Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bananas Foster

The 2012 State Fair of Texas is here!  A fried food lovers’ paradise!  Before eating, we went to the Owens barn to see Boris, the 1200 pound pig, and it inspired us not to try all the fried offerings.  We stuck to the classic and original: Fletcher’s corny dogs, Williams chicken tenders, a hamburger and a funnel cake from Jack’s.

The Travel channel aired a special on state fairs in Texas, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Colorado.  I am willing to travel to Wisconsin and sample their famous cream puffs or a red velvet funnel cake with cream cheese icing.  A few items that I will happily avoid are maggot melts, crickets, scorpions, and alligator.  Interesting and seemingly edible but not high on my list are deep fried Cap’n Crunch held together by a marshmallow, battered and fried mac and cheese on a stick, deep fried watermelon wedges, deep fried peanut butter pops, and deep fried bubblegum. 

While at the Fair, we took our eats out of the rain and into a very crowded indoor food court.  One station offered only banana items: banana split, banana cream pie and bananas foster.  Travis asked, “What is bananas foster?” so we are trying this at home (I was out of coupons at this point).   Another food booth on the fairgrounds offered Frozen Bannanas (bless their heart – spell check failed them!)

PS – as a follow up to my word foible, I called a driver a dumb-dumb.  The kids started laughing and asked “what was that bad word that you said last Saturday?  C’mon Mom, just tell us – we won’t say it!”  Yea, right.
Bananas Foster
1.      4 bananas
2.      4 T butter (1/2 stick)
3.      ½ c brown sugar
4.      ¼ t cinnamon
5.      1 T imitation rum extract (optional – or some recipes call for ¼-½ c dark rum and you flambĂ© it)
6.      Vanilla ice cream or pound cake

Cut the bananas in half across and then lengthwise.  Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add brown sugar and cinnamon and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves about 2 minutes.  Add the bananas and cook until caramelized over medium-high heat about 3 minutes; flip with 2 forks and cook on the other side.  Shake the pan back and forth, basting the bananas.  Serve over vanilla ice cream and/or a slice of pound cake, spoon the sauce over the ice cream and bananas, and serve immediately.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Happy New Year

In honor of those celebrating Yom Kippur and partaking in the fast,
The Baker's Mann submits this recipe.

May you have an easy fast.
L'shanah tovah and a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Roasted Wild Mushrooms and Goat Cheese

It was a beautiful but warm day for soccer.  We were headed to the game; David and I were in separate cars but next to one another at a red light.  The light turned green and we start forward.  Suddenly some young girl in a red convertible decides to “make the light” and turns in front of us.  Reactively, “what a dumbsh*t” comes out my mouth and then the laughter in the back seat erupts.  Oh cr*p, there are 2 little people in my car.  Nine years and I have been so good about holding my tongue.  They are laughing and repeating and I’m tyring not to laugh and apologizing and begging them not to repeat, especially to their dad. 

Fall temperatures flirted with us a week ago and then summer returned to make a statement on its final day.  Cooler temps evoke a calling for different flavors.  This is a great Bobby Flay dish that is easy, sophisticated and a nice change for a basic side, even if you don’t have all of the chile flavorings in the pantry.

Roasted Wild Mushrooms and Goat Cheese
1.      8 cups mushrooms (combination of portobello or crimini, shiitake and oyster mushrooms), stems removed and sliced (Mushroom shrivel up when cooking so when in doubt, always use more)
2.      3 tablespoons olive oil
3.      4 cloves garlic, minced
4.      1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
5.      1/2 cup chile oil, recipe follows
6.      8 ounces goat cheese, cut into 8 slices
7.      Salt and freshly ground pepper
8.      3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the mushrooms with the olive oil, and shallots, then season with salt and black pepper.

Arrange the mushrooms evenly in one layer in a heavy roasting pan (aka, a cookie sheet in my kitchen) and roast for 15 minutes or until tender. Remove the mushrooms from the roasting pan and place into a large baking dish. Drizzle with 1/2 cup of chile oil and top with the slices of cheese. Bake until hot, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven, garnish with thyme, and drizzle with the remaining chile oil. (I didn’t have all the peppers and such listed below so I mixed Chile Powder with some olive oil and didn’t use the full amount of oil recommended either. I’m certain that Bobby’s is more flavorful but there were no complaints from the people consuming it.) 

