Sunday, April 19, 2015

Jacques Pepin's Coquilles St. Jacques

I'm fairly certain there are no words, or pictures, that are good enough to describe how magnificent Pepin's Coquilles St. Jacques were. This classical French recipe exceeded our expectations. It's fair to say it blew our minds!

Don't make the same mistake as me and wait too long to make this one.  Add it to the top of your list, move it to the top of your list, or do whatever you gotta do...but make this and make this soon!

Coquilles St. Jacques, or gratin of scallops, is fit for royalty! It's very impressive on the plate and oh so heavenly. It all begins with a mushroom puree that cooks down for 25 minutes resulting in a very earthy and concentrated mushroom flavor. This mushroom base is the first layer of flavor and this layer is so flavorful you need little seasoning elsewhere. Next up is a beautifully seasoned poaching liquid whereby the scallops are poached until perfectly tender. This poaching liquid is then reduced and added to a velvety cream and Gruyere cheese sauce that is the stuff of dreams. Seriously.  Layer this heavenly sauce over the scallops and broil until browned and bubbly for a sensational first course, or even main course, fit for entertaining royalty.

This is my selection for this months Mystery Box Madness over at IHCC. We were given a list of ten ingredients (Scallops, Tarragon, Sour Cream, Walnuts, Capers, Asparagus, White Beans, Gruyere, Yeast, and Rice) to cook with and had to chose at least three. I chose scallops, tarragon, and Gruyere simply because I have little experience cooking with scallops and I'm so happy I chose to make Pepin's Coquilles St. Jacques. It's one of our new favorite dishes!

Coquilles St. Jacques
Recipe found on Saveur
by Jacques Pepin
Serves 6

 8 oz. button mushrooms, minced
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
3 small shallots, minced
2 tbsp. minced parsley
1 tbsp. minced tarragon, plus 6 whole leaves, to garnish
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¾ cup dry vermouth
1 bay leaf
6 large sea scallops
2 tbsp. flour
½ cup heavy cream
⅔ cup grated Gruyère
½ tsp. fresh lemon juice

Heat mushrooms, 4 tbsp. butter, and ⅔ of the shallots in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium heat; cook until the mixture forms a loose paste, about 25 minutes. Stir parsley and minced tarragon into mushroom mixture; season with salt and pepper. Divide mixture among 6 cleaned scallop shells or shallow gratin dishes. Bring remaining shallots, vermouth, bay leaf, salt, and ¾ cup water to a boil in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Add scallops; cook until barely tender, about 2 minutes. Remove scallops; place each over mushrooms in shells. Continue boiling cooking liquid until reduced to ½ cup, about 10 minutes; strain. Heat broiler to high. Heat remaining butter in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Add flour; cook until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add reduced cooking liquid and cream; cook until thickened, about 8 minutes. Add cheese, juice, salt, and pepper; divide the sauce over scallops. Broil until browned on top, about 3 minutes; garnish each with a tarragon leaf.
Theme: April Mystery Box Madness

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Jacques Pepin's Pasta & Ham Gratin

This glorious gratin is a fantastic way to use up that leftover ham from Easter.  A comforting combination of pasta, ham, peas, and Gruyere cheese tossed in a creamy and smooth bechamel sauce then topped with a lots of Parmesan that gets all browned and crispy.  It's heavenly!

This is the first Jacques Pepin recipe that I've made and it was a smashing success! I'm really looking forward to cooking and exploring Pepin's recipes. He has a large variety of recipes from various cuisines around the world, but it's his traditional French recipes that really draw me in. Over the next six months I hope to get familiar with lots of classical French dishes, from Coquilles St. Jacques to Chocolate Mousse. Who knows, I may even try my hand at some homemade croissants!

Time to break out the butter and Champagne.

Pasta, Ham, and Veggie Gratin
Adapted from Fast Food My Way
by Jacques Pepin
Serves 4

Jacques says, "My mother loved gratins, and leftover meat and cold cuts always found their way into our pasta, usually along with zucchini or peas. I have made gratins for my family through the years."

