Sunday, November 29, 2009

Delux Restaurant

I am sorry about not posting very often. But we have had non-stop company at the same time that I started a new job--plus 2 holidays! Did I mention that we are re-tiling our shower? Let's just say that I have been busy. I promise in a week, there will be more consistent posting. Maybe not as many as when I wasn't working for 3 months, but more. So here's a little review of a restaurant in Phoenix. It's an upscale burger joint. The burgers are really good. Large burgers, good buns, good toppingd. Not a huge menu, but they also have good fries. You can get regular or sweet potato--or a mix of both. They have ketchup and another sauce that kind of tastes like the Bloomin' Onion sauce at Outback. And they come in a mini shopping cart! So cute. If I had a restaurant, I would do something like that. They are also located next to a gelato place. Yum.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Blazin' Baked Beans

Beans, beans, the musical fruit .. . .. So true, so true. Although I don't think it's really the beans that are musical. More like music-inspiring. So these are really spicy. Beware. Use less, more, or no chipotle chiles depending on your tolerance level. We followed the recipe and they were very warm for me. But not "grabbing my water" warm. They are really easy to make, but make sure you  have enough time to bake them.

Blazin' Baked Beans

1/4 pound finely diced bacon slices (raw)
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons finely chopped chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce
5 (16-ounce) cans navy beans, rinsed and drained
1 (18-ounce) jar low-sodium barbecue sauce
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.

Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in pan, and set bacon aside. Add onion to drippings in pan; sauté 3 minutes.

Combine bacon, onion, and remaining ingredients except cooking spray in a large bowl; toss well. Spoon the bean mixture into a 13 x 9-inch or 2 1/2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream

This a another David Lebovitz recipe. I know, I know. But I have come to trust his recipes. I think it is from his book, but you can find it here . This was very good--not quite great-- especially if you like dark chocolate. I think next time I would just use some really good milk chocolate. Use what you like. I used frozen berries and regular old Hershey's cocoa. I don't think the type of cocoa matters, since there is no reaction involved (google the difference between Dutch and regular cocoa if you are confused).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pistachio Gelato

Apparently this David Lebovitz guy knows what he is doing. I found this recipe on his website. He has a book out called The Perfect Scoop as well. I am not sure if this recipe is in it, but I plan to find out. Between the book and the website, you are sure to find something good to make. Now this is gelato, so it has a intense flavor. That's a good thing. There was a minor issue of the pistachio paste. I had pistachios, so I assumed that I could make some without havng to hunt down a store that carried the paste. I found several recipes that called for bitter almond extract as part of the recipe. What? Don't know where to find that and I wanted this gelato soon. So I finally found one that called for equal parts pistachio to powdered sugar. Just grind the nuts in the food processor and add the sugar. Give a whirl. Then add water a little at a time until it forms a paste, like marzipan. I had to find some conversions to figure out that 7 ounces is about 3/4 cup plus 2 T. And Voila. Super yummy gelato.

Pistachio Gelato

2 cups (½ liter) whole milk
1/3 cup (65 gr) sugar
2 tablespoons (16 gr) cornstarch (also known as corn flour)
7 ounces (200 gr) Bronte pistachio paste
a few drops of lemon or orange juice (I forgot to add this, it was fine)

Make a slurry by mixing the 1/4 cup of the milk with the cornstarch, mixing until the starch is dissolved and the mixture is smooth.

Heat the rest of the milk in a medium-sized saucepan with the sugar. When it almost starts to boil, stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook at gentle simmer for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, scrape into a bowl, and chill thoroughly, preferably overnight.

Once chilled, whisk in the pistachio paste and just a few drops of citrus juice until smooth. Freeze the gelato in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Monday, November 16, 2009

7 Layer Dip

Got some avocadoes? Why make guacamole when you can make 7 layer dip. Of course, I prefer my dip without the sour cream or guacamole. Many people do like all the layers, and this was pretty good. It's also very versatile. Pick whatever ingredients you like. Refried beans or black beans. Cheddar cheese or monterrey jack. Yum.

7 Layer Dip

2 cups of refried beans, either from one 15-ounce can or homemade

1 teaspoon (or more) of bacon fat (or 1 strip of bacon, cooked and minced) optional
1 teaspoon of chipotle powder, Tabasco chipotle sauce, or adobo sauce, more to taste (or plain chili powder to taste)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup chopped green Anaheim chiles (canned) OR a Tbsp of chopped pickled jalapenos (more to taste)
1 avocado, peeled and chopped
1 hot house tomato, cut in half horizontally, seeds and juice gently squeezed out and discarded, chopped
1/3 cup of sour cream, or if you can get it Crema Mexicana (Mexican sour cream)
1/2 small can of sliced ripe black olives
Heat the refried beans in a medium sauté pan or cast iron skillet. Stir in enough water to get a creamy, easily dip-able consistency, about 1/4 of a cup. The taste of refried beans is greatly enhanced by bacon fat; we'll add a teaspoon to canned beans or a tablespoon or more to taste if we are making the beans from scratch. If you don't have bacon fat, you can cook up a strip of bacon, chop it up fine and add that to the beans. If you are trying to avoid pork, note that most canned refried beans are made with added lard, so check the ingredients. You can use olive oil instead, to help the consistency of the beans.

