Wednesday, December 24, 2008

T is for Truffle and V is for...

Vegan Truffle! I know what you're thinking the two words should never be in the same sentence together evah, I agree or should I say I would have agreed. However, after trying these little balls of deliciousness I strongly disagree. I love that they don't have cream or a cream substitute. The "cream" that you end up making looks like cream and taste like a nutty cream. It's really good.

Don't be afraid of the ingredients or the method just trust me and you won't be sorry. I rolled mine in cocoa powder and crushed toasted almonds. The crushed toasted almonds were my favorite. I also rolled some in crushed heath toffee pieces but I didn't really care for it. Anyway, enjoy! Oh and you can't even tell they are vegan. Since people can be a little weary of anything vegan my policy when it comes to these truffles is don't ask don't tell. Oh and one batch makes a boatload I scooped the balls with a teaspoon measuring spoon and it made a ton!

Delicious Vegan Truffles
courtesy of: Recipezaar

3/4 cup raw cashews
3/4 cup cold water
1 lb bittersweet chocolate
cocoa powder

1. Put cashews and cold water in a blender and blend at high speed for 1-2 minutes (yes a long time).

2. Scrape the sides down and blend again until the mixture is the consistency of heavy cream.

3. Meanwhile, in a double boiler heat the chocolate until it's all melted.

4. Cool the chocolate until it's comfortable to work with and fold in the cashew cream (making sure not to stir too fast or you'll create bubbles).

5. Cool in the fridge for 2 hours (to set).

6. Take out a small ball, roll in cocoa powder and store in fridge/freezer.

7. Repeat until done.

P.S. Soak the cashews in the cold water in the fridge for about an hour and you'll get a better consistency to the mixture.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Cooking w/G-Money: Pink Yink Ink Drink!

When G-Money first learned how to read she learned by reading Dr. Seuss. When she could successfully read a Green Eggs and Ham from cover to cover I decided to reward my favorite lil' chef with a gift; Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook. Well G-Money has been dragging this little book around, for what seems like forever now, dying to make something with her awesome Aunt. Unfortunately for little G-Money her awesome aunt has been in college hell and has not had the time to devote to cooking with G-Money.

Well that all changed this past weekend when G-Money came over and we made Pink Yink Ink Drink and watched Horton Hears a Who. It was a Dr. Seuss extravaganza!

As for the recipe it was soooo easy to make. The only thing I would change would be to use fresh berries because it was a little sour as you will see. One more thing, I would like to apologize in advance that G-Money isn't wearing her signature apron but I finally had the chance to give her the apron Ryan and I bought for her at Pike Place Market in Seattle and she decided to wear that instead.

Pink Yink Ink Drink!
source: Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook

1/2 pint fresh or 1/2 cup frozen blackberries, thawed
1 cup milk
6 fresh strawberries, green tops removed, or 1/2 cup frozen, thawed
1 teaspoon honey


1. Put the blackberries in a blender and puree them.

2. Pour into a large glass.

3. Put the strawberries,

the milk,

and honey in the blender and blend.

4. Strain the mixture, optional. (we didn't do this but would definitely do it next time)
5. Pour the strawberry mixture carefully on top of the blackberries.

Unofficial Step 6: taste directly from the source to make sure it's all good.

And now for our first sip and the verdict is...

oooooh a little bitter, not gonna lie...
But overall after a little clever stirring, or should I say a lot of clever stirring, we deem this drink Pink Yink Ink-tastic!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Cold Grand Marnier Souffle

This picture is a little blurry because to be honest I've already had a couple of drinks in me and there was no way I could steady the camera. Which is a shame because all of my pictures of this glorious dessert came out blurry but I don't regret having those drinks ;)

Like I said before, I cannot stop thinking about this dessert it was absolutely perfect in every way. It was easy, it looked tasty, it was tasty and best of all it was done the night before which meant it was ready to go as soon as we were! But I like the description in the book better, "It's like eating a cold, sweet cloud" and it was! It really was.

This recipe calls for Melba Sauce, which is a raspberry sauce. The book says to use store bought or raspberry puree if you can't find the Melba sauce at the grocery store. I couldn't find it at the grocery so I made my own and I'm glad I did. I used a recipe from the Food Network website. Next time though I think I would double the recipe because everyone loved the sauce, there wasn't a drop left. They literally licked the serving cup clean!

Cold Grand Marnier Souffle
Courtesy Morton's Steak Bible
Serves six

1 1/2 cups whipping cream
4 large eggs, plus 3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
Two 1/4 ounce packets unflavored gelatin powder (1 1/2 tablespoons)
1/4 cup Grand Marnier or other orange flavored liqueur
Melba Sauce
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
6 raspberries
6 mint leaves

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks. Set aside.

2. In the top of a double boiler set over simmering water, whisk the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar for about 2 minutes, or until warm to the touch (about 105*F), golden yellow, and frothy. Transfer the egg mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or remove the top of the double boiler and use a handheld mixer or immersion blender. Whisk for about 3 minutes, or until cool. Wrap your hands around the outside of the bowl to determine when the mixture cools.

3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 1/4 cup of warm water to dissolve. Add the Grand Marnier and dissolve the gelatin to the cooled egg mixture and beat on medium-low until the liquid is incorporated.

