Friday, December 28, 2007

French Onion Baked Potato

French Onion Baked Potato. It's not pretty, being somewhat bland in color, but I literally moaned when I bit into it.

You will need (per potato)
1 large potato
1 sweet onion
Malbec wine
summer savory
a bay leaf
salt and pepper
beef broth (I used some leftover homemade beef stock in which had earlier cooked a garlic studded roast beast, but canned will work)
extra virgin olive oil

To Start: Rub your scrubbed and clean potato with olive oil. I use one that is made of olives that taste like butter, from Artesano's in Indianapolis.

After your potato is oiled, poke a few holes in it so it doesn't blow up in your oven, resulting in potato residue on your clothing that will likely get you secondary screening by Security Canine Barkley. Then place directly on the rack of a 400 degree F. oven and set the timer for 60 minutes.

Next, get one sweet onion, fairly large but not a Jabba the Hut sized one, and chop it into fairly thin slivers or pieces. .

SNIFF. No, it wasn't the onions I was thinking about my last grouping before bow season.

The onions, when chopped, will look to be almost the same mass as the potato, but they cook down quite a bit.

Put the onions in a pan with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil and a couple pinches of salt (which help caramelize it) and cook on low/medium heat. Stir every few minutes, for at least 30 minutes. The onions should be VERY soft and caramelized, starting to turn golden. In the last five minutes raise the heat to medium, and cook until very light golden brown, stirring constantly, if needed. You want soft, not crunchy onions, so watch they don't burn, adding a teaspoon more olive oil as needed.

Remove the onions, putting them in a little saucepan and keep warm. Do not rinse fry pan. Remove it from heat, let cool a minute and then put in a healthy splash of Malbec wine (if you don't have a dry red wine, a splash of Chardonnay and Vermouth would work.)

With the wine in the pan, stir up the little bits of onion left with a spatula. Return to low heat and add 1/3 to 1/2 cup beef broth. Add a heaping half teaspoon of Summer Savory (if you can't find, use thyme), a bay leaf, 1/4 heaping teaspoon fresh ground pepper and a dash of salt. Simmer on low to medium low until reduced to 1/4 cup of liquid (by the time the potato is done, it should be ready).

While this simmers, shred just shy of a half cup of Gruyere cheese and also cut 4 thin slices (about an inch by 4 inches) of cheese for the top of the potato. Add the shredded cheese to the onion mixture. Reserve the strips. I used a really good quality Swiss Gruyere.

At an hour, remove potato from oven and turn oven to broil, positioning the top rack two rungs down. Cut off a thin wedge off the top of the potato and then scoop the potato flesh out of the potato as well as the little bit of flesh from the top piece, which you won't need. Mix the potato flesh with the broth over low heat (bay leaf removed and any extra broth removed with a spoon if you think after simmering it's more than 1/4 cup). Add onion mixture to wine infused broth and potato mixture. Mix with a spoon until combined and creamy with the cheese starting to melt. You can add additional salt and pepper to taste (I didn't think it needed it). Spoon the mixture back into the potato carefully. It will be more than the potato will hold, so you end up with a nice little Mt. McKinley of potato goodness on the top.

That potato summit then will be conquered by the strips of cheese which you will lay across the top of the potato in a small baking dish. Place the dish in the oven under the broiler and broil the potato until the cheese is melted and starting to brown (watch carefully, better light gold than burnt). Top with a sprig of fresh thyme and serve with a green salad.

Try not to make those little noises when you eat it. It makes the neighbors wonder.

click to enlarge


Monday, December 24, 2007

Pavlova - A Perfect Summer Dessert

This recipe may be doubled to make an 18 inch dessert, cooking time remaining pretty much the same.

4 egg white (room temperature)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon vinegar
2 teaspoons corn starch
15 fluid ounces whipped cream, whipped
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
soft fruit.

Mark a 9 or 18 inch (if doubling) circle on a large sheet of parchment paper.

Place on a baking sheet.

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. F.

When preparing a Pavlova recipe, the most important thing is to have scrupulously clean utensils, free of grease or egg shell. The success of the meringue depends on it. It is also important that the egg whites are at room temperature before beating them.

Whisk  egg whites til shiny.

Continuously whisk in sugar, a Tablespoon at a time, until glossy and thick.

Carefully fold in the vanilla, vinegar and corn starch.

Spoon mixture inside the circle and make well in center.  Bake one hour, and when cool carefully transfer to serving platter.  Top with whipped cream to which you've added the vanilla pod seeds and fruit.

If the room is fairly cool, open the oven door, after turning the heat off, letting the shell cool a little more gradually, removing  from the oven when cool.  Cracks will form either way, and are not noticeable with the whipped cream.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Pretzel Rolls

Common in Chicago, Pretzel Rolls are buns for sandwiches, hot dogs or hamburgers, borrowing their name for that famous Bavarian Creation.  The chewy, slightly salted surface and soft interior is something unique.

They're a little bit of time to make, but once you've had them, plain bread for ham and cheese sandwiches, bratwurst or burgers is going to seem rather boring. They're wonderful freshly made, heated on a griddle or cold with lunch meats, but do freeze well, thawing quickly.

Pretzel Rolls

1 3/4 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 and a generous 3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups King Arthur's bread flour
3/4 teaspoon plus one pinch salt (just slightly less than 1 full teaspoon)
Coarse salt for sprinkling

Water Bath
7-8 cups water
1 tablespoon salt
4 tablespoons baking soda

Warm the milk to 110 degrees. F.  (bathwater warm). Do NOT scald. Stir in the yeast.  Remove from heat and let the mixture stand until it starts to foam (means the yeast is working) 5-8 minutes. Add in the olive oil, stir, and add three cups of the flour and the salt.

Kneed the dough in a big clean bowl with a dough hook for 5 minutes, adding the additional 1/2 cup flour as needed.  It should remain a bit tacky, but clean the sides of the bowl.  Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface and kneed lightly by hand until the dough is smooth and elastic (another minute).

Place the dough in a well oiled bowl and turn it over so that both sides are oiled. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rise where it's neither cold or drafty (an oven is idea) until it's double in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on how cold it is in the work area. 

If the bread is in the oven, remove and preheat it to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Punch the dough down and  drop it on down to a clean floured surface, dividing into 8 pieces. Form each piece of dough into a ball, slightly flattened. Place the dough balls on the lined baking pan, cover and allow to rise for an additional 20 minutes.

While the buns rise, prepare a water bath.  Not for you, for the buns.  It's not hard. and if you've made bagels you've already done this before.  In a large, deep cooking pot, bring water, salt and baking soda to a rolling boil.  The dough at this point is a little sticky, so put a little flour on clean hands to help in handling them. Gently drop the buns (I use a large slotted spoon so not to splash) into the boiling water, a couple at a time, and let them boil for about half a minute on each side.  Remove with a slotted spoon and place on the lined baking pan.  Using a serrated bread knife, cut a couple lines across each bun and sprinkle with course salt.  When all the buns are "poached" and on the pan, bake for 25-30 minutes until the buns are a deep brown color.  Cool on a wire rack.

