Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Rigatoni with Shrimp, Calamari and Basil

Recently, my parents came to visit and spend some time with us and our little guy.  My mother brought a recipe that she wanted to make for dinner.  The recipe was for Rigatoni with Shrimp, Calamari and Basil.  My mother found the recipe online through Epicurious.  The original source was a recipe by Chef Michael White, which was printed in Bon Appetit.

Chef White is the Executive Chef and Co-Owner of AltaMarea,  a restaurant group that includes Marea, which means "tide" in Italian.  Marea is Chef White's "ode to Italian seafood." Chef White describes Marea as "redefin[ing] the seascape of high-end Italian cuisine serving regional foods of Italy that are heavily influenced by ingredients drawn from the four bodies of water that surround the boot." Given the restaurant has two Michelin stars, as well as being part of Relais & Chateaux, one can assume that Chef White has done an excellent job of redefining the seascape of Italian seafood dishes.

This particular dish focuses on two seafood ingredients that are very common from Liguria to Calabria, Venice to Apulia, and all points in between: shrimp and squid.  These ingredients find themselves in a wide variety of dishes, including many that I have previously prepared, such as my Brodetto dei Pescatore di Abruzzo (Abruzzese Fishermen's Stew) and Seafood Risotto.

For this recipe, my mother and I used 16 to 20 count shrimp (i.e., there are approximately 16 to 20 shrimp per pound).  The recipe requires reserving half of the shrimp for a finely chopped mixture that is incorporated into the sauce, with the rest being sauteed and added to the pasta at the end.  After setting aside the requisite number of shrimp, I was still able to ensure at least three shrimp per serving.  You can use smaller counts of shrimp, such as 26/30, which will guarantee more whole shrimp for each dish.  I would not use shrimp any smaller than 26/30, because the smaller sizes take away from the presentation. 

My mother and I also used whole calamari bodies, but not the tentacles, as the recipe directs.  I really wanted to use the tentacles, because I think that the tentacles provide an interesting element to the presentation and that they are very delicious.  However, my mother disagrees on both counts.  So, we bought the squid bodies and prepared them in accordance with the directions.

When it came to preparing the shrimp and the squid, I got to work with my dad (who is also a very good cook himself).  We de-shelled and de-veined the shrimp, as well as double-checked the squid to make sure that it was thoroughly cleaned and prepped for use in the dish.

The best part of this recipe is the fact that I got to make it with my mom and dad.  Unfortunately, opportunities for me to cook with my parents are few and far between, because of time and distance.  I really enjoy the time that I spend with my mom and dad in the kitchen.  Since I started cooking, my mother has shared recipes, such as the Bolek Family Tomato Sauce and the Bolek Family Standing Rib Roast, that have become some of my most treasured recipes.  I wish that I had more opportunities to cook with my parents and to create more such enjoyable and memorable experiences. 

Recipe by Chef Michael White, printed in Bon Appetit
Collaboration between Chef Bolek and his Mom and Dad
Serves 4

1 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined, divided
14 ounces cleaned calamari (bodies only, tentacles reserved 
     for another use)
12 ounces rigatoni pasta
6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
3 cups of thinly sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only, about 3 large)
3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 8 ounce bottle of clam juice
1/3 cup frozen peas, thawed
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
3/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil

1.  Prepare the shrimp and calamari.  Place half of the shrimp in a medium bowl.  Slice half of the calamari crosswise into 1/3 inch wide rings and place in a small bowl.  Coarsely chop remaining shrimp and calamari, place in processor.  Blend until shrimp mixture is finely chopped.  Transfer to another bowl.

2.  Cook the pasta.  Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling.  Cook pasta until just tender but still firm to bit, stirring occasionally.

3.  Make the sauce.   Heat 5 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add leeks, garlic and crushed red pepper.  Saute until leeks are tender but not brown, about 5 minutes.  Add chopped shrimp mixture, stir until shrimp and calamari are just opaque, about 2 minutes.  Add clam juice and peas, simmer until flavors blend, about 3 minutes.  Stir in 3 tablespoons of butter.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set sauce aside, cover to keep warm.

