Monday, March 30, 2015

Mint Ice Cream Sandwich Featuring The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen Bake Shop Signature Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mint Ice Cream Sandwich Featuring The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen Bake Shop Signature Chocolate Chip Cookies




A couple of months ago, Mrs. Stuntman came home from the supermarket with some ice cream sandwiches. At first, I couldn't understand the purchase. Why eat frozen food in the dead of winter? I might have even mocked her, suggesting that she could even store them outside overnight as it was colder there than in the freezer. Alas, a couple of nights later, I found myself reaching for one as I was watching television. As I was eating it, I was reminded of my favorite ice cream sandwich, It's-It. For the uninitiated, it's ice cream sandwiched between two oatmeal cookies, then dipped in chocolate. As I was eating the dessert, I thought to myself, I could do this better. Taking inspiration from the It's-It, I really liked the idea of using cookies in the dish instead of a chocolate wafer found in many store bought varieties which made me think of my friend Susan of The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen.

You might remember Susan from last summer when she prepared a Peach Slab Pie for my Adding Some Class with... series. If you'll remember, I noted at the time that she had successfully funded a Kickstarter campaign to open a bake shop. Well, I'm happy to announce (if you were unaware previously) that the bake shop is now open for business! The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen Bake Shop features Susan's Signature Chocolate Chip Cookies, Triple Choc-o-lot Cookies, Peanut Butter Cookies, Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich Cookies, in addition to a Cookie Sampler Package that contains 4 each: Original Chocolate Chip, Triple Choc-olot Cookies and Peanut Butter Cookies plus a Cookie of the Month Club where she highlights cookies with seasonal flavors. Each order arrives in a beautiful gift box that contains cellophane pouches with two cookies in each pouch (or single-packed in the case of her Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich Cookies).


After making my own purchase of Susan's cookies, I can highly recommend you do the same. In my case, I used Susan's Signature Chocolate Chip Cookies in this dish. If you have been reading this website for any length of time, you know I'm not a fan of taking short cuts, so you might be asking yourself why are you taking a short cut here? I would reply with is this a short cut? Had I baked my own, I would have used the same quality of ingredients Susan uses and prepared them with the same care which is a huge contrast to the mechanically prepared confections found at the supermarket. The mint flavored ice cream was made to appease my daughter because it's one of her favorite flavors in addition to it's visual appeal.

The Challenge

Successfully complement cookies from The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen Bake Shop.

The Source

I adapted David Lebovitz's Mint Chip Ice Cream recipe.

Ingredients

1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 pinch salt
2 cups packed fresh mint leaves
5 large egg yolks
1 to 2 drops green food coloring (optional)
1 dozen The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen Signature Chocolate Chip Cookies

Method

1. Combine the milk, sugar, remaining heavy cream, salt and mint leaves in a small saucepan and scald over medium-low heat. Once hot, shut off the heat, cover and let the mixture sit for 60 minutes to allow the mint leaves to steep and let the flavors infuse. After the hour has elapsed, strain out the mint leaves, and discard but not before pressing down on them against the strainer with a spatula to extract as much flavor as they can muster.


2. Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl and set aside. Rewarm the mint-infused milk, then slowly whisk in a small portion into the bowl with the egg yolks to warm the yolks. Combine the warmed yolks back into the infused milk and cook over medium-low to medium heat until the mixture reaches 170o Fahrenheit, stirring constantly until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Strain the infused milk and eggs into a bowl with the remaining 1 cup heavy cream and green food coloring (if using), then let it cool. Cover, then refrigerate overnight. Churn it in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.



3. To serve, place one cookie on a plate, flat side up then top with a scoop of ice cream, then a second cookie, pressing down on the second cookie so the ice cream fills it's circumference.

Successful?

