Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Souffle' for one

I love a souffle'.  Its the perfect flavor delivery device.  Add cheese, especially a smoked cheese or similar rich flavored fermented dairy product and I'm in heaven.  Heaven I tell you.

This is stupid easy to make.  Simple steps.  Simply Divine treat at the start of the day or at dinner with a salad when you are home alone.

Souffle' for 1
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 T flour
  • 1/3 c milk
  • 1/8 t thyme
  • pinch salt
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • pinch cream of tartar
  • 1/3 cup firm cheese like smoked Gouda, Gruyere or Stilton
  • butter for coating ramekin
  • 1 T grated Parmesan

Pre heat oven to 425F.

Coat inside of ramekin to the top edge of rim with butter.  Dust inside with Parmesan cheese.

In a small sauce pan melt butter.  Add flour and cook 1 minute whisking until smooth.  Add thyme, salt and cayenne pepper, whisk to combine.  Add milk and over low heat whisk until smooth and thickened.  Remove from heat.

Add cream of tartar and egg whites to a small bowl. (copper bowls get greatest volume from egg whites).  Beat on high until soft peaks form....2-3 minutes,

Add egg yolk to milk mixture.  Whisk until smooth.  

Add 1/3 of the egg white to the yolk mixture.  Whisk to combine.  Pour this over remaining whites.  Sprinkle your 1/3 c cheese over the whites and gently fold to combine.  Some whites may remain...that's OK you just want to fold lightly to combine.

Put ramekin on a small sheet tray.  Pour souffle' mixture into ramekin.  Place in preheated oven.  Bake 5 minutes then reduce heat to 375F,  Bake additional 13-14 minutes.  Serve hot.

This is what happens when you don't butter the entire ramekin including the rim...a dry spot that causes it to stick on one side and rise lopsided.  My bad.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sea Salted Salmon on a bed of Zucchini "Noodles"

Simple food, simply prepared with minimal processing means healthier eating.  Most of the time.  At least that's what I tell myself.  At least the lack of migraines when I eat this way tells me I'm on the right track to living in a healthier way.

I broke down and got a mandolin with my stash of birthday cash.  Its a super sharp tool that slices uniformly any veggie that you want and adjusts to any depth you would want.  Add in the nifty julienne option and you can do perfectly uniforms trips in narrow or wide sizes.  Think noodle sized or french fry size with minimal effort.

I have to confess the zucchini as a noodle isn't an original idea.  I copped it from some TV show on where it was done as a the base for an appetizer.  I thought to myself then....hmmmm great way to use the old zucker in a new way and have fun with it.  Enter the mandolin that can slip slice and julienne perfectly long spaghetti like strands.  Being neutral in flavor you can zip it up as much as you'd like.  Added boner is swapping out fiber for carbs.  Total. Win.

The salmon is simply prepared.  Pepper and smoked sea salt then roasted.  Tastes lightly smoked as if done on a grill with out the fuss of charcoal.

Sea Salted Salmon on a bed of Zucchini "Noodles"

  • 2, 8 oz salmon fillets
  • fresh cracked black pepper
  • Smoked Sea Salt
  • 2 long medium sized zucchini
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • fresh cracked black pepper
  • sea salt or kosher salt
  • olive oil

Pat salmon fillet dry.  Prepare  baking sheet with a light spritz of cooking spray. Season with pepper and smoked sea salt.  Place on prepared baking sheet and oven roast at 350F for 20 minutes.

While salmon is roasting wash your zucchini and dry them.  Prepare mandolin to slice thin julienne strips of the veggie.  Run zucchini across the cutting blades in long straight strokes stopping when you get to the seed core.  Rotate to each side cutting to seed core.  Discard seed cores.  Dice tomato, add zucchini and toss with garlic powder.

Heat a pan coated with a couple of tablespoons olive oil until starting to shimmer. Add zucchini mixture.  Toss to coat with oil.  Stir fry turning with tongs gently several times until they are soft and spaghetti like, about 8-10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To plate divide "noodles" between two plates.  Top with salmon fillet.  Enjoy with a nice bottle of sauvignon blanc.
"Noodles" of julienned zucchini with tomato and garlic powder resting
"Noodles" stir frying and softening

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Roasted Shrimp and Polenta

I'm really into the clean food movement, little if any processed foods in our diet here.  I like to start with good fresh ingredients and build flavor the old fashioned way avoiding tons of salt and preservatives.

