Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Corn Pudding

This is a recipe I've adapted from an original from chef Craig Miller at The Willows Bed & Breakfast. Fresh ingredients are, of course, best; but since everything's not available year round...

2 15 oz cans of whole kernel corn
1/4 C sugar
dash salt
2/3 C heavy cream
4 eggs, seperated
vanilla bean, split & scraped
1/4 C butter
6 oz chevre*
2 Tbls flour
1/2 C minced shallots

I've found an herbed chevre at Trader Joe's that works for the chevre and chives together, though you can add more/fresh chives if you like.

Pulse 1/2 the corn in a food processor until creamed, but still chunky. Stir together corns, sugar & salt. Melt butter and chevre. Whisk together cream, egg yolks, vanilla seeds (or use 2 tsp vanilla if you can't get a bean); whisk into butter and chevre mixture. Add shallots and corn. Beat egg whites to soft peaks; fold in corn mixture. Pour into buttered ramekins or casserole. Bake at 350° 30-45 minutes until just set. Garnish with chives.

Ginger Peach Glazed Chicken

Pictured with corn pudding (above) and pickled cucumbers.

2 to 3 lbs meaty chicken pieces
1 C peach preserves
1 Tbls white wine vinegar
1 Tbls horseradish spread
1 tsp freshly grated gingerroot

Skin the chicken. Lightly season with salt & pepper.
In a small, microwave-safe bowl combine preserves, vinegar, horseradish, ginger root, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper. Microwave for 30 second intervals, stirring between each, until preserves are melted.
Arrange chicken pieces in single layer on a casserole dish. Drizzle with peach glaze, reserving some for drizzling 10 minutes from end of cooking time; or save and serve at the table. Cook until chicken is no longer pink.

I like more ginger - about 2 tsp. :)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Salmon with Agrodolce Sauce

Fancy name, but basically it's just onions sautéed in a sweet balsamic vinegar. Pairing this sauce with the salmon is, of course, delicious! But I've also had leftovers of the onions and sauce with chicken.

olive oil
2 (6 oz) salmon fillets
sea salt
fresh cracked black pepper
1 large red onion sliced in wedges
1/3 C balsamic vinegar
1 Tbls sugar
1 Tbls butter

Pat salmon dry; season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, skin side up, until undersides from a golden crust (10 minutes). Turn; cook until cooked through (another 10 minutes - depending on thickness).
Meanwhile...sauté onions until golden brown. Stir in vinegar, sugar, and a dash of salt. Cook until sauce thickens and becomes syrupy. Remove from heat; stir in butter.
Spoon onions with sauce onto plates. Top with salmon fillets.

I'm still enjoying the sweet yellow onions (not the red, which the recipe calls for). I also used brown sugar.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Baked Ravioli

I love ravioli; in fact it's what I'll often order to kind of 'test' a new Italian restaurant. This recipe uses store-bought ravioli, but a homemade sauce. I reduced the recipe by about 1/2, so the picture shows it baked in a large loaf pan; a full recipe should go into a casserole dish.

Baked Ravioli
2 Tbls olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
salt & pepper
1 tsp dried thyme or oregano
1 28 oz can crushed/diced tomatoes
1 lb store-bought ravioli
1/2 C shredded mozzarella
1/2 C grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 425°.
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, salt & pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened (5 min). Add thyme and/or oregano and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, breaking up tomatoes until sauce is thickened and reduced; 20-25 minutes. (I scooped about half of this tomato-onion mixture and blended it in my Magic Bullet so it was really saucey, but still with some good tomato and onion chunks.)

While sauce is thickening, cook ravioli in a large pot of boiling water just until they float to the top. The pasta will continue to cook while baking. Drain pasta.

Toss pasta in sauce, and pour pasta (and sauce) into 9x13" casserole dish. Sprinkle with cheeses. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sandwich Spread/Wrap Filler

A couple versions here...I used ham and rolled this onto (into?) whole wheat tortillas and took it to my folks place for the Superbowl. This last week I made a similar spread using salmon (canned salmon) and put it on some butter croissants. Same basic idea for both, though to go in a wrap it needs to be a little thicker...