The mint flavor was a little strong but it still complemented the cookies well. Once again, I highly recommend you to patronize Susan's bake shop, but if you're unable to do so, please 'Like' her facebook page, add her on G+, follow her on twitter, Instagram and pinterest.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Roasted Lamb Chops, Fontina Cheese Polenta with Asparagus and Mushrooms for a Spring Fling #SundaySupper

Roasted Lamb Chops, Fontina Cheese Polenta with Asparagus and Mushrooms for a Spring Fling #SundaySupper




This week, the team at #SundaySupper has decided to celebrate the change of seasons with a theme of Spring Fling. For some strange reason, I associate lamb with spring. Maybe because it's a popular entrée on Easter Sunday? Lamb isn't the only thing that comes to mind when I think of spring, however. Possibilities are almost endless with things like artichokes, ramps, carrots, strawberries and fennel at their peak. I only wish this theme was a little later in the season because many items don't come into season until April or May.

It's no secret that I rely on my copy of The Flavor Bible and this is no different. When I looked at lamb, it suggested it paired well with asparagus, polenta and morel mushrooms, which are all in season at this time of year. The only place I found locally that had morels was Whole Foods but they wanted $50 per pound, so I used a cheaper alternative.

The Challenge

Create a composed dish using seasonal ingredients.

The Source

I paired a rack of lamb recipe from Simply Recipes with an adaptation of a polenta and mushroom dish from Fine Cooking influenced by a side dish from Taste of Home.

Ingredients

2 racks of lamb, 1 to 2 pounds each, Frenched
1/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary, divided
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
4 to 5 cloves minced garlic, divided
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 cups whole milk
1 cup corn meal
1 pound fresh asparagus, tough ends trimmed, then cut into 1 to 2 inch lengths
1 8-ounce package sliced cremini mushrooms
1 1/2 cups Fontina cheese

Method

1. Marinate the lamb. Combine half of the rosemary, thyme, garlic, 2 tablespoons olive oil and the racks of lamb in a resealable plastic bag. Season with salt and pepper. Ensure the marinade covers all sides of the lamb and refrigerate overnight. Let the lamb come to room temperature before roasting.

2. Prepare the polenta: In a large saucepan, bring the milk and chicken stock to a boil, then season with salt. Whisk in the corn meal slowly so it doesn't clump. Once it has been added, reduce the heat to medium low and stir occasionally until all the liquid has been absorbed, approximately 30 minutes.


3. Roast the lamb. While the polenta cooks, preheat the oven to 450° Fahrenheit. Remove the lamb from the marinade and discard the marinade. Reseason the lamb with salt and pepper, then place on a foil-lined sheet pan with the fat side up. Roast the lamb, first by searing it at 450 for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 300° Fahrenheit for 10 to 20 minutes until the desired doneness has reached. Cook to 135° Fahrenheit for medium rare. Tent with foil and set aside for 15 minutes to allow for carryover cooking while you finish the dish.


4. Sauté the vegetables and finish the dish. While the lamb roasts, add the remaining olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Once the oil starts to smoke, add the asparagus and cook until it softens, approximately. Add the mushrooms, then the other half of the rosemary, thyme and garlic and season with salt and pepper and cook until the vegetables are cooked through. Stir the Fontina into the polenta and adjust the seasoning if necessary, then cut the lamb into individual chops. To plate, spoon some polenta on a plate, top with the asparagus and mushrooms and then three to four chops. Serve immediately.


Successful?

There are a couple of execution items to discuss but first I want to thank Valerie of Lifestyle Food Artistry for co-hosting this week's event with me. It has been a pleasure to work with her.

For the polenta, I substituted chicken stock and milk for water that the original recipe uses because I felt there was an opportunity to layer flavor that wouldn't otherwise be there with water. In addition, I felt the sear on the lamb was insufficient and recommend to pan sear the rack of lamb first before finishing it in the oven similar to the dish I prepared 2 years ago. Despite these flaws, it still was a well balanced dish from a flavor profile standpoint.

Other #SundaySupper dishes this week:

Beverages
Appetizers
Sides
Entreés
Desserts

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Preview of a Spring Fling #SundaySupper

Flowers Have Started to Bloom in Western Washington. It Must be Spring!

