Saturday, April 24, 2010


Breaded pork cutlet with an absolutely delicious mushroom and bacon gravy. Alright, so this probably isn't something your arteries would appreciate you eating with any regularity, but it made for a hell of a meal when served with some of the best looking asparagus I've seen in a long time (all the diameter of a pencil or less, so just a quick saute with salt, pepper, and a crushed garlic clove).

1 1/2 pounds pork loin, cut into slices and trimmed
1/4 - 1/3 cup all-purpose flour (based on enough to make a roux from the bacon drippings)
1 t freshly ground black pepper
1/2 t garlic powder
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 t paprika
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/3 C cream
2 T dijon mustard
panko bread crumbs
1/2 pound bacon, diced
1 diced small yellow onion
1/2 lb sliced button mushrooms
6 T red wine (burgundy)
oil for frying
1 cup beef stock
2 T unsalted butter, room temperature
2 T chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
Salt to taste

Brown the bacon over medium to medium low heat, while that's browning, flatten the pork out using either a meat mallet or the back of a skillet.
Dip pork in egg, then coat with panko; fry in 350 degree oil until golden brown and fully cooked.
When the bacon is browned remove from the skillet, leaving the fat.
Saute the onion and garlic, then add in the mushrooms and saute.
Push the mushrooms, onion, and garlic to one side of the skillet, toss in the butter, and tilt the skillet to separate the fat from the veggies. Make a roux using the flour (1 C is approximate, use enough to make a roux of proper consistency); cook the roux for a minute or so.
Add the cream, milk, wine, mustard, paprika, garlic powder, parsley, and pepper and allow to cook until thickening.
Adjust the gravy to the proper consistency by adding the beef stock a little at a time and allowing to simmer.
Adjust seasoning to taste and serve on top of the breaded pork.

Greek Phyllo Roll

A favorite main course when I'm looking for something that looks fantastic, but doesn't involve too much work. Also nice is that a good chunk of the work can be done the day before.

2 T butter
1 small onion
1 1/2 lb ground beef, veal, or lamb
1 c chopped tomato (I often increase this and use a whole can of chopped tomato)
1.5-2 inch stick cinnamon
1/2-1 t basil
2 eggs, separated
1/2 c grated mizithra or kefalotyri cheese
1/2 t grated nutmeg
package phyllo (or half package for boxes with two plastic wrapped portions)
melted butter for brushing the phyllo
2 hard boiled eggs, sliced
1 T chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1.5 c whole milk
4.5 T butter
4.5 T flour


1. Melt butter in a large frying pan and saute the onion.
2. Add the meat and cook, then add the tomato and cinnamon, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Remove the lid, season appropriately, keeping in mind the cheese may add to the saltiness.
4. Remove the cinnamon stick, stir in the basil, and cool the meat.
5. When cool mix the egg whites into the meat; this mixture may be made a day in advance and refrigerated.
6. Sauce: Melt 4.5 T butter in a sauce pan and add the flour; whisk together and cook for a couple of minutes.
7. Add the milk and whisk together while cooking until a smooth sauce is obtained.
8. Add the egg yolks, cheese, and nutmeg to this, and taste for seasoning.
9. Prepare the phyllo base; I put down three pieces of phyllo per layer, putting one running length away from you and two running length parallel ( like l=), with the edges overlapping slightly to form a large rectangle.
10. Brush the whole thing with melted butter, then put down the next layer flipping which side the parallel pieces are on ( =l ).
11. Continue this until you've used the package and created a good base. Transfer this to a large pyrex dish (you want something with some sides on it to catch anything that leaks); don't worry if you overlap the edges of the dish a little, as you'll be rolling this with the filling in it.
12. Spread half the sauce on the base, leaving margins around the edges for rolling.
13. Lay the sliced eggs on the sauce, sprinkle with parsley, then add the meat mixture.
14. Add the rest of the sauce. Roll it up and flip so the seam side is down in the pan; this can be a little messy.
15. Place in a 350 degree oven until golden brown.
16. Notes: Both mizithra and kefalotyri cheese add different flavors, and both can be hard to find if you're not in an area with a lot of ethnic groceries; I'm lucky in that there are about 20 around here. I've only made it with kefalotyri once (only found it once), but prefer mizithra anyway. In a pinch (when in lands populated primarily by culinary heathens) I've actually substituted a good white cheddar; it's good, but just not the same.
17. As far as the meat, I'm usually short on money so I use ground beef and it works out well, but both ground veal and ground lamb would be delicious.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mushroom and Cheese Ravioli with Smoked Tomato Cream Sauce

