Sunday, July 26, 2020

Ina Garten's Plum Clafouti

A clafoutis is a pancake-like batter poured over fruit and baked. It is THE PERFECT thing for you to be baking right now! Times are tough and the cost of groceries is through the roof, so I'm bringing you a clafoutis that is very frugal, very easy, and very delicious. Probably the best clafouti I've ever tried.

I am pretty sure you have all the ingredients on hand to make a version of clafoutis. I chose plums because I had them on hand and they're a favorite. I love their sweet and sour nature in baked goods. Feel free to use cherries, peaches, and any kind of berry. Beyond a little bit of fruit, all you need are: eggs, sugar, a scant amount of flour, cream, baking powder, salt, vanilla, and lemon zest.

I love how the top of the clafouti gets perfectly golden brown and crisp, especially with a sprinkling of sugar while the inside of the clafoutis is soft and fluffy. This batter is especially delicious because you can really taste the vanilla and the lemon zest. The plums begin to melt away and leave their sweet and sour juices, mingling with the fluffy batter and crispy golden brown bits... it is pure heaven! Top this off with a little bit of yogurt, whipped cream, and or vanilla ice cream. Anyone would be pleased to enjoy this delicious dessert and they'd never know you whipped it up for just a few dollars!

Plum Clafloutis
Adapted from Cooking for Jeffrey
by Ina Garten
Serves 8

1 tablespoon butter, at room temp
granulated sugar
1 cup plums, 1/2" diced
good Armagnac
3 eggs, at room temp
1/3 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
granulated sugar, for dusting

Notes: I adapted this recipe from Ina's Prune Armagnac Clafouti. I wanted to use up my plums so I subbed them in place of the prunes. I also did not have Armagnac and I'm not sure I ever will, so I wanted to try my hand at this recipe without it. The results were heavenly. The vanilla and lemon zest gives such great flavor I really didn't miss the Armagnac (even though I'm sure it's even lovelier with it). In addition, I never have extra-large eggs and Ina is always calling for them in her baking recipes. I used 3 regular large eggs with perfect results. The original recipe calls for 1 cup prunes, diced 1/2".

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 10" round baking dish (I used a square pan) with the butter and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar.

In a small bowl, combine the prunes with 2 tablespoons of Armagnac and microwave on high for 1 minute. Set aside. (I skipped this step. Instead, I chopped two plums into 1/2" pieces. They were juicy so I didn't add any liquid).

In the bowl of an electric mixer (I used a hand mixer) fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and 1/3 cup granulated sugar on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and thick. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Combine the cream, vanilla, lemon zest, and 1 tablespoon Armagnac in a glass measuring cup. On low speeds, slowly add the dry ingredients to the batter and then add the liquid ingredients, mixing well. Set aside for 10 minutes.

Distribute the prunes/plums in the prepared pan and carefully pour on the batter. Sprinkle evenly with 1 teaspoon granulated sugar. Bake for 35 - 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool slightly, sprinkle with granulated sugar, and serve warm.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Curtis Stone's Spicy Sausage Breakfast Burritos...or Chimichangas

Who doesn't love a breakfast burrito or chimichanga for breakfast? We certainly never get our fill of them in my house. I find myself making them using up bits of meat, cheese, and veggies and changing them up each week, depending on what we have in the fridge.

The burrito or chimi is the perfect recipe for times such as these when you need to use what you have on hand because you DARE NOT go into the grocery since NO ONE can wear a mask. Seriously people, how hard is it? I don't want to hear the madness about being sheep. Just wear the mask.

Rant over. I love a breakfast burrito, but have you had a breakfast chimichanga? This is my new favorite thing. Not just for breakfast, but for lunch and even dinner. Take whatever filling you have on hand: beans, rice, and cheese; meat, veggies, and rice; eggs, veggies, and cheese; and stuff it into a big flour tortilla. Fold it up or roll it up. Place it in a good nonstick saute pan. You really don't need any oil or butter, maybe just a splash or a touch if you feel like it. Using tongs, turn the burrito every which way until the tortilla becomes golden brown and crispy all over. There you have it....a chimi with a crispy exterior and a toasted flavor that is sure to be a tastier version of any burrito around, and with very little to no added calories!

