Sunday, January 9, 2011

Crepes!



This was a great lunch, but it was supposed to be breakfast. That's how long it took me to put the whole thing together. In hindsight, I really should have made the crepes yesterday, so that this morning all I would have to fuss with was the fillings.

I like crepes. So does Dev. But they seem so fussy, I've never really had the desire to make them at home. Well, that's not really true. I did make them once when we lived in Alamosa. They turned out well, but I really didn't have any clue what to fill them with, so I think I made chocolate ganache and filled them with that. But if you really think about it, crepes are really nothing more than French breakfast burritos!!

Fast forward a year or two, and Dev and I are in Denver, where Dev picks a crepe place for breakfast. Wow! Those people knew what to do with a crepe! I'm pretty sure I posted about that when I blogged the trip. Ever since then, I have been thinking about giving crepes another whirl.

Today was the day. I made my batter using this recipe:

Basic Crepes
Recipe courtesy Anne Burrell (Food Network)

Prep Time:10 minInactive Prep Time:30 minCook Time:30 min
Level: Intermediate
Serves: 18 crepes

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch kosher salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup club soda
3 tablespoons melted butter, plus 3 tablespoons for cooking the crepes
Directions
Batter:

In a mixing bowl, add the flour and salt and make a well in the center. Add the remaining ingredients, except the melted butter, into the center of the well and whisk together until just combined. The mixture should be like VERY loose pancake batter. If the mixture is a little thick, whisk in a little more milk. Let the batter sit for at least 30 minutes before using.

*Tip: Crepe batter can be made up to 2 days in advance, covered and refrigerated.

Crepes:

Melt about a 1/2 teaspoon of butter in a small nonstick saute pan. The butter should coat the bottom of the pan, if there is a lot of excess, wipe it out with a paper towel. Keep the paper towel handy in case you need it again (you will).

Put the pan over medium heat. Fill a 2-ounce ladle, almost to the top, with batter and pour it into the preheated pan, tipping and rolling the pan, as you ladle the batter, to evenly cover the bottom. This will take a little practice, even when you are an experienced crepe maker the first couple always get wasted. Accept it and move on.

When the edges of the crepe begin to pull away from the edges of the pan and the bottom begins to brown a little, turn the crepe over and cook it for about 1 minute on the other side. Remove the crepe from the pan to a plate and let cool. Stack the crepes as they are cooked between parchment paper squares. Repeat this process, until all the batter is used, wiping the pan with your paper towel or melting a little more butter to the pan, as needed.

I did everything exactly by the recipe- although I did notice that in the ingredient listing, it calls for basically 6 tablespoons of butter, divided. But then it says use 3 tablespoons to grease the pan. Where do the other 3 tablespoons go? I melted them and put them in the batter. Why, you ask? Because last night on Create TV I saw Ming Tsai do a crepe recipe, where he added melted butter to the batter. So that's why. It worked fine.

The only problematic thing is, the recipe says it makes 18 crepes. Assuming the first couple turn out horribly and are eaten at the stove, that means you can serve around 16. My batter made 8. Oops. I'm figuring my batter was too thick, and I should have added more club soda. But my crepes weren't horribly thick or doughey. Hmmmm. I apparently haven't worked with crepes enough to know what a good batter consistency is. Next time I'll add more water and see how far it goes.

After I had made my 8 crepes, I moved on to fillings. Dev wanted bacon and eggs and I wanted spinach, feta and tomato. Exactly the same as we ordered at the restaurant in Denver. I did mine first, because I thought it would hold in a warm oven better than scrambled eggs would.

I had no recipe for my filling, but that never stops me from doing anything! :) I finely minced one small shallot (but you could use anything that is vaguely oniony- no one will be the wiser), rough chopped a couple of handfuls of fresh baby spinach leaves and quartered 4 compari tomatoes. In the same pan I made the crepes in , I melted about a tablespoon of butter (I would have used olive oil, but I was being French!). When it was hot and melty, I threw in the shallots and scooted them around until they were soft. Then I added the tomatoes and let them release their juice. A pinch of salt went in as I mixed them around. I decided it looked too dry, so I went to the fridge to pull out my bottle of red wine, but it was gone (a casualty of last night's pizza sauce session), so I added a glop of the marinara I made last night. After that festered a few minutes, I threw in some red pepper flakes and the chopped spinach. After the spinach wilted, I took it off the heat and mixed in about half a cup of feta cheese, crumbled.

Dev's filling was much plainer. I whisked 3 eggs, a dash of Sri Racha hot sauce, a splash of half and half and some salt together. After I wiped out the pan I used for my filling, I melted a tablespoon of butter and soft scrambled the eggs. Oh- I didn't say this before, but when I started making the crepe batter, I put 6 slices of bacon on a cooling rack in a sheet tray and put them in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes. When I was ready to assemble Dev's crepes, I put the eggs and 2 slices of bacon in each crepe. I garnished his with some ancho chili powder (because he likes to sprinkle that on his scrambled eggs anyway).



