Monthly Archives: April 2012

Ancho and Brown Sugar Crusted Smoked Corned Beef

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I made one of these for St. Patricks Day, but there were no leftovers! And I am a woman that loves a good Ruben Sandwich. So when I noticed that the corned beefs were on sale , I just had to buy another. I have a Digital Bradley Smoker which is one of my favorite pieces of cooking equipment. This is my second one, my first one was not digital, I bought it 12 years ago before they came out with the digital model. But you can do this with any smoker that does not place the food directly above the heat.

Make your rub:

2/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup dried Ancho chile powder

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon crushed black pepper

1 tablespoon mustard seeds slightly crushed

1 Tablespoon fennel slightly crushed

Open your package of corned beef (or of course you can make your own easily, but that is another post) Pour the juice from the package into a dutch oven and reserve.

Apply the rub to the meat and place in smoker on low heat  for 4 hours.

Place the meat in the dutch oven and add 1 onion sliced and one pound of carrots cut up. Add liquid (beer or water) till it almost touches the top of the corned beef.

Bake at 350 for two hours.

Remove and let rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes. Slice and plate. I like to serve this with Champ (mashed potatoes with cream and chives).

Next comes the Rubens for tonight’s dinner!

Avgolemono Soup (Greek Egg and Meyer Lemon Soup with Rice)

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In just 30 minutes you can whip this amazingly flavorful soup up. It is good hot or chilled. I served it with Spanakopita (click for the recipe).

INGREDIENTS 

3 cups chicken stock (homemade preferred) if you are using box stock or broth, simmer it down and reduce it by half (this means you need twice as much)

1/4 cup rice or orzo (optional, but I like it)

4 egg yolks

2 egg whites

Freshly squeezed juice of 4 Meyer lemons (if using another type of lemon, use one less)

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons minced dill, mint, chives or fennel

Lemon zest from one lemon

One thin lemon slice for each serving

METHOD

  • Add rice or orzo to the chicken stock, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer till rice (20 minutes) or pasta (10 minutes) is cooked once cooked add 1/2 of the lemon juice
  • Put egg whites in a container to be whipped (I use a stick blender with a whip attachment, but you can use a food processor or hand mixer to whip the whites)
  • Place yolks in a mixing bowl
  • Whisk 1/2 cup of the hot chicken stock/rice into yolks until well blended, then add the remaining stock/rice mixture stirring till blended
  • Whip the egg whites until soft peaks form
  • Marry 1/2 cup of the stock/rice/yolk mixture to the egg whites, then fold that mixture into the stock/rice/yolk being careful not to deflate.
  • Taste for salt and lemon juice, adding more as needed. Ladle into warm bowls (or allow to chill and serve in stemmed glasses), sprinkle with herbs and lemon zest and add one lemon slice.

    Yield: 4 to 6 servings. This does keep well in a covered container, but should be used in 1-2 days and be very careful when re-heating not to allow it to boil.

Week Night Dinner: Chicken Piccata

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So easy, so delicious and made with just a few simple ingredients. I served it with pasta as the extra sauce goes perfectly with it. We had a salad as a final course. I buy boneless breasts on sale and freeze. I  always have  lemons and capers on hand. and of course you can do this with veal or pork cutlets too.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • fresh cracked pepper ~ or Lemon Garlic Pepper
  • crushed red pepper to taste
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 dry white wine or dry vermouth
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice (I used Meyer)
  • 1/2 cup brined capers
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley

