10.06.2013

MUSHROOM & ASPARAGUS OMELETTE

This is one of my most optimized recipes. I worked on getting the flavor combinations right in this omelette for over three years. I don't really know where I got the inspiration for it, but the flavors I was most intrigued by were on the "earthy" side of the palate. It took a while to find the right ingredients, but I settled on the following: goat cheese, dill, mushrooms, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and asparagus. There's nothing too complicated about this recipe, spare the cooking of the filling prior to cooking the omelette itself.




Yield: Approx 3 omelettes


Ingredients
5


10 spears
1 clove
1 Tbsp
1/4 Tbsp
2 Tbsp
4 Tbsp
1 tsp
1 tsp
2 Tbsp

Medium eggs, beaten
Large cremini mushrooms, sliced
Sun-dried tomatoes, chopped finely
Asparagus, chopped on a bias
Garlic, chopped finely
Fresh dill, chopped finely
Herbes de Provence 
Goat cheese, crumbled
Parmesan cheese, grated
Salt
Pepper
Olive Oil
Directions
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8

In a medium sauce pan, heat olive oil and saute asparagus.
After 1 minute, add the garlic and mushrooms
Saute for 2-3 minutes, season with salt, pepper, and herbes de Provence
Stir to combine, remove from heat.
In an omelette pan, heat oil and add eggs. Allow the omelette to set
Flip the omelette and fill with cheese, filling, and sun-dried tomatoes.
Fold the omelette over
Top with dill and Parmesan cheese

9.29.2013

SALMON w/ LEMON CAPER SAUCE

This is my copycat version of a salmon entree I had at a local Italian restaurant named Capers & Lemons. The dish includes a fillet of salmon, grilled and served over a bed of spinach sauteed in garlic olive oil, and a side of orzo. I think the beauty of this dish really lies in how it introduces all five tastes into every bite -- sweetness from the orzo and salmon, bitterness from the spinach, acidity from the lemon and white wine base, and lastly the salty umami flavor from the capers and garlic. This recipe is, of course, my take on that Capers & Lemons salmon dish, however, I really tried to stay true-to-form here, not deviating too far from the flavors I remember.

The following recipe is actually just for the salmon and lemon caper sauce. The spinach recipe is exactly the same as the one I posted for the kale. The orzo recipe, will follow in due course. A few comments about this recipe. I baked the fish instead of grilling it. I thought it would give me a better handle on the slow-cook needed to prevent the albumin from surfacing. Unfortunately, there was a little albumin present (which didn't hurt the dish at all, but reminds me of the reason one of the chefs got sent home in an old episode of Top Chef). Next time I may actually go with a lower temperature setting on the oven and cook the salmon a little longer.






Ingredients
1 fillet

1
2 Tbsp
2 Tbsp
1 Tbsp
1/4 cup
1 Tbsp
1 Tbsp
2 tsp

Salmon, patted dry
Shallot, finely diced
Scallion, cut into strips
Champagne vinegar
Savignon blanc
Butter
Extra virgin olive oil
Lemon zest
Capers
Parsley, chopped

Directions
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
Season salmon fillets with salt and pepper.
Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
Combine shallot, vinegar and wine in a sauce pan and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the butter and olive oil and stir to incorporate.
Add in the lemon zest, followed by the capers.
Fold-in fresh parsley, remove from heat, and spoon over fish.
Top with scallions and serve. 




9.28.2013

SAUTEED KALE IN GARLIC OLIVE OIL

I love kale, and this is really a very healthy and simple preparation. This recipe can really be used on any dark leafy green (spinach, collard greens, broccoli rabe, etc.) 


Ingredients
2 Bunches
4 Tbsp
6-8 Cloves
½ tsp
1 tsp

Kale, rinsed and spun dry
Olive oil
Garlic, sliced or rough-chopped
Red pepper flakes
Salt

Directions
1
2
3
4
5
Heat a large sauce pan to medium heat and add oil.
Toss in garlic, reduce to low heat and cook, stirring constantly for 5 minutes.
Remove the garlic and reserve on paper towels.
Add the kale to the hot oil and sautee until wilted (2-3 minutes).
Fold in the the red pepper flakes and the reserved garlic.



