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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Baked Onions with Truffled Egg Yolks

Several months ago Connie and I were lucky enough to go to Jungle Jim's in Cincinnati.  If you're not familiar with it, it's a grocery store that's the size of seven football fields.  They have just about everything.  One of the goodies we found was frozen kangaroo tenderloins.  Needless to say, those went in the basket!

So, the question became, what do you serve with kangaroo?  And, how do you cook kangaroo?  I finally solved the first riddle when I found a cookbook by a couple of Australian chefs.  I turned it over to Connie and asked him to figure out what he'd like.  While he was hunting through the cookbook, I was researching kangaroo on the internet.  Turns out you marinate it with oil and wine.  Ok, that's easy.

Connie comes in the kitchen with the cookbook and points to a recipe for salt baked onions with truffled egg yolks.  YUM, that sounded fantastic.  And, I had all of the ingredients.  Even better. 

So, what did we think?  We loved the baked onions.  They're a good bit of work to fix so they're not something you want to do for a large dinner party.  And, next time I'll peel the onions after the first baking instead of not peeling them at all.  The kangaroo?  Not so much.  As Connie said, it tasted like a mixture of liver and steak.  We like both but like them as separate dishes. 

Baked Onions with Truffled Egg Yolks


1 lb rock salt
2 Vidalia onions
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 tsp butter
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 c cream
2 oz romano cheese, finely grated
2 egg yolks
1/2 t truffle oil
1 oz parmesan cheese, finely grated


Spread the salt in the bottom of a baking dish. 

Preheat your oven to 300.  Make a small slit in the top of each onion. 

Stick the rosemary sprigs into the onions.  (Connie would've preferred two per onion.)

Put the onions on the salt and roast for about an hour.  They'll be very soft when they're done.  Remove the onions from the pan.  Don't toss the salt, you'll need it later.  Allow the onions to cool for about 10 minutes.  Slice the top off each onion and gently peel the onion - not the first layer, just the peeling.  Reserve the tops for a garnish if you'd like.
Be sure to save the rosemary to crumble onto the finished onions.

Scoop out the centers of the onions, leaving the outer two layers. 

Dice the onion you've scooped out. 

Melt the butter in a small skillet.  Saute the onion and the garlic until they're soft and golden brown.  Pour in the cream. 

Cook it, stirring regularly, until it's reduced by half.  Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the grated romano.

Stir until it's melted.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Spoon half of the onion mixture into the onion shells.  Add an egg yolk to each and drizzle with truffle oil. 

Add the rest of the onion mixture

and top with the shredded Parmesan.

Put the onions back onto the salt and bake for 10 minutes until the Parmesan is melted and golden. 

Top with the cooked, crumbled rosemary.

adapted from Surfing the Menu

Monday, May 30, 2011

Rosy Rhubarb Syrup + A New Cosmo + Herb Syrup

Yes, indeed. I do love this new cookbook.  Heartland by Judith Fertig.  Sunday evening while we were prepping the living room for it's new paint job and smoking lamb ribs on the grill, I made two batches of syrup.  We've got a bumper crop of lemon balm and I've been trying to figure out what to do with it other than to make a lemon pesto for seafood.  Then, I saw the recipe for herb syrup. 

Let me digress for a moment.  We've been experimenting with lots of different vodkas for quite a while.  Thanks to Jason at Ancient Fire Wines for a lot of ideas and encouragement.  We've loved making different drinks with ginger vodka, vanilla vodka and pepper vodka.  Connie usually has a jug of simple syrup in the refrigerator.  So, when I saw these recipes I immediately knew we'd figure out a way to use them! 

Then, Memorial Day the debate was which syrup and drink to try first.  The Herb Syrup and the Garden Gimlet or the Rosy Rhubarb Syrup and the Cosmo...  Neither of us wanted to be the one to decide but it turned out we were both just slightly leaning toward the Cosmo.

What did we think?  Veddy interesting!  Lots of floral notes.  Quite refreshing.  The kind of drink that you can have a few then realize you'd just better stay in your chair.  Fortunately, since I was finishing up pulled pork (I'd finished trimming the living room walls- YAY!) and Connie was finishing up rolling the last wall, we had one and quit.  But, it certainly won't be our last one!  And, we will find other uses for the rhubarb syrup.  That was great stuff!!

