Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Frozen Strawberry Souffle

So, a frozen souffle really isn't a souffle at all - its much more like a frozen custard, like ice cream but so much better, lighter and creamier. If you have ever made Italian Semifreddo (I plan to make a tri-colored one next week), then a frozen souffle is really the same substance, just made in smaller, individual portions,  in souffle dishes. I used a bit of parchment paper on the rim of each souffle dish so I could pour up the custard higher and give this the look of an actual souffle after removing the parchment paper. I adapted this recipe from one that I found online, with several changes (my way is better!). It was amazing - light and creamy, a perfect fresh strawberry frozen custard! This is a fabulous recipe for using those fresh, local strawberries that are in season right now.

Frozen Strawberry Souffle
1 lb fresh strawberries, stemmed and hulled
1 cup sugar plus 3 T
5 egg whites
1/4 tsp orange zest
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
2 T amaretto (I used my homemade amaretto)
1/4 cup slivered almonds
3-4 T of sugar

First, make a praline by caramelizing the almonds in the 3-4 T of granulated sugar. Once caramelized, allow to cool completely on a piece of foil, before pulverizing in a nut chopper or food processor. Put about a tablespoon of this praline in the bottom of each souffle dish, for the bottom of each dessert.

Using parchment paper, create a rim, or collar of parchment paper on each of four souffle dishes, so you will be able to pour the mixture about an inch or an inch and a half above where the dish ends. You will remove this after the souffle is frozen.

Slice the strawberries (all of them) and allow to sit in a bowl with 3 T of sugar for about 20 minutes to macerate. Puree the strawberries in a food processor. Whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer. Continue to whip, while gradually adding the cup of sugar, until an Italian meringue forms. Fold in the orange zest and strawberry puree. Once again, using the stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the cream until stiff. Fold in the strawberry meringue and the amaretto and gently combine. Ladle the mixture into the prepared souffle dishes, filling up to the top of the parchment paper collars. Freeze overnight (will keep for a week) and enjoy!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: David Chang's Momofuku Fried Chicken with Octo Vinaigrette

I confess, I have not yet been to any of David Chang's Momofuku restaurants (my husband has though!) but I've been dying to get to Momofuku noodle bar and try out the fried chicken and other dishes there.  It's pretty high up on my list of pricy New York restaurants to try, or to fucking try, as Chang would say (he swears quite a bit as noted in this humorous Huffington Post article). Anyhow, I decided to try making Chang's Fried Chicken with Octo Vinaigrette, from the Momofuku cookbook to see how it stacks up next to Thomas Keller's buttermilk fried chicken from Ad Hoc at Home.  I've got to say, this might be my new favorite fried chicken recipe ever. They way I followed the recipe, it is fried, but not as deeply fried, which is just perfect. Plus, the octo vinaigrette that goes on top of Chang's chicken might just be the most delicious chicken dressing ever! The brine here is key with both recipes - it gives the chicken the most moist, succulent flavor ever. This was a winner with my whole family and I plan to make it again next week.

One thing i should note that I did differently. Chang calls for steaming the chicken then deep frying. I really wanted to do this, but my steamer was too small and I would have been cooking the chicken in batches until about midnight the night I made this. So, we would up baking at a low temperature, and then frying the chicken. I was worried it would not be as juicy if I did this, but my husband insisted because he was hungary and low and behold it was still amazing. So read on for the full recipe!

David Chang's Momofuku Fried Chicken with Octo Vinagirette

4 cups lukewarm water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup kosher salt
One 3- to 3 1/2-pound chicken, cut into 4 pieces - (I used a four pound whole chicken cut into eight pieces, but you can also use all wings and legs if you prefer)
4 cups grapeseed or other neutral cooking oilOcto Vinaigrette

David Chang's Octo Vinaigrette
2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
2 tbsp chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 fresh bird's eye-
chili, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup 
usukuchi (light soy sauce) - I substituted light soy sauce
2 tbsp 
grapeseed or other neutral oil
1/4 tsp Asian sesame oil (this makes the dressing what it is!)
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
Fresh ground black pepper

First, brine the chicken. Combine the water, kosher salt and sugar in a large pot with a lid and dissolve the ingredients in the pot. Add the chicken pieces and brine in a refrigerator for at least one and no more than six hours. I found that 4 hours was perfect. 

