Saturday, July 5, 2014

Baked Brie with Figs and Walnuts

I know, baked brie is nothing new, but as an appetizer it certainly is an easy way to get something out on the table in no time.  It's one of those back up plan dishes that you can have ready to go quickly whenever you have unexpected company drop by and everybody loves it.  I usually always have some sort of jam or chutney, as well as, nuts in the pantry and there is a store minutes away that can supply the brie.  No sweat.  We also just had some friend serve us a baked brie with brown sugar, pecans and Kahlua liquor.  Versatile!

Baked Brie With Figs and Walnuts

10 Servings

  • 1 6-8 ounce wheel of Brie
  • 2 tablespoons orange fig spread (I used Dalmatia brand)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • fresh ground black pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Cut the top rind off of the brie round and place in a small baking dish just slightly bigger than the brie wheel.
  3. Top with spread, walnuts and pepper, bake for 10 minutes, or until the brie is bubbly.  Remove from the oven and serve with toasts or crackers.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Roasted Duck Legs with Potatoes

To be honest, I've eaten and cooked a lot of duck breast, which I love, but have never tried my hand at duck legs.  Unlike duck breast which is best served on the medium rare side, legs are best cooked long until they are fall off the bone tender.  So with that in mind I found this recipe from Nigella and only changed the cook time (which seemed too long to me) and added some sliced garlic.  Such a simple recipe but so delicious, because what's not to love about tender duck with crispy skin and potatoes cooked in duck fat.

Roasted Duck Legs with Potatoes (Nigella Lawson)
2 servings
  • 2 duck legs
  • 2 russet potatoes
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • Fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

  1. Preheat oven to 400 °F.
  2. Generously salt and pepper the duck legs.
  3. Heat a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium high heat until hot.  Add the duck legs skin side down and cook until the skin is golden and the legs have released some of their fat.  Turn the duck legs over and remove from the heat.
  4. Cut the potatoes into ¾ inch cubes and add to the skillet with the duck.  Season the potatoes with salt and pepper and sprinkle thyme sprigs over the top of the potatoes and the duck.
  5. Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour occasionally turning the potatoes.  Add the sliced garlic and cook for an additional ½ hour, or until duck is cooked through, the potatoes are brown and crispy and the garlic is cooked through, occasionally turning the potatoes and added garlic.
  6. Remove thyme sprigs and serve with sauteed spinach seasoned with butter and garlic.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Paella Mixta Oven Style

I was fortunate to have spent about eight days traveling around Spain in the eighties when I was in my twenties.  I didn't know that much about the country before going because it wasn't a planned thing, just a blowing with the wind kind of thing for me.  Two things that I discovered early on were paella and tapas.  In every town or city I visited in that country I had paella for at least one of my meals.  I never had the same paella anywhere because paella is one of those regional things that can’t be pinned down, and shouldn't be.  It can be all meat, all seafood, contain snails, or be vegetarian...a blank canvas; a personal canvas.  I found that I really enjoyed those that combined seafood and meat, but there are so many shake ups on the idea that if that isn't your thing then you can find a paella recipes (or make one up) that suits you.  I got the base for this particular recipe from CHOW.
I have made several paellas over the year and used my first attempt at it as an excuse to buy myself an authentic paella pan.  You need the proper tools for the job right?  If you don't want to indulge in a single use pan you can try using a large cast iron pan.  I haven't personally, so I don't know if you will get the crust that a true paella gets.  Let me know.

I took this photo with my old...old ...old iPhone.  Pretty good I think.

