M. Andrew Gordon

Archive for December, 2009|Monthly archive page

Sweet Potato and Salmon Hash

In Main Dish on December 28, 2009 at 9:47 am

Christmas morning has by and large in recent years been a subdued affair with my parents and I enjoying some sort of breakfast/brunch, lots of coffee, and the occasional gift.  Having free reign to create this breakfast has its benefits.  But of course, Christmas morning isn’t the time to spend huddled in the kitchen, preparing extravagant dishes or multi-coursed gastronomic delights.  So a hash made a lot of sense to me because nearly everything would be cooked ahead of time, needing only a half-mindful eye to sit in a hot cast iron skillet while the hash develops a nicely caramelized layer.

Sometime, months ago, I had helped cook dinner at my brother’s house.  In the morning, the leftover roasted pork loin and the sweet potato side found its way into a skillet as a sort of hash and I have been thinking of recreating that since.  But Christmas seemed to beg for something a little more luxurious, something slightly askew that would never be a part of any regular breakfast.  Enter the salmon.

The basis of the hash is roasted sweet potato and red onions which are then tossed with black beans and a citrus-cilantro sauce.  This dose of herbs and acidity is countered by a little heat and smokiness from jalapenos and chipotle puree.  The sauce is reprised in a sour cream-based garnish, providing a cool complement to the dish.  The potatoes are tossed with chunks of salmon and cooked until it develops a nicely browned crust and then topped with fried eggs, cooked just enough to let the yolks run into the hash.

Sweet Potato and Salmon Hash with Fried EggsServes 6

  • Olive oil
  • 2 sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 small red onions, cut into wedges
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained well
  • ¾ cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
  • 2 jalapenos, stems and seeds removed
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle puree
  • 1 lb salmon fillet, skin removed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder
  • 6 to 12 eggs
  • ½ cup sour cream
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.  Toss sweet potatoes and red onions with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Spread on two baking sheets and roast for about 45 minutes, until starting to brown.  Let cool and add to a bowl with black beans.
  2. In a food processor or blender, combine cilantro, jalapenos, garlic, lemon and lime juices and puree.  With machine running, drizzle in oil, honey, and chipotle.  Let mix until combined and season with salt and pepper.  Reserve two tablespoons of sauce and pour the rest over the sweet potatoes, tossing to coat.
  3. Heat a large cast iron skillet or two smaller skillets.  In small bowl, toss fish with the pepper, cumin and chile powder.  Add to sweet potato mixture and combine.  Add to hot skillet and cook undisturbed for 6 to 10 minutes, depending on stove and skillet.  Break up hash and turn, cooking for another several minutes.
  4. In large non-stick skillet, cook eggs until whites are set and yolks just begin to firm.  In as small bowl, combine sour cream with reserved cilantro sauce.
  5. Spoon hash onto plate, top with egg, and add a dollop of the cilantro cream.

Cranberry Pie…with no sidekicks

In Baked Goods, Desserts, Pies on December 26, 2009 at 9:52 am

It is probably not surprising to anyone who has followed this fledgling food-blog or to anyone who knows me that I have an unabashed love for cranberries (they do, after all, pay my bills).  I will stop my soliloquy on the merits of the cranberry here before I can get on a roll.

One of the long-standing problems of cranberries as a fruit is that they seem to need a sidekick.  There is cranberry-apple pie and cranberry-orange relish; cranberry-blueberry muffins and cranberry-pomegranate compote; cranberry-pineapple salad and cranberry-pumpkin bread; cranberry-pear galette and cranberry-avocado salsa; cranberry-banana bread and cranberry-quince chutney!  Enough, I say!  Today, the cranberry will stand alone!

I have actually been interested in making a cranberry pie for some time and finally got around to it for Christmas Eve.  I had visions of a double-crust pie stacked with nothing but cranberries that would be just sweet enough to cut the inherent tartness of the cranberries.  For the sweetener, I decided I would try using nothing but honey because it seemed a good fit for the otherwise pure filling I was planning on.  My one concession to the cranberry’s tart character was adding some measure of sweetened-dried cranberries, but as this is still essentially cranberries, I decided it would not violate my goal of creating a Cranberry Pie sans any loony sidekicks.

