Garlic Aioli

This is like mayonnaise on crack, you will never again go back to Helman’s or whoever makes that terrible excuse for a sandwich spread.  Adding some garlic only makes it even tastier.  Aioli, like mayo, is an oil and egg emulsion and takes a ridiculous amount of beating to come together, so if you have a stand mixer you’re in luck, if not, start warming up your whisking arm now.

Makes 1/2 cup
Garlic Aioli
3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced (its even better if you add the salt below and grind it up either on the cutting board with your knife or in a mortar and pestle)
1 large egg yolk
1 tblsp lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

1. With an egg beater, stand mixer, or your hand whisk if you have forearms of steel, mix the garlic and egg yolk together until it forms a smooth mixture.

2. Mixing as quickly as possible very slowly begin adding the olive oil.

3. If it gets too thick add some lemon juice and then go back to the olive oil.

4. When you’ve added all the olive oil you should have a nice emulsion and you can finish with the remaining lemon juice, pepper, and salt if you didn’t use it to mash your garlic.

5. Spread on your favorite sandwich and enjoy your own mayonnaise killer.

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Dirty Rice

A Cajun classic.  Living only a really long drive away from New Orleans I make the trip usually at least once a year and my favourite part is often the food (its a toss up between that and the smell of urine and shame on Bourbon street).  Last time I was there I got Ann Couiellette’s Book Classic Creole and so in celebration of Mardi Gras, Lynn and I gave a couple of the recipes a whirl.  I’ve modified the recipe from the book a bit because I found it a little bland (basically doubled up on veggies and added more spices).

dirty riceServes 6
Dirty Rice
1 lb ground beef (though some ground andouille sausage would be better)
1 cup cooked rice
1/2 white onion, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Hot sauce (we prefer Texas Pete or North Carolina Pete as we call it since its actually made in North Carolina)
Salt and pepper

1. Heat a large skillet over medium and add the beef or sausage, cooking until done (about 10 minutes) and making sure to break up the meat.

2. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic and cook an additional 10-15 minutes until the vegetables soften.

3. Fold in the cooked rice and add hot sauce and salt and pepper to taste.

4. It’s that easy.

Chicken Vindaloo

This Indian classic has a good amount of spicy, but not too much.  Serve it with jasmin rice and naan to be transported to India, you know without the traffic and haggling.

[Eaten too quickly to get a picture, it was just that good]

Serves 4
Chicken Vindaloo
1 1/2 Tbs curry powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 3/4 inch pieces
8 medium garlic cloves, crushed and minced
4 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbs grated ginger
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained, 1/3 cup juice reserved
2/3 cup water

1. Mix together the curry, paprika, cayenne, and black pepper.

2. In a medium bowl combine half the garlic, 1 Tbs curry powder mix, 2 Tbs vinegar and 1 tsp salt.

3. Mix it up so everything’s nice and coated and set aside.

4. In large skillet or dutch oven heat a couple tablespoons oil over medium high until shimmering and add the onions with a pinch of salt.  Cook until they soften and start to brown.

5. Add the ginger, remaining garlic, remaining curry mixture, and stir for about 45 seconds.

6. Add the tomatoes and mix to combine, scrapping the bottom of the pan as you go.

7. Stir in the chicken, reserved tomato juice, remaining 2 Tbs vinegar, and water.

8. Bring to a boil, partially cover, and reduce heat to medium.

9. Simmer, stirring occassionally until the chicken is cooked, 17 minutes.

10. Season with salt and pepper and serve over rice.

Maryland Fried Chicken

This recipe uses saltines and milk to make a super tender fall off the bone fried chicken.
Serves 2
Maryland Fried Chicken
1 1/2 pounds chicken (thighs and legs), skin on, and on the bone
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1 cup smashed saltines (about 2/3 of a sleeve)
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp paprika
3 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
1 cup milk

1. Whisk together the egg and the the 1/4 cup milk.

2. Mix the crushed saltines, thyme, paprika, and pepper.

3. Add the oil to heavy duty skillet (pick one with a lid, you’ll thank me in step 7) and heat on medium.

4. Pat the chicken dry, dip in the egg mixture, and dredge in the saltines.

5. When the oil is shimmering add the chicken and cook for 10-15 minutes, rotating to make all the sides brown and crispy.

