Monday, January 14, 2019

Rosie Makes A Mushroom Tart.


 It's a lazy Sunday morning and I'm taking my time doing what I like to do - cook and eat.
I came up with a nice brunch tart dish for you to enjoy.

Rosie's Puff Pastry Mushroom Onion Tart
1/2 medium yellow onion, sliced
1/2 medium red onion, sliced
Yepsen of mushrooms, sliced
Yes.  "Yepsen" is a word, although obsolete.  I'm trying singlehandedly to bring it back into use.
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup white wine
Gruyère cheese, grated  Amount is up to you.
crumbled bacon
4 4x4" sheets of puff pastry
egg wash - One egg mixed with one tablespoon of water.

Over medium low heat, cook onion slices in a tablespoon of oil with a pinch each of sugar and salt, until caramelized, stirring occasionally.  About 8 minutes.
Add 2 TB butter, melt, then add in the sliced shrooms.  OK. If you didn't look up "yepsen," it refers to a unit of measurement.  It's two handfuls. Basically you want a little more mushroom volume than onion.  Cook about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add minced garlic and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes.
Increase heat to high.  Add wine, stirring up any goodie bits on the bottom.  Cook until wine has evaporated.
Cut puff pastry into 4 4 x 4" sheets.  Score each sheet about 1/4 - 1/2 inch inside borders.
Pile mushroom filling onto sheets, staying within scores.  Add a little crumbled bacon.  Sprinkle with fresh thyme.  Top with Gruyère cheese and more thyme.
Bake at 400° about 15 minutes, or until pastry is a lovely golden brown.
Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley.

Rosie Note:   

I’ve made puff pastry and it’s labor-intensive and time-consuming.  It is not an undertaking for the faint of heart.  In making classic puff pastry, a block of butter is wrapped in a basic dough. This combination is rolled out and folded into thirds, in a series of turns. Generally, 6 rolls, folds, and turns are made.  If you do the math, that’s 3̿⁶, or 3x3x3x3x3x3, or 729, layers of butter. 

Now, if you’ve already thrown up your hands and screamed, “Enough!,” not to worry.  You can buy frozen puff pastry.  However, there is one caveat – look at the ingredients list on the package.   Look for butter.  That’s how I came across Dufour puff pastry at Fresh Market, which is the only market I’ve found selling this brand.  In labeling food products, the ingredients are listed in descending order of weight.  Dufour pastry’s first ingredient is USDA Grade AA butter (as it should be!), followed by flour, water, salt, and lemon juice.  Another popular brand (Pepperidge Farm) of puff pastry’s ingredient list reads, “wheat flour, water, vegetable oils, high fructose corn syrup…”  That, my friends, is not puff pastry.  You don’t want that.  Dufour brand is the best you can buy at the stores.  Period.

That's how much onion, mushroom, and garlic you want.

Caramelize the onions, then add more butter and ...
...sliced shrooms.

Splash in some white wine and cook until evaporated.

Pile the mushroom mixture inside the scored puff pastries.
If you'd like some bacon, I won't stop you.

Add grated Gruyère.

Brush on egg wash.

And bake until golden brown.

Sprinkle on chopped fresh parsley.


Friday, January 11, 2019

Rosie Makes Crab Cakes.

If you've been following along, in which case you are probably in the minority, you will have noticed that I recently made crab meat stuffed shrimp then used some of that crab meat for my boules.


See here:  HERE for recipes.

Well, I still had 1/2 pound of crab meat left. 

 That's going into crab cakes and welcome to one of my favorite meals.

I've been making crab cakes for a loooooong time.
Tweaking my recipes.
And I must admit, this particular rendition is right up there with the best.

The thing about crab cakes is you have to go easy. You don't want the filling to overwhelm the crab.

Less is more.  That should be your guiding principle.

Now, I would like to use jumbo lump crab meat whenever I make my cakes,
but I'm too cheap for that.  And I really don't think my cakes suffer.
That said, if you can, spring for the jumbo lump.  They can only get better.

Here's my latest crab cake recipe using 8 ounces of the 1-lb. container. This is enough for 4-5 generous cakes.

Rosie's Crab Cakes
For the cakes:
8 ounces crab meat
1 egg
1 TB mayonnaise (Hellman's)
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1 TB minced onion
1 TB minced sweet red bell pepper (You could use green if that's all you have.  I like the red for the color.  Plus it tastes red.)
1  TB minced celery
1 TB chopped parsley
Optional:  2 water chestnuts, minced  (I happened to have leftover water chestnuts in the fridge, so I used two of them.  Not necessary, but it does give a nice crunch.)

