Monday, April 13, 2015

Light Stunt: Broccoli with Beef

Light Stunt: Broccoli with Beef




It came as a surprise to me recently that when I was in the produce section at the supermarket with my daughter when she pointed and exclaimed, Broccoli! I like that stuff! When I inquired, she told me that her school cafeteria serves it frequently so I promised to prepare more dishes with broccoli.

Over the last several months, I've gotten to know the staff at the local supermarket so I had them slice a couple of sirloin steaks so that they would be suitable for a stir fry and the prep for the garlic, ginger and broccoli took less than 20 minutes which makes for a great weeknight dish.

The Challenge

Measure my daughter's taste for broccoli.

The Source

The only place where I deviated from my source was in the garnish (I added sesame seeds) so I'll refer you to epicurious.com for the recipe.

Successful?

As I'm finishing my dinner, I look over to my daughter's plate to see most of the beef gone, but only half of the broccoli eaten. She eventually finished the beef but left about one-third of the broccoli which is more than I expected, however I'm now on a new quest to find a broccoli dish that she will completely eat. You can bet I'll be consulting The Flavor Bible.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Strawberry Balsamic Cheesecake

Strawberry Balsamic Cheesecake




It's highly unusual that I'd publish two sweet dishes in a row and no, there's nothing wrong with me. I'll be back to my savory self probably in my next post. This dessert happened simply because some friends from California were visiting this past weekend so we met at a mutual friends' home (the three of us knew each other from college) just north of Seattle for dinner where I was asked to bring a dessert and decided upon a cheesecake.

I was a little surprised when I did a google search for strawberry cheesecake because I found a lot of plain cheesecakes with a strawberry topping. I found only two that put strawberry purée into the cake batter and chose the one that used fresh strawberries. In addition, I knew pairing strawberries and balsamic was pretty common in Italy and I have some experience with the affinity myself last summer when I made a strawberry balsamic ice cream so a made a few additions.

The Challenge

Uphold the reputation I built for myself as a food blogger.

The Source

I adapted this Martha Stewart recipe

Ingredients

1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled plus 1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced thin lengthwise
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
4 to 5 whole sheets graham crackers
3 tablespoons plus 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
Cooking spray (or an additional 1 tablespoon butter if not available)
4 8-ounce bricks cream cheese at room temperature
1 pinch salt
2 large eggs at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces mascarpone cheese at room temperature
Boiling water

Method

1. Prepare the strawberry purée. Preheat the oven to 300º Fahrenheit. Combine the hulled strawberries with the corn syrup in a small bowl, then place on a aluminum foil-lined sheet pan in a single layer and roast them in the oven until they are a deep red, the syrup thickens and the berries shrink slightly, approximately 90 minutes.


Empty the strawberries and any fluids into a blender to purée. While the blender is running, add the balsamic vinegar. Set aside to cool completely while the crust is prepared.


2. Prepare the cake crust. Increase the oven temperature to 350º Fahrenheit, then spray a 9-inch springform pan on the bottom and sides with cooking spray (or apply approximately 1 tablespoon butter, if substituting). Line the bottom and sides of the pan with parchment paper, then wrap the bottom of the pan in a double layer of aluminum foil. Grind the graham crackers in a food processor with 3 tablespoons sugar. Slowly pour in the melted butter until a paste is formed. Transfer the paste to the springform pan in an even layer so that the entire bottom is covered in crumbs. Bake the crust in the oven until it is firm and has slightly darkened, approximately 10 minutes. Set aside on a wire rack to cool while you prepare the cake batter.


3. Prepare the cake batter and bake the cake. Decrease the oven temperature to 325º Fahrenheit. Place the cream cheese bricks into a mixing bowl and mix with an electric mixer, using a paddle attachment until creamy, then scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix in the sugar and salt, eggs (one at a time), vanilla and mascarpone until creamy and there are no lumps, scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl after each addition. Stir in the reserved strawberry purée until the batter becomes uniformly pink in color. Empty the cake batter into the springform pan on top of the crust in an even layer, using a baking spatula to ensure the cake is flat on top. Place the springform pan in a large roasting pan and pour enough boiling water in the roasting pan so that the water level reaches halfway up the side of springform pan. Bake in the oven until set, approximately 60 to 70 minutes. Remove from the water bath, then place the springform pan on a wire rack to cool before covering with aluminum foil and refrigerating it overnight.