About 1-3/4 cups pasta shells or penne
1-1/2 cups diced cooked ham
3/4 cup cooked corn kernels (1 ear of corn)*
1/2 cup peas, fresh or frozen
1-1/2 cups cubed  (1/2-inch) zucchini*
3/4 cup grated Swiss/Gruyere/Emmenthaler cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

White Sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Note: I didn't have corn or zucchini so I opted to use only peas. Broccoli and/or Cauliflower would also be nice.

 Bring about 2 quarts salted water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the pasta, stir well, and return to a boil.  Boil, uncovered, until cooked but still slightly firm, or al dente, about 12 minutes. Drain, cool under cold running water, then drain again. (You will have 3 cups.)

Put the cooked pasta in a large bowl and stir in the ham, corn, peas, zucchini, salt, pepper, and cheese.

For the white sauce:  Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour, and mix it in with a whisk. Add the milk and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally with the whisk, especially at the edges of the saucepan. The sauce should thicken. Remove the pan from the heat, and mix in the cream. Let cool to lukewarm.

Heat the broiler.  Combine the sauce with the pasta mixture in the bowl and transfer to a gratin dish or shallow baking dish with about 6 cup capacity.  Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top.

Broil about 4 inches from the heat source for 6-8 minutes, or until bubbly hot and the surface is lightly browned.  Serve immediately.

Make Ahead Instructions: The gratin can be made ahead, sprinkled with Parmesan, and kept, covered at room temperature for a few hours or refrigerated for up to a day before it is finished in the oven. If refrigerated, bring back to room temperature and bake on a cookie sheet for about 30 minutes in a 425F oven until heated through and lightly browned on top. Do not try to keep the cooked gratin in a warm oven for more than 10 to 15 minutes, or the pasta will swell up in the liquid and become gooey.
I Heart Cooking Clubs
Theme: Bonjour Jacque Pepin

Sunday, April 5, 2015

My Top Five Diana Henry Recipes

Over at I Heart Cooking Clubs we've been cooking the recipes of Diana Henry for the past six months. Usually I have a tendency to chose main dish recipes, but this time around I mixed it up and cooked quite a selection. I made breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I made vegetarian dishes as well as meat-based dishes. I cooked some of her healthy recipes but also managed a few indulgent dishes. I even made a dessert! Everything I made was tasty, but these were my top five!

Click on recipe name to be redirected to original post

Of all the Diana Henry recipes I tried, this Kale Pesto with Pasta was my personal favorite. I'm rather biased since I happen to love kale, but I will say that everyone in my house thought this was delicious! Hearty, flavorful, robust and satisfying...I've made it a few times already.

If I were to pick an overall family favorite, it would be these Asian Pork Balls with Chili Dipping Sauce. They were pretty much exploding with flavor and incredibly fun to eat. They disappeared in record time.

Of course, it's hard to beat a good ol' indulgent bowl of creamy pasta and this Spaghetti with Bacon, Egg, and Cheese is just that. This dish is a mix between Fettuccine Alfredo and Spaghetti Carbonara and is perfect comfort food. My teenage daughter loved it!

Broccoli is pretty much our favorite veggie, hands down.  My entire family enjoyed this refreshing Broccoli with Ricotta, Lemon, and Parmesan. If you're looking for a fun new way to serve your broccoli give this a try!

Lastly, I love all things maple. This maple baked granola is perfect as a snack, served with milk, or sprinkled over yogurt. Doesn't really matter what type of fruit or nuts you mix into it. Just pour the maple syrup on your choice of ingredients and bake.
Theme: Farewell Diana Henry!
For the next six months we will be cooking the recipes of the one and only Jacques Pepin! It's going to be a wonderful adventure cooking up his recipes. If you would like to cook along, visit our site at I Heart Cooking Clubs, or click here to be directed to our Welcome page.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sweet Cinnamon Breakfast Pizza

This Sweet Cinnamon Breakfast Pizza has been on my must-make list ever since Giada made it on her original cooking show, Everyday Italian, which was quite frankly many years ago.  I suppose this proves my must-make list is way too long. I mean I actually have recurring nightmares about my list. In my dream someone is chasing me and I tell them I can't die because I have way too many recipes left to cook! The pressure...

I'm so happy I finally got around to this Sweet Cinnamon Breakfast Pizza. It's so pretty! Imagine sweet buttery crust dusted with cinnamon-sugar, spread with a heavy-hand of creamy mascarpone cheese, topped with ripe juicy fruit. It's a little bit of heaven on a plate.