4. Using a rubber spatula, fold the egg mixture into the whipped cream just until combined. Do not over mix. You will have more than 6 cups of batter.

5. Divide the mixture among six 8oz souffle dishes or ramekins. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours until chilled. The souffles can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.

6. To serve, remove the souffles from the dishes by running a blunt kitchen knife around the inside of the dishes. Put a chilled dessert plate on top of each souffle, and holding the dish and plate securely, invert. Gently shake the dish as you lift it off the souffle.

7. Garnish each plate with a drizzle of Melba sauce, orange zest, a raspberry, and a mint leaf.

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Morton's Cajun Ribeye Steak

What was not to like about these juicy, spicy, succulent and did I mention juicy steaks?! The only thing I did differently was I didn't make their Cajun seasoning. But not because I didn't want to but because after I looked at the ingredients I didn't think it would be spicy enough and why make it when I already have one I like? I use Cajun's Choice Blackened Seasoning. It's perfectly seasoned seasoning, there is no need to add salt or extra cayenne pepper to make it spicier or tastier, but I'll rave about Cajun's choice later. Now, as I mentioned earlier the method for these steaks seemed unconventional but I closed my eyes and put my trust onto the Masters at Morton's and I wasn't disappointed and our family wasn't disappointed either.

Cajun Ribeye Steak
Courtesy Morton's Steak Bible
Serves 6

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons Morton's Cajun Seasonings or other Cajun Seasonings (I used Cajun's Choice Blackened Seasonings, see notes)
Six 16 oz aged ribeye steaks, each about 1 1/1 inches thick
4 3/4 cups flavorless oil, such as canola or safflower
6 tablespoons Au Jus (optional) *see notes*

1. Put the seasonings in a large, shallow glass or ceramic pan. Press each side of the steaks into the seasoning to cover completely. Remove the steaks and lightly pound each four to five times n both sides with a meat mallet or small, heavy skillet to soften but not flatten more than a little. Discard any remaining seasoning in pan.

2. Pour the oil into the pan and add the steaks one by one. They should be covered with oil; add more if necessary. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. Alternatively, marinate steaks in a heavy duty resealable plastic bags.

3. When you are ready to cook the steaks, remove them from the oil and pat of excess oil with paper towels. The oil can flair on the grill or in the broiler. Set the steaks aside for 30 to 60 minutes at room temperature.

4. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill or preheat the broiler and position a rack 4 inches from the heating elements. The coals should be medium hot the charcoal grill. The burners should be on high for the gas grill.

5. If using a charcoal grill, grill for a bout 8 minutes. Turn, using tongs, and grill the other side for 8-9 minutes for medium rare, or until the desired degree of doneness. If using a gas grill, grill for about 8 minutes. Turn, using tongs, and grill the other side for 8-9 minutes for medium rare, or until the desired degree of doneness. If using the broiler, broil 4 inches from the heat source abut 8 minutes. Turn, using tongs, and broil the other side for about 8 minutes for medium-rare, or until desired degree of doneness.

6. To serve, spoon some Au Jus over the steaks if desired.

Note: It is very important that you pat the steaks down before grilling them because you will have flare ups. Also, I didn't use nearly as much of the Blackened Seasonings that it calls for, but I did use a lot. I didn't pour it in a container and pressed the steaks to it as it's written. Instead I sprinkled the steaks with the seasonings and I don't mean like I would sprinkle something with salt. I mean I doused them in seasoning.

Here is the recipe for the Au Jus
Makes about 1 generous cup

1 cup store-bought demi-glace
2 1/2 teaspoons commercial beef base
1 1/4 teaspoons commercial chicken base
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
Pinch of freshly ground white pepper

1. In a medium saucepan, combine 1 1/4 cups of water with the demi-glace, beef base, chicken base, peppercorns, garlic powder, thyme, bay leaf, and ground pepper. Whisk well. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook at a boil, uncovered, whisking occasionally, for about 25 minutes, or until glossy and smooth.

2. Strain through a chinois or a fine mesh sieve into a metal bowl. Discard the solids. Let cool, then cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour until chilled. Scrape any fat that has congealed on the surface. Use right away or transfer to a lidded container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Note: I did make the Au Jus but to be completely honest I didn't think it was worth it. I like an Au Jus that is more juicy, as in runny, than gravy-ish, do you know what I mean? And their Au Jus was the thickness of gravy. I went over and over it in my mind to see if I had done anything wrong but I didn't do anything wrong. I had followed the recipe to a T! In the end I'm glad I tried it but I don't think I would make it again. Because I didn't like the consistency of the Au Jus what I did end up doing was; I mixed a little bit of the Au Jus, I would say the equivalent of 2-3 tablespoons, with the juices that were released from the steaks after they had rested and it was awesome! The taste would not have been the same had I used one or the other exclusively but I didn't think it was worth the hassle, but that's just my opinion.

I couldn't find the Veal Demi-Glace at the regular grocery store. I finally found it at Bristol Farms. This is a specialty item which translates to; expensive item. Which is one of the reasons why I wouldn't make the Au Jus again. Also, the bases that Morton's recommends, or uses are, Superior Touch Better Than Bouillon. I was able to find that at the regular grocery store in the soup aisle.

