Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Iron Skillet Asparagus w/Garlic

Asparagus w/Garlic by annbumbly 
Just before it goes on the dinner table
Asparagus and garlic. Two of my most favorite flavors in the whole wide world. And when they're cooked together? Perfection is mine! Many many years ago the hubs and I ate dinner at a friend's home and she included this in the meal we had. I was smitten! Totally and completely smitten! And also more than a little irritated that I hadn't figured out this taste sensation myself. It is so easy! Kudos to my old friend, Maria, for bringing this into my culinary repertoire. 

What a perfect spring-time dish this is - the height of asparagus season!

The T'nG:

Asparagus, thick or thin spears, trimmed of their tough ends
2 - 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
olive oil (I prefer EVOO)
salt & pepper to taste
parmesan or romano cheese, fresh grated (optional)
iron skillet (or other skillet) with a lid

Wash trimmed asparagus, leaving the water on. Smear the iron skillet (other skillets will do - I don't like using non-sticks as the heats is so high) with olive oil and heat to medium high to high. Throw the garlic slices in the pan and saute, stirring constantly till garlic is beginning to turn golden. With the lid at the ready, throw the asparagus spear in the skillet and quickly slap on the lid. Shake all violently for a minute or two, until the sizzling subsides. If your spears are quite thick, you might want to shake a few more minutes. Take lid off and, add salt and fresh ground pepper and continue to sautee until the asparagus are done to your liking - another 5 to 10 minutes. (Our family likes them best when they're cooked over a higher heat and the spears themselves are beginning to brown.) Put asparagus on a platter (you can leave it in the skillet, but they will continue to cook from the residual heat of the skillet), sprinkle with the cheese if desired and serve.


'till we feast again!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Grilled Artichokes ala Jules

Grilled Artichokes ala Jules by annbumbly
Fresh off the grill
photo courtesy of Julie 

Of late, our Whole Foods Market has had the most beautiful - and ginormous - artichokes. They're called ~long-stem artichokes~; something I'd never heard of or had seen. They were also on sale (hate paying $4.00++ for them), so I picked some up for our din-din. Steamed them the old fashioned fat-filled way (because of the butter, people, the butter, not the artichoke), and they were delicious. And so huge, they were shared and we all had more than enough to satisfy our bellies.

Of course, cousin Jules had to have her way with the long-stem 'chokes she bought. Needless to say, she created another culinary masterpiece (she's good at that). They were over-the-top delicious! And on top of that? They were healthy! Whoda thunk an artichoke could actually not be drowned in butter or hollandaise and still be delicious??

The T'nG:

long-stem artichokes (regular ones will do as well)
olive oil
lemon juice
lemon zest
fresh ground black pepper
salt to taste
shredded romano/parmesan cheese

Steam/boil the artichokes until just done. (Julie cut off the long stems, trimmed off the tough outer layers with a vegetable peeler and steamed them along with the whole artichokes.) Let them cool enough so you can handle them without burning the heck out of yourself. When cool, cut the artichokes in half. With a knife and spoon remove the choke (the inedible fibrous middle of the artichoke). In a separate bowl, mix together the olive oil, lemon juice and zest, pepper, salt and the parmesan cheese (amounts are up to you - yup, a T'nG at its finest!). Brush the mixture all over the halved 'chokes being sure to get marinade between the leaves. When you're ready, heat the grill to a high heat. Place the artichoke halves on the grill, cut side down. Grill until it's beginning to brown (see above), turn over, sprinkle the top with the cheese, close the grill and cook until cheese is beginning to melt and the bottom is beginning to brown. Serve hot off the grill or at room temperature. If there are leftovers (doubtful) rewarm them in the oven.


'till we feast again!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Spring-Time Dinner

Untitled by annbumbly
Spring-time table setting.

My mom is the quintessential food gal (read self-taught chef). Not only is the food she creates over the top, the table settings - and everything - is as well. All is just so, from the plates to the linens to the flowers. On top of that, the menus she comes up with are perfection! Consider this (and this is a ~simple~ any week night dinner):

Broiled Herbed Salmon

Salmon fillet - weight depending on number served - below, for four, (one pound)
juice of one lemon, divided
lemon zest
1/4 cup mayonnaise
fresh chopped dill and parsley
black pepper, fresh grated

Rinse salmon fillet and pat dry. Squeeze half the lemon on the fillet. Mix the mayonnaise with the herbs, pepper some of the lemon zest, and other half of the lemon juices. Slice the fillet into individual servings. Coat the salmon with the mayonnaise mixture. Broil until the salmon flakes easily; about 6 minutes. Serve with lemon halves on the side.

