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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fish en Croute or Fish in Puff Pastry

Every time I walk into my kitchen I look at my new gleaming refrigerator with disdain. I hate hate hate my refrigerator. It's a french door with bottom freeze and an ice maker that takes an inordinate amount of refrigerator space.  The shelf arrangement lacks function and the freezer is a mosh pit.  Worst of all it screeches out when the doors are not properly closed due to the fact the doors must be pushed to close not just a gentle swing like my previous side by side.  This leads me to Fish en Croute.  I need room in the freeze it is getting hot and time to make sorbet.  Sliding open the freeze I scan the items for a complete meal, wild salmon, Trader Joe's puff pastry, Haricots verts and mushrooms from the fridge.  That should make a minor dent and allow for one sorbet.

Next a recipe, first I was going for a glazed salmon; however, two salmon pieces and five people don't add up.  Ah memories of summers in Paris scrumptious croissants, I've got it Fish en Croute.  Now you would think with nine Julia Child's cookbooks, just as many Jacques Pepin and several Wolfgang Puck I would have not troubles, but I did.  I started with Julia then continued with Puck and on to Pepin with no luck, ugh.  I started to scan other books and still nothing until I peered at the top shelve, for oversize books, oh joy!   There sat snuggled between Cakebake Cellars and Cookwise...Childs.  Which was odd since I do not shelve my books in abc order.  Finally I found the recipe I was looking for in Julia Childs and Company.

The kids went crazy over this dish and put it in the birthday dinner repertoire.

Fish en Croute
from Julia Childs
Julia Childs and Company

2 large pieces of wild salmon
salt and pepper
4 springs of organic italian parsley
2 large springs of organic dill
1 sheet of Trader Joe's puff pastry
egg glaze (one egg whisk in 1t water)

~ preheat oven 400 (I used convection)
~ roll out puff pastry to 1/8 inch on floured surface
~ cut pastry in to two equal parts with pizza cutter
~ position one piece of fish on each half
~ sprinkle fish with salt and pepper
~ top with parsley and dill
~ wrap puff pasty around fish (here you can get creative like Julia and make it a fish, me a basic square with scrolling sides)
~ brush with egg glaze
~ place wrapped fish on greased baking sheet
~ bake 17 minutes or until golden brown with fish internal temperature 160-165

~~ with the extra puff pastry I made cheese sticks
~ roll out to 1/8 inch thickness/thinness
~ brush with egg wash
~ shred sharp cheddar cheese and sprinkle on top
~ cut into strips with pizza slicer
~ place on greased baking sheet
~ bake 375 (convection) 8 minutes or until golden

happy tummies and smiling happy faces

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hamburger Buns

There is nothing like a great hamburger.  A little organic beef, salt and pepper the perfect combination as they say keep it simple sweetheart.  I made my pan-seared burgers . But to make the ultimate burger, I needed a great bun.  A few years ago I purchased Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Bread.  Previous owned and with the most awesome hand written notations, so I decided to go with his bun recipe.  

Fast easy and wonderful best describes these buns.  The perfect marriage of hamburger and bun.

The Hamburger Bun
from Bernard Clayton's
New Complete Book Of Bread

5+ cups of bread flour
2 packages of dry yeast

2T margarine
2 cups hot water (120-130 degrees)
3/4T sea salt 

~ mix 2 cups flour and yeast in mixing bowl and stir to blend
~ cut margarine into small pieces and beat in to flour mixture 3 minutes
~ add hot water and beat with flat beater
~ add the salt
~ continue beating until dough is like a smooth batter
~ add 1/2 cup of flour at a time until dough has formed a rough shaggy mass
~ switch to dough hook and knead for 6 to 8 minutes
~ sprinkle a bit of flour if the dough sticks to the sides (do not overload - dough should be a bit wet and form a nice window when finished)
~ place dough in oiled warmed bowl (I used a metal bowl I filled and emptied with hot water)
~ cover with plastic  wrap and put in a warm place (80 to 100 degrees) for 30-40 minutes
~ turn dough out on to a floured surface
~ cut into 10 to 12 pieces
~ shape into balls pulling dough down  to create a smooth top
~ place dough balls on corn meal baking sheet ( I used parchment too)
~ cover with dish towel for 30 minutes or until soft and puffy
~ preheat oven 400 degrees
~ bake 20 minutes or until nicely browned
~ cool on rack

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Snicker Doodles

My favorite cookies with a dash of cinnamon sugar and a good amount of butter, how can you go wrong?  I do prefer the soft and squish over the cake like, but really I snicker for any doodle.