Morton's Caesar Salad

As Morton's states in their cookbook what really makes this salad is their salad dressing and I couldn't agree more. Without it, all you have is Romaine and croutons -how special is that? The dressing was very good, you could definitely tell it was homemade. I made the croutons the morning of and the dressing two days prior to dinner.

Morton's Caesar Salad
Courtesy Morton's Steak Bible
Serves 6

2 slices firm, thick sliced white bread, crusts removed
2 tablespoons Clarified Butter, melted or olive oil
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 large Romaine lettuce, each weighing a generous 1 pound, washed and dried
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons Caesar Dressing, recipe follows

1. Preheat the oven to 375*F.

2. Cut each slice of bread into 16 to 20 cubes. Put the bread cubes in a bowl, drizzle with the butter, and toss to evenly coat. Spread the cubes in a single layer in a shallow baking pan. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the croutons are golden brown. Shake the pan once or twice to encourage even browning.

3. Transfer the croutons to a medium mixing bowl. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the Parmesan and the garlic powder over the croutons. Gently toss. Set aside at room temperature.

4. Cut the lettuce into large bite size pieces and transfer to a large salad or mixing bowl. Toss with the Caesar Dressing. Sprinkle remaining Parmesan over the salad and add the croutons.

Caesar Dressing
Makes about 3 1/2 cups

3 large eggs
Two 2 ounces cans anchovies packed in oil, rinsed, patted dry, and diced
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons anchovy paste
1 teaspoons freshly ground white pepper
1 1/2 cups flavorless vegetable oil such as canola or safflower
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan Cheese

1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine he eggs, anchovies, mustard, garlic powder, anchovy paste, and pepper. Process for about 2 minutes, or until thoroughly mixed.
2. With the motor running, slowly add the oil until emulsified and the consistency of thin mayonnaise. Add the vinegar and lemon juice. Mix until the dressing is well combined. With the motor still running, add the Parmesan. Scrape down the sides of the bowl then mix the dressing for 30 seconds.
3. Refrigerate the dressing for at least 1 hour, or until chilled. Use the dressing immediately or transfer to a covered storage container and refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Note: If you don't use day old bread for the croutons, you will have to bake them longer as the bread will have more moisture in it. Also, if you've never cooked with anchovies, as I hadn't, when you rinse them only remove the bones that will easily give otherwise you'll end up tearing your anchovy and ending up with shredded pieces.

Morton's Garlic Butter

To quote Morton's "Our garlic butter is a little more involved than some, but it's absolutely sublime." They couldn't be more right! At first I was like, do I really want to go through all the trouble? And I almost didn't, except it wouldn't truly be, "a night at Morton's" if I cut corners, if you know what I'm sayin'? But I'm so glad I did make it because it was sublime. Morton's suggests adding the butter to plain vegetables, potatoes and pasta and I couldn't agree more, it's that good!

Morton's Garlic Butter
Courtesy Morton's Steak Bible
Makes about 2 1/2 cups

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped peeled shallots
1/2 tablespoon rinsed, drained, and chopped anchovies (3 to 4 fillets)
1/2 bunch curly leaf parsley, stems removed and discarded, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 3/4 cups (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, soften
1/2 tablespoon Pernod liqueur
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

1. Int he bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse the garlic, shallots, anchovies, and parsley until finely chopped.
2. In the bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and set on medium speed, beat the butter for 1 minute. Scrape the garlic mixture into the butter and beat for another minute or so until thoroughly mixed. Reduce the speed to low. Add the Pernod, salt, and pepper and beat to mix. Increase the speed to high and mix for 2 minutes, or until the butter is smooth, fluffy, and light. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Mix the butter mixture for 2 more minutes at high speed.
3. use immediately or transfer to an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 5 days, wrap well and freeze for up to 2 months.

Note: I didn't have any Pernod and didn't feel like buying it since all it really called for was 1/2 a tablespoon so I used a licorice liqueur I had on hand I believe it was Romana Sambuca it worked out fine. You couldn't taste it so I'm guessing it was added to balance off a different flavor in the recipe. Also, don't be put off by the anchovies (like I was) you cannot taste them and according to Morton's they are essential because you cannot attain the level of saltiness otherwise.

Wild Mushroom Canapes with Brie

Oh my gosh, you have no idea how much I wish I had a better picture of this because this picture doesn't do it any justice in the least bit! This was one of the biggest hits of the night. The combination of the different mushrooms sauteed in Morton's Garlic Butter was, in short, heavenly! This was extremely easy to throw together if you have te butter made ahead of time if you don't then yeah it won't be easy. But that was one of the things I loved about this, the simplicity with big rewards. Try this you won't be sorry!

