Tuesday, February 24, 2009

“Food is not about impressing people. It's about making them feel comfortable.”

Quote by: Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

I love this recipe because it is so simple, and I know that I am putting a healthy dish on the table. This is a quicker version of the old fashioned Ham Hocks and Lima beans that grandma used to dish up. I have found that no matter how simple or complex the pallet, this is a sure pleaser. Now, if you don't think you like Lima beans, give them a try again (many people do not like the green version found in frozen mixed vegetables or canned soups). If you are on the fence about whether or not you like them then read this:http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=59 If you are positive that you don't like Lima beans, then try using great northern beans. You can class this recipe up by adding some fried bacon to it or any vegetables you like. I have found, that leaving this recipe in it's simpler state is best. It is warm and comforting and extremely filling. When I wanted to take a picture of it after dinner, I found the pot to be empty...so unfortunately, you don't get to see the finished product. It pretty much looks the same as below, but a little less liquid. On the subject of the liquid, if you are a broth person, you might want to simmer it with the lid on or add a bit more broth. I personally like it when the beans absorb all of the broth and there is just enough liquid left to sop up the bottom of your bowl with some good Tuscan bread. I hope that you enjoy it!

Oh by the way...if you want to make this in a crock pot, it will work out great. It will be much juicier. I would cook it on medium for about four hours or low for six.

TUSCAN LIMA BEANS AND HAM

1 package dry Lima beans
1 box or 4 cups chicken stock
2 large carrots, peeled and cut
2 large celery stalks, cut
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons butter or margarine or olive oil
15 oz stewed tomatoes
1 1/2 cup ham, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon thyme



Before you go to bed, the night before, fill a large pot with six cups cold water and soak the Lima beans in it.






In the morning, strain and rinse the beans.
In a large pot, melt the butter/margarine/olive oil, and saute the onion, garlic, carrot and celery together until the onion is translucent.


Next add the Lima beans and season with salt, ground pepper and thyme. Add chicken stock and tomatoes.


Bring the mixture to a rapid boil and then reduce to a simmer.


Add the ham, and allow to simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.


garnish with some freshly grated Parmesan and serve with crunchy, fresh bread.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

French Chefs please ignore my next posting


I might have to go into hiding after posting this recipe. Bearnaise sauce is far more complicated to make than this recipe. But I specialize in making gourmet easy, and quick. And if you compare the ingredients in a traditional Bearnaise and mine...they are pretty much the same. I just cut to the chse and blend the stuff, and it comes out pretty much the same. You can't not love a Bearnaise that takes all of five minutes to make! In the picture I have served the sauce over a potato gallet under a filet mignon with crab meat and roasted asparagus (Oscar style). I thought you might want to make this for your Oscar parties this week.

ZESTY BEARNAISE SAUCE
2 Tablespoons Tarragon vinegar
2 Tablespoons white wine
¼ cup shallots, finely chopped
pinch of clack pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon tarragon leaves, chopped
3 egg yolks
¾ cup butter
juice of a lemon

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Combine vinegar, wine, and shallots in a saucepan. Reduce until half as much. In a blender, beat the eggs. Next, add the vinegar. Lastly, add the butter a few tablespoons a few tablespoons at a time (emulsification). Blend until smooth and then add lemon juice, salt and pepper. Keep warm until you serve

PERFECT ASPARAGUS

Brush a bunch of asparagus lightly with olive oil and arrange on a baking rack placed over a baking sheet. Lightly sprinkle with kosher salt and coarse black pepper. Roast in a 350 degree oven for five minutes until just tender to the bite.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt! Lucy Van Pelt (in Peanuts, by Charles M. Schulz)

Chocolate causes certain endocrine glands to secrete hormones that affect your feelings and behavior by making you happy. Therefore, it counteracts depression, in turn reducing the stress of depression. Your stress-free life helps you maintain a youthful disposition, both physically and mentally. So, eat lots of chocolate!


There are few things that I like better than a great recipe that you always go back to. This will be your "forever" chocolate cake. This cake is so simple and works in any pan for anything. It is one of my most popular recipes...and because I love you...here it is!

TRIPLE CHOCOLATE SWEETHEART CAKES

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 cups sifted cake flour (sifted, then measured)
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ cups (packed) golden brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
1/2 cup lukewarm water
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350̊F. Spray bundtlette pans with floured vegetable spray.. Whisk flour and next 4 ingredients in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat brown sugar and butter in large bowl until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Beat in dry ingredients in 3 additions alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions. Beat in 1/2 cup lukewarm water. Stir in chocolate chips.
Divide batter among prepared pans (about 2 1/3 cups for each). Smooth tops. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 22 minutes. Cool completely in pans on racks. Serve cakes in a pool of the creme anglaise with fresh berries.





