Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Kitchinspirations September challenge -- Help!

The challenge this month is apple pie. I am an abject failure at pie crust. I have tried more times than I care to count. Since we are in the middle of the first month of school, I do not have the time to make multiple attempts at yet another pie crust. Fortunately I can take the idea and get creative with it. So, are there any suggestions out there? Biscuit pies? Something based on filo or puff pastry? Cobblers? Any recipes or ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Foodie BlogRoll

You might notice a new element on the sidebar. We've been accepted into the Foodie BlogRoll! Click on over to it and check out some great food blogs. Find some new favorites and be inspired by the recipes!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Super-Easy Lamb Meatballs

I really enjoy Nigella Lawson's work. Yes, she takes shortcuts, and yes, I wish she would embrace fresh citrus instead of the horrid plastic squeeze things, but her cooking has it's roots in great flavor and streamlined technique. On one of her shows, she highlighted a recipe she called "Merguez with Halloumi and Flame Roasted Peppers". After making it and fiddling with it a bit, I've come up with my own version that is perfect for us. TheTooth can't handle really spicy stuff, so instead of the merguez, I make lamb meatballs. We found the halloumi too squeeky, so I switched to kaseri. Served with some flatbread, tzatziki, and hummus, it is a Mediterranean feast!

Quick Greek Lamb Meatballs

For Meatballs:
1 lb ground lamb
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp greek seasoning
1 egg

For the Dish:
1 block kaseri cheese
1 jar roasted peppers
1 recipe meatballs

1. Heat the oven to 425F.
2. Mix meatball ingredients well and form into golf-ball sized rounds. Place on an sheet pan that is lined with foil and lightly oiled. Place in the oven for 10 minutes.
3. Slice cheese into 1/4 inch slices, and tear peppers into bite-sized bits. After 10 minutes, surround the meatballs with the cheese and peppers. Pop it back in the oven for another 10 minutes.
4. Serve with flatbread and whatever else you have on hand.

For our hummus, I just take a can of cannelini beans drained, a big dollop of tahini, a garlic clove minced, and a couple of glugs of lemon olive oil. (I will tell you all about my love of Pasolivo soon.) Run this through the food processor and you're good to go.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Confit and Gueuze

I was in Crate and Barrel the other week, got to talking to one of the employees about the joy of Dutch ovens, and my mind turned to velvety duck. We're big fans of duck confit. Once upon a time, it seemed perfectly logical to fork out a bunch of cash for a couple of duck legs with whatever side dish came along with it. Here's the reality: those restaurants aren't charging for skill or anything, they're charging for the time and the mystique. In reality, confit was originally peasant food. Poach the bird (or other animal) in it's own fat, cool, then cover it in said fat and keep in the root cellar for months. Thankfully we now have refrigerators, packaged duck fat, and tons of olive oil roaming the supermarket aisles.

For Christmas last year, I received the divine The River Cottage Meat Book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstal. If you eat meat, you need this book. The appreciation for the flesh is incredible. Meat should be treated with respect, and Mr. Fearnley-Whittingstal really respects what he cooks. Inspired by his recipe for confit, and the post of Michael Ruhlman on the subject at his blog, I have developed my own version of this incredibly divine dish. And, I'm not above turning the oven to 300F for a few hours on a summer weekend to create heaven. My (and the Tooth's) heartfelt thanks to both gentlemen for the inspiration!

Duck Confit:

As many duck legs as you can fit in your dutch oven in a couple of layers at most
Kosher Salt (about 1/2 Tbsp per leg or so)
About 1 tsp thyme per leg
About 1/2 clove garlic minced per two legs
1 tsp dried orange peel (Penzey's has it!) for every two legs
4 or 5 grinds of pepper for every two legs
1 bay leaf for every two legs
A small container of duck fat and olive oil as needed

1. Combine all spices and cover duck generously.
2. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 48 hours.
3. Wipe the vast majority of the spice mixture off the duck just before you go to cook it. You may rinse if you wish, but it won't be quite as flavorful. Be sure to dry it well if you rinse it.
4. Place legs in your Dutch oven and cover with the duck fat and olive oil. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat, then place covered in a moderate oven (300F) for about three hours, or until the meat has pulled far from the end of the legs and the legs themselves have sunk to the bottom.
5. Remove from oven and cool completely. Place duck in a container, cover with the fat/oil mixture until it is submerged, and refrigerate. It will keep a month or so if you can keep yourself away.
6. To serve, take out a couple of legs per person and wipe off as much fat as possible. Heat up a pan and cook the legs for 5-6 minutes a side, making sure to crisp up the skin. Serve with some potatoes or polenta or a simple salad. YUM.

The other night, I served this with fried polenta (fried in the duck fat), roasted asparagus, and a Belgian sour beer, Oude Gueuze from Hanssens Artisanaal. The acidity of the beer cut beautifully through the richness of the meat. The Tooth thought it was perfect. I think I still prefer wine with confit, but this would be a great second choice.