Saturday, August 19, 2017

Sweet Corn Cooking Methods and the Corn-Cucumber Salad

Questions about the best preparation method for sweet corn are common.  From my cooking experiences, the methods are many and none are really better than others. It really is more a matter of the result you are looking for and the other foods you are preparing.

Julian's Corn in a Water-Milk-Butter Bath
I've tried just about every cooking technique known regarding sweet corn on the cob. From microwave to classic boiling, they all have their place. So here are some tips on the various methods, including how to select and store your corn prior to cooking.

Selection:  The color of the corn is not related to sweetness. There are very many varieties of sweet corn today. When I was a child, all corn was not particularly sweet. But today most all supermarket varieties sold 'on the cob' are sweet. Many have sugar contents approaching 35 percent. Look for corn in the husk (don't buy peeled) with silk that is clean and not dried out, with a husk that is green and pliable. If you do peel back a little husk, check to make sure a kernel is plump and juicy with your finger tip or nail. The single most important thing about sweet corn, is getting freshly picked ears.  

Storage: Do store the corn in its husk inside your refrigerator, ideally in the higher humidity vegetable drawer. If space is not available, put the unhusked ears in a bag with a damp paper towel. Use the corn as soon as possible, but do not store more than four days as the sugars will convert to starch.

Taste Testing is a Great Job in Julian's Kitchen!
Cooking:  You can roast (in the husk or out), microwave (in the husk or out), boil in water or a water/milk/butter mixture.  If I'm grilling I roast the corn on the grill. Husked and dry roasting directly on the grates gives you some classic brown marking. When slathered with butter it is delicious. The dry roast seems to bring out the sweetness. You can also clean and wrap your husked ears in foil, which in effect steams them. Of course some people like them in the husk and you can do this by peeling the ears back, removing the silk and replacing the husks. Add some butter or oil under the husk on the corn if you like, along with any additional seasonings.

In the microwave, if I'm in a big hurry, corn will cook completely in just 5 minutes. For this I usually husk, clean and season the corn, then place it on a pate covered with plastic wrap.

Finally, boiling has two options.... water or the water, milk, butter combo shown at the top. I've tried both and don't taste any noticeable difference.

For 6-8 ears of corn,  bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Shut off the heat and add the corn and let the corn stand for at least 10 minutes and not longer than 30 minutes. This insures the corn does not overcook.

Sugar: Finally, what about adding sugar to your corn for any of these methods? Corn kernels are nearly impermeable at least for the short cooking time we are talking about for any of the above methods. You can add sugar if you want, but it won't effect the taste. Add sugar if needed (rarely) and other seasonings just after cooking.

If you've got good sweet corn, it tastes good no matter which method you choose.

Corn-Cucumber Salad (sometimes called Mexican Corn Salad)

This recipe is very flexible and can be adjusted to the ingredients you have on hand or prefer.

Julian's Corn-Cucumber Salad

Ingredients
4 ears of fresh sweet corn
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small diced red onion
1/2 red bell pepper
2 chopped seedless cucumbers
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons diced green chilies
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 - 4 ounces grated aged Parmesan cheese

Instructions
Clean and husk the corn and cut it from the cob. Over medium heat in a large heavy skillet, heat the oil slightly. Add the fresh corn and cook, stirring regularly for about 3-4 minutes until the corn is tender.

In a large bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients. Add the corn and toss to combine. Allow salad to sit for about 30 minute too let flavors develop.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Grilled Knob Onions with Balsamic Reduction

Sweet grilled knob onions make an excellent side dish in the summer time when they are plentiful. Most any onion will grill nicely, but I prefer to use the knob onion (which is like a large scallion, and sometimes called a globe or bulb onion.)

Julian's Grilled Knob Onions with Balsamic Reduction
Although the term "spring onion" is used colloquially to encompass all onions with edible greens, and although nomenclature varies by English-speaking country, scallions and spring bulb onions are not the same. Knob onions are onions harvested as babies, usually with bulbs of 1 to 2 inches in diameter. If left in the ground, they would develop into mature onions. Scallions, on the other hand, would never develop a round bulb. So you are looking for a knob onion as pictured here.

Simply grill them until tender and drizzle with a balsamic glaze or reduction. I purchase my glaze pre-made at the store most of the time. If you want to make a balsamic reduction do the following.

Balsamic Reduction
Mix balsamic vinegar with brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until glaze is reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Glaze should coat the back of a spoon. Let cool and pour into a jar with a lid; store in refrigerator.

Instructions
Select about one onion per person. Clean them by removing any root end that exists and tear off any outer loose skin or damaged/dry stems. Cut the onions in half leaving on the leafy stem top. Coat with olive oil, salt and pepper and place on a hot grill with the cut side down and the tender green leaves over a cooler section of the grill. Alternatively, you can wrape the tops in foil to prevent burning. Cook until tender, only 3-5 minutes, turning once halfway through. Drizzle with balsamic reduction and serve.





Saturday, August 5, 2017

Peruvian Grilled Chicken Skewers

This classic Peruvian recipe (Pollo a la brasa) includes flavors common to Asia, due to large migrations to Peru from the region and now account for nearly 5% of the population. Peru is said to have one of the world's most important cuisines because it is an exemplar of fusion cuisine, due to its long multicultural history.

Julian's Peruvian Grilled Chicken Skewers
Pollo a la Brasa (a rotisserie or roaster chicken) is one of the most consumed foods in Peru. The origins of the recipe for this dish date back to Lima in the 1950s, when two Peruvian residents invented and registered the patent  for the rotisserie grill machine used to cook the chicken. Traditionally, the dish is served with French fried potatoes, salad and various sauces (Peruvian mayonnaise, ketchup, olive sauce, chimichurri and aji (chili) sauces of all kinds).

Off the skewer and onto the wild rice.
The strongly flavored soy-based marinade used for this dish is lightened with lime juice and seasoned with a few spicy ingredients to give it a little kick. It's certainly not 'hot' but you'll know they are there, which is why I like to serve it on a bed of white or wild rice, as shown here. These spices are offset with brown sugar, which helps it to brown nicely on the grill.