Ham, Pineaple & Cream Cheese
12 oz cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 lb ham, finely diced or shredded
1 can (14 oz?) crushed pineapple (WELL drained)
1 small apple, very finely diced

Mix all the ingredients...spread on whole wheat tortillas,!
I used a honeycrisp apple (sweet and crisp -- as the name suggests -- for a little bit of texture when you bite into the wrap; and smoked honey ham. :)

Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese
8 oz cream cheese, softened
7 oz canned salmon
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
1 large granny smith apple, very finely diced

Mix all ingredients...spread on butter!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Chocolate Truffles

I haven't made truffles for a while, but it just seemed fitting for a Valentine's Day post. :) The picture's from a while ago (white chocolate vanilla truffles dipped in dark chocolate with a sprinkle of raw sugar; dark chocolate raspberry truffles dipped in milk chocolate with red drizzles; milk chocolate spiced truffles dipped in white chocolate and dusted with cocoa powder). Over a year ago I gave my mom -- a chocolate lover like me -- a 'membership' to my Truffle of the Month Club. In other words: I got on the computer, created a certificate-like-card and gave it to her for Mother's Day; she got a monthly dozen truffles, I had a legitimate excuse to make a different flavor of truffle each and every month for a year. Definitely a win-win situation! :)

Chocolate chips/morsels will work...but your truffles are only as good as your chocolate. If you're going to go to all the trouble, splurge a little on the good stuff! I've used even more 'premium' varieties (with delicious results) but I regularly pick up bricks from Trader Joe's; good chocolate, very good price.

Dark Chocolate-Raspberry Truffles
1/2 C heavy whipping cream
6 Tbls butter
6 Tbls sour cream
18 oz dark chocolate
1/2 C chambord* (or other flavored liqueur or liquid flavoring)
cocoa powder for rolling
chocolate for dipping

Bring cream and butter to boil; boil for one minute. Remove from heat. Add chocolate, stirring until melted. Cool a few minutes; add sour cream and chambord. Pour into cake pan or casserole dish to chill. Chill until set, or freeze 1 hour. Scoop and roll into 1" balls. Roll lightly in cocoa powder. (If you plan to dip truffles in white chocolate, roll them in powdered sugar.) Chill again. Melt dipping chocolate in a double boiler; dip.

* I've used the chambord, and it is good. But I get a stronger raspberry flavor using real rasberry juice (blackberry juice - from fresh wild blackberries last August - was also delicious). I mash the berries through a strainer to remove the seeds and get about 1 C of pure juice. Add a dash of lemon juice and maybe a 1/4 C sugar (more or less depending on your personal sweet tooth). Boil it - stirring frequently - until it thickens and reduces to the 1/2 C the recipe calls for.

Milk Chocolate Spiced Truffles
1 1/4 C cream
2 tsp vanilla
7 Tbls butter
18 oz milk chocolate*, chopped into chunks
cocoa powder (for rolling)
chocolate for dipping

You can flavor the cream with any spices/flavor(s) you like.
Here's one combination:
2 Tbls chopped ginger
3 cinnamon sticks
12 each peppercorns, allspice berries, whole cloves
1 whole nutmeg, cut into pieces
1 tea bag

Place chopped chocolate, vanilla and butter in a bowl. Bring cream to a boil. Add tea bag and spices; steep 20 minutes. Bring back to boiling, remove tea bag and pour over chocolate, straining out spice chunks. Pour into cake pan or casserole dish to chill. Chill until set, or freeze 1 hour. Scoop and roll into 1" balls. Roll lightly in cocoa powder. (If you plan to dip truffles in white chocolate, roll them in powdered sugar.) Chill again. Melt dipping chocolate in a double boiler; dip.

White Chocolate Truffles
1/2 C cream
3 Tbls butter
20 oz white chocolate*
1/3+ C powdered sugar
3 Tbls liquor/liquid flavoring
cocoa powder (for rolling)
chocolate for dipping

Bring cream and butter to boil. Reduce heat; stir in chocolate until melted. Remove from heat; whisk in powdered sugar and liquor. Pour into cake pan or casserole dish to chill. Chill until set, or freeze 1 hour. Scoop and roll into 1" balls. Roll lightly in cocoa powder. (If you plan to dip truffles in white chocolate, roll them in powdered sugar.) Chill again. Melt dipping chocolate in a double boiler; dip.

