Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Sticky Toffee Pudding


To follow the roasted goose we served on Christmas (as mentioned in my last post) Jonathan baked sticky toffee pudding, following a recipe I clipped from Bon Appetit. It’s a confusing dish for Americans because it’s not pudding (it’s cake!) and it doesn’t feature toffee (the Brits call caramel toffee). Language barrier notwithstanding, it’s a terrific dessert. Sweet and decadent. Even more so when we plated it atop a generous spoonful of vanilla custard we had leftover from the morning’s pastry breakfast. We also opted to top the pudding with roasted hazelnuts and pecans.

ingredients

Pudding:
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour plus more for pan
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pitted dates (about 6 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
Sauce:
  • 1 1/4 cups (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon brandy (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream
  • Special equipment: A 6-cup Bundt pan or 6 one-cup Bundt pan molds

 

preparation

For pudding:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour Bundt pan. Bring dates and 1 1/4 cups water to a boil in a medium heavy saucepan with tall sides. Remove from heat; stir in baking soda (mixture will become foamy). Set aside; let cool.
Whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat 1/4 cup butter, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl to blend (mixture will be grainy). Add 1 egg; beat to blend. Add half of flour mixture and half of date mixture; beat to blend. Repeat with remaining 1 egg, flour mixture, and date mixture. Pour batter into mold.
Bake until a tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 40-45 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Invert pudding onto rack. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.
For sauce:
Bring sugar, cream, and butter to a boil in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Continue to boil, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in brandy, if using, and vanilla. DO AHEAD: Can be made 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewarm gently before using.
Cut cake into wedges. Serve with sauce and whipped cream.




Goose Liver Pate

 

This year we decided to roast a goose for Christmas (it turned out really well) which meant I found myself with a goose liver on hand. After a bit of researching I found this wonderful recipe from Jacques Pepin and after making a few modifications, I set about preparing it for tonight’s New Year’s Eve celebration. Like Christmas, tonight’s dinner will be a quiet, low key affair for just the two of us as I’m still feeling down about my mother’s passing in early December. We picked up her ashes yesterday. It’s all a bit surreal. We snuck an advance taste of the pate this afternoon and it is marvelous. Marvelous! I recommend serving it with cherry jam (we’re going to use the homemade jam we canned over the summer) on rich buttery crackers.

ingredients

  • 3 ounces goose fat
  • 1 large shallot, peeled and coarsely chopped (2 1/2 tablespoons)
  • 1 goose liver (about 3 ounces), chopped
  • 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence (or more, to taste)
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Port
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • teaspoon of unflavored gelatin

preparation

1. Soak the liver in the milk; set aside. Meanwhile, place fat in a skillet, and cook over medium to high heat for 4 to 5 minutes, until the fat has melted and some of it has browned.

2. Add the shallots, and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring occasionally. Add the liver and milk, herbes de Provence, Port, and garlic, and cook over medium to high heat for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, stirring occasionally until liquids have reduced. Add the salt and pepper.

3. Transfer the mixture to a blender, and blend until liquefied. This will yield 1/2 cup. Pour into souffle cup and sprinkle gelatin over, stirring to dissolve. Let cool for at least 1 1/2 hours, then cover and and refrigerate until serving time.

4. Spread the pâté on crackers or toasted baguette slices, and serve. The pâté will keep, well covered, for 3 to 4 days.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Asian Chicken and Mushroom Soup

This month's issue of Bon Appetit featured a quick and easy winter soup infused with Asian flavors. I made it for dinner last night with some modifications and it went over very well.  Herbs and spices are paired with poached chicken and mushrooms and the result is a warm and flavorful broth that elevates ordinary chicken soup to a deeper, more soulful, plane. I've adopted the recipe as my own and with how simple and speedy the prep is, I'll be making it frequently. 

Here's my version (serves 3):

Chicken and Mushroom Soup with Chile 

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 T allspice

  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts 

      •  teaspoons kosher salt, plus more
      • 1 T chicken broth base
      • 8 ounces baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
      • 1 serrano chile, thinly sliced
      • 1 1” piece ginger, peeled and grated
      • 1 T rice vinegar
      • 1 T soy sauce
      • 1 T Aji-Mirin sauce 
      • Handful of rice vermicelli 
      • Freshly ground black pepper
      • Cilantro, for garnish
      • Wonton strips, for garnish
      In a heavy soup pot (I use a Le Creuset enameled cast iron dutch oven), heat olive oil over medium heat. Place garlic, bay leaves, and allspice in the oil and saute until the allspice begins to release it's flavor. Add the chicken, chicken broth base, and 1½ tsp. salt to the pot and cover with 6 cups water. Bring to a bare simmer over high heat. Immediately reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot, and cook 8 minutes. Remove chicken from liquid and let cool slightly, then shred into bite-size pieces.
      Strain stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean pot; discard solids. Add mushrooms, chile, ginger, vinegar, soy sauce, and Mirin to stock. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until broth tastes rich and flavorful, 8–10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then add shredded chicken and vermicelli and simmer just until noodles are tender. Divide soup among bowls and serve topped with cilantro and wonton strips.