Thursday, December 31, 2009

Savory & Spicy Cashew Nuts


Savory and Spicy Cashew Nuts
Yields 2 cups Spiced Cashews
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate

2 cups raw cashew nuts (whole, or halves are best for this recipe)
2 Tablespoons butter (I use just a little over 1 Tablespoon)
1 teaspoon salt (more or less, to taste)
1 teaspoon Curry powder or garam masala (I use a combination of each)
1 teaspoon ground Cumin seeds
¼ teaspoon Cayenne pepper, or more, to taste

Melt the butter in a saucepan, and saute nuts until golden brown. Stir in the seasonings and cook for a few more minutes, watch carefully while stirring so nuts and spices do not scorch.

Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on kitchen paper. When cool, store in a airtight container.


Recipe is from "The Country Kitchen: Gifts Homemade by Anne Chapman" (with slight adaptations from me)




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Rosemary Walnuts


Rosemary Walnuts
Yield: 2 cups

3 to 4 Tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons very finely minced fresh rosemary, or 1 scant Tablespoon dried & crumbled
1/4 teaspoon salt, more if desired
Generous pinch ground red pepper (Cayenne, or other hot ground pepper of your choice)
Optional: A couple shakes of Garlic Powder. If using Garlic Salt, reduce the plain salt in the recipe)
2 cups walnut halves or large pieces

Method:

Position oven rack in center, preheat oven to 400* (F)
Line a shallow baking pan (jelly roll pan) with foil or parchment.
Arrange walnuts evenly in pan, set aside.

In a small saucepan melt butter, then add rosemary, salt, red pepper. Stir over medium heat for a few moments so ingredients release their flavor. Remove from heat and sprinkle in garlic powder if using.

Drizzle butter mixture over nuts, stirring to coat as evenly as possible. Place pan in oven and roast for about 6 to 10 minutes or so, until walnuts are lightly toasted, stirring every 3 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Store in airtight containers. These make a nice gift when packaged in a jar with a pretty bow.


Enjoy!




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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Fabulous Blueberry Streusel Muffins



Fabulous Blueberry Streusel Muffins
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate

Of all the Blueberry Muffin recipes I have tried this is my favorite. It is from the "Taste of Home" recipe site, and the only change I made was to bake the muffins in crumb cake pans. Similar to muffin top baking pans they are a bit deeper and wider. There are also paper crumbcake pans like THESE.
Of course you can use any size muffin pans you like ~ but do try them, they are seriously good.

Ingredients

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

STREUSEL:
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup cold butter

Directions

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla; mix well. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Fold in blueberries.
Fill 12 greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon; cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over muffins. Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes or until browned. Cool for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Serve warm. Yield: 1 dozen regular size muffins, 24 mini-muffins or 6 extra large muffins, or 6 large individual crumb cake size muffins.


I hope you enjoy!




Nutrition Facts: 1 serving (1 each) equals 252 calories, 9 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 41 mg cholesterol, 325 mg sodium, 39 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 4 g protein.

Blueberry Streusel Muffins published in Taste of Home February/March 1995, p31



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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Steak House-Style Creamed Spinach



Steak House-Style Creamed Spinach
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate

Creamy and decadent, very similar to Ruth Chris' Version

I combined a few elements from several recipes found on the internet to make this one, it's rich and delicious. Wonderful with grilled steaks, roasts, chicken, or fish. I hope you enjoy it.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients:
6 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow/brown onion
1 small shallot, finely minced
1 bay leaf
1 whole clove, or the tiniest pinch of ground cloves (careful, it's strongly flavored and can overpower the dish very easily)
a few grinds/shavings of fresh nutmeg
2 cups whole milk
about 20 ounces bagged ready-to-use fresh spinach,
OR use two-10 ounce boxes frozen spinach, thawed and thoroughly drained (squeeze as dry as possible)
In a food processor fitted with the metal blade process the spinach until finely chopped/minced, set aside.

Melt 4 tablespoons butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat.
To the melted butter add flour, cook and stir for about 5 minutes. Add the finely chopped onion, minced shallot, bay leaf, clove and nutmeg, stir to slightly soften the onion but don't brown.
Slowly whisk in milk until smooth. Continue stirring/whisking until mixture boils and thickens. This will take a few minutes, but be sure to keep stirring/whisking so mixture does not scorch.

Remove bay leaf (and whole clove, if using), add minced/finely chopped spinach and continue simmer for about 7 minutes, stirring to keep mixture from burning or scorching. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes longer, whisking frequently (sauce will be very thick).

Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, and a little additional milk if you like your creamed spinach a little looser (less thick.) Add salt and pepper to taste and serve hot.*

*Alternately the creamed spinach may be portioned into small, shallow individual buttered ramekins, sprinkled with finely grated cheese (Parmesan is my favorite for this), then placed under broiler for a moment or two until the cheese is bubbling and lightly golden.





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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Caramel Popcorn with Fleur de Sel



Caramel Popcorn with Fleur de Sel
Makes 28 - one cup servings (it never lasts long!)


As shared from the Kitchen of Once Upon a Plate

This is the easiest recipe (no candy thermometer required), and produces the most delicious Caramel Popcorn you can imagine.


7 quarts plain popped popcorn
2 cups nuts (I use roasted pecans, but you can use peanuts, walnuts, almonds, etc.)
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter (or margarine)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To finish:
Fleur de Sel (Coarse sea salt) for sprinkling

Directions :

Preheat oven to 250* (F), 120* (C)

Divide the popped popcorn between two shallow, lightly greased baking pans. (Such as roasting pans, jelly roll pans, or disposable roasting pans.) If using, add the nuts to the popped corn. Set aside while you make the caramel.

In a medium-large pot combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt over medium heat. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring to blend. Allow the mixture to come to a boil, then boil for 5 minutes, stirring all the while.

Remove from the heat, and stir in the baking soda and vanilla. The mixture will bubble up and become light and foamy. Immediately pour/drizzle over the popcorn in the pans, and stir to coat. Try to distribute the syrup evenly, but don't worry it will even out in the next steps.

Bake for 1 hour, giving each pan a good complete stir every 15 minutes. (Remove from the oven to stir).

Line a large work surface ( the counter top works perfectly) with waxed paper, or aluminum foil sprayed lightly with cooking oil. Immediately dump the corn out onto the wax paper or foil and separate the pieces into chunks, or smaller pieces if you desire. Sprinkle lightly and evenly with Fleur de Sel.


Allow to cool completely, then store in airtight containers or resealable bags to keep it fresh.


