Sunday, July 27, 2014

Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream

How is it that it's nearly come to August and I haven't posted a single ice cream recipe yet!? Well, I decided that since I've dawdled this long, the first one of the summer better'd be a doozy - and let me tell you, this ice cream is a doozy. The other household half deems it the best ice cream I've ever made, surpassing even the famed cereal milk ice cream. This one oozes summer; it was born of a lazy, sticky evening out on the porch around the charcoal with sticks in hand, slowly and carefully turning marshmallows over winking-red embers. It also oozes pure toasted marshmallow flavor in every creamy cold bite: fire and smoke and hints of those charred sugary blisters from when you push your luck too far and a marshmallow bursts into flame. You must make this ice cream. Yet *another* reason to build a campfire or get a nice charcoal grill going this summer!

Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream
Makes about a pint
Adapted from The Merry Thought

*5 oz marshmallows
*3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
*1 cup whole milk*
*1/4 cup sugar

*Pinch kosher salt
*1 scant teaspoon vanilla extract
*1/2 cup heavy cream, chilled
Find some roastin' sticks and recruit a partner to toast all the marshmallows over a dying fire, throwing them all in a blender. Combine the milk, sugar, salt and vanilla extract in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat over medium heat until steaming. Temper the yolks with a little of the hot milk, whisking constantly, then pour the egg mixture back into the pan over medium heat, stirring, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Don't let it boil! Remove from heat and let cool just a touch, while stirring. Pass the custard through a sieve into the blender and blend for about a minute. Let sit for a few minutes, then blend again for another minute. Add in the cold heavy cream and blend for another 20 seconds or so. Pour the mix into a container and chill overnight or at LEAST 6 hours until entirely chilled. Whisk or blitz the ice cream batter well before churning, churn for about 20-25 minutes, and either enjoy soft-serve style or pop into a good container and let ripen in the freezer for a while longer. Enjoy with chocolate drizzle and a graham cracker, if you please!

*In complete honesty, I only had about half a cup of whole milk and subbed cream for the rest, so mine was, like, transcendentally creamy. Feel free to die young and happy with me and do the same, whether or not you have gallons of milk on hand. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Haricot Vert, Purslane & Swiss Summer Panini

A dear friend invited me to raid her garden over the weekend and I was there almost before I hung up the phone. After a lovely evening filled with berry juice-stained fingers, floppy hats, the warm wink of fireflies and the thunk of beans hitting the bottom of a new bucket, I came away with quite a bounty, including a bit of a brand-new-to-me edible weed, purslane. Her Turkish beau pointed out its presence on her property - I gather it is greatly enjoyed by Turkish folk (with yogurt, especially). I like it; it has a slight mucilaginous quality but it is succulent (and IS a succulent!), with a lightly sour, cress-like flavor. A perfect addition to salads, or in this case, a crisply verdant summer panini with beans also plucked from the garden. However, if you don't stumble across it outdoors, you can always sub arugula or watercress.

This sandwich is inspired by the haricot vert panini on the menu at my beloved Tired Hands, although I must confess that even though it has intrigued me for months I have never ordered it because their meat ones are SO GOOD that I'd never dream of eating anything else there. However, my version has me convinced that it's a true contender with the meat'uns, especially in these summer months where something lighter is better. Sometime I'll have to actually order my inspiration while I'm sipping a delicious saison and see how it stacks up!

Haricot Vert, Purslane & Swiss Summer Panini
Makes 1 sandwich

*About 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, divided
*1 teensy shallot or 1/2 of a small sweet onion, sliced thinly
*1 big handful of haricots verts, trimmed & blanched (briefly, like 10 seconds max)  
*1/4 cup purslane leaves + a few extra tender sprigs
*2 slices hearty bakery bread
*4 slices of really good Swiss cheese
*Your favorite fancy Dijon mustard, about a teaspoon & a half
*2 tablespoons good EVOO
*2 teaspoons lemon juice
*Leaves from a few thyme branches

Whisk together the mustard, evoo, lemon juice, thyme leaves and pinches of S&P, set aside. In a skillet, melt a pat of butter with a drizzle of oil over medium low and add the shallots. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and saute for a couple minutes before adding in the beans. Saute a few minutes more then add the purslane leaves and remove from heat. Toss with the mustard vinaigrette. Season to taste.

