Monday, December 25, 2017

Alton Brown and Allrecipes: Herbed Prime Rib

It seems like each major holiday has its designated meat.  Thanksgiving has turkey.  Easter has ham or lamb.  But what does Christmas dinner have?  Well, going forward, I think it has this amazing prime rib roast.  It's a bit of a production to get the thing cooked to the perfect medium-rare, but good grief is it delicious after all of that work.  We cut it a little thinner than the traditional restaurant serving, and it was still fantastic.  This is going in the rotation.

Herbed Prime Rib
Adapted from Alton Brown and Chef John at Allrecipes

1 (5-pound) bone-in prime rib roast
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried chervil or parsley
½ tablespoon dried marjoram
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Remove any plastic wrapping or butcher's paper from the roast. Place the standing rib roast upright onto a half sheet pan fitted with a rack. The rack is essential for drainage. Place dry towels loosely on top of the roast. This will help to draw moisture away from the meat. Place into a refrigerator at approximately 50 to 60 percent humidity and between 34 and 38 degrees F. You can measure both with a refrigerator thermometer. Change the towels daily for 3 days.

Place rib roast on a plate and bring to room temperature, about 4 hours.  Preheat an oven to 500°F.

Combine butter and herbs in a bowl; mix until well blended. Season roast generously with salt and pepper.  Spread butter mixture evenly over entire roast.

Roast the prime rib in the preheated oven for 25 minutes*. Turn the oven off and keep the oven door shut.  At the one hour mark, check the oven temp by setting it to bake at 325°F. If your oven is below 325°F and begins to heat up, your oven either has a vent fan or cools off too quickly. Set it to 275°F and leave it for the next hour. You are now at 1½ hours after the blast. Turn the oven off for the last half hour. If your oven is over 325°F at the one hour mark, let the roast sit in the oven for another 1½ hours. Remove roast from the oven, slice, and serve.

*Your cooking times will vary depending on the size of your prime rib roast. To calculate your cooking time, multiply the exact weight of the roast by 5. Round the resulting number to the nearest whole number. The rib is cooked at 500°F for exactly that many minutes. For example, for a 6-pound roast: 6x5=30, so cooking time is 30 minutes.

John Lewis and Ray England: Chile Relleno Breakfast Casserole

In addition to the magic of oatmeal pumpkin chip muffins, I needed a protein for my Christmas morning breakfast.  Most of the casseroles out there are full of either bread or hashbrowns, but I wanted something straight egg-and-meat.  Finally I found this take on a deconstructed chile relleno that turned out fantastically.  The original recipe didn't call for sausage, but I firmly believe any Tex-Mex breakfast casserole is better with chorizo, so there you go.  Serve with sour cream, guacamole, and salsa.

Chile Relleno Breakfast Casserole
Adapted from John Lewis and Ray England, Juan Luis restaurant, Charleston, SC

1¾ pounds (12 medium) poblano chiles
1½ cups half-and-half
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
8 large eggs
1 garlic clove
Nonstick cooking spray
2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
12 ounces Mexican chorizo, casings removed, cooked, crumbled, and drained
Boiling water, for baking

Preheat the broiler to high and line a sheet pan with foil. Line the chiles next to each other on the pan and broil, turning as needed, until the chiles are well charred, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let steam for 15 minutes, then peel and deseed the poblanos using the back of a knife.

Lower the oven temperature to 300°F. In a blender, combine the half-and-half, flour, salt, eggs, and garlic. Blend on medium until smooth.

Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and line with a quarter of the roast poblanos, followed by a quarter of the grated cheese and chorizo. Continue this layering process until all the chiles, cheese, and chorizo have been used. Pour the egg mixture in to cover the chiles.

Place the baking dish in a roasting pan and fill the roasting pan with enough boiling water to come up halfway along the sides of the baking dish. Bake until the eggs begin to set, 30 minutes, then raise the temperature to 400°F and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the eggs are fully cooked and the top is golden brown.

Let rest at room temperature for 15 minutes, then slice and serve.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Ina Garten: Roasted Shrimp Cocktail

My mom always likes having some seafood for Christmas Eve, so this year I suggested we try a different take on the usual shrimp cocktail.  Instead of boiling the shrimp, you roasted them in the oven to get that great roasted flavor.  They're still served cold, like the traditional version, but these have many times the flavor.  Warning: it is possible to become addicted and eat so many that you end the evening with shrimp belly.

