Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Shaping the Trout Cakes

Shaping Trout Cakes by annbumbly
Shaping the trout cakes into patties

When we went home to Columbia, MO last summer, I found that my mom and daughter had discovered a new cookbook, Cooking Wild in Missouri, that is printed by the Missouri Department of Conservation. Rem took one look at it (it's beautifully photographed) and declared she was going to "cook the book". A worthy endeavor! The recipes are spot-on, and the ingredients Missourahhh wonderful! The first recipe she made was the following trout cakes. 
Columbia happens to have an over-the-top-wonderful farmer's market and there's a gal that comes up from the Ozarks each week who sells fresh farmed trout. The day we were there, we bought two extra trout knowing we wanted to try this trout cake recipe the next evening. We were not disappointed. Oh no, not in the least were we disappointed! 

Missouri ~Crab~ Cakes

Actually these are Missourahhh trout cakes made New England crab cake style. What could be better than that? (As I said, this recipe is from the cookbook written by Bernadette Dryden and titled "Cooking Wild in Missouri". It's only $15.00. Do yourself a favor and buy it! Now!) Ms. Dryden serves this over a salad with a citrus vinaigrette (recipe follows) - and so did Remy. Delicious!

The T'nG:

1 cup picked over trout (no bones allowed) (left over from previous grilled meal)
1 cup breadcrumbs (homemade preferred)
4 tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
2 scallions, finely chopped
1/2 red pepper, finely chopped
1 gargantuan tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1 heaping teaspoon of fresh Bum hot or other hot red pepper
juice of one fresh lemon
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Mix trout well with 1/4 cup of the breadcrumbs and the next 7 ingredients, through the salt and pepper. Your mixture will be moist. Form into 2 inch wide patties. Dip patties in the remaining bread crumbs and pat all over. Fry in the butter over medium heat, cooking until the bottom side is golden brown. Carefully turn over and brown the other side.  Toss your salad greens with the citrus vinaigrette dressing. Serve 1 - 2 trout cakes on top of the salad. 


Citrus Vinaigrette Salad

fresh mixed salad greens
extra virgin olive oil
fresh lemon juice
fresh garlic, finely chopped
salt and fresh ground pepper
Wash salad greens, dry and put in salad bowl. Mix approximately 3 parts oil to 1 part lemon juice. Add a touch of garlic and whisk vigorously. Season to taste with the salt and pepper and whisk again. To test, dip a piece of lettuce in the dressing. Correct seasonings. 

Put salad on a plates and the add two trout cakes per plate. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mary Poppins and Shepherd's Pie - Yes, They Go Together!

The Beginnings of Shepherd's Pie by annbumbly
Well, at least the beginnings of Shepherd's Pie

When our children were growing up, our lovely Sheila lived with us and was their ~Mary Poppins~; and in the years since, tho no longer living with us, she has most definitely become family. She brought many wonderful things to our family, and one of the very best was her English cooking. No groans allowed, as we all quickly figured out that most English cooking, aside from waaaay over-cooked veggies, is really really delicious! Miss She introduced us to Scotch eggs, rice pudding, corned beef hash (whoa thunk that would be delicious!?!) and, drum roll please, Shepherd's Pie, to name a few. 
Much as I love it, I hadn't made Shepherd's Pie for years. Until recently. I had a taste for it about a month or two ago and decided it was time to recreate Sheila's masterpiece. It was wonderful and most amazingly, the hubs loved it too.  We've enjoyed it pretty regularly since then, to the point that when I made one for dinner for the Murray family who were returning from a ski trip, George (the hubs) said I couldn't take them one unless there was one for us as well. Happy to oblige!

The T'nG:

1 1/2 or so lbs. ground beef
3 - 5 carrots, quartered length-wise then sliced 1/4" thick
1 medium onion chopped to size of the carrots
1 - 2 Tablespoons butter 
1 - 2 cups water
frozen corn, amount to your taste
frozen peas, amount to your taste
1 1/2 C. gravy (homemade or if you don't have that, a Better 'n Gravy or McCormick packet)
Worcestershire sauce to taste
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
any other seasonings you might like

mashed potatoes
shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350º. 
In an iron skillet (preferably) brown ground beef and then drain into a bowl so you can separate fat from any liquids. Set aside. Melt butter in same skillet and sauté the carrots and onions over medium high heat for 5 or so minutes. Pour the water over the carrots and onions just to cover and boil off the water. This tenderizes the carrots. Add beef, and any liquid left from draining it, back to the skillet and mix all together. Pour on the gravy to moisten it all - but don't add too much as you don't want it soupy. Add Worcestershire sauce, salt and paper and any other herbs you might like. Stir together well and taste to be sure seasonings are to your liking. Just before topping with the mashed potatoes, pour in desired amounts of corn and peas. I generally add about a cup of each. 
If you're not using the the skillet you've just made everything in, pour mixture into a casserole dish. Top with mashed potatoes (recipe below), then sprinkle with the cheddar cheese and lightly with paprika. Bake until bubbly and hot through and through, about 30 - 45 minutes. 
This can be made ahead. Just be sure to bring it to room temp. before baking. 