You may never eat a regular hamburger bun again.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

Adapted from a recipe in Cooks Illustrated.

Serves 6 generously

1 cup milk (I used skim).
1 cup mayo (don't skimp here, use the leaded stuff)
1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/2 pound salad macaroni (1/2 of most boxes)
1/4 cup plus 1/2 teaspoon Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar
2 generous Tablespoons grated onion
1 carrot peeled and finely diced
1 small celery rib, chopped

Make the dressing by whisking 3/4 cup of the milk with 3/4 cup of the mayo, the pepper and brown sugar.  Set aside.  Cook the macaroni in salted water for 15 minutes, no more, no less.  Drain and toss with the Apple Cider Vinegar in a large bowl.  Let cool 10 minutes, and then add the dressing.  Just before serving, chop the veggies (or have them set aside and ready) and stir in with another 1/4 cup mayo and 1/4 cup milk and a generous dash or two of salt.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Baked Peaches with Maple Bacon Crumble

Recipe and photo (c) Home on the Range

Baked Peaches with Maple Bacon Crumble.

This recipe serves two, but easily doubles.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Spray 8 ounce oven-safe ramekins with non stick spray.

Drain one 15 ounce can of  "packed in fruit juice" peaches (or use fresh/frozen fruit) and toss with 1 Tablespoon of sugar and 1 Tablespoon of flour.

Divide into the two ramekins.  In a small bowl mix -

4 Tablespoons steel cut oats (not quick cooking oatmeal)
1 Tablespoon flour
3 shakes of Vietnamese Cinnamon (about 1/8 teaspoon)
1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup
2 Tablespoons of brown sugar
1 slice of smoked bacon, cooked and chopped fine
3 and 1/2 teaspoons of salted butter - melted

Mix and sprinkle over fruit.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, until bubbling and golden brown.  Let cool two minutes (it will be VERY hot),  then top with a couple big spoonfuls of vanilla ice cream.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Cheddar Garlic Biscuits

2 and 1/2 cups White Lily® Enriched Bleached Self-Rising Flour (10 ounces)
1/4 cup lard
3/4 cup milk
a generous 3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Place flour in bowl and cut in lard with pastry blender or two knives until the fat is the size of very small peas.

Stir in the milk and the cheese, stirring just until the dough leaves the side of the bowl and is holding together. The mixture should be slightly sticky but not "wet". If it is wet, add a Tablespoon of flour, if too dry, another Tablespoon of milk. Weighing the flour really helps get the proportions just right.

Drop by a big tablespoon until a baking sheet sprayed with non stick spray.

While they bake, mix in  a microwave safe cup in microwave -
1/3 cup unsalted butter
3/4  teaspoon garlic powder
a pinch of Penzey's Tuscan Sunset or your favorite blended Italian seasoning

Nuke 15-20 seconds, until the butter is melted and stir.  In a separate dish measure out 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of dried parsley.

Brush butter mixture over biscuits as they come out of the oven.

Sprinkle with  parsley and serve warm.

Makes 10-12 biscuits

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Blueberry Tart with Almond Streusal Topping

1 1/2 cups flour (with extra for dusting the work surface)
1/2 cup sugar
1 and 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
yolk of one large egg
3 tablespoons of cold heavy whipping cream

In a mixture or food processor, mix flour, sugar and butter until mixture looks like sand.  Add in egg yolk and cream and mix gently JUST until a dough forms.  Shape ino a thick disk, wrap in cling wrap and stick in fridge for an hour.

On lightly floured clean surface, roll out dough to about 1/4 inch thick and about a 11 inch round.  Wrapping it loosely around your rolling pin, transfer to a 9 inch non stick tart pan.  Trim edges and freeze for half an hour.

Preheat oven to 320 degrees F. Remove tart pan from freezer and line with foil (or parchment paper) and place some dried beans (to act as weights) on top and bake until the crust is dry and just barely golden (about 15 minutes).  Remove foil/paper and beans and bake until it's  golden (not brown) but cooked through (about 10 minutes, it will bake further with filling so you don't want the edges turning brown).

Streusel Topping

1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup finely diced almonds
1/4 cup unsalted butter melted
1 tsp ground cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
drop of Mexican vanilla
1/4 tsp salt

Mix with a fork until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Blueberry Filling

3 cups fresh blueberries
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp tapioca
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest

Increase oven temp to 350 F.  Mix all ingredients just until combined and distribute evenly in the cooked tart crust. Sprinkle with streusal topping and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the streusal is browned and the juices are bubbling up.

Bacon Quiche with Hash Brown Crust

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Hashbrown crust -

3 1/2 cups shredded potato (can use  thawed hash browns) moisture removed (use a salad spinner or blot with paper towels).
a few grinds of pepper
a shake or two of sea salt
1/2 cup stick butter melted.

Mix and pat in a large pie pan and bake at 450 F for 22-25 minutes until edges are browning up.   Remove and lower oven temp to 325. (if you want the bottom a little crispier, put some foil gently around the edges and cook an additional two minutes).

Cook 8 pieces of bacon, drain,

Chop and toss with 1/2 teaspoon pure maple syrup.

Mix in large bowl:

the bacon
1 and 1/2 cup slightly steamed broccoli
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/8 teaspoon of  smoky hot sauce (I strongly recomment  the "Singing Smoke" sauce from Scoville Brothers 

In small bowl mix:

4 eggs whisked
1 cup half and half. 

Pour over veggies/bacon.

In a cereal bowl toss:

1 cup of  Italian  blend cheese (Asiago, Romano, Mozzerella, Parmasan)
1 Tablespoon of flour.

Gently stir into quiche filling in the large bowl.

Gently ladle into crust and cook in 325 degree oven for 50-55 minutes, until a knife inserted into center comes out clean.  Let rest 10 minutes and serve.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Angel Food Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups Castor sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cake flour, sifted
  • 12 egg whites at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla paste (on line or find at Trader Joe's)
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

  • Preheat oven to 325F.
    If you can't find Castor (super fine sugar) put regular sugar in the food processor and pulse on and off for a minute or two (no more).
    In a small bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup sugar and the cake flour. Put that aside for after you beat the egg whites. In another small bowl, put the rest of the sugar in another little bowl and have it handy near your mixer.
    You will  have one bowl that is JUST sugar, and one that is flour/sugar, do NOT mix them up.
    In a clean metal bowl, beat egg whites on medium low until frothy, the add cream of tartar and salt.  (plastic bowls can retain some oil on their surface, which inhibits the eggs beating nicely, so if using one, clean in super hot water with lots of soap first).