Set up a steamer on the stove. Drain the chicken and discard the brine. Put the chicken in the steamer basket. Turn the heat to medium and set the lid of the steamer ever so slightly ajar. Steam the chicken for 40 minutes, then remove it from the steamer and put it on a cooling rack to cool. Chill it in the refrigerator, preferably on the rack, for at least 2 hours or overnight. I must add that I instead baked the chicken at 300 degrees instead of steaming, and it worked out just fine, so don't be afraid to do this if you need to. 

Take the chicken out of the refrigerator and allow to set for thirty minutes before frying.In a deep skillet, heat enough oil for the chicken to be submerged to 375 degrees. Fry the chicken in batches, turning once, until the skin is deep drown and crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain the excess oil. I fried the chicken in grapeseed oil, as recommended, which was lovely!

Combine the ingredients for the Octo Vinaigrette in a bowl. Make sure the garlic and ginger are chopped or pureed finely (I bought them pre-chopped).  Top the chicken with this delicious vinaigrette and enjoy!


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Spectacular White Pizza Variations

I've long prided myself on my pizzas, but lately my pizza making has really taken it up a notch. I have a crust that is absolutely to die for and have perfected my technique with shaping the pizza crusts to get them just the way I love my pizza. Lately, I've tried a couple different variations on white pizza, both of which I will share here. I used a combination of lowfat mozzarella, monterey jack and cheddar shredded cheese which are my favorite for white pizzas (I personally don't care for ricotta on my pizza, and neither does Brad, my husband). These variations include the use of ShopRite's new basting oil, which is filled with a delicious blend of herbs, a great new product that I received for free to review. Initially i was skeptical about using this on pizza, rather than to, say, baste a turkey. But it was spectacular. I mixed it in with the shredded cheeses and it added a lovely blend of herbs to the pizza, kind of like a garlic bread feel. So, I tried that on one of the pizzas below. Also, I found that pimentos are not just for southern cheese, they are absolutely perfect on a white pizza!

Sasha's Pizza Dough
1 cup warm water
2 packages dry active yeast
1 1/2 tsp sugar
2 T extra virgin olive oil
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt

Sasha's White Pizza Variation One
two red onions, sliced into rings
organic turkey bacon from Applegate Farms (best turkey bacon ever!), cooked before adding to pizza
Fresh/dried Oregano and Basil to season
1 package shredded part skim milk mozzarella cheese
1 package shredded cheddar/Monterey Jack mix

Sasha's White Pizza Variation Two
two red onions, sliced into rings
3 T ShopRite basting oil
pimento peppers

1 package shredded part skim milk mozzarella cheese
1 package shredded cheddar/Monterey Jack mix

To prepare the dough, combine the warm water, dry active yeast and sugar in a bowl.  Allow to sit for about ten minutes until the yeast mixture is bubbly and frothy.  This indicates that the yeast has activated.  Combine in bowl, or in your stand mixer (I used my mixer for this) with the olive oil, flour and salt, until it forms a dough.  Place in an oiled bowl (sprayed with PAM, for example) and cover with a damp cloth.  Allow to rise in a warm place for one hour. I used to let it go longer, but I found that one hour makes a better crust that is not over-puffy.

Cook the bacon, or prepare the other toppings depending on which variation you are making. If you do the second variation, mix in the basing oil with the cheeses.

