Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

It's A Hawthorne Thanksgiving. Comin' Up!

 Rosie is preparing for Thanksgiving.
  First, I made a game plan.
Items 1-10 are definites.
 And then, I have options...

I made a spreadsheet for Thanksgiving.
I so suck.
But I'm right on target. 
On shedyule!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Rosie Has Her Eyes On The Pies. Thanksgiving Pies.

If I had to pick a favorite holiday, it would be Thanksgiving, and for 2 simple reasons:
the food and the fact that no gift-giving is involved.  Family, tradition, gratitude, celebration ... yeahyeahyeah-it's all good, but give me the food.  I'm happiest in the kitchen anyway, so I consider Thanksgiving as MY holiday. 

Today I'll be sharing two pie recipes you might consider for your Thanksgiving table - a pumpkin pie and a pecan pie.

I've included one of my favorite pie dough recipes, but if you don't want to make your own pie dough, I recommend the refrigerated roll-up doughs that come two to a box, not the frozen pie doughs in the tins, which are smaller and tend to crack.

Pie Crust
Makes 3 pies.
4 cups flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 TB sugar
1 ½ cups chilled Crisco, cubed
1 egg
1 TB white distilled vinegar
½ cup cold water
Stir flour, salt, and sugar to combine. Cut in Crisco with a pastry blender or by hand until you have coarse crumbs.
Add in egg, vinegar, and water and quickly form into a dough.
Flatten into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

My usual mantra is, “fresh is best,” but in the case of pumpkin pie, I’ll go with canned pumpkin purée any day. It’s consistent. Making homemade pumpkin purée isn’t worth the effort. You must cut, clean, seed, and roast the pumpkin, then you purée it, cook it down, and you must strain it to remove stringy fibers. Even then, you won’t get a texture as smooth as canned. When you buy canned pumpkin, be sure to buy 100 percent puréed pumpkin, not “pumpkin pie filling,” which has already been spiced.

As for your spices, fresh is best here. Use freshly grated nutmeg and ginger root to put in bright flavors and take this pie over the top.
I have found that the cooking and stirring of the pie ingredients on the stove top produces bolder, more assertive flavors and that the blending of the ingredients results in a smoother, less grainy custard. 

  Pumpkin Pie
1 9-inch pie crust
1 15-ounce can pumpkin purée
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
¾ tsp cinnamon
1 ½ tsp grated fresh ginger
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp kosher salt
3 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
Heat oven to 375°.
Arrange the pie dough in a 9-inch pan. Crimp the edges. Place a sheet of parchment paper inside the pie crust. Fill it with dry beans. Bake for 15 minutes. Set aside to cool. Reduce oven temperature to 350°.
While the crust bakes, mix the purée, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt in a small saucepan.
Cook over medium low heat, stirring often, for 8 minutes.
Transfer pumpkin mixture to blender and purée about 15 seconds.
Add the eggs and yolk, one at a time, processing after each addition.
With the processor or blender running, slowly pour in the cream and mix well.
Discard the beans and parchment from the crust and pour in the filling.
Bake about 1 hour, covering the edges if necessary to prevent over-browning, until center is set.
Cool completely on a rack before cutting.

For the leaves, cut dough out with a leaf cutter, place on baking sheet, sprinkle turbinado sugar over top, and bake until golden brown.
Cool leaves on a rack, then arrange on top of pie.
Serve pumpkin pie with a dollop of whipped cream.

I don’t remember where this recipe for Pecan Pie came from, but it’s been in my dessert binder for 40 years. It’s that good.

Pecan Pie
1 9-inch unbaked pie crust
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3 eggs, beaten
⅓ cup unsalted butter, melted
½ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 big heaping cup of pecan halves
Heat oven to 350°.
Combine corn syrup, sugar, eggs, butter, salt, and vanilla. Mix well.
Pour into unbaked pie crust and sprinkle with pecan halves or be very OC and individually place each pecan half just riiiiight.
Bake about 1 hour 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
Tent after the first 30 minutes so the edges and pecans don’t brown too much.
I like to serve this warm with a scoop of ice cream.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Enjoy the bounty and take time to count your blessings.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Rosie Makes Roasted Armadillo.

