"What's for Dinner?!" I'm always thinking about it, thought I'd share.

"What's for Dinner?!" I'm always thinking about it, thought I'd share.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Menu: Feb. 14th - Feb. 20th

Pan Seared Shrimp with Pasta tossed in Olive Oil, Garlic, and Parmesan
Green Beans with Almonds
Baby Greens Salad, Balsamic-Honey Vinaigrette

Bison Meatloaf, Mushroom Gravy
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Crispy Shallots

Roasted Monkfish, Black Olive Sauce
Mashed Cauliflower

West Indian Vegetable Curry
Basmati Rice with Scallions

Herb Roasted Chicken
Romaine Salad with Creamy Garlic Dressing

Slow Roasted Shredded Pork, Salsa Verde
Zucchini and Carrot Pancakes

Grilled Aged Porterhouse Steak, Shallot Butter
Sautéed Baby Spinach
Braised Mushrooms
Chopped Salad with Italian Vinaigrette

Roasted Monkfish with a Black Olive Sauce and Mashed Cauliflower

If you've never had Monkfish before, you're in for a treat.  Not only easy to prepare, but it's a mild, terrificly meaty fish reminicient of lobster.  In fact, it is known as "poor man's lobster" in many circles.  One thing to note, it contains a high level of moisture that tends to come out during cooking.  So, if not handled properly, instead of roasting you end up almost boiling the fish in its own juices. What will stop this from happening is season the fish with salt about an hour before cooking. This draws out any excess moisture – then just pat it dry and away you go, ready to cook. This fish is also great for grilling, pan searing or frying.  You can do so many things with it, for example bread with seasoned Panko or chopped nuts for an added dimension.  This is a dynamite recipe, adapted from Jamie Oliver, which is very tasty, so Enjoy!

For the fish:
sea salt
zest of 2 lemons plus a little juice
1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves picked
4 monkish fillets
olive oil
2 bunches arugula, washed and drained

For the black olive sauce:
2 large handfuls black olives, stoned and very roughly chopped
red chili flake, to taste
1 small handful fresh herbs (basil, marjoram and parsley), finely chopped
1 heart celery, yellow leaves chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
juice of 1 lemon
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
balsamic vinegar

For the cauliflower-lemon mash:
1 large head cauliflower
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
chicken stock
juice of 1 lemon

In a pestle and mortar grind up 2 teaspoons of salt with the lemon zest and rosemary and rub this all over the fish fillets. Put the fillets in a dish in the fridge and let them sit there for an hour.

While you wait, make the black olive sauce by mixing all the ingredients except the vinegar together. You want the sauce to have the consistency of a coarse salsa. Then carefully balance the flavors with the vinegar to taste.

Now, onto the cauliflower mash.  Bring a pot of salted water to the boil.  Rough chop the cauliflower and carefully put it in the pot and cook until tender. Then drain very well.  Pour out the boiling water and return pot back to the heat.  Return the drained cauliflower back to the pot and dry for a minute or two.  Now, mash the cauliflower and add some of the olive oil and chicken stock. You're looking for the same consistency of mashed potatoes.  Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Preheat your oven to 425°F.

Pat the fish dry with some paper towel and then drizzle with a little olive oil. Heat a large ovenproof frying pan, add a tablespoon of olive oil and fry the fillets in the pan for 2 minutes. Then turn them over and put the pan in your preheated oven for 6 to 8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets.

Once cooked, remove from oven and serve the fish with some of the juices, a serving of the mashed cauliflower, the black olive sauce, and a little arugula dressed with the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Absolutely, Delicious, "pain in the ass" Pork Roast

So, every once in a while I come across a recipe/preparation that is a complete pain to make, but oh so worth it.  This one totally qualifies.  As Guy Fieri would say, “It’s a three day adventure in flavor-town”.  The end result is moist, succulent pork that’s crispy on the outside and fantastic with the salsa verde.  I reserve these for the weekend and Sunday dinners, when I have more time and can put it all together.  Thank you Cal Peternell of Chez Panisse and Bon appetite!

