Sunday, March 24, 2013

Easter Menu 2013

What are you having for Easter this year?  Today is Palm Sunday, so you only have a week to prepare!  Mama Ozzy is making tried and true Easter favorites and I thought I would share a couple of them with you, perhaps as inspiration.

And as quid pro quo, please let me know if you make any of these recipes.  Did you like them?  Did you alter them? What cool things did you do in your kitchen?  I love to hear from you!

Easter Menu 2013

Shrimp Cocktail

Spiral-sliced Honey Ham

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Mama Ozzy's Colcannon

Today I am making Irish comfort food.  And for me that means Colcannon.

Colcannon is very simple to make.  It's basically mashed potatoes, sauteed cabbage and bacon.  Stick to your ribs comfort food happy goodness.

How can you go wrong when a dish starts out by doing this?!

 Beautiful blanched Savoy cabbage...

 Have a bowl and be prepared to take a nap!  Which is exactly what I am doing this afternoon while Doug is watching the Carolina Tarheels [hopefully] win the 2013 ACC tournament.

Happy St. Patty's y'all!

Mama Ozzy's Colcannon

2.5 lbs russet potatoes
2.5 lbs Savoy cabbage, cored and cut into quarters
1 lb bacon
1 large onion, chopped
4 green onions
4 Tbsp butter
1 cup milk, hot
salt and pepper

Place unpeeled whole potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife (about 30 minutes).

Remove potatoes from water and add cabbage to boiling water.  Bring to a boil and cook 3 minutes.  Drain cabbage into a colander.

Fry bacon in a large skillet, and drain on paper towels, reserving bacon fat.

Add onion to bacon fat and saute until translucent.  Coarsely chop cabbage and add to skillet, cover and cook until cabbage is very tender.  Season with salt and pepper.

Peel potatoes and run them through a ricer into a large bowl. Add butter and hot milk and mix until smooth, adding more milk if necessary.  Season with salt and pepper.

Fold cabbage and reserved crumbled bacon into potatoes until well mixed.  Serve hot.

Black Pepper,Rosemary and Walnut Soda Bread

Happy St. Patrick's Day.  This morning I decided to throw together this quick soda bread for breakfast.  A soda bread doesn't use yeast for leavening, so it is one of those things you can decide to make at the last minute.  This savory bread is excellent slathered with butter and a good jam.  It is also a great accompaniment for Colcannon or any hearty Irish fare.

Black Pepper,Rosemary and Walnut Soda Bread
makes two small loaves

3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1/4 cup melted butter
1 3/4 cup milk
1 Tbsp vinegar
1 egg white beaten (for glaze)

Pre heat oven to 375 F.

In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients and mix well. In a small bowl combine melted butter, milk and vinegar.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until just moistened.  DO NOT OVER MIX.

Turn sticky dough out onto lightly floured work surface, sprinkle with flour and knead 7 times.

Divide dough into two round loaves, and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Brush with beaten egg white.  Slash top of loaves to make an "X".

Bake 45 minutes.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Blarney Stones

When I was a little kid, my mother would always make these little cake/cookies for St. Patrick's day.  I highly doubt that there is anything Irish about them, but for me they became forever associated with the holiday.

These are not quite a cookie and not quite a cake.  I think they are closest to a petit four. They are cubes of spongecake frosted with butter cream, then rolled in chopped salted peanuts.  They are salty and sweet and crunchy and tender and unbelievably delicious and incredibly addictive. I don't care if they are Irish or not, they are one of my all time favorite childhood memories.

The technique of making them is a bit unusual, but trust me, it results in a really delicious end result.  Frosting the frozen cake cubes is a bit tedious, but if you can find a helper or two who is detail-oriented (like my partner Doug) then frosting them is a snap! While one person is frosting the squares, the other rolls them in chopped peanuts.

I have no earthly idea how long these beauties keep before spoiling because they never last more than a few hours before they are completely devoured! I have heard they can be kept in an airtight container in the freezer for several weeks.  Sounds true enough to me, I have no intention of finding out.

Blarney Stones
makes 2 dozen

4 eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup boiling water
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla

Pre heat oven to 350F.

Line the bottom of a jelly roll pan (10 x 15) with parchment paper.

Combine flour, baking powder and cream of tartar in a bowl and mix well.

In the work bowl of a standing mixer combine eggs and sugar and beat with the whisk attachment until very light and fluffy, about 7 minutes.

With mixer running, pour the boiling water into the eggs in a slow steady stream.

