Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fanning the Flames of Passion - Crêpes Passion

It's that time again. The BakeSpace International Taste Tour is traveling through the Wonderful World of Crêpes. This was kind of serendipitous for me, since I was already on a Crêpe binge anyway. So you know the Crêpes Sucrée that I made about 2 weeks ago....? Well I stored them in the freezer until I was ready for this dish.

I was REALLY excited to make this dish. I had it all planned out, as I have been toying with this, in my head, over the last year. Then I ran into a snafu. I was unable to obtain any ripe passion fruit. Luckily, I had Passion Fruit juice, Ceres brand, in the cupboard to use as my last resort.

Sadly it's "laced" with apple and pear juices for sweetness. Granted, it's great that it's 100 percent juice and contains no high fructose corn syrup, but it played down the exotic tartness that IS passion fruit. Which kind of bummed me out. Of course, I now had to drop the sugar from my original plan and try to reduce the juice to intensify the flavor. Still too sweet... So, I added Key Lime juice to brighten the acidity a little without modifying the flavor too much. Then, I figured, since I had already adulterated my (already adulterated) passion fruit with lime juice, that a few Wild Lime leaves would add a nice perfume to the dish; especially if I tossed in a hint of Canton (Ginger Cognac).

Flames of Passion

1 recipe Crêpes Sucrée
1 1/4 cup Passion Fruit juice
2 oz unsalted butter
3 leaf lobes from Wild Lime (Makroot), fine chiffonade
1 TB Water
1 TB Key Lime juice
2 TB Canton (Ginger Liqueur)
1/4 cup Light Rum

Make crêpes and set aside. (or thaw some out)

Place 2 Lime Leaves on a cutting board and fold them over.

Cut out the stem. (you only need 3 of the lobes)

Then Chiffonade thinly.

Place 1 cup of Passion Fruit juice in a small sauce pan, and reduce too 3/4 cup.

Melt butter in a small skillet, add passion fruit reduction, lime leaves, water and key lime juice.

Bring mixture to a simmer for 3 minutes, then carefully dip each crepe in the sauce,

and fold crêpes into quarters and arrange in a chaffing dish.

After all the crêpes have been dipped, folded and arranged, carefully add rum and Canton to the sauce, stir to combine, try to not let it catch fire yet, but bring it back to a simmer.

If your chaffing dish has a heat source underneath, ignite it now. (I used another skillet on the stove)

Carefully pour the Passion sauce over the Crêpes,

let the mixture simmer again, then ignite, just like you would for Crêpe Suzette.

Let the flame die on it's own, then kill the heat source underneath the chaffing dish.

Serve while warm with a sprinkling of Passion Fruit Seeds. (I used green Passion Fruit seeds just for a visual)

Alternately, you can skip the rum/Canton step, and arrange crêpes in a shallow oven proof dish, pour sauce over crêpes and broil for 4-5 minutes before serving.

Verdict - I don't think it was passion fruity enough. The Makroot lime made for an exotic fragrance... which was nice. But it REALLY needs real passion fruit pulp. Then I think it would have been completely awesome!! (sigh) Next time.

And NOW on with the Tasty Tour...... See what all my Beeps (BakeSpace peeps) have been up to as they take you on a tour of the wonderful world of the Crêpe in all it's form.

(Sorry, this iframe plugin malfunctioned)

Thank you for joining us on out International Taste Tour of the wonderful world of crêpes.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Using your Noodle - Gingered Chicken Ramen with Bok Choy

I promise that this is the last one... Cause I think I am completely Ramen'ed out for awhile.

There really isn't an interesting back story to this except that I figured since the first dish I did focused more on a basic "Noodle soup" aspect and the second focused on bringing a more "French" flair to the dish, that I should do something that smacked of the Asian origins of Ramen noodles. So this is what I use to do when I was tired of eating it as a soupish type dish, and focuses more on Pan-Asian flavors as well as the "noodles" themselves when serving, as the broth is discarded.