* White "baking morsels" are easy to come by in any grocery store. White "chocolate" isn't as available. Check the label and look for cocoa butter. Again, I find it - in 'chip' form :( at Trader Joe's, but only off and on.

And one more photo:
Truffles edge a platter
along with other tasty treats;
this was for a friend's bridal
shower last spring.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Chicken and Sautéed Onion & Mushrooms over Pasta

No real recipe for this...just kind of cooking up what I had in the frig/freezer. Mushrooms were on sale at Safeway, and I still have some of the sweeet yellow onions I've been enjoying lately.

1 onion
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1 lb chicken
olive oil
1 C milk/sour cream

I started by sautéeing the mushrooms and onions in a little olive oil until the mushrooms were browned and the onions starting to carmelize. I cut up a few frozen chicken tenders and threw those in to brown too. Then I took that stuff out of the skillet. (Actually, I took the picture first, then I took that all out of the skillet to make the sauce.) I wanted a simple white sauce, but fairly thick. I dropped a Tbls of butter in the pan, scraping up all those little browned bits in the pan that have so much flavor. Added a little flour and a mix of milk and the last of some sour cream I had in the frig. Brought that just to a simmer, threw in a little thyme and rosemary and let that simmer until it was all very fragrant. Then I added the chicken-onion-mushroom mixture back in to get everything good and hot again. Served it over noodles. :)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Chocolate-Mint Cheesecake

I've been looking for a really good cheesecake recipe for a while now. And, honestly, I've thoroughly enjoyed the search which has resulted in a number of cheesecakes being baked and taste-tested. :)

I'm really looking for something that's just a plain, basic cheesecake. However, chocolate lover that I am...I wasn't going to pass this one up. and I'm glad I didn't. Great flavor, rich and cheesy taste and texture. I think it was slightly undercooked, but that's more my fault than the recipe. Every oven varies and you just kind of have to watch it and judge-by-the-jiggle with a cheesecake.

Chocolate-Mint Cheesecake
1 C Chocolate cookie crumbs
2 Tbls butter, melted
1 1/2 C cream cheese
1 C sugar
1 C cottage cheese
1/4 C plus 2 Tbls unsweetened cocoa
1/4 C flour
1/4 C creme de menthe
1 tsp vanilla
pinch salt
1 egg
2 Tbls semi-sweet mini-morsels

Preheat oven to 300°.
Mix melted butter and chocolate cookie crumbs. Press into 8" spring-form pan. Set aside. Add cream cheese and next seven ingredients; blend until smooth.
Add egg; stir until just blended. Fold in chocolate morsels.
Pour into pan over crumbs. Bake 45-50 minutes.
Let cool. Cover and chill at least 6 hours before serving.

Variations: I'm always tweaking recipes. I had leftover Christmas candy canes; so I pulsed 3 or 4 of them in the Magic Bullet and added them into the cookie crust. I didn't have creme de menthe. So I did a mix-n-match swap with the mint and vanilla: I used 1/4 C of vanilla syrup (like you'd put in a coffee drink) with 1 tsp of mint flavoring. I also ran the cottage cheese in my Magic Bullet blender so it was really smooth and turds! :) I didn't do it, but with a dark chocolate cheesecake--I buy DARK chocolate cocoa powder--white chips would add visual interest (nice), but a sweeter taste (I prefer dark, semi-/bitter-sweet chocolate). Feel free to fiddle!