This recipe is adapted from "All Recipes".
My friend Em, on her blog "The Repressed Pastry Chef" recommended the recipe as originally posted on All Recipes. However, I took the liberty of adding the Fleur de Sel, I hope you like it!




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Monday, December 21, 2009

Silky Cauliflower and Cheddar Cheese Soup



Silky Cauliflower and Cheddar Cheese Soup
4 servings

As shared from the Kitchen of Once Upon a Plate

Ingredients:

1 medium head cauliflower, washed, trimmed and cut into florets
1 medium potato, peeled and cut into medium dice
Homemade chicken stock, or 3 (14.5 ounce) cans of chicken broth/stock
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt, and more to taste
Several grinds of freshly ground black pepper
2 cups milk
6 to 8 ounces Cheddar cheese (mild, medium, or sharp)
1 to 3 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)
1/2 sweet red bell pepper, finely chopped (optional)
Cayenne pepper (optional)
Additional grated cheese for garnish
* I like to stir a teaspoon or two of freshly squeezed lemon juice into the soup at the end of cooking time, it piques the flavor of the soup very nicely.

Method:


Cook cauliflower and diced potato in (2 cans of the ) chicken broth/stock until tender, do not drain. Allow to cool slightly in the pan. Puree mixture in blender until as smooth or chunky as you like. I use a stick blender to blend right in the cooking pot.

Melt butter in medium-large saucepan. Add onion, red bell pepper and minced garlic; saute until translucent, but not browned.

Stir flour, salt and pepper into the sauteed onions. Add milk, stir until mixture boils and thickens.

Add cheese and cauliflower mixture. Stir to heat and melt cheese. Add more chicken broth if too thick, and allow to heat through. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding cayenne pepper if you like the soup a bit spicier.


Garnish as desired and serve hot.


Enjoy!




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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bite-Size Vanilla Cupcakes with Cream Cheese & Coconut Frosting




Bite Size Vanilla Cupcakes
Yields 24 mini cupcakes

This recipe is identical to Nigella Lawson's recipe for Fairy Cakes, and could not be simpler as the batter is made in the food processor.


Preheat oven to 375* (F)

24 cup mini-cupcake pan, with mini-baking cups placed in each cup
OR for regular size cupcakes:
12-cup muffin pan lined with 12 paper baking cups

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup superfine sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup self-rising cake flour (or 3/4 cup all-purpose flour with a scant 3/4 teaspoon of baking powder sifted in)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 Tablespoons milk or cream



Place all ingredients except milk into food processor bowl. Process until smooth. Add the milk or cream and pulse until soft consistency is reached; soft enough to drop from a spoon.


This amount looks very sparse, but it will be enough to fill each cup. Fill each cup equally. I use a very small food portion scoop to make the job easier.


Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cupcakes are baked and golden on top, a toothpick inserted in the center should reveal moist crumbs.
When baked, remove from oven, allow to cool a few minutes in the pan, then remove from pan and cool completely on a cake rack.


Sometimes this recipe tends to produce mounded peaks, you can either frost over the mound or trim flat with a small, serrated knife, then decorate.


********


Cream Cheese Frosting


I use Ina Garten's recipe for Cream Cheese frosting for these cupcakes, but I divide her recipe in half. The proportions for half a recipe are as follows:

Note: This will make plenty of frosting. I frost very generously but always have some frosting left over. It can be refrigerated for several days.

8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
3/4 pounds (12 ounces) confectioners' sugar, sifted
Sweetened, moist shredded coconut to finish


In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth.

Frost cupcakes, then sprinkle generously with the coconut.

For the leaves I used tiny organic mint leaves, the "berries" are 'Red Hots' (tm) , cinnamon candies.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dutch Babies (Puff Pancakes)



This recipe serves 2, however, you can easily multiply this recipe to make any size Dutch Baby you like. For 4 to 6 eggs I usually use my largest cast iron skillet, but you can use a rectangular roasting pan or any oven-proof container with 3 to 4-inch sides.


If you want to make individually sized pancakes, divide the following recipe in half (but don't reduce/divide the amount of butter--each individual pan will still need 1 Tablespoon of butter)


Dutch Babies
(Oven Baked Puffy Pancake)
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate

Serves 2

1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1 Tablespoon butter

Center oven rack in middle to lower position. Preheat the oven to 450-500 degrees for at least 15 minutes.

In a blender mix the milk and eggs until completely combined. With machine running, spoon in the flour until a smooth batter forms (scrape down sides of blender bowl if necessary.)


Place a cast iron skillet(s), pie pan, or other suitable, oven-proof baking container in oven to heat. When pan is hot add butter to the pan(s).


As soon as butter sizzles; swirl pan to distribute butter evenly. Immediately pour batter into pan (or divide evenly between pans), and bake for 10 to 20 minutes, depending upon size of pan(s). The batter will bake, then puff up dramatically. Bake until it is as light and eggy, or browned and crispy as you like.

Top with powdered sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice, or cinnamon apples, fresh fruit, yogurt, syrup or honey.



For another of my posts about Dutch Babies, click HERE.



I hope you enjoy!







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Monday, December 14, 2009

Frozen Hot Buttered Rum


Frozen Hot Buttered Rum

As shared by the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate
4 servings

Notes: Way better than spiked eggnog!!

1 pint good quality vanilla ice cream
½ cup crushed ice
¼ cup Myers's (Dark Jamaican) rum
¼ cup Buttershots Liqueur (sometimes called Butterscotch Liqueur)
¼ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a blender, crush the ice, add remaining ingredients and blend until mixture is the consistency of a slushy, icy milkshake.

Add more Myers's Rum and Buttershots as desired.


Cheers & Enjoy!



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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Lamb Chops/Cutlets with Herbs, Lemon and Vine Leaves


Lamb Chops with Herbs, Lemon and Vine Leaves
Serves 4

As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate

12 lamb cutlets, trimmed of extra fat
sea salt and coarse ground black pepepr
Olive oil (about a tablespoon)
grated zest from one lemon
Fresh oregano leaves (about 1 tablespoon), or a teaspoon or so rosemary needles, coarsely chopped
2 Tablespoons bright green grape seed oil, or extra virgin olive oil

Method:
Sprinkle both sides of chops with salt and pepper. Heat a large, heavy frying pan over medium-high heat until hot. Ad oil, lemon zest and herbs; stir for 30 seconds then add lamb cutlets without crowding. Cook for 3 minutes on each side (or longer, to your preference.) Remove from pan to a platter, tent with foil and keep them warm.

