Haute Hot Food

Only for the adventurous in eating that want to tantalize their taste-buds and make food dance on their palate.

For I am not afraid of letting the food
overtake my desires, nor am I afraid of letting my desires be my food. Food is my expression, not just my livelihood. Cooking is my art, not out of responsibility, but purely out of passion.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Headed to Italy

I may not be boarding a plane and crossing the Atlantic, but my kitchen can sure smell like the flavors that linger in an old Italian cottage. Marring a man from a very "Soprano" family opened my eyes to the vast world of Italian food. I very quickly realized my ideas and flavors that I had grown up with were far from accurate, and the "Olive Gardens" and "Spaghetti Warehouses" of this nation were no where close to the decedent and pure flavors of Italy. Everything was not swimming in sauce or drowning in a pool of cheese. During our 2 years of dating, I accompanied him to family reunions, weddings, Sunday dinners, birthdays, and every other engagement that had to do with this large new family. I quickly realized three things: 1) I may need to be a little scared 2) "The Family" was everything! 3) They know how to have a party for ANY occasion.
This new culture was eye opening and intriguing to me. I wanted to savor every aspect. I was constantly asking the older generation to share recipes and ideas, but what I always got was not mearly just recipes but priceless life lessons and family stories. These moments are why passing tradition on through the table is so important to me. To relive the moments that are precious and to pass on love that encompasses the table can't be duplicated and should never be taken for granted. Tell your story, always take time, and never pass on an opportunity to teach.

Italian Wedding Soup

4 oz Pancetta
2TB Olive Oil
1c. diced onion
4 cloves garlic
3 celery ribs. chopped
1Lb diced Chicken Thigh
1/2 recipe homemade meatballs ,made into 1" bite size meatballs (recipe follows)
1qt Chicken Broth (homemade preferably)
1 TB salt (or to taste)
1qt water
2c. Cannellini beans
1c. Shredded Parmesan cheese (and the RINE of the cheese)
4oz fresh chopped Spinach
4 oz Spaghetti broken into bite size pieces
2 eggs (beaten)

Heat oil in large pot. Add diced pancetta and cook 3-5 minutes. Add onions, garlic, celery and saute 4 minutes. Add diced chicken and brown. Pour in broth, water and add rine of cheese. Bring to a boil and then simmer 1 hour. Add uncooked meatballs. Simmer 45 minutes. Bring back up to a boil and add beans and noodles. and cook 5 minutes. Take off heat and add fresh spinach and cheese. Put the lid on 5 minutes. While stirring, pour in eggs. They will cook in a ribbon form. Serve with toasted baguette and shaved pecorino.
(You may also used meatballs that have been previously made and frozen for a quicker week night meal. I usually have a MEATBALL day on a lazy Sunday and freeze them in bags of 12)

1lb ground chuck
1 lb Italian Sausage, casing removed
½ c dried bread crumbs (I use Panko)
2 large eggs
½ c whole milk
1 ¼ c. grated Romano
¼ c. grated Spanish onion
2 TB finely diced fresh garlic
¼ c finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
¼ c finely chopped fresh basil leaves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray. Mix all ingredients in large bowl. If mixture seems a little loose add more bread crumbs. Roll meatballs loosely about the size of a golf ball and place on baking sheet. For Italian wedding soup, make them the size of quarters and leave raw. Place into preheated oven for about 35 to 40 minutes.

LINK TO AMAZING FRESH RAVIOLI BUSINESS IN DALLAS! Another example of family tradition. My husband brought me here to meet the rest of the family! Fun place so check it out!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

"How much do you want for those nuts??????"

Whether I'm walking down the Midway at the Texas Fair, or in the local Bass Pro Shop, or even at the Annie's Pretzel store in the mall, I get a whiff of that ever so tantalizing smell of candied, roasted nuts. The amazing smells of cinnamon and caramelizing sugar is enough to turn this non-eater-of-nut-girl immediately fall in lust over them! I always go over to the stand and watch them slowly turn and coat the pecans and almonds as the fire blazes beneath the black kettle.
My delima: $4.50 for the smallest little cone shaped holder and that isn't even full! My mission was to make the perfect at home candied nuts!
I keep these savory sweet treats on hand and usually in the freezer ready to be served in bowls, martini glasses,or even waffle cones laying on a platter. They are perfect accompaniment to homemade ice cream (see me blog for a recipe), brie cheese, or cupcakes. No matter what your occasion is or for none at all! My lusts are full filled......."CHEERS TO THE NUTS" (candied, that is!)