    Beat until fully incorporated then begin to add the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar, 1-2 tablespoons at a time. When sugar has been added, beat egg whites on medium speed to soft peaks.  Soft peeks look like gentle waves and as you lift the beaters up from the eggs they will gently fall down. If your batter drops like ribbons, it needs a bit more time but you want to stop before you have stiff (think hair gel) peaks, so stop and check it every 15-20 seconds. Soft peaks should take 2-3 minutes.
    With the mixer still at medium speed, beat in half the sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, until all the sugar is added and the whites are shiny and form soft peaks, another 2  to 2 and a half minutes. Add the vanilla paste, lemon juice and almond extract and beat on high for 30 seconds.

    Resift the flour/sugar mixture that you put aside and spoon it over the egg whites, about 3 tablespoons at a time, folding in gently with a large spatula.

    Gently scrape batter into an ungreased tube pan with a removable bottom, smooth top with spatula, and give the pan a couple of gentle raps on the counter to release any large air bubbles in the batter. (if yours does not have removable bottom, line with parchment paper, do NOT grease).

    Bake on lower-middle rack at 325 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes, until cake is golden brown and top springs back when pressed firmly.

    After removing from oven, invert tube of pan over neck of bottle (or two stacked wire cookie cooling racks) so air can circulate all around it. Cool 2 to 3 hours.

    Gently run a thin knife around the sides, then around the bottom of the pan to release the cake when you are ready to serve it.
    Serve with fresh fruit or lemon curd or cube and serve with ice cream, strawberries and a drizzle of honey in a champagne class.

    World's Fluffiest Pancakes

    Take 3/4 cup milk and egg out of fridge and let sit until about room temperature (15 minutes minimum, 30 is even better, go walk the dog, brew some coffee)

    Then, mix ix in a small cereal bowl:

    The room temperature 3/4 cup milk
    2 Tablespoons lemon juice

    While that sits for 10 minutes, mix up the flour in a medium bowl and set aside:

    flour mixture:

    1 cup all purpose flour (use spoon to carefully drop flour in cup, don't shake, then level with knife)
    2 Tablespoons sugar
    1 tsp baking powder (check date, make sure it's not expired)
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt

    After the 10  minutes is up for the milk mixture, whisk the egg into it well, then add 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla and 2 Tablespoons melted butter (nuke in a cup in the microwave for about 20 sec.), whisking well as the butter is added.

    Immediately dump the milk mixture into the center of the flour mixture and stir JUST until combined, about 10-12 gentle stirs, scraping up along the bottom to get all the flour.  It will  quickly bubble up as you stir and look almost puffy/spongy. DO NOT mix further, this is what makes them so tall and light. Bubbles are good! Batter that looks like "the Blob" is good.  The magic of kitchen chemistry. 
     click on photos to enlarge

    Let the batter then  sit about 15 minutes (don't stir again), then cook quickly on a oiled grill, handling the batter as little as possible (I used a 1/4 cup measure to carefully withdraw batter to pour on the grill). The batter is a lot thicker looking than you're likely used to and doesn't make a perfect round , but as it cooks it will spread out some.  The batter does thin on handling but do as little of that as you can.
    Infused with vanilla and butter, they cooked up tasty, tender, light and well. . . fluffy!  (makes about 8  medium pancakes)

    Guinness Molasses Cake

    Richer than gingerbread, more dense than regular cake, it's perfect with a soft whipped cream frosting, not too sweet, intensely satisfying.

    Grease an 8 x 8 inch glass pan.

    Set aside in cereal bowl -

    All Purpose Flour - 2 cups

    In small saucepan on low, heat the following until the sugar is dissolved and the butter is melted, then set aside to cool:

    Sugar - 1/2 cup plus 1 and 1/2 teaspoons
    Butter - 1/3 cup
    Molasses (extra dark full flavored) -1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons

    While molasses cools, mix together in cereal bowl and let set 5 minutes (it foams up so use a larger bowl)

    Guinness  - 1 cup
    Baking Soda - 1 tsp (check your expiration date for maximum rise)

    Stir into cooling molasses mixture:

    Cinnamon - 1 tsp
    ginger - 1 tsp.
    salt - 1/4 tsp
    finely ground coffee - 2 generous teaspoons (regular coffee, just whirred a bit more in a blender)

    In a large bowl whisk:

    Egg - 1 Extra large (use an egg that's at room temperature)
    Vanilla - 1 tsp.

    In a very slow and small stream, stopping to whisk, pour molasses mixture into egg mixture, whisking constantly and vigorously so egg does not cook. Add in Guinness mixture and blend.

    Add flour, a bit at the time, continuing to whisk constantly until the mixture is smooth and just starting to look a bit shiny (3-5 minutes by hand)

    Bake at 350 F for 38-42 minutes (toothpick in center should come out clean).

    Cool 20 minutes and frost with the following:

    1 1/2 cups heavy or whipping cream
    1 and 3/4 teaspoons granulated sugar
    1 and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Chill the bowl and beaters in the refrigerator for 30 minutes while the bake bakes. Pour the heavy cream into the bowl and whisk on medium-high speed until it just starts to thicken. Reduce speed to medium and slowly pour in the sugar, whisking until soft peaks form.  Continue to whisk until soft peaks form. (4-5 minutes with a chilled bowl)

    Add the vanilla extract and continue to whisk by hand until the cream is smooth, and stiff peaks form
    Sprinkle on some espresso sugar or serve as is. Best fresh, but will keep refrigerated.

    Wednesday, November 14, 2007

    Bacon! - Mom's Baked Beans Made Even Better

    1 large (28 ounce) and 1 medium sized can Bush's regular baked beans  or 3  -15 ounce cans pork and beans  
    1 large onion, chopped
    1 green pepper, chopped
    1  and 1/2 teaspoons chopped minced garlic
    1/3 cup packed brown sugar
    2/3 cup pineapple tidbits, all juice drained
    3 Tablespoons A-1 Steak Sauce
    1 Tablespoon course spicy mustard
    1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
    1 teaspoon ancho chili powder (smoke without a lot of heat)
    1 package smoked kielbasa, cut into bite-sized pieces
    1/2 package smoked  high quality bacon

    3/4 cup tomato sauce
    2 Tablespoons molasses
    2 Tablespoons honey
    2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar (Use Braggs, it's worth the effort to find in  the health food section)

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain the liquid off the top of the cans of beans (you want just enough where they are  dripping wet but not enough that they are sitting in a little lake of sauce). Place in a big bowl and mix with onion, green pepper  pineapple, brown sugar, steak sauce,  red pepper and ancho chili  pepper,  mustard, and kielbasa in a large bowl. If you don't have ancho use a dash (or to taste) of your favorite smokey hot sauce like mine, Scoville Brothers Singing Smoke).

    Mix tomato sauce, molasses, honey and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl.

