Monday, April 26, 2010

Crab cakes are my friend!


We decided to make stuff out of Michel Richard's "Happy in the Kitchen". I love this cookbook. We chose stuff that just sounded like things we wanted to try. It was an odd dinner but a tasty one. The first thing we chose was the "Faux Gras". I liked it a lot and it wasn't that hard to make. I think that it would be great for a small get together.


Of course I made a sourdough to go with it!


Next off we had to make the Corn Nugget Crab Cakes. Although these look complicated, they really were pretty easy.

This recipe is interesting because the coating of the crab cake is fresh corn that uses a shrimp and cream "paste" to bind it together.


Plastic wrap in put down and then a portion of the mixture is placed ontop.


It is then flattened and a portion of the crab mixture is put in the middle (oops don't have a picture of this)


The edges of the plastic wrap are gathered together and twisted to encase the shrimp mixture in the corn. It is then shaped by a cookie mold or anything that will be around a 5" diameter (oops, I was too busy cooking to get a picture of this either)


Then they are baked and broiled and man oh man were they good.



Then there was this embarrassingly easy brussel sprouts (thank you Michel Richard). He explains that his wife made Brussel sprouts one night and he loved them. He said he thinks most restaurants serve hard little things. Ends up that she made frozen brussel sprouts. I tried this recipe and fell in love even though I am not one for frozen vegetables.


So our dinner was a bit quirky and didn't really go together but we got to try new recipes and I would have to say that all of them were winners.


Dakota helped clean up the spills.

Faux Gras
Michel Richard

1 cup finely chopped onion (1 medium)
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 pound chicken livers, trimmed
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Parsley Gelee
1 seedless cucumber (usually plastic-wrapped)
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1 to 2 drops Tabasco sauce
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. Cook onion in 2 tablespoons butter in a small heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic and cream and simmer, covered, until onion is tender, about 6 minutes.

2. Remove from heat and stir in remaining 1 3/4 sticks butter, then return to heat and stir until butter is melted and mixture is combined.

3. Purée livers with onion mixture, salt, and pepper in a blender, scraping down sides as necessary, until smooth. Force mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large measuring cup. Bring a teakettle full of water to a boil.

4. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 300ºF.

5. Evenly space ramekins a pan. Divide liver mixture among ramekins, then cover each ramekin with foil and place roasting pan in oven. Pour enough boiling water into pan to fill pan halfway. Bake until mousse is just set, about 30 minutes. Remove foil and transfer ramekins to a rack to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate mousse for a few hours to chill

6. Chop half of cucumber and reserve remainder for another use. Purée chopped cucumber in a food processor until liquefied. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a liquid measuring cup. You should have 1/2C of cucumber water.

7. In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine the gelatin and 1/4 C of the cucumber water. Add the lemon juice, sugar, salt, and Tabasco to the remaining cucumber water. Place the small bowl in the microwave and heat just to melt the gelatin; do not allow to boil. Stir back into the seasoned cucumber water. Stir in 2 TBL of the parsley. Add some or all of the remaining parsley a little at a time until the mixture is dense with parsley but the green of the cucumber water is still visible.

8. Spoon about 2 tablespoons over each mousse. Chill until gelée is set, about 1 hour.

9. Bring mousse to room temperature, about 30 minutes, before serving.

Corn Nugget Crab Cakes
From "Happy in the Kitchen" by Michel Richard, Artisan 2006

Serves 4 as a first course

4 large ears corn (about 3 pounds), shucked and silks removed
2 ounces shelled and deveined fresh or frozen shrimp (about 2 large), cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon whole milk
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Crab Cakes

8 ounces lump crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage
1/4 cup Mayonnaise
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
1 teaspoon chopped tarragon
2 tablespoons minced chives
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
2 to 3 tablespoons (1 to 1 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup Tartar Sauce, see recipe below

Hint: This is a great do-ahead recipe. Both the crab cakes and the tartar sauce can be prepared a day ahead, and the cakes finished in the oven just before serving.


1. Cut the kernels off the corncobs with a sharp knife or on a Benriner fitted with the straight blade. You will need about 2½ cups of kernels; reserve any remaining corn for another use. Set a steamer basket in a pot over simmering water. Place the corn in the steamer basket, cover, and steam for about 10 minutes, or until tender. Pour the corn onto paper towels to cool. Set the steamer aside.

2. Place the shrimp in a small food processor, add the milk, and process to a completely smooth paste. Use a small spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary. Transfer to a medium bowl, add the cooled corn, and mix well. Season with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate while you prepare the crab.

3. For the crab cakes, place the crab in a medium bowl, add the mayonnaise, mustard, tarragon, chives, and soy sauce, and sprinkle with a pinch each of salt, black pepper, and if desired, cayenne pepper. Mix carefully to blend the ingredients, but don't overmix the delicate crab. Taste for seasoning and add more as needed.

4. To form the cakes and wrap them in plastic: Rub a clean counter with dampened hands, to anchor the plastic, and place a piece of plastic wrap about 12 inches long on the damp surface. Place one-quarter of the corn mixture in the center of the plastic, pushing the corn kernels together into a circle. Top with another piece of plastic wrap. Flatten the kernels with your hand, then roll a rolling pin over the corn to shape a flat disk 5 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick. Remove the top piece of plastic.

