Sunday, February 27, 2011

Gutsy Cooks and HCB'ers share a Sunday

Heavenly Cake Baker's baked one of the most amazing Sticky Toffee Puddings I have ever tasted. A moist, flavorful, a lightly spicy cake, with a decadent lemon toffee sauce, creme fraiche with lemon juice and zest, and toasted pecans. As the fork tines slid into the cake, I knew making this recipe was worth every second.

What was an opening surprise for me was the 8 ounces of stout beer and moist dates. You soak the dates in the beer then puree both together in a food processor. I wasn't sure what to expect since stout beer is a distinguished flavor all its' own.
Then you have the toffee sauce. A lot of fresh lemon juice gets added in to give a citrus edge.

Matched with creme fraiche and toasted pecans, this is one dessert I will remember for a long time.

The Gutsy cooks have been extremely busy as well. Cynthia and Sam are the hosts for this month in the Gutsy Cook Club and chose a main dish of chicken biryani and a dessert; pear, mascarpone, hazelnut tart. I made the Indian chicken biryani, but I followed Monica's wonderful advice over at Sweet Bites; I am so glad I did because after a little research, this is what I found: Aayi's recipes: Hyderabadi chicken biryani recipe! Authentic Biryani from India. Aayi does not give specific measurements for all her ingredients so each person gets to approach the recipe accordingly. Lets just say, I can't wait till next weekend to make this again!

Aayi's ingredient list is as follows (adapted and changed just a tidbit):
1 cup sliced onion (fried in oil till crisp)
1/2 pound of boneless skinless chicken (I used 1 full pound)

Chicken Marination:
3 T. chopped coriander leaves
2 T. chopped mint leaves (I used dried)
1/2 t. ginger paste (found at Safeway by fresh mushrooms)
1/2 t. garlic paste (found in same place as ginger paste)
3 green chilies (I chopped mine; bigger pieces then diced)
1/2 t. red chili powder
4 cloves powdered (I used 1/2 t. of cloves-next time I will use a little more)
1" cinnamon powdered (I used 1 1/2 t. ground cinnamon)
1/2 t. cumin powder (will add 1 t. next time)
1/2 t. coriander powder
1/2 cup thick yogurt (I used Greek yogurt and more like 3/4 cup)

Add all the marinade ingredients and 1/4 cup fried onion to chicken pieces and leave it aside for about 1 hour in refrigerator.

For Rice:

1 and 1/2 cups Basmati rice (par-boiled, long grain Basmati is the best)

1/4 cup onion

3 cups water

2 cloves (I used 1/4 t. ground cloves)

1" cinnamon (I actually used a cinnamon stick)

2 cardamon

2 bay leaves

1/2 t. ginger paste

1/2 t. garlic paste

1/2 t. green chili paste

1/4 t. turmeric (I believe for the yellow coloring of the rice.)

Ghee (clarified butter; amazing stuff!)



Heat ghee and add cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaves, ginger and garlic paste, green chili paste, turmeric, onion and fry for a few minutes. Now add the rice and fry for 2-3 minutes. Then add salt water and let it cook (I let the rice cook uncovered for 14 minutes).

Putting Everything together:

Heat ghee in a thick bottomed pan and add marinated chicken. Fry for about 2 minutes. If chicken leaves some water, that is fine.

Spread half the quantity of rice, followed by 1/2 the quantity of fried onion. You can add 1/4 cup water just to make sure the rice is completely cooked.

Spread remaining rice and then onion.

Cover the pot with lid and cook on a medium low flame (I have an electric stove so went with medium low heat) for about 30 to 45 minutes. (I cooked mine for 40 minutes.)

I served the chicken biryani with baked artichokes and our dinner was perfect, filling, and delicious! Not the prettiest plated dish but taste made up for looks.
I made the raspberry souffles from last week's menu, using the rose water. My raspberries actually tasted like raspberries; surprising for being in the middle of wintertime.