4.  Saute the shrimp and calamariMelt remaining 1 tablespoon of butter with 1 tablespoon of oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Add reserved whole shrimp and saute for 2 minutes.  Add calamari rings to shrimp, sprinkle with salt and pepper and saute until just opaque, about two minutes longer.  Remove from heat. 

5.  Complete the dish.  Drain pasta and return to the same pot.  Add the chopped shrimp and calamari sauce, 1/2 cup cheese and 1/2 cup basil and toss to blend.   Divide pasta among 4 bowls.  Top each serving with sauteed shrimp mixture, sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup of basil.  Serve with additional grated cheese.

Finally, the recipe suggested pairing  this dish with a dry white with a hint of acidity like a Benito Ferrara Greco di Tufo (Italy, $25) or a Falanghina dei Feudi di San Gregorio (Calabria, $15).


Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Old Crustacean

Unbeknownst to me, there is apparently a title that is coveted by craft brewers.  It is the title of "Cognac of Beers."  Sam Adams seized the title for its Utopias beer, which is an American Strong Ale that packs a whopping 27% ABV. (That 27% is probably the closest any beer comes to the approximately 40% alcohol content in cognac.)  Fuller's Brewery claimed the title of "Cognac of Beers" for its Golden Pride beer, a barleywine that has only an 8.5% ABV.  I have to admit that I have not tried either beer, in part because I am not inclined to spend the princely sum on a bottle of Sam Adam's Utopia and I have not seen Fuller's Golden Pride.

However, I did come across another brewer who has claimed the title of "Cognac of Beers" and I did try their offering.  It is Rogue Ales, who claims that its Old Crustacean, with its 11.5% ABV, is the rightful Cognac of Beers." 

The Old Crustacean is an American-style barleywine, that the Rogue brewers create with just seven ingredients.  Three of the ingredients are malts: 2 Row, Munich and Crystal 40.  Two of the ingredients are hops: Chinook and Newport Hops.  The remaining ingredients are Pacman yeast and "free range coastal waters."  When all of these ingredients are combined, they produce on of the best American-style barleywines that I have had in a long time.

Although I have discussed the style in the past, some background in the American style barleywine.  The authorities at the Beer Judge Certification Program describe these beers as having a color that ranges from light amber to medium copper, although a few of the beers could achieve a dark brown color.   As for the aroma of these beers, the BJCP describes the elements as having a "rich and intensive maltiness," with a "moderate to assertive" hop character.  (The hop character is what sets American barleywines apart from their British counterparts.) The hop aromas tend toward the citrus or resin elements typical of American hops.  Finally, the BJCP describe the taste of an American barleywine as having a strong malt flavor with a noticeable bitterness, that can range from moderately strong to aggressive. 

The Old Crustacean sets itself apart from the typical American style barleywine described by BJCP.  The beer pours a dark copper in color, with brown, rust hues.  The aroma of the beer is full of sweet elements, such as notes of dried fruit, brown sugar, raisins, and marshmallow, as well as some butterscotch and toffee.  Many of these elements are also reflected in the taste of the Old Crustacean, along with other flavors, such as brandied cherries and some crystallized citrus.  Overall, the Old Crustacean displays a nice balance between the malts and the hops, all of which is encased in a gentle booziness that reminds you of why the brewers at Rogue Ales have claimed the title of "Cognac of Beers" for this barleywine. 

When it comes to pairing, this beer is clearly a dessert beer.  That means it is a beer that can be served as dessert.  While I am sure that there are other pairings, I think this beer falls within the class that is best enjoyed by itself.

The Old Crustacean is found at beer stores with a large variety of craft beers.  It sells for about $20.00 a bottle. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Thai-Style Green Fish Curry

I am a huge fan of curry dishes.  The one thing that I love most about curries is the seemingly endless combinations of varying spices and herbs, together with a protein and/or with vegetables.   Even the same curry dish may be prepared in a slightly different way from region to region, country to country. 

