Geek Chef

I cook, I talk, I geek

Super Easy Hollandaise August 1, 2011

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 11:30 am
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For the longest time I was intimidated by hollandaise sauce, but today I conquered my fear. It was brilliant! Instead of a double boiler, whisk and a prayer – I used a hand blender and microwave.

The following is a recipe for hollandaise so easy, you’ll feel like you cheated.

Super Easy Hollandaise

2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
2 sticks butter
2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash of cayenne pepper

Cut butter into cubes and place into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for about a minute and a half, or until completely melted. Add yolks, cream and lemon juice into standard blender, or  if using a hand blender, tall cup the with of the blender or high walled bowl. Blend for a minute until incorporated and frothy. While blending, slowly pour in butter, leaving any milk solids in the bottom of the container. Add salt and cayenne, taste and season more if desired. Serve right away.

How easy is that?!

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Ricotta Two Ways July 20, 2011

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 12:46 pm
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I worked at Cafe Gratitude for a month doing their books. Like a chump, I didn’t take full advantage of my employee discount. I did use it once at their location on Harrison St and had an amazing polenta (I AM WARM-HEARTED) with faux-ricotta made with cashews. It was sooo damn good that I have been searching the web for recipes. In my searching I also noticed a few recipes for real ricotta and was surprised how easy it is. I think I’ll be making both kinds on a regular basis.

These are the recipes I tried out:

Fauxcotta

1/2 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 lb extra firm tofu, drained
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, or kosher salt
1/4 cup basil, parsley or herb of choice (optional)

Throw the first four ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth, crumble the tofu into the blender and add the remaining ingredients. Blend until desired consistency is reached.

Homemade Ricotta (dairy)

4 cups whole milk (1 quart)
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup buttermilk *optional – give you a creamier cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Slowly heat dairy in a nonreactive pot, be careful not to burn the milks. Just before boiling, add lemon juice and salt and stir. As it boils it should start to curdle, the longer you let it boil the firmer the ricotta will be. When it is the desired consistency,  drain the curds from the whey through a strainer lined with a few layers of cheese cloth. Set the strainer on top of a bowl and let it slowly drain and cool. Twist the cheesecloth and give it a little squeeze to shape the cheese and remove any extra liquid. Refrigerate and enjoy!

 

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.

 

Feeding the Masses, First Course February 11, 2010

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 12:55 am
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I had a birthday feast last weekend. I was hoping for pictures, but none have surfaced yet. I promise to post as soon as they are passed on to me.

I will post each course separately.

Roasted Squash Soup

6 cups butternut squash, peeled and diced
3 cups vegetable broth or chicken
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees, toss diced squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Pour squash into a large baking dish and spread into an even layer. Roast squash until it starts to brown, turn oven to broil for a few minutes to brown further. Remove from oven and add wine, scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen juices.

Transfer contents to a large pot, add stock and set to a low temperature. Use a hand blender to purée the contents, adding more stock if necessary. If you do not have a hand blender, you can use a regular blender in batches. Add nutmeg and ginger, raise heat to medium and let soup cook until just starting to boil. Reduce back to low and carefully add cream. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

 

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.