Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Roasted Beets with Feta, Baby Mesclun, and a Beet Glaze

I normally don't like feta cheese, but at our Temecula Farmers Market, there's an old Greek guy there who has the best tasting feta. It is not tangy, but it is very mild and very smooth. I thought that it would go perfect with some roasted beets. (Chessa hates beets so I can't do these too often). The Foxes came over Sunday evening and I was able to get Erin to try this. I love it... Beets are growing on me. I didn't always like them. I just roasted whole beets wrapped individually in foil with a tablespoon of butter for about 2 hours at 350 degrees. They come out very tender with a lot of juice in the foil wrapper. Pour this juice into a small sauce pan and reduce slightly to thicken. Peel the beets and cut them into about 1/3" slices. I cut the slices with a 2" ring mould so that they'd all be the same size. I also cut the feta with the same mould so that it would stack nicely with the beets. When the beet juice (sauce) had reduced slightly, I added a couple table spoons of cold butter and swirled the pan to melt. (this makes for a very smooth rich tasting sauce). Spoon a couple of tablespoons of the sauce onto a plate, stack the beets and feta on top of the sauce and top with some baby greens. (I have these mesclun greens growing in my herb garden. I love them). Sprinkle some of your favorite sea salt, drizzle with a little olive oil and you're done.... You'll love beets done this way.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day Chessa!

To the best mother in the world!!!
We're deviating a bit from the food part of this blog (but only just a bit, because what would Mother's Day be with out a great breakfast and dinner?), and the focus of this post is to our lovely wife and mom... Where would we be without all of her hard work and caring? The kids and I wanted to list just a few of the things of why we love having Chessa as our mother and wife....

She's awesome!


She takes us on trips

She's fun

She treats me extra special on my birthday

She takes care of me when I'm sick

She cooks me "fantabulous" meals
She lets me live in her house (I liked this one from Brennan)

She helps me with the dishes

She takes me to school

She gives me money for lunch

She gives me hugs and kisses

She is so sweet

She buys nice flowers

She loves and cares for me

She drives me to practice

She's pretty

She has nice legs
She works hard for us at the school

She does a great job with the girls hair (I'm most thankful for this because I had to do Lorien's hair yesterday for soccer and it was a bit of a nightmare... the girls are very lucky that they don't have to rely on me to look nice... I'd fail)...

She makes our house look nice

She takes us fun places

She makes me feel special

Most importantly, she loves us....

We love you Chessa!!!

Lorien helped pick out these flowers and the fresh strawberries at the farmer's market yesterday

Mother's Day Cards & Breakfast

Chesse filled Crepes (blintzes) with fresh strawberries, chantilly cream, and strawberry puree
Maddyn wanted to take a picture of the plates being built... Man, I'm I really that bald???

Mother's Day Crepes

Basic Crepe Batter
1 cup milk
1/4 cup cold water
2 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for cooking the crepes

Chesse Filling, (recipe follows)

Combine the milk, water, eggs, flour, salt and sugar in a blender. Blend on medium speed for 15 seconds, until the batter is smooth and lump-free. Scrape down the sides of the blender and pour in 3 tablespoons of melted butter. Blend it again for a second just to incorporate. Refrigerate the batter for 1 hour to let it rest. If the crepes are made immediately, they have a tendency to be rubbery; when you let the batter rest, the crepes have a better texture and a softer bite.

Put an 8-inch crepe pan or nonstick skillet over medium heat and brush with a little melted butter for added assurance. Pour 1/4 cup of batter into the pan and swirl it around so it covers the bottom evenly; pour back any excess. Cook for 30 to 45 seconds, until the crepe batter sets. Flip the crepe and cook the other side for an additional 30-45 seconds. The crepes should be pliable, not crisp, and lightly brown. Slide them onto a platter and continue making the crepes until all the batter is used. Cover the stack of crepes with a towel to keep them from drying out. This makes 10 crepes.

Assembly: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Forming the blintzes is kind of like making burritos. Spoon 1/4 cup of the cheese filling along the lower third of the crepe. Fold the bottom edge away from you to just cover the filling; then fold the 2 sides in to the center. Roll the crepe away from you a couple of times to make a package, ending with the seam side down. Put an ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Brush with melted butter. Pan-fry the blintzes for 2 minutes per side until crisp and golden.

Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 10 minutes so the egg in the filling cooks slightly and the cheese sets. Dust some plates with powdered sugar. Fan out some cut strawberries and place two blintzes on top. Top with a little chantilly cream (freshly whipped cream) and a few dots of strawberry puree.

Cheese Filling
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
6 oz cream cheese
3 tablespoons confectioners sugar
zest of one lemon
1 egg

In a food processor, combine the ricotta cheese, cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, lemon zest, and egg and blend until smooth. Chill the filling to firm it up a bit so it doesn't squirt out of the blintzes.

Strawberry Puree
6 ripe strawberries
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tabespoon water

In a food processor, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Pass through a fine mesh sieve (to strain out all the seeds) and put in a small squirt bottle.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Cedar Plank Salmon with Grilled Romaine

I think that this is one of the coolest ways to do salmon. It is very easy and very quick. You can have everything done in about 20 minutes. (if you've pre-soaked your boards). The brown sugar creates an awesome glaze and the cedar impregnates the fish with a wonderful smoky flavor. The best place to get cedar planks??? Costco... They run about $8 for 6 of them. I soak them all at one time overnight and then just put the planks in the freezer until I'm ready to use them. My kids love salmon done this way.

Cedar Plank Salmon
One salmon filet
1-2 cups of brown sugar
little olive oil
Sea Salt
1 Cedar plank (soaked in water for at least 4 hours)

Lay out your cedar board that has been soaked in water for at least 4 hours (I prefer overnight), sprinkle sea salt over the board and place your fish, skin side down right on the plank. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season with a little sea salt. Cover the top of the fish with brown sugar. It will look like a lot of sugar, but most of it runs off when it caramelizes. Place on a hot grill and let it do it's thing for about 12 minutes. The bottom of the board will probably be on fire (this is ok) and there will be a ton of great smelling smoke (you want this)... Pull the board off the grill and let sit for a couple of minutes (until it stops flaming). Place on a platter you're done....

Grilled Romaine??? I thought the same thing, but brushed with a little olive oil and quickly grilled it's awesome. We drizzle more olive oil and some really good balsamic vinagre on top, shave some parmesan cheese and add a few teaspoons of pine nuts.... (Don't let the romaine sit too long on the grill or it will burn. You just want to lightly char both sides. It goes great with the cedar salmon....

Salmon served with grilled romaine and brown rice