Osso Buco, Baby!

October 17, 2010

Wow, this menu is amazing, if I do say so myself!  It’s all about magical combinations.  The menu itself is a magical combination:

* Osso Buco (braised veal shanks)  Garnished with Gremolata
* Buttered Egg Noodles with Fresh Parsley
* Sweet Peas with Beurre Blanc Drizzle and Chives
* Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

It all sounds so fancy, but everything on this menu is easy to make and offers up big WOW flavor and big WOW presentation.

Osso Buco with Gremolata

After the veal shanks are browned, the french vegetable combo, mirepoix is added to the roasting pan.  Mirepoix, pronounced, “mere pwah”, is the classic trio of onions, celery and carrots.  This combo is used to flavor many soups and stews.  I love it for braising meats.    The pan is deglazed with white wine and the famous herb combo of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme is added.

I served the osso buco (veal shanks) with a pan sauce made from the braising liquid and topped them with another amazing combo, Gremolata.  Gremolata is a garnish made from citrus peel and herbs.  I made my Gremolata from lemon and orange zest, garlic and parsley.  Look at the photo above and see how festive it looks scattered over the shanks!  Festive and flavorful!

Osso Buco with Cappellacci all'Uovo (Italian Egg Noodles Shaped like Marigolds) and Sweet Peas

Braised meat generally renders a gorgeous pan sauce.  I love to pair the meat with buttery egg noodles for soaking up all that heavenly sauce.  For my menu, I used a fancy Italian egg pasta called, Cappellacci all’Uovo, which means egg noodles shaped like marigolds.  You can use any egg noodle you like.  My favorite way to do egg noodles is to serve them with a little butter, salt and pepper, and a lot of fresh parsley.  Now, that’s a combo you can’t go wrong with.

I wanted a simple vegetable to balance the big flavor of the veal.  I settled on peas, but I can’t just serve plain peas can I?  Heck no.  I served the peas with a beurre blanc sauce and chopped fresh chives.  Beurre blanc is a classic french sauce made from lemon juice, white wine, whole cream and butter.  Wow, a drizzle of that sauce over the peas took them to a whole new level.  Still simple but , oh my, delicious!

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

For my final classic pairing, I served a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.  Can you have carrot cake without cream cheese frosting?  I think not.  It was moist and tasty but I must admit, I used a Duncan Heinz cake mix.  My regular readers know I’m not the most experienced dessert maker.

I was rooting around in my cupboards looking for cake pans and found I didn’t have any cake pans.  Oh yeah, I don’t know how to make cake!  I don’t think I’ve ever made cake!  My husband was an angel and flew to the store to buy a couple of cake pans.  Now that I’ve succeeded at the box mixed cake, I’m tempted to try a carrot cake from scratch.  Does anyone have any good cake recipes or cake making tips?


Pork, Polenta and Plums

October 3, 2010

Panzanella - Tuscan Bread Salad

I was inspired by a fabulous recipe for a Panzanella, which is a Tuscan salad made with fresh tomatoes, toasted bread cubes and any number of herbs and vegetables all drizzled with good olive oil and vinegar.  I had to have this salad!

I had planned on a pork tenderloin roulade (stuffed and rolled), but I decided this salad would be too busy looking, next to a fussy, twirly, stuffed pork roll.

Succulent Slow Roasted Pork

So, Boston Butt pork roast was the obvious substitution.  Yummy, so succulent, so delicious!

I slow roasted it on a bed of rough cut onion, carrots and  celery (the holy trinity of the kitchen).  I poured a bottle of Spanish Naranja Agria (Bitter Orange Marinade) over the roast.  The Cubans make the same sauce and call it Mojo.  My grocery store has at least five different versions and brands of this marinade.  It’s made of bitter or sour oranges, garlic, onions, cumin, salt and pepper.  It makes and excellent marinade or braising sauce for pork.

To go with the pork roast, I decided on polenta.  I haven’t had it in ages and it’s been calling to me.  While sorting through my recipe stacks, I came across a recipe for pumpkin sage grits, which sounded amazing to me.  I morphed that headline into pumpkin polenta with sage and chives.

Way better than grits, don’t you think?

Creamy Polenta with Sage and Chives

The polenta was creamy, cheesy comfort food heaven!  I served it in a rustic wooden bowl with a big wooden serving spoon.  It looked like a magazine shoot.  Too bad I didn’t get a very good shot of it myself, but you must trust me, it was gorgeous.

I topped it all off with a plum cobbler and vanilla ice cream.  I love this cobbler recipe.  The plum mixture has a bit of fresh ginger in it, which provides a nice surprise in your mouth.  Most cobblers use a biscuit type dough for a crust.  This recipe uses a cross between a pie crust and a biscuit.  To flour, sugar and baking soda, you add chilled butter and chilled CREAM CHEESE and the dough is moistened with BUTTER MILK.  Can you stand it?  Doesn’t that sound fabulous?  And to just take the whole thing over the top, course ground turbinado sugar is sprinkled on the crust before baking.  Check out the recipe.  Really easy, really amazing.

Warm Plum Cobbler Waiting for a Dollop of Vanilla Ice Cream

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