Sunday, August 26, 2012

Jamaican Jerk Burgers with Orange-Chipotle Mayonnaise [Rhonda]

Degree of difficulty: easy
Time: 10 minutes prep, plus grilling time
Serves: 6

This burger is such a nice switch from the usual cheeseburger and takes about the same amount of time in the kitchen, which is to say, not much, particularly if you stir up the mayo ahead of time. (By the way, orange-chipotle mayo has major potential for any number of things--steamed shrimp, crispy fried fish--it's ridiculously tasty.)

Although I've made a few additions and changes over time, the basis of this recipe is from Lynne Rosetto Kasper's newsletter, The Splendid Table, from American Public Media. I highly recommend you subscribe to it if you don't already, as Kasper has an amazing repertoire of interesting menu ideas. I met her at a cooking demonstration at the North Market in Columbus several years ago, and she is as nice as she is smart.


Orange-Chipotle Mayonnaise:
1 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons orange juice
Zest of 1 orange
1 tablespoon minced canned chipotle chiles (I use much more--I love the intensity of this flavor!)

Jerk Sauce:
1 bunch scallions, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (I use a sprinkle of dried when I don't have fresh)
1 small habanero chile or 2 medium jalapeno chiles, seeded, chopped
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup soy sauce

2 pounds ground beef

6 sesame seed hamburger buns
Spinach leaves or romaine lettuce
Tomato slices

For orange-chipotle mayo: Mix all ingredients in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Can make a day ahead, refrigerate.

For jerk sauce: Finely chop first 4 ingredients in food processor. Add sugar, oil and soy sauce, process until almost smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat grill (I'm still old-school and use charcoal--it adds such a nice flavor). Set aside 3/4 cup jerk sauce. (The rest of the jerk sauce can be served with the burgers or refrigerated to use on chicken, pork, etc.)

Shape ground beef into six patties, place in a glass baking dish, pour 1/2 cup of jerk sauce over patties and turn to coat. Let stand 20 minutes.

Grill patties, brushing with remaining jerk sauce from baking dish. Assemble hamburgers, using the lettuce, tomato, patties and orange-chipotle mayo.  Serve immediately.

Suggested soundtrack: It kept playing in my head as I devoured my burger--Usher's "OMG"
Omg Usher by Omg on Grooveshark

Simple Summer Sweet Corn [Rhonda]

Degree of difficulty: super easy
Time: 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how quick you are with a knife
Serves: 2 to 4

A recent trip to the New Albany Farmers Market yielded an abundance of beautiful, just-picked white sweet corn. In lieu of firing up the grill and roasting it with chile lime butter, or steaming it on the cob, I quickly removed it from the cob, added a little butter and salt, briefly warmed it and stirred in a spoonful of creme fraiche at the end. It was heavenly, and all the rich, simple corn taste came bursting through.

4 ears white sweet corn (Silver Queen, perhaps)
1 to 2 tablespoons butter
Dollop of creme fraiche or 2 tablespoons heavy cream
Sprinkle of sea salt

Serve warm.

Suggested soundtrack: Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat's "Lucky"
Lucky by Jason Mraz And Colbie Caillat on Grooveshark

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Clams with Chiles and Lemongrass [Rhonda]

Degree of difficulty: easy
Time: 15 minutes prep (easy), 3 minutes to steam the clams
Serves: 2 as an appetizer, 1 as an entree

Clipped from a magazine some time ago--Elle Decor? Martha Stewart Living?--this is such a clean, yet bracing and spicy way to serve littleneck clams. The hardest part is finding tender, fresh-caught clams--Whole Foods comes through regularly, as well as reputable fish markets. Paired with a chilled pinot grigio, some bread and a salad, it makes a late summer dinner on the terrace delightful.

Coarse salt
1 dozen small clams (littlenecks are fabulous), rinsed well
1 stalk lemongrass, hard outer leaves removed and reserved, bottom four inches of stalks thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 or 2 small fresh green chiles (jalapeno, serrano or Thai chiles), thinly sliced crosswise
1 or 2 small fresh red chiles (Holland chiles or cherry peppers)
Juice of 1 lime, plus a few lime wedges
1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
Several sprigs fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped

Dissolve 2 tablespoons salt in a large bowl of cold water. Add clams. Let soak at room temperature 10 minutes. Drain. Scrub clams under cold running water. Transfer to a large bowl of fresh cold water. Repeat, scrubbing clams and rinsing. Drain.

Put reserved lemongrass leaves in a large pot with 1/2 inch of water. Bring to a boil. Add clams. Steam, covered, until clams open, three minutes or so. Drain and reserve clams in separate dish. Discard any unopened clams and the leaves.

To the pot add oil, sliced lemongrass, shallots, garlic and chiles. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until lemongrass and shallots turn golden, about a minute. Remove from heat. Add clams back to pot, gently stir to coat.