Pasta w/Veggies

spagetti, fettucini, whatever shape, cooked to package directions (keep warm)
This night, the vegetables we used were: 

Scallions, sliced diagonally in 1" pieces
garlic, sliced thinly length-wise
red pepper, diced
grape tomatoes, quartered
asparagus, sliced diagonally in 1" pieces
baby spinach leaves
lemon zest
olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a sauté pan. Add the scallions and garlic and cook for 2 minutes or so. Add the red pepper and cook for an additional 2 minutes or so. Add the tomatoes, asparagus, lemon zest and spinach and sauté until done. Turn off heat and WAIT until it's time to serve. You might have to reheat for a minute or so. 

Salad with Fruit

salad greens
pineapple chunks
strawberry slices
pear chunks
walnut pieces
lemon zest
red wine vinegar
olive oil
salt & pepper

Clean the salad greens (I prefer red leaf lettuce - anything will work, tho avoid iceberg for this). In a salad bowl, add the lettuce and all the extras. Just before serving, splash with the vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Toss, taste for seasonings, correct, and serve! 

The beginnings of the veggie sauté 

 The salmon just before it goes under the broiler 
(notice it's cut into serving pieces).

 The micro-planed lemon skin - that goes on just about everything!

The composed salad before it's tossed

The veggies as they're sautéing 

sautéd veggies just before adding to the pasta

The fabulous meal - salad is just out of photo range...


'till we feast again!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Shrimp & Bay Scallop...umm...Scampi?

Shrimp & Bay Scallop...umm...Scampi? by annbumbly
Shrimp & Bay Scallop....well....Scampi?
My entire grocery shopping list is totally and completely dependent on what is on sale (and, no, this doesn't seem to save me any money...dammit!). This week, much to my shock, jumbo shrimp were on sale for half their usual hefty price. So into the cart 2 lbs. went! Must say, I've never been very good with shrimp as we didn't have it a lot growing up as dad was allergic to it, and most of my basic cooking I learned from the years I lived at home. 
The only way I ever remembered having shrimp for dinner was boiled with seasonings, then thrown in the middle of the table (on a cookie sheet of course) and peeled by those of us who were enjoying the meal (only served when daddy was out of town). There probably was dipping sauce...but I really don't remember. DO remember what a wonderful meal it always was! 
At work today, I found Emeril's shrimp scampi recipe on foodnetwork.com so thought I'd try it. Got home, started making the recipe (no, I generally don't read through a recipe and pre-measure/prep everything, nor do I Clean-As-I-Go, much to my daughters' irritation) and realized it didn't really fit.  (Who the hell has the time to make ~shrimp stock~, whatever that is, an hour before dinner???) Here's what happened:

The T'nG:

butter, or, if you want to be healthy, olive oil
1 1/2 lbs. jumbo shrimp
1 lb. bay scallops
4 or 5 finely chopped garlic cloves
1 - 2 lemons, juiced 
at least 3/4 cup white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
(a bit of sugar if mix is too sour - optional)
about a 1/2 cup half & half cream
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley plus more for garnish
2 Tablespoons cold butter
Basmati rice, cooked to package directions
Steamed broccoli (what was our side dish)

Clean, devein and season shrimp well with salt and pepper. Heat a large sauté skillet over medium high heat. When pan is hot, add enough butter/oil to lightly coat pan. Add the shrimp in one layer and sauté until just turning pink, turn over and sauté a bit longer, till pink but not cooked through. Turn down the heat and add a bit more oil/butter and gently sauté the garlic for about a minute. Add the wine and lemon juice and set aside. In another skillet, heat it over medium high heat and warm up a bit more canola oil. Throw the scallops in the pan and cook until they begin to release their juices. When they've done that, drain them in a colander over the skillet with the garlic and wine so their juices all combine. Set the scallops aside. Bring the garlic/wine/lemon pan back to the heat, bring to a gentle simmer and reduce to at least half. After the alcohol has evaporated off, taste and if it's too tart, add a sprinkling of sugar. Add the cream and when that's warm, throw in the shrimp, scallops, parsley and 2 tablespoons butter. Heat through. Throw on more parsley for garnish and serve.
We served it over the rice with broccoli on the side. 



