Friday, February 26, 2010

Mustard-Roasted Fish

SSSal and the CrabCakes love to ski. All three learned how at a very young age and all three have been racers. For them, Olympic scenes of skiers flying down mountains at 70 - 80 miles per hour is a tourist board advertisement. To me it's video evidence of dementia.

I don't ski.

I tried to learn as an adult, but at a certain age you don't see sylvan glades of untouched powder, you only have visions of orthopedic wreckage. Making matters worse, as crabs go, I'm closer to the king-size variety. My center of gravity has a lot further to fall and that means gravity has a lot more time to build momentum. When I think of skiing I see the railroad yard scene in "Gone With The Wind", plaintive moans of crushed, broken bodies, surrounded by the shattered detritus of a futile battle.

All that and $75 a day for a "cheap" lift ticket. I think I'll pass.

I'm pretty plain when it comes to my sports participation. I'll watch you trying to break your neck and I'll marvel at your success, but I'll do it from the lodge, watching a TV. Curling, that's the ticket.

Well, sometimes I like my food mild as well. Today's recipe is for Mustard-Roasted Fish. This is a recipe from Ina Garten and is so ridiculously simple I will foster no complaints about how hard cooking is. The sauce is very delicate, though you can punch it up by adding extra mustard; so turn on the Olympics, watch the youngsters crash and enjoy...

Mustard-Roasted Fish
by Ina Garten

(4) 8 ounce fish fillets, such as red snapper or tilapia
Salt & Pepper
8 ounces Creme Fraiche
3 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
1 Tablespoon Whole Grain Mustard
2 Tablespoons minced shallot
2 teaspoons drained capers

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place the fish fillets in a single layer in an ovenproof baking dish. Sprinkle with a healthy amount of kosher salt and pepper.

In a medium bowl, combine the creme fraiche, dijon and whole grain mustards, shallots, capers 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Mix Well.

Spoon the sauce over the fish fillets, making sure to completely cover each piece of fish with sauce.

Bake for 10 - 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets. A good rule of thumb is 10 minutes per inch of thickness.

Serve hot with the sauce spooned over the fillets.

Very, VERY easy recipe. It will take longer for your oven to preheat than it will to do the prep work on this meal. I also suspect that you could make this recipe with a pounded thin boneless skinless chicken breast.

I'm outta here crablings; remember you can do it, you can cook.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Rose Red Velvet Cake

So I've been watching the Olympics.

A lot of the Winter Games are based on actual activities in the day to day lives of cold weather dwelling humans...

"Hey Sven?"

"Ja, What is it Bjorn?"

"See that dead elk down dere? I just killed it with my spear."

"Ayup, good shot."

"Ah, tanks. Wanna race down to it?"

"Sure, last one there is a rotten herring."

Thus was born downhill skiing.

Or how about modern biathlon? Cross-country skiing and shooting? In Minnesota we called that going out for groceries.

The one I don't get is curling. Sliding rocks on the ice. Back and forth. Back and forth. I couldn't for the life of me figure out how this was a pivotal survival activity. Then it stuck me...

Curling isn't a survival activity, it's deck games on the great ship Iceberg. Folks, curling is Eskimo shuffleboard. Inuit!!! When good old Grampa He-Who-Has-Constant-Polar-Bear-Breath needs to take some time off, he hopes onto the local canoe cruise lines and plays a little curling; maybe even hooks up with a She-Who-Wears-Seal-Skins-In-A-Provocative-Manner. It's all so obvious now; L'amour, survival of the species.

Which very quickly brings me to today's recipe, Red Velvet Cake. SSSal whipped up this dessert for Valentines Day, as you can see the colors are pretty intense, tasted pretty good too. In order to keep CC2 happy she had to compromise on the frosting, in the future I would suggest only frosting the sides; either way it still beats the heck out of sliding frozen rocks. Enjoy...

Rose Red Velvet Cake
from Rose's Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum

3 large egg whites
2 TBSP red food coloring
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour
1 cup superfine sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola or safflower oil at room temperature
4 TBSP unsalted butter
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk

Special Equipment: (2) 9x 2 inch heart-shaped cake pans (or a 9" round)

Set up a baking rack in the lower third of your oven and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Cut a piece of parchment paper to the shapes of the cake pans and spray with flour infused baking spray. Set aside.

Coat the bottom of the cake pans with shortening, then place the parchment cutouts atop the shortening, floured side up.

Mix together the wet ingredients in a medium sized bowl combining. Whisk together the egg whites, red food color and vanilla. CAUTION: Mix carefully, the red food coloring stains tremendously well.

In another bowl combine the dry ingredients. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cocoa and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a flat beater, mix the oil and butter on medium speed for 1 minute. It will not be completely smooth.

Turn the speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture and the buttermilk. Mix until the dry ingredients are moistened then increase speed to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape own the sides.

Starting at medium-low speed, gradually add the egg mixture to the batter in two parts, beating on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition. Turn off the mixer and scrape the batter into the prepared pans, smoothing the top.

Bake for 25 - 35 minutes or until a knife blade inserted in to the center of the cake comes out clean.

Run a small metal spatula along the edge of the cake pans, then invert and place the cakes onto a wire rack for cooling.

SSSal Frosting

½ stick unsalted butter (4 TBSP) – room temp

4 oz. mascarpone cheese

2 Cups powdered sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon almond extract

Blend together the butter and cheese with the electric mixer. Gradually mix in the sugar. Add flavorings and mix to combine. Frost cake.

