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.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Abuelo's: Papas con Chile (Potatoes with Chile)


I know this is probably going to seem strange to some, but one of my favorite things at a local Tex-Mex restaurant is their mashed potatoes.  Now wait, these aren't just any old mashed potatoes.  These are cheesy, chile mashed potatoes.  And somehow they go perfectly next to that enchilada doused in chili sauce.  In fact, the chile sauce is almost like the perfect Tex-Mex gravy for these puppies.  And lucky me, the restaurant actually released the recipe on their Facebook page.  And the crowd goes wild!

Note: Yes, I know.  Velveeta.  Chemical cheese.  I hear you.  But if you do any sort of investigating into restaurant recipes, you'll quickly realize that any sort of melty cheese dish incorporates a type of special melting cheese (I've heard rumors that it's from Land o' Lakes) that closely approximates Velveeta.  So basically, you're eating it anyway.  Ignorance is bliss.

Papas con Chile (Potatoes with Chile)
From Chef Luis at Abuelo's Mexican Restaurant

3 pounds red potatoes
3 ounces cream cheese, cut into 2-inch squares
½ cup heavy cream
10 ounces Velveeta, cut into 2-inch squares
1½ teaspoons salt
¾ teaspoon granulated garlic
¼ cup sour cream
½ cup diced red bell peppers
½ cup diced green bell peppers
2 cans chopped green chiles
½ cup chopped green onion tops
2 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeño, seeds removed

Wash and scrub potatoes until clean. Place potatoes in a pot covered with water and boil until soft. Drain potatoes. Add the rest of ingredients and mash. Be sure all ingredients are incorporated.

Makes 6 servings

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Chowhound: Jamaican Curry Goat


Whenever there's something unusual to be found at my local grocery store, I'm the first to snatch it up.  Okay, maybe not the first first, but pretty close.  I know exactly where they put all the cool stuff.  And I certainly noticed when they set out some fabulous slabs of frozen goat.  The first thing I thought of was the amazing curry goat that I'd had at a local restaurant, and I really wanted to replicate that experience.  Luckily, the owner of that restaurant has a small dry goods section near the register with some imported Jamaican goodies.  His suggestion?  Add a little bit of jarred jerk paste at the end of cooking to give it that fresh hit of spice and flavor.

Jamaican Curry Goat
Adapted from Chowhound

3 pounds goat meat with bone, cut in large cubes
3 tablespoons Goya Adobo All-Purpose Seasoning without pepper (blue lid)
2 tablespoons vegetable or corn oil
1 large yellow onion, medium-dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch green onions, chopped medium-coarse
4 sprigs fresh thyme
5 whole allspice berries
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 fresh Scotch bonnet pepper, leave whole and cut small "X" in bottom
2 tablespoons Jamaican curry powder

Trim excess fat from meat cubes, season with 2 tablespoons of Adobo seasoning and let sit for 30 minutes.

Chop onions, garlic, and green onions while meat is marinating in Adobo seasoning.

Heat oil in large, heavy-bottomed pot and fry 1 tablespoon of the curry powder in the oil until curry powder darkens. Immediately add goat meat cubes along with chopped onions, garlic, green onions, thyme, whole allspice, and black pepper. Stir and fry over medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes. Add remaining curry powder, the whole scotch bonnet pepper, and remaining 1 tablespoon of Adobo seasoning. Add hot water to cover, stir well, and bring to boil. Lower heat to a simmer.

After 40 minutes remove the whole scotch bonnet pepper (if you like extremely hot food you can leave it in the pot).  Continue cooking, uncovered, until meat is very tender (almost falling off bone), about another hour. You will need to replenish hot water several times in the cooking process, as needed. You will want a somewhat thick sauce on the meat, so if it’s still a bit watery when the meat is tender, turn up heat to medium, and cook off excess liquid until a somewhat thick sauce is formed.

