Grilled Oysters with Wasabi Mayo

The Serving Wench:

This looks amazing! Check out this other food blog The Garum Factory. The photography and recipes are an inspiration.

Originally posted on The Garum Factory:

One charmed fall weekend Jody and I were asked to judge the oyster shucking competition at the annual Wellfleet OysterFest.  A free weekend in Wellfleet.  Close proximity to more straight-from-the-ocean bivalves than I could ever reasonably consider eating.  Bring it on.  But watching pros shuck oysters was  a revelation, like sitting in the passenger seat of a professional race car while rocketing around a track at 185 mph.,  inspiring equal parts terror and admiration.  The goal was to shuck a couple dozen oysters as fast as possible.  Winning time was a bit under two minutes – that is, an oyster every five seconds.  Chipped shells, mangled oysters, debris and, oh yes, the occasional splash of blood, were all penalized.  Talking with some of the competitors afterward, I heard one story after another of inattentive shuckers putting the the blade of an oyster knife through a palm or the base of…

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Kimchi Chigae (Kimchi Stew)

Photo by The Serving Wench

Photo by The Serving Wench

After watching Despicable Me 2 (watch it!), I wanted, ever so badly, to have minions.  I mean, who wouldn’t really?  If I had minions to help me in all aspects of my life, then I could sit around watching episodes of Archer and plot what dishes I could conjure up.  Well…I might do that already.  Okay honestly, I probably would be playing with my minions and showing them off at work.  So, in essence it would probably be counterproductive.  I still feel like Tony Stark in Iron Man 2 telling Pepper Potts, “I want one.”

With life’s many demands, I finally got to have a weekend off and get in the kitchen.  To those of you that have time to be in the kitchen everyday or at least three times a week, I envy you wholeheartedly.  This dish is quick and truly simple to make.  Which is helpful in my crazy schedule.  This recipe calls for pork belly, but bacon will do.  I love spiciness!  So you can make this as spicy as you want by adding more kimchi juice as you prefer.

I’ll be honest, I don’t much about the history of kimchi but I can describe it in three words: smelly, delicious and can go with anything!  Okay that last part wasn’t a word ,than let’s say a phrase, but seriously I could put kimchi on ANYTHING?  Kimchi on burger, kimchi on sandwiches, kimchi on pizza…  So, I’m sure you get the idea.  I heart kimchi.  If you haven’t tried it, please do.  It may not be for everyone, but you might be just missing out.

*You can make this dish vegetarian by leaving out the meat altogether*

Prep Time: Cooking Time: Difficulty: Servings:
10 min 20 min Easy 4

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6-8 oz. pork belly or bacon
  • 1-2 C   chopped kimchi
  • 1 tsp   red pepper flakes
  • 1 TBS  red pepper paste (gochuchang)
  • 1          white onion
  • 2          green onion stalks
  • 2 TBS  minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • Half a package of tofu
  • ¼ C     kimchi juice
  • 2 C      water

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Slice up the onions, cut the green onions in one-inch length and cut up tofu in squares.
  2. In a pot, add in pork belly, garlic and white onions on medium-high heat.  Cook until pork is halfway done.
  3. Add in the rest of the ingredients (except the green onions and salt and pepper).  Bring to a boil on high (For approximately 10 min).
  4. Reduce heat to medium heat; add in green onions and salt & pepper to taste.
  5. Cook for at least five to ten minutes.
  6. Serve with a side of rice or over rice.

Chicken Florentine Casserole

picture by the Serving Wench

picture by the Serving Wench

WARNING:  This recipe is not healthy.  There is no way around it.  I could have tried healthier alternatives but in all my research for vintage 60′s dishes, it seems that butter and heavy cream was big.  Go big, or go home, right?  Well, in my continued excitement of the pending premiere of Mad Men, I had to be true what they served (at least that’s what I’m telling myself).  Casseroles seemed to have been big in the sixties for entertaining and taking over to friend’s homes.  I’m not big on casseroles and neither was my mom, so this was definitely an experience for me.

This dish was fairly easy to make, but took many steps.  I poured through several recipes and finally decided on one.  I modified it quite a bit.  I love garlic, so I definitely increased the amount used, I wanted to add rice to this dish, but ate it all.  So plan B was to add pasta.  I love to use fresh herbs when I can, but you can substitute dried basil and thyme as the original recipe requested.  It was definitely delicious and look to learning other casserole dishes.

Prep Time: Cook Time: Level: Serves:
20 min. 1 hour Intermediate 8

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 pkgs.  frozen spinach (thawed & drained)
  • ½ stick butter (unsalted)
  • 2 TBS minced garlic
  • 1 TBS fresh thyme
  • 4 fresh basil leaves (chopped)
  • ¼ C (plus 1 TBS) flour
  • 1 C heavy whipping cream
  • 1 lb. chicken tenders
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can of chicken broth*
  • 2 C penne pasta
  • 1 pkg of prosciutto (8 slices)
  • shaved parmesan
  • Salt & pepper

*chicken broth can be substituted for white wine.

