What’s in the kitchen- Red Pepper Spaetzle in Mustard Cream Sauce

So first off, what’s a spaetzle? Literally translated from German as “little sparrow,” spaetzle is a dish of tiny noodles or dumplings made with flour, eggs, water or milk, and salt. I first saw this made as part of the final episode of Worst Cooks in America on Food Network. The recipe is courtesy of Robert Irvine.

I have made this dish now three times. The first two with German sausage and the last time we grilled pork loins instead. It is a medium difficulty and I made a big mess the first time (lots of pots).

 The Spaetzle:  In a food processor, combine and puree until smooth.

  • ½ cup jarred roasted red peppers
  • 2 tablespoons goat cheese
  • 4 tablesppons chicken stock

In a large pot, boil 4 quarts water to boil. While the water is heating, in a bowl stir the pepper puree with the following:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley
  • ½ cup cold water
  • ½ teaspoon salt.

Stir until just well mixed. The dough will be fairly sticky.

Once the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium. Squeeze or press the dough through a spaetzle maker or a large hole colander. I don’t have spaetzle maker. I used a colander and a rubber spatula. WARNING: Forcing the dough through the colander is physically taxing- It would be highly recommended to have someone hold the colander while the other pushes the dough through the colander. This pressing needs to be completed in a quick manner thus allowing the dough to cook evenly. (I did it in two bathches.) Once the spaetzle has been dropped in the water, cook 2-3 minutes, stirring throughout the cooking time.

Once cooked, remove from the heat and drain thoroughly.

 The Sauce: In a large sauce pan over medium heat add 2 tablespoons unsalted butter and 1 minced shallot, cooking until shallots are light brown. Deglaze the pan with 3 tablespoons white wine or chicken stock. Once deglazed add:

  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook until the cream has thickened, about 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons grated Gruyere cheese.

Note: I double the sauce recipe in order to cover the amount of spaetzle made.

Presentation: I mix the spaetzle and cream sauce before serving, only mixing enough spaetzle as the sauce will cover.

Enjoy.

Good Luck.

Jason Myrlie- J Carsten Homes & Remodeling

What’s in the kitchen- Cedar Plank Salmon

This is a favorite of our family and friends. It’s really easy to do and it tastes fantastic for all ages.

The recipe actually starts in the shop, well at least for me. As the title reveals, we are going to need cedar planks. Byerly’s sells 4 medium sized planks for about $16. And if you don’t have the resources, buying the cedar planks is your best option. But I’ve got a few resources at my disposal, so I make my own.

Cedar Planks

Since I’ve done my share of decks, I always have left over cedar in the shop. I keep the bigger scraps to use in my fire pit and for occasions just like this. I use a cedar 6×6 and my table saw. I set the width at around 3/8” and take 2 passes to cut all the way through. (Note: a band saw would be much easier to use if you have one. Also, take care not to overheat your table saw. This type of cutting puts a lot of strain on even the best table saw.) After ripping to width, I trim the planks to fit the fish and to fit my grill. Once the planks are ready, soak the planks in water for at least an hour prior to use, the longer the better.

The Sauce

The sauce recipe is courtesy Guy Fieri & Food Network with a couple of modifications:

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 jalapenos, cut into rings
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 3 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 1 cup apricot preserves
  • (4) 6-ounce salmon fillets
  • Salt & pepper to taste

I have made this recipe at least five times and have used varying preserves/ jams: Orange marmalade, raspberry, blackberry, jalapeno marmalade, apricot. To be honest, there is not a discernible difference in the finished product, so use what ever you have in your pantry. I also use jarred jalapenos because I like more of a heat kick to my sauce.

In a small pan over medium heat, heat the oil. When hot, add jalapenos and saute until caramelized. Add garlic and before it begins to brown, deglaze pan with white wine. Next, add mustard and preserves and bring to a simmer. Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes and let completely cool before using.

Grilling

Prep your grill of choice to hot. I use charcoal, but this will work on a gas grill nicely as well.  Remove the planks from soaking in water. The Food Network recipe calls for skinned salmon fillets. I prefer to use skin on fillets for two reasons: 1) The skin adds a layer of flavor; 2) the skin acts as a buffer to the cedar plank. The skin will stick to the plank making it really easy to serve the fish skin free. Salt & pepper the salmon to taste.

Place the fish on the planks, trimming off any salmon that will be hanging over the edge. (I use the trimmings on another plank and serve as a little appetizer.) Liberally apply the cooled sauce to the fish. Any extra sauce can be used as additional sauce during cooking or at table. Just be sure not to cross-contaminate the raw fish into the cooled sauce.

Place the planks on the grill grate, directly over hot coals. The first couple minutes of cooking will be fairly smoky as you are burning wet wood. The planks themselves will be very scorched on the bottom and on the top edges up to the fish. Cooking time will depend on the grill temperature, thickness of the fillet, and desired doneness. Typically, I cook mine for 20-25 minutes. I find that it would take a lot to over cook the fish using this method. The moisture in the cedar plank, in a addition to the skin keep the fish moist.

Presentation

I leave the fish on the burnt plank and put that directly on the table. It’s quite a nice presentation just like that. I use a spatula to skim just above the skin and cleanly pull off the fillet, leaving the skin stuck to the plank. Serve with a side of lemon wedges.

Enjoy.

Good Luck.

Jason Myrlie- J Carsten Homes & Remodeling

What’s in the kitchen? Pear & Fennel Salad

I figured that since I like to cook and that I remodel kitchens quite frequently, I should share some of the recipes I find enjoyable. So that’s what I’m doing. The recipes will not be exclusively mine, but rather my version of someone elses creativity. So here we go….stay tuned for more….( to steal a line from a Food Network Star)…good eats.

Pear & Fennel Salad: Recipe courtesy Food Network Magazine

This is a recipe I’ve made twice now, I have to admit that I wasn’t sure how it would taste based on the ingredients. Initially, I had no idea what a fennel was. Wikipedia says fennel is:

“Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is a plant species in the genus Foeniculum (treated as the sole species in the genus by most botanists). It is a member of the family Apiaceae (formerly the Umbelliferae). It is a hardy, perennial, umbelliferous herb, with yellow flowers and feathery leaves. It is indigenous to the shores of the Mediterranean, but has become widely naturalized in many parts of the world, especially on dry soils near the sea-coast and on riverbanks.

It is a highly aromatic and flavorful herb with culinary and medicinal uses, and, along with the similar-tasting anise, is one of the primary ingredients of absinthe. Florence fennel or finocchio is a selection with a swollen, bulb-like stem base that is used as a vegetable.”

And it looks like this:

The recipe goes as follows: Whisk 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar with ½ teaspoon anise seed, salt, and pepper in a serving bowl, then whisk slowly in 1/3 cup olive oil. Add one thinly sliced fennel bulb, two thinly sliced pears, and some parsley. Season with salt and pepper and toss. Top with shaved pecorino.

This is a great summer recipe and goes well with other citrus-themed meals (i.e. fish). I use extra virgin olive oil instead of regular olive oil. I also found that using pears that are on the green side is actually better. (I found that out by accident- there were no ripe pears available when I made this the first time.) The firmness of the pears adds crispness and the pears hold up better for tossing and eating. I let the salad rest at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving. Do not let the salad rest too long though or the fennel will start to wilt.

Enjoy

Good Luck

Jason Myrlie- J Carsten Homes & Remodeling