Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Perfect Combo-Light Crispy Fish and Clam Chowder

Spring in the Northeast is a fickle thing.  One day it can be 80 degrees and then a few days later back to almost freezing.  Last week was one of those weeks.  I hadn't planned my Sunday Supper so I thought I would make some fried fish and a pot of clam chowder.  Fish thaws quickly and I had all the fixings for the clam chowder in my pantry and fridge. A Sunday Supper that is filling and tummy warming.

The fish had a light crispy batter on it, pan fried to a golden brown, topped with a little homemade tartar sauce it was perfect with the clam chowder - the New England version, which was thick with potatoes and flavored with smokey bacon, onions and lots of canned clams.

If you'd like the secret to perfectly light and crispy fried fish here it is: seltzer water.  The bubbles in the seltzer water mixed with the flour makes for a batter that cooks up light and crispy, every time.  And this fish isn't deep fried, but pan fried, which also makes it light.

To make the batter simply take about a cup to a cup and a half of all purpose flour.  Season it with salt and pepper.  Then add enough seltzer water to make a thick, smooth batter.  Dip the fish in the batter and pan fry in a skillet with about an inch of oil in it.

I guarantee you won't be going to any fast food fish and chip joint again!

Have a seafood tip? Or a foolproof seafood cooking method?  Please share!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Beekman Boys Heirloom Cookbook Recipe Review- Rich Double Chocolate Pudding

I’m a chocoholic, there’s no denying it.  Sometimes you just want old fashioned chocolate pudding made fresh not from a box but from your pantry.  The Beekman Boys (Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell of Fabulous Beekman Boys fame) have a simple, delicious and easy recipe for chocolate pudding in their recently released Heirloom Cookbook.  The cookbook is filled with family recipes broken down by season making it easy to cook according to what’s plentiful for that season.  This recipe can be made on the spur of the moment when nothing but something decadent and chocolately will do.  The best part – it can be made with ingredients that are found in any pantry.  

There are a few steps and a technique called “tempering”, which simply means pouring hot liquid into cold liquid so that it becomes the same temperature.  In this case it’s adding some of the hot pudding mixture into room temperature egg yolks so that the eggs don’t cook and scramble in the pudding.  Once the eggs are tempered then they are added back into the pudding in the saucepan.  This step will ensure that you’re pudding is smooth and rich. 

When I made this pudding I found that it’s better to cook the ingredients after the second step long enough to completely melt the sugar, otherwise the pudding will be gritty and not smooth.  I didn’t find it necessary to substitute any ingredients like I sometimes do when I find a new recipe. Although I did use dark brown sugar (because that’s what my husband brought home from the store) and I didn’t have any measuring spoons clean so I more or less eye balled it with a kitchen spoon.  For the semi-sweet chocolate the recipe calls for I used about ½ bag of chocolate chips.

If you want to make Rich Double Chocolate Pudding this is what you’ll need:

2 ¼ cups milk
½ cup light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
3 large egg yolks
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine 2 cups of milk, ¼ cup of the brown sugar, and the salt and bring it to a boil over medium heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, cornstarch, and the remaining ¼ cup brown sugar.  Gradually whisk in the remaining ¼ cup of milk until smooth.

Slowly whisk about half of the hot milk mixture into the cornstarch mixture, and then whisk it back into the saucepan.  Stirring constantly, bring to a boil over medium heat and boil until thick, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks.  Gradually whisk in about 1 cup of the hot pudding, and then return the yolk mixture to the saucepan.  Return to the heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the pudding begins to sputter, about 2 minutes.
Place the chopped chocolate in a bowl.  Scrape the hot pudding over the chopped chocolate.  Cover and let stand for 5 minutes, then stir to combine and melt the chocolate.  Stir in the vanilla and refrigerate until serving time.

The Heirloom Cookbook is filled with over 100 recipes and is available at bookstores nationwide.  If you’re ever in Upstate NY and would like a chance to meet the Beekman Boys in person they have a store in Sharon Springs NY called the Beekman 1802 Mercantile where they sell not only their own goat’s milk soaps, lotions and cajeta (carmel sauce) but also other items that are handmade in and around Sharon Springs. Can’t make it Sharon Springs? Then check out their website where you’ll find recipes, shop for their soaps, cheeses and other products and learn more about their life on their farm.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunday Supper Greek Style- 2 recipes included

I participate in #SundaySupper on twitter where a group of bloggers and other folks tweet about what they’re making for their Sunday Supper.  It’s a great way to get inspiration for meals, recipes and ideas plus “meet” a lot of foodies!  Isabelle (@familyfoodie) hosts this every week as a way to bring people back to the table, eating and sharing time with their families.

