Geek Chef

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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.

 

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

Bread
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

Filling
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

Frosting
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.

 

Vanilla+Ginger=Yum! January 8, 2010

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 3:48 pm
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I have fallen in love with the vanilla beans from beanilla.com, they are of the finest quality and a great value.

Today I present one of my favorites, Vanilla Ginger Creme Brulée. This dish is on its way to becoming my signature dessert.

Custard is wonderfully simple to make and so rich and delicious. The addition of ginger was an idea I had to give the custard more depth. Using real, fresh vanilla beans instead of extract or that dried up old stuff you get in the spice jar is necessary to give the custard a luxurious taste and Beanilla’s beans from Tonga make it absolutely sinful. Vanilla beans from Tonga are often used by gourmet chocolate makers for the bold, pronounced, and unique flavor. This type of bean shines through the complex flavor of my brûlée.

Fun Fact: Tonga only produces 144 tons of Vanilla Beans annually. These rare and highly sought after beans are impossible to buy online, except at beanilla.com.

Ok! Enough gushing about the vanilla, here’s the recipe…

Vanilla Ginger Creme Brûlée

6 egg yolks
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup sugar, fine grain bakers sugar is best
2 vanilla beans
2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger

Garnish:

12-18 thin slices of ginger (2 or 3 per serving)
1 cup of sugar
3 tablespoons of Beanilla’s Vanilla Fleur de Sel (or regular sea salt and half of one bean split and seeded)

Start by making the garnish the night before or earlier if you can – the longer it sits the better.

In an airtight container, mix sugar, (vanilla) and salt. If you are using a half bean here, cut the bean lengthwise and use your knife to scrape out some of the seeds from the bean, put the bean and the seeds into the mixture and give it a good stir with your knife to incorporate. Peel and thinly slice ginger into several rounds, like the ones you would see next to your wasabi, and drop into the container. Place the lid on the container and shake until the ginger is completely covered. Keep sealed and let sit at room temperature overnight or longer. Every once in a while shake the container to help the flavors infuse. This results in candied ginger for garnish and the most delicious sugar for the brûlée.

Now the custard.

Separate 6 eggs. I use a three bowl method – two medium-sized bowls and one small. You break and separate each egg into the small bowl, then pour the uncontaminated whites from the small bowl into the larger bowl and the yolks into the other. That way if you break a yolk it only effects that one egg instead of the whole batch. Hold on to the whites for meringue cookies or anything else you can think of, they will keep well in a sealed container for a few days.

Preheat the over to 300 degrees. Add sugar to the yolks and whisk until creamy and set aside. In a medium pot and a medium temperature, slowly boil cream and vanilla beans – splitting and seeding like mentioned above. Whisk cream occasionally, when the cream starts to boil, lower the heat and remove the beans. Slowly pour in the egg yolk mixture – whisking quickly to prevent curdling. You can also pour a little bit of the cream into the bowl first to temper the yolks before pouring into the pot. Continue to whisk for about five minutes and then take off heat.

Set up about 6 small ramekins (ceramic cups and small wide mouth glass jars work great too!) or one large ramekin in a baking dish and pour equal amounts of the custard into the dishes. Then carefully fill the baking dish about halfway with water, not getting water in the custard – the sprayer on your faucet works well. Place dish into the oven, center rack works best and bake for about 15-20 min. The custard should look solid but slightly giggly. Remove ramekins from the water bath and chill in the fridge for at least 15 min – you can make these a day ahead, adding the brûlée just before serving.

Remove the pieces of ginger from the container and shake off the excess sugar and place on a cookie sheet. *Take the vanilla bean and place in a small bottle or jar and fill with vodka, store it in a cool dark place and in a few weeks you will have vanilla extract!

Sprinkle the now infused sugar over the custard, giving it a good layer. Using a brûlée torch or the broiler of your oven, melt the sugar until it bubbles and turns golden. Using the torch, or broiler also give the slices of ginger a quick once over, not until brown just glossy. Place a few pieces on each dish and serve right away.

 

Cranky Cookies January 3, 2010

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 10:58 pm
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I’ve been in a bad mood today. I think it’s the cold weather and the fact that my vacation is over and I have to go back to work tomorrow. So to cheer myself up, I decided to make chocolate chunk cookies. I enjoy comfort eating, but I prefer comfort cooking (then eating), I feel like I accomplished something, burning a few calories and having something yummy to eat.

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter, softened
2 eggs
1 large bar of dark chocolate
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch of baking soda

Unwrap one of your favorite brands of chocolate and chop into chunks. Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl until blended and creamy. Add vanilla and eggs and mix well, add chocolate chunks and then fold in flour mixture.
Place bowl in fridge to chill for 30 min. Preheat oven to 350 and drop spoonfuls of dough onto a baking sheet, allowing room for dough to spread. Bake for about 10 min or until cookies or golden.