The spring equinox will occur this upcoming Friday. When I was a California resident, it would not be a remarkable event but I have gained a new appreciation for the four seasons since I am coming out of my first winter here in the Pacific Northwest. (However, parents of my daughter's classmates tell me that the last three months have been unusually warm and I haven't been properly baptized yet.)

Spring to me means that things are defrosting from the cold winter, a good, deep clean is on order for the abode and I need to file my tax return soon. From ramps to morels, spring also means that a number of fruits and vegetables will come into season, so the team at #SundaySupper Movement has decided to mark the occasion by featuring seasonal dishes in it's Spring Fling event which will occur this upcoming Sunday, March 22nd. I have the pleasure of co-hosting it with Valerie of Lifestyle Food Artistry. One of our responsibilities is to introduce the bloggers and their respective dishes we anticipate for the event, so I offer the following preview and look forward to seeing you Sunday.

Beverages
Appetizers
Sides
Entreés
Desserts

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Risotto with Mascarpone and Prosciutto

Risotto with Mascarpone and Prosciutto




A couple of weeks ago, I asked my facebook friends' favorite risotto flavors. Parmesan was a popular flavor. Mushrooms was also fairly common. I was a little surprised by the answers given primarily because they're ubiquitous. Furthermore, I examined several Italian restaurant menus but I didn't find much more creativity with their risottos.

I don't know about you, but I get bored with common flavors. It's the reason why I've profiled one with Japanese ingredients, one where I substituted red wine for white and not one but two versions where I replaced the Arborio rice with another starch.

You might be curious to note that I used rather pedestrian flavors but I didn't prepare this risotto to demonstrate interesting ingredient pairings for the sake of taste. The reason I'm presenting this dish to you is due to it's viscosity. A risotto is normally finished off with butter and parmesan but in this case, gruyere and mascarpone is substituted for the parmesan which resulted in a creamier consistency. In addition, the prosciutto also added a contrast in texture because it is crispy, when prepared in the manner the recipe suggests. Other than tasting it for seasoning after the herbs and cheese have been added, I didn't alter this dish from foodnetwork.com so I kindly request you go there for it.

Successful?

I'm happy to report that this risotto has replaced the one with peas and bacon as Mrs. Stuntman's new favorite. In fact, I have a funny feeling this dish will be making a encore appearance on my dinner table sometime soon. I can only conclude that there is something to these vanilla flavors after all. Whew knew?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Duck Confit Agnolotti with Wild Mushroom Sauce

Duck Confit Agnolotti with Wild Mushroom Sauce




You know all those quick and easy recipes that make up a significant portion of the internet? This isn't one of them. I'm very proud of this dish because it's one of my most ambitious plates of food I've constructed to date. If you replicate it, plan on starting it Friday evening to be served for Sunday dinner.

Last month, I tried something new when I seared duck breasts. You might remember that I bought a whole bird for the dish so I had parts leftover and I decided to prepare the leg quarters in a confit. Confit is a French technique that was used to preserve food before refrigeration was invented and it involves salt curing meats before poaching it in fat over low heat. It has since become somewhat of a novelty for it's flavor.

Since I have already made several ravioli dishes, I wanted to attempt another filled pasta shape I previously had yet to attempt and thought the agnolotto would be challenging. I would call the agnolotti a cousin to the ravioli because the difference between the two is that the pasta in a raviolo is cut to form its shape on all sides but the agnolotto pasta is folded over so that only three sides are cut.

The Challenge

Successfully execute cooking techniques not previously attempted.

