Grilled Onions and Burgers – What a Great Combination

All this talk of Okie cooking combined with the “big move” got me to thinking about another blast from the past, my Oklahoma Onion Burger. The recipe was originally shared (you guessed it) way back in 2014. There’s a whole backstory to the invention of the Oklahoma Onion Burger contained in the original posting that you might enjoy. As for today, I’m just going to chat a minute about my Pops and then get right into the recipe.

Dad is set in his ways. He does not take kindly to change. Our pending move has him all worked up. It’s not like our last move, to another state for fourteen years before returning to my roots, the central valley of sunny California. We are talking another town within California – just an hour’s drive away. Dad has enjoyed the past eight years, having me only twenty-minutes away. What’s another forty minutes you ask? For us, no big deal. For my Dad, it may as well be to the moon! I know, once we get settled into our new digs (wherever that might be – still house hunting in between packing), we are going to have a family barbecue. Okay, so the burgers are cooked on a griddle and not a grill, but you get my meaning. In honor of Dear Old Dad and his Oklahoma roots, I plan to make Oklahoma Onion Burgers. These are easy to cook up, leaving oodles of time to visit with Dad. I’m sure, once he knows exactly where we are, he will feel much better. And comfort food like a good, old-fashioned burger can’t hurt!

Oklahoma Onion Burger
1 large onion, halved and sliced 1/8 inch thick
1 teaspoon salt
Seasoning Salt
Garlic Powder to taste
Pepper to taste
1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
1 teaspoon bacon drippings
4 slices of Sharp Cheddar Cheese
4 hamburger buns, buttered and toasted
4 Slices Beef Steak Tomatoes
4 Lettuce Leaves

Peel onion and cut in half to create two “domes”. Lay onion, cut side down, and cut all the way around to create thin slivers. Repeat with second half of onion. Combine onion and 1 teaspoon salt in a bowl and toss to combine, transfer to a colander and let sit for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally. Cut several layers of cheesecloth, large enough to hold onions in a bundle. Using tongs, transfer onion to cheesecloth, gather edges and squeeze onion dry.

Divide onion mixture into four separate mounds on a rimmed baking sheet. Form beef into four lightly packed balls seasoned with seasonings as desired. Place beef balls on top of onion mounds and flatten beef firmly so that the onion adheres and patties measure 4 inches in diameter.

Melt bacon drippings on a griddle over medium heat. Using spatula, transfer patties to griddle, onion side down, and cook until onions are deep golden brown and beginning to crisp around the edges, 8-10 minutes. Flip burgers, increase their heat to medium-high and cook until well browned on the 2nd side, about 2 minutes. Place 1 slice of cheese over each burger, allow to melt.

Spread your favorite condiments on buns such as mayonnaise, ketchup and/or mustard. Place a lettuce leaf on the bottom of each bun. Top with onion burger and a slice of tomato. Place top bun into place. If desired, cut burgers in half to make it easier to handle when eating. Just be sure to serve with plenty of napkins.

 

Clarifying Dirty Fried Eggs

Maybe I should stop writing in the morning, when I’m craving something for breakfast – eggs seems to be the theme around the kitchen these days. I promise, this will be my last conversation about eggs. Okay, that’s not true. For one thing, my favorite meal of the day is breakfast (even for dinner) and there’s always another recipe for eggs just lurking around the corner.

While we were on vacation recently in Florence (Oregon), I enjoyed a wonderful breakfast while staying at The Driftwood Shores. It was one of my favorites, Corned Beef Hash. This was the real deal – shredded Corned Beef grilled up with diced potatoes and onions, served with a couple of yummy eggs and toast points on the side.

As is the norm with me whenever I have a delicious meal at a restaurant, I wanted to have it again at home. While my corned beef hash was grilling up in the skillet, I set about the task of cooking up some dirty fried eggs to go with it. The skillet for the eggs was warming nicely on the stove. I reached inside the refrigerator for my jar of bacon renderings, when a light came on. Earlier in the week I had made up a batch of Clarified Butter for all the fish/seafood dishes we have been enjoying lately. There was still some of the butter remaining. Hum, I really didn’t want to pack up a jar of clarified butter for our big move. What would happen if I fried my eggs in a mixture of bacon grease and clarified butter? The results were oh so wonderful. Hubby insisted they were the best fried eggs I had ever cooked. (And after more than 30 years of marriage, that’s a lotta fried eggs). As for me, I’ve cooked up these eggs a few times since, just for me to enjoy for a weekday morning once the menfolk have got off to work. Since I’ve been busy packing, a light breakfast to start the day is perfect.

Clarified Dirty Fried Eggs
2 Tablespoons Bacon Drippings
2 Tablespoons Clarified Butter (or more)
6 Eggs
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Heat bacon drippings in a large non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Add enough clarified butter to the dripping to coat the bottom of the pan about 1/8 inch deep.

Crack eggs into the skillet one egg at a time, holding the egg in place with the shell until it begins to turn white. This will keep the egg from running all over the skillet. Once all the eggs are cooking and the outer edges are firm, use a wooden spoon or the back of a spatula to “splash” hot grease over the eggs until the whites are cooked through while the yolks are still runny. Season with salt and pepper.

These eggs are delicious with all your breakfast favorites such as Corned Beef Hash, Breakfast Potatoes with bacon or sausage, even pancakes. Or all on their own for a light yet satisfying morning meal.

