Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Cheese Fondue

When this challenge was posted, my husband and I started talking about what "retro" recipes meant to each of us. For me, I think of Jello salads, bologna, and other American dishes that I am happy to never encounter again. For him, it's all about the classics...sauces, pâté, stuffed meats and veggies, and delectable desserts.

Francoise Bernard is a classic French cookbook author that my husband's Mamie would cook from all the time. We have her oldest copy of Les Recettes Faciles (Easy Recipes) from 1965 that is packed with his Mamie's newspaper and magazine clippings. I pulled this book from our shelf and flipped through it to see what classical French fare was. This book is filled with drool worthy recipes. Although, I did not choose a recipe from this book, it did give me an idea of what to make. Cheese fondue. My husband has perfected his recipe through the years and we always look forward to the weather getting cooler so he can make it. This is a recipe that he typically eyeballs amounts, which means that it turns out a little differently each time, but this time I followed him around for measurements!

Cheese Fondue
by Franck and Tonda
Serves 6

1 pound 12 month aged Gruyere cheese
1 pound Jarlsberg cheese
1 pound Comté cheese
6 cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 to 3/4 bottle dry white wine such as Apremont from Savoie or Entre Deux Mers (Dry White Bordeaux)
1 1/2 Tablespoons Kirsh
Dash of paprika
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Juice from 1/8 of a large lemon

Cut the cheese into 1/4 to 1/2-inch cubes. Do not shred the cheese. It will turn into a ball when melting it. Cut one clove of garlic in half and rub it on the inside of the cooking pot and fondue pot. Slice one clove of garlic in very thin and place it into the fondue pot. Melt 2 Tablespoons of butter, add four cloves of chopped garlic and sauté. Remove half of the garlic and add approximately 1/4 cup of wine to deglaze the pot. Add about 4 handfuls of cheese. It is important to stir the cheese in an 8 pattern until it melts. Otherwise, it will turn into a big ball in the pan. Alternate adding more wine (approximately 1/4 to 1/2 cup at a time) and cheese (3 to 4 handfuls) and continue until all of the cheese is melted to the consistency that you prefer. Make sure to continuously stir in the 8 pattern. You will use 1/2 to 3/4 bottle of wine. Add 1 1/2 Tablespoons Kirsh and a dash of paprika and stir. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon white pepper along with 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg. Finally, stir in the juice from 1/8 of a large lemon. Transfer to the fondue pot.

Enjoy with cubes of baguette. An old French rule is whomever loses their baguette while dipping in the caquelon of cheese has to run around the block naked! Thankfully, it has not been enforced in my years of enjoying this meal.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Beef and Broccoli

Beef and Broccoli is one of the classic American Chinese dishes. It was invented in the 1800's, where immigrants from southern China would often adapt recipes from home and make use of local ingredients in North America. I remember eating this dish when my parents would take our family out for dinner at the local Chinese restaurant. The flavours and textures remain ingrained to memory and it was one of the first few dishes I had to make when I learned to cook Chinese food. I also have a memory of watching this dish being made on the show "Yan Can Cook", as a kid.

Having gained quite a bit of cooking experience since then, I've decided to create a spin on the recipe by applying some modern techniques and ideas to the dish. The idea for preparing the broccoli was inspired by the roasted broccoli at local hipster restaurants, and cooking the steak sous vide seemed like a natural fit. Although it diverges from the original version, it is just as delicious and enjoyable.

Note: We will be using the sous vide method to cook the steaks. Therefore, you will require a zip-top freezer bag, an immersion circulator and a container that is high enough to hold water, such as a medium-sized pot.

Beef and Broccoli
by Douglas

1 pound flank steak
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup tahini
1 clove garlic
2 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 head broccoli
Vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon light soy sauce
1 Tablespoon oyster sauce
1 Tablespoon butter
Parmesan cheese
Chili oil

If you have a large piece of flank steak, cut it along the grain so that you have pieces as wide as your palm. Start by seasoning the steak generously with salt and pepper, then place steaks into a zip-top freezer bag. Fill the medium-sized pot 3/4 full of water and dip the bag into the water, going no further than the top of the bag. This will push the air out of the bag and maximize the surface area between the meat and the water (also known as the water displacement method). Put the immersion circulator into the water and set the temperature for 125°F (i.e. cooked to rare, and you can increase to 135°F for medium-rare). Let it run for a minimum 45 minutes, or a maximum of 4 hours.

