Geek Chef

I cook, I talk, I geek

Classic Comfort June 24, 2010

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 9:11 pm
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Tonight I made an American classic,  meatloaf and mashed potatoes. I made the meatloaf with ground turkey, a lighter and healthier option and added a little brown gravy mix to keep the meaty flavor.

Turkey Meatloaf

1 pound ground turkey
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 cup sliced mushrooms, baby bella or shitake
3 tablespoons brown gravy mix
1 egg
1/4 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon paprika
dash of cayenne
salt and pepper

Mix turkey, breadcrumbs, mushrooms, gravy and egg until blended, but as lightly as possible. Fit into a baking dish or loaf pan. Mix ketchup, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper. Spread on top of the meatloaf and bake for 40 minutes.

Mashed Red Potatoes

1 pound large red potatoes
1/3 milk
1/4 butter
garlic salt and pepper to taste

Peel and dice the potatoes and boil in salted water until tender. Drain potatoes and return to the pot. In a smaller pot, heat milk and butter until melted. Smash the potatoes and fold in the milk and butter, season to taste.


Name that drink! June 7, 2010

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 11:08 am
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I made a really tasty libation the other night, an attempt to fight off heat and boredom. Turned out really well but I don’t have a name for it. I’ll let you guys decide, best suggestion wins.

Summer Cocktail

1 bottle ginger beer, ginger ale if you can’t find beer
4 oz Vodka
3 oz bourbon
2 oz triple sec
1/2 can of frozen orange juice, slightly melted
juice of 1/2 lemon
lots of ice

Pour all the fluids into a pitcher and mix well, add ice and serve.

Serves 3 or 4


Souffles to go May 31, 2010

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 5:22 pm
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This weekend I was invited to a birthday party. I asked the birthday girl what I should bring and she jokingly suggested a few souffles. Not wanting to disappoint, I decided to make mini souffles. One for each invitee, 18 total.

I was a little worried how I was going to pull it off, souffles start to deflate very quickly and are best served right away. Also, where am I going to find enough ramekins?! Well, solution one, I just got over it. I figured I’d just fill any sunken in bits with whipped cream. The second, was aluminum foil cupcake tins. I cut the tins into individual cups, rolling the sides in to prevent sharp edges. I placed the single tins in a uncut tin to prevent tipping over.

The following recipe is for 18 cupcake tins, 6 small ramekins or 1 large ramekin.

Larger version, very deflated but super yummy

Mocha Souffle

8 large egg whites, room temperature
3 large egg yolks
7 ounces finely chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus for preparing the molds
1/2 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
2 packets of Via instant coffee
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Brush cupcake tins or ramekins with melted butter, then dust with powdered sugar. Place in freezer to re-solidify the butter.

Set an oven rack in lower third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.

Put the chocolate, instant coffee, vanilla and butter in a medium heatproof (pyrex or metal) bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with an inch or so of water to a very slow simmer; set the bowl over the water and stir the chocolate occasionally until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Set aside.

Combine the egg yolks and 2 tablespoons of sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer or large bowl and beat until frothy. Very lightly fold the yolks into the chocolate mixture.

Remove prepared ramekins from freezer. Place egg whites and cream of tartar into a large metal bowl. Beat on medium until frothy; then gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and increase speed to high. Beat until the whites hold a stiff but not dry.

Working quickly, fold about a third of the egg whites into the chocolate to lighten; then fold in remaining whites until blended. Gently ladle or spoon the souffle mixture into the ramekins, and place on a baking sheet. (Level off the surface with a straight edge, scraping any excess mixture back into the bowl.)

Immediately bake until the souffle rises about 1 1/2 inches from the ramekins, and the tops are touched with brown, about 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven, dust with confectioners’ sugar, or a dollop of whipped cream and serve immediately.


Battle Mushroom May 5, 2010

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 3:17 pm
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My friend Crunchy Potato threw her second annual competitive potluck recently. This time the theme ingredient was mushrooms. My entry was beer battered shitake poppers with truffle aioli. It went over very well. Here’s the recipe, sorry for the funky photo.

Beer Battered Shitake Poppers with Truffle Aioli

1lbs shitake mushrooms
1 12 oz can beer
2 cups flour
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
dash of cayenne pepper
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup truffle oil

For the ailoi:

Crush garlic and mix with lemon juice and spices. Mix yolks and olive oil with a blender, slowly add lemon mixture. Mixture will start to fluff and become yellowish white, add truffle oil and mix for another minute. Refidgerate.

