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.