My personal cookbook reflects much of that love.  I  have made many curries with a variety of ingredients, including two different types of duck curry (Kerala and Mauritius), pig's feet curry (Kangchu Maroo), and even a curry from the early Colonial period in the United States (Mary Randolph's Curry).  I have also made curries from around the world, from Africa (Mtuzi wa Samaki) to central Asia (Makher Taukari) to southeastern Asia (Kaeng Kiao wan Kung).  I have even tried to create my own curries, such as my Soft Shell Curry, Goan Style.

And, I am always on the lookout for new curry recipes.  Recently, I was going through my cookbooks when I found this recipe for Thai-Style Green Fish Curry.  The recipe comes from Joshua Wesson's Wine and Food and, because of Joshua's expertise in wine, it also comes with recommendations for pairing.  The recipe calls for the use of a firm white fish, such as halibut or sea bass.  I used monkfish, just because I wanted to try something different and the monkfish that was available and it was not on my do-not-buy list.  Monkfish was also cheaper than halibut and I like it a lot more than cod. 

In the end, this Thai-Style Green Fish Curry was a delicious dish that is very easy to make.  If I could make any other changes (other than using monkfish rather than halibut or cod), I think it would have added a little heat from a green pepper, such as a jalapeno or serrano chile.  Just another opportunity to add to the nearly infinite number of curries out there!

Recipe from Joshua Wesson, Wine & Food, page 73
Serves 4

1 1/2 pound of firm white fish (such as halibut, cod or sea bass), 
     about 1 1/2 inches thick
1 stalk of lemongrass
1 can of coconut milk (13.5 fluid ounces)
1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth (or seafood broth)
3 tablespoons of fish sauce
Finley grated zest of 1 lime
3 tablespoons of lime juice
1 tablespoon high quality green curry paste
1 tablespoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 cups hot cooked jasmine rice

1.  Prepare the fish.  Skin the fish fillets, if necessary, and discard the skin.  Cut the fillets into 1 1/2 inch chunks and set aside.

2.  Prepare the curry base.  Cut off about two inches of the lemongrass stem and pull of and discard the tough outside layers.  Finley mince the tender inside stalks, measure out 1 teaspoon and add it to a saucepan.  Add the coconut milk, broth, fish sauce, lime zest and juice, curry paste, ginger and garlic.

3.  Cook the curry base and the fish.  Bring the coconut milk mixture to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for about ten minutes to blend the flavors.  Add the fish and simmer gently until the fish is opaque throughout when tested with a knife tip, about 4 to 5 minutes.  Add the cilantro, basil and mint.  Taste the curry and adjust the seasonings with fish sauce.

4.  Plate the dish.  Place a scoop of rice in each of 4 warmed shall soup bowls and ladle the curry over the rice.  

By the way, Joshua Wesson recommends a German Riesling Kabinett as a pairing for the Thai-Style Green Fish Curry, which worked very well with this dish. 


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Black Ankle Vineyards' VGV (2011)

VGV.  The three letters are an acronym, a significant shorting of Viognier Grüner Veltliner.  Those three words represent two grapes (1) Viognier and (2) Gruner Veltiner.  Those two grapes were blended into one very interesting and delicious wine by Black Ankle Vineyards in Mount Airy, Maryland.   

The blending of Viognier and Grüner Veltliner represents a sort of combination of East and West.  The West -- Viognier -- is grown in France, where it is grown principle in the Rhône valley, where its elements of pear, peaches, violets and minerality contribute to some very well known white wines.  The East -- Grüner Veltliner -- is a white wine grape that is principally grown in Austria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic (although, as with just about every grape, including Viognier, it is now grown across the world.)  The grapes produce a wine is not really known for its aromatic qualities, at least at a young age.  However, as time goes by, the wines develop citrus notes, as well as white pepper, celery and lentil elements.

