Sunday, February 28, 2010

Foodbuzz Tastemaker Goodies....

To my delight I recently returned home and found a box on my front porch with a bottle of the new Kikkoman Ponzu Lime Sauce. The mission, to taste it, test it and use it in whatever tasty vittles crossed my mind. The solution: flank steak marinade. I know, I know it doesn't sound all that innovative or exciting, but belive me, when I was done it was zippy and delicious!

Chili Lime Steak Marinade
4 Adoboe Chilies, Chopped
1 Tbsp Worchestshire Sauce
4 Tbsp Catsup
2 Tbsp Honey
2 Tbsp Kikkoman Ponzu Lime Sauce
Emeril's Steak Seasoning

1. Season steak to taste with Emeril's Steak Seasoning
2. Mix remaning ingredients together and pour over steak, allow to sit at least 30 minutes but up to 4 hours.
3. Brush excess marinade off and cook steak to taste.

SO this is super simple but so good, it'd be delicious for fajita tacos. Fair warning, if you don't see the chilies it's pretty spicy but the taste of adoboe chiles is smoky and wonderful and so worth the heat :)

To balance out the spicy steak I served a porcini risotto from the pages of the Jan/Feb 2010 Cooking Light, it tasted anything but healthy!

Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms and Mascarpone

2 cups boiling water
1 cup dried porcini mushrooms (about 1 ounce)
1 (14-ounce) can less-sodium beef broth
Cooking spray1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
3/4 cup chopped shallots
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup (1 ounce) mascarpone cheese
Fresh thyme leaves (optional)

1. Combine 2 cups boiling water and mushrooms; let stand 30 minutes or until soft. Drain through a colander over a bowl. Reserve 1 1/2 cups soaking liquid; chop mushrooms.

2. Bring soaking liquid and broth to a simmer in a small saucepan (do not boil). Keep broth mixture warm.

3. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add rice, shallots, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Add wine, and cook until liquid evaporates (about 2 minutes).

4. Add 1 cup broth mixture to rice mixture; cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of the broth mixture is absorbed before adding the next (about 25 minutes total). Add mushrooms, grated cheese, chopped thyme, salt, and pepper; stir gently until cheese melts. Spoon 1 cup risotto into each of 4 bowls. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon mascarpone and thyme leaves, if desired.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Chocolate Hazelnut Delight

A few weeks back I pulled a recipe out of a magazine for chocolate cupcakes with hazelnut liqueur and hazelnut candies. Wouldn't you know after buying nearly all the ingredients I couldn't find the specific candy so I've had the ingredients sitting around and have been brainstorming on what to do with the whole set up. Yesterday morning I woke up with a brilliant plan, we used to pick up a delicious cake from Randalls that was a white sponge cake on the bottom, mascarpone cheese-cake on top and then fresh fruit. They were so good that my Dad, who never was a big sweet-eater, would devour it quickly enough we'd have to buy a second within the week! So I set to the task of trying to make a similar cake but with chocolate as the base and hazelnuts instead of fruit. The sponge cake base came out a tad bit denser than I was expecting but it was delicious all the same, as for the hazelnut/mascarpone topping, well let's just say this will be a good go-to for special occasions in the future.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake with Mascarpone Topping

2/3 C Cake Flour
1/4 C Cornstarch
1/2 C Cocoa Powder
1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
4 Eggs
2 Tbsp Hot Water
1/2 C Sugar
1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
1/4 Tsp Table Salt
1 Tbsp Frangellico

1. Measure dry ingredients by spooning lightly into a cup and leveling off. Do not pack flour. Whisk dry ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.
2. Grease a 9 inch springform pan and line the bottom with wax paper, cut to fit. Flour the sides of the pan. Turn the oven on to 350°F to preheat.
3. Break 4 eggs into the bowl of a mixer, mix for 1 minute, medium speed. Turn to high speed and drizzle the hot water into the eggs while mixing. Add the sugar, frangellico and vanilla and keep mixing on high for about 5 minutes, or until eggs are creamy yellow and very thick, like a sauce. Remove from mixing stand and switch to a hand spatula for the next step.
4. Sift half of the dry ingredients over the egg mixture and fold in until almost gone. Repeat with the other half. Do not overmix (you will deflate the egg mixture) but scrape the bottom of the bowl several times, to make sure you have incorporated all the dry ingredients.
5. Pour batter into the springform pan and smooth top. Place in oven, on the second shelf from the bottom for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.


