Sunday, February 26, 2012

Irish Potatoes, My Grandmother's Recipe

So why are Seth and Jenn posting a picture of potatoes?  Because they aren’t potatoes, nor do they even have any potato in them!  Instead of being starchy tubers, these are super duper sweet confections rolled in cinnamon.  This fun trompe l'oeil candy recipe actually comes from my grandmother.  She brings out this recipe one time a year, and that day, unsurprisingly, is St. Patrick’s Day!  We just love the way these treats play with the senses, looking like a potato and tasting like candy. 

4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
1 pound confectioner’s sugar
½ cup coconut flakes
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup marshmallow crème
3 tablespoons cinnamon

Cream butter, confectioner’s sugar, coconut flakes, vanilla extract, and marshmallow crème together.  If the batter doesn’t come together, add a bit of milk to the mixture.  Shape into potatoes.  Roll each “potato” in the cinnamon.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Stroganoff, an Ode to Ground Beef

So Jenn and I are putting our feet down.  What is so wrong with ground beef?  Why is it that, outside of a burger, ground beef has been shunned from the foodie lexicon so completely?  Want a burrito?  Steak, fish, or carne asada, those are your choices.  Ground beef?  Get out of here, you riff-raff excuse for meat!  This is the same riff-raff you used to make your gourmet burger!  Nice, fresh, ground beef is good, man!  And you eliminate the almost ubiquitous toughness that comes from using steak.  Oh, I suppose it has something to do with the meat not being rare when served, but that’s okay.  Cooked meat is good too, especially with all the right seasonings and sauces mixed in!  Think about how many dishes you enjoyed as a kid with ground beef in them.  Well, this recipe is the first step in our plan to bring ground beef back.  It can be every bit as juicy as any other meat, the texture is consistent and tasty, and it is a great partner to spices and sauces like those in this homemade Stroganoff.   

12 ounces egg noodles
8 ounces chopped mushrooms
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, minced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon paprika
pinch white pepper
3 tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup beef broth
1/8 cup port wine
¼ cup sour cream

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Cook egg noodles according to package directions. 

Melt the 1 tablespoon butter and olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat.  Once the butter has melted and the bubbles in the mixture have started to subside, add the chopped mushrooms.  Stir continuously, allowing the mushrooms to absorb the butter and oil mixture.  After a few minutes, once the mushrooms have begun to brown and release their juices take off heat.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, use a fork to mix together the ground beef, Worcestershire sauce, allspice, black pepper, paprika, and white pepper.  In a sauté pan, melt the remaining two tablespoons of butter over medium heat.  Add the shallots and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Add the beef mixture.  Stir the mixture, being sure to break up any large pieces.  Once the beef has browned and is no longer pink (about 6 or so minutes), stir in the tomato paste.  Cook for a minute then add the browned mushrooms, beef broth and port.  Turn the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.  Once the mixture has reduced a bit, take off heat and mix in sour cream.  Serve with egg noodles. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Blood Orange Creamsicle Ice Cream

Growing up, we both adored orange creamsicles.  With its bright citrus exterior and creamy vanilla interior, it was happiness on a stick.  It has been many years since I have had one of those frozen treats.  Recently, when I came across a pile of beautiful blood oranges at a local farmers market, I knew exactly what needed to be done with them – a blood orange creamsicle ice cream as an ode to one of my favorite childhood treats.  With its bright and fresh citrus flavor mixed with the warm notes of vanilla, it is like a taste of sunshine, the perfect way to pretend it’s summer outside…  After all, blood oranges are only around winter and spring ;-)

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
zest from 4 blood oranges
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
juice from 4 blood oranges

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, whisk the cream, milk, sugar, salt, and orange zest.  Stir until the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes.  Take off heat and stir in vanilla extract and orange juice.  Chill.  Churn in ice-cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions.  It is best eaten right after churning, otherwise take it out of the freezer about 15 minutes before serving.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Grilled Chuck Burgers with Extra Sharp Cheddar and Lemon Garlic Aioli

These cheeseburgers have become our classic, standby recipe when we are just craving some juicy grilled beef.  Each component plays an integral role in the taste sensation - the meaty bite of beef, the intense sharpness of cheddar, the peppery arugula, the sweetness of grilled red onion, and creamy, lemony aioli to bring it all together.  We love this burger because it comes together rather easily when we have the sudden urge to fire up the grill.  We know it's not technically grilling season yet, but well... when you gotta have a burger, you gotta have a burger.  They're good all year round.

1 pound ground chuck (enough for 4 burger patties)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
8 ½ inch slices of a good extra-sharp cheddar cheese
4 honey wheat buns or Kaiser rolls
1 red onion, cut into ¼ -inch circular slices
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
extra salt and freshly ground black pepper
arugula, for topping

Lemon Garlic Aioli:
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 cup chopped parsley
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper, to taste

To prep the burgers:  In a medium bowl, toss in the ground meat, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and Worcestershire sauce.  Mix together with a fork.  Once the ingredients have been combined, form four patties.

To prep the red onion:  Brush extra virgin olive oil on both sides of all the slices and then sprinkle with some salt and pepper.

For the lemon garlic aioli:  In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients together.  Place back in refrigerator until burgers are cooked.

To cook:  Preheat grill to around 350.  If using cast iron grates, use a paper towel or cloth to wipe all grates with canola oil.  Place burger patties on grill.  Close lid and prep the buns by brushing canola oil on insides.  After a few minutes, check the patties.  If the bottom half looks just about cooked, roughly 3 minutes, flip over, and place cheese on top.  Add red onions and buns (cut side down).  Close lid.  After another 3 or so minutes, remove everything from grill.  The cheese won’t be completely melted, because of the thickness, but it’s okay, that’s the point ;-)  The cheese will stay extra sharp if the inside isn’t melted.  On the red onions, you’re looking for good char marks on one side, but the onion still a bit crunchy.  For the buns, you’re looking to get the bottoms nice and charred, but not so much as to make the bread tough.

