Saturday, October 31, 2015

Emeril Lagasse: Pumpkin Crème Brûlée

I'm not really one for making cookies that look like witch fingers or hot dogs that look like mummies.  But that certainly doesn't mean that I'm not in tune with the spirit of the season.  What season is that, you ask?  Pumpkin season, of course.  And here is another lovely contribution, what is basically the filling of a pumpkin pie with a crunchy sugar topping.  Doesn't get better than that.

Pumpkin Crème Brûlée
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse

2 cups heavy cream
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar, plus 4 teaspoons
8 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 cup mashed cooked pumpkin

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Arrange 8 (½-cup) ramekins or custard cups in a large metal baking pan.

In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, brown sugar, and ¼ cup granulated sugar. Bring to a bare simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until frothy and lemon-colored. Slowly add ¾ cup of the hot cream mixture, whisking constantly. Add the egg mixture to the remaining hot cream, and whisk. Add the vanilla bean paste, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin, and whisk until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Divide among the prepared custard cups.

Add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Bake until the custards are just set in the center but not stiff, 45 minutes to 55 minutes. Remove from the oven and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours or overnight.

Sprinkle each custard with ½ teaspoon of the remaining sugar. Using a kitchen torch, caramelize the sugar. (Alternately, preheat the broiler, and broil until the sugar melts and caramelizes, watching closely to avoid burning and rotating the cups, about 1 to 2 minutes.) Place on small dessert plates and serve.

Makes 8 servings

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Giada de Laurentiis: Mini Frittatas

I absolutely love breakfast, but I'm really bad about planning ahead for the week.  On the weekend you can have a lovely relaxed repast, but during the week you're lucky to grab something on your way out the door.  So I figured I would nip that problem in the bud and make something super easy to take me through a week of breakfasts.  These little frittatas are pretty much perfect for that, as they have all that lovely protein and reheat easily.  Problem solved.

Mini Frittatas
Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis

Nonstick cooking spray
5 large eggs
¼ cup whole milk
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
2 ounces thinly sliced ham, chopped
⅓ cup shredded Cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Spray a mini muffin tin (with 24 cups) with nonstick spray. Whisk the eggs, milk, pepper, salt, and parsley in a large bowl to blend well. Sprinkle the ham evenly in the muffin cups. Fill prepared muffin cups almost to the top with the egg mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake until the egg mixture puffs and is just set in the center, about 8 to 10 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, loosen the frittatas from the muffin cups and slide the frittatas onto a platter. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Feasting at Home: Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Mushrooms, Garlic, and Sage

It's that time of year.  The time when the squashes take over the grocery store, spilling out of crates all over the sidewalks.  You literally have to step over them.  So I figured why not do my part for the sake of the squashes and take one home with me?  And then sauté it in butter and garlic and truffle oil?  We do the deluxe treatment in this house.  And then you can still feel good about yourself because you just had a meatless dinner.  Claps all around.

Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Mushrooms, Garlic, and Sage
Adapted from Feasting at Home blog

1 small spaghetti squash (about 2½ pounds)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ red onion, chopped
12 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons fresh torn sage
1¼ teaspoons sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Generous pinch nutmeg
¼ cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
Drizzle truffle oil (optional)
Toasted pine nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Cut spaghetti squash in half and place open side down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 40 to 50 minutes.

While squash is baking, heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Sauté onions until just tender about 2 to 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, turn heat down to medium, and sauté until they begin to release their liquid, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and sage and continue cooking until mushrooms brown, about 4 minutes. Season generously with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

Check squash by piercing with the tip of a sharp knife to see if it's done. When tender, take out of the oven, turn over, and let it cool slightly until cool enough to handle, then scoop out seeds. Scoop out the spaghetti squash into the sauté pan with the mushrooms and stir to incorporate. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Stir in most of grated cheese, saving some for garnish. Place in a serving bowl, top with remaining cheese and a drizzle of truffle oil and sprinkling of pine nuts.

Makes 4 servings

Monday, October 19, 2015

Wolfgang Puck: Rotkohl (Braised Red Cabbage)

I think I missed all of the Oktoberfest parties in my area.  I'm not sure how I managed that. It's probably for the best though, as the food at these fests is more American and much, much less German. (Although I could do with some kaese spaetzle).  So when I saw a pretty red cabbage at the grocery store, my German heritage insisted that I do something to celebrate.

Rotkohl (Braised Red Cabbage)
Adapted from Wolfgang Puck

2 tablespoons peanut oil
½ medium red onion, sliced
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 cup red wine (such as Cabernet Sauvignon)
1 cup orange juice
Grated rind from 1 orange
½ cinnamon stick
1½ teaspoons ginger powder
Salt and pepper
2 pounds red cabbage, cut into julienne

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Heat a heavy casserole. Add peanut oil. Sauté red onion until translucent. Sprinkle in brown sugar and cook for a few minutes until it starts to caramelize.