Paella Mixta Oven Style (adapted from CHOW)
6 servings
  • 1 16 ounce bag wild caught large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ½ pound Spanish cooking chorizo cut into ¼ inch rounds (or Portuguese linguica)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, small dice
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 large pinch saffron threads
  • 1 14.5 can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups Bomba rice or Arborio rice
  • 4 cups (1 quart) low-sodium chicken broth
  • 16 mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 16 Manila clams, scrubbed
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1 lemon cut into 6 wedges
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Place the shrimp in a bowl and add 1/4 teaspoon of the smoked paprika and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to combine and refrigerate.
  3. Place the chicken in another bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste and refrigerate.
  4. Place a 15-inch paella pan (or cast iron skillet) across two burners and heat over medium-high heat until hot, about 2 minutes. Add the chorizo (or linguica) to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until it has started to brown and the fat has rendered, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove sausage from pan with a slotted spoon to a large bowl.
  5. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan if needed. Add the seasoned chicken to the pan in a single layer and sear, stirring occasionally, until both sides are golden brown, about 6 minutes. Transfer the chicken to the bowl with the sausage and set aside.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, the remaining 3/4 teaspoon paprika, and saffron and cook another 30 seconds.
  7. Add the crushed tomatoes and cook until the mixture has slightly darkened in color, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and 1 teaspoon salt and stir to coat in the tomato mixture.
  8. Add the broth and stir to combine. Flatten the rice mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan. Add the reserved sausage and chicken evenly over the rice.  Do not stir the rice from this point forward.
  9. Bring the rice to a simmer and continue to simmer, adjusting the heat as necessary and rotating the pan 90 degrees every few minutes, until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid and the rice starts to make a crackling sound, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  10. Spread the reserve shrimp evenly around the pan.  Push the mussels and clams (hinge side down) partially into the rice. Place the pan in the oven  on the middle rack and bake until the shellfish have opened, the shrimp are just cooked through, and the rice is tender, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  11. Remove the pan from the oven and cover with foil and let stand for 5 minutes.  
  12. To serve: Uncover and remove any unopened shellfish, sprinkle with parsley and serve with lemon wedges.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Et tu Brute Caesar Salad Deviled Eggs

I have been considering renaming this blog “Apps for Everyone” because it seems like most of the recipes I post here are of the appetizer variety, but I’ll keep my blog name because, well, because of two reasons; 1) I don’t want to paint myself in a corner and only post about appetizers, because life's too short for limitations, and 2) I don’t want to have to change up my blog design.  Yep, that lazy!

So with that lead in you know what’s coming: an appetizer, deviled eggs to be exact.  I wanted to try something different and so I thought a spin on Caesar salad would be tasty.  Turns out (via an Internet search) not such an original idea but I did come up with my own spin on them eggs: the Parmesan crumb.

I actually made these for Easter dinner but I am now just getting around to posting.  Yep, that lazy!

Et tu Brute Caesar Salad Deviled Eggs

Yield: 12 deviled eggs

  • 6 large hard boiled eggs, cooked and peeled
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise (Best Foods or Hellman’s if you please), use more or less for personal taste
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed to a paste
  • 2 salted anchovy fillets, smashed to a paste
  • Fresh finely ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped Italian (flat leaf) parsley

  1. Cut the eggs in half and remove the egg yolks to a bowl and set egg whites on a serving platter.  Add the mayo, mustard, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, garlic paste, anchovy paste and pepper to yolks.  Mix well.  Set aside.
  2. In a small sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  When oil is hot add panko and sauté until oil is absorbed by bread crumbs and the crumbs start to color, about 2 minute.  Remove from heat and add Parmesan cheese and parsley.  Mix well.
  3. Pipe or spoon the egg yolk mixture into the egg whites.   Refrigerate for an hour.  Just before serving top the eggs with bread crumb mixture.
Have to say these were tasty!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Creamed Spinach

