Thursday, June 26, 2014

Frozen Treats for the Summer



I dipped into the archives to remind myself of the frozen treats that I have made and find a few worthy of repeating. I focused on ice cream as the fourth of July is just around the corner.  They are all different and they are all totally delicious!! Take a look, you are certain to find an ice cream that suits your palate.


Blubarb Pie


This is a most unconventional pie!  Blubarb Pie doesn't even bare any resemblance to pie....it does has a few shards of crust served alongside rhubarb ice cream with a spoonful or two of blueberry sauce.  What could be more tasty?

Lemon Velvet Ice Cream


You will want to make this....you just will....it has a wonderfully balanced combination of sweet and tart....and, it lives up to its name....Lemon Velvet.  Lemon Velvet...yep, the perfect name...smooth, creamy....perfect!  It did not last long at our house.  Yes, you will want to make this one!

Rum, Date and Pecan Ice Cream


Have you ever had a date shake?  Well I had never...and it didn't really sound good either.  But, Mr. T. kept telling me that I had to try it so...we went on a date.  One taste....Boy, was I wrong..it was amazing and no, I did not share my shake!   Date shakes rock!

With that in my mind, as I read through The Perfect Scoop, I was a bit biased when I saw a recipe for Rum, Date and Pecan Ice Cream.  This is the perfect combination of flavors....dates and rum...I was happy to have the dates move over and share the stage.  Delicious!  Come to think of it...you will want to make this one too!

I am sharing today at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen't Country Cottage and Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Slow Cooker Barbacoa


When my daughter said that we were having barbacoa for dinner I had no idea what to expect.  I had never heard of it.  I saw the slow cooker on the counter so I knew that it was an all-day affair....I knew that we had gone to the market late in the evening to get pork and would you believe, they were out?  Stores are not supposed to be out of pork...we had a plan...alas, it was dashed by all those folks in Seattle who also wanted pork!  That led us to the beef counter.  A nice beef roast would be fine....we were still having barbacoa.

What is barbacoa?  I was told that it is on the menu at Chipotle.  I rarely, rarely eat there so that still meant nothing to me....except I new it was Mexican cuisine.  As it bubbled and cooked I was constantly drawn to the kitchen by the wonderful aromas...braising beef, a simmering pot of beans, pickled onions....this was going to be delicious and it was!

When I got home, I knew that I was going to make it for Mr. T.   I really needed more information so I started researching and realized that there was no better source than Rick Bayless and I just happened to have a few of his cookbooks.  According to his cookbook, Mexico One Plate at a Time, barbacoa is a slow-cooked meat, pit style. The meat is wrapped in leaves and lowered into a pit dug in the ground, placed on heated rocks glowing from a bonfire.  The meat is sealed in the pit which becomes a smoky, steamy oven.  Hours later the pit is opened and the pit-cooked meat is removed with a bit of anticipation and ceremony.  That is really a simplistic description as in some styles of barbacoa, the actual process involves placing the meat on a grate over a cauldron of soup and then sealing the pit!  Cooking with steam....meat juices falling into the soup...wow...what a process....

The type of meat and the type of leaves vary by region....lamb, cow's head, goat, pork...leaves from agave, avocado or banana...  It is all about the process...steam-roasting the meat whereas, in the United States, pit cooking is more about the smoke.

So what does that have in common with what I did?  Meat, spicy sauce (soup), steam, braise for hours in a slow cooker....it is all good!

Slow Cooker Barbacoa
adapted from Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans and The Slow Roasted Italian

3 pounds beef roast, top round, eye of round
Kosher salt
Extra-virgin olive oil
Fresh ground pepper
2 bay leaves

Sauce
1 white onion, chunked
6 cloves garlic, peeled
4 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 Tbsp dried Mexican oregano
1/8 tsp ground cloves
4 chipotle peppers (from a can of chipotle packed in adobo sauce)
1 Tbsp adobo sauce
1/4 cup cilantro leaves  (optional)
2 Tbsp vinegar - cider, red wine or rice
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup fresh lime juice

Prepare the roast:  Trim fat.  Cut the roast into large chunks.  Sprinkle all sides with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Prepare the sauce:  In a food processor or blender combine the sauce ingredients.  Blend until smooth.  Set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy bottom skillet or pot.  Sear all sides of the beef chunks. Do not crowd the meat as you want it nicely browned, not steamed...yet.  :-)  When browned, remove the pieces of meat to the slow cooker.

