Monday, January 26, 2009

Tomatillo Guacamole

I don't know about you but usually I’ll buy tomatillos in their papery husks and put them in a bowl with lemons and limes and wonder why, four months later when I decide I want to use them, there’s nothing there but hard little round sticky things.

So after years of mistreating the tomatillo, I decided to treat it right. Taking note from Martha Rose Shulman’s fabulous Mexican Light cookbook, I tried her Tomatillo Guacamole.

I will be nice to tomatillos from now on. This is a wonderful take on guacamole. The sharp taste of the tomatillos, a bit of garlic, fresh cilantro, jalapeno slices and a big squeeze of lemon juice provides a wonderful spread for homemade corn tortilla chips, a great dip for fresh veggies and a wondrous blop of goodness on top of a special quesadilla. Like the one I cooked for dinner tonight, for example. Sauteed shrimp with a bit of olive oil and hot Spanish paprika on top of refried black beans flavored with ground cumin and ground chipotle pepper topped with caramelized onions, flipped back and forth on a hot griddle, served with a bit of sour cream.

Hey, it’s Monday. You need to start the week off with a bang, right?

Tomatillo Guacamole
Adapted from Martha Rose Shulman’s Mexican Light

4 large fresh tomatillos, roasted in the oven until they blacken, cooled and peeled
1 large spoonful garlic confit
Fresh cilantro to taste
4-5 sliced pickled jalapeno slices
A good squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large ripe avocado, peeled and diced

Put the roasted tomatillos, garlic confit, cilantro, and jalapeno slices in blender and combine til smooth.
Add to diced guacamole in bowl and season with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Then squeeze the lemon (half a large lemon) over. Stir gently.

Makes about 1-/1-2 cups.

Click here for a printable recipe!

One Year Ago on Feeding Groom

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Garlic Confit

Ok it’s true. I’m a nut for garlic confit.
I use it constantly.

I can’t help it.

It’s my most favorite discovery in years…well, other than Groom, but that’s a different story. Yes, I did blog about it last year, but the requests from readers and friends led me to make it the subject of its own post. It is most definitely post-worthy.

It’s quick, easy to make and the benefits are huge.

You get wonderful garlic oil that can go in salad dressings, or drizzled over home fries, brushed on grilled lamb chops…or even swirled through a bit of cream cheese (it was late and we were hungry!).

Not to mention soft sweet garlic cloves that mush beautifully in tomato sauce, or thrown artfully on a pizza, or stuffed in tomatoes topped with grated Manchego cheese and bread crumbs for a quick broiling to accompany roast chicken. I’ve swirled it into macaroni and cheese that is made by someone other than myself and has been known to be a lifesaver.

I could go on forever, but you need to get out and get a bag o’ garlic and start your own love affair with confit.

You’ll thank me for this over and over.

Garlic Confit
Inspired by A Chicken in Each Granny Cart (thank you again, Ann)

You’ll need 20 heads of garlic, separated into cloves, paper husks rubbed off with your fingers, last husk left on.
Put into 2 quart saucepan. Cover with extra virgin olive oil.
Set over medium low heat and bring to a good simmer. Remove from heat, cover and let sit for at least 30 minutes. Oil will be cooled and you can test a clove to be sure it’s soft. If not, you can put back on the stove, bring up to the simmer and repeat the process. Drain the garlic, reserving the oil. Take the cloves and squeeze them into a quart jar. When you’re through with this, pour the reserved garlic oil over the cloves in the jar, put the top on it and store in the refrigerator.

I usually call for “a good spoonful of garlic confit” in the recipes on Feeding Groom. At our house, it’s a soup spoon. You’ll get to where you know how much to use. You’ll be making this as much as I do before you know it!

One Year ago on Feeding Groom

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cannelini and Broccoli Rabe Soup

Broccoli rabe and I have become very close.

It’s my new favorite bitter green.

Raw it’s got a whang to it that I thought only belonged in old tennis shoes.
Cooked in boiling water and cooled in ice water, it mellows into a spicy vegetable that adds its own special touch to soup and pasta. As a sautéed side dish flavored with crushed red peppers and garlic, it pairs well with grilled meats and poultry.

