I live to eat and love to cook. Welcome to my life!

September 19, 2010

Messing things up and making them right again

You already know I am not a rookie or first timer in the kitchen....That I have the experience and know how to make fabulous meals for myself or for a crowd. I can make simple food or over the top crazy food and I can bake like a Mo-fo or put up 5 gallons of tomatoes in cans for the winter.

But even I make mistakes. Examples as follows.....

  • Burning Caramel Sauce because I was signing invoices. More than once.

  • Forgetting to add water to steamed vegetables because I was making homemade puff pastry for Beef Wellington. Oops.

  • Reversing the measurements for salt & sugar in scones because I was rushing to get all my assignments completed before break. Yum!

  • Burning 5 sheet pans of bacon because it was 5am and I was quite possibly still inebriated from the night before. Crap.
And there are many many more....my point is that any time any of us effs up in the kitchen there is always an excuse. I was distracted, tired, rushed, drunk, not paying attention or any number of other fun reasons.

The crummy part about tonight is that I was REALLY looking forward to my dinner and I effed it all up.

Thanks to some help from Zack. An ex-boyfriend and old friend from a gazillion years ago who I was happily catching up with while sauteing, stirring and pan frying my dinner.

Yep, sorry buddy, I am sharing the blame with you just a little because I was too busy chatting with you on FB to double check my sand dabs before pan frying them. So they got fried with their organs still in them. Note to self....don't believe the fish guy when he tells you they are "ready to cook".

Blech. Seriously Blech. In the trash and out the door...as fast as possible so I didn't barf.

But on a positive note I still got to enjoy my fabulous sweet corn risotto cake and sauteed spinach for dinner because I did watch out for those, thank you very much! And had about a three hour chat session with someone who I really needed to talk to.

I'll share the corn risotto cakes because they were the star of my dinner tonight. I made the risotto a couple of nights ago for my lovely girlz who came over for food and wine therapy. That night they were paired with seafood and truffle oil (fabulous!) and I made an overabundance of the risotto so I set some of it aside without the seafood and oil for future use. And damn if they werent twice as good with a crispy crust.

Sweet Corn Risotto

2 Shallots, Chopped
1 T Olive Oil
12 oz Arborio Rice
1/2 Cup White Wine
2 Ears White Corn
4 Cups Corn Stock*
1 T Fresh Thyme Leaves
Salt & Pepper to taste
2/3 C Parmesan Cheese

*To make corn stock, shave off kernels of corn in to a bowl and then scrape the cobs with the back of a knife to get all the juice and pulp left in the cob. Add the corn kernels and pulp and juice to 6 cups water and boil until it is about 4 cups in volume. Add salt to taste.

Saute the shallot in olive oil until soft and add rice. Stir for about 5 minutes or until opaque. Add wine and stir until all wine is absorbed. Add the corn stock about 1 cup at a time stirring constantly. When adding the last cup of stock, add the thyme leaves. Stir until rice is tender, if you need to add more liquid, use water or chicken stock. Add cheese at the last minute.

If you want to add a protein, this is the time to do it....sauteed shrimp, scallops & calamari is what we opted for with just a drizzle of truffle oil. You could do chicken as well or add mushrooms for an earthy flavor.

For the Risotto cakes, start with cooled risotto, best if refrigerated. Melt a little butter in a nonstick skillet. Shape risotto into a cake about 3/4" thick. Pan fry on both sides over medium heat until crispy. The might fall apart a little, just nudge it back together....it'll hold. :)

Just like I found out tonight that some things, no matter how far apart they have fallen, can come back together and hold.

September 12, 2010

An unexpected treat

One of the best things about traveling is eating new things....a trip to any spot outside my hometown requires trying everything new, unique and indigenous to wherever it is I am at. When I think of a place I have been there is always a food memory linked with it. My mom shares this trait with me, or more likely I inherited it from her.

We have a dear family friend, Rosie....who is not only fabulous beyond words, but also a travel agent and puts together the most amazing "girls trips" that involve some of the best adventures on the planet and Mom has gotten to join her multiple times to experience Heli-hiking in the Canadian Rockies, exploring Greece with the next best thing to a native and one of my moms best trips, a trip to Tuscany to stay in a 1000 year old Castello to stay with an Italian chef at a cooking school.

Unsurprisingly she brought home numerous stories and memories, and of course all of the cookbooks the school had to offer with recipes from their stay along with the Chef's own signature cookbook and memoir.

One of our absolute favorite treats that she brought home is a very unexpected combination of flavors, perfect for pairing with your first cocktail, glass of wine or even better yet, champagne or dry sparkling wine.

If you are not a "fish person" you might want to stop right here and call it a day. But if you like salt and you like fish...read on and give these a go because they are absolutely delicious and are inhaled within moments of coming out of the frying pan.

First you go pick an even number of sage leaves, make sure they somewhat pair up as you will be making a sandwich of them. The filling?

Anchovy Paste.

Correct, the fishy, salty, briny and full of the sea flavor fishes that find themselves relegated to a hidden shelf in the grocery store, kept off of pizza and snuck in to your Caesar salad.

I kid you not, this is a winner. The combo of the earthy sage pops and the salty fish is tempered by a light batter of egg and flour.

I do love these little buggers. And tonight as Mom and I are hanging out at her house while Dad is up north catching fish and a buzz with his buddies, she decided it was time for one of Giancarlo's treats to whet our appetites.

Sage Fritters

12 Sage Leaves, rinsed & patted dry, 1/2" of the stem left on (its a handle!)
Anchovy Paste
1 Egg
A little water
Canola oil for frying

Spread a thin layer of anchovy paste on 1/2 of the leaves and then press the remaining leaves on those to make a "sandwich".

Beat the egg and add a touch of water and a few tablespoons of flour. Whisk until smooth. It should be the consistency of pancake batter, add more flour or water as needed.

Heat the oil until shimmering. Dip the fritters in the egg batter and fry until golden on both sides.

Drain on a paper towel and let them cool a moment before letting people inhale them. 

Like this. :)