Wild Mushroom Canapes with Brie
Courtesy Morton's Steak Bible
Makes 20 canapes

1 French baguette, about 14 inches long and 3 inches wide
4 oz portobello mushrooms (about 2 medium mushroom caps)
3 ounces shiitake mushrooms (about 6 mushrooms)
4 ounces cremini mushrooms (about 10 mushrooms)
6 tablespoons Garlic Butter
4 ounces unpeeled Brie cheese, frozen

1. Preheat oven to 450*F.
2. Trim the ends off the baguettes and save for another use, such as bread crumbs. Cut the baguettes on an angle into twenty 1/4 inch slices. Toast the bread in the oven in a single layer on a baking sheet for 4 to 5 minutes, until light golden brown.
3. Twist the stems off the portobello and shiitake mushrooms and discard. Trim the stems from the cremini and discard. Using a small paring knife, scrape the underside of the portobellos clean off the dark gills.
4. Slice all the mushrooms into 1/4 inch wide strips, and then chop them into 1/2 to 1 inch long pieces. You will have about 4 cups roughly chopped pieces.
5. In a large saute pan, melt the Garlic Butter over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and saute for 4 to 5 minutes, or until softened. The mushrooms will cook down about 1 1/3 cups.
6. Lay the bread out on the baking sheet. Top each slice of toast with 1 tablespoon of the mushroom mixture.
7. Using the cheese grater, coarsely grate the frozen Brie so that you have about 1 cup. Sprinkle the grated Brie over the mushroom mixture and bake for about 5 minutes, or until the Brie melts. Serve immediately.

Note: The Brie really needs to be frozen, you can grate the cheese ahead of time to save time later. But make sure when you grate it, it's frozen and then return it to the freezer. You will see when you grate it that it softens rather quickly just from your very own body heat coming off of your hands. You can also slice and toast the baguette slices ahead of time that way when your guest arrive you just saute the mushrooms, top your baguettes, pop in the oven and enjoy!

Morton's Cosmopolitan

As previously stated, this is one of the best Cosmos I've ever had. And speaking of cosmos may I just add, in an unrelated rant, that Cafe Tutu Tango should so be embarrassed with themselves for trying to pass off cranberry juice as Cosmopolitans on the day that the Sex And The City movie was released. My friend Stephanie, God Bless her heart, is a light weight. She not only drank 2 of their so called Cosmos, without the slightest bit of buzz, she had a shooter to boot. So in conclusion not only does their food suck and is waaaaaay over priced they can't make a descent drink to save their lives! Vent over, Morton's winner. Cafe Tutu Tango looser.

Morton's Cosmopolitan
Courtesy of Morton's Steak Bible
Serves 1

2 ounces Ketel One Citiroen vodka
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce Grand Marnier
1 tablespoon Ocean Spray cranberry puree, or 2 tablespoons frozen Ocean Spray cranberry juice concentrate, undiluted
Juice of 1 lime wedge
1 slender lime wedge, for garnish

1. Pour the vodka, Cointreau Grand Marnier, cranberry puree, and lime juice into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake 15 times. Strain into a chilled martini glass.

2. Garnish with lime wedge.

Note: I have to admit I didn't use Ketel One Citroen Vodka, I cheated for economical purposes, and used Smirnoff Citrus. Wipe the disgust off your face Smirnoff in a blind tasting came out on top over Grey Goose, so suck on that. I also used Cranberry Juice Concentrate I couldn't find the puree and more than likely you probably won't either. According to Morton's it's usually just sold to restaurants and bars.
Oh and a tip! This is a great tip I picked up from Ina Garten, you can mix the drinks in a glass pitcher before hand, store it in the refrigerator and when you are ready to serve, just give it a stir, pour it in a cocktail shaker with ice and voila you are good to go! No more mixing individual drinks! This is great for parties too, you can set up a whole bar with different martini flavors ready to go just pour, shake and serve.

Morton's The Steakhouse

A couple of weeks ago I was at my new favorite store Home Goods and I ran into a cookbook I just couldn't pass up -and I'm glad I didn't! The book is Morton's Steak Bible; Recipes and Lore from the Legendary Steakhouse and it kicks ass! By the time I was done reading it I was convinced we had to have a Morton's night, at home of course! And it was through the roof.
What I really liked about this dinner is that a lot of the things, including the dessert, could be made ahead of time. To quote MaryAnn she said "you made it look so easy!" And it really was very easy. The salad dressing and garlic butter where made 2 days prior to the dinner. The dessert was made the night before. The steaks were marinated the morning of, the drinks were mixed a couple of hours before. With all of the "make ahead" involved how could it not be easy?
Here is what we had:

Morton's Cosmopolitan
This was the best Cosmo I've ever had, second only to the Cosmillinium I had while on vacation in the San Juan Islands circa 2001.

Wild Mushroom Canapes with Brie
These where the biggest hit of the night. Everyone loved them and this picture truly doesn't do them justice.

Cajun Ribeye Steak

I was a little skeptical of this, I know how blasphemous of me to question the Masters but I did, but as it turned out I had nothing to worry about. Again, this picture doesn't do it justice.

Morton's Caesar Salad

Very tasty of course!

Cold Grand Marnier Souffle

I have not been able to stop thinking about this, this was probably one of the best desserts I've ever had.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Lemon Lovers Cheesecake w/Hazelnut Crust

This is by far one of the best cheesecakes I've ever had or ever made for that matter. It was over the top delicious. I would say this cheesecake gives the Pumpkin Swirl cheesecake I make at Thanksgiving a run for it's money -and that's not easy to do either!

Now what makes this cheesecake over the top is the layer of Lemon Curd it's topped with and the drizzle of blueberry sauce that it's drizzled in. Without both of these I think this cheesecake would just be good not OVER THE TOP DELICIOUS! Sure it takes a little extra effort but it's worth it, this cheesecake will put you on the map, trust me!

