All posts by JAFelton

Banoffee Pie

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My first taste of dulce de leche was an eye-opening  — or palate-opening — experience.  If there were other things that tasted this good, I wanted to know about them and work with them.

After watching April Bloomfield make this pie, I became convinced of two things:  1) I need to make this now and 2) April and I should be soul friends.

This mostly follows April’s recipe, though I didn’t grate the pastry dough because I can be lazy, used chocolate curls because they photographed better, and scaled the recipe to fit my two 8-inch tart pans.

Banoffee Pie

Yield: Makes 2 pies

Banoffee Pie

Ingredients

    For the filling:
  • Three 14-oz cans sweetened condensed milk, labels removed
  • 9-10 bananas
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 Tablespoon shortening
  • For the crust:
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into ¼ inch pieces and chilled
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten

Instructions

    Make the dulce de leche:
  1. Put the cans of condensed milk into a slow cooker. Cover completely with water. Cook on high for 10 hours. Depending on your settings, you may have to reset the slow cooker after 6 hours of cooking. Remove the cans once the cooking process has completed and cool them completely before opening.
  2. Alternately, you can simmer the condensed milk in a large pot. Again, cover the cans of milk completely with water. Simmer for 3 hours. Remove the cans once the cooking process has completed and cool them completely before opening.
  3. Make the crust:
  4. Preheat oven to 350F.
  5. Sift the flour into a food processor and add the sugar, butter, and salt. Pulse until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. Add the yolks and pulse until crumbly dough forms. Scrape the dough out onto a work surface and lightly knead just until smooth. .
  6. Divide the dough in half. Use your fingers to press the dough onto the bottom and up the sides of two 8-inch tart pans, creating an even layer in each. Dock the pie crusts, using a fork to pierce the bottom of the crusts in a few places to allow steam to escape during baking.
  7. Freeze the crust for 15 minutes.
  8. Bake the tart shells until the edges are light golden brown, 20-25 minutes. You may want to use pie weights if you worry about the crust puffing up.
  9. Cool to room temperature.
  10. Assemble the pie:
  11. Peel 6 or 7 of the bananas and slice them on the bias into approximately ½ inch thick pieces. Starting from the outside and working your way to the enter, arrange the bananas in concentric circles on the bottom of each tart shell, overlapping slightly.
  12. Gently dollop the caramelized condensed milk on top of the bananas in each of the two tart pans. Spread it evenly over the slices. Cover with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge to chill, up to 2 hours.
  13. While the pie is chilling, combine the cream and the confectioners’ sugar in a bowl. Use a knife to scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the cream; discard the pod. Use whisk or a handheld electric mixer to whip the cream to soft peaks. Cover it too, and chill in the fridge.
  14. Place the chocolate chips and shortening in a bowl. Microwave for 20 seconds. Stir. Continue heating in the microwave in 15-second increments, stirring after each increment, until chocolate has melted. Don't overheat or the chocolate will burn and become gritty.
  15. Spread the melted chocolate in a very thin layer onto the back of a baking sheet. Freeze for 2 minutes until just slightly pliable.
  16. Use a metal spatula to scrape off curls of chocolate from the baking sheet. Place curls into a bowl and refrigerate.
  17. Peel and slice the remaining bananas. Layer, in loose concentric circles, on top of the dulce de leche in each of the tart pans.
  18. Top each pie with whipped cream. Finally, top the whole thing with chocolate curls.
  19. It's best to serve this right away, or within a few hours as it can tend to weep a bit. That being said, I've allowed this to sit in the fridge overnight with stabilized whipped cream and it was still pretty darn good the next day.
http://bleulegume.com/2016/06/banoffee-pie/

Tuna Cakes with Sriracha Aioli

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The reinitiation of the Great Tuna Cake Project of 2006 (or thereabouts) was not met with much enthusiasm.  To be fair, previous failures were bland, dry, and barely edible.  The groans were well-justified.

Thankfully for my test tasters, my culinary skills have improved over the past 10 years.  Groan no more!  These are both crispy and full of flavor.  The sriracha adds a nice touch of spice.  This time, my crew even asked for seconds.  It’s a good thing I was able to capture photographic evidence of the endeavor because even the styled plate was devoured not a minute after finishing this photo shoot.

