Sunday, June 24, 2012

Orange Tarragon Marmalade


i don't know about you, but i'm a big HUGE fan of  SWEET and SAVORY.
for instance, i miss the Rosco's Chicken and Waffles i used to get in L.A.  crunchy, well seasoned fried chicken and a fluffy, crisp golden waffle with a bottomless dispenser of sweet maple syrup to pour on every bite.  if you've never tried it or you think it's an odd combo, i suggest you investigate.  you'll become a believer in no time.  i'm not really after the waffles but the genius who decided that maple syrup and fried chicken would be good together should get a James Beard award.

i also miss dining out and seeing Duck a l'orange on a stuffy French menu...i guess i'm dating myself...i guess it's too old school.  but again...the sweet and savory.  that syrupy orange glaze dripping over the crispy skin of a perfectly cooked duck breast.  mmmm...delicious!


well,  with those two things locked in memory, i came up with this marmalade.
don't get me wrong here...this is outstanding on a fresh scone, crumpet, popover, muffin, pound cake or any old bread, but put in on some fried chicken or a ham and cheese fried egg biscuit and we have a WINNER!

heck...this stuff is good just on a spoon!

sounds like i'm tootin' my horn again...well i am on this one...




ORANGE TARRAGON MARMALADE
adapted from Ina Garten and Anna's Orange Marmalade

4 large seedless navel oranges
2 lemons
7 cups sugar
2 heaping Tbsp fresh grated ginger, grated on a cheese grater
2 large sprigs of fresh tarragon
1 heaping tsp dried tarragon tied in a cheesecloth pouch
2 cloves roasted garlic, pulverized to paste and mixed with orange water.

cut the oranges and lemons in half crosswise, then into very thin half moon slices.  discard any seeds.  place sliced fruit and their juices into stainless steel pot.  add 8 cups water and bring to a boil, stirring often.  remove from heat and stir in sugar until it dissolves.  cover pot and allow to stand overnight at room temperature.

the next day, add the sprigs of tarragon, the tarragon pouch, the ginger and the roasted garlic mixture and bring the mixture to a boil.  reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 2 hours. ***don't forget to put a small plate in the freezer for your plate test.  remove tarragon sprigs.  turn heat up to medium and boil gently, stirring often for another 30 minutes.  skim any foam that you can...don't get obsessed with the skimming.  it will not be a problem.  when almost to temp, throw in a few leaves of tarragon...more than just a few.  you want to see the tarragon in the marmalade.  cook the marmalade until it reaches 220 F degrees on a candy thermometer.  remove tarragon pouch.
do a plate test.  if it's firm, not runny...it's ready, it's done.  it should be a lovely golden orange color.  if it is runny, continue to cook until the plate test works for you or if it's too hard add more water, stir and bring back to temp.

pour the marmalade into clean, sterilized jars and continue with the canning procedure...or let come to room temp and refrigerate for use.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cured Pork Belly Roasted with Apple, Onion and Brown Sugar


PORK BELLY WINS AGAIN.

i go to the Asian market every few weeks just to pick up some fresh tofu and some chili oil...maybe a few sweets for Dad from the bakery next door...

how does that darn pork belly jump into my shopping cart every single time ? !


mmmmm...the pork belly is succulent, the bacon is crispy, the onion and gala apple are caramelized in brown sugar and pork fatty goodness...
HOW DOES ONE RESIST ?
even the nay-sayers will bow to the pork belly...
it's very hard to ruin and it is so versatile.  so many ways to cook and so many ways to present.
you can't go wrong...


THE HEART ATTACK NAPOLEON ?
pork belly stacked with brown sugar-butter sauteed apple topped with caramelized onion.  i hear the sirens approaching.  
defibrillator...CLEAR !

the 1st one was a bit small and only had skin on half...so i covered it with bacon and it was crunchy, smoky, baconie, fatty and delicious

2nd time...bigger slab with more skin/fat, no need for bacon wrap.  i used more apples and brown sugar...yumm.  these apples remained in large enough pieces to serve with the belly.



CURED PORK BELLY ROASTED WITH APPLES ONION AND BROWN SUGAR

CURING THE BELLY
i suppose this could be done in a ziploc freezer bag, but i like to use a tupperware or glass/ceramic loaf pan so that the skin is not soaking in the cure...what ever will fit the piece of pork belly you have bought.

