Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pie for Derby Day, Kentucky That Is

This week there's lots of talk about Cinco de Mayo but an American tradition, the Kentucky Derby, is also this week. Saturday at 5 pm the horses are running for the roses in Louisville.

Although I've not attended the Derby I do like the traditional foods served that day. Mint Juleps are made with Kentucky bourbon and the same bourbon flavors many Classic Pecan Pies.

"Derby Pie" is a registered trademark of Kern's Kitchen in Prospect, KY and is made from a secret family recipe created in the 1920s.

This recipe is from Baking Basics and Beyond.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Toasting the pecans really enhances their nutty flavor. Toast the pecans while you prepare the filling. The bourbon is optional—omit it if you prefer.


Pastry for a 9-inch single-crust pie

3/4 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon Kentucky bourbon, if desired
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted

1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoons Kentucky bourbon, if desired

Heat oven to 375°F with oven rack in lower third.

Roll out pastry into an 11-inch circle. Loosely roll dough around rolling pin and lift it into 9-inch pie pan. Unroll and press dough into pan edges and bottom, making sure that the pastry is not stretched.

Combine sugar, corn syrup, eggs, and salt in medium bowl, and beat with a wire whisk until smooth. Slowly stir in butter and rum (if using) and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans and pour filling into prepared crust.
Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until filling is set except for 1-inch diameter section in center of pie. You can test this using a knife, which should come out clean but will be wet.
Cool on wire cooling rack about 2 hours before serving.

Beat whipping cream on High speed in bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the whisk until soft peaks form. Scrape down sides of bowl and add powdered sugar and rum (if using). Beat until sugar is dissolved and stiff peaks form. Chill until serving.
Place a dollop of whipped cream on each piece of pie before serving. When I serve this warm, I usually accompany it with ice cream.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Seasonal Favorites for Meatless Meal

The appearance of tender pale green stalks of asparagus in the supermarket is always one of the first signs of spring. Fresh halibut, available from March to November, starts to appear about the same time. Select Pacific halibut that comes from sustainable fisheries. Select a thick piece of halibut so it isn’t overcooked when it’s baked. This recipe is easily doubled- double the ingredients and bake two packets

Select crisp pale green asparagus with tight firm buds. It will be fresher of it is stored with the stalks in ice. Whether you prefer thin stalks or fatter stalks it is important that they are uniformly thick. To prepare--just snap off the bottoms of the stalks and rinse well. I usually peel the bottom of fatter stalks but this is just a personal choice.

Halibut and Asparagus in Parchment
Makes 2 servings

8 stalks asparagus
1 (8-12 ounce) halibut fillet, about 1 inch thick
1 teaspoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon white wine or water
2 lemon wedges

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Snap off the bottoms of the asparagus stalks and place them in a microwave safe dish. Add 2 tablespoons water and microwave on high 1 ½ to 2 minutes. By precooking the asparagus it will be cooked tender crisp when the fish is cooked.

Place a 15-inch square of parchment paper on a baking sheet and fold in half. Place the halibut along the fold and cover with the asparagus. Sprinkle with the shallot, lemon rind, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Dot with the butter and add the wine. Seal the parchment by folding the edges together several times. It’s important that you get the packet sealed so that the fish can cook in the steam inside.

Bake 18 minutes or until the paper is puffed and browned. Remove the packet from the oven and open carefully, allowing the steam to escape. Check the center of the halibut to be sure it’s cooked through. If it isn’t place the packet back in the oven for 2 to 3 minutes longer. Divide in half and garnish with lemon wedges.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Best Baking Books

The James Beard Foundation has compiled a list of 13 essential baking books. Here is th list:

1. Baking:From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, 2006
2. Beard on Bread by James Beard, 1995
3. The Book of Great Desserts by Maida Heatter, 1999
4. The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart, 2001
5. The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Berenbaum, 1988
6. Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax, 2000
7. Chocolat by Alice Medrich, 1990
8. The Fannie Farmer Baking Book by Marion Cunningham, 1996
9. Great Pies and Tarts by Carole Walter, 1998
10. The Italian Baker by Carol Field, 1985
11. Martha Stewart's Cookies by Martha Stewart, 2008
12. My Bread by Jim Lahey, 2009
13. The Simple Art of Perfect Baking by Flo Braker, 2003

I have many of them on my bookshelf and many more. One I especially like is The Baker's Dozen Cookbook edited by Rick Rodgers, 2001. I also like the King Arthur Baking Cookbooks.

