Friday, March 4, 2011

We are back to spicy up you pantry

Lamb Shoulder braised with coconut milk and chili jam

I am so sorry that we have been absentee bloggers. The holidays came along and we were over run with parties and private classes after things got a bit calmer it became harder and harder to start up again. So after a few months of being MIA we are back with a spicy condiment for your pantry and a savory dish to add to your recipe collection.
Thai Chili Jam

Thai chili jam (Nam prik pao) is a staple in most Thai pantries. A condiment, it's made with garlic,shallots, palm sugar,dried shrimp or fish sauce and of course Thai chilies. You can make your own but it is very reasonable to buy it like we did. Chili jam has a savory, sweet, and spicy flavor that can be added to sauces, soups, and even dressings. When we went to our local Asian grocery store to look for chili jam we couldn't find it right away so we tried to use the Thai name. I know the woman trying to help us wanted to laugh but was much too polite. In the end we found it and we were on our way to cooking up a great dinner. In May we will use the chili jam with stir-fried clams for a Simple Thai class we are teaching. Tonight we used the chili jam in a braising liquid with coconut milk and lamb shoulder chops. If lamb is not your favorite then substitute chicken legs or even diced pork shoulder.

To begin the recipe no matter which meat you use heat a large pan and add the oil, heat until smoking hot. Season the lamb well on both sides with salt and pepper. Sear the lamb on all sides. After searing the meat remove it from the pan.

lamb braising in coconut milk and chili jam

Add a bit more oil if needed and sear the carrots just like the lamb. Add the garlic, and shallots and quickly saute.Add the chili jam and again quickly saute. Add the wine and reduce until just about dry. Add the lime leaves, coconut milk, and stock. Add the lamb back into the braising liquid,braise the lamb covered over low heat about 45 minutes or until tender. Remove the lamb and lightly cover with foil to keep warm. Drain the soaked noodles. Add the soaked rice noodles and cabbage to the braising liquid and simmer until the noodles are tender about 6-7 minutes.Add the basil. Season with fish sauce and serve with a wedge of fresh lime.

Lamb Braised with Chili Jam and Coconut Milk
Serves: 6
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
6 (6 ounce shoulder blade chops)
salt and black pepper
5 large carrots, peeled and large dice
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
3 tablespoons chili jam
1 cup dry white wine
2 cans (13.5 ounce) coconut milk
4 cups chicken stock (homemade if possible)
5 lime leaves, julienne
1 pound rice noodles
3 cups julienne savoy cabbage
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Fish sauce to taste
salt to taste
lime wedges

Heat a large saute pan until hot, add oil and heat until smoking hot. Season the lamb well on each side with salt and black pepper, add to the pan and sear well on both sides, about 5 minutes. Remove the lamb from the pan and sear the carrots until brown add the garlic and shallot and quickly saute. Add the chili jam and again quickly saute. Add the wine and cook over high heat until the wine is reduced by at least half. Add the coconut milk and stock and bring to a boil. Add the lamb back into the braising liquid. Add the lime leaves and cover the pan and simmer over low heat about 45 minutes until the lamb is tender. While the lamb is cooking soak the noodles in warm water. Once the lamb is tender remove and lightly cover with foil. Add the noodles and cabbage to the braising liquid and cook over medium heat until tender about 6-7 minutes. Add the basil and fish sauce and taste. Add salt if needed. Ladle the noodles and vegetables into bowls and top with the lamb. Add sauce and serve with lime wedges.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tuscan Kale Braised with Bacon

Tuscan Kale, Lacinato Kale or Dinosaur Kale is a beautiful green that is in season right now! If you are lucky enough to have a farmers market still running then you should have lots to choose from in the kale department. Tuscan Kale is a dark green vegetable with curly tough leaves, when cooked the leaves turn into a silky vegetable that loves a bit of acid. We us it in soups and pastas but our favorite way to cook it is to braise it with a bit of bacon and onion. When we teach our students recipes using kale and other tough greens they often say that they have tried to cook them with little success. Because of that we think many people are afraid to cook kale or other greens and that is a real shame, they are so good when done right.
One of the biggest keys to cooking these types of greens is to make sure when they are served they are nice and tender and well seasoned.  To start the greens we first remove the stems from the back of the greens

