Monday, October 31, 2011

Pork Patty Bánh Mì

A product of French colonialism in Vietnam, this sandwich is one the classic testaments to the benefits of cross-cultural cuisine.  With the wide variety of fusion delights we have available these days from gourmet food trucks and restaurants, and the exploding popularity of Bahn Mi sandwiches in particular, I think it's only natural we pay our homage to not only what is one of our favorite sandwiches but one of our favorite philosophies about food in general.  Simply put, break the rules, don't stick to tradition, and flavors always come first.  This is one of our favorite versions of the sandwich, packed with colors, flavors, and cultural influences.

1 baguette - (It is best to use a baguette that has not been all the way cooked yet, our grocery store calls them take and bake.)
half of a cucumber, sliced
1 carrot, shredded
1 jalapeno, sliced and seeds removed
half of red onion, sliced
handful of cilantro sprigs
1 scallion, chopped
1/8 lb deli meat (we like to use slices of turkey breast, but feel free to experiment)

20 ounces ground pork
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 onion, minced
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tablespoon butter

fresh lime juice
Sriracha hot sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix ground pork, garlic, onion, oyster sauce, and salt and pepper and form into long thin patties to fit the baguette.  Melt the butter on a griddle or skillet over medium high heat and grill patties on both sides until they are cooked all the way through.

Cook “take and bake” baguette in the oven for about 5 minutes at 350 degrees, just until the outside starts to crisp.  Remove from oven, and using a bread knife, cut into desired length, then cut in half lengthwise leaving enough connected on one side to “hinge” it together.  Then, scoop out as much of the inside of the bread as you can with your fingers.  It’s usually best to just do the bottom, as the ridges on the top of the baguette can cause problems when scooping.

On the inside, spread mayonnaise and drizzle on Sriracha.  Place pork patties down first, then the deli meat, and then the cucumber slices, carrot, red onion, cilantro, scallion, and jalapeno to taste.  Drizzle with lime juice.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Nutella Ice Cream

One of our favorite kitchen appliances is the ice cream maker.  We are totally hooked on making ice cream.  We hadn’t, however, been having too much luck with the American, or Philadelphia, style ice cream.  This type of ice cream is made without eggs.  Most of the time, we liked the taste, but the ice cream basically turned into a brick when placed in the freezer.  After seeing Melissa Clark’s article in the New York Times about this style of ice cream and tips to get around the freezing issue, we had renewed interest in playing around with the custard-free method.  Here is a yummy Nutella ice cream recipe based on some of the principles we learned from her article.

2 cups whipping cream
1 cup skim milk
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/8 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp vanilla
½ cup nutella, plus rest of container for swirling
1 tablespoon whiskey

Heat the cream, milk, sugar, salt, and cocoa over medium low heat until the sugar is dissolved.  Be sure to whisk the cocoa into the milk mixture.  Take the pan off heat and add the vanilla, ½ cup Nutella, and the alcohol.  Stir until the Nutella is dissolved.  Chill for a few hours and then churn in the ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions.  About 10 minutes before the ice cream is finished in the machine, swirl in the remainder of the Nutella.  It may help to heat the Nutella up a bit in the microwave to soften it.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Banana-Raspberry Belgian Waffles

Breakfasts in our house can be a bit boring – toast, hardboiled egg, slices of apples. Every now and then, though, we need something to break up the monotony.  Banana-raspberry Belgian Waffles bring some serious decadence to the morning.  A heaping pile of Belgian waffles slathered in maple syrup and homemade whipped cream is like eating dessert for breakfast, and what could be more fun than that?

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs
¼ cup butter, melted and cooled
½ teaspoon almond extract
½ - 1 cup banana puree
6 ounces raspberries, halved

In a medium sized bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a large bowl, mix buttermilk, eggs, butter, almond extract, and banana puree.  Slowly stir the flour mixture into the buttermilk mixture, being sure to get rid of all the lumps.  Carefully stir in raspberries.  Pour batter into preheated waffle iron and cook until waffles are crisp and golden.  Serve with maple syrup, raspberries, and some home-made whipped cream.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Chocolate Orange Muffins

It is always a pleasant surprise when you encounter unexpected, harmonious flavor combinations.  I remember the first time I had chocolate-coated candied orange peel – it was a revelation! Chocolate’s silky, creamy taste meets the sweet and sour citrus notes of orange to create a culinary symphony.  These muffins capture that chocolaty orange combination. 

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
6 ounces dark chocolate chunks
2 eggs
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
¾ cup fresh orange juice
½ tsp vanilla extract
orange zest from 2 oranges

Heat oven to 350.  Grease muffin tin.  Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in bowl and set aside.  In another bowl, beat sugar and butter.  Add eggs and combine.  Add orange juice and orange zest, yogurt, and vanilla until combined.  Slowly mix flour mixture into the wet ingredients.  Pour batter into muffin cups.  Bake 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

To change these up a bit, I will sometimes coat them with a chocolate ganache.  When I do that, I heat three tablespoons of milk or cream in the microwave and then mix in 1/3 cup of semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips.  Just dip the muffins in the ganache and enjoy.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Brown Butter and Sage Ravioli

Brown butter is a handy tool to have at your disposal.  Within just a few minutes, a simple, yet versatile, sauce is born.   You can use brown butter to coat everything from vegetables to veal, and it adds unexpected notes of flavor to baked goods such as brownies and cookies.  Infusing a nutty brown butter with broken leaves of sage and a bit of nutmeg makes a lovely meal when tossed with some cheese ravioli.