TANDOORI DRY-RUB... TAKE ONE

As the title of this post suggests, I will more than likely experiment with this recipe a few more times. This dish needs a lot of work, but I thought I'd get it out there for other palates and minds to mull over. 

But before you run off an try this, or just cast it off as some sub-par vegetarian/vegan take on a standard meat dish, I'd like to share why I choose to use tofu and not an actual meat. I've had this thought about creating a two-layer barbecue recipe that builds on the the traditional tandoori chicken concept for a long time now -- a thin crust of savory herbs and spices on top of which you baste a sweet and tangy BBQ sauce. Together the layers will provide the classic flavors one would associate with tandoori chicken. My thought is that the ultimate meat to put this on would be a rack of baby-back ribs, but that is a long ways off, as I'm not going to waste a perfectly good piece of meat on a recipe that is no where close to where I'd like it to be. So... getting back to the tofu... it's about as bland a protein substrate as you can get. If you can get this slab of bean curd to taste good, you've done something right with the rub. And that, my friends, is why I chose tofu. 

This recipe is really focused on one of the two components: the dry rub. I thought that if I can get this base rub right, it shouldn't be too difficult to find a tangy sweet sauce to accompany it. I may be wrong, but I'm going to go with that assumption for now. This rub is a good starting point. It actually works very well with chicken, and more specifically, baked chicken. I've used it on chicken that I've prepared over a grill, but I think the high and direct heat of the grill may actually char some of the spices, rendering them more bitter than what I care for. Again, I'm looking for a subtle crust, that provides a savory background where you can taste all the individual herbs and spices. The base of this rub is built on onion and garlic powder, coriander, cumin, and a little bit of cayenne pepper. I added a little turmeric, mainly for the color, but I think it may have actually been the main culprit of that bitterness I pointed out earlier. In addition, I thought that I could dial in a little tang with some ginger powder, but again, I think I can pull back on it in the rub and rely on the ingredients in the sauce to bring in that flavor. I also think that with ginger, you're always walking a tight rope with respect to its spicyness vs. its tanginess, a little too much, and it's biting back at you.

Alright, so please let me know if you try this. Also, if you do take it to the next step and experiment with sauces, I'd love to know about it.


Ingredients
1 Tbsp
1 Tbsp
1 Tbsp
½ Tbsp
1 tsp
1 Tbsp
½ Tbsp
2 tsp
2 tsp
1 lb
2 Tbsp
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Ground coriander
Ground cumin
Cayenne powder
Ground ginger
Ground turmeric
Ground black pepper
Salt
Extra-Firm Tofu, drained, pressed dry, and cut into 2"x 3" slabs @ ½" thickness
Canola Oil

Directions
1
2
3
4
5
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
In a bowl, mix all the dry spices.
Drizzle canola oil over tofu and toss gently to coat.
Add ½ Tbsp of the dry rub to each slab of tofu, ensuring that all sides are coated evenly.
Place on a baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes, turning half-way through.


7.06.2013

GRILLED HALIBUT WITH CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

I recently visited a seafood restaurant while out on a business trip in the Pacific North West, and had a Chilean sea bass. I ordered it grilled with chimichurri sauce, and was surprised as to how well the garlic, parsley, and olive oil flavors of the sauce complemented the light, buttery, sweet meat of the Chilean sea bass. In hindsight, the surprise was largely unwarranted; I’ve had pesto crusted white fish on numerous occasions, and chimichurri isn’t that far off. However, I think the nature of my surprise stemmed more from the fact that I’d previously had chimichurri sauce on robust meats (steaks, pork, etc.). The following meal takes its inspiration from that dinner I had at the seafood restaurant.

Instead of the Chilean sea bass, I decided to go with a halibut. I’m sure this goes without saying, but it’s important to buy your fish as fresh as possible, keep it as dry as you can, and only let it warm to room temperature when you’re ready to cook it. The key is really to buy and consume fish seasonally, from a store that can guaranty the freshness. We found a great fish market close to our house called Captain’s Catch. They only sell day-boat quality fish, and thus their prices tend to fluctuate drastically, based upon the spot market. For example, wild-caught Atlantic halibut runs between $16 and $24/lb as compared to the standard $8/lb contract price available at the local Costco), however, the difference in quality is readily noticeable. Since this recipe aims to complement the natural flavors of the fish, I went with the more expensive cut. If you’re looking to drown out the flavors of the halibut with spices and seasoning, go for a fish you can get at the $8/lb price point.
                        