 

Fun with food December 29, 2009

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 3:34 pm
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This is a fun treat to serve at dinner parties and potlucks. It requires little to no actual cooking but a fair deal of creativity and assembly. Looking for ingredients can be tricky, but it can be fun and spark creativity.

This is less of a recipe and more suggestions for materials. Have fun and feel free to explore.

Candy Sushi

Nori:
fruit roll up
soy paper

Rice:
rice crispy treats
marshmallows
sweet glutinous rice/ thai coconut rice (recipe follows)
marzipan
twinkies
angel food cake

Filling:
swedish fish
gummy worms
dried fruit

Extra Stuff:
sprinkles
sesame seeds
red hots
wasabi peas
candied ginger

Take some or all of the above ingredients and play with your food! Not sure how else to explain it and I think it’s best to keep the instructions minimal so you can explore the possibilities.

Thai Coconut Rice

1 1/2 cup sweet glutinous rice
1 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup sugar

Rinse rice and soak for a few hours and up to overnight. Steam rice until tender, about 15 minutes. While rice is steaming, mix  coconut milk and sugar in a small saucepan and boil. reduce heat and stir regularly allowing milk to reduce. Dump out rice until a bowl and fold in the coconut milk. Allow rice to cool before serving or working into sushi.

 

Cookie Overload December 28, 2009

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 4:25 pm
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Tis the season for sweets and goodies…Ok, well the holiday season is almost over and I am up to my ears in cookies and candies – but I still love them and I’m sure you do too. So this year, instead of trying to finish up the last of them before New Years so I can fulfill my resolution of losing the weight gained from holiday indulgences. I’m making a more productive resolution – perfecting my recipes and sharing them with my readers. To misquote ZeFrank, “indulging, so you don’t have to”, enjoy!

Today’s recipe was a cookie invention of necessity, sort of. I made crème brûlée (recipe coming soon) using several egg yolks, which left me with several unused egg whites.  Meringue seemed like the answer to my question “what do I do with all these fracking egg whites?!”

Once you have gotten the hang of beating egg whites these cookies are a snap to make. They do require a long time in the oven, so keep that in mind when making them.

Mocha Meringue Cookies

6 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar, baker’s sugar or fine grain works best
1 1/2 cup bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate, chopped or in chip form
2 packets of Starbucks Via instant coffee or 4 tablespoons of instant coffee
pinch of cream of tartar

Preheat oven too its lowest setting, about 200 degrees. Mix sugar and instant coffee (I like Via for flavor and the fine crystals dissolve quickly) in a small bowl and keep handy. Whisk cold egg whites and cream of tartar in a large metal bowl until it starts to become white and frothy.

Continue to whisk eggs and slowly add sugar mixture, a little at a time. Meringue is done when you can make stiff peaks when you pull the whisk out, it should look like shiny chocolate mousse. The sign of a great meringue is if the meringue stays in the bowl when turned upside down. I don’t suggest you try that unless you are sure it’s going to stay put and even then, do it over the sink.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a non stick silicone baking mat and drop spoonfuls of meringue with minimal spacing, cookies will not spread much. For more attractive cookies, you can pipe them using a fun tip. The meringue will hold its shape when handled well, over handling will make it deflate and become watery.

Place cookie sheet on the middle rack of the oven and let cook for about 20 minutes, more or less depending on the size of your cookies. They should be a nice golden color and dry to the touch, keep an eye on them to make sure they do not burn. Set aside to cool, while warm they are soft and can collapse with handling.

After the cookies have cooled for about 15 minutes, you can start melting the chocolate. Place chocolate pieces in a pot (preferably nonstick, it’s easier to clean) on a low temperature and slowly stir. Continue to stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Turn off the heat but keep the pot on the burner and stir once in a while, scraping the sides, you want to keep the chocolate melted but you don’t want it to burn.

The cookies should be cool enough to handle and easily pop off the parchment. Carefully pull the cookies off one by one and dip the bottoms in the melted chocolate and place them back on the sheet. Once all the cookies have been dipped, place the entire cookie sheet in the refrigerator to harden the chocolate, about 5 minutes.

 

Bake Sale August 11, 2009

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 10:58 am
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A friend of mine is fundraising for Team in Training, I donated the baked goodies. I made 5 different kinds of fudge, cherry pie pops and pumpkin cream cheese muffins.

The muffins are not a far cry from the pumpkin spice cake roll I posted a while back, but in cupcake form. Here is the simplified recipe, enjoy!

pumpkin muffin

Pumpkin cream cheese muffins

2 cups flour
6 large eggs
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 can pumpkin pie mix (with spices)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 package cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

preheat the oven to 350. Mix flour, salt and baking soda, then add eggs and pie mix. In a large ziploc bag, incorporate the cream cheese and vanilla, kneading the bag from the outside (keeping your hands clean!). Line your cupcake pan and fill about half way with batter. Cut off a small corner from the bag and pipe a small amount of cheese into the batter.

Bake for about 18 min or until cupcakes look done and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the cake.

in process