Happy Easter…Or Weekend

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Happy Easter...Or Weekend

To those of you who celebrate I’d like to wish you a safe and happy Easter. And for those of you who don’t enjoy a nice weekend (At least in my neck of the woods there should be some pretty nice weather). I will be visiting family and friends over in Jersey so no food-related posts until sometime next week (though I just did my share of baking for the next few weeks in itself lol).

Enjoy, be safe, have fun.

Cheese, Olives, Crackers and Some Meat… A Simple Midday Snack

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Cheese, Olives, Crackers and Some Meat... A Simple Midday Snack

There are so many ways of making up such a small tray, especially these days where supermarkets have large olive bars with numerous types of olives- in many cases they have plain and types that are stuffed with ingredients such as garlic or peppers. I had bought a few different kinds, added some crackers, cheeses, and meats, and “ta-da” a nice simple lunch.

Fresh Pasta and some Clams

Going through my picture folder I realized i had skipped over a pretty simple meal that I had done up a few weeks ago. So, plain and simple, here is some homemade pasta in a creamy truffle sauce with shiitake mushrooms and some clams that I had boiled.

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I forget the exact type of clam I had used (potentially a cherrystone of some sort if I remember correctly. Essentially it was wash with cold water and scrub the outside to remove whatever sand/sediment may still be attached. Then I started a pot of boiling water with salt and once the water started to boil I threw in the clams. In a sauce pan on the side, I had taken some truffle oil, some scallions, and some garlic and put on low heat and added the mushrooms. On low heat, I covered for 5-10 minutes to sort of steam up the mushrooms and soften them and then removed the cover and put on medium heat to finish the sauce (at which point I added some Romano cheese). The pasta I had boiled for only a few minutes (homemade pasta cooks rather quickly). The clams boiled somewhere between 5-10 minutes at which point they had opened up and I removed the one side of the shell. I then laid out on the plate added the pasta and put on some sauce.

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Enjoy.

Somehow I forgot to post my blintzes

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Somehow with everything that has been going on and working on a variety of different food related activities I seemed to have skipped over posting a breakfast I had done somewhere in the past week and half to two weeks. So here we go….Blintzes with berries.

To start off the concept is pretty simple, begin by making crepes. From that point I had made a creamy ricotta, eggs, and heavy cream based filling with some sugar and a few random baking spices. It should be somewhat thick as to not be a free flowing liquid when putting into the crepe circle. Take a nice sized scoop of the filling and put over the first third of the crepe. The crepe is then folded over like a burrito and folded in on the sides. This is then put into a skillet that is lightly oiled until slight brownage on both sides.  These were then placed in a oven pan and cooked in the oven for approximately 20-25 minutes on 325 (Really needed to ensure the egg is cooked in the filling).

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In a small saucepan I had taken a variety of berries and put on low heat with a little bit of blackberry port. This led to having both full berries to top along with a berry infused syrup type of sauce. When the crepes come out of the oven place the berries and sauce over the top and you are ready to go.

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Enjoy.

A different type of Roast (Wild Boar)

The other day while rummaging through the supermarket meats I was looking for certain portion of the duck to work with. However, I did not find what I was originally looking for but I then stumbled upon the D’Artagnan Wild Boar Roast. From there, a meal was made.

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Along with the roast, I decided to pick up an intense earthy brie, some fresh rapini, and some shiitake mushrooms. To start off, I had left the roast on the counter to get closer to room temperature before placing in the oven. In my large deep skillet, I diced up some garlic cloves, carrots, mushrooms, and a few pieces of the rapini and sauteed in a combination of oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary. After about ten minutes, I then added a cup of water and about the same of a dry white wine. The roast itself I had butterfly cut and added pieces of the intense brie on the inside and then seasoned the outside with salt and pepper. I then placed this in the deep skillet with the vegetable solution, covered, and put in the oven for an hour and a half.

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As these vegetables were just used to flavor the juice and eventual gravy, I had then in a separate pot/pan prepared some rapini and mushrooms. I had filled a saucepan with water and put the heat on high. I then added a fair amount of salt to this solution. Once it started to boil I added rapini and mushrooms and left in the water bath for about 45 seconds. They were then placed into an ice-water bath to cool. Once cool, I put on towels to dry out somewhat. I then used some infused oil with truffle, some salt and some garlic and sauteed the rapini and shiitakes for about 5 minutes.

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Enjoy.

St. Joseph’s Day Pastry

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So the other day I was going through a variety of pastries to come up with one to try and create. Oddly enough as it turned out (I saw a friend had posted about it on facebook) that indeed the day I had picked to make this particular dessert was indeed St. Joseph’s Day which is fitting as this is the pastry for that particular Religious holiday/feast.

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First attempt at sushi (and many more to come)

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As many of my posts have shown I like to cook and eat a variety of fish and my love for seafood doesn’t end with only the cooked types. Last week I was feeling adventurous and figured why not try my hand at making some homemade sushi- nice and fresh.

I felt it was best for the first time to go simple so I made variations with two type of fish- I used some ahi tuna and smoked eel.

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To start off you have the seaweed sheets. For rice, I had purchased Koshihikari short-grain rice. For vegetables, I had bought carrots, avocado, and organic seedless cucumber. For toppings I had gotten some pickled ginger and a spicy mayo based sauce.

For the rice, I used two cups of rice. I had put it in a bowl and rinsed it a few times until the water became more of a clearer color than the initial white (doesn’t become fully clear. I then drained the rice and let sit for about 20 minutes. For two cups of rice I added two cups of water. I put on medium heat and let cook uncovered until most of the water was soaked into the rice (for me this took between 15-20 minutes). At that point I then covered the pot, put the heat on low and let cook for another 15 minutes or so. At this point you the rice grains themselves should turn a clear color and spots that you see are still white pour on a little bit of warm water.

