Monday, April 30, 2012

May 2012 Newsletter

Food for Thought:
As May approaches, it always reminds me of Mother's Day and of Momma no longer being here.
Unaware You’d Leave So Soon
By Paula George
November 5, 1993
The years flew swiftly by, and we didn’t take the time to grasp them within…
Yet memories of days gone by, will always remain within my heart.
Unaware you’d leave so soon, we should have spent those days more wisely.
You held my hand, taking unsure steps; falling down, you’d pick me up again.
Rebellious days through childhood and youth, your love did not depart.
Unaware you’d leave so soon, I would have spent the days more wisely.
From Momma to Grandma, you knew the love in each one’s grin…
And cherished them, as Grandma’s should, you carried that love within your heart.
Unaware you’d leave so soon, we should spend the years ahead more wisely.
Addie Alberta Taylor George
June 3rd, 1920 - November 5th , 1988

Baked Redfish (Creole Style)
1 large Redfish, cleaned and head removed
1 Tbsp. worcestershire
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp. ground red pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried dillweed
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 Tbsp. butter
1 cup finely chopped onions
1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup tomato, peeled seeded and diced
Preheat oven to 350.
Lightly grease 13x9 pan. Combine paprika, ground peppers,
garlic powder, dillweed, and salt. Spinkle both
sides of fish with worcestershire. Sprinkle both
sides with seasoning mixture. In skillet, melt
butter. Add peppers, onions, and celery. Saute for
5 minutes, add broth. Pour over fish. Top with
tomatoes. Cover with foil and bake for 30-45
minutes until fish flakes.
Serve with hot cooked rice to spoon sauce over.
Cajun Alfredo Sauce
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 12 oz pkg frozen seasoning blend
(the cajun trinity - onions, celery, bell pepper)
2 tsp chopped or minced garlic
1/8 tsp celery salt
16 oz heavy whipping cream
16 oz half/half 
8 oz shredded parmesan cheese
1 cup chopped provolone cheese
2 Tbsp. fresh snipped parsley
1tsp. Old Bay
Tony Chachere's or Zatarain's Creole Seasoning about 1-2 Tbsp. my preference
Saute vegetables in melted butter for 10 minutes...add remaining ingredients, cook until
thickened...if too thick, add milk until reaches desired consistency.
Serve over fettucine noodles topped with grilled chicken  or sauteed shrimp.
Crawfish Etouffee
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups chicken broth
1 tsp. thyme
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp. Creole seasoning
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 lbs. crawfish tails, thawed
2 cups sliced okra, thawed
Hot cooked rice
Tabasco Sauce
Grren onions, chopped for garnish.
In large dutch oven, combine oil, flour, salt and pepper. Cook over medium
heat, stirring constantly until dark roux (not burnt) forms. Add onions,
celery, peppers, and garlic. Saute 5-8 minutes. Add broth and spices; reduce
heat and simmer 30 minutes. Add crawfish and okra; simmer another 10
minutes,remove bay leaf and serve over hot cooked rice with Tabasco on the
Cajun Sauce
1 tablespoon butter
1 small yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
3/4 small red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 cup low-salt chicken broth
4 tablespoons julienned basil
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup sliced mushrooms
Salt and pepper
1 package bow-tie pasta, cooked according to package directions
Shaved Parmesan cheese, for serving
3/4 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup milk
4 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded 1/4 inch thick
1. Do ahead: Make the Cajun sauce by sautéing the yellow and red peppers, onion, garlic, and pepper flakes in the butter. Add the cream and chicken broth. Bring to a quick boil then lower the heat and simmer until reduced by one cup. Add the basil, Parmesan cheese, and mushrooms, then season with salt and pepper. Simmer a few minutes more, until all ingredients are combined. Set aside or refrigerate in a covered container and gently reheat the sauce when ready to use.
2. To make the chicken breasts, combine the bread crumbs, flour, and Parmesan cheese in a shallow bowl. Put the milk in a separate bowl. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Dip each breast in the bread crumb mixture, then in the milk, and one more time in the crumbs, pressing gently to make sure the crumbs stick. Sauté until golden brown on both sides and cooked through. Keep each breast warm until all are done.
3. To serve, toss the cooked pasta with the Cajun sauce, ladle into individual bowls, and top with a chicken breast. Garnish with a little more Parmesan cheese on top.
And this being my daughter's favorite dessert (there are very few), Momma always thinks of her when making this cake. My little girl is now a mother and grandmother!
Lemon Icebox Cake
1 (18.25 ounce) package lemon cake mix. Bake as directed, adding zest of one lemon to cake batter.
2 (14 ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 (12 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1.Bake the cake in 2 layers as directed on package. When cool, slice each layer in half horizontally, making 4 layers. In a medium bowl, combine the 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk with the fresh lemon juice. Reserve half of the mixture and set aside.
2.Use half of lemon milk mixture to put between layers. With the reserved mixture, gently fold in the whipped topping, and use to frost the entire cake. Chill overnight before serving.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Boston Cream Pie? Cake?