Meanwhile, add the tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil to a food processor and blend until smooth. Add water if the mixture still looks like a paste, until it has the texture of a smooth dressing. Load the dressing into a plastic squeeze bottle.

Wash broccoli and cut until you have a bunch of florets. Save the stems for another recipe. Place a medium-sized pot filled with water on the stove and set to high heat. Prepare a large bowl of ice and cold water and place next to the pot. Once the water is boiling, add a pinch of salt and a 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Drop the broccoli into the boiling water and let it cook for 60-90 seconds. Using a strainer, take the broccoli out of the boiling water and into the bowl of ice water. Once the broccoli has cooled, take them out of the bowl and on to a plate.

Place an aluminum or carbon steel pan on the stove and set to high heat. When the pan is very hot (carbon steel pans will start smoking), add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Add the broccoli and stir briefly. Let it sit for about 30-60 seconds so that the broccoli develops char marks. Remove broccoli from pan and set aside. Wipe pan with a paper towel to remove any broccoli bits.

Once the steaks have cooked for the desired time, take the bags out of the water and shut off the immersion circulator. Remove steaks and pat dry with a paper towel. Place the pan used to cook the broccoli back on the stove on high heat. When the pan is hot, add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and place the steaks on the pan. This will create the crust on the outside of the steak. After 1-2 minutes, flip the steaks once, then remove after searing for another 1-2 minutes. Let the steaks rest on a plate and set aside.

Mix soy sauce, oyster sauce together and 1/8 cup of water in a mixing cup and mix together. Using the same pan that was used to cook the steaks, add butter. Once the butter has melted, add the soy sauce mixture to the pan to deglaze. Scrape any bits from the pan and then reduce to the desired consistency.

To plate the dish, place charred broccoli on to one side of a medium sized dish. Drizzle tahini sauce on top using the plastic squeeze bottle. Grate Parmesan cheese on top of broccoli using a micro-plane. Using as spoon, drizzle chili oil on top of the broccoli. Take the steaks to a cutting board and slice steak into thin slices. Place steak on to the plate and fan them out so that you can see the pink center. With a spoon, drizzle the soy/oyster sauce reduction on to the steak.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Chicken with Dressing

I just couldn't make up my mind on what retro dish I wanted to redo. To be honest, I never had this back in the 1960's-1980's, so I'm not really sure how it was made. I suspect that maybe there was canned soup and canned chicken involved.

Whenever I make something, I have to ask myself, will Mark eat this? I don't want to waste time or money on something he won't eat for dinner. He is pretty much a meat and potatoes guy, which is somewhat limiting! I was mulling over options in my head, and Chicken and Dressing came to mind. 
For about a year, we had a local woman who had a storefront. She sold oh so good, down home comfort food in single and family portions. She had so many wonderful options. To my dismay, there was a landlord dispute, and she was gone. One of my favorites was her Chicken and Dressing. I never thought she put in enough chicken, but I loved it anyway.

Growing up, my mom always used Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Cubed Stuffing when she cooked our Thanksgiving meal. To this day, I also use it as my base when I make dressing. Mark prefers cornbread dressing, so that’s what I used here. We both loved this. I commented that it was a quick Thanksgiving knock-off meal. When Mark saw the chopped parsley on the top, he said, “Do I have to eat the leaves?” Seriously? 

Mark LOVES gravy, like it’s the sixth food group. I had some chicken gravy in the fridge from another dinner, so that made this just perfect. I'm making a double batch next time. We mowed through this like I was feeding an army.

Chicken with Dressing
by Sharyl W.

4 pounds chicken tenders
8 Tablespoons of butter, divided
4 Tablespoons of olive oil 
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 14-ounce bag of Pepperidge Farm Cornbread Stuffing
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
3 cups of chicken broth, divided
Black pepper
3 Tablespoons fresh chopped, flat leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 350°F. 

Salt and pepper the chicken tenders. Heat 4 tablespoons of the butter, and olive oil, in a skillet, over medium high heat. When the oil/butter is hot, cook the chicken tenders until brown, and then turn over to cook the other side. They don't need to be cooked 100%, since they will finish cooking in the oven. Cook the chicken in several batches, so that the chicken isn't overcrowded. 

After all the chicken is cooked, add the chopped onions, and sauté until translucent. 

