Monday, October 28, 2019

Rosie Makes A Spinach Salad With A Mustard Vinaigrette.

I love a good salad.
And I like a salad with a twist - sweet and savory in this case.
This one fills the bill.
I'm using spinach, but any mixed leafy greens would work here.
I'm also using fruit - apples and grapes here - but pears would do nicely too.
I have some crumbled Cotija cheese which is like a mild feta,
but again, you can substitute here.
Try ricotta salata if you like.
And I have some candied nuts - pecans and almonds.
My mustard vinaigrette pulls it all together.
For the candied nuts:
 In a dry skillet, heat a few handfuls of nuts.
Your choice.
I'm going with pecan halves and whole almonds today.
Just toss in the skillet over medium heat until a little toasty.
When you start to smell the nuts,
remove from heat, and pour into a small, shallow baking pan.

In a small saucepan, dissolve 1 TB brown sugar, 1 TB granulated sugar,
and a pinch or two of kosher salt in 2 TB water.
Bring to a boil.
Pour over nuts, toss to coat, and spread evenly in the pan.
Bake in a 275° oven for about 10 minutes.
Let cool.
Salad ingredients:
spinach leaves, stemmed (or mixed greens)
assorted fruits, like apples and pears, sliced and tossed in a little lemon juice to keep from browning
sliced, seedless red grapes (I prefer red to green grapes.  Better flavor.)
dried cranberries or craisins
candied nuts
cotija cheese, crumbled

Mustard Vinaigrette
1 TB coarse grain, stone ground mustard (I'm liking Inglehoffer right now.)
1 TB cider vinegar
1 TB balsamic vinegar
1 TB honey
1 TB lemon juice
enough extra virgin olive oil to make 1 cup vinaigrette (about 3/4 cup)
pinch kosher salt, to taste
Combine first five ingredients, then slowly whisk in olive oil to make a nice emulsion.
Add salt, to taste.

Taste will vary greatly depending on what types balsamic vinegar and olive oil you use.  I recommend going to stores like the  Spice and Tea Exchange or Ella's Olive,
both in Scarborough Lane Shoppes in Duck, or Outer Banks Olive Oil
at MP 6 on the bypass.  You'll be able to taste test the vinegars and oils before you buy and pick out what you like.  I always keep a selection of good quality balsamic vinegars and extra virgin olive oils on hand for whatever needs I might have.  


Sunday, October 20, 2019

Tilefish And Brussels Sprouts.

 The Hawthornes were just sitting there, eating lunch, 
minding their own business,
when I announced, "Dang!  This is really good!"

 And so I stopped eating midway through my plate,
grabbed my camera,
and shot what was left
so I could blog about it and tell you how it all came to be.
Because I'm a good person.
And you're welcome.

First, the tilefish.
Mild and sweet flavor.
Firm texture.
And it lends itself to any number of preparations.
Yesterday, I dredged it through a beaten egg,
then through breadcrumbs and cornmeal
and fried the fillets in peanut oil. 
Served them with a remoulade -
mayo, stone-ground mustard, minced onion,
 sweet relish, some lemon juice, 
a drizzling of Lea & Perrins, and a few dashes of hot sauce.

Today, I'm going for something lighter.
I sprinkled some cornstarch on a plate,
along with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper,
and lightly patted the mixture onto the surface of my fillets.
Then, I heated a film of peanut oil and a little butter in my skillet
over medium-high heat and sautéed for 2 minutes on each side.
You're not cooking the fish through;
you're just lightly browning the outside.
You're going to finish it off in the oven.

While the fillets are sautéeing,
prepare your baking dish.
 Place a few pats of butter in your dish
Slice some onion and red and orange peppers
and scatter about.
  Remove fish from skillet and place in prepared dish.
Pour a little white wine in the dish.
And bake at 350° for about 18 minutes.

By the way, my fillets are about 1 inch thick. 
If yours are thinner, cut your time back.

While the fish baked,
I prepared my Brussels sprouts -
an underrated vegetable if there ever was one.

