Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Roasted Rosemary Baby Yukon Potatoes

By Paul Briand

This is a side dish that has a great ROI -- return on investment. With the investment of little time, the return is huge in terms of flavor.

28 ounces small Yukon potatoes
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees;
2. Rinse and quarter the potatoes;
3. In a large zipper-bag, add the potatoes along with the cornstarch, rosemary, garlic powder and pepper;
4. Shake well to coat;
5. Transfer potatoes to large baking dish and spread them into a single layer;
6. Drizzle olive oil over the potatoes;
7. Bake for 30 minutes, giving the potatoes a turn at the halfway point.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pork with Maple Glaze

By Paul Briand

As the season turns from summer to autumn, so does some of our cooking emphasis.

Stews are on the horizon. Comfort food to warm the chill.

This recipe uses a fall staple -- maple syrup -- as the base for a glaze that enlivens a pork dish.
This recipe is adapted from one developed by the Boisvert Farm and North Hadley Sugar Shack in Hadley, Mass. I found it in the "Food Lovers' Guide to Massachusetts."

The original recipe calls for two 12-14 ounce pork tenderloins, which I can usually find at the market but weren't available when I shopped. So I substituted with a pound of boneless pork chops.

For a couple of reasons, I also doubled the recipe for the glaze itself. I love glaze and sauces, so I knew I'd overdo it when it came to using it over the pork, but I also wanted some extra for the sweet potato side dish I made.

1 pound of boneless pork chops
2 teaspoons dried sage leaves (or sage spice in the can)
Pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
12 tablespoons pure maple syrup
12 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1. Rub (or sprinkle) the pork with sage and sprinkle with pepper;
2. Melt butter in a large skillet and brown the pork, turning so that both sides are brown. When pork is no longer pink remove to platter;
3. Whisk the maple syrup, cider vinegar and mustard together in a bowl;
4. Add the mixture a little at a time to deglaze the skillet;
5. Bring mixture to a boil and add the pork, cooking for another two minutes;
6. Remove the pork and serve, spooning glaze over the pork.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Orecchiette Mac & Cheese

By Paul Briand

Bottom line: Was my Orecchiette Mac & Cheese as good as it was at the Fuze Restaurant in Avalon, N.J.?

It was a noble effort, but the creaminess and texture and combination of flavors in the original far outdid what I was able to replicate at home.

To review:

My wife Jane and I did some traveling last month and ate a lot of restaurant food. We were particularly taken with the mac and cheese offering at the Fuze. See last week's post.

It took a bit of work to reverse engineer the dish to create a recipe.

From our memory of the dish and from the bits and pieces we know from the menu description, it uses orecchiette pasta, which I hadn't heard of before. It found that orecchiette literally means “little ears,” although some people find them more dome-shaped than ear-shaped. They work well with chunky meat and vegetable sauces.

The recipe also describes it as "crispy spec, oven roasted tomato compote, chive, Wisconsin béchamel, herb and toasted bread crumb."

Here's my interpretation:

16 ounce box of orecchiette pasta
1 pound thick-cut bacon
1 pound aged cheddar, grated
14 1/2 ounce can of roasted diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
2 tablespoon butter
Chive, chopped
For béchamel sauce:
3 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1/4 tablespoon nutmeg

1. Prepare the béchamel sauce
In medium sauce pan, heat butter over medium heat until melted. Add flour and stir until smooth and mixture turns a light golden sandy color. Meanwhile, heat the milk until it almost boils. Then add the hot milk to the butter mixture, a little at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth. Bring to boil then remove from heat and set aside;
2. Cook bacon until crispy done. Remove and pat away grease from cooked bacon with paper towel. Set aside;
3. Cook pasta according to box instructions. Drain and set aside;
4. Using 2 tablespoons of butter melted in a skillet, sautee bread crumbs and set aside;
5. With béchamel sauce returned to medium heat, whisk in the grated cheese a handful at a time and repeat until all the cheese is melted into the sauce;
6. Place pasta in large mixing bowl, stir in cheese sauce;
7. Crumble bacon into cheese and pasta mixture and stir;
8. Add roasted dice tomatoes to the mixture;
9. Pour entire mixture into medium large backing dish and spread evenly;
10. Top with sautéed bread crumbs;
11. Add palm-ful of chopped chives;
12. Place the baking dish into oven pre-heated to 350 degrees and cook until the mixture gets bubbly and bread crumbs start turning a deep brown.

Mine wasn't as gooey as the original. It needed more cheddar and a good dose of mozzarella. But it was definitely worth the effort.

Really now, can you ever have too much mac 'n cheese or too many mac n' cheese recipes?

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Road food comes home

By Paul Briand

For the last couple of weeks, wife Jane and I have been on the road, vacating and eating our way through various parts of Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey.

Eating good food is a big part of any vacation.

We had crab of just about every kind, including a Blue Crab Salsa.

Some of what we had was so good I wanted to try to figure out the recipe to create the dish to eat at home.

That's my current challenge with the Orecchiette Mac & Cheese (pictured) we had at the Fuze restaurant in Avalon, N.J.

Drinking one night at Fuze the bar -- which had a very, very expensive bottle of Louis XIII bottle of cognac in a lighted display -- we overheard the talk about the mac and cheese dish and how popular it was.

A couple of nights later, when we had it ourselves as an appetizer, it was clear the dish was worth the raves -- rich, creamy, full of flavor.

So my question was: How do I recreate this at home?

I had a few hints from the menu to go on: "crispy speck, oven roasted tomato compote, chive, Wisconsin bechamel, herb bread crumb."

My ingredients will include a Orecchiette pasta, béchamel, Wisconsin cheddar cheese, oven roasted tomato, bread crumbs and chive.

But this is going to take some forensics to reverse engineer to get the correct balance of those ingredients.

I'll report back next week.

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