Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Deliciously Simple Weeknight Meals: Salmon with Hoisin Glaze

I had the best salmon the other night at the farmhouse and I don't even like salmon, unless it's in sushi form. I try to incorporate some sort of fish into our weekly rotation as much as possible and I'm pretty sure I'll be making this dish much more often. I think from start to finish it took me maybe 20 minutes. The glaze was an easy 4 ingredients and I'm pretty sure it would be darn tasty on just about any fish. I may even try it on chicken one day. It's sweet from the honey, tangy and slightly smoky from the hoisin sauce. All in all it's insanely good, even easier to make and I think I only dirtied a total of about 4 dishes, including the hubs and my plates.

Salmon with Hoisin Glaze

1 tbsp fresh orange juice
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tsp honey
4 salmon fillets
salt and pepper

Heat broiler. In a small bowl whisk oj, hoisin sauce, and honey. Rinse salmon and pat dry. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Place on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush both sides of salmon generously with glaze. Broil salmon about 4 inches from heat, basting about half way through, until opaque in center, about 10 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sunday Supper: Creole Fried Pork Chops with Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Carmelized Apples

I'm a day late on Sunday Supper, sorry! But, this actually was my Sunday supper so I still feel it's appropriate!

This weeks Sunday Supper was inspired by wanting yummy fall ingredients, but trying to stay far away from all things Thanksgiving since all that goodness is just a few short days away. But I was craving sweet potatoes so I searched for something yummy with sweet potatoes and came across this recipe from Emeril. It turned out pretty delish and is something I will definitely make again, but with some tweaks, which I'll add in my tips below. And as much as I was trying to not have a turkey day type meal, I think the mashed sweet potatoes could be a great Thanksgiving side dish. It would be a nice alternative to plain old mashed potatoes and it's ridiculously easy. Plus, sweet potatoes are bigger than regular old potatoes so you'll have less to peel, and less work is always a good thing, right!?

Creole Fried Pork Chops with Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Carmelized Apples

1 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered
salt and pepper
5 tbsp butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 thick cut pork loin chops (about 2 inches thick)
Cajun seasonings
2 cups seasoned flour
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/ inch thick slices
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp cane syrup
1 tbsp bourbon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Boil potatoes in salted water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain potatoes and put in a large bowl. Mash potatoes and add 3 tbsp butter, cream, vanilla, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside and keep warm.

To a large hot oven proof saute pan (I used a cast iron skillet) heat 1/2 cup of the oil. Season pork chops with cajun seasonings and dredge in seasoned flour, shaking off any excess. Place chops in hot oil and pan fry until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. Move to preheated oven and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 155 degrees. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes.

Heat a saute pan and add the remaining 2 tbsp butter. Once melted, add sliced apples and saute about 5 minutes, until just beginning to soften. Add lemon juice, cane syrup and bourbon and cook until apples are carmelized, about 2 minutes.

To serve, place potatoes on plate and top with fried pork chop. Top pork with a few carmelized apples. Serves 4.

Modern Housewife Tips:
1. The mashed sweet potato recipe calls for vanilla but I found that it overwhelmed the dish so next time, I'll forego the vanilla altogether. I think the natural sweetness of the potatoes is enough.
2. Emeril's recipe calls for his creole seasoning, which you can find the recipe here, but I just used McCormick's Cajun seasoning which has basically all the same ingredients as Emeril's.
3. Find a recipe for seasoned flour here, which makes more than you'll need but you can store in an airtight container and is great for seasoning other meats too. I'm definitely going to try it with fried chicken sometime soon!
4. For the apples, I found the lemon juice to be a bit strong so I suggest cutting it in half and only adding 1/2 tbsp of lemon juice.
5. I couldn't find cane syrup at my grocery store (although I'm pretty sure they sell it at Whole Foods if you have one close to you) but I did find agave nectar which I substituted for the cane syrup. I think maple syrup or honey could be a nice alternative as well.

Recipe adapted from Emeril via Food Network

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cooking For One: Savory French Toast BLT

The hubs is travelling for business this week which means I'm cooking for one the next few days. I actually kind of enjoy making dinner just for me because I can be a little selfish and I can make anything that sounds good to me, and only me. I do think it can be difficult though to come up with a yummy dinner that is easy to make just enough for one person without having way too much leftover. But, a warm, savory sandwich is perfect on a cool night and you can easily control your portions so that you aren't left with way too much after you enjoy.

I found this recipe from Martha Stewart a couple weeks ago and I've been dying to try it but I knew the hubs wouldn't be much of a fan, therefore tonight was the perfect opportunity! I absolutely love french toast and I absolutely love BLT's, so to me, this was a match made in heaven! I altered Martha's recipe a little since I consider myself really great at making both BLT's and french toast and also since I was cooking for just me. Below is my version as well as a link to Martha's version in case you'd like to compare and contrast. I know it sounds a little funky, but seriously, give it a shot! SO delish!