Mix in the chipotle chili powder (or Tabasco, or adobo, or regular chili powder) and cumin to taste. Note that the avocados and the sour cream will cool down the spiciness of the beans considerably, so you can afford to be a bit more spicy than you might think. Stir in salt to taste, depending on how salted your refried beans are to begin with, and depending on how salty the tortilla chips are that you are serving with the dip.

Once the beans are hot and bubbly, spread them over the bottom of a warmed serving dish. Immediately add the shredded cheese so that the heat from the beans helps melt the cheese. (The cheese doesn't need to be completely melted, but even if it is just a little, it will help the dip stay on the chip.)

Layer on the chopped green chilies, chopped avocado, chopped tomato. Spoon on the sour cream (or crema Mexicana, crema fresca, or even cream fraiche). Top with sliced green onions and olives.

Serve immediately with tortilla chips.

White Bean and Roasted Eggplant Hummus

I'm not a huge fan of hummus, so I am going to say that this recipe is only okay. If you really like hummus, you may like this. I had some eggplants to use and brought this to a family function.

White Bean and Roasetd Eggplant Hummus

1 (1 1/2-pound) eggplant or 3 Japanese eggplants, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
Olive oil, for drizzling, plus 1/3 cup
Kosher salt, for seasoning, plus 1/2 teaspoon
Freshly ground black pepper, for seasoning, plus 1/4 teaspoon
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from about 1 lemon)
1 clove garlic
1 hothouse cucumber, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and place an oven rack in the middle.

Place the eggplant on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown. Set aside to cool.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the cooled eggplant, beans, parsley, lemon juice, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pulse until the mixture is coarsely chopped. With the machine running, gradually add 1/3 cup of olive oil until the mixture is creamy. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Place the hummus in a dipping bowl and serve with the cucumber slices. Alternatively, spoon the hummus over the cucumber slices and arrange on a serving platter.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Milk Chocolate Ice Cream with Candy Pieces

This ice cream is amazing. Thank you David Lebovitz! I do not normally eat plain chocolate ice cream, but I would eat this plain. On that note, why eat plain when you can add good stuff. So pick your favorite candy, chop it up, and stir it in! I avoided candy with caramel in it, because it just gets hard and crunchy if you don't make it freezer friendly.

Milk Chocolate Ice Cream with Candy Pieces

8 ounces (230g) dark milk chocolate (at least 35% cacao solids), broken or chopped
1 1/2 cups (375ml) whole milk
3/4 cup (150g) sugar
pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups (375ml) crème fraîche or heavy cream, or a combination (see Note)

Put the pieces of milk chocolate in a large bowl and set a mesh strainer over the top. Then make an ice bath in a larger bowl (or the sink), that you'll rest the bowl of milk chocolate within later.

In a medium-sized saucepan, warm the milk, sugar, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks.

Once the milk is warm, slowly pour about half of it into the yolks, whisking constantly, to warm them. Scrape the warmed yolks back into the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly with a heatproof utensil, until the custard thickens and coats the spatula.

Immediately strain the custard over the milk chocolate, and stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the crème fraîche or heavy cream (or combination of the two).

Rest the bowl of milk chocolate custard in the ice bath, and stir until cool. Chill thoroughly, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Should the custard get very thick once chilled, whisk it vigorously before adding it to your machine, which will thin it out so it's pourable.

To add the candy pieces, add to ice cream maker during last few minutes of the stirring process--or stir into mixture before freezing in freezer container.
Note: If using crème fraîche, chill the ice cream within eight hours of adding the crème fraîche; letting it rest in the refrigerator overnight and turn the whole batch a bit too-tangy. If using heavy cream, it's fine to chill overnight.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Banoffee Pie

I think I have finally figured out the appropriate proportion of this recipe. I used Paula Deen's recipe as a basis. I think this recipe is much better when you make your own crust, dulce de leche, and whipped cream. You can buy premade, but it's just not as good.

Banoffee Pie

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
7-8  tablespoons butter, softened
1 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
3 large bananas
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix graham cracker crumbs with softened butter and press mixture into 9-inch pie plate. Bake for 5 to 8 minutes.

