Friday, August 30, 2013

A change of pace for rabbit

Back in action!! So, I acquired myself a bunch of different eggplants, and just could not come up with any ideas of what to do with them!  Kermit eggplants, rosa bianca eggplants, globe eggplants, you name it.   I took myself to the market to see if I could garner any more inspiration for a dish to make, and that's when I saw the game changer - rabbit saddle!  Definitely wasn't initially on my radar to be combined with eggplant, but figured I could come up with something fun and exciting....and this dish is exactly that! Visually, it looks great, but most importantly, the taste is definitely on point.  All of the components result in an awesome dish from start to finish - so find yourself some rabbit saddle and get to work!

Curry-Dusted Rabbit Saddle, Cardamom Yogurt, Eggplant
4 rabbit saddles
Olive oil
Fresh ground pepper
Mild curry powder
1 t minced garlic
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 t cardamom extract
1 large purple eggplant
1 small eggplant (I used Rosa Bianca) 
1 orange, for zesting
1/3 c dry white wine
1/2 c chicken stock

First, start out by making some eggplant chips and the eggplant puree.  Preheat the oven to 250F.  Take the small eggplant and thinly slice it on a mandolin - about 1/8 inch thick. Arrange the eggplant slices flat on a baking sheet, and sprinkle with a little salt.  Allow the eggplant to cook until it gets super crispy, about 45 minutes.  

For the puree, raise the heat of the oven to 400F.  Cut the eggplant in half, and score the interior with a sharp knife.  Drizzle with a fair amount of olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper, and lay it cut side down on a baking sheet.  Cook the eggplant until the inside is super mushy, about an hour.  It's done when a knife can be inserted easily through the flesh.  Scoop out the flesh and place it into another bowl - either use a fork to crush up the eggplant, or a mortar and pestle to get it to a smoother consistency.  Zest the orange into the eggplant, and season with salt and pepper.

While the eggplant for the puree is cooking, you can prep the yogurt as well as the rabbit.  In a small bowl, mix together the Greek yogurt and cardamom extract.  You could also use toasted, ground cardamom - about the same amount - if you can't find any extract.  Set aside.

For the rabbit, lightly salt all sides, then rub each saddle with curry powder.  Use a decent amount, because you want to create a nice crust on the saddle.  Heat up a cast iron pan over medium-high heat.  Swirl in a bit of olive oil into the pan, and when it's shimmering place the rabbit saddles in.  Sear all around until you achieve a nice golden crust, about 7 minutes.  Remove the rabbit from the pan and let it rest for about 5 minutes.  Once you're ready to plate, slice each saddle into about 5-6 slices.  Make a quick pan sauce as well - toss in the garlic and cook until golden.  Deglaze the pan with dry white wine, scraping the bottom to pick up any rabbit bits.  Next, stir in the chicken stock, bring to a boil, and allow to reduce down for a few minutes until thick.

To plate, spoon a bit of the pan sauce on each plate, and drizzle with the Greek yogurt.  Spoon a bit of the eggplant puree on each plate, and top with a few eggplant chips.  Next, place the rabbit saddle pieces atop of the pan sauce and yogurt.  Eat all together and enjoy!

This is definitely a fun dish to cook, and has a great flavor combination also!  It's a pretty standard Middle Eastern combo, but the preparation of all the items lends to a subtle spice combination as opposed to being aggressive, which a lot of recipes that use these flavors results in.  The rabbit is super tender, and pairs stunningly with the eggplant and cardamom yogurt.  Overall, it's a fun dish in terms of textural variety, flavors, and visual pieces.  Absolutely delicious!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

summer living


Summer time, and the livin' is easy. Oh, is it now? Gerswhin, get it together.  I suppose it's easier livin' wuth this than livin with 5 feet of snow, so I'll take it.

I will say, the livin' is MADE a bit more easy when you use food and ingredients as your barometer for summertime living. Tomatoes, zucchini, corn, peaches....everything! Summertime ingredients are all exploding with flavor - you can get by with the simplest of preparations.  It's good for instant gratification!

So let's talk some summertime ingredients.  Tomatoes (YES!) - still not at their peak yet, but well on their way.  I couldn't resist.  Sweet corn - the epitome of summer!  You know what they say - what grows together, goes together. So cheesy...but so true. I decided to do a little something with my summertime veggies (sidebar: technically, fruit and grass), keep it simple, and let the ingredients do the work.  The only item I truly do much of anything to are the balsamic marinated pearl onions.  So good!

Summer Tomatoes with Sweet Corn Vinaigrette, Roasted Zucchini, Balsamic Marinated Onions, and Popcorn
1.5-2# heirloom tomatoes, diced (large)
1 large zucchini or 2 small zucchini - I used a huge Costata Romanesco Zucchini
3 ears corn
1/4 cup basil, roughly torn/chopped
Balsamic Onions (recipe follows)
1/4 popcorn kernels
Granulated garlic
Dehydrated lemon zest
Olive oil
Fresh ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 300F, then get started off by making a corn reduction.  Shuck each of the ears of corn, removing all the silk.  Break each ear in half, grate the kernels off on a box grater, and place all in a shallow saucepan.  Add water to cover, and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat, and allow the liquid to reduce for about 10-12 minutes. Strain the liquid through cheese cloth, and bring the liquid back up to a boil.  Reduce to a syrupy consistency.  Let cool and season to taste.  Emulsify with a bit of olive oil and set aside.

While the corn liquid is reducing, thinly slice the zucchini on a mandolin - about 1/2 centimer thick.  Brush each slice, front and back, with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and cook until just roasted through and golden.

Nexy, pop the popcorn.  Yo ucan either use an air popper, or put some kernels in a pan with a bit of oil over medium heat and wait till all of the kernels are popped. Make sure you don't burn them!  Toss with a bit of granulated garlic and dehydrated lemon zest.  Taste for seasoning.

Roughly chop the tomatoes and toss with a few tablespoons of the corn vinaigrette and a pinch of basil.  Season with salt and pepper if necessary. On a plate, place a few zucchini slices, and top with a bit of the tomato mixture.  Scatter some popcorn around, top with the remaining basil, and enjoy!

Definitely a solid summer combo.  If you use these ingredients when they're right in season, all of the flavors come through brightly and don't overpower one another.  A bit of sweetness is added from the corn reduction and gives a hint of corn flavor.  The popcorn adds a bit of fun to the dish, but most importantly a nice crunch. Overall, delicious! If you like, finish with a bit of grated parmesan cheese.

Balsamic Onions
1-2 cups red pearl onions
Balsamic Vinegar, to cover

Bring a medium saucepan full of water to a boil.  Meanwhile, cut the tips (not the root) end off of the onion, and any papery skin.  When the water starts to boil, gently toss in the onions, and let cook for about ~3 minutes, or until tender.  Strain, rinse with cold water, and let cool.  When the onions are cool enough to touch - this is the fun part - grab the onion by the root base, and literally squeeze them to pop out the heart of the onion.  This gets rid of the first outer layers of the onion.  Perfect!

Place in a mason jar or other sealable container, and cover with balsamic.  These get better with time, so the further ahead you can make them - even a few days - the better.  Don't be afraid to make large batches either - these are absolutely delicious!