Egg-Asparagus Milanese with an American Spin

My recent trip down Breakfast Memory Lane with Eggs Benedict got me to thinking about (and craving for) another wonderful egg recipe – Egg Asparagus Milanese. While these beautiful eggs combined with bright asparagus are well rooted in Italy, mine have just a kiss of my American-Southern influence. Like most cooks with either Southern roots or an Okie parent (a.k.a dear old Dad), I like my eggs fried “dirty” – that is to say fried in a skillet filled with bacon drippings. The little specks of browned bacon bits cause the eggs to freckle, hence the name “dirty”. (For more on the subject, see my recipe for Country Corned Beef Hash & “Dirty” Fried Eggs – another breakfast favorite).

In addition to the whole bacon-dripping method to fry up my eggs, I also added an onion ring to the mix. This does two things – gives the eggs a wonderful, round shape and brings another layer of texture and flavor to the party. While most recipes for Egg-Asparagus Milanese call for steamed asparagus, in our house we like to sear the tips. It’s simply a matter of personal tastes. Granted, steamed asparagus are delicious. Hubby and I both enjoy steamed asparagus as a side on their own or with a sauce. However; no amount of sauce would convince Kiddo that steamed asparagus are delicious. Searing the asparagus gives them a nice speckled look (in keeping with the whole dirty-egg thing) while bringing a nice smoky flavor to the vegetable.

With all that said, let’s take another look at Egg-Asparagus Milanese, a recipe originally shared back in May 2014. Hope you enjoy! And remember; your feedback is always welcome here at Rosemarie’s Kitchen.

Egg-Asparagus Milanese
1 lb asparagus, ends trimmed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 Lemon, juice only
4 large rings of an onion
4 tablespoons bacon drippings*
4 eggs
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 Shallot, minced
2 tablespoons Panko crumbs

Cook The Asparagus:
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add asparagus and roll gently to coat in butter. Squeeze half a lemon over the asparagus. Cook until lightly charred, rotating pan as needed to cook asparagus on all sides, about 8 minutes. Remove from pan, keep warm until ready to serve.

Cook the Eggs:
While the asparagus is cooking, slice a large onion in half. From each half, slice two rings. Use the outermost rings to create 4 onion molds for the eggs, and set aside. Finely mince the shallots and set aside.

In the same pan that the asparagus was cooked in, brown the onion rings on one side over medium heat, about 5 minutes. Turn rings, add a little bacon drippings or oil to the center of each onion ring. Carefully break the eggs into the rings in the pan, and season with salt and pepper. (You can also break the eggs one at a time into a small bowl and pour into each ring). Cook until the whites and yolks are set, about 4 minutes. (If eggs aren’t quit set; cover with small lid to “steam” for a few minutes). Using a wide spatula, place 1 egg on each serving of asparagus. Keep warm.

Add the shallot and Panko to the pan and sauté until the crumbs are golden, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle over the eggs and serve immediately.

* Don’t have any bacon drippings? No problem. You can either cook up some smoky bacon to serve with this egg-asparagus combination or use oil instead.


For my original posting including the recipe for Popovers featured in the photograph, follow the link below:

Egg Asparagus Milanese & French Popovers

Eggs Benedict – An American Classic

This morning I noticed a new posting on my reader – a recipe for Eggs Benedict. That got me to thinking about my own recipe for Eggs Benedict, and the history behind this wonderful Breakfast/Brunch classic.

To begin with, in my ignorance of its history, I foolishly assumed that Eggs Benedict was born either in England (the English Muffin) or Canada (the bacon). It just goes to show that you can’t always judge a book by its cover. A great example would be Chicken Francese – An American Dish. While the name sounds French, the dish was originally created by an Italian chef in New York as a way of luring customers back to the Italian eateries in Brooklyn. The once popular neighborhood establishments were loosing their customers as French Bistros gained popularity among the masses. Chicken Francese sounded very French, and did the trick.

So what are the true origins of Eggs Benedict? Like so many dishes, it all depends upon who you listen to as there are several popular stories. Two in particular I find interesting. According to a Foodimentry Magazine publication in April 2012, a Wall Street broker, suffering from a hangover, ordered some buttered toast, crisp bacon, two poached eggs and a hooker of Hollandaise Sauce. He did so in 1894, at the famed Waldorf Hotel in New York. The chef, impressed by the combination,  later replaced an English Muffin for the toast and ham for the bacon, adding it to his breakfast and luncheon menus. Another popular theory dates Eggs Benedict to the 1860s, at the Delmonico’s Restaurant, the very first restaurant in the United States. Chef Charles Ranhofer is credited with creating the dish to satisfy Mrs. LeGrand Benedict, a regular patron of the restaurant. It seems Mrs. Benedict found nothing to her liking on the menu and had a discussion with Chef Ranhofer. He then came up with the dish, including the muffin and ham. Chef Ranhofer later published his recipe in his cookbook The Epicurean in 1894. What is most interesting about these two accounts in the common thread in that Chef Ranhofer was once a part of the staff at Delmonico. Whatever the tale might be, one thing is clear – Eggs Benedict is an American dish – born in New York.

Would you believe that I had never tasted, let alone cooked, Eggs Benedict until 2014. One of the reasons was that I still cannot properly poach an egg. (Thank goodness for a pan I bought that does it for me). The other reason is that I did not like the idea of an egg swirling about in water until it was somewhat cooked. I suspect the reason for my dislike for poached eggs has more to do with my inability to poach an egg in the first place. I end up creating this awful mess in a pan that is in no way appealing. I only wish that Eggs Benedict were portable as I would love to serve them to my extended family during one of our Brunch gatherings.

