Thursday, February 26, 2009

ladyfingers, not tiramisu

the making of real italian tiramisu entails whipping egg yolks with sugar until its thick and creamy and then incorporating it into the mascarpone (did you know that mascarpone is a triple cream cheese made from crème fraîche? YUM!) although i was thinking of preparing it this way because i'm certain it would produce the most delicious tiramisu, i got nervous not only about making it with, but serving raw eggs. so i decided to make a creamy filling sans yolks. the result? decent but it's not the same as a true rich and creamy italian tiramisu. i regret not going with my initial instinct of going w/ a yolk base. next time, i'll definitely do it. salmonella or not.

one thing i don't regret is making my own ladyfingers. yup, i made my own ladyfingers!

i went to 2 trader joe's and a whole foods and no one had ladyfingers!! SO, i had to resort to making my own. i was real annoyed with having to but now i'm really happy that i did. it's my favorite part of the just decent tiramisu. i'll definitely always make my own from now on.

i was going to post the recipe for the tiramisu but am deciding not to. i just don't love it. plus, it's pretty simple. mascarpone mixed with sugar and whipped cream, layered with espresso dipped ladyfingers. once i make the perfect tiramisu recipe, i will post it. but for now, here's the recipe for the ladyfingers.

mise en place

makes approx. 36
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, yolks and whites separated
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

you will need 2 baking sheets buttered & floured OR lined w/ parchment paper and a piping bag w/ a circle tip.

preheat oven to 300 degrees.

in a small bowl, combine the flour and salt and mix well.

in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, whip the egg whites with 2 tablespoons of the sugar until still peaks form.

in a large bowl, add the yolks and mix. add the remaining sugar and whisk until it becomes thick and pale. you can do this w/ the electric mixer. i did it by hand. note: once you add the sugar to the yolks, start whisking it immediately. it is important to mix the egg yolks before adding the sugar and do not let the sugar sit on the yolks. this will burn them and won't work as intended for baking.

sprinkle the flour over the yolk mixture. add a big dollop of whipped egg whites and fold until well incorporated. add the remaining whites and fold in. note: once you add the the rest of the whites you will need to work quickly to fold in as well as to bag and pipe. this is a batter that need to be used immediately. the longer it takes to get to the oven, the worse.

put the batter in the pastry bag and pipe out into 4" logs, 1" in between each as they expand while baking. bake for 20 mins or until the ladyfingers have take on some color and are golden brown. cool on a wire rack.

bon appétit~!

Monday, February 23, 2009

coq au vin

this classic french dish reminds me of my days in paris! you can find coq au vin (chicken w/ wine) at almost any restaurant in france. i know recipes like this can be daunting but having your mise en place ready and just following the recipe step by step is all it takes and you end up with a fabulous french bistro quality, home cooked meal! because of the many steps of this recipe, i've tried to include as many pics as possible. so i urge you to try it at home!

mise en place
coq au vin
serves 6
6 chicken thighs w/ legs attached (w/ skin & bones)
6 slices thick bacon
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion
1 carrot
2 stalks celery
1 head of garlic
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups red wine
2 cups chicken stock, preferably low sodium
3-4 sprigs thyme
5-6 sprigs italian flat leaf parsley
1 recipe champignons au beurre (recipe below)
1 recipe sautéed pearl onions (recipe below)
fleur de sel & freshly cracked pepper

liberally season the chicken with fleur de sel & freshly cracked pepper. set aside.
dice the onion, carrot and celery. peel and smash all the garlic cloves. set aside.

slice bacon into 1/2 inch slices. in a large dutch oven, melt the butter. when the butter starts to foam, add the bacon and sautée until crispy. with a slotted spoon transfer the bacon to a plate lined w/ paper towel and set aside. reserve some of the rendered bacon fat in a small bowl and set aside. in the same pan, working in batches, brown the chicken thighs & legs. start with the skin side down and cook about 6-8 minutes until the skin is brown and crispy. flip and cook the other side for about 3-4 mins, adding more of the reserved bacon fat if/when necesary. the chicken does not need to be fully cooked at this point, just seared on the outside. when chicken is seared, transfer to a baking sheet or large plate and set aside.

in the same pan, add the diced onion, carrot and celery and sautee until softened. about 5 mins. add all the garlic cloves and sautée another 2 mins. add the tomato paste and mix well. sprinkle in the flour, mix well and cook for another 3 mins.

pour in the wine and bring to a boil. reduce until there is about 1/2 the amount left. add chicken stock and bring to a boil. add the chicken back in along w/ the parsley and thyme, making sure all the chicken is covered. lower the heat to a gentle simmer. simmer for 1 hour uncovered. while the chicken is braising, prepare the mushrooms and pearl onions (recipes below).