Brush one side of each of the bread slices with a bit of the other tablespoon of butter (melted or room temp), then assemble the sandwich by smoothing a thin layer of mustard on one slice, then top with half the Swiss, the bean-purslane mix, the reserved sprigs of purslane, and then the rest of the cheese. Press the sandwich in a preheated panini maker for a couple minutes until the sandwich is toasty and the cheese has oozed. Cut 'n eat!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Christmas Chilaquiles

A couple years ago, on one of our many long car trips back from Montreal, my husband and I made a pitstop for some vittles and beer. We happened to land upon a taco joint in the middle of Nowhere, VT, run by extremely stoned hippies. Hippies who made damn good Mexican food. The tousled gamin behind the counter asked about sauce preference; when we asked for both red & green options he said with a shaggy grin, "we call that Christmas". We ate our Christmas enchiladas and took that description back home with us to make our own, along with some of their delicious salsa verde.

Chilaquiles is a dish I'm very fond of, especially when you just want to throw something comforting and savory together quickly. With leftover roasted chicken, salsas from the local taqueria in the fridge (they make 'em better than I do, anyway) and stale tortillas begging for a purpose, this is a great clean-out-the-kitchen dish as well. Plus, it's always fun to have Christmas in July. 

Apologies for the iPhone photo - DSLR will be back in action soon.

Christmas Chilaquiles
Makes 3-4 servings

*Vegetable oil
*1 cup salsa verde
*1 cup salsa rojo
*2 cups shredded chicken, divided
*10 stale corn tortillas, cut into wedges
*Sour cream, cotija cheese, lime wedges, cilantro for serving

Preheat the oven to 400. In a heavy pot heat a couple inches of vegetable oil to fry the tortilla wedges. In batches, fry the tortillas until crisp and browned, and drain on paper towels. Take two smallish baking dishes and ladle a little bit of the salsa verde in one, and the salsa rojo in the other. Toss the cups of chicken with a little respective sauce and then layer tortilla chips, ladles of salsa and shredded chicken in each baking dish. Repeat until all the chips have been used. Bake for 10-15 minutes, then serve by portioning out red and green salsa'd chilaquiles on a plate together. Add a dollop of sour cream + any other fixin's, and enjoy. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Caramelized Onion & Anchovy Tart

This is my dead-simple take on the classic Provençal onion tart, pissaladière, which is so uncomplicated in itself that I feel bad about nixing one of the main ingredients in making it palatable for personal consumption. However, I just ... cannot ... do ... olives. It's a major flaw, I know. I get the essential element of brininess from chopped capers, but feel free to be traditional and scatter cured olives about the tart if that's your thing. A slice of this makes for a perfect summer lunch or dinner, paired with crisp greens and a funky Berliner weiss.

In making caramelized onions, I have found the easiest route is to throw a bunch of sliced onions with butter, oil and seasonings in a cast iron pan and caramelize them at 350, stirring every 15, 20 minutes or so, until they're that lovely deep brown and of jammy consistency, about an hour or two. Plan on cutting up more onions than what the recipe calls for - you'll want more of them hanging around, trust me.

Caramelized Onion & Anchovy Tart
Makes 6-8 servings

*1 cup caramelized onions, about 4 onions' worth
*1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves
*1 tin anchovies (use as many as you want, I nearly clear the tin out)
*1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
*1 teaspoon capers, chopped

Preheat the oven to 400. When the puff pastry has thawed, roll it out a few times and put on a lightly cornmeal-dusted baking sheet. Score a thin border around the sheet and spread the onions around inside. Garnish with as many anchovies as you'd like, and rain down some thyme leaves (fresh is preferable but I used dried) over top. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the pastry has risen and is golden brown. Garnish with chopped capers.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Palak Chana

Or, "lazy lady's palak paneer".

I had a hankering today for luscious, spiced spinach and immediately jumped to palak paneer, but examining my afternoon and the errands & chores that splintered it up, I decided I didn't *quite* have enough time to make homemade paneer, even though it's a rather simple process. Instead, I quickly cooked up the greens in my usual way, added a can of chickpeas to the mix, and satiated my spinach craving even without the help of firm cubes of fresh cheese! My palak chana might have been makeshift, but I was pleased enough with the combo of chickpeas and spinach that I'll purpose to make it again!

