Herbed Poultry Dressing

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve been trying to get standard Thanksgiving dressing (or stuffing, if it’s in the bird) right for a long time. Unfortunately, it’s sort of a hard thing to test out in a two-person household. We had friends visiting a few weeks ago and did a fake Thanksgiving with them. Continue reading Herbed Poultry Dressing

Copycat Gates Barbecue Sauce (a.k.a. Fake Gates)

There are many Kansas City barbecue sauces that I enjoy: Rosedale is great when you want something sweeter, Jack Stack is nice when you want something thicker, but Gates is my all-purpose winner. I feel they do a great job of balancing the sweet and vinegar tang and pepperiness, and that’s what makes it so great on beef, pork, turkey or chicken. It’s even my favorite french fry dipping sauce.

But bottles of barbecue sauce are heavy to ship and to carry in luggage. Continue reading Copycat Gates Barbecue Sauce (a.k.a. Fake Gates)

Baba Ghanouj (Roasted Eggplant Dip)

This eggplant dip seems complicated but is ridiculously easy. It was too hot to really cook for a few weeks this August. That made things difficult, as I love to cook and don’t particularly care for raw food. Cliff is an avowed hater of eggplant, so it took a little cajoling to get his buy-in on this one. Even eggplant haters should give this one a shot, though. Much of the texture-weirdness that people have against eggplant is mitigated through the roasting and mashing. Plus, it’s ridiculously easy to make if you roast the eggplant with plenty of time to cool. The original recipe is here, but the changes I made are listed below.

1-2 large purple eggplants, about 2 lbs
3 T olive oil
2-3 T tahini
2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 t ground cumin
juice of 1 lemon
pinch smoked hot paprika
salt to taste
2 T chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C. Cut eggplants in half lengthwise, puncture the skin several times with a fork and rub all over with olive oil. Roast on a baking sheet, cut side down, until very tender, 30-40 minutes. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Scoop the cooled eggplant flesh out of the skins and combine with the rest of the ingredients, except parsley. Baba Ghanouj, not yet blendedMash everything together with a fork or put it all in a blender and pulse until combined but not completely smooth. Serve topped with parsley as a dip with pita or raw vegetables.

Stove-top Macaroni & Cheese with Broccoli

This was a weird one. I was pretty doubtful about the method, but the result was unquestionably fabulous. We’ve been on a bit of a broccoli kick of late – I would go so far as to double the broccoli and halve the pasta. I found the original here by way of Tastespotting, but I lightly steamed my broccoli, making my version use more than one pot. The recipe below details what I did.

4 1/2 c/1.125 l water, plus more as needed
1 lb/500 g broccoli, cut into small florets
3 T butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
12 oz/350 ml evaporated milk
1/2 t salt
1 lb/500 g short tube pasta
3/4 t cornstarch
1/2 t smoked paprika (pimentón)
1/2 t dry mustard
12 oz/350 g shredded cheddar cheese

Pour 1 cup/250 ml water into a small saucepan and set a steamer basket filled with broccoli in it. Cover with tight lid and steam over medium low heat for 5 minutes or until broccoli is bright green. Set aside when finished (if you like, shock the broccoli by pouring it into an icebath slightly before the desired texture is achieved).

In a large dutch oven, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook until translucent and fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Turn heat to medium and add the remaining 3 1/2 cups/875 ml of water, 1 cup/8 oz/250 ml of the milk, salt and pasta. Stirring frequently, bring to a rapid boil. Turn heat down to simmer and cook pasta for 7-9 minutes, always stirring, until pasta is barely undercooked and liquid thickens slightly.

Whisk remaining 1/2 cup/125 ml of milk with cornstarch, paprika and mustard. Stir into pasta and continue to simmer until sauce is well thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Remove pasta from heat and stir in shredded cheese, a handful at a time, until completely melted. Add broccoli and stir until well coated. Serve immediately or allow to sit for 5 minutes for sauce to thicken.

Rhubarb Sour Cream Cake

I am reminded yearly of how much I love rhubarb when I see that long pinky-red celery show up in the spring. While shopping for groceries last week, I saw the rhubarb and bought it. With no plan. This is not something I do. A storage-challenged kitchen means that nothing comes in without a plan for consumption. But the rhubarb is in, which means all descends into chaos.

The recipe is here and I didn’t change anything. I would bake it for the longer amount of time. The finished product was a little too moist in the middle, and that might be due to rhubarb’s tendency to be juicy as all get-out. This is gorgeous as a coffee cake. And don’t skip the topping: it makes a wonderful texture for the top crust.

1/4 c (50 g) room temperature butter
1 1/2 (315 g) c brown sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
2 1/3 c (322 g) flour
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 c (200 g) sour cream
4 c rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 c (52 g) white sugar
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg

In a bowl, blend butter and brown sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Stir dry ingredients into butter mixture alternately with the sour cream. Stir in rhubarb. Spoon into a buttered 9×13″ pan. Sprinkle with topping. Bake at 350° F/175° C for 50-60 minutes.