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Season and brown chicken.  Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Spray non-stick spray on a casserole pan.  Pour pasta in the dish, covering the bottom.
  3. In a large sauté pan, over medium to medium low heat, add in 1 tablespoon of butter, 1 tablespoon of garlic, basil and thyme.  Stir constantly.
  4. Add a tablespoon of flour and stir well.  Add in spinach and ¼ cup of heavy cream.  Stir well and cook until spinach becomes bright green (about six minutes).
  5. Top the cooked spinach on top of the pasta, covering the whole pan.  Top the spinach with the chicken pieces.
  6. In the same sauté pan, add the rest of the garlic, the rest of the butter and the ¼ cup of flour.  Blend until smooth.
  7. Slowly add in the chicken broth and the rest of the heavy cream.  Stir constantly until sauce thickens (about 15 minutes).  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. As the sauce is simmering, thin slice the prosciutto.  Add these pieces to the sauce.  Mix well and pour the sauce over the whole dish.  Be sure to cover the pasta as well. Sprinkle the parmesan on top.
  9. Cover the pan with aluminum foil.  Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

Recipe was adapted and modified from southernfood.about.com.

Old Fashioned

Photo by The Serving Wench

Photo by The Serving Wench

Full of drama, Mad Men on the AMC network, has become a world-wide phenomenon.  A period drama set in 1960′s Manhattan, NY, specifically on Madison Ave.

With the show’s impending premiere, there will be many watch parties across the globe.  This is a staple drink that should be served if you want a true Mad Men or 60′s themed party.  To anyone who are cocktail connoisseurs or know the history of this particular cocktail, knows that the original Old Fashioned did not incorporate fruit.  Somewhere down the road, fruit was introduced (rumor is fruit was added to sweeten or add flavor during the Depression).  Below I have included the traditional recipe and the one you’ll find Don Draper drinking.

Classic Old Fashioned

  • Angostura bitters
  • American Rye Whiskey
  • ice
  • sugar
  • water
  • lemon or orange peel (as garnish)

Directions:

  1. In a small rocks glass, add ½-1 tsp of sugar, add three dashes of bitters and then add a splash of water.  
  2. Muddle until it becomes a syrup.
  3. Add 2 oz. of rye whiskey
  4. Add ice and stir.
  5. Garnish and enjoy.

Don Draper’s Old Fashioned (Modern recipe, most likely served at bars)

  • Angostura Bitters
  • Bourbon
  • orange wedges
  • Maraschino cherries
  • sugar
  • water
  • ice

Directions:

  1. In a small rocks glass, add an orange wedge, a cherry, a dash of bitters, splash of water and a tsp of sugar.  
  2. Muddle until it becomes a thick syrup.
  3. Add 2 oz. of Bourbon, ice and stir.
  4. Garnish as desired and enjoy (with a cigar, if you want to get fancy and all *tailored suit required for full effect*)

 

Brown Oatbread

Picture by the Serving Wench

Picture by the Serving Wench

In anticipation of the third season of Game of Thrones release on March 31st, this week we will feature recipes that could or would have been served up to the many wearied characters.  Game of Thrones is based on George R.R. Martin’s, “A Song of Fire and Ice” series.  Full of political intrigue, complex characters and dragons.  Yep, you had me at dragons.  There is a food blog dedicated to recreating recipes that are mentioned in the series.  The author painstakingly researched old medieval recipes and did their best to recreate them.

I decided to try the Brown Oatbread recipe.  This bread is light and moist in the center with a perfect crusty top.  This would do well with a chicken dish or served with cheese and wine.  I made a whipped cinnamon honey butter for my loaf and it was amazing.  This is wonderful with jam or plain butter as the original author suggests.  It is quite easy to make, however be forewarned that it is time consuming as you have to wait for the dough to rise.  Cheers and enjoy!

Prep Time: Cooking Time: Difficulty: Serving Size:
1 ½ hour 40 min Easy 1 loaf

INGREDIENT:

  • 2 C      boiling water
  • ½ C     molasses
  • 2 TBS. Butter
  • 1 C      rolled oats (not the instant kind)
  • 1 TBS  yeast
  • ½ tsp  coarse salt (I used regular and it was fine)
  • 2-2 ½ C  flour
  • 1 TBS  melted butter

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Combine the boiling water with the molasses and butter.  Stir until it is well incorporated.  Pour the mixture over the rolled oats and let it sit for 30 min.
  2. When the mixture is warm to the touch, but not hot, stir in the yeast.  Let it sit for 15 minutes.
  3. The mixture should be light and slightly bubbly.  Add salt, and gradually and gently mix in the flour.
  4. Grease a small mixing bowl and transfer the dough.  Cover and let it sit for 30 minutes.
  5. The dough should double in size.  Grease a large loaf pan.  Transfer the dough to the bread pan.  Brush with melted butter and cover.  Let it sit for another 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 350F.  The dough should have doubled in size again.  Place into the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes or until the loaf is a golden brown.
  7. Let the loaf to cool down for 30 minutes and then transfer to a plate.  Slice and serve.

