Thursday, August 28, 2014

Creamy Artichoke and Spinach Dip with Roasted Garlic and Asiago Cheese

Labor day is almost upon us! That American 3 day weekend that sort of symbolizes Summer's last hurrah. There are lots of Sunday and Monday barbecues this coming weekend, which inspired me to post a dip recipe I've had on the back burner (so to speak) for a while now. This is my version of a classic: spinach, artichoke, cheese and garlic dip. Of course classics are classic for a reason.

This is perfect to bring to a party, or to serve at your own! It's rich but not too decadent and best of all it is vegetarian! It's fairly easy to prepare, which is an additional bonus! The only potentially difficult thing is to roast your own garlic, but it's something I highly recommend, as it will really kick up the flavor of the dip! To roast the garlic preheat the oven to 400 and coat the inside of one muffin mold in a tin. Chop the tips off the head of garlic just enough that all of the clove tops are exposed, then brush the tops with olive oil. Put the garlic in the greased muffin mold, cover with tin foil and roast for 35 - 45 minutes, or until the garlic is squishy when prodded.

The pictures in the post are of the vessel it was cooked and served in: my Aunt Stacy's fabulous wedding gift, a hand thrown and glazed clay casserole dish! I thought it too lovely not to share. :)

Creamy Artichoke and Spinach Dip

Makes about 1 lb of dip

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 cloves roasted or 3 cloves raw garlic
8 ounces chopped steamed spinach, excess water squeezed out
8 ounces preserved artichoke hearts, drained
4 ounces finely grated asiago cheese
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. Separate the artichoke hearts' leaves from the hearts and set the hearts aside.
3. Toss the artichoke leaves into a blender or food processor with the softened cream cheese, spinach and garlic. Pulse in 3 second intervals until the mixture is smooth. You may have to scrape down the sides once or twice to get it to blend smoothly.
4. Transfer to your baking dish and fold in 3/4 of the grated asiago.
5. Mince the artichoke hearts and sprinkle over top. Top with the remaining cheese and bake for 10-20 minutes, checking every 10 minutes, until the cheese starts to turn golden.
Serve alongside chip or cracker of choice.

I hope enjoyed you this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Miso Brown Butter Cod en Papillote with Citrus and Haricot Verts

The inspiration for this dish came from a misunderstanding. Some time ago I attended a going away dinner at a Japanese Barbecue (yakiniku) restaurant. I had never tried yakiniku, although I've had the very similar Korean Barbecue many times. Late into the dinner came a number of foil wrapped packets. After cooking them over the coals for a few minutes, the packets were torn open to reveal flaky white-fleshed fish in a heavenly smelling burgandy colored sauce. The sauce was slightly sweet, sharply salty; it was wonderfully umami. I had to know what it was. Miso butter fish, was the reply I thought I heard in the crowded, popular restaurant and it set me to dreaming about mixing brown butter and miso to create my own version. As it turned out I misheard the name of the dish: it was actually miso and butterfish, a type of fish I'd never heard of.

Still, the combination got my creative juices flowing, and I decided to try the combination as part of a sauce for an en papillote (in a parchment envelope) preparation. Typically en papillote includes a vibrant green vegetable, and haricot verts immediately sprung to mind, as did grapefruit to complete the flavor profile. I added some mirin caramelized shallots and black pepper and I had a really delicious sauce. I served this with some miso mashed potatoes and it was delicious. And it was pretty easy to prepare. The filets are pictured with several slices of grapefruit, however to get the best flavor I recommend one.

Miso Brown Butter Cod en Papillote with Red Grapefruit and Haricot Verts

Serves 2

1 shallot, diced
2 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons mirin (rice wine)
1/4 Teaspoon sesame oil
2 Tablespoons red or yellow miso
Juice of 1/2 red grapefruit
2 large slices red grapefruit
3 ounces haricot vert, cleaned and trimmed
2 filet of cod, each weighing about 5 - 6 ounces
Black Pepper, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 375, then make the sauce: melt butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Allow to darken slightly, then add shallots and sesame oil. Sautee over medium heat until shallots are caramelized. Add mirin to pan to deglaze and add pepper. Cook for 1 - 2 minutes more, then remove pan from heat. Add grapefruit juice, miso, 1/4 cup water and stir to dissolve miso. Set sauce aside.

2. Cut a large piece of parchment and lay cod in the center ladle sauce over fish to cover. Top fish with a single layer of green beans, then ladle a little more sauce over. Top with 1 slice ruby grapefruit.

3. Fold into an envelope: Hold the parchment on either side of the filet (it should lay in the center of the square of parchment) and join them together over top of the filet. Fold edges down toward fish approximately 1/2" and repeat 3 or so times to seal top of packet. Next, fold over the corners above the filet on either side to seal above the filet of fish and do the same to the corners below. As this is a difficult process to describe, I recommend looking up how to fold en papillote on youtube and looking at my photo for reference.

