Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ghost Dip for Baked Potato Mummies

Trick or Treat Night can be rushed and dinner should be simple.  Try these baked potatoes with yogurt "Ghost Dip" to get the night off to a good start.  They can be the complete mini-dinner with lots of protein from the yogurt and the potato or make a nice side to chicken tenders.

We used lemon peel-black pepper seasoning and fresh chives (frozen in an ice cube tray and rinsed) to make our Ghost Dip.   Add salt to taste but be careful to taste your lemon peel-black pepper seasoning for salt first.  Some brands are salted already.  For every 3-4 ounces of plain Greek yogurt, add 1/4 teaspoon lemon peel-black pepper seasoning and 1/4 teaspoon fresh chopped chives.

Other variations for Ghost Dip:
White pepper & dried dill

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Red Pepper Applesauce on Pork

Here is a simple, fast way to serve pork during apple season. Make your own chunky applesauce and stir in some apricot jam, a dash of cayenne and some red pepper flakes to pop some pure flavor.  Wonderful with a simple grilled pork tenderloin, roasted pork loin or chops.

You can add the apricot jam and hot pepper to store-bought applesauce and there are some good ones with just apples (no sugar).  These beat the sugared competition in most taste tests I've done with friends and family. 

Since its apple season though, try this recipe using fresh apples.  Just peel, dice and cook apples in the microwave on high for 2 minutes.  The apples are cooked but still whole and you can mash them with a fork if you want a smoother texture. 

Note-- if you have children at the table, serve the plain (not spicy) cooked apples on their own and let diners add the spicy red pepper-apricot sauce on top as shown in the photo. 

Red Pepper Applesauce
Serves 4 as a condiment

3 apples, preferably a tart variety like Granny Smith or Honey Crisp
pinch salt
3 tablespoons apricot fruit spread (or jam)
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper*
1/8-1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes*
optional: dash cinnamon

* Add more if you love spicy

  1. Peel, core and dice the apples.  Place in a microwave-safe bowl.  Stir in a pinch of salt. 
  2. Microwave on high 2 minutes.  
  3. While the appleas are cooking, combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl.  Apples are ready when they are softened but still hold their shape.  
  4. Stir the apricot-red pepper mixture into the hot apples. 
  5. Let sit 15 minutes before serving with pork.  May be served warm or cold. 
Also great as a sandwich spread for leftover cooked pork or chicken.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Parmesan Pepper Pinwheels

It's almost worth making something with puff pastry sheets just to have some leftover strips that can be turned into these cheese-filled pinwheels.   They make a very cute amuse-bouche offering with a glass of red wine.  The ones shown here were made leftover puff pastry scraps from a larger puff pastry project, a turnover stuffed with roasted fall vegetables. 

Here's the recipe for Parmesan Pepper Pinwheels using a full sheet of puff pastry.  Once you see how easy they are to assemble, you can make up little batches from pastry scraps wihtout measuring.  Just grate a small amount of cheese onto leftover strips and finishing with a bit of black pepper or any other spice you like.  Roll up, bake and enjoy. 

Parmesan Pepper Pinwheels
Yield: 24-26 pinwheels

1 sheet puff pastry (store bought is fine, defrost an hour ahead if frozen)
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚K.  
  2. On a floured board or counter top, roll out puff pastry so that it measures about 14" X 14" or so.  (Exact measure is not crucial; just get the pastry a little flattened out.)  Brush away any excess flour.  
  3. Leaving about 1/2 inch of one edge uncovered, sprinkle cheese over pastry to coat evenly.  Repeat with black pepper.  
  4. With a pizza cutter or butter knife, cut pastry into strips no wider than 1/2 inch.  (You can cut thinner strips for more delicate and more pinwheels.) 
  5. Roll each strip up to form a wheel, starting from the coated edge and rolling toward the un-coated edge.  
  6. Wet the un-coated edge of pastry to seal the pastry to itself.  
  7. Place pinwheels on a baking sheet --no need to grease-- and bake for 12-15 minutes until pinwheels are crisp and pastry at center of each is cooked through. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Froached Eggs

A perfect "froached egg" with crispy potato dippers.
We like fried eggs.  We like poached eggs too.  An easy technique that actually speeds the time needed to make eggs results in our newly christened "froached eggs."

While I am interested in ingredients, my husband often contributes to flavor in the kitchen via technique.  Small changes that can have a big impact in the enjoyment of a dish.  He carefully observes nuances as food is transformed from raw to cooked, potential to kinetic energy.

How to preserve the delicate texture of the egg white holding its yolk and still get a crisp edge of delicious burnt butter?  Will an additional granule or two of salt hit the mark perfectly?  What is the best way to reheat baked chicken breasts in less than five minutes but still keep them tender?  What is the ideal temperature for chocolate cake and how long will it take if previously refrigerated then left at room temperature; will microwaving ruin it by melting the frosting too fast?...

Back to our eggs:
The pan makes a difference to well cooked eggs in obsessed households.  Ours is only used for eggs and only utensils made with rubber or silicone are permitted near the cooking surface.  Other skillets handle reheats and stir-fries.  After much experimentation and research, we agreed with America's Test Kitchen and chose the affordable TFal Professional.  We like the 8 inch one that can handle small batches.

So what's the big secret technique?  Steam boosting.  Here's how it works:

Froached Egg
You will need 1 egg, 1 teaspoon butter, salt and pepper, 1 teaspoon water

  1. Heat your pan to medium heat. 
  2. Add 1 teaspoon butter. When the butter sizzles, indicating it is giving up the water in the butter, crack open an egg onto the hot pan.  
  3. Salt and pepper your egg to taste.
  4. When you see the edge of the egg crisping, add a teaspoon of water around the egg's edge and cover.  
  5. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, another minute, until yolk is slightly opaque and the texture is as you like.  We like it  in the "very or just a little" runny range.
A simple modification to the good old “Fried Egg”.
Note to food historians: You have found it; the first written reference to a froached egg, named here in this very house.