Tuesday, April 22, 2008

do you "make up" recipes?

by "make up"..eat something terrific at a restaurant and try to recreate it at home..without a recipe??? i do this all the time cause i really do not like following recipes unless i am baking. i love trying to figure out all the ingredients used in the original recipe and duplicate..or..even better..improve. sometimes this results in a big success..sometimes..omg!!..disaster..

happily, today's effort resulted in the former option. it was one of those days that seems to been happening more and more frequently..a friend or two will ring me up and ask what i am doing..somehow this leads to the aforementioned friends being invited for dinner..how did that happen? i did not have time to shop..and had on hand fresh eggs from the farmer's market, organic asparagus, and really good french bread from an amazing bakery here in napa. i remembered a dish i had last month at a restaurant in a small town near here called sebastopol..it was amazing..and decided to try and recreate. well..every bite was eaten..requests for me to make more occurred and everyone asked for the recipe. here is the dish...not really a recipe..

poached eggs with asparagus and truffle oil (serves 4)

2 bunches of organic asparagus
8 eggs (organic and fresh from the farm if possible)
best quality truffle oil
parmesan-reggiano -shaved..as much as you like
organic grey sea salt
fresh cracked pepper
best quality french or sourdough bread-sliced into thick pieces
best quality extra virgin olive oil (i love big...make you cough.. e.v.o.o.s but pick your favorite)

steam asparagus until crisp-tender.
poach eggs..i use the vinegar in the barely simmering water trick..and put each egg one at a time in a small shallow bowl before sliding in the water..cook until the whites are set but the yolk is still soft (about 2-2 1/2 minutes)
meanwhile, toast or grill the bread..when browned to your preference..remove from oven or grill and drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil.
divide asparagus among 4 plates and season with salt and pepper. drizzle with truffle oil and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese. top each plate with 2 poached eggs and season eggs to taste with salt and pepper. drizzle dish again..including the eggs with additional truffle oil...be a bit sparing with the truffle oil..a quality version will be quite strong...
serve with the grilled bread.

*recipe can serve 8 for a lunch or light dinner

this dish is really easy..even for beginning cooks..however, i have been spending a lot of time lately with friends and acquaintances that just do not cook..and are hesitant to try even easy recipes...so we have been having informal..very fun..wine included..cooking classes in my kitchen while i prepare dinner. when they see how easy it can be..nothing complicated or requiring loads of technique..but roasting, sauteing, steaming, grilling, etc..they gain confidence and want to try for themselves. i actually get help in the kitchen now which is new. even better, i know that my friends feel comfortable stocking their pantries with quality ingredients, shopping at farmer's markets for organic produce, meats, fish and good bread..and cooking for themselves and their families..really cool.

do you have favorite recipes that you "created" after tasting them somewhere else? share them in the comments section of this post, or email me..let's build a recipe collection for napa farmhouse 1885!!

also, if you have questions about specific techniques used in the recipe above..or are a beginner cook..feel free to email me for answers. if i don't know, i will research and get back to you..


napa farmhouse 1885
"live a green life of style"


Anonymous said...

Sorry if this is a dumb question, but what is truffle oil? I always thought truffles were chocolate?

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

hi qwen..no question is dumb..and i have received a number of emails today asking the same question.
truffles are a very rare type of edible mushroom. france and italy use this ingredient often when the truffles are in season as they are grown there. they are also grown in oregon and washington state. they grow underground..usually intertwined with the roots of trees..common examples are oak, elm, chestnut, pine and willow trees. they are hard to spot..many truffle hunters use pigs or specially trained dogs to "sniff" them out as truffles give off a strong, earthy scent which is amazing...pigs were the original "seekers", but they love them so much they would discover a truffle and begin eating it..have you ever wrestled with a pig?? so dogs were trained to hunt for the truffles as they are not fanatical about the taste.. fresh truffles are wildly expensive because they have to be harvested by hand..are hard to find..and only grow for a short amount of time each year. truffle season is celebrated throughout the world. when i say wildly expensive..i really mean it..fresh truffles are considered the most expensive food in the world..getting $2000 lb for white truffles and $500 lb for black truffles...yikes!..truffles are delicious..i encourage you to try them if you have never tasted..they are usually served shaved over a dish..pasta, eggs, vegetables are classics..producers will often steep truffles..the bits and bobs not sold.. in olive oil. a less expensive way to get the flavor. try my recipe..or try using the oil in mashed potatoes..yum!

chocolate truffles got their name because they were supposed to look a bit like the real ones...

o.k. that is what i know about truffles..feel free to comment or correct me if i have any of the details a bit off you truffle experts out there..

napa farmhouse 1885

-.- said...

I never knew there was truffle oil available. Like Gwen I thought it was only in chocolates. I think I'll try this out. If you can't find truffle oil, would any other time of oil work?

