Sunday, August 24, 2008

OBQ - Lamb Osso Bucco Barbeque Sandwich

Here's the inspiration...the Lamb Osso Bucco open-faced sandwich we ate at Ansill Friday night.
To me it reminded me of an upscale lamb barbeque with a twist. Since tiny is chic, we wanted to do these as mini-sandwiches or sliders.

The dish needs three components, the meat, the gremolata topping and the brioche bun.

"osso bucco"
1 lb. Lamb Shoulder
1/2 medium onion sliced
1 garlic clove

1 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup almonds, roasted
1 organic lemon

4 mini-brioche buns

I threw the lamb shoulders in a hot pan to put a sear on them, turning after a few minutes. Then turned the heat down, added the onions and garlic to get some carmelization going, maybe another 4 or 5 minutes. Finally, I added enough water to nearly cover the shoulders, got it going to a full boil, then covered and simmered for 30 minutes. Add a little salt to season.

Once teh meat was cooked, you pull the meat from the bone to create a pulled BBQ consistency. (Next time, I"ll use a shank to get longer pieces of meat)

I strained the braising sauce, skimmed off the fat and reduced it down to a gravy-like consistency. I stirred that back in to flavor the pulled lamb

To make the gremolata "slaw" of the OBQ sandwich, chop parsley and add some organic lemon peel; make sure it's organic, that way you don't get any nasty pesticides on your peel. Finely chop the almonds and combine everything together with a pinch of Kosher salt.

We bought these mini-brioche buns at Di Bruno Bros. , perfect for OBQ sliders. I hollowed out the top of the bun to make room for the pile of meat & slaw.

Simply top the bun with a generous portion of each and you're ready to dig in! Next time, I'll probably leave a little more stock sauce to drizzle like a gravy over the meat, but the lamb is moist enough and won't dry out. The parsley & lemon give the meat a clean flavor and the crunch of the almond in the gremolata is a nutty balance to the it reminds me of those charred little chunks you get in North Carolina pit BBQ.

C & E

Basil Basil Everywhere!

Check out the size of the basil Elizabeth's parents gave us! We knew that we had to do something with it, so we picked up some fresh handmade mozzarella from Di Bruno Bros. ($9) and finished off the heirloom tomatoes from the farmer's market last week.

Once we plucked and cleaned up the basil, Elizabeth sliced the mozzarella up and stacked it precariously high with the yellow & red heirlooms.

We also picked up some 2% Greek Yogurt, Fresh Dill and cured Salmon. Served atop a kettle-cooked potato chip, you've got a crunchy, tangy, aromatic salmon snack.

Make sure you don't assemble these until you're ready to eat...the yogurt quickly turns the chips soggy.

C & E

Friday, August 22, 2008

BYOB + Google = Philly Mealtime Mashup

I ran across a link to this site while surfing some local foodie blogs; GoPhila has created a clever little mashup to promote the odd and wonderful dining category that seems to flourish in Philly, the B.Y.O.B. Here's our neighborhood for example:

Some people think the spike in BYOB dining is linked to the state's monopoly on wine (non-PA residents: you have to buy every drop from a state store or go across the border). The margins on a bottle at a restaurant are so thin that serving wine becomes an obstacle to serving great food. There's been alot of great BYOB "start-ups" in town, chefs who were catapulted into the mainstream from the tiny kitchens of neighborhood BYOBs.

I have to admit, having been a tourist and now a new resident, I was a bit skeptical about the whole concept of the bring-your-own-bottle dining. The idea of dragging along your own wine to a meal seemed kinda cheap.

I thought this link would be a good way of getting other skeptics like me to explore your BYOB options if you're coming to visit, I love useful Google Mashups.

C & E

Monday, August 18, 2008

Proud Mary Keep on Rollin' - More Spring Roll Experiments

We picked up some real Spring Roll wrappers at Hung Vuong for .75 cents; these aren't your supermarket eggroll wrappers, but real Spring Roll pastry dough rolled out.

Here's a link to the recipe we used. In attempt to make them healthy, we baked the rolls and brushed them with olive oil. The results were just as crunchy as a fried spring roll.

Here they are laid out...fill them with your favorite stuffing ( I used shredded cabbage and pork OR shredded cabbage and chicken) 20 minutes later at 425 degrees you're ready to go.

Here's Elizabeth's mis-en-place...cucumber, bean sprouts, cilantro, carrots, seaweed and Thai licorice basil. Wrapped all together in a soaked rice spring roll wrapper and you've got a perfect summer roll.

Served with 5 kinds of sauce to span the 4 flavors...super hot Srirachi (HOT), hot mustard (hot), soy sauce & orange marmalade (Sweet), Ume plum vinegar (salty), and soy sauce & lime juice (bitter).

C & E

Grill Season - Head-On Shrimp

Looks shocking, but if you can find it, you need to try grilling head-on shrimp.

