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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Lobster Risotto

   Two of my favorite things to eat are lobster and risotto.  Combining both into one recipe results in a heavenly treat in which many other dishes can not match.  Fresh lobster infuses the rice with the wonderful flavor of the sea and rice returns the favor by giving the lobster a creamy texture to swim in.  Making risotto is a fairly simple procedure, it just needs a little time, patience and love.  Take the time to make some and you will quickly realize how great it really is.
When making risotto most people use arborio rice, which I find very starchy and therefore has a tendency to clump up and stick together soon after cooking.  I prefer carnaroli rice because it is more forgiving when cooking to achieve the perfect, creamy yet al dente texture that makes a great risotto.  I also like to use a little more stock than usual to keep the risotto loose and smooth.  This is to say that a proper risotto should not be piled into a glutinous mountain of mush, rather it should spread evenly and be creamy.

1 lb of lobster meat
1 1/2 cups of carnaroli rice
7 cups of hot chicken or fish stock (your preference)
1 1/2 cups of white wine
2 Tbsp basil pesto
1 medium sized onion, small dice, divided into 2 portions
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped, divided into 2 portions
1 cup grated Parmigiano regiano cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
In a large pan, sweat half of the onion and garlic in some olive oil on medium heat for approximately 5 minutes.  Add the rice and stir frequently to avoid sticking for 3 minutes.
Add the pesto and stir until well mixed.
Add the white wine and stir the rice.  Allow the rice to absorb almost all of the wine.
Now add enough of the hot stock to cover the rice and allow the rice to slowly soak it up.  Once stock is absorbed, repeat the same process.  
Patiently repeat this process until rice is almost fully cooked yet still slightly firm to the bite.
 Gently give it an occasional stir to keep it from sticking. 
In a separate pan, melt the butter and sweat the remaining onion and garlic on medium low heat  for 5 minutes.  Add the chopped lobster meat and increase the heat to high.  Saute the lobster for 1 minute.
Add the lobster to the rice and mix together.
When the rice is al dente, add the cheese, salt and pepper and mix together.
Depending on the portion size, this risotto makes an wonderful appetizer, side dish or main entree for any fantastic dinner event you may have.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Mustard, Corriander and Peppercorn Meat Marinade

   Mustard is just one of those raw condiments that I am not crazy about.  When it comes to cooking with mustard, it's a whole different story.  The bold, sharp flavor of a good mustard is a great way to add body  to food.  Larger inexpensive cuts of meat are a perfect candidate for a mustard marinade. 
Breaking down a tough cut of meat is simple with this tart, sweet and spicy marinade made of whole grain mustard with crushed coriander seeds and peppercorns.  It only takes about a minute to put it  together and another minute to slather over a roast such as this boneless beef blade roast.  This marinade works best if left refrigerated overnight but it can also be used for smaller cuts of meat that require less time to retain flavor.
   The marinade also helps render flavorful juices when braising or roasting.  This helps contribute to tasty sauces or gravies which can be used to garnish the meat.  The simplicity of preparation and the end result will definitely be rewarding.

3 lb boneless blade beef roast or similar cut
5 Tbsp whole grain mustard
2 Tbsp peppercorns ( I use black, white and red)
1 Tbsp coriander seeds
3 Tbsp of unsalted butter
1 carrot, diced
1 onion, diced
2-3 oz white wine
2 Tbsp all purpose flour
salt to taste
Crush the peppercorns and coriander and mix with mustard.  Rub meat with olive oil then rub mustard mixture over the entire surface.
Cover meat and refrigerate overnight.
On stove top use an oven proof pot to sear all sides of the meat. 
Remove meat and set aside.
  Using the same pot, add butter and saute the onions and carrots for 5 minutes. 
Add white wine and make sure to scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
 Place meat back into the pot.
Cover the and place into a pre heated 375f oven.
Cook for 1 1/2 hours.
Remove the pot from the oven and place it back on the stove top.
Remove meat and place on a cutting board to rest.
Skim some of the fat from the pot and discard it.
Add  the 2 Tbsp of flour to the pot and stir until well blended on medium heat.
After a few minutes, the gravy will begin to brown and thicken.  Cook until thick but still pourable.
Slice the meat into strips, plate and serve with the pan gravy
The meat will be super tender and full of flavor.  The gravy is bold but not overpowering and is a perfect accompaniment for the meat which can be served on its own, with a side or on a bun as a sandwich.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Crusty Baked Salmon Fillet