Heat a small amount of olive oil in the same pan and cook vine leaves 2 minutes per side or until crisp ~ watch carefully, they can burn quickly. Drain.

Plate the cutlets with mashed potatoes. Drizzle flavorful oil over the potatoes and season with coarse salt and coarse pepper. Place a vine leaf or two on each plate and serve.

Tips for vine leaves: Use organically grown, un-sprayed fresh grape leaves, or grape leaves in brine from the jar. Rinse, drain and blot the jarred leaves until dry before frying.


Recipe is adapted from Donna Hay


Enjoy!




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Friday, December 4, 2009

Black Cod with Sage on Crispy Potato Cakes




Black Cod with Lime and Sage
2 servings

1 Tablespoon oil
2 Tablespoons butter
1 lime sliced into 1/4-inch slices
10 to 12 fresh, whole sage leaves
3/4 to 1 pound Black Cod filets or steaks

Heat butter and oil over medium heat until butter is melted and a drop of water sprinkled in the pan sizzles and bounces.

Add lime slices and cook until tender about 1 minute on each side. Remove from pan and allow to drain. Add sage to pan and fry for about 1 minute. Remove from pan and place on towel to absorb excess oil and butter. (Sage should be crispy.)

Add Black Cod to pan and fry a couple of minutes per side. Fish should still be slightly opaque in the center. If you like your fish more well done, cook a few minutes longer.

Place one portion of fish on each plate, or one piece of fish on top of individual potato cakes. Garnish with fried sage and lime slices.

Black cod recipe adapted from Donna Hay




For Crispy Potato Cakes:


You can either make one larger potato cake; and cut it after cooking or use two very small frying pans to make two individual cakes if you prefer.

Peel two medium size russet potatoes, slice very thinly (a mandolin makes quick work of slicing.)

For individual cakes:
Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in small frying pan (non-stick is best for this recipe), add 1 teaspoon butter until melted. Layer potato slices evenly in pan, sprinkle very lightly with salt between every other layer. Press down with a spatual and allow to cook until lightly browned. Flip once, reduce heat slightly and cover pan and continue to cook until potato layers are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife and the bottom is golden brown and crisp.

To make one larger potato cake use the same method, increasing oil and butter by a teaspoon or two, then cut in half before plating, placing one half on each plate.



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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Softly Poached Eggs on Crispy Sweet Potato Hash Browns, Asparagus with Horseradish Cream Sauce


Softly Poached Egg on Crispy Sweet Potato Hash Browns, Asparagus with Horseradish Cream Sauce
4 servings

As Shared from the Kitchen of Once Upon a Plate

2 medium-size sweet potatoes, peeled and grated
6 large eggs
sea salt and cracked black pepper
vegetable oil, for shallow-frying
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
8 to 12 spears asparagus, trimmed and blanched

Creamy Horseradish Sauce

1 tablespoon very finely grated horseradish
1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons lemon juice
sea salt and cracked black pepper

First, make the Creamy Horseradish Sauce:
In a small bowl, stir the horseradish, sour cream, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a until well combined. Set aside.

For the Sweet Potato Hash Browns:
In a medium bowl mix the shredded sweet potato, 2 eggs, salt and pepper until combined evenly.

Heat 1/4-inch oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Divide sweet potato mixture into fourths and place the portions into the hot oil, cook until golden and crispy (for about 3 minutes) on each side. Drain on absorbent paper and keep warm. If your pan is not large enough to cook all hash brown portions at once, cook in batches, and keep warm until all are cooked.

To poach the eggs:
Heat a few inches of water in a deep frying pan over low heat until just simmering. Add the vinegar and use a wooden spoon to create a whirlpool. Crack each egg into a small shallow bowl or saucer~ gently and carefully slip the egg into the water. Poach the eggs for 3−4 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon and drain well. Alternately, you may use an egg poaching pan, or electric egg poacher to cook the eggs.


To assemble:

Top the hash browns with the asparagus and eggs and spoon over the creamy horseradish sauce, serve right away.


Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Donna Hay



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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Petite & Moist Banana Cake with Creamy Orange Frosting and Toasted Coconut



Petite & Moist Banana Cake ~ with Essence of Orange Icing
Yields: Two 5-inch layers, or one 8-inch or 9-inch layer
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate
(Recipe may be doubled for a two layer 8 or 9-inch cake, or one 9 x 14-inch cake)

Ingredients:
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup flour, sifted twice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 (scant) teaspoon baking soda; stir into the pureed bananas
1 ½ or 2 smallish very ripe pureed bananas

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour two 5-inch x 3-inch Round Cheesecake Pans with Removable Bottoms , or one 8 x 8-inch square baking pan, or one 9" layer cake pan.

Cream butter, sugar and eggs. Sift flour, then add the salt and baking powder to the flour.
To the creamed butter mixture, add the milk and flour (alternating, beginning and ending with flour).
Add vanilla and mashed bananas (with the baking soda added to the bananas) to this mixture.
Depending upon size of the pans you choose bake layer cakes for 20-35 minutes, or so, until a toothpick inserted into center of cake shows moist crumbs (no wet batter.) I begin watching the cakes at 15 minutes to judge baking time.

Remove pans from oven to cooling racks, allow to cool for 15 minutes then remove cake(s) from pans and continue cooling on racks until completely cool.

Apply frosting or icing as desired. I like to frost this cake with a cream cheese icing.

******

Here is a favorite that goes perfectly with the banana cake:

Creamy Essence of Orange Frosting

This makes enough to completely frost a 5-inch diameter layer cake (very generously) including filling layer.

1/4 stick butter, softened
4 ounce cream cheese, softened
8 ounces powdered (confectioners) sugar; 1/2 of a 16-ounce bag or box
Finely grated zest of an orange (or less if you want a milder orange flavor)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pure orange extract (depending upon how pronounced you want the orange flavor)

Method:

In a medium bowl cream butter and cream cheese together until smooth and fluffy. Blend the confectioners sugar into the creamed mixture 1/3 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add zest and extracts and beat thoroughly, until well combined.
Taste to determine if more orange extract or zest is needed to suit your taste.

******

Toasted Coconut Decoration

One and a half cups shredded or flaked sweetened coconut (I use Baker's Brand, from the bag.)

