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A Boiled Dinner, Really?!

When it came to cooking in my house growing up we usually looked toward my mother.  That’s not say my father couldn’t cook; it’s just that he wasn’t home to do it.  Rest assured though, if it was a  holiday you would find him right at home by the stove.  One of the more under appreciated meals he prepared was for St. Patrick’s Day.  While our heritage is far more French than Irish, if you lived in Massachusetts on that day you wore Kelly Green and attended the parade.  Traditionally on St. Patrick’s Day a New England Boiled Dinner is on the menu, or as it is more colloquially known as Corned Beef & Cabbage.  It was no different in our house except for the fact that some members would opt out and have some plain pasta and sauce.  My father though was unflappable.  Even if no one else was going to eat it, he was still going to cook it.  Sometimes it would be tough, and if the cabbage was over done it’s essence would linger for days, but he was proud of it.

To those unfamiliar with Corned Beef & Cabbage it is essentially what the title implies with the addition of various other root vegetables (we used carrots and potatoes) boiled altogether in a pot until tender.  The name “Corned” has nothing to do with the stuff you pop or slather with butter on a summer’s day.  It more accurately describes the size and shape of the salt used in the curing method for the beef.  Salt and spices are added together in a brine to cure a beef brisket.  Most major producers today add Nitrates or Nitrites into the mix insuring the meat stays pink but recent studies are linking those additives with various forms of cancer, so my advice is to seek out those producers who leave out those particular elements.  This particular preparation became popular back in 19th Century New England where Irish-American families substituted this relatively  cheaper cut of meat into their national dishes, and thus a new tradition was born and today Corned Beef can be found in most meat departments around the country during March.

It is possible to home cure the brisket, and eventually boil it until tender, but I admit that’s a little advanced and not very practical for most work by day chef by night people.  I’ve decided to modernize the dish and bring it into a form that’s more weeknight and kid friendly, while still keeping all the traditional flavors that my father enjoyed.  My father was not shy in the kitchen and given his sense of exploration I’m sure he would have approved.

St. Patrick’s Burger

I wanted to create a burger that had all the flavors and ingredients you would expect to get out of a traditional St. Patrick’s day meal.  The slaw delivers that distinctive spice and sweetness you would get from a soda bread.  The Guinness-mustard gives a boost of flavor you would not normally get out of the meal.  The result is a dish unlike the original but still stays true to its heritage.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs Ground Beef Brisket, formed into 8 patties, seasoned with Salt & Pepper
  • 8 Potato Rolls
  • Caraway Slaw w/ Raisins (Recipe Below)
  • Guinness Mustard (Recipe Below)
  • Dubliner Cheese (optional)

Directions:

  1. In March, a grill is hard to find, so I lean on my trusty cast Iron Skillet to get the job done.  To cook 8 Burgers you will have to work in batches of 4.  Start by getting your skillet rip-roaring hot.  At this stage you are looking to get a great seer on the beef.  Take your seasoned patties and place them on the skillet and they should start to sizzle immediately, if they don’t your pan was not hot enough, do better next time because you just steamed your beef instead of searing it.
  2. Continue to sear on one side for 2 minutes, and don’t touch it!  After 2 minutes, flip and wait another 2 minutes. Assuming your pan was hot enough and you resisted the urge to poke and prod your burger you should have a nicely seared patty,  turn your heat down to medium and flip again.  This time cook for 5 minutes on one side, flip, and finish on the last side for 5 minutes.  This will cook the inside of the burger and leave you with a nice Medium finish.  (Adjust times: to your likeness)
  3. At this stage place a thin slice of the Dubliner Cheese on the patty and let its heat start to melt it.  Split your potato roll and smear the bottom with the Guinness-Mustard then place your patty.  Scoop about a half a cup of slaw onto the burger and replace the top bun.

Now crack open a Guinness and ERIN GO BRAGH!!!

