Search My Recipes

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

'Twas the Night Before Christmas...

...While visions of sugar cookies danced in their heads.

Sugar rules the universe this time of year, the only time I will consume as many sweets as I want without abandon.  Isn't that the reason we have New Years resolutions?  The holidays are also an excuse to bust out my most decadent confections to share with friends and family.

These sweet, spicy and slightly salty scones (thanks to my vanilla salt) are perfect for my family's breakfast brunch.  This is also a great way to use up your leftover eggnog.   I have fond memories of my mom baking scones on the weekends and serving them with honey butter.  I'm going to make a spiced butter to slather all over my holiday scones instead.

If you're a huge fan of salty-sweet things like me, you need to make your own vanilla salt.  Split a couple of vanilla beans, stick them in a container of kosher or sea salt.  Let it do it's thing, and you have something so magical and so delightful it will take all your holiday treats to the next level.  Try sprinkling on your next batch of chocolate chip cookies, or even dress-up those brownies from the box.

Christmas Brunch Eggnog Scones
2 3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 TSP salt
1 TBS baking powder
1/2 TSP nutmeg
1/2 TSP cinnamon
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 large egg
1 TSP vanilla extract
3/4 cup cold eggnog
1 TBS eggnog
1/2 TSP vanilla salt
2 TBS sugar

Spiced Butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 TSP cinnamon
1/2 TSP nutmeg
Pinch of vanilla salt

Whisk together dry ingredients.  Cut in butter until crumbly.  In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, vanilla and eggnog.  Add liquid ingredients to the butter mixture and stir until the dough begins to hold together.  Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface.  Divide into two parts and roll to 3/4" thickness.  Cut into wedges or rounds.  Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving 1/2" space between each.  Brush each scone with eggnog and sprinkle with sugar mixture.  For best results, place in the freezer for 30 minutes before baking.  Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.

Combine butter, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Place in a ramekin to mold.  Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

How To Win At Thanksgiving

It's no wonder that Thanksgiving is a huge day for football.  Turkey Day is just like the big game - it takes strategy, teamwork, and star players.  Maybe there are some trick passes and tackling involved too if you're hardcore.  This year I'm thankful to have two Thanksgivings, but that means twice the cooking!  I'm bringing out the big guns with MVP sides and desserts that put a twist on the classics, but are sure to please.

Sweet Potato and Swiss Chard Gratin
Adopted from Smitten Kitchen
1/2 stick of butter, divided
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 LBS swiss chard, leaves and stems separated and cut into 1 inch pieces
Pinch of nutmeg
2 cups heavy cream
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 TBS flour
2 LBS yams, peeled and cut into 1/8 inch rounds
1 TBS parsley
1 TBS thyme
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 1/4 cups grated taleggio cheese

Let's face it, sides are the true winners of Thanksgiving.  It's a risk busting out a new side dish when my family already has so many favorites, but I knew I couldn't go wrong with something cheesy and starchy.   The addition of a little green from swiss chard doesn't hurt in the sea of beige either.  Like any casserole, you can easily pull this together the night before (as I did) to save time in the morning.

Cook onions in 2 TBS of butter in a heavy 8-quart pot over low heat.  When onions are soft add the swiss chard stems, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste.  Cook for about 8 minutes until tender, but not browned.  Increase heat and add the leaves a handful at a time, stirring until wilted.  Season with more salt and pepper and transfer to a colander to drain well, pressing out any excess liquid with the back of a spoon.

Combine cream and garlic in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer; keep warm.  Melt 2 more TBS of butter in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in flour.  Cook roux for 1 minute than slowly add cream mixture.  Continue whisking for 1 minute.  Season with salt and pepper.

To assemble, butter a 9x13 baking dish.  Spread half the sweet potatoes across the bottom of the dish. Season with salt and pepper, add 1/4 of the herb mixture and 1/4 cup of cheese.  Spread half the greens mixture.  Add more salt and pepper, herbs, and cheese.  Pour over half the cream sauce.  Continue with another layer of sweet potato, salt, pepper, herbs and cheese and the remaining greens, salt, pepper and herbs.  Pour the rest of the sauce, pressing down vegetables so they are submerged, and add the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese.