Preheat oven to 350*(F)

Arrange coconut in a single layer in a large, shallow baking pan. Place in oven and toast, stirring every couple of minutes. The coconut on the edges of the pan will brown first, so every couple of minutes bring the coconut on the edges of the pan to the middle and rearrange to toast evenly. Watch carefully (don't walk away) as this will turn from lightly golden to burned in a matter of moments. Remove from oven when it is just golden and allow to cool in the pan. As the coconut cools it will become delectibly crisp.

Sprinkle over entire cake, pressing in gently or just decorate the sides as I usually do.

I hope you enjoy!



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Monday, November 30, 2009

Tapas ~ Potato Aioli and Potato Bravas

Potato Aioli and Potato Bravas
(Patatas Aioli and Patatas Bravas)
As shared from the Kitchen of Once Upon a Plate
Serves 4

These are two styles of delicious little Spanish potato tapas (appetizers/snacks) that take only a few minutes from start to serving time. You can serve one or the other, but I always serve the two together as the creamy Aioli compliments the spicy Bravas sauce perfectly.

4 to 5 potatoes, peeled
Olive Oil
Salt
Sauces (directions follow)


Peel the potatoes then cut them into bite-size cubes. The easiest way is to cut each peeled potato into quarters (lengthwise) into four long pieces. Then cut each of those lengths crosswise ~ 3 to 4 pieces each, cutting crosswise. (The pieces should be bite-size and large enough to be picked up with a toothpick.) Sprinkle with salt.

Pour olive oil in a large, deep frying pan, one with a heavy bottom (Cast iron is my choice, but a heavy Dutch or French oven also work.) Heat the oil on medium high until hot. It is important to heat the oil so one potato cube immediately sizzles and fries when placed in the oil. (If the oil is not hot enough the potatoes will absorb too much oil.) When oil is hot enough add potatoes in a single layer with a little space between each cube. Allow to brown lightly on one side then turn potatoes with a spatula and shake pan so the potatoes have a chance to cook on each side; turn and rotate as necessary until evenly golden brown on all sides; this takes about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the potatoes from the pan to drain.

To make the quickie Aioli Sauce:

1/2 cup good quality Mayonnaise (Hellmann's or Best Foods)
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 to 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice


Stir all ingredients together until sauce is smooth and silky.

To make the Bravas Sauce:

4 ounces (1/2 cup) tomato sauce (from the can)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard (I prefer Dijon in this recipe)
1 to 2 teaspoons Smoked Spanish Paprika, or Sweet Spanish Paprika
Tabasco sauce
Salt to taste

In a small 8-inch frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Carefully add 1/2 cup canned tomato sauce to the pan, stir and cook the tomato sauce for about 5 minutes. Reduce heat, add the mustard, stir to blend thoroughly. Add the Tabasco and paprika, and mix well and cook for a minute to bring out the flavors. Add salt to taste. If desired add more Tabasco if you like it spicier.

To Serve:

Divide the potatoes between two cazuelas* or shallow bowls. Pour the Aioli Sauce over one dish of potatoes, and the Brava Sauce over the other. Serve hot with toothpicks to spear the potato chunks.

* Are you familiar with the traditional cooking vessels known as Cazuelas ? (If not, you can click the link to learn more.) They are useful for cooking and serving ~ they are inexpensive enough to have an entire collection, too. I use them very frequently for all kinds of dishes.




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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Focaccia with Caramelized Onions, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Cracked Black Pepper and Thyme


Focaccia with Caramelized Onions, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Cracked Black Pepper and Thyme
As shared by the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate

Makes one 9 x 12-inch (or a thicker 8 x 10-inch) focaccia
Recipe can easily be doubled

Ingredients:

1 1/2 teaspoons rapid-rising dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 to 2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/8 cup olive oil
Cornmeal, for dusting

Toppings:

Extra-virgin olive oil
2 thick slices of applewood (or other flavorful) bacon, cut into 1/4-inch strips across the streaky grain of the strips.
1 medium yellow (or brown) onion, peeled and cut 1/4-inch slices into rings.
pinch of salt, pinch of sugar
Leaves of thyme, off the stem, plus additional for final garnish after baking
A few generous very coarsely ground pinches of black pepper, or cracked black pepper if your mill does not adjust to a coarse grind.

Additional coarse salt for sprinkling

Method:

Heat a pan over medium heat, add 1 scant Tablespoon olive oil. Add bacon pieces to pan and fry until crisp-tender (don't over cook as it will brown further in the oven.) Remove bacon and set aside to cool. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of fat from pan, lower heat to medium-low. Add onion slices to pan, stir to coat evenly in the oil. Sprinkle a pinch of granulated sugar, and a pinch of coarse salt over the onions. Allow to slowly caramelize, stirring occasionally. This will take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes, depending upon how thick the onion slices. If onions begin to brown too quickly, lower heat and add a teaspoon or two of liquid to the pan (water, broth, or wine.) When the onions are deeply caramelized and tender remove from pan and set aside to cool.

Prepare dough in bread machine (choose 'dough' cycle), or in food processor. I make mine in my stand mixer:

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with paddle, combine yeast with the warm water and sugar. Stir gently to dissolve. Let stand 3 minutes until foam appears. Turn mixer on low and slowly add 1 cup of the flour to the bowl. Switch to dough hook and add remaining flour. Dissolve salt in 1 tablespoons of water and add it to the mixture. Pour in 1/8 cup olive oil. When the dough starts to come together, increase the speed to medium. Periodically scrape the dough off the hook. Mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, adding a little flour as necessary.

Remove dough to a lightly floured work surface and fold over itself a few times. Shape the dough into a round and place in an oiled bowl, turn to coat the entire ball with oil (to prevent a tough skin from forming.) Cover with cling film or a damp towel and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Brush or rub a sheet pan with a little olive oil and sprinkle lightly with corn meal. When the dough has doubled turn out onto work surface. Shape and stretch the dough out to an oblong shape about 1/2-inch thick or so. Place the flattened dough on the pan and cover loosely with cling film. Let rest for 15 minutes. While dough is resting, position oven rack to lowest (bottom) position, preheat oven to 425* (F).

After 15 to 20 minutes uncover the dough and dimple with your fingertips all over. Brush the surface with more olive oil and then arrange caramelized onion slices evenly over the dough, followed by the bacon pieces, then sprinkle with cracked black peppercorns, thyme leaves and salt. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. After removing from oven I allow the focaccia to cool a bit, then sprinkle a few additonal thyme leaves over all.

Delicious warm or at room temperature with your favorite beverage. Enjoy!