In a large bowl, add the package of Cornbread Stuffing Mix, poultry seasoning, 4 tablespoons of melted butter, 2 1/2 cups of chicken broth and the sautéed onions. Mix to combine. Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Add the chicken to the dressing mix and combine. 

Brush the bottom and sides of a casserole dish, with melted butter. Spoon the chicken/dressing mix into the casserole dish. Pour the remaining 1/2 cup of chicken broth over the casserole. 

Bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, and bake for another 10 minutes, or until it’s hot. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley. Top individual servings with gravy, for an even moister dressing.

When reheating for leftovers, add more chicken broth to keep the casserole moist. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Impossible Turkey Taco Pie

Do you remember when Impossible Pies were a big thing?

I do. I loved them. Or, being honest, I loved some of them. The taco pie was my favorite

The Impossible Pies were magical recipes that made their own "crust" as they baked. And they all used Bisquick to make that magical crust.

I was browsing through some old newspaper and magazine clippings I had saved and scanned, and I found a recipe for the Impossible Taco Pie that I liked so much, so I decided to make it again, to see if I still liked it.

But of course I made some changes.

I used turkey instead of beef, and I have to say that I doubt anyone could tell the difference in this recipe. Which is a good thing.

I didn't have any Bisquick in the house the first time I made this, but there are a lot of "make your own Bisquick" recipes online, so I figured I could do that rather than run to the store.

Nope. It didn't work. Not at all. I made it with Bisquick, and it was perfect. So, although that "make your own" recipe is probably a fine substitution for some recipes, it didn't work for this one. Maybe if I fiddled around with it some more, I could work it out, but that doesn't seem like a good use of my time.

Or my ingredients.

So now I have Bisquick. So it's a pretty sure bet I'll be making this again. Or maybe some other version of it. Because, seriously, this is comfort food, in the best possible way.

Panela cheese is interesting. It's a fresh cheese with a mild flavor. It softens when warm, but it doesn't really melt. So you'll end up with soft pockets of cheese in the pie, but they won't melt and get disappear into the pie.

Impossible Turkey Taco Pie
By Donna Currie, Cookistry

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
1 pound ground turkey
2 Tablespoons chili powder (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 fire-roasted red pepper, diced
4 ounces panela cheese, cut in small cubes
3/4 cup Bisquick
1 1/4 cup milk
3 eggs
1 4-ounce can diced Hatch chiles
4 ounces shredded provolone cheese
Diced tomatoes (as needed for garnish)
Diced avocado (as needed for garnish)
Green salsa (for garnish)

Green Salsa

8 medium tomatillos
1 small green pepper, cored and seeded
1 serrano pepper, cored and seeded
1 small bunch cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
2 teaspoons lime juice (or to taste)

Heat your oven to 400°F and have a 9-inch pie plate standing by.

To make the taco pie:
Heat the olive oil in a saute pan. Add the onion, turkey, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and salt. Cook, stirring as needed, until the turkey and onion is cooked through. Take it off the heat and add the roasted red pepper and the panela cheese.

Add the meat mixture to the pie plate and level it.

Mix the Bisquick, milk, and eggs in a medium bowl. Pour over the meat in the pan. Sprinkle the chiles on top.

Bake at 400°F for 25 minutes. Sprinkle the provolone cheese on top and return the pie to the oven. Bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the pie comes out clean.

Let the pie rest for 5-10 minutes for easier slicing.

Garnish with chopped tomatoes, avocados, green salsa

To make the salsa:
Put all the ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Cherry Fruitcake

When thinking about a retro recipe, the first thing that I did was pulled some of my oldest cookbooks off of the shelf. I flipped through pages of aspics, gelatin salads, and odd meat dishes. As tasty as they may have been back in the day, I couldn't bring myself to make anything that I saw. Then, I thought to make something from my own family. I found my Mom's recipe for Cherry Fruitcake. It's written on a weathered piece of paper that is splashed with remnants of ingredients from when she made it. Perfect for this challenge! My family loves fruitcake, and it's thanks to this recipe. It's heavy with fruit and pecans and delightfully highlighted with dark rum.

Cherry Fruitcake
by Tonda
Adapted from my Mom's recipe

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound diced candied pineapple
32 ounces maraschino cherries, drained
18 ounces pecan halves
6 eggs
1/3 cup dark rum
1/4 cup light corn syrup

Preheat oven to 300°F. Grease two 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pans. Line with foil, allowing a two-inch overhang and grease again.