Stretch the pizza dough onto a pizza stone which is lightly coated with cornstarch. Top with the cheeses or cheeses with basing oil mixed in and add the other ingredients to top.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. If there's any excess oil, you can get rid of it using a paper towel.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Ad Hoc's Mushroom Soup

I haven't made a recipe from Ad Hoc at Home in awhile, but it is a great Keller cookbook, so I decided to give another one of his soups a try. I wasn't exactly sure how I felt about mushroom stoup, but this soup, made with a homemade mushroom stock, was an absolutely wonderful vegetarian soup, and a nice, healthy soup. Surprisingly, making mushroom stock is actually quite easy and far less time-intensive than making a homemade chicken stock. The soup itself calls for Hen of the Woods mushrooms. There are no other mushrooms quite like these - they are extremely flavorful, funny looking and fantastic. I've cooked with them before when I got them at Wegmans, but this time I couldn't get my hands on them in time. It's Ok though, because just as Keller suggests in the book, oyster mushrooms are a perfectly reasonable substitute.

Thomas's Keller's Mushroom stock from Ad Hoc at Home (this is 1/2 of the original recipe)
2 lbs button mushrooms
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
greens from one leek, chopped
3 quarts of cold water
1/4 head of garlic, crushed, skin left on
1/4 bunch flat parsley
1/4 bunch thyme
2 bay leaves
1/2 T black peppercorns

Keller suggests pureeing some of the vegetables  (specifically the mushrooms), but I decided not to do that, and just left them as is in the soup. It worked out fine and the broth had a fantastic mushroom flavor that soaked it up from the mushrooms. Put all of the vegetables in a stockpot and add the water, then bringing to a boil. Add the garlic, herbs, bay leaves and peppercorns and put the pot on simmer. Simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. Then, strain the soup, keeping only the stock. Keller suggests doing this using an ice bath, but you don't really need that either. Measure the stock. If you have more than two quarts, reduce it in a saucepan, simmering. The mushroom soup recipe on page 119 of Ad Hoc at home (see below) requires eight cups (two quarts) of the mushrooms stock, which is why I cut the recipe in half.

Thomas Keller's Mushroom Soup from Ad Hoc at Home
Canola oil
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced leeks
1 cup diced onion
kosher salt
1 1.2 tsp minced garlic
1 small bunch of tuscan kale (cavolo nero)
1 1/4 pounds (2 or 3 large) yukon gold potatoes
1 sachet (1 bay leaf, three sprigs of thyme, 10 black peppercorns and 1 clove garlic)
2/3 lb hen of the woods or oyster mushrooms
1 1/2 T butter
1/4 cups minced shallots
1 T fresh thyme
8 cups homemade mushroom stock
freshly ground black pepper
5 to 6 T garlic puree (I used five)
1 to 2 T red wine vinegar (I used one)
extra virgin olive oil

Heat three T of the canola oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the carrots, leeks, onions and a pinch of salt. Cover with parchment paper and cook slowly for about 25 minutes. The vegetables will have released their liquid, Keller says, but will not yet be tender.  Take off the parchment lid and add the garlic. Cook for another ten minutes until the carrots are tender. Remove the ribs from the kale and set aside for later.

Peel the potatoes and slice crosswise into large pieces, then quarter. Put the potatoes, herb sachet (which you can make using cheesecloth) and 2 tsp of salt in a saucepan. Simmer and cook until potatoes are tender, which took me about 15 minutes. Drain and allow to cool.

If using hen of the woods mushrooms, break them apart. If you are using oyster mushrooms, you will not need to do this. Heat some canola oil and add half of the mushrooms, seasoning with salt and cooking for about a minute to let the mushrooms absorb the oil. Add half of the butter, shallots and thyme and saute until mushrooms are browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Then repeat with the other half of the mushrooms.

Add the mushroom stock to the stockpot with the carrots and other vegetables and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Blanch the kale in a large pot of salted water until just wilted and tender. Add the mushrooms, kale and potatoes to the pot, and add the vinegar at the end. Serve hot.
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