Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Short Vacation

Well, I'll not be around for a few days. I'm traveling to Norfolk, Virginia and spending a few days with my son Tyler who is stationed there. Tyler is assigned to CVN69, the USS Eisenhower aircraft carrier and will be deployed (2nd time) in February.

They have a family day on the aircraft carrier so I'll be going out to sea with him for a day, watch an airshow, tour the ship, eat in the galley, etc.

I can't wait. See ya when I get back.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Spinach Souffle


I love spinach souffle as a sidedish to almost any meal. This is modeled after Stouffer's frozen spinach souffle but my own array of ingredients. I hope you like it as much as I do.

Ingredients:

1 package frozen chopped spinach
3 eggs (separated)
1/2 sweet onion (Vidalia or Walla Walla Sweet if available)
1 cup heavy cream (substitute milk if you'd like, but it's awfully good with cream)
2 tbl flour
3 tbl butter
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Defrost spinach and press out the liquid through a strainer

Add butter to pan on medium heat and saute onion until translucent and soft. (Finely diced or even through a food processor)

Meanwhile beat the three eggs reserving the whites

Combine the flour and milk and mix well. Add to eggs along with nutmeg, salt and pepper and mix well.

Run the drained spinach through the food processor and add to the milk mixture along with the sauteed onion and the parmesan cheese. Stir well.

(A note on the cheese, I switch from time to time from parmesan to gruyere or even cheddar/mozzarella mix. Find the one you like most....)

Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form and add cream of tartar and beat two minutes more.

Fold egg whites into the spinach mixture until all the white meringue disappears.

Pour into 8 x 8 buttered or greased casserole dish or baking dish of similar size.




Bake for one hour or until nicely browned all over.



Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Street Skillet

Admittedly, this post is local in that it's about a "place" to eat in my town, but you might find it interesting.

I live in Seattle, and came across an article online regarding a Travel Stream trailer that roams around Seattle selling gourmet food. Hard to believe I thought. I chatted about it one day with Peabody of Culinary Concoctions and she confirmed she thought it was good. (Check out Peabody's site by the way, it's really one of the best out there)

Then I found out that on Tuesdays it is situated about three blocks from I work in lower Seattle. So naturally I had to visit. Check it out..... Their link.

The food from this Airstream is just excellent. We had Kobe burgers with bacon jam and hand cut fries and chocolate pudding for dessert.


Note the menu written on the side of the trailer. They change the menu every week.



My hand cut fries:


Chocolate pudding with fresh raspberries and cookie crumbles:

If you live in or around Seattle, you gotta try it.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Pork Tenderloin with Lime/Cream Sauce




Absolutely delicious pork dish with the perfect complementing sauce. The sauce is a three stage reduction that concentrates the flavors....I'm always asked for the recipe. Adapted from it's source: La Grillade Restaurant, Chiang Inn, Chiang Mai, Thailand

1½ hours | 1 hour prep

SERVES 4

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 lbs pork tenderloins
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onions
  • 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add pork and brown on all sides, turning frequently. Transfer pork to oven proof dish or skillet immediately place in oven and roast pork until cooked through, about 35 to 45 minutes.(If yours is a particularly thick Tenderloin, you make need to bake a little bit longer) Meanwhile, melt butter in same skillet over medium heat. Add onion and shallot and sauté 3 minutes, while scraping the bits left from the browning process. Add wine and boil until liquid is reduced by half, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add both stocks and boil until liquid is reduced to 6 tablespoons, stirring frequently, about 13 minutes. Add whipping cream and boil until sauce is reduced to 1 cup, stirring frequently, about 7 minutes. Mix in fresh lime juice. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. 3
  3. Cut pork diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Spoon sauce onto plates. Fan pork atop sauce and serve. OR, fan pork on plate and spoon sauce over.


Creme Brulee


I think Creme Brulee is my favorite dessert. I don't make it as often as I would like because the best Brulee uses real vanilla beans and in case you haven't noticed, those are EXPENSIVE!