Eggs Benedict
Hollandaise Sauce
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 pinch fine sea salt
1 pinch white pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

To make the sauce, in a small, heavy saucepan over low heat, whisk the egg yolks, lemon and lime juice and water constantly until the mixture begins to thicken and continue whisking for about 1 minute more, but remove the pan from the heat as soon as the mixture thickens. Transfer the mixture to a blender, add the salt, white pepper and cayenne pepper and blend until smooth. Let cool for 1 minute. With the motor running, slowly pour in the melted butter in a thin stream until incorporated. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Transfer the sauce to a saucepan and keep warm over very low heat.

Note: If you don’t want to go to all the bother of making the Hollandaise Sauce from scratch, Knorr’s makes a nice “instant” sauce mix.  Simply whisk the mix with 1 cup of milk and 1/2 a stick of butter over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for 1 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add a little fresh squeezed lemon juice and a pinch of cayenne and that’s it. Keep warm until ready to use.  Although it’s not home-made, this will do nicely in a pinch.

Eggs Benedict
3 tablespoons butter
2 English muffins, split
4 slices baked ham, or Canadian Bacon each 1/4 inch thick and cut to fit English Muffins
4 large eggs

Split English Muffins and place in the toaster to lightly toast.  Once muffins are toasted, place on a baking sheet.  Spread a little butter on each muffin.  Cover with foil and hold in a warm oven until ready to assemble.

Meanwhile, in a small sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt the remaining butter. Add the ham and cook until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Keep warm.

Fill an egg-poaching pan with 1/2 inch water, set the pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Lightly brush the poaching cups with a little butter and crack an egg into each cup. Cover and cook until the whites are firm and the yolks are glazed over but still soft, about 3-4 minutes, or until done to your liking.

Place 1 muffin half on each of 4 warmed individual plates. Top each muffin half with a slice of ham, an egg and some of the sauce. Serve immediately.

This is wonderful with some breakfast potatoes and fresh fruit for a light yet satisfying start to a new day.

My Fantasy Dinner Party – What’s Yours?

When I was a little girl, I found Dad’s foot-locker stuck in a corner of the garage, just collecting dust. It was his, from his time in the Air Force. We aren’t talking about a flimsy foot-locker – it was big and sturdy and made to last. That is when I first began “collecting” things. It was my hope chest. I was all of nine or ten at the time. Would you believe, some of the things I had tucked away in that chest I still have today? Yep – stuff you can’t find any more – my tools of inspiration and creativity.

Growing up, there were many parties at our house. While all revolved around food, most were casual in nature – backyard barbecues and such. Only at Christmas and Easter did the “fancy” china make an appearance at the table and everyone dressed for the occasion – the ladies in dresses of the season, the gentlemen in suits. Of course, back then men generally wore shirts and ties and ladies wore dresses, with stockings and high-heeled shoes – even on the weekends. Casual attire was strictly reserved for staying at home, without company.

While a traditional “Hope Chest” held clothing, linens and some household items a young girl would collect in anticipation and preparation of her wedding day, mine was strictly for kitchen stuff. Marriage had nothing to do with it. I longed for my own kitchen, where I could prepare wonderful meals to be served to interesting dinner companions. Even now, I still enjoy spending time putting together elaborate menus for sophisticated suppers. Once upon a time, in our prior life, we hosted extravagant dinner parties. While at times a catering company was hired, the menu was always one I had designed. There were times when all the work of preparing the selected menu was done by me (since I love being in the kitchen) and only a wait staff was necessary to serve and clear while I was free to enjoy the company of our guests.

Granted, for most of us today (yours truly included), an elegant 10-Course dinner party for six is an insane propitiation, yet one can dare to fantasize just a bit.


The Aperitif is a warm welcome as my guests arrive. This allows time for everyone to mingle and gives “late” arrivals a guilt-free appearance. Although the aperitif is served anywhere BUT the dining room, it is considered the first course of the meal.

The second through ninth course are all served in the dining room. (If you don’t have a dining room that isn’t a part of the kitchen – no problem – move the table to the backyard. With proper lighting and a little imagination, this could transport the entire party to another place and time).

With each course, individual china and silverware are placed on the table, then cleared away to make room for more. (Unless you are the Queen with a dining-room table so long that everything fits. In which case, there may not be much in the way of pleasant conversation as your dining companions are in the next county). The key here is to allow ample time between courses, otherwise your guests may faint! Lingering over a glass of wine is a wonderful way to pace the meal nicely.

The final course of the evening is served in the living room (drawing-room, if you have one). This gives everyone a chance to stretch their legs after a long meal and to relax.

And now for the menu –

1st Course – Aperitif
Champagne with Chambord and Strawberries

2nd Course – Hors d’Oeuvers 
Canapés a l’Amiral
Chilled Duck Breasts with a Zinfandel Reduction Sauce Amuse

3rd Course – Soup
Consommé Olga

4th Course – Fish
Poached Salmon with a Mousseline Sauce

5th Course – Sorbet
Lime Sorbet with Mint Garnish

6th Course – Foul
Roasted Quail with Grape Clusters

7th Course – Meat with Two Vegetables
Tornadoes of Beef with Three Peppercorn Sauces
Potatoes Romanoff
Peas in a Cream Sauce

8th Course – Salad
Mixed Greens with Artichoke Hearts

9th Course – Dessert
Chocolate Mouse with Pear Chips and Chocolate Leaves

10th Course – After Dinner Refreshments
Coffee and Espresso
Liqueurs and Wines
Fruit and Cheese Platter
Bite-Size Chocolate and Small Cake Platter

Remember what I said at the start – this is a FANTASY dinner. While recipes are a collection from a variety of sources – cookbooks, magazines and of course the internet, the menu is mine. Pardon me while I dream on . . .