Makes 6 servings

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Food.com: Jamaican Peas and Rice


When I visited San Francisco a year ago, one of the things I brought back with me was a package of some very fine red beans.  Smaller than kidney beans.  Perfect for red beans and rice (still on the to-be-cooked list).  But also perfect for a Jamaican side dish.  Especially for someone who likes her beans on the smallish side.  And when you cook this dish with all that ginger and allspice and coconut milk, you get the best darn rice and beans...err peas...that you've tasted.

Jamaican Peas and Rice
Adapted from food.com

¾ cup dried small red beans
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 slice ginger, ½-inch thick and 1 inch in diameter
3 allspice berries
4 cups water
1 (14½-ounce) can coconut milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ teaspoon Goya Adobo seasoning without pepper (blue lid)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 green onion, root removed, crushed
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 fresh Scotch bonnet pepper, pierced with a sharp knife
1½ cups basmati rice

Combine the beans, garlic, ginger, allspice, and water in a saucepan. Cook, covered, over medium heat until tender, about 2 hours.

Add the coconut milk, butter, Goya seasoning, pepper to taste, green onion, thyme, and whole fresh pepper.  Bring to a boil, then remove the hot pepper.  Add the rice and stir.  Return to a boil, cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 25 minutes, or until all the liquids have been absorbed. Serve hot as a side dish.

Makes 8 servings

Monday, March 13, 2017

Brennan's and Sally's Baking Addiction: Bananas Foster Cake


It's time for my lovely niece's birthday, and I was racking my brain for a delicious, moist cake that was kid friendly and could be baked up in a six inch pan, but was still enticing to the adults attending the dinner.  And what I came up with is this lovely banana cake, with a twist.  I made Bananas Foster, and then mashed it up and dumped it into the cake mix.  And what came out was pretty fantastic.  I think if I make this again, I'll make a double batch of Bananas Foster, and slather some of it in between the layers.  For the adults only, that is.

Bananas Foster Cake
Adapted from Brennan's and Sally's Baking Addiction

¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup banana liqueur
4 medium bananas, sliced
¼ cup dark rum
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon sea salt
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1¼ cups buttermilk
Cream Cheese Frosting

Melt butter, sugars, and cinnamon in a 12-inch heatproof skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until sugar is dissolved, 4 minutes. Add banana liqueur and bananas; cook, until bananas are soft and slightly caramelized, 4 to 6 minutes. Add rum, and using a match or lighter, ignite to flambé; cook until flame dies out.  Spoon banana mixture into a bowl and refrigerate until cooled.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9x13-inch pan. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.

Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cooled banana mixture on low speed until creamy - about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the eggs and the vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk and mixing each addition just until incorporated. Do not overmix. The batter will be slightly thick and a few lumps is okay.

Spread batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cream Cheese Frosting
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 (1-pound) box confectioner's sugar (about 3½ cups)
Milk or cream to adjust consistency of frosting, if necessary

Beat the butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add the salt and vanilla. Beat in the sugar. Add a teaspoon of milk or cream if the frosting is too stiff to spread; add additional sugar if it's too thin.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Serious Eats: Muffuletta


It's that time of year again!  Time for lots and lots of gluttony in anticipation of Lent.  Except I don't celebrate Lent.  So there's no future of abstaining from something delicious for me.  But that doesn't stop me from celebrating Fat Tuesday in all its glory.  And this year I decided to go with a beautiful muffuletta sandwich.  Now, I did not bake the roll all myself, but the olive salad is from scratch, and I picked out the most beautiful meats to adorn this lovely beast.  And it was....too much for a mere mortal.  You'll need a couple of friends to help you finish this off.

Muffuletta
Adapted from Serious Eats

1 large round Italian sesame seed roll
¼ pound thinly sliced soppressata
¼ pound thinly sliced mortadella with pistachios
¼ pound thinly sliced coppa
4 slices mozzarella
4 slices smoked provolone
Olive Salad

Split muffuletta roll in half and spread each cut surface generously with olive salad, making sure to include the juices when spreading. Layer half of soppressata on bottom half of bun, followed by half of mortadella, half of coppa, half of mozzarella, and half of provolone. Repeat layers with remaining meat and cheese. Close sandwich and press down gently to compress. For best flavor, wrap tightly in paper or plastic and let rest for 1 hour before serving. Cut into triangular wedges to serve.

