Thursday, June 24, 2010

Side dish #2.

Okay, I love carrots. I love them raw, sautéed, roasted, broiled, get it.
However, my favorite way to eat and cook them is when they're glazed.
Glazed carrots play on the natural sugar in the vegetable, creating a thick sauce with stock and herbs that delectably coat the carrot until they become irresistible.
I use chicken stock and tarragon with a pinch of sugar to make this recipe.
A pinch of red pepper flake gives it a surprising kick of spice.

Glazed Carrots

You will need:
1 bunch of carrots, sliced on a bias (assorted such as the kind I got from the farmers market, or not)
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tbs butter
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried tarragon
Kosher salt and pepper

Place the carrots, chicken stock, butter, red pepper and sugar in a saute pan with a lid. Bring to a simmer with the lid on and let cook for about 5 minutes.
Take the lid off and let the liquid reduce to a syrup, still cooking the carrots, about 10 more minutes. When the carrots are still crisp and the glaze is coating each carrot, toss in the tarragon, salt and pepper.
Serve with fresh parsley and watch as everyone around you changes their favorite vegetable to carrots.
They'll thank you!

Farmers Market Side Dish 1.

To be honest, I had no clue what this was. It looked like a flowering weed that someone had just picked on the side of the road, but a beautiful weed none the less.
It is a member of the Bok Choy family, and resembles Broccoli Rabe in texture and taste, but much more mild.
If I may put in a little self input- the stems are very tough and stringy, I would just remove them the next time I venture into this ingredient.
Now that I've warned you, you can experiment on your own! Maybe they would benefit from a long cooking time? We'll see!
I did this in a somewhat spanish style, with a small sofrito added in.
Sofrito is a browned mixture of aromatic vegetables and spices that adds a ton of flavor, very characteristic of latin and spanish cooking.

Sautéed U-Choy

You will need:
2 tbs oil
1 tomato, seeded, juiced, and diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, minced
1 teaspoon oregano (dried, fresh is very strong)
1 bunch U-Choy
1/2 cup good olive oil
A good amount of kosher salt and fresh pepper

Combine the tomato, bell pepper, onion, garlic and oregano and 2 tbs oil in a saute pan. Cook this for a while, about 20 minutes over low heat until the vegetables start to brown.
Add in the U-choy, 1/2 cup oil, salt and pepper. Raise the heat to medium and cook until vibrant green and tender, which takes a short amount of time, about 6 minutes total.
If you want you can take all the stems off, but experiment in your own way.

Chicken, Francaise Style.

Now, this is probably my most favorite chicken dish.
Chicken Francaise, chicken that's been lightly pan fried, and smothered in a wine lemon sauce.
My mouth's actually watering as we speak....mmmm
So I made some on Farmers Market night, and I wish I could tell you where I learned this recipe, but i've known it so long it's become part of the regular dishes stowed away in the back of my mind!
This time, I added shallots and thyme, lightly spooning the sauce over the chicken at the end of cooking. The radish relish (previous recipe) was delicious on top of this.

Chicken, Francaise Style.

You will need:
5-6 chicken cutlets, pounded to about 1/4 inches thick
1 cup flour seasoned with salt and pepper
2 eggs +2 tbs water for egg wash
1/2 + more cup olive oil
2 tbs butter
1 shallot, sliced
1 lemon cut into 5 slices
1/2 cup good dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 tsp thyme leaves
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper
About 2 tbs butter cubed, rolled in about 2 tsp flour. (This is for thickening)

Preheat your oven to it's lowest setting with a baking sheet lined with foil inside.
Pound out the chicken cutlets and place on a plate. On another place, place the seasoned flour, on a separate plate, beat the eggs and water. Arrange these in an assembly line, first chicken, next flour, finally eggs.
Heat the oil and 1 tbs of the butter in a large saute pan and when it starts to shimmer, it's ready to start!
Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour, shaking off the extra, dip in the egg and place in the hot oil. Cook these on each side until nice a golden brown, remove and put in the warm oven until ready to eat.
When the chicken's all cooked, empty out the extra grease, and place remaining pad of butter in the pan. Saute the Shallot until translucent, add the stock, wine, herbs and bay leaf. Add the sliced lemon and season with salt and pepper, let this simmer until the flavors meld together, about 6 minutes. Add the butter with the flour, and this should thicken it. Check for seasonings.
Pour over the crisped chicken and devour!
I know I did.
You might want to make a little more. This makes an amazing leftover lunch, not to mention you'll make everyone at work jealous.

