02/18/16

Everything Spiced Cheese Ball

They say that the best bagels are made in New York, but I’ve also read that Montreal makes a pretty sublime one as well. I haven’t yet had the good fortune to make it to either of these places, so I can’t speak to the validity of these claims.

All I know is the everything spiced ones are my favourite.

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The recipe that follows is for an everything bagel spiced cheese ball that is great to bring along for a party!

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Everything Spiced Cheese Ball

(recipe adapted from Bon Appetit)

6 oz cream cheese

2 Cups old cheddar, grated

2 Tbsp butter

15 chives, minced

1/2 tsp kosher salt

2 tsp black pepper

2 tsp Worchestershire sauce (skip if you are serving to vegetarian friends)

5 cloves garlic

1 shallot

1/2 Cup vegetable oil

1 tsp poppy seeds

1 tsp sesame seeds

Directions

  • In a food processor, process smooth the cream cheese, grated cheddar cheese and butter.
  • Add in the chives, salt, black pepper, and Worchestershire sauce (if using), pulsing to combine.
  • Get out a piece of cling film, and tip out the contents of the food processor onto it.
  • Gather the cling film up around the cheese, using your hands to shape it into a ball.
  • Pop the cheese ball into the fridge for an hour or two to firm up, so that it will hold it’s shape. In the meantime, you can prepare the everything spice!

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  • Thinly slice the shallot and garlic cloves.
  • Heat the oil in a small pan over medium heat.
  • Shallow fry the sliced alliums in the oil until they turn crisp and just golden. Then scoop them out of the pan and set on paper towels to drain; they go from done to overdone quite quickly, so watch with care!
  • Mix together the crispy shallot and garlic pieces with the poppy seeds and sesame seeds. Tada! Everything spice!
  • When you’re ready to serve, unwrap the cheese ball, and coat it in the everything spice. Delightful!

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  • Serve with crackers, or even more true to form, bagel chips!

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03/14/15

Hollandaise: Have No Fear!

Hollandaise sauce is one of those things that people get afraid of attempting in their kitchens, much like working with yeast for bread baking, or fish in general, there seems to be a level of trepidation people experience before they decide to take the plunge and make an attempt. What if it doesn’t rise? Or it rises everywhere? Fish is delicate; delicate is difficult. What if the sauce breaks? What if the egg yolks scramble?

What if it doesn’t work?

And I mean, really, sometimes things don’t work when you want them to. Especially on the first try. Mistakes are bound to happen, especially as you are learning a technique. I’ve even read before (though I have been unable to locate the specific source that I remember it from), that Hollandaise is kind of like a horse. If it know’s you’re afraid it’s going to react to you accordingly.

If you approach with some research, and a healthy approach that if it doesn’t work, fix it or try again, you can do it! And you may realize, like I did, that emulsifying some egg yolks with butter and lemon isn’t something to be apprehensive about.

Some how to notes, and techniques:

Mrs. Child even goes so far as to tell you how to fix your Hollandaise if it breaks, or still make it useable if the eggs clump. As always, she presents a wealth of knowledge.

Start at ~1:25 for him to start on the Hollandaise. He’s doing an Eggs Benedict episode, and part one can be found on Youtube if you’re interested, but I’m just here to talk about Hollandaise for now.

Now, I love Alton Brown, because he gets science-brained in the way I often do. The interesting thing here though, is that his technique is a little bit different than Julia Child’s. And they’re both making Hollandaise using the direct heat method! I’m not even bringing up methodologies that differ as much as say, the blender method for Hollandaise sauce. (This may be because I prefer the direct heat method…)  There are so many variables to get into balance, many approaches can get you to delicious Hollandaise territory, and there are many spots in which you can adjust to make sure that your sauce gets to what you would like it to be. While we experience some worry because there are a lot of places where things can go wrong it’s important to remember that those are all places that, with a little care, we can ensure that things go right.

Now the recipe that I was basing the meal plan off of, a tasty turkey hash to eat for brunch, used a brown butter Hollandaise. And if you’ve been reading around these parts, you would be familiar with the fact that my household likes brown butter. As written in the magazine, I could not get the Hollandaise to work. The action of browning the butter made it too hot, so that no matter how slowly I added it in to my egg yolks, everything scrambled. Frustrating.

Google led me to Lauren’s Latest, where she had made Eggs Benedict with a Brown Butter Hollandaise, and her technique was to not cook the egg yolks, just whisk them up, and then let the heat from the brown butter be what thickens them, while the whisking things into emulsion was in process. I cannot speak to how her technique works, as the addition of too hot butter had already left me feeling uneasy.

