Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Squee! Meeting Gale Gand... ginger scones with peaches and cream

Saturday, Kelly and I went to a class at Schnucks Cooks Cooking School. While the classes there are great, this one was extra-special. It was taught by GALE GAND! I am admittedly intimidated by baking... but learning from a famous pastry chef like Gale sure helps me want to practice more! (See Kelly's post about the class here... and make that Panna Cotta... it was glorious.)

The class was fun! While demonstrating some of her favorite, simple yet impressive brunch recipes (her newest book is Gale Gand's Brunch... I want to cook everything in it.), She told stories about all her adventures in Celebrity Chefdom... working with Mario Batali, Martha Stewart, Sarah Moulton... and JULIA CHILD! She even brought Julia's Madeleine pans to the class to show off. Whoa. I kinda wished I would have gotten my photo taken with the Madeleine pan... and Gale's 2 Beard Awards, which she also brought to the class.

Did I mention I felt like a giant next to her? Fun. Seriously, though, Gale was funny, talkative and interesting. And the food she made was fantastic. I can't wait to try more of her recipes! Here is one from her Brunch book. Ginger Scones with peaches and cream. The flavor combo of this dish was delightful! So summery. And it was was pretty easy! This is perfect to go with a cuppa tea on a slow weekend morning. Ahhh...

Ginger Scones With Peaches and Cream

3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
3 Tablespoons baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger
1 1/4 cups whole milk, plus more for brushing
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sour cream
4 ripe peaches, cut into small wedges

Heat oven to 375ºF

In a mixer with paddle attachment or by hand in a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, 1/4 cup sugar and baking powder on low speed. With the mixer running, add cold butter and stir until mixture is course and sandy. You should be able to see small pieces of butter. Mix in the ginger, then add the 1 1/4 cup of milk and Mix until just combined. Do not overmix.

Turn the dough on to a lightly floured surface and knead 10-12 times to bring it together. Roll the dough into a flat disc about 3/4 of an inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter or cookie cutter to cut into 2 1/2-inch rounds. Gently press the scraps together and cut again until all the dough is used.Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and brush the tops with milk and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of sugar. Bake 15-20 minutes. Bake until light golden. Remove from oven and let cool on the cookie sheets.

Meanwhile, whip together the cream, sour cream and 1 teaspoon of sugar to stiff peaks. Serve the scones split open with a dollop of the cream and slices of peaches drizzled with honey. The book says this recipe makes 8 scones, but I ended up with double that... maybe I rolled the dough out thinner? Oh darn.... more delicious scones. :)

Friday, July 20, 2012

watermelon chickpea salad with mint & jalepeno

It's hot this summer. I mean SCORCHING. And dry. With temps in the 100ºs most days and no rain, we need a super hero to rescue our mouths. Watermelon! There are not many things that are more refreshing than a crisp, juicy watermelon. To many, they are the epitome of summer. And, they are often scooped into balls! Perfect. Here is a simple, yet interesting salad using this super hero fruit.

Watermelon Chickpea Salad with Mint and Jalapeno
-1 personal-sized watermelon, or 1/2 a small watermelon
-1 shallot, diced
-1/2 small red onion, quartered and sliced thin
-1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
-1 jalapeno , finely diced
-1 handful mint leaves, chopped fine
-3 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
-1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
-2 Tablespoons olive oil
-salt and pepper
Use a melon baller to scoop the flesh of the watermelon into balls. Place in a bowl with shallot, onion and chickpeas. Put the rest of the ingredients into a tightly-sealing container and shake until everything is combined and mostly emulsified. Pour over the melon mixture and gently toss to combine. Serve immediately or refrigerate. The flavors will develop overnight, but be aware that so will the juices... it doesn't get soggy, but you will need a slotted spoon to scoop it. This would also make a delightful salsa, if you chop up the watermelon more.

Year of the Balls posts:

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

500th post!!

Hi Everybody! Welcome to my 500th IRON STEF POST! WOOO! Let's Celebrate with a Champagne Cocktail, a wee bit of reminiscing and a GIVEAWAY!

First, the booze. Sparkling wine is a must for such occasions! I have created a simple, fun cocktail to say "Cheers" to all my loyal readers. Because you guys are the best! Thanks for reading, commenting, tweeting and hanging out with me! *Clink* 

To make the "500th Iron Stef Bubbly Sweet & Spicy Bubbly Cocktail*" put .5 oz. of ginger liqueur (I am absolutely in love with The Big O) into a champagne flute, drop in 1 canned lychee with a splash of it juice, and top off with a cold dry or semi-sweet sparkling white wine (I don't know a lot about sparkling wines.... I chose this Toad Hollow Risque because there's a dancing frog on the label). Party. *I need a better name for this. see the giveaway details below to help.

