Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Hope y'all stay and warm tonight and that no vampires get ya. Here's a commercial we worked on over the summer for Jameson that I think is fitting for today. If you watch American Horror Story on FX you might have already seen it.

Anyway, Happy Halloween! And Boo!

The Legend of the Hawk of Achill

Friday, October 28, 2011

Witches' Puss (Pea, Kale, and Mozzarella Soup)

Finally a little fall in Texas! Just in time to make it really feel like Halloween weather.

This is just my favorite pea soup recipe with a bit of thawed frozen kale added in. It's the only way I can sneak kale into my husband so I'm betting it would work on kids too. If you have any youngin's going trick or treating on Monday, this would be a great way to get some food into them before the sugar orgy.

Pea Soup with Fresh Mozzarella and Kale
*You can adjust the thickness of the soup by leaving some of the stock out of the blender (use a strainer or spider to pull out all the veg), blending all the veg and cheese together first before adding all the rest of the stock to suit your preferences.

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 shallots, thinly sliced
2 green onions (can sub fresh basil, parsley, mint or whatever herb you have on hand)
4 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 (10 oz) packages frozen peas
1/2 cup chopped frozen kale, thawed, optional
1 large ball fresh mozzarella, broken into small pieces

Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add olive oil, allowing to warm though, then the shallots. Season with salt and pepper and saute for 5-6 minutes until softened. Add green onions and chicken stock, cover and bring to boil. When boiling, add the peas and kale and lower the heat, allowing to cook just until the peas achieve that bright green color - about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and allow to cool for twenty minutes before blending. Discard the green onions and transfer the peas, shallots and kale using a slotted spoon to a blender. Add half of the chicken stock, and carefully blend (CAREFUL WHEN BLENDING HOT LIQUID - PULL OUT THE PLASTIC CENTER FROM THE TOP TO ALLOW STEAM TO ESCAPE AND COVER LOOSELY WITH A KITCHEN TOWEL OR ELSE YOU'LL WIND UP WITH PEAS SOUP ON YOUR CEILING. TRUST ME - I'VE DONE IT.) Add as much of the leftover stock as you'd like to reach the constistancy you're happy with, then add in half of the mozzarella pieces blending in to incorporate. When happy, put back in the large pot and cook over low heat, until warmed through. Serve with extra mozzarella pieces sprinkled on top.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Boo! Tres Leches Loco Cake.

I'm back! It's the tale end of my vacay and I took a break from it ALL - even my computer. I rode my horse every day and got outside and ate a lot of good food and road tripped a little. And now it's almost over. Scary, indeed.

Anyhow I have a lot to share with you - including some eleventh hour Halloween recipes. So buckle up and hang on!

First off I bring you Tres Leches Loco Cake. From the beloved Pioneer Woman who does wicked, magical things with a can of condensed milk.

What? This cake is ugly, you say? Well I never claimed to be a professional baker. But hell if I don't enjoy doing it!

Tres Leches Loco Cake

1 cup All-purpose Flour
1-1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
5 whole Eggs
1 cup Sugar, Divided
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/3 cup Milk

For pouring over after baking, whisk together the following:
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 can (5 fluid oz) evaporated milk
1/4 cup Heavy Cream
2 teaspoons rum, or to taste
dash of maple flavoring (maple extract) or vanilla extract

For the Icing:
1 pint Heavy Cream, For Whipping and 3 Tablespoons Sugar OR Cool Whip

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan liberally until coated.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Separate eggs.

Beat egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar on high speed until yolks are pale yellow. Stir in milk and vanilla. Pour egg yolk mixture over the flour mixture and stir very gently until combined.

Beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, pour in remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry.

Fold egg white mixture into the batter very gently until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and spread to even out the surface.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn cake out onto a rimmed platter and allow to cool (I just cooled in the pan and served it from there - up to you.)

Combine condensed milk, evaporated milk, heavy cream, rum and extract in a small/medium bowl. When cake is cool, gently pierce the surface with a fork several times. Slowly drizzle all but about 1 cup of the milk mixture—try to get as much around the edges of the cake as you can. (USE THE LEFTOVER MIXTURE FOR SERVING OVER ICE CREAM - DELICIOUS! WILL KEEP UP TO 4 DAYS COVERED IN FRIDGE.)

Allow the cake to absorb the milk mixture for 30 minutes. To ice the cake, whip 1 pint heavy cream with 3 tablespoons of sugar until thick and spreadable. Or use Cool Whip (works better for transporting.)

Decorate, or not.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ginger Soy Pork Chops A La Crock Pot

Don't let the ugly picture scare you away. This recipe is delish. And if the word crock pot scares you or seems a bit WT for your taste, you must have a lot more free time than I do. Please share your secret to mastering the universe in the comments section below.

Ginger Soy Pork Chops A La Crock Pot
* Serves 2, can double recipe for 4 servings.

