Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Three Recipes: Grape, Pistachio and Goat Cheese “Truffles,” Beet “Tartare,” and Camembert Grilled Cheese with Apple

In November of 2013, I went to a cheese fest where there were a number of speakers. Best, for me, was Hosea Rosenberg, who prepared three quick recipes while he took questions from the audience.

A lot of what he talked about was about his experiences on Top Chef, but he also talked about life before and after the show.

And of course he talked about food.

Back when Rosenberg was on the show, he was chef at Jax Fish House. Now, he's got his own catering company in Boulder, Blackbelly Catering. And he seems like he's having a heck of a lot of fun.

Chef Hosea Rosenberg kindly offered to let me post his recipes here, which is pretty awesome.

The grape truffles were really interesting - it's simple in terms of ingredients, but the flavors mingled in ways you might not expect. He said the key is to get a super-thin layer of the goat cheese because the flavor of goat cheese is so strong, it could easily overpower everything else.

I wish I had a photo of the finished products, but the venue wasn't really conducive for taking any photos. The interesting thing was how the goat cheese was a tiny layer. Like, the thickness of ... uh... really thin. As thin as you can get it. Nearly impossibly thin.

Grape, Pistachio  Goat Cheese “Truffles” 
Recipe courtesy of Hosea Rosenberg from Blackbelly Catering
Used with permission; all rights reserved.
serves 4-8

40 fresh, juicy green & red grapes
8 ounces plain goat cheese
8 ounces shelled pistachios, toasted
grey sea salt
truffle oil

1.  Pick grapes, wash gently in cold water and dry on paper towels.
2.  Roll a very small ball of goat cheese in your hands (roughly half the size of a grape) and flatten in the palm of one hand with your thumb.
3.  Place one grape in center of goat cheese and gently work cheese around until grape is entirely covered.  Chill.
4.  Crush toasted pistachios in food processor until very fine.  Place in bowl.
5.  Roll goat cheese grapes in pistachios, gently pressing, until covered in nuts.  Chill.
6.  To serve, slice grapes in half and set on platter with cut side facing up.  Garnish each cut grape with a couple grains of salt and one drop of truffle salt.  Serve immediately.

Beets me

Next up, we have a beet "tartare." But before you start questioning the idea of raw beets, that's not what's going on here. Hosea called it a tartare because it looks like one. The beets are fully cooked.

Beet “Tartare”
Recipe courtesy of Hosea Rosenberg from Blackbelly Catering
Used with permission; all rights reserved.
serves 10

2 pounds large red beets
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp  fresh parsley, chopped
2 tsp  shallots, chopped fine
2 Tbsp capers, chopped
hot sauce, to taste (optional)
kosher salt
fresh cracked black pepper

Boil beets in water until cooked through, but still al dente.  Remove from water and chill in ice water until cold.  Peel and dice very small.  Combine with remaining ingredients and season with salt, pepper, and hot sauce if desired.

Serve on crackers with shaved hard cheese (queso de mano from Haystack is our recommended choice).

Grilled and Cheesy

The last recipe is a grilled cheese. Yeah, I know. We all know how to make a grilled cheese sandwich. Even our moms knew how to make them. But this one's got a twist, with apples two ways in the sandwich.

And some spices you might not think of.

As far as the cheese, since Hosea is a local, he chose a local cheese. You can find more info on Haystack Mountain's cheeses here.

Haystack Camembert Grilled Cheese with Apple
Recipe courtesy of Hosea Rosenberg from Blackbelly Catering
Used with permission; all rights reserved.
serves one!

bread of choice
Haystack Mountain camembert cheese, sliced
honeycrips apple, sliced
butter
apple jam (recipe below)

Spread butter on one side of two slices of bread and place in hot pan.  Spread jam on one side, top with cheese and apple.  Place other slice of bread on top and press with spatula.  Flip occasionally until both slices are golden brown and cheese is melted.

apple jam:
2 Honeycrisp apples diced very small
2 Tbps sugar
1 tsp dry mustard seeds
2 C apple cider vinegar
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise pod

Combine all ingredients in pot and bring to boil.  Turn heat to low and simmer until thick and jammy. Remove star anise and cinnamon stick. Cool and keep in refrigerator until ready to use.
Yum

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Spicy Pork and Mac Stew - Is it chili, or is it hot dish?

My mother was the queen of transforming leftovers into something that didn't look like leftovers. Sure, sometimes we had reheated reruns. But other times, it was alchemy.

Some might say it was her depression-era need to use every scrap of food. But really, I think it was everyday lack of funds that meant that dollars needed to be stretched.

