Monday, December 21, 2009

Cabin Fever?

Have to admit that I wasn't familiar at all with the expression cabin fever when a friend of mine mentioned it Saturday night while we were chatting on Yahoo . . . well, don't blame me, after all, this is only the second time—since I've been living here in the States—that I got "snowed in" and had to stay confined indoors!  For the most part, I spent the long weekend taking naps, cooking, watching movies and cooking shows.  Got to watch Disney's "Ratatouille" again and loved it just like the first time!

OK . . . let's "dig out" some of my old favorite recipes and post them here . . . :)

Blushing She Crab Soup with a Twist

Recipe courtesy Andreann Geise, Myrtle Beach, SC
Show: Ultimate Recipe Showdown
Episode: Ultimate Recipe Showdown: Hometown Favorites

Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 15 min
Level: Intermediate
Serves: 6 servings

1 1/4 pounds extra-sweet grape tomatoes, divided
1/2 cup olive oil
2 small sweet banana peppers, seeded and quartered
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup chopped red onion
1 teaspoon natural brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper, divided
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2/3 cup chicken broth
12 ounces vegetable juice (recommended: V-8)
1 egg
1 small lemon, juiced (about 1/4 cup)
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
6 tablespoons sweet cream salted butter
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/8 teaspoon crab boil seasoning (recommended: Old Bay)
2/3 cup high quality cream sherry (sweet)
1/2 teaspoon crab base
1 cup fresh lump blue crabmeat (steamed or boiled)
1/2 cup good quality grated Parmesan
2 teaspoons red lump fish caviar, rinsed and strained


Preheat oven to 440 degrees F.

Halve 18 of the grape tomatoes. In a baking dish pour in 1/4 cup olive oil. To that add banana peppers, and 1/2 of the tomatoes. Mix to coat all with oil. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bake uncovered (ideally in convection oven) until they start to brown (about 15 minutes).

In a pot heat 1/4 cup olive oil and add 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, natural brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, 1/4 teaspoon course ground black pepper. Stir over high heat. Add the remaining whole tomatoes and continue to mix until the tomato skins start to peal (about 4 minutes). Pour entire contents of this pot into a blender. To this add cilantro, the roasted tomato mixture and chicken broth. Blend until fairly smooth (about 15 to 20 seconds).

Pour entire contents into pot, add 6 ounces of vegetable juice, bring almost to a boil and reduce to a simmer.

In a medium mixing bowl beat egg until it produces a light foam and beat in the lemon juice. To this add the remaining 6 ounces vegetable juice and beat again. Slowly mix in 1 cup of the hot soup. Take soup off the heat and slowly mix this mixture into the soup. Add 2 tablespoons heavy cream and stir over medium heat until it starts to bubble. Remove from heat.

In a skillet add 6 tablespoons butter, melt butter over medium heat, add 2/3 cup of finely chopped red onion and garlic. Sauté for about a minute and then add 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper and 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper. Continue sautéing until the onions are soft and translucent. Then add crab boil seasoning and cream sherry. Turn heat up until mixture comes to a bubble then lower to medium heat and stir until it starts thickening to almost a light syrup consistency. Once it has thickened add crab base and make sure it is incorporated well. Then add 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream stir over medium to high heat until it starts to bubble. Then add 1 cup of crabmeat and mix well, once it comes to a bubble again remove from heat.For each serving:
Add 1/2 cup of the tomato soup to bowl, to this add 2/3 cup of the crab soup, 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan. And 1/4 teaspoon of the red lump fish caviar and mix well. Float a tablespoon of the crab soup in center. Grate some more Parmesan on top. Add freshly ground black pepper, to taste, and serve. I like to garnish with blue crab claws sautéed in butter and cream sherry and or some caviar. When in season I like to use fresh crab roe.

Chicken Piccata is one of those dishes that I'm always looking forward to savor when it's on the menu at the cafeteria at work.  It also falls in the "simple and delicious" category. 

