FB Plugin

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Grapefruit beurre blanc

This is so the opposite of the kind of thing I usually recommend preparing.  You cannot make this sauce ahead of time and reheat it.  You cannot divert your attention while you're making it.  You have to serve it as soon as you finish making it.  You have to stand at the stove for a solid 15-20 minutes, whisking all the while,  timed to coincide with the rest of dinner being ready, and under no circumstances should you walk away or fiddle around with other dishes or pay attention to your screaming children while you are making it.

But it is so tasty that it's worth it.

The traditional beurre blanc sauce is made with white wine and white wine vinegar in addition to a small vat of butter.  The tanginess of the vinegar cuts the richness of the butter and compliments a simply-prepared but full-flavored dish, often a seafood dish like lobster.  Since I was making grapefruit shrimp on the grill, I had 2 grapefruits' worth of juice to do something with (having used the zest for the marinade).  I decided to make a beurre blanc, replacing the white wine vinegar with grapefruit juice.  I'm sure Martha Stewart is rolling her eyes in despair, but it was delicious.

You can get some of the work done ahead of time for this sauce.  In fact, the butter needs to be really cold so it's better to cut it up and put it back in the fridge for a bit.  You can make the wine/juice reduction ahead of time too.  Since it boils down to just a tablespoon or two of syrup, leave the reduction in the saucepan rather than transferring it to a container...you always lose a little liquid when you pour back and forth between pots and there's just not much to start with.  Put the saucepan back on the stove over low heat for a couple minutes to warm it back up, then proceed to whisk in the cold-cold butter.

Really, do not get distracted.  Not while you're boiling down the wine and juice, not while you're whisking in the butter.  Reducing the wine-juice combo is something that just takes as long as it takes...you can't set a timer and come back to it.  It makes a syrup, and like working with an actual sugar syrup, it goes from not ready to ready to burned in a flash.  Adding the butter gradually keeps the sauce, well, saucy.  If you rush things, or let the sauce sit around too long after it's finished, it will separate (or "break") and you'll have a melted butter swirled around with syrupy juice rather than a cohesive, thick, rich sauce.  Not the end of the world, but not what the point of the exercise was.

A quick tip about reducing liquids...I am terrible at estimating volume so if I have a recipe that calls for boiling a liquid down to a certain amount, I pour that amount of water into my pan before I start cooking so I have a visual target (and then of course, I pour out the water and dry the pan before starting the recipe).

Plan to serve this with either a quick-to-cook protein (like grilled shrimp) that you can do pretty fast after you've got the sauce made, or something that doesn't require a lot of babysitting (like baked chicken or fish) to cook without attention while you prepare the sauce..

Pin It

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Green Tomato and Corn Soup

I had a boatload of green tomatoes at the end of the garden season this past fall. In the past I've done a variety of things with green tomatoes...pickles (meh), relish (meh), cake (yum but...) ...these just aren't dishes that move real well at my house.

The house favorite remains fried green tomatoes. You can slice, dredge and freeze green tomatoes for quick cooking later.  But at the time of our last garden harvest, I was 38 weeks pregnant and had ankles with the same diameter as my neck so I just didn't feel like doing it. I now have gallons of naked frozen green tomatoes that I still don't feel like dredging!

Some interwebs surfing turned up a suggestion to use green tomatoes in soup. This is my all-green-tomato version of what I found.  It is going on our menu until our green tomatoes are used up, and into next year once our garden starts producing tomatoes.

Pin It

Beer Bread

Not that kind of beer bread (although I like that kind too).  This kind is the the kind that repurposes ingredients from beer making.

There are any number of bread recipes that call for whole grains (bulgur, wheat berries, sprouted wheat, chopped wheat) or seeds and I finally decided to try one using the grain cooked in the process of brewing beer.  I substituted equal parts spent grain (for homebrew geeks, a mixture of 60L and chocolate malt) for cooked grain/seeds called for.  Delicious!

It made outstanding ham sandwiches and also a tasty-tasty platform for cherry jam.  I highly recommend this as an accompaniment to soup as well.

Pin It

Crockpot Green Pepper Pork

I'm working through the stash of garden veggies I froze this fall instead of canning or dehydrating.  Right now, it's bell peppers.  The frozen ones work well in this dish because they're meant to stew very soft anyway (and you lose the crunch when you freeze peppers).  You can of course make this with fresh peppers.

I served this dish over rice, but you can also put it in tortillas as a wrap or serve it with biscuits or cornbread.

Pin It

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Roast Redux Salad

Leftovers can sometimes be a hard sell.  Not many people like eating exactly the same thing for dinner then lunch, then dinner again.  Which can be a problem if you've made, say, a large roast and a LOT is left in the fridge.  For some reason, leftover roast (be it beef, pork or lamb) lingers at our house.  Maybe because no one wants to deal with slicing it once it's cold, maybe because reheated roast tends to get dry, or maybe because it can be just plain boring to eat the same meat-plus-two-veggies for back-to-back meals.

Interestingly, I couldn't persuade anyone to eat the leftovers of the roast I used to make this dish, but my husband took the leftovers of the repurposed leftovers twice for lunch.  This leftover salad is just that good.

This grain-based salad is inspired by a recipe from Julia Child's The Way to Cook for managing leftover lamb roast.  I did make this with thinly sliced leftover leg of lamb, but I think it would be good with beef or pork roast too.  I made it with bulgur as the grain base (per Julia's directions), but rice, quinoa or couscous would be good too...just be sure to cook the grain according to package directions.

Now the tomato and onion roasting is NOT a fast process and you don't really have to do it (Julia didn't, she just put these ingredients in her salad raw).  But it made the winter hothouse tomatoes de-lish-us and roasting takes that sharp, bitey heat out of the onion that you'll get if you leave it raw.

You can do all of this a day in advance, which is precisely what I did (if you roast the veggies, I'd fridge them for 2 or 3 days even, for as long as you fridge your leftover roast).  I got to walk in the door after work to a fully prepared meal.  And THAT, in addition to how good it tasted, is the real beauty of this meal.

Pin It