Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Daring Kitchen: December challenge - Poach to Perfection!

Print Friendly and PDF

Blog Check in lines: Jenn and Jill have challenged The Daring Cooks to learn to perfect the technique of poaching an egg. They chose Eggs Benedict recipe from Alton Brown, Oeufs en Meurette from Cooking with Wine by Anne Willan, and Homemade Sundried Tomato & Pine Nut Seitan Sausages (poached) courtesy of Trudy of Veggie num num.

Jenn, of Jenn Cuisine, and Jill have offered us up a great challenge this month.  I have never poached an egg before.... hmmmm, nor for that matter have I ever eaten one.  To be honest, it sounded a bit repulsive to me.  I tolerate eggs at best and undercooked whites make me want to gag.  Not a pretty picture! I just had it in my head that poached eggs equalled undercooked, runny whites.  Now I suppose that I could have made my poached eggs undercooked with runny whites, but I cooked the heck out of them so they turned out pretty darn good.

 I truly had it within my heart to not only do the poached eggs and hollandaise sauce, but also make my own English muffins.  But alas, here it is 6:50 p.m. and I just finished cooking up the eggs and now work on my blog to have this all in before deadline.  What do they say about the road being paved with good intentions???  Any way, I have an amazing sounding English muffin recipe that I WILL try my hand at.... some day.

Eggs Benedict

Serves 4

4 eggs (size is your choice)
2 English muffins
4 slices of Canadian bacon/back bacon (or plain bacon if you prefer)
Chives, for garnish
Splash of vinegar (for poaching)

For the hollandaise (makes 1.5 cups):
3 large egg yolks
1 tsp. (5 ml) water
¼ tsp. (1 ¼ ml/1½ g) sugar
12 Tbl. (170 g/6 oz.) unsalted butter, chilled and cut in small pieces ยบ
½ tsp. (2 ½ ml/3 g) kosher salt
2 tsp. (10 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

1. Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water and bring to a simmer.
2. Cut the chilled butter into small pieces and set aside.
3. Whisk egg yolks and 1 tsp. (5 ml) water in a mixing bowl large enough to sit on the saucepan without touching the water (or in top portion of a double boiler). Whisk for 1–2 minutes, until egg yolks lighten. Add the sugar and whisk 30 seconds more.
4. Place bowl on saucepan over simmering water and whisk steadily 3–5 minutes (it only took about 3 for me) until the yolks thicken to coat the back of a spoon.
5. Remove from heat (but let the water continue to simmer) and whisk in the butter, 1 piece at a time. Move the bowl to the pan again as needed to melt the butter, making sure to whisk constantly.
6. Once all the butter is incorporated, remove from heat and whisk in the salt, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper (if using).
7. Keep the hollandaise warm while you poach your eggs in a thermos, carafe, or bowl that you’ve preheated with warm water.
8. If the water simmering in your pan has gotten too low, add enough so that you have 2–3 inches of water and bring back to a simmer.
9. Add salt and a splash of vinegar (any kind will do). I added about a tablespoon of vinegar to my small saucepan (about 3 cups of water/720 ml of water), but you may need more if you’re using a larger pan with more water.
10. Crack eggs directly into the very gently simmering water (or crack first into a bowl and gently drop into the water), making sure they’re separated. Cook for 3 minutes for a viscous but still runny yolk.
11. While waiting for the eggs, quickly fry the Canadian/back bacon and toast your English muffin.
12. Top each half of English muffin with a piece of bacon. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon, draining well, and place on top of the bacon. Top with hollandaise and chopped chives, and enjoy

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Have the Cake Challenge: Shortbread

Print Friendly and PDF
This month Nancy, of the Crafty Pepper, challenged us to make shortbread.   Shortbread is said to have originated in Scotland (Scottish Shortbread) then moving on to the United Kingdom becoming known as English Shortbread.  Both recipes reportedly produce similar results: a not too sweet, buttery cookie.  
Nancy shared with us a recipe from joepastry.com.  I twisted the recipe just a little bit by adding some raw sugar on top and adding dried cranberries.... yummers!

Shortbread Recipe
adapted from joepastry.com

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup of either corn starch or rice flour
2/3 cup extra fine sugar (also known as caster sugar)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes  (do not use margarine!!!)
3/4 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons raw sugar (optional for topping)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional for topping)
Preheat your oven to 425. Combine the flour(s), sugar and salt in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Stir on low to blend. Turn the mixer up to medium speed and add the cold butter. Beat 2-3 minutes until the butter is fully incorporated and a dough comes together. It will range in texture from crumbly to smooth depending on your flour and the ambient temperature.

Line a 9" cake layer pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper, laying in the dough, covering it with another round of waxed paper, and pressing down on it with a second layer pan. Refrigerate the dough 30 minutes to firm it. Loosen the edges of the dough with a short knife, peel off the top layer of waxed paper, and turn the round out onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Peel off the second piece of waxed paper, top with cinnamon if desired.

Put the round into the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 300. Bake 20 minutes, then remove the round from the oven. Insert a 2" round cutter in the very center of the round (this will be removed later). Score the shortbread with a sharp knife, like spokes on a wheel, into 16 pieces. Use a cake tester or wooden skewer to poke regular holes in the shortbread (the holes are part decorative, part functional, as they allow gas and steam to escape, keeping the shortbread dense).

Return the shortbread to the oven and bake an additional 40 minutes until only very lightly browned. Remove from the oven and sprinkle on raw sugar. Cool 10 minutes then remove the round cutter (saving the cookie at the center for yourself) and slice the shortbread along the scores into blunt pie-shaped pieces. Cool completely, a minimum of 3 hours.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Lasagne Soup

Print Friendly and PDF
I have been waiting for the perfect time to try this recipe...this was the day.  Too much snow and freezing cold temperatures - could that make for a better day to have soup? I found this recipe over on Paula Deen's web site but had to make several alterations to make it palatable for my picky family.
I'm just going to post the recipe with my adaptation but I encourage you to take a look at the original recipe, too.

Not Quite Lasagne Soup
adapted from Paula Deen

1 pound Jimmy Dean Italian Sausage
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped (Ok, this would have been perfect for me so I included it in recipe.  Had to leave out for hubby though)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar
2 cans Swanson's Reduced Sodium chicken broth
2 (14.5-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes with basil and olive oil (regular petite diced tomatoes would work great too... I just love these!)
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
4 ounces slightly broken egg noodles
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

In a Skillet combine sausage and onion; just before completely browning add the garlic, finish browning.  Drain off grease.
In a large sauce pan: stir in thyme, brown sugar, broth, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, and salt (1/2 teaspoon if desired. I didn't think it needed it). Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; add sausage mixture and reduce heat; simmer 20 minutes.
Add noodles, and simmer until noodles are tender. Stir in Parmesan cheese.
Preheat broiler.
Ladle soup into 8 to 10 ovenproof bowls. Evenly sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.
Broil soups, 6-inches from heat, 3 to 4 minutes, until cheese is browned and bubbly.

To make again I would make the following changes:
  I would add the parmesan along with the mozzarella... going lighter on the mozzarella.  I found that to much of the cheese sunk to the bottem and just became heavy.  I would cook the pasta separately from the soup and put the pasta into the bowls then add the soup.  Cooking it the above way my noodles drank up most of the liquid after setting for a bit.