Did I get your attention?

 Well, I thought it looked armadillo-ish.
This unique potato preparation
is known as the Hasselback potato.
It's the namesake dish of the
 Hasselbacken Hotel restaurant
in Stockholm, Sweden.
The potato is sliced partially through
and as the potato bakes, it fans out,
leaving you all sorts of crisp potato slices throughout.

 Slice the bottom off the potato so it sits without rolling.
Put two chopsticks alongside the potato lengthwise
and make thin slices horizontally across the potato,
stopping at the chopsticks so you don't cut all the way through.
Rinse the potato under cold water,
gently flexing the fans open.
This is supposed to rid the potato of excess starch
which can impede fanning while baking.

 I set my sliced potato in a small baking dish,
brushed the slices with unsalted melted butter,
and kosher salted and freshly ground peppered it.
Bake in a 425° oven 35-40 minutes.
Brush more butter over potato.
Mix 2 TB Parmesan cheese and 1 TB panko breadcrumbs.
Sprinkle over top of potato
and bake another 15 or so minutes,
until lightly browned.

Roasted armadillo.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Rosie Makes Oyster Soup..

You know how the Hawthornes love their oysters.
We're just starting on our first bushel,
so be ready for lots of oyster preparations coming your way.

A cold front is moving through,
the wind is gusting,
it's starting to rain,
and we're under a tornado alert.
It's the perfect time to make oyster stew.

I'm writing down the recipe
as I make it up.
Rosie's mind can be a scary place at times.
Be forewarned.
I wrote down lettuce when I meant celery.
In my defense, I do know the difference,
but both words have a "c" in them,
so you can easily see how I could make that mistake.

Let me straighten this up a bit for you.

Oyster Soup

1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 potato, diced
1 shallot, minced
 1/2 cup dried shiitake mushrooms
1 TB unsalted butter
1 TB oil
1 TB unsalted butter
2 TB flour
1 cup seafood stock
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup skim
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups freshly shucked oysters with likker
1 TB sherry

Pour boiling water over the shiitake mushrooms,
cover, and let sit for 15-20 minutes.

Heat the butter and oil over medium heat.
When the butter is foamy,
reduce heat a bit and add in 
prepared carrot, celery, potato, and shallot.
Sauté about 5 minutes,
then add in a TB of butter and 2 TB flour.
Cook the flour about a minute or two.
Add in the stock, slowly,
stirring to scrape up the goody bits from the bottom of the pan.
Keep stirring until thickened.
Add in cream and milk.
Heat through.
Taste test and season with salt and pepper.
Drain and chop the mushrooms and add to the pot.
I happened to have a cup of steamed oysters
and 1/2 cup freshly shucked oysters and likker.
I threw in the fresh oysters in first for a minute or so,
then I threw in the steamed oysters.
Taste test.
It needed the soupçon of sherry.
Serve with oyster crackers.

Velvety smooth, oystery goodness.
Oyster in every spoonful
and, if you're lucky,
you'll get the occasional little crab.
These are called crab slough oysters.
They contain tiny crabs which are not babies,
but fully-grown adult "oyster crabs."
These soft shell crabs use the oysters' shells for protection
and they feed by stealing the oysters' food.

Now, for the step-by-steps.
Potato, celery, carrot, shallot.

Dice and mince.

I had dried shiitake mushrooms
and dried black button mushrooms.

I poured boiling water over the mushrooms,
covered, and let it sit while I started on the soup.

I sautéed the potato, carrot, celery, and shallot
in butter and oil.
Add in the flour and cook stirring.
Slowly stir in seafood stock,
scraping up bottom bits,
until thickened.

Milk and cream in.
Keep just under a simmer
until potatoes are fork tender.

Squeeze moisture out of re-hydrated mushrooms and finely chop.
Add to soup.
I had some steamed oysters
from yesterday's afternoon snack.
But you could use all freshly shucked.
Look at all the little crabbies!

Mr. Hawthorne shucked a few extras.
Always save the erster likker.

Look at this little crab.
He's waving at me!

