Perfect Creme Brûlée

 

Creme Brulee'

Creme Brulee’

Perfect Creme Brûlée  

I played with a lot of crème brûlée recipes before coming up with this version.  Everyone always has the same response when they first taste it.  “So light”.  It really is not difficult to make at all.  You can vary the fruit that you use as to what is in season.  So yummy with any fruit that you choose.  Also, I call for caster sugar in this recipe.  Is a very fine sugar that is used in baking and I think it is part of the reason this recipe is so “light”.  .  However, if you can’t find caster sugar certainly regular sugar works just fine.  This recipe will fill about 6 to 7 ramekins.

Ingredients list:

Two large eggs

Five large egg yolks

Three quarters of a cup caster sugar.  +1 tablespoon for each serving.

3 1/2 cups heavy cream

One vanilla bean.  Or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract if you don’t have a bean.

 

About 10 fresh strawberries, blue berries, raspberries, black berries… whatever is is season!

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1-2 teaspoons caster sugar

Cooking Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 300°

Cut your strawberries into quarters.  Put them in a mixing bowl and mix with the balsamic and sugar.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  You can also just used the fresh fruit without any sugar.  Still delicious!

Split the Vanilla Bean down the center (lengthwise).  Scrape out the seeds.  Set aside until ready to use.  In the bowl of an electric mixer mix the eggs and egg yolks.  Gradually add the 3/4 cup of sugar.  Mix together on a a low speed until well blended.

Next, Make your cream mixture.  Before you begin, put a pot of water on to boil.  This is going to be for the water bath you will use later.  In a Medium sauce pan over medium low heat whisk together the cream and vanilla bean seeds.  Continue to gently whisk until the cream is at a low simmer.  Don’t let it come to a complete boil.  Pour the cream mixture into a batter bowl.  Very very slowly add the cream to the egg mixture.  Don’t add it too fast or the eggs will scramble!!!  Mine actually had a few bubbles in it.  I was worried at first but I think this is part of what makes this recipe so light.  Place the ramekins in a roasting pan and Evenly distribute the cream and egg mixture into the ramekins.  Carefully put the boiling water into the Roasting pan Until the water is about half way up the sides of the ramekins.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.  Allow them to cool on a baking rack then refrigerate for about 4 to 5 hours.  Before serving sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar on each serving.  Caramelize the sugar with a torch.  Top with the  fresh strawberries.

Serve and Enjoy!!!

Shakshouka

Shakshouka

Shakshouka

Shakshouka

“Poached Eggs in a Harissa Tomato Sauce”

My tastebuds seem to be leaning towards Middle Eastern/ Moroccan flavors lately.  Probably because they combine such robust ingredients that are layered into some of the most delicious, satisfying recipes I have ever eaten.  I first came across a recipe for Shakshouka on a Fox News article.  I printed it and put it in a place that I would be sure to remember it when I was ready to cook!  Of course, I never saw it again.  Recently, while looking through one of my middle eastern cookbooks, there it was!!!  The most beautiful picture of poached eggs nestled into a chunky looking, savory,  tomato sauce.  It was time to make the dish!!!  That book was The New Book of Middle Eastern Food written by Claudia Roden.  By the way, this book has some fabulous recipes!!!  I modified the recipe somewhat but loved her variation of adding preserved lemon rinds.  Chad and I made some several months ago and have never been brave enough to try them. Perfect opportunity!!!  And let me tell you…..  FLAVOR, FLAVOR, FLAVOR!!!  I can see where it could over power a dish so I only used half a peel and it was plenty.  I used the recipe in Claudia’s book to do the preserved lemon rinds.  I also used several other spices that we have used in other middle eastern dishes and it all came together very nicely.

Ingredients List:

2 TBS olive oil

1 large onion, rough chopped *** Note: rough chopped is larger chunks not fine pieces

1 large bell pepper, rough chopped

6 – 7 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1/2 cup red wine (white is fine too )

4 – 28 ounce cans whole tomatoes, hand crushed, liquid reserved ***Note:  reserve the liquid in the can as well as the liquid that results from crushing them.