The flavor is amazing compared to regular shrimp and they tend not to dry-out as much because they're still sealed in the shell. Plus, the liver-bits inside provide that "shrimp" flavor when you pull it apart. Sounds gross, but trust me, it's good.

We bought these (30-40) at Hung Vuong Asian Market down on Washington & 11th for about $5.50 per lb.

Dressed with a simple drizzle of olive oil and a drop of sesame oil, throw them on the grill until pink.

C & E

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

More Market Fare - Spring Rolls & Summer Seared Mahi Mahi

With wonderfully flavorful cucumbers & tomatoes, we had to build something around them.

Elizabeth broke out her spring roll skills tonight for starters. Here we've got a cucumber, crab & avocado spring rolls, laced with ginger, carrot and cilantro.

Served with three sauces, each of the complexity of the rolls could be tasted; salty Ume vinegar brought out the cucumber, while the sweet tomato sauce highlighted the crab and the heat of the srirachi-soy sauce was cooled by the avocado.

The Mahi-Mahi was on sale at SuperFresh for 6.99. I coated the fillets with a blended mix of shallots (3 parts), basil(2 parts), parsley(1 part), ginger(1 part) and olive oil (1 part), dash of salt & pepper, letting the mix sit on the fish for 15 minutes.

We top the fish with a diced mix of summer-fresh tomato (3 parts), cucumber (2 parts), onion (1 part), ginger (1 part), soy-sauce (1 tblspn), Sesame Oil (1 tblspn), and 1 lime squeezed and two squirts of srirachi hot sauce, and a dash of salt & pepepr. Let the sauce meld...your fish should be ready to sautee.

Carefully lay the fish into a hot pan with oil to sear on the herb crust, about 2 minutes on the first side, then turn the heat down and sear on the other side for 5-6 minutes. Get a nice semi-blackened crust and you're good to go. Smother the fish with your cucumber-tomato salsa and serve.

C & E

Monday, August 4, 2008

Fiori di Zucca Fritti - Fried Zucchini Blossoms

OK, first thing from the farmer's market to hit the pan will be those awesome zucchini blossoms. We enjoyed these during our honeymoon in Amalfi and came back with a mission to make the perfect fried zucchini blossom. Elizabeth's dad has supplied us with some great blossoms in the past and we were fortunate to find them at the farmer's market Sunday. Look at the size of these things?

Ok, the recipe is pretty simple and it's mostly technique. I changed a few things to make the batter crispier. First, you have to pluck the stamen from the center of the blossom and clean of any ants bugs or dirt that like to inhabit the blossom.

Make the batter...use about 1 cup of rice flour (you can find this at Asian markets or some Latin markets) and then 2-3 tablespoons of water...mix up a slurry/paste..,keep adding water in small doses until the batter clings to a fork and fills the spaces between the tines. Sprinkle in about 2-3 teaspoons of salt..the more salt you get into the batter means less salt on the finished blossom.

Dust each blossom in regular flour...this will help the batter stick. On the stove, get a pan of oil going with about a half inch of oil (olive or canola..your call)...not too hot (under 350 for sure if you're using olive oil).

When your oil's ready to go, place the blossom in the batter and spoon the batter over the delicate flower..coat the entire zucchini.

Place carefully into the hot oil. The batter will spread out a bit in the pan, but then firm up. As the batter edges brown, carefully turn the blossom to brown the other sides. It's all technique at this patient and try not to keep turning the blossom...when in doubt, let it go a little longer to get that crispy light brown color.

Rice flower will not get as brown as wheat flour batter, but it is so much crunchier and seems to create a flavorful coat.

Pull the blossoms and enjoy! You can stuff the cavity with goat cheese or mozzarella for an extra surprise...I like it, but sometimes it makes for a messier, tougher fry, so you may want to start with plain blossoms before stuffed.

C & E

Market Day

Went back to the Headhouse Row Farmer's Market this Sunday. Vendors start selling around 10AM, so we went early this week to get in on some of the best produce.

The market is never a dull scene...the place is literally packed with people shoulder to shoulder. The only downside to the market are the families that plow their way down the aisle with strollers...these things are 4 wheeled monstrosities that create huge human traffic's like the SUV of the farmers market and it's highly annoying being nailed in the heel every three steps by a stroller.

However, the pain is worth the's a snapshot of our bounty this stage are the zucchini blossoms. A box of 10 blossoms ran about 4.50..these things are beautiful.The melons, blue berries, peaches, romas and heirloom tomatoes are all Jersey grown...the herbs are all organic.

Here's a snapshot of the big gelato place in town...think ColdStone Creamery but Gelato...flavors like Mojito, Basil, and Mexican Chocolate were interesting, but the best were the simple flavors. Here's a dark chocolate & pistachio cup...we walked about 15 blocks to get to the place, so I'm thinking we burned up the calories getting there and back.

C & E