To assemble the burger:  Place a handful of arugula leaves on the bottom slice of the bun.  Place burger with cheese slice on top.  Add the grilled red onions.  Slather the aioli liberally on the top half of the bun.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Open-Face Egg Sandwich with Bacon, Asparagus, and Pesto

What could be a better start to Valentine’s Day than a delicious breakfast with some playful presentation?  This dish combines bacon, roasted asparagus, roasted green onions, bronzed sourdough, homemade pesto spread, and of course, a fried egg.  I love cutting this sandwich in half and letting the gooey fried egg run over the asparagus and bacon.  Topping each bite with bits of tomato cucumber salad adds a final fresh component to this irresistible flavor profile.

4 slices sourdough bread
8 slices bacon
4 eggs

Spinach and Basil Pesto:
1 bunch spinach leaves
.66 container basil leaves
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup pine nuts
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Roasted Asparagus and Scallions:
12 ounces asparagus, ends trimmed
4 scallions, ends trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Tomato Cucumber Salad:
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
½ English cucumber, chopped
1/3 cup chopped basil
drizzle of fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

To make the pesto:  Place spinach leaves, basil leaves, minced garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until a spreadable paste forms.  Set aside.

To roast the asparagus and scallions:  Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Place the asparagus spears and scallions in a 9x13 pan and drizzle with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Sprinkle salt and pepper.  Roast for about 20 minutes, or until they have browned.

To make the tomato and cucumber salad:  In a medium bowl, toss together the chopped tomato, the chopped cucumber, and the chopped basil.  Drizzle fresh lemon juice.  Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.

To make the bacon and bronzed toast: Fry up bacon slices on a griddle over medium heat.  Once both sides have crisped, remove from griddle and place on a paper towel.  Don’t drain the bacon grease, use this pan to toast the slices of bread. Place the slices of sourdough bread on the griddle and bronze each side.  Take off heat once both sides have browned

For the fried egg:  melt butter in skillet on medium heat.  To get the heart-shaped egg, we cracked the eggs into Norpro Nonstick Heart and Pancake Egg Rings, then continued to fry just until egg white is cooked, or sunny-side up, roughly 1 minute.  You could also fry the egg normally and cut the egg into a heart shape.

To assemble sandwiches: Place 2 slices of bacon on a slice of the bronzed sourdough toast.  Place a few roasted asparagus spears and scallion on top of the bacon.  Spread a thick layer of spinach basil pesto.  Finally, top with the heart-shaped fried egg.  Serve salad on side.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Whipped Cream Frosting

These cupcakes are all about the contrast – a rich chocolaty cake topped with a whipped cream frosting full of vanilla flavor.  Mmm, vanilla whipped cream…Ok, so I’m not going to lie.  I’m pretty sure the cupcake is being used purely as a vessel for the whipped cream topping.  It is just so vanilla-y and light, we can’t stop eating it. 

1 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
heaping ½ cup cocoa powder
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract

Easy Ganache
¼ cup coconut milk
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Whipped Cream Frosting
1 ½ cups whipping cream
3 teaspoons vanilla
3 tablespoons sugar

To make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350.  In a small bowl, mix coconut milk and apple cider vinegar together and set aside.  In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, instant coffee, cocoa powder, and sugars.  In a medium bowl, mix together coconut milk and vinegar mixture, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, and almond extract.  Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until combined.  Scoop batter into lined muffin tin and bake for about 20 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.  Once the muffins have cooled, make the easy ganache and dip the cupcake tops into it.  Once they have cooled again, make the whipped cream frosting and top the cupcakes. 

To make the easy ganache: Using a double boiler, or very carefully in a microwave, melt the chocolate chips with coconut milk.  Stir until smooth.

To make the whipped cream frosting: Using electric mixer, beat whipping cream, vanilla, and sugar until stiff peaks are formed.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Bite Size Fruit Skewers with Champagne Chocolate Drizzle

This treat is almost designed for Valentines Day.  It is a simple little recipe that takes strawberries and melted chocolate to a new level of fun, flavor, and presentation.  The dark chocolate has been melted with cream and mixed with a little champagne, and along with the classic strawberry, we’ve added grapefruit and mint leaves for a richness of flavor.  These bite size little skewers from heaven are decadent, fresh, healthy, and romantic, and they only take about 15 minutes to put together.

4 ounces semisweet or dark chocolate
1 tablespoon heavy cream
7 tablespoons champagne
pink grapefruit, supremed and cut into small chunks
strawberries, hulled and cut into quarters
sprigs of mint

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate with heavy cream.  Once melted, take off heat and add the champagne.  Stir to combine.

On each tooth pick, place a piece of strawberry, a piece of grapefruit, a mint leaf, then another piece of strawberry and another piece of grapefruit.

Drizzle the chocolate champagne mixture over the miniature skewers of fruit, or use as a dipping sauce.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Crunchy Lemon Dill Vegetable Dip

Super Bowl Recipe #5:  Vegetable dip may not be the sexiest of options on the table.  But it is the workhorse, a necessary counterpoint to the fun, heavy appetizers.  This dip is full of clean vegetal crunch with accents of dill and citrus.  

1 ½ cups sour cream
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons chopped dill
2 scallions, minced
1/3 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
2 carrots, minced
½ teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice

After the ingredients are prepared, just mix everything together in a bowl.  Refrigerate.  Serve with vegetables, crackers, or whatever else you want.
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