This recipe was adapted from the Inn at the Crossroads blog.

Cracked Peppercorn Pork Tenderloin with a Pineapple Chipotle Glaze

Picture by the Serving Wench

Picture by the Serving Wench

I will never be an artist. Ever.  My paintings or drawings are just glorified stick figures.  I get lucky with that one perfect photo, but that is after a million takes.  However, cooking is where I can just be me.  I zone out in the kitchen.  I love to entertain and feed others because there is that small part of me that I’m sharing with you.  There is a certain intimacy that comes from food.  There are times where an artist loses inspiration and for writer’s it’s called “writer’s block”.  What do they call it when a cook has lost his/hers touch?  I don’t have a name for it but it pretty much means get your butt back in the kitchen.  I’ve poured over many other food blogs, magazines, Pinterest boards, tweets and I envied the time and dedication they had.  Finally, it was like a light switched hit me (yes hit me, okay maybe I ran into it).  In a single moment I had remembered why I loved cooking so much and why baking is therapeutic to me.  Amongst the daily grind and the focusing so much on school and work that I forgot (essentially) about me.

Do what you love and never lose sight of who you are.  For when you do, everything you do thereafter, has no meaning or purpose.  Yes, it was a pretty gnarly run in with the light switch, to lead to an existential moment.  Inspiration and ideas starting flowing and so my kitchen is constantly a mess, my phone notepad app is filled with random ideas.  I’m sure some of the things I’ve thought are not original and that somewhere in this blogosphere there are replications of my ideas but hey, food is art.  The only thing that matters is how it makes you feel in the end.

Today’s post consists of a pork tenderloin seasoned with a cracked peppercorn blend.  You can find several different cracked peppercorn blends at your local grocery store. For this recipe, I chose a blend that contained onions, garlic, salt and peppercorn.  I’m fascinated by the fusion of sweet and spicy.  I thought a pineapple-chipotle glaze would be a good complement to pork.

Prep Time: Cooking Time: Difficulty: Serving Size:
5 min 1 hour Easy 4

INGREDIENT:

  • 1          1 lb. pork tenderloin
  • 2 TBS  cracked peppercorn seasoning
  • 1 can   (8 oz.) diced pineapples
  • 1 C      packed brown sugar
  • ½  tsp ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp  ground ginger
  • ½-1 tsp  ground chipotle peppers

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray a baking pan with non-stick spray.  Season the pork tenderloin well and generously.  Cook the tenderloin between 35-50 minutes.  *Depending on the directions of the package for the tenderloin, cooking times and temperature will vary.
  2. To make glaze, combine all ingredients into a blender and liquefy.
  3. In a medium saucepan, bring mixture to a boil and then let it simmer for 15 to 20 minutes (or until it thickens.)
  4. Turn off the heat and let it stand for 10 minutes.
  5. When pork is done, slice it up and serve on a plate and drizzle glaze on top.

Roasted Red Peppers & Sweet Onion Orzo Pasta

DSCN0203Have you ever looked in your fridge and then looked at your cupboard? Nothing.  Looked back in your fridge and then back at your cupboard?Nothing.  As I sit there fighting with myself, because I know very well there is plenty of food there, but lack the motivation, inspiration or creativity to make things work.  Also, I’m fighting with my laziness to go to the store.  Sometimes, you just want things there, already made.  Like a magic icebox that can read your mind and creates what you crave as you open it, and viola!  Or that magic cupboard from the “Indian and the Cupboard” except  for bringing little toys to life, it brings your dry goods together into a delicious, magnificent dish.

Okay, yes this is all wishful thinking and definitely takes the fun out of cooking.  However, sometimes, just sometimes…

There are many wonderful websites out there can produce recipes for based on what you already have on hand in the kitchen.  Again, I was fighting laziness and time was ticking.  Okay, okay it was more like my tummy was grumbling.  This recipe is simple and surprisingly flavorful all on its own.  I needed a side dish and saw a leftover box of orzo pasta.  I also had left over chopped sweet onions from breakfast and half a bottle of roasted red peppers.  This came together well and can be eaten as a side or by itself!  Happy Spring everyone!

Prep Time: Cook Time: Level: Serves:
15 min. 10 min Easy 8

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 small sweet onion (chopped)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • Garlic salt
  • parsley
  • half a bottle of roasted red peppers (16 oz. jar)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat olive oil in small pan on medium heat.  Chop onions and mince garlic, then add them to the pan.
  2. Sautee until onion is translucent.
  3. In a medium sauce pan, cook pasta according to directions on box.  Approximately 9 minutes for an al dente texture.
  4. Drain the roasted red pepper and chop into pieces.
  5. Drain pasta when it is done cooking; add in roasted red peppers, onions and garlic.  Sprinkle in garlic salt and parsley to season and toss until all ingredients are well incorporated.
  6. Serve as desired.