Sunday, September 24, 2017

Gonna Want Seconds: Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole


I had a hard week.  And a long, tiring weekend.  So all I really wanted was some warm, creamy comfort food.  Nothing says comfort like chicken and rice, and this recipe takes ordinary chicken and rice and kicks it in the pants.  Where has this recipe been my whole life?  And do NOT leave off the Chicken In a Biskit crackers.  It's so trashy, but oh so awesome.

Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole
Adapted from Gonna Want Seconds blog

6 to 8 small cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets, stems discarded
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
½ cup whole milk
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
½ teaspoons sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
4 cups cooked long-grain white rice
8 ounces finely shredded Cheddar cheese
2 cups crumbled Chicken In a Biskit crackers
1 teaspoon dried thyme
⅓ cup unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 11x15-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Sauté mushrooms in 1 tablespoon butter until softened.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside.  Blanch broccoli florets in boiling water for 5 minutes, then strain into an ice bath.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, mix two soups, sour cream, milk, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper until evenly combined. Add the chicken, reserved mushrooms and broccoli, and rice and fold until evenly coated and ingredients are mixed. Pour into prepared pan.

Sprinkle the top of the casserole evenly with shredded cheese. In a small bowl, mix together cracker crumbs, thyme, and melted butter. Sprinkle evenly over cheese layer. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until casserole is heated through and cracker crumbs are golden brown.

Makes 8 servings

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Girl in the Kitchen: Seared Scallops with Goat Cheese-Yukon Purée, Asparagus, and Sorrel Vinaigrette


For as complicated as this recipe actually is, now that I'm looking at it written out, I was mainly looking for a way to use up the extra sorrel leaves I had leftover from making a different dish.  And the ham hocks I had.  That's really it.  I loved the mashed potatoes, and they will definitely get made again.  Also like the asparagus sautéed with the ham.  And I always love scallops.  Each component was a thing of beauty.  Not sure it all works together as a whole, though.  Every element is competing with the rest.  Live and learn, I guess, but at least I managed to work some scallops into the rotation.  And that's never a bad thing.

Seared Scallops with Goat Cheese-Yukon Purée, Asparagus, and Sorrel Vinaigrette
From Girl in the Kitchen by Stephanie Izard

2 smoked ham hocks (about 2 pounds)

Goat Cheese-Yukon Purée
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into large cubes
1 cup heavy cream
2 ounces plain, soft goat cheese
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Asparagus
8 ounces white asparagus, peeled
8 ounces green asparagus
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Sorrel Vinaigrette
8 to 10 sorrel leaves, washed
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon yellow aji chile paste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons olive oil

Scallops
12 sea scallops, side muscles removed
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter

¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted

Put the ham hocks in a large stockpot and cover with 2 quarts cool water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat.  Cover the pot and simmer the hocks until the meat is tender and can be peeled off the bone with a fork or by hand, about 2 hours.

To make the purée:  Remove the hocks from the water and set them aside to cool.  Add the potatoes to the pot and bring the water back to a boil.  Cook the potatoes until fork-tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Combine the cream and goat cheese in a small saucepan over low heat, letting the cheese melt into the cream, stirring occasionally.

Drain the potatoes and put them through a ricer into a clean bowl.  Pour the cream and cheese mixture over the potatoes and stir to combine them into a thin puree.  Pass the puree through a medium-mesh sieve (optional), season with salt and pepper, cover, and keep warm until ready to serve.

Pull the meat from the ham hocks and set it aside in a small bowl.  Discard the skin and bones.

To make the asparagus:  Slice the white and green asparagus into ⅓-inch pieces (reserving two or three green asparagus spears for garnish).  Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add the ham and the sliced asparagus and sauté until the asparagus is just tender, 5 to 7 minutes.  Toss with another 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Cover and keep warm.

To make the vinaigrette:  Combine the sorrel, vinegar, egg yolk, honey, mustard, and chile paste in a blender and pulse several times to combine.  Whisk the vegetable oil and olive oil together in a measuring cup with a spout.  With the blender running, pour the oils through the opening in the lid in a slow steady stream and process until a smooth vinaigrette forms.

To make the scallops:  Pat the scallops dry and season both sides with salt and pepper.  Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat.  Add the scallops to the hot pan.  (Avoid overcrowding the scallops in the pan.  If they are too close together, they will steam inside of sear.  Sear them in batches if the pan is not big enough to hold them all at once.)  Let the scallops brown for 1 minute, then reduce the heat to medium.  Continue to cook until a brown crust forms.  Add the butter to the pan.  Turn the scallops over to brown the other sides.  While browning, spoon the melted butter over the tops of the scallops to baste them.  Remove them from the pan once you've basted them well and all edges are nice and browned.

To serve, put a spoonful of potato purée on each of four plates.  Top with a few spoonfuls of the sautéed ham and asparagus.  Divide the scallops between the plates and drizzle with the vinaigrette.  Slice the reserved raw green asparagus very thinly on a bias.  Toss with the toasted almonds and sprinkle on top of each dish.

Makes 4 servings

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Kindred: Milk Bread


Have you seen this bread on the internet?  I mean, seriously, have you seen this bread?  I figured I should stop spending so much time drooling on myself and actually try to make the darn thing, and I am so glad I did.  This bread is everything bread should be: tender, doughy, and perfect smothered in melting butter.  The recipe makes enough bread for an army, as you can tell from the pictures where it is literally crawling out of the jumbo muffin pan, but I also don't see that as a bad thing.  Try to eat just one, I dare you.

Milk Bread
From Kindred restaurant, as seen at Food52

5⅓ cups bread flour, divided, plus more for surface (Kindred uses King Arthur)
1 cup heavy cream
⅓ cup mild honey (such as wildflower or alfalfa)
3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder
2 tablespoons active dry yeast (from about 3 envelopes)
2 tablespoons kosher salt
3 large eggs, divided
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
Flaky sea salt (optional)

Cook ⅓ cup flour and 1 cup water in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly, until a thick paste forms (almost like a roux but looser), about 5 minutes. Add cream and honey and cook, whisking to blend, until honey dissolves.

Transfer mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and add milk powder, yeast, kosher salt, 2 eggs, and 5 remaining cups flour. Knead on medium speed until dough is smooth, about 5 minutes. Add butter, a piece at a time, fully incorporating into dough before adding the next piece, until dough is smooth, shiny, and elastic, about 4 minutes.

Coat a large bowl with nonstick spray and transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

If making rolls, lightly coat a 6-cup jumbo muffin pan with nonstick spray. Turn out dough onto a floured surface and divide into 6 pieces. Divide each piece into 4 smaller pieces (you should have 24 total). They don’t need to be exact; just eyeball it. Place 4 pieces of dough side-by-side in each muffin cup. If making loaves, lightly coat two 9- by 5-inch loaf pans with nonstick spray. Turn out dough onto a floured surface and divide into 12 pieces. Nestle pieces side-by-side to create 2 rows down length of each pan. If making split-top buns, lightly coat two 9- by 13-inch baking dishes with nonstick spray. Divide dough into 12 pieces and shape each into a 4-inch long log. Place 6 logs in a row down length of each dish.

Let shaped dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size (dough should be just puffing over top of pan), about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375° F. Beat remaining egg with 1 teaspoon water in a small bowl to blend. Brush top of dough with egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt, if desired. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until bread is deep golden brown, starting to pull away from the sides of the pan, and is baked through, 25 to 35 minutes for rolls, 50 to 60 minutes for loaf, or 30 to 40 minutes for buns. If making buns, slice each bun down the middle deep enough to create a split-top. Let milk bread cool slightly in pan on a wire rack before turning out; let cool completely.

