Thursday, March 31, 2011

Roast Beef, Garlic Aioli, and Roasted Red Pepper Sandwiches

I never would have expected that one of the best meals I ever made would be a sandwich. Of course, the roast beef could be served as-is or with a sauce, but combined with the aioli (garlic and olive oil mayonnaise) and served on a roll with some roasted red peppers it's outstanding. This is a case when 'slow food' really pays off.

The white bits on top are real provolone, which doesn't slice well, but tastes great.

Roast Beef

3 lb. rump roast, rolled with butcher's twine
~1.5 quarts of warm water
3 Tbsp. wine
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 c. Kosher salt
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 bay leaves
5 allspice berries
10 black peppercorns, lightly crushed
1/4 tsp. celery salt

Dissolve the salt and sugar in the warm water, wine, and Worcestershire sauce to make 2 gallons of brine. Add the spices. Place the rump roast and brine in a one-gallon ziploc and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 325°. Pat the roast dry and then coat it lightly with oil or lard. Place on a rack in a roasting pan. Halfway through cooking add hot water to the pan to prevent scorching. For medium-rare, roast at 325° for 30 minutes per pound (1.5 hours), allowing 20-30 minutes to rest. Internal temperature should be ~122° and rise to 130° as it rests. Remove butcher's twine and slice thinly across the grain.

Aioli
Read Joe's extensive technique article and recipe about aiolis.
This recipe is an emulsion of water and lemon juice in oil, which means it can be finicky. It works best if you begin with all the ingredients at room temperature. Do your best to avoid 'shocking' the ingredients by adding too much of one thing at a time--be sure to drizzle the oil in very slowly, almost drop-by-drop. Also, some versions use only one egg yolk, but I call for two because they facilitate the emulsification process and make the recipe more fool-proof. Two yolks makes for a thicker sauce, but that makes the aioli stand out more on the sandwich--a good thing, because it's delicious!


1/2 c. olive oil
2 egg yolks at room temperature
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp. cool water
3 tsp. dijon mustard
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. sea salt

Begin by tempering the whole garlic cloves. Either blanch them in boiling water for ~20 seconds or toss them in a dry pan over medium heat and roast until they start to brown on the edges. Place them in the food processor, add the salt and blend until finely chopped and combined.

Add the egg yolks and dijon mustard and keep the processor blending as you slowly drizzle in half of the oil, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides down. Add the water, mustard, and lemon juice and continue to blend as you drizzle in the remaining oil (patiently!). Blend in more salt if needed.

Sandwiches

Ciabatta rolls, warmed
Roasted red peppers or chopped red pepper spread (can be found at Lunds)
Roast beef
Aioli
Provolone cheese

Assemble sandwiches and dig in!

(Note for next time: I think this could have used a touch or rosemary, either in the brine or infused in the aioli oil.)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fettuccine Alfredo

Is this the true alfredo sauce? I have no idea, as I have not been to Italy. (Answer is: No, a true alfredo is just butter and parm. I wanted to make something with reduced cream, though.) This is, however, amazingly decadent and delicious and is made with simple ingredients. It also kicks the pants off of any pre-made alfredo sauce.

A meal that could possibly make vegetarianism bearable (hah!).

3/4 lb. fettuccine noodles*
1 pint heavy cream
3/4 stick butter
1/3 c. grated Parmiggiano-Reggiano
1/3 c. grated Pecorino Romano
Salt for noodle water
Lots of freshly ground black pepper

Place the cream in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil and then simmer until it reduces by half (about 25 minutes). Whisk in 4-5 tablespoons cold butter, alternating with the cheese.

Boil the the noodles in well-salted water until firm al dente (10 minutes). Reserve one cup of the cooking water and drain the noodles.

In the pan that you used to cook the noodles, heat the remaining tablespoon of butter. Add the noodles and toss them over medium heat until they start to sizzle. Add ~1/2 c. of the noodle water and continue tossing until the liquid is absorbed and makes a starchy coating on the noodle. Pour in the alfredo sauce, add lots of black pepper, and toss to coat and heat through (but don't heat for too long). Eat immediately--does not reheat well. Would be very good with asparagus on the side.

