Tag Archives: sauce

Shallot Yogurt Dip

The Consortium for Making Yogurt Dangerously Delicious

Yes, it’s an actual consortium.  I started it as an excuse to convince myself that anything that I put greek yogurt on is immediately transformed into food that is healthy and restorative.  I’m about to test my theory on a gyro platter with extra french fries.

This recipe is for days when tzatziki is far too great a challenge for you.  Not that tzatziki is all that hard to make, but when I have even less in the fridge than I need for that, I turn to this shallot yogurt. Worst case scenario, I’ll used dried mint and *cringe* dried parsley to make it happen and never look back. If you DO have fresh mint and parsley, though, this one is beyond a delight, providing refreshing coolness to whatever you deign to serve with it. Continue reading Shallot Yogurt Dip

Ginger Cranberry Chutney

I never cared much for cranberry sauce until I tried out my grandmother’s suggestion to make a recipe with fresh cranberries.  Aside from the brightness of flavors and use of a whole orange for zest, the star of the show was the crystalized ginger.  I was an instant convert.

Many years later, upon reading through Amanda Hesser’s NYT Cookbook, I came across a chutney recipe that seemed to contain all of my favorite fall flavors.  I decided to tweak it a bit and again make crystalized ginger the star of the show.  The result was a lush, bright sauce that served the perfect stand-in for that canned cranberry nonsense. Continue reading Ginger Cranberry Chutney

Ginger Scallion Sauce

Seriously, ginger scallion sauce, just stop.  You have definitively rocked my socks.  And all to the point that I say bad words when I see you.  You. are. greatness.  When Escoffier sang the praises of his transcribed mother sauces, he missed the mark with you.  If bechamel and hollandaise and and velouté rule the roost, you built the roost from ashes and sheer will.

It’s no secret that I’ve always been enamored with ginger, but this sauce paints it in the finest of lights.  Grated ginger and minced scallion are barely cooked in hot oil, taking away all of the bite from the aromatics and leaving behind a condiment that can make the most stubborn palate sing.  This sauce is BFFs with poached chicken as the dynamic duo, “Ginger Scallion Chicken”.  I don’t limit the stuff, though – string beans, skirt steak, steamed fish, my fingertips.  I’ll attack this sauce with calculating ruthlessness.  It’s mine, and I don’t want to share.  Ok, I’ll share, but you bring the ginger and scallions next time.

This sauce isn’t hard to make, but it’ll seem a little scary the first time you make it – don’t fret.  You’ve got this.  When you add hot oil to wet ginger, you’re gonna get a bit of sizzle.  This subsides quickly, and if you make this expecting a science-fair baking soda volcano, you’ll be underwhelmed rather than shocked.  This is a good thing.  Just make sure to use a heat-proof bowl or 1-qt saucepan for the ginger-oil reunion and you’ll be golden. Continue reading Ginger Scallion Sauce

Beef Tenderloin with Artichokes in Bechamel

Foodbuzz 24 x 24 | An Ode to Orvieto

This recipe was a part of a special menu for Foodbuzz’s June 2011 food blogger party, 24×24. Showcasing posts from 24 Foodbuzz Featured Publisher bloggers, the monthly Foodbuzz 24 highlights unique meals occurring around the globe during a 24-hour period. Read more about my meal along with all of the other recipes at An Ode to Orvieto.

One of my favorite things about Italy, particularly in the sleepier towns, meals are a whole lot more egalitarian.  Wine is cheap and plentiful, and fresh ingredients used in wholesome cooking are never at a premium.  Tasty is tasty, and everything else fails to make it to the table.

On a dinner out with a group of other students in Orvieto, one of the guys told me that whenever he saw “filetto” on a menu, he ordered it without hesitation.  For the mounds of fresh pasta and pizza and risotto that we ordered as main courses over first courses, we never managed to get to the meat courses.  Learning about this filet obsession shook me from my carb-focused complacency, and I decided to go with a Filetto ai Carciofi, a filet mignon simply grilled with artichokes.  It was in that moment that I had felt as if I’d wasted how many dinners not indulging on a perfectly cooked steak.  Better yet, the dear price tag was nowhere to be found – it was as if I had ordered a chicken breast back in the states, the cost so reasonable.  I miss those days.

This dish has been adapted as a party pleaser, replacing the filet with a whole beef tenderloin.  You have the joy of the same tender meat, but can slice thinly to feed a group.  I’ve also found that buying the whole tenderloin results in a much cheaper price tag by the pound.  As such, you can roast a tenderloin one night and cut individual filets with the rest for dinners later on.  The artichokes are the perfect accompaniment, simmered in chicken stock and dressed in a lush, creamy bechamel.  This is a seriously rich dish of food and a little bit goes a long way.  You will be impressed with how far rich, fresh ingredients go in feeding a bunch, all the while keeping the price tag reasonable.