Now, if you say you "don't like Brussels sprouts,"
then chances are you're not cooking them properly.
If overcooked, they become sulfurous and unpleasant.
If undercooked, they can be bitter.
So one must find the happy medium.
I'm slicing my sprouts in halves and quarters (depending on size),
sautéing them first to give them a nice char,
then tossing them with a Caesar-type dressing,
topping them with breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan,
and finishing them off in the oven.
It works.

Prepare the sprouts:  Slice off the bottoms of each sprout, then halve the smaller ones and quarter the larger ones.  You want the slices all about the same size for uniform cooking.

Make the dressing:   My dressing is a variation of a Caesar dressing and works well with the Brussels Sprouts.  It's bold and pungent and complements the sprouts without overpowering them.
1 TB lemon juice
1 tsp anchovy paste
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp Grey Poupon Dijon mustard
1 TB mayonnaise 
3-4 TB Bertolli Extra Light Olive Oil
Mix the first five ingredients until incorporated, then slowly whisk in the olive oil.  Keep whisking until you have a nice emulsion.  Always taste-test.

Rosie Notes:  You could use real anchovies instead of paste, but I like to keep the paste on hand for occasions like this - when you only need a teaspoon or so.  As for the mayonnaise, this is something I never use in my standard Caesar dressing, but I'm using it here.  The mayonnaise serves a purpose - it helps hold the emulsion.  As for the olive oil, I'm using Bertolli extra light because of its neutral taste - it doesn't compete with the other flavors in the dressing.  As for the mustard, use the real deal - Grey Poupon Dijon mustard, not the Food Lion brand.  Big difference!  Most things I'll substitute the FL brand for except for two things - the Dijon mustard and Nestle's chocolate chips.  Food Lion brands don't come close on either.

Sauté the sprouts:  In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, heat a tablespoon of unsalted butter and a teaspoon or so of peanut oil until the butter is foamy.  Add the Brussels sprouts halves and quarters and cook, tossing, for 5-7 minutes.  Transfer to a buttered baking dish.  Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel and melt a big tablespoon of unsalted butter.  Pour in some panko unseasoned breadcrumbs (2-3 TB) and swish around for a bit, to coat and lightly toast.

Prepare the dish:  Toss the sautéed Brussels sprouts with enough of the Caesar dressing to lightly coat.  Lightly grate some Parmesan cheese over the top, evenly spread the sautéed panko over top, then give it another light grating of Parm.  Bake in a 350° oven for about 7 minutes.


Friday, October 11, 2019

What To Do With Leftover Rice? Make Moreover Rice Pudding.

True comfort food.
It's rice pudding.

See that rice in there?
 I'd made a big batch of it and I used some of it in my sweet and sour pork
and I had some of it "leftover."  As you know, Rosie doesn't do "leftovers."  Rosie does "moreovers."
As I've explained before, I don't like the word "leftovers."  It has negative connotations to me.  I prefer "moreovers."  I take what's been made already and turn it into something else - something more than what went before. And if that something else involves dessert, even better. 

Today, I'm make moreover rice pudding.
Here's how:

Rosie's Rice Pudding
2 cups cooked Jasmine rice
1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
peel of 1 orange
1 TB vanilla
dried cranberries
toasted pistachios
turbinado sugar

Rosie Note:  As for the skim milk and cream, I always have both on hand, but never have whole milk, so I use a combination of the two to approximate whole milk, erring on the side of fat content.  Technically, 1 oz. cream and 7 oz. skim milk would give you the whole milk, but I'm going with half skim and half cream because I like the combination.

Combine rice, sugar, coconut milk, skim milk, cream, cinnamon sticks, and orange peel in medium sauce pan.  Bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat and barely simmer, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes.  Stir in vanilla.

To serve, add cranberries, pistachios, and a sprinkling of turbinado sugar.

Here are the step-by-steps
for the instruction-impaired:

Sugar, rice, and cinnamon sticks for a nice infusion.
Coconut milk.
Skim and cream.
Orange peel.
And simmer and stir.

