April 2012

very spring salad

Posted on April 28, 2012

We had this salad on Sunday and Monday. It is very spring, very light and very lovely. It also used up all of the fruit and veggies left over from our CSA Box—win-win.

Very Spring Salad, adapted from The Heart of the Artichoke by David Tanis
a few handfuls of arrugula
a few handfuls of lettuce
1 bunch radishes, cut into thin slices
1 small bulb fennel, cut into thin slices
2 oranges, cut into segments
2 T mint, finely chopped
2 T olive oil
juice of one lemon
salt and pepper

Toss the arrugula and lettuce together. Place in a platter or large dish. Slice radishes, fennel and mint finely. I used a mandolin to slice the radish and fennel. Sprinkle them on top of lettuce. Segment out the oranges and place on top. I segmented the oranges over the salad platter so that the juices from the orange fell into the salad. Just before serving, drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Now, isn’t that an adorable radish?

-Emily

cinnamon toast ice cream

Posted on April 25, 2012

Two factors were at play that resulted in the creation of this dessert. First, cinnamon toast is a favorite breakfast treat around these parts. Second, last Sunday I made an angel food cake to bring to our friend Jeff and Peter’s *new* place.

I wish I could claim that the inspiration for this amazing ice cream was my own. But alas, it was inspired by dessert at The Boxing Room. A few months ago, I had the best day ever. It started by sleeping in with my boy and my puppy. Then the boy went to work and some lovely old friends picked me up. We drove over to the house (complete with back porch!) of some really wonderful new friends. We sat on the back porch and devoured a cooler of fabulously fresh oysters and some wine and cheese. Something like 100 oysters split between six people! Did I mention it was 70 degrees and we were sitting outside in the sunshine? Yep, this is all true.

We wrapped up the oyster feast and then I came home to change. I put on a pretty dress and met Jordan at the San Francisco ballet. He looked really handsome in his fancy clothes. We enjoyed the ballet and then went out to dinner at The Boxing Room, a fabulous southern restaurant with emphasis on the creole just around the corner.

After some soul-satisfying creole cuisine, we had dessert … cinnamon toast ice cream. It was amazing—a hint of vanilla, a hint of cinnamon and a hint of buttered toast. But how did they get the buttered toast flavor? I had to know and so I asked the waiter. He said the chef soaked brioche in the custard overnight to infuse the buttered bread flavor into the ice cream. Genius.

Fast forward two months and we’re here. I merged two of David Lebovitz’s recipes for the custard and followed the bread soaking advice of our waiter. The results are phenomenal. Ice cream that tastes like buttered toast? Yes, sign me up.

Cinnamon Toast Ice Cream, adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz and The Boxing Room in San Francisco
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
a pinch of salt
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
5 egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream
1 t vanilla extract
3 slices brioche bread

Heat the whole milk, sugar, salt, vanilla bean and cinnamon sticks over low heat until it is just about to simmer. Turn off the heat, cover and set aside for the vanilla and cinnamon to infuse for about an hour. After an hour, reheat the milk to just simmering. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Temper the eggs by pouring the hot milk into the bowl slowly while whisking. Put the egg and milk mixture back into the saucepan. Heat over low heat until the custard begins to thicken and is just about to boil. Strain through a mesh strainer back into the bowl and whisk in the cream. Once it has cooled slightly, add the vanilla. Cool the custard over an ice bath. Cut the brioche slices in half and then submerge them in the custard. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, strain out the brioche and squeeze the out custard that is has absorbed. Freeze in an ice cream maker. Ta-da! A miraculous ice cream that tastes just like cinnamon toast, but much richer.

-Emily

Ps. Apologies on the lack of a final product photo. It was too quickly eaten, but you can use your imagination.

in the name of all things pancetta

Posted on April 23, 2012

Goodness me, we’ve reached a whole new level of pork devotion and oh it is glorious. During the past month, we’ve been busy—busy curing our own pork! Inspired by our friend Jessi and in collaboration with our supper club (food nerdom complete), we made pancetta. Pancetta is basically the Italian version of unsmoked bacon—pork belly that has been seasoned, rolled into a log and hung for a few weeks to cure. It’s typically cut into thin slices or small cubes then sautéed and added to pasta or vegetable dishes.

Because it takes about three weeks total to prepare, pancetta is certainly a commitment—of both time and closet space. But it is worth it, especially if you have a few friends to split the resulting 8 pounds of pancetta with.