     Pour mixture into a non-stick sprayed 9×13 baking dish then lay bacon strips across the top. Spread tomato sauce mixture on top of the bacon and  bake for an hour and 30 minutes or until the top is deeply caramelized. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

    These beans are perfect for serving over cornbread (baked or pan fried) or corn waffles with hot sauce on the side and a tall frosty beverage.

    Sunday, November 11, 2007

    Blue Cornbread

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

    In a medium bowl mix:

    3/4 cup milk plus 2 Tablespoons milk
    1 teaspoon Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar (or lemon juice)

    Let sit while you mix the following in a large bowl

    1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons flour
    3/4  plus 2 Tablespoons blue cornmeal
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/4 1/8 teaspoon Baking Powder (there is usually not a 1/8 measure, use the 1/4 and fill it up halfway).
    1/4 t. plus 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 t. plus 1/8 teaspoon salt
    two small shakes or a pinch of cayenne (red) pepper

    To milk mixture whisk in

    1/4 cup vegetable oil
    2 heaping tablespoons sour cream
    2 eggs (if using extra large or jumbo, use just 1)

    Add wet and dry ingredients (yes, it's going to look like you're making gravel)

    Fold in 3/4 cup fresh or roasted corn kernels. (now it looks like gravel with corn in it, yummmm)

    Bake in greased 8 x 8 pan for 28-34 minutes. It's hard to tell doneness by the color as only the edges golden up, so use a toothpick inserted into center to tell if it's done.

    Serve with butter and maple syrup or molasses. By itself or with a couple of eggs and venison sausage, this makes a dandy breakfast.

    Thursday, November 1, 2007

    Sour Cream Pancakes

    Sour Cream Pancakes

    In a bowl mix 3/4 cup milk and 2 Tablespoons lemon juice.  Let sit 10 minutes

    In a larger bowl mix
    1 cup flour
    2 tablespoons sugar
    1  teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    pinch of cardamon (or nutmeg).

    After the 10 minutes is up, whisk into soured milk mixture until smooth:
    1 large egg (at room temperature)
    1/3 cup sour cream
    1 tsp. Mexican vanilla
    2 tablespoons melted butter

    Combine wet and dry ingredients  mixing ONLY until flour is incorporated (mixture will have small lumps).  Bake on hot oiled griddle until golden brown.

    Homemade Syrup

    Better than store bought and seriously cheaper than pure maple syrup.

    • 1 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1 cup white sugar
    •  1 cup cup water
    • 1 Tablespoon butter
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
    •  a pinch of sea salt
    Bring sugars and water to a boil, cook and stir for two minutes. Once the sugar is dissolved, stir in butter, 1 teaspoon of no alcohol vanilla extract or maple extract and a pinch of salt.

    Tuesday, October 30, 2007

    Cream Puffs

    mmmmm Cream puffs. Basically a crisp hollow round of tender choux pastry, split in half and filled with a filling. "Choux" in French means cabbage and the pastries, before cutting, do look a bit like a cabbage so perhaps that's where the name came from. A lot of recipes call for a thick, sugary cream filling, usually made with boxed pudding. Not these. The pastry has the barest hint of vanilla sugar, and the filling is very light and not overly sweet, also with a decided undertone of vanilla. For these are filled with cream that's been seeped with a dismantled vanilla bean and then whipped until light and soft and creamy with an extra dab of vanilla sugar. Jello pudding's for kids.
    I'm a HOTR Cream Puff

    Preheat oven to 400F (205 C)
    1/2 cup (70 grams) all purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla sugar (I used Penzeys)
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    4 Tablespoons (57 grams) unsalted butter
    1/2 cup (120 ml) water
    2 extra large eggs, lightly beaten

    In a bowl, mix the vanilla sugar, flour and salt and set aside. Bring water and butter to a boil on the stove over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat source and add the flour mixture all at once, stirring briskly with a wooden spoon. Return pan to the heat source and stir vigorously for about two minutes, until the dough forms a smooth ball that pulls away from the side of the pan. Remove from the heat source and stir vigorously another minute to release the steam from the dough.

    Let cool to lukewarm and then add eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly with a wooden spoon after each egg, until it is incorporated into the dough and is quite smooth (this takes a while, be patient).

    In a small dish, beat a small egg with a good pinch of salt (is your arm tired yet?) to make a glaze for the puff if you wish.

    Using an ice cream scoop or other small measure, spoon cream puff mixture onto a buttered baking sheet(use real butter, not cooking spray). It should make about 12 small puffs (and yes you can do large ones but you will have to adjust your second stage cook time and let them dry in the oven after the heat is off for 15 minutes.

    Gently brush dough with just a small bit of the egg glaze (optional).

    Bake at 400 (205 C.) degrees for 15 minutes and then reduce heat to 350 F (177 C.). The initial high temperature will set the structure of the puff by allowing it to rise quickly. Bake for an additional 30 to 40 minutes (40 if you're making larger ones) or until the shells are a nice golden color. Take out a test puff and cut in half before turning the heat off. The inside should be dry. If it's wet, the puff will deflate when it cools. If they're done turn the oven off and, with the oven door ajar, let the shells dry out for a further 8-12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.

    Vanilla bean whipped cream:

    2 cups heavy cream
    1 vanilla bean
    3 Tablespoons plus two teaspoons white granulated sugar
    1 teaspoon Penzey's Vanilla sugar

    Chill the bowl and whisk attachment of an electric mixer. You can do this by placing in the refrigerator or in a room with your ex wife. Both would probably work.

    Pour the cream in a medium sized bowl. Cut vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape seeds into cream. Add remains of bean to cream and whisk to incorporate. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour. Strain cream mixture through a fine mesh sieve into the chilled bowl of your electric mixer, then beat with the chilled whisk attachment at medium speed for 1 minute.

    With the mixer running, slowly sprinkle in sugar. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form. May be refrigerated for an hour or two before filling puffs (I used a pastry bag but a spoon will work).

    Cream puffs will keep for two days in fridge or can be frozen for up to three weeks.

    Wednesday, October 24, 2007

    Spicy Italian Frittata

    If you have eggs and a cast iron skillet, you can make a frittata (pronounced "fri-taaa-taa") and it's a lot easier, for me anyway, than an omelet. This one is spicy, great paired with a salad and bread for a meal or just a hearty breakfast with friends.

    If you like Italian food, especially pizza, you will like this Frittata.

    • 12 large eggs
    • 4 tablespoons heavy cream
    • 2 cups shredded Italian style cheese blend
    • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
    • 1 and 1/2  teaspoons salt
    • 1 teaspoon fresh gound pepper
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 1 medium sweet onion, roughly chopped
    • 4 cloves garlic,roasted and  finely chopped
    • 3-4 small red potatoes, cut into big chunks
    • 1/4 cup oil packed chopped sun dried tomatoes - drained
    • 1/4 cup chopped pepperoncini salad peppers, drained
    • about 3/4 of a 3.5 ounce package pepperoni, chopped
    • 1 heaping teaspoon Italian seasoning
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or 1/2 tsp dried.
    • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (if you want it milder, just a pinch will work)
    Heat oven to 300 degrees, have a rack in place so that you can broil the frittata briefly when cooked.