In Peru you often find served as a half chicken per person, although their chickens run smaller than their U.S. counterparts. I've taken the standard recipe and used only dark chicken thigh meat and placed them on skewers, which I think you will enjoy, Dark boneless, skinless thigh meat grills nicely and doesn't dry out easily.

Ingredients

Marinade and Basting sauce:
4-5  large cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoon smoked paprika
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup soy or teriyaki sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh ginger

For the chicken:
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Vegetable oil for grill

Instructions

Combine all marinade ingredients in a medium-size bowl. Reserve 1/3 cup for basting in a airtight container and refrigerate. Cut the chicken into 1-inch or so cubes. Add the cut chicken to a plastic zippered storage bag and add the remaining marinade. Turn the bag to evenly coat chicken with marinade. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours or even a bit longer.

Heat gas grill to medium high or start a medium hot charcoal grill. Thread chicken onto skewers (if using wooden skewers, soak them in water for at least 30 minutes.)

Clean grill surface and coat with an oil-dipped paper towel using tongs. Place skewers on grill and cook, turning one-quarter turn every 3-4 minutes until cooked through, about 10-12 minutes. Brush each cooked side with the reserved basting sauce. Chicken should be charred in spots.

Remove the chicken skewers from the grill, tent with foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve on a bed of white or wild rice.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Avocado Tuna or Chicken Salad

This smart choices replaces the mayonnaise you typical use in a tuna or chicken salad with avocado. I've made it several times now and served it to guests. To my surprise the guests didn't realize it wasn't mayo in the salad

Julian's Avocado Tuna Salad
If you are looking for a healthier alternative (vegetable fat-avocado vs. animal fat-mayo) or you have someone who is allergic (they do exist) to eggs, then this a great option. I however don't make it for either reason. I simply like the way it tastes!


You can use your own preferred tuna/chicken salad option or follow my recipe below. The key here is having really good canned tuna. Consider a premium brand like American Tuna.  I purchase this at Whole Foods and one 6 ounce can is good for two dinner salads. I used to only buy this brand. However, now Kirkland Brand (sold at Costco) is my go-to brand for white chunk line-caught tuna. It's as good as the American Tuna brand but more convenient. When you open the can you'll see why. A big firm, nearly single cut of tuna is inside. It's all meat and little water, and highly recommended.

If you're not familiar with how to pick or know if the avocado is perfectly ripe and ready for preparation, check out this webpage.

Ingredients (serves 2)

1 ripe avocado, cut in half, pit removed, diced, skins reserved
8 cherry tomatoes,
1 small stalk of celery, chopped
1/2 small onion or 1 shallot, finely chopped
1 small handful of parsley, chopped, about 2 tablespoons
1 6-ounce can solid white albacore tuna in water, drained
Juice from half a lemon/lime
Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Spinach leaves (or you choice of lettuce)
Olive oil and vinegar dressing
Fresh chopped parsley for garnish

Instructions
Prepare the ingredients as noted above. Note that you do not have to be exact. Add the avocado, celery, onion and parsley to a small mixing bowl. Stir them together mashing portions of the avocado to create a mayonnaise like base. Leave a few chunks of avocado so you can see and taste it in the mixture. Now gently turn in the tuna and add the lemon, salt and pepper. Don't over mix or it will make a paste, which is not preferred. We want to see and taste some chunks of tuna as well. Make a bed of spinach or lettuce that has been tossed in a light dressing. Stuff the avocado half and place on the bed of spinach/lettuce and sprinkle with the remaining chopped parsley. Serve.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Sore Muscle Summer Smoothie

With summer here and lots of gardening going on, I have some sore muscles. This anti-inflammatory smoothie does the trick and helping to relieve the pain. It also tastes good!

Julian's Sore Muscle Summer Smoothies
All ingredients are known to help to reduce inflammation in the body, and have a “cooling effect” as well. Pineapples have a long tradition as a medicinal plants, and are known known for their pain relieving enzyme bromelain.   Today I'm making a double batch, as shown above. Below recipe makes one drink.

As I noted in a prior posting, you do need a good quality blender to make smoothies. For more information on that read my post on Nija vs. Vitamix. I also give you some other great smoothie recipes on that page.

Ingredients
1 small rib celery
1 cup cucumber
1/2 cup pineapple
1/2 lime wedge (peeled and seeded)
1 cup coconut water

Instructions
Place all of the ingredients in your blender and select the "smoothie" option. Alternatively, select puree, which you may need to start and stop a couple times to ensure the ingredients are fully blended.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Tomato Watermelon Salad with Gorgonzola

Popular recently, the flavors of the sweet watermelon, acidic tomato and salty cheese go amazingly well together to make a perfect summer salad.

Julian's Tomato and Watermelon Salad
The success of the dish of course depends on having the very best and most flavorful local ingredients. If you can't get them, better to make something else or substitute as necessary.

Ingredients
1 part fresh rip tomatoes
1 part fresh sweet seedless watermelon
fresh basil leaves
crumbled Gorgonzola or Feta cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar reduction
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions
Clean and cut the tomatoes and watermelon into equally sized pieces. Wash and dry the fresh basil leaves. Place the tomatoes, melon and basil in a serving dish. Sprinkle with the cheese. Drizzle a little olive oil and Balsamic vinegar reduction over the salad and top with a pinch of salt and a couple grinds of fresh black pepper.


Saturday, July 1, 2017

Olive Tapenade

This spread, often used as an hors d'œuvre and spread on bread or crackers, is a provincial recipe of the region surrounding Europe's Mediterranean sea. This area, which grows many olives, make use of them in many ways, but perhaps the most popular is tapenade. The classic tapenade includes various types of olives, capers, olive oil, garlic and sometimes anchovies.

