Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Oeufs en Cocotte avec la Ciboulette et L'oignon Vert

Baked Eggs with Chives and Green Onions

2 Large Eggs
pat of butter
a pinch of salt & pepper
1 tsp heavy cream
1 green onion, sliced
6-7 chives, sliced

Generously butter a small ramekin or other small baking dish and place it in a bain marie. Break both eggs being careful not to break the yolk. Sprinkle with course sea salt and cracked pepper. Gently add the cream. For effect you can pour the cream onto a spoon aroung the yolks so the yolks can still be seen (I did not do this). Add the green onion and chives. For soft cooked yolks bake at 375 for 16 minutes. For fully cooked yolks bake at 425 for 20 minutes.
This did not take long to make, but it was very good. Very good.

Speaking of things French, I have been listening to CDs in the car to learn French and Spanish. I've learned quite a bit of Spanish, but the French is more slow going. I can ask where Saint Jack Street is, and I can ask if you speak French. I can also quote the line of a song from the 70's that has nothing to do with the CDs I'm listening to, but I digress.

I found a great webpage for people who want to learn another language. It is I also like to use which is kind of the same thing as Google Translate. I have looked for a good French text to speech narrator, and I found one that I like called Natural Reader. I just use the free demo on their homepage. I like it because you can adjust the speed of the narrator. There are other free demos online that you don't have to download, but this is the only one that I could find where I could adjust the speed of the speaker.

Au revoir et bon appétit!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Chocolate Berry Pavlova

There is a dessert called Pavlova that I have wanted to make. It is named after a Russian ballerina named Anna Pavlova. It is made of a meringue base that is crispy on the outside, but light and fluffy on the inside.

Whenever I've seen Pavlovas, they've been crazy tall, and now I understand why. The meringue kind of settles, and the flavor is so light, it will get lost in the cream or whatever you decide to fill it with. My Pavlova base was too short. Next time I will double the recipe and make it nice and tall.

If you decide to try making this, I recommend putting the meringue on a Silpat so that you can easily remove it and put it on a serving plate. For the Pavlova I used the egg whites that I had leftover from making the Hollandaise sauce for the Eggs Benedict. I whipped the egg whites together with some sugar and about 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar. I whipped it to high peaks, and then I spread it in a circle, lifting the edges higher than the center. I put it in the oven at 250 deg F for an hour and then I turned the over off and opened the oven door to let the meringue "dry out".

I filled it with whipped cream (heavy whipping cream whipped tight with powdered sugar and vanilla extract), and then I topped it with raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries. With just that, it was pretty as a picture, but I wanted to go over the top a bit. I made a syrup with Amarena cherry juice, marashino cherry juice, and a little bit of strawberry syrup. I dusted on a little bit of grated dark chocolate before I took some pictures. I had a lot of chocolate shavings left, so I dumped it all on and took more pictures. The extra chocolate made a difference in taste, and it was very good. Puddleglum and the boys all liked it a lot, but what's not to like- fresh berries, whipped cream, good chocolate, cherry sauce, and creamy meringue? It's an instant winner. I think it would have been better if I had made more meringue. Visually, I think the presentation would be even better if I made the filling and the meringue different colors so that you can see both layers. So next time I am going to double the meringue recipe and put some color in either the meringue or the cream.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Salmon Eggs Benedict

I love eggs. They are so versatile, and I consider them comfort food. I like them every which way, but my favorite is probably poached; although I've taken a liking to three minute egg cups. When we visited my sister in Austin, she took us to the Original Pancake House where I had their version of Egg's Benedict which is made with a sausage patty instead of ham, and has a mushroom sauce that is so yummy. When I worked at Vargo's, we served traditional Eggs Benedict on their Sunday brunch menu. I wanted to make Eggs Benedict, but I wanted to make something special, so I decided to make Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon.

Everyone makes poaching eggs sound so difficult. It's not. If you have a very fresh egg, it's easier, but even if you don't have fresh eggs, it can still be done. Just add some vinegar to the water- maybe a couple of tablespoons. Bring the water up to a good boil, and then keep it at a gentle, simmering boil. I break my eggs into individual small ramekins, and then a gently drop them in. After I put them in, I set my timer to two minutes. At two minutes I lift them out with a skimmer, and put them on a couple of layers of paper towels.

Hollandaise sauce is also not really that difficult. There are several good recipes online. It's basically three things; egg yolks, lemon juice (or white wine vinegar), and melted butter. Yah. Artery clogging. But you don't put much hollandaise on the eggs, and hopefully some of those omega-3s in the salmon will counteract some of that. Anyway, what I did was I whisked the egg yolks in a bowl set over the pan with boiling water for the eggs (do not let the bowl touch the boiling water or you could scramble the yolks). I did not have lemons, but I put a couple of tablespoons of white wine vinegar in with the yolks. You whisk for quite a while until the yolks look thick and have grown in volume. Then you add an entire stick of melted butter (yowza!). I had already melted it, and I had it sitting next to the stove. You need to have everything ready when you make this sauce. Add your butter and whisk, whisk, whisk. If the sauce gets too thick, then whisk in a tablespoon or two of the boiling water. Season with salt and cayenne. You can taste when it is ready. It tastes really yucky if it isn't ready yet.