P.S. The yummy little green nuggets in the background of the photo above are homemade bread and butter pickles made by my mama. It's my grandmother's recipe and if I ever get the recipe then maybe one day I'll share with you!

Savory French Toast BLT

2-3 slices thick cut bacon
about 1/4 to 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
2 eggs
1/2 cup cream
2 tbsp chopped fresh chives
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tbsp butter
2 slices crusty bread
a couple lettuce leaves
2 slices tomato
mayonnaise, optional

Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add bacon to pan and just enough maple syrup to lightly coat (you don't need much maple syrup at all, just basically enough to swirl in the pan). Cook bacon until just crisp, about 5 minutes, turning half way through.

Meanwhile, combine eggs, cream, chives, and salt and pepper in a shallow bowl. Add bread and soak each side. In a large skillet, over medium heat, melt butter. Add bread and cook until golden and crisp around the edges, about 3 minutes on each side, flipping once.

Assemble sandwich with a very light layer of mayonnaise (optional), lettuce, tomato, bacon, and sprinkle any leftover chives on top. Serve warm.

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Supper: Lamb and Mushroom Shepherd's Pie

It's been a long and eventful day and I very much wish that I was having this for my Sunday supper but the hubs and I have taken on the task of painting our living room so tonight we are throwing some baked potatoes and a london broil in the oven because it's easy and frankly, I'm tired. Not that london broil and baked potatoes are bad, I absolutely love them both. But it's not quite the same as a Lamb and Mushroom Shepherd's Pie and all the love that goes into it.

My parents often made Shepherd's Pie growing up. I think it was to use up leftover potatoes, or so I would guess. Their version always included ground beef and corn. It was good, but until I found this recipe, I had no idea how good Shepherd's Pie could be! Obviously this version isn't quite as economical as the version my parents made, but it's totally worth the extra coin. The lamb is so tender afte simmering in the liquid and I like to add extra mushrooms because I think every bite should be the perfect bite and here, the perfect bite consists of a piece of lamb, a mushroom, and a little mashed potatoes. So if you're looking to spice up and old classic, definitely give this dish a shot. I can guarantee that you'll discover a new favorite!

Lamb and Mushroom Shepherd's Pie

2lb shoulder blade lamb chops, trimmed of fat and bone, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1lb assorted mushrooms, stems removed and cut into 3/4 inch pieces
2 tbsp all purpose flour
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp ground allspice
3 tbsp olive oil
3 large shallots, minced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
1 3/4 cups beef stock
1 tbsp tomato paste
about 1 1/2 pounds yukon gold potatoes
1/3 cup whole milk
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl mix together flour, 3/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and allspice. Add lamb and toss to coat evenly. In a large frying pan, over medium high heat, add 2 tbsp olive oil. Add lamb and saute until well browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Add remaining 1 tbsp olive oil to pan. Add shallots and garlic and stir over medium heat for 1 minute. Add mushrooms and bay leaf and saute until well browned, about 6 minutes.

Return lamb to frying pan, stir in stock and tomato paste, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer until juices thicken about 2 minutes. Transfer filling to a 9 inch pie or baking dish.

Meanwhile, make the mashed potato topping. Put potatoes in a large saucepan and add water to cover. Salt water and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Cover partially and cook, stirring once or twice, until potatoes are fork tender, about 25 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Add milk, butter, 1/2 tsp salt, and season to taste with pepper. Mash well with a potato masher. Stir in half the chives. Spoon the potatoes on top of the lamb mixture to cover it completely.

Bake pie until it is heated through and potatoes just begin to brown on top, about 35 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining chives and serve. Makes about 4 servings.

A couple modern housewife tips:
1. For the lamb, I told my butcher what I was making and they suggested I use lamb stew meat which was perfect because it was already cut into about 1 1/2 inch chunks so I basically just had to cut each chunk in half.
2. For mushrooms I usually choose 3 out of the following: oyster (I always use oyster because they are delish!!), shitake, portobello, cremini, or the typical white button mushrooms (the button mushrooms are a good option for this dish because they hold up well when being cooked for so long- they don't get mushy, like a softer mushroom could).

recipe adapted from The Williams-Sonoma Cookbook: The Essential Recipe Collection for Today's Home Cook

Friday, November 12, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

And since today is my birthday, I thought I'd give a little gift to all of you! I've been asked many times for pics of the farmhouse so here are a few images to share with you on a day that is meant for having fun, enjoying those around you, and presents!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

It's All About the Sauce: Lasagna with Homeade Bolognese

I may have said this before, once or twice, but I love spending a cool Sunday cooking away in my warm kitchen. The last time my mama came to visit, she brought down some tomatoes from her garden. We didn't get to use them right away so we froze them so I could use them later on. Later on happened to be this past Sunday for a delish Sunday supper at the farmhouse.