I recently posted though about a site I found where high quality vanilla beans can be purchased at very reasonable prices.

Therefore I'm going nuts with vanilla recipes now and the first one is Creme Brulee....


Ingredients:

6 egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup vanilla sugar
1 tsp salt
2 vanilla beans
2 tbl additional vanilla sugar

In a bowl beat the six eggs and the sugar.

In a saucepan pour in the heavy cream. Split the vanilla beans down the middle and use the back of the knife to scrape out the seeds into the cream. Add the husks to the cream, and heat on medium just until it comes to a boil and immediately turn off the heat. Let it steep for up to half an hour.

Discard the vanilla bean husks and slowly add the cream/vanilla mixture to the eggs while beating the eggs. Go slow so as to not scramble the eggs. (Letting the cream sit for a half an hour aids in this process as well as allowing additional vanilla essence to be drawn into the mixture)

Add the salt and mix. At this juncture you may strain the creme brulee if you want, but I've never found that necessary.

Place ramekins or pyrex dishes in a roasting pan or casserole dish and pour the creme brulee into them. Add hot tap water to the pan or dish until it is equal to the level of the brulee.

Bake at 350 degrees until set and just starting to brown, 30 - 45 minutes depending on your oven.

Chill creme brulees for at least one hour.

Now the potentially tricky part......melt the sugar topping over the brulee. Now for years I did it using the broiler in the oven, and my only advice is, watch it constantly because once the sugar becomes molten it will brown and caramelize in like 10 seconds...... Nothing worse than BURNING a batch of freshly made Creme Brulee. And I've done it. More than once. Grrrr.

There are also butane torches you can buy to burn the sugar topping. I (ahem) of course, have one.



Sprinkle the top of each Brulee with a teaspoon of granulated sugar. For a special touch you can use vanilla sugar. Just store one or two vanilla beans in your sugar canister. Great for cooking, your coffee, etc.

Shake the ramekin around to as evenly distribute the sugar as evenly as you can.

Now brown the sugar under the broiler or with a torch to as brown as you would like it. Let chill for 10 minutes and serve.

You can store the Brulee's covered in the refrigerator, but the sugar will soften.

They are at their best when freshly burnt as the sugar is like a thin crunchy pane with wonderful egg custard below.

Enjoy!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Waffles


This recipe is basically my buttermilk pancake recipe with a couple of slight variations. My experience is that these are the lightest waffles I've ever tasted.

2 eggs
1/2 c milk
1 1/2 c buttermilk
2 tbsp butter, melted
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 2/3 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 vanilla bean
1 tbl sugar

In a large bowl whisk eggs, butter, and milks. (ALWAYS add the melted butter, along with the sugar it makes them beautifully browned.) Carefully slice vanilla bean down the center and scrape seeds with the back of the knife into the liquid mixture. Toss vanilla bean
into mixture and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove vanilla bean and add the baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar and mix thoroughly. Then add the flour and stir. No need to overmix. I prefer a thinner batter, so add a touch of buttermilk if too thick.

Heat waffle iron accordingly and add batter and close lid. Let cook until steam starts to decrease.



Serve with butter, syrup, or fruit or honey or whatever you like.



Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Raspberry Shortcake


So, the other day I made and blogged a Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Raspberry Sauce.

I had some leftover Raspberry Sauce and wondered what to do with it. Didn't take me long to figure out. I had made some of my Buttermilk Biscuits for breakfast (recipe to be posted in a week or so) so I took two of them, heated them up, split them, poured the fresh raspberry sauce over and a touch of whipped cream. Heaven.

Vanilla Beans



I love to bake and cook with real vanilla and real vanilla beans. But are you like me and find these almost prohibitively expensive? I was going to make Creme Brulee and went to Safeway and one measly Vanilla Bean cost $12.95!!!!!!

Well, guess what. I solved the problem. UPS today delivered a package from a place I found on the Internet. I wanted to see it and check it first before I blogged it, but sure enough it's the real deal.

