Wednesday, February 23, 2011

a giveaway of dried sour cherry ice cream, coconut sugar threads and a pastry for your search engine fun

Have I ever told you how much I hate SEO (search engine optimization) well I do. Every blogger and their granny (yup she blogs too now) are desperately trying to get their piece of the pie and in order to do that you need to use key words so when people are using search engines (like google for example) they will land on your site first, ideally. Not only are people following along like turkeys to the slaughter house with this blatant use of keywords they are often hogging prime space with their drivel, well today my drivel is gunning for space. Dried sour cherry ice cream with a cream cheese tart and coconut sugar threads and if I had a giveaway I would be giving that away too.

I dont mean to sound so bitter because I am really not - I am more peeved than anything else. Creativity is flushed in favor of what is common and banal. Typically when I am searching for something I want to find what is more unique than what is regular so thats maybe where the differences lie. Its precisely this uniqueness that I am fighting against with this post. I whipped some cream I froze it into ice cream how unique can that be? I am even going to post the very common recipe.

Vanilla Ice Cream with Dried Sour Cherries

1/2 cup sugar
dash of salt
2 cups half and half
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
20 dried cherries that have soaked over night in warm water

Combine sugar salt and 1/2 the milk in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until mixture almost boils then reduce heat to low.

Gradually stir about half of this hot mixture into the beaten eggs to temper then incorporate all together and heat until it thickens stirring constantly, remove from heat and refrigerate 2 hours.

Whip the other cup of milk with the vanilla flavoring until soft peaks form and fold this into the chilled mixture and pour this along with the cherries into your ice cream maker and proceed as per its instructions. The cherries will color the ice cream slightly pink.

I made two batches - one like this with the reconstituted cherries and another smaller batch of plain vanilla (that I couldnt keep my spoon out of and almost ate all of it before creating this post) that I mixed in some chopped up dried cherries after the ice cream was made and frozen.

Did I forget to mention that this is for the MarxFoods Ridiculously Delicious Challenge? Oh, well it is. All the contestants received 8 mystery ingredients (the same ones) and we were to use two of them to complete this challenge. I chose the dried sour cherries and the coconut sugar resisting all temptation to make something using every single one. I made ice cream and tarts and I spun the sugar into threads.

The tarts are simply puff pastry folded artistically with a filling of cream cheese, coconut sugar and dried sour cherries then baked at 400 until puffy golden and delicious.

The coconut sugar was heated on a very low flame until hotter than lava and then whipped and drizzled and teased into threads.

Two scoops, one of each of the cherry vanilla and vanilla cherry, a tart and some sugar threads. I used my very antique ice cream scoop but you can easily make quenelles using two spoons. March 1-4 I will be annoyingly asking for your votes so gear up.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

everyday is a special day especially today

Today is really no different than yesterday, sure yesterday was Valentines day but if you are doing it right everyday is Valentines day. Mae West said "you only live once but once is all you need if you're doing it right" or something like that - I may not have the exact quote but I definitely have the sentiment. Lets use this flourless chocolate cake as an example.

Okay this dessert might look all frou frou but its really quite simple. Whip some egg whites, add some sugar and some cocoa powder and bake at 400 until its set in the middle. Let cool, cut out shapes with a ring mold and arrange on a plate with whipped cream and fresh berries. Its rich, its satisfying and it comes together in minutes. I used raspberries and what I call Mexican whipped cream which is chocolate whipped cream with cinnamon.

What could be more simple than chicken? Spatchcock a chicken and rub it with a compound butter of lemon zest and oregano and bake in a 400 degree oven until golden brown.

Rice some potatoes, I used yukon gold and sweet potatoes and forced them through the ricer, I also fried up some little shoestring potatoes to use as a garnish.

Make a glaze out of the pan juices and a little corn starch and some lemon juice and honey and drizzle this over each plate. Everyday is a special day and its easy if you just pay attention to the little details.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

its hard not to heart heart day

Let me be perfectly honest - valentines day when I was a kid was probably the same for me as it was for you, full of anguish and anticipation and all those other things that kids felt except..and this is very assuming of me...except I got way too many valentines stuffed into my little shoe box. This little valentines heyday of the simplicity of the little cards only lasted until 4th grade after that things only got worse, and by worse I mean more of the same. Lets fast forward many, many years and we get to where we are now and let me tell you payback is a bitch. I no longer get way too many valentines and thats just fine with me since the whole she-bang got me a little burnt on the notion but I do make sure to treat the valentines in my life right.

Nothing says you care more than a nice brunch and nothing says brunch better than poached eggs and nothing says poached eggs better than poached eggs in a hash brown potato cup and nothing helps you say this better than salmon and hollandaise sauce.

There I said it.

So if you want to impress someone and you want it to really look impressive then serve this up one after another after another until they can take it no more. They will be impressed.

Monday, February 07, 2011

tailgate party with out the tailgate and without the party

Anymore it doesnt take much to make a food holiday and Super Bowl Sunday is definitely one such holiday. There is much lead up to preparing the right nachos, pigs in blankets and hot wings for this "meal" of grab and go eats. Myself, I am not much of a sports fan, sure I watch the finals and the big games but I dont go in for the long haul of being an actual fan. Whats my point? Pointless. We ate food on Super Bowl Sunday.

