Another week has passed and I've barely had time to swing by my feed reader to check in on every one.
I did click on Simply Recipes and saw the Pear, Ginger, Maple pie that Elise had posted from Vanilla Garlic. Hello, crystallized ginger! Maple syrup! Brown sugar! Oh yes please. The maple syrup is the gorgeous dark amber stuff I get from my guy in Maine who makes it in his back shed. It is so deep and complex in flavor.
I'm more of a crumble girl than a pie girl so I just tipped it all into my baking dish, put the crumble topping on right away and baked it at 350F for 50 mins. The smell is intoxicating.
On the counter right now is my Zojirushi rice maker, which I adore(!), cooking up a batch of Basmati for tonight to go with the Tandoor chicken with Butter sauce and then leftover rice for Monday night to make some stir fry rice to go with Sate Turkey Tenderloins. I'm making the marinade right now. It's a well loved recipe that I have been using for years. I just pulled out some peanut sauce from the freezer. I have no idea if it freezes well or not, but I will report back later to advise, fingers crossed cause I'm really not in the mood to make a batch right now.
We picked up some gorgeous green beans at the Farmer's market so husband requested Gujerati Sem to go with the chicken so here is everything prepped and ready to go.
Tandoor chicken marinating and jar of butter sauce ready to go.
The goal tonight is to be eating dinner by 60 minutes instead of approaching 9:00 at night which has been the situation lately. Oven is currently cranked as high as it can go and the chicken is out of the marinade and ready to hit the heat. I put most of the sauce together earlier with the last of the hot chilies from the garden. We ripped everything out this weekend since the frost killed it all. My tomatillos were literally covered with hundreds of empty lanterns. Another couple of weeks and I would have been awash in them. I at least got a small harvest out of them. I have to get more sunlight to that bed next year. All I need to do now is heat the sauce up and add the butter, add the cooked chicken and serve with some limes and ginger chutney. Mmmmmmm.
Hopefully I'll remember to take a picture of the chicken before it hits the table...Have a great week.
It's another weekend of cooking around here as I adjust to life with a 50+ hour work week. What on earth am I doing you ask? Well, I accepted an offer that I just couldn't turn down. Renee and her business partner offered me the opportunity to come on board and run create a cook. Me. The girl who was laid off 4 years ago from over a decade in IT in the financial sector decided to have a midlife career crisis and pursue her first love for feeding people went to culinary school and fell in love with teaching and now, now, I am running a cooking school. Life is a crazy ride people, take what it throws at you and run with it.
What started out as just a cooking school for kids is now rapidly expanding to offer adult classes and adult cooking parties, and soon we may just be building out a third kitchen. It's been a heck of a curve in the last month going from the calm life of planning recipes and teaching a few classes a week to full throttle since September 1st, but I am loving EVERY long CRAZY minute of it.
The hours mean it is a little tough to cook as much as I used to during the week so I have been making the most of the weekends to make life a little easier and get some Bento Box fodder for lunches during the week. On top of the usual roasting of some chicken breasts for husbands lunch, Saturday found us working on the following three dishes...all at once. One can never have too many Le Creuset pots is my mantra.
We made a trip to Captain Marden's to pick up halibut steak for a recipe from Molly Stevens All About Braising. Cut a bunch of leeks (quantity is irrelevant as some leeks have 2 inches of white and some have 6 or 8, in the end, we had about 3 cups of sliced leek) in half inch, half moons and saute quickly in some butter, coating them all over, add a bunch of chopped thyme and 4 - 5 cloves of minced garlic, stir a few times, add about 3/4 of white wine, bring it to a boil and then cover it with some parchment paper and a lid and toss it in a 300F oven. Stir after 20 minutes, back in the oven and then after an additional 20 minutes check that the leeks are nice and soft. Season well with salt and pepper. I held the dish at this point since I had to run to work from 6-7. In the end when I got back home I turned the oven back on, heated the leeks on the stove and then proceeded. Salt and pepper some halibut steak and lay it on top of the bed of leeks, pour in 1/2 a cup of cream and put the parchment back on, no lid this time and place the whole thing back in the oven for oh say, 20 more minutes or until the fish is nicely done and flakes off the bone. Put the fish steaks on a warmed plate, remove the skin and bone and tent to keep them warm. Place the pan with the leeks and cream on the stove and over medium heat, season to taste with salt and pepper and allow the sauce to thicken just a bit. Serve the fish on a bed of the creamy leeks and we had it with a side of fried potato slices that were fresh dug Red Pontiacs from our farmer in Maine at Mt. Nebo orchard.
