Tag Archives: entertaining

Confit… con? or fit?

2 Jun

Confit: [kohn-FEE, kon-FEE]

This specialty of Gascony, France, is derived from an ancient method of preserving meat (usually goose, duck or pork) whereby it is salted and slowly cooked in its own fat. The cooked meat is then packed into a crock or pot and covered with its cooking fat, which acts as a seal and preservative. Confit  can be refrigerated up to 6 months. Confit d’oie and confit de canard are preserved goose and preserved duck, respectively.

© Copyright Barron’s Educational Services, Inc. 1995 based on THE FOOD LOVER’S COMPANION, 2nd edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst.

Read More http://www.epicurious.com/tools/fooddictionary/entry?id=2028#ixzz1OA1VZ100

Confit, as defined above is reserved for slowly cooking poultry in their own fats for preservation reasons. But, lately, it seems as though you can “confit” anything. I’ve seen recipes for tomato confit, garlic confit, lemon confit and most recently, chickpea confit. Personally, I feel that confit is turning into one of those culinary terms like carpaccio. You see anything sliced paper thin is a carpaccio of “fill in the blank.” Granted anything salted and slowly cooked in fat sounds delicious to me, but is it really a confit?

It’s an interesting thought really. Why not just poach these items in oil. They certainly done have their own fat to bring to the party. But what’s the different between oil poaching and confit? Mostly, when you poach something in oil, you are removing the item from the cooking liquid whereas with a confit it is being stored in the fat. Still, doesn’t tomato confit sound so much more luxurious than tomato dip or even preserved tomatoes. And an oil poached tomato kinda sounds like a greasy mess.

Confit or not, I made my version of chickpea confit. The bottom line is that this is a dip or spread. It’s similar to hummus but with infinitely more flavor and texture. Plus it sounds so elegant for a dip. Here’s the recipe:Chickpea Confit

Chickpea Confit
1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 large garlic cloves
1 sprig rosemary
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup canola oil

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over low for 45 mins-1 hour. Let the mixture cool slightly and mash with a fork. Serve chilled with fresh baguette or crackers.

So what is my final verdict on the proper nomenclature? Well, I think that whenever something sounds exotic and exciting it makes me want to eat it more. I’m still not convinced that radish carpaccio should be allowed… but the idea of elevating a simple vegetable to new heights by cooking as if it was as special as duck or goose, can only be a good thing.

Always thinking of the next meal

-Katie

You don’t have to hug a tree to love granola

31 Mar


I love granola. I mean what’s not to like about sweet crunchy whole grains mixed with fruit and nuts. I make granola a lot at work. I serve it to the kids to mix with yogurt and fruit. It holds up well without going stale and it can be flavored in so many ways. Since today is a very rainy day I figured it was a good day to play with the food in the house.

If your pantry is anything like mine, you have a few items in there that are partially used. I always seem to have a 1/4 cup of chocolate chips or a handful of nuts. I also seem to have an assortment of dried fruits left over from different recipes. Granola is great what to use up all those odds and ends. As with most things, granola is a technique. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can tweak the ingredients to customize your mix.

Here’s the basic formula for granola:

2 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 350. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss until the mixture is crumbly and the syrup has been evenly incorporated. Spread on a cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes. Be sure to stir the mixture every 5 minutes to prevent burning.

Below is a table of combinations to give you an idea of how you can mix and match flavors to make a personalized granola…

Basic Base Dry Goods Syrup Flavor 2nd Flavor Additives
oats no additional maple cinnamon brown sugar dried fruit
oats wheat germ agave pumpkin

pie spice

vanilla powder pecans
oats coconut honey cinnamon brown sugar dried fruit
oats shredded wheat honey nutmeg clove white chocolate chips
oats puffed rice agave espresso powder vanilla powder chocolate chips

Today I made a tropical granola… here’s the recipe:

2 cups oats
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
pinch of cinnamon
3/4 cup shredded coconut

Added after the base was toasted and cooled:
1/2 cup dried mango, torn into small pieces
1/2 cup banana chips
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts

I followed the above technique and viola, a yummy granola! I would also recommend using macadamia nuts instead of the peanuts or omitting the chocolate chips for a slightly healthier granola, but ce la vie… This is what you get what you’re cleaning out the pantry

Always thinking of the next meal

-Katie

Strawberry and Rhubarb Galette

6 Mar

Nothing says spring to me like strawberries and rhubarb. And, now that I’m living in Florida, I have the pleasure of getting local strawberries. I’m sure I’ve bored you all before with my rants on fresh local ingredients, but the simple truth is… the shorter the distance between you and your food, the better.

I was in the grocery store this afternoon and the sale was 3 pounds of local strawberries for $5. I wasn’t really shopping for fruit. In fact, I was there getting a toothbrush, but I couldn’t resist this deal. The rhubarb was cleaned and broken down and conveniently merchandised right next to the strawberries. It was kismet. Dessert was a must for tonight.