I was looking for a simple side dish to go with a complicated main when I decided to crack open my copy of “The Oregonian Cookbook Best Recipes from Food Day” published by Carpe Diem Books.  It is an edited collection of over three decades of recipes published in the Oregonian in their Food Day section.  It has often been a source of inspiration over the years especially for my mother in law.  She has piles of clippings that she has saved over the years from the paper and we have had many meals as a result of those clippings.  The book did not disappoint; I found a recipe that they claim is the one and only Ruth’s Chris Creamed Spinach recipe.  I have had this creamed spinach dish at a Ruth’s Chris restaurant and this recipe is very close.  The only thing I changed is that I added a little nutmeg.  I don’t know about you, but I always love a little nutmeg in my cream sauce.
Creamed Spinach
4 servings
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup half and half, divided
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Sea Salt to taste
  • ground white pepper to taste
  • 1 pound fresh baby spinach leaves coarsely chopped
  1. In a large sauce pan melt the butter over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour and cook stirring constantly until roux reaches a light tan color, about 5 to 8 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in 1/3 cup of the half and half, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  2. Put the pan back on the heat and add the spinach to the pan and stir into the milk-roux mixture (you may have to do this in batches), cook until spinach is fully wilted.
  3. Add the remaining 1/3 cup half and half and stir spinach until smooth and creamy.  Add a little water if too thick (thought mine was a little gummy so added a little bit of water).

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Quail stuffed with Mushrooms and Andouille with a Port Wine Sauce

I have to say that it is really nice to have a store just an hour away that carries all kinds of interesting and hard to find ingredients as a matter of course.   I know, you may be saying “an hour away and you’re happy about that”?  Well when you consider it is the closest store of its kind to where I live I have to look at the silver lining.  I make a point of stopping at Market of Choice every time I am passing though Corvallis just to walk around and see if they have something I have never cooked with before.  This is the same store where I found Oregon truffles, fresh turmeric and those fresh white anchovies sourced off of the Oregon coast, and it is where I can reliably find duck.  This last visit I was surprised, but then I wasn’t when I found quail.  I have had quail once or twice in the past; usually at a wedding reception, so I was somewhat familiar, but I have never cooked with them before.  I walked out of the store with four little birds and some other goodies to be worked with at a later date.
I have to admit that I was somewhat at a loss as to how to process the little guys.  They are really small.  I turned to U-Tube and found a demo video recorded by one of my favorite chefs:  Jacques Pépin.  Of course he made it look so damn easy.  It was not.  This is from the woman who has actually made Turducken from scratch, so I know deboning.  The hard part is that you are striving for presentation quality which means getting the bones out but leaving the birds and skin whole.  I managed it, but it was stressful to say the least.  Just an FYI if you run across quail at your local store and want to give them a try, they do take some work, so not something you want to tackle on a work night.  The recipe itself was adapted from one of Emeril’s, which I cut in half.
Quail Stuffed with Mushrooms and Andouille with a Port Wine Sauce
Serves 4
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped assorted mushrooms (I used Shiitake, Oyster, Cremini)
  • 2 ounces diced Andouille sausage
  • 3 tablespoons chopped onions
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • Cajun or Creole seasoning to taste
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup port
  • ¼ - ½cup bread crumbs
  • 4 quail cleaned and boned (see video)
Port Wine Sauce:
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup minced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup port
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  1. Process mushrooms, sausage, onions and garlic to a coarse paste in the large bowl of your food processor. 
  2. Heat ½ tablespoon olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add mushroom mixture, Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper.  Saute mushrooms until they release their water, about 4 minutes.  Continue cooking until pan becomes dry, another 2 minutes.  Stir in port and cook for an additional 1 minute.  Remove from heat and stir in bread crumbs.  Cool completely. 
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F. 
  4. Season the quail that you lovingly deboned with the remaining ½ tablespoon olive oil and more Cajun seasoning.  Stuff each quail with ¼ cup of the mushroom mixture.  Cut a slice in the end of one leg through the skin next to the bone that was left and push the other leg bone through the hole to secure.  Trust me, it looks pretty.
  5. Put the quail in a small casserole dish that you have sprayed with cooking spray and place in the oven.  Bake until the quail are golden brown and have an internal temperature of 150° F, about 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cover with foil.
Make the Port Sauce:
  1. Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat.  Add shallots and sauté for 1 minute.  Add garlic and cook for an additional 20 seconds.  Stir in sugar and port.  Bring to a boil and cook for 3 minutes.  Add stock and reduce heat to medium.  Cook down for 20 to 30 minutes or until sauce coats the back of a spoon thickly.  Serve over quail.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Lamb Curry 70's Style

