Monthly Archives: December 2014

Coconut Hazelnut Pecan Tart. My bastardized version of pecan pie.

I am a pecan pie naes-sayer. They are overly sweet and gooey, and if they aren’t cold they kind of ooze all over you with their sticky nutty mess. That being said, my mind was recently changed by my friend, Laura. I went over for a day of goofing off downtown and baking. I was pleasantly surprised by what popped out of the oven (she makes the best baked goods). We made pecan pie bars, with a large smattering of hazelnuts in them. Their sweet scent filled the  apartment, and they came out quite tasty. So I took that delightful bar recipe she found on allrecipes, and changed it into something that looks nothing like the original.

For the crust

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tsp salt

approx 1 tbs or less ice cold water

Mix together the flour, butter, salt and brown sugar in a food processor, or by hand until the ingredients are reduced to crumbles. Add in the water, mix it into the dough, and press it into a lightly oiled tart pan. Its too sticky and soft to roll out. You’ll just end up using all your swears otherwise.

For the pecan pie goo.

4 eggs

3/4 cup white sugar

3/4 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup crushed pecans

1/2 cup crushed hazelnuts

1/2 cup coconut flakes

1 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, whisk the eggs with the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and vanilla extract. Add in the coconut, pecans and hazelnuts, and pour that into your tart pan. Bake for 40 minutes, or until when you give the pan a light shove it no longer undulates a wave of goo.

Semi Sweet Chocolate Drizzle

Just use dark or semi sweet chocolate, this thing is already teaming with sugar. The slight bitterness of the dark chocolate is a welcome additive to the to the salivary gland squeezing sweetness of this tart.

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup semi sweet or dark chocolate chips

On low, melt the butter. Add in the chocolate chips and stir until they are melted and combined well with the butter. If you’re a neanderthal like me, pour it into a plastic sandwich bag, seal the top, a cut a small hole in one of the corner. Drizzle that over the top of your pecan pie once it pops out of the oven, and let it cool for at least an hour.

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Filed under Desserts, Holiday foods

Pimenton roasted game hen with Mediterranean couscous

Pimenton sauce is freaking tasty. I recently ate it at a delightful restaurant downtown. I’m pretty sure this is going to go on everything for the next few weeks (or until I run out of smokey paprika). I had initially seen a recipe from my friend Jason, on the NY times website for Moroccan game hens and couscous. It looks nice. But the addition of paprika really made me want to over do it. Basting these little birds with a slightly diluted version of the pimenton sauce makes them wonderfully flavorful. After its finished cooking you can spread it all over everything, like a 5 year old to ketchup.

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3 game hens cut in half

4 cups of Israeli couscous

4 cups strong chicken broth

1 large chopped onion

6 cloves of chopped garlic

1 cup golden raisins

2 tbs of tumeric

1 tbs cinnamon

1 tbs Baharat spice

1 tsp salt

water

Pimenton sauce

1/4 smokey paprika

1 large onion

4 cloves of garlic

1 tsp salt

the juice of 1 lemon

1 bay leafs

1 tbs flour

1 1/2 cup water

1 tbs butter

For the baste

1/4 cup pimenton sauce

1/4 cup butter

Juice of half a lemon

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For the pimenton sauce, saute the onion and garlic in a medium sauce pan, with butter,  until blanched. Add in the paprika, water, bay leaf, lemon juice, and salt. let that simmer for about 10 minutes. Turn the heat to medium high and whisk in the flour. Once the mixture has thickened, blend it with a hand blender or regular blender until smooth. Let it cool and serve.

Putting it all together

Preheat the oven to 375. Rinse the couscous and place it in a lightly oiled roasting pan. Mix in the turmeric, cinnamon, salt, and baharat spice. Spread the onion, garlic and raisins over the, and gently mix. Pour the chicken broth over the top, and and place the hens over the couscous. Melt the butter, mix in the lemon and pimenton sauce, and baste the hens with it. Pop that in the oven, baste it every half hour with the pimenton sauce mixture, and add water to the couscous as needed. Bake it for 1 1/2 hours or until the legs easily break away from the body. Once its out of the oven, fluff the couscous and place the hens on top.

