Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas Eve Fried Oysters


Another major Shaw Family Christmas tradition are my great grandfather's saltine crusted fried oysters. These delicious little guys are fried up on Christmas Eve and washed down with champagne before the big feast. My father tells me that back in the day it was rare to get fresh oysters in central Ohio, where my great grandfather lived, so it was a real treat for the whole family on Christmas Eve. The meal started with oysters on the half shell, then oyster stew, and finally this fried oyster recipe. My dad mentions that as a kid he hated this meal but once he acquired the taste it lead to a lifetime of enjoying the taste of oysters. The same goes for me. I remember spitting those suckers out in my napkin but now I cannot wait to get my hands on them.

Merry Christmas Eve Fried Oysters

Here is the recipe from the master, my dad:

"I like to buy shucked Chesapeake Bay or Long Island Oysters if I can get them. Sometimes you have to order them in advance from your fishmonger. I lightly dust each oyster in flour, salt, and pepper and let them dry on a couple folded paper towels while I crumble Nabisco Saltine Crackers with a rolling pin in the long bags they come in these days. Pour the cracker crumbs into a wide shallow bowl. You don’t want to pulverize the crackers too much or you will get cracker powder rather than the desirable quarter inch size crumbs. Dip each oyster in a bath of eggs beaten with a little whole milk or cream and then cover it in Saltine Cracker crumbs. Let stand for a minute or so on folded paper towels on a platter then fry in a thick frying pan at medium high heat in about a half an inch of salted/unsalted butter until golden brown on each side. Remove onto another plate with folded paper towels before presenting on a serving platter garnished with lemon wedges and parsley sprigs. Serve with plenty of freshly made Tartar sauce."

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Momma Shaw's Beef Tenderloin

Hands down my favorite meal of the year is the one my mom cooks on Christmas. Nothing beats a slice of perfectly cooked peppered beef tenderloin smothered in Bearnaise. Yum. This year, I'll be joining my boyfriend's family for Christmas so I will miss this delicious feast. However, I've decided to recreate this dinner for some close friends in early January so all is not lost! The full menu includes a green salad, green beans, wild rice and Parker House rolls.

Some things to mention:
1) Tenderloin is expensive so go to Costco or Sam's Club. The meat there is great and less expensive.
2) You must know the EXACT weight of the tenderloin and calculate accordingly
3) Do not and I mean DO NOT ever open the oven while it is cooking. The rest of the menu needs to be done on the stove top.
4) If you don't serve it with Bearnaise sauce you shouldn't even make it.

Momma Shaw's Beef Tenderloin
1 beef tenderloin, room temperature
2 cups coarse ground black pepper
4 tablespoons oil

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Pat room temperature beef tenderloin dry. On a sheet of wax paper, pour pepper and spread out evenly. Rub oil on tenderloin and roll and dredge tenderloin in pepper. Coat sides as well. Cook meat 3 minutes per pound. Once time elapses turn off oven and let meat rest in oven for an additional 1 hour and 45 minutes. Meat will be medium rare. DO NOT OPEN OVEN. My mom actually tapes it shut...

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Shepherd's Pie

Cities around the U.S. have been experiencing some unexpected winter temperatures...snow in Vegas? While I can't complain too much because I'm used to the winters in the Midwest and East Coast, San Francisco has been in the 40s. Locals tell me that they don't remember such cold temps since the 70s. Regardless, the chill in the air motivated me to make some serious comfort food and the first recipe that came to mind was the British classic Shepherd's Pie.

Donna Hay is Australia's best selling cookbook author and food editor. She began her career at 19 and never looked back. Her book, Modern Classics Part 1, was a recent birthday present from my friend Jen. She swears by her recipes so I thought I would give her Shepherd's Pie recipe a shot. The hearty dish really hit the spot.

I made a tweak or two because I love stews and mashers so I have some staple items that I like to add. For the mashers, always add more cheese and butter than the recipe calls for and I even like to add about 1/4 cup of cream cheese, too. For the pie, I like my spice so I hit it with a teaspoon of red chili flakes and a teaspoon of sriracha. Be careful when adding sriracha to your dishes because a little really goes a long way.

Shepherd's Pie
1 tablespoons of olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
20 oz or minced (ground) lamb or beef
14 oz can of peeled tomatoes
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 cup beef stock
1 fresh or dried bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
1 cup frozen peas
salt and pepper

Potato Mash
2 lb potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 stick of butter
1/4 cup of milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook oil, carrots and onion over medium heat for 5 minutes or until soft and golden. Add the meat and stir until browned. Stir through the tomato paste, tomatoes, stock, thyme and bay leaf. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add frozen peas and simmer uncovered for 15 more minutes. Add salt and pepper.

Boil potatoes in water until soft. Drain and mash with butter and milk and then add Parmesan.

Spoon meat mixture into a 4 cup capacity over proof dish. Top with mash and bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown. Serves 4-6.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Peppermint Bark


What are the holidays with out peppermint bark? This is a fun recipe to make with kids and it's also a good recipe to make, package and give away to friends and neighbors over the holidays. Candy canes are super cheap and can be bought almost anywhere. Happy holidays!

Peppermint Bark
  • 17 ounces good-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Baker's), finely chopped
  • 30 red-and-white-striped hard peppermint candies, coarsely crushed (about 6 ounces) AKA Candy canes!
  • 7 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 6 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

Turn large baking sheet bottom side up. Cover securely with foil. Mark 12 x 9-inch rectangle on foil. Stir white chocolate in metal bowl set over saucepan of barely simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water) until chocolate is melted and smooth and candy thermometer registers 110°F. (chocolate will feel warm to touch). Remove from over water. Pour 2/3 cup melted white chocolate onto rectangle on foil. Using icing spatula, spread chocolate to fill rectangle. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup crushed peppermints. Chill until set, about 15 minutes.

Stir bittersweet chocolate, cream and peppermint extract in heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat until just melted and smooth. Cool to barely lukewarm, about 5 minutes. Pour bittersweet chocolate mixture in long lines over white chocolate rectangle. Using icing spatula, spread bittersweet chocolate in even layer. Refrigerate until very cold and firm, about 25 minutes.

Rewarm remaining white chocolate in bowl set over barely simmering water to 110°F. Working quickly, pour white chocolate over firm bittersweet chocolate layer; spread to cover. Immediately sprinkle with remaining crushed peppermints. Chill just until firm, about 20 minutes.