    Whisk eggs, cream, 1 cup of the cheese Italian style cheese, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning in a bowl and set aside. Heat oil in a large, cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add onion and garlic and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 4 minutes.

    Add potato and cook, stirring occasionally, until edges become tender, about 4 minutes. Add drained Pepperoncini salad peppers and drained dried tomatoes and cook another 5 -6 minutes, until softened.  Add pepperoni, chopped basil and cayenne pepper, stirring to incorporate and making sure veggie mixture is distributed evenly across bottom of pan, stirring frequently so potatoes and garlic don't burn.

    Lower the heat in the pan just slightly (a bit less than medium high) so that the eggs don't cook TOO quickly when they are added. (This is especially important if you have an old gas stove. You may even want to take the pan totally off the heat for a couple of minutes.) Pour the egg mixture over the vegetable mixture, tilting the pan to make sure the mixture covers the veggies evenly and reduce heat to medium. Cook until eggs are set around the outer inch of the pan, about 10 minutes Sprinkle remaining 1 cup Italian cheese evenly over the frittata and bake at 300F for 20 minutes, until the middle is fairly solid (To tell if it's close to done, cut a small slit in the center, if egg runs into it, give it another minute or two.)  Sprinkle with Parmesan and  place under the broiler until the cheese is browning up and the frittata is puffy, about 2 minutes.  Serve with toasted Rustic Italian bread.

    Stay warm! - Brigid

    Tuesday, October 23, 2007

    Scandahoovian Double Berry Streusal Bars

    2½ cups all-purpose flour
    2/3 cup granulated sugar
    ½ teaspoon table salt
    16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks) plus 2 tablespoons, cut into ½-inch pieces and softened to cool room temperature (keep the two tablespoons separate)
    ¼ cup packed brown sugar  light or dark

    a drop of good quality vanilla extract
    ½ cup rolled oats  old-fashioned, not the quick cooking packets
    ½ cup almonds, chopped fine

    1/16 teaspoon of Cardamon (or nutmeg if you just can't find Cardamon)
    1  1/4 cup lingonberry or marionberry preserves
    3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cup fresh raspberries (about 4 ounces)
    4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice 

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut two pieces of foil  to fit down into the pan, draping over the sides to make a sling (in order to lift out the bars later) in a 9x13 inch baking pan. Spray lined pan with cooking spray.

    Cookie Base:  Mix flour, granulated sugar, and salt in a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on low speed until combined. With machine still on low, add the two sticks of butter, one tablespoon at a time, plus a drop of vanilla, until the mixture looks like damp sand.

    Set aside 1 1/4 cups of the mixture in a medium bowl. Pour the remaining dough into the baking pan and with clean, dry hands, press gently and evenly to form a crust.  Bake in preheated oven until the edges are brown (about 18 minutes).

    Filling and Streusal Topping:  Add the brown sugar, oats,spice and nuts to the flour mixture set aside in medium bowl and stir to combine. Add in the separate 2 tablespoons of butter until fully incorporated into the mixture. Work with your hands to create clumps about the size of tiny peas (or small ball bearing for you non-Scandahoovian types).

    Place the preserves, raspberries and lemon juice in a small bowl. Mash together with a fork, making sure some berry pieces remain intact.

    When the crust is done baking,  remove from the oven and spread the berry filling over it and then sprinkle the streusel on top of that. Put pan immediately  back in the oven and bake for another 22 to 25 minutes, or until top is gold and bubbly. Cool in pan to room temperature, then lift bars out with the foil sling and cut in squares.

    Yields 24 bars  - they'll keep in an airtight container for 3 days but they rarely last that long with a family around

    Pop Tarts for Grown Ups.

    Makes six  pastries.

    1 sheet of Puff Pastry thawed in it's wrapper
    4 ounces cream cheese (one half of a block).
    1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    3 pinches of cinnamon (a bit shy of 1/8 teaspoon)
    pinch of Cardamon
    3 tablespoons sugar.
    2/3 cup whole boysenberries (fresh or frozen)
    1/3  cup boysenberry jelly
    1 small egg mixed with 2 and a half teaspoons water.

    Thaw frozen puff pastry sheet in refrigerator overnight.

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

    Before unwrapping pastr , mix cheese, lemon juice, vanilla, sugar and spices in a bowl with a a hand mixer until fluffy.

    In another small bowl mix fruit (if frozen, thaw and drain) and jelly.

    Gently unwrap and roll the puff pastry sheet into a 10 inch square on a lightly powdered cutting board.  If there is any reason the dough will sit for a while after (phone call, dog has to go out, etc) cover immediately with Saran Wrap and a slightly damp towel so it doesn't dry out..

    Transfer  rectangles to parchment paper covered cookie sheet.  With a fork, prick the center of the rectangle just a few times, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the edges untouched (the more "holes" you put in it, the more steam will escape and more crisp and less puffy it will be).  Brush the top of the pastry with beaten egg/water mixture.  Drop  a tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture in the center (don't attempt to spread out, just leave as a dollop) Then gently dot the cream cheese with small teaspoons of the fruit mixture, covering the top of the cream cheese, making sure 1/2 inch border remains bare. 

    Bake for 16 to 18 minutes until puffy and golden brown. Cool slightly and serve immediately.  

    Tuesday, September 25, 2007

    Lasgna Round Up with Pesto Alfredo Sauce

    Lasagna  roll ups with spinch/pesto Alfredo sauce.  It's not at all photogenic but it's incredibly good as a side dish or a main, meat free course.

    You can make the pesto and lasagna bundles ahead and freeze, then just make the sauce before putting it in the oven.

    Lasagna bundles

    1 (15 oz) container Ricotta Cheese
    1 large egg
    1 small handful of Italian Parsley (about 1/3 cup) chopped
    a small pinch of red pepper
    2  and 1/4 cups freshly grated Mozzarella cheese, divided
    3/4 cup freshly, fresh grated Parmesan cheese, divided
    1/3 cup freshly, finely grated asiago cheese
    1/4 tsp salt
    1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

    10-12 uncooked lasagna noodles

    Cook lasagna noodles until al dente (you want firm as they will cook further in the oven) in a large pot of boiling  salted water  that has a small splash of olive oil added to it.   

    When cooked, drain and lay out on waxed paper to cool and dry slightly (any extra noodles can be chopped for soup or stir fry)

    Whisk ricotta, egg, salt and peppers together in a large mixing bowl until combined.  Stir in parsley and cheese until well combined.