When ready to bake, place in a 400 degree oven and bake for one hour, or until golden and bubbly.  Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Sweet, Savory and Tart Cranberry-Dried Cherry Relish
1 12 oz package of fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup sugar
1 TSP fresh rosemary, minced
2 cup water

There is absolutely nothing wrong with canned cranberry sauce; I grew up with the stuff.  Making your own cranberry sauce or relish is almost just as easy though.  Plus, there are a variety of ways you can dress it up to make your own special condiment.  I'm adding dried cherries and rosemary to mine, but ginger and cloves or orange zest and mint would also be excellent combinations.

In a large, heavy saucepan, combine cranberries, cherries, sugar, rosemary and water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 25 minutes, or until berries have burst and liquid is syrupy.  Transfer to a bowl or airtight container if made in advance.

Apple Galette With Apple Cider Caramel
Basic Pastry:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 TBS sugar
1/2 TSP salt
10 TBS cold butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1/4-1/2 cup ice water
1 1/2 LBS apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
2 TBS sugar
1 TBS brown sugar, packed
2 TBS flour
1/8 TSP salt
1/2 TSP nutmeg
1/2 TSP cinnamon
1 TBS butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 TBS heavy cream
1 cup apple cider
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 stick of butter

I'm also really going against tradition and departing from my classic apple pie, but this galette is way easier to make and the addition of my apple cider caramel is key.  Have some left over cider? Make it now and pour over everything.

To make the dough, whisk together flour, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl.  using a pastry cutter or a fork, cut in the butter until it the mixture looks like rice.  Slowly add the water a tbs at a time until the dough begins to come together.  Refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix apples, sugar, brown sugar, salt, flour, nutmeg and cinnamon in a separate bowl.

Roll out crust into a 14 inch diameter round.  Transfer onto the prepared baking sheet. Fill the crust with the apple mixture, leaving a 2 inch border around the edges.  fold over the crust edges.  dot the apples with the butter and brush the crust with cream.  Bake for 40 minutes.   Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 10-20 minutes, or until the crust is golden.  Transfer to a cooling rack.

For the caramel cook cider over medium heat, stirring often for about 10 minutes or until reduced to 1/4 cup.  Stir in brown sugar and butter.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Cook for 2 more minutes.  Let cool completely.  Can be stored in the fridge for up to one week.  Reheat in the microwave.

When ready to serve, drizzle warm caramel over the galette.

Wishing you a very delicious Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Hungry Yuppies Honeymoon

So how do two hungry lovebirds choose the perfect honeymoon destination?  Obviously great food is a top requirement, with an abundance of tropical drinks coming in at a close second.  Kaua'i seemed to be the least likely foodie destination, but this tropical paradise is packed with culinary surprises.  We experienced high-end dining worthy of any NYC neighborhood (with prices to match), unassuming food trucks, local specialties (hello, shave ice), and some of the freshest fish and fruit we've ever had in our lives.

Baracuda served up beautiful cocktails and addictive tapas.  Humboldt fog with apple and local honeycomb was the perfect end to our meal.

The Dolphin in Hanalei Bay, wowed us with its sushi rolls.  Just look at that beautiful ahi!

If you have not experienced shave (not shaved) ice,  imagine the best snow cone you've ever had and multiply that by a thousand.  Our favorite spots (The Fresh Shave and Tege Tege) featured all natural flavor syrups and fresh ingredients.

We were spoiled every morning with a homemade breakfast cooked by our host Michael, complete with super fresh tropical fruit.  I also learned how to properly serve a mango!

To make the most of the long journey between New York and Kaua'i it only made sense to make a stop in Napa for a 2.5 day blitz of amazing food and wine.  Everywhere you look there are vineyards, cafes, restaurants, and specialty food shops.  My idea of heaven!

After a painful red eye, the Sunflower Cafe's coffees were more than a welcome sight.

A drive up the Sonoma Valley led us to Kunde Estates which revitalized us with it's stunning views and wine.

