Friday, July 30, 2010

Coleslaw- The Creamy Kind

What you have right here is a basic, creamy-style coleslaw. The kind you eat with a hot dog, baked beans, maybe a corn cob or two. Or maybe some barbecued ribs! The vinegar-based slaws are good too, but that's for another post.

If you got a food pro with a shredder disc, this slaw can be assembled in less than five minutes and ready to chill. If you do not have a food pro, slice as thinly as possible. You can serve cold or closer to room temp, I prefer somewhere in between. Cool, not cold. And of course with mayo-based slaw, do not let sit outside in 80F heat for three hours during little Johnny's birthday party. That would not be celebrating. One hour tops in summer heat, then back to the fridge for a chill.

Coleslaw- The Creamy Kind
6-8 servings

1 large head green cabbage, finely shredded
2 large carrots, peeled and finely shredded
3/4 C mayo
3 TB sour cream
2-3 TB scallion, diced
2 TB sugar
1 TB mustard powder
2 TB good white wine vinegar
2 ts celery salt (or celery seeds+kosher salt)
Freshly cracked black pepper

In a large bowl, combine the cabbage and carrot. Whisk together the rest of the ingredients in a separate bowl, then add to the cabbage and carrot mixture. Mix well to combine, then stash in the fridge for about 1 hr minimum. Mix again and taste, add more seasonings if needed.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Grilled Sweet Corn and Tomato Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

What does summer mean to you? No school? Baseball games? Vacations? Napping in a hammock? Lounging at the beach? What about tomatoes and sweet corn? Isn't that as essential to summer as sunscreen and flip-flops? Well, hell yes!

The summer of 2010 in Chicago has been much different than the past summer. What's that Tom? We just set a record for the longest string of back-to-back 80's in 140 years of official Chicago weather observations, dating back to 1871? No shit...

The warm days and frequent rains have been great for the local produce, with some early tomatoes and sweet corn already hitting the markets. Go get churself some!

We've done this before, so you might be familiar. I've found a much easier method if you are not using fresh, ripe, heirloom tomatoes- grape or cherry tomato. Take the extra 3 minutes to squeeze out the seeds once halved, you'll remove some unwanted juice as well. The preferred method of grilling the corn is without husks, (too much steam) as that method will provide a nice charred profile to your tender sweet corn.

Grilled Sweet Corn and Tomato Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

6 ears of sweet corn
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, split in half and seeded
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
1/2 C red onion, diced

1/4 C good EVOO
1/4 C fresh basil, chopped, plus some for garnish
2 Tb fresh mint, chopped
2 TB white wine vinegar
1 TB lime juice
2 ts brown sugar, packed
1 medium garlic clove, minced

Prepare grill for medium-high direct heat. Grill corn until nicely cooked and charred, turning often, for about 20 minutes. Let them ears cool enough to handle, then slice off kernels into a large mixing bowl. Add the tomato, pepper and onion. For the vinaigrette, combine all ingredients into something, depending on your method of emulsification- zap with a stick blender, hit it with a real blender, or whisk in the oil in a steady stream. If not using a blender, the basil and mint should be chopped finely. Add the vinaigrette, mix well, then toss in some small basil leaves for garnish.

The days of sitting on the back porch cleaning up some ears won't be here forever...just like that string of 80's, enjoy while you can.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Root Beer Baked Beans

Baked beans!! Now thems some summertime eats. Usually, the preparation is like this- dump some canned beans into a casserole dish, add some chopped onion and maybe a sprinkle or two of brown sugar, then top with slices of bacon. Bake until bubbly and happy. The Tony Twist on this one is a little root beer flavor- never hurts to shake up the standard every now and then.

It's a quick and easy recipe, and practically necessary for any summer picnic-type event.

Root Beer Baked Beans
6 side dish servings

4-6 slices applewood smoked bacon, cut into 1"
3.5 C yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
60 oz cannellini or white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1.5 C good root beer
3 TB apple-cider vinegar
3 TB light molasses
2 TB tomato paste
2 TB good dijon mustard
1.5 ts chili powder, medium spice
1 ts kosher
1 ts pepper

Fire up the hotbox to four honey. In a large dutch oven (not the one with blankets), render the bacon fat over medium heat until the pieces are cooked but not crispy, then remove with a slotted spoon onto paper towel. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, for about 8-10 minutes or until soft and starting to brown. Add the garlic and stir constantly for 30 seconds, then stir in the tomato paste and stir for another 30. Add the beans, root beer, molasses, dijon, and seasonings.

Stir the cooked bacon back in while bringing the mixture to a boil, then transfer to the oven. Bake uncovered for about 25-30 minutes, or until the liquid thickens up nicely. Check seasonings, then serve. And of course, sing a few versus of the bean song. Magical fruit!!

Use the best quality root beer you can procure, I found some Sprecher's at the local mega mart.