A chimi like this has been our new go to staple during the pandemic. Leftover taco meat and rice? Throw in some cheese and make a chimi. Leftover scrambled eggs and veggies? Turn it into a chimi. Only have beans and rice on hand? Add a touch of cheese and/or some veggies and turn it into a chimi. See the pattern here? It's easy and oh so delicious. There is only one rule: make the filling fresh or gently reheat whatever you stuff in your chimi (you don't want a cold filling). Either way, I haven't met a chimi I didn't like and it has been a very practical solution for the times we're in.

Now, I would be remiss if I didn't mention how delicious Curtis' filling is for these breakfast burritos/chimis. IT IS SO GOOD! I did change up the method a bit, but I kept the ingredients the same so I know the flavor combination is the same. Spicy from the hot sausage and jalapeno, flavorful from the sausage, green onions and peppers, and fresh from the cilantro. This is a winning combination for a breakfast burrito! Try it and see.

And whatever you do, start making chimis! 

Breakfast Burritos
by Curtis Stone
Makes 4

2 spicy Italian or Spanish style sausages*
6 large eggs*
2/3 cup heavy cream*
salt and pepper, to taste
drizzle of oil
2 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 red jalapeno, finely chopped*
1/4 to 1/2 cup finely grated cheese*
4 10-inch flour tortillas
hot sauce 

Note: I am going to deviate from Curtis' recipe quite a bit, but I feel as though the end result is the same. See deviations in parenthesis below. Curtis' directions are in regular font. Mine are in bold and in parentheses. I used half a pound of hot breakfast sausage, a touch of cream (certainly not 2/3 cup), an orange bell pepper in place of a jalapeno, and I added in about 1/4 -1/2 cup grated pepper jack cheese). I also used 4 eggs instead of 6 eggs for two reasons, to conserve eggs and also to have a meatier burrito since we haven't been eating as much meat lately.

Preheat the broiler. Place the sausages on a heavy rimmed baking sheet and broil for 3 minutes on each side until they are cooked through and golden brown. Set the sausages aside until they are cool enough to handle, then cut them diagonally into thin slices. (I much prefer to have the sausage crumbled into my mixture so I used one half pound spicy breakfast sausage and cooked it in the skillet until it was golden brown, adding the jalapeno, cilantro, and green onions towards the end to incorporate).

Using a fork, mix the eggs(using only 4 so the mixture was quite meaty), cream, salt and pepper in a large bowl to blend. Melt the butter in a large heavy nonstick saute pan over medium low heat. Add the egg mixture. Once the eggs are just set on the bottom of the pan, add the sausages, scallions, cilantro, and jalapeno. Stir the egg mixture very slowly with a silicone spatula, scraping from the bottom of the pan, for 3 to 5 minutes or until the eggs are no longer runny. (Since I cooked my sausage in the saute pan I went ahead and kept the sausage and oil from the sausage in my pan for more flavor. I whipped the eggs in a bowl with a touch of cream (certainly not 2/3 cup) and added the eggs to the pan with the sausage mixture, allowing it to set before sprinkling on some cheese and slowly incorporating the cheese until the eggs were done. I then removed the sausage and egg mixture to a bowl).

Meanwhile, heat a griddle pan over medium high heat. Cook each tortilla on the griddle for 1 minute on each side or until warmed and softened. Divide the egg mixture among the hot tortillas, and wrap the tortillas around the egg mixture to enclose it completely and form a burrito. Serve with your favorite hot sauce. (I used the same pan I cooked the sausage and egg mixture in, removing the mixture to a bowl. I laid my tortilla out, filled it with a substantial amount of filling, folded it up, and sauteed the burrito in my nonstick pan, until it was golden on all sides, using tongs to turn the burrito around. Then I placed the burrito (or maybe chimichanga) onto a plate and sliced it down the middle. Burrito, chimichanga? You decide!).

