Saturday, January 29, 2011

Croque Madame - Angela Style

I whipped this up as a Quick and Easy Saturday Brunch. 
My version is completely non-traditional

This little sandwich can be found at almost any traditional French bistro.  Often served open-faced for lunch, with the egg sunny-side up or over easy and served with a drizzling of Mornay Sauce and gruyere cheese.  Or omit the egg altogether and you are eating a Croque Monsieur.  Apparently first made the scene in 1910, but all I can really tell you is that this is a little slice of high-cholesterol deliciousness.

My version was inspired by a Croque Madame I had with Mike on our anniversary trip to Catalina Island.  I whipped this baby up one morning after yoga when I was feeling like something special and "naughty" for breakfast.  It's essentially a ham and cheese sandwich with an egg added, and french toast for the bread.

2 slices home-style white bread
3 eggs
2-3 slices thin-sliced ham (or sub turkey)
1 slice cheese-of-your-choice (Gruyere or Swiss cheeses are traditional, but I am NOT a fan of either of these cheeses.  I prefer a soft Irish Cheddar, Gouda or Mozarella)
1 tablepsoon butter 
1/2 tsp nutmeg (optional)
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1-2 tablespoons Maple Syrup

1/ Melt butter in a skillet over med-high heat.

2/ Whisk 2 eggs in a large bowl, adding optional nutmeg, cinnamon and a dash of salt.

3/ Dredge bread in egg yolk mixture until well coated on both sides.  Place bread in hot skillet and grill for approx 2-3 minutes on each side until bread is golden brown (be careful not to burn).  Remove from skillet and set aside, covered.

4/ Add a little more butter to skillet and fry remaining egg.  I prefer my egg over-easy for this type of sandwhich; in which case you will fry is the egg for 2-3 minutes (until the yolk is almost set) and then flip the egg over and fry an additional 1 minute.  Remove immediately.

5/ While egg frying, assemble sandwich by placing ham and cheese on top of one layer of bread.  Top with fried egg.  Add another dash of salt and a drizzle of maple syrup.  Top sandwich with remaining slice of french toast and dig in.  Bon appetit!

As with all French Brunch items, these taste amazing served with a frothy cappuccino or vanilla latte.
For an alernative, more savory, sandwich use chicken or turkey and add avocado (omit cinnamon and nutmeg).

If you would like to try a more traditional Croque Madame, I've attached a few links below:

Julia Child's Croque Madame
Jacque's Croque Madame
Paula Deen's Croque Madame
Rachel Ray's Croque Madame

Trader Joe's Grilled Lentil Wrap

These are such a delicious treat and completely vegetarian

For Christmas I got this book: The Cooking with Trader Joe's Cookbook, by Deana Gunn and Wona Miniati.  There are tons of great recipes and they are all relatively basic.  All the ingredients, of course, come from Trader Joe's which makes them quick and easy to pick up.  Mike and I had a paricularly decadant weekend, so this was our answer to quick and healthy dinner.  The recipe is enough for about 6 wraps, so I was able to make a few for lunch and then unfortunately had to toss the rest.  I highly recommend this recipe as a warm and filling treat, especially if you feel like you are needing some extra healthy carbs!
Grilled Lentil Wraps
Prep and cooking time: 10 minutes
Serves: 6

1 small onion, chopped, or 1 cup refrigerated Diced Onions
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 pouch frozen Organic Brown Rice, or 2 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups pre-cooked Steamed Lentils
3 cups frozen spinach (half a 16-oz bag), thawed and excess water squeezed out
3/4 cup kefir or plain yogurt (I used Fage 2% Greek Yogurt)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
6 flour tortillas (I like to use the Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Tortillas)

1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Saute onion until soft, about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile prepare frozen rice according to package instructions.  Add spinach and cook until wilted.

2. Add rice and lentils.  Stir until combined and remove from heat.

3. Mix in kefir (or yogurt) and cheese.

4. Heat ungreased griddle or skillet over medium heat.  Assemble wraps by placing 2/3 cup filling in center of tortilla and folding all sides inward.  Place wraps on hot skillet, seam side down.  Place a bag of flour or some other heavy object on top to achieve the effect of a panini press.  Toast for 3-5 minutes on each side until toasted, brown and crispy.  

Variation: Use swiss chard or any other greens instead of spinach.  Substitute alternate cheeses such as Harvati, Swiss or Jack.

