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Sunday, January 4, 2015

Still Celebrating!!

Happy New Year!

We celebrated with our normal seafood fest.  This year, though, we toned it down a bit.  It's usually a multi-course extravaganza with loads of leftovers.  This year we had a few leftovers to use for dinner with Mom.  But, not like most years. 

We've just kept celebrating from Christmas on...  We'd bought a duck to fix Christmas evening but truth be told we were having so daggone much fun relaxing that we never got it made.  The next evening I pulled out my trusty FARM Bloomington cookbook by Chef Daniel Orr and followed his directions for roasting duck.  Believe it or not, it was wonderfully moist and NOT greasy.  Now, what I'd do differently is really glaze it so it doesn't need barbecue sauce.  And, you could remove the skin and crisp it up.  We just removed it and tossed it...  Much healthier!

Then, Jim and Donna had their annual games party.  We both look forward to an evening of games, camaraderie, and snacks.  I took my friend Brett's pimento cheese.  It's kicked up from the normal pimento cheese we love.  Brett adds in some pickled jalapenos and toasted pecans. Did I get a photo?  Nope, so you'll just have to imagine. 

The first year I met Connie we talked about what we like and don't like about New Years Eve.  Neither of us like the big parties.  Staying home and having a special dinner is much more our style.  I asked what he'd like for dinner and he said, "Seafood."  He's from Boston and that's what a special meal is.  Seafood.  Off to the fish market I went.  Where I proceeded to buy about one of everything.  We must've had eleven courses.  You name the seafood, we had it.  Over the years, we've narrowed the menu down considerably.  This year it was grilled oysters and a seafood salad.  That's it.  It was pretty perfect! 

We used the leftover crab in a wonderful pasta dish.  When I read the recipe I knew it was the one for us because it not only had crab but also crème fraiche.  And, I had a cup of homemade crème fraiche from quiches with the kids.  I also had a bit of leftover tasso ham from the oysters and caviar from the salad...  Needless to say they were a great addition to the pasta!

New Year's Day is always a party at my brother's house.  Except this year there were going to be 29 there.  And, Mom has a bad back.  And, she's about 4'8 now and pushing 90 years old.  She and my brother John agreed she should stay home.  So, Connie and I took dinner to her instead of going to John and Pam's.  Actually, we stopped by their house since I'd promised to bring a Casa D'Angelo salad.  Then, we headed to Mom's.

I made pork loin in sauerkraut just like Pam's mom does.  But, I did mine in the crockpot to see how it turned out.  Fabulous!  Then, I made smashed potatoes.  It's a recipe from a restaurant in Santa Fe called SantaCafe.  These potatoes were so fabulous I bought the cookbook when there some 15-20 years ago.  Looks like it's still open so that's good news!  At any rate, these are lumpy potatoes with carrots and green chilies.  Not your normal mashed potatoes.  The first and only time I've made them for the crew at John and Pam's house, Pam's mom asked if I'd like for her to finish them.  You know, get the lumps out.  I said, no thank you, they're supposed to be that way.  She was scandalized.  Lumpy potatoes!!!  You see, they LOVE their mashed potatoes and they must be totally lump free.  My side of the family however prefers some lumps and bumps. 

You know, I just looked through photos to see what I'd want to put in this post and realized I totally forgot about one fabulous meal.  We make Mom's vegetable soup from scratch.  Using stew beef and beef bones.  We also had the trimmings from the beef tenderloin we were taking to the kids.  The butcher was kind enough to cut the beef bones in half.  We roasted them and feasted on the marrow.  It went on toast with some Himalayan pink sea salt shavings.  (Thank you, Liz!) 

Then, we used the beef to make a fabulous recipe from Michael Symon's Carnivore.

Throughout all of our cooking adventures, Wee Mac remains too tense.  Here he is valiantly guarding some cookbooks...

Let's start with New Year's Eve since this was the recipe to beat all recipes!  I got the recipe out of Wine Spectator.  It was in an article about the Reveillon dinner at Emeril's in New Orleans.  The original recipe called for 36 oysters and veal demiglace.  Since there were two of us I cut it down to 1/6th the original recipe and subbed in some beef Better Than Bouillon for the demiglace.  The original recipe called for 3/4 c of demiglace.  That would've translated to two tablespoons.  I used a teaspoon of the BTB. 

