Sunday, November 25, 2007

Chow's Spiked Apple Galette

So this is what I made for Slapsgiving: the Apple Galette on chow, which is the greatest website ever. This recipe wasn't all too hard to make just a lot more work than a traditional pie since you're pre-cooking the apples which keeps the apple liquid from making your galette soupy. If you've worked with pie crust before then I think you'll do fine with this recipe if you have never worked with pastry crust I recommend trying something easier before you do this. Some notes though: the crust on this recipe for some reason didn't bind as well as my regular crust usually does so you might want to try just your standard recipe. I also added some vanilla bean while the apples were cooking. Also note that the reduction is going to be more of like a thick sticky syrup so clean up may be difficult at that part but the alcohol does help thin it out as well as cut through the sweetness a bit. I didn't have Calvados which probably would have made this even better but I made a brandy-apple infusion which really didn't do all that much so next time Calvados or just straight up brandy. Well, this galette is delicious: the zest really helps bring this smooth roundness to the flavor and the cinnamon brings just a nice sweet spiciness that goes well with apples: I love this recipe. Here's the link to the recipe as I really didn't make any changes to it.

I will instead enclose a recipe for apple-infused brandy. I did taste the brandy and it had a nice subtle apple flavor but that subtleness ended up getting lost against the apple syrup I mixed it in. Nonetheless, this infusion isn't so bad: I included sugar because I heard that sugar helps it infuse faster but I'm not sure if that's right or not.

1 Granny Smith apple scrubbed well
1/2 cup of brandy
a pinch of sugar

Clean an appropriate sized jar with hot water and soap and dry well. Core and cut the apple into eighths or pieces that will into the jar. Add the apple, brandy, and pinch of sugar; put the lid on and shake vigorously and store in a cool, dark place. Shake the jar everyday for 5-7 days and then strain the infusion and store in the refrigerator.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Cabernet Sauvignon Cranberry Sauce

I was looking for a different way to make cranberry sauce and after doing some searching I read a recommendation on following the recipe on the cranberry bag but replacing the water with Cabernet. I also like citrus zest in my sauce so I added some orange and grapefruit zest as well as a cinnamon stick which didn't end up diffusing as much as I had hoped. If you do plan on making this I recommend using a full bodied tannic wine like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, or Barolo. Other reds like merlots or pinot noirs are too delicate and light to stand up against the strong tart flavor of the cranberry. The sauce ends up tasting a bit grapey and musty with a slight tannic finish. Oh, I also used a cheap $2 Charles Shaw as it's a pretty decent wine and I see it as wasteful as using a real good wine in cooking. I mean, if it's a wine you'll drink why not drink it: just use a really good quality wine to cook with. Price doesn't always correlate with quality; Charles Shaw is better than a lot of $10 wines so don't be hatin'.

Cabernet Sauvignon Cranberry Sauce
--yields about 2.5 cups
1 12-oz bag of cranberries
1 cup of Cabernet Sauvignon or similar full bodied red wine
1 cup of granulated sugar
zest of one orange
zest of one grapefruit
1 cinnamon stick

Add all the ingredients to a non-reactive sauce pan. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce to a simmer and cook until cranberries pop; skim if necessary. If you prefer a thicker sauce as I do, continue cooking after all berries have popped and press berries against side of pan with a spoon. This produces a more jam-like sauce.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Butternut Squash Risotto

This is a recipe from Chez Panisse which is a one star restaurant in Berkeley and has been cited as one of the best restaurants in the world. I actually got this recipe not from the cookbook but on the internet: this is my adaptation of the recipe. I choose to use this recipe because it was only one I could find that didn't use a puree which wasn't something that I had wanted. This was actually my first time making risotto and it does take a lot of time stirring but it isn't all too hard.
Risotto reminds me of that moment on "Top Chef" when Tom yells at Howie for making his risotto wrong. He cites the problems as it being too heavy for it should flow on the plate and he added cream which is wrong. While Tom is correct on the cream aspect as risotto should be creamy from the starch in the rice he is wrong about the flowing-ness of risotto. I read through Marcella Hazan's "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking" and she states that there are 2 types of risotto: the tight and stickier style of Piedmont and the flowing runny style called all'onda. I opted to make my risotto wavy and flowing with the final addition of a ladle full of stock before plating. You can't really see it in the picture as I used a small platter to hold it but it did flow.

