kaiserschmarrn with peaches & blackberries

Anyone who knows me well, knows I have an intense love of any kind of fresh fruit. In fact, it’s very rare that I serve a meal without some sort of fruit. My favorites are the berries – strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries.

Kaiserschmarrn. Traditionally prepared as an Austrian dessert, but also great for a lazy Sunday breakfast. A light pancake made from sweet batter and browned in a large skillet. Cut into bite-size pieces and finish by caramelizing with butter, sugar and confectioner’s sugar.

OK, I won’t lie on this one… it’s a little bit challenging. And, I’m not sure we mastered it. I say we because I had to borrow my husband to help with the “flipping” of the kaiserschmarrn. In the end, it was a success, and made for a fabulous Sunday brunch. I think for now, the kids still prefer their traditional pancakes and maple syrup. However, I’m sold on this one. It just takes a bit more effort.

Loved the modest tart of the lemon zest paired with the blackberries and ever-so-slight caramelized nectarines (which I subbed for the peaches). All that tossed with the sweet, tender pancake was perfect.

Kaiserschmarrn with Peaches & Blackberries

Adapted from Food & Wine / Alice Waters
Serves 6

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 firm, ripe medium peaches—peeled, quartered and sliced 1/4 inch thick

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup milk

4 large eggs, separated

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Pinch of salt

1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting

1 pint blackberries

In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, melt 1/2 tablespoon of the butter. Add the peaches, 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar and the lemon juice and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the peaches are tender and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the peaches to a plate and clean the skillet.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, milk, egg yolks, zest and 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar until smooth. In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the salt until soft peaks form. Beat in the remaining 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar until the whites are glossy. Fold the whites into the batter until no streaks remain.

In the skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the batter, cover and cook over moderately low heat until it is golden on the bottom and the top is beginning to set, 4 to 5 minutes. Slide the pancake onto a large plate. Carefully invert the skillet over the pancake. Using oven mitts, flip the skillet and the plate to return the pancake to the pan. Cook until the underside of the pancake is set and lightly browned, about 2 minutes.

Using a wooden or heatproof plastic spatula, cut the pancake in the skillet into 2-inch squares. Dot with the remaining 2 1/2 tablespoons of butter, sprinkle with the 1/3 cup of confectioners’ sugar and top with the peaches. Cook, tossing, until the pancake is caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add the blackberries and toss until they are heated through, about 1 minute. Transfer the kaiserschmarrn to a platter, sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and serve.

Enjoy!

pistachio & cream cheese sugar cookies

A not-too-sweet cookie, perfect with a coffee or an afternoon tea and small enough you don’t feel guilty about having more than one.  Mmm.   I’m guessing this recipe could work with almonds as well, substituting the pistachios with almonds and vanilla flavor with almond flavor.  I may just have to try that.   Oooh, the possibilities… maybe even a citrus cookie – lemon or orange flavor rolled in sugared or candied citrus peels.  Or, a kid version… perhaps, rolled in chocolate or butterscotch chips (or maybe that would turn into a melted, sticky mess.)

Pistachio-Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies
adapted from Better Homes & Gardens All Time Favorites 2012

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 3 ounce pkg cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp finely shredded citrus peel (optional – I didn’t add)
1/2 cup finely chopped lightly salted pistachio nuts

Combine butter and cream cheese and beat with an electric mixer on medium to high for 30 seconds. Add powdered sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour and beat or use mixing spoon to combine all of the flour. If desired, add the citrus peel.

Divide dough in half. Shape each half into a 7-8 inch long roll (1 1/2 inches in diameter). Roll each cookie roll into chopped pistachios. Wrap each roll in plastic wrap. Chill about an hour until dough is firm enough to slice.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut rolls into 1/4 inch slices. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

 

Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Transfer to a wire rack; cool. Makes 44 cookies.

 

pesto and rotini

An amazing, simple, healthy dish. Use store-bought pesto, or make your own (like I did.) Serve with a sautéed chicken breast, a veggie and a nice glass of white wine.

Pesto
3-4 cups of packed, fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts (I toasted mine in a saute pan over low heat, just enough to warm them and see a hint of golden)
1-2 garlic cloves (to your liking)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
1-2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Blend/puree all ingredients in a food processor until the pesto is blended and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Serve with cooked whole wheat rotini pasta.

