Sunday, January 22, 2017

Blackberry Pie Bars

Blackberry Pie Bars


Several years ago, I had a job where every Friday, I would bring a treat for my co-workers and vendors.  I worked EARLY in the morning, so when I'd get home, my first thing to do was to take a nap.  This day, when I was laying down for a nap, I had looked at a recipe for the bars, and all I could dream about was these amazing bars. When I work up, I looked in the cupboard/freezer and had all of the ingredients. So I was destin to make these......




Blackberry Pie Bars


Ingredients:

Crust and Topping:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1½ cups sugar

¼ tsp salt

1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled


Fruit Filling:

4 large eggs

2 cups sugar

1 cup sour cream

¾ cup flour

pinch salt

zest of ½ lemon

1 tsp almond extract

2 (16-oz) packages frozen blackberries, thawed and drained


Directions

To make the crust and topping, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to mix. Cut the butter into ½-inch cubes, and add to the flour mixture. Process until the butter is evenly distributed but the mixture is still crumbly, 30-60 seconds. Reserve 1½ cups of the mixture to use as the topping. Press the remaining mixture into the bottom of the pan, and bake 12-15 minutes. Cool for at least 10 minutes. To make the filling, whisk the eggs in a large bowl, then add the sugar, sour cream, flour, salt, lemon zest, and almond extract. Gently fold in the berries and spoon the mixture over the crust. Sprinkle the remaining flour mixture evenly over the filling, and bake 45 to 55 minutes.


   

Friday, January 20, 2017

Dark Chocolate Ganache Slab Brownies & update

Well, well, well. Where have I been, well let me tell you, busy doesn't even start to describe my last 6 months or so. As many of you know, I started a catering business a few years back, and we have had great success with the business. In addition to this I was asked to take on additional responsibilities at work, basically asked to go back into management. And lastly we adopted our second Italian Greyhound. So with all of this, my time to blog has been very limited. Now that doesn't mean that I have stopped cooking, haha. Lord knows I will always be cooking!  

So, this past July a very good friend of ours was headed into heart surgery, and his wife asked if I would cook breakfast and dinners for them. Now this hits my sweet spot, as a personal chef has always been a career I have wanted to do. So I started planning the meals, only to have them hand me a list of what he can and cannot eat. Most people would baulk at this request, I said ok, and signed up for a nutritional eating course, not just for cooking for my friends, but also to expand my interest. This past summer was spent, working my 60 hour job, my extreme part time (can't gig it up) job, planning and proposing catering, as well as cooking for a few of them, and planning for healthy homemade meals for my friends. Not to mention, the typical things like, walking dogs, cleaning the house....you know the daily stuff. 

Over the years I have found that the busier I am the more accomplished I feel. But the one thing I enjoy the most is cooking and writing this blog. Even though I haven't posted in a while, I have been collecting recipes, and taking pictures, cause I know eventually I would need material to blog about. I plan to also include a few of the recipes I made for my friends, if not the adaptation, then the original. 

To leave you with a little treat, I took part of a week off from work to drive to Portland to visit my family (& celebrate Christmas). I really do want to go into how expensive this trip became (new tires, oil change and the alternator and battery daily half way to Portland), but when we arrived at my cousins house last night, I started cooking. With a home made pot pie in the oven, I started making these delicious Ganache Slab Brownies.

 

Dark Chocolate Ganache Slab Briwnies

Ingredients
Nonstick cooking spray, for spraying the pan and parchment
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups extra-dark chocolate chips
Other mix ins: Maraschino Cherries, halved and drained(I added 2 packages of Snicker Bites!)


Chocolate Ganache:
12 ounces dark chocolate chips
1 1/3 cup heavy cream


Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 26-by-18-by-1-inch baking sheet with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang over the sides. Spray the parchment with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, whisk to combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the eggs 1 at a time, then the vanilla extract until completely incorporated. Add the flour mixture a cup at a time and beat until combined.

Remove the bowl from the stand and use a rubber spatula to fold in the chocolate chips and other mix ins. Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan and bake until cooked through, about 30 minutes. Cool on a rack to room temperature, about 20 minutes.