First Course – APERITIF

CHAMPAGNE with CHAMBORD and STRAWBERRIES
1 Magnum Imported Champagne
6 Tablespoons Raspberry Liqueur (Chambord)
6 Strawberries, whole with green tops removed

Pour champagne into 6 long steamed flute glasses.

Add a splash of Raspberry Liqueur (about a tablespoon) to each glass.

Drop one strawberry into each glass and serve immediately.


Second Course – HORS D’OEUVRES

CANAPÉS À L’AMIRAL with SHRIMP BUTTER
Canapés
20 slices (about 1/2-inch thick) baguette
1 teaspoon lime juice
10 small cooked shrimp, halved lengthwise
20 fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 tablespoons caviar

Place baguette slices on a baking sheet and toast under broiler for 1 minute per side or until lightly golden. Remove from broiler and set aside.

Drizzle lime juice over cooked shrimp halves; stir and set aside.

Shrimp Butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large shallot, peeled, ends removed, minced
1 clove garlic, peeled, ends removed, minced
8 ounces shrimp in shell, rinsed
1/4 cup brandy
4 ounces cream cheese, softened (regular or reduced fat)
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Dash of Vanilla

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes or until softened.

Increase heat to high and add the shrimp. Sauté shrimp for 4-5 minutes or until the shells are pink and the flesh is opaque. Remove the shrimp and cool. When cool enough to handle, peel and discard shells.

Transfer shrimp mixture to a food processor fitted with the steel blade or a blender. Return skillet to the heat and add brandy. Cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds or until the brandy is reduced to a glaze. Scrape the glaze into the shrimp mixture. Pulse shrimp mixture until it is coarsely chopped.

Add the cream cheese, butter, tomato paste, salt, pepper and vanilla. Process until almost smooth and set aside.

To assemble Canapés: Place shrimp butter in a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tube. Decoratively pipe the shrimp butter onto the toasted baguette slices, or spread mixture on slices using a table knife. Top each with a cooked shrimp half, parsley leaf and a small amount of caviar.

CHILLED DUCK with a ZINFANDEL REDUCTION SAUCE AMUSE
1 cup Zinfandel
1/2 cup soy sauce (Use Japanese soy such as Kikkoman)
1/2 cup Mirin (Japanese Wine)
4 large scallions, green parts only, coarsely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
One 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, thinly sliced
Two 1-pound Muscovy duck breasts, fat trimmed
2 cups small arugula leaves (2 ounces)

In a medium saucepan, boil the Zinfandel over high heat until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In a large, sturdy, resealable plastic freezer bag, combine the soy sauce, Mirin, scallions, garlic, ginger and Zinfandel reduction.

Gather 10 bamboo skewers in your hand and puncture the duck skin all over, through to the meat. Alternatively, use the tip of a very sharp knife to poke the duck skin all over.

Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add the duck breasts, skin side down, and cook over moderate heat until deeply browned, about 8 minutes. Turn the duck over and cook until browned on the other side, about 3 minutes.

Transfer the duck breasts to the bag with the marinade and seal it. Place the sealed bag inside a double layer of sturdy plastic bags, sealing each bag. Carefully lower the duck breasts into the boiling water. Cover, turn off the heat and let stand for 10 minutes.

Prepare a large bowl of ice water. Plunge the bags with the duck into the ice bath and let stand for 45 minutes, or until completely chilled. Refrigerate the duck in the bags for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Remove the duck breasts from the marinade and pat them dry with paper towels. Strain the Zinfandel marinade into a medium saucepan and boil over high heat until it has thickened, about 7 minutes. Using a thin, sharp knife, thinly slice the duck breasts crosswise. Drizzle each plate with some of the reduced Zinfandel marinade and arrange the sliced duck breasts on top. Mound the Arugula leaves on the plates and serve.

Make ahead: The recipe can be prepared up to 3 days ahead; refrigerate the Zinfandel marinade and the cooked duck separately.


Third Course – SOUP

CONSOMMÉ OLGA
Soup
7 cups beef stock
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 leek, finely chopped
1 celery, finely chopped
1/2 tomato, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped parsley stems
1/4 lb lean ground veal or 1/4 lb lean ground beef
salt and pepper
3 egg whites, beaten until frothy
1/4 cup port wine

In tall narrow pot, gently heat stock until body temperature. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together vegetables, parsley, and meat until well combined; add salt and pepper; fold in egg whites.

Whisk heated stock into egg mixture; return to pot and, whisking, bring slowly to boil. When mixture begins to look frothy, stop stirring to allow egg mixture to rise and solidify into a raft. Lower heat to medium-low. Carefully make a vent hole in raft with spoon handle. Simmer consommé gently for 30 minutes.

Leaving pot on heat, carefully push raft down with back of ladle; ladle clarified consommé through cheesecloth-lined sieve into clean pot. Heat until very hot. Stir in Port.

Garnish
6 large sea scallops
1/2 celery , blanched and julienned
1/4 English cucumber, julienned
1 small carrot, julienned

Slice scallops crosswise into 3 pieces, place 3 discs into bottom of each of 6 warmed bowls. Pour hot consommé over scallops; arrange celery, carrot, and cucumber decoratively in each bowl. Serve immediately.