Then bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add the Kale and cook until just barely tender about 10-12 minutes. Drain the kale, shock it by running cold water over it to stop the cooking. Now you are ready to cook the kale. In a large saute pan heat about 2 tablespoons of oil add your bacon and cook it just until the bacon begins to brown then we add the onions and cook until they just begin to brown. Add the sliced garlic just as the onions are browning and cook until the garlic just begins to brown

We then add the kale some chicken stock, balsamic vinegar and lemon juice and cook until the kale is completely tender and has a silky texture. At this point we add a bit of spice most of the time in the form of red chili flakes or fresh chilies diced. We usually use this dish as a side dish, the night we tested this recipe we roasted Yukon Gold potatoes in a very hot oven with herb sea salt and pan-fried a piece of cod with a cornmeal crust. A little squeeze of lemon over the top and we had a great dinner. Eat this now!

Braised Tuscan Kale
Serves: 6
2 bunches Tuscan Kale, stemmed and washed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 slices bacon, diced
1 onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 lemon, juiced
red chili flakes to taste
salt and black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the kale and cook just until barely tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water to shock and stop the cooking.
Heat a large saute pan with oil until very hot, add the bacon and cook just until it begins to crisp about 2 minutes. Add the onions and cook until they just begin to brown about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until the garlic starts to brown about 2 minutes. Add the kale, stock, vinegar, and lemon and cook until the kale was very tender and silky about 10 minutes. Add chilies and season well with salt and pepper. Serve warm

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

John's Pancakes

I am not exactly what you would call a morning person, morning for me is closer to noon then anything else. John on the other hand wakes up a bit happier than I do.  Which means he was elected to make breakfast or should I say brunch. He is the breakfast cook in our house also because he is so much better at it then I am. Cooking eggs takes a certain type of person and that has never ever been me. Even when I have been forced to work brunch during my career it was pure hell. John on the other hand sails through a brunch service and still liked the world at the end of it.

About 3 years ago John found this recipe for pancakes in Saveur magazine and he has been using it since, it is so simple and the pancakes are crispy on the outside and tender and cake like on the inside. Part of why we wanted to put this recipe on our blog is to encourage people to stop using pancake mixes. Pancake mixes are full of stuff that none of us need. Once you see how simple it is to make these you will never buy store bought again!

There are just two things to keep in mind when making pancakes. The first is not to over mix the batter. Just mix until the batter comes together a few lumps are ok. If you mix to much then your cakes will become tough and chewy. The second thing to remember is to make sure your pan or griddle is on a medium heat. Cooking the pancakes too hot will cause the cakes to burn and be gooey inside. The only other thing to keep in mind is to make sure and use the best syrup you can afford to crown your cakes. In the summer we scatter fresh blueberries on the cakes as they are cooking on the first side. One last tip if you do not have buttermilk combine 2 tablespoon of white vinegar with 2 cups of milk and allow to stand about 10 minutes. We use this when there isn't any buttermilk in the house and we need pancakes.  Eat this now!

pancake ingredients
John's Pancakes

Makes: about 12

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

To prepare the pancakes, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl and whisk to mix well. In a separate bowl add the eggs and whisk until a bit frothy. Add the buttermilk and mix well. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and mix just until combined. Gently fold in the butter.  Heat a large non-stick saute pan or griddle with a bit of butter over medium heat. Ladle as many pancakes that will fit without overcrowding the pan. Cook the pancakes until the tops bubble. Flip and cook until the cakes are golden brown about 4-5 minutes total. Remove from the griddle and serve warm.

Recipe taken from Saveur number 87


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pasta with Italian Sausage, Cauilflower, and Leeks

When John and I read cookbooks and magazines we are looking for new cooking methods or flavor combinations. We use these methods or flavors to spur our creativity. When I first read Mario Batali's cookbook Babbo I noticed that he cooked cauliflower a different way, he cut it  into small pieces then cooked it until very brown and crispy. If you haven't had cauliflower cooked this way you are really missing out, it turns a rather bland vegetable into crispy goodness. We really love cauliflower done this way and often use it as a side dish as well as adding it to soups and pasta.