Caraway Slaw w/ Raisins

Ingredients:

  • 1 savoy cabbage (or any smaller cabbage)
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp caraway seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots

Directions:

  1. The day before you need your slaw, take your cabbage and cut in half, remove the core and thinly slice the halves and place into a colander in the sink.  Liberally salt the cabbage and toss it to make sure all the salt is dispersed evenly, and let sit for 4 hours.  This will draw out a good part of the cabbage’s moisture so that it doesn’t end up in the slaw.
  2. While the cabbage is draining toast your caraway seeds in a pan on medium high just until fragrant, you don’t want to scorch them.  Assemble your dressing by mixing the mayo, sour cream, sugar, pepper, caraway and vinegar in a large bowl.
  3. After the four hours have passed squeeze the cabbage dry and add to a large bowl with the carrots and raisins.  Toss with the dressing and allow to rest over night so that the flavor develops.

Guinness Mustard

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbs grainy mustard
  • 2 tbs honey
  • 1/2 cup guinness

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan combine all ingredients and stir well.
  2. Over medium-high heat bring to a boil then cut the heat to medium low and allow the sauce to thicken and reduce.
  3. Once most of the liquid has evaporated the sauce will start to thicken, take it off the heat and allow to cool.  The sauce will thicken as it stands, and will end up being the consistency of maple syrup.

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2012 in Blog

 

Holiday Traditions

Holiday Traditions

For those of you who have grown up all your life in one area, and suddenly find yourself living away from home, there are a lot of changes that you need to adapt to. If you move from Arizona to Chicago you need to adapt to the cold that’s a given and you know that going into it.  What if all of sudden you find yourself in a place where they don’t do the same stuff you’ve been used to and have quite frankly taken for granted.  Still  don’t get it?  Try talking about peanut butter to anyone in the UK, especially its use in breakfast items.  You’ll get a look of disgust and intrigue, it’s just to foreign for them.  That’s kind of what I felt like three years ago when I left New England and moved to Jersey City.  For me it was more of a look of shock and disbelief when I discovered that on New Year’s Eve only New Englander’s order Chinese food out.  Considering my boyfriend’s fondness for Chinese food I was even more perplexed.

I’m serious, if you’re visiting New England over the holiday just try to call in a take out order for dinner.  One hour, try 3 days advance is needed for some restaurants.  Even then, the full menu is often not available and if it is; you may not want to order it as the restaurant will is giving the bulk of its attention to the copious amount of appetizers and sweet & sour chicken orders it received.  I think that some of the  New England Chinese Restaurants can not only afford to close down for New Year’s Day but for the entire week after it as well.  So for my friends back home who don’t want to call in the standard order this year I give you a few recipes below to satisfy your cravings.  The meal will feed 4 and can be doubled and tripled depending on your social circle and overall ambition.

Beef Teriyaki

Ingredients:

  • flank steak
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 3/4 cup sherry
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 water

Tools:

  • sheet Pan w/ wire rack
  • bamboo sticks

Directions:

  1. Cut flank steak into 12 pieces about an inch wide by three inches long, making sure to cut against the grain.
  2. After cutting the steak lightly tenderize with mallet our heavy pan, and add to bag to marinate for 4-24 hours.
  3. After steak is left to marinate remove from bag and skewer with bamboo and place steak skewers on wire rack on top of a sheet pan.
  4. Turn your broiler on and broil the steaks for 3 minutes.
  5. Turn the skewers and broil for 3 more minutes
  6. Take the remaining Hoisin Sauce and brush over one side of the steaks, and broil for one more minute, then repeat on the opposite side.
  7. Let steaks cool a bit before moving to platter and serving.

Pork Fried Rice

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups day old rice
  • 4 ounces bacon
  • hoisin sauce
  • wok oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, whisked with salt and pepper
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 1/2 cup carrots
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp garlic
  • hot sesame oil to taste

Tools:

  • Wok or large frying pan
  • sheet pan w/ wire rack

Directions:

  1. First take your bacon and brush with Hoisin Sauce and bake using the method shown in our Pumpkin Pecan Pancakes post.  Once done chop the bacon and set aside.  Resist the temptation to eat it, or make an extra strip for your own personal consumption.
  2. Take a pint of day old rice, this can either be from your last visit to Green Jade Dragon’s Garden Palace or any other similarly named establishment.  Or simply make two cups of rice the day before and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Have the remaining ingredients ready as this is going to go fast.  In a hot wok add a dash of vegetable oil or wok oil.  Let it heat up for a second.  Then toss in the egg and scramble it.  This takes about 30 seconds.  Remove the egg and set aside.
  4. Add 2 tbsp of oil to the wok over high heat.  Add your onion and cook until brown, now add your garlic.  Toss in your rice once garlic becomes fragrant.  After two to three minutes of tossing rice add the remaining vegetables, soy sauce, and bacon. Continue cooking for another two to three minutes constantly moving the ingredients in the wok.
  5. Finish by adding some hot chili oil sparingly, and remove from heat.  Plate and Serve.