Fourth Course – FISH

POACHED SALMON WITH MOUSSELINE SAUCE
Basic Court Bouillon
7 cups water
1 carrot, sliced
1 small onion, chopped
6 peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup parsley
1 teaspoon of salt
1 1/4 cup dry white wine

In a large pot combine all the ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat.
Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Strain into an air-tight container and cover tightly. Court Bouillon will keep for up to a week  in refrigerator, for up to a week.

Poached Salmon
6 cups Basic Court Bouillon (see recipe ABOVE)
6 salmon fillets
30 very thin slices of English cucumber
6 sprigs fresh dill

In large shallow pot, heat court bouillon until just below boiling point.

Using a slotted spoon or spatula, gently place salmon into bouillon. Add water if needed to completely cover the fish.

Poach fish for 3-5 minutes or until opaque on the outside and still coral-colored in the center.

Mousseline Sauce
2/3 cup melted unsalted butter
3 tablespoons water
3 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup lightly whipped cream

Melt butter over medium-low heat. Allow the butter to melt undisturbed. Using a spoon, skim froth from the surface of the melted butter and discard. Allow butter to cool slightly.

On top of a double boiler or heat-proof bowl, whisk water and egg yolks together with salt and pepper for 30 seconds or until pale yellow and frothy. Over barely simmering water, whisk mixture for 3 minutes or until it draws a ribbon for 5 seconds.

Remove pan from heat; whisk in warm butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until sauce begins to thicken. Still whisking, pour remaining butter into sauce in a slow steady stream.

Stir in lemon juice and dill. Allow the sauce to cool slightly. Gently fold in whipped cream. Adjust the seasoning to taste. Keep warm by setting over a pot of warm water.

When ready to serve, place salmon on a fish platter. Drizzle with some of the Mousseline Sauce. Pour remaining sauce into a gravy boat, and pass at the table.


Fifth Course – SORBET

LIME SORBET with FRESH MINT GARNISH
6 Small Cordial Glasses or Champagne Coupes
1 Pint Lime Sorbet; purchased or homemade
Fresh Mint for garnish

Place attractive glasses on small plates. Fill each glass with one well-rounded scoop of sorbet. Garnish each scoop with a mint leaf. Place demi-spoons on plates and serve.


Sixth Course – FOUL

ROASTED QUAIL with GRAPE CLUSTERS
6 large quail, about 4 to 5 ounces each
Salt and pepper
1 ½ teaspoons grated garlic
6 large rosemary sprigs, plus 1/2 teaspoon chopped
6 large thyme sprigs, plus 1/2 teaspoon chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 small red boiling onions (about 1/2 pound), peeled and quartered
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 pound grapes, cut into 6 small clusters

Rinse quail and pat dry. Season inside and out with salt and pepper. Put a small amount of grated garlic in each bird’s cavity, as well as the chopped rosemary and thyme. Drizzle birds with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and let marinate at room temperature for at least 1 hour. (You may refrigerate for several hours or overnight; bring to room temperature before roasting.)

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place onions in a small oven-proof skillet or pie pan, and season with salt and pepper. Toss with balsamic vinegar and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to coat. Bake until slightly softened and caramelized, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

Spread remaining rosemary and thyme sprigs on a baking sheet or in a low-sided roasting pan. Lay quail on top of herbs, breast-side down. Roast for about 15 minutes, until puffed and lightly browned.

Turn birds breast-side up and surround with roasted onions and grape clusters. Continue roasting for 10 minutes more. If necessary, put birds under the broiler to crisp the skin.

Let rest 10 minutes. Transfer birds to a large round or oval serving platter. Cluster grapes around quail and serve.


Seventh Course – MEAT with TWO VEGETABLES

TORNADOES OF BEEF with THREE PEPPERCORN SAUCES
Potato Shingles (Base)
1/4 Cup + 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
3 lbs Russet potatoes, sliced 3/16-inch thick
6 Garlic Cloves, minced
Salt & Pepper
6 tablespoons butter, melted

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position. Pre-heat oven to 425-degrees.

Peel and mince garlic, set aside until ready to use. Wash and slice potatoes. Set aside until ready to use. Brush rimmed baking sheet with 2 tablespoons oil.

In a large bowl, toss potatoes with ¼ cup oil and garlic. Shingle potatoes tightly into even rows, lengthwise, on baking sheet (about 5 rows). Drizzle with melted butter, season with salt and pepper.

Cover potatoes and roast in oven until just tender, 35-40 minutes, rotating pan midway through roasting process.

Uncover potatoes and roast until spotty-browned, about 15-20 minutes longer.

Cut potato shingles into 18 squares just large enough to hold the petite steaks.

Tornadoes of Beef
18 petite Beef Tenderloin steaks, about 1 oz each
Olive Oil

In a large skillet add olive oil enough to coat bottom of pan, heat over medium heat. Sear steak in batches, taking care not to overcrowd the skillet. Sear each batch of steaks until nicely browned and pink in the middle, about 3-4 minutes per side.

While steaks are browning, begin making Pink and Green Peppercorn Sauce. Once steaks are cooked, make remaining black peppercorn sauces.

Remove steaks, wrap in foil to keep warm and set aside. Add a little more oil, heat skillet and continue to sear remaining steaks. Remove, wrap in foil to keep warm and set aside.

