Sunday, November 20, 2011

Brie en Croute


Brie baked in puffed pastry…basically, a buttery cheese wrapped in a buttery crust.  How can that not be delicious?  In this version, I wanted to bring in the flavors of cherry and almonds.  Creamy brie cheese is covered in cherry preserves, toasted almonds, and brown sugar, and then baked in a buttery, flaky crust, a bit of sweet, nutty goodness just waiting to be unwrapped.

Ingredients
½ pound wedge of brie
1 puff pastry sheet
1/3 cup cherry preserves
¼ teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon brown sugar
¼ cup sliced almonds
1 egg
1 tablespoon water

Instructions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a small bowl, mix the preserves and almond extract.  Place brie wedge in puff pastry and drizzle the preserve and almond extract mixture.  Sprinkle brown sugar and almonds on top and wrap in the puff pastry.  In a small bowl, whisk the egg and water and brush the egg mixture onto the pastry.  Bake for 25 minutes, or until the puff pastry turns golden brown.  Serve with fruit slices, crackers, baguette, or whatever floats your boat. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Perfect Peas



I have always had a fondness for peas, as long as they are not overcooked.  They seem so happy and playful, with a hint of sweetness just waiting to burst through their outer layer.  Seasoning gently with salt, pepper, and butter rounds out the flavor enough for my taste buds.  However, I have learned that not all of us feel that way about peas.  Namely, my husband.  Seth does not share my fondness, unfortunately.  So after tinkering with various combinations, I found that adding fresh herbs, lemon juice, and parmesan cheese imbues these little green orbs with savory pep.  Seth calls these perfect peas, because they are the only way he will eat them happily.

Ingredients
1 pound bag of frozen peas, steamed
1 tbsp butter, softened
1/8 cup chopped mint
1/8 cup chopped parsley
¼ teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, grated

Instructions
In a small bowl, mix butter, herbs, lemon juice, and parmesan cheese.  Melt mixture over cooked peas and serve.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chocolate and Szechuan Peppercorn Brownies



After seeing a recipe in Food and Wine for chocolate and Szechuan peppercorn brioche, I became obsessed with this combination.  Previously, I had only seen this spice used in savory foods, and here it was paired with chocolate!  The chocolaty goodness of brownies seemed like a great place to marry the flavors, and infusing the butter and the ganache with the peppercorns doesn't make the flavor too overpowering.

Ingredients
Brownies:
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick, broken
¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
1 tablespoon espresso
3 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
½ cup all-purpose flour

Ganache:
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350.  Grease an 8x8 baking dish.  In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter and add the peppercorns and the pieces of cinnamon stick.  Meanwhile, in a double boiler or microwave, melt the unsweetened chocolate and semisweet chocolate together.  Stir in the espresso to the melted chocolate.  Once the butter stops foaming and you can see browned bits at the bottom of the pan (about 5 minutes), take off heat and remove the peppercorns and cinnamon stick.  It may be easier to strain the contents of the pan and then return just the butter to it.  Stir the sugars, milk, vanilla, and salt into the butter in the pan.  Then stir in the cocoa powder and chocolate and espresso mixture.  Beat in the eggs, and then lastly, stir in the flour.  Bake in greased pan for about 25-30 minutes, until a tester comes out clean.  Feel free to underbake them a bit.  Once brownies are cooled, spread ganache.  I like to put them in the refrigerator to firm up the ganache. 

To make the ganache, bring the heavy cream and peppercorns to a simmer in a small pot. Strain the peppercorns and stir in semisweet chocolate chips. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Green Fruit Salad with Orange Yogurt Dressing



A tangy, citrus mixture coats sweet and sour bits of fruit to create an explosion of creamy, sweet, and zesty flavors in every bite. The emerald color of this fruit salad looks festive for the upcoming holidays, and it is super easy to toss together.

Ingredients
2 cups green grapes
2 green apples, cored and diced
3 kiwis, peeled, halved, and sliced
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon orange zest
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar

Instructions
In a large bowl, toss fruits together.  In a small bowl, whisk yogurt, orange juice and zest, and sugar.  Coat the tossed fruit with yogurt mixture.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Rice with Fried Egg and Sausage


This simple, yet hearty, breakfast has evolved and changed with us over the years, but it has always been there in some form or another; a comfort breakfast for those mornings when you really need it.  We began making this breakfast in the Japanese tradition taught to me by my parents, a raw egg cracked over freshly cooked rice and mixed with Japanese furikake seasoning.  These days, we prefer a hybrid Japanese-Hawaiian version, using a fried egg instead of raw egg, adding meat, and keeping the ingredients separate until each bite.  Using thick soy sauce drizzled on lightly allows the umami flavor to stand out as distinct from the creamy yolk and savory meat, and offers a light alternative to the Hawaiian gravy.  Keeping ingredients separated in a more concentrated form in the bowl allows the flavors to really play off of one another in each bite.

Ingredients
½ cup Calrose rice
1 egg
¼ tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon thick soy sauce
splash of Sesame oil
sprinkle of Nori Goma Furikake
1 turkey breakfast sausage link

Instructions
Cook rice fully in rice cooker or pot according to package directions.  Cook turkey sausage according to package directions; we generally just use a skillet.  For the egg, melt butter in skillet on medium heat.  Crack egg into skillet and fry just until egg white is cooked, or sunny-side up, roughly 1 minute.  Using a spatula to lightly break up the egg white around the yolk as it cooks will help ensure a fully cooked white, while keeping the yolk runny.  Put rice in a bowl, and lightly drizzle on sesame oil, thick soy sauce, and furikake seasoning.  Place the fried egg on top of the rice.  Chop up sausage and toss it in the bowl.  Just before eating, use a fork and knife to cut the egg up into small pieces and let the yolk run over the rice.

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