Thursday, October 23, 2014

Witch Finders Direct


*Apparently BBC has blocked this video. What a shame.*

If you enjoyed that, you'll definitely enjoy these Chocolate-Hazelnut Smooches, or as my kids like to call them, "Witch Hat Cookies"!


Witch Hat Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen.

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread (Nutella)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup orange sprinkles, or orange sugar
1 (9-ounce) package of chocolate candy kisses, unwrapped (Hershey's)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In another medium bowl (or stand mixer), place the chocolate hazelnut spread, butter, and both sugars. Using a hand mixer (or stand mixer), cream the ingredients together, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla extract and blend until incorporated. Stir in the dry ingredients, just until incorporated.

Shape the cookie dough into walnut-sized balls. Roll the balls in the orange sprinkles or orange sugar, pressing to adhere. Place the cookies on a heavy cookie sheet about 4 inches apart. (I put 8 cookies per sheet.) Bake for 6-8 minutes. (6 for softer cookies and 8 for crispier cookies.) Meanwhile, unwrap as many kisses as you need. Remove the cookies from the oven. Quickly place a chocolate kiss in the middle of each cookie and slightly press down, the puffed edges will crack. Return the cookies to the oven and bake for another 2 minutes. Cool the cookies on a wire rack. Yum!

Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis.

Video from CBBC Channel!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Don't Be A Devil!

Halloween is almost here, and my kids are already embracing their inner devils! Next to Christmas, Halloween is their most anticipated holiday. Perhaps it's the chill in the air, or maybe the costumes, but I'm absolutely sure it's the treats! To turn my devils into saints, I always make these awesome cupcakes by Giada De Laurentiis. They use store-bought chocolate cake mix, enhanced with orange juice and chocolate chips, then frosted with a delicious limoncello frosting (lemon juice for my kids). These are so good, you'd be a devil not to make them!


Chocolate Orange Cupcakes with Limoncello Frosting

Makes 24 cupcakes.

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:
1 box chocolate cake mix
Orange juice (instead of water in cake mix)
1 cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 cup diced candied orange peel (optional)

Frosting:
2 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons limoncello (or lemon juice for kids)*
2 tablespoons orange juice*
1 orange, zested
1/4 cup finely diced candied orange peel, for garnish (optional)

Directions:

To make the cupcakes: mix the chocolate cake mix according to package instructions, substituting orange juice for the water. Toss the chocolate chips with the flour. Fold the chocolate chips and the candied orange peel into the chocolate mixture. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners. Fill and bake the cupcakes according to package instructions. Let the cupcakes cool for 1 hour on a wire rack before frosting.

To make the frosting: combine all the ingredients except the candied orange peel in a medium bowl. Using a mixer, beat until smooth, about 2 minutes. Using a small spatula, place about 1 tablespoon of frosting on top of each cupcake. Top with a small sprinkle of candied orange peel.

*I find that the frosting is a bit runny, so be careful! Start by only adding 1 tablespoon limoncello (or lemon juice) and 1 tablespoon orange juice and see how that goes.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Lost Your Mojo?

"Mojo" is an interesting word. It can mean different things to different people. It can mean a magic spell, hex, or charm. It can refer to a magical charm bag used in hoodoo (not be be confused with voodoo) which originated in the Mississippi Delta area by African-Americans. It can also refer to someone's sex appeal, or lack thereof. However, mojo is a sauce consisting primarily of olive oil, salt, garlic, and other spices that originated in the Canary Islands. (For more on Canary Island cuisine, see Singing Canaries and Beastly Dogs?) But in Cuba and other islands of the Caribbean, where large Canarian emigration occurred, it is a sauce made with garlic, olive oil, and a citrus juice. It is typically used as a marinade or dip.

What do I do when I lose my mojo? I make Rick Bayless's "Garlicky Linguine with Seared Shrimp, Chipotle, and Queso Anejo!" It's like a Mexican shrimp scampi or Spaghetti Aglio e Olio and it is fabulous! You will need to make a batch of Rick's "Slow-Cooked Garlic Mojo," which will require approximately an hour of baking, but once you have that you can store it in the refrigerator for up to three months. (Just make sure the garlic is always covered with some olive oil.) As long as you have your mojo, this recipe takes mere minutes to complete! You've got to try it! I like to serve it with a simple salad, plenty of crusty bread, and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.


Garlicky Linguine with Seared Shrimp, Chipotle, and Queso Anejo

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
For the Slow-Cooked Garlic Mojo (FYI: You can make half a batch, if you prefer, and still have plenty for this recipe!)
4 large heads of garlic
2 cups fruity olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (Not the junk in a bottle!)

For the Shrimp and Pasta
2/3 cup Slow-Cooked Garlic Mojo (stir before measuring)
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
Salt
1-3 canned chipotle chiles en adobo, seeded and finely chopped (I use 3!)
1 pound dried linguine
2-3 tablespoons coarsely chopped watercress, parsley, or cilantro (I use parsley.)
3/4 cup grated Mexican queso anejo, Parmesan, or Romano (I use cotija cheese, which is like Mexican Parmesan and is easier for me to locate.)

