May 27, 2011

Chocolate Marquise : You're fancy, huh?

When I first read about the Daring Bakers Challenge I was flabbergasted.  There were so many steps! So many places to falter and so many ingredients! I'm not going to lie, it took me several days to wrap my head around this recipe in all its egg glory, but once I did, lord help me I have been covering EVERYTHING in rum caramel sauce. (Don't stand still too long I might cover you in it next!)

Dark Chocolate Marquise with raspberry coulis, vanilla bean meringue, rum caramel and lemon scented spiced almonds

Please go to for the recipe.  The only changes I made was add vanilla beans to the meringue, and rum instead of tequila in the marquise and the caramel.
I served this dish after gumbo and my friends proceeded to make themselves pretty much ill on it.  It was so rich and some of them *might* have eaten two servings.  I wasn't sure what to expect with the marquise but the best way I could describe it is a really rich frozen boozy chocolate pudding. Even after serving double desserts to 6 people and two half people (aka kids) I had a whole pan of the marquise goodness in my freezer and the next week I played around with the leftovers.

This was my take on a rocky road marquise! Toasted Marshmallow, rum caramel, toasted coconut, dark chocolate marquise and peanuts and mini chocolate chips.  SA said the toasted marshmallow was weird but I enjoyed the chewy texture!
Thanks again to Emma and Jenny! This was a fantastic challenge and one I am sure I will keep in the back of my mind when I need a bit fancier of a dessert!
Blog-checking lines: The May 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Emma of CookCraftGrow and Jenny of Purple House Dirt. They chose to challenge everyone to make a Chocolate Marquise. The inspiration for this recipe comes from a dessert they prepared at a restaurant in Seattle.

the marquise massacre!

May 18, 2011

Creamy Chicken

Warning, my language skills kind of fell apart for this post and there is a bit of cussing, so if you don't like that, please read a different post!!!
When I was making this I was formulating what I would say in my blog opener about it.  I thought about telling a heart warming story about how my Grandpa used to make SOS, aka shit on a shingle, when I was a kid, and how this recipe reminded me of SOS, only it was chicken-shit on a shingle (CSOS?) but then all sorts of things started going wrong.  SA decided it was the perfect time to take out the recyclables, our other cat Wall-E attacked the tomatillo plant I got today and then the piece de resistance, our dishwasher started sounding like a dying animal. SHIT SHIT SHIT! It had been such a great day:

the biggest green apples I have ever seen at a local farmers market

beautiful day in the valley!

Now you KNOW I bought some of this!!! How could I not

Our handsome dog, Curry enjoying the sun(We all got sunburns!)
Needless to say I might of lost track of things and the creamy gravy might of separated a bit, the green beans boiled almost all their liquid out and my salad ended up consisting of apples and lettuce and a homemade mandarin orange vinaigrette.  I forgot to put other ingredients in it, even the left over spicy almonds from this month's daring baker's challenge.
All in all though it was still pretty tasty!!!!

forgive the picture of entree+ sides.  SA had already made his plate and so had I so...all of it you get!
 Creamed Chicken adapted from Sherri Bailey
1 Onion chopped
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp Flour
2 Cups diced chicken
2 cups Milk
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
paprika for the dusting
Mashed Potatoes

In a large skillet melt butter and add onions, cooking over medium heat until onions are translucent.  Sprinkle with flour and stir in milk. Allow mixture to thicken slightly and stir in diced chicken, thyme, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until chicken is cooked through(Mine took about 20 minutes.)  Serve over mashed potatoes and sprinkle with paprika for a little extra kick!

May 16, 2011

Grilled Twice Cooked Potatoes

Yesterday we grilled out for one of the first times of the season.  It was heavenly.  It might of only been burgers and SA might have cooked them a little past my desired pinkness but it was wonderful! I wanted a different than normal side and for some reason couldn't get twice baked potatoes out of my head.  I decided to go ahead and make them, but for an added bonus round I finished them off on the grill. Oh good night and good morning.  These bad boys were amazing.  SA took them with him to work today and in his normal strange way said they were even good cold!

twice cooked potatoes (oven+grill)
4 large russet potatoes scrubbed and poked with a fork
1 tbsp butter
2 pieces of bacon cut in 1/4 inch strips and fried till crispy
1/4 cup Colby-jack cheese
Greek yogurt(or sour cream)
salt and pepper

Bake potatoes in oven at 400 until soft and allow to cool slightly. Cut in half and hollow out each side, leaving a bit of potato to hold up the skins(at this stage I also cut off a bit of each end of the potato so the halves would stand by themselves.. In a small bowl combine the potato that you hollow out, butter, salt and pepper and mash with a fork, until butter is melted and smooth.  Stuff butter and potato mixture back into potato halves and sprinkle the top with cheese. Place gently on a medium high grill and cook until the outside is charred to your liking and the cheese is melted.  Top with a dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream, bacon bits and a sprinkling of paprika.  Chives would of also been wonderful on these but I didn't think to go raid my plant!

