Saturday, August 27, 2011

San Francisco Garlic Fries - Made Lite (Bon Appétit )

This recipe was published in the August 2011 issue of Bon Appétit Magazine. Bon Appétit  describes this recipe as "Our lighter take on the Gilroy Garlic Fries at the San Francisco Giants' AT&T Park forgoes the deep fryer in favor of a hot oven." My hometown of Monterey, California is no more than a 30 minute drive to Gilroy, California-- home of the Garlic Festival.  Drive another 1 1/2 hours north, and I'm in San Francisco.  I've never been to the AT&T Park, so I've never experienced these particular fries.  However, I'm a garlic lovin' fool and I am always on the lookout for baked oven fries.   Fries are one of my guilty pleasures, you see.   While I'm not 100% thrilled with my final photos of these baked fries (we were hungry and I didn't want these to get cold), I still wanted to share this fast and simple way of making garlic fries that are really delicious-- and I didn't miss the deep-fryer version of fries that I've been known to make at home (about once a year):

 I scaled the recipe in half by using two Russet potatoes, scrubbed clean and cut into planks.

Toss potatoes with 2½ tablespoons oil in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Arrange in a single layer on baking sheet. Roast the potatoes, turning occasionally, until browned and tender, about 30 minutes. Increase heat to 500°. Continue roasting until fries are deep brown in spots, about 5 more minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk  ½ tablespoons oil, garlic, and parsley in a large bowl. 
NOTE: My garden flat-leaf parsley is finished for the season, so I used my curly parsley. Just a minor adaption...

Add hot fries, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat.

 I served these fries with a Grilled Mar-A-Lago Turkey Burger.  Double less guilt!

VERDICT:  Hubs and I both enjoyed these baked fries.  What I liked about this recipe was tossing the baked fries in with a bit of oil and freshly minced garlic.  I also didn't need to pre-cook the fries in the microwave , as with my earlier Garlic Oven Fries.  I think it would be fun to use some seasoning salt and even more garlic.  Super easy.  Excellent recipe.

A printable recipe is at the end of this post.

Saturday, I'm out the door bright and early for a pasta making class.  I get to bring my Atlas pasta maker, and I will to learn how to make ravioli. My camera battery is charging, and I look forward to sharing that with you.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Scallops Gratin, Ina Garten Style

A couple of weeks ago, I tweeted that I was having the ho-hums in the kitchen.  I just couldn't muster up any kind of enthusiasm with cooking.  That happens to me, every so often.  I'm sure I'm not the only one.  Last weekend, I sat outside to enjoy a sunny afternoon in our backyard.  I dug out a few of my Tyler Florence and Ina Garten cookbooks and began to revisit them.  The dry spell of cooking inspiration was broken!

I had invited my husband for dinner at Chez Debby's, that Saturday night.  (This is my way of saying I would be cooking at home, for Date Night, and he'd be doing all of the cleanup). Truthfully, I am very lucky that my husband does most of the kitchen cleanup on a regular basis.  Chez Debby's is affordable cooking, but I try to kick things up a few notches so that it looks like restaurant quality.  Ina Garten to the rescue:

Whenever Whole Foods has their special sales, I stock up-- especially when it's Sea Scallops on sale for half price!  My favorite way to prepare scallops has been to quickly sear them.  This time, I wanted to try something different and Ina's Scallops Gratin sounded perfect.

I had frozen the scallops.  My "quick thaw" method never involves the microwave. Instead, I rinse them with warm water to separate them, and then soak them. In about 15 minutes, or longer, they are good to go.

 Pat them very dry, and remove the muscle (the "feet") that it sometimes hanging on to the side.

 These are a decent size, and the price was just right.

I made a couple of tweaks to Ina's recipe.  I chose not to use Prosciutto di Parma because I didn't have any.  I also decided to add fresh tarragon (which is growing out of control in our garden).  I love tarragon.  Ina also lists Pernod, but I don't have that on hand.  I wasn't going to invest in a bottle, just for this recipe.

Tarragon and seafood are meant for one another. I love the really mild notes of licorice.

This is a very easy recipe to make, actually.   I'm going to make delicious garlic-butter topping, and then I'm going to fold in Panko crumbs.  Here's how:

To make the topping, place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (you can also use a hand mixer).With the mixer on low speed, add the garlic, shallot, tarragon, prosciutto*,

...parsley*, lemon juice, Pernod*, salt, and pepper and mix until combined. With the mixer still on low, add the olive oil slowly as though making mayonnaise, until combined.
*I didn't use these ingredients.
Fold the panko in with a rubber spatula and set aside.
NOTE: Don't use bread crumbs! Panko crumbs are much easier to find, nowadays. Check the international aisle of your supermarket.  Panko gives a beautiful crunch to this recipe, and the crumbs would become soggy.

