Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My first Daring Bakers Challenge: Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream

My first Daring Bakers Challenge was certainly just that. A recipe more than 4 pages in length and 6 hours in the kitchen. Although the bigger challenge may have been sharing this delicious cake. I did dole out portions to my sister and her husband, my boss, my parents (who conveniently forgot to deliver an extra slice to my brother... a mistake or perhaps more cake for Dad???). The rest was for me and my husband and we certainly enjoyed.

3 layers of a filbert based cake layered with praline buttercream and smothered in rich bittersweet chocolate ganache. Every inch of it from scratch. My kitchen has not looked such a mess in a long time!

Here's the cake fresh out of the oven. It was then sliced into 3 layers each topped with praline buttercream. MMM!

After smothering it with ganache, I let it sit for awhile in the fridge before trying my hand at piping. Try piping buttercream when it's 100 degrees outside. A very challenging endeavor indeed! The final product came out tasty, even if I need to work on my decorating skills.

Not a crumb remains (nor a dollop of buttercream, nor a drip of ganache...)

I eagerly await my next challenge. Come back next month for more pictures and adventures.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Yucatecan Chicken with Roasted Fresh Chile Salsa

A few years ago for Christmas, my sister gave me Rick Bayless's Mexican Everyday. I've tried a number of the slow-cook recipes, but this is the first grilling one. I marinated the chicken in the morning so all I had to do when I got home was grill it, boil some corn on the cob and make some rice.

For the Yucatecan Garlic Spice marinade:
1 head garlic, broken into individual cloves
1/3 c. olive oil
6 Tbsp. cider vinegar
Pinch of ground cloves
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. kosher salt

4 Chicken breast halves, skin and bones intact
1 cup chicken broth

For the salsa:
4 oz. fresh hot green chiles
4 garlic cloves, peeled
juice of 1/2 lime (about 2 Tbsp)
Salt, to taste

Make the marinade:
  • Cut slits in the sides of each garlic clove. Place in a microwaveable bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Cool until you can handle and then slip off the papery husks. Drop them one at a time into a running blender or food processor, letting each get chopped before adding the next. Stop the machine and add the rest of the marinade ingredients and process until smooth.
  • Pour half the marinade over the chicken, rubbing it all over. Cover and marinate for several hours. Refrigerate remaining marinade until ready to cook.

Make the salsa:

  • Preheat broiler.
  • Slice the chiles in half lengthwise, discarding the stems.
  • Arrange in a small baking sheet skin side up and toss the garlic among them.
  • Broil until the skins start to bubble and turn dark.
  • Puree the chiles and garlic in a blender of food processor, adding the lime juice and 1/4 c. water.
  • NOTE: Mine was SO HOT I had to add a roasted green bell pepper and 1/2 tsp sugar and we like hot food. I bought my chiles at the Scotch Plains Farmers Market. Who would have known such hot chiles grew in the Garden State!

Cook the chicken:

  • Heat the grill and grill according to your taste. We did them on high, 5 minutes per side, then turn the heat to medium and cooked another 5 a side.
  • While the chicken is grilling, combine the remaining marinade and chicken broth in a pan and bring to a boil. Simmer for a few minutes and keep warm.
  • Drizzle a spoonful or two of the chicken broth mixture over the cooked chicken.
  • Serve with salsa

Monday, July 28, 2008

Polish fest!

Although I'm mostly Irish, my grandfather on my dad's side was Polish so we always ate Polish food growing up. One of the easiest and most typical Polish dinners is Kielbasa - Serve it with Sauerkraut and fresh pierogi!

In NJ, there are several areas with high Polish populations. If you're looking for great kielbasa, forget the big brands you find in the supermarket. Instead try to find a local Polish deli or meat market. We love Pulaski meats in Linden. We throw it on the grill til it starts to char and then have it with a little brown or yellow mustard.

For the pierogi, I like to use Mom's method - brown a little chopped onion in a pat of butter in a skillet, then add the pierogi and turn them tey get just a little bit golden on the outside.

This week's menu

I'll be adding some recipes this week so check back if something sounds tasty!

  • Sunday
    Vietnamese beef with crispy potatoes
  • Monday
    Polish fest! Kielbasa, sauerkraut, potato cheese pierogi!
  • Tuesday
    A new recipe - Grilled chicken with Yucatecan spices and roasted green chile salsa
  • Wednesday
    Leftover Vietnamese beef - I made lots!
  • Thursday
    Pasta night! Angel hair with shrimp, feta and fresh tomatoes
  • Friday
    Going out or going to Mom's for filet!

Monday, July 14, 2008

What's cookin' this week?

  • Sunday
    Hickory smoked ribs, grilled pattypan squash, dill potatoes with a hint of truffle oil.
  • Monday
    Aloo gosht (A pakistani lamb dish with potatoes) Spicy! I made it on Sunday so we can have a quick and easy supper)
  • Tuesday
    Mediterranean grilled chicken breasts, homemade mushroom risotto
  • Wednesday
    TBD - maybe leftover lamb (if there is any!)
  • Thursday
    Pasta night! Penne with spicy Italian sausage and broccoli rabe (and garlic, of course!)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

MMM Lamb!

Tonight we're having grilled loin lamb chops. This morning, I set them to marinade in our favorite mixture... You can't beat the aroma of fresh-picked rosemary!

2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1 Tbsp dried rosemary, crumbled
1 tsp salt (I used sea salt)
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup EVOO

5 or 6 small loin lamb chops - about 1 inch thick

Mash the first 5 ingredients in a shallow dish with a forsk then stir in the oil. Add the lamb, turning to coat. Cover and refrigerate until you're ready to grill. Then cook on a preheated grill according to your taste.

You might wonder why I used fresh and dry rosemary... The fresh adds great flavor to the meat while it marinates, but it doesn't stand up to the heat of the grill. The dried can withstand the heat a bit mroe so you get the flavor from both!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Killer app

I've been a bit delinquent in my posts this week. On Saturday, I made one of Jeff's favorite appetizers - smoked mozzerella and ricotta fritters! Easy and delicious - top with a little marinara!

1 1/2 cups ricotta
1 1/2 cups shredded smoked mozzarella
1 Tbsp fresh chopped chives (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
3 large eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
Vegetable oil, for frying

In a small bowl combine the ricotta, smoked mozzarella, chives, salt, and pepper. In another bowl pour the panko. In a third bowl lightly beat the eggs. Put the flour in a fourth bowl. Line a tray with parchment paper.
Scoop a 1 1/2 tablespoon ball of the cheese mixture into the flour and roll to coat. Transfer the ball to the eggs and roll to coat. Transfer the cheese ball to the panko and again roll to coat. Transfer the ball to the parchment-lined tray. Continue with the remaining cheese mixture.
Meanwhile heat 3 inches of vegetable oil in a large skillet or deep fryer to 350 degrees F. Fry fritters in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pan, until golden, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to paper towel to drain.
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