The apple pie I made on Sunday with the apples from Mt. Nebo orchard. Last weekend Mom and SD picked tons of apples ( we
like Macs and Cortland) and brought them when I went to meet her in New
Hampshire for the closing of Maine for the winter items. Saturday I
made my standard pie crust and it rested all day in the fridge. This
morning I rolled it out and peeled and tossed the apple slices with
dark brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg with some lemon juice. I dumped it all in the pie case and tossed on some dots of unsalted butter and slapped a lid on it.
Husband was just standing over my shoulder while I took the photo above
saying.."Can I eat yet, Can I, Is it done, Please?"
I'm making him wait until after dinner. I'm mean like that.
Also on Saturday we went over to John Dewar in Wellesey and I picked up some flanken cut beef short ribs. A perusal of Molly Stevens All About Braising (have you bought this book yet? Shame on you if you haven't!) had me browning them all over to a nice mahogany colour and removing them to rest. In the same pan, brown some onions and carrots for aromatics. The pan was deglazed with a goodly amount of Porter and then some veal stock (homemade from my pals at Citrio) toss in a few sprigs of rosemary from the garden and a few bay leaves. On went a nice parchment lid and an inverted lid of foil and the Le Creuset lid and this hit the 300F oven for 3 hours. After the 3 hours were up, I let the ribs cool and tossed them in the fridge overnight. Braises taste so much better on day 2 and the rest lets you remove the boatloads of fat that will have solidified on the top of the pan. Tonight we'll warm them back up in the braising liquid and then toss them in a roasting pan. Then they get glazed with maple syrup that has had a rosemary infusion by heating the syrup and steeping a few sprigs of rosemary in it for an hour. This will have a fire under the broiler to make the glaze all sticky and bubbly. I don't know why I never thought of maple syrup and rosemary together before, the taste is amazing and woody and piney with the sweet maple on top. So good. I'll probably mash up some more of those Red Pontiacs tonight as a side.
While the ribs and the leeks were braising in the oven the neighborhood must have smelled pretty strange as I was also making
a giant batch of Pho chicken stock for dinner one night next week. I skinned a whole chicken and cut it into pieces, put them in a pot covered it in water and added an onion and a huge chunk of ginger that I grilled until they were nice and brown. I tossed some smashed garlic, cloves and black peppercorns in a hot skillet and stirred them around until they were fragrant. These all went in a tea steeper and plunged in next to the chicken. 4 peeled shallots, 2 pieces of lemongrass smashed with the back of my knife, some fish sauce and rock sugar went in and the whole thing simmered for around 2 hours. The chicken was all pulled off the bone while the puppy sat directly ON MY FEET willing me to please drop some here. I drained the stock, discarded all the aromatics and put the chicken back in the stock. It's now hanging out in the fridge upstairs. Again, the fat will have risen and solidified so it can be discarded before we have Pho one night next week.
Right now we are photographing a ton of Fiesta pieces and putting them up on ebay for Mom, there might even be a fire later in the kitchen fireplace and a Manhattan before dinner. Life doesn't get much better than that.
I don't think that you need three guesses to figure out what I am making right now with these beauties.
Usually my Mom is Queen blueberry picker. My SD ties her canoe to the zodiac and tows her down to one of the island and she spends several hours paddling around the perimeter of the island picking the berries that overhang the lake into a giant coffee can. She did have 7 or 8 cups in the freezer for his pie when he comes up this weekend, but since I arrived in a deluge of water, I bought these raked low bush blueberries at a local farm stand. It took about 30 minutes to clean out all the bits of stem and leaves and mushed berries, but now they look gorgeous, not too mention my lovely blue fingertips.
