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Monthly Archives: December 2012

Cranberry Pistachio Salted Caramel Bars

Squeezing this one in at popular request… Larry made these for a pre-Christmas get together. The recipe is found in the 2012 Holiday Issue of Food and Drink (LCBO Magazine available only in Ontario). They were awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They would be great for your New Year’s Eve celebrations….

Cranberry Pistachio Salted Caramel Bars (LCBO)

Cookie Base :

1 ¼ cups all purpose flour

½ cup wheat germ

1 teaspoon salt

¾ cup unsalted butter softened

¾ cup packed light brown sugar

1 large egg YOLK

Filling :

2 cups sugar

½ cup water

2 Tablespoons corn syrup

1/3 cup whipping cream, heated

1 ½ teaspoons salt

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter cut into pieces

1 cup unsalted and roasted pistachios, chopped

1 ½ cups dried cranberries, plumped in boiling water for 10 minutes and drained

½ teaspoon sea salt (optional)*

Preheat oven to 350 F or 180 C.

Line a 9 x 13 baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

Combine flour, wheat germ and salt. Set aside in a bowl.

Combine butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat together until light and fluffy. Beat in the yolk until combined. Add in flour mixture and beat until combined. Crumble dough into prepared baking pan and use damp fingers to press into a single layer with a slight lip at the edges. Bake for 25 minutes or until dry to the touch and golden. Set aside.

Combine sugar, water and corn syrup in a heavy bottom pot and stir just enough to moisten the sugar. Place pot over medium heat, bring to simmer and cook without stirring for 10 minutes or until deeply golden (between 320 and 340F OR 159 to 170C) on a candy thermometer.

Working quickly and carefully, add cream and salt, stirring to combine and then add butter (1Tablespoon at a time) until incorporated. Remove from heat.  Let caramel stand for 10 minutes to cool slightly then add pistachios and cranberries and stir until coated.

Scrape caramel mixture onto the prepared cookie base and use a spatula to even out topping. Return to oven and bake for 15 minutes or until caramel is bubbling at the edge.

Sprinkle bars with salt if desired. Let cool for two hours to firm up and then remove from pan. Peel down parchment and cut into 48 rectangular bars. Will keep well in a sealed container for one week at room temperature.

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Roasted Carrot Soup

The following recipe was a real hit a recent dinner party. As always, my changes to the original recipe are in red….

Roasted Carrot Soup

 

Serves four, yields about 1 quart

  • 1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch lengths
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • Herbs de Provence
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 medium onion, cut into medium dice (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 large rib of celery, cut into medium dice (about 1.2 cup)
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger (from about 1/2-inch piece, peeled)
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground white pepper
  • Chopped fresh chives or chervil for garnish
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Nutmeg
  • Sour cream

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Put the carrots in a medium baking dish, or any dish that will hold the carrots on a single layer without touching, and drizzle them with the olive oil. Sprinkle a little bit of Herbs de Provence over them. Toss them to coat well and roast, stirring once halfway through roasting, until they are tender, blistered and lightly browned in a few places, about 1 hour.melt the butter in a medium heavy saucepan set over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it’s translucent and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the celery and ginger and cook until the celery softens a bit and the onions start to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the roasted carrots, chicken broth, salt, pepper and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low and cover. Drop in the cinnamon stick. Cook at a tender lively simmer until the carrots are very tender, about 45 minute. Turn off the heat and let the liquid cool somewhat or completely. Remove the cinnamon stick!!!

Puree most of the soup in a blender in batches, filling the blender no more than one-third full, vent the lid and hold a towel while you turn it on. Keep about ¾ cup of the vegetables aside to be added when serving if you like some chunks in your soup.  If serving immediately, return the soup to the pot and reheat, along with the unpureed veggies. Garnish with the chives or chervil if you’d like and/or a dollop of sour cream. Sprinkle some fresh ground nutmeg to add some extra zip.

Otherwise refrigerate for up to 5 days. Reheat gently and taste for salt before serving.

Escabeche de Cebolla (Yucatecan Pickled Red Onions).

Escabeche de Cebolla (Yucatecan Pickled Red Onions)

MAKES ABOUT 1 ¾ CUPS

INGREDIENTS

1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 large red onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. cumin seeds
3 cloves garlic, peeled and halved lengthwise
1 ½ cups red wine vinegar

INSTRUCTIONS

In a bowl, toss salt and onion together; let sit until onion releases some of its liquid, about 15 minutes. Transfer to jar along with peppercorns, oregano, cumin, and garlic, and pour over vinegar; seal with lid. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before using.

Carnitas de Michoacan

While on our trip to Patzcuaro and Janitzio, we passed through the state of Michoacan.  We did a day trip to Tzintzuntzan and Quiroga. In Quiroga, we sampled the wonderful Carnitas Carmelo (pork).  Unable to convince the owner to share his secret recipe, Larry set out to make his own. The original one I posted on the travel blog – www.mexico1012.wordpress.com, but we never actually made it.

