Worth Her Salt


Archive for the ‘side dishes’ Category

Late Summer Lobster Salad

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

lobster

I’ve never cooked whole, live lobsters before. So when the local high-end grocery store, Sendik’s, had a one-day lobster sale, I figured it’d be a great time to try! $10 live ~1 lb lobsters. Awesome. I even avoided the first-come-first-serve fiasco by reserving them the day before.

My friend Lynn was having a cookout the next day, so I decided to use the lobsters in a dish to bring. It being late summer, there was plenty of gorgeous produce available at the farmer’s market, so I decided to make a lobster salad with sweet corn, tarragon and orange cherry tomatoes. And as another first, I made the mayonnaise from scratch. Because if you’re going to spend $20 on lobsters for a salad, you better make sure you use awesome ingredients with it!

The mayonnaise is an Alton Brown recipe, and was pretty easy. I initially used my immersion blender, and everything was going swimmingly until the emulsion decided to break about halfway through adding the oil. I have no idea what happened, but I switched to the old fashioned bowl and whisk for the next attempt. Of course, that worked perfectly, even if I had to ask Nick to hold the bowl steady for me while I whisked and added oil.

I was also hoping to have lobster fights on my kitchen floor, but alas, one of the lobsters was almost dead by how lethargic he was. So they simply went in the pot as soon as I brought them home. (I admit I was tempted to name one Pinchy and make him my pet and grow him until I accidentally cooked him in a too-hot bath, but that’s another story).

I served the salad on top of some crusty baguette slices that I drizzled with olive oil and toasted in the oven. I’m sure it’d be good on salad greens, as a lobster roll (though a complicated, sacrilegious one), in pita bread, or eaten with a fork straight from the bowl as I did with the leftovers!

Late Summer Lobster Salad

2 1lb live lobsters, cooked your preferred method (I chose to steam instead of boil)
2 ears of fresh sweet corn
1 large handful of orange cherry tomatoes, straight from the garden
1/4 c minced red bell pepper
2 TB fresh minced tarragon
1 TB minced chives
2-3 TB homemade mayonnaise, or to taste (see recipe below)
S+P to taste

1. Remove the meat from the cooked lobsters. I even lined up the little lobster legs and used a rolling

Say hello to my little friends

Say hello to my little friends

pin to smoosh the meat out of them. I don’t waste lobster! Roughly chop the meat and try not to eat it all while doing so.

2. Remove the corn from the cob. Quarter or halve the cherry tomatoes, depending on size.

3. Combine the lobster, veggies, herbs and mayonnaise and mix gently to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Simple and delicious!

AB’s Mayonnaise

1 egg yolk
1/2 t salt
1/2 t dry mustard
2 pinches sugar
2 t fresh lemon juice
1 TB white wine vinegar
1 c oil, safflower, corn, or canola

1. Whisk together the egg yolk and the dry ingredients. Whisk in half the lemon juice and vinegar.

2. Whisking quickly, add oil a few drops at a time until an emulsion forms and it becomes thickened and lighter. Then keep whisking while you add half of the oil in a thin steady stream. Add the rest of the lemon juice a vinegar, then continue adding the oil slowly until it is all incorporated.

Meat and Potatoes Night

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

steakpoivre

Nick requested steak and baked potatoes last Saturday night. I’m not the biggest fan of either, frankly. I really have to be in the mood for steak, and baked potatoes have never wowed me. The only real steak-and-potatoes-meal I crave is French-style steak frites from one of my favorite restaurants, Chez Jacques.

So, to compromise, I made steak au poivre with brandied cream sauce and potatoes gratin with jarlsberg cheese and cream from a local farm. Even if you’re craving a manly man steak and baked potato, how on earth can you say no to that?! Yeah, Nick enjoyed it. So did I, but I think I’m steaked out for the next 6 months or so.

Once again, the steak recipe is adapted from Cook’s Illustrated. The potato recipe is a mish-mash from memory from last Christmas and random recipes online. I don’t remember exactly what recipe I used last year, but it’s pretty difficult to screw up, don’t worry. But whatever you do, don’t underestimate the amount of baking time those potatoes need. I used two smallish Pyrex dishes, and they still needed about an hour and 15 minutes to just cook through. We were impatient, but they could have cooked another 15 minutes longer for a more mashed-potatoes consistency.

Steak au Poivre with Brandied Cream Sauce

Sauce (I almost doubled the amount of sauce the original recipes makes)
4 T butter
2 shallots, minced
2 c beef broth (must be low sodium as it reduces)
1 c chicken broth (also low sodium)
2/3 c heavy cream
2/3 c brandy
2 t lemon juice (I used lime because that’s what I had, no problem)

Steaks
4 strip steaks (or however many you’re serving)
1 T black peppercorns, crushed with the bottom of a heavy pot
salt to season

1. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat; when foaming subsides, add shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add beef and chicken broths, increase heat to high, and boil until reduced to about 3/4 cup, about 8 minutes. Set reduced broth mixture aside. Rinse and wipe out skillet.

2. Season the steaks with salt on both sides, then rub and pat the peppercorns evenly onto one side of each steak. Sear on unpeppered side first, then turn and continue cooking until it’s done to your liking. (CI recommends using an instant-read thermometer to check for doneness: 120 degrees for rare, 125 degrees for medium-rare, and 135 to 140 degrees for medium.) When done, place steaks on cutting board and tent with foil until the sauce is done.

