Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day

So today is St. Patrick's Day. A day when everyone is Irish. I come from a mostly Italian background, I'm only 1/4 Irish on my father's side.  My mother embraced the St. Patrick's holiday. She loved corn beef and would make more than we could possibly eat just so that she could have left overs the next day.  She made the most wonderful Corn Beef.  Sometimes she would just throw the carrots,  cabbage and potatoes into the huge pot that held the corn beef, but on special occasions she would make the most wonderful cabbage, sauteed with bacon or pancetta, onion, garlic and the boiled potatoes. Talk about yum! When I have a little extra time I love to make this dish. Today our food crawl is all about the cabbage with a twist.  I even have a recipe for a delicious Soda Bread that I'll share with you.
This cabbage recipe is from  Lanterna, a restaurant that my family used to love to eat in Astoria, New York. The owners were Yugoslavian/Italian. Their food combinations were just incredible.  Everything was fabulous! Sadly, the restaurant is not there anymore. But I can remember my last meal there almost 20 years ago, that's how good it was! Here's my homage to Lanterna and my mother...

I start off by cutting the cabbage into quarters, taking the core out and then just slicing the cabbage. There is no wrong way, just slice it, long pieces, short pieces it really doesn't matter.  I put these in a bowl and set them aside. In my frying pan I start cooking 3 slices of bacon(if you have pancetta, use it!) which I have cut into little pieces and let the fat render, once that starts going I add one chopped onion and a few cloves of smashed and sliced garlic, you don't want the onions or garlic to brown, just let them sweat and add the cabbage and season with salt and pepper to taste. When the cabbage wilts and it's tender, it's done.  Add some of the boiled red potatoes ( i cut them in 1/4's) to the cabbage and give it a little time to cook with the cabbage.  The flavors will marry and will get a little creamy or thick from the starch in the potato.
Unfortunately, I burnt my soda bread. I was on the phone with the vet, no good news and I forgot the breads were baking. We're still going to eat it, I'm just not showing it to you!  And I am having a tough time with the picture placement on these posts..growing pains...please stick with me.

Irish Soda Bread (Recipe from the Journal News)
3 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons softened sweet butter
2 tablespoons of caraway seeds
1 cup raisins
2 eggs, for the dough and one for brushing the breads
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of buttermilk 
a pinch or two of sugar to dust the breads
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter two 9 or 10 inch pie dishes or cake pans. In a mixing bowl combine first 5 ingredients just until combined and starts to get crumbly. Add caraway seeds and raisins. Add one egg and slightly beat with the buttermilk adding to the flour mixture. Mix until all ingredients are moistened and just combined. Turn out dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Divide the dough in half, shape into rounds and place in buttered baking pans. cut an X on top to score each bread. Brush tops with beaten egg and sprinkle with a few pinches of sugar.
Bake 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 15- 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Do not over bake. It will be moist and delicious!

before going into the oven...

I hope you had a fabulous St. Patrick's Day! 
Here's a little Irish Blessing for you!

For each petal on the shamrock.
This brings a wish your way
Good health, good luck, and happiness
For today and every day.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Salmon with Papaya Sauce

I usually cook like a banshee, lots of pots and pans and mixing bowls. The great thing is that I am a little ocd and clean as I go along...thank God! My kitchen would be a complete mess if I did it any other way. The other day I had watched what seemed to be a marathon of the show Chopped. I just love that show, ( I don't think i would ever audition for that show) it scares me, but I love to watch it. Everyday at about 4:30 it's time to go into the kitchen, Judge Judy is on in the other room and I start to prep our evening meal. I'm cleaning vegetables,  frying chicken, doing whatever and I found myself throwing my arms up everytime I completed something, just like they do on the show when they call times up! My son walked in and started cracking up. I just looked at him and said "What? "  It was then that I realized what I was doing. I laughed so hard I almost peed my pants!
During Lent I try to abstain from meat on Wednesdays as well as Fridays. So tonight I decided to do a little Salmon, but wanted to prepare it on the healthy side. I had a beautiful papaya that was ripe and wanted to do something with the papaya. So I got out my nonstick pan and threw in some papaya with a few cloves of garlic and a sliced jalapeno pepper. (Remember I said this is going to be healthy) When the peppers started to sweat I took the fruit off the stove and put it in the blender and made it into a puree. Once I had my puree it was time to start my Salmon. I seasoned the Salmon with salt and pepper and got my pan hot added just a dash of sesame oil and seared the Salmon on both sides.  I plated the Salmon with some tender green beans and just a sprinkling of some chopped cilantro on top of the papaya sauce. It was such an easy meal to make and my family enjoyed it!  I think the total time to prepare was a 1/2 hour. If you have any questions, let me know.  Enjoy, and bon appetito!

blending papaya