Blasted Broccoli with Polenta and Smoked Paprika Dressing

So, there hasn’t been a whole lot of action on the ol’ Regensblog of late. Daily life has been consuming, yet not interesting enough to blog about. Speaking of consuming though, we’re on a new recipe hot-streak. In the interest of not losing track of these, I’m going to start posting them. Because while you all are welcome to the recipe database, it’s basically there for me to keep track of things.

This one is ridiculously easy and fast. I am a very slow cook and I managed to prepare both the dressing and polenta fully while the broccoli was roasting. Plus, it can go fully vegetarian if you use vegetable broth and vegan if you cut out the butter and cheese. You don’t have to make the dressing, but the tang of the vinegar and deep smokiness of the paprika really adds something special! The inspiration came from this recipe. If you’re eating the broccoli alone or as a side, use the almonds (regular blanched almonds are fine).

1 pound fresh broccoli florets
2 T olive oil
pinch salt
1/4 c olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t sweet smoked paprika
2 T sherry vinegar
pinch salt
4 c chicken broth
1 T butter
1 1/2 c polenta
1/2 t ground pepper
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425° F/218° C. Toss the broccoli with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt. Spread broccoli florets on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes.

While the broccoli is going, make the dressing. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil over low heat until well warmed, then add garlic and paprika (garlic should not sizzle), stir well, remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. With vinegar and salt in a small bowl, add infused oil through a fine sieve to remove solids and whisk lightly.

For the polenta, bring the broth and butter to a gentle simmer over medium low heat. Whisk in the polenta, stirring constantly and turn heat to low. Add pepper and cheese, stir well for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to stand for three minutes. Serve a couple of scoops of polenta topped with broccoli and a drizzle of dressing.

Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream

Yield: slightly less than one 1 quart

Adapted from: David Lebovitz’s Chocolate Ice Cream

Result: Excellent!

This is a milk chocolate flavor. I love that there’s no “don’t let it boil” admonishment and no eggs involved (which you have to cook, but not cook into scrambled eggs while shooting for custard). Go for a nice 50%-70% cocoa content in the chocolate bar. It doesn’t have to be richer than that.

We did the variation that David Lebovitz mentions on his site (resulting from a typo in the book, originally) and are sticking with that because of the extra smooth and dense texture, and a more intense chocolate flavor (owing to the reduced sugar) — more like a chocolate gelato than homemade chocolate ice cream.

Extra trickiness for European kitchens: you need ice (yeah, frozen water) around to make an ice bath near the end of the batter preparation. I’m not sure what other methods you could use to lower your batter temperature while keeping it pourable, but if you have some ideas, please share them in the comments! Before we got our stand-up chest freezer, we never had room in our two midget fridges to keep ice cubes around at the ready. But now we do.

Ingredients

1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
4 teaspoons corn starch
1/4 cup (60 ml) heavy cream — we used whipping cream (Schlagsahne)
1 cup (250 ml) evaporated milk
1/2 cup (100 gr) sugar
2 tablespoons (60 gr) light corn syrup
1/3 cup (35 gr) unsweetened cocoa powder, natural or Dutch-process
3 ounces (85 gr) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2/3 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Make a slurry by mixing a few tablespoons of the milk with the corn starch in a small bowl, until smooth.
  2. In a 4-quart (4l) saucepan, heat the rest of the milk, cream, evaporated milk, sugar, and corn syrup. When the mixture comes to a moderate boil, whisk in the cocoa powder, then let it cook at a modest boil for 4 minutes.
  3. After four minutes, whisk in the corn starch slurry then continue to cook for one minute, stirring constantly with a spatula, until slightly thickened.
  4. Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate and salt, stirring until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Stir in the vanilla.
  5. Make an ice bath: Find a smaller metal bowl that will fit into a larger metal bowl. Add ice, along with some cold water, to the larger bowl then set the smaller bowl into the ice. Pour the ice cream mixture into the smaller bowl and stir until completely cool.

    The original recipe suggests pouring the batter into a zip-top bag and then submerging the bag in an ice bath for 30 minutes, and we tried this, but it was a PITA to get the batter out of the bag and into the ice cream dasher. And you waste a zip-top plastic bag in the process (either because you cut the corner to squeeze it out, like a pastry bag, or because it’s impossible to get all the batter out of the bag for any possible reuse).

    Next time, we’ll use the alternative method with the two metal bowls he mentions (above).

  6. Pour the now-cooled batter into the canister of an ice cream maker, then freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to a shallow container. This is a good time to sprinkle stuff on top. We used chocolate shavings, but I think we’ll go with slivered almonds next time for a contrasting flavor. Freeze it for a few hours. Portions will be necessarily small (we’re talking about less than a quart here), but that’s OK given the richness.

