I was born and raised in Kansas and learned to cook alongside my mother. Now, along with my wonderful husband, I have taken the plunge into the city life in New York. These are my food adventures: in my own tiny kitchen, and in the many restaurants of the city.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Chocolate Stout Floats

Sometimes you just need dessert but you don't want to spend a lot of times making it. I feel this way a lot. I end up spending a ton of time making dinner so I don't have time to make anything special for dessert. This one, however, anyone has the time for. The combo of sweet caramel with the rich chocolate stout puts a sophisticated spin on the childhood classic.

Chocolate Stout Floats
Dulce de leche or caramel ice cream
chocolate stout (I used one from Brooklyn Brewery)

Using a tall glass, scoop in 3-4 scoops of the caramel ice cream. Top of with chocolate stout. Enjoy with a spoon and a straw.

Grown-up S'mores Tart

I never knew you could make marshmallows at home. I always figured they were lots of weird fake-y type ingredients and needed some sort of crazy processing. Then I saw all of those posts from the wonderful Daring Bakers a while ago and knew I had to try my hand at these myself. The food blogging community is always great about teaching me something new.

I decided I wanted to do something a little different with these marshmallows and decided to go for a little savory mixed in and made them rosemary flavored. I really liked the flavor of them, but a couple of people that tried them thought it was a little strange. But I love pairing up fresh herbs in sweet desserts so it was right up my ally.

But, what to do with rosemary flavored marshmallows? I had a few ideas, but ended up deciding I wanted to make them into something resembling s'mores for a more sophisticated palate. The result: graham cracker crust, creamy white chocolate raspberry filling, and the rosemary marshmallows bruleed on top.
Rosemary Marshmallows
(recipe slightly adapted from Alton Brown)
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup ice cold water, divided
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
4 sprigs rosemary
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Nonstick spray

Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.
In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt and rosemary sprigs. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat and remove the rosemary sprigs.
Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.

Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.
When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Grown-up S'mores Tart
2 t. unflavored powdered gelatin
3 c. heavy cream
3 TB sugar
1 1/2 t. raspberry extract
1/2 lb. white chocolate, chopped
pinch of salt

8 oz. graham crackers, crushed
1 stick melted butter
1 TB sugar
rosemary marshmallows

In a small bowl sprinkle the gelatin over 1 1/2 TB cold water and let sit until the gelatin is softened.
In a medium saucepan heat the heavy cream, sugar, and raspberry extract over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat. Add the white chocolate and a pinch of salt. Allow to sit until the chocolate softens and melts and then stir until smooth. Cover the white chocolate mixture with plastic wrap (making sure it is touching the surface of the mixture) and allow to cool for 1 hour.
Mix together the crushed graham crackers, melted butter, and sugar. Press into the bottom of a greased 8" spring form pan. Wrap the bottom of the spring form pan with a couple of layers of foil to keep the chocolate filling from leaking. Place pan into the refrigerator for 1 hour to chill the crust.
After allowing to sit for an hour, pour the white chocolate filling into the crust. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours uncovered, until firm. Top off the tart with rosemary marshmallows.
Right before serving use a brulee torch to heat and crisp the marshmallows.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

This is one of those recipes that I have had bookmarked for a long time. Just reading the name of it makes my mouth water. But after making it, I am kicking myself for not making it sooner. Seriously: this is so, so good. And it's easy! Plus, you can throw in kind-of whatever you like.
I got this recipe from my friend Trish. I do have to say that Trish feeds a whole family, so this is a lot of soup for two people, but it reheats well. In fact, I'm going to have some more for lunch today. Thanks for this recipe, Trish!

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
(recipe from Trish--changes noted in red)
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 onion, chopped
2 TB rosemary, thyme, oregano (fresh), chopped
1 bay leaf
4 c. chicken broth
2 c. water
1 6.5 oz. pkg. Uncle Ben's Long grain and wild rice (fast cooking, with seasoning packet)
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
3/4 c. flour
1/2 c. butter
2 c. heavy cream

Mix together the chicken, mushrooms, celery, carrots, garlic, fresh herbs, and chicken broth in a large pot and bring to a boil. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the rice (without the seasoning packet), reduce the heat and simmer with a lid on for 5 minutes. Then remove from the heat, leaving the lid on for 5 more minutes.
In a small bowl mix together the salt, pepper and flour.
In a saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the seasoning packet. Once the butter begins to bubble, slowly add the flour mixture a little at a time. Cook for a couple of minutes, until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan. Slowly stir in the heavy cream. Cook until the mixture is thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the cream mixture into the soup. Heat the soup over medium heat 10-15 minutes and serve.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Acorn Squash: Ravioli and Soup

I've been trying to be better about not wasting food. I grew up with my mom making dinners for a family of five and I seem to be unable to make dinners for two without having mounds left over. And I feel so bad about throwing away so much food because we can never eat it all! I'm slowly getting better at making just enough for just the two of us, or having just a little leftover for later. This time I misjudged how much I would need for the first meal, so I used the leftovers for something new.

I need to take a second to state here my absolute love for wonton wrappers. I do love making my own pasta, but sometimes it can so time consuming when you also have to make a filling for something like ravioli. Plus, my wrist always gets to hurting when I'm trying to use my rolling pin to roll out the dough extra thin (damn those years working as a cashier at Dillons...). Those wonton wrappers are a dream come true. And all I can think of lately are the millions of different things I could do with them. I can't wait to use them again and again!

(PS: sorry there's no pic of the ravioli...I was feeling especially lazy that night. But you know what ravioli look like :)

Roasted Acorn Squash
3 acorn squash
1 stick butter, melted
salt and pepper
chili powder
coriander seed powder
2 TB brown sugar
1/4 c. heavy cream

Preheat oven to 375. Cut the acorn squash in half and place on a baking sheet. Top with butter, salt, pepper, cinnamon, chili, nutmeg, allspice and coriander seed powder. Bake for 45 minutes or until tender. Allow to cool.
Using a spoon, scoop out the flesh of the squash and place into a bowl, making sure to dump any butter from the squash and from the baking dish into the bowl as well. Add the brown sugar and heavy cream and mix together. Use as a filling for ravioli or a base for soup.

Acorn Squash Ravioli
Roasted squash mixture
30 wonton wrappers
egg white mixed with water
1 stick butter
10 sage leaves, chopped
1/2 c. parmesan cheese

Start a large pot of salted water on to boil.
Fill each wonton wrapper with about 2 t. of roasted squash mixture. Seal the edges using the egg white mixture (brush on to the edges with a pastry brush), folding the wonton into a triangle shape.
Once all ravioli are filled, place into boiling water to cook for about 5 minutes. Drain and toss with sauce.
For the brown butter sage sauce: Heat butter over medium-high heat without stirring. Once the fats separate towards the top, skim off using a wooden spoon. Add the sage and cook for a few minutes, until the flavors are infused. Add the parmesan cheese and then toss the ravioli with the sauce.

Acorn Squash Soup
3 c. squash mixture
2 c. chicken broth
1/2 c. cream
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
3 TB butter, chilled
apple slices
almond slivers, toasted

Mix together the squash mixture, chicken broth, cream, and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Use a hand blender to puree the soup (or use a blender if you do not have a hand blender). Place the soup into a large saucepan and heat over medium heat until cooked through. Stir in chilled butter right before serving and garnish with apple slices and toasted almonds.