Monday, December 15, 2008

Green Bean and Pancetta Soup

Pancetta is a tasty, tasty addition to anything. I say any fatty pork product is a delicious addition.
Green Beans, Pancetta, and Truflle Oil made into a creamy soup.

Fry Pancetta in pan.
Add garlic.
Add green beans,(about 2 1/2 pounds) butter, and truffle oil.
Sautee all ingredients together until beans are cooked through, but still crisp.
Pour all ingredients into blender/Cuisinart and blend thoroughly.
Pour into pot and add two bay leaves.
Pour in about a half cup of heavy cream.
Simmer about 20 minutes.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Remove bay leaves.
Drizzle with Truffle Oil and serve.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Blog Tagging...

Will from cruttenden.blogspot has tagged me in a new blog chain. I was happy to be tagged in one of these before, but found that some of the individuals I tagged did not respond, so that was a bit disheartening.
Regardless, I always love checking in on Will, and am more than pleased to pass this along in his are the rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they've been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Let's see 6 random things about we go.

1. I have never jumped out of an airplane, I used to think that I really wanted to, but now, not so sure.
2. Horror movies sometimes get too much in my head.
3. There is nothing like a perfectly flaky and buttery croissant in the morning.
4. I detested fresh tomatoes until I went to Italy, and coffee for that matter.
5. I started to teach myself the electric bass guitar six years ago, (still workin on it).
6. I love to dance.

Ok, that wasn't too hard, now my links:

a world in a pan
heights eats
cage free tomato
la vie de la ville
tea and cookies

Thanks again to Will.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Eggbattered Chicken with White Truffle Cream Sauce, Roasted Blue Bonnet Potatoes, and Grilled Eggplant

Lightly battered pounded chicken breasts, pan fried in butter and olive oil.
Chopped garlic, sauteed in olive oil, butter, and Samos Island wine, finished with heavy cream and White Truffle Oil.
Garlic, Olive Oil, Rosemary, and butter tossed with halved Blue Bonnet Potatoes and roasted in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, tossing from time to time. Then increase heat to 400 degree for an additional 10-15 minutes.
Halved and sliced Eggplant, grilled with Olive Oil, and salt and pepper.

I can't remember the last time I had Blue Bonnet Potatoes, if I have, and I absolutely loved their nutty flavor. They were delicious with the robust flavors of the Rosemary and Garlic.
The Truffle Oil brought the simple cream sauce to another level and dressed upon the crisp chicken was just a delight.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Diwali Celebrations

A few weeks ago I had an afternoon soirée to honor the celebration of Diwali. Diwali is a holiday celebrated throughout parts of India for a period of five days.
Some of the details in the celebrations are the lighting of candles and oil lamps throughout the house, and of course, food. Glorious sweet and savory treats are to be shared and enjoyed together and throughout the days of celebration.

Here is the menu, and of course all made from scratch.

=Baingan Bharta (eggplant)
=Chapatis (flatbread)
=Palak Paneer (spinach and cheese)
=Cucumber Raita (yogurt with chopped cucumber and lime juice)
=Butter Chicken
=Dahl Makhani (black lentils with kidney beans)
=Goat Biryiani (goat meat with spiced rice)=Carrot Halwa (sweet milk and carrot pudding)
=Badam Phirni (sweet almond pudding)

Everything turned out absolutely delicious.
In addition to my significant other's immense contributions and his family's recipes, I have to give credit to Sanjay Thumma. His website really helped out with all of the preparations for this feast. Not only does his website have great recipes, but it also has wonderful videos demonstrating techniques. In addition to his website he has a separate blog. (He also seems very nice and in one of the videos I watched, his food actually brought tears to his eyes. Beautiful!)

We started the meal with a tea tasting of Three Chrysanthemum Blossoming Tea from the Red Blossom Tea Company in San Francisco.

I acquired the tea my last trip to the city, and was delighted to indulge in a tea tasting at their store in China Town.
The tea was a perfect start to our sumptuous feast and celebration. The buds opened up completely unleashing their sweet honeysuckle flavor.

We had the Samosas next, and I have to say for the first attempt at making these bundles of spicy potatoes and peas - they were crisp, and magnificent.

With the main courses, we sipped on Mango Lassis (yogurt and mango puree with a hint of sweetness, and just a bit of water to thin out the consistency) with shot glasses filled with chilled vodka and Lemons for a squeeze. The Lassi by itself was a delightful complement to the savory dishes, but with the vodka it gave that extra little citrus boost.

