Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Garlic Studded Prime Rib

 Nothing quite says Christmas like a nice Prime Rib Roast. I do mine up pretty traditional with the exception of studding it with garlic to infuse it with a wonderful garlic flavor.  The slow roasting ensures that the flavor gets down deep into the meet and the clove if you are lucky enough to get it in your slice is deep roasted and sweet, entirely edible in that state.

The studding is easy. With a paring knife make a slit deep enough and wide enough to take a clove of garlic pushed into it.

I start the roast out in a very hot oven to ensure a nice crust on it.  Then I lower the heat to slow roast to succulent deliciousness.  To help the crust develop I roast on a convection roast cycle which besides ensuring even roasting, it also speeds up the cooking time a bit.
Garlic Studded Prime Rib

  • 1 3 rib Prime Rib Roast, approx 6 lbs
  • 6 cloves garlic peeled
  • 2 T Montreal Brand Steak Seasoning

Preheat oven to 450F.

Make 6 slits in top of roast.  Insert garlic clove in each slit.  Rub steak seasoning into the roast, top, bottom and sides.  Place in roasting pan.

Bake in the very hot oven for 15 minutes then reduce heat to 325F.  Roast until the center of roast reaches 135F in center for a good medium rare. (Allow about 12-15 minutes per pound to get to that internal 135F temp).  Pull from oven and tent with foil to let it rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Butter Almond Coffee Cake

Perfect for a chilly winter morning is this Butter Almond Coffee Cake.  Its pretty simple to make, a few steps that in themselves are easy, just several of those steps to get to this wonderfully almondy coffee cake.

The real key to this coffee cake is to really whip the egg sugar mixture as there is no leavening in the cake.  That right, no baking soda or baking powder, its lightness comes from the air whipped into the eggs in the beginning.  Don't be afraid to whip it long and hard (wasn't that a Devo Song?) until the beater leaves trails in the egg mixture and it falls in ribbons from the whip. Takes about 3-4 minutes to get to that stage. If you don't do this your cake with be dense.
Butter Almond Coffee Cake


  • 1/2 Cup Sugar 
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 t. Vanilla
  • 1/2 t almond extract
  • 2/3 Cup Butter, plus small amount for pan
  • 2 Eggs
  • 3/4 Cup Flour


  • 2 T. Milk
  • 1 T. Flour
  • 1/4 C. Butter
  • 2 oz. Blanched almonds, sliced
  • 4 T. Sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour a 9" baking pan.
Melt 2/3 C. butter and allow to cool.
Using a mixer with whisk attachment, beat eggs, vanilla, almond extract, salt and sugar in large mixing bowl until light and fluffy.  Slowly add butter and flour to egg mixture and stir in on low speed.
Pour batter into an prepared cake pan. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
In a saucepan, combine remaining 1/4 cup of butter, 4 T. sugar, milk, and flour. Bring to a boil and add almonds.  Spread cake with glaze and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until just beginning to turn light brown and crispy.
Allow to cool on a rack for 10 minutes or so before cutting. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Cherry Cream Cheese Pie

 I could have sworn I posted this before, but I can't find it anywhere.  Pardon the duplicate if there is one out there that I missed.

This came about because my wife loves Cherry Pie and I love Cheese Danish.  I created this recipe in my head and did it years ago when we were in the apartment in Valley Village that had an oven barely big enough to fit a pie plate in.  It worked and has been on the list of fun brunch food for us for years.

It is stupid easy to make as I use bought puff pastry sheets instead of taking the day or so to make it from scratch.  (Did that once for bragging rights, but seriously the store bought stuff is pretty marvy).  The sheets are smaller than a pie plate so you do need to roll it out a bit and then use the roller to pull the corners out a bit more.
 The corners won't meet in the middle, but that's OK.  If you stretched the dough to meet there you'd have it too thin and it would burn before the cream cheese filling had set.
 Pick a good Cherry Pie filling.  I've gone through several brands before I found one that I liked.  I really like the Cherry Pie Filling from Fresh & Easy stores based here in suburban L.A.  They have stores in So Cal, AZ and NV...use the handy store locater HERE to find the one nearest you.  Of course you can always use your favorite brand and make the filling from scratch if you so desire.  Just trying to make it a bit easier for you to duplicate what I did.  I like this brand as its not too sweet and the cherry's also have a bit of a sour bite to them.
Lastly leave the cream cheese out over night so it is amply soft for mixing.  Not having it at room temp makes it nearly impossible to beat in the egg and have a light fluffy mixture.

Cherry Cream Cheese Pie

  • 1 sheet puff pastry - thawed
  • 1 8 oz pkg cream cheese - room temp
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/4 t almond extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 can Cherry Pie filling

Preheat oven to 400F

Flour your pastry board well.  Lay down the sheet of puff pastry and gently roll until it will fit into your pie plate.  Give the corners an extra roll or two until they are an additional inch or so further out from the pastry.
Place in pie plate.

Mix cream cheese, sugar, almond extract and egg.  Beat until fluffy.  Pour into prepared puff pastry.

Carefully spoon pie filling over cream cheese mixture.  Pull corners of pastry up and over towards the center of the pie, they won't meet. See picture of the detail.   Bake 40-45 minutes until golden brown. Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.  Can serve at room temperature as well.

Paula Deen's Pumpkin Roll Cake

I've made this wonderful cake for Thanksgiving a few times since the recipe first appeared on her show.  Its not difficult but it is a bit time consuming as there are steps that must be followed.  The recipe HERE is stupid easy to follow and the results are always stellar.

