Sunday, March 27, 2011

Grown Up Tuna Noodle Casserole

When I was a kid I loved tuna noodle casserole.  Since my Mom usually was cooking things like schnitzel, or gulas with knedlicky, it was always a treat to have American food.  I even loved it on those occasions when I would get "hot lunch" at school instead of carrying brown-bagged liverworst or sardine sandwiches on homemade rye bread (try trading THOSE sandwiches to your typical American second-grader!).

Anyway, since we are having a cold snap in North Carolina this week (high temp 45 degrees), Doug and I were craving comfort food... and of course tuna casserole came to mind.  We decided to update the classic Campbell's soup recipe with a homemade cream of mushroom soup spiked with sherry, and then tossing with lots of tuna and frozen peas.  I am also an absolute fan of a potato chip topping too, so we just added some grated parmesan cheese to jazz it up a bit.

The result is a really rich and creamy casserole with hunks of mushroom and tuna bathed in a lobster thermidor-like sauce.  YUM!  This Casserole is fancy enough to serve at a retro dinner party, comforting enough to bring to a friend who is under the weather, and delicious enough to show up those biddies at the church luncheon!  Smack yo Mama Ozzy good!

Piping HOT from the oven!

Grown Up Tuna Noodle Casserole
Serves 12

1 lb wide egg noodles
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
8 oz. button mushrooms thickly sliced
8 oz. shiitake mushrooms thickly sliced
1 Tbsp minced shallot
1 stalk celery finely diced
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried tarragon
1/2 cup flour
4 cups milk
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
8 oz. Swiss cheese grated
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2, 12 oz. cans of water-packed Tuna

Parmesan Potato Chip Topping
1 1/2 cups crushed potato chips
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Crush potato chips in a large ziplock bag using a rolling pin.  Add parmesan and shake bag to mix.

In a large pot, melt butter.  Add shallots and mushrooms and cook over high heat tossing frequently until mushrooms are carmelized.  Add celery, thyme and tarragon and cook 5 minutes longer.  Add flour and toss to coat mushrooms.  Add milk and whisk to dissolve flour.  Add sherry, cayenne, nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Cook while whisking until soup is thick.  Remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Prepare egg noodles according to package directions, drain and add cooked noodles to mushroom soup and stir to mix.  Add tuna, cheeses and peas and toss to coat.  Transfer to a well-buttered 9x 13 baking dish.  Top with Parmesan and crushed potato chip topping.  Bake 30-40 minutes until hot and bubbling and slightly browned.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Chocolate Irish Stout Cupcakes with Irish Whiskey Buttercream

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  The sun is shining today, it is 70 degrees, the birds are singing, the flowers are blooming and I am going out to Fullsteam Brewery for happy hour tonight (I am excited to have a pint or two of the Working Man's Lunch [Moon Pie Dark Ale])!  Life doesn't get much better than a beautiful spring day with the promise of world class beer and good friends!  The only way I can think to top it off is to come home to a delicious, dense, not too sweet, boozy dessert and them tumble deliriously happy into bed!

So today I am making these cupcakesThey are really unique, the chocolate and the Irish stout were made for each other.  The cake is  rich and dense and very moist, glazed with a thin layer of ganache and topped with a VERY strong Irish whiskey buttercream.  I hope you try these, they are perfect any time of year, not just on March 17th!

Happy Birthday Erin Mary!

Chocolate Irish Stout Cupcakes with Irish Whiskey Buttercream
makes 2 dozen

Chocolate Irish Stout Cake
1 cup Irish Stout (I used Guinness)
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 Tbsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup sour cream
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 F.  In a medium sauce pan combine stout and butter and heat over medium high heat until mixture just comes to a boil.  Remove from heat and add cocoa powder.  Whisk to combine (mixture will thicken significantly and will look like chocolate pudding).  Allow to cool 15 minutes.