Add sliced apples and deglaze with the red wine vinegar. Bring to a boil. Add red wine and orange juice, orange rind, cinnamon stick, ginger powder, and salt and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add red cabbage and continue to cook for about 10 minutes on top of the stove.

Cover cabbage with foil and bake in preheated oven for about 45 minutes. Remove. taste, and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

Makes 6 servings

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Pork Chops with Apples and Calvados Cream Sauce

I'm not normally such a big apple fan.  Sure, I like some homemade applesauce, but if there's a choice of pies, apple is not number one.  Or two.  Apples are just so...pedestrian.  But for some reason, this fall I've been all over the apples.  First with my Bourbon Hasselback Apples, now with some scrumptious porky apple goodness.  I put these on mashed potatoes, but if you're feeling uber-motivated, you could definitely rock some mashed butternut squash.

Pork Chops with Apples and Calvados Cream Sauce

4 (1-inch thick) loin pork chops (about 1½ pounds total)
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large shallot (about 2 ounces), finely chopped
2 Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled, and cut into 16 slices per apple
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup Calvados (French apple brandy)
½ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon celery salt
6 fresh sage leaves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, minced

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Sprinkle the pork chops liberally with salt and pepper, and then place them in the hot pan. Cook until lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove the chops to a plate.

Turn the heat down to medium and add the butter to the pan. Once the butter has melted, add the shallot and sauté until translucent. Add the apple and the brown sugar. Cook for 3 minutes, then add the Calvados, scraping up the bits on the bottom of the pan. Simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the cream, celery salt, sage, and parsley. Add the chops back to the pan along with any juices that have accumulated on the plate.

Cover and simmer over medium to medium-low heat for 20 minutes. Serve each chop topped with some apple slices and cream sauce.

Makes 4 servings

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread with Pecan Streusel

Everywhere I go, there are pumpkins.  It's just that time of year.  But instead of wanting to carve them, all I want to do is cook them.  Hollow out their insides and make them into something really yummy.  Okay, just kidding.  I would open a can and make them into something really yummy.  I would definitely jump all over some pumpkin pie, but I feel like I might be pushing that particular envelope.  I think a beautiful pumpkin loaf studded with little chocolate chips is an acceptable compromise.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread with Pecan Streusel

1 large egg
1 cup pumpkin puree
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup mini chocolate chips
Streusel Topping

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9x5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray or grease and flour.

In a large bowl, combine egg, pumpkin, both sugars, oil, yogurt, vanilla bean paste, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add mini chocolate chips and toss to coat.

Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and stir just to combine. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Sprinkle with streusel topping.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to rest on a cooling rack for 10 to 15 minutes before removing the loaf from the pan. Cool completely.

Makes 12 servings

Streusel Topping
4 tablespoons butter
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup chopped pecans

Combine all ingredients.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Bourbon Hasselback Apples

Well, it's the first official recipe of fall!  I wanted it to be pumpkin, but there's plenty of time for that yet.  I saw a very simple version of this recipe in Cooking Light magazine in September, but I knew the apples could be so much...more.  And none of this chintziness with the ingredients.  This is dessert, people.  Eat your salad for dinner, but when you're talking sweets, go big or go home.  I say it makes 8 servings, so that's half an apple per person.  Your mileage may vary.

Bourbon Hasselback Apples

4 large, firm Honeycrisp apples, peeled, cored, and halved vertically
Cooking spray
1 cup packed dark brown sugar, divided
10 tablespoons butter, melted and divided
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
⅜ teaspoon ground cloves
⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
⅜ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons Maker’s Mark bourbon
½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream or heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Starting at the outermost edges, cut most (but not all) of the way through each apple half at ⅛-inch intervals. Place apple halves, cut sides down, in a 9x13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Combine ¼ cup brown sugar, 4 tablespoons butter, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, ground cloves, nutmeg, vanilla, and bourbon; brush mixture evenly over apples.

Cover baking dish with foil; bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes or until apples are tender. Remove dish from oven and cool for 10 minutes.

Combine the remaining ¾ cup brown sugar, remaining 6 tablespoons butter, remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon, oats, flour, and salt. Carefully fan open apple halves. Spoon oat mixture evenly over apples. Bake for 10 more minutes. Turn broiler to high (with dish still in oven) and broil 2 minutes. Serve hot with ice cream or whipped cream or with cream just poured over top.

Makes 8 servings