Makes 1 to 4 servings

Olive Salad
¾ cup pitted mixed oil-packed olives
2 tablespoons capers
¼ cup chopped roasted red peppers
2 tablespoons parsley leaves
½ cup giardiniera (Italian-style pickled vegetable salad)
1 medium garlic clove, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Combine olives, capers, peppers, parsley, giardiniera, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to chop until no pieces larger than ½-inch remain. Transfer to a bowl. Add vinegar and olive oil and stir to combine. For best results, let olive salad rest overnight.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Black Pearl: New England Clam Chowder


Having grown up outside of New England, I've never been a big clam chowder fan.  Especially since the versions you get in the rest of the US are pretty poor imitations.  But when I found myself in Rhode Island a year or so ago, I got the opportunity to try The Black Pearl, and boy, have my thoughts on clam chowder changed.

As explained by Chef Knerr in the old RI morning show footage I found on YouTube, ocean clams are tough little buggers, and they just aren't appealing to chew, but they have fan-friggin-tastic flavor.  Sea clams are light and tender, but don't pack a flavor punch.  What is a chef to do?  Well, ground up the tough ones and throw in the tender ones in pieces, thus achieving clam chowder nirvana and possibly world peace.

Note: This version of the soup may actually have more clams in it than the original restaurant version.  I fail to see that this is a bad thing.  Also, there is no bacon in this soup.  Shocking, I know.  This may in fact be NE chowder sacrilege.  However, as much as I love bacon (and boy, do I ever love bacon), I feel that it has a tendency to trample everything in its path, especially lovely delicate things.  Like sea clams.  So I think that while this soup would probably still be delicious with bacon (what isn't?), you really get to enjoy the loveliness of the clams in their purest form by leaving it out.

New England Clam Chowder
Adapted from Chef Daniel Knerr at Black Pearl restaurant, Newport, RI

3 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1½ teaspoons sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 (51-ounce) can chopped ocean clams (quahogs), drained, liquid reserved
1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice
2½ cups potatoes, peeled and diced small
2 cups half-and-half
1 (51-ounce) can chopped sea clams (surf clams), drained
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1-2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
½ teaspoon Tabasco sauce (optional)
Dry vermouth (optional)

Place the drained ocean clams in a food processor with a couple tablespoons of the reserved liquid and process until ground.  Set aside.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven, then add the onions and saute for a few minutes until translucent.  Add the thyme, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.  Sprinkle the flour and cornstarch over the onions, then mix together and cook for a minute to two until the flour starts to smell nutty, but doesn't change color.  Add the ground ocean clams, remaining reserved liquid, bottle of clam juice, and the cubed potatoes.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat back to medium and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or just until potatoes soften.  Remove from the heat and chill until thickened, preferably overnight.

Place Dutch oven over medium high heat and stir in the half-and-half.  When the soup starts to loosen up and warm through, add the chopped sea clams, butter, and dill.  Stir to combine and heat through.  Add Tabasco and vermouth, if desired.  Serve hot.

Makes 12 servings

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Bon Appétit: Potato Skins


Okay, I gave in.  I never really watch the Super Bowl (except for the halftime concert), but I always enjoy an excuse to make delicious little appetizers.  They aren't really enough opportunities in life for appetizers.  And I could probably be okay with just having appetizers for dinner.  Especially when they're these delicious roasted potato skins, full of melted cheese and cool sour cream.  These are pretty much the pinnacle of appetizer goodness.  And I love having a recipe that turns out some fantastic skins, regardless of occasion.

Potato Skins
From Bon Appétit magazine, January 2014

8 russet potatoes (about 5 pounds), scrubbed
Olive oil for rubbing and brushing
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
Freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese
1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
Sour cream and chopped green onions, for serving

Preheat oven to 400°F. Prick potatoes all over with a fork and rub with oil; season generously with salt and pepper.

