Thursday, December 31, 2009

Out with the old, in with the new

So many people have given me a hard time about my lame "mini-food blog" on Facebook this year but I have been hesitant to start a blog.  It seems like so much of a time commitment.  But as I am writing this, I feel as with my love of cooking, this will become another way I can relax during the chaos of my last semester at school, working, and trying to raise a baby genius (thanks Lee BTW for My Baby Can Read).

This year has been an incredible one for me...a perfect new baby, my dream job internship, and so many other things.  I am looking forward to 2010 with even greater expectations for my life...and for my food!

With the help of sweets cravings a la Ben, I ventured into the world of baking...hence the sad little biscuit, and pushing myself to explore new cooking techniques and learning more about specialty ingredients and wine, of course.  I made my own ice cream, pasta, gnocchi, Indian food, grilled pizzas, and so much more.  Tonight I am happy to report that I have finally succeeded at making aioli without breakage!  So thanks to all my followers on FB, hopefully you will continue here.

Now on to the food....

To celebrate Christmas - not the traditions but our fabulous food-related gifts - here is our menu for the last evening of 2009.

First, calamari with a spicy lemon aoili.  This recipe is from "Stir, Mixing it up in the Italian Tradition" by Barbara Lynch.

2 lbs small squid, cleaned
2 cups buttermilk
4 cups peanut oil
1 cup AP flour
1/4 cup semolina flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
fleur de sel - for sprinkling on top
1 lemon - cut into wedges

Slice the squid bodies crosswise into 1/2 inch thick rings.  Rinse and soak in buttermilk at least 1 hour.

Fill medium saucepan with oil - heat to 350

Combine flour, semolina, salt, and white pepper.  Drain squid and dredge in flour mix to coat.  Fry until golden for 2 - 3 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Spicy Lemon Aioli
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp. harrissa or sriracha
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
3/4 cup grapeseed oil or mild olive oil

Whisk egg yolks, harissa, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper until combine.  Slowly drizzle oil into eggs whisking constantly.  As mix thickens, whisk in the remaining 2 teaspoons of lemon juice.  (I actually used about 4 teaspoons of lemon juice to make the sauce more lemony)

The main part of the meal was from a cookbook I received from Maureen for Christmas.  "New American Table" by Marcus Samuelsson is a beautiful account of Samuelsson's take on American cuisine combined with world flavors.  This is his shrimp with bacon orzo.


3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon charmoula (you can find this in a specialty food store - but I couldn't even find it in trusty whole foods.  instead I just toasted 1 T cumin seeds and ground together with 1 minced clove of garlic.  Add minced flat leaf parsley, hungarian paprika, salt and pepper.  I added some lemon juice too for this recipe.)
12 U10 shrimp (this means 10 shrimp per pound - its a size class)
2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cups baby arugula
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt

Whisk oil and charmoula together and add shrimp.

Heat saute pan over high heat.  Add shrimp and cook 2 mins per side.  Move to large bowl.

In same pan combine honey, soy sauce, and butter.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 seconds.  Pour mixture over shrimp and toss with aruglua, lemon juice and salt.  Serve with orzo.

Bacon orzo

2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup orzo
6 slices bacon chopped
2 shallots finely chopped
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 tablespoons olive oil

Heat pine nuts in a small saute pan on medium high.  Cook for about 30 seconds, or until gold brown. Mix with salt in a spice grinder or coffee grinder (I used a mini food processesor).  Grind to a fine powder (be careful not to go too long or you will end up with pine nut butter - delicious but not here).

Bring 3 cups water to a boil.  Add orzo.  Cook 5 mins and strain.

Heat a saute pan to medium heat, add bacon and saute for 8 -10 mins until crispy.  Add shallots and garlic and saute until softened - another 4 minutes.  Raise the heat to medium-high, stir in cooked orzo and chicken stock.  Reduce heat and simmer until all stock is absorbed, 5 minutes.   Fold in butter, parm, olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle in pine nut powder.