Emeril's Grilled Oysters


6 oysters, washed and patted dry
2 oz butter, at room temp
2 T veal demiglace (I used one tsp of beef Better than Bouillon)
1/2 fresh sage leaf, finely minced (I used about 1/4 t of rubbed sage)
1/4 t minced garlic
1/2 t lemon juice
1/4 t finely grated lemon zest
1/4 oz tasso ham, finely minced
smidge crushed red pepper flakes
1 T panko breadcrumbs
1/2 c finely grated romano cheese


Mix the butter with everything through the red pepper flakes. 

Shuck the oysters being careful to conserve the liquor.  Put the oysters on a bed of rock salt.  We used a 9x13 pan for six oysters.  Sprinkle the oysters with the panko.  The recipe actually called for a teaspoon of the panko.  By the time I was done sprinkling, I used closer to a tablespoon. 

Then, top the oysters with the butter mixture. 

Sprinkle them with the romano cheese. 

Since it was so cold out that the grill would've been fussy, we chose to broil the oysters.  Broil or grill just until the cheese has melted. 

adapted from Wine Spectator

Smashed Potatoes


5 small-medium russet potatoes, coarsely chopped
2 handfuls of baby carrots, chopped
2-4 T butter
1/3 - 1/2 c sour cream
4 oz can chopped green chilies (or chopped fresh green chile)
5 dashes Tabasco sauce (I omit this sometimes)
pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 c chopped green onion
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper


In a medium saucepan with water to cover, simmer the potatoes and carrots for about 20 minutes or until very soft.  Drain well.  Add the butter.  Smash with a potato masher.   Do NOT use a mixer as that will get them too smooth.  Mix in the other ingredients.  These make fabulous potato pancakes for leftovers...

Pan Roasted Sirloin with Mushrooms and Soy


1 2-lb top sirloin steak
kosher salt
1/2 t sugar
2 T plus 1 T canola oil
1 lb mushrooms cleaned and sliced (he called for chanterelles.  I had creminis)
1 shallot, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T fresh thyme leaves
1/2 c dry red wine
1 T soy sauce
1 T grainy mustard
1 T unsalted butter


You're supposed to start by rubbing the beef with a mixture of 2t of salt and the 1/2 t of sugar then refrigerating it overnight.  Problem was that I wanted to fix the beef for that very evening.  So, I just skipped the refrigerate overnight step.  If you do follow those instructions, please make sure to bring the beef to room temp for about half an hour before browning it...  Now, to brown it, heat 2 T of the oil in a skillet.  Once it's shimmering, pat the beef dry and put it in for about 3-4 minutes per side.  That'll give you medium rare.  Remove the beef and allow it to rest.  Make sure you put it on a plate or cutting board that'll allow the juices to accumulate and not run off. 

Now, in the skillet that you browned the beef in,

add the remaining tablespoon of oil.  Heat it to shimmering and add the mushrooms. 

You'll want them to get nicely browned so they'll need to cook for about 4-5 minutes.  Use medium high heat when cooking the mushrooms.  Now, reduce the heat to medium and start adding the other ingredients. 

First the garlic for about a minute.  Then, the thyme for another minute.  Then, the wine.  You'll want it to reduce by half before adding the balance of the ingredients.  Add the juices that've accumulated.  Slice the sirloin in very thin slices, against the grain.  Spoon the sauce over the beef.

adapted from Carnivore by Michael Symon

Crab Pasta with Prosecco and Meyer Lemon Sauce


2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, sliced
1/8 t red chili flakes
3/4 t kosher salt, divided
1 1/2 c dry prosecco
1 c crème fraiche
zest of 2 Meyer lemons
2-3 T Meyer lemon juice
1 lb shelled, cooked crab
1 lb fresh fettucine
1/4 c chopped flat-leaf parsley


The sauce will come together in about the time it takes to get the pasta cooked.  Start a large pot of salted water.  You'll want to bring it to a boil then add the pasta so it finishes cooking at the same time the sauce is ready.  While that's heating up, sauté the shallot and chili flakes in the oil in a medium skillet.  Once the shallot is softened, whisk in the prosecco and crème fraiche.  Over medium high heat, bring the mixture to a boil.  Once it's reduced to about 1 3/4 cups (which will take 10-15 minutes,) stir in the lemon zest, 2 T of lemon juice and the crab.  Remove the crab sauce from the heat. Toss the sauce with the al dente pasta and serve topped with some chopped parsley.

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