Prepare whole wheat rotini per package directions. Toss pasta with pesto and freshly grated parmesan cheese and whole pine nuts (if desired.)

oatmeal caramel bars

These bars may just put you in a sugar-induced trance.  The one that pulls you back for another.  And another.  Mmm.  I remember eating something similar while still living at home with my parents.  I made these for my family recently after reminiscing my way through old cookbooks.  I can’t believe this recipe takes an ENTIRE jar of caramel ice cream topping.  All that, plus chocolate chips and oats and brown sugar and butter.  The bars are indulgent and sweet and sticky  – they’re best kept chilled in the refrigerator (they tend to hold their shape a bit better than at room temp.)

Oatmeal Caramel Bars
Recipe adapted from Potluck for 33,000 New & Improved 2nd Edition – Recipes from the great Dayton’s, Hudson’s and Marshall Field’s cookoff, a benefit for the United Way circa 1993

1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups caramel ice cream topping
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup butter, melted
6 oz. pkg semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In small bowl, combine 1/4 cup flour and caramel topping; set aside. In large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, rolled oats, brown sugar, soda, salt and butter; mix until crumbly. Press 2/3 crumbly mixture in ungreased 9x13x2 inch pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Pour caramel mixture over chocolate chips. Sprinkle remaining crumbly mixture over caramel. Bake 17 to 20 minutes. Cool and cut into bars.

rigatoni with spicy sausage, arugula and tomato

This one’s a keeper.  Mmm.  Served it to a group of friends for a weekend dinner, pre- Superbowl and pre- Valentine’s Day.  Friends+pasta, salad, bread and dessert+red wine = a great time.  We even discovered that a couple of our friends may be distant relatives…and a search for Icelandic ancestors may be in their future.  🙂

Love the addition of arugula and fresh herbs in this dish.   And, freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  Add crushed red pepper to your preferred level of spice.

Rigatoni with Spicy Sausage-Tomato Sauce, Arugula, and Parmesan
Adapted from Bon Appétit

Yield: Makes 6 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 pounds fresh hot Italian sausages, casings removed
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with added puree
16 ounces rigatoni
2 cups (packed) fresh arugula, stemmed
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tsp crushed red pepper (or more to taste)
salt and pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion; sauté until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add garlic; stir 1 minute. Add sausage; cook until browned, breaking up with back of spoon, about 5 minutes. Drain drippings from pot. Add wine, diced tomatoes with juice, and crushed tomatoes; increase heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 30 minutes to blend flavors, stirring occasionally. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cool, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm over medium heat before continuing.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain.

Stir pasta, arugula, basil, and oregano into tomato sauce. Simmer until arugula wilts, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to large bowl. Sprinkle with Parmesan.

Serve with a salad and garlic bread.

a winter salad

Here’s a salad combo that is simply divine.  Most ingredients can be found at your local Trader Joe’s.  Our friends brought this for one of our dinner get togethers .  I could eat this as a meal all by itself.  The combination of the craisins, goat cheese and walnuts is amazing.

A Winter Salad

Bag of Mixed Greens
Bag of Spring Mix
Walnuts
Craisins
Crumbled Goat Cheese
Cranberry Walnut and Gorgonzola Vinaigrette

Toss together and serve. Yum!

Thanks Andy and Molly!

deep-fried heaven

The minute I got my February issue of Bon Appetit, I knew I had to make the cover – skillet fried chicken. The kind I have maybe once or twice a year. The kind that’s “oh so bad for you”, but a must have indulgence on occasion. A personal, Iron Chef kind of challenge and a first stab at frying at home. A messy endeavor, a not so nice cleanup and the lingering aroma of peanut oil – but, so worth the deep-fried wonder.

The suggested overnight rub mixture is genius, and true to the chef’s word – resulting in flavorful meat seasoned to the bone. Dipped in a mixture of buttermilk, egg and water and coated in seasoned flour, then carefully bathed in hot oil.

We had drumsticks and breasts on hand, so we worked with what we had. However, next time, I will make sure to have more drumsticks – the declared favorite among the kids and me. The tender, juicy dark meat and crispy, brown skin are indulgence at its best. And, there’s just something barbaric about picking up a drummy with your bare hands, eating the meat off the bone. Love bending the table manners. Everything goes out the window here on no eating with your hands or don’t pick at your food… (My sister would love that one too, right K?) The chicken breasts were also very yummy. Yes, the chicken tastes great immediately after being fried, but cold fried chicken is just as good. Mmm.

OK, some essentials are key here. Did I say this was messy? Yes… and then some. I covered the kitchen floor with old towels (to catch most of the splattering grease, and make clean-up a little easier.) I also draped kitchen towels around the nearby surroundings – countertops, cabinets. Aprons are also encouraged. Other essentials: a set of metal tongs, a large cast iron skillet, a deep fat fry thermometer, an instant read thermometer, plenty of peanut oil, a wire baking rack set on top of a large cookie sheet. We set our oven temp at about 275 degrees to keep the chicken warm once it was fried, and to be sure the meat was cooked through, as we fried 3 separate batches. Amazing. You must try it yourself.