Julian's Olive Tapenade
The word tapenade comes from the French, but it's equally popular in Spain and Italy. Sometimes Americans refer to this as muffuletta, because they've had it on Sicilian bread called muffuletta which became popular with Italian immigrants in New Orleans, Louisiana who spread the bread with tapenade. But the true name is olive tapenade not muffuletta.

I purchase pitted olives of several varieties and I do all of my chopping in the food processor, which makes it quick and easy. My sister does the chopping by hand, which insures the ingredients are not processed into a paste. We both prefer a small, fine chop to a puree but in Europe you find it both ways. If using the food processor like I do, make sure to just do one ingredient at a time and quickly 'pulse' so as not to puree the olives.

My Sister Hand Chopping Olives
Make a large batch if you are expecting guests to drop in during the week. It's popular and they can eat a good bit, piling each cracker or small bread piece with a teaspoon or more of tapenade. I find a large bowl like the above will hold in my refrigerator for about a week.

I have no specific recipe to provide you but my most common ingredient list looks like the below. Once all of the solids are chopped I just mix together some olive oil and vinegar and toss with the mixture. Add salt if necessary after tasting.

Ingredients
Black Olives
Green Olives with/without pimentos
Kalamata Olives
Castelvetrano Sicilian Green Olives
Garlic (2-3 cloves only)
Red pepper (small or half)
Capers (optional)

Olive Oil
Red Wine Vinegar

Instructions
Chop all of the ingredients one by one into a very fine small chop (but not puree). Stir gently together. Mix together 3 parts olive oil to one part wine vinegar and toss. Only a light dressing is required. Add more dressing and salt if necessary after tasting. Refrigerate and let flavors combine for several hours before serving on crackers or small pieces of bread. Makes an excellent spread on toasted panini sandwiches.



Saturday, June 24, 2017

Pineapple Orange Layer Cake

With warm weather upon us, I thought I'd share this cake which I make when I'm at our island home, CalypsoBlu. It's cool and refreshing, easy and fast to make and always popular.

Julian's Pineapple Orange Layer Cake
It uses a boxed cake make as its base and includes a pre-made whipped topping. It's not my usual 'all from scratch' recipe, but when there are many things to do outside you don't want to spend all day baking in the kitchen.

Ingredients
1 box yellow cake mix 
      plus ingredients the mix requires (usually oil and eggs)
1 can mandarin oranges 11 ounces, drained
1 can unsweetened crushed pineapple 20 ounces, drained
1 package dry instant vanilla pudding mix 3.4 ounces
12 ounces Cool Whip or stabilized whipped cream

Instructions
Prepare cake batter according to the directions on the box. 

Reserve 3-4 slices of the oranges for garnish. Add the remaining drained oranges and beat into the prepared cake mix until small chunks remain. Pour into two 9-inch round baking pans that have been sprayed with food release or oil (Pam).

Bake at 350F degrees for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes and then turn them out onto wire racks to cool completely. 


In a bowl, stir together the drained pineapple and dry vanilla pudding mix. Fold in the Cool Whip and combine thoroughly to prepare a frosting.

Place the first cake on a serving plate. Spread some of the frosting on the top of one layer. Place the other layer of cake on top of that. Spread the remaining frosting on the top of the cake. Garnish with reserved oranges.   Refrigerate uncovered at least 2 hours before serving.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Clams Casino

Clams casino is a clam on the half shell with breadcrumbs and bacon. The dish is popular with Italian-Americans, and when I was growing up it appeared regularly on the menus of every trattoria near and far.

Julian's Clams Casino ready for garnishing.
According to Good Housekeeping Great American Classics, the recipe for clams casino was originally developed in 1917 at the Little Casino in Narragansett, Rhode Island, by maître d'hôtel Julius Keller for Mrs. Paran Stevens who requested something special for her guests.  During this period in American history if a restaurant wanted to be noted, it came up with a dish that involved the baking of shellfish, and many did. However clams casino and oysters Rockefeller are among the few surviving dishes from this trend.

I've got my small clams on an escargot plate to hold them steady.
Preparing the Clams:  Before you try making this dish, watch a few of the online videos and read this step-by-step instruction on how to properly clean and shuck your clams. I do mine from the back the same as the guy in the video link I provided, but both methods work. It takes a little practice. Also consider how you will bake and serve the clams. As the bottoms of the shells are rounded, they don't sit easily and you don't want them to tip. Above I'm using an escargot plate. Anything with an indention will do, even a bed of salt (for cooking and serving) or seaweed (for serving only).

Clams Casino

The recipe makes 12 clam servings. If you are using them as an appetizer, than two-three per person is likely sufficient. 

Ingredients
Clams ready for fillings with clam juice preserved. 

4 slices bacon
12 large clams

1/4 cup minced shallot or onion
1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried parsley
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons butter

1/4 teaspoon paprika
Chopped parsley for garnish

In a small skillet, cook bacon until crisp over medium heat. Crumble, and set aside. Reserve bacon drippings in the skillet.

Wash and open the clams (as noted above) being sure to cut them loose from the shell after you have it open, but leaving each in the bottom half of the shell. Take care to preserve as much of the liquid inside the clam shells as you open them. Discard the top shell.

Preheat oven to 450F degrees.

Warm the reserved bacon drippings in the skillet, and place pan over medium heat. Add onion and pepper and saute until tender, 3-4 minutes. Add the bread crumbs and stir until golden brown, another 2-3 minutes. Remove to a separate dish. Stir in the oregano, parsley and cheese. Toss in the crumble bacon and combine. Set aside.

Wipe out the skillet. Melt the butter over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and saute 1 minute.

Spoon the butter/garlic mixture into the clams. Spoon the bread crumb mixture on top of each buttered clam. Sprinkle with paprika.

Place the clams on a cookie sheet or in any type of oven save dish that will hold them steady making sure they will not rock and spill the ingredients. Bake for 7 minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Fresh Blueberry Lemon Cake

With fresh blueberries now in abundance and knowing they always pair well with lemon, I set off to find a cake that utilized both summer-fresh ingredients.