Lemon Lovers Cheesecake with Hazelnut Crust
Courtesy Bon Appetit

For crust
3/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For filling
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel

-Lemon curd (store bought or homemade)
-Boothbay Blueberry Sauce

Make crust:Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Finely grind nuts, cracker crumbs and powdered sugar in processor.Add butter; blend using on/off turns until crumbs are moist. Press crumbs onto bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides. Chill while making filling.

Make filling:Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese in large bowl until fluffy. Slowly add sugar; beat until smooth. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating 30 seconds after each. Mix in lemon juice and peel.

Pour filling into crust. Bake cake until outer 2-inch portion of top is set and center looks slightly glossy and is barely set, about 45 minutes (do not open oven door at all during baking time). Shake cheesecake lightly and if the perimeter is set but the center is slightly wobbley it's done.

Place cooling rack in a cool area but in an area free of any drafts. Transfer cheesecake to rack and run a knife around the edge of springform pan. This will prevent the cheesecake from cracking when contracting from pan. Cool to room temperature (approx 2-4 hrs). Cover; chill overnight.

Remove cheesecake from refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. Run knife around sides of pan to loosen. Release pan sides. Top with Lemon Curd (approx 1/4 of an inch thick) slice and drizzle with Boothbay Blueberry Sauce. Serve extra blueberry sauce on the side.

Boothbay Blueberry Sauce

This was so incredibly fabulous, it wasn't even funny! The thing I liked most was the mix of spices in it, it almost tasted like Christmas. We had this drizzled over cheesecake but I'm sure this would kick butt on waffles, pancakes and especially over vanilla bean ice cream.

The original recipe makes a ton of sauce, so this is the recipe cut down and a link to the original. I plan to make these at the end of blueberry season, which is pretty much upon us, and giving them away as Christmas gifts.

Boothbay Blueberry Sauce
Courtesy of House & Garden August 1962
Makes close to 2 cups.

1 1/4 teaspoons lemon juice
1 1/4 teaspoons grated orange rind
6 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups blueberries
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
a pinch of cloves

Stir the lemon juice, orange rind, orange juice and sugar in a large pot. Bring to a rolling boil. Add berries and bring to a full boil again. Add cinnamon, cloves and boil hard, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and strain for a smoother sauce or don't strain it for a more rustic look. Cool and use at room temperature. If not using right away refrigerate after cooling.

*If using for waffles or pancakes you can probably just reheat in microwave.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Score one for the little guy...

ME! Like Batman and The Joker, like Xavier and Magnito, tempering eggs has been my arch nemesis since the beginning of time. And today I can proudly tell that chapter of my life to suck it! For today I have made LEMOM CURD!!! But that's not all, I've made lemon curd, successfully! -and tasty to boot!

When I read the review for this recipe a couple of people suggested adding an extra egg yolk and straining the lemon curd. Well a lot of people made it as written and loved it. So I made it as it was written with the only exception being to strain the curd once I took it off the stove top. The reviewers recommended straining it to remove the lumps but mine didn't have any lumps the only thing that stayed in the strainer was the lemon zest, which by the way wouldn't bother me if it was in the curd.

Any who, it's tasty and a must try. The thing is I did cook it in low heat not moderate low heat because I really, really didn't want to end up with scrambled eggs like I always do. So it took a lot longer to cook than the six minutes it estimates. It took almost 15 minutes or perhaps more, but it was worth it. I'd rather have spaghetti arm from stirring than scrambled eggs from hurrying. -you can quote me on that :)

Lemon Curd


1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest

1/2 cup sugar

3 large eggs

3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into bits

Whisk together juice, zest, sugar, and eggs in a 2-quart heavy saucepan. Stir in butter and cook over moderately low heat, whisking frequently, until curd is thick enough to hold marks of whisk and first bubble appears on surface, about 6 minutes.

Transfer lemon curd to a bowl and chill, its surface covered with plastic wrap, until cold, at least 1 hour.

Cooks' note:
• Curd can be chilled up to 1 week.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

BOTR: They Can't All Be Winners....

Sure, it looks tasty, doesn't it? But is it? No, no it's not, as matter of fact it's far from it. In case you haven't figured it out B.O.T.R. stands for Beware Of This Recipe or better yet run don't walk, the other direction if you come in contact with this recipe. This recipe lured me in with it's tasty name "Tropical Bars in a Butter Coconut Crust" and when I made it I was further seduced by it's killer aroma and oh so appealing filling and crust. But just like the Sirens in the Odyssey who lured Sailors with their sweet song and sexy bodies only to turn on them once the Sailors had given in, so did these bars reveal their not so sweet and not so tasty self to me once they cooled and were ready for consumption.

The only way I could describe the taste is like this; they tasted like I left limes out in the sun for weeks. And once the rind had gained the texture of leather gone arye I decided to pop them in my mouth all at once. Yeah.... it tasted like that! I have to admit I'm partially to blame. I am a strong advocate of "if the recipe doesn't sound right or it just doesn't make common sense, don't do it". However, when it comes to baking I am a little hesitant to get jiggy wit' it, as the kids say, because baking is so freakin' temperamental and in hind sight I realize the change wouldn't have effected the finished product negatively, I mean they seriously couldn't have tasted any worse.

