Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My Birthday Surprise

Today I woke up and found my husband and daughter hard at work making me a cake. My husband made a powdered sugar frosting like the one used on cookies because he wanted my daughter to be able to paint flowers on it with food coloring. Here is the finished master piece. What a treat :)

Last Weeks of Summer Lime Bars

Last week I finally got around to using about half a dozen limes that I bought on impulse the week before. I was not sure what I wanted to make with them but finally I settled on something that would require lime curd. I set onto the task of making some lime bars using an oatmeal cookie crust to cradle the lime curd. I was inspired by the cookie crust used by Momofuku Milk Bar and the lemon lime bars form Baked. I guess you could say the result could be their love child.

For the cookie crust you can either use store bought oatmeal cookies or you can make your favorite recipe for these. I do recommend that whichever you decide on it is preferable if they do not contain raisins as these will most likely char during the baking process and give your dessert a bad bitter taste.

Oatmeal Cookie Crust

Aprox. 1 1/2 - 2 Cups Ground Oatmeal Cookies
2-3 TBSP Butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine the ground cookies with the butter, adding the butter a little bit at a time until you can form the mixture into a firm ball.

Place the ball on a square 12" x 12" baking dish. spread the mixture on the baking dish forming a crust that is approximately 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.

Place in the oven for about 5 minutes to set it. Remove from oven and allow it to cool.

Lime Curd (modified form Baked Lemon Lime filling)

11 Large Egg Yolks
3 Large Eggs
1 3/4 Cups Sugar
3/4 Cup Lime Juice
3 TBSP Lime Zest
1/2 Cup Butter (Cut into small pieces and softened)
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Put the egg yolks, eggs, sugar, lime juice and lime zest in a sauce pan. Whisk to combine and cook over medium heat whisking constantly for about 10 minutes until the mixture thickens and heat bubbles start to appear. When done it should be firm like the consistency of frosting and the color will be an intense shade of yellow a  bit lighter than the initial color of your egg yolks.

Remove from the burner and add in the butter and heavy cream and whisk until evenly distributed. Strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove any large pieces of zest, pouring it directly onto the oatmeal crust making sure that the curd is evenly distributed. Tap the baking dish lightly on the counter top to level the curd.

Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until your curd is set. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Once it reaches room temperature cover your baking dish with either a glass cover (if your baking dish has one), or plastic wrap (make sure to prop up some toothpicks strategically placed within along the lime bars to prevent the plastic from touching the lime curd). Leave in the fridge no less than 2 hours.

Once ready, cut, serve with a cup of your favorite coffee or tea.... and enjoy :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tried and Tested Recipe - Three Cup Chicken

I have always loved East Asian cuisine particularly Thai and Chinese. Their blend of flavors and combinations have always intrigued me and delighted my taste buds. I have been wanting to give a try to making both of these types of cuisine, but I have always felt intimidated by the ingredients required. Thank goodness for Cooking Channel's Ching-He Huang and her show Easy Chinese. She takes you through the process of making excellent Chinese food at home in a very comfortable manner and her recipes are great.

I found the recipe for Three Cup Chicken in Cooking Channel's website after watching the show and thought I should get out of my comfort zone and try it. This recipe was easy to follow and the results were absolutely delicious. I modified it slightly because I did not have a few ingredients and I also thought that sliced almonds would make a great addition to give it a little crunch. Here is what you will need for my modified version.

Three Cup Chicken

1 TBSP peanut oil
Garlic - 5 cloves finely chopped
Ginger - 1 inch piece, thinly sliced
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
1/4 Cup White Cooking Wine
1/4 Cup Toasted Sesame Oil
1 TBSP Brown Sugar
1/4 Sliced Almonds

Follow the link above to the recipe on Cooking Channel's website and follow the cooking instructions. Add the sliced almonds at the very end tossing them into the chicken to integrate them evenly through the chicken pieces. 

This is a great recipe to get into making Chinese food at home. Serve with either white or Jasmine rice and vegetables. Enjoy :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook & Crack Pie

As many people in New York will come to tell you, it is nearly impossible to try every restaurant in this city (and in regards to some places it is probably best to stay away). However, if there is one conglomerate of restaurants that should be tried by everyone setting foot on this fair city it is definitely the Momofuku restaurants.