 A few posts I wrote about why I blog and what blogging has brought to my life. So instead of another mushy post, I'll just list my 10 favorite Iron Stef recipes ever. It was hard to choose just 10, because I had so much fun making all this food. I feel that the following 10 do the best job of embodying the essence of what I hope describes Iron Stef : delicious, fun and creative.

 Meatloaf cupcakes. So nice, I posted about them twice!

Fennel & Sausage bread pudding. I have since made variations of this savory bread pudding countless times. My mouth is watering.
Nam Tok Beef. What a thrill to finally figure out how to make my favorite Thai restaurant dish!

Sushi Ceviche. A great way to have sushi at parties without much fuss!

Tater Tot Pizza. Yes, I went there. And it was glorious.

Caramelized leek, chanterelle and ricotta tart. It's true. This will get you laid.

Mint Pea ravioli. Spring in a pouch.

Poutine with Bacon Jalapeno Gravy. Poutine is nature's perfect food. Also? Bacon broth.

 Fig Pistachio Goat Cheese spread. A fantastic recipe for all your party and picnic needs. Pretty colors, too!

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with ham and Sage Butter. Dumplings of pure love, you guys.

Now for the giveaway!! You have 2 chances to win this handsome and functional Iron Stef Apron! For chance 1: leave a comment telling me your favorite Iron Stef recipe/post. For chance 2: Leave another comment with a name idea for the cocktail above. I will draw random numbers to choose a winner on July 24, 2012. All comments must be made by July 24 at 5:30 pm in order to be entered.

Thanks again for reading. Cheers!

Saturday, July 07, 2012

liver-cleansing balls

A friend on twitter linked to this list of 14 foods that cleanse the liver. The timing was uncanny... after a road trip that was based mostly on brewery visits through cheese country, my liver was in dire need of a good scrubbing. I was determined to make balls using as many of the foods on the list as I could. Spinach balls have been on my to-do list for a while, so I started there as my basis, because leafy greens are great for your liver (and most of your other parts). In all, I got 6 of the 14 recommended foods into these bad boys.

They turned out great! Very tender and flavorful, they would make a great appetizer simply dipped in yogurt, or in a pita sandwich. I made a simple vegetable soup with even more liver-friendly foods from the list (cabbage, cauliflower, carrots) and ate some of the balls with that. In one dinner I managed to get 9 of the 14 liver-cleansing foods into my gullet! 

Liver-Cleansing Balls 
-5 cloves garlic, chopped (FOR YOUR LIVER!)
-1 shallot, chopped
-1 Tablespoon olive oil plus about 1 cup for pan frying (FOR YOUR LIVER!)
-2 teaspoons turmeric (FOR YOUR LIVER!)
-2 teaspoons curry powder
-1/2 teaspoon granulated ginger
-1/2 teaspoon coriander
-about 8 cups spinach leaves, roughly chopped (FOR YOUR LIVER!)
-4 cups whole wheat bread crumbs (I toasted some oat bran bread and whizzed it up in a food processor) (FOR YOUR LIVER!)
-1/2 cup chopped walnuts (FOR YOUR LIVER!)
-3 eggs
-salt and pepper to taste 
Cook the garlic and shallots in a skillet in 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil until just soft. Add the spices and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, add the spinach and cover. let spinach slightly wilt for just about 2 minutes or so. Add spinach and garlic mixture to a food processor and chop fine. Add the walnuts and pulse until incorporated. Add this mixture to a bowl with 2 cups of the breadcrumbs and the eggs. Season and mix until well combined. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, up to overnight.  
Put the remaining 2 cups of breadcrumbs in a shallow dish or bowl. Use a melon baller to scoop the spinach mixture (it is a pretty loose dough, you will need to practice gentleness) into the breadcrumbs. Gently press the crumbs around the balls of mixture, form with your hands and set aside. Repeat until all of the spinach mixture is used (makes about 4 dozen).  
Coat a skillet with about 1/4 inch of olive oil and heat. Cook the balls in the olive oil over medium-high heat, using tongs to gently turn them until all sides are golden brown and delicious. Remove to a paper towel-line platter and cook the rest of the balls in batches, being careful not to crowd them in the pan. Add more olive oil when needed. Serve warm with Greek yogurt.

Related posts from the archives:

Sunday, July 01, 2012

epic roadtrip 2012: upper midwest breweries

I apologize for the late post, but I have a good excuse! I was on the road all week with two of my favorite people! A trip planned around Beer, food & Music, we dubbed this adventure "Epic Roadtrip 2012." We hit up Chicago, Milwaukee, Minnesota, and several small towns in between. Here are some of the highlights (there were A LOT. epic, indeed.)