Heat vegatable oil in a large deep fry pan while making batter. Temp should be about 260 degrees when ready.

Mix flour and spices until blended, then add add egg whites (leftover from aioli) and beer (of your choosing). Blend well, mixture should be light and fluffy.

Rinse and dry mushrooms, dip in batter – giving a little swirl to make sure its fully covered and drop gently into the oil. Depending on the size of your pan, you can do about 6-8 at a time, be careful not to overload your pan. Putting in too many at a time will lower the temp of the oil and leave the poppers greasy. Remove the poppers when they start to turn golden brown, place on some paper towels and then transfer to a rack to cool.


Black as my soul May 2, 2010

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 6:58 pm
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Another candidate for the “scary food” potluck at work was Spaghetti al Nero di Seppia, or pasta with squid in it’s own ink. Shocking, isn’t it? Really tasty too.

For this photo shoot I also used pasta with ink in the dough, which really added to the effect. It is not for the faint of heart but totally worth trying. I got the pasta and ink on, you can also find it at most specialty food stores.

My recipe calls for whole squid, however cleaning whole squid can be scary on it’s own, feel free to buy calamari rings instead. You can get them frozen at most markets.

Spaghetti al Nero di Seppia

1 onion, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 packets of squid ink
4 medium sized calamari (squids), cleaned cut into pieces
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Sautee onions in olive oil on a medium setting until soft, add garlic and sautee for a few more minutes. Add calamari, pepper flakes (more or less to liking) and herbs, then wine. Let wine cook down for 5 to 10 minutes, then add tomatoes and ink. Simmer for 30 minutes and serve over pasta with fresh parmesan, asiago or pecorino cheese.


All Hail the King February 22, 2010

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 11:29 pm
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This is a little late, but still plenty yummy. King cake is a sweet made and consumed during the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras. Since I’m not one for timing or rules, I made it after lent. Enjoy!

King Cake

1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 stick butter
3 tablespoons dark rum
8 ounces cream cheese
2/3 cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon vanilla

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon milk

Heat milk and stir in 1/4 cup of butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

Add the cooled milk mixture. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt and spices. Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. When risen, punch down and divide dough in half.

Melt butter in a small saucepan, add pecans and stir for 2 minutes. Add rum and brown sugar, stir until melted. Pour into a bowl let cool for 5 minutes then fold in cream cheese and vanilla.

Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

Roll out dough into long 4″ wide strips, transfer to the cookie sheet, spread the filling and roll into a tube. Join the ends to make a ring and cut slits 1″ apart. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Mix powdered sugar and milk, frost while warm and sprinkle with colored sugar.


Feeding the Masses, Second Course February 12, 2010

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 9:57 am

For the second course, I went for something yummy, cheesy and super garlicky. This turned out to be a lot more work than I was expecting, but it was so good.

Artichoke Mushroom Lasagna

Garlic Sauce:
2 whole garlic cloves
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons herbes de provonce
dash of nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

1 cup sliced portobello mushrooms, diced
1/2 dried wild mushrooms
1 large leek, sliced finely
2 jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
3 tablespoons butter

2 boxes of lasagna pasta
2 cups grated mozzarella

Boil one cup of water and add to dried mushrooms, let sit for about a half hour while they rehydrate. Drain liquid and save fluid pasta sauce.

Sauté leeks and portobellos in butter. Chop hydrated wild mushrooms and add to mixture, add artichokes, mix well and set aside.

Preheat oven to 450. Cut the tops off the garlic cloves, drizzle with olive oil and brush or use hands to coat the clove completely. Place on a cookie sheet or loosely wrap in foil. Roast until golden and caramelized. Let cool and remove cloves, you can squeeze the head and most of the garlic will come out.

In a saucepan, add garlic and wine and allow wine to reduce by half. After wine has reduced, add the remaining sauce ingredients and whisk well until incorporated.

Boil a large pot of water, drizzle a little olive oil in the water and add pasta, cook for a few minutes, pasta should be al dente. Drain and let cool.

Assemble lasagna, layering pasta, cheese, sauce and filling. Cover top with more cheese and bake at 350 until golden and bubbly.