Saturday, July 19, 2014

Bleu Cheese, Cherry and Spinach Barley Risotto

Serves 6

  • 1.5 c. barley
  • ~5 cups chicken stock
  • 1-2 T butter
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced 
  • 1/2 pound cherries, halved, seeds removed
  • 2-3 ounces St. Agur, or similar rich bleu cheese
  • 2 ounces (half a package) baby spinach
  • Minced marjoram and thyme to taste, fresh preferably
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Honey to taste (optional)
Cook barley risotto style. toast grains first in pan with no liquid. Add liquid to cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Continue to add liquid as the other liquid evaporates until cooked al dente (1 hr, to 1.15). Meanwhile, saute shallots and garlic, then add cherries, then add spinach and stir till wilted. Set aside. Add blue cheese to barley, and stir in. Add in more chix stock till a thick, viscous, soupy texture is achieved. Add cherry mixture, and season to taste. Serve warm. We served this with steak. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Mexican Spiced-Chocolate Bread Pudding with Chipotle Whipped Cream

Serves 6 

OK, so this isn't exactly authentically Mexican, but the heat makes it feel decidedly non-French. I got the idea for this from a confluence of things. 1) I had to do dessert for a progressive dinner, and the theme was Mexican... which brings me to 2) I remembered this amazing "mexican chocolate bread pudding" we had in California. That one was made with croissants, but did not have any heat (not sure at all what was Mexican about it, but it was the best bread pudding I'd ever had.) So to make it more Mexican, I remembered 3) a chipotle whipped cream my mom had served with pumpkin flan. And from that trio of parents, this bread pudding was born. And it is one of the best I have ever had (not trying to toot my own horn, but it's awesome).  
  • 6 pain au chocolates, cut into 1" squares
  • 9 ounces chili-chocolate bar, like Vosges' hot chili bar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • 2 cups cream (1/2 cup + 1/2 cup + 1 cup)
  • 1 tsp + 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a 3 quart baking dish, place 1/2 of pain au chocolate pieces. Chop 1/2 of chocolate (4.5 ounces), and distribute half of this (~2.25 ounces) around pain au chocolate. Arrange remaining half of pain au chocolate pieces, and other portion of chopped chocolate (~2.25 ounces) on top of this. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, milk, 1/2 cup cream, and 1 tsp vanilla. Pour over the top of the pain au chocolate in the baking dish. Bob the pain au chocolate pieces to ensure that all are saturated with the custard mixture. Cook for around 50 - 55 minutes, or until golden brown and puffy. Allow to cool. 

For the ganache sauce, chop remaining 4.5 ounces of chocolate. Melt chocolate pieces over a double boiler, then whisk in cream. Add only 1/4 cup at first, then add more until you get a saucy consistency. 

Whip cream to medium peaks. Add confectioner's sugar, and more if needed to taste. Add other tsp vanilla, cinnamon, and chipotle chili powder. 

Serve bread pudding with chocolate sauce and whipped cream. 

Nota bene
If you are unable to find a chili-chocolate bar, you can get a similar flavor profile by adding chipotle cinnamon either to the custard mixture, or by tempering (melting) the chocolate over a double boiler, and adding to that. 

Sautèed Kale with Apples and Mustard

Serves 3

This has very German flavors to me, and is a wonderful winter side dish. We had it with bourbon-braised pork

  • ~ 5 ounces of kale, torn into large shreds
  • 1 granny smith apple, cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 1 T butter
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1.5 tsp whole grain mustard
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste
Melt butter in a sautè pan over high until foaming. Saute apples until beginning to brown. Don't let them get mushy though, you want to keep them crisp-ish. If you feel they are getting too soft, just move to the next step. Reduce heat to medium-high. Add kale, and saute for 3-5 minutes, so that is just starting to wilt. You'll need tongs to move it around and make sure that you don't end up with some parts over done. Remove all kale to a medium mixing bowl. Add lemon juice, mustard and honey. Season with salt, pepper to taste. Add more honey, lemon juice, or mustard, if desired.