Palak Chana
Makes 4 servings

Recipe adapted from various influences, but 101Cookbooks' recipe for saag paneer was most helpful in the framework.

*Cooking oil or ghee
*1 bag of baby spinach (8 cups), chopped into fine ribbons
*Kosher salt
*1/2 onion, diced small
*5 cloves garlic, chopped
*Nub of ginger, about an inch, peeled and chopped
*1 serrano chili, seeded
*1/4 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
*1 teaspoon ground cumin
*1 teaspoon ground coriander 
*Heaping 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
*1 15oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
*1/2 teaspoon garam masala
*Dash or two of cayenne
*Spoonful of plain yogurt (optional, but a lovely addition)
*Rice or naan, for serving

Heat some oil or ghee in a heavy pot over medium and add the whole cumin seeds; when they pop, add and saute the onions with a scattering of salt. You can either mince the garlic, ginger & chili and add them too, or do as I do and make a paste of them in a small food processor by adding a touch of water and a spoonful of canned diced tomatoes to help (if you, like I, always have a jar of leftover canned diced tomatoes hanging around in a mason jar in the fridge). Add the mince or paste and saute for about a minute before adding the spices and a pinch of salt. After they aromatize the kitchen add the spinach and stir for a minute until the spinach wilts, then add the chickpeas. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring often, until spinach is very soft, about 20 minutes. Stir in the yogurt, garam masala, and cayenne. Check for seasoning and serve over rice. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Chipotle Chicken Lettuce Wraps

The jar of leftover chipotle chilis in adobo from a $1.69 can beckons my guilty gaze when I open my fridge when I start to make dinner, because much like leftover tomato paste from a .50 cent can or half a tin of evaporated milk, I cannot abide by throwing what I don't use away but I also can't for the life of me remember to use them before they have overstayed their welcome. I caught sight of my chipotle jar loitering near the back of the fridge yesterday and determined to finish the stragglers off once and for all. In noodling around for some new ideas I came across an entry on Bev Cooks for chipotle chicken lettuce wraps, which got the ball rolling. The other household half opted for tortillas instead of lettuce, but I was very pleased with the verdant crunchiness of the lettuce contrasted with the smokey spicy bite of the piquant chipotle sauce. Leftovers successfully and deliciously dispatched! 

Chipotle Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Makes 6-8 lettuce wraps

Recipe inspired by Bev Cooks

*2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
*Cooking oil
*1/4 cup chicken broth
*1 cup tomato sauce (I use a can of El Pato Mexican Hot Style Tomato Sauce which I find at my local Walmart)
*2-3 canned chipotle chiles en adobo (remove the seeds, if you want)
*1/4 onion, chopped
*3 cloves garlic          
*Pinches of oregano, thyme, cumin, allspice
*Couple sprigs' worth of of cilantro leaves (or more, depending on how much you like cilantro)
*1 teaspoon lime juice
*1/2 small red bell pepper, diced
*Boston or butter lettuce 
*3 scallions, sliced
*Lime wedges for serving

Heat some oil in a skillet over medium and season the chicken breasts. Saute about 5-6 minutes per side or until entirely cooked through. Meanwhile, blend the chicken stock, tomato sauce, chipotles, onion, garlic, spices, cilantro and lime juice in a food processor until smooth. When chicken has cooked, move to a cutting board and pour the chipotle sauce into the pan and cook over medium-low while occasionally stirring for 10 minutes or so, until it's a little darker and thicker. Dice the chicken and in a bowl, combine it with the diced bell pepper - add as much of the sauce as you want and stir until the chicken is well-coated. Spoon portions into the lettuce leaves and garnish with scallions before serving with lime wedges and any additional sauce to drizzle on top.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Maple Nut Granola

Throughout granola's pretty storied and interesting history involving patent infringements and puritanical health-guru doctors its always been seen as a model healthy foodstuff, although if we're all being honest here, granola sometimes isn't any healthier than an oatmeal raisin cookie. Which, because I go through granola like crack, is why I tend to make a batch of it only once in a while. You can't make good granola without the fat 'n sweet stuff. However, if enjoyed in units of a couple tablespoons spangled over yogurt, or a handful here and there for a snack, I don't think too much guilt (or calories) will accrue! It's just the self-policing that gets difficult.