Directions:
For the Mojo
Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Break the heads of garlic apart, then mash each clove with the side of a knife to release the clove from the papery skin. Stir together the garlic, oil, and salt in an 8x8-inch pan (make sure all the garlic is submerged), slide it into the oven and bake until the garlic is soft and lightly brown, about 45-55 minutes. Add the lime juice and return to the oven for 20 minutes for the garlic to absorb the lime and turn golden brown.

Using an old-fashioned potato masher or fork, mash the garlic into a coarse puree. Pour the mixture into a wide-mouth storage container and refrigerate it until you're ready to enjoy some deliciousness. It will keep in the refrigerator for up the three months as long as there's enough oil to keep the garlic covered.


For the Shrimp and Pasta
Fill a large (6-8 quart) pot about 2/3 full of water. Add 2 tablespoons salt, cover and bring to a boil over high heat.

Meanwhile, spoon 2 tablespoons of the oil from the mojo into a very large (12-inch) skillet. (I use my non-stick one, see Gadgets.) Set over medium-high heat. Pat the shrimp dry, sprinkle with salt and, when the oil is hot and looks shimmery, lay them in the skillet. Cook until the shrimp just lose their transclucency in the center, about 1 minute per side. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the chopped chiles and the rest of the mojo.

Slide the pasta into the boiling water, stir, then let boil until al dente according to package directions.


Remove 1/2 cup of the pasta water, then pour the pasta into a colander set in a sink. Return the pasta and the 1/2 cup water to the pot. Scrape in the shrimp mixture, sprinkle with the chopped watercress, parsley, or cilantro, toss together and divide among warm plates. Sprinkle with the grated cheese and serve without hesitation.

Friday, October 3, 2014

A Tin Pot, a Coffee Sack, and a Bag of Seeds

John Chapman was born in Massachusetts in 1774. He served in the Continental Army under George Washington during the Revolutionary War. After ending his military service, he apprenticed at a nursery in Pennsylvania, where he would pick apple seeds from the pomace produced by a local cider mill. While apples grown from seed are most likely too unpalatable to eat, they are perfect to make cider. John realized a great opportunity. He packed up his seeds and headed west in a hollowed out log, barefoot, donning his tin pot on his head, and wearing a coffee sack as a shirt! He would stop along uninhabited places along the river banks, plant some of the seeds, and hire a local boy to maintain and sell the trees to future new settlers, who no doubt would be eager for some hard cider! John, who became known as "Johnny Appleseed," would then travel further west, planting his apple nurseries along the way. 

In addition to his love of apples, John was a missionary for The New Church. He would offer to tell stories and read the church doctrine in exchange for a place to sleep, if the weather dictated. According to The Botany of Desire, by Michael Pollan (one of my favorite books ever!), John preferred the company of children and Native Americans. In fact, it is rumored that he'd once been engaged to marry a ten-year-old girl, but she broke his heart. (Creepy!) According to Robert Price, who wrote a biography about John in 1954, he "had the thick bark of queerness on him." And finally from Pollan, "By the 1830s, John was operating a chain of nurseries that reached all the way from western Pennsylvania through central Ohio and into Indiana. It was in Fort Wayne that Chapman died in 1845-wearing the infamous coffee sack, some say, yet leaving an estate that included some 1,200 acres of prime real estate. The barefoot crank died a wealthy man."

So in honor of John's apples, and the fact that apple cider is now available in stores, I want to share this wonderful recipe for "Cider and Sage Pork!" Not only is this recipe quite delicious, it's easy and quick! Basically, you slice a pork tenderloin into medallions, sear them, set them aside, and make a sauce of shallots, sage, sherry vinegar, mustard, apple cider, and a splash of cream, all in the same pan! Done! I like to serve it with green beans (but without the pecans and basil) and whipped sweet potatoes (substituting pure maple syrup for the chipotle). It makes a beautiful fall dish that is as interesting as Johnny Appleseed!


Cider and Sage Pork

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 1/4 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed and silver skin removed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup shallots, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh sage, chopped
4 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup apple cider (not hard cider, usually in the produce area of the grocery)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
Fresh sage leaves for garnish (optional)

Directions:

Cut the pork tenderloin into 12 pieces. (Tip: Cut the tenderloin in half, then cut each half in half, then cut each of those into three pieces. Voila!) 


Sprinkle both sides of the pork medallions with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove pork from pan; cover to keep warm.

Add remaining oil, shallots, and chopped sage; cook 2 minutes. Stir in the vinegar. Whisk broth, cider, mustard, and cornstarch together. Add the mixture to the pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in cream. Serve with the pork and garnish with sage leaves, if desired.

Recipe slightly adapted from CookingLight.