Friday, June 29, 2012

Sour Cream Ice Cream

The sour cream in this recipe gives the final product a really nice tang.  It's the perfect foil for a sweet summer cobbler or the blackberry skillet cake I posted yesterday.
Sour Cream Ice Cream
Makes 1 quart.
8 egg yolks
1 cup sugar, divided
2 cups milk
Zest of one lemon (Big pieces, not grated.)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups sour cream

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks with 1/2 cup sugar and set aside.

In a saucepan, combine the milk with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, vanilla and the lemon zest.  Slowly, bring the mixture just to the boiling point.  (Use a thermometer and watch carefully or the mixture will curdle.)

Temper the egg mixture by adding 1/3 or so cup of the hot milk and then slowly add back into the milk. 

Return the saucepan to the heat and cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until mixture reaches 170° and is thickened.

Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl set over an ice bath.  When mixture is cooled, add the sour cream and whisk until combined.

Process in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Blackberry Skillet Cake

Berries are everywhere right now.  Whether on sale at the grocery store, or (even better) at the farmer's market, they are at their peak and ready for you to use in a delicious dessert like this one.  (You might hang on to this recipe for a day or two.  I'll be posting a tasty ice cream recipe that you could top the cake with very soon.)

Blackberry Skillet Cake
Makes 8 servings.
From Everyday Food magazine.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
1/3 cup dark-brown sugar
3 cups blackberries
Preheat oven to 350°. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, using a mixer, beat 6 tablespoons butter and sugar on high until light and fluffy, about 6 minutes. Beat in eggs, vanilla, and zest until combined. With mixer on low, add flour mixture in 2 additions, alternating with milk, and beat until combined.
In a 10-inch skillet, melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter over medium. Add brown sugar and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Remove from heat and arrange blackberries evenly in skillet.

Pour batter over berries and smooth top. Bake until cake is deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating halfway through. Let cake cool in skillet on a wire rack 5 minutes. Run a knife around edge and carefully invert cake onto a serving plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mocktail of the Week: Angostura Bitters Restorer

Even the most dedicated cocktail drinkers among us take time off for our livers every now and then.  But we still  need something refreshing at the end of the's the recipe that hits ths spot.

Angostura Bitters Restorer
Makes 1 drink.

2 ounces club soda
2 ounces tonic water
2 ounces Sprite or 7-Up
6 dashes Angostura bitters
Lemon wedge

Combine in a highball glass and add ice.  Squeeze the lemon wedge into the glass and serve immediately.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Stir-Fried Chicken with Cashews

How about a quick and healthy stir-fry on a hot summer evening? Only takes one pan/wok and a cutting board.  And while you turn the stove's just for a few minutes.

Stir-Fried Chicken with Cashews
Makes 4-6 servings.

Sesame (or olive) oil
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 can sliced water chestnuts
6 ounces broccoli florets, in bite-size pieces
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sherry
1 tablepoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon sambal oelek
1/2 cup roasted cashews
Sliced scallons for garnish

Heat a wok until very hot.  Add one tablespoon of oil and swirl to coat wok.
Dip a quarter of the chicken pieces into the egg white and then cornstarch.  Add to the wok and stir-fry until golden-brown and cooked through.  Drain on paper towels and repeat with the remaining chicken, keeping wok hot and adding oil as necessary.  (If things get a little too brown, wipe the wok out and add fresh oil.)

Reheat the wok, add another tablespoon oil and stir-fry the onion, bell pepper, celery, water chestnuts and broccoli until the vegetables have softened a bit, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 60 seconds. 

Increase the heat to high and add soy sauce, sherry, hoisin, and sambal oelek.  Toss the vegetables well to coat and bring to a boil. 

Return the chicken to the wok and toss over high heat for 1-2 minutes to heat the chicken. Toss the cashews into the mixture and serve immediately, garnished with scallions.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Easy Jerk Chicken

It seems to be written into the U.S. Constitution that we must grill more during the summer time.  Here in North Texas, that seems backwards to me...why go outside into the blasting heat only to blast your face and arms with more heat from a fiery grill.  However, I digress. Because being a good American family, we grill a lot all summer long.