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Friday, November 27, 2009

Pacific Coast Seafood Chowder



Pacific Coast Seafood Chowder
~From the Kitchen of Once Upon a Plate
8 to 12 servings, depending upon portion size
Ingredients:

6 Tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 or 2 slices of bacon, diced
1 cup carrots, sliced
1 cup celery, sliced
1 medium onion (about 3-inches in diameter), small dice
1 garlic clove, minced
4 cups (about 2 or 3 medium size) potatoes, peeled, and cut into ½-inch to ¾-inch dice)
¼ to ½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
32 –ounces* chicken broth (homemade, canned, or boxed). May substitute part of chicken broth with bottled clam juice
2 cups milk (or more depending upon how thin you like your chowder)
Seafood:
(Total 1 ½ pound Seafood) ---Choose one or a combination of the following to equal approximately 1 ½ pounds:
- Shrimp, medium size (31 to 40 count per pound) raw, peeled, deveined,
- clam meat or 2- [6 ½ ounce] cans chopped clams with juice,
- diced raw, boneless firm-flesh fish (cod, halibut, snapper, salmon.)

1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon white pepper, ground
½ teaspoon hot sauce, OR a sprinkling of Cayenne powder; optional (more or less, to your liking)

Note: I don’t season with salt until the end of cooking time as the bacon, butter, chicken & clam broth add salt to the dish.

Method:
In a small bowl with a fork mix the butter and flour until thick paste forms; thoroughly blended and smooth. Set aside. (This is Beurre Manié, the classic French sauce thickener.)

• In a large pot or Dutch/French oven heat oil over medium heat and brown bacon until just crisp.
• With a slotted spoon remove crisped bacon and set aside.
• Remove all but 1 ½ Tablespoons oil/bacon fat from the pot.
• Add diced onions, celery and carrots to pot and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Don’t allow them to brown, just begin to soften.
• Next add minced garlic and diced potatoes to the pot; stir for a minute or two.
• Add bay leaf and thyme, then chicken broth (clam juice if using)
• Bring to a simmer and cook until potatoes and carrots are just tender.
• Stir in milk until mixture reaches a simmer.
• Stir in Beurre Manie, 1 tablespoonful at a time, stirring all the while, allowing each addition to dissolve and thicken the liquid before adding the next tablespoonful. Reduce heat slightly, if necessary so mixture does not scorch.
• Add seafood and reserved bacon; simmer gently until the shrimp and fish are just cooked through. This will only take a couple of minutes. Do not overcook.
• Taste for seasonings and adjust chowder to your taste.

If chowder is thicker than you like add additional broth or milk and heat through until hot. Ladle into bowls or mugs and garnish with fresh minced parsley or fresh thyme leaves. Serve hot.


** For this recipe I use 32-ounces of chicken broth, and keep one- 14.5 ounce can nearby to add more broth as needed.

Enjoy!


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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Red Grape, Walnut, Rosemary and Pink Peppercorn Focaccia


Red Grape, Walnut, Rosemary and Pink Peppercorn Focaccia
(Tuscan Schiacciata Coll’uva)
As shared by the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate
Makes one 9 x 12-inch (or a thicker 8 x 10-inch) focaccia
Recipe can easily be doubled

Ingredients:

1 1/2 teaspoons rapid-rising dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 to 2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/8 cup olive oil
Cornmeal, for dusting

Toppings:

Extra-virgin olive oil
15 to 20 red or green grapes, roasted
1/2 cup broken walnuts, (a little more if you like), toasted
A tablespoon or 2 granulated sugar
A few pinches of kosher salt
A few small sprigs of rosemary, off the stem
A few pink peppercorns, crushed between your fingers as you sprinkle them on the dough
Optional: A teaspoon or two of fennel seeds

Method:

Line a small, shallow baking pan with parchment or foil. Scatter grapes evenly over the prepared pan, drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat the grapes evenly, sprinkle very lightly with a little granulated sugar (1 or 2 teaspoons.) Roast in a hot 400* (F) oven for 10 to 20 minutes (depending upon the side of the grapes), until skins begin to shrivel and give up some of their juices. Stir once or twice to distribute evenly during roasting time. Remove from oven, set aside to cool.

Roast walnuts, set aside to cool.

Prepare dough in bread machine (choose 'dough' cycle), or in food processor. I make mine in my stand mixer:

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with paddle, combine yeast with the warm water and sugar. Stir gently to dissolve. Let stand 3 minutes until foam appears. Turn mixer on low and slowly add 1 cup of the flour to the bowl. Switch to dough hook and add remaining flour. Dissolve salt in 1 tablespoons of water and add it to the mixture. Pour in 1/8 cup olive oil. When the dough starts to come together, increase the speed to medium. Periodically scrape the dough off the hook. Mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, adding a little flour as necessary.

Remove dough to a lightly floured work surface and fold over itself a few times. Shape the dough into a round and place in an oiled bowl, turn to coat the entire ball with oil (to prevent a tough skin from forming.) Cover with cling film or a damp towel and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Brush or rub a sheet pan with a little olive oil and sprinkle lightly with corn meal. When the dough has doubled turn out onto work surface. Shape and stretch the dough out to an oblong shape about 1/2-inch thick or so. Place the flattened dough on the pan and cover loosely with cling film. Let rest for 15 minutes. While dough is resting, position oven rack to lowest (bottom) position, preheat oven to 425* (F).

After 15 to 20 minutes uncover the dough and dimple with your fingertips all over. Brush the surface with more olive oil and then press grapes evenly into the dough, followed by walnuts, then sprinkle with pink peppercorns, rosemary and salt. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. I sprinkle a few additonal rosemary needles over after removing from oven.

It is wonderful warm or at room temperature with a fruity Chianti, or your favorite beverage. Enjoy!


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Friday, November 20, 2009

Spicy & Sweet Curry Glazed Chicken or Pork



Chicken With Curry Glaze, Grilled or Roasted
4 servings
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate

4 chicken breast halves, each half-breast cut into 2 pieces if desired. (Bone-in, Skin-on is best for this recipe)
OR substitute 1 whole chicken ~ cut up, or chicken wings *
salt and pepper for seasoning chicken before cooking

Basting ingredients:
Note: If you want additional sauce for dipping ~ mix double amount of ingredients, then divide in half ~ heat one half in a small pot until warmed through and well blended. Use remaining sauce for basting. Discard any leftover basting sauce when finished. Keep sauces separated to avoid cross-contamination.
1/2 cup blue agave syrup, or mild honey
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup butter (melted), or vegetable (I recently have begun using only 2 tablespoons veg. oil in this recipe)
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion, shallots, or several springles onion powder
scant tablesppon water
garlic ~ 1 or 2 cloves, minced
1 tablespoon curry powder (I like Madras Brand)
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon (or more to taste) red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely grated (or 1/4 teaspoon dry ginger)

Prepare a grill if grilling, or if roasting preheat oven to 500* (F) and line a shallow baking pan with foil for easy clean-up.