4. Garnish the cake. One to two hours before serving, place the strawberry slices in concentric circles, starting at the outer edge of the cake, then so that the slices overlap slightly with each inner circle, then recover and refrigerate until ready to serve.


Successful?

I wasn't as happy with the consistency as I would have liked because the batter was too soggy but the flavors were definitely well balanced because the sweet strawberries balanced by the tart vinegar. One of my friends who was there had even asked for the recipe.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Mint Ice Cream Sandwich Featuring The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen Bake Shop Signature Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mint Ice Cream Sandwich Featuring The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen Bake Shop Signature Chocolate Chip Cookies




A couple of months ago, Mrs. Stuntman came home from the supermarket with some ice cream sandwiches. At first, I couldn't understand the purchase. Why eat frozen food in the dead of winter? I might have even mocked her, suggesting that she could even store them outside overnight as it was colder there than in the freezer. Alas, a couple of nights later, I found myself reaching for one as I was watching television. As I was eating it, I was reminded of my favorite ice cream sandwich, It's-It. For the uninitiated, it's ice cream sandwiched between two oatmeal cookies, then dipped in chocolate. As I was eating the dessert, I thought to myself, I could do this better. Taking inspiration from the It's-It, I really liked the idea of using cookies in the dish instead of a chocolate wafer found in many store bought varieties which made me think of my friend Susan of The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen.

You might remember Susan from last summer when she prepared a Peach Slab Pie for my Adding Some Class with... series. If you'll remember, I noted at the time that she had successfully funded a Kickstarter campaign to open a bake shop. Well, I'm happy to announce (if you were unaware previously) that the bake shop is now open for business! The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen Bake Shop features Susan's Signature Chocolate Chip Cookies, Triple Choc-o-lot Cookies, Peanut Butter Cookies, Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich Cookies, in addition to a Cookie Sampler Package that contains 4 each: Original Chocolate Chip, Triple Choc-olot Cookies and Peanut Butter Cookies plus a Cookie of the Month Club where she highlights cookies with seasonal flavors. Each order arrives in a beautiful gift box that contains cellophane pouches with two cookies in each pouch (or single-packed in the case of her Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich Cookies).


After making my own purchase of Susan's cookies, I can highly recommend you do the same. In my case, I used Susan's Signature Chocolate Chip Cookies in this dish. If you have been reading this website for any length of time, you know I'm not a fan of taking short cuts, so you might be asking yourself why are you taking a short cut here? I would reply with is this a short cut? Had I baked my own, I would have used the same quality of ingredients Susan uses and prepared them with the same care which is a huge contrast to the mechanically prepared confections found at the supermarket. The mint flavored ice cream was made to appease my daughter because it's one of her favorite flavors in addition to it's visual appeal.

The Challenge

Successfully complement cookies from The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen Bake Shop.

The Source

I adapted David Lebovitz's Mint Chip Ice Cream recipe.

Ingredients

1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 pinch salt
2 cups packed fresh mint leaves
5 large egg yolks
1 to 2 drops green food coloring (optional)
1 dozen The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen Signature Chocolate Chip Cookies

Method

1. Combine the milk, sugar, remaining heavy cream, salt and mint leaves in a small saucepan and scald over medium-low heat. Once hot, shut off the heat, cover and let the mixture sit for 60 minutes to allow the mint leaves to steep and let the flavors infuse. After the hour has elapsed, strain out the mint leaves, and discard but not before pressing down on them against the strainer with a spatula to extract as much flavor as they can muster.


2. Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl and set aside. Rewarm the mint-infused milk, then slowly whisk in a small portion into the bowl with the egg yolks to warm the yolks. Combine the warmed yolks back into the infused milk and cook over medium-low to medium heat until the mixture reaches 170º Fahrenheit, stirring constantly until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Strain the infused milk and eggs into a bowl with the remaining 1 cup heavy cream and green food coloring (if using), then let it cool. Cover, then refrigerate overnight. Churn it in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.



3. To serve, place one cookie on a plate, flat side up then top with a scoop of ice cream, then a second cookie, pressing down on the second cookie so the ice cream fills it's circumference.

Successful?

The mint flavor was a little strong but it still complemented the cookies well. Once again, I highly recommend you to patronize Susan's bake shop, but if you're unable to do so, please 'Like' her facebook page, add her on G+, follow her on twitter, Instagram and pinterest.