I inherited some of that, I guess. I'm always looking at leftovers with an eye at making them something new and different. That's particularly true when it comes to roasts. As much as I like a perfectly-cooked pork or beef roast, they're usually a lot of food for two people. The price-per-pound is tempting, but the leftovers can be daunting.

A while back, I made a lovely pork roast ... but then what? After we'd eaten it sliced and as sandwiches, I knew it needed transformation. Mom's usual leftover pork dish was her chop suey, bolstered by canned Chinese vegetables and copious amounts of soy sauce. With rice on the side, that chop suey could stretch a humble pork roast for several days.

I actually considered chop suey, but decided to go with a spicier option. Some might call this chili, while others might be horrified at calling it chili. Some might call it hot dish (hello Minnesotans!) What it is, though, is a throwback to mom's chili mac - it's comfort food, pure and simple.

When I was done cutting up the roast, I had two pounds of diced meat in one pile, and some bones, bits, fat, and crusty parts that went into a saucepan with some water to make about a quart of pork stock that I used for soup.

See, nothing wasted!

You can make this as hot (or not) as you like by using mild, medium, or hot versions of the peppers and spices. Make it your way!

Spicy Pork and Mac Stew

2 pounds cooked pork shoulder roast, trimmed of fat and cut into bite-size cubes
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 15.5-ounce can red kidney beans, drained
1 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained
1 14.5-ounce can petite diced tomatoes
1 10-ounce can Hatch diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 4-ounce can diced Hatch chilies
1 can beer* (I suggest something mild, like Corona or similar)
2 tablespoons Penzey's Chili con Carne spice (or chili powder)
2 tablespoons dry masa (maseca)
1 tablespoon adobo seasoning
1 tablespoon** salt (or to taste)
4 ounces dry elbow macaroni, cooked al dente, drained

Put everything except the pasta into a slow cooker (yes, you can also cook this in a Dutch oven on the stove, if you like). Stir to combine and cook on high for 4 hours, or until the vegetables are cooked through.

Taste for seasoning and add more salt, if needed. If it's not spicy enough for you, add more chili powder.

Add the cooked pasta, and let the stew simmer for just a little longer, uncovered, to let the pasta soak up just a little of the sauce.

Serve hot.

You can garnish this with any of the things you like with chili - sour cream, shredded cheese, avocado, or diced avocado are all wonderful.

*If you're not a beer drinker and you have no urge to buy beer just for this recipe, use water. There's enough flavor here that the beer won't be horribly missed.

** If your chili powder and adobo seasoning are heavy on the salt, hold back a little bit on the salt until you taste - you can always add more if you need it.
Yum

Monday, May 25, 2015

Super-Easy Lemon Bars

A while back I reviewed Christina Tosi's book, Milk Bar Life on my book blog. Shortly after that, I wrote about the ranch dip mix in the book.

But that ranch dip is something served at the Milk Bar restaurant, rather than one of Tosi's at-home recipes ... so I felt that the dip might not be the best example of the sorts of recipes in Milk Bar Life.

This recipe for lemon bars might give you a better feel for the book.

I liked these bars, but I think that bars with lemon curd have a slight edge over these, just because lemon curd is so danged good.

On the other hand, I'm thinking of toying with the recipe a bit. I don't normally start my recipes with cake mixes, but sometimes a shortcut is a good thing, and this could be the perfect thing to make if you've got an office potluck and no time for anything more complicated.

For more reading, check out my review of Milk Bar Life and the recipe for Ranch Dip Mix.

Lemon Bars
Adapted from Milk Bar Life by Christina Tosi

For the crust:
1 (15-ounce) box lemon cake mix
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg

For the filling:
1/3 cup crust mix
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Zest and juice from 2 lemons

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9x13 pan with baking spray.

To make the crust:
Mix the cake mix, butter and egg in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until it is well mixed. It will be dense.

Scoop out and reserve 1/3 cup of this mixture and dump the rest of it into the 9x13 pan. Press it firmly and evenly onto the bottom of the pan. You can use your fingers, or the bottom of a measuring cup, or a pastry roller, which is what I used. (I bought this one by Kuhn Rikon and I like it a lot.)

To make the filling:
Return the 1/3 cup of crust mix to the stand mixer bowl and add the cream cheese. Mix with the paddle attachment until it is well combined. Add the powdered sugar, salt, lemon zest and lemon juice. Mix until well combined and smooth.

Transfer the filling to the pan and use a spatula (an offset pastry spatula works well) to make a smooth, even layer.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top has puffed slightly and is golden brown and beginning to crack. (Mine took a bit longer to get any brown at all, and it never cracked. Use your judgement.)

Let the pan cool completely on a rack. You can cut the bars in the pan, or remove the whole thing and cut on a board - your choice.

Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.
Yum
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