Mashed Potatoes

Alrighty then...a bit of honesty is required here. Because of good advice I've gotten from cousin Julie, the last two times I've made Shepherd's Pie, I've cheated and bought already made mashed potatoes. Simply Potatoes and Country Crock are two brands. I heat them in the microwave according to package directions, then whip them with a little extra melted butter, salt and pepper and freshly grated nutmeg. Heck of a lot easier than making from scratch, and in this instance, no one can tell the difference! However, for those of you (hello Mom!) who are pure of heart, here's the from scratch way: 

3 - 5 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled, halved and cut in thirds
1 C. or so hot milk
1 stick butter, melted in milk
salt, fresh ground pepper and nutmeg to taste

Put potatoes in a pot with water just to cover. Boil until potatoes are done. Drain potatoes and put through a ricer (my preferred way). Mix in milk, butter and seasonings to taste. 



'till we feast again! 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Stuffed Zucchini

Stuffed Zucchini by annbumbly
Stuffed Zucchini ala Kayotic Kitchen
I first fell in love with the Kayotic Kitchen blog back in November of 2010 when my daughter Remy, (a fantastic food-making girl), came across this recipe and made it for dinner. What a combination of flavors! Kay, who is Dutch, lives in Holland and is the author of the Kayotic Kitchen blog, seems to have a real knack of combining the perfect ingredients, tho not always what you'd think would be combined, to come up with a dish that you simply can't stop eating! Her stuffed zucchini is certainly all that! When Remy made this, she made half with the optional bacon ingredient (our American bacon bits) and half without. Though we both really liked the stuffed zucchini with bacon, (hubs George much preferred it), we liked the non-bacon version better. (Possibly if we'd used the same kind of Dutch-bought bacon that Kay used, we would have liked that bacon version better.) Though from the comments I gather that many folks have changed her recipe to this that and the other, this is one recipe that we pretty much (a pinch more salt, a dash more pepper, a little more sour cream) stick to the same ingredients in Kay's recipe. Why mess with perfection? (Oh, and do treat yourself to visiting her Stuffed Zucchini blog post - her step-by-step photos are MUCH better and more complete than my one measly photo!)


The T'nG (and [mostly] in Kay's words): 

1 T. sour cream (heaping)
1/4 - 1/2 t. salt (Wow! Kay's a T'nG cook as well!)
1/4 t. curry powder (man does this send flavors over the top!)
1/2 fresh tomato [dead winter here so I used 1/2 can petit diced tomatoes - summer only fresh tomatoes!]
1 t. dry thyme
2 zucchinis
1 small onion
1 T. oil or butter
parmesan/romano cheese

Optional: bacon

Preheat oven to 400º F. Give the zucchini a good scrub. Slice them in half length-wise and don't bother to trim the ends. I kinda like how rustic it makes them look. Spoon out the guts, leaving about 1/2" on both ends, until you end up with boat-like shells. (Be careful you don't dig too deep and split the zucchini in two.) Now give the zucchini pulp a good chop, and while you're at it chop up your onion and tomato - be sure to seed and then drain the tomato of liquid so your stuffed zucchini isn't too watery. Saute the onion in oil/butter until it's becoming brown. When the onion is almost done, add the curry powder and cook for an additional 30 seconds - no longer or the curry powder will turn bitter. When they're done, transfer to a big bowl. 
Now this is completely optional. If you want to stick with a vegetable dish, fine, just leave the bacon out. [Kay writes] I personally like the crunch and saltiness it gives, so I cook a few slices and let them drain on a paper towel.  
Now (in no particular order), add the thyme, salt, sour cream, a good pinch of pepper, the zucchini pulp, the tomato and crumble in the bacon as well. Mix well.
Lightly butter a baking dish and put the zucchini boats on it. Grab a spoon and fill the shells with the mixture. Sprinkle some cheese on top. Place in the preheated oven and give them about 20 minutes. Then turn on the broiler element and broil until the top is golden brown. Sprinkle some coarsely chopped parsley (the most underrated herb there is [I agree!!]) on top and you're done! 
They're best served straight out of the oven, so make what you'll eat!



'till we feast again!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Tortellini in Cream Sauce

Tortellini in cream sauce with... by annbumbly
Tortellini in Cream Sauce

My cousin Julie has a knack for creating dishes without recipes that always always turn out to be absolutely outrageously good. Tonight I took a page from her game book, added a few ingredients to her original tortellini dish and came up with the followings - and as the hubs said, "Get it away from me before I lick the skillet clean!" - delightful dish.


The T'nG:

2 packages fresh tortellini 
1/2 stick butter
1 large shallot, chopped
1 package mushrooms, cut in half, then sliced
baby spinach (I used what was left of a half a plastic container of fresh, about 2 cups)
handful of frozen peas
1 pint heavy cream (yes, very bad, but OH so good!)
parmesan or romano - the better the quality, the better the dish - to taste
nutmeg, freshly ground
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
parsley, fresh and chopped (didn't add it as I forgot to buy it, but would have if I'd had it)

Cook tortellini to package directions. Meanwhile, melt butter in a skillet (cast iron is the best) and sauté the shallot and mushroom until they start to caramelize. Add the spinach and cook until wilted. Add cream and peas and heat thoroughly. Add cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Taste sauce and correct seasonings. Drain tortellini and add to the sauce, tossing well. Serve with more parmesan/romano on the side. 



'till we feast again!