In a large bowl combine sugar, flour, baking soda and salt, whisk to combine and break up any clumps of flour.  In another large bowl combine eggs and sour cream and beat until well combined.  Add chocolate mixture and beat until smooth.  Add flour mixture and beat until just combined, DO NOT OVER BEAT.  With a rubber spatula fold mixture until smooth.

line a cupcake pan with paper liners.  Scoop a scant 1/4 cup batter into each cup (about 2/3 full).  Bake 20 minutes until a tester comes out clean.  Allow cupcakes to cool 10 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Dip the top of each cupcake in hot ganache and place on a baking sheet.  Place cupcakes in the refrigerator for an hour to set ganache.  Once ganache is set, pipe Irish whiskey buttercream on top of each cupcake.

1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup (8 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips

Place cream in a medium sauce pan and heat over medium high het until cream just comes to a boil. Remove from heat and add chocolate chips, whisking until smooth.

Irish Whiskey Buttercream
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar plus 1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup water
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 Irish whiskey (I used Jameson)

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the egg yolks and 1 Tbsp sugar until fluffy and light colored.

Mean while combine sugar and water in a small sauce pan over high heat and bring to a boil, cook until soft-ball stage (238 F), about 10 minutes.  With mixer running on medium speed, pour the hot syrup directly into the eggs (not on the beaters).

Once all the syrup has been added increase mixer speed to high and beat continuously until egg mixture is room temperature (about 20 minutes).

Once the egg mixture is room temperature (IT MUST BE COOL), add the soft butter 1 tbsp at a time, continuously beating on high speed until all the butter has been added (this will look curdled until the last tbsp of butter is added, thenit will magically coalesce into a smooth butter cream!)

Add whiskey and beat until incorporated.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hot Reuben "Sushi" Rolls

Well, St.Patrick's Day is only two days away and I have been wracking my brain trying to think what I was going to post.  Here's the problem.  St. Patty's is a major drinking holiday (like Christmas and Easter and Father's Day and...).  And a lot of the Irish food I know is a little starchy and heavy for beer drinking.  So, what to do, what to do, what to do?

I was thinking about the American St. Patty's Day staple Corned Beef and cabbage and how it is so much NOT Irish.  Corned Beef is Jewish, but was probably inexpensive and widely available when Irish immigrants arrive in New York, hence a tradition was born.  So anyway I was thinking corned beef and cabbage is also the same as corned beef and sauerkraut... HA! Reubens!

To further expand the melting pot horizons of this holiday, I decided to prepare the ruebens sushi style, then bake them in the oven and serve them with a homemade thousand island dressing.  Delicious and very fun to eat.

And yes, they go great with green beer!

Hot Reuben "Sushi"  Rolls
(makes 2 dozen)

12 slices marble Rye Bread, crusts trimmed
1 lb thinly sliced deli corned beef
1 cup sauerkraut well drained
1/4 pound Swiss cheese cut into thick matchsticks
1/2 stick butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350.  With a rolling pin flatten each slice of bread very thin. Set aside.  On a cutting board arrange 1/2 the corned beef in a layer approximately 2 feet x 1 foot.  On one long side of the corned beef, arrange half of the sauerkraut in a line.  Top sauerkraut with 1/2 of the Swiss cheese.

Corned beef, Sauerkraut and Swiss Cheese on the cutting board ready to be rolled...

Carefully roll the corned beef into a log, sushi style.

All rolled up and ready to slice!

Cut into 6 equal pieces.  Place one small log of filled corned beef on a slice of flattened bread, and roll up.  Place seamside down on a baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Rolling the filling in flattened slices of marble rye bread

Brush each roll with melted butter and bake for 20-25 minutes until cheese is melted.  Remove from oven and slice in half.  Arrange cut side up on a platter and serve with thousand island dipping sauce.

