Breakfast Soup

August 31, 2010

Zucchini and Corn Soup w/ a Poached Egg

I’ve been loving the combination of zucchini and corn. As these vegetables both seem to be in peak season, their flavors are primed for blending. And what better way to blend than with a soup. With the addition of onion and garlic along with some curry powder and spinach for color, this soup developed such a fantastic balance of sweetness and savory flavors that I could only wish I had made more.

But good soup needs a garnish. And what better to play off that sweetness than with savory jalapeno corn bread croutons? Corn bread is one of my favorite things to make because of how easy it is. Plus the prep and cook time is minimal. But the main ingredient to a delicious corn bread (at least in my mind) is the hold back on the sugar. Let fresh corn bring the subtlety and add some spice or creaminess with jalapenos or cheddar cheese.  

But even with the corn bread croutons, there was something else needed. A running yolk poached egg added the richness that was missing and trust me, we pretty much devoured this meal. But we couldn’t help but think (and voice) how “breakfasty” it seemed. Now it wasn’t my intention to make a breakfast soup but there is no question: I would definitely have to put this on my brunch menu. Now all I need are those investors…any takers?


Recipe Re-do

August 30, 2010

Recipe Re-Do: Glazed Baby-back Ribs

 As you can tell, I rarely re-do food. The obvious exception is when I’m catering and a few favorites continue to make the cut (see panzanella).  But when I’m cooking for myself, it’s always about creating something new. Not that I’m taking credit for anything. Cooking techniques have been passed down as long as we’ve been eating, and even the most progressive cooks have simply found a way to manipulate and optimize methods that have been used forever. For example, doesn’t sous-vide cooking combine principles of marination and poaching? 

The development of these techniques is why I love to cook.

So when I posted about these ribs a few months back, something lingered in my head. I loved the flavor but they just weren’t right. The meat was tender but we all know, tender just doesn’t cut it for bbq. Simply put, there was room for improvement. And it was all about time and temperature. I had treated the ribs in question with quite a bit of attention. Homemade dry rub, low and slow in a 275 degree oven, but the major mistake:  just not enough time. While 275 may be a great temperature over the course of many hours, 325 for two hours was all they needed.

Taking a page from Em’s Aunt (remember the pies), 325 for about two hours followed by a quick half hour at 375 slathered in my sauce made these ribs not just tender, but fall off the bone, lick your fingers until they are gone tender. And rather than an elaborate dry rub, I seasoned the ribs with just a bit of salt, black pepper, cinnamon, and paprika. Rather than tasting the seasoning alone, you could really taste the pork. And what better meal to serve a bunch of high school buddies celebrating the soon to be marriage of one of our friends than these recipe re-done ribs! Congrats Fitz!

What did the parent tomato say to the baby tomato…

August 27, 2010

Homemade Ketchup

It’s safe to say that when it comes to Ketchup, Heinz represents the overwhelming favorite. Think about it. It’s a rare occurrence but when you go to smother your fries and you see some other label, or worse, you taste an imposter that was filled into the classic Heinz bottle it’s a pretty big disappointment. And I would bet that 99.99% of American pantries have a bottle of Heinz ketchup right this very moment. What about that .01%…that’s me.

For no real reason, I haven’t had ketchup in the apartment for over a year. I just never use it. Not that I have anything against the stuff, it’s just never been a need on the shopping list. So with another round of amazing tomatoes, I decided I’d make my own. Because if I make it myself, I’m sure to use it.

New Batch of Tomatoes

You can find a number of recipes online but I decided to go with my gut instead. Onion and garlic, apple cider vinegar, tomatoes, and mini bell peppers made up the bulk of my ketchup that was spiked with jalapeno, curry powder, and paprika. With just a bit of sugar (the tomatoes have so much sweetness as it is) my “recipe” turned out amazing. I can’t wait to dive in. But what the hell should I put it on? You pick it, I’ll cook it…

Art as Science

August 26, 2010

Richard Perry/The New York Times

No cooking last night because, well sometimes I just need Totonno’s Pizza. Not to start that argument again but it’s by far my favorite pizza. And the perfect order includes a large caesar salad and a pitcher of sangria. For the NY pizza enthusiasts out there who haven’t tried Totonno’s, go give it a shot and let me know what you think… 

But I had to post quickly about this article I found in the times’ science section. After reading it, only one question came to mind: Do we really need an art exhibit to prove McDonald’s offerings are unhealthy and poor in quality? And maybe even more importantly (okay so there were a few questions) if you are going to make an art exhibit that attempts to show the effects of fast food on ants, wouldn’t you want to use the ants that have evolved to eat as carnivores and omnivores? Seems a bit odd, but I’m always the first to admit that this type of art often baffles me. It’s the practical side of mine. Any thoughts?