Home-cured pancetta is complex. It is herby and slightly sweet, porky but also a little beefy. We were surprised by how many different flavors the pork belly acquired during the three-week curing process.

We followed the recipe from Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn. You can also find a step by step guide of the recipe complete with videos from Chow. Because their instructions are so thorough, I am going to skip the detail and just go with a photo overview of the process.

First you rub the slab of pork belly with herbs (rosemary, thyme, juniper berries), pepper, sugar and salt.

Make sure you really massage those seasonings into the belly.

Then wrap the pork belly in large plastic bags and put it in your fridge under a heavy pot or pan. Refrigerate it for a week, flipping it once a day.

After a week of refrigeration, take the pork belly out and wash of the seasonings. Pat it dry and sprinkle a bunch of cracked peppercorns on the inside. Roll it up nice and tight and truss those puppies.

Hang in a cool, dark place with some air circulation (and out of puppy’s reach) for two weeks. Ours replaced our jackets in the hall closet. Oh it just made us smile when we opened the door to grab our shoes and saw two gigantic logs of pork hanging there.

After two weeks, cut the pancetta down and slice off any little bits of mold. Slice into one-inch thick slices and share with your best foodie friends!

So far we’ve made spaghetti alla carbonara and pasta with vodka sauce. I’m thinking pancetta wrapped asparagus next. Any other ideas for me?

-Emily

scrambled eggs with asparagus and cheddar

Posted on April 19, 2012

Jordan and I had a pretty lovely brunch for two last Saturday. The night before I had made a few different tapas. With leftover bits and pieces from that meal, some refrigerator odds and ends and a little inspiration from Jose Andres, we made this surprisingly great dish.

Scrambled eggs with Asparagus and Cheddar, adapted from A Taste of Spain by Jose Andres
A few stalks of asparagus, sliced into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup shallot, sliced (onion or green onions would work great also)
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 T olive oil
4 eggs
2 T milk
salt and pepper
1 T butter
1/4 cup cheddar cheese, grated (any cheese would probably be just fine)

Whisk together eggs, milk, a good pinch of salt and some pepper. In a nonstick saute pan, saute the asparagus, shallot and garlic in a little olive oil over medium heat. Saute for about 5 minutes until the asparagus is just tender. Remove from the pan and set aside. Turn the heat to low and add the butter.

When the butter is foamy, pour in the eggs. Scramble them taking care to not let the eggs burn or over cook. Runny scrambled eggs are a good and tasty thing. When your scrambled eggs are just cooked, scoop them into a bowl and top with the cheddar and asparagus. Enjoy with some fresh fruit, leftover potatoes, and coffee.

-Emily

roasted leg of lamb with spring vegetables

Posted on April 17, 2012

Well, well, this post is a bit delayed considering I cooked the lamb on Easter, but it was delicious and most certainly worth writing about. Holidays around these parts mostly focus on the food and to celebrate Easter I cooked my first leg of lamb. I love lamb, but rarely have a reason to cook more than a few shanks or meatballs—being a family of two and all. This year I decided to go all out and invited 10 people plus a leg of spring lamb to the party!

I used Judy Rodger’s recipe from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook. Her roasted meats have never let us astray. For this recipe, you’ll want to salt and tie the meat a day or two in advance, but it will only take about an hour to cook and rest. It is crucial not to overcook the lamb and loose the tenderness of a young lamb.

Roasted Leg of Lamb with Spring Vegetables, from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook
One 3-4 lb leg of spring lamb, off the bone
1 branch rosemary, leaves stripped off
6 cloves garlic, smashed
salt
kitchen twine

For the sauce
2 T butter
2 T flour
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 chicken broth
salt and pepper

For the vegetables
2 bunches carrots, sliced in half lengthwise
2 bunches spring onions, sliced lengthwise thinly
2 bunches beets, cut into quarters
olive oil
salt and pepper

One day before you plan to cook the lamb, salt both the inside and outside of the lamb leg. Judy recommends a scant 3/4 teaspoon of sea salt per pound of meat. I followed this recommendation and it was perfection.  On the inside of the leg, press the garlic cloves into the flesh and sprinkle with the rosemary. Tie up the leg like a typical roast. Wrap lightly in the paper from the butcher or plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Two hours to three before you plan to cook the lamb, take it out of the fridge and bring it to room temperature. This is also a crucial step. Preheat an oven to 400 degrees.