CREME ANGLAISE

2 cups cream
1 vanilla bean
1/3 cup sugar
4 egg yolks

In a metal bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar. Meanwhile on the stove, over medium heat, scald the cram and vanilla bean. Remove the cream from the heat and temper into the egg mixture. Then, pour the combined mixture back into the saucepan and return to the heat, stirring constantly for two minutes. Mixture should stick to the back of a spoon and you should be able to run your finger through the mixture and have it leave a streak. Remove from heat and serve hot or cold.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

CHICKEN POT PIE -OOOOOH MY

As requested- the chicken pot pie recipe that was mentioned during class last month. Sometimes I skip the whole poaching of the chicken and use leftover chicken or turkey. If you like cranberries, I love cranberries served on the side. Sorry, I don't have a picture for this one...yet.

CRUST 101

2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter very cold and cut into pieces
¼ cup ice water

In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter pieces and, using a pastry blender or 2 dinner knives held between your fingers, cut the butter into the flour and continue until the mixture is crumbly and looks like the size of peas. You can also pulse in a food processor.
Add the water one tablespoon at a time, mixing in between additions (or pulse). You'll notice that a solid piece of dough is forming. If the mixture is still dry and crumbly add another tablespoon of water. The dough is ready when it holds together without crumbling. Best if refrigerated for about an hour.
Shape into a ball and flatten slightly. Try not to overwork this dough with your hands. A quick knead is fine, but your hands give off heat and if you handle it too much it will lose the tenderness and flakiness that makes pie dough so good!


CHICKEN POT PIE

4 pounds chicken breasts with skin and bones
4 to 6 cups chicken broth
3 large carrots, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large turnip, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 ribs celery
1 white onion
1 cup peas
1 cup green beans
1 cup corn kernels
1 cup potato, diced
½ cup zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, any vegetables you love
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
3 medium leeks, sliced
2 large shallots, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whipping cream

Place chicken breasts in heavy large pot. Add just enough broth to cover chicken. Bring broth to boil; reduce heat to low. Cover pot and simmer until chicken is just cooked through, skimming surface occasionally, about 20 minutes. Using tongs, transfer chicken to plate and cool.
Add carrots, celery, potato, onion and turnips to chicken broth in pot. Simmer uncovered until vegetables are just tender, about 10 minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables and simmer for five more minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer vegetables to a bowl.
Strain broth; reserve 4 cups. Remove skin and bones from chicken. Cut meat into 1/2- to 3/4-inch pieces. Add chicken to vegetables.
Melt butter in same pot over medium heat. Add leeks, shallots and thyme. Sauté until tender, about 8 minutes. Add flour and stir 2 minutes. Stir in 4 cups broth. Increase heat to high and bring to boil, stirring constantly. Add cream and boil until sauce thickens enough to coat spoon, whisking frequently, about 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour gravy over mixture in bowl. Stir to blend. Cool till no more steam rises.
Preheat to 400̊F. Roll out crust dough into two large circles. Turn dough over onto filling. Trim dough overhang; tuck dough edge inside pan. Cut slits in crust to allow steam to escape.
Place pot pie on top rack and bake until crust is golden and gravy is bubbling, about 50 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, February 9, 2009

BLINTZ PIE

2 egg whites
6 whole eggs
1 ½ cups sour cream
2 tsp. orange zest
½ cup orange juice
¼ cup softened butter
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ cup sugar

15 oz cottage cheese
8 oz cream cheese
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 egg yolks
2 tsp. vanilla

In a food processor blend the first 9 ingredients together. Pour into a large greased rectangular pan. The blend the next five ingredients together in the food processor. Spoon over the batter in the pan and then run your knife through it to create a marble like pattern. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 50 minutes or until puffed and lightly browned. Let cool. Serve with fresh raspberry sauce and raspberries.


FRUIT AND COUSCOUS SALAD

1 lb. Couscous
½ cup sugar
2 2/3 cups water
1 cup strawberries
1 cup kiwi
1 cup mandarin oranges
1 cup grapes
1 cup raspberries
1/4 cup coconut
½ cup orange juice
2 cups whipped cream
4 Tablespoons powdered sugar
1 vanilla bean


In a saucepan bring the water and sugar to a boil. Add the couscous and cook according to the package instructions (this is due to the variety of sizes). Remove from heat, rinse, and strain well. Add half of the vanilla bean’s seeds and orange juice and mix well. Chill the couscous well. Chop the different fruits however you wish. I like to dice the fruits. Beat the whipping cream to medium peaks and add the powdered sugar and remaining vanilla bean seeds. Toss the fruits, coconut, and couscous together. Allow to sit for just a bit before serving. Serve with whipped cream.




POTATO HASH WITH PANCETTA AND ASPARAGUS

2 cups yams, peeled and diced
2 cups russet potatoes, peeled and diced
½ cup green pepper, peeled and diced
½ cup white onion, peeled and diced
½ cup asparagus, diced
1/4 cup tomato, pulp scooped out and diced
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/3 lb. Pancetta


On a parchment lined sheet pan, lay out the pancetta and back for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven and set in a warm place. In a large frying pan, heat the oil and add the potatoes, peppers, and onions and fry for about 20 minutes. This step can also be done on a foil lined sheet pan in the oven for 25 minutes. Next, add the asparagus and spices and continue to fry until golden brown. Remove from heat and serve with the diced tomato and crumbled pancetta sprinkled over the hash.