Thursday, January 28, 2010

Chile Con Queso

The Super Bowl is just around the corner and that means it's time to start menu planning for a long day of drinking filled with snacks and small bites. Some of the usual suspects are buffalo wings (duh), sliders and potato skins but nothing beats a big bag of chips and and even bigger bowl of hot chile con queso.

This queso uses real cheese. Some folks were raised on Velveeta which melts nicely. The choice is really yours. There is no calorie counting on Super Bowl Sunday.

Chile Con Queso

1/2 onion diced (about 1/2 cup)
4 cloves of garlic minced
3 Serrano peppers diced
3 jalapeno peppers diced
2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of flour
1 cup of milk
6 cups of shredded cheese, can use any combination of Longhorn cheddar and Monterrey Jack
1/2 cup of cilantro, chopped
2 plum tomatoes, peeled and diced (about 1 cup, can use canned if tomatoes aren’t in season)
1/2 cup of sour cream
Salt to taste

1. Melt the butter in a saucepan on medium-low heat, and then cook the onions and peppers for about five minutes or until onions are translucent.
2. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
3. Whisk the flour into the butter, vegetable mix and cook for about 30 seconds.
4. Add the milk to the pot, and cook on medium, whisking constantly until sauce is thick, about five minutes. Stir in the cilantro and tomatoes.
5. Turn heat down to low, and a 1/4-cup at a time, slowly add the shredded cheese stirring into the white sauce until completely melted. Repeat.
6. Stir in the sour cream.
7. Add salt to taste.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cheddar, Bacon, and Fresh Chive Biscuits

Don't tell me that these don't look good. I mean, who in their right mind doesn't LOVE flaky, delicious biscuits!

I can think of a million and one uses for this. Let's brainstorm for a sec just for kicks:
  • Cut down the middle and insert a fried egg
  • Smother with honey
  • Bon Appetit suggests Dijon, thin sliced ham and leaf lettuce for a sandwich
  • Add a small spoon full of sour cream on top and serve with grilled steaks
  • Make corn chowder and dip in the soup
The options are endless. Get baking!

Cheddar, Bacon, and Fresh Chive Biscuits
  • 6 thick-cut bacon slices
  • 3 3/4 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, plus melted butter for brushing
  • 2 1/2 cups (packed) coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 12 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 1 3/4 cups chilled buttermilk
  • Honey (optional)
  • Position rack just above center of oven and preheat to 425°F. Line heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Cook bacon in heavy large skillet over medium heat until crisp and brown. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain, then chop coarsely.
  • Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in processor; blend 5 seconds. Add butter cubes. Blend until coarse meal forms, about 30 seconds.Transfer flour mixture to large bowl. Add cheddar cheese, fresh chives, and chopped bacon; toss to blend. Gradually add buttermilk, stirring to moisten evenly (batter will feel sticky).
  • Using lightly floured hands, drop generous 1/2 cup batter for each biscuit onto prepared baking sheet, spacing batter mounds about 2 inches apart.
  • Bake biscuits until golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Brush biscuits lightly with melted butter. Let cool 10 minutes. Serve biscuits warm or at room temperature with honey, if desired.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Warm Piquillo and Crab Dip

Piquillo peppers are not spicy rather they have terrific flavor that almost resembles a bell pepper but not as sweet. You can find them in specialty food stores in the canned foods isle.

Warm Piquillo and Crab Dip

  1. 1 pound lump crab, picked over
  2. 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  3. 1/4 cup crème fraîche
  4. 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  5. 2 tablespoons snipped chives
  6. 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  7. 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  8. 1/4 pound Manchego cheese, shredded (1 cup)
  9. One 9-ounce jar piquillo peppers, drained and cut into strips
  1. Preheat the broiler. In a bowl, combine the crab, mayonnaise, crème fraîche, parsley, chives, mustard, lemon juice and 3/4 cup of the Manchego. Spread in an 8-by-11-inch baking dish. Top with the piquillos and sprinkle with the remaining Manchego. Broil for 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the dip is heated through. Serve hot.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Foie Gras with Date Purée and Pomegranate

I'm always looking for unique hors d'oeuvres to serve at my next party because I take them very seriously. A hors d'oeuvres is a cook's first impression and you only get one chance. Make sure to capitalize on this opportunity and challenge yourself. If you want to take it easy, do a cheese plate or salmon lox but just make sure to get really good ingredients no matter what the recipe.