Pour the sauce over the meat.  Add the bay leaves.  Cook on high for 6 hours.

After five hours, use two forks to check the meat to see if it is shredding.  If so, remove it from the slow cooker and pull the meat apart, remove any pieces of fat.  Place the shredded beef back into the slow cooker.  Stir to cover the meat with the sauce.  Continue cooking for another hour on warm.

Serve in warm tortillas.  Garnish with cotija cheese, radishes, pickled onions, thinly sliced or shredded cabbage and cilantro.

PRINTABLE RECIPE


We enjoyed the Barbacoa served as tacos with pickled onions, shredded cabbage, thinly sliced radishes, cotija cheese and a sprinkling of cilantro.  The meal wouldn't have been complete without a pot of beans!  You can find the recipe for pickled onions, here.  The recipe for the Bacon-Simmered Pot Beans is here.

While we served the Barbacoa in tacos, it can easily become burritos!










Sunday, June 15, 2014

Baked Sweet Potato Wedges


Isn't it wonderful that sweet potatoes are not limited to just the Thanksgiving table?  When I was growing up that was the only time we had sweet potatoes and what a treat it was!  Of course, as a youngster I loved the melted marshmallows on top of the wonderfully sweet potatoes...whose to say if the preference was for the melted marshmallows or the sweet potato!  Yes, quite a treat and it wasn't for dessert, either!

I remember a few years ago when I first had sweet potato fries...what a novel idea and why did it take so long for somebody to think of it?!  If the fries taste so good, then baked wedges had to be just as tasty and they weren't little, thin strips.

When I was perusing the aforementioned Good Stuff Cookbook, I saw a recipe for Baked Sweet Potatoes and knew that we had to try this version.  We weren't disappointed....and, there is a multitude of dipping sauces if you are so inclined.

Baked Sweet Potato Wedges
adapted from The Good Stuff Cookbook, Spike Mendelsohn

Serves 4

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2-3 Tbsp chopped fresh sage
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
Sea Salt
Fresh ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

In a large bowl, combine the oil, brown sugar, sage.  Add the sweet potatoes and toss.  Spread the mixture on a baking sheet.  Bake for 40 minutes.  Serve immediately.

You could even sprinkle just a smidge of brown sugar over the top before serving....  :-)

PRINTABLE RECIPE


If you like sweet potato fries or wedges, you may also like this recipe for Sweet Potato Oven Fries with Yogurt-Curry Dipping Sauce.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Hamburger Basics Plus an Amazing Secret Sauce!

I do believe that hamburgers are the first comfort food!  What is better than an all-American perfectly cooked burger on a toasted bun, loaded with your favorites:  crisp fresh lettuce, a thick slice of tomato just picked from the garden, purple onion, and pickle slices.  Well, it may be better with a nice slice of cheese melting on the patty and your personal favorite special sauce.... But, that is it to make the all-American burger, simple isn't it?  It doesn't have to be fancy.  It doesn't have to take all day baking the buns and grinding the meat!  Simple is good.


Burgers need love.  They need attention.  They need fresh ingredients.  They need a grill-chef who knows how to season them and can cook them to perfection!

Burgers are personal....

  1. The meat can vary from ground sirloin to ground pork, to ground turkey or your favorite combination, such as sirloin and bacon ground together.  It just needs to be fresh.
  2. Burgers can be grilled or they can be pan-seared to seal in the flavor.  Which method is best? Again, it is personal preference.
  3. How about seasoning?  Go with the basic to start, salt and pepper!
  4. Garden fresh toppings...crisp lettuce, a thick slice of tomato, purple onion and pickle slices. Here's another spot for personal preference.
  5. A nicely toasted bun is a must.  Spread a little butter on the bun and put them face down on the top rack of the grill or face up under the broiler.
  6. Build the burger and finish with your favorite sauce!


