Thursday, February 26, 2015

Apple Crisp


Apple crisp is one of our favorite weeknight desserts. It's a lot less work than apple pie and (in my opinion) much more delicious. It's perfect with ice cream and is suitable for a party or just the two of us.

I like using a modified version of the Ina Garten recipe. A lot of folks criticize it for being too tart, but that's what I like best about it. I enjoy the hefty amount of lemon and orange zest and it makes it more refreshing than a too sweet apple crisp would be.

Ingredients (for 10 serving in one large dish. Cut in half to do about 4 individual ramekins)
  • 5 lbs semi tart cooking apples (granny smith will work, but I like Honeycrisp)
  • zest from one orange and one lemon
  • 2 Tbsp orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
For topping (I always make double the topping when doing individuals. I don't need all of it, but one recipe seems to be too little when doing individuals)
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar (or a little less)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 Tbsp) cold unsalted butter
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Peel, core and slice apples into wedges and toss with spices, citrus and sugar. Pour into baking dish or individual dishes.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix all ingredients for the topping until the mixture looks sandy and the chunks of butter are the size of small peas. Spoon over the top of the apples
  3. Bake apple crisp for one hour or until golden and bubbly. Top with ice cream when serving.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Sourdough Surprises: Sourdough Beignets

I never make fried food. It stinks up your kitchen and it's always a waste of a quart or two of oil. If I deep fry something at home, it has to be something good.
I haven't been very good about participating in Sourdough Surprises lately. It's a great blog where other bloggers make awesome, unexpected things out of sourdough. I haven't been great about it, but that's another thing I want to do this year.
I knew I had to participate this month when I saw they were making beignets. Who doesn't love beignets? There's nothing better than when they're hot out of the fryer, covered in powdered sugar and served with a cup of chicory coffee. I've never been to Café du Monde in New Orleans, but I can just imagine how perfect they would be.
These beignets are good, but I think I like regular beignets better. These were chewy and did not have the same light quality that regular beignets have. I'll post a regular beignet recipe soon enough.
I used the recipe from Turnips 2 Tangerines for these beignets. Next time I'd make sure to include a little bit more softened butter, as a regular recipe calls for. I think that would improve the texture. I also used refrigerated sourdough starter, not revived, so maybe that was part of my problem (though I normally do the same think for waffles and they turn out fine)
Sourdough Beignets
  • 1 tsp yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk (reduced by half) or 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups flour
  • oil for frying
  • powdered sugar for coating
  1. Bloom yeast in water with a pinch of the sugar for 10 minutes
  2. Mix yeast mixture, starter, salt, sugar, oil, egg, milk and 1 1/2 cups of flour together until smooth
  3. Add remaining flour a little at a time until mass pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl.
  4. Put dough in an oiled bowl covered in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator overnight to ferment
  5. The next morning, roll out dough to 1/4 inch thick and cut into rectangles.
  6. Heat a quart of vegetable oil in a wok or dutch oven until 350 degrees. Fry beignets, a few at a time until puffed and golden on all sides (about 2-3 minutes, total)
  7. Drain on paper towels and cover liberally with powdered sugar. Eat immediately.
Making beignets in the morning gives you the perfect excuse to make fried food at night time. I never make fried chicken because I hate to waste the oil, but if you have it anyway, you might as well use it all up.

This post has been submitted to Yeastspotting

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Pan Seared Cod with Butternut Squash Risotto

By now, you should all know how much I like risotto. It's my favorite way to eat rice and it really it's as complicated as everyone makes it out to be. Sure there's stirring involved, but it's not too much and it produces a beautiful product.

I like making butternut squash risotto in the winter. It's a great use of the seasonal produce and it pairs so well with pork, duck or any winter food. I paired it with fish and broccoli greens this time. It was pretty good, especially with a little sage browned butter.

I use mostly the neck part of the squash since it holds it's shape better. You can use the whole thing, but keep the neck in larger chunks and chop the bulb part small to mix into the risotto. I was also out of white wine when I made this recipe, so I used a brown ale beer instead. It adds a different flavor profile, but it works with the sweetness of the squash.

  • 1/2 butternut squash
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 small white onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup beer (like a brown ale or amber)
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • salt and pepper to taste.
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  1. Cut squash in half, scoop out the seeds and roast at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until tender. Dice the neck and bulb part of the squash and set aside
  2. Bring stock to a boil and reduce heat to simmer.
  3. In a separate saucepan, heat olive oil and sautee onion until translucent. Add rice and stir until each grain is well coated and semi-translucent.
  4. Add stock a little at a time, stirring after each addition. Wait until stock is almost completely absorbed before adding more.
  5. Cook about 20 minutes until rice is tender yet still slightly firm. Gently stir in squash and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Just before serving, quickly stir in a little reserved stock and the butter.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Oven Baked Sweet Potato Tots

It's time for Secret Recipe Club again!

You all know the drill by now. Every week, members of the SRC community make another member's recipe and post it on a given date. This week is the Group C reveal date and I'm here to showcase the recipes of Melissa's Cuisine.

Melissa lives in Western Michigan with her husband and adorable daughter. She's an office manager who blogs a lot in her spare time and has plenty of amazing recipes to share. There were so many things to choose from on her blog in every category. like her Crusty Asiago Bread to Homemade Pizza Rolls. Those all looked amazing (so did her Pickle Dip and Incredible Cinnamon Rolls).

I ended up having to run out of town for a funeral, so I wasn't able to make any of those. I ended up making her Sweet Potato Tots because it just had two ingredients and seemed simple enough to make on short notice.