Farmers Market Part 1.

Radish Relish- say that 10 times fast!
Well anyway- upon some research I did in the category of French Breakfast Radishes, I found out that they're one of the earliest crops of radishes. They have a mild flavor, similar to that of the Daikon Radish, and they're texture is similar also. They are not nearly as peppery as radishes we've all come to know and love, but the pepper is absolutely there in the back of your throat.
So I decided to make a Radish Relish!
The heat from the raw radishes, and the freshness of lemon and fresh herbs makes a perfect topping for fish, chicken, or any other dish that needs a little brightening up, and texture!

Radish Relish

You will need:
About 6 French Breakfast Radishes
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped basil
1 lemon zested and half juiced
1/2 cup herbed olive oil (of your choosing. Mine is thyme, bay leaf, garlic, sage)
1 garlic clove, minced
A good amount of salt and pepper, to taste.

Chop the radishes into a dice, and combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl.
Mix to combine and let sit in the fridge for at least 1 hour before eating. Remember- the longer it sits, the better it tastes!
*If you want to make your own herbed olive oil- combine olive oil and herbs and whole garlic cloves in a saucepan. Warm the oil for about 4 minutes, DO NOT FRY! Wait until it gets somewhat fragrant, and then set off heat. Let this cool and you have yourself a flavorful oil, able to be used on anything you may be cooking.

Up next:
Main Course.
Side Dishes.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Farmers Market.

Every saturday morning in my small town, there is a farmers market on Main Street from the hours of 7-11 a.m.
This is where you are able to see some of the most beautiful produce, the freshest ingredients, the coolest people, and of course, where you plan dinners to come.
Today, being early in the growing season, everyone was highlighting the early produce!

Above is my basket of goodies!

-Rainbow Carrots
-French Breakfast variety radishes (Earliest of the season, so the grower said)
-Muli-colored beets (YUM)
-The vegetable you're wondering about with the beautiful yellow flowers in the upper left corner, I have been told is U Choy. A member of the Bok Choy family! I'm excited to try it.

See what I do with these ingredients later!


Friday, June 18, 2010

Chocolate Cheesecake Calzones.

I often find myself needing a chocolate fix at unreasonable hours of the night.
Things I constantly have on hand?
Frozen Pizza Dough
Cream Cheese
So what can a choco-holic such as myself do with such a pantry of items?
I'm so glad you asked. I've seen and eaten many a chocolate-calzone, but this time, I made my own. It combines my favorite things, chocolate, and cheesecake, and guess what?
With thawed dough, it comes together in under 30 minutes!
That means chocolate deliciousness, extra quick!
Here's what I did:
Chocolate Cheesecake Calzones

You will need:
1 package pizza dough from your favorite pizzeria
1 cup of softened cream cheese
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbs powdered sugar
1 egg yolk and 1 egg+ 1 tsp water
1/2 cup Nutella or thick chocolate spread

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Next, in a small mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, vanilla, powdered sugar, and egg yolk with an electric mixer. Combine until very smooth and place into the fridge until you're ready to assemble.
Roll out the dough into 2, 7-inch circles.
Place a mound of the cheese mixture on each dough circle in the middle of one half of the circle.
Place 1/2 cup of nutella on top of each cheese mixture.
Beat the egg and 1 tsp water, brush this on the circumference of the dough circles, gently press one half of the calzone over the filling. Press edges together with a fork.
Place the finished calzones on the baking tray and brush the tops with remaining egg wash, for a glossy finish!
Bake for 15-17 minutes or until golden brown.

I know it will be hard...but try to let it cool before you devour it.
Sorry, I'll have to cut this entry off short. I have half of this calzone in my hand right now, and I do believe it needs my attention.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Blackberry, Peach, Raspberry Galette.

This recipe is one that I made for one of my best friends on her birthday.
You can probably see why- it's colorful and beautiful, much like the lovely lady herself.
This has tang and sweetness, crunch and tenderness- basically, it's everything anyone would want in a dessert.