Bolognese Sauce

I am certain that this a bastardization of ‘true’ Bolognese sauce, but I kind of don’t care. I’ve read about a hundred recipes for this and, based on that, came up with a sauce that incorporates those techniques and adds stuff I like (and it was a great use of my leftover cheese rind!). It takes a good couple of hours, but much of that is inactive time, just needing a stir every so often.

3 T olive oil
soup meat, beef or pork, one large chunk (250 g/0.5 lb)
soup bone, at least one with a good amount of marrow
1 lb (500 g) ground beef and pork
onion, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1 large or two small carrots, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, put through garlic press
4 T tomato paste
pinch ground nutmeg
1/2 t ground black pepper
1/2 t dried thyme
1 c full-bodied red wine (Montepulciano, Valpolicella, etc.)
1 bottle crushed tomatoes (680 g)
2 c chicken or beef stock
3/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 Parmesan cheese rind
pinch salt (optional)
pinch sugar (optional)
1 c cream or whole milk (optional)

In a large, heavy pot, heat oil to medium high. When it just starts smoking, add soup meat and bones, until you get a good sear on all sides of the meat. Turn heat down to medium and add ground meat, cooking until no longer pink, but not browned. Be sure to break up any large chunks.

Add onion, celery, carrot and garlic. Cook mixture, stirring frequently for 10-15 minutes, or until vegetables have softened and shrunk considerably. Stir in tomato paste, distributing well, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add nutmeg, pepper, thyme and wine, stir well and allow to cook down until 3/4 reduced.

Add tomatoes, chicken stock and parsley, stir well and bring to a gentle boil. Drop in cheese rind, turn heat down to medium low and allow sauce to simmer and thicken for at least one hour, stirring occasionally. While simmering, check the marrow bone – when the marrow is softened all the way through, push it out and stir into the sauce. Taste sauce after one hour and add salt or sugar (to taste). If using, stir in milk or cream and continue simmering for 30 minutes to an hour more. When finished, discard cheese rind, soup meat (it will be very tough) and bones. Serve over pasta or use as lasagna filling.

*Most recipes start with pancetta. I thought I had enough meat already, but I imagine it would taste great if you really want to go crazy. The milk/cream is a texture thing. Some people feel it blunts the meaty flavor of the sauce. Nothing could blunt the meatiness of this stuff. I blame the marrow.

Lemon Mousse

My desserts have a tendency toward heaviness. I think that’s why I enjoy mousse so much. If there’s anything in which heaviness is an unacceptable attribute, it’s a mousse. And as much as I enjoy chocolate mousse, I liked the idea of a citrus flavor more for warmer weather. And as it happens, it’s simpler to make than chocolate, too. The inspiration comes from Thursday Night Smackdown and the gorgeous pictures over there, but we used our own lemon curd recipe and halved the whole thing. Follow the link for the original, the steps I took are below.

Ingredients
1 recipe lemon curd*, cooled
6 ozs (170 g) mascarpone cheese
3/4 c (180 ml) whipping cream

Using whisk attachment, blend together curd and mascarpone on medium speed until smooth and well-combined. Whip cream and gently fold into curd mixture. Divide into serving dishes and chill at least 4 hours, but consume within 36 hours. Serves 4-6.

*If you want to be really fancy, pass the curd through a fine mesh strainer to get a smoother product. We don’t bother with this, but we’re pretty lazy.

Mayonnaise

I don’t think I’ll ever buy mayonnaise again. The original recipe came from Mark Bittmann’s nifty How to Cook Everything app on my iPod touch, and it pretty much convinced me of that. It’s really easy to modify this recipe to get exotic — lots of ideas in the app for that, too.

It’s not a wholesale cut-n-paste of his recipe; we’ve found that we need lots less oil than he calls for. Here’s our base recipe; look for variations in the comments.

1 egg yolk
2 tsp mustard (honey mustard is nice for a little sweetness)
100 ml neutral oil (extra virgin olive oil would be OK too)
Salt / pepper to taste
1 tbsp acid, like sherry vinegar, white wine vinegar, or lemon juice

Sarah picked up a tall cylindrical melamine beaker/pitcher thing with rubberized feet at a nearby department store for a few Euro, and it’s perfect for making mayo with our stick blender’s whisk attachment. You can use a normal-shaped bowl too (we’ve done it, it works), but this beakery pitcher thing seems to make the process more efficient.

Combine the yolk and mustard with the whisk. Slowly drizzle in the oil in a thin stream until it thickens while you’re whipping, and it’s done when the the stuff looks like mayonnaise. Then thoroughly combine in the flavors and acids, and you’re done.

We like that this recipe makes about a cup of final product; perfect for the two of us with left-over chicken/turkey/whatever to turn into a couple days’ worth of sandwiches.