Spicy Orange Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tbs orange juice
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 1/2 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tbs grated orange zest
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger root
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 5-6 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2 inch pieces*
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup and 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Tools:

  • frying pan
  • frying oil
  • ziploc bag
  • zester

Directions:

  1. Add 1 1/2 cups water, orange juice, lemon juice, rice vinegar, and soy sauce into a saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Stir in the orange zest, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and cool 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Place the chicken pieces into a ziploc bag. When contents of saucepan have cooled, pour 1 cup of sauce into bag. Reserve the remaining sauce. Seal the bag, and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
  3. In another resealable plastic bag, mix the flour, 1/4 cup of cornstarch, salt, and pepper. Add the marinated chicken pieces, seal the bag, and shake to coat.
  4. Heat your frying oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place chicken into the skillet, and brown on both sides, drain then cover with aluminum foil.
  5. Clean skillet, and add the sauce. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Mix together the 2 tbsp cornstarch and 2 tbs water; stir into the sauce. Reduce heat to medium low, add the chicken pieces, and simmer, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Plate and serve immediately.
*  Why I am using thigh meat for chicken instead of breast meat.  If Americans had their way chickens would walk around grossly misshapen; veritable Anna Nicole Smith clones needing as much chest support as possible before meeting its maker.  It’s not enough we don’t realize how our food is actually “raised”; and I use that word loosely, we also want to genetically modify the creature to meet our demands.  Breast meat is leaner, but not by much, a well-trimmed thigh is comparably lean, superior in taste, better to marinate, and can stand a higher cooking temperature yielding a greater texture.  The only reason its a “cheaper” cut is because we as a society have decried it to be the red-headed step child of the chicken world.  So next time you have a recipe that requires a longer cooking time or a flavorful marinade try some thighs.  You will thank me later, and recent studies are showing that there just may be more nutrients in dark meat than your dried up old breast meat anyways.

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2011 in Blog

 

Three Cheers!

Three Cheers!

Deck the halls with boughs of holly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Tis the season to be tipsy,
Fa la la la la, la la la la

Mix me now our gin martini,
Fa la la la la, la la la la,
Try this eggnog its delicious,
Fa la la la la, la la la la

Ok, a bit more holiday humor, but tis the season and these are Dave’s lyrics stone cold sober by the way.

Whether it’s an office party, going caroling, recovering from a trip to the mall, or bringing in the new year with friends and family these libations are perfect to keep in your recipe file for any seasonal occasion.

Below we have three takes on classic holiday drinks. These recipes range from hot to cold and classic to nouveau.  These drinks are sure to give you a rosy glow and a hardy HoHoHo. So three cheers and Happy Holidays!!!

A Real Crantini

Ingredients:

  • 1 part gin
  • 1/2 pine infused simple syrup
  • 1/2 part cranberry juice
  • cranberries for garnish
  • sprig of pine for garnish

Tools:

  • martini shaker
  • ice
  • martini glass

Directions:

  1. Into your martini mixer add ice, gin, simple syrup, and cranberry juice.  Shake well.
  2. Add cranberries to a very cold martini glass, and pour in your cocktail.
  3. Top with a sprig of pine and sip.
  • Pine Infused Simple Syrup is made by mixing 1 cup water to 1 cup sugar and bringing to a boil.  While the water and sugar are coming to a boil add some sprigs of pine to infuse the syrup.  Once finished strain the syrup.