Place potatoes on a rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until very soft when squeezed and skin is crisp, 60 to 75 minutes. Let cool.

Heat broiler to high. Halve potatoes and scoop out flesh (save for another use), leaving a ¼-inch border attached to skins. Brush both sides of potatoes with oil and season insides with salt and pepper; return to rack. Broil, turning once, until skins are crisp and flesh is golden, about 5-7 minutes per side.

Divide cheese and bacon among potatoes and broil until cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. Serve topped with sour cream, green onions, and black pepper.

Makes 8 servings

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Donald Link: Bayou "Chicken Wings" with Fines Herbes Butter


You can tell it's Super Bowl time.  The grocery stores are packed to the gills.  Everyone is buying snack food.  And things like these little goodies show up in the fish market case.  I didn't even know my grocery store carried frog legs.  However, as soon as I saw them, I knew I needed to try them.  So I did some digging and came up with the recipe below, which I think does a good job of making frog legs accessible to the general public.  Yes, they do taste a little like chicken, but a lean chicken.  And with a crunchy crust and drizzled with butter, they are fantastic.

Bayou "Chicken Wings" with Fines Herbes Butter
From Donald Link, in Crescent City Cooking

Peanut or canola oil, for frying
8 pairs of frogs' legs, cut into individual legs, or 1 pound chicken wings, defrosted if frozen
Salt and pepper
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup buttermilk
Fines Herbes Butter

Heat 2 inches of oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or deep skillet over medium-high heat.

While the oil is heating, rinse the frogs' legs and pat dry with paper towels.  Combine the flour with a light sprinkling of salt and pepper in a pie tin or plate.  Pour the buttermilk into a wide, shallow bowl.  Coat the legs with seasoned flour, then dip in buttermilk, then coat again with flour.  Shake off excess flour.

When the oil is hot (about 350°F), fry the frogs' legs in batches (to avoid overcrowding) until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes (cook chicken wings a bit longer, for about 7 minutes).  Use tongs to remove the legs from the oil, and drain them on paper towels for 1 minute.  Place the hot legs in a large serving bowl and toss with Fines Herbes Butter.  Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings

Fines Herbes Butter
½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons minced fresh fines herbes (parsley, tarragon, chives, chervil)
1 tablespoon hot sauce
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
Juice of ½ medium lemon (1 to 2 tablespoons)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Place the butter in a bowl and stir in fines herbes, hot sauce, cayenne, garlic, and lemon juice.  Season with salt and pepper.  Taste, and adjust the seasoning.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Clinton St. Baking Company: Cherry Crumb Muffins


What do you do when your freezer is bursting at the seams?  You start grabbing things out of it and finding recipes.  Which is exactly how I decided to make these muffins.  Now, I know they're not super pretty.  For the life of me, I cannot get a crumb topping to look pretty once it has run through the oven.  Someday I'll learn.  And the frozen cherry on top of each sure made its own little mess.  But these muffins are absolutely delicious and make a fantastic breakfast.  In addition to helping clear some freezer space for new culinary adventures.

Cherry Crumb Muffins
From Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook

¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg
½ cup sour cream
1 cup frozen or fresh sour pitted cherries
10 tablespoons Crumb Mix

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Lightly grease muffin tins or use paper muffin cups.

In an electric mixer on medium-high speed, with the paddle attachment cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla.

Sift the remaining dry ingredients together into a bowl.

Add the egg to the butter mixture and blend until combined.  Add ¼ cup of the sour cream to the butter mixture, then half of the dry ingredients, mixing and repeating with the remaining sour cream and then the remaining dry ingredients until the batter is combined.  Be sure to end with the dry ingredients.

Reserve 8 cherries and fold in the remaining cherries until evenly mixed.  Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, leaving room on the top for the Crumb Mix.  Top each muffin with 1 tablespoon of the Crumb Mix and 1 cherry.  Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean.

Cool for at least 10 minutes for best release of the muffins from their tins (if not using paper liners).