...Unless you really wanted chocolate. But hey- you can totally drink some hot chocolate with this. I know she probably did!
This crust is flaky and delicious,
Here's how I made it:

The Crust
You will need:
8 tbsp COLD butter
About 1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4-1/3 cup ice water- depending on the wetness of the dough

Place the butter in the freezer for at most 20 minutes until you need it.
Place the flour and salt in the food processor and pulse until combine.
Then take the butter out and cut it into small chunks, placing it into the food processor and pulsing it until it resembles bits the size of small peas.
With the processor running, slowly stream in the ice water until the dough JUST starts to come together and holds together when you squeeze some in your hand (as a dough would).
Take the dough out of the processor and roll quickly into a flat disk, immediately wrapping in cling wrap and refrigerating.
*If you wanted to- using half lard and half butter would be wonderful also.

For the filling:
1/2 cup toasted peeled almonds
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 peaches, peeled and pitted cut into strips
1 cup raspberries washed
1 cup blackberries washed
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4-1/2 cup tapioca (or tapioca flour if you can find it, and depending on fruit moisture)
2 tbs of blackberry or raspberry liqueur
2 tbs turbinado sugar
egg wash

Preheat your oven to 375 degress and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Place the toasted almonds in the bowl of the food processor, and pulse until finely ground(this will absorb moisture on the bottom of the galette), combine with the egg and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the sugar, peaches, raspberries, blackberries, spices, liqueur, and tapioca(judging the amount by the wetness of the fruit. Make sure the mixture is moist and not dry).
Take out the pie crust and roll into a 13 inch round. Transfer the pastry onto the baking sheet lined with parchment paper, NOW! Did you? Okay good, this will save you panic later.
Sprinkle the almond mixture in the middle of the pastry, mounding the fruit on top and leaving a 2 inch border between the fruit and edge of the pastry. Be conscious that the mixture will significantly reduce when baking! Fold the edges around the fruit and brush the border with the eggwash finishing with a sprinkle of the turbinado sugar!
Place into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. If the edges are browning too quickly, place a ring of aluminum foil over the sides.

Let cool and enjoy at room temperature, or cold!
This is a delicious and light dessert for summer or spring. Serve with vanilla whipped cream or ice cream, and you have a hit!
Make sure you serve it in generous portions, because in my house, this only served 4.


Julia Child Lunch.

Short blog entry #1.
No pictures, no recipes, just a description.
I made Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon for lunch today. I thought to myself, what could I make into one dish with vegetables, some frozen filet mignon, and a pantry full of things like chicken stock, beef stock, and...nutella.
Well, the nutella wasn't in the dish. Afterwards it made a tasty dessert though.
I defrosted the beef and let it come to room temperature, as I sliced the carrots and onions, and made the aromatic bouquet. The wine was a pinot noir (not my first choice, but it was still splendid. Improvisation, right?)
I quite literally dove my fork into the dish that braised in my red oven for 2 hours, with nothing but a smile of satisfaction to describe my feelings.
This is what cooking is about. It's about eating. Not just eating, but it's about feeling good when you eat and when you cook for yourself and people you love.
I spent this entire past weekend cooking for friends and family, and today I made myself a treat.
You know you're doing something right when you get the same feeling of happiness after each meal you make.
Anyways, that's my story about lunch today.
I hope you're hungry for some Boeuf Bourguignon. It made a ton of leftovers.
Lunch tomorrow!


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sammy's Cake.

A graduation cake that includes school colors, fresh fruit, and white chocolate.
How could it be bad?
My cousin Samantha graduated from college this past month, we threw her a party that included the bruschetta in my previous post, and this cake I'm going to share with you now.
It's a french vanilla cake with raspberry preserves, and a white chocolate buttercream frosting.
She's a simple and elegant girl, so it's only fitting that the cake match!
I can imagine my cake now...
Can we say, multi-colored?
Anyway! This cake was not only delicious, but it was a crowd stopper, featuring white chocolate leaves and a raspberry flower middle.

I'm warning you all now: there will be two more pictures of this torte, simply because I loved it so much! Don't be frightened...I'm not crazy. I'm just one girl who loves cake, as I'm sure most of you can relate!

