Monthly Archives: March 2010

Crispy Seltzer Waffles

Crispy Seltzer Waffles

If you are hosting Easter brunch this Sunday and are struggling with the menu, consider these waffles.  It’s true that waffles can be kind of a pain because you need to make them individually and they are best hot off the iron, but these waffles are worth it.  

A Winning Morning Combo - The Beginning of Waffle Batter and a Hot Waffle Iron

 

They are great for two reasons.  First, as far as Belgian waffles go, they are very easy to prepare (one bowl, plus something to melt the butter in), no egg whites to whip separately.  Second, they are absolutely perfectly crispy outside.  It can be difficult to get waffles that are light and fluffy but with a crisp outer shell.  This recipe manages to do both of those things.  Seltzer water provides moisture, lightness, and a crispness that rivals deep frying.  While the original recipe calls for plain seltzer, it would be delicious to use lemon flavored seltzer and toss in some lemon zest.  Then you could top your waffle with a squeeze of lemon juice and powdered sugar.  Or use raspberry seltzer and top with fresh raspberries.  The possibilities are delicious. 

Time to Make the Waffles

 

Crispy Seltzer Waffles 

Adapted from Gourmet Today 

Ingredients: 

2 cups all-purpose flour 

2 tbls sugar 

2 tsp baking powder 

slightly rounded 1/2 tsp salt 

4 tbls (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled 

2 large eggs 

1 3/4 cups (14 fl oz) seltzer or club soda (from a new bottle) 

cooking oil for brushing waffle iron 

To Make: 

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.  Add butter, eggs, and seltzer and whisk until smooth.  Lightly brush a very hot (preheated) Belgian waffle iron with cooking oil.  Pour in enough of the mix so that the batter just barely fills the bottom grid (the amount will vary based upon the size of your waffle iron, we used about 2/3 cup of batter).  Cook according to your manufacturer’s instructions.  You can use a regular waffle iron if that is what you have. 

To Serve: 

Serve warm topped with pure maple syrup or whatever else you desire.  Makes about 6 waffles (this will depend on the size of your waffle iron).

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Filed under Breakfast, Recipes

Rib-Eye Steak with Balsamic Reduction and a Salt-Baked Potato

Rib-eye Steak with a Balsamic Reduction and a Salt-Baked Potato

 

We experienced another rainy day recently here in Northeast.  Desperately looking for something to do with the kids that wasn’t going to cost any money, my lovely, brilliant Wife, said, “Go to the library”.  Okay, I’ll get Thing One some new books  that she’ll be bored with by the time they’re due back.  Upon entering the library, the first thing that I saw was a cookbook. 

Rib-eye Steak Sizzling in the heavy skillet

 

Doh!  Why haven’t I thought about this before?  Tired of the same old cookbooks?  Go to the LIBRARY!  I was able to checkout a copy of Gourmet Today edited by Ruth Reichl.  I opened it and the first recipe in the “Beef, Veal, Pork, and Lamb” chapter was for the very piece of meat that I had thawing in the fridge (and had nothing planned for). 

Salt Crusted Potatoes Ready for the Oven

 

Do you know the phrase, “KISS”?  Keep It Simple Silly.  Simple is good.  Simple is easy.  Simple is, well, simple.  That is exactly what this recipe is.    The steak is simple; cook, flip, cook, remove, add balsamic vinegar and reduce.  Simple right?  The potatoes are simple; coat with egg white, roll in salt, and bake.  Simple right?  The meal itself is simply delicious. 

Balsamic Reduction getting the Butter business

 

Rib-Eye Steak with Balsamic Reduction and a Salt Baked Potato 

Adapted from Gourmet Today 

Ingredients: 

1 bone-in rib-eye steak, about 1 inch thick 

freshly ground black pepper 

Kosher salt 

2 tbls butter 

1 tbls safflower oil (or vegetable oil) 

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar 

To Make: 

Pat steak dry.  Generously sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper both sides of the meat.  Heat a 12″ heavy skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 1 tablespoon of butter and the tablespoon of safflower oil.  Cook the steak for 5 minutes a side and let rest 5 minutes.  With the bone-in steak, 5 minutes a side will produce a nice rare steak.  If you like your steak more done, add a minute or two per side.  

While the steak is resting, pour off the fat from the pan and de-glaze with the balsamic vinegar.  Stir the balsamic vinegar, scraping up the flavor bits on the bottom of the pan, until the volume is reduced by half, about 3-4 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the last tablespoon of butter.  By the time your reduction is ready, the steak will be nicely rested. 