Gingered Chicken Ramen with Bok Choy

1 pkg Chicken Ramen (although Pork works just as well for this)
2 TB Orange Juice
1 Baby Bok Choy
1/2 tsp Ginger Powder (although this is better with freshly grated)
1/4 tsp dried Orange Peel
1 egg

Remove the core and separate the ribs of the Bok Choy.

Cut off the top leaf part and reserve, then dice the ribs as you would celery.

Place 1 3/4 cups of water in a small sauce pan along with 2 TB Orange Juice, the diced Bok Choy, dried Ginger and dried Orange Peel; bringing to a boil over medium heat.

Add the noodles and let boil for 2 minutes.

Crack an egg into the sauce pan.

Stir slowly with a fork so the egg pieces are larger and simmer for 1 minute more.

Remove from heat and add the reserved Bok Choy leaves.

Stir them into the noodles and let set for 5 minutes. This will allow the noodles to absorb some of the stock.

Strain out any remaining broth and serve the noodles.

Serve with a sprinkle of more powdered ginger if desired.

So these last 3 posts I have shared with you some of the "things" I do to my Ramen noodles. Do you do anything different to yours? What's your favorite flavor? (Mine is actually the Chili Lime Shrimp)


Monday, September 28, 2009

Reminiscing With Ramen - Chicken Tarragon Cream

I just figured that I should regale you all with at least two or three of my old Ramen concoctions before I let the matter drop.

This is one of my more experimental attempts, granted, this WAS about 15 years ago, or maybe 16. Either way, as I stated before... Flavor availability at the time was limited. I have always loved mushrooms with tarragon, especially when cream becomes involved. I think of it as a quintessential combination... Sort of a manage a trio of flavor, if you will. Thus it was that this recipe arose utilizing the chicken flavor of Ramen noodles.

In case you are curious, most of the "flavor packets" contain little more than whatever "flavor" of Bullion along with MSG, of course, and spices which usually consist of only Onion, Garlic and Chives. So you are pretty free to add just about ANY herbs to Ramen that you wish.

Chicken Tarragon Cream

1 pkg Chicken Ramen
1/2 Rib of Celery, Diced
1/2 tsp Tarragon
Pinch of Dried Lemon Zest (cause I packed up my MicroPlane zester)
Pinch of Nutmeg
5 Medium Sized Mushrooms; Quartered
1/4 Cup Half & Half of if you are feeling particularly decadent... Light or Heavy whipping cream.

Place 1 3/4 cups water in a saucepan along with the Celery, the Seasoning Packet, Tarragon, Lemon Zest and Nutmeg.

Meanwhile, while the water is coming to a boil, heat some olive oil in a small skillet and sauté Mushrooms; then remove from heat and set aside.

Add noodles to boiling water.

When there is about 50 seconds left, add the sautéed Mushrooms.

When 30 seconds left, add the Half & Half or Cream and let the Ramen come back just to a simmer then remove from heat.

Place in a bowl and enjoy with another sprinkle of Nutmeg or Tarragon or garnish with a Lemon slice.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

My Udon Period

I just have to say, that my mom is gonna get a big kick out of this. I have hit 210 posts, so this was bound to come up sooner or later. LOL

I have been packing my apartment, making ready for my move to Portland, and have decided to tackle the kitchen. HA HA... Anyone who has seen, either in person or in pictures, what my apartment kitchen looks like will be fully aware of the monumental task that is before me. The problem, if you haven't already guessed, is that, well, I kind of like to cook and bake. Yeah, just a little bit over the last 13 years now.

This has created a tiny little problem. There is not an apartment anywhere in the world that has a large enough kitchen to store all my pots, pans, sheets, tins, mixing bowls, dishes, utensils, ramekins and various other gadgets, both manual and electric, as well as any specialty cookware like crepe pans, waffle irons, brioche molds or aebleskiver pans. In fact, I have decided what I really need to do is rent an industrial sized kitchen and string a cot in the dry pantry. AH, the "bliss factor".