Pink Peppercorn Sauce
1 Teaspoon Pink Peppercorns, crushed
½ Cup Heavy Cream
1 Teaspoon Pimentos, chopped

Place peppercorn in a bag, crush with rolling-pin. Set aside until ready to use.

In a saucepan add pink peppercorns, chopped pimentos and heavy cream. Cook over medium-low heat until cream is reduced and thick, about 15 minuets.

Green Peppercorn Sauce
1 Teaspoon Green Peppercorns, crushed
1 Teaspoon parsley, chopped
½ Cup Brandy

Green Pepper Corn Sauce: Place peppercorn in a bag, crush with rolling-pin. Set aside until ready to use.

In a saucepan place peppercorns, parsley and brandy. Bring to a quick boil and allow to boil about 5 minutes.

Black Peppercorn Sauce
1 Teaspoon Black Peppercorns, crushed
2 Oz Mushrooms, sliced
¼ Cup Whiskey

Place peppercorn in a bag, crush with rolling-pin. Set aside until ready to use.

To the skilled, add peppercorns, mushrooms and whiskey. Bring to a quick boil, scrapping up any browned bits of steak.

To assemble:

Place 3 squares of potato shingles on each plate.

Top each potato square a steak. Pour black peppercorn sauce over 1 steak on each plate, pour pink peppercorn sauce over another steak on each plate and the green peppercorn sauce over remaining steak on each plate.

1st VEGETABLE

POTATOES ROMANOFF
2 lbs whole baked potatoes, grated or chopped small
1/2 cup finely minced onions
2 cups grated white cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cup sour cream
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
6 Small Ramekin Dishes

Bake potatoes in the oven until fork tender, about 40 minutes. Allow potatoes to cool. This can be done in the morning, continuing with the recipe later in the day.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl combine the potatoes, onions, cheese (reserve about a 1/2 cup of cheese for the top), and salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste. Gently fold in the sour cream until just combined.

Butter 6 individual ramekins, and spoon in the mixture. You want as an irregular surface as possible, with lots of nooks and crannies. Top with the remaining cheese and bake the oven for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.

Place ramekins on small plates to prevent burning your guests and serve.

2nd VEGETABLE

PEAS in a CREAM SAUCE
3 Cups Fresh Peas, shelled from 3-6 lbs Pea Pods or frozen peas, thawed
2 Tablespoons Sugar
½ Cup Heavy Cream
2 Tablespoons Butter
Salt and Pepper
1 Tablespoon Chives, finely chopped

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. SLOWLY add peas to maintain slow boil. Cook until tender, about 8-12 minutes depending on size of peas.

In a saucepan, heat heavy cream to a boil. Cook until reduced by half, about 3-5 minutes. Add peas ¼ teaspoon pepper and butter. Cook until butter has melted and peas are heated through, 3-4 minutes, stirring gently to blend.

Transfer to serving bowl and sprinkle with chives. Serve at once.


Eights Course – SALAD

MIXED GREENS with ARTICHOKE HEARTS
4 cups mixed salad green
1/2 red onion (sliced)
14 oz artichoke hearts (water drained)
1 Small Can Sliced Black Olives, optional
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon black pepper (ground)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Parmesan Cheese, shaved

In a large bowl, combine the mixed greens, onion, and artichoke hearts. Toss with black olive slices, if using.

In a medium-size mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, seasoned salt, pepper, and garlic.

Pour enough dressing over salad to coat, and toss well.

Place individual servings on chilled salad plates. Garnish each plate with shaved Parmesan Cheese and serve.


Ninth Course – DESSERT

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE with PEAR CHIPS & CHOCOLATE LEAVES
Chocolate Mousse
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (good quality)
2 cups heavy cream

Equipment
1 saucepan filled with one inch of simmering water
1 large wire whisk
6 sherry or shot glasses
parchment paper
1 piping bag with plain tip, optional

If you want the mousse to rise above the containers for a dramatic presentation, first make a collar by wrapping a piece of parchment or waxed paper around each container, leaving about 1” excess above the container. Secure the paper with tape or kitchen twine. Prepare your containers prior to making the mousse.

The key to this mousse is the temperature of the chocolate. It should be completely melted but not too hot. The ideal temperature is 122 degrees, which is warm, not hot, to the touch. If you have a kitchen thermometer handy, use it.

In a metal bowl that fits over the saucepan of barely simmering water, ensuring that the bowl does not touch the hot water, add the chopped chocolate and 1 cup of whipping cream. Gently melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is fully melted, but not overly hot.

In the bowl of a stand-up mixer fitted with a wire whisk, add the remaining 3 cups of whipping cream. Whisk the cream until it is thickened only. The cream should not be firm enough to hold its shape. When you remove the whisk from the bowl, the cream should drip off in thick beads.

With a whisk close at hand, pour the warm melted chocolate, all at once into the barely whipped cream. Combine with a whisk until the chocolate mousse is uniform in color. The texture will firm as you combine the chocolate with the cream.

The mixture is now ready to pour into your containers. If you have a piping bag, pour the mixture into a piping bag; this will help get the mousse into the glasses neatly, without any mess.

Managing a piping bag is easy when you use a narrow canister or large-mouthed glass to hold the piping bag in place while you fill it. Simply tuck the narrow end of the bag into the container (tip side down) and roll the large end of the bag over the edge of the container, like a cuff, to hold it in place.

Pipe or spoon the mixture into the glasses and refrigerate until set.

While mousse sets, prepare pear chips.