2 thick bone-in pork chops
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup soy sauce
4 smashed garlic cloves
1 inch chopped fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon orange zest, optional
chopped green onions, for garnish

First you need to whisk all the soaking ingredients together either in a large bowl or even in a ziploc until all blended together. Gently pour into your crock pot then add the chops turning them over in the liquid to be sure every bit has been blessed. Turn the crock on low heat and cook for 6-7 hours, turning the chops occasionally to be sure every side is getting equal liquid love (I had to stack the chops on top of one another because my pot is from the 70's - you won't have this problem if yours is newer/wider.)

Check for doneness with a knife before serving and DON'T let them cook for too long past this stage or they'll get tough (if mine are cooked I'll turn the pot off for an hour or so if we're not ready to eat then turn it back on 20 minutes before serving so they warm through again.)

Serve over rice with extra juice from the pot and green onions for garnish.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Filet Mignon with Red Wine and Porcini Mushroom Sauce. Hell to the Yeah-Uh.

I am in love with Porcini mushrooms despite the fact they smell like feet when you rehydrate them. Luckily they don't taste like feet. They taste like the most intense, flavorful mushroom you ever had, just without the use of psychotropics. If you don't like mushrooms well, we just don't have much in common, do we? Just kidding. But not really...

Perhaps the real reason I love Porcini mushrooms so much is that they just sit there in my spice drawer month after month waiting to become something tasty. They don't have to be cooked within a few days of buying them like fresh mushrooms do and they add SO much flavor to everything from risotto to side dishes to sauces. Basically they're like a super stealth secret weapon just laying low until called upon to make it rain in the kitchen. Which is just what they did last night.

I now have the answer to what my final meal would be if I ever end up on death row. These steaks, a baked potato, and roasted asparagus.

Filet Mignon with Red Wine and Porcini Mushroom Sauce
Serves 2. Recipe easily doubled.

2 filet mignon, let sit out of the fridge for 45 min, then liberally seasoned with salt and pepper
Olive oil, enough to just coat bottom of a small/medium rimmed skillet
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
.75 oz dried Porcini mushrooms, reconstituted in 1 cup hot water for 30 minutes (reserve broth)
3/4 cup red wine
1 teaspoon Worchestershire
scant 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon of the porcini broth
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 400.

As stated in ingredient list, reconstitute your dried Porcinis in hot water for half an hour. Onwards and upwards now.

Heat your small/medium skillet over medium high heat. Add just enough olive oil to create a thin layer on the bottom of the pan and let heat through for 1 minute (you want that sear when you add your cow to the pan, sorry Moo Moo.) Add the steaks and let brown on one side - not touching them - for about 3-4 minutes depending on thickness. Use tongs to see if they'll lift easily. If not, let them be another minute before trying again. If so, go ahead and carefully flip to the other side and cook another 3-4 minutes until you have a nice crust. Remove and transfer to a medium baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray. Place in the oven for 6 minutes for medium rare (about 8 for medium and 4 for bloody.) Remove and tent with foil for 10 minutes before eating - which gives you just enough time to make the sauce!

For the sauce, add the shallots to the residual oil/fat in the skillet from frying the steaks and reduce heat slightly if they sizzle up too quickly/furiously. Season lightly with salt and pepper, then cook stirring often until translucent. About 3-4 minutes. Once translucent, add in the strained Porcinis (reserving broth), red wine, Worchestershire and rosemary. Bring to a boil then scrape up any browned bits from the bottom and stir occasionally, letting the mixture reduce by half - a few minutes or so. Once reduced, and while still boiling, stir in the cornstarch/Porcini broth mixture. It should only take 30 seconds or so at a boil for the mixture to thicken, then kill the heat and stir in the tablespoon butter.

Taste for salt/pepper - if it tastes 'okay' but not 'holy sh*t' then add a good pinch of salt, stir and taste again. A little salt is all that's keeping you from heaven at this point.

Serve the sauce spooned heavily over the rested steaks (again I love these steaks with good ole baked taters and roasted asparagus.)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Honey Pecan 'Fried' Chicken with Hot Sauce Butter

This is slap-yourself-in-the-face good. Hot, crunchy, spicy, sweet. Serve with extra hot sauce butter and honey on the side to dip the chicken in as well as any sides that are dip-able I.E. biscuits, sweet potato fries, phalanges, what have you. Or if you'd like to eat it as portrayed in my spectacular photo (kidding!) make the herbed goat cheese grits at the bottom of this post. And remember it's 'oven-fried' so pat on the back, buddy. Way to go.

Pecan Crusted Chicken with Hot Sauce Butter and Honey
Chicken and Marinade:
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon coriander
3 fat sprigs fresh thyme
4 garlic cloves, smashed
2 dried bay leaves
fresh cracked pepper

Chicken Coating:
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon chopped pecans
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon Panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Hot Sauce Butter:
4 tablespoons melted butter (I use salted) combined with 1 tablespoon Frank's Hot Sauce, or more to taste

1/4 cup or so, for drizzling over hot baked chicken

Add the buttermilk to a large ziploc along with the sea salt, smoked paprika, coriander, thyme, garlic and pepper. Mix well then dunk the chicken breasts in, seal, and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Remove from the fridge 45 minutes before cooking.

