Monday, January 28, 2008

Braised veal w/ roast shallots & wild mushrooms

I made this yesterday for one of my clients and just played around with it a little. I didn't have a recipe for it but it worked out pretty good. I like making one pot meals because I don't have to wash up too much which is always good and it works great when you've a couple of people coming over and serving food family style. EASY.
1 lb. veal cutlets
1/2 lb. shallots - peeled and left whole
2 large portabello mushrooms - sliced
1/4 lb. button mushrooms - sliced
1/4 lb. oyster mushrooms - halved if large
1 16 oz. tin chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup chicken broth / water
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 lg. sprigs fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic- minced
olive oil
Pre-heat oven 350 degrees

Begin by sauteing your mushrooms in 2 tbsps. olive oil in a medium hot saute pan for 5 mins, mixing occasionally. It might look like too much oil but the mushrooms will soak it up. Add in your garlic and saute for another 3-4 mins. You'll find some water will come out of the mushrooms so keep cooking 'til it's almost evaporated. Add in your wine and let it reduce for 2 mins. Add your tomatoes, thyme and whole shallots. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 - 15 mins.
While the sauce is cooking, mix your flour and cinnamon with a sprinkle S&P. You're going to dredge or coat the veal in the flour mixture, sprinke off any excess. In a medium hot saute pan sear both sides 'til golden in 1 tbsp. olive oil. Do these in batches, maybe 2 at a time so the pan holds it's heat. You also want to wipe out the pan with a dry towel after each time you saute so the leftover flour doesn't burn. Once golden on each side set on some paper towel to drain.
To finish, put your mushroom mixture in an oven proof dish and lay your veal in and around. You want the veal to absorb the flavors so mix them in the sauce. Add 1 cup chicken broth and cover with foil. Pop it in the oven for approx. 1 hour. Check them after 30 mins to see if there's enough liquid. If you think it looks dry and more broth or water. You want the veal to be so tender it almost falls apart. You'll love the cinnamon flavor that comes through, not too over-powering I think. Wanted to squeeze one last recipe in before the end of the month, job done!

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Here's another cheap 'n' cheerful idea for you all. With the weather being pretty bad right now, soup is an easy, quick and cheap option. Although chowder is usually made with milk or cream I decided to play around with the idea of making it vegan. I've made this soup a few times and eventually decided on this recipe. Corn doesn't come into season until the summer but it lasts 'til December so you may find good quality corn still in the market. If you want, use tinned corn for the base of the soup and fresh kernels for the garnish.
1/2 medium white onion - thinly sliced
2 small cloves garlic - minced
1 tsp. fresh ginger - grated
1 tbsp. jalapeno - fine dice
1 quart (4 cups) - vegetable broth
2 corn on the cob or 1 16oz can
1/2 red pepper -thinly sliced
7 oz. soft/silken tofu (approx 1/2 a block)
2 tbsp. fresh cilantro (coriander)
2 tbsp. olive oil
S&P to taste

Pre-heat soup pot on medium heat.
Add 1 tbsp. olive oil along with onions and cook for 2 mins. Add garlic and jalapeno and stir. Keep an eye on the onions as you don't want them to color. Meanwhile, remove the kernels from the cobs. In a pre-heated saute pan add 1 tbsp. olive oil and saute the kernels from one of the cobs along with the sliced pepper. Saute on medium to low heat for 5-6 mins or until softened. Set aside. Add your broth to the soup pot along with the 2 cobs having removed the kernels. Also add your grated ginger.

This soup should simmer for 1/2 hour to get the flavor of the corn cobs. When ready, remove the cobs and discard. Blend soup in stages along with the tofu and cilantro. If you want a very creamy consistency add more tofu. NOTE: be careful not to over-fill the blender with hot liquid as it will expand. Make sure you hold the lid on tightly when turning it on or otherwise it might blow up in your face. Not good!

