Showing posts with label sun-dried tomato. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sun-dried tomato. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Parma Ham, Arugula and Fresh Mozzarella Salad

I got some moaning and groaning about difficulty among the positive comments regarding the beef Wellington last night, after posting the link on my Facebook page.  It wasn’t that hard, really it wasn’t!  But, just for you, here’s a simple recipe that is so easy, it is actually just assembly.  A salad, so nothing to cook!  But it is huge on flavor and succulentness.  Yes, I know that’s not a word, but it should be.  Heads up, OED. Next year's edition?

(P.S.  This was our starter last night!  We enjoyed something similar weekend before last during our three days in Singapore and I have been wanting to try my own version since we arrived home.  Simon’s comment was, “Please add this to the list of things we have again!”  I think he liked it.  And, in the spirit of full disclosure, after eating this as a starter, we each only ate half of our individual beef Wellingtons.  Yay, leftovers for me tonight!)

Ingredients for the salad to serve two
1 large ball (125g or 4.4oz) fresh buffalo mozzarella – ours was Italian but if you have a locally made one that is soft and creamy and stored in the whey, give it a try.  This will not be the same with mozzarella encased in plastic.
About 50g or 1.75 oz arugula or rocket – a couple of good handfuls each
70g or 2.5oz Parma ham or prosciutto

Ingredients for the dressing – you will have leftovers
4 sun-dried tomato halves
Enough boiling water to cover the tomatoes
3 tablespoons or 1.5oz or 45ml lemon juice
6 tablespoons or 3oz or 90ml olive oil
1 large clove of garlic
Sea salt
Black pepper

Soak the sun-dried tomatoes in some hot boiling water, just to cover. 

Slice the garlic as thinly as you can and add it to a clean, empty jar.  (One you have saved and washed thoroughly when you finished the jam or something.  Failing this, a bowl and a small whisk will do.  A jar is just easier and you can store the balance in it.) 

Add the lemon juice to the garlic and let it steep for a bit.  This will take some of the pungency and sharpness out of the garlic.

Add in the olive oil, a pinch or two of sea salt and a few good grinds of fresh black pepper.

When your tomatoes have softened sufficiently, slice them up and add them to the jar or bowl.  Add in about 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of the tomato soaking water.

Shake or whisk until the dressing is homogeneous.

To assemble the salad:  Divide your arugula between two small plates.

Cut the mozzarella ball in half long ways.  Put each half in the center of the arugula, cut side up.

Cut your slices of Parma ham in half lengthwise and drape them artfully around the mozzarella.

Give the dressing another good shake or whisk and drizzle it with a spoon, all around the arugula, Parma ham and mozzarella.  It's done.

The perfect way to eat this is to make sure to get a bit of ham, arugula and mozzarella in each bite.  If you can make it work out even till the last bite, you are truly gifted, a superior human being.  And I would be proud to know you. 

For a vegetarian version, why not try marinated artichokes instead of the Parma ham?  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pork and Sun-dried Tomato Portabella Mushrooms

 I am trapped at home today, waiting on the gas man. Which for some reason the Word for Mac dictionary thinks should be one word.  Gasman.  I don’t think so.  It’s not that I am completely out of gas, because, while the big red 14kg tank is empty, the smaller 12kg tank is still ready to cook.  

The question is, for how long?  The blue guy’s been on since before I got back to KL a month ago and that makes me nervous.  I’ve called and put in my order and supposedly he’s coming.  So I wait.

Meanwhile, my plan for dinner included chicken breasts by special request, but I don’t have any.  At 8:30 this morning that didn’t seem like a problem. The gas man would come, I would go out and buy breasts and all would be well.  I have come to realize as the clock ticks closer to 4 p.m. that dinner will have to be whatever I have on hand.  Time to peruse the refrigerator drawers. 