Authentic Eggnog

Ingredients:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 pint whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 ounces spiced rum
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract

Tools:

  • Stand Mixer or Hand Mixer
  • mixing bowl
  • medium pan
  • whisk

Directions:

  1. In the bowl beat the egg yolks until they are pale in color, then add the sugar. Beat until all the sugar is dissolved.
  2. In a pan over high heat, combine milk, cream and nutmeg bring to a boil then remove from the heat.
  3. Gradually temper the hot mixture into the egg and sugar mixture by adding a small amount to the egg yolks while whisking to prevent the eggs from cooking.  Once tempered put everything back in the pot and cook on low until it reaches 160F.
  4. Remove from the heat, stir in the rum, pour into a medium mixing bowl, and set in the refrigerator to chill for about 4 hours.
  5. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. With the mixer running gradually add the remaining sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Whisk the egg whites into the chilled mixture.
  6. Serve with some extra nutmeg sprinkled on top.

Apple Cider Hot Toddy

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces apple cider
  • 1 shot butterscotch schnapps
  • 1/2 shot whiskey
  • lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Warm cider until just simmering.
  2. Add a dash of lemon juice to your mug.
  3. Add rum and whiskey to your mug.
  4. Ladle in your hot cider, and enjoy.
 
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Posted by on December 22, 2011 in Blog, Recipe Box

 

Holiday Cookies

Holiday Cookies

Over the river and through the woods,
To the grocer store we go
The Tech knows the way
To have cookies today
With frosting as white as snow, oh!!!!

Just a little Holiday humor (lol)

Just like a good carol; nothing will put you into a holiday spirit quite like baking some fun and festive cookies. While there are as many types of cookies as there are holidays to honor, I feel that there is nothing more versatile than the taste of a well made sugar cookie. However, they have to be homemade.  To date I have seen no supermarket or store truly capture the flavor in an industrial kitchen.  Part of that is due to their use of shortening in cookies.  It has its time, place and uses but when you only have a few ingredients every one counts for flavor, and shortening just doesn’t have any.  So these little jewels are packed with butter. They are fun, yummy and easy enough so that anyone, no matter the age or skill level, can create them. You can just ask my boyfriend Dave since I put him to work on this project as my version of Santa’s elf/sous chief.

You can never go wrong with a good sugar cookie and when you add in the festive time of year there is even more of a reason to get up and get in the kitchen and start baking. Throw on some music and make some coco; it’s a great way to spend a cold afternoon with the kids.  These cookies are also a great way to say thanks to your coworkers for listening to you for yet another year. We also can’t forget that you need to leave the big man a few cookies before you go to bed our you may end up with coal in your stocking the last thing you want to do is have a run in with Santa’s traveling companion Krampus.

Like many holiday activities I feel baking is also better with a little booze. In my recipe you will find I swapped out the milk for some Butterscotch Schnapps. The schnapps will help add more flavor to your cookies as wells as put a little festive red coloring in your cheeks while you bake. You can also try substituting the schnapps for your favorite liqueur like Amaretto or Grand Marnier.

There are a few things to remember before you begin your cookie baking adventure. The cookie dough needs to be left in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours after preparing, so there is nothing wrong with preparing the dough the day before. Be sure to cover the flat surface you are using to cut out your cookie with confectioner’s sugar; it will help prevent the cookies from sticking. When you start to apply the icing remember less is more. The frosting can quickly start to run all over like cheap maschera if too much is applied. This doesn’t mean you should be a Scrooge with the frosting, but I would slowly apply the frosting to the cookies to insure neatness. You can use a zip lock bag as a make shift piping bag by adding frosting, twisting the empty part of the bag together and snipping a small part of the tip-off. The last reminder is that by playing carols in the background and drinking eggnog (recipe coming soon) your cookies are sure to turn out better.

After picking up a few cookie cutters you like at your neighborhood store you are now ready to go. Cookies are meant to be fun so if you’re in a Grinchy mood I say take a few swigs of the schnapps, turn up the music and have some fun.

Sugar Cookies

Dough Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Butterscotch Schnapps

Tools:

  • Kitchenaid or Hand Mixer
  • Cookie Sheet
  • Cookie Cutter
  • Rolling Pin
  • Parchment Paper

Directions:

  1. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. If you don’t have a sifter then make sure all the dry ingredients are mixed well otherwise no matter how long your dough rests it will not be right.
  2. In your kitchenaid or large bowl place butter and sugar, beat until it lightens in color.
  3. Add the egg and schnapps, continue to beat to combine.
  4. Put mixer on low-speed, gradually add flour, and beat until mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl.
  5. Divide the dough in half or thirds and wrap in parchment paper, refrigerate for 2 hours. at least.
  6. Preheat oven to 375F.
  7. Sprinkle surface where you will roll out dough with powdered sugar. Remove your wrapped pack of dough from refrigerator, sprinkle rolling-pin with powdered sugar, and roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick.
  8. Get the kids and cut away your shapes. Place at least 1/2 inch apart on greased baking sheet or parchment 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to turn brown around the edges.

