Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Red Grapefruit Cava Terrine

The most important part of this refreshing New Year's Day terrine is that you make it a day ahead so it is ready no matter what time you get up. 

Cool on the tongue and not too sweet, the terrine consists of closely placed layers of red grapfruit and orange slices held together with a nearly transparent gelatin made from the  residual juice from the fruit and a little sparkling wine.  We used Cava,  Spain's contribution to the genre, which is a great value among the sparklers.  You could also use Proseco or even ginger ale.

This is technically a jello mold but because the cirus fruit is packed so closely, you may not be aware of anything but the bright citrus flavor in an easy to eat form. Answer the call of retro with the abstract appeal of this Red Grapefruit Cava Terrine.

If you do not have a small terrine, pick up small disposable foil loaf pans at the supermarket.  They are sold in packs of 3-4 and can be reused for mini-meat loaves.   You can also make this recipe in several 1/2 cup ramekins for individual servings. 

How to Supreme Citrus
This recipe calls for 'supreming' the oranges and grapefruit which is a fancy way of saying cut away the bitter mebrane of citrus slices. This technique allows you to have slices of citrus without the bitterness that comes form the membrane and pith.  It also gathers the juice of the fruit.  If you have never supremed, check out a video to see the technique in action.  It is easier than it looks and you will get the hang of it with one or two tries.  Don't worry if your slices are not perfect.  This is a very forgiving recipe and your slices will still look great in the terrine.

To supreme fruit, use a sharp knife to cut away the pith and peel of fruit.  Over a wide bowl, hold the fruit in your non-dominant hand and carefully cut away a slice along the membrane.  The fruit will come away from the membrane quite easily.  Go all the way around the fruit until all the slices are removed.  Squeeze the remaining membrane into a bowl to collect the juice. Discard the membrane.

Red Grapefruit Cava Terrine
Yield: One 6-8 inch terrine (serves 4-6)

3 red grapfruits
2 oranges
1/3 cup citrus juice (reserved from sliced fruit)
1 1/2 teaspoons plain gelatin (powdered)
1/3 cup cava
optional: 1 tablespoon orange liquor, like Grand Marnier
3 tablespoons sugar
optinal: garnish: chopped cranberries, fresh mont leaves, thin citrus slices

  1. Supreme the citrus fruit, reserving juice.You should have 1 1/2 cups fruit and 1/3 cup or more of juice.  
  2. In a small cup, combine gelatin with 2 tablespoons of juice and set aside for five minutes while you heat the remaining liquids plus the sugar in a small pot over medium heat.  
  3. When the Cava mixture begins to boil, lower the heat to simmer and stir in the gelatin mixture which should be a loose solid by now.  Stir until the gelatin completely dissolves, them remove it from the heat.  
  4. Lay a few slices of citrus on the bottom of the terrine.  You can add decorations at this point, remembering that the bottom layer will form the top of the terrine.  We used some finely chopped cranberries on out terrine.  Other ideas include fresh mint leaves, edible flowers or thin slices of orange or tangerine.
  5. Pour some Cava gelatin on the fruit, just up to the level of the fruit.  Place another layer of citrus on top of the first and pour more Cava gelatin to the level of the fruit.  Repeat this process until you use all your fruit or come to the rim of the terrine.  We had a little extra and made grapefruit-gelatin cups in small ramekins.  
  6. Make sure the gelatin is evenly distriuted by gently pressing on the top of the terinne in a few spots.  Place the terrine on a plate or rimmed pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or at leat 6 hours.
  7. When you are ready to serve the terrine. place the mold in a vessel with hot water for about 30 seconds to help loosen the sides.  Slide a butter knife along the inside to release the gelatin from the mold.  Place a platter on top of the terrine and flip it over.  The mold should cooperate and slide out neatly.  If it does not, place the mold back in hot water for another 15-20 seconds and give it another try. 
The terrine can be sliced with a serrated knife or scooped out with a wide spoon. 

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Need a Winter Drink? Try a Cider Margarita

Who knew that cider, tequila and Grand Marnier would work so nicely together?  I got the intial recipe from How Sweet It Is, added a big squeeze of lemon to the recipe  and simplified the garnishment to a cinnamon sugar rim.  The original version uses orange slices and cinnamon sticks.  Lovely if you have a moment before guests steal the cocktails away!

Here is how to make a single drink or a pitcher of this easy cocktail.  (Your guests will want you to make the pitcher.)

Cider Margarita for One
1 1/2 ounces golden tequila (1 jigger)
1/2 ounce Grand Marnier
6 ounces cider
juice of 1/2 lemon
Cinnamon Sugar (1 part cinnamon to 2 parts sugar)
3-4 ice cubes

  1. Place cinnamon sugar in a small shallow bowl, just wide enough to fit your glasses.  
  2. Combine tequila and Grand Marnier in a cup slightly larger than your glass, dip rim of glass in alcohol in cup then in cinnamon sugar.  
  3. Add a few cubes of ice to the glass, followed by remainder of ingredients.  
  4. By this point the cinnamon sugar will have hardened a bit.  It will melt as the Margaritas passes over it into your mouth. 