Creamy Ham & Potato Casserole

I know this one is from a magazine (I have the page I ripped out). But the bottom is missing... I'm guessing it's from Sunset which is the only one I subscribe to, but I'm not positive. Wherever it's from, it's good. :)

Creamy Ham & Potato Casserole
1 onion, chopped
2 Tbls butter
2 Tbls flour
2 Tbls Dijon-style mustard
1 3/4 cups milk
4 oz cream cheese, cut up
1 C Gruyere cheese, shredded (4 oz.)
1 Tbsp. fresh chives or green onions
1 1/2 lb. potatoes, cut in thin wedges
8 oz. cooked ham, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup coarsely crushed bagel chips
Thyme and/or Italian parsley leaves

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 2-quart rectangular baking dish; set aside.
2. For sauce, in medium saucepan cook onion in hot butter over medium heat 5 minutes or until tender; stirring occasionally. Stir in flour and mustard. Add milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until slightly thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat to low. Whisk in cream cheese until smooth. Gradually add 1/2 cup of the Gruyere cheese until cheese is melted. Stir in chives.
3. In bowl combine potatoes, ham, and sauce; toss gently to combine. Transfer to prepared baking dish.
4. Bake, covered, 1 hour or until potatoes are tender. Uncover; stir carefully. Sprinkle with crushed chips and remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, 10 to 15 minutes more or until cheese is melted. Let stand, 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with herbs. Serves 6.

I used store-bought seasoned croutons instead of bagel chips. Taste fine, but they won't stay crispy as for leftovers. :)

Pumpkin Crème Brulée

I tried a pumpkin crème brulée recipe. I think this one is from one of the cooking classes I worked for the community college. It says it serves 6, which is ridiculous. If the ramekins in this picture look like they've got a tiny bit of brulée in the bottoms…that’s accurate. Also, after cooking them for the 35-40 minutes at 300°, as the recipe states (in a water bath with water that was very HOT before ever going into the oven), they were no way near cooked. After another ½ hour I took them out of the oven. They were still too soft and wet. However, the flavor was good. I'll try the recipe again sometime and adjust the oven temp and/or cooking time. And double it!
Also…I have no torch, so the carmelized sugar on top isn’t really what it should be... especially when the top is so low down in the barely filled ramekins!

Pumpkin Crème Brulée
1/2 C heavy cream
1/4 C canned pumpkin
1/4 C sour cream
3 egg yolks
1/4 C brown sugar
1 Tbls maple syrup
(or honey, corn syrup...)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp nutmeg
pinch of salt

2 Tbls sugar - for carmelizing on top

Heat oven to 300°.
Combine all ingredients except heavy cream (and sugar for carmelizing) in a small mixing bowl. Heat cream to a simmer, remove from heat and stir in pumpkin mixture a little at a time. Strain into a pitcher or large, spouted measuring cup. (You can, of course, skip this step; just don't expect your brulée to be perfectly smooth.)
Arrange 6 ramekins (yeah right...try 3 or 4!) in a cake/casserole dish. Divide custard into ramekins. Place dish in oven and fill with hot water, being careful not to get any in the custard.
Bake 35-40 minutes (or over an hour...) until centers are soft-set. Remove from oven; remove from water bath. Cool, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Sprinkle with sugar and torch/carmelize before serving.

Spicy Beef Berbere

My World Lit classes were kicking off a new unit (new region) and I always bring in food (& music) as they work on the introductory worksheet packet (maps, author bio's, cultural research, etc.).
This time it was an Ethiopian recipe that calls for beef stew meat. When I've made it before--for friends at home--I've used a beef roast that, after cooking a few hours in the crock pot, easily pulled apart into tender strings and chunks; very nice. :) My students are not typically a highly discriminating bunch, though I appreciate their willingness to try unfamiliar dishes. I used ground beef. (It's cheap.)

Spicy Beef in Berbere Sauce
2 medium onions
1/4 C butter
1 Tbls minced fresh ginger
1 Tbls paprika
1 Tbls cayenne
1 Tbls cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp fenugreek*
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp allspice
1 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
1/4 C dry red wine
2 1/2 lbs beef stew meat

Pulse onions in a food processor until very finely diced, almost pureed. Melt butter in large pan; add onions and stir until browned (about 10 minutes). Add spices and stir until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add tomatoes, wine and beef; bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until beef is very tender (about 2 hours). Salt to taste.
I dump this into the crock pot to take it to school. (Or if you're heading to a potluck, etc.)