METHOD

  • Put the chicken breasts between two pieces of waxed paper and pound them with a meat hammer to about 1/4-inch thickness. Cut them up into pieces a little smaller than the palm of your hand.
  • Put the cheese and a bit of parsley into a mini processor and process till the cheese is about the size of couscous.
  • Mix together  flour, salt, peppers, and grated Parmesan.  Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture, until well coated. *Note some people like a thicker coating, if you do dredge in plain flour first, then in an egg wash and finally in the cheese and flour mixture. I like mine lightly breaded.
  •  Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add half of the chicken pieces, do not crowd the pan. Brown well on each side, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the pan and reserve to an oven proof pan. Place in a warming drawer or a 300 degree oven. Cook the remaining chicken pieces,  remove from pan. Keep warm in the oven while you prepare the sauce.
  • On medium/low heat. Add the wine & lemon juice to the pan and stir to deglaze and loosen. Add capers to the pan. Reduce the sauce by half.
  • Plate the chicken and serve with the sauce poured over the chicken. Garnish with remaining parsley. Use extra sauce on pasta and toss.
  • If you have left over breading, you can toast it on a silpat and use it as a topping for other things.

Ham Haystack

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This is a delicious way to use leftover ham, or an excuse to buy a ham just for the leftovers. The recipe originates from Mareen Priviet, a South African friend of mine who presented this very tasty appetizer at a dinner party in Chicago many years ago. Because of the ingredients I suspect that it comes from the 1950’s. I have always loved the interesting taste, the surprise of crunch and the fact that almost everyone who tastes this loves it. This makes enough to serve to 20 people, so if you have leftovers you can stir it all together to make a deviled ham sort of sandwich spread. I added a few things to the basic recipe, but it is so very good just the way it is. The original recipe calls for Miracle Whip, something I have never been able to stomach, so I use good mayo with some Meyer lemon juice.  The most important flavor profile comes from Branston Pickle, a chutney like pickle from the UK. You can find it on the mainland in some stores that have a British food section. You can also order it online. The taste is extremely unique and I would not attempt this recipe until you have your hands on a jar of the REAL Branston Pickle. Branston Pickle is made from a variety of diced vegetables, including swede, carrots, onions, cauliflower and gherkins pickled in a sauce made from vinegar, tomato, apple and dates with spices such as mustard,coriander, garlic, cinnamon, pepper, cloves, nutmeg and cayenne pepper with sugar. Having said all of that, you really must get some Branston Pickle and go for it. Here is a recipe to make your own Branston Pickle, but it is not that difficult to find the original. The finished product resembles a haystack, hence the name. I promise you, EVERYONE loves this and will ask you for the recipe!

Ham Haystack

Ingredients: 

6  cups ham, in medium chunnks                        two 8 oz. pkgs. cream cheese

1 1/3 cups mayonaise                                              3 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice (you can use other lemons, I just love Meyers)

2/3 cup sliced green onion                                    1/4 cup finely chopped mint

1 jar of Branston pickle relish                                1 cup blanched, slivered almonds

Method: 

  • Toast the slivered almonds on a silpat at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes watching closely, till golden brown.
  • Stir the lemon juice into the mayonnaise
  • Chop the ham in a food processor till it is finely chopped
  • Combine ham with 8oz. of the cream cheese, 2/3 cup of the mayonaise, 1/2 cup slivered almonds (chop before adding), onion, mint & pickle relish.  Mix well.  Chill.
  • Shape into a cone-shaped mound.
  • Combine remaining mayonaise & remaining cream cheese and mix well (i used a food processor)
  • Frost mound with this mixture.
  • Chill slightly.
  • Cover with toasted, slivered almonds.
  • Serve with crackers or party rye bread.

Remember if there are leftovers, you can stir it all together and make a ham salad sandwich with the rest!

You may even get to see a cute bunny if you make this at Easter

Shrimp and Pumpkin Curry

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Based on a Thai Pumpkin Curry that I make, this silken & spicy dish definitely qualifies as SASSY in my book. It is easy to make, healthy and makes great leftovers. I steamed some Jasmine Rice with a few Kaffir Lime leaves and made my own sassy version of cucumber salad (recipe to follow on the next blog post.) I used the Japanese Kabocha  pumpkin that is abundant year round in Hawaii, but you could use any tender squash or pumpkin. Kabocha is sweeter and more tender than most and you can even eat the skin. It cooks rather quickly as do the shrimp, which makes this a prime recipe to whip up on a week night. The splash of cognac adds another dimension of flavor.

