Sunday, March 22, 2009
Being a fan of Barefoot Contessa, I was happy to receive latest book Back to Basics as a gift. When I got it yesterday, I immediately started to look through it for tonight's dinner. I like how each chapter starts with 10 Things- 10 no-cook things to serve for dessert, set a table like a pro, etc. The pictures are beautiful and every recipe looks DELICIOUS.
For my first 'back to basics' attempt, I made baked shrimp scampi. Looks pretty good, eh! I don't think I've had shrimp scampi before. At least, I wasn't aware of it.
Luckily, I already had all the ingredients (even 2 pounds of shrimp) so no trips to the grocery store were necessary. I was missing the fresh herbs (NOTE TO SELF: start an herb garden) but for some odd reason, I had their dry counterparts. For every tablespoon of fresh herbs, you can substitute with 1 teaspoon of dried herbs. Don't attempt this if you are worried about fat intake either... it's loaded with butter.
You'll need 2 pounds shrimp (peeled, deveined, and butterflied with tails left on), 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons dry white wine, salt and pepper, 1 1/2 sticks softened butter, 4 teaspoons/ cloves minced garlic (if you're like me, you add a little extra), 1/4 cup/ 4 minced shallots, 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves, 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 XL egg yolk, and 2/3 cup panko.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, combine the shrimp, olive oil, wine, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1 teaspoon of butter.
In another mixing bowl, combine the butter, garlic, shallots, parsley, rosemary, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, lemon juice, egg yolk, panko, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
In a baking dish, arrange the shrimp in a single layer cut side down with the tails curling up and toward the center of the dish. Pour any remaining marinade over the shrimp.
Spread the butter mixture evenly over the shrimp. Then bake for 10-13 minutes. I like the top browned so I placed it under the broiler for a couple minutes, too.
Here's the finished product. Doesn't look quite like Ina's but I'm sure it's because I didn't have the 14 inch dish the recipe called for. All in the same, it was amazing and I'll definitely have to do it again. With my Asian nature, I ate it with steamed white rice. I do that with almost everything.
Monday, March 9, 2009
Someone introduced me to the phenomena of aloe tea. She brought me a cup on one of the recent hot days we've had. It was so cool, refreshing, and light that I had to find out more about it. All I knew was that she got it from a Korean grocery store. Today, she brought me a jar and finally, I understood what I was drinking- honey aloe tea. It's so yummy that I want to consume it all.
It just takes 2 spoons to a cup (whatever that means) and mixed together. Teaspoons, tablespoons, 8 oz. cup, what? I just played around until I got it right.
If anyone knows how to make it from scratch, do share.
I made not just one, but two bolognese sauces yesterday. I found two recipes from two different books that were very different from each other. Call me crazy but I just couldn't choose. What if I picked the one that wasn't quite as good? That would be a catastrophe. So... I made both.
This one comes from The Best Recipe by Cooks Illustrated. I had a feeling that this would be the best recipe (funny ha ha... choice of words was not intentional). They spent almost two pages just explaining the process of how they even devised the bolognese.
You need 3 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons minced onion, 2 tablespoons minced carrot, 2 tablespoons minced celery, 3/4 pound of ground beef (or mixture of beef, veal, and pork), salt, 1 cup whole milk, 1 cup dry white wine, and 1 28oz can of whole tomatoes packed in juice (chopped fine). (Ignore the olive oil in the picture; my oversight that was too late to correct)
Heat 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and celery.
Sauteé for about 6 minutes.
Add ground meat and 1/2 teaspoon salt. As you crumble the meat, cook for about 3 minutes.
Add milk and bring to simmer for about 10-15 minutes.
Add wine and bring to simmer for 10-15 minutes (as the wine evaporates).
The next two shots are rather random. I posted once about this great can opener and I promised pictures of the next time I would use it so here they are. The can opener is amazing. The edges of the can are smooth and danger free.
Add tomatoes with their juice and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 3 hours (until the liquid has evaporated).
Here is the final product. The noodles are tossed with the remainder of the butter and topped with the sauce. We had it for an early dinner today.
VERDICT: My husband and I both enjoyed the bolognese from yesterday SO MUCH MORE. He felt the flavors were more cohesive and this one was too acidic. I have to agree. Try either and let me know what you think.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
I've been craving some bolognese so I decided today was a good day to make it myself (for the first time). I remember watching Martha Stewart and she was featuring "30 Things Everyone Should Know." One of them was to make a bolognese sauce. 2-3 years later and I finally decide to try it.
I wasn't very interested in trying her recipe because I need to use my cookbooks more. So... I looked in The Silver Spoon and The Best Recipe (among a few other books). Both the recipes were so different that I couldn't decide. Should I attempt the recipe from the classic Italian cookbook or the recipe from one of the "be all end all" magazines, Cook's Illustrated? Well, I decided to try to cook both tonight. Hopefully, one has to turn out right.
I started with The Silver Spoon. Out of the two recipes, it was the least complicated and took the least amount of time.
You need 3 tablespoons of butter, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped celery stalk, 1 chopped carrot, 9 ounces of ground beef, 1 tablespoon of concentrated tomato paste, and salt and pepper.
Heat the butter and olive oil in a pan. Add the onion, celery, carrot, and ground beef. Season with salt and pepper.
Mix well and cook over low heat for a few minutes until the vegetables soften and the meat browns.
Add the tomato paste (diluted with water) and mix well. Cover the pan and cook on low heat for 1 1/2 hours. You can add a little hot water if the sauce starts to dry out.
I decided to eat it with tagliatelle but you can also use timbales, fettuccini, or spaghetti noodles.
Here's the finished product. No, I do not usually garnish food that I cook but some green helps to make a prettier picture.
We enjoyed it for dinner tonight with some garlic bread. It was delicious. I think my husband liked it, too, because he had two helpings. I also made the recipe from The Best Recipe tonight but that will have to wait until tomorrow. It was still cooking when we were ready for dinner. The final verdict on the better bolognese to come.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Surprisingly, my husband suggested getting brunch today. Even though he didn't wake up until after noon, we still had plenty of time.
Since I knew we were having brunch for the past few days, I haven't been able to get Taverna out of my head. We had brunch there once and it was DELICIOUS. Before we left, I called about the wait and possible reservations. No reservations and a 45 minute wait. It's okay because it was worth it.
I had a bottomless bellini, we both had eggs benedict with crab meat, and we shared French toast with fresh fruit. I also noticed that some of the tables were being served focaccia bread so I inquired. They normally serve focaccia during lunch but our waiter was happy to get us some (as he did for other people). Damn... that was good bread.