Saturday, May 23, 2015

Kiwi Sorbet

 
This kiwi sorbet is one of the most beautiful dessert. The color is so pretty and the seed spots are so much fun. It tastes like summer (my husband says it's too sweet and to a certain extent I agree, but a little scoop as dessert is great).
 
Like all of my sorbet recipes, this is super easy and follows my basic recipe. Equal parts simple syrup and fruit puree with lemon/lime juice and salt to even it out. Unlike my other sorbet recipes, you don't strain this one (otherwise you'll take out all those amazing seeds.) Don't puree the fruit too much either (like in a Vitamix)  because it will become bitter if you break up the seeds.
 
 
Kiwi Sorbet
Ingredients
  • fresh kiwis, skin removed
  • simple syrup, 1:1 ratio
  • salt
  • lemon juice
Directions

  1. Cook sugar and water to create your 1:1 ratio simple syrup and let cool
  2. Puree your kiwi and measure out equal parts of fruit puree and simple syrup. mix together.
  3. Add salt and acid to even out the flavor of the sorbet. Let cool completely in the refrigerator.
  4. Churn according to ice cream maker directions.



Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Paella Valencia

 
My mother-in-law gave me a paella pan for Christmas several years ago and I use it about once a year. I love paella and it's really not that difficult to make. It's great if you're having several people over for dinner, but it's impossible to make less (paella recipes are designed for a particular size pan and really can't be scaled down). It just gets difficult to make for 2 people (but we do it sometimes and just really enjoy the leftovers for a couple days.
 
 
I got this recipe from The New Spanish Table cookbook. It's a fantastic cookbook with plenty of great recipes, yet I seem to only ever make one thing from it: the very traditional Valencia style Paella.  I real paella is cooked over an open fire so it shouldn't be seafood, but a mix of land animals and vegetables. This one brings all of those things together beautifully (this one also has shrimp, simply because I felt like it, but the recipe given here will be without shrimp). I've never  changed up this recipe because it's just so good as it is. Give it a try sometime if you just happen to have a 15 inch paella pan lying around your house.
 
 
Classic Valencian Paella
Ingredients:
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into chunks
  • 1 lb rabbit (or pork, or extra chicken if you can't find rabbit)
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 tsp Spanish smoked paprika
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 large pinch of saffron
  • 1 cup haricot vertes or Italian flat beans, cut into 1 1/2 inch lengths
  • 1 cup frozen lima beans or fava beans, thawed
  • 9 oz canned or frozen artichoke hearts, patted dry
  • 2 large overripe tomatoes, grated on a box grater (skins discarded)
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary or snails (not sure why they have similar flavor)
  • 1 roasted bell pepper (for garnish)
  • pinch of cayenne
Directions
  1. Rub chicken and rabbit all over with salt, pepper, half the garlic and 1/2 tsp paprika. Let stand for 20 minutes
  2. Place chicken stock with saffron in a saucepan and bring to simmer. turn to low until ready to use.
  3. Heat 4 Tbsp olive oil in the palla pan set over a single burner over medium heat. Add the meat and brown 6-7 minutes. Add the green beans, butter beans, artichokes and stir until veggies begin to brown (2-8 minutes). Push everything to the edges of the pan.
  4. Add 1 Tbsp oil to the center. with remaining garlic until fragrant. Add tomatoes and cook until thickened and reduced (5 minutes). Mix everything together, add additional paprika and cayenne.
  5. Preheat oven to 425 degres
  6. Add rice to the paella pan and stir to coat. Pour 4 cups of stock and set pan over two burners. Place rosemary on top (or stir in snails) and shake to distribute rice evenly. Cook over medium until liquid is almost level with the rice, but still soupy, turning the pan as it cooks (about 7 minutes).
  7. Transfer pan to the oven and bake until rice is al dente but tender (15 minutes). Sprinkle more stock if necessary while cooking.
  8. Remove paella from oven and cover with foil for 10 minutes. Uncover and let stand another 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with roasted peppers and eat as an amazing main course.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Secret Recipe Club - Jalapeno Beer Cheese Bread

 
It's the third Monday of the month folks. That means it's Secret Recipe day for Group C again. Time sure flies. I'm sure you all know what this is about by now, but if you don't, I'll give you a quick rundown.
 