Cider Margaritas for Four
6 ounces golden tequila
2 ounce Grand Marnier
24 ounces cider
juice of 2 lemons
Cinnamon Sugar (1 part cinnamon to 2 parts sugar)
Ice cubes

  1. Prepare rims of glasses as above.  
  2. Mix alcohol with cider and lemon juice in a pitcher.  
  3. Place ice in glasses and pour margartitas upon request. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Pizza Dough Potato Knishes

For those who have not tasted a real old fashioned knish, these pastry wrapped bundles of mashed potatoes are baked not fried.  This recipe uses plain pizza dough to create a long roll stuffed with the potato filling rather than individual knishes.  It makes excellent buffet fare, cut into individual serving pieces.  And it can be made ahead, even frozen.  (See below for the trick to frozen mashed potatoes that are not watery when defrosted.) 

If you have a lot of dishes to prepare for a holiday buffet, make this mashed potato in pastry ahead and freeze it.  Defrost and reheat it in the oven (microwaving is not recommended to preserve the lovely crust).

Store-bought or homemade pizza dough is a good, pure substitute for the traditional bread dough casing used to make knishes.  Homemade mashed potatoes made with very little milk or broth and seasoned with salt, pepper and chives mimic the classic potato and onion mixture knish lovers admire.  Substituting chives for sauteed onions makes this version a little lighter and faster to prepare.  I use Yukon Gold potatoes which hold up well while the dough wrapping bakes and have a lot pure potato flavor. 

Pizza Dough Potato Knishes
Yield: 2 knish loaves, serves 10-12 people

1 recipe pizza dough (store bought is fine)
8-9 medium potatoes
1/2-2/3 cup milk or broth, warmed
potato flakes*
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried chives (use 1 tablespoon fresh)
1/4 black pepper

  1. Remove pizza dough from refrigerator  and bring to room temperature while making mashed potatoes.
  2. Peel potatoes.
  3. Place potatoes in a large pot with water.  Water should be at least 2 inches over height of potatoes. Cover, bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium.  Cook potatoes, loosely covered until tender.  This will take 25-40 minutes. 
  4. When potatoes are very tender, drain the water and place pot on a heat resistant surface.  Let the potatoes rest, uncovered, a few minutes while some steam (and moisture escapes).  
  5. Use a masher to mash potatoes.  You may also use a ricer for this step.  
  6. Once potatoes are mashed, add warmed milk or broth in small batches.  Your goal is to have a fairly thick potato mixture.  If you are freezing the knish loaf and using potato flakes, add them at this stage.
  7. Stir in butter, salt, pepper and chives. Taste and adjust seasoning to your taste.
  8. Preheat the oven to 400˚F.
  9. While the potatoes cool a bit, roll out dough.  You will have enough ingredients to make two potato loaves.  
  10. Cut dough in half lengthwise and place cooled potatoes down center of each.  
  11. Fold the sides up and create a seam.  Use a bit of water to seal the seam.  
  12. Seal the edge of the loaves by pinching the dough together and turning under, towards the center seam.  
  13. Place knish loaves seam side down on an un-greased baking sheet.  
  14. Using a sharp knife, score the loaves just through the dough layer to mark servings.  This will make it easy to slice the loaves into serving sized pieces without pushing out the potatoes.
  15. Bake the knish loaves at 400˚F for 15-20 minutes, until dough is completely cooked and browning.  
  16. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing.  
Three or more thinner rolls can be made with the same amount of dough and potato filling.  These make great finger food.

*The Trick to Freezing Mashed Potatoes
I've searched online to find out if this trick is generally known and was surprised to find so few references.  I credit Arthur Schwartz for teaching me how to handle freezing mashed potatoes.  (His  fabulous and authentic knish recipe in Jewish Home Cooking is the basis for this faster recipe.) The secret to freezing mashed potatoes is powdered potato flakes.  The flakes absorb excess water from the fresh potatoes and prevent a soggy knish.  Adding potato flakes will also create a mashed potato that will "stand up" a bit more.   For this recipe, add about 1/4 to 1/3 cup potato flakes.  Be sure to look for a pure potato product in the ingredients list on the box, NOT instant mashed potatoes. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Shrimp over Green Rice

Around this time every year, I post a recipe that is a nice foil to holiday meals and buffet party fare.   Even those of us who love the holiday food scene, from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day brunches, need a few light recipes during the season.  Shrimp over Green Rice is this year's entry.

There are only four main ingredients in the dish: Shrimp, rice, cilantro and jalepeños.  You can add a dollop of guacamole or simple and pure chopped avocado as a garnish. 

Most of us will have good frozen (or previously frozen) shrimp available at local markets.  Shrimp benefits from gentle handling and this recipe keeps it simple so that the shrimp can shine.

Buy the best quality medium shrimp you can afford.  Figure on 7-8 shrimp per person. Steam the shrimp in the shell directly out of the freezer.  As soon as the water boils I take it off the heat and keep the pot covered to 5-9 minutes depending on quantity in the pot.   Normally we cool the shrimp over ice after it is fully cooked but still very tender.  For this recipe we peel and devein it as soon as it is cool enough to handle then give it a flash saute in butter with lots of black pepper to finish it.   The result is perfectly cooked and flavored shrimp.

The rice could not be more simple.  Cooked rice can be reheated or make a batch of fresh rice.  You will want a little over 1.2 cup cooked rice person.

Toss in diced jalepeño to cook with the rice.  Cut the sides from a jalepeño, leaving the seeds and stem intact.  Slice 1-2 pieces into thin strips them finely dice.   This is a simple way to deal with a spicy little fresh pepper.  It will lose most of its heat when it cooks with the rice so that you will taste the pure jalepeño flavor in the finished rice. 

A big handful of fragrant, freshly chopped cilantro is stirred into the hot rice just before serving.

Shrimp over Green Rice is good cold too.