A few tips to make things easier.  The eggs whip up better if they are at room temp, so set them out an hour or so before you are ready to start baking.  As always, if you have a copper mixing bowl to beat the whites do so as the inflate faster and better than any other bowl.

The second step of the recipe after the baking is most crucial.  Do be heavy handed with the powdered sugar as that is what keeps the cake from sticking to the tea towel.  Bring out your asbestos fingers and work with the cake while it is hot fresh from the oven as the recipe instructs.  I made the fatal mistake of thinking I knew better and let the cake cool  to the touch once and had a mess, the cake didn't roll rather cracked and fell apart on me.

I used Libby's canned pumpkin as it is 100% pure pumpkin, not a blend with butternut squash or other squash like some of the cheaper off brands can be.  Why the store bought this year?  Well I accidentally scorched the pumpkin I was putting up for just this purpose while stuck on a phone call a few weeks ago. *Sad face*,

Happy Thanksgiving all!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Butter Poached Lobster

I've "heard" that lobster has dropped in price.  Locally here in my corner of L.A, not that much.  My local market did have 4oz tails on sale this week so I grabbed a few.  I decided to replicate "Butter Poached Lobster" that we had on our anniversary at Tom Colicchio's Craftsteak last year.  The efforts were worth it as the lobsters natural sweetness shines when it is poached in butter much more so than when you just boil, grill or broil it. Simple ingredients simply prepared. Total success.

I did some research on the web and found that the butter used to poach isn't just melting the butter but rather creating a "Beurre Monte" or "Monte Beurre" butter sauce depending on the source you are looking at.  You use either unsalted butter or ghee a clarified butter.  I opted for the whole butter version as that is the most commonly used in the recipes I reviewed.

The sauce is tricky in that you have to whisk constantly over a low flame.  You can't allow the heat to break 190F or it will begin to break apart.  Letting it come to a boil you have lost it and need to start over.  I used my smallest burner and brought the water to a boil first, then reduced the heat to lowest setting and started whisking in the butter.  It worked for me.

After the lobster has been poached, you can strain the butter and use it for other cooking like sauteing or tossing in freshly steamed veggies.  Nothing goes to waste.

Another important step that appeared in a lot of the recipes I reviewed included par-cooking the lobster to make it easier to remove from the shell in one piece.  I used that step to minimize the waste and ensure I got every luscious morsel.  It is important to have this pre-cooking done prior to starting your butter poaching liquid as turning your back on the butter for even a second you run the risk of the sauce breaking.

Butter Poached Lobster

  • 1 lb small lobster tails
  • 1 lb unsalted butter cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 T water

Prepare a bowl with water and ice.  In a large pan bring 2 quarts water to a boil.  Add lobster tails and cook 2 minutes.  Remove and plunge in ice water to stop the cooking.  Cutting down the back of the lobster tail make a slit from stem to stern.  Split open the shell and extract the lobster meat.  Set aside while making butter poaching sauce.

In sauce pan add water and bring to boil. Just as bubble start reduce heat to low and start adding butter 1 cube at a time.  Whisk constantly and add butter one cube at a time when the previous one has melted. Whisk constantly to maintain the emulsion.

When all the butter has been incorporated add the lobster.  Maintain low heat and do not allow to boil.  Poach the lobster in the butter 4-5 minutes until cooked through and still tender.  Stir while poaching to maintain the emulsion and ensure good coverage of the lobster with the butter.  When done remove and plate!

Serve over a rice pilaf.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Stilton Souffle

 Nothing has a more daunting reputation than the humble souffle for complexity and prone to failure.  I blogged it a while back that I found a recipe that was pretty fool proof and I've been experimenting away with it.  There is nothing quite like the lighter than air puffiness of a souffle paired with a salad for a nice light meal like on "Meatless Monday" that we celebrate around here.

It is actually fairly easy in terms of steps that one takes.  The key is being organized and having your pots pans and bowls all lined up ready to go as each step is completed so you can move to the next phase.

As always, if you have a copper bowl use it for whipping the egg whites as that allows them to reach greater volume faster than other bowls due to some sort of reaction between the metal and the whites.  If you don't have a copper bowl I'd suggest you track one down as the results are so much better than what you get from  other bowls.  I got mine at Tuesday Morning for $20 a couple of years ago and they always have some sort of copper selection on hand there.

I use Stilton instead of other blue cheeses as I like the flavor better.  Its not quite as pungent as others and has an almost sweet after taste.  It also has a very creamy texture that melts better.  Of course if you can't find Stilton you could substitute Gorgonzola Dulce (another creamy style blue cheese), or any other blue you can find.

Stilton Souffle

  • 4 egg whites
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3T flour
  • 1 T water
  • 1/2 t Dijon style mustard
  • 1/8 t nutmeg
  • 1/4 t cream of tartar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 oz Stilton - crumbled
  • butter and flour for dusting souffle pan

Heat oven to 475F.  Set oven rack to lowest setting in oven.

In small bowl combine egg yolks, water, flour, mustard, nutmeg, salt and pepper whisking until smooth.

In small sauce pan over medium heat slowly heat milk to a boil.

Just before the milk comes to a boil remove 1/4 cup and add to yolk mixture whisking hard and fast to prevent scrambling the mixture to temper it.  When milk starts to boil, remove from heat and slowly whisk it all into the egg yolk mixture.

