Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Fall of Man - Chocolate Soufflé Cookies

To me, there is nothing quite so primal to the senses as a fresh baked cookie. True, you can walk into a grocery store and purchase prepackaged cookies, but it just isn’t the same. I will concede that Pepperidge Farm “distinctive” cookies are pretty good, but they still pale in comparison to the “fresh baked” phenomenon that is a homemade cookie.

Come on, you know what I am talking about. The fragrance that wafts gently through the house, preceding the blast of heavenly aroma that emanates from the fire box when you open the door and remove that blessed sheet pan full of decadent deliciousness. The temptation begins as you move them, ever so carefully, to the cooling rack and wait… wait… wait… Until they are JUST cool enough so you don’t remove a layer of taste buds from your mouth. To distract yourself, you pour a tall glass of frosty milk (or a steaming cup of Joe) and still you wait…. and wait…. Until you finally can’t take it anymore; you must, must, must have one.

Thus, temptation wins, but you don’t care because you are thoroughly and completely enraptured. The stress and strain of the everyday world fall away… and it’s just you and your cookie.

I am thoroughly convinced that it was a freshly baked cookie that caused the “fall of man”. I mean come on… an apple? Really? No, I think not… Cookies man, it was totally cookies.

And I am fairly sure, for all you choco-holics out there, that these may be the culprit. They’re devilishly rich and chocolaty with a delicately crisp exterior harboring a dense and chewy center.
Oh yeah baby!!!! I would sell my soul for a plate of these.

Chocolate Soufflé Cookies

6 oz (172 g) Bittersweet 62% Chocolate
a couple drops of Orange Oil
2 large Egg Whites
Pinch of Kosher Salt
1/8 tsp Cream of Tarter
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/4 cup (1.75 oz) (50g) Granulated Sugar
2/3 cup (3 oz) (85 g) Almonds, ground fairly fine

Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C) degrees......

Place chopped Chocolate in a bowl and add a little Orange oil (not extract or the chocolate will seize)

Place the bowl over simmering water and melt the chocolate, then set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat Egg Whites with Cream of Tarter, Vanilla Extract and a pinch of salt to soft peaks.

Gradually beat in the Granulated Sugar and continue whipping egg whites to stiff peaks.

Fold in the ground Almonds,

Then fold in the cooled Chocolate.

Spoon or pipe small “Buttons” of the batter on a parchment lined baking sheet, leaving 1 inch between the mounds to allow for spreading and puffing.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until shiny and cracked on the top.

Allow to cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack.

Now it is time to dive into the chocolaty goodness….

Cross over to the Dark Side, we have cookies.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Visit From The Easter Pig - Scotch Eggs in Sauce Moutarde

I find it sad that the Easter Bunny gets so much press this time of year, yet nary a word to the children of America about the Jolly Easter Pig.   Maybe it's because the Easter Pig doesn't bestow copious amounts of tooth rotting candy upon the younger generation as the Easter Bunny does (oh yes, dentists laugh maniacally at this time of year)  The Easter Pig doesn't hide eggs all over the house in every nook and cranny (to be found 4 months later) either.  When the Easter Pig leaves his bundle of eggs, they are all safely tucked into the refrigerator.  Granted, he leaves annoying hoof prints on your sofa, but I feel this is a small price to pay for the Scotch Egg deliciousness that he has stowed in my ice box.

Yes, you read that right.  The Easter Pig doesn't leave colored eggs like the Bunny.  Oh No.  In magnanimous fashion, he deposits copious amounts of Scotch Eggs into the refrigerator.   ;)

mmmmm  Scotch Eggs, that delightful combination of a hard boiled egg wrapped in luscious sausage all breaded and then deep fried to a golden crunch.   Who needs chocolate eggs and jelly beans?  Not me!

So, Thank you Easter Pig!!!!

Image Courtesy of

In all seriousness, the "Scotch Egg" is really nothing more than English "Pub Food".  But hey, Pub goers need to eat too.  Personally, I like them served with Sauce Moutarde that has been spiked with a little horseradish as well.  Yes, Easter morning fodder at it's best.  After all, one can only east so much egg salad.

I blogged about Scotch Eggs before (back in February of 2009) but I figured that since it's the season, I would bring them back again....  

Scotch Eggs

12 Hard Boiled Eggs (medium eggs work best, but large are fine too)
A zip bag
2 lbs of Pork Sausage
Beaten Egg (for dredging)
2 cups Bread Crumbs (I mix Panko and regular Bread crumbs)
2 tsp Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
Peanut Oil
Sauce Moutarde (with HorseRadish)

I originally posted this as a recipe for 6 eggs, the only real difference is this a double batch.

Mix Bread crumbs with Nutmeg, Salt and Black Pepper.

Place 2 TB flour in a zipper bag, then coat your peeled and dried eggs with a light dusting of flour.

Divide you sausage into 12 pieces (about 3.25 oz) then wrap each egg completely in sausage.

Dip in beaten egg.

Roll in breadcrumb mixture.