 Serve with  nuts and berries.
Maybe some fresh orange zest.

And a sprinkling of turbinado sugar.

Eat warm.
Or cold right out of the container 
while you stand in front of the fridge
with the door wide open.


Saturday, October 5, 2019

Sweet And Sour Pork.

I know we have a lot of great restaurants on the Outer Banks,
but sometimes you want Chinese.
Most all of the ChinaMacs we used to have down here
have closed, and I can't say I miss any of them.
So, when I want something "Chinese,"
I have to make it myself.
And it's sad to say that my lily white American ass
can produce a sweet and sour pork
that's far better than anything I've had down here.
Also my egg rolls are superior to any I've had down here, too.
But, I digest...

A couple weeks ago,
I was doing the freezer clean-out
and found 3 pork loins.
I put them on my to-do list.
And today, I'm to-do-ing.
We're having Sweet and Sour Pork.

First, I cut the pork into small bite-sized pieces
and placed them in a marinade
which I covered and refrigerated overnight.
You could marinate for a couple of hours and go from there
if you're short on time.

 1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 TB hoisin sauce
2 TB rice vinegar
1 TB mirin
2 TB brown sugar
1 TB sriracha sauce
Mix all ingredients until sugar is dissolved.
Put pork pieces in and stir to coat.
Let marinate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

Next, I gathered my fixin's for stir fry.

Here's what I had on hand for my pork stir fry,
clockwise from top left:
bok choy, chopped
carrots, peeled and artistically sliced
sugar snap peas, stringed
red and green peppers, sliced 
onions, sliced
garlic, minced (not shown)

You don't have to limit yourself to these vegetables
and you don't have to use these vegetables.
Keep your options open.
If you want broccoli, go for it.
I'm down with those little bitty ears of corn too.
Water chestnuts?  Bamboo shoots? Have at it.
Squash?  Zucchini?  Celery?  Help yourself.
The only "rule" is to have the pieces chopped 
basically the same size (bite-sized), so they cook evenly.

NOTE:  Preparation is KEY for stir frying.
Have everything peeled, chopped, sliced, diced,
and ready to fry.
Once you start, there's no turning back.

 I had already cooked a pot of jasmine rice
and I had a sweet and sour sauce ready.

Sweet and Sour Sauce
1 8-oz can pineapple chunks with juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan 
and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve brown sugar.
Slowly pour in a cornstarch slurry -
1 TB cornstarch dissolved in 1 TB water.
Stir until thickened.
Keep warm.

Next, I prepped the pork pieces.
Drain the pork, saving the marinade,
then toss in a mixture of equal parts flour and corn starch,
with some kosher salt thrown in.
Coat evenly.

Now, let's start stir frying.
Heat a large skillet with a couple tablespoons of peanut oil.
You want it about 400°.
Peanut oil is my oil of choice because it's neutral flavored
and it has a high smoke point - perfect for stir fries.

The carrots take longest, so they went in first,
for about 60-75 seconds.
Learn how to do the pan flip thing
where you shove the pan forward, give it a little flip back,
tossing the ingredients,
then letting them fall back in place.
No utensils needed.  Just a strong wrist and some coordination.

Then I dropped in the bok choy and the pea pods.
Keep flipping for about 30 seconds.
And then the onions and peppers and garlic.
Keep doing that pan toss to heat the ingredients evenly.

Finally, the cashews went in.
Total time was about 2 minutes.

Lastly, I poured in the marinade and brought it to a simmer.
Pour vegetables and sauce into a bowl and keep warm.
Give the pan a sweep with paper towels to clean it out
and pour in a film of peanut oil
Heat the oil to around 375° 
and place the pork cubes in.
Fry in batches.
Do not crowd the pan.
Brown and remove.

Plate rice, then vegetables and pork,
and pour the sweet and sour sauce over top.

I love the colors in a stir fry.
Everything is pretty.
And the vegetables are crisp!