I’m still searching for remedies to rid the frying smell in the house, so let me know if you have any tried and true secrets… already tried boiling vinegar/water mixture – nada.

Skillet-fried Chicken
adapted from Bon Appetit

2 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
3–4-lb. chicken (not kosher), cut into 10 pieces, backbone and wing tips removed
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Peanut oil (for frying)

• Whisk 1 Tbsp. salt, 2 tsp. black pepper, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, and onion powder in a small bowl. Season chicken with spices. Place chicken in a medium bowl, cover, and chill overnight.

• Let chicken stand covered at room temperature for 1 hour. Whisk buttermilk, egg, and 1/2 cup water in a medium bowl. Whisk flour, cornstarch, remaining 1 Tbsp. salt, and remaining 1 Tbsp. pepper in a 9x13x2″ baking dish.

• Pour oil into a 10″–12″ cast-iron skillet or other heavy straight-sided skillet (not nonstick) to a depth of 3/4″. Prop deep-fry thermometer in oil so bulb is submerged. Heat over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 350°. Meanwhile, set a wire rack inside a large rimmed baking sheet.

• Working with 1 piece at a time (use 1 hand for wet ingredients and the other for dry ingredients), dip chicken in buttermilk mixture, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Dredge in flour mixture; tap against bowl to shake off excess. Place 5 pieces of chicken in skillet. Fry chicken, turning with tongs every 1–2 minutes and adjusting heat to maintain a steady temperature of 300°–325°, until skin is deep golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 165°, about 10 minutes for wings and 12-15 minutes for thighs, legs, and breasts.

• Using tongs, remove chicken from skillet, allowing excess oil to drip back into skillet; transfer chicken to prepared rack.

• Repeat with remaining chicken pieces; let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Thanks Bon Appetit!

chicken lettuce cups

This one’s in honor of Chinese New Year, and the Year of the Dragon, and “do-it-yourself Chinese take-out”…

We love the lettuce wraps at various restaurants like PF Changs, and this creation could be just as good or better. Fresh, light and healthy.  It was the perfect treat for the red carpet and the Golden Globe awards.  And, bonus… the kids loved them too! Served them with cream cheese wontons, potstickers, steamed edamame and brown rice.  Mmm. Mmm. Good.  Enjoy!

Chicken Lettuce Cups
Adapted from Epicurious
Yield: Serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons clear rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1/3 cup minced red onion
1 cup chopped canned button mushrooms  (I used fresh mushrooms)
1/2 cup water chestnuts, minced
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, minced (I diced my chicken into small chunks)
8 to 10 inner leaves iceberg lettuce, edges trimmed and chilled
Handful of fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
Scallions, cut diagonally
Optional: 1/4 cup unsalted roasted cashews, coarsely chopped

Combine the soy sauce, hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, salt, and sugar in a small bowl and mix together until the sugar dissolves.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a wok over high heat. Stir-fry the garlic and ginger for 10 seconds. Add the onion, mushrooms, and water chestnuts and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Remove the contents of the wok.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in the wok. Swish the oil around, add the chicken, and brown for 1 minute, or until no longer pink. Add the cooked vegetable mixture back to the wok, decrease the heat, and stir in the sauce mixture. Stir for 1 minute, or until the sauce is heated and the chicken is cooked through.

Spoon the filling in equal amounts into the lettuce cups. Top each lettuce cup with cilantro, scallions and sprinkle with chopped cashews, if desired. Serve warm.  (Next time, I may even top with crispy rice sticks for a little added texture.)

healthy & delicious brussels sprouts

Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan and Crushed Red Pepper
Adapted from Epicurious, Andrew Weil, M.D., and Rosie Daley

1 pound Brussels sprouts
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
5 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, or to taste, preferably freshly grated
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Trim the ends off the Brussels sprouts and remove and discard any discolored outer leaves. If sprouts are large (more than 1 inch in diameter), cut them in quarters lengthwise through the stem end. If smaller, cut them in half.

Bring 2 quarts of water to boil, add salt and the sprouts. Boil the sprouts uncovered until they are just crunchy-tender, about 5 minutes. Do not overcook them. Drain the sprouts well.

Wipe and dry the pot and heat the olive oil in it. Add the red pepper flakes and garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the sprouts and nutmeg and sauté for another minute. Mix in the Parmesan cheese and toss the sprouts until the cheese melts.

