Thursday, July 14, 2016

Broccoli, Cauliflower, Carrots, Almonds, Cranberries, and a Tangy Buttermilk Dressing

For fourth of July, BigManLovesFoodSr wanted to relieve me of the majority of the cooking duties and make some ribs and barbecued chicken with my brother's help. I did not complain because his ribs are delicious, but I still wanted to make a couple sides and a dessert.

For the main vegetable side, I put together a crunchy vegetable slaw. It was mostly based on this Broccoli Slaw Recipe from Smitten Kitchen. However, my mom had already bought a few other vegetables in addition to broccoli, so I threw it all together into this slaw. It was kind of the perfect foil to the fatty ribs, sticky barbecued chicken, and buttery potatoes we had.


The salad itself added a much needed crunch to the plate since all the vegetables were still raw. The buttermilk dressing had some red onions quick pickled in sherry vinegar, so it was sharp and very tangy. It cut through all the fattiness on the plate and refreshed the palate between bites. Plus, the cranberries were a nice sweet pop here and there.

Slaw Ingredients

  • 1 large head of broccoli
  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 6 medium carrots
  • 1 cup toasted almonds, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
Buttermilk Dressing Ingredients

  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 4 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 red onion
  • salt and pepper

1. Start off my finely chopping your onion, then mixing it with the vinegar and sugar plus a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. I was going to be traveling with this salad, so I did it in a mason jar. Smitten Kitchen added raw red onion directly to the salad, but my family is not a huge fan. Instead, I wanted to mellow out the onion by letting it quick pickle in the vinegar. I'd leave it in at least an hour before mixing with the rest of the dressing.

2. In a separate mason jar I mixed the buttermilk and the mayo, with another pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. This was mostly because I was traveling--if you're just making it at home, you can just let the pickled onions sit and eventually mix in the buttermilk and mayo directly. When ready, mix the pickled onions with the broccoli. Taste and season if needed.

3. Then you want to prep your vegetables. Thinly slice the broccoli and cauliflower florets. I peeled the broccoli stems, and then thinly sliced them on a mandolin (you can do it with a knife). I passed the carrots through the matchstick setting of my mandolin, but you can also thinly slice them.

4. Next, lightly toast your almonds in a dry pan. Keep and eye on them and mix them constantly because they will burn on you very quickly. Add the toasted almonds and the cranberries to your vegetables.

5. Finally, dress the salad. You might not need all the dressing, but everything should be nicely coated. Let it sit for at least an hour so all the flavors meld together, stirring every 15 minutes.

6. Plate your salad and enjoy!

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Who can look at that and honestly say they don't like brussels? For a vegetarian version, omit bacon.
Growing up, brussels sprouts were one of my most hated vegetables. They were mushy and always seemed to smell really funky; you just couldn't pay me to eat them. However, in the past few years, I've fallen in love with well prepared brussels. At home, I'd always done it in a super hot oven and then added some sort of vinegary-sticky dressing. The super hot oven is key because you want a deep caramelization on the brussels.

This recipe is exactly that, but better. I almost didn't want to post this because it is just so easy--deep fry everything and add the dressing. But, I decided I had to because something magical happens to these brussels when they are deep fried. This is almost exactly the Deep Fried Brussels Recipe from Serious Eats, just with some bacon added because bacon makes everything better. You could easily make this vegetarian by just omitting the bacon . . . but who would ever do that?

Ingredients


  • About 3 pounds of brussels sprouts
  • 3 shallots
  • 6 strips of bacon
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup parsley (not pictured)
  • salt and pepper
  • oil for frying

1. Start off  by cutting the stems off the brussels, peeling off the tougher outer leaves, and then cutting them in half. Peel and thinly slice your shallots. Slice your bacon into small strips (good kitchen scissors are great for this). 

2. Heat your oil to 400 degrees. Unless you have a gigantic pot and an unlimited supply of oil, you will need to do this in batches. I used a pan with about 2 inches of oil in it, and did it in 3 batches. Add the brussels, bacon, and shallots to your oil and fry until crisp and crunchy, about 4 minutes per batch. Stir occasionally and monitor the heat so they don't over brown.

3. Meanwhile, mix your balsamic with your honey and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. I like to use a mason jar for this (pictures missing). Let this sit while the brussels finish browning. Once the brussels are nicely browned, drain them well.

4. Dress your brussels and serve them alongside your favorite protein. Or, just make an extra large batch and make this your complete dinner. Come to think of it, they might be really good with a poached egg on top.

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Friday, July 8, 2016

That is some deliciousness.Slightly runny eggs, sausage, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, and jamon serrano. All wrapped up in a flaky pastry.
So the past few days have been incredibly difficult because of the crazy shit that is happening in our world. Earlier, I just felt too much hurt after all the senseless violence and decided I wanted to step away. Instead, I decided re-live the great memorial day weekend I had with some friends and make this blog post. About a dozen of us spent the weekend at a huge house in Palm Springs, and I went in with a plan.

We had decided to do a big brunch on Sunday morning, and I wanted to re-create this impressive wellington I had seen on the Great British Bake Off. Cathryn filled hers with a full english breakfast with quail eggs. I kept the sausage, sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms, and prosciutto, but I omitted the blood sausage and used chicken eggs. Because some folks were vegetarians, I made an extra batch of pastry and made little savory veggie pasties.