1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1-2 tsp fresh ground pepper

buy yourself a 2-3 lb. slab of belly with skin...no bones
i like to wash and dry it completely with paper towels before doing the cure.
completely cover the belly with the mixture.  place skin/fat side up in non-reactive container just big enough to fit. cover and let sit in fridge for at least 24 hours. this is the all important curing process. after about 12 hrs you can pour some of the liquid out of the container. i did. 

after 24 hrs remove and wash remaining salt/sugar mixture off under cool water. dry completely. take a sharp sharp knife and cut slits through the skin but not to the flesh. i cut about every 1/2  inch or so.
if skin is removed just put some shallow slashes into the fat.

COOKING THE PORK BELLY

1 large white onion
2 gala or honey crisp apples...something sweet and crisp
brown sugar
bacon, if the belly has no skin
cut 1 large white onion into thick slices and layer the bottom of a roasting pan lined with heavy tin foil.  put pork belly on the onions...this is sort of a trivet to keep the pork off the bottom of the roasting pan.  if you want to use the bacon method then remove the skin, not the fat, from the pork belly...(some are only sold without the skin) and cover the top with the bacon strips as shown in photo.  place apple slices nice and snug around as shown in photos.  this  prevents the sides from getting too brown AND lets the apples cook in pork fatty goodness.  sprinkle brown sugar all around the sides on and around apples.

there are 2 ways to cook the belly...low and slow for the whole time...or Jamie Oliver's method.  i suggest if you are using the bacon on top you do the low and slow method so the bacon won't burn.
NOTE...i did not get a crisp crunchy skin with either method.  i was not concerned because i knew i would be refrigerating this and consuming the next day.  the skin should crisp in the pan or broiler later.  if it doesn't want to crisp up, just discard the skin and sear the fatty side before serving.

Jamie Oliver method ....put oven to "full whack" 450 F for the first thirty minutes and then down to 350 F for the next 2 hours...or until really fork tender.  this is a fabulous recipe that you might want to start with if you are unfamiliar with pork belly....straight up crispy skin roasted pork belly...delicious!

Low and slow...put in 225 F degree oven for 5-6 hours or until meat is very fork tender.  this depends on the size of your belly (the PORK belly, silly).  remove from oven and let cool as is. when cool enough, put it in the fridge for at least a few hours. this makes for easy slicing and preparing and way you see fit... and you can keep it there for the week as you whittle away at the slab.  slice against the grain and sear in a hot pan...or put a large slice in the oven to warm and then turn your broiler on to crisp the skin.

do with it what you will...
you can't go wrong with a delicious slab of apple brown sugar pork belly.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Raspberry Chipotle Jam


not to toot my own horn or anything, BUT......

this has got to be one of the TOP 5 things i have ever made.

sweet raspberries, spicy-smoky chipotle, tangy lemon AND a secret savory ingredient that no one can figure out...shhh, it's a clove of roasted garlic.  you don't know it's in there, but it gives an extra layer of flavor that sets this apart from the norm.

speaking of the norm...i couldn't find a recipe for raspberry chipotle jam anywhere.  well, i did find one and they used ground chipotle powder.  all the other recipes are for sauce.
i wanted a jam...so here is what i came up with.  i'm quite proud.  one friend told me i should quit my day job and just make jam...
just this jam...


i'm a newbie to the world of canning and i'm hooked already.  i just started at the beginning of May and i've already canned FIVE jams. if i can do it anyone can...can.  the hassle is the sterilizing, but with the right equipment and some delicious fresh summer fruit it really is easy.  i've got it down to about 2 1/2 - 3 hours from start to finish.  the most fun is coming up with interesting flavor combos.  i'll post the new ones soon and i have loads more jamalicious concoctions up my sleeve that i can't wait to try...

by the end of summer i'll need to build an extension off the kitchen for a bigger pantry.