May 15, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake Bars

This weekend I bought my first SURE sign of summer, fresh organic strawberries! While it is still a little early for local fruit, these tasted amazing and I couldnt wait to try this recipe I had been eyeing...and of course change it. Ultimatley I added a bit more cream, changed it to bars and drizzed the whole bad mama with some white chocolate.  I think if I would of left the recipe alone it would of made a great breakfast bar.

Strawberry Shortcake Bars
modified from Martha Stewart
2 cups strawberries, hulled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter grated
2/3 cup heavy cream + 2 Tablespoons

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine strawberries, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining 7 tablespoons granulated sugar in a large bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter, or rub in with your fingers, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cream until dough starts to come together, then stir in strawberry mixture.
Press into a greased 9x11 square pan and bake 35-40 minutes.  (Mine took 35ish). Drizzle with melted white chocolate and pink sugar.

May 13, 2011

File Gumbo--May Daring Cooks Challenge

For this months Daring cooks challenge we were challenged to make a gumbo that included a roux.  This wasn't my first time making gumbo and I'm sure it wont be my last.  While this recipe turned out really good and everyone seemed to like it, I still don't love gumbo.  It was my first time to use file powder and even my first time to use okra and that was exciting, but I think its the flavor combinations that I cant be down with. 

Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo

Minimally adapted from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh
Serves 10-12
1 cup rendered chicken fat, duck fat, or canola oil
1 cup flour
2 large onions, diced
1 chicken cut into 10 pieces
2 tablespoons Basic Creole Spices or store-bought Creole spice blend
2 pounds spicy smoked sausage, sliced ½ inch thick
2 stalks celery, diced
2 green bell peppers seeded and diced
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 quarts Basic Chicken Stock
bay leaves
6 ounces andouille sausage, chopped
2 cups sliced fresh okra, ½ -inch  thick slices (or frozen, if fresh is not available)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Filé powder, to taste
Tabasco, to taste
4-6 cups cooked Basic Louisiana White Rice

In a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed pan, heat the chicken fat, duck fat, or canola oil over high heat. Whisk the flour into the hot oil – it will start to sizzle. Reduce the heat to moderate, and continue whisking until the roux becomes deep brown in color, about 15 minutes Add the onions. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir the onions into the roux. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue stirring until the roux becomes a glossy dark brown, about 10 minutes.

 Add the chicken to the pot; raise the heat to moderate, and cook, turning the pieces until slightly browned, about 10 minutes.Add the sliced smoked sausage and stir for about a minute.  Add the celery, bell peppers, tomato, and garlic, and continue stirring for about 3 minutes.  Add the thyme, chicken stock, and bay leaves. Bring the gumbo to a boil, stirring occasionally.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, skimming off the fat from the surface of the gumbo every so often.
Add the chopped andouille, okra, and Worcestershire. Season with salt and pepper, several dashes of filé powder, and Tabasco, all to taste.
Simmer for another 45 minutes, continuing to skim the fat from the surface of the gumbo. Remove the bay leaves and serve in bowls over rice. Pass more filé powder at the table if desired.

Blog-checking lines: Our May hostess, Denise, of There’s a Newf in My Soup!, challenged The Daring Cooks to make Gumbo! She provided us with all the recipes we’d need, from creole spices, homemade stock, and Louisiana white rice, to Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo and Seafood Gumbo from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh.

May 8, 2011

Tomatisallad (Cucumber and Tomato Salad)

Summer has become my litany.  I can't want for it.  I can't bear putting on another hoodie.  I am so done with heavy meaty foods.  I want fresh.  I want my CSA to start!!!! I want warm tomatoes fresh from my garden to make this recipe with, Summer, I want you! This recipe is really good.  It will be even better with Summer tomatoes!

modified from Scandinavian Cooking by Beatrice Okakangas
6 medium tomatoes
4 green onions with tops sliced
2 tbsp red or white wine vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp crushed allspice
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
2 tsp salt
1/4 c veg oil
1 8 inch cucumber sliced paper thin
chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Thinly slice tomatoes and arrange on a dish or platter with sides.  Top with cucumber and green onions.  In a small bowl combine sugar, allspice, white pepper, salt and red or white wine vinegar. Slowly pour in oil, mixing with a whisk and then pour over tomatoes, cucumber and green onions.  Refrigerate before serving, and cover in chopped fresh parsley.