The winemakers at Black Ankle brought together East and West to produce a very unusual blend.  (I have to admit that I personally have not seen very many Viognier and Grüner Veltliner blends.)  The VGV pours a light golden color. As the wine rests in the glass, aromas of grass are followed by elements of pear, nectarine and cracked pepper.  The taste of this wine presents a very interesting combination of tastes.  On the one hand, there is the citrus and fruits, such as those pears, nectarines and grapefruit, all of which are most likely brought about by the Viognier grapes  with some help from the Grüner Veltliner grapes.  On the other hand, there is some earthiness, pepper and minerality, which is probably from the Grüner Veltliner grapes, with a little assistance from the Viogner grapes.  Two grapes working together to produce an excellent wine with a light, crisp body with just the proper amount of tartness.

The winemakers suggest that the VGV would pair well with smoked appetizers, like a smoked salmon appetizer.  I think that the VGV follows the pairing rules of its constituent grapes.  Light seafood dishes, like steamed mussels, and some chicken dishes, like light curries, would work well this this wine.  When it comes to cheese, I think hard cheeses would work this this wine, ith silkiness in the mouth bright and tart flavors of citrus and grapefruit blend with mineral, creating a wonderfully crisp and refreshing white blend.

This wine was produced by Black Ankle a couple of years ago and, to my knowledge, the vineyard has not produced any subsequent vintages.


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Wine Club: On the Road to Mandalay!

The theme for the February Wine Club comes from a poem by the English poet, Rudyard Kipling.  After having spent several years in India, Kipling was headed back to England.  Kipling took the "eastern route" through Southeast Asia and across the United States.  His trip was by steamship and the first port of call was Rangoon, a city in what was the British Protectorate of Burma.  After spending one day in Rangoon, the ship set sail and there was an unscheduled stop in Molmein. After coming ashore at Molmein, Rudyard Kipling was apparently struck by the beauty.  Not by the amazing golden pagodas in that city, but by the Burmese women.  

It was that inspiration that led to Rudyard Kipling to pen the poem, On the Road to Mandalay.  The stanzas clearly reveal Kipling's inspiration:

By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin' eastward to the sea,
There's a Burma girl a-settin', and I know she thinks o' me;
For the wind is in the palm-trees, and the temple-bells they say:
"Come you back, you British soldier; come you back to Mandalay!"

Come you back to Mandalay,
Where the old Flotilla lay;
Can't you 'ear their paddles chunkin' from Rangoon to Mandalay,

On the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin'-fishes play,
An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!

While Kipling's poem is about British soldiers' longing for Burmese women, this is wine club and the longing should be for the food of Burma:

No! you won't 'eed nothin' else
But them spicy garlic smells,
An' the sunshine an' the palm-trees an' the tinkly temple-bells;
On the road to Mandalay, etc.

That's better.  The inspiration for this wine club dinner are those "spicy garlic smells" ... or the food of Burma, also known as Myanmar.  For this wine club, there will be a three course dinner of Burmese food based upon the recipes of Naomi Daguid's book, Burma, Rivers of Flavor.

Ragoon Mohinga

Our gastronomic tour begins at the "End of Strife," also known as Rangoon or, now, Yangon. The former capital of Burma (or Myanmar) started as a small fishing village at the convergence of the Bago and Yangon rivers and around the most sacred of Buddhist temples for the Burmese people, the Shwedagon Pagoda.   The first course will be Rangoon Mohinga, which is a dish of broth poured over rice vermicelli noodles.  Mohinga is the Burmese version of Vietnamese phở, but with one significant difference.  Whereas phở is made with beef broth, mohinga is made with a delicate fish broth.  The mohinga is served with fish and shallots, along with some optional toppings and condiments. 

Khua Haeng (Aromatic Chicken from the Shan Hills)

The tour continues northward to the Shan Hills, which stretch across Eastern Burma and lead the way to the city of Mandalay.  For the second course of this Burmese gastronomic tour, we will be serving Khua Haeng or Aromatic Chicken from the Shan Hills.  This is a relatively simple dish representing the Shan people, which live predominantly in the Shan state in eastern Burma, but also in the central regions of Burma, including the city of Mandalay.  Khua Haeng involves the frying of chicken in a large pot or wok with certain spices (tumeric, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, chiles and tomatoes) and then some aromatics toward the end of the cooking process.  The fried chicken will be served with perfumed coconut rice and a tender greens salad with crispy fried shallots.

