Thursday, June 19, 2014

Death by Chocolate V2.o

This is a spin on Michael Symon's Death by Chocolate.  What makes it truly my own is adding a salty sweet pretzel base and crushed pretzels in the layering.  Its a salty chocolately crunchy sweet jumble in my version...just not all chocolate like his.  Of course, I use my own cooked from scratch pudding in this.

I used Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder for the intense chocolate flavor it brings to the table.  Ditto valrhona 70% unsweetened chocolate.  Its about intense chocolate balanced with salty crunchy pretzels.

Also to turn up the flavors a notch, I add a generous dollop of creme fraiche to the whipped cream layer.  This bit of tart tames down the sweetness of the cream, again all working towards balance in the final dessert.  Sour cream would sorta work as a substitute, but really creme fraiche is in stores all over now so spring for it instead.

Also, instead of layering it in a giant trifle bowl, I do it in ramekins.  This way I  have portion control and make certain everyone gets a nice bit with each spoonful.

Death by Chocolate V2.0
Pudding Layer

  • 2 c Heavy Cream
  • 1/4 c Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 3 T corn starch
  • 1 1/2 c whole milk
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 8 oz unsweetened chocolate - finely chopped

Whipped Cream layer

  • 2 c heavy whipping cream
  • 1 c creme fraiche
  • 1/2 c confectioners sugar
  • 1 T pure vanilla

Pretzel layer

  • 2 c crushed pretzels
  • 3 T butter, melted
  • 1 T sugar

  • 1 C Heath Toffee bits

Preheat oven to 350F
Place 8, 8 oz ramekins on a baking sheet
Reserve 1/2 c crushed pretzels for layering later.
Place 1 1/2 c crushed pretzels, sugar and melted butter in a mixing bowl an toss until combined and resembles wet sand.  Divide pretzel mixture between the ramekins and press in lightly with fingers.  Bake 10-12 minutes until lightly browned and fragrant.  Remove from oven and cool to room temperature

For the pudding layer, start by putting together the egg yolks and whole milk.  Whisk until smooth and set aside.

In a heavy bottomed sauce pan whisk together salt,  sugar, cornstarch and Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa powder.  Add heavy cream and stir until ingredients are combined.  Stir and cook over medium until it comes to a boil and starts to froth.  It will coat the back of a wooden spoon.  Don't over cook.  Reduce heat. Slowly drizzle in 1 C of hot cream into the egg yolk mixture, taking care to whisk vigorously so the hot cream doesn't scramble the yolk mixture.  Slowly pour the tempered yolk mixture into the remaining hot cream, whisking constantly.  Bring to a boil and cook 1 minute.  Remove from heat.  Whisk in finely chopped unsweetened chocolate until dissolved and smooth.  Whisk in vanilla.  Pour into heat proof bowl.  Place cling film over the hot pudding mixture to prevent skin from forming.  Chill several hours until set.

Chill your mixing bowl and beaters for about 30 minutes to ensure maximum fluffiness to the whipped cream layer.  Assemble mixer, pour in heavy cream and creme fraiche.  Whip on high until fluffy.  Sprinkle on confectioners sugar and vanilla.  Whip a minute or two longer until it forms soft careful not to overbeat and turn it to butter.

Sprinkle 1/3 c toffee bits evenly between the 8 ramekins. 

Divide pudding in half, and split  half of it evenly between the ramekins.  Divide whipped cream in half, split half of it evenly between the ramekins.  Top with 1/4 c crushed pretzels divided between the ramekins.  Top with 1/3 c toffee bits split among the 8 ramekins.  Repeat layering order with remaining pudding, whipped cream, crushed pretzels and toffee bits.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Chocolate Oreo Ice Cream

Back in the day the Oreo ice cream came in two flavors, vanilla and the chocolate that I adored.  Soon it was only vanilla in the stores and I was lost.  Floating in foodie limbo waiting its return.  Then I slapped myself awake and remembered I could make my own version.

So I set out to do just that.  I'm a big fan of dark chocolate over milk.  I used Hershey's Dark cocoa powder instead of the usual unsweetened cocoa powder.  The results were out right awesome.  This recipe is a keeper...and will have to be made often as everyone loves it around here.

I also toss in some real unsweetened chocolate just to ad some oooomph to the already chocolately goodness going on here.  I used a Valrhona 77% dark baking chocolate for max flavor and texture in the final product but even a 65-70% would be fine....I used what I had on hand.

This recipe is based on the capacity of a Cuisinart ice cream maker.  Ditto the time.  Adjust as needed for your own ice cream making machine.

