Monday, March 30, 2015

Spicy Italian Sausage and Beef Meatballs Glazed in Mushroom Cream

Everyone wants to be that person who brings the best food to the party. If you agree, these amazing meatballs are for you! Spicy Italian sausage and well-marbled chuck combine to make a lusciously rich meatball. The spice from the meatballs pairs perfectly with earthy mushrooms, sweet sherry caramelized shallots and sumptuous cream. Italian Parsley is more than just a garnish--it is a must to complete the flavor profile; bright, herbaceous, slightly bitter parsley serves as a perfect counterpoint to the rich, spicy and slightly swet sauce. I served the meatballs with toothpicks and photographed them on bamboo skewers. If you don't have a party to take these meatballs to they would be excellent over spƤtzle or egg noodles or even mashed potatoes.

Spicy Italian Sausage and Beef Meatballs in Mushroom Cream

Makes approx 2 dozen mini meatballs

2 1/2 spicy Italian pork sausages, casings removed
8 ounces ground chuck
1/4 cup cream
2 Tablespoons sherry
2 Tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces mushroom caps, sliced
1 shallot, diced
1 Tablespoon butter
2 Tablespoons Italian parsley leaves, chiffonaded
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Gently mix sausage and beef together and form them into mini meatballs 1 - 1.5" in diameter. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and add olive oil. Place meatballs in pan in a single layer. Cook 2 -3 minutes on each side to develop a sear and render some of the fat into the pan.
2. When meatballs are browned on all sides, remove from pan and set aside. Drain approximately half of the fat from the pan. Turn the heat down a smidge and add your butter.
3. When the butter is melted, turn the heat back up to medium and sautee the diced shallots until they begin to brown. When they have caramelized somewhat, add in sherry to deglaze the pan. Allow the sherry to cook into the onions. Add salt, to taste
4. When the liquid has mostly evaporated, add mushrooms and pepper to taste and sautee until cooked through.
5. Turn the heat down to the lowest setting and add cream. Stir to incorporate and when the cream has been just heated through pour quickly over meatballs.
6. Serve with chiffonade of parsley and toothpicks and enjoy.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Welsh Rarebit

I just demonstrated how to cook this very simple cheddar and beer spread on Good Day Google Plus, Chef Dennis' live hangout on air show on Google Plus. It was my first time appearing on his show and I was excited and honored! This sauce is dead simple and although I love it as a snack it also makes an amazing spread for your next burger. In fact, I made some sirloin burgers tonight and spread it on our buns, then toasted it. It made for a much sexier picture of my Welsh rarebit than the one we initially took (on toast), which is why you'll see the spread featured with a burger in the picture.

What in the funk is Welsh Rarebit? Well, deliciously sharp aged cheddar -- not to mention amber ale -- do make the taste of it a little funky, but it's a fabulous and subtle funk and pairs perfectly with tangy mustard and spicy cayenne. Plus, it's really easy. Try it. If you like sharp cheddar at all you'll love it. So, it's a rich cheese sauce that became popular in the United Kingdom around four hundred years ago. It is served either spread on toast and then broiled, or a thinner version is often served as an alternative to the traditional Swiss cheese fondue. If you'd like to serve it as an alternative to Gruyere fondue I've included a method in the recipe.

Welsh Rarebit

4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
3 Tablespoons all purpose flour
6 ounces pale ale or other ale or lager
1 Teaspoon worcestershire sauce
½ Tablespoon dijon mustard or 1 Teaspoon mustard powder
¼ Teaspoon cayenne powder

1. In a saucepan over low heat, melt butter. When butter is thoroughly melted, whisk in flour.
2. Cook, whisking constantly, until the flour turns golden.
3. Whisk in beer, mustard and worcestershire sauce.
4. Whisk grated cheese in a pinch at a time.*
5. Spread on toast, then broil under the broiler for 2 - 3 minutes. Serve and enjoy.

*If you wish to enjoy this as a fondue you can thin it out with up to ¾ cups half n half or ½ cup milk until fondue reaches desired consistency and serve with crostini.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Brown Butter Cauliflower Gratin Puree

Even vegetable haters have to admit they can stand to eat them if they're covered in luscious cheese sauce. At its heart that is exactly what cauliflower au gratin is. Of course, developing a subtle flavor in the cheese sauce is what elevates this popular dish. I love cauliflower gratin myself. But I found myself thinking: what if there was a way to get the sauce even more throughout the dish and to enjoy a smoother experience, like a puree? Well, there is. And pre-roasting the cauliflower in clarified brown butter serves two purposes: one is to cut down on time needed for the gratin in the oven, making it easier to save your sauce from separating; and the other purpose is to add another dimension of flavor to it--butter roasted cauliflower has a nutty sweetness all its own. That nutty sweetness is a perfect--if subtle--compliment to the sharp, creamy and nutty gruyere as well as the sweet and vaguely spicy touch of nutmeg in the sauce.