Maple Candied Nuts

1 Egg White
1tsp Salt
1/3c 100% Pure Maple Syrup
2 TBL Brown Sugar
1/2tsp ginger
1/2tsp cloves
1/2tsp Allspice
1tsp cinnamon
1/2tsp Sweet Paprika
1/4tsp cumin
1/2tsp nutmeg
6c raw nuts Any combo of your favorites! I love Cashews, Pecans, Almonds, and pumpkin seeds!

Preheat oven 350
line 2 baking sheets with foil and butter completely
Beat egg white and salt until foamy
Add sugar and syrup. Mix
Add spices and combine
Add nuts and toss, making sure all are coated
pour in a single layer on sheets and bake 17-20 minutes
Cool completely on racks, and break into pieces. Store them in air tight bags or containers. They freeze wonderfully!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ode to the Crab Cake!

Why does it seem so difficult to get a great crab cake? Am I asking too much that a crab cake be full of lump, sweet, succulent meat and not bread fillers or over spiced to the point the delicate flavor is lost? I must be honest, I have consumed dozens of crab cakes with in my life, yet only a small handful have I been pleased with.
Last night I had a great date night! My mission: to find an amazing crab cake. We started off at a nearby lobster lounge. Yes, I'm a sucker for a great lounge! There is something about sipping martini's as a pianist plays Jazz and Sinatra, and the dim lights and bow ties on the bartenders only add to my secret indulgence. The ambiance was perfect, but I was there for more.
We ordered the infamous crab cakes, and I was ready for the critiquing to begin. One, single, beautifully crisp, lump crab cake over a creamy ribbon of sauce. It looked like perfection, but I had been fooled before. I gently cut the cake to reveal the center. There were no fillers visible to my eyes, and no over sized chunks of sauteed vegetables, but yet more of the same jumbo pieces of crab. So far, the dish was passing with flying colors, but the taste was going to be the deciding factor. I placed the bite in my mouth, and to much of my amazement, I was speechless. This was it! This is what I had been looking for in a crab cake all these years! The meat was simple, yet decadent, and the texture was firm but not tough. The flavor was delicate and sweet and the sauce complimented each aspect of the perfectly browned, crispy cake. I was satisfied, no, I was elated. Not only did I experience an amazing date with my best friend, but my confidence in the usually over-filled, over mixed, over cooked an drenched crab cake was restored. Thank you Steve Fields, my confidence has been restored and my passion has been revisited that there are others out there that appreciate all the true and simple pleasures that one simple crab cake has to offer.

Succulent Crab Cakes with Herbed Vinaigrette

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 TBL minced fresh dill
1 TBL minced fresh tarragon
1 TBL minced fresh cilantro
1 TBL minced green onion
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

For vinaigrette:
Whisk oil, lemon juice, dill, tarragon, cilantro, green onion, and mustard in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Do ahead Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Crab cakes
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup minced green onions
2 large egg yolks
2 TBL fresh lemon juice
4 tsp minced fresh dill
4 tsp minced fresh tarragon
4 tsp minced fresh cilantro
1 TBL Dijon mustard
1 TBL finely grated lemon peel
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1LB Blue crabmeat or Dungeness crabmeat
2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs). divided

2 tablespoons (or more) butter
2 tablespoons (or more) olive oil

2 5-ounce containers herb salad mix
Fresh dill sprigs
Fresh tarragon sprigs
Fresh cilantro sprigs

For crab cakes:
Line baking sheet with waxed paper. Whisk first 10 ingredients in large bowl. Mix in crab meat and 1 cup panko, breaking up crab meat slightly. Let stand 10 minutes. Place remaining panko on rimmed baking sheet, spreading slightly. Form crab mixture into sixteen 2-inch-diameter patties, using about 1/4 cup for each. Press both sides of patties into panko. Transfer patties to waxed-paper-lined baking sheet. Cover and chill at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon oil in each of 2 heavy large skillets over medium-high heat. Add crab cakes to skillets and cook until golden on both sides, adding more butter and oil as needed, about 5 minutes total.
Place salad mix in very large bowl. Add 1/2 cup vinaigrette; toss. Arrange crab cakes on platter. Garnish with herb sprigs, drizzle with some of remaining vinaigrette, and serve with salad.

Only for those......