Beat egg with mayonnaise until smooth.  Add all ingredients except for the crab meat and mix until well-combined.  Gently fold in the crab meat, trying to keep the lumps intact.  Do not over-mix!  
Form into 5 generous cakes.  Chill for an hour.

For the breading:
6 melba toasts
1/2 cup oyster crackers
12 saltines
Crush all crackers and mix together. 

Coat both sides of chilled crab cakes with breading mixture.

Heat about 2 TB each peanut oil and butter in a medium skillet until butter starts foaming.  About 325° - 350°.  Gently slide crab cakes into pan, two or three at a time.  You don't want to crowd the pan.  Fry about 2-3 minutes each side, until golden brown.  Drain.

Serve with Remoulade Sauce and Rosie's Cole Slaw.

Remoulade Sauce
1/4 cup mayonnaise (Hellman's)
2 tsp coarse grained mustard
1 tsp horseradish
1 tsp Lea & Perrins
1 TB sweet relish
1/4 tsp Cajun seasoning
1/4 tsp Texas Pete
Combine all together.

Rosie's Cole Slaw
1 cup shredded cabbage
2 TB julienned carrot
2 TB minced red pepper
Combine ingredients and toss with dressing to coat.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes so the flavors can mix and mingle and meet and greet.
2 TB mayonnaise (Hellman's) 
1 tsp chili garlic sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp cider vinegar
pinch each kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp celery seed

Now for the step-by-steps:
In the bowl, I've mixed the mayo, egg, Dijon, L&P, lemon juice, and Old Bay.
And I have finely minced celery, red pepper, and onion. 

Add the minced ingredients to the egg mixture, along with chopped parsley, and then fold in the crab meat.  Be gentle!  Don't break up the meat.

Form into cakes using tins or biscuit cutters, pressing the mixture.
Chill for at least 60 minutes.

Coat chilled cakes with crushed breading mixture.

I had enough for 5 cakes.

 I might have had enough for 6 cakes, but ...
... I left the kitchen for just a minute
and this precious baby might have
sneaked up to the counter and eaten about
an ounce of the crab meat.
She's not admitting to anything,
but the meat looked a bit light.
Just sayin'.

Here's my remoulade.

And here's my slaw.

Fry the cakes in oil/butter mixture.
The butter is for flavor.  The oil is to bring up the smoke point of the butter.  They work together.

You want a nice golden brown on each side.

Drain on paper towels.

And serve.  
With remoulade sauce and cole slaw and a sprig of parsley for the pretty green taste.
And always lemon.

I am happy.
Mr. Hawthorne is happy.


Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Oysters Hawthorne.

I always like to include history or a story with my food, so today I'm going to talk about Oysters Rockefeller, although I'll be making Oysters Hawthorne.  You'll see Oysters Rockefeller on menus everywhere, but what, exactly, is it?  And is what you see on the menus really Rockefeller?

The answer to the first question is:  Oysters Rockefeller is an oyster dish created in the late 1800s at Antoine's, a restaurant in New Orleans, by Jules Alciatore, son of founder Antoine Alciatore.

The answer to the second question is:  No.  Unless you're at Antoine's.

 Now to the history of this dish:
Back in the 1850s, a specialty dish at Antoine's, the country's oldest family-run restaurant, was Escargot Bourgignon, the snails being imported into New Orleans from Burgundy.  Eventually, snails became difficult to procure and Jules wanted to use a local product, so he chose the succulent Gulf oysters which were readily available and adapted the Snails Bourgignon recipe to accommodate the oysters.  The dish was an immediate success, one patron declaring, "Why, these are as rich as Rockefeller!"  And Oysters Rockefeller was born.

As for the exact ingredients in Oysters Rockefeller, we don't know.  The original recipe is a closely guarded secret.  The ingredients are said to number 18 or 23, depending on your sources, but again, we just don't know.  Originally watercress, not spinach, was used.  And there was no bacon in the dish.  A liqueur is also said to be involved, which probably was absinthe back in the day, but Pernod is probably used now.  Jules Alciatore, on his deathbed, demanded the ingredients and proportions be kept a secret.  Great-great grandson of Jules, Roy Guste, Jr., notes "the sauce is basically a purée of a number of green vegetables other than spinach."  Oyster Rockefeller is believed to start out with a roux, then a bunch of green herbs are added, the whole is puréed, some type of anise liqueur is added, then it's topped with breadcrumbs and baked.  In other words, we don't know.