Thousand Island Dressing
1 cup mayonnaise
2 1/2 Tbsp ketchup
2 Tbsp chopped pickles
2 tsp hot sauce

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix with a spoon.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Red Cabbage and Brussels Sprout Hot Asian Slaw with Bacon

A couple weeks ago we went to Watt's Grocery ( a favorite restaurant here in Durham) for Heidi's birthday brunch.  I ordered the Oyster Po Boy and it arrived at the table with an unusual warm red cabbage salad.  Chef Amy called it "chow chow", but I always imagined chow chow to be more like a spicy pickle relish.  No, this was more like a hot cabbage slaw and I just loved it!  I could have eaten an entire vat of the stuff!

So yesterday I was making Shrimp and Bacon Po Boys for Fat Tuesday and I decided to see if I could recreate Chef Amy's "chow chow".  I think mine turned out even better than the original! 

At Watts grocery the "chow chow" was made with just red cabbage and didn't have any acid in the dish.  I decided to use a combination of Red cabbage and brussels sprouts (which inreality are just tiny little cousins of the cabbage).  I made a very basic Asian dressing for the slaw and tossed in some crumbled bacon.  AMAZING!  So delicious and so easy and a really unique alternative to the same old ubiquitous mayonaisse-based cole slaw.  This is also good at room temperature!

Red Cabbage and Brussels Sprout Hot Asian Slaw with Bacon
serves 4

1/2 pound brussels sprouts thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
1/2 pound red cabbage thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
3 slices bacon
4 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
salt and pepper for seasoning

In a large skillet, fry bacon until crisp, drain bacon on paper towels and reserve.  Pour off all bacon fat except about 1 Tbsp.  Return pan to heat and add butter to bacon fat.  Once butter is melted, add cabbage and brussels sprouts, stir fry over medium high heat until cabbage begins to wilt and brussels sprouts are a bright green color.  In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, sugar, balsamic vinegar and sesame oil, mix until sugar is dissolved, then add to cabbage in hot pan and cook for 2 minutes tossing to combine.  Crumble bacon over slaw and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve hot or at room temperature.

Shrimp and Bacon Po' Boys

So I was trying to thnk of something to make for Fat Tuesday that wasn't too heavy, but was still delicious.  I love Jambalaya, but it was just not what I was in the mood for.  I also love a good etoufee, but I was also feeling extremely lazy.  Then I thought about making these shrimp Po Boys.  Fast, easy, super delicious... the perfect thing!

I love the cornmeal coating on the shrimp...they are crispy, and you can really taste the shrimp, not breading!

As a side dish I served this unusual hot asian-style slaw made with brussels sprouts and red cabbage and it was a meal fit for a king.  Doug remarked that between the green and purple of the slaw and the gold shrimp, it was the perfect Mardis Gras meal!  Laissez Bon Temp Roulez!

Shrimp and Bacon Po' Boys
Serves 4

1 lb shrimp, cleaned and deveined
1 clove garlic finely minced
2 Tbsp olive oil

1 cup cornmeal
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt

Vegetable or Peanut oil for frying

4 hoagie-style buns
melted butter
salt, pepper, garlic powder
8 slices bacon, fried crisp
Baby spinach
Sliced Tomatoes
Remoulade Sauce (recipe follows)

In a large ziploc plastic bag combine shrimp, garlic and olive oil, mix together and close bag, marinate in refrigerator for 2-3 hours.

Combine cornmeal and peppers and salt in a medium bowl.  Remove shrimp from marinade and toss with cornmeal until thoroughly coated.  Heat deep fryer to 350 (alternatively, heat 1-inch of oil in a large skillet to 350).  Fry shrimp in batches for 1 1/2 minutes until golden, drain on paper towels.

Brush hoagie rolls with melted butter and season lightly with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Toast bread under broiler until lightly toasted.  Generously slather toasted buns, top and bottom, with remoulade sauce.  Top with baby spinach tomatoes bacon and shrimp.  Mash sandwhich together and eat!  YUM

Remoulade Sauce
1 cup prepared mayonaisse
2 Tbsp whole grain mustard
2 tsp hot sauce

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.