Saturday, January 30, 2010
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Monday, January 18, 2010
I've enjoyed many couscous dishes over the years, but thought it was time for me to try something a little different. So, I decided to take the best components of an antipasto platter, mix in a little couscous and fry them up into little crispy cakes. I used kalamata olives, parmesan cheese, roasted tomatoes and sopressata, toasted pine nuts and, the kicker, red wine vinegar. The strong, salty flavors mingle with the mellow cheese, and the red wine vinegar adds a tangy bite. You can serve these Antipasto Couscous Cakes as appetizers, on top of salads or as a main dish.
I was pleased and excited to see that the dish was an Editors' Pick on the site, which is kind of like an honorable mention. Thanks, Amanda and Merrill!
Even better, my friend Abbie's recipe for Cedar Plank Grilled Loup De Mer is a finalist on the site this week! If she wins, her great dish will be featured in the food52 cookbook. So, please take a moment to go to the site and if you like her recipe, and I think you will, vote for her! Abbie is an excellent, creative cook and never fails to inspire me.
Antipasto Couscous Cakes
1 cup grape tomatoes
2 cups couscous, cooked and chilled (I prefer whole wheat couscous)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup diced sopressata
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup kalamata olives, sliced
1.5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
pinch crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper, to taste
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
2.5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
olive oil, for frying
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place tomatoes into a large plastic freezer bag, drizzle in olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, then arrange tomatoes on a parchment or Silpat-lined cookie sheet, and roast for 20-30 minutes. Cool and slice in half.
Toast pine nuts over medium heat in a small pan, then cool.
Put couscous into a large bowl. Mix in garlic, sopressata, parmesan, olives, roasted tomatoes, red wine vinegar, pine nuts, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper.
Beat egg and egg yolk with a fork, the fold into couscous mixture. Gently add basil and sprinkle in flour, stirring until well combined.
Chill couscous for at least 30 minutes. Heat a large skillet over medium flame and add enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom. Scoop couscous with a 1/4 cup measure, press firmly into cup, then tap gently into your hand and mold into cakes with your hands. Place carefully into oil.
Repeat. Add more oil only if needed.
Fry couscous cakes until golden and crisp on both sides, drain on paper towels, let cool a few moments and serve. These are tasty at room temperature, as well.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
El Barzon, on Junction, just south of Michigan Ave., is owned by Norberto and Silvia Garita. Norberto spent eight years at Il Posto in Southfield, perfecting pastas and other Italian specialties. Silvia focuses on the traditional recipes of their native Puebla, Mexico. The couple has been in the States for 30 years, much of that time working at restaurants in New York.
The secret to El Barzon is everything is made from scratch, and the Garitas' source many ingredients locally. The simple, unassuming atmosphere is casual and comforting. Come as you are, feel free to bring the family, and relax.
On our menu:
-Housemade tortilla chips with spicy, fire-roasted red and creamy, cilantro infused green salsa. Best chips and salsa in town. Pair with a Mexican beer.
-Perfectly cooked crisp calamari with zucchini strips and tomato sauce. The zucchini strips are a thoughtful touch, and the sauce is spiked with herbs, olive oil and a touch of garlic. So flavorful.
-Veal chop stuffed with prosciutto and cheese, topped with a truffle sauce; potato gratin and sauteed spinach. A decadent, gorgeous dish. Truly memorable.
-Squid ink linguine with shrimp, crab and red sauce. Sweet and savory all at once.
The veal and linguine were specials, but the regular menu is vast and tempting. The portions are generous -- we ate half of everything and brought the rest home -- and the prices modest. For more on El Barzon, see Nicole Ray's piece in the fall issue of edibleWOW (the story's not online, sorry).
If you haven't been to El Barzon yet, I encourage you to go. Soon. Let's not keep this secret to ourselves any longer.
Monday, January 4, 2010
Beef short ribs are a tender, succulent cut that lend themselves to long, slow cooking. They are versatile and adaptable -- you can infuse them with all manner of flavors, including French, Korean and Italian.
This recipe calls for braising, a simple technique that coaxes maximum flavor and tenderness out of any cut. You brown the meat in a big pot, add your aromatics, herbs and braising liquid -- usually wine and/or stock) and then leave it alone for a few hours to work its magic. The result is meltingly soft and silky.
Sunday, January 3, 2010
2 T olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced shallots
4 cloves minced garlic