Lift foil with bark onto work surface; trim edges. Cut bark crosswise into 2-inch-wide strips. Using metal spatula, slide bark off foil and onto work surface. Cut each strip crosswise into 3 sections and each section diagonally into 2 triangles. (Can be made 2 weeks ahead. Chill in airtight container.) Let stand 15 minutes at room temperature before serving.



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New Oysters Rockefeller


Since my blog is named Everything is Better with Bacon, a lot of folks forward along fun articles and links to stuff about bacon. The other day, an old client of mine that works in the restaurant industry sent me a copy of The Plate's December issue. The Plate is an awesome magazine that's focus is to "celebrate the chef's craft". There are killer articles and even better recipes. The December issue was solely dedicated to bacon.

I'm an oyster nut and when I came across this recipe I knew it was time to whip out my shucking knife and glove. I have never gone a Christmas Eve with out an oyster so this is a timely recipe for the holidays. For any San Francisco folks, you can get your hands on fresh seafood for cheap on 6th and Clement. Right now live lobsters are $8 a pound and they always have a variety of fresh oysters in salt water buckets.

NEW OYSTERS ROCKEFELLER
Executive Chef Tommy Hines
Bourbon Street Bar & Grille - New York City, NY, USA

Oysters, whole, Bluepoint or Malpaque 12 each
Bacon, slices, halved 6 each
Rock salt
Parmesan creamed spinach 18 Oz
Flour 1C
Creole seasoning 2 TBS
Vegetable oil
Pastis aïoli

Instructions:
1. Preheat fryer to 350 degrees F, and oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Shuck oysters and transfer, with their juices, to a bowl. Reserve bottom shells. Wrap a piece of bacon around each oyster and secure with toothpick. Reserve.
3. Fill oyster shells with creamed spinach.
4. Fill a baking dish halfway with rock salt and arrange oyster shells on salt. Bake shells until heated through, about 10 minutes.
5. While shells are baking, combine flour and 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning in bowl. Dust oysters with seasoned flour, then deep-fry in batches until lightly browned, about 1 minute.
6. Drain oysters on paper towels and season with remaining Creole seasoning.
7. Place fried oysters on top of baked shells. Drizzle each oyster with pastis aïoli and serve

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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Peanut Butter and Jelly Shortbread Wedges

I think that I eat Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches more now than when I was a kid. They're cheap, delicious, don't require refrigeration and fill you right up. When I saw this recipe this month I was excited to take the PB&J to the dessert level. You can use any jam you wish but blackberry is actually a pretty solid choice.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Shortbread Wedges

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup creamy (smooth) natural peanut butter (made with only peanuts and salt)*
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Large pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup blackberry jam
  • Spray bottom of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with nonstick spray. Beat butter and peanut butter in large bowl until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and salt and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Add flour; beat on low speed just until blended.
  • Transfer 1/3 cup dough to work surface. Shape into 1/2-inch-thick disk, place on plate, and freeze until hard, about 1 hour. Press remaining dough evenly over bottom of prepared pan. Spread jam over dough in pan, leaving 1/3-inch plain border. Refrigerate while dough disk freezes.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Using large holes of box grater, grate frozen dough evenly over jam. Bake shortbread until dough edge is deep golden and grated dough on top looks dry and baked through, about 50 minutes. Cool shortbread completely in pan.
  • Release pan sides. Cut shortbread into wedges.
  • Can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.


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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Beer Can Chicken and Jalapeno & Green Chile Cheese Grits



I must pat myself on the back. Last night's dinner was a-m-a-z-i-n-g. Now, I've blogged about beer can chicken before but it's been an evolving recipe. I've played around with the rub, the types of beers and even the seasoning technique but I think I have finally perfected it. And you know what? I'm pretty excited about it!

I love crispy chicken skin. I could totally skip the meat and just eat the skin. I wish you could buy cracklings at the store (not the scary pork kind). I'd eat them by the handful. In the past, the skin was never crispy enough. So I tried a variety of things some of which didn't help. However, last night, I decided to dredge the entire chicken in flour, paint it with an egg wash and then apply the rub. Boom! We have crispy chicken skin. I also added about 2 teaspoons of panko crumbs to the rub. That gave an extra crunch, too.

Of all the beers I have tried (Sierra Nevada, Tacate, Lagunitas IPA, Budweiser and more) nothing has worked better than the Midwest classic Pabst Blue Ribbon. PBR is also refreshing to drink with the dinner because I like to make my rub super spicy!

I make grits all the time. Shrimp and grits, breakfast grits, sausage grits...but who can resist cheese grits? So, I dug around and got a recipe and made a couple tweaks. Delicious. However, I think I am going to add an extra cup of cheese to the top at the end and broil it until it browns and then serve it next time. When in doubt add more cheese.

Jalapeno & Green Chile Cheese Grits
  • 2 cups quick-cooking grits
  • 2 1/2 cups grated extra-sharp Cheddar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce (I used Tapatio)
  • 3 large eggs, well beaten
  • 2 jalapenos, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup canned chopped green chiles
  • Garlic salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook the grits according to the directions on the back of the package. Remove from the heat and add next 6 ingredients (Cheddar through chilies). Stir well and season with garlic salt, to taste. Pour into a buttered 9-inch baking dish and bake for 1 hour. Let cool slightly before slicing and serving.



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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mike's FAMOUS Eggnog

Back by popular demand...Mike Famous Eggnog. This is a holiday must! My email inbox has already been flooded with requests for a re-post, so here it is!

Below is the genesis of this holiday party starter told by Mike himself...


Christmas Eggnog


I never cook anything. Most of my friends and family are wonderful cooks so I try to be what every chef needs--an enthusiastic eater and kitchen helper. One thing I do prepare each Holiday Season is the eggnog. I first made this eggnog when I was in college and worked occasionally as a bartender for private parties. When a call came in to the student employment office for a bartender to mix large batches of eggnog for a Christmas party in Woodside I was the only one who claimed to have eggnog experience. I had, of course, lied about my experience and had never drunk a cup of eggnog. This extreme confidence in the face of total ignorance got me the job.

