Thursday, September 30, 2010

riding on the Marrakesh Express…

salmon, rice and salad...Alex's favorite dinner

I’m so inspired by my friend Sarah, and her fantastic blog What's Cooking In Your World ?  . I’m definitely an “equal opportunity” foodie – love all kinds of cuisines, and am just as happy eating a full Japanese meal as I am making Jamaican Jerk Chicken (neither of which have anything to do with my own ancestors). But Sarah is really doing it – cooking meals from every country around the world. No hesitation, no hemming and hawing - just jump in and start cooking. I can’t think of a better way to step into someone else’s shoes then to eat how they do – food is truly a common denominator.

We found ourselves eating salmon again this week  - Wild-Caught Coho is on sale at Whole Foods, and that’s just too good to pass up. I wanted something completely different that the miso we had last week though, so I was perusing some links Mark found – the recipe section of Fish Alaska magazine. . . Moroccan Style Wild Alaska Salmon caught my eye…I’ve always wanted to try and make Moroccan food…and I thought “What Would Sarah Do” ? She’d go for it, of course…and so did I J

Since it was a weeknight and I was trying a new main dish, I took it easy on myself with the sides…Toasted Almond Rice Pilaf (yep, the Near East one) and a wonderful salad of tender butter lettuce, multicolored peppers, tomatoes, English cucumbers, and red onion. Both were easy and delicious.

The salmon and Charmoula Sauce definitely got three thumbs up. The guys weren’t as enamored of the raita – they felt the salmon didn’t need it – but I enjoyed it, so am leaving the recipe here. Perfect wine match : Pouilly-Fuissé. We're picky about white wines - has to be a good one to pass muster around here - and this was really perfect, flavorful enough to stand up to the flavors we had going on here.

Moroccan Style Wild Alaska Salmon
Adapted from Fish Alaska magazine

2  ½ lbs salmon fillets, bones removed, cut into 4 pieces.

Charmoula Sauce
Mix in small bowl:
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tbsp sweet paprika
2 tsp kosher salt
dash white pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Place in food processor:
4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup Italian flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup cilantro
juice of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lime
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 lime
1/2 cup olive oil

Add first spice mixture to above ingredients in food processor. With motor running slowly add olive oil until blended well.

Drizzle half of Charmoula Sauce on both sides of salmon. Set in fridge until ready to grill.

1/2 small seedless cucumber, chopped
2 tbsp chopped red onion
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp lemon juice
salt and white pepper to taste

Process in food processor until smooth. This is part of the garnish and gives the Charmoula Sauce a little contrast, as it is cool and smooth.

Preheat grill (oil grill grates so fish doesn’t stick) .

Cook salmon about 3 to 5 minutes per-side-per-inch of thickness, flip and cook until done to your liking, about 3 to 5 more minutes, depending on thickness of fish. Be careful not to overcook! (Note : we did this without flipping – we used skin on salmon and put skin side down, then just put lid down on grill…worked great) . Remove salmon to platter.

Drizzle reserved Charmoula Sauce on salmon fillets. Drizzle a little Raita Sauce atop salmon. Drizzle a little of Charmoula Sauce and Raita on plate. Garnish with additional cilantro, parsley, tomato and lemon.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

better than takeout Chinese :)

Beef and Broccoli Lo Mein, Mandu

so yesterday, I found myself with too much broccoli on my hands. Mark had purchased broccoli instead of my requested asparagus for the Oktoberfest meal...broccoli just wasn't going to go. (Oh, and Mark would like me to tell the blogosphere that I'm the one that came up with the spice mix for the sauerbraten....he thinks I'm not taking enough credit :) ).

Usually an abundance of broccoli in my house would be turned into my famous Chicken, Broccoli and Ziti....mine is an alfredo sort of version though, and the boy can't go off and serve his country until he's down to fighting weight...not easy with me as a mother, that's for sure ! Whilst perusing the Cooking Light website for ideas, I found a Beef and Broccoli Lo Mein recipe which I thought could be easily adapted to meet the dining requirements of my audience (plenty of meat, for one, and not so heavy on the onion) . The boy loves lo mein, and contrary to popular belief I am a nice mom :) I used sambal oelek because I love the stuff, but really whatever type of chili paste you may have around would work fine.

To complete the meal, I served this with some mandu which I had in the freezer (H Mart again) - basically just pan fry according to directions. The mandu were very good, but I still haven't found ones to match up to the ones I grew up on (I'm kind of part adopted Korean, in case you didn't know :) ) . Once I do, you'll be sure to hear about it. I was very happy with the dipping sauce I came up with though, so I will share that with you all.

tonight's plan is Moroccan.....tune in tomorrow !

