Sunday, March 29, 2009

Pugliesi Pasta with Lamb

Pugliesi Pasta with Lamb

- 5-6lb leg of lamb (bone in, but boneless is acceptable)
- 2 large white onions, sliced into thin rings
- 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 stick butter
- 1-2 T olive oil
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 2-3 carrots, peeled and sliced into 4 inch long pieces
- 3-4 celery ribs, sliced and quartered into 4 inch long pieces
- 1 ½ cups beef stock
- 1 cup water
- 1lb spaghetti or linguine pasta

Preheat an oven to 300F. Cut the stick of butter in half and place one half into a skillet over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and allow the butter to melt. Once the butter has melted, place the onions into the skillet and sauté for 7-8 minutes, or until the onions are translucent.

While the onions are cooking, cut slits into the meat and push the cloves into the slits.Place the lamb into a Dutch oven/covered roaster and add salt and pepper to taste. Pour the beef stock and water over the lamb.

Once the onions are translucent, remove them from the skillet and spoon the onions over the lamb. Place the lamb into the oven, and add the remaining butter to the pot. Cook for 4-5 hours, basting the lamb occasionally.

When there is about an hour left for the lamb to cook, place the celery and carrots into the Dutch oven.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and cook the pasta until it is al dente. Strain the pasta.

Place the pasta into bowls and spoon the lamb, carrots and celery over the pasta.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

My cooking life will never be the same

My sister Patty, who is a great cook, sent me a link to a cooking website where the issue of over cooked pan seared steaks was discussed. The issue is this: when you pan cook a filet mignon or a strip steak, you tend to overcook the first 1/8 of an inch or so of the meat. While the center of the filet/steak might be a wonderful medium-rare, the outside of the meat has a grey, medium-well feel to it. This website solved the problem this way:

Pre-heat your oven to 275F. Take the filet/steak out of its wrapper, and pat dry with a paper towel and then liberally apply salt and pepper to the meat. Place the meat onto a roasting pan, and put the pan into the oven. Cook the meat for 20-25 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the meat is 90-95F.

Once the meat is between 90-95F, remove the pan from the oven and cook the meat as follows:

4 T chilled butter
4 filet mignon steaks
1/3 cup chopped shallots
2/3 cup Cabernet Sauvignon
1 T drained capers
1 T dijon mustard
1/3 cup chopped parsley (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt 1 T butter in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat.
Add the steaks to the skillet and cook to desired
doneness. When done, transfer the steaks to a warm
platter and tent with foil.

Melt 1 T butter in the same skillet over medium-high heat.
Add the shallots and saute for one minute. Add the wine,
capers and mustard. Simmer until slightly thickened,
about 2 minutes. Stir in the parsley, and reduce heat
to medium low. Whisk in the remaining 2 T butter, and
season the sauce with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce
over the steaks and serve.

I cooked the filets for about 2 minutes a side. I used an instant read thermometer to check the temperature of the meat. I cooked the filets until the internal temperature of the meat reached about 130F. I am happy to report that the filets were a perfect medium rare throughout. There was no grey crust on the meat. Yep, my cooking life will never be the same!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The simple joy of grilling

Animal protein cooked over a fire. Nothing could could be much simpler or more primordial than that. Tonight, I cooked a couple of New York strip steaks over charcoals. I have a propane grill, as well as a "real fire" grill, but my propane level was a little low. However, I have plenty of charcoal. What I was lacking was charcoal fluid. I started to think that it was pretty silly to use charcoal fluid when there are better alternatives to start the charcoal. Thus, I went to my nearby Lowe's and bought a charcoal starter. Instead of using petroleum distillates to start my charcoal, I will now use newspaper.

