Sunday, July 25, 2010

Cherry Clafoutis

Cherry Season here in Washington!  Time for cherry desserts. Cherry pie, cherry cobbler, and the old reliable French favorite Cherry Clafoutis. (pronounced Cla-foo-tee) This dish is essentially whole cherries baked in a custard base. It's light, refreshing, delicious, and visually very appealing. One thing I found, is that this dish is best served freshly warm from the oven. You can refrigerate leftovers of course, but they are just not as good the next day. Give it a try.

Ingredients and Method:
4 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup heavy cream
1 pound fresh cherries, pitted or not (The French leave the pits in because they feel it imparts flavor to the
                                                       finished baked product).
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Kirsch or brandy (optional)
Confectioners sugar for finish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 inch pie pan or a 9x9 square baking pan

In a mixing bowl combine the egg yolks and sugar and beat until smooth and well combined. Add salt, vanilla extract and cream and mix thoroughly. Beat in the flour. Whisk the egg whites for two minutes and fold into the mixture. Mix in lemon juice and kirsch.

Pour into prepared pan and drop cherries one by one into the batter. Bake for 35 minutes until set in the middle and browned on top. Remove, cool for 15 minutes, dust with confectioners sugar and serve.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Beringer Great Steak Challenge

Yesterday I competed as a Regional Finalist is the Beringer Great Steak Challenge and came in third place.

What a wonderful event. I've not had such a good time cooking in my life. The folks at Beringer are top notch, professional and treated the 10 of as as if we were royalty. Which I guess we were for a couple of hours or so. And the other contestants were so enjoyable with everyone pulling for one another. Very nice.
We started with a welcome reception at the Capital Grille in Seattle on Friday night. We were each given gift bags which included a beautiful boxed stainless steel carving set. We were housed at the W Hotel a few blocks away.

The following morning, we went by shuttle to the Bite of Seattle to a large tented area for the Beringer event. Wine aplenty, a crowd of hundreds milling about, and 5 beautiful new Gas Barbeque's arranged in a semi-circle.

Everything we needed was supplied to us in individual containers at the beginning of the 30 minute competition, for which there were two groups of five each. Music blaring in the background, a professional emcee roaming, questioning, and filming of our cooking efforts every step of the way.

Four judges, two of whom were Paula Deen's son's, Jamie and Bobby.
And away we went.

Thank you Beringer for such a quality event. I'm definitely entering again next year. And this time, I'm gonna win it.

And, best of all, my youngest son, Nate, came up to attend, cheer me on, and take photographs!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Char Siu Country Style Ribs

One of the things I really enjoy is Asian style marinades. I've blogged 5 Spice Soy Baked Chicken Wings
and Char Siu Pork Tenderloin and Chinese 5 Spice Game Hen and even Maui Ribs. All have similar, but slightly different combinations of ingredients.

For the 4th of July, I wanted to make Country Style Pork Ribs and I wanted them Char Siu style and I finally hit upon a combination of ingredients for a marinade/basting sauce that I think is the best I've had and the best I've made. The ribs came out incredibly tender with an absolutely delicious aroma and taste from the marinade. You gotta try it. I think we got a winner here. This may very well be the marinade I use for all the recipes above I've already blogged. It's that good.

Adapted from Crepes of Wrath and my own recipes.

Ingredients and Method:
4 large bone-in or boneless country style pork ribs
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1/3 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 1/2 teaspoons Chinese 5-spice powder
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons cooking sherry
1/4 honey to brush over the finished ribs

Combine all ingredients except honey in a baking dish until thoroughly mixed. Add pork ribs to marinade, cover with plastic, and marinate in refrigerator for at least 8 hours, but 24 hours is preferable. Rotate ribs about every 8 hours or so.

Grill over indirect heat (with a smoker box if available) for 1 1/2 hours, brushing occasionally with marinade. Check to ensure internal temperature has reached 170 degrees. Brush both sides with honey, let grill for 3 more minutes, and remove.  Let meat rest for 15 minutes before serving.

If you'd like to use the marinade as a sauce, pour into saucepan, with 1 tablespoon corn starch mixed with 1 tablespoon water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Serve ladled over meat and/or rice.