The end result was a beautiful looking pie that held its shape remarkably well.  I filled the pie with a 5:1:1 ratio of fresh cranberries, dried cranberries, and honey.  Some comments at the table suggested that the pie was a little too tart (I, however, like most pies less sweet and really enjoyed this).  If you’re thinking this might be a touch too tart for you, I think a 4:2:1 ratio would work very well and be sweeter.  I used my usual all butter pie crust recipe for this, but of course, feel free to substitute whatever pie crust you like.  And finally, because I can never let a whipped cream be made without somehow tinkering with it, I wound up tossing in a couple of teaspoons of orange zest which lent the cream a nice citrus kick.  I guess maybe sometimes there is a need for a sidekick…

Cranberry Pie

For the dough:

  • 2- ½ cups all purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 4 to 7 tablespoons ice water or more, if needed

For the filling:

  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon curry powder
  • 5 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup sweetened-dried cranberries

For the whipped cream:

  • 1 pint whipping or heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons confectionary sugar
  1. Make the dough.  Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine.  Add butter and pulse again until mixture resembles a coarse meal.  Add the water a few tablespoons at a time and pulse to combine.  When the dough is together, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly.  Separate into two disks, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for about an hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°F.  Combine honey and spices in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until honey becomes thin and spices are incorporated.  In a large bowl, combine both types of cranberries.
  3. Roll out one disk of dough until thin and large enough to fit into a pie dish.  Fit and trim to leave about one inch around the edge of the dish.  Roll out the other disk and reserve.  Pour honey over cranberries and stir to mix well.  Pour cranberries into dish and place second piece of dough on top.  Trim and pinch and fold the edges to seal.  Make several cuts across the top to allow steam to escape.  Brush dough with cream and sprinkle with sugar.
  4. Bake pie for 75 minutes.  Let cool on rack.  Combine whipped cream, orange zest, and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl and beat at medium speed.  While machine is running, add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.  Serve with pie.

Bacon-Apple-Cranberry Crisp

In Desserts on December 14, 2009 at 9:01 pm

How good would an apple-cranberry crisp be if it had just a little bit of bacon crumbled over the top, mixing in with brown sugar and walnuts?  The tart flavors of the cranberries melding in with the smokiness of the bacon, tempered by the apple and cinnamon flavors?

The answer is pretty damned good.

More interestingly, I tried to make a bacon whipped cream.  Yeah, that’s right.  I had two thoughts but I wasn’t sure which would work better.

A) a cream that was infused with cooked bacon and included some bacon fat, or

B) a cream that simmered with smoked bacon before being cooled and whipped

Cream A never quite whipped, leading me to suspect that the extra fat included was causing some problems with the property of the cream.  I am not Alton Brown so at this moment I do not know if that logic makes even a remote amount of sense.  Perhaps I will hunt down an answer in the near future.

Cream B also seemed plagued by some whipping issues, but it did finally come together.  And it tasted like bacon.  Not really anything else.  It was a fluffy, creamy bacon.  While it was great fun to try and I think Bacon Whipped Cream has a place in this world, like atop a really good, rich waffle, I think the apple-cranberry-bacon crisp may have been better served with something like a bourbon-infused whipped cream.

Sadly this dish will for now have to share notoriety with the Yeti and el Chupacrabra as being unphotographed.  I took the dish with me to a brunch and left my camera at home.

Apple Cranberry Crisp with Bacon-Walnut Topping

  • 5 or six apples, peeled and sliced into ¼ inch slices
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 12 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup bacon, crumbled
  1. Butter an 8X12X2-inch baking dish and preheat the oven to 350°F.  Combine apples, cranberries, lemon juice, ¼ cup of flour, 1 cup of brown sugar, and cinnamon and stir together until well combined.  Let stand for five minutes before pouring into prepared dish.
  2. In another bowl, combine butter, oats, remaining flour and brown sugar, walnuts, and bacon.  Using hands, mix together until small crumbles form.  Spread evenly over apples and cover with foil.
  3. Bake for 35 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for an additional 25 minutes or until crisp is golden brown, cranberries have started to burst, and the apples have softened.  Serve with whipped cream.

Bacon Whipped Cream

  • 1 pint whipping cream
  • 4 slices, thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar

1. Combine cream and bacon in saucepan and simmer for 20 minutes.  Strain and let cool completely in refrigerator.  Using electric mixer, beat with sugar until soft peaks form.