Julian's Blueberry Lemon Cake
The original recipe came from the NatashasKitchen.com website which is heavily filled with advertising which makes pages hard to load and read. In any case, the recipe turned out well, although I added the two sauces. (Recipes at the bottom of this page.)

Her recipe calls for a 9-inch spring form pan and as I only have a 10-inch version, I used that. The 9-inch pan would give you a better result. My baking time was also reduced to 40 from the 50 minutes she reported.

Ingredients
2 large eggs
1 cup (210 grams) granulated sugar
1 cup (8 oz) sour cream
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 medium lemon (zest and juice), separated
1/2 tablespoon corn starch
16 ounces (450g) fresh blueberries
Powdered sugar to dust the top, optional

Instructions
Lightly butter or spray with food release a 9-inch spring form pan and line the bottom with parchment. Preheat Oven to 375F degrees.

In a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat 2 eggs and 1 cup sugar on high speed 5 minutes, or until light in color and thick. Add sour cream, oil,  vanilla, salt and mix on low speed until well combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour with baking powder. Add 1/3 of the batter to the egg/sugar mixture and on low speed, mix until combined. Add the remaining flour 1/3 at a time, mixing to incorporate with each addition. Finally, add 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and all of the lemon zest and mix on low until combined.

Rinse blueberries and drain well. In a medium bowl, toss blueberries with the corn starch and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Toss to combine until there is no dry white cornstarch showing on the berries.

Pour half of batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Top with half of the blueberries. Spread with remaining batter then sprinkle the rest of the blueberries evenly over the top, pushing them slightly into the batter (about halfway).

Bake at 375˚F for 40 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Check at 40 minutes and test regularly. Do not over-bake.

Let cake rest in the pan 15-20 minutes then remove ring and cool until room temp or just warm. Carefully lift the cake off the pan base and peel off the parchment. Place the cake on your serving plate.  When ready to serve, dust with powdered sugar. Do not dust in advance.

Optional Sauces

LEMON CURD
4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put egg yolks into a medium heatproof bowl; set aside.  Whisk together lemon zest, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan. Add 1 1/2 cups water and the lemon juice; whisk until sugar and cornstarch have dissolved. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly. Cook 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low; gradually whisk one-third of the lemon mixture into the reserved egg yolks. Pour mixture into pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 2 1/2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Pour into a bowl; place plastic wrap directly on surface. Keep at room temperature if using the same day to maintain the sauce consistency. Refrigerate for longer storage. Thin with some additional warm water if needed before serving.

BLUEBERRY SAUCE
1 pound fresh blueberries, wash and stemmed
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Place the berries into a sauce pan.  Add the sugar, lemon juice and corn starch. Stir to combine. Cook over  medium-low heat until the berries soften, stirring regularly until they make a sauce. Let cook down to desired consistency. The longer you cook, the thicker they will become.  Keep at room temperature if using the same day to maintain the sauce consistency. Refrigerate for longer storage. Thin with some additional warm water if needed before serving.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Beef Brisket - Slow Cooker Method

Most people only enjoy beef brisket when it is served as corned beef around St. Patrick's day, but this meat has a nice flavor on its own and can easily be prepared in a slow cooker. In fact, a slow long cooking is required to make the meat tender and to bring out its very beefy flavor.

Julian's Trimmed Beef Brisket
I got my brisket at Costco and like all things there you get a large piece. To fit it into the Crockpot I cut it in half. The recipe also calls for chili sauce and here any variety you prefer will do. I've used the classic Heinz Chili Sauce (not very hot) to the quite spicy Sriracha. I would say I prefer the less spicy in this recipe.
SrirachaIngredients
1 (3-4 pound) beef brisket, trimmed of fat
salt and pepper
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
 1 can beer (12 ounces more or less)
 1 bottle tomato-based chili sauce
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
Instructions
Preheat the slow cooker on the high setting. Trim excess fat from the brisket and cut it in half if necessary so it fits in your slow cooker. In a hot skillet with a little vegetable oil, brown on both sides.

Season the brisket on both sides with salt and pepper, and place in the slow cooker. Cover with a layer of sliced onions. In a medium bowl, mix together the beer, chili sauce, and brown sugar. Pour over the beef making sure both layers get coated. Close the lid.

Cook for 3-4 hours until tender. Remove the crockpot lid and let cook another 30=45 minutes to reduce the liquid. Remove to a cutting board and tent with foil. Let the brisket rest and cool slightly before slicing.

You may return the sliced meat to the slow cooker to coat in the sauce or plate the meat and spoon the sauce over. 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Grilled Stuffed Lobster

Today I'm grilling lobster and this one happens to be of the warm-water Caribbean variety. That's because I'm staying at our St. Thomas villa where these lobsters are large and plentiful.

Julian with Grilled Stuffed Caribbean Lobster
I had previously discussed stuffed lobster and the various varieties and I'd given you the recipe from a great local restaurant in St. Thomas. But today I'm making these on the grill and stuffing them too, so I wanted to share a bit more on this topic.

Stuffed and Ready to Eat
Now whether you get cold water (Maine) lobster or warmer water (spiny Florida or Caribbean) lobster, they are all dispatched and cooked in the same manner. The primary difference between the cold and warm water varieties is the lack of pincer claws in the warm water lobster. It is for this reason you'll want to select larger specimens if you go with spiny lobster, as the only real meat is in the tail.

Boiling and steaming lobster is perhaps the most popular method. That's because it is killed and cooked all in one step, by placing into the already hot pot. However if you are going to stuff, grill or bake lobster, you need to send them on to that great ocean in the sky (kill them) first. To do this it is best to put them in a cold, dark place and let them sit quietly for a while. Warm water lobster in a cooler with some chunks of ice will do the trick if left for about an hour. For a cold water lobster you'll need an even colder environment (more ice in your cooler or your freezer) for at least 15-20 minutes. The cold and darkness rather put them into a deep sleep and make it easier to handle them.