2 8oz containers Mascarpone Cheese, softened
1 C Cream
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Tsp Frangellico
3/4 C Powdered Sugar
Semi-Sweet Chocolate Bar
1/4 C Toasted Hazelnuts

Whip together, softened mascarpone, cream, vanilla, Frangellico. Slowly add powdered sugar until consistency is just shy of the thickness of frosting. Spread over cake, let chill for at least 30 minutes. Shave chocolate over the top of the mascarpone mixture and sprinkle toasted hazelnuts on top with chocolate shavings.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Comfort food and a dessert disaster

Its never easy making the introduction between family and the person you are dating, everyone is a little nervous and trying to make a good impression. About two weeks ago I introduced the guy I've been dating to my parents, not sure if I was more nervous or the three of them were! Needless to say such an event calls for comfort food of grand proportions (at least in my opinion), that way the parties involved can focus on the conversation and not on something uber fancy that is being served.

In an attempt to pull together just the right meal I went to one of my favorite stand-by meats, spare ribs. A few accouterments later and dinner was served!

Dr. Pepper Braised Short Ribs
*5 Lbs Short Ribs
*2 Cups Dr. Pepper
*6oz Beer (I had some Dos XX hanging about so I used that)
*14oz Beef Stock
*1 Cup Soy Sauce
*1/2 Cup Worcestershire Sauce
*Emeril's Steak Seasoning

1. Pat down short ribs to remove any excess moisture, then season liberally with steak seasoning. Place them all in a roasting pan (I used a disposable one for ease of clean-up).
2. Pour all liquid over the short ribs, if it does not fully cover them, then tent foil over the pan, if not then you can leave it open.
3. Cook in oven at 400F for 2.5-3 hours. The longer you cook them, the more tender they will become.

Alongside the short ribs I served a wilted lettuce salad and some fresh, homemade wheat bread (my adventures in baking will be chronicled another day).

Wilted Lettuce Salad
*1 Large Container Mixed Spring Greens
*1 Bunch Radishes, washed, trimmed and sliced thinly
*5-6 Scallions, white and greens washed and sliced
*5-6 Strips Thick Cut Bacon
*1/4 Cup Cider Vinegar
*2 Tbsp White Sugar

1. Wash and drain lettuce, pad dry and set aside.
2. Cook bacon in heavy skillet until crisp. Remove strips and let drain on a towel, then cut into small pieces.
3. Add radishes and scallions to skillet, turn off skillet and stir constantly for 5-10 seconds. Slowly add sugar and vinegar to skillet and continue stirring to combine.
4. Pour radishes, scallions and drippings over lettuce, toss to combine.

Last on the menu was a beautiful mint dessert...unfortunately the gelatin did not set up correctly and clumped up in the mousse....the flavor was good so I'm going to have to try again but maybe someone else can see the flaw here, because I clearly missed it:

Chocolate After-Diner Mint
*From Curtis Stone's Cooking with Curtis

For the mousse:
1 sheet gelatin
5 oz plain dark (semisweet) chocolate
2 small eggs
1/8 cup caster sugar
1 cup heavy cream, semi-whipped

For the mint mousse:
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 bunch fresh mint leaves
2 sheets gelatin
1 cup whipping cream, semi-whipped

For the chocolate ganache topping:
*5 oz plain dark (semisweet) chocolate, grated
2/3 cup heavy cream
fresh mint leaves, for garnish

To make the chocolate mousse:
1. Soften the gelatin in 1 cup cold water. Melt the chocolate in a heat proof bowl, set over a pan of hot water, stirring constantly.
2. Whisk the eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl with an electric whisk on medium-high speed until the eggs resemble medium peaks.
3. Place the softened gelatin in a small saucepan and melt over a low heat, then slowly add the gelatin to the eggs and sugar mixture, whisking constantly. Make sure that there are no lumps. Using a balloon whisk, slowly incorporate the melted chocolate then fold in the semi-whipped cream.

To make the mint mousse:
1. Bring the milk and sugar to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Once boiling, ad the mint leaves and whisk by hand for 20 seconds. Remove from heat and cover, set aside for 15 minutes.
2. Once the int has infused and the milk is still hot, ad the softened gelatin and strain through a fine sieve into a bowl. Leave the milk to cool then add the semi-whipped cream (before the gelatin has set).

