Monday, April 26, 2010

Fava Bean and Asparagus Risotto

We had a pretty "meaty"week because of my recipe testing.  And this was the second week I was able to find fava beans at the Davis Farmers Market.  So I did a Fava Bean and Asparagus Risotto loosely based on a recipe in Alice Water's Chez Panisse Vegetables. And despite myself, I couldn't resist frying up my last three slices of pancetta.

Fava Bean And Asparagus Risotto

3 pounds fava beans
olive oil
salt and pepper
6 stalks asparagus
1 yellow onion
7 to 8 cups chicken stock
4 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for the table
pan fried pancetta slices (optional)

Shell the fava beans, then blanch them in boiling water for 30 seconds.  Drain, then cool them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.  Peel the beans then add them to a skillet with a splash of olive oil, salt and pepper and water to cover.  Bring to a boil then simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes until tender.  If you have a food mill, drain them but reserve the liquid.  Pass them through the food mill and add the reserved liquid.  If you don't have a food mill, set the beans aside in their cooking liquid.

Thinly slice the asparagus on the diagonal.  Dice the onion.

Heat the stock and keep at a slow simmer.

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan (I like All-Clad's 5-1/2 Quart Saucier), melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium low heat and cook the onion until soft.  Add the rice and a pinch of salt and continue to cook until the rice become somewhat translucent.  Add the wine and cook until it is almost absorbed by the rice.  When the wine has reduced, turn the heat to low and start adding the stock by 1/2 cup ladles, pausing between ladles to let the rice absorb the stock.  When the rice is mostly cooked, add the asparagus slices.  After another 5 minutes or so, add the cheese, fava bean mixture and the the rest of the butter.  Stir, add more stock if necessary and cook until the rice is cooked to your liking.  Taste for seasoning and serve in warm bowls with the optional pancetta slices.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Hatcho Miso-Marinated Hanger Steak

This was the last of my Japanese Grill test recipes and the one to which I was most looking forward.  Unfortunately, it was awful.  This was my first experience cooking or eating hanger steak, and I didn't really care for it.  Lisa liked it less.  She said it was too "cowy".  My biggest problem was the marinade.  The ingredients for the marinade sounded like they would taste great. But I didn't care for the cooked marinated meat at all.  I'm pretty sure it was the Hatcho Miso that I found objectionable.  The marinade had a chalky mouth-feel to it.  Not pleasant.

I also made a grilled Onigiri with Bonito Flakes and Black Sesame Seeds.  I either overcooked the rice, added too much water, or used too heavy a hand when forming the cakes.  These Onigiri were unpleasantly dense.  And the taste of the Bonito Flakes overwhelmed the cakes.

The grilled asian broccoli was good though...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Grilled Wagyu Rib Eye with Ponzu

This is the third of my Japanese Grill meat test recipes.  The recipe called for Wagyu beef, so I went grocery shopping at Corti Brothers in Sacramento.  They carry an American wagyu beef from Snake River Farms.  The recipe called for four 1/4 inch slices of rib eye, and I walked out of Corti with 1 1/4 pounds of meat but $25 poorer.  This was not an inexpensive test.

The meat was served with a dipping sauce of ponzu, grated daikon and a wierd but tasty condiment named yuzu kosho.  The meat was superb.  The rib eyes seemed a bit fatty before grilling.  But the fat seemed to melt into the cooked steaks.  They were tender and moist but not fatty.  I had heard that this was typical of wagyu beef, but I didn't believe it until now.

I accompanied the beef with a grilled asian broccoli and plain haiga rice.  It was a simple, tasty, but expensive meal.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Japanese Baby Back Ribs, Soy Onigiri and Broccolini

The second two recipes from Harris Salat's new cookbook (see my last post).  The ribs were really good. They were perfectly cooked.   The stock in which the ribs were pre-cooked was reduced and used to glaze the ribs on the grill.  The stock flavored the ribs really well,  but the reduced sauce wasn't quite right. I would have liked a thicker glaze.  I used Haiga rice for the onigiri.  Haiga rice is halfway between a brown rice and a white rice.  Not as sticky as white, so wet hands are important when working with it.  These soy onigiri were much better that the sesame seaweed version from the previous night.

Veal Cutlets with Ponzu Butter and Sesame/Seaweed Onigiri

These are the first of 8 recipes I am testing for Harris Salat's new cookbook The Japanese Grill.  He posted a request for recipe testers on his website The Japanese Food Report and I was chosen.

After receiving my recipes, I made a trek to Tokyo Fish Market in Berkeley for supplies.  I've driven by this market many times but never stopped.  It is a really cool place...lots of Asian groceries and the fish counter is unbelievable.

My first dishes were Veal Cutlets with Ponzu Butter and Onigiri, grilled rice cakes with seaweed powder and roasted sesame seeds.  I can't remember the last time I ate veal and I don't think I've ever cooked it.  But it was really good.  The Ponzu Butter was a huge hit.  The leftover butter will go well with chicken and fish.  The onigiri were less successful.  They were under-salted and I couldn't get the crunchy exterior I was hoping for.  Still a good meal though.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Char Siu Pork

Tess said she wanted Guinea Pig for dinner.  But I wasn't in the mood.   So I faked her out.  I made Barbara Tropp's Unconventional Roast Pork from her The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking: Techniques and Recipes.  The only difficult part of this recipe is figuring out how to hang the pork strips (guinea pigs) in the oven.  Find some kind of wire that you can bend into an "S". The picture to the right is self-explannatory.

When it was cooked, we thinly sliced the meat and put it on a baguette with cucumber, pickled carrots, cilantro, and soy.