Friday, May 28, 2010

Vegetable Gratin

Here is the finished product from the photos below. This gratin was made with shallot, zucchini, and tomato, however eggplant is a good addition/substitution as is yellow squash, bell pepper, or fennel. Really whatever sounds good to you can be thinly sliced and layered in this easy dish. Here are a few more ideas for this recipe; fresh basil, mozzarella layer, roasted garlic, yummy.

1 zucchini, very thinly sliced (I used the good ol' mandolin)
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
1 large tomato, you guessed it...very thinly sliced
salt and pepper
heavy cream
parm cheese
panko or fresh coarse bread crumbs
herbs de provence

heat oven to 400
layer shallots in baking dish (ok I may have snuck a little bit of butter on top of this layer)
salt and pepper
make a layer of zucchini and sprinkle salt and pepper, and a little cheese
now the tomato layer, season with salt and pepper, sprinkle on some cream
one more zucchini layer, salt/pepper, cream, and cheese
this is where I stop layering either because I am out of veggies or I am impatient, but you could plan ahead and keep going to your hearts desire
the very top layer should be finished with bread crumbs and herbs de provence
in the microwave or stove top heat 1 teaspoon olive oil and a small pat of butter until melted
drizzle over top of crumbs and bake at 400 until golden on top
cut into wedges or squares and serve

Order in the Kitchen

I honestly don't think there is much compulsive French chef in me. I don't keep my kitchen super well organized (organized chaos is probably closer), I'm not all that good at cleaning as I cook, and I tend to shy away from trying complicated sounding recipes that include fine knife work or pastry making. However, my inner French Chef does appear occasionally like when I'm making this lovely vegetable gratin. I really love laying the tomatoes and zucchini in perfect, concentric circles. I will follow later with the recipe.

Rack of Lamb

I hope these photos are somewhat appealing because this is a delicious lamb recipe. For so little effort it comes out feeling and tasting like a special, fancy dinner.

pre-heat oven to 500
1 rack of lamb, trimmed of extra fat
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon salt, plus salt for seasoning meat before searing
1 small sprig fresh rosemary, finely chopped
black pepper
olive oil for pan and for drizzling

make a paste with the blunt side of your knife with the garlic, teaspoon of salt, and rosemary
heat a skillet over med-high (on the high side - you are searing meat) with a little olive oil
season rack with salt and pepper
sear meat on both sides until you have a crispy brown crust
remove rack to a baking sheet and use a fork (so as not to burn your self) to press paste evenly over top side of meat
season with pepper and drizzle a little olive oil on top
put in 500 degree oven for 7-10 min depending on desired degree of doneness
let meat rest 10 min before slicing

Truffle Brownie

I finally have started playing around with the iphoto program on my computer so I've saved a bunch of food images that were on my camera and will therefore be playing some posting catch-up. This is the truffle brownie I made for Valentines Day (that's in February...sigh). It was unbelievable. A rich chocolate cake topped with a chocolate ganache. I would eat this any day of the year. The recipe comes from my Martha Stewart Baking Book, but can also be found on her website.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Cornbread

I mentioned in my post below that I was not sure of the origin of our family cornbread recipe. Well my Mama saw that and promptly emailed me to let me know where it's from. Apparently she found the bones of the recipe in a Craig Claiborne cookbook. The recipe was for a "diet" cornbread (Claiborne had survived a heart attack and after that most of his recipes appeared without salt and generally low in fat). Mama thought the proportions in the recipe were perfect so she took that and added back in butter, salt, sour cream, and half and half! much for Mr. Claiborne's dietary suggestions. In her email she states that she thinks had he seen her recipe tweak he would have been, "horrified and honored".

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Simply a Good Dinner

Last night I wanted a very simple and easy dinner. I had also received a bag of cornmeal in my CSA box this week and I was curious to try it. I have to admit I am somewhat of a cornmeal connoisseur. If it's organic and stone/water ground I will buy it and try it. Hi my name is Tina and I'm a cornmeal addict. So I had gotten some cornmeal and I always have some chicken on hand because according to the nutritionist it is the great and easy source of high protein that is low in fat(blah blah blah). I also had it in my head to make a ratatouille of sorts. So here is the dinner that ended up one my plate: chicken breast, corn bread, ratatouille(ish). Now I have a moral dilemma. Do I share my beloved corn bread recipe on the internets or be greedy and hold it close. I'm not sure where this recipe came from originally, but it's the one my Mama makes and it is delish. A double batch of it goes in our Thanksgiving dressing. It is so good. Now if you are one of those yankees who likes their corn bread full of sugar then you can stop reading now because this ain't it! This is a traditional savory, rustic bread. If you want a little something sweet you can do what I do and slather some (more) butter on it and douse it in sorghum syrup. If you don't know what sorghum syrup is I'm gonna go ahead and say you are missing out. Google it and buy some (mine comes from the Buckners in Junction City, Ga - also a pretty good source for cornmeal and grits although I have to admit I have not bought from them in a couple years while I have been on my corn meal holy grail search). Ok on to the recipes. I am going to give out the corn bread recipe, but for the record the ratatouille was really good too and you should also make that.
Ps. Today for lunch I'm going to eat the left over ratatouille on top of some quinoa with a little crumbled goat cheese (also from the CSA

Corn Bread

pre-heat oven to 350
1 Cup white or yellow, organic, stone ground cornmeal
1/4 all purpose white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
mix dry ingredients in a bowl
in a wet measure cup:
1/3 cup sour cream
add in enough 1/2 and 1/2 or whole milk to bring up to 1 cup (i don't say 2/3 cup bc when you are basically putting spoonfuls of sour cream in a wet measure it's just easier this way)
beat 1 egg into the milk and sour cream mixture
add wet into dry
in an 8 inch cast iron skillet melt 4 tablespoons of butter
pour half of melted butter into batter and mix in well and leave other half of butter in skillet
pour batter into skillet and bake in 350 oven until top is golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean

Ratatouille (sort of)

heat a non-stick skillet over med high
add 2 tablespoons olive oil
saute: 1/2 sweet onion, 1 small zucchini, half a small eggplant, and 1 fresh tomato all chopped
add one clove of garlic minced before tomato goes in
season with Italian seasoning or herbs de provence, salt and pepper
Like I said you could add some fresh goat cheese, some mozzarella like in my pasta recipe, top it with fresh herbs, you could eat it with an egg on top or with some quinoa. Endless possibilities I tell you. Go forth and cook!