Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Food Network. And Why I Hate It.

For some inane reason, I was squirreling into Food Network's website this afternoon, which is apparently maintained by crack-smoking monkeys and white rats in lab coats sporting a red wine IV infusion.
The Next Food Network Star competition is going on now. I believe this is the 4th episode. And when I tunneled into this page, Link 1, I was confuzzled and bamboozled and certainly gobsmacked.
  1. Aarti Party (00:23)

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    Aarti takes a lighthearted look at food in her series, Aarti Party. Watch Video

  2. 2.
  3. 3.

    Star Finalist: Aarti Sequeira (02:04)

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    Meet Next Food Network Star finalist Aarti Sequeira. Watch Video

  4. 4.

    Aarti Sequeira

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    Meet Next Food Network Star, Season 6, finalist: Aarti Sequeira Read Article

Link 2 This is the fourth episode and Food Network's website has given away who wins??!!?? Or am I reading this wrong? Actually, if this is true, I'd be a Happy Rosie. There's a cuisine in the future. Not just an over-the-top personality. A girl can hope, can't she?

Mr. Hawthorne Cooks Lunch. Sthufferin' Sthuccotash!

I love to pair a meal with the weather or season. For example, a nice hearty stew when the weather snaps in the fall and leaves are swirling. Perhaps a hot chili or a lamb cassoulet in winter when the snow is falling. In spring, I love a Caesar salad of Romaine just picked from my garden, washed, and chilled. I love a salad of fresh mixed greens and spinach adorned with a light vinaigrette. A stir fry of just-picked radishes and snowpeas. In the summertime, I love slicing my first tomatoes of the season and adding sliced red onion, sliced cucumber, freshly ground salt and pepper, and a heaping of chopped basil with a sprinkling of sugar and a splash of cider vinegar and salt and pepper. That's just a great big whopping bite o' summer in my mouth. Fast forward to today. For the past two weeks, it's been unbearably hot. Temperatures consistently in the nineties. Yesterday afternoon, finally, clouds rolled in and we had a long, beautiful, gentle to medium-hard soak for most of the evening. The temperature dropped to the eighties. This morning I woke up to an overcast sky, the clouds promising more rain for today. Mr. Hawthorne made lunch today. It was excellent in and of itself, but more so, it perfectly fit the weather.
He made his very own succotash, served with Tostitos Chips and my homemade salsa. For those of you who don't know, succotash comes from the Narragansett msíckquatash, meaning boiled corn kernels. The Narragansett tribe is an Algonquian Native American tribe from Rhode Island.
Traditionally, succotash is a dish consisting primarily of corn and lima beans or other shell beans. Other ingredients may be added including tomatoes and peppers.
Mr. Hawthorne's Succotash: 1/2 cup dried black eyed peas, cooked in salted water until almost done, but not quite (35-45 minutes) 2/3 cup frozen baby lima beans, added to the pot so they finish up at the same time as the black-eyed peas (15-20 minutes) Pour off liquid. Add in: can of petite diced tomatoes, can of drained, whole kernel corn, 1 fresh tomato, peeled, chopped, and seeded. Add in a cup of leftover Sloppy Joe meat mixture. (Cooked lean ground beef, chopped bell peppers, onions, salt and pepper, some ketchup and Texas Pete.) If you had leftover Burrito Mixture, which I happen to keep on hand since I fix these boys so many burritos, you could use that. (Cooked ground beef, onions, peppers, s & p, soy sauce, Lea & Perrins, cumin, granulated garlic.) Or you don't need to add any beef mixture at all. This bean dish stands perfectly fine on its own. 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper Heat through. Serve with Tostitos Scoops and homemade salsa. My homemade salsa. That little green fresh seed on the right on the arm of the tomato is a fresh green coriander seed from one my cilantro plants. It's lovely. Very cilantro-ey and very citrus-ey. And very yumm-ey.
Oh ... this was sooooo good. If you wanted to make this in mere minutes, you could use canned black eyed peas and lima beans, but as you know, Rosie is not a fan of can. However, if by using cans it gets you in the kitchen to prepare this, then by all means, use the damn cans. Just promise me you'll rinse the beans until all slime is removed. Thank you. And bon appetit!

My Magic Beans.

Remember my purple Royal Burgundy beans that turned green when cooked? If not, then I'd worry since I wrote about them in my very last post.
In that post, I queried why do purple beans turn green.
In my comments I got two wonderful answers.
From Kathy, of Reinventing a Boomer blogdom:
Kathy said...