Add yolk mixture back to sauce pan and over medium heat bring to a boil. Whisk constantly and rotate pan to ensure you are whisking entire mixture.  Whisk until mixture is smooth and shiny and starts to bubble.

Reduce heat to low and whisk in the crumbled Stilton a few pieces at a time until smooth.  Once all cheese is whisked in remove from heat to cool a bit.

Combine egg whites and cream of tartar.  Beat on low for a minute to incorporate the tartar into the whites, beat on high until stiff peaks form.

Stir in 1/3 of the whipped whites into the yolk mixture to lighten the mixture.  Pour yolk base into the remaining egg whites and gently fold in taking care not to deflate them.  (This is the only tricky phase of the whole souffle but if you take your time and do it slowly you will keep the volume...don't beat it be gentle).

Butter and lightly dust the souffle mold with flour, shaking out excess flour.  Pour in the souffle mixture.  Bake at 475F for 5 minutes.  Reduce heat to 425F and bake another 7-10 minutes until the souffle is well browned and puffed up over the edge of the dish.   Serve immediately.

Just a quick note to my readers.  Apologies for the lack of posts the last few months.  I've been dealing with daily migraines that traditional medicine IE heavy pharmaceuticals just couldn't bring to a stop.  Just recently my health plan sent me to an acupuncturist which miraculously brought about an end to the migraines.  Now that they are under control my energy, memory and ambition has returned....so will the blogging.

Friday, August 10, 2012

A new toy for me and Mocha Sorbet

I've wanted it for years and I broke down.  Between birthday money and a gift card or two burning a whole in my pocket I got it.  An Ice Cream maker.  Oh the goodies in store with that magical beast!

My first crack at it was the "Dark Chocolate Sorbet" recipe that came with my new toy.  It was pretty awesome all by itself.  But I got to thinking, hmmmm what could make it better?  Why use coffee instead of water and make it mocha, after all coffee and chocolate play together well any way so it was worth a try.  My gawd was it good.

I used Fresh and Easy's French Roast Decaf.  Any French roast would be fine as that deep dark roast has a lot of flavor behind it.  I used decaf just in case the kids would like it to prevent them from getting all buzzed.

I used simple sea salt, fleur de sel for purity of flavor.

I used Ghiradelli cocoa powder, but any good quality cocoa powder will work.

The recipe here is for a 1 1/2 quart ice cream maker like the one I just got.  You can adjust this to fit your ice cream maker by doubling or halving.

Mocha Sorbet

  • 3 cups coffee
  • 1 2/3 c sugar
  • pinch of salt 
  • 1 2/3 c cocoa, sifted
  • 1 t vanilla extract

In sauce pan heat coffee and sugar until all sugar is dissolved and you have a simple syrup.  Off the heat gradually add in cocoa powder stirring constantly with a whisk until all is Incorporated and the mixture is smooth.  Pour through strainer to insure no lumps.  Chill in covered bowl in refrigerator 2-3 hours or overnight until mixture is cold.

Pour mixture into ice cream maker and follow manufacturers directions.  In about 15-20 the Mocha Sorbet will be ready.  If you want it firmer, spoon off into a lidded container and freeze a couple of hours.  (I actually prefer the firmer version).

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

McDonald's not so secret sauce

All these years I thought it was something simple like ketchup that made it that signature orangey-red.  Its not but you have to follow through the video to see what it really is!  Actually the video shows you how to make a Big Mac at home, which is alright too.  (Color me funny but I prefer the Carl's Jr Western Bacon Cheeseburger over the Big Mac 'cause its char-broiled not fried).

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Meatless Monday on a Tuesday

So I was too busy to cook Monday and did our Meatless day on Tuesday...shoot me.

Ratatouille is a French dish that is stewed veggies that I twisted up oven roasted instead.  Traditionally it is served over bread or some protein like fish.  I opted to serve it over cooked Bulgar wheat keeping with the whole healthy meatless theme.  The nice thing about ratatouille is that there is no recipe Per Se rather you  grab what ever veggies are looking good that day in the groc and go from there.  I am certain I have some French Grandmother wagging her finger at me for what I did but what the heck...it's tasty and it quite yummy

To ensure your veggies all cook evenly cut them about the same size, here I opted for about a 1 inch dice.

Bulgar wheat falls in the stupid easy category of prep.  1 cup of the Bulgar wheat in a bowl.  Add 1 3/4 c boiling water or stock.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and let set 15 minutes.  Fluff with fork to serve.
Oven Roasted Ratatouille

  • 1 medium eggplant diced
  • 6 Roma tomatoes diced
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 medium zucchini diced
  • 1 Crookneck squash diced
  • 1 medium sweet onion diced
  • salt 
  • pepper
  • 2 t thyme
  • 2 4 olive oil
Add diced veggies to bowl.  Toss with thyme and olive oil and spread on baking sheet.  Season with salt and pepper.  Bake in 425F oven 40-45 minutes until veggies are starting to turn golden brown.  (If your oven has convection cycle use 400F and bake 30-35 minutes until veggies turn golden brown).

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Meatless Monday...Veggie Curry

We've been doing a meatless dish a week here for a while.  Now we've decided to just pick a day to go meatless and be a little healthier in the process.  Part of our "what can we do to live in a healthier way" mindset for a while.  Why meatless...a lot of health reasons, not that this confirmed omnivore has any intentions of going vegan or vegetarian anytime soon.  Its just about balance and making sure we get enough fiber and veggies into our system each week.

