Sweet and Savory Blend

Sweet and Savory is one of my favorite flavor blends.

Spice displays call to me like “hunny” to Pooh Bear. I cannot resist them. Each delectable scent beckons; sweet spices, e.g., cardamom, coriander seeds, ginger; spices that seem exotic to many of us in the United states; e.g., fenugreek, zatar and sumac. Mixing these with more commonly known flavors makes for an interesting and multi-dimensional dish.

Yields about 3/4 cup

What’s in it …
1 Tablespoon (15 ml) caraway seeds
1 Tablespoon (15 ml) coriander, ground or seeds
1 Tablespoon (15 ml) fennel seeds (this is what I use)
1 Tablespoon (15 ml) ground ginger
1 Tablespoon (15 ml) dried rosemary leaves
1 Tablespoon (15 ml) dried sage leaves
1 Tablespoon (15 ml) dried thyme
2 teaspoons (10 ml) dried mustard
1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground fenugreek (optionalthis is what I use)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) dried marjoram leaves
1 teaspoon (5 ml) sumac (optionalyou can buy sumac here)
1/2 teaspoon (5 ml) mixed peppercorns
1-2 dried porcini mushrooms (optional)
1-2 dried edible roses (optional. Found in middle eastern markets or online at amazon)

How you pull it together …
Working in small batches, drop one or two ingredients into a mortar and then grind with a pestal until finely textured. OR use a clean coffee grinder (When I’m feeling lazy, this is what I use to grind my spices and herbs.)

As you finish each batch, empty it into a glass container that has a tight lid and will hold more than a full cup. When every ingredient is finely ground, cover the container and shake shake shake until everything is fairly evenly blended. Store tightly covered.

This is fab with …
Roast chicken, pork, beef, lamb. Butternut squash (what isn’t great with butternut squash?!), eggplant, roasted tomatoes. Try a bit in a pot of soup to add something unexpected.

 

Steak with Shitake and Red Wine Topping

Shitake and Red Wine Steak Topping
Steak with Shitake and Red Wine Topping

Over the past weekend, we were in need of fresh ingredients for Saturday’s dinner, but I just didn’t feel like going to the local farm market. I had been cleaning, rearranging and pushing things around all day and the thought of putting on makeup and shoes for the short scooter ride was just too much for me. Husband to the rescue! Texted-shopping-list in hand (or pocket) this lovely man happily scooted the two blocks to pick up our necessities. He came home with everything but the requested green vegetable. Instead, lips a-smacking, he handed me a package of gorgeous, fresh, shitake mushrooms. With the grassfed NY Strip steak in the fridge, and a couple of ears of local farm-grown corn, we were ready to pull this luscious meal together!

GRILLED STEAK WITH SHITAKE AND RED WINE TOPPING

Yields 2 servings

What’s in it…
3/4 lb. NY sirloin steak, or 2 individual steaks, seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder
2 ears of fresh-picked corn, unshucked
2 Tbsp organic butter 1/2 medium onion, sliced along the grain
5 fresh, full-flavored mushrooms, such as shitake, sliced, stems removed and saved for another purpose (like broth)
1 clove garlic, sliced
Celtic Sea Salt
Fresh ground, mixed-color pepper
1/4 cup good wine
1 tsp green pepper jelly (optional)
1/4 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped

This is how you pull it together…
Microwave unshucked corn ears for 4 minutes and let stand in the microwave until you are ready to place them on the grill.

While the mushroom topping is slowly cooking, heat the grill, grill the corn and meat as desired. (If you want directions on how to grill, let me know and I’ll ask my husband to contribute his methods.

With firm purpose and glee, I know very little about how to use the grill. Let’s just say, it’s not my passion.) In a medium saute pan (I use 10-inch), melt 1 Tbsp of butter over medium-low heat until the butter has sizzled and stopped, but is not browned. Add the sliced onion, season with a pinch of salt and sweat it in the butter over low heat until almost translucent, stirring occasionally, about 10-15 minutes. Add garlic slices and cook for another 5 minutes or so until the onion is translucent.

Next, stir in the sliced mushrooms and reduce heat to low. Stirring occasionally, continue to heat until the mushrooms soften and release their liquids, tasting and adding a pinch of salt if needed.

Turn the heat up to medium-high and add 2 Tbsp of the wine. it should start to boil as soon as it hits the pan. Immediately reduce the heat to low and stir until reduced by half. Raise the heat to medium-high again, add the remaining 2 Tbsp wine, reduce heat to low and let it reduce by half again.

Add green pepper jelly and stir until melted and incorporated. (optional) Taste for seasoning, adding salt and/or pepper to taste. Many toppings are allowed to have a bit more depth of seasoning. This, of course, is up to your personal preference.

Once you are happy with the taste and texture of the mushroom mixture, toss in the parsley and mound on top of your perfectly grilled steaks. A beautifully caramelized ear of corn (shucked by now) across the top of the plate, sprinkle with any remaining bits of parsley and you’re ready to serve! This is fnatastic with… A nice Paloma Cocktail (see our version here) and some chunks of mixed stone fruit.

Bon apetit!

The Perfect Summer Drink

July 4, 2013
Good friends came to visit for the week of the 4th and introduced us to the perfect summer drink. Apparently, it’s one of the *hot* cocktails these days with many versions.  We like this tart, thirst-cutting interpretation best.  It’s satisfying and goes down very easily!

Paloma Cocktail – The Perfect Summer Drink

Paloma - the fixings - The Perfect Summer Drink
The Perfect Summer Drink

Yields … 1 serving

What’s in it …
Ice
1 oz silver tequila such as 1800 Silver (I don’t waste Petron on anything mixed)
11.15 fl oz can San Pellegrino Pompelmo (grapefruit) beverage
1/4-1/2 of a lime

This is how you pull it together …
• Fill a tall glass about 2/3 of the way with ice
• Add 1 jigger (1 – 1 1/2 oz) of tequila
• Squeeze a chunk of lime into the glass and drop the squeezed lime right in.
• Pour sparkling grapefruit beverage to about 1 inch below the rim of the glass.
• Garnish with more lime and salt, if desired (I don’t)

I’ve thought of adding a sprig of mint from the garden, but haven’t yet. Also, you could skip the tequila, I guess. But, why mess with perfection?

The Perfect Summer Drink
Paloma Cocktail – The Perfect Summer Drink