Sunday, January 23, 2011

Barefoot and in the kitchen

I really need to stop watching cooking shows at work because I always have to go home and make them!  I was at work on friday and was watching Barefoot Contessa.  She was making this Asian Grilled Salmon recipe that looked amazing.  The marinade was what got me as I'm not really all that into salmon.  All the while watching, I thought to myself "hmmm, I bet this marinade would go terrific on pork!"...and man oh man was I right!  I used port chops about 3/4in thick.  I suppose you could use a loin, but I've never cooked a loin so I don't know how to do it!  Maybe that will be my next


-3 pork chops, 3/4in thick

For the marinade:
-2tbl dijon mustard
-3tbl soy sauce
-6tbl olive oil
-1tbl minced garlic


1. Preheat oven to 375degrees
2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together marinade ingredients.
3. In a larger bowl, place the pork chops and pour HALF the marinade over the pork and coat evenly allowing it to marinade for about 20minutes.  The other half you will use as a sauce later.
4. At this point your oven should be preheated and the pork marinaded.  Put pork chops into a glass, oven safe baking dish (9x13in) and cover with aluminum foil.
5.  Cook for approx. 30-45min or until cooked thoroughly.
6. Once cooked, serve and spoon remaining ORIGINAL marinade over pork as a sauce.

In the marinade, I added a touch of onion powder and some basil and oregeno to give it a little more flavor.  I thought maybe some ginger would be good, but forgot to add it.  Maybe next time!  To go with the pork I sauteed a pound of wild mushrooms in oil, butter, white onion, garlic and basil and served over quinoa.  I started to cook the mushrooms and quinoa about half way through the cook time of the pork so they would be done at the same time.  A little drizzle of the marinade went over the mushrooms and quinoa too as I feared it would be a bit dry without.  Excellent dish, easy, and highly recommended!  I also had gotten a bottle of Gabbiano Pinot Grigio to drink with this, but I was so excited about how it turned out, I forgot to drink it.  Next time for sure!

Rachael Ray is okay...(I guess)

I was at work one day on my break and Rachael Ray happened to be on tv.  I typically HATE watching her show because I find her to EXCRUCIATINGLY annoying, however on the afternoon of January 10, 2011, something caught my eye!
I have recently developed my palate to the delicacies of mushrooms; not the typicall button mushrooms (yuk), but WILD mushrooms (shitaki, oyster, portabello, etc).  On the episode aforementioned, she was making a dish called "Mushroom Tetrazzini" and it looked AMAZING so I quick jotted the name down and then when I got home looked it up online and went over to Devans and told him we HAVE to make this dish I saw on tv!  Here is the recipe.  There were a few things I ommitted and or changed to reflect what I had in the kitchen at the time.

-1TBL olive oil
-2 TBL butter
-1 lbs white mushrooms, thinly sliced
-2TBL thyme
-1 large shallot, finely chopped
-3 or 4 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
-1/4 c dry sherry or Marsala
-1c cream
-1c grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
-1 pound fettuccine
-1c frozen peas, defrosted

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil for pasta.  Once water is boiling, throw in pasta.
2. While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and thyme, and cook them till they are tender, occationally stirring ensuring an even coat of the butter/oil mix.  This will take about 10 to 12 minutes.
3. Add the shallots and garlic to the pan and saute another 4-5 minutes.
4. Once the shallots and garlic have begun to appear translucent, deglaze the pan with the sherry or marsala and give it a few nice good stirs.
5. Next stir in the cream and bring to a bubble then reduce the heat to low and simmer.
6.  The pasta should be just about done by this point.  Give it a check and if so, then add the cheese to the mushroom sauce constantly stirring to ensure all cheese gets melted and mixed in.
7.  Add in peas once cheese is melted.
8. Mix pasta and sauce and enjoy!

I did not have fresh chopped thyme so I just used plain old thyme from my spice cabinet.  I also used about 1/4c of white onion in the shallots absence.  I had some Cabernet Sauvignon so I used that in place of the sherry/marsala and I didn't have peas so they were omitted!  I also used wild mushroom instead of the white button mushrooms.  Over all, this was a DELICIOUS dish and will continue to make!  It was very easy and highly recommended!  Devan decided to try his had at it the next day.  He added some pan seared chicken breast and spooned some of the sauce over it as well which really made this dish a little more hearty!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Supper Club 1/9/11

Supper club convened at Stevi's house.  Jenn was in charge of the main dish which consisted of Veggie Lasagna.  The base of the lasagna was butternut squash, which was surprisingly delicious as I had never had it before!  She also added a little nutmeg which gave it a nice sweet/savory flavor, and topped it with almonds!  Stevi had made a spinach salad and I was in charge of the appetizer and the wine.

