Sunday, January 29, 2017

David Lebovitz and The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook: Bergamot Marmalade

Since it's the peak of citrus season, I took a stroll through my local fancy grocery to see what I could find.  In among the mounds of oranges and lemons and pomelos, I happened across a basket of bergamots.  They smelled absolutely heavenly, so I bought a whole bag.  Once I got home, I flipped through my jam books until I found one that suited my purpose and spent the next couple of days prepping and cooking.  When I finally got to taste my masterpiece, I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor.  The marmalade is sour and sweet like other citrus preserves, but the bergamots give it a strong floral note that I've never experienced in marmalade before.  Be careful with the bergamots though...these were the sour ones.  Apparently there is a French citrus fruit masquerading as a bergamot that isn't quite as sour.

Bergamot Marmalade
Adapted from David Lebovitz and The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook

8 bergamots (about 3½ pounds)
3½ pounds sugar, or more to taste
1½ ounces lemon juice
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier

Day 1
Cut five bergamots (about 2 pounds) into eighths.  Place the bergamot eighths in a non-reactive saucepan where they will fit snugly in a single layer.  Add enough cold water for the fruit to bob freely.  Cover lightly and let rest overnight at room temperature.

Day 2
Prepare the cooked bergamot juice: Bring the pan with the bergamot eighths to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat to medium.  Cook the fruit at a lively simmer, covered, for 2 to 3 hours, or until the bergamots are very soft and the liquid has become slightly syrupy.  As the bergamots cook, press down on them gently with a spoon every 30 minutes or so, adding a little more water if necessary.  The water level should stay consistently high enough for the fruit to remain submerged as it cooks.

When the bergamots have finished cooking, strain their juice by pouring the hot fruit and liquid into a medium strainer or colander suspended over a heat-proof storage container or non-reactive saucepan.  Cover the entire setup well with plastic wrap and let drip overnight at room temperature.

Meanwhile, cut the remaining 3 bergamots (about 1½ pounds) in half and seed them.  The cut each half in quarters lengthwise and slice very thinly crosswise.  Place the slices in a wide stainless-steel kettle and cover amply with cold water.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes.  Drain, discarding the liquid.  Repeat this process, then cover the blanched bergamot slices with 1 inch cold water.  Bring to a boil over high heat, decrease the heat to medium, and cook at a lively simmer, covered, for 30 to 60 minutes, or until the fruit is very tender.  As the fruit cooks, stir it gently every 15 minutes or so, adding a little more water if necessary.  The water level should stay consistently high enough for the fruit to remain submerged as it cooks.  Remove the pan from the heat, cover tightly, and let rest overnight at room temperature.

Day 3
Remove the plastic wrap from the bergamot eighths and their juice and discard the bergamots.  Strain the juice well through a very fine-mesh strainer to remove any lingering solids.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, lemon juice, cooked bergamot juice, and bergamot slices and their liquid, stirring well.  Transfer the mixture to an 11- or 12-quart copper preserving pan or a wide non-reactive kettle.

Bring the marmalade mixture to a boil over high heat.  Cook it at a rapid boil until the setting point is reached; this will take a minimum of 30 minutes, but it may take longer depending on your individual stove and pan.  Initially, the mixture will bubble gently for several minutes; then, as more moisture cooks out of it and its sugar concentration increases, it will begin foaming.  Do not stir it at all during the initial bubbling; then, once it starts to foam, stir it gently every few minutes with a heatproof rubber spatula.  As it gets close to being done, stir it every minute or two to prevent burning, decreasing the heat slightly if necessary.  The marmalade is ready for testing when its color darkens slightly and its bubbles become very small.  Stir in Grand Marnier.

When the marmalade has finished cooking, turn off the heat but do not stir.  Using a stainless-steel spoon, skim off any surface foam and discard.  Pour the marmalade into sterilized jars and process for 10 minutes.