The flavor of this meal stems predominantly from the freshness of the ingredients, both in terms of the fish, and in terms of the herbs and spices that constitute the chimichurri sauce. For this reason, it’s important to not over-season the fish – just salt and pepper, nothing more. There are three very important tricks to grilling fish: (1) clean your grill rack. The grill needs to be as smooth and even-heating as possible. (2) heat your grill to as high as it will go. Fish cooks fast and you’ll have to watch it, but the soft flaky flesh requires a proper sear to not break apart while cooking, and (3) properly oil your fish. Oil your fish, not the grill. I use about a ¼ teaspoon of canola oil on the flesh side of the halibut fillet, spreading it out with my hands and making sure to form an even coat. I then season the flesh-side with salt and pepper and grill the fish, flesh-side-down. For a 2-inch thick fillet, I grill the fish for about 8-10 minutes on the flesh-side, allowing for a thick crust to form. Flip the fish and grill it skin-side-down for another 4 to 5 minutes to allow the meat to cook through.

In plating the fish, I decided to take a creative license with the “surf n’ turn” concept. While this term unarguably implies the combination of seafood with a land-based meat option (usually mammalian), I thought a better balance to the grilled halibut could be provided by a more literal interpretation of “turf”—a roasted brussels sprouts and shiitake mushroom quinoa salad. The earthy flavors of the roasted brussels sprouts and shiitake mushrooms and quinoa do well to balance out the acidity of the chimichurri sauce, while the sweetness of the caramelized onions blend in well with the sweet flaky flesh of the halibut.




Ingredients
½ lb
½ tsp
½ tsp
½ tsp
Wild-caught Atlantic halibut, fillet with skin-on
Canola oil
Salt
Ground black pepper

Directions

1
2
3
4
5
6
Preheat grill to high heat.
Coat flesh-side and sides of halibut filet with canola oil.
Season with salt and pepper
Place on preheated grill, flesh-side-down.
Sear for 18-10 minutes, checking frequently to assess the build-up of a crust.
Flip the filet and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes, until flesh flakes off readily with a fork.

CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

Chimichurri sauce is an Argentinean sauce made with a combination of fresh herbs and spices. It’s very similar to a pesto, in that, it derives much of its flavors from the crushing of herbs into a fat base, like olive oil. The following is my version of the sauce. There are many other versions available on-line, so please experiment and let me know what you come up with.

Ingredients
3 Tbsp
1 Tbsp
2 Tbsp (4 cloves)
2 Tbsp
1 Tbsp
3 tsp
1 tsp
1 tsp
2 Tbsp
¼ cup
Flat-leaf parsley, fresh, chopped finely
Cilantro, fresh, chopped finely
Garlic, minced
Shallot, minced
Dried oregano
Crushed red pepper flakes
Salt
Ground black pepper
Red wine vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil

Directions

1
Combine the salt and vinegar in a bowl or mortar, stir to dissolve.
2
Add in the red pepper, black pepper, and oregano. Muddle to infuse. Let stand for 5 min.


3
Whisk in about half of the olive oil. Add the parsley, garlic, and shallot.


4
Muddle ingredients with a pestle to incorporate.
5
Whisk in the remaining olive oil.






6
Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld.



QUINOA WITH ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS AND SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS




Ingredients
¼ cup
½ cup
5 heads
4 cloves
½ small
6-8 medium
2 Tbsp
1 Tbsp
2 Tbsp
2 tsp
1 tsp

Quinoa, dry uncooked
Water
Brussels sprouts, quartered
Garlic, minced
Red onion, julienned
Shiitake mushroom caps, sliced
Canola oil
Olive oil
Red wine vinegar
Salt, divided
Ground black pepper


Directions

1
2

3

4
5

6
Preheat oven to 450 oF.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the canola oil, garlic, brussels sprouts and shiitake mushrooms. Toss to coat. Pour into lightly greased baking dish and bake for 15-20 minutes.
Combine quinoa and water in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to simmer, and cook for 20 minutes.
Pour cooked quinoa into mixing bowl and toss with olive oil and red wine vinegar. Set aside.
Remove roasted vegetables from oven. Allow to cool. Chop roughly and combine with the quinoa.
Season with salt and pepper.

