Archive for the 'Food' CategoryPage 3 of 12

Pears Poached in Red Wine w/ New Caledonian Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise

I was able to kill 2 birds w/ one stone… I’ve been wanting to try a new dessert recipe and at the same time try out some unusual vanilla beans that I received as a Christmas gift. I had a few friends over for dinner recently, so for dessert we had poached pears w/ a creme anglaise made w/ some of these unique vanilla beans. It was a great combination and a delicious finish to a fun evening! Next I will have to try another dish using the vanilla beans from Reunion Island. Stay tuned…

*Pears Poached in Red Wine w/ New Caledonian Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise

*pear recipe adapted from one developed by Beatrice Peltre


Ingredients (for the pears):

6 Bosc pears

1 cup sugar

4 cloves

2 star anise

1 cinnamon stick

1 bottle dry red wine

1/2 lime

water

Procedure:

1) In a large bowl, combine the water and lime juice. Peel the pears, keeping the stems intact. Cut a small slice from the base of each pear so the fruits sit without toppling. Drop each one into the water; set aside.

 2) In a saucepan large enough to hold all the pears, combine the wine, sugar, anise, vanilla, clove, and cinnamon. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.

3) Add the pears and additional water to cover the pears. To keep the pears submerged in the poaching liquid, cut a circle of parchment paper the size of the saucepan and set it on the surface of the liquid. Place a small plate on top of the paper so it presses the pears into the liquid.

4) Simmer the pears for 25 minutes or until they are tender when pierced with a skewer. They may need 5 to 10 minutes longer if they were not ripe.

5) Remove the saucepan from the heat. Leave the fruit to cool completely in the poaching liquid.

6) Transfer the pears and their liquid to a large container. Refrigerate for at least several hours and as long as 3 days (the longer they steep in the liquid the darker and fuller flavored they will get).

Ingredients (for the creme anglaise):

4 New Caledonian vanilla beans (mine were small but for normal size beans use less)

1/2 cup sugar

3 egg yolks

1 pint half & half

Procedure:

1) In a metal bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until mixture becomes smooth and pale yellow.

2) Place half & half in a heavy pot and heat until scalded.

3) Very slowly whisk half & half into egg/sugar mixture so as not to curdle the mixture.

4) Place bowl w/ mixture over a pot of simmering water, stirring continuously w/ a heat resistant spatula until mixture coats the back of a metal spoon (do not let mixture exceed 170 degrees F to prevent curdling), then quickly place bowl in an ice bath to stop the cooking process and promote rapid cooling.

5) Put the creme in a covered container and refrigerate until ready to serve.

 Yield: 6 servings

 

This was a delicious and light dessert. I hope you enjoy it. We sure did!

Bruno

Christmas Dinner 2012

Here are a few photos from Christmas dinner at a friend’s house. The lighting was low so the color and sharpness aren’t very good (except the salad photo which was taken in the kitchen), but at least you can see what we feasted on. There was butternut squash soup,  Boursin potato gratin, roasted veggies, a salad w/ candied walnuts, pears and gorganzola cheese, pecan pie and chocolate truffles! I brought the boneless leg of lamb stuffed w/ crimini mushrooms, fresh chestnuts, garlic, rosemary, thyme and apricots soaked in Calvados. I also made a merlot sauce w/ porcini mushrooms. Everything was delicious and the evening was a lot of fun!!

** click on photos to enlarge

Hoping your 2013 is filled w/ peace, joy, health and happiness!

Happy cooking…

Bruno

Cranberry Gelato w/ Roasted Hazelnuts

Thinking of bringing something to your friends’ holiday party but not sure what? Well, here’s a treat that is sure to satisfy everyone’s  sweet tooth and is fairly easy to whip up. The color is kind of Christmasy too! I made this gelato for Thanksgiving, but I’m sure your friends wouldn’t frown upon you if you showed up at their holiday meal w/ this in hand…


Cranberry Gelato w/ Roasted Hazelnuts

Ingredients: (for cranberry sauce)

12 ounces fresh cranberries

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup water

1 tablespoon lime juice

Procedure: (for cranberry sauce)

1) Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil; maintain at a slow boil for 5 minutes

2) Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 15 minutes until sauce thickens

3) Remove from heat and let cool for 20 minutes; refrigerate overnight

Ingredients: (for gelato)

