Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mercury poisoning be damned

Ah Tuna, there's nothing better than a nice lightly seared tuna steak. Last's nights came out beautifully, though a bit overcooked in some places. I usually sear it on each side, but this time I decided to see what broiling would do. A $30 piece of tuna is probably not the best thing to experiment with, but it came out delicious none the less.

I marinated the steak in a concoction of Soy sauce, a few splashes of sesame oil, and a 2:1 ratio of honey and wasabi paste. I whisked it together in a stainless steel bowl which I put a little heat to in order to more easily incorporate the honey. I let my tuna marinade for around 45 minutes. Any longer than an hour and you'll end up with one salty steak. I removed the fillet and placed the marinade in a sauce pan for reduction. I pat my tuna dry, applied fresh sesame seeds and set her aside. I wanted to get the shrimp finished before putting the tuna to heat because it can be a bit more temperamental than shrimp. I coated my shrimp with some of the St. Louis BBQ rub I had made previously and put them in a hot pan, then into the broiler until pink. Now it was time for the steak. I broiled it; don't do that. Get a cast iron pan real hot, put in some oil then lightly sear each side for 3-5 minutes. I mandolin-ed some cucumbers and made a mayo and sriracha sauce for the cucumbers and laid the shrimp on top. Sliced my tuna and placed the strips on a rice blend then finally I added the reduction. Quick, easy, and delicious.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

I love the fishes 'cause they're so delicious

Being able to cook has other benefits than fulfilling ones own hedonistic culinary desires. Sometimes friends will come by with bags of excellent seafood and say, 'Hey, lets cook this.'. I guess it helps when said friend's roommate is a fishmonger. I went with an easy, but often poorly done favorite; bacon wrapped scallops.There are a few secrets to doing them well. When you wrap them only use enough bacon to wrap the scallop one time around. Having only enough overlap to secure with a toothpick. I made a quick St. Louis BBQ rub comprised of equal parts brown sugar and paprika and a pinch of: salt, chili powder, cayenne pepper, and onion powder. I sprinkled the rub on top of the scallops then rolled the bacon wrapped sides. While waiting for my broiler to reach temperature I put my cast iron pan in there to heat up. This allows for the scallops to cook evenly from both the bottom and top whilst broiling. Drop a bit of oil in the pan and get them in the broiler until the bacon crisps up.

For the shellfish I sweat down onions in butter then added garlic and herbs. After five minutes I added a combination of muscles, littleneck clams, and razor clams. Then came the steaming liquid of which you can use white wine or beer. I chose the latter and poured in a bottle of Sierra Nevada Torpedo extra IPA. Cover and steam your shellfish (if not previously frozen) until the shells open up and the muscles are a nice orange color. Using the aforementioned cream sauce recipe I substituted the shallots/stock with the steaming liquid from the shellfish. The flavor this gave to the sauce is indescribable. I ended up steaming the shellfish too long due to my focused attention on the cream sauce, so be careful. What I would suggest, since the cream sauce needs a fair amount of reduction, is to steam for 5 minutes, pour off some liquid for your sauce and get it started. That way by the time the shellfish are finished you're almost done with the sauce. We used thin spaghetti for the pasta incase anyone cared.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Ravioli. I love Ravioli.

So TNSC was postponed this week so I cooked with my new special friend, Rachele. I purchased a new pastry wheel from a lil shop in Huntington, Mass. and I couldn't wait to use it. Pinching ravioli can be frustrating, monotonous, and aggravating; to list a few choice adjitives I equate to stuffing pasta. So needless to say I was excited about using my new tool. I had a chicken cutlet in the fridge so I decided to stuff outside the box and make a habanero braised chicken stuffed ravioli with a simple ragu. To braise the chicken I first seasoned it with salt, pepper, and chili powder and browned both sides. I removed the chicken, softened up some chopped onions, a clove of garlic and a habanero pepper with seeds and ribs removed. I then deglazed with two cups of red wine and added my chicken which was about half submerged in the braising liquid. I cooked it for an hour, covered, at 325 degrees. The liquid had reduced significantly, so after forking the chicken apart I put the braising liquid including onions, garlic and peppers into my food processor to smooth it out then added it to my chicken. The ragu was quick an easy. I sautéed garlic, onion, shredded carrot, an anchovy, and some herbs until golden. Deglazed with red wine, added crushed tomatoes and one fresh tomato and let simmer for an hour. Easy peasy.
Rachele took out all of the stops and went with a pumpkin ravioli with a herb cream sauce. Needless to say we practically passed out at the table upon the completion of this meal. To accompany this meal I opened a 2008 Laurent Betton St. Joseph which may not have been the best pairing, but delicious none the less. The St. Joseph started with dark fruit, blackberries and tobacco. A leathery mid palate with a spicy full bodied finish. Extremely well balanced with delicate tannins. I wish I had secured a few more bottles for myself.

Pumpkin Ravioli with Cream Sauce
10 Tbsp (5oz) butter
1 Pound fresh pumpkin (we cheated and used canned)
2 Cups heavy cream
1/2 Bay leaf
2 Tbsp minced fresh sage (Fresh! don't cheap out!)
2 Tbsp minced fresh thyme
2 Eggs, beaten
1 Egg for pasta wash
2 Cups chicken stock
2 Shallots

In a sauce pan on low heat combine 4 Tbsp butter, the pumpkin, 1c of cream, and half of your minced herbs. Allow to thicken. Remove from heat and whisk in 2 Tbsp butter, beaten eggs, salt and pepper. I suggest making the filling a few hours prior to filling your ravioli and allowing it to chill. We stuffed ours pretty soon after and the filling was not as thick as one would like thus resulting on our larger, flat ravioli. Regardless of aesthetics they were phenomenal.

Being that I have yet to invest in a pasta maker or even a rolling pin, I purchased my pasta from Russo's on 11th Street and 1st Ave in Manhattan. Always my goto place for fresh pasta. We laid out our sheets, brushed with egg and spooned on equal portions of the pumpkin filling.

Brown 1/2 stick of butter in a sauce pan. In a separate pan add your shallots and stock then reduce to half. Add cream and reduce by 1/2 again. Whisk in your browned butter and herbs. Then add your cooked ravioli, toss and serve.