Makes 10 muffins

Crumb Mix
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, cubed

Mix the dry ingredients with the butter by hand until the mixture is pea-sized.  Keep the Crumb Mix in a cool place until you are ready to use it.  The mix can be stored in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

Makes 1½ cups, enough for 2 to 3 batches of muffins

Sunday, January 29, 2017

David Lebovitz and The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook: Bergamot Marmalade


Since it's the peak of citrus season, I took a stroll through my local fancy grocery to see what I could find.  In among the mounds of oranges and lemons and pomelos, I happened across a basket of bergamots.  They smelled absolutely heavenly, so I bought a whole bag.  Once I got home, I flipped through my jam books until I found one that suited my purpose and spent the next couple of days prepping and cooking.  When I finally got to taste my masterpiece, I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor.  The marmalade is sour and sweet like other citrus preserves, but the bergamots give it a strong floral note that I've never experienced in marmalade before.  Be careful with the bergamots though...these were the sour ones.  Apparently there is a French citrus fruit masquerading as a bergamot that isn't quite as sour.

Bergamot Marmalade
Adapted from David Lebovitz and The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook

8 bergamots (about 3½ pounds)
3½ pounds sugar, or more to taste
1½ ounces lemon juice
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier

Day 1
Cut five bergamots (about 2 pounds) into eighths.  Place the bergamot eighths in a non-reactive saucepan where they will fit snugly in a single layer.  Add enough cold water for the fruit to bob freely.  Cover lightly and let rest overnight at room temperature.

Day 2
Prepare the cooked bergamot juice: Bring the pan with the bergamot eighths to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat to medium.  Cook the fruit at a lively simmer, covered, for 2 to 3 hours, or until the bergamots are very soft and the liquid has become slightly syrupy.  As the bergamots cook, press down on them gently with a spoon every 30 minutes or so, adding a little more water if necessary.  The water level should stay consistently high enough for the fruit to remain submerged as it cooks.

When the bergamots have finished cooking, strain their juice by pouring the hot fruit and liquid into a medium strainer or colander suspended over a heat-proof storage container or non-reactive saucepan.  Cover the entire setup well with plastic wrap and let drip overnight at room temperature.

Meanwhile, cut the remaining 3 bergamots (about 1½ pounds) in half and seed them.  The cut each half in quarters lengthwise and slice very thinly crosswise.  Place the slices in a wide stainless-steel kettle and cover amply with cold water.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes.  Drain, discarding the liquid.  Repeat this process, then cover the blanched bergamot slices with 1 inch cold water.  Bring to a boil over high heat, decrease the heat to medium, and cook at a lively simmer, covered, for 30 to 60 minutes, or until the fruit is very tender.  As the fruit cooks, stir it gently every 15 minutes or so, adding a little more water if necessary.  The water level should stay consistently high enough for the fruit to remain submerged as it cooks.  Remove the pan from the heat, cover tightly, and let rest overnight at room temperature.

Day 3
Remove the plastic wrap from the bergamot eighths and their juice and discard the bergamots.  Strain the juice well through a very fine-mesh strainer to remove any lingering solids.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, lemon juice, cooked bergamot juice, and bergamot slices and their liquid, stirring well.  Transfer the mixture to an 11- or 12-quart copper preserving pan or a wide non-reactive kettle.

Bring the marmalade mixture to a boil over high heat.  Cook it at a rapid boil until the setting point is reached; this will take a minimum of 30 minutes, but it may take longer depending on your individual stove and pan.  Initially, the mixture will bubble gently for several minutes; then, as more moisture cooks out of it and its sugar concentration increases, it will begin foaming.  Do not stir it at all during the initial bubbling; then, once it starts to foam, stir it gently every few minutes with a heatproof rubber spatula.  As it gets close to being done, stir it every minute or two to prevent burning, decreasing the heat slightly if necessary.  The marmalade is ready for testing when its color darkens slightly and its bubbles become very small.  Stir in Grand Marnier.

When the marmalade has finished cooking, turn off the heat but do not stir.  Using a stainless-steel spoon, skim off any surface foam and discard.  Pour the marmalade into sterilized jars and process for 10 minutes.

