Friday, September 30, 2011

Baked Macaron/Macaroon Pears

Baked Macaron/Macaroon Pears
As Shared From the Kitchen of Once Upon a Plate by Mari
4 servings

I use a medium size melon-baller tool to neatly extract the seeds/core in a single motion.

4 Red pears (or other pear of your choice), not too ripe, halved & cored
3 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup water
1 cup desiccated coconut*
1/4 cup white sugar
1 large egg white, beaten with a fork until frothy

Preheat oven to 375˚F.  Place the prepared pears cut side up in a shallow baking dish. Brush pears with the melted butter and sprinkle evenly with the brown sugar. Cover and bake for 12 to 25 minutes (my pears were ripe and ready to eat so they only needed to be heated through, if your pears are firm or under ripe, increase the baking time.)
While pears are baking, mix the desiccated coconut, sugar and egg white together in a medium bowl until completely combined and coconut is moistened evenly.
Remove pears from oven and press the macaroon mixture into the core cavity in each pear, distributing evenly.  Return to oven and bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until macaroon is golden.  Serve with pan syrup ~ best served warm.   You can also serve with lightly whipped cream, ice cream, frozen yogurt, or a pour of cream.

* Desiccated (dried, unsweetened) Coconut is best for this recipe.  If your grocery store does not carry it,  you'll find it at your health food store, and some ethnic markets.

Recipe adapted from Donna Hay

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Kung Pao Chicken ~ Helen Chen's

Kung Pao Chicken ~ Helen Chen's
As shared from the Kitchen of Once Upon a Plate (
Serves 3 to 4, or 5 to 6 as part of a multi course meal

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
3 Tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt (I use 1/2 teaspoon)
1 Tablespoon corn starch
1 to 2 teaspoons dry sherry (not cooking sherry)
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
1 to 2 teaspoons sesame seed oil (Asian style)
2 to 4 dried red chilis, seeds removed*
3 Tablespoons canola, or peanut oil
1/2 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns, toasted and ground (omit if not available)
1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced
1 scallion, both green and white parts cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths,
Plus 2 Tablespoons thinly sliced scallions
2 slices unpeeled fresh ginger root, 1 x 1/8 inch each (don't substitute)
1/2 cup unsalted blanched peanuts, toasted or unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
Place the chicken in a bowl. Add 1 Tablespoon of the soy sauce, salt and cornstarch and mix well. Set aside.  In a small bowl, mix the remaining 2 Tablespoons of soy sauce together along with the sherry, sugar, vinegar and sesame seed oil. Set aside.
Pour the cooking oil into a cold wok or stir-fry pan and add chilies. Heat pan over medium-high heat and stir the pepper until they turn dark brown. Add the ground peppercorn, garlic, scallion pieces, and ginger root and stir for a few moments. Stir up the chicken in the bowl to coat evenly with the seasonings, and pour it into the pan ~ Toss and stir quickly.  After stirring for about 1 minute add the soy sauce mixture, peanuts and the thinly sliced scallions.  Turn heat up to high and stir for about 45 seconds until well mixed. Remove the chilies and ginger root if desired. Serve hot.

*You can substitute 1 to 3 teaspoons of crushed red pepper flakes, or 3 fresh Thai chilies for the dried chilies ~ Add at the same time the ground pepper corns, garlic and scallions are added.

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Potato Cakes with Jarlsberg Cheese and Rough Mustard Vinaigrette

Potato Cakes with Jarlsberg Cheese & Rough Mustard Vinaigrette

As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate by Mari

Serves 6 to 8

These warm potato cakes are crispy on the outside with a creamy center. They are so good as a luncheon dish along with a salad, cup of broth based soup, or as a hearty appetizer. The green bean & vinaigrette garnish is optional and If you skip the vinaigrette - green bean garnish they become a fine side dish for any roasted or grilled meat or poultry.

Tip: If using, prepare the green beans and make the vinaigrette first, then set aside (or refrigerate) until you're ready to make the potato cakes.

Potato Cake ingredients:
About 2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes (6 to 8), scrubbed well
1 or 2 scallions, white and green parts finely chopped (or 2 Tablespoons snipped chives)
3/4 cups grated Jarlsberg, Swiss or Emmentaler cheese
2 Tablespoons sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Generous pinch cayenne pepper
1 Tablespoon butter
Oil and butter for frying (1:1 portions)

Optional Vinaigrette and Haricot Vert/Green Bean garnish:
Generous handful of slender green beans
2 Tablespoons grainy whole seed mustard (Dijon-type)
2 to 3 teaspoons mild vinegar (Sherry, Champagne or unseasoned rice vinegar)
1 to 2 Tablespoons good olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

To make the potato cakes:
Preheat oven to 375˚F Using a fork, prick potatoes all over with a fork and bake directly on oven rack for about 1 hour, or until tender when pierced with a fork. You can peel the potatoes if you prefer (peel them while they are still hot). With an electric stand mixer (using paddle attachment) beat on low speed, or you may use a potato masher to break them up well. Add the scallions/chives, cheese, sour cream, salt, black and cayenne pepper, and butter, mix by machine or hand until completely combined. Loosely cover and allow mixture to cool.
To form and cook the cakes: Scoop out 1/2 cup portions and with wet hands shape them into patties about 3/4 to 1-inch thick and about 3 to 3 1/2-inches in diameter. Heat a griddle or large saute pan over medium high heat and spread with out. Non-stick pan works very well for this. Cook until golden brown, turn and cook until the second side is nicely browned. (About 5 to 7 minutes for each side, depending upon how thick the patties are and the temperature of your pan.) It's better to cook them longer and slower in order to heat them though and so they have a chance to gain a nice crisp outside crust.

