Monday, August 17, 2009

Pesto Pea Salad

I rarely find a recipe that I don't tweak or change. I also don't make many dishes with only a few ingredients and/or spices, but this is one of them. It's perfect.

This salad is such a great sumer dinner. Not only does it have great flavor and texture, it takes 5 minutes to throw together. We had it for dinner tonight on its own, although it would be great with some crusty bread, and a grilled chicken breast marinaded in pesto.

Pesto Pea Salad
1/4 lb baby spinach, washed
10 oz. frozen peas, defrosted
1/2 c. prepared pesto
1 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp toasted pine nuts

Place all ingredients in a bowl. Toss. Eat.

* I really like to use the frozen baby peas from Trader Joe's.
Recipe from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa at Home, page 77 (2006); my picture :)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pancetta-Wrapped Peaches with Basil and Aged Balsamic - Stuart Brioza | Food & Wine

Ok - this sounds so good! I am going to try it this week. I think with a salad, and a nice sauvignon blanc with fresh peaches sliced into the wine... I am in love with the Geyser Peak Sauvignon right now; its a good price and easy to find. Also, since aged balsamic isn't in my budget, I will use a balsamic reduction. All you need to do is simmer the balsamic until it has reduced to a desired consistency. Doing this produces a richer and thicker vinegar, very similar to an aged balsamic.

You can find the recipe here:

Image by Food & Wine Magazine
Shared via AddThis

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009

Farmer's Market Pasta

So, not only do I have a problem with using the oven, I avoid it. I mean, really. What is the point of baking a pasta dish that is perfectly good without the extra step. Case in point, Penne with Corn, Zucchini and Basil. Sounds delicious. It does not, however, sound like I need to wait an additional 45 minutes to eat it, or dirty more dishes for that matter, by baking it. Plus, eliminating some of that cooking keeps the veggies perfectly cooked, and the sauce fresh. This is my stove top only adaptation of Penne with Corn, Zucchini and Basil; I call it Farmer's Market Pasta. You can easily pick up the majority of the ingredients at your local farmer's market - if you're in Madison, stop by Creekside Farm, and say hello to Mark and Chris, my honorary Uncle and Aunt!

Farmer's Market Pasta
Kosher salt, to taste
1 lb. penne
6 Tbs. olive oil, plus more as needed
Kernels cut from 3 ears of corn
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 zucchini, about 2 lb. total, cut into half-moons
1 small yellow onion, diced
8 tomatoes, cored, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 Tbs. chopped garlic
2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 Tbs. tomato paste
1/3 cup white wine
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
6 oz. mozzarella cheese, grated
2 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated

In a 12-inch nonstick fry pan over medium-high heat, warm 3 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the corn, season with salt and black pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn is lightly golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Set aside.

Return the pan to medium-high heat and warm the remaining 3 Tbs. olive oil. Working in batches, add the zucchini, season with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is tender and golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add to the bowl with the corn. Repeat with the remaining zucchini, adding more oil to the pan as needed.

Start boiling the water for the pasta.

Set the pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion, 1 tsp. salt and black pepper, to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes soften and begin to form a sauce, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and cook until the wine has reduced and the sauce is fairly thick, about 3 minutes more. Next add the tomato sauce, basil, mozzarella and Parmigiano-Reggiano to the bowl with the vegetables and toss to combine.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Generously salt the water, add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain the pasta, add to the sauce, toss - enjoy!

Adapted on August 5, 2009 from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.

NOTE: I also think this would be a great make ahead dish: sauté the corn, then the zucchini, and set aside. Prepare the sauce, put a lid on it, and move it to the back of the stove. When you're ready to eat, cook the pasta, and turn the heat on under the sauce. I don't think you need to reheat the veggies; I didn't last night and there was probably an hour break. Toss it all together and enjoy. Oooo, I bet this would be great if you grilled the corn on the cob, then cut it off to add.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Best Potatoes

I'm not sure what to call these delicious nuggets of potato heaven, but they are so good I'm not sure they need a name. Any reference to "those potatoes you made that one time," will automatically populate this recipe in my brain. It's simple, really. Boil whole, unpeeled, fingerling potatoes in liberally salted water* until fork-tender. Drain, and allow to cool until they can be handled. Split each potato lengthwise, and salt the cut side generously. In a 10" saute pan over medium heat, put in about a tablespoon of butter - we're looking for a pond of butter. Not a lake, but a pond. Lay the potato halves, cut-side down, into the butter pond. (I said good, not healthy.) DO NOT TOUCH THEM. Let them get nice and toasty in the pond. I'd say after 5 minutes check the bottom of ONE - we're looking for golden brown deliciousness. Once there, remove the little gems to a plate, cut-side up, and sprinkle with freshly chopped herbs. I used chive, parsley, and thyme. So good. SO GOOD. I really thought this was appropriate to accompany my Julia Child dish. The potatoes are, after all, in a pond of butter.

Note: To properly boil a potato, I was taught to scrub the potatoes, place them all in a pot, and then fill the pot with cold water to cover the potatoes by a couple of inches. Place the pot on the stove and place on a high heat to bring to a boil. To check for doneness, pull a potato out of the water and stick a fork in it. If there is a lot a resistance and it is hard to put the fork in, then they need to cook longer. If the fork slides in easily, the potatoes are cooked.