Recipe for

Beef Tenderloin with Artichokes in Bechamel

1 3-4 lb. beef tenderloin
kosher salt
cracked pepper
olive oil
sprig of thyme

4 artichokes
6 c. of chicken stock
2 lemons
1 sprig of thyme
2 bay leaves
4 tbs. of butter
3 tbs. of flour
1 c. of heavy cream
2 1/2 c. of whole milk
4 tbs. of parsley
salt to taste
white pepper

Season your beef tenderloin liberally with salt and pepper.  Rub with olive oil and let sit out while you prep your artichokes.

Halve the two lemons and squeeze into a large bowl. Fill the bowl with water 2/3 of the way full. Remove the outer leaves of the artichoke until you get to the tender golden leaves in the center [photo]. Chop off the golden leaves to expose the hairy choke in the center [photo].  Use a pairing knife to smooth the outside of the artichoke and remove any tough bits of leaves [photo]. Cut off all but 1/2 of an inch of the stem and peel with a pairing knife or vegetable peeler.  Cut the artichoke into quarters and scoop out all of the fuzzy choke.  Rub all of the cut sides of the artichoke pieces with the halved lemon and then add to the water.  Continue until you have prepped all of the artichokes.

Bring the six cups of chicken stock, thyme and bay leaves to a boil.  Add the artichokes and simmer on medium high for 30 minutes.  Remove artichokes with a slotted spoon and set aside.

In a skillet, add a bit of olive oil and heat on high.  Add the tenderloin and sear on all sides until deeply browned on the outside and rare in the middle.  Place tenderloin on a cookie sheet and bake in a preheated oven until cooked off to your desired doneness, about 5 more minutes for rare to medium rare.  Remove from the oven and let rest.

While the beef is cooking, make your bechamel.  Melt the 4 tbs. of butter in a sauce pan.  Whisk in the flour to make a smooth paste.  Continue to whisk and add the milk and cream.  Working over medium heat, whisk until sauce thickens slightly.  Add the artichokes, about 1/2 tsp. of salt and a 1/4 tsp. of white pepper to taste and stir.  Continue to cook until the bechamel thickens around the artichokes.  Top with parsley.

Slice the steak into 1/4 inch slices and surround with the artichokes and bechamel.  Serve.

Drunken Pasta with Blond Oxtail Ragu

Foodbuzz 24 x 24 | An Ode to Orvieto

This recipe was a part of a special menu for Foodbuzz’s June 2011 food blogger party, 24×24. Showcasing posts from 24 Foodbuzz Featured Publisher bloggers, the monthly Foodbuzz 24 highlights unique meals occurring around the globe during a 24-hour period. Read more about my meal along with all of the other recipes at An Ode to Orvieto.

Of the many meals that I’ve eaten in my life time, only two do I consider truly transcendental. One of which, a dinner served al fresco on the cobblestone streets of Orvieto, was at a little haunt called L’Asino D’oro (Italian for “The Golden Ass”). We had decided to go, a group of us, on the cryptic recommendation of one of our professors, “It’s the most amazing meal of your life. Oh, and if they have the stinco, order it. I don’t know what stinco means, but it’s incredible.” A table was set right in front of the restaurant that looked more townhouse than dining space. Apparently, only two or three parties could dine each evening, and the process of making a “reservation” was literally informing the owner that you would be popping by. In a clammour of conversations in rapid-fire english and broken italian, it was accidentally (or maybe it was intentionally) relayed to the owner to bring us one of everything on the menu. Plate after plate of deliciousness, from fat little sardines dressed in tomato sauce to marbled platters of salumi to heaping mounds of toothsome fresh cut pastas, graced the table as we barely kept up.

One dish in particular gave me pause as for the life of me, I could not figure out the angle.  Gorgeous purple noodles were topped with a savory braised stew of sorts.  I peeked at the menu and saw that it was Tagliatelle all’Ubriaco con Ragu di Coda de Bue.  What the…?  I asked one of the guys on the trip who spoke fuent italian for a little translation help, to which he proffered, “It’s some kind of tail.”  Wait, wha?

I came home and did a little research – coda de bue was oxtail and the sauce was a ragu di carne bianche, or a tomato-less ragu.  In addition, the boozy pasta was purple from a bath in red wine as opposed to the traditional salt water jacuzzi.  What a revelation!  Between the absence of tomato in the ragu and the wacky purple pasta, I knew I had to take this dish on for myself.

Because oxtails need a lot of love and time to become tender, I like to make this sauce in the pressure cooker.  In addition, they tend to be fatty, so try to make the sauce the night before you serve it for simpler deglazing.  As for the pasta, the more that it cooks, the more purple it becomes.  Try fresh or dried pastas with different cooking times to see an array of lovely crimson shades.  And above all, make this meal for folks in need of a little wonder in their lives – from start to finish, this dish is really something magical.

