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Vegetarian Night

As one of the newest members of the Rogue Estate contributors I have to make a full disclosure...I'm a vegetarian. Many of you who regularly read this blog and follow along in the escapades of these merry bandits will know that the dishes lean heavily towards the dead flesh variety. Megan and I were tasked with coming up with a theme to host for our first ever Chef's Night and we bantered around many ideas such as homemade pasta (coming), traditional Mexican (done before), Ethiopian (coming possibly), Canadian (eh?), German (coming) and vegetarian if for no other reason to greatly mess with the meat-filled sensibilities of the current Rogue Estaters.  We figured we'd save the vegetarian night to give everyone a chance to get to know me and not hate me right off the bat.  Oh, well. The menu was devised with the idea of promoting alternative proteins for the non carnivore. Beans, whole grains, tempeh and tofu would all make an appearance in the meal. For the appetizer Chilly was set to make crackers to pair with Megan's creation of Hillbilly Hummus. The crackers are a pretty simple recipe that allow for infinite variation in toppings and flavourings. The Hillbilly Hummus is an interesting spin on traditional hummus with a southern flare using black eyed peas in place of chick peas and peanut butter in place of the sesame tahini. Jack, being the master of all things uncooked got tasked with the salad; endive and quinoa salad with poached eggs.  Endive is one of those more underrated, underused and under-appreciated vegeatables (more possibly on that at a later date).  The quinoa is a unique product that is usually considered a grain, but is in fact a seed.  Quinoa is found in most supermarkets with the rice and beans and has a nutty flavour.  Here the quinoa was added atop a salad of chopped endive and vegetables and a balsamic vinaigrette.  The whole salad was further enriched with a perfectly poached egg.  The egg yolk mixes with the salad ingredients to add a certain unctuousness to the whole dish. The main dish I took care of was the maple mustard tempeh.  This is a fairly common dish to be served in our household as it's tasty and pretty simple.  Tempeh is a pressed and fermented soybean patty.  It also has a nice nuttiness that works well in multiple presentations.  Here the tempeh was marinated in a fairly neutral marinade before frying in a pan.  The tempeh needs a bit of marinating as it's a pretty dry product (see un-marinated and tasteless blackened tempeh slab from the Lundi Gras Chef's Night).  The tempeh is glazed in pan with a combination of dijon mustard, maple syrup, hard cider and cider vinegar.  Simple and fantastic.  The maple mustard glaze can easily be applied to any protein and would be great on chicken or pork as well. The vegetable side was a dish of balsamic glazed brussels sprouts.  The brussels sprouts is one of the most unloved vegetables on this side of the planet.  Many people dislike the funky quality of this relative of the cabbage family.  This dish may have been the easiest to prepare and has made re-appearances in this house.  The sprouts are roasted until golden brown in the oven then topped with a simple balsamic vinegar glaze of two parts vinegar to one part sugar.  The sprouts are finished with a sprinkling of dried cranberries to add some textural contrast and a pleasing sweet-tart flavour. Bob was our Indian specialist for the evening as he was tasked with a palak paneer.  Paneer is an Indian cheese that is a simple preparation of whole milk and lemon juice.  The mix causes the milk to curdle and the curds to separate from the whey.  The whey is poured off and the curds are pressed with cheesecloth typically overnight but for this evening only for about two hours which still resulted in a pretty firm cheese.  The cheese is then fried on its own to give it a bit of a crust and body then set aside before the palak (spinach), tomato and spices are sauteed up.  Traditionally, palak paneer is more of a gravy of pureed spinach but Bob went crazy and left it unblended and it resulted in a much fresher and heartier version once the cheese was added in at the end.  It was a great idea and it makes me wonder why this doesn't get prepared like this more often. Megan took on the vegan tofu chocolate pudding.  This is another favourite recipe around the house and it's great to serve to the unsuspecting (once you know they don't have a soy allergy) as no one would guess the main ingredient is tofu.  A brick of silken tofu is whirred up in a blender with melted chocolate, Kahlua and golden syrup.  The intention of the recipe was to put it into a chocolate cookie pie crust but the crust was too dry and unusable, so pudding it is.  Still darn tasty. Sadly, I can't remember all of the beer pairings.  I do remember a Detroit lager for the hummus and salad.  A nut brown ale to pair with the brussels sprouts, tempeh and palak paneer.  Finally, a lambic for the dessert.  I have to admit I normally don't like lambics and was trying to find a polite way to decline, but Jack's choice was really good and a perfect pairing for the pudding.  Rounding out the evening was a bloody mary with almost an entire salad as garnish.  Perfect.
Brussels sprouts with cranberries in a balsamic glaze
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Recipe Type: side dish
Author: Jason
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 40 mins
Serves: 6-8
Roasted brussels sprouts with tangy cranberries and a syrupy balsamic glaze.
Ingredients
  • 2-3 pounds brussels sprouts
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cups dried cranberries
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Trim the base off the brussels sprouts and remove the outer leaves if yellowed or dry looking. Cut in half.
  2. Mix brussels sprouts and oil together on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Roast brussels sprouts in oven at 375 for 30 minutes or until desired amount of brownness.
  4. While sprouts are roasting mix balsamic vinegar and sugar together over medium heat until sugar dissolves then reduce to a low simmer to reduce until thick generally about 15-20 minutes depending on the heat you have your stove top set to.
  5. When sprouts are finished remove from oven and pour over dried cranberries and transfer to a serving dish.
  6. Drizzle balsamic glaze over sprouts and cranberries.
  7. Serve immediately.
Notes
You can increase or decrease the amount of brussels sprouts for this recipe depending on how much glaze you want with your sprouts. The sprouts should be roasted until golden brown, but are pretty good and have a nice caramelly bitterness if done to a slightly deeper brown. Since the glaze and cranberries are pretty sweet the bitterness is not overpowering and is actually well complimented. The glaze will set up pretty fast if you let it sit at too cool of a temperature and can over reduce if not watched properly. If either of these happen just reconstitute with a tablespoon or two of water and reheat on low. Raisins can be used in place of dried cranberries, but honestly the tart-sweet cranberries work best.
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In the end it was a pretty successful and satisfying meal.  Everyone seemed to enjoy a meatless meal and no one (to the best of my knowledge) snuck in any bacon to eat while my back was turned.  The great thing about a vegetarian meal like this is that it is fairly adaptable and can be served to carnivores and herbivores without coming off as a health meal.  The point of this meal was not to create a meal using meat substitutes but to use proteins suitable for a vegetarian diet.

