Collaboration

I’m a big fan of social media.  I’m on instagram, twitter, facebook, the whole bit.  I went to college in Oklahoma and now live in Miami, Florida so it’s also a great way to keep up with old friends.  One such friend who’s been an absolute joy to follow on social media has been my good friend Elaine.

Elaine, who is a busy professional, always wows me with the stunning meals she prepares daily (which she is meticulous about documenting on social media).  These meals are well planned, but accommodating to her demanding life style.  She also married a sommelier  so those meals are always expertly paired with delicious wines.

Out of all my friends who enjoy cooking, I believe Elaine and I have the most similar feelings about good food.  Good food is meant to be enjoyed daily, not on special occasions, not for once in a while.  You eat good food every day not only to fuel your body, but to enjoy a simple pleasure in this busy world.  To that end, I’ve invited her to contribute to this blog whenever and however she wants.  I know you will enjoy her recipes and thoughts on food and wine.

WELCOME ELAINE!

 

 

My latest excuse

I am sure you guys don’t want to hear why I haven’t posted to the blog recently.  But I have an excellent reason!

 

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On January 24, 2014 I became father to a beautiful healthy little girl named Veronica.  Don’t think for a second that has hampered my cooking at all, in fact I think it’s enhanced it.  I’ve had to be more efficient with my time, but still produce great high quality meals for my nursing wife, my saint of a mother in law, and parents who have been helping us raise this little peanut.

For instance,  a week after Veronica was born, after a week of hard work and reduced sleep (Thankfully Veronica has been a very good infant sleeper even when we first brought her home), I made grilled veal chops and a lovely apple crostata with dulce de leche.

Grilled Veal Chops

2-3 Large veal rib chops (I’m talking Flintstone sized, should be almost 2 lbs of meat)
3-4 cloves of garlic chopped
5-6 sprigs of thyme
2-3 glugs of good olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste (Optional)
Method: Pre heat grill to high heat (I use a weber kettle with natural charcoal, I can’t handle the smell of the petroleum in briquettes anymore).  While grill is heating up, combine the above listed ingredients in a glass baking dish. Coat chops.   When grill is ready, sear chops on hot side (watch for flare ups from oil) on both sides, then move to cold side of grill.  Cover grill and roast chops for about 10 minutes (depending on heat of grill and size of chops).

I served the chops with boiled green plantains, grilled okra and grilled leeks.  For the Okra, all you need to do is get them on a skewer and brush with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and flash them on the hot side of the grill for about 1 minute or two on each side.  The only better way to eat Okra is fried next to a giant piece of catfish in Oklahoma.

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As for the crostada, I’m most proud of this idea.  We are part of Annie’s Organic Buying Club, which is a great organic produce share in Florida.  While I love our produce share, it seems like we get a bag of apples ever share, and we never eat very many.  I had a bunch of apples so I decided to make a pie, but I wanted to do something different, so I thought about making a crostada.

With the baby, papa don’t have no time to be making a pie crust from scratch.  I bought a store-bought pie crust and added a twist.  Dulce de leche.  Absolutely made the dish.

Dulce de Leche Apple Crostada

Ingredients:

6-8 apples (use what you like, the crostada doesn’t bake for very long), peeled sliced and cored
3/4 cup of sugar
2-3 tbs of cinnamon
2-3 tbs of cornstarch or flour
3-4 tbs butter, cubed
1 cup of prepared dulce de leche (you can make it yourself by boiling a jar of sweetened condensed milk, but since I didn’t want to be horrifically injured by an exploding can of sweetened condensed milk, I used the prepared stuff)
1 store-bought refrigerated pie crust sheet

Method:  Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix apples, sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon in a large bowl.  Wait until Apples start to release a little bit of juice and the mixture surrounding the apples turns into a slurry. It should be fairly thick, if it’s too loose add more cornstarch.  Add butter and transfer directly to rolled out pie crust sheet.  The sheet of pie crust should be directly on a baking sheet.  Place the apples in the center of pie crust.  Spoon the dulce de leche even over top of apples and fold up edges of pie crust toward center to basically have a giant hole of exposed apples and dulce de leche in the center (it should look like a doughnut).  Sprinkle edges of exposed crust with a little of sugar (you can eggwash the outside if you want then add sugar) and bake until golden brown and crust about 30-40 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 30 minutes before serving.

 

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Fig Pizza with Caramelized Onion, Rosemary, and Roasted Garlic

Felt inspired to make a fig pizza this weekend.  A good friend of mine asked me for the recipe, so here it is Catalina!

Ingredients:

Fresh Pizza dough.  I used this recipe from Bobby Flay.
two large onions, thinly sliced
2 heads of garlic
several figs, sliced
2-3 cups of fontina cheese, grated
2-3 tbs fresh rosemary, chopped

Method:

Prepare pizza dough (or better yet, buy it from your local pizzeria).  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut tops off two heads of garlic and place in packet of aluminum foil.  Drizzle garlic with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Close packet of aluminum foil and roast in heated oven for 45 minutes or so, until garlic is soft.  Meanwhile heat large saute pan to medium-low heat and add olive oil.  Slowly saute onions until caramelized (about 40 minutes) making sure to stir the onions periodically.  Avoid cooking the onions too quickly.  Allow carmelized onions and roasted garlic to cool and set aside.