Thanks also for checking out my blog :)

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

hey popinfresh..love the name... if you cannot find truffle oil, you could use a really good extra virgin olive oil..or even better..a good quality flavored olive oil.. i suggest rosemary or basil..but use what you like. the dish will still be really good...but nothing like using the truffle oil...i hope you will try to find it..usually available at gourmet markets..or on-line ones try dean and delucca. let me know what you decide to do.

Anonymous said...

I love salmon. The other night I had it at a restaurant served on top of seaweed salad in a sweet and sour dressing, and it was scrumptious!!! Never had seaweed before, but it was goooood.

I make my salmon like this:

Place salmon pieces in a greased baking dish.
Salt and pepper to taste
Layer on top of the salmon: sliced yellow squash and zuchini, sugar snap peas in the pod, onion slices, chopped tomatoes, chopped green pepper, thinly sliced carrots,or any fresh vegetable you prefer.
Sparingly pour teriyaki marinade and lemon juice over all ingredients
Dot with pats of butter
Add a dash of sweet basil over all
Cover tightly with foil and bake at 325 for 35-45 minutes.

Grandma Julia said...

Interesting blog! The farm woman in me wants to come back and visit your blog more often.

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

thanks, grandma julie, for your kind words. feel free to check back often and let me know what you think.

i left a comment on your blog too..
napa farmhouse 1885
"live a green life of style"

Anonymous said...

We usually eat a lot of meat but for health reasons are trying to eat more fish. I do not know how to prepare it other than frying. Can you suggest a pretty easy recipe?
Thank you

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

we love grilled and/or broiled salmon very simply prepared. i am addicted to meyer-lemon extra virgin olive oil and lime extra virgin olive oil . i just sprinkle the salmon with sea salt and cracked pepper, drizzle one of the flavored olive oils and let marinate for about 10 min. (more if you have time)
let grill about 2-3 min per side until done. i then drizzle a bit more oil and serve. easy..easy

Anonymous said...

I love how you write. I was wondering if you could write more about people and relationships. My family, for example, is pretty crazy. One sister is obsessive/compulsive and the other one is kind of a control freak...she grimaces at my mother and says "Let's STICK WITH THE SPAGHETTI" when my poor mother is just trying to offer her grankids a little garlic bread. What do you think about that? I know this is way off topic (recipes) but, like I said, I like your writing style. That's another thing about my family...they all babble on and on and they give way too may details.

Anonymous said...

Hey Girlfriend!!!
I be lovin that recipe...you go girl.

Anonymous said...

I got the basic idea for one of my favorite summer recipes from a cookbook, but changed about everything about it! I do a lot of explaining below, but it is SO EASY!

Per serving:
1. Lay some think foil on the counter, spray or brush with olive oil.
2. Place a fish fillet on the foil. I use any kind of white fish that we catch or is on sale-trout, haddock, whatever.
3. In a small bowl, mix together some olive oil, kosher salt, pepper, and any and all chopped herbs from your herb garden. This is really to taste, but I've never done it with dried. I usually use a lot of BASIL.
4. Brush some of the olive oil/herb mixture on the fish-just a little.
5. Slice up a bunch of fresh garden tomatoes and zucchini. Layer them on top of the fish.
6. Pour the rest of the olive oil/herb mixture on the fish.
7. Seal up the foil to make a packet, then put on the grill. Grill on medium heat for about 15-20 minutes. This might vary depending on the grill, thickness of fish, etc.
8. Serve with a little lemon.

This is SO yummy. Everything melds together and makes a lovely broth for the fish. AND, no cooking inside, so its great for when it is hot, and clean up is easy.


Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

hello everyone,
i just wanted to take a moment and thank all of you for the fantastic recipes you have been emailing us. we plan to share them in the recipe section of www.napafarmhouse1885.com soon. a few have posted in the comments section..thanks..and we will use these too. once again, thank you..you guys are really terrific. thank you for the kind words of encouragement!
napa farmhouse 1885
"live a green life of style"

Anonymous said...

I don't compliment myself on much of anything, but I think I'm actually a pretty darn good cook. I make up a lot of things--we rarely have the same thing over again, unless my husband really wants it (like my madeup meat loaf )...I find it boring, but I made this up two weeks ago and LOVED the way it turned out!

chicken breasts to thin out for rolling, butterkase cheese (a really soft yellow cow cheese from Germany), proscuitto, baby spinach and fresh chives and S & P.

Chop everything but the proscuitto in a mini food processor.

Put chicken breasts in heavy freezer bag and hammer with a meat mallet.thin, place the proscuitto inside the chicken breast, and then a few tablespoons of the cheese topping inside that, roll them up, pinned them with toothpicks, sear them on all sides and then bake at 350 for about 10 minutes. Very moist and full of wonderful flavor!

Serve with french green beans and garlic pecan rice brown rice, or a lemon risotto.