For the chocolate topping/ganache:
1. Place the grated chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the heavy cream in a medium saucepan to near simmer. Slowly pour the cream over the chocolate and stir. Once the chocolate has melted, leave to cool until it is slightly warmer than room temperature.

To assemble:
1. Place 2 tbsp of the chocolate mousse in the base of each serving glass (between 6 and 8 are needed depending upon their size). Leave to set in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.
2. Remove form fridge and place 2 tbsp of the mint mousse on top of the chocolate and chill for another 30 minutes.
3. Remove and pour a little of the chocolate ganache on top of each and chill another 10 minutes. Add mint leaves to top before serving.

This was a great presentation (the first four were in champagne glasses but I forgot to snap a pic of those, the other four were in pretty blue bowls) and the ganache alone was worth every moment of the clumpy gelatin mess but there has to be a better way to make the other two layers work!!!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Oh When the Saints...

So I'm not the most die-hard of Pro Football fans, I do like a good game and even better, a good reason to cook Cajun food!!! Ok, more like mix up a sauce for an appetizer and post a recipe I've been holding onto for a few weeks :)

Whether or not the Saints come marching in today and stomp the Colts it's a good night for a great bowl of gumbo (I'll be making sure to get a bowl at my mom's house where she's cooking up a Shrimp, Crab and Oyster Gumbo of epic flavor) but it's been pretty chilly around here lately and I felt like it was great timing to post my Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, but first, the Super Bowl appetizer that I'm responsible for...Shrimp with Remoulade sauce.

Remoulade Sauce
*Serve with chilled shrimp or other steamed/boiled shellfish

1/4 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice
3/4 Cup Mayo
3/4 Cup Chopped Spring Onions (Green and White Parts)
2 Tbsp Chopped Garlic
3 Tbsp Whole-Grain Mustard
2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
4 Tbsp Ketchup
3 Tbsp Chopped Parsley
1 Tsp Salt
1/4 Tsp Cayenne
1/8 Tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1. Toss is all in the food processor, pulse for 30 seconds at a time, one it's mixed up to your liking put it in a bowl and serve!

Yes that might be the easiest recipe ever, especially if you're just serving it alongside boiled shrimp but mmm....mmm is it good!

Now for the Chicken and Sausage Gumbo I turned to my favorite Emeril cookbook (Louisiana Real and Rustic) and set off to the races...

Chicken and Smoked Sausage Gumbo
*Adapted from Louisiana Real and Rustic by Emeril Lagasse

1 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 Cup Flour
1 1/2 Cups Chopped Onions
1 Cup Chopped Celery
1 Cup Chopped Bell Peppers
1 Cup Frozen Okra
1 Lb smoked sausage, I used a pork/venison kielbasa
1 1/2 Tsp salt
1/4 Tsp Cayenne
3 Bay Leaves
6 Cups Water
1 Lb Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
3 Tsp Paprika
2 Tsp Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1 Tsp Garlic Powder
1 Tsp Onion Powder
1 Tbsp Dried Oregano
1 Tbsp Dried Thyme
2 Tbsp Chopped Parsley
1/2 Cup Chopped Green Onions
1 Tbsp File Powder

1. Combine the oil and flour in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Stirring slowly and constantly for 20-2 minutes, make a dark roux, the color of Hershey's chocolate.
2. Add the onions, celery, and bell peppers and continue to stir for 4-5 minutes, or until wilted. Add the water. Stir until the roux is well mixed into the water, add bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to med-low. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.
3. Season the chicken with the paprika, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano and thyme and add to the pot. Add sausage (sliced into 1/2 inch rounds) and okra to the pot. Simmer for 2 hours.
4. Skim off any fat that rises to the surface. Remove from heat. Stir in parsley, green onions and file.
5. Remove the bay leaves and serve over rice in deep bowls with crusty french bread.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Old Habits...

