Sunday, August 26, 2018

Eric Ripert's Raspberry Clafoutis

Dear Clafoutis,

You are my new love. My new go-to dessert. My new....why didn't I make you before?

Thank you for being so very easy, and quick, and versatile! You are a fruity delight topped with yogurt, or whipped cream, or even ice cream. You are economical and yet sophisticated! You make a good dessert to eat solo, and yet, you are impressive enough for entertaining. Best of all, I can pretend you are healthy because you kind of are. Aren't you?

There is no denying your popularity. You, my dear, are a secret weapon.

All my love,
Kim xoxo

Raspberry Clafouti
Adapted from Epicurious
by Eric Ripert
Serves 2

1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup sugar + more for ramekin
1 large egg
6 tablespoons half and half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup fresh raspberries
Vanilla ice cream/whipped cream/yogurt -  optional*

Heat oven to 400F. Butter two 3-1/2 inch ramekins and dust with sugar.

Whisk egg until frothy and add sugar, half and half and vanilla extract; mix to combine.

Add the all-purpose flour and whisk very well.

Divide the raspberries into the ramekins and pour the batter over the raspberries.

Bake for 8-10 minutes (mine baked much longer/maybe 20 minutes) until golden brown and the middle is set.

Serve with a scoop of ice cream, whipped cream, or yogurt. 

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Eric Ripert's Shrimp with Orzo, Tomatoes, and Ginger

Do you ever have trouble sourcing ingredients? I do. I've always attributed it to the fact that I live in central Kentucky, and while it's certainly up and coming, it's not a major metropolitan area. I was surprised when my friend, Shirley at Ever Open Sauce, mentioned having trouble sourcing lemongrass as she lives in the metro New York City area. I suppose in my mind, you can find everything you want in New York City. The truth is, sourcing is an issue for all of us, regardless of where we live.

While Shirley did eventually source lemongrass, I could not. Interestingly enough, after Shirley tasted the dish she felt like the flavor of the lemongrass was lost and recommended using garlic instead. I was so happy when I read her helpful notes as garlic is much easier to source. Major score, because now I could stop trying to source that pesky lemongrass and forge ahead with this dish! Thanks Shirley for your help!

This is the kind of dish that I love. A handful of ingredients. Fresh flavors. Nothing fussy. Make it your own with the freshest seafood of your choosing. The original recipe was written to be Scallops with Orzo, Tomatoes, and Ginger and Shirley did use scallops. Her recipe looked wonderful and while I would've loved to use scallops, I had trouble sourcing them as well, go figure. I opted to use some Royal Red Shrimp fresh from the Alabama Gulf.

Orzo tossed in a sauteed mixture of minced ginger, garlic, lemon, basil, and tomatoes with some seared Royal Reds makes for a fresh and light dinner on a hot summer day.  I highly suggest making this easy, refreshing, light summer meal. It really hits the spot!

Shrimp with Orzo, Tomatoes, and Ginger
Adapted from Food and Wine
by Eric Ripert
Serves 4

1 cup orzo or other tiny pasta
One 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 large stalk of fresh lemongrass, the tender inner core of bottom third only, coarsely chopped (and or substitute with a clove or two of minced garlic)*
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil*
1-1/4 pounds tomatoes, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped basil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1-1/2 pounds large sea scallops or shrimp*
salt and pepper, to taste

*Notes: Feel free to use any seafood for this dish, as long as it is fresh. Also, the original dish called for vegetable oil, and quite a heavy hand, but I opted to use olive oil and used just a drizzle here and there to lighten things up.Also feel free to substitute garlic in place of the lemongrass.

In a saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the orzo, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, in a mini processor, mince the ginger with the lemongrass.  Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a medium skillet. Add the ginger and the lemongrass and cook over moderately high heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add 2 tablespoons of the basil and the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering. Add the scallops, or shrimp, season with salt and pepper and cook over high heat until browned on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Turn and cook for 1 minute longer.

Mound the orzo in shallow bowls or on plates and top with tomatoes and scallops/shrimp. Sprinkle with remaining basil and serve.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Ina Garten's Frozen Hot Chocolate + {Two Favorite Chilly Delights}

photo credit

They fell in love over a glass of Frozen Hot Chocolate. We fell in love with Frozen Hot Chocolate. This scene not only made the restaurant Serendipity famous, but it also made Frozen Hot Chocolate famous. For years I wanted to go to New York City and enjoy my very own glass of Frrrozen Hot Chocolate, just like John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale in the movie.

 When I finally made it to New York City, I didn't get a chance to go to Serendipity. There were way too many other things to see and do. Maybe next time. For now, Ina Garten's take on Frozen Hot Chocolate will have to do.

photo credit

Frozen hot chocolate is made by mixing melted chocolate, unsweetened cocoa powder, and half and half and then blending this mixture with whole milk, vanilla, ice, and coffee liqueur. Sounds like some rich and heavenly indulgent ingredients, and it is.

However, I was in a hurry and I never second guess Ina, so I bought the ingredients for this without giving the recipe any thought. Ina called for bittersweet chocolate, unsweetened cocoa powder, and only a tablespoon and a half of sugar. I should have paid attention. My son took one sip and spit it out. It was way too bitter for him. My daughter took one sip and fell in love with it. She loves dark chocolate, and coffee, and this drink was very reminiscent of both. She enjoyed her glass, and my son's. I added a touch more sugar for me and my husband and we ended up enjoying ours.