Shwe Gyi Mont (Semolina Cake)

For our final dish, we will be serving Shwe Gyi Mont, which is the Burmese version of an Indian semolina halva.  The semolina flour is toasted first, with liquids added and cooked over low heat and baked.  The result is described by Daguid as a "delicious cross between cake and sweetmeat."

So, that is the menu.  As always, it is subject to change depending upon the availability of ingredients. Any changes or updates will be added to this post.  Looking forward to seeing everyone soon!


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Spicy Pork Sausage Sandwiches

Every year, the Savage Boleks host a Super Bowl party; and, for our seventh such party -- Savage Boleks Super Bowl Party VII -- we decided to prepare a recipe from each of the cities or states represented by the two teams playing in the big game.  Super Bowl XLVIII was a contest between Seattle and Denver.  The obvious choice for Seattle is a salmon burger, and, I found a recipe for Salmon Burgers from Pike's Place Market.  The only question was what would me make that represents Denver or the State of Colorado.

I did some research for sandwiches or snacks that are quintessential Denver or Colorado.  My efforts produced of videos of people eating fried Rocky Mountain oysters.  Needless to say, I don't have access to those "oysters" and, even if I did, I do not think I would have had guests willing to eat them.  Bottom line, I had very little to go with. 

In such a case, where I have nothing, I have my "last resort."  It is a book called Sunday Night Football Cookbook.  This cookbook has recipes for each of the teams.  There are some recipes from players, like Fred Taylor's Shrimp Gumbo and Shawne Merriman's Shepard Pie.  However, for the most part, the recipes are provided by chefs who have restaurants in the host cities.  Denver was represented by two recipes: (1) Spicy Pork Sausages with Mustard and Horseradish; and, Warm Bittersweet-Chocolate Cupcakes.  Given I don't bake, the process of elimination was fairly easy.

The sausage recipe comes from Chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson, who is the chef of Frasca Food and Wine in Denver.  A winner of the James Beard Foundation's award for the Best Chef Southwest, Chef Mackinnon-Patterson is inspired by the cuisine of Friuli, which is part of the region known as Friuli-Venezia Giuli.  The food and wine of this region has influences drawn not only from Italy, but also neighboring Austria and Slovenia.  Chef Mackinnon-Patterson's sausage recipe gives a nod to Friuli cuisine with its use of prosciutto, because Friuli is well known for Prosciutto San Danielle.  I decided to give a further nod to the region with respect to the wine.  While the recipe calls for 1/4 cup of a non-descript "white wine," I found a Chardonnay from Friuli, which seemed like the best wine to use given the source of the recipe.  

Finally, this relatively simple recipe calls for making the sausage into patties.  If you want a challenge, you can do what I did.  Apart from tripling the recipe for the party, I used a meat grinder to stuff the sausage in casings.  I had always wanted to use the old school meat grinder that was given to me as a present from my sister and brother in law.  This recipe provided the first opportunity for me to use the grinder and, coincidentally, the first time that I made sausage by hand. Fortunately, Clare's parents were in town and they provided some very invaluable assistance as we worked to make nearly ten pounds of handmade sausage.  I am very grateful for their help.  Without their assistance, the sausage would never have been completed in time for the party.

Recipe from Frasca Food & Wine, 
from the Sunday Night Football Cookbook, pg. 124
Serves 6-8

2 1/2 pounds of ground pork loin
12 ounces prosciutto or speck or combination, minced
1/4 cup of white wine
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
6 to 8 Kaiser rolls, split and toasted
Dijon-style mustard
Prepared horseradish

1.  Prepare the sausage.  In a large bowl, combine the pork, prosciutto, wine, salt, cracked pepper, red pepper flakes, and cheese.  Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Form the pork mixture into 6 to 8 patties and arrange them on the prepared baking sheet.  Alternatively, you can buy some pork casings and stuff the sausages, which is what I did in this case.   Just soak the casings in water for 30 minutes to 1 hour and then rinse them very well.  I have an old school meat grinder, the cast iron kind that you crank by hand.  Follow the instructions for the meat grinder and stuff the sausage. 