Chocolate Oreo Ice Cream

  • 6 T Hersheys Special Dark cocoa powder
  • 2 1/4 c heavy cream
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 sugar
  • 4 oz unsweetened chocolate - chopped
  • 1 C whole milk
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 8 oreos coarse chopped

In a heavy sauce pan combine cocoa powder, heavy cream, salt and sugar.  Stir to combine over medium heat.  Slowly heat to boil.  Stir/whisk to prevent it from sticking to sides and bottom of pan.  Just as it comes to a boil it will foam.  Immediately turn off heat when it foams up.

Add chopped unsweetened chocolate.  Stir until melted into the ice cream base.  Stir in whole milk and vanilla.  Pour into large bowl, cover and chill several hours or over night.

Assemble ice cream maker per instructions.  Turn on machine and add the chilled  ice cream base.  Churn 25-30  minutes until it is the thick and nearly frozen.  Add chopped oreos and churn 1-2 minutes longer.  Serve immediately as a soft serve style, or scoop into a freezer container and freeze until firm.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Shitake Mustard Green Frittata

I love me a frittata in the morning for brunch.  The kids, not so much so this is really a frittata for 2.  Add in a side of hash browns or toast and some juice and its a full meal.

I used curly mustard greens, rib removed and coarsely chopped.  Its got more of an earthy peppery bite to it so you if you don't like it, swap out baby spinach in the same quantity.  It seems like a lot of greens, and it will overwhelm the pan at first, but as they give up water and wilt, they will shrink considerably.

Different for me is this doesn't call for any additional salt.  Parmesan, the real deal you buy in wedges is a pretty salty cheese to start with so you can use it as your "salt" If on first bite you feel it isn't seasoned enough give it a little sprinkle of maldon sea salt if you must.

Shitake Mustard Green Fritatta

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 T half and half
  • 1/4 c finely shredded mozzarella
  • 5 T grated Parmesan
  • 4 Shitake mushrooms - stems removed, sliced 
  • 2 c coarse chopped mustard greens ( or any other green you have around)
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1/4 t ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350F

Over medium-high heat add 2 T olive oil to an 8" saute pan.  Stir fry the mushrooms and ground black pepper until browned, about 5-7 minutes  Add mustard greens and garlic.  Stir constantly until wilted and greens are reduced to 1/4 or less of original volume.

Whisk together eggs, half and half, mozzarella and 3 T Parmesan.  Reduce heat on pan to medium, add eggs.  Stir slowly until ingredients are well distributed and bottom has set, about 2-3 minutes.  Remove pan from heat and put in preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until puffed and browned.  Garnish with additional 2 T Parmesan and serve hot.
There is flavor in the brown...don't skimp on browning your Shitake

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Lemon Souffle'

I'm beginning to wonder what all the fuss about is with making Souffle'.  This version doesn't have a starch to bind and it still puffed up wonderfully.  Yes, it fell a bit after while cooling but it was still a wonderful puff of marshmallowy lemony goodness.

I cheated here and used a good store bought lemon curd.  Dundee brand if you can find it is the most amazing lemon pucker I've found yet.  Yes, you can fuss and make it at home, but why for the love of gawd when you can get good store bought would you do it?

I use Meyer Lemons, the virtues of which I've extolled in the past.  Suffice it to say its milder with a better flavor than the traditional lemons found in the groc at the corner.  Worth tracking down March-May when they are in season.

Tip: Zest lemon then juice it.  You will never zest a lemon that has been juiced first.

Lemon Souffle'

  • Good quality Lemon Curd
  • 1 large lemon - zested and juiced
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 5 T superfine sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 t cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350F

In a 10-12 oz ramekin spoon in 2 heaping tablespoons lemon curd, smooth and level in bottom of ramekin.

Whip egg whites and cream of tartar in copper bowl until soft peaks form.  Sprinkle over 1T superfine sugar.  Whip until stiff peaks form.  Set aside.

Combine egg yolks, sugar, salt, zest and juice.  Whisk until frothy and sugar is dissolved.  Stir in 1/4 of the whipped egg whites to lighten the yolks.  Pour yolk mixture into the egg whites and fold gently until well incorporated and few white streaks remain.

Place ramekins on baking sheet.  Divide souffle' batter evenly between the 3 ramekins.  Bake 17-18 minutes until puffed and golden brown on top.  Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Serve.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Creme Puffs for my Pop

I'm not quite sure when my Mom made the switch to Creme Puffs for my Dad's Birthday, but I'm glad she did.  Its a little comforting tasty bit that always reminds me of him.  Today would have been his 83rd birthday and its appropriate I make them now.

There are many ways to fill them.  Traditional is to make a pastry creme, but sweetened whip cream works too.  Ditto cool whip if you're really lazy.