Lower the oven to 300 degrees F for the toffee filling.

To create toffee filling, caramelize the sweetened condensed milk. Pour the condensed milk into a 9 by 12 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Cover with foil and place dish inside a larger poaching pan. Add water to poaching pan until half way up sides of baking dish. Bake for 1 1/2 hours.

I actually prefer the boiling method. Cover can with water in a large pot. Cook on medium heat for 3 hours. Make sure that the can is ALWAYS covered with water. It can explode if it becomes uncovered.
Once both the crust and toffee filling are cooled, spread half of the filling evenly inside crust. Slice the bananas and layer on top of filling. Pour remaining half of filling over bananas, spreading evenly. Whip the cream with the confectioners' sugar and vanilla and spread on top of toffee filling and bananas

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Chicken Pot Pie

Talk about comfort food. Pot pies are so good. Like chicken soup but in a yummy, flaky crust. I can never finish one, so I think I will make smaller pies next time. I have made this using the garam masala pot pie filling as well. So good. So much better than the frozen ones--but I did love those as a kid.

Chicken Pot Pie

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small chunks
3/4 cup ice water, plus more if needed

 Pot Pie
shredded chicken from rotisserie chicken (about half the chicken)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 quarts chicken broth
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 carrots, cut in 1/2-inch circles
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup fresh sweet peas, about 1 pound
1 garlic clove, chopped
Leaves from 8 fresh thyme sprigs
Needles from 1 fresh rosemary sprig, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 egg mixed with 3 tablespoons of water, for egg wash
Coarse salt

To make the pastry: Combine the flour and salt in a very large mixing bowl. Add the butter and mix with a pastry blender or your hands until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Pour in the ice water and work it in to bind the dough until it holds together without being too wet or sticky. Squeeze a small amount together, if it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Make 4 equal size balls of dough and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate while preparing the rest of the recipe (feel free to make the dough the night before if you prefer.)

To make the pot pie filling: Wipe out the stockpot and put it back on the stovetop over medium-low heat. Melt the butter and just as the foam subsides, add the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or whisk to prevent lumps. This is a roux, which will act as a thickener. Cook and stir the roux until it's the color of a California blonde. Now, gradually pour in the chicken broth, whisking the entire time to prevent lumps. Whisk and simmer for 10 minutes to cook out the starchy taste of the flour and thicken the broth; it should look like cream of chicken soup. Fold in the carrots, pearl onions, peas, garlic, rosemary, thyme, and lemon juice; stir to combine. Simmer for 10 minutes to soften the vegetables a bit; season the mixture with salt and pepper. Stir in the shredded chicken until incorporated, remove from the heat and cool to room temperature; it will get quite thick as it cools down.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Take the dough out of the refrigerator and set it out on the counter for 5 minutes to warm up a bit, making it easier to roll out.

Sprinkle the counter and a rolling pin lightly with flour. Take each dough ball and separate into 2 smaller balls--keep one slightly larger than the other. Roll out larger ball so that it covers your oven safe dish. Scoop pot pie filling to fill bowl. Roll out smaller ball and cover bowl. Squeeze edges together to seal. Cut a slit in the top of pie. Lightly beat the egg with 3 tablespoons of water to make an egg wash and brush it on the dough. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Place the chicken pies in the oven and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until puffed and golden. Let the chicken pie rest for 10 minutes before moving it.

Source: Tyler Florence

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are basically a recipe from Betty Crocker. I just changed half the chocolate chips to milk chocolate. These are hands down the best cookies in the world. They are perhaps the best food in the world. I think if I were on a deserted island, I would want these with me. The secret to making truly great cookies is to cook them just right. Not too crispy, not too raw (some grocery stores often have that not cooked enough center, ick). The size of the cookie affects that a little. So keep an eye on them while they are cooking!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2/3 cup margarine (I prefer to use Imperial margarine rather than butter in these)
2/3 cup shortening (I use the butter flavored one)
2 eggs
1 T vanilla
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chip
6 ounces milk chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix thoroughly shortening, butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla. Stir in remaining ingredients. Drop onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown. Cool slightly before removing from sheet.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sloppy Joes

These sloppy joes do not taste like the ones I ate as a kid. They are much sweeter. The recipe came from my husbands small file of recipes--that I am sure came from his mother. They are very good. Sometimes I make these, sometimes I make the less sweet more tomatoey kind. Both are yummy. Sloppy joes are just so easy to make, I love them.

Sloppy Joes

1 lb hamburger
1/2 cup ketchup (I bet you can use a combo of tomatoe paste and tomato sauce)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 T mustard
2 tsp Worcestshire sauce
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder

Brown and drain hamburger. Mix all ingredients and simmer on stovetop for 15 minutes.