Everyday Gourmet

Everyday Gourmet
We've got a whisk, and we know how to use it!

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Benefits of Hoarding

Sometimes I have trouble throwing things away. My grandmother once scolded me for throwing away some used tin foil she had kept since The Great Depression. Consequently, my house has little piles of things I feel guilty about throwing away in almost every cobwebby corner. Many of the piles have something to do with cooking. I need to clean out most of these corners. This once, however, I was really, really glad that I hadn’t.

In the midst of one of those stacks was an old Bon Appétit magazine. It was the September 1995 issue, and yes, I still have it, along with almost every other issue for the last 15 years. The cover picture (as often happens with my favorite cooking magazines) made my mouth water. I recognized this recipe. I made it within the first week of receiving the issue back in the days when I had time to read an entire magazine and time to test out some of the recipes on my friends. I STILL remember how much I loved this recipe, as is evidenced by the splatters, stains, and stickiness of page 16.

Bon Appétit printed this fusion recipe in their R.S.V.P. section, which is the portion of the magazine where they print recipes requested from restaurants all over the world. The recipe came from a restaurant all the way around the world and back – Tucson, Arizona. Presidio Grill to be exact. It combines pasta with chicken, garlic, basil, poblano chilies, and prosciutto. The richness, spiciness, and beautiful coloring of this dish deserve a bold red wine – a fusion of sorts to match the fusion of flavors in the pasta dish.

When I spouted off the list of ingredients to winemaker Bill Peper, he immediately thought of one of his new wines that he hopes to call “Mammoth Red.” Bill is one of the founders of the soon-to-be winery Valley Mills Vineyards Winery, right here in Central Texas. Among other yummy-sounding wines, he is developing this exciting five-varietal blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Lenoir, Tinta Cão, and Tempranillo. Sounds rich. Bill said he will bring a drop of it by Gourmet Gallery. In the mean time, keep your eyes, ears, and taste buds open to learn about the Valley Mills Vineyards Winery. I know I’m excited about it. If you have enough time, maybe you can pair it with this recipe, too.

Linguine with Chicken, Garlic and Basil
From Bon Appétit, September 1995

¼ c plus 1 T olive oil
¼ c minced garlic

¾ lb linguine (A homemade pasta from one of Gourmet Gallery’s pasta making classes would be ideal.)

1 ½ lb skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
2 poblano chilies, seeded, cut into matchstick-size strips
3 tomatoes, seeded and diced
½ c thinly sliced fresh basil
4 oz prosciutto, chopped
2 T (1/4 stick) butter

1 c freshly-grated parmesan cheese

Heat ¼ cup oil in heavy small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until light golden brown, about six minutes. Strain oil into glass measuring cup; reserve garlic. Add enough oil to measuring cup to measure ¼ cup. Set aside.

Cook linguine in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bit, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, heat reserved oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and sauté five minutes.

Add poblanos and sauté two minutes. Add tomatoes, ¼ c basil, prosciutto, and 2 T cooked garlic and sauté until chicken is cooked through, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add butter and stir just until melted.

Drain linguine and place in large bowl. Add chicken mixture and 1/2 c parmesan; toss to coat. Season with salt and freshly-ground black or pink pepper (depending on how spicy you want it). Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 c basil and 2 T cooked garlic. Serve with remaining Parmesan.

Serve with salad greens with a mild vinaigrette sweetened slightly with some local honey (no herbs so you don’t detract from the full flavors of the pasta) and a bit of crusty bread. While you are enjoying this tasty recipe and your second glass of Mammoth Red, look around you to see what treasure you might discover in the dark, cobwebbed corners of your home. For once you might be glad that you haven’t cleaned for awhile. My grandmother would be proud.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Flat Irons and Red Cabooses

Fall Favorites - Flat Irons and Red Cabooses

Gourmet Gallery is offering our first Flavors of Fall cooking class for 2010 on Saturday, September 18 Soups, Stews, and Chilies Class. Check out our website for more information at www.GourmetGalleryWaco.com.

It takes so little for me to get excited about Autumn. The slightest change in weather stirs that expectant waiting of warming comfort foods, colorful leaves, football, fall picnics, red wine. To celebrate the harbingers of Fall, Jo Ann, Caryl, Molly, and I went to the Red Caboose Winery in Meridian, TX. Whether or not you are a wine drinker, this is a beautiful place to visit. The facility is GREEN; the people are warm and inviting; the wines are enticing and delicious.

We tasted a few wines, but my favorite, especially for Fall, was a Syrah-Malbec that will knock your socks off, or, as winemaker Evan McKibben phrased it, “It really hits you in the face.” He meant it in a good way, and he’s right. It’s a hearty, earthy wine that is rich enough to stand up to any steak or Texas bar-b-que yet mellow enough to complement a piece of dark chocolate. My family and I shared two bottles of it on Labor Day with a medium-rare flat iron steak. (Recipe to follow.) The steak was fantastic, but the wine really set it off.

Red Caboose winery has a Cork and Fork the last Friday of the month. They sell wine by the glass and by the bottle. You can take your own picnic and enjoy the lovely scenery. The folks at the winery suggested we bring our own lawn chairs to ensure a seat. You can find out more at www.redcaboosewinery.com. If you go, please tell them you found out about us from the girls at Gourmet Gallery. Maybe they will come to Waco to do a tasting for us! In the meantime, pack up a picnic and get ready for a beautiful Autumn. To me, it’s the best time of the year to experience the feelings, tastes, and smells of the outdoors.