Makes 6 rolls, two 9- by 5-inch loaves, or 12 split-top buns

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Gordon Ramsay: Shepherd's Pie


I remember back when I was in high school going to a restaurant near me called Tippin's.  Yes, it was mostly a pie restaurant, but what I remembered the most was the luscious shepherd's pie that I would get.  I seriously never tried anything else.  Well, I happened to come across some frozen Tippin's pies at my local Tom Thumb grocery store, and it made me nostalgic, so I figured I would try to make my own shepherd's pie.  I seriously love this.  It's like a giant food hug.

Note: No Branston Pickle here.  Still delicious.  I used lamb stock instead of chicken stock since I had it.  Seemed like a good idea.  The original recipe calls for extra-large egg yolks.  I'm not buying a dozen eggs to get two yolks.  The large egg yolks seemed to work just fine.

Shepherd's Pie
Adapted from Cooking for Friends by Gordon Ramsay

1 pound lean ground lamb
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, minced
1 large carrot, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup red wine
1½ cups chicken stock
1½ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Leaves from a handful of fresh thyme sprigs
Leaves from a sprig fresh rosemary, chopped
2½ tablespoons minced Branston Pickle (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Topping:
1¼ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
3½ tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons hot whole milk
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
2 large egg yolks

Put a wide, cast-iron or other heavy-based pan over medium to high heat.  Season the ground lamb with salt and pepper and fry in a thin layer of oil until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. (Fry the meat in two batches if necessary.)  Transfer the lamb to a bowl using a slotted spoon.

Add a little more olive oil to the pan and stir in the onion, carrot, and garlic.  Fry, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes.  Add the flour and tomato paste and stir for a couple of minutes longer.  Pour in the red wine and scrape the bottom of the pan to dislodge the browned sediment.  Let the wine boil until it has almost all evaporated and the pan is quite dry.

Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  Return the lamb to the pan and add the Worcestershire sauce and herbs.  Turn the heat to the lowest setting and partially cover the pan.  Simmer, stirring every once in a while, until the lamb is tender and the sauce has thickened, 30 to 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until tender when pierced with a small knife, 15 to 20 minutes.  Drain well, then return to the hot pan over low heat to dry out briefly.  Press the potatoes through a potato ricer into a large bowl.  Mix in the butter, hot milk, and 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan.  Season well to taste, then beat in the egg yolks and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Fold the minced Branston Pickle through the lamb mixture, then pour into an 8-cup baking dish.  Spoon the mashed potato generously on top of the lamb filling, starting from the outside and working your way into the middle.  Fluff up the mashed potato with a fork to make rough peaks.  Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and grind a little black pepper over the top.  Bake until the top is golden brown and filing is bubbling up around the sides, 20 to 25 minutes.  Serve with extra Branston Pickle, if you wish.

Makes 4 servings

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Food52: Salmon in Sorrel Sauce


I have had this recipe in my file for years.  Yes, years.  I'm a recipe packrat, I suppose.  But whenever I see something that sounds awesomely delicious, I squirrel it away into my binders and leave myself a mental note to be on the lookout for whatever random hard-to-find ingredient is required.  Then, a year or more later, when I finally find the rare ingredient, I have to remember what the heck I was planning to cook with it.  This, my friends, was worth the wait.

Salmon in Sorrel Sauce
From Food52

1 pound beautiful, wild, center cut salmon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups fresh sorrel leaves, chopped rough
¼ cup chervil leaves
½ cup chives, with flowers if possible
½ cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper

Adjust an oven rack to be at the very top of the oven.  Preheat the broiler.

Prepare all ingredients and stage.  This dish comes together quickly and you don't want to be scrambling.  Hold back the chive flowers, if you have them.

Slice the salmon into thin medallions.  A flexible salmon slicing knife is my choice, but any long thin knife will work well. It must be very sharp.  Slice on a slight angle cutting away the skin as you go. Aim for 16 pieces.  Place the salmon on a sheet pan lined with parchment and very lightly oiled. Brush the tops very lightly with oil.  Sprinkle salt and pepper over the fish.

When the oven is ready, start the sauce.  In a large, wide skillet, melt the butter until it starts to toast. It should be golden brown.  At this point, put the salmon under the broiler.

Add the sorrel, chervil and chives to the butter and coat quickly.  Allow them to wilt a little, and then pour in the cream.  Bring to a boil and reduce just until the sauce coats the back of a spoon.  Taste and adjust for salt and pepper, remembering you have seasoned the fish.

The salmon should now be ready (2 to 3 minutes).  Watch it carefully the entire time it's in the oven -- it could take you as little as 30 seconds, depending on your oven.

Dry the warm plates. Place four medallions per person on each plate and decorate with the sauce, being very generous. Sprinkle chive flower petals and serve with crusty bread.

Makes 4 servings

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Chowhound: Green Goddess Dressing


I hate salad.  I will absolutely look for any other option first.  But in case of salad emergency, I always default to beautiful Bibb lettuce and a nice creamy salad dressing.  And while ranch dressing is pretty ubiquitous at this point, I actually think this dressing is much more beautiful and subtle, with its lovely herbal flavor and tart creaminess.  And fresh made beats the bottle every time.

Green Goddess Dressing
Adapted from Chowhound

2 anchovy fillets, rinsed, patted dry, and coarsely chopped OR 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 medium garlic clove, smashed and peeled
1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
½ cup loosely packed fresh chervil leaves OR flat-leaf parsley leaves
¼ cup loosely packed fresh tarragon leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender with a rubber spatula as needed.  Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed.  Refrigerate in a container with a tight-fitting lid for up to 1 week.

Makes approximately 2 cups

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Boulevard: Chocolate Cherry Shortcakes


In the summer I absolutely love having strawberry shortcake.  It's a perfect dessert for those hot evenings, with those sweet berries and that beautiful fresh whipped cream.  But one can only eat so much strawberry shortcake.  So when I came across this stunning incarnation, I knew I had to try it.  The shortcakes are amazing on their own, but try and restrain yourself long enough to pull everything together.  In case you utterly fail, just know that the cherries are also fantastic on vanilla ice cream sans shortcake.

Chocolate Cherry Shortcakes
Adapted from Boulevard: The Cookbook

For the chocolate cherry biscuits:
2 cups self-rising flour
½ cup Valrhona or other Dutch-processed cocoa powder
½ cup sugar, plus additional for dipping
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup dried Bing cherries or dried sour cherries
1 cup Valrhona (or other premium) bittersweet chocolate chips, or nickel-size pieces chopped bittersweet chocolate
2 cups heavy cream
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the cherries jubilee:
3 cups fresh Bing cherries, halved and pitted
⅓ cup plus 2 tablespoons kirsch
½ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ cup brandy
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the vanilla ice cream:
1 vanilla bean
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
⅔ cup granulated sugar
5 large egg yolks

Make the biscuits:  Preheat the oven to 400°F. Stir the flour, cocoa, sugar, and salt together in a large bowl until well combined, then stir in the dried cherries and chocolate chips. Add the cream and stir until the mixture comes together into a somewhat stiff dough.

Turn out onto a clean cutting board and, with your hands, press the dough into a 6-inch square about 2 inches thick. With a long, thin knife, cut the dough into 9 (2-inch) squares.