3. To make the sauce, pour reduced broth, cream, and  brandy into now-empty skillet; increase heat to high and bring to boil, scraping pan bottom with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Simmer until deep golden brown and thick enough to heavily coat back of metal tablespoon or soup spoon, about 5 minutes. Off heat, whisk in remaining 3 tablespoons butter, lemon juice and any accumulated meat juices. Serve immediately over steaks. And don’t forget the bread to sop up the extra sauce!

Potatoes Gratin with Jarlsberg gratin

Yukon gold potatoes, sliced thinly on a mandoline, enough to fill whatever containers you’re using. For two medium Pyrex dishes, I used about 2.5 pounds.
Heavy cream
Chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg
Jarlsberg or gruyere cheese, grated. I used about half a pound.
Parmesan, grated
1 clove of garlic
Butter

1. Combine cream and chicken broth at about a 2:1 ratio. You’ll want enough to come up about halfway up the sides of your layered potatoes in the pan. Don’t worry about guessing, you can easily just pour a bit more cream or broth over the potatoes if you need to.

2. Season the cream mixture with salt and pepper. Use more salt than you think you’ll need as potatoes love salt. Grate in a small amount of nutmeg.

cream

Fantastic cream from a local dairy

3. To prepare your dish, cut the clove of garlic in half and rub it all around the bottom and sides of the dish. Then rub with butter or coat with baking spray.

4. Place a layer of potatoes at the bottom of your dish. You’re aiming for about 3 layers, so use about 1/3rd of your potatoes. Top that with a sprinkling of both cheeses. Use the parmesan sparingly.

5. Keep layering for 3 layers of potatoes, then top with the last of your cheese. Pour the cream mixture over the potatoes and let it soak down into the bottom of the pan, it’ll take a moment. Pour more cream mixture if neccessary to come up about 1/2-2/3 the way up the potatoes. If you tip the dish a bit, you should see a pool of cream. If you don’t have enough of the mixture, just add a bit more cream or broth.

6. Dot the top of the dish with a little butter to help browning. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven, covered, for 30 minutes. Uncover, and continue baking until a knife can be inserted in the middle without resistance. Mine took about an hour and 15 minutes. The top will get golden brown and crunchy.

Salmon Spread with Lemon and Dill

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

salmonspread

Why is it that the salmon that’s on sale never tastes very salmony?? If only Sendik’s had had their Alaskan coho on sale again, instead of Pick’n'Save’s farmed Atlantic. Oh well, sorry Trade Press, it’s more like Dill and Lemon Spread with Salmon.

Made with great salmon, however, this is a delicious recipe. As with a lot of my cooking, I don’t really use a recipe. There’s ingredients that I always use, then I just go from there. Here’s the recipe as best as I can remember from this batch.

Salmon Spread

1 lb (2 blocks) cream cheese (low-fat is fine)
1 lb fresh salmon, broiled until cooked, then flaked
4 T good quality butter
zest and juice of one lemon
2 T horseradish (not sauce)
2 T capers, drained
1/4 c red onion, minced
3 T chopped fresh dill
1-2 t fish sauce or worchestershire
S+P to taste

1. Leave the cream cheese and butter out to come to room temperature.

2. Cream all ingredients except salmon in a mixing bowl. Add salmon and mix to combine. Adjust any of the ingredients to taste. Chill and serve with crackers, bagels, rye bread or cucumber slices.

Texas Caviar

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

caviar

Hi Blog, how’s it going? Long time no see!

Sorry for the lack of updates, everyone. Life’s been busy. And unfortunately, life comes before blog.

But fortunately, I have a couple recipes stocked up, so even though I haven’t been cooking much, I have something to post about! Three cheers for planning ahead for just these moments.

I’m not really sure why Texas caviar is called Texas caviar…You’d think Texans would love regular caviar. They like expensive things, right? Maybe the tiny little fish eggs go against their “Everything’s bigger in Texas” motto. So they decided to substitute with slightly bigger beans and veggies? Yeah, I don’t know either.

No matter why it’s named what it’s named, it’s delicious. I think of it more as a salsa or chip dip than a salad, even though it’s got a bit of a salad dressing going on. I think traditionally, black eyed peas are used, but I’m a fan of black beans, so I used them instead. Plus I upped the salsa quotient by adding lime juice, cilantro and serranos. If you’ve got access to good ripe summer tomatoes, use those. I didn’t get a chance to go to the farmer’s market before making this, and the grocery store had anemic tomatoes, so I ended up using a can of small diced tomatoes. It was all right, but I’d prefer fresh next time.

Texas Caviar

2 cans black beans or black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
Fresh corn from 1-2 ears
3 roma tomatoes or 1 large heirloom or 1 can small diced tomatoes
2-3 minced serranos
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1/2 small onion, diced
4 green onions, chopped
1 small bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
3 T red wine vinegar
juice of 1-2 limes
6 T olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 t ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste

1. Mix all the ingredients and let it hang out in the fridge for a couple hours before serving. Or, you know, don’t. I didn’t. It’s good no matter what.

Picnic Time! – Homemade Hummus

Sunday, May 24th, 2009

hummus

What’s better for picnics than dip? And you can’t beat hummus. It’s good with pita bread, chips, veggies and in sandwiches. And it’s once of the easiest recipes there is. Add extra garlic if you like it super garlicky. Trader Joe’s has a great chipotle flavor hummus. If you’d like to spice it up, try adding 1-2 canned chipotles in adobo. To serve, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with paprika.

Hummus

30 oz can garbanzos (chickpeas)
6 T tahini
juice from 1 lemon
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
4 T olive oil
1 T cumin
pinch of cayenne
1/2 t salt

1. Place all ingredients in a blender, and pulse until smooth. Alternately, you can use a food processor and pulse the ingredients.