Last week a friend asked me to make a Boston Cream Cake for he and his roommate. They had looked all over town and no one knew what they were talking about...I asked, "Is it a yellow cake with a custard filling and topped with Chocolate? He said that was it. I had not had nor made one in years so I ventured through online recipes and settled on Joy of Baking's  version. I made the sponge cake and pastry cream as written other than baking the cake in 2 layers rather than splitting the one layer. I also used her chocolate ganache but added an extra ounce of semi-sweet chocolate.

There are two questions that immediately come to mind when you hear Boston Cream Pie.  One is "Why is it called a pie?", and the other is "Why the name 'Boston'?". To answer the first question of why "pie" instead of "cake", it is probably because colonists baked their cakes in pie tins as they did not own cake pans. As far as calling it Boston Cream Pie, the story began when a New York newspaper in 1855 published a recipe for a 'Pudding Pie Cake'. This recipe was similar to the Boston Cream Pie recipe of today except that it had a powdered sugar topping. From there we go to Boston where a man named Harvey D. Parker opened a restaurant called the Parker House Restaurant. On the menu was a 'Parker House Chocolate Pie', the recipe to which was similar to the New York newspaper recipe except a chocolate glaze had replaced the powdered sugar topping. We are not sure how it was renamed to 'Boston Cream Pie', but Bo Friberg in his book 'The Professional Pastry Chef' thinks "the name stems from the original title (in the New York paper) combined with the reference to Boston."

Read more:

Pastry Cream:
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
3 large egg yolks
1/8 cup (20 grams) all-purpose flour
Scant 3 tablespoons (20 grams) cornstarch (I used 6 Tablesppons cornstarch, no flour)
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Sponge Cake:
5 large eggs
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated white sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (60 grams) plain cake flour (not self-rising)
1/4 cup (35 grams) all purpose flour (I used 3/4 cup all purpose flour, no cake flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter
Chocolate Glaze:
4 ounces (120 grams) semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used 5 ounces)
1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon (13 grams) unsalted butter

Pastry Cream: In a medium-sized heatproof bowl, mix the sugar and egg yolks. In another bowl, sift or whisk the flour and cornstarch together and then add to the egg mixture, mixing until you get a smooth paste. 
Meanwhile in a small saucepan, bring the milk just to a boil over medium heat. Pour the milk slowly into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling. (Strain if necessary.) Then place the egg mixture into a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until boiling, whisking constantly. When it boils, continue to whisk constantly for another minute or so until it becomes thick. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla extract. Pour into a clean bowl and immediately cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming. Let the cream cool in the refrigerator for a few hours.
Sponge Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Butter and line the bottoms of two-8 inch (23 cm) round cake pans with parchment paper. 
While the eggs are still cold separate three of the eggs, placing the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another bowl. To the yolks, add the two remaining eggs. Cover the bowls with plastic wrap and allow the eggs to come to room temperature (about 30 minutes).
Meanwhile, in a bowl whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt. Place the milk and butter in a small saucepan, over low heat, and warm until the butter melts. Remove from heat, cover, and keep warm.
In your electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, (or with a hand mixer) beat the whole eggs and yolks and 1/2 cup (100 grams) of sugar on high speed until they are thick and fluffy (3-5 minutes) (when you slowly raise the beaters the batter will fall back into the bowl in a slow ribbon). Beat in the vanilla extract. 
In a clean bowl, with the whisk attachment, (or with a hand mixer) beat the egg whites at low speed until foamy. Increase the speed to medium-high and gradually add the remaining sugar, beating until soft, moist peaks form. Gently fold a little of the whites into the batter to lighten it, and then add the rest of the whites folding just until incorporated. Sift half of the flour mixture over the top of the batter and gently fold through with a rubber spatula or whisk. Sift the remaining flour over the batter and fold in.
Make a well in the center of the batter and pour the melted butter/milk mixture into the bowl. Gently but thoroughly fold the butter mixture into the batter. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake for about 18 - 20 minutes or until light brown and springy to the touch. (A toothpick inserted in the middle will come out clean.) Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Immediately run a spatula around the inside of the pans and then invert the cakes onto a wire rack. Remove parchment paper and re-invert. Cool completely.
Chocolate Glaze: Place the chopped chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. Bring the cream and butter just to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and gently stir until chocolate has melted. Set aside until it has thickened to pouring consistency.
Assemble: Place one cake layer on your serving plate, bottom side facing up. Spoon the pastry cream onto the cake, spreading to make an even layer. Place the second cake layer (top side up) onto the filling. Pour the glaze onto the center of the cake and, using an offset spatula, spread the glaze to the edges of the cake, allowing the glaze to drip down the sides. Let the cake sit until the glaze sets, about one hour. This cake is best eaten the same day it is made. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Chicken Chilaquiles