Here, it’s the star in a mellow white bean soup perfect for a cold winter’s night in front of the fire.

Cannelini and Broccoli Rabe Soup
Adapted from a recipe for Kale and White Bean Stew Bon Appetit Magazine February 2009

1 large bunch broccoli rabe, washed, stems trimmed and chopped
A couple of good swirls extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped shallots
1 cup chopped fennel
1 cup chopped carrots
1 large spoonful garlic confit, smashed
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large cans cannelini beans, rinsed
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1-½ tsp dried thyme
Splash of sherry vinegar
¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

Bring large pot of water to boil, salt it generously and add broccoli rabe. Cook for five minutes. Remove from boiling water to bowl with ice water to stop the cooking. Drain the rabe and squeeze the water from the cooked vegetable. Set aside.

Heat large Dutch oven over medium high heat and add a couple of swirls extra virgin olive oil. When oil gets wavy, add the shallots, fennel, carrots and garlic confit and cook for about 1 minutes, stirring often, til golden. Season well with the coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the white wine and bring to slow boil and cook for five minutes. Add the cannelini, thyme, bay leaves and chicken stock and cook for about 35 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, blend soup for a few minutes with the blender to mash up the beans to desired thickness. Add the broccoli rabe and cook for five minutes. Add the splash of sherry vinegar and the parsley right before serving. Season to taste with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Serves 4 generously.

One Year Ago on Feeding Groom

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Short Ribs Braciole

Fine and you?

It’s been a nice holiday break around the Red Brick Ranchero. Wild “goings-on”, as they say.

Standing rib roast, flourless dark chocolate truffle cake and one of the better Christmas Eves ending with my great great great somebody’s eggnog that makes your eyes water to grilled lobster tails and old and new friends gathering on New Year’s Eve. Never a dull moment!

This past weekend, Groom requested short ribs. And being the loving person that I am, I said,
“well, if we must.”

I know, I know. But I love short ribs.

This recipe is from Andrew Carmellini’s new cookbook, Urban Italian. And it’s a good one.

I’d seen Braciole in several cookbooks, usually a flattened piece of beef rolled with cheese, prosciutto and hard boiled eggs, browned and braised in a simple tomato sauce.

This recipe takes the simplicity of the tomato sauce, the salty flavor of pancetta and spicy crushed red pepper to make a memorable meal from short ribs.

No eggs., no rolling up anything. Just easy.

Fine with me!

Short Ribs Braciole
Liberally Adapted from Urban Italian by Andrew Carmellini and Gwen Hyman

¼ pound pancetta, diced
2-3 lbs boneless beef short ribs, trimmed of fat as much as you care to do
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 medium sweet yellow onion, chopped
1 large spoonful garlic confit, smashed
Crushed red pepper flakes
4 cups whole canned San Marzano tomatoes
½ cup red wine

¼ cup pine nuts, chopped
A couple of swirls of extra virgin olive oil
½ bagel, not toasted and whirled in food processor til bread crumb texture
1 tbsp Turkish oregano
¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley
2-3 tbsp grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Over medium high heat, cook pancetta in large Dutch oven til the fat renders, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking. Season short ribs with salt and pepper to taste and add to pan. Brown on all sides and remove from pan. Add onion and cook til softens, about five minutes. Add garlic confit and a couple of good shakes of crushed red pepper flakes.

Add the ribs back to the pan and squeeze the tomatoes into the pan along with their juice. Bring to a low boil, cover and put in the oven to cook for 2-1/2 hours or until you can stick a fork in the ribs and they fall apart. Take out of the oven and add the red wine to bring the sauce together. Let sit over very low heat.

Toast the pine nuts over low heat about five minutes and then add a bit of extra virgin olive oil and then add the bagel crumbs. Add oregano and fresh parsley, stir well, remove from heat and grate in the cheese.
Plate the short ribs, (we served it with a couple of new potatoes), top with pine nut mixture and serve.

Serves 3-4 generously.
(I did this in the slow cooker, setting it on high for 3 hours. Worked beautifully!)

One Year Ago on Feeding Groom