Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Roasted Garlic “Vampire Killer” Soup

With Bloody Spicy Lemony Oil


Halloween is upon us and everyone is celebrating the macabre.

Unfortunately this dress-up holiday comes during flu season and many of us will be spending Halloween in bed high on cold medicine, too congested to taste the candy we get - either from the store or by “helping” kids we know out with the goodies they got while trick-or-treating.

Luckily, there are ways to celebrate Halloween by eating Halloween-themed foods that will also help us feel better.

According to all the health websites (I’m not a doctor), garlic, lemon, chilies, and chicken broth are all things you should eat when afflicted with a cold or (non-stomach) flu. According to folklore, vampires hate garlic, so help your cold and embrace your inner Vampire Killer by scarfing down this soup!

(Don’t worry, the oil doesn’t actually contain any blood.)

Here’s How You Do It

Difficulty Level: Medium
Prep time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour

Serves 2 to 4

Ingredients

SOUP

4 Garlic Bulbs aka Garlic Heads – (The whole thing holding the cloves)

2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper – to taste

3 ½ Cups of Chicken Broth – Homemade or store bought from the soup section of the grocery store.

4 Tablespoons of Butter

½ Cup All Purpose Flour

BLOODY SPICY LEMON OIL

¼ Cup Olive Oil

Zest of 1 Lemon

¼ Teaspoon of Paprika – This tints it red

½ Teaspoon Crushed Chilies (Optional) – If you can’t handle spicy, don’t add it.

Equipment

1 Knife and Cutting Board

2 Medium Sized Sheets of Aluminum Foil

Measuring Cups and Spoons

2 Regular Bowls

1 Fork

1 Whisk

1 Grater - (for zesting the lemon)

Oven Mitts

1 Medium Sized Pot

Preheat your oven to 350 0F.

Cut the very tops off the Garlic Bulbs, drizzle them with some Olive Oil and sprinkle them with some salt.

Wrap all 4 Bulbs tightly in 2 sheets of Aluminum Foil, and once the oven is preheated, stick them in and walk away for 45 minutes or until the pack is slightly squishy when you squeeze it with an oven-mitt wrapped hand.

Open the foil and let the garlic cool a little until you can squeeze each bulb comfortably in your bare hand.

In your first regular bowl, combine the ¼ cup of Olive Oil, the crushed chilies (if using), the paprika, and lemon zest. Set aside.

Over your second regular bowl, squeeze the garlic bulbs until the cloves pop out. Don’t worry, they will.

Pick out any garlic skins and mash the cloves with a fork to form a paste.

In a pot on medium heat, melt the 4 Tablespoons of Butter.

Add the flour and whisk out any lumps.

Add the mashed garlic and whisk again until smooth.

Add the chicken broth and whisk again until smooth and soupy.

Simmer for 5 minutes, whisking every once in a while to avoid lumps.

Taste the soup and adjust for salt and pepper.

Scoop some into a bowl and drizzle with a little of that flavored oil.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYBODY!

-Samantha R. Gold

Questions? Comments? Requests?

Bring it on!

I can be reached at:  for.the.culinarily.challenged@gmail.com

Trolls will be unceremoniously deleted and dismissed.









Sunday, October 16, 2016

Praline Crusted Pumpkin Spice Cake


Every once in a while we need to push ourselves outside our culinary comfort zones and bake something that is both challenging and spectacular. This dessert is a great place for you all to start: a moist flavorful pumpkin cake crusted with caramel coated pecans and topped with an orange cream cheese frosting with a hint of cinnamon.

The key to good baking is simple: FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS.

For a beginner, deviating from the recipe can mean the difference between a GREAT cake and baking disaster. 

Stick to instructions and you'll get a perfect cake every time.

Here’s How You Do It

Difficulty Level: Hard
Prep time: 25 Minutes
Baking time: 35 Minutes

Ingredients

½ Cup Vegetable Oil

1 Cup of Granulated Sugar

1 Cup of Canned Puréed Pumpkin

2/3 Cup Greek Yogurt

1 Cup of Full Fat Milk

1 ¾ Cup All Purpose Flour

2 Teaspoons of Baking Powder

1 Teaspoon Baking Soda

1 Teaspoon of Salt

2 Teaspoons of Cinnamon

½ Teaspoon of Nutmeg – Freshly Grated is ideal, but ground is fine

2 Eggs

¼ Teaspoon of Vanilla

Butter – for greasing the baking pans

PRALINE COATING

1 Cup of Crushed Pecans – You can buy pecans already chopped or crushed, but you can save money by buying pecan halves, putting them in a zip top bag and bashing them with a hammer, meat mallet, or wine bottle. Try it, it’s good for stress.