 With the end of the Maya calendar fast approaching, we decided to have our “Last Supper” with a dozen of close friends. What to serve? Well, he already had purchased the copper pan in Santa Clara del Cobre…so why not make the famous carnitas? Pouring through the Internet he came up with four recipes. Larry being Larry, he decided to improvise using parts of all four recipes. Et voila! Here is HIS version…

CARNITAS DE MICHOACAN

Feeds  12 carnivores!

Prepare this the day before.

Ingredients

2 kilos boneless pork shoulder, cut into approx. 2 inch cubes

1 kilo pork ribs

1 kilo back bones

1 kilo pork fat

¼ cup soya sauce

2 cups safflower oil, or similar

One slab of pork skin with fat left on, about 12 x 12

One large white onion thickly sliced

1 tsp  of whole cumin seeds

2 Tbs  of Mexican oregano

3 bay leaves

One 4 inch stick of cinnamon

2 Tbs of chopped garlic

6 whole cloves

3 cups of water

1 cup of orange juice

3 oranges

2 Tbs of course salt

Add chiles to suit your taste!!!

 

Preparation

Marinate the pork cubes in ¼ cup of soya sauce for about 30 minutes.

Heat the pork fat and oil and add the onion, oregano, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cumin seeds, cloves and garlic.  Cook until the onions are well caramelized in color. Remove onion, bay leaves, cinnamon and cloves.  Set aside to be added again later.

Brown all of the meats, in small portions, in the hot oil. This is necessary so that the meat does not lower the temperature of the oil and allow the meat to become saturated before sealing the outer surface.

When all of the meats have been browned, add the oranges, orange juice and water to the oil, add in the spices and onions that were set aside.  Now add in all the meats.  Cover the meat in the with the pork skin.  Reduce heat to a simmer and allow to cook for approximately 2 to 3 hours.   Remove the meats.  Allow to cool.  Remove all bones from the ribs and spine.  Add the meat to the boneless pieces and mix together.   Remove the onion and other spices from the hot mixture with a strainer.  You can add the onions to the meat mixture.   Place the meat and the liquid in separate containers in the fridge overnight.  Before you combine the liquid with the meat the next day, remove as much of the congealed grease as possible. Reheat the meat in the broth, adding more water if necessary.

 Serve in soft tortillas or ‘Italian’ ciabatta buns. Top with onions escabeche (Recipe follows)

Shrimp Alfredo Fettucine

This just in….the liquor cabinet is running low, Heather. Instead I am posting this great New Year’s Eve dish for a romantic dinner! Just add candles, soft music and…of course a bottle of Ontario wine!!! How ’bout a little Tony Bennett and Diana Krall?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrCtc6DJ-EY

Shrimp Fettucine Alfredo

Makes: 4 servings Total Time: 1 hr

What you need

  • 1 tablespoon Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 3-5 cloves garlic, minced and halved, divided
  • 1 stick real butter, divided
  • 8 oz. package fettuccine noodles, cooked according to package
  • 1 lb. cooked shrimp
  • Garlic salt
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 and 1/2 cups Kraft Parmesan Cheese

Make it

Heat cream cheese, whipping cream, 2 cloves minced garlic, and 3/4 stick of butter until reaches slight boil. Keep at a low boil for 20 minutes, continuously stirring.

In the meantime, cook noodles according to package. Place remaining butter and garlic in a large fry pan and heat. Add shrimp and heat until thoroughly cooked. ( I added some bay portobello mushrooms). Add garlic salt, salt, and pepper to taste.

After 20 minutes, turn heat off the sauce and add Parmesan cheese. Stir and add any garlic salt, salt, or pepper if needed. Add the shrimp to the sauce and then pour over the cooked noodles. Grate some fresh nutmeg over top if you like that taste!

Notes

Brandied Fruit and Nut Cookies

This recipe is from my blogging friend, Karen. Since today’s earlier recipe might not be ready in time for the holidays, I am sending you one of HER cookie recipes which I just baked. I didn’t bother with the glaze…your choice… Check out her other recipes as well as beautiful photos of her home in New England at Christmas – http://backroadjournal.wordpress.com

Brandied Fruit and Nut Cookies BYJ

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  •  1/3 c. brandy (I used Calvados apple brandy)
  • 1/2 c. golden raisins
  • 1/2 c. orange flavored Craisins or dried cranberries
  • 1 c. dried apricots, chopped in small pieces
  • 3/4 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 2 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 c. chopped pecans

Mix the fruit and brandy in a bowl and let marinate for 10 minutes. Cream together the brown sugar, butter, eggs and spices. Drain the brandy from the fruit into the sugar mixture and stir. Mix in the flour and baking powder. Stir in the reserved fruit and nuts.