Icing Ingredients:

  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tbs milk
  • 1 tbs honey
  • ¼ tsp extract (Vanilla, Almond, Rum, etc)
  • Food coloring to match your need

Directions:

  1. This one is pretty easy, combine all ingredients in a bowl, except for coloring and mix well.
  2. Once Icing has formed color as your needs dictate.

Cookie Construction:

  1. Once cookies have cooled completely you can ice them.
  2. I recommend either making a make shift piping bag, or just using a small 1/2 tsp measure to spread on top.
  3. Remember less is more and you can always touch up with more, but too much will run everywhere.
  4. Once again let the cookies dry for a few hours, before storing in air tight containers.
  5. Mail them, hand them out, or by all means eat them not that it will matter but these cookies will last a week, and recommend storing them in a refrigerator.

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2011 in Blog, Recipe Box

 

Butterscotch Trifle

Butterscotch Trifle

Years ago when I was in Massachusetts I fell in love with a dessert from a local restaurant. It was a simple butterscotch pudding served with a dollop of whipped cream. Now I know pudding desserts are usually no more complicated than taking a can opener to an industrial vat of no name pudding and topping it with a substance that’s not quite cream yet not quite spackle either. Which is why I was surprised when the waitress recommended it and I was left wanting more. Finally some one had gotten it right. This was not a meek gloppy pudding. This was full flavored with butter and dark sugars; gone were the artificial flavors, unnatural thickeners and starches.

I had to have the recipe, but I was denied not once but twice. They insisted that if they let out their recipe then I wouldn’t come back. That was debatable but I could understand their position. Months later I returned and to my disappointment the item had been taken off the menu and my inquiries to its whereabouts were met with quizzical glares as if they had never heard of it. Finally, in one last vain attempt I emailed the owner and pleaded my case. I figured since they did not offer it anymore than what harm would it be to allow me the recipe, and fortunately they agreed. The timing was perfect as I needed a dessert for Thanksgiving.

A quick glance at the ingredients told me that it was going to make a big batch, and sure enough I ended up with a vat of pudding. Honestly it was a pasta pot full, thankfully New Englanders have a fascination for pudding and before long it was gone. Given its size and sheer richness this was a once a year endeavor despite the pleas of my family. Years have gone by now and I have adapted the recipe to a more manageable quantity. I still make it around the holidays and it still tastes great but I was beginning to lose my excitement for it. I decided that the next time I made it I would do something different and sure enough an opportunity presented itself. My friends have a Pre-Thanksgiving party every year and I decided I was well overdue for making a dessert.

The thing about pudding is that no matter how good it is, pudding will always be rather one note; meaning the  sweetness and texture are always going to be consistent. While these things can be good; it also means your palette can get bored. I figured the best thing to do was to add some texture in the form of vanilla wafers and a complimentary flavor in the form of bananas. Keeping with the tradition of adding an alcohol into a trifle I opted for some Bailey’s Irish cream. The results were an improvement but the vanilla wafers became to soggy and eventually became lost in the pudding as everyone dug in. No matter how pretty a trifle looks, it will always loses it’s luster once the first scoop is taken from it.

Back to the drawing board I went. It wasn’t a complete failure.  The flavors were there, but it just needed the right foundation. My second opportunity came during our real Thanksgiving holiday. We were invited to our friend Paul’s home. To those of you who know SweetPaul and his online magazine you know that I would have to step my game up. I decided for presentation sake to make individual trifles instead of one large one, and instead of cookies I decided to use a layer of sponge cake that will be soaked in Bailey’s.  To top it off I would add some Bailey’s whipped cream.

