Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A New Year's Eve Top Chef Dinner - Round 1

I am not a huge fan of New Year's but I was certainly happy to see 2008 move on out the door as a financial sector employee and I figured a 2009 celebration was worthy of some culinary delights! I served this on small plates as an appetizer.

For the Shrimp:
18 pc black tiger shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used Giant Eagle farm raised shrimp that was already cooked and thawed and then sauteed it in butter, paprika and black pepper. I added the bacon on the side and did not wrap the shrimp. Not quite as elegant but the flavor was still there.)
1/2T Kosher salt
9 bacon slices
2t cracked black pepper
Grapeseed oil for searing (80/20....olive oil works just fine!)

For the Grits:
2qt chicken stock
1qt milk
1/4 stick unsalted butter
1qt instant grits (I could only find quick grits and I used milk and broth to cook but followed the directions on the grits box to ensure the proper amount of liquid.)
2 cups grilled corn kernels
1 cup poblano peppers, small diced
2 cups aged white cheddar cheese
3T chopped cilantro
2T Kosher salt
2T cracked black pepper

For the Chipotle-Tomato Butter:1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2T chopped garlic
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
3T chipotle peppers (in Adobo)
1t black peppercorns
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 stick unsalted butter1/2 bunch cilantro1 lemon, juiced
2t Kosher salt

Shrimp Prep:Season shrimp with a little Kosher salt. Using a hot grill, quickly mark each shrimp. Remove from grill and allow time to cool. Shrimp should still be uncooked. When cool enough to handle, wrap each shrimp with a half piece of bacon. Season with cracked black pepper. Sear each shrimp in grapeseed oil till crispy on both sides. Serve when rest of dish is ready.

Grits Prep:Using a deep saucepot combine chicken stock and milk. Bring to a simmer, add butter, and allow time for it to dissolve. Slowly whisk in grits a little at a time. When grits begin to thicken, lower heat. Switch to a spatula and fold in the rest of the ingredients. Adjust for addition seasonings if needed. If grits are too thick, add more chicken stock.

For the Chipotle-Tomato Butter Sauce: In a saucepot, sauté onions and garlic over medium heat. Next, add tomatoes, chipotle peppers and peppercorns. Continue to cook for another three minutes. Deglaze with chicken stock and lower heat. Cook for 5 minutes then place in a blender; blend till smooth. Place liquid back in saucepot and over low heat mount with butter, whisking in a little at a time. Add cilantro and season with lemon juice and salt. Turn off heat and allow 5 minutes to steep cilantro. Strain through fine mesh strainer and reserve warm till time to serve.
To Plate:Place small amount of grits in the center of a large plate. Drizzle sauce around grits. Place three pieces of shrimp around grits. Serve.

A Top Chef Side Dish...

I have made this a few times and it is a nice and easy take on mashed potatoes. It's definitely a winter/holiday dish.
Cauliflower and Fingerling Smash
3 cups fingerling potatoes, sliced, half-inch rounds (or small white potatoes)
3 cups cauliflower florets, medium-bite size
Milk (enough to cover)
1/2 cup chevre ~ goat cheese or cream cheese if you are a goat cheese hater!
1/2 cup chopped dried cherries...dried cranberries would also work
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped fine (80/20...did not have this and is not really necessary, except for some color.)
Salt and pepper to taste

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sweet Basil! I loved this book.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver is a book that really makes you think about the food you are putting on your table in a good way. Part memoir, part journalistic investigation, this book tells the story of how our family was changed by one year of deliberately eating food produced in the place where we live.
I will definitely be paying more attention to our local farmer's markets this spring!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Top Chef 5 -- Leah's Winning Breakfast Amuse Bouche

I am always inspired by Top Chef even if I have to modify their recipes a pantry isn't quite as well stocked!
This was a great breakfast treat this morning, and 80/20....I didn't have any quail eggs and I didn't quite make it an amuse..mine was more like a sandwich.

1 quail egg...80/20 just a regular old egg!
1/4 cup canned whole tomatoes, mashed (I used crushed can tomatoes.)
1/2 tsp chili flakes
1 shallot minced
2 pieces of bacon
2 pieces French bread, cut 1 inch thick 80/20 I used English Muffins and trimmed the edges with a round cutter
1 clove garlic
Parmesan (just enough to grate over egg)
salt and pepper to taste
1 T olive oil
1 leaf sage, fried

1. Sweat the shallots in olive oil until tender.
2. Add chili flakes, then add canned tomatoes.
3. Cook until tomato is pretty dry.
4. Grill bread on both sides and rub with garlic.
5. Render bacon.
6. Once cooked, take out of pan, leaving bacon fat in the pan.
7. Place the grilled bread in the bacon fat, cook until crunchy.
8. Use remaining fat in pan to cook quail egg, sunny side up.
9. To assemble the amuse, use a cutter to punch out the bread in a 1 inch square.
10. Put a tsp of spicy tomato on the bread.
11. Cut the bacon into the same size as the bread and put it on top of the spicy tomato.
12. Punch the fried quail egg to make it fit the size of the bread, and place it on top.
13. Grate parmesan on top of the quail egg and put a little fresh ground pepper on top.
14. Garnish with 1 piece of fried sage or chives if you prefer.