One Quick Cut and It's Done
Wearing a heavy glove, one at a time move the lobster to a cutting board. With a sharp tipped chef's knife, place the point just behind the head. On a cold water lobster there is a small hinge in the shell at this point. On a spiny warm water lobster, there is usually a small dot on the shell. With the blade facing toward the front of the lobster, plunge the point directly down through the shell and quickly push it forward cutting the lobster's head in half. The lobster is now dead. Turn the knife the other direction, insert into the same spot and cut the lobster tail end in half.

Then cut the other end in half.
Spiny lobster have a harder shell with spikes and you'll need some muscle to cut it in half. Heavy gloves are a must as the shell is after all 'spiny'. I sometimes use kitchen sheers especially for cutting the underside of the tail which is more of a thin but tough membrane.

One you have the lobster cut in half wash out the insides removing the internal organs and creating a place for your stuffing. Prepare any additional lobster one at a time.

While the grill is heating, prepare the stuffing below. Note it uses left-over rice of any variety. I usually have some white or yellow Spanish rush in the refrigerator. You can of course make fresh and include it after it is cooled.

Ingredients
1/2 green or red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 stocks of celery, finely chopped
3 green onions, all of the white and a little of the green, finely chopped
             (or substitute 1/3 of a yellow onion)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
Tabasco hot pepper sauce, to taste, 3-6 dashes
1 egg
1 cup cooked rice (any type)
3/4 cup of lump crab meat

4 tablespoons melted butter for basting
Paprika for color

Combine all of the above ingredients except for the rice and crab. Stir in the rice and gently fold in the lump crab trying not to shred it completely. The mixture may seem a bit dry, but the lobster shells will provide more moisture while it grilling/baking, so do not be concerned. Stuff the lobster body cavity, brush the lobster tail meat with butter and give it a light dusting of paprika.

Basting with Butter before Grilling

Place on a pre-heated grill (about 400F degrees) meat/stuffing side up and close the lid. Grill for 15-20 minutes until the lobster tail is cooked through. The lobster is done when the meat is opaque and feels firm when pushed with your finger or the temperature reaches 145F degrees at the center of the tail when measured with an instead read thermometer.



Saturday, May 20, 2017

Bacon Brown Sugar Pork Tenderloin

This is any easy and fast weeknight dinner. Pork tenderloin can be both delicious and tricky. It is small and lean and if over-cooked can be dry and chewy. In this recipe the tenderloin is protected by a wrapping of bacon, which also adds fat to keep it moist and flavorful.

Julian's Bacon Brown Sugar Pork Tenderloin
I purchase an individual fresh tenderloin at my local grocer. If you get yours in those vacuum packs that are nearly as big around as your wrist, understand it is two pieces of tenderloin inside, which is twice what I'm using the recipe below. If you plan to make the two of them, double the recipe.

I'm using the popular Major Grey's Chutney in this recipe, which you can find at most grocery stores. However, you can substitute another chutney or jam of your choice. I've used peach preserves with success in the past.

Ingredients
S
erves 4
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 1/2 pounds)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked or regular paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 to 6 slices bacon
1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
1/4 cup Chutney (Major Grey's preferred)
2 tablespoons whole grain or Dijon mustard

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the silverskin (the silvery-white connective tissue running along the top) from the pork tenderloin with a sharp knife, if the butcher has not already done so. Pat the tenderloin dry with paper towels.

Lay the bacon strips parallel across a cutting board spread about the same as the length of your tenderloin. Place the tenderloin on the bacon.

Combine the brown sugar, salt, paprika, and cayenne in a small bowl. Rub all of the mixture into the pork tenderloin turning it as necessary to coat all sides. Wrap the tenderloin with the strips of bacon, securing along the sides with toothpicks.

Ready for Browning
Heat the canola oil in a large cast iron skillet, or other oven-proof skillet, over medium-high heat until sizzling. Add the bacon-wrapped tenderloin and sear — do not disturb it while it's searing — until deep caramel brown, about 6 to 8 minutes. Flip the tenderloin and continue searing until the other side is browned.

Mix the chutney and mustard in a small bowl and brush generously over the top of the tenderloin.

Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook the tenderloin until a thermometer reads 140°F, approximately 10 to 14 minutes.

Remove from the oven and loosely tent with foil. Rest for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the tenderloin to finish cooking and for the juices to redistribute into the meat. Remove toothpicks and slice into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces for serving. Serve with any leftover chutney on the side.

Sliced and Ready for Serving



Saturday, May 13, 2017

Whole Wheat Caramel Pecan Cake

This is an old recipe and you may remember your grandmother serving you something like it. I take liberties with the recipe and usually make it when I have ingredients I'm trying to use up. You probably have all of these in your pantry today.

Julian's Whole Wheat Caramel Pecan Cake
I often find I have extra bits of nuts and coconut on hand from other recipes. Here you can use more or less of either of these. I used more here and the topping is more solid. The recipe below will give you a more moist sticky topping, which I actually prefer to the version pictured here. The original recipe card indicated the cake was baked in a 7 x 11 inch pan, which I do not have and have not seen. I make this in an 8 inch square baking pan.

Here it is made with more coconut and nuts than in
the recipe below as I had them on hand.

Whole Wheat Caramel Pecan Cake

Ingredients
Cake
1 1/4 cups water
3/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats
 1/4 cup butter, diced
 1 egg, lightly beaten
 3/4 cup brown sugar
 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
 1/2 cup all purpose flour
 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
 1 teaspoon cinnamon
 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
 pinch of salt

Sauce
 1/4 cup butter
 3/4 cup brown sugar
 1/4 cup half and half or whole milk
 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
 1/2 cup chopped pecans
 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

Heat the oven to 350F degrees. Lightly spray an 8 inch square baking pan with food release (Pam). Set aside.

In a small saucepan add the water and butter and bring to a low boil. Add the oats and ook for 5 minutes over low heat stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat.

