In which the world of culinary hedonism is explored with a cup and a half of curiosity, a heaping tablespoon of passion and a dash of clumsiness.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Post #101 ~ Roasted Yams with Herb Tenderloin and Crimini Mushrooms

This was a quick meal that went from ingredients to table in 30 minutes.  And half of that time was spent on my computer, so it's "walk-away" friendly!

Here's what you'll need:

~ 1 yam
~ Sesame oil
~ Honey
~ Cinnamon
~ Course ground salt
~ Butter
~ 1 tenderloin steak
~ Fresh herbs of choice (I had oregano and savory on hand)
~ Crimini mushrooms

First, preheat the toaster oven (bake: 375) and wash and pierce the yam.  Then microwave it for one minute (my microwave is a 700 watt one, so time might vary).  Warming it makes it easier to slice.  When it's done, slice it into half-inch rounds.  Put them in a ziplock baggie with a dash of sesame oil, a bit of honey, some cinnamon, and some honey.

: : PAUSE : :

This was total improv work.  In our household, when we make sweet potatoes / yams for turkey dinners, we make a stringy, caramelly sauce to go with them.  It consists of butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, and quite possibly more butter.  It's absolutely heavenly.  However, I have the tendency to have very little control when I'm around a pot of the stuff, resorting to eating it not only on my potatoes, but also on turkey, stuffing, spoons, and even, in one desperate moment, off of my own fingers.  So I have yet to prepare it in my own home, for fear I would go into sugar shock and die.

And then what would we do?

So I totally improvised, figuring that roasting made things sweet, and honey made them sweeter.  And cinnamon... well, cinnamon's just plain great.

: : UNPAUSE : :

So into your baggie goes the ingredients and the slices.  Shake them around really well, then lay them on a pan and bake them for 30 minutes, turning halfway through.  Spend the first fifteen minutes doing anything you like, but be on hand for the next 15, because that's when you'll cook your steak.

I decided to keep this really simple, so I did the steak and mushrooms in one pan on the stove top.  Into a pan I put a tab of butter, the herbs, and a dash of EVOO.  I quartered the criminis and tossed them in.  When everything was good and simmering, I put the steak right in in the middle.  I turned it a few times and cooked it for the remaining time until the potatoes were ready.  You may need to toss it back on for a few minutes, or it might be done enough for you at this point.

I enjoyed this meal with a glass of merlot from Red Rock.  This merlot is round, bright and fruit forward, tasting of ripe bing cherries.  It was the perfect companion for this meal - bold enough to stand up to the earthy flavors of the herbed steak and mushrooms, yet soft enough not to fight the sweet, roasted yams.

All in all, a good meal!

Yours in the love of good food and wine,

The blogger is not an experienced chef. She takes no responsibility for the quality of the meals prepared while following her advice. Use your own judgment regarding cooking times and proper food handling.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

ONE HUNDREDTH POST ~ Tomato Pesto Salmon with Lentils (sorta) and Roasted Brussels Sprouts (plus, a bonus meal!)

So a few nights ago marked my one hundredth post!  I really thought I would feel more pomp and circumstance, but to be honest, it was just another fun evening of cooking, no more or less special than all the others.  I experimented, I enjoyed some old favorites, I made some mistakes, and had some successful enterprises. All in one meal!  Pretty much summarizes the Accidental Chef journey thus far...

So last nightI decided to continue my foray with lentils. I'll tell you right now, it didn't work out as well as I would have liked, but I've learned in the process.

Here's what you'll need:

~ One fillet of salmon
~ Wegmans (or comparable) prepared sundried tomato pesto
~ Sesame seed oil (or EVOO)
~ Brussels sprouts, quartered
~ Fresh herb of choice (oregano for me!)
~ Sea salt
~ Lentils
~ Patience

After a relaxing evening of prepping for a meeting, responding to emails and (the best part!) a Skype chat with my adopted-uncle Kenton who's currently teaching overseas, I was in a very good mood, and ready to top the evening off with a good meal.  I put some Madeleine Peyroux on my GoogleMusic player, poured a glass of last night's Carmenere, and set to work.

