• Cooking to a Desired Temperature

    by  • July 11, 2013 • 0 Comments

    I am about to tell you about my secret weapon, so shhhhh… don’t tell anyone. Okay, I can’t stand it, tell everyone you know!! Cooking doesn’t have to be stressful and I hope more than anything you will enjoy it and have fun with it. So, go get yourself one of these magic internal thermometers at Target and you will cook things to the perfect temperature every time. Piece of cake, or chicken, or whatever it is.

    One important thing about this thermometer, you have to remember to put the alert “on”. This way, when you get busy with another task, this thing will loudly remind you that you have cooked yet another thing to perfection and it is time to take your masterpiece out of the oven.

    Here is the other important thing. You have to use it. I know, it’s one more thing to wash. It’s worth the 30 seconds, trust me. What would be crazy is to waste your precious time and money on cooking a nice meal for it to not come out perfect. The best way to make this happen, give this new life saver a prime piece of kitchen real estate right next to the oven. Convenience is a crazy thing…

    To make it even easier, you can print out this guide and tape it to a cabinet inside for the ultimate fast reference to internal temperatures. Voila, system in place, now we let the success come to us.

    Desired Temperature Guide

     

    20130711-011629.jpg

    Cumin Baked Organic Salmon with Sautéed Turmeric Root Vegetables

    by  • July 7, 2013 • 0 Comments

    20130706-195024.jpg

    I wasn’t feeling very good today and decided we all needed something to get us back on track after the 4th of July holiday. This is fast and with the right tools and about 45 minutes you will have a meal that sustains your brain and body.

    20130706-195839.jpg

    Prep your root vegetables by rinsing and peeling everything. Then heat a couple tablespoons of grape seed oil (olive oil is fine) in a nonstick sauté pan. Add three smashed cloves of garlic to flavor the oil. I had 1 butternut squash, 4 small carrots, 3 parsnips, 2 Yukon gold potatoes and some beet greens. Use whatever you have. The important thing is just to put the stuff in that will take longer to cook while you chop the other prepped stuff up. I did the squash first, potatoes, then parsnip, then carrot and didnt put the beet greens in until the other veg was almost cooked. Season with kosher salt, pepper, turmeric, cumin and garlic powder. Toss with a little maple syrup at the end if you like and done.

    20130706-200258.jpg

    Set the oven at 400 degrees and set your internal thermometer for 125 degrees fahrenheit. With the salmon on an aluminum covered sheet pan, skin side down, drizzle with grape seed oil and then dust with kosher salt, black pepper, cumin and garlic. Cook until it reaches 125 to 130 internal temp.

    20130706-200142.jpg

    My current favorite spices for salmon and roasted veggies.

    20130706-200234.jpg

    Season liberally, especially the cumin.

    20130706-200217.jpg

    125 degrees is a good internal temperature for most fish on the medium rare side.  It’s completely fine if it’s a few degrees more.  Promise not tell… actually, I take that back, TELL EVERYONE!..This thermometer is my secret weapon.  I can do other things in the galley and when it’s perfectly cooked it goes off something fierce and ta da! perfectly cooked everything all the time :)

    20130706-200159.jpg

    After it rests about 5 minutes, you can section the cooked fish with a sharp knife and then a spatula will easily lift each piece right away from the skin. Finish with cilantro or parsley, a little green goes a long way.

    Before…

    20130706-200447.jpg

    After!!

    20130706-200516.jpg

     

    Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes with Summer Corn Salsa

    by  • July 4, 2013 • 0 Comments

    Crab Cakes:

    1 pound jumbo or colossal lump crab meat, drained

    1 cup panko bread crumbs

    1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise

    1/4 cup fresh chopped herbs, scallions and sweet peppers

    Juice of 1 lemon

    2 egg white

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

    1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning

    2 teaspoons canola oil for sautéing

     

    Corn Salsa:

    3 ears corn

    1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

    2 tablespoons light balsamic vinaigrette

    *A note about ingredients: I prefer Phillips’ brand crab meat and either Jumbo Lump or Colossal will be wonderful.  This is worth the extra expense, believe me.  Also, Hellmann’s makes a great olive oil based mayo that bridges the gap between mayo traditionalists and health minded cook’s such as myself.  The herbs and peppers are flexible here, dill, parsley, basil, scallions, the wonderful sweet peppers from Florida and even cilantro are all perfectly interchangeable.  I strongly recommend making your light balsamic vinaigrette from the past post “A Little Guide to Vinaigrettes” but if you would prefer to purchase it, Newman’s Own makes a good dressing.

    1. To make crab cakes, combine crabmeat, breadcrumbs, mayo, herbs and peppers, lemon juice, egg whites, salt, Old Bay and black pepper in a large bowl. (Always use a bowl slightly larger than you think you will need.)  Mix well and shape into 8 patties.  The recipe can be made in advance to this point.

    2. To make corn salsa, cut corn kernals off the cob after you have cooked the corn.  I usually wrap the corn in wet paper towels and microwave it for about 1 minute per cob.  Transfer the kernels and any juice to a medium size bowl.  Add tomatoes, vinaigrette and mix well.  Add salt and pepper  and any additional herbs to taste.