I happen to have been doing a lot of curry type stuff of late.  The fun stuff with curry is there is no right nor wrong way to do it, there are as many variations as there are Indian grandmothers out there.  Pick and chose your favorite veggies, curries, spices and vary according to your own personal taste.

I served this with Garam Masala Rice...which is just rice made with a teaspoon of Garam Masala spice blend added to the rice.  And this wasn't exactly vegetarian as I cheated and used chicken broth, you can use veggie broth if you have some lying around, or just use plain water.

Veggie Curry 

  • 1 onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 bell pepper chopped
  • 1 red jalapeno minced
  • 1 small head cauliflower chopped
  • 1 zucchini chopped
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 can baby corn
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 T curry powder
  • 1 T Fennel Seed
  • 1 T Cumin
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2T olive oil

In large sauce pan add olive oil and heat over medium high heat.  Add onion, bell pepper, jalapeno, fennel seed, cumin and cook until onion is translucent.  Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer.  Add remaining ingredients.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to boil then reduce heat.  Cover and simmer until veggies are tender crisp about 15-20 minutes.  Serve over rice.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Blueberry Rhubarb Crisp

I know I have ranted about blueberries in the past, but if you can't pick your own wild buy the frozen wild from either Trader Joe's or Safeway's "O" brand.  Do not buy those dreadful grape sized flavorless gritty things that the markets try to pass off as blueberries, you are doing yourself a grave disservice if you do.  Call me a blueberry snob, I fit the profile.

That said, Rhubarb is in season.  That is one of those love it or hate it plant materials.  I love it. I remember getting a bit stalk as a kid and a bowl of sugar and eating it raw as a kid on my grandma's farm.  It was quite the treat.  And the things she would bake up with it were simply amazing and whenever I make it now it brings me right back to their kitchens.

Rhubarb is a very tart, stringy and tough stalk.  It does need to be pre-cooked, or at least that is how I remember it being done as a kid.  As it is very acrid I'd suggest you use a non-reactive pan when cooking it so you don't pick up any metallic aftertastes. Pre-cooking also tenderizes it so it will be perfectly tender to the tooth in your baked goods.

Blueberry Rhubarb Crisp

  • 3 stalks (about 2 c) diced rhubarb
  • 1 12 oz package frozen wild blueberry
  • 1 c water
  • 1 c sugar
  • 2 T corn starch
  • 1 1/2 c oat meal
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1/4t cinnamon
  • 1/2 c butter melted

Combine rhubarb, sugar and water in sauce pan.  Bring to boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Simmer 5 minutes.  Remove from heat, cover and cool to room temperature.
Toss blueberries with corn starch.  Fold in rhubarb mixture.  Put into an 8"X8" baking pan
In mixing bowl with paddle attachment mix oat meal, flour,cinnamon and brown sugar until blended.  Slowly pour in butter with mixer on slow speed.  Mix until it resembles course sand.  Sprinkle mixture over fruit.  Put in 350F oven and bake 35-40 minutes until bubbly and top is browned.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Breakfast Pizza...just don't call it "Quiche" in my house

Call it a "Breakfast Pizza" and I get 100% compliance when it comes to eating it and raves at the brunch table.  Call it a "quiche" and oddly only the lovely Mrs and I will eat it.  Go figure, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, sounds like a duck...

Breakfast Pizza

1 package crescent rolls
2 packages breakfast sausage
5 strips bacon
2 cups mixed shredded cheese blend
6 eggs 
1 cup heavy whipping cream
pinch cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 350F

Sprtiz 13X9 baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Roll out the crescent rolls long wise in the pan.  pinch to seal the edges.

Cook the sausage and bacon.  Cut to bite size pieces and sprinkle over the dough.  Sprinkle cheese evenly over the meet. Combine egg, whipping cream, salt, pepper and pinch of cayenne.  Pour evenly over the meat and cheese.

Place in preheated oven and bake 30-40  minutes until eggs are set and center tests clean with a tooth pick.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Cocktail du jour - the Sidecar Martini

Ah...I love a good classic cocktail.  The Sidecar Martini fits the bill for me.  Just the right blend of sweet and sour and oomph.
I use Korbel brandy, my brandy of choice for something like 23 years every since I toured their facility on our honey moon back in the day.  Its a pretty marvey moderately priced brandy that is smooth as silk.
I use the real deal Cointreau for the orange liqueur.  It too is perfectly smooth and orangey with no funky aftertaste that the lesser brands will leave you with.  Worth the splurge, plus it makes for the perfect Margarita. Stick with the best when making classic cocktails.
I use Meyer Lemons for the juice...mainly because I have a tree that creates quite the booty this time of year, but have used lesser Ponderosa that you usually find in the grocs to equal success.  Just don't buy those from concentrate plastic squeeze bottles.  Fresh is best.
This recipe makes a small pitcher enough for 4 Sidecars.

Sidecar Martini

  • 1 Cup Korbel Brandy
  • 1/2 C Cointreau
  • 1/4 C fresh squeezed lemon Juice
  • lemon peel and maraschino cherry for garnish
  • sugar

Combine liquors and lemon juice and stir well.  Chill before serving.
Using vegetable peeler peel a strip of zest from lemon.  Skewer peel strip with cherry.  Cut lemon.  Rub lemon half on rim of glass and dip in sugar to coat.  Pour in chilled Sidecar mix.  Serve and enjoy!