I wiped the skillet out again and fried a sunny side up egg to put on top of my crepes, and it was done!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Saturday Morning French Toast



French toast is ok. I like it, but I really don't love it. And I'm ok with that. But yesterday, while Dev and I were driving over to meet some friends at a local post-school hang out, he mentioned that someone we knew had eaten cinnamon roll french toast for breakfast. Cinnamon roll french toast? French toast made out of cinnamon rolls? Heaven poured forth and rained inspiration down over me.

Did I come home and make cinnamon roll french toast this morning? Nope. Believe it or not, after some contemplation on the subject, I don't think cinnamon rolls would make very good french toast. But I did figure that the choice of bread would make a huge difference between ok french toast and life changingly good french toast. I also put some thought into the batter. And possibly a dredge, for texture. Here's what I did this morning....

I cracked 2 eggs in a bowl and added a glug of heavy cream. Yes- heavy cream. Judge me if you want to. Then I added a little bit of vanilla bean paste (I think the flavor of the paste is more pronounced than the extract). I proceeded to whisk the crap out of this, so that there were no gloppy strings of egg stuff left in the batter.

Then I moved on to my dredge. I love crispy things. When I want other fried foods to be crispy, I dredge them in panko bread crumbs. So I decided that would be a smart thing to do to my new and improved french toast. On a paper plate I put panko crumbs (I don't know how much, I eyeballed enough for 4 smallish pieces of bread). Then I decided the dredge needed a flavor infusion, but I didn't want to add salt because I was going to use salted butter to fry the bread in. After consulting my freezer, I came up with a bag of slivered almonds. Who doesn't like the taste of butter fried almonds?? I whizzed them around in the food processor to break them up (not make them into powder) and added them to the plate with the panko. I mixed them with my fingers.

I know not everyone is lucky enough to have a husband who loves to make bread from scratch. But I do! Yay me! If you don't have one of those, then choose a bread that is a little thicker...maybe Texas toast or something like that (or a new husband- ha!). I cut 2 slices of wheat bread, about an inch thick, then cut each slice in half. I wanted pieces about the size of my palm- maybe a little bigger. Now on to assembly and fryage.

In a 12 inch CAST IRON SKILLET (really, try to use one- I think it makes a huge difference), I melted half a stick of salted butter. You want the butter to be ready to accept the bread as soon as your first piece is dredged and ready to go.

I soaked each piece of bread in the egg mixture for about 30 seconds. You really want the egg batter to be able to get in there and make things creamy. I learned this technique from watching Alton Brown. I love Alton Brown. And don't worry- Dev
already knows. After soaking, I moved the bread to the plate with the almond/crumb mixture. I made sure each piece was as evenly coated as possible, pressing the bread down in the crumbs to really stick the little buggers on there.

By now my butter was hot and bubbly, so I put the first piece in. Then I repeated the process with the other 3 pieces. Flip them when they are nice and brown on the bottom, and cook until both sides are brown. Put on a paper towel for a second or two, just to soak up any extra butter drippings, then plate it up!

Dev is a die hard maple syrup fan. But I like to shake things up. This morning I decided in favor of choke cherry jelly. I heated it in the microwave a few seconds and it was just like syrup.

As we ate the crunchy on the outside, yet creamy on the inside french toast, I considered possible fillings. But I really think filling it would make it too rich. But making some sort of fruit compote and serving it on the top instead of syrup would be fantastic!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Veggie Tikka Masala



I love these simmer sauces from Seeds of Change. This is the Tikka Masala, but I also use the Khorma one fairly often. You can't beat these for whipping up a quick dinner. Just stir fry some veggies and the protein of your choice, add the simmer sauce, let it heat through, and throw it over rice. Done.



Tonight I stir fried zucchini, mushrooms, onions, campari tomatoes and some fake crab. I served Dev's over rice, and I had mine over some leftover mashed potatoes. So, so good. And so, so easy!

Afternoon Snack



This is the kind of thing I miss when we're working. I'm not sure why I don't think of taking cheese and crackers to school as a snack or light lunch, but I don't. When we're home on a break, though, this is usually what lunch looks like. I guess that's because I cook huge breakfasts and we don't eat again until dinner.

Anyhoo, this was a plate of havarti with dill, jalapeno cheddar, brie and crackers. In the middle I put some chocolate toffee, just to have a sweet thing in there somewhere.

Epic Fail- Goose Edition

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”- Colin Powell


If this is true (and I like to think it is), my next goose will be a rockstar.

But as things stand right now, my first goose was an epic fail. A failure of BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS. A disaster worthy of federal relief funds.

And I had such high hopes. Sniff.

We acquired the victim from my sister-in-law, Shanda, and her boyfriend, Bart. Bart shot it himself last hunting season. He even processed it for us and delivered the corpse in a bread bag, wrapped in a white garbage bag. I quickly stowed it away in the freezer, waiting for the perfect moment or occasion to defrost it and elevate it to the culinary heights it surely deserved.

