Monday, May 26, 2008

Phenomenal Cooking

Phenomenal Cooking

That sounds pretty exciting doesn’t it? As you know I love to cook, and it happens that most of my family members are exceptional cooks as well. So imagine what happens when you put 4 of us together for a week on vacation… phenomenal cooking! It all started when my mother planned a special week of golf in Florida at her house inviting myself and my 2 wonderful sisters (sisters in law) as well. The only agenda was golf, sun, pool and each of us would take a night to cook and where needed, we would pitch in to do, “team cooking”. Sounds good doesn’t it?

Let me paint the picture for you: sunny, balmy Southern Florida near Naples at the Gulf Coast. Leisurely days, beautiful home and gourmet kitchen. Golf lessons by day, with one alligator sighting. That was about as relaxing as you could ask for and then swimming, movies and cooking with family in the late afternoon & evening.

Here’s how the menus panned out, each meal was outrageously good and unmatched by any restaurant. Dessert? M & M’s! Even gourmets love a good treat…

Pam’s Menus:
Crispy Roasted Duck caramelized with Cherry Basil Sauce
Avocado and grapefruit salad with homemade Red French dressing
Oven roasted Asparagus

Mom made this meal and it was absolutely delicious, over the top….

Roast Duck
Roast your duck at 250 degrees for 3 hours. Take out of oven and tent with foil until ready to finish. Do not refrigerate. When ready to finish, put back in oven at 450 degrees to crisp for 20 minutes… then spread your cherry basil sauce over the bird and roast at 425 for 10 minutes to caramelize. It will be succulent and juicy on the inside, crispy on the outside.

Avocado and grapefruit salad drizzled with homemade Red French dressing (a family recipe over 100 years old.) This is a composed salad of grapefruit and avocado sections on Boston lettuce.

Oven roasted Asparagus- Roast at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Salt & Pepper to taste and butter.

Red French Dressing Recipe- Courtesy of Pam Ytterberg. This recipe was handed down from Pam’s side of the family from her mother, Elsie Tillinghast Brown.

½ Cup Vegetable Oil
¼ Cup Cider Vinegar
1/3 Cup Catsup

2 Tbsp Sugar 1 tsp Prepared Mustard
2 Tbsp Grated Onion 1 tsp Salt
Juice of ½ Lemon 1 tsp Paprika

Mix Ingredients until emulsified and serve.

Beef Tenderloin
Zucchini “Canoes” stuffed with mixed vegetables
Homemade Ciabatta Bread

Beef Tenderloin- Season with Alderwood Smoked Salt or salt of your choice. Grill to preferred rareness.

Zucchini Canoes- Hollow out zucchini horizontally and blanche. Then stuff with chopped tomatoes, garlic, zucchini & basil. Top with bread crumbs and bake at 350 degrees until heated through.

Marci’s Menu:
Pork Tenderloin sandwich on Homemade Ciabatta Bread
Mixed Greens Salad with Beefsteak Tomatoes

I can’t even begin to tell you how delicious this is…this is Marci’s own recipe and you will love it!

The Pork is marinated in an amazing orange, ginger marinade:
2 individual pork tenderloins
½ tsp Salt
½ Tbsp cracked black peppercorns
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger root
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 or more to taste Tbsp brown sugar
1 Cup orange juice
1 Tbsp orange zest

Mix ingredients well and cover or place in plastic bag with the tenderloin to marinate overnight if possible or at least for 1 hour.

When ready to cook, reserve marinade. Roast or grill until cooked through. Slice in thin slices. Cook marinade on stove top until reduced by at least half. Serve over sliced tenderloin.

Next take 1/2 cup mayo & 1/2 cup yogurt and curry and mix together. Spread the curry/mayo spread liberally on ciabatta and then spread a layer of mango chutney on top of that on one of pieces of bread. Next, add slices of pork tenderloin

This was served with a salad of mixed greens and sliced, ripe, beefsteak tomatoes tossed with vinaigrette.

Kim’s Menu:
Barbequed Chicken with bourbon barbeque sauce
Roasted Corn on the Cob
Tomato Salad

This all-American meal so hit the spot! It was hot and humid out and this summer menu satisfied. It was delicious; the chicken was perfectly grilled, cooked expertly by Kim. It was moist on the inside with no dryness and a crispy delicious skin.

The Barbeque sauce is non-smokey barbeque sauce mixed with bourbon and the result is phenomenal! You could add 1 or 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar to thicken if desired.

The corn cobs were put in the oven, husks left on and roasted at 375degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Once you take the corn out the oven, corn silk slides right off and the husks do as well.

The Tomato Salad was created by cutting up chunks of beefsteak tomatoes and mixing with ground salt and pepper to taste.