ONE POUND of fresh Tahitian Vanilla Beans for.................. (drumroll) $19.95! That's over ONE HUNDRED beans!

This place also sells Saffron although I haven't tried it yet.

You can order quantities less than a pound down to 2 oz. I believe as well as vanilla extract, vanilla powder, vanilla sugar, etc.

One bit of caution, when I went to the site and used the pull-down menu my McAfee anti virus warned me that it had blocked a Trojan. I immediately emailed the company and received a reply within 5 minutes, which I thought was impressive, and they told me they have their site scanned every day and that it was probably a false positive. I agree with them and when I ordered just didn't use the pull down menu.

For Vanilla Beans just click here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Beijing Olympics



I know, I know, I know, this is a food/recipe blog....... but I gotta tell ya, I love the Olympics.....

and Michael Phelps is a stud. I've never seen a more gracious, determined, likable, (well, Tiger does come to mind) and amazing individual athlete than Mr. Phelps.....

Do you realize, whether or not he wins 8 gold medals, when all is said and done, counting preliminaries and semifinals, he will have swum (is swum a word? lol ) 30 MILES during the
Olympics..... THIRTY MILES......!

I'm out.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Buttermilk Pancakes


So over the years, I've adapted pancake recipes from many sources. I remember pancakes being one of the first things my Mom let me make myself for breakfast when I was kid. (Actually, I think the FIRST thing I made for breakfast was when I plugged in the electric skillet, at FOUR years old mind you, and filled it half full of oil, and peeled four bananas and was happily frying them when my horrified Mother got up and ruined my fun)

Anyhow, I've tried with milk, buttermilk, water, with eggs, without eggs, with cottage cheese, with cinnamon, various measurements of leavening agents and whatever. Below, is my favorite Buttermilk Pancake Recipe. Credit goes to a number of folks on Recipezaar and Epicurious over the years.

2 eggs
1/2 c milk
1 1/2 c buttermilk
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 2/3 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbl vanilla extract
1 tbl sugar

In a large bowl whisk eggs, butter, vanilla and milks. (ALWAYS add the melted butter, along with the sugar it makes them beautifully browned.) Add the baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar and mix thoroughly. Then add the flour and stir. No need to overmix. I prefer a thinner batter, so add a touch of buttermilk if too thick.

Heat a griddle or iron skillet to medium heat and lightly oil or grease with a little butter. Let it heat thoroughly. You might try throwing a few drops of water onto it. If they immediately skip, hiss, and evaporate, it's the right temperature. Pour batter into the pan to the circumference you desire for each pancake.

Let cook on one side until bubbles appear on the side facing you and turn over. Cook for 30 seconds, and transfer to plate. Heat plate and store in the oven at 250 degrees to keep them warm as you continue baking.

Serve with butter, syrup, or fruit or honey or whatever you like.

Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Buttermilk Panna Cotta w/Raspberry Sauce



This is Buttermilk Panna Cotta coupled with a homemade Raspberry sauce. The tangy solidified custard goes so well with the liquid raspberry swirled throughout.



Panna Cotta:

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 packet powdered gelatin

1 1/2 cups sweet buttermilk


Raspberry Sauce:

6 oz. fresh raspberries

1/4 cup of water

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup of raspberry jam (I prefer seedless to cut down on the seed quantity)

1 tablespoon of orange liqueur


Begin by making the sauce first.

Combine the water, sugar and raspberries in a saucepan and bring to a boil while
stirring to dissolve all the sugar.

Pour the raspberry mixture into a food processor or blender and add the jam and
liqueur and mix well. Set aside to cool.

For the Panna Cotta, combine sugar, vanilla, and heavy cream in a saucepan over
medium heat and bring to a boil, immediately then turning off the heat.

Allow the gelatin to soften in 1/4 cup water and then add to the heavy cream mixture
and stir well. Add the buttermilk and stir well.