Preheat the broiler, if it’s separate from your oven. Place 1 tablespoon of the wine in the bottom of each gratin dish.

 Distribute the scallops among the 3* dishes.(NOTE: I scaled this recipe for two.)

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Peanut Butter Filled Hot-Fudge Cupcakes (Warning: these are deadly...good)

I am still lamenting how summer blue skies, and warm temperatures has bypassed the Central Coast of California.  My tomatoes aren't pleased, either.  Then again, I've been reading tweets and blogs, from those of you who are melting in triple-digit temperatures-- so I have no right to complain.  At least, with cooler weather, I haven no problem  baking something in the oven.  I have a wicked mean sweet tooth.  I collect, by far, more dessert recipes than I do savory.

Baking is very therapeutic for me.  Those who hate to measure are (in my own theory) those who say they hate to bake.  I don't mind measuring ingredients.  The problem is, I have minimal self-control when it comes to not eating what I bake.

When I first spotted this recipe on "How Sweet It Is", I almost skipped reading about it.  Peanut butter, you see, isn't my favorite ingredient.  Sure, a PBJ sandwich sounds great with homemade jam.  I do enjoy a Reese's Peanut Butter cup treat every so often. Otherwise, peanut butter isn't something that triggers a food lust within me.  My husband loves peanut butter, and so I decided to bake this treat just for him. (Selfishly, my plan was that I'd be able to resist these.)

The first step in making the cupcake batter requires a hot fudge sauce.  (You will find a printable recipe at the end of this post.)  Most likely (if you're a baker) you have the items in your pantry:  flour, dark cocoa powder, salt, sugar, butter, milk (or water, but I chose whole milk) and pure vanilla.  If you scrutinize photos (which I've been known to do on occasion), I added the pat of butter at the beginning.  Then, I realized it's added at the end-- and I pulled it out.  Whisk the ingredients together with the hot milk (or water) and whisk until it thickens. Then add the pat of butter and vanilla, off heat.

I don't own a double boiler. Usually, I set a bowl over a low-simmering pot of water.  This worked out well, however.
 The sauce thickened in about five minutes.  It's divine, and it makes a lot more than you need for the batter.  Vanilla ice cream would be excellent with this sauce...

 The recipe directions doesn't say to strain the sauce, but I did anyway.  

15 minutes of time invested, start to finish, I have hot fudge sauce. Do I hear an amen?  Angels singing?  This stuff is pretty good, I must say!  I poured it into a squeeze bottle and now, for the cupcake batter--

We need flour, dark coco powder, melted butter, an egg, sour cream, pure vanilla extract, brown sugar, baking soda and salt.  

Preheat the oven to 350F. I used my stand mixer, but I think this can easily be done by hand-- with a whisk.  Begin by mixing the brown sugar and egg, Add milk, cream, butter and vanilla, and mix until combined. Stir in sour cream. Sift dry ingredients together and then add to the wet mixture. Mix until batter is smooth, then swirl in fudge sauce.
 Line a muffin tin (12 count) with liners and using a ¼ cup measure, add batter to each cup. (I use an ice cream scoop.)

 Bake for 15-18 minutes. 

I got 14 cupcakes, and I discovered that once the batter sits for 18 minutes (second batch), these puffed up even higher.   Just a side note. Let cool before frosting.

Oh yeah, frosting!

Cream butter and peanut butter together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add powdered sugar with mixer on low speed and gradually add milk and vanilla extract. Add a pinch of salt and mix until frosting is smooth. If too thick, add more milk; if too thin, add more sugar.  This is your basic buttercream frosting.  Me, the Anti-Peanut butter lover took a taste.  Sweet, but not cloyingly sweet. The peanut butter flavor there, but it didn't go "Pow"!  Hmmm...

 For years, I frosted cupcakes with a small butter knife. I think that's a royal pain, if you ask me.  I like to pipe my frosting with a pastry bag.  I use a Wilton 1M Star tip with a disposable bag.  It's much easier to fill a pastry bag when you place it into a tall glass, then fold the top of the bag over it, like a cuff.  Fill the bag, squeeze the top and squeeze over a bowl to remove any excess air. There!  Now here's something cool I learned from "How Sweet It Is"... and it's sweet!

Plunge the tip into the cupcake and squeeze, while lifting up...

There ya go!  Frosting filled cupcakes.  Easy!

Squeeze and swirl the frosting... there!  Quick and easy...

A few jimmie sprinkles or some shaved chocolate would be pretty. But, we have that fudge sauce...
The squeeze bottle works well (but drizzling with spoon can work)... slowly...

Come to mama!

I like!