And so, when you read my recipe, I hope you do not feel daunted by Hollandaise, either from the trepidation fellow cooks seem to have at the concept, or from the fact that I had to do a couple of tries before I got the technique down. Emulsions are nothing to be afraid of, a whisk is nothing to be afraid of, and options in technique are nothing to be afraid of either.  If I can make a Hollandaise, so can you! No fear, intrepid food explorers!

Turkey Hash with Brown Butter Hollandaise

(recipe adapted from Flavours magazine)

For the hash:

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp butter

1 medium onion, chopped

1 Cup potato, peeled and chopped

1 Cup sweet potato, peeled and chopped

1 Cup leftover turkey, chopped

1/2 tsp sage

salt and pepper to taste

2 eggs

For the Brown Butter Hollandaise:

1/2 Cup butter

2 egg yolks

1 Tbsp cold water

1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice

pinch of salt

Directions

  • Before starting on the hash, brown the butter for the Hollandaise, and then set it aside to cool while you get the hash going. (For more detail on the process of browning butter, check out this recipe.)
  • Combine the olive oil and 1 Tbsp of butter in a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. The thing that is lovely about a hash is the tasty, crispy, browned bits, and so if you’re a cast iron afficionado like I am, this is the time to pull it out. If you aren’t a cast iron cookware afficionado, just make sure to pull out something heavy bottomed to optimize the browned goodness of your hash.

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  • Once the fats have gotten bubbly, add the vegetables. Sauté until the potato and sweet potato have softened and all of the veg has started to pick up some colour.
  • Turn the heat up to medium-high, and add in the chopped turkey. Now that we are into brown and crisp territory, try not to move things around in the pan too much. Too much motion in the pan will prevent the process of browning, but the hash does need to moved around a bit, so that it doesn’t burn and so other surfaces get to brown too. I like to think of baking in moments like these; fold, don’t stir.

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  • Season with sage, salt and pepper to taste.
  • Turn the pan with the hash down to low heat, to hold until we’re ready for plating. Give it a little shake every once in a while so that things don’t start to stick on to the bottom.
  • Place the egg yolks in a small saucepan and whisk for about a minute, until they become paler and become more viscous. When you pull the whisk away from the bottom of the saucepan, the yolks will pull upward too, instead of just sitting at the bottom.
  • Add the water, lemon juice, and salt to the whisked yolks, and continue whisking for an additional minute.
  • Before we start adding heat to the Hollandaise process, fill a large bowl with cold water and put it nearby.
  • Place the saucepan over low heat, and whisk, whisk, whisk as the mixture slowly starts to thicken. The goal is to put heat to the eggs very slowly, so don’t be afraid to take the saucepan on and off of the heat if things are changing too quickly.
  • Once you begin to see the bottom of the saucepan between strokes with the whisk, the yolks have thickened enough.Remove the saucepan from the stove, and plunge the bottom of the pan into the bowl of cold water you set aside. This will halt the cooking of the eggs.
  • Working with the ever trusty whisk, continue to beat the egg yolks, adding the browned butter by droplets or small spoonfuls at a time, until the sauce thickens to the consistency of a very heavy cream. From this point, the rest of the browned butter can be added in a drizzle. Your Hollandaise should be thick, sunshiney, and completely emulsified. Magnificent!
  • Cook up an over easy egg for yourself and the person you’re going to eat breakfast with. Hello tiny perfect egg pan!
  • To plate, spoon a mound of turkey hash onto the centre of the plate, top it with an over easy egg, and then finish by spooning some brown butter Hollandaise over the egg.
  • Bon appetit!

I regret to say, I didn’t really take pictures of the Hollandaise process, what with one hand whisking away and the other holding a saucepan handle. Maybe next time I will see if Mr would hover over to take pictures as I go. But, you have to admit, this looks as though it would be worth eating.

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For your enjoyment (maybe while also enjoying some tasty turkey hash with brown butter Hollandaise), Recipe Wars actually does Alton Brown’s Eggs Benedict versus Julia Child and Jacques Pepin’s Eggs Benedict. Do you think that the right recipe won?

This time last year: Vanilla Sugar

2 years ago: Udon Noodle Chicken Soup

3 years ago: Pear Ginger Jam

4 years ago: Chocolate Strawberry Pavlova

02/19/15

The Most Layered Cake

Chocolate Amaretto Crepe Cake

(A recipe from Sprinkle Bakes with very minor changes made!)