after an hour of braising, remove the chicken from the pot and transfer onto a baking sheet and cover to keep warm. drain the stock into a large bowl, pressing down on all the vegetables to release all the juices. add the stock back to the pan. discard the vegetables.

bring the stock back to a boil and reduce to thicken. add the reserved bacon, sautéed mushrooms and pearl onions. simmer until everything is thouroughly heated. about 5 mins. season with salt and pepper to taste. (note: i found that i didn't need to add any salt at this point as it was very tasty)
put the chicken under the broiler, skin side up, until it becomes dark and crispy. about 5-10 mins., depending on how dark and crispy you want it.

plate chicken with mashed potatoes, pour the sauce over it and serve!

champignons au beurre (mushrooms w/ butter)
2 tablespoons butter
8 oz. (1 pkg) crimini mushrooms, halved or quartered, depending on the size
1 green onion, minced
fleur de sel & freshly cracked pepper

in a skillet, over medium high heat, melt the butter. once it starts to foam, add the mushrooms and sautée until they brown lightly. season lightly with salt & pepper. take off heat and add the green onions. mix well and set aside.

sautéed pearl onions

about 25 white pearl onions
3 tablespoons butter

bring a medium pot of water to a boil. add the onions and cook until they become tender, 5 mins. strain and set aside to cool. once cool enough to handle, slice of the root end and you will be able to easily peel off the rest of the skin. peel all the onions.

in a skillet over medium high heat, melt the butter, once the butter begins to foam, add the onions and cover w/ aluminum foil, letting the onions braise in the butter. shake the pan so the onions move around, checking frequently to ensure all sides are evenly browned.

bon appétit~!

mini cakey oreos

i decided to bake up something that would be a play on a classic american cookie, the oreo. creamy vanilla buttercream sandwiched between two cakey, chocolatey cookies...c'est bon!

mise en place

mini cakey oreos

makes approx. 30 cookies
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk (or milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter , room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg

preheat oven to 350 degrees.

in a large bowl, add the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. whisk together until well combined and set aside.

in a small bowl, stir together the buttermilk and vanilla and set aside.

in the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and the brown sugar until creamy and fluffy. about 3 mins. add the egg and beat until well combined. add the flour mixture and buttermilk in batches, starting and ending with the flour. scrape down the bowl several times, ensuring that everything is well combined. mix just until all the ingredients are combined, do not over mix.

using a pastry bag fitted with a large circle tip, pipe out the batter in 1 1/2 inch circles on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving at least 1 inch between each.

dip your finger in water and shake off excess. with your wet finger, gentley press down the top of each cookie.

bake in 350 degree oven for 8-10 mins., until they are puffed. using a metal spatula, transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

vanilla buttercream
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons cream

in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar. start on low speed until combined and then increase speed to medium and beat for approx. 3 mins. add vanilla and cream and beat again. about 1 min more.

match up cookies in like sized pairs. pipe out or spoon buttercream on one side and sandwich with the other.

bon appétit~!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

herbed lemon chicken

herbed lemon chicken w/ fingerling potatoes

8 fingerling potatoes, halved long way
2 tablesppon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of fresh thyme
1 tablespoon of rosemary, chopped
1 table spoon of lemon rind
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
3 chicken breast, thawed if frozen
3 tablespoons of lemon juice, freshly squeezed

heat oven to 400 degrees. place potatoes on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil. place in oven for 15 mins, or until tender.

mix the next six ingredients in a large glass container. rub mixture all over the chicken and place back into the glass container. refrigerate for at least 30 mins to marinate.

heat skillet to medium-high and drizzle olive oil. squeeze lemon juice all over chicken right before cooking. place chicken breast in skillet and allow to cook for 8 minutes on each side or until brown. flip and repeat until chicken breast is cooked. using a knife, poke the thickest part of the chicken, if the juices run clear, its ready to eat.

