Monday, February 21, 2011

Lamb Chops with Cherry Marsala Sauce

The Trout found this recipe on Blue Kitchen blog and since we had the dried cherries in the pantry, lamb chops in the freezer, rosemary growing outside the door, this sounded perfect for a Sunday dinner.

I also found out that February is National Lamb month.  As far as I am concerned, every day could be national lamb day.  We really love it.

Along side this beautiful lamb chop in cherry sauce was a lettuce salad with a lemon vinaigrette and wild rice which we bought while traveling through northern Minnesota last summer to attend a wedding.  Wild rice is not a true rice, rather a seed of a grass.  It has a wonderful nutty taste and can be quite expensive.  It goes wonderfully with wild game or poultry also.

We really liked this sauce.  We did change it a bit and were very happy with the end results.

Lamb Chops with Cherry Marsala Sauce

1/3 cup dried tart cherries
4 lamb loin chops, about 1 inch thick
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely chopped shallot or scallions
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup dry Marsala wine

Place the dried cherries in a small bowl and cover with boiling water.  Let rest 15 minutes and then drain.

Grill the chops to your liking, cover and let rest until the sauce is done.  "Blue Kitchen" sautèed the chops on the stove top.  We prefer grilling them.

Melt butter in a pan and sautè shallots until just tender, about 3 minutes, stirring to avoid burning.  Add garlic and rosemary and cook, stirring until fragrant, 30 seconds.  Add broth and Marsala to skillet.  Stir in cherries and cook for 2-3 minutes, until sauce is slightly reduced and thickened.  I did add another pat of butter at the end to add some body, flavor and gloss to the sauce.

Spoon sauce over the lamb chops.  A very nice change for a perfectly grilled lamb chop.  Other than the kitchen looking like the 'perfect storm' had hit it, we did enjoy this Sunday dinner. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Salzburger Nockerl

Aside from the apple studel, Topfenstrudel and Kaiserschmarrn, the Salzburger Nockerl is the most famous and legendary dessert of Austria. 

It is said that the "Nockerl" was invented by Salome Alt, the concubine of Salzburg's Prince Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raintenau in the early 17th century.  It is supposed to resemble the mountains of Salzburg.

We were in Austria in 1991.  The Trout found a guide who took him fly fishing in a most beautiful area of the country.  Unfortunately, the time was short as the mountain snows started melting in the late morning and the blue colored water washed down the mountain and into the streams and  the fishing was over. 

It was also before I realized that my paternal grandmother's ancestors came from an area of Austria called Spittal.  We were there.  But, it was many years later before I realized that my ancestors had also been there.  Such a missed opportunity.  I do remember the beautiful landscapes, the mountains, the food.  We must go back.  We must.

While in Austria, we dined beautifully on the typical food of the area.  This dessert, Salzburger Nockerl has always lingered on my mind.  I made it many years ago, shortly after returning from Austria, but it wasn't until this week that I remembered it.  All the ingredients were in the kitchen.  It just had to be.

You will find that this is a rather simple dessert, not too difficult to put together, but it does need to be served immediately after coming out of the oven.  It is light, very flavorful and puts on quite a show by itself. 

Salzburger Nockerl

serves 2 persons

6 egg whites (room temperature)
4 egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 whole lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For a 10 inch oval skillet

1 oz. butter
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons raspberry jam

powdered sugar

Heat oven to 450 degrees

Instead of a skillet, I heated the butter, cream and raspberry jam in the microwave.  Then spread it into the bottom of a casserole dish.

Beat the egg whites until stiff and gradually add 3 tablespoons sugar while the mixer is running.  Then add the vanilla extract. 

Remove the mixing bowl and fold in by hand with a wire whisk the egg yolks, flour and lemon zest.  Mix as little as possible.

With spatula, form four individual peaks, one at a time (the mountains of Austria) and place into the casserole with the raspberry mixture.

Bake in a hot oven, 450 degrees for 9 to 10 minutes.  Nockerl should be soft in the center and browned on the top. 