Do you have a secret sauce that you love on a hamburger?  A mixture of mayonnaise and ketchup (Thousand Island dressing) used to be my favorite but I stepped out of the box!  I tried a new sauce that I found.  It was in a cookbook that had been sitting on the shelf....not used much, just sitting there.  What a mistake!  The cookbook is The Good Stuff Cookbook by Spike Mendelsohn. Yes, it is the guy who was on Top Chef and yes, he has an eatery in Washington D. C.  

His book is full of Good Stuff like burgers, sauces, sides, and shakes!  The amazing sauce I made is his Good Stuff Sauce.  I cut the recipe in half....two people can only eat so much Good Stuff!

Amazing Good Stuff Sauce
The Good Stuff Cookbook by Spike Mendelsohn

2 cups Homemade Basic Mayonnaise or Hellman's
2 Tbsp ketchup
2 Tbsp molasses
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp salt

Add the ingredients to the bowl of a food processor or a blender.  Puree until smooth.  The sauce can be kept for up to a week if refrigerated in an airtight container.

PRINTABLE RECIPE

That is it....pretty basic and I must admit that this amazing sauce is darn good stuff!



Sunday, June 8, 2014

Æbleskiver - A Round Danish Puffy Pancake


I purchased an Æbleskiver pan for myself about four years ago.  It has been living in its box tucked away in a cupboard since then.  What is the reason for that?  I think I have been over-thinking it.. I am not sure...but I had even bought a cookbook dedicated to these little, round, puffy pancakes. So why not make them? Who knows?....but, I have stopped procrastinating!  I madÆbleskiver because it was time to "just do it" and it is Secret Recipe Club time...and Sid at Sid's Sea Palm Cooking made it sound so easy.

Just what are Æbleskiver?  Well, they originated in Denmark and are the cutest little round, puffy pancakes ever.  As I explored, I learned that the word comes from Æbleskive which means apple slice.  In the middle ages apple slices were dipped in batter and fried...and things evolved from there.  

There is also the story of the Vikings who had been hard hit in battle. Upon returning to their ship, they were quite hungry so they greased their dented horn helmets and shields to use as pans, placed the "pans" over the fire and made pancakes....thus the birth of the Æbleskiver.  Whichever story you wish to believe there is one thing for certain:  Æbleskiver have long been a traditional breakfast or treat in Danish cuisine.

Æbleskiver are frequently served during the holidays and at special celebrations.  They can be filled with any number of delicious sweet treats: such as apples, cherries, curds or jams.  Traditionally sprinkled with powdered sugar and accompanied with raspberry jam this sweet treat is always welcomed by young and old alike.  I should mention that there are also savory Æbleskiver....but not for me. Today, sweet it is...I waited a long time to break out the pan!


Æbleskiver

2 cups buttermilk
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
4 eggs, separated
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 stick butter, melted for the pan
Raspberry jam
Confectioner's Sugar

Preparing the Batter

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, sugar and salt.  

Using a whisk, mix the egg yolks together.  Then stir in the buttermilk, melted butter (3 Tbsp), and vanilla.

Stir the wet mixture with the dry ingredients.  Stir until blended.  The batter will be lumpy.  Set aside.

Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the egg whites until stiff, but not dry. When the beaters are lifted, the whites should hold a firm peak. 

Using a spatula, fold about a third of the whites into the batter.  Cut through the center and pull the spatula up the side and over the top, gently incorporating the two mixtures.  Turn the bowl a quarter turn and repeat until all the whites have been incorporated.

Use the batter right away.

Cooking the Æbleskiver

Equipment:  Æbleskiver pan, 2 wooden skewers, pastry brush

Using a pastry brush, coat the wells of the pan with melted butter and place over a medium heat. When little bubbles form in the pan, it is heated.  Add 1 to 3 tablespoons of batter to each well using two spoons (one to scoop and one to scrape).  (I used an 1/8 cup measure.)

If you are adding filling, this is the spot!  Spoon 1 teaspoon of the desired filling into the center of each pancake.  Add 1 tablespoon of batter on top of the filling to enclose it.

Cook the first side until bubbles rise from the center of the pancake and they are lightly browned on the bottom....usually start turning after you have completed putting the filling in the last pancake. (About 3 minutes)

Flip the pancakes!  Position 2 short wooden skewers on opposite sides of the pancake, slide the tips between the edge of the well and the cooked edge, and lift and rotate gently.  Repeat with each pancake.  Batter may flow from the middle to the bottom of the well.  That is okay, it will cook and adhere to the pancake.

