Luscious Lemon Sauce

When I served that divine Kerrygold Shortbread, I topped it with a lemon/blueberry sauce.  Here’s the lemon half of that combo.  I’ve never made lemon curd before but my guess is that this is a simpler sauce that gives a similar end result.  Straight from the refrigerator, it is firm but quickly melts into hot dishes like my morning oatmeal.  More often than not, it goes straight from the jar into my mouth.  I try not to judge…you really shouldn’t either.  At least not until you’ve tasted this sauce.

Lemon Sauce

Adapted from One Perfect Bite

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter

Whisk together the egg, water, lemon juice, and zest in a small saucepan.  Place over medium heat and whisk in the sugar.  Add the butter and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently.  The sauce can be served warm or at room temperature.  Store leftover sauce in the refrigerator.

{printable recipe}

Kerrygold Shortbread

I don’t often pull the “you really need to use a specific brand” card here.  Today, I’m laying that card squarely on the table.  Because while most of the time I find that attitude to be rather condescending…not that I’m naming names Martha or Ina…it is true that the quality of your ingredients effects your final results.  Especially when you are making a dish that has a small number of ingredients, you notice things.  Like when the butter you use for shortbread is boringly blah.

99.99% of the time, when I reach for a stick of butter, I’m grabbing Land o’ Lakes or the store brand, whichever happened to be on sale.  Usually that’s ok because butter doesn’t typically play a prominent role in my cooking.  If my cooking were the first Harry Potter movie, butter would have played the role of Diagon Alley Boy.  It’s because butter is usually a minor supporting cast member that every so often I get to pull out the really good stuff and let it be the star.  Because you know even Diagon Alley Boy’s understudy aspires to play the role of Severus Snape.

So when a recipe calls for Butter (with a capital B), I pull out my special stash of Kerrygold.  It is richer, creamier, and more buttery than the pale yellow sticks of butter (lowercase b) that get most of the action in my kitchen. Yes, you might have to look a little harder in your grocery store to find it, but I bet you it’s there.  And if you’ve gone to the trouble of putting one block of it in your cart, why don’t you go ahead and just get a few more?  Once you taste what the folks at Kerrygold wrap in that gold foil, you’re going to want to find more reasons to pull out the good stuff.

I suggest you start with Kerrygold Shortbread.  Served with a dollop of Lemon Sauce, Blueberry Jam, or a combination of the two, it is buttery perfection, minimalist style.

Kerrygold Shortbread

Adapted from Kerrygold

BAH Note:  I think I should have popped the uncooked shortbread into the refrigerator for 30 minutes before baking.  When I removed it from the oven, I had a noticeable amount of butter leakage on my sheet pan which is a pretty good indication that my dough was too warm when it went into the oven.  It didn’t make the shortbread any less enjoyable; it just meant the bottom of my tart pan was icky.  When you score the dough, go a little deeper than you think you need to.  The dough will puff in the oven which tends to obliterate light score marks.

  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 8 ounces cold Kerrygold Irish Butter, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Line a sheet pan with parchment or aluminum foil and set aside.

Place the flour, cornstarch and salt in the work bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on low speed for about 30 seconds to combine then add  1/2 cup of the sugar and continue to mix for another 30 seconds.  Add the cubed cold butter and continue mixing for about 2 minutes or until crumbs form and there is no loose flour in the bowl.  Add in the vanilla and continue to mix for about 30 seconds until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl in large clumps.

Transfer the dough to a 9 inch tart pan with removable bottom.  Use your hands to press the dough into the pan as evenly as possible to a thickness of 1/2 inch.  Smooth the top of the dough with a plastic bench scraper or thin metal spatula then use the scraper or a sharp knife to score the dough into 12 wedges.  Use a fork to dock the dough every 2 inches and sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar over the top of the dough.

Refrigerate the dough at this point for 30 minutes to let it firm back up before baking.  When you put the dough in the refrigerator, heat your oven to 300 degrees.