Serves 6-8 people

For the pork:
One 4 to 5-pound boneless, skinless pork shoulder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for reheating
1 yellow onion, halved and thickly sliced
1 large carrot, cut in thick slices
1 celery stalk, cut in thick slices
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled and cut in half
1 bay leaf
3 parsley sprigs
3 thyme sprigs
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 cup dry white wine, such as Riesling
3 to 6 cups homemade chicken stock or water

For the salsa verde:

Vegetable oil, for frying (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup rosemary leaves
1/4 cup sage leaves
Pinch kosher salt
1 bunch parsley, washed, dried, and leaves picked from stems
1 to 2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup good-quality extra-virgin olive oil

Day 1: Prep the pork:
Place pork shoulder on a rimmed baking sheet. Season with 1 tablespoon each kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover pork with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Day 2: Cook the pork:
Preheat oven to 400°F.

Heat a large heavy pot (such as a Dutch oven) over high; add 1/4 cup oil, onion, carrot, and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables start to sizzle; reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, herbs, and spices and sauté for 1 minute more. Add the wine and bring to a simmer.

Place the pork on top of the aromatics and add enough stock or water to come halfway up the pork. Bring liquid to a simmer, and then cover pot with a lid or a couple layers of foil.

Transfer pot to oven and cook for 10 minutes; reduce heat to 325°F and cook until the meat is quite tender, about 3 hours. (To test for doneness, insert a slender, sharp knife into the middle of the roast; it should pull out easily.)

When meat is cooked, transfer it to a separate container, reserving the pan juices. Set a colander over a large bowl, and strain the pan juice into the bowl, pressing on the solids to extract all the liquid. Let strained pan juices until fat rises to the top, about 5 minutes. With a small ladle, skim off and discard the fat. Pour the skimmed, strained pan juices over the pork and let cool to room temperature; cover and refrigerate overnight.

Day 3: Crisp the pork and make the sauce:
One hour before you're ready to serve the pork, remove the meat from its cooking liquid and cut (while still cold) into neat 1-inch slices; set aside. Pour cooking liquid in a medium saucepan; bring to a simmer and reduce by a third. Season to taste, cover, and keep warm.

While your pork comes to room temperature, prepare the salsa verde. Line a large plate with a paper towel, and place it next to the stove, alongside a slotted spoon or "spider" spatula. In a small skillet, heat 1/2 inch of vegetable oil over medium heat. When the oil starts to look swirly, drop in a single rosemary leaf to test for readiness: if it sinks quietly to the bottom, the oil's not ready. When a leaf sizzles, but not in a frantic way, you are ready to fry.

Add the rosemary leaves to the oil and fry until the sizzling subsides, about 1 minute. Using the slotted spoon or spider, scoop the herbs from the oil and place the on the paper-towel-lined plate. Repeat with the sage leaves in the same oil; remove skillet from heat.

On a cutting board, gather the parsley leaves into a ball, holding them down on the cutting board as if they were trying to run away. Slice this parsley bundle thinly, as if it were a single vegetable. As you slice, the ball will come apart, but just bunch it back together as best you can, keep slicing, and you'll have a nice head start on the chopping that remains. Anchor the tip of the knife to the cutting board and use a paper cutter-like motion to chop away at your pile. Go over it a couple of times, then slide the knife under, like a spatula, and flip it over. Continue chopping and flipping until the parsley is finely chopped; transfer to a medium bowl.

Render the garlic a paste by either pounding it in a mortar with a pinch of salt, or with a knife on a cutting board, again with salt. When the garlic is almost a thick liquid, transfer it the bowl with the parsley; add the fried herbs and the olive oil. Stir salsa verde to combine, adding more salt or oil as needed.

To serve:
Heat a grill, grill pan, griddle, or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, coat the grill or pan with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Working in batches and adding more oil as needed, cook until well browned and crispy on both sides, about 2 minutes per side.

Pour the reduced pan juices onto a serving platter with the pork (but not over the slices or they will lose some crispness) and arrange pork slices on top. Serve with salsa verde spooned over the top, or served alongside and Enjoy!