Thursday, August 26, 2010

Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese Croquettes

So I'm at my parent's beachhouse for the last three weeks of my maternity leave. My mom is here with me, and the baby too of course, and my husband comes up on the weekends. My mom and I have been doing a lot of dinners at home because lately it just seems like we can make whatever we would get in a restaurant, only much better, not to mention cheaper - GEESH do they jack up the prices in these resort towns!! Insane. Anyway, this salad is one of those dishes. They serve something similar at one of the local restaurants and charge something like $12 for a measly portion. I made this salad into a meal for my mom and myself. It was delicious! The combination of roasted beets and tangy goat cheese can't be, well...BEET! Get it?? Ok....I'll BEET it with the bad puns. No but really I'm done now. Haha.
Ok. So I combined a few recipes for similar salads out on the interwebs and came up with this version. I found the method for baking the goat cheese croquettes, rather than frying them, on Annie's Eats and the method for roasting the beets from Everyday Italian's Giada De Laurentiis. So cancel that reservation at your fancy coastal cuisine restaurant and get out your roasting pan because this simple, elegant yet hearty salad can be your dinner in no time flat! Enjoy!

Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese Croquettes
1 package of mixed field greens
6 beets, stems and leaves removed
1 red onion
1 avocado, sliced
1/2 cup of candied walnuts (you can purchase these already prepared)

For the Goat Cheese Croquettes:
1 log of goat cheese
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup breadcrumbs

For the Dressing:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tb shallots, minced
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Prepare your dressing. Whisk all the ingredients together and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Next, prepare your goat cheese croquettes. Slice your log of goat cheese in 3/4 in slices - you should probably end up with about 8 if you have an 8 oz. log of goat cheese. Have your egg and breadcrumbs set up in separate bowls for dipping. First dip the goat cheese slices in the beaten egg and then into the breadcrumbs. Arrange in a single layer on a plate and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, rinse your beets, but no need to peel them. The skins will come off easily after boiling. Place your trimmed beets into a large saucepan. Cover with cold water and set to boil on the stove. Boil the beets until you can stab a toothpick through them. Drain and rinse in cold water. Once the beets are cool you will be able to easily remove the skins. Cut the beets into quarters and place onto a rimmed baking sheet. Slice your red onion and toss it with the beets on the baking sheet. Toss the beets and onions with a few tablespoons of your prepared dressing, enough to lightly coat all the beets and onions.

Bake the beets and onions until they have caramelized - about 25-30 minutes. Once done, remove from the oven and let cool.

Remove your goat cheese croquettes from the freezer and bake in the oven on 475 degrees for 10 minutes, until golden brown but not melted! You'll want to serve these warm over the salad so don't bake them too far ahead of time.

Arrange your greens in a bowl and add your sliced avocado, candied walnuts and cooled onions and beets. Toss with a generous amount of dressing. Plate your salad and top with two to three goat cheese croquettes. Serve warm.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Homemade Cadillac Margaritas

So I think I need to put a disclaimer at the beginning of this post. Ok, at the risk of ruining my reputation as an upstanding citizen ...I'm a bit of a lush when it comes to Margaritas. I like mine strong and they have to have three kinds of liquor in them - tequila, triple sec and Grand Marnier. To me, if you're going to drink a weak margarita then you might as well just have a glass of limeade, which I'm NOT a fan of.
I decided to make a pitcher of homemade Cadillac Margaritas for my husband and I after I bought a huge bag of limes for a party at one of those bargain warehouse stores and only used like 2 of them. When life gives you limes....well I think you can finish that one.
If I was to do this again, I would probably make my simply syrup less sweet. I'm not too keen on very sugary margaritas and unfortunately these were a bit sweet for me. My husband LOVED them though. Don't tell, but I'm pretty sure he had three.
Enjoy (responsibly of course!)!

Homemade Cadillac Margaritas
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 cups fresh lime juice (about 10-15 limes)
1 cup gold tequila
1/4 cup triple sec
1/3 cup Grand Marnier
lots of ice

In a small saucepan or in the microwave, melt the sugar and water together. Once the sugar is melted and you have a simple syrup, add it to a large pitcher. Mix in your lime juice and liquor. Toss in lots of ice, stir and serve in salt-rimmed glasses over ice.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Clams "Casino" Pizza

Why can I not just make a simple pepperoni pizza? These homemade pizzas are certainly not "fast food" by any means - and I'm not even making homemade pizza dough!!! This idea came to me after seeing a Clams Casino Spaghetti on the menu of one of my favorite Italian restaurants in Bethany Beach, DE. I thought about it and said to myself, "Why can't we put those same toppings on a pizza?" So, I did. With a little twist of course.
The reason I have the word casino in quotes is because it has a few more elements than the traditional clams casino, but the name was catchy, succinct and, well, close enough to the original dish.
I steamed some clams, roasted some tomatoes, roasted some garlic, crisped up some prosciutto and grated some fontina and two hours later (haha) I had a pizza. I know it sounds labor intensive, but it was worth it.
This pizza is brimming with fresh, chopped clams, juicy, smoky tomatoes and topped with a roasted garlic cream sauce. You could easily just make a garlic oil too if you aren't into creamy sauces. Either way, if you like the flavors of clams casino, then I think you'll like this pizza. Enjoy!