I'm not too sure where I went wrong with this recipe, but it didn't turn out nearly as nicely as it  was in her blog. They tasted great, but they didn't seem to crisp up well (and they definitely took more than the 10-15 minutes listed in her blog). Mine were also not quarter sized, but tot sized, so perhaps that was part of my problem.  Melissa, please feel free to drop me a line in the comments and give me a few pointers!

We liked the flavor of these and would try them again. The nuttiness of the Parmesan cheese was not overpowering and they went perfectly with some Siracha Ketchup. Give it a try because I'm sure this recipe was great (just a matter of human error).

Sweet Potato Tots
  • 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • chives
  1. Boil sweet potatoes until they are almost cooked but not fully. Let potatoes cool and pulse in food processor until small chunks form (if they are too warm, you will get mashed potatoes. You can also hand chop them)
  2. Mix with salt, nutmeg, chives and parmesan cheese
  3. Form into small quarter sized balls and bake at 425 degrees until browned and crisped on all sides. Move them frequently while baking (amount of time required may vary).
  4. Eat immediately with sriracha or curry ketchup.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Flounder Meuniere

I go to the grocery store about three times per week.

I like the European style of going to the market multiple times per week to get fruits/vegetables/meats when they are fresh. That's one of the things I loved most about living in California. I lived close to markets where I could do my shopping every day.

Now I have to do my grocery shopping at regular grocery stores, but I try to make the best of it.  Sometimes I find great specials that I know I have to buy that day, even when I had originally planned to make something different for supper.

Whenever I find whole fish at the market, I always buy it. Last week, I found whole flounder and knew I had to make Flounder Meuniere (because that is how you should always prepare any whole flat fish). It's super easy, delicious and makes a beautiful tableside presentation that's impressive for most people. This is very traditional French, but it's not the complicated French cuisine people normally think about. This is easy, wonderful, French at its finest.

There was one problem with this fish: I bought it with the head and tail on and when I got home, I realized I didn't have any pans big enough to cook it. I was so sad that I had to cut the head and tail off, so make sure you own a very large (15 inch or larger) nonstick pan before you decide to do this. IF not, you're going to have to cut off the head and tail and it won't be as nice when you serve it.

Flounder Meuniere
  • 1 whole flounder, dover sole or flat fish (about 1 1/2 lbs)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Flour for dredging
  • Unsalted butter (about 4 Tbsp)
  • 1 lemon
  • splash of white wine
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 tsp capers
  1. Cut the fins off the fish with scissors and peel the skin. To peel it, you just want to cut a little at the tail and slowly rip the skin off towards the head. Use a knife if you need to, but you should be able to do without.
  2. Salt and pepper the fish well and dredge the entire thing in flour.
  3. Melt about 2 Tbsp butter in a nonstick skillet and fry the fish on both sides for about 6 minutes on each side until fish is cooked.
  4. Remove fish from the pan to cool. Sautee minced shallots in the butter in the pan. Deglaze with a little white wine and allow to reduce until completely evaporated. Remove from heat and add the juice of one lemon and a spoon full of capers.
  5. Stir in the remaining butter (more if necessary) slowly so it emulsifies to form a sauced. Serve with your fish, roasted potatoes and vegetables. Serve with a little extra lemon if desired.
Note: you can filet the fish tableside using two spoons. Just run one spoon along the spine of the fish to pull the meat away from the bones. There are plenty of videos on youtube to watch if you want to learn to filet Dover Sole tableside. Make sure you don't overcook the fish, otherwise it will fall apart (but undercook it and the bone won't come out)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Shakshouka (North African eggs in a spicy tomato broth)

I've never been to Morocco, but I want to go. I want to go to Fez and Marrakesh and Casablanca.
When I was growing up, my Dad's boss went to Morocco on vacation. They went near the end of Ramadan and they were talking with their taxi driver. The subject of religion came up at they told their driver they were Jewish. The taxi driver proceeds to tell them that Arabs and Jews are brothers and that they should go back to his family's house for their festivities on the last night of Ramadan. There were camel races in the dessert and food and mint tea.
My husband and I will make it there, eventually.
Until then, I settle for making foods of those regions. I've developed a recent love for Moroccan food and Harissa (though I have always loved anything spicy). We love this dish in particular because it is extremely flavorful while still being back-of-the-throat spicy (not tip-of-the-tongue spicy). It feels hearty and is a for a weekend breakfast or a weeknight Breakfast for Dinner.
I adapted this recipe from the David Lebovitz recipe for shakshouka. Give it a try the next time you have extra eggs and don't know what to make for dinner.
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 chili pepper (depending on your spice preference. I used one serrano but you could go for jalapeno or habanero depending)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt (to taste)
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes, with juice (or about 2 lbs fresh, overripe tomatoes)
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp red vinegar
  • 2 tsp honey (to taste)
  • 1-2 cups loosely packed kale, coarsely chopped
  • 4 to 6 eggs, depending on number of people
  • cheese for garnishing (I use queso fresco because that's what I had, but feta or haloumi would also be good)
  1. Sautee garlic, onion in a little olive oil until translucent. Add chili pepper and spices and cook for a minute until fragrant.
  2. Add tomato paste and sautee for another minute, making sure to coat all the onion in the tomato paste.
  3. Add canned tomatoes, vinegar and honey. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes until mixture is reduced somewhat. Stir in greens
  4. Make small wells in the tomato and crack and egg into each one. Draw a knife through the whites a little so they spread, but don't break the yolk.
  5. Simmer 10 minutes, basting the egg whites with the sauce from time to time  (if you don't, the whites won't be fully set when the egg is still runny). If you like your yolks cooked more, cover the pan and cook 3-5 minutes until eggs are done to your liking.
  6. Garnish with cheese and cilantro and serve immediately with crusty bread.


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