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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Chocolate Mousse

   How do you say I Love You?  With a card... flowers, jewels or other extravagant gifts?  Does all this really convey the message of love?  Perhaps for some, it is sufficient but material things were never a good measure in my book.  A gentle caress, a soft whisper, a deep stare or a loving embrace seems a more fitting example of how to make  her feel like a princess.  One other way I like to say it is by creating something with my own hands, made with love, care and passion, a special treat that can warm the soul with just one bite.  Chocolate is the perfect ingredient for just such a creation.  The alluring scent and the way it melts on the tongue, it can transport you to a different world.  Decadent, rich flavors and textures can truly warm the heart from the inside out.
   This chocolate mousse is light and airy, with a subtle texture that is like a cloud on your tongue.  It quickly melts,  enveloping all your taste buds and senses. A certain warm feeling takes over your body and mind and suddenly you feel it.....LOVE.   This is not to say that this dessert can replace the words I love you, but the person you make it for will know exactly what you are trying to say.
   A few simple, good quality ingredients are all that is needed to make this luscious treat which can be eaten on its own or topped with fresh berries and cream .  This year, you can shower that special someone with gifts or you can show them how you feel right from the heart with something made by you. 
This is...with love, from me to you.
Ingredients

4oz good quality, dark chocolate (70%)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
4 egg yolks
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup whipping cream (35%)
Bring water and sugar to a boil and let boil for 3 minutes.  Place egg yolks in mixing bowl and slowly pour in sugar/water mixture.  Mix until pale yellow and thickened.
In a stainless steel bowl, set over a pot of hot (not boiling) water, melt chocolate and butter.

Whisk melted chocolate into egg mixture until blended.  In a separate bowl,  pour the cream then whip until stiff.

Add the whipped cream to the chocolate mixture and gently fold together until no streaks remain.

With a spoon or a piping bag, fill cups or ramekins  3/4 full. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
The mousse can be eaten on its own or it can be topped with any number of ingredients.
I chose to use a raspberry coulis which is simply raspberries with a little sugar and a touch of lemon juice pureed and pushed through a strainer.  The mousse is then topped with the coulis and a dollop of fresh whipped cream.
 Mousse topped with fresh whipped cream and chocolate covered espresso beans.


The first bite is like a lover's soft kiss or a gentle caress from a loving hand.  Enjoy the moment and feel the love.





                                                                    Je T'aime Toujours!



The mousse can be refrigerated for a few days but it should be served almost at room temperature for maximum flavor.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Fish Cakes


Fish cakes are not something people attempt to make often if at all.  Perhaps they feel it is a difficult task or too time consuming.  They may be slightly time consuming but they are not that difficult to make. In fact, they can even be made with left overs to speed up the process.  And if you don't like eating re-heated fish fillets, this is the perfect recipe.  This versatile recipe can be made with several types of fish and seafood.  They do however fair better with lighter, white fish varieties as well as shrimp, lobster and scallops.  Combining the fish with mashed or pureed potatoes gives them a nice light texture and a crispy breaded crust seals them into a tasty little package.

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs cooked fish fillets(seafood can be uncooked)
1 1/2 lbs mashed or pureed potato (boiled until soft, then mash)
1 egg
3 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley
1 tsp dry tarragon 
1 tsp grated lemon zest
salt and pepper to taste
 
For crust  
  3 eggs, beaten-separate bowl
1 1/2 cups seasoned bread crumbs-separate bowl
1 cup of flour-separate bowl
Canola oil for frying

*Optional*   Quick Aioli for dipping:  Blend 1 roasted red pepper with 4 Tbsp mayonnaise, 1 garlic clove, juice from 1/2 lemon, salt and pepper to taste.
These fillets were baked with salt and pepper for 10 minutes then cooled.   Break apart fillets until nice and flaky, add to a bowl.
Add cooled mashed potato to crumbled fish fillets. Mix lightly by hand.
In a separate bowl, add egg, parsley, tarragon, salt and pepper and whisk together.  Add to fish and potato mixture and combine by hand.
Using your hands, make small patties and set aside. The less you work with them, the lighter in texture they will be.

