Saturday, August 27, 2011

Potato & Herb Crusted Striped Bass with Mustard Cream Sauce

Here in New York city, including Brooklyn, we are hunkering down for Hurricane Irene and hoping we don't get flooding from our backyard when the storm hits. I plan on baking some breads tomorrow - banana bread and blueberry bread. I'm worried about flooding and wind damage and all kinds of other unpleasant weather events and am bummed to have to be missing a friends wedding due to the weather out of town this saturday night.

At any rate, I want to share a simple fish dish that I have made the last two weeks, with two different types of fish, striped bass and Australian barramundi. This dish is very simple, it just requires breading the fish in dried potato rather than breadcrumbs, and coating it with a selection of herbs, before pan searing the fish and serving it over green beans.  I bought a box of dehydrated potato flakes and mixed it with fresh thyme, oregano and a bit of parsley. Then I dredged the fish in egg and coated with the potato and herb batter. I didn't measure the herbs precisely, but you really can't use too much for a recipe like this.  I put it about a tablespoon of each!

Thanks to my loving mom for the terrific idea for this recipe, which she said was loosely inspired by something she saw on the Food Network.

I served the fish with a mustard cream sauce. Mix 1/2 cup of heavy cream with three tablespoons of dijon mustard. Simmer and stir until thickened, while adding 1/2 a tsp of cornstarch to enable the thickening of the sauce

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Three Tiered Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Buttercream

Recently, my husband and I hosted a lovely dinner party for some old college friends. A good time was had by all and we served a four course menu that was matched with beer and wine pairings that one of your friends brought to share with the meal. We have a nice backyard here in Brooklyn, so we first had cheese and crackers with champagne outside since it was a lovely summer night.  Second course brought us inside for
chinese style duck dumplings, followed by zucchini-corn fritters with yogurt sauce.  The third course was my homemade spinach ravioli with a three cheese filling (show here is a plain, non spinach batch). And, finally, its cake time.  I did another garden party themed cake, decorated with pretty pink flowers that I piped on with vanilla buttercream that I dyed pink for the flowers and yellow for the centers. I used the special wilton flower tip for making the petals for each of the pink flowers in the cake.  This time, I went with the cookbook from Alice's Tea Cup by Haley & Lauren Fox for the chocolate cake recipe, and also followed their recipe for peanut butter buttercream, which I used to frost the outside of the cake and between the layers.  I found using a rotating cake turner to be very useful for both frosting and decorating the cake. I decorated using a basic vanilla buttercream

Chocolate Cake - (makes three 8'' layers) - recipe from the Alice's Tea Cup Cookbook
2 cups of sugar
1 3/4 cups of all purpose flour
3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup hot brewed coffee

To prepare the cake, preheat the oven to 350. You will need three eight inch cake pans.  Prepare the three eight inch cake pans and combine the fry ingredients together in a bowl (flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt). In the basin of your stand mixer, on medium speed, beat the sour cream and eggs (one at a time), milk, oil and vanilla, and add in the dry ingredients, mixing for two minutes. Scape down the bowl and drizzle in the coffee and blend until smooth. It will be a very liquidy mixture, which is fine and appropriate.

Divide the cake batter evenly among the cake pans and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans before gently removing from the pans and allowing to cool on a wire rack until room temperature.  If necessary, trim the tops of the cake to level them, but I found that this recipe did not require any leveling. Frost between layers and on the top and sides of the cake with the buttercream. To make the buttercream, beat the ingredients until smooth.

Peanut Butter Buttercream
2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 cups cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup peanut butter
5 cups confectioner's sugar
1 T milk


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Balsamic Glazed Chicken

I haven't posted in a couple days and I have such a backlog of things to post and new recipes to share. I made a fabulous cake for a dinner party (three layer chocolate peanut butter) that I have to post soon and can't wait to share - as you can tell, I was really happy with how it turned out.

I had a friend visiting from Toronto a week or so ago, and made this balsamic chicken recipe for the first time. I was inspired by Mario Batali's balsamic chicken from Simple Italian Food, but had an entirely different take on it. I did use his idea of combining the wine with the vinegar, and doing a glaze after cooking though I did not stuff the bird the way he did.  Like Mario, I served my balsamic chicken with a bit of grilled radicchio. I wasn't sure how this was going to turn out, since I abandoned Mario's recipe and went with my own. Turns out, it was actually a meal that we really enjoyed.

Sasha's Balsamic Chicken
1 whole organic chicken, cut up
4 T chopped rosemary
 3 cloves chopped garlic
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 cups zinfandel wine3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 heads radicchio
1/2 bag of organic baby carrots
8 oz mini organic chicken sausages

Combine the rosemary, sea salt and garlic, and add to the pot with the baby carrots and several tablespoons of olive oil.  Saute on medium high heat for about five minutes.  Add the wine and 1/2 cup of the balsamic vinegar, as well as the chicken and sausages, and bring to a boil on the top of the stove. Remove from heat and place in an oven preheated to 475 degrees. Roast covered for an hour and ten minutes, or so, until the chicken is cooked, but juicy. While the chicken is cooking, grill the radicchio with a bit of olive on a grill pan. Glaze and drizzle the chicken with the remaining vinegar and serve with the carrots and radicchio.
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