* Please, please, for the love of your pot, please do not salt the water until it has reached a boil. Adding salt before it reaches a boil will cause the bottom of your pot to get pock marks from the settled salt.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

How I Met Julia Child

I have to introduce my debut newspaper article by admitting that I cannot pronounce the name of this dish, Paupiettes du Boeuf. However, I take solace in the fact that Nancy Stohs, the food editor for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, cannot either. You can find my article, as well as more pictures of the process and fellow blogger's tales on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's website at

There are two things that I did not mention in the article: how AMAZING the sauce was and how much more we enjoyed this as leftovers. I served the Paupiettes with green beans (obviously) and fingerling potatoes. (Come back tomorrow for the potato recipe - so good!)

Without further ado:

In an era when a craving can be fulfilled by hopping online to your favorite food website for a recipe, a 40-year old cookbook can be intimidating. To avoid feeling overwhelmed while using Mastering the Art of French Cooking, I read the recipe I chose at least a dozen times. Feeling confident, I began with the filling for the Paupiettes du Boeuf (p. 318), which means braised stuffed beef rolls. I lovingly call this dish “meat stuffed meat.”

The stuffing of pork, veal, and herbs was a snap, after I visited most of the grocery stores in Milwaukee for ground veal. The next step was stuffing the pounded slices of beef, which seemed simple enough. However, when the rolls hit the heat, the meat shrank and the toothpicks I used to secure them were not holding; I should have used string as Julia had directed. My amazing husband Todd came to the rescue: he had asked a butcher for some string on the sly. He triumphantly handed it over, and we began to tie the remaining paupiettes. What a breeze they were to saut̩, and decidedly more attractive. The remaining steps were equally straightforward Рadd it all into the pan, and braise it at 325 degrees for about an hour and a half. Well. I am once again reminded that straightforward does not equal uncomplicated. I suppose this is the part where I confess: I do not use the oven very often, and it shows.

Once I put the pot into the oven to braise, I checked on it several times to baste the paupiettes. Each time the liquid seemed to be at more of a boil. This is where I went wrong, and why my paupiettes were dry. Julia Child (and likely author Julie Powell) would be so disappointed. I completely forgot a basic principle: if you boil meat it will become dry. And so it was with this dish. All I can say is that in an era where we retrieve recipes online, and can read the reviews of home cooks before us, using this book is something like a pop quiz. You had better know (and remember) your stuff before you set out – like “do not boil meat.”

Paupiettes du Boeuf

½ cup finely minced onions

1 tablespoon butter

6 ounces lean ground pork

6 ounces lean ground veal

3 ounces fresh pork fat, minced fine

1 clove garlic, mashed

1/8 teaspoon dried thyme

Pinch of allspice

Big pinch of pepper

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ cup chopped parsley

1 egg

2 ½ pounds lean beef (top round or chuck), cut into 18 cross-grain slices ¼ inch thick and 3 inches in diameter

Salt and pepper

2 to 4 tablespoons rendered pork fat or good cooking oil

½ cup sliced carrots

½ cup sliced onions

3 tablespoons flour

1 cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth

1 ½ cups brown stock or canned beef bouillon

1 (4-inch) square of fresh pork rind, bacon rind or salt-pork rind, simmered 10 minutes in a quart of water, then drained

1 large herb bouquet (6 parsley sprigs, 1 bay leaf and ½ teaspoon dried thyme) plus 2 cloves garlic tied together in cheesecloth

1 tablespoon prepared Dijon mustard

1/3 cup whipping cream

Parsley sprigs

Needed equipment: 3-quart mixing bowl, wooden spoon, white string, a heavy fireproof casserole about 10 inches in diameter and 2½ to 3 inches deep, bulb baster, wire whip.

Cook onions slowly in butter 7 to 8 minutes, until they are tender, but not browned. Scrape into mixing bowl.

Add pork, veal, pork fat, garlic, thyme, allspice, pepper, the ¼ teaspoon salt, the chopped parsley and egg. Beat vigorously with wooden spoon until thoroughly mixed.

Flatten each slice of beef to a thickness of 1/8 inch by pounding between two sheets of wax paper with a wooden mallet or rolling pin. Lay meat flat on a board and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

Divide the meat stuffing into 18 portions and place one on the lower third of each slice. Roll meat around stuffing to form cylinders about 4 inches long and 1½ inches thick. Secure each with 2 ties of string. Dry with paper towels.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Heat rendered pork fat or oil in heavy casserole until almost smoking. Brown paupiettes lightly, a few at a time, and remove to a side dish. Reduce heat to medium and brown vegetables slowly 4 to 5 minutes, stirring. Then add flour and brown it slowly 2 to 3 minutes. Remove casserole from heat and immediately beat in wine, then stock or bouillon.

Lay rind in bottom of casserole. Place paupiettes over it, and add more stock or bouillon, or water, if necessary to the liquid so paupiettes are barely covered. Add herb bouquet.

Bring to a simmer on top of stove. Cover casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate the heat so the paupiettes simmer very slowly 1½ hours. Baste them two or three times with liquid in casserole.

Remove paupiettes to a side dish and cut off trussing strings. Strain cooking liquid into a saucepan and degrease thoroughly. Boil down sauce if necessary, to concentrate its flavor. You should have 1½ to 2 cups thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. Correct seasoning.

Off heat, beat mustard and cream into sauce. Simmer 1 minute. Rearrange paupiettes in casserole or a fireproof serving dish, and pour sauce over them.

(Recipe may be prepared in advance to this point. Film top of sauce with a spoonful of stock or melted butter. When cold, cover and refrigerate.)

About 10 minutes before serving, reheat barely to a simmer on top of stove. Cover and simmer slowly 5 minutes or so, basting paupiettes frequently with sauce. Serve from the casserole, or arrange paupiettes on a platter, spoon sauce over them and surround with rice or noodles. Decorate with parsley sprigs.


P.S. I finally found the ground veal at Sendick's.