1 Cup of Whipping Cream

1 Cup of Sugar – Brown sugar is ideal, but you can use white too

1 Cup of Butter

½ Teaspoon of Salt

FROSTING

1 Cup Softened Cream Cheese

¾ Cup Butter

2 Cups Icing Sugar

4 Tablespoons Frozen Orange Juice Concentrate

1/2 Teaspoon of Cinnamon

½ Teaspoon of Salt

¼ Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract

Pecan Halves for Decoration - Optional

Equipment

Measuring Cups and Spoons

3 Mixing Bowls

1 Medium Sized Pot

1 Whisk

1 Wooden Spoon

1 Sifter aka Fine Mesh Sieve

2 Round Baking Pans

2 Plates slightly larger than your baking pans

1 Butter Knife

1 Large Spoon, Ice Cream Scoop, or Ladle (optional)


In your first mixing bowl, stir together the puréed pumpkin, yogurt, and milk. Set the bowl aside.

Put your sifter above the second mixing bowl and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Gently shake the sifter above the bowl until all the powders are in it.

In your third bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.

Add 1/4 of the pumpkin mixture to the bowl with the oil mixture and stir to combine.

Add 1/4 of the Flour mixture and stir to combine.

Repeat the process, gently mixing until all the wet and dry ingredients have combined with the eggs, sugar and oil to form a nice cake batter.

Preheat the oven to 350 oF.

Grease your baking pans.

While the oven is preheating, start your praline mix.

In a pot on medium heat, combine the whipping cream, sugar, and butter, stirring with a wooden spoon until they are combined so much you can’t tell them apart.

Stir in the pecans and pour half into the bottom of one baking pan and the other half into the other.

CAREFULLY, using a ladle, ice cream scoop, or large spoon, spoon the cake batter over the caramel pecan mix in the baking pan.

Put the pans in the oven and bake for the 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Run your butter knife around the edge of each cake to loosen it and then put a plate on top of each pan. Holding the plate TIGHTLY to the baking pan, flip the pan over and shake it slightly over the plate to loosen the first cake layer. Do the same with the other.

Presto! You have 2 cake layers crusted with pralines!

Let your cakes cool while you make the frosting.

Clean and dry your whisk and one of your mixing bowls.

Dump the cream cheese into the bowl with the butter and mix until it’s creamy and combined.

Add the icing sugar and cinnamon and mix gently at first as icing sugar tends to fly everywhere. Then increase your speed until the icing sugar is combined with the butter and cream cheese.

Add the orange juice concentrate, vanilla, and salt and mix again. You could do this with an electric mixer but they can be pricy and come with the risk of over mixing the frosting.

Stick the frosting in the fridge until the cakes are completely cool.

TO ASSEMBLE:

Spread some frosting on one layer.

CAREFULLY put the other layer on top and spread on some more frosting. You can hide any cracks in the cake with frosting too.

Decorate with pecans if you wish and serve!

Enjoy!

-Samantha R. Gold


Questions? Comments? Requests?

Bring it on!

I can be reached at:  for.the.culinarily.challenged@gmail.com

Trolls will be unceremoniously deleted and dismissed.









Thursday, October 6, 2016

Apple and Honey Roast Chicken and Gravy


Jewish New Year was this week and with it the tradition of eating apples and honey to ensure a sweet new year. With Canadian Thanksgiving just around the corner, it’s time to learn how to roast a bird. 

For those of us who only have between two and four people to feed over for the holidays, cooking an entire turkey seems like a wasteful pain in the neck. You can feed a smaller group just fine in a fraction of the time if you serve a smaller bird, the good old reliable chicken.

Roasting a whole bird can be intimidating, but with a few simple tricks, you can achieve the moist meat and crispy chicken skin of dreams every time.

First, season your bird. Even those who are salt conscious should be generous with the salt. Remember that it’s only going on the skin and in the cavity of the bird. If you don’t want the salt, don’t eat the skin.

Second, STUFF IT! The reason meat dries out is because hot air circulates through the cavity of the bird while it’s cooking. You can resolve this problem by sticking some savory stuffing or ¼ of a lemon in it and pinning the skin at the entrance shut with toothpicks.

Third, give the bird a foil tent. By putting some folded foil over the bird for the first hour, you keep the skin from browning and burning before the meat is cooked.

Fourth, change gears part way through the roasting process. For some reason, starting at a high temperature and shifting to a lower one an hour into roasting results in a perfect bird.

Fifth, give the bird a rest! This is the tip that’s repeated in every single food article on meat, and that’s for a reason. Resting the meat for 15 minutes after roasting prevents it from drying out after it comes out of the oven.

Now on to the recipe!

Here’s How You Do It

Difficulty Level: Medium - Hard
Prep time: 35 Minutes
Roasting time: 90 Minutes

Serves 2 to 4

Ingredients

1 Chicken – 3 to 4 pounds

1 Tablespoon of Herbs, fresh or dried – The pros will say fresh is best, and they’re right, but in a pinch feel free to use dried. I used Herbes de Provence, which is a mix of different herbs including thyme, oregano, marjoram, and savory; you could also use basil, rosemary, sage or tarragon or any combo of the herbs I’ve mentioned.