May 3, 2011

Lemon Blueberry Poundcake with Lemon Glaze

When life gives you lemons, make lemon blueberry pound cake! I keep seeing lemon blueberry cakes around the blogosphere and I developed a serious craving! I found and modified this recipe but in the end it wasn't exactly what I was looking for. Deliciously crumby and richly butter filled it satisfied my taste craving however, not my texture craving.  I wanted a moist rich heavy pound cake with a deep lemon flavor and studs of blueberries.  I am going to keep trying but know if you try this recipe, you wont be disappointed by the taste.

Lemon Blueberry Pound cake with Lemon Glaze
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour +1Tbsp.
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened at room temperature
11/2 cup sugar +1 Tbsp.
4 eggs
2 teaspoons almond extract
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 6 cup bundt pan with Pam with flour or a similar product. In a medium bowl, combine 11/2 cup flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment cream the butter. Add 11/2 cup of the sugar and mix. With the mixer running at low speed, add the eggs one at a time. Add the almond extract.
Working in alternating batches, and mixing after each addition, add the dry ingredients and 1/4 cup of the lemon juice to the butter mixture. Mix until just smooth.
In a small bowl combine blueberries and remaining sugar and flour and stir until berries are coated.  Gently fold into batter and pour mixture into prepared pan bake until a tester inserted into the center comes out dry and almost clean 50-60 minutes.
For a glaze I took 1/3 cup lemon juice and mixed it with confectioner's sugar till it was a thick glaze and poured it over the cooled cake.

Arugula Ravioli in Creamy Tarragon Sauce with Fresh English Peas and Pancetta

On Sunday I ran into the store for fresh ravioli and spotted some that were Arugula and fresh Parmesan. Oh man I had to buy them.  I took those sweeties home and then was kind of stumped with what kind of sauce to put on them.  Brown Butter and Sage sounded so good, however I wasn't sure that the sage would taste very good with the arugula but then I remembered this recipe that I wanted to try that calls for ham originally, but I thought pancetta would be a nice addition.  Turns out it was!!

Arugula Ravioli in Creamy Tarragon Sauce with Fresh English Peas and Pancetta
slightly adapted from
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Finely Chopped Shallots
1/3 cup dry white wine
4 ounces of pancetta in small cubes
2 Tbsp Tarragon
2 cups heavy cream
1 pound of fresh ravioli (I used Arugula, however I think I would of liked this with cheese ravioli) cooked
1 cup of fresh English peas, shelled
salt and ground pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat and add shallots and saute until softened about three minutes. Add the wine and simmer until almost all the liquid is gone.  Add the pancetta, tarragon and cream and simmer over medium heat until thickened slightly about ten minutes.
Drain the tortellini and transfer to the cream sauce, stir in the peas and cook for one minute. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with Parmesan.

Ole! Stacked Chicken Enchilidas with Fire Roasted Corn deconstructed Guacomole

So who out there is ready for Cinco De Mayo? Apparently this girl!!! This meal was conceived over leftover roasted chicken and a love of the term deconstructed.  Yup, I am just a big old dork, but I love the idea of deconstructed dishes.

natty light! (And I am not talking about Beer!)

Stacked Chicken Enchiladas with deconstructed Fire Roasted Corn-Guacamole
For enchilada sauce go HERE
and simply layer the tortillas with sauce, chopped chicken, cheese, sauce, etc until you have a good stack going (I did three tortillas). Cover top with cheese(I used Monterrey Jack) and bake in the oven @ 350 for 20 minutes uncovered.

Fire Roasted-Corn deconstructed Guacamole
2 Avocados chopped
1/2 onion finely minced
1 jalapeno de-seeded and finely minced
1 tomato chopped
1/2 cup fire roasted corn(<--Trader Joe's makes some bomb fire roasted corn, but you can use regular..or fire roast your own!)
2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp lime
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp Agave Nectar
2 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup Olive Oil

In a medium size bowl combine avocado, onion, jalapeno, tomato and fire-roasted corn and gently mix.  In a small bowl combine chopped cilantro, cumin, lime, garlic powder, honey and balsamic vinegar and mix with a whisk.  Slowly pour in the olive oil, whisking to combine.  Pour vinaigrette over avocado mixture and refrigerate at least an hour before serving.