First, I boiled some water in a shallow pan and put the lentils in.

: : PAUSE : :

Here's the thing.  Websites about lentils are not too helpful.  The instructions I found stated that lentils take "anywhere from 10 minutes to one hour."  So, I boiled them for 2 minutes as instructed, and then let them simmer while I prepped the brussels sprouts.  In retrospect, I may have jumped the gun on deciding the lentils were done.  So follow these instructions, but know that lentils take longer to cook.  I'm not sure how long, exactly.  I'll get back to you on that.

: : UNPAUSE : :

So I boiled and simmered the lentils and danced around the kitchen to Madeleine, and used a brand new tool for the brussels sprouts.  It's called an Ulu, and it's a knife native to the indigenous people of Alaska.  I actually have been in possession of it for well over a year and a half, but sadly keep forgetting to use it.  I must say, it made very short business of quartering the brussels sprouts.

I drizzled sesame seed oil over the brussels sprouts, a generous gift from my friend Darrin, who knows a guy in Austin, TX who makes his own sesame oils and roasted seeds.  I have to tell you, the sesame seeds are SO good, I occasionally grab a pinch out of the jar when I'm passing through the kitchen just to munch on.  Super yummy.  The oil is also equally good, giving any dish a certain rich, nutty flavor.  I've been using this sesame oil a LOT in my cooking (in the aforementioned "un-blogged" meals) and will have to suffer the pains (ha ha) of cooking with it a lot more so as to inform you all of its many uses.

So, over that I sprinkled sea salt and fresh oregano.  Into the pre-heated toaster oven they went, on broil, at 350.  I tossed them around occasionally as I cooked.

I drained the lentils, figuring this HAD to have been enough time (I was wrong) and put them in a prep bowl with some hot water and about a teaspoonful of the pesto.  I covered them, figuring this would cook them the rest of the way through.

Into a pan I started some of the tomato pesto simmering.  Into that I added a bit of EVOO and blended it together.  I sauteed the salmon for 2 minutes on one side, 3 on the other.  I ended up having to toss it back in to cook it just a little more, so I'd probably end up leaning toward 2, flip, 3, flip, 2.  That should do it, for future reference.

I put the brussels sprouts on the plate, spooned on some lentils, and topped that with the tomato pesto salmon.

And the lentils were NOT cooked all the way.

Everything else was very yummy, but the lentils had a certain "underdone" crunch to them.  After reading up on it, it seems that the Internet is pretty unanimous on the whole "don't eat underdone lentils" thing.  Given that the next day would be the first day of my new class, I decided not to risk it and tossed them.

The rest of the meal was fantastic, though.  The tomato pesto gave the salmon great flavor, and the brussels sprouts were infused with the nuttiness of the oil and the sweetness that all veggies seem to get when roasted.

I ended up having leftover salmon, which I saved for the next night's meal:

I added some fresh oregano to the container to infuse it with flavor while it sat.  The following night, as I said, I taught a class, so I returned home exhausted and very, very hungry.  A quick yet satisfying meal was in order.  Earlier that day, I had decided to master, once and for all, lentil cooking.  I cooked them in a small pot of water for about 45 minutes altogether.  They definitely looked more cooked, with some of them falling apart in the water, but most of them maintaining their shape.

When I returned home that night, I started some water boiling immediately, and cooked my favorite tortellini for 10 minutes.  At five minutes in, I started the salmon, some tomato pesto, and the lentils sauteeing in a stick-free pan.  When the tortellini was done, I dumped it in and tossed the whole thing around for a bit.  What resulted was a flavorful, quick, satisfying meal (that also happened to go great with the remaining Carmenere!).  All in all, a satisfying 100th post - a combination of items that gave me two meals, a learning experience, and, most of all, a fun, relaxing way to spend a few evenings.

Yours in the love of good food and wine,

The blogger is not an experienced chef. She takes no responsibility for the quality of the meals prepared while following her advice. Use your own judgment regarding cooking times and proper food handling.