Tag Archives: Day

Mother’s Day Brunch – Shaved Asparagus Salad with Crispy Prosciutto

Photo by KathyHuntPhoto.com

I have plans to spend Mothers Day with my mom this year but I won’t have the opportunity to cook for her. For those of you that will, and with Mothers Day a little more than a week away, I wanted to come up with a couple of recipes on a brunch theme with just the touch of class that moms so much deserve.

This simple but classy salad will be the first of several Mothers Day recipes and although it is intended as a salad course for a brunch menu…with a poached egg perched on top (and a warm crusty baguette) this salad made for an elegant yet light dinner entrée for my wife and I last night.

After first slicing the whole tips off of the asparagus spears, I used a vegetable peeler to “whittle” the rest of the stem into shavings. This was a little awkward at first but once I got the hang of it I breezed through the bunch almost before the pot of water even came to the boil. Don’t fuss too much with this step; the rusticity of the shavings add to the appeal of this dish.

I make it a point to mention not to over-dress the salad because last night, I pretty much did just that. I think our dish would have been perfect with a little less of the dressing. This too isn’t complicated, just add the dressing a little at a time until the asparagus is “just” coated. This is also why I emphasize getting the asparagus as dry as possible after blanching it. The point is simply; this salad is best if you don’t drench it with the dressing…use a gentle touch and all will be good!

Shaved Asparagus Salad with Crispy Prosciutto

1 Bunch – Asparagus (about 1 Lb.), tough bottoms trimmed away
1 – Med Shallot, diced small
¼ Cup – Prosciutto, thin sliced and cut into (roughly) 1/8” wide strips
¼ Cup – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Juice of – 1 Fresh Lemon
1 Tbsp – Sherry Vinegar
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

Asiago Cheese, for garnish
Green Onion, green parts only, for garnish

Bring a large pot of water to a boil along with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Meanwhile, cutting at a sharp angle, slice the tips off of the asparagus then using a vegetable peeler, shave the remaining stems into roughly 1 to 2 inch pieces. Place all of the asparagus into a sieve or strainer (that will fit into the pot) and lower it into the boiling water to blanch for 1 minute. Remove the asparagus from the boiling water and rinse under cold water for at least 1 minute to stop the cooking process. Discard the water.

Spread the asparagus on a paper towel lined cookie sheet and pat dry then move the asparagus to another paper towel lined cookie sheet to make sure excess water is removed. Allow to air dry 10 to 15 minutes before placing it in a medium sized mixing bowl.

Heat a medium sauté pan over medium heat and when hot add the olive oil. Stir in the prosciutto strips and cook until dark (but not too dark), 1 to 2 minutes. Strain the prosciutto, reserving the oil. Spread the prosciutto on a paper towel to crisp and return the oil to the pan.

Sauté the shallots about 1 minute, until they just begin to turn transparent, then add a few good grinds of fresh black pepper and the lemon juice. Boil and reduce until the lemon juice begins to turn syrupy, about one minute more. Add the vinegar, return to a boil while stirring, then remove the pan from the heat.

Using a slotted spoon remove most of the shallots from the pan and transfer these to the bowl of asparagus. Set aside some of the prosciutto for garnish then stir the rest into the asparagus. Toss gently to mix the ingredients while adding just enough of the pan juices to moisten the asparagus throughout…do not over dress! (You should have just enough dressing to coat the asparagus but not enough to pool in the bottom of the bowl.)

To serve plate the salad, topped with a poached egg if desired. Garnish with shaved Asiago cheese, some of the crispy prosciutto and green onion tops sliced lengthwise into approximately 1-1/2 X 1/8 inch strips.

Enjoy,

Randy

Shepherds Pie, American Style

I call this recipe “Shepherds Pie, American Style” because I have read or heard much debate through the years about the authentic ingredients for shepherds, or cottage pie. While it is true that many might say “this is not Shepherds Pie if it contains no lamb!” I beg to differ. Oh yes, I am well aware that because it is made with beef as opposed to lamb that it should rightfully be called “Cottage Pie”. But that’s not what they called it when I learned to love it!

