Saturday, October 29, 2011

Stupid Easy Potato Gratin

Some things seem way more daunting than they really are.  Some things like Potato Gratin Dauphinoise are much easier than one thinks they are to complete. Its the complicated name that gets to people.  They also make a great stupid easy side dish for things like Coq Au Vin or similar to get your starch portion of the dinner complete.

This recipe is microwave friendly...and couldn't begin to tell you with certainty how long to do it in a traditional oven or at what temp.  It was created years ago when I was an apartment dweller and had an oven so small that even a turkey couldn't fit so I HAD to come up with ways to move stuff to the micro.  Timing in the recipe is based on a 1200 watt microwave.

I have to admit I'm a gadget freak and love them all.  A while back I picked up small hand held mandolin at Surfas in Culver City.  Its great for perfectly thin slices that don't deviate in size...much better than I can accomplish with my knife skills.  It is the tool I go to for making gratins such as this.

Another tool that I use a lot in the kitchen is the microplane.  It is perfect for adding a dusting of nutmeg, chocolate, zesting a lemon or what have you.  Much better at the job than a box grater or similar tool.

Potato Gratin

  • 1 1/2 lbs baking potato
  • heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/8 t nutmeg, divided
  • salt
  • pepper

Butter your a 1.5 quart casserole dish.  Slice potatoes with the mandolin.  Put in layer of potatoes about 2-3 slices thick.  Salt, Pepper, dusting of nutmeg, and 1/4 of the Parmesan.  Repeat until all the potatoes are used and you are within an inch of the top.  Pour in heavy cream until it just reaches the top layer.  Put dish in microwave oven.  Microwave on HIGH for 10 minutes, then 20 Minutes at half power.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Butterscotch Pie

I have been a fan of butterscotch pudding, the cooked kind not that dreadful instant stuff, for as long as I can remember. Making your own from scratch is stupid easy and certainly worth the few minutes time it takes to cook the filling.

A couple of things to remember when making puddin' pies with meringue topping.  First and foremost make sure the eggs are at room temperature before you separate and try to whip the eggs.  They froth better if you have them warm as opposed to cold from the fridge.  Another thing to help them whip their best is invest a few bucks in a copper bowl.  The copper acts with the egg white to gain more volume.  Lastly, a bakers sugar also called caster sugar will dissolve easier in the egg white making a better final product.

Butterscotch Pie
9 inch baked pie shell - cooled to room temperature
1 1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 c flour
1 12 oz can condensed milk (not sweetened)*
1/8 t salt
3 egg yolks beaten
1 t vanilla
2T butter
3 egg whites
1/4 t flour
6 T sugar

Bake 9" pie shell according to your recipe instructions for blind baking.  Cool

Mix sugar, flour, condensed milk, salt and egg yolks in a heavy sauce pan.  Whisk until dissolved.  Heat and whisk constantly over medium heat until it thickens and starts to bubble.  Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla and butter.  Add to your baked pie shell.

For the meringue add egg whites and cream of tartar to bowl.  Beat until soft peaks form.  Increase speed and beat in sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until stiff peaks form.  (About 4 minutes total).  Spread over the hot filling pushing to edges to seal.  Bake in 350F oven until browned.  Cool completely before serving.  Refrigerate left overs.

*sometimes sold as evaporated milk.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Asian Spiced Pork Tenderloin

I am a fan of spicy food.  Living in the San Gabriel Valley of L.A. I am exposed to a lot of great Asian restaurants and more than a few dishes are uber spicy.

Yesterday I opted to go Asian flavors with the Pork Tenderloin and the results were pretty awesome if you like heat in your Asian food.  Garlic/Ginger/Soy round out the flavor profile.  Of course I cheated a bit and used "Chinese Chicken Salad" dressing for the base and got the heat from what we call "Korean Ketchup"...Sriracha. (Yes, I know its Thai in origin but Korean Ketchup as that whole alliteration thingy going for it).

Asian Spiced Pork Tenderloin

  • 2lbs pork tenderloin
  • 1/2 c Chinese chicken salad dressing
  • 2 T Sriracha Sauce
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1 T grated ginger
  • 3T soy sauce

Combine salad dressing, Sriracha, garlic, ginger and soy sauce.  In large leak proof zip-lock bag add the pork and then the marinade.  Allow to sit in refrigerator for 3 hours.  Rotate the bag occasionally to ensure even distribution of the marinade.

