Monday, September 12, 2011

Carrot Cupcakes with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting.

Carrot cupcakes with honey cream cheese frosting are a seriously delightful treat to end a meal, or hand out at a party. They're fluffy, fall spiced, and moist, with a sweet but tangy frosting that makes you want to dive in, top first.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Limoncello Lovin'

Limoncello cupcakes combine a fluffy buttermilk cake with a seriously zesty buttercream.

Now, who wants a dozen or so of these bad boys?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

S'more S'mores!

Seriously. Do you need me to convince you about these?

They sport a lovely graham cracker crust, melted chocolate middle, and homemade marshmallow frosting. This is the classic case of, "if you don't know how many calories there are, they must not exist".

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Talk Turkey to Me.

Easter in my family is just another excuse to cook a giant turkey. Family gets together about mid-way until next Thanksgiving and what do we do? Have another Thanksgiving and justify it by saying it's for Easter. No we don't bake pumpkin pie or share our cornucopia's gourds to represent a harvest, and yes we have little white bunny rabbits everywhere, sometimes wearing bows around their necks, sometimes not, but the spirit is there. The spirit I talk of, is the spirit of getting ready to eat a large meal, directly followed by a beautiful nap. We clean, we cook, we meet and greet, set up, take down, and get knocked into comas. All for the turkey.
What was that? You don't like turkey?Let me guess, it's dry and flavorless, smothered in lumpy gravy to try and cover up the burned bits and sawdust texture?
Not anymore! This is a fool-proof recipe that can serve as a master recipe before the addition of spices and basting.
Here it is, blogspot community: A delicious turkey recipe that is sure to impress even your pickiest eaters. I guarantee it.

Let's brine this thing.
For a 16 pound turkey you will need:
For the brine:
1 gallon of low-sodium stock (vegetable preferably, or chicken)
1 cup kosher salt
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons allspice berries
2 teaspoons candied ginger, chopped
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 cinnamon stick
1 gallon ice water

Combine all ingredients in a large stockpot over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let the salt and sugar dissolve, releasing the flavor of the other ingredients.
The brining of this turkey will give it not only much needed moisture during the cooking process, but it will actually flavor the meat itself. Bland bird will never happen again.
Let's continue, shall we?
Once the ingredients have mixed wonderfully, turn off the stove and allow the brine to come to room temperature. Once this has happened, add the ice water, and submerge your thawed turkey. You may need to put the brine with the turkey in another pot that's large enough.
Place the turkey in it's brine into the refrigerator for at least 8 hours before you plan to cook it, or even up to 16 hours before.
Take the turkey out of the brine before cooking, and rinse the bird inside and out.

For the turkey:
1 apple sliced (green or red)
1 onion, sliced into wedges
2 cinnamon sticks
4 sprigs rosemary, 2 tablespoons chopped
10 sage leaves, 5 chopped
2 tablespoons thyme, chopped
1/4 cup softened butter
Kosher salt and pepper
1/2 cup real maple syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees.
Pat the turkey dry and place onto your roasting rack. Truss the legs and place into the cavity the apple, onion, cinnamon sticks, rosemary and sage sprigs. Combine the chopped rosemary, sage, thyme, butter, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
Gently, run your fingers between the skin and meat of the turkey, creating a gap but not
puncturing the skin. Rub about half the butter mixture in the gap you just created, and spread the rest on the skin of the bird (not neglecting the legs and thighs! They're the best part!)
Place the turkey in the lowest part of your oven and roast for 35 minutes at 500 degrees.
Turn your oven down to 350 degrees and remove the bird from the oven.
Combine the maple syrup, water, and cayenne, and baste the bird with the mixture.
Place the turkey back into the oven and roast for a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours, basting every 30 minutes with the maple glaze.
Once the turkey has hit an internal temperature of 165 degrees in the thickest part of the breast, remove it from the oven, tent it with foil, and let rest about 10 minutes before carving.
If the turkey starts to brown too much during cooking, tent the skin with foil for the remainder of the cooking.