Take 6 to 8 ramekins and pour two tablespoons of the raspberry sauce into
the bottom of each.

Slowly pour the panna cotta on top of the sauce in each ramekin and allow to cool
on the counter for 30 minutes until it just begins to get firm. Then with a spoon,
sprinkle drops of the raspberry sauce on top of each ramekin. Then using a fork,
swirl the sauce around and through the panna cotta including that on the bottom
of the ramekin.

Cool for 4 hours in the refrigerator until firm.

Enjoy!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sausage, Tomato and Cheese Strata





One of my favorite Italian style dishes. Much lighter than lasagna and a snap to make.

Ingredients:

16 oz. can of Italian syle diced tomatoes with juice
1 small can tomato paste
12 oz. Sweet Italian Sausage, casings removed
1 medium sweet onion
3 cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons Italian seasonings (Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary, Sage)
3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 loaf Italian bread or 1 loaf regular bread
6 eggs
2 cups milk
3 cups of Mozzarella cheese. (I use a Mozzarella/Provolone mix)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese


Preparation

Butter 2 quart casserole or 13 x 9 Glass dish

In a bowl beat eggs and milk, then break up bed into pieces and add to egg/milk mixture. Do not mash down bread as you do not want to make it mushy. Just allow milk and egg to soak in.

Add 2 Tablespoons olive oil to pan over medium heat. Mince garlic and add to oil.

Mince onion and add to oil and saute both until soft.

Uh Oh! Kitchen Hint: I don't know how you dice onions but someone once showed me this way and I've done it ever since. I slice off one end of the onion leaving the root end. Peel the skin off the onion and cut almost through the onion in one direction:

Then turn the onion and cut almost all the way through in the opposite direction:

Then just cut thinly down the end of the onion and you're done!

Break up sausage and add to sauteed onions and garlic. Sprinkle seasonings over at this time also. Continue to saute while breaking up sausage into smaller pieces until no pink is showing. Then add tomatoes and tomato paste and brown sugar. Cook on low heat for about 20 minutes until slightly reduced. Salt and pepper to taste.

Carefully make one layer of bread/milk/egg mixture across the bottom of baking dish. Add a layer of tomato sausage mixture and then a layer of cheese. Continue to layer in this order until you have three layers ending with the sauce on top. RESERVE the last of the cheese. If there is liquid remaining in the bowl after all bread is removed just pour it over the top of the strata.

Cover with Aluminum Foil or Plastic and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Uncover and bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes until golden brown and puffed up. Sprinkle with one third of the Mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese and bake for 15 more minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes and serve.


Enjoy!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Pickled Cucumbers


Here's my take on Pickled Cucumbers, sometimes called Sweet and Sour..... I just love this little side in the summertime. I always seem to forget to make it, but not this year, here ya go. They will keep about 5 days in the refrigerator and get better every day.

Now, I'll be the first to admit this sounds like a strange mix of ingredients, but
believe me, it's a great marinade for the cukes!

One cucumber
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup less 1 1/2 teaspoons Cider Vinegar ( Just kidding, half cup is fine, I'm just seeing if you're paying attention)
3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
3 allspice berries (Whole Allspice)
1 Bay Leaf
1 Tsp. Pepper
1 Tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice (told ya it was weird) If ya don't have Pumpkin pie spice just add a pinch of Ginger, Nutmeg, and Cinnamon

Peel the cuke and slice thinly, lay out on board and sprinkle with the salt. Let sit for 15 minutes. (This will salt the cukes, but also draw out some moisture)

Meanwhile in a shallow bowl combine the balance of ingredients and mix until sugar dissolves. You want as small a container as possible that will still fit the cukes in as you want the marinade to almost cover them. I shake them all up inside the bowl occasionally.

Add salted cukes to the marinade, cover, and shake to mix well. Refrigerate overnight and serve. (Frankly, I go eat some two hours after I make them, you
should also)

They will continue to absorb the marinade over the next few days.

Enjoy!

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