1/2 cup sugar

6 egg yolks

1 quart half  & half

1/3 cup roasted hazelnuts (roughly chopped)

1 1/2 cups cranberry sauce

Procedure: (for gelato)

1) In a metal bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until mixture becomes smooth and pale yellow

2) Place half & half in a heavy pot and heat until scalded

3) Very slowly whisk half & half into egg/sugar mixture so as not to curdle the mixture

4) Place bowl w/ mixture over a pot of simmering water, stirring continuously w/ a heat resistant spatula until mixture coats the back of a metal spoon (do not let mixture exceed 170 degrees F to prevent curdling), then quickly place bowl in an ice bath to stop the cooking process and promote rapid cooling

5) In a food processor, blend together cranberry sauce and gelato mixture,  then chill in fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight

6) Churn mixture in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions, adding the hazelnuts  when mixture starts to freeze

7) Pour gelato into a 2 quart plastic container, stir to evenly distribute hazelnuts, then place a piece of parchment paper cut to size on the surface of gelato (this will reduce air exposure and prevent ice crystals from forming on the surface of the gelato), seal container and freeze until firm

Yield: Approx. 1 1/2 quarts

Happy Holidays!

Bruno

 

Anguilla – The Cuisinart Resort

The weekend before Thanksgiving I had the opportunity to spend a couple of days in Anguilla while our plane had some fixes done. We stayed at the Cuisinart Resort – yes the same Cuisinart that makes the kitchen products. This property is very unique in that it has a huge hydroponic farm (18,000 square feet) on site to supply most of the vegetables and herbs for the resort’s restaurants. This place was a food lover’s dream! We sampled some of the good eats at the restaurants and I got to take a peek at the hydroponic farm courtesy of the farm’s creator and manager, Howard Resh, Ph. D. . For more information on hydroponic farming click the following link to visit Dr. Resh’s website: http://www.howardresh.com/

Here are a few photos of this beautiful and food-centric resort and the hydroponic farm: (click images to enlarge)

 Tuna four ways: sashimi, grilled, tempura and tartare

 Steak tartare

 Chocolate souffle

 From my room

 Beach

 The farm

 Lettuce pond

 Under the lettuce

 Herbs

 Dr. Resh

 Cherry tomatoes

 Red bell pepper

 Yellow bell pepper

Orange bell pepper

 English cucumbers

 Seedlings

 Microgreens

 Under the microgreens

 Baby lettuce

 Planting a crop

 More herbs

 Bok choy

 Eggplant

 Basil

 Cherry tomatoes

 Lettuces

 Beefsteak tomatoes

I wish I had a garden like this in my backyard… maybe next year!

Bruno

 

Sourdough Wheat Baguettes

If you’re not sure what to bring to your friend’s house for Thanksgiving, here’s an idea. Not as time consuming as some baguette recipes and the results are delicious. If you’re not careful you may eat them all up before you head out to your Thanksgiving feast!!

 

Sourdough Wheat Baguettes  (recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour)

Ingredients:

5/8 cup lukewarm water

1 cup sourdough starter

1 cup wheat flour

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 tablespoon dry active yeast

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

Procedure:

1) In a large mixing bowl, stir everything together to make a rough dough. Then start to knead (using a stand mixer, or your hands), adding only enough additional flour as necessary; a slack (sticky) dough makes a light loaf.

The dough will probably stick to the sides of the bowl (or your work surface) at first; scrape it off the sides, and continue kneading for about 7 minutes in a stand mixer; or 8 to 10 minutes by hand.

2) Turn the dough into an oiled bowl, cover the bowl and let the dough rise until doubled in bulk, about 90 minutes.

3) Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into three equal pieces, then shape each piece into a 14 inch long loaf.  Here’s how:

Working with one piece of dough at a time, shape it into a rough log. Fold it lengthwise, and use the heel of your hand to press the edges together. Fold it lengthwise again, and again press the edges together; you’ll notice that during this folding process, the dough has naturally lengthened.

Turn the log over so the seam side is down, and gently roll it into a 14 inch long loaf.

4) Place the loaves onto the back of a baking pan lined w/ parchment paper dusted w/ corn meal and dust loaves w/ flour before covering. Cover them gently w/ plastic wrap, and let them rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until they’re nice and puffy. (I used a couche under the parchment paper to give my baguettes support during the second rise)

5) Towards the end of the rising time, preheat your oven and pizza stone to 450°F.

