Monday, August 16, 2010

Garbage.....or not?

On the first attempt at butterflying and de-boning a chicken, one of two things will happen, it will take you far longer than you would have preferred, or you will cut yourself, possibly not so superficially. I suggest cutting yourself. As there is a good chance that her search for a band-aid will grant you just enough time to swiftly move those lovely stock bones into the freezer. The alternative usually goes a little something like this… “Why are you putting that in the freezer? That’s garbage….are we out of garbage bags?” This however, is not the time to panic, nor is it the time to put her in the freezer. Resist the urge, kiss her on the forehead and promise that they will be gone tomorrow.…they won’t, but wasting a good creative lie on chicken bones seems overkill. While a freezer full of bones and shells may seem entirely reasonable to me, I'm learning this is not a universal opinion, and arguing that human bones would be far worse, somehow does not seem to do the trick. But with a little bit of patience, a little bit of experimentation, and a bouquet or two of fresh flowers, the tide of public opinion will begin to sway. After each bowl licking soup, or bread swabbing sauce, smiles will emerge, as will an acceptance of your crazy habits, knowing that each flavor emerged from what others once thought to be garbage. And while they may still look at you with puzzling eyes, debating the merits of an intervention, those that have tasted the flavors of your secret stash, will know that you and your bones are worth keeping around.
The below is simple, light, and fresh, sourced from my farmers market, CSA, and Union Market but the soup that proceeds is made entirely from what I had sitting around the house, and a good deal of what she used to refer to as garbage and now simple calls Adam’s "stuff"….with only a slight rolling of the eyes. As a side note I do realize that not everyone has cognac just sitting around in their apt....but then again, whose fault is that?

Tomato Shrimp Bisque
½ c heavy cream
Medium tomato
Shrimp boil
Splash of cognac
Dash of paprika

Core, peel, and dice the tomato, allow to simmer at a medium heat in the heavy cream for about 5 minutes or until soft, add the shrimp boil, cognac, and a bit of salt and pepper, blend and serve. Sprinkle with paprika.

Shrimp Boil
Shells from roughly a ½ pound of shrimp
Odds and ends of onions, garlic, or shallots
Dried hot pepper or two
Black peppercorns
Bayleaf….and or other spices

Cover with water in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil, simmer until thoroughly reduced, strain and discard solids. Can be frozen for storage.

Tequila Shrimp over Corn Fritters
½ lb of shrimp
2-3 slices of grilled pineapple
Black beans
Diced white onion
Quart grape tomatoes

Shell the shrimp and toss them into a sealable container with the juice of a lime, and a good splash of tequila, move to the refrigerator to marinate while you prepare the other ingredients. Grill and chop the pineapple adding it to the other ingredients, before grilling the shrimp. I cut the shrimp into smaller pieces but it is not necessary. Add salt and pepper to taste and pile atop the corn fritters.

Corn Fritters
2 ears of corn
¼ chopped scallions
1 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 eggs (beaten)
½ c milk
¼ c melted butter

Grill the corn and remove from the cob, add the other ingredients and mix, form into small, thin, burger like patties. Heating oil in a sauté pan, cook on either side until the fritters reach a medium brown. Top with the shrimp concoction and serve. If any tequila made it through the cooking process some pineapple margaritas would be a good start.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Bacon...and some other stuff.

For years, I have been what you might call a Bacon devotee, believing that bacon improves everything it touches. I won’t go so far as to say it became my religion, but certainly a guiding philosophy. And as the years came and went the list of things made better by bacon grew, and the list of undesirable combinations remained at zero. But then the unthinkable happened. Twice, in a period of less than three months, bacon, a substance to which I was blindly devoted, let me down. The first instance was a bacon chocolate bar. Vosges, the maker of fine artisanal chocolates had blended two amazing flavors in a single candy bar; and for a brief moment I was overwhelmed with the flavor possibilities, thinking I had quite possibly stumbled upon perfection. But then I tasted it, and as the chocolate melted in my mouth, so too did my dreams. I literally could not give the remainder of the bar away, for as I had learned, bacon and chocolate, do NOT belong together. Strike one.

But you don’t abandon a lifelong friendship over a simple infraction, this small dent in bacon’s normally impenetrable armor was oddly endearing, and closer to my friend I grew. But the young man inside me was eager to experiment, and to taste all the world had to offer, so when I caught wind of a bacon-infused Maple Bourbon cocktail recipe, it was mere minutes before I had set out to create it. Strike Two. I won’t say it was undrinkable, because I made more than I should have, and I finished it all, but it was unnatural. A bit like a barking cat at the pet store, after the initial shock wears off, you might pet the cat, but you aren’t going to be bringing it home.

Ok, I’ll admit it. Bacon has it’s faults, and I don’t expect it to be walking on water, or parting the red sea anytime soon, but despite this I remain devoted, and many years from now, when my bacon-fat corroded arteries, slowly choke the life out of my wrinkly body, I will still be one of bacon’s greatest ambassadors. The below recipe was unabashedly stolen from “The Bite Size Blog”, who are doing some amazing things, you should read their work, I changed an ingredient here and there, mostly based on what was in my kitchen, and paired it with French fries for a more complete meal, but they were the originators and the inspiration, and one must give credit where credit is due.

Scallop BLT’s w/ Fries
Six Large Sea Scallops
Small head of bok choi
Small heirloom tomato
Three slices of bacon
Two large russet potatoes
Honey Mustard Glaze (below)
Herb Mayonnaise (below)

Blanch the bok choi in boiling salted water, and after less then a minute remove and immerse in an ice bath to halt the cooking process. Bake the bacon, while waiting for the water to boil. Over high heat, sear the scallop until golden brown, about 1 minute per side, near the end, add a tbsp of butter to the pan, and spoon over the scallops as they cook. Allow them to cool for a minute before halving. To assemble layer the scallop, bok choi, tomato, bacon, herb mayo, and finally the top of the scallop. Pair with a heavy helping of French fries.

Herb Mayonnaise
½ c Mayonnaise
½ tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp Chopped Sage
1 tsp Basil
1 tsp thyme
1 tbsp Ancho Chile powder
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix, and season to taste.

Honey Mustard Glaze
2 tbsp Mustard
1 tbsp Brewed Coffee
3 tsp Maple Syrup
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp cinnamon

Line a baking sheet with tin foil and lay out three slices of bacon. Mix the above ingredients in a bowl and apply to the strips of bacon with a pastry brush. Bake at 450° for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into one inch strips once cool.

French Fries
Peal and slice the fries, submerge in heavily salted water for a good thirty minutes, dry, and drop into 320° oil for 5-6 minutes. Remove and dry off the excess oil. Raise the oil temperature to 375° and fry for an additional 1-2 minutes until crispy. Serve.