Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake

Well, here I go, already going back on my word. This recipe isn't from my Bon Appetit magazines, but rather from the New York Times. However, it is from my huge cache of online recipes that I tend to collect, and I've had this recipe saved for over a year, so I'm proud of myself for that.

So, blood oranges. Have you ever had one? Me neither. I was at my local Kroger a few weeks ago and eureka, they had bags of them! I vaguely remembered that I had kept this recipe, so I snagged a bag immediately.

And I'll have to be honest, I was very unsure of this batter as followed the last step, which is to mix in 2/3 cup of olive oil. It seemed too greasy, too oily to ever bake up into something enjoyable.

But, oh, I was wrong. I'm sure you are familiar with dunking a really good piece of bread into a bowl of really great olive oil, right? And how the oil seems to just infuse the bread with a certain wholesomeness ? Well that's this bread. Add in the slight sweetness sugar, the welcome (but light) bitterness or the oranges, mixed with the zest, orange juice, and the tang from the buttermilk, and you've got yourself an amazing little loaf of cake. I've made it twice this week (!), and if I see any more bags of blood oranges, they are mine.

Go here for the recipe. And you can thank me later.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Homemade Irish Corned Beef and Vegetables

For Christmas of 2007, my then-boyfriend's brother (now brother-in-law!) gifted us with a year's subscription to Bon Appetit. Oh, glory days! I poured over every month's magazine, ear-marked recipes that I swore that I'd make omg right now, and then promptly forgot about most of them. If you are a self-prescribed serial recipe collector (ahem, like me) you know how that goes.

Despite turning down my husband's offer to continue the Bon Appetit subscription, my recipe pile, whether gathered from online sources or other cookbooks, continued to grow. And grow. So, I've stopped buying cookbooks. I haven't stopped gathering recipes from online sources, but oh well. We all regress. But what I have done is pledge to go through each of my Bon Appetit magazines for that corresponding month, and work my way through the recipes.

In Bon Appetit's March of 2008 edition, they featured an article on brining and corning your own corned beef. I thought that was the perfect excuse to have people over and throw an Irish party*, even though most of us (ok, all of us) aren't even Irish or of Irish descent. Ah, details. Whatever. It was glorious! I made the Guiness mustard and the horseradish cream, and friends brought over rye bread, cheesecake, and wine. Oh, yeah, and beer, but barely anyone touched that. See, what did I tell you? We're not Irish.

Go here for the recipe. I followed it exactly, except I had no star anise for the bouquet garni, and honestly, I don't think anyone missed it.

*Is it bad that I invite people over so that I can have a great excuse to cook?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Shrimp, Spinach and Roasted Potato Omelets

Courtyard of The Frenchmen

When we cook during the weekends, my husband and I like to play a little game. It's just like the segment on Hell's Kitchen where the judges rate the chefs' meals by listing the maximum price that they would pay for that particular meal in a restaurant. Let's play that game right now.

Are you ready? Let's go!

On Saturday night we decided to do Cajun shrimp with remoulade sauce, paired with baked spinach and roasted potatoes topped with horseradish-sour cream and chives. How much would we have paid for this meal in a restaurant? ......lots and lots. (Okay, I don't even want to put a price on it because I'm either going to say a really high number and you will say, "yeah right", and then if I list a low number you'll think, "well why would I want to make that?")

So, while that meal was absolutely fantastic, the best was yet to come. On Sunday, I already knew what to do with our leftovers. I was inspired by a fluffy omelet that I had at Cafe Eclectic a few weeks back, and I knew I had to try it. The description on the menu said it was made with beaten egg whites, so that's exactly what I did. Despite the previous late night and the surprising time change (I just thought winter would last forever. didn't you?), here I was in the kitchen on Sunday using my mixer and waking up the entire house.

But, oh. Was it worth it. The final dish? I'm sure you can guess, but here goes: Fluffy omelets with shrimp, spinach, and pototoes, topped with remoulade sauce and sour cream. How much would we pay for this? We said $12, not including sides. Not bad, eh? I've typed the recipes below so you can create your own meal. Dinner? Breakfast? Either! It all works for both!

Remoulade Sauce (from La Bouche Creole)
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup Creole mustard
2 tbsp horseradish
2/3 cup finely chopped onion
2/3 cup finely chopped celery
2 tbsp finely sliced green onions
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 clove garlic, minced

Note: your food processor can make this recipe a LOT easier, trust me.

1) Mix all ingredients well and chill. Makes about 2-1/2 cups. Can be stored, refrigerated, for up to four days.

Roasted Potatoes with Horseradish-Sour Cream
2 lbs red potatoes, sliced 1/4" to 1/2" thick
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp rosemary, chopped
1-1/2 tbsp chives, chopped

1/2 cup sour cream
1-2 tsp of horseradish (I think we used even more)
additional chopped chives for topping

1) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set your oven to 400 degrees.
2) Combine the olive oil, rosemary, chives, salt and pepper. Drizzle over potatoes and toss to coat.
3) Place the potatoes in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 30-45 minutes until roasted and slightly crispy on the edges.
4) Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Top each slice with a small dollop of sour cream-horseradish mixture, and sprinkle with chives.

Fluffy Omelets (makes 2)
5 eggs, separated
pinch of salt
choice of fillings, coarsely chopped (ideally, your leftovers from the above)

1) Put your egg whites and pinch of salt in the bowl of a stand mixer, and beat on medium to medium-high speed until soft peaks begin to form (mine took about 3-5 minutes).
2) Meanwhile, lightly beat your yolks with a fork in separate bowl. Heat vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat.
3) To keep the eggs from separating, do this for each omelet at a time, instead of all at once: pour half of your yolks in a bowl, and half of the whites in as well. Beat to incorporate, then pour into your hot skillet. Let sit for about a minute, and then tilt the skillet from side to side, slightly lifting or scooting the cooked eggs to the side to allow the uncooked egg to run to the bottom of the hot skillet (does that make sense?) Do this several times until all of the raw egg has solidified.
4) Sprinkle your chopped filling ingredients on one half of your omelet. Cook for a few minutes, and then, moving quickly, slip a spatula under the naked half of your omelet and flip to cover your fillings. Cook for several more minutes. Be patient! If you are brave, and want to make sure that your fillings really get good and hot, you can flip it and cook on the other side for several more minutes.
5) Serve hot, topped with remoulade sauce and sour cream.

P.S. The picture above is from our honeymoon in New Orleans. I thought it was appropriate because a) these meals were very Cajun-influenced, and b) today is our second wedding anniversary. Love!