Chile oil:
1.      1 cup pure olive oil
2.      2 ounces dried New Mexico peppers
3.      1 ounce dried arbol chile powder
4.      2 tablespoons ancho powder

Place all ingredients in a blender and puree.  Strain mixture through a fine strainer.  Reserve.  This may be done up to one day in advance.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Prime Rib and French Dips

I caved.  I went to Hillstone’s for lunch the other day.  I still couldn’t bring myself to order the $20 french dip so instead I ordered a $16 salad and $5 fries.  Do the math.  Go figure. 

I have never made prime rib before but I wanted to try (and then charge everyone in my family $20 to sit down and eat).  I went searching on Food Network for a recipe and found one by Bobby Flay.  Then I went to my favorite local meat market, Kuby’s, and Karl Jr. made some tweaks.  The result: a meal that everyone loved and that we’re going to fight over the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Ask your butcher to remove the bones and then tie them back on for the roasting process and to score the meat.  David ate this as prime rib – a thick slice of beef, no bread.  For the kids, I sliced it thin with an electric knife (power tools in the kitchen!) and then placed it on a buttered and toasted French roll.  While you're at Kuby's, pick up their twice baked potatoes to go with your meal.

French Dip version of the Prime Rib
1.      Bone-in prime rib (6 to 7 pounds) 
2.      2-3  cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3.      Salt and coarsely ground black pepper
4.      2 cups red wine
5.      4 cups beef stock
6.      1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (or ½ T dried thyme)

Thirty minutes before roasting the prime rib, remove from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Make small slits all over the prime rib (or ask your butcher to do it) and fill each slit with a slice of the garlic. Season liberally with the salt and coarse pepper, place on a rack set inside a roasting pan and roast for about 2-3 hours (20 minutes for each pound of meat) until medium-rare, or until a thermometer inserted into the center of the meat registers 135 degrees F. Remove the meat to a platter, and tent with foil to keep warm.

Place the roasting pan on top of the stove over 2 burners set on high heat. Add the wine to the pan drippings in the pan and cook over high heat until reduced, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the stock and cook until reduced by half. Whisk in the thyme and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Slice meat as desired and serve with thyme au jus.

If making a French dip, split a French roll in half.  Butter each half and toast on a warm skillet.  Pile on the thinly sliced prime rib.  Spoon on some au jus or horseradish sauce.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie

“Can you please make something that we will all eat?” says an exasperated David.  He does know that I write a recipe and cooking blog, right?  Let’s make a deal: I’ll only make dishes that you and the kids enjoy and you agree to only buy companies that will deliver a profit when you exit the investment.  To be fair – because that’s the kind of rational wife that I am – he has survived a string of not-so-blog-worthy recipes recently and some of those dishes hit his plate on the same night. 

So you can question my rationality for selecting a casserole-like dish as the next test recipe for a casserole-averse guy.  After eating it, his comment was “it’s good for what it is.”  I will take that as a compliment.

This recipe makes a 9-inch pie which was sufficient for 4, maybe 5.  Double the recipe if you want more or to have leftovers.

Chicken Pot Pie
1.      1 1/2 whole (3 split) chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on
2.      1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3.      Kosher salt
4.      Freshly ground black pepper
5.      2 1/2 cups chicken stock
6.      1 chicken bouillon cube
7.      6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
8.      1 cup yellow onions, chopped (1 onion)
9.      1/3 cup all-purpose flour
10.  1/8 cup heavy cream
11.  ¾ - 1 cup russet potato, peeled and cut into bite size chunks
12.  ¾ - 1 cup mushrooms, cut into bite size chunks
13.  1 cup medium-diced carrots, blanched for 2 minutes
14.  ¾ - 1 cup package frozen peas (half of a 10 oz bag) 

For the crust:
1.      Store bought pie crust like Pillsbury in the refrigerated section.  Yes, you can make your own – and if you do, I salute you. 
2.      1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin. Cut the chicken into bite size chunks. You will have 2-3 cups of cubed chicken.

In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and dissolve the bouillon cubes in the stock. In a large pot, melt the butter and saute the onions and potatoes over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until onions are translucent and potatoes are softened. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock to the sauce. Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring, until thick. Add 1 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and heavy cream. Add the cubed chicken, carrots, peas, and mushrooms. Mix well.

