Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Toast to the New Year

Happy New Year's, dear reader! I raise my glass to you. May 2011 bring you health, happiness, and delicious dishes.

Pomegranate-Grapefruit Champagne Sparklers
Printable Recipe

¼ cup pomegranate arils
6 ounces pomegranate juice, chilled
6 ounces freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, chilled
1 750-milliliter bottle sparkling wine, chilled

Divide the pomegranate arils among 6 champagne flutes. Combine the pomegranate juice and grapefruit juice in a pitcher or measuring cup with a spout and divide among the flutes. Divide the sparkling wine among the flutes and serve immediately.

Serves 6. Best in the wintertime, when pomegranates and grapefruit are plentiful. Use freshly pressed pomegranate juice or, if you can find it, Evolution Freshest Pomegranate juice. If you are squeezing juice fresh, you will need 1 to 2 large pomegranates and 1 large grapefruit for this recipe.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Give the Gift of Searing

Do you need a last minute gift idea for the cook in your life? Well, according to the St. Petersburg Times, Seared to Perfection would make a great gift. Smoke in Da Eye seems to think so too. I can't help but agree with them!

In other Seared to Perfection news…I'll be doing a cooking demo, tasting, and book signing at the Vancouver, Washington Whole Foods Market at 5:00PM and 5:45PM on Thursday, January 13. I'll be back at Whole Foods for another book signing during the Local Health & Wellness Fair from 12PM to 3PM on Saturday, January 22nd. Both of these events are free to the public, so come on by! And you know the Steaks with Chipotle Cream Sauce recipe that's been making the rounds? Now it's in the Staten Island Advance. Pardon the pun, but that recipe is HOT!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Images of Alaska and Smoked Salmon Spread

Wild, wondrous, and wintry. Alaska in the cold months is breathtaking. The forests, covered in a sheet of snow and ice, look as though they are made of glass.

And they're teaming with wildlife even in the bitter weather. Timid moose calves venture to the edge of the glass forest to graze on twigs while mother moose watch from between the trees.

Incidentally, the Alaskan cookbook I got includes various recipes for moose.

My one big goal in Alaska was to eat as much king crab as possible.

Which I did.

But for the first time for me, food took a back seat to the scenery. You simply don't notice a grumbling belly when you're watching a dozen Dall sheep scurrying up and down a cliff side.

We were told that the appearance of such a large group of sheep is very rare, and the sight brought out all the area nature photographers.

(If you're a photography enthusiast, note I was the ONLY person using a black lens.)

It turns out my Alaskan cookbook also has lots of recipes for mountain sheep. I think those Alaskans will eat anything that moves.

We got to see a grizzly bear at a wildlife preserve.

My Alaskan cookbook has a few bear recipes too, but it seems like a bear would probably eat you before you could eat it.

This time of year daylight is fleeting.

The sun doesn't rise as much as it peeks above the horizon.

Mountains cast long shadows across the valley floor.

The perpetual dusk makes the cold sink in.

It's bone chilling.

And it looks as cold as it feels.

But do I retreat to the warmth of the indoors?

No, I brave the freezing temperatures to marvel a little longer.

I'm overwhelmed by Alaska's beauty.

Of course, it's inevitable that my attention eventually turns back to food…

There's no need for a recipe for king crab legs since they're simply reheated and served with drawn butter, so here's another seafood delicacy inspired by our Alaskan adventures.

But first…Here's Smoke In Da Eye's review of Seared to Perfection. And in case you missed it, here's the demo I did of the Sage-Rubbed Pork Loin Chops with Cranberry-Pear Compote from Seared to Perfection on KOIN Studio 6 yesterday. I'm happy to report that I wasn't nearly as nervous as I thought I would be!

Smoked Salmon Spread
Printable Recipe

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
5 ½ ounces hot-smoked salmon, skinned
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
½ teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Generous pinch cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine the cream cheese, smoked salmon, dill, chives, lemon juice, and cayenne in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Season to taste with pepper.