Pour the Chocolate Ganache over the brownies and let cool. Cut into 32 rectangle-shaped cookie bars.


Chocolate Ganache:
Put the chocolate chips in a medium bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan, heat the heavy cream over medium heat until small bubbles form around the edge of the pan, about 3 minutes. Pour the heavy cream over the chocolate and stir until completely melted and smooth.


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Sole Meunière

As you all have read, Craig and I joined a CSF (Best Catch Seattle)few weeks back. I’ve posted about Black Cod, Rock Fish, Ling Cod, and King Salmon. This week, when we received the email telling us what the fresh caught fish was, I was like….I know what I'm making!  Julia Child’s first dish she ate when she arrived in France, Sole Meunière

Growing up, I never had an appreciation for Julia Child. She was always on channel 10 (PBS in Portland), and I found her show boring and didn't actually care for her.  In 2009, when the movie, Julie and Julia came out, we went and saw it, thinking “I'm not really into Julia, but I like to cook, so maybe I'll like it”.  I never realized how much of an impact that movie would make on the way I cook.  When I left the theater, I went home and downloaded every book I could find to listen to from, “My Life In France”, to “Appetite For Life”, just to name a couple.  I even found a first edition “Mastering The Art Of French Cooking”.  I then went back and watched a quite a few of her TV programs “The French Chef”, and was like, wow look at all I missed.  Now, any opportunity I get to make one of her recipes, I always opt for one from Julia.

Now, Sole……my mom used to microwave sole for dinner, so my impression of this delicious fish was not all that favorable.  Sole is a flatfish, and is a member of the Flounder family, and a bottom feeder. It’s a fast cooking fish and can easily be over cooked.  Here is the recipe I used for today’s share of our CSF.


Sole Meunière

Ingredients

1 lemon
1 pound boned, skinned sole fillets
Salt
About 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 to 5 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons drained capers
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup minced parsley
Fresh-ground white pepper

Preparation

1. Rinse lemon, and with a small, sharp knife, cut off and discard peel and white membrane. Thinly slice lemon crosswise, discarding seeds and ends.

2. Rinse sole and pat dry. If fillets are longer than 6 or 7 inches, cut in half crosswise so they'll be less likely to break when you turn them. Sprinkle each fillet lightly with salt. Coat on all sides with flour, shake off excess, and lay pieces side by side on a sheet of plastic wrap.

3. In a 12- to 14-inch frying pan over high heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter; when hot, lay as many pieces as will fit side by side in pan without crowding and cook until browned on the bottom, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Turn with a wide, flexible metal spatula and brown remaining side, 1 to 2 minutes longer (if butter begins to scorch, reduce heat to medium-high). With spatula, transfer fillets to an ovenproof platter, laying pieces side by side, and keep warm in a 200º oven. Melt 1 more tablespoon butter in frying pan; repeat step to cook remaining sole fillets, transfer to platter, and keep warm in the oven.

4. With a paper towel, wipe frying pan clean and return to high heat. Add 1 to 2 more tablespoons butter and the capers; stir until butter is melted. Add lemon juice, remove from heat, and stir in about 3 tablespoons of the parsley. At once, scrape butter mixture over hot fish fillets. Garnish with lemon slices and remaining parsley and sprinkle generously with pepper. With spatula, transfer fillets to plates. Season to taste with more salt.











Thursday, June 2, 2016

Asian Style Cole Slaw

It's been a couple of weeks now I've been reporting on the CSF (Community Supported Fishing, Best Catch Seattle ).  This week our share is a pound portion of Washington caught King Salmon.

Fresh King Salmon

Any time I get fresh fish, I prefer to season and cook the fish and let the true flavor come through.  Last night I seasoned the fish with fresh cracked black pepper and a sprinkle of some lava salt our neighbors brought us back from Hawaii and few years ago.