Beef-Broccoli Lo Mein
(adapted from Cooking Light)

12 oz Chinese noodles or vermicelli, cooked
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups chopped broccoli
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 pounds flank steak, trimmed and cut across the grain into long, thin strips
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon sambal oelek (chili paste)

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Combine pasta and
sesame oil, tossing well to coat.

While pasta cooks, heat peanut oil in a large wok or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the
ginger and garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Add broccoli and onion; sauté 3 minutes. Add steak, and
sauté 5 minutes or until done. Add pasta mixture, soy sauce, and remaining ingredients; cook 1
minute or until lo mein is thoroughly heated, stirring constantly.

Soy-Ginger-Scallion Dipping Sauce

This works well for any kind of Asian-style dumpling or egg/spring roll....

1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tsp sugar 
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons chopped scallions

Combine everything except the scallions in a medium bowl. Whisk or stir well to dissolve the sugar. Stir in scallions. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Oktoberfest !

oh yeah baby !!
So, Sundays at my house are all about two things : football, and food. My goal is always to do something that I can mostly have done prior to the kickoff of the 1 PM game...possibly something last minute that I can do during halftime (after the highlights of the other games of course).

This past Sunday, the decision was made to do a Sauerbraten - sort of a happy early Oktoberfest :). I love German food...I am German (well 1/4 anyway), but it's not just that. It's happy memories of my childhood, yes..even though its only one quarter, it's a quarter I identify very strongly with - and food-wise, something I did get to see in action quite often (though I SO wish I had taken better notes !) .  Sauerbraten is basically a pickled roast - marinated at least three days, though Oma had a system where she'd marinate it for two weeks. Bit scary, that :). However long you marinate it, when you're ready to cook it, you basically go pot roast style - brown the sides, then cook. On top of the stove works fine, but we usually bake it in the oven...then take it out and thicken the gravy with gingersnaps. Rotkohl (red cabbage) and Kartoffelkloesse (German potato dumplings) are the usual accompaniments around here - Mark loves red cabbage, and the dumplings were one of Oma's specialties. It's taken me a while to perfect them - I think having her potato ricer is key :). We call them "footballs", since that's what my mom called them growing up - who the heck can say "Kartoffelkloesse" ? . (According to my sister everyone in Germany calls them footballs, but that's a story for another time :) ) 

Mark is definitely the master when it comes to Sauerbraten. The Martins were already well versed in German food even before I married in, courtesy of some Austrian heritage. I just pitch in where assigned :).  He usually does the red cabbage as well...but the footballs are all mine :)

Sauerbraten , Martin style

Marinade :

1 1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 cups water
2 large onions, chopped
6 stalks celery,  chopped
6 carrots, chopped fine
8 peppercorns, 8 whole cloves, and 8 whole allspice berries - cracked in mortar and pestle
1/4 tsp mustard seed

5 lb bottom round roast

Mix all marinade ingredients, then place in ziplock bag. Poke holes in roast, place in bag, and marinate for at least three days in fridge, turning at least once a day.

Brown all sides in pan. Bake in covered pan (we use stoneware, but a heavy pan with foil will do) with 2 cups of the marinade liquid - 350 for 30 minutes, then 325 for about three more hours.

Gravy - strain remaining marinade into saucepan, and simmer on stove for 30 minutes. Put in blender with 8 - 10 gingersnaps (or use immersion blender), then return to saucepan for another 10-15 minutes, until nice and thick.

Rotkohl (Red Cabbage)

1/2 pound bacon
1 onion
2 apples
1 head red cabbage, chopped.
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Saute bacon in Dutch oven. Remove and saute onion in fat a bit, then add rest of ingredients. Add bacon back in and simmer for about three hours. Salt and pepper to taste.

Kartoffelkloesse (German potato dumplings)

Makes about 9. Easily doubled.

6 potatoes
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup potato starch
dash of nutmeg, shake of salt
9 croutons - usually I use a slice of good German wheat bread pumpernickel, cubed up and sauteed in a little butter

Peel and boil the potatoes until done, then run though a ricer (or mash well, if you don't have one) Let cool a bit, then mix in the egg, flour, potato starch, nutmeg and salt . Take some in your hand and form each dumpling around a crouton - it should come together almost like making a good heavy snowball. If it't hard to work with or starts falling apart, just add more potato starch to the mixture.