The Model Bakery and their legendary english muffins filled our bellies before a day of wine tours and tastings in Napa.

A picnic with sandwiches from Genova Deli paired perfectly with Bremer's reds.

While reservations at the French Laundry eluded us, we happily settled for Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc, which did not disappoint.  Best part of the meal?  Scoring the recipe for that beautiful steak jus (more on that later).    

Traveling has always been a source of great inspiration and fresh perspective.  After all the adventures adventures, I could not wait to to get back to my kitchen!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon?

This item is a pantry staple that I always try to keep at least two different varieties of on hand at all times.  Sure, it's great between two slices of bread, but this versatile condiment is so much more.  If you haven't guessed already, I'm talking about the humble, but mighty mustard.*  I've been on a mustard kick lately and have been using it a lot in my dishes to add complexity and brightness. Perfect for any spring dinner.

*I'm talking about the good stuff here people (Dijon, whole grain, etc.), not the yellow or sticky sweet honey goop, which in my opinion should be banned from society.  My favorite?  Grey Poupon's Country Dijon which is a nice mix between Dijon and whole grain.

Quinoa Cakes with Smoked Salmon
1-1/4 cups cooked quinoa
2 eggs
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 TBS green garlic, minced (you can use garlic cloves or scallions if you can't find)
1 TBS fresh dill, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

For the sauce:
1 TBS whole grain mustard
Juice of half a lemon
1 heaping TBS fresh dill, finely chopped
3 TBS olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

To serve:
3 OZ smoked salmon
More fresh dill for garnish

Bagels and lox are strictly brunch fare around here, but swapping the the bagel for a quinoa cake and the cream cheese for mustard sauce makes smoked salmon much more dinner-appropriate.  OK, you can easily enjoy these for brunch too.  Plus, you can make the quinoa cakes a day or two before hand.  Just brown in a frying pan before serving.  Super simple, and so fancy-looking.

Combine the first five ingredients in a large bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.  Form into six patties (it helps to wet your hands here).  Drizzle with some olive oil and bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.

To prepare the sauce, mix mustard, lemon juice, and dill in a small bowl.  Slowly whisk in olive oil until combined.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

When ready to serve top each quinoa cake with salmon and a drizzle of mustard sauce.  Garnish with more dill.

Quinoa Stuffed 'Shrooms with Mustard Shallot Dressing
For the dressing:
1 TBS whole grain mustard
1 TBS Dijon mustard
2 TBS sherry vinegar
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

4 portobello mushroom caps
Olive oil
1 TBS green garlic, minced
1 small zucchini, diced
1 cup cooked quinoa
2 TBS parsley, chopped plus more for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste
3 OZ goat cheese

I make a large batch of this dressing and bring into work to dress-up my take-out salads, because who knows what's in those pre-packaged dressings!  But don't limit this flavor-packed vinaigrette to just chilled greens, it also works fabulously with roasted portobello mushrooms stuffed with quinoa and goat cheese.

For the dressing, Whisk together the mustards, vinegar, and shallot until combined.  Slowly whisk in oil until combined.  Season with salt and pepper.

Remove stems from mushrooms caps.  Drizzle with olive oil and roast at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, or just before they start to collapse.

Heat more olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat.  Add green garlic and zucchini.  Cook until zucchini begins to brown and soften.  Stir in quinoa and parsley.  Season with salt and pepper.

When the mushrooms are ready, remove from the oven and top with the quinoa mixture.  Add a few crumbles of goat cheese to each and put back into the oven until cheese starts to melt.  To serve, drizzle the dressing over each and garnish with a few sprigs of parsley.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Rock The Casbah

Watercress & Chickpea Soup with Rose Water & Ras el Hanout
Adopted from Jerusalem
Serves 4
2 Medium carrots, cut into 3/4 inch dice
3 TBS olive oil
2-1/2 TSP ras el hanout
1/2 TSP cinnamon
1 Can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 medium onion, sliced thin
2-1/2 TBS fresh grated ginger
2-1/2 Cups vegetable stock
7 OZ watercress
3-1/2 OZ spinach leaves
2 TSP sugar
1 TSP rose water
Greek yogurt for serving

This has been a particularly brutal winter filled with lots of snow, ice and polar vortexes.  I usually love this season, but these sub-zero temps have been killer, so I've found myself dreaming of warmer destinations a lot more lately.  Since our next big trip is still a ways off, I'm taking a quick journey to the middle east this week with two amazing dishes filled with warming spices.