(tip: place a large lid over the chicken so it won't dry out).

plate chicken on top of roasted finglering potatoes.

bon appétit~!

goat cheese endive salad & roasted asparagus w/ fried egg

citrus vinaigarette
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup orange muscat champagne vinegar (trader joe's)
1 garlic clove, diced
1/2 tablespoon dijon mustard
pinch of sea salt and cracked pepper

put all of the ingredient in a bowl and whisk together. served chilled.

asparagus w/ fried egg
1 bunch of asparagus, washed and ends trimmed
1 egg
1 slice of bacon, chopped
sea salt and cracked pepper for sprinkling

heat oven to 500 degrees. spread asparagus in a single layer on a baking sheet. drizzle with olive oil and roast for 10-15 mins.

in the mean time, heat a skillet to medium-high. drizzle olive oil to the skillet and crack one egg at a time. cook the egg sunny side up, with the yolk still runny and the edges crispy. sprinkle with salt and pepper. in the same skillet, add chopped bacon to one side.

remove the asparagus from the oven and place on a plate. add fried egg on top of the asparagus and top with bacon.

goat cheese endive salad
1 endive
1 small heart of romaine
1/4 cup of citrus vinaigarette
3 tablespoons of goat cheese, crumbled
sprinkle of cracked pepper

chop endive and romaine lettuce and place in a bowl. drizzle with citrus vinaigarette and mix well. plate the salad on a plate and top with crumbled goat cheese. sprinkle with cracked pepper.

bon appétit~!

french toast with blueberry sauce

besides not having to go into work, another great thing about the weekend is BREAKFAST! you actually have to make it and enjoy it.

mise en place
blueberry sauce
1.5 cups of blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup of water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon citrus rind (lemon, orange, grapefruit)

place all of the ingredients in a heavy sauce pan. bring to a boil and simmer for 10 mins. chill before serving

mise en place

french toast
2 eggs
1/4 cup of cream
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
4 slices of day old baguette cut 1 inch thick (i'm also using left over king's hawaiian bread)
2 tablespoons of butter
powdered sugar for dusting

whisk the first four ingredients in a shallow bowl. place the bread slices, into the bowl, allowing the slices to soak up the egg mixture for a few seconds, then turn to coat the other side.

heat a griddle to medium heat and place one tablespoon of butter for each slice of bread. cook each side until golden brown, about 2-3 mins each side.

dust with powdered sugar and serve with blueberry sauce (or maple syrup)

bon appétit~!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

soup du jour: french onion

french onion soup is not only one of my fav soups of all time, its one of the easiest soups to make.

mise en place

french onion soup
1 stick unsalted butter
4 medium onions, sliced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 bottle of red wine
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 quart beef broth, low sodium
4 slices of baguette, (toasted optional)
4 slices of gruyere (or swiss, asiago...use all three, get crazy)

melt the butter in a large pot (dutch oven) over medium heat. add sliced onions, stirring occassionally for about 10 mins. add garlic, fresh thyme springs (whole) and bay leaves in the pot. continue to cook until onions become soft, another 15 mins.

add wine and let simmer. as the onions soak up the wine, the color will turn purple. cook until the wine has evaporated, about 10-15 mins. discard the bay leaves and thyme springs.

turn the heat down to medium-low and dust the onions evenly with all purpose flour. stir thoroughly and make sure the flour has been cooked, about 10 mins. this process thickens the soup's texture.

add beef broth and simmer medium-low for another 10-15 minutes and season with salt and pepper to taste.

when youre ready to eat, pre-heat the broiler to high. laddle the soup in an oven proof bowl. place 2 slices of baguette in each bowl. top with one or two slices of cheese and place directly under the broiler for 3 mins or until the cheese is bubbling and golden.

carefully remove the soup from the oven, it will be HOT! serve with a glass of wine and enjoy on a cold winter night.

bon appétit~!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

spaghetti carbonara

carbonara is one of my favorite pasta dishes. it has bacon. need i say more? the egg makes it creamy, the cheese and bacon give it that tasty, salty bite and the parsley gives it a touch of freshness. and to top it off, it's a breeze to prepare.

mise en place

spaghetti carbonara
serves 2
8 oz. spaghetti
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan, plus 2 tablespoons for garnish
1 egg
1/8 cup olive oil
4-6 slices bacon
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup white wine
fresh flat leaf italian parsley, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon fleur de sel
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

in a large, shallow bowl, whisk together the egg and 1/4 cup parmesan. set aside.

bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. salt the water, add spaghetti and cook until al dente. about 7-9 minutes.

in the meantime, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium high heat for 1 minute. add the bacon and sauté until it starts to brown and becomes crispy on the edges. add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. add the white wine and simmer until reduced by half. you want to have this step done before the pasta is done cooking.

drain pasta (do not rinse!) and immediately add to the bowl with the egg and cheese mixture. toss quickly. it's important to do this quickly so that the heat from the pasta cooks the egg mixture, making a creamy coating, and not curdle.

add the bacon with all of the pan juices, parsley, salt and pepper and toss. top with 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan and a little more parsley and serve.

the portions of this recipe will feed 1 boy & 1 girl perfectly. i think it will also work to feed 3 girls for a light lunch. obviously, you can double, triple the recipe as needed.

bon appétit~!