We could not get enough of this meal, it was wonderful…

Susan’s Menu:
Chinese Homemade Potstickers
Chinese ribs with honey glaze
Thai Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce
Pad Thai

This was an amibitious menu for one meal but made for a lot of fun and delicious left overs! Assembling the potstickers was a group effort and a simple and fun thing to do that involves the whole party as you prepare this meal. We had a lot of fun doing this! The ribs are succulent and quite easy to make and the Satay is delicious.

1 Package round pot sticker skins
4 Cups Chicken Broth

1 lb ground pork
2 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
4 tsp soy sauce
4 tsp sherry
4 tsp sesame oil

Marinate the ground pork in the ginger, soy sauce, sherry and sesame oil for 4 hours or overnight is best.

4 Tbsp cilantro
2 cups chopped napa cabbage
4 Tbsp finely chopped green onions

Mix the cilantro, cabbage & green onions into the pork mixture. Mix well

Drop 1 Tbsp of filling into the center of the potsticker skin. Dip index finger into water and circle perimeter of potsticker wrapper. Fold wrapper over the filling to make a half circle and press closed. Sit upright with filling side on plate. To cook, heat a few Tbsp of oil in a pan, put pot stickers in hot pan and fry til bottom is golden brown. Then pour 1 cup chicken broth into pan, cover over medium heat to cook until most of liquid is gone. Remove lid and cook another minute to absorb last of liquid then remove cooked pot stickers from pan. Repeat until all potstickers are cooked.

Chinese Ribs with Honey Glaze
The basis of this recipe came from the China Moon Cookbook by Barbara Tropp, “Maltose-Glazed Baked Spareribs” but I have made numerous revisions to create an easy to use recipe. Credit for the idea goes to Barbara Tropp who I admire as a subject matter expert in Chinese cooking.

1 Rack Baby Back Ribs cut in half and put in large zip lock bag
Marinade for Ribs:
¼ cup sherry or rice wine
2 tsp peppercorns
¼ Cup chopped ginger
3/4 cup chicken stock
Pour marinade ingredients in zip lock bag and refrigerate overnight for best results

Honey Glaze: ( You may want to double this recipe because it is so good. The quantity below makes just enough for one recipe)
¼ cup Hoisin Sauce
¼ cup Sherry
2-3 Tbsp Brown Sugar
2 tsp Chinese Chile Sauce
¼ cup Honey
1/3 cup finely chopped green onions
1 Tbsp finely chopped or grated garlic
1 Tbsp finely chopped or grated fresh garlic

Put all the ingredients for the glaze in a pot on stove, mix and simmer for approx 3 minutes. Remove from stove and reserve for glazing ribs. As it cools it will thicken.

Preheat over to 425 degrees. Remove ribs from marinade and discard ziplock bag with marinade. Rub Ribs (top and bottom of rack) with a mixture of 3 Tsps brown sugar, 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper, 1 Tbsp garlic.

Place ribs meat side up on cookie sheet and cook at 425 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven and coat top and sides of ribs with Honey Glaze, letting it pool a little on top of ribs. Save extra glaze to pour over ribs at dinner. Put ribs back in oven at 425 degrees and cook 10 to 15 minutes until glaze has carmelized. ( You can expect that the glaze that drips off ribs onto pan will burn and smoke when you are cooking but the glaze on the ribs won’t burn so that’s fine.) Remove from oven and let rest for 10 to 15 minute and then cut into individual ribs. Serve on platter, drizzle extra glaze over ribs. Garnish with green onions.

Chicken or Pork Satay
Bamboo Skewers- soak in water so they don’t burn on grill
1 ½ lbs pork or chicken – slice into 3 or 4 inch strips

½ to ¾ Can Coconut Milk
1 Stalk Fresh Lemon Grass sliced or crushed
3 cloves garlic thinly sliced or grated
½ tsp seeded and finely chopped chile peppers
1 or 2 Tbsp Fish Sauce depending on individual taste
½ tsp sugar
1 Tbsp Curry Powder

Put chicken or pork strips into marinade overnight ideally or at least 2 hours.

Thread meat onto skewers and grill, turning occasionally until cooked. Placed cooked skewers on platter and serve with peanut dipping sauce.

Peanut Sauce:
½ cup canola oil
¼ tsp curry powder
1 can coconut milk
3 ½ Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 cup chunky peanut butter or less, (gauge consistency of sauce, start with ½ cup and you can always add more if you want thicker.)
3 kaffir lime leaves or 1 Tbsp lime juice
1-3 Tbsp fish sauce to taste
1 Tbsp red curry paste (this is hot so use caution, start with ½ Tbsp and taste before adding entire tablespoon)
2 tsp Tamarind powder or paste ( if you don’t have this, or can’t find ingredient just skip it or add 1 tsp lime juice.)

On medium heat on stove, heat oil. Add curry, coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar and curry powder. Stir frequently, add peanut butter, tamarind, until sauce thickens. Add Kaffir lime leaves and remove from heat. Remove leaves when ready to serve.