It's also the perfect treat for the season, whether you serve it for Easter Brunch, Mother's Day, Bridal Showers, Graduation, or any other spring celebration.  I also love that you can make this ahead of time. Let's face it. Hosting parties is always stressful and we all need as many make ahead gems as possible.  Feel free to change up the berries as you like. Use whatever is in season in your part of the world.  Just do me a favor and keep it in mind for your upcoming celebrations. You won't be sorry.

Sweet Cinnamon Breakfast Pizza
Adapted from Food Network
By Giada Delaurentiis
Serves 4-6

1 store-bought pizza dough
2 tablespoons butter, melted
4 tablespoons Cinnamon-Sugar, divided, recipe follows
2 cups mascarpone cheese
1 tablespoon heavy cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
2 cups mixed berries

1 vanilla bean
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

To Make Cinnamon-Sugar: Cut the vanilla bean in half, lengthwise. Using the back of a knife, scrape along the inside of the vanilla bean to collect the seeds. Scrape vanilla bean seeds into a small bowl. Add sugar and cinnamon and stir to combine. Set aside in a small serving bowl.

To Make Pizza:  Using a rolling pin, roll out the pizza dough to a thickness of about 1/4 inch (Keep in mind how thick you'd like your pizza to be. I wish I had made mine a bit thinner).  Transfer the pizza dough to the lined baking sheet and brush the dough with the melted butter. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons Cinnamon-Sugar and bake until golden brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Cool the pizza crust on a wire rack.

To Make The Topping:  In a medium bowl, mix together the cheese, cream, lemon juice, and zest. Spread the cheese mixture over the cooled crust. Top with mixed berries and sprinkle with the remaining Cinnamon-Sugar. Slice like a pizza and serve.
Theme: March Potluck!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Spaghetti with Bacon, Egg, and Cheese

This week at I Heart Cooking Clubs we're celebrating dishes that are Suitable For The Screen, or food that you can enjoy while watching TV.  I will confess that anything, and I do mean ANYTHING, is suitable TV fare.  Fruit, chips, nuts, popcorn, chips, candy, ice cream, cookies, cereal, fried chicken, fries, soup, pizza, and pasta to name a few.

For this particular screening, I wanted to be a total couch potato so I was looking for something extravagant, calorie-laden, and comforting. This Spaghetti with Bacon, Egg, and Cheese seemed like the perfect dish to enjoy while snuggled up on the couch settling in for a good old TV marathon.  Reminiscent of Fettuccine Alfredo, this dish is creamy, cheesy, and the epitome of comfort food. The bacon and fried eggs add that special touch that make this dish simply over the top. We're talking food coma. You can happily while away the afternoon cleaning off your DVR after enjoying a bowl. After all, someone has to clean off the DVR.

Cue the remote and grab a bowl.
Spaghetti with Bacon, Egg, and Cheese
Recipe found on Kitchen Flavours 
Adapted from Pure Simple Cooking
by Diana Henry 

12 ounces spaghetti
3-4 tablespoons butter or olive oil
8 ounces of bacon, sliced
4 large eggs
1 cup cream*
1/2 cup Parmesan, plus extra for garnishing
3 to 4 tablespoons parsley, chopped
salt and pepper

Note: The cream is my addition to this recipe. You could add a splash of cream or up to 1 cup of cream. I found my pasta to be somewhat dry so I added around 3/4 cup of cream. If you have leftovers simply add a splash of cream or milk and reheat.

Cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente. When it's almost ready, heat 1 tbsp of the butter, or olive oil, in a large frying pan and cook the bacon until crisp and well coloured. Transfer bacon to a dish. Fry the eggs in remaining bacon fat, spooning the warm oil up over the top of the eggs to cook the yolks. Season with salt and pepper.

Drain the pasta, then put it back in the saucepan. To the pasta, add the remaining butter or extra virgin olive oil, a little salt, pepper, the bacon, cream, Parmesan, parsley and, and toss. Sprinkle on extra grated Parmesan, and top each serving with a fried egg. Serve immediately.