I apologize for bringing up my childhood twice in as many posts but is that not truly when many of our adult likes and dislikes are formed? When I was in elementary school one of my favorite, absolute favorite dishes on the cafeteria (or cafetorium) menu was named “Shepherd’s Pie” and this recipe is my rendition of that dish. This is how I remember it tasting and once again we’re talking comfort food, so this is how I prepare it.

Honestly, I won’t be insulted if you call it cottage pie; call it anything you like…what really matters to me is that it tastes good. After all if we were really going to get down to brass tacks then do you think that stuff they served at the “PTA Spaghetti Dinners” would pass as Spaghetti with a true Italian? Ha! I think not. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t gobble it up with enthusiasm each and every time I ate it. I hope you do the same with this recipe.

Notes: I use a fork to “rake” the top of the potatoes because I think it facilitates browning and creates a crispier crust. I do not use cheese because they didn’t use any when I was a kid. Please feel free to add anything you like to the recipe. (On that note, I think I will add a cup of chopped green onions to the potatoes the next time around.)

Shepherd’s Pie, American Style

1 Lb – Lean Ground Beef
1 Cup – Carrots, diced large
1 Cup – Celery, diced large
1 Cup – Onion, chopped
32 Oz – Lower Sodium Beef Broth
2-3 Tbsp – Red wine, chilled
2 Tbsp – HP (or A1) Steak sauce
2 Tbsp – Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1 Tbsp – Dried Thyme
1 Tbsp – Dried Tarragon
8 Oz – Frozen Sweet Peas
3 Lbs – Red Bliss Potatoes, cut in (roughly) 1 inch chunks
2 Cups – Low Fat Buttermilk, plus a little extra if needed
Kosher Salt & Fresh Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Olive Oil

In a large sauté pan over medium heat warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering. Stir in carrots, celery, and onion along with ½ Tbsp each of thyme and tarragon. Cook stirring occasionally until the onions become translucent, about 10 minutes.

Add the ground beef to the pan and break it up with a fork while stirring to mix. Add the remainder of the thyme and tarragon along with about ¼ tablespoon of pepper and the steak sauce. Continue cooking and stirring occasionally until the beef has browned. When the beef has browned and cooked through, add the broth and simmer while you prepare the potatoes.

Place potatoes in a large pot with enough water to cover them by ½ inch. Add about 1/8 cup of kosher salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower heat to medium and cook until potatoes are fork-tender, about 20 minutes.

Pre-Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

When the beef & broth mixture has simmered at least 20 minutes, strain about 1 cup of the hot stock into a bowl. Add 2 -3 tablespoons of cold red wine and set aside to cool while you mash the potatoes.

When the potatoes are very tender carefully drain them in a colander or strainer allowing them to sit a few minutes to steam off excess moisture. Place hot potatoes in a large bowl and using a potato masher, dough cutter, or a large fork mash in about 1 cup of the buttermilk. Continue mashing until the liquid has been absorbed, then drizzle in the second cup of buttermilk while still mashing the potatoes. If the potatoes are still too dry drizzle in a little extra buttermilk, while mashing, until the mashed potatoes reach your desired consistency.

Whisk 2 Tbsp of flour into the reserved stock and wine mixture then stir this into the simmering beef mixture along with the frozen peas. Stir gently until everything is incorporated, heated through, and slightly thickened then spoon or pour the mixture into a 9” X 13” casserole. Using a spoon and your fingers if necessary spread the potatoes over the top of the beef mixture.

