Thursday, April 23, 2020

Now That's Some Good Pie!

All this quarantining is making me hungry.
Add a sweet tooth to that and I gots me some PIE!
Make that chocolate pie.
With pecans.
And because I can't just leave well enough alone,
I had to add some chocolate ganache.
And then some vanilla ice cream for good measure.

This pie was soooo good,
I've already made it twice.
In three days.
And they're asking for more.

The secret to my pie,
which is no secret anymore,
is the ESPRESSO.

Rosie's Chocolate Espresso Pie
1 9" pie crust, unbaked, placed in glass pie dish
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 TB espresso powder
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
5 oz. evaporated milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 TB vanilla
1 cup pecans, sorta chopped

Heat oven to 400°.
For the pie crust, you can make your own
or use a store-bought crust.
For store-bought crusts, 
I recommend the refrigerated ones that come rolled up,
two to a box (They're near the eggs.),
NOT the frozen individual crusts.

Mix together:
sugar, cocoa, and espresso powder
Stir in:
melted butter
evaporated milk
beaten eggs
Pour into:
1 unbaked pie shell
chopped pecans onto surface
Bake at 400° for 10 minutes.
Reduce heat to 325° and bake 25 more minutes,
rotating pie halfway through baking time.
I also slipped on a pie crust collar after the first 10 minutes
to keep the crust from burning.
Let cool, then refrigerate.
RESIST the temptation to slice right into this pie.
It needs to sit OVERNIGHT to set.

Now, for the step-by-steps:
Combine sugar, cocoa, and espresso.

Add in buttah.

And mix.

Add in evaporated milk, mixing.

Finally, whisk in eggs and vanilla.

Pour into unbaked pie crust with fluted edges.

Pecans go on top.

Just sorta poke 'em in.
Ready for oven.

Resist the urge to dig in as soon as it comes out of the oven
This pie needs to cool, then be refrigerated for hours so everything sets.

Dense and fudgy.

Oh my.
This is wonderful.
So then I just had to add some ganache.
Or chocolate sauce.
Simply heat up some cream
and pour it over bittersweet chocolate.
Let the chocolate melt.
And stir.

How much cream?
How much chocolate?
Well, it depends.
Depends on whether you want to make truffles,
or a glaze, or an icing.

For a pourable glaze or soft icing, 
you want one part chocolate to two parts cream (by weight).

For a thick glaze, try 1:1.
For chocolate truffles, where you chill the mixture,
then roll it into small balls, then coat it with whatever,
try a ratio of 2 parts chocolate to 1 part cream.

I went with 1 part chocolate to 2 parts cream.
If you want to add some more pecans in there,
I won't stop you.

Then I just HAD to have some ice cream.


Thursday, April 16, 2020

Springtime Asparagus Soup.

 I have lovely asparagus coming up in my garden nowand I'm thinking up all sorts of asparagus-based recipes.  This creamy asparagus soup with sautéed mushrooms and Parmesan crispsmakes for a perfect spring lunch.

First I made the Parmesan rounds.
Grate small mounds (heaping tablespoon)  of Parmesan cheese onto parchment paper.
Gently press flat - 1/8 - 1/4 inch thickness.
Give each round a few grinds of pepper.
Bake in a 300° oven for about 15 minutes.

Golden perfection.
Let cool.

Now, on to the soup.

Rosie’s Asparagus Soup
1 TB unsalted butter
8 oz. asparagus (about 12 spears), chopped
3-4 mushrooms, sliced
½ onion, finely chopped (about ¼ cup)
1 TB unsalted butter
2 TB flour
2 cups vegetable broth
¼ cup heavy cream
2 TB chopped parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Frozen peas (optional)
Scallion, sliced
Lemon zest
More chopped parsley

In a medium pot, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat.  Add chopped asparagus, sliced mushrooms, and chopped onion.  Sauté 3-4 minutes, until onion is translucent.  Remove mushrooms and just the asparagus tips and set aside for later.

