Monthly Archives: March 2013

Quick Buckwheat Blinis with Lemon Crème Fraîche & Smoked Salmon

Buckwheat Blinis

When you’ve got a crowd coming over for a holiday {let’s say Easter} you want to pull out more than the usual chips and dip. These quick buckwheat blinis are really no more than glorified pancakes- yet they add a heavy dose of panache to any get together you make them for. They’re also delicious- both sweet and savory, with crème fraîche and smoked salmon as the perfect accompaniments. You could also top these with caviar if you’re feeling extra fancy, or serve up the leftovers warm the next day with bacon and syrup for a spin on regular pancakes. However you serve them- these are sure to hit the spot this spring.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 Cup Buckwheat Flour
  • 3/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Sugar
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1 1/2 Cups Milk (Use whole or part skim)
  • 1 Tablespoon butter, melted and cooled
  • 4 tablespoons butter, for cooking the blinis
  • 1 cup crème fraîche
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 package smoked salmon
  • In a blender, combine the egg, milk, and melted and cooled butter. Once combined, add the buckwheat and all-purpose flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Blend on low for a few seconds, then scrape down the sides of the blender and blend for a few more seconds until everything is smooth and combined.
  • Heat a skillet over medium heat with 1/2 tablespoon of the butter. Using two spoons, drop each blini onto the pan (about 1 tablespoon worth of batter for each) and cook on one side until tiny bubbles form (just like when making pancakes). Flip and cook on the other side until puffy and golden brown.
  • Keep the blinis warm in the oven (set to 200 degrees). When you’ve cooked all the blinis, arrange them on a platter and top each one with a dollop of the crème fraîche whisked with the lemon juice, and a torn piece of smoked salmon. {You can also put the salmon first and the creme fraiche second, it deosn’t matter}. Sprinkle everything with a bit of salt and pepper and serve.

View the full post on Bachelor Kitchen.

Devil Gourmet Food Style Feature: Duck Fat

Duck-Fat-pic

Restaurants and chefs tend to treat duck fat like liquid gold. During my time at the French Culinary Institute, chefs and students alike would hoard quart containers of the stuff, smuggling it home to use in all manner of preparations. Everyone had a love affair with duck fat. Classically used for duck confit; a hallmark of French cooking where duck legs are cured in a salt and herb mixture overnight before slowly cooking in a bath of duck fat until meltingly, falling off the bone tender, duck fat actually fits well into more recipes and dishes then you’d imagine.

Before you scoff off this form of fat for its purported diet pitfalls, consider this: duck fat has less saturated fat than butter, and can actually lower your cholesterol with its high levels of healthy mono-unsaturated fat. It’s the healthiest animal fat you can eat, not that you’ll need any persuasion once you taste its effect on food.  It makes everything it touches more golden, crispy, tender, and quite simply more delicious. It adds a luxurious, rich flavor profile to any dish you use it in, lending depth of flavor to even the simplest recipes.

How does one procure duck fat? You have several options. Aside from smuggling it out of the nearest culinary school, you can head to your local William Sonoma and pick up a jar for roughly fifteen dollars. Browse around online and you can find specialty purveyors who can ship it to you. You can also check out your local famers market, or inquire with your local restaurant or butcher shop and see if they will sell you some.

Or, you can take the more involved but doubly rewarding method of rendering the duck fat yourself. Just buy a duck, either whole or just the legs or breasts, score the fat in a crosshatch pattern, and render the fat slowly over low heat. Once all the fat has rendered, strain it, pour it into a jar, let it harden, then skim off any impurities. It will now keep in the fridge for months, as you enjoy it spoonful by spoonful in your cooking.

To learn how to render duck fat yourself, and for delicious duck fat recipes, view the full article at Devil Gourmet. 

Photo Credit: William Sonoma.

 

Duck Fat LatkesDuck Fat Latkes

 

 

Baguette Toppers {Perfect for a Party}

Canapes

Canapés, tapas, amuse-bouche, crostini- whatever you’d like to call them, these thin baguette slices topped with a variety of flavor combinations are the perfect starter to a cocktail or dinner party. They’re a great way to please a crowd too- you can easily adapt the toppings you use to suit your guests.

I start each baguette slice with a spread of ricotta cheese and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. This simple base acts as the perfect platform for all the different toppings. You could also substitute crème fraiche in a pinch.

Serves 8 as an ample snack with cocktails.

Prep Time: 15 minutes     Total Time: 20 Minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 Baguette, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Kosher salt & black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup good Ricotta cheese

Directions:

Place all your baguette slices in an even layer on a baking sheet. Preheat your broiler, and drizzle the slices with the olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Broil for 1-2 minutes, watching carefully, until the slices are a nice golden brown.