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add candied pineapple, maraschino cherries and pecans. Toss to coat well. Beat eggs thoroughly. Slowly add in rum and beat until mixed. Pour over fruit mixture and toss until combined. Turn mixture into prepared loaf pans, pressing frequently with metal spatula to pack tightly. Bake for 1 hour 45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes clean.

Allow cakes to cool in pan for 15 minutes, then remove from pans. Remove foil from loaves. Brush loaves with corn syrup while still warm. Cool thoroughly before serving or storing.

Enjoy with an ice cold glass of eggnog!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Brown Butter Sage Sauce

Please meet another one of our amazing new cooks, Brandie!


I was born and raised in Oklahoma. And ever since I was little, my dad had me doing prep-work for him in the kitchen. I was always the vegetable chopper and the taster. He just worked at a manufacturing plant, but cooking was his passion, and his hero was Emeril Lagasse. Every single day, he had his smoker going, even on holidays. Everyone in the neighborhood hated it, because you would smell like bar-b-que if you walked out of your house if you lived on our street, or even a few streets over.

My dad was always trying new things. Jalapeno jelly rub on a rock salt roast, or chili dog burritos (I did mention it was Oklahoma, right?). I remember once we dug a hole in the back yard to put hot coals in. We wrapped beef, mushrooms, bell peppers and onions in aluminum foil, put it on the coals and buried it for hours. When it was dinner time, we dug it up. I remember not being too impressed with the flavor, but getting to experiment with new ways of cooking was one of the ways I felt most free growing up.

When I was just in elementary school, my veggie of choice was not a vegetable at all, it was mushrooms. I'd take out the stem and stuff the mushroom with different things, cut them up and made a "floating mushroom soup" which was probably just chicken broth and other chopped vegetables with mushrooms floating on top. My dad had wanton wrappers and my sister and I would stuff mushrooms in those too.

As I got older, I was still trying to mature as a cook, though I believe I was using Cajun seasoning on nearly everything. In high school, my sister and I would prepare (what we imagined) were grand lunches for our friends. Some of the dishes were fairly ambitious for only having 40 minutes or so after driving to and from the school. Our biggest success was taco salad, I think. Cooking the shells, meat, heating the beans, chopping the lettuce, tomatoes, and making guacamole was a big feat to us two teens.

In college, I finally created my first really good recipe (that I still use to this day) at 24 years old; almond-crusted brown sugar chicken. I'm probably not the first person to combine these ingredients, but I was very proud of myself for putting a delicious dish together on my own rather than using a recipe. At that point, I was still using lots of frozen and canned ingredients.

Then, 5 and a half years ago, I moved to Portland. I couldn't believe how good even the bar food was here. I realized then the importance of fresh ingredients, and started buying more and more fresh veggies and locally raised meats. Now, the only frozen items I use are peas, and the meat I've purchased or helped my friends process on their farm.

About 3 years ago, I believe, is when I started becoming the home cook I am today. I put a picture of the dinner I made on Facebook, and my cousin (a chef in Oklahoma) told me I needed to work on my plating. "What? Why? I'm just going to eat it". But then, I started looking into plating, and realized what an incredible world I'd been missing out on. I find that when I do a search for whatever dish I'm trying to make and the word "plating", I find re-imagined dishes that inspire me even further. I come across recipes I'd never heard of before like "potatoes pave", and "Veloute".

Here are a few dishes I've made since learning to plate better
My cooking these days is part experimentation, part quilting recipes together. I'm still very much in the learning phase, but I think we should always be in this phase. When I see a dish somewhere, or my husband brings home a new vegetable I haven't cooked with much, I start researching. I look up a variety of things that can be made with whatever the ingredient is. Then, when I decide on a dish I want to make, I look up many variations of the dish. I look for commonalities among the recipes and weave them together, and either pick and choose alternate ingredients from the other recipes, or come up with something on my own.