Dip the tops of the biscuits into the melted butter and then into sugar, pressing lightly so it adheres. Place the biscuits 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until they’re light gold and spring back when pressed lightly. Set aside at room temperature for up to 4 hours.

Make the cherries jubilee:  Combine the cherries and the ⅓ cup kirsch in a bowl and let macerate for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally. Put half of the cherries, the sugar, and lemon juice into a saucepan and simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the liquid begins to thicken.

Remove from the heat, add the brandy, and, averting your face, carefully ignite the brandy with a long match. Let burn for about 1 minute to burn off the alcohol, then extinguish the flame by covering the pan. Remove the lid and continue to simmer the cherry mixture until it reduces to a syrup.  Add the remaining macerated cherries and cook for another 2 minutes.

With a slotted spoon, transfer the cherries to a bowl and reserve. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons kirsch to the syrup and set aside or refrigerate for up to 2 days (along with the reserved cherries in a separate container).

Make the ice cream:  Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds into a saucepan. Add the vanilla-bean pod, cream, and milk and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes.

Whisk the sugar and egg yolks in a small bowl just to combine them, then whisk in some of the warm milk mixture until blended. Stir the sugar-and-egg-yolk mixture into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard coats the back of a spoon (when you draw your finger across the back of the spoon, there should be a visible trail that doesn’t immediately flow back together).

Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a container and chill thoroughly, at least 2 hours. Freeze according to the ice cream maker’s instructions. The frozen ice cream should be stored in a tightly covered plastic or stainless-steel container. For the best flavor and texture, let it soften slightly at room temperature before serving.

To serve:  Preheat the oven to 350°F. Split the biscuits and put into the oven for about 5 minutes, or until warmed through. Heat the cherry syrup in a small skillet over medium heat, add the reserved cherries and the 2 tablespoons of butter, and swirl the pan until the butter has melted and combined with the syrup.

Center a warm biscuit bottom on 8 dessert plates or shallow bowls and put equal spoonfuls of the cherries and their syrup on each, reserving a cup or so. Place on a biscuit top, followed by a scoop of ice cream. Dollop the remaining cherries and syrup around or to the side of the biscuits.

Makes 8 servings

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Taste of the South: Beef Tips and Rice


I feel like at least 75% of my dinners are determined by what interesting things I find at the grocery store.  This time around it was a nice cut of tri-tip, which for some reason is like finding the holy grail.  Not sure why tri-tip is so unloved in this part of the country, because this recipe cooked up a fantastic, tender, gravy-rich concoction of meaty loveliness.  Ah, the beauty of comfort food.

Beef Tips and Rice
Adapted from Taste of the South magazine, Fall 2007

1 (3-pound) well-marbled tri-tip roast
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4 cups water
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons roasted beef bouillon
2 teaspoons roasted chicken bouillon
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup cornstarch
Hot cooked rice
Chopped parsley, as garnish

Cut roast into 1-inch cubes.  Toss with flour and set aside.

In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat.  Add onion and bell pepper and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, or until tender.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Add remaining 3 tablespoons oil to Dutch oven.  Add beef and cook for 10 minutes, or until meat is well browned, stirring regularly.

Return onion and bell pepper to Dutch oven.  Add water, sauces, and seasonings.  Bring to a boil.  Cover partially and reduce heat.  Let simmer for 1 hour.

In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and enough liquid from the cooking pot to make a paste, stirring until smooth.  Add to beef mixture; cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until mixture thickens.  Serve over rice.  Garnish with chopped parsley.

Makes 6 servings

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Galloping Gourmet: Abalone Victoria


Once upon a time I went to the Chinese grocery store and amused myself by wandering through the freezer aisles, when suddenly I came upon a package marked "abalone".  Having never seen such a thing in any normal WASP grocery, I immediately decided I needed to purchase this package of mystery shellfish.  The trouble came when I actually decided to cook the darn things.  Not many recipes out there.  Thank goodness for the Galloping Gourmet, right?  Just as a note, I wasn't super impressed with the rubbery texture, so I'm not enthused to finish off the package any time soon.

Abalone Victoria
From Graham Kerr, The Galloping Gourmet

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 cup bread crumbs
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons clarified butter
1 teaspoon lemon juice
All-purpose flour, to coat
8 sliced abalone steaks
Salt, to taste
White pepper, to taste
½ cup unsalted butter
1 tablespoon sherry

Slice abalone into thin ¼-inch steaks.  Place sliced abalone steaks on hard surface covered with plastic wrap.  Tenderize both sides of steaks by pounding with meat mallet.

Mix together parsley and bread crumbs. In a separate bowl, combine egg yolk, clarified butter and lemon juice. Place flour on a dish for dredging.

Season 1 side of abalone steaks with salt and pepper. Lightly flour and paint with egg mixture. Coat with parsley/bread crumb mixture.

Melt butter in frying pan. When butter begins to foam, add steaks and cook 1 minute each side. Add sherry and flame. Transfer to a serving dish and nap with browned butter from pan.

Makes 8 servings

Friday, August 11, 2017

Dinner Then Dessert and Andrew Zimmern: Slow Cooker Corned Beef with Bourbon and Molasses Glaze


I took a look through my freezer today, and I realized that I needed to start cooking some of the goodies I had stored up from all of my marketing adventures.  One of those goodies was a beautiful piece of corned beef.  I know it's a bit late to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, but really, it's always a good time for tender sliced corned beef with a sweet crunchy glaze.  Especially if that corned beef spent most of its time in a slow cooker instead of needing constant attention on the stove top.

Slow Cooker Corned Beef with Bourbon and Molasses Glaze
From Dinner Then Dessert blog and Andrew Zimmern

3 pounds corned beef, with spice packet
1 cup water, maybe less depending on size of slow cooker
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
¼ cup molasses
½ cup bourbon

Add corned beef, fat side up, to the slow cooker.  Add the minced garlic, spice packet, sugar, and pepper to the top of the meat and rub on.  Add the vinegar and bay leaf to the side of the corned beef and add just enough water to come up about a fourth of the way to the top of the meat.  Cook on low for 9 to 10 hours.

To make glaze, combine molasses, mustard powder, bourbon, and brown sugar in a bowl; stir until all of the ingredients are thoroughly combined. Let rest for 45 minutes.

Preheat broiler. Remove corned beef from cooking liquid, pat dry on a dish towel, and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour ⅓ of the glaze on top of the corned beef, distributing evenly. Place the corned beef 6 inches under broiler for about 1 minute. Remove and pour on half the remaining glaze. Place under the broiler for 30 to 40 seconds. Remove and pour the rest of the glaze onto the corned beef and broil another 30 to 40 seconds.

Makes 8 servings

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Daring Gourmet: Fettuccine Alfredo with Shrimp


For some reason I've been craving fettuccine alfredo with shrimp lately.  It's incredibly rich, so I'm only able to eat a small serving, but I still find myself thinking of it fondly when dinner rolls around and I'm otherwise out of ideas.  I realized lately that I had never actually made it myself, only ordered it at restaurants, so I figured my latest craving was the perfect time to give it a shot.

Fettuccine Alfredo with Shrimp
Adapted from Daring Gourmet blog

9 ounces fresh fettuccine, cooked al dente in lightly salted water; reserve ¼ cup of the pasta water
1 pound raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided use
1 tablespoons olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced, divided use
1¼ cups heavy cream
2 large egg yolks
1 cup freshly grated quality Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Small pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the olive oil and 2 minced cloves of garlic.  When the butter foams, add the shrimp and cook on both sides until pink throughout.  Season with salt and pepper.  When shrimp are cooked through, remove them from the pan to a dish and cover to keep warm.