Here’s a link to a previous post on braised brussels sprouts with bacon and thyme…

https://savorygourmet.wordpress.com/2011/03/07/braised-brussels-sprouts-with-bacon-thyme/

an evening of wolfgang

This past Sunday, we opted for an evening dinner of beef stew and spaetzle, celebrating combined German roots, and newly discovered recipes by Wolfgang Puck.  I recently read that one of the food trends for 2012 will be more preparation of comfort foods, sometimes, with a twist.  New twists on old favorites, such as the addition of jelly in this beef stew recipe.  There’s nothing better than a warm, comfort food on a Sunday in January, cooking on the stove all. day. long.  Mmm… And, the aroma coming from your kitchen might just tempt friends to knock at your front door…

We cooked our beef stew in an enameled cast iron dutch oven.  Perfect for browning meats and slow cooking them, which is key for tender, fall apart results.  Enameled cast iron pans are a “must buy”, by the way.  LOVE them.

The kids found the spaetzle very intriguing and were a little skeptical when their plates were presented before them. However, they couldn’t get enough of it!  Yay!  Always love a new recipe success, especially when enjoyed by the whole family.  The kids’ version of spaetzle was served minus the caramelized onions.  Perfect because Jeff and I love a few extra onions, caramelized… even better.

The spaetzle preparation was interesting…and, I now know that I will be on the search for a colander with slightly bigger holes.  The batter was to be pressed through the holes of the colander into a pot of salted boiling water.  Our colander worked, but made for mostly mini spaetzle.  Once boiled and drained, the soft, egg noodles were spread in a baking dish, dotted with butter and topped with shredded, gruyere cheese.  I don’t care much for gruyere on its own, but once melted and baked, it gives an amazing flavor.

Menu for the evening?

BEEF STEW WITH RED CURRANT JELLY & CREAM AND SPAETZLE WITH CARAMELIZED ONION & GRUYERE CHEESE

The beef stew is perfect alongside the spaetzle.  Enjoy!

Beef Stew with Red Currant Jelly and Cream
Adapted from Wolfgang Puck

4 pounds well-trimmed beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
2 large carrots, coarsely chopped
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons juniper berries (I substituted 2 tbsp dry gin)
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
1/4 cup peanut oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 quart chicken stock or low-sodium broth
3/4 cup red currant jelly (I substituted blackberry jam)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream

In a large bowl, toss the beef with the celery, carrots, onions, wine, bay leaves, juniper berries, rosemary and thyme. Cover and refrigerate overnight, stirring a few times.

Drain the meat and vegetables in a colander set over a bowl. Pick out the juniper berries and discard them; reserve the marinade. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Add half of the meat and vegetables and cook over moderately high heat until lightly browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Stir and cook until lightly browned all over, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and the meat and vegetables.

Return the meat and vegetables to the casserole. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Add the vinegar and stir to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the casserole. Add the reserved marinade and the tomato paste and simmer, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the stock and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the currant jelly, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the meat is very tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Drain the stew in a colander set over a bowl. Transfer the pieces of meat to a platter. Press on the solids in the colander to extract as much liquid as possible. Pour the liquid back into the casserole and return the meat to the pot. Stir in the cream and bring to a simmer. Season the stew with salt and pepper.

In a small saucepan, melt the remaining 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of red currant jelly over moderate heat, stirring. Ladle the stew into large shallow bowls. Drizzle the warm jelly over the stew and serve with the spaetzle.

Serve along side Spaetzle with Gruyère and Caramelized Onions  (RECIPE BELOW)

Spaetzle with Gruyere and Caramelized Onions
adapted from Wolfgang Puck

1 3/4 cups milk
4 large egg yolks
1 large egg
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyère cheese (5 ounces)
1 medium white onion, thinly sliced

In a small bowl, whisk the milk with the egg yolks and egg. In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the nutmeg, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Using a wooden spoon, stir the egg mixture into the flour, leaving a few lumps. Cover and refrigerate the batter for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare a large bowl of ice water. Carefully hold a colander with large holes over the boiling water. Add about 1/2 cup of the batter to the colander and press it into the simmering water with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Repeat until all of the batter has been used. Cook the spaetzle for 2 minutes longer, then drain. Immediately transfer the spaetzle to the ice water, swirling the dumplings until all of the ice melts. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.

Preheat the oven to 400°. Oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Spread the spaetzle in the dish and dot with the butter. Sprinkle with the cheese and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the spaetzle is hot and the cheese is just melted.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium skillet. Add the onion and cook over high heat until softened, about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to moderately low and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Scatter the onion over the spaetzle and serve.

Note:
The spaetzle can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated for up to 1 day.

Serve Spaetzle With Beef Stew with Red Currant Jelly and Cream in shallow bowls.