Friday, December 29, 2017

Dessert for Two: Vanilla Bean Roasted Acorn Squash

Every fall I see these acorn-shaped squashes at the market, and I think, "hmmm...I wonder if those are any good", and then I walk away.  I'm never sure what to do with them, and stuffing them seems like a major project for what I have always considered as a side dish.  But then I saw this recipe for acorn squash that keeps them simple and delicious while still being a quick side to get on the table.  And it all just works.  The vanilla bean is a beautiful addition, and the squash really takes to the light sweetness from the brown sugar.  I think this would work perfectly with some roasted chicken, plus get you your starch and vegetable in one dish.

Vanilla Bean Roasted Acorn Squash
From Dessert for Two blog

2 acorn squash
4 teaspoons pure vanilla bean paste
4 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
4 big pinches sea salt
4 to 5 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Slice the acorn squash in half, and scoop out the seeds.  Lay the flat part of the squash down on the cutting board, and slice it into rings.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the vanilla bean paste, brown sugar, salt and olive oil.  Brush the vanilla mixture over both sides of the squash rings.  Roast for 15 minutes, flip each ring, and roast for another 15 minutes.  Serve warm.

 Makes 4 servings

Monday, December 25, 2017

Alton Brown and Allrecipes: Herbed Prime Rib

It seems like each major holiday has its designated meat.  Thanksgiving has turkey.  Easter has ham or lamb.  But what does Christmas dinner have?  Well, going forward, I think it has this amazing prime rib roast.  It's a bit of a production to get the thing cooked to the perfect medium-rare, but good grief is it delicious after all of that work.  We cut it a little thinner than the traditional restaurant serving, and it was still fantastic.  This is going in the rotation.

Herbed Prime Rib
Adapted from Alton Brown and Chef John at Allrecipes

1 (5-pound) bone-in prime rib roast
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried chervil or parsley
½ tablespoon dried marjoram
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Remove any plastic wrapping or butcher's paper from the roast. Place the standing rib roast upright onto a half sheet pan fitted with a rack. The rack is essential for drainage. Place dry towels loosely on top of the roast. This will help to draw moisture away from the meat. Place into a refrigerator at approximately 50 to 60 percent humidity and between 34 and 38 degrees F. You can measure both with a refrigerator thermometer. Change the towels daily for 3 days.

Place rib roast on a plate and bring to room temperature, about 4 hours.  Preheat an oven to 500°F.

Combine butter and herbs in a bowl; mix until well blended. Season roast generously with salt and pepper.  Spread butter mixture evenly over entire roast.

Roast the prime rib in the preheated oven for 25 minutes*. Turn the oven off and keep the oven door shut.  At the one hour mark, check the oven temp by setting it to bake at 325°F. If your oven is below 325°F and begins to heat up, your oven either has a vent fan or cools off too quickly. Set it to 275°F and leave it for the next hour. You are now at 1½ hours after the blast. Turn the oven off for the last half hour. If your oven is over 325°F at the one hour mark, let the roast sit in the oven for another 1½ hours. Remove roast from the oven, slice, and serve.

*Your cooking times will vary depending on the size of your prime rib roast. To calculate your cooking time, multiply the exact weight of the roast by 5. Round the resulting number to the nearest whole number. The rib is cooked at 500°F for exactly that many minutes. For example, for a 6-pound roast: 6x5=30, so cooking time is 30 minutes.

John Lewis and Ray England: Chile Relleno Breakfast Casserole

In addition to the magic of oatmeal pumpkin chip muffins, I needed a protein for my Christmas morning breakfast.  Most of the casseroles out there are full of either bread or hashbrowns, but I wanted something straight egg-and-meat.  Finally I found this take on a deconstructed chile relleno that turned out fantastically.  The original recipe didn't call for sausage, but I firmly believe any Tex-Mex breakfast casserole is better with chorizo, so there you go.  Serve with sour cream, guacamole, and salsa.

Chile Relleno Breakfast Casserole
Adapted from John Lewis and Ray England, Juan Luis restaurant, Charleston, SC

1¾ pounds (12 medium) poblano chiles
1½ cups half-and-half
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
8 large eggs
1 garlic clove
Nonstick cooking spray
2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
12 ounces Mexican chorizo, casings removed, cooked, crumbled, and drained
Boiling water, for baking

Preheat the broiler to high and line a sheet pan with foil. Line the chiles next to each other on the pan and broil, turning as needed, until the chiles are well charred, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let steam for 15 minutes, then peel and deseed the poblanos using the back of a knife.

Lower the oven temperature to 300°F. In a blender, combine the half-and-half, flour, salt, eggs, and garlic. Blend on medium until smooth.

Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and line with a quarter of the roast poblanos, followed by a quarter of the grated cheese and chorizo. Continue this layering process until all the chiles, cheese, and chorizo have been used. Pour the egg mixture in to cover the chiles.

Place the baking dish in a roasting pan and fill the roasting pan with enough boiling water to come up halfway along the sides of the baking dish. Bake until the eggs begin to set, 30 minutes, then raise the temperature to 400°F and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the eggs are fully cooked and the top is golden brown.

Let rest at room temperature for 15 minutes, then slice and serve.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Ina Garten: Roasted Shrimp Cocktail

My mom always likes having some seafood for Christmas Eve, so this year I suggested we try a different take on the usual shrimp cocktail.  Instead of boiling the shrimp, you roasted them in the oven to get that great roasted flavor.  They're still served cold, like the traditional version, but these have many times the flavor.  Warning: it is possible to become addicted and eat so many that you end the evening with shrimp belly.

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail
From Ina Garten

For the shrimp:
2 pounds (12- to 15-count) shrimp
1 tablespoon good olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce:
½ cup chili sauce
½ cup ketchup
3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Place them on a sheet pan with the olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread them in 1 layer. Roast for 8 to 10 minutes, just until pink and firm and cooked through. Set aside to cool.

For the sauce, combine the chili sauce, ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. Serve as a dip with the shrimp.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Italian Salad Skewers

On Christmas Eve we tend to do a small plate/appetizer menu, allowing everyone to nibble at will.  This means we get to try lots of fun little dishes each year, and honestly, it goes better with that Christmas Eve tipple than a heavy plate of meat and potatoes.  This year I wanted to try something low-carb since we tend to overdo it on the cookie side, and these skewers turned out perfectly.  Plus, they're easy to make, as you buy everything pretty much ready to go.

Italian Salad Skewers

16 cherry tomatoes, different colors if possible
16 slices Genoa salami, folded in quarters to form a fan
16 cubes smoked provolone, each about 1-inch square
16 pitted green olives
16 thin slices prosciutto
16 marinated mozzarella balls, reserving remaining seasoned olive oil in container
16 wedges roasted red pepper
16 marinated artichoke heart quarters
16 pitted Kalamata olives

Using wooden cocktail picks, thread the ingredients onto the pick in the order listed: first cherry tomato, then salami fan, then smoked provolone, then green olive, then a mozzarella ball wrapped in prosciutto, then roasted red pepper, then artichoke heart, then Kalamata olive.  Lay the skewers out on a tray, and spoon over some of the marinated olive oil so that the skewers are evenly seasoned.