When ready to bake, place the tart pan on the prepared sheet pan and bake for approximately 1 hour or until the top is lightly golden brown.  Immediately use a sharp knife to cut completely through the score lines.  Allow the the shortbread to cool completely in the pan before removing the bottom and separating the cookies into wedges.  Store in an airtight container.

{printable recipe}

Flashback Friday – Notes on a Recipe Cinnamon Scented Baked Chocolate Mousse Cake

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 11/13/08 at Exit 51.

Notes On A Recipe – Cinnamon Scented Baked Chocolate Mousse Cake

Rounding out the Fast Food @ Home recipes I tried last week was a baked chocolate mousse cake.  Since going on South Beach, I haven’t made dessert.  That chocolate covered candy crack I made for SFC’s birthday does not count.  Nothing counts on birthdays.

Cinnamon Chocolate Cake

So after months of no cakes or pies or cookies or any sort of homemade treats, I was ready to give baking another try.  I did modify the original recipe to substitute butter blend for the butter and Splenda for the sugar.  Funny thing about Splenda, it dissolves immediately in water.  Not at all like sugar.  Kinda freaky.

Splenda freakiness aside, this recipe is a breeze.  Mix “sugar” and water, boil, add “butter”, once melted add chocolate, stir well to combine and let cool.  Whisk eggs and spices.  Add chocolate mixture to egg mixture.  Do be sure not to overmix so as to avoid little air bubbles in your cake.  Bake in water bath.  C’mon, it does not get much easier than this.

Feel free to add other flavors too.  I love spicy chocolate so I added a bit (maybe 1/8th of a teaspoon) of chili powder to the batter.  Just enough to give it a little heat.  And since coffee really seems to bring out the flavor of chocolate, I threw in a teaspoon of espresso powder as well.  It only sounds scary.  I promise, it tastes good.

The recipe says to bake for 55 minutes to one hour.  I guess if I had a proper roasting pan to use for my water bath that might have been accurate.  But I don’t.  So I used the widest pot that I have.  I think it’s about 6 quarts, short but wide.  Let’s just say that if I had more than a half an inch of space between my 9″ cake pan and the sides of my pot, and if my water bath was greater than one cup of liquid, then maybe it would take almost an hour to cook.  But in my ghetto version of a bain-marie, that cake was done in 45 minutes.  No foolin.  That’s a good thing because all but about a tablespoon of my water had evaporated.  See how close I came to complete oven disaster?

Don’t be in a hurry to eat this cake once it comes out of the oven because it really does need to cool completely before you turn it out onto a plate.  Your patience will be rewarded with is a dense, intense chocolate treat.

Cinnamon-scented Baked Chocolate Mousse Cake

From “The Modern Baker,” by Nick Malgieri

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces, plus more for buttering the pan
  • 14 ounces bittersweet (but not unsweetened) chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 7 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Butter an 8-inch round cake pan, 2 inches deep, and line the bottom with a disc of parchment or buttered wax paper cut to fit. Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees.

Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. At the boil, add the cut-up stick of butter and stir occasionally until the butter is completely melted.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate. Swirl the pan to submerge all the chocolate in the hot liquid. Let the mixture stand for 2 minutes, then whisk until smooth.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and cinnamon to break them up. Whisk in the chocolate mixture in a stream, taking care not to over-mix, or the batter will be riddled with bubbles and not bake to a smooth texture.

Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth the top. Place the cake pan in another larger pan, such as a small roasting pan, and place it on the oven rack. Pour in warm water to come halfway up the side of the cake pan.

Bake the cake until it is set, slightly firm and no longer liquid in the center, 55 to 60 minutes. Remove the large pan from the oven, being careful not to tilt it, which would cause hot water to slosh out of it. Place it on the work surface and use oven mitts and a wide spatula to remove the cake pan from the hot water. Cool the cake pan on a rack.

