Monday, November 22, 2010

Blini with Caviar

Makes 4 dozen

To make the blini:
2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast (or one ¼ oz envelope)
½ cup warm water
1 cup all-purpose flour
coarse salt
½ cup low-fat buttermilk
1 tbs unsalted butter, melted (plus more for the pan)
½ tsp sugar
2 large eggs, separated

Serve with a dab of crème fraiche and a spoonful of caviar! These can also be served with melted butter, sour cream, smoked fish, and if you wish, strawberry jam.

In a small bowl, sprinkle yeast over water. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

In a small bowl, stir together flour and ½ tsp plus a pinch of salt.

In a large bowl, stir together buttermilk, butter, sugar, and egg yolks; whisk in yeast mixture, then flour mixture. Let stand, covered in a warm place, for 30 minutes.

Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; fold into batter. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat and coat with a thin layer of butter. Add a scant tablespoon batter for each blin (about 6-7 per skillet) and cook, flipping after bubbles appear at the edges and the color turns golden, 1 ½ to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a parchment-lined tray, and let cool for 30 minutes.

Garnish with crème fraiche and caviar.

Make ahead: Blini can be refrigerated for up to 2 days . Warm in a low-temperature oven before serving.

Croustillants (Cheese Crackers)

Serves 6

2 cups (250 g) shredded Comte or Gruyere cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
6 tbs unsalted butter
1 cup (155 g) all-purpose flour
pinch of cayenne pepper
2-3 tbs chopped chives
coarse sea salt

In a food processor, combine cheeses, butter, flour, and cayenne pepper. Process until well combined and crumbly (40-60 seconds).

Transfer mixture to a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log about 2 inches in diameter and 6-7 inches long. Roll the log in the plastic wrap , patting it while you work, so that it forms a smooth, even shape. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or for up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap the dough and slice into rounds about ¼ inch thick. Arrange on 2 ungreased baking sheets, preferably nonstick, spacing the rounds about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle evenly with chives and then with a little salt.

Bake the crackers, 1 sheet at a time, until they are a light golden brown – 10-15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time to ensure even browning. For crispier crackers, bake for up to 3 minutes longer, but do not let the edges brown or the crackers will taste bitter.

Remove from the oven and serve immediately with a light, spicy red wine or with a kir (crème de cassis with dry white wine in a champagne glass; you can also make a kir royal by replacing the white wine with champagne).

Roasted Figs with Goat Cheese Appetizer

I had an amazing figs with the goat cheese and walnuts appetizer last night (at Eno's in the Bishop Arts District in Dallas); I’m feeling inspired! This recipe is from one of my favorite chefs...David Lebovitz. You could do this as an amazing appetizer for Thanksgiving; just cut the tops off and leave the figs whole while baking (which will increase the oven time a little). When finished baking, let the figs cool a little. Then, simply use a melon-baller or a small spoon to scoop out a small bit of the fig on top (reserve for another use, or eat right away). Tuck a little goat cheese into the top of each fig, and finish by pressing a whole or some chopped walnuts on top! Serve warm!

Roasted Figs

serves 6-8

Use a baking dish or pan that will allow you to bake the figs in a single layer. One that is 2 quarts (2l) should do it. Depending on where you live, fresh fig season is near the end of summer and mid-autumn and the best place to find fresh figs is at a farmers market.

1 pound (450g) fresh figs
4-6 branches fresh thyme
2 tablespoons liquor, such as Chartreuse, Pernod, Grand Marnier or Cointreau
1 tablespoon dark or light brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
three 1-inch (3cm) strips of fresh lemon zest

1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC).

2. Slice the touch stem end off the figs and slice each in half lengthwise.

3. Toss the figs in a large baking dish with the thyme, liquor, brown sugar, honey, and lemon zest. Turn the figs so that they are all cut side down in the baking dish, in a single layer.

4. For figs that are softer and juicier, cover the baking dish snugly with foil and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the figs are softened and cooked through.

For figs that are firmer, with less liquid, roast them in the oven, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until cooked through.

5. When done, remove the baking dish from oven, lift off the foil, and let the figs cool completely.

Variation: For more savory figs, replace the liquor with one or two tablespoons balsamic or sherry vinegar.