    Spread a generous 1/4 cup cheese mixture evenly onto each cooked lasagna noodle, roll up jellyroll style and place on waxed paper while you make the sauce. If you wish to make ahead and freeze, assemble as instructed with sauce,  cover with foil and cook at 400 F. degrees (not 375) for 45 minutes, uncover and cook another 12 - 15 minutes)

    Pesto Alfredo sauce

    2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
    2 Tablespoons olive oil
    2 cloves garlic roasted and minced
    dash of nutmeg
    1 and 3/4 cups heavy cream
    3 Tablespoons cream cheese or cooking creme (if you don't have any, increase heavy cream to 2 cups)
    1/4 heaping teaspoon freshly ground pepper
    1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (if you grate it yourself it's smoother than the pre-grated for some reason)
    2 teaspoons parsley
    1/2 heaping cup mozzarella cheese
    1 recipe homemade pesto, or 3 Tablespoons of store pesto in a jar or one package Knorr Pesto sauce mix (in the seasoning aisle), prepared as directed with oil and water.

    Melt butter and olive oil  in medium sized pan over medium/low heat.

    Add the garlic, cream, and cream cheese, bringing mixture to a simmer, stirring frequently.

    Add the Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, parsley and pesto and simmer sauce for 8-10 minutes or until sauce has thickened and is smooth.

    When sauce has thickened add the Mozzarella cheese and stir constantly until smooth.   If it's too thick add a tablespoon of milk or chicken stock.

    While this cooks (3-5 minutes) quickly saute about 1/3 of a bag of fresh spinach in a pan very lightly brushed with olive oil and a dash of garlic powder until wilted (use only a minimum of oil or a non stick cooking spray, you don't want extra oil).

    Remove Alfredo sauce from heat and add spinach.  Pour a cup into the bottom of a cooking pan.  Place 4-8 lasagna bundles seam side down (I cooked five so there was lots of yummy sauce left). Pour remainder of sauce over lasagna bundles and tent lightly with foil (should not touch sauce).  Bake in preheated 375 F. degree oven for 35 minutes.  Stir sauce around bundles before serving.

    Homemade Pesto (can make up to four days ahead, put just enough EVOO on top to cover and keep from drying out).

    1 cup fresh basil leaves
    1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
    2 garlic cloves
    1/3 cup olive oil (use really good quality oil)
    1 cup grated Parmesan

    Finely chop basil, pine nuts and garlic in a food  processor. With machine running, gradually add olive oil through feed tube and process until smooth. Mix in 1/2 Parmesan. Transfer to a small jar, cover and keep in fridge, drain off excess oil before adding it to alfredo sauce.

    Monday, September 24, 2007

    Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Egg Whites
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 cups Almond Flour
  • 1/2 tsp plus one pinch baking powder (check date, make sure it's fresh)
  •  two dashes of salt
  • 1 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar (I used Braggs, it's definitely the best)
  • 1 and 1/4 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil 
  • 1/8 tsp. of  your favorite baking spice (I used a premade mixture of 2 kinds of cinnamon, anise seed, allspice, mace and cardamon)
  • 1/8 tsp. of grated orange zest
  • 1 Cup Blueberries (I used the large ones, a mixture of large duke, bluecrop and bluejay)
  • Directions:
    Pre-heat oven to 350 F. and spray muffin with with non stick spray.

    Place all ingredients, excluding blueberries, in a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth, stirring occasionally and scraping down the sides between pulses (about 20-30 seconds total)

    Once completely mixed, fold in blueberries which you have first tossed in a teaspoon or so of almond flour so the juice doesn't turn the batter too purple. Sprinkle muffins with a tiny bit of sugar and bake for 25 minutes, just until the edges are barely turning brown.  Cool on a wire rack. Makes 9 large, or 12 medium sized muffins.

    Friday, September 21, 2007

    Maple Bourbon Walnut Pie

    Maple Bourbon Walnut Pie

    1 pie crust -  unbaked

    2  and 1/4 cups walnut halves (chop some of them smaller)
    1 Tablespoon honey
    1 generous teaspoon butter
    nice pinch of cayenne pepper

    melt butter in fry pan on medium, add remaining ingredients and  heat and stir until the nuts are lightly coated and the honey is starting to crystalize a bit.  Remove from heat, let cool slightly and place in unbaked pie shell

    In a medium bowl whisk until light and blended:
    4 extra large eggs
    2 Tablespoons lemon juice
    3/4 cup real maple syrup
    1/2 teaspoon plus 1 pinch Cinnamon
    2 Tablespoons Bourbon
    1/4 teaspoon sea salt
    2 teaspoons Penzey's Mexican vanilla
    1/8 teaspoon orange zest (the thin orange covering of an orange, grated)

    Pour over walnut mixture and bake in 375 degree F oven for 30-32 minutes, until solid in the center.  Cool for 30 minutes and serve with whipped cream

    Tuesday, September 18, 2007

    Grand Marnier Glazed Blueberry Scones


    Preheat oven to 400 F.

    In a cereal bowl mix and let sit 15 minutes:

    1/2 cup wild blueberries (thawed, rinsed and allowed to dry on a paper towel first to keep them from turning your dough blue)
    3 Tablespoons Grand Marnier

    In a large dry bowl mix:

    2 cups (9 ounces) cake flour (less gluten than other flour making for a light scone) (

    tip: weighing your flour makes a huge difference in pastry recipes

    1 Tbsp baking powder

    Tip:  Baking powder is viable for about 2 years, but only when it is kept dry, and at room temperature. Never store your baking powder over the sink (humidity) or the stove (heat).

    3 Tbsp plus 1 teaspoon sugar
    1/2 tsp salt
    5 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, quartered lengthwise, and then diced into 1/2 cubes
    3/4 cup heavy cream
    1 egg
    1 and 1/2  tsp. of vanilla

    With a pastry blender, a couple of knives or your fingers, mix the flour,  3 Tbsp. sugar, baking powder and salt until  until the mixture resembles course meal in a large dry bowl. (you want some remaining oatmeal sized butter bits, that makes them nice and tender).  Add the blueberries, which you have drained, reserving the Grand Marnier)

    In another small bowl whisk:

     egg, vanilla and heavy cream until blended.

    Make a slight well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in cream mixture, mixing the dough by hand just until down the dough is  moist and slightly holding together (it should not look like a ball of dough but should be fairly loose)

    Transfer this mess carefully to a floured cutting board or clean counter top and knead the dough for about 5-10 seconds (flatten it out, then fold it over on itself, about 5-6 times).  This will turn your sticky mess into a workable dough.

    Gently pat out into a 8 inch round, about 1/2 tall, cutting into 8 wedges (do NOT separate) Brush with a teaspoon or two of cream and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of sugar, bake until lightly browned 17-20 minutes.