I find baby portabella mushrooms, so stuffed mushrooms come to mind.  But what to stuff them with?  This requires a trip to the outside freezer where some ground pork looks handy.  And a flavoring?  I’m thinking onions, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, perhaps.  Maybe a little of my new friend, quinoa, mixed in.  Just remembering I have feta leftover from yesterday’s dinner.  That would add salt and flavor!  This is where writing down the recipe becomes tricky because I tend to splash and dab and sprinkle and measurements are not so accurate. But I will try. 

1/2 pound or 250g of ground or minced pork
8 baby portabella mushrooms
1/2 medium onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
2.5 oz or 70g feta
2-3 sun-dried tomatoes (if in oil, drained, if still dry, soaked in warm water until soft)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper or more if you like things spicy (Optional)
1/4 cup or 40g quinoa
1/2 cup or 120ml water
Sea salt
Black pepper

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C.

Brown the pork in a large skillet with a little olive oil. 

Meanwhile, put the quinoa in a small pot with the 1/2-cup of cold water and a 1/4-teaspoon of salt.  Bring to a low boil and then simmer, covered for about 10 minutes. 

Chop the onions, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes and add to the pork.  Add a little more olive oil if the pork is too dry.  Sauté until the onions and garlic are translucent.

Check on the quinoa and add a little more water if necessary and cook another couple of minutes, still covered, still simmering.  When the grains are soft enough, drain in a fine sieve.

Clean the mushrooms and remove the stems. Cut the hard ends of the stems off and chop the rest in small pieces and add to the pork pot.  Let the mushroom stems cook down.  Add some crushed red pepper if desired.

Add the pork mixture to the cooked, drained quinoa.

Crumble the feta cheese and mix it in well. Season to taste with the salt and pepper.   Chances are you won’t need much, if any, salt because of the feta.

Allow the mixture to cool, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. You need it cool enough so your egg won’t cook on contact.  Now lightly beat your egg, then add in.  Mix well. This will help the filling hang together in the mushrooms.

Using a spoon, stuff your mushrooms with the filling and place on an ovenproof dish.  Drizzle the tops with olive oil and bake for 15-20 minutes.

They ended up pretty full by the time I had used all the filling.

What am I serving with the mushrooms?  At this point, STILL waiting on the gas man at 6:30 p.m., a leafy green salad because I always have the makings of a leafy green salad in the fridge.  

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Roast chicken with Almost Never-Ending Pesto

My first cousin, Misty, came to visit from the spiritual home of food lovers, Louisiana.  (You want to refute that and nominate your hometown or state or country for the position, write me a comment. I have to admit that Malaysia is close behind.)  She loves to eat, although you wouldn’t know it by looking at her.  Fortunately, I love her so I can overlook that enormous fault.

Her first night here, I decided to roast a whole pastured chicken from Olde World Farms with pesto stuffed under the skin, since I still have homemade pesto.  (The Olde World Farms website is sadly out-of-date, but, if you are in Houston, you can buy their products at the Eastside Market of a Saturday morning. Looks like the Urban Harvest website is a bit out-of-date too but at least you can still get directions. What’s with these people?)

1 whole pastured chicken
1/2-3/4 cup or 120-180ml pesto
Sea salt
Black pepper, freshly ground

Preheat your oven to 400°F or 200°C.

Clean the chicken thoroughly and cut off all extraneous fat.  

Slip your finger under the skin at the point of the breast, up to the wishbone on both sides.  Spoon a large scoop of pesto under the skin and use your fingers to push it up towards the wishbone. 

Add another scoop on the other side and do the same.  Turn the chicken over and make a small slit in the skin of the thigh and run your finger around over the thigh meat. Add a little pesto and stuff it under the skin. Do this on both sides.

Pop the chicken into a roasting pan, breast side down and liberally sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper, making sure to get some inside the bird as well.  Turn the chicken over and liberally salt and pepper the top of the bird.  Put it in the oven.  After 15 minutes, turn the oven down to 350°F and drizzle a little olive oil over the bird. Return him to the oven for about one hour or until a thermometer stuck into his thigh reaches 190°F.