We spent all afternoon and evening reveling in the fabulous dishes we created as we discussed the significance and relevance of the celebrations we were acknowledging. There is nothing like enjoying food and friendship surrounded by candlelight and amazing aromas.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Creamy Roasted Squash and Saffron Soup

I absolutely love fall squash. Soups, tarts, pies, pasta you name it.
Being the season for the squash, I acquired both Butternut and Acorn Squash at the market the other day and I couldn't resist. This soup is so easily prepared. I could have added many varieties of root vegetables but I decided to keep it simple with just the Acorn and Butternut squash, and carrots.
Here we have the Creamy Roasted Squash and Saffron Soup:

1 med sized Butternut squash
1 med Acorn Squash

4 carrots chopped
1 med onion chopped

2 cloves garlic chopped
1/4 stick butter
7 strands saffron
2 bay leaves
8 oz heavy cream
2-3 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
3 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Chop both squash, carrots, and garlic. Scoop out seeds from the squash and place on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt, and bake in 425 degree oven until toasty and golden.

Place veggies on a baking sheet and dress with 3 pads of butter and sprinkle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until all vegetables are tender.

Sautee chopped onion in 3 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp olive oil until lightly golden. Add chopped garlic and sautee for one minute. Add veggies and stir to mix. Pour in stock to almost cover veggies. Add Bay leaves and Saffron. Simmer for at least 20-30 minutes. With an immersion blender blend soup till desired consistently. ( I left mine just a bit chunky, but mostly smooth)
Pour in cream and simmer for another 10-15 minutes.

Serve with toasted seeds as garnish.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Gala Apple Crumble

The fruit crumble is such a simple and satisfying dessert, or breakfast for that matter. It takes hardly any time to assemble and yet the reward is sweet and satisfying.
I purchased some Gala Apples from Patterson Fruit Farm in Chesterland, Ohio and had every intention in creating a delicate apple pie. But, the apples slowly were eaten one by one and I ended up having only three left. This specific afternoon, I had just finished breakfast and happened to glance upon these three lonely Gala Apples just waiting to be turned into something delicious. Not really wanting to get into a long process of dough creation, the Crumble was the best option.
So here we have:

The Gala Apple Crumble

3 Gala Apples sliced, and then chopped into somewhat small pieces
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1/2 tsp all spice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 Tbs granulated sugar
2 Tbs brown sugar
1 Tbs butter
For Topping:
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbs brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 Tbs oats
2 Tbs cold butter
pinch baking soda

In a medium mixing bowl add all ingredients from top section and stir to mix. Pour into greased baking dish of choice. (I used a bundt pan this time)
Using same bowl add all Topping ingredients and mix the cold butter in until it is a crumby texture. Pour topping onto the Apples.
Bake at 375 degrees til golden and bubbly, about twenty minutes.
As I mentioned above, I only had the three apples left so of course, the recipe can be multiplied for larger amounts. I served the Crumble with a little cream poured over top.
The creaminess and the apples that were both sweet and tart were a perfect afternoon delight.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Wine Braised Oxtails

Oxtails are made from time to time here in this household due to my significant other bringing these meaty morsels into my world some years ago. I had been trying to come up with different recipes using the Oxtail for some time. As usual, I find something I like, change it a bit, and throw some stuff together and then turn out with something that tastes wonderful. So here we have succulent:
Wine Braised Oxtails with Parsnips and Asparagus

11 Oxtails of varying sizes ( I had 6 large ones and 5 smaller)
2 large carrots (peeled)
5 stalks of celery with leaves
3 shallots
5 cloves of garlic
1 medium onion
1 medium bunch parsley
4 bay leaves
1 1/2 bottles dry red wine
2-4 cups water depending
Pour wine into pot and boil to reduce by about half.
Add bay leaves and coarsely chopped parsley. Clean Oxtails, season with salt and pepper, and brown on all sides in deep pot.

Remove and set aside.
Coarsely chop all vegetables and in separate pan cook on low heat with a bit of butter and olive oil until softened.
Pour some of wine into Oxtail pot to de glaze the bottom.
Arrange Oxtails in pot in one layer and cover with vegetables.
Pour wine mixture over top and then fill with hot water until just covering the vegetables. Add more pepper and pinch salt.
Cover pot and place in 325 degree oven for at least 2 1/2 hours if not 3 hours.

Oxtails should be very tender and just about falling off of the bone.
When finished braising, pour over cheesecloth and strain out vegetables and set Oxtails aside. Reserve liquid and place over med/high heat to reduce. Whisk in pieces (2-4 Tbsp) of cold butter to thicken and silken sauce.

8 Parsnips (peeled)
4 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup milk
(salt and pepper)
Boil Parsnips until soft, and then mash adding butter, milk, and salt and pepper.
Trim ends and saute with butter, olive oil, and garlic. Salt and Pepper to taste.