Makes 16 skewers

Saturday, December 23, 2017

King Arthur Flour: Caribbean Rum Cake

I have wanted to make this cake for quite a long time, but I could never quite get over the fact that it normally calls for a boxed cake mix, in addition to the instant pudding mix.  That's a lot of processed food in one dish.  Luckily I found this recipe that at least cuts out the boxed cake mix.  There are other ways of substituting for the pudding mix, but apparently none of them quite replicate the tender texture of this version.  A necessary evil.  Like red food coloring in a red velvet cake.  After soaking in rum syrup, this cake is so fantastically moist, it can probably be stretched for a week, but I honestly don't think it will last that long.

Note: I used Captain Morgan's spiced rum, and it was delicious.  I couldn't find butter-rum flavoring on short notice, so I just added some butter extract instead.

Caribbean Rum Cake
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

2 cups all-purpose flour
1½ cups granulated sugar
1 (3.4-ounce) box instant vanilla pudding mix (not sugar-free)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup milk, at room temperature
4 large eggs, at room temperature
½ cup rum, plain or spiced
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon butter-rum flavor (optional)
¼ cup pecan flour, for dusting baking pan (optional)
1 cup chopped pecans

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
¼ cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup rum, plain or spiced
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Place the flour, sugar, pudding mix, baking powder, salt, butter, and vegetable oil in a mixing bowl, and mix at medium speed until everything is thoroughly combined and the mixture is sandy looking. Beat in the milk, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Scrape the bowl thoroughly, and beat briefly to recombine any sticky residue. Stir in the rum, vanilla, and butter-rum flavor.

Spritz a 10- to 12-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray. For an extra layer of nutty flavor, sprinkle the inside of the pan with pecan flour and turn the pan to coat evenly; shake out any excess. Carefully mound the chopped pecans in the bottom of the prepared pan. Pour the batter over the pecans and spread level with a spatula.

Bake the cake for 50 to 60 minutes. When done, a cake tester, long toothpick, or strand of uncooked spaghetti will come out clean when inserted into the center. Remove the cake from the oven.  Leave the cake in the pan to cool slightly while you make the syrup.

In a medium-sized saucepan combine the syrup ingredients, except vanilla. Bring to a rapid boil then reduce to a simmer and cook (without stirring) for about 5 to 8 minutes, until the syrup thickens slightly. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

Use a long skewer to poke holes all over the cake. Pour about ¼ cup of the syrup over the cake (still in the pan). Allow the syrup to soak in, then repeat again and again until all the syrup is used.

Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and allow the cake to sit overnight at room temperature to cool completely and soak in the syrup. When ready to serve, loosen the edges of the cake and invert onto your serving plate. If the cake won’t release, don't force it. Place it in the oven, turn the oven to 350°F, and warm for about 10 minutes, to soften the sticky syrup. (If your oven is one that preheats by making its upper element red-hot, place the cake on a lower rack and tent it with aluminum foil to protect it.) Remove the cake from the oven, and tip it onto the serving plate. Serve with hot coffee or tea. The cake is very moist, fragrant and potent. Wrap securely (or place under a cake cover) and store at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage, up to 1 month.

Friday, December 22, 2017

How Sweet Eats: Oatmeal Pumpkin Spice Morsel Muffins

Christmas breakfast is serious business.  There needs to be some protein and some carbs.  It needs to be made (mostly) ahead of time, but still be fantastically delicious and satisfying.  After all, it needs to compete with the opening of all of the presents that are waiting patiently under the tree.  And that's a hard sell for any breakfast.  But the first item on the menu, these muffins, fulfill all of the categories and leave a smile on everyone's faces.  Slather warm muffins in butter for full effect.

Oatmeal Pumpkin Spice Morsel Muffins
Adapted from How Sweet Eats blog

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup whole milk, divided use
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
⅓ cup packed brown sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch ground nutmeg
1 cup pumpkin spice morsels or chocolate chips
Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Add oats to a bowl and add ½ cup of the milk. Let soak for 5 to 10 minutes, while you prepare the first few steps of the muffins.  In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg.

In a large bowl, combine butter and brown sugar and beat until smooth. Add in egg and vanilla, mixing well. Add flour mixture alternately with the remaining milk in two to three portions. Add the oat mixture and combine until smooth. Fold in pumpkin spice morsels or chocolate chips.

Spray a muffin tin with baking spray, and place a liner in each cup. Pour about ¼ cup batter into each cup. Sprinkle the tops with raw turbinado sugar. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until cooked through.

Makes 12 muffins

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Two Peas & Their Pod: Chocolate Dipped Toffee Shortbread

I love shortbread cookies.  Even though they aren't really that sweet, there's something about the buttery snap of them that just really makes me happy.  So why not make them part of the annual Christmas cookie baking process?  And why not make them especially delicious for the occasion by dipping them in chocolate?  I think these are going to be my favorite cookies this year, but shhh...don't tell the other cookies.

Chocolate Dipped Toffee Shortbread
Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod blog

2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup toffee bits, divided
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a small bowl, whisk the flour and salt together. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and powdered sugar until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract. Slowly add in the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in ½ cup of the toffee bits. Form the dough into a disk shape and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill the dough for at least 1 hour or until firm.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat baking mat and set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a ¼-inch thick square. Cut into squares, rounds, or shape of your choice using a lightly floured cookie cutter. Place shortbread cookies on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until cookies are very lightly browned around the edges. Remove cookies from baking sheet and cool completely on a wire cooling rack.

Put the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and melt, stirring every 30 seconds until melted. Dip the shortbread cookies in the melted chocolate and sprinkle with additional toffee bits. Lay on a piece of parchment paper or wax paper to set up. Once chocolate is completely dried, store cookies in an air tight container for up to 5 days.

Makes 2 dozen cookies

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Danny Cohen: Coconut Macaroons

One of my favorite candy bars is Mounds (Almond Joy is also up there), so this Christmas, I wanted to make a cookie version.  Luckily, these little cookies are pretty easy to put together, and give you a pretty good bang for buck.  They turn out slightly chewing, and not really as dense as you would expect.  Dipping their bottoms in chocolate is the perfect finish.  Santa approves.

Coconut Macaroons
From Danny Cohen, as seen on Food and Wine

1 (14-ounce) bag sweetened shredded coconut
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
¼ teaspoon salt
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted

Preheat the oven to 350°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine the coconut with the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the salt until firm peaks form. Fold the beaten whites into the coconut mixture.

Scoop tablespoon-size mounds of the mixture onto the baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Bake in the upper and middle thirds of the oven for about 25 minutes, until golden; shift the sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Transfer the baking sheets to racks and let the cookies cool completely.

Dip the bottoms of the macaroons into the melted chocolate, letting any excess drip back into the bowl. Return the cookies to the lined baking sheets. Drizzle any remaining chocolate on top and refrigerate for about 5 minutes, until set.

The macaroons can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Makes about 40 macaroons

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Sugar Free Mom: Sugar-Free Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies with Sugar-Free Cream Cheese Frosting

When Christmas starts to creep up in the calendar, and it's time to start thinking about leaving a treat for Santa, what's a diabetic child (or adult) to do?  Luckily, there are some amazing products on the market now that will allow any enterprising cook to make some pretty fabulous treats that won't spike blood sugar through the roof.  These cookies look exactly like their sugary cousins, but the only carbs to count are in the flour.  I'm sure even Santa appreciates the sugar break.

Sugar-Free Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies with Sugar-Free Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Sugar Free Mom blog

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
4 tablespoons spoonable Truvia
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2½ cups Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a stand mixer combine butter, Truvia, and vanilla extract.  Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes.  Beat in eggs until well blended.  Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add flour mixture.