Enjoy!

 

Tuna Cakes with Sriracha Aioli

Tuna Cakes with Sriracha Aioli

Ingredients

    For Tuna Cakes:
  • 4 5-ounce cans solid, white tuna -- drained
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tablespoons mayo
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup minced shallot
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro (or parsley)
  • 1/2 cup matzo meal
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 6 Tablespoons olive oil
  • For Sriracha aioli sauce:
  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 1 Tablespoon Sriracha Sauce
  • 1/2 Tablespoon lemon juice

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together drained tuna, eggs, mayo, lemon juice, shallot, garlic, Old Bay, cilantro, and matzo meal.
  2. Mix ingredients well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  3. While the tuna mixture is refrigerating, mix together the aioli ingredients.
  4. Once the tuna mixture has chilled, heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat.
  5. Remove tuna mixture from refrigerator and form into 8 patties.
  6. Place panko into a shallow dish. Lightly press each tuna cake into panko crumbs.
  7. Place tuna cakes into heated oil and lightly fry until brown on both sides, about 2-3 minutes each side. This may require cooking in two batches. When cakes are finished browning, place on plate lined with paper towel to absorb any excess oil.
  8. Serve tuna cakes on a bed of greens. Drizzle with Sriracha aioli.
http://bleulegume.com/2016/05/tuna-cakes-with-sriracha-aioli/

Beef Barbacoa

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If you’ve had traditional barbacoa, this is not that.  Traditional barbacoa is cooked in leaf-covered pits.  I have neither a cooking pit (yet) nor access to leaves from [somewhat] far away lands.  The truth is, I’ve never even eaten traditional barbacoa.  All the same, here’s my version for those of us who remain pit-less.  We use a pressure cooker here.  However, it can also be braised on the stovetop in a Dutch oven.  A slow cooker may also be used.

While the recipe calls for a chuck roast, I’ve also used cuts such sirloin tip — or even bottom round if it’s on sale.   Or… how ’bout some venison barbacoa?  Whoa.

This can be served various ways:  Inside a burrito or taco.  On top of a warmed corn tortilla, tostada, or fresh tortilla chips (my preferred delivery system).  On a salad. On its own with a side of beans and rice.  Or mixed in with rice as a sort of quick, Latin biryani.  Gasp!!

Beef Barbacoa

Beef Barbacoa

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons cooking oil
  • 4 pounds beef chuck roast
  • 1 recipe Red Chile-Chipotle-Sauce (makes about 5 cups)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Sour Cream
  • Guacamole
  • Salsa
  • Lime wedges
  • Corn Tortillas

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in 12" skillet (or Dutch oven) over medium-high heat.
  2. Add roast and brown on all sides.
  3. If using a Dutch oven: Add 3 cups of Red Chile-Chipotle Sauce and bay leaf to beef to Dutch oven. Cover and simmer about 4 hours, until tender.
  4. If using a pressure cooker: Place beef in pressure cooker. Add 4 cups of Red Chile-Chipotle Sauce and bay leaf. Set to high pressure cook for 90 minutes, using a quick release.
  5. When the beef is finished cooking, transfer to a large bowl and shred using two forks. Mix in remaining Red Chile-Chipotle Sauce, to taste.
  6. Serve with sour cream, guacamole, lime, and warmed corn tortillas.
http://bleulegume.com/2016/05/beef-barbacoa/

 

Red Chile-Chipotle Sauce

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This sauce is made from dried Guajillo and New Mexico Chiles, with a few chipotles to add some smoky flavor.  We use this sauce for our beef barbacoa.  It can also be used when making enchiladas rojas — or even to give your sloppy joes a little kick.  If you don’t like the smoky flavor of chipotles in adobo sauce, simply omit them from the recipe.  Enjoy!

Continue reading Red Chile-Chipotle Sauce

Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

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This has been my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe ever since stumbling upon it in the May 2009 issue of Cook’s Illustrated.  It’s everything I have ever wanted a chocolate chip cookie to be:  crisp on the edge, chewy in the middle, and deeply flavorful thanks to a better ratio of dark brown sugar to granulated, as well as the use of brown butter.  If chocolate chip cookies were to be served in the afterlife, they would surely be made from this recipe.