We used sausage in this pasta recipe but in the past we have used pancetta and big surprise even bacon and if you are cooking for vegetarians you can easily leave out the sausage. 
We used Trader Joe's egg pappardelle pasta it really has a nice texture and cooks up like silk. When you cook the pasta make sure that you use a pot that is large enough, sometime I think people seek out the smallest pot they have to cook their pasta in. So get a nice big pot and add at least 8 cups of water and add  a generous hand full of salt to the water before adding the pasta. You can cook extra pasta and keep it for later in the week just toss with a bit of olive oil and it will keep for 3-4 days in your refrigerator. 
The goat cheese is added to the sauce to thicken the sauce but also adds a nice tangy flavor to the finished dish.I like a really big pinch of red chili flakes to spice up the pasta or you can have your guests add the spice at the table for those who are spicy weenies.Eat this now!

Pasta with Italian Sausage, Cauliflower, and Leeks
Serves: 6
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium head cauliflower, cut into small pieces
2 leeks, julienne
1 pound sweet Italian sausage
1 1/4 cup chicken stock
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
8 ounces soft mild goat cheese
salt and black pepper
red chili flakes
2 packages pappardelle pasta
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Bring a very large pot of salted water to a rolling boil

Heat the a large saute pan, then add the olive oil, heat the oil until smoking hot. Add the cauliflower and leeks and cook until very brown. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the sausage and cook until brown and just cooked through, add the chicken stock, garlic, and thyme and cook for about 2 minutes to deglaze the pan.  Add the pasta to the water , stir and allow to cook. Cook until al dente about 5-6 minutes. Strain the pasta. Add the goat cheese to the sauce and mix well. Add the cauliflower to the sauce and toss well. Season with salt and black pepper. Add a nice big pinch of red chili flakes. Add the pasta to the sauce, toss well and adjust the seasoning if needed. Serve warm topped with a bit of grated parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie with Sweet Potato Crust

After a really cruddy summer we finally got some really beautiful weather in October. But the rain is back and it brought the wind and cold with it....For us that means getting back in the kitchen and cooking up some of our favorite meals. Most chef love cooking this time of year we love those cheaper cuts that we braise for hours to create intense flavors and tender textures. When we created this blog we wanted to create recipes that use the best of the season and that are easy and creative.  John and I took a traditional chicken pot pie and layered the top with thin slices of sweet potato to create a simpler version of a crust. Sweet potatoes are so good for you and save you time over a traditional crust. You can add other vegetables to this dish like parsnips or diced butternut squash. This can also be a great vegetarian dish take out the chicken and up the vegetables and use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock and you have a rich vegetable pot pie. Eat this now!

Chicken Pot Pie with Sweet Potato Crust
Serves: 6
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ pounds chicken thighs, diced
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
About 2 cups diced carrots, about 4 medium carrots
About 2 cups quartered button mushrooms
About 2 cups diced Yukon Gold potatoes, about 3 medium potatoes
¼ cup all purpose flour
4 cups hot chicken stock
Salt and black pepper
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled sliced about ¼ inch thick
Extra virgin olive oil to drizzle
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
¼ cup finely grated parmesan cheese

Heat a very large sauté pan with olive oil until smoking hot. Add the chicken and sear well on all sides about 3-4 minutes. Add the onion and cook until the onion is tender about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, carrots, mushrooms, and potato and quickly sauté. Add the flour and sauté about 2 minutes. Whisk in the hot stock and mix until smooth. Season the chicken mixture with salt and black pepper.  Pour into a large baking dish. Arrange the sweet potatoes on top of the chicken mixture. Sprinkle with a bit of salt. Bake in the oven about 45 minutes until the potatoes are tender.  Top the sweet potatoes with paprika, rosemary, and cheese and bake another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool about 5 minutes. Serve warm.