Using a tablespoon, roll into balls, flatten and bake 10 minutes on a parchment lined baking sheet.  To make cut out shapes spread dough between two pieces of plastic wrap, roll to 1/4 inch thickness and use cookie cutters to shape.

Bake on parchment lined baking sheet for 10 minutes.

Makes about 48 cookies

Sugar-Free Cream Cheese Frosting
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon spoonable Truvia
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Half-and-half, as needed

Combine cream cheese, butter, Truvia, and vanilla bean paste in a mixer and beat until light and fluffy.  Add half-and-half as needed to thin the mixture to a spreadable consistency.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Molly O'Neill: Glazed Shallots

Each year I have gotten into the habit of trying a new side dish for Thanksgiving.  Something outside of the usual rotation.  Because sweet potatoes with marshmallows and green beans only go so far.  I feel like there needs to be one new thing on the menu to keep things interesting.  This year I decided to play with some shallots, which I don't think would normally be considered a side dish, but more of an ingredient in some other creation.  But these shallots turn out soft and sweet, with a delicious umami background from the chicken stock and a slight tang from the wine.  And they play perfectly with that roast turkey.

Glazed Shallots
From Molly O'Neill, as seen at NYT Cooking

1¼ pounds (about 36) small shallots, peeled
½ cup white wine
1 cup homemade or low-sodium chicken stock
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
A few grinds of black pepper

In a skillet just large enough to hold the shallots in a single layer, combine the shallots, wine, stock, sugar, salt and 2 tablespoons of the butter. Place over high heat, bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the liquid evaporates and the shallots are very tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Raise heat to medium high and cook, shaking the pan frequently, until the shallots begin to brown and are coated with a thick syrup. Remove from heat and add the final tablespoon of butter, shaking the pan until it is melted and incorporated. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Cuisine at Home: Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake

When you're a bit worn out on the traditional pumpkin pie, but you still want pumpkin in your life, what are you to do?  Make a fantastic pumpkin cheesecake, of course.  Cheesecake makes everything better, right?  Even if you're bursting at the seams from all that turkey and stuffing.  And a cheesecake with a touch of maple in just the right places is even better.  This was the hit of our Thanksgiving; what will be yours?

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake
Adapted from Cuisine at Home magazine

For the Crust:
1 cup gingersnap-cookie crumbs (24 small cookies)
1⁄2 cup graham cracker crumbs (4 graham crackers)
1⁄2 cup toasted pecan halves, pulsed in a food processor
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Pinch of salt

For the Filling:
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1⁄2 cup granulated sugar
1⁄2 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon ground ginger
1⁄4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cloves

For the topping:
11⁄2 cups sour cream
 cup maple syrup

Preheat oven to 325°F; coat a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray.

Combine gingersnap crumbs and graham-cracker crumbs for the crust in a bowl. Add pecans; stir in butter, the 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, and salt until mixture is sandy. Press crumbs into bottom and 1 inch up sides of the prepared pan. Bake crust until it’s slightly golden, about 10 minutes. Remove pan from the oven; cool slightly.

Using a hand mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese and the granulated and dark brown sugar in a bowl until mixture is fluffy. Add pumpkin, eggs, lemon juice, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Beat mixture until smooth, scraping sides of the bowl. Pour filling into crust; place springform pan on a baking sheet.

Bake cheesecake until sides are set but center still is jiggly, about 50 minutes. Remove cheesecake from oven. (Leave oven on.)

Whisk together sour cream and maple syrup in a bowl. Spread topping over cheesecake. Return cheesecake to the oven; bake until it’s set, 15 minutes more. Turn off oven and crack open the door; leave cheesecake in the oven for 20 minutes more.

Remove cheesecake from oven. Allow cheesecake to cool in pan on a rack for about 1 hour. Loosely cover cheesecake in pan with plastic wrap; refrigerate overnight.

To serve, remove ring from the springform pan. Slice cheesecake with a sharp knife dipped in hot water and wiped dry before each cut. Garnish individual servings with whipped cream and sugared pecans, if desired.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Mom on Timeout: "Turkey and Stuffing" Meatballs with Herbed Gravy

I don't normally like turkey meatballs.  Mainly because they're tasteless.  Ground turkey just doesn't have much flavor, mostly due to the fact that it's low in fat.  And fat = deliciousness.  So how to bump up the flavor profile?  Dump in a packet of sodium.  I'm sorta not even kidding.  I used an entire package of stuffing for these meatballs, and they were fantastic.  Serve them with mashed potatoes and gravy?  Even better.

Note: Try to get regular ground turkey, not ground turkey breast.  Regular ground turkey will include some dark meat, and that's the part that has a little more flavor.  You can also use turkey-flavored stuffing mix; I'm just partial to the chicken version.

"Turkey and Stuffing" Meatballs with Gravy
Adapted from Mom on Timeout blog

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (6-ounce) box Stove Top chicken-flavored stuffing mix
¾ cup half-and-half
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 large egg
1 large yolk
Salt and pepper to taste
1 (16-ounce) package ground turkey
2 tablespoons olive oil
Herbed Gravy

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Melt butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, celery, and garlic and cook until tender, about 6 minutes.  Set aside to cool slightly.

Place stuffing mix in a resealable Ziploc bag and crush lightly with a rolling pin or mallet. In a large bowl, combine stuffing crumbs and half-and-half and stir to combine. Mix in cooked onion and celery mixture, parsley, egg and egg yolk, salt, and pepper.  Add ground turkey and mix gently just until combined.

Using a 1½ tablespoon cookie scoop, form meatballs from the mixture. Use your hands to gently form into a ball and place on prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or just until cooked through.

Makes about 32 meatballs

Herbed Gravy
1 (12-ounce) jar turkey gravy
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
¼ teaspoon rubbed sage
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon dried rosemary

In a small bowl, combine gravy and herbs.  Heat according to package instructions.  Serve with meatballs and mashed potatoes.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

The Bun Shop: Ba'Corn Cheese

When I saw the chef making this skillet of deliciousness one weekend while I was half-watching the TV, I dropped what I was doing.  I mean, this is sweet corn, smothered in bacon and cheese.  That is right up there with brownies and perfect mashed potatoes.  The chef claimed this was some sort of Korean bar food, but I never saw this when I lived in Seoul.  If I had, it would have been my dinner EVERY NIGHT.  If you want to bump up the spice level a bit, I think you could hit this with some sriracha and all would be right with the world.

Ba'Corn Cheese
From The Bun Shop, as seen on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 strips bacon, chopped
½ jalapeño, seeded and minced
2 cups sweet corn, fresh or canned
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
½ cup mozzarella cheese

Place a 5- or 6-inch cast-iron skillet in the oven; preheat the oven to broil.

Heat a wok or sauté pan over high heat. Add the butter and bacon and cook until the bacon is crisp, about 20 seconds. Toss in the jalapeño and corn, season with a pinch of salt and pepper and cook until the corn kernels start to char a little bit, 20 to 30 seconds. Add the garlic and half of the scallions. Add the sweetened condensed milk, mayonnaise, and ¼ cup of the mozzarella and cook until the cheese is melted and the ingredients are well mixed, another 20 seconds.

With a towel, grab your hot skillet from the broiler and carefully pour in the corn-cheese mixture. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup mozzarella over the top and set under the broiler until golden brown, 30 to 45 seconds. Garnish with the remaining scallions.