Nutrition Info: 311 calories, 9g fat, 2g saturated fat, 13g protein, 42g carbs, 6g fiber, 352mg sodium

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Pork Chops Marinated in Coca Cola

Shown here with Trader Joe's Brown Rice Medley and Peas with Butter and Lemon Pepper

This inspiration for this dish came from my mom.  In our family, like many, it's traditional to eat pork, saurkraut and black eyed peas on New Year's Day for financial good.  My mom was telling me that my dad will marinate a pork loin in Coke overnight on New Year's Eve, and it's her absolute favorite.  Just out of curiousity I googled some recipes for pork chops in Coca Cola, and came across this one.  To be honest, it was a too sweet for my taste and the flavor was very one-level (no dimension).   However, this is still a good "starter recipe" for a beginner and served with peas, it has the appeal of "White Trash" cuisine.  Simple, hearty, you get what I'm saying.  A fun twist for serving would be to finely slice the chop and serve it on thick bread or a roll as a BBQ pork sandwich.

8 pork chops
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup ketchup
1 cup Coca Cola (I subbed Pepsi - blasphemy, I know)
Brown sugar

Place pork chops in a baking pan.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  

Mix the ketchup and Coca Cola and pour over the chops.  Sprinkle with brown sugar.  Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour, or until the chops are tender.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Green Bean and Prosciutto "Negimaki"

Another delicious recipe from my boss: The perfect appetizer!  Like sushi for the carnivore!

1/2 lb haricorts verts*, trimmed
3 hard boiled eggs, quartered
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
1/2 cup minced scallion (2-3)
15 thin slices prosciutto* (about 7 by 3 inches: 1/2 lb)

*You can find inexpensive pre-sliced prosciutto and haricorts verts at Trader Joe's.

Cook haricort verts in large pot of boiling salted water.  3 tablespoons of salt per 6 quarts for 4-5 min (be very careful not to overcook!).  Drain and transfer to an ice bath to stop cooking.  Drain and pat dry.

Force hard boiled eggs through medium mesh sleeve into a bowl using a rubber spatula (my boss recommends using a potatoe ricer - which, unfortunately, I don't have).  Stir in mayo, zest, lemon juices, scallions, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste.

Place a sushi mat with slats running crosswise or a 9-inch square of parchment paper on a working surface.  Lay a piece of saran wrap on top of mat and arrange 3 slices of prosciutto perpendicular to slats and slightly overlapping to form a 9 x 7 inch rectangle.

Spread 1 tablespoon of egg mixture evenly over across the bottom half of the prosciutto rectangle.  Arrange beans on the egg side-by-side and end-to-end overlapping ends in 8 tigh rows parallel to slats spread another tablespoon of egg mixture over beans.

Roll up prosciutto and beans tightly with the aid of the mat.  Transfer roll, seam side down, to a cutting board. 

 Trim ends and cut crosswise into about 10 half-inch pieces.  Make and cut 4 more rolls.  Turn pieces upright to serve.

These can be made a day ahead and stored in the fridge.  Pull from fridge, cut and give them 30 minutes to warm to room temperature before serving.

Spicy Parmesan Green Beans and Kale

Ugly photo of a delicious dish

I simply love kale and Giada's version below is perfect for Autumn and Winter.  It has a vibrant taste and is warm and filling.  A perfect side for a roast chicken or seared steak.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
1/4 pound cremini mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed and cut in 1-inch pieces
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 bunch of kale (1/2 pound), rinsed, stemmed and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese

Warm the olive oil in a large, heavy saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring, until translucent, about 4 minutes.  Add the mushrooms, green beans, salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes.  Add the wine and continue cooking until the green beans are almost tender, stirring once or twice, about 5 minutes.

Add the red pepper flakes and the kale and continue cooking until the kale has wilted.  4 to 5 minutes.  Add the lemon juice and Parmesan cheese.  Toss to coat and serve immediately.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Emeril's Hazelnut, Goat Cheese, and Baby Greens Salad with Hazelnut-Chardonnay Dressing

This recipe takes a few special ingredients, a minimum of work and has an incredibly elegant flavor

1 cup hazelnuts
1/4 cup Chardonnay or other dry white wine
1/2 cup hazelnut oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 ounces baby greens
8 ounces goat cheese, such as Montrachet, crumbled

All Ingredients Shown Here from Whole Food's: Viex Pape - Blanc de Blancs (an excellent $5 Spanish white), Montrachet Goat Cheese, Fresh Hazelnuts and Hazelnut Oil

1/ Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2/ Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet.  Bake, stirring occasionally, until the skins are cracked and peeling, about 10 minutes.  Wrap the nuts in a kitchen towel and let cool for 10 minutes.  Rub the nuts in the towel to remove most of the skins. (This step is quite time consuming.  I was told it works better if you batch the hazelnuts just a few at a time.)