    While still warm drizzle with

    Grand Marnier Glaze (prepare while they bake)

    add Grand any drained from the blueberries to make  a total of 2 Tablespoons
    Mix with the zest of a small orange, finely chopped, and allow to sit for  a few minutes so the orange peel releases it's oil
    1 tsp of orange juice
    a drop of vanilla
    1 cup confectioners sugar

    Whisk until combined and set aside to frost warmed scones as desired. (If you have any left, use on muffins or quick bread such as banana)

    Serve with butter and some good tea.

    Monday, September 17, 2007

    Crockpot Pork with Hot Bacon Potato Salad

     Golden Pork Steaks

    1 can Campbells golden mushroom soup
    1/2 can water
    1 small or 1/2 large sweet onion sliced thin
    1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
    2 dashes hot pepper sauce (I used Scoville Brothers Heavy Metal Heat)
    1/2  teaspoon Janes Krazy  Mixed Up Salt (a mix of salt and herbs, if you don't have, use a fairly low sodium salt/herb blend as the soup is high in sodium)
    1 heaping teaspoon dried basil
    1 Tablespoon brown sugar
    2 -3 large pork steaks

    Dice onions and place in bottom of crock pot.  Top with meat. Sprinkle with Krazy Salt.  Mix other ingredients in bowl and pour over meat.  Cover and cook on low for 7-8  hours. Also excellent over noodles or rice for an inexpensive meal.

    Hot Potato Salad

    2  pounds red potatoes, quartered
    2 tablespoons olive oil (if roasting potatoes)
    7-8  slices of good quality smoked bacon
    1 clove garlic,
    1/2 sweet onion, minced
    4 Tablespoons Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar (or wine vinegar)

    1 tablespoon grainy mustard
    2 teaspoons honey
    1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
    black pepper to taste

    Parsley and/or  sliced green onion for topping (optional)

    Peel, quarter and boil the potatoes until done but still a little firm (18-20 min). Even easier, don't peel and  roast them skin on at 375 degrees for 25 minutes tossed with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. (potatoes done when knife pierces potato easily).  The boiled potatoes will absorb more of the dressing, but the roasted potatoes have a nice firm bite and texture,  both are excellent.

    While potatoes cook, add the bacon to a fry pan  until just slightly crispy.  Remove from pan and remove some of the drippings if needed (you want at least 1/4 cup remaining)    Add onions, garlic and honey to remaining bacon drippings and cook over low until the onion is soft and golden with  the sugar from the honey starting to caramelize them well  lowering heat and stirring often to prevent garlic from burning.  Remove with slotted spoon and add to bacon. Add vinegar, mustard, and seasoning  to pan drippings and cook over low/medium, whisking well for 2-3 minutes until bubbly.  Add onions and bacon back in, reducing heat to keep warm and toss with boiled or roasted potatoes.

    Serve with pork and green beans.

    Thursday, July 26, 2007

    Cappuccino Brownies

    Slow baked at a low temp for an hour (yes an hour), these brownies have a delicate chocolate flavor with a hint of coffee, a dash of cinnamon and a base of sugar and milk. More cake like than fudgey, and not too sweet, they are still very much a brownie, with the wonderful soothing taste of  one of your favorite coffee drinks.

    I replaced 1/4 cup of the sugar with  Espresso sugar from Artisano's Oils & Spices  in Indianapolis (they ship! and the espresso sugar is also wonderful in gingerbread and molasses cookies).  If you don't have, simply add another 1/4 cup sugar and 1 to 2 Tablespoons of espresso powder to your dry ingredients.

    Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

    Butter a 10 inch square casserole dish (for thick brownies) or a 12 x 15 inch pan (for thinner brownies)

    In a large bowl cream the following with hand held mixer:
    1 stick butter (leave out at room temperature to soften for a bit)
    1 and 2/3 cups sugar
    1/4 cup espresso sugar
    2 teaspoons Mexican vanilla

    Add in four eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.

    In small bowl mix:
    1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
    1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons high quality cocoa (I use Scharffen Berger unsweetened)
    1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
    2 pinches salt (roughly 1/8 teaspoon).

    Add to wet ingredients and mix with a spoon by hand until blended, adding in 1/2 cup (not skim) milk 

    Bake 1 hour (toothpick inserted  in center should come out dry)

    Frost or glaze as desired (pictured, a simple glaze of powdered sugar, cocoa, a couple drops of vanilla, and just enough milk to make a soft glaze).

    Friday, July 20, 2007

    Korean Barbecue Sauce

    Excellent brushed on grilled chicken or beef.

    Makes a little more than a cup.

    1/2 cup ketchup
    1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
    1/4 cup soy sauce
    1 and 1/2 Tablespoons honey
    1 and 1/2 teaspoons gochujant (Korean hot pepper paste, or mix an equal amount of miso paste and chili paste).
    1/4 tsp ground pepper
    1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
    1 and 1/2 teaspoon finely mined onion
    1/2 teaspoon  minced garlic
    1 one inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated (or substitute 1/4 tsp dried ginger).
    1 Tablespoon sesame oil

    sesame seeds (for garnish)

     In a saucepan on medium, heat all ingredients except the sesame oil while whisking until blended.  When the sauce comes to a simmer, turn the heat down a keep at a very low simmer until it thickens (about 15-20 minutes)  Remove from heat and add sesame oil.  Use immediately.  Recipe easily doubles, but it only keeps in the fridge a couple of days.

    Baste on chicken or beef after it is partially cooked.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds when cooked through and serve.

    Tuesday, July 17, 2007

    Chicken Cordon Bleu Pot Pie

    1/3 to 1/2  cup smoked ham or Canadian bacon, cut in fine pieces ( I used a good handful)
    1 and 1/2 cups chopped onion
    1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
    1 and 1/2 cups chopped veggies (I used broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots, use your favorites)
    1 tsp dried thyme
    a sprig of chopped fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried
    1 and 3/4 cups low salt chicken stock or broth
    2 Tablespoons cooking Sherry
    2/3 cup crème fraîche
    2 and 2/3 cups chopped or shredded cooked chicken
    a  pinch of red pepper and two  generous pinches of black
    salt to taste

    Preheat oven to 400 F.

    Saute ham or Canadian Bacon in a bit of bacon grease until the edges are starting to get crisp.  Remove. Saute onion and garlic (adding additional fat if needed)  until tender and golden, about 7 minutes, Add broth, Sherry, thyme and rosemary and bring to low boil over medium/high  heat. Immediately reduce heat to medium and simmer until reduced by half stirring constantly. .Add in vegetables the last couple minutes of cooking if raw, or at the very end if already cooked..

    Remove from heat and stir in crème fraîche, chicken, ham/bacon, red and black pepper and salt to taste. Add an additional tablespoon of broth or crème fraîche to get the consistency you prefer.  You can  also heat it in the pan once the meat is added to serve over baked potatoes instead of baking in a pie crust.  It's still very good.

    Note: crème fraîche can be expensive. To make your own, combine 1 cup whipping cream and 2 tablespoons buttermilk in a glass container. Cover and let stand at room temperature (about 70°F) from 8 to 24 hours, or until very thick. Stir well, then cover and refrigerate  Keeps about 10 days.