The results this time were spot on. The sponge cake kept its texture while complementing the pudding and by preparing individual size trifles it allowed for the presentation to hold up.  The dessert was now ready to share; below I give you the recipes for all three components and instructions on how to assemble.

Butterscotch Pudding

Ingredients:

  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 lb dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 lb light brown sugar
  • 3 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2  heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup corn starch
  • 5 eggs yolks
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tbsp Salt

Directions:

  1. In a heavy bottom pot combine sugars (light brown and dark borwn), salt and butter.  Bring to a boil. Maintain a boil for about 5 minutes to make the butterscotch. Remove the butterscotch and set aside.
  2. Combine milk and cream and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the butterscotch to the milk and simmer until combined.
  3. Combine the rest of the milk and cornstarch.  Whisk and then add to butterscotch stirring well combine. The puddingwill begin to thicken.
  4. In a separate bowl whisk vanilla extract into egg yolks, then add a cup of the hot liquid to the eggs and whisk rapidly to temper the eggs. Add the eggs to the pudding and stir to combine.
  5. Continue to cook on low until pudding has thickened enough and is consistently smooth throughout.
  6. Strain the pudding through a mesh strainer to insure that no cooked eggs are hiding in the pudding.
  7. Place plastic wrap over pudding and chill and if my mother or sister are around, hide well.

Vanilla Sponge Cake (Genoise)

Ingredients:

  • 8 eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 cp sugar
  • 2 1/2 tbps honey
  • 2 cups pastry flour or cake flour, sifted

Tools:

  • Double Boiler
  • 2 9″inch cake pans or jelly roll pan
  • parchment paper
  • candy thermometer

Directions:

  1. Place a pot half filled with water over high heat and bring it to a simmer. To make a double boiler set a large mixing bowl over the simmering water.
  2. Place the whole eggs, egg yolks, sugar, and honey in the mixing bowl and make an egg foam by whisking the mixture to 113 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 7 – 10 minutes.
  3. When it is done, it will be hot to the touch, tripled in volume, and light in color.  The sugar will have completely dissolved.  If you dip the whisk into the mixture and pull it out, the batter should fall back into the bowl in a thick ribbon.
  4. Remove the mixing bowl from the heat and whip the batter with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until it cools, increases in volume, stiffens slightly and becomes pale yellow, about 7 – 10 minutes. Take the time to whip it well; if the mixture is under whipped, the cake will be dense.
  5. Fold in the flour with a rubber spatula until the flour is no longer visible, make sure to fold to the bottom of the bowl.  I missed this the first time and my cake fell in places.  Also do not over mix or the batter will deflate.
  6. Fill buttered and parchment paper-lined 8-inch round cake pans 3/4 full with batter.
  7. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until well-risen and golden brown, about 30 minutes.
  8. Let the cake cool slightly. Unmold, remove parchment paper and finish cooling on a wire rack. The baked genoise can be stored in the freezer for 2 to 3 weeks if well wrapped in plastic wrap. Return it to room temperature before using it.

Bailey’s Whipped Cream

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp sugar tbsp
  • 2 tbsp Bailey’s Irish Cream

Tools:

  • Hand Mixer or a Strong Hand & Whisk

Directions:

  1. In a cold bowl beat the cream until it starts to thicken and add the sugar and Irish cream, continue beating until you get firm peaks.  Your whipped cream will hold its shape when held upside down.

 

English Trifle:

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe bananas sliced thin
  • Butterscotch Pudding
  • Bailey’s Whipped Cream
  • Bailey’s Irish Cream
  • Sponge Cake

Directions:

  1. Look for serving bowls that are straight; that way you can use them to cut out the exact size of cake you need. Otherwise; you will be cutting the cake to match the base of your dishware.
  2. Douse your layer of sponge cake in a little bit of Irish Cream.  Use your thumb over the top of the bottle to control the amount you pour.  You don’t need to drown the cake, and if you do, you will lose all that taste and texture you get from baking your own.
  3. Next lay down a thin layer of banana on top of the cake.  Make sure its just a single layer.
  4. Now its time to add your pudding; make sure to keep it level and avoid having it touch the sides of the top so your whipped cream can show through.
  5. Finally a layer of the whipped cream; make sure to tap the dessert on the counter to make sure its level and all air bubbles are out.  You can either make a smooth top like I have done here, or you can embellish with a fancy design or peak in the whipped cream.  I kept it simple and decided to dust it with cake crumbs and a sliced banana.

