Thursday, April 30, 2009

Some things you just can't escape


There are somethings in life that you just can't escape, the fact that your bills won't magically pay themselves and you do have to go to work, the fact that on a day you really need to be sunny its rainy in cold and for me that fact that no matter what you do everyone in your life loves strawberries even though I'm allergic to them. Yes that is right, I'll take the gasps now about how good they are and how much I'm missing out but guess what people its not by choice. I love how strawberries smell and how much everyone in my family loves them. So I do cook and bake with them because thank goodness I'm only allergic when I eat them not just handle them. So when I saw a sale on strawberries at the produce market. I bought 3 lbs and figured I would Make P something summery as we are both dying of lack of warm weather. So my mind went immediately to ice cream and to my go to ice cream book, The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz. Honestly if you do not own this book please go and get it, its amazing. So while looking though the pages I saw a custard less ice cream and knew this was for me because I wanted to have it ready for P when he got home not have it sit in the fridge over night cooling. And I will tell you this was one easy ice cream and according to P it was good.



Strawberry Sour Cream Ice Cream from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

1 pound of fresh strawberries, cleaned, hulled and sliced
3/4 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of vodka
1 cup of sour cream
1 cup of heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice

In a bowl place the sliced strawberries, sugar and vodka in a bowl and let them macerate for an hour stirring them every once and a while. In the bowl of a food processor pulse together the strawberries and their liquid with the sour cream, heavy cream and lemon juice and process until it has a few chunks but is mainly smooth. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions.

And Please Rate my Recipe HERE by rolling over the stars!

Friday, April 17, 2009

I have a culinary torch and I'm not afraid to use it


I have way to much stuff. Honestly I'm not ashamed of it either. When it comes to kitchen tools if I see something that looks interesting or I see someone use it on a blog, I typically want it. I might not get everything but I still want it. I have my kitchen full of things that I have maybe used once and 2 stand up storage cabinets full of various items as well. Luckily most of the storage cabinets are full of things I got as presents or were my prize from the Bundts Across America contest. Now somethings were good buys, like my kitchen aid mixer and my 2 all clad pans but some items I don't know if I have ever used them. However that does not stop me from lusting after kitchen items. I think I drive P crazy with all my, oooh and ahhs over cake pans and cooking tools every time we go shopping. So my latest want is this super fancy ice cream maker, because you don't have to pre freeze the bowl at all so you could make a bunch of ice cream in one day. The response I got from P is that I already have an Ice cream maker, which is true I do but you have to freeze the bowl in advance and then you can only make one flavor and then you have to wait for the bowl to freeze again. As you can tell I'm not quite giving up on this one yet! But the reason I tell you all this is that today is my 3 year wedding anniversary and I received a culinary torch as a bridal shower gift and this is the first time I have used it. Sad but true. So I figured I will start using all of the kitchen tools and gadgets I have in hopes that by using them all P will buy me that ice cream maker for my birthday in August! I don't think I'm alone out there with the lusting for more kitchen tools and the lack of usage of ones that you already own, at least I'm hoping I'm not alone. I love this little torch now that it has been un boxed and I know how to fill it with fuel I have a feeling I will be torching food a lot more. And luckily I didn't burn down my house or put any burn marks anywhere on me. And this tart was great and the slight sugar crust was a great addition to the creamy lemon goodness.



Bruleed Lemon Curd Tart

Tart Shell
12 tablespoons butter, at room temperature, save the wrappers for greasing
1/2 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 3/4 cups of AP flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt

Combine the butter and sugar together in a bowl. Add the vanilla. Combine the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix to combine until the dough starts to come together. Dump the dough onto a counter dusted with flour and shape into a disk. Press the dough into a 10 inch removable bottom tart pan, making sure that the finished edge is flat. Chill until its firm.

Preheat oven to 350. Butter 1 side of a piece of foil with the butter wrappers and place buttered side down on top of the tart. Fill the foil with pie weights or beans. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and weights then prick the tart all over with a fork, and bake again for 20 to 25 minutes or until light brown. Place on a rack to cool completely.

Lemon Curd
105g of Lemon Juice
72g of sugar
164g of eggs
72g of sugar
206g of butter, cold unsalted, cubed

In a medium saucepan, combine juice and the first amount of sugar. Bring to a simmer. Combine eggs with the second amount of sugar. Temper the eggs with about half of the hot juice mixture and then return the mixture to the pan and continue to cook on a low heat until 165 degrees or until it start to get firm but not when its actually firm. Remove it from the heat and pour into a mixing bowl. Add butter when the mixture has cooled slightly and once most of the butter has been incorporated blend with an immersion blender until smooth but make sure you keep the blender submerged so that you don’t aerate the mixture. Then place in a plastic storage container with plastic wrap pressed against the top of the curd so it does not form a skin. This can be kept in the fridge for a few weeks.

