Geek Chef

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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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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.

 

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.

 

Organic Delivery August 21, 2007

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 12:52 pm
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I signed up for organic produce delivered to my door every other week. I know that I am blocks away from a very decent farmers market, but I don’t want to carry bags of produce on the train with me every week. Plus I’m hoping this might give me opportunities to try things I might not use in my cooking otherwise.

This is what will be delivered:
Crimini Mushrooms
Dino Kale
Garlic Colossal
Green Beans
Green Bell Pepper
Green Onions
Kadota Fig
Mixed Medley Cherry Tomatoes
Nectarines
Pluot
Red Beets
Romaine Hearts
White Nectarines

Here is A few ideas of how to use my new ingredients:

Tuscan Sausage-Kale Soup

1 lb ground Italian sausage
1½ tsp crushed red peppers
1 large diced white onion
4 Tbsp bacon pieces
2 tsp garlic puree
10 cups water
5 cubes of chicken bouillon
1 cup heavy cream
1 lb sliced Russet potatoes, or about 3 large potatoes
1 bunch of kale

Saute Italian sausage and crushed red pepper in pot. Drain excess fat, refrigerate while you prepare other ingredients. In the same pan, sautee bacon, onions and garlic for approximately 15 mins. or until the onions are soft. Mix together the chicken bouillon and water, then add it to the onions, bacon and garlic. Cook until boiling. Add potatoes and cook until soft, about half an hour. Add heavy cream and cook until thoroughly heated. Stir in the sausage, add kale just before serving.
Smothered Mushrooms and Kale

Smothered Mushrooms and Kale

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
4 cloves garlic, chopped
24 small crimini mushrooms, wiped clean, halved
1 bunch kale, trimmed, stems removed and chopped
1/4 cup Marsala or other sherry
Salt and pepper

Heat a medium skillet with extra-virgin olive oil and butter over medium to medium-high heat. When fat is hot, add garlic and mushrooms and place a lid which is too small for the skillet down into the pan, pressing and smothering the mushrooms. Cook 7 to 8 minutes, stirring once, then wilt the kale into the pan, turning it with tongs to combine with mushrooms. Smother the greens for 1 to 2 minutes, then deglaze the pan with Marsala and season the mixture with salt and pepper, to taste.

Wild Mushroom Frittata

Wild Mushroom Frittata

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
12 crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, a couple of handfuls, stems removed, chopped
1 cup oyster mushrooms, a couple of handfuls, chopped
1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
Coarse salt and pepper
12 eggs, beaten
Dash of half-and-half
1 lemon, zested
2 scallions, sliced
2 teaspoons hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco)
1/2 cup Parmesan

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat a 10-inch nonstick skillet, with oven safe handle over medium to medium-high heat. Wrapping a rubber handle in foil will allow the pan to transfer to oven as well.

To hot pan, add oil and mushrooms. Season mushrooms with thyme, salt and pepper. Cook 3 to 5 minutes until all of the veggies are tender. Beat eggs with salt and pepper, dash of half-and-half, lemon zest, scallions and hot sauce. Pour over the mushrooms. Lift and settle eggs in the pan as they brown on the bottom. When the eggs are set but remain uncooked on top, transfer to oven for 7 or 8 minutes, until frittata is golden brown and puffy. Sprinkle the frittata with cheese and return to the oven for 1 or 2 minutes.

Pickled Beet Salad

2 pounds beets, trimmed and washed
1 onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, sliced
1 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cardamom seeds
1 tablespoon whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 pickled gherkins, chopped
1 apple, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish root (or 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish)
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Place the beets in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer the beets, loosely covered, for 25 to 30 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork. Drain the beets, reserving 2 cups of the cooking liquid. When cool enough to handle, rub the skins off.

Slice the beets into strips and place in a 1-quart jar, along with the onion and garlic. In a saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, cardamom seeds, cloves, salt, and the reserved cooking liquid. Heat just enough to dissolve the sugar, while stirring. Pour warm vinegar liquid over the beets, onion and garlic in the jar. Let cool to room temperature, then cover, and refrigerate overnight.

In a large bowl, combine the pickled beets, gherkins, and apple. In a small bowl, blend together the horseradish, sour cream, salt, and sugar, and add to the pickled beet mixture. Stir gently, cover and refrigerate. Serve salad chilled.

 

First attempt at microwave egg poaching August 6, 2007

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 10:21 am
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I need to play with the timing and settings on my microwave, but yesterday I made half decent – slightly overcooked for my liking – poached eggs.

I shredded some cheddar on tortillas and toasted it in the oven, topped with a little salsa and the poached eggs. BAM! Instant huevos rancheros! Tasty too. It’s not the most glamorous of dishes, but with a little cream, green onion and maybe black olive I could make that one hell of a brunch item.

Maybe a quail egg on a mini tortilla for a appetizer, hmmm.

In case you need a recipe..

Microwave Huevos Rancheros

2 eggs
4 tortillas
1/2 cup grated cheese
1/4 cup salsa
1/4 sour cream
2 tablespoons sliced black olives
chopped green onion

*Microwave egg poacher

Lay out tortillas on a baking sheet and sprinkle shredded cheese on all the tortillas. Toast in toaster oven or regular oven until cheese is melted and tortilla edges are a little golden.
While tortillas are toasting, pour a little water in the bottom of the egg poacher and then crack open egg and carefully pour one egg into each cup. Close and microwave for one min. Open the poacher and let vent for a second *venting is important, unless you like scraping egg off the top of your microwave*, then microwave for another 30-60 seconds depending on your microwave strength and preference in doneness. Plate tortillas, with two tortillas overlapping a bit – similar to a ven diagram. Drain the water from eggs and place in the center of the tortillas, cover with salsa and top with sour cream, green onion and olives.

** I know this is more of a PWT version, but it’s tasty. Also the black speckles on the eggs are pepper, in case you were wondering.. I also added a few shots of Tapitia hot sauce 🙂