Crunchy cake like delights are quick and easy to make.  I put the cinnamon sugar in a large measuring cup and tossed the cookie balls in it to create a perfect coating.

Snicker Doodle
from Alice Medrich
Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy-Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cookies

3 cups (13.5 oz) unbleached all purpose flour
2t cream of tartar
1t baking soda
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 pound (10.5 oz) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cup (10.5 oz) plus 2T sugar
2 large eggs
2t ground cinnamon

~ preheat oven 400
~ combine flour, tartar, soda and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine
~ beat butter and 1 1/2 cup sugar until smooth and creamy
~ beat eggs in butter mixture until just blended
~ add flour mixture and mix low speed until just incorporated
~ gather dough and either put in large measuring cup covered with plastic wrap (what I did) or gather into ball and wrap in plastic wrap.
~ refrigerate until firm at least 30 minutes
~ mix remaining sugar with cinnamon in small bowl or large measuring cup
~ form 1 inch balls of dough
~ roll or toss in cinnamon sugar to cover
~ line cookie sheets with parchment or grease
~ bake for 10-12 minutes ( she suggests rotating half way through but I did not)
~ cool on baking sheet for about 4 minutes and then transfer to rack until completely cooled
~ store in air tight container for several days

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Irish Soda Bread

Easiest bread ever!  Since yeast is not required.  Taste great and simple, a win win recipe.

Irish Soda Bread
from James Beard
Beard on Bread

4 cups all purpose flour
1t sea salt
3/4 t baking soda
3/4 t double acting baking powder
1 1/2 to 2 cups buttermilk

~ preheat oven 375
~ combine the dry ingredients and mix to blend
~ add enough buttermilk to make a soft dough (similar to biscuit dough, but firm enough to hold its shape)
~ knead in lightly floured surface for 2 to 3 minutes until smooth and velvety
~ form into a round loaf
~ place on oiled or buttered cookie sheet
~ cut an x on the top
~ bake in preheated oven 35-40 minutes

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cobb Salad

I hate eggs.  So, unless it is cooked invisible e.g., mixed in cake, keep it away from me! Pad Thai, Cobb Salad egg-less or else I may puke.  Presented and enjoyed, egg-less Brown Derby Cobb Salad.

The recipe calls are iceberg lettuce, watercress, Romaine and curly endive; however, my lettuce overflows in my garden, pictured above.  I used butter lettuce, red leaf and curly something that reseeded from last year.

mmmmm fancy radishes not an usual Cobb Salad item but I like to throw my garden booty any chance I get.  My tomatoes are not producing yet, although I saw the first flower today...soon.  I have about 15 plants growing and my everlasting yellow tomato plant I purchased 3 years ago from Walmart.  It has survived blazing hot days as well as freezing nights.  
The recipe calls for peeling and seeding the tomatoes.  Lazy me says not way!  Plus I like small sweet tomatoes and could not imaging the endless peeling.

Faken bacon yummy but am bothered by the GMO soy so everything in moderation and it is virtually grease free.

Brown Derby Cobb Salad
from Rose Dosti
Dear SOS Thirty Years of Recipe Requests to the 
Los Angeles Times

lettuce ( 1/2 head iceburg, 1/2 bunch watercress, 1 small bunch of curly endive and head of romaine)
3T minced chives
1 basket of organic cherry tomatoes
6 strips of faken bacon
1 avocado peeled and diced
1/2 cup of crumbled Roquefort cheese
 "special french dressing"

~ chop lettuce and mix
~ arrange or just mix it all up (because it all goes the same place) chives, tomatoes, bacon, avocado and cheese in rows over lettuce
~ pour dressing over the salad

Special French Dressing
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4t sugar
1 1/2t lemon juice
1/2t salt
1/2t pepper
1/2t Worcestershire sauce
3/4t dry mustard
1/2 minced garlic clove
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup safflower oil

~ combine all ingredients
~ chill
~ shake well before using

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Chan Dara Chicken Curry

L.A. Times Thursday Food Section:  In the day, I would cut and save all of the restaurant requested recipes.  So imagine my delight when I found the book Thirty Years of Restaurant Requests to the Los Angeles Times.  This weekend I sat and covered the pages with to make post-its.  First up, chicken curry since we always order it when at Thai restaurants and the recipe contains eight ingredients and four lines of instruction. 

Now you would think easy as can be and it is yet I managed to forget to add the curry powder at the beginning of the recipe, so I threw it in at the end along with more curry paste.  I added the extra curry paste because the color was not perfect.  I am a visual cook and I rarely taste as I cook.  It works for me. 

Thumbs up all around.  Dinner very good and lunch the next day was more than amazing.  I used a mandolin to cut the potatoes and by lunch the next day they became one with the sauce, yum!

Chan Dara Chicken Curry
from Rose Dosti
Dear SOS Thirty Years of Recipe Requests to the 
Los Angeles Times

1/4 cup safflower oil
1/4 cup yellow curry paste (recipe calls for red but it tends to have peanut, so not for us)
1 pound boneless chicken breast cut with poultry scissors
1 1/2 pound boneless chicken thighs with poultry scissors
4 1/2T fish sauce
6 or more organic potatoes sliced with a mandolin
4 or more organic carrots sliced with a mandolin
2 cans of coconut milk light or full fat
3t yellow curry paste
3t curry powder

~ whisk oil and curry paste together
~ put in large skillet  high heat 1 minute
~ add chicken, fish sauce,  potatoes and carrots
~ stir fry until chicken is golden brown
~ add coconut milk and bring to a boil
~ reduce heat add remaining curry paste and powder
~ cover and simmer 30 minutes

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Coq au Vin

I was not going to eat dinner.  It's hot outside and I am sweating; however, I took a nibble of the chicken and my taste buds flipped.  After the first bite, my youngest stated, "This is a make again!" The meal ended with 6 hands digging into the carcass and the smacking or lips.
At four o'clock I grabbed some cookbooks and decided on chicken, Jacques Pepin and a pressure cooker.  Now all I needed was a recipe.  Sweet and sour caught my eye, a real crowd pleaser in my house, but I was not sold.  I flipped the page and Coq Au Vin jumped out at me or rather the use of pearl onions.  Recently, I purchased frozen ones at Trader Joes without any idea how to use them.  Now to merge two recipes with a lot of modifications: The Official Presto Pressure Cooker Cookbook and  Jacques Pepin Today's Gourmet and my laziness at not wanting to cut up a whole chicken.

Coq au Vin or Poulet au Vin Rouge
from Jacques Pepin, Presto and Me

1 kosher organic chicken
12 pearl onions peeled or 1/2 bag of frozen not defrosted
2T olive oil
1/2t sugar
8oz crimini mushrooms quartered (I was told more next time so 16oz next time)
1 sweet onion sliced
1 medium organic carrot sliced
1 cup red wine (I used 2 buck Chuck cab)
1 cup water
3 garlic cloves minced
3 fresh thyme springs
2 bay leaves
freshly ground pepper
1t corn starch dissolved in 2T red wine
1/4 cup brandy

~ place pearl onions with 1T olive oil, the sugar and 1/2 cup water in a sauce pan
~ bring to a boil over high heat
~ boil until water  evaporates and onions start to fry
~ cook until onions are browned on all sides
~ add mushrooms saute for 1 minute
~ set aside and cover
~ heat pressure cooker pot and add 1T olive oil
~ brown chicken on both sides
~ remove chicken
~ add sliced sweet onion and carrots and saute until onions are soft and start to brown
~ put chicken back in pot
~ add 1 cup wine, 1/2 cup water, thyme, garlic, bay leaves and pepper
~ place lid on and bring to high pressure
~ maintain high pressure for 13 minutes
~ allow pressure to drop on it's own
~ remove chicken and plate
~ remove onions and carrots and discard
~ add cornstarch mixture to cooking liquid heat high heat
~ bring to a boil and allow to thicken
~ add mushroom/pearl onion mixture and their juices to cooking liquid
~ pour brandy into liquid
~ continue boiling about 2 minutes
~ top chicken with sauce

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

corned beef and cabbage

One of my favorite meals is corned beef and cabbage yet I never make it.  I looked through my pressure cooker cookbooks and to my surprise I came up empty handed.  Google to the rescue!  The first search page had a recipe from with rave reviews.  I decided to give it a try.

My review:::  eh, it took me 3 hours from start to finish.  The beef was a bit dry and the vegetables over cooked.  Below is my adaptation to hopefully make the recipe right.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

4 cups water
2 1/2 pound corned beef
3 garlic cloves quartered
2 bay leaves
5 organic carrots
2 heads of baby cabbages cut into 8 wedges
6 organic potatoes quartered

~ place water in pressure cooker and bring to boil
~ add the beef and skim, skim, skim
~ add the garlic and bay leaves
~ secure the lid and bring to high pressure
~ cook 1 hour 
~ quick release pressure
~ add vegetables and bring to high pressure
~ cook 4 minutes
~ quick release pressure
~ serve

Chipotle Style Chips

Citrus, zesty, salty and sour...I am salivating.  The little people are in love with Chipotle's chips and "guc", gucamole.  Great after school snack.

Chipolte Style Chips
our interpretation

salted organic tortilla chips
1 lime
sour salt

~ dump bag of chips in a large bowl
~ squeeze half of the lime on top
~ mix thoroughly
~ squeeze other half
~ sprinkle sour salt to taste
~ toss and add more sour salt if necessary

serve with gucamole

Where's the the Taco...Beef Taco's

Watching Survivor, I finally some time to breath and catch up, yeah!  No Tivo, so as the commercials roll I fondly recalled the classic Burger King commercials with the elderly lady demanding, "Where's the beef!".  We thought it was so funny but McDonald's golden arches and most wonderful french fries collected our coins.

American Test Kitchen beef taco recipe wonderful and versatile.  If you are not a red meat eater, try white meat ground turkey; my preference.

Beef Taco
from American Test Kitchen - Cook's Illustrated
Family Cookbook

1t safflower oil
3/4 sweet onion minced
3 garlic cloves minced
2T chili poser
1t cumin
1t coriander
1/2t fresh oregano minced
salt to taste
1 pound 90% lean ground beef or white meat ground turkey
1/2 cup smooth canned tomato sauce
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
3/4t cider vinegar
1t light brown sugar
flour or corn tortillas

~ heat oil in medium skillet over medium heat
~ add onions and cook until softened about 5 minutes
~ stir in garlic, spices and 1t salt and cook 30 seconds
~ stir in the ground beef and cook breaking it up with a wooden spoon unto no longer pink about 5 minutes
~ stir in tomato sauce, broth, vinegar and sugar and simmer until thickened about 10 minutes
~ season with salt to taste
~ serve with tortillas and all the rest  

from our garden- radishes, two types of lettuce and arugula

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Beets and Carrots in a Lime Vinaigrette

side side succulent side -- love it-- the color and variety.  Although my kids picked, they ate vegetables.  Score one for the Mom. Another fast and easy dish to add to the repertoire.

Beets and Carrots in a Lime Vinaigrette
from Moosewood Collective
Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant

2 medium organic beets peeled and cubed
2 medium organic carrots cut
1 cup frozen organic peas
1 medium organic cucumber cubed
6T safflower oil
3T fresh lime juice
2T chopped fresh cilantro
1 small head of minced garlic
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

~ lightly steam the beets, carrots and peas in separate batches until tender
~ mix them in a large bowl
~ add cucmber
~ combine the dressing ingredients
~ toss the vegetables with the dressing and chill
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