6. Drain all the oil.

7. Add the cup of milk, lower the temperature to medium low, cover and cook for 35 minutes.

8. Take off the cover and cook an additional 10 minutes.

9. Eat your delicious reward.

Salmon, Mint, and Pea Pasta

An unexpected combination of mint, peas and salmon bring together a light pasta dish.  The lemon and the mint together make this dish pair perfectly with a mojito to wash it all down.

Serves 2
Salmon, Mint, and Pea Pasta
3/4 pound salmon
1 lemon
1/8 cup mint, chiffonaded
1/2 pound pasta (farfalla is best)
5 oz frozen peas
1 tbsp butter
salt and pepper

1. Season the salmon with salt and pepper.

2. Cook the pasta according to the package directions.

3. While the pasta cooks, zest the lemon.

4. Add the salmon to a skillet, add a 1/2 cup of water, the lemon zest and the juice of the lemon.

5. Over medium heat bring this to a boil, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.

6. Add the peas and cook for another 7 minutes.

7. Drain the pasta and add the butter.  Stir in the mint and peas and flake the salmon into the pasta.

8. Delicious!

Sourdough Bread

The best kind of bread.  It takes on a unique flavor based on the yeast that lives in your area.  Mine had a hint of Parmesan cheese, which was great for my lactose intolerant friend who’s never been able to taste cheese before.  At least not without it ending very poorly.  This recipe has been modified slightly from the one shown in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart, I know its long and very tedious, but very worth it.  Pro Tip:  The longer its been since you’ve refreshed your barm (3 days max) the sourer your bread will be.
Makes 2 Loaves
Sourdough Bread
2/3 cup barm
1 cup bread flour
1/8 to 1/4 cup water

4 1/2 cups bread flour
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups water (90 to 100 F)
Corn meal for dusting

 1. Use a measuring cup dipped in cold water to measure out 2/3 cup of the barm into a mixing bowl.

2. Add the flour to the mixing bowl and the enough water to make everything a firm, slightly sticky, doughy ball.  This is your starter.

3. Lightly oil the starter ball and seal with plastic wrap.  Let sit at room temperature until it doubles in size (4 to 8 hours depending on temp and humidity).  Then put it in the fridge.

4. Remove the starter from the fridge 1 hour before making the dough.

5. Cut the starter into 10 pieces, lightly cover in oil and let sit another hour to take the chill off.

6. Stir together the salt and flour in an electric mixer bowl.  Add the starter pieces and enough of the lukewarm water to bring everything together into a ball.

7. Mix with a dough hook on medium-low speed for 4 minutes, rest for 10 minutes and then mix another 4 minutes.  The dough should be firm but tacky.

8. Lightly coat the dough with oil and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

9. Let sit at room temperature to double in size (4 to 8 hours again).

10.  Dust a baking towel with cornmeal, split the dough into two equal parts and form into loaves gently being careful not to degas the dough.

11. Mist the dough with oil and cover loosely by folding over the towel.

12. Let the dough rest for 2 to 3 hours.

13. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.  Put a baking pan on the top rack (you will add water to this right after the bread goes in to create steam).

14. Score the dough diagonally like you see done with real dough (or in the movies).  Dust a peal or cookie sheet with cornmeal and put the loaves on it.

15. Put the loaves in the oven and add a cup or two of water to the baking pan on the top rack and close the door.

16. After 30 seconds spray the walls of the oven with water using a mister.  Repeat two more time at 30 second intervals.

17. Reduce the oven to 450 degrees and bake for 10 minutes.

18. Rotate the loaves 180 degrees and cook another 10 to 20 minutes until its rich golden brown all over and sounds hollow when you tap on it.

19. Transfer to a cooking rack for at least 45 minutes before eating your delicious, delicious reward.

Pan Seared Scallops with Pea Puree

Whats better than scallops?  Scallops cooked in pancetta fat!  Throw in a pea puree and you get a great blend of savory and sweet in a super fast and super delicious meal.

Serves 2
Pan Seared Scallops
6 Sea Scallops
4 oz pancetta, diced
10 oz peas

1.Cook the peas according to package directions and puree in a food processor with salt to taste.

2. Heat a saucepan to medium high and cook the pancetta until done.

3. Add the scallops and cook for 2-3 minutes per side.

4. Serve the scallops with a swab of pea puree and some of the crispy pancetta bits.