Optional: Rough Mustard Vinaigrette and blanched green bean garnish.
In a small bowl whisk together the grainy mustard and vinegar. Gradually whisk in 2 to 3 teaspoons of good olive oil. If dressing is too thick add a few dribbles of cold water to attain desired consistency. Add freshly ground black pepper and whisk again. Taste for seasonings and adjust.

For the green beans; tip and tail a large handful of slender, fresh green beans or Haricot Verts, cut beans cross-wise into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces. Bring a medium size (2 to 3 quart) pot of water to a boil, add a teaspoon of salt, carefully drop the green beans into the boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute to blanch. Immediately scoop the beans out and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Drain well.

To assemble: Place potato cakes on plate, sprinkle beans around the perimeter, drizzle beans with the mustard vinaigrette. In order to maintain crispness of potato try to keep the vinaigrette away, allowing each diner to dip potato into the vinaigrette themselves. Shower a sprinkle of snipped chives or sliced scallion over the potatoes and serve while potatoes are still warm.

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Duck (or Chicken) Burgers ~ with Asian Flavors

Duck (or Chicken) Burgers ~ with Asian Flavors
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate by Mari
Recipe yields 8 burgers

Delicious, juicy burgers, something a little out of the ordinary!
Tip: If you cannot find store bought Garlic Chili Sauce, substitute 1/4 teaspoon of dried chili flakes and 1 garlic clove, pressed.
Burger ingredients:
1 1/2 pound Duck Breasts, or Chicken Breasts (about 3 large breasts)
1 1/2 pounds pork shoulder
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 Tablespoons shallots, minced
1 teaspoon Chinese 5-Spice powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Slaw ingredients:
2 Tablespoons lime juice
1 1/2 Tablespoons Asian Fish sauce (or 1 Tablespoon soy sauce)
1 3/4 teaspoons sugar
1/4 (or up to 1 teaspoon) chili garlic sauce (depending upon how spicy you like it)
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1Tablespoon chopped cilantro
4 cups finely shredded red and green cabbage
8 Brioche Buns, or store bought
Mayonnaise, homemade or store bought
To make Burgers:
Cut the duck (or chicken) and pork into 1 1/2-inch cubes. Chill them until they are very cold. Grind the duck/chicken with pork in a meat grinder with a medium grind blade. (Your butcher may do this for you if you place your request in advance.
Place the ground meat in a bowl, add garlic, shallots, 5 Spice Powder and salt. Mix well to combine thoroughly. To test for seasonings make a small patty and cook in a saute pan with a little oil, taste and add more salt if necessary.
Divide the meat evenly into 8 balls (about 1/3 pound each), flatten each into patties 1/2 inch thick and refrigerate until ready to cook.  Note: The patties may be made in advance and frozen (thaw wrapped patties overnight in the refrigerator before cooking.)
To make the dressing and slaw: Whisk together lime juice, fish or soy sauce, sugar and chili sauce in a small bowl.  Allow to sit for a short time, then add the green onions and cilantro. Place the cabbage in a large bowl and toss with the dressing allow to sit for 10 minutes or so before serving. I prefer to make the slaw as the burgers are cooking so it remains crisp and vibrant, however you can be made up to one day in advance.

Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat add a teaspoon or two of neutral cooking oil and swirl around in the hot pan. Cook the burgers for 5 to 6 minutes on each side until cooked through, and crisp on the outside but still pink in the center. Burgers may also be grilled over medium high heat for the same amount of time.
To assemble, slice the brioche buns in half (like a hamburger bun), slightly hollow out each half. Spread 1/2 of the bun with mayonnaise, add the burger patty, top with slaw and finally the other brioche half and serve.

Recipe adapted from Maria H. Sinskey

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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Brioche Buns ~ No special pan needed

Brioche Buns ~ No special pan needed
As shared from Once Upon a Plate by Mari
     Recipe yields 12 buns (approx. 3-inches in diameter)
     These make great breakfast, dinner and sandwich buns !
1 Tablespoon dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
4 large eggs
1/4 cup granulated sugar (I use a scant 1/4 cup sugar)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
Egg wash- 1 large egg beaten with 2 Tablespoons water
Optional: 1/4 cup poppy seeds for sprinkling tops
Method: (I do all the kneading with stand mixer & dough hook)
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper
Dissolve yeast in warm water, then whisk in 1/2 cup of the flour in order to form a loose paste. Allow to rise in a warm place until the batter has risen and fallen (this usually takes about 1 hour.)
Add eggs, sugar, salt and remaining flour to the fallen yeast mixture. Knead the dough until it is smooth. (I use the stand mixer with dough hook inserted.)  Add a little more flour if the dough is too sticky. Add the soft butter and knead until it is fully incorporated and the dough is smooth and elastic. Allow dough to rise in a bowl in a warm place until doubled; 1 to 2 hours. Cover bowl with a damp cloth or plastic wrap.
Preheat oven to 375˚F. Cut dough into 12 equal pieces and roll into balls, place on the prepared sheet pan. Allow to rise until almost doubled. Brush tops of the buns with egg wash (and sprinkle with poppy seeds if desired.)
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until deep golden on the top and golden on the bottom of the buns.

Recipe adapted from Maria Sinskey

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