The Layered Meatloaf

In Beef, Main Dish, Side Dishes on December 8, 2009 at 7:43 pm

This is an ostentatious presentation of a meatloaf, that venerable brick of meat that has die-hard followers and fanatic disbelievers.  Myself; firmly in the category of loving a good a meatloaf.  I stress good because meatloaf can suffer horribly if it is made poorly.  And I apologize, Mom, but the old adage about loving only mom’s meatloaf does not hold true.  There are other good meatloaves out there beside yours.

This could be made in a traditional manner but of course the cooking time would have to be longer to compensate for the density.  And oddly enough, while all my attempts at layer cakes have failed miserably, this was pretty easy to assemble.  But if going traditional, the blue cheese and cheddar spiked mashed potatoes would not be the worst thing you could serve along side the meatloaf.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 white onion
  • 1 lb pork
  • 1 ½ lb beef
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ¾ cup bread crumbs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ teaspoon thai chile paste
  • 1 teaspoon grated horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
  • 3 russet potatoes
  • ½ cup blue cheese
  • ½ cup cheddar
  • ½ cup milk, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 8 strips bacon, crumbled
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • ¾ lb oyster mushroom, sliced
  • ½ lb cremini mushroom
  • 2 cans cannellini beans
  • ¾ cup chicken stock
  • 1 head garlic
  1. In medium skillet over low heat, sweat onions until very soft.  Be careful not to brown.
  2. Grind meats or if using pre-ground, mix together in large bowl.  In separate small bowl, combine melted butter, bread crumbs, and milk.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  In separate bowl, combine egg, yolk, chile paste, horseradish, mustard, chile powder, cinnamon, and chopped rosemary and whisk until well-mixed.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Combine the milk mixture and the egg mixture and pour over meat.  Using hands, work mixture until even, being careful not to overwork.  In lightly oiled cookie sheet, spread mixture into a thin, even layer.  Bake for 20 minutes.
  4. When cooled enough to handle, cut meatloaf into four even rectangles.  Move one rectangle to a clean baking sheet.  Spread the Mashed Potatoes on the top in a ¼ inch thick layer.  Place another layer on top and spread the Mashed Potatoes and bacon.  Repeat until you have four pieces stacked.  Spread the top with a thicker layer of mashed potatoes and sprinkle remaining bacon.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Optional, broil top until golden.

To make Mashed Potatoes

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Prick potatoes with fork all over and roast potatoes for approximately 75 minutes until soft.
  2. When cool enough to handle, cut in half and scoop flesh into medium pan.  Add butter, milk, and cheeses and mash until mixture is smooth and even.

To make Mushroom Bean Puree

  1. In large skillet, heat olive oil at medium heat.  Cook red onion until soft, about six minutes and add mushrooms.  Continue to cook for ten minutes.
  2. In food processor, combine one can of beans and roasted garlic.  Turn machine on and pour in stock until mixture is smooth.  Pour over mushrooms in skillet and add the additional can of beans.  Heat through and season with salt and pepper.

Beef Ragú with port and espresso

In Beef, Main Dish, Sauces on December 5, 2009 at 8:51 am

Somewhere along the line, I picked up a recipe that called for a red wine-espresso base for a beef ragú.  At this point I am not sure where it was, and I know I could look it up, but what fun would that be?  I’d rather make a few educated guesses and take my chances.

I decided to go with a center shank sirloin cut because of the convenient section of bone included.  Since I knew I would be leaving this in the slow cooker while I was at work, I figured the extra material in the marrow would only make the sauce more flavorful.  While I was tweaking this recipe, or what I remembered in my head, I thought I might as well try it with port instead, so in went the remainder of the 12 year old Tawny sitting in the liquor cabinet.  The rest is pretty straight forward, however, I feel I should say that I think it is worthwhile to be careful when buying tomatoes.  I am beginning to become a bit of a snob on these sorts of things and think it might be beneficial to spend a little extra on good canned tomatoes.  Too many of the cheaper options just taste tinny or metallic to me.

Sitting in the slow cooker all day allowed the beef to be falling-apart tender, perfect for a ragú, and the espresso lent a rich earthy note that was not at all obvious.  If you have ever have had any coffee rubbed steaks, it is a similar flavor.  The port gave the sauce a dose of sweetness and helped turn it a vibrant dark red.  For simplicity’s sake, this is definitely something I’ll keep in the rotation.