Remove from the oven and sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve at once.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Scallops and a Spanish White

Saturday always starts out early for us.  We headed to the downtown market by 8:15 a.m. to pick up some loose leaf lettuce, then to the seafood store to pick up scallops and shrimp and then to the gym to work with our trainer.  He works us hard but we really need it.

We had these scallops tonight in a recipe from Fine Cooking.  It was perfect with the loose leaf lettuce with a simple lemon and olive oil vinaigrette. 

Seared Scallops with Herb-Butter Pan Sauce

1 lb. dry large sea scallops
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Sauce:

3 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
2 tbsp. finely diced shallot (we used scallions)
1/4 cup dry white vermouth or dry white wine
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh herbs, such as flat-leafed parsley and chives
1/4 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2-3 lemon wedges for serving

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat for 1 to 2 minutes.  Add the oil and butter and heat until quite hot.  Pat the scallops dry once more time and put them in a single layer in the hot skillet.  Season with salt and pepper and sear undisturbed until one side is browned and crisp 2-3 minutes.  Using tongs, turn the scallops and sear until the second side is well browned and the scallops are almost firm to the touch.  Take the pan off the heat and transfer scallops to a plate and let them sit in a warm spot.

Return the pan to the heat and add a piece of butter and the shallots and sautè until the shallots begin to soften, about 1 minute.  Add the vermouth or wine and simmer until reduced by about half, another minute or two.  Add the herbs and lemon zest.  Reduce the heat to low and add the remaining butter, whisking constantly until the butter melts into the sauce.  Return the scallops to the juices in the pan and gently roll them to cover with the sauce.  Taste for salt and pepper and serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Last night we went to a wine tasting  of Spanish wines in Tampa.  We found a white wine we really liked.  Bodegas Shaya Verdejo 2009, was the perfect pairing for the scallops.  In fact, as we were tasting the wine, I told the server than this wine was "screaming for shrimp."  He laughed and used that phrase quite often after that until he had too many people asking where the shrimp were.

We did add 4 shrimp to the scallops tonight to just let the wine prove itself.  The experts, as in Robert Parker, say "This wine offers up an alluring aroma of baking spices, spring flowers and peach.  On the palate it has a creamy texture, vibrant acidity, and intense flavors leading to a lengthy, fruit-filled finish.  It is a great value in a dry, aromatic white wine, that over-delivers in a big way."  At $15.95, we found this wine a real pairing with the scallops (and few shrimp.)

We had to finish this off with a spectacular dessert.  Since dessert has not found our lips in a long time, this was quite the treat.  A dessert from Austria that I think you might like.  Check back  tomorrow to find out all about it.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Quinoa Pilaf

Since we started eating quinoa a couple of years ago, I have often added it as a side or salad to our meals.  In our newspaper yesterday, four new recipes appeared and I quickly knew I wanted to try the Quinoa Pilaf with Lemon and Thyme.  I hope to try the other three soon, because they sounded just as tasty.

Quinoa is the perfect protein, gluten free and just tastes great.  You can do with quinoa as you do with rice.  It just works as a salad, stuffing, pilaf, even mixed with ground turkey to make burgers.  How about Quinoa, Apricot and Nut clusters?  That might be on my list next.

I have jars of the white and red quinoa and quite often mix them for the beauty of it. 

Quinoa Pilaf with Lemon and Thyme

1 onion. minced
1 teaspoon olive oil
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed and dried on a towel
1 1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, basil, cilantro or scallions 
(I used cilantro because it is growing so quickly, it will soon be invading the house)

Combine the onion, oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt in large saucepan.  Cover and cook over medium low heat, stirring occasionally until the onion has softened, about 8 minutes.

Stir in the quinoa, increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until the quinoa is lightly toasted and aromatic, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the broth, lemon zest and thyme and bring to a simmer.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the quinoa is transparent and tender, 16-18 minutes.

Remove from heat and let sit, covered for 10 minutes.  The fluff with a fork, stir in lemon juice and fresh parsley or herbs.  Season with salt and pepper.

Per 3/4 cup serving 170 calories, 3.5 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 30 g carbs, 6 g protein, 4 g fiber and 220 mg sodium. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Oh, oh, oh.....