Ersters in.  Heat through.
Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
Then swirl in that sherry.
I'm fond of what I call, "pockets of flavor."

I like a little extra ground pepper on mine.

You know what?
You could put some shredded iceberg lettuce on this
and it would really kick it up a notch.

I told you.
Rosie's mind is a scary place.

Toss in some oyster crackers.
Perfect for this weather.

We didn't eat all of this the first day.
Mr. H. just had this the second day.
"I don't know how, but this is even better the next day."

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A Night In Argentina At The Saltbox Café.

Welcome to the Saltbox Café.
On Thursday night,
the Hawthornes went to the Saltbox's second
(I hope of many) wine dinner series.
Each wine is paired with a course
significant to the region.
Tonight featured the wines of Argentina
and Cody Stokes, national sales manager for Victus World Imports,
introduced each wine.

You can read about the first dinner,
featuring the wines of Spain, here.

When we arrived, appetizers were waiting at the bar -
cheeses, prosciutto, assorted olives,
spiced apple slices, paté, and bruschetta.

Photo courtesy of Saltbox Café.

Our first course -
scallop ceviche with a yuzu vinaigrette.
Thinly sliced scallops, green pepper, and tomatoes
napped in a citrus sauce.
The wine accompanying the ceviche 
was a crisp 2013 Valdecuevas Verdejo.

I've actually made a yuzu sauce for scallops
on a bed of puréed popcorn
and it was divine.
Here's the post about it:

No matter how busy Chefs Amanda and Randolph are,
they always take time 
to come out and mingle with their customers.

Our second course, paired with a 2013 Bodega Gratia Sauvignon Blanc,
was Cornish hen Ballontine stuffed with lamb and spinach,
and served on an inspired bed of quinoa and apple salad
spiked with raisins.
Unfortunately, I have no picture of this delectable dish.
No light at my table and Rosie never does flash,
unless it's outside fill-in.
And The Saltbox didn't have pictures either.
I'll just have to recreate this myself
and shoot pictures.

 Photo courtesy Saltbox Café.

Third course:
2011 Bedega Gratia Malbec with grilled local tuna,
crisp plantains, papas verde, and salsa cruda.
Not a lot of seafood holds up well to red wine,
but this grilled tuna was a perfect pairing.
The tuna was served on a potato purée
with chilies, tomato, and cilantro.
Rosie loves her some grilled tuna!
Photo courtesy Saltbox Café.
Like I said, I love the personal attention
shown to the Saltbox customers.
Chef Randolph stopped by our table to chat
and I gave him a note for Amanda.
 I was unable to shoot pics because of NO light
and she graciously invited me into the kitchen,
where all the magic happens,
 for the next three courses
 so I could shoot while they were plating.
Thanks, Amanda and Randolph!
Photo Courtesy Saltbox Café

I love Chef Sprinkle's intensity here.

Our fourth course was roasted veal tenderloin
with a delicious brown butter Hollandaise sauce
that I must replicate next time I make Eggs Hawthorne.
This was paired with a 2012 Bodega GratiaCabernet Sauvignon.

I believe bonito flakes were involved somewhere in here.
Chef Randolph?
Please explain about the bonito.

 I have bonito flakes which I used to make dashi,
but I'd love to know other uses for it.
Micro greens and sweet, tender baby carrots 
rounded this out quite nicely.

Course five:
The wine was a 1010 Bodega Gratia Marchiori Malbec.
The dish was grass-fed beef,
New York strip,
with fried cassava root, corn porridge, 
and a classic chimichurri sauce.

Color me happy!

Course six.
Fabulous dessert served with
Susana Balbo Late Harvest Malbec.
Chocolate spiced cake with dulce de leche mousse,
sea salt caramel gelato, and dulce de leche sauce.
I tasted pumpkin!
I think I died and went to heaven after this.

Photo courtesy Saltbox Café.

Thanks, Chefs Sprinkles,
for a wonderfully delicious
and deliciously wonderful evening!

Not to worry, readers.
The Hawthornes do not drink and drive.
We enlisted the services of Middle Hawthorne
to deposit us and pick our sorry asses up.