The pasties were good, but the Breakfast Wellington was one of the most impressive thing I've ever made (with help from friends, of course). It was savory and meaty with the sausage and mushrooms, with a bright kick from the tomatoes and a perfect saltiness from the jamon serrano (which I just learned is a type of prosciutto actually). My mouth is watering just remembering it.

This also gave me a chance to try making a Flaky Pastry. In terms of difficulty, this was somewhere  between the rough puff I made a few posts back and the fully laminated puff pastry I am too intimidated to try. It involves an obscene amount of butter being dotted and rolled into dough multiple times--it was decadent and delicious. Overall, this recipe took a bit of work, but it was a great dish to make while friends are hanging out so that you can cajole them into helping (they are also great at getting awesome action shots of the cooking process). It helps if you get the pastry done the day before your brunch so that you are less rushed. 

***I also hope you enjoy the new blog design. I'd love to know what you think and whether you have any suggestions or encounter any problems***

Pastry Ingredients
  • 700 g all purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 450 g unsalted butter, cold
  • 1 cup ice cold water
  • 2 eggs, for egg  wash

1) Start by preparing your butter:
Make sure it is completely cold. Cut it into small cubes. Keep one fourth out for the next step, and put the rest back in the fridge.

2) Rub the  remaining butter into the flour and salt with your fingertips until the  butter is the size of small peas:

3) Add the water to the dough and mix until it just starts coming together. Do not overwork it. It is going to seem incredibly dry and crumbly, but just press it together and wrap it tightly in some plastic wrap.  Chill in the fridge for about 20 min:

4) Once chilled, take the dough out. It should be holding together nicely now. Roll it out into a long thin rectangle, about 1/4  inch thick. Take one third of the remaining butter and dot it over two third of your rectangle. You are then going to fold the third without butter over the middle third, then over the bottom third. Roll this out a little more until the butter has thinned out. Then wrap it in plastic again and return it to the fridge for 20 minutes.

This is easier easier than it sounds--just follow along the border of this picture:

5) You are then going to basically repeat step four twice more, chilling in between each time. Each of these steps is called a "turn." During this process you are creating thin, uneven strips of butter sandwiched between thin layers of dough. By the last turn, you should actually be able to see these strips of butter at different depths in the dough. Finally, place in the fridge overnight (or for at least an hour) and get your filling started.

Filling ingredients
  • 10 eggs
  • 10 oz brown mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 7 oz sun dried tomatoes
  • 2 lb sausage (mix of breakfast and italian)
  • 1 lb jamon serrano
  • Oil
1)  Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2) Bring a pot of water to a boil. Place the eggs in the pot in a single layer and leave them in for 6 or 7 minutes (no more, no less). Take them out and immediately place them in ice water. They should  be perfectly soft boiled now. Once cold, very carefully peel them.

3) Next, you want to prepare your mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes. I hate the texture of mushrooms, so I made them into a paste with the tomatoes. You could also leave them chunkier according to your preference.
First roughly chop  your mushrooms and get them very brown in the butter. Don't overcrowd  the pan so you make sure they get a nice color on them. Then, in a food processor, blend them together with the sundries tomatoes until it resembles a paste.

4) Prepare your sausage. Remove any casings, and mix your different types of sausage together:

5)  Now for the fun  part: building your filling:
Cover  your  counter with an excessive amount of plastic wrap. You'll thank me later.

Take your jamon serrano and lay it into a square on the plastic wrap so that it overlaps slightly and there are no holes. My square was  about 18 inches across.

Carefully spread the mushroom/tomato paste over the jamon, leaving a one inch border.  Then, spread the sausage over 2/3 of the square, leaving the one inch border. Finally, lay the soft boiled eggs across the very center of the sausage, leaving a border at either end.

6) Use the plastic wrap to roll the whole thing into a very tight log. Using the plastic, roll the ends to make the log even tighter (imagine a giant candy wrapper with the ends wrapped). Just move slowly and deliberately and it should come out perfect. Chill the log for about 20 minutes in the plastic wrap.

7) Once chilled, remove the plastic wrap and lightly oil your log. Place it on a baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes. It should feel firm to the touch, slightly crispy, and some oil should be seeping out.

8) Chill your filling completely, for at least 30 minutes. Then, roll our your dough into a huge rectangle (about 25in x 15in). The pastry should be fairly thin. Trim a square off each corner so that when you roll it there is less dough at the ends. Fold the remaining flaps over the meat lengthwise, and then roll the filling in the pastry completely. Use water to seal all the edges as you go Decorate it with all your scraps of dough. I went with x-strips. Brush using one egg beaten with water.

Again, easier than it sounds:

9) Bake for about an hour, until puffy and brown. Cover with foil if it begins to overbrown:

10) Allow it to rest as long as you can stand it, which won't be more than a few minutes. Then cut into it and enjoy.

Even when the world is sad and difficult, friends, food, and family make things feel a little better. Enjoy each other, cherish each other, and love each other. That's really all any of us can do.


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Welcome to my blog, where you can join me as I revel in my love of food. Eating it, cooking it, baking it, watching it on TV and even learning about it. If it has to do with food, I am probably interested.

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