Monday, May 26, 2014

R+D Kitchen: Deviled Eggs

On one of the better dates I've had in months, I was taken to a restaurant here in Dallas called R+D Kitchen.  The food is absolutely fabulous, but the best part is that the kitchen is open to the dining room.  You can watch all the workers milling around, preparing culinary works of art.  Only problem is that it becomes very difficult to decide exactly which of the delicious items parading by you would actually like to order.

One of the dishes they are best known for are their deviled eggs.  The recipe is an absolute secret, but you can bet I sat there for twenty minutes, savoring the taste on my tongue, trying to figure out what they had done.  I also spent an hour on the internet digging up pieces of the secret that had been divulged to various other diners.  This is the recipe I came up with.  It's pretty darn delicious, with a surprising crunch and a sweet yet tangy flavor.

R+D Kitchen Deviled Eggs

6 large hard-boiled eggs
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
¼ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
2 tablespoons bread and butter pickles, chopped
1½ tablespoons celery, chopped
1 teaspoon chives, minced
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon tarragon, minced

Cut each egg in half lengthwise. Pop yolks into a bowl and set white halves aside. Fluff yolks with a whisk and fold in remaining ingredients. Stuff white halves with yolk mixture.

Makes 12 egg halves

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Cooking Light: Truffled Asparagus Crostini

I always knows it's spring when the asparagus starts showing up at the grocery store and the tag doesn't say "Chile".  I have nothing against flying things in out-of-season, especially when you just have that craving, but it's always nicer when it comes from somewhere in the vicinity of your house.  And when you're looking for a good way to take advantage of fresh vegetables, nothing really beats mounding them on top of some crusty bread.  This is a pretty fantastic way to take advantage of all that asparagus at the market, but honestly, you could just mound the cooked asparagus in a bowl, shred the cheese on top, and serve it as a side dish if you're not super into bread.

Truffled Asparagus Crostini
Adapted from Cooking Light magazine, May 2006

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided use
12 (1-inch) slices French bread baguette
1 pound asparagus spears, trimmed and chopped into ½-inch pieces
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon truffle oil
½ cup (2 ounces) grated Manchego cheese

Preheat broiler.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Toast bread slices until lightly browned.  Add another tablespoon of butter, turn the bread slices, and toast the other side.  Remove bread from the pan and set aside.

In the same skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Add asparagus; cook 3 to 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Season with salt, garlic powder, and black pepper.  Remove from heat and add truffle oil; toss well to coat.

Top each bread slice with 1 rounded tablespoon asparagus mixture; place on a baking sheet. Sprinkle cheese evenly over crostini. Broil 1 minute or until cheese melts. Serve warm.

Makes 6 servings

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Cooking Light: Lemon Angel Food Cupcakes

I've always kinda thought that angel food cake tasted like...nothing.  Admit it, I'm right.  So I was never a huge fan.  But what I've discovered is that it just needs a little help.  It needs some lemon to perk it up.  And in cupcake size, it's just the right serving.  Icing never hurts either.

Lemon Angel Food Cupcakes
From Cooking Light magazine, May 2006

½ cup cake flour (about 2 ounces)
¾ cup powdered sugar
¾ cup egg whites (about 5 large eggs)
⅛ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind

Lemon Frosting:
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Edible flowers such as pansies or rosebuds (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Place 16 paper muffin cup liners in muffin cups. Set aside.

Lightly spoon cake flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Sift together flour and ¾ cup powdered sugar into a medium bowl; repeat the procedure 2 times.

Beat egg whites and salt with a mixer at high speed until frothy (about 1 minute). Add cream of tartar, and beat until soft peaks form. Add ½ cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Sprinkle flour mixture over egg white mixture, ¼ cup at a time; fold in after each addition. Stir in vanilla and rind.

Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Bake at 350° for 18 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pan; let cool completely on a wire rack.

To prepare frosting, beat butter with a mixer at high speed until fluffy. Gradually add 2 cups powdered sugar; beat at low speed just until blended. Add milk and lemon juice; beat until fluffy. Add more lemon juice as needed to adjust the consistency. Spread 2 tablespoons lemon frosting over each cupcake. Garnish with edible pansies and rosebuds, if desired.

Note:  Sifting the flour mixture thoroughly three times incorporates the powdered sugar for a light, tender cupcake.

Makes 16 cupcakes

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Simply Recipes: Bread and Butter Pickles

There was a barbecue restaurant out in East Texas near where my parents had a lakehouse.  The barbecue was good, but the best part was the homemade bread and butter pickles they put out on the condiment tray.  Those things were amazing: sweet and tart and crunchy.  I've always wondered how to make them, but I never really bothered to search out a recipe until I ran across some little pickling cucumbers at the farmer's market.  I bought a whole bag on a whim, and then realized that I should probably DO something with them.

While canning seems to eat up whole days, in this case I think it's worth it.  I got five jars of luscious pickles, and they'll keep for probably a year (if I don't eat them all first).  They go with pretty much everything.  I'm starting to sound like a real Southerner, putting out my pickles and chow-chow with each meal.

Bread and Butter Pickles
Adapted from Simply Recipes blog

3 pounds pickling cucumbers
1 pound white or yellow onions, thinly sliced
¼ cup pickling salt
¾ cup white vinegar
1½ cups apple cider vinegar
2¼ cups sugar
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¾ teaspoon celery seeds
1 inch cinnamon stick
6 allspice berries
6 whole cloves
¼ teaspoon turmeric
5 pint-size canning jars

Carefully rinse the cucumbers, scrubbing away any dirt that may have stuck to the ribs. Slice off 1/8-inch from the ends and discard. Slice the cucumbers in ¼-inch thick slices, place in a large bowl. Add the sliced onions and pickling salt. Stir in so that the salt is well distributed among the cucumber slices.  Cover with a clean tea towel (thin towel, not terry cloth). Cover with a couple of inches of ice. Put in the refrigerator and let chill for 4 hours. Discard ice. Rinse the cucumber and onion slices thoroughly, drain.  Rinse and drain again.

If you are planning to store your pickles outside of the refrigerator for any length of time, you will need to sterilize your jars before canning, and heat the filled jars in a hot water bath after canning. To sterilize the jars for canning, place empty jars on a metal rack in a large 16-quart canning pot. (Jars must rest on a rack in the pot, not on the bottom of the pot). Fill with warm water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to warm to keep the jars hot and ready for canning. Remove with tongs or jar lifters one by one as you can the cucumbers. Sterilize the lids by bringing a pot of water to a boil and pouring water over a bowl containing the lids.

In a 4- or 6-quart pot, place the vinegars, sugar, and all of the spices. Bring to a boil. Start packing the hot jars with the cucumbers and onions. First pack a jar to an inch from the rim with the vegetables. Then pour hot vinegar sugar syrup over the vegetables to a ½-inch from the rim. Wipe the rim clean with a paper towel. Place a sterilized lid on the jar. Secure with a metal screw band.

If you are planning to store pickles outside of refrigerator, process the filled jars in a hot water bath for at least 15 minutes. Return filled jars to the same canning pot with its already hot water. Water level needs to be at least one inch above the top of the cans. Bring to a boil and let boil hard for 15 minutes, or 20 minutes for altitudes of 1,001 to 6,000 feet. Over 6,000 feet, boil for 25 minutes. Remove jars from pot. Let cool down to room temperature. Jars should make a popping sound as their lids seal. If a lid doesn't properly seal, do not store the jar outside of the refrigerator.