Salt-Baked Potatoes 

Adapted from Gourmet Today 

Ingredients: 

2 russet (baking) potatoes 

1 large egg white, lightly beaten 

1/4 cup Kosher salt 

Put a rack in the middle of  oven and preheat to 425F.  Prick each potato in several places with a fork.  Coat potatoes with egg white, then role in the salt to completely crust.  Put potatoes in a shallow baking pan and bake until tender when pierced with a sharp knife, about 1 hour.  

To Serve: 

Rub off as much salt as desired from the potatoes and serve with the skins on.  Drizzle the balsamic glaze over the steak (and potatoes if you want)… or lick it directly from the bowl.  We promise we won’t tell.  It is that good.  Serves 2 (plus a small child or two).

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Filed under Dinner, Meat, Recipes, Side Dish

Roasted Potato and Garlic Soup

Roasted Potato and Garlic Soup

Do you live in the Northeastern US?  Are you tired of the rain?  Tired of being wet and cold?  There is still enough time to make one last hot soup before the onset of spring.  Lately, we all needed something that would warm us up a bit more.  This soup does just that.  It combines the classic flavors of roasted garlic, roasted potatoes, and cheese in a comfy and tasty soup. 

The Garlic, Onions and Potatoes - Before

 The idea behind the soup was to cross several classic potatoes sides, namely, French Fries, garlic mashed potatoes and a baked potato and serve it up in a soup form.  The essence of the French Fries come from oven roasting the potatoes.  The roasted garlic brings in flavors reminiscent of garlic mashed potatoes.  The baked potato served as our muse for the final garnish toppings.  Feel free to add some bacon here.  It would be delicious.   We, unfortunately, were out.

The Garlic, Onions, and Potatoes - After

 Roasted Potato and Garlic Soup

 Ingredients:

 2 heads of garlic

 2 lbs baking potatoes

 2 medium onions

 3 tbls olive oil

 1 tbls dijon mustard

1 tbls dried oregano

1 tbls water

2 tbls butter

4 cups chicken stock

1 cup milk or half-and-half

2-3 green onions, white and light green parts, chopped for garnish

4 oz colby jack cheese, shredded

2 tablespoon dry vermouth (optional)

salt and peppper to taste

To Make:

First, roast the garlic.  Remove  the cloves from two heads of garlic, but leave the paper-like-peel on the cloves.  Scatter the unpeeled cloves on a baking sheet with a rim.  Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of water and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of salt.  Place in a 375F oven for about 30 minutes.  The cloves are ready when they are tender to the touch.  When cool enough to handle, take off the peels and set the garlic cloves aside.

 Meanwhile, roast the potatoes.  Scrub the potatoes well under running water.  Cut the potatoes into 1″ cubes.  Toss the cubes with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon oregano, salt and pepper to taste.  Arrange the cubes on a baking sheet.  Roast in a 425 oven for 45 minutes, flipping them all between 20 and 25 minutes.

 While the potatoes are roasting, caramelize the onions.  In a 10″ skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter.  Peel and cut the onions in half.  Cut slices from each half.  Add the onions to the melted butter, season with salt and pepper.  Cook low and slow for at least one hour (I let these go almost 3 hours).  If the onions look like they are drying out too much, turn down the heat and add some liquid (a tablespoon or two) to plump up the onions a little bit.  Liquids such as a dry white wine, dry sherry, or dry vermouth bring a nice flavor to onions.  If you’re opposed to alcohol, use some chicken stock or water.

 To Make Soup

 In a stock pot, bring the stock to a simmer, add in the roasted garlic, the caramelized onions and most of the roasted potatoes (reserve about 1 cup of the roasted potatoes).  Return the soup to a simmer and let the ingredients warm through, about 10-20 minutes.  Remove the soup from the heat and use an immersion blender to blend the soup until smooth.  If you don’t have a stick blender, working in the small batches, add to a blender and blend until smooth.  Return the soup to low heat and add the half-and-half, stir and heat through. 

 To Serve:

Ladle the soup into soup bowls.  Garnish each bowl with some of the reserved roasted potatoes, the chopped green onion, and shredded cheese.  

 This soup may seem like a lot of work, but much of it can be made in advance.  The garlic and potatoes can be roasted and the onions can be caramelized and set aside in the fridge.  Simply add them to the stock and heat through.  Serves 4 as a hearty first course.

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Filed under Dinner, Recipes, Soup, Vegetarian

Flourless Almond-Citrus Cake

Flourless Almond-Citrus Cake

I have been on a cake bender lately.  My cakes of choice have been those that have copious amounts of citrus and/or nuts.  There is something about this time of year that begs for tea and a simple, elegant cake.  I started with this one and was totally hooked on the simplicity but depth of flavor provided by toasted walnuts.  Then, I made this one and thought I might pass out from the sheer deliciousness of the bright-tart-sweet-slightly-bitter flavor of whole oranges and lemons.

