Saturday, September 22, 2018

DELIGHTFUL DUCK LEGS ROASTED WITH RED WINE CHERRY SAUCE!

We recently had the most spectacular evening with our good friends Steve and Debby Vis. Eating wonderful food, sipping lovely wine, enjoying each others company on a warm early fall night...what could be better? I often say "Food is Love" and this night was filled with both.
Deb and Steve stealing a kiss!
Our duck had some problems. We'll talk about that in the next blog. Although the sauce Deb and I created for the duck was out of this world!
But, first things first...APPETIZERS!
We had three different appetizers, but let's start with the one everyone liked best.

SUCCULENT SMOKY SALMON DIP
I found this recipe at The Rowdy Baker's blog site (http://www.therowdybaker.com/?p=2280). The Rowdy Baker, aka Lorinda, served her salmon dip in a hollowed out loaf of bread shaped like a football to serve on game day. Very clever. I will keep in mind for the Super Bowl where hopefully our beloved New England Patriots will win this year. (Sorry, Steve!) I served our Succulent Salmon Dip with crackers.
And here is Fr. Vis blessing our evening
with one of those crackers.
Ingredients:
3 7.5 oz. cans Demings Red Sockeye Wild Alaskan Salmon (or The R.B. suggests either using the canned or 1 1/2 lbs. cooked salmon)
8 oz. Neufchatel or Creamed Cheese (I used Creamed Cheese.)
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. liquid smoke (R.B. says optional, but I think this is what made the dip so special.)
3 cloves garlic, minced very finely, about 1 Tbsp.
4 slices thick bacon, cooked crispy and chopped
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
3 green onions, sliced thinly (R.B. calls for 6. That seemed like too many to me, although I did garnish with more green onion.)
Salt/Pepper to taste

Preparation:
In a large bowl combine cream cheese, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, and garlic. Mix well with a spoon. Do not use a food processor or the texture will become too smooth. Drain and clean the salmon and roughly chop it. Add to the bowl and mix gently with a spoon. It's OK to have some good bite-sized pieces of whole salmon. Stir in the bacon, lemon juice, green onions, salt and pepper. Top with green onions if you like. Keep in fridge until ready to serve. I made this dip about 6 hours before our dinner, but you could also make it the day before to allow the flavors to meld. This was very delicious!
The view from Steve and Deb's back patio.
 
My happy husband, Jerry, and me ready to dig into appetizers!
CHEESY SWEET POTATO COINS
WITH CHIPOTLE CREMA
This recipe came from a site called "The Foodie Physician"  (https://thefoodiephysician.com/dining-with-doc-cheesy-sweet-potato/).
 
Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs. (about 3 medium) sweet potatoes (choose long, narrow potatoes)**
1 1/2 tsp. olive oil
3/4 tsp. ground cumin
3/4 tsp. smoked paprika*
1/2 tsp. salt
6 oz. aged cheddar cheese
 
*
I was out of Smoked Paprika so used this spice blend of
Smoked Paprika, Garlic, Chili and Chives.

**I realized I was making too much food so only used one sweet potato, but kept all the proportions of all other ingredients as the recipe called for, which meant much more spice than if I had used 2 more potatoes. As with most recipes like this, you can take a lot of liberty.

Chipotle Crema:
1/2 cup lowfat plain Greek-style yogurt (I used one 7 oz. container FAGE 2%. This is Bobby Flay's favorite so works for me!)
1 tsp. minced chipotles in adobo (I used a little less, but use more if you like spicy.)
1/2 tsp. adobo sauce from the can
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup sliced scallions

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash the potatoes and slice them into 1/4 inch slices or "coins". Use a mandolin if you have one or simply a sharp knife, which is what I did. Place them in a bowl and add oil, cumin, paprika and salt. Toss to combine well. Arrange the potato coins on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes, then flip and roast another 10 minutes until tender.
At this point, I let the potato coins cool and bagged them to take to Deb's. Before serving reheat at 200 degrees for about 10 minutes just to get warm. Top each coin with equal amounts cheddar cheese. Return the tray to the oven for 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted.