Old habits are like a well worn hoodie, you relish in finding them and enjoying them once more and miss them terribly when you can't get to them. I have longed to bring normalcy back to my life...routine, being the OCD person that I am I crave it. Unfortunately my life has been anything but normal the last few months....the holidays, life at a start-up company and the random social events I find myself committed to seem to have taken their toll in a lack of convention. So as I try and re-start my good habits (and kick the bad ones) I find myself coming back to my blog. This has always been a struggle for me, I've never been a writer, unless it was a research paper or something academic it never came to me. I'm a little critical of myself and my writing (ok maybe very critical) so I have always looked at what I write and erased it numerous times. This blog has been the only exception to that rule so here I sit once more, back from an extended furlough attempting to do something that is good for me.

Now, to clarify, just because writing on this blog is good for me doesn't mean I'm going to post recipes that are exclusively healthy :) No, to the contrary, I have stores of photos and recipes I've made over the past few months (and stockpiled hoping I would eventually get around to posting them) and since they were very holiday focused for two months they won't necessarily be healthy...oh well being all good is never that much fun!

The first two of such recipes are healthy in a devilishly tasty way, so I guess it's walking the fine line between the good and bad. Thanks to Foodbuzz and Egglands Best for a coupon for a delicious dozen eggs. With some of the beautiful Egglands Best eggs I pulled together two simple dishes, an appetizer (although I love it as a vegetarian dinner on weeknight) and one of my favorites, an egg custard.

Originally I came across this in a Curtis Stone cookbook (Cooking with Curtis) where it is listed as a hearty appetizer, however it has quickly become a favorite for me and can be found gracing the dinner table after a long day at the office. It's the perfect comfort food, delicious crunchy toast with a perfectly poached egg and amazing mushrooms.

Sauteed Mushrooms on Fried Ciabatta with Poached Egg
*Adapted from Cooking with Curtis by Curtis Stone

3/4 Cup White Wine
1 Tbsp White Vinegar
6 Tbsp Butter
1/2 Shallot, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 Garlic clove, peeled and minced
14oz mushrooms, I prefer a mix of Baby Bellas and Button Mushrooms for everyday cooking but Oyster Mushrooms or some Shitake would be great as well
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 Tbsp Flat Leaf Parsley, Chopped
4 Slices of Ciabatta
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1. Place a large deep saucepan over medium-high heat with butter inside. Once butter has began to melt, add shallot and garlic. Sweat 1-2 minutes.
2. Add mushrooms and wine, allow wine to reduce to about 1/2 its volume.
3. While wine is reducing, bring a pot of water to a boil (add 1 Tbsp White Vinegar to the water).
4. Break eggs into boiling water and poach for 2 minutes.
5. Place ciabatta slices on a griddle pan or cast iron, brush with olive oil and toast until slightly crispy.
6. Place toasted ciabatta on serving plate and top with the mushrooms, top mushrooms with a sprinkle of parsley and then the poached egg. Drizzle with olive oil, serve.

This should comfortably serve 4 people.

Now if that amazing poached egg doesn't make you want to run out and get a dozen eggs then I'm not sure what will! Oh wait, I do know, it's this egg custard. I love egg custard, I have vague recollections of watching my grandmother make this in an ancient oven (not because she's that old but because she lived in a very old, historic ranch house for a long time). Mimi would put these in and turn on the light in the oven and that was really the closest I would get to the custard until after dinner...of course she made them mid-afternoon so I would sit in anticipation for quite sometime until I got to eat the dessert! This is such an easy recipe that I was astounded, funny, I hadn't actually made my own egg custard until I tested this out...but I will surely be making more soon.

Easy Egg Custard

2 cups whole milk
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Freshly grated or ground nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
2. Place six 4-ounce ovenproof cups (you can use ramekins, or coffee cups marked as oven-safe) in a deep baking pan just large enough to hold them.
3. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer over medium-low heat.
4. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks, sugar, and vanilla.
5. Slowly pour the egg mixture into the simmering milk, whisking gently to combine.
6. Pour the mixture through a fine strainer into the cups (if the strainer clogs, use a spoon to scrape it clean), then sprinkle lightly with the nutmeg.
7. Pour hot (not boiling) water into the pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cups.
8. Bake until the custard is just set (it can still be a little loose), 30 to 35 minutes.
9. Let the custard cool in the water bath for about 2 hours before serving.

I'm rather embarrassed to admit that in all my free time I forgot to take a photo of the egg custard : (

Now I feel officially like I might be back on track, got up this morning and exercised, packed a healthy lunch, posted on my blog, came home from work and made a pretty healthy if I can just lather, rinse and repeat for tomorrow I'll be set!