Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cherry pie

It's been a pretty busy week. One son graduated from high school, the other came home for the event. Lots of cooking. Lots of eating.

Cherry is Max's favorite pie. So on the occasion of his return home I baked him one.
Tart cherries are not yet in season in the Chicago area. The only two options available out of season are frozen, which for me, only seems to work perfectly if they have been thawed first. Otherwise the pie is too thick or too runny, can't seem to get it right.

The second option, WAIT, now hear me out, is a canned cherry. No. Not the kind with the goopy premade filling. Canned cherries stored in water and it's own juices. Oregon is a reliable brand. You drain the cherries reserving some of the liquid to which you add sugar and tickener. The ratio is always perfect. The exact directions are on the inside label of the can.

The flavor is nice and tart.

The only thing you can never compromise on is the crust. Always make your own crust. There is no comparison to the premade packaged or frozen ones.

Basic Pie Crust
for  a double crust

2 1/2 cup all purpose flour or white spelt flour
1 t salt
1 t sugar
2 sticks cold butter, cut into small pieces

1/4 to 1/2 ice cold water

Place the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor.
Pulse to mix well.
Add the cold butter.  Pulse 3 times.

With the processor running slowly add the water until the dough begins to
 hold together when pressed between fingers and thumb.

Turn dough on to a smooth surface.  Gather together quickly as to not warm the dough with your hands.  Divide into to and press each into a disk.  wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least and hour.

Remove from refrigerator.  Let warm about 10 minutes. Roll out as desired.

Bake at 400 until crust is golden brown and cherries are bubbling.

-- Post From My iPhone

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Roasted Potatoes with a Twist

Remember the Chimichurri Style Sauce I used on the Red Snapper the other day?

We were invited to a Bar- B- Que last night and I wanted to take along a side dish.  I had a lot of red potatoes on hand.  I love the way they taste roasted, but I wanted something with a little more oompf.  I remembered the left over sauce and thought "hmm".  In the past I have used a recipe that calls for tossing the cooked potatoes in olive oil,  garlic, kosher salt  and chopped mint.  I was sure the Chimichurri style sauce would work just as well.  I turned out to be a fantastic combination. So much so, that by the time I went to make a plate for dinner, the potatoes were already gone!

This is a great tasty recipe for the summer.  No worries about spoiled mayonnaise on a hot summer day.  And the potatoes can also be roasted on the grill so you don't have to turn your oven on.

Roasted Potatoes with a Twist
Cut 2 pound of unpeeled red potatoes into 1" pieces.
place on a baking sheet lined with Release foil.
Coat Potatoes with olive oil
Sprinkle with salt and pepper
Roast in a high heat oven- 500 degrees for about 20 minutes, turning occasionally.
Potatoes should be golden brown and fork tender.
Remove from oven.  While still very hot toss with herb and garlic mixture.  Season with more salt and pepper if necessary.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

Chimichurri Sauce

9 cloves garlic minced
1 small onion minced
1 tablespoon each:
minced -parsley, oregano, thyme, chive
(feel free to add what other herbs you wish)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 t sea salt
Place garlic, onion, and herbs in a small heat proof bowl. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan until shimmering. 
Pour the hot oil over the herb mixture and stir. Add salt. 

Garlic and Mint Sauce
About 9 gloves garlic chopped 
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup  mint leaves, julianned
Kosher salt  and fresh ground Pepper
Toss all of the ingredients with the hot roasted potatoes.  Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Pan Fried Sanpper with a "Chimichurri" style garlic sauce

Before I even go one step further. I have to apologize for the quality of my photos.  My regular camera is broken and I have been using my Iphone.  It is making me crazy. I had a decent point and shoot, but the "auto zoom" on them seems to fail after a few years.  I am thinking SLR. I really need to decide soon. Any suggestions?

In an effort to present something new and exciting to the dinner table last night, I combined a few ideas from past recipes and previous dining experiences.
My son loves the whole fried red snapper served at El Barco in Chicago, (http://www.elbarcorestaurant.com). So I went to the fish market and picked up some small red snappers.