Salt and pepper chicken and set aside.

Mix basting ingredients (all ingredients except chicken)

(Note~ since this basting sauce contains sugar, grill or roast chicken until nearly done, basting ONLY during the last couple of minutes of cooking or the sauce will burn before chicken is cooked through.)

Grill meat (or roast in hot oven) until nearly done. Start roasting with bone-side down for about 10 minutes or so, then turn so skin side is down, roast for another 10 minutes. Just before turning again, brush bone-side generously with curry baste, then turn so bone side is down. Continue roasting, during last few minutes of oven time brush or spoon additional marinade on skin side and continue baking until a deep caramel color is reached, but not burned. (Watch carefully.)

Remove chicken pieces to a platter, tent with foil and allow to rest for a few minutes before serving.

* This is a terrific baste for pork chops or pork tenderloin as well.

I hope you enjoy!

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

No Cook Pizza Sauce


No Cook Pizza Sauce
Recipe from Thibeault's Table

I doubt you'll go back to store-bought pizza sauce once you try this no-cook pizza sauce created and shared by my friend Ann on her blog Thibeault's Table.

This is a recipe Ann devised after experimenting with several versions over the years. It is fabulous, and you can adjust the amount and ratio of herbs and seasonings according to your own preferences. It's my go-to pizza sauce.


1 -28 ounce can quality Italian Tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
fennel seed
oregano
Basil
2 to 3 Tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

Puree tomatoes with the minced garlic. Grind the fennel seeds. Add the seeds and the oregano, basil, and the olive oil and mix together.

Ann notes that she uses a stick blender and blends all of these ingredients right in the can.

If you try Ann's recipe, I hope you like it as much as I do.


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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Asian-style Mini Pork or Chicken Burgers with Cilantro Sweet Chili Slaw

Spicy Asian Style Mini-Burgers with Sweet Chili Slaw
Makes eight 2-ounce (mini-burgers) or four 4-ounce burgers
from the Kitchen of Once Upon a Plate

Important: At least an hour before planning to cook them make patties as directed and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, up to 8 hours. *

Ingredients:
1 pound lean ground pork, chicken or turkey
2 tablespoons Panko (dry Japanese bread crumbs)
1 small to medium size Granny Smith apple, peeled (if desired), and very finely diced or coarsely shredded
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger root ~ do not substitute (omit if unavailable)
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 to 2 teaspoons hot chili sauce ( Sriracha or Sambal Oelek ), more if you like spicy
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon grated zest
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
2 to 3 tablespoons cilantro leaves (or flat leaf parsley), finely chopped

Spicy Mayo Spread (Can make ahead, refrigerate):

1/2 cup Best Foods (Hellmann's) mayonnaise, mixed with 1 teaspoon Sriracha or Sambal Oelek Hot Sauce, (add more to taste)

For the Slaw: (Mix together at the last minute while burgers cook as it quickly wilts)

2 cups finely shredded cabbage (lightly packed)
1 tablespoon cilantro leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon scallion (white and green parts), thinly sliced
2 to 3 teaspoons (or to taste) Sweet Chili Sauce

Optional Garnishes:

Additional Cilantro leaves
Chopped Cashews or Peanuts
Drizzles of dark, flavorful Sesame oil
Additional hot sauce, or sweet chili sauce

To make the patties:

Important: Refrigerate for at least 1 hour (up to 8 hours) This step is necessary to firm the patties so they hold their shape while cooking (there is no egg to bind them in this recipe)

Place the ground meat of choice in a medium-large mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, mix thoroughly so ingredients are evenly distributed through the meat. Shape into 8 mini burgers, or 4 regular size burgers. Chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

To cook:

Preheat a heavy frying pan (well seasoned cast iron works great) over medium heat until hot. Add about 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Add meat patties to hot oil (don't crowd). Cook for 6 to 7 minutes per side (depending upon how thick the burgers are), turning once, until meat is thoroughly cooked. (Mini burgers cook more quickly) Remove to a plate and allow to rest for 5 minutes; keep warm by tenting loosely with foil

To assemble:

Toast bun halves until golden, spread lower portion of bun surface with a generous amount of spicy mayonnaise, place burger on mayo, top generously with sweet-chili slaw and offer addtional condiments if desired.

*Note: The patties must be made ahead and allowed to chill in the refrigerator to help them hold their shape while cooking.

I serve the burgers on my own homemade sandwich buns, however, they would be wonderful in pita, on whole wheat buns, etc.

Enjoy!



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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Delicious One Hour Sandwich Buns


For years Moomie's Sandwich Bun recipe has been my "go to" favorite, but recently my friend Lori on her blog "All That Splatters" shared this one, I bookmarked to make them. Oh my, they are wonderful and the fact that they can be prepared and baked in about an hour is an added bonus.

The only thing I changed was to use Agave Syrup instead of honey, and I used my Kitchen Aid stand mixer, first with the paddle beater ~ then switched to the dough hook in lieu of hand kneading.

Homemade Hot Dog or Hamburger Buns ~ In About an Hour
As shared by the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate, (With GREAT thanks to Lori!)

1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoons honey (I used a scant tablespoon of Agave Syrup)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 egg, room temperature
4 1/2 cups flour (unbleached, whole wheat, or a mix)
1 package instant yeast (2-1/4 teaspoons)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Heat the milk, water, honey and butter until butter is melted. Check temperature. Depending on the temperature, let cool to 120F. Carefully beat in egg.

Mix 2 cups of the flour, yeast, and salt. Mix into the milk mixture. Stir in the rest of the flour, 1/2 cup at a time. Beat well after each addition.

When the dough pulls together, (it will form a soft ball) turn it out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. This should take about 5 minutes. [See note above; I used my stand mixer, beating with the paddle attachment, then switched to the dough hook to knead. Adding a little more flour while mixing with the dough hook, a little at a time until dough is no longer sticky.]

Divide dough into 12 -16 equal pieces. This will depend on the size you want for the finished bun. Shape into smooth balls, flatten slightly, and place on a silcone mat (such as Silpat) covered baking sheet.