Stir together lime juice and fish sauce in small bowl, expanding the amounts if you need to, and pour over clams. Transfer clams to a large serving bowl, sprinkle with cilantro. Garnish with lime wedges.

Suggested soundtrack: Don Omar Tego Calderon "Bandolero"
Bandolero (c. Tego Calderon) by Don Omar on Grooveshark

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Fig, Ricotta, and Honey Crostini [Zack]

When I don't want to have a heavy dinner, I skip out on meat.  I especially try to avoid red meat if I get home from work late and need to eat a later diner.  Nobody likes to wake up in the morning and feel heavy.

This recipe is very simple and has a few interesting flavors that meld together to produce a crunchy addition to any meal.  The sweet figs and honey balance out with the rich ricotta and savory, garlicy bread.

Try this one with a fresh summer salad!


(honey not pictured)

Slice your bread into 1/4 inch (or 1 cm) slices.  Heat your oven to 350F / 175C.

Lay the slices on a baking tray and lightly brush them with olive oil.

Pop the tray into the oven and bake for about 7 to 10 minutes, until it's brown and crispy.  Make sure to watch it - bread burns quickly!

While the bread is in the oven, mix your ricotta in a bowl with 3 of the sprigs of thyme leaves.  The leaves are easier to strip off of the stems if you run your fingers from the top and work down.  Add a pinch of salt and as much cracked black pepper as you like.

Slice your dried figs thinly.

When the bread comes out of the oven, let it cool until you can handle it, and then brush it with a peeled garlic clove.  The crunchy bread will grate the garlic and it will nicely fragrance the bread.

Spread the ricotta mixture over the bread, top with the slices of fig, and then drizzle honey on top.  Add the leaves from the last thyme sprig for some color.

Serve with something fresh - I chose a summer salad of radish, cilantro, avocado, and a lemon honey dressing.

(makes about 8 large crostini, or 16 baguette-slice sized)

1 loaf of hearty wheat bread
1 250g container of ricotta cheese (~1 cup)
7 dried figs, sliced longways
1 garlic clove
1 to 2T of olive oil
2 T of honey for drizzling on top
4 sprigs of fresh thyme

Gotye - Somebody that I used to know
Somebody That I Used To Know by Gotye on Grooveshark

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Asian Confit Pork Belly [Zack]

Can you recall a time when you were eating ribs and they were so tender that the meat fell straight off the bone?  Have you ever had a piece of cooked bacon where the fat is juicy and slightly crisped?  How about a dish where 5-spice was the star of the show?

If you combine all of those heart-racing memories, that's the definition of a good confit pork belly.  You already know the ratio of meat to fat in pork belly if you have ever seen a piece of uncooked bacon (bacon is made from the belly of the pork).  When the belly is cooked slowly, the meat portion becomes tender like pulled pork.  The fat portions melt in your mouth, and the asian 5-spice flavors sing throughout the whole experience.

It is a perfect appetizer, or the star of a rice bowl with vegetables. You can make this a few days before you entertain and let it sit in the fat in the fridge (see: confit duck legs).

This continued craze over bacon will hopefully cross over to the real thang.  Why?  Because it's somehow way more socially acceptable to have a chunk of confit pork belly instead of a whole plate of bacon for dinner.....


Divide your pork belly up into 4 individual servings.  Sprinkle with 5-spice powder, coriander, and salt.  Let it rest while you prepare the rest of the recipe.

Get a pot going on medium-low heat with 1T of sesame oil.  Once it has heated up, brown all 4 sides of each of the sections of belly.

Take the pot off of the heat once you have browned everything and add in the rest of your oil until the bellies are fully covered.  Toss in your whole garlic cloves - skin-on is okay.  Place the lid on the pot and put it in an oven at 200F / 100C.

Let it slowly cook for 5 or 6 hours.  Check to see if it's meltingly tender by pricking it with a knife.  If your pork belly had a bone in it, the meat will shrink away, exposing the bone.

You can either serve right away, or put it in the fridge once it has cooled off.  If the meat is submerged, it should keep for a few weeks.  To serve at a later time, you can heat the whole pot up, or put it in a frying pan with a little of the oil to warm it through.

4 slices pork belly (bone-in is fine as well)
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1.5 tsp 5-spice powder
1 tsp salt
6 whole cloves of garlic
1T sesame oil
~3 cups canola / peanut oil

optional:  top with some sriracha or hot chiles

Creativity options:
  • Mexican:  substitute cumin instead of 5-spice, top with a fresh green salsa
  • Greek:  continue with the cumin idea, make a feta and yogurt sauce.  OR make friends with a nice butcher and get your hands on some lamb belly
  • Italian:  remove the 5-spice, throw a few juniper berries into the oil. Puree rosemary, garlic, and tomato paste together with a bit of olive oil for the sauce.
Song - The Roots - Duck Down
Duck Down by The Roots on Grooveshark