Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Poached in fat, so you know it's good!

Deep fried generally means delicious in my book. You can cook almost anything in fat and it always satisfies. I know a lot of you are frightened by that statement but you don't have to be. Properly cooked fried food in moderation is not the problem. The problem is when you eat KFC for every meal. That, my friends, is the the problem. America gets fat eating fast food and to solve the situation, we over-react like the quick fix country that we are, by saying that hamburgers and fried chicken is the cause of heart-attacks. Cook something fresh once in a while and go for a walk here and there. End rant.

Duck confit is one of the most decadent dishes ever. Basically it is duck leg/thigh slow poached, submerged in duck fat. By cooking it this way you're preserving the meat. It is one of the most tender things that will ever melt in your mouth. I could pretty much eat it every day but that's where that word "moderation" comes into play. I bought some local "pre-made" duck confit from Don & Joe's Butchershop and served it with sauteed brussel sprouts and smokey butter beans. After eating this meal I went for a walk.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Spanish breakfast

Every cook has a spice or seasoning they couldn't live without. After salt and fresh cracked pepper, of course, mine would have to be pimenton. Essentially it's Spanish smoked paprika. It comes in three different varieties, picante (hot), agridulce (bittersweet), or dulce (sweet). I tend to use the picante because of the extra kick. I love the smokiness and the deepness it brings to my dishes. One of my favorite dishes to make using this beautiful spice is Spicy Garlic Shrimp over Scrambled Eggs. It's the perfect Spanish breakfast.

Spicy Garlic Shrimp over Scrambled Eggs
serves 6

1 lb large fresh shrimp (peeled & deveined, tails left on)
2 tsp pimenton picante
2 cloves garlic, minced
1doz large organic eggs
1/2 cup pickled red onions (*see note)
olive oil
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
toast, any kind you like - I use pumpernickel

First I marinate the shrimp briefly in 1 Tbsp olive oil, pinch of kosher salt, fresh cracked black pepper, 2 tsp pimenton, and two minced gloves of garlic. After about 15 minutes or so in the marinade, heat up a saute pan over medium heat, add the shrimp with the marinade and saute the shrimp until just cooked (about 2 minutes per side). At the end toss in the onions to heat through. While the shrimp cook I scramble some large organic eggs in a little butter and make some toast. Serve the shrimp over the eggs and garnish with scallions, parsley, cilantro, etc...

*Note: I like to make a batch of pickled red onions and store it in the fridge. If you don't have the time to do that just saute some thinly sliced red onions in a little olive oil adding salt and a few tsps of balsamic vinegar and cooked until caramelized.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Crispy Salmon Cakes with Black Bean Sauce

It's always a little challenge to come up with ways to inventively use your leftovers. I always try to turn those slightly sad looking ingredients from a previous meal into something wonderful and new before they become relegated to the back of the fridge where they are forgotten (until I open up the scary moldy container a few weeks later when I'm low on food and scrounging). I had roasted a delicious side of fresh coho salmon the other night and had plenty of leftovers. That same night I flaked the rest of the salmon, made salmon cakes, and froze half of them. I like to make spicy/sour sauces to accompany these kind of rich dishes. This time I served them with a fermented black bean and chili sauce.

Have some imagination with your leftovers. You don't have to always have to eat them as is (of course some dishes are better left alone. Nobody wants to eat those lasagna tacos you thought up). There are a ton of recipes out there that will turn your second or third day of the same dish into something delicious and different.

Crispy Salmon Cakes

1 lb cooked salmon, flaked into chunks
3/4 cup panko crumbs
3 scallions sliced thinly
2 Tbsp mayonnaise (add more if you need it)
2 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 Tbsp chili garlic paste

Mix all ingredients together and form small cakes using your hands. In a saute pan over medium high heat, saute the cakes in a little butter and canola oil until both sides are browned. Way too easy.

For the black bean sauce I just mixed together some chili garlic paste, crushed fermented black beans, ponzu, sesame oil, and soy sauce. You can find all of these ingredients at your local Asian grocery. Good luck.