What we do know is that the original recipe as been imitated, tweeked, and tinkered with so that there are numerous variations.  And I'd be happy to try them all.

Here's my latest variation on what I call Oysters Hawthorne.  It's always evolving.

Oysters Hawthorne vers. 23.1

24 or so oysters, shucked and arranged on tray

The amounts of my ingredients are not etched in stone.  If you happen to prefer one ingredient over another, feel free to adjust accordingly.

1/2 cup chopped spinach 
about 2 TB finely chopped red onion
about 2 TB finely chopped fennel
about 2 TB chopped parsley
Combine spinach, onion, fennel, and parsley

some cooked bacon - maybe 4 strips, chopped

2 TB grated Parmesan
2 TB shredded Sweet Swiss Fair Oaks cheese
Combine cheeses together.

As for the Swiss cheese, I found this particular brand, Fair Oaks, at FoodLion.  And it does have a hint of sweetness which blends well with the oysters.

panko bread crumbs
melted unsalted butter

These oysters were not the saltiest I've ever had, so I put a bare pinch of Hawaiian Alaea Red Sea Salt on each.  Next, top with a teaspoon or so of the spinach mixture, then some cheese mixture.  Lastly, sprinkle with a little panko and drizzle with 1/2 tsp or so of the melted butter.

The thing to remember about oyster toppings is that less is always more.  You don't want to overpower the delicate oysters, so go easy on the toppings.

Place under a 450° broiler until panko is lightly browned.  About 8 minutes.


Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Rosie Makes Tarts!

This is how you start out the New Year the right way.
With something sweet!

So, I'm making tarts.
Little buttery tarts.
With pecans.
And Medjool dates because I happen to have them.

Let's start with the pastry dough first.

Pastry Dough
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg
1 tsp white vinegar
3-4 TB cold water

Whisk the flour and salt together.
Using a fork or pastry blender, 
cut in the butter until the mixture is nice and crumbly.
In a small bowl, 
whisk together the egg, vinegar, and 2 TB of the water.
Drizzle egg mixture into flour,
using fork to moisten evenly.
Drizzle more water in,
folding dough over
until it comes together.
Pat into a flat slab about 1/2 inch thick,
cover, and refrigerate for at least an hour. 

Here are the how-to's:
Work that butter into the flour until the mixture gets crumbly.
And you want different sized crumbs,
not all homogeneous,
but none larger than pea-sized.

Drizzle in the egg, water, and vinegar mixture.

Add in enough water to form a ball.

And roll it out (about 1/2 inch thick),
 cover it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate.
If you like, you can make the dough the first day,
refrigerate it overnight,
and continue with the filling the next day.

Make the filling.

2 eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
(And we're talking the real stuff here.
Don't use the chemicals.)
2 tsp white vinegar
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla

Using a mixer, beat eggs well.
Then beat in brown sugar and salt
until well-combined.
Beat in syrup, vinegar, butter, and vanilla
until smooth.

Then I noticed I had some Medjool dates and pecans.
I'm using about 1/4 cup chopped dates
and 1/2 cup chopped pecans.

Fold the dates and pecans into the filling mixture.

If you're not familiar with Medjool dates,
it's high time to familiarize yourself.
Medjool dates are the real thing.
They're fresh dates.
If all you've been using date-wise
are the dried, shriveled dates in the baking aisle,
Get thee to a proper produce department
and buy the Medjools.

For more about the Medjool date
(plus a wonderful celery salad recipe
that even people who say they don't like celery will like)
see HERE.

Now, back to my tarts.

Take the slab of pastry dough out of the fridge
and start rolling it out on a lightly floured work surface.
Flip it over.
Sprinkle flour.
Roll some more.
You want it less than 1/8" thick.

Cut out 4-inch diameter circles.
Pull up remaining dough.
Form into a ball, roll out again, and cut more circles.
Continue until you use up all the dough.
You should have enough for a 12-cup muffin pan.
And then some. 
Any leftover dough you can roll out,
cut into circles,
fill with thinly sliced apples.
Fold into crescents, seal, and fry.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Next I cut little slits around the circles
so when I press them into my non-stick muffin pans,
they sort of overlap and fit better.

Gently press dough circles into muffin tins
so they're nice and snug,
then fill each tart 2/3 full with filling mixture.
Bake in 375° oven for 25 minutes or thereabouts.
Until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly.
Let tarts cool then remove from pan.