I love making galettes. They are rustic free form pies that are less stuffy and finicky than traditional pies. The technique is simple enough. Just make a simple pie dough and roll it out on a cookie sheet. Place your fruit in the center of the rolled out dough and then fold the edges in toward the center. Brush the outside with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. In this case I used pearl sugar. (The pearl sugar doesn’t melt so it gives the effect of salt on a soft pretzel.)

Here’s the full recipe. Make this soon, as rhubarb season is short and the frozen stuff just isn’t the same.

Strawberry Rhubarb Galette

For filling:1 pound strawberries, hulled
1/2 pound rhubard, cleaned and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 cup sugar

For crust:
1 1/2 cup AP flour
6 T butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 T sugar
1/2 t salt
1/2 t vanilla
1 egg
2 T water

Start by making the crust. Combine the dry ingredients together and then cut the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingers until the mixture resembles cornmeal. In a separate bowl combine the wet ingredients. Add the the wet to the dry and kneed to combine. Once everything is incorporated, chill the dough for approx. 30 minutes. While the dough is chilling, make the filling. Combine the fruit with the sugar and allow to macerate.

Preheat the oven to 375 degree. When the dough is chilled, roll it out into a 14-16 inch circle. place all of the filling in the center of the dough leaving a 3 inch border around the sides. Then fold the edges in toward the center leaving a 2 inch hole. Brush the dough with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the dough is GBD (golden brown and delicious.) Serve at room temp with either vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Always thinking of the next meal

-Katie

Mussel-rama

23 Jan

In the past I’ve written about my serious love of mussels. I know I have at least one post on it, but I’m sure it’s been mentioned several times. Last night, we had a party that was the ultimate indulgence of mussels. A lot of our friends share in my love of this creature and we had been comparing recipes for sometime. I figured, enough talk, let’s throwdown.

It took a little finessing, but the final plan sounded like this. We would provide the mussels and everyone had to come with a sauce or ingredients to make their version of mussels with. There were no limits and no qualifications. It just had to taste good with mussels. I know there are thousands of ways to prepare these little buggers so I was pumped to see what everyone was bringing.

I made my version of moule frite. I did a quick steam in bacon fat, shallots, and prosecco and then garnished with crispy bacon, bleu cheese, and watercress. I did make french fries, complete with truffle oil but they were gone before the mussels were cooked (and that’s saying something.) Our friend Desiree went with a white wine butter sauce with red onion and parsley…

Our friends Lindsay and David went a non-traditional route and made grilled mussels with a sriracha and wine sauce. It was crazy amazing. I wanted to stop eating them, but I couldn’t.

I will apologize to our other friends who’s mussels are not pictured, but I was so busy eating my first round, I forgot to take pictures of the second round. Our friends, Vicki and Steve made the mussels from Bonefish. Not only were they fantastically full of garlic, the sauce was perfect for dipping. Greg and Margot made a Tuscan tomato based sauce that was also out of this world. I know that I’m gushing, and raving about everything, but it’s the truth. There was not a bad mussel to be had!

The best part about this party was that everyone got involved. There was some friendly competition and everyone wanted to impress. We had simple appetizers and free flowing wine and beer. There were lots of laughs and lots of eating. It’s been decided that it was so fun, that we are now going to do a monthly dinner where everyone prepares something. It never ceases to amaze me that food brings people together, and when it’s made with care and passion.

Always thinking about the next meal

Katie

Mushroom Paté, up the anti a bit

5 Apr

Mushroom paté isn’t any everyday thing. It can’t be. After all, mushrooms can be expensive. Think not? Well truffles are mushrooms aren’t they? So enough preaching already. Paté is typically a delicious combination of fat, meat, vegetables and seasoning that is cooked in a pot or a terrine. My mushroom paté is a little different… if you are a frequent reader of my blog, you might remember a post I did a few months ago about duxelles. The mushroom paté is similar to that but with distinct differences.

The key to good paté is fat and seasoning. My version is vegetarian so the fat I’m using is olive oil. I use a bright peppery olive oil from California. This is one of those recipes where the higher the quality of the ingredients, the better the paté will taste. If you prefer Italian olive oil use that just make sure it’s extra virgin olive oil.

Mushroom Paté

4 oz shitake mushrooms, rough chopped
6 oz cremini mushrooms, rough chopped
6 oz button mushrooms, rough chopped
2 large garlic cloves, rough chopped
1/4 cup yellow onions, rough chopped
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon truffle salt
1/4 cup high quality olive oil
1/2 cup marsala wine
salt and pepper to taste

In a hot pan add a tablespoon of the oil. Add in half the thyme, the garlic and onions. Let cook until translucent and add in the mushrooms. Let the mushrooms cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. After 10 minutes add in another tablespoon of oil and stir it in. Let the mushrooms cook for another 5 minutes and then add in the marsala. Let the marsala reduce and add the rest of the thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes and remove from the heat. Allow to cool to room temperature and add in the rest of the olive oil and truffle salt. Serve chilled on crostini.