IHCC: Breakfast All Day!

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Ottolenghi's Shallow-Fried Potatoes with Sumac and Garlic Scapes

Groceries, especially meats, have been at an all-time high the past month. I'm talking $40 for a choice cut roast, $35 for five mediocre pork chops, and $18 for three pounds of ground beef. That is phenomenally high when you consider those things used to cost me $12, $8, and $10, respectively. For this reason, we've been skipping the meat and eating more veg.

I've been venturing out to my local farmer's market lately as it's not crowded and I want to support the local farmers. Garlic scapes are in season right now. If you're not familiar with them, they are the flowers of the garlic plant and need to be harvested prior to harvesting the garlic bulbs. I've been wanting to work with them for a while now but wasn't sure what to do with them.

Turns out, you use them just as you would use garlic. They say the garlic scapes are not as garlicky, so you may need to use more of them if you're using them as a replacement for garlic. Start by cutting the flowery part off - it is full of seeds and you may not wish to eat it (I used mine as a garnish only). You can cut the stem however you choose. I chose to cut mine on a bias, but thin slices will also work. It felt good to try something new.

Let's talk sumac. The sumac bush is native to the Middle East and produces deep red berries that are dried and ground into a coarse powder. It can be described as tart/sour and can be used in place of lemon. It also adds a bright pop of color. I have enjoyed it as a rub, sprinkled on top of hummus, and over certain Middle Eastern salads. I love the flavor, but I don't have an opportunity to use it that much, so I'm always looking for ways to use up my jar.

So now we have potatoes, garlic, garlic scapes, sumac, and bacon fat. Yes, I save my bacon fat. Ottolenghi uses olive oil to fry his potatoes, but in my experience, bacon fat is much more flavorful and effective. First of all, you don't have to use as much bacon fat and best of all, the potatoes will never burn. Bacon fat is simply superior. Start saving it.

You now have 5 superstar ingredients and a recipe for success. You cannot go wrong here. It may seem scary to cook the garlic cloves on the stovetop for 30 minutes - I was skeptical that they would burn and become bitter. This is not the case. I cooked this dish over low heat for 30 minutes and the garlic cloves become golden brown and caramelized, little nuggets of bliss. When I realized how beautiful the garlic was I wish I had used an entire head of garlic and I most definitely will next time!

This is a DELICIOUS dish. Trust me and throw in an entire head of garlic cloves. I loved pairing a potato with an entire caramelized clove of garlic and eating them together. Total heaven! The garlic scapes contributed a subtle garlic flavor but were really much more of a garnish than anything. The generous sprinkling of sumac goes a long way in brightening the whole dish up and making your mouth do a little pucker.

This is a fabulous side dish and/or appetizer and one that I would happily make again! We loved it!

Shallow-Fried Potatoes with Sumac and Garlic Scapes
Adapted from Ottolenghi Simple
by Yotam Ottolenghi
Serves 4

10 tablespoons olive oil*
1 pound potatoes, quartered lengthwise
5 garlic cloves, peeled
salt and pepper, to taste
3 rosemary sprigs*
3 thyme sprigs*
2 teaspoons sumac
2 garlic scapes, flowers removed, cut on a bias*

*Note: I altered this recipe to suit what I had on hand. I like to fry my potatoes in bacon fat and I had some on hand, so I subbed bacon fat for olive oil. I also decided to sub the rosemary and thyme for some fresh organic garlic scapes. You can use garlic scapes as you would use garlic, but take note that they are not as garlicky as the cloves.

Get a really good nonstick fry pan or cast iron and place oil and or bacon fat over low-medium heat. Once hot, add potatoes, garlic, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Fry gently for 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until potatoes are golden brown and soft. Add rosemary and thyme and or garlic scapes and fry for another 5 minutes, until herbs or scapes are aromatic.

Use a slotted spoon - you want most of the oil to be drained off - to transfer the potatoes and herbs or scapes to a serving plate. Stir in the sumac and serve.

Farmer's Market/Local Feed Week @ IHCC