I really like the Golden Pheasant brand polenta easily found in local grocery stores. Its just the right grind and fresh corn flavor to build flavor upon.  The key to polenta without lumps is to stir constantly with a whisk and slowly add polenta to the boiling water in small amounts and incorporate completely before adding the next bit.

Roasting shrimp is stupid easy and they can marinate in the flavors while you prepare the polenta.  They simply roast in a hot oven until pink and cooked effort on your part once they are on a sheet tray.

Roasted Shrimp and Polenta
  • 1 c Golden Pheasant polenta
  • 2 c water
  • 1/2 t garlic salt
  • 1/2 c grated Parmesan
  • 2 lbs 21-25 count shrimp
  • 2 T minced garlic
  • 3 T olive oil 
  • 1 T dried thyme
  • 1/4 t red pepper flakes
  • salt 
  • pepper

Preheat oven to 400f

Peel and clean shrimp.  Place in mixing bowl.  Add minced garlic, olive oil, red pepper flakes and thyme.  Toss to combine.  Set aside while preparing the polenta.

Bring water to a boil in a small sauce pan.  Add garlic salt.  Slowly whisk in polenta meal until it is well combined with no lumps.  Reduce heat to low and simmer slowly, stirring continuously until thick and big bubbles puff their way to the top...15-20 minutes.  Reduce heat to lowest setting and stir in Parmesan cheese.  

Spread shrimp onto a rimmed baking sheet.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bake in preheated oven 5-7 minutes until pink and cooked through.

Put a dollop of hot polenta in a serving bowl.  Ring it with Roasted shrimp and enjoy! 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Gnocchi with Brown Butter Mushrooms and Herbs

Gnocchi is those little potato dumplings that are light as a feather and totally act as the best damn flavor carrier in the world.  I buy mine from a local Italian Deli (Claro's) to save time in the kitchen.  Fresh herbs and mushrooms in a brown butter sauce finishes them perfectly.  A quick shave of Parm gives it the final touch to take it from terrific to awesome.

I use cremini mushrooms (aka baby portabella) as they have a nuttier richer flavor than the more easily found white button mushrooms.  Easy swap with only a minor difference in flavor.

Browning butter is easy, takes a few minutes but the results are worth it....a richer nutty flavor to play off the mushrooms and accent the freshness of the herbs.Simply heat a skillet over medium heat.  Add butter and stir gently until it stops foaming.  The milk solids in the butter will turn a golden brown and then you're ready to cook.

Gnocchi with Brown Butter Mushrooms and Herbs
1 8 oz package gnocchi
1 stick unsalted butter
1 T minced garlic
8 oz cremini mushrooms - sliced
1 T fresh thyme (stripped from 4-5 stems)
1 T fresh sage - chiffonaded
Parmesan cheese

Brown butter.  Add mushrooms,garlic, thyme and sage when it stops foaming.  Saute until lightly browned. Season with salt and pepper to taste,  8-10 minutes,

Bring salted water to a boil.  Cook gnocchi according to package or recipe directions.  When they are done and floating remove with a spider and add to the browned butter and mushroom mixture.  Toss to coat.  Serve with a dusting of fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Shrimp Chowder

This is a slightly richer tastier Shrimp Chowder than I had posted before...richer in that I add just a tidge of heavy cream the end for that smooth creamy mouth feel.  

At my house we like a  little heat so I use a full 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, if you aren't a fan of the heat dial it back to taste.  But a little really plays nice with the inherent sweetness of the shrimp.  

Which gets me to my next point...Shrimp.  I splurge for the jumbo 21-25/lb as they are that much sweeter and more tender than the smaller variety.  Do make sure you buy the whole shrimp not the already peeled and deveined variety.  You need the shells and end bits for making the hearty stock.  And in terms of stock...use the whole vegetable leaves, skins and all for maximum flavor.

Unusual for me I opt for Russet in this recipe.  They absorb flavor nicely but more importantly hold their shape not dissolve into the stock as they cook until tender to the bite.  Important reason to use...they are there for shape and texture not to make a pot of mashed potato soup.

Shrimp Chowder
  • Shells and end bits from 2 lbs large Shrimp
  • 6 c water
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 T Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 celery stalk - leaves included
  • 1 half included
  • 1 large carrot

  • 2 lbs peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 1/2 onion - minced
  • 4 cloves garlic - minced
  • 2 cups small diced potatoes
  • 3 strips bacon
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T flour
  • 1/8-1/4 cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 t fresh ground black pepper
  • salt to taste
  • 2 T parsley
  • 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 6 cups shrimp stock

Clean and devein your shrimp.  Place clean shrimp in colander and refrigerate until needed.  

