Thursday, March 25, 2010

Stuffed Clams

Bob's parents came to visit last weekend. And they got really lucky with the weather!!! 70 degrees!!! We spent most of the weekend outside either taking a walk, or on the soccer field!

And what do we do when we get together?? Eat or talk about what the next meal will be!!

And that we did! We had seafood on Friday, and grilled veal chops on Saturday. Everyone participated and each dish was wonderful.

I will share all of these recipes with you, but right now...Clams are on the menu! Nicole gave me this recipe and it has become a favorite. Depending on what dish you will serve after the clams, you may decide to make only 6 per person. In this recipe, I fill a whole "escargot plate"...12 clams!

Stuffed clams

Serves 6

72 little neck clams
2 sticks of butter, at room temperature
4 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 cup fresh parsley

Put the butter, the garlic and the parsley in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until it forms a paste, green in color (the more parsley you add, the greener!).

Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

Open the clams and remove one of the shell. Detach the clam from the remaining shell and keep it in it.
Place the half shelled clam in one of the whole in the plate, and repeat with all the clams, placing 12 clams per plate.
Put a dollop of seasoned butter on each one of the clam.

Preheat the oven to 400F.
Bake the clams for 10 minutes and then broil for about 5 more minutes, until the juices sizzle.

Serve hot with a nice crusty bread and a dry white wine.

Notes: Very few people own "escargot plates", and you can place the clams on a sheet pan instead. Once cooked, transfer to individual plates

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Scallops in a Ginger Sauce

Now this is a treat! I love the delicate taste of the scallop, either grilled, seared, with a little bit of curry, or with a bit of lemon.

This recipe is a little different and the ginger goes really well with the seafood.

It is important to buy fresh scallops.

Seared Scallops with a Ginger Sauce

 Serves 6

1 3/4 Lb fresh sea scallops
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
2 green onions, sliced thin
3 Tbsp fresh coriander
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine
3 Tbsp cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup heavy cream

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter

Heat the oil and butter in a heavy saucepan, on medium high.
Add half the scallops and sear one side, until brown, no more than two minutes. Flip the scallops to other side and sear that side, about one minute. Transfer to dish and set aside.
Repeat with second half of the scallops.Transfer to dish and set aside.

Lower heat and add ginger, garlic and saute for about a minute. Add the wine, vinegar and reduce for about 5 minutes. Add the cream and simmer for another 3 minutes, to let the flavors infuse.
Strain the sauce and return to the pan. Add the grated ginger, the cilantro and return the scallops to the pan. Heat for a minute or two.

Serve over Bashmati rice.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pasta Bolognese

And of course it is still snowing in our neck of the woods!!! It is still cold and gray and no one wants just a grilled meat and a salad! We are craving for hearty, warm "comfort" foods!
And pasta and a rich meat sauce fits all the "ugly winter weather food" criteria.
 My Dad taught me how to make the best Bolognese, and here is my version of the dish.

Pasta Bolognese

Serves 8

2 medium onions, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 packages of fresh mushrooms (shitake, oyster, porcini...)
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1 cup red wine
2 large cans of peeled tomatoes
Piment d'Espelette, or red pepper flakes, to taste
2 Tbsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil
1 bunch basil, chopped

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large dutch oven, or other large heavy sauce pan.
Add the onion and cook for a few minutes until tender. Add the garlic; sautee for 3 minutes and remove from the pan and set aside.

Heat another 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the same pan, and saute the mushrooms for about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

In the same sauce pan, add the ground pork and saute until cooked through, stirring regularly to separate the meat. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Repeat with the beef. When done set aside.

Pour the wine into the pan, still on medium heat, and scrape all the meat peaces from the sides of the pan. Bring to a boil and reduce to about half a cup.

Transfer the onion-garlic mixture back to the dutch oven, add the meats and mix well. Add the tomatoes, the oregano, piment d'Espelette, salt and pepper. Mix well.

Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for a good hour or more, stirring occasionally.

Before serving, sprinkle with the freshly chopped basil.

Serve the sauce over linguine, spaghetti or fettuccine (al dente of course!) and freshly grated Parmesan.

- Should you have leftover meats piling up in the fridge, use them instead of buying fresh meats. Just pulse them in the food processor and follow the recipe. The sauce will taste even better. Any meat will work; I have at times used leftover lamb!
- You can change the meats too! Instead of pork you can try a sweet Italian sausage.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Leg of Lamb

After a dry spell in the kitchen, I am back!
Last week, after my father passed away, I just could not get the energy to cook - or update my blog .
I had gone back to France and stayed with my mother and ate "Chef" Picard the whole time. I am now back home, with my mother, my sister and her children...altogether 10 people in the house! Shopping is done accordingly, and meals yield little or no leftovers!
Menu last night was a roasted leg of lamb, with a simple cauliflower puree. I have used this recipe for years, after Catherine's butcher in Paris told us we could never go wrong with these cooking times. Because let's face it, cooking lamb can be a bit of a challenge! I like it medium on the outside and almost rare on the inside (yes, I love rare meat!).
These recipe will be perfect for the traditional Easter dinner, or any other festive occasion.

Roasted Leg of Lamb

Serves 8

1 leg of lamb, bone in
1 head of garlic
1 medium onion
2 small tomatoes
Fresh rosemary branches
1 cup red wine
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 480F.

Remove some of the fat from the lamb. Peel the garlic and cut 4 cloves into slivers. Cut some small notches in the meat and place the slivers of garlic inside. In the same slot, insert rosemary pieces.
Place some garlic and some rosemary branches at the bottom of a large oven dish. Place the lamb on top and set aside.
Peel and quarter the onion. Add to the dish around the meat. Quarter the tomatoes and add with the onion. Add the rest of the unpeeled garlic cloves, the rosemary. Pour the red wine on the vegetables. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper and pepper only on the meat.

Place the meat in the oven. Reduce the heat to 450F and cook for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat again to 355F and cook for another 20 minutes. Reduce again to 320F and cook for another 25 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the meat in to sit for about 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and place the leg of lamb on a large cutting board. Cover with foil and prepare the sauce.
Add about 3 tablespoons butter to the baking dish and scrape the juices from the sides. Transfer to a bowl.

Remove the foil from the meat and slice thinly.

Serve with french "Flageolets beans", or small dry beans. If you cannot find these beans, navy beans will work also. I served the lamb with a homemade cauliflower puree yesterday and it went well together too!