 

For the crepes:

(*Note* – The original recipe calls for you to make the crepes in a 9 inch pan. My crepe pan is larger than this, so I doubled the following recipe so that my larger cake would still achieve a desirable height. If you are using a large pan, I would strongly suggest using this recipe doubled. If you are using a small pan, a single iteration of the recipe should be enough.)

6 eggs

1 Cup milk

1/2 cup table cream

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 Cup flour

1/4 Cup icing sugar

a pinch of salt

melted butter for brushing

  • In a mixing bowl, combine together your wet ingredients: the eggs, milk, table cream and vanilla.
  • While stirring with a whisk, sieve the flour and icing sugar into the wet mixture, discarding any clumps left in the sieve. Then, stir in the salt.  (A whisk is made for the purpose of aeration while stirring, yes, and while a crepe is not in need of aeration, I find that crepe batter comes out less clumpily for me if I use a whisk.)
  • Voila! Crepe batter! It should be the texture of heavy cream. The superstitious cook would tell you to leave the batter overnight so that all of the flour particles become properly hydrated. A certain crepe making friend who hails from Quebec says that the waiting period is unnecessary. How superstitious you are feeling is up to you, of course!
  • Set a shallow skillet or crepe pan over medium low heat. And brush with some melted butter.
  • When the butter just starts to smoke, lift the pan a few inches from the burner.
  • Ladle a scoop of crepe batter into the centre of the pan, swirling the pan so that the bottom is coated with a thin layer.
  • Return the pan to the burner and cook until the edges of the crepe start to look dry.
  • Flip the crepe in the pan, allowing it to cook for a few seconds on the second side so that it sets.
  • Slide the crepe onto a plate to cool, and repeat the process until you run out of crepe batter.

Your first few crepes are probably going to come out a little questionable looking. That’s kind of just how it goes with crepe making. To be completely honest, mine tend not really ever get picture perfect. Mr. is some kind of crepe whisperer. His always come out nice and round and pretty. That stinker. :) I guess I just need more practise.

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For the chocolate amaretto filling:

1 1/3 Cups whipping cream

3 Tbsp cocoa powder

3 Tbsp sugar

2 tsp vanilla

2 Tbsp amaretto

  • Start to whip the cream, manually or by machine. As the liquid starts to stiffen, gradually add in the sugar and the cocoa powder.
  • Once the mixture is nearing soft peak stage, drizzle in the vanilla and amaretto. Continue to whip until the filling will hold stiff peaks.

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For the ganache:

5 oz dark chocolate

4 oz milk chocolate

1 Cup whipping cream

2 Tbsp amaretto

  • Break the chocolate into smallish pieces and place it in a mixing bowl.
  • Heat the cream until just boiling, and then pour the hot cream over the chocolate.
  • Stir until the chocolate is melted and the ganache is smooth.
  • Then add in the amaretto, stirring until once again smooth.
  • Allow to start to cool to a spreadable but not super drippy consistency.
To assemble:
  • Layer this cake on the plate or pedestal you plan to use for serving. It will not transfer easily after being built.
  • Select two presentable crepes, one for the top and one for the bottom. Not so prime crepes can go in the centre of the cake unnoticed.
  • Centre your first crepe on your serving plate. Very lightly coat the crepe with the ganache. A pastry brush is an excellent tool for this step!
  • Scoop a heaping spoonful of the whipped filling over the ganache, and spread it out into a thin layer. A palette knife is an excellent tool for this step!

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  • Repeat these steps: stack a crepe, brush on ganache, spread out filling, until you have only your second presentable crepe remaining. Use it to top the cake.
  • During this stacking process, the ganache will be cooling and becoming more solid. If you work at a similar speed to me, when you are done stacking up all the layers of the cake, the ganache will be at a spreadable almost icing like consistency. Use it to ice the cake! I selected to ice only the top, as I liked the somewhat wild edges, but if you make this tasty cake you could ice all of the way around too!

Mr, who was kind enough to let me make use of his superior crepe making skills, says: Despite the effort required to make so many crepes, it is well worth it for the ridiculously awesome flavour of this cake.

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A cake with so many layers does require more time and energy than a standard layer cake, but it really is quite impressive once executed. It is rich, and dense too (crepes aren’t leavened like cake is), so you can cut it into lots of skinny wedges and everyone at your gathering can have a slice!

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So many layers!

This time last year: Adventures in Sausage Making

2 years ago: Converting Powdered Pectin to Liquid Pectin

3 years ago: Black Pepper Cookies

4 years ago: Gingerbeer