You can also make the crema ahead of time. Mix yogurt, chipotles, adobo sauce and lime juice together in a small bowl. Arrange the sweet potato coins on a serving platter. Top each with a dollop with chipotle crema and garnish with scallions. Very good and good for you! Sweet potatoes are high in Vitamin A, B5, B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin and due to their orange color high in carotenoids.

The last appetizer was so simple it hardly needs a recipe, but here goes.

GARLIC ROAST BEEF PINWHEELS

Ingredients:
3 soft flatbreads or flour tortillas
4-5 generous Tbsp. Garlic & Fine herb Boursin Cheese
3 Tbsp. prepared Basil Pesto
1/4 lb. (or 9 slices) good quality deli Roast Beef, thinly sliced and preferably rare
Salt to taste

Preparation:
Top each flatbread with 3 slices of roast beef. Gently salt the beef. Spread about 1 1/2 Tbsp. of Boursin cheese all over the beef. Add about 1 Tbsp. of Basil pesto. Roll up tightly the long way.
Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. To serve, trim off ends and cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Plate, cut side down on a serving tray.

Can you believe after all these treats we moved into dinner? In the next blog I'll talk about the continuation of our feast, which included Roast Duck Legs, Creamed Spinach baked in Portobello Mushrooms and Wild Rice with dried fruit. For dessert we had Coconut Date Bonbons, an excellent sugar-free treat.

In the meantime, remember to enjoy each and every precious moment of this glorious life! Be good to yourself and let friends and family know how much you love them.
 
This was such a special evening with good friends.
Can't wait to share more!
 
Tune in again soon for another episode of:


Tuesday, August 28, 2018

NEW YORK STYLE CHEESECAKE!


I made this cheesecake for the 4th of July this year. It was a fun way to help celebrate our most American of holidays while living in Ireland for the summer. You can top this cheesecake any way you like or is also delicious plain. I topped with fresh strawberries, blueberries and shaved white chocolate for our festive holiday celebration.

The recipe is from All Recipes.

Ingredients:
3 Tbsp. Melted butter
18 Graham Crackers*, crushed
1/4 Cup Flour
1 Cup Sour Cream (I used creme fraiche.)
1 Tbsp. Vanilla
4 8-oz. Packages Cream Cheese, at room temperature
4 Eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
1 tsp. Lemon Zest
1 tsp. Orange Zest
* I could not find Graham Crackers here in Ireland so used half a sleeve of Tea Biscuits. Perfect substitution.



Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease bottom and sides of 9" springform pan. I used my hands to crush the Rich Tea Biscuits. Mix Biscuits (or Graham Crackers) with 3 Tbsp. melted butter until evenly moistened. Press the buttered crumb mixture into bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of springform pan. Put in fridge to chill while making the filling.

Whisk flour into the creme fraiche or sour cream. Add vanilla. Whisk in cream cheese, 8 oz. at a time. Add sugar and whisk until thoroughly combined (3 - 5 minutes) and shiny. I am sure you could do this with either a hand or standing mixer, but I have neither here in Spiddal so the whisk worked well and also provided some good upper body exercise!

Whisk in eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in lemon and orange zest.

Gently spoon filling into pan. Bake in preheated oven until edges are nicely puffed and the surface of the cheesecake is firm except for a small spot in the center that will jiggle when pan is gently shaken. This will take about 1 hour.

When done, turn off oven and leave cheesecake in oven to cool for about 1 hour. This prevents cracking. I learned another neat way to prevent cracking from Chef Jane St. Pierre at the cooking class I went to with my brother at Stonewall Kitchen in York, Maine. Jane says check the cheesecake temperature just before you think it's done. Insert thermometer in the center of the cake. If it registers 160 degrees, it's done! No cracks! Cool completely before topping.

My husband, Jerry, is in cheesecake heaven.
Our cat, JoJo, is happy to nap through it.

I made this cheesecake again when our good friends Brendan and Mary O'Tuairisg came to dinner with their ever so cool daughter, Roisin. Our son, Mike was here visiting, too, which made for a very festive night! This time I made a strawberry topping by combining 2 cups of freshly sliced strawberries with a cup of Follain's Strawberry Jam.

Gently heat the jam and stir in the sliced strawberries. The berries do not need to cook, but get them warm enough so they release some of their beautiful juices to make a rich strawberry sauce. Let cool completely before topping the cake. Let the cake cool completely before topping, as well.
I LOVE CHEESECAKE AND IF YOU FLIP THROUGH PREVIOUS BLOGS YOU'LL SEE I MAKE A LOT OF IT!