In a mixing bowl add the egg and the 3/4 cup brown sugar. Stir to combine. Spoon the oat mixture into the mixing bowl with the egg mixture and stir to combine. Fold in the flours, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

Spoon the cake batter into the prepared baking dish. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven, turning the broiler on.

While the cake is baking, make the sauce.

In a medium saucepan melt the remaining 1/4 cup butter. Stir in the brown sugar and half and half and stir until combined. Remove from the heat and stir in the coconut flakes, pecans and vanilla extract. Spoon the sauce over the warm cake.

Return to the frosted cake to the oven and broil for an additional 3 minutes or until the sauce starts to bubble and the topping is lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool completely in the pan.
Serve warm or at room temperature.


Saturday, May 6, 2017

Crockpot Chicken Tacos - Super Simple Dinner

Making a taco bar is simple, especially when you can prepare the meat in advance. I'm busy with other things today and so I'm making this in my slow cooker (Crockpot). It's pretty much a set it and forget it type recipe. This is also a great recipe for hot chicken sandwiches.

Julian's Chicken Taco Meat
The chicken can cook 4-5 hours and be ready when you want to serve dinner. It will hold longer as necessary. Then just prepare the other taco ingredients such as shredded lettuce, cheese, chopped tomatoes, sour cream and any other favorites and let the family build tacos themselves using warmed tortillas to hold the ingredients.

Julian's Chicken Taco Bar
I'm using the Hidden Valley Ranch dry mix in this recipe. You can get this in one ounce packets or a bigger container as I am showing below.

Crockpot Chicken Tacos

Ingredients
2-3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 ounce taco seasoning mix (1 packet)
1 ounce dry ranch mix (1 packet)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 cup chicken broth

Instructions
Place the dried mixes into the slow cooker along with the optional pepper.  Add broth and whisk until combined.  Add chicken breasts and turn in the liquid mixture.

Cook on low setting for 4 hours or a bit longer depending on amount and thickness of chicken breasts.  When chicken starts to fall apart when pulled with a fork, it is ready for shredding. Using two forks, shred the chicken right in crock pot and stir to combine with the liquid. Continue cooking for another 30 minutes. If the chicken has too much liquid, cook without the lid. If the chicken is of the correct consistency after shredding, continue cooking with the lid in place.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Pork Tenderloin with Coffee Spiced Rub and Red Cabbage Slaw

Pork tenderloin is sometimes challenging to purchase and harder to prepare. For such a tender piece of meat you would think it would be easier.

Julian's Pork Tenderloin with Coffee Spiced Rub
on a bed of Red Cabbage Wild Rice Slaw
First, you often find packages of what in the store appears to be a single, pre-marinated, vacuum packed very large pork tenderloin. When you open the package you find you have two pork tenderloins that were packed together. I'm not sure why they package them this way, other than they appear more like a pork loin roast. The meat is often not as tender and it is sometimes rubbery from the marination inside the package. For this recipe, I recommend you get a single, fresh pork tenderloin from the butcher's meat case, not vacuum packed. This will be more fresh and tender.

Pork tenderloin with the coffee rub.
Second, when preparing pork tenderloin it can be challenging to get it cooked to the right temperature throughout. A tenderloin is by nature thicker at one then than the other. It is also quite small and overcooks easily. It is for this reason I prefer the sous vide technique which I'm using here today. This isn't required, as you can roast it in the oven, but you must use a good thermometer to make sure it is done correctly.

I found this recipe in the Sous Vide at Home cookbook by Lisa Fetterman. Highly recommended if you are doing sous vide style cooking.

Pork Tenderloin with Coffee Spiced Rub
Sous Vide Technique

(serves 2-3 adults)
Ingredients
1 teaspoon course salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground coffee, preferably fresh
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin
  not more than 2 inches in diameter
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil

Instructions
Preheat the sous vide water to 60C or 140F degrees for a medium pink doneness.

In a small bowl stir together the first set of ingredients (from salt to cayenne pepper) to make a rub. Rub the dry mixure onto the pork coating it evenly. Drizzle with the oil spreading it all over the tenderloin. Place the pork in a gallon sized zip locked bag and remove the air. When the water reaches the set temperature, lower the bag into the bottom of the water and cook for 1 hour. While the pork is cooking make the slaw below.

When the pork is ready remove the bag from the water bath and transfer it to a tray. Discard any cooking liquid and the bag. Gently pat the tenderloin dry with a paper towel. Heat a heavy skillet (cast iron preferred) over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the pork and sear on all sides about minute per side until well browned, about 4-5 minutes in all.

Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 3-4 minutes before carving. Place the warm pieces of cut pork tenderloin on top of a bed of the slaw below.

Red Cabbage Slaw

Ingredients
1/2 small head red cabbage, shredded
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground caraway or dill
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped dried cranberries
salt and fresh pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 package Seeds of Change Brown & Red Rice
    or 1 cup cooked wild rice

Instructions
Heat the rice according to package directions or until it is warmed through. In a large bowl, add the shredded cabbage and toss with the lemon juice, caraway/dill, shallot, cranberries and salt/pepper. Let sit for 5-10 minutes tossing occasionally. Add the oil and the rice and toss to combine.  Plate with pork tenderloin on top.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Lemon Meringue Pie - Meringue Topping Tips

A bright, slightly tart lemon meringue pie is as refreshing as can be after dinner. They never feel heavy or too rich, and are not overly sweet. The combination of sweet and tart simply makes this a perfect pie choice all year long.

Julian's Lemon Meringue Pie
Lemon meringue was my mother's favorite pie and she made them regularly. This however, is not her recipe as I don't think she actually had one written down. She used a cast iron skillet and said it was essential for her recipe. I however just use a standard pot and it comes out great. My recipe is based on that of Cooks Illustrated, but I have made several small changes over time.

