Pho - Vietnamese Soup

Pho - Vietnamese Soup
One of our favorite dishes - Pho

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Grilled Salmon with Preserved Meyer Lemons

I've been researching recipes that use preserved Meyer lemons and this one fit the bill perfectly because I had just bought some fresh salmon.  The preserved Meyer lemon added a subtle, yet sweet taste of lemon.  I served this with some spinach and couscous and we had a lovely, healthy meal.  

For the leftover salmon I made Sara's salmon spread that we spread on 7 grain toast for breakfast the next morning.  This might have been the best salmon spread I've made yet.  Here's the link to Sara's recipe:

Sara's Salmon Spread

Grilled Salmon with Preserved Meyer Lemons:

1/4 preserved lemon, pulp discarded and peel minced (see Note)
1 small shallot, minced
1/4 cup chopped parsley
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
One 2-pound, center-cut salmon fillet with skin
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
8 large green olives, such as Cerignola, halved and pitted

Light a grill or heat a grill pan. In a bowl, mix the preserved lemon with the shallot, parsley and 1 tablespoon each of the oil and lemon juice. Using a knife, make 1-inch-deep slits in the salmon skin, 1 inch apart. Rub the preserved lemon mixture into the slits. Rub the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil all over the salmon, then drizzle the fish with the remaining 2 tablespoons of lemon juice; season with salt and white pepper.

Grill the salmon, skin side down, over moderate heat until the skin is lightly charred and crisp, 5 minutes. Turn the salmon and grill until just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Transfer the fish to a platter, skin side up. Scatter the olives over the fish. Cut the salmon crosswise into 6 pieces and serve.

The seasoned salmon can be refrigerated for up to 4 hours.
Preserved lemons are a Moroccan ingredient made from lemons that have been cured in lemon juice and salt. Look for them at specialty-food shops.

This recipe is courtesy of Food and Wine Magazine.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Cassidy's Art

Check out Cassidy's painting done with acrylic paints.  The girl has talent!!  =)

Spinach with Preserved Meyer Lemons

This was a phenomenal and fairly easy side dish that we served with a beautiful grilled salmon.  You could taste the roasted garlic first and then came the subtle, yet zesty lemon to compliment the spinach.  Avery said it's like a wonderful symphony of flavors and she was right.  This one was a hit with the family and will be added to our repertoire.  

The preserved lemon might change your mind about spinach if you're not a fan.  You can use the same cooking method with mustard greens, kale or any other cooking green.

This recipe is from Chef Michael Chiarello's cookbook "Bottega," named after his restaurant in Napa Valley.  It's my hope that we will get to have lunch there while we're in the wine country this week.

2 TBSP Kosher salt
6 lbs fresh spinach, stemmed and rinsed
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 TBSP garlic minced
Sea salt, preferably gray salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 TBSP minced Preserved Meyer Lemons
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or1/2 tsp Calabrian chile paste (optional)
Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon

Add the kosher salt to a pot with 1 1/2 gallons of water and bring to a boil over high heat. While the water heats prepare an ice bath, half ice and half water.  Add the spinach  to the boiling water and stir to make sure every leaf is Submerged.  When the water returns to a boil, cook for 4 minutes more.  Reserve about 1 cup of the water and then drain in a colander.  Press the excess water out with a ladle, and then transfer the spinach to the ice bath, pressing it under to stop the cooking.  Remove it from the ice bath and with your hands make a ball of the spinach and squeeeeeeze until you've made a spinach hardball.  Transfer the spinach ball to a cutting board and cut into 1/2-inch slices.  Pull apart with your hands.

Heat a large saute pan or skillet over high heat, add the olive oil, and saute the garlic until light brown.  Add the drained cooked spinach, taking care to squeeze out the water again before adding it to the pan.  Season with salt and pepper.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the spinach for 2 - 3 minutes, or until it's piping hot throughout.  Taste for salt and the preserved lemon and the red pepper flakes, if you want a spicy kick to your greens.  Toss.  Add a little of the reserved spinach water if you need to.  Squeeze the fresh lemon over the spinach, toss and serve.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Poule au Pot or Chicken in a Pot

This is a recipe Sara has passed along that uses preserved Meyer lemons, which I blogged about previously.  It's a nice rustic twist on the traditional chicken pot pie and this version is an authentic French classic.  After cooking it was black on the outside and we figured the dough was just to seal the pot and not edible, but once the pot was opened (not easy, you really do need a screwdriver) the dough inside was cooked to perfection.   This would be a great company dish, but keep in mind it's a little fatty and rich since the chicken has skin and it all cooks together.  The chicken turned out so tender and juicy with the melding of fresh herbs, tons of garlic and vegetables, with a slight hint of lemon and a beautiful crispy crust to top it all off...creating a comforting meal that made the house smell amazing.  