Clams "Casino" Pizza

1 bag of pizza dough
2 dozen clams
1 pint of grape tomatoes
3 tb extra virgin olive oil
1 head of garlic
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup grated romano cheese
5 slices of thinly sliced prosciutto
1 cup of grated Italian Fontina cheese
a handful of fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper

To start, steam your clams until they open up. Once open, remove the clams from their shells, clean out any sand, and then chop. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350. You will be crisping up your prosciutto, roasting your tomatoes and roasting your garlic in the oven and can do it all on separate racks at the same time.
Place your prosciutto on a baking sheet and cook in the oven until crispy, 15-20 minutes. Remove and crunch up into pieces. Set aside.
In the same oven you can roast your grape tomatoes. Toss them with 2 tablespoons olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast until softened, about 25-30 minutes. Remove and set aside.
For the garlic, slice off the top of a whole bulb of garlic. Rub with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and place in a small baking dish. Pour water into the dish so it covers to about 1/4 way up the side of the bulb. Cover with foil. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes until the bulb is golden and soft. Once done, remove from the oven, let cool and then squeeze the pulp out from the bulb.

To make the cream sauce:
Mash your roasted garlic into a paste. In a small saucepan, whisk together your garlic paste, garlic powder and heavy cream until combined. Let the cream mixture come to a simmer and then reduce the heat. Mix in your grated romano cheese and season with salt and pepper. Once thickened, remove from the heat.

Prepare your pizza dough. You can either parbake it in a 350 oven or on a hot, oiled pan over the grill. Once the pizza dough has cooked up, remove from the heat and start to assemble your toppings. You want to cook the raw pizza dough first, then top it and then just heat and melt the cheese in a hot oven or over a hot grill.

First, spread half of your roasted garlic cream sauce over the crust of the pizza. Top evenly with your chopped clams, roasted tomatoes and crisped prosciutto. Finally, top with your grated fontina cheese. Drizzle with the rest of your cream sauce. Place the pizza back in the 350 oven and cook until your cheese has melted. Remove and top with chopped fresh basil. Slice and serve.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Ten Oaks Tavern's Buffalo Shrimp

I love it when this happens. Let me start from the beginning. We live in a suburb. There aren't too many great, local restaurants out here but there are a few gems. And most of those places have one or two menu items that we end up nearly craving at least once a month. This shrimp dish is one of those such items. A local tavern out in the country, a true neighborhood pub, serves this delicious Buffalo Shrimp .
I'm not real sure why they call it "buffalo" shrimp since it doesn't taste like that chicken wing sauce everyone knows so well. For the longest time I couldn't figure out what spices they were using - I just knew they were good! Half a dozen plump, juicy shrimp, their outside layer caramelized to a perfect toothiness and are then swimming in a spicy buttery sauce. Then it happened!
I was getting my haircut at the salon in the same strip mall that the tavern is in (like I said, suburbs) and my hairdresser and I got to talking about local gossip. Before you know it we were discussing the shrimp and how good they are and she told me she got the recipe from the tavern's cook! She told me the recipe and that was that! I tried my hand at it last weekend when I was at the beach with my mom. The results were delicious and almost an exact replica of the restaurant's dish. It uses blackening seasoning as the spice component and sautes the shrimp in a butter and white wine sauce.
The dish works best if made in a cast iron skillet, but I unfortunately don't have one of those so I had to use a regular skillet. We didn't get that nice caramelization on the shrimp, but the flavor was still there. And there is so much sauce that you could easily serve this shrimp over rice or pasta if you wanted to make a nice, full meal out of it. So now, when I don't feel like going out to eat, I can make one of my favorite local restaurant meals myself at home. Like I said, I love it when this happens. Enjoy!

Ten Oaks Tavern's Buffalo Shrimp
source: my hairdresser

1 pound of large shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 15-20 shrimp total)
1 stick of butter (I know, just go with it)
1 tablespoon of Phillips Blackening Seasoning
1/2 cup of dry white wine
1/4 cup prepared blue cheese dressing for serving

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and blackening seasoning to the pan until it melts together and the butter browns slightly. Add in the shrimp and allow them to sear in the seasoned butter. Don't mix them around too much because you want to get a nice, crusty sear on them. Once the shrimp are cooked, remove them from the pan and then deglaze the pan with your dry white wine. Let the alcohol cook off and then pour the winey butter sauce over the shrimp. Serve hot with blue cheese dressing for dipping.