Secret Recipe Club is an awesome group of bloggers. Each member makes another member's recipe and everyone reveals their recipe choices on a pre-determined day. It lets you discover some new, fantastic people and it reminds you of some of your great, older recipe you haven't made in a long time. Sometimes it's a blast from the past to see recipes from 3 years ago and see just how much your photography and plating skills have improved during that time.
 
This month, I got to explore Our Eating Habits. Blogger Jamie loves to cook and eat (as we all do). Her blog is full of a great collection of recipes and restaurant reviews from all over Canada and the more touristy parts of the USA. It was a pleasure to browse her EXTENSIVE selection of recipes (so many to choose from) and pick one out for this month. We were debating between her Crispy Potato Skins (because who doesn't love potato skins?) and her Chicken Korma but her Beer Cheese Bread won out in the end. We had all the ingredients in the house and wanted something different that you could make instead of cornbread with our dinner (in that case, it was St. Louis style ribs and collard greens). This was a great bread for dinner and would go wonderfully with chili or a hearty soup as well. We'll make this in the future, especially since we always have beer and cheese in the house.
 
I made a few tweaks to this recipe to fit our personal tastes, but not many. We used a white/wheat blend of flours for flavor/texture and mixed up the herbs a bit with basil, dill and oregano. We used a sharp cheddar cheese and the New Belgium Ranger IPA for our beer.
 
For anyone wanting to make this recipe in the future, I cannot stress the importance of your beer enough. You wouldn't use cheap butter when making croissants (the flavor is all butter). Why would you ever use cheap beer when making a bread where that is the main flavor? If you use Bud or Miller Light for this bread (and don't get my wrong, I am a huge Miller fan as far as shitty beer goes) it will taste like nothing. Use a beer with no taste and your bread will have no taste. I highly recommend a strong Pale Ale at minimum and a strong IPA if you will drink it in your household. We just happened to have the Ranger IPA in the fridge, but I would highly recommend the Dogfish 60 minute, Bear Republic Racer 5 or Lagunitas Li'l Summpin. If you're not a strong beers fan, use a Sam Adams at the very least. (For Jamie, with your Canada location, you should really try it with a beautiful dark local beer like Unibroue Maudite).
 
As much as I like Porters and Stouts, I would not recommend those for this bread. The flavor will be too strong and too sweet for the herbs and cheese. The hoppy nature of an IPA is perfect with all of those things (and if you want a great stout bread, check out my Flax Seed Porter recipe).
 
Sorry for the rant, but my husband and I are super passionate about beer. It's a big thing in our household. Thank you Jaimie for this great recipe!

 
Beer Cheese Bread
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 jalapeno,seeds removed and diced
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 12oz bottle of good beer at room temperature.
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit Mix together all dry ingredients and the jalapeno in a bowl
  2. Add beer and stir until combined. Quickly fold in cheese.
  3. Pour batter into a prepared loaf pan and bake for 40 minutes. Let cool completely before slicing.


 
 


Monday, May 11, 2015

Rocky Road Brownies



This weekend, my husband and I took a little stay-cation in the middle of nowhere. We went hiking in the forest, drank whiskey, ate bbq and explored the beautiful, little things around us. We got some great fudge at a little candy shop and we slept like the dead after we came home. One of the things we got on the trip was this great walnut fudge that melted in your mouth and tasted like childhood.

I never liked rocky road ice cream when I was growing up (then again, I really don't like chocolate ice cream in general) but I love the combination of chewy marshmallows, chocolate and nuts. This brownie is one beautiful treat, especially when it's just undercooked enough (as brownies should always be). Try it out at your next party. They are very crumbly and sticky. They might not stay together well if you try to cut them while warm, but they are the perfect fudgy brownie.

Ingredients
  • 8 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 4 oz dark chocolate
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks
  • handful of marshmallows
  • pinch of salt
Directions
  1. Melt butter, chocolate and cocoa powder in a double boiler until smooth
  2. Whisk in sugar, eggs and flour and salt until smooth and shiny
  3. Fold in nuts, chocolate chunks and some marshmallows.
  4. Pour batter into a prepared 8x8 pan and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.
  5. In the last 10 minutes of cooking, top the brownies with extra marshmallows.
  6. Let cool completely before slicing.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Korean Style Fried Chicken with Gochijang Sauce

 
What is your favorite drunk/morning after food?
 
