Saturday, December 25, 2010

Eggs Benedict with Cornmeal-Rye pancakes

Eggs Benedict is a Christmas morning tradition in the Jenison household.  We get up, make coffee, open presents for awhile, then stop and make brunch.  This year I decided to change the bread component in the dish.  A friend of ours cooked cornmeal-rye pancakes during a recent stay.  It occurred to me that these would be good sweet or savory, potentially perfect for eggs benny!

canadian bacon
hollandaise sauce (I buy prepared to save time)
english muffins, toasted, or cornmeal rye pancakes, prepared and kept warm in oven
smoked paprika
salt and pepper

Pancake ingredients:
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup rye flour
2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon salf
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Mix the cornmeal, rye flour, salt, and baking soda together in a large bowl.  Stir in the butter and buttermilk, and mix until blended.
Heat a griddle to medium hot and film with grease.  Spoon on about 2 tablespoons batter for each pancake.  Cook until a few bubbles form on top, turn the pancakes over, and cook until the bottoms are lightly browned.  Serve hot (or keep warm until eggs are prepared, then assemble each portion).

Heat canadian bacon and hollandaise sauce to serving temperature.  Keep warm until eggs are cooked.

To poach an egg, fill a pot to twice the depth of an egg with water.  Add a 1/2 tsp of salt, and a tablespoon of vinegar.  Bring water to a near-boil.  Swirl the water around madly with a spoon, and while water is swirling add the egg.  Cook at medium temp for 5 minutes, then ladle egg and drain with a slotted spoon.

To assemble:  place cornmeal rye cake on plate, top with one slice of canadian bacon, one egg, the top with hollandaise sauce, a pinch of paprika, and salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

Hint:  You may wish to prepare all the ingredients in advance and keep warm until all the eggs have been poached, then assemble and serve.

The consensus was the cornmeal rye cakes were delicious under the eggs benedict.  I actually preferred them over English muffins because they were nuttier tasting and easier to eat.  Try them and let me know what you think!

The cornmeal rye pancake recipe comes from our friend Teller via The Breakfast Book by Marion Cuningham, Knopt publisher.
eggs poaching in a pan of water

half-eaten eggs benny

the smoked paprika really adds to the flavor of the dish-yum!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Grandma Norm's Famous Holiday Sugar Cookes

Nothing says Christmas like beautifully decorated sugar cookies!  Each year we make and bake off a batch of these buttery cookies.  It just wouldn't be Christmas without them.
Below you will see what happens when 3 art school kids get hold of sugar cooke dough.  I can't find the naked women cookies, but be assured that I will post them when they surface.  In the meantime, here is my mother-in-law's famous recipe, along with photos.  Enjoy!

Grandma Norm’s Xmas Sugar Cookies


2 cups sugar
2 cups butter
3 eggs
6 cups flour
1 teaspoon soda
1 slightly rounded teaspoon salt
1 tsp vanilla
½ teaspoon almond extract (optional)
finely chopped zest from one-two lemons (optional)

Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy.  Add eggs, vanilla, and optional ingredients.  Gradually add flour.  The dough will become very dry.
Cover and refrigerate until dough is chilled through. 

Roll dough in roughly one cup increments to ¼ inch thickness.  Use a dusting of flour on work surface and rolling pin to prevent sticking. 
Cut cookie shapes and place on cooking baking sheet.  You may wish to place on parchment paper or a silpat.

Bake at 350 for 8=12 minutes, depending on personal preference.

Frost and decorate!

*Optional ingredients were added by Leslie to this recipe over the years to adjust for taste.

a custom designed cookie depicting our Schnauzer, Bizzi
I'm sure you all remember the Furby craze....

the contoured pear
Claire at the cookie decorating station

Claire frosts cookies while Natalie supervises

a selection of fantastic cookies

Luren offers a selection to her father

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Green Chicken Chili with Truffle-oiled croutons

This is a quick and wonderful meal to use for leftover chicken or turkey, as well as a rotisserie chicken from the store.

cooked chicken or turkey, shredded or cubed
cooked bacon or speck, chopped
onion, chopped,
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
one jar green chili stew
olive oil, 1-2 tablespoons

shredded cheese
sour cream
avocado, cut into large chunks

To prepare:
Sautee onion and garlic in olive oil in a large soup pan or stockpot.  Add chopped bacon and heat through.  Add chicken or turkey, then add green chili stew.  Heat approximately 15 minutes on medium heat.