When all the eggs have been wrapped and breaded, begin heating the oil in the deep fryer to about 350 degrees.
Drop 1 egg at a time into the hot oil and cook until golden brown.

Place on a layer of paper towels to drain and keep warm in a 175 degree oven while continuing to fry the remaining eggs.

Drop the temperature in the oven to 150 degrees (or just turn it off and leave the door closed) while you make.......

Sauce Moutarde

(with horseradish)

1/4 cup Egg Yolks - approximately 3 - 4 Large Egg yolks.
1 TB Water
1/2 Tsp Kosher Salt
1/4 Tsp Sugar
1/2 TB freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
20 TB Unsalted Butter
1 1/2 TB Horseradish
1 1/2 TB Dijon Mustard

Combine Yolks, Water, Kosher Salt, Sugar, Lemon Juice, and Cayenne in a bowl; whisking well.
Place this over gently simmering water and whisk until it becomes thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Remove the bowl from the water and begin whisking in the butter in 1 TB chunks.

If the sauce cools to the point where the butter no longer melts into the sauce, place the bowl back over the simmering water to heat it back up.
When all the butter has been incorporated, whisk in the Dijon and Horseradish.

Pour into a pitcher that can be immersed in hot water to keep the sauce warm.

Slice Scotch Eggs and serve with the Sauce Moutarde on the side.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Бефстроганов - Beef "à la" Stroganov

I have to admit that this is not really a Stroganov recipe anymore.  Which is probably a good thing, because I think my "Russian" in the title is wrong. 

My entire family has tweaked the original recipe so many times over the years that it has definitely become "Americanized".  Then again, I guess it can't really be helped on some level.  It started with the lack of Smetana.

Smetana is an Eastern European soured cream product that has the same properties as Crème Fraîche.  It doesn't curdle under heat like Yogurt and "Sour Cream" do.  It's also not quite as thick as Sour Cream, however, it is more sour than Crème Fraîche, thus the conundrum.  So to produce the same effect, we originally mixed Sour Cream with Heavy Cream and Lemon Juice to produce a "smetana type" product.  Then Crème Fraîche suddenly became available on a regular basis and a shift occurred.  NOW we mix Crème Fraîche with a little Sour Cream and Lemon Juice.  This works significantly better than the old way.  (But in a pinch your can still mix 8 oz of Sour Cream with 2 oz of Heavy Cream and 1 tsp Lemon Juice)

Over the years we have dropped the Dijon Mustard from the recipe...  Which is technically what makes it NOT Stroganov, being by definition "Beef in Mustard and Sour Cream".  Though occasionally I throw it in anyway.  In this family it's all about the wine, sour cream and homemade egg noodles... LOL

That is the one thing that has never changed over the years.... Homemade Egg Noodles.

While I realize that it's more traditional to serve Stroganov ("Stroganoff" in French) with crispy shoestring potatoes, I really enjoy it over noodles.  It's a comfort food thing.  Which is why I was so diligently making Egg Noodles yesterday to fill the freezer shelf.  So I am always prepared for....

Beef à la Stroganoff

1 lb Chuck or Sirloin Steak, cubed in 1 1/2 pieces
1 1/2 TB AP Flour
1 TB Olive Oil
4 TB Unsalted Butter, divided
1 White Onion, chopped
8 oz Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp Tomato Paste
2 tsp Dijon Mustard
4 oz Pinot Noir
2 tsp Lemon Juice
8 oz Crème Fraîche      - or -   8 oz Sour Cream
2 oz cup Sour Cream    - or -   2 oz Heavy Cream
Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
12 oz Fresh Egg Noodles tossed with Unsalted Butter

Place cubed Beef in a storage bag with the AP Flour, seal and toss well.

Heat 2 TB Olive oil in a saute pan, then add the flour coated Beef and saute until well browned.

Remove from pan and set aside.

Melt 2 TB Unsalted Butter in the saute pan.

When Hot, add the Onions and saute until soft.

Remove from the pan and set aside.

Melt remaining 2 TB Butter in the saute pan.

When hot, add the Mushrooms and saute until browned.

Remove from the pan and set aside as well.

Deglaze the pan with 4 oz of Pinot Noir, lower the heat to Medium-Low and let this reduce by 1/3 (about 2 minutes).

Add the Tomato Paste and Dijon Mustard stirring to combine.

In a small bowl combine the Lemon Juice, Crème Fraîche and Sour Cream (or the Lemon Juice, Sour Cream and Heavy Cream)

Remove the saute pan from the heat and stir in the Crème Fraîche/Sour Cream mixture.

Add the Beef, Onions and Mushrooms back to the pan and continue simmering for 5 minutes.

While the Stroganov is simmering, drop the Fresh Egg Noodles into a pot of salted boiling water for 3 minutes...

Drain well and toss with a little bit of Unsalted Butter. (about 1 TB)

Season with Kosher Salt and Black Pepper, then serve over, or tossed with, Homemade Egg Noodles (or better yet, with crispy Shoe-string potatoes on the side)