    Pastry   - 

    2 1/2 cups flour 1 teaspoon salt3/4 cup cold lard 1/3 cup ice water 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar  Mix the flour and salt in a bowl.

    Add the lard and with a blunt knife, cut the lard into small pieces. With 2 blunt knives or a pastry blender, work the lard into the flour until it forms tiny crumbs.

    In a small bowl, mix the water and vinegar. Sprinkle the water mixture over the flour mixture. Use a rubber spatula to cut the liquid into the dry ingredients until the mixture forms large clumps.
    Turn them out onto a  (lightly) floured board and knead lightly until smooth. Divide dough into the number of pieces you will use (this makes 2  crusts for a 9 inch or several small ramekin size).Shape each peace into a round flat cake size, wrap in Saran Wrap and put in fridge for 30 minutes.

     Roll the dough into desired shape, leaving a 1/2 inch overhang to shape and crimp the edges.   Bake  at 400 degrees F. 30-40 minutes until crust is golden brown and filling is starting to bubble up.

    Cheesy Garlic Bread

    1 small loaf French bread, split or sliced
    1 and 1/2 Tablespoons butter
    4 cloves garlic (minced)
    3/4 cup mayonnaise
    1/3 cup sweet onion, finely diced
    3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese 
    1/3 cup mozzarella
    1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    dash of pepper
    dash of onion salt
    generous teaspoon dried parsley
     3 to 4 Tablespoons cream (enough to make spreadable but still thick)
    Mix everything but the bread,  butter, garlic and onion in a bowl.
    Melt butter in big cast iron skillet, saute garlic and onion until softened and golden.  Remove. Place sliced french bread in pan and heat just until the bottom is a little toasty but not browning.

    Spread cheese mixture on bread and put under the broiler 4-6 minutes until bubbly and the edges are golden brown. 

    Friday, July 13, 2007

    Breakfast Baking - Buttermilk scones

    click to enlarge

    What's left in the fridge is going into some eggs as a scramble.  But what to have with it?  Buttermilk Scones. Thick yet flaky, they aren't too sweet and go well with a number of dishes or just a nice cup of coffee.

    3 cups flour
    1/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon sugar
    1 tsp salt
    1 Tablespoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 and 1/2 half sticks unsalted butter
    1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk, minus one tablespoon which is replaced by 1 Tbsp vinegar and left to sit 10 minutes)

    Preheat oven to 400 F.  Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and cut in the cutter using a pastry cutter, a knife and fork or your fingers until it it is a course meal.  Add buttermilk and still just until combined.

    Transfer dough to a floured board and divide into 2 parts.. Roll each to a round  (OK, I got lazy and mine was sort of oblong) about an inch thick. Cut each piece of dough into rough wedges and place slightly separated on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 15--18 minutes minutes, or until lightly browned. Serve warm with fresh butter.  It was great  with a morning scramble of eggs, cream, jalepenos, caramalized onions and Mexican blend cheese..

    Sour Cream Chicken with Onions and Peppers

    A blend of Hungarian and Tex Mex seasoning was a winner and makes an incredibly juicy chicken.

    Sour Cream Range Chicken

    6-8 pieces of chicken (thighs and legs)
    olive oil
    2 jalapeno peppers, seeds and core removed and finely chopped
    2 heaping teaspoons minced garlic
    3/4 large sweet onion chopped
    a pinch of sugar
    2 teaspoons Hungarian sweet paprika
    1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (about 3 pinches).
    1/4  teaspoon dried marjoram
    3/4 cup plus 3 Tablespoons chicken broth
    1/2 teaspoon Jane's Crazy salt (or sea salt)
    several grinds of cracked black pepper
    1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon sour cream

    Heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large cast iron skillet until oil begins to shimmer on medium high heat. Cook chicken pieces, skin side down for 15 minutes, flip, salt with the Jane's Krazy Salt  and  cracked pepper and cook another 10 minutes until chicken is starting to brown (it will NOT be cooked through). Remove  chicken from pan and set aside..  Drain all but a couple teaspoons of drippings.  Cook garlic, onion and peppers  in the drippings with a pinch of sugar until softened (about 3 minutes).

    Add chicken pieces, pour chicken broth around and bring to a boil, covering and cooking on medium low (a gentle simmer) partially covered for 25-35 minutes until chicken is done (use a thermometer - the temperature of chicken should be 160 F. before removing to set aside covered with foil)  Remove chicken pieces  to a plate and cover,  turning heat to low and adding sour cream  to the liquid, stirring until blended and warmed, adding heat as necessary but not letting it get to a boil.

    Serve chicken over rice with some of the sauce, using a slotted spoon to get some of the pepper and onion bits, and an additional sprinkle of paprika and dried parsley.

    Sunday, July 1, 2007

    Honey Cashew Chicken Stir Fry

    Honey Cashew Chicken (click to enlarge photo)
    This didn't start out as a blog recipe, it was just something I threw together from leftovers but it was so tasty I had to share.

    Looking around my kitchen after a long day,  I had the following:

    There were frozen chicken breasts in the freezer.
    There was the bottom end of a bag of  Scwhans frozen veggies (2-3 cups)
    jarred minced garlic
    spices and the usual staples.
    a tired onion
    various nuts (not including us)
    bulk container of rice

    A cup of rice and two cups of water went into the steamer.  Then, two fairly small chicken breasts were defrosted  in the microwave and cut into bite sized pieces.  I  also diced half a large onion. As you all know, I  usually don't measure and go by the eyeball method but bakery type items, but here is the best guess of the amounts.
    In a  cereal bowl I mixed:
    5 Tablespoons honey
    2 and 1/2 Tablespoons soy sauce
    two pinches Penzey's Chinese 5 spice powder (or just a pinch of cinnamon and two pinches of ginger)
    several shakes of black  pepper
    several shakes of crushed red pepper

    When the rice was about 15 minutes away from being done,I  added a Tablespoon of oil to a cast iron skilled on medium to medium high heat (you know your stove better than I do) and cooked the chicken pieces, with a heaping spoonful of minced garlic and the chopped onion until the chicken was done, covering partway through to cook the meat thoroughly without drying it out.

    While that cooked, I  nuked the veggies just until defrosted (about 2 minutes).
    I added the sauce and the veggies when the meat was done, stirring to finish the vegetables with the heat on medium.

    Then  I mixed 2  teaspoons of corn starch into 1 Tablespoon of water and add,ed that to the pan, raising the heat slightly and stirring constantly while it thickened and the honey in the sauce started to caramelize.

    Finally, I tossed  in a handful of cashew pieces, stirred and served over rice.  The sweetness was a nice balance to the peppers and the cashews added a nice crunch. It was a "write that down, that was good!" type of recipe and super easy to make.