ALL FOR TODAY. OUR TIME IN IRELAND IS NEARING AN END, BUT WE'LL BE BACK AGAIN SOON TO CELEBRATE MORE OF THE CHARMING IRISH WAYS.

TUNE IN AGAIN SOON FOR ANOTHER EPISODE OF:

WWW.COOKWITHCINDY.COM

This is our Irish home sweet home!

Sunday, August 19, 2018

MONKFISH MARSALA!

There was a time, not that long ago, when you couldn't give Monkfish away. Sometimes called, "Poor man's lobster", now it fetches a premium price and is enjoyed for its sweet taste and pleasing firm, meaty texture, similar to lobster and scallops.
Monkfish is all head and beautifully designed with a huge mouth perfect for catching prey. They live on the ocean bottom, in both the Pacific and Atlantic and some believe got their name from their remote and solitary existence in the ocean's depths. I think that's a bit of a stretch.  A more plausable explanation for the name, monkfish, is that monks used to go to the docks asking for fish. Monkfish, because of its ugliness was not marketable, and fisherman would give them this by-product. Although they are also known by several other odd names: Goose-fish; Sea-devil; All-mouth; and Fishing-frog. Their Latin name is Lophius Americanus and the European variety is L. Piscatorius, caught right off our shores in Galway Bay. They are not a pretty fish and their most distinctive feature is their large mouth.

They also have an interesting, irregular growth of flesh in the front of their head, just above their mouth. The esca, also referred to as the illicium, is movable in all directions and used as a lure to attract other small fish into their massive jaws. The "antenna" dip down resembling a shrimp and the prey is snatched. Nature! Love it!

The tail is the portion of monkfish that is eaten, but the head has lots of "meat", too and makes an incredible fish stock for seafood chowder. Once boiled, pick off the "meat" and make a luscious seafood salad.

Now, on to MONKFISH MARSALA! This recipe is from The Daily Catch in Boston, across from what used to be the famous Jimmy's Harborside.

Served over linguini with garlic bread;
 topped with freshly chopped parsley and lots of
that gorgeous Marsala sauce.

Ingredients:
1 lb. Monkfish, cut into 1/2 inch medallions, salted & peppered (We left ours in slightly larger strips.)
1/2 cup flour for dredging
2 Tbsp. Olive oil
1 1/2 cup Marsala wine*
1/2 cup fish, clam, or mussel broth**
8 white button mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 lemon for squeezing
2 Tbsp. Butter
2 Tbsp. Parsley chopped

*I couldn't find Marsala wine so used sherry instead. Not a bad substitute, but it's best to use Marsala.
This was excellent sherry, but really not the same as Marsala.
**The recipe doesn't call for the addition of fish stock, but my husband, Jerry, used to eat at the Daily Catch weekly and became quite friendly with the chef. He said add 1/2 cup fish stock to deepen the flavor. I had made mussels the day before so used that.

Dredge the medallions in liberally
 seasoned flour. Shake off the excess.

Preparation:
Place a large skillet with oil over medium high heat. I added a tbsp. Of butter to the pan, as well. It helps brown the fish and adds to the flavor. Sear the monkfish in hot pan for about 2 minutes per side or until nicely browned and slightly carmelized. Remove the fish from the pan and set aside.

Add the mushrooms and cook for a couple minutes until the butter/oil is absorbed and mushrooms start to look translucent.

I was a little late on this photo as flames are nearly gone.
 Be careful when igniting alcohol as it really
does flare up and could take off your eyebrows!
Remove pan from heat and add Marsala wine. Return to heat and ignite wine. Flambe until alcohol burns off. Flames will die down. Add fish stock, if using, and squeeze lemon juice into pan. Makes sure you catch the seeds. Continue cooking on medium high until sauce is reduced; about 10-15 minutes.
Return fish to pan. Add 1/2 Parsley, a little more butter and let bubble away on low heat for another 10 minutes. Serve over linguini topped with the last of the parsley. Garlic bread works well to soak up that sumptuous sauce!