Let cool completely.

3/ Chop 3/4 cup of the hazelnuts.  Place the wine in a small bowl and gradually whisk in the oil.  Add the chopped hazelnuts, season with the salt and pepper, and whisk well to combine.  Place the greens in a bowl and toss with the dressing.

4/ Divide the greens among four salad plates.  Crumble the goat cheese over the greens, sprinkle with the reserved 1/4 cup whole hazelnuts, and serve.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Roy's Chocolate Soufflé

Shown Here served with Trader Joe's Vanilla Ice Cream, 
and our Christmas Tree STILL up in the background

I got to talking with my boss recently about his love of cooking, and he gave me several amazing recipes that he himself made for Christmas dinner.  This one is probably my favorite.  It's super easy and the results are decadent, delicious chocolate.  Ohmigod, is this good!

The original recipe calls for using a metal ring, greased and lined w/ parchment.  The ring is carefully removed when serving. which all just seems like too much work.  Instead,  I opted for some cute but inexpensive ramekins from Cost Plus World Market.

Roy's Chocolate Souffle
Serves 6

1 1/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
8 oz chocolate
4 large eggs
3 large egg yolks

Place the sugar and cornstarch into a stand mixer with a paddle attachment and mix until all is combined.  Place butter and brown sugar in a small sauce pot and bring to a boil, then add chocolate.  Mix until smooth and it simmers along the edges. 

Add to the dry ingredients in the bowl and mix until combined, about 30 seconds.  On medium speed, add the eggs and egg yolks and mix for 5 minutes.  Strain into a container and chill overnight.

Pull batter out of fridge and allow to sit for 20-30 minutes at room temperature.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Butter six 6oz souffle ramekins.

Fill each ramekin 3/4 of the way with batter.  Bake 22 to 25 minutes.

Serve with vanilla ice cream and (optional) raspberry sauce.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream

This photo was blatantly "borrowed" from my new favorite cooking blog: Dessert Stalking

Another Delicious ice cream recipe from Thanksgiving: Homemade Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream.  Fortunately, this one isn't too intensely pumpkin-flavored and would work well at other times of year.  Delicious served with Marbled Pumpkin Cheesecake or Espresso Caramel Bars!

This recipe was taken from the Cuisinart Flavor Duo Yogurt-Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker:

1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
2/3 cup pumpkin puree (may use canned solid pack pumpkin)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

In a 2-3/4 quart saucepan, combine the whole milk and the cream over low heat.  Split the vanilla bean with a sharp knife and scape the seeds out using the blunt edge of the knife.  Stir the seeds and bean pod into the milk mixture.  Raise the heat until the mixutre just begns to bubble around the edges, lower the heat and allow the vanilla to "steep" in the cream for about 15 to 20 minutes.  Remove the vanilla bean and discard or rinse and reserve for another use.

While the milk steeps, combine the brown sugar with the eggs and yolks in a medium bowl.  Use a hand mixer on medium speed to beat until thickened, smooth and pale tan in color, 1 to 2 minutes.  With the mixer on low speed, add 1 cup of the hot milk mixture in a slow, steady stream, and mix until combined, about 30 seconds.  Stir the egg mixture into the warm milk mixture, stirring constinuously.  

Cook over low heat until slightly thickened and the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon, 3 to 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and press through a fine mesh strainer.  Stir in the pumpkin puree and spices.  Cool completely.

Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap directly on the custard to prevent a skin from forming.  Refrigerate until chilled completely, or chill over an ice bath for 1 hour.  The custard can be made up to 2 days ahead; keep refrigerated.

When completely chilled, turn machine ON.  Pour the custard into the freezer bowl, and let mix until mixture thickens, 20 to 25 minutes.  The ice cream will have a soft creamy texture.  If desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in the freezer utnil firm, about 2 hours to "ripen".

The recipe reccommends serving in goblets with a dash of cognac, caramel sauce and toasted pine nuts.