I must also recommend Baking Basics and Beyond by Pat Sinclair, 2006. Not as great as those listed above but a personal favorite!!

What are your favorites? I need to get some more!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Dinner at OM

Last night Les Dames d'Escoffier held a benefit at OM restaurant in Minneapolis. One of the partners, Raghavan Iyer was one of the hosts and talked about Indian food. Dara Moskowitz, author of Drink This With Wine spoke briefly after the dinner.

The main dining room is located in the basement of the building and is softly lit. There is a chandelier of crystals on clear strings that glows in the central stairwell. I was so busy visiting with friends and meeting new friends that that is all I noticed of the decor.

The food, however is a different story. Servers passed hors d'oeuvres consisting of a split lentil wafer topped with an avocado tamarind chutney. Very spicy in my mouth!

We were seated for a Roasted Beet Salad Chukander Ka Salad. Organic greens delicately dressed with a raisin vinaigrette. My entree, Lobster Kari, was a medium lobster tail served on a black pepper, cinnamon and coconut milk sauce with lime rice noodles and coconut baby spinach. The lobster meat was infused with the flavors of the sauce, and beautifully presented.

We finished with Fresh Pineapple stewed with blackened red chiles and golden raisins and served warm over vanilla ice cream. Raghavan said that the pineapple was usually an accompaniment to fish but this new combination was extraordinary. The flavors were dancing in my mouth, peppery, warm and silky, cool ice cream with sweet pineapple.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Time to Finish Any Easter Eggs

If you still have any hard-cooked eggs left from the Easter bunny's visit, it's time to use them up. Here's a simple recipe for Deviled Eggs. Everybody loves to eat them but nobody ever makes them. I use the same dressing for making Egg Salad for sandwiches.

Deviled Eggs

6 hard cooked eggs, peeled and cut in half
3 tablespoons light mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon honey mustard
Fresh chives

Carefully remove the yolks from the whites and set the whites aside.

Placed the yolks in a medium bowl and mash with a fork until no lumps remain or press through a strainer. Stir in the mayonnaise, sugar, salt, mustard and vinegar.

Using a heaping tablespoonful mound the yolk mixture in the whites. Garnish with fresh chives and sprinkle with paprika if desired.

Arrange deviled eggs on an egg plate or on a bed of shredded lettuce.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Still Have Leftovers from Easter?

I appeared on KARE 11 Showcase MN today and talked about Easter leftovers- mostly ham
Here is the link to Showcase


I cube leftover ham and chop it finely in my food processor to use in this recipe. You could also used diced or ham cut into thin strips.

Just add a salad and you have an easy dinner that can be made ahead.

Ham and Asparagus Quiche

When asparagus first appears in the spring, I serve it roasted to capture its fresh flavor. As the season progresses, I have lots of additional ways of serving it, such as in quiche, which is appropriate for any meal of the day. Select asparagus stalks that are slim, bright green and crisp, with tight buds at the tips. Arrange the spears in a spokes design for a fancy presentation.

Pastry for a 9-inch single-crust pie
8 fresh asparagus spears
1 cup chopped ham
1 cup shredded fontina cheese
1 cup whole milk
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

Heat oven to 400°F with oven rack in middle.

Roll out pastry into an 11-inch circle. Loosely roll dough around rolling pin and lift it into pie pan. Unroll and press dough into pan edges and bottom, making sure that the pastry is not stretched. Flute edges if desired.
Bake crust 10 to 15 minutes or until it begins to brown.

Place asparagus spears in flat dish with 2 tablespoons water and microwave on High 2 minutes to partially cook. Drain well. Asparagus can also be blanched in boiling water.
Sprinkle ham into bottom of partially baked pastry shell and top with cheese. Arrange asparagus spears in a spokes fashion over the cheese.
Combine milk, eggs, mustard, and salt in medium bowl and whisk until mixed. Carefully pour the custard into the crust.
Bake 25 to 35 minutes or until custard is set and a knife inserted in center comes out clean although it will be wet. Cool 10 minutes before serving to allow custard to set up.
Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled. Store any remaining quiche in the refrigerator.

BAKER’S NOTES: Fontina cheese is a creamy Italian cheese with a nutty flavor made from cow’s milk. Swiss cheese can be used as a substitute.
SECRETS TO SUCCESS: Before cooking fresh asparagus, snap off the tough bottoms of the stalks and rinse thoroughly to remove any dirt. If you break the asparagus into 2-inch pieces, you will get some in every bite.