    3. Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat until hot but not smoking.  You can test the hotness of a pan but sprinkling a SMALL amount of water, from a distance, into the pan and if it sizzles quickly – it is ready.  Add crab cakes to pan and cook for about 5 minutes per side or until golden.  Transfer to plates and top with corn salsa or serve alongside a spinach salad topped with the corn salsa.

    A variation you may enjoy is adding lemon or lime juice, sun dried tomato paste and some black pepper to mayo for a sun dried tomato remoulade.

     

     

    Homemade Buttermilk Popovers

    by  • February 28, 2013 • 0 Comments

     

    Freshly made popovers are a treat we look forward to.  They are even faster than you think!  The buttermilk ensures a light and flavorful vehicle for so many special combinations.  While I like to serve them hot from the oven with both sweet and savory options there is no end to what you can do with popovers.  The ingredients are simple, it’s the timing and technique that makes all the difference.  Consider it a nod to tradition and enjoy the simplicity.  This special recipe provides many smiles and even a nice 30 – 60 minute break for a cup of coffee or a morning run.  Popovers can also be found on many menus with Prime Rib and Au Jus.

    If you are having guests over, it’s a nice thought to display a menu in a picture frame.

    Here is an example of how I have presented them:

    Brunch

    Homemade Buttermilk Popovers

    sweet… butter, jam, honey

    savory…Fromage D’Affinoise, scrambled egg, chives

    ~

    Plum, Nectarine & Pear Medley

    Delice D’Argental and the mentioned Fromage D’Affinoise are a couple of brie style cheese that I highly recommend.  If you can’t get them at your local cheese shop, you can order them from my favorite Cheesemonger, Paul listed in the “Partners” tab.  Hot popovers, creamy cheese and Florida’s orange blossom honey are sensational.  This is a combination that actually inspires me, a person who hates to stop moving, to sit down and relish in life’s pleasures.  I can only hope it inspires you to do the same.

     

    Popovers

    Makes 12

    Ingredients

    4 eggs

    2 cups buttermilk

    2 cups all-purpose flour

    1 teaspoon kosher salt

    2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

    2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil (for muffin pan)

     

    In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together. Sprinkle the flour and salt over the egg/milk mixture. Whisk until the flour is just incorporated, then add the melted butter. Whisk the mixture together until it is smooth with a few bubbles on top. Cover with a clean dishtowel and let rest for 30 minutes to an hour.

    While the batter rests, preheat the oven to 450 degrees and place a dime size of oil in the cups of the pan. Place the prepared pan in the warming oven and allow it to heat with the oven while the batter continues to rest. **If you make a half batch, prepare the outer cups of the pan for the batter (leaving the center cups empty). Continue as normal.

    Once the batter has rested, as quickly as you can, remove the popover pan from the oven and divide the batter evenly between the prepared cups. Fill the cups about 1/8” to the top. Immediately place the pan back into the preheated oven and bake the popovers for 15 minutes; do not open the oven door. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for 15 minutes, or until the popovers are golden brown. Allow to cool for 3-5 minutes before serving. Serve hot.

     

     

     

    The Wonderful World of Cookies

    by  • September 14, 2012 • 0 Comments

    One Fast Cookie Dough … 3 Great Desserts – Bon Appetit!

    20120914-124759.jpg

    Here we serve Koulouraki with fresh apricots and Orange Blossom Honey.

    Koulourakia, Greek Easter Cookies

    Both of the cookies photographed here are from the same base recipe. It can be used in any variation or shape you like. See below for my favorite recipe for lemon bars in which this cookie dough makes an amazing bottom layer.

    Serves: 36 cookies

    Ingredients

    1 cup butter, at room temperature

    1/2 cup granulated white sugar

    2 eggs (reserve one yolk for glazing)

    1 tbsp juice and zest from one orange *lemon or meyer lemons work beautifully as well

    3 c flour, white all purpose flour

    1 tsp baking powder

    raw sesame seeds

    Preheat your oven to 350F. In a mixer, cream together room temp butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time so that mixture remains light, and mix until well incorporated. Add orange juice and beat well. With mixer on low speed, add dry ingredients slowly. Mix until dough is smooth. Continue with cookie preparation or wrap in plastic wrap and chill until ready to use.