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Filed under Exotic meats, Holiday foods, poultry

A Cranberry Liqueur. Booze to make your Guests Smooze

So, my mom is cooler than me. I’m sure I’ve stated it before, and I’ll probably state it again. For the last few falls shes been making me peach liqueur, and blueberry liqueur. Both of which last me a few weeks, and then I have to go over and make one of the the worlds most distraught face, as I tell her that I couldn’t help myself, and I drank it. ( I really did lose it this time I swear!!) So now, in order to get as many cool points as my dear mom, I’ve been trying my hand at making liqueurs this holiday season. For Thanksgiving it was pumpkin spice, now that we’ve hit Christmas I made a delightful cranberry. They make easy gifts for drinkers, and can act as a fantastic liquid lubricant for any slow party, especially if you use everclear!

 

12 oz fresh cranberries

Juice and zest of 1 orange

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 gallon Vodka or Everclear

1 cup more sugar for later

In a medium sized pot, add orange juice, zest and sugar. Turn the heat to medium low, and let the sugar disolve into the orange juice. Throw in a light splash of water, and add in the cranberries, Stew them down to where they’ve burst, and are becoming almost like homemade cranberry sauce. Set them aside to cool for 30 minutes. Separate your cranberry into 4 different containers, (I use mason jars) and add in the vodka. Store it in a cool, dark place for 2-4 weeks. When your time is up, strain the cranberries out, and add in 1/4 cup of sugar into each jar, and let is sit for one to two more weeks, giving it the occasional shake as you go. When the time comes, break it out, give it one last shake for good measure, and pour over ice, or mix it with 7 up for a tasty treat!

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Filed under Drinks, Holiday foods

Poultry, Pork and Dairy! What Else Could Be More Merry!?

Sometimes you have to torture a chicken in order to get some really good grub. Have you ever considered what the chicken would say if it knew that after it died, you were going to take one of what could have been its babies, stir it around in a bowl, and then dip the chickens dead carcass in it? Wars have been started for less. Its so disrespectful…. and delicious. I made chicken cordon bleu tonight. Its comfort food. And on the darkest day of the year, you really just need to curl up with some tasty food and a nice strong drink. Chicken breasts are notoriously dry. We’ve taken care of that this evening by giving it the beating of a lifetime, and adding in flavor with vinegar, lemon juice and salt.

4 chicken breasts

1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar

Juice of 1 lemon

4 slices of ham

4 slices of swiss cheese

1 cup finely grated gruyere cheese

1 tsp lemon zest

1/4 cup flour

1 cup panko bread crumbs

2 eggs

Salt

Pepper

1 cup oil

Place the chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap, and give them a good bashing until they are about 1/2 inch thick. Place the breasts in a bowl or ziploc bag, and add in the balsamic, lemon juice, and salt. Coat each piece, cover it, and let it sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes. While that is sitting, whisk your eggs in a bowl. Then mix together flour, panko, lemon zest, and half the Gruyere cheese on a plate and set it aside. Heat up your oven to 400 degrees, and place oil in a pan and heat it to medium high. (I didn’t use an exact temperature, because at this point you’re just making the panko a bit more crispy). Remove the chicken from the fridge, and pat it dry.  In the center of each breast  place a tablespoon+ of grated Gruyere, a slice of aged Swiss, and then a slice of ham. When the ham is on the top it will stop the cheese from oozing out from the edges of the chicken….SCIENCE! Fold the edges of the chicken inward, and secure them with a toothpick or string. Dredge each piece of chicken in the egg, and coat it liberally in the panko mixture. Place the breasts in the pan and fry on each side for 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and place on a wire rack over a baking sheet and add a sprinkling of sea salt immediately. Pop them in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the internal temperature is 165. Remove from the oven, let it sit for 10 minutes, and dig in.

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Droolworthy Shrimp Sandwich, and a Stunning Berry Filled Hike

I’m proud to announce that Feasts of Strength now has a facebook page that will probably be under construction for the next month or so. You can follow me there too at www.facebook.com/feastsofstrength Yay to you for being an invested follower!

For the last 3 years my boyfriend and I have been doing an annual fall hike up off highway 2. Its not particularly strenuous, but it does start out at 4500, and end up at around 5500. After a short uphill climb the rest of the hike is pretty much all sweeping views of the cascades. The best part about the hike is the berries. I’m sure you’ve had a blue berry before, and you may have had a huckleberry, but have you had the illusive wild blueberry. These delicious little bastards grow at high elevations. They look quite a bit like huckleberries, only instead of growing at knee to waist height, they are at ankle to shin height.  The cold from the elevation make them quite a bit sweeter than their lowland counterparts, and they are so delicious you’d think they were fake.