Herb Syrup


1 c sugar
3/4 c water
1/2 c packed fresh, aromatic herb leaves, coarsely chopped (ok, I cheated and didn't chop)


Put all of the ingredients in a small saucepan. 

Simmer until the sugar has dissolved and the leaves have wilted.  Remove from the heat and allow to steep for about half an hour.  Strain and discard the leaves. 

Store the syrup in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Rosy Rhubarb Syrup


4 c chopped fresh or thawed frozen rhubarb
1 c water
2 c sugar
juice of 2 lemons


Mix all the ingredients in a small saucepan. 

Cook until the rhubarb is pulpy.  Strain. 

Reserve the rhubarb for another use.  Store the syrup in the fridge for up to a month.

Isn't that stunningly gorgeous???

Now, I'll confess that the recipe says to discard the leftover rhubarb.  Why I'm not sure.  My brain immediately zeroed in on the fool that my friend the MomChef made with blackberries.  I grabbed the heavy cream out of the fridge, whipped up some of it and proceeded to have a tasting to decide what liqueur to use in it.  Canton Ginger Liqueur won.  So, I drizzled a bit of that into the whipped cream and folded in the leftover rhubarb and we had a treat for dessert!

Ok, on the the Cosmo. 

Farm Girl Cosmo

serves 4


3/4 c vodka
1 c Rosy Rhubarb Syrup
1/4 c freshly squeezed lime juice
1 t orange extract
thin slices of lime for garnish


Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.  Shake until very cold.  Strain into cocktail glasses.  Kiss the one you love and enjoy!

adapted from Heartland

Heartland Scramble

As is usual on Sunday, we try and have a nice breakfast before heading to the office.  Even though it's race day here in Indianapolis, I'm at the office plowing through the work.  But, my tummy is VERY happy because I made a great breakfast this morning :-)

If all of the recipes in Heartland are as good as this one, this cookbook will claim a spot in the bookcase where I keep my favorites.  That is, if I can ever find the bookcase again...  Yes, I'm wishing the painting was done!  The task this evening is to move the rest of the stuff out of the living room and move the furniture to the center of the room.  Then, we'll take all of the nails and screws out of the walls and cover the furniture with a big tarp.  Then, the fun part.  I get to paint the ceiling.  Swiss Miss is the name of the paint.  I'm going with a darker ceiling and lighter walls and white trim.  Can't wait to see what it looks like.  Right now, it's painted a realtor beige.  It's fine in the daylight but at night it turns yellow.  A rather putrid shade of yellow.  I've lived with it for five years.  That's long enough!

So, chatting about the paint color reminds me of my brother Ken.  He was here for my niece's wedding.  He and older brother John P. and Connie and I piled in my car and headed downtown for lunch at Workingman's Friend.  It's a dive but does it ever have fantastic burgers.  Guy Fieri would go nuts!  After lunch we took a tour of downtown.  On the way downtown we drove through some, umm, interesting neighborhoods.  There were lots of houses painted colors that I'd probably not choose.  Was that polite enough?  Ok.  Whatever.  So, we started asking Ken (who works for Porter Paints) what he'd call the various colors.  Our favorite was frog butt green.  Now, that's our stock answer to what any color is.  Frog butt green. 

You're probably wondering what we thought of the heartland scramble.  It was wonderful.  The recipe says you can use smoked trout, pancetta or prosciutto.  I chose smoked trout.  And, instead of following the recipe, I added the whole tin.  Should've kept to the 1/4 cup as it was a bit "trouty."  And, instead of scrambling the whole mess, I let it turn into kind of an omelet.  That part worked out perfectly.  This was super easy to make.  We'll absolutely make this a regular on our breakfast list.

Heartland Scramble


1 T olive oil
1/4 c scallions or garlic scapes, chopped
1/4 c smoked trout, pancetta or prosciutto, chopped
1/4 c grated cheese (I used smoked gouda)
4 eggs


Coat the bottom of a non-stick skillet with the olive oil.  Add the scallions or garlic scapes and saute until they're softened

Add the trout,

then the grated cheese. 