1. Set up your breading station and dredge cakes in flour lightly.
2. Remove excess flour, dip in beaten egg.
3. Cover each cake with bread crumbs and set aside.
Once all the cakes are breaded, prepare a skillet with canola oil for frying.  These can also be deep fried.

In a skillet, heat canola oil and fry cakes on both sides until nice and crisp.  If you are deep frying, they will be done when they are golden brown.
Place cakes on a paper towel and quickly sprinkle with salt.  They are best if served immediately.
Crispy, light and fluffy fish cakes with roasted pepper aioli.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Tiramisu Cheesecake - Happy 1st Blogiversary InDannysKitchen!

   One year ago  I began this journey InDannysKitchen.  A journey into a passion, a celebration of life and food.  Food for the eyes, mouth, stomach and soul for myself and friends around the world . We can celebrate with dance or music but no celebration is complete without good food.  Good food that makes your heart warm and creates lasting memories.  To my family and friends around the world who have embraced InDannysKitchen, I thank you for being here to share this special day and everyday as we come together for the love of food.

No celebration is complete without a cake.  When thinking of a cake to make for this special day I could not decide.  Cheesecake and Tiramisu are my favorite desserts so I figured, why not combine both of them?
The decadent creaminess of cheesecake and the luxurious mascarpone and coffee infused savoiardi of tiamisu combined to make one great cake.  Here we have the best of both worlds, fit for any special occasion.
Ingredients

2  8oz. packages of cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1  500g container of mascarpone cheese
20  savoiardi( lady fingers) cookies
2  whole eggs
2  egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup cold espresso coffee
1 1/2 Tbsp melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp grated milk or dark chocolate
3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
In a food processor or bag, crush cookies into crumbs. Place in a bowl.
To the crumbs add melted butter, 1 tbsp sugar and the espresso coffee.  Quickly mix together by hand.
Place crumb mixture in a greased 9inch spring form pan and gently pat down until bottom of pan is covered. Wrap the bottom of spring form pan with foil making sure it is sealed.  Set aside.
Place vanilla extract, whole eggs and egg yolks in a bowl, add half of the sugar and whisk together.
Mix cream cheese, mascarpone and remaining sugar and blend until creamy then add to to the eggs and slowly mix together until smooth.  (my cream cheese was a little too cold so it looked a little lumpy)
Gently spread mixture evenly into cake pan making sure to cover the crumb base.  Place pan into a larger, shallow pan.
Pour 2 cups of water into larger pan making sure not to wet the cheesecake.  Place cake in a pre heated 350f oven and bake for 60-70 minutes.  Center of cake should look firm when cooked.
Once cake has cooled for 25 minutes, run a knife along the outer edge of cake then release spring form.  Sprinkle the top with grated chocolate and dust with cocoa.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.  The cake will set even better if left in fridge overnight.
 The cake is ready to be cut and the celebrations begin!  Thanks to all of you for sharing this special day with me.


Friday, January 7, 2011

Beer & Blue Cheese Steak Sauce

   You will often hear me say " A great steak doesn't need anything but salt and pepper".  A succulent new york striploin or juicy rib eye can usually stand alone with out the help of a sauce or rub of some sort.  The T bone that you sink your teeth into and voraciously gnaw on the bone afterwords is also fine left alone  but....
   Some times you just want to switch it up a little.  A bbq rub, a compound butter, a wine reduction or just about anything else you can think of to trick your taste buds into thinking  they are somewhere they haven't been before.  This all sounds fascinating but you just want to get your big steak off the grill and start chomping on it right? 
   All meat should me rested slightly after grilling to allow the juices to redistribute into it so that it maintains its wonderful moisture and tenderness.  It is in this short waiting period that you will have enough time to make this incredibly luscious sauce to smother your beautiful piece of meat.
This quick sauce transforms steak into steak!  When your steaks are resting they will leave some juices behind on the plate which are a key ingredient in this sauce.  The addition of this juice to some caramelized onions quickly braised in beer and smothered in a creamy, ooey , gooey, tangy blue cheese will have your next steak dinner doing a graceful ballroom dance on your taste buds.

