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Wednesday
Sep142011

Down Home Dinner!

Cheese Platter

A crowd pleaser when served as a starter.  A pleasant, "avant garde" surprise when served as dessert.  This dish is ALL about presentation.  My friend Monica has mastered the cheese platter by taking risks with the variety and accompanying her cheese with sweet treats such as fresh honeycomb.  She also has really cute cheese labels so guests know what they are eating.  I also came across a great presentation while assisting Mike's cousin Lisa at an Encore Catering event in NJ.  Lisa's version was "garnsihsed" with fresh figs and mixed olives.  

Chicken Savoy

I was introduced to this dish years ago at a restaurant called Augustino's in Hoboken, NJ.  This is my own take on their famous recipe.  The deep flavor of this dish makes you feel warm all over- its crispy and hearty.  Paired with a glass of the finest brunello makes it even better.  

Crispy Potatoes in Nutty Brown Butter

We learned to make these in our first week of culinary school.  I am sure it was because we needed to practice knife skills.  For this dish, we were forced to have every potato cube exactly uniformed in a medium dice so that it would cook evenly.  I fell in love with the crispy, nutty and salty flavor of these potatoes.  Be prepared to eat the whole batch...by yourself.  

Melted Greens

The rich, creaminess of these greens help to balance the tang of the chicken savoy.  This is a dish is a good alternative to the everyday spinach or broccoli.  It can accompany just about anything.    

Creamy Chocolatey Chewy Brownies

I have been waiting and waiting and waiting for Mike's Aunt Joan to give me this recipe. You will die in decadence when you eat these. I will post AS SOON as I get my hands on it.

Wednesday
Sep142011

Roasted Chickpeas!

The first time I made these, I was working at ON20 and we were preparing for a demonstration at the Noah Webster school in West Hartford, CT.  The goal of the demonstration was to encourage children to choose healthy snacks and to intoduce them to fresh procduce and herbs.  In addition to the roasted chickpeas, we also prepared seasonal sauteed vegetables with fresh herbs.  

The first time I actually ate these casually was at my cousin Trisha's house.  She made them on a whim and found out that her 2 year old daughter Caroline was in LOVE with the sweet version. They made for a perfect beach day snack (kids and adults alike!!).  

 

Ingredients for savory method:

 

  • 1 (12 ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • generous pinch of kosher salt 
  • additional spices to consider
    • for an italian flavor, add garlic powder (optional)
    • for an indian essence, add a bit of curry (optional)
    • for a kick, add a bit of espelette or cayenne pepper (optional)

 

Directions:  

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Blot chickpeas with a paper towel to dry them. In a bowl, toss chickpeas with olive oil, and season to taste with kosjer salt and other spices of your choice, if using. Spread on a baking sheet in one layer, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until browned and crunchy. Watch carefully the last few minutes to avoid burning.

 

Ingredients for sweet method:

 

  • 1 (12 ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • 1.5 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar (or honey)
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp raw sugar

 

Directions:  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Blot chickpeas with a paper towel to dry them.  Grease your cookie sheet or line with parchment paper (preferred method). Spread on a baking sheet in one layer.  Lightly spray with cooking spray and bake 30 to 35 minutes, until crunchy. Meanwhile, whisk all remaining ingredients together, except for raw sugar, in a medium mixing bowl and set aside. Transfer raw sugar to a small food processor or grinder and process until smooth, fine and powdery -- a cross between the consistency of white refined sugar and confectioners (powdered) sugar. Dump the roasted chickpeas into the syrup mixture and stir to coat. Once evenly coated, sprinkle sugar over chickpeas, stirring gently, until all chickpeas have a nice sugar coating. Return to baking tray and bake for another 5 to 15 minutes, until there is a crystallized glaze and the chickpeas are completely crunchy, being careful not to burn. 

Wednesday
Sep142011

Cherry Almond Scones!

Inspired by the traditional recipe found in Joy Of Baking.  I love making scones because there is no limit on what you can add to define the flavor.  This here is a sweet recipe that is tried and true.  Savory ones, like cheddar/dill are equally delicious!  Note:  When baking, I always like to measure my ingredients on an electric kitchen scale.  This helps to ensure accuracy- a critical factor in baking!

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup (75 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) milk, half-and-half, or heavy cream
  • 1 c sliced almonds
  • 1 c dried cherries

Directions:  

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and place the rack in the middle of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

In a large bowl, whisk or sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture with a pastry blender, two knives, or with your fingertips. (The mixture should look like coarse crumbs.) In a small measuring cup whisk together the milk or cream, beaten egg, almond and vanilla extracts. Add this mixture to the flour mixture. Stir just until combined. Do not over mix.  Fold in almonds and cherries.

Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead the dough gently four or five times and then pat into a 7 inch (18 cm) round. Cut round in half and form each half in to smaller rounds.  Then, using a lightly floured knife, cut the dough into triangles (as if cutting a pizza).  Place the  triangles on the prepared cookie sheet, spacing a few inches apart. Brush the tops of the scones with a little cream (this helps to brown the tops of the scones during baking).

Bake for about 15 - 18 minutes or until nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of a scone comes out clean. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Lightly glaze when fully cooled.  

 

For glaze: 

Ingredients

 

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

 

Directions

In a small bowl, combine the sugar, milk and vanilla. Stir until smooth. Let stand for 5 minutes to thicken if desired. 

 

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