Place shells with tail and heads into a large pan with 6c water.  Add salt and Old Bay Seasoning.  Add vegetables cut to fit into pan.  Bring to boil then reduce heat to simmer and simmer covered for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and let steep 15 minutes.  Pour stock through a fine meshed strainer and discard the solids.  Yield about 6 cups stock.

In large soup pan fry up bacon until crisp.  Reserve the fat.  Add pepper, butter, onion and garlic and sweat over moderate heat until translucent.  Add flour and stir until dissolved.  Add potatoes.  Add stock slowly and stir until smooth and begins to thicken.  Bring to boil then reduce to simmer. Simmer covered 20 minutes until the potatoes are soft.  Test for salt and add as needed.

Add Parsley and shrimp.  Stir and cook 5 minutes over low heat stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and stir in cream until dissolved.   Do not add cream while on the flame as the cream could curdle if overheated.

Serve the Shrimp Chowder hot with a crusty loaf of bread and a nice wine that can stand up to the rich and spicy shrimp!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Spinach, Ham, Smoked Gruyere Quiche

Its really easy and a hearty way to start the morning.  Quiche.  That egg pie with meat and stuff surrounding by oh so delightful melty smoked cheese.  Sort of an omelet in pie form.

I opted for the smoked cheese simply because I wanted to play up the smokey flavor of the ham one more way.  If you can't find smoked Gruyere, any old unsmoked Gruyere or Swill cheese will work fine.

The key to this Quiche bottom pastry being flaky is to keep it dry.  Spinach, even the wilted stuff releases a lot of water.  Adding a thin layer of dried minced onion soaks up the excess moisture so you still get a baked flaky crust on the bottom.  

Spinach Ham and Smoked Gruyere Quiche
Pie Dough for a 9" pie plate
4 3ggs
1 c half and half
pinch of salt
1 1/2 c diced ham
1 C wilted spinach - cooled
2 T dried minced onion
1/8 t nutmeg
1 1/2 c smoked Gruyere cheese
2 T grated Parmesan cheese.

Preheat oven to 400F

Add pie dough to pie plate.  Flute edges.  Place pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any boil over.

Sprinkle dried minced onion evenly over the bottom of the prepared pie plate.  Add even layer of wilted cooled spinach.  Sprinkle with nutmeg.

Add 1/2 of the Gruyere cheese and spread in even layer over the spinach.  Add ham in even layer over the cheese.  Top with remaining Gruyere cheese.

Whisk together eggs, half and half and salt.  Pour over the meat/spinach/cheese layers.  Dust with the Parmesan cheese.

Bake 30-35 minutes until set and tester comes out clean.  Cool 5 minutes before cutting.  Serve warm.  Chase with a nice mimosa, or if a tee-totaler plain OJ.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

No Bakes Cookies...perfect for a summer heat wave

I type this as the temperature in the SGV has broken 100f and it isn't even noon yet.  Too hot to bake but you still want a good cookie?  This is the ticket.  The "No bake cookie" has been floating around my Mom's house since we got the first version from our friend Marty Hintsala back, way back in the '60s.

Added bonus is its stupid easy.  Use a large nonstick pot and the clean up is easy too.

What makes this "MY COOKIE" is that I switched up some ingredients to make it deeper and richer in flavor than the original.  Half brown sugar instead  of all basic white granulated.  My current go to "Black Onyx Cocoa" instead of regular Hershey's as its an almost black all cocoa solids powder for better flavor.  A bit of kosher salt to balance out the flavors and cut the sweetness.

No Bake Cookies 

  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1/4 c milk
  • 4 T Black Onyx of Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa Powder
  • 1 c brown sugar lightly packed
  • 1 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1/2 c peanut butter
  • 3 1/2 c quick cooking oat meal
  • 2 t vanilla

Put first 6 ingredients into a large non-stick stock pot and bring to boil over medium heat.  Boil at full rolling boil 1 minute.  Remove from heat.

Stir in peanut butter.   Stir in vanilla.  Stir in quick cooking oats.

Drop by tablespoonful onto silpat sheet.  Or by 2 tablespoonful if you like big cookies.  Cool to room temp to set.  Enjoy!