Add half of the dry ingredients and slowly mix in.  Add remaining dry ingredients and mix until a batter forms. Stir in vanilla.

Pour batter into prepared jelly roll pan and bake for 20 minutes.

Let cake cool completely before cutting into 24 squares.  Place cakes in an airtight container and freeze for at least one hour (this makes frosting much easier).

Let the sheet cake cool before cutting into squares and freezing

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter room temperature
2 2/3 cup powdered sugar
6 tablespoons milk
1/2 tsp vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
24 oz salted peanuts, finely chopped

Combine butter and powdered sugar in the work bowl of a standing mixer and cream until well blended.  Add milk, vinegar and vanilla and cream until a light and smooth icing is formed.

place chopped peanuts in a shallow plate or pie pan.

Frost all sides of each square (except the bottom) with a thin coat of icing.  Gently roll frosted squares in peanuts and place on a rack to allow icing to set for 30 minutes.

Beef, Carrots and Pearl Onions in Guinness Stout with Horseradish Dumplings

It is St. Patricks day and I was looking to make something using Irish stout when I stumbled across a recipe from British food writer Diana Henry in one of my cookbooks for a beef stew with Guinness.  Perfect!  I made a few modifications to suit my personal taste and hurried into the kitchen.

The result is a rich, deep and chocolatey beef stew perfect for a cool spring evening.  I particularly love the spicy horseradish dumplings which are the perfect replacement for potatoes in this dish.

I served this with buttered savoy cabbage for a wonderfully different Irish meal!

Beef, Carrots and Pearl Onions in Guinness Stout with Horseradish Dumplings
Serves 8

3 Tbsp vegetable oil
3lbs beef stew meat cut into 1-inch cubes
1  lb baby carrots
12 oz. frozen pearl onions
1/4 cup dried barley
2 cups Guinness stout
3 cups water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp sugar

Preheat oven to 325 F

In a large heavy oven-proof pan with a tight-fitting lid, heat the oil over high heat.  Add the beef, 1 lb at a  time and brown well.  Remove beef to a bowl between batches.

Add carrots and onions to pan and cook until lightly charred, about 5 minutes.  Add barley, stout, water, salt, pepper and sugar and stir until mixed.  Return beef to pan and bring just to a boil.

Cover pan with lid and transfer to oven.  Bake 2 hours. If your lid to your baking dish is not heavy and tight fitting, check after one hour to see if you need to add a little water to prevent the stew from drying out.

Drop dumplings into stew and bake, covered for 20 minutes, then remove lid and bake for an additional 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and gently stir to mix dumplings into stew.

Serve hot with buttered savoy cabbage.

Horseradish Dumplings
1 small onion, finely diced
1 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup minced parsley
1 3/4 cups dried breadcrumbs
1 egg
3 Tbsp creamed horseradish

Saute the onion in butter until tender.  In a bowl combine onion and remaining ingredients and mix until well mixed.  Form into walnut sized balls.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Late Winter Birthday Lunch Menu

We recently celebrated my dear Heidi's birthday with a lunch of family and close friends.  Heidi gave me free reign to create a menu for her lunch with her only request being "I don't want food that bites me back!" (meaning nothing too spicy!).

So knowing that Heidi adores potatoes, mushrooms, seafood, asparagus and all berries we created a menu inspired by the fusion of French, Asian and Pacific North West American cuisine.

The result was fantastic with no one cuisine overpowering the other and a truly delightful afternoon of food, fun and frivolity!

Happy Birthday Heidi!

Late Winter Birthday Lunch for 7

Signature Cocktail: Black Berry Sake-tini

Appetizer: Roasted Parsnip Vichyssoise with Mirin-Glazed Shiitake Mushrooms and a Savory Parmesan Hazelnut Lace Cookie

Entree:  Miso-Glazed Scallops with Asparagus Salad and Sesame-Ginger-Miso Dressing

Dessert: Lemon and Chai Spice Financiers with Raspberry Merlot Sorbet

Blackberry Sake-Tini

For Heidi's birthday we created a menu inspired by the flavors of the Pacific Northwest, Asia and France.  Naturally we had to have a fabulous cocktail that reflected the flavors of these three regions, and so the blackberry sake-tini was born,

These babies are delicious but be warned, they pack a punch!

Blackberry Sake-Tini

1 cup blackberries
1/4 cup sugar

1 part sake
1 part Chambord
2 Parts Absolut Grapvine Vodka (white grape, dragonfruit, papaya)
1 part fresh lime juice

Zest of two limes
1/2 cup sugar

Combine blackberries in a bowl with the sugar and microwave on high for 45 seconds until the blackberries begin to sweat.  Gently mix to create a syrup.