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Every year, after picking I drop off a bag of blueberries with my mom, we celebrate the incoming blueberry liqueur by making shrimp sandwiches. These aren’t just any shrimp sandwiches, its layers of amazing. Shrimp strategically placed to have some in every bite, crammed between dungeness cream cheese spread, and a layer of guacamole. The whole thing is entirely too much to handle. I might warn you. Making this is a bit of an involved process. It usually take at least 30 minutes to put it all together. WORTH IT!!!!

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The aforementioned blueberry liqueur

For the Shrimp

2 lb medium shrimp

olive oil for sauteing

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp chili powder

the juice of 1/2 a lemon

1/4 tsp liquid smoke

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

salt

pepper

Coat the bottom of a large pan with olive oil, add in the lemon juice and the liquid smoke and swirl it around to mix. Toss in the shrimp, and add the chili powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Saute until the shrimp is cooked all the way through and set aside to cool.

For the Crab

1/2lb Dungeness crab meat

8 oz cream cheese

2 tbs finely chopped chives

1 finely minced garlic clove

salt

pepper

Strain the crab meat, and combine all of the ingredients until well mixed.

For the Guacamole

2 avocados

1/2 red onion finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic minced

1 medium tomato chopped

the juice of 1 lemon

salt

pepper

Mash up the avocados until they are creamy, add in the rest of the ingredients until well mixed. You can buy it too, but it won’t taste as magical.

Finally, putting it all together

On one side of the sandwich, place the crab dip. On the other put the guacamole. On crab side begin placing shrimp, interlocking them with one another so the entire piece of bread is covered in little shrimp bodies. Top with alfalfa sprouts, and put the sandwich together. Mmmmmmh. Sandwichy goodness. I recommend pants with elastic bands. You’ll want 2 or 3 of these.

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Filed under Breads, Fish

Tom Kha Gai Soup. Yummy In My Tummy

So I found all of my ingredients for this at G mart. If you have lived here in Washington for a while, I’m sure you’ve been to Uwajimaya. It’s the go to place around the area for all of your Asian staples, its busy, and almost like a fun grocery field trip. If you live in the north end, you may have hit up H mart, with less exciting results, but they are still a bustling little Asian market.  Then there’s G mart. Oh G mart, you need a hug, a makeover, and maybe a trip to a local rehab center or group home for a little therapy. I did find all of what I needed with some extra treats to try. But it was one of the odder less stocked Asian markets I’ve been to.

For someone who doesn’t really appreciate soup that much, I sure do make a lot of it. Tom Kha soup is by far my favorite. Its rich and creamy, and full of little flavor surprises. And it only takes about 30 minutes to make up. It leaves you feeling like you’ve forgotten several major steps in the process, but then you test it, and realize its just that easy.

2 cups of chicken tenders, thinly sliced

12 oz sliced large oyster mushrooms

24 oz coconut milk

4 cups chicken broth

2 chopped lemon grass stocks

2 sliced shallots

4 or 5 finely minced Thai chili peppers

10 to 15 cherry tomatoes (optional)

2 tbs chopped galangal (Angry ginger) or just regular ginger

A generous splash of fish sauce

the juice of 2 limes

a liberal smattering of cilantro

Put chicken broth, fish sauce, lime juice and coconut milk in a large pot and heat it up to a simmer. Add in the lemon grass, shallots, chili peppers, cherry tomatoes, galangal, switch the heat to high, and bring it to a boil. Once the soup is boiling Add in your chicken and mushrooms, and drop the heat to medium high, allowing it to simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until your oyster mushrooms are cooked through. Finally ladle it into bowls and sprinkle fresh cilantro leaves over the top.

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Rabbit Croquettes. Give this nugget a try!

I was feeling a little peckish, and slightly sinister recently, and thought, what better way to quell my demons, than to eat something adorable. Rabbit is a delightfully lean meat. Its got just enough game in the flavor it make it have a slight zip, but not so much so that it takes away your breath. There are so many different things to do with rabbit, and since it is a notoriously tough meat, most of them involve brazing or stewing, but what about turning this puppy into the the baddest little meat nugget in the land? I made these rabbit croquettes with a tarragon and mustard aioli. The flavors are added in a small amount to compliment and not distract from our delicious little bunny.