When I was a kid I basically needed to teach myself how to cook to save my burgeoning palate from what I innately knew was not good food.  Generally the food my mom cooked did not appeal to me.  Canned veggies, liver and onions, beef cooked well done and undercooked chicken were a weekly occurrence.  Swanson’s TV Dinners notwithstanding.  However, there were bright points in my tweens when my mom started cooking from a few new cookbooks and also took a Chinese cooking class.  The folks also liked to entertain so the big addition was a book put out by Time Life Books called “Great Dinners from Life” which ended up adding so many tasty things to the menu that I still remember fondly.  I have that cookbook now and was prompted to crack it open.  One of the biggies was this Lamb Curry for the masses.  My mom served it as a lunch for the ladies and the special part of it was not only did it taste good, but all the new and weird condiments that she served with it had me saying "WHAT".  Okay at the time watermelon pickle was the weirdest, but just the same, I thought it was the most exotic thing my mother ever made.  Decades later with a better understanding of Indian food I understand this is a very British interpretation of Curry, but as a child I was intrigued and delighted by the new tastes. 

The recipe originally called for twelve pounds of boned lamb, which as you can imagine I needed to cut back for a recent Sunday dinner that only included two of us.  I used three pounds so I had to cut the recipe back to a quarter of the original.  I will say that that scale back needs to be tweaked (I used 2 lemons which was too much), but in essence was very close to my fond memories.  The only thing I would say is that I truly needed it to be a “Ladies who Lunch” lunch because the more the merrier with this one.

Oh, on side note, when I went to Fred Meyer (Kroger) to buy the lamb, I grabbed a boneless leg, which I thought felt like it weighed about three pounds but didn’t have a tag so I took it to the counter and asked them to weight it and price it for me.  Instead of doing that they went to the case and grabbed a loose tag and put it on my lamb.  It said that it was a five pound roast.  I took that roast and weighed it on one of the veggie scales and came up quite a bit short of that.  I took it back to the meat counter and made a bit of a stink (over seven dollars a pound, you bet I did) and it came back as just a hair under three pound.  The sheepish meat cutter said somebody must have switched the tag.  Okay, that is somebody being an asshole, but was Kroger just trying to pass that loss on to me by just slapping the loose tag onto me.  Urg.

Lamb Curry (Adapted from Time Life Books)
6 Servings
  • ½ cup unsalted butter or ghee
  • 3 pounds boneless lamb leg cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 4 large yellow onions chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic crushed
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons curry powder to taste (I used Madras)
  • 1 lemon scrubbed, thinly sliced and seeds removed
  • 4 Granny Smith apples peeled, core removed and chopped
  • 1 ½ cups chicken broth
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • Condiments (see notes)
  • Cooked Rice to serve
  1. In a Dutch oven melt the butter or ghee over medium-high heat.  Brown the lamb on all sides in batches.  Remove from the pan and set aside.  Leave the fat in the pan.
  2. Add the onions to the pan and sauté, stirring constantly until onions are soft and slightly caramelized, about 20 minutes.  Add garlic and reduce heat to low and cook for 5 minutes.  Add curry powder and cook for another 5 minutes
  3. Return lamb to the pan and stir in lemon slices, apple, chicken broth, salt and pepper and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally, until lamb is fork tender and onions and apples have reduced into the sauce.  Check seasoning and adjust as needed.
  4. Serve with rice and condiments.

Condiments I used were:
Pickled Watermelon rind (which I loved)
Shredded Coconut (works)
Garlic Chili paste (added heat)
Raisins (Nice)
Major Grey’s Mango Chutney (great)
Pickled Lime (never again)
Candied Ginger (okay)
Also recommended by the book:
Sliced Green onion
Sweet Relish
Green bell pepper
Mandarin oranges
Sour Cream or Yogurt
Bacon (why didn’t I)
Egg Yolks