Lake Michigan Chinook Salmon with Rosemary Garlic Buerre Blanc

Are you becoming as tired of this trend as I? The name-dropping? Where everything on the menu, from protein to vegetable lists the farm it was grown on? I'm sure you've seen it. Hey, I like some of those farms too, but it's reached the point of ridiculous, where the meaning doesn't really mean a whole lot anymore due to uncontrolled excess name-dropping.

Besides, don't we have enough labels on our food already? Local, organic, free-range, hormone-free, natural, kosher, farm-grown, unfenced, pasture-raised, grass-fed, low fat, humanely-raised, corn-fed, fat free, unpasteurized, wild-grown, free of preservatives, free of artificial colors, whole grain, sugar-free, no artificial sweeteners, unrefined, never frozen, low calorie, new and improved, etc.

So here's my ode to the name-dropping trend- Procured from a farmer's market by the dude who caught it. Thanks dude.

Lake Michigan Chinook Salmon with Rosemary Garlic Beurre Blanc

1/4 C shallot, minced
1/3 C white wine vinegar
2/3 C dry white wine
1 large clove garlic, smashed
1 large sprig rosemary
1/2 stick butter, cold, cut into 1/2" pieces
2 salmon filets, about 6-8 oz. each

In a medium bowl over medium heat, combine the shallot, garlic, rosemary wine and vinegar. Reduce down to 2 TBs, about 20 min or so. Strain through a sieve into a small sauce pan. When the salmon is resting once cooked, whisk in the butter two pieces at a time, remove from heat every now and then if necessary to mount your sauce properly. Once nice and shiny smooth and all butter is in, season with S&P.

Remove the salmon from the fridge about 20 min before cooking. Coat all sides with EVOO and S&P. Place skin-side down on a heavy sheet pan (those damn skinny ones can warp quickly) and then fire up the broiler to high, preheat for 10 minutes. Alternatively, you may grill these filets. Broil about 4-6" below la flame, for about 8-10 minutes or until the flesh flakes with a fork and theys smelling all delicious. Let rest while finishing the sauce, then please do enjoy. Damn that was tasty.

The Tasty Burger- Grass Fed Organic Beef with Red Wine Caramelized Onions, Roquefort Cheese

It's been a while since BLT has visited the classic, all-beef burger. Or hamburger, but don't let that confuse you. This time elapse has yielded a sudden hankering to get back to basics, a basic, plain burger yet with condiments that would bring a very simple yet absolute tastiest flavor profile possible. No, there will be no bacon, cheddar, bbq sauce, or halfed, sliced hot dogs on this. That can be done elsewhere. And no fried eggs either, that's from, like, 2007. The goal was simple- take some really good ground sirloin and dress it minimally. You will enjoy the results, or your money back is guaranteed!

The Tasty Burger- Grass Fed Organic Beef with Red Wine Caramelized Onions, Roquefort Cheese

1/3 C caramelized onions, (after 30 minutes cooking time, deglaze with 1 TB of red wine three times in ten minute increments, total cook time 60-70 min.)
Roquefort, of good quality, or good Gorgonzola
1 lb beef of your choosing, preferably grass fed if you can find it
1/4 small yellow onion, minced
1/2 ts Worcestershire
4 burger buns

In a large mixing bowl, gently combine the meat, onion, worst, and S&P to taste. Shape into four burgers, ensuring that don't press the shit out of it whilst doing so. Throw in the fridge for about 10-15, fire up your grill or otherwise preferred method of cooking dead animal. We're grilling outdoors on gas for this creature. With oiled grates and a temp around 500F, grill on the first side for about 6 minutes, then 5 on the flip for medium to medium well-ish. That's where I like it. I call it medium-okay. If you're not well, then you're just okay. Grill them buns too. Top with your onion and cheese, no other condiments necessary.

You've only used 3 TB of that red wine? Of course the rest is for dinner. And a glass while grilling is highly recommended y'all. Some Pinot Noir (of course) or Zinfandel would be yummy, perhaps a Shiraz/Syrah or Merlot. Today we have an extremely popular, easy to find and of good value at only $9/bottle- the Ravenswood Zinfandel.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Orange-Rosemary Pork Tenderloin with Pickled Radish,Corn, Black Bean Salsa

Pork tenderloin is nearly impossible to mess up on the grill, especially with a marinade. By allowing the swine a little bath time, you will ensure some juicy slices of loin. The salsa is something thrown together with ingredients on hand, certainly a rough guideline for a summertime corn-based condiment, substitute whatever you like.

Orange-Rosemary Pork Tenderloin with Pickled Radish,Corn, Black Bean Salsa
6 servings

2 TB soy sauce (low-sodium pref)
3 C orange juice
1 large spring rosemary
3 cloves garlic, smushed
3 TB honey
1/2 ts chili flake
1 TB red wine vinegar
2 pork tenderloins or small loins, about 2.5 lb total, trimmed of silver skin

Corn Salsa-
1 TB black beans
2 TB yellow corn
1 small radish, halved and thinly sliced
2 ts red onion, diced
6 sprigs cilantro, hand-torn
1 ts jalapeno, minced
1 ts lime juice
1 ts red wine vinegar

For the marinade-
Combine all ingredients, stir well to incorporate. Pour into a resealable bag with the loins, marinate in the fridge for 2 hrs, redistributing the marinade a couple times.

