Friday, June 23, 2017

Tuna! And What To Do With All Those Cucumbers In The Garden.

 Lately, I've been jonesin' for tuna.
Finally got my fix today.
I'm serving seared tuna fillets with a cucumber and peanut topping along with another cucumber  and corn salad side dish.   This is what you make when you have bunches of cucumbers producing.
Cucumber on top of more cucumber!

Cucumber Peanut Salad Topping For Tuna Steaks
½ cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
¼ cup raw peanuts
1 TB chopped parsley
1 TB chopped mint
1 TB oil
zest of  ½ lime
juice of one lime
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp Asian sweet chili garlic sauce
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Combine all ingredients.
And here's the Cucumber Peanut Salad topping for the tuna.
Cover and refrigerate.

Next, make the Corn and Cucumber Salad.
Corn and Cucumber Salad
1 ear corn, kernels scraped off
2 TB chopped onion
½ jalapeño, finely chopped (Seeds removed.)
1 TB chopped red pepper
½ cucumber, peeled and diced
2 TB feta cheese, small cubes
2 TB basil leaves, julienned
 juice of 1 lime
2 TB buttermilk
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Heat a little olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and add corn, a pinch of kosher salt, and a pinch of sugar.  Sauté for a few minutes, then add in onion, jalapeño, and red pepper.  Sauté a few more minutes until corn is slightly browned in spots and onion is translucent.  Transfer to small bowl, cover, and refrigerate.

While the corn is chilling, make the dressing.

For the dressing:
Whisk juice of one lime while slowly pouring in ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil.  Whisk in the buttermilk.  Add in a pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste.
Combine chilled corned, pepper, and onion mixture with diced cucumber, cubed feta, and basil.

Pour lime dressing over top and toss to coat.

Cover and refrigerate Corn and Cucumber Salad.

Now, on to the tuna steaks.
I coated my tuna fillets with white and black sesame seeds and a dusting of cumin.

Sauté tuna steaks in 1 TB unsalted butter and 1 TB peanut oil in a hot skillet (350°).
Depending on the thickness, cook 1-2 minutes each side for rare, 2-3 minutes for medium.  Tuna is very flaky meat, so you can actually spread the meat apart to see the progress of cooking.  Set tuna aside.

Now here comes the fun part.
See all those juices in the pan?  That's all flavor.

Take hot pan away from heat source and pour in a little alkyhol.
You could use sherry.
You could use white wine.
Or, you could use a blood orange liqueur like I did.
Pour in the alcohol, return pan to heat, and tilt it to flambé.  Let the flames die down on their own, then pour the concentrated juices over the tuna fillets.

Mr. Hawthorne actually made his own liqueur from blood oranges a few months ago when they were in season.  He took a few blood oranges, peeled and sliced, put them in a jar, and covered the pieces with vodka.  Every now and then, he'd come in and agitate the mixture.  After about 2 - 3 weeks, he strained the mixture, pressing the liquid out of the oranges.  And voila!  Blood orange liqueur.

 Ta da!
 I served the tuna with the Cucumber and Peanut Salad on top and the Cucumber and Corn Salad as a side.
Happy flavors.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Rosie Makes Beignets. And Then Doughnuts!

It was a lazy weekend and I was in the mood.
For beignets and doughnuts.
Sometimes one just has to scratch that itch.

Basic Recipe For Beignet and Doughnut Dough
 1 cup warm water
1/4 cup sugar
1 package yeast
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 TB unsalted butter, softened
1 egg, room temperature and beaten
1/2 cup evaporated milk
4 cups flour

Whenever I'm working with yeast, I always "proof" it first to be sure it's working.
Pour the package of yeast into the warm water and sprinkle a teaspoon or so of the sugar over top.
And wait.  If, in a few minutes, the mixture becomes bubbly and foamy, then the yeast has "proved" it's alive and you're good to go.

You can mix the dough with a stand-up mixer fitted with a dough hook or you can mix everything in a food processor.  Sometimes, I prefer doing everything by hand, which is what I did.

After the yeast has "proofed," add in the rest of the ingredients.  Knead the dough until you get a smooth, elastic, cohesive mass, adding a sprinkling of flour if necessary to keep it from being too sticky.

Form dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about an hour.
Place dough on lightly floured surface and roll out into a rectangle, about 1/2" thick.

For the beignets:
Cut dough into approximately 3-inch squares, rectangles, triangles, circles, whatever floats your boat.
Cover and set aside to rest and rise, about an hour.

For the doughnuts:
Cut dough into 3-4-inch circles.  Using your thumb, press a hole in the center and work dough into a doughnut shape.  Cover and set aside to rest and rise, about an hour.

Heat a few inches of peanut oil to 350° in a large pan.  Gently slide 3-4 beignets at a time into hot oil, being careful not to crowd the pan.  For doughnuts, drop 2-3 in the oil at a time.  Fry about 2-3 minutes, until puffy and golden brown, turning over halfway through so they'll get evenly brown.  Drain on rack.

For the beignets, dust with powdered sugar and serve warm.

For the doughnuts, I like a chocolate glaze
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate
4 TB unsalted butter
2 TB cream
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup confectioners' sugar

Combine chocolate, butter, cream, and vanilla in small saucepan and heat until chocolate and butter are melted.  Remove from heat and whisk in powdered sugar until mixture is smooth.  Dip doughnuts in glaze.

Let dough rise a bit,
then refrigerate until chilled through.

Roll out dough.
About 1/2" thick.

Cut into beignet shapes.