Makes 6 half-pint jars

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Allrecipes: Crab Rangoon and New York Times: Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce


It's the new year!  The Chinese New Year, that is.  And what a great excuse to make something delicious.  Now, I'm sure this isn't super authentically Chinese.  I doubt very much that they play with cream cheese to any extent.  But this appetizer is on literally every American Chinese restaurant's menu, so I figure it's fair game.  The hardest part of the whole thing is shaping all of the little rangoons, so if you have help, it will go that much faster.

Crab Rangoon
Adapted from allrecipes.com

8 ounces cream cheese
1 (6-ounce) can lump crab meat, drained well
⅓ cup chopped green onions
1 clove crushed garlic
1 teaspoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon fish sauce
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon sesame oil
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 package (3½-inch square) wonton wrappers
Canola oil for frying
Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce

Mix cream cheese, crab meat, green onions, garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, sesame oil, and cayenne pepper together with a fork until ingredients are blended thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, 1 or 2 hours.

Keep wonton wrappers moist by covering with a damp paper towel. Place a small bowl of water nearby on the work surface. With a wet fingertip, moisten surface of wonton. Place 1½ teaspoons of crab filling in center of wonton. Fold 2 opposite corners toward each other over the filling to form a triangle. Working gently from the bottom, squeeze out any air bubbles.  Bring together the two "arms" of the long side of the triangle and pinch together to create an envelope shape. Place on a dry surface. Continue with remaining wonton wrappers.

Heat oil in deep fryer to 350°F. Fry wontons in batches until golden brown and crispy, gently moving them around in the oil with a strainer to brown each surface, about 3 minutes. Let cool about a minute before eating.

Makes 6 servings

Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce
From Molly O'Neill as seen on The New York Times Cooking website

1½ tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon quality ketchup
1 teaspoon soy sauce
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon corn or peanut oil
1½ teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water

Combine the rice vinegar, sugar, ketchup, soy sauce and water in a small bowl, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Set aside.

Heat a small, heavy saucepan. Add the oil and swirl to glaze the bottom of the pan. When the oil is hot enough to sizzle a piece of garlic, add the garlic and ginger and stir gently until fragrant, 10 to 15 seconds, adjusting the heat so they sizzle gently without browning. Add the sugar mixture, stir to blend, then raise the heat to bring the mixture to a bubbly simmer, stirring.

Reduce the heat to medium-low; stir the cornstarch and water to recombine it and add it to the pan. Stir until the mixture thickens and becomes glossy, about 20 seconds. Turn off the heat and cover the pot to keep the sauce warm until ready to serve. The sauce can be made ahead, stored in the refrigerator and then reheated.

Makes ½ cup

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Steak & Ale: Hawaiian Chicken


For some reason, I was reminiscing about restaurants that are no longer with us.  That have gone the way of the dinosaurs.  Some I don't really miss, but some make me sad.  Like Steak and Ale.  Going to Steak and Ale was a super big treat when I was kid because even though it was actually pretty reasonably priced, it was still a steakhouse, and my parents still had three children to feed.  I loved going to the salad bar and loading up my plate, but I also loved ordering chicken.  Yes, I know, I seem to have a problem with ordering chicken at steakhouses (hello, Alice Springs Chicken!).  At Steak and Ale, the chicken to have was the Hawaiian Chicken, a grilled marinated chicken breast topped with a grilled slice of pineapple.  Somehow in my wandering down memory lane, just somehow, I happened to stumble across a website where someone had the originally Steak and Ale kitchen cookbook and spilled the beans on the recipe.  So this is the real deal chicken, and I can vouch that it tastes just as good as I remember.  Serve it was some rice pilaf, and you've got a trip down memory lane.

