Monday, August 31, 2015

Tabbouleh Time.

  I love grains.
Their texture...
Their nutty flavor...
And I love salads.
Tabbouleh is the perfect combination
of fresh-picked vegetables from the garden 
and the wonder of a grain - bulgur wheat.

I was reading the back of the bulgur bag for directions
and it said to pour 2 cups boiling water 
over 2 cups of the bulgur.

So I did.
I should've used 1 cup.
This made a gallon of tabbouleh.
I exaggerate, but not by much. 

Since I ended up with so much bulgur wheat,
I decided to split the cooked bulgur and make two sides.
I used 2/3 of the cooked bulgur for my tabbouleh
and the other 1/3 for another quick bulgur and garbanzo salad.

Rosie's Tabbouleh
2 cups bulgur wheat
2 cups boiling water
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
3 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, juiced, and diced
1 medium red onion, diced
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped mint

Pour boiling water over wheat,
cover, and let sit for at least an hour, to absorb the liquid.

1/2 cup blood orange infused olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice

Combine 2/3 of the bulgur wheat, vegetables, and herbs.
Pour dressing over top and toss to coat.

Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour
 to allow the flavors the meld.

Here's the other salad I made.
Bulgur wheat
garbanzo beans
chopped red peper
chopped green and red peppers
Toss with your favorite Italian dressing.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Life On A Sandbar. It's Good.

Youngest Hawthorne went out fishing this morning. And no, he's not going to tell you where.

Within twenty minutes, he came back with this! 

Three pounds.  Two ounces. 

 Flounder in case you didn't know.

 I lightly sprinkled the flounder fillets with some spices -  onion powder, kosher salt, black pepper, thyme, paprika, cayenne, rosemary, sage, and annatto for the coloring.
Fried 'em up in hot iron skillet in a little peanut oil and unsalted butter.  Maybe 60-90 secs each side.
Depends on the thickness.

Whatever I did, they were freakin' perfect!

 We ate every bit!

 Just grand!

Rosie Makes Arancini Moreovers.

Recently, I was asked to make this dish
for a special occasion.
It's seared scallops with basil pesto and caramelized onions
atop a Parmesan crisp on top of a bed
of creamy risotto with spinach and sun-dried tomatoes.

I had risotto left over, so today I'm making Moreover Risotto.
In the form of arancini.
Remember, Rosie doesn't do "leftovers."
Rosie does "moreovers," which is a totally different thing.

"Well, do tell, Rosie!
What are arancini," you ask?

Arancini are rice balls.
Italian street food.
The center is filled with a savory mixture
and contains a happy surprise - melted mozzarella,
and the outer layer is breaded and fried.

True Italian arancini are big -
the size of oranges.
In fact, "arancia" means "orange.

I'm making mine golf ball size.

2 cups risotto, cooled
(Mine was cooked with sun-dried tomatoes and spinach.)
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
panko breadcrumbs to coat.
small cubes of mozzarella
And get the good mozzarella from the deli, not the generic,
because we're talking apples and oranges.

Combine risotto, eggs, Parmesan, and 1/3 cup panko.
Form mixture into balls and insert one cube of mozzarella 
in center of each ball.
Roll in panko to coat.
Working in batches, add rice balls to 350° peanut oil,
turning balls as needed to brown evenly.
Fry until golden - 2-3 minutes.
Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Next time you have leftover rice,
this is a great "moreover" recipe.

I'm a sucker for melted mozzarella.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Nameless Hawthorne's Birthday Dinner.

 August is the Birthday Month for the Hawthornes.
Three out of five Hawthornes have birthdays this month.
 The Birthday Person always gets to pick
what Birthday Meal he or she wants.

I didn't have to ask.
I know.
It's his favorite.

 Spinach and sun-dried tomato risotto,
with a Parmesan crisp, topped with seared scallops,
pesto, and caramelized onions.

First, I had to make some pesto.
I went out to the garden and picked a bunch of basil.
When I make pesto, I make A LOT!
I freeze it in ice cube trays and small freezer bags,
so I can have pesto throughout winter.
I prefer using pecans instead of pine nuts.
I prefer pecan flavor.
And I use Bertolli Extra Light Olive Oil.
I don't want an olive oil that overpowers.

Rosie's Pesto
4 quarts lightly packed basil leaves
10 garlic cloves
6 ounces grated Parmesan cheese, grated
5-6 cups pecans
4 cups Bertolli Extra Light Olive Oil
kosher salt to taste
Process everything.
Spoon into ice trays and/or freezer bags for individual servings.

You can divide this to make smaller quantities.
Taste test as you go along.

Now for the Parmesan crisps...
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
I use about 2 TB grated Parmesan for each round.
Press rounds to flatten.
Use a flat bottom of a glass.
Bake at 425°, turning pan once,
 until golden brown, about 5-6 minutes.

Let cool.

These Parmesan crisps make terrific snacks.

For the caramelized onions,
I sautéed sliced onions in a little unsalted butter and olive oil.
Medium high heat.
I like to sprinkle a little sugar over the onions
to aid in caramelization.

When onions are browned, throw in a splash of white wine.
Let it cook away, then cover and remove from heat.

On to the risotto.
Risotto is more a technique than a dish.
Once you understand the process -
toasting the rice, adding in warm broth a ladle at a time -
you can vary the dish with other combinations of flavors and textures -
mushrooms and sausage,
asparagus, lemon, and Parmesan,
peas and mint,
tomatoes and basil,
you name it!

