Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Blood Orange Creme Brulee



Ah, creme brulee old friend, where have you been? We have not seen each other in awhile! So yes, it has been awhile since I have made and posted a recipe for creme brulee, but it has been in the works for sometime. I have wanted to do a citrus inspired creme brulee, maybe meyer lemon flavored. But, I decided that it was finally time to try a blood orange creme brulee. I devised this recipe that has exactly the consistency of a properly made creme brulee, but has the tangy orange flavor of the blood orange. The result was a wonderful, tangy creme brulee that was a pretty peachy color. This is a great party recipe, as the recipe makes about eight creme brulees (unfortunately I only had four dishes), and you can let each guest brulee their own with the creme brulee kitchen torch, after going over safety rules of course.

Sasha's Blood Orange Creme Brulee
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
7 egg yolks
2 cups of heavy cream
1 cup blood orange juice (you could also use blood orange puree)

To make the creme brulee, combine the sugar, heavy cream and blood orange juice in a saucepan. Heat over low heat and stir until sugar is dissolved, and the mixture bubbles slightly around the edges. Beat the egg yolks in a bowl. Remove the cream mixture from the heat and add in the egg yolks. Meanwhile boil a large pot of water.

Add the mixture to each of the brulee dishes and place in a large high walled pan (I used a broiling pan). Fill the pan with the hot water about 2/3 of the way up the sides of the creme brulee dishes. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.

Chill for at least two hours - even overnight is fine. Top with a bit of granulated sugar in a thin later (superfine sugar is even better for this) and brulee, following the instructions of your kitchen torch.

video

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Friday, March 11, 2011

From Amasea's Kitchen in Sun Valley: Super-spicy cauliflower soup


This is soup that made my lips hurt.

Before I went to boarding school (my choice, I wasn't a juvenile delinquent...at least, not much :) I had a really good tolerance for spice. I ate Thai food at Seattle Thai restaurants, where the stars were in Asian terms and not ours: 4-star Asian is like 40-star American. But at a boarding school, they can't spice things very highly, or add particularly engaging ingredients, due to allergies and moderate palates. I made do with Tabasco, but it's just not the same.

So after four years there, and four years in college, which was nearly as bad, my palate had degraded. A lot (but not alot). I've been a wuss ever since.

Lately though, in part thanks to my husband, who really enjoys some heat in his meals, I've been rebuilding my tolerance. And this is the rather extreme result.

I got a medium-sized head of organic cauliflower at Atkinson's, our local market, and steamed it until it was soft...too soft, actually, I got distracted by coverage of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. I put that, and two-ish big chipotles (the dehydrated ones, in adobo sauce) in my Cuisinart.

In a separate nonstick pan, I sauteed one medium white onion and four large cloves of garlic, fairly finely chopped, with some olive oil, salt and black pepper, and about a tablespoon of white sugar. Once they were browned, I added about half a cup of College Inn Thai Coconut Curry Broth (which, incidentally, I have fallen in love with) and cooked that down so the onions and garlic were soft. That mixture went into the Cuisinart with the chipotles and cauliflower, and was pureed until the mixture was nearly smooth. I added another cup or so of broth and about a tablespoon and a half of lime juice, and heated it all back up again.

What's in the picture above is the teeny bit that remained once I realized I needed to take a picture to tell y'all about this awesomeness, with a side of Chenin Blanc and some sourdough baguette slices. And all that's left of the soup is my still-burning lips and a portion I froze for my husband, who's out of town...because I know he'll love it!
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Sasha's Kitchen: Simple Spinach Pear Salad


This is a recipe for a simple, yet beautiful and healthy salad. Baby spinach is just about one of the healthiest greens that you can include in your diet, which is why I chose to include it in this salad. Usually pear salads are made with greens like watercress, or endives, but in my opinion, baby spinach works much better. The combination with the goat cheese is delicious. I recommend sauteing the pears a bit, which gives the perfect residual sweetness to the salad, which balances nicely with the spinach. To prepare the dressing for the salad, simply use balsamic and canola to make a vinaigrette. Top the spinach, almond slivers, pears and goat cheese crumble with the dressing.

Sasha's Simple Spinach Pear Salad
baby green spinach
2 anjou pears, peeled and sliced
crumbled goat cheese
slivered almonds
balsamic vinegar
canola oil



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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Four and Twenty Blackbirds & A Guest Recipe from Europe



There's a new pie place in town. Recently I had the pleasure of visiting Four and Twenty Blackbirds, on the border of the South Park Slope and Gowanus.  It was fabulously delicious and I can't wait to go back. This pie in the sky, pie spot, has different pies for every season (I can't wait to try some of their fruity pies when I go back in the summer!), as well as a daily changing array of pies to choose from. When we went, we tried the Salted Caramel Apple Pie (pictured above) and the Black Bottom Oatmeal Pie (pictured below). Other winter pies include Buttermilk Chess, Salted Honey and Chili Chocolate pies. And a whole array of lovely fruit flavors await us in Spring and Summer. These pies are delicious and this is a spot worth venturing to the edge of Park Slope to try.



In addition, I am sharing a recipe from a reader of A Kitchen In Brooklyn - Anna, and old friend of mine now living in Strasburg, France. Here's the recipe below, as well as a description of its family origins.


This recipe originated in my mom’s kitchen (or maybe my grandma’s, don’t remember). It is not
something you are likely to find in a cookbook or a TV cooking show. It is something that I make when I am nostalgic for my mom’s cooking.