Take a large but sort of shallow saucepan, fill about 2/3 way halfway with water and bring to a boil. Drop the dumplings in - don't crowd the pan, if you can't fit them all you're much better off using two pans. Lower the heat to a simmer and simmer them about 20 minutes.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

tasty fishes

Miso salmon, Asian coleslaw, rice...
So this blog is more a funny story about the foodie I've raised - though since it's me, there is actually food involved. The whole idea started because a) sockeye salmon was on sale at Stop + Shop and b) I had some tasty miso glaze in the fridge from my last trip to H Mart. Ahh...H Mart...there will be a whole blog shortly about H Mart, as I'm planning a field trip soon...but I digress.

Marinating the fish for miso glazed salmon takes about two hours, and I was stymied as to how to get this done after work (as the fish was not in residence at the time). Suddenly, light dawned...I have a teenager at home currently doing...nothing. I left him a detailed shopping list (3 items, with a guide to where in the store to find them), my Stop + Shop card, and more than enough money. Or so I thought...

My cell phone rings at work. "Mom, they're out of sockeye". I inquire as to the availability of other types of salmon..."Nope. I don't like the look of it. I'm going to Whole Foods". Mind you, this kid is on a bike, and the Whole Foods is a few miles away. "Up to you", I say.

"Ring a ding ding ding dong..." (yes, his ring is the one from the Geico ad. Don't ask). "Well", he says, "I got the salmon...the only one I liked was the king, and it was expensive but I think it was worth it:. I'll put it in the marinade in a little while". I'm actually cracking up by now, as I ask how much. "$42", he says.

Only my kid would be sent to the store for $15 worth of sockeye and come home with the most gorgeous $42 king salmon fillet you ever saw - via a 5 mile bicycle trip - simply because he wouldn't compromise for inferior fish.

I'm so proud :).

The only recipe I'm giving here isn't even much of a recipe. The miso salmon was just the purchased marinade and that gorgeous, gorgeous fish, and the rice was pretty stock (though we use chicken stock instead of water to make it). The coleslaw is really just a very quick throw-together, I'm embarassed to even give the recipe (more directions, actually) but it's really yummy and goes great with any kind of Asian here you go :

Karen's Asian Coleslaw

1 package coleslaw veggies (regular and/or broccoli both work well )
1 bottle ginger dressing (I use Makoto)....1/2 bottle if you're using one of the small bags of coleslaw mix
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon sesame seeds.

That's about it...toss and enjoy :)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

North Shore road trip

Decided to get out of the house for a bit in the race car (2010 Hyundai Genesis coupe...I know, this isn't a car blog -but the race car ROCKS !) and headed north. Recently acquired a great little book, Food Lovers Guide to Massachusetts ...this is a great foodie assist tool if, like me, you like to just get in the car and check stuff out. The book has everything food related - cool stores, farm stands, restaurants, recipes, name it. My goal is to go to every one...I'll never make it of course, but it's nice to dream :).

One of the places mentioned in the book is Russell Orchards , in Ipswich (on the road to Crane's Beach. This place is a pick-your-own produce place on crack...there's the picking (over 25 varieties of apples alone), the farm animals to see, the live bluegrass band out in the field, and a huge farm stand-type store with hot apple cider donuts being made while you wait. Of course, we were really there for the booze...the farm has their own winery, and they are doing some amazing stuff with fruit wines (plus things like dandelion wine) as well as ciders and perry (pear cider). These aren't sickly sweet, Boone's Farm, fluffy swill...these are serious wines, complex and delicious. They had some out to taste, all of which were excellent...we came home with wild blueberry, blackberry, a slightly sweet cider (they have sweet, slightly sweet, dry and sparkling), and a perry. Snapped a few pics at this stop, sorry I didn't get more :

the pumpkin truck
time to make the donuts...
the goods !
I have to say, the cider donuts were absolutely fantastic - piping hot, a little crunchy on the outside from the hot fat, and all apple-y, spicy goodness inside. Mmmmmm......

The next stop on our trip was JT Farnham's, in Essex. I am a huge, huge fried clam nut - have to have them at least once every summer, usually multiple times. Seriously one of my most favorite foods ever. Woodman's, in Essex, has always been one of my favorite spots, but I've been curious about Farnham's ever since they won the Food Network "Food Feud" with Woodman's this year. Finally got the chance to go there today...and while I still love Woodman's, I have to say...these were better. Excellent clam flavor, not too greasy, and crunchy right down to the bottom of the box. Perfect, perfect, perfect...a true culinary orgasm :) Farnham's doesn't have a website, so no link...but here's a picture :

not the best picture - these deserved better !
Fisherman's Brew was a perfect match, by the way...when in doubt, go for the locally brewed beer !