In a small food processor combine lime zest and sugar. Process until sugar is a pale green color.

Moisten the side of a martini glass with a wedge of lime.  Dip the glass edge onto a plate containing the lime sugar.

Place a macerated blackberry in the bottom of the glass and add 1 Tbsp of the blackberry juice.

Combine sake, chambord, vodka and lime juice over ice in a cocktail shaker.  Shake until chilled.  Strain into prepared glass.

Roasted Parsnip Vichyssoise with Mirin Glazed Shiitake Mushrooms and Savory Parmesan Hazelnut Lace Cookies

It's early spring and yesterday was the first nice day we have had in a very long time.  The sun was shining and the temperatures crept into the low 60's.  Perfect weather for an outdoor luncheon for Heidi's birthday!

This time of year can be tricky when trying to choose seasonal food.  It's a little early for much of the spring produce that will explode onto the grocery stands in about a month, and there is still a bit of winter chill in the air.  So I was thinking about making a dish that straddles that winter/spring line and thought Vichyssoise!

Vichyssoise (vee- shee- swahz) is the classic leek and potato soup, often served chilled, but it is also very good served warm.  But here is the sad thing about this delicious soup.  It is made with leeks.  Now I love leeks, but they don't like me.  They give me, ...well, there is no polite way to say this, they give me gas.

So since I was playing around with the idea of French-Pacific-Northwest- Asian fusion I made up this version of vichyssoise without leeks.  I substituted half the potatoes with Parsnip, substituted the leeks with garlic, and roasted all the vegetables in the oven to bring out their natural sweetness.  The result is fantastic.  The earthy flavors of the soup paired wonderfully with the shiitake mushrooms which were quickly sauteed in butter and deglazed with sweet mirin rice wine.  And the crispy thin savory lace cookie was fantastic!

Best of all this soup was really quick and easy to prepare!

Roasted Parsnip Vichyssoise with Mirin Glazed Shiitake Mushrooms and Savory Parmesan Hazelnut Lace Cookies
serves 8

For the Soup
14 oz parsnip, peeled and cut into chunks
14 oz yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
5 large cloves of garlic. peeled
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp honey
4 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock
1 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Place the parsnip, potato and garlic cloves in a medium glass baking pan, season with thyme and sea salt.  Toss with olive oil and honey and bake for one hour.

Place hot roasted vegetables in a large pot and add chicken (or vegetable ) stock and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for 30 minutes to soften vegetables.

Puree stock and vegetables with an immersion blender.  Add cream and stir until well mixed.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Serve hot or cold  garnished with a spoonful of Mirin-glazed Shiitake mushrooms.

For the Mirin-glazed Shiitake mushrooms
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
12 oz. shiitake mushrooms, stems removed caps sliced thinly
1/8 tsp salt
3 Tbsp Mirin (Japanese sweetened rice wine)
2-3 drops black truffle oil (optional)

Melt butter in a skillet.  Add mushrooms and saute over medium heat until caramelized (about 20 minutes).  Add salt and Mirin and cook until liquid is reduced to a glaze (about 3 minutes). Add truffle oil and toss to mix.

For the savory parmesan hazelnut lace cookies
1 1/4 cups coarsely grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Combine cheese and hazelnuts in a large bowl and toss to combine well. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Sprinkle about 1 1/2 Tbsp of the cheese nut mixture into 3-inch cookies.  Bake until cheese is melted and golden, about 5 minutes.  Cool on wire racks.

These savory cookiescan be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container.  Then just reheat on parchment at 350 for about 2 minutes to re-crisp.

Miso-Glazed Scallops with Asparagus Salad and Sesame-Ginger-Miso Dressing

This is the perfect entree salad.  It is substantial, yet light.  It is both fresh and verdant but also earthy and loaded with umami flavor.  The combination of scallops and asparagus is mingles beautifully with the japanese miso glaze.  YUM.

Miso is a paste made from fermented rice and soybeans.  It is then aged and comes in a variety of colors, the colors getting deeper with increasing age.  I prefer red miso which is medium in it's intensity.  You can find miso in the refrigerated section of any Asian grocery.

When making this dish, prepare the dressing and toss with baby greens, then grill the asparagus before the scallops.  The scallops will only take a few miutes.

