Thursday, October 16, 2014

Adding Some Class with Jennifer of MealDiva

Sausage with Garlic Mashed Potatoes & Zucchini

Today, I return to my monthly Adding Some Class with... series with Jennifer of MealDiva. If I can be candid for a moment, I can safely say here that I admire her patience. I originally asked Jennifer to be my guest for August however I had to delay it because of my move. By the time I had revisited the topic, it was the middle of September so Jennifer and I agreed to postpone this until October.

In my mind, Jennifer stands out because the dishes she publishes achieve a unique balance of simplicity and elegance. I especially like her Parsley Vinaigrette, Pancake Mix, and her Curry Shrimp Kabobs with Mango Rice.

Please welcome Jennifer to Crazy Foodie Stunts:

I am so excited to be guest blogging on Crazy Foodie Stunts today! Like DB, I accidently stumbled into cooking while staying home caring for my kids. When you’re a one-income family with a child with food allergies, eating out isn’t an option and so, I learned how to cook and also fell in love! I really love Crazy Foodie Stunts because DB blogs about recipes that seem intimidating for some at-home -cooks and in doing so, he gives his reads encouragement! In fact, he’s even inspired me to try a new recipe or two – like Coq au Vin –my kids LOVED this recipe and devoured the luscious chicken thighs with nods of approval. So thanks DB!

Over on MealDiva, I blog about easy, healthy, common- sense family meals so I wanted to share a household favorite with you today! This uncomplicated, euphoric and down-right gratifying sausage dinner is requested weekly in my house and its often eaten in silence (with brief pauses to give me a thumbs up) until everyone’s plates are licked clean. In my blogging world, sometimes it’s the easiest recipes that are the tastiest. So from my families’ table to yours, enjoy!

Sausage with Garlic Mashed Potatoes & Zucchini

Ingredients:

1 package of cheese and parsley sausage
1 large green zucchini, sliced
1 large yellow zucchini, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 sweet Vidalia onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 tbs. chicken broth/ stock or just water
3 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 stick butter
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 cloves garlic, minced

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large, oven-proof dish, layer zucchini, onion, garlic and pepper on the bottom then top with the sausage.
Add chicken stock and bake in a pre-heated over for 40 minutes, flipping the sausage in the middle of the cooking time.
Meanwhile, cook potatoes in water until cooked through then drain and return them to the pot. While still hot, add the remaining ingredients and mash well.
Sausage should be nicely browned before removing from the oven.
To plate:
Layer mashed potatoes then vegetables followed by sausage.

WOW! This is the first time I had heard about her coq au vin success. I'm pleased her family enjoyed it. This sausage dish, however, is a perfect example of the elegant dishes I admire from Jennifer. Before you go, please remember to 'Like' her on facebook, in addition to following her on Instagram, pinterest and .

Jennifer gave me an additional photo which follows:


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Pan Seared Sea Scallops with Butternut Squash Purée and Beurre Fondue

Pan Seared Sea Scallops with Butternut Squash Purée and Beurre Fondue




I was never happy with the first scallops dish I prepared for this website. Call this dish a 'Do-Over', however this time, I thought I'd use a purée of a seasonal vegetable and, given my struggles with broken sauces earlier this year, I wanted to practice my execution of a butter sauce.

Speaking of this particular butter sauce, the concept is very similar to a beurre blanc which I prepared earlier this year, only with different ingredients. In fact, the word 'fondue' translates to melted.

The Challenge

In addition to improving a dish I published earlier, I had also taken on the concept of a butter sauce from a source that didn't utilize an exact recipe.

The Source

I adapted the purée from foodnetwork.com and the beurre fondue from pages 76 through 77 of Think Like a Chef by Tom Colicchio with Catherine Young, Lori Siverbush and Sean Fri.

Ingredients

1 2-pound butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise, seeds and strings removed
12 tablespoons plus 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
12 U-15 sea scallops
Alfalfa sprouts, for garnsh

Method

1. Roast the butternut squash. Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Take 1 tablespoon butter and rub the flesh of each squash half with it, then season with salt and pepper. Place the squash halves on a parchment or aluminum foil lined sheet pan and roast in the oven until fork tender, approximately 30 to 40 minutes.