For the sauce-
Pour 1 C of reserved marinade through a fine mesh strainer into a small saucepan, bring to a boil for 1 minute, then reduce by half over a simmer, about 20 minutes.

To grill the loins-
Remove from marinade, pat dry with paper towels. Season with S&P on all sides. Fire up the grill for direct medium-high heat, 400F. Grill for 8 minutes on the first side, then about 6 on the flip, depending on how thick your meat is. A thermometer inserted into the thickest part should reach 155F. A 10 minute rest will add another 5-8 degrees.

For the salsa-
In a small bowl, cover the radish with the lime juice and vinegar, let rest for 10 minutes. Combine all of the ingredients, mix well and chill in fridge while grilling the loins.

After the pork has taken a quick 10 minute rest, slice about 1/3", add to plated sauce, top with salsa. Pairs well with a Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, or lighter Zinfandel. Please do enjoy.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Lamb Burgers, Grilled Eggplant, Cucumber Mint Yogurt

Ah, summer. So many nice days yield many opportunities to fire up the grill, and nature provides many animals to choose from. As you might know, lamb is fantastic in burger form. You can even make burgers from fish, lions or birds! With so many choices, I really can't remember the last ground beef burger I've made. You got options, you know. And all summer to taste them.

Lamb Burgers, Grilled Eggplant, Cucumber Mint Yogurt
4 servings

1/2 small yellow onion, finely diced
1 lb ground lamb
1/2 TB mint, finely chopped
1/2 TB parsley, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 ts cumin powder
1 ts salt
freshly cracked black pepper
8, 1/3" thick slices eggplant, about 1/2 large, trimmed
1/2 C greek style thick yogurt
2 TB fresh mint, finely chopped
3 TB cucumber, seeded, finely diced
pinch salt
pinch cumin

For the burgers-
Combine onion, meat, seasonings, and fresh herbs in a medium bowl. Gently mix and shape into 4 burgers. Cool up in the fridge for about 20. That's minutes. Prepare grill to 400F, medium-high direct heat. Cook on first side for 6 minutes, then 4 on the flip for medium-well. Let rest for at least 8 minutes. Don't forget to grill them buns too.

For the yogurt-
Combine yogurt, mint, cucumber, seasonings. Mix well and chill in the fridge for at least 10 minutes.

For the eggplant-
Brush slices with EVOO, grill over medium direct heat for about 4 minutes per side.

Assemble your burgers with a couple slices eggplant, top with yogurt, grab one of your favorite salads or sides, maybe a close friend or your dog, an adult beverage perhaps, and enjoy.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Besides the obvious benefits of the CSA share, there's a bonus that I've been enjoying-making me think inside the box. Rhubarb? I'd never buy rhubarb on my own. Rhubarb? Playoffs? Playoffs?? What the hell to do with that? Well, apparently desserts and rhubarb are like Michael Jackson and Kiddieland. Which is to say, they like each other.

The easiest pie dough ever
3.5 C rhubarb, chopped into 1/2" slices (about 3 stalks, or 1.5 lb)
3.5 C strawberries, sliced if large, halved if small (1 lb)
1/2 C sugar
1/4 C light brown sugar, packed of course
1/4 ts salt
1 TB lemon juice plus half a large lemon's zest
1/4 C tapioca pearls (might be labeled quick-cooking tapioca)
2 TB butter, small dice
1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 ts water

Fire up the hotbox to four honey, rack in middle-lower region. Preheat with a baking sheet large enough to cover any pie filling making an attempt to coat the bottom of your oven. Preheating will ensure the bottom crust bakes and keeps the liquid in.

Roll out both dough pieces to a 12" round for a 9" pie pan. A perfect circle is not necessary, although they were a decent band. Being only the third pie dough I've rolled out, and I don't have a pastry cloth thing, it's a work in progress. Unlike my mother, I cannot three- dimensionally encompass a pie filling in 80 seconds.

Stir together all ingredients except the butter, egg/water mixture. Mix well to incorporate all the sugars and tapioca and get things nice and friendly. With your bottom layer transferred to the baking dish, evenly pour the mixture on top, then scatter in the butter pieces. Dice the fat frozen, so it will be much easier to handle, and you already need some frozen to make the dough, so one-stop shop there.

Using your rolling pin again to transport the dough, add the top layer of dough. Remove any dough hanging longer than 1/2", then crimp the edges with thumb and finger to make it look real pretty.

Brush the top and edges with the egg wash, then make some slits in the top for steam to escape. Bake for 25 minutes and then decrease the heat to tree fifty, for about 27-33 minutes. The pie should be all bubbly inside and golden brown and tasty looking.

The most difficult part of the process- you need to let cool on a wire rack for a few hours, otherwise you're having pie soup. I recommend doing the baking around lunchtime, enabling you to do the eating right around dinnertime. Bon appetit.

Kind of looks like red celery. Certainly doesn't taste like it though. Celery pie would be nasty.