Saturday, January 31, 2015

Nigel Slater: Vanilla Bean Seville Orange Marmalade

I can't believe it.  I actually found and acquired the incredibly elusive Seville orange.  They're like phantoms in the night.  Or maybe Crosse & Blackwell is absorbing the entire world supply or something.  I hurried home with my "orange gold", and quickly...  Okay, quickly is probably not the best word here.  Over two days, I managed to coax those oranges into something incredibly delicious.  And the fact that I now have multiple jars of marmalade at my disposal makes me a little giddy.

Vanilla Bean Seville Orange Marmalade
Adapted from Nigel Slater, as seen in The Guardian

6 Seville oranges
1 lemon
3½ cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Using a small, particularly sharp kitchen knife, score four lines down each fruit from top to bottom, as if you were cutting the fruit into quarters. Let the knife cut through the peel but without piercing the fruit. Cut each quarter of peel into fine shreds (or thicker slices if you like a chunkier texture). Squeeze each of the peeled oranges and lemons into a jug, removing and reserving all the pulp and pips.

Make the juice up to 8½ cups with cold water, pouring it into the bowl with the shredded peel. You may need more than one bowl here. Tie the reserved pith, squeezed-out orange and lemon pulp and the pips in muslin bag and push into the peel and juice. Set aside in a cold place and leave overnight.

The next day, tip the juice and shredded peel into a large stainless steel or enameled pan and push the muslin bag down under the juice. Bring to the boil then lower the heat so that the liquid continues to simmer merrily. It is ready when the peel is totally soft and translucent. This can take anything from 40 minutes to a good hour-and-a-half, depending purely on how thick you have cut your peel.

Once the fruit is ready, lift out the muslin bag and leave it in a bowl until it is cool enough to handle. Add the sugar to the peel and juice and turn up the heat, bringing the marmalade to a rolling boil. Squeeze every last bit of juice from the reserved muslin bag into the pan. Skim off any froth that rises to the surface. (If you don't your preserve will be cloudy.) Leave at a fast boil for 15 minutes. Remove a tablespoon of the preserve, put it on a plate, and pop it into the fridge for a few minutes. If a thick skin forms on the surface of the refrigerated marmalade, then it is ready and you can switch the pan off. If the tester is still liquid, then let the marmalade boil for longer. Test every 10 to 15 minutes. Some mixtures can take up to 50 minutes to reach setting consistency.  When the mixture is ready, remove from the heat and add the vanilla bean paste.

If canning, ladle the hot marmalade into sterilized jars, one at a time, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Wipe any marmalade from the rims of the jars. Center lids on jars. Twist on the bands until fingertip tight. Place filled jars in the canning rack inside the canner, ensuring jars are covered by 1-2 inches of water. Place lid on canner. Bring water to gentle, steady boil. Process jars in boiling water for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars from water and cool. Check lids for seal after 12 to 24 hours.

Makes 4 half pint jars

Friday, January 30, 2015

Broccoli Blue Cheese Casserole

I hate having to throw out the remainders of expensive ingredients.  For example, I may only have needed 1 tablespoon of crème fraîche, but I had to buy eight ounces of it.  In this case, I may have only needed a sprinkle of blue cheese crumbles, but I had to buy a whole friggin' container.  So basically, this casserole saves the blue cheese day.  And it's super delicious at it.

Broccoli Blue Cheese Casserole

1½ pounds broccoli crowns
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
4 ounces cream cheese
½ cup blue cheese crumbles
10 Ritz crackers, crumbled
¼ cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cut broccoli crowns into flowerets, discarding the stems.  Boil flowerets in water or chicken broth for about 5 minutes, until just beginning to soften.  Drain broccoli and set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt butter.  When butter begins to sizzle, sprinkle with flour and stir for 2 to 3 minutes until the flour begins to smell nutty, but not is browning.  Whisk in the milk.  Simmer over medium heat until the mixture begins to thicken.  Add the Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, cream cheese, and blue cheese.  Whisk until the cheeses have melted and the sauce is smooth.  Add the cooked broccoli and stir to coat.

Pour the broccoli mixture into a 2-quart casserole dish.  Top with crackers and almonds.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the casserole is bubbly and the topping is golden brown.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Piña Colada Muffins

I've never been a huge fan of super-sweet muffins.  I figure if they're that sweet, they have fallen over the very thin line into cupcake territory.  Plus, I should at least attempt to be somewhat healthy with one meal of the day, right?  So, voilà, pineapple-coconut-rum muffins with very little sweetener and lots of good stuff.  The coconut flavor wasn't quite as pronounced as I really would have liked, but I think that can easily be solved with a little coconut extract next time around.

Piña Colada Muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ cup dry milk, sifted to remove lumps
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple
3 tablespoons rum
¼ cup coconut cream
Whole milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons canola oil
½ cup sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Insert paper muffin cups into one 12-cup muffin pan.