I LOVE ALL THE FRESH FISH WE EAT WHEN 
LIVING IN IRELAND. ITS A VERY SPECIAL TREAT!

WE ARE SO FORTUNATE AND I ALSO LOVE IT WHEN 
MY HUSBAND COOKS WITH ME!!
Connie Thornton from Ali's Fish Market in Barna knows her fish! 
ALL FOR TODAY, BUT TUNE IN AGAIN SOON, AS MORE GOODIES AHEAD. 

NEXT UP...CHEESECAKE!!!

WWW.COOKWITHCINDY.COM




Friday, July 27, 2018

BLOOD PUDDING! AS IRISH AS IT GETS!

Throughout Ireland and the UK blood has been used to make sausage for centuries. In fact the oldest recorded use of blood for sausage dates back to the 14th century, but Ireland and UK countries are not the only to use this protein rich ingredient. There was a time when we'd utilize every bit of an animal being slaughtered, and throughout the world, blood was no exception.
It's in the bag!...the blood, that is.
All recipes for Blood Pudding contain roughly the same ingredients, but with many regional spice variations. The basics include: blood, grain (oats, barley, or sometimes bread), fat (generally pork fat), salt, pepper and other herbs and spices.

Earliest recipes used cow or sheep's blood, but by the 19th century pig's blood was predominantly used. I love Pinhead Oats so used them as the thickener.
Steel-cut pinhead Irish oats are made from whole oat groats that have
been cut into 2 or 3 pieces making for a much chewier cereal.
I found this recipe online and the only changes I made were to add 1 tsp. Of dried thyme and 1 clove of garlic. Next time I would increase both salt and pepper by a bit. I must warn you, I have posted several bloody photos, which may seem gorey to some. Let's start there...
This is the 10 liter bucket the blood came in.

I'm filtering the blood in our garage kitchen.
I've been searching in Ireland  for 2 years to find a butcher who would sell me blood. In this country, just as it is in the states, slaughtering of animals is highly regulated and monitored by the government. Almost all commercially prepared Blood Pudding is now made with dried blood. I kept expanding my search into more rural areas where I figured they might be a little more lax on the "rules". I found a willing butcher, but have been sworn to keep my source a secret. I asked for 1 qt. of blood, which is what the recipe called for and ended up with 1 gallon plus a quart. That's a lot of blood. To start, the blood needs to be filtered through a fine mesh sieve to remove any impurities and lumps.
Blood has a short shelf life (approximately 48 hours from time of harvesting, although my butcher said it lasts up to a week if kept very cold) so I wanted to get what I wasn't using into the freezer right away. Here's the recipe...

Ingredients:
4 cups fresh pigs blood
2 1/2 tsp. Salt, divided
1 1/2 cup steel-cut Pinhead Oatmeal
2 cups finely diced pork fat or beef suet. I used pork.
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, finely minced
1 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp. Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. Allspice
1 tsp. Dried thyme
Dicing the pork fat.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease 3 glass loaf pans. The recipe I used recommended lining a metal pan with parchment if you don't have glass to keep the blood from reacting creating an off-flavor. I had to do this as I don't have 3 Pyrex bread pans, but would not recommend. The Blood Pudding seeped behind the paper and made an awful mess of the pan. Solution: buy more pans.
Stir 1 tsp. of salt into the blood.

Gently saute onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent. Do not brown. Set aside.

Bring 2 1/2 cups water to boil and stir in oats. Simmer, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes until oats are just tender, not mushy.
In a large bowl combine finely diced pork fat, onion, garlic, milk, pepper, allspice, thyme and remaining salt. Add the cooked oatmeal and finally the blood.
The chunks in the blood are ice as I cranked the fridge
 way down to make sure blood stayed fresh overnight.
Mix thoroughly and divide between pans.

Cover with foil and bake for one hour until firm and a knife comes out clean.
Blood pudding is known by a number of different names:
Black Pudding, Blood Sausage to name a couple.
Cool completely. To store wrap in plastic. Keeps in fridge for a week. Double wrap in foil to keep in freezer for up to a month.

To serve cut 1/2 inch slices off the loaf and fry in butter and/or oil until all sides are crispy.