Hawaiian Chicken
From Steak and Ale restaurant, as seen on Red Dirt Chronicles

½ cup soy sauce
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons dry sherry
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon granulated garlic
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1¾ cups Dole pineapple juice
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 pineapple slices

Combine the soy sauce, sherry, sugar, garlic, vinegar, and pineapple juice in a bowl and stir until the sugar dissolves.  Pour the marinade into a gallon-size zip-top bag.  Cut the chicken breasts in half widthwise (knife parallel to the cutting board).  Drop the chicken breasts into the marinade and seal the bag.  Marinate the chicken for 36 hours, turning every ½ day.

Grill both chicken and pineapple and serve over rice pilaf (with green and red peppers and almond slices).

Other ideas with this marinade:
Instead of the pineapple, if you top the chicken with a slice of Provolone, shredded Colby cheese, diced tomatoes, and green onions, you have the Steak and Ale Southwest Chicken.

If you soak a 7-ounce center-cut sirloin in the marinade and grill it, you have the Steak and Ale Kensington Club steak.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Wolfgang Puck: Truffled Chicken Pot Pie


In a follow up to my fantastic ribeye, I have also located the most delicious chicken pot pie recipe ever.  The picture doesn't really do it justice, but this is the pot pie that Wolfgang Puck serves all the fancy people after the Oscars each year.  I can honestly say that it's probably good I'm not one of those people, because I'd probably be about 500 pounds if this is the kind of food they're served on a regular basis.  The filling is so rich and creamy, the puff pastry so buttery and crisp...  It's perfect, really.  And don't forget the truffle.  It adds that perfect last touch of decadence.

Note:  I actually located a fresh truffle at my local foodie paradise, which I proceeded to grate over the four pies.  You don't need a ton, or it will overpower the dish.  I used a microplane to grate it, but you could also cut super-thin slices if you happen to have a truffle shaver.

Truffled Chicken Pot Pie
Adapted from Wolfgang Puck

7 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 carrots, peeled and cut into coins
2 large ribs celery, cut into ¼-inch slices
2 to 3 leeks, white and light green parts only, cut in half and then cut into ¼-inch slices
6 ounces mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
⅓ cup frozen petite peas
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 breasts from a rotisserie chicken, skin removed and meat cut into bite-sized pieces
1 black truffle (optional)
Approximately ½ pound frozen puff pastry, defrosted following package instructions
1 large egg

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large sauté pan.  Add the carrots, celery, leeks, and mushrooms, and cook until the mushrooms give up their liquid and the celery and carrots begin to soften.  Add the garlic and saute for another minute.  Add the peas and cook for another minute.  Spoon the cooked vegetables into a bowl and set aside.

Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in a large, tall saucepan. Add the flour and whisk to ensure there are no lumps.  Cook the flour until the mixture turns light brown. Add the chicken stock, a little at a time, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Cook out this mixture for 5 to 10 minutes while continuously stirring as it thickens. Check the consistency by dipping the back of a spoon into the sauce and running your finger along the spoon. You want the sauce to cling to the spoon and not run over the swipe you made.

Continue to cook and stir the sauce over medium heat until you reach the correct consistency. Season with the salt, pepper, and cayenne (if using). Taste the sauce and see if your sauce needs more seasoning. Next, add the cream and stir to combine. Then, add the chicken and the cooked vegetables to the sauce. Cook this mixture for another two to three minutes and then spoon it into four pot pie dishes.  Finely grate the truffle evenly over the mixture in each dish.  Set aside.

Roll out the puff pastry, using a bit of extra flour to ensure the pastry doesn’t stick to your work surface. Use a bowl or plate about an inch larger than the dishes you are cooking your pot pies in as a guide to cut out your pastry.

Break the egg in a small dish and add a tablespoon of water or cream. Whisk with a fork and brush this egg wash on the rim and edges of each pot pie dish. Lay your pastry circles over the top of each dish, being careful not to stretch the pastry. Seal the edges of the pastry by lightly pushing it onto the rim of each dish to make sure it is secure. Then brush the top and sides with more egg wash. Place your pot pies on a large baking sheet and bake for 25 to 35 minutes. Bake until your pastry is a nice golden, dark brown and there are no more grayish raw patches.

Let cool for five minutes before serving.

Makes 4 pot pies