The first research I did was to buy a carton of dairy eggnog, pour it into a cup, and add a good dose of whiskey. It was terrible. It ruined the whiskey. I then indulged in some real research in the card catalog of the main library. After noting the Dewey Decimal numbers for the cookbook section (641.5) I plunged into the stacks and fumbled through all the dusty books until I recognized one from my mother's kitchen--the Joy of Cooking. It had a drink recipe for "Eggnog in Quantity" and I was saved. I couldn't check the book out because I had some unpaid delinquent fines so I wrote it all down (I still have that piece of tablet paper).

Two days before the party I called my employer and with all the authority I could muster gave her a specific list of all the required ingredients, stated that there could be no exceptions, and said that I would need to be at work in her kitchen three hours before the party to prepare properly. The eggnog was so well received that I was given a big tip and hired to do it again the following year. I have been making it for friends and family ever since.

Merry Christmas,

Mike

Eggnog in Quantity

• Be sure to use good fresh eggs. The best eggs have a firm orange yolk and are from hens that have access to free range.
• Use heavy whipping cream. This is not a drink that is successful in a low fat version.
• Use good quality liquor. I use a combination of liquors to spread out the flavors. The saying that "nothing succeeds like excess" is especially true when it comes to adding booze to the eggnog. The Brits say that "Christmas brandy will make you randy", so add an extra splash.
• Use fresh nutmeg kernels and grate onto each serving as desired.

Beat separately until light in color
12 egg yolks
Beat in gradually
1 lb. confectioner's sugar
Add very slowly, beating constantly
2 c. dark rum, brandy, or bourbon
These liquors form the basis of the "nog", and you may choose one
variety or mix to taste.

Let mixture stand covered for 1 hour to dispel the "eggy" taste.

Add, beating constantly,
3 cups of liquor (I use a combination and include some Kahlua)
2 quarts whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla (or to taste)
Refrigerate covered for 3 hours.

Beat until stiff but not dry
12 egg whites

Fold egg whites lightly into the other ingredients. Serve sprinkled
with fresh nutmeg and cinnamon to taste.

Yield is about 1 gallon. I always make a double batch. With all that liquor it keeps very well refrigerated. The egg whites will separate after standing so fold them back in. A jar of this eggnog makes a great holiday present. Have a cup while opening your presents. You'll love them all!

This is a very rich, high-cholesterol, high-octane eggnog. Do not operate heavy equipment after drinking.
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Creamed Onions

Since our family has grown to include significant others, children and friends, my mom asked everyone if there were any traditions that they would like to incorporate on Thanksgiving. My step father said that his family always had creamed onions so my brother in law took a stab at it this year and it was actually one of my favorite bites of the meal. He used this recipe as the base but added some stone mustard and Parmesan cheese. They were delicious. I just wish he made more of them...

Creamed Onions
  • 2 lb white pearl onions, left unpeeled
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups coarse fresh white bread crumbs (from 1/4 lb bread with crusts removed)

Blanch onions in a 3-quart pot of boiling water 1 minute, then drain in a colander and transfer to a bowl of cold water to stop cooking. Drain and peel onions.

Put onions and 1 teaspoon salt in same pot and add fresh water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until onions are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain well in colander and transfer to a buttered 2-quart baking dish.

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a 1- to 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, then add flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add cream in a stream, whisking, and bring to a simmer, whisking. Simmer sauce, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes. Stir in pepper, nutmeg, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pour sauce over onions.

Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over moderately low heat, then add bread crumbs and cook, stirring, until golden, 3 to 5 minutes.

Sprinkle toasted crumbs evenly over onions and bake until sauce is bubbling, about 30 minutes.


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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Ken's Beans

The great thing about working in the wine business is that you meet a ton of foodies. They come in all shapes and all sizes and are always willing to share tips and recipes. Last night, I had a gentleman come in and we got to talking about southern food. I told him about my shrimp and grits recipe and he shared his baked beans recipe that 'can't be beat'. This looks like an easy dish to pull together that has a lot of substance and flavor. I am looking forward to making it.

Ken's Beans
1 pd ground turkey
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper
1 celery stalk
1 large can of pinto beans
Garlic powder
Salt and pepper
1 tsp sugar

Heat beans in a large pot. Cook ground turkey in saute pan until browned. Add onion, celery and green peppers in same saute pan and cook to soft. Mix all together with beans and simmer for 25 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and a teaspoon of sugar.
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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Caramelized Onion and Bacon Tart

Thanksgiving is my Aunt's favorite holiday and it's packed with a ton of tradition. We begin with the family and friends football game at the local grade school. After a little workout and shower we hit the champagne and salmon locks. The main event usually happens around 4pm and I have at least two helpings. One of my favorite side dishes is a caramelized onion tart. Since I'll be eating at my mom's house for the first time in 14 years, I will miss out on one of my favorite Thanksgiving treats. So I scoured the Internet and found this recipe so I can make this dish at home.
Caramelized Onion and Bacon Tart
  • 4 slices bacon , cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 small onions , cut in half lengthwise and thickly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves , chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 (8-inch) frozen pie or tart shell
Preheat oven to 350°. Cook bacon in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat until fat is mostly rendered and bacon is crisp around edges. Transfer to paper towels to drain, and set aside, leaving 1 tablespoon bacon fat in pan. Crumble bacon after cooling.

Add onions to pan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until they start to brown, about 8 minutes. Turn heat to medium-low and add 1 tablespoon thyme and pinch of salt. Continue to cook until onions are soft and deep golden brown, about 20 minutes more.

Meanwhile, combine ricotta, egg yolk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pinch of pepper, 1 teaspoon thyme and 1/4 cup Parmigiano in a small bowl. Stir well to combine.

Spread ricotta mixture evenly on the bottom of tart shell. Arrange onions on top of ricotta and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon Parmigiano. Sprinkle bacon over top. Transfer to oven and bake until edges of filling are golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Saganaki



Most of my food cravings usually include cheese. Even though San Francisco is a great town for ethnic foods, I miss Chicago's Greek Town. A dinner at the Parthenon can't be beat and they actually claim fame to the dish I love so much- Saganaki.

Saganaki is Greek fried cheese. When you order it, the waiter brings it to the table, flambes it and then squeezes fresh lemon juice all over it just before serving. It's freakin' awesome. Dip your bread in all the goodness and sip a glass of crisp white wine. Heaven.