Baking them on a silpat baking sheet promises an easy release from the pan.  Nothing worse than a puff that scorches onto the baking sheet.  Silpat is the greatest invention of the last century.

Creme Puffs

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 c water
  • 1 c flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 eggs

Preheat oven to 400F

Bring water, butter and salt to a boil.  Reduce heat and add flour all at once.  Stir vigorously until a ball forms.
Put dough ball in stand mixer on medium, or food processor with a dough blade installed.  Add eggs one at a time until smooth dough forms.

Line baking sheet with silpat.  Drop dough by 1/4 C full.  Bake 30-40 minutes until golden brown.

Remove from oven and move to a wire rack.  Cool completely.  Split and fill with pastry creme or sweetened whipped creme.

Pastry Creme

  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 2 T corn starch
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 C milk
  • 2 egg yolks.
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 2 T butter

Whisk together Milk, sugar, corn starch and salt.  Bring to boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly  to prevent clumping.  Cook 1 minute until thick.

Whisk together yolks. Whisking vigorously slowly ladle in 1 c of the hot milk mixture into egg yolks.  Bring heat to medium-low.  Slowly pour the yolk mixture into the remaining hot milk.  Whisk constantly as it thickens and comes to a boil. Cook 1 minute.  Immediately remove from heat.  Whisk in vanilla.  Whisk in butter.  
Put into a heat proof container.  Float a piece of cling film over the hot mixture to prevent a skin from forming.  Cover and refrigerate until cool. 
 To prevent curdling and scrambling of the pastry creme mixture whisk constantly.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Bulgur Wheat Salad

This Salad is fine as a meal by itself or as a side with grilled meats and fish. With the fresh chopped herbs it really packs a lot of flavor.  Its one of my fave for the former for a quick lunch.

Bulgur wheat is simply cracked wheat berries. It used to be a staple at the hippy stores, but I've  been finding it in mainstream grocs these days.  Yeah...and its cheaper that way too.  Nice complete grain and its easy to cook.  If you can do rice, you can do this.

I always have chicken stock on hand so this isn't entirely vegan, to make it that way simply use a good veggie stock.  As you don't know how much salt is in the stock, hold off salting the bulgur wheat until you taste it.

Bulgur Wheat Salad
  • 1 c bulgur wheat
  • 2 c veggie or chicken stock
  • 1/4 t black pepper
  • Salt
  • 1 c sliced mushrooms
  • 1 small zucchini quartered and sliced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 3 T chopped cilantro
  • 3 T chopped mint
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 T olive oil

In small sauce pot bring stock to a boil.  Add bulgur wheat and reduce heat to low and simmer/steam 20 minutes. Remove from heat and lest stand 10 minutes covered.

Add mushrooms to a large non-stick fry pan with a tablespoon of oil.   Sautee over med/high heat until the mushrooms start to brown, about 3-5 minutes.  Add zucchini and cook 3-5 minutes until they start to brown.  Add onion and cook to translucent.  Add garlic and cook 1 minute.  Remove from heat.

Prepare dressing with lemon juice, olive oil, herbs, and black pepper.  In large salad bowl add bulgur wheat and fluff with a fork.  Pour over the veggie mixture and toss lightly to combine.  Pour over the salad dressing and toss to dress the salad.  Test of salt and add as needed.  Serve warm.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Slaw 2 ways...its how I gotta do it some days`

I have some picky eaters.  One likes only the traditional southern style slaw, the others like the Thai style.  Its easy enough to make both so I do.

To make life easier I take a small head of cabbage, quarter it then finely slice it all at once.  Voila...enough cabbage for 2 batches of slaw.  From there its about the dressing and that is just stupid easy.  

The traditional southern is what I learned back in "Men's Contemporary Living" back in high school for crying out loud.  The other is an adaptation of the one my cousin makes...Thai with the flavors amped up a bit.

Traditional Southern Cole Slaw
  • 4 c sliced cabbage
  • 2 T finely sliced onion
  • 1/2 c Miracle Whip
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T sugar
  • pinch salt
  • Pinch black pepper.

Whisk together the Miracle Whip, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper.  Add to sliced cabbage and onion.  Toss to coat.  Chill for at least an hour for the flavors to marry.

Thai Cole Slaw
  • 4 c sliced cabbage
  • 1/4 c thinly sliced onion
  • 1/4 c peanuts
  • 2 T chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 c Miracle Whip
  • 2 T  rice wine vinegar
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 t curry powder
  • 1 t fish sauce
  • pinch salt

Combine Miracle Whip, vinegar, lime juice, curry powder, fish sauce and salt.  Whisk until smooth.  Pour over sliced cabbage, onion, cilantro and peanuts.  Toss to coat.  Chill for at least an hour for the flavors to marry.