My first time making anything with Rose water. I have seen plenty of recipes but I have always chickened out. To be absolutely honest, after trying the finished, chilled raspberry souffle, I am not a fan of the flavor. The first taste was raspberries then a lingering rose flavor. Maybe the dislike comes from being a new taste for me but I didn't care for it. The little souffles turned out adorable and I will make these again, only with plain water or maybe a raspberry liqueur.

The longest part of the recipe was making the puree and chilling the souffles. Pretty easy and definitely beautiful to present.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

FFwD - The Month of February - Short Ribs in Red Wine and Port

French Fridays with Dorie is such a fun group to be a part of. No one is required to bake every single week, in fact, you can bake along as little or as much as you wish. This week was short ribs in red wine and port. Sounds delicious, know?

P.S.: By the way, I have missed the whole month of February's recipes for FFwD and I don't know if anyone noticed but the recipes for the month, put together, make (1) amazing dinner . . . which is what I did. February 4th: Basque Potato Tortilla, February 11th: Orange-almond Tart (I made Pear-Hazelnut Tart variation), February 18th: Pancetta Green Beans, and February 25th: Short Ribs in Red Wine and Port.

My short ribs came (5) to a package so I had to decide between less or more then the called for (12) short ribs in the recipe. I went with (15) because I just couldn't resist. Leftovers sounded wonderful!

My pictures were all over the place for clarity; which was not noticed until after dinner was eaten and the pictures were downloaded to the computer. I have no clear pictures to show you of the wine/port/vegetable/herb mixture. I do have the ribs just out of the oven from broiling with the glaze applied.

Out of all (4) recipes, my two absolute favorites were the green beans with pancetta and the pear-hazelnut tart. Bob Mills sells packaged, ground hazelnuts and since hazelnut flour was in my pantry, this is what I used for the tart.

The basque potato tortilla is delicious and easier to make then I thought. We used mushrooms, onions, and potatoes. Leftovers made the perfect warmed up breakfast. Dorie was absolutely right about using a cast iron skillet for great results.

Oh the green beans! Loved, loved, loved the green beans. My first time ever using walnut oil drizzled over all. Just a little bit was plenty and the pancetta made the whole dish taste so much more with the salty, slightly crisp, and just a little nutty. A definite make again recipe. So good!

My only picture of the gremolata, an amazing flavor accompaniment, adding another level to the short ribs. I had no idea tangerine and beef went together so well. I used chopped parsley instead of the cilantro mainly because that was what we had on hand.

Dorie, every recipe I have tried in your new French cookbook has been a treat and fun to plan and put together. I already have a list of recipes to re-make, trying your variations you put to the side of each recipe. You Rock!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

CEiMB- L.O.V.E. Wrap Sandwich and Spicy Crab-Papaya Salad

Joanne of the blog Apple Crumbles was the host of this week's choice for Craving Ellie in My Belly: Lettuce, Onion, Vegetable, Egg Salad (L.O.V.E.) Wraps.

I was truly surprised over the flavors in this wrap! First of all, I already LOVE egg salad but had "no" idea I could get away with just 4 teaspoons of mayonnaise and 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard - still having great flavor and texture. I already had whole wheat pita pockets so I used those instead of the wraps; after eating the sandwiches and finding out how messy the pita pockets were, wrap bread it will be next time.
We also made Spicy Crab-Papaya Salad to go with the wrap for dinner. I bought fresh, "LIVE" Dungeness crab to make the salad and actually had to chase the crabs down as they seemed to enjoy scurrying around my deck. I think I squealed more then they would have if they could.