I've never made Saganaki at home but I have these great Calphalon tapas dishes that are perfect for it so I figured to give it a shot. I tried flambeing the dish table side but it was a bust. Second time around I flambed it on the stove and it turned out perfect.

Saganaki
  • 8 (1/2-inch) slices Kasseri cheese
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups brandy
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 8 rounds of pita bread, brushed with olive oil, grilled and quartered
  • 1 cup Kalamata olives

Season both sides of the cheese with salt and pepper. Place the cheese in a shallow dish and cover with brandy. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours. Season the flour with salt and pepper. Remove the cheese from the pan, reserving 1/4 cup of the brandy and dredge in the seasoned flour, coating completely. In a large saute pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Pan-fry the cheese for 2 minutes on each side. Add the reserved brandy and carefully flame the liquor, shaking the pan back and forth several times. Add the lemon juice. Remove from the pan and serve with the pita bread and olives.


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If you haven't started planning your Thanksgiving menu you better get started. Lucky for you, all the cooking mags are packed with holiday recipes and I'm sure you can dig up some family favorites that have been passed down for generations. Thanksgiving is not the holiday to procrastinate.

This recipe is a spin on a classic side dish that we are all probably familiar with. If the chili powder turns you off, simply skip it and just leave the pecans plain. Either way you can't go wrong with these flavors.

Sweet Potato Gratin with Chile-Spiced Pecans

  1. 5 pounds sweet potatoes
  2. 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  3. 2 cups pecans (8 ounces)
  4. 2 tablespoons sugar
  5. 1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
  6. Kosher salt
  7. 1/4 cup honey
  8. 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  9. 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  10. 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  11. 1/2 cup heavy cream
  12. Freshly ground pepper
  13. 2 cups mini marshmallows

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Roast the sweet potatoes on a large baking sheet for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, until tender.
  2. Meanwhile, in a skillet, melt the butter. Add the pecans, sugar and chipotle powder and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the sugar starts to caramelize and the pecans are well-coated, 8 minutes. Spread the pecans on a parchment-lined baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and let cool.
  3. Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop the flesh into the bowl of a food processor; discard the skins. Add the honey, cinnamon, allspice and cloves to the processor and puree. Add the cream and puree. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Scrape the potatoes into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish; scatter the marshmallows on top. Bake in the top third of the oven for 25 minutes, until the marshmallows are golden. Sprinkle with the pecans and serve.

Make Ahead

    The sweet potato puree can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature and top with the marshmallows before baking. The spiced nuts can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Chicken Cordon Bleu over Bacon Brussels Sprout Hash with Chicken Jus and Cranberry Chutney

As you all know, I am a Food Network junkie. However there are a few shows that I don't really love as much of the others. That's why I was shocked that after I watched a complete episode of Tyler's Ultimate that I was dying to make this dish. In my opinion, shoving cheese and prosciutto in anything is always a good idea. But when you add a buttery, crispy crust and serve it over a bacon brussels sprout hash with chicken jus and and cranberry chutney, I cannot resist.
This is a fantastic fall meal and the ingredients are affordable.

I added butternut squash to the hash and added more sugar to the cranberries. Instead of mincing the garlic and tossing it in the panko, I used a garlic press. Lastly, my veggies took about 10 minutes longer but I had a larger quantity due to the addition of the butternut squash.

Chicken Cordon Bleu
  • 4 chicken breasts skinless and boneless
  • 4 thin slices prosciutto di Parma
  • 1/2 pound Gruyere, grated
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Lay the chicken breast between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Using the flat side of a meat mallet, gently pound the chicken to 1/4-inch thickness. Remove the top sheet of plastic and lay 2 slices of prosciutto neatly over the top to cover the breast and sprinkle a quarter of the cheese over the prosciutto. Tuck in the sides of the breast and roll up tight like a jellyroll inside the plastic wrap. Squeeze the log gently to seal and twist both ends tight to form a nice log. Repeat with remaining chicken.

Season the flour with salt and pepper. Mix the bread crumbs with thyme, garlic and kosher salt, pepper, and melted butter. The butter will help the crust brown. Beat together the eggs and season so the flour, the eggs and the crumbs are all seasoned.

Remove the plastic wrap. Lightly dust the chicken with flour, dip in the egg mixture and gently coat in the bread crumbs. Lightly coat a baking pan with olive oil and carefully transfer the roulades onto it. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until browned and cooked through.

Cut into pinwheels and serve on top of Brussels Sprout Hash with Chicken Jus and Cranberry Chutney.

Bacon Brussels Sprout Hash with Chicken Jus

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 pints Brussels sprouts, cut in 1/2
  • 1 pound fingerling potatoes, split down the middle
  • 1/2 pound red pearl onions, peeled
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves roughly chopped

Set a large saute pan over medium heat and add a 2 count of olive oil. Cut bacon into long strips and add to pan together with thyme. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes to render the fat then strain and set aside. Add Brussels sprouts, potatoes and pearl onions. Season with salt and pepper and cook until slightly browned. Add chicken stock and steam for 3 to5 minutes until liquid has evaporated and vegetables are tender. Add balsamic vinegar and toss to coat. Cook until balsamic has reduced then fold in fresh parsley and bacon.

Cranberry Chutney

  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup full-body red wine
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Add ingredients to a small saucepan and set over low-medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes until the cranberries are just cooked through and tender. You want them cooked through but not falling apart.


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Monday, November 10, 2008

Broccolini with Pecan Brown Butter Sauce

I discovered broccolini too late in life. This unique vegetable was developed in Japan and looks like longer and skinnier broccoli. It's down right yummy and can be found pretty easily in stores. This would make a perfect side for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner and was just featured in the holiday issue of Bon Appetite.

Broccolini with Pecan Brown Butter Sauce

* 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 pounds broccolini (about 4 bunches)
* 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
* 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots (about 2 medium)
* 1 garlic clove, chopped
* 1/2 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
* Coarse kosher salt

Preparation

Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Add broccolini; stir to separate and cook 2 minutes. Drain. Transfer broccolini to paper towels to drain. Cool. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap broccolini in several layers of clean paper towels; enclose in resealable plastic bag and chill.

