Friday, April 29, 2011

Dandelion is the new Kale - Simple Saturday

Dandelion Chips w/ Sea Salt
Kale Chips have been king long enough. Actually, I love Kale Chips and I've watched so many friends and kids who thought they didn't like greens end up snacking away on baked and seasoned Kale Chips by the dozen. If for any reason, you have not tried them - the simple recipe is the same as the one I've included here for Dandelion Chips. I have a bit of an obsession with Dandelions, as you can read about here (Dandelion Sun-dried Tomato Bread Pudding.) On my quest to see just how many products I can actually make with these loyal, fierce and underestimated miracle plants, I tried Dandelion Chips.

They bake up so easy and I can't wait to try them with different seasonings: chipotle powder, curry or maybe powdered chives (Mmmm.)As you might expect, Dandelion Chips are more delicate than the hardy and curly Kale, and the taste can be more bitter (a nice break from the too sweet and processed bagged chips.) I loved these with sea salt sprinkled all over. They melt in your mouth like dandelion air, and I think they'd make a perfect garnish on mashed potatoes, added to salads, or crushed and sprinkled over casseroles. Dandelion Chips:

1) Wash, dry and break dandelion greens into large pieces. Discard any thick ribs.

2) Drizzle a bit of Olive oil on the greens and toss with your hands to lightly coat all the leaves.

3) Place in a single layer onto a baking sheet. Bake at 350F for about 8-12 minutes. Keep an eye on them so not to burn.

4) Remove pan from the oven, sprinkle the leaves with seasonings (I used Sea Salt) and allow to cool. That's it - simple~ Let me know if you try Dandelion Chips and if you have ideas for other ways to use them. Have a dandy day :D

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Maple Mousse in Sweet Potato Chips with Bacon Crisps

Did I have you at "Maple Mousse"? Or was it "Sweet Potato Chip"? If one of those lip-licking titles got you, then I bet the "bacon" part made your finger hit the "go to" key, right?

Maple Mousse in Sweet Potato Chips
w/ Bacon Crisps
The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container.

I've been having a blast cooking along with the Daring Cooks and the Daring Bakers every month for almost 2 years. This month, for the first time, the two challenges worked together and asked us to create "edible containers." For the Daring Cooks we make savories, and now for the Daring Bakers we're making sweets.

Mousse is a very simple and validating dessert to make for yourself, family or guests. There is just a bit of prep, then you toss the whole thing in the refrigerator for when you need it. Mousse can be served in a glass by itself or garnished, and you can also use it as a filling for chocolates, cakes, cookies, or tarts.
I make a lot of small appetizers or nibbles in my catering life, and Sweet Potato chips are handy and healthy (not to mention delicious) edible containers. Bacon crisps for a garnish seemed like the perfect topper to the combo of maple and sweet potato. I'd love to say that I ate a few of these, but that would be a giant understatement.

RECIPE: Maple Mousse

1 cup (240 ml/ 8 fluid oz.) pure maple syrup (not maple-flavored syrup)

4 large egg yolks

1 package (7g/1 tbsp.) unflavored gelatine

1 1/2 cups (360 ml. g/12 fluid oz) whipping cream


1. Bring maple syrup to a boil then remove from heat.
2. In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and pour a little bit of the maple syrup in while whisking (this is to temper your egg yolks so they don’t curdle).

3. Add warmed egg yolks to hot maple syrup until well mixed.

4. Measure 1/4 cup of whipping cream in a bowl and sprinkle it with the gelatine. Let it rest for 5 minutes. Place the bowl in a microwave for 45 seconds (microwave for 10 seconds at a time and check it in between) or place the bowl in a pan of barely simmering water, stir to ensure the gelatine has completely dissolved.

5. Whisk the gelatine/whipping cream mixture into the maple syrup mixture and set aside.

6. Whisk occasionally for approximately an hour or until the mixture has the consistency of an unbeaten raw egg white.

7. Whip the remaining cream. Stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the maple syrup mixture. Fold in the remaining cream and refrigerate for at least an hour.

8. Remove from the fridge and divide equally among your edible containers.

Recipe: Sweet Potato Chips

1 large Sweet Potato (peeled and thin sliced with a mandoline)

1) Preheat oven to 350F, place slices on parchment lined baking sheet.
2) Bake for 8 minutes, remove slices to a small muffin tin or an egg crate ceramic (as seen above) and continue to bake for about 4-8 more minutes until crisp (they crisp more while cooling.)

(There is also a quick way to make Sweet Potato Chips in the microwave.)

Allow the Sweet Potato Chips to cool, then fill with cooled Mousse (using a pastry bag and star tip), then garnish with crisp bacon pieces.