I want to say that the leftovers make the best sandwiches and omelets, but let's get real. There won't be any leftovers.
To make a delicious gravy, simply take the bird out of the roasting pan and skim off the fat of the juices.
Place the pan over medium heat, bring to a simmer, whisk in 1/4 cup of all purpose flour and cook for about 3 minutes until the juices get thick. Whisk in about 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups chicken stock and 1/4 cup cream until the juices turn into a gravy consistency. Check the seasonings for salt and pepper, and there you have it!
Please make this. Please love it as much as my family does. They will never dread turkey day ever again.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Chicken tacos, "Calexico style".

I walked into Brooklyn on a Friday night carrying my weight in baggage with a laptop in a discrete case that doesn't scream, "I'm carrying a laptop", because I was walking in Brooklyn on a dark Friday night.
Down past 4 streets, lined rows of brownstones some close curbside, some set back, all lit with little white lights because this area was filled with spirit in late December. I reached the light blue building, met by my brother and the tiny smiling face of my main man Milo whose 1 year-old wide-eyed curiosity was drifting to sleep.
I kissed my brother on the cheek and Milo all over his baby face, pushed through two sets of doors, one that was sturdy as if it could withstand my incessant knocking. The other purely for aesthetic purposes, glass and aged wood, perfect for my nephew's little hands to leave frosty imprints on as he watched his silly aunt Megan play peek-a-boo with him as her brother opened the lock. We trekked up the winding staircase and into the apartment, the smell of our dinner drawing me closer and closer to the table.
"Have you ever had Calexico?" was the casual question that began the addiction, as he walked away to put Milo down to sleep.
"No", but I knew that smell couldn't disappoint, spice, roasted meat, and something acidic, vinegar.
The carne asada burrito and the pork tacos with pickled red onion, each smothered respectively with the specialty pumpkin arbol salsa, did not last long, but still teased me with lasting taste long after devoured.
It was after that night of watching Milo, typing up my 13 page paper on 20th Century American Poetry, and making breakfast the next morning for my tired brother and sister in law, that I knew I had to find a way to have that Calexico without the necessity of the hour and a half journey.
I spent that hour and a half on my way home, concocting.

"Calexico what?"

My sister wanted a mexican style dinner for one of her birthday celebrations.
Prefect timing to try out a Calexico inspired meal. There needed to be certain elements that were signature to the taste I wanted to achieve:
Spiced meat of choice- Chicken in this case, my sister's favorite.
Pickled red onion
Pumpkin Arbol Salsa
Salty cheese

Chicken for Calexico style tacos (Makes about 15 authentic sized tacos)

You will need:
For the marinade
Juice of 2 limes
4 peeled and smashed garlic cloves
1 large handful of cilantro, chopped
1 minced jalapeno (keep seeds in if you like heat, remove if you don't)
1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup tequila
3 teaspoons adobo seasoning
2 teaspoons chili powder
A good amount of Kosher Salt and pepper
8 Boneless skinless chicken breasts

Combine all ingredients in a large ziptop bag, or divide between two bags if all of the chicken will not fit with room at the top of the bag.
Make sure all of the marinade is evenly distributed on the chicken and set in the fridge for 2 or 3 hours before cooking.

You will need:
For the chicken
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 jalapenos, sliced and seeded
2 large yellow onions, minced
6 cloves minced garlic
1 28-ounce can diced San Marzano tomatoes
3 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon chili powder
Chicken in marinade
4 cups good quality chicken stock or more to cover
Adobo seasoning optional
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro to finish

Take the chicken out of the fridge and allow to start coming up to room temperature.
In a large pan with high sides, saute the jalapenos, onion, and garlic until fragrant and the onions begin to brown on the sides. Add in the tomatoes and allow this to cook for 5 minutes, add in the paprika, cumin, oregano and chili powder. Let this cook for another 2 minutes so the spices can bloom. Take the chicken out of the marinade and place into the tomato mixture, add in a bit of the marinade, about a quarter.
Brown the chicken and then add in the chicken stock to cover.
Bring this to a simmer and allow to cook uncovered for about an hour or until most of the liquid has evaporated and the chicken is very tender.
Shred the chicken and return to the pan with the remaining liquid, and allow to reduce to your preferred consistency.
Add in the fresh cilantro and season to taste with either adobo or kosher salt and pepper.

Up Next, Pickled red onion!
We're almost at assembling...

Pickled Red Onion.