Burnt Oranges for a Traditional Irish Meal

Editor's Note: Megan is Rogue Estate's newest cake slinger. Despite us dirtying nearly every pot, pan and dish in her kitchen this week she didn't kick us out, so you can expect to see more articles from her in the near future.   This dish was part of The Rogue Estate's Authentic Irish cuisine dinner, featured in Real Detroit Weekly and The Hungry Dudes on 03/14/12. When thinking of Irish food, like any other American, I automatically think of boiled meat, corned beef, and potatoes.  The Irish are not known for their desserts, so when looking them up, I had to keep my mind open, and avoid the Bailey's Cheesecake that you find on "Irish Pubs" all across America.  Turns out the Irish have gotten very creative in using what they could get to make unique desserts. For our Traditional Irish Meal, I decided to tackle this recipe for Burnt Oranges.  Wait...how did tropical oranges become a staple for not-so-tropical Ireland?  Turns out that while Ireland was at war with England, they made friends with Spain.  The Spanish sailed some of its foodstuffs up to Ireland, and the rest was history.  Of course, by the time the oranges were sailed north, and the common folk got their hands on them and ate all of the really ripe ones, they were left with some oranges that had seen better days.  Cooking them like this was an interesting and tasty way to not waste those older oranges.
Burnt Oranges for a Traditional Irish Meal
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Recipe Type: Dessert
Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 25 mins
Total time: 1 hour 25 mins
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 8 Seville Oranges
  • 2/3 cup Very Sweet White Wine
  • 1/2 cup Butter
  • 12 tbsp. Sugar, split in half
  • 1 1/3 cups Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
  • 3 tbsp. Warmed Irish Whiskey
  • Lyles Golden Syrup for Drizzling
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400 Fahrenheit.
  2. Carefully zest all of the oranges into a bowl. Top with sweet white wine, and let sit.
  3. Peel all oranges, being sure to remove as much of the white pith as possible. Break oranges into segments, and remove all seeds. Seville oranges have a LOT of seeds, so try to preserve as much of the juice you lose while seeding them. Lay the orange segments into the bottom of a wide round pan, no more than 2-3 segments deep, and sprinkle with 6 tbsp. of sugar. You will want to use a pan that is broiler and stove-top safe - a saute pan works great. Place in oven for 12 minutes.
  4. Pour orange juice and 6 tbsp. of sugar into a wide saucepan on stove. Simmer down until it becomes a syrup, then stir in the wine & zest mixture. Continue simmering until it thickens back up again.
  5. After 12 minutes, check the orange segments in the oven. If they are not golden brown on top, kick on the broiler, and keep a close eye for a couple of minutes. You want the oranges and sugar to take on a nice caramel colour, but not char. Once they reach that colour, pull from the oven and set on a burner.
  6. Pour the whiskey over the top of the orange segments, let sit about 30 seconds, then flame. Let the flames burn about 30 seconds, then douse with orange juice mixture. Simmer together for 2 minutes, then serve!
  7. This can be served hot, or chilled and topped with whipped cream
Notes
Seville oranges are extremely bitter, so if you are looking for a dessert that is a bit sweeter, you will want to add more sugar (probably double!) or use a table orange. We also tried one other batch with blood oranges that came out much closer to an American's preferred level of sweetness, and the colour came out very pretty to boot. We also thought these would be excellent served on top of vanilla ice cream.
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  What I did leave out of this recipe was that the Seville oranges are a pain in the butt to peel, far more so than any other orange I have ever dealt with.  Between the segments that wouldn't come apart gracefully, to the fact that Seville oranges have more seed than flesh in each segment, I figure next time I'll stick to making this with another type of orange.  The results will be sweeter and less traditional, but I'll swear less. Have any tips on how to handle Seville oranges or a favorite citrus recipe? Let me know in the comments! -Megan