You want the soup to reach a creamy consistency. Season to taste.
To Serve: Add some of the sauteed kernels and red pepper to each bowl.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Have you ever thought about what you'd want to eat as your last meal? I hadn't really until I saw this book by Melanie Dunea, with introduction by Anthony Bourdain. It asks the same questions to each chef: What would you have? Where would you have it? What would you drink? Who would you be with? Who would cook it? You've got the most elite men and women in the culinary world featured here from Raymond Blanc to Nobu to Charlie Trotter with 47 others in between. You'll recognise a lot of the names and others you won't until now.
For me this book is great 'cause it gives a little insight into what makes them tick. I liked when I heard Ramsay's last meal would be roast beef and Yorkshire pudding with wine at home with the wife and kids, because I can relate to it, well without the kids part. However, when I went on to read about Martin Picard who would have a multi course meal: a kilo of caviar, truffles- black and white, cured foie gras...with wine, champagne and vodka...for me, a bit over the top, but whatever floats your boat!
Once you've amused yourself with the pictures, (visualise Jamie Oliver with the Union Jack and a naked Anthony Bourdain holding a cow's leg by his manhood) a great added bonus are the recipes in the back. Each chef gave their last supper recipe, like Thomas Keller's Roast Chicken recipe and Wylie Dufresne's Burger with Fried Egg. It's good to see that just because these masters of the kitchen are renowned for their genius, at the end of the day they like the simple things too.
And yes, I've been thinking about it...What would my last supper be? There's a little pub not far from my hometown called Spillane's. It's located next to a very small harbour which over-looks the Atlantic ocean. I can see myself sitting there with my friends, having a homemade crab sandwich on freshly baked soda bread and a pint of Guinness on a beautiful summers day. Sounds good right? Ireland in summer, where else would you be? On the other hand because we only get 3 days of summer a year it might be a bit of a gamble so I think I'll go to Tahiti instead. I'm sure I can get a crab sandwich there!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

January's Cheap 'n' Cheerful

January's best known for a couple of reasons. Lots of new gym memberships, in most of which the people only last a few weeks so good news if you own the gym, and the other is people wanting to eat better and probably a little cheaper after the holidays.

We all over-indulged a bit over the past month or so with food and spending so I decided to dedicate January as the Cheap and Cheerful month for cooking, and by cheap I don't mean bland. I'll show you easy, delicious, rather inexpensive and always healthy recipes all month long. I cooked this one when I was back in Ireland for my sister's family. We were all sick of eating the leftover Christmas food and needed something clean and simple so this seemed to fit the bill.

4 servings

4 x 4oz wild Pacific halibut (any firm white fish such as Pacific cod or black sea bass will do)
1 x red pepper - thinly sliced
1 x yellow pepper - thinly sliced
1 x green pepper - thinly sliced
1 cup oyster mushrooms (button, brown, or whatever you like) - quartered
2 cups broccoli florets
1/2 bunch asparagus (not Britney) spears (12 spears approx) - halved
1/2 cup white wine
2 cloves garlic - minced
1 tbsp. oregano - chopped
1 x lemon - zested
1 tbsp. olive oil

This is an all in one dish so is perfect if you have some friends coming over.
Pre-heat oven 400 degrees.
Saute the peppers with the garlic for 5 mins. on medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook for another 2 mins. Season w/ S&P. Add white wine and oregano, reduce for 2 mins. on high heat. While this is going on, prepare the fish. You have two options here. I decided to sear the halibut on med. high heat in a saute pan with 1/2 tbsp. olive oil to give them a nice golden color. Sear for about 2-3 mins. on both sides, though you don't have to. If you prefer the nice white color of the fish or don't have time, simply season with S&P and set aside until needed. Next get a sheet pan and some aluminum foil. Tear off enough foil that measures twice the length of your sheet pan. With the foil on your pan place your cooked pepper mixture in center of pan. Spread the broccoli florets and asparagus around and place seared or raw fish on top. Sprinkle lemon zest over everything.
Fold the extra foil over the fish and gently seal the sides together. You want to make sure all the juices and steam stay inside. Cook for 10 - 12 mins. in pre-heated oven. You'll know the fish is done by touching it--it should be firm. Also, if it's flaky and white all the way through, you're golden. (See above photo for example)

To serve: I made some wasabi mashed potatoes which worked brilliantly, if I do say so myself!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Murphy's Irish Christmas

As you all saw in the previous blog, we went to the homeland for Christmas. Had a great time and as expected it rained for 10 out of our 12 days. Not surprising but just meant we had to go to the pub more. No other option really, was there? Pretty much ate and drank the whole time which was great. Lots of lazy days and there's nothing like home-cooking is there?

We ate in a few of the local restaurants which were ok. We did go to a pub/restaurant called The Tankard, near my home town which serves mainly seafood. That was good. All the seafood is caught locally and it's near the main port so the fishermen drink in the bar. I thought that was great. Since I moved to the States, I have noticed the number of ethnic restaurants has increased at home. We ate in a Thai restaurant one night and I have to say it was very good. At least it was run by a Thai couple unlike the Italian place I went to which was run by some Romainians. Not an Italian in sight. Pretty bad.

I found that a lot more people at home are now willing to try different types of food which is great, unlike when I was growing up our only choices were sheperds pie, lasagne and bacon & cabbage. Always good but I love the fact that, from a food point of view, with the EU being an open market Ireland is now multi-cultural so people are able to eat all types of food any night of the week.

We had a great time but was glad to get away from the wind and rain. I think I've become California spoiled! Glad to be back!