Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Notes: February 2016

14 February 2016

"Chicken Marsala a la Ryan's Cafe"

Recipe from Food Wishes

This is one of Diane's favorite dishes, along with Steak Diane, and so appropriate for Valentine's Day. I have made it before but not using this recipe which is an old one from Chef John of Food Wishes. As with other versions the preparation is pretty simple, though it took me longer to fix than I expected. 

I served this with noodles, which was a mistake. The star of the dish is the sauce so it is best served with something that can soak up that sauce. The sauce is too thin to stick to wide egg noodles so it was not a good fit. As a leftover Diane served it with boiled white potatoes which was better. Also, I should have pounded the boneless chicken breasts. They would have cooked better if they were of uniform thickness and if the two breasts were of similar thickness. Nonetheless they were good and this recipe is worth using again.

"Chocolate Cream Pie"

Recipe from Cook's Illustrated Baking Book, 2013, p. 399

I have written several times about French Silk Pie which we really enjoy. I thought about making that for our Valentine's Day dessert, but for some reason I wasn't interested in making a pie crust. (My pie crusts come out OK but still intimidate me, it's the rolling out and shaping where I lack confidence.) So I looked in the Cook's Illustrated Baking Book where I found a recipe for a pie with chocolate custard and an Oreo crust rather than a pastry crust. 

Like graham cracker crust, the Oreo crust is easy to make. Oreos are ground up, filling and all, in the food processor, melted butter is added, the mixture is pressed into a pie pan and baked. I had a little trouble using the bottom of a measuring cup to press the crust into the pan because it stuck to the cup, but my hands worked pretty well.

The filling is a straightforward custard with egg yolks, chocolate, butter, and a few other ingredients. It was pretty easy to make and, unlike the filling for the French Silk Pie, did not require 20 minutes of mixing with a hand mixer on the stove.

This pie is a keeper! It may replace the French Silk Pie because it is easier to make and just about as good. The filling is chocolaty, smooth, and creamy. The crush is crispy, like a cookie. Served with whipped cream we enjoyed for dessert for four nights in succession.

21 February 2016

"Easy Oven-Cooked Pulled Pork"

Recipe from Serious Eats

I had been wanting to try a winter-time, indoor pulled pork for some time. I had been thinking it would be made in a slow cooker until I found this new recipe on Serious Eats.  I was skeptical about the "easy" part of the name when viewing the long ingredient list, but it was indeed easy. The recipe is for a 5 to 7 pound pork shoulder but I was happy to get a 2.7 pound roast at Whole Foods. I did not adjust the amounts of the other ingredients which mostly went into making the barbecue sauce. 

A dry rub is made by mixing spices, all of which I already had. (I got to use our little mortar and pestle grinding up fennel seed.) Some of this is rubbed on the pork which is then browned in a Dutch oven before being roasted in the oven. I cooked it for 3 hours with the lid on and then another 30 minutes without the lid at which time the pork was nicely tender and pull-able.

The star of the dish is the sauce which was also easy to make. It requires no cooking, just mixing, other than the liquid that was used with the pork. The recipe calls for burning off the alcohol in the 1 cup of bourbon, but I didn't do this due to safety concerns. The sauce is rich, dark, and full of flavor. If we don't use it all on the pulled pork I'm confident it will keep and be delicious on other meats after the pork is gone. I applied the sauce as a condiment but I think it would be better to mix the pulled pork and sauce together just before serving.

28 February 2016

"Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache Filling and Creamy Chocolate Filling"

Cupcake and Frosting recipes from May 2010 Cook's Illustrated

We rarely have cake of any sort because Diane is not a fan. However, we signed up to bring dessert to a church social event and that seemed a good time to try this recipe. And it is very chocolate. And it is pretty easy to make. It takes a little time because after you melt the chocolate for the ganache, using hot coffee, you need to cool it before you add it to the cake batter.

Even with all of the coffee in the recipe the cupcakes did not have a strong coffee flavor. And they were good with a moist but firm texture that even Diane appreciated. The ganache was not as prominent as I would have liked; perhaps it was not cold enough as it seemed to be at the bottom of the cupcake. The smooth frosting was well balanced, not too sweet, and complimented the cake well.

These were best fresh, though they were OK as leftovers, so this recipe is probably best used when baking for a crowd.

"Tagliatelle with Prosciutto and Peas for Two"

Recipe from March 2015 Cook's Illustrated

This is a nice pasta dish, good to eat and quick to fix taking 45 minutes from start to finish. The ingredient list is short: primarily is includes shallots, prosciutto, cream, peas, and two kinds of cheese -- Parmesan and Gruy√®re to dress the wide egg-noodles.  It could have been even better if I had purchased more expensive prosciutto, but the cheese was expensive enough. The recipe is "for two" but we got two meals out of it, so for us it served four and it made a reasonably good left over. We ate it with some homemade sourdough bread.