Ingredients

Choose steaks of your preference for grilling
1 medium size onion, thinly sliced
1 beer ( I used a dark beer)
3 Tbsp crumbled blue cheese
1 Tbsp butter
Drippings from grilled, rested steaks
Salt and pepper as needed
Extra virgin olive oil
Rub steaks with olive oil then sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place steaks on a hot grill and cook until medium rare.  Once cooked, set steaks on a plate cover gently with foil.
In a very hot cast iron skillet place sliced onion and butter, saute for 3 minutes stirring often.  Onions should begin to brown fairly quickly.
Remove steaks from covered plate and pour the leftover juices into the hot pan, stir and reduce 1 minute.
Pour 3/4 of the beer into the pan and let reduce for 2 minutes then turn heat off.  Drink remaining beer.
Add crumbled blue cheese and stir quickly until melted and creamy.  Add salt and pepper as needed.
Plate the steaks  and smother with the sauce.  Serve immediately
Add as much or as little as you like but I assure you, you will want to savor the sauce with every bite.


*** This sauce also works great with grilled chicken and pork***

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Crusty Olive Bread

Getting a warm, flavorful , crusty loaf of bread from a bakery can be difficult unless you go first thing in the morning.  Busy bakeries will bake more than once a day but you need the right timing to get that "hot out of the oven" bread.
If I told you that you would never need to go to the bakery again, would you believe me?  Yes, it's true!  Don't think you need to wake up at 4am to get started on this either because it really is easy as easier than pie!
A few simple ingredients will get you on your way to artisan quality, bakery style bread.  With a total of about ten minutes of prep time and some time for the dough to rise you will be a pro bread baker.  The aroma will fill your home with that heavenly fresh baked bread scent that grabs a hold of you in a warm and comforting embrace.
This recipe contains olives but you can substitute it with many ingredients like roasted peppers, hot peppers, caramelized onions, cheese or just leave it plain. Another great thing is, this recipe makes enough dough for 3 regular sized loafs or 2 large loafs.  So you can bake fresh bread for up to 3 days.  Simply keep the dough in the refrigerator and take a piece each day to use for baking.

Ingredients

4 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 Tbsp salt
1/1/2 Tbsp instant yeast
3 cups warm water
*optional*  3/4 cup chopped Kalamata olives or other ingredient (peppers etc...)
In a large container add salt, yeast and warm water then gently stir together.
Now add all purpose and whole wheat flour.
Add pitted and chopped olives and begin gently mixing with a sturdy spoon until a dough forms and no dry flour is visible.  The dough will form quickly and become stiff . DO NOT OVER MIX!
This is the dough after about 20 seconds of stirring.  No kneading is necessary!  Cover with a lid and refrigerate for 2 hours or use the next day.
Pre heat your oven to 375f and place a metal pan on bottom shelf.  Meanwhile remove dough from refrigerator and take a piece large enough to make a loaf ( a good handfull).  Sprinkle with flour and gently form a round or long loaf.  Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and sprinkle paper with flour.  Allow loaf to rise for 35 minutes while oven is pre heating.
 After the loaf has risen, sprinkle it with a little more flour and score some lines or an X about 1 inch deep across the top. The flour keeps your knife from sticking to the dough and also helps achieve the nice color when baking.
Place loaf in the oven on a middle rack and pour 2 cups of water in the hot pan below it. Quickly close the oven door.  Bake bread for 40 -60 minutes, depending on size of loaf or until it becomes golden brown and crispy.
Once bread has cooled slightly it is ready to enjoy. Eat it on its own, buttered or top with your favorite ingredients.
 The dough will keep for 4 days if refrigerated and covered.




recipe adapted from...
http://artisanbreadinfive.com/

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