Here are my key meringue tips:

  • Make meringue toppings on dry, low-humidity days, or in the house when the air-conditioning is removing humidity. Humidity causes the meringue to weep (small droplets of moisture form on the top and under the meringue), as does refrigeration. 
  • Undissolved sugar in the egg whites can also cause weeping. Don't add the sugar before a coarse foam appears, and then add it very slowly to insure it dissolves. To make sure the sugar gets dissolved, mix the egg whites and sugar at a low speed until the mixture feels perfectly smooth with no graininess when you rub a little between your thumb and finger. Using superfine sugar is preferable to regular table sugar, as it dissolves more quickly.  
  • Use the corn-starch mixture in the recipe below in your meringue, as it also traps moisture and reduces weeping. The cream of tartar reduces shrinkage.
  • Don't over bake your meringue. Finish browning with a blow torch or under the broiler if needed for extra browning. Over baking causes the egg whites to shrink and squeeze out small droplets of moisture called weeping. Always make sure to check on your pie at the minimum baking time. 
  • Keep the pie filling warm and covered with plastic on the surface as you prepare the meringue. When meringue is ready, pour the still hot filling into the pre-baked crust and spread. The heat from the filling will help set the meringue and the steam will pass up through the meringue, rather than being trapped underneath, making it less likely to weep.
  • Make sure to seal the meringue completely to the edge of the pie first, before filling the center of the pie. It must be sealed to the crust edge to prevent shrinking.  
  • Allow to cool on a rack or trivet for 3-4 hours before serving. Do not refrigerate before serving. Pie should be served the same day as baked.

Julian's Meringue Topped Lemon Pie

Lemon Meringue Pie


Ingredients

 Lemon Custard:

1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups water
6 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
2 tablespoons butter, cut into 2 pieces

Meringue:

1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup (3½ oz) granulated (superfine) sugar

Pie crust:

1 recipe single-crust pie dough, fully baked and cooled

Instructions

Pre-bake the pie crust per the instructions on that recipe.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 325°F. Zest the lemons and then finely chop the zest. Cover and set aside.

Divide eggs, noting that you will need six yolks and four whites. Use another small bowl for the extra two whites.

For the Lemon Custard:

In a heavy medium-sized pan, mix together the sugar and cornstarch and salt. Whisk in water and bring to a simmer, whisking constantly. When mixture starts to turn translucent, whisk vigorously while adding in two egg yolks at a time. Whisk in lemon zest, juice and butter. Return mixture to simmer, whisking constantly, then remove from heat. Lay sheet of plastic wrap directly on surface of filling to keep warm and prevent skin from forming.

For the Meringue:

In a small pan, add the tablespoon of cornstarch, then whisk in 1/3 cup water. Bring to a bare simmer in small saucepan and cook, whisking until it just becomes thickened and translucent looking, 1 to 2 minutes at most. Remove from heat and let cool slightly while you prepare the egg whites or trasnfer to a small bowl to stop the cooking process. The mixture should remain of a glue-like consistently that you can easy spoon into the egg whites.

Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites and vanilla at medium low-speed until foamy and very frothy. Mix together the cream of tarter and sugar, turn the speed up to medium high and add very slowly pouring about a tablespoon at a time until all incorporated. Test between your fingers to ensure it is not grainy. The mixture should now form soft peaks. Continue to whip and add the cornstarch mixture, about a tablespoon at a time. Continue to beat until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 2-4 minutes longer on high speed.

Assemble:

If filling is no longer hot, during the last minutes of beating the egg whites, remove plastic and return to very low heat for just a moment or two to warm. I rarely find this necessary.

Pour warm filling into cooled pre-baked pie crust. Working quickly, use a large spatula to place the meringue around the edge of the pie crust, while slowly turning the pie. Seal the meringue to the edge all around before filling the center. Fill the center and spread the meringue to cover the top. Using the back of spoon, create attractive swirls and peaks in meringue. Bake until meringue is light golden brown, about 15 minutes and finish with a blow torch or quickly under a pre-heated broiler if necessary for extra browning.

Cool to room temperature on a rack for 3 hours before serving. Do not refrigerate.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Pie Pastry- The Right Technique for the Best Pie Crust

Pie is among my favorite desserts. A fresh berry pie in spring, fruit in the summer/fall and the cream varieties throughout the winter always hit the spot. Pie also seems to impress in ways that cakes do not. But as my mother used to say, making great pie pastry is something that comes best from experience, which means making pies regularly. She baked pie every week, and didn't have a food processor, yet her crusts were perfection!

Julian's Apple Pie with Lattice Pastry
This recipe is for pie dough, pie crust or pie pastry... all the names used for pie making. Don't confuse it with classic tart doughs, often just called 'pastry dough'. When people say pastry dough, they are likely talking about what the French call pâte sucrée and pâte sablée. While these are similar to a finished pie crust (what the French call (pâte brisée), pastry dough contains more sugar and incorporates eggs into the recipe. The mixing method and addition of egg to the batter makes this dough more forgiving than pie crust dough. When making pie crust dough, there is a delicate balance of fat, moisture and mixing method that must be followed in order to achieve optimal results, which is more time consuming than a pastry dough.

Like much in baking, practice and sticking to a strict recipe is required for pie crust success. After you make the pie pastry several times you get a feel for exactly the right consistency. You know when it's got just the right amount of water. And you know not to over-handle it. Pie fillings are relatively simple and have some wiggle room in making. Pie crust does not. You want a flaky, light crust and that doesn't happen by accident.

A good option if you don't make pies regularly.
You can purchase a perfectly good pie dough at the store. If you don't plan to make pies regularly, this may be your best choice.

Below I provide you with my preferred pie crust recipe and technique, which is largely that of the good chefs at Cook's Illustrated. It contains the 'secret ingredient'; vodka. This is not my mother's recipe. There’s a whole science to pie crust and the secret to making a good one lies in achieving the right ratio of flour, liquid and fat. Of course blending water and flour creates gluten, which toughens the dough. So, accordingly to Cook's Illustrated, using a hard liquor such as vodka--since 80 proof vodka is only 60% water, combines the dough but doesn’t contribute as much to gluten formation while leaving no unwanted flavor. It seems to work.