This past Sunday I tweeted and posted a picture of what I made for Sunday Supper – a complete Greek dinner, full of amazing flavors and surprisingly easy.  I have to thank in part Chef Michael Symon for the inspiration and also for a couple of easy recipes that I made when I took my class at the CIA (also found in The Culinary Institute of America Cookbook).

I had bought some pork loins on sale (buy one get one free) and was looking for a creative and different way to cook them.  I was flipping through the channels one day and stopped on Symon’s Suppers, Chef Symon’s new series on The Cooking Channel.  He was grilling and one thing he was making was pork souvlaki which is pork kabobs marinated in a Greek- style marinade.  I thought this would be perfect with the zucchini pancakes and tzatziki sauce from the CIA cookbook.  

First thing I did was cut the pork loin into bite size pieces, then made a marinade out of lemon juice, oregano, dill, a little onion and then added enough olive oil to make a dressing.  Seasoned with salt and pepper. 

 I let the meat marinate for at least 30 minutes while I made the tzatziki sauce, which included sour cream, plain yogurt, dill, salt and pepper and grated cucumber. 

A delicious, creamy accompaniment to the zucchini pancakes.  After about an hour of the sauce sitting in the fridge, it was time to create the batter for the zucchini pancakes.  Grated zucchini is added to eggs and flour then seasoned with dill, salt, pepper, scallions and parsley.  Then feta cheese is added.  The complete recipe for both will follow below.
I thought it would be easier to cook the pork in a skillet after it marinated so that’s what I did, although the original recipe called for grilling.

If you’d like to make zucchini pancakes and tzatziki sauce this is what you’ll need.

Tzatziki sauce: (From the Culinary Institute of America Cookbook  p.208)
Makes 1 ½ cups
½ cup plain yogurt
½ cup sour cream
½ cup grated cucumber, squeezed dry
1 tsp minced garlic (I grate mine using a microplane)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon fresh mint or dill (I used dried so I didn’t put in as much)
1 tsp lemon juice
½ tsp lemon zest
salt and pepper to taste

Combine the yogurt, sour cream, cucumber and garlic to a food processor and puree until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and fold in the olive oil, mint or dill, lemon juice and zest.  Stir until well combined and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Keep refrigerated until use.

Zucchini Pancakes

3 cups coarsely grated zucchini
salt and pepper as needed                                  
2 cups chopped scallions
4 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup flour
1/3 cup chopped dill
1/3 cup chopped parsley
2 Tablespoons chopped tarragon
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
2/3 cup walnuts
Olive oil for frying

1.     Place the grated zucchini in a colander.  Sprinkle with salt and let stand for 30 minutes.  Squeeze the zucchini by pressing as much liquid as possible.  Dry the zucchini by pressing between several layers of paper towels.
2.     2. In a large bowl, combine the zucchini, scallions, eggs, flour, dill, parsley, tarragon, salt and pepper until even blended.  Fold in the feta cheese.  Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 hours.  Stir before continuing.  Fold in walnuts.
3.     Preheat oven to 300 to keep the pancakes warm as you work.  Place a baking sheet in the oven.
4.     Add enough oil in the skillet to come to a depth of about 1/8 inch, and heat the oil until it shimmers.  Working in batches, drop heaping tablespoons of the zucchini mixture into the hot oil, leaving enough room for the pancakes to spread as they cook.  Fry until the pancakes are golden brown and cooked through about 3 minutes per side.  Transfer each batch to the baking sheet in the oven to keep warm. Serve immediately with the tzatziki sauce.

Zucchini pancakes on plate in front

These recipes made a delicious side dish to go with the Greek marinated pork, which was also amazing delicious.

Have a #SundaySupper you’d like to share?  Then be sure to tweet using the hastag #SundaySupper. The more the merrier!  You might even find your photos on the Sunday Supper pinterest board.  So come and share your family traditions @familyfoodie and #SundaySupper.

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