 

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8¾ ounces)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 14 tablespoons (7 ounces) unsalted butter, divided
  • ¾ cup (5¼ ounces) dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup (3½ ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1¼ cups semisweet chocolate chips (7 1/2 ounces)

Instructions

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 large (18x12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. 2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda; set aside.
  3. 3. Heat 10 tablespoons of the butter in a 10-inch stainless steel or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling the pan constantly until the butter is dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and transfer the browned butter to a large heatproof bowl. Stir the remaining 4 tablespoons butter into the hot browned butter until completely melted. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.
  4. 4. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to the bowl with the butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add the egg and egg yolk and whisk until the mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let the mixture stand for 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat the process of resting and whisking 2 more times until the mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in the flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in the chocolate chips and give the dough a final stir to ensure there are no hidden flour pockets.
  5. 5. Scoop the dough into 16 even portions, each about 3 tablespoons, and arrange them 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet.
  6. 6. Bake the cookies 1 tray at a time until the edges have begun to set but centers are still soft and the cookies still puffy, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer the baking sheet to wire rack and allow cookies to cool completely before serving.
http://bleulegume.com/2016/04/chocolate-chip-cookies/

 

Matzo Ball Soup

 

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I can’t quite remember the first time I tasted matzo ball soup.  However, it must have happened at a very young age as most of the surrounding details have since been forgotten.  It must have also been something I missed dearly.  In my teens, before I knew how to cook anything but Lipton butter noodles and Rice-a-roni, I’d attempt to recreate matzo balls by crushing entire sleeves of saltines in my canned soup.  Thankfully, we live and learn…

Continue reading Matzo Ball Soup

Chicken Stock

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Some folks wonder how we get so much chicken stock.  The quick answer:  I make it.   It’s cheaper and better than anything you can find in a can or box.  While homemade chicken stock is great for recipes, it also makes for a terrific hot beverage.  I’ve even taken a thermos of it to work on occasion.

The longer answer is that it all starts with Sunday dinner, which is often roasted chicken.  I roast two.  We eat one for dinner.   The other is used in other recipes and even lunches for the week.  Stock is made from the remaining bones, scraps, drippings, and any leftover veggie scraps (typically carrot, celery, and onion ends along with any parsley that no longer looks pretty and fresh).  The following recipe outlines quantities for fresh vegetables, but I usually have enough scraps accumulated in the freezer to be used in stocks.

Continue reading Chicken Stock

Peking Duck

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Peking duck is — or was — somewhat of a mystery to me.  I’ve had it a few times at restaurants that have served somewhat disappointing versions with flabby skin and so-so texture.

So, what I learned  is this:  Peking duck gets its coloring from a mixture of soy and maltose.   Much of the seasoning is simply the result of salting — essentially dry brining.  Salting — rather than brining — also ensures more crisp skin.  Finally, the duck is typically hung over wood fires.  Imagine the rendered fat drippings burning on the hot coals and mixing with the wood smoke to add even more flavor and color.  Swoon.

So, we don’t have that setup here.  A few hours of research and three ducks later, here’s a recipe that anyone can do at home.

There are two ways to cook this bird.  The first uses the same method as beer can chicken.  Situating the duck vertically with the opening facing down will help the rendered fat to release from between the meat and skin, allowing the skin to get more crisp.

The second option is to simply roast the duck horizontally — just as you  would typically roast a chicken.  Situate it breast down on the middle rack of the oven.  After 30 minutes, give the duck a 1/4 turn so that a leg is positioned at the top.  Roast for 30 minutes and turn the duck 1/2 turn so that the opposite leg is positioned at the top.  For the final 30 minutes, roast the duck breast side up.

The goals for either method is to render the fat completely and to deeply brown the skin.  Depending on your oven, this may take less than 2 hours or slightly more than two hours.  It may even require modifying the temperature a bit.

If the duck is brown, but the fat hasn’t rendered as much as you like, lower the oven temperature to 250 – 275 and cook for a bit longer.  If the fat has rendered, but the skin needs more browning, increase the oven temperature to 375-400 and, checking frequently and turning as necessary.

