Monday, December 22, 2014

Ginger Spiced Spritz

This cookie too a bit of work to get it right.  Cloves were the culprits.  A little goes a long, LONG way and the first batch thats all you tasted.  Got it right now and this is a righteous little cookie that packs a punch of flavor.

I like to take half the cookie batter and color it.  It adds to the festive look of your cookie plate by not having them all one color.  Call me funny, but presentation is everything.

Ginger Spice Spritz

  • 2 1/2 c flour
  • 2 t ground ginger
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t ground cloves
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1 c butter
  • 3/4 c packed brown sugar
  • 1 t orange extract'
  • decorative colored sugar sprinkles
  • food coloring

Cream together brown sugar, room temp butter, salt and orange extract until fluffy.

Combine flour and spices.  Sift together.  With stand mixer on low slowly add flour mixture to creamed butter and mix until smooth and all flour incorporated.  Optional: remove 1/2 of batter into seperate bowl.  Add a few drops of food color to the bowl and mix until color is uniform.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Load cookie dough into feed tube of a cookie press.  Select pattern die and press cookies according to package directions.  Sprinkle raw cookies with decorative sugars

Bake 12-14 minutes until firm. Cool on wire racks.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Balsamic Roasted Chicken Breast

File this under stupid easy and incredibly tasty.  Fresh herbs I usually have on hand...dried work just as well.  Just rub them in your hand to crush and activate the oils before adding to the marinade.

Balsamic Roasted Chicken Breast

  • 2 lbs Chicken breast halves
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1/2 t black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 T fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 T fresh minced rosemary

Clean chicken breasts and remove tenders.  Combine balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and herbs in a large non reactive bowl.  Add chicken breasts and tenders.  Toss to coat.  Marinade 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 350F.  Line baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place chicken breasts and tenders in sheet. Pour any remaining marinade over the meat.  Bake about 30 minutes until thickest breast reaches 165F.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Sea Salt Caramel Molten Lava Cakes

This is the schiznit.  The best bomb diggety thing I've created in a while.  Sea Salt, caramel in a warm ooey gooey treat.  Served up with coffee ice cream next to it its hitting all the right notes.  RIGHTEOUS.

I inherited from a friend a dozen cans of Nestle dulce du leche and have been wondering what on earth to do with it all.  Topping brownies is a start but only uses barely a third of a can of the sweet thick caramel.  What to do with the rest left me thinking and searching.

Having tasted the caramel by itself its almost too sweet and needs to be rounded off for better depth of flavor.  Salt, specifically sea salt, not that iodized crap sold at the groc rounds out the flavor and enables you to cut through all the sweet and enjoy the caramel notes there too.

This took me a couple of tests to get the recipe just not salty and too cakey, another too salty that you needed a gallon of water afterwards. I used a general purpose sea salt, not an expensive flaked like Maldon.  Really this final iteration is awesome.

Sea Salt Molten Lava Cakes

  • 1 2/3 c caramel sauce
  • 1/2 t sea salt
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 1/2 T flour
  • butter and extra flour to dust ramekins

Preheat oven to 375f
Butter and dust with flour 4 small ramekins.  Place on baking tray and set aside.

Place egg and yolks with salt in a stand mixer.  With whisk attachment beat on high until thick ribbon falls from whisk when stopped and raised.  About 2 1/2-3 minutes.  Beat in caramel until uniform.  Reduce speed and sprinkle on flour, beating until just mixed in.

Divide the batter between the 4 ramekins.  Place in oven and bake 14-16 minutes until the top is just set and they are still wiggly.  Immediately remove from oven.

To serve run a knife around the edge of the cake.  Grab hot ramekin in an oven mitt protected hand and place serving plate upside down over the ramekin. Invert.  Give the ramekin light tap to to release the cake.  Put a scoop or two of good quality coffee ice cream on the plate and serve.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Browned Butter Brownie with Caramel and Sea Salt

OK, this is my go too brownie.  I made it for the Holiday Meeting of the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts.  It was a hit.  EVERYONE raved about how it was the best brownie they have ever had.  EVER.

But really whats not to love.  Its not overly sweet.  Its ooey, gooey chocolatey with just a touch of salt to make your taste buds dance.  Its really yummy.

I cheat too.  Big surprise, right!  Instead of making my own caramel, which I;m totally capable of I use canned Nestles La Lechera brand dulce du leche.  Really good stuff, thick, rich and very caramel.  Why make your own when you can just buy it?

I finish with Maldon Sea Salt, but really anygood quality flaked sea salt will work just fine.  For gawds sake don't use regular table salt, that iodized stuff tastes like metal and just ruins your tastebuds.

I use a good rich ultra pure ducth process cocoa called Black Onyx that I get from Surfas in Culver City. If you can find that, Hersheys Special Dark cocoa powder would be a great substitute.

Browned Butter Brownie with Caramel and Sea Salt

  • 10 T unsalted butter- cubed
  • 3/4 c Black Onyx Cocoa Powder
  • 1 1/4 c sugar
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 2 T water
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 C + 1 T all purpose flour
  • 1/2 c chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 c La Lechera dulce du leche
  • 2 t flaked sea salt

Preheat oven to 325F.  Place a shelf in the bottom third of oven.   Line an 8X8 baking dish with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray

In medium sauce pan place cubed butter over medium heat.  Stir and cook until it stops foaming.  Remove from heat and add sugar, cocoa powder, and kosher salt.  Stir until smooth.  Add eggs one at a time and stir until smooth and shiny.  Stir in vamilla.  Stir in flour until smooth.  Fold in nuts.  Pour into prepared pan.