A few months ago, I had gone to Bekins in Grand Haven for a private cooking class that was based around appetizers.  I had taken the course as I knew there would be many supper club evenings where I would need to make a dish.  At the class I learned about 10 different dishes, one of which I made for this night.

*Bacon wrapped shrimp skewer*
-1 bag precooked shrimp, detailed (as many as you want to serve)
-fresh pineapple, cubbed, one piece per shrimp
-bacon, cut lengthwise in half
-sweet & sour sauce
-garlic powder
-cayenne pepper powder
-baking sheet

1. Take the toothpick and stab through the pineapple then stab through the head end of the shrimp so the pineapple is inside the curvature of the shrimp.
2. Wrap the strip of bacon around the shrimp/pineapple.
3. Place on baking sheet.
4. Repeat each step until all your shrimp are wrapped
5. Once all shrimps are wrapped, put into oven on middle rack and set to broil.
6. Broil shrimps until bacon has crisped, approx 10 min
7. Remove from oven and add sauce to the top of the shrimps, small dollip each

1. in a mixing bowl add approx 5-6 tablespoons of sweet & sour sauce.
2. Then add garlic powder, ceyanne pepper, and salt to taste.  If you like it hotter, add more pepper.  If you like salty, add more salt!
*NOTE: the actual recipe calls for an Asian Sweet Chili Sauce.  I did not have time to go to the store and get some, so I improvised and tried to make my own.  You can do either or!

My friends ate these within minutes!  Huge hit and very easy to make!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Tops off to Tapas

Friends have always been talking about how wonderful Tapas is, and I have never had it.  So, to end 2010, Devan and I decided to go to San Chez: Tapas Bistro in downtown Grand Rapids!  The ambiance was very unique with a very Spanish flare.  Was a little crowded so I was glad to have been seated in the corner as I hate being placed in the middle of a restaurant at a table when it's that crowded.  The service was top notch with very friendly waiters and our waitress was very informative and offered suggestions for dishes that she thought might compliment what we were already ordering.

For those of you that don't know what Tapas is, it's a style of eating where you order several entree's and share with whomever you are with.  They supply several small plates at your table and you sample eachothers food.  In a way it's a personal and engaging way of dining with your company, striking up conversation, more over about the food, but interesting conversation none-the-less.

Once seated we were brought fresh baked bread that was just delicious.  An oil accompanied it that was infused with a light garlic and chives.  I went easy on the bread as I didn't want to fill up as I knew I was going to be in for a haul.  The waitress, of whom I was very impressed with her knowledge and professionalism, took our order.  Several of the items we ordered she regrettably stated the restaurant had run out of, which was expected as it WAS New Years eve after all.  So we ordered:
Tapenade de Espana

*Tapenade de Espana: herbed goat cheese, roasted red peppers, pesto all on a grilled bread
*Pan A La Plancha: Garlic bread, tomato and garlic rum with Manchego cheese and Serrano ham 
*Plato de Jamon y Queso: Serrano ham, sausages, cheese, fruit, marcona almonds
*Alcachofas a La Parilla: grilled artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, garlic, aioli.  (this was probably in my top favorites of the night.  Every part of it complimented each other leaving you wanting more and more)
*Ensalada de Pollo y Curry: curried chicken salad, grapes, mango chutney, red onion, banana bread, and organic greens. (this was an amazing dish.  I LOVE chx salad but never thought to put curry in it.  The mango chutney was to die for and really added a slight sweetness to the savory curry.  Top 3 of the night)
*Empanadas: onion, garlic and potato filled pastries, aioli, and habanero salsa. (I'm not all that partial to empanadas, however this was surprisingly good)
Cangrejo del Rio
*Cangrejo del Rio: wild caught crawfish, aise mustard cream, roasted red peppers, manchego serrano croquette.  (this was a delicious dish.  The mustard cream sauce was the perfect accompaniment for the light seafood)
*Sambas al Ajillo: sauteed shrimp in garlic olive oil with red pepper flakes.  (this was more or less just a glorified shrimp scampi.)
*Fritos de Arroz: bason, shrimp and saffron rice fritters with a pesto aioli (my favorite of the night.  I could eat this all day everyday)
*Pollo y Chorizo a la Plancha: grilled chicken and chorizo with a cumin aioli.
..."aioli" is a sauce that is made of olive oil, garlic, and egg whites that have been emulsified.  Other seasonings may be added to flavor and compliment the dish in which it is being served.

Overall, this was a fantastic experience and I will undoubtedly do it again!  Fabulous food, great service, and I couldn't ask for better company!  If ever you are in the Grand Rapids, MI area and you are searching for something different and you enjoy authentic Spanish cuisine, this is the place for you!