Miso-Glazed Scallops with Asparagus Salad and Sesame-Ginger-Miso Dressing
serves 8

For the Scallops
2 lbs sea scallops
1/3 cup sake
1/3 cup mirin
1/3 cup red miso paste
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
bamboo skewers soaked in cold water

Combine sake, mirin, miso, brown sugar and soy sauce in a bowl an whisk to combine.  Place scallops in a large sealable plastic bag, add glaze and refrigerate for 3-4 hours.

Place two bamboo skewers side by side and slide about 5 or 6 scallops onto the skewers.  Grill over high heat until the scallops are just opaque and beginning to caramelize.  Serve hot with Asparagus salad.

For the Asparagus Salad
2 lbs Asparagus
4 quarts water
4 Tbsp salt
4 cups ice
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb mixed baby greens
1 cup toasted sliced almonds

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil.  Add salt and return to a boil.  Add asparagus.  and cook until the water just begins to boil again.  Immediately drain the asparagus and plunge them into a large bowl of ice water.

When asparagus are cold, drain and toss with 1 Tbsp olive oil.  Grill the asaparagus over high heat until they just begin to char.  Place hot asparagus on a bed of baby greens tosses with sesame-ginger-miso dressing.  Top with additional dressing and sprinkle with sliced almonds.

Sesame Ginger Miso Dressing
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp red miso paste
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2-inch piece of fresh ginger, cut into chunks
1 large clove garlic.

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.

Lemon and Chai Spice Financiers

Financiers.  The term literally translates to "bankers".  In this day and age the word "banker" may leave a bitter taste in your mouth, but these divine little cakes will not.

The Parisian bakery that first made these delicate little cakes was located in the financial district of Paris, and they are traditionally baked in a small rectangular loaf giving them the appearance of bars of gold (or so the story goes).  They have been a staple of the French patisserie ever since.

Financiers are delicate almond cakes made with brown butter (beurre noisette) and almond flour.  They are not too sweet and are a brilliant companion to any and all ice creams and sorbets.  Here I have added lemon zest and chai spices to add to their incredible fragrance.  They are very light, chewy on the interior and crunchy on the outside.  Best of all the batter can (and should) be made ahead of time and kept refrigerated until right before serving.  The financiers should be served warm from the oven and lightly dusted with powdered sugar.

I served these cakes as part of a Pacific-Northwest-French-Asian fusion menu and accompanied them with my raspberry-merlot sorbet. YUM.

Lemon and Chai Spice Financiers
makes 2 dozen small cakes

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (12 oz.)
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup pastry flour (I like White Lilly all purpose flour)
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
grated zest of two lemons
5 egg whites

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Continue to cook the butter until it foams and the milk solids precipitate to the bottom of the pan and the butter is lightly browned.  Immediately remove from heat and strain the brown butter through cheesecloth into a small bowl.  Allow to cool to room temperature.

In a food processor combine powdered sugar, flour, almonds, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, allspice, pepper, salt, baking powder, and lemon zest.  Process until almonds are very finely ground.

In a large clean bowl, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form.  Fold in the dry ingredients 1/3 at a time, being careful not to deflate the batter.  Add half of the brown butter and fold, then fold in the remaining butter, carefully folding until batter is well combined, but not deflated.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use (this can be made one day ahead of time).

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Butter and flour a mini muffin pan.  evenly distribute the chilled batter between cups.  Bake 5-10 minutes until cakes are puffed and just set.  Let cool 2 minutes before removing from pan.

Serve warm, dusted with powdered sugar and Raspberry-Merlot Sorbet.

Raspberry-Merlot Sorbet

Raspberries have a natural affinity for red wine.  There is just something synergistic about the combination.  The raspberries bring their bright exuberance and sweetness, the red wine adds depth and mystery, the combination is incredible.

This sorbet is wonderful on its own, but also pairs incredibly well with any chocolate or lemon dessert.  The red wine causes the sorbet to be soft even after it has been frozen for days, which makes it a dream for scooping, something I am always happy for when I am stealing a spoonful at 1:00am in my PJ's.

The formula for sorbet is incredibly simple.  Equal parts fruit and simple syrup.  Perfect every time.  Magic!

Raspberry-Merlot Sorbet
makes 4 cups

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
12 oz. frozen (or fresh) raspberries
1/4 cup red wine (merlot, pinot noir or port)

In a medium sauce pan combine sugar and water.  Heat over medium high heat stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Add raspberries and wine.  Puree with an immersion blender.

Pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds.  Chill mixture completely before freezing according to manufacturer directions of your ice cream maker.  Allow sorbet to "ripen" in the freezer for at least 4 hours before serving.