Braised Lamb Shank : Chimayó Chile Spice Blend : Cauliflower Puree : Thank you, Shanna!

20 Apr

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This finally happened last week. First I got an email form the hotel I was staying that I had received some mail… yeah, really nice. I ran to the hotel which is a block away from my current address and picked up a letter with addresses and names written by hand…, like in the old days. The sender, some Dr Greg Ward. I don’t know any Doctors by that name.. there was a second name right under it but I didn’t bother reading on, I was leaving for work and I was already late. At first I thought spam but how many spam/junk mails are written by hand. I got to work. I remembered that about 2 months ago, my blogger friend Shanna  (have you seen her blog? click here!)  and Greg, her husband, had emailed me about sending me samples from their Co-Op which features a wonderful array of locally grown ingredients. Amongst those. Chile. But not any chile, oh no.

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Chimayó chiles, of which I knew nothing about. Check out this link if you are interested in the history of this chile, it’s quite amazing actually. I had no clue that what was in that envelope was a bag of dried ground Chimayó chile, all the way from the originating geographic location. Thank you Shannah for the lovely gift. Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend. Anyone who’s lived in Canada probably knows how meticulous their border customs office can be. They probably held the package for about a month… it either sat there totally unnoticed or they ran some serious lab tests on it to figure out why it smelled so freaking awesome. The baggie was slightly opened, so must have been the latter. When I opened the envelope, there was chile powder everywhere, but do not worry, Shanna, I was able to save all of it!  Continue reading

Porcini Risotto and Scallops : Oregano

3 Apr

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Cooking risottos can be a bit of work, and I personally like to stick to the “traditional” slow stirring of the pot, rather than adding all the liquid at once and letting it cook. I believe the starches do release better with the constant mechanical action of the wooden spoon. I have never run a comparison test between the two, which would be interesting. Making one risotto dish is already plenty of work for a regular week night dinner.  Perhaps not the most original risotto recipe either, but it is definitely one of my favorite ones. Porcini Risotto. I have used dried porcini mushrooms this time.  They are readily available, although not the cheapest mushrooms out there, and definitely not the mushrooms I use more frequently either, spending a little extra on this one though, will never disappoint… if you like mushrooms that is.

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Now the addition of scallops is interesting in itself. Mushrooms and seafood do work together, and there are many examples of this, although they are more commonly paired with meats. What’s a little more odd is the pairing of parmesan cheese and seafood, at least in my experience. When using delicate white fish for example, I can see how the strong cheese flavor would mask or hide that of the other. With nicely caramelized scallops, a shellfish, the story changes a bit. The scallop flavor is so intensified by the caramelization that it adds a component of character to the dish rather than getting lost in the mix.  Umami and buttery caramelized sweetness. Try it if you haven’t. I thought it worked really well.   Continue reading

Black Trumpet Mushroom Capellini Pasta : Green Onions : Thai Fish Sauce : Parmesan Cheese

21 Mar

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I’ve been MIA for a couple of weeks. I finally figured out how to log back into my account. I got locked out.  My mobile phone died and that’s never good news when you have setup 2-step-authentication “protocol” and no backup codes in your wordpress settings…. sounds pretty fancy but it was kinda nightmarish instead… and it’s no over yet. I’m trying to figure out how to update my phone number so I can use the google authentication app..etc, etc, or even better… turn that thing off… and I can’t find it anywhere. If you know, please let me know, I will be forever grateful!

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Anyways… back to the food which I guess is why we’re here, at least that’s why I am here. My recent 20 min evening quick meal kick has not yet come to an end  and tonight’s dinner is no exception. 7 ingredients and that’s including the pasta and the black pepper, this dish is packed with umami flavor. Fish sauce, parmesan cheese and mushrooms. Doesn’t get any better than this if you’re looking for earthy deep flavor and instant gratification all at the same time. Some people love chocolate. I love natural MSG and this recipe is packed with it.  Continue reading

Pan Seared Duck Breast : Fermented Lettuce and Parsley “Kimchi”: Pea Shoots

8 Mar

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So the other day, I saw some beautiful duck breasts at the store and decided to have that for dinner. I’ve been fermenting lettuce at home… and if you’ve been reading some of the previous posts, lettuce has been featured as well. So with the leftovers, I decided to make a batch of “kimchi”, I also had leftover parsley so I used it as well, and I’ll get to the ingredient list and preparation in a bit, but wanted to mention that lettuce ferments beautifully and retains a lot of its bite and brightness. In any case, my dinner that day was so delicious that I decided to make it again tonight and post it here to share it with you. I’ve been cooking quick dinners lately, this is one of them. Takes about 30 minutes to make given that you have a batch of fermented lettuce at hand, but if don’t, just grab kimchi or sauerkraut (cornichons or pickles could be another alternative) at the store and it will slightly different but equally delicious. Pan seared Duck breast with lettuce “kimchi” and fresh pea shoots: Continue reading

Rainbow Trout : Lettuce Cream : Almonds : Hedgehog Mushrooms : Asparaguses

1 Mar

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Finally I get the opportunity to post a fish dish on my blog. It’s been some time since I last did, and I don’t even know why. If you follow this blog, you probably know by now that this is quite a carnivorous site, and as much as I love land and flight capable animals and most of my posts feature them, fish is my favorite thing to eat. If you are new to this blog, be warned, there will be blood.