I’m serving this at a wine tasting that I’m hosting this coming Friday. Mushrooms pair great with wine because they bring out the earthiness of reds and tone down the acidity of whites.

I’ll let you know the verdict

Always thinking of the next meal

-Katie

Impressive dinners

25 Feb

Tonight’s dinner was a great one. I have pretty high expectations for myself and it’s not too often I think that a dinner is spectacular. Tonight was one of those dinners that you wish your stomach was bigger, just so you can keep eating.

The menu was seared pork porterhouse chops over white bean ragu and tamarind BBQ sauce. I know it sounds intimidating, but it really is simple. Start with the most important step, brining.

Make sure you brine your chops before you cook them. The cut that I used, is simply a bone in chop that has the loin and the tenderloin on the same cut. This meal will work just as well with boneless or even the tenderloin.

White Bean Ragu

1 can Great Northern Beans
1 cup red pepper, bruniose
1/4 cup white onion, bruniose
1/4 cup fennel, bruniose
1/2 cup carrot, bruniose
1 large clove garlic
1 tablespoon parsley, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1 pinch dried thyme

combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the ragu has thickened. Season and serve.

Tamarind BBQ sauce

1/2 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons tamarind paste
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons honey
1 large clove garlic, minced

Wisk all ingredients together, adjust the cayenne to make the sauce to your heat levels.

Ragu in general gets better as it sits, so the leftovers (if there are any) will be better the next day.

Always thinking of the next meal

-Katie

Would you like a little cheese with that wine?

10 Jan

cheeseWe love having friends over. But we especially love having friends over that love cheese. It’s really fun to do a wine and cheese party because there is virtually no work involved. Just purchase and plate.

I love simple, clean entertaining. Our friends were due to arrive around 7:30 which put the party in the dinner hour. If you are having a cheese party a little later, say around 8:30 or earlier, for cocktails, you could omit the rest of the menu, but I wanted to make sure there was enough to eat and that there were plenty of accompaniments for the cheeses.

So here’s the official menu:

Cheese Tray: (clockwise from the top) Mahon, piccoline olives, cave aged gruyere, danish blue, feta with honey and cinnamon, and cabrales

Charcuterie Tray: Genoa salami, capicola, and duck prosciutto

Caprese Bruschetta

Rustic Apple Galette with Chantilly Cream

Yes, I realize that it might look a little intimidating, but actually it’s just a lot of fancy words for simple things. Let me explain.

The cheeses are kind of an odd combination. While my intent was to do all Spanish cheeses, I had a few in the fridge that I wanted to use up, and I picked up a few that I love without consideration for the theme. So here I was, with a mismatched combination, but it wound up working out fine. As for what the cheeses are; Mahon is a spanish cow’s milk cheese. It’s a washed-rind cheese that is washed with either olive oil or butter that is combined with a little bit of paprika for color. It tasted like an aged cheddar. It is slightly nutty and fruity with a salty bite and bit of grana (the salt crystals that combine with proteins to form crunchy bits in aged cheese.) Piccoline olive are small green olives from France that are a very fruity and pleasantly briny. Danish blue is a well known medium intensity blue that is mainly used as an ingredient. Cave Aged Gruyere is a Swiss style cheese made is France. It is nutty and fragrant. It has that wonderful tanginess that swiss cheeses bring to a party, but with a more mature finish. The feta is a French feta that is less briny than Greek fetas. Combined with cinnamon and honey, the cheese sings. It’s complimented well by the grapes and a few wheat crackers. Finally, the cabrales. Perhaps the most intense of the Spanish blues, cabrales is a cave-aged blue that can clear your sinuses if you’re not careful. While pungent, it still has a lovely smell that reminds me of Muscat grapes and honey. It can be mellowed with marcona almonds and honey.

The charcuterie plate is a fancy way of saying meats. With the exception of the duck prosciutto, the meats came from the deli counter. The duck is a specialty item that was well worth the trip to the Philadelphia Italian market. Fatty, and rich without the overly chewy quality that pork prosciutto can sometimes have.

The Caprese bruschetta was simple toasted crostini with mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, basil, and a balsamic reduction. Oh, and salt and pepper of course. I have to say they were a big hit because I only got one.

The Apple Crostata is a free form apple tart. I made my own crust, but you could absolutely use a frozen pie dough. Just peel and slice 2 apples, and toss with sugar and cinnamon. Lay the pie dough on a cookie sheet and pile the apples in the center leaving 2-3 inches around the side. Fold the edges in, pleating as needed. Brush the top of the dough with heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Serve at room temperature. To make the chantilly cream, whip heavy cream until soft peaks form, add in 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and whip until stiff peaks form. Serve on the side of the cooled crostata.

Next time you entertain, keep this simple menu in mind. Everything can be prepared within an hour and the best part, it can also be cleaned up in about 15 minutes!

Always thinking of the next meal,

-Katie