Pear Chips
1 Pear, Firm & washed
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
lemon zest (white pith removed) from ½ lemon

Equipment
1 Mandoline or single-blade slicer
1 Rimmed baking pan lined with parchment paper

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees.

Combine the sugar, water and lemon zest in a small saucepan and heat the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Slice the pear into paper-thin slices using a mandoline or single-blade slicer/grater.

Using a pastry brush, coat both sides of each pear slice with the sugar-water solution. Place the coated slices on the parchment-lined tray, being careful not to overlap the slices.

Dry in the oven for 2 to 3 hours. To test the chips, remove the tray from the oven and allow the pears to cool for 10 minutes (away from a humid kitchen). If your kitchen is warm, place the tray of pears outside to cool them. Gently peel the pears from the parchment. If they are firm and crisp, they are ready. If not, continue to dry them in the oven for another half hour and test again.

Chocolate Leaves
6 ounces good quality chocolate, chopped into small pieces
12 Small, firm leaves, washed and completely dried
1 Tray lined with parchment paper

Melt the chocolate in a metal bowl placed over a saucepan filled with one inch of simmering water. The bowl should not touch the water. When the chocolate has just melted, dip the cleaned leaves into the chocolate, coating one side, and place on a parchment-lined tray. Place the leaves in the refrigerator to firm the chocolate.

Once the chocolate has firmed, carefully peel back the leaf from the chocolate.

To assemble and serve: Remove the mousse from the refrigerator approximately 20 minutes before serving.

Remove the parchment collar and garnish with the pear chip and chocolate leaf just before serving.


Tenth Course – AFTER DINNER REFRESHMENTS

COFFEE, ESPRESSO, AFTER DINNER DRINKS, FRUITS, CHEESES AND SWEETS

The final course is designed to be served in another room, away from the dining table. To linger with guests and chat about life well into the night.

COFFEE: Brew a pot of coffee and place into an Urn for serving. Place on a tray along cream and sugar. Pour upon request.

ESPRESSO: Brew Espresso upon request. Draw Espresso into demi-cups and serve.

LIQUEURS
Sambuca (my personal favorite – with 3 whole coffee beans in the glass)
Franglico
Grappa
Amaretto
Brandy
Irish Mist
Cognac

WINES
Fortified Wines
Ports
Sherry
Late Harvest Ice Wine
Dessert Wines

While not all the liqueurs and wines are necessary, an assortment is always nice. Take requests and serve in the appropriate glassware.

Create a fruit and cheese platter as well as a small platter of bite-size sweets such as Truffles or mini cakes. These can be purchased or home-made. Simply arrange the offerings onto platters for serving.


I’d love to hear what your Fantasy Dinner Party might be – what would you serve? Who would be at your table? I’d love to sit with the likes of Julia Childs, but only if she were doing the cooking as I am sure my culinary skills would pale in comparison.

Baked New England Cod over Potato Shingles with Broccoli

Packing, packing and more packing! One nice thing about all this packing, it’s like Christmas around here – things I had forgotten about – lovely finds from various Flea Markets, Street Fairs and even the occasional garage sale.

I had forgotten about the beautiful crystal cordial glasses that have remained wrapped in newspaper, waiting for display shelves that never managed to materialize. The joke in our house after a morning of hunting Second Sunday (an antique fair under the freeway) was where to put our latest find. The answer was always the same, leave it wrapped and stick it in the den until we can get the shelves necessary. The den is bursting at the seams with bowls, plates, platters, all sorts of things. I go in spurts – I have a collection of salt cellars (those I use every day with different seasonings that only need a “pinch” to make a dish pop). There is a collection of vintage footed cakes plates, footed demi-cups with petite matching saucers, delicate tea cups and on it goes – whatever my latest “obsession” until the next one came along.

Hubby actually asked how many soup terrains I felt were necessary. Silly man – soup terrains (at least in our house) hold more than just soup. I once served my Coq au Vin in soup terrains for a dinner party. I had doubled the recipe. When it came time for serving supper, one terrain held the white meat, the other the dark pieces. My guests did not need to go diving through the broth for their favorite piece of chicken.

I have a box filled with silver serving spoons and ladles just waiting for the right moment to make an appearance.  I have things that I haven’t a clue what they were designed for, but they are vintage and pretty and I knew I’d eventually figure them out.

Now that I am about to retire to my favorite “job” – full-time lady of the house, I am going to spend time researching my various finds. Naturally, that will have to wait until all the packing and unpacking is complete. In the meantime, my mind is swirling with ideas.

One of my “finds” years ago was a matching set of a beautiful serving Knife and Fork designed for Fish. I am an old-fashioned gal at heart – love the whole Victorian era – that time of elegance that was not reserved just for the holidays but everyday. Families actually dined together – at the table!! I’ve told my guys, once we get settled in our new place (wherever that might be – finding a home isn’t easy), no more eating in front of the T.V. or dishing stuff straight from the pot. The table will be set – properly. Hubby likes to make me a little nuts by using a dinner fork for dessert or drinking orange juice from a milk glass. He knows the difference, he just likes to watch my head spin around. But that’s a rant for another day.

This recipe was originally shared in March 2014 as part of my Lenten collection. I felt it was worth a second look – especially now that I am striving to clear the freezer of everything before the big move.

The potatoes are thinly sliced and tossed with minced garlic.  The potatoes are then layered in a baking dish to create “shingles” and roasted until almost tender. The shingles are then topped with the wonderful, mild, delicate cod fillets that have been kissed with herb butter. When served with “zapped” broccoli, it’s a delight to the senses.