Makes about 2 cups. Serve with crackers, baguette slices, or cucumber sticks. Also makes a great bagel schmear. Keeps for a couple of days tightly sealed in the refrigerator. It’s best at room temperature, so take it out of the fridge about half an hour before serving.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Last Chance for Chanterelles

This way to the mushrooms.

This fall, work and general busyness almost kept us from making the long and bumpy trip down the winding dirt road that leads to our secret foraging spot.

Luckily we did manage to make it out during the final moments of chanterelle season. The first freeze found many of the mushrooms before we did, and spent chanterelles littered the forest floor. We mourned their passing as we collected the specimens still in their prime.

At least the ones our helpful pup didn't trample.

The weather turned as if to say, "It's too late!"

But we braved the mud and the cold and the rain to find gold.

Then, as we made our way out of the woods, the snow started.

And just like that, chanterelle season was over.

Before I get to what I made with our prize…Remember how I told you that the Steaks with Chipotle Cream Sauce recipe from Seared to Perfection was featured in The Washington Post? Well since then, the recipe has appeared in the Daily Herald, the Pioneer Press, the Northwest Herald, The Buffalo News, The Seattle Times, and The Herald Sun. It even made it all the way to Qatar in The Peninsula! Now, how cool is that?!

Anyway, back to the chanterelles…

Chicken Braised with Chanterelles
Printable Recipe

4 10 to 12-ounce chicken leg quarters
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
¾ pound chanterelles, torn into bite-size pieces
2 strips bacon, diced
4 shallots, sliced
¼ cup white wine
2 cups chicken broth
¼ cup cream
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs thyme

Season the chicken leg quarters generously with salt and pepper and set aside at room temperature for about half an hour.

Heat a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pot. Add the chicken leg quarters skin side down and cook without disturbing for 4 to 5 minutes, or until they release from the pan and are crusty and brown. Using tongs, turn the chicken leg quarters and continue to cook over medium-high heat another 4 to 5 minutes, or until brown.* The chicken should not be cooked through at this point. Remove the chicken to a plate. Add the chanterelles to the pot and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, or until soft. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chanterelles to the plate with the chicken. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the bacon to the pot, and fry, tossing frequently, for 6 to 7 minutes, or until rendered. Using the slotted spoon, remove the bacon to the plate with the chicken.

Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pot. Add the shallots to the pot and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, or until soft. Add the wine and simmer for a minute or so, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan with a heat-proof spatula. Return the chicken, chanterelles, and bacon to the pot and add the broth, cream, bay leaf, and thyme. Bring to a boil and simmer for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the chicken is fork tender and the meat shrinks away from the bones. Remove the chicken to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm. Simmer the braising liquid for 10 to 12 minutes, or until thickened and saucy. Discard the bay leaf and thyme sprig and season to taste with salt and pepper. Arrange the chicken leg quarters on individual plates, divide the sauce among them, and serve immediately.

Serves 4. Perfect over a bed of long grain white rice. Vary this dish by using morels in the springtime.

*Searing the chicken in this manner adds tons of flavor to the finished dish. For everything you ever wanted to know about searing, plus dozens of fabulous searing recipes, look for my book Seared to Perfection in stores now.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Chocolate Sand Cookies

Here's a recipe for a cookie that's fantastic to bake and give. These cookies are named for their unique sandy texture. Package them with loose leaf tea for a lovely gift.

Chocolate Sand Cookies
Printable Recipe

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
6 ounces (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk, at room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Whisk together the flour, ¼ cup of the cocoa powder, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl. In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and 1/3 cup of the powdered sugar on medium until creamy. Add the milk and vanilla and mix on low until blended. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low until the dough comes together, stopping the mixer once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Scoop the dough by the tablespoonful onto parchment-lined baking trays, roll each scoop of dough into a ball, and arrange the balls about an inch apart. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, or until the edges are firm. Transfer cookies to a rack and let cool for about half an hour, or until barely warm. Sift together the remaining 2/3 cup of powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder. Roll each cookie in the powdered sugar mixture to coat.

Makes 32 to 34 cookies. Cookies keep for several days in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dry place. Perfect with a cup of Earl Grey tea.

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