Unmold the cake onto a platter. If the cake has cooled for a long time, it might be necessary to heat the bottom of the pan to slightly loosen it. Cut the cake into wedges and serve it with some sweetened whipped cream.

The cake is best just cooled to room temperature and not refrigerated before it is served. If you must prepare it prior to the day you intend to serve it, refrigerate it, wrapped in plastic, for up to 3 days or freeze it for up to a month. Bring it to room temperature for several hours before serving.

Paprika Roasted Salmon

I’ve spent the better part of an hour writing, deleting, and rewriting something to accompany this recipe.  To be blunt, I’ve got nothing.  Heck, I don’t even have a photo of the Paprika Roasted Salmon.  But don’t let any of that stop you from trying Paprika Roasted Salmon.

Paprika Roasted Salmon

Adapted from McCormick & Co.

BAH Note:  The original recipe, which was an add in Fine Cooking magazine, called for the salmon to first be marinaded for 30 minutes in a mix of orange juice, olive oil, and thyme leaves.  I’m sure that would be lovely if you were so inclined to give it a try.

  • 4 salmon fillets
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (I heart Penzy’s Chili 9000)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Heat the oven to 400 degrees and line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.

Combine the sugar, paprika, chili powder, cinnamon, orange zest, and salt in a small bowl.  Use a fork, or your fingers, to thoroughly combine the spices.

Place the salmon skin side down on the baking sheet and rub the spice mixture into the salmon.  Roast for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fish, until it easily flakes with with fork.

{printable recipe}

Chicken and Mushrooms

The Mistah has this habit that drives me kinda batty.  When we sit down to eat, he’ll say, “So tell me about this”.  I know this is his way of expressing interest but what I want to say most of the time in response is, “It’s a hot plate of food, now hush up and eat before it gets cold”.

When I served up Chicken and Mushrooms, I jumped ahead in our usual script.  As I handed him his plate, I said “It’s chicken and sauce.”  You see, another peculiar habit is his fascination with ‘sauce’.  Doesn’t really matter what kind, he’s into sauce.  And if a dish isn’t served with some, he’ll go rooting around in the refrigerator to see if there isn’t something of the sauce variety that he can put on his plate.  This has seriously led to more than one uncomfortable silence at the table after he’s doused something in soy sauce.

So it really didn’t matter what else I said.  Sauce was the magic word he needed to hear.

Chicken and Mushrooms

Adapted from Melissa d’Arabian

BAH Note:  This is one of those dishes that tastes even better the next day.  You might want to just go ahead and make a double batch to make sure you have some tasty leftovers.

  • 2 pounds bone in chicken thighs, skin removed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon herbs de provence
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Dry the chicken with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Heat half of the oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat.  Brown the chicken on both sides, working in batches if necessary.  Transfer the browned chicken to a plate.

Add the remaining oil to the pot and cook the onions until they begin to soften.  Add a quarter cup of the chicken broth to get any browned bits off the bottom of the pot.  Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and flour to the mushrooms and onion and cook for a few minutes.  Add the wine and deglaze the pot.  Return the chicken to the pot and add the and herbs de provence and the remaining chicken broth.  It should come almost to the top of the chicken.  Cover the pot and transfer it to the oven.  After 25 minutes, remove the lid and continue to cook another 25 minutes.

Carefully remove the pot from the oven and transfer the chicken to a plate.  Set the pot over high heat and reduce the sauce until it thickens a bit.  Turn the heat off and gradually add some of the sauce into the sour cream until it is loose.  Add the sour cream mixture into the pot and stir to combine.

Return the chicken to the pot, coat thoroughly with the sauce, and serve over noodles.

{printable recipe}

Flashback Friday – Notes on a Recipe Jacques Pepin’s Scallops Grenobolise

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 11/12/08 at Exit 51.

