Saturday, September 26, 2009

Bread Pudding with a side of Rum Sauce

Inspiration: Left over baguette that is a few days old and too hard to eat. I didnt want to throw it away so i googled "old baguette recipes". After reading some blogs I decided that there were 2 options for old bread 1) french toast or 2) bread pudding. I decided to go with the latter.

Left over baguette cut into pieces
Milk (2 cups)
Vanilla (1 teaspoon)
Butter (2 tblsp)
Eggs 4
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Break bread into small pieces into an 8 inch square baking dish. Drizzle melted butter or margarine over bread. Raisins optional at this stage.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla (1/2 tsp ground cinnamon is optional here). Beat until well mixed. Pour over bread, and lightly push down with a fork until bread is covered and soaking up the egg mixture. Sprinke with brown sugar. Bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly tapped.

Rum sauce:
In a glass saucepan combine 1/4 stick of butter, 1 egg, 1 tsp vanilla, 1/2 cup brown sugar and heat on low heat while stirring. When sugar is mlted, add 1/4 cup brandy or rum.
Serve bread pudding with a spoon of the rum sauce. It is a light, fluffy and tasty dessert/brunch option.

Home made pizza with leeks, lamb and pecorino

INSPIRATION: Food and Wine Magazine, October 2009 issue and Cindy and Ernesto's visit.
I have recently been working with dough a lot and so I got inspired to make pizza. Plus Cindy and I are doing this toegther and Ernesto just stocked the fridge with some Sweetwater 420 that will be a great accompaniment to the pizza!!This recipe is for 4 mini pizza's.
3/4 to 1 pounds pizza dough (from whole foods frozen section), cut into 4 pieces
1 large leeks, sliced 1/4 inch thick (discard green end because it will be tough. slit lengthwise first and then slice thin)
3/4 pound ground lamb (you could use beef or ground chicken but the lamb flavor was right on for this recipe)
18 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 pound truffled pecorino cheese, thinly sliced (around 15 thin strips)
Four for dusting and olive oil for basting

Thaw out the dough in refrigerator that morning or a few hours before. The dough usually comes in a 1.5 lb block so I just used half and saved the rest for another day.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out each piece of dough to a 7-inch round. This could take time because pizza dough is a bit sticky and tends to stretch slowly.

Foil and oil 2 large inverted baking sheets and place the dough rounds on the sheets. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rest for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan or skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Add the leeks, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 8 minutes; transfer to a plate. Add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet. Add the lamb, season with salt and pepper and cook until no pink remains, about 5 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 500°. If you have a pizza stone, heat it on the bottom of the oven for 45 minutes. I didnt so I decided to use the large inverted baking sheet which worked well.
Top the rested dough with the leeks, lamb, tomatoes and pecorino cheese. Bake for about 4 minutes. Turn oven off and leave for 2 minutes.

Notes: Note that since I didnt use a pizza stone (although I think this would work really well if making pizza on the grill! but i dont have a grill either so maybe someday..) and I used the same inverted cookie sheet with the foil and the olive oil, my olive oil started burning at minute 4 so just be aware of that - it still doesn't harm the food and it was still delicious. That's why I turned oven off and let it sit for 2-3 more minutes before removing. The alternative professional way of doing this would be to generously flour a pizza peel (which is kinda like a wood flat shovel to slide pizza). Place a dough round on the peel and brush with olive oil. Then top with topping. Then slide the dough round onto the hot stone or baking sheet and bake for about 4 minutes.

Rita's Hot and Spicy Chicken Wings

Inspiration: Rita's recipe. I have been craving these wings forever!!! So when I saw the wings on sale, I bought 12 wings and decided to try and replicate Rita's wing recipe. The result was really really delicious. This is more of a chinese style, hot and spicy recipe based in soy and jalapeno chillies that is great even the next day.
12 -15 wings (the fresh ones from whole foods are meaty and inexpensive)
2 jalapenos (or other hot green chilli pepper) finely chopped with seeds; add more to make hotter; spice gets tempered with soy and sugar so dont worry about it getting too hot
2 scallions
2 pods minced garlic
sugar (1/4 cup)
Dark soy 1/3 to 1/4 cup based on texture
Lightly bread the wings in a mixture of flour and salt. Fry on medium to high heat in oil on a stainless steel saucepan. I used a combination of peanut oil and canola oil.

Wing Sauce:
Mix scallions, jalapenos, garlic, sugar, dark soy.
Coat the wings and serve. Adjust ingredients per your taste.
Coat wings and serve.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Greek Spanakopita (Spinach pie)

Makes 8 dinner size Spinakopita's. This is a wonderful rich spinach and feta pastry usually eaten as a snack in Greece. This particular recipie is for a larger Spinach pie and makes 8. Once made they can be frozen or refrigerated.
INSPIRATION and RECIPE: Barefoot Contessa (Back to Basics segment on Food Network)
Frozen chopped spinach ( 2 packs of frozen spinach -- 10 oz each; I used the 16 oz package of organic spinach from whole foods). This has to be thawed and squeeeezed dry. If using fresh you will need to boil and squeeze the leaves until you get about 3-4 cups.
Phyllo pastry 16 sheets: I used the frozen phyllo. This has to be thawed out in the refrigerator for an hour or so. Dont thaw outside -- the phyllo will end up sticking.
Feta cheese (1/2 lb): Try to use French or Greek feta (sheep or goat cheese ok).
1 small yellow onion or half of a bigger onion
3 scallions diced (cut in half and then put a horizontal cut in the white part to thin out, this makes it easier to dice)
3 eggs
1 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 stick butter melted for basting
3 tblsp Pine nuts toasted
Filling preparation:
Sautee onions in a stainless sautee pan in 1/4 cup olive oil till translucent (about 3 to 5 minutes). They dont need to turn black. Add the scallions and saute for 2 minutes.
In the meanwhile. place squeezed spinach in glass bowl. Add onion and scallion mix. Add the 3 eggs beaten lightly. Add 3 tblspoon of breadcrumbs. Add 1 tsp of Nutmeg. Add the salt and pepper. Toss. Cut Feta into half inch squares. Fold in Feta and toss. Add the pine nuts.
Phyllo pastry prep:
On a cutting board or on a clean counter top, place one layer. Using pastry brush, baste with butter. Sprinkle breadcrumbs. Add 2nd layer of phyllo. Add the butter, then the breadcrumbs. Repeat until 4th layer of phyllo. Add the butter but no breadcrumbs to that 4th payer. Turn pastry to a vertical position. Run a smooth cut down the center with knife.
Scoop 1/3 cup of the filling onto bottom end leaving bottom left corner free for strting the wrapping. Wrap pastry over filling in a traingle form. Wrap again staying true to the triangle shape and keep going till the end. Dont worry about filling -- it will all get covered by the time all the folds are done. Use butter to seal if needed.
Repeat for 7 more of these. Place on baking tray. Brush with butter. Srinkle coarse salt and pepper. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes. Cool and serve.