2 TB unsalted butter
1 TB olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup Arborio rice
32 ounces chicken broth, heated
1/2 bag fresh spinach (4 ounces), chopped
handful of sundried tomatoes
1/4 cup cream
kosher salt, to taste
extra unsalted butter

Place the tomatoes in a small bowl,
pour in boiling water, cover, and set aside.
When ready to add to risotto, drain and chop.

 Heat skillet over medium heat.
Add oil and butter.
When butter melts, stir in onions and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Add rice, stirring to coat, and cook for about 2 minutes, 
or until the rice takes on a pale, gold color.
Stir in a ladle (1/4 cup) of warm broth
and stir until broth is absorbed.
Continue adding a ladle at a time,
stirring until absorbed.
Don't rush this part.
The gradual addition of the warm liquid
is the key to getting the rice to release its starch,
thus creating its own velvety sauce.
You want just enough liquid to cook the rice.
This will take maybe 20-25 minutes.
Start taste-testing about 15 minutes in.
You want the rice al dente and the dish almost porridge-like.
When you run a spatula through the risotto,
it should slowly flow back to fill in the space.

Add in the spinach and tomatoes.
When spinach is wilted,
pour in the cream and stir in the butter for enrichment.

Risotto should be served immediately.
If left standing, the starches will set
and you lose the creamy silkiness.

To prepare scallops,
first remove the little side muscle where it attaches to the shell,
rinse with cold water, and thoroughly pat dry.

In a hot iron skillet, melt 2 TB butter and 1 TB oil.
Place scallops in at 350°.
Do not crowd the pan and don't let the scallops touch.
Sear about 90 seconds each side.

To plate, pour a base of risotto.
Add a Parmesan crisp and scallops.
Top with caramelized onions and pesto.

A most excellent meal.
Birthday Boy-approved!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Southern Sweet Tomato Pie.

There's nothing better than just-picked, sun-kissed, right-out-of-the-garden tomatoes. 
I've been making tomato sandwiches sprinkled with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, with Hellmann's mayonnaise on white bread.  I've made tomato salads with red onion, cucumber, and a vinaigrette.  I'm open to any and all tomato recipes.

Today, Mr. Hawthorne suggested a sweet tomato pie.  He remembered one that was always brought to his annual family reunions. I'm trying to recreate his description of that pie.  Just scaling down for the two of us.

Southern Sweet Tomato Pie
Pie crust large enough to fit a 4 x 7-inch oval baking dish
3 tomatoes, peeled and sliced
1/2 onion sliced
1 TB mayonnaise
1 TB buttermilk
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
chiffonade of basil
Provolone cheese
Panko breadcrumbs

Heat oven to 425°.
Place foil over pie dough, pour in weights, and bake about 15 minutes, until lightly browned.
Peel and slice the tomatoes, place in single layer on paper towels, sprinkle a little kosher salt over top.
After ten minutes, blot tomatoes with paper towels.
Layer tomatoes and onion on pie crust.  On each layer, sprinkle kosher salt, pepper, and a couple pinches of sugar.
Mix mayonnaise and buttermilk and pour evenly over top.
Top with a chiffonade of basil, Provolone cheese, and Panko breadcrumbs.
Bake until topping is lightly browned - about 15 minutes.

Mr. Hawthorne doesn't want butter, cheese, or breadcrumbs on his half.
I never turn down butter, cheese, or breadcrumbs.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Birthday Cheesecake With Mocha Frosting.

August is a birthday month for 3 out of 5 Hawthornes,
Rosie and Middle Hawthorne being the odd men out.
And all Hawthornes get to choose their own cake.
This year, The-Hawthorne-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named
requested a cheesecake with a mocha icing.
Consider it done.

 Birthday Hawthorne and Mr. Hawthorne
both said this was the "best cheesecake" they've ever had.
And I've made a lot of cheesecakes over the years.


Rosie's Cheesecake

2 cups ground graham cracker crumbs
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted

Combine all ingredients until evenly moistened.
Pour crumbs into a buttered 9-inch springform pan.
Press evenly into the base and up the sides.

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
3 eggs, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup crème fraîche*
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
zest of one lemon
2 tsp vanilla

Beat cream cheese on low speed until smooth and free of lumps.
Add eggs, one at a time,
 beating after each addition, until well-combined. 
Gradually beat in sugar until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.
Pour batter into crust-lined pan.
Place springform pan on large piece of foil
and fold up sides around it.
Place in a large roasting pan
and pour water halfway up sides of springform pan.
Bake at 325° approximately 50-55 minutes.
Cheesecake should jiggle slightly when removed from oven.
It will firm up after chilling.
Let cool in pan, then refrigerate, for at least 6 hours.
Remove from pan.

* About that crème fraîche:  Crème fraîche is sour cream on steroids.  I was planning on using sour cream in the cheesecake, but the night before making it I checked the fridge for sour cream.  Nada.  So I made crème fraîche to substitute.  And I think the crème fraîche is what took this cheesecake over the top.

1 cup heavy cream
2 TB sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 ounces smooth dark 72% cacoa
1 TB water
2 tsp ground coffee
1 TB honey

Combine chocolate, water, coffee, and honey.
Nuke until chocolate is melted.
Stir to combine.
Let cool.

Beat cream until soft peaks form.
Gradually beat in sugar and vanilla.
Continue beating until stiff peaks form. 

Gently fold chocolate mixture into whipped cream.
Spoon into pastry bag with decorative tip
and pipe icing over top of cheesecake.
Or just spread it.
It's all good.
Here's the cheesecake after cooling.
I trimmed some of the crust to even it off
and sprinkled it on top of the cake.

Mixing the icing.

Gently fold chocolate mixture into the whipped cream.

Pipe icing on top.
I went for a beach motif - drip sandcastle icing.

  Amazingly creamy cheesecake.
Amazingly good.