    The snake shape was used traditionally in Greece to represent health & wellness, notice any similarities to the prescription emblem? To make this shape pinch off one inch balls and roll into a rope on a floured (and designated for only cooked food) cutting board. Twist the ends together on cookie sheet lined with a sil-pat or non stick cookie sheet. Leaving a good 1″ to 1 1/2″ space between them to allow for the slight rise that will occur during baking due to the baking powder. Beat together the remaining egg yolk with a couple tablespoons of water and brush onto cookies. Sprinkle lightly with sesame seeds. Bake for 15 minutes until just turning a light golden brown.
    20120914-125200.jpg

    Wild Maine Blueberry & Lemon Zest Cookie

    To make the fruit filled rounds use the same process except use your thumb to make a print in the middle instead of forming the dough into a rope. I had tons on tiny Maine blueberries at the time so I tossed those with a little flour and sugar and filled with those but they would be lovely with any king of fruit like apricots or even candied ginger. I also enjoy the combination of lemon and blueberry so I substituted lemon juice and zest for the orange in the base recipe. Also, I used Turbinado (Sugar in the Raw) to sprinkle on top instead of sesame seeds. You can see the versatility of this recipe already! Grandma would be proud : )

     

    Lemon Bars

    The warm filling should be added to the warm crust. You can bake the crust while you make the filling. Just be sure to have all your ingredient and equipment ready before. This recipe was adapted from my favorite cookbook The New Best Recipe by Cook’s Illustrated .

    Spray a square 9″ X 9″ baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Cut parchment paper or aluminum foil to make 9″ wide sheets that will overlap in a “T” shape to cover the bottom of the pan and ease removing the bars before cutting. Roll out cookie dough to a 9″ X 9″ shape and ease into pan and corners to a height of about 1/2″. Adjust an oven rack to middle rack and preheat to 350° F. Cook for 10 – 15 minutes until light brown.

    Filling

    7 large egg yolks, plus 2 large eggs

    1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar

    2/3 cup juice and 1/4 cup finely grated zest from 4 to 5 medium lemons *I loooove Meyer Lemons!

    pinch of salt

    4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

    3 tablespoons heavy cream

    In a medium nonreactive bowl, whisk together the yolks and whole eggs until combined, about 5 seconds. Add the granulated sugar and whisk until just combined, about 5 seconds. Add the lemon juice and zest and the pinch of salt; whisk until combined, about 5 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a medium nonreactive saucepan, add the butter pieces, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the curd thickens to a thin sauce-like consistency and registers 170 degrees on an instant read thermometer, about 5 minutes. I like to cook it unit it is slightly thicker this way I know it will result in a firm, neat cutting bar. Stir in heavy cream. Immediately pour the curd into the warm crust. Level the curd and work it into the corners with your wooden spoon.

    Bake until the filling is shiny and opaque and the center 3 inches jiggle slightly when shaken, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Remove the bars from the pan using the parchment or foil handles and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 2 1/4″ squares, wiping the knife clean between cuts as necessary. Dust confectionary sugar over the bars and chill if desired.

     

    Also see… Fresh Fig Cookies in July archives

     

    Cucumber, Radish & Dill Salad

    by  • September 13, 2012 • 0 Comments

    We enjoyed this refreshing salad today and it is a winner for a lot of cucumbers from the farm stand! To make this one I had about 4 cucumbers, 6 radish, about a quarter of red onion and about a quarter of a bunch of fresh dill. Just slice, chop and add rice wine vinegar to taste (the kind you put in sushi rice) and voila! Refreshing crisp salad perfect for any Summer afternoon. Bon Appetit!

    20120914-123327.jpg

    The King of Cheeses

    by  • July 5, 2012 • 1 Comment

    Blue Cheese!

    20120704-235059.jpg

    A pairing of maytag blue cheese, orange blossom honey comb and freshly cut lavender. Here, it is presented for a cheese course after dinner but can be easily adapted for hors d’oeuvres or part of a nice lunch with fresh pears.

    While based in Essex, Connecticut for the summer, I have been so lucky to cross paths with one of the most knowledgeable cheese connoisseurs and welcoming shop owners I have met to date. Paul and Sue Pertica have rekindled my love of specialty cheeses from around the world and inspired the addition of a cheese course to our daily menus onboard the yacht. The Cheeseshop of Centerbrook, CT is a must visit.

    On my last visit, Paul provided some interesting history about Maytag blue cheese…

    Turns out while Mr. Maytag (from the Maytag corporation) was traveling through France he was so taken with Roquefort blue cheese that he wanted to recreate it at home. Then, with the use of his local cattle and a different aging environment we now have the classic American Maytag blue cheese.

    20120914-203747.jpg

    Pear, Roquefort and Maple Glazed Walnut Salad

    The combinations in this salad are a true complement to each other. Crisp mixed greens, sliced d’anjou pears, creamy and tangy Roquefort and sweet walnuts… a salad lovers heaven. To make quick maple glazed walnuts: toast walnuts in nonstick sautée pan until fragrant and stir in a little (start with 1 tbsp) maple syrup. Toss to coat and add more syrup to taste. Using Grade A, real maple syrup is key. This is an ingredient we can not skimp on. Put the glazed walnuts right onto the salad before they all stick together. I like to put the walnuts on top of the greens already scattered with pears to provide more color contrast and visual depth within the finished dish. We love this salad with the light balsamic vinaigrette you can find in June’s post “A Little Guide to Vinaigrettes.”

    20120914-211127.jpg

    20120914-211146.jpg

    Blue Cheese Tasting of Maytag, Roquefort and Shropshire cheeses paired with Farm-picked Blackberry & Nectarine Crisp.

    It was during this cheese and dessert pairing in which we all recognized the true complement of fine blue cheeses and sweet undertones.