Recipe for

Drunken Pasta with Blond Oxtail Ragu

3 lbs. of oxtails
3 oz. of pancetta
1 onion, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 carrot, finely chopped
3 stalks of celery, finely chopped
3 parsnips, finely chopped
2 tbs. of olive oil
1 c. of dry white wine
6 c. of beef stock
3 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed
2 fresh bay leaves
kosher salt and black pepper to taste

2 bottles of red wine
2-3 tbs. of chopped parsley
2 tbs. of butter

Add two tablespoons of olive oil to a pressure cooker and heat on high.  Salt and pepper the oxtails and sear on all sides in the olive oil.  Remove and set aside.  Add the onions and pancetta to the pot and cook until onions are translucent.  Add the garlic, carrots, celery and parsnips and cook until fragrant.  Add the wine and cook until alcohol cooks off.  Add the beef stock, thyme and bay leaves and put on the pressure cooker lid.  Cook on high pressure for one hour.  Turn off the heat and let the pressure drop naturally.  Using a pair of tongs, remove all the oxtails and put in a plastic tupperware.  Drain the vegetables using a strainer, reserving the liquid in a second tupperware.  Add the vegetables to a third tupperware.  Refrigerate overnight.

Pour two bottles of red wine into a large pasta pot.  Fill the rest of the way with water and bring to a boil.  While the water heats up, begin by taking the meat off of the oxtails, saving the bones and fat for a homemade stock.  Skim the fat off the reserved liquid and either discard or save for the aforementioned homemade stock.  Put the stock into a saucepan and cook on high, allowing to reduce by half.  Add the oxtails and veggies to the pot and let the liquid continue to reduce.  Cook your pasta according to the package directions and then drain.  Toss the hot pasta with the two tablespoons with butter and top with the oxtail ragu.  Serve with chopped parsley and grated parmesan.

Cranberry Relish

The much-aligned cranberry gets a bad wrap – only typically broken out at the holidays in the form of a canned cylinder of fright, these tart lovelies are so much more.  A long while back, my paternal grandmother decided to have a more cooperative Thanksgiving and assigned the kids recipes to bring.  My sister and I were assigned a Cranberry Relish recipe that she had snipped from a magazine.  The recipe itself seemed kind of wacky as we were making it, from the use of a whole orange (peel, pith and all) to the use of crystalized ginger, which we had never heard of at the time and had to look up (and this was well before “Google it” became a catch phrase).  Turns out the spicy treats were considered candy in Australia and could be purchased with the other McCormick spices in the baking aisle.  Who knew?

Well, knowledge begets power and powerful that first batch of relish was in transforming our opinions of the lowly cranberry.  Once an afterthought next to the turkey, potatoes, stuffing and green beans, this relish had star quality.  It’s ingenious in its ability to freshen up the heavy meal and enliven your palette.  Best of all, it requires not a lick of cooking – just pulse everything in the food processor, pour out into a bowl and put it on the table.  Done.  For such freshness and flavor with absolutely no work, those cans of cranberry gelatin are looking mighty good for target practice right about now.

Recipe for

Cranberry Relish

1 bag of fresh cranberries
1 small orange
1 tbs. of crystallized ginger (candied ginger) pieces
1/3 to 1/2 c. of sugar, to taste

Cut the orange in half and then into 1 inch pieces.  Add all ingredients to the food processor and pulse until it forms a chunky relish.  Pour mixture into a bowl and let sit for at least 5 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.  Store any leftovers in the fridge.

Watercress Pesto

Pesto Change-o

This recipe has such an air of sophistication, I’d think to rename it “Watercresto”. Except then it’d sound smarmy.  Talk about versatile, this can be used as a sauce for hot pasta, as a spread for bruschetta, as a marinade or in a cold pasta salad.  Treat it like a condiment and make a little magic. *singing* You can do MAGIC!  You can have ANYTHING that you desire.  And, yes, I’m a dork and am singing America while I post my recipes.

This goes out to all the basil lovers (and growers) longing for a taste of summertime.  Watercress is hardy and available during the colder months, and still manages to be flavorful even though a lot of the produce around it is lacking at best (I’m talking to you, hothouse tomato).  The mixture is a little milder than traditional basil pesto, but still has all the peppery bite. Continue reading Watercress Pesto

French Lemon Tarragon Vinaigrette

An Ode to Waking Your Ass Up

If ever you feel like it’s a “boo-hoo eat salad at home like a dieting loser” kind of night, I strongly advise you to make this dressing.  The recipe originally came from my mom – a bold mixture of lemon, garlic and olive oil packing a serious punch on whatever greens she dressed them with.  It woke your ass up. Continue reading French Lemon Tarragon Vinaigrette