ZOMG TV Chefs to the Rescue for a dinner party

I was totally not going to use my dinner guests as guinea pigs for test recipes so I opted to go with what looked good on TV this week or in my recipe archive of things I had been meaning to try.  For the former it was Cauliflower Gratin from Laura Calder whom I adore on Cooking TVs French Food at Home.  For the latter it was Alton Brown's Molasses and Coffee Pork Chops that served as the protein for the event.

A couple of things on the pork chops.  I didn't have ground ginger so I opted for fresh ginger that I always have on hand. I used a microplane to prep the ginger for the marinade. A caveat too, since you do have molasses and apple cider vinegar in the marinade that you reduce down to a glaze for the chops after they are grilled use a non-reactive sauce pan to reduce the marinade.  That would be a stainless steel  or stainless steel lined sauce pot to prevent picking up a metallic aftertaste in the glaze.
In the end my dinner guests were so impressed with the meal I sent them home with the recipes so they can duplicate the results at home for themselves.  Do click the links and try it sometime, they are very easy to do and the results are pretty amazing.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Things we're working on in fraz's kitchen

Sometimes things just flow right out of the kitchen, other times it takes a few tries.  I have a few things going on these days in the kitchen that will eventually make it here.

First off I am trying to top a brownie with a 7 layer bar....sometimes called a magic cookie bar depending where you are in the country.  I thought how cool would it be to switch out the graham cracker crust for a brownie.  First attempt I wound up burning the brownie base before the topping turned to caramel.  I'm stubborn and will get it to work, have no fear.

Next thing I am working on is finding yet another use for all those Meyer lemons I have laying about.  Don't get me wrong, lemon bars are a hit around here, but am thinking lemon cheese cake bars with a cheese cake layer on top of the lemon curd would be fun.  First attempt I got a funky cheesy lemony topping that didn't quite work.  Tasted fine but the texture was wrong.  Will get it right eventually and blog it here too.

Lastly I lost my carrot cake recipe given to me by my friend Dee Dallaire from Phoenix from when I lived there back in the mid-80's.  Oh noes.  I need it for this Friday for a dinner party I am hosting.  Either gotta find it or try to recreate it from memory.  All I remember was that it included pineapple to tart it up...or was that another recipe?  Yikes.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

French Yogurt Cake...not mine but quite tasty

You have to run off to page 30 of the May issue of Bon Appetite for the recipe for this cake.  Its really quite simple to make and tasty.  Perfect density and crumb with the most heavenly lemony taste to it...of course I may be biased as I used Meyer lemons off my fresh off my tree that makes all the world of difference.  Recipe HERE.  (Sorry about the linkage but I just don't reprint copyrighted material...its how I roll).

A couple of prep notes.  2 medium lemons will yield the tablespoon of zest needed for the recipe.

Another shortcut in the prep is use one of those mini food processors for the step where you mix the zest and sugar until the sugar is "wet".  It will take a while by hand, with the mini food processor you will be done in seconds and added bonus is you will be ensured that your zest is fine enough.

Greek yogurt is called for in this recipe.  It is used to substitute out a lot of the butter typically found in a pound cake.  It is appearing in grocery stores in the LA area more frequently now so its worth the effort to hunt it down.  You can't substitute regular yogurt as the stuff is very thick compared to what we typically get.  An 8 oz container will yield just about exactly 3/4 cup needed for this recipe.

I also didn't use regular vanilla in this recipe.  I used my homemade stuff which is brandy based rather than store bought bourbon vanilla.  I like the subtle sweet smoky flavor the brandy imparts to the vanilla bean.

The recipe calls for kosher salt.  By all means use it instead of the usual iodized table salt...that stuff is too salty tasting with a metallic aftertaste that I fear would alter the final outcome of this recipe.  Invest in a box if you don't already have it in your pantry.

This cake is really good.  I like it straight up.  My wife likes it with a little fruit and whipped cream on the side, regardless of how you like it it is quite tasty and worth the effort to make it from scratch.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Shrimp Scampi

This is a family favorite...at least among the shrimp eaters among us.  Just the right amount of sweet, heat and tart from the lemon.  Lemon you say?  Yup...I'm blessed or cursed with a nice sized Meyer Lemon tree that leaves me with quite the bounty that must be used in the spring.  Cooking with lemons adds a brightness to dishes that I really like.  Meyer lemons have an interesting almost floral note to their juice that really adds an extra dimension of flavor to the dish that a regular lemon can't.  If you can't find a Meyer lemon by all means substitute with a regular lemon.

One caveat with this dish.  It cooks up fast and you don't want to overcook the shrimp so timing is everything. I start the sauce when I toss in the Angel Hair Pasta which takes all of 5 minutes to cook.  IF you are using bigger pasta such as a linguine set your timer to start the sauce the last 5 minutes of the cooking time.

It is really important to salt your pasta water to the same degree as sea water.  That means about a tablespoon of salt (I use kosher salt as it has less of a metallic taste) for the couple of quarts of water used to make the pasta.  It is the only way you'll get the pasta seasoned properly.

I buy the shrimp with their shell still on as they tend to stay fresher that way longer.  I save the shells and tails to make Shrimp Stock for other dishes like my Shrimp Chowder.

Before draining your pasta scoop out some of the starchy pasta water.  That little bit of starch will go a long way towards making the silky smooth sauce that will coat the pasta.