6) When the loaves are ready for baking remove the plastic wrap and make three diagonal slashes in each loaf, cutting about 1/4 inch deep w/ a serrated knife.  Carefully slide the loaves w/ the parchment paper onto the pizza stone. Bake the baguettes for about 25 minutes, or until they’re a rich golden brown.

7) Remove the loaves from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Let cool completely before slicing. (To get the exterior crunchy again at your friend’s house, place in a 325 degree F oven for 4 or 5 minutes)

 

Eat well, drink well and be thankful for all the goodness in your life!

Bruno

 

Presto, Pesto!

Pesto in a jiffy! My basil rebounded well after the hellish summer temperatures we had here in St. Louis. So happy to have a nice batch of pesto for the fall and winter months. The pistachios in this recipe add an additional layer of flavor and complexity to traditional pesto. Try it and see for yourself!

Basil Pesto (recipe adapted from Simply Recipes)

Ingredients:

6 cups fresh basil (packed)

1 1/2 cups Parmigiano-Reggiano (freshly grated)

1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup pistachios

9 medium sized garlic cloves

salt + pepper to taste

Procedure:

1) Combine the basil in with the pine nuts and pistachios; pulse a few times in a food processor.   

2) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more. 

3) Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on.  Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. 

4) Add the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and pulse again until blended. 

5) Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Yield: Approximately two 16 oz. jars

Go Green!

Bruno

Tomato, Swiss Chard and Onion Panade

My contribution to a friend’s Bastille Day party (we celebrated late). Everyone brought some type of French dish – we had mussels Provencal, coq au vin, gratin of potatoes, the panade, and for dessert, chocolate mousse and a rustic peach tart. You can make the panade a day ahead and refrigerate, then pull out of the fridge an hour before baking to take the chill off… or you can bake it the same day you make it. This dish has great layers of flavors, and to me reflects not only southern French cooking but also the delicious bounty of summertime! I wish I could say all the veggies that went into the panade came from my garden, but I can say that some of the chard did as well as all of the basil and thyme, and that’s better than nothing!!

Here’s the recipe:

Tomato, Swiss Chard and Onion Panade (adapted from Food & Wine)

Ingredients:

8 garlic cloves - minced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

4 1/2 pounds Swiss chard – stemmed and sliced 1 1/2 inches wide

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 large onions -thinly sliced

1 cup dry white wine

3 cups low sodium vegetable broth

1  one pound loaf of good quality crusty rustic bread  (a day old) – sliced 1/4 inch thick

5 pounds beefsteak tomatoes – sliced 1/4  inch thick

9 ounces Gruyere cheese – shredded

basil – fresh

salt and freshly ground pepper

Procedure:

1) In a large pot of boiling water, cook chard for 2 minutes then drain. When cool enough to handle, squeeze out the excess water.

2) In the same pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and thyme and cook over moderately low heat until softened (about 12 minutes). Add the garlic, chard and white wine and simmer over moderately high heat until the wine is reduced to 1/4 cup (about 5 minutes). Season w/ salt and pepper.

3) Butter a 14 inch diameter x 3 inch deep baking dish.

4) Line the bottom of the dish w/ some bread slices, top w/ some of the slices of tomato and basil leaves then season w/ salt and pepper. Spread half of the chard/onion mixture on top and sprinkle w/ 1/3 of the cheese. Repeat the layering once again. Finish w/ a layer of the tomatoes and sprinkle w/ remaining cheese.

5) Carefully pour the vegetable broth into the casserole and press w/ a large spatula.

6) Cover the dish w/ foil and place in the refrigerator overnight.

7) One hour before baking, remove the casserole from the refrigerator.

8) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

9) Loosen the foil on the casserole and bake in the upper third of the oven for 45-50 minutes, then remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes until the cheese is slightly browned. Remove the casserole from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Yield: 8 to 12 servings

 

I think Julia Child would have enjoyed this French dish to celebrate her 100th birthday. I hope her and my mom cook this together in heaven someday. I think they would have enjoyed each other’s company and love of French cooking.

Bon Appetit!

Bruno

P.S. – With this newer version of WordPress you can once again click on the photos to enlarge the image.