To bake the chicken pot pie:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Pour the filling into a 9 inch ceramic pie dish.  Brush the outside edge of the dish with the egg wash, then place the dough on top.  Crimp the dough to fold over the side, pressing it to make it stick.  Brush the with egg wash and make 3 slits in the top.  Place on a baking sheet and bake for 30-40 mintes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling hot.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Chocolate Mousse

Every morning the boys contend to overtake the position long held by my dad as President of the Messy Hair Club (for girls, it is called “bed head”).  In an attempt to style Andrew’s Justin-Bieber-straight-down-without-even-trying bangs, David said “let me put some mousse in your hair and see how that works.”  Horrified, Andrew threw his hands up on his head and replied “Daddy, don’t put a moose on my head!”

In the spirit of the mousse/moose, here is a recipe for some rich chocolate mousse, courtesy of my uncle’s friend, Rosa, who obtained it from Sugar Busters.  Somehow we managed to get some mousse in the boys’ hair for picture day and a different kind of mousse in their lunchbox.

The recipe calls for ¾ lb of chocolate and 3 oz of decaf coffee.  Isn’t that kind of like ordering the Diet Coke with your Big Mac combo meal?

**Please note that this recipe contains raw eggs.  Raw eggs can expose you to the salmonella bacterium.  Consider looking for pasteurized eggs and wash the outside prior to using.  To learn more, visit the CDC website.** 
Chocolate Mousse

1.      ¾ pound chocolate (my uncle likes El Rey 73.5% very bittersweet; I found Ghirardelli 60% cacao; I also made a version with milk chocolate because bittersweet is pretty, well... bitter)
2.      3 cups heavy cream, separated (1 c boiled, 2 c whipped)
3.      3 eggs, separated
4.      3 oz. coffee (caff or decaffeinated)

Separate the eggs.  Place the yolks in a small cup (beat them slightly) and the eggs whites in a mixing bowl.

Melt the chocolate either in a double boiler or in a microwave at medium power (cook for 1 minute, then stir, cook for another minute and stir; continue until completely melted). 

While melting the chocolate, bring one cup of heavy cream to a boil on the stove.  Add the 3 oz of coffee to the hot, boiled cream.  Take about 1 T of this hot cream and add it to the cup with the egg yolks in it.  Stir.  This will warm up the eggs without cooking them. 

Pour the egg yolks and the hot, boiled cream with coffee into a large bowl with the melted chocolate and combine well. 

Beat the egg whites with a mixer until stiff.  Fold egg whites into the chocolate.  This will start to thicken the chocolate into a mousse-like consistency.  Beat the remaining 2 cups of (cold) heavy cream with a mixer until stiff and fold into the chocolate.  This further thickens the mousse.  Pour into individual ramekins or a large dish, cover and refrigerate until chilled.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Sandwich Wraps

“You have to learn to pace yourself.  Pressure. You're just like everybody else.  Pressure.”  So why did I begin the school year with a new lunch item on day 1?  The kids are not even tired of the same old, same old yet.  There hasn’t been any complaining… yet.  Start out with a bang.  Set the bar high.  Oh, the pressure.

Sandwich Wraps
Turkey (left); Chicken (right)

Andrew is not much of a sandwich kid.  Everyone seems to like anything wrapped in a tortilla.  Perhaps this was my own science experiment.  If it looks like a tortilla and less like a sandwich, would they eat it?  Some suggestions here and there for tweaks, but all in all a keeper in the lunch box recipe file.  Adjust the ingredients to suit the tastes of your little people.

Turkey wrap assembly
Turkey and Avocado
1.      California Lavash, original or wheat (found it at Whole Foods)
2.      Honey maple turkey
3.      Cheese slices, like Mozzarella or Provolone
4.      Avocado or guacamole
5.      Yellow mustard

Place a slice of the lavash on a cutting board.  Layer the ingredients.  Remember that it will get pretty thick as you roll it – meaning, I used 2-4 slices of turkey and 2 slices of cheese on each slice of lavash (1-2 turkey and 1 cheese on the top half; 1-2 turkey and 1 cheese on the bottom half).  Once rolled, I cut the lavash in half and give one half to each kid.  I also did not center the ingredients on the lavash but right-justified them on the lavash (see assembly pictures).

Chicken wrap assembly
Mexican Chicken   
1.      California Lavash, original or wheat (found it at Whole Foods)
2.      Chicken, like roasted, rotisserie or grilled chicken
3.      Shredded cheese, like Mexican or Four Cheese
4.      Avocado or guacamole
5.      Picante sauce

Same assembly instructions as above.  Place a slice of the lavash on a cutting board.  Layer the ingredients.  Roll.  Slice.  Enjoy.