2.  Bake or grill the sausage.  Bake the sausage patties for about 20 minutes until cooked through. You can also preheat a grill to about 350 degrees and cook the sausages for the same period of time, flipping the sausage once after about 10 minutes. 

3.  Plate the dish.  Serve hot on the rolls with mustard and horseradish.


Monday, February 3, 2014

Pike's Place Salmon Burgers

The Pike's Place Market is one the most well known symbols of the city of Seattle.   It opened on August 17, 1907, the result of a proposal by Seattle City Councilman Thomas Revelle, who proposed the idea of a public market where both farmers could sell their goods directly to the city's residents.  According to the market's website, Councilman Revelle proclaimed, "the Market is yours. I dedicate it to you and may it prove of benefit to you and your children. It is for you to protect, defend, and uphold and it is for you to see that those who occupy it treat you fairly. … This is one of the greatest days in the history of Seattle."  For more than 100 years, I think the citizens of Seattle have upheld their responsibilities to protect, defend and uphold that market and, during that time, the market and its vendors have provided a lot to the citizens, including this one particular recipe for Pike's Place Salmon Burgers.

I happened to find this recipe when I was preparing for our annual Super Bowl Party.  With each game, the challenge is to make sandwiches or snacks that are representative of the city or state whose teams are playing in the game.  Super Bowl XLVIII featured the Denver Broncos vs. the Seattle Seahawks.  As the conference championships came to a close, I immediately knew that I would be making a salmon burger to represent the city of Seattle.  I just needed a recipe.

I found that recipe on the NBC Today website.  The recipe comes from the Pike's Place Fish Guys, Justin Hall and Anders Miller, and can be found in their cookbook, In the Kitchen with the Pike's Place Fish Guys.  The  Fish Guys give a relatively straightforward introduction to the dish: These are the very same patties that seem to fly out of the case at Pike Place Fish. They are great served on their own or with your favorite sauce, such as tartar or dill sauce. We think the best way to serve them is on a brioche bun, with a little arugula, tomato, and a slice of Walla Walla sweet onion on top. This might be the best salmon burger ever. 

The "best salmon burger ever"?  That is a pretty bold claim. I will say that this recipe produces a great salmon burger.  It is definitely better with the tomato, sweet onion and arugula.  While it is a great burger, and perhaps the best Northwestern-style salmon burger, I personally think my beautiful Angel's Salmon Burgers are the best salmon burgers ever, especially smoked on a cedar plank and served with ancho guacamole. 

Recipe from NBC Today 
Serves 4

Ingredients (for the burgers):
1 pound boneless, skinless, wild salmon, finely chopped
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon rub (see recipe below)
1 teaspoon Northwest Seafood Seasoning (see recipe below)
1 cup panko crumbs

Ingredients (for the rub):
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup dried cilantro
1 1/2 tablespoons fennel seed
1 1/2 tablespoons garlic pepper seasoning
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon ground celery seed
1/4 cup dried granulated onion
1 1/2 tablespoons of ground chipotle chile

Ingredients (for the Northwest Seafood Seasoning):
1/3 cup dried minced garlic
1/3 cup dried granulated onion
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
4 teaspoons granulated lemon peel
1/3 cup dried dill
1/3 cup paprika
2 tablespoons celery seed
1/2 cup dried parsley
1/4 cup medium grind black pepper

1.  Prepare the rub: Combine all of the ingredients (brown sugar, paprika, cilantro, fennel seed, garlic pepper, salt, celery seed, onion, and chipotle) in a bowl and mix well. Store in a covered container for at least 6 months.