I LOVE salmon.  We LOVE salmon.  We usually marinate for 30 minutes and grill it.  The January-February issue of Cook's Illustrated  had a section on "Better Glazed Salmon."  Several different glazes were suggested, but when we saw the "Asian Barbeque Sauce" we knew we had a winner. 

As The Trout put together the ingredients and they started bubbling on the stove, I KNEW this would be great!!  We absolutely loved it and as we ate our glazed salmon, I kept babbling about how great this would taste on chicken thighs, chicken breast, name it.  This sauce is so tasty.  We loved it.

We had a sliced cucumber with sesame oil, Kosher salt and ground pepper on the side.  The perfect cooling accompaniment. 

Try this sauce and if you are lucky enough to have the copy of the January-February Cook's Illustrated  be sure to try the Soy-Mustard glaze, the Pomegranate-Balsamic glaze and the Orange-Miso glaze also on this page.

Asian Barbeque Sauce

2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons Asian Chili-garlic sauce
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

Whisk ingredients together in small saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

In the last few minutes of grilling our salmon, this beautiful sauce was brushed onto the salmon.  It glazed on beautifully, and there was some sauce left to put on the salmon at the table. 

We always have the Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce in the refrigerator.  My friend in Montana calls it the Rooster Sauce since there is a picture of a rooster on the bottle. This is the best in our estimation and we rarely are without it.  At this point, I will also add that we have a Norwegian and German background and no, we do NOT add 2 teaspoons....perhaps 3/4 of a teaspoon.  That is hot enough for us without spoiling the flavor of the salmon.  Feel free to pour it on if you love it.  This sauce is wonderful. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Have you tried POM concentrate?

Have you tried the new POM concentrate?  All the reducing time has been done for you.  We had a pork roast and I used 1/4 cup of the POM concentrate, added some raspberry jam for sweetness, a splash or two of red wine, garlic, thyme and a pat of butter.  This all combined into a very nice sauce for the pork.

I have been reading a lot since I received this bottle of POM concentrate.  I even read where someone made jello out of it.  It is rather tart, and it does need some sort of sweetener.  I loved the consistency of it.  I have been also putting it into water to drink and find it refreshing.  POM is healthy and that is how I have been trying to use it.

I have thought of baking with it, but then again, you are getting sweet calories that are not needed.  I'll be using it again for a sauce.  Turkey and chicken would be very nice with it also.  Have you used the concentrate and how did you use it?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!!  It is strawberry season in our part of Florida.  If you can't partake of the succulent, sweet berries, enjoy my photo.  Sending love to all. 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Tuna with a Ginger-Shiitake Cream Sauce

This is another favorite recipe of ours that I have not blogged about yet.  We have been making this cream sauce for tuna since 2002.  It is that good!!  It was found on Epicurious  at that time.  In the past, we have even used this sauce on salmon.  Today, we vary it somewhat, because a trip to the big city was just not in the cards.  So, instead of fresh shiitake mushrooms which I saw last week at Whole Foods....darn...we are using Portobellos which are really, just as tasty.

The recipe is for 6, but we are cutting it down for the two of us.  Other than changing the mushrooms, we follow it exactly and it is always a winner!!

Pan-Seared Tuna with Ginger-Shiitake Cream Sauce

6 6-ounce tuna steaks, each about 1 inch thick
2 tablespoons peanut oil

3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves, chopped
8 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps sliced
6 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Preheat over to 200 degrees F.  Sprinkle one side of tuna steaks with pepper.  Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy, large skillet over high heat.  Place tuna steaks, pepper side down in hot oil and sear 2 minutes.  Turn tuna over and continue cooking to desired doneness, about 2 minutes for rare.  Transfer tuna to rimmed baking sheet to keep warm in oven.

Add butter, sliced green onions, cilantro, ginger and chopped garlic to same skillet and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Mix in mushrooms and soy sauce and simmer 30 seconds.  Add whipping cream and simmer until sauce lightly coats back of spoon, about 3 minutes.  Stir in lime juice.  Spoon sauce onto plates; arrange tuna atop sauce.  Garnish with lime wedges and cilantro springs, if desired.