1 Teaspoons of Salt + extra for seasoning the bird inside and out 

1/2 Teaspoon of Pepper

1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil

1 Tablespoon of Melted Butter

½ Teaspoon of Dijon Mustard

¼ Teaspoon of Honey

1 Onion, Peeled and Cut into Quarters

5 Cups (or 2 individual bottles) of Hard Apple Cider

1 Tablespoon of Butter mixed with 1 ½ Tablespoons of Flour

¼ Lemon or 1 Cup of Homemade Stuffing

Equipment

Measuring Cups and Spoons

1 Knife and Cutting Board

1 Regular Bowl

1 Baking Dish big enough for your Chicken

1 Regular Spoon for mixing

2 Toothpicks

Aluminum Foil

Kitchen or Phone Timer

Kitchen Tongs

1 Small Pot

1 Whisk

Preheat the oven to 400 OF.

Take your chicken out of the fridge and put it in the baking dish. Season it all over with salt, making sure to get salt in the crevices of wings and the legs.

Season the bird inside the cavity and stuff it with a quarter of a lemon or stuffing.

Pin the skin outside the entrance to the cavity together using your trusty toothpicks.

In a regular bowl, mix the Olive Oil, Melted Butter, Dijon Mustard, Honey, Pepper, and a Teaspoon of Salt.

Rub the herb and oil mixture all over the chicken.

Surround it with the four pieces of onion.

Pour the first 2 ½ cups (1 bottle) of cider into the bottom of the pan.

Cut a piece of aluminum foil slightly bigger than what is needed to cover the chicken and fold it slightly in half. Put this “tent” on top of the chicken.

CAREFULLY, so the cider doesn’t spill, put the pan in the oven.

Set a timer for 60 minutes and walk away.

When the timer goes off, turn the oven down to 375 oF and remove the foil tent from the pan.

Roast for another 40 minutes and take it out of the oven.

Transfer the chicken to a cutting board using your trusty tongs and leave it alone for 15 minutes to rest.

While the chicken is resting, discard the onion pieces, and pour the juices from the pan into a pot on high heat along with the second bottle (2 ½ Cups) of Cider. Bring it to a boil and simmer it for about 15 minutes, whisking constantly until some of the liquid evaporates.

Whisk in the flour and butter mixture, stirring until the gravy thickens a little.

Turn off the heat.

Now feel free to carve up your bird and serve!

Happy Thanksgiving, Eh!


-Samantha R. Gold


Questions? Comments? Requests?

Bring it on!

I can be reached at:  for.the.culinarily.challenged@gmail.com

Trolls will be unceremoniously deleted and dismissed.





















Sunday, October 2, 2016

Pumpkin Spice Cream


Fall is in full swing. The leaves are falling and the weather is getting colder, but it doesn’t have to be all bad. Many celebrate the season because every coffee and pastry shop is producing “pumpkin spice” things that people snap up like the latest iPhone or videogame system. Fortunately, nobody gets trampled when this happens.

Pumpkin spice is the loose term for any sweet treat flavored with any combination of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice and usually containing some form of pumpkin puree. This ice cream is a perfect example.

This ice cream requires no fancy equipment. You don’t need an ice cream maker, or dry ice (a popular method among foodies into molecular gastronomy – Google it) to make it.

You got a couple of bowls? A whisk? A rubber baking spatula? CONGRATULATIONS! You can make ice cream!

Here’s How You Do It

Difficulty Level: Medium - Easy
Prep  time: 15 Minutes
Freeze time depends on your freezer

Serves 4 to 6 

Ingredients

1 Cup of Sweetened Condensed Milk – This is the secret to no-machine ice cream. The condensed milk doesn’t produce ice crystals like other dairy products and it’s so sweet you don’t need to add any extra sugar. Available in the baking section of grocery stores.

1 Cup Whipping Cream

½ Teaspoon of Cinnamon

¼ Teaspoon of Nutmeg – Freshly grated is ideal, but if you have the pre-ground stuff lying around or it’s easier to find, no sense in wasting it.

1 Pinch of Salt

½ Cup of Canned Puréed Pumpkin

½ Cup Crushed Pecans - If you or your loved ones are allergic to nuts, leave em out.

Equipment

2 Mixing Bowls

1 Whisk

1 Rubber Spatula

Measuring Cups and Spoons

Plastic Wrap or 1 Plastic Container with lid

In the first bowl, combine the pureed pumpkin, the sweetened condensed milk, the cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

Stir in the crushed pecans.

In the second bowl, using your trusty whisk, beat the heck out of the whipping cream by moving your hand back and forth really fast. It’s good to go when the cream forms a peak when you pull the whisk up and out. This will take about 5 minutes and a little elbow grease, but it will be SO worth it!

Dump the whipped cream into the bowl with pumpkin mixture and gently fold it in using your trusty rubber spatula until well combined. You fold things in by holding a rubber spatula so the edge is perpendicular to the mixture and move it around in a slow diagonal circular motion. In this case, it allows the cream to merge with the pumpkin mix without deflating.


Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or dump the ice cream into a plastic container with lid and stick it in the freezer.

Once it’s frozen, you’re good to go!

Enjoy!

-Samantha R. Gold

Questions? Comments? Requests?

Bring it on!

I can be reached at:  for.the.culinarily.challenged@gmail.com

Trolls will be unceremoniously deleted and dismissed.