1 TBS tomato paste

1 tsp harissa

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp coarse ground black pepper

1 – 2 low sodium chicken bullion cubes

1/2 preserved lemon rind, pulp scooped out, rinsed, and chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro *save out a pinch for garnishing

1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley *save out a pinch for garnishing

4 – large eggs

 

In a medium sized pot, heat the olive oil over high heat.  Add the onions and bell peppers and saute until the onions are tender and golden, 6 – 8 minutes.  Add the garlic and continue to saute.  Stir constantly so the garlic doesn’t burn.  Add in the wine! Cook for another minute.  Turn the heat to low while adding in all of the spices.  Add the crushed tomatoes and two cups of the reserved liquid. Blend the tomatoes in with the onion mixture.  Add the harissa and the tomato paste.  Season the pot with the cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, and bullion cube.  Blend well then add the chopped lemon rind and the cilantro and parsley.  Add another 1 1/2 cups of the tomato liquid.  Return the heat to high and bring it up to a slow boil until slightly bubbly.  Stir it well, reduce the heat and let it simmer for about another 20 minutes.  Taste to see if you need another bullion or a pinch of salt.   Now, make 4 small “wells” in the sauce as beat as you can.  Crack an egg into each well. I had to make a well and crack an egg…make a well and add an egg…etc.  Cook over medium heat until the eggs have poached.  This takes several minutes or more.  You will know they are poached when the egg whites have become opaque.  Carefully remove each egg with some sauce into individual dishes.

 Serve and enjoy!!!!!

Loaded Chicken Salad

Loaded Chicken Salad

Loaded Chicken Salad

 Loaded Chicken Salad 

 This chicken salad is so fresh and delicious!  I have to be careful when I make it… It’s so good that I can’t stop eating it.  It is almost identical to my salmon salad that I posted last week but my portions are different.  I also use this recipe for fresh tuna salad (that will be another post).  One ingredient that makes this salad so good is fresh chicken.  I do not use canned chicken and would suggest that you do not either.  Boiling a chicken takes hardly any time and it makes such a difference if the flavor of the salad.  In addition… it gives you some fresh chicken stock to put up in your freezer for another use.   I have heard some people say that they only like to use the white meat but I like to use both white and dark meat in my salad.  It is also very versatile which is great for this time of year when we are tailgating.  You can put it in a serving bowl surrounded with mini croissants or your favorite crackers.  You can stuff it into pepperoncini peppers and serve it over a bed of micro greens for a pretty presentation.  Or, make finger sandwiches with a variety of breads.  Anyway you serve it, it will be a hit!

 Ingredients list:

1 –  whole chicken boiled and deboned

6 – hard-boiled eggs.  Peeled and chopped

1 –  whole bunch of green onions, chopped

1 –  red bell pepper, finely chopped

3 – ribs of celery, finely chopped

1 –  kosher pickle, finely chopped

2 –  TBS Dukes mayonnaise, or more

1  – TBS yellow mustard

A dash of kosher salt

Fresh cracked pepper to taste

To boil a chicken, simply put it in a pot large enough to fill with water and cover the chicken.  Season the water with salt, pepper, and dried parsley.  Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and let it simmer for about 40 – 45 minutes.  Cover and let it sit in the liquid for about 15 minutes.  Remove the chicken to a baking sheet and allow to cool for about 15 minutes. Allow the stock to cool and freeze it for making soups and sauces later.   Debone the chicken and discard the fat and skin.  Mix everything together in a mixing bowl.  Mix well but don’t over mix and shred the chicken.  It is nice to have some bite sized pieces of chicken in the salad.  If you need more mayonnaise you can add it but don’t overdo it.  Taste it to see if it needs any more salt and pepper.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

 Serve and Enjoy!!!

Scrumptious Salmon Salad

Scrumptious Salmon Salad

Scrumptious Salmon Salad

Scrumptious Salmon Salad

 It always seems that when I cook salmon, there is usually one piece left over.  Last week I made salmon croquette’s and served them along side a steak for surf and turf.  Yesterday, I had a piece left from Monday’s dinner so I decided to make salmon salad.  We had it for lunch.  It was so light and delicious and served inside the avocado cups it was equally as pretty.  You could also serve this over a bed of baby greens, drizzled with a little olive oil and lemon juice.  Either way, you will certainly enjoy this tasty salad!

Ingredients List:

1 – 9 ounce cooked salmon fillet

2 – hard boiled eggs, chopped

1/2 cup celery, chopped fine

1/2 cup yellow bell pepper, chopped fine

1/2 cup purple onion, chopped fine

1/4 cup green onions, chopped

1 Claussen kosher dill pickle SPEAR, chopped ***Note – not a whole pickle, not a half

1 TBS – Dukes mayonnaise

1 TBS – Sour cream

1 tsp – yellow mustard

Juice of 1/2 lemon

pinch of kosher salt

pinch of coarse ground black pepper

In a medium size mixing bowl, gently flake apart the salmon fillet.  Add in the remaining ingredients.  Gently fold everything together until blended well. You still want some flakey pieces of salmon in there.  If you want to serve it like I did in the picture,  cut an avocado in half.  Remove the pit and a small portion of the avocado around the pit.  Do the same with the other half.  I did not remove the avocado for it’s peel.  Drizzle the avocado with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Spoon approximately 1/4 cup of the salmon salad into each avocado half.  I sprinkled mine with a little cayenne for some color, or you could use paprika.

 Serve and Enjoy!!!