Melt butter in extra-large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic, then pecans; sauté until shallots are soft, about 3 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high; stir constantly until butter is browned and pecans are aromatic, about 3 minutes. Add broccolini to skillet and toss gently until heated through, about 7 minutes. Season to taste with coarse salt and pepper. Transfer to platter and serve.
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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Bacon-Pimento Grilled Cheese

My mother always has pimento cheese in the fridge and it's amazing that I don't weigh 500 pounds. Pimento cheese is a southern delight that is a simple mixture of my great loves, cheese and mayonnaise. Now, I like to dice up some fresh jalapeno or add some diced green chilies to the cheese as well. For a snack, try dipping chips into the mixture and wash it down with a glass of milk. Otherwise, go big and fry up some bacon and add some kick to an American classic, the grilled cheese.

Bacon-Pimento Grilled Cheese
for the pimento cheese:
1 lb cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 small jar pimentos, or 1/2 cup diced roasted red peppers
tabasco sauce, to taste

for the sandwiches:
sliced bread
bacon slices, preferably thick, center-cut

Make the pimento cheese:
- Stir all ingredients together, refrigerate a few hours.

For the sandwiches:

- Fry the bacon in a large skillet until crisp and brown, set aside bacon on paper towels. If there is excess fat in the skillet, drain some of it off and set it aside, leave some fat in the skillet. Assemble the sandwiches: Spread pimento cheese on one slice of bread, top with a few bacon strips, top with the other slice of bread. Heat the skillet and fry the sandwiches until golden and crispy on both sides and the cheese is melted. Repeat with remaining sandwiches, using reserved fat if necessary.
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Sunday, November 2, 2008

3 Cheese-Mini Macs


As some of you know, my sister and I celebrate Cheese Thursday's. Each week, we switch houses and one of us cooks dinner. The dish should include as much dairy as possible. Gluttonous, I know, but it is so fun and oh so good. Needless to say, I am always on the lookout for fun cheesy recipes. As I was browsing on my usually list of foodie sites this morning, I came across this playful recipe that would be great for a football party, a kiddie snack, a casual get together or a fun start to a weeknight dinner.

If you want to dress the recipe up play around with the cheeses. Gruyere, Gouda, Brie, Gorgonzola, Stilton and Fontina are all great melting cheeses that satisfy more sophisticated palates. They range from creamy to stinky so make sure you choose cheeses that compliment each other. In addition, pancetta, sauteed leeks, mushrooms, truffle oil and more can contribute some nice layers and textures. To dress down, embrace processed cheeses. Velveeta, Kraft Singles and Jack will bring out the kid in everyone. Lastly, feel free to add kick. Diced pimentos, jalapenos, red chile flakes, serrano peppers or green chilies can make your small bite range from mild to piping hot.

Ingredients

  1. 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
  2. 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for brushing
  3. 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  4. 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  5. 3/4 cup milk
  6. 4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (1 packed cup)
  7. 4 ounces deli-sliced American cheese, chopped
  8. 1 large egg yolk
  9. 1/4 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°. In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the macaroni until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain, shaking off the excess water.
  2. Brush four 12-cup, nonstick mini muffin tins with butter. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the Parmigiano; tap out the excess.
  3. In a large saucepan, melt the 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the flour over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk and cook, whisking, until boiling, about 5 minutes. Add the cheddar and American cheeses and whisk until melted. Off the heat, whisk in the egg yolk and paprika. Fold in the macaroni.
  4. Spoon slightly rounded tablespoons of the macaroni into the prepared muffin cups, packing them gently. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmigiano on top.
  5. Bake the mini macs in the upper and middle thirds of the oven for about 10 minutes, until golden and sizzling. Let cool for 5 min­utes. Using a small spoon, carefully loosen the mini macs, transfer to a platter and serve.


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How to Carve a Bird



Call me old fashioned but when I cook a bird I always have a man carve it. I have found over the years that some young men have not been taught this privilege. That's why I dug up this video so everyone can be prepared for this year's Thanksgiving Feast. Video thanks to Epicurious.
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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Steakhouse Dinner at Home!

In this economy it's tough to go out for a steak dinner. So when I was craving red meat this week, I decided to recreate the American classic in my home and for more than half the price. So, here are my tricks:

1) Sub skirt steak for a NY Strip or Filet. Skirt Steak is SO underrated and if cooked properly it can be tender and delicious. A 1 pound skirt steak can feed 4 people and it will probably cost you $8. NY Strip or filets typically start at $18 per pound at the store and $36 at the restaurant!

2) Use plain veggies. Refrain from buying cream, butter, onions, and more for creamed or scalloped dishes. Just buy sour cream (starts at $1) for your baked potato and you've saved at least 6 bucks. Roasted asparagus or brussel sprouts tossed in olive oil and salt and pepper is simple, delicious and pairs well with steak. Avoiding scalloped potatoes and creamed spinach is better for your waist line anyway...

3) Find a good red wine under $20. A decent Cabernet will start at $45 so ditch the traditional pairing and go for a different verietal that goes just as well with meats. An Argentinian Malbec would be a fine substitute and you can find them easily for 18-20 dollars.

Happy budget dining!
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Love Bacon?


Check out this out! (click on picture or link) http://incredimazing.com/page/Bacon_Flowchart
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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mushroom Barley Soup with Mini Meatballs

My little sister loves mushrooms and I realized in a recent conversation that I never post recipes with mushrooms on the blog. The reason for this is that I am not as crazy for these earthy fungi as my sister is but this hearty soup looks like a culinary delight. The meatballs are an easy mixture of sirloin, egg, cheese and breadcrumbs and the soup as whole comes together with ease so you can whip this up during the week no problem.

Mushroom Barley Soup with Mini Meatballs
  1. 4 cups beef stock or low-sodium broth
  2. 1 cup water
  3. 1/2 cup pearled barley
  4. 1 large thyme sprig
  5. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  6. 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  7. 1 pound mixed wild and cultivated mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced (or 3/4-pound presliced mushrooms)
  8. 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  9. 1/2 pound ground sirloin
  10. 1 large egg
  11. 2 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
  12. 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  13. 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  14. Sour cream, for serving (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, combine the stock, water, barley and thyme. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat until the barley is nearly tender, about 18 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil. Add the mushrooms and shallot, season with salt and pepper and cook over high heat until tender and browned, about 8 minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the sirloin, egg, bread crumbs, cheese, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Knead the mixture until blended, then roll it into sixteen 1-inch balls.
  4. Add the meatballs and mushrooms to the soup and simmer over moderate heat until the meatballs are cooked through and the barley is tender, about 8 minutes. Discard the thyme. Stir the parsley into the soup and serve in bowls with sour cream.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Grilled Skirt Steak with Chimichurrie Sauce

Skirt steak is really underrated. It's cheap, it takes about 5 minutes to grill and with a fresh chimichurrie sauce it really can't be beat. I like to marinate my skirt steak in a little worcestershire sauce and seasoning before I pop it on my grill pan. In addition, I add some more heat to my chimichurrie by adding some Sriracha.