The Source

I took the confit recipe from page 183 of Think Like a Chef by Tom Colicchio with Catherine Young, Lori Silverbush and Sean Fri and used it in the pasta filling recipe on page 160 of the recipe guide from the Top Chef University DVD set. Furthermore, I applied my pasta dough ingredients from pages 102 to 104 of Cook Like A Rock Star by Anne Burrell with Suzanne Lenzer to the agnolotti procedure I found on thekitchn.com and paired it with Chef Wolfgang Puck's mushroom sauce on foodnetwork.com

Ingredients

FOR THE DUCK CONFIT:
3 tablespoons kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 shallot, peeled and sliced thin
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 duck leg quarters
Black pepper, coarsely ground
Duck fat, as needed (I was able to get away with one 12-ounce container, but more may be needed)

FOR THE PASTA FILLING:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 shallot, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup button mushrooms, chopped fine
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Meat from duck confit recipe
1/2 cup plus more as needed chicken stock, divided
1 tablespoon Italian parsley

FOR THE PASTA DOUGH:
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 plus 4 large eggs, divided
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons water, plus more as needed
Kosher salt

FOR THE SAUCE:
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup mushroom trimmings
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 sprig fresh thyme
8 ounces assorted wild mushrooms (I used a box containing trumpets, White Beech, and Brown Hon-shemeji), trimmed and sliced
1 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Watercress leaves, for garnish.

Method

1. Cure the duck. Add 1 tablespoon kosher salt in an even layer to the bottom of a dish. Scatter half of the garlic, shallot and thyme over the salt, then place the duck leg quarters on top of the herbs. Add the remaining salt, garlic, shallot and thyme over the leg quarters then season with freshly ground black pepper. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Duck leg quarters before curing overnight

2. Finish the confit. Preheat the oven to 225° Fahrenheit. While you're waiting for the oven, melt the duck fat over medium low heat in a saucepan. Remove the duck leg quarters from the cure and discard the cure. Brush off any salt and herbs stuck to the duck legs, then add them to high-sided baking dish in a single layer. Pour enough duck fat over the leg quarters to completely submerge them in the fat, then place the baking dish in the oven to slowly simmer the leg quarters until the meat is tender and can be separated easily from the bone, approximately 2 to 3 hours. Remove the confit from the oven and set aside to cool. The confit can be stored in the refrigerator in it's own fat covered in plastic wrap for up to one month.

Duck leg quarters just about to go into the oven

Duck leg quarters finished in the oven

3. Prepare the agnolotti filling. If the duck fat has solidified, I recommend putting the baking dish with the confit back into the oven at 200° Fahrenheit or cooler (if your oven has a warm setting) until liquefied. Remove the skin from the leg quarters, then pull the meat off the bone using a fork. Shred the meat similar to pulled pork. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil starts to smoke, add the shallots, garlic and mushrooms then sweat, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add in the shredded duck confit, then deglaze with 1/2 cup chicken stock. Simmer and reduce until the mixture is wet but not runny. Add in the parsley and set aside to cool. Once cool, add the contents of the skillet to a blender and purée, adding chicken stock, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the filling has the consistency similar toothpaste. Remove the pasta filling to a disposable pastry bag or a gallon-size resealable plastic bag and place in the refrigerator until the pasta dough has been prepared.

Shredded duck confit

Pasta filling before the purée

4. Prepare the pasta dough. In a medium bowl, combine 4 eggs, 1 egg yolk, olive oil and water, then set aside. On a clean flat surface, place the flour in the shape of a mound, then dig a hole large enough to hold the egg mixture in the middle of the flour so that it looks like a volcano. Season the hole (called a well) with salt. Empty the eggs into the well, then stir with a fork in a circular motion, slowly incorporating flour into the wet ingredients but being mindful not to allow any of the egg mixture to spill over the sides of the flour. Once the eggs contain enough flour so they are no longer in danger of spilling over the well, add in the rest of the flour with your hands. Once the dough has become homogeneous, knead the dough by rolling it over onto itself with the heels of the palms of your hands, then turning it 90 degrees and repeating the process until it becomes tacky but not sticky, adding more flour or water, as needed. Once the dough has reached the proper texture, wrap it in plastic wrap and let the dough rest at room temperature for about 1 hour.