Much thanks to a recipe posted on The Kitchn for introducing me to the magic missing ingredient that, in tandem with all the others, makes granola clump up so well - oat flour! Simply blitzing some old fashioned rolled oats in a food processor until they're powder will work perfectly.

Maple & Nut Granola
Makes about 8 cups

*3 cups oats, 1 blitzed to powder, the other two blitzed a few times to break 'em up
*2 cups coarsely chopped raw nuts (I used hazelnuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios)
*1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
*1/3 cup maple syrup
*1/4 cup brown sugar
*1/8th cup almond oil
*2 tablespoons butter
*1 tablespoon water
*Big pinch kosher salt
*1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
*1 cup dried fruit (I used cherries and cranberries)

Preheat the oven to 280. In a large bowl, combine the oats, oat powder, nuts and spices. Heat the syrup, butter, oil and sugar together in a small saucepan over medium heat until the butter has melted and the mixture is hot. Stir in the vanilla and salt and then pour the hot sweet sludge over the oats and nuts, combining well to coat. When it's uniformly moist, let it sit a few minutes.

Spread the mix out on a large baking sheet, separating it into clumps with your fingers, and allowing for space between the clumps. Slide into the middle of the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, rotating once or twice, or until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and flip clumps over, gently breaking up the knots into smaller clumps. Return to the oven and bake another 10 minutes or so before stirring again. Take stock of the granola - is it as crunchy and browned as you'd like it to be? If you want to push on further, continue the stir-check cycle in 8-10 minute increments. When it's to your satisfaction, cool completely, then stir in any dried fruit you want to use.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature and it'll keep for a couple weeks (but it won't last nearly that long). 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Fiddlehead & Ricotta Crostini with Tarragon & Lemon

It's that wonderful time again, when I amble down to the park and take an appraising look at the verdant curlicues popping up from the brown, leaf-strewn earth - fiddlehead season! Last year I made a pasta dish with my modest take, and this year, with a largesse of homemade ricotta cheese left in the fridge, I decided to serve the fiddleheads with an herb-spiked, lemony ricotta spread over crostini. I love asparagus with lemon and tarragon and as I guessed, the fiddleheads fit right in with the flavors as well.

Feel free to refer to my previous post for further information about foraging for fiddleheads. Also, I highly recommend making your own ricotta cheese for this recipe (and any other recipe, in perpetuity!). Using instructions from The Kitchn, I found it an extremely simple process with a vastly superior result.

Fiddlehead & Ricotta Crostini with Tarragon & Lemon
Makes 4 crostini

*4 slices bread from a nice bakery loaf
*1 small nubbin butter
*20-some fiddleheads, washed and cleaned well
*1/2 cup ricotta cheese (preferably homemade)
*1/2 teaspoon chopped tarragon leaves
*Lemon zest from one lemon
*1 clove garlic, cut in half

After cleaning the fiddleheads thoroughly, blanch for about 30 seconds in roiling water and drain. Brush your bread slices with a little bit of evoo and pop in the (toaster) oven at 350 to bake until golden. Meanwhile, melt a touch of butter and a drizzle of evoo in a wide skillet over medium and saute the fiddleheads a couple minutes. Stir the tarragon, ricotta cheese, about 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest (or more, to taste), and pinches of S&P together.

When the bread is toasty, rub them with half a garlic clove, and spread on a thick layer of the ricotta mixture. Arrange fiddleheads on the crostini, and add a few flakes more of lemon zest over top. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Ultimate French Toast

Last year at the fabulous Rose's Luxury, my husband and I encountered the best dessert of our lives: a small piece of decadent French toast, topped with foie gras and served with a wee scoop of cinnamon toast crunch ice cream. We were informed that the toast had soaked IN melted cinnamon toast crunch ice cream before it was fried up. This detail stuck in my craw, naturally, so when my husband made a rash but delicious impulse buy of a bourbon barrel aged maple syrup the other day I decided to try my own version of ice cream battered toast for an old-school breakfast-for-dinner evening. Uh, sans foie. I might have the budget and the frivolity necessary for melting down some Ben & Jerry's, but I leave the foie to luxe professionals. I'd heard a tip somewhere along the line about toasting rolled oats and crusting them on dipped french toast before frying, so I decided to go all out and do that too. AND invite caramelized bananas to the party.