Arrange items accordingly and pour sauce over Oxtails.

The Oxtails, Parsnips, and Asparagus made a perfect meal.
The tender and fatty oxtails, the sweet and creamy Parsnips, and the crisp and garlicky Asparagus, not to mention the rich and silky wine sauce ended up just being perfectly delicious.

Friday, September 19, 2008

White Chocolate and Espresso Pot de Creme

Ok, I have been out of the loop for a bit, the cooking just hasn't been happening around here lately. I had been wondering why something felt amiss, and that explains it...
I have been contemplating what my next sweet experiment would be, and this won. Previously, I experimented with the Pot de Creme, using a Belgium Bittersweet Chocolate, but this time we are going with Ghirardelli White Chocolate and some brewed espresso (no instant stuff around here).
My first attempt at the Pot de Creme was not as creamy as I would have liked, so I made sure these beauties did not fall to the same tragedy..Here we have:
White Chocolate and Espresso Pot de Creme

3 cups heavy cream (1 cup for whipping at the end)
1/2 cup whole milk
5 ounces White Chocolate
6 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup freshly brewed Espresso

Chop chocolate into somewhat even pieces.
Combine 2 cups cream and milk in saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir occasionally until simmer. Remove from heat and add chocolate pieces and stir until thoroughly melted. Set aside and let cool a few minutes.
In separate bowl whisk together eggs and sugar.
Slowly pour chocolate mixture into egg mixture stirring constantly.
Strain mixture into separate bowl and let cool another ten minutes or so.
In this recipe I filled six ramekins with the mixture that I have so far. I then stirred in the Espresso. The new mixture was then poured into the rest of the ramekins. So I ended up with the two different types.
Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes or less, I like to take a peek around 30 minutes.
When finished, centers of custard should still jiggle a bit. Remove from oven and let cool.
Whip remaining cream until stiff and add a few Tbsps of confectioners sugar.
Top Pot de Creme accordingly.

As I mentioned above I was very careful on the cooking time, because I didn't want to end up with the consistency I got the first go around. And I have to be honest, that some of the Pot de Creme this time around fell to the same tragedy, but fortunately not all of them did!

The Espresso babies came out perfectly.

So creamy, and the flavor of the Espresso was bursting with the sweetness of the White Chocolate. But...a few of the White Chocolate, not so lucky. Don't get me wrong, the flavor was there, but they just weren't that perfect creaminess I am looking for.
There is always next time, and there will be, I promise!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Plum Clafouti

I was inspired by Laura of A World In A Pan to try to make a Clafouti. Clafouti sounded like such a simple and tasty dessert that I wanted to see what it was all about. Laura's most recent presentation was with Apricots, which sounded scrumptious. I happened to have some plums laying around so I used those instead. In addition to the fresh plums I decided to make a plum and Apricot Brandy Syrup that I covered the bottom of the baking dish with after greasing it with butter.
As the Clafouti baked the sweet syrup permeated into the batter giving it a beautiful zing and kick from the brandy.
Also, my Clafouti turned into a puffed up creation similar to a Yorkshire Pudding. Light, airy, and yet dense and custard like...Although, I don't think that is what it was supposed to be traditionally, it was delicious!
Thanks Laura for the recipe and the inspiration, here we have my
Plum Clafouti.

2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup sugar
2 plums peeled
1/3 cup Apricot Brandy
pinch of salt
butter for greasing baking dish

Peel plums reserving excess juice. Chop plums into chunks.
In a pan add Brandy and plum juice that was created when peeling plums. Add pinch of sugar and one slice of plum skin. Simmer on low to medium heat until reduced by half and set aside.
Beat eggs until light. Whisk in milk and vanilla. Whisk in flour and salt.
Pour brandy syrup into a well buttered baking dish.

Pour in batter over syrup. Place Plum chunks throughout batter.
Bake for 20-35 minutes at 325 degrees.
As i mentioned above, my Caflouti doubled in size in the oven then fell back down upon itself after cooling for a few minutes.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Star Anise and Mango Cocktail

I had a little get together the other night: International World Tour Olympic Observance Party, for short. I made about 8 dishes which were inspired from different countries, so we needed a cocktail that would set off the mood for the evening.
Here we have the Star Anise and Mango Cocktail.
I made a Star Anise syrup ahead of time, just like that of the Ginger Syrup previously mentioned. Very simple; sugar, water, and a few Star Anise steeped in the syrup.