RASPBERRY CHIPOTLE JAM
makes almost five 1/2 pint jars

2 1/4 pounds fresh raspberries...about 6 small plastic boxes
wash and let drain/dry raspberries a little on a paper towel covered cookie sheet
3 3/4 cups granulated sugar
juice of 1 lemon, strained to remove seeds
zest from said lemon
peel lemon with potato peeler and cut into thin-thin slivers as shown in photo
1 - 2 chipotle peppers, depending on size and your taste, mince into tiny bits
1  1/2 Tbsp adobo sauce from chipotle can
1 large clove of roasted garlic minced and smashed into paste
NOTE...roasted garlic is optional, but highly recommended.  no one will know it's there, but i definitely think it adds that unknown dimension of flavor.
if using...roast your garlic in foil, in the oven at 325 F for about 45 minutes, while sterilizing and prepping

sterilize your jars...i wash them and sterilize them in the oven so they are warm when ready to fill.  210F for 20 minutes then turn the oven off, but leave jars in warm oven. also in a small sauce pan bring some water to a boil, add lids and turn it off.  let lids sit until ready to use. don't forget to start your large canning bath water so it will all be ready for you when your jam is at the setting point.  this big tub of water takes a long time to heat.  put a couple small plates n the freezer for plate test.

combine all ingredients in a large stock pot...i use a tall one because of the spatter.
bring to a boil over medium heat.  cook, stirring and skimming foam from surface until mixture reached 221 F on a candy thermometer, approx. 10 - 15 minutes.  at this time do a plate test*.
NOTE...i just finished my second batch using the exact same recipe...it's not quite as hot and smoky tasting.  i guess that's a good thing because some said the first was a tad spicy.  same can of chipotles, but i guess it proves that peppers vary in heat.  if you are worried just start with one chipotle pepper with seeds removed.
ANOTHER NOTE...taste test half way through the process.  remember it is molten HOT!  take a small spoonful and let it cool before tasting.  you can add more chili and or adobo sauce if you like it spicier.

*plate test...pour a small amount of jam on to cold plate and put back in freezer...wait 2  minutes.  push your finger through it...if it wrinkles and doesn't look liquid then it is ready to be put in jars.  if not, return to heat and retest.

when your jam is at the setting point you can fill warm jars and process for canning...
OR screw on the lids, let come to room temp and refrigerate for use within 4-5 weeks, or as you would any opened jar of jam with no preservatives.


above is an example of the slivered lemon zest i mentioned.  i have done it this way for most of my jams.  it's fabulous to get that pop of unexpected citrus even when it's not mentioned on the label.  you can just use a microplane for the easy way, but this really IS much better.  use a potato peeler to get long wide strips then a sharp knife to sliver...watch those fingers.make them as fine as you can.




Saturday, June 9, 2012

Chicken Curry-Indian style


 a straight up Chicken Curry recipe.  my go-to sauce when i want something rich, warm and spicy.  i don't know how 'authentic' it is, being that Newport Beach is not the mecca of Indian cuisine...and i have not yet been to India, but it does the deal when craving something with a good deep garam masala curry flavor, not that boring yellow curry that i grew up with.  i do have another great curry recipe, but this one is so easy with no frills, no creamy coconut or yogurt sauce...just good curry.

the chicken is tender, the curry sauce is tasty, it's easy to throw together and it freezes well for reheating. i've made it quite a few times and always change up a little something, but i finally wrote down the basics.  you could easily add a little coconut milk or some plain Greek yogurt if you wanted to make it a creamy style curry.

 i'm not big on carbs so i usually serve this with some steamed cauliflower, but this would be a fabulous main dish over some basmati rice, cous cous or maybe wrapped up in some naan...even a soft flour tortilla or some pasta if you're feelin' like some fusion.

NOTE...i've made this with extra firm tofu as well.  one time i cubed and sauteed the tofu in a little olive oil before adding to the curry mixture.  the second time i just added it in cubed.  always drain and press your tofu before using so it will absorb all the flavors.  i just finished some that i had frozen and it was delicious...not quite as saucy but still very flavorful and didn't separate as some sauces might.