*Yes, I know that only making 3/4 of a box of pasta is fiddly, but I find that a full pound is always too much. Also you could probably add entire stick of butter, so do that if you really want to stick it to the (nutritionist) man.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring Rolls with Chicken Salad and Peanut Sauce


This recipe is actually a melding of two previous recipes: Hmong Chicken Salad and Fresh Spring Rolls. It would be hard to find something that isn't delicious in a spring roll, but this is a particularly tasty combination with a zingy, juicy flavor. I am also including the recipe for hoisin peanut sauce. This batch makes about 8 spring rolls--increase as necessary.

Chicken Salad Spring Rolls

8 banh trang spring roll wrappers
4 oz. rice vermicelli noodles
2 c. Hmong Chicken Salad
4 large lettuce leaves, sliced very thin across the midrib
1 carrot, thinly julienned
3" slice of daikon, julienned

Place the rice noodles in a bowl and submerge in boiling water. Let sit for 3 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water. Cut the pile of noodles a few times with kitchen scissors.

Fill a pie platter with warm water. Briefly wet a wrapper in the warm water and place it on a moistened plate. Place a rectangular pile of lettuce in the center of the wrapper, then put a small amount of the chicken salad on top (the lettuce protects the wrapper from the chicken's moisture). Arrange the carrots and daikon on the wrapper and then place some noodles on top.

Roll the wrapper by starting at the bottom, then fold the sides over, and roll it firmly but gently all the way up. If you stack up the finished rolls, put plastic wrap between them so they don't stick together.

Hoisin Peanut Sauce

1/3 c. hoisin sauce
3 Tbsp. smooth peanut butter
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. water
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp. chili garlic or Sriracha sauce
chopped roasted peanuts

Combine the hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, water, and peanut butter. I find this works better if I warm up the sauce for a few seconds in the microwave. Stir in the garlic and chili garlic sauce. Sprinkle with chopped roasted peanuts.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Bias Cut Green Beans


I've had asparagus cut this way, but it's not as fun to eat when you don't get to bite into the shoot. I think that green beans are a better application for this technique. They're a bit of a pain to cut like this, but boy they're yummy.

8-16 oz. green beans
1 red bell pepper
3 shallots
olive oil
dash of red pepper flakes
splash of white wine
ground black pepper
salt

Boil some well salted water for blanching the green beans. Cut the green beans on a fine, thin bias. Blanch for 3 minutes or until they are just tender. Shock in cold water and drain.

Cut the red pepper into a very fine dice, and slice the shallots thinly. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan and add the shallots and red pepper flakes. Saute for 2 minutes and then add the diced red pepper and saute until they start to brown on the edges. Add the green beans and black pepper and stir for 2 minutes. Add the wine and salt and simmer until the liquid evaporates.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Massaman Curry

If you want a delicious and comforting curry that will keep you full for hours or perhaps even days, this is the one for you. It uses ingredients that are easy to keep on hand, so it's good in a pinch. It's more sweet than spicy, so it's good for the spice-averse. There are many ways to make it, but this is how I learned. You can make it with chicken or beef, though if you use beef you may want to simmer the meat in the liquid a lot longer.

1 lb. boneless chicken, cut into 1" pieces
14 oz. can of coconut milk
4 oz. can of massaman curry paste
1 large onion, cut into 1" pieces
1 1/2 c. potato or white sweet potato in 1" pieces
1/2 c. carrots, in chunks (optional)
14 oz. water or chicken broth
1/2 c. raw peanuts or cashews
3 Tbsp. palm sugar or brown sugar
3 Tbsp. tamarind sauce (can be substituted with 1 tsp. lime juice)
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
Salt to taste

Begin by cooking the potato in a separate pan until almost fully cooked.

In a deep saute pan or wok, heat the coconut milk until it begins to bubble. Stir in the curry paste and simmer it until the volume is reduced by half. Add the water or chicken broth, peanuts, carrots (if using), and onion and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the potatoes, chicken, and sugar, and simmer for 3-4 minutes until the meat is just cooked through. Add the tamarind and fish sauces. Adjust salt if needed. Serve over fluffy rice with some green veggies on the side.