Garlic Man is the mascot for The Sassy Spoon! He will be featured somewhere in every post!

Ingedients: 

1 Kabocha Pumpkin cut in to 1″ squares

2 tablespoons curry paste (You can choose any style of curry paste, I have used yellow, green and red with this before. This time I used red).

2 cans of coconut milk

6-8 fresh kaffir lime leaves (there is no real substitute for this, but you can use lime zest).

1/2 pound of large raw shrimp (I used 18-21 per #)

2 tablespoons palm sugar (or dark brown sugar)

2 Tablespoons coconut oil

8 cloves fresh garlic finely minced

4-6 Shitake mushrooms, sliced thickly

splash of cognac (My “splash” is generous, about a jigger full)

Chopped cilantro for finishing

Method: 

In a large hot wok put a large spoon full of the cream from the coconut milk and stir in the curry paste, allow the paste to warm up completely, then pour in one can of the coconut milk & the kaffir leaves, stirring constantly as it thickens.

Add pumpkin and cook for 10 minutes, add the second can of coconut milk and the sugar. Check pumpkin to see if it is cooked thoroughly, be careful not to over cook it or the pumpkin will be mushy. Turn off the heat.

In another pan add the coconut oil, shrimp and mushroom slices. Saute till the shrimp turns pink, about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and slightly brown it.

Add a splash of cognac and cook for 30 seconds more. Add all of this into the wok, turn the heat back up and simmer for a minute, then sprinkle with cilantro and serve over rice.

Candied Prosecco Poached Pears Filled with Brie and Wrapped in Bacon

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This recipe came about, as many do, with an inspiration from another cook. My friend Caterina Borg who has the fabulous food blog Good Food Gourmet. She made this post back in October about poached pears stuffed with Brie. She was inspired by another food blog Palachinka. Here is Palachinka’s original post with a different spin on the theme. Palachinka’s post was inspired by a recipe in Sale&Pepe magazine, Serbian issue for December 2009.

I had planned to make this as an appetizer, but could not find small pears, so I made it as a first course, served in bowls with a reduction of the poaching liquid spooned over. This would also go great on some lightly dressed greens.

My spin was of course quite different, from the poaching liquid to the finish, and yet all three of our dishes have the same basic components, pears, cheese and bacon. What is not to love? Here is my version of the concept which dazzled my dinner guests last night:

Ingredients: 

6 pears

Enough wine to cover 6 pears in a pot (2-3 bottles). I used prosecco, but you could use any wine you like. Port is great for this as would be a merlot. Each with their own distinctions.

Aromatics: I used fennel, pink pepper corns, thyme, cinnamon sticks, big slices of orange peel and cloves. Star anise would be nice this too.

A small wheel of Brie Cheese (You will have leftover cheese.)

12-14 slices of bacon

1 1 /2 cups brown sugar mixed with 2 teaspoons of  Chipotle powder

Method:

  •  Peel pears and place in a large pan so that they are in a single layer.
  • Cover with wine and add aromatics
  • Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, remove pears to another bowl for cooling.
  • Turn the burner up to a rolling simmer and reduce the poaching liquid by half.
  • When pears are cool, cut in half, scoop out the center with a melon baller and fill the cavities with peeled brie, then put back together.
  • Wrap each pear with 2 slices of bacon, if you have a really large pear, you might need three slices. Hold together with toothpicks.
  • Roll the pears in the seasoned brown sugar
  • Place standing up on a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, or until the bacon is crispy.
  • Place each pear in a bowl, mine were laying down, but you could place them standing up too.  Spoon the remaining poaching liquid with the aromatics over each pear. Serve with a sharp knife so the bacon is easily cut through.