Foie Gras with Date Purée and Pomegranate

yield: Makes 32 hors d'oeuvres

In these spectacular cocktail-ring-proportioned bites, the date purée gives surprising depth to the silky richness of foie gras. Add pomegranate... more
  • 1/4 pound Medjool dates (packed 1/2 cup), pitted
  • 1/2 cup boiling-hot water
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses
  • 1 large brioche loaf or challah loaf (1 to 1 1/2 pound)
  • 1 (6 1/2-ounces) block foie gras, chilled
Garnish: pomegranate seeds (from 1 pomegranate) preparation

Soak dates in boiling-hot water (1/2 cup) in a bowl 10 minutes. Transfer dates with a slotted spoon to a mini food processor or a blender along with 1 tablespoon soaking liquid. Add pomegranate molasses and purée until smooth.

Preheat broiler.

Cut enough 1/4-inch-thick slices from brioche to cut into a total of 32 (1 1/2-inch) squares (without crust).

Broil brioche squares on a baking sheet 4 to 5 inches from heat, turning once, until pale golden, about 1 1/2 minutes total. (Watch carefully; brioche toasts quickly.)

Dip a sharp paring knife in hot water, then dry it and halve foie gras lengthwise. Cut each half crosswise into 16 slices (32 total), dipping and drying knife after each cut. Put each slice as cut on top of a brioche toast, then top with a small dollop of date purée and a few pomegranate seeds.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc Fried Chicken

Napa locals and savvy visitors know to skip the French Laundry and Bouchon and roll up their sleeves for a meal at Ad Hoc instead. The idea for Ad Hoc came from Chef Keller himself which he describes as "simple - 5 days a week we'd offer a 4 course family style menu that changed each day, accompanied by a small, accessible wine list in a casual setting reminiscent of home. We wanted a place to dine for our community and ourselves." And he did just that.

I've had an Ad Hoc Christmas. My step dad gave me the beautiful cookbook and I scooped up some of the pre-made brine and batter at Williams-Sonoma. What some of you may not know is that Ad Hoc is known for its fried chicken. Let me tell you, this stuff is bomb. The batter and brine are easy to create yourself by following the recipe but if you have the pre-packed bag there are NO excuses! Make sure to serve with some mac & cheese and collard greens.

Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc Fried Chicken

1 gallon cold water
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
12 bay leaves
1 head of garlic, smashed but not peeled
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
3 large rosemary sprigs
1 small bunch of thyme
1 small bunch of parsley
Finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
Two 3-pound chickens
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 cups buttermilk
Vegetable oil, for frying
Rosemary and thyme sprigs, for garnish
  1. In a very large pot, combine 1 quart of the water with 1 cup of the salt and the honey, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns, rosemary, thyme and parsley. Add the lemon zest and juice and the lemon halves and bring to a simmer over moderate heat, stirring until the salt is dissolved. Let cool completely, then stir in the remaining 3 quarts of cold water. Add the chickens, being sure they're completely submerged, and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Drain the chickens and pat dry. Scrape off any herbs or peppercorns stuck to the skin and cut each bird into 8 pieces, keeping the breast meat on the bone.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne and the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt. Put the buttermilk in a large, shallow bowl. Working with a few pieces at a time, dip the chicken in the buttermilk, then dredge in the flour mixture, pressing so it adheres all over. Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet lined with wax paper.
  4. In a very large, deep skillet, heat 1 inch of vegetable oil to 330°. Fry the chicken in 2 or 3 batches over moderate heat, turning once, until golden and crunchy and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of each piece registers 160°, about 20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to paper towels to drain, and keep warm in a low oven while you fry the remaining chicken pieces. Transfer the fried chicken to a platter, garnish with the herb sprigs and serve hot or at room temperature.


Grandmother Shaw's Sugar Cookies

My dad sent out an email this week to some family members trying to track down my grandmother's sugar cookie recipe. After a little back and forth, he was able to get it and share it with all of us. Sugar cookies are simple and delicious but dangerous to keep around the house. You can never stop at one so I recommend doubling the batch.

Grandmother Shaw's Sugar Cookies






Monday, January 4, 2010

Chicken Paillards with Clementine Salsa

Happy New Year, Dear Reader!

The last 10 days in Chicago felt like a month but now I am back home in sunny San Francisco ready to start cooking again. First up is this recipe by Lora Zarubin that takes advantage of clementines in the height of their season. This is an easy recipe for a weeknight or casual dinner party with some friends.

Chicken Paillards with Clementine Salsa
  • 4 5-ounce chicken breast halves
  • 4 clementines, peeled, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1/2 cup finely diced celery
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 serrano chile, seeded, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh clementine juice (from about 6 clementines)
  • Place chicken breast halves between 2 sheets plastic wrap or parchment paper, spacing apart. Using mallet, pound chicken to 1/4-inch thickness. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
  • Mix clementines and next 8 ingredients in medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD Salsa can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover; let stand at room temperature.
  • Uncover chicken; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until slightly browned and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to platter. Add clementine juice to skillet; boil until reduced to 1/4 cup, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Drizzle sauce over chicken. Spoon salsa over and serve.