Finished pasta dough

5. Roll the dough. Open the setting of a pasta roller to its widest. Cut off a portion of the pasta dough and flatten it, ensuring to re-wrap the remaining pasta dough that isn't being rolled. Dust a clean working surface with flour and pass the portion of the dough through the pasta roller, then fold it into thirds and pass the dough through the roller a second time at its widest setting, dusting the dough with flour if it feels too sticky, as needed. Fold it into thirds again, passing the dough through the pasta roller a third time at the widest setting and again, dusting the dough flour if necessary. Adjust the pasta roller to the next thinnest setting (i.e. if the roller is widest at setting 1, switch it to setting 2), and pass through the pasta roller just once at that setting. Continue to pass the dough through the roller once at the next thinnest setting, dusting the dough with flour as required, until your pasta sheets have reached the desired thinness. (My Atlas machine has six settings, but I rolled my dough to setting 5.) The pasta sheets will most likely become too long so cut them crosswise so they are more easily managed. Once the dough has been rolled, dust liberally with flour on both sides, cover with a clean towel and set aside. Repeat this procedure with another portion of dough until all portions have been rolled.

Pasta rolled about halfway through the settings

6. Construct the agnolotti. Beat the remaining egg in a small bowl. Dust a clean working surface with flour and lay a pasta sheet on top, re-covering the unused pasta sheets. Cut a small hole in one corner of the piping bag and pipe a line of filling lengthwise down the middle of the pasta sheet, then apply the beaten egg to one side of the pasta sheet on either side of the filling.

Pasta filling piped onto pasta sheet with one side brushed with the beaten egg

Fold the pasta sheet over lengthwise on top of the filling and use the egg wash to seal. Make indentations into the pasta sheet on top of the filling by pinching the pasta with a finger to form individual agnolotti pouches, pushing out any air in between.


Cut the agnolotti, first lengthwise along the pasta sheet to remove the excess pasta, then on the indentations to create each agnolotto.


Repeat this process with the remaining pasta sheets and filling until the pasta and filling have been used. Place the agnolotti on a flour-dusted sheet pan in a single layer to freeze if not using immediately. Once the pasta has frozen, transfer the agnolotti to a resealable bag for easier storage.

7. Prepare the sauce and finish the dish. Start the sauce by preparing a mushroom stock. Combine the mushroom trimmings with the chicken stock in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce the mixture to 1 cup, then strain out the mushrooms and reserve the mushroom stock.


While the stock is reducing, fire a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil. In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once the oil starts to smoke, add the shallots, garlic and thyme and sweat, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until lightly browned, approximately 5 minutes. Deglaze with the reserved mushroom stock and reduce for an additional 5 minutes. Stir in the cream and simmer until the sauce has thickened, then season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.


Put the agnolotti into the water and boil, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the agnolotti from the boiling water once they float to the top and toss with the sauce. To plate, spoon some sauce into warmed bowls, top with agnolotti and garnish with watercress leaves.

Successful?

Before I proceed with the execution of the dish, I need to review some items. First, I should specify that I used my copy of The Flavor Bible to pair ingredients which suggested pairing wild mushrooms, shallots and watercress with duck confit.

I have been considering a separate pasta dough post but have not been able to complete it because my hands get rather messy as I'm kneading the dough and then again when I'm rolling the pasta. In fact, Mrs. Stuntman took the picture above of a pasta sheet in the process of being passed through the roller. If you need further explanation on how to prepare pasta dough, I invite you to view Chef Tom Johnson's instructional YouTube video which is the best demonstration I've found. Chef Johnson's personality is a little dry but his advice is solid. Mrs. Stuntman also took the final picture of the plated dish above.

I recommend sparingly seasoning the pasta filling in step 3 and the sauce in step 7 because, as I was shredding the confit, I tasted a scrap and noticed the meat being on the edge of too salty.

The dish itself was a little rich so I might pair this pasta with a different sauce, however Mrs. Stuntman enjoyed it and requested I prepare it again.

Don't forget! You have a until Saturday to enter my giveaway of Krayl Funch's book, An Appealing Plan: A Year Of Everyday Celebrations. Please click here for more information.

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