In the same saucepan, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Add the remaining garlic and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add the heavy cream and bring to a gentle simmer.

Place the egg yolks in a small bowl and whisk in ¼ cup of the hot cream, whisking constantly.  Whisk the egg yolk mixture back into the pot, whisking constantly until incorporated. Simmer until the sauce is lightly thickened, about 2 minutes.  Whisk the cheese into the sauce until melted. Add the lemon zest, salt, nutmeg and 2 tablespoons of the reserved pasta water.

Remove the hot pasta from the water with pasta tongs, letting most of the water drip off, and place directly into the sauce. Stir until the pasta is thoroughly coated. Add a little more of the reserved pasta water if necessary.  Top with the sautéed shrimp and serve immediately for the best consistency.

Makes 4 servings

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Carnets de Cuisine - Du Périgord À L’elysée: Les Pêches Rôties à l'Angélique (Roasted Peaches with Angelica)


Ever since I saw the movie Haute Cuisine, I've been looking for the recipes of the woman depicted in the film: Danièle Mazet-Delpeuch, who served as chef to François Mitterrand, President of France, in the late eighties.  Unfortunately, the only cookbook I could obtain is entirely in French, with no English translation available.  Thank goodness for Google translator.  And since it is most certainly peach season here in Texas, I thought this was a lovely place to start sampling the beautiful foods that Ms. Mazet-Delpeuch brought to the French presidential palace.

Note: Since angelica liquor is basically unobtainable here in the US, I used St. Germain as a substitute this time around.  And I assumed that 1 small glass = one shot.  And of course I have plans of planting my own patch of angelica to make my own liquor in the future.  I found the candied angelica on Amazon.

Les Pêches Rôties à l'Angélique (Roasted Peaches with Angelica)
From Carnets de Cuisine - Du Périgord À L’elysée by Danièle Mazet-Delpeuch

8 well-ripened peaches
100g butter (about 3½ ounces)
50g powdered sugar (about 1¾ ounces)
100g candied angelica (about 3½ ounces)
1 small glass of angelica liquor
Madagascar vanilla ice cream

Peel the peaches and reserve in a bowl of water with lemon to avoid darkening. Julienne the candied angelica. Melt butter over low heat in a pan. Sauté peaches, two or three at a time, letting color slightly (about 10 minutes).

When all peaches are roasted, reunite them in the pan, then sprinkle in the sugar and slightly caramelize the peaches, turning them in their juice. Set aside the peaches and keep them warm. Deglaze the pan with a glass of angelica liquor and add the julienned angelica.

Arrange the peaches on plates, accompanied by a scoop of ice cream. Drizzle with hot juice. Serve immediately.

Portions for 8 people

Saturday, July 22, 2017

How Sweet Eats: Sweet Chili Salmon Skewers with Coconut Cilantro Rice


I realized the other day that I haven't made fish in a while.  And I love fish.  That situation needed to be remedied.  So I'm playing around on Pinterest, and I see this lovely photo of this tender pink salmon, glistening and beckoning to me.  And it was like fate, because I had all of the ingredients except the fish.  I love how that works.  So I went to the store, and it was like double fate, because they had this beautiful wild coho salmon on sale.  This recipe doesn't look like much, but it's fantastic.  I really struggled with marking this as four servings because I honestly shoved two skewers in my greedy little mouth.  Maybe have a bunch of veggies ready on the side when you serve this for more than two hungry people.

Note:  Next time I think I'll double skewer these, because the fish cubes went a little wonky each time I turned the kebabs.  A double skewer setup would probably stabilize the delicate fish a bit more.  Live and learn.

Sweet Chili Salmon Skewers with Coconut Cilantro Rice
From How Sweet Eats blog

4 (4-ounce) salmon fillets, cut into chunks
Salt and pepper
1 bunch of green onions, sliced into 1 to 2-inch pieces
1 cup sweet chili sauce, plus extra for topping
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
2 limes, cut into wedges
Coconut Cilantro Rice

Place the salmon in a bowl and season with salt and pepper, then cover with the sweet chili sauce, tossing well to coat. Take the chunks and skewer them with about 3 or 4 pieces of green onion in between (5 to 6 salmon chunks per skewer), beginning and ending with the salmon.

Heat a large skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat and add the coconut oil. Place the skewers in the skillet and cook until opaque and golden on all sides, about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Remove the salmon and place it on a plate. Brush with extra sweet chili sauce, drizzle with the toasted sesame oil, and sprinkle with the cilantro and sesame seeds. Finish with a spritz of lime. Serve over coconut cilantro rice with lime wedges and extra chili sauce on the side.

Makes 4 servings

Coconut Cilantro Rice
1½ cups white jasmine rice
1 cup canned coconut milk
1 cup water
1 tablespoon coconut oil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup chopped cilantro

Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat and add rice, coconut milk, water and salt. Stir, then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and let cook for 15 to 18 minutes, until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork, then stir in coconut oil. Stir in the cilantro and serve.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Allrecipes: David's Yellow Cake


My nephew doesn't like sweets.  Not really.  I know!  We must not really be related.  It's a shocking turn of events.  So when it comes time for his birthday, I'm a bit at a loss for what to do about a cake.  What birthday cake do you make for someone who doesn't really like cake?  So my sister suggested a plain yellow cake with some chocolate frosting.  Just use a box mix, she says.  Nice and simple.  So what did I do?  I found the best danged from-scratch cake recipe I could and made a beautiful yellow cake.  What did the kids at the party do?  Licked the frosting right off the top.  They don't know what they're missing.

David's Yellow Cake
From Allrecipes

1 cup unsalted butter
1½ cups granulated sugar
8 large egg yolks
¾ cup whole milk
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
Chocolate Frosting

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 2 8-inch round pans. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and end with flour, mixing just until incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes before turning out onto cooling racks.

Chocolate Frosting
9 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 to 9 tablespoons milk
½ cup cocoa powder

Mix together the butter, sugar, vanilla extract, and 6 tablespoons of milk until smooth. Add cocoa powder and enough additional milk to make the frosting spreadable.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Dash of Savory: Pork Chops with Morel Brandy Cream Sauce


I can't believe there were still morels at the store the other day.  It's like some sadistic deity knew that I was trying to stick to a budget, and that $20 in morels was not part of that budget.  So that deity flaunted the beauty that is nature's bounty right in my shocked little face.  And of course I gave right in and bought them.  And because there hasn't been enough pork in my life lately (**sarcasm**), I cooked those morels with some super-tender pork chops, thus achieving nirvana and became one with the sadistic deity.

Pork Chops with Morel Brandy Cream Sauce
From Dash of Savory blog

2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
4 bone-in pork chops
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 ounces morel mushrooms, trimmed and halved, if large
1 whole shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup brandy or Cognac
1 cup heavy cream
1 wedge lemon
1 pinch nutmeg

In a large heavy bottomed skillet add the olive oil and bring to high heat. Season pork chops with salt and pepper and add to the pan. Cook 2 to 3 minutes per side until golden brown and seared. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Add butter to the pan and add morel mushrooms. Saute in butter until mushrooms are tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add shallot and garlic, cook until fragrant and soft, about 1 to 2 minutes. Turn heat down and add brandy. Careful when doing this, it could produce a flame. Simmer the brandy until reduced slightly. Add heavy cream and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes until thickened. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. At this point, squeeze the lemon juice into the sauce and add the pinch of nutmeg. This will brighten the sauce.