Sprinkles, we'll be back December 4,
 for the French inspired dinner.
Thanks, again!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Mr. Hawthorne Makes Tuna Salad.

I know.
It's true.
Everything's better on a Ritz!
But when you put Mr. Hawthorne's tuna salad
on a Ritz, you got sumpin' wunnerful.

We've been buying our tuna salad
from a certain seafood establishment for years.
(Rhymes with Silly's Seafood.)
It's simply the best.
It started out at $6.95/pound.
Now it's gone up to $9.95/pound
and Mr. Hawthorne refuses to buy it.
So he makes his own and it is excellent.

Mr. Hawthorne's Tuna Salad
3/4 lb. tuna filet
1/4 cup sweet relish
1/2 stick celery, minced
1/3 cup mayonnaise
Cut the tuna into small chunks - about 1-inch cubes
and drop into boiling, salted water.
Cook about two minutes, until tuna flakes,
or until water comes back to a boil.
Drain tuna and cool quickly under cold running water.
The tuna will pretty much fall apart.
Add rest of ingredients and mix well.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Hawthornes Make Pastrami.

Mr. Hawthorne picked up a brisket 
at Food Lion the other day 
and he's making pastrami.

Here's the process:
First you make a pickling spice mix.
Then you brine the brisket for 4 days.
On the last day, rinse off the brine
and leave the brisket in refrigerator overnight, uncovered.
The next day, you prepare a spice rub for the meat
and then smoke it until internal temperature reaches 190°-200°.
Let rest before cutting.

We have a little stovetop smoker which comes in quite handy.

Rosie assembled all of Mr. Hawthorne's spice ingredients,
since if I'd left it up to him to find them,
he'd still be looking for them.

Pickling Spice Mixture
2 TB mixed whole peppercorns
2 TB hot red pepper flakes
2 TB coriander seeds
2 TB mustard seeds
5 fresh bay leaves (less for dried)
1 TB ground ginger
1 TB ground mace
3 cinnamon sticks
1 TB whole cloves
2 TB allspice berries
1 TB smoked paprika
1 TB garlic powder
1 TB onion powder
1 cup coarse kosher salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
4 garlic cloves, minced

Mix all ingredients together in a container
large enough to hold the brisket.
 Stir well to dissolve sugars and salt.
Place brisket in and
add enough water to cover the brisket.
Cover and refrigerate for four days,
stirring mixture and turning brisket over each day.

I used a small cooler.

Now, true deli pastrami would have some type 
of curing salts containing sodium nitrite.
This is what gives pastrami its pink color.

I don't have any curing salts.
But I do have annatto.
Annatto is made from the seeds of the achiote tree,
indigenous to South America, 
and is used for both food coloring and flavor.
I use a little annatto whenever I make Spanish rice
and it's also what gives cheddar cheese its color.

I decided to shave off slices of the annatto
and add that to the mixture.

After the fourth day,
remove the brisket from its brine and wash it off.
Pat dry, then place back in refrigerator, uncovered, overnight.

When you're ready to smoke,
make your Spice Rub:
1/4 cup ground coriander
2 TB freshly ground black pepper
2 TB smoked paprika
Rub spice mixture into brisket.

Mr. Hawthorne used applewood chips in the smoker
and smoked until internal temperature reached 190° - 200°.

Let rest before slicing.

 And there you have homemade pastrami.
Jewish barbecue, if you will.

I'm very happy with the taste and flavor of this pastrami,
but I'd like to try my take on it
and actually get the curing salts.
Pink Prague Powder #1.
Plus a few more tweaks.

Pastrami on toasted homemade rye bread
with a schmear of coarse grained mustard,
 turkey, pepperoni slices, and Swiss cheese.

Rosie Tip #459:
Whenever I'm using pepperoni,
in a sandwich or on a pizza,
I place the pepperoni slices on paper towels and nuke them.
Grease goes onto towels, not in you.

Put under the broiler until the cheese is bubbly,
then add pickle slices and Mr. Hawthorne's pickled red onions.
He keeps a jar of pickled beet juice in the fridge
and simply adds onion slices to it.