When temperatures finally crept back up to 30 degrees I decided to take a trip down to Kalustyan's specialty market in NYC.  If you've never been, you need to go now!  It's a mecca for Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine with aisles packed with exotic spices and food products.  I picked up rose water for my interesting soup, harissa for my pork and plenty of ras el hanout - an essential spice.   

Ras el hanout and rose water lend their aromatic qualities to this surprisingly simple to make soup.  Jerusalem by Yotem Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi is an extraordinary cookbook with vivid stories and beautiful photography, just sitting down with this book alone makes me feel like I've been transported to this storied city.  The idea of putting watercress, chickpeas, ras el hanout and rose water together may sound a bit strange, but it works.  You can certainly leave out the rose water, but it really makes this soup extra special.  

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Mix carrots and half the chickpeas with 1 TBS of oil, ras el hanout, cinnamon and a healthy pinch of salt.  Spread flat on parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil over medium high heat in a large pot.  Add onion and ginger and sauté until onions are soft and holder, about 10 minutes.  Add remaining chickpeas, stock, sugar, watercress and spinach.  Bring to a boil and allow greens to wilt.

Blend in a food processor or blender until smooth.  Stir in the rose water and season with salt as needed.  Set aside while the carrot mixture cooks, and reheat when ready to serve. 

To serve divide the soup among bowls and top with hot carrots and chickpeas.  Top with 2 TBS of yogurt.

Moroccan Pork Cubanos with Pickled Vegetables & Harissa Cream
Adopted from The Top Chef Cookbook
Serves 6
4 LBS pork shoulder
6 Cups low-sodium chicken and/or veal stock
2 TBS ras el hanout
3 Cups red wine vinegar
1 Cup sugar
1 TBS fennel seeds
4 Carrots, julienne
1 Red onion, thinly slices
3 Jalapenos, thinly sliced
2 TBS harissa
1/2 Cup Greek yogurt
Warm pita bread for serving

This sweet, spicy dish puts a twist on Latin street food with Moroccan flavors.  While you may not find this sandwich on the streets of Marrakech  I can totally see this being served out of a food truck somewhere in Williamsburg.  This pork is extremely addictive, especially  with the pickled vegetables and harissa cream, but it's great on it's own too.  

Tackling a massive pork shoulder seemed intimidating at first, but this dish is pretty easy to master.  All you need is some muscle and lots of time.  I actually made mine in my pressure cooker, which was even easier and much faster.  If making in a pressure cooker, just reduce stock to 1 cup, cook on high pressure for 90 minutes after browning.

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.  Season pork generously with salt and ras el hanout.  Heat skillet over high heat.  Brown meat on all sides until well browned.  Place in a large roasting pan with the stock and 1/2 cup water.  Roast for 4-5 hours, or until the pork pulls apart easily with a fork.

Set the cooked pork aside and pour the cooking juices into a sauce pan.  Reduce on high heat until 3/4 cup remains.  Shred the meat and toss with sauce.

For the vegetables bring vinegar, sugar, fennel seeds and 3 cups on water to a boil, string to dissolve the sugar.  Place cut vegetables in a heatproof bowl and pour over hot vinegar mixture.  Cover and let steam for 20 minutes.  Pour out all but 1 cup of the liquid and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

To serve, mix harissa with yogurt.  Pile warm pitas with pulled pork and top with pickled vegetables and yogurt mixture.

Popular Posts

About Me

My photo
The Hungry Yuppies, Annie and Rich, are a young couple from CT who are self-proclaimed foodies. Annie is the chef, and Rich is her willing taste tester. Juggling a full time job in the city wasn't going to get in the way of Annie's love for cooking. It's about eating well whether you have just 30 minutes on a Monday night, or all day on a rainy Sunday.