Makes 6 half-pint jars

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Allrecipes: Crab Rangoon and New York Times: Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce

It's the new year!  The Chinese New Year, that is.  And what a great excuse to make something delicious.  Now, I'm sure this isn't super authentically Chinese.  I doubt very much that they play with cream cheese to any extent.  But this appetizer is on literally every American Chinese restaurant's menu, so I figure it's fair game.  The hardest part of the whole thing is shaping all of the little rangoons, so if you have help, it will go that much faster.

Crab Rangoon
Adapted from

8 ounces cream cheese
1 (6-ounce) can lump crab meat, drained well
⅓ cup chopped green onions
1 clove crushed garlic
1 teaspoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon fish sauce
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon sesame oil
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 package (3½-inch square) wonton wrappers
Canola oil for frying
Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce

Mix cream cheese, crab meat, green onions, garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, sesame oil, and cayenne pepper together with a fork until ingredients are blended thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, 1 or 2 hours.

Keep wonton wrappers moist by covering with a damp paper towel. Place a small bowl of water nearby on the work surface. With a wet fingertip, moisten surface of wonton. Place 1½ teaspoons of crab filling in center of wonton. Fold 2 opposite corners toward each other over the filling to form a triangle. Working gently from the bottom, squeeze out any air bubbles.  Bring together the two "arms" of the long side of the triangle and pinch together to create an envelope shape. Place on a dry surface. Continue with remaining wonton wrappers.

Heat oil in deep fryer to 350°F. Fry wontons in batches until golden brown and crispy, gently moving them around in the oil with a strainer to brown each surface, about 3 minutes. Let cool about a minute before eating.

Makes 6 servings

Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce
From Molly O'Neill as seen on The New York Times Cooking website

1½ tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon quality ketchup
1 teaspoon soy sauce
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon corn or peanut oil
1½ teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water

Combine the rice vinegar, sugar, ketchup, soy sauce and water in a small bowl, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Set aside.

Heat a small, heavy saucepan. Add the oil and swirl to glaze the bottom of the pan. When the oil is hot enough to sizzle a piece of garlic, add the garlic and ginger and stir gently until fragrant, 10 to 15 seconds, adjusting the heat so they sizzle gently without browning. Add the sugar mixture, stir to blend, then raise the heat to bring the mixture to a bubbly simmer, stirring.

Reduce the heat to medium-low; stir the cornstarch and water to recombine it and add it to the pan. Stir until the mixture thickens and becomes glossy, about 20 seconds. Turn off the heat and cover the pot to keep the sauce warm until ready to serve. The sauce can be made ahead, stored in the refrigerator and then reheated.

Makes ½ cup

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Steak & Ale: Hawaiian Chicken

For some reason, I was reminiscing about restaurants that are no longer with us.  That have gone the way of the dinosaurs.  Some I don't really miss, but some make me sad.  Like Steak and Ale.  Going to Steak and Ale was a super big treat when I was kid because even though it was actually pretty reasonably priced, it was still a steakhouse, and my parents still had three children to feed.  I loved going to the salad bar and loading up my plate, but I also loved ordering chicken.  Yes, I know, I seem to have a problem with ordering chicken at steakhouses (hello, Alice Springs Chicken!).  At Steak and Ale, the chicken to have was the Hawaiian Chicken, a grilled marinated chicken breast topped with a grilled slice of pineapple.  Somehow in my wandering down memory lane, just somehow, I happened to stumble across a website where someone had the originally Steak and Ale kitchen cookbook and spilled the beans on the recipe.  So this is the real deal chicken, and I can vouch that it tastes just as good as I remember.  Serve it was some rice pilaf, and you've got a trip down memory lane.