Transfer the slices to a platter, and spread roughly a tablespoon of ricotta on each slice. Now, you can top each slice with whatever toppings you like. Below are some of my favorite suggestions, but feel free to get creative, this is a very forgiving and adaptable recipe.

Strawberry Balsamic: Dice a few strawberries, arrange over the ricotta, and drizzle with a bit of good balsamic vinegar.

Smoked Salmon & Cucumber: Tear off a few slices of smoked salmon, arrange over the ricotta, and top with a few thinly slices of cucumber. Top with a bit of fresh dill.

Hazelnut Honey: Roughly chop a handful of hazelnuts and arrange over the ricotta. Drizzle each slice with a bit of honey.

Tomato Basil: Thinly slice some cherry or grape tomatoes, and arrange over the ricotta. Top each slice with a bit of fresh basil.

Caramelized Onion: Slowly caramelize a thinly sliced onion in a pan with a bit of olive oil until the onion is golden brown and meltingly soft. Spoon over the ricotta, and top with extra cracked black pepper.


Canapes

City Pizza Overnight {Review}

Overnight Pizza

Last Thursday I placed my order for pizza delivery from City Pizza Overnight– and Friday afternoon, as promised, I came home to a huge, brown box at my doorstep.  City Pizza Overnight is a Chicago-based company that specializes in NYC-style pizza delivered overnight. It comes to you cooled and packed in ice, ready to crisp up in your oven and eat in 6-7 minutes. The ordering process is simple and straightforward, and their FedEx shipping process is seamless. They send you a confirmation and tracking number so you know exactly where your order is and when it arrives. Definitely easy and definitely convenient.

Overnight Pizza

For my pizzas, I tried a regular plain pizza, a gluten-free plain pizza, and a gluten-free pizza topped with onions, and peppers. Once out of the box, all you have to do in unwrap each pie and put them right on the rack in your pre-heated oven. The pizzas made my kitchen smell fantastic; a nice perk you don’t usually get to enjoy when you order pizza. I found it helpful to keep the cardboard circles from under the pizza- that way you can just pull them right out of the oven onto those and serve.

Overnight Pizza

How did they taste? The gluten-free options are a real accomplishment. They have a tender and crispy crust like you’d expect from a regular pizza, the sauce and cheese are in good proportion, and the vegetable toppings on one gave it a welcomed boost of flavor. For anyone with a gluten allergy who’s craving a pizza fix- this would surely hit the spot. The regular plain pizza for me tasted a little plain, for lack of a better word. It didn’t have the cheesy, crusty, unctuousness I’ve come to expect from plain pizza. But if you live in a part of the country where good pizza is far and few between, this might be right up your alley. And as I said before, the gluten-free options are a smart and delicious option even for those without a gluten allergy. You can even order up a bunch of pizzas and keep them in your freezer, ready to heat and eat at a moments notice.

Read the full post on Small Chick Big Deals.

Luce {Eclectic Italian in Caldwell}

While this area has no shortage of Italian restaurants, picking out the ones worth your time can be a challenge. Luce definitely rises to the top of this list, distinguishing itself with a creative menu and attentive kitchen and staff. A fixture on the Caldwell restaurant scene since 2001, Luce revamped its image and menu in 2011. They brought in Executive Chef Steve Saragnese (formerly of Babbo in NYC and Vetri in Philadelphia) to shake up their traditional Italian fare. Saragnese now serves an eclectic twist on Italian classics, showcasing a keen appreciation for flavor combinations and fresh, seasonal ingredients.

Luce

When I had dinner at Luce last week, I was impressed with the number of specials tacked on to their regular menu. The favorite that stood out was the butternut squash ravioli. Pillowy and light, filled with silky butternut squash purée and swathed in a nutty brown butter sauce, and topped with parmesan and crispy sage, it’s the perfect cold-weather pasta dish. The flatbread we tried was also a special, and hit all the right notes with creamy fontina cheese, peppery arugula, and crispy bacon. The flatbread was sprinkled judiciously with truffle oil, such that it didn’t overpower but elevated the whole dish. The Toasted bread with provolone cheese and roasted red pepper purée also delivered a serious flavor punch. What it lacked in beauty it made up for in taste; the sharp provolone and the tangy red pepper purée balanced perfectly, and the bread had a nice crunch. The eggplant caponata that comes with warm bread at the start of your meal is also a real standout, setting the tone for a flavor-packed meal.

Luce

Luce offers an ample entrée menu, complete with standouts like Berkshire pork chop, filet mignon, gingered tuna, and wild Scottish salmon.  For our dinner, we tried the grouper, accompanied by whipped potatoes and garlic spinach. The fish was flaky and tender, and  served with just the right amount of creamy, garlicky sauce. We also tried the shrimp, served over a risotto with garlic spinach. Everything was cooked and seasoned beautifully no complaints from out table! For dessert we had Luce’s homemade brownie served with espresso chip ice cream and an espresso chocolate reduction. Rich, dark, and chocolaty- it hit the spot.