In the meantime, prepare croutons.
Optional ingredients may be added as garnish just prior to serving.  Enjoy!

chicken, roasted in the slow-cooker (not recommended!)

speck, oven-cooked and chopped

onion and garlic sauteing in a stock pot

roasted chicken is chopped and added to pot

green chili stew is added to pot

add chicken broth to desired consistency

ingredients finish heating

 For croutons:
mix small amount truffle oil with grapeseed or other plain olive oil

use a pastry brush to add oil to surface of bread

"paint" the bread with the oil mixture, then cube the bread prior to sauteing in pan

add to sautee pan.  Cook on medium heat until croutons are toasted on all sides.  Turn frequently.

Standing Rib Roast with roasted sweet potatoes & onions, sauteed mushrooms, spinach with speck, craisins, and pinon nuts

This is the first time I have cooked a standing rib roast.  I don't know why I waited so long:  this was delicious and so easy to do!

one standing rib roast (mine was 7.25 lbs)
olive oil
salt and pepper (optional)
balsamic vinegar (optional)
1/2 cup red wine (optional)
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (optional)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.  That's right:  200 degrees!

Make several thin slices into the surface of the roast and insert the garlic slivers.  Rub surface of roast with olive oil, then salt and pepper.  Tie the roast in at least 3 places between ribs.  This assures even cooking and prevents the roast from falling apart.

Over the stove, preheat a heavy Dutch oven.  Sear the roast on 4 sides, turning after about 3 minutes per side.  Drizzle a small amount (2-3 tablespoons) balsamic vinegar over the roast and place the Dutch oven into the low-heat oven.  Cook the roast until the internal temperature reads 110 degrees.  Be sure the thermometer does not contact the bone when measuring.  Add the red wine by pouring over the roast. Raise the oven temperature to 500 degrees for approximately 10-15 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 130 degrees.  Remove from oven and allow roast to rest for 20 minutes prior to carving.  Serve with a pan reduction of the juices from the roast.
This is the juiciest, most evenly cooked roast I have ever tasted.  The recipe is a loose interpretation of the recommended cooking method from Cook's Illustrated Best Recipes cookbook.  I added a few things.  It is fantastic!  It got rave reviews from the fam.
Here is my Costco-acquired rib roast

I used the grapeseed oil to rub over the meat prior to serving. 
I rubbed a small amount of the truffle oil, along with the blackberry balsamic vinegar, prior to inserting the roast in the oven

slices of garlic were placed in small cuts in the roast surface

roast is seared in the Dutch oven on the stove

just out of the oven, the roast will "rest" for 20 minutes prior to carving.

Perfect, juicy, tender, and flavorful.

A simple combination of cross-cut slices of sweet potato and onion.
roasted until onions are slightly caramelized and sweet potatoes soft.  
Toss in olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and roast for approximately 30-40 minutes @ 350.

Sauteed spinach with speck, craisins, and pinon nuts
Speck is German bacon.  It is leaner and it is smoked with cherrywood.
I like to bake it on a broiling pan for even doneness and less spattering!
Chop 2 or 3 slices.

Add one pound fresh spinach, washed and drained, to wok or large non-stick skillet and wilt

turn spinach frequently with tongs.  Add speck and allow spinach to continue cooking.
Just before serving add craisins and pinon nuts. 

Sauteed mushrooms and pan reduction.
I added one tablespoon of flour to 3 tablespoons water and a splash of wine,
then added the slurry to the pan juices and it made a wonderful pan reduction "gravy" to serve over the sliced roast.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Roasted Salmon, Vegetables, and bacon-wrapped jalapenos with cheese

Roasted golden beets, kolrabi, carrots, and leeks plated with
bacon-wrapped jalapenos and roasted salmon with sliced almonds

Bacon-wrapped jalapenos:
jalepenos, stemmed, seeds removed, sliced in half lengthwise
pork sausage
cream cheese

Put small, quarter-size round of sausage in jalapeno half, top with cream cheese, wrap with half-slice of bacon.
Place on roasting pan.
Roast at 425 degrees for 20-35 minutes, depending on how crisp you want the bacon.

Scrub and slice beets and leeks, using care to assure there is no dirt in the center of the leeks.
Scrub the exterior of the carrots and leave small ones whole.  I remove the top of the beets.
Toss in olive oil and spread on roasting pan.

Roast at 350 for 35-40 minutes, check for tenderness. 

Roast Salmon filet (skin on) with sliced almonds

Choose a filet of salmon, preferably wild-caught, that is firm, deep pink in color and smells like the sea.