I am back home now with tales to tell of a fabulous farmer's market in downtown Waterville ME, a case of my favourite wine from Riverside Cafe in Winslow ME and a fabulous new butcher shop in Topsham ME. Right now though I am waiting for the smells in the oven to waft my way, cocktails will be made after a shower and I'll start dinner in awhile. I love Saturday nights in the summer don't you?
He: Halibut steak dredged in seasoned flour, quick fried on each side for colour and finished in the oven with mushy peas, there is no accounting for taste - I tried to tempt him with corn on the cob or cucumber salad or something summery....nuh uh, Brit through and through that one. Can opener please!
She: That scallop salad again with the fresh dug fingerlings I picked up at the farmer's market and diver scallops from Captain Marden's.
By now, you all should realise that I am forever, and ever on the hunt for new recipes, good recipes, recipes that work. Not every cookbook can be opened and the recipe executed perfectly. There are some cookbook writers that I have come to inherently trust, Hi Ina(!), and others whose recipes must be tested before executing them with 30 or 40 unsuspecting pre-teens - yea, I'm looking at you Nigella, mistress of flung together recipes.
A nicely designed and very nicely written cookbook with very easy to follow recipes, this new book contains recipes by Melissa Murphy the owner of Sweet Melissa Pâtisseries in Brooklyn.
I flicked through all of the recipes and considered my limitations of number of burners, number of students, nut allergies, oven space, time, difficulty of execution, and chose her recipe for Chocolate Orange Macaroons.
I had one of our resident pastry chefs B test out the recipe and she gave it a hearty approval so we put it on the curriculum for this past week and I can assure you that it was a huge hit.
Rather than having the kids chopping the chocolate off of the Callebaut that we get in 11-pound blocks we used a high quality chocolate chip made by Callebaut that we get from our supplier, if I were to make these at home I would definitely choose a really good high quality chocolate. A recipe with so few ingredients relies upon each of them being of high quality. Also, don't try to sub out the dessicated coconut that you find in Whole Foods for the sweetened coconut called for here it will not work in this recipe. You need the sticky, moist, sweetened coconut to make this work. Macaroons by their very nature are a sweet cookie, I suppose you could cut back a bit on the sugar, but it is a sweet people, not a food to live on! Also, take the ingredient of 'zest of 1 orange' with a grain of salt, one man's tangerine sized orange is another man's grapefruit sized one so zest wisely. The household Brit gives these a big two thumbs up not to mention my peeps!
Next week we're making Bear's Peach Cobbler, I shall report back.
Chocolate Orange Macaroons
Recipe from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book by Melissa Murphy
6 ounces best-quality solid semisweet (58%) chocolate
14 ounces sweetened coconut
zest of 1 orange
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large egg whites
1) Before you start
Position the rack in the center of your oven. Preheat the oven to 325F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
2) Using a serrated bread knife, finely chop the chocolate and set aside.
3) In a large bowl, combine the coconut and zest, rub together with your hands. (This will break up the coconut and release the orange oils).
4) Stir in the sugar and chocolate to the coconut and mix to combine. 5) Add the egg whites (we whisked them a bit to lighten them up).
6) Use your hands to mix until everything is coated and the egg whites are distributed evenly.
7) Using a 1-ounce cookie scoop, firmly pack the dough in the scoop and unmold, 2-inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
One of the benefits of this dough is that you can make the cookie base up to 1 week ahead and keep it in an airtight container in the fridge and just the bake the cookies when desired. They keep well in an airtight container at room temp for 3 days. If you want to keep them longer, wrap in plastic and then aluminum foil and freeze them for up to 3 weeks.