Last stop on our foodie tour was McKinnon's Meat Market, in Danvers. I was hoping to find a boned whole turkey breast (for an amazing looking recipe in the Guide), and Mark's coworkers speak quite highly of McKinnon's. Sadly, they didn't have a boned one (yes, I'll be boning my own :) )....but I think they had every other kind  of meat...definitely carnivore heaven ! Everything looked to be of really high quality, but what struck me the most is they had all kinds of already seasoned / prepared meats for you to cook at home...everything from bracciole to buffalo wings. Part of being a foodie girl is that I love to do my own prep, but I could see this being a great resource if you were in a hurry or were having a big party or something. We did pick up a bunch of store-made sausages, which I'm sure I'll be reporting on once we try them out. They look awesome, though !

Came home very tired, but full and happy. Just my kind of day :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

dinner at Tempo

so last night was dinner at Tempo - one of our favorite bistros within walking distance. Bit pricey, but the food is usually amazing - to me, well worth it. And did I mention "walking distance" ?

Dinner started with the Japanese Plum Martini :

Japanese Plum Martini - this is why we like to walk :)
 This delightful concoction consists of Pearl Plum Vodka, Ginger Syrup, Fresh Lime Juice and a splash of Red Wine. Garnished with candied ginger, it's smooth and very tasty - not too sweet.

Appetizers were Oysters, Italian Style and Polenta Fries with Smoked Tomato Remoulade :

The oysters were a special - baked with breadcrumbs, prosciutto, cheese, and tomato sauce. Tasted fantastic, though I will concede to Mark that you didn't get a lot of oyster taste out of them. The polenta fries...OMG. We'd seen these as a special before and were very excited to see they have been added as a regular appetizer. Polenta cut into "fries" and fried is wonderful on its own, but the remoulade really kicks it into the stratosphere - smoky, spicy, rich...mmm mmm good !

We both ended up ordering the same thing for dinner - lobster mac and cheese :

This is a dish I make at home myself...and not to be all about me, but mine is pretty damn kickass. I've also ordered it out - the Capital Grille version was my inspiration to learn how to make it - and every time, it's been some variation of pasta, creamy cheesy sauce, and lobster all mixed together. We were both rather surprised to be served a crock of a decent - but not amazing - mac and cheese (will post my famous recipe sometime, but here's a tip : breadcrumbs must be buttered, and don't put a layer of dry cheese on top of the dry breadcrumbs) ...with half a small poached lobster on the side. I tend not to ever order plain lobster out as I'm spoiled by fresh Cushing lobsters, so I was a bit taken aback by this turn of events. But a good foodie rises to the occasion - so I chopped that sucker up and mixed him right in (Picture was taken before these events, I relocated the claw myself for effect). End result : decent, but not my favorite thing I've ever ordered there.

Dessert, we're talking :

Tropical Dream....still dreaming about it !
Quoting directly from Tempo's menu..."Layered Coconut Cake Soaked with Malibu, Mango Mousse, Vanilla Mousse, Passion Fruit Sauce (Tempo Staff Favorite! Very Light and Refreshing)". Excellent description - refreshing, different, and very, very tasty !

One final note : we were lucky enough to go on a night that they were having a half-price wine sale - there was a list of very nice bottles all half off. We ended up with a  Robert Sinskey Abraxas 2008, Carneros which is a white wine blend  - there are four grapes: Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Gewürztraminer, and Riesling. Sometimes blends can be a little scary, but this was excellent, and a perfect match for the meal.

Don't let my few quibbles scare you off...Tempo is a standout on a street of great food options. Definitely go !

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Football Food !!

well, the menu got juggled a bit...never got around to making the brownies, everyone was way too full ! And I really need to start taking blog pictures with my real camera instead of the crackberry....but for now, this will do.  

Here's what we ended up with :

Italian Paninis
Buffalo Wings
Onion Rings
Frijoles Borrachos
Pepperjack Cornbread

Not really a recipe for the Paninis - your basic Italian :). Ciabatta roll layered with a little olive spread, prosciotto, capicola, sopresata, mortadella, provolone, hot peppers and lettuce. Should have grabbed a pic - delicious !

Wings and rings are two of Mark's specialties...

Buffalo Wings

1/4 cup margarine, melted. (You have to use margarine; otherwise it doesn't coat the wings right)
1/2 cup Texas Pete hot sauce
few generous shakes of Chipotle Tabasco
large package of chicken wings

Deep fries the wings - 12 minutes at 375 in the deep fryer - then toss with the sauce. Serve with blue cheese dressing and plenty of beer...

Onion Rings

For these, he basically slices up onions into thin rings and soaks them in buttermilk for a half hour. Drain, shake in a bag with flour, then deep fry....375 again; they take about four minutes. Sprinkle with salt as soon as you take them out of the deep fryer.