For the morning after, it's always eggs and some sort of green vegetable with cheese. The night before can be a little different and ranges from pizza to chicken to anything else that's greasy, crispy, spicy and delicious.
 
Yesterday our group of friends went to the Virginia Gold Cup. Everyone dresses in their Kentucky Derby best and watches a steeplechase style horse race in the middle of nowhere. There's plenty of food, more than plenty of booze, lawn games and great friends. It was my first year doing it, but it was a fantastic time. I got to wear my magenta taffeta dress that I love (and Steve hates) and I got to force him to purchase white linen trousers (which are now his favorite plants).
 
In the evening when we got back home, our group had to decide whether we wanted to go to a 24 hour diner near our house, or whether we wanted to go to Bonchon. I'd just made this friend chicken recipe a few weeks before so I vetoed Bonchon in favor of omelets, pie, milk shakes and home fried potatoes.
 
If you don't know what Bonchon is, it's a Korean fried chicken chain restaurant. What is Korean fried chicken and what differentiates it from KFC? Korean fried chicken has a batter coating, not a breading coating like normal Southern fried chicken. It is super crispy, even when covered in sauce. It has just the right amount of salt and it is perfect when topped with a spicy/sweet sauce made with fermented chili paste. You really need to try this chicken the next time you feel like wings at home.
 
Try to make this with smaller, bone in pieces for even cooking, a better crust/meat ratio and more moisture. I like using legs, wings, thighs or Cornish game hen quarters. This recipe is an exact duplicate of the Serious Eats recipe for Korean Fried Chicken. Seriously, you don't need to change a damn things about this.

Ingredients
  • 4 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 3/4 cup corn starch, divided
  • 1 tsp baking powder, divided
  • 2 lbs chicken pieces
  • 1/2 cup ap flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 2 quarts oil for trying (I do a little less, whatever works well for your wok)
Ingredients for Sweet and Spicy Gochujang sauce
  • 1/4 cup gochujang
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 2 tsp seseame oil
Directions for sauce
  1. Combine all ingredients for sauce and adjust seasoning to fit personal tastes. Add a little water if necessary to achieve correct consistency.

Directions for chicken
  • mix 2 tsp salt, 1/4 cup corn starch and 1/2 tsp baking powder in a bowl. Toss chicken with the mixture and place on a rack in the refrigerator uncovered overnight for the skin to begin to dry.
  • The next day, heat oil to 350 in a wok or a dutch oven.
  • Combine half cup corn starch, 1/2 tsp baking powder, flour, water, vodka, and the other 2 tsp kosher salt in a bowl and mix. Add more water as necessary to achieve a the texture of thin paint. Add the chicken to the batter at a couple pieces at a time, shake to remove large pockets of excess batter and place gently in the oil for 8 minutes or until cooked all the way through and evenly browned.
  • Drain on paper towel while frying the remaining wings. Toss immediately with sauce (or serve on the side if desired) and eat.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Pozole Rojo

 
Pozole is a beautiful thing.
 
It's porky (or can be made with chicken if you want) and so warming, hearty, spice and delicious. When I make one batch, my husband and I have dinner for 3 nights. Best of all, this is also a dirt cheap dinner when serving a family. Pork costs less than $3 per pound and the hominy is $2 for one can. All of the other garnishes are a negligible fee (except avocados, which are freakishly expensive).
 
Pozole is also shockingly easy. It has very few ingredients and only takes a couple hours to come together into a perfect pot of goodness.
 
Even though soup is one of those things that sounds better in the winter, I love eating soup in the summer. The spice of this soup in particular seems to cool you down. Really, make this soup the next time you want an easy, delicious, spicy dinner.
 