From Zzzadig:
zzzadig said...

The heat causes the cyanoresinoids to lose a hydrogen atom thereby rendering the spectral reflectivity only reactive in the blue-green spectrum. If you believe that, I have a bridge for sale.

Well, Kathy and Zzzadig, thank you for responding. As it turns out, you're both spot on. What happens is this:

Atchally, the purple is from a pigment known as anthocyanin. The heat from cooking breaks apart the molecules on the surface of the bean and exposes the underlying chlorophyll, which is green. Another example: cooking destroys a lobster's greenish coat and uncovers its carotene underlayer. Back to anthocyanins - this natural group of chemicals is what puts the purple in purple beans, as well as in grapes. They're what also make roses and geraniums red and cornlowers (bachelor buttons)

and delphiniums blue. Yellows and oranges come from carotenoids. The red pigment called betacyanin is responsible for the reds in beets and bougainvilleas. Acidity in anthocyanin is the key. The anthocyanin that is red in a rose petal is highly acidic. The anthocyanin that is blue in a cornflower petal is less acidic. Anthocyanins change color as the acidity of the cell sap changes.

In the case of my Royal Burgundy beans turning green, a direct effect of heat causes the decomposition of anthocyanin. Less anthocyanin means less purple.

The indirect effect of heat is to burst the cells apart, diluting the acidity of the cell sap. The green color from chlorophyll, which was present but masked by the anthocyanin, becomes prominent once the anthocyanin concentration drops.

And there you have it. And you are entirely welcome.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mr. Hawthorne Makes Appetizers.

Mr. Hawthorne wanted some light snacks
this afternoon, so he took a stroll through the garden and came back with cherry tomatoes, basil, dill, and purple beans.
I'm excited about the beans. They're an heirloom variety called Royal Burgundy, or Phaseolus vulgaris and the seed packet tells me these violet-purple pods will magically turn a brilliant emerald green when cooked. Rosie is skeptical. We shall see.
I love this picture of Mr. Hawthorne's sleight of hand. Mr. Hawthorne halved his cherry tomatoes and scooped out the pulp and seeds. They're ready for stuffing now.
Stuffing #1:
Ricotta cheese and chopped basil. Mix together.
Add in some minced red onion. Salt and pepper.
Fill up some tomatoes. These are quite tasty little morsels. Fresh basil, just-ripened tomatoes and creamy, virtually tasteless ricotta. It works.
It is so wonderful to finally have FRESH tomatoes. So many bright flavors here. I think I'd forgotten what a fresh tomato tastes like. Stuffing #2
We had four jumbo shrimp in the fridge.
Mince the shrimp.
Add three glops of cream cheese.
Add one glop of sour cream and mix well.
A few sprinkles of Old Bay.
Mince some fresh dill. Add dill to the shrimp dip. If you wanted to make this dip in the wintertime, you could substitute dill seeds for the fresh dill. Serve on crackers. Or on sliced cucumbers. I only had 4 shrimp. Use a dozen, add some more cream cheese and make it really shrimp flavored. Lemon juice, Lea & Perrins, minced red onion, and minced multi-colored peppers would be nice accents. But Mr. Hawthorne is making this, not me ... ... so he added in Texas Pete. Nice touch, Mr. H. Mr. Hawthorne stuffed the rest of the tomatoes with the shrimp dip.
Quite nice. Light. Some richness. Green going on. Fresh tomato. What's not to love? Now, for the purple beans:
Here are my bean plants.
Here are my purple beans going into the steamer.
I covered them up and cooked for about 5 minutes. And they turned GREEN! Whoot!!
Excellent flavor. And the neatest thing - look carefully at the plate. There's still some purple going on.
Definite purple. I'm lovin' it. Now I need to figure out how and why purple turns green. Anyone?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Rosie Serves All The Little Hawthornes And Their Friends Seared Scallops With Pesto, Parmesan Crisps, And Lemon/Mint/Green Pea Risotto.