A new catalog landed in my mailbox last week and I meant to mention it sooner. As I turned each glossy page of the Meduri World Delights catalog visions of salads and tagines, desserts and appetizers swam through my head. I confess that I do not like chocolate. Nope, not one bit, but give me good fruit anytime, especially vine fruits or citrus and I am one happy girl.
How about the mandarin orange slices in a cake? Or maybe pork with those morello cherries? Just look, LOOK at those raspberries up there. Those are dried yet they look absolutely perfect, I imagine those are like summer, maybe steeped in some vodka or rum. And OMG the strawberry rhubarb bites...how can you not want to try that?
Sign me up for one of those 3-month plans today please. Excuse me while I go mop off my keyboard.
When we gathered up in Maine one of the things that Grandma C used to make were these heavenly buns that she called pecan rolls. A promised baking of these sticky treats pretty much guaranteed that we could get Mrs. L. up to visit. When Gran passed away we all spent time sorting through her hundreds of recipes to cull out the ones we all remembered as being favourites. We swear at one point that we had this recipe, but none of us can find 'the' one. We have found recipes amongst hers labeled pecan rolls, but we can't rest assured that the recipe is 'the one'. During the first semester in school one of the recipes we made in yeast doughs class was called Sticky buns, and other than doing them in a 9X12 pyrex dish instead of in a giant cast iron pan I thought that they were pretty darn close. I promised myself that if I knew Mrs. L was coming to visit I would spring these on her so that she and my Mom could confer on how close or indeed how far from Grandma's they were.
Part of this culinary school experience is tackling things you may likely not make again. Cakes, for me, would be one of those items. If I'm going to make a dessert or a sweet I tend to make tarts or ice cream, maybe a custard or steamed pudding, something I am not going to find at my local bakery. We recently spent 4 weeks in cakes and one of the key cakes we have to learn is a Genoise. We also all know that it is one of the items that will turn up in the practicum so I needed to practice.
I had decided to make some cookies to bring into work to hand out as
farewell presents to some of my friends who were being laid off from
Big American bank. I've now made this recipe twice and will be
making it a third time to send some in to husband's work. He took
some for lunch one day and gave them to two guys. They have
demanded more. I left a bag of these on the desk of one of the
men that I work with, he sent me an email later that said simply, I
Love You. These will win over any choc-o-holics heart. But first a few caveats to making these.
1) I can't recommend enough that you buy a Silpat mat, preferably
two, so that you can keep the cookie sheets coming in and out of the
oven. With the Silpat nothing sticks, nothing scorches, nothing
gets over browned, the cookies come out lovely and clean-up is a
breeze. They are around $20.00 everywhere these days. 2) Let
the batter rest for 10 to 15 minutes before you start the first
batch. It will begin to set up nicely so the cookies stay plump
and not spread out. 3) BUY GOOD CHOCOLATE! None
of these Baker's squares or Nestle's Choco chips. It is worth
every penny to buy good chocolate for this recipe. I've used
Scharffen Berger 99% Cocao (unsweetened) for the base. For the
chips I've used two kinds. E. Guittard's 72% Dark Chocolate
couverture which are more like a drop than a chip and leave a nice
large piece of chocolate to bite in the cookie. When I can't get
to a specialty store or Sur La Table to get those I buy the Ghiradelli
Premium Semi-sweet baking chips. You can almost always get Ghiradelli in any grocery store these days, Bread and Circus/Whole Foods has really good chocolate as well, you can try Williams Sonoma or Sur La Table if you have them in your area. 4) Because I'm making these to give
to friends I also buy the highest quality butter that I can.
Whole Foods carries a new line of a European style butter (salted
and un) made by Straus creamery. It's organic and has 85% butterfat. European style butter always has a higher butterfat content than U.S. butters. 5) The sugar. You can certainly use regular sugar, but I like the darker richer taste of raw cane sugar.
Create a cook A Cooking School for Kids and Adults Owner: Create a Cook. A cooking school for kids and adults with classes, date nights, cooking workshops, corporate team building parties, custom cooking parties, bachelorette and birthday parties. Located right outside Boston in Newton, MA.