Upon reflection, I decided that we probably really needed some extra breasts to roast alongside the first bird since a couple in our party won’t eat anything but breast meat and I wasn’t sure about the rest of them.  Leftovers never go amiss when they are roasted chicken so off we went to Whole Foods to choose some breasts.

I was gratified to see that Whole Foods has a rating system for showing the treatment of their butchery items, including chicken.  The chicken breasts were rated at a lowly two, while the whole chickens were a pastured four.  The choice was simple.  I would roast two whole chickens.

At that point, while I had plenty of basil, I was out of already made pesto.  I decided to do something different with bird number two: Sun-dried tomato pesto.

1 oz or 30g Alessi sun-dried tomatoes
1 3/4 oz or 50g Parmesan
 1/4 cup or 56.7g butter 
2 cloves of garlic
Enough olive oil to loosen into a basil pesto-like consistency

Soak the tomatoes for about 15 minutes in enough hot water (from the tap hot, not boiling) to cover.  

Drain the liquid.  Add the garlic, the butter and a glug of olive oil and mix with a hand blender.  

Grate your cheese with a fine grater and add to the container.  Mix again with the hand blender, adding a little more olive oil if necessary.  This is going to be a thick paste, like the basil pesto, so you may have to keep removing the paste from the hand blender blades and bearing down upon it again in the container till everything is smooth.   

Now you follow the directions above for putting the pesto under the chicken skin and roasting the bird.

I put them both in the baking pan together and the juice they created as the basil pesto bird and the tomato pesto bird roasted was sublime.

The finished chickens were lovely and juicy and delicious.

Side dishes seem like such an afterthought now, but, I can assure you, they were not. I made Johnson Stuffing from Baked Bree with help from younger daughter.  We also made a simple salad of tomatoes, bell pepper, feta cheese and romaine. 

And roasted golden and purple beets.

For the beets
3 purple beets with greens
3 golden beets with greens
2 cloves of garlic
Olive oil
Sea salt
Black pepper

Cut the greens off the beets and trim the stalks, leaving just the leaves. 

Rinse the leaves several times in a full sink of water until you are sure all the dirt and sand are gone.  Scrub the beets and rinse as well. Any dirt will make for a gritty mouthful so you want to clean these suckers longer than you would think necessary to make sure.  Cut the beets in half and put them in a bowl big enough to allow stirring and/or tossing.  

Drizzle with olive oil, white or dark balsamic vinegar, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  By stirring or tossing, make sure the beets are completely coated.  

Grease a baking tray with more olive oil and tip the beets onto it. Turn them to expose the cut sides and roast them in a preheated oven at 400°F or 200°C.  

Meanwhile, heat a little olive oil in a skillet and gently fry the sliced garlic. Add the beet greens and let them cook just a few minutes until they wilt. Add a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook a few minutes more.  Spread the greens around on the serving platter and put the garlic slices on top.

After 15 minutes, turn the oven down to 350°F or 180°C and cook the beets until they are fork tender, turning halfway through so that the cut sides face the pan.  I ran out of time for the beets because my chicken needed to be on a middle shelf.  It was browning much too quickly up higher, with the beets down below, so I ended up taking the beets out after about 45 minutes and putting them back in their mixing/tossing bowl which was glass and microwaving their already well-roasted selves into fork-tenderness.  Then I arranged them lovingly on the bed of greens. 

I am a lover of purple beets but had never tried golden beets. They reminded me of parsnips and I would definitely buy and cook them again. And roasting seems to bring out the best in both colors. 

For dessert, we had two special recipes, made by younger daughter, quite a whiz in the kitchen from a young age:  Divinely moist brownies and chocolate-dipped strawberries.  Words are not necessary with photos like these.

It was our wonderful pleasure to have Misty over and we hope she comes back soon!