For this
French Vanilla Torte
You will need for the torte:
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
the seeds from 1 vanilla bean
zest of half an orange
Creme de cacao

You will need for the leaves:
6 good sized rose leaves, washed and dried
4 ounces white chocolate
3 tbsp veg. oil

You will need for the white chocolate buttercream:
2 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened (BUT NOT MELTED)
8 ounces white chocolate
3 tbs cornstarch
1/4 cup creme de cacao
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup boiling water
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup raspberry preserves

Okay. Don't be scared by the list of ingredients.
We'll walk through this together.
First let's make the cake, or torte.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 10 inch springform pan. In a large bowl, cream together the eggs and sugar for 2 minutes until light and fluffy. At this point in a separate small bowl, combine the zest, flour, baking powder. Set aside for a minute.
In the egg mixture, add the milk, vegetable oil, extract and vanilla seeds, mix with electric mixer until just combined. Add the flour mixture into the eggs in 3 additions, careful not to over mix. Place the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
When the cake has cooled, slice it in half with a long serrated knife and drizzle the cake with creme de cacao, (about 1/4 cup altogether). Spread the raspberry preserves (listed in the buttercream portion) in the middle of one half of the torte.

Now let's make the leaves so they have time to set up right.
Take out the washed and dried leaves. In a double boiler (or a metal bowl set over a pot of simmering water), add the white chocolate and oil, stir continuously until smooth and hard to resist sticking your spoon into.
Brush onto the BACK of the leaves with a pastry brush and set in the freezer for about 5- 7 minutes. When they're done, peel off the leaves and set the chocolate in the fridge until ready to decorate.

Last step! Buttercream!
This part's easy. In a saucepan, combine the white chocolate(not melted), cornstarch, sugar and vanilla extract. Stir to combine over no heat, and then add in the boiling water, stirring until melted and well combined. Stir in the creme de cacao until incorporated, set aside to come to room temp.
Cream the butter in a mixing bowl with the whisk attachment for 5 minutes on medium speed.
When it's fluffy (keep an eye on it), slowly add in the cooled white chocolate mixture. Whisk to combine. Keep in the fridge if you're making ahead, or if it's too soft to use.

Now assemble!
Combine a little buttercream on the raspberry preserves and then re-attach the layers of the cake. Spread the buttercream on the top and ice as if it were any other cake. Add decorative fruit on top and use those beautiful leaves you just made for that flower!
I hope you make this for someone you love!

See? That wasn't so bad, was it?

Garlic Breath.

This recipe is one I remember from the hundreds of family parties that my mother has spent slaving away cooking for.
She made this bruschetta that to me, seemed so amazing and delicious, I thought I could never replicate it.
I ruined many dinners scarfing down this bruschetta on toasted bread, and now I think it's time you did too.
Beware: those who don't love garlic as much as my italian family, make it with half the amount.

Ma's Bruschetta
You'll need:
About 7 good sized tomatoes, diced
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 large bunch of fresh basil, torn
1/2 cup olive oil
Fresh ground pepper and kosher salt to taste

Combine all ingredients, let sit for at least 1 hour before smothering into your face.
If they're around, heirloom tomatoes are beautiful and tasty in this- use them!
I've warned you! It's stupidly simple, but capable of ruining your date night. At lease they'll know you're a good cook!

A little tip from me to you:
Keep mints on hand for worry-free eating.

Thanks mom!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Taking Giada's lead.

So I believe this will be the first recipe I have put on here that is not my own, therefore, I shall post the link!
I really wanted to bring some food to a meeting I had today that would be easy to transport, and ridiculously satisfying. Pizza is a common choice, but sometimes it can be well...
rather boring.
I was as usual, watching Food Network, and saw Giada De Laurentiis making pizzette.
This mini pizza was easy to hold, filled with flavor, and something new.
I dove into the recipe with pizza dough from my favorite pizzeria, and held no fears for this delicate looking dish.
This is the caramelized onion, goat cheese, and prosciutto pizzette that I made with inspiration from my italian t.v friend, Giada.