The chocolate cupcake recipe has some very stiff competition, because I am in-love with my Moist Chocolate Cake recipe.  I don't like dry cupcakes... well, who does? How do you eat your cupcake?  Do you pull off the bottom and put it on top-- and eat your cupcake like a sandwich? Just curious... as that's how I do it. I want an even ratio of frosting to cake, you see. 

Well, look!  I won't have to do that with this frosting technique  I have frosting inside, and on top.  Oh dear, my sweet tooth is throbbing and at full attention.  I have to taste this...

VERDICT:   Oh, help me, Rhonda!  The cake is incredibly moist.  It's baby soft, and tender, and the chocolate flavor is spot on.  The frosting-- I'm toast.  Really, this is not what I had planned expected.  It's phenomenal.  Seriously, I'm diggin' the peanut butter and chocolate combo.  I'm in serious trouble, here.   My plan to bake a resistible dessert was foiled.  I took most of the cupcakes to the office and they were gone in a nano-second.  I had some very happy peanut butter and chocolate lovin' co-workers.  Winner!

This cupcake has altered my ho-hum attitude about peanut butter.  Yes, I'd make this again...and again...but only for potlucks or bake sales.  I can't have them in my kitchen, or I can't promise that I'd have any kind of self-control.  You need these in your life. Even if just once...


Here's the printable recipe:

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Mar-a-Lago Turkey Burger

I think my cooking mojo is back.  I have a backlog of several recipes that I need to post, this coming week. For some reason, during the summer months, we do a lot of grilling.  We don't get very fancy, really-- because we're both tired when we get home from work.  Most any kind of well-seasoned grilled meat, and whatever vegetables are in our fridge, makes a perfect meal for us.  The meals I've been making are so simple and unfussy, that I don't feel it's interesting enough to blog about them.  Hence, I get a little lazy about making a new summer dinner recipe.   I think that it's Fall and Winter, when I start to create different soup recipes, braised dinners, stews and home baked breads.  So, I found myself wanting to break free of the grilling ho-hums.

We enjoy grilling red meat, but I try not limit how often we do that.  I starting searching through my saved recipes and I settled on this turkey burger recipes. What seems like ages ago, I had bookmarked this  recipe that was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show.  (Would you believe I still haven't watched her final three shows?  That's how little time I have to watch television, these days.)  I digress.  Oprah was raving how she had the best turkey burger, ever, at Donald Trump's private club in Palm Beach.   The Donald and his chef were invited to share the recipe with Oprah's viewers.  I decided to finally see for myself what all the hoopla was about this recipe:

The first step is to sauté  scallions, celery and apples in the canola oil until tender. Let cool.

The ground turkey is then seasoned with salt & pepper, hot sauce and Major Grey's Chutney.  Only, my chutney comes from Trader Joe's.  Close enough.  Lemon zest and juice is also added. 

Because I'm rebellious, at times, I reversed the recipe directions and added the cooked veggies and apples last...and then some fresh chopped parsley.   I scaled the recipe down to make four patties. Turkey burgers can be a challenge to work with. They're very soft and can fall apart very easily. After pressing an indentation in the middle (a little Bobby Flay trick I learned), I borrowed something I've seen the fine folks at Cook's Illustrated do--I froze the patties for about 15 minutes.

The recommended grilling time is seven minutes per side, plus 5 minutes for the meat to "rest".  
 Because the patties were partially frozen, it took about an extra 4 minutes of grilling time.  My husband said that the patties were easy to work with, since they the freezer had firmed them. These were cooked to about 160F and they continued to cook as they rested, loosely covered in foil.

I slathered a bit of Poupon Mustard, a touch of mayo and a dab of chutney on the patties.  I picked one of our paltry tomatoes (we've had one of the coolest and overcast summers that I can ever remember) and some onion. Look closely and you'll see a golden raisin that was in the chutney. 

Of course, fries goes beautifully with burgers.  I made a new recipe for oven-roasted garlic fries and they were fantastic! (That recipe will be posted next.)

VERDICT:  Okay, I get it, Oprah.  This is a really good turkey burger!  The apples add a lot of moisture to the lean ground turkey, but you really don't taste them.  The lemon zest really came through-- and I think next time, I'd add a little less as I don't want that to be the dominant flavor. In fact, I think lime would be a great alternative!  The chutney adds a little bit of sweet to the mix, while the hot sauce kicks up the flavor a notch.  If I do say so myself, I need to get busy and make some more of my own peach chutney (that has red bell pepper) to this burger.  The bonus is that this is healthy burger, especially if I had whole wheat buns.  

I'll definitely add this recipe to our grilling menu.  Is this the best burger ever?   Ever is pretty absolute, so I don't use that word as liberally as others do.  I'd say it's a great burger, and I'm glad I can make my own at my humble home. I doubt that Donald Trump will be inviting me to dine at Mar-A-Lago.  How about you?

 A printable recipe is at the end of this post.

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