Monday, April 21, 2008

Better Than Boullion

Master ingredient. Better Than Boullion Organic Vegetable broth base is a master ingredient for making stocks and sauces. It is not just salt, which most bullion is. It is a smooth paste in a jar, so it can be stored in the fridge, and you can spoon out as much or as little as you want to make a sauce. A good example of this is to dissolve 1/2 teaspoon in 1/2 cup of white wine, to add to foil wrapped fish.  It adds some moisture and a really nice flavor. If you've got a saute that's a little dry and not as tasty as it could be, just put a little in a tea cup with a little water, or wine, and add to the pan.  We use it all the time. Get some, put it in the fridge, and add a dash here and there for flavor. It's great!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Lobster Risotto with Scallops + Shiitakes

The best use so far for the lobster stock we made and froze after a big steamed lobster and clam dinner.

4 Cups Lobster Stock
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1 half onion diced
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese
EVOO + 1-2 Tbls butter in small pats

10 large Sea Scallops (do I need to say fresh?)
3/4 cup thin sliced shiitake mushrooms

Sprinkle both sides of scallops with salt and pepper and let stand. While heating stock, prepare all other ingredients. Because everything comes together at the very end, you'll want everything ready-to-go.
Make Risotto. OK, so let me take you through it once, because Risotto is one of those Master recipes; and once you learn to make one version you know how to make them all (there are lots and lots of variations which is what makes it great, but the basic technique is always the same). The key is that you will saute a bunch of ingredients (onions and garlic at the least). You will keep the heat high and actually saute the rice before adding hot stock. Because the heat is relatively high, you'll need to keep things moving in the pan to keep it from scorching. I use a high edged teflon sauce pan (not a skillet) because in the end you are making rice. When you add the hots stock to the hot rice, it will boil instantly and get absorbed into the rice quickly, but you've got to keep stirring, and adding stock as it gets absorbed or boils off. As you get to the end of the stock it will stay moist longer. Once it's Al-dente, you'll take it off the heat and do the manticare step (folding in cheese and butter to give that final beautiful coating to the risotto.
1) Make sure the stock is hot/simmering
2) saute the onions and garlic in a couple of Tbps EVOO until just soft over medium high heat.
3) add the Arborio rice (this is the Risotto rice, no substitutions), and saute for a minute or two.
4) add one cup of white wine and then hot stock one ladle-full at a time as the stock gets absorbed and boils off. It will rapidly simmer/boil and be absorbed. Keep the rice moving, turning it over on itself, without mashing it.
5) Keeping the heat up to medium high/medium, keep adding ladles of stock once the rice thickens. Keep going until the stock begin to absorbed more slowly.
6) Once the rice is just tender and a nice, slightly moist consistency, remove from heat and add butter pats and cheese. Fold in the cheese and butter, and serve.

Now, for the scallops (I hope you read ahead, because you want to have these ready to go between steps 4 or five above. Heat a skillet over medium/high heat. When the risotto is beginning to slow down in absorbing the stock, add a little EVOO to the skillet, and place the scallops in, do not move them once you place then. Cook 2 to 2:30 per side depending on how think they are (less is better, because they will finish cooking on the plate). Once you turn the scallops, add the shiitakes to the pan and mix around and between the scallops. In the final 2 minutes, the risotto should be finishing and you should be doing the manticare step (Step 6 above). Plate the Scallops and Risotto leaving shiitakes in skillet and skillet on heat drizzle just a small amount of EVOO in the skillet, move Shiitakes around a few times to coat, and then deglaze with some white wine. Serves shiitakes over scallops and risotto.

Now, the DRI version.
1) Get lobster stock out of freezer.
2) make risotto with 1 cup white wine first, and then lobster stock, using Asiago cheese for the manticare (instead of the more usual parmesan)
3) Just before rice is finished, pan sear sea scallops with shiitakes, deglazing the pan at the end.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Hot and Sour Soup

Hot and Sour Soup also makes a great meal in itself with the addition of peas, corn, carrots, cabbage and meaty shiitake mushrooms.

Yield: 4 servings

6 cups (1.4L) vegetable or chicken stock
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp (2g) gingerroot, minced
1/2 tsp (2g) black pepper + pinch white pepper
2 Tbs (30mL) tamari
4 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, thinly sliced
1/2 lb (230g) firm tofu, sliced into 1/4x1-inch (0.5x2.5cm) strips
1 cup (300g) Napa cabbage, shredded
1 carrot, thinly julienned
1/3 cup (70g) frozen peas
1/3 cup canned bamboo shoots, julienned
2 Tbs (30mL) rice vinegar
1 Tbs (15mL) mirin (Chinese cooking wine)
1 Tbs (8g) cornstarch dissolved in 3 Tbsp (45mL) cold water
1 egg, well-beaten
1/2 cup (90g) green onions, chopped
1/4 cup (9g) cilantro, chopped

Bring stock to a boil over medium-high heat in a 21/2- to 3-quart (1.9 to 2.9L) saucepan. Add garlic, ginger, black pepper, and tamari. Reduce heat and simmer 1 minute.

Add mushrooms, tofu, cabbage, carrots, peas and corn. Stir and let simmer 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in vinegar, mirin and cornstarch mixture. Continue cooking until soup is thickened, about 1 minute.

Remove soup from heat. Slowly pour in beaten egg and stir. Garnish with green onions or cilantro and serve immediately