Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Strawberry Apple Crumble

Strawberries are in high season now and are one of my favorite spring and summer fruits.  I love making pies, but you would never put strawberry in a pie.  However, a strawberry crisp or crumble is just perfect.  Other fruits will go in a crumble perfectly as well, such as raspberries or blueberries.  My initial plan was to make a strawberry rhubarb crumble after I had an amazing one for dessert at Blue Water Grill in Manhattan.  However, I could not find rhubarb for sale at any of the grocery stores and organic markets I went to here in Brooklyn.  I'd love to know where to find it, but everyone kept telling me that they don't keep rhubarb in stock because it doesn't sell.  So I decided to go with apples, which I thought would absorb the flavors and juices of the strawberries nicely. I used fresh seasonal strawberries, which are of course, the key to this recipe.

Sasha's Strawberry Apple Crumble
1 lb fresh strawberries
2 large Pink Lady apples
2/3 of a cup granulated sugar
1 T lemon juice
1 stick of butter, melted
1 cup of flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup rolled oats

To prepare the filling, peel and chop the apples and remove the tops from the strawberries before cutting each in half. Combine the apples and strawberries with the granulated sugar and lemon juice.  Mix well and put the mixture in a prepared pie dish that you have sprayed with Pam, or something similar so it does not stick.

Next, create the crumble for the top.  This actually does not require a mixer and is very simple.  In a bowl, add the flour, melted butter, rolled oats and brown sugar.  Mix well using a fork until it combines into a crumble-like mixture.  Cover the top of the pie filling with the crumble.  Bake for 45 minutes in an oven that has been preheated to 350 degrees.

My husband absolutely loved this dish.  It's such a classic presentation of the freshest fruit of the spring and we both really enjoyed it.  It's also very easy to make - easy as well, pie.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Thomas Keller's Cheesecake from Ad Hoc at Home

Cheesecake.  The unhealthiest dessert ever. But when made properly a nice light, refreshing cheesecake is so delicious that it is worth making every so often.  I've made cheesecakes before, of course, both my own recipes and following other recipes.  I decided, however, to try Thomas Keller's cheesecake from Ad Hoc At Home to see where it measured on the cheesecake-meter.  It was a delicious and classic cheesecake recipe that my entire family enjoyed at our family mother's day brunch. The hint of lemon is subtle and delicious while the mixture of cream cheese and mascarpone is just perfect for a light and airy cake on a graham cracker crust. I should add, as Keller does that you should not make any substitutions to reduce the fat content. It's a nice once a year treat, but you will not do it justice if you use lowfat products instead of the real deal with this recipe.  Yes, it's not so great for you, but it's okay for the occasional indulgence!

Ad Hoc At Home Cheesecake
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 T granulated sugar
5 T unsalted butter, melted

1 lb (two packages) cream cheese (not reduced fat)
8 oz mascarpone cheese
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract (or vanilla paste)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
grated zest of one lemon
1/4 cup plus 2 T heavy cream

Combine the ingredients for the crust and press into a 9 inch springform pan. Bake at 325 for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned, and set aside to cool.

Bring a pot of water to boil for a bath.  Combine the cheeses and sugar in your stand mixer and beat at low speed to mix, then raising to medium speed.  Beat for three minutes until light and smooth.  In a bowl, beat the eggs and the extra yolks.  Add the lemon juice and slowly add to the cream cheese mixture, beating until combined, until there are no lumps. Add the lemon zest and the heavy cream and mix until well combined.

Wrap the springform pan in foil to prevent leaks.  Boil water in a pot (you should have started this before hand) and create a water bath. Put the springform pan in the water bath so that it goes up halfway on the sides of the pan on the outside.  This is the same way you make creme brulee, and in both cases is necessary so the dessert does not crack.  Fill the filling inside the cheesecake and bake for one hour at 325 until set and a light golden brown.

Allow to cool in the water bath, as the water cools (so it cools slowly and does not crack).  Then refrigerate and serve chilled.

Eric's Kitchen in NJ: Ginger Glazed Mahi & Scallops Risotto

For Mother's Day my Mom and Grandma had me make them both of these dishes as their 'gift'. I had actually never cooked Mahi Mahi before but knew my Mom loved it so I looked up some recipes, considering what she already had in the house and settled on this one. As for the risotto, my Mom was more specific, saying she wanted, seared scallops with mushrooms, and leeks.

Let's start with the Mahi Mahi.

Ingredients (served 4-5 but we had two dishes):
2 large Mahi Mahi fillets
3 tbsp honey
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 bunch of scallions, chopped
1 tbsp garlic, minced (2 cloves)
1 tbsp ginger minced
2 tsp olive oil
Cracked black pepper

Mix everything but the fish in a bowl and then add the fish and let marinate for 20 minutes in the fridge. After that, heat some light olive oil (takes high heat better my Mom taught me) in a pan and then add the fish, skin down, without the marinade and let it brown until crispy before turning. I only turn anything once and after I turned it, I let the other side sear for a minute or so before adding the marinade and letting it cook and thicken until the fish was done. The recipe suggested cooking the fish first and the marinade separately probably to let the fish cook completely without rushing it or to properly thicken the sauce but I ignored or forgot this and it turned out great anyway. The sauce had an amazing flavor! Also check out Sasha's Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa.

