Monday, March 29, 2010

Cincinnati Chili

Today is my husband's birthday, and the poor man ended up cooking his own dinner.  Not that it was a difficult dinner, but still.

His friend Dale sent him home with a packet of spices from Cincinnati.  Cincinnati chili.  A mid-western delight apparently.  Being born and raised in California, Nevada being my home away from home, I was skeptical.  Especially when this chili involved spaghetti. Spaghetti? With chili?  WTF?  Really?  No Texan or Oklahoman would understand (or Californian).  Well, I decided, lets give Dale and his chili a chance.

It smelled delicious!  Cinnamon being the strongest smell, which I love.  I was worried about it being too salty (which the sodium level was over the top) but it didn't taste that salty.  We took the "5 way" route and were pretty pleased witht he result.  Here's ther recipe:

One package of Cincinnati chilli spices with one 6 oz can of tomato paste and 6 cups of water.
Add one to 1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef.  Do not brown.
Beat mixture with a fork and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer uncovered stirring occasionally until desired thickness - 1 to 1 1/2 hrs.

There are apparently 2 to 5 ways to serve this.  We chose the 5 way.  Serve on Spaghetti, with finely grated cheddar cheeese (Dale specified that it must be finely shredded) chopped onions, and warmed kidney beans added to the spagehetti topped wiht chilli. 

Did I like it?  Yes.  It was by no means over the top spectacular, (to me, it tasted just like my expectations of the midwest.  Simple, and plain - that doesn't mean bad, just not complex or outrageous) but, as John said, excellent comfort food.  The spices in the packet were great.  I can only imagine that this recipe homemade would be awesome.  It was quite good from a package.  So thanks Dale, you ended up giving us quite a nice dinner for John's birthday.

Dale - the inspiration for dinner, his packet of Cincinnati chili spices, the chili cooking and the final dish.  Thanks Dale!  Not bad! 

Monday, March 22, 2010

Salmon Cod Chowder

John and I had a nice lunch date  in Eureka a few days ago at the Down Town Express Cafe.  A nice little cafe conveniently located across the the courthouse and within walking distance of work. While we were there we noticed this enormous list of soups that they make.  They feature a couple different soups each day.  I can't remember what they had featured that day, but we did notice a Salmon Cod Chowder on their list.  John's a white fish kinda' guy, I prefer pink fish.  We thought this would be a good chowder for us, a good compromise.  When I Googled for a recipe, there were none to be found, so I figured they must have made this recipe up.  So I started doing some searching and ended up with two recipes.  A Cod Chowder and a Salmon Chowder, and I proceeded to meld the two. This is what I came up with.

Kim's Salmon Cod Chowder

3 tbsp butter
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped carrot
3 tbsp flour
1 cup clam juice
3 cups chicken broth
3 cups diced potatoes
1 lb salmon diced
1 lb rock cod diced
1 cup frozen peas
3 cups cream
1/2 cup milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3 tbsp flat leaf parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a saucepan.  Add celery, carrot, and onion; saute, stirring for several minutes until celery is tender.  Whisk the flour into the clam juice and add to the vegetables, stir and allow to thicken a bit.  Add chicken stock and potatoes and simmer, stirring occassionally until potatoes and carrots are tender, about 15 minutes.  Add salmon, cod and peas sitrring and cook for about 2 minutes.  Add the cream and milk along with  the cheese and parsley.  cook, stirring until the cheese has melted and the soup is beginning to bubble. Taste and salt and pepper to desired taste. 
Serve with a good french bread. (preferably home made and warm from the oven)
Makes 8 servings.

My attempt at a mise en place (notice the peas everywhere)


Putting in the cheese

The final product - thumbs up from the entire family.  When the kids give a thumbs up, it's gotta' be good!

John's Fiery Frittata

6 eggs
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
3.5 ounces of canned chopped jalapeno peppers, drained
8 oz low fat cottage cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/8 cup melted butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and grease a 2 quart casserole dish

In a large bowl, mix the eggs, flour, baking powder and salt.  Stir in the jalapeno's, cottage cheese, cheddar cheese and melted butter.  Pour into the prepared dish.

Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven.  Reduce the heat to 325 degrees and continue baking for another 20 to 25 minutes.  Cool slightly to let set and cut into small squares.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patrick's Day Dinner

Two years ago I "corned' my own beef for St. Patricks Day and was very pleased with the result.  I wanted to do it again the following year, but was unable to find a brisket to corn anywhere.  The story I got, was they were all sent out to be corned for St. Patrick's Day.  This year I was bound and determined to get a brisket to corn.  The smallest one I could find was well over 6 lbs, but no way was I going to pass it up considering my challenge in not being able to find one the year before.
I have a great book called Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn that gave me the idea to try this.  The same year I got this book I also found a Bon Appetit Magazine (March 2008) that had a "cooking class" article on brining your own corned beef.  Between the two and a few other recipes I found I came up with my own herb mix to go with the brine, which came out surprisingly good.

So to brine the brisket I poured 6 cups of water and a Sierra Nevada Torpedo Ale into a deep pan, added 1 1/2 cups kosher salt and stirred until dissolved.  You can use Insta Cure #1 at this point.  I didn't.  This is what will make your corned beef red.  Then add 1 cup packed golden brown sugar and stir until dissolved them mix in pickling spices. I made a mixture of my own pickling spices which consisted of 2 bay leaves, a couple fresh sprigs of thyme (from my garden) 1 tsp mustard seeds, 10 juniper berries, 10 crushed peppercorns, tsp coriander seeds, tbsp red pepper flakes, tbsp allspice berries,  1/2 crushed cinnamon stick, tsp whole cloves and a tsp of ground ginger.

I placed the beef in this pot, made sure it was submerged ( you can place a heavy plate on it to do this) and let is set until the morning of the 17th.  (6 days)

The night before St. Patricks Day I made the bread pudding I make almost every St. Patricks Day for the last 10 years.  Chocolate Chip and Raisin Bread Pudding with Bailey's Creme. This is a Bon Appetit Recipe from 1990 that I have finally become real consistent with, especially with the Creme Anglaise.
Here's the recipe:

1 1lb loaf cinnamon swirl raisin bread, ends and crusts removed, bread cut into cubes ( I used a cinnamon vanilla raisin bread this time)
1 1/2 cups milk
4 eggs
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup firmly packed golden brown sugar
1/3 cup Bailey's Original Irish Cream liquer
1/4 cup dark rum ( I used Sailor Jerry's spiced rum)
1 1/2 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup raisins
1 tblsp grated orange peel
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Bailey's Creme Anglaise - recipe to follow

Place bread cubes in large bowl.  Whisk milk, eggs, cream, liquor and runin another bowl.  Mix in chocolate, raisins, orange peels and vanilla, Pour liquid over bread cubes and mix.  Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter 9 inch springform pan.  Wrap outside of pan with foil (if you don't all that liquid will pour right on out.)Pour pudding mixture into prepared pan.  Bake until bread pudding is set in center about 50 minutes. Serves 8 2 1//2 cups)

Cook to lukewarm, Run small knife around pudding and release pan sides - serve war with sauce
(8 servings)
Bailey's Creme Anglaise
Makes about 2 1/2 cups

1 1/3 cups whipping cream
2/3 cups milk 2/3 cups vanilla bean splip lengthwise

Baileys Creme Anglaise ( makes 2 1/2 cups)
1 1/3 cups whipping cream
1/3 cups milk
2/3 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
 1/4 cup Baile's Original Irish Cream Liqueur

Scald cream and milk with vanilla bean in havey medium saucepan.

Meanwhile, whisk yolks and sugar in medium bowl to blend.  Slowly whisk in scalded mixture.  Return custard to saucepan and stir over low heat until mixture thickens and leaves a path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across, about  6 minutes; do not boil or mixture will curdle. Strain into medium bowl.  Stir in liqueur. Cover and chill. ( Can be prepared 1 day ahead)

St Paddy's morning I pulled out the brisket and rinsed it thoroughly.  I put it in a crock pot and poured one Guinness Stout over it and covered it with water.  I then put in 4 bay leaves, 1 tbsp of coriander seeds, 2 whole allspice berries, and a tbsp of red pepper flakes. I left it to cook for the day. When I got home I peeled and quartered 6 turnips, peeled 6 carrots and chopped into 2 inch pieces, 2 parsnips peeled and chopped into 2 inch pieces, quartered a head of cabbage and quartered 2 red onions and 6 white potatoes.  All of these I put in another pot with some of the juices from the Corned Beef, some more Guinness and water.  That was left to cook for a little over 1/2 hour.  In the mean time my husband and I made a stout mustard.  It consisted of 1/2 cup coarse grained Dijon. 2 Tbsp regular dijon, 2 tbsp Guinness Stout,  1 tbsp minced shallot and 1 tsp golden brown sugar.

