Friday, January 6, 2017

Galette des Rois

Today Christians worldwide celebrate the Epiphany. In French tradition the celebration includes the Galette des Rois or King's Cake. So when my friend Terry Meredith, French teacher at Aquinas High School in Augusta Georgia, asked if I would make the coveted Galette des Rois for her students, I stepped up to the plate! The galette is a cake made with puff pastry and frangipane and usually has a little charm - called a fève - baked into it. According to tradition, whoever gets the piece of cake with the fève, gets to wear a crown and is favored for the day.

Aquinas High School students with the Galettes des Rois

Galette des Rois Recipe
(Adapted from a recipe by David Lebowitz)
Almond Filling
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon orange zest
4 ounces unsalted butter, cubed, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 teaspoons rum extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 sheets puff pastry, chilled
1 whole almond (for fève)
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon cream or milk

In a medium bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the almond flour, sugar, salt, and orange zest. Gradually fold in the butter until it’s completely incorporated. Stir in the eggs one at a time, along with the rum and almond extract. (The mixture may not look completely smooth, which is normal.) Cover and chill.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On lightly floured surface, roll one piece of puff pastry into a circle about 9-inches round. Using the bottom of springform pan as a template, trim the dough into neat circle. Place the dough on the baking sheet. Cover it with a sheet of parchment paper or plastic film, then roll the other piece of dough into a circle, trim it, and lay it on top. Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes.

Remove the dough and almond filling from the refrigerator. Slide the second circle of dough and parchment from pan so that there is only one circle of dough on the parchment lined baking sheet. Spread the almond filling over the center of the dough, leaving a 1-inch exposed border. Place the almond  to act as the fève (charm) somewhere in the almond filling.

Brush water generously around the exposed perimeter of the dough then place the other circle of dough on top and press down to seal the edges very well. (At this point, you may wish to chill the galette since it’ll be easier to finish and decorate. It can be refrigerated overnight at this point, if you wish.)

Preheat the oven to 375F Flute the sides of the dough and use a paring knife to create a design on top. Stir together the egg yolk with cream and brush it evenly over the top – avoid getting the glaze on the sides, which will inhibit the pastry from rising at the edges. Use a paring knife to poke 5 holes in the top, to allow steam escape while baking.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the galette is browned on top and sides. Remove from the oven and slide the galette off the baking sheet and onto a cooling rack. The galette will deflate as it cools, which is normal. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Cast Iron Skillet Chicken

If there is one cooking technique everyone should have in their toolbox it is "how to roast the perfect chicken."
Most recipes call for roasting chickens in a pan on a V-shaped rack--starting out with the chicken breast down, and then turning breast-side up to finish cooking. This is good for cooking the chicken on all sides; but what we are really looking for is browning the chicken on all sides. Using a very hot cast iron skillet accomplishes this goal with less effort.

Cast Iron Skillet Chicken Recipe
1 broiler/fryer, 3-5 pounds
Everyday Spice Blend
1/2 onion, cut in half
1/2 lemon, cut in half
5-6 cloves garlic, peeled and whole
6-7 fresh oregano sprigs (or your favorite herbs)
Olive oil

Put a cast iron skillet into the oven and heat oven to 500F.
Wash chicken, pat dry and season inside and out. Insert onions, lemon, garlic and herbs into cavity of chicken. Rub all over with olive oil. Truss legs and fold wings under chicken.
Remove hot skillet from oven and transfer the chicken to the skillet. Return the skillet to the oven and cook 15 minutes. Lower heat to 350F and cook an additional 40-45 minutes, or until temperature, on an instant-read thermometer, reaches 165 degrees. If chicken is browning too fast, loosely tent with foil.
Remove skillet from oven and transfer chicken to a cutting board. Let rest 15 minutes before cutting.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Shrimp Po'boy Sammie--What's Not to Like!

Po'boys don't require a lot of explanation--you either love them or you don't! While I like both catfish and shrimp po'boys, I have to admit that the shrimp version has the edge with me. What started as an addiction years ago when I lived in New Orleans has only gotten worse. Sometimes I just have to give in to the craving!