Storage: Roasted figs can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Shirley Schmidt's Shrimp Cocktail

Cooked and peeled large shrimp, cut into bite sized pieces celery, minced to a medium dice

Mix with a cocktail sauce composed of:

Heinz Chili Sauce
Heinz Cocktail Sauce
Fresh, prepared horseradish
Lea and Perins Worcesterhire sauce

Ruth Schmidt's Hash

2 cups yellow onions, ground (or chopped very fine in a food processor)
4 cups raw Russet potatoes, peeled and ground (or chopped very fine in a food processor)
4 cups cooked leftover pot roast, ground (or chopped very fine in a food processor)
2 plus cups gravy (you can use a McCormick package or a can of beef gravy if you don't have enough.

Mix all ingredients together and bake in a large rectangular casserole at 400º for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cinnamon Ice Cream

1 ½ cups whole milk
225 grams sugar
pinch of salt
15 sticks cinnamon, broken up
3 cups heavy cream
8 egg yolks

Warm the milk, sugar, salt, cinnamon sticks and 1 ½ cups cream in a medium saucepan. Once warm, remove from heat and cover; let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

Re-warm the cinnamon-infused milk mixture. Remove the cinnamon sticks with a slotted spoon and discard.

Pour remaining 1 ½ cups cream into a large bowl and set a strainer on top. Also, prepare an ice bath that you can set the bowl with cream into.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Then, pour back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Pour the custard through a chinoise or strainer lined with cheesecloth into the cream. Place the bowl into the ice bath and stir until cool.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator; then, freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Makes 10-12 medium servings or about 1 ½ quarts.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Apple Crostata

This dessert is so easy! And, it looks impressive! It was an absolute hit at my last dinner party, and I will be making this from now on instead of apple pie!


For the pastry:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated or superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 pound (1 stick) very cold unsalted butter, diced
2 tablespoons ice water

For the filling:
1 1/2 pounds McIntosh, Macoun, or Empire apples (3 large)
1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup granulated or superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced

For the pastry, place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse 12 to 15 times, or until the butter is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the ice water all at once through the feed tube. Keep hitting the pulse button to combine, but stop the machine just before the dough becomes a solid mass. Turn the dough onto a well-floured board and form into a disk. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Flour a rolling pin and roll the pastry into an 11-inch circle on a piece of lightly floured parchment paper; transfer to a baking sheet.

For the filling, peel, core, and cut the apples into 8ths. Cut each wedge into 3 chunks. Toss the chunks with the orange zest. Cover the tart dough with the apple chunks leaving a 1 1/2-inch border.

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and allspice in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Pour into a bowl and rub it with your fingers until it starts holding together. Sprinkle evenly on the apples. Gently fold the border over the apples to enclose the dough, pleating it to make a circle.

Bake the crostata for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is golden and the apples are tender. Allow to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serve warm with homemade cinnamon ice cream!

Serves 6-8

Note: If doubling the recipe, two tarts will fit side-by-side on one large baking sheet! Keep an eye on the top of the tart as it bakes; it may brown too quickly and need to be loosely covered with foil before it’s done.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Pressure Cooker Chicken Stock (using a whole chicken)

The pressure cooker produces a full-bodied stock in one-third the usual time because it quickly draws the gelatin out of the bones!

1 whole chicken
4 cups water
1 large onion, quartered (no need to peel)
a few leek greens (optional)
1 carrot, cut into chunks
1 rib celery, cut into chunks
2 large bay leaves
¼ tsp whole black peppercorns
1 small handful fresh parsley

Set a whole chicken in the pressure cooker, breast side up with 2 cups water and remaining ingredients, with the exception of the parsley. Cook for 20 minutes on high pressure. Allow pressure to come down naturally. Remove chicken, carve off meat, and reserve for another use. Return bones to the cooker, add parsley and 2 additional cups of water. Cook for an additional 20 minutes on high pressure.

Allow broth to cool. Strain into a storage container, pressing the solids to release all the liquid into the container. Chill; then remove congealed fat. Refrigerate and use within 4 days or freeze for up to 4 months.

Makes 4 cups cooked chicken and 1 quart of stock.

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