Makes 2 to 4 servings

Friday, November 03, 2017

Sweet Little Bluebird: Maple Honey-Mustard Pecan Pork Chops

I'm really trying to work through the items in my freezer, mostly because I've hidden some delicious delicacies in the back somewhere.  So I need to cook my way through the packages in front to get to them.  Which means the pack of pork chops I through in last week was sitting right on top.  Now, I've done pork chops with breading, stuffed pork chops, and pork chops in cream sauces.  I wanted something different.  Well, this is definitely different.  I think the mustard really helps keep the sauce from being overly sweet and gives it a bit of a tang.  And who doesn't like something smothered in pecans?

Maple Honey-Mustard Pecan Pork Chops
Adapted from Sweet Little Bluebird blog

½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon granulated onion
½ teaspoon celery salt
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon granulated garlic
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 pork chops

Pecan Sauce
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup roughly chopped pecans, lightly toasted
¼ cup honey
¼ cup real maple syrup
¼ cup whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon praline liqueur (optional)
Sea salt, to taste

In a shallow dish, mix flour and spices. In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, melt butter with oil. Dredge pork chops in seasoned flour, shake off excess, and place in skillet. Brown both sides and cook until pork chops are cooked through. Once ready, move chops to a serving plate.

Clean out the skillet and then return to the heat.  Reduce heat to medium and add the butter. Toss the pecans in the melted butter, then add remaining sauce ingredients.  Cook until slightly thickened and syrupy, about eight minutes. Once heated through, spoon mixture over pork chops and serve.

Makes 4 servings

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook: Chili con Carne

Okay, I admit that I did not cook up this pot of chili for my family's pre-trick-or-treating repast.  That would be my sister's creation.  But this chili recipe has played such a part of my family's history, going back to my early childhood, that I wanted to capture it while it was hot from the stove.  While this isn't anything close to a real Texas chili, it was my mother's go-to for us, and I highly recommend it served over some egg noodles for maximum enjoyment and nostalgia.

Chili con Carne
From Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook

1 pound ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
¾ cup chopped green pepper
1 (1-pound) can tomatoes, broken up
1 (1-pound) can dark red kidney beans, drained
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 teaspoons chili powder
1 bay leaf

In a heavy skillet, cook meat, onion, and green pepper until meat is lightly browned and vegetables are tender. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Remove bay leaf.

Makes 4 servings

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Triple Chocolate Cake

This is a ridiculously easy cake.  And yet, whenever my mother makes it, it gets scarfed down in 3.5 seconds.  Possibly less.  Especially if it's still warm from the oven.  This recipe makes a moist, oozy chocolate cake slice that is so rich, you don't even need frosting.  Just a generous sprinkle of confectioner's sugar to crown each slice.

Triple Chocolate Cake

1 (15.25-ounce) box Devil’s food or fudge cake mix
1 (3.9-ounce) box Jell-O instant chocolate pudding mix
3 large eggs
½ cup canola oil (or whatever is on package)
1½ cups water (or whatever is on package)
1 cup Nestlé Tollhouse semi-sweet chocolate chips

Put oil in the bottom of the cake pan. Add cake mix, pudding, and eggs and stir with a fork. Add chocolate chips last. Bake according to box instructions.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Natasha's Kitchen: Salami Cream Cheese Sandwiches

I may have said it before, but I am not a sandwich girl.  If I'm going to eat one, it had better be the best sandwich EVER.  Well, as you can tell from this post, this is a pretty fantastic sandwich.  The herbal-garlicky cream cheese just does some magical things with that hard salami that are borderline indecent.  I was tempted to leave out the lettuce, but I think it adds the right crispness.  This is a sandwich for sandwich haters.

Salami Cream Cheese Sandwiches
Adapted from Natasha's Kitchen blog

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup finely chopped green onion
¼ cup finely chopped fresh dill
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
8 slices sandwich bread
8 to 10 ounces hard or Genoa salami
4 large leaves green lettuce

In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, green onion, dill, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce.  Mash the herbs into the cream cheese.  Spread 1 to 2 tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture on one side of each bread slice.  Top with lettuce and 6 to 8 pieces of salami, or to taste.

Makes 4 sandwiches

Friday, October 27, 2017

Cooking in Flip Flops: Alonti's Italian Wedding Soup

I know this soup doesn't look like much, but stick with me.  Here in Texas there's a deli called Alonti, and if you're lucky, you will order the Italian Wedding Soup for lunch.  It looks nothing like a traditional "minestra maritata", which is clear and full of little meatballs and greens.  This version is creamy and full of delicious roasted chicken pieces and herbs.  And somehow it just works in this magical way.  After changing jobs, I wasn't in the vicinity of an Alonti, but luckily I found a pretty good copycat recipe on the internet that I was able to adjust very slightly to get this amazing version.  Try it.  I promise it's amazing.

Alonti's Italian Wedding Soup
Adapted from Cooking in Flip Flops blog

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
6 ribs celery, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 small bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped
8 sprigs fresh oregano leaves, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 bay leaves
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 (32-ounce) carton chicken broth
2 cups water
3 teaspoons roasted chicken bouillon
Breasts and thighs of 1 rotisserie chicken, bones and skin removed, chopped in bite size pieces
3 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup orzo pasta

Melt butter in large Dutch oven and add onion, celery, green onions, parsley, oregano, garlic, bay leaves, salt, and white pepper. Cook until veggies are tender, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Add chicken broth, water, chicken bouillon, and chicken pieces into pan and simmer about 20 minutes.  Add cream and bring to a simmer.  Add orzo and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning.

Makes 8 servings

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Melissa Clark: Rosemary Shortbread

Sometimes I get ideas for recipes from friends and acquaintances, mostly because I'm incredibly nosy when someone mentions something delicious that they've eaten lately.  I can't stop the interrogation until I've identified what the heavenly item was and exactly what made it so fantastic.  This recipe was an attempt to recreate a cookie based solely on description, and I must say that it really outperformed my expectations.  It was strange to me to eat rosemary in a dessert, but this shortbread is salty and sweet in a surprising way that makes you want to grab another finger.

Rosemary Shortbread
From Melissa Clark, as seen in NY Times Cooking

2 cups all-purpose flour
⅔ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon plus 1 pinch kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted cold butter, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 to 2 teaspoons rosemary, chestnut, or other dark, full-flavored honey (optional)

Heat oven to 325°F.  In a food processor, pulse together flour, sugar, rosemary, and salt.  Add butter, and honey if desired, and pulse to fine crumbs.  Pulse a few more times until some crumbs start to come together, but don't overprocess.  Dough should not be smooth.

Press dough into an ungreased 8- or 9-inch-square baking pan or 9-inch pie pan.  Prick dough all over with a fork.  Bake until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes for 9-inch pan, 45 to 50 minutes for 8-inch.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Cut into squares, bars or wedges while still warm.

Makes one 8- or 9-inch shortbread

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Allrecipes: Habanero Pepper Jelly

After I made my jalapeño jelly late last summer, I broke it out at Thanksgiving thinking my brother-in-law would be a huge fan.  After all, he had talked about how much he loved pepper jelly.  Well, let's just say he was less than enthused, and I couldn't figure out why that might be.  At least until he forwarded me the recipe for "pepper jelly" that his good friend used.  Then it dawned on me - his idea of pepper jelly included habanero peppers, not those timid jalapeños.  My mistake, but easily corrected.