Choose The Type of Crust:  Determine the type of crust you want based on the filling of the pie. Flaky crusts are best for fruit pies. For cream or custard pies, a more dense crust is best (it won’t get moist as the pie sits). Flaky crusts are made by leaving larger pieces of fat in the crust – the size of macadamia nuts or smaller. These large pieces of fat begin to evaporate moisture when the pie goes into the oven, creating steam which forms pockets in the crust making it flaky.  More dense crusts are made by mixing the fat into smaller pieces -- the size of peas or smaller.

Butter vs. Shortening: The texture and flavor of your pie crust depends on the fat you use. Using butter (some or all) in your crust provides the most flavorful crust. However, butter melts easily when handling and makes your crust a bit more tough than if you use just shortening. In my go-to recipe below, I use a combination of vegetable shortening and butter. Most store bought crusts and likely those your mother made in the 50's or 60's use only vegetable shortening, as it provides the ultimate flaky almost cracker like crust. However, if you mother was from the 'old country', she knew that lard (fat from the abdomen of a pig that is rendered and clarified) makes an incredible pastry crust. It chills nicely and doesn’t break down under heat as quickly as butter and makes for a relatively flaky crust, more flavorful than vegetable shortening, but still not as good as butter.

Julian's Cherry Pie with Full Top Crust
Let me also give you a couple tips on baking the pie, which are just as important.

Baking Tips: Place your prepared crusts (homemade or store bought) in a glass Pyrex pie plate. Ceramic pie plates, lovely as they may be, do not give you the best results. Pre-heat your oven with a baking steel, ceramic pizza stone or cookie sheet on the bottom shelf. This is where you will bake your pie. The heat of the surface will help to brown and cook your crust so it comes out flaky on the bottom; not moist and gummy.  If you need to finish the pie in the broiler, move it up to the top shelf when you are ready for browning the top. Also, don't over-handle the dough. Your warm hands will melt the pockets of fat, which will take away from the flakiness. Refrigerate frequently if necessary to keep the dough cool. In the recipe below you'll note everything is marked as 'cold'. This does not mean room temperature. It means, refrigerated thoroughly before use.

Pie Pastry

Ingredients 

2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup cold vodka
1/4 cup cold water

In your food processor, pulse 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until dough just starts to collect in clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble large cottage cheese curds and there should be no un-coated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl. (Note if making crust for a cream or custard pie, process dough for 30 seconds to reduce the size of the clumps to not more than pea sized.)

Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Do not use your warm hands. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days. You can not rush this step. The dough must rest and chill, the longer the better up to 2 days.

When ready to make your pie, remove from refrigerator and generously sprinkle a work area with flour (I work directly on the cold marble counter top) and roll the dough out into discs. Roll from center to edges to make a 9-inch disk, rotating a quarter turn after each stroke, sprinkling additional flour underneath and on top as necessary to stop from sticking. Work quickly. Flip dough over and continue to roll, but not rotate, to form a 13-inch disk just under 1/8-inch thick. Fold into quarters, place the dough point in the center of your Pyrex pie plate and unfold to cover the entire plate or roll it onto your rolling pin and transfer to pie plate and unroll. 

To fit the dough, lift the edge of the dough with one (cool) hand and press dough into pan bottom with the other (cool) hand. Repeat around circumference until dough is fitted but not stretched. Trim excess overhanging dough about 1/2-inch past the lip of the pie plate.

For fruit and berry pies, which are baked with a filled, raw crust, tuck 1/2-inch of overhanging dough under so folded edge is flush with the edge of the pie plate.  Make a decorative edge by pinching together to make a ruffled edge.

For cream and custard pies, tuck 1/2-inch of overhanging dough under so folded edge is flush with the edge of the pie plate and use a flour coated fork pressing down along the rim to make a decorative edge. The fork edge helps stop it from sliding down during baking.

Refrigerate pie crust in the pie pan until firm, about another 30 minutes.

For double crust pies, unroll the second crust over the filling.  Moisten the bottom outside edge of the crust and pinch together the edges of the two crusts, folding any excess top crust under the edge of the bottom crust (to seal in the filling).  Make a decorative boarder by pinching it together with your fingers.

For pre-baking pie shells for cream/custard pies, prick the bottom and sides of the dough with a floured fork to allow steam to escape. Place parchment paper into the pricked raw crust and fill with ceramic pie weights or dry beans. This will help to insure the crust does not slide down the sides while baking. Pre-bake at 425F for 10 minutes, remove the weights and parchment and finish browning for 2-3 minutes more.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Eggs Benedict - Sous Vide Technique

Today I made the classic Eggs Benedict but not using the classic technique. I thought I'd try using the sous vide device and they came out great.  I would suggest just using the recipe on the Joule website, as it worked perfectly. We only eat one egg per person, as they are pretty rich. But of course that's up to you and your guests. Most restaurants serve them as a pair of two eggs.

Julian's Eggs Benedict - Sous Vide Technique
I broke the yolk open in the photo above so you can see that it was indeed the proper consistency.


I didn't follow the instructions and just put the eggs right into the container without a bag. It worked fine but I'll go back to using a plain zippered storage bag in the future. Easier to remove.



I had some leftover ham, so I just fried that up in butter. Then I quickly pan fried the English muffins and placed both in a 200F oven to stay warm.


The hollandaise sauce was also cooked in a bag in the sous vide right along with the eggs. Even though it doesn't look right when you are done cooking it, it does become perfectly creamy and clings to a spoon when processed. 


Above I'm starting to assemble the breakfast. Only thing left is a bit of sauce spooned over the top. 

If you fear making Eggs Benedict for a group, this recipe and technique will ensure you can do it for a brunch for 8 as easy as you can for an intimate breakfast for 2. And you won't spend your entire morning in the kitchen or worried about poaching those eggs.