1 rabbit, deboned and minced, or if you can find it ground

4 cloves of minced garlic

1 small chopped white or yellow onion

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground sage

the juice of 1/2 a lemon

1/4 cup of flour. Plus more for frying

pepper

1 whisked egg

1/2 cup panko 1/2 cup flour mixed

oil for frying

Saute your rabbit on medium with the salt, pepper, sage, garlic, onions, lemon juice, and a little butter or olive oil until the meat is cooked.  Drop the heat to low, and add in the flour. Make sure the meat is well coated and remove from the heat. Place in a bowl and set in the in refrigerator to cool for 30 minutes.  Once you have removed the rabbit from the fridge,  add in the whisked egg, and form it into small rabbit nuggets, about 1/2 an inch thick. Roll the nuggets in the panko mixture and set aside on a floured plate. Put  1/4 an inch of oil in a frying pan, and heat it up to medium high. Add in the rabbit croquettes spaced approximately 1 inch apart. Let them fry 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until they are golden brown.

For the aioli

2 egg yokes

1/2 cup chilled olive oil

1/2 cup chilled vegetable oil

1 clove garlic finely minced and ground into a paste

1 tsp white wine vinegar

1/2 tsp ground mustard. Not the shitty stuff.

1/2 tsp minced fresh tarragon

1 tsp lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

Make this about an hour to 1 day a head so that he flavors can meld together. Whisk up your egg yokes until they begin to thicken, and slowly begin adding in olive oil a little at a time, allowing the aioli to thicken back up after each addition. Once you have added in your olive oil, and you have a nice thick mayo, whisk in the vinegar, garlic mustard, tarragon, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Pro tip for people who hate whisking, use your hand blender with a whisk attachment to make life faster, and easier.

Serve it up with your delightful rabbit croquettes, and be happy that adorable things are so tasty….you monster.

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Filed under Appetizers, Exotic meats

Lobster Carbonara with Stained Glass Pappardelle Noodles

My family moved from Naples to the UK in the 1800’s, which is why I feel completely comfortable bastardizing this carbonara. Everyone has an excuse, and of course, why would you want to do that to a perfectly lush, and delicious recipe. My answer is always, because I can. As usual, this whole thing came about because I found some more randoms in my freezer. I had bought a bunch of lobster tails that were on sale for $3 a piece, my herb plants needed some love and attention, and I had recently bought one too many eggs. Lastly I really wanted to attempt to make stained glass noodles. It snowballed into something fantastic.

How do you make stained glass noodles? Assuming you know how to make basic pasta dough, first you need to pick a wide noodle like pappardelle or tagliatelle. Second you need a pasta maker. Because rolling it out to paper thin by hand will wear you out. Once you get your pasta to near paper thin, take a few different herbs (I picked parsley, oregano, and thyme), and sprinkle them over the top of the rolled out pasta. Fold it in half over the herbs, and run it through the pasta maker one last time. Only once, or the herbs will tear apart in the noodle. Then lay your noodles on a flat surface, and cut them into 3/4 inch strips. Cook the noodles for 1 to 3 minutes or until al dente.

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For the sauce

4 lobster tails, removed from their shells, and sliced into 1/4 inch pieces

1 cup finely chopped mushrooms

1/2 a cup pancetta or guanciale

4 egg yokes, and 1 large eggs

1 cup finely grated pecorino cheese

1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano, thyme, and parsley

salt

pepper

olive oil

1 lb pappardelle noodles.

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Saute the mushrooms, lobster, and pancetta in a bit of olive oil, until the pancetta is just crispy. Set it aside, or on very low while you cook your noodles. While the noodles are doing their thing, whisk the egg, yokes, cheese, salt and pepper until well mixed. When the noodles are finished grab 1/4 cup of the pasta water (just in case) Strain the noodles, remove the pancetta pan off the heat, and quickly add them to the lobster and pancetta. slowly pour in the egg mixture and gently toss until it coats all the noodles, and serve.

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Filed under Fish, Italian, Pasta, Uncategorized