Chez Panisse Butternut Squash Risotto
--feed about 8 people
2 cups of Abrorio rice (or similar rice such as Vialone Nano or Carnaroli)
7-8 cups of chicken broth (I used TJ's broth concentrate)
1 medium onion (diced finely)
Fresh Sage (I used one of those herb boxes you buy all herbs in)
1/2 a large butternut squash (mine was about 2 pounds)
1/2 cup of parmigianno-reggiano
1/2 cup of butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup of white wine (I used Savignon Blanc- 2 buck chuck)

Cut the butternut squash into small cubes (mine were about 1/8 in to 1/4 inch in size.) Add to a pot with 1 cup of chicken stock, about 10 sage leaves, and salt and pepper. Bring it up to boil and then lower to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes. When it is done it should still retain its shape but when a piece is pressed against the side of the pot it should mash. Drain and reserve the stock and discard the sage leaves. Heat the stock up over medium heat at this point and when it reaches a simmer turn it to low. Mince 6 sage leaves and cook in 3 tblsp of butter over medium low heat for about a minute. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes until softened. Add the rice (don't wash the rice) and some salt and pepper to taste and cook stirring until the rice looks like milk glass, which is when the outside of the grain is translucent and the center is white in the middle (takes about 5 minutes.) Turn the heat up to high and add the wine stirring until the wine is absorbed completely. Turn the heat down to medium and add a ladle full of stock and stir until the rice has absorbed all the stock (you can check by running your spatula down the center of the risotto and if you see any liquid pouring towards the center before the the rice, cook a bit longer.) Repeat this process for about 20-30 minutes until the rice is al dente, a stage where the rice isn't crunchy but there is a slight chew in the center. You may not use all the stock or you may need more but start checking your rice at 20 minutes.
While you are cooking rice heat up about 3 tblsp of butter over medium heat in a pan and add about 10 sage leaves in a single layer and fry, stirring, until crisp: their edges will curl up and it will darken in color: remove from butter and reserve.
When the rice is done add the remaining butter, then the squash and cheese and fold until incorporated. Cook for about 3-5 minutes more at this point; if you want a looser consistency add another ladle full of stock at this point. Serve this immediately (it can't sit out too long or it will get gummy) top it off with the fried sage leaves and shaving of parmesan.

Note: Marcella recommend that you water down your stock and if your stock is strong in flavor I do recommend this as it may overpower the flavor of your rice. So if you don't have enough stock just dilute it with water until you get the amount you need.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

These chocolate chip cookies are inspired by Tia Harrison of Lucky Cooky in San Francisco. While I've never been there nor have I tried her cookies I did see her video on chow which inspired me to make these. I googled around and found a recipe she had given ABC which looked really wrong so I made some adjusting and I think I can call this recipe my own.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
--makes 14 3.5 in cookies

2 and 1/4 cups of AP flour
3/4 cup of butter (1.5 sticks) softened
3/4 cups of packed brown sugar
3/4 cup of white sugar
2 eggs- room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt (Kosher and try to crumble it a little into finer grains)
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups of chocolate chips (about 1-12 oz bag)

Make sure your butter is really soft, leave out for a couple of hours; if you didn't just pull it straight out of the refrigerator and microwave for about 14 seconds.

Preheat oven to 350F. Cream butter in a large bowl with a stand mixer (use whisk attachment) or with a hand mixer (don't try by hand you really need a light fluffy texture.) Add both sugars and cream together until well incorporated and really light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and then add the vanilla and then the salt. Beat until it is light but don't overbeat at this point. In a separate bowl (I just used a brown paper bag) mix together the flour and baking soda. If using a stand mixer switch to the paddle attachment or if using hand mixer switch to a large spatula. Add half the flour mixture and slowly pulse with the stand mixer or fold with the spatula. When flour has incorporated (don't overmix it's ok to still see white flour) add the rest and pulse or fold the flour in. Pour chocolate chips in and fold in using spatula or by hand. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and add 1/4 cup measurements of the dough spacing it out 3 inches in between. Flatten out the dough to 1/2 an inch and place into oven baking for about 10-12 minutes turning the cookies 5 minutes in. After it is done baking, remove from oven and let rest for about 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.

You can certainly make these cookies smaller as 3.5 inches is really big just watch the cookies carefully. These cookies are a bit more blonde than the typical chocolate chip cookie and it has a lot of chocolate chips (I used TJ brand semi-sweet.) The texture is crisp on the outside but soft and fluffy on the inside. Taste wise it is a tad bit sweet and perhaps with too many chocolate chips but it is also nice and salty so decrease the salt if you don't like tasting salt in your sweets.