I have only made it to one of their locales, the renowned Milk Bar, where some of the most wonderful and creative desserts are made. I had the good fortune of trying their delectable Crack Pie (which once consumed will create a life long addiction to its ever gooey goodness). I was so thrilled when I found the Milk Bar Cookbook on a recent trip to my local public library, so I had to check it out. I was not expecting it to have the recipe for Crack Pie but there it was, and I took it as a challenge that must be accepted. I am sorry that I cannot post the recipe because as you know that would be a copy right infringement, and we definitely do not want to go there. What I can comment on is one of the ingredients that the recipe calls for, corn powder. This is the product of ground, freeze dried corn. I had an very hard time finding the freeze dried corn at Whole Foods, which is one of the places the book mentions as having it available. I substituted it with Whole Foods' Toasted Corn Snacks, (which you can find in the same place as their packaged nuts and dried grains) and it worked just as well.

I recommend that if you have the money to buy this book you do so without hesitating, because quite truthfully it is packed with some of the most wonderful recipes. If you are a serious cook it will also test your ability and creativity. Here is my not so pretty but very delicious attempt at making Crack Pie. It was delicious and I can't wait to make it again.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Tried and Tested Recipe - Guy Fieri's Cauliflower Croquettes

I have been having a bad few weeks with technology including the loss of internet service at home for almost a week, due to the fact that we were hooked to nearly ancient lines. This has really sucked because I have not been able to share some great stuff with you lovely people. Anywhoo, we finally got a competent person to come and fix that problem and here I am again. Today I just wanted to share a great recipe find from Food Network.

I must confess that I am not a big fan of Guy Fieri, but when it comes to recipes he has a few good ones, including the one for these awesome cauliflower croquettes. I have been trying to find delicious ways of getting my daughter to eat vegetables other than broccoli or spinach (I am very lucky that she eats both of these without a problem, and actually likes them). These little croquettes are a great way to introduce the kiddos to this wonderful vegetable and the best part is that adults will enjoy them too. Follow this link to the recipe. If you want to fancy it up you can try other hard cheeses in lieu of the Parmesan that the recipe calls for. I have been contemplating using Manchego.

If you get around to making these I really hope you enjoy them.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Spiced Pork Roast

This is a dish inspired by the book Back to the Table: The Reunion of Food and Family by Art Smith and the recipe for Spiced Pork Loin with Vidalia Onion Sauce. I thought this recipe sounded great except I did not have white wine, and I also did not like to think about using whole cinnamon, allspice and cloves (I like them better ground so they can easily incorporate and flavor the food). I decided that instead of following the recipe I would adapt it and use ingredients I already had. Instead of using vidalia onions I used shallots and I rubbed my pork roast with the Moroccan spice blend I made in one of my previous posts instead of using the whole spices. Here is what you will need and how to make this delicious dish.

Spiced Pork Roast

1 Pork Roast (Large to Medium about 3-5 pounds)
2 TBSP Moroccan Spice Blend
2 TBSP Olive Oil
3-4 Shallots (Thinly sliced)
1 Cup Vegetable Broth
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place 1 TBSP of olive oil in a dutch oven and put your pork roast in, coating it with the oil. Sprinkle the pork with the Moroccan spice blend making sure to rub it all over the pork. Allow the pork to sit in this blend for about 10 minutes.

Place the dutch oven on your stove and turn on your burner to medium high heat to get the oil nice and hot. Brown the roast on all sides. Remove the roast once all sides have been nicely browned and set aside on a dish.

Add the remaining TBSP of olive oil into the dutch oven and allow to heat up. Add your shallots and saute them until they are soft, translucent and fragrant. Add in the vegetable stock and stir. Bring the liquid to a boil and return the pork to the dutch oven. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place the lid on the dutch oven and place in the oven. Bake for about 1 and a half hours or until a thermometer inserted at the center  of the roast reads 155 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat the liquid remaining in the dutch oven and reduce it to about 3/4 to 1/2. Use this liquid as a sauce for the roast (or you can always use some demiglace).

Slice your roast and serve with your favorite sides.