Place on roasting pan, skin down.  
Use a dry rub, or simply salt and pepper.  Drizzle a small amount of olive or grapeseed oil down the center of the filet.  Sprinkle with sliced almonds.
Roast at 350 for approximately 12-14 minutes, depending on size.  Salmon should be just barely cooked through for best flavor.  Avoid the temptation to over-cook!

Remove from oven and serve immediately.  

Monday, December 20, 2010

Central Market Spice Shopping

I'm so fortunate to be living near a Central Market!  Central Markets are the high-end, gourmet versions of the HEB market chain in South-Central Texas.  Anyone who has been in a CM knows what I'm talking about:  wide varieties of fresh everything!
I made a trip this afternoon when I was preparing to make a large batch of curry powder and discovered I was out of cumin seed.  An inventory of my spice cabinet informed me that I needed to toss a number of things and obtain fresh.  I love going to Central Market because most any spice you need is in bulk.  I like this because it is always fresh, I can buy a small amount, and replace outdated spice regularly without a grain of guilt.
a lovely selection of heirloom tomatoes

my curry mix being toasted in a pan prior to grinding in a mini food processor

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Cookie Baking Tradition

Brown Sugar Christmas Tree

My friend Billie has been part of a trio of women that gather once a year in December to bake and share cookies.  This month they celebrated the 25th year of this tradition!  
Last year the local paper wrote a story about their gathering.  This year, Billie created a self-pubished book with selected photos and their recipes.  Here is an excerpt from the book:
"As the years rolled on there was marriage, divorce, careers, children, adult children, grandchildren, parents, siblings and friends. But on cookie day, time was still as we baked, laughed and at times, felt sad for the challenges that life brings. Through snowstorms, fires, spiders and tipsy work colleagues, we produced every year.  As the day would end, we sorted by three's and began to take our share. At that moment, it seemed like those thousands of cookies we had baked all day had somehow diminished... but home they went to eager families."

"Oh, how we tried to watch over our cookies and save them for ourselves; but, alas, the joy of the Christmas Cookie was shared by all ..."

On the last page is a photo that says… May your cookies last until Christmas!  

I asked her to share their favorite recipes, and she generously offered the following selections.
She notes, "We also use the Joy of Cooking “Rich Roll Cookies” – using freshly grated lemon is our secret!"

Brown Sugar Cookies

1 1-pound package brown sugar
2 cups (4 sticks) butter, softened
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
4 ½ cups unsifted flour
(pinch of salt)

1.     Cream sugar and butter together until fluffy; add vanilla.  Mix in flour.
(Or place all ingredients in bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade
and process until dough forms a ball.)  Shape into a smooth ball, cover
and chill.  (May be stored up to a week.)
2.     Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
3.     Pinch off about 1/6 of dough at a time; flatten and roll out on a floured
surface to 1/8-inch thickness.  Cut with cookie-cutters of desired shapes.  
4.     Place on ungreased baking sheet or use parchment baking paper.  Bake approximately 12 to 15 minutes.  
5.     Remove to wire rack and cool.
Makes 6 dozen

Gingerbread Cookies (Ladies Home Journal 1972)

One cup butter or margarine (1/2 c. each best)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 large egg
2 Tablespoons dark corn syrup
3 cups sifted flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
(1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg) recent addition
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream butter and sugar.  Add egg; beat till light and fluffy. Add corn
syrup, mixing well. Sift remaining ingredients together; stir into creamed mixture.  Chill dough well..  Roll dough to 1/4 inch thick on lightly floured surface (pastry cloths advised) Cut shapes.; place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees, for 8-10 minutes, cool 1 minute before removing to cooling racks.

Last, but not least:  their favorite cookie-baking song (sung to the tune of "Winter Wonderland")
Cookie Press Holiday Song (Winter Wonderland)

Doorbells ring, are you listenin'?
In the kitchen, sugar's glistenin',

The dough is well chilled,
The coffee pot's filled.
Cookie baking day is almost here.

For today, we'll be cheery,
As we bake, 'till we're weary.
So cookies we'll make,
With joy decorate.
Cookie baking day is almost here.

In the kitchen we will bake our dozens,
Decorate them with some colors bright.
They'll say, "Are you finished?" we'll say, "Never!"
And please don't eat a one 'till Christmas night.

As we bake, we'll swap stories,
Of the year's pain and glories.
The laughter we'll share,
The friendship is there.
Cookie baking day is almost here!

You Can Do a Lot with some Dough...

December 16, 2010, 8:30 PM

Let It Dough!

Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays