Saturday, December 29, 2007

Cocktail Sauce (For Shrimp)

I will admit to cheating here: I buy the pre-peeled, pre-cooked shrimps to save myself the trouble, but you could just as easily clean and cook your own shrimp if you so desire. This is Alton Brown's recipe.

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup prepared chili sauce
4 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon sugar
Few grinds fresh black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sprinkle Old Bay seasoning

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Golden Pear Cream Puffs

I made these for New Year's Eve dinner, and they were delicious! The recipe is from Martha Stewart, and originally was meant to make about 40 cream puffs, but I cut it down a bit. It's definitely a special occasion dessert, as it requires a lot of effort, but I think it is well worth it.

For the Filling:
3 medium pears
6 egg yolks
pinch of salt
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbs cornstarch
1 2/3 C whole milk
1 Tbs butter, softened
1/2 C heavy cream

For the Pastry:
1/2 C butter
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 C flour
5 large egg, lightly beaten (plus one more, just in case)

For the Syrup:
1/4 C butter
3 large pears, peeled, quartered, cored, and cut into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 C sugar
1 tsp lemon juice

Start by making the filling: Peel and core the first pear, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Place in a steamer over boiling water and cook until soft, about 15 minutes. Let cool. Puree in a blender until completely smooth.

Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in the cornstarch. Heat milk in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until bubbles begin to form, about 3 minutes. Using a ladle, gradually add the hot milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Return mixture to pan; cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture begins to bubble and becomes very thick, about 8 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the sides and bottom of the pan as the mixture thickens. Remove from heat.

Pour through a large-mesh sieve into a bowl. Add butter and stir until melted. Add the pear puree; stir to combine. Place plastic wrap on the surface to prevent a skin from forming, and refrigerate until cold, about a half hour.

Meanwhile, make the pastry. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat 1 C water, the butter, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until butter has melted and the mixture is boiling. Remove from heat. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour. Return to medium heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan and forms a film on the bottom, about 4 1/2 minutes.

Transfer the pastry mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until slightly cooled, about 2 minutes. Raise the speed to medium. Add the egg and mix until incorporated. The batter should be shiny. Test the batter by touching it with your finger and lifting to form a string. If a string does not form, add a little more egg until it does.

Transfer to a pastry bag and pipe two-inch rounds onto a baking sheet lined with parchment, 2 inches apart. Whisk the remaining egg and a little water and brush over the tops of the rounds.

Bake until rounds are puffed and pale golden, about 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake until golden, about 20-25 minutes more. Turn off the oven and prop the door open with a wooden spoon to release steam; let puffs dry for about 15 minutes. Using a spatula, transfer to a wire rack and let cool before filling.

Now back to the filling: Put the heavy cream into the bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment. Beat on medium high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold whipped cream into the refrigerated pastry cream.

Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4 inch tip. Poke a small hole in the bottom of each pastry puff with a skewer. fill the puffs with pastry cream. Arrange the puffs in a large pyramid, or in small pyramids for individual serving.

Now make the caramel sauce. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add pears, and toss to coat with the butter. Sprinkle sugar over the pears. Cook, stirring occasionally, until deeply golden, about 30 minutes.

Add lemon juice and 1/4 C of water. Cook, stirring occasionally until the liquid is syrupy, about 3 minutes more. Drizzle over the cream puffs.

French Toast Bread Pudding

This is a recipe my mother came up with after we fell in love with something similar at a restaurant when I was a child. It's always a big hit at brunch, and is really good leftover. I recommend soaking it overnight, as it gives the pudding a little extra moisture.

1 C heavy cream
1 C whole milk
4 large eggs
1/4 tsp salt
2-3 Tbs sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
10-12 oz cinnamon challah, cut into slices

Beat together all ingredients except the bread. Break the bread into large chunks and piece it into a greased 8" square baking pan. Pour the egg mixture over the bread. Cover and let soak in the refrigerator at least one and a half hours, or overnight. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 50 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Roast Chicken Redux

I posted some new pics of my (Jamie Oliver's) roast chicken recipe from tonight's dinner. I don't know why I don't make roasted chicken more often; it's so incredibly simple, and always a winner.

Click here for the recipe.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Dad's Potato Latkes

My dad makes these latkes once a year for Chanuka. Unlike the traditional latke, which is made with shredded potato and fried until crispy, these latkes are made with pureed potato and therefore have the consistency of a regular pancake. We like to serve them with homemade applesauce and sour cream.

1/4 C milk
1 egg
2 C raw, diced potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes, or 3/4 lb)
1 small onion, diced
2 Tbs flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder

Put all ingredients (in the order listed) into a blender. Cover and blend on high speed until all the potatoes go through the blades (do not overblend, or the potatoes will be liquified!).

Pour in small amounts onto a hot, greased griddle or frying pan. Fry until golden brown on both sides, turning once. Allow 15 minutes cooking time per batch.

Cake Donuts

Cake donuts are my favorite kind, especially Old-Fashioneds. These ones come from the Food Network and are very tasty. I cut mine into star shapes, because I didn't have a round cutter, and then dusted them in cinnamon sugar.

1 gallon vegetable or canola oil
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup canned evaporated milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1 teaspoon fine salt
For coating the doughnuts (optional): 1 cup granulated sugar, or 1 cup granulated sugar mixed with 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, or 1 cup sifted confectioners' sugar

Melt the shortening in a small saucepan over medium heat. Set aside to cool slightly but still liquid.
In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and shortening together on medium speed, until just combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the milk and vanilla, and continue beating until the mixture is light, about 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, mace, and salt into a medium bowl.

Reduce the mixer's speed to low, add the flour mixture until just combined. (The texture of the dough will be soft and loose.) Transfer the dough to a large piece of plastic wrap and wrap it well. (Make sure you scrap off all the dough clinging to the paddle.) Refrigerate the dough for 4 hours or overnight.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll the chilled dough out into a rectangle about 1/2-inch thick. Dip the edges of a 2 1/2-inch-round doughnut cutter in flour and cut the dough into doughnuts. Place the doughnuts and holes on a baking sheet lined with parchment.

Put enough vegetable shortening into a tall, heavy-bottomed pot to fill it about a third of the way up. Heat the shortening over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer inserted in the oil registers 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.

Working in batches, fry the doughnuts and holes, turning once, until they are golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the doughnuts to the paper towels to drain and cool. Repeat until all the doughnuts and holes are fried. (Make sure the shortening returns to 375 degrees F. between batches.)

For sugared doughnuts, roll the doughnuts in sugar or cinnamon sugar while they are still warm. To cover the doughnuts with confectioners' sugar, allow them to cool completely before rolling in the sugar.

Yeast Donuts

This recipe is for the fluffier type of donut. They require a little more work, but I think it is worth it! The recipe is from Alton Brown. My only criticism is that the glaze never really set up, so the donuts were a bit sticky. Perhaps more sugar to milk next time? Also, be warned: the dough will seem way too wet, but don't be afraid to really flour it when you are rolling it out, and it will come out fine.

1 1/2 cups milk
2 1/2 ounces vegetable shortening, approximately 1/3 cup
2 packages instant yeast
1/3 cup warm water (95 to 105 degrees F)
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
About 2 C all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting surface
Canola or vegetable oil, for frying (1 to 1/2 gallons, depending on fryer)
For the glaze: 1/4 cup whole milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 cups confectioners' sugar

Place the milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat just until warm enough to melt the shortening. Place the shortening in a bowl and pour warmed milk over. Set aside.

In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl of a stand mixer and add the milk and shortening mixture, first making sure the milk and shortening mixture has cooled to lukewarm. Add the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and half of the flour. Using the paddle attachment, combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined. Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well. Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 3/8-inch thick. Cut out dough using a 2 1/2-inch doughnut cutter or pastry ring and using a 7/8-inch ring for the center whole. Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 365 degrees F. Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time. Cook for 1 minute per side. Transfer to a cooling rack placed in baking pan. Allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes prior to glazing, if desired.

Once the donuts have cooled, make the glaze. Combine milk and vanilla in a medium saucepan and heat over low heat until warm. Sift confectioners' sugar into milk mixture. Whisk slowly, until well combined. Remove the glaze from the heat and set over a bowl of warm water.

Dip doughnuts into the glaze, 1 at a time, and set on a draining rack placed in a half sheet pan for 5 minutes before serving.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Rice Pudding

I've been making this recipe on cold and rainy days for years. It's really more of a traditional Arroz con Leche than a real "pudding" (because of its lack of eggs), but it's delicious. Be warned: you will need to stand over the stove, stirring, for about 45 minutes, to keep the milk from burning.

1 C arborio or short grain rice
3 C milk
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 vanilla pod (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
1/2 C sugar

Combine the rice, milk, cinnamon and vanilla in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and stir constantly until the rice is soft, and most of the liquid has been absorbed. If you need more liquid, you can add more milk or water. Once the pudding has reached the desired consistency, stir in the sugar. Top with a sprinkling of cinnamon.