Hawaiian Chicken
From Steak and Ale restaurant, as seen on Red Dirt Chronicles

½ cup soy sauce
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons dry sherry
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon granulated garlic
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1¾ cups Dole pineapple juice
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 pineapple slices

Combine the soy sauce, sherry, sugar, garlic, vinegar, and pineapple juice in a bowl and stir until the sugar dissolves.  Pour the marinade into a gallon-size zip-top bag.  Cut the chicken breasts in half widthwise (knife parallel to the cutting board).  Drop the chicken breasts into the marinade and seal the bag.  Marinate the chicken for 36 hours, turning every ½ day.

Grill both chicken and pineapple and serve over rice pilaf (with green and red peppers and almond slices).

Other ideas with this marinade:
Instead of the pineapple, if you top the chicken with a slice of Provolone, shredded Colby cheese, diced tomatoes, and green onions, you have the Steak and Ale Southwest Chicken.

If you soak a 7-ounce center-cut sirloin in the marinade and grill it, you have the Steak and Ale Kensington Club steak.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Wolfgang Puck: Truffled Chicken Pot Pie

In a follow up to my fantastic ribeye, I have also located the most delicious chicken pot pie recipe ever.  The picture doesn't really do it justice, but this is the pot pie that Wolfgang Puck serves all the fancy people after the Oscars each year.  I can honestly say that it's probably good I'm not one of those people, because I'd probably be about 500 pounds if this is the kind of food they're served on a regular basis.  The filling is so rich and creamy, the puff pastry so buttery and crisp...  It's perfect, really.  And don't forget the truffle.  It adds that perfect last touch of decadence.

Note:  I actually located a fresh truffle at my local foodie paradise, which I proceeded to grate over the four pies.  You don't need a ton, or it will overpower the dish.  I used a microplane to grate it, but you could also cut super-thin slices if you happen to have a truffle shaver.

Truffled Chicken Pot Pie
Adapted from Wolfgang Puck

7 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 carrots, peeled and cut into coins
2 large ribs celery, cut into ¼-inch slices
2 to 3 leeks, white and light green parts only, cut in half and then cut into ¼-inch slices
6 ounces mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
⅓ cup frozen petite peas
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 breasts from a rotisserie chicken, skin removed and meat cut into bite-sized pieces
1 black truffle (optional)
Approximately ½ pound frozen puff pastry, defrosted following package instructions
1 large egg

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large sauté pan.  Add the carrots, celery, leeks, and mushrooms, and cook until the mushrooms give up their liquid and the celery and carrots begin to soften.  Add the garlic and saute for another minute.  Add the peas and cook for another minute.  Spoon the cooked vegetables into a bowl and set aside.

Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in a large, tall saucepan. Add the flour and whisk to ensure there are no lumps.  Cook the flour until the mixture turns light brown. Add the chicken stock, a little at a time, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Cook out this mixture for 5 to 10 minutes while continuously stirring as it thickens. Check the consistency by dipping the back of a spoon into the sauce and running your finger along the spoon. You want the sauce to cling to the spoon and not run over the swipe you made.

Continue to cook and stir the sauce over medium heat until you reach the correct consistency. Season with the salt, pepper, and cayenne (if using). Taste the sauce and see if your sauce needs more seasoning. Next, add the cream and stir to combine. Then, add the chicken and the cooked vegetables to the sauce. Cook this mixture for another two to three minutes and then spoon it into four pot pie dishes.  Finely grate the truffle evenly over the mixture in each dish.  Set aside.

Roll out the puff pastry, using a bit of extra flour to ensure the pastry doesn’t stick to your work surface. Use a bowl or plate about an inch larger than the dishes you are cooking your pot pies in as a guide to cut out your pastry.

Break the egg in a small dish and add a tablespoon of water or cream. Whisk with a fork and brush this egg wash on the rim and edges of each pot pie dish. Lay your pastry circles over the top of each dish, being careful not to stretch the pastry. Seal the edges of the pastry by lightly pushing it onto the rim of each dish to make sure it is secure. Then brush the top and sides with more egg wash. Place your pot pies on a large baking sheet and bake for 25 to 35 minutes. Bake until your pastry is a nice golden, dark brown and there are no more grayish raw patches.