Shrimp Scampi

  • 2 Lbs peeled and de-veined shrimp
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 - 1/2 t red pepper flakes
  • 2 T parsley minced
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup pasta water.
  • 12 ounces Angel Hair Pasta

Put water on to boil.  Add salt.  Add pasta and set time to cook to al dente.

Over medium high heat melt butter.  Sautee garlic and red pepper flake 1 minute being careful to stir constantly so as to not burn garlic. Add juice and zest of lemon.  Add white wine.  Bring to simmer and then add shrimp.  Stir the shrimp to ensure all cook evenly, about 3-4 minutes.  When pasta is done scoop out 1/2 c pasta water and add to the shrimp.

Drain the pasta.  Add Pasta and parsley to the shrimp and stir to evenly coat the pasta with the sauce. 

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Leeks float and dirt doesn't

It dawned on me the other day that I didn't explain one simple fact about leeks.  They need special cleaning as the way they grow they trap dirt in-between the layers of leaves.  The best way to clean them I picked up on foodTV, don't ask me from which chef as I don't remember, is to put them in a large bowl of water.  Agitate them lightly with your hand to losen the rings and let the dirt fall down.  After agitating them let them rest for just a few seconds for the dirt to fall to the bottom of the bowl and voila you have clean leeks to saute and use for your dish.

Call this a lesson in cooking 101.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Potato Leek soup

This righteous and tasty soup is easy to make, but the cutting and dicing is laborious.  I don't mind the dicing as it puts me in a relaxing zen space as I cut through all the spuds.  I use a 1/2 inch dice as those that don't get whizzed I like to fit on a spoon.

Hat tip to my friend Ruth who found the OCD cutting board.  This board is for those who haven't figured out  how to do the various dice and make them fit a prescribed size that is often referred to by name rather than some metric.  I don't have one, but looked the board and learned that the proper name for the 1/2" dice is a "batonnet".  Who knew that one?  I'll probably continue to refer to it as a "1/2 inch dice" to make it easier on whomever stumbles upon this little blog.

Potato Leek Soup

  • 6 cups (approx 1 1/2 lbs) Rose potatoes, 1/2" dice
  • 2 leeks thinly sliced
  • 1/4 c butter
  • 1 T dill weed
  • 2 T parsley
  • 2 14 oz cans chicken broth
  • salt 
  • pepper
  • asiago cheese
  • sliced spring onion

In large sauce pot add butter, potato and leek.  Over medium heat sweat until the leeks are translucent, about 5-10 minutes.  Add chicken broth and herbs.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.  Place 2/3 of soup mixture in blender and whiz until smooth.  Return to sauce pan, stir in well and bring to simmer again.  Serve hot with a garnish of asiago cheese and spring onion.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Pasta Salad

I have a small party that I am putting side dishes together for.  Since its an afternoon party with sandwiches catered I was left with the task of making sides.  Funny how that happens, eh?

One suggestion was a pasta salad.  I thought to my self, "self what can you do different other than just boiling pasta"?  I came up with a few ideas.  Pasta salads usually missing some crunch.  Italians use nuts to add crunch and another level of flavor to pesto, why not take that trick and add to the pasta salad?  I did and it worked out pretty good if I say so myself.

For the Salad dressing I opted to grab the Ken's Steak House Italian with Romano cheese.  Adds that nice cheesy salty flavor you get with pesto as well.  Gotta keep the flavor profile string moving along.

Pasta Salad

  • 12 oz rainbow rotini pasta cooked according to package directions
  • 4 oz pepperoni sliced and chopped
  • 1 bunch spring onions thinly sliced
  • 8 oz cherry tomatoes
  • 3/4 c chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 c frozen peas
  • Italian Salad Dressing with Cheese to taste
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste

Take your cooked and cooled pasta.  Add the pepperoni, onions, tomato, walnut and peas.  Toss lightly and then add about 1/2 c salad dressing and toss again to coat.  Add more salad dressing if it appears to light for your tastes.  Add salt and pepper to taste as needed.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A little poached chicken with Herbs de Provence

Moving back to the French theme...this is another iteration of the wine poached chicken that I blogged a couple of weeks ago.  I've seen/heard so much about Herbs de Provence on TV I grabbed a bottle and decided to give it a try with a variation of the wine poached chicken.  I liked it as well as the original version but it is pretty different.

Another foodie item that has made the rounds on the cooking shows is creme fraiche which a French version of cultured cream not unlike sour cream but without the sharp tang of sour cream.  Its actually very silky on the tongue and will appear in a few more recipes as I move forward playing around with it in the coming weeks.  It actually is found in a few of the local stores here in LA so it is readily available.  I found it at Fresh and Easy Neighborhood Market and can be found at Trader Joes and Whole Paycheck Whole Foods as well.

Chicken Poached in Herbs de Provence

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 2 cups white wine (I used Chardonnay)
  • 1 T Herbs de Provence
  • 1 T dried onion flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 7.5 oz creme fraiche

Place chicken breasts in a large skillet with lid.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle with Herbs de Provence and dried onion flakes.  Pour in wine.  Bring to boil then reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook 20 minutes, turning chicken breasts over half way through the cooking.  (The poaching liquid won't cover the breasts completely but that is fine).
When done cooking remove breasts and increase heat to high to bring the poaching liquid to a boil.  Cook 3-5 minute over high heat until reduced to only a couple of tablespoons of liquid. Reduce heat and stir in creme fraiche until dissolved. Return chicken to the sauce and simmer a couple of minutes until breasts are rewarmed.  Serve over rice.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Sticky Asian Style Short Ribs

It started out to be such a simple recipe when my wife spotted in a magazine.  It sounded tasty enough so we clipped the article and kept it for reference.  Oddly when I went to actually make it I discovered it called for an ingredient I have never ever seen...pre-cooked beef short ribs.  WTH...with gas over $4/gallon and rising I wasn't about to take off chasing down that ingredient when I had a nice package of Costco boneless beef short ribs ready to go at the house.