½ cup unsalted butter
12 sage leaves, torn
pinch nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
lemon juice from half a lemon
¾ cup parmesan
9 ounces fresh cheese ravioli

Cook ravioli according to package directions.  Meanwhile, in large sauté pan, melt butter over medium-low heat.  Add sage leaves and let the butter brown, about two minutes.  You will see brown specks that have formed on the bottom of the pan.  Be careful to not burn the butter, otherwise the taste will be altered.  Add ground pepper, salt and nutmeg.  Take off heat and add lemon juice.  Once ravioli is cooked, add pasta to the brown butter mixture and toss with cheese.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Curried Chicken Salad

Nobody could blame you if you thought of chicken salad as boring.  Quite frankly, it often is.  But bring in a bit of Eastern influence, and chicken salad can become something else, something very not-boring.  Something fresh, something exciting, something that activates your taste buds.  This curried chicken salad brings together a variety of flavors and textures – crunchy and sweet apples, spicy red onions, buttery chunks of melt-in-your mouth chicken, and a cacophony of peppery, earthy, fiery, savory, sweet seasonings.

2 pounds boneless chicken breast
cayenne pepper
garlic powder
2 celery ribs, chopped
1/2 granny smith apple, diced
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 scallions
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon spice mix, recipe below

Spice Mix:
1 ½  teaspoons coriander, crushed
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon cayenne
1/8 teaspoon ancho chile powder
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon mustard powder
¼ teaspoon black pepper

Mix all the spices together in a bowl.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.   Cover each piece of chicken with a pat of butter and sprinkle a bit of turmeric, cayenne, garlic powder, paprika, and cumin on each.  Bake for about 40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.  Turn the pieces over about half way through baking so both sides can get browned.  When cooked, let the chicken cool then shred or cut into chunks.  In a large bowl, mix together the chicken, apple pieces, red onion, and scallions.  In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, lemon juice, and spice mix.  Add the mayonnaise mixture to the ingredients in the large bowl and mix together.  Refrigerate.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sweet Potato Oven Fries with Citrus Herb Dip

These crispy, seasoned oven fries are served with a tangy and aromatic citrus herb dip.  The dip is heavy on the cilantro for a super-flavorful south of the border punch. Cutting the sweet potatoes into wedges gives them a good shape for dipping. Not only are these healthier, but to me, they taste better than any deep fried french fries I’ve had.

Oven Fries:
3 sweet potatoes, cut into wedges
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup canola oil
¼ teaspoon cayenne

Citrus Herb Dip:
½ cup cilantro
1 scallion
1 teaspoon lime zest
juice from 1 lime
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons canola oil

Preheat oven to 425.  Mix the sweet potatoes in a bowl with the canola oil, salt, and peppers.  Bake for about 40 minutes, being sure to toss the pieces so all the sides brown.

In food processor, simply puree all dip ingredients.  Serve in a bowl for dipping!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Rice Krispie Treats with Maple Syrup and Brown Sugar

No matter how old I get, I still have cravings for these childhood treats. How can one resist the crunchy combo of crisped rice cereal and gooey, melted marshmallows? A bit of maple syrup, brown sugar, and toasted pecans are added here to bring some autumn flavors to the mix.

½ cup unsalted butter
1 16 ounce bag of miniature marshmallows
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/3 cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup toasted pecans
11 ½ cups rice cereal

Grease a 9x13 pan, or line with parchment paper. Melt butter over medium-low heat in large pot. Add the brown sugar and maple syrup and stir until the brown sugar has dissolved. Add the marshmallows and stir until they have melted. Take off heat. Add the sea salt and vanilla and stir. Add rice cereal and toasted pecans to the melted marshmallow mixture and then press into prepared pan. Let cool.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Grilled Chicken Salad with Soy Vinaigrette

Hot off the grill, this chicken has a flavor that is powerfully umami. It is a classic recipe from Jenn's mom’s kitchen, and it is usually the last thing we’ll throw on the grill at night. It requires almost no effort to cook, and it’s a great way to stretch our cookout into the next day, when we’ll chop it up and mix it into a fresh salad. The balance of smokiness, spices, herbs, veggies, and soy vinaigrette makes this the one salad we look forward to. We like to use a lot of parsley in this dish to help complement the soy and red wine vinegar.

Grilled Chicken:
Marinate ½ – 1 lb of chicken breast in
½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp oregano
½ tsp basil
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp parsley
¼ tsp ground pepper

¼ cup soy sauce
1/8 cup canola oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 ½ tsp honey
¼ tsp Dijon mustard
splash of Franks red hot sauce
1/4 tsp pepper
¼ tsp oregano

1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped
2 carrots, shaved
½ cucumber, sliced
2 scallions, chopped
1 cup parsley, chopped
¼ red onion, sliced
grilled chicken, sliced

Marinate the chicken for at least 8 hours. Heat grill to medium high. Once hot, spread canola oil on grill grates, and place chicken down over the hot coals (or gas flame). Cook until one side has started to caramelize, and flip. Cook again until both sides are slightly charred. Remove from grill and chop into half-inch thick pieces. If you are refrigerating the meat for later, wait to chop until after you heat it back up.

In a large bowl, toss all salad ingredients.

In a small bowl, whisk all dressing ingredients until emulsified. Drizzle over the salad.

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