The Trout says this sauce would taste great on anything.  I know some of you do not like cilantro.  I truly believe there is no substitute for this herb.  As you can see by the photo, we did throw in a few shrimp because we just love them!!

Before I finish this posting, I would like to introduce you to a most wonderful blog.  Living Tastefully
is a delightful blog written by two sisters, Eileen and Susan.  They come from my part of the world...a small German village in Iowa.  We went to high school together although they both are a lot younger than me ..sigh.  Susan is the antique collector and Eileen is the baker, chef.  Together, they do beautiful things. They both have a love of Germany and France.   Eileen's pastries would rival any French Pâtisserie.  Take a moment to stroll through beautiful photographs, humorous stories, fantastic foods and home decorating that will awe you.  Tell them Susan sent you.  You won't be disappointed.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Beautiful orchids

 I found a real treat this morning at the downtown Farmer's Market.  We try to go every Saturday morning for the beautiful lettuce that is available. 

This morning, a new booth had opened and it was filled with orchids...lots of orchids.  Plants to buy and they lovely stems of orchids.  Eight long stems of perfect orchids for........$3.

I will enjoy these for a long time. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Cream Cheese and Raspberry Truffle Brownies

Years ago when The Trout was still working, I used to bake 4 or 5 varieties of brownies on his birthday and send a large box of them to work with him.  They always were well accepted and almost expected after several years. 

I will be the first to admit that I have not baked these two favorites in a very long time.  We just rarely eat sweets, but last night my neighbor had a birthday so we invited just the immediate friends in our neighborhood over for the Dulce de Leche ice cream and these brownies. 

Both recipes come from a 1994 "Country Woman" magazine.  If you are wanting very tasty brownies, these are simple to put together.  Don't buy that box stuff.  You just don't know what's in it!

Chocolate Cream Cheese Brownies
(in the foreground of photo)

1 package (4 ounces) German sweet chocolate
3 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract


2 tablespoons butter
1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a saucepan, melt chocolate and butter over low heat, stirring frequently.  Set aside.  In a bowl, beat the eggs.  Gradually add sugar, beating until thick.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt and add to egg mixture.  Stir in melted chocolate and extracts.

Pour half the batter into a greased 8 inch square baking pan and set aside.

For filling, beat butter and cream cheese in a mixing bowl until light.  Gradually add sugar, beating until fluffy.  Blend in egg, flour and vanilla and mix well.

Spread over batter in pan.  Dollop remaining batter over filling.  With a knife, cut through batter to create a marble effect.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until brownies test done.  Cool.  Store in refrigerator.  Yield:  about 2 dozen

Raspberry Truffle Brownies

1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon instant coffee crystals
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup all-purpose flour


1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/3 cup seedless red raspberry jam


1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon shortening

In a heavy saucepan, melt butter and chocolate chips over low heat.  Cool slightly.  In a large bowl, beat eggs and brown sugar.  Dissolve coffee crystals in water and add to egg mixture with melted chocolate.  Mix well.

Combine baking powder and flour and stir into chocolate mixture.  Spread in a greased 9 inch square baking pan.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or until brownies test done.  Cool.

For filling:  Melt chocolate chips, cool.  In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy.  Add confectioners' sugar and jam.  Stir in melted chocolate and spread over cool brownies.

For glaze:  Melt chocolates chips and shortening,  Drizzle over the filling.  Chill before cutting.  Store in the refrigerator.  Makes about 5 dozen, depending on the size you cut.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream

My blogger friend, Mary, at "One Perfect Bite" has won me over again. When I saw the recipe for her "Dulce le Leche" ice cream, I knew I had to make it. 

Mary's recipe is simple, especially if you can find the dulce de leche in the Hispanic section of your food market.  If not, Mary gives perfect directions on how to make your own.  Living in Florida, I had no problem finding this ingredient. 

My only advise is to have friends over so that when it is gone, it is gone and the temptation to keep going into the freezer is no longer lingering over you.

The taste is creamy, butterscotchy, caramely, well, you get the picture.  I know you will want to try it.