On to the risotto!

Ingredients (served 5 and there was a ton left over):
2 lbs. of sea scallops
2 cups of dry arborio rice
8 cups of 'better than bullion' mushroom stock (I forget how many tsp of bullion this is)
1 leek, chopped
1/2 a bunch of scallions
1 package of baby bella mushrooms, washed and thinly sliced
cracked pepper
1/2 cup white wine, we used a chardonnay
1 tbsp white truffle oil

Start by sauteing the veggies in olive oil & white truffle oil until soft while heating the broth and then add the rice and the wine and continue to stir until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid. Then add the hot mushroom broth and stir until the rice absorbs it, maybe 1/2 a cup to a cup at a time until the rice is soft. Definitely taste it as you will know when it's done. It took around 45 minutes but we had it on the wrong burner to start without enough heat or it may have been quicker. Also we had a cup or so of broth left over but considering how much risotto we had left over, we will probably use it when re-heating. Here are a few other risotto recipes on this blog.

In the meantime, sear your scallops with butter and some white wine to de-glaze the pan as the butter starts to darken and dry out. Keep from adding TOO much butter or wine as it will prevent the scallops from properly searing. Also don't crowd the scallops in the pan as this can also prevent them from browning. I love seared scallops and added a picture mainly because they looked nice...

It took about 4 rounds of searing the scallops while Jenn stirred the risotto until everything was done so we set aside the scallops until the end and then mixed it all together. Everything turned out very nicely and my Mom and Grandma were both very happy! Now if I can only get them to read my blog entries!

Here are some other seared scallop recipes:
Sasha's seared scallops with Papaya, blood orange vinegrette and carmelized shallots
Sasha's scallops with organic mushrooms, spicy coconut lemongrass-thyme broth and pomegranate seeds
My fettucine with scallops and mushroom cream sauce

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Chilean Sea Bass with Heirloom Tomatoes

Chilean Sea bass is one of my favorite dishes to prepare. Usually, i prepare it using an Asian inspired marinade and papaya salsa. But this is a really versatile fish that can prepared a  umber of different ways. I love how soft, flaky and delicate Chilean Sea Bass is and it is a special treat. I understand that it is not the greatest fish from a sustainability point of view, but there is really nothing else out there quite like Chilean Sea Bass.

I decided to prepare the fish simply in a butter and white wine sauce, with fresh heirloom tomatoes, which are just coming into season to showcase the fresh tomatoes alongside the fish.  The sauce is really a thrown-together variation on a French classic beurre blanc, but unlike a more traditional Julia Child beurre blanc, the sauce has a lot less butter and is heavier on the white wine component.  It is lighter, and in my view, plenty enjoyable for flavorful meal.

Sasha's Chilean Sea Bass with Heirloom Tomatoes
Two 7 oz filets of Chilean Sea Bass
3/4 cup white wine
1/2 stick of unsalted butter
1/2 lemon
2 zucchini
assortment of heirloom tomatoes

To prepare the dish, heat the butter and melt it in the white wine. Preheat the oven at 350 degrees and put the fish on a baking sheet with the heirloom tomatoes and zucchini. Drizzle several tablespoons of the sauce on top of each piece of fish. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon on top. Bake the fish for about a half an hour, until the vegetables are cooked and the fish is nice and flaky.  Serve with a bit of the reserved sauce.  This is a lovely fresh spring dish that was enjoyed almost as much as my asian-inspired signature Chilean Sea Bass dish.

Chilean Sea Bass on FoodistaChilean Sea Bass

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Eric's Kitchen in NJ: Asian Pan-seared Halibut

I'm staying at my Mom's house for the next three months while Jenn is up in Jersey City until we can get out of our lease. The only other person at my Mom's during the week is my Grandma and we decided to make Halibut this past Wednesday night. It was very easy and tasted fantastic!

Ingredients (serves 3):
3 halibut fillets
1/2 a bunch of scallions, chopped
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp of soy sauce
2 tbsp of white wine (we used a Reisling)
a nice coating of sesame seeds on one side of the fish

First we marinated the fish in all the other ingredients for about 15 minutes. Then I got some olive oil hot in a pan and added the fish, keeping the marinade aside while the fish seared. I only ever flip any meat or fish once I flipped it and gave it a few seconds to sear the other side (toasting the sesame seeds). Then I added the marinade and let that cook as well since it was on the raw fish. I covered it for a minute or so as well to help ensure it would be tender. I'd say no more than 2-3 minutes on each side for a 1 inch thick fillet. It came out perfectly flaky and delicious and was a pretty healthy meal in the end.

We served it with some chopped, stir fried bok choy. Same ingredients without the sesame seeds and added some turkey broth maybe half a cup at the end. Please keep in mind any measurements in my recipes are probably not completely accurate as I guesstimate.
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