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Brown Butter Sage Sauce
by Brandie Gaudette
Recipe adapted from Food Network's Roasted Butternut Squash Ravioli with a Sage Brown Butter Sauce by Emeril Lagasse

My husband brought home a butternut squash. He loves anything pumpkin or squashy any time of year, really. He's usually good about waiting until fall, though. I knew he wanted me to make ravioli though, because that's the only thing I've ever really made with butternut squash. This time, though, I did use most of the squash to make a butternut squash soup, but decided to share the ravioli recipe, because it's my favorite of the two. Additionally, this recipe is just for two, so double up if you've got more mouths to feed. My niece loves to help in the kitchen and so do my friends, so this is a good one to do with others as long as they're patient!

Pasta Dough:
3/4 cup of flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon of olive oil

Pasta Filling:
1 butternut squash
1 shallot, chopped
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons of Pecorino
1/2 cup of cream

Brown Butter Sage Sauce:
1/2 cup of salted butter
Fresh sage

Sage leaves
Red peppercorns

Start by preheating your oven to 400°F. Cut the stem off the top of the butternut squash, then cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds, then lay cut-side up on a slightly greased cookie sheet. Use any amount of softened butter you'd like to cover the cut side of the butternut squash, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. I like to put a dollop of butter in the scooped out part of the squash also. That way, periodically while it's baking, I can dip a brush in the butter, and baste the squash throughout the cook-time. Bake for one hour.

While the squash is baking, you should have plenty of time to make the dough and let it rest. Combine the flour and salt into your mixer with the flat beater attachment. Add the egg, and olive oil, and increase the mixer speed until dough is sticking together well (which should only take a minute). Take the dough out "work the dough" by folding it over and pushing it into itself. Do this until your dough looks consistent and can form a nice, tight ball that "springs" back slightly when you make an indent. Cover your ball with clear wrap and let it rest for at least 30 minutes at room temperature.

Once the squash is soft, take it out of the oven and let cool before scooping the squash out of it's skin and puree. Measure out two cups for the filling and reserve the rest to make a butternut squash soup (like I did!) or add it to a broth to use for butternut squash risotto.

Heat a pan with olive oil, and saute the chopped shallot until translucent and slightly golden (medium heat). If the pan is dry, add more olive oil, or at this step, you can choose to add butter instead. Add the two cups of butternut squash puree and saute until the mixture becomes slightly dry. While sauteing, add salt, pepper. Add in the cream, Pecorino, and nutmeg. At this point, I like to use my immersion blender to make the filling smooth, but it's fine to leave it as is. Make sure the mixture is thick enough that it's not runny. Let mixture cool to room temperature.

Once your mixture is cooled you can start rolling out your pasta. You don't want to roll your pasta out ahead of time because it will dry out if you leave it too long. I like to cut my dough into quarters like so:

I do this so that when I'm done cutting out the raviolis from one quarter, I can take the extra dough and roll it out into the next quarter creating less waste. When you roll out pasta (if you have a pasta machine), you pass the pasta through the largest setting several times folding it in half once before putting it through. You want to make sure your pasta dough is a nice, consistent color and texture before putting it through the thinner settings. I pass mine through all the way down to 7 before cutting the raviolis.

For the raviolis, I use a cookie cutter. There may be easier ways, but I like the look of big, plump raviolis in a bowl. I cut out two circles per ravioli, take one side in my hand, place a tablespoon of filling in the center, dip my finger in water to run around the edge of the bottom circle of pasta, then place another circle on top, pinching the edges together and pushing out any air. You want the edge of the ravioli to be as thin as the center, so make sure you're putting some pressure in when you're pinching the sides together. As long as your dough is still pliable, you shouldn't have a problem. If your dough got dried too much, try using a little more water, and using the tines of a fork to press the outside edge together.

This part of the process is usually the fun part to have help on as it's the most time consuming. I usually like to have 5 or six big raviolis per person.

When you're nearing the finish line for putting the raviolis together, put a pot of water on high to boil (make sure to add salt!). Once the water is boiling, put the raviolis in for no more than 2 minutes. Drain the raviolis.

To make the brown butter sage sauce, put half a stick up butter in a pan on medium heat. Right before the butter starts to brown, add minced sage leaves. Once butter is brown, add in raviolis and delicately move them around in the pan with the butter. Do this for only a few minutes.

Place Raviolis in each bowl delicately, and drizzle a tablespoon or two over the top of each. Crack pink peppercorns over the top, and grate some Pecorino over each bowl.

For the garnish, I also like to fry up a few sage leaves in some olive oil, and salt them immediately after removing them from the pan. Voila! Butternut squash ravioli in brown butter sage sauce!