And this just might be my new go-to recipe.  Easy to prep and packed with flavor, this is a jerk marinade that's great on chicken, but I'm betting that it would be just as yummy on pork tenderloin or chops or even shrimp.  Experiment and share your results with us here.

Jerk Chicken
From Everyday Food magazine.
Makes 4 servings.

1 Scotch bonnet or habanero chile, stemmed (Don't chicken out.  I only had a jalapeno on hand, and even with seeds included, there just wasn't enough heat for my tastes.)
1 bunch scallions, cut into pieces
2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons packed dark-brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground allspice
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for grill
3 and 1/2 - 4 lbs chicken pieces (I used boneless chicken thighs.)
salt and pepper

In a food processor, puree chile, scallions, garlic, thyme, brown sugar, allspice, soy sauce, lime juice, and oil. In a large zip-lock bag, toss chicken with sauce. Refrigerate at least one hour (or up to one day).

Heat up your grill and grill baby grill on medium-low heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper; grill covered, until cooked through.  Cooking time will depend on what kind of chicken pieces you're using.  I'll trust you to know how to grill chicken...

Monday, June 11, 2012

Wine of the Week: Big Gulp Style...

Here in Big D today, it was 117. 

OK, I exaggerate, but it WAS hot.  Upper 90's with humidity seemingly in the 90's too.  Sticky.  Yuck.

Days like this...and there are plenty more ahead of out for a light wine that packs flavor without overwhelming.  Nicely clean with just enough acidity to remind you of a refreshing glass of lemonade.

Oh, and if it is waaaay affordable, nothing wrong with that either.

So rush out and buy this completely quaffable Spanish white. Rene Barbier Mediterranean White. If you're lucky enough to have a Total Wine store nearby, it's going to set you back less than $5.00.

(No...that's not a typo.)


Saturday, June 02, 2012

Perfectly Poached Eggs

A poached egg is a standard part of my weekend breakfast repertoire.  Sure, sometimes it's destined to be a part of Eggs Benedict or Eggs Florentine.  Even more often though, it's the headliner.  With a piece of toast or an English muffin on the side, it's a healthy way to start the day.

Over the years, I thought I had learned all the tricks of the trade.  Room-temperature eggs. Slowly simmering water. A little vinegar in the poaching water.  And creating a little whirlpool for the eggs as I slip them in.

But thanks to Bon Appetit and superchef Thomas Keller, my poached eggs are better then ever.

One thing I learned was that FRESH eggs are critical.  The white deteriorates as the egg ages, leaving you with tendrils rather than a compact white.

The other shocker was to not just put vinegar in the water, but actually put the eggs in vinegar  for a few minutes before cooking.  It tightens the white and prevents it from spreading out from the beginning when you put it into the pan.

Here's the full recipe.

Perfectly Poached Eggs
Makes two.

1 cup distilled white vinegar
2 large eggs
Coarse sea salt (such as Maldon) and freshly ground black pepper

Pour 1/2 cup vinegar into each of 2 small bowls. Crack 1 egg into each bowl, taking care not to break yolk; let stand for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over medium-high heat.

Using a whisk, vigorously swirl water until a vortex forms in the center. Slip 1 egg with vinegar into vortex and continue to swirl water with whisk around edges of pan until it returns to a boil. The egg white should wrap tightly around the yolk, forming an oval shape.

As soon as water returns to a boil, reduce heat to medium and gently simmer egg, frequently swirling water, for 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, lift egg from water and use kitchen shears to trim any stray pieces of egg white. Place egg on paper towels and gently blot; transfer egg to a bowl or plate. Repeat with remaining egg. (If poaching more than 2 eggs, repeat using fresh water.)

Season with salt and pepper.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Immediately transfer to a bowl of ice water and let cool. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate. Cover; chill. Rewarm in a saucepan of simmering water for 1 minute.

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