* Fenugreek is a spice (a seed actually) that has a mild, sweet flavor. You might be able to find it at a Middle Eastern market if you really want to. It's not exactly the same, but I pitch in a little extra cardamom and call it good.

Serving suggestion: Eat with your hands. This is great served with (scooped onto) injera -- Ethiopian flatbread, somewhere between a French crepe and Indian naan. Recipe below (somewhat modified for us uses club soda). Again, a couple months ago with friends over for dinner...I made it. Recently, I wasn't quite up to cooking enough for 50 students. At school we made do with whole wheat tortillas.


1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 1/2 C buckwheat flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, beaten
3+ C club soda

Whisk together flours, baking powder and salt. Add eggs and club soda and whisk until smooth. It should resemble pancake batter in consistency; if needed, add more club soda.

Spray a nonstick fry pan lightly and set over medium heat. When hot, pour 1/3 C batter into pan, tilting to spread batter. Cook until flatbread is bubbly and dry on top, 2-3 minutes. (NOTE: Traditionally, the injera is only cooked on one side. I like it briefly flipped and browned, but do what you want.)

Keep warm in a 200° oven until ready to serve.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Hollandaise Sauce

I love hollandaise sauce. Love eggs Benedict. I have a recipe for an eggs Benedict-ish dish using crab instead of ham. I haven't made that one yet, but did want to try a home-made hollandaise. Supposedly a bit of a tricky emulsion to master. As I made this recipe I was starting to feel very confident: It was beautiful – smooth, golden, velvety – but as I continued adding the butter (slowly, whisking all the time) it started to separate. I put down the butter, whisked fast-and-furiously! But as soon as I'd stop…separation. :(

Disappointed, and a little frustrated, I dumped in the rest of the butter and poured the whole recipe into my Magic Bullet blender to whip it that way and see if I could get a smooth emulsion back. Success! Texture: silky. Flavor: I used a little too much Dijon. Next time, less of that and a touch more lemon. Or I may try just a pinch of dry mustard instead. Still, it was delicious over sautéed asparagus and mushrooms, with a slice of home-made sourdough bread.

4 egg yolks
1 Tbls lemon juice
1/2 to 1 C melted butter
pepper (white blends invisibly)
1 Tbls dijon

Whisk together egg yolks and lemon juice in double boiler to just warm. Slowly drizzle in melted butter, whisking constantly. Remove from heat.
Salt and pepper to taste. Add either or both of last two ingredients as desired.

Monday, February 1, 2010

"Dice & Dump" Bruschetta

No real recipe on this one. It's easy to just dice and dump whatever I have that sounds good. I start with a can--or two--of diced tomatoes. Use fresh if you like. (Honestly, I'm NOT a big tomato fan and rarely buy them, especially when they're not really in season. But I like tomato juice, soup, sauce--spaghetti and etc. Go figure.)

"Dice and Dump" Bruschetta
The basics:
Sliced french bread*
1 or 2 cans diced tomatoes
diced/chopped onion
1 or 2 cloves crushed garlic
olive oil
balsamic vinegar

Dice & Dump options:
sliced mushrooms
diced peppers - green, red, yellow...
basil (or chives)
shredded cheese

Drain the tomatoes. Put tomatoes, chopped onion, garlic, peppers in a skillet with a little olive oil. You can add a bit of vinegar here, but I like to splash/sprinkle it on later - keeps the flavor a little more isolated from all the veggies.
Cook over medium heat just until veggies are all warm if you like them still crisp...longer if you like them softer. Cook off excess liquid, or drain if necessary. Add basil (fresh is always better, but I've used dried, or substituted chives) and cook just a minute or so
longer until flavor is infused and aromatic.

I like to toast the bread (french bread, sourdough, asiago cheese bread...) in a skillet with a little olive oil. But a toaster works fine too. :) Spoon tomato mixture onto bread slices. Sprinkle with cheese if desired. Toast under the broiler until cheese is melted and/or tomatoes are just beginning to roast a bit. After toasting is when I like to splash on a little balsamic vinegar, just before serving. Mmmmm.