Add pork chops back to the skillet and simmer together for 5 minutes. Turn heat off and garnish with chives. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Refinery 29: Broccolini with Cheese Sauce


I've never had a problem eating broccoli.  But that doesn't mean I have any problem with someone smothering a passel of it with cheese sauce.  Especially a smokey, rich cheese sauce that gets run under the broiler for just the right amount of brown patches.  I seriously considered just eating this for dinner.  Maybe over some plain rice.  That certainly says something.

Broccolini with Cheese Sauce
Adapted from Refinery 29 blog

1 pound broccolini or baby broccoli
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup half-and-half or whole milk
½ cup shredded smoked provolone cheese
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat broiler.

Trim the bottom inch off of the broccolini. Bring a medium pot of water to boil over high heat. Add the broccolini to the pot, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until nearly tender, 2 to 4 minutes. Drain and transfer the broccolini to a paper towel-lined baking dish and set aside.

In the same pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly until golden, about 1 minute. Whisk in the half-and-half and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and, whisk in the provolone and ½ cup of the Parmesan until smooth. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper and set aside.

Transfer the broccolini to a baking dish and drizzle sauce over the center of the stalks. Top with the remaining Parmesan and sprinkle with the smoked paprika. Transfer the baking dish into the oven and broil until cheese is golden and broccolini is tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Serve immediately.

Makes 2 to 4 servings

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Gold N' Silver Inn: Baked Lemonade Pork Chops


I think I drink more lemonade than is probably healthy.  I blame it all on Raising Cane's and their evil to-go jugs full of fresh-squeezed lemonade.  I rue the day I discovered that place.  In an effort to get that jug out of my refrigerator, I decided to use a bunch of it in additional recipe I acquired through another unhealthy habit: watching Guy Fieri.  I should probably stop throwing shade and thank the man for bringing such delicious pork recipes into my life.  These pork chops are great: tender, tangy, and delicious.  And they finished off the temptation that was sitting in fridge.  Bonus.

Baked Lemonade Pork Chops
Adapted from Gold N' Silver Inn, as seen on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

Sauce:
2½ cups lemonade (reconstituted, not concentrate, or fresh)
¾ cups tomato ketchup
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves

Pork chops:
Cooking oil, for the skillet
Four center cut pork chops (trimmed somewhat lean to avoid excess grease in baking pan)
All-purpose flour lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, enough to coat chops

For the sauce: In a large pot, mix all of the sauce ingredients together. Heat to boiling over medium high heat and cook, stirring constantly, until reduced by half.  Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

For the pork chops: Heat a large heavy skillet over medium heat and add enough cooking oil to coat the bottom. Dredge the pork chops in the seasoned flour and cook until browned on both sides in the skillet, 5 to 7 minutes per side. Transfer the chops to a baking pan. Fan the chops so that each chop is exposed as much as possible.

Pour the sauce over the chops and cover the baking pan with heavy aluminum foil.  Bake until the chops are tender 30 to 45 minutes.

Makes 4 servings

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Wolfgang Puck: Käsespätzle


So I made some spätzle for the lovely Swiss dinner I cooked.  But it was about a metric ton of spätzle.  Which was about 2,204 pounds more than I really needed for that particular meal.  But if you've been raised properly, you don't through good spätzle away.  You smother it in cheese and caramelized onions and spend the rest of the evening sneaking to the fridge for fourths and fifths.  You have been warned.

Käsespätzle
Adapted from Wolfgang Puck

1 large sweet onion, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 cups freshly cooked spätzle, tossed with 1 tablespoon unsalted butter until melted
4 ounces shredded Gruyère cheese

Heat the oil in a medium skillet. Add the onion and cook over high heat until softened, about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to moderately low and cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Oil a 9x9-inch baking dish. Spread half of the spätzle in the dish and top with half of the caramelized onions.  Sprinkle with half of the cheese, then top with the remaining spätzle.  Spread remaining onions on top, sprinkle with remaining cheese, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the spätzle is hot and the cheese is just melted.

Makes 4 servings

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Swiss Hibiscus: Émincé de Porc à la Zurichoise (Sliced Pork Zurich-style)


It's confession time.  Let's just start with me saying that I rather dislike Guy Fieri.  He's just...too much.  Like he's trying too hard.  And his food is trying too hard.  Blah.  But I still find myself watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives with an excitement that borders on disturbing.  I love seeing what neat little hole-in-the-wall he digs up from viewers recommendations.  And one day recently, he went to this cute little Swiss restaurant, and the cute daughter of the original owner made some delicious Swiss food on camera.  And then I had a powerful need to eat that delicious Swiss food, convinced it couldn't be as awesome as it looked.  Oh, but it is.  I could eat this EVERY DAY.  Super tender pork, rich sauce, and my favorite addition (after bacon), mushrooms.  Gosh, I wish I lived in Portland, but this will have to do.

Émincé de Porc à la Zurichoise (Sliced Veal Zurich-style)
From Swiss Hibiscus restaurant in Portland, OR, as seen on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

1 pound white mushrooms, sliced
4 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1½ cups demi glace brown sauce
1¼ pounds pork tenderloin, sliced into thin 1x2-inch strips
2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup finely minced onions
¼ cup white wine
½ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon finely chopped curly parsley

Sauté the mushrooms in 1 tablespoon of the oil until slightly brown, 3 to 5 minutes.  Set aside.

Heat the demi glace brown sauce per package directions (method may vary slightly depending on brand). Sprinkle the pork strips all over with the salt, white pepper, and flour. Toss gently to evenly coat.

Heat a large sauté pan over high heat and add the remaining three tablespoons oil. Once the oil is hot, add the seasoned pork strips and sauté until cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add the onions and mushrooms to the pan and sauté for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the white wine, brown sauce, and heavy cream; cook for about 1 minute more, or until the sauce is boiling. Return the pork to the sauce, let simmer for 30 seconds, then turn off the heat to avoid overcooking. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Makes 4 servings

Friday, June 02, 2017

Hsa*ba: Shwegyi Sanwei Makin (Burmese Semolina Pudding)


I know the picture doesn't look like much.  And yes, this honestly sounds kinda boring by US dessert standards.  But there's something appealing about a dessert that is soft and crunchy at the same time.  A dessert that isn't super sweet.  And I'm always on board with pouring heavy cream over something.  This pudding is hopefully just the first step in bringing some delicious Burmese food to this blog.  It's definitely a good start.

Shwegyi Sanwei Makin (Burmese Semolina Pudding)
From Hsa*ba blog

12 ounces semolina (preferably coarse grain)
12 ounces granulated sugar
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 large eggs, beaten
2½ cups water
½ cup peanut oil
1 tablespoon white poppy seeds

Pour the semolina on to a baking sheet or frying pan and roast over moderate heat or under the grill for 5 to 10 minutes. Stir frequently until the semolina has turned golden brown. Watch carefully so it does not burn. Remove from the heat and pour into a large saucepan.

Mix in the remaining ingredients, except the poppy seeds. Use a whisk to remove any lumps. Over a moderate heat bring the mixture to the boil, stirring continuously. Soon you will notice the mixture beginning to thicken and at the first sign of bubbles appearing, turn down the heat to the lowest setting.