This is the perfect acidic topping for your favorite tacos. You know your favorite tacos, right? The recipe that I just posted!
Wishful thinking, or confidence? You decide!

Pickled Red Onion

You will need:
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup water
4 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Combine the vinegar, lime juice, water, honey and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
Turn off the heat and let come to room temperature.
Pour this over the onion and let sit in the fridge for at least 5 hours before using.

Top these delicious chicken tacos with queso fresco or your preferred salty white cheese,
pickled red onion, the pumpkin arbol salsa (recipe to follow).
These individual recipes would taste great on any other taco filling you like as well, be it carne asada, roasted pork, or add a flavorful boost to vegetarian options.
Share them! There's no way you can eat them all.
I know what you're thinking...
"is that a challenge?"

Pumpkin Arbol Salsa

This recipe is courtesy of Calexico restaurant and Hungry Nation (I believe...)

I used fresh jalapenos in my version, which is why it's a vibrant green color. Use what you can!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Stuffed Artichokes.

Most people I've encountered through life, about 80%, see cooking as a chore to be disregarded for the easy task of take-out cuisine. On days like today I wonder to myself what they do on special occasions where food is (noticeably, or not) the epicenter of the day. Do they have it catered by a favorite place? Order pizza? Or simply go out? Whatever it is that works best for them is nice, but in my family we cook all day for nothing more than the enjoyment of spending
time together in the kitchen, and watching as we all remember why it is we love our family food.
My older sister turned 25 today (Happy Birthday! Again.) and wanted my pop-pop's(grandfather's) chicken soup, and stuffed artichokes.
This recipe I made with inspiration from when my family and I had the most wonderful stuffed artichokes at a tiny restaurant called Piccolo's (Ha...) Salty, tangy, savory, and lovely in everyway- I hope you make these for someone you love too.

You will need:
6 Artichokes
2 Lemons
2 cups White wine
1 1/2 cups Bread-crumbs
1 1/2 cups Grated Parmesan cheese
6 Minced cloves of garlic
1 Bunch minced Parsley
1/2 cup Toasted pine nuts
6 (relatively thin) Pieces of cooked pancetta(omit if vegetarian)
1 4-ounce package of goat cheese
1/2 tsp. Crushed red pepper
1 Large bowl of water
Olive oil
3 tbs Butter
Salt and Pepper to taste

To start: Cut 1 of the lemons in half and squeeze the juice into the bowl of water, adding the lemon halves. Set aside.
Trim off the top and stem of the artichoke and cut the tops of the individual leaves to remove the prickly bit atop. Take a melon baller and scoop out the choke of the artichoke, or the tiny hairs that are directly in the middle of the vegetable. (You will remove inner leaves during this process and some purple thin leaves just before you get to the choke itself, but that's normal.) Rinse out the trimmed artichokes and place into the bowl of lemon water.

In a separate bowl, combine the bread crumbs, parmesan, garlic, parsley, toasted pine nuts, cooked pancetta, crumbled goat cheese, and red pepper flakes. Because of the parmesan and pancetta, you will probably not need to add salt to this, but you can adjust to your taste.
Drizzle in olive oil until this creates a paste that holds together well but is not overly mushy.

In a large pot with a lid, add the 2 cups of white wine and then the trimmed artichokes cut side up. Add enough of the lemon water they were sitting in to reach about 3/4 of the way up the artichokes. Salt the artichokes and bring to a boil with the lid on.
Cook these for about 30 minutes in a boil with the lid.

Remove them from the pot and stuff the inner part as well as the outer leaves with the reserved stuffing. Place them back into their cooking liquid to finish them off for about another 20 minutes with the lid on yet again.

When they're tender, turn off your stove and remove them to a broiler-safe baking dish. DO NOT DISCARD THE COOKING LIQUID. Sprinkle them with a small amount of parmesan cheese and place under the broiler to get crispy and just browned.
While they're browning, turn your attention to the cooking liquid which should be reduced drastically and extraordinarily tasty. Bring this to a simmer over medium heat and whisk in 3 tbs butter to finish the sauce.
Serve the artichokes hot with plenty of their sauce spooned over.

I hope you love these as much as my family does- and please share them with people who mean the most.
Happy Birthday sis! I love you!