You have to have a dutch oven with lid for this dish to help create a good seal.  I used as much garlic as it calls for but I did remove the skins.  I used Jimmy's Food Market's ready-made pizza dough, which is the best there is in Dallas.  Serve with some country bread, which is good for spreading with the sweet garlic and dunking into the savory cooking broth.  This one pot meal was so unique and delicious, I look forward to making this again soon.

This recipe is courtesy of the Wall Street Journal. The source is Dorie Greenspan (a cookbook author based in New York), WSJ, Dec. 4-5, 2010.

1/2  preserved lemon
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
5 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
2  large sweet potatoes, cut into 8 same-sized pieces

16  small white onions, yellow onions or shallots
8  carrots, trimmed, peeled, and quartered
4  celery stalks, trimmed, peeled, and quartered
4  garlic heads, cloves separated but not peeled
salt and pepper to taste
3 sprigs thyme
3 sprigs parsley
2 sprigs rosemary
1 chicken, about 4 lbs, whole or cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 package pizza dough

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees.
2. Using a paring knife, slice the peel from the preserved lemon and cut it into small squares. Discard the pulp.
3. Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, drop in the peel, and cook for 1 minute. Drain and set aside.
4. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the vegetables and garlic, season with salt and pepper and saute until vegetables are brown on all sides. (If necessary do this in 2 batches.) Spoon vegetables into a 4.5 to 5 quart Dutch oven and stir in herbs and the preserved lemon.
5. Return the skillet to the heat and add another tablespoon of olive oil. Brown the chicken on all sides, seasoning it with salt and pepper as it cooks.
6. Tuck chicken into the Dutch oven, surrounding it with vegetables.
7. Mix together the broth, wine, and the remaining olive oil and pour over the chicken and vegetables.
8. Place dough on the rim of the pot- if it breaks, just piece it back together- and press the lid onto the dough to seal the pot.
9. Slide the pot into the oven and bake for 55 minutes.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sara's Preserved Meyer Lemons

David bought me a new cookbook for Valentine's day and in it I found a recipe for preserved Meyer lemons, which I had never heard of before.  As I was reading recipes I found many of the recipes called for PML.  I was intrigued and when I mentioned it to David, he said, "Oh yeah, my Mom just made a new recipe that called for preserved lemons.  You should e-mail her and ask her about it."  I should have known Sara knew all about this fascinating secret weapon.  In fact, she had some curing and sent some over to us the next day.  Thank you Sara, you're the best!  Now, I find myself hearing about all kinds of dishes and recipes calling for these intensely flavorful and sweet lemons.

Sara said you can put the preserved lemons in anything.  Be sure to rinse the salt off the lemon before using.  After removing and discarding the pulp cut up just the rind, very small, and mix into spaghetti sauce, soup, sprinkle on a salad, or practically anything.  Don't use too much, 1/4 of a lemon is the most she's ever used and she says you can definitely taste it. 

Here's the recipe Sara used to preserve Meyer lemons:  (I'm including the recipe from my cookbook also after this one because it has some variations)

8-10 Meyer lemons*, scrubbed very clean
1/2 cup kosher salt, more if needed
Extra fresh squeezed lemon juice, if needed
Sterilized quart canning jar

* You don't need to use Meyer lemons, regular lemons will do, it's just that the milder Meyer lemons work very well for preserving in this way.

1 Place 2 Tbsp of salt in the bottom of a sterilized jar.
2 One by one, prepare the lemons in the following way. Cut off any protruding stems from the lemons, and cut 1/4 inch off the tip of each lemon. Cut the lemons as if you were going to cut them in half lengthwise, starting from the tip, but do not cut all the way. Keep the lemon attached at the base. Make another cut in a similar manner, so now the lemon is quartered, but again, attached at the base.
3 Pry the lemons open and generously sprinkle salt all over the insides and outsides of the lemons.
4 Pack the lemons in the jar, squishing them down so that juice is extracted and the lemon juice rises to the top of the jar. Fill up the jar with lemons, make sure the top is covered with lemon juice. Add more fresh squeezed lemon juice if necessary. Top with a couple tablespoons of salt.
5 Seal the jar and let sit at room temperature for a couple days. Turn the jar upside down occasionally. Put in refrigerator and let sit, again turning upside down occasionally, for at least 3 weeks, until lemon rinds soften.
6 To use, remove a lemon from the jar and rinse thoroughly in water to remove salt. Discard seeds before using. Discard the pulp before using, if desired.
7 Store in refrigerator for up to 6 months.