1830 (6:30PM for you civilians out there) I stuffed some newspaper into the bottom of the charcoal starter and filled the starter with charcoal. I lit the news print and after about 15 minutes, all of the charcoal was covered in a downy ash and was ready to go. I dumped the charcoal into my trusty Weber grill and waited a few more minutes to allow it to heat up. After about 5 minutes, all of the charcoal was ready and I placed upon the grill two strip steaks (which had been seasoned with a little salt and pepper). I cooked the steaks for 12 minutes (6 minutes a side), removed them from the grill, placed them on a wooden cutting board and then covered them with aluminum foil to allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes. A few crumbles of blue cheese where sprinkled over the steaks, and while they were resting I put a few spears of asparagus on the aforementioned grill. After 4 minutes on the grill, I removed the asparagus spears from the heat and served them with the steaks. While the steaks were cooking, I also prepared some cus cous.

I am happy to report that dinner was an unqualified success. The steaks were medium-rate, the asparagus were still crunchy but properly cooked, and well, it is pretty hard to screw up cous cous. Life agrees with me...

Chicken and Broccoli Pasta

Samson's BFF Ann Marie is away enjoying a well deserved Spring break. We miss her company on Sundays and we miss her cooking too. Last night, Paul made her recipe of chicken and broccoli pasta. It was fantastic. Since I am not much of a sous chef, I thought the least I could do would be to take some great pictures.

We had a light salad to boot. It was a delightful meal. And complimented perfectly with a french white wine Vourvray Appellation from our friends at Art of the Table.

If you need the recipe and aren't a member of the Cafe Group, click on the link above for a summary or drop us a note and we will be happy to share!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Seafood Pasta

Following last night's dinner, we had some leftover crab and lobster meat. Our friend Ann Marie had a perfect recipe for use to use for the remaining seafood and it is shared below.

Seafood Pasta

- 2 cups lobster or crab meat
- 1lb angel hair pasta
- 3/4 stick butter
- A pinch ofcrushed red pepper flakes
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 1/2 cup chicken broth or stock
- 2-3 cloves garlic, popped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons fresh flat leaf (Italian) parsley
- shredded Asiago or Parmesan cheese

1. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil for the pasta.
2. Over medium-high heat, melt the butter in a heavy skillet. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Add salt and pepper to taste.
3. Add the lobster/crab to the skillet and pour in the white wine. Reduce the sauce for 5-7 minutes.
4. After the sauce has reduced, reduce the heat, add the chicken stock and simmer for 5 minutes.
5. While the sauce is simmering, salt the boiling water and put the angel hair pasta into the pot. Cook the pasta for 4 minutes (al dente) or to taste. When the pasta is done, strain it and return the pasta to the pot. Fold the seafood sauce into the pasta and mix well.
6. Serve the seafood pasta into bowls and cover with cheese.

Cook's Notes: Serve with a Chardonnay. This was an incredibly easy dish to make.

Davey Jones Dinner After Action Report

I cooked something last night I had never prepared before: Alaskan king crab legs. They were extremely easy to prepare and were delicious! Cooking both of these shellfish really could not be easier. I brought tow pots of salted water to a rolling boil, then I put the crab legs and lobster tail into each pot and cooked them until they were done. The crab legs were put into a pot with about 3 inches of boiling water and a strainer, while the lobster tails were placed into a full pot of boiling water. I cooked the crab legs for 7 minutes and they were simply perfect. I cooked the lobster tails for 18 minutes and removed the tails from the pot. However, the lobster tails needed a few more minutes in the pot. I ended up cooking the tails for a total of 23 minutes. The tails were frozen when I placed them into the pot, which added to the required cooking time.

sides were simple: Pine Nut Cous Cous and tossed greens with a lemon/honey dressing. I will work on getting the recipe for the dressing loaded into the Cafe's list later today. We sipped on a bottle of 2005 Forman Napa Valley Chardonnay, which was recommended by our friends at Art of the Table. The wine was a perfect compliment to the seafood. Clearly, Samson was interested in what I was making as he stayed in the middle of the kitchen throughout the cooking process. He spent most of the meal next to the Maven, hoping that gravity would work its magic for him. He did get a few snitches of crab meat. Once again, Samson liked what we served to him.