4. Bake for about 12 minutes, then plate up, crack open and enjoy. Serve with rice or starch of choice.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Cabernet Beef Stroganoff

Summer is upon us, and with the heat comes a hankering for lighter dishes. And yet this blog post is anything but; traditionally stewed beef smothered in a rich sauce made with tangy sour cream and meaty mushrooms, Beef Stroganoff is much more cold weather comfort than light summer fare. Where then, did the inspiration for this dish come from? Well, I wanted to contribute something of my culture on the blog, finally, and since my family on one side hails from Russia and Eastern Europe. I knew I had a few options. Borscht might have been the more summery choice, but I knew I could truly contribute something delicious with this boozy modern version of Beef Stroganoff. My version of this recipe includes a mushroom stock and red wine, as well as roasted mushrooms. My main beef with most mushroom dishes is that they just don't taste enough of mushroom; I wanted to make my Stroganoff as mushroomy as possible. Because the mushroom stock took hours I would suggest making the mushroom stock a weekend or perhaps a make ahead project, as my recipe made several times what I needed for the Stroganoff and it freezes very well in my ice cube trays, ready for my next mushroom recipe to give it a little boost. The mushroom stock is optional and can be replaced ounce for ounce by low sodium beef stock. The mushrooms can be roasted in advance, up to a day ahead. My suggestion is to not skip roasting the mushrooms, as this really gave the sauce and mushrooms a fabulous depth of flavor.

We enjoyed our Stroganoff over Pappardelle Noodles, but it would be equally delicious over gnocchi, mashed potatoes, or any other starch.

Cabernet Beef Stroganoff

Serves about 6

For the Mushroom Stock:

10 ounces mushrooms
3 stalks celery
1 small yellow onion
2 large carrots
1 shallot
2 - 3 outer leek leaves (I pulled these from my freezer bag filling up with veggie trimmings for vegetable stock)
1/2 dried chili pepper, seeds removed and ribs scraped out
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
2 Tablespoons olive oil

1. Roughly chop all ingredients, then sautee them in olive oil over a medium flame until tender, about 5 minutes.
2. Add 12 cups of water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to allow stock to simmer for 2 - 3 hours, or until liquid have been reduced by about half.

For the Beef Stroganoff:

1 1/2 lb. round or top roast, cut into 1" x 1 1/2" strips
1 cup to 1 1/4 cup mushroom stock or beef stock
1/2 cup sour cream
1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 shallot, diced
1/4 cup sherry
1/2 cup cabernet
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon thyme leaves
16 ounces mushroom caps, roasted, then quartered*
4 Tblsp butter
2 1/2 Tblsp + 1/2 Teasp Olive Oil
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

This will make enough to cover about 1 lb of pasta noodles. I recommend a wide or chunky noodle.

1. If you are not starting out with pre-roasted mushrooms, get them into a preheated oven. Otherwise start with the next step.

2. In a saucepan over low heat, melt one Tblsp butter and add 1/2 Teasp olive oil. Stir in shallots, turn the heat up to medium and allow to caramelize for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in sherry to deglaze and get all those fabulous sugars up. Stir/scrape, then remove shallots from pan and set aside.

3. Turn the heat back down to low and form a roux: melt the remaining butter, then whisk in flour. Cook 2-5 minutes, until flour becomes a little bit darker.

4. Using the whisk to incorporate, add in 1/4 cup wine, thyme the stock and the tomato paste. Time to season! Add in salt and pepper to taste.
When the mixture forms a smooth gravy, remove pan from heat and set aside.

5. Put your pasta water up to boil and in a separate pan sear off the steak strips: bring the pan up to medium high heat and add the olive oil; when the olive oil is hot, add the steak pieces in a single layer. You will probably have to make two batches. No matter; line your cookie sheet with foil and allow the first batch to rest while you're making the second. To get rare steak sear the outsides on all sides for 1-2 minutes, or until browned. 3 minutes per side will produce something more like a medium steak.

6. Remember to add the pasta to the boiling water (and also stir occasionally) in the midst of all this searing! You may also have to drain it before you're done searing the steak if it finishes cooking before that time.

7. As your last batch of steak finishes searing, turn the heat on under your roux mixture. Re-introduce shallots and add in mushrooms.
Put the last of the steak aside to rest. Pour the excess oil from the steak pan. Deglaze with the remaining 1/4 cup of red wine and whisk red wine into sauce. Add sour cream to sauce and when it is just warmed through, remove from heat.
You are now ready to serve! Heap steak over your favorite starch and then sauce and enjoy!

*To roast mushrooms, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and lay in a single layer on a greased cookie sheet; roast at 425 for about 30 minutes