2. Prepare the beurre fondue while the squash roasts. In a small saucepan, bring about 12-inch of water to a simmer. Whisk in the 12 tablespoons butter in 1/2 tablespoon portions, adding the next portion after the one in the pan has melted. Small droplets of oil might appear which indicates the water is evaporating. If this occurs, add a small amount of warm water. Once the butter has been added, season with salt and pepper and keep warm over low heat until ready to plate.


3. Finish the dish. Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel, then season with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over high heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Once the oil starts to smoke, add the scallops and sear on one side only, approximately 1 minute. Remove to a plate to allow for carryover cooking. Once the butternut squash is finished, scoop out the flesh and place into a blender with the honey, and remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Purée the squash, adding up to 2 tablespoons olive oil to loosen the mixture, if necessary. To plate, spoon some beurre fondue onto a warmed plate, top with 3 to 4 scallops. Spoon some purée beside the scallops and garnish with alfalfa sprouts.


Successful?

The butternut squash purée was sweeter than I expected with the addition of honey into it. and the sauce didn't separate. All in all, it was a very balanced plate of food. No brown bag leftovers for Mrs. Stuntman, however. because of the foul odor seafood leaves in the break room at the office.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Coffee and Molasses Brined Pork Chop with Roasted Corn Salsa and Watercress Salad

Coffee and Molasses Brined Pork Chop with Roasted Corn Salsa and Watercress Salad




Mrs. Stuntman started with a new employer recently and, while she is getting acquainted with her new colleagues, it presented an opportunity to introduce myself through my food. You see, I'll normally prepare at least one extra serving of whatever we eat for dinner so she can brown bag the leftovers the next day.

Since Seattle is known for coffee, I wanted to feature it in a savory application, especially since the food pairing in The Flavor Bible suggest a dessert. The concept of pairing pork with coffee isn't new to me but I wanted to explore it more, especially since the coffee in the other pork with coffee dish I've prepared had a muted coffee flavor. I knew that pork pairs well with sweet flavors (which is the reason why apples pair so well with pork), so I thought corn might be an interesting substitution in addition to balancing out the flavors with a mild spice and acid. Also, after performing a Google image search for pork chops fine dining, I noticed that nearly all were double cut with the bone frenched, so I wanted to present my dish in a similar manner. While double cut chops would have been too large a portion for my family, I did ask the supermarket where I purchased them to French my chops.

The Challenge

Make Mrs. Stuntman's colleagues envious of her brown bag lunch by elevating it.

The Source

To execute this dish, I compiled from a number of different sources. I adapted the brine from allrecipes.com; the salsa from Eating Well magazine and the salad from Food & Wine magazine.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/4 cup kosher salt plus more for seasoning, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups strongly brewed coffee
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
1 cup ice cubes
4 bone-in pork rib chops about 1/2-inch thick, frenched
4 cups corn kernels
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
t tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 bunch watercress leaves, stems removed

Method

1. Prepare the salad dressing. Combine the lemon juice, 3 tablespoons olive oil in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

2. Brine the pork chops. Combine the water, coffee, brown sugar, 1/4 cup kosher salt, molasses in a large bowl and stir until the salt and sugar dissolve. Place the pork chops in a large resealable bag with the ice cubes and pour the brine over the pork. Seal the bag and refrigerate for 3 hours.

3. Prepare the salsa. While the pork is in the brine, place a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the corn and red bell pepper and cook, stirring periodically until browned, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, then stir in the red onion, lime juice, cilantro, basil, and cumin. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes.


4. Finish the pork and complete the dish. Remove the pork from the brine and discard the brine. Pat the chops dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat and, once hot, sear the pork chops, in batches if necessary, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove the chops to a plate to allow for carryover cooking. While the pork rests, whisk the salad dressing again, then toss with the watercress. To present, spoon some salsa onto a warmed plate, top on one side with a pork chop and garnish with the watercress. Serve immediately.


Successful?

I'll confess and note here that by the time I got to the pork, it had been sitting in the brine for closer to four hours. I was praying that my protein was not over-brined but my fears were nullified when the first thing Mrs. Stuntman noticed was how juicy the pork was. In addition, the coffee infused into the pork giving it a deep, rich flavor which contrasted well with the corn salsa which was well balanced on its own. I also slightly overdressed the watercress but the lemon in the dressing gave the dish a brightness. Overall, each element complemented the other.

Finally, Mrs. Stuntman reports that her lunch breaks are spent alone because she thinks her colleagues feel inadequate with their sandwiches bought from the delicatessen next door.