The point I am attempting to make is, now that I have begun packing my kitchen, and cupboards are becoming bare of "accoutrement", I am reminded of those bygone days of my "Udon Period". I joke about this a lot, because it sounds very "artsy".   I mean, I am kinda, sorta, maybe just a little bit, creative-ish, sometimes anyway. At least I think so, on occasion.

While it's true that "Soba" would be a better term for it, "Udon" just sounds better. What I speak of is those years preceding my obsession with cooking. When I was a college age know it all, spreading my wings, living life on the edge and eating an OH SO healthy diet of cold cuts, and white bread (no Mayo). Occasionally iceberg lettuce would make an appearance. After all, one should always eat vegetables, right? ;)

I had a small sauce pan and a large pot for boiling water (in case someone in the building was having a baby, cause lord knows I didn't know how to cook pasta) and a cast iron skillet to fry eggs in, but that was the extent of my cookware. Granted, my ability to fry an egg properly left A LOT to be desired, but back then I really didn't care if my fried eggs could been thrown against the wall and bounce like a "superball" or flubber. The one thing I COULD "cook" though, was Ramen Noodles. TA DA!

Ramen really is a strange beast. It's absolutely terrible for you. But somehow comforting. My theory is that it's a "noodle soup" type food which reminds people of "chicken noodle soup". I started out with a simple preparation, according to the directions. Over time this evolved. Now mind you there were only 5 flavors back then... Oriental, Beef, Chicken, Pork and Shrimp. None of this Chili Lime Shrimp or Creamy Chicken or Mushroom Chicken... I could go on, but I won't. OK, just one more... BBQ Pork.. Only 5 flavors can get a little boring after awhile. Especially when you are eating it for lunch AND dinner. It is because of this, that the allure of flavor combining and, consequently, actual cooking began.

I started experimenting with flavor additions. Asparagus with Chicken... Mushrooms & Broccoli with Beef... Carrots, Onion and Celery with Oriental... Rosemary with Chicken or Pork... I even added Chili Powder and Lime to the Shrimp (before it was an official flavor). If I wanted more protein, I would simply crack an egg into it and stir. (this was my favorite, cause it reminds me of a noddle laden Egg Drop Soup). I would put ANYTHING in Ramen just to see how it would taste. Eventually this spurred me into my first "Pasta" dish. But that is another story. (did you know that dry Pasta needs to boil A LOT longer than 3 minute?)

So as I sit here an reminisce while my kitchen slowly empties of all but the most basic of cooking paraphernalia, I leave you with this easy manifestation of Ramen that I usually consume when the mood strikes at 1:30 AM while packing to move....

Revamped Ramen

1 pkg Ramen (your favorite flavor)
1/2 a small carrot, diced
1/2 rib of celery, diced
1 egg

Bring fresh water to a boil with the carrots, celery and the seasoning packet.

When water beings to boil, break the Ramen block into 4 pieces and add to the water.

OK, here is the bestest part... The incredible edible egg.....

When there are 45 seconds left on the timer, crack the egg into the saucepan.

Stir with a fork to break up the egg; the faster you stir, the smaller the egg pieces will be.

Pour into a bowl and garnish with a little chopped parsley.

I usually add a touch of black pepper as well. The nice thing is that aside from the extremely high sodium content, this is actually fairly easy on the stomach when you have the flu.


Friday, September 25, 2009

I'm On a Roll!! - White Castle-esque Sliders

Since I am in the process of moving, or should I say "I am in a packing frenzy", as well as yard sale melodrama. (yea, I am having another one this weekend) I have been on the hunt for quick and simple recipes to prepare. When I saw my friend Spryte's blog post about these, I KNEW I had to make them.

My only White Castle experience has been from the frozen case at the local Mega Mart. Well, and that movie with Susan Sarandon and James Spader called "White Palace" in which the burger bar was loosely based on a White Castle, though be it very loosely. The movie really had nothing to do with the actual sliders themselves, though.