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2011 in Blog, Recipe Box

 

Fall Harvest Soup

Fall Harvest Soup

Fall in the Northeast hits fast sometimes. One day you’re in shorts breaking a sweat while playing with the dog, and the next day you can’t find your dog in the snow that just fell. For the latter its time to break out the soup pot and make something delicious. This time of year gourds are all in season and with a little creativity you can make a great tasting soup that I use as an appetizer or as a meal itself with some sourdough bread. This soup uses two different squashes and for some brightness I have added some apple. Seasoning the soup is some curry powder to balance the sweet with spice. I also serve it with some toasted hulled pumpkin seeds (called pepitas) on top for presentation and taste. If you want to use this soup as an appetizer for some grand meal it pairs well pork and poultry so this bountiful soup would be welcomed on any Thanksgiving table.

Fall Harvest Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 acorn squash
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 apple peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp rosemary dried
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup pepitas
  • salt and pepper to taste

Tools:

  • Heavy stock pot or Dutch Oven
  • small pot
  • strainer
  • blender or stick blender
  • cookie sheet or sheet pan
  • olive oil

Directions:

  1. Start by preheating your oven to 400F.  Cut the squash in half and remove pulp and seeds, but do not discard.  Oil the squash and place on your sheet pan.  Roast in oven for 30 minutes
  2. While squash is in the oven, in a small pot add milk, cream, squash pulp and seeds.  Bring to a gentle simmer and allow to seep for 15 minutes stirring often.  Once done simmering, strain the cream from the pulp using a strainer and set aside. (note you could skip this step, but I wouldn’t it adds a lot of flavor)
  3. In your heavy pot cook your onions, apple and 1 tbsp oil on medium high heat until they start to become translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add in your rosemary, curry powder and cayenne and cook for 3 minutes to bloom the spices.  Once you can really start to smell them add in your chicken stock and bring to a simmer.
  4. Your squash should be done now, so remove from oven and allow to cool so that you can handle them.  Using a spoon you will be able to easily separate the skin from the flesh.  Add the squash and cream mixture to the simmering stock.
  5. Allow the soup to simmer for about 15 minutes and then take off from the heat.  Add a bit of oil to your sheet pan that you used for the squash and toss in the pepitas with a little salt.  Roast the seeds for about 5 minutes or until they become fragrant, be careful not to scorch them.
  6. Either carefully ladle the soup into a blender to purée or use a stick blender and blend until you have a smooth soup.  If you are using a blender make sure to do this in batches and make sure you crack the top of your blender or leave it open and cover with a towel.  Blending hot liquids will cause pressure to build and blow off the top if you try to secure it.  Trust me on this one.

Your soup is ready.  Garnish with some pepitas and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2011 in Blog

 

Pozole Rojo

Pozole Rojo

I have this habit.  Whenever I hear something in conversation or read about something in passing that I don’t know I look it up.  I honestly don’t know what I did before the likes of smart phones and wikipedia.  I have so much useless trivia packed into my brain these days that I would probably do a passable job on Jeopardy.  With that being said, last week someone somewhere mentioned something about Pozole.  I had no idea what it was other than a time-consuming dish and possibly mexican in origin.  Looking back I think it was mentioned on an episode of Top Chef.  As my research confirmed it is a Mexican dish, and an old one at that.  So old that it is in fact Pre-Colombian, I will spare you the details of its original ingredients, but for the past few hundred years its been made with pork, hominy, and chilies.  It sounds pretty simple but a pozole is really no different from a marinara, chili, or even a mac and cheese; while the base ingredients are the same everyone has their own recipe for it.

After looking at about a dozen different recipes I decided on keeping mine basic.  There are three main types of Pozoles: white having a clear broth, green getting its color from pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds), and red made from a variety of chilies.  Honestly a hearty spiced soup is just what would hit the spot now with the colder weather sitting in.  It’s important to note that just because chilies are involved and the soup is spicy, it does not mean that it will be overpowering to eat.  Many chilies are flavorful with fruity notes that add such complexity to dishes and offer no more spicy heat than say black peppercorns.  This soup was packed with flavor but I also wanted something I could feed to my mother.  With all that in mind I settled on a combination of chilies that are readily available even here in the Northeast.  Dried Ancho and Guajillo chilies may not have been on your shopping list before but trust me there is a good chance both are in your supermarket now.  They may not be in the “Spice Aisle” with all the other McCormick bottles.  In fact, I got mine in the Spanish aisle and paid no more than $4 for both chilies.