I have found that the best way to make asparagus is to microwave them. They stay greener this way, and it is harder to overcook them. Just nuke them with some water. We usually sit them in some water in a glass loaf pan. It varies on how long. If you have large asparagus, and you are making an entire "bunch", it can take several minutes. Today I only made seven, and then were very thin. It took like a minute. I just put some butter on them when I plated everything. If I had the money, I would have wrapped them in Jamón ibérico.

On two halves of some english muffins that I bought at MarketStreet I spread a thick layer of cream cheese (why the heck not?). Then I layered the smoked salmon on top of that. I had that ready and waiting for when the eggs were done. I placed the eggs on top of the salmon, and then spooned on the hollandaise sauce. Over that I sprinkled some basil and paprika. I thought the chives looked nice just layed on top. I wanted to put salmon roe on the very top, but it was freakin' sixteen dollars! I had intended to plate this with some red onion, but just forgot to use it until after I had taken all the pictures. I did sprinkle some on before I started eating, and it was yummy that way. All in all, pretty pleased with this one.

Saturday, February 28, 2009


I decided to make some bread today of the "artisan" variety. A couple of years ago I did a post about the no-knead bread recipe that Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery in Manhatten developed. It makes a nice crusty bread that is airy with lots of holes and not dense. I've taken a liking to kneading bread, though, and I don't think far enough ahead to do the eighteen hour rising thing that you do with the no-knead recipe. So lately I've been using some more traditional recipes with good results.

Over the holidays my sister brought some good bread from Austin with rosemary in it, and it was delicious. She brought some fancy cheese and wine with it, and everything went so well together. We have a bunch of pecans, so I made a couple of loaves with pecans and rosemary. It is really good together. Everyone liked it except Jon. He does not like nuts and apparently does not like rosemary either.

I learned some important lessons today. Do not cut your loaf before the second rise. Cut it just before you put it in the oven. The loaf that I crosscut sort of split open in a big way during the second rise. I had to try and pinch everything back together which made it kind of collapse, so I had to let it rise again a little.

A couple of weeks ago I made homemade french bread, and we used it to make french bread pizza. It was a hit. I did learn some things when I made these loaves. The recipe I used says to let the dough rest for ten minutes before shaping into the loaves. The top surface got a little dry during those ten minutes. I should have rolled this in so the more moist side is on the outside. The way I did it left my loaves with some kind of bread measels. It tasted good, and that's the important thing.

French Bread
5 1/4 cups all purpose flour (we use Gold Medal Better for Bread Flour)
2 packages quick rise yeast
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups warm water

In a small bowl mix the yeast and the warm water (and maybe a little sugar) to make sure the yeast is active. In a large bowl mix 2 cups of flour and the salt. Then add your yeast water using a large wooden spoon to mix it together. Start adding the rest of your flour mixing with the wooden spoon, and then eventually mixing it with your hands. Transfer only a floured surface and knead until a nice dough forms. It takes about 8 to ten minutes to have a nice smooth, elastic dough. If you want to make the pecan rosemary bread, at this point mix/knead in two large handfuls of chopped pecans, a tablespoon or so of honey, and a tablespoon or so of rosemary.

Place dough in a large greased bowl and turn once so all sides get some oil on it. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubles- about an hour.

Dump dough onto a floured surface and gently punch down. Divide dough in half and shape into loaves. Place on a baking pan with a light dusting of cornmeal. Cover with a damp kitchen towel. Put in a warm spot and let rise for about 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 425. Place a pan on the lowest rack (you'll use this pan to create steam).

After 45 minutes or so of rising, remove damp towel and score loaves with a sharp knife. Place baking pan in rack in middle of oven. Pour water into the hot pan on the lowest rack. It will immediately sizzle and steam will begin to form. Immediately close the oven door. You can also use a spritzer to spray the loaves and the sides of the oven to create a humid environment.

After twenty minutes take baking pan out and rotate. Bake for another twenty minutes. If the tops of the loaves start to get too brown at any point, you can cover the tops with aluminum. Let loaves cool on a wire rack. Do not cut loaves while they are hot. Allow to cool and use a good bread knife to cut the loaves. You could also use the no-knead method of baking in a dutch oven or enamel stock pot.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Back Forest Trifle

Kuidaore is one of the best food blogs that I follow. The latest post looks scrumptious, but then again, everything on this blog looks scrumptious.

From the blog post:

"Crème Chocolat is layered with Kirsch whipped cream, preserved wild sour cherries, and boudoir biscuits laced with Kirsch syrup.

The key is to use good quality cherry eau-de-vie, and good quality preserved cherries. Where the latter is concerned, griottes may be the traditional choice - and I may possibly get stoned by Black Forest Cake purists for saying the following - but my personal absolute favourite preserved cherries to use are Amarena Fabbri. As much as I adore the distinctive and signature blue-and-white packaging, what has me completely sold is what lies within the jar - small, plump, succulent amarena (wild sour black cherries) carefully candied in thick amarena syrup."

I'm drooling...

Bananas Foster a Fourth Way

A while back I did a post called Bananas Foster Three Ways. Well, here is a fourth way, and it looks dee-lish-us. Culinary Concoctions by Peabody is... genius.