For this recipe, definitely look for Atlantic caught cod which, when cooked, will render large flaked white meat.  The fresh lemon slices add another layer of texture and color to the meal.

Hope you enjoy!

New England Cod and Potato Shingles with Broccoli
Herb Butter

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon Fresh Thyme, minced
1 tablespoon Lemon Zest, grated
2 Lemons, thinly sliced
Salt & Pepper

Mash butter, thyme, parsley, lemon zest, ¼ teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper together in a bowl. Lay lemon slices over the butter. Set aside until ready to use.  The longer the herb butter sits, the more infused the flavors become. The butter can actually be made in the morning to fully marry with the herbs.

Potato Shingles
6 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3 lbs Russet potatoes, sliced thin
6 Garlic Cloves, minced

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position. Pre-heat oven to 425-degrees.

Peel and mince garlic, set aside until ready to use. Wash and slice potatoes. Set aside until ready to use. Brush rimmed baking sheet with 2 tablespoons oil, set aside until ready to use.

In a large bowl, toss potatoes with remaining ¼ cup oil and garlic. Shingle potatoes tightly into even rows, lengthwise, on baking sheet (about 5 rows) Season potatoes with salt and pepper.

Roast in oven until spotty brown and just tender, 35-40 minutes, rotating pan midway through roasting process.

Remove pan from oven.  Top potato shingles with cod and continue to bake as directed.

New England Cod
8 Skinless Cod Fillets (6-8 oz) 1-1 ½-inch thick
2-3 Lemons, thinly sliced

Pat cod dry with paper towels, season with salt and pepper, and rub herb butter evenly over top of each fillet. Carefully arrange fish on top of potatoes and top each fillet with lemon slices.

Roast fish and potatoes until fish flakes apart when gently prodded with a paring knife and registers 140-degrees, about 15-20 minutes.

Gently score potatoes around each piece of fish into individual portions with the edge of a spatula. Slide spatula underneath potatoes and fish, carefully transfer to individual plate and serve.

Zapped Broccoli with Garlic & Lemon
1/2 lb Broccoli
2 Teaspoons Garlic Powder
1 Tablespoon Butter, melted
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Cut broccoli into individual pieces. Place broccoli, garlic, butter, lemon juice and about 1 tablespoon water in a micro-wave safe bag. Seal, leaving small gap to vent the steam.

Micro-wave on HIGH 2-3 minutes.

CAREFULLY open bag (it will be steaming hot) and empty into a serving dish. Toss and serve.

New Mexican Santa Fe Chicken

With our “big move” looming, getting creative in the kitchen is increasingly more difficult. Boxes everywhere. Questions running through my mind such as “How many serving spoons do I really need?” Oh, don’t get me wrong – nearly everything is coming with me – it’s just a matter of what to pack now (and do without until the move is complete) and what to keep in the kitchen that is a bare-bone necessity for cooking. Trying an assortment of new recipes or getting creative on my own in the kitchen might not be the smartest move at this point. While some creativity is a real possibility (what can I do with chicken breasts, a can of soup and a few pinches of seasoning?) – for the most part I am sticking to the tried and true.

I’m also racing ahead, getting a jump on future shares. I know that there will be a lull – when the internet is disconnected at the old home front but not up and running at the new place. Creating meal plans, putting together a shopping list and all the rest of my daily routines are going to need to be accomplished the old fashion way. Oh my – it’s amazing how depend I have become on my lap tops to run my household.

Scheduling – that’s what I’m working on today. Writing posts for future shares. Such is the case with today’s share. This is a recipe originally shared back in February 2014. It’s one we haven’t enjoyed in a while. This particular meal takes a bit longer to prepare than I normally like for a typical week day dinner, but these days nothing is “typical”. It’s fairly easy to make – I like that. With Hubby and Kiddo commuting, the dinner hour has been pushed back, so meals that take a little longer to whip up really don’t come into the selection process. Besides, I’m home packing all day, so it’s just a matter of timing.

Whenever I make this impressive chicken dish, I serve it with the usual sides – warm flour tortillas and either Super Easy Refried Beans or Mexican Rice with Chunky Salsa.  For that added “color” to the table (besides the bright red of the tomatoes and pale green of the Pepperoncini peppers) a cool, crisp summer salad is always welcome.

New Mexican Santa Fe Chicken
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 Tablespoons Flour
2 Tablespoons Mexican Chili Powder
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 Jar Chicken gravy
½ Cup Milk or as needed to thin gravy
½ Cup Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded
1 Handful Pepperoncini Peppers, garnish
1 Handful Cherry tomatoes, garnish

Place a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add oil to the skillet, giving it just a little swirl to distribute the oil and coat the pan.

While the oil heats, on a sheet of waxed paper, combine flour and chili powder. Once the skillet is ready, coat chicken with flour mixture.

Cook chicken 10 minutes or until browned on both sides. Remove chicken, set aside in warming dish. Drain off fat from skillet.

In same skillet, heat gravy to boiling. Return chicken to skillet. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 20 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink, turning breasts mid-way through. Spoon gravy over tops of breasts to coat after turning.

Once chicken is cooked, sprinkle breasts with shredded cheese and cover. Continue to cook another few minutes, just until the cheese has melted.

Place chicken on a rimmed serving platter. Spoon/ladle gravy over and around breasts. Garnish with a handful of Pepperoncini Peppers and cherry tomatoes as desired.