Oh, and Mark says always use canola oil in your deep fryer.

Frijoles Borrachos.

This recipe is mine...sort of evolved, from a bunch of different recipes and a lot of trial and error. Frijoles are beans, and "borracho" is drunken - and yes, these involve beer.

1 16 oz package of dry pinto beans

1 package double smoked bacon (12 oz ? )
1 medium sized onion (diced)
2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
12oz (1 can or bottle) beer
2 cups chicken stock
1 - 2 chipotles, toasted and diced, stems and seeds removed
1 tablespoon dried cilantro
Cumin (optional)
Salt to taste

Soak beans overnight OR use “quick soak” method on bag
Saute bacon in pan until somewhat crispy
Saute onion and garlic in bacon fat until translucent
Combine beans, bacon, onion and garlic, and rest of ingredients except salt in crockpot, and stir well. Add more liquid if needed to cover beans.
Cook on high one hour, then on low for 5 – 6 hours or until tender. Check occasionally and add more liquid if it goes below top of beans.
Salt to taste

Pepperjack Cornbread

Yes, Southern folks, I know "real" cornbread doesn't involve sugar....but I'm a Yankee, and I need a little in there. This one definitely is not as sweet as most - really hardly at all - and the pepperjack cheese is just awesome in it, though this bread is good without it too. Light, moist, and delicious. The buttermilk is really key, as the slight acidity reacts with the baking powder to create the lightness. If you don't have any but really want cornbread (though not quite as spectacular), put two tablespoons white vinegar in a one cup measuring cup, fill the rest of the cup with milk, and let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. Or you can sub half sour cream/plain yogurt and half milk.

1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable/canola oil
1 egg, beaten
about a half pound block of pepperjack cheese, cut into largeish cubes

Heat oven to 400, and grease a 9 inch square pan. Mix dry ingredients, then stir in wet ones and combine just until moist. Add cheese last..spread in pan. Bake 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick stuck in the non-cheesy parts comes out clean. Serve warm.

Oh, and most important....Pats won. GO PATS !!

NFL !!!

Oh, and you know there's food going down...Italian Cold Cut Panninis, Mark's Buffalo Wings, Frijoles Borrachos, Pecan Brownies...

Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Goodbye Earl

well, Earl himself was a bit of a dud...few leaves down in my yard but that was it. Had lots of fun waiting for him though...what else is a self-respecting foodie to do but to hunker down....and chow down ? And what better way to welcome a hurricane...but Hurricanes ? Mark was in charge of those, opening oysters, and crab cakes (Paula Deen's recipe is great) contribution was my grandmother's clam fritters, and my own quickie Cajun Remoulade.

recipes follow the pictures....

Hurricanes !

mmm oysters...

crab cakes cooking away
clam fritters with Cajun Remoulade

The Recipes :


2 oz light rum
2 oz dark rum
2 oz passion fruit juice
1 oz orange juice
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1 tbsp simple syrup
1 tbsp grenadine

Shake all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a hurricane glass. Garnish with a cherry and an orange slice

Mark's Basic Cocktail Sauce :
(all measurements very approximate)
2 T horseradish
2 T ketchup
2 t lemon juice
dash of chipotle Tabasco to taste (we like a lot :) )

Mix together and serve

Karen’s Quickie Cajun Remoulade
(this is good on all sorts of things...last night it went with the clam fritters and the crab cakes)

2 minced scallions
1 ½ cups Hellmans
¼ cup ketchup
1 T prepared mustard
1 t garlic powder
1 t celery salt
½ t chipotle powder
½ t Tabasco
2 minced white anchovies

 Mix well....good to let sit about 15 minutes or so for the flavors to meld 
Clam Fritters 
(I'm still trying to perfect this one to come out like Grammy's...this is pretty close though ! ) 
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
dash of salt
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup milk
2 cups chopped clams (save the liquid) 
Mix together flour, baking powder, soda, and salt. Combine with egg and milk. Mix in clams and enough of their liquid to make fritter batter....should be somewhat stiff, but you should still be able to drop it off a spoon. Fry in hot oil in a skillet, turning once, until nice and brown on both sides.
Paula Deen's Crab Cakes

1 pound crabmeat, picked free of shells
1/3 cup crushed Ritz crackers 
3 green onions (green and white parts), finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 egg
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
Dash cayenne pepper

Flour, for dusting

1/2 cup oil

In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients, except for the flour and oil. Shape into patties and dust with flour.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, carefully place crab cakes, in batches, in pan and fry until browned, about 4 to 5 minutes. Carefully flip crab cakes and fry on other side until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Serve warm.