Tip:  If the family isn’t too fond of duck, try the recipe with a whole chicken fryer instead!

 

Peking Duck

Peking Duck

Ingredients

  • 1 4- to 6-pound duck
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 Tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 empty, tall beer can
  • 1 recipe Mandarin pancakes or 1 package of small flour tortillas
  • 1 cucumber, deseeded and julienned
  • 8 scallions, sliced lengthwise (white and light green parts only)
  • 1/4 cup hoisin

Instructions

  1. Place a wire rack inside a foil-lined baking sheet.
  2. Dry the duck -- inside and out -- with paper towels. Place the duck on the wire rack.
  3. Insert fingers between the breast meat and the skin and gently separate the skin from the meat, working. Use this same process to separate the skin from the meat on the thighs.
  4. Combine honey, soy sauce, and rice wine in a small bowl and microwave to 15-20 seconds. Stir the mixture until the mixture is completely blended.
  5. Spoon the honey/soy mixture over the entire surface of the duck. Sprinkle salt evenly over the entire surface of the duck. Place the duck back on the wire rack, breast side up. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 36-48 hours until surface is completely dry and leathery in appearance.
  6. Adjust rack to lowest position and preheat oven to 350°F.
  7. Fill beer can with water. Stand duck vertically atop beer can and place on wire rack set in lined baking sheet.
  8. Roast for 30 minutes and rotate 1/2 turn to encourage even browning. Roast for another 30 minutes.
  9. After this first hour, gauge the browning process. The duck should be a deep mahogany color. Also, the fat needs to be fully rendered. So if, after the first hour of roasting, the duck is getting too brown, reduce the oven temperature to 275 for another 45 - 60 minutes, allowing all of the fat to fully render.
  10. If the top is doing fine as-is, simply rotate the duck a third time and roast for an additional 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 275 for a final 30 minutes, allowing all of the fat to fully render.
  11. Carefully remove duck from beer can. Oven-proof gloves are immensely helpful at this point. I've also used dish towels to help in the process. Once, I even had to enlist the help of a second person to hold the can while I lifted the duck.
  12. Transfer the duck to a cutting board. Allow to rest 15 minutes before carving.
  13. Spread pancake (or tortilla) with hoisin. Fill with cucumber and scallion. Top with a few thin slices of duck.
http://bleulegume.com/2016/02/peking-duck/

Mandarin Pancakes

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She says:  Mandarin pancakes are simple to make — only 3 ingredients!  They are used for both Peking duck and moo shu pork.  Make a double batch and freeze them for future use!

He says:  Homemade Mandarin pancakes … perfect for the moo shu that you do so well. Also known as Shanghai tortillas, Chongqing flatbread, Beijing johnnycakes, or Guangzhou flapjacks, these are the perfect wrapper for any food (read: most food) that’s too difficult to eat with chopsticks. Next time you go to an International House of Pancakes, ask if they have these little Frisbees of unleavened goodness. If they don’t, haughtily sniff “hmmph, ‘international?’ I think not” and walk out. (Sure, it sounds harsh, but how else will they learn?)

Mandarin Pancakes

Mandarin Pancakes

Tip: Toasted sesame oil gives these a great flavor and is recommended for this recipe. However, if you don't have sesame oil on hand, vegetable oil can be used as a substitute.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup (about 5 ounces) boling water
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil

Instructions

  1. Combine flour and boiling water.
  2. Stir until a dough begins to form.
  3. Turn out onto countertop and knead for about 5 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
  4. Divide dough into 24 balls. Cover with a damp towel to prevent the dough from drying out.
  5. Roll a piece of dough into three-inch circle. Repeat with second ball. Brush each circle with sesame oil. Place one circle of dough on top of the other.
  6. Roll both circles together into an 8 inch round.
  7. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat until hot.
  8. cook pancakes until browned in spots, about 1 minute. Flip and cook until browned in spots, about 30 seconds.
  9. Carefully separate the pancakes. Transfer to plate and cover with a towel to keep warm.
  10. Repeat with the remaining dough.
http://bleulegume.com/2016/02/mandarin-pancakes/