 Our first stop was 3 Floyds Brewery in Munster, Indiana. I have had some of their beers, and loved them, so this was an exciting opportunity. Located in an industrial park, the setting does not at all prepare you for what's inside. The bar that is attached to the brewery is artsy and heavy metal, with playful, interesting food. And great beer, obviously.

We all did tasting flights and ordered a few small plates. The meat board was so fun: chili corndog, chocolate sopressata and coffee lomo. Those crazy Floyds. 

The scotch egg was surprisingly light, made with chicken sausage instead of the usual pork, and served with a creamy horseradish sauce. 
Soft Shell crab? did not expect that. And it was great! Served with bitter greens, braised radishes and, wait for it, lemon-vanilla sauce. Wowsers. 

In Chicago we went to Goose Island brewery's pub. There, besides more beer tasting, we got some hearty and interesting bar food. The duck confit poutine made me oh-so-happy.

We went to Rick Bayless' Xoco, a small casual Mexican place with fantastic breakfasts and hot chocolate. This is the Chilequiles with chicken and eggs.... like a casserole of tortilla chips, chiles, salsa, eggs, chicken and cheese. Don't miss Xoco!

In Milwaukee, we hit Milwaukee Brewing's pub and tasted as many of the beers as they'd let us. A large, comfortable bar, with friendly, helpful bartenders who were noticeably proud of their beer and their city. And I would soon find out, Milwaukee is deserving of that pride. Loved this city! We also visited Lakefront brewing. I know we missed a bunch of smaller brewers, but that's just more motivation to come back, right? 

A cool place to hang out in Milwaukee was the Art Bar, which has this super paint-by-number wall, had a good beer selection and fun atmosphere. Von Triers was a nearby old-skool German bar complete with elaborate wood cuckoo clocks and suits of armor. Tons of beers there, too, and they even served them in the correct glassware!

We had dinner at a funky little Mexican place down the street from the Art Bar, Cafe Corozon. Besides all of the kick-ass day of the dead and religious art, the food was quite tasty.

On our last morning in Milwaukee, we went to Alterra coffee (A local coffee-roaster)'s lake-side cafe. This was a super cool old building that doubles as a Milwaukee River flushing station. The breakfast menu features lots of local ingredients and pride. (Skank Ham liked the road trip, too.)

On the way from Milwaukee to Minnesota we detoured a little bit to New Glarus Brewery. I have had a couple of their beers while on business trips in WI, so I was excited to go to the source. The brewery is located in a gorgeous setting in a hilly farming area.  

Knuckles Handerson helped me taste the New Glarus beers. Yum. We left with a few boxes of product and souvenirs. 

Wisconson was beautiful. We were sad to leave it, but excited to get to Minneapolis!

In Minneapolis we spent our first morning at Al's Breakfast. Al's is a tiiiiiny diner in a University neighborhood. And I mean TINY... it is literally 10 ft. wide. We waited behind the people eating at the counter for about 30 minutes... not bad, unless you're claustrophobic.  

Although it was really hot, I was happy to have the seat in front of the grill, where the cook hospitably answered my annoying questions. I learned some tips for making the perfect hash browns and poached eggs. Nice folks at Al's, and they seemed to love working at this "dive"... one guy even had the Al's logo tattooed on his forearm!  This was some well-crafted breakfast fare.

We visited 3 breweries in Minneapolis: Summit, Surly and Flat Earth. Summit and Surly were not able to give samples or tours while we were there, but it was neat to see the places, get some goodies from the gift shops and talk to the people. All three breweries had beer readily available at most of the local liquor stores, so despite not being able to buy any at the breweries, we were able to get some to take home with us.

On the way home, through Iowa, we were able to squeeze in visits to 2 more breweries: Worth Brewing, a very small place in a very small town, and Millstream, one of the oldest microbreweries in the country. Millstream is located in Amana, IA, a touristy yet quaint Amish town. We happened to be there during a beer & bratwurst festival. We liked the sausages we tried so much that we went over to the neighboring Amana meatshop and got some to take home!

This was my beer haul from the entire trip. Whoa. I love love love how much attention craft beer has been getting the past few years. It's great to be able to travel anywhere and have plenty of options to visit breweries.

That was our Epic Roadtrip 2012! So much fun. I'm sure there are tons of places in these cities and towns that we missed out on... feel free to leave your favorites in the comments. I love experiencing the food and beer cultures of other cities! There is such a rich tapestry in the country... and it brings every kind of person together! So.... when do I get Anthony Bourdain's job?

Similar posts from the archives:
Epic Mid-South Roadtrip
Gastronomic Galesburg
Meeting Rick Bayless
Meeting the Forking Fantastic Ladies
Hot Doug's in Chicago
Roving I guest post: Italy's most famous Butcher
My Guest posts for Roving I: STL love
Maryland Eats