Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sunny Anderson: Butterflied Cornish Hens with Sage Butter

Around this time of year you're getting really tired of turkey and ham.  Turkey and ham.  Turkey and ham.  But there's still one more celebration to go.  And burgers aren't on the menu.  So what do you do?  You reach for those tiny little chickens that make you feel special.  I mean, who doesn't feel special with their very own little hen sitting on their plate?  And even better if it's covered in bacon and butter, right?  Because I think you can gain a couple more pounds before tomorrow morning and the ugliness that is New Year's resolutions.

Butterflied Cornish Hens with Sage Butter
From Sunny Anderson

4 (1¾-pound) Cornish game hens, butterflied
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
5 to 7 sage leaves, finely chopped
1 lemon, zested
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil, for sauteing
4 strips bacon, chopped

Preheat oven to 425°F. Place hens on a sheet tray fitted with a cooling rack in the refrigerator to dry skin out for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, in a small pan over medium heat, melt butter with sage, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Remove hens from refrigerator. Preheat 2 large sauté pans over medium heat, lightly coat with oil. Season hens with salt and pepper and sear, skin side down, in the pans. Sear until skin caramelizes and turns golden brown and crispy, about 7 to 10 minutes. Flip birds over, and baste with sage butter. Sprinkle tops with chopped bacon and place in preheated oven to finish cooking, 25 to 30 minutes, basting occasionally. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 4 servings

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Gourmet: Creamed Spinach

This may be my favorite side dish ever.  Ever.  This is everything that is beautiful about getting your greens, even though they're covered in cream.  And this spinach goes with just about any dish.  Steak?  Definitely.  Baked chicken?  Of course.  Fried fish?  Yep.  Chocolate cake?  Okay, maybe not everything, but pretty darn close.

Creamed Spinach
Adapted from Gourmet magazine, December 2004

2 (16-ounce) bags chopped frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1¼ cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 small onion or large shallot, finely chopped
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
¼ cup grated Gruyère or Parmesan cheese (optional)

Heat milk and cream in a small saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until warm. Meanwhile, cook onion in butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Whisk in flour and cook roux, whisking, 3 minutes. Add warm milk mixture in a fast stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps, and simmer, whisking, until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in nutmeg, spinach, and salt, white pepper, cayenne, and cheese and cook, stirring, until heated through.

Makes 10 servings

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Wolfgang Puck: Strawberry Shortcake

I think I have discovered the pinnacle of strawberry shortcake recipes.  I know that's quite a statement, but this is quite a shortcake. The cake is buttery and flaky outside, with an incredibly tender middle.  The strawberries are elevated to boozy new heights.  And homemade whipped cream just makes everything better.  I could probably just eat this for the next week and be perfectly happy.  And yes, I know it's December.  Don't judge.

Strawberry Shortcake
From Wolfgang Puck

2¾ cups cake flour
¼ cup granulated sugar, plus additional to sprinkle on top
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 2 tablespoon pieces
1 cup heavy cream, plus additional to brush on top
2 pints fresh strawberries, stemmed
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons kirsch
½ teaspoon orange zest
½ cup sweetened whipped cream

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the flour, ¼ cup sugar, baking powder, and salt and pulse 2 or 3 times. Add the chilled butter and process just until combined. With the motor running, pour the cream through the feed tube, stopping just before the dough forms a ball.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead, forming a smooth ball. Do not overwork. Roll out the dough into a round, ¾-inch thick. Using a 3-inch cookie cutter, cut out 8 circles. (Knead the scraps together and reroll as required.)

Arrange the 8 circles on the prepared baking tray, brush the tops with cream and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are golden and firm to the touch. Cool on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, rinse and drain the strawberries. Cut each berry into thick slices and toss with the sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice, kirsch, and orange zest, and gently mix. Set aside.

When ready to serve, split each shortcake in half and warm slightly. Top the bottom half with strawberries and cream. Then put the rounded top on the cake and top with additional berries and cream.

Makes 8 servings

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Bobby Flay: Coffee-Rubbed Steak

Bobby Flay is another one of those chefs who has never failed me.  Ever.  Each time I make one of his recipes, I get something super delicious.  Like this giant hunk of fabulous meat love.  I seriously could never be a committed vegetarian because of things like this.  And I'm okay with that.  Sear on, delicious cow.

Coffee-Rubbed Steak
Adapted from Bobby Flay

4 (1½-inch thick) filet mignon steaks (8 ounces each) or 2 pounds ribeye steaks (1-inch thick), at room temperature
2 tablespoons olive oil
Spice Rub

Coat the steaks with the olive oil and sprinkle both sides of the steaks generously with Spice Rub.

Preheat the oven to 425°F.  Sear in a hot iron skillet until a crust has form, about 2 minutes on the first side, then flip the steaks and cook for another 2 minutes before transferring the pan in the oven. Cook until the thermometer registers 130-140°F for medium rare, about 3 to 5 more minutes.  Remove the steaks from the pan, cover, and let rest for five minutes before serving.

Makes 4 servings

Spice Rub
1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
1 tablespoon finely ground espresso beans or instant espresso powder
2 teaspoons Spanish paprika
2 teaspoons packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
¾ teaspoon ground coriander
¾ teaspoon dried oregano
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon chile de árbol powder or cayenne pepper

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.