Iron Deficiency

August 25, 2010

Grilled Steak w/ Raw Corn and Watermelon Salsa

If you couldn’t tell by the plethora of pesce posting (needed some italian for that alliteration), I love cooking with seafood. Particularly in the summer, when light and refreshing dishes are a must, there is nothing better than fish and shellfish. But all that aside, sometimes all I want is a medium rare piece of beef!

I had been craving a steak for a few days and had been thinking of accompaniments to keep the dish summer appropriate. That watermelon salsa I had made last week had come to mind but a simple repeat would not suffice. This time I added some fresh raw corn because while everyone has been obsessing on tomatoes, there’s been some pretty awesome corn this year as well! With a little heat from a serrano chile, this salsa went great with this seared to perfection steak.

I’ve been trying my best to purchase the local grass fed beef whenever possible. For a multitude of reasons I buy into the quality that is being offered and quite frankly if you are careful, the best cuts shouldn’t cost you too much more than the alternative. The one caveat to grass fed beef is that it’s much closer to game meat in terms of the fat content. Typically the grass fed cattle are leaner which means cooking their offerings requires a bit of attention. If you are not a medium rare meat eater, grass fed may not be for you.

But back to the dish! With a bit of smashed avocado and some quickly toasted pita, this meal definitely did the trick. Craving officially squashed!

Progressive Dining

August 24, 2010

Lime and Paprika Hake w/ Mexican Corn

A while back I created and served what I called a “progressive dinner“. Each dish contained one ingredient from the previous course. For example, a mushroom and asparagus salad followed a mushroom and pork soup dumpling. Showcasing the versatility of fresh ingredients particularly well, the 6 course meal was a huge hit for the 3 couples I had cooked for.

Well, this Lime and Paprika Hake w/ Mexican Corn would have been the perfect progressive entrée for that roasted corn and tomato soup I posted yesterday.

I’ve mentioned Mexican Corn a number of times previously; mainly because I’m obsessed with it. Typically smothered in mayo, cheese (like cotija), and paprika the combination of flavors is a bit addicting. I decided to roll my corn in a simple lime vinaigrette prior to adding the corn and paprika and while I do love the mayo, the punch of the citrus was a really nice addition.

I’m really loving this Hake that has been on sale at Whole Foods. I normally don’t talk about prices but for $5.99 a pound this week, I can’t get enough of it. It looks and tastes a lot like cod but is a bit meatier. It’s been great pan seared with simple seasonings but I would bet it’s a great fish for tacos as well! This time I served it over a simple red bean and cheese salad rounding out the meal fantastically!

But to be honest, I could have just eaten that Mexican Corn! So good!

All in Agreement

August 23, 2010

Roasted Corn and Tomato Soup w/ Hake

In New York, people seem to be talking about one of two things these days. One involves religious freedom and a whole lot of intense opinions. The other is something everyone seems to agree on. Which is why I prefer to talk about the latter. Because seemingly every year, the anticipation and the experience that is tomato season sweeps over the area knocking tomato lovers and haters a like right on their asses. You’d be hard-pressed to go a day without hearing someone say something about tomatoes! And since you are reading this post now, I’d say today is not the day!

The most recent variety out of the CSA were vibrant and sweet “prize tomatoes”. And not three or four, but fourteen! Being that using them all sliced or diced seemed a bit daunting I developed some intensely comforting flavor with this roasted corn and tomato soup. Rendering out bacon fat to cook the onions, garlic and tomatoes in, worked amazingly to add a bit of smokiness to balance with that undeniable sweetness. Pan roasting straight off the husk summer corn with a bit of diced zucchini made a perfect resting place for a piece of seared Hake. This soup screamed summer. And with the little bit of fish, this dinner wasn’t missing a thing.

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