Saturday, February 15, 2020

You Should Make These Blueberry Muffins.

 I've posted these muffins before
and I'll probably post them again.
That's because they're that good.
These are the best blueberry muffins I've ever had.
If you have a better recipe, though I sincerely doubt it,
please send it to me.
These muffins have a light cake-like interior
with a brown sugar, buttery, cinnamony streusel topping.
And they're chock full of blueberries.

 Blueberry Muffins
 2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 pint fresh blueberries, stemmed, rinsed, and dried
Crumb Topping
4 TB unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
2 tsp cinnamon
zest of one lemon
With a fork or pastry blender,
combine all ingredients until crumbly.
I  used lemon zest since lemons and blueberries
seem to be made for each other,
but you could use orange zest
or a combination thereof.
Either one.
I like the citrus spark.
For the muffins:
Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
Add vanilla.
Add flour mixture alternatively with buttermilk,
starting and ending with dry ingredients
beating until well-combined.
Fold in blueberries.
Line a 12-cup muffin tin with liners
and fill each evenly with batter.
Top with crumb mixture.
Bake in a 375° oven for about 30 minutes,
or until tester comes out clean.
Remove from pan and let cool about 30 minutes.

Rosie Note:  Whenever I add fruit, like blueberries, to a mix,
I toss the fruit with a little flour first - just a tablespoon or two.
It helps to keep the berries suspended in the batter
and not sink to the bottom.

Another Rosie Note:  If you want to play around with the recipe
and use another fruit, go right ahead.
Strawberry muffins come to mind.
Also, if you wanted to throw some nuts in the mix,
I would not be averse.
Say, about a cup of chopped pecans.
Lightly floured to keep them from sinking.

Nice cake texture inside.


Monday, February 10, 2020

Whole Lotta Lava Lovin' Goin' On.

In case you're one of those Valentine-inclined people,
or if you just like chocolate desserts,
I've got a good one for you -  molten chocolate lava cake.

These little individual cakes, for purity of taste and simplicity of execution, are a perfect dessert for any meal.  You have lovely cake on the outside and when you slice into it, you find an irresistible river of flowing, liquid, dark chocolate.

The lava cakes have been on restaurant menus since the late 80s, when, as the story goes, famed French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten made a mistake.  He was baking 500 individual cakes using his mother’s recipe for chocolate sponge cake and failed to adjust time and temperature for that many cakes in his professional ovens.  Sacré bleu! The cakes were underbaked.  When diners cut into the cakes, a luscious cascade of chocolate flowed out.  Serendipitously, the molten chocolate lava cake was born.

Besides being decadently delicious, these cakes can be on your table, from start to finish, within an hour, and they’re basically foolproof to make – if you underbake them, they come out just right; if, by chance, you overbake them, you still get a wonderfully moist chocolate cake, minus the molten interior which you can always fake with some adroitly applied chocolate syrup.  All you need for accompaniment is ice cream or whipped cream, perhaps some fruit, and a little chocolate ganache to make a capital D in Decadence.  

Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes
Makes 2.

½ stick unsalted butter
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 TB sugar
1 TB flour
Pinch kosher salt
2 6-oz. ramekins
Butter and cocoa

Heat oven to 450°.
Butter and cocoa your ramekins, shaking out any excess, and set on a baking sheet.  Here’s my Rosie Tip for you:  instead of buttering and flouring a pan for chocolate cake, use cocoa powder instead of flour.  You get more flavor and no white streaks.

Melt butter and chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water.  Whisk mixture until smooth.

In a medium bowl, beat egg, yolk, sugar, and salt at high speed until thickened and light-colored.

Quickly, fold chocolate mixture and flour into egg mixture, until just mixed. 

Spoon batter evenly into the two prepared ramekins and bake 11-12 minutes, until sides are firm.

Remove from oven and let sit for a minute, then cover with dessert plate and carefully invert.  Let stand for a few seconds to unmold.  Serve immediately, with ice cream or whipped cream and strawberries and/or raspberries.  If desired, pour a little chocolate ganache over top. 

 Chocolate ganache is a versatile chocolate concoction of simply chocolate and cream which can be used for truffles, icings, glazes, and syrups.  Whether you want it thick for frosting or thin for pouring depends on the proportion of chocolate to cream.   For a pourable consistency, I use one part chocolate to two parts cream, by weight.

For chocolate ganache:
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
8 oz. cream
Heat cream and then pour over chocolate.  You don’t have to boil or even simmer the cream.  It just needs to be hot enough to melt the chocolate.  Let chocolate melt, then whisk until smooth.  While still warm, pour ganache over ice cream and cake.

Now, for the step-by-steps:
1/2 stick unsalted butter and  3 oz. chocolate
1 whole egg and 1 yolk
2 TB sugar, 1 TB flour, and pinch salt

Put butter and chocolate in a double boiler
and melt, over medium low heat.