Heat oven to 350F.  Put pork in roasting pan and roast about 35-45 minutes until it is 170F on an instant read thermometer.  Reserve marinade.

Take the reserved marinade, should measure about 1 cup.  Put in small sauce pan and simmer over medium heat until reduced about 1/2.  Use the resulting sauce to pour over the sliced tenderloin when serving.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Best cocoa powder ever...Black Onyx in a Devil's Food Cake

I can't take the credit for the recipe for this is purely a Martha Stewart creation.  You can get the recipe for her "Moist Devil's Food Cake" HERE.  It is a pretty easy from scratch recipe to make.  The cocoa I used is what takes the recipe over the top.

I know I've blogged it before here, but Black Onyx Cocoa Powder from Surfas in Culver City or online at Culinary is what really rocks.  Its a super rich and dark chocolate powder.  Because it has least cocoa fats than the lighter stuff you get at a groc you do need to compensate some with it.  They recommend mixing it 50/50 with the lighter stuff.  I suggest you experiment with it.  In the case of this cake recipe and in cookies that have a lot of butter in them to start with it really doesn't make a difference.  I've experimented with it in bread and found that I did need to add a bit more fat...butter or oil to compensate for the dryness factor.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Chive n Cheddar Biscuits

Its Sunday and time for the big country style breakfast we like to do around here.  You know the kind...everyone sits together and shares everything that's going on good, bad or indifferent.  Its about bounding over food and not always so easy to do.

These biscuits are a fave and can be served at any meal....warm from the oven to melt the butter after you split them is the best.  But I digress...simple to make with more energy expended carrying out the Kitchen Aid and ingredients from the pantry than in the actual assembly.

Chive n Cheddar Biscuits

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 teaspoon sugar 
  • 1/2 C (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced 
  • 3/4 C whole milk
  • 1/4 C chopped fresh chives 
  • 1/4 C fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 C shredded Cheddar Cheese 

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. Add cheese, chopped chives and parsley and give it a quick whirl to incorporate.  With the mixer on low, add the half-and-half and beat until just mixed. Add the chives and mix until just combined.

Dump the dough out on a well-floured board and knead lightly into a rectangle 3/4-inch thick. Cut out rounds with a 2 1/2-inch round cutter and place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are firm. Serve warm.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Mushroom Lasagna...tastes way better than it looks

So today was one of those days where I tore through recipe books trying to figure out what to do for dinner.  I was in the mood for cooking so I wasn't too worried about it being fast nor easy.

This recipe is a combo of a few different recipes.  I included the thyme, as well, thyme plays so well with mushrooms and the inspiration recipe didn't include it for reasons I don't understand.  I'm glad I did include as that subtle grassy flavor of thyme plays well through out the dish.

I used cremini mushrooms also called "baby bella" or "baby portobello" mushrooms.  It really is just a tiny version of the huginormous portobella's out there.  Same 'shroom just a different size.  And if you can find the already sliced variety like I do at the market your work is even shortened a bit.

Mushroom Lasagna
12 lasagna noodle cooked according to package directions
1 c grated Parmesan
White Sauce
1 stick butter
4C whole milk
1/2 c all purpose flour
1T sea salt
1 t black pepper
1 t fresh grated nutmeg
Mushroom Filling
1 lb sliced cremini mushroom
1 t salt
1 t black pepper
2 T loose packed fresh thyme leaves (or 1 T dry)

Preheat oven to 375F
Cook noodles according to package directions.  Set aside.

To make white sauce heat milk over medium heat.  Melt butter in large sauce pan until melted.  Add flour and cook until dissolved.  Add hot milk all at once and whisk until smooth.  Add salt, pepper and nutmeg and stir constantly over medium high heat until  thick and starting to bubble, about 3-5 minutes.  Set aside off flame.

In large skillet add olive oil and 1T butter over medium high heat.  Add half the mushrooms, salt, pepper and thyme.  Stir often until mushrooms have lost most of their moisture and starting to brown, about 5 minutes.  Pour out into bowl. Repeat with remaining mushrooms.

Constructing the Lasagna.  Lightly spray with Pam a 9X13 baking dish.  Place about 1 cup of white sauce in the bottom of the pan.  Add 3 noodles to the bottom of the pan.  Spread on 1/4 the white sauce on top of the noodles.  Add 1/3 mushrooms, 1/4 C Parmesan.  Repeat with next two layers.  The final layer will be noodles with white sauce and Parmesan.  Bake in oven until golden brown on top and bubbly at the edges about 30-45 minutes.