Braised Leeks for Irish Dinner

Editor's note: Achilles aka "Chilly" is one of R.E.'s new onion choppers and this is his first post. We haven't scared him off yet, so you can expect to see lots more from this guy in the near future. For The Rogue Estate's Chef's Night, featured in March 14, 2012's Real Detroit Weekly, I was tasked with braising leeks to be used as a side dish for our Authentic Irish dinner service led by Ian Malbon. Let's start with the basics, and usually for me that's defining what I will be doing and with what. A braise is a cooking method where you sear your item at a high temperature, then drop the heat, add liquid, cover it, and let it cook in the liquid until it becomes fork tender. A leek is a vegetable from the onion and garlic family. Instead of being round like an onion, it grows upwards in layers of concentric cylinders. This is important to understand, because in between these layers lies a lot of dirt, and as such we must take care to rid our wonderful leeks of any impurities.
Braised Leeks for Irish Dinner
Recipe Type: Side Dish
Author: Chilly P
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Total time: 30 mins
Serves: 4-8
Ingredients
  • 4 Large Leeks
  • 1 tbls butter
  • 1 tbls salt
  • 1/2 tbls fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 tbls dried Thyme (1 tbls fresh)
  • 1/2 cup of white wine
Instructions
  1. For this recipe, I kept the leeks whole. Fill your (clean) sink with cold water...enough to let the leeks soak in. This will allow dirt to pass through the circles and settle at the bottom of the sink.
  2. Slice off the very bottom of the leek where the roots are, then slice off the green leaves after the white stem base. What you want to be left with is the part that is for all intents and purposes, white (side note: keep the leaves to add to a stock...they carry wonderful flavor, although mostly inedible). Place the leeks in their bath as you prep them. After about 10 minutes, unplug your drain, and turn the water back on. You can feel free to run water through the leeks to help purge any remaining impurities. Place your leeks on paper towels and allow them to dry.
  3. At the stove you want a saute pan (with a lid) on medium heat. Add the butter and wait until it bubbles. Add the leeks and allow them to brown on the bottom. Once browned, turn them over and allow the other side to brown. Add salt and pepper at this point.
  4. The reason I waited to add the seasoning was because there was nothing for the salt and pepper to adhere to at first. Now that the butter is coating one side of the leeks, it's game on.
  5. When the other side browns, turn them over a few times to ensure an adequate coating of butter and seasoning. Turn the heat down to medium-low, add the wine and thyme, and cover. You're looking for a simmer here, nothing more; we don't want to burn or boil our leeks. Congratulations...you are now braising!
  6. Allow the leeks to braise until a sharp knife slides easily through the leek (about 20 minutes - feel free to turn the leeks throughout the process). Once this achieved, remove the leeks from the pan and place into a serving dish. Pour the remaining braising liquid goodness over them and allow them to come to room temperature. When you're ready to serve, slice them in half and pour about a tablespoon of braising liquid over them.
This dish fits well with just about any plate and its simplicity really lets the sweetness and texture of the leeks shine - a great side with any protein. Leeks aren't just for St Paddy's day any more! Do you have a favorite preparation for leeks we should try here at the Estate? Let me know about it in the comments. -Chilly