This really is a tasty decadent sipper, but I urge you think about your chocolate preference before making it. If I were making this drink for a group of younger kids, then I might use milk chocolate. If I were making this drink for anyone in general, my go to would be semisweet chocolate. Apparently Ina uses bittersweet. To each their own.

On another note, Ina's recipe says this serves four. It does serve four, if you can stomach a 10-ounce glass of something so rich and decadent.  I say it easily serves eight. I don't think there's anyway four people could drink a whole batch. So, do yourself a favor and halve the recipe, or make the whole recipe, and save half the mixture for another time.

Frozen Hot Chocolate
Adapted from Cooking For Jeffrey
by Ina Garten
Serves 8*

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate*
1-1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1-12 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup half and half
1-1/2 cups whole milk
4 tablespoons coffee liqueur
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 cups ice
sweetened whipped cream, for serving
mini chocolate chips, chocolate syrup, chocolate curls, for garnish

Note: This recipe was written to serve four people a 10 ounce serving. I think this serving size is way too much for something so rich. I'd say you could easily serve this to 8 people, possibly more. In addition, and most importantly, be sure to think about your chocolate preference prior to making this. I'd say most people would prefer using semisweet chocolate. Bittersweet chocolate was way too bitter for 3 of the 4 people in my household. If you're using the chocolate of your preference then you can't go wrong. This is a great treat!

Break the bittersweet chocolate into pieces and place it in a medium bowl set over a pot of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until just melted. Off the heat, whisk in the cocoa powder, sugar, and half and half and set aside.

Place 3/4 cup of the milk, 2 tablespoons of the coffee liqueur, 1/2 teaspoon of the vanilla, and half of the chocolate mixture in a blender. Add 2 cups of the ice and blend for several minutes, until the mixture is thick but not icy, like a frozen daiquiri (you can add more milk or ice if it's too thick or too thin). Pour into two (10-ounce) ice cream soda glasses and top each with a generous dollop of whipped cream and some chocolate garnish. Repeat for the second two glasses. Serve ice cold with straws and long-handled spoons.

Since we're celebrating chilly delights at I Heart Cooking Clubs this week I thought I'd share my two favorite, and extremely REFRESHING, treats with you! This creamy mango ice should come with a warning. It's that good. I still remember the day I made this. I kept going back to the freezer with my spoon and taking a bite. I couldn't stay away because it was so creamy, and sweet, and refreshing. When the ice was "all done" setting up in the freezer there was only enough left for a picture.

Because the Creamy Mango Ice was so crazy good, I also made Bayless' Fresh Lime Ice with Berries on a sweltering hot July day. Will it confuse you when I say that this Fresh Lime Ice was more refreshing than the Creamy Mango, but I liked the Creamy Mango Ice better? In the end I suppose it comes down to which fruit you like best!

Speaking of fruit, I encourage you to head over to Rick Bayless' website where you'll find even more refreshing ice recipes like Coconut, Avocado, Watermelon-Raspberry, and Prickly Pear. You can't go wrong as these are the ultimate in refreshing!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Eric Ripert's Grilled Figs with Honey-Mascarpone Cream

Figs can be difficult to source, but if you're lucky enough to find them, please do yourself a favor and snatch them up. A fig is ripe when it's soft and the thin skin rests close to the flesh, which smells rather fragrant. You will want to use your ripe figs right away! If the figs are firm, this means they are unripe and will be somewhat dry with an undeveloped center. You will definitely want to eat your figs when they are ripe. You can coax your figs to ripeness by leaving them in a single layer on the kitchen counter for a day or two. 

Once your figs are ripe, simply cut the figs in half and brush them with olive oil and honey. Grill them for a few minutes and drizzle them with a cloudlike sweet cream made of Mascarpone cheese, heavy cream, and honey. Garnish the figs with the cream and some chopped hazelnuts, or crumbled amaretti cookies, and a few sprigs of thyme for a spectacular sweet and juicy bite-sized delight! This is a perfectly healthy dessert and a great way to celebrate the late summer fig season! Make them and enjoy them while you can!

Eric Ripert's Grilled Figs with
Honey-Mascarpone Cream
Adapted from Avec Eric
by Eric Ripert
Serves 4

4 thin wooden or bamboo skewers*
8 large ripe fresh figs, halved lengthwise*
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons honey, divided
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup skinned roasted hazelnuts, lightly crushed*
thyme, for garnish

Note: I couldn't be bothered to soak skewers so I didn't use them. I simply placed the figs face down directly on the grill. I felt this was much easier! I couldn't find large figs so I used small bite-sized figs. I think this worked out better, as well. They were the perfect size. I don't much care for hazelnuts so I crushed some amaretti cookies and sprinkled them on top. If you couldn't find amaretti cookies or hazelnuts then chopped almonds would be a nice substitution.  

 Preheat the grill over high heat. Soak the skewers in water for at least 30 minutes to prevent them from scorching. Slide 4 fig halves onto each skewer, alternating each (top next to bottom) so that the fruit is fairly tight and the cut sides of the figs are facing one direction. Brush or drizzle the figs with the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the honey.

Place the skewers on the grill, cut sides down, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Meanwhile, gently whisk together the mascarpone, heavy cream and 2 tablespoons of the honey.

Carefully remove the skewers from the grill and arrange them on a platter or 4 individual serving plates. Spoon some of the mascarpone mixture and the remaining 2 tablespoons honey over and around the figs, and finish with the crushed hazelnuts and thyme leaves. Serve warm.