So the recipe called for "3 limes quartered". Quartered?!?! Not segmented, not zested, not sliced, quartered!? So against my better judgement and common sense I quartered them, took the seeds out and tossed them in the food processor. Thinking of it now gives me the willies. The only saving grace was the crust, the crust was fabu. But there is only enough crust you can munch on before it gets old and the remnants of the filling where still there and therefore not worth keeping. It broke my heart tossing food and time away but I had no choice it was just very not tasty :(

Here's the recipe to prove I'm not making it up and I even searched all over the internets looking for a different variation hoping someone had mistyped the recipe but it was all in vain. It was written the same way everywhere.

Tropical Bars in a Butter Coconut Crust
1 C. coconut
1 C. butter
1/2 C. sugar
1 1/2 C. flour
Combine all ingredients and press onto bottom of 9x9 square pan. Bake 15 min at 350° F.

3 limes, quartered
2 1/4 C. sugar
4 eggs
1/2 C. flour
1 t. baking powder
1 T. plus 1 t. vanilla
Put all filling ingredients in the food processor and process until pureed.
Pour over the baked crust and bake at 350° F. for 20-25 minutes.
Cut only after cooling and sprinkle with powdered sugar and toasted coconut flakes.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Product Rave: McCormicks Grillmates Cinnamon Chipotle Rub

This stuff is a little taste of awesome, I kid' you not. It has a creole taste to it, which you might not expect given it has chipotle wich is most commonly associated with Mexican or SouthWest cooking. But the chipotle flavor is very mild adding more of a smoky flavor than a spicy flavor. The cinnamon is what gives it that creole taste. I've sprinkled this little fairy dust on shrimp and tossed them on the grill -to die! And just recently used it today or should I say Mom used it today, in what will now be my new favorite way to have this -on baby back ribs!!! Oh my lawd was it good!

She just rubbed it on the ribs added a some salt, though we both agreed it really didn't need it, it made the ribs a little too salty. But I like salty so that was good by me but I think it would have been too salty for the average bear. Anywho, run out and get you some of this stuff and make you some of these:

P.S. For those of you bright ones keeping score. Yes, we did end up having an impromptu feast of roasted chicken, ribs and cauliflower. The ribs weren't part of the original plan but we were starving when we arrived at the grocery store and....well..... the rest is fatty history :)

Don't call it a comeback...

*See closeup of cauliflower at the end of the post, it's to die!

I've been here for years! Well not in the blogasphere but most definately representin' in the real world. It occured to me today that I've been neglecting my poor blog and, well, that had to change. So I dusted off my apron, along with an old recipe, and here I am ready to get down to business.

Now, I know there is enough Rachel Ray hatin' going around to fill a giant"GB" but sometimes the ol' girl has a good recipe and even a good idea here and there and this is one of them. The first and only time I tried this recipe I was still a bachelorette in an 8 year relationship without any prospects of marriage in the horizon, so what better "motivation" for my man to marry me than for me to show him I could be a good wife in the kitchen? -Wow, I just lost the feminist vote but who cares! It's true! The way to a man's heart is his stomach, so suck it feminist!

But I digress......I should say the real way to a man's heart is through his stomach via bacon wrapped anything, which brings us to our recipe. It's not only easy, it's affordable and did I mention easy? It's also.....wait for it....."wrapped" in BACON!!!!

The recipe calls for a 3.5 pound chicken but I used a 5 pounder and therefor had to cook it longer. I didn't realize this until I had already added the cauliflower at the 1/2 way point as called for in the recipe. So my cauliflower ended up roasting for an extra half hour. It didn't turn out mushy but it didn't turn out crunchy like I like it either. Had I paid more attention I would have added the cauliflower in the last half hour because my chicken was bigger. But whatev' you live, you learn and I ain't no pro.

Boy am I chatty after a hiatus, I'll wrap it up. This recipe is a must try and totally awesome for such little effort, so big ups to RR!!! I'll write it as I made it and as I will make it next time.

Bacon "Stuffed" Roasted Chicken with Cauliflower
by: Rachel Ray

1 -5 pound whole chicken, rinsed and patted dry
4 -bacon strips
Salt & Freshly ground pepper
1 -Head cauliflower, cored and cut into bite-size florets
1 -Head of garlic, cloves peeled
1 1/2 Tablespoons EVOO (I had to represent for RR)

1. Preheat the oven to 450°. Loosen the skin of the chicken breast, drumsticks & thighs with your fingers and slide the bacon in. I did 1 slice per breast and 1 slice per drumstick/thigh area. Season the outside with salt and pepper. Place the chicken, breast side up, in a roasting pan with a rack and roast for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes lower the temperature to 400ยบ and cook for an additional 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, toss the cauliflower, garlic and oil together in a bowl and season with salt & pepper to taste. After the chicken has cooked for an hour, remove the chicken and rack from the roasting pan and add the vegetables to the perimeter of the pan. Return chicken (without rack) to the middle of the roasting pan (breast up) and roast until the chicken is cooked through and the cauliflower is tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and tent the chicken with foil and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Out Of Place Vent

What is so difficult about making a courtesy call? I mean really. But first a little background. My Husband, who I love very dearly, has the terrible habbit of showing up late and not bothering to call to tell you he's going to be late. I mean is it really that difficult to have the common courtesy to phone someone and tell them you are going to be late, so that they are not waiting for you in front of their school like the fat kid picked last for dodge ball? I mean that is why it's called a courtesy call isn't it?