Prepare the ramekins.
Butter and cocoa, knocking out excess.

Check back with melting butter and chocolate and...
... whisk until smooth.

Whisk egg and yolk until slightly thickened and light-colored.

Whisk in sugar.

Keep whisking.
For about a minute or two.

Whisk melted chocolate and butter until well combined,
then stir in flour.

Gently pour chocolate mixture into frothy egg mixture.

And fold.
Until combined.

Pour mixture into prepared ramekins.
Bake at 450° for about 11 minutes.

Prepare the ganache.

Heat cream until hot.
Then add chocolate bits.
In case there are any sticklers out there,
I know my directions said to pour over chocolate bits,
but it really doesn't make any difference
and my bowl with the cream was bigger than the bowl with the chocolate,
so the chocolate got added to the cream.
Let melt.
Stir until smooth.
Keep stirring until nice and smooth and chocolatey.

Remove ramekins from oven and let sit for a minute or so,
then invert onto serving dish.

Add some sliced strawberries and/or raspberries.
Give it a plop of ice cream.
Then drizzle on the ganache.

Ahhh....  the moment of truth.
The lava flow.

Oh my...
I don't think one can have "too much" chocolate.


Saturday, February 1, 2020

Rosie Skewers Shrimp.

I always have shrimp on hand and I'm always looking for different ways to prepare shrimp.
The Hawthornes loved this preparation.
The shrimp are skewered along with peppers, onion, and pineapple, seared in a pan, and finished with a teriyaki-type glaze.  Ideally, these shrimp would be cooked on a grill, but it's in the 40s and blowing outside, so I'm going with my stove top and a skillet.  
If you do decide to grill them, here's a Rosie Tip:  To keep the shrimp from spinning around on the skewers and not cooking evenly, use two skewers for each kabob, so the shrimp and vegetables will lie flat.

I served these skewers on a bed of Jasmine rice with some black beans thrown in for good measure and some toasted sesame seeds and cilantro sprinkled on top.  We had none leftover.

First, I made my Teriyaki Glaze:
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 TB honey
1-2 TB pressed garlic
1-2 TB squished fresh ginger (pulp and juice)
Combine all ingredients in small sauce.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to low and barely simmer until sauce and reduced and thickened a bit.  About 10 minutes.

For ginger, I always have 1-inch chunks of frozen ginger on hand.  I peel the ginger, then nuke it for about 22 seconds.  Run through a garlic press to get the juice and pulp.  It's much easier to get ginger juice from nuked frozen ginger than it is from fresh.

Next, I assembled my skewers, using what was available.
Fresh pineapple chunks
Green bell pepper (If you have green, orange, and yellow peppers, along with the green, even better!)
Large shrimp

I heated my skillet over medium-high and added in a tablespoon or so of oil - enough to film the pan.
Lay the skewers in the hot oil and cook about a minute on each side.

Pour the glaze over the skewers, cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for another minute.
Remove skewers and serve.

Lay the skewers on a bed of black beans and rice.
Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and chopped cilantro.


Thursday, January 23, 2020

Rosie Makes Shrimp Puppies.

 I'm taking the classic dish of shrimp and grits 
in a different direction and to another level -
I'm making shrimp puppies.
That's old-fashioned hushpuppies with a twist -
the twist being shrimp and grits.
And I'm serving these puppies 
with a good ol' rémoulade sauce.

Here's how:
First, let's prepare the shrimp.
Peel and de-tract 8 ounces of shrimp. 
Yes.  I say de-tract, not de-vein.
That's not a vein running down the back.
It's the digestive tract.
Toss the shrimp with 2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium-high
and throw in the shrimp.

Sauté until nearly cooked through.

Turn shrimp out onto a plate and let cool.

Now, prepare the puppy fixin's.
Top left:
Whisk together:
1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup grits
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1/2 tsp granulated garlic

Top right:
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1/4 cup minced onion
1/4 cup minced bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Pour buttermilk mixture into dry ingredients,
stirring until just combined.

Stir in shrimp.
Cover and chill batter for 15 minutes.
Form batter into small balls -
about 1 1/2 - 2 TB each.
Fry in batches, a few balls at a time, in 350° oil
until golden brown.
About 4-5 minutes.
Be sure to let oil come back up to temperature
before proceeding with next batch.
Drain on paper towels.
Serve with rémoulade.

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 TB minced sweet bell pepper
2 TB sliced scallions
2 TB chopped parsley
1 TB coarse grained mustard
1 TB lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 TB sweet relish
kosher salt and black pepper, to taste 
Combine all ingredients and sprinkle
cayenne pepper over top.
Cover and refrigerate until serving.