Drain the pineapple into a measuring cup.  You should have about ¼ cup of juice.  Add the rum and coconut cream to the pineapple juice.  Add whole milk to make 1 cup.  Add the egg, honey, and oil.  Mix well.

Combine the flours, dry milk, baking powder, and salt.  Create a well in the middle and pour the liquid ingredients into the bowl.  Stir gently just until flour is moistened.  Fold in the drained pineapple.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups.  Sprinkle the top of each muffin with coconut.  Bake for 15 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Serve warm with butter.

Makes 12 muffins

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Better Homes and Gardens: Hamburger Pie

Ah, another dish of my childhood.  Hamburger pie.  That isn't pie.  Honestly, I have no idea why this is called "pie".  Maybe the mashed potatoes are supposed to resemble meringue.  But honestly, does it matter?  Call it Magical Beef and Potato Casserole if you want, but give it a try.  Your tongue will thank you.

Hamburger Pie
Adapted from the 1974 edition of the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook

1 pound ground beef
½ cup onion, chopped
Dash salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (15-ounce) can green beans, drained
1 (10¾-ounce) can condensed tomato soup
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
5 medium potatoes
½ cup warm milk
1 large egg, beaten
2 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cook the ground beef and onion until the meat is browned and crumbled. Drain off any grease that has collected and discard. Add salt, pepper, green beans, condensed soup, and Worcestershire sauce; pour into a greased casserole dish.

Peel and cube the potatoes. Cook in simmering water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes and mash while hot; add the milk and egg. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon the potatoes in mounds over the prepared casserole. Sprinkle the potatoes with Cheddar cheese. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the casserole is bubbly and the potatoes are beginning to brown.

Makes 6 servings

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Bake Your Day: Toffee Biscoff Gooey Butter Cake

I think the older I get, the more evil my sugary concoctions become.  I mean, first, Crack Pie.  Now this.  It's a Paula Deen-esque dessert taken to the next level.  And then the level after that.  Make sure to share with your friends, because I can totally see this being something you hoard for snacking in the light from the fridge long after bedtime.

Toffee Biscoff Gooey Butter Cake
Adapted from Bake Your Day blog

For the cake layer:
2 cups cake flour
½ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 large egg
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

For the Biscoff layer:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup Biscoff spread
1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar (about 3¾ cups)
1 (8-ounce) package Heath milk chocolate toffee bits (about 1½ cups)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and spray liberally with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt, and mix with a whisk until well combined. Add the egg, melted butter, milk, and vanilla, and mix well. Press the mixture into the prepared pan.

In the bowl of stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the beaten eggs, vanilla, and Biscoff spread, and beat on medium-high until smooth and creamy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, in batches, and mix until thoroughly combined. Fold in the toffee bits. Pour the Biscoff toffee mixture onto the cake layer, and use an offset spatula to spread evenly.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes; the edges will be set, the top will be shiny and the center will still be a slightly underdone; it will continue to cook while the cake cools. Cool the cake completely in the pan before cutting.

Makes 20 squares

Friday, January 09, 2015 Frangelico Mudslide

It's a little late in the evening for happy hour, but this is my own personal definition of happy hour.  I'm happy that this week of twelve hour days is over.  Very happy.  And to celebrate, I'm having a fabulous cocktail.  Because I deserve it.  Especially since it tastes like a chocolate milkshake.

Frangelico Mudslide

1 ounce Irish cream (such as Bailey's)
¾ ounce Frangelico
¾ ounce vodka
½ ounce coffee liqueur (such as Kahlua)

Shake and serve over ice.

Makes 1 delicious cocktail

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Hoppin' John with Collard Greens

I'm not a superstitious person.  I don't think I'm cursed if a black cat walks in front of me.  I'm not afraid to step on cracks in the sidewalk.  But I also like to cover my bases.  And if eating a bowl of blackeyed peas and collards will get my new year started off right, it certainly won't hurt to have a bowl.  It also helps that it's delicious.  Good luck with the new year, my friends!

Hoppin' John with Collard Greens

3 strips bacon, cut into batons
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeño, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
¼ pound collard greens, stem removed, sliced into ribbons
11 ounces fresh blackeyed peas (1 container)
1½ teaspoons Creole seasoning
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
4 cups chicken broth

In a skillet, cook bacon until fat is rendered and the bacon is starting to get crispy.  Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, and place it into the crock of a slow cooker.

Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, jalapeño, and garlic to the hot bacon fat, and cook until the onion is translucent and the other vegetables have softened slightly.  Pour the vegetables into the crock over the bacon.

Add the remaining 7 ingredients to the slow cooker, and stir to make sure everything is distributed evenly.  Cook on high for 5 hours, or low for 8. Serve with rice and Tabasco sauce.

Makes 8 servings