Grilled Skirt Steak with Chimichurrie Sauce
  • 1 pd skirt steak
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup sherry vinegar
  • 3/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
  • 3 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 6 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • Salt & pepper
Season steak and marinate in 1/4 cup worcestershire sauce for a minimum of 1 hour and up to 6.

Heat grill pan. Chop parsley (can use flat parsley) and add to rest of the ingredients. Grill steak 3 minutes a side for medium rare and served slices pieces with chimichurrie sauce.
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Monday, October 20, 2008

Grill-Roasted Vegetables with Pine Nut Pesto

Unlike a lot of fruit lovers out there, I love Fall's bounty. To me, nothing beats root vegetables and preparing them can be easy. Better yet, prep can be delegated. So children, friends and spouses can join you in the kitchen. Every cook has a task they love to delegate. For me, it's deveining shrimp and shucking corn. I can't remember the last time I did either. Delegating aside, this recipe doesn't call for much but some good ol' peeling and chopping.

In addition, this recipe gives you the grill vs. roast option so chose whatever you like best. For me roasting is easier than breaking out my grill pan. You can also skip the pesto and buy store bought but making pesto is a snap and fresh is always better.

Grill-Roasted Vegetables with Pine Nut Pesto
  1. 1 pound carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
  2. 1 pound parsnips, cut into 1-inch pieces
  3. 1 pound brussels sprouts, halved lengthwise
  4. One 2 1/2-pound butternut squash—peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-by-1 1/2-inch pieces
  5. 2 large shallots, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
  6. 6 thyme sprigs
  7. 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  8. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  9. 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  10. 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  11. 1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
  12. 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  1. In a large bowl, toss the carrots and parsnip pieces with the brussels sprouts, butternut squash, shallots, thyme sprigs and 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Preheat a gas grill to high heat (about 425°). Place 2 perforated grill pans directly on the grate to heat for about 10 minutes. Divide the vegetables between the grill pans and grill over high heat, stirring and turning occasionally, until they are tender and lightly charred in spots, about 50 minutes. Alternatively, roast the vegetables in a large roasting pan in a 425° oven, stirring them occasionally.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the pine nuts and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until they are lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add the butter and garlic and cook, stirring, until the pine nuts are browned and the garlic is golden, about 2 minutes. Let cool, then transfer to a mini processor. Add the grated cheese and the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil and pulse to a chunky puree. Season the pine nut pesto with salt.
  4. Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl and toss with the pine nut pesto. Serve hot or warm.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

A16

I can't remember the last time that Drew and I went on a date. Between looking for jobs, looking for an apartment, working opposite schedules and moving, we just haven't had the time. I have a laundry list of restaurants that I cannot wait to start crossing off in our new city. One restaurant close to the top is A16, a chic trattoria devoted to the food of Southern Italy. Chef Nate Appleman has earned certification by the Verace Pizza Napoletana Association, becoming one of the few certified pizzaiolos in the United States so their wood-fired pizza's are not to be missed.

From the outside, it looks tiny. However, when you walk past the wine bar, you quickly discover the long and narrow space that dedicates its entire right side to an open air kitchen with various work stations, including 2 wood burning ovens, a dough surface, saute and salumi stations and more. If you sit at the narrow 14 seat chef's table that wraps around the stations, you can watch a well-oiled kitchen that is surprisingly relaxed in a room packed with diners.

A16's wine bar boasts over 350 bottles to chose from and over 40 wines by the glass. The wine list is predominately Italian with a handful of California wines. I began our meal with a Moretti, a classic Italian beer, and mozzarella burrata with olive oil and crostini. The olive oil they use is top notch and adds even more depth to a dish that is very rich to begin with. For the next course we decided to try the roasted friarelli peppers with anchovies, calabrian chiles, lemon and fried breadcrumbs that we saw the sous chef make several times in front of us. Our Salsiccia pizza, a fennel sausage, roasted peppers, red onions, mozzarella, grana padano, garlic, chiles, came at the same time and the two went great together paired with my glass of a Sangiovese based blend.

The best part about this restaurant is that it's 3 blocks from my house. There is no question that this will quickly become one of our neighborhood go-tos. Word on the street is that it's always packed, especially on Meatball Monday's, so get there early or prepare to wait.
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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pumpkin Bread with Cranberries

Fall is here and it's time start baking. This pumpkin bread with cranberries is easy to make and great to have around the house for a snack. I like to add a little nutmeg and walnuts to the batter for more texture and flavor.
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups pumpkin pureé (15 oz can)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup fresh or dried cranberries
Combine flour, spice, baking powder, and salt in bowl; stir to blend the dry ingredients well. Combine eggs, sugar, pumpkin, and oil in a mixing bowl, beating until smooth. Stir in flour mixture, then stir in cranberries. Spoon into a greased and floured 9x5x2-inch loaf pan. Bake at 325° for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 40 minutes, or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.
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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Souffléed Macaroni and Cheese

My sister's husband has a night class each Thursday for law school. I am telling you this because it allows my sister some culinary freedom. You see, Justin is lactose intolerant which means 6 days a week she goes dairy free. Now that's love.

Thursday's are now Cheese Thursday's. It's the day of the week where my sister gets to indulge in everything dairy while her husband is sitting through lectures taking notes. On tonight's menu is this mac and cheese recipe that caught my eye in this month's Gourmet.

Souffléed Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 4 generously
Start to finish:1 hr

* 1 1/2 cups scalded milk
* 1 cup soft bread crumbs
* 1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
* 1 cup cooked macaroni
* 3 large eggs, separated
* 1/4 cup diced pimento
* 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
* 1 tablespoon grated onion
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 3 tablespoons melted butter

Pour milk over soft bread crumbs; add cheese. Cover and let stand until cheese melts. Add macaroni. Combine and add beaten egg yolks, pimento, parsley, onion, salt, and melted butter.

Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry and fold into mixture. Pour into a buttered 1 1/2-quart casserole. Bake at 350°F until puffed and golden, about 35 minutes.
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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Rosemary, Blue Cheese and Grape Flatbread

Harvest is almost over in California's Wine Country and that means it's time to party. Each winery usually hosts its own Harvest or 'Crush' party each year. This may involve skeet shooting, grape stomping, keg stands or ritzy dinners in front of large fountains with a big band. They all vary.

A great way to salute our friend, the grape, before it heads into fermentation to convert into tasty wine, try this flatbread recipe I ripped out of this month's Food and Wine. This recipe can be a piece of cake if you buy frozen crusts from Trader Joe's. If you can't get your hands on some of the pre-made stuff then roll up your sleeves and get involved!

Rosemary, Blue Cheese and Grape Flatbread

ACTIVE TIME: 30 MIN
TOTAL TIME: 1 HR 30 MIN
MAKES ONE 13-INCH FLATBREAD
active dry yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups bread flour, plus more for rolling
3/4 cup warm water
2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 pound red grapes (1 1/2 cups)
Coarse sea salt
3 ounces blue cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon snipped chives
  1. In a large bowl, whisk the yeast and sugar with 1/4 cup of the flour. Stir in 1/4 cup of the warm water and let stand until slightly foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the rosemary, fine salt, pepper and the remaining 1 3/4 cups of flour and 1/2 cup of water; stir until a dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a draft-free spot until billowy and doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450°. Place a pizza stone in the bottom of the oven, and preheat for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Press and stretch the dough into a 13-inch round, then transfer to a lightly floured pizza peel. Press the grapes into the dough and sprinkle with sea salt.
  4. Slide the flatbread onto the hot stone and bake for about 12 minutes, until the crust is golden and the grapes have begun to release some of their juices. Sprinkle the blue cheese on top and bake for about 2 minutes longer, until the cheese melts. Slide the flatbread onto a work surface and drizzle with the honey and sprinkle with the chives. Cut into wedges and serve.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Press Club

Attention San Francisco: Come over to Press Club at the 4 Seasons Hotel ASAP!

Press Club is the new urban tasting room that showcases small plates, a private room and 8 world-class wineries. Order a wine flight with a tasting trio, cheese plate or charcuterie spread. Taste and learn about wines ranging from a late harvest Zinfandel from Fritz to a Wild Yeast Chardonnay from Miner Family Vineyards to a Proprietary Bordeaux Blend from Pahlmeyer. Make sure to purchase the wines you love and bring them home.

Best part? I work weekends. Come in and say hi.
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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Caramel-Pear Butter

Last night I showed up empty-handed for a dinner party. Shame on me. I was running behind, paranoid about traffic and just couldn't make it to the nearest wine shop. The guilt stayed with me overnight and I woke up brainstorming a jarring project so I'd have hostess gifts on-hand and ready for deployment.

Pear butter is absolutely delicious on an English muffin in the morning or on French toast. The last jar in my fridge lasted about week thanks to Drew. He pounded it. With this recipe, I'll never go empty-handed to a dinner party again. Maybe they'll even invite me back.

Caramel-Pear Butter
by Jill Silverman Hough
Yield: Makes about eight 1/2 -pint jars

Ingredients
1/4 cup apple juice
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
7 pounds ripe Bartlett pears
3 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Preparation
Combine apple juice and 4 tablespoons lemon juice in heavy large deep pot. Peel, core, and cut pears, 1 at a time, into 1/2- to 3/4-inch pieces; mix pears into juice mixture in pot as soon as pears are cut, to prevent browning. Cook over medium heat until pears release enough juice for mixture to boil, stirring frequently, about 16 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until pears are very tender, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes (mixture will splatter). Remove pot from heat.

Press pear mixture through fine plate of food mill into large bowl. Return pear puree to same pot. Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice, brown sugar, nutmeg, and 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered until pear butter thickens and is reduced to 8 cups, stirring every 5 minutes to prevent scorching, about 1 hour. Ladle pear butter into 8 hot clean 1/2-pint glass canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch space at top of jars. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar threads and rims with clean damp cloth. Cover with hot lids; apply screw bands. Process jars in pot of boiling water 10 minutes. Cool completely. Store in cool dark place up to 1 year.

Test Kitchen tip:
Stir the mixture with a flat-bottomed spatula or spoon to prevent the pear butter from scorching.


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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Chicken Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce

When my sister returned from a weekend home in Napa Valley, she had a plastic bag filled with garden goodies. Most notable was the batch of tomatillos. Her husband handed them to me and said 'Your Mom said you would know what to do with these". She was right. I made a tomatillo and cilantro sauce for some killer chicken enchiladas the next night.

Adding sour cream to the filling is key so don't skip or skimp this step. It makes the mixture very creamy and luscious. Next time, I am going to add green chilies to the mixture. Also, I broiled my chicken 9 minutes a side and shredded instead of boiled. I think seasoning and broiling the meat adds more texture and flavor. Other than that, this recipe is golden.

Chicken Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce
1 1/4 lb Fresh tomatillos
2 Jalapeno peppers
1 sm Onion peeled and finely -chopped
3 md Garlic clove -peeled and minced
1 tb Vegetable oil
1 cup cilantro, chopped
2 c Low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 ts Salt

ENCHILADA
2 Whole chicken breasts -boneless and skinless
2 tb Minced onion
1/3 c Sour cream
1/4 ts Salt
1/3 c Vegetable oil
1 c Sharp cheddar cheese -coarsely grated
1/2 c Crumbled asiago cheese -or substitute additional cheddar or jack cheese

Directions:1. TO MAKE THE SAUCE.Husk and wash the tomatillos. Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the tomatillos and jalapeno peppers and time for 10 minutes. Drain and remove the stem ends of the peppers. Put the tomatillos, peppers, cilantro, onion and garlic in a food processor and process to a coarse puree.2. In a large pan heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the vegetable puree and simmer 2 minutes. Stir in the broth and salt; simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside. 3.