Youngest Hawthorne's all-time favorite meal is seared scallops on a bed of risotto, made with sun-dried tomatoes and spinach, and pesto, caramelized onions, and a Parmesan crisp. Since I have scallops today, I offered to make this for the Hawthornelets, but I'm changing the risotto since I had no spinach on hand. First, the Parmesan crisps.
Coarse-grate the Parmesan cheese.
I used a quarter cup of Parmesan for each crisp, then pressed lightly to spread out.
I baked these at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them, since they can go south on you pretty quickly at the end. Remove with a thin bladed spatula and let crisp up and cool. If you wanted Parmesan Frico Cups, then immediately remove the Parmesan rounds and place on inverted muffin tins or cups, using a paper towel to press around the Parmesan to shape it and to absorb excess oil. On to the lovely basil.
I went out to my garden and picked bunches of basil. If you're going to make pesto, might as well make a big batch of it. What I don't use with the scallops, I'll freeze in ice-cube trays, then pop the cubes into freezer bags.
Rosie's Pesto 8 cups loosely packed basil 8 garlic cloves 2 cups pecans 2 cups grated Parmesan cheese 1 1/2 cups ELBOO - that's Extra Light Bertolli Olive Oil salt and pepper
Put basil leaves, garlic, pecans, and Parmesan in food processor and pulse a few times.
Slowly add olive oil while processing.
And you end up with this heavenly product. Next up, risotto. Youngest Hawthorne likes his risotto with spinach and sun-dried tomatoes, but I'm going another route since I don't have spinach on hand. I'm going with peas, mint, and lemon flavors.
Rosie's Risotto 2 TB butter 1 TB light olive oil 1 cup arborio rice 3 cups chicken stock 1 cup white wine 1 onion 2 cups peas 1/2 cup Asiago cheese, grated zest and juice of 2 lemons 1 TB chopped mint leaves What is arborio rice you ask? Arborio rice is a variety of short-grained rice named after the Italian town of Arborio in the Po Valley where it was originally grown. Today it is cultivated in both Texas and California. It is the traditional choice for the classical preparation of risotto. Arborio is a short, fat, slightly oval shaped rice with a pearly white exterior. Because it undergoes less milling than ordinary long-grained rice, it retains more of its natural starch content. Cooking releases the starch, thus giving risotto its creamy consistency.
I heated up my pan, added LOLUB (Land o' Lakes Unsalted Butter) and ELBOO (Extra Light Bertoli Olive Oil), then poured in my rice and cooked in the butter and oil for a few minutes, stirring constantly.
Next, I added in a chopped onion, cooking for another minute, stirring.
Keep stirring.
Slowly, pour in some of the chicken stock. I pour in about 1/4 - 1/2 cup of liquid at a time. Stir, letting the rice absorb the liquid before adding in more liquid.
I zested two lemons ...
... added in the zest ...
... and the juice of two lemons.
Cup of white wine went in next. (1/4 - 1/2 cup at a time.) Stir and let the rice absorb the liquid. Total stirring and cooking time - approximately 30 minutes. You want arborio slightly al dente.
At the end of cooking, I added in my chopped mint.
Next, two cups of frozen peas went in.
Stir in the peas.
Finally, stir in 1/2 cup shredded Asiago cheese and cover, to let peas heat up and cheese melt.
I love a good risotto and this was a good risotto. Very creamy. I love green peas, so that was a nice addition and the mint and lemon accents made this a light and flavorful dish. Now, I'm ready to start on the scallops.
Rinse your scallops first, then pat them dry.
Heat your skillet, add a tablespoon of LOLUB and a tablespoon of ELBOO, pepper the scallops, and add them to the pan.
Cook for 2 minutes each side, then remove.
Avoid the inclination to poke the scallops and move them around. Leave the scallops alone. They'll release on their own.
Drain on paper towels.
I deglazed the pan with a bit of sherry and chicken stock. You could use white wine, if you're not fond of sherry.
Scrape up all the goody bits. And now I'm ready to plate for the Hawthornelets and their little friends, who somehow always seem to show up at a meal time. I wonder why that is.
Here's Youngest Hawthorne's plate. He specifically asked for 5 scallops and he got them. He didn't fail to inform me I'd forgotten the caramelized onions I usually make with this dish. I do not think the dish suffered by the omission.
This really is a delightful dish. The brightness of the pesto works very well with sweet scallops. The creaminess of the rice, highlighted by the hint of mint and lemon and sweet peas is a nice background to the whole. The crunchiness and saltiness of the Parmesan crisp complements the creaminess of the rice and the sweetness of the scallops.
I also liked the sherry sauce. Nice touch.
Here's my dish. I saved the biggest scallop for me.
Doesn't get much better than this.