Meanwhile, scrub and slice the vegetables. Toss them with some olive oil, salt and pepper and arrange them in a roasting pan with room for the roast in the center.

Once your roast has come to temperature, place it and the vegetables in the oven. A 3 – 4 pound roast will cook for about 40 minutes. You’ll want the internal temperature to 124 degrees at the thickest part of the leg for a just-pink roast. I’d recommend you check it a few times while cooking.

Once your roast has reached the correct temperature, remove it from the oven and place on a cutting board. Tent it with foil and let it rest for 15 – 20 minutes while you make the pan sauce.

Remove the veggies from the pan and place in a serving dish. Turn your oven to warm and put the veggies inside.

Place the roasting pan over two burners over medium heat. We didn’t have much fat in the pan so we added some butter. Once the butter is foaming, add the flour and cook until light brown. Deglaze with some red wine. Add the chicken broth and let the sauce reduce until thickened slightly.  Season with salt and pepper and pour into a serving dish.

Slice the lamb into 1/2 inch slices. Serve with veggies and a spoonful of sauce. We also served mashed potatoes to sop up that glorious lamb sauce. Super easy, minimal active cooking time and a crowd pleaser.

-Emily

fettuccine alfredo with asparagus

Posted on April 9, 2012

Yay! Asparagus season is officially upon us! I love asparagus and happen to think it goes just wonderfully with cheese. Exhibit A: Grilled Cheese with Asparagus and Preserved Lemons. Exhibit B: Fettuccine Alfredo with Asparagus.

Fettuccine Alfredo with Asparagus
1 bunch asparagus
2/3 lb fettuccine
2 T butter
1 cup cream
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 cups parmesan, grated
salt and pepper

Put a large pot of salted water to boil. Slice the asparagus into one inch slices. In a small saucepan over low heat, heat the cream, butter and garlic. Once simmering, whisk in the parmesan. Season well with salt and pepper.

Add the pasta to the boiling water. After the pasta has cooked for 10 minutes, add the asparagus to the boiling water. Cook another 2 – 3 minutes and drain. Pour the sauce over the hot pasta. Toss and enjoy!

This is a real crowd pleaser and super easy to make, plus the asparagus addition makes it seem slightly less indulgent. Just do it. Your friends and lovers will be thrilled. And there’s few things better than being happy and full.

-Emily

grilled cheese with asparagus and preserved lemons

Posted on April 4, 2012

Like I said, cheese sandwiches are all the rage. I had a version of this sandwich at Mission Cheese Shop a few weekends ago and it was delicious. I had to recreate it at home for Jordan.

Grilled Cheese with Asparagus and Preserved Lemons
4 slices of sourdough bread
2/3 cup fontina cheese, grated
1 T butter
4 stalks asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 preserved lemon, cut into very thin slices

Turn on the broiler. Spread the asparagus on a baking sheet. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil the asparagus for a few minutes, until al dente and browned slightly.

Spread the bread with butter. Heat a nonstick saucepan over low heat. Put the bread in the pan butter side down, layer with cheese, asparagus and preserved lemon, top with another slice of bread. Cover the pan and let cook for about 5 minutes, until golden brown. Flip and cook the other side until golden. Cut in half and serve hot.

-Emily

grilled cheese and tomato soup

Posted on April 1, 2012

Cheese sandwiches have been pretty popular in Chez Jojonoodle as of late. We’re both in the thick of things at work and at school; we need quick and satisfying meals in a big way. Bread + cheese + hot pan = an undeniably good thing in less than 15 minutes. Plus, not much goes better with grilled cheese on a rainy day than tomato soup.

For the Grilled Cheese
4 slices sourdough bread
2/3 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 T butter

For the Tomato Soup
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 T olive oil
1 – 32 oz can whole tomatoes
1 T balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
salt and pepper

In a dutch oven or large saucepan, saute the onion in olive oil over medium heat. Once translucent, add the garlic and saute for a few more minutes. Add the tomatoes and their liquid, vinegar, sugar and a good pinch of salt to the onion mixture. Simmer for 20 minutes and then puree. Season with more salt and pepper.

While the soup is simmering, spread the butter the bread. Heat a non-stick pan over low heat, place the bread butter side down, spread an even layer of  cheese and top with another slice of bread. Cover the pan. Let cook for about 5 minutes until golden brown and flip. Cook the other side until golden brown and serve alongside a warm bowl of tomato soup!

-Emily