So it was with a very high level of anticipation, that I executed this delicious recipe. Luckily, I had made buttermilk yeasted rolls the night before (recipe forthcoming - cause I didn't take any pictures) so I was completely set to travel down the path of belly busting burger bliss.

Many thanks to Robin Sue from the Big Red Kitchen and Spryte from Spryte's Place for posting this recipe. They were awesome!! I will never purchase a box of frozen White Castles again...

I only made a half batch, because, well, it's only me and I can only eat so much beef before I get completely "Beefed" out. Luckily one of my friends was over helping me pack, so he was able to help me put a serious dent in the 12 burgers. I left out the pickles, because I didn't have any and I was not going to run to the store to replenish something that would get packed up and have to be drug to Oregon with me; especially since both my Dad and my brother Matt make AWESOME homemade pickles, so they would probably never get eaten anyway. I added a little Chipotle Powder to the seasoning, just to give em a little kick. ;)

White Castle-esque Sliders

1/4 cup dehydrated Chopped or Minced Onion flakes
1 lb ground Chuck- 80/20 (that is 20% fat content - although I think I will use 85/15 next time)
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper
Chipotle Chili Powder
4 slices Sharp White Cheddar cheese (or 3 sliced cheddar and 1 slice provolone)
12 Yeasted Dinner Rolls (You can use store bought if you like)
optional - 12 Dill Pickle Chips

Evenly spread the onions on the bottom of a 9x9 inch baking pan.

Press the ground beef into the pan, on top of the onion flakes, making 1 one giant Hamburger patty; then sprinkle with Salt, Pepper and Chipotle Powder.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.

Use paper towels to soak up the grease on the top of the burger. (There is gonna be A LOT; I had to pour some out too)

Top with cheddar cheese, return to oven for 3 more minutes. (I only had 3 slices of Cheddar left, so I had to break into the Provolone) Incidentally, with all the onions, this would be awesome with blue cheese as well, just drop the Chipotle Powder.

Remove from oven, let set about 5 minutes.
Cut into 12 patties and place on sliced dinner rolls. (remember to scoop up some of the onion layer with spatula so it soaks into the bottom bun - YUM!).

Top with a pickle if you so desire.
Serve immediately.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Summer Days Drifting Away, But Oh... the Potato Salad

Nothin' tastes better, on those hot Summer days, when the grill is fired up, than the cool creaminess of potato salad. It's just summer incarnate. Sadly, yesterday was the last day of summer and, much to my chagrin, I realized that I have not made a single potato salad. How was this possible? I have absolutely NO idea. It must have something to do with Mercury being in retrograde or some other cosmic force that has kept me from realizing, and making, this harbinger of "fun in the sun". So I decide that it was time, even though it is technically Autumn now, to whip up my favorite potato salad.

I really DO love this salad... The Vons/Safeway deli use to carry something similar. In fact, when I came up with this, I was originally trying to duplicate their recipe, cause it had been discontinued. Caution.... If you don't like dill, you ain't gonna like this, cause it's gotta lotta dill in it. You might even say, it's a "dilly" of a potato salad. HAR D HAR HAR...

Dilled Potato Salad

4 lbs small Red Potatoes
3/4 Cup Scallions, sliced (although this is even better with minced Red Onion)
1 1/2 TB Olive Oil
6 TB fresh Dill, minced
1 1/2 TB Red Wine Vinegar
3/4 Cup Aioli (Sauce Aioli)
3/4 Cup Greek Yogurt
3/4 tsp Dijon Mustard
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp Kosher Salt
1 1/4 tsp Black Pepper

Cut potatoes into bite sized pieces and cook until tender.

Drain and chill before continuing.

Make Aioli while potatoes are chilling. (which I actually did yesterday)

Mince onion and toss with potatoes, dill and olive oil.

In a small bowl mix Vinegar, Aioli, Yogurt, Dijon, Lemon Zest, Salt, and Pepper.

Pour over potato mixture and toss.

Chill 4 hours then devour directly from the bowl with a BIG spoon. ;)