Assembly -
Take the pre baked cooled tart shell and fill it with lemon curd. Spread the lemon curd evenly so that the sugar can form a nice crust. Sprinkle sugar and using a culinary torch caramelize the sugar into a nice crust. Serve immediately.

** I didn't serve it immediately, in fact I put it in the fridge after wards so I could bring it to work the next day and it had cracks all over it. It still tasted great but didn't look as pretty.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Goodness Gracious it's a Great Grilled Cheese

Grilled Cheese was one my favorite things to eat growing up. It was made with Kraft singles and always served with Tomato soup, but now that my tastes have changed I still like grilled cheese just in a more grown up way. So when Kathy from Panini Happy said she was going to have a Grilled Cheese Pageant I knew I had to enter. I love this combination of Smoky bacon, sweet and tart apples and sharp cheddar. And I wouldn't waste anything as good as the rendered fat off of the bacon so that was what I used to coat the bread to grill up nice and brown. But that was just in the essence of not wanting to waste anything it had nothing to do with taste at all. :)


Apple Bacon Grilled Cheese

1 granny smith apple, cored and thinly sliced
8 strips of bacon, fried until crisp
8 pieces of Bread, I used a rustic Italian
3 cups of white sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons of bacon grease

Assembly -

Line up 4 slices of bread and top with some cheese, then layer apple slices, then more cheese then bacon and top with the remaining cheese. Brush both sides with bacon grease and grill either in a skillet or on a panini press until the bread is a nice golden brown and the cheese is melted.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Double Lemony Goodness

I love spring because that means summer is right around the corner and I prefer warm weather to cold. Go figure that I call the Midwest my home because our spring and summer are not as long as much of the rest of the country. None the less I love the warm weather I do get and one of my favorite things growing up was once the weather was nice was getting to go to ladies lunch. My mom would take me and my sister to a little cafe and we would get finger sandwiches, I would always trade my tuna fish one for my mom's cheese one, and there were always scones and lemon curd. So when I think of spring I think of scones and lemon curd, even though back then I wouldn't go near lemon curd at all. I had texture issues with food growing up, heck I still do who am I kidding. So I thought the two would be a perfect start to spring. And why only have one lemon element when you can have two so Lemon Scones and Lemon Curd it is.


Lemon Scones

10 oz of AP Flour
1 3/4 ounces of sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt
4 lemons, zested
4 oz of cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
3/4 cup of heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon of sugar

Preheat oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. Add in the cubed butter and stir to coat the butter with flour. Using a pastry blender cut into the butter until they become the size of small peas. Add in the heavy cream and lemon juice stir to combine. Once it starts to come together into a dough, turn it out onto a floured board and knead it a few times until it completely comes together. Pat the dough into a circle that is about 1 inch thick and cut as desired. I used a big square cookie cutter and then sliced them in half to get nice triangles, but they can be made into any shape. Sprinkle with sugar and bake for 14 to 16 minutes or until they are light golden brown. Cool on a wire rack and serve.

These do not really keep that well so they are best served the same day.

Lemon Curd
105g of Lemon Juice
72g of sugar
164g of eggs
72g of sugar
206g of butter, cold unsalted, cubed


In a medium saucepan, combine juice and the first amount of sugar. Bring to a simmer. Combine eggs with the second amount of sugar. Temper the eggs with about half of the hot juice mixture and then return the mixture to the pan and continue to cook on a low heat until 165 degrees or until it start to get firm but not when its actually firm. Remove it from the heat and pour into a mixing bowl. Add butter when the mixture has cooled slightly and once most of the butter has been incorporated blend with an immersion blender until smooth but make sure you keep the blender submerged so that you don’t aerate the mixture. Then place in a plastic storage container with plastic wrap pressed against the top of the curd so it does not form a skin. This can be kept in the fridge for a few weeks.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Who wouldn't want some Cheesecake


So ever since I made that Bananas Foster Cheesecake Tart I have been on a mission to get my cheesecake fix in a short amount of time. Because who doesn't like a good cheesecake and who wants to wait for cheesecake to cool. So this is my happy medium. It is more cheesecake like than the Bananas Foster one but doesn't take as long to bake or cool. So it works for me. Back to what I said before who doesn't like a good cheesecake, I am always shocked to hear when people don't like cheesecake, because I think it is one of those perfect desserts. I mean what is there not to like, it comes in a million flavors thanks to its versatility and its creamy, dense, rich, I could go on forever because I like it so much. And I'll let you in on a little secret, I used pie dough for a reason. A few weeks back my mom brought over a picture of me when I was little standing on a chair helping make pie or to be more exact helping make the pie crust scraps into our treat we got when ever my mom made pie. She would take all the strips and dust them with cinnamon sugar and bake them in the oven. I loved helping with that because I felt like I was really cooking even though I probably wasn't allowed near the pie before baking. And I have been craving them ever since. But I needed a reason to have pie scraps I wasn't just going to cut up some pie dough, so this tart gave me the perfect opportunity to make these.


Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Tart

1 pie crust, homemade or store bought
10 oz of cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup of sugar
2 eggs
½ teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
3 tablespoons of cinnamon sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unroll pie crust into a 9 in fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press it into the edges and trim off the excess. Prick with a fork all over and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove to let it cool slightly. In a bowl mix the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add in the eggs, salt and vanilla bean paste and mix until combined. Pour into the par baked shell and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar. Bake for another 15 to 20 minutes or until the center no longer jiggles. Let cool completely and refrigerate for at least 1 hours. Or just eat it right away like me because I don’t have self control!

I would top this with fresh berries if they were in season and it would be fantastic but since they aren't cinnamon sugar works just fine for me!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Can you really make Bread in 5 Minutes????


So after hearing all about this Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a day I figured I might as well buy the book and give it a shot. I will tell you I was more than skeptical about this working. There is a reason that I don’t bake bread, it’s a big time consuming pain. First you have to get the yeast to activate, then you have to let it rise, and punch it down, and let it rise, and then bake it and let it cool and then you can eat it. I just don’t have that kind of patience and normally end up cutting into the bread while its hot and making it look like a mangled mess. So 5 minutes and I would be done I did not believe it. So when the book arrived I immediately read what I needed and started to make the dough as they said. And the dough did come together in 5 minutes no kneading necessary and then it has to sit out on the counter and rise a bit but then you stick it in the fridge and let it sit until you are ready to use it. Then you just pull of a hunk and shape it into a boule and let it rise for 30 minutes and bake. Honest it’s that easy. So while my first loaf was baking, my thoughts again went to skepticism, I bet this bread is going to taste like crap, like cardboard or something, it can’t taste good if it’s made this way. So after my bread cooled (yes I waited) I cut a few slices and gave one to P who was intrigued by this bread that came out of the fridge. And let me tell you……It was good! Like really good, I was in shock. So I slathered some homemade lemon curd and blueberry preserves on it and was in heaven! Now I can’t share the recipe for the bread because that is the whole reason for the book so I would suggest you get it and my next bread to make is the brioche.


See I told you it was good!


Sunday, April 5, 2009

You can Do it!


I love risotto. To me is the ultimate comfort food, it has everything you could want. It's warm and cheesy and has vegetables so you can pretend its good for you. But the one thing I find funny is that people are really scared about making risotto, to the point where they will order it in a restaurant and then say man I wish I could make this at home. Well I am here to tell you can. Once you make risotto at your home once you will no longer put it on a pedestal at restaurants. It is extremely versatile, which is what makes it a great dish to master. I remember the first time that I had risotto in a restaurant, I had heard how it takes forever to make and all the time and everything that goes into preparing to make it and it was good, really good but I wasn't afraid of making it, like I am about somethings that restaurants make. So I decided to give it a shot at home. Now I will tell you it does take a while but only about 30 to 45 minutes not the hours I was led to believe, and you do need the special rice. It really makes all the difference because of the way the starches break down. And one final note, if you are a fanatical risotto stirring machine like I am then you will need to have all of the rest of your ingredients prepped before you start. So that you aren't stopping to remove the tails off of the shrimp while the risotto is bubbling away. So give risotto a shot and trust me it will be worth every minute of prep and time to make it.


Springtime Goat Cheese Risotto

4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion, medium dice
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 cups of arborio rice
1 1/2 cups of white wine
2 quarts of chicken stock
1 bunch of asparagus, blanched and cut into thirds
2 cups of frozen peas
1 1/2 pounds of raw shrimp, tails removed
1 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
5 oz of Ile de France goat cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a pan bring chicken stock to a simmer. In a large pot, heat the olive oil and saute onion and garlic over a low heat until they are softened. Add rice and coat the rice with the oil and cook for a few minutes til slightly toasted. Add in the wine and cook until almost all of the liquid is absorbed. Add in ½ of a cup of the simmering chicken stock until most of the liquid is almost completely absorbed. Repeat this until the rice cooks and only has a small bite to it. Add in the asparagus, peas and shrimp and stir to combine. Cook for a few minutes or until the shrimp is pink. Stir in Parmesan cheese and goat cheese and season to taste. I like to stir frequently while making risotto but you can follow any technique you like.