I cover loosely with plastic film and allow to rise for 30 to 35 minutes. When buns have almost doubled bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.*
*If desired, after buns have risen, brush tops with beaten egg for a shiny glaze, you may also add sesame seeds, sauteed minced onions (cooled), coarse salt, etc. to the brushed tops, then bake.

If you are making hotdog buns Lori recommends to roll the dough out into a large rectangle and cut into smaller rectangles. Allow them to rise with sides touching.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Spicy Tuna Pasta with Lemon Zest Dressing


Spicy Tuna Pasta with Lemon Zest Dressing
2 servings

As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate

You can add or remove ingredients according to what you might have on hand; some other additions you might consider ~ olives, capers, marinated artichoke hearts, a different cheese, etc.

Ingredients:
1 cup rigatoni pasta, or other tubular pasta, uncooked
1 tablespoon olive oil
finely grated zest from one lemon (may reduce amount)
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 can Italian tuna in olive oil, drained
a pinch (or more) dried chili flakes
Cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
Cubes of fresh mozzarella (as little or as much as you would like)
Slivers of sweet red (bell) pepper, or roasted peppers from the jar
Fresh basil leaves
Fresh flat leaf parsley leaves
sea salt and cracked black pepper
shaved Parmesan cheese, to serve

Method:

Cook pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water until al dente. (about 10–12 minutes.) Drain, return to the saucepan and keep warm. Heat a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the oil, lemon zest and garlic and cook for 1 minute or until garlic is cooked and lemon zest is crispy. Combine the pasta with the tuna, mozzarella, tomatoes, sweet red pepper, basil, parsley, chili, salt and pepper and toss gently to mix. Drizzle lemon dressing over all. Top with Parmesan.

Recipe is loosely adapted from Donna Hay magazine, issue 37




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Monday, November 9, 2009

Mushroom Tarte Tatin



Mushroom Tatin ~
Shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate
A gem of a recipe, adapted from a recipe by Donna Hay,
in her book No Time To Cook

2 servings
If you follow my blog you know I adore Donna's recipes, and this cookbook in particular because most of the recipes are designed to serve two. But they can be easily doubled, tripled, etc.

This makes an exquisite lunch or dinner when served with a simple green salad, or cut into small wedges it would be very nice served as an appetizer.

I made a couple of adjustments to the recipe, which I've noted below.

Ingredients:

3 1/2 Tablespoons butter

1 leek, trimmed, cleaned and sliced or chopped

4 field mushrooms, thickly sliced (I used 2 large portabellas and a few chanterelles)

3 sprigs thyme

sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

2 sheets store-bought puff pastry dough, thawed

beaten egg, for brushing top

Preheat oven to 355* (F), 180* (C)

Melt 1/2 of the butter in an 8 or 9-inch ovenproof frying pan. Add leek and cook approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Remove leek from pan, set aside. Add other half of butter to pan and saute mushrooms in batches for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. I add a splash of dry (non-sweet) sherry at the end of cooking time. Place thyme in pan and return leek and mushroom on top, arranging as you like.

Cut 2 rounds of pasty dough to fit just inside of the perimeter of pan. Place both (stacked) on top of the mushroom leek mixture. Brush with beaten egg, bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes** or until pastry has risen, is golden and has pulled away from edges of the pan. To serve, place a large plate, or a bread board on top of the tarte and invert, slice into wedges to serve.

**Note: I do not think the two layers of puff pastry are necessary, I would just use one next time and invert carefully.

I hope you enjoy!

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Gratin Dauphinois ~ Scalloped Potatoes



Gratin Dauphinois ~ Scalloped Potatoes
4 small servings *
Recipe can easily be doubled, tripled, etc.

As shared by Once Upon a Plate

Scant 3 tablespoons butter
2 , 3 or 4 whole potatoes, depending on size (May use Russet, Yukon, etc.) *
About 1 cup half & half
OR
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup whole milk
1 clove garlic, smashed
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or fleur de sel
Sprinkles of white pepper
A few gratings of freshly grated nutmeg
about 2 ounces Gruyère, or Jarlsberg, grated
Thyme leaves, minced parsley, or minced chives for garnish

Preheat oven to 375°F

For easy clean-up, line a shallow baking pan (jelly roll pan works great), with foil or parchment.

Butter 4 small ramekins, pour a bit of cream into each dish.

With a mandolin slice the potatoes into thin slices (about 1/16-inch thick). A mandoline does a quick, efficient job.

Arrange a firmly packed layer of of potatoes on bottom of each ramekin.

Place cream in a small pan, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of butter and the smashed clove of garlic, heat until very hot, reduce heat to low and allow to steep to bring out the flavor of the garlic. Stir in the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Swirl the pan to distribute the seasonings, then remove the garlic clove.


Arrange another layer of potatoes in the ramekins, sprinkle a little cheese, and pour hot cream over. Arrange another layer of potatoes on top. Sprinkle a thin layer of Gruyère. (Altogether 2 to 3 layers of potatoes. firmly and evenly packed.)

Pour the rest of the seasoned cream on each dish, until is just comes to the level of the top layer of potatoes. Sprinkle with a thin layer of cheese, top with little dots of butter.

Place ramekins on the prepared baking pan. Bake for about 25 to 40 minutes. Time will depend upon the size and depth of the ramekins. (Check for tenderness with the tip of a knife.) The tops should be beautifully browned.

Sprinkle with suggested garnish and serve immediately.

* Note: The ramekins in these photos are quite small, about 5-inches in diameter; 6 ounce (3/4-cup) capacity.


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Smooth Tomato Soup with Crispy Capers and Oregano


Tomato Soup with Crispy Capers and Oregano
4 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 brown onion, chopped
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons brown sugar
3 cups (750ml) tomato purée
1 cup (250ml) chicken stock
1 tablespoon olive oil, extra
1 tablespoon salted capers, rinsed
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
1 ~ 14 ounce can cannellini (white) beans, drained
shaved or grated parmesan, to serve

Method:
Heat a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add the oil and onion and cook for 2–3 minutes. Stir in the balsamic and sugar and cook for 1 minute, add the tomato and stock, stir and bring to the boil and cook for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, heat a small frying pan over high heat. Add the extra oil, capers and oregano and cook for 1 minute or until the capers and oregano leaves are crispy. Watch carefully, the oregano leaves burn easily. Set aside.

Stir the beans through the soup, ladle into warmed bowls and top with the capers, oregano and parmesan.