Brown Butter Cauliflower Gratin

1/2 head of cauliflower, divided into large florets
3 ounces guyere cheese, grated
3 Tablespoons Butter, divided
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 small pinch nutmeg
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lay cauliflower florets in a single layer on a large cookie sheet. Brown one tablespoon butter in a small saucepan. Remove from heat, clarify and brush thoroughly over every floret. Add a small pinch of salt to taste.
2. Roast for 30 minutes. Set aside to cool. When it has cooled puree it roughly in a blender.
3. In a saucepan melt remaining butter. Add cream and whisk to incorporate. Add salt and pepper to taste and nutmeg. Pinch by pinch add in cheese and whisk to combine.
4. Combine sauce and cauliflower in your baking dish and bake at 375 until the top starts to turn golden, about 10 - 20 minutes.
5. Serve and enjoy.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Green Tea Cheesecake

The first time I tasted green tea creme brulee I thought it was excellent. I thought that the marriage of creamy vanilla and bitterly brassy and herbaceous green tea was just magical and it sparked a thought: what other creamy vanilla desserts would embrace the flavors of green tea? Cheesecake was the first thing that popped into my head. After tasting the product of two batches worth of experimentation I was rather glad it did! The green tea flavor is subtle, but perfect and the smell of vanilla in the kitchen was intoxicating. I made mini cheesecakes in my muffin tin, lined with large sized paper baking cups.

Green Tea Cheesecake

Makes 5 mini cheesecakes or one 7" cheesecake

For the crust:
2 graham crackers, crushed
4 small ginger snaps, crushed
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 Tablespoons sugar

For the filling:

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup half n half
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
1 Tablespoon green tea with matcha powder
1/2 Tablespoon vanilla
1/2 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 egg

1. Mix together all crust ingredients and press into baking cups or springform pan (if you're planning to make one cheesecake you'll be using the springform; multiple mini cheesecakes are made in baking cups). Set in the fridge for an hour to cool.
2. Add cream, half n half and tea to a small saucepan and steep for 10 minutes over the lowest setting. Strain dairy and set aside to cool.
3. When cream mix has cooled, whisk it thoroughly into cream cheese. Form a slurry with vanilla and cornstarch and add it to cream and cheese in bowl. Add egg and stir to thoroughly mix.
4. Preheat oven to 300 degrees and pour filling into baking cups or springform pan. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center.
5. Cool to room temp, then refrigerate for at least one hour to allow to set. Serve.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Decadent Brunch Menu: Bananas Caramel with Cinnamon Oatmeal

Admittedly, not everyone likes oatmeal. Especially the youngsters. But it is hard for anyone to resist buttery, sweet bananas caramel. Although I wouldn't classify this hot cereal as healthy it is still a good gateway for persuading the oatmeal haters. Earthy and spicy cinnamon oatmeal, drizzled generously with sweet, rich sauce and caramel poached bananas is a bit too decadent for every day. However, it is a fabulous and yet simple way to class up some oatmeal for a nice weekend brunch. If you have some granola with nuts laying around it makes a great little garnish. The granola I used was my homemade maple walnut granola. If you want to get extra caramelization on your bananas, pan fry them first and set them aside instead of poaching them in the caramel sauce.

Bananas Caramel with Cinnamon Oatmeal

(Serves 2 - 4)

For the Oatmeal:

1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 cup oats
3 1/4 cups water
1 Tablespoon sugar
tiny pinch salt

For the sauce:

2 Bananas, cut into 1" slices
1/2 Tablespoon Vanilla
2 1/2 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 raw sugar (such as turbinado) or white sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 cup heavy cream

1. In a pot combine all of the oatmeal ingredients. Bring to a boil, then turn down to almost the lowest setting.
2. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, make caramel sauce: melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat, then stir in all of the sugar sugar and cook for 5 minutes to allow to melt.
4. Add cream, vanilla and salt to sauce and bring to a bubbling boil before turning heat down to the lowest setting.
5. Poach banana slices in caramel sauce. When the banana has cooked through (it will have become wetter looking and is now more yellow than white).
6. Serve sauce and bananas ladled over oatmeal and then garnish with toasted nuts or granola.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!