CHICKEN CURRY... INDIAN STYLE

2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 clove garlic, small dice
1-2 jalapeno, small dice (remove seeds if you can't handle the heat)
1 Tbsp grated ginger
1 1/4 lbs skinned boneless chicken thighs cut into large bite size.
2 cups chicken stock.  homemade or low sodium
1 Tbsp Madras curry
2 Tbsp Garam Masala curry
1 tsp Mexican chili powder (use your discretion)
zest from 1/2 lemon
a squeeze of lemon juice, more or less to taste
cilantro or parsley for garnish
salt and pepper to taste

saute onion, garlic, jalapeno and ginger in olive oil until onion is just translucent
add spices, stir in for 2-3 minutes to wake up the spices...until fragrant
add chicken and stir
add broth and incorporate all
let simmer until chicken is cooked through
curry sauce should thicken a bit.
add a bit of zest and a squeeze of lemon
taste for seasoning.  probably needs salt at this point
zest lemon and sprinkle parsley/cilantro over and serve.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Spicy Sausage Marinara (low carb Pasta)


i'll bet most home cooks have their own version of an Italian Marinara Sauce in their back pocket.

OR...know someone with the best red sauce recipe...OR you have your in-laws' Italian Grandma's hand written "gravy" recipe framed on the kitchen wall..well, i do know someone, but i usually just wait for her to have a big family dinner and hope for leftovers.  i just never turned out a good sauce for myself.  i must admit i've had a few batches of "just okay" or what i call "so-so sauces", but this one was tasty and good enough to share and post so i wouldn't forget.  i think it had a lot to do with the San Marzano Tomatoes, good spicy sausage and definitely the extra long cooking.  i'm not claiming any authentic Italian marinara here...just some good red meat sauce.  
it's pretty simple and comes together fairly quickly, but it really should cook for a few hours.  

so...i've finally learned the basics...set the day aside, buy the right ingredients, channel the Italian Grandma Gravy Gods...AND have my best friend Kim, whose a solid New York Italian known for her sauce, on speed dial...i think i called her 5 times.  maybe 6...


everyone's tastes are different so you might want to add a dash of something here and a smidgen of whatever there.  the key is to cook, stir, taste...cook some more and taste some more and so on.  i like my sauce thick and a little chunky with a bit of a kick.  too thick?...add stock or add some pasta water.  too chunky?...get out the immersion blender...to spicy?...add the pepper flakes toward the end or let the diners control the heat.  works well with any shape pasta, poured over steamed vegetables or this new "almost" spinach fettuccine i recently came across.


 let's talk a minute about this pasta...
it's NOT PASTA by any means,
BUT it is only 5 calories per serving!
believe it or not...this whole bowl with meat sauce has about 200 calories.


visually Pasta Slim does the trick.  we eat with our eyes and this truly looks like the real thing.
taste?...really has no flavor at all, but it does take on what ever you serve it with.
texture?... they are a little slippery right out of the bag and must be washed and dried as much as possible...and...some of the strands can be a bit long...like 4 feet long!... so they might need cutting.
other than that, they are a great diet, WHEAT FREE, carb conscious pasta substitute.
they definitely serve as a great vehicle for "sauce to mouth"


on with the recipe...

SPICY SAUSAGE MARINARA
makes about 6 - 7 cups.  use what you need then freeze the rest

1 med. yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced small
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
3 spicy Italian pork sausage
1 sweet Italian turkey sausage
(sausage equaling about 1 1/4 lbs.)
1 28oz can San Marzano peeled plum tomatoes
(cut up as they go in the pot.  don't lose juices)
1 15oz can San Marzano diced tomatoes
1 15 oz can San Marzano tomato sauce
2 big Tbsp San Marzano tomato paste
1 big tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
1 - 2 tsp dried red chili flakes (more or less)
5-7 fresh basil leaves, torn or chopped
3 big Tbsp grated parmigiano reggiano
2-3 cups water

in a large stock pot...
start with olive oil and onions (med. heat), then add garlic.  remove casing from sausage and add meat to the pot. lightly brown the meat until it's cooked through.  separate the sausage lumps while cooking...it should resemble hamburger meat. 
add all tomato ingredients (with all juices), dried herbs, chili flakes and 2 cups water.
bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  stir occasionally.
after about an hour...add parmigiano and fresh basil.  if it looks to thick add a little more water.
simmer for 1 more hour. 
 taste for seasoning.
it should be ready to serve at this point...BUT...it will get better and better if you cook it for at least another hour.
NOTE...my best friend Kim (New York-Italian) cooks hers alllll day long, but she makes a HUGE pot with pork chops instead of sausage...so it cooks until the meat is just falling apart.  it's enough to feed an army of hungry Italians.  i had her on the hot line as i was cooking and she said leave it on...let it cook.

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