Habanero Pepper Jelly
From Allrecipes

8 half pint canning jars with lids and rings
1½ cups apple cider vinegar
6½ cups granulated sugar
1 cup grated carrot
½ cup minced red bell pepper
15 orange habanero peppers, seeded and minced
2 (3-ounce) pouches liquid pectin

Stir the vinegar and sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat until the sugar has dissolved, then stir in the carrot and red bell pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer 5 minutes. Add the habanero peppers and simmer 5 minutes longer. Pour in the pectin, and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Skim and discard any foam from the jelly.

Sterilize the jars and lids in boiling water for at least 5 minutes. Pour the jelly into the hot, sterilized jars, filling the jars to within ¼-inch of the top. Wipe the rims of the jars with a moist paper towel to remove any food residue. Top with lids, and screw on rings.

Place a rack in the bottom of a large stockpot and fill halfway with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then carefully lower the jars into the pot using a holder. Leave a 2 inch space between the jars. Pour in more boiling water if necessary until the water level is at least 1 inch above the tops of the jars. Bring the water to a full boil, cover the pot, and process for 5 minutes.

Remove the jars from the stockpot and place onto a cloth-covered or wood surface, several inches apart, until cool. Once cool, press the top of each lid with a finger, ensuring that the seal is tight (lid does not move up or down at all).

Makes 8 half pint jars

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Gonna Want Seconds: Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole

I had a hard week.  And a long, tiring weekend.  So all I really wanted was some warm, creamy comfort food.  Nothing says comfort like chicken and rice, and this recipe takes ordinary chicken and rice and kicks it in the pants.  Where has this recipe been my whole life?  And do NOT leave off the Chicken In a Biskit crackers.  It's so trashy, but oh so awesome.

Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole
Adapted from Gonna Want Seconds blog

6 to 8 small cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets, stems discarded
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
½ cup whole milk
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
½ teaspoons sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
4 cups cooked long-grain white rice
8 ounces finely shredded Cheddar cheese
2 cups crumbled Chicken In a Biskit crackers
1 teaspoon dried thyme
⅓ cup unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 11x15-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Sauté mushrooms in 1 tablespoon butter until softened.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside.  Blanch broccoli florets in boiling water for 5 minutes, then strain into an ice bath.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, mix two soups, sour cream, milk, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper until evenly combined. Add the chicken, reserved mushrooms and broccoli, and rice and fold until evenly coated and ingredients are mixed. Pour into prepared pan.

Sprinkle the top of the casserole evenly with shredded cheese. In a small bowl, mix together cracker crumbs, thyme, and melted butter. Sprinkle evenly over cheese layer. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until casserole is heated through and cracker crumbs are golden brown.

Makes 8 servings

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Girl in the Kitchen: Seared Scallops with Goat Cheese-Yukon Purée, Asparagus, and Sorrel Vinaigrette

For as complicated as this recipe actually is, now that I'm looking at it written out, I was mainly looking for a way to use up the extra sorrel leaves I had leftover from making a different dish.  And the ham hocks I had.  That's really it.  I loved the mashed potatoes, and they will definitely get made again.  Also like the asparagus sautéed with the ham.  And I always love scallops.  Each component was a thing of beauty.  Not sure it all works together as a whole, though.  Every element is competing with the rest.  Live and learn, I guess, but at least I managed to work some scallops into the rotation.  And that's never a bad thing.

Seared Scallops with Goat Cheese-Yukon Purée, Asparagus, and Sorrel Vinaigrette
From Girl in the Kitchen by Stephanie Izard

2 smoked ham hocks (about 2 pounds)

Goat Cheese-Yukon Purée
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into large cubes
1 cup heavy cream
2 ounces plain, soft goat cheese
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper

8 ounces white asparagus, peeled
8 ounces green asparagus
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Sorrel Vinaigrette
8 to 10 sorrel leaves, washed
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon yellow aji chile paste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons olive oil

12 sea scallops, side muscles removed
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter

¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted

Put the ham hocks in a large stockpot and cover with 2 quarts cool water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat.  Cover the pot and simmer the hocks until the meat is tender and can be peeled off the bone with a fork or by hand, about 2 hours.

To make the purée:  Remove the hocks from the water and set them aside to cool.  Add the potatoes to the pot and bring the water back to a boil.  Cook the potatoes until fork-tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Combine the cream and goat cheese in a small saucepan over low heat, letting the cheese melt into the cream, stirring occasionally.

Drain the potatoes and put them through a ricer into a clean bowl.  Pour the cream and cheese mixture over the potatoes and stir to combine them into a thin puree.  Pass the puree through a medium-mesh sieve (optional), season with salt and pepper, cover, and keep warm until ready to serve.

Pull the meat from the ham hocks and set it aside in a small bowl.  Discard the skin and bones.

To make the asparagus:  Slice the white and green asparagus into ⅓-inch pieces (reserving two or three green asparagus spears for garnish).  Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add the ham and the sliced asparagus and sauté until the asparagus is just tender, 5 to 7 minutes.  Toss with another 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Cover and keep warm.

To make the vinaigrette:  Combine the sorrel, vinegar, egg yolk, honey, mustard, and chile paste in a blender and pulse several times to combine.  Whisk the vegetable oil and olive oil together in a measuring cup with a spout.  With the blender running, pour the oils through the opening in the lid in a slow steady stream and process until a smooth vinaigrette forms.

To make the scallops:  Pat the scallops dry and season both sides with salt and pepper.  Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat.  Add the scallops to the hot pan.  (Avoid overcrowding the scallops in the pan.  If they are too close together, they will steam inside of sear.  Sear them in batches if the pan is not big enough to hold them all at once.)  Let the scallops brown for 1 minute, then reduce the heat to medium.  Continue to cook until a brown crust forms.  Add the butter to the pan.  Turn the scallops over to brown the other sides.  While browning, spoon the melted butter over the tops of the scallops to baste them.  Remove them from the pan once you've basted them well and all edges are nice and browned.

To serve, put a spoonful of potato purée on each of four plates.  Top with a few spoonfuls of the sautéed ham and asparagus.  Divide the scallops between the plates and drizzle with the vinaigrette.  Slice the reserved raw green asparagus very thinly on a bias.  Toss with the toasted almonds and sprinkle on top of each dish.

Makes 4 servings

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Kindred: Milk Bread

Have you seen this bread on the internet?  I mean, seriously, have you seen this bread?  I figured I should stop spending so much time drooling on myself and actually try to make the darn thing, and I am so glad I did.  This bread is everything bread should be: tender, doughy, and perfect smothered in melting butter.  The recipe makes enough bread for an army, as you can tell from the pictures where it is literally crawling out of the jumbo muffin pan, but I also don't see that as a bad thing.  Try to eat just one, I dare you.

Milk Bread
From Kindred restaurant, as seen at Food52

5⅓ cups bread flour, divided, plus more for surface (Kindred uses King Arthur)
1 cup heavy cream
⅓ cup mild honey (such as wildflower or alfalfa)
3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder
2 tablespoons active dry yeast (from about 3 envelopes)
2 tablespoons kosher salt
3 large eggs, divided
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
Flaky sea salt (optional)

Cook ⅓ cup flour and 1 cup water in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly, until a thick paste forms (almost like a roux but looser), about 5 minutes. Add cream and honey and cook, whisking to blend, until honey dissolves.

Transfer mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and add milk powder, yeast, kosher salt, 2 eggs, and 5 remaining cups flour. Knead on medium speed until dough is smooth, about 5 minutes. Add butter, a piece at a time, fully incorporating into dough before adding the next piece, until dough is smooth, shiny, and elastic, about 4 minutes.