So...I next took a look at the "sticky glaze" recipe, saw where it could be improved and used that as the basis for the braise for the short ribs.  Same flavor profile as the glaze was put into the braising liquid and voila...I had my own "pre-cooked" ribs all set to go for the rest of the recipe.

The sticky glazed ribs I also changed up the recipe enough to call it my own.  Let's face it garlic is usually a key component in Asian style cooking and just couldn't make this without adding that wonderful garlicky heat to the glaze and braising liquid.

Speaking of the braise a little tip for you when it comes to the zest of the orange.  Use a vegetable peeler to avoid getting any of the pith in the braise.  It will keep that bitter element out and make it possible to pull out the ribs when done without any extra zest sticking to the ribs making it too "orangey".

Party planning. Yup this would be great for a party.  Cook through the braising and simply put them on a sheet pan until you are ready to glaze and bake off to warm them.  Saves you kitchen time when you should be entertaining your guests.

These are really, really tasty ribs once you are done.  Serve over rice cooked in broth for a bit more flavor, add in some steamed snow peas and you have a meal!

Sticky Asian Style Short Ribs
4 lbs boneless beef short ribs
pepper to taste
2 T vegetable oil
1 T sesame oil
1 onion sliced.
Braising liquid
4 c water
4 t better than bouillon beef flavor
6 cloves garlic
zest of one orange
juice of two oranges.
1/4 c soy sauce
1 T fish sauce
Sticky Glaze
1/3 c orange marmalade
1/3 c hoisson sauce
1 glove garlic minced on microplane
1 1/2 t fresh ginger minced on microplane
1 T soy sauce

Preheat oven to 325F.
In large braising pan heat oils over medium high heat.  Pepper the beef to taste.  Sear all sides until deep golden brown.  Remove beef and add onion cooking until translucent.  Add water and deglaze bottom of pan.  Add braising liquid ingredients.  Return beef to pan.  Cover and bake 1 1/2 hours until fork tender.

Prepare glaze by adding all ingredients to a small bowl and whisk until well blended.

Remove short ribs from braising liquid, discard the liquid.  Place ribs on sheet pan.  Increase oven to 350F.
Brush on glaze to the short ribs.  Bake in oven 15 minutes.  Serve hot with Rice.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Bleu Cheese Souffle

You will need to get your own copy of "French Classics Made Easy" for the recipe.  It is just a little labor intensive but the book does break it down into simple easy to follow steps.  (I just *can't* violate copyright laws).

I can give you a spoiler about their souffle helps and hints.  Unlike the traditional variations author Richard Grausman introduces tiny, as in tablespoon amounts of starch like good old all purpose flour to stabilize the base mixture so your souffle can't fail.  It works.  I'll admit I was just a little apprehensive about attempting a souffle after years of cartoons and sitcoms showing it failing to rise, or over rising and falling immediately.  Takin' the cue from the dessert folks that little bit of starch takes the error factor away.

Invest in a decent kitchen scale will help with his recipes as well.  In true foody fashion a lot of measurements are by weight in this cookbook rather than dry measure.  Its a result of taking metric recipes and keeping them accurate to how the original was done.  I picked my scale up at a restaurant supply store for under $50 on sale...its an electric digital read out which supposedly is more accurate.  Still $50 isn't bad.

We served this souffle up with a salad of romaine, bears and bleu cheese in a light balsamic vinaigrette on the side.  Add in the bottle of wine to go with it and it was a right tasty romantic dinner.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Angel Biscuits

I almost forgot about these biscuits.  I stumbled across the recipe from High School "Men's Contemporary Living" class that I took my senior year.

Angel Biscuits are an interesting cross between classic baking powder biscuits and a yeast roll.  You pretty much get the best of both worlds, the salty of the powder biscuit with that heady slightly sweet yeasty flavor.  Its all pretty terrific.  Don't worry that it makes a big batch...the dough can be saved for up to 2 week in the fridge and baked off in quantities as needed.

The recipe calls for shortening...I think we used real lard back in the day, but I opt in now for a bit more heart friendly Crisco butter flavor.  You can use whatever shortening you prefer, just keep in mind that my option has a nice buttery flavor before you even butter the warm roll.

Angel Biscuits

  • 5 C flour
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 3 T baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 c shortening
  • 1 pkg dry yeast
  • 1/4 c warm water
  • 2 c buttermilk

Dissolve yeast in water.  Let proof 5 minutes.  Sift together dry ingredients.  Cut in shortening.
Mix yeast and buttermilk.  Add to dry ingredients and mix well.  Knead several times until it becomes an elastic ball.  Put into oiled bowl, covered and let sit in warm place at least 2 hours.  
Slice off what you will need for the batch you are making.  Place on lightly floured board and roll out to 1/2" thickness.  Cut with floured biscuit cutter.

Bake in preheated 400F oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Unused dough can be kept for up to 2 weeks in covered bowl in refrigerator.