For the pork there were a couple of different routes I could have gone.  A pozole is going to cook for a while and since there were only a few actual ingredients I wanted the full flavor of the pork to come out in the broth.  Only dark meat can really meet those criteria.  Dark meat can stand up to a long cooking time without drying, and its flavor is superior to any white meat cut.  After the two hours needed to cook you end up with tender morsels of pork perfect for a stew.  What do I mean by dark meat pork?  Well if you have seen a full t-bone chop or full pork loin you will notice the white part that has almost no fat, and then a section of darker meat that is usually a little fatter and more tender.  That’s called the tenderloin, while the white part is simply called the loin.  Just getting a boneless tenderloin though I think would make it a little one-dimensional so I opt for a cut you may not have heard of.  It’s the Country Style Ribs, while it actually has no rib bones, it is still connected to the loins towards the blade end.  These “ribs” offer flavor, meat, fat, and some bones a perfect equation to manifest a porky stew likes of which would put most beef chilies to shame.

The last ingredient which you may have missed in that aisle is Hominy.  It is going to play the part of the thickener and starch in the stew.  It’s the native american equal to noodles or bread.  I find it easier to get the canned version and just drain and rinse them before adding them to the stew.  It will lend texture and a faint earthy corn tortilla flavor.

Pozole is usually made on special/ceremonial occasions, but with this recipe one can easily make this on a winter Saturday afternoon, or to give a nice a change-up to chili while watching the game.  Part of the appeal of this dish is what you add to it at the end.  Here I add some avocado and tortilla strips, but you can easily add and any of the following in any combination: chopped onion, lime, sour cream, cheese, chicharrones, radishes, cilantro and so on.  This recipe will produce a deep earthy stew, rich in flavor like a mole but not as heavy as a beef stew.  The chili flavors are prominent and I found myself saying “It tastes like the best parts of every good mexican food I’ve had, without any of the greasy, gloppy cheese covered items pushed as authentic”.  When I do this again I think I will raise the heat factor a little to give it some extra heat by adding some cayenne.  That addition is completely up to you though.

Pozole Rojo

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups water
  • 4 tsp chicken base (myer’s or better than bouillon)
  • 4 pounds country-style pork ribs
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 2 ounces chilies ancho and guajillo (or any dried combination)
  • 1/2 large onion, large chunks
  • 2 15 ounce cans of Hominy (goya)
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp honey

Tools:

  • 1 large stock pot or dutch oven at least 6 or 7 quarts capacity
  • stick blender or regular blender
  • kitchen shears

Directions:

  1. Place ribs, water, chicken base and garlic (minus two cloves) into the pot and bring to a boil over high heat uncovered.
  2. Once boiling turn heat down to a simmer, and skim any proteins that may have coagulated on top (aka the foamy stuff).  Simmer for an hour and a half.
  3. While the pork is simmering, remove the stems of the chilies and discard any seeds and internal membranes.  Cut the chilies into strips with your scissors and put in a medium bowl.  Add one cup of boiling water to the chilies and let sit for 30 minutes.
  4. Open the cans of hominy and drain and rinse the hominy with cold water and set aside.
  5. After your chilies have soaked, add the two remaining cloves of garlic and the onion to the chilies and soaking water.  Use your stick blender to purée all the ingredients until it is all consistently smooth.  You will have a deep red sauce.
  6. After the pork has cooked, remove the pork from the broth and using a couple of forks separate the meat from the bones and excess fat.  This should be easy as it will be super tender.
  7. Once done add the pork back to the broth, add hominy, chili mixture, oregano, and honey and simmer for 30 more minutes.
  8. Once the soup is done you top it with any of the above suggestions.  I used some Avocado diced with a little lemon juice and tortilla strips but try experimenting and see what you like best.

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2011 in Blog, Recipe Box