Since having a kegger was out of the question I opted for a "healthy" drink made from sweetened hibiscus tea, orange juice and dark rum. The naturally tart and flowery, fruity flavor of the hibiscus woke up with the little squeeze of fresh orange juice and the rum balanced the whole drink out like a long pole for a tight rope walker.

(I borrowed this shot from an old post)
The menu was diverse which translates to "all over the planet" as we had shrimp sushi rolls and salmon sushi rolls that were made and consumed so fast I didnt have time to take a proper photo but if you have read my blog before you will see that I make this often. (this link will prove it and it actually has a little video tutorial) Oh yeah and there was also fried calamari that flew off the plate so fast I forgot we even had son made short order of that two pounds.

The star of the day, in fact lets go ahead and call this star the MVP, was the oyster. We had them raw on the half shell with some hot sauce and chopped onion.

We had fried oysters, but these oysters were fried for a reason.....

Fried oyster Po'Boy has got to be one of the best sandwiches on earth, add a little watercress dressed lightly with lime juice and olive oil, some chipotle mayo and some Zatarain's Remoulade Sauce and you are in business, big business.

Let me end this post by saying "can you believe these pictures were taken with my cell phone?" Yup thats right my cell phone! I hear a lot of people complaining that they dont have the right high-tech this or the right software that and that is why their pictures are not as good as they want them to be - I say phooey on all of that. Its the same thing with cooking, I can cook with a tin can and a heat source - if there is a will there is a way. Taking a good picture is no different than making a good takes a certain - as the French would say "I dont know what."

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Marx Foods Ridiculously Delicious Challenge - first post.

Challengers, pick three items from the below list and answer this question:

What ridiculously delicious thing would you do with them if you won?

The Goodie List

Kobe Beef Sliders OR Kobe Beef BurgersWhole Quail OR Semi-Boneless Quail
Wild Boar St. Louis Spare RibsPink Salmon Fillets
Kangaroo Burgers OR Ground Kangaroo MeatWild Mushroom Sampler (contents may change)
Live Oyster SamplerUltimate Chile Head Sampler
10lb Specialty Burger SamplerMega Pantry Sampler
Pekin Duck BreastsFresh Blood Oranges
5lbs Frozen Wild Huckleberries20lb Heirloom Potato Sampler
1lb Fresh Daruma WasabiSpecialty Sausage Sampler
14lb Dried Bean Sampler1lb Bourbon Vanilla Beans
Superior Spanish Saffron Threads2 Live Geoducks
Edible Flower Assortment &Microflower Blend

Your job, as my lovely blog readers, is to guess which items I chose. (pretend you hear the countdown music from Jeopardy as I wait for your answers)...........



Ok I wasnt really serious - I have to pick the ingredients - its part of the contest. So what did I pick and what will I do with them?

I pick the Fresh Daruma Wasabi that I will grate in its entirety and use as a face mask and as a bath salt, I am sure it will be invigorating. I also pick the Peking Duck Breasts that I will leave frozen and use as you would cucumber slices to relieve eye puffiness and thirdly I choose the Pink Salmon Filets that I will puree in the blender and use as a rich omega-3 hair conditioner. You see each of these items have curative and restorative properties so why not apply them topically?

Ok, seriously, I would make a deliciously spicy miso and wasabi soup, and since I would have so much I would make a wasabi remoulade to toss with shrimp and after I get a taste of it I am sure I will come up with more ideas so please lay off the pressure I still have to say what I am going to do with duck and salmon. I might make a terrine of the duck or I might make delicately thin slices and stack them layered with potato and mushroom and maybe even serve them with a light wasabi sauce- who knows. Now about the salmon - I will most likely make sushi rolls and perhaps some kind of salmon carpaccio - I might also make a salmon mousse. Now my experience teaches me that if I want to win this contest I will make wasabi mayonnaise, grill the salmon and pan fry the duck and try to keep it all as simple as possible..we shall see.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

coconut madras chicken with saffron rice is my kind of good time

You will immediately notice the vibrant red color of this dish, do not adjust your screens I added a little bit of tandoori spices along with the red chiles to really kick this up and let me tell you it is even more intense in reality.

From the very first time I tasted food at an Indian restaurant I was smitten. The beautiful aromas the fantastic textures and spice blends, all of it created a world that I was going to be fond of forever.

My first attempt to make any kind of curry or masala I must have been 22 years old and since all we do on these blogs is brag about ourselves I will tell you that the goat vindaloo I made was as good as anything I had ever tasted. Many years have transpired since that time and my cooking skills have improved greatly and I can confidently tell you now that while my first vindaloo was good the dishes I make now are top notch.

I am certain that if you did a side by side comparison my dishes would taste as authentic as authentic can get even though they may look a little bit different since I plate them up rather than serve them family style. I served my coconut madras chicken and potatoes with some saffron rice and my own version of raita, which is a yogurt condiment. If you want you can have a little sag on the side (spinach)

Now my naan bread on the other hand has never really improved, I need to work on its execution a bit, these flat breads I made were good and they suited the task but naan it was not.
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