Here's the recipe from my new cookbook, "Bottega" written by one of the wine country's top chefs, Michael Chiarello.  I'm so enjoying soaking up every recipe and every page....David did good!  Thank you sweet man...I love you more than words can convey!!

Curing Salt
4 cups kosher salt, plus more if needed
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 TBSP black peppercorns
1 TBSP juniper berries
1 tsp fennel seeds

12 lemons, preferably Meyer

FOR THE CURING SALT: In a large bowl, combine the 4 cups salt, the sugar, red pepper flakes, peppercorns, juniper berries and fennel seeds.  Stir to blend.

Score the lemons from top to bottom by cutting through the rind to the flesh.  (Don't cut all the way through the lemons.)  Pack the salt mixture into the cuts in each lemon and place the salted lemons into a large jar, until the jar is full.  Pack the remaining salt mixture in the jar so the space around the lemons is taken up by salt.  (If you run out of curing salt, just pour in extra kosher salt until the jar is full and every lemon is submerged in salt.)  Seal the jar and store in a cool, dark place or in your refrigerator for 30 to 40 days.

When you're ready to cook with a preserved lemon, pull it from the jar, scoop out and discard the flesh, and use just the rind.  Once you open the jar, store in your refrigerator.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cajun Fried Fish

HAPPY MARDI GRAS!!  We're celebrating by cooking up some of our favorite foods from the French Quarter.

All the ingredients in this recipe are "to taste."  This is so easy after a day of fishing at the lake.  

To make Cajun fish bits, cut fillets into bite-size pieces and prepare as directed below.

For some other good Mardi Gras recipes scroll to the bottom of this page and click on the various links.  Enjoy and remember: Laisse-Bon Temps Rouille!

Tilapia, catfish or trout fillets, allow two fillets per person

Tony Chachere's creole seasoning
Lemon pepper to taste
Hot pepper sauce
Prepared mustard
Tony Chachere's seasoned fish fry mix, or a spiced corn meal
Canola oil for frying
tartar sauce (recipe follows)

Season fillets with creole seasoning and a little cayenne.  About 15 minutes before frying, pour a liberal amount of hot pepper sauce and a little prepared mustard on fillets, making sure the fillets are well coated.  Shake the fillets in fish fry that has been seasoned with creole seasoning, lemon pepper and a little cayenne.  In a large skillet pour enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan generously.  Drop a few fillets at a time into hot oil.  Too many fillets at once will cool the oil and the fish will not be crispy.  Fry the fish until golden on both sides.  Serve hot fish immediately with homemade tartar sauce.

Tartar Sauce
1/4 cup Hellman's mayo
2 - 4 TBSP pickle relish
1 dash lemon pepper
1 dash celery seed
1 TBSP grated or finely chopped onion
1 - 2 dashes of Tabasco
juice and zest of 1/4 to 1/2 a lemon

Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Crawfish Boil

Mr. B's Bistro Barbecued Shrimp

Mr. B's Bistro Gumbo

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Dylan's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Dylan made his first batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies the other day.  We all agreed they were the best cookies we've ever eaten.  Plus, it made the house smell heavenly!  Enjoy these freshly baked cookies with a nice, cold glass of milk, the perfect accompaniment.  Awesome job, Dylan!  You are officially vice-president in charge of cookie making.  =)

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Pan Cookie Variation: Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. Prepare dough as above. Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack. Makes 4 dozen bars.

Slice and Bake Cookie Variation:
Prepare dough as above. Divide in half; wrap in waxed paper. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm. Shape each half into 15-inch log; wrap in wax paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.* Preheat oven to 375° F. Cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices; place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

* May be stored in refrigerator for up to 1 week or in freezer for up to 8 weeks.

