoisin duck, that was my first encounter with duck, a mere two years ago, but I didn't want to try to make duck pancakes, I wanted something a bit different. Lo and behold, the roast duck crown.

It's pretty simple, get your duck crown already prepared (it's what I did) and season and bake for about 50 to 55 minutes or until as done as you like it.

Just a bit of cracked peppercorns and a smidgen of paprika and salt is all it took. To go with it? Roasted potatoes of course!

Perfect Roasted Potatoes:

Peel and quarter your potatoes.
Place into a pot of salted, boiling water for 10 minutes. While the potatoes boil heat about 25 millitres or 1 ounce of lard in a sturdy roasting pan at 220 C or 420 F.

After the potatoes have boiled, drain and lightly cover in all purpose/plain flour. Replace the lid of the saucepan and vigorously shake the potatoes to create rough edges. Next, remove the sizzling lard from the oven and spoon your potatoes into the pan. Use a brush or baster to cover the potatoes and return to the oven for about 40 minutes. There's no need to turn the potatoes, they will cook through.

Top with salt and pepper and herbs if you wish and serve with the duck.

Perfectly roasted duck crown

Risotto & Crostata

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Classic risotto

I have become a huge fan of Giada di Laurentiis. I was recently watching her show "Everyday Italian" and she did a recipe for a Halloween version of the classic Italian dessert, crostata. A few years ago, I spent a few nights in Milan and after having authentic Italian gelatto, I vowed to only eat ice cream for the remainder of my trip.
And then, the next day, on my way to Il Maria di Grazia to see da Vinci's Last Supper, I stumbled across a quaint bakery, nestled down a quiet lane. Rows and rows of freshly baked bread and pastries lined the shop window, and of course, I gave in and a few seconds later sunk my teeth into a breakfast combination that only works in Italy: a Michetta (typical bread roll from Milan) and a crostata.
Strawberry crostata

I decided to tweak Giada's recipe and create a strawberry crostata of my own, using fresh strawberries I collected last weekend at a typical Mancunian market. The crostatas turned out amazing: light filling with fresh strawberries in a mix of flour, sugar and cinnamon on the inside. Pure loveliness.

Deciding to keep with the Italian theme, I made a risotto tonight. It was meant to be a typical mushroom risotto, but after making omelets earlier in the week, I didn't have as many mushrooms left over as I would have liked, so I quickly added in some mint and peas and made it into a mint and pea risotto with mushrooms and parsley. :)

It was my first attempt at making a risotto and I was delighted to find that it is actually pretty easy! To add depth to the dish, I softened some onions and garlic in the pan in a bit of olive oil before adding the white wine and arborio rice along with the mushrooms. I then added ladlefuls of chicken stock to the pan, letting the liquid reduce before adding more. When I was about half way through the stock, I added in the mint and peas and continued to add liquid before finally adding the seasoning, parsley and parmesan. Simple and tasty.

This dish really works because you have the earthy nutty flavors of the mushrooms grounding the dish, so to speak, along with the yummy fresh taste of frozen peas and a subtle echo of mint that's not too overpowering but still full of flavor. You also get hints of wine (I used a rather unusual Hungarian white). Depending on the type of wine you use, the dish can be a myriad of flavor combinations. 

Strawebrry Crostatas

Simple Cherry Crumble

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Simple Cherry Crumble
One of the best desserts is a nice, sweetly-tart cherry crumble & it is by far one of the easiest desserts to make! It will certainly put a smile on everybody's face, and with just 12 to 15 minutes in the oven, you can whip it up at the last minute.