-I'm just sayin'.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Cornish Hens with Strawberry-Balsamic Sauce

These turned out awesome! We ate them with our hands only using a spoon to laddle the sauce over the hens. Ryan was cracking me up because we were eating these with our hands over candle light he said he felt like he was eating at the romantic Medieval Times.

I got this recipe for the hens from the Intercourses; An Aphrodisiac Cookbook however I didn't really care for the sauce as the cookbook called for it. But it did remind me of a similar recipe I had tried before from Cooking Light so I decided to combine them. The store was out of thyme so I used Rosemary instead but I think it would have been so much tastier with the thyme. Also I coudn't find a Thai chile so I ended up using a Japanese chile, however that really didn't add the heat I was looking for, so I ended up opening the chile to release the seeds but that still didn't cut through the sweetness of the jam. But that still didn't do it, so I ended up mixing in some crushed red pepper flakes and that did the trick.

Cornish Hens with Strawberry-Balsamic Sauce

Adapted from Intercourses; An Aphrodisiac Cookbook & Cooking Light Magazine

For the hens

2 Cornish Hens

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Sprigs of Rosemary

Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

For the Sauce:

1/2 cup seedless strawberry jam

1 1/2 tbspns balsamic

1 tbspns white wine

1/4 tspn ground pepper

1/4 tspn salt

1 dry Thai chile

1/2 cup finely chopped shallot

1 1/2 tspns minced Rosemary

1 fresh strawberry

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Rub the hens with the olive oil and seson generously, inside and out, with salt and pepper. Place 1 sprig of rosemary into each cavity. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Place the hens,k breast-side up, on a wire rack set over a baking sheet and roast untilt he juices run clear or a thermmeter registers 165 degrees in the thigh about 25 to 35 minutes.

While the hens are roasting, prepare the sauce. combine the strawberry jam, vinegar, wine, pepper, and salt in a samll saucepan set over medium heat. As the jam begins to melt, add the Thai chile and let steep for 5 minutes. Taste the sauce, if you prefer something spicier, cut the chile in half and stir the sauce to distribute the fire. Remove the pepper when the desired spiciness is reached. Pour sauce into serving dish. Chop strawberry and add to sauce. Serve as a sauce for the hens.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Crostini with Blue Cheese Butter Spread and Sliced Pears

Ryan and I both really liked this. The butter spread has a great blue chese flavor but what I really liked about it is that you not only taste the blue cheese you taste the nuts and the lemon as well, individually. I like when you can taste everything individually yet haromoniously and nothing gets lost. And the addition of the thinly sliced pears, by yours truly, really makes for a nice contrast. The key however, is to slice the pears thinly.

But the best part of this recipe is the butter can be made the night before and this appetizer can be thrown together in no time. You can also freeze the butter for later use then it's ready to go for unexpected guest or if you are in the mood for a "fancy", fast snack.

Crostini with Blue Cheese Butter Spread and Sliced Pears
Courtesy of Emeril Live

4 ounces blue cheese, softened (about 1 cup)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup chopped lightly toasted pecans
2 teaspoons minced shallots
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (For some reason I misread this and did 1 tspn of lemon zest, still good)
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt Ground black pepper (I didn't add any salt but I did add pepper)
1 loaf French bread, cut into thin rounds, accompaniment
1 Ripe pear thinly sliced.

In a bowl, cream together all the ingredients, except for bread and pears. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place mixture on a large sheet of plastic wrap. Form into a fat cylinder and roll up in the plastic wrap, pushing and tucking in as you go to form a tight log. Refrigerate or freeze until needed.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spread blue cheese butter evenly onto the French bread rounds. Then top each round with 1 or 2 slices of the thinly sliced pears, depending on how big your rounds are. Place on a baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and enjoy!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Valentine's Day Dinner

For Valentine's Day Ryan and I usually go out to a nice dinner but since the closing our of favorite special restaurant we really didn't want to go anywhere else, so we opted for a special dinner at home.

I had purchased the book "Intercourses; An aphrodiasiac Cookbook" on a tip from my friend Joelen in Chicago. I've owned the book for some time now and had yet to make a recipe from it, so I thought what better time to make something from this book than Valentine's Day. I got the recipe for the Cornish Hens & the Asparagus from this book but tweeked the sauce for the hens slightly by combining it with a similar recipe from Cooking Light Magazine. I really liked the end results.

Here is our dinner, I will post the recipes and further reviews soon.

Our Menu

Crostini with Blue Cheese Butter Spread and Sliced Pears

Cornish Hens with Strawberry-Balsamic Sauce

Asparagus with a Crunchy Panko-Almond Topping

Tuxedo Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Camarones a la Diabla

I L-O-V-E Camarones a la Diabla but probably not as much as Ryan. He could probably eat them every day for lunch and dinner if I let him. He fell in love with them at my cousin's restaurant and has been hooked ever since.

Loosely translated "Camarones a la Diabla" translates to Devil Shrimp as in ON FIRE! And they are! These little guys are very muy spicy! I would have probably never have thought of making these at home if it weren't for Ryan suggesting it or I should say if it weren't for Ryan getting tired of the same ol', same ol'. So I went in search of a good recipe online and found nothing or atleast nothing good. I was about to give up until I remembered about Rick Bayless and he didn't dissapoint. This recipe sounds like my cousin's recipe with a little something extra.