Cherry Gelato w/ Dark Chocolate and Roasted Hazelnuts

 

‘Tis the season… for gelato!! Especially since it’s blazing hot here in port St. Louis. We’ve had ten days of temperatures over 100 degrees F in June/July and the forecast is calling for temperatures over 100 degrees in the upcoming week! I would say it’s time to dust off the ice cream maker and start making freezing cold desserts!! 

One of my favorite fruits is sweet black cherries. They’re now in season and in their honor here’s a tasty gelato recipe. Gelato is also a super delicious treat when the sweltering heat has you craving something cool. Your friends and family will love you that much more when you share this scrumptious seasonal dessert w/ them! 

My taste testers enjoyed this flavor, however next time I make it I’ll make some minor changes. Depending on which ingredient hit your tongue first (i.e., cherry, hazelnut or chocolate), that was the initial predominate taste.  In order for the cherries to be the dominate flavor, I will reduce the amount of chocolate to 2 1/2 ounces, and the hazelnuts to 1/3 cup.

Here’s the original recipe:

Cherry Gelato w/ Dark Chocolate and Roasted Hazelnuts

Ingredients:

1 pound black cherries (pitted)

6 egg yolks

3 1/2 ounces dark chocolate (roughly chopped)

1/2 cup roasted hazelnuts (roughly chopped)

3/4 cup sugar

1 quart half & half

Procedure:

1) In a metal bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until mixture becomes smooth and pale yellow

2) Place half & half in a heavy pot and heat until scalded

3) Very slowly whisk half & half into egg/sugar mixture so as not to curdle the mixture

4) Place bowl w/ mixture over a pot of simmering water, stirring continuously w/ a heat resistant spatula until mixture coats the back of a metal spoon (do not let mixture exceed 170 degrees F to prevent curdling), then quickly place bowl in an ice bath to stop the cooking process and promote rapid cooling

5) Cut cherries in half, place in a food processor and puree; stir puree into the gelato mixture, blending well, and chill in fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight

6) Churn mixture in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions, adding the hazelnuts and chocolate when mixture starts to freeze

7) Pour gelato into a 2 quart plastic container, stir to evenly distribute hazelnuts and chocolate, then place a piece of parchment paper cut to size on the surface of gelato (this will reduce air exposure and prevent ice crystals from forming on the surface of the gelato), seal container and freeze until firm

Yield: Approx. 1 1/2 quarts

 

Celebrating summer… just wish it wasn’t so damn hot here!

Bruno

Leg of Lamb Stuffed w/ Morel Mushrooms, Acorn Squash, Garlic and Rosemary

I recently had a few friends over for a birthday celebration. On the menu was stuffed leg of lamb; Swiss chard and leek gratin; rigatoni pasta w/ pureed acorn squash, roasted pistachios, parmesan and brown butter; and last but not least a delicious strawberry shortcake. Many wines were savored w/ the meal as well as a cognac w/ the dessert. The weather was beautiful, and the company was a lot of fun which made the meal even more of a pleasure!!

lamb dinner3

Leg of lamb stuffed w/ morels, acorn squash, garlic and rosemary

lamb dinner1

lamb dinner2

Swiss chard and leek gratin

lamb dinner4

The showcase wine of the evening

lamb dinner6

Strawberry shortcake

Thanks to Bob for photographing the evening while I cooked, and to Mary for bringing dessert so I didn’t have to provide one!

Here’s to being born… here’s to life!!

Bruno

Bursting Bread Conundrum Solved!

conundrum solved3

conundrum solved4

In a previous post dated Feb. 5th, 2012, I lamented about having a problem w/ my bread bursting at the slash point. Well, the problem has been solved!

The bread in the photos above was made when the ambient temperature in my kitchen was 72 degrees F.

I think it may have been that during the colder months I didn’t proof the bread long enough before popping it in the oven. I did some research and it points to underproofing because in the warmer months I don’t have this problem. Someone suggested it was possibly due to the way I was shaping my loaves, however I shape the bread the same in both cold and warm months so I think not letting the dough proof long enough during the colder months is the culprit. It makes sense because dough takes longer to ferment and proof in lower temperatures and my kitchen was around 64 degrees F when I was baking during the winter.

Celebrating beautiful (and crack free) bread!!

Bruno