2.  Prepare the Northwest Seafood Seasoning: Combine all of the ingredients (garlic, onion, salt, lemon peel, dill, paprika, celery seed, parsley, and pepper) in a bowl and mix well. Store in a covered container for at least 6 months.

3.  Prepare the burgers. Place the chopped salmon in a large bowl and add 2 teaspoons of the oil, the rub, and the seafood seasoning. Mix thoroughly with your hands. Add the panko crumbs and mix to combine.  Form the mixture evenly into 4 patties, packing them firmly around the edges so they don't fall apart. Each patty should be between 1/2 and 3/4 inch thick.

4.  Cook the burgers.  Preheat a skillet (cast iron works well) over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil is nearly smoking, add the patties and cook for 3 minutes. Turn carefully with a spatula and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. The patties may also be grilled over medium-high heat for the same amount of time.

5.  Plate the dish.  Toast the ciabatta buns or sandwich buns for a couple of minutes.  Place a burger on the bottom half of the bun and top with a slice of tomato, some thin slices of onion and some arugula.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Apple Crumble

I am not the only one who cooks in our family.  My beautiful wife, Clare, is also a great cook and a great baker.  Every once in a while, I ask my Angel to provide a guest blog post so that I can share some of the amazing and delicious things that she makes for family, friends and, of course, me.  She has already provided guest blog posts about Cuban Bread, Loyalist Bread, Salmon Burgers, Peach Cobbler, Parmesan Soufflé with White Wine Butter Sauce and Meatballs with Orechhiette, Kale and Pine Nuts.   So, without further ado,

A Guest Blog Post by Clare ...

When it comes to desserts, I am the one that makes them in our family.  Keith does not really make a lot of desserts; and, I think that is because he is not really into baking.  When it comes to cooking, he does not always measure things exactly.  He likes to "eyeball"the measurements.  This does not lend itself very well to baking, where exact measurements are much more important, particularly if you want to have a good dessert.

Then there are desserts that are more "Keith-friendly," that is, ones in which being off on a measurement or two would not spell ruin for the dish.  One such dish is this apple crumble, which I made as part of our Wine Club dinner back last September.  (Keith has been really busy at work and at home, which has left some recipes, like this one, waiting to be posted.)  The theme of the Wine Club dinner was The F Word, which was a dinner based on recipes by Gordon Ramsay.  This is Gordon's take on an Apple Crumble.  

The key to this recipe is that the apple is presented in two forms ... puree and chunks.  This helps to provide some interesting texture to the fruit in the dessert.  Gordon adds dried cranberries, which add some interesting flavor to complement the apples.  The granola topping, which adds that crunch one would expect with a crumble rounds out the dish. 

Over all, this is a delicious dessert and a great way to end that particular wine club dinner. 

Recipe from Gordon Ramsay's Cookery Course
Serves 4

Ingredients (for the apples):
6 tablespoons of caster sugar
Pinch of ground cinnamon
1 vanilla pod, seeds only
6 apples, cored but not peeled, 3 of them grated
     3 of them cut into chunks
3 tablespoons of dried cranberries
Zest of one lemon, juice of 1/2 lemon

Ingredients (for the crumble topping):
6 2/3 tablespoons of plain flour
2 tablespoons of demerara sugar
3 1/3 tablespoons of butter, chilled and cubed
Pinch of ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons of nutty granola or muesli

1.  Prepare the apples.  Heat the oven to 390 degrees Fahrenheit.  Heat a small hob-proof baking dish. Add the caster sugar and heat for about 5 minutes until it caramelizes.  Add the cinnamon, vanilla seeds and grated apples and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Stir in the apple chunks, then mix in the cranberries, lemon zest and juice.  Remove from heat and set aside.

2.  Make the topping. Place the flour, sugar, butter and cinnamon in a bowl and rub together with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  Add the granola and mix fully until incorporated. 

3.  Bake the crumble.  Scatter the crumble topping over the fruit and heat the dish on the hob.  Once the apple mixture is bubbling, transfer to the preheated oven and bake for 12-14 minutes until the topping is a deep golden brown.  Remove and serve warm.