It is definitely not fancy French cuisine, but I did add some ingredients to make it more…interesting, if
you wish. But it remains a dish from the kitchen of a poor family (in former USSR everybody were either poor or in the government :-) whose motto was “tasty and cheap.”

Now to the recipe!

Anna's Chicken Gizzard Stew
1 kg chicken gizzards (buy already cleaned, if possible) you can also use hearts or a mixture
2 large onions
2-3 medium carrots, grated (you can add more if you like your stew more on the sweet side)
3-4 small celery stalks
1 cube of chicken or beef soup (I use from “Rapunzel” and it gives fantastic results)
¼ cup dry white wine (Riesling or similar)
3-4 bay leaves
5-6 whole English peppers
Salt and ground pepper to taste

Preparation:

If you have a pressure cooker – use it! You will save a lot of time. If not, I like to use my “Staub” cocotte, which keeps the juices in even after a long cooking time. In fact, the trick is to use gizzards from young chickens to shorten the cooking time, otherwise it may take a while.

Warm a bit of olive oil, add chopped onions and fry until golden but not browned. Add carrots and
chopped celery and cook until softened, mixing from time to time. Add a bit of hot water to cover and a
soup cube of your choice, mix until dissolved. Add wine, whole English peppers and bay leaves. Then add the gizzards and cover with cold (!) water. If you’d like more sauce, add more water (not more than the maximum allowed for your pressure cooker). Be careful not to overdo it, otherwise you will have a soup and not a stew! Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for operating the pressure cooker. Start your timer AFTER the pressure has been built. Cook between 25-35 minutes, depending on the gizzards (whether from old or young chickens).

Adjust spicing to your taste after opening. We usually eat it with buckwheat kasha and some pickled
gherkins on a side!

Bon appetite!
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Monday, March 7, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Mardi Gras King Cake Cupcakes



Just in time for Fat Tuesday, I made these Mardi Gras themed King Cake cupcakes. King Cakes are associated with Mardi Gras, and I have had them in the past (usually brought by a co-worker or what not) as a large round nutmeg flavored cake, dyed with tricolored purple, green and yellow icing.  The cake usually has a small trinket of a plastic baby hidden somewhere inside.  Last year for Mardi Gras I made some New Orleans beignets reminiscent of the Big Easy.  But this year, King Cakes, made into cupcakes it was! I am excited to report that I am going to be taking my first Saturday class at the Brooklyn Kitchen in a couple weeks - and New Orleans brunch is the theme of the first class I signed up for (the second will be on pickling, I have decided). 



For these Mardi Gras Fat Tuesday cupcakes, I made a nutmeg King Cake flavored cupcake. The frosting is just vanilla frosting dyed Mardi Gras colors, with some green sugar as well.

Sasha's King Cake Cupcakes (1 dozen)
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
3 large egg whites
3/4 cup skim milk
1 stick of butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp lemon juice

Frosting
1 stick of butter
4 oz cream cheese
3 cups of confectioner's sugar
1 tsp vanilla
food coloring



Preheat the oven to 350. Line a cupcake tray with cupcake liners. Combine the dry ingredients and set aside in a bowl. In the basin of your stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar for about three minutes until smooth. Whisk in the egg whites. Beat while alternating between adding the milk and the dry ingredients. Mix until combined and smooth. Fill cupcakes about 3/4 of the way full and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes until done and a toothpick comes clean out of the center.  Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Beat the ingredients for the frosting on high for about three minutes until if forms a nice frosting.  Dye one portion purple and the other portion yellow using gel food colors. Use a spatula to spread on the cupcakes and put some green sugar in the middle.

Happy Fat Tuesday!
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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Southern Pimento Mac & Cheese


Mac & cheese is that perfect comfort food when the rest of life seems just too complicated and too much of a mess, at times. I have my own signature mac & cheese that I love, but could not resist a recipe that I came across in Bon Appetit for some southern style pimento mac & cheese.  Pimento cheese is a southern style cheese made with cheddar and pimento-type peppers, basically blended into a paste. More or less, that is the basis behind the flavor of this mac & cheese recipe. I adapted the proportions a bit from the original recipe to get things to my liking, but this is adapted from the recipe in this month's Bon Appetit.  I used some lower fat cheeses and a bit larger proportion of pasta so my version is perhaps just a tad bit healthier. Still tastes amazing! I had pimento for the first time  few months ago when I was in Atlanta, and this dish is really true to taste.

Southern Pimento Mac & Cheese
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
3 T butter
2/3 cup parmesan cheese
3/4 cup drained peppadew peppers in brine, 1 T brine reserved
1/4 tsp ancho chili powder
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups light cheddar cheese, grated
1 1/4 cups whole milk mozzarella
1 box (16 oz) mini-shell pasta


Bring 1/2 of a cup of water, 1 1/2 cloves of garlic and the bell pepper to boil. Then lower heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Toss the panko in a skillet and brown lightly over medium heat (about 5 minutes). Transfer to a bowl and combine with 1 T of butter, and 1/4 cup of parmesan, and set aside.

Put the bell pepper/ water mixture in a blender. Add the peppadew peppers and one tablespoon of the brine, and also the rest of the garlic, ancho chili powder, grated cheddar and remaining parmesan.  Blend until smooth, and season with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 400 and butter an 8 cup baking dish. I used one of my lovely Emile Henry ones.  Cook the pasta until al dente. Stir the pimento sauce in, and add the shredded mozzarella, stirring to combine. Spoon into baking dish and top with the breadcrumb mixture. Bake about 25 minutes until the topping is crisp.

In the mood for more Southern Food? I made some Mardi Gras cupcakes today . . .


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