Shrimp Po'boy Recipe
Makes 4
2 pounds jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
Chef Belinda Seafood Spice Blend
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Canola oil, for frying
2 french baguettes, cut in half crosswise
Tomato slices
Pickle slices
1/4 cup Sriracha
1/4 cup ketchup

Season the shrimp with the seafood spice blend. In a medium bowl, combine the bread crumbs, flour and cayenne. Add the shrimp to the bowl, toss to coat well and let sit for 10-15 minutes.
In a large dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat, heat oil to 350F. Fry shrimp in batches until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel lined platter. Keep warm. Allow oil temperature to come back up to 350F. Repeat until all shrimp are cooked.
Slice the four baguette halves lengthwise, leaving attached on back side. Build po'boy starting with lettuce, tomato and pickle slices and dividing shrimp among the four buns.
In a small bowl, mix the Sriracha and ketchup together and drizzle over each po'boy as desired.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Chili Stew

I did not have an opportunity to eat any chili on Superbowl Sunday, so half-way through the week I was craving it!
There was no ground beef  in the freezer and I live miles from the  nearest supermarket. I did have a chuck roast which I thought about putting through the grinder of my stand mixer. Then I had a second thought! (Yeah, I know--a dangerous thing!) Who said it has to be ground beef--the chili police? I ended up cubing the roast. The finished product was a cross between a beef stew and chili; and it was disgustingly good. I will never go back to the old way of making chili!!

Chili Stew
Serves 8 (depending on bowl size)
1 3-4 pound chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes

1-1/2  tablespoons canola oil

1 red bell pepper, diced 
1  jalapeños, minced 
3 anaheim or poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, chopped
1 yellow onion diced 
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound bulk Italian sausage,  preferably “hot”
2 tablespoons Everyday Spice Blend
1-1/2  tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 10-ounce can diced tomatoes & green chilies
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
12 ounces beer, lager or ale 
1/2 cup beef stock
2 (15.5-ounce) cans assorted chili beans with juices (pinto, kidney, black beans etc)
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup shredded cheese

In large stock pot over medium-high heat, heat canola oil. Brown beef chunks on all sides, working in batches, and be careful not to overcrowd the pot. With a slotted spoon, remove beef chunks to another bowl and keep warm.
To the same pot, add bell pepper, jalapeño pepper, chiles and onion and cook until tender, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and sauté a minute longer. Make a hole in the center of the vegetables; add the sausage and brown. Add the beef chunks back into the pot along with the Everyday Spice Blend, chili powder, and cumin and cook for 1 minute. Add in diced tomatoes and tomato paste and stir for 2 minutes. Stir in beer and beef stock. Lower heat and simmer, partially covered, for 2-1/2 hours.  Add beans 1/2 hour before end of cooking time.
Garnish with cheese and sliced green onions.  

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Quince--The Comeback Fruit

The mysterious quince is making a comeback! Similar to an apple or pear, with it’s rich, golden skin tone and alluring aroma--reminiscent  of pineapple and guava--the quince is actually a relative of the rose.
If there was ever a poster child for the “slow-food” movement, the quince is it.  Unlike the apple or pear, quince can not be eaten raw. But when slow-cooked, develops a very sweet flavor, like a perfumed apple. With cooking the quince assumes a grainy texture, similar to a pear and turns a gorgeous rosy color.  Its complex taste is compatible with citrus and warming spices, such as nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, ginger and vanilla.
Quince is used to make tarts, jams, preserves and is also a popular ingredient in Middle Eastern meat stews.  In Latin countries, quince is turned into a paste called membrillo and is used in tapas dishes that contain Manchego cheese. The quince is high in pectin, the natural gelling agent that allows jams and jellies to thicken. This made quince a very popular base for preserves in ancient times.  The Portuguese word for quince is marmelo and over time evolved into what we know today as the word marmalade.

Quince Crumble
Makes 6-8 individual servings
8 quince
1 cup sugar
½ cup honey
1 lemon, cut into quarters
1 cinnamon stick
1/3 cup Madeira or Sherry
Topping (see recipe below)
Ice cream, optional

Peel, core and slice quince into 8 wedges each. Put wedges into a large bowl of water, as you prep, to prevent from turning brown.
In a large stock pot add ½ gallon of water, sugar, honey, lemon and cinnamon stick. Over medium-high heat bring to a boil and allow sugar to totally dissolve. Lower heat. Drain quince and add to the pot; simmer for about two hours, until you can pierce the quince with a knife. (The quince will be a bright rose color.) Let cool. At this point you can store in refrigerator, in the juices, for up to a week. Reserve the juice for adding to your favorite cocktail
Preheat oven to 357F. Divide quince among individual ramekins. Sprinkle with Madeira and cover completely with topping crumbs. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving. Top with ice cream. Can be served warm or room temperature. Refrigerate leftovers; warm in oven or microwave before serving.

Makes 3 cups
1 cup brown sugar
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup old-fashioned oats
½ teaspoon Moroccan Coffee Spice Mix
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup cold butter, cut into small cubes

Put all ingredients except butter into a food processor. Pulse until blended. Add the butter and pulse until mixture resembles course bread crumbs. Don’t over work.
Spread over top of the fruit.

 Reprinted with permission of Bella Magazine