Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Glazed Carrots

I never realized how much of a backlog of recipes/photos I have to post until now. At the beginning of my course at the French Culinary Institute we began with learning how to cook vegetables, and that was sometime around November...

Glazing (or cooking "glacer a blanc" as the French would call it in this instance) is a simple technique that can be applied to a variety of vegetables. In class we would of course tournee, or turn, them first, but who really wants to do that when they don't have too? (Although the result does look quite nice.) I opted for baby carrots instead.

Place the vegetables in a skillet and fill with water 1/2 - 2/3 up the sides of the carrots. Add a tablespoon or two of butter, a few sprinkles of sugar, and some salt and pepper. (Very exact measurements - I know.) Cover partially with a lid and turn on the flame so that the water simmers. The goal is to have the carrots fully cooked by the time the water evaporates, so you may need to add additional water or remove the lid to speed up or slow down the cooking process. Once cooked and the water has evaporated, a syrup should begin to form in the pan from the sugar that you added in the beginning. Toss the vegetables in the pan to give them a nice glaze and you're ready to go! Alternatively, you can keep the pan on the fire longer so that the sugar caramelizes further (glacer a blonde or glacer a brun), but don't let it burn!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Challah Bread Pudding with Amaretto Brown Sugar Caramel Sauce

I don't make many desserts, but even this gift from the gods will tempt the Sultan of Savoryville's sweet tooth. I never had bread pudding until maybe a couple of years ago when I was introduced to it by one of my roommates/culinarily-inclined friends from college.  He raved about the dessert from this restaurant called Harvest not too far from campus, so of course I had to get it the first time I went there. It was love at first bite. Thanks to a little help from Paula Deen*** I am able to present this wonderful creation to you.

Bread Pudding:
  • 3 thick slices of challah bread (or enough to fill up an 8 inch cake pan)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp amaretto (you can probably substitute either almond or vanilla extract)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • a few dashes of nutmeg
  • butter/crisco/cooking spray (to grease your pan)
  • brown sugar (optional)
Cube the bread and place into a greased baking pan. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, milk, amaretto, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour over the bread and let soak for ten minutes. Make sure that the bread is submerged in the custard so that it soaks up all of the goodness. You can then sprinkle the top with brown sugar if desired. If you plan on making the caramel sauce then I don't think that you need the extra sugar, but then again you only live once... Bake for 30 minutes in a 375 degree oven.

Caramel Sauce:
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup amaretto
Put all of the ingredients in a sauce pan and cook on the stove for about five minutes or so until the sugar dissolves and the sauce thickens slightly. Drizzle over the top of the bread pudding once it's done baking and eat away all of life's problems.

***I believe that Paula's recipe called for more sugar in the custard, but I reduced it since the challah bread already has a pretty good amount of sweetness.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Perfect Post-Work Supper

Grilled Lamb with Sauteed Lima Beans

I don't know about you, but sometimes there is nothing more that I want to do when I get home than have a nice meal and enjoy a good drink after a long day at the office. Often times I'm too tired to exert much effort on such days, but here's an easy solution.

I coated the lamb chops with olive oil and sprinkled with garlic salt, celery seeds, rosemary, and pepper. Then I tossed it on my cast iron grill pan and cooked it for a few minutes on each side. To prepare the beans I dumped the box of frozen lima beans into a pan with enough water to cover them in addition to a tablespoon or so (depending on your arteries) of butter and some salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. I left it on the fire until the water evaporated and then added some additional butter to saute the beans a little bit (a nifty little tip I received from my friend Josh). Be sure to check and adjust the seasonings if needed. I paired it with a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand that was quite tasty.

...and yes, I think I did finish that bottle of wine. I first tried it with dinner at a restaurant near union square and it had to have cost $30+ for the bottle, but of course when I went to my local wine store it was closer to $10! Alcohol is definitely where the money is in the restaurant business. I wonder how much the wine store paid for it...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mashed Butternut Squash and Parmesan Chicken Tenders

The butternut squash saga continues...

The next day I decided to remove the skin from the gourd, mash it up, add some butter and brown sugar (that wouldn't just fall onto the pan this time) and baked it in the oven for 15-20 minutes (mostly to warm it through). Of course I forget the exact quantities, temperatures, cooking times and everything else, but my main/only objective was to add a little extra sweetness and warm everything through. May the force be with you.

For the chicken, I cut boneless skinless chicken breasts into strips before seasoning with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Next, dredge in a combination of breadcrumbs (I used whole wheat) and grated parmesan cheese (thank you Kraft) and fry in a neutral oil until GBD**.

**GBD = Golden, brown and delicious (kind of like me). I was introduced to this acronym by my beloved culinary school partner, Andreas, and must give credit where credit is due.