Before baking, smooth the top of the potatoes, then use the back of a fork to create parallel 1/8 inch deep “grooves” along the length of the entire dish to give the topping some texture. Place in the oven and bake 30 minutes. Carefully remove the dish from the oven and rest 10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy,

Randy

By request: Beer Braised Corned Beef Brisket & Cabbage

I was asked to settle a debate this week and while I’m uncertain whether it was my food knowledge, my part Irish heritage, or simply my well known penchant for eating food that led them to me, I was more than happy to throw in my two cents. The question was “Is corned beef really Irish?” In fact, I told them, it is Irish but the tradition of eating corned beef and cabbage on St Patty’s day is uniquely American.

Historically corned beef (named so because the salt used in the process resembled corn kernels) or salt cured beef was an export of Ireland but rarely ever was it eaten by the locals. In those days Beef was generally too expensive for the common people and a dish of boiled “bacon” and cabbage was much more customary. What they called “bacon” was pretty much any part of the pig, other than the ham, that contained a joint…typically what we know as the shoulder or the loin.

Later, when Irish immigrants came to America, beef was actually far more available than pork so they “corned” the beef and cooked it with cabbage in an effort to replicate their comfort food from back home. Loosely, this is assumed to be the origin of the wholly American tradition of corned beef & cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day. Interestingly, to this day, corned beef and cabbage in Ireland is generally reserved for the tourists!

For a great read on the subject check out Europeancuisines.com .

Through the years I tried every method known to man for preparing corned beef including boiling, stovetop braising, and baking. For depth of flavor and melt-in-your-mouth tenderness, this slow oven braise has become my go-to recipe for corned beef. Make enough for leftovers because the sandwiches are awesome and the chopped meat makes for an incredible corned beef hash!

Beer Braised Corned Beef Brisket & Cabbage

1 – 3 to 4 pound First cut corned beef (**See note)
1 or 2 cans – Guinness draft
10 to 12 – Mixed peppercorns (pink, green, black, etc…)
6 to 8 – Cloves of garlic, smashed
4 to 6 – Allspice berries
2 to 3 – Bay leaves
1 to 2 – Star anise pods

Note: Reserve vegetables for later. These can be added and cooked with the roast for the final hour of cooking or boiled in the pot juices while the roast  rests.

1 Head – Green or Napa cabbage, quartered
3 to 4 Large, or 4 to 6 Med – Red bliss potatoes
2 Med – White onions, halved

Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees. Remove the corned beef from its packaging and rinse in cold water while rubbing with your hands to remove any scum left over from the brine. Place the roast, fatty side up, in a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (or a pot with a tight fitting lid) and pour in enough beer to come about 1/3 of the way up the sides, sliding the roast around a little to get some liquid underneath. Add the remaining ingredients, distributing them evenly around the beef (if your roast is larger add more / if it is smaller add less of the spice).

Note: If your Corned Beef comes with a spice packet add that too…flavor is flavor!

On your stovetop over medium heat, bring the beer to a gentle boil then cover the pot tightly with aluminum foil placing the Dutch oven lid on top of that for a nice firm seal. Place the whole thing in the oven and roast, without peeking for 3 – ½ to 4 hours again depending on the size. The beef should be very tender after 4 hours…if not put it back in the oven and check it every 30 minutes until it is very tender.

Remove the corned beef and wrap it in the foil to rest. Meanwhile, place quartered cabbage (cut side down), red bliss potatoes, and white onion halves in the cooking liquid, return to a boil, cover and cook for 15 minutes while the Corned Beef is resting. After 15 to 20 minutes of rest, slice the Corned Beef, across the grain and serve with vegetables and your favorite Dijon Mustard.

**Note: Corned beef is generally sold as Whole Brisket, Half Brisket – First Cut (or Flat), or Half Brisket – Point Cut. The first cut (or Flat) is my favorite. This cut comes from the wide flat half of the whole brisket with the Point Cut coming from the thicker, fattier end of the Brisket. The First Cut is generally leaner and more suitable for the dinner plate. The Point Cut is “generally” fattier and more suitable for sandwiches. Hence, most of the time when you see a sale on corned beef it will be the Point Cut. Do yourself a favor and stick with the First Cut.

Enjoy,

Randy