'till we feast again!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

I'll have the Spatchcock Chicken, please

Carving the Spatchcock Chicken by annbumbly
My dad carving our spatchcock chicken - he's one mean bird carver!
My mom, a really really good cook/kitchen general/chef, started roasting spatchcocked chickens about a year ago and now won't do roasted chickens any other way! I wholeheartedly agree! They are beyond perfection!
Spatchcock means you cut out the backbone of the bird and break the beast bone so the chicken (or turkey/quail/squab) lies flat. This allows all the skin to uniformly brown and both the breasts and thighs be done at the same time. Results? Delicious! 
When she first started roasting chickens this way, she'd first put 1/4" slices of onions in the pan with slices of lemons on top for the chicken's "trivet". Now she uses a mandolin to very very thinly slice the onions then the lemons for the trivet. What a difference! These onion & lemon slices cook to the point that they are falling apart and are just delicious as a side to serve over the top of the chicken. I'm tellin' ya, once you spatchcock, you won't go back! 
Mom also made a big mess of greens and beans to serve with our spatchcock chicken (recipe follows). That particular night we had a mix of mustard greens, kale and collard. Really doesn't matter what greens you use, or what combination, it's all so very good! In the past I've always used just escarole because it's the one green that didn't scare me, but now the sky's the limit! I'm willing to try any combination of those gorgeous greens! (See below greens recipe for more photos.)

The Spatchcock Chicken T'nG (in mom's words):

Preheat oven to 425º.

1 chicken 2 1/2 lbs. to no more than 3 1/2 lbs. (get to know your butcher - most chickens in the case are much larger than this. If you ask your butcher for one of their uncooked rotisserie chickens, you'll get a good one!)

Remove any excess fat and skin. With poultry shears or Joyce Chen clippers, cut along both sides of the backbone, removing it. I find it easier to cut through the bones if you first cut through the skin along each side of the spine. Save the backbone to make chicken stock. (Start a bag and store it in the freezer till you have enough to make stock.) Place the bird, breast side up, on a flat surface and push down on the breast bone to break it and flatten (spatchcock) it.  

Lightly coat a shallow baking dish with olive oil. To that add: 

1 large onion sliced very thinly - use a mandolin
1 lemon, sliced very thinly

Mix the lemon with the onion and spread in the baking dish(1). Add to that fresh thyme sprigs, fresh rosemary, fresh sage leaves; any herbs you like or have on hand - be sure to evenly scatter over your onion and lemon slices(1). Set the bird on top and bring the legs around so they fit flat and just under the breast (see above, or click on above photo to see more pics of the process), and also below pics  2&3). Lightly coat the chicken with olive oil and then season with more herbs, red pepper flakes/cayenne, salt, black pepper, and any other seasoning of your choice(4). Squeeze juice of a lemon over the bird. 

Bake for about an hour or until thermometer reads 165º (chicken will keep "cooking" after you take it out of the oven for some minutes). If it's browning too quickly, reduce the oven temp to 375º. Let chicken rest for 5 - 10 minutes before carving(5).

Serve pan juices with all the onion and lemon bits with the chicken. Encourage folks to put this strange looking stuff on their chicken serving. And be sure to save any left over pan juices after dinner to freeze for future sauces, gravies or soups. 


Beans & Greens
(last photo, below)

The B&G T'nG (in mom's words):

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 lb. kale, rinsed and cut into 1" sliced, crosswise
1 lemon, juiced
salt & pepper to taste
2 15 oz. cans cannellini/white beans, rinsed well
EVOO for drizzling - optional

Heat oil in a large sauté pan and, when hot, add the onion, garlic and crushed red pepper. Sauté until the garlic is fragrant; about 30 seconds. Add the kale and season with salt and pepper. Squeeze the lemon over the kale and stir. Fold in the beans, cover and simmer until the kale is wilted and cooked through, about 20 minutes. To serve, transfer to a serving dish and drizzle with EVOO.

Mom writes: "This can be altered to serve 2 people, and remember both of these recipes are just a starting point! Different greens, other beans or whatever. Herbs are up to you as well."







Beans & Greens



'till we feast again!