You need to stir continuously throughout the cooking process. As the mixture becomes thicker, it can be hard work. Continue to simmer very gently for 8 to 10 minutes until the mixture starts to clump together and comes away from the sides of the pan easily.

Pour the mixture into a cake tin or an oven-proof dish, approximately 9 inches in diameter, which has been greased with oil. Smooth over the surface with the back of a spoon so it is level. Sprinkle the poppy seeds and place under the broiler for 8 to 10 minutes until the top is golden and some cracks appear on the surface. Serve the Burmese semolina pudding at room temperature.

Makes 10 to 12 servings

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Ramp Hash


This is a rather luxurious way to use up some ramps.  But I figure, they only come once a year.  Go big or go home, right?  This is pretty fantastic with a beautiful friend egg slapped on top, so the runny yolk can ooze all over this fabulous hash.  And that, my friends, is about the best breakfast out there.  Make it for the ones you love.

Ramp Hash

2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 slices applewood smoked bacon, cut into batons
3 to 4 tablespoons duck fat
8 ounces ramps, white and green portions chopped separately
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 teaspoon salt

In a large pot of boiling water, cook the potatoes until just starting to soften, approximately 10 to 12 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet, cook the bacon until crispy.  Remove from the skillet with a slotted spoon and set aside on paper towels to drain.  To the bacon grease in the pan, add duck fat.  When all fat is hot, add the drained potatoes and the chopped white bulbs of the ramps.  Cook until potatoes start to brown.  Add the thyme and salt and cook until potatoes are soft on the inside and crispy on the outside.  Add the ramp greens and cook a few minutes more until wilted.  Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Nerds with Knives: Ramp Compound Butter


What do you do when you've been stalking your local store for the fresh ramps you just KNOW they will have again this year, and you finally see them over on a special display?  You run over, knocking down old ladies if necessary, and snatch up every last stalk.  Then you run home and discover that no one could possibly eat this many ramps themselves before the little buggers go bad.  So you grab a package of overpriced European butter and proceed to make ramp gold, which will live in your freezer until called upon at any point in the coming year.  You're so smart.  Give yourself a pat on the back.

Ramp Compound Butter
From Nerds with Knives blog

1 pound high-quality unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces ramps, white and green parts (approx. 15-20 large ramps)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest, grated finely (from about 1 large lemon)
Kosher salt, to taste

Trim the root end and wash ramps very thoroughly. Bring a pot of well-salted water to a boil, and set aside a bowl of very cold water with lots of ice. Blanch ramps in boiling water for just 30 seconds, then remove them and plunge them in the ice water to stop the cooking (this is called ’shocking’). Drain and squeeze out as much water as possible. Spread ramps out on paper towel to allow to dry a bit more.

If you are using a food processor, roughly chop the ramps and add them to the bowl along with the butter, lemon zest, and juice. Process until they reach the texture you want.

If you’re not using a processor, chop the ramps finely and place in a bowl with butter, lemon zest, and juice. Mix until well combined (you could also use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment).
Add salt, tasting as you go.

You can pack compound butter into air-tight containers or even ramekins and store them in the refrigerator for about a week. The traditional method is to roll the butter into logs, either in parchment or plastic wrap, so they can be chilled and sliced. You can freeze the rolls for months and just slice off what you need and re-wrap well.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Brown Eyed Baker: Strawberry Pretzel Salad


I first had this non-salad salad at a friend's house.  Here is our exchange:

Me:  What exactly is that scary 1970's gelatinized mess?
Friend: Strawberry Pretzel Salad.  It's awesome.  Just try it.
Me: I'm scared.
Friend: Your loss.
Me: (takes small bite)
Friend: Well?
Me: (grabs dish with remaining salad and proceeds to the corner to stuff face)

Yes, I know it's very 70's-ladies-magazine-ish.  I promise it's delicious.  I even swapped out the Cool Whip for something a little more like real food.  The Jell-O is non-negotiable, however.  I'm still trying to determine if using organic strawberries is a brilliant idea to cut down on ingested chemicals or a disgusting waste of money.

Strawberry Pretzel Salad
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker blog

For the crust:
2 cups finely crushed pretzels
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1¼ cups heavy cream
½ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste

For the strawberry topping:
2 cups boiling water
1 (6-ounce) package strawberry Jell-O
1½ cups cold water
4 cups sliced strawberries (about 1½ quarts)

Preheat oven to 400°F. In a medium bowl, stir together the pretzel crumbs and sugar. Pour the melted butter over top and stir with a fork until all of the crumbs are evenly moistened. Press into the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking pan. Bake for 10 min, then cool completely.

Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. In a separate bowl, combine heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla, and beat until stiff peaks form.  Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Spread evenly over the crust and refrigerate while you prepare the topping.

Place the dry Jell-O in a large bowl and add the boiling water. Stir for at least 2 minutes, until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir in the cold water. Refrigerate for 1½ hours or until slightly thickened (will be the consistency of egg whites). Stir in the strawberries and pour over the cream cheese layer. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or until the Jell-O layer is set. Cut into squares to serve. Leftovers should be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Makes 12 to 16 servings

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The View from Great Island: Rainier Cherry Almond Tart


I love cherries.  I wish it was cherry season all year long.  I especially love specialty cherries, like Rainier.  I wish I could get some fresh tart cherries, but I think I would need to move to Portland or something.  But fabulous cherries deserve a fabulous treatment.  And what better with cherries than almond?  Nothing.  Cherries love almond.  And I love this tart.  The almond balances perfectly with the slight tart-sweetness of the cherries.  And it's pretty.  It was delicious warm or cold.  And yes, I plan to eat some for breakfast.

Rainier Cherry Almond Tart
From The View from Great Island blog

Pie crust to line a 9inch tart pan
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup almond meal
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (or use more almond meal for gluten free)
Approximately 30 to 40 cherries, pitted and halved

Set oven to 375°F. Line the 9-inch tart pan or pie plate with the crust. Put in the refrigerator while you continue.

Cream the butter and the sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg, and then mix in the almond extract and flours. Spread the mixture into the pie shell and top with the cherry halves, laying them face down across the entire surface of the tart.

Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes until golden and firm to the touch.

Makes 10 to 12 servings

Friday, May 26, 2017

Sweet Myrtle and Bitter Honey: Macarrones kin Recottu (Pasta with Ricotta and Bottarga)


I remember when this cookbook was released in 2007.  I admit that I bought it because of the big picture of cheesy pasta on the front.  Yes, sometimes it's that easy to hook me.  I even went out of my way to acquire the correct pasta.  And then I did nothing.  The pasta got trashed at some point during a move and the cookbook disappeared.  It wasn't until I ran across another copy at the used bookstore that I started thinking, "why didn't I ever make that delicious looking pasta?"  So I acquired another bag of the special pasta and a bottle of grated bottarga, and voila!  It looks fabulous, but honestly?  Not really worth the effort it took to acquire the supplies. Wah wah.  But hey, now I can say I've made real Sardinian food!

Macarrones kin Recottu (Pasta with Ricotta and Bottarga)
From Sweet Myrtle and Bitter Honey

1 pound malloreddus pasta (or short tubular pasta)
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sheep's milk ricotta cheese (or other creamy ricotta cheese)
4 tablespoons grated bottarga di muggine (grey mullet roe)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add malloreddus and boil for 10 to 12 minutes, or until al dente.