Grilled Flat Iron Steak*

This recipe is modified from one my mom found on Allrecipes.com. Theirs was cooked in a nonstick skillet. Truth be known, I simply didn’t want to spend the money to feed my whole family. When Mom said she had some of these “new, trendy”steaks in her freezer, it was a lucky day. The steaks were fantastic thanks to a good recipe and Caryl’s grilling expertise. The few remaining leftovers made a wonderful steak salad.

2 lbs flat iron steak*
2 ½ T unfiltered olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T chopped fresh rosemary
1 T shallot, minced
¼ cup hearty red wine (don’t waste your Red Caboose on this, though! Any nice red will do.)
½ t salt
¾ t fresh-ground black pepper
1 t dry mustard powder
1 T meat tenderizer, such as Adolph’s

Sprinkle tenderizer on both sides of steaks. In a small bowl mix the olive oil, garlic, rosemary, shallots, salt, pepper, wine, and mustard powder. Pour over steaks. Cover tightly and marinate in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Grill over medium-hot coals for about 3-4 minutes per side. Let rest for five minutes, then slice across the grain into thin slices.

Serve with jasmine rice and a colorful green salad, or use on rolls for a delicious sandwich to take to
Red Caboose Winery. Don’t forget the deviled eggs and a hunk of dark chocolate to go with the Syrah-Malbec.

*Flat iron steaks are a fairly-recently “discovered” a thin cut that is surprisingly lean and tender. Scientists were trying to find a way to minimize the wasted cut from the shoulder of the cow. According to About.com, these “friendly scientists” found a way to take out the thick connective tissue that made the cut undesirable. Like other thin cuts, flat iron steaks, also known as “top blade steaks,” benefit from marinating and from cooking no more than medium-rare. This cut also makes a wonderful chili or beef stew.

Happing cooking and eating!

Please see our website at www.GourmetGallery.com for a complete listing of our cooking classes.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Beautiful Mediterranean Appetizers

At Gourmet Gallery we occasionally offer a “Mediterranean Menu” class in conjunction with MClennan Community CollegeC. MCC’s Karen Hix has taught these classes for us, and she returns this week for a 2-class series on Mediterranean foods. Karen is Lebanese and Scottish. Fortunately for us, her Lebanese mother’s cooking expertise (read Mediterranean) beat out the haggis and blood pudding influence her father brought to the union. Thus we have a Mediterranean Menu cooking class by the Scottish/Lebanese- American, Karen Hix. Boy, are we glad!

Her menu will dig into appetizers and salads, main dishes and desserts. No shortage of flavor in these lessons. Below are a couple of recipes that she WON’T be making, some that we have come to love and rely on for our own appetizers classes, parties, and pot-luck events. They are always hits; so, try them even if they seem a little unusual to you.

Baked Pita Chips
Cut split pita rounds into even triangles with a knife or pizza cutter. Place on a cookie sheet. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle sea salt lightly on top of triangles. Bake at 350° F for about 10 minutes, until crisp and lightly browned.

Feta Cheese, Roasted Red Pepper and Pine Nut Dip

6 oz feta cheese ½ c finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
¼ tsp minced garlic Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup sour cream ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
4 oz cream cheese at room temperature Pita chips, crackers or crudités for serving
1 roasted red bell pepper, diced


Combine the feta, garlic, sour cream, and cream cheese in a food processor, pulse until the ingredients are just combined. Scrape the feta mixture into a bowl and stir in the red pepper and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Just before serving, spoon the dip into a serving bowl and scatter the toasted pine nuts on top. Serve with pita chips, crackers or crudités.

Pita Nachos with Hummus and Greek Salsa

1 serrano chile, minced 2 tsp red wine vinegar
½ c diced red onion ½ tsp salt
1 large tomato seeded and diced Pita chips
½ medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced 1 ½ cups hummus*
1 T chopped fresh Mint ½ grated aged mizithra cheese
3 T olive oil

In a medium bowl, combine the chile, onion, tomato, cucumber, and mint. Add the olive oil, vinegar, and salt and toss to coat. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Arrange the pita wedges on a large platter. Scatter dollops of hummus on top of the pita chips. Spoon the tomato mixture over them and sprinkle with the cheese. Serve immediately.

*Hummus is a dip made from garbanzo beans, tahini paste (optional), and olive oil. There are lots of great recipes for it, or you can use purchased hummus from just about any grocery store. Karen Hix teaches us how to make hummus (a staple at her house) at her next class.

Dates with Prosciutto and Bleu Cheese
We won “Best Appetizer” at the Waco ISD Education Foundation Cook-off this year with this recipe. It sounds weird, but it’s really fabulous!

24 dates
1 c quality bleu cheese
12 thin slices prosciutto (the best you can find at the market)
Aged, sweet balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 375° F. Cut the date in half and remove the pit. Place a teaspoon of bleu cheese in cavity and pack in slightly. Wrap the date with a thin strip of prosciutto, knotting or criss-crossing it on the top of the date. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake in the oven until the prosciutto is toasted and the cheese is warm, about 12 minutes.

(These can be assembled two weeks ahead and kept in an airtight container in the freezer. Remove from freezer and bake per above directions.)