Place caramel into a plastic sandwich bag. Cut off a small, 1/4 inch corner of the bag.  Pipe the caramel in a criss cross pattern on the brownie mix.  Place in oven.  Bake 25-30 minutes until firm and tester comes out with a few crumbs on it.

Remove from oven.  Sprinkle with the flaked sea salt.  Cool completely.  Remove brownie from pan by grabbing sides of foil.  Cut into 16 brownies.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Thai Grilled Shrimp Salad

This salad is a righteous incredible summer treat.  Pair it with a crisp Pinot Gris and you are in heaven.  Did I throw enough superlatives at it for ya?  I hope so as I really wanted to drive home how good it is as a meal.

Make your life easy here...remember to zest your lime first then juice it. Going the other way you'll get owwie fingers and lose most of the zest.

Thai Grilled Shrimp Salad
4 servings

  • 2 lbs shelled and deveined 16-20 count xlarge shrimp
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • zest of one lime
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 T red pepper flakes
  • 1 T toasted sesame oil
  • 1 t fish sauce
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1/3 C rice wine vinegar
  • 2/3 C neutral oil like canola
  • 3/4 C fresh mint leaves
  • 3/4 C fresh cilantro leaves
  • 8 C mixed greens (I use a spring mix)

Combine zest, pepper flakes, lime juice, garlic, sesame oil, fish sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, oils and 1/4 C each mint and cilantro leaves in a food processor.  Pulse several times until herbs and garlic are finely minced.  Reserve scant 1/2 cup of this for dressing the salad greens.

Skewer shrimp and place in a large glass baking dish.  Pour remaining dressing over the shrimp and toss to marinate.  Marinate 1 hour. 
Remove from marinade.  Shake off excess. Grill over hot grill 2-3 minutes per side until pink but still tender.

Toss mixed greens with remaining half cup of mint and cilantro leaves.  Toss with dressing and divide among 4 serving bowls.  Deskewer the shrimp and divide among the 4 bowls of greens.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Pepperoni Roll Crostini

The idea for this isn't entirely mine.  I got the idea from a recent episode of The Chew.  The final execution and twist with slivers of Sun dried Tomato is pure fraz.

To make life easier I grabbed pre-made garlic and herb pizza dough from Fresh and Easy Markets.  Its so much more convenient than making your own from scratch when you don't have hours to devote to rising and punching down and rising.

Pepperoni Roll Crostini

  • 2 1 lb boules pizza dough
  • 1 6 oz package sliced pepperoni
  • 1/2 c shredded Parmesan
  • 12 Oz room temperature cream cheese
  • 1/2 c chiffonade fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 c thinly sliced sun dried tomato
  • Coarse sea salt
  • olive oil
  • corn meal

Lightly grease a baking sheet and scatter a couple of table spoons corn meal onto it.  Set aside.

Allow pizza dough to come to room temperature for easier handling.  Flour a large bread board.  Roll each boule into a 1/4" thick 12X18" rectangle.

Scatter half of the pepperoni over one of the rectangles.  Sprinkle on half of the shredded Parmesan. 

Take second rectangle and place on top of the rectangle with meet and cheese.  Repeat scattering of pepperoni and cheese.  

From long side of the rectangle begin to roll it up jelly roll style.  Place seam side down on baking sheet.  Cover with tea towel and let rise until double in size, about 1-1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375F  Just before baking brush with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.   Bake for 35-40 minutes until deep golden brown.  Cool on wire wrack until room temperature

Slice into 1/4 thick rounds.  Spread softened cream cheese evenly over all the rounds.  Sprinkle chiffonade of basil over all the rounds.  Place sun dried tomato on half of the finished rounds.

2nd layer of dough over the first ready to roll up jelly roll style

Pepperoni roll on the prepared baking sheet ready for to rise until double
Pepperoni Roll sliced into rounds ready for the cream cheese, basil and sun dried tomato layer

Friday, July 25, 2014

Old School Popsicles

These Popsicles taste better than the store bought.  Back in the day my Mom came up with or got the recipe as there were 5 of us she had to keep in cool snacks in MO in the summer.Everyone elses' Mom was freezing Kool-aid as is and calling it a Popsicle, but not my Mom. Frozen Kool-aid lacked a big punch of flavor and didn't freeze got dead ice once the flavor was sucked out.

What's the secret to the perfect homemade Popsicle?  Jello.  Simple 3 oz box of gelatin in the same flavor or complimentary flavor to your 2 quart pack of Kool-aid gave you the perfect consistency, texture and bright flavor.

To make it you simply bring 3 cups water to a boil. Stir in Jello until dissolved.  Stir in Koolaid mix, and sugar if useing the unsweetened Kool-aid.  Add cold water to make 2 quarts.  Pour off into your Popsicle molds, insert sticks, freeze and voila the perfect homemade popsicle is yours.