6.16.2013

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND SHIITAKE MUSHROOM PIZZA

The inspiration for this recipe came from the Roasted Cauliflower pizza at Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza.  As the name implies, the Anthony’s version is baked in a brick oven (>600oF) beside a coal fire.  As a consequence, their pizzas come out “well done,” and in the case of the Roasted Cauliflower pizza, on the verge of being burnt. That’s not to say that this pizza isn’t good, it’s just that the smokiness of a charred crust doesn’t do much to complement the other ingredients, and results in an overall dry and salty taste. This may very well be the intent of the pizza, but I found this flavor profile to be too crowded, and almost overpowering. 

In my version of the pizza, I used the brackishness of roasted garlic as a bookend for the salt and the sweetness of caramelized onions as a bookend for the sugar, and created a gradient of flavors in between. Mozzarella cheese is good to bring out the sweetness of a crust, while providing enough softness to hold on to the bulky cauliflower. I found that roasting the cauliflower actually brings out a fair amount of sugar, so I thought roasted shiitake mushrooms, which come with an earthiness, would do well to round out the flavors. Rosemary-infused olive oil added some aromatic depth, and grated parmesan brought in a little acidity (salty tanginess). 

I’ve experimented with a few different breads and crusts (ready made flat bread, Trader Joe’s pizza dough, and home-made pizza dough), and also a few different baking methods (pizza peel, pizza stone, and propane grill). On the front of dough, I really couldn’t tell the difference. The flavors of this recipe are derived largely from the combination of ingredients on top of the crust. The bread you use provides little (if any) changes to the flavor profile. In terms of a cooking method, however, I’d recommend using a pizza stone or a grill. There are some subtle changes to texture that come with higher and more uniformed heats. For example the pizza stone made the crust a little flakier, while the grill made the crust a little crispier and dry. The pizza peel, on the other hand, made the crust soft

In the end, this pizza tastes a lot different from the Anthony’s version. In fact, the only commonality is the use of cauliflower. For this reason, I’d recommend trying both.



Ingredients
5 Tbsp
2 Tbsp
2 Tbsp
7 cloves
1 head
½
5 oz
1½ cup
1½ cup
1 (10” x 12”)
Olive Oil
Butter (divided in half)
Rosemary, chopped (divided in half)
Garlic, chopped
Cauliflower, cut into florets
Large red onion, julienned
Shiitake mushrooms, sliced thinly
Mozzarella cheese, grated
Parmesan cheese, grated
Pre-made flat bred or crust

Directions
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12

13
Preheat oven to 400 oF.
In a medium saucepan, heat 3 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat.
Add in rosemary and garlic. Stir, infusing for 30 seconds.
Remove from heat and combine with cauliflower in a large mixing bowl. Toss to coat evenly.
In a large mixing bowl, combine mushrooms and olive oil, toss to coat.
Spread cauliflower in a baking dish. Roast in oven at 400oF for 15 minutes.
Add mushrooms to the baking dish, season with salt and pepper, toss.
Return to oven for an additional 10 minutes, until the cauliflower is golden brown.
Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a medium saucepan on high heat. Add onions and caramelize.
Infuse 1 Tbsp of butter with 1 Tbsp of rosemary.
Brush the seasoned butter onto flat bread and bake on a pizza stone for 15 minutes.
Assemble the pizza by layering mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, cauliflower, mozzarella, and then a layer of caramelized onions.
Sprinkle the pizza with parmesan cheese, and bake on a pizza stone for 10 to 15 minutes.







INTRODUCTION

Fatherhood and Pizza Pie  /’fä-thər-húd ▪ ən(d) ▪ pēt-sə ▪ pī/  noun.  1. a catalog of some of my favorite recipes. 2. a record of my experiments in new flavor combinations and culinary technique. 3. a blog documenting my journey through fatherhood as I teach my daughter how to try new things, explore different cultures, and experiment by trial and error, all through food and cooking.