Coat a large bowl with nonstick spray and transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

If making rolls, lightly coat a 6-cup jumbo muffin pan with nonstick spray. Turn out dough onto a floured surface and divide into 6 pieces. Divide each piece into 4 smaller pieces (you should have 24 total). They don’t need to be exact; just eyeball it. Place 4 pieces of dough side-by-side in each muffin cup. If making loaves, lightly coat two 9- by 5-inch loaf pans with nonstick spray. Turn out dough onto a floured surface and divide into 12 pieces. Nestle pieces side-by-side to create 2 rows down length of each pan. If making split-top buns, lightly coat two 9- by 13-inch baking dishes with nonstick spray. Divide dough into 12 pieces and shape each into a 4-inch long log. Place 6 logs in a row down length of each dish.

Let shaped dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size (dough should be just puffing over top of pan), about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375° F. Beat remaining egg with 1 teaspoon water in a small bowl to blend. Brush top of dough with egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt, if desired. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until bread is deep golden brown, starting to pull away from the sides of the pan, and is baked through, 25 to 35 minutes for rolls, 50 to 60 minutes for loaf, or 30 to 40 minutes for buns. If making buns, slice each bun down the middle deep enough to create a split-top. Let milk bread cool slightly in pan on a wire rack before turning out; let cool completely.

Makes 6 rolls, two 9- by 5-inch loaves, or 12 split-top buns

Friday, September 08, 2017

Taylor Ham Breakfast Sandwich

When I lived in New Jersey, I discovered an amazing breakfast sandwich that may still hold the record as most delicious.  I'm not sure why they're hoarding this particular breakfast food, but the world needs to know.  And they need to start exporting Taylor ham around the country.  Luckily, my little corner of the world is blessed with provisions.  And no, I don't want to think about what actually is in Taylor ham.  Let me keep my delicious ignorance.

Taylor Ham Breakfast Sandwich

1 Kaiser roll, sliced in half
Unsalted butter
Slices of Taylor pork roll (Taylor ham)
1 large egg
Slices of Cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper

Spread butter on cut sides of roll and toast until golden brown.  Set aside.

Cut a slice halfway through each piece of Taylor ham to prevent curling when cooked.  Fry in a skillet in some butter until starting to get brown marks.  Place ham slices on one half of roll.

Fry an egg in butter, breaking the yolk so that it will mostly cook through.  Lay a slice or two of Cheddar cheese on the egg when it's nearly done.  Season with salt and pepper.  Lay the egg over the Taylor ham and put the other half of the roll on top.  Try to eat without making indecent noises.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Gordon Ramsay: Shepherd's Pie

I remember back when I was in high school going to a restaurant near me called Tippin's.  Yes, it was mostly a pie restaurant, but what I remembered the most was the luscious shepherd's pie that I would get.  I seriously never tried anything else.  Well, I happened to come across some frozen Tippin's pies at my local Tom Thumb grocery store, and it made me nostalgic, so I figured I would try to make my own shepherd's pie.  I seriously love this.  It's like a giant food hug.

Note: No Branston Pickle here.  Still delicious.  I used lamb stock instead of chicken stock since I had it.  Seemed like a good idea.  The original recipe calls for extra-large egg yolks.  I'm not buying a dozen eggs to get two yolks.  The large egg yolks seemed to work just fine.

Shepherd's Pie
Adapted from Cooking for Friends by Gordon Ramsay

1 pound lean ground lamb
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, minced
1 large carrot, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup red wine
1½ cups chicken stock
1½ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Leaves from a handful of fresh thyme sprigs
Leaves from a sprig fresh rosemary, chopped
2½ tablespoons minced Branston Pickle (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1¼ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
3½ tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons hot whole milk
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
2 large egg yolks

Put a wide, cast-iron or other heavy-based pan over medium to high heat.  Season the ground lamb with salt and pepper and fry in a thin layer of oil until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. (Fry the meat in two batches if necessary.)  Transfer the lamb to a bowl using a slotted spoon.

Add a little more olive oil to the pan and stir in the onion, carrot, and garlic.  Fry, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes.  Add the flour and tomato paste and stir for a couple of minutes longer.  Pour in the red wine and scrape the bottom of the pan to dislodge the browned sediment.  Let the wine boil until it has almost all evaporated and the pan is quite dry.

Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  Return the lamb to the pan and add the Worcestershire sauce and herbs.  Turn the heat to the lowest setting and partially cover the pan.  Simmer, stirring every once in a while, until the lamb is tender and the sauce has thickened, 30 to 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until tender when pierced with a small knife, 15 to 20 minutes.  Drain well, then return to the hot pan over low heat to dry out briefly.  Press the potatoes through a potato ricer into a large bowl.  Mix in the butter, hot milk, and 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan.  Season well to taste, then beat in the egg yolks and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Fold the minced Branston Pickle through the lamb mixture, then pour into an 8-cup baking dish.  Spoon the mashed potato generously on top of the lamb filling, starting from the outside and working your way into the middle.  Fluff up the mashed potato with a fork to make rough peaks.  Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and grind a little black pepper over the top.  Bake until the top is golden brown and filing is bubbling up around the sides, 20 to 25 minutes.  Serve with extra Branston Pickle, if you wish.

Makes 4 servings

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Food52: Salmon in Sorrel Sauce

I have had this recipe in my file for years.  Yes, years.  I'm a recipe packrat, I suppose.  But whenever I see something that sounds awesomely delicious, I squirrel it away into my binders and leave myself a mental note to be on the lookout for whatever random hard-to-find ingredient is required.  Then, a year or more later, when I finally find the rare ingredient, I have to remember what the heck I was planning to cook with it.  This, my friends, was worth the wait.

Salmon in Sorrel Sauce
From Food52

1 pound beautiful, wild, center cut salmon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups fresh sorrel leaves, chopped rough
¼ cup chervil leaves
½ cup chives, with flowers if possible
½ cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper

Adjust an oven rack to be at the very top of the oven.  Preheat the broiler.

Prepare all ingredients and stage.  This dish comes together quickly and you don't want to be scrambling.  Hold back the chive flowers, if you have them.

Slice the salmon into thin medallions.  A flexible salmon slicing knife is my choice, but any long thin knife will work well. It must be very sharp.  Slice on a slight angle cutting away the skin as you go. Aim for 16 pieces.  Place the salmon on a sheet pan lined with parchment and very lightly oiled. Brush the tops very lightly with oil.  Sprinkle salt and pepper over the fish.

When the oven is ready, start the sauce.  In a large, wide skillet, melt the butter until it starts to toast. It should be golden brown.  At this point, put the salmon under the broiler.

Add the sorrel, chervil and chives to the butter and coat quickly.  Allow them to wilt a little, and then pour in the cream.  Bring to a boil and reduce just until the sauce coats the back of a spoon.  Taste and adjust for salt and pepper, remembering you have seasoned the fish.

The salmon should now be ready (2 to 3 minutes).  Watch it carefully the entire time it's in the oven -- it could take you as little as 30 seconds, depending on your oven.

Dry the warm plates. Place four medallions per person on each plate and decorate with the sauce, being very generous. Sprinkle chive flower petals and serve with crusty bread.

Makes 4 servings

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Chowhound: Green Goddess Dressing

I hate salad.  I will absolutely look for any other option first.  But in case of salad emergency, I always default to beautiful Bibb lettuce and a nice creamy salad dressing.  And while ranch dressing is pretty ubiquitous at this point, I actually think this dressing is much more beautiful and subtle, with its lovely herbal flavor and tart creaminess.  And fresh made beats the bottle every time.