Now I know what you'll be thinking once you read the recipe and instructions "Claud why would I go through the trouble of roasting the chiles & the garlic. And then reconstituting the chiles to then add bottled hot sauce to the mix?" Well I'll tell you, because that's the way it's done and my little spin on it makes it so that it doesn't taste like you are eating shrimp tossed in hot sauce.

The way Ryan and I eat them is we just make tacos out of them. We grab a corn tortilla pile on the shrimp, onions and sauce, wrap it up and enjoy! However, if you can't handle the spicy I suggest you top your taco with some sour cream and maybe some avocado slices, both of which would taste awesome on this. Anywho, enough yapping more recipe.

Camarones a la Diabla
Courtesy of Frontera Kitchens

Serves 6 generously
For the sauce:
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
8 medium-large (about 4 ounces) dried guajillo chiles
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, whole or freshly ground
1/8 teaspoon cumin, whole or freshly ground
1 medium-small onion, sliced into 8 rounds
2 cups chicken broth or water, plus a little more if needed
3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1/3 to 1/2 cup red hot sauce (in Acapulco, many cooks choose Tamazula brand) (I used 1/4 cup of Tapatio & 1/4 of a cup of Cholula)
Salt, about 1/2 teaspoon, depending on the saltiness of the broth (I don't think I've ever had to add salt)

For finishing the dish:
2 tablespoons butter
2 pounds shrimp

1. Making Spicy Guajillo Sauce. Roast the unpeeled garlic directly on an ungreased griddle or heavy skillet over medium heat, turning occasionally, until soft (they’ll blacken in spots), about 15 minutes; cool and peel. While the garlic is roasting, toast the chiles on another side of the griddle or skillet: 1 or 2 at a time, open them flat and press down firmly on the hot surface with a spatula; when they crackle and turn a dark maroon color they are done remove from the griddle/pan.

In a small bowl, cover the chiles with hot water and let rehydrate 30 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure even soaking. Drain and discard the water.

Combine the oregano, black pepper, cumin and 1 slice of the onion in a food processor or blender. Add the drained chiles, garlic and 1/2 cup of the broth. Blend to a smooth puree, scraping and stirring every few seconds. (If the mixture just won’t go through the blender blades, add a little more liquid.) Press through a medium-mesh strainer into a bowl.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a heavy, medium-small (2- to 3-quart) pot (such as Dutch oven or Mexican cazuela) over medium-high. When the oil is hot enough to make a drop of the puree sizzle sharply, add the puree and stir constantly until it reduces into a thick paste, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 1/2 cups broth or water, partially cover and simmer over medium-low, stirring occasionally, 20 to 30 minutes for the flavors to come together. Add the hot sauce and, if necessary, stir in a little more broth or water to bring the sauce to a medium, saucy consistency. Taste and season with about 1/2 teaspoon of the salt.

2. Finishing the dish. In a large skillet, melt the butter with the remaining 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the remaining onion, breaking the rings apart, and cook, stirring, until the shrimp are done and the onion is beginning to soften, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Add the sauce and stir everything together until the sauce is boiling. Serve right away.

G-Money Quickie

Here is G-Money at her birthday party proudly posing by the cupcakes she made.

Gussie's Fried Chicken with Pecan-Honey Glaze

This post is a smidge late. We made this for the Chargers vs Patriots game, okay so maybe it's more than a smidge late. At first I was a little hesitant about putting a glaze over fried chicken but after reading the reviews on Food Network it was evident that I had to. And am I glad I did it really made the fried chicken over the top good!

There was also some leftover glaze and I poured it onto a piece of parchment paper and spread it out. After it cooled it was quite the tasty after meal snack. Anywho, needless to say it was really good and we'll definately make this again but not too soon after all it is fried chicken with "candy" poured over it.

Gussie's Fried Chicken with Pecan-Honey Glaze
Courtesy: Paula Deen

1 (3 1/2-pounds) frying chicken, cut up, or your favorite chicken parts
2 large eggs
Salt and pepper
Garlic powder
Vegetable shortening or vegetable oil
2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1/2 cup honey
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
Brown paper bag

Rinse the chicken and pat it dry. Beat the eggs in a 9 by 13-inch dish. Lay the chicken pieces in the dish, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Turn the chicken and season the other side, then slosh the chicken parts around in the egg until well coated.

Put enough shortening or oil in a cast iron pan or electric skillet to come just halfway up the sides of the chicken parts. Heat the shortening or oil just until smoking, about 375 degrees F. Put the flour in a paper bag, add the chicken pieces, a few at a time, and shake to coat well. Remove the chicken with tongs and place it in the hot fat. Cover the pan, leaving a crack for steam to escape, lower the heat to 325 degrees F for electric skillet, and cook for 10 minutes. Turn the chicken with tongs, cover again (leaving the lid open just a crack), and cook for 10 minutes longer. Very large pieces may need to be cooked a little longer. Drain the chicken on paper towels and transfer to a platter.

To make the glaze, melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Whisk in the honey until well blended. Bring to a simmer and add the pecans. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Ladle the glaze over the hot fried chicken and serve.