Now you see why I don't bake. Way too many steps, way too much precision. Well crablings I'm off to find a local bonspiel, until next time, remember you can do it, you can cook.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Ginger Udon Noodles with Mushrooms, Snow Peas & Beef

Well "The Big Game" is over. Saints fans are happy, Colts fans not so much. Of course most us us are just wondering how long it's going to take to work off consuming a quart of guacamole, 6 beers and 2 half-pound pulled pork sandwiches. "The Big Game"? More like "The Big Gain".

Now enter the vast wasteland that is winter sports on TV. Yeah, yeah, I know the Olympics are coming up, but I just don't get that excited about people going sledding. And please don't talk to me about the Opening Ceremonies.

"Wow Matt, look at that flag!"

"Oooh, you're right Anne, and check out the hats on the Tagalog Curling Team! What a particularly festive use of straw."

Face it, the Opening Ceremonies are about watching people in weird clothes walking.

For 3 1/2 hours.

Where I come from we call that golf.

How can anyone possibly suffer from insomnia?

Ah well, I know I'm outnumbered on this so I'll just float along. Best thing to do is make some soup, hop onto the couch and hope I finish it before falling asleep watching the Parade of Nations. Ginger Udon with Mushrooms, Snow Peas & Beef is my jazzed up version of a "healthy" recipe that SSSal found. Quick, easy and filling. So crank up the TV and enjoy...

Ginger Udon with Mushrooms, Snow Peas & Beef
from with adjustments and additions by Crabby

6 cups chicken broth
8 ounces uncooked buckwheat (udon) Japanese noodles
2 TBSP cooking oil, separated
1 TBSP dark sesame oil
2 TBSP soy sauce
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
2 cups (approx. 4 ounces) fresh snow peas
8 ounces portobello mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed and thinly sliced
4 scallions, thinly sliced
Pepper to taste

1 strip steak (approx 12 ounces) trimmed of fat and sliced thinly across the grain

Have all the vegetables and beef cleaned and prepped.

In a large soup pot, bring the broth to a boil. Add the udon noodles and cook per package instructions.

While the udon are cooking, heat a saute pan or wok over high heat. When hot add 1 tablespoon of the cooking oil and the sesame oil. Add the mushrooms, snow peas, ginger and soy sauce, reduce the heat to medium-high and cook until the snow peas become crisp tender, about 3 minutes.

Add the vegetables to the pot containing the udon.

Reheat the wok and add the remaining tablespoon of cooking oil. When hot add the sliced steak and saute for 90 seconds, tossing occasionally.

Add the beef to the soup pot.

Ladle the beef and noodles into bowls making sure to add some broth. Garnish with the sliced scallions. Serve.

There you go, a souper bowl, great for a cold winter's night or an interminable parade. Until next time crablings, remember you can do it, you can cook.

Monday, February 1, 2010

White Bean Soup

Now that wasn't so hard was it?

I post. You say something. Everybody's happy. It's a snap!

There was a range of comments, from the satisfyingly obsequious "we're so sorry for not commenting" types, to those with some helpful suggestions. Let me take some time to respond.

Mags, you're right, I do need to make a better effort to post on other sites and any story about farting nuns is sure to increase your traffic.

To YesicanCook, I'm glad you enjoy the writing. While I was quite pleased with myself over the usage of hirsute and messianic, I have to admit I thought the linguistic-obtuse high point came with suzerain.

Of course not all the comments were sweetness and light. Anonymous (you know who you are) took a bit of a professorial tone with yours truly. Anony suggested that part of the issue was that I don't post often enough and that perhaps my claw-like persona gives commenters pause. Well crablings, you have nothing to fear from me. I am both patient and beneficent when it comes to my flock. I admit that immediately after reading Anony's comments my thoughts turned to the best way of remorselessly eviscerating him/her, but then SSSal pointed out that such an approach might be counter-productive to my goal of increased commentary.


But let me address one of Anony's points. Posting more often presents problems. Five paragraphs five days a week with five recipes projects out to very bloated writing and a very, very bloated Crabby. I could just post something short but Hi-Can't Haiku. So, for now, two posts a week it will remain.

Alright, enough of that. It's cold out and there's a limited prospect for warmth anytime soon. This recipe is from a Williams-Sonoma Catalog page. I always wondered what a recipe from a catalog would taste like. As it turns out, pretty good. Easy and warming, enjoy...

White Bean Soup
from some random Williams-Sonoma catalog

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped pancetta
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 cans (15 ounces each) cannelini beans, drained & rinsed
5 cups chicken broth
3/4 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Salt & Pepper to taste

12 baguette slices
1 cup jarred roasted red peppers
2 TBSP finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1 teaspoon sherru vinegar
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon honey

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat in a large heavy duty pot or Dutch Oven. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until crispy, about 5 minutes.

Add the onion, carrot and celery. stirring occasionally, cook until softened, about 8 - 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute.

Add the cannelini beans, broth and thyme. Bring to a rolling simmer.

Cover, reduce heat to low and cook until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until it reaches your desired level of smoothness. Stir in the cheese, adjust the seasoning. Keep warm.

Heat a cast iron grill pan or broiler to medium-high heat. Brush both sides of the baguette slices with olive oil. Season with salt. Toast the bread turning once; about 2 minutes per side.

Roughly chop the jarred red peppers. Transfer to a large bowl and mix in 1/2 teaspoon salt, the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, vinegar, parsley, red pepper flakes and honey. Top each baguette slice with red pepper tapenade.

Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with 1 or 2 baguette slices.

Tada. Warm again. Really a very easy recipe, perfect for those nights when you know you need to eat but don't want the hassle of a full-blown meat-and-two-veg extravaganza. Don't skip the baguettes though, they really make the meal and are easy using jarred peppers.

OK crablings, keep the comments coming. Until next time, remember you can do it, you can cook.