Monday, January 23, 2012

What I have been reading lately...

I mentioned this book a few weeks ago.  As promised here is my quick take on the book.  "French Classics Made Easy" is the title.

Loved it.

From the idea for the Poached Chicken and Tarragon I blogged a couple of weeks ago to actual recipes such as the 10 minute souffle that I intend to make it was a very useful book.  I even learned a few new bits of trivia from this book.  Things such as Potatoes Dauphinoise is named after the Dauphine region of France (think their Alps) where it originated.

It is very well written in simple easy to follow numerated steps.  Each recipe has notes on variations or unusual ingredients or why a step was taken.  Too easy to not screw it up which makes his simplified, lower in calorie recipes so much easier to do than the originals.

Although I can't reprint recipes from the book direct, if I get an inspiration for a flavor profile or a new technique I'll certainly point you back to this book.  I'm funny that way...I get robbed enough of copyrighted material I certainly won't do it to someone else...so buy the book already.

The book also has a useful chart for converting metric to our English measurements.  Included on that chart page is conversion from F to C to "gas mark" that the brits use. He even implores you to take the time and actually just buy a scale to help you with more accurate measurements for the "science of baking".

This book is well worth the $20 I paid for it at Surfas.  I wish they had the book available for purchase online, but they don't so use it as an excuse to pop in on them at their store in Culver City. Their street addy is: 8777 Washington Boulevard, Culver City, CA

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Costco find that brings the taste of summer grilling

I bought this a while back at Costco and absolutely love the stuff.  It is their house label "Sweet Mesquite Seasoning".  It does just what it says it does.  It brings a marvelous sweet mesquite flavor to whatever you use it on.  It is a blend of salt, pepper, dried chiles, onion, garlic and a few other spices that you simply sprinkle on as a dry rub and let it marinate a few minutes before you grill pan it, bake it or whatever.

This stuff is seriously good and completely justifies one cost of Costco membership.

I've used this often on Salmon steaks as it brings out a pretty terrific flavor to them.  I either use the grill pan with them or micro-roast depending on how much time I have to fuss with dinner on a given day.  Either way you wind up with a nicely "grilled tasting" mesquite flavor without the hassle of breaking out the barbecue, especially nice to have around in winter when raining makes real grilling not an option.  Unless of course you are some sort of masochist that loves standing in a cold rain with an umbrella hoping for the authentic taste.

Another great use is with thick cut pork chops that you start on the grill pan and finish up in the oven to make sure the center is cooked to a lovely medium.  (I'm old school pork here and just can't quite stomach it at rare or even med-rare).  You start with thick cut pork chops, I prefer boneless.  Sprinkle on the "Sweet Mesquite Seasoning" on both sides and let set for 30 minutes. To do it on the grill pan all you have to do is cook one side on med-high for 4-5 minutes, turn over then toss in a 350F oven for 20 minutes to finish them off.  You get perfectly cooked and still moist pork chops with no worry about it being too rare.

I also have a great cocktail party appetizer I make with this seasoning that I call a Salmon Mousse.  Take 1 salmon steak cooked with the "Sweet Mesquite Seasoning" and using a fork flake it until it is all nice and fluffy.  Take 2 8oz packages of room temp Cream Cheese and 1/2 cup sour cream.  Whip until fluffy, fold in the flaked salmon and 2 teaspoons of the "Sweet Mesquite Seasoning".  Serve with crackers or french bread rounds.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Poached Chicken and Tarragon

I'm reading the most interesting cook book right now and it was the inspiration for this recipe.  Inspiration in that I took the basics and changed it up to make it my own.  (When done with it will do a quick review here and scan the cover etc., so you can track it down for your own use).

For starters, and I've said it before, I'm not the biggest fan of this domesticated bird, mostly because it lacks any real flavor of its own and bad experiences with it while at KFC back in High School.   The fam however loves the stuff.  I've figured how how to keep the breasts moist while cooking it up, I've even figured out that it really is just a flavor delivery device that loves to be sauced.

A couple of things with this recipe.  At the end its really important that you cook the residual poaching liquid down to a few tablespoons before adding the heavy cream.  Not doing so will leave you with a runny sauce.  And yes, this is calling for heavy cream to finish up the sauce as this is a French inspired recipe.  Sometimes its fun to be indulgent and sauce up with the heavy cream.  Not something one should do every day, but once a month or so its good for the soul to do it with little harm to ones overall diet.

For the wine in the poaching liquid I used a dry white we had left over from the night before.  It was a Chardonnay.  I've heard and learned over the years one should use a wine you'd drink instead of the "cooking" wines you buy at the grocery stores.  The flavor really is so much better and its not sullied with extra salt etc.,.

Poached Chicken and Tarragon

  • 4 large chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 2 C dry white wine
  • 1 T dried tarragon
  • 2 t onion salt
  • 1 t fresh ground pepper
  • 1 c heavy cream

In large covered skillet add the chicken breasts.   Sprinkle on onion salt, pepper and tarragon.  Pour in wine.  Add cover.  Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.  Turn chicken once during the poaching. Don't worry that the poaching liquid doesn't completely immerse the chicken.

Remove chicken from pan and set aside.  Increase heat and boil down the poaching liquid until reduced to a few tablespoons.  Add heavy cream and whisk in.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes uncovered to thicken.  Return breasts to the sauce and heat through.  

Serve over rice with some sauce spooned over the chicken.