As for cooking the pasta, I tried a technique I had read about recently in which the pasta is cooked sort of like you would if making risotto, with frequent small additions of liquid rather than being submerged in boiling water.  I really liked the texture of the pasta this way, and although it is a little bit of a nuisance to continually stir the pasta while it cooks, it might just be worthwhile from time to time.

  • 1 lb center shank sirloin cut of beef
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Olive oil
  • ¼ cup port
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 cup espresso
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 3 tablespoons basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1 28-oz can San Marzano tomatoes, whole peeled
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 8 oz pasta
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  1. Sprinkle salt and pepper over beef.  Heat oil in heavy skillet and sear both sides of the beef.  When browned, transfer beef to slow cooker.  Combine port and water and deglaze pan and pour into slow cooker.
  2. Add espresso, red onion, half of the garlic, half of the basil, and the tomatoes.  Cook on low for at least six hours until beef falls apart.  Break up beef and tomatoes.
  3. Heat several tablespoons of olive oil in a pan.  Add remaining garlic and cook until starting to brown.  Add pasta and stir to coat in oil, cook for about two minutes.  Add one cup of stock and bring to a boil.  When stock is nearly gone, add another ¼ to ½ cup, letting it cook off before adding more.  Cook until pasta is tender.
  4. Add red pepper and remaining basil to ragout.  Stir in pasta and serve.

Avocado Waffles with Citrus Chicken and Guacamole Sauce

In Main Dish on December 1, 2009 at 9:15 pm

If you are anything like me, you never have to worry about having extra avocados lying around the kitchen because extra avocados are quickly and easily made into guacamole, which will not last long.  But if for some reason you do find yourself with an avocado or two kicking around and want to try something different, I can safely report that an avocado waffle is not a bad way to go.

Yes, that’s right, an avocado waffle.  I’m not sure where the inspiration sprang from but somewhere between leaving work and arriving at home I had decided that the chicken I was planning on cooking for dinner would not be made into a taco or quesadilla and served with guacamole.  No, it would be layered on top of a waffle full of avocado.  The flavor of the waffle is not thoroughly unusual but the appearance is kind of neat, with a greenish hue to the interior of the otherwise golden waffle.

The topping is an avocado sauce made with avocado, Satsuma orange* and lime juice, garlic, fresno pepper, and corn oil.  While this was a good dinner, it would also be a pretty good brunch option.

Satsuma Orange

*The Satsuma orange was new to me when I saw it in the market the other day.  Some research tells me that it is closely related to the Clementine and it certainly seems that way, both in flavor and in the ease in which the peel is removed.

Cocktail of choice: the December Stormy

Avocado Waffles topped with Citrus Chicken and Guacamole Sauce

Interior View of Waffle

  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chile powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¾ pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, sliced thin
  • 2 cloves garlic, one sliced thin, one chopped
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ¼ cup ginger beer
  • 2 avocados, one mashed and one chopped
  • ¾ cup flour
  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • 3 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 fresno pepper, diced
  • 3 tablespoon corn oil
  • 1 small red onion, sliced very thinly
  1. Combine spices and pour over chicken thighs in a large bowl and toss to coat.
  2. In a heavy skillet, heat oil and cook the sliced garlic clove until starting to brown.  Add chicken and cook for several minutes.  Add orange juice, ¼ cup of the lime juice, and the ginger beer.  Cover and cook for 12 to 15 minutes.
  3. Combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large bowl and whisk.  Add ½ cup of mashed avocado (should be about one avocado), milk, and egg and combine until a lumpy batter forms.  Heat waffle iron and cook to your preference.
  4. In a food processor, combine the remaining avocado, lime juice, garlic, and fresno pepper.  Turn on and with machine running, pour in oil until combined.
  5. Serve by piling chicken on waffle, topping with guacamole sauce and thinly shaved red onion.

December Stormy

In Uncategorized on December 1, 2009 at 8:18 pm
This highball riffs on the Dark ‘n’ Stormy, combining a potent dark liquor with ginger beer for a refreshing drink for late autumn.
  • 2 oz bourbon
  • 1 oz Satsuma orange juice
  • ½ oz triple sec
  • ½ oz lime juice

Stir bourbon, Satsuma orange, triple sec, and lime juice in highball glass filled with ice.  Top with ginger beer and a twist of orange zest.