Fresh Dungeness crab is AMAZING! I had no idea fresh crab tasted that great. WOW! The salad is fresh, light, and does not overpower the light flavor of crab meat. The recipe came from a Cooking Light magazine; since the website Project Foodie prints all recipes from this magazine, I thought I would post the recipe here.
Spicy Crab-Papaya Salad
4 servings (1 cup each)
1 1/2 c. diced, peeled papaya
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1 finely chopped jalapeno pepper
1 pound lump crab meat
3 T. canola oil
2 T. cider vinegar
2 t. sugar
1 t. Dijon mustard
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/8 t. salt
Combine papaya, green onions, celery, jalapeno pepper, and crab meat. Combine canola oil, cider vinegar, sugar, Dijon mustard, freshly ground black pepper, and salt, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle vinegar mixture over crab mixture; toss. Chill.

I wish you could see this crab moving and know how crazy this feels picking up a wiggling creature when so many of us are used to asking someone behind a counter to clean and package our food. The fisherman selling the live crab said to boil them in salt water for 22 minutes. We did and the meat came out perfect.

My only frustration was finding ripe papayas in the middle of winter.

I boiled eggs and the crabs at the same time, making dinner efficient and, like most of Ellie's recipes, fast.

I thought I would share another up close and personal picture of my live dinner. He backed himself up into the bag he originally found his way out of. Larry couldn't believe the phone call on his way home asking him to help chase dinner. I told him if he would put the crabs in the boiling water, I would be happy to clean them.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Gutsy Cooks: Dirty Risotto

The Gutsy Cooks are making Mushroom risotto only I altered the recipe and made Dirty Risotto. I hope the group will forgive me for playing this much with the recipe.

I love risotto but rarely make it so every time I do, it feels like the very first time. I made a Cajun meatloaf and a vegetable saute to go with this dish, making a filling and packed full of flavor dinner. We loved every bite. I posted how I made the risotto recipe below. Thank you
Cynthia and Sam for the great choice. I am dying to make the raspberry souffles and will shortly.

5-6 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp butter
6 oz. mild or sweet Italian sausage, removed from casing (about 3 small links)
4 oz. bacon, roughly chopped
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 jalapenos, de-seeded, minced
6 oz. mushrooms, roughly chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups rice, Arborio or Long-grain
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp minced fresh parsley

In a small pot, heat chicken stock to a simmer and turn down to keep warm.
Melt butter in a large, deep skillet or stock pot.
Brown sausage and bacon in butter over medium-high heat, breaking sausage up into chunks.
Add vegetables, onion through mushrooms, to browned meat and cook until softened.
Taste vegetables and season with salt and pepper.
Stir in rice and allow to brown lightly.

Pour in wine and stir until almost absorbed. Turn heat down to medium.
Using a measuring cup add hot chicken stock to rice mixture a little at a time, stirring, until almost absorbed.
Once rice is tender, turn off heat and stir in cheese and parsley.
Taste again and season with salt as needed.
I also baked a Hot Buttered Rum Cheesecake with a hot buttered rum sauce. I'll post the recipe shortly. Delicious!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sweet Melissa Sunday - Chocolate Rumm Truffles

Sweet Melissa Sundays is here and Nina of Nina's Cupcakes is our wonderful host for this week! I love that Nina chose Chocolate Rum truffles just because I felt in the mood to make truffles.

The truffles went together super fast last night. Just melt butter and bittersweet chocolate over simmering water until melted. Add egg yolks and rum, I used 10 Cane rum, and whip until shiny and smooth. Now refrigerate; I did, overnight.

My coatings were fun to pick out this morning. I used crushed Skor toffee bars, crushed peanuts, a powdered chocolate for sprinkling on espresso drinks, pearl sugar, and colored sprinkles. I put each truffle in its' own miniature cupcake liner and now I can share with friends and family! Thank you for a great choice this week. Make sure and check out the other SMS bakers to see imaginations at work.

I also made my famous homemade chicken fried steak and gravy, eggs over easy, and toast with blueberry peach jam for breakfast.

I am also working on making a Hot Buttered Rum Cheesecake with dark Appleton Rum, freshly grated nutmeg, cinnamon, and ground cloves. A hot buttered rum sauce will be drizzled over each slice. If all turns out well, I will come back and post the results along with the recipe!