It all turned out very delicious and I wish I  give you the pleasure of smelling what I cooked.  It was absolutely delicious.  I hope to keep doing this every St. Patricks Day from here on out.
 May the luck o' the Irish be with you!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Celery Cashew Soup

I ran on to this interesting recipe for Celery soup the other day.  I decided I was going to make it but I wasn't sure I'd like it, so I kept putting it off, until tonight.  When I decided to make it I didn't realize I didn't have all the ingredients I needed, and I couldn't get everything I needed here in our little town, so I made my own Celery Cashew Soup.  Here's my version

1/2 cup salted cashews
12 to 16 celery stalks - try to get young, fresh stalks.  They're less stringy
6 to 8 cups of water
Juice of 2 lemons
salt and pepper
4 tablespoons olie oil
4 cups vegetable broth
6 table spoons cilantro
4 to 8 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 cup white wine or sherry

Wash the celery and remove the tough outer strings. Chop into 1 inch pieces and put in a pot with the water and lemon juice.  Let sit for 10 minutes.  Add 1 tsp salt and a pinch of pepper.  Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain.

Pour 4 tablespoons of live oil into pan, heat and add the celery back into the pan. Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Add vegetable broth, homemade preferably, cilantro and garlic and cook another 5 minutes.  Add cashews and puree in a blender in batches.

Return the soup to the pot, stir in the white wine or sherry, simmer for 3 to 4 minutes.  Serve immediately.  Top with croutons if you want.  Personally, I think crumbled bacon would really take it over the top.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Crack Pie

A friend of mine at work turned me onto this thing called Crack Pie.  A Pie made at Momofuku's Bakery and Milk Bar in Manhattan.  You can order them and have them shipped to your home for a whopping $44 plus shipping, or you can just make your own. There is a reason it's called Crack Pie, they're over the top good and a very addictive.  Here's the recipe if you dare to make one:

Cookie for crust:
2/3 cup plus 1 tbsp (3oz) flour
Scant 1/8 tsp baking powder
Scant 1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick ) softened butter
1/3 cup ( 2 1/2 oz) light brown sugar
3 tbsp ( 1 1/4 oz ) sugar
1 egg
Scant 1 cup (3 1/2 oz) rolled oats

Heat oven to 375 degrees

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat teh butter, brown sugar and sugar until light and fluffy.

Whisk the egg into the butter mixture until fully incorporated

Whit the mixer running, beat in the flour mixture, a little at a time, until fully combined.  Stir in the oats until incorporated.

Spread teh mixture onto a 9 x 13 inch baking sheet and bake until golden brown and set, about 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool to the touch on a rack.  Crumble the cooled cookie to use in the crust. 

1 recipe crumbled cookie, above

1/4 cup (half stick) butter
1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar (3/4 oz)
1/8 tsp salt

Combine the crumbled cookie, butter, brown sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse until evenly combined and blended ( a little of the mixture clumped between your fingers should hold together).  Divide the crust between 2 (10 inch) pie tins.  Press the crust into each shell to form a thin, even layer along the bottom and sides of the tins.  Set the prepared crusts aside while you prepare the filling. 

1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 oz) sugar
3/4 cup plus a scant 3 tbsp (7 oz) light brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup plus 1 tsp (3/4 oz) milk powder
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
3/4 cup plus a scant 2 tbsp heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 egg yolks
2 prepared crusts 
powdered sugar, garnish

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, brown sugar, salt and milk powder.  Whisk in the melted butter, then whisk in the heavy cream and vanilla.

Gently whisk in the egg yolks, being careful not to add too much air

Divide teh filling evenly between the 2 prepared pie shells

Bake the pies, one at a time, for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325 degrees and bake until the filling is slightly jiggly and golden brown (similar to pecan pie), about 10 minutes.  Remoe the pies and cool on a rack.

Refrigerate the cooled pies until well chilled.  The pies are meant to be served cold, and the filling will be gooey.  Dust with powdered sugar before serving (very unnecessary
in my opinion and the pie is good slightly warm - not just good, but orgasmic kind of good.)

OK!  Enjoy your Crack!