TO MAKE THE ENCHILADAS. Place the chicken in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring just to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer until cooked through. Remove the chicken from the water and cool slightly. Shred the chicken and set aside. 4. Combine the cooled, shredded chicken with the minced onion, sour cream, and salt. Stir in 1/4 cup of the tomatillo sauce. Set aside.5. In a 9- to 10-inch frying pan heat the oil over medium-high heat. Put 1 tortilla at a time in the hot oil and fry about 30 seconds on each side. Drain on paper towels. Cool slightly.6. Spread a little of the sauce in a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Spoon some of the filling down the center of each tortilla and roll. Place in the baking dish; it will be a tight fit. Spoon the sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle with the cheddar and asiago cheeses. 7. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven 25 minutes. Cool 5 minutes before serving.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Belgian Tart with Aged Goat Cheese

Getting any of my food magazines in the mail is like Christmas day a couple times a month. Today I took a break from my current job search to see what the folks at Bon Appetite have to say this month. I came across an article by Molly Wizenberg titled "Fixing a Leek", curled up on my sister's couch and dug in.

My Dad, who calls leeks "the poor man's asparagus", cooks with these all the time. The reason for that of course is my family's roots in French cuisine. However, Ms. Wizenberg isn't as familiar with them and was very surprised on a recent trip to Belgium of how often she saw leeks in European shoppers' baskets and how prominently displayed they were in local markets.

It's true. Americans don't know what to do with leeks and the writer is quick to point that out. In fact, 2 out of 3 times I buy them at the grocery store I have to tell the young clerk what they are so they can proceed to look up the code. So next time you go to the market don't be so afraid of that vegetable that looks like an over-sized green onion. It's creamy, delicious, pairs really well with fish and can be used in the wonderful goat cheese tart showcased below.

Belgian Tart with Aged Goat Cheese

Crust:

4 tablespoons (or more) ice water
3/4 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon chilled unsalted butter

Filling:

1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup crumbled aged goat cheese (such as Bûcheron), rind trimmed
1 1/2 cups Leek Confit

Preparation

Crust:

Combine 4 tablespoons ice water and cider vinegar in small bowl. Blend flour and salt in processor. Add butter and cut in using on/off turns until mixture resembles coarse meal. With machine running, slowly add water-vinegar mixture, processing until moist clumps form. If dough seems dry, add ice water by teaspoonfuls.

Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep refrigerated. Allow dough to soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Roll dough out on lightly floured work surface to 12-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Press dough onto bottom and up sides. Fold in overhang and press to extend dough 1/2 inch above sides of pan. Line pan with foil and dried beans or pie weights. Bake until dough looks dry and set, about 30 minutes. Remove foil and beans and continue to bake until crust is pale golden, 20 to 25 minutes longer. Remove from oven and cool while preparing filling.

Filling:

Whisk milk, cream, egg, egg yolk, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese over bottom of warm crust; spread leek confit over and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Pour milk mixture over. Bake until filling has puffed, is golden in spots, and center looks set, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool slightly. Remove pan sides. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Fresh Artichoke and White Bean Crostini

I know this looks like a lot of ingredients for a tiny crostini but you should have most of these laying around and if you don't have the exact cheeses listed in the recipe go ahead and improvise. I should name my next blog Everything is Better with Cheese.

Crostinis have great texture and white beans with a little salt and lemon could be one of my favorite snacks. If you don't want to go through the labor of carving out fresh artichoke hearts just use the canned or jarred ones. I like to drain them and give them a quick rinse so they are not so oily. This cuts prep time and makes the recipe more accessible. Maybe an after work bite with a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc?

Fresh Artichokes and White Bean Crostini

Ingredients

4 artichokes, halved lengthwise, tops and stems trimmed, center leaves removed, chokes scraped out
6 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 large fresh thyme sprigs
1 cup drained rinsed canned cannellini (white kidney beans)
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup (packed) finely chopped fresh basil plus whole leaves for garnish
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus more for brushing
8 1/3- to 1/2-inch-thick slices pain rustique or other flat country bread
Lemon wedges

Preparation

Bring artichokes, 6 cups broth, and next 5 ingredients to boil in large saucepan, adding more broth if necessary to cover. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until artichoke hearts are very tender, about 50 minutes. Chill artichokes in broth mixture, uncovered, until cold, at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.

Remove artichokes from broth; drain. Pull off leaves. Cut hearts into 1/3-inch cubes; place in large bowl. Mix beans, cheese, 1/4 cup chopped basil, and 2 tablespoons oil into hearts. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange bread on rimmed baking sheet. Brush with oil. Bake until beginning to crisp, about 8 minutes.

Spoon artichoke topping onto bread. Squeeze lemon juice over; top with basil leaf.


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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Chicken Piccata Like Dad Used to Make

Two weeks before my freshman year of high school (circa the 90's for anyone that is curious) I moved from California to the great city of Chicago to live with my father. Now, my Dad doesn't mess around. Everyone in my family can cook to a significant extent but my father is really the pace car. Have you ever come home from volleyball practice and been offered homemade lobster bisque and homemade fudge (his specialty) for dessert? I didn't think so. And, yes, I know I am VERY lucky.

When I left Chicago to go the University of Colorado at Boulder, I no longer had the great chefs, that are my Mom and Dad, cooking for me anymore. That's when I decided to give the kitchen a shot for myself and the rest is history.

I'm a little homesick. My boyfriend and I just moved to San Francisco 4 days ago and left all of our friends and my father behind in Chicago. My father used to make Chicken Piccata quite a bit when we lived together and it's one of the first recipes he taught me to make on my own via the phone my sophomore year of college..."Hey Dad, how do you make that chicken with all that lemon and butter?"

There is something gratifying about filleting chicken breasts and then beating them to a pulp with a meat tenderizer. If you don't have one, no worries. Just throw plastic wrap over the breast and get creative. I've used everything from a book to a hammer to my fist.

By the way, Happy 65th birthday, Dad. We'll be thinking of you on Monday.

Chicken Piccata
2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and then cut in half
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour, for dredging
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook for 3 minutes. When chicken is browned, flip and cook other side for 3 minutes. Remove and transfer to plate. Melt 2 more tablespoons butter and add another 2 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add the other 2 pieces of chicken and brown both sides in same manner. Remove pan from heat and add chicken to the plate.


Into the pan add the lemon juice, stock and capers. Return to stove and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan for extra flavor. Check for seasoning. Return all the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove chicken to platter. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to sauce and whisk vigorously. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley.

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