Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Scallops with Mushroom-Balsamic Vinaigrette

Scallops are about the most rewarding thing to make at home. As long as you have access to quality Scallops, very little is needed to make an extremely delicious meal in very little time. For this small plate I made a Mushroom-Balsamic Vinaigrette by sauteing some sliced Shiitakes with a little shallot, salt and pepper. Once the mushrooms were soft and slightly browned, I reserved a few slices and added a tablespoon of balsamic. I allowed the vinegar to cook for about five minutes or so to sweeten up. I then added a couple of tablespoons of olive oil & pureed into a smooth vinaigrette. The Scallops are seared on one side over high heat for about three minutes and finished on the other side for about a minute. To bring the plate together, spread the vinaigrette across the plate, place the reserved shiitake slices and scallops on top of the balsamic and finish with some diced tomatoes and bitter greens - I used frisee.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pulled Pork?

I didn't mean to make pulled pork, but that's what happened. I browned some chunks of pork roast in one pan, while I caramelized onions in my dutch oven. Once the onions were well browned, I added a little smoked paprika, diced jalapenos and garlic. Once the garlic and peppers began to soften I added about a half a gallon of apple juice, brought to a boil, then reduced the heat to a simmer and allowed the liquid to reduce by about half. Once the liquid is reduced and saucy, I added the browned pork, covered & placed in the oven at 350 and braised the pork for about two and half hours. I plated the pork with a little of the braising liquid and topped with some green beans that were roasted in the oven ( 450 for about 8 to 10 minutes),

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mortadella presents

I stole this little snack from Mario Batali and talk about a rewarding theft - this dish is simple and pretty awesome. Mortadella is basically Bologna from Italy (or made in the same manner as one would in Italy). All you do is place a little chevre (young goat cheese) in the middle of one slice & fold over the sides to form a little envelope-like package. Then place the packet fold side down in a hot non-stick pan (or a grill) over medium-high heat . Once the Mortadella is browned on one side (and subsequently sealed), turn over & brown the other side. Serve over a small mixed salad - I made a mustard vinaigrette and topped with sliced almonds and some dried cranberries.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Oaked Arrogant Bastard

This beer continues to cement California's Stone Brewery as one of the best brewers in the US. Arrogant Bastard Ale, is an American Strong Ale that has a rich and complex flavor. There is a sweet caramel maltiness that is balanced by an aggressive amount of hops. The Oaked version of this classic, tends to have a more mellow quality due to the aging and slight oak flavor. The hop presence is toned down and the complexities become more apparent allowing one to taste the beer's earthy quality. The Oaked Arrogant Bastard also seems to be a lot smoother and much more drinkable. Stone has just recently decided to make the Oaked Bastard available year-round, but we here in Illinois will have to cross state lines for ours - Stone still does not distribute to IL (write 'em a letter).

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Black Grouper Crudo

This is a very simple snack that I made to taste the Black Grouper that I had bought at the Fish Guy. It is important when consuming raw fish that one is sure of the quality and freshness. The Fish Guy only carries the finest and freshest fish and seafood and is patronized by esteemed Chicago chefs such as Charlie Trotter. For this dish I simply rinsed and dried the Grouper then roughly chopped it into small bites. I laid this out and squeezed some fresh lemon juice over top to firm up the flesh while I chopped some capers, quartered a couple of grape tomatoes and finely diced some shallot. To bring the plate together I sprinkled the shallot, capers and tomato around the plate; topped with a few choice pieces from a "mixed herb salad" and finished with salt, pepper & olive oil. Again I must stress the importance of quality when assembling a simple dish like this.