Let cool for five minutes before serving.

Makes 4 pot pies

Monday, January 02, 2017

Anova Culinary and Serious Eats: Sous Vide Butter-Basted Ribeye

Attention, attention!  I have officially located the recipe for the most delicious steak you can possibly make in your home kitchen.  I am not even kidding.  Not even a little bit.  I really hope you invest in a sous vide cooker, because this steak is fantastic.  FANTASTIC.  It is perfectly medium-rare throughout, tender as can be, browned on the outside, and drowned in butter.  I could not stop stuffing my face.  Wait, you're still reading this?  You should be on Amazon looking up sous vide cookers!  Get cracking!

Sous Vide Butter-Basted Ribeye
Adapted from Anova Culinary and Serious Eats

1 beautiful 1-inch thick bone-in ribeye
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 sprigs thyme
1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Season steak liberally with salt and pepper.  Place into a vacuum bag with thyme and garlic, ensuring there is some thyme and garlic on both sides of the meat.  Seal with a vacuum sealer.

Heat a sous vide water bath to 55°C/131°F.  When the water bath has reached temperature, add the steak and cook for 1 to 1½ hours.  At the end of the cooking time, remove the bag from the water bath, and then remove the steak from the cooking bag, reserving the thyme and garlic.

Heat a cast-iron or stainless-steel skillet with grapeseed oil over high heat until the oil smokes. Add the steak and sear on the first side until golden brown, about 1 minute. Flip the steak and add the butter and reserved thyme and garlic to the pan. As the butter melts, tilt the pan and spoon the butter over the steak until the steak is well-browned on both sides, about 1 more minute.

Makes 2 servings

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Emeril Lagasse: Blackeyed Pea Jambalaya

Every year I try to do something different with my blackeyed peas.  Because you have to eat them on New Year's Day.  If you don't, there will be no good luck for you the rest of the year.  And that would be a shame.  So each year I try something different, something interesting.  How many ways are there to make blackeyed peas?  I aim to find out.  This year I decided to go the Cajun route, courtesy of Emeril.  This is certainly not a vegetarian dish, blackeyed peas are not replacing anything.  But what it IS is a way to sneak blackeyed peas onto the plates of the unsuspecting.  Boyfriend/husband doesn't like blackeyed peas?  What he doesn't know won't hurt him.  And if you do like these lucky peas, this is certainly a delicious way to cook them up this year.

Blackeyed Pea Jambalaya
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces tasso ham, diced into small pieces
1 pound andouille sausage, cut into ¼-inch slices
2 cups chopped yellow onion (1 large onion)
4 ribs celery, chopped
1 red or green bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeño, minced
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons minced garlic
4 bay leaves
5 sprigs fresh thyme
8 cups chicken stock
1 pound dried blackeyed peas, soaked overnight
2 cups long grain rice
½ pound medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped
Emeril's Essence, to season
½ cup chopped green onions
2 tablespoons chopped flatleaf parsley

In a large pot over medium heat, add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the tasso and andouille sausage, and render for 5 minutes. Stir in the onion, celery, bell pepper, jalapeño, salt, cayenne pepper, black pepper, garlic, bay leaves, and thyme. Sauté for 5 minutes, or until the onions are wilted. Stir in the chicken stock and the peas. Bring the liquid up to a brisk simmer, reduce heat to medium-low and cook partially covered just until the peas are nearly tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Stir in the rice, bring the liquid to an intense boil, stir, cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Uncover the pot, stir the rice and peas again to evenly distribute the rice, then cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Cook, undisturbed, until the rice has absorbed the liquid, about 10 minutes longer. Remove from the heat.

Sprinkle the shrimp with Emeril's Essence to season. Using a large fork, gently fluff the rice and toss the shrimp, green onions, and parsley into the rice. Return the cover and allow to steam (undisturbed), for an additional 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Remove the thyme stalks and bay leaves and serve warm.

Makes 10 to 12 servings