The only changes I made were:
I added thyme, red pepper flake and garlic to the onions when they were caramelizing.
Also, I finished them off with a sprinkling of chopped fresh rosemary.
Other than that, it's true to recipe.
Try them. They went like hot-cakes.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ribs. Rubbed Ribs. Dry Rubbed Ribs.

Certainly I had to make ribs!
I told you I would, and now I want so much to share this with you!
This was a southern must, at least for a northerner going southern.
I did however encountered the imminent conflict: to dry rub, or to use barbecue sauce?
I thought for a while, and concluded that I would dry rub the ribs and mop them while grilling.
The best of both worlds perhaps, but packed with a unique flavor.
I used a shortcut, not being in my own kitchen with all of my pantry ingredients on hand, I used a store bought mop sauce and doctored it up!

What's the difference between a mop and a sauce you may wonder?
Well I looked it up and found out:
A mop tends to be much more acidic than a sauce, applied during the final grilling process adding moisture and flavor. A mop tends to use little if any sugar, mostly made of vinegar or beer, while a sauce can be based of tomato or molasses, it can burn much easier.
If you use a sauce, be sure to add it at the END of cooking if it contains sugar.
If you use a mop, add it throughout cooking to maintain moisture.
It's all dependent on sugar content for when you should apply it to meat.

Dry Rubbed Ribs

You will need
A rack of ribs of your own preference
For the dry rub:
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika (smoked paprika if you can find it!)
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons oil

For the ribs:
1 cup orange juice
A good quality mop sauce, altered to your own taste. (I usually add some worcestershire sauce, salt and beer)
A barbecue

Rub the ribs all over with the mix of these spices and oil, store in a container in the fridge for up to a full day. When you're ready to cook, bring the ribs out of the fridge and preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
Make a pouch of aluminum foil and place the rubbed ribs inside, when it is properly sealed open a small seam and pour in the orange juice, sealing again.
Place these ribs on a baking sheet and bake for 2 hours or until cooked and tender.
When they are fully cooked, transfer them to the heated barbecue and crust the outside, mopping continuously whenever they seem dry.
This barbecue process should take 15 minutes in total, including flipping.
Serve with greens, dirty rice, and mushrooms for a whole mess of an american meal!
I truly enjoyed cooking and eating these, so please try them so you might love them as well.

A Southern Style Soup.

Hello one and all!
Or rather, a select few...

I know I had stated that I would write immediately upon arrival to my southern culinary journey, however, complications occurred and the possibility of doing so was gone.
I am back! Here now with documentation of my exploration and many things to share.
First up on the chopping block:

Southern Style Butternut Squash Soup.
Our first night in Virginia it seemed a soup was necessary. The comfort of warmness in your stomach when you're in a new place is and was wonderful.
Here's my recipe with a few additions:

You will need about 4 pounds butternut squash (2 large)
4 cups chicken stock (or more depending on how you like the thickness of your soup to be)
1 bunch of sage leaves
2 medium yellow onions minced
3 cloves garlic minced
2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil (to prevent burning)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 or more cups of chopped cooked ham

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
Peel and cube the butternut squash into a good size, about 1 inch cubes.
Place the squash onto a sheet pan and coat in 2 tablespoons olive oil, sprinkling liberally with salt and pepper. Place the squash into the preheated oven and roast until tender, about 45 minutes.
After the squash is nicely caramelized, in a large saucepan heat the oil and butter until nicely hot
Saute the onions until translucent, adding the garlic next to prevent burning. Burned garlic is a foul taste and you might want to consider starting the onion mixture over if it occurs.
Add about 5 chopped sage leaves to this and cook until sage is no longer raw.
Add the squash and stock, cook until flavors meld together, about 20 minutes.
In 2 batches, place the soup in a blender and puree until desired thickness. Failure to do this in batches may cause a large mess! Hot soup expands as it blends, so you may make your own conclusions. You may also use an immersion blender if you have one.
Add the blended soup back to the saucepan and introduce the ham. Cook until well heated, altering seasonings where your taste desires.
You may garnish with sage leaves and some more freshly ground pepper.

I generally find butternut squash soup to be very sweet. The addition of sage gives it that classic familiarity we associate with butternut squash soup, and the ham adds a wonderful saltiness along with much needed texture.
I sincerely hope you love this soup as much as I did!
After all, soup should always be shared.