Almonds ready to grind

My recent cake obsession culminated in this Flourless Citrus-Almond cake.  This cake cuts to the chase and dispenses with flour in favor of blanched almonds finely ground in the food processor.  There is no butter or oil.  Instead, egg yolks provide richness and some fat while whipped egg whites are folded in to create a lovely light texture.  The flavoring is equally as simple, lemon and orange zest and a hint of cinnamon.  The result is a flavorful cake that makes a delicious breakfast treat in place of the usual coffee cake, pairs beautifully with afternoon tea, or can be served to guests as a sophisticated dessert.

Almond, egg yolks, and peel

If you source your ingredients carefully, this cake is gluten-free.  You can serve the cake unadorned with a small scoop of almond ice cream, with some whipped cream, or make a simple citrus glaze to spread over the top.  I served mine with a glaze made from the juice of an orange and a teaspoon of lemon juice.  I mixed the juices with about 8 tbls of powdered sugar, until it reached a spreadable consistency.  I spread it on top of the cooled cake before serving.

Whipped egg whites

The only other modification I might make the next time I make this cake is to cut back on the sugar.  There are only 8 tbls of sugar but the finished cake was pretty sweet.  I think it would be nice to reduce the sugar by a couple of tbls to let the flavor of the citrus and almonds shine through even more.

Ready to bake

Flourless Almond-Citrus Cake

Adapted from Bon Appetit “Tastes of the World” Cookbook*       

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups blanched slivered almonds

8 tbls sugar, divided

4 large eggs, divided

3 tsp packed grated lemon peel

2 tsp packed grated orange peel

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Pinch of salt

To Make:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Butter a 9-inch diameter cake pan with 1 1/2-inch high sides.  Use almond meal to “flour” the cake pan.  If you don’t have almond meal, you can use all-purpose flour (however, the cake will not be gluten-free any more).  Line the bottom of the pan with a circle of parchment or waxed paper.

Place the almonds and 2 tbls of sugar in a food processor and process until the almonds are finely ground (you want the mixture to be the approximate texture of sand).  Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, combine egg yolks, 2 tbls of sugar, orange and lemon peel, cinnamon, and salt.  Beat until thick and smooth, about 2 minutes.  Stir in almond mixture.  Using clean beaters (and a spotlessly clean large bowl) beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.  Gradually add remaining 4 tbls sugar, beating until stiff but not dry.

Fold a large spoonful of the whites into the almond mixture until combined.  Gently fold in remaining whites.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake until a tested inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 35 minutes.  Cool in pan on a wire rack.  Turn out onto platter and remove parchment paper. 

To Serve:

Glaze, top with whipped cream or jam, or serve plain.  Makes about 8 servings.

* This is not the actual Tastes of the World cookbook, this is the small, free version Bon Appetit sends when you get a new subscription

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Filed under Baked goods, Breakfast, Dessert, Recipes

“Juicy Lucy” Burgers

Juicy Lucy Burger

When we are sitting around in the evening, after Thing 1 and 2 have gone to bed, we often find ourselves watching television shows about food.  While daytime food TV is usually about cooking, nighttime seems to be more about competition.  Who can cook the best food under time pressure?  Can that guy really eat 7 lbs of beef in under 2o minutes? 

Assembling the burgers

One evening, while watching Man vs. Food, we saw a yummy looking burger called the Juicy Lucy.  Instead of topping a hamburger with cheese, the Juicy Lucy has a slice of cheese sandwiched between two thin burger patties.  We were intrigued.  Cheeseburgers are generally awesome, but put the cheese inside the burger so when you bite into it, you get a mouthful of molten cheese, sign me up. 

Ready to cook

There isn’t much of a recipe here, more of a technique.  Basically, you take really thin hamburger patties and crimp them together around some cheese.  Cook them however you like and bam, you have a delicious cheesy burger.

Fry 'em up

Juicy Lucy Burgers

Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef

1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce

1 clove garlic, minced

salt and pepper to taste

4 oz colby jack cheese, thinly sliced

To Make:

In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix together the ground beef, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Divide the beef into eight equal portions.  Using your hands, form each portion into a very thin pattie.  Top four of the patties with about one ounce of the thinly sliced cheese.  Place the cheese in the center of the pattie, leaving an edge all around.    Top with the remaining four patties.  Using your fingers, tightly crimp the stacked hamburger patties together, sealing the cheese inside.

Cook ’em the way that you like ’em…. grill, broil, pan fry, your choice.  