For High Altitude Baking (5,200 feet): Increase flour to 2 1/2 cups. Add 2 teaspoons water with flour and reduce both granulated sugar and brown sugar to 2/3 cup each. Bake drop cookies for 8 to 10 minutes and pan cookie for 17 to 19 minutes.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Aw Shucks

One of our favorite restaurants for over 25 years is, without a doubt, Aw Shucks on Greenville Avenue.  The food and staff are all top-notch!  Most of their friendly and attentive staff have served at Aw Shucks for many years and are a big part of what makes our experience there such a good one.  David and I have made it a Friday tradition now, so we eat there most every week as long as crawfish are in season (typically from January to July).  Their crawfish or "mud bugs" as they're very lovingly referred to, are boiled to perfection, served piping hot, with red potatoes and corn...all boldly spiced with their house seasoning, with the end result being succulent, juicy bits of goodness, heads and all....just the way David and I like them.  The two of us have no problem devouring a good 6 lbs, at least, in a sitting.  =)  Another favorite is their fried catfish, some of the best I've ever tasted.  Their house specialty dish is shrimp cocktail and is as pleasing to the eye as it is to the palate.  Another reason we like Aw Shucks so much is it has a totally casual vibe that David and I enjoy not only for lunch, but often times before we head across the street to the Granada to go hear some live music.  I highly recommend Aw Shucks for some of the finest seafood in town.

Curried Beef Short Ribs

This is a recipe I got from Cooking Light magazine and is full of fantastic Southeast Asian flavors.  The meat was falling off the bone and was so unbelievably tender and delicious.  In the recipe below I modified the original by doubling the ingredients for the sauce and I also added beef broth so as to have plenty of liquid to pour over the meat and rice.  I liked the tip for discarding the grease, it was very easy and necessary.  I served this with some sauteed, wild mushrooms in butter, which was a nice compliment to all the Asian flavors.  Finishing this dish with lime zest and juice brightens the meat's rich flavors.

2 tsp canola oil
2 lbs beef short ribs, trimmed
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/2 cup minced shallots
3 TBSP minced garlic
3 TBSP minced peeled fresh ginger
1/3 cup water

1 cup beef broth
4 TBSP red curry paste
1/2 cup light coconut milk
2 TBSP sugar
2 TBSP fish sauce
grated lime rind from 1 lime
2 TBSP fresh lime juice

4 cups hot cooked basmati rice

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle ribs with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Add half of ribs to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Place ribs in an electric slow cooker. Repeat procedure with remaining ribs.

Add shallots, garlic, and ginger to pan; sauté 2 minutes. Stir in 1/3 cup water, beef broth and curry paste; cook 1 minute. Stir in coconut milk, sugar, and fish sauce. Add coconut milk mixture to cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 hours.

Remove ribs from cooker; keep warm. Strain cooking liquid through a colander over a bowl; discard solids. Place a zip-top plastic bag inside a 2-cup glass measure. Pour cooking liquid into bag; let stand 10 minutes (fat will rise to the top). Seal bag; carefully snip off 1 bottom corner of bag. Drain drippings into a small bowl, stopping before fat layer reaches opening; discard fat. Stir in remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper, rind, and juice. Shred rib meat with 2 forks; discard bones. Serve sauce over ribs and rice.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mr. B's Bistro in New Orleans Barbecued Shrimp

One of our favorite restaurants in New Orleans is Mr. B's Bistro located in the French Quarter.  Their signature dishes include Gumbo, Barbecued Shrimp, and Bread Pudding with Irish Whiskey Sauce. 

In New Orleans, barbecued shrimp means sauteed shrimp in a Worcestershire-spiked butter sauce. These are especially messy since the shrimp are served with the heads and tails on, so you need to dig in to enjoy and have plenty of paper-towels on hand.

Mr. B's is known for their barbecued shrimp, and with good reason. The biggest trick to making this taste like theirs is to not hold back on the butter. The three sticks of butter called for in this recipe seems a bit excessive, but are definitely key to the flavor, richness and consistency of the sauce. Another tip to keep in mind, to emulsify the sauce, be sure to add a little butter at a time while stirring rapidly. Whatever you do, don’t overcook the shrimp or they’ll become tough and hard to peel.  Enjoy and remember: Laisse-Bon Temps Rouille!  =)

16 jumbo shrimp (12 per pound, about 1 1/2 pounds), with heads and unpeeled
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) COLD unsalted butter, cubed
French bread as accompaniment

In a large skillet combine shrimp, Worcestershire, lemon juice, black peppers, Creole seasoning, and garlic and cook over moderately high heat until shrimp turn pink, about 1 minute on each side. Reduce heat to moderate and stir in butter, a few cubes at a time, stirring constantly and adding more only when butter is melted. Remove skillet from heat. Place shrimp in a bowl and pour sauce over top. Serve with French bread for dipping.

Yield: 4 appetizers or 2 entrees