Now, it's not hard to make your own sauce but perfecting can be tough. I do feel though, that it's important for every modern housewife to have a great tomato sauce recipe and to be able to make it well. I stumbled upon this recipe a couple years ago and have made it a few times but I've found that it is best with lasagna. It's ok with spaghetti but for some reason, when I use it in lasagna it's so much better. I think it could be adapted to be great with spaghetti with the addition of some fresh herbs such as basil, parsley, and oregano.

A couple quick tips for making great bolognese:
1. Mix up your meat! I use ground beef and ground pork and the pork really adds a little something extra to the flavor.
2. Simma down now! The longer you simmer the better. This recipe calls for simmering for 1 hour but I use that as a minimum. I simmered almost 2 hours this time around which was perfect.
3. I've found a lot of recipes that use sugar, which I think the sweetness is a definite must, but what I like about this recipe is that instead of sugar it calls for carrots and red onion which gives it sweetness without that sugary sweet flavor.


3 tbsp olive oil
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1/3 lb ground beef
1/4 lb ground pork
2 cups canned peeled whole tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add carrot, celery, onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add beef and pork and cook stirring occasionally until meat is browned, 15-20 minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, and 1/4 cup water. Season w/ salt and pepper. Cook covered over low heat, stirring occasionally for a minimum of one hour.


1/2 box of lasagna noodles (about 10 noodles)
1 15 oz container ricotta cheese
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 eggs lightly beaten
fresh herbs such as parsley and basil, about 1 tbsp

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook noodles according to package instructions, drain and toss with a little olive oil to help separate noodles. In a large bowl, combine ricotta cheese, 3 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, parmesan, eggs, and fresh herbs. Spray 13x9 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Cover bottom of baking dish with a thin layer of the bolognese. Layer 3 to 4 of the noodles over the sauce, slightly overlapping. Spread half of cheese mixture over noodles and cover with about half of the remaining sauce. Repeat layers. Cover last layer with remaining noodles and remaining bolognese. Top with remaining mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes until cheese is lightly golden brown. Let stand about 10 minutes before serving.

Bolognese recipe adapted from Martha

Sunday, November 7, 2010

From San Francisco to Jersey: Cioppino

It's been 5 years since I've lived in the Northeast and the last week with thick frost on my car each morning has taken some getting used to, to say the least. This weekend I was craving something warm and cozy and a San Francisco classic seemed to be just that. We wanted to make something delicious, but not too heavy so when Cioppino came to mind, it sounded perfect.

I've been wanting to make Cioppino for a while now but it is a bit expensive depending on which types of fish you use. Since my mama was here and it was a Saturday night we decided to go all out and try to stay as true to form to the San Fran style as possible, therefore we included crab, scallops, halibut, shrimp, and clams. I am so happy we went for it because it was sooooo yummy! I have to say it may be the best meal I've ever made!

If you've never heard of it, Cioppinno is a type of fish stew. It includes an assortment of fish and is in a tomato based broth. If you are looking for a more budget friendly option, you can cut out the crab which will save a good chunk of money (the crab we got was around $15 a pound) and you will still have plenty of hearty fish to enjoy. To round out the meal serve with fresh bread such as sourdough.

Cioppino: San Francisco Style Seafood Stew

4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
1 28oz can whole plum tomatoes, drained, reserving juice, and chopped
1 cup bottled clam juice
1 cup chicken broth
1 lb crab legs (thawed if frozen)
18 small clams, such as little necks, scrubbed
1lb shrimp, shelled and deveined
3/4lb sea scallops, tough muscle removed (asked your fish monger if you aren't sure where to find the tough muscle)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
3 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil

Cook garlic, onions, bay leaf, oregano, and red pepper flakes with salt and pepper in oil in an 8 quart heavy pot over medium heat, stirring until onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in bell pepper and tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add wine and boil until reduced by about half, 5 to 6 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juice, clam juice, and broth and simmer, covered, 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

While stew is simmering, hack crab leg through shell into 2 to 3 inch pieces with a large heavy knife. Add crab pieces and clams to stew and simmer, covered, until clams just open, 5 to 10 minutes, checking every minute after 5 minutes and transferring opened clams to a bowl with tongs or slotted spoon. (Discard any unopened clams after 10 minutes). Lightly season fish fillets, shrimp, and scallops with salt and add to stew, then simmer, covered, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf, then return clams to pot and gently stir in parsley and basil. Serve immediately in large soup bowls.

Recipe adapted from Gourmet 2002, found at epicurious

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Little Taste...

of whats to come tomorrow. My mom is visiting and we had a delish San Francisco inspired dinner tonight.  Promise to post the recipe tomorrow.