Thanks for stopping by :D

Thursday, April 21, 2011

StoveTop Smoked Fish - A Crowd Pleaser

Stovetop Tea Smoked Fish done at home is like camping with a little style and... less dirt in your food. When I serve this at a party or bring it to a friend's house it's always accompanied by "wows and woos". There's always at least one guy who can't believe I smoked it myself, at home, with tea.
Tea Smoked Black Cod
I've written about Tea Smoked Salmon and in that post I gave a picture-filled HOW-TO using just foil and a casserole pot. This time I used a cast iron stove-top smoker (by Emerilware) that I've had for awhile. If you're interested (and there are a lot of uses for one), I found a different style at Chef's Catalog "StoveTop Smoker" right here.

(tea/rice/brown sugar/seasonings)
The other day I was thrilled to be a part of a video shoot for I Love Blue Sea - an online site for ordering fresh sustainable seafood. Along with Rachel at Fuji Mama, Allison at Sushi Day, and Greg at Sippity Sup, we prepared several recipes for I Love Blue Sea and they'll be running on that site soon (stay tuned.) When the shoot was over there were several seafood items left for us to take home with us. I did not have to be asked twice and I scored a gorgeous Black Cod and a dozen Green Lipped Mussels (post to come soon.) One of the handy facts about Tea Smoked Fish is that you can keep it in the refrigerator for a couple days and it still has a deep smokey flavor and since Black Cod is a moist, fatty fish with tons of good things going on for you-- - the thick flaky fish holds in the moisture and the earthy tea seasonings the whole time. I pretty well stayed to the same recipe as for the Tea Smoked Salmon, so check out that post HERE for details, along with the pics posted.

Black Cod Fish Tacos with Fried Radish
Thanks for stopping by, and smoke on! :D

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Stand Up Eggs w/ Smoked Salmon Mousse & Poppy Seed Rim - Daring Cooks 4/11

Is there anything better than food that comes in it's own edible container? There are no dishes to clean-up, no trash to add to the earth, nothing to put away for the next time.
Stand Up Eggs
w/ Smoked Salmon Mousse & Poppy Seed Rims

Renata of Testado, Provado & Aprovado! was our Daring Cooks’ April 2011 hostess. Renata challenged us to think “outside the plate” and create our own edible containers!

Does anyone enjoy washing dishes? I can't imagine it. Some times I enjoy the moments to myself, the feeling of wrapping up and finishing a food event. But, the literal washing the dishes is one of my least favorite chores.

When I was a kid, my single mom who worked all day and then took care of my brother and I, could have really used me having a better attitude about doing dishes. Instead, I would plead and negotiate to do ANYTHING (mop floors, take out trash, beat the rugs...), anything except the dishes. I had my reasons. To save water my Mom would wash the dishes in a giant plastic tub in the sink and sometimes I couldn't tell what was floating around in that tub of water. Then, my hand would hit something (maybe wet bread) and I'd turn into a completely grossed-out already moody pre-teen distraught with disgust. Oh, the drama.

In my fresh catering jobs, clients love to have the "food in food" items because it means less clean-up cost and neater service. I, obviously, enjoy developing "food in food" because when I take a look at my recipes there are quite a few to choose from:

Prosciutto cups
with goat cheese and figs

Beer Cheddar Soup in Mini Boule

Cucumber Cups
with melon

Meat Pies

Vol au Vents
with various fillings

Apple Bowl w/ Curry Soup

Eggs w/ Ricotta in Sweet Potato Petals

Napa Cabbage Bowl of Black Rice

and now - the classic Southern idea of stuffed boiled eggs, but with a sophisticated take using Smoked Salmon Mousse, Poppy Seed rims and standing them up tall.

These have a little prep time to them, but for a party of just a few it makes a nice showing and you make up for the loss time with less clean-up. Everybody say Yay!
Also check out these appetizers: “Get Grillin’ with Family Fresh Cooking and Cookin’ Canuck, sponsored by Ile de France Cheese, Rösle, Emile Henry, Rouxbe and ManPans.”

RECIPE: Stand Up Eggs with Smoke Salmon Mousse and Poppy Seed Rims

6-8 Eggs Soft boiled (peeled, tops cut off and yolks removed - a little sliver off the bottom helps them to stand)
4 oz Smoked Salmon (Tea Smoked Salmon or Lox)
4 oz. Cream Cheese (room temp)
2 Tbls. Heavy Cream
1 Tbls. Dried Dill
1/4 tsp Paprika
salt/pepper to taste

1) Hold the eggs chilled while making the mousse.
2) In a small food processor add the salmon chopped, cream cheese, heavy cream, dill, paprika and salt/pepper. Blend all ingredients to a smooth, thick consistency. Add more cream if too thick.
3) Pipe the mousse into the eggs through a pastry bag with a star attachment. Garnish with fresh dill or a sliver of smoked salmon.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Visit to Hatfields Restaurant - and a Re-make of Brown Butter Cauliflower

When I experience a restaurant that is worth my money, worth my time and worth my praise - I like to tell you about it. I also like to attempt a re-creation of one of their dishes and pass it along to your kitchen.