Theme:Suitable For The Screen

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Donna Hay's Irish Beef Stew w/ Puff Pastry Dippers

A lovely beef stew to celebrate St. Patrick's Day! The puff pastry dippers are a fun twist to this hearty Irish inspired Beef Stew. After all, who can argue with a puff pastry dipper?  Especially when you can dunk into this thick, herbaceous, meaty, and veggie-packed stew?

We're cooking with our mystery box ingredients over at I Heart Cooking Clubs this week. Participants are asked to choose at least three of the following ingredients: bacon, mushrooms, thyme, cucumber, cumin, leeks, apricots, pistachios, ricotta,and orange flower water. We can then chose any recipe from one of these illustrious chefs: Nigella Lawson, Mark Bittman, Giada de LaurentiisJamie Oliver, Tessa Kiros, Rick Bayless, Madjur Jaffrey, Yotam Ottolenghi, Donna Hay, Nigel Slater, or Diana Henry

I knew I wanted to make a beef stew so I chose bacon, mushrooms, and thyme as my ingredients. Then I searched high and lo for a hearty beef stew recipe until this one caught my eye! I loved the idea of adding cornstarch to thicken the soup, but I must admit it was the puff pastry dippers that won me over! This stew was a massive hit! I highly recommend it!

Beef Stew with Puff Pastry Dippers
Adapted from Donna Hay's Seasons
Serves 4-6

5-6 slices of bacon, cut into lardons
1 pound beef chuck, cubed
1 onion, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup mushrooms, diced
2 carrots, sliced
1 cup potato, cubed
1 cup peas
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
2 cups beef broth
1 cup Stout/Dark Lager, or water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water, to make a slurry
1 block puff pastry, thawed
herbs to garnish puff pastry, if desired

  1. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Coat with oil, and add the bacon and cook until it becomes crisp.
  3. Remove bacon from the pan with slotted spoon. Brown beef in bacon fat. Remove from pan.
  4. Add mushrooms, onion, carrot, and potato, and cook for 4-5 minutes.
  5. Add the garlic, thyme, and bay leaves, and cook for 30 seconds. 
  6. Add the beef and three-fourths of the bacon (reserving some for garnish) back into the pot.
  7. Add the beef broth and 1 cup of water to the pot and bring to a boil.
  8. Simmer for 1½ hours or until the beef is tender.
  9. While the stew is simmering, preheat the oven to 400°F.
  10. Roll out the puff pastry and cut into 6–8 strips.
  11. If desired, brush the puff pastry with melted butter and fresh herbs.
  12. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown and perfectly puffed.
  13. Prepare a slurry of cornstarch and water.
  14. Add slurry to simmering beef stew and simmer, stirring, until it is thickened.
  15. Stir in the peas and allow to cook for a few minutes.
  16. Serve ladle-fulls of the stew with the golden strips of puff pastry.

Theme:March Mystery Box Madness
Souper Sundays: Every Sunday at Kahakai Kitchen

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Roast Chicken with Dijon and Maple Syrup

"I came downstairs to see what smells so good" my daughter said. That girl and her nose...they don't ever miss a beat.  Chicken roasting, sauce simmering, or bread baking. She smells it all.  She can even smell pasta boiling. I'm not really sure how she's mastered the scent of pasta hitting boiling water, but her nose never seems to betray her.  

In this case her little sniffer was smelling the heavenly scent of this savory roast chicken bathed in Dijon mustard and maple syrup. To her credit, the smell was enough to make anyone's mouth water. The comforting aroma of chicken roasting on a cold, snowy day...I'm pretty sure there's nothing better.

Roast Chicken with Dijon and Maple Syrup 
Adapted from The Telegraph
by Diana Henry
Serves 4

5-6 chicken legs or thighs*
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
4 tbsp maple syrup
2 carrots, chopped into large chunks
1 shallot, cut into rings
salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Notes: You can roast a whole chicken using the spatchcocking method or use chicken pieces.  I used legs because it's what I had on hand.  Cooking times vary depending on the size of your chicken. I served this chicken with brown rice and broccoli.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place chicken and carrots in a cast iron skillet or casserole dish. Top with Dijon mustard, maple syrup, shallot, and salt and pepper, to taste.  Mix well to incorporate.  Place into the preheated oven and bake for around 60 minutes, or until juices run clear.

Theme: Heaven Scent