When the cheese just starts to melt,

pour in the eggs. 

Either scramble or let it turn into an omelet. 

adapted from Heartland by Judith Fertig

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Menus and Gardening

Because I tend to work 70-80 hours a week, weeknight dinners are from a box if I don't plan carefully.  That means making out a menu every weekend and getting the shopping done so we've got all the ingredients.  And, it means prepping whatever I can while I cook Sunday's meal.  During the winter, I make out the menu on Sundays.  But, during the summer, the menu is completed Friday evening or Saturday morning so we can shop the farmers markets.  I've typically got a stack of recipes to try on the desk.  Or, I've got a new cookbook to peruse and list recipes to try.  Since we eat lunch at the office almost every day, I can either take in leftovers or try something new there too. 

Now, you all know I love to collect cookbooks.  That's my weakness.  I have far more than any sane person should have.  But, they're so much fun to read.  And, I learn a lot about cooking - techniques, combinations of ingredients...  Today, I'm looking forward to spending some time sitting on the floor in front of the barbecue shelf looking for a perfect rub for lamb ribs. 

Every once in a while, I'll buy a cookbook that's a total winner.  I make pretty much the whole week's meals from that cookbook.  That's what happened a couple of weeks ago and this is the cookbook's week.  It's called Heartland and is by Judith Fertig.  She's written a couple of other cookbooks but I've never heard of her.  Based on this cookbook, I may hunt down the others.  Of course, I've got Thomas Keller's cookbooks on my list to buy too.  Just bought Around My French Table.  It's wonderful.  But, Heartland has some recipes that are just fascinating to me.  Smoked goat cheese.  Yes, smoked on the grill.  Rosy rhubarb syrup.  For use in all kinds of dishes.  The fact that I have four rhubarb plants and want to use rhubarb helps.  Other than tonight's lamb ribs and the chicken wrapped in grape leaves, I've planned the rest of the week around Heartland.  Here's what's on our menu in no particular order with meals, drinks and breakfasts:

Smoked lamb ribs, fingerling potato salad, slaw

Baked eggs in a prosciutto basket with asiago

Heartland scramble with smoked trout and cheese

Gimlets made with rosy rhubarb syrup

Chicken stuffed with feta, kalamatas and sundried tomatoes, Greek rub, wrapped with grape leaves and grilled; warm salad with grilled eggplant and mushrooms

Homemade pasta with pancetta, black pepper and pecorino served over greens (screaming for a poached egg on top if you ask me); beet queen salad with beets, peaches, smoked goat cheese and orange tarragon vinaigrette

Caramelized cabbage rolls, new potato and bitter greens salad

Morel dusted ribeyes, sides depend on what comes out of our garden - there may be ripe strawberries for a salad or pea shoots, or chard...

Lamb chops with asparagus and rosemary aioli

Baguette with smoked goat cheese, sliced radishes and sliced cucumber

Smoke roasted pork shoulder wtih Sooey Sauce, 4 cheese mac and cheese, salad

Can't wait to start cooking!  In fact, because the smoke roasted pork shoulder takes 12-15 hours I'll be getting up really early on Memorial Day to start in...

Now, to a tour of the yard.  This is probably my favorite time of year in the yard.  The peonies, siberian iris, iris and roses are in full bloom.  The colors are stunning.  Oh, and I can't forget the wisteria.  It's amazing.

Connie likes to keep the honeysuckle flowers off the wild ginger

these hosta love it here!

first strawberries of the season

peas blooming

check out the gorgeous wisteria - and the cute guy too :-)

we're going to have a bumper crop of golden raspberries

Annie's helping - she loves hiding in these hosta and waiting for unsuspecting squirrels. 

lot's of coral bells - aka heuchera

goofiness in the garden!

see why this is my favorite time of year?

the herb garden is really taking shape.  the sage is very happy

and the red-veined sorrel is awesome

these guys were about 8" tall when I got them back in 1994.  they were transplanted from my old house...

and last but not least, a couple more peonies.