Cook the pancakes until lightly browned on the second side, about 3 minutes longer.  They should have a nice spherical shape, at this point.  Use the skewers to transfer the pancakes to a plate.

Dust the pancakes with confectioner's sugar and serve with a bit of raspberry jam.

PRINTABLE RECIPE



These are the tastiest little guys....I was only going to eat one...which became two and then three....they are small you see.  The remainder of the Æbleskiver went on the road!



While I have had the equipment to make the Æbleskiver for ages, I just lacked the motivation. That is, like I mentioned, until I was assigned Sid's Sea Palm Cooking this month for Secret Recipe Club.  Sid says that she loves to cook...not only cook but experiment with new ideas.  Brave lady! She hosts a monthly Tapas Night where everybody brings an appetizer to share.  She also participates in a monthly Boat Club potluck!  Sid has lots of fun entertaining and cooking.  

I had thought about making one of the tapa recipes....maybe Meatballs in Grape Chili Sauce or maybe the whimsical Bologna Cake...no, that was too over the edge for me...  Sid does love to have a good time....  When I looked at breakfast items, I saw it, Æbleskiver!  I did not need to look any farther, I had all of the required equipment and she made it sound so easy....and I should challenge myself! Right?

Making Æbleskiver was the right decision!  I had so much fun playing in the kitchen.  I can hardly wait to make these again!!





Thursday, June 5, 2014

Danish Grilled Salmon with Warm Salad and Lemon Butter


One of my favorite dishes is "anything" with salmon!  Mr. T. is a great fisherman and we are fortunate that he has caught some whopper King Salmon!  Fresh caught salmon is heavenly. Catching a large salmon, though, means that there is much more salmon than we can immediately eat.  So, each year we vacuum seal and freeze salmon to enjoy during the winter.

Should you have salmon in your freezer or find some at the market, you would certainly enjoy it barbecued and then served nestled on this tasty spinach and vegetable salad with a delicious lemon butter!

Danish Grilled Salmon 
with Warm Salad and Lemon Butter

Serves 4


Lemon Butter
5 oz. butter
1 tsp. finely grated lemon peel
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ small crushed clove garlic

Warm Salad
1 pound green and yellow squash, sliced 
2 T. grape seed oil
3 oz. sliced almonds
9 oz. fennel bulb, cut into thin strips
¾ tsp. salt
Freshly ground pepper
7 oz. spinach leaves, coarsely shredded
2 lemons, in wedges

Grilled Salmon
1 fresh salmon fillet with skin on, (approx. 2½ pounds)
1 ½ tsp. finely grated lemon peel
¼ tsp. salt

Directions
Stir butter with remaining ingredients.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Quarter the squash slices.  Heat oil in a frying pan over a moderate heat.  Fry almonds for approx. 2 min.  Turn heat to high and add squash and fennel.  Fry vegetables for approx. 5 min. and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cool slightly.

Remove any bones from the salmon fillet.  Sprinkle the fish with lemon peel, salt and pepper. Place the salmon fillet, fish side down, on a baking tray or a rack in the roasting pan.  Grill the salmon for approx. 10 min. on both sides. Before the warm salmon is placed on the salad, dot pats of the lemon butter on top.

Note:  The salmon can be grilled on a barbecue, approx. 10 min. on both sides.  

Note:  The fillets can be placed on planks, skin side down.  They are then placed on the barbecue. They are not turned.

To Serve
Arrange spinach leaves on a serving dish and top with warm vegetables and lemon wedges.  Lay the slices of salmon fillet on top of the salad and warm vegetables.  The salad can be served cold, if desired.




We certainly enjoyed this wonderfully flavorful dish!  A big thank you to my friend, Gay, who shared this recipe with us when she created a menu to reflect the foods they experienced in Copenhagen!  You may remember one of the other dishes we enjoyed.....Smørrebrød (A Danish Open-faced Sandwich) that was the appetizer, or the amazing Roasted Beet Salad with Horseradish Cream Dressing....both delicious!  It was such a great meal!


I am sharing today with Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's County Cottage and Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.