LuceLuce

Everyone at Luce, from the owners to the kitchen to the staff are warm, friendly, and helpful. Prices are reasonable considering the quality of the ingredients and the attention to detail. Though they don’t have a liquor license, Luce provides a wine list and will place an order for prompt delivery to your table. If you haven’t tried Luce, or haven’t been in years, give it a try- you’ll be impressed!

Revamped Kale Caesar Salad

Revamped Kale Caesar Salad

Okay, so this isn’t really an authentic Caesar salad. It does however have the same tangy, creamy, decadent feel as the original- but with a hefty nutritional boost from super food kale. If you’ve tried kale in the past and hated it, or are too nervous to try it, this salad will make you a convert. Working the kale with a little salt and olive oil gives it a more palatable texture while still keeping it raw and healthy. I’ve swapped the traditional heavy croutons for chopped almonds, which give you a similar crunch, but feel free to add the croutons back if you like. As is, this salad is a seamless way to ease into the lighter eating and cooking of spring. It would be a great accompaniment for a meal, or delicious on its own with any of the traditional Caesar salad toppings. Try grilled shrimp or chicken, or even a fried egg. The kale holds up well to the dressing, keeping well in the fridge for great leftovers.

Makes 6 servings as a side dish, or 3-4 as a main course.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 Bunches Kale (Try Lacinato or Dinosaur Kale)
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • pinch Kosher Salt
  • 1 tbsp Lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp Low Fat Mayo
  • 1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 2 tbsp Fresh Parsley (minced)
  • clove Garlic (minced)
  • 1⁄4  Avocado
  • pinch Black Pepper
  • 1⁄2 cup Raw Almonds (roughly chopped)
Directions
Wash and dry the kale, then cut off the hard stems (usually the lower inch or two). Roll the kale into a cigar shape (like you’re doing a chiffonade of basil) and slice thinly into even strips.
In a large bowl, add the kale, olive oil, salt, and lemon juice and massage everything together for 2-3 minutes. You’ll notice the kale will become darker and more silky- that’s the goal.
In a small bowl, whisk together the mayo, mustard, parsley, garlic, avocado, and pepper. Once everything is smooth and combined, add the dressing to the kale a little at a time (you might not need all the dressing). Once your kale is nicely coated with dressing, add the chopped almonds, give everything another toss, season to taste, and serve your salad with additional chopped almonds on top if you like.
Notes: If you’re a vegetarian or a vegan, you can use Nayonaise in place of the regular mayo- it will still taste delicious!
View the full article on Bachelor Kitchen. 

Pasta with Silky Sweet Potato Sauce & Kale {Hearty & Healthy}

Pasta with Silky Sweet Potato Sauce & Kale

When its chilly and gray outside, I’m always tempted to cook up rich, cozy food at every meal. When the rational, health-minded part of my brain kicks in, I reach for recipes like this one. Pasta always satisfies, and tossing it in this silky sweet potato sauce makes a deceptively rich and creamy meal. Add in a bit of chopped kale, and you’ve got yourself a seriously healthy dish, disguised as something much more decadent. And at a time of year when people are still getting sick left and right, its smart to eat immune system boosting foods like sweet potatoes and kale. Make this dish for even the most veggie-adverse eater, and I’m sure even they will be hard pressed to resist it.  Its comfort food you can feel good about eating and serving. (Serves 4).

Prep time: 10 minutes               Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes, skin on
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups almond milk (or low-fat regular milk)
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 package linguine (go for whole wheat if you want to be an overachiever)
  • 4 cups kale, stalks removed, leaves chopped (substitute spinach if needed)
  • 1 cup reserved pasta cooking water, as needed
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Chopped parsley, to taste

Directions:

  1. Get out your biggest pot and fill it with water, bring it up to a roaring boil, then add a few pinches of salt. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium, and add the shallots, garlic, and a pinch of salt, stirring often until softened. Next, add the mashed sweet potatoes and the milk, stirring to combine. Bring this up to a simmer, and allow it to thicken. If you like, you can use an immersion blender (or a regular blender) to smooth everything out. This is a good step to add if you’ve got picky eaters.
  2. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions, adding the kale to the pot during the last two minutes of cooking. Before draining, reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain, and add the pasta and kale back to the pot.
  3. Pour the sweet potato sauce over the pasta, add the parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes (if using), and a splash of the reserved pasta water, and toss everything together to combine. Add more pasta water as needed to get the thickness you want. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and finish the plates with a sprinkling of the parsley.

View the full post on Bachelor Kitchen.

Recipe inspired by Chef Marcus Samuelsson.