I had already planned lambs liver with onions and mushrooms for dinner that night so just served the Blood Pudding along with it. I've noticed in the finest restaurants in Galway they are now serving as an accompaniment to fish dishes. I had it the other night served with pan fried turbot resting on a bed of cauliflower puree. The Blood Pudding was smoked, which gave it an amazingly exotic flavor. Since I have a new smoker I'll have to try that next. Traditionally it is served as a breakfast meat with a full Irish breakfast.
I also want to try a Scotch Egg with the Blood Pudding. I know this may not be for everyone, but once you get beyond the concept of "blood" it's really tastey and nutritious!

ALL FOR TODAY. TOMORROW IS MY BIRTHDAY AND THE MAKING OF THIS BLOOD PUDDING AND WRITING ABOUT IT WAS TRULY MY PRESENT TO ME!

NEXT TIME WE'RE GOING TO DISCUSS A VERY SIMPLE RECIPE FOR MONK FISH MARSALA. MONK FISH IS CAUGHT RIGHT OUTSIDE OUR DOOR SO AS FRESH AS FRESH CAN BE!

WWW.COOKWITHCINDY.COM

Monday, July 16, 2018

FRESH SALMON CAKES!


The other day I bought some beautiful salmon filets from my favorite fish market--Ali's Fish, in Barna, which is a couple villages east of Spiddal.

Eddie Toner holding a large wild salmon. Eddie is from the Claddagh in Galway. The Claddagh, which means "the shore", is located on the western side of Galway situated at the mouth of the Corrib River. Once a thriving fishing village dating from the 5th century, this village was the heart of Galway's fishing community. This is also the "town" behind the ring.
Eddie cutting some wild salmon steaks. Tomorrrow nights dinner!
The farm raised salmon (in the case) is much paler in color than the wild.
I asked Eddie where the salmon came from and he said Irish Organic Salmon Company, Clare Island, County Mayo. There is much controversy over fish farms in Ireland as every year farmed salmon escape into the rivers and breed with the wild salmon. Last fall it was reported that hundreds of farmed salmon escaped into 5 different rivers in the west of Ireland causing much ecological havoc. I have to believe many fish farms raise salmon sustainably and responsibly, although some say with the increase of fish farms there is no longer any such thing as a wild salmon in Ireland, or maybe anywhere in the world. But this salmon was fresh, firm, sweet and made a lovely cake.
As you can see the main ingredient is salmon.
Ingredients:
.36 Kg. fresh salmon (about 3/4 lb.), roughly diced, makes 4 cakes
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 Tbsp. Mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. Capers
1 tsp. Coleman's or other mustard, but Coleman's adds a nice spark
Garlic powder, 1/4 tsp.
Onion salt,, 1/4 tsp.
Salt/Pepper
1 tsp. Freshly chopped tarragon (or 1/2 dried)
1 tsp. Freshly chopped chives
2+ cups Panko breadcrumbs for coating
2 Tbsp. Olive oil

Ingredients for Sauce:
1/2 cup mayo
2+ tsp. Coleman's mustard
1 Tbsp. Capers
Dash of white pepper
Chopped tarragon and chives

Mix all together and serve the cakes with a dollop of sauce.

Preparation:
Roughly dice the salmon filets. Liberally salt and pepper. Add all other ingredients except Panko (for coating) and olive oil (for frying) and gently mix until well incorporated. Form into 4 generous cakes. They will be a little loose, but will firm up in the fridge before you saute. Spread about 2 cups (1/2 cup per cake) Panko bread crumbs on a plate or tray. Place the cakes on the crumbs and gentle press into the crumbs, turning to coat both top and bottom. Add more crumbs if necessary.

Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator at least an hour to firm up. These cakes can be made a day ahead. Bring to room temp before cooking.

Over high heat, bring 2 Tbsp. Olive oil to the smoking point. Add cakes. Reduce heat to medium high and saute for about 6 minutes until golden. Carefully turn salmon cakes over and cook for another 6 minutes until done. Let rest in pan for 3 to 5 minutes. Serve with sauce. These would also be excellent with either Bernnaise or Hollandaise sauce.

AFTER 6 WEEKS OF GLORIOUS WARM 
AND SUNNY WEATHER WE'RE FINALLY 
GETTING SOME MUCH NEEDED IRISH RAIN!

ALL FOR TODAY. TUNE IN AGAIN...

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