Preheat your oven to 375. Drain the chicken, pat dry and place in a rimmed glass or ceramic baking dish sprayed with nonstick spray. Lightly season with salt and pepper, then gently spoon the chicken coating (above) over the chicken trying to cover every exposed surface and applying in as even a layer as possible. Now you drizzle the hot sauce butter over the top using a spoon - use a zig zag motion and pour in a thin layer - you don't need to douse the chicken (though you could) - just give the coating enough moisture to achieve that 'bake-fried' texture.

Cover the dish with foil and cook on the center rack for 15 minutes. Uncover and cook another 15-18 minutes until the topping is golden brown and the chicken juices run clear when pierced with a knife (unless breasts are very thick - they should be cooked through by 25-28 minutes.) If at any point the topping begins to blacken, recover with foil. Let rest 5 minutes before serving, drizzling liberally with honey.

Herbed Goat Cheese Grits:
3 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 fat peeled garlic clove
3/4 cups quick grits
2 oz goat cheese
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
pinch fresh cracked black pepper
handful fresh minced basil
handful fresh minced flat leaf parsley
pinch fresh chopped rosemary

Add the chicken stock and garlic to a medium lidded pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the grits and slowly stir in. Lower the heat to medium/low - just until the liquid is gently simmering and no longer boiling. Cook, stirring continuously until the grits have thickened to your liking - usually abotut 7-8 minutes for me. Kill the heat and stir in the goat cheese, parmesan, pepper and herbs. Serve right away, removing garlic clove if desired.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Grilled Fish Tacos with Ginger Basil Crema

These tacos were pretty good but to be honest I could eat this sour cream sauce on just about anything. Maybe even tofu. It's a shame I'm not a real country girl or I'd shoot the raccoons destroying my yard at night and try it on them. But for now, fish tacos will do.

Grilled Fish Tacos with Ginger Crema Sauce
Serves 5.

1 lime, zest and juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon coriander
2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
handful chopped basil
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 tablespoon sea salt
2 smashed garlic cloves
1 jalapeño (deveined and seeded for less heat) roughly chopped
1 1/2 pounds mahi mahi
Extra limes for squeezing over after grilling

Plenty of tortillas, wrapped in foil and warmed in a low oven
Ginger Basil Crema, recipe follows
1 1/2 cups fresh Pico De Gallo (Chop a fresh tomato, jalapeno, small white onion, and giant handful fresh cilantro. Squeeze over the juice of 1 lime, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and a minced garlic clove if desired.)

Add the marinade ingredients - the lime juice, zest and lime carcass through the jalapeno to a large ziploc and squish around to make sure everything's well blended. Add in the mahi mahi, seal and refrigerate for 4 hours. Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before grilling.

Set the heat to medium/high heat (around 400) and oil the grates. Remove the fish from the marinade shaking off any excess herbs or marinade bits and gently pat dry. Season with a little more salt and pepper and add to the grill - skin side down. Cook for about 10-12 minutes or until the fish flakes easily when probed with a fork. Let rest for 5 minutes, then slide a spatula between the skin and flesh to get the flesh away from it (no skin in my tacos, please.) Squeeze a lime wedge or 2 over the cooked fish, taste for salt/pepper adding more if necessary.

Serve in warm tortillas with pico de gallo and ginger basil crema, recipe follows.

Crema Sauce:
1/3 cup light sour cream
2 tablespoons light mayo
1/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger, or more to taste
handful chopped, fresh basil
zest of half a lime
tiny pinch salt and pepper

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cinnamon Butter Cookies

Another one from Martha's "Cookies" Book, actually called Buttered Rum Meltaways. Someone quite close to me went on a psychotic baking spree during the holidays last year, froze these (unbaked) in logs wrapped in parchment wrapped in ziplocs, recently found them again in her freezer, baked them off and found them good as new... nine months later.

I won't mention her by name. She'd be embarrassed. It would be awkward. And so on. That said if you were to do such a thing as her it helps to add some edible glitter to the powdered sugar you roll them in to make them feel more 'now.'

Buttered Rum Meltaways (Cinnamon Butter Cookies, because that's what they taste like to me)

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup dark rum
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
good pinch edible glitter, available at baking supply stores or online, to toss with remaining powdered sugar

Whisk flour, cornstarch, spices, and salt in a bowl. Put butter and 1/3 cup powdered sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in rum and vanilla. Reduce speed to low, and gradually mix in flour mixture.
Divide dough in half. Place each on a piece of parchment paper; shape dough into logs. Fold parchment over dough; using a ruler, roll and press into a 1 1/4-inch log. Wrap in parchment. Chill in freezer 30 minutes (up to 1 month).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap logs. Cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds; space 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until just golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool 10 minutes. Gently toss warm cookies with remaining 2/3 cup sugar and edible glitter (optional) in a resealable plastic bag. Cookies can be refrigerated in airtight containers up to 2 weeks (or frozen, unbaked and in logs, if you're Alisa Sengel Wixom for up to 9 months if triple wrapped in parchment and two ziplocs, prior to slicing, baking, and tossing in remaining sugar.) ;)