While cooking the pasta, heat the heavy cream in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add ricotta and stir well to combine. Cook for 5 minutes, continuously stirring until the sauce thickens and is well combined. Stir in 2 tablespoons of bottarga and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Drain pasta and add to ricotta mixture. Add parsley and toss until to combine; stir in the olive oil. Pour pasta mixture into a ceramic serving dish, then sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of bottarga.

Makes 4 servings

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Lucky Peach: Horse Race Pie


This pie is the culmination and accumulation of two amazing desserts: pie and cookies.  Because really, there's nothing better than a warm chocolate chip cookie, unless you put it in a pie. (I'm sorry for everyone who didn't experience a warm cookie as a child.  I believe it may have been one of the preeminent experiences of my childhood.)  The only thing about this pie that I find absolutely ridiculous IN THE EXTREME is all the flap about not being able to call this pie by its true name because of a rather nasty, litigious bakery in Kentucky.  But call it what you will, as long as you call it delicious.

Note: The recipe calls for black walnuts because of their amazing flavor, but if you can't find any, you can certainly substitute regular walnuts.

Horse Race Pie
From Lucky Peach magazine

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 pinch sea salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup black walnuts
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 premade pie crust

Heat the oven to 300°F. Get out your stand mixer.

On low speed, combine the butter, eggs, and vanilla. Beat in the flour, then the salt, then the sugar. Fold in the nuts and chocolate chips until just combined. Pour into the unbaked pie shell, and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the top is set but the innards are still jiggly; if you stick in a knife, it won’t come out exactly clean. That’s okay. Let it cool.

Just as you sit down to dinner, put the pie in your oven that’s already warm from all your other cooking. By the time you’re ready to eat it, you’ll be good to go. I really think it is better warm than cold, but I also think pumpkin pie is better cold than warm. (If you want to slice the pie into clean pieces, you can chill it and cut it with a hot knife.)

Makes 8 servings

Monday, May 01, 2017

Central Market Cooks: Pam's Pimiento Cheese


I have lived in the southern half of the US for far longer than I ever lived in the northern half, but for some reason I keep coming across foods that I never experienced until I was an adult.  (I blame it on Betty Crocker's evil influence.)  Pimiento cheese never seemed entirely appealing to me, and it honestly sounds gross when you describe it ("so yeah, you put a bunch of cheese in some mayonnaise...").  But goodness gracious and bless your heart, it's like a southern tap dance on the tongue.

Note: I added some chopped iceberg lettuce to my sandwich because I wanted a cool crunch to accompany my pimiento cheese, but no taste interference.  Highly recommended if you want a fancier "tea sandwich" for a ladies lunch.

Pam’s Pimiento Cheese
Adapted from Central Market Cooks

2 cups shredded sharp yellow Cheddar Cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 (4-ounce) jar roasted red pepper, diced small
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill weed OR 1 teaspoon dried dill
¼ cup mayonnaise (or less, just enough to moisten)
Salt and ground white pepper to taste

Mix Cheddar and mozzarella cheese in a medium bowl. Add the diced red pepper, sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, Worcestershire sauce, and dill weed. Add enough mayonnaise to make the desired consistency and toss lightly to mix well. Season with salt and pepper.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Midwest Living: Heavenly Morel Tarts


It's morel time!  I must admit...I look forward to this time of year every year.  Because this is when the fun, elusive stuff comes to market.  Things like fiddlehead ferns, morels, and ramps.  Delicious ephemeral beauties.  But once I get these delights home, and the initial glee has faded, I have to figure out what to make with my bounty.  And due to the transient nature of these delicacies, the recipe options can be rather limited.  Luckily I found this tasty pocket of creamy mushroom goodness.  Absolutely well worth the effort and the expense.

Heavenly Morel Tarts
From Midwest Living

3 ounces fresh morel mushrooms*
2 green onions, chopped
1½ tablespoons unsalted butter
⅛ teaspoon sea salt
⅛ teaspoon ground white pepper
⅛ teaspoon dried marjoram, crushed
⅛ teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
⅛ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon dried parsley
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 (17.3-ounce) package puff pastry sheets
1 egg, lightly beaten

Clean mushrooms. Place morel mushrooms, if using, in a large bowl. Cover with cold tap water; add ½ teaspoon salt. Soak for 10 to 15 minutes. Drain, rinse and repeat two more times. Drain thoroughly; pat mushrooms dry with paper towels. Chop mushrooms (you should have 1 cup).

For filling: In a large skillet, cook onion in butter over medium heat until tender. Add mushrooms, salt, white pepper, marjoram, rosemary, garlic powder, onion powder, and parsley. Cook and stir for 3 to 5 minutes or until liquid is nearly evaporated. Remove from heat.  In a small bowl, stir together sour cream and flour until combined. Stir sour cream mixture into mushroom mixture.

On a floured surface, use your hands to slightly flatten the puff pastry dough. Cut dough into eighteen 3-inch circles, re-rolling dough as necessary. Using small cutters, make cutouts in the centers of half of the rounds or cut a slit in half of the rounds to let the steam escape during baking.

Place 9 of the circles, without cutouts, on an ungreased baking sheet. Place about 1 tablespoon of the filling in the center of each. Moisten edges of filled pastry with a little water. Add the remaining 9 circles with cutouts or slits. Crimp edges together with a fork. Brush tops with beaten egg.
Bake in a 350°F oven for 16 to 20 minutes or until pastry is golden brown. Serve warm.

Makes 9 tarts

*If fresh morels aren't available, substitute 1½-ounces dried morel or porcini mushrooms. In a small bowl, cover the dried mushrooms with hot water. Let stand for 20 minutes. Rinse under warm running water; squeeze out excess moisture. Slice the mushrooms.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Strawberry Cake


This is it.  The absolute last piece of the cake.  The same cake that I had for approximately 80% of my birthdays growing up.  At least until I decided that artificial red dyes and preservatives should probably not be a main staple of my diet.  But there's something so good about being bad.  This cake is ludicrously pink and ridiculously sweet.  But it's also deliciously strawberry, and there's nothing wrong with that.  Go old school and see.

Note: Versions of this cake have made the rounds of the internet since its inception.  This is my grandmother's take.

Strawberry Cake

1 box white cake mix
1 (3-ounce) package strawberry-flavored instant gelatin
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 (10-ounce) package frozen strawberries in syrup, chopped
4 large eggs
Strawberry Frosting

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans.

Combine the cake mix and gelatin thoroughly. Add the butter and 1 cup of chopped strawberries; mix well. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the cakes on a rack. Frost with Strawberry Frosting. Refrigerate for at least half an hour to set the frosting.

Makes 16 servings

Strawberry Frosting
1 (1-pound) box powdered sugar (about 3½ cups)
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 (10-ounce) package frozen strawberries in syrup, chopped

Mix the sugar and butter together. Add the strawberries, a spoonful at a time, until the frosting reaches spreading consistency.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Little Spice Jar: Firecracker Chicken Meatballs


Every year I swear it gets harder and harder to make a dish that I can take to a family gathering and get everyone to eat.  Like moving-a-mountain impossible.  I've got medical issues to work around, weird aversions to certain ingredients, someone who pretty much only eats meat and potatoes, and someone who tries to keep the food fresh and healthy and without chemicals.  Okay, that last one is me.  Trouble maker: identified.  But I think I've found a good option here.  Meat, but not heavy, greasy meat.  Carbs are almost nonexistent in the meatballs.  Flavorful sauce hides lack of carbs, but don't take too much because sugar.  Crunchy lettuce works well with spicy meatballs.  I'm moving a mountain, one meatball at a time.