Chimichurri Sauce

9 cloves garlic minced
1 small onion minced
1 tablespoon each:
minced -parsley, oregano, thyme, chive
(feel free to add what other herbs you wish)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 t sea salt
Place garlic, onion, and herbs in a small heat proof bowl. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan until shimmering. (The same one you will use for the fish- less cleanup!)
Pour the hot oil over the herb mixture and stir. Add salt. Stir and hold for fish.

Pan Fried Snapper
2 red snappers about 1 pound each
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup rice flour
seasonings of your choice
salt and pepper to taste
peanut oil

Mix the two flours together in a shallow bowl. season as desired.
Rinse, dry  and season the whole fish.
Dredge in in flour mixture.
In the mean time heat enough peanut oil in the pan to cover the fish about half way.
When oil is about 375  place fish in the pan and fry until golden. About 4 minutes on each side depending on the size of your fish.  You can see when the fish is beginning to pull away from the bone.
Drain on paper.
Serve with the herb sauce poured over it.

I fried mine in a wok, because I did not have enough peanut oil on hand for a large frying pan.  It is not ideal, but it is workable if you are careful to move the fish around so it cooks completely.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Salted Caramel Ganache

The Fleur de Sel Caramel Ganache I posted recently contains a whopping pound of butter. Awesome flavor, but very high in fat. It warrants being reserved for "special" occasions.
But the caramel and salt flavors really do add depth to a ganache.  
I tried a different recipe this weekend.  White the process was a little trickier, the results were pretty good. I li
ttle more firm than the butter laden recipe, but still spread nicely when initially whipped.  I made a few adjustment, which I will include in the recipe.

Salted Caramel  Ganache

1/2 c sugar
1c heavy cream
7 oz bittersweet chocolate
5 oz milk chocolate
2 Tablespoons butter
pinch fleur de sel
Chop both Chocolates and place in a mixing bowl.  Set aside.
Make a dry caramel with sugar.  In the meantime, heat the cream in a separate saucepan.
when the caramel begins to turn dark, turn off the heat.  Let sit about 3 minutes.  When cream is hot, slowly deglaze the sugar pan with the cream. (This is where I ran in to some trouble. The sugar seized when I added the cream. I was able to dissolve it back into the cream.  Letting the sugar cool a bit should help alleviate this problem.)
Strain the cream into the chocolate. Let sit for a few minutes.  whisk gently until all of the chocolate is dissolved.  Slowly mix until chocolate is cool to touch.  Add the room temperature butter and salt.  Whip until light and spreadable.

Dinner for Friends

Recently my friends Nancy and Burt had one of their Son's in the Hospital. One week in the hospital lead to two and then to three.    Friends in the neighborhood have gathered to help with meals.  Saturday I took my turn and prepared dinner.
Knowing that one son is a vegetarian and the other could probable use a break from hospital trays, I set out to make a version of what my brother in law calls- 

Chicken Renoir

I started with:

4 T olive oil divided
1 medium onion chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
5 sun dried tomatoes chopped
5 medium portabella mushrooms,  sliced thin and cut in 1/2 if mushroom is large
2 T fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup light cream
3/4 cup fresh grated parmesan

12 oz penne pasta

4  boneless skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste.

Heat 2 Tablespoons oil in large saute pan
Saute garlic and onions about 3 minutes
add chopped sun dried tomatoes
saute about 3 minutes
add sliced mushrooms and thyme- saute about 5 minutes
add the chicken stock- simmer until reduced about 1/2
add the wine, again  reduced by about 1/2
season with salt and pepper as you go.
Lower heat. 

In a large pot bring 4 quarts water to a boil.  Add pasta.  Cook as directed. 

In the mean time salt and pepper the chicken breasts.
Heat another pan with 2  Tablespoons of oil.
Saute breasts until golden brown on each side.

About 5 minutes before pasta is ready, ad cream and parm to the mushroom sauce.
Stir and continue to heat on low.

When pasta is finished, add to sauce and toss.
Serve along side a chicken breast.

I also tried a new version of Salt Caramel Ganache-with only 2 Tablespoons of butter instead of 1 lb. of butter.  I send that recipe next.