Chicken PiccataRecipe courtesy Giada De Laurentis
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and then cut in half
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour, for dredging
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess. In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook for 3 minutes. When chicken is browned, flip and cook other side for 3 minutes. Remove and transfer to plate. Melt 2 more tablespoons butter and add another 2 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add the other 2 pieces of chicken and brown both sides in same manner. Remove pan from heat and add chicken to the plate.

Into the pan add the lemon juice, stock and capers. Return to stove and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan for extra flavor. Check for seasoning. Return all the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove chicken to platter. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to sauce and whisk vigorously. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley.


Ten-Minute Roasted Leek and Gruyere Soufflé
Adapted from Joanne Weir's More Cooking in the Wine Country
(Simon & Schuster, 2001)

Get your guests to the table and then serve them this ingenious soufflé that bakes in ten minutes rather than the customary sixty! We used to make a soufflé like this at Chez Panisse and it really is amazing, especially when it's baked in a beautiful oval ovenproof platter, such as one of the French porcelain platters that are widely available in this country. It makes a great main course with a salad-or it can be a first course.2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 leeks, white and 2 inches green part, cut into ¼-inch dice
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2½ cups half-and-half
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 eggs, separated, room temperature
1 cup (4 ounces) grated Gruyere cheese
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeseWarm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the leeks, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are soft and just starting to turn lightly golden, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.Pour the half-and-half into a saucepan and bring it almost to the boiling point. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk 1 to 2 minutes. Add the scalded half-and-half to the flour mixture, stirring rapidly with a whisk. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the sauce is smooth and thick. Add salt and pepper to taste.Add the egg yolks to the cream sauce, one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Add the Gruyere, 1/2 cup of the Parmigiano, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the cooled leeks to the cream sauce. Mix Well.Preheat the oven to 450ºF.  While the oven is heating, place the egg whites in a clean bowl and beat until they form stiff peaks. Fold half of the whites into the cheese mixture with as few strokes as possible. Then fold in the remaining whites. Pour the mixture onto a generously buttered 18-inch oval ovenproof dish (or two 12-inch ovals). Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/2 cup Parmigiano. Bake on the top shelf of the oven until puffed and well browned, 10 to 14 minutes. Serves 8.

Wine suggestion: Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon

Jamie Oliver Asparagus Tart Recipe "Although it's possible to love eating without being able to cook, I don't believe you can ever really cook unless you love eating." Nigella Lawson

500g potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
500g asparagus spears, woody ends removed
200g filo pastry
100g butter, melted
100g freshy grated Lancashire cheese
100g freshly grated cheddar cheese
3 large organic or free range eggs
285ml double cream
1/2 a nutmeg

Boil potatoes in salted water for 15 minutes.
Blanch asparagus in boiling water for 4 minutes - drain.
Preheat oven to 190C.

Place a layer of filo pastry into a rectangular baking dish (Jamie used one with a removable base) - it looked about the size of a lamington tin to me (perhaps with slightly higher sides). Let the filo hang about 1" over the sides.

Brush with melted butter and lay another piece of filo over. Repeat until you have 5 sheets of filo in the dish. Cover with a damp tea-towel while you do the filling.

Drain the potatoes and put them into a big bowl along with the cheeses and mash, using a potato masher. Mix together the eggs and the cream, then stir that into the mashed potato. Grate in the nutmeg - (or you could just sprinkle in some ground nutmeg) - and season well with salt and pepper. Spoon the potato into the pastry case then scrunch up the overhanging bits of pastry to make a rim.

Now lay the asparagus lengthwise along the tart, making sure the top is all covered. (Jamie placed the asparagus spears about 1/4" apart - one with the tip at one end, and the next with the tip at the other end). Brush all over with remaining melted butter and bake on the bottom shelf of the oven for about 20 minutes or until crisp and golden. Rest for 10 - 20 minutes before serving. Serve with a salad.


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