To Serve:

 Top them with whatever suits your fancy or enjoy them as is.  As far as we are concerned, anything goes when it comes to burgers.  Makes 4, 1/4 lb burgers.

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Potato Parsnip Latkes

Potato Parsnip Latkes

I am always looking for new things to do with parsnips.  Through our various winter CSA’s we always seem to have parsnips hanging around.  They have a nice sweet and slightly sharp flavor that is tasty in many different culinary applications.  As the winter goes on, the parsnips we receive get sweeter and sweeter, probably as a result of the cold forcing them to store all that sugar.

Latke ingredients

We tend to get kind of lazy with our roots and serve them roasted or mashed.  However, after too many sides of roasted parsnips, we went looking for something different.  Parsnips are similar to potatoes in that they are both versatile when it comes to cooking.  Mix the two together and you have a very happy blend. 

The batter

This recipe is pretty simple to put together, just coarsely grate parsnips and potatoes, stir in flour, eggs, herbs, and salt and pepper.  Drop heaping spoonfuls into a pan with a little hot oil and watch the magic happen.  The latkes fry up brown and crisp.  Serve them hot from the skillet with a dollop of sour cream or with a little applesauce.  Or just eat them plain dusted with salt.  A delicious alternative to the traditional parsnip dish.

Potato Parsnip Latkes

Adapted from Epicurious

Ingredients:

1 large all-purpose potato (like a red or a Yukon Gold), 8-10 ounces

1 lb parsnips, peeled and coarsely grated

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 eggs, lightly beaten

3 tbls fresh chives, finely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Vegetable oil for frying

To Make:

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.  You can put your cooked batches of latkes in the oven to keep them warm until they are ready to serve.

Peel the potato and coarsely grate it into a large bowl (if you are concerned about the potatoes browning, toss them with about 1 tbls of lemon juice at this point).   Place the grated potatoes in a large, clean kitchen towel and wring it to remove as much moisture as possible.

Mix the potatoes with the parsnips, flour, eggs, chives, and salt and pepper until well combined. 

Place a 12 inch skillet over medium heat and add enough oil to come about 1/4 inch up the side of the pan.  Heat until the oil is hot but not smoking.   Scoop scant 1/4 cupfuls of the mixture into the skillet and flatten with a spatula.  Be careful not to crowd the pan.  Fry until golden on one side, 1-3 minutes, then flip and cook until the second side is golden, another 1-3 minutes.  Remove to paper towels to drain.  Place on a cookie sheet in the oven to keep warm until the remaining latkes are cooked.

To Serve:

Makes about 16 latkes.  Serves 4-6 as a side dish.  Serve warm topped with sour cream, applesauce, or sprinkled with salt.

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Filed under CSA Talk, Dinner, Eggs, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegetarian

Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara

Alex, I’ll take Bacon for $1,000. 

A:  Bacon is a key component to this traditional Roman spaghetti-based meal. 

Q:  What is Spaghetti Carbonara? 

Tonight's starting lineup

I have this very simple cookbook that my Mother gave me when I moved out of the house.  It’s great really; straight forward recipes, nothing complicated, and basic enough that typically I have all the ingredients that I need on hand.  Also, it’s short and focused enough that I can lazily flip through a section to see what strikes my fancy and then make it for dinner that night.  I came across this Spaghetti Cabonara and it struck my fancy.  I had been saving my CSA bacon for something special and this was it.  The best part is that the whole meal comes together quickly with minimal fuss.  Perfect for a weeknight dinner.

Stirring the eggs while piping hot

Spaghetti Carbonara

Adapted from Clueless In the Kitchen by Evelyn Raab 

Ingredients:

8 oz whole wheat spaghetti 

1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk 

4 oz pecorino cheese, finely shredded 

6 slices bacon 

To Make: 

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil to cook the pasta. 

While the spaghetti is cooking, fry the bacon until crisp in a large skillet.  Remove the bacon and chop up into crumbles.  Set aside.  Drain all but about 2 tbls of the bacon fat from the skillet 

Beat the egg and the egg yolk and grate cheese.  Set aside 

When the spaghetti is fully cooked, drain, do not rinse it, and pour it into the skillet where the bacon was cooked. 

Immediately add in the cooked bacon and pour in the raw beaten eggs with the shredded cheese to the skillet with the piping hot spaghetti.  Stir to even coat the spaghetti.  The hot spaghetti will cook the raw eggs and transform the mixture into a rich and creamy sauce.

To Serve: 

Best eaten right away!  Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with any fresh herbs that suit your fancy.  Serves two as a main course or four as a side dish.

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Filed under CSA Talk, Dinner, Eggs, Meat, Pasta, Recipes