The rice is then put into a large bowl and a rice-vinegar solution containing sugar and salt is then added to it (I had used 4 tsp vinegar, 2 tsp sugar, 1.5 tsp salt). This is added and the wooden paddle is used to mix the rice as well as pulling the grains apart. It is worth noting that you should have a small bowl of cold water to dip the paddle in as the rice won’t stick to it much when it is cold.

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At this point when the rice is ready (and I had already cut up the vegetables and fish into strips), it is time to begin making the rolls. The seaweed sheets that I had purchased are cut in half and one half is placed on the bamboo mat (which at this point is wrapped in plastic wrap). You make a baseball sized mound of the rice and place on the seaweed sheet and spread with the paddle leaving about a quarter inch space clear on the far side. As you can see from the pictures I had done rice side out (which I sprinkled some black roasted and plain sesame seeds over the rice and then flipped the sheet over) or seaweed side out which the fillings were placed directly on the rice side.

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In either instance, start off by laying out the fish (I had made strips of raw ahi tuna or smoked eel). These are places a third of the way up the sheet (the end of the sheet should be on the edge of the bamboo mat) Then I had placed strips of the vegetables on top (vary what you want depending on individual preferences, i.e. I did tuna with avocado and carrot and perhaps did some with avocado and carrot). I had also did some with just the raw tuna inside without vegetable as well. The idea though is place the fish and then the vegetable slices on top. Then taking the end of the mat it is sort of picked up and rolled over the entire part of the seaweed with the fillings and then the rest of the mat is rolled and pressed to hold the roll together. The mat is then unrolled and you can cut the roll into pieces of sizes to your own liking.

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Enjoy.

Last post to be all caught up…Apple Tart with Frangipane

Well this is the last of my “catch-up” posts and everything will be back up to date. For this particular recipe, I decided to make an apple tart with a frangipane layer in it.

I had wanted some sort of dessert to make for our work party but wanted to do something different and this seemed to fit the bill.

For the sugar cookie type crust the following ingredients were utilized:

1 pound flour

10 ounces butter

7 ounces sugar

4 egg yolks

lemon zest

pinch of cinnamon (optional)

pinch of cocoa powder (optional)

These were all mixed well together and formed into a nice ball of dough which was then wrapped and refrigerated for a half hour.

For the frangipane, the following ingredients were utilized:

just over 3 ounces of butter

just over 3 ounces of confectioner’s sugar

4 ounces of fine ground almond (I used blanched almonds without the skin)

2 ounces of flour

2 eggs

These ingredients were all mixed thoroughly.

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To make the tart, since the dough was a nice dense dough, I found it easy to take the ball and put it in the center of the tart pan. I then spread it out to fill the whole pan and whatever excess I had over the top edges I cut off. I then spread the frangipane over the entire pan with a little space around the fringe.

Next I had taken four apples (two were granny smith and two were pink ladies). I peeled the skin off of them and cut into thin slices. These slices were then placed standing up in the frangipane in sort of a circular motion around the pan. As seen in the picture there is an inner circle layer and an outer circle layer.

Once completed, the tart was then placed in the oven at 350 for about 35 minutes or when the crust edges started becoming slightly browned.

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Enjoy.

Lobster Tails (well not the crustacean)

As many people in the U.S. have come to call them, lobster tails or Sfogliatelle is an Italian pastry.

This was a fun afternoon/early evening endeavor as I was not sure how exactly the shape would turn out once they were baked ( I’ll let you be the judge).

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For the dough, the following list is what was used:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup semolina flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup water

They were all mixed together until a nice smooth soft dough was formed. It was then wrapped and refrigerated for about 1.5 hours.

Now the filling was done as follows:

1 cup milk
1/4 cup semolina flour
1 cup ricotta
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon candied orange or grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Those ingredients were all mixed together until it had a smooth consistency.

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The disc of dough was taken out of the refrigerator and cut in half. One half (at a time) was places on a nicely floured surface. It was then stretched out real thin to rectangles approximately 16×22. I had then used some melted butter to sort of soak the top side. Starting from the narrower side, the dough was then rolled up like a jelly roll. It was then placed back into the refrigerator to harden back up a little.

At this point, the roll was cut into one inch pieces. One by one, each piece was placed in the palm of my hand and the thumb of my other hand pressed in on the middle (don’t let the ribs separate). This will then be formed into a cup shape. I will say my first experimental batch did not quite turn out looking like lobster tails as they did not bake with having ribs in the dough. Some of the filling is then placed inside and you use your fingers to seal the one end. The actual resulting shape at this point is almost like a clam shell.

The tails are then put on a baking sheet and baked in the oven at 425 for about 15-20 minutes.

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Enjoy.

“Real” Apricot Tilapia

So a while back, I had gone through and made a tilapia dish that involved apricot preserves. In this updated version, there is the usage of actual apricots.

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Initially in my pan, I had thrown in some sesame oil, soy sauce, and sliced up apricots into strips. I cooked this on medium heat to really get the flavor out of the apricot and so they were softer. I then added the tilapia filets and pan seared them until brown on both sides. I then plated the filets and topped with the remaining sauce which included the pieces of apricot.

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For the rice, that was easy. I boiled the wild rice for about 15-20 minutes. I had already shaved up some carrot and broken slivered almonds into smaller pieces. I drained the rice out really good so their was zero excess liquid. I then used an ice cream scooper to make small mound of the rice. I then topped the mounds with the carrot and almond, and used a little soy sauce to flavor.

In all, a nice meal that took about a half hour to fully prepare and cook.

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Enjoy.