Add in second tablespoon of butter and sprinkle in flour, stirring for a minute to cook the flour.  Slowly pour in vegetable broth, stirring to thicken.  (You can substitute chicken stock if that’s what you have on hand.)  Reduce heat and cook at bare simmer, about 5 minutes, until asparagus is tender.  Stir in 2 tablespoons chopped parsley.

To purée the soup, I use an immersion blender as opposed to a countertop blender.  There’s no easier way to get that creamy, luxurious texture than by immersion blending.  The bladed wand goes directly into the pot with the soup mixture and you don’t have to ladle out the liquid contents into a blender jar and splash hot liquid all over the place or have steam blow the lid off.  Another plus for immersion blending is that it saves on cleanup too – you don’t have another container to wash, just detach the wand and give it a quick clean up.   Simply insert your immersion blender in the pot and blend away, moving the blender up and down and keeping it submerged until your mixture is smooth and consistent.

Stir in the cream, then taste-test, adding kosher salt and freshly ground pepper as needed.  If you like, add in a half cup or so of frozen (not canned) peas and let heat through before serving.

Ladle soup into bowls and top with reserved asparagus tips and sliced mushrooms, along with sliced scallions, chopped parsley, and a grating of lemon zest for a bright tang.  Welcome accompaniments include crunchy croutons or crisp Parmesan rounds.



Friday, April 10, 2020

Stir Fry Shrimp.

I'm always up for a good stir fry.
It's quick, easy, colorful, so very versatile,
and downright delicious.
Basically, it's a one-pot wonder.

My vegetables today will be:
carrots, sliced
broccoli, cut into florets
bell peppers (the more colorful, the better), chopped
onion, sliced into small wedges
My protein's gonna be shrimp,
because I have a freezer full of shrimp.
You could substitute for another meat -
chicken, pork, or beef would work just fine here.

Now, a little background on stir fries.
The key to everything is preparation.
Have all your ingredients prepared and organized - cut and ready to cook.
 That's your mise en place.
Everything is set in place and ready to go.

First, prepare all your vegetables.
Next, have your sauces ready.
I'll be using two liquids in my stir fry.
The first is a simple cornstarch slurry -
2 TB cornstarch combined with 3 TB vegetable stock
(or you could use water instead of the stock)
This slurry is used as a thickener.

The second liquid is my sauce.
For the sauce:
In a small saucepan, combine:
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 1-inch cubes of ginger, peeled, minced or pressed, and juiced

For the ginger, I always buy fresh ginger in the produce section,
cut it into 1-inch chunks, and freeze it.
That way, I always have ginger on hand.
And it's much easier to get juice out of frozen ginger
than it is fresh.
Simply nuke the cubes about 23 seconds
and squeeze the juice out.
Then I run the cubes through a garlic press
and scrape off the first pulp that comes out and use that.

Combine all ingredients
and bring to a simmer.
Stir to dissolve the brown sugar.
Cut off heat.

Now, let's cook.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Add a film of oil.
I use peanut oil - it has a high smoke point.

When the oil gets hothothot (400°)
add in the broccoli and carrots.
Cook and stir for 1 - 1 1/2 minutes.

Add in the onions and peppers
and cook for another minute.
I like to buy those little bags
of small red, orange, and yellow peppers
and use those for my stir fries.
The colors are pretty.
And I save the seeds and plant them.
Double bonus!

Add, oh, about a scant 1/4 cup of water
and let it steam away.
The vegetables should be just crisp-tender now.

Transfer the vegetables to a bowl and cover.

Let the pan come back up to hothothot
with a film of oil
and add the shrimp.
About a minute on the first side,
then turn over, cook about 30 seconds, and...
... add in the cornstarch slurry
and ...
... add in the orange sauce.

Add in the vegetables.
Stir, about a minute, until thickened.

Serve over a bed of rice
with some toasted peanuts.