Notes On A Recipe – Jacques Pepin’s Scallops Grenobolise

Last week ended much the same way it began…by not having an important ingredient for something I had planned to make.  Even after I pledged that I would cross check my grocery list against my menu, I ended up not having any chocolate for the Cinnamon Scented Baked Chocolate Mousse Cake. But I was determined to give both of the Fast Food @ Home recipes a try, even if it meant another trip to the store.  I’d have to say that I’m pretty glad I did.  Because this was one fabulous meal. Continue reading “Flashback Friday – Notes on a Recipe Jacques Pepin’s Scallops Grenobolise”

Steak Tips and ‘Shrooms

I don’t have any kind of story to go with this recipe so I’m going to do a before and after and see where it leads.  See, some photographers are able to get their images right in the camera. Perfect white balance, great lighting, exquisite staging, and food that photographs well.

In all the time that I’ve been taking photos of the food on my plate, I’ve yet to become one of those photographers.  And while technology makes that ok, I strive to be better.  I want my straight out of camera (sooc) images to be so close to my final image that you almost can’t tell them apart.  Looking at the example above, you can see I’ve got a ways to go yet.

Some constraints, like the photogenic nature of foods, are out of my hands.  But other things, like lighting and balance, I need to become more familiar with.  Even though I’ve taken my camera off of the fully automatic settings and gone into manual mode, and I manually set my white balance, I don’t yet have the sense to instinctively know when I’m on the right track or when I’m setting myself up for disappointment.

Take the Steak Tips and ‘Shrooms up there.  SOOC it’s a pretty boring image.  There’s no depth; the whole thing feels flat.  When I was previewing the images, I should have picked up on that and thrown a napkin or something with texture down to bring in some visual interest.  SOOC the color is also quite dull.  Yeah, I don’t know what I could have done about that.  But my point is that I should have tried to do something so that I didn’t have to rely on Photoshop to saturate the color of the food so that it doesn’t look so washed out.

I suppose that the photos are like the cooking…it takes practice to get the feel for what I’m doing behind the camera or in front of the stove.  I feel like I’m making progress where the food is concerned.  The challenge now is to get that to translate to the images on the screen.

Steak Tips and ‘Shrooms

Adapted from The Washington Post

BAH Note:  The recipe from The Post suggested substituting tenderloin tips for the center cut fillet.  Please don’t make the mistake of using plain old steak tips, like I did.  The first time I made this, I had to ask the meat counter at Giant if they had any center cut fillets because they weren’t in the case.  The version using a center cut was so far superior to the one I made with generic steak tips (because all The Fresh Market could offer me was a $20/pound fillet mignon) that it was worth every curse word that came out of my mouth as I trimmed the silver skin and tissue off that center cut scrap.  Even when it was reheated in the microwave, the center cut meat was still tender, soft, and tasted meaty.  Straight out of the dutch oven, the tips were tough, dry, and bland.

BAH Tip:  If you don’t have red wine, just use an additional 1/2 cup beef broth.  And if you don’t have, or don’t want to use brandy, substitute 2 teaspoons broth.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 ounces center cut beef tenderloin, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 16 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 3/4 cup beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

Heat half of the oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add half of the beef cubes and brown on all sides.  Transfer the first batch to a plate, brown the remaining beef, and transfer them to the plate as well.

Add the remaining oil to the pan.  Add the onion, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for about 10 minutes or until the onion has softened.

Add the mushrooms, increase the heat to medium high, and cook until the mushrooms release their liquid and begin to brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Add the red wine to the pot and cook until the liquid reduces by half.

Whisk together the mustard and broth and add it to the pot once the wine has reduced.

Add the beef and any accumulated juices back to the pot.  Combine the cornstarch and brandy in a small bowl, stirring to make sure the cornstarch totally dissolves.  Add the cornstarch slurry to the pot and stir to combine.

Cook for another 3 to 5 minutes until everything is gently bubbling and the beef has just cooked through.  Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste before serving.

 {printable recipe}