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Fish is tricky to photograph because it has little patience. You need to work fast with fish, keep it fresh, fillet it while it’s cold, and eat it right away, there’s very little room for camera work. The photography portion of the post is quite a hassle actually, but I can’t help it, I enjoy taking photos almost as much as I enjoy cooking.  I’ve been working on this recipe for some time, mainly because I’ve been learning how to fillet trouts (Still learning, it is definitely a tricky skill to learn) and also because the plating required a bit more thought. The last few times I wasn’t happy with it, the dish didn’t look right and since I’ve ran out of patience just like a fish, I hope this one looks better because I’m done eating trout for a while. I’m Trouted out!

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This dish is extremely easy and quick to make but it delivers wonderful flavors and textures. You will notice the little seasoning I used. I wanted to keep the ingredients as true to themselves as possible, something I like doing when cooking fish and in general really. If you’re into fish, but haven’t tried making it at home, or maybe, when you pan fry fish you end up with dry fish, read on, I will cover some tips on cooking fish that I hope you find useful. Properly cooked fish should be delicate and moist, the kind that melts in the mouth.

Btw, I was just invited to join the fifth edition of Fiesta Friday (thank you Angie) a digital potluck by my friend Angie at The Novice Gardener that offers the opportunity to connect to other great wordpress bloggers. I will be featuring this recipe there. Please, check out the links. Beautiful posts by Angie’s readers and contributors, and Angie’s as well await!

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Sugar and Tamari Glazed Pork Loin : Mushroom Medley : Pickled Lettuce

18 Feb

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Let me sound like a late night infomercial for a second here. If you ever wanted to eat like royalty but still had to cook it yourself because you aren’t royalty (maybe you are, I’m not), this dinner, if you like pork, might be the answer and it takes about 15 minutes to make. When it comes to cooking efficiency and flavor intensity, asian cuisine always comes to the rescue… italian cuisine could also come to the rescue and perhaps many others but let’s stay focused, we can talk about other cuisines in another post.

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Pork of great quality at the local store. Not frozen, just beautiful and fresh looking. I’ve talked about mushrooms in the past and how great they are here in Vancouver, so I will repeat myself and say, these mushrooms are incredible, so delicious. Beautiful iceberg lettuce and green onions. Organic everything.  I couldn’t resist to put together a quick weekday dinner, take some photos and hit the publish button, specially since I’ve been MIA (again) for a few days.

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Poulet au feu D’enfer : Enoki and Shimeji Mushrooms : Sous Vide Chicken Breast

2 Feb

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I don’t know how to speak or read french but I want to learn it. I know poulet means chicken. I also know that I adapted this recipe form The Modernist Cuisine books. Probably one of the few full recipes in the whole series that didn’t require special equipment like a laser cutter… (ok, an immersion circulator is needed, but a sous vide bath can be improvised at home with a few things too) and didn’t require any less common ingredients. No fancy starches or hydrocolloids. It was very straight forward and when I was done, quite possibly the best chicken breast I’ve had at home or at a restaurant really (maybe I don’t get out much). This recipe in the book is an adaptation of a recipe by Fernand Point.  “Fernand Point was a French restaurateur and is considered to be the father of modern French cuisine” I copied this last bit form wikipedia :)

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Some restaurants have the tendency to serve dry chicken breast. Why? probably because it is better to err on the overcooked side specially when dealing with poultry just for safety reason. It is also very easy to overcook chicken. I overcook chicken at home sometimes, specially if pan frying it. Lean meat dries out fast at high temperature,  muscle fibers compress and all the moisture escapes leaving behind a sad and flaky dry piece of meat. Cooking chicken breasts at high-end restaurants for example, is done carefully, by skilled cooks that know how to use a good combination of stove and oven cooking, others probably rely on thermometers or/and immersions circulating water baths to achieve a perfectly cooked chicken breast that is safe to eat and extremely moist and tender. And all of the above can be done at home. Perhaps not for every casual weekly dinner (because gentle cooking means longer cooking times)  but for a special occasion? I don’t see why not! Cooking sous vide is  one of the gentlest ways of cooking that I know of.  Continue reading

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