5. Form one-quarter of the crab mixture into a 2-3-inch circle in the center of the corn. Smooth and shape the circle, leaving a 1-inch border of corn exposed around the edges. Lift the corners of the plastic and gather them up over the crab cake, then twist the plastic to tighten the mixture and completely encase the crab cake in the corn (it will become round in shape). Place the still-wrapped crab cake into a 4-inch round cookie cutter or ring mold and press the top gently with your hand to shape it into a disk. Remove from the mold and trim the plastic wrap, leaving about 1 inch extra. Repeat to make a total of 4 crab cakes.

6. Return the water in the steamer to a simmer. Arrange the crab cakes, still in the plastic, seam side down in the steamer basket. Cover and steam for 5 minutes. Transfer the cakes to a plate. Cool slightly, still in the plastic, then refrigerate to chill and set for a few hours, or up to a day.

7. Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter a heatproof baking dish large enough to hold the crab cakes.

8. Remove the cakes from the refrigerator. With scissors, cut off the twisted plastic as close as possible to one cake. Carefully flip the cake over onto the buttered pan, pinch the top of the plastic wrap, and carefully lift and pull it off the crab cake. Repeat with the remaining cakes. Brush the tops of the cakes with the softened butter.

9. Place in the oven for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until heated through. Once they are hot, turn on the broiler, and broil until the corn kernels are golden brown and crispy.

Serve with the Tartar Sauce passed on the side.

Tartar Sauce
From "Happy in the Kitchen" by Michel Richard, Artisan 2006

This is my Shallot Dressing amped up with capers and cornichons.

¼ cup rinsed, dried, and chopped capers
6 cornichons, coarsely chopped
Shallot Dressing, made without basil, see recipe below

Stir Capers and cornichons into dressing. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Shallot Dressing
From "Happy in the Kitchen" by Michel Richard, Artisan 2006

Anytime you might think of using ranch dressing, try this instead. It's tangy, creamy, and intense. You can blend it completely to super smoothness or leave some texture. I use it for almost anything except dessert.

½ cup Mayonnaise
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup finely minced shallots
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon water
4 drops Tabasco sauce
¼ cup minced chives
¼ cup chopped basil
¼ cup chopped chervil (optional)
Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Place all the ingredients in a blender and pulse to blend, scarping down the sides of the blender as necessary. Leave a bit of texture to the mixture, or blend until completely smooth. Refrigerate in an air tight container for up to 2 days.

Jolly Green Brussels Sprouts

Serves 4 as a side dish

1 pound frozen Brussels sprouts (3 cups)
2 tablespoons frozen peas, defrosted and at room temperature
2 tablespoons heavy cream, warmed
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
A few drops of fresh lemon juice

1. Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook for about 8 minutes, or until they are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife.

2. Meanwhile, place the peas and cream in a mini chopper or spice grinder and puree until smooth.

3. Drain the Brussels sprouts and shake off the excess water. Melt the butter in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the Brussels sprouts, sprinkle with salt, and swirl the pan from time to time to coat the sprouts with butter and brown them evenly. Sauté for about 3 minutes, or until the outer leaves are just beginning to color.

4. Transfer the Brussels sprouts to a bowl, top with the pea mixture, and stir to coat the sprouts evenly. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What a week


We have had a really hard couple of weeks. Our Saint Bernard Dakota was really sick. I thought we were going to lose her there for a while. She ended up at Tufts Veterinary School and was there for a week. I swear they are miracle workers. Ends up that Dakota has Addison's disease.

Ok, onto cooking and friends and all that good stuff. My friend Gail came to visit. We had a great time and it was a good excuse to cook. First night I made my favorite standby Paella.

Second night we had a boneless leg of lamb in the freezer and it was calling our name.


I decided that I wanted to try lamb stuffed with goat cheese, tomatoes, and basil from "Pure and Simple Cooking by Diana Henry. I swear that this cookbook is one of my favorites. Speaking of favorites I also made Panade of Leeks and Mixed Greens with Cantal Cheese by Paula Wolfert from The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen. You can get the recipe that I have posted before here.


The lamb was fantastic and we had a wonderful couple of days with our pal.


Lamb stuffed with goat cheese, tomatoes, and basil
Pure and simple cooking by Diana Henry

6 oz goat cheese, crumbled
6 oz sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained, and coarsely chopped
2 oz (about 3/4 C) basil leaves, torn
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 tbsp olive oil

1 (3lb) boneless leg of lamb, trimmed of excess fat
salt and pepper

1. Mix everything for the stuffing together gently - break up the goat cheese but don't turn it into paste.

2. Preheat the oven to 400F. Open the lamb out like a book. Cut some pockets in the thickest parts of the meat - this just gives you extra places into which to stuff cheese mixture. Season the flesh of the lamb with salt and pepper and spread stuffing over it, pushing the cheese mixture into any pockets you've created. Roll up, tie with string at intervals, and season well.

3. Place in the roasting pan and roast for 15 minutes. Decrease the temperature to 375F and roast for another 50 minutes. Transfer lamb to a carving board, cover with aluminum foil, and insulate with clean kitchen towels. Let rest 15 minutes before slicing.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Spring is here and so is more lamb!


So, it was Easter and even though I don't celebrate it, I do celebrate SPRING. So once again we decided to make something lamb. It was in the 70's and it was a beautiful day so what better way to cook than the grill!


I have posted this recipe before so if you want it just go here

I made fresh pitas in the morning


We got Spring stuff done. Like starting the seeds in the aerogarden so that we can plant in June


When the lamb came out of the refrig it looked like this (just follow the recipe)


Here it is ready to go on the grill


I love cooking outside


No mess in the kitchen and we get to watch it while we sit and drink on the back patio. After being hybernating all Winter you just don't take it for granted when the sun is out and it feels perfect outside.