Recipe adapted from Donna Hay


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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Fast, Thin and Crispy Crust Pizza


This is the recipe my family always uses when we need a fast pizza dough, it requires virtually no rise-time and bakes up firm and very crisp.
But don't worry if you want to make it ahead, or if you have left over dough, just form into a ball (or balls) and wrap in cling film and store in the refrigerator up to one day, or freeze for longer storage. (See below for directions.)
Fast Pizza Dough
Yields 1 large, 2 medium, or 4 small pizza crusts

Preheat oven t0 500* (F), preferably with a Pizza Stone in place.
Ingredients:
Scant 1 Tablespoon active Quick Rise* dry yeast, or 1 packet
Pinch granulated sugar
3/4 cup very warm (not hot) water
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Optional: may mix in 1 tablespoon olive oil to the dough mixture
Pizza sauce and toppings of your choice
In a small bowl or glass measuring cup dissolve the yeast and sugar in warm water, stir and set aside for 10 minutes. Mixture should begin to bubble and foam at the end of the time (indicating that the yeast is activated & alive.)
In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt, set aside.
Add the liquid yeast mixture (and olive oil if using) to the dry ingredients and stir until well combined.
Flour a work surface and knead dough for a couple of minutes until smooth and elastic.
Shape the dough into 1 large, 2 medium, or 4 small pizzas using whatever method you prefer; rolling pin, stretching or off the board between your two hands, in the air.
If you have a pizza peel, sprinkle lightly with corn meal and build your pizza. If not, lightly grease a flat cookie sheet (or inverted jelly roll pan) and build your pizza.
I brush the formed dough very lightly with olive oil (optional), then pizza sauce (not too generously), cheese then any other other ingredients. Keep toppings rather sparse if you want a really crispy crust.

Bake in hot oven until as crispy as desired. Usually 8 to 12 minutes, but this will vary depending upon pizza stone vs. pan and the toppings you have chosen.
You can also make this in a food processor ~
Mix the water, sugar and yeast as directed in a small container.
Place flour and salt in bowl of processor and pulse a few times to mix. Add the liquid yeast mixture (and olive oil, if using) and pulse until blended; adding more flour until mixture just forms a ball and the dough follows the blade around the bowl. (Additional flour is needed when using food processor method, because you are not hand-kneading on a floured board). To remove from food processor bowl, flour your hands well, form dough into a ball (or balls) and shape as directed.
* I have made this with regular active, dry yeast and instant yeast with very little difference in outcome. For the past couple of years I have been purchasing SAF Instant yeast in bulk exclusively, so that is what I always use.
Notes for making dough ahead, (or for leftover dough):
If dough has been refrigerated, unwrap, and place on a lightly floured surface, cover lightly with a floured cloth or cling film and allow to come to room temperature before forming the dough.
If frozen, loosen cling film (but keep covered so it doesn't dry out and form a 'skin') allow to thaw in refrigerator, then bring to room temperature and form dough.

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Bite-size Beignets with Gruyère, Fennel & Piment d'espelette

These beignets are based on the French dough, pâte á choux. It’s the same dough used for profiteroles or éclairs. A very simple method which produces impressive results.

Beignets may be rolled out and cut then fried, however in this recipe the beignet dough is shaped with a spoon or a scoop, then dropped into hot oil to cook. You can also pipe them onto a baking sheet, brush with an egg wash and bake them.

Rather than the traditional sweet version, this time I added shredded Gruyère cheese, minced fennel bulb which I sweated in a little butter, and toasted fennel seeds to the dough, then fried them and sprinkled with the highly fragrant and spicy Piment d'espelette. Cayenne, or another ground red pepper could be substituted as well.

Please don't allow the length of this recipe to dissuade you from making them ~ they actually go together quite quickly.


I like to form the little balls with a very small food scoop (about 1-inch in diameter). This way the puffs cook quickly and perfectly, the exterior is crispy, crunchy, and the interior is moist and just cooked through. They are best best eaten immediately after cooking, which is a good thing because it is an effort in futility to resist these little morsels, as they drain on paper towels!

However, you can keep them for a short time by placing them on a pan, in a warm (200* F) oven for up to a half an hour.

Bite-size Beignets with Gruyère and Fennel
This recipe is easily doubled or tripled. The recipe as listed makes a generous serving for 3 to 4 people as an appetizer, or accompaniment with soups or salads.

You can blend this dough by hand, but I use an electric hand-held mixer.

Initial prep:


Line a shallow metal pan with paper towels, or brown paper. Set aside.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup water
2 ounces butter (1/4 stick), plus a teaspoon for sweating the minced fennel bulb
1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg
1/3 cup grated Gruyère or other firm cheese
2 to 3 tablespoons minced fresh fennel bulb
1 to 2 teaspoons toasted fennel seeds
Vegetable oil for frying, I use canola oil
Piment d'espelette, Cayenne or other finely ground hot pepper for sprinkling



Method:

Toast fennel seeds in a pan over medium heat for a few moments until they release their fragrance. Remove to a dish and allow to cool.

In the same pan melt the butter and saute the minced fennel bulb. Add a tablespoon of water, stir and allow the fennel to sweat and become tender. Remove to a dish and cool, set aside.

For the dough:

Bring the water, butter and salt to a boil in a small saucepan.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the flour, stirring well until mixture is combined.

Return the pan to medium high heat and stir, or beat with hand held electric beater until batter pulls away from the side of the pan. Continue beating until the dough cools slightly for about a minute.

On low speed, add 1/3 of the beaten egg. After each portion of egg is added continue to beat until the egg is incorporated. (You can also beat by hand.)

Add the grated cheese and cooled fennel and fennel seeds. Beat well to combine and distribute additional ingredients evenly.

Either heat oil in an electric fryer, or heat oil in a deep heavy pot, stove top (only fill pot half full with oil). Heat oil to 365 to 370* (F) using a frying thermometer.
Drop scant teaspoon size portions of dough/batter into the hot oil very carefully. Only cook about 6 at a time or the oil will not retain temperature and beignets will be heavy and oily.

The dough will drop to the bottom of the pan then immediately rise and float during cooking. Turn occasionally with a slotted spoon, chopstick or wire ladle.

When the beignets are golden brown and puffed, remove from oil and place on paper towels to drain. Sprinkle sparingly with Piment d'espelette or other finely ground hot pepper powder if desired.
Best eaten immediately, so serve right away, but be careful. The interiors will be VERY hot.

If not eaten right after cooking, place in preheated 200* (F) oven, in a single layer and not touching each other, for up to a half an hour.

Serve on a plate, in paper cones, or in a pretty napkin-lined basket.

Beware, these are irresistible ~ I hope you enjoy!





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