Freshly whipped cream spiked with bourbon too, if you please.

Drizzled over this behemoth was the bourbon barrel aged maple sizzurp. I daresay this is the Ultimate French Toast.

Bear plate by Rachel Kozlowski for West Elm

Ultimate French Toast
Makes 3 servings

*3 tablespoons butter
*2-3 egg yolks
*1 heaping cup vanilla ice cream, melted
*Pinch of cinnamon, pinch of nutmeg, pinch of salt
*3 slices thick, hearty bread (challah, brioche, French or Italian)
*1/2 cup rolled oats, toasted until lightly browned and nutty
*1 tablespoon brown sugar
*Bourbon barrel aged maple syrup (or regular grade B, for plebes)
*Fruit of choice (caramelized bananas for me*)
*Freshly whipped cream (OR, a scoop of the vanilla ice cream you used if there's any left)

Melt butter in a wide cast iron skillet over medium. Whisk the egg yolks with the melted vanilla ice cream in a shallow dish, and stir in the seasonings. On another plate, toss the oats and brown sugar together. Dip the slices of bread in the ice cream mix, soaking nicely on both sides, before crusting one side of each with the oats. Fry the bread in the butter about 3 minutes per side. Top with the syrup, fruit and whipped cream (can be made a little before you start the toast prep and kept in the fridge). 

*To caramelize bananas quickly, cut up a few ripe (but not overripe) ones and saute in a couple tablespoons of butter over medium. Sprinkle in some brown sugar and splash in a little bourbon. Cook down for a few minutes, then serve hot.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Farfalle with Butternut Squash, Sage & Sausage

Although butternut, onions and sage are more autumnally associated than most flavor combinations, this is one of my favorite pasta dishes to make whenever there's a chill on the breeze, and this Smarch weather still certainly allows for plenty of roasted butternut squash.  I love farfalle for this dish, as each piece makes a solid and sturdy shelf on which the squash and other goodies naturally collect. Plus, seeing all those the bow-tie shapes fanned out on the plate is pleasing to the eye, or at least my eye! No matter what pasta shape you use though, it'll be an incredibly tasty and filling dinner.

Farfalle with Butternut Squash, Sage & Sausage
Makes 4-6 servings

*1 medium butternut squash
*1 lb farfalle pasta (preferably De Cecco)
*2-3 links hot Italian sausage, casings removed
*1 small onion, diced 
*4 cloves garlic
*12-15 fresh sage leaves
*3 tablespoons toasted pepitas
*1/4 cup freshly grated Parm-Reg plus extra for dusting
*1 tablespoon butter

Preheat the oven to 400 and cut the squash in half. Scoop out the guts and brush the flesh with olive oil and season with S&P. Place the squash flesh-side down on a baking sheet and pop in the oven to roast for about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, towards the end of the roasting time, put on a large pot of water to boil and salt it well. Saute the sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Set aside when cooked. Add a tablespoon of butter drizzled with some evoo and saute the onion until nice and soft, seasoning as you go. Add the garlic in and continue to cook for a couple more minutes, then set the onion and garlic mixture aside with the sausage. Turn up the heat and add a little more evoo if necessary to fry the sage leaves. Once they are crisp, set aside on a paper towel to drain.

Boil the farafelle until al dente. While the pasta is cooking take the squash out and scoop the soft innards into a bowl and mash with the Parm-Reg. Drain the pasta, reserving a little of the pasta water, and then after quickly wiping out the pasta pot, throw in the pasta, squash mash and sausage/onion/garlic mix and combine everything well, seasoning to taste. If it seems a little dry, wet it with some of the reserved pasta water. Crumble the sage, reserving a leaf or two for final garnish, and mix it in along with the toasted pepitas. Serve with an extra dusting of Parm and some more sage crumbles.