Raise oven temperature to 475 degrees.  Knead dough on floured surface until flat and at kneaded to desired shape.  I like to make mine rectangular and put it on a sheet pan.  Squeeze out roasted garlic onto dough and spread it evenly over the dough.  Add caramelized onions and rosemary.  Top the pizza with the fontina cheese and place sliced figs on top.   Bake pizza until crust is golden (and golden spots form on cheese).

Allow 2 or 3 minutes to cool.  Slice and serve.

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Prior to baking

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Meatless Monday Meal

 

In an effort to spice things up, and to use the abundance of vegetables we receive in our produce share every other Monday, I have been attempting to prepare Meatless Monday meals as often as possible.  It’s not always practical because of our jobs (it’s also easier to eat Sunday leftovers on Monday).

I made a roasted eggplant lasagna/parmigiana the other day.  It was easy to make.

Ingredients:

2 eggplants peeled and sliced thin
3 cups ricotta cheese
1.5 cups of grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
3-4 tbs chopped fresh Italian herbs (basil, oregano, parsley)
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste.

Method:  heat oven to broil/or 500 degrees.  lightly oil eggplant slices and roast/broil until just tender.   Remove from heat and set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 375. In large bowl, place tomato, chopped herbs, 2-3 tbs of olive oil, salt and pepper, and combine.  Set aside.  In medium bowl.  Mix together ricotta and 1 cup of Parmesan cheese (you can add one beaten egg if you’d like).  Set aside.  When eggplant is cool enough to handle, assemble dish.  In heat proof baking dish place 1 ladle of tomato sauce at bottom of dish.  Arrange single layer of eggplant.  Spoon half of ricotta mixture.  Arrange another layer of eggplant, sauce, second half of ricotta mixture, and top with eggplant.  Spoon remaining sauce on top and top with mozzarella and remaining Parmesan cheese.  Bake at oven at 375 until bubbling and cheese on top is golden brown.  VERY IMPORTANT: Allow at least 30 minutes to cool so the dish can set up and cut more easily.

Pork Tonkatsu

While I mentioned in my last post how much great eating we did in japan, I probably didn’t do justice in describing our passion for Pork Tonkatsu.  We visited a famous Tonkatsu restaurant in Tokyo called Meisen, and just was amazed by the Tonkatsu there.  We probably had the dish four or five more times during brief trip to Japan.  Tonkatsu is a breaded pork dish usually made from the loin of the pig.  What makes tonkatsu in Japan so good (particular the one at Meisen), is the type of pork they use.  In Japan, the prized pork for tonkatsu are these Kurobata heritage breeds.   Their meat is fattier and more flavorful then our traditional United States variety of pork (which by comparison tastes a little bland and dry, crazy I know).  The masters at Meisen produced a rich tonkatsu that was shockingly light, but juicy and full of flavor.

Any how, with my mother law visiting a couple of weekends ago, I decided to give pork tonkatsu a try.  Here is my humble rendition

Pork Tonkatsu

Ingredients:

  • 1.5- 2lbs boneless pork loin chops (fattier the better), about 3 – 4 thick steaks, pounded flat into about 1″ thickness
  • Flour for dredging
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Panko for dredging
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Heat oil to 375 or so in cast iron skillet (or deep fry if you prefer).  Assemble a fry station.  Place Panko, flour and beaten eggs into separate flat shallow containers for dredging.  Using plastic wrap, cover individual pork loin chops and pound flat with a rolling pin or meat mallet (we use smooth rock that we keep in our kitchen, don’t look at me it’s my wife, it’s a Colombian thing) until they are about 1″ thick.  The Tonkatsu should be relatively thick, so don’t pound too thin.  Season the beaten eggs with salt and pepper.  Also season the flour with a bit of salt.  Dredge individual steaks in Flour, then egg, then Bread crumb.  Fry the pork until golden brown (flip once if using cast iron skillet).

Tonkatsu is usually served with rice, Japanese pickles, shredded cabbage (I just seasoned lightly with salt and pepper, a little olive oil and lime juice), and tonkatsu sauce.  I used this recipe form Saveur.

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On the road

I’m in Japan! Coming here has been a life long dream, so far it hasn’t disappointed either. The only complaint has been the heat and humidity in tokyo, it’s oppressive, and I live in miami. Our trip started in tokyo where we spent four nights, and now we are in sapporo. Since this is a food blog some quick culinary highlights:

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Dog Food

Yep, I made dog food this morning before work.  I had gotten up and fed Clive the very last of his food and we are a few days away from his next delivery (fat dog’s gotta eat).  I wanted to give him a treat, so I thought I’d make him some food instead. I did a little research on it, and being that dog’s are omnivores they need a varied diet.  Having good carbs and dog friendly vegetables makes the food easy on the stomach and promotes solid stools (oh this blog is going places). Most recipes I saw called for chicken or turkey, but I know from painful experience that Clive does not do chicken. I recall watching a documentary on dogs way back when that said that dogs prefer organ meat, so I used liver in my recipe.

I’ve never made dog food before, but I think Clive will enjoy it.  My recipe looks something like this.

Dog Food

Ingredients:

2 cups of short grained rice
1-2 cups of quick cut oats
5-6 cups of water
1 package of frozen peas
1 packet of froze carrots
2-3 lbs of chopped organ meat (I used all beef liver, but ideally I’d use a combo of liver and heart)

Method:

Place all the ingredients in a large pot and mix to combine.  Bring to a boil and simmer (covered) until liquid is absorbed.  I had put in a little too much liquid, so I added some extra oats at the end to help absorb the liquid.

 

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Clive