Green Goddess Dressing
Adapted from Chowhound

2 anchovy fillets, rinsed, patted dry, and coarsely chopped OR 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 medium garlic clove, smashed and peeled
1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
½ cup loosely packed fresh chervil leaves OR flat-leaf parsley leaves
¼ cup loosely packed fresh tarragon leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender with a rubber spatula as needed.  Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed.  Refrigerate in a container with a tight-fitting lid for up to 1 week.

Makes approximately 2 cups

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Boulevard: Chocolate Cherry Shortcakes

In the summer I absolutely love having strawberry shortcake.  It's a perfect dessert for those hot evenings, with those sweet berries and that beautiful fresh whipped cream.  But one can only eat so much strawberry shortcake.  So when I came across this stunning incarnation, I knew I had to try it.  The shortcakes are amazing on their own, but try and restrain yourself long enough to pull everything together.  In case you utterly fail, just know that the cherries are also fantastic on vanilla ice cream sans shortcake.

Chocolate Cherry Shortcakes
Adapted from Boulevard: The Cookbook

For the chocolate cherry biscuits:
2 cups self-rising flour
½ cup Valrhona or other Dutch-processed cocoa powder
½ cup sugar, plus additional for dipping
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup dried Bing cherries or dried sour cherries
1 cup Valrhona (or other premium) bittersweet chocolate chips, or nickel-size pieces chopped bittersweet chocolate
2 cups heavy cream
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the cherries jubilee:
3 cups fresh Bing cherries, halved and pitted
⅓ cup plus 2 tablespoons kirsch
½ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ cup brandy
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the vanilla ice cream:
1 vanilla bean
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
⅔ cup granulated sugar
5 large egg yolks

Make the biscuits:  Preheat the oven to 400°F. Stir the flour, cocoa, sugar, and salt together in a large bowl until well combined, then stir in the dried cherries and chocolate chips. Add the cream and stir until the mixture comes together into a somewhat stiff dough.

Turn out onto a clean cutting board and, with your hands, press the dough into a 6-inch square about 2 inches thick. With a long, thin knife, cut the dough into 9 (2-inch) squares.

Dip the tops of the biscuits into the melted butter and then into sugar, pressing lightly so it adheres. Place the biscuits 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until they’re light gold and spring back when pressed lightly. Set aside at room temperature for up to 4 hours.

Make the cherries jubilee:  Combine the cherries and the ⅓ cup kirsch in a bowl and let macerate for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally. Put half of the cherries, the sugar, and lemon juice into a saucepan and simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the liquid begins to thicken.

Remove from the heat, add the brandy, and, averting your face, carefully ignite the brandy with a long match. Let burn for about 1 minute to burn off the alcohol, then extinguish the flame by covering the pan. Remove the lid and continue to simmer the cherry mixture until it reduces to a syrup.  Add the remaining macerated cherries and cook for another 2 minutes.

With a slotted spoon, transfer the cherries to a bowl and reserve. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons kirsch to the syrup and set aside or refrigerate for up to 2 days (along with the reserved cherries in a separate container).

Make the ice cream:  Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds into a saucepan. Add the vanilla-bean pod, cream, and milk and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes.

Whisk the sugar and egg yolks in a small bowl just to combine them, then whisk in some of the warm milk mixture until blended. Stir the sugar-and-egg-yolk mixture into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard coats the back of a spoon (when you draw your finger across the back of the spoon, there should be a visible trail that doesn’t immediately flow back together).

Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a container and chill thoroughly, at least 2 hours. Freeze according to the ice cream maker’s instructions. The frozen ice cream should be stored in a tightly covered plastic or stainless-steel container. For the best flavor and texture, let it soften slightly at room temperature before serving.

To serve:  Preheat the oven to 350°F. Split the biscuits and put into the oven for about 5 minutes, or until warmed through. Heat the cherry syrup in a small skillet over medium heat, add the reserved cherries and the 2 tablespoons of butter, and swirl the pan until the butter has melted and combined with the syrup.

Center a warm biscuit bottom on 8 dessert plates or shallow bowls and put equal spoonfuls of the cherries and their syrup on each, reserving a cup or so. Place on a biscuit top, followed by a scoop of ice cream. Dollop the remaining cherries and syrup around or to the side of the biscuits.

Makes 8 servings

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Taste of the South: Beef Tips and Rice

I feel like at least 75% of my dinners are determined by what interesting things I find at the grocery store.  This time around it was a nice cut of tri-tip, which for some reason is like finding the holy grail.  Not sure why tri-tip is so unloved in this part of the country, because this recipe cooked up a fantastic, tender, gravy-rich concoction of meaty loveliness.  Ah, the beauty of comfort food.

Beef Tips and Rice
Adapted from Taste of the South magazine, Fall 2007

1 (3-pound) well-marbled tri-tip roast
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4 cups water
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons roasted beef bouillon
2 teaspoons roasted chicken bouillon
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup cornstarch
Hot cooked rice
Chopped parsley, as garnish

Cut roast into 1-inch cubes.  Toss with flour and set aside.

In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat.  Add onion and bell pepper and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, or until tender.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Add remaining 3 tablespoons oil to Dutch oven.  Add beef and cook for 10 minutes, or until meat is well browned, stirring regularly.

Return onion and bell pepper to Dutch oven.  Add water, sauces, and seasonings.  Bring to a boil.  Cover partially and reduce heat.  Let simmer for 1 hour.

In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and enough liquid from the cooking pot to make a paste, stirring until smooth.  Add to beef mixture; cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until mixture thickens.  Serve over rice.  Garnish with chopped parsley.

Makes 6 servings

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Galloping Gourmet: Abalone Victoria

Once upon a time I went to the Chinese grocery store and amused myself by wandering through the freezer aisles, when suddenly I came upon a package marked "abalone".  Having never seen such a thing in any normal WASP grocery, I immediately decided I needed to purchase this package of mystery shellfish.  The trouble came when I actually decided to cook the darn things.  Not many recipes out there.  Thank goodness for the Galloping Gourmet, right?  Just as a note, I wasn't super impressed with the rubbery texture, so I'm not enthused to finish off the package any time soon.

Abalone Victoria
From Graham Kerr, The Galloping Gourmet

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 cup bread crumbs
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons clarified butter
1 teaspoon lemon juice
All-purpose flour, to coat
8 sliced abalone steaks
Salt, to taste
White pepper, to taste
½ cup unsalted butter
1 tablespoon sherry

Slice abalone into thin ¼-inch steaks.  Place sliced abalone steaks on hard surface covered with plastic wrap.  Tenderize both sides of steaks by pounding with meat mallet.

Mix together parsley and bread crumbs. In a separate bowl, combine egg yolk, clarified butter and lemon juice. Place flour on a dish for dredging.

Season 1 side of abalone steaks with salt and pepper. Lightly flour and paint with egg mixture. Coat with parsley/bread crumb mixture.

Melt butter in frying pan. When butter begins to foam, add steaks and cook 1 minute each side. Add sherry and flame. Transfer to a serving dish and nap with browned butter from pan.