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs pork shoulder (more of the meaty pieces than the fatty pieces)
  • 1 gallon chicken stock (or water and chicken bouillon)
  • 12 guallijo chilis
  • 5 arbol chilis
  • 1 large (32 oz) can hominy, drained.
  • 6 bay leaves
  • black pepper corns
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 onion
  • cumin
  • oregano
  • radishes, lime, cabbage, tortilla strips, cilantro and avocado for garnish
Directions
  1. Cut pork into bite sized pieces and season with salt, pepper, oregano and cumin. Brown pork on all sides in a large pot.
  2. Fill pot with chicken stock and season with whole black peppercorns and bay leaves. Cook until pork is tender.
  3. Remove seeds from guallio and arbol chilis as best as possible. Soak chilis in a bowl of hot water until soft. Then add the drained hominy.
  4. Move chilis, one onion and garlic to a blender and blend until smooth. Add some of the soaking water if necessary to get it smooth enough to pass through the blender easily. This will be what gives you soup the smoky/spicy flavor
  5. Move the chili mixture to a sautee pan and cook for a couple minutes in order to sautee the onion and garlic. Add it to taste to the soup until it's at the adequate color and spice level. You won't need all of this.
  6. Adjust seasoning of soup to taste. Ladle into bowls and garnish with cilantro, radishes, cabbage, lime, tortilla strips and avocado. Eat immediately with gusto


 


Monday, April 20, 2015

Secret Recipe Club - French Onion Soup Stuffed Mushrooms


It's Secret Recipe Club time of month again! It feel like it's been so long since the last update even though I know it's been less than a month. So much has happened in that time. I got a new job (which I love), my husband and I have been planning our trip back to California for his sister's wedding and we've been dining outside (or going to happy hour on the patio of our favorite bar) almost every day.

I can't believe how busy we've been, but I'm still so happy I've continued to make time for this blog and participation in Secret Recipe Club. I find that I update less (now that I have a job where I have to be on the computer all day) but I still come back to this blog for Secret Recipe Club. I now also get a greater enjoyment from my cooking now that I don't do that for a living anymore. I assure you, all of these changes have been for the best. I'm so happy with the direction my life (personal and professional) is taking.

This week, I was assigned The Savvy Kitchen and got to explore her wonderful recipes. The author, Amy, is a wife/mother living in Northern Virginia (me too!) She makes so many recipes, but mostly specializes in gluten free, low calorie foods. She is the mother of an adorable baby boy (almost two years old) who also enjoys running, reading, spending time with family and friends (all things I enjoy as well). She updates quite frequently, so make sure to check out her amazing looking recipes.

 I searched through the recipes a little but I didn't have to search very long. As soon as I saw these French Onion Soup Stuffed Mushrooms, I knew my search was over. My husband and I both love French Onion Soup and I was looking for appetizers to bring to a friend's house. These were a hit in our house for the flavor, the ease and preparation and the price (normally I make stuffed mushrooms with crab, which tastes wonderful but is a problem for the pocketbook). We didn't even want to bring them to our friend's house after we made them... we wanted to eat all of them in one sitting.

I changed up a couple things in her recipe to make it a little closer to how I make French onion soup, but I didn't change much. I highly recommend this recipe and all the other things on The Savvy Kitchen. Check it out ASAP.

Thanks for the great inspiration Amy!

French Onion Soup Stuffed Mushrooms
Ingredients
  • 24 crimini or white button mushrooms
  • 2 large yellow onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • splash of brandy
  • pinch of thyme/caraway seed
  • 1/4 cup beef stock
  • 8 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • cheese (I use combo swiss and parmesan, but gruyere is great as well)
  • parsley for garnish
Directions
  1. Wipe the dirt from the mushrooms (do not wash) and remove stems. Chop the stems fine and set aside.
  2. Sautee onions and garlic with the melted butter for about half an hour until very soft and sweet. At the start, season the onions with salt, pepper, thyme and caraway (caraway is really strong, so not too much)
  3. After onions are tender, add brandy, Worcestershire sauce and beef stock. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until reduced and remove from the pan.
  4. Sautee the mushroom stems for 10 minutes until most of the moisture has evaporated. Mix with the onions and adjust seasoning as necessary.
  5. Take the mushroom caps and place them in the same skillet, cap side down. Cook for a couple minutes before flipping them and cover the pan for a couple minutes (this will steam them and make them tender)
  6. Remove the mushrooms to a small baking dish. Blot the insides with a paper towel to remove excess moisture and fill with the onion mix. Top with cheese and bake at 350 for 10 minutes.
  7. Move mushrooms to broiler to brown the top. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve immediately.