Fresh pasta (and I'm swiping this from Batali; it also makes far more than you'll need, but fresh pasta is a wonderful thing):
3.5 C AP flour
4 extra large eggs

For the filling:
8 oz full fat ricotta
1/4 C romano or parmesan
8 oz mushrooms, minced
1-2 shallots, minced
2 T butter

For the sauce:
~2C heavy cream
two moderate handfuls of smoked tomatoes*

Salt and pepper to taste in both the sauce and filling

*I smoked the tomatoes myself; I made these by mostly dehydrating them then sticking them over low temperature but intense smoke. To be exact I used Mortgage Lifter and Amish Paste (heirloom varieties that aren't too sweet when fresh) tomatoes over a charcoal fire adding fresh wet hickory every 30-45 minutes or so for 2 hours without letting the temperature get past 200 F in the smoker. If the tomatoes weren't sufficiently dry for cabinet storage after the smoker I dehydrated them further until crisp.

Make a well in the pasta, add in the eggs and beat the eggs.
Mix in the flour, adjusting flour/water so you have a just slightly sticky pasta.
Knead for 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary.
Let's be honest, you didn't knead it enough, knead it some more.
Let it rest for 20 minutes.
Now, you can either use a pasta maker, or a rolling pin. If using a rolling pin you might as well double the prep time, and you'll have to guess about the thickness of the dough, because I did all this using the settings on my pasta maker.
Start on the thickest setting, run the dough through, run it through again, fold it in half lengthwise, run it through, then run it through again (flouring as necessary).
Repeat that for each setting on the pasta maker until you reach either the next to thinnest or thinnest setting (depending on the amount of pasta you want to your filling and how much chew you want). This develops the gluten and makes for a somewhat chewy (when al dente) pasta to contrast with a creamy sauce and filling.

Melt the butter then saute the shallot.
Add in the mushrooms, salt and pepper (keep in mind the romano will add to the salt), and saute over medium or medium low until you've cooked pretty much all the moisture out of the mushrooms.
Allow the mushrooms to cool some, before adding them to the ricotta and romano and food processoring to thoroughly combine.
Check and adjust seasoning.

Toss the cream and the smoked tomatoes in a sauce pan and bring to a low simmer (don't let it come to a full boil). Keep it here for about 20 minutes.
Add salt and pepper, then puree either with a blender or stick blender. The tomatoes should provide all the thickening agent the sauce needs, but a little romano could be okay if it's not quite there.

Cut the pasta sheet in half, and on one half space out teaspoons worth of the filling leaving enough room to cut individual ravioli.
Seal the other sheet of pasta on top (which may require a little water or egg wash if your pasta is dry, you want a solid seal), trying to minimize the amount of air around the filling.
Cut the pasta using an appropriately sized ring mold or similar (or even a sharp knife if that's all you have, but then be prepared to increment up the prep time).

Dump the ravioli in a large amount of salted water at a high boil, and cook to desired doneness (I tend to go for quite al dente).
Spoon the sauce on top, sprinkle a little parmesan and maybe some chopped parsley and serve.

*Additional notes: This is the alpha version of this recipe (came up with it tonight), and all amounts are approximate. That said, the way it turned out, I'd crawl across broken glass for seconds. This also strikes me as a recipe where you could do everything except the sauce and the cooking of the finished ravioli the day before, or even freeze the uncooked ravioli so you could cook the ravioli and make the sauce in a few minutes for a short notice special dish.