Makes 8 servings

Friday, August 11, 2017

Dinner Then Dessert and Andrew Zimmern: Slow Cooker Corned Beef with Bourbon and Molasses Glaze

I took a look through my freezer today, and I realized that I needed to start cooking some of the goodies I had stored up from all of my marketing adventures.  One of those goodies was a beautiful piece of corned beef.  I know it's a bit late to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, but really, it's always a good time for tender sliced corned beef with a sweet crunchy glaze.  Especially if that corned beef spent most of its time in a slow cooker instead of needing constant attention on the stove top.

Slow Cooker Corned Beef with Bourbon and Molasses Glaze
From Dinner Then Dessert blog and Andrew Zimmern

3 pounds corned beef, with spice packet
1 cup water, maybe less depending on size of slow cooker
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
¼ cup molasses
½ cup bourbon

Add corned beef, fat side up, to the slow cooker.  Add the minced garlic, spice packet, sugar, and pepper to the top of the meat and rub on.  Add the vinegar and bay leaf to the side of the corned beef and add just enough water to come up about a fourth of the way to the top of the meat.  Cook on low for 9 to 10 hours.

To make glaze, combine molasses, mustard powder, bourbon, and brown sugar in a bowl; stir until all of the ingredients are thoroughly combined. Let rest for 45 minutes.

Preheat broiler. Remove corned beef from cooking liquid, pat dry on a dish towel, and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour ⅓ of the glaze on top of the corned beef, distributing evenly. Place the corned beef 6 inches under broiler for about 1 minute. Remove and pour on half the remaining glaze. Place under the broiler for 30 to 40 seconds. Remove and pour the rest of the glaze onto the corned beef and broil another 30 to 40 seconds.

Makes 8 servings

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Daring Gourmet: Fettuccine Alfredo with Shrimp

For some reason I've been craving fettuccine alfredo with shrimp lately.  It's incredibly rich, so I'm only able to eat a small serving, but I still find myself thinking of it fondly when dinner rolls around and I'm otherwise out of ideas.  I realized lately that I had never actually made it myself, only ordered it at restaurants, so I figured my latest craving was the perfect time to give it a shot.

Fettuccine Alfredo with Shrimp
Adapted from Daring Gourmet blog

9 ounces fresh fettuccine, cooked al dente in lightly salted water; reserve ¼ cup of the pasta water
1 pound raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided use
1 tablespoons olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced, divided use
1¼ cups heavy cream
2 large egg yolks
1 cup freshly grated quality Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Small pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the olive oil and 2 minced cloves of garlic.  When the butter foams, add the shrimp and cook on both sides until pink throughout.  Season with salt and pepper.  When shrimp are cooked through, remove them from the pan to a dish and cover to keep warm.

In the same saucepan, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Add the remaining garlic and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add the heavy cream and bring to a gentle simmer.

Place the egg yolks in a small bowl and whisk in ¼ cup of the hot cream, whisking constantly.  Whisk the egg yolk mixture back into the pot, whisking constantly until incorporated. Simmer until the sauce is lightly thickened, about 2 minutes.  Whisk the cheese into the sauce until melted. Add the lemon zest, salt, nutmeg and 2 tablespoons of the reserved pasta water.

Remove the hot pasta from the water with pasta tongs, letting most of the water drip off, and place directly into the sauce. Stir until the pasta is thoroughly coated. Add a little more of the reserved pasta water if necessary.  Top with the sautéed shrimp and serve immediately for the best consistency.

Makes 4 servings

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Carnets de Cuisine - Du Périgord À L’elysée: Les Pêches Rôties à l'Angélique (Roasted Peaches with Angelica)

Ever since I saw the movie Haute Cuisine, I've been looking for the recipes of the woman depicted in the film: Danièle Mazet-Delpeuch, who served as chef to François Mitterrand, President of France, in the late eighties.  Unfortunately, the only cookbook I could obtain is entirely in French, with no English translation available.  Thank goodness for Google translator.  And since it is most certainly peach season here in Texas, I thought this was a lovely place to start sampling the beautiful foods that Ms. Mazet-Delpeuch brought to the French presidential palace.

Note: Since angelica liquor is basically unobtainable here in the US, I used St. Germain as a substitute this time around.  And I assumed that 1 small glass = one shot.  And of course I have plans of planting my own patch of angelica to make my own liquor in the future.  I found the candied angelica on Amazon.

Les Pêches Rôties à l'Angélique (Roasted Peaches with Angelica)
From Carnets de Cuisine - Du Périgord À L’elysée by Danièle Mazet-Delpeuch

8 well-ripened peaches
100g butter (about 3½ ounces)
50g powdered sugar (about 1¾ ounces)
100g candied angelica (about 3½ ounces)
1 small glass of angelica liquor
Madagascar vanilla ice cream

Peel the peaches and reserve in a bowl of water with lemon to avoid darkening. Julienne the candied angelica. Melt butter over low heat in a pan. Sauté peaches, two or three at a time, letting color slightly (about 10 minutes).

When all peaches are roasted, reunite them in the pan, then sprinkle in the sugar and slightly caramelize the peaches, turning them in their juice. Set aside the peaches and keep them warm. Deglaze the pan with a glass of angelica liquor and add the julienned angelica.

Arrange the peaches on plates, accompanied by a scoop of ice cream. Drizzle with hot juice. Serve immediately.

Portions for 8 people

Saturday, July 22, 2017

How Sweet Eats: Sweet Chili Salmon Skewers with Coconut Cilantro Rice

I realized the other day that I haven't made fish in a while.  And I love fish.  That situation needed to be remedied.  So I'm playing around on Pinterest, and I see this lovely photo of this tender pink salmon, glistening and beckoning to me.  And it was like fate, because I had all of the ingredients except the fish.  I love how that works.  So I went to the store, and it was like double fate, because they had this beautiful wild coho salmon on sale.  This recipe doesn't look like much, but it's fantastic.  I really struggled with marking this as four servings because I honestly shoved two skewers in my greedy little mouth.  Maybe have a bunch of veggies ready on the side when you serve this for more than two hungry people.

Note:  Next time I think I'll double skewer these, because the fish cubes went a little wonky each time I turned the kebabs.  A double skewer setup would probably stabilize the delicate fish a bit more.  Live and learn.

Sweet Chili Salmon Skewers with Coconut Cilantro Rice
From How Sweet Eats blog

4 (4-ounce) salmon fillets, cut into chunks
Salt and pepper
1 bunch of green onions, sliced into 1 to 2-inch pieces
1 cup sweet chili sauce, plus extra for topping
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
2 limes, cut into wedges
Coconut Cilantro Rice

Place the salmon in a bowl and season with salt and pepper, then cover with the sweet chili sauce, tossing well to coat. Take the chunks and skewer them with about 3 or 4 pieces of green onion in between (5 to 6 salmon chunks per skewer), beginning and ending with the salmon.

Heat a large skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat and add the coconut oil. Place the skewers in the skillet and cook until opaque and golden on all sides, about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Remove the salmon and place it on a plate. Brush with extra sweet chili sauce, drizzle with the toasted sesame oil, and sprinkle with the cilantro and sesame seeds. Finish with a spritz of lime. Serve over coconut cilantro rice with lime wedges and extra chili sauce on the side.

Makes 4 servings

Coconut Cilantro Rice
1½ cups white jasmine rice
1 cup canned coconut milk
1 cup water
1 tablespoon coconut oil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup chopped cilantro

Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat and add rice, coconut milk, water and salt. Stir, then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and let cook for 15 to 18 minutes, until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork, then stir in coconut oil. Stir in the cilantro and serve.