 

Hawaiian Black Lava Salt

Salmon, portioned and seasoned

We receive an email either the day before, or the morning of our scheduled pick up.  This give me enough time to plan out dinner, although I do have an arsenal of ideas for side dishes.  With the weather turning warmer on the west coast, I didn't want something heavy, so I opted for a grilled pineapple and cucumber salsa and an Asian style Cole slaw.  The pineapple cucumber salsa I have made before and is a hit in our house.  The Asian style Cole slaw is an adaptation of a friends recipe we helped make for her sisters 60th birthday a few years ago.
 


Dinner
































Asian Style Cole Slaw

Dressing:
1 T sugar
½ cup oil
2 tsp sesame oil
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
2 T garlic chili paste
2 T finely chopped cilantro
Packet from the ramen

Salad:
1 small head green cabbage, shredded
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 packaged instant ramen soup (chicken flavor)
½ cup toasted slivered almonds
1 can sliced water chestnuts, roughly chopped
1 can baby corn, cut into 1 inch pieces

Instructions:
Mix dressing together, set aside.
Toss together the cabbage, green onions, almonds, corn, and water chestnuts.  Crush the dry ramen noodles on top of salad. 
Pour dressing and stir to combine.
Salad needs to rest 3-4 hours, for the cabbage and noodles to soak up the flavor of the dressing.

*Note: you can use any type you like, except red-it bleeds. 
It was also suggested to add shredded chicken and stuff a Pita with this.

Salmon, All cooked




Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Ginger Garlic Lemongrass Snapper with Persian Rice and Cucumber Feta Salad

This is the second week of our CSF (community supported fishing).  Last week was Black Cod, this week, Ling Cod and Rock Fish (red snapper).  Craig and I talked this morning about how we were going to prepare the fish and side dishes.  I was pretty set on the cucumber feta salad, and when I mentioned green onion rice, he said, maybe I should make traditional Persian rice with saffron.  Any time he offers to cook, I'm just fine with that.

When we picked up our fish today, we noticed that both fish combined, we at least 2 meals.  So while we had planned for tonight's dinner, we quickly planned a dinner for tomorrow.  Back to tonight’s dinner, when I heard we were getting Ling Cod, I immediately thought of an Asian marinade.  Garlic, Ginger Lemongrass marinade. So dinner tonight was a team effort.  Craig did his traditional Persian rice with saffron and I made Cucumber Feta salad and the marinate for the fish. 



Lemongrass Garlic Ginger marinade

2 stalks lemongrass

2-inch piece fresh ginger (about 3 tablespoons finely minced)

5 garlic cloves, finely minced

1 jalapeno or Serrano pepper, finely minced

4 tablespoon palm sugar (or use brown sugar)

3 tablespoon fish sauce

2 tablespoon soy sauce

2 tablespoon canola oil

2 tablespoon rice vinegar


If you haven’t used lemongrass before, this is what you do for this recipe: Peel outer layer of lemongrass. Cut off top third of stalk, then cut off root end of stalk; discard. Thinly slice rest of stalk crosswise, and then finely mince it. It should smell lemony!

Peel and finely mince the ginger and garlic. Finely minced the pepper (if you like a milder flavor, begin by slicing pepper in half and removing seeds before mincing). I have done all this mincing of ginger, garlic and pepper by hand, or the short way in my mini food processor. Suit yourself.
In a small bowl or measuring cup, stir together lemongrass, ginger, garlic, pepper, sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, oil and rice vinegar.
Place fish in marinade, and let set for 15-20 minutes. Drizzle a little of the marinade on top of the fish.
Pull fish out and place on lemongrass, slices in half and placed on the hot grill. Grill for 3-5 minutes, until fish is firm.  



Cucumber and Feta Salad

1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced into pea-sized pieces
coarse salt
8 ounces (225g) feta cheese
1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil
2-3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
freshly ground black pepper
1 small red onion, peeled and finely-diced
1 tablespoon (each) chopped fresh mint, parsley and fresh dill

1. Place the cucumber pieces in a colander, mix with a light sprinkling salt, and let drain 30 minutes to an hour, shaking the colander from time to time.
2. Crumble the feta into a bowl and mash together with the olive oil, lemon juice, water, and a few turns of black pepper.
3. Mix in the cucumbers, onions, and herbs. Taste, and add more salt if desired.