Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Shrimp & Sausage Egg Rolls

Egg rolls fall into that category of food I find far too intimidating to tackle.  Outside of the steady and practiced hand required to assemble these perfect little packages, my complete lack of familiarity with the flavors and seasonings of Chinese cuisine left me feeling unsure of where to start.  After a fair amount of practice rolling spring rolls (find my favorite recipes here and here) and the nagging desire to finally dip my toe into the vast and varied world of Chinese cooking, I pushed my fear of failing aside, accepting that, as with many first time recipe attempts, the end result would be a burnt and broken mess of egg roll wrappers, not-quite-cooked-through filling and a grease-splattered stove.  So I tentatively read a few recipes, bought my first bottle of fish sauce and set about assembling an approachable blend of ingredients for my first egg roll filling: minced shallots and garlic for a flavorful base, shredded carrots for a touch of sweetness, diced serrano peppers for heat and rice noodles to act as a binding agent of sort, a vehicle for sauce absorption wrapping and intertwining with large bites of shrimp and sausage.  Tossed with fish sauce, sugar, soy sauce and lime juice, I held my breath as I sealed the filling into my first egg roll, cringing with anticipation, waiting for the wrapper to split, for everything to fall apart.  To my surprise and delight the egg roll assembly proved to be simple and I was able to move along efficiently, pleased with the rhythm I soon found and the beautiful string of mini egg rolls lining up beside me.  A quick fry and Z and I were crunching into these flavorful pockets, ample pieces of just cooked through shrimp and sausage supported by a base of salty-sweet veggies and noodles.  With one recipe under my belt I am excited to immerse myself in this revered cuisine.  Grand flavors await.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Foxhollow Farm Standing Rib Roast with Aioli

It must be a special occasion if prime rib - also known as a standing rib roast - is on the menu.  The look alone of this coveted cut of meat is impressive, the sheer size indicating that company must be coming and the host is aiming to impress.  This is not always the easiest cut of meat to obtain either as, given it's reputation as a splurge for high-end celebrations, it is not always readily available.  I was thrilled when the good folks from Foxhollow Farm informed me that they would be offering up small two to four rib versions of their grassfed standing rib roasts for purchase this holiday season.  While still impressive, these three to four pound rib cuts are much easier to handle and are the perfect anchor to a special holiday meal for immediate family or the closest of friends.  The marbeling of the beef ensures that each bite is rich with flavor and the bones, while removed for ease in cutting, are still cooked alongside, roasting away and imparting every bit of their distinctive character back into the meat.  I took a few of my favorite things - fresh rosemary and thyme, loads of garlic, dijon mustard, spicy Foxhollow red pepper flakes and lemon juice - and coated the outside of the roast in an herb-driven crust, plenty of kosher salt and bourbon smoked pepper (found at Bourbon Barrel Foods) joining the mix to ensure that the beef was seasoned to the hilt.  Served with a quick and creamy homemade garlic aioli, this roast will absolutely never fail to make a mark on the palate.  Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Pizza with Mushrooms, Bacon & Leeks

While I am an unabashed lover of pizza, I tend to be a purist when it comes to my favorite food.  I'm more or less addicted to my marinara recipe and think it is the ideal base for a building any pie.  A recent freelance assignment challenged me to craft a pizza fit for the fall season and I found myself playing with brussels sprouts and bacon, realizing that a tomato sauce would not allow these ingredients to fully express themselves.  The crust would need a healthy dose of cream, infused and enhanced with garlic and rosemary.  After several test runs I was officially a white-pizza convert, the richness and comfort-inducing qualities of the bubbling cream a quintessential partner for the bacon and brussels sprouts.  This pizza takes that same creamy base and tops it with earthy mushrooms and delicate leeks, both charring perfectly in the blistering hot oven, mozzarella and blue cheese melting alongside while slivers of bacon crisp and brown.  It is decadent and familiar, a warm embrace of fall to help take the edge off these cool, pre-winter nights. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Halfway to Derby: A Tea-Infused Bourbon Cocktail by Z