Firecracker Chicken Meatballs
Adapted from Little Spice Jar blog

2 pounds ground chicken thighs
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon paprika
1½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
Sliced green onions, for garnish
Boston lettuce leaves, for serving

Firecracker Sauce:
¾ cup Frank's hot sauce
1½ cups packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼-½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (depending on spice preference)

Position 2 racks near the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 475ºF. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.

In a saucepan, combine the ingredients of the Firecracker Sauce over medium-high heat, allow to come to a boil, reduce the heat so it simmers. Let simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the sauce to cool. The sauce will thicken as it cools, so don’t worry if it looks thin.

In a large bowl, combine the ground chicken, panko, eggs, parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and white pepper. Use your hands to mix all the ingredients together. The mixture should be sticky. DO NOT OVERMIX, it will result in drier meatballs.

Shape the meat mixture into ball, about 1 inch in diameter. Place shaped meatballs on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, or until the meatballs are completely cooked.

Place meatballs in serving dish and pour the sauce over the meatballs, making sure each meatball gets coated in the sauce.  Sprinkle with green onions and serve with Boston lettuce leaves.

Makes 44 meatballs

Saturday, April 08, 2017

St. Louis Post Dispatch: Lemp Mansion German-Style Cut Green Beans


I love these green beans.  I'm not sure what else to say, really.  They are just that good.  I even considered just cooking some plain white rice and eating these green beans on top of it for the whole week.  It's green beans in gravy, and somehow that seems to defy all the rules of eating your vegetables, but is somehow perfect.  If you have some kids and you struggle to get green stuff into them, try this dish.  If they don't eat it like it's chocolate cake, your children have serious problems and probably need a therapist.

Lemp Mansion German-Style Cut Green Beans
From the St. Louis Post Dispatch and Lemp Mansion restaurant

2 (14½-ounce) cans cut green beans
4 to 6 slices bacon, chopped
½ medium onion, diced small
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons chicken base
1½ teaspoons beef base
¼ teaspoon sea salt (optional)
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 drops Kitchen Bouquet
Extra cooked bacon and onion, for garnish

Heat oven to 400°F.

Reserving the liquid for the gravy, drain the green beans for at least 15 minutes. Once drained, place beans in an oven-safe shallow baking pan.

In a large, heavy saucepan, sauté bacon on medium high heat until slightly crispy.  Add onion and use a whisk to sauté onions until they are slightly golden but still retain some texture, about 3 minutes.  Add margarine, let it melt, then stir in.  Sprinkle about half the flour over top, stir in well, then add remaining flour. Stir constantly on low heat until floury taste cooks off, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Stir in reserved green bean liquid and bring to a boil, stirring continuously to avoid lumps. Let simmer for about 5 minutes until mixture thickens, stirring often.  Stir in chicken base, beef base, salt (if desired), pepper, and Kitchen Bouquet. Let cook for 5 minutes.  Pour hot gravy over top of the beans without stirring in. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until beans are hot.

To serve Lemp Mansion-style, transfer hot beans to a large serving bowl and top with extra bacon and onion.

Makes 4 servings

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Mission Lutheran Church: Shrimp and Rice Casserole


Tonight I was feeling very retro.  I just wanted something warm and comforting.  Something that comes in a casserole dish and screams '70's at the top of its lungs.  And luckily I found exactly what I wanted in an old community cookbook.  I swear, those housewives knew exactly what they were doing.  We all pretend like we're super foodies and above this kind of meal, but the moment any stress hits, we're right back to what mom used to cook.  Why?  Because it's good and non-threatening and reminds us of being 10 years old (when adulting was a far-away thing).

Shrimp and Rice Casserole
Adapted from Mission Lutheran Church community cookbook, Richardson, TX

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped green pepper
⅓ cup chopped roasted red pepper
1 small jalapeño, deveined and deseeded, minced
1 bunch green onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Emeril's Essence
½ teaspoon Goya Adobo All-Purpose Seasoning without pepper (blue lid)
2½ cups cooked long-grain white rice
1 (10½ ounce) can condensed cream of shrimp soup
1 (10½ ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
⅓ cup sour cream
1½ pounds large shrimp, cleaned and patted dry
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
⅓ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
½ cup panko

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Melt butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, then add celery, green and red pepper, jalapeño, green onions, and garlic.  Sprinkle with Emeril's Essence and Adobo seasoning.  Sauté until onions are translucent and tender.  Add the shrimp and cook until they start to turn opaque.  Lower heat to medium and mix in the cooked rice, canned soups, and sour cream.  Add white pepper and parsley.  Stir well and cook until warmed through.  Pour into a large casserole dish and sprinkle with panko.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Makes 12 servings

Friday, March 31, 2017

Life Made Simple: Mint Chocolate Brownies


I don't know why, but lately I've had the most ridiculous craving for mint.  Well, mint and chocolate actually.  And what better vehicle for getting mint and chocolate into your face than making up some rich brownies and then slathering them in mint frosting?  There's none, I promise you that.  And to just gild the lily a touch, you top it off with more chocolate.  I would eat something light for dinner, because you're going to want room for dessert.

Note:  I used some natural food coloring to add a slight green color to my frosting, but this particular food coloring came in small individual packets which cannot be closed again after using a small portion, which seems a ridiculous waste of almost $7.  My wish for all those food scientists out there: make some good natural food coloring that comes in resealable mini bottles and doesn't cost a small fortune.

Mint Chocolate Brownies
From Life Made Simple blog

For the brownies:
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder, sifted
⅛ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup chopped chocolate or nuts (optional)

For the mint frosting:
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1-2 drops green food coloring (optional)
½ teaspoon peppermint extract
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups powdered sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream

For the chocolate ganache:
¾ cup chocolate chips
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 tablespoons heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x8 baking pan with foil and lightly coat with baking spray, set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the melted butter, sugars and vanilla extract for 30 seconds on medium. With mixing speed on low, add the eggs one at a time, mixing until thoroughly combined.
In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sifted cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. With mixing speed on low, gradually add the dry ingredients, mixing until no flour pockets remain. Remove the bowl from the stand and using a spatula, fold in the chopped chocolate or nuts if desired.

Pour batter into the prepared pan, spreading into an even layer. Place in the oven and bake for 23-26 minutes or until set, taking care not to overbake. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes or until brownies are no longer warm (you can speed up the process by letting them cool uncovered in the refrigerator).
Meanwhile, to make the mint frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, food coloring, peppermint extract and salt until creamy, about 1 minute on medium high. Add the powdered sugar, then the milk (or heavy cream) until it reaches the desired consistency. Beat for 2-3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Frost cooled brownies, then toss uncovered into the freezer for 10 minutes.
During the last minute of freeze time, in a microwave safe bowl, combine the chocolate chips, butter and heavy cream. Heat on half powder (mine is usually power 10, so I did 5) for one minute, stir, then repeat. Stir chocolate until all of the chips are melted and it becomes smooth. Beat for 1 minute and then pour over the top of the cold frosted brownies. Spread evenly and place in the refrigerator uncovered to set for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving (SEE NOTES).

Notes
-This recipe can be doubled and baked in a 9x13" pan. Adjust the baking time accordingly.
-For easy cutting it's best to chill these brownies for at least 30 minutes, preferably 1 hour in the refrigerator or 30 minutes in the freezer before slicing with a sharp knife. The hot water method is not necessary, for a clean cut wipe your knife on a paper towel after each slice.