This worthy restaurant is called
Hatfields. And, one of my favorite dishes from there is a Brown Butter Roasted Cauliflower with Golden Raisins, Sauteed Plantains, and Toasted Almonds on a Parsley Root Puree (below is my recipe for the remake.)

My husband and I used to enjoy Hatfields when it was a small cottage opened by the husband and wife team of Quinn and Karen Hatfield. I was excited, last year, when they opened their larger place.

(Amuse bouche: Crab Salad, 1st course: Raw marinated Hiramasa, Black Cod with Curry Toast Crust)

Most of us know (even if it's only from Top Chef's Restaurant Wars) that opening a new restaurant or even keeping one open is difficult.
In fact, 85% of restaurants close within the first 5 years. The work is your life, and often your whole savings. When one does well, it deserves applause. And when a restaurant creates, serves and sustains quality food and attitude, it really deserves our support.

(Seared Diver Scallop w/ Vanilla Saffron Sauce, Brown Butter Cauliflower, Croque Madame w/ Sashimi, prosciutto and a quail egg.)

I'm not forgetting how many things need our attention and help around the world right now. It's not a "more than other" issue, just an also one. Independent restaurants are very often owned by people, couples and families who are risking it all to follow their dream of creating food and a feeling of fun, pleasure and escape for all who enter. Frankly, I still miss a little of the "out on the porch at our little place" feel that we enjoyed at the original Hatfield's, but I let that go once my attention is hypnotized by the "all to see" wall of glass that exposes the busy, working kitchen (including the owner/chef personally taking care of his creations.)

Since the room is cozy (the booths modern yet soft) and our server knowledgeable, attitude free and stealth, it gave us the freedom to relax and sink into our own world of moans and murmurs with each perfectly flavored nibble.

(Pan Roasted Duck Breast w/ cherries & pistachio pesto, Slow Cooked Short Rib)

A couple times, we thought it took just a tad too long between courses, but the bread and herbed butter was a quiet and constant delivery. My husband and I finished the meal feeling like we had been cared for, had just the right privacy to reconnect with each other after a tedious week of work, and quaintly guided through our culinary choices.

(Chocolate Caramel Semifreddo with Apple Miso Ice Cream and Coconut Custard "Macaroon" with Passion Fruit Sorbet)

That is worth paying for, that is worth applause, that is worth returning to, again.

The Mignardise (a tiny sweet served at the end of the meal with coffee) was a Tart Pomegranate Pate de Fruit. A perfect sugared jelly drop that caused my mouth to pucker, like a kiss.

RECIPE: BROWN BUTTER CAULIFLOWER w/ Sauteed Plantains, Toasted Almonds and Raisins on Parsnip Puree -
1 head Cauliflower
Olive oil
salt/pepper to taste
4 Tbls. Butter
1 ripe Plantain - peeled and cut into bite-size cubes
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup raisins
2 Parsnips - peeled and cut into chunks
2 cups milk (or coconut milk)
Fresh parsley

1) For the Parsnip Puree: Pour the milk into a saucepan on Med. heat, add the chunks of parsnip, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer for about 15-20 minutes. When the parsnips are tender, pour all into a bowl and using an immersion blender (or put in food processor) puree. Season to taste and keep warm. If too thick, add more warmed milk.2) Break apart the cauliflower into large chunks and florets, place them on a parchment covered sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt/pepper, and roast in an oven preheated to 350F for 15 minutes.
3) While the cauliflower is roasting, place the butter in a skillet on the stove and melt on Low/Med, then turn heat up to Med. and cook (carefully) until the butter is a golden brown. It will start slow, but happen fast, so watch it well.

4) Pour the browned butter over the partially roasted cauliflower, toss to coat, then replace the pan in the oven and roast for about 10-15 more minutes. Remove and keep warm.5) In the same pan you browned the butter, add a drizzle of olive oil to the residue of butter and reheat the pan on Med/High. Saute the cubes of plantains allowing them to brown well. Then add the almonds and raisins to the skillet and toss together.6) Serve the Cauliflower on a bed of the Parsnip Puree, spoon the plantains, almonds and raisins on top, garnish with fresh cut parsley.

** Hatfields served this on Parsley Root Puree, but I couldn't find that at the farmer's market so went with Parsnips. We loved this recipe, not sure if it's even near Hatfield's - but it was fun trying to remake a great taste. I hope you'll have the chance to try this fine restaurant.