If time allows, this will be my use of "chiles" this week! And, it did, although I forgot to take a picture of the finished product. Everyone loved it at work and wants the recipe.

Chicken Chilaquiles
serves 8

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 (16-ounce) package of corn tostadas, crumbled coarsely
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon oregano, preferably Mexican
1 3/4 cup chicken stock
4 cups (about 12 ounces) shredded cooked chicken
6 ounces Chihuahua cheese, grated or Quesadilla cheese(Monterey Jack can be substituted)
2 3/4 cups Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (recipe follows)

Mexican crema or sour cream
Queso fresco
Chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 375º F.

Preheat 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil in skillet. Add the onion to the oil and sauté until softened, about 5-7 minutes.  Add the cumin and oregano and sauté another minute.  Add the stock and bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced to 2/3 cup, about 10 minutes.  Add the chicken and 2 3/4 cups of the salsa and bring the mixture to a boil.

Remove from the heat and transfer the mixture to a large bowl.  Add the cheese and tortilla strips and toss to combine.  Transfer the mixture to a shallow 2-quart baking dish. Bake uncovered until the top is golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.

Serve with crema, crumbled queso fresco, chopped cilantro, and remaining salsa.  Enjoy!

Roasted Tomatillo and Poblano Salsa
makes about 5-6 cups

*The salsa can be made up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated, covered

2 medium white onions, quartered
2 large poblano peppers, seeded, cut in pieces
10 tomatillos (about 2 pounds), husked and washed, quartered
1-2 jalapeños (optional) seeded, cut in half
4 large garlic cloves, whole
1 cup chopped cilantro or to taste
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
Kosher salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and position an oven rack in the center position.  .  Bake the vegetables, rotating as necessary until the skins have blistered and are slightly charred on all sides.  Keep a close eye on them as the onions and garlic will cook faster than the peppers and tomatillos.    Place the onions, garlic, peppers, and tomatillos in a food processor and pulse until blended, but still chunky.  Add the cilantro and lime juice and pulse until almost smooth.  Season generously with salt to taste.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Paula's Whatever Thingy!

This didn't start as a recipe. I actually made it for dinner last night and carried the remainder to work today. I debated if it was a fritatta, an omelet, a quiche??? So, I decided to call it a Whatever Thingy! :) One of my employees asked me for the recipe today...I wrote down the ingredients and instructions and told her it actually wasn't a recipe that I was participating in an ingredient post on a facebook board and didn't get to last week's ingredient of asparagus and this week's was potatoes so I just made my own recipe to use what I had on hand.

Paula's Whatever Thingy!

4 Medium Red Potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
1 (6-8 oz.) pkg. biscuit country ham slices, julienned
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and pepper to taste (depends on the ham's salt content)
2 cups blanched and drained asparagus, cut in 2" strips
6 large eggs
1/2 cup half & half
salt & pepper to taste
6 oz. brie cheese, cut into cubes

Optional add-ins:
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In 10" cast iron skillet, heat butter and EVOO over med-high heat. Add potatoes and cook until golden on one side. Season to taste. Turn, add ham and cook until potatoes are cooked through and golden. Can add optional add-ins at this time. Turn off heat.

While potatoes and ham are cooking, prepare asparagus.
Whisk together eggs, half & half; season to taste.
Sprinkle prepared asparagus over cooked potatoes & ham. Pour egg mixture over. Sprinkle with Brie cubes. Place in preheated oven and cook 20-30 minutes (depending on desired doneness of eggs).

I served mine last night with a toasted wheat English muffin and a very chunky blueberry jam. This morning, I reheated a slice in microwave and had a piece of Wheatberry Toast with Strawberry Jam. Both were delcious! Enjoy!