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.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Chocolate Pot de Creme

Pot de Creme is such a simple and delicious dessert. I pretty much usually love any milk/cream based custard type dessert, whether creme brulee, panna cotta, or the like. I recently visited San Francisco and had the best Pot de Creme I think I have ever had, so I had to try and make my own. Here we are, the first attempt at a Chocolate Pot de Creme.
(I guarantee there will be more Pot de Creme recipes, because now that I have tried the first one, more flavor combinations will surely follow.)

3 cups heavy cream (1 cup for whipping at the end)
1/2 cup whole milk
5 ounces Bittersweet Chocolate
6 eggs
1/3 cup sugar

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.
Pour into individual ramekin or tea cups.
Place ramekins/tea cups into baking dish and pour enough hot water into baking dish to come about half way up the sides of the ramekins/tea cups.
Cover with foil.
Bake at 325 degrees for about 45 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.

The Chocolate lent a very nice rich flavor. Unfortunately, I baked my first attempt for about 55 minutes, about fifteen minutes too long I would say. Also, I think I whisked the eggs and sugar mixture a bit too long, so they came out a bit stiffer than I would prefer. As you can see in the pic below the consistency is not as creamy as I think it should be. Next time will be much better.
Bon Appetit!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Chile Rubbed Veal Tenderloin

Chile Rubbed Veal Tenderloin served with
Moroccan Couscous
(with caramelized onions, garlic, Spinach, and grape tomatoes) and
Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

Chile Rub:
Ancho Chiles
Long Red Chiles
Ground Cumin
Mustard Seed
Black Pepper
Cayenne Pepper
Mixed together in cuisinart/blender, etc.
Rub spice mixture on the Tenderloin, then seared on all sides and put in the oven for about 30 minutes. Done to a nice medium.
Sauteed onions and garlic.
Toss in Spinach. Salt and Pepper.
Toss all into cooked couscous and mix well. Add Grape tomatoes, reserve a few for garnish.
Cucumber and Yogurt:

Yogurt whisked slightly.
Thinly slice a Hothouse Cucumber, then chop.
Stir Cucumber into yogurt and add lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.

The sweetness of the Veal with the kick from the Chile Rub compliments the creaminess of the Cucumbers and Yogurt beautifully. Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Vegetarian Menu

Vegetable Sushi, Quinoa with Tofu and Veggies, and hot Sake
(All served after the start which was the Brown Rice Tea and Ginger Martini and Edamame.)

First Course:
Vegetable Sushi with Peanut Sauce
Peanut Sauce:

1/2 cup unsalted peanuts crushed
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/8 cup olive oil
1 tsp. soy sauce
salt if necessary
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
dollop of honey
Mix all ingredients and blend together (blender, Cuisinart, etc.) to form a smooth sauce, if too thick add more oil.

Vegetable Sushi:

Sheets of Nori (dry Seaweed)
Red onion thinly sliced
Bean sprouts
Bunch of Cilantro coarsely chopped
Green Chilis seeded and sliced in strips
Cucumber in thin strips using veg. peeler (I prefer Hothouse or English)
Carrots in thin strips " "
Cooked Vermicelli Noodles (chilled)

Place Sheet of Nori on bamboo mat for rolling.
I actually wrapped a stiff place mat in plastic wrap and used that to roll.
Second Course:

Quinoa with Tofu and Veggies.

I was inspired to use Quinoa after reading Tea's Tea and Cookies blog post about using it with Seaweed, Ponzu Sauce, and Avocado. Not only does she have lovely recipes, but her story telling talents make her posts a joy to read.
I had never used Quinoa before. The Yellow Quinoa variety is similar to that of Moroccan Couscous, but a little larger. Tea used the Brown and Black variety of the Quinoa which seems to be a larger seed and of course darker in color. It being the first time cooking with Quinoa I opted for the smaller Yellow variety. When raw, the yellow looks like that of Couscous, but once cooked has a flatter, seed like appearance.

Quinoa with Tofu and Veggies:

2 cups Yellow Quinoa
4 cups water
1 8-10 ounces of Tofu, cubed
3 plum tomatoes diced
3 cloves garlic chopped
Half of Lime juiced
Handful Cilantro coarsely chopped
1/4 cup bean sprouts
3 sheets Nori coarsely chopped (dry seaweed)
3 to 4 Tbsp Soy sauce
1 Avocado sliced
Add Quinoa to cold water and place over medium to high heat until boil then reduce heat to simmer and cook 20 minutes. Then turn off heat and let rest 5 to 10 minutes.
Toss in all ingredients except Avocado and gently fold to mix together.
Plate individual portions and place a few slices of Avocado on each.