Halfway to Derby
Inspired by the mint julep, this stirred cocktail is a perfect drink for a cold winter evening in the Bluegrass, as we begin the annual downhill slide toward the first Saturday in May.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Foxhollow Hot Dogs with Brussels Sprouts, Candied Onions & Pickled Jalapeño

It's hard to improve upon a classic hot dog, especially when it is made of grass-fed beef.  On it's own, this hot dog is wonderfully delicious, possessing a nostalgic quality only bestowed upon certain food items.  The hot dog is one of those childhood staples that never falls off our radar.  It will forever have a place in our lives, be it as the highlight of a backyard barbecue, the requisite snack during a baseball game, or as a simple but vital comfort food.  Foxhollow's hot dogs are particularly addicting, needing nothing more than a bun and (in my world) a squeeze of ketchup.  If you look around, you'll quickly notice that the hot dog has taken a bit of a gourmet spin through various kitchens and food trucks, trying on different toppings for size, resulting in a hot dog experience one would have never imagined as a child. Gleaning from the creative ways I've seen hot dogs reimagined, this recipe takes full advantage of fall's bounty, tossing freshly shredded Brussels spouts, radicchio and carrots with a bright, vinegar based dressing.  Onions are cooked low and slow until they melt into sweet goodness and jalapeños are given a quick pickle, adding spice and bite to this complete hot dog experience.  Each element enhances the grass-fed, all beef hot dogs crafted by the good people of Foxhollow Farm.  So fire up the grill and begin shredding the veggies… an all new hot dog experience is just a few easy steps away!

Monday, September 8, 2014

BLT with Horseradish Mayonnaise

In my hands I am holding an ample sandwich, the bread buttered and toasted, the bacon thick and salty and the tomatoes at the peak of ripeness.  I open my mouth wide and take a bite, the lettuce crisp and refreshing against the bite of the horseradish-spiked mayonnaise.  A BLT of this sort is one of summer's most wonderful gifts and I have a hard time enjoying it during any other season.  It's also hard to beat a meal where you can name the farm or purveyor from which each ingredient was sourced.  Such is the case with this recipe.  I was tempted to call it the Douglass Loop Farmer's Market BLT, as Z and I assembled the sandwich after a particularly bountiful day at our favorite Louisville market.  The bacon was perfectly cured by the good people of Barr Farms (make sure not to leave without a dozen of their farm fresh eggs); the lettuce and herbal notes from Grateful Greens; the zing for the mayonnaise a healthy dollop of Hot 2 Trot's signature Kentucky horseradish sauce; and the bread a special salt-rising variety made with care by the skillful hands of Deanna Rushing, the master baker from Wiltshire Pantry.  And let us not forget the tomatoes - oh the tomatoes! - those were grown with an abundance of love by one of my most favorite farmer's, Pavel.  Eating local has never been so satisfying and I encourage you to create your own end-of-summer BLT during these final days of warmth and freshness.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Foxhollow Farm Sirloin & Panzanella Salad

I suppose one could wonder what panzanella salad and sirloin steak have to do with one another.  Alone they are delectable and addictive but together?  Well they are one of the most beautiful unions in the culinary universe.  In the interest of not protesting too much, just take the time to imagine a cast-iron seared sirloin steak, the fat rendered, the crust seasoned and the outside perfectly charred while the interior remains a beautiful medium-rare.  The richness from the meat that remains in the pan is simply begging to be celebrated, to not go to waste.  The call is answered with the addition of freshly torn bread, tasty sponges that soak up and toast in the savory steak seasonings.  Are you sold yet?  If there is any semblance of doubt in your mind, then please consider the spicy, bright, briny and sweet salad of grapes, peppers, grape tomatoes, cucumber and olives with which the bread will soon mingle.  The essence of the steak lingers in the panzanella salad while the light bite of acidic notes from the salad cut directly through the richness of this grassfed, Foxhollow Farm steak.  Convinced?  I didn't think it would take much.  Cheers!