Just before Christmas I was perusing my sizable list of food blogs, and low and behold, I came upon a recipe for a roasted goose. "I have one of those in my freezer," I remember saying. So at some point during New Year's Day, the victim was unearthed from its frozen prison and set in the ice box to thaw.

Upon thawing and unwrapping (which, by the way, was not for the faint of heart. I've never seen so much blood in a bread bag. It was like watching a Tarantino/Rodriguez vampire movie.), I realized the bird had been skinned. Crap. I panicked and wondered how I was going to keep the meat moist if the basting mechanism nature gave it had been removed. The answer I came up with? A roasting bag. It was either that or wrapping the entire bird like a mummy in bacon. Maybe I should have gone with the latter....

I secured a large roasting bag, added the tablespoon of flour the box told me to, and set about finding companions for the goose in the bag. It was a shame to have all those goose drippings around and not put some veggies in there to soak some of it up! In the bottom of the bag (under the bird) I put onion quarters, whole mushrooms, carrots and fingerling potatoes. In the rather huge cavity of the goose, I loaded 2 halved oranges, another onion, quartered and about 8 peeled cloves of garlic. I salted the outside of the bird and basted it with melted garlic butter. I loaded it in the roasting bag, tied it off, put it in a 9x13 pyrex baking dish and slid the whole mess in a 350 degree oven. I put a thermometer in the thigh and set it for 180 (which was recommended in the recipe I found on the blog).

I guess because it was naked, it really didn't take as long to cook as I figured a bird that large would take. I pulled it 170, figuring it would coast the rest of the way while it rested. While it was resting, I made a batch of mashed potatoes to rest the pieces on. Dev came in and did the autopsy on it after it had rested about 10 minutes.

I could tell the minute he started hacking away at it that we were in trouble. It cut like a piece of buffalo hide. There were no juices running. The meat looked like overly dry roast beef.

Needless to say, it was inedible. We ate the veggies (which weren't that great, either, because they needed to roast longer).

I really think the key to my failure was tragic overcooking, and a naked, skinless goose.

If anyone has any suggestions about what I should have done, please leave a comment.

Random Thoughts


I tight rolled my jeans a little while ago. I feel so....10th grade.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Wontons!



I love wontons. I always have. But I've never really thought about making them at home. Until now, that is. For some reason, I was thinking last week about an appetizer I had while I was home in Savannah last summer. I was eating at a place called Bar.Food, and ordered an appetizer called something like Southern BBQ Wontons. Basically, the appetizer was pulled pork BBQ in a wonton wrapper. Whoever came up with it is a genius!

I had some leftover cooked pork from last week, so I decided to see how close I could get. I minced up some sweet onion and garlic and sauteed it in some butter in a little skillet. I also minced the leftover pork and threw it in with the veggies. I added a splash of orange juice. I don't know why. It was sitting there, and it seemed like a good idea. After that cooked for a few minutes, I added a few glugs of BBQ sauce. Nothing fancy- just something I had in the ice box. I believe it was Jack Daniels brand. After that cooked a few minutes more, I took it off the heat to cool a little.

I took a little wonton wrapper and put about a teaspoon of the BBQ mixture in the middle of it. Then I dampened the edges and folded it like a triangle, pressing well to seal all the edges. Here's what it looked like after I shallow fried it in vegetable oil:



I had another filling idea, so I mixed it up before I started frying the BBQ wontons.

I love crab rangoon. I've never had it at a place where I didn't like it. How can crab and cream cheese be bad?? I figured I would try to see what it would taste like if I tried to make it at home.

I took about 3 ounces of softened cream cheese and mixed it in a bowl with about a teaspoon of lemon zest, about half a teaspoon of very finely minced garlic, salt, pepper and minced fake crab meat. I would rather use real crab, but where I live, it's expensive and of questionable origin, so I usually buy the fake stuff. Lastly, I added one chopped scallion. I put a teaspoon on a wonton wrapper, and folded it the same way I did the BBQ wontons. Here's what it looked like after it's bath in the hot oil...



I'm not sure why I never did this before. These turned out great, and they'd be a perfect party appetizer. We had quite a few left, and tonight I put them on my pizza stone in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes, and they were just as crispy as they were last night when I first fried them. I can't wait to experiment with new fillings! I'm thinking spinach/feta wontons, egg roll wontons...... :)

Dinner When It's Below Zero Outside



I could have made chili, or some kind of chicken stew, or even baked spaghetti, but I didn't. When it gets super cold outside, I only want one thing- risotto. I have a tried and true risotto recipe that I use with hundreds of variations. Tonight I made it by the recipe, but added sauteed garlic butter shrimp on top. This did not suck. You could put anything on top, really...roasted veggies, meat, whatever you want!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...