Fry just a few at a time.
Never crowd the pan when frying.

You want them
golden brown on both sides.

Drain and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar while still hot.

Enjoy with a nice, hot cup of coffee.

Form doughnut shapes.

Let rise.

Fry at 350°, turning with tongs to evenly brown.


Let drain on a rack and sprinkle with powdered sugar while still hot.

Or you can dip in a chocolate glaze.

Rosie's Chocolate Glaze
1/2 stick unsalted butter
2 TB cream
2 tsp corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla
2 oz. semisweet chocolate
1 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted

Melt butter and chocolate.
Stir in cream, corn syrup, vanilla.
Whisk in confectioner's sugar.
Keep whisking until smooth.

I have a confession to make.
My glaze was lumpy.
And I'm blaming it, of course, on Mr. Hawthorne.
He came in at the last minute and asked if he could help.
He saw what I was making and wanted to grab a doughnut and knows that I frown on people waltzing into my kitchen after I've been slaving for hours and grabbing something I've just produced.  That just pisses me off.  He knows the rules.  
So I said, "Sure.  Finish making the glaze."
All he had to do was whisk in the confectioner's sugar.
Well, I discovered the powdered sugar needed to be SIFTED into the chocolate mixture, to avoid the lumps and bumps.
Live and learn.

It doesn't get much better than this.

These are delicious.

Now, go make beignets and doughnuts!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Rosie Makes A Blueberry Buckle.


Blueberries were on sale at FoodLion, so I'm making a Blueberry Buckle today.
Now, what is a Buckle?
We have cobblers.  We have crisps.  We have crumbles. We have crumbcakes.  We have grunts.  We have slumps. We have pandowdies.  We have sonkers.  We have Brown Bettys. So what am I making?

I know what a pie is.  I can recognize a pie.  But what about all of the pie's offspring?
All are fruit mixtures, so what sets them apart? 

 Generally, a crisp is baked fruit topped with a mixture of nuts, butter, sugar, and cereal, typically oatmeal.  A crisp is sometimes referred to as a crumble.  Crisps and crumbles are baked with the fruit mixture on the bottom with a crumb topping, made with flour, nuts, cookie crumbs, or even cereal.  The crumble is considered the British version of the American crisp.

A cobbler is a deep-dish baked fruit dessert topped with a thick crust, usually a biscuit crust.  The topping is usually dropped or spooned in clumps over the fruit, allowing bits of the filling to peak through.  The topping is "cobbled," not smooth.

A grunt or slump is a fruit mixture topped with biscuits and is baked on the stove top.  Supposedly. this concoction makes a grunting noise as a result of the steam escaping from the simmering fruit through the vents between the biscuits.  Early colonists in New England attempted to adapt the English steamed pudding to the primitive cooking equipment that had available, resulting in a dumpling-like pudding (basically a cobbler) using local fruit, and cooked on the stove top.  In Massachusetts, they were known as a grunt and in Vermont, Maine, and Rhode Island, these were referred to as a slump.

A Brown Betty consists of fruit, typically apples, baked between layers of buttered crumbs.  A Betty is descended from English pudding desserts and is related to the  French Apple Charlotte.  The Betty was quite a popular baked putting made in America during colonial times.

The pandowdy is a deep-dish dessert made with whatever fruits available, but most commonly made with apples sweetened with molasses or brown sugar.  The topping is a crumbly type of biscuit, except the crust is broken up during baking and pushed down to allow the fruit juices to come through.  Sometimes, the crust is on the bottom and the dessert is inverted before serving.  The origin of the name is unknown, but it's thought to refer to the dessert's plain, or dowdy, appearance.

A sonker is an Appalachian term for a deep-dish pie.  Similar to a cobbler, the sonker is served in many different flavors - strawberry, cherry, peach, and even sweet potatoes.  It appears to be a dish unique to North Carolina.

A buckle is a streusel topping over a fruit cake, usually made with blueberries.  The streusel topping makes the top look buckled.  Similar to a crisp, this dessert is also referred to as a crumble.  A buckle is more fruit-filled than a coffeecake and has more buttery batter than a cobbler.

That explained (kinda), I'm making a Blueberry Buckle today.

Blueberry Buckle

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped almonds

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature + more for pan
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
3 cups blueberries, rinsed, dried, and picked over

Heat oven to 350°.

NOTE:  You could use regular milk, but I had almond milk, so I'm going with a theme here.

Make topping:  
Whisk sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt in medium bowl.  Cut in butter and rub in with fingers until mixture cones together in clumps.  Stir in nuts.

Butter an 8-inch pan and line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang.
Butter parchment.

Make batter:
Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into small bowl.
In a large bowl with a mixer, beat 1/4 cup butter on high speed until smooth, then add in sugar and beat until well-blended, about 2-3 minutes.  Add egg and vanilla and beat on high to combine, about 1 minute.  Reduce speed to low and alternately add 1/3 of dry ingredients, then half of milk, until all are used, blending after each addition until just combined.
Reserve 1 cup blueberries.
Spread half of batter in prepared pan and sprinkle with 2 cups of berries.  Spoon and gently spread remaining batter over berries.  Sprinkle with 1/2 cup reserved berries, then with half of topping.  Repeat to use remaining berries and topping.

Bake buckle until golden brown, rotating halfway through, and covering with foil if necessary.  Do the toothpick test.  Insert into center and it should come out clean.  About 60 minutes.  Cool pan on rack for 20 minutes, then lift out with parchment edges and let cool completely.

Serve with vanilla ice cream.

For the step-by-steps.