3 ounces vodka
1/2 ounce Star Anise Syrup
1 ounce mashed Mango
splash of lime juice
Put all ingredients in metal shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into martini glass, top with soda water and garnish with one of the Star Anise from the syrup.
Of course you can leave out the soda if you would like, but again I like the bubbles.Cin Cin!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Zucchini and Yellow Squash with Saffron and Sage Soup

Tis the season for squash and zucchini and what better than a soup. A very simple soup started with onions and garlic, and finished with a touch of cream. With the additions of a few leaves of chopped sage and a few strands of Saffron, this simple soup transformed into a bowl of sweet and smoky summer time.

1 half medium sized yellow onion chopped
3 cloves garlic chopped
1/2 stick butter to coat bottom of pan
2 Yellow squash thinly sliced then chopped
2 Zucchini of preference, thinly sliced then chopped
1/3 cup cream
3 Sage leaves chopped
5-8 strands Saffron
2 cups chicken stock
water if desired to thin soup

Sautée onions in butter until almost brown. Add garlic and sautée for a minute or two. Add chopped Zucchini/Squash, sautée for a few minutes until incorporated with onion/garlic. Add chopped Sage.
Add stock/water to cover just a bit over vegetables. I lightly blended the veggies with an immersion blender but you can leave it all the way chunky. Add Saffron, stir and simmer for twenty minutes. Pour in cream and simmer for a few more minutes.
There you have it, a simple deep flavored summer soup.
Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Marbeld Chocolate and Banana Muffins

I have been using chocolate a lot lately. I bought large amounts of a Belgium Bittersweet Chocolate I found a few weeks ago, so I have to use it right? Hence the previous posts of the Pot de Creme and the Chocolate Fudge Pound Cake.
Well, now we have the Marbled Chocolate and Banana Muffins.
I used sticks of vegetable oil instead of butter for the first time as an experiment, and I must say they turned out pretty tasty. I also used yogurt instead of milk and instead of more oil based ingredients. They turned out very moist and you can feel better about eating several of them since it's yogurt right?

3 or 4 bananas
1/2 cup vegetable oil stick
1/2 cup yogurt
2 eggs
1 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate melted
Cream oil, sugar and eggs. Mix in yogurt. Mix in dry ingredients until all well blended. Right before ready to put in muffin pan, add chocolate and fold into batter, but not mixed in. Pour into pans and bake for about 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ginger Lime Martinis

I have been using Ginger in my cocktails lately, partly because I made a big batch of Ginger Syrup but, mainly because they taste so good! Especially during the warmer months the hint of tanginess from the ginger brings a wonderful extra element to the complexity of the cocktail. These martinis are so simple and delicious.
Cheers to Ginger Lime Martinis;

(As I have mentioned in the past, any of these cocktails can be made with Gin instead of Vodka. I just prefer Vodka over gin, but please feel free.)

3 oz. Vodka
1/2 oz Ginger Syrup
Juice of half of lime
Shake all ingredients in metal shaker with ice. Strain into martini glass and top with soda water.
I have topped these cocktails with soda. I really like the bubble addition to my martini. Of course you could use a Champagne, Cava, or a Prosecco, but sometimes the dryness can over power the Ginger.
Also, I decided to garnish the cocktail with a slice of Cucumber instead of a lime. (which would make more sense) Really, you could/should garnish with both. I personally love Cucumbers and I like to nibble them as I enjoy my Martini.

Cin Cin!

Chocolate Fudge Pound Cake

More chocolate...
I was having an impromptu dinner party the other night with 8 people including myself. So, I had to throw something together for dessert as well as the meal. For the meal I decided upon; Pork Schnitzel, Scalloped Potatoes, and grilled Zucchini, Squash, and Peppers with Lemon and herbs. For the dessert: Chocolate Fudge Pound Cake served with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (that I did not make, but will in the future) and a Bittersweet Chocolate drizzle that hardened on the Ice Cream like Stracciatella.

The pound cake came out a just a bit dry. When I think of pound cake, let alone Fudge Pound cake, I want some dense cake, ya know? It might have been due to ten minutes too long in the oven...When I plated the dessert I warmed up the cake and then sliced it for individual servings.

2 sticks butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs

4-5 oz. Bittersweet Chocolate chopped/melted
2 1/4 cups flour
3 tbsp. water (you could use brandy or other booze instead)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 cup yogurt

Cream butter and sugar in bowl. Add eggs one at a time mixing as you go.
Mix in melted Chocolate. Add water.
In separate bowl mix flour, salt, and baking soda.
Add 1/4 of flour mixture into sugar/chocolate bowl alternating with yogurt, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. This enables complete mixing and giving the batter a good consistency.

Pour into well greased Bundt pan. Bake for app. 55 minutes at 350 degrees.