   I love  salmon because it is a very versatile fish to cook with.  It can be raw, grilled, baked, cured, smoked, poached and can handle just about anything you can throw at it.   Flavorful, meaty salmon are readily available here so it can often be our "go to" fish.  The good thing about it's versatility is that the myriad of preparations can keep us from getting tired of eating it.  In the winter when grilling isn't always an option, I like to bake salmon. 
   I often like to add another dimension to it in the form of a crust.  The fatty fish can pair quite well with a crispy bread crust which in turn protects the fish from drying out when baked.  This relatively simple recipe involves a flavorful bread crumb mixture which stays moist on the fish but obtains on a crunchy exterior coat.
  Another great thing about this recipe is that it can be prepared and cooked in about a half hour.  Prepare this for your fussiest guests or make it for a quick weeknight dinner.


1 whole salmon fillet, skin removed
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
1/2 cups diced onion
1/4 cup diced celery
1/4 cup diced carrot
1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp paprika
1 whole egg
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
salt and pepper to taste
Place butter, celery, carrots, onions, salt and pepper in a hot pan and saute for 5 minutes. 
Once it has cooled place mixture in a bowl with bread crumbs, paprika, brown sugar and beaten egg, mix well until coarse but moist. 
Place salmon fillet on a tray with parchment paper and sprinkle with salt and pepper. 
Take bread crumb mixture and pack it onto the entire surface of the salmon using gentle pressure.

Place salmon in a pre heated 400f oven and bake for approximately 20 minutes. 
Switch oven to broil.
Place under broiler for 1 minute to brown crust until golden brown and crispy.
Remove salmon from broiler, cut portions and serve immediately.
The brown sugar gives the crust a little sweetness which I find pairs quite nicely with the fatty salmon.  Serve with a lemon wedge and a fresh salad of mixed greens.

Prep time:  10 minutes
Cooking time :   21 minutes

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Tagliatelle Pasta with Basil Pesto, Anchovy and Tomato

    In this day and age, many people with limited time just stop and get junk food at the closest fast food place.  When I am pressed for time or want to make a quick weeknight dinner, I often cook pasta.  In under 15 minutes a fantastic meal can be made for the whole family.  This healthy dish can almost be made in the same amount of time it takes to go through a drive-thru restaurant window.
Mediterranean flavors combined with silky smooth tagliatelle pasta create a dish unmatched by any greasy fast food restaurant.
   The simplicity and great ingredients in this recipe can make a novice cook seem like they have been cooking for years.  
Freshly made basil pesto infused with garlic, anchovy and fresh cherry tomatoes on a wonderful egg pasta, topped with crushed roasted almonds and freshly grated pecorino romano cheese sounds better than a hamburger and fries....doesn't it?


250 grams tagliatelle egg pasta (fresh or dry)
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, smashed
3-4 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
4 Tbsp roasted almonds
freshly grated pecorino romano cheese **optional**
salt and pepper to taste

for Pesto
2 cups fresh Basil, stems removed
2 cloves of garlic
2 Tbsp pine nuts
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano reggiano  cheese
4 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil

Boil salted water and add pasta.
In a food processor, add basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmigiano cheese and olive oil and pulse until  it resembles a coarse mash.  Set aside.
In a pan on medium heat, add olive oil, 1 smashed garlic clove and chopped anchovies.  Using a wooden spoon, mash the anchovy until it dissolves. cook for 2-3 minutes and remove from heat.
Now add the chopped tomatoes and pesto to the anchovy mixture.
When pasta is cooked, add it directly to the pan and toss quickly on high heat for 1 minute.
Serve the pasta immediately. Garnish pasta with fresh grated pecorino cheese and chopped roasted almonds.
It is quick, healthy, flavorful and after one bite, you may never want greasy fast food again.  Enjoy!

For a little added kick, sprinkle with some spicy chili flakes.


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