Drop cookie dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto a Silpat or parchment lined baking sheet. They do spread out so if you want them smaller, follow the directions and keep small). Bake about 10 minutes or until the cookies are light brown. Place cookies on cooling rack. Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

If you wish to glaze the cookies mix 2 c. of powdered sugar, 2 to 3 Tbsp. brandy and 1 tsp. vanilla together and dip the tops of the cookies into glaze and let dry.

Limoncello Liqueur

We first tasted limoncello while in Sorrento and fell in love with it. You can buy it at the liquor store but it can be pricey and a little too sweet. Just in case you are wondering it is a great after dinner drink served in small liqueur glasses, ICE COLD. I apologize for not sending this sooner, but honestly thought had…que lastima! If any of you are interested I have a great cake recipe for using this…mmm…

Italian Limoncello – How To Make Limoncello

Prep time: 20 min           Total time: From 40 to 80 days

Ingredients:
15 lemons*
2 (750 ml) bottles 100-proof vodka or 1 (750 ml) (we only get 40 proof here)
4 cups granulated sugar
5 cups water (filtered tap water or distilled water)

* Choose thick-skinned lemons because they are easier to zest. The lemons must be yellow and not tinted with green.

Step One:

Wash the lemons with a vegetable brush and hot water to remove any reside of pesticides or wax; pat the lemons dry.

Carefully zest the lemons with a zester or vegetable peeler so there is no white pith on the peel. NOTE: Use only the outer part of the rind. The pith, the white part underneath the rind, is too bitter and would spoil your limoncello.

Step Two:

In a large glass jar (1-gallon jar with lid), add vodka. Add the lemon zest as it is zested.

Cover the jar and let sit at room temperature for at least (10) ten days and up to (40) days in a cool dark place. The longer the mixture rests, the better the end taste will be. (There is no need to stir – all you have to do is wait.) As the limoncello sits, the vodka slowly takes on the flavor and rich yellow color of the lemon zest.

Step Three:

In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and water; bring to a gentle boil and let boil, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and let the syrup cool before adding it to the Limoncello mixture.

Add cooled sugar mixture to the Limoncello mixture (from Step One).

Cover jar and allow to rest for another 10 to 40 days.

Step Four:

After the rest period, strain the Limoncello; discarding the lemon zest.(I leave the zest in) Pour strained Limoncello in bottle/bottles (of your choice) and seal tightly.

NOTE: Coffee filters or cheesecloth work great for straining the mixture if you don’t want the zest in the drink. Moisten the filters before beginning the straining process.

Keep your bottle/bottles of Limoncello in the freezer until ready to serve. Serve ice cold from the freezer. If it freezes hard, run it under a little warm water for two minutes.

Marianne’s Pumpkin Cake

Our American friends invited us to celebrate their Thanksgiving in Merida. Besides their beautiful home, we were there with some beautiful people! The deep fried turkey was astounding! So was one of the desserts for the last course… When we made this yesterday, our friends thought it was much better than pumpkin pie!

Marianne Kehoe’s Pumpkin Cake

1 – 15 oz can pureed pumpkin

1 – 12 oz can evaporated milk

3 eggs

1 cup sugar (I used brown sugar but can be white)

4 tsp pumpkin pie spice * (see below)

1 package white, spice, or yellow cake mix

1 c butter

1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans

* If you can’t find pumpkin pie spice use 4 T. ground cinnamon + 4 tsp. ground nutmeg + 4 tsp. ground ginger + 3 tsp. ground allspice. This makes more than you need!!!

Oven 350 F (175 C). Grease a 9 x 13″ cake pan.

In large bowl, combine pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugar, and spices and pour into pan.

In another bowl, with fingers incorporate butter pieces into cake mix and crumble over pumpkin. (I also added a little more cinnamon to mix here for color because I could only find white cake mix,)  Sprinkle walnuts or pecans on top.

Bake for about 1 hour, or until knife inserted near center comes out clean.

We served this with some fresh whipped cream and a mix of chopped walnuts and brown sugar which we had carmelized just a bit…

Slow Cooker Caribbean Black Bean Chili

This is a recipe from my friend, John. He was nice enough to send me home with a big bowl of it the other night. It is awesome!! Beware that it can be addictive….. thanks so much John for being so considerate, as always. I’ll have to make this for Larry when he gets back from the cold North, fer sure….

SLOW COOKER CARIBBEAN BLACK BEAN CHILI

Black Beans (or any natural about 1/2 a bag) sorted and soaked overnight, drain water.

Place in slow cooker, cover with water. Liquid should be about to top after veggies are added.

Add a bay leaf, 2 chicken bouillion cubes, a can of chopped tomatoes.

Saute vegetables before adding to the cooker – Onions, a colorful pepper variety, carrots, jalapeno, celery. (As much as you like and your crockpot can hold. )

Add fresh garlic 3-4 cloves.

Add spices when veggies are a bit cooked. (Recipe calls for Jamaican Jerk seasoning). Use your favorites!

Add juice one lime, then toss all in the pot and cook on high 6 hours or til beans are done.

Taste later and adjust seasoning as you like. Spice it up if you want it spicier….