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail
From Ina Garten

For the shrimp:
2 pounds (12- to 15-count) shrimp
1 tablespoon good olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce:
½ cup chili sauce
½ cup ketchup
3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Place them on a sheet pan with the olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread them in 1 layer. Roast for 8 to 10 minutes, just until pink and firm and cooked through. Set aside to cool.

For the sauce, combine the chili sauce, ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. Serve as a dip with the shrimp.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Italian Salad Skewers

On Christmas Eve we tend to do a small plate/appetizer menu, allowing everyone to nibble at will.  This means we get to try lots of fun little dishes each year, and honestly, it goes better with that Christmas Eve tipple than a heavy plate of meat and potatoes.  This year I wanted to try something low-carb since we tend to overdo it on the cookie side, and these skewers turned out perfectly.  Plus, they're easy to make, as you buy everything pretty much ready to go.

Italian Salad Skewers

16 cherry tomatoes, different colors if possible
16 slices Genoa salami, folded in quarters to form a fan
16 cubes smoked provolone, each about 1-inch square
16 pitted green olives
16 thin slices prosciutto
16 marinated mozzarella balls, reserving remaining seasoned olive oil in container
16 wedges roasted red pepper
16 marinated artichoke heart quarters
16 pitted Kalamata olives

Using wooden cocktail picks, thread the ingredients onto the pick in the order listed: first cherry tomato, then salami fan, then smoked provolone, then green olive, then a mozzarella ball wrapped in prosciutto, then roasted red pepper, then artichoke heart, then Kalamata olive.  Lay the skewers out on a tray, and spoon over some of the marinated olive oil so that the skewers are evenly seasoned.

Makes 16 skewers

Saturday, December 23, 2017

King Arthur Flour: Caribbean Rum Cake

I have wanted to make this cake for quite a long time, but I could never quite get over the fact that it normally calls for a boxed cake mix, in addition to the instant pudding mix.  That's a lot of processed food in one dish.  Luckily I found this recipe that at least cuts out the boxed cake mix.  There are other ways of substituting for the pudding mix, but apparently none of them quite replicate the tender texture of this version.  A necessary evil.  Like red food coloring in a red velvet cake.  After soaking in rum syrup, this cake is so fantastically moist, it can probably be stretched for a week, but I honestly don't think it will last that long.

Note: I used Captain Morgan's spiced rum, and it was delicious.  I couldn't find butter-rum flavoring on short notice, so I just added some butter extract instead.

Caribbean Rum Cake
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

2 cups all-purpose flour
1½ cups granulated sugar
1 (3.4-ounce) box instant vanilla pudding mix (not sugar-free)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup milk, at room temperature
4 large eggs, at room temperature
½ cup rum, plain or spiced
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon butter-rum flavor (optional)
¼ cup pecan flour, for dusting baking pan (optional)
1 cup chopped pecans

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
¼ cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup rum, plain or spiced
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Place the flour, sugar, pudding mix, baking powder, salt, butter, and vegetable oil in a mixing bowl, and mix at medium speed until everything is thoroughly combined and the mixture is sandy looking. Beat in the milk, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Scrape the bowl thoroughly, and beat briefly to recombine any sticky residue. Stir in the rum, vanilla, and butter-rum flavor.

Spritz a 10- to 12-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray. For an extra layer of nutty flavor, sprinkle the inside of the pan with pecan flour and turn the pan to coat evenly; shake out any excess. Carefully mound the chopped pecans in the bottom of the prepared pan. Pour the batter over the pecans and spread level with a spatula.

Bake the cake for 50 to 60 minutes. When done, a cake tester, long toothpick, or strand of uncooked spaghetti will come out clean when inserted into the center. Remove the cake from the oven.  Leave the cake in the pan to cool slightly while you make the syrup.

In a medium-sized saucepan combine the syrup ingredients, except vanilla. Bring to a rapid boil then reduce to a simmer and cook (without stirring) for about 5 to 8 minutes, until the syrup thickens slightly. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

Use a long skewer to poke holes all over the cake. Pour about ¼ cup of the syrup over the cake (still in the pan). Allow the syrup to soak in, then repeat again and again until all the syrup is used.

Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and allow the cake to sit overnight at room temperature to cool completely and soak in the syrup. When ready to serve, loosen the edges of the cake and invert onto your serving plate. If the cake won’t release, don't force it. Place it in the oven, turn the oven to 350°F, and warm for about 10 minutes, to soften the sticky syrup. (If your oven is one that preheats by making its upper element red-hot, place the cake on a lower rack and tent it with aluminum foil to protect it.) Remove the cake from the oven, and tip it onto the serving plate. Serve with hot coffee or tea. The cake is very moist, fragrant and potent. Wrap securely (or place under a cake cover) and store at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage, up to 1 month.

Friday, December 22, 2017

How Sweet Eats: Oatmeal Pumpkin Spice Morsel Muffins

Christmas breakfast is serious business.  There needs to be some protein and some carbs.  It needs to be made (mostly) ahead of time, but still be fantastically delicious and satisfying.  After all, it needs to compete with the opening of all of the presents that are waiting patiently under the tree.  And that's a hard sell for any breakfast.  But the first item on the menu, these muffins, fulfill all of the categories and leave a smile on everyone's faces.  Slather warm muffins in butter for full effect.

Oatmeal Pumpkin Spice Morsel Muffins
Adapted from How Sweet Eats blog

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup whole milk, divided use
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
⅓ cup packed brown sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch ground nutmeg
1 cup pumpkin spice morsels or chocolate chips
Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Add oats to a bowl and add ½ cup of the milk. Let soak for 5 to 10 minutes, while you prepare the first few steps of the muffins.  In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg.

In a large bowl, combine butter and brown sugar and beat until smooth. Add in egg and vanilla, mixing well. Add flour mixture alternately with the remaining milk in two to three portions. Add the oat mixture and combine until smooth. Fold in pumpkin spice morsels or chocolate chips.

Spray a muffin tin with baking spray, and place a liner in each cup. Pour about ¼ cup batter into each cup. Sprinkle the tops with raw turbinado sugar. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until cooked through.

Makes 12 muffins

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Two Peas & Their Pod: Chocolate Dipped Toffee Shortbread

I love shortbread cookies.  Even though they aren't really that sweet, there's something about the buttery snap of them that just really makes me happy.  So why not make them part of the annual Christmas cookie baking process?  And why not make them especially delicious for the occasion by dipping them in chocolate?  I think these are going to be my favorite cookies this year, but shhh...don't tell the other cookies.

Chocolate Dipped Toffee Shortbread
Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod blog

2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup toffee bits, divided
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a small bowl, whisk the flour and salt together. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and powdered sugar until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract. Slowly add in the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in ½ cup of the toffee bits. Form the dough into a disk shape and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill the dough for at least 1 hour or until firm.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat baking mat and set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a ¼-inch thick square. Cut into squares, rounds, or shape of your choice using a lightly floured cookie cutter. Place shortbread cookies on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until cookies are very lightly browned around the edges. Remove cookies from baking sheet and cool completely on a wire cooling rack.

Put the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and melt, stirring every 30 seconds until melted. Dip the shortbread cookies in the melted chocolate and sprinkle with additional toffee bits. Lay on a piece of parchment paper or wax paper to set up. Once chocolate is completely dried, store cookies in an air tight container for up to 5 days.

Makes 2 dozen cookies

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Danny Cohen: Coconut Macaroons

One of my favorite candy bars is Mounds (Almond Joy is also up there), so this Christmas, I wanted to make a cookie version.  Luckily, these little cookies are pretty easy to put together, and give you a pretty good bang for buck.  They turn out slightly chewing, and not really as dense as you would expect.  Dipping their bottoms in chocolate is the perfect finish.  Santa approves.

Coconut Macaroons
From Danny Cohen, as seen on Food and Wine

1 (14-ounce) bag sweetened shredded coconut
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
¼ teaspoon salt
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted

Preheat the oven to 350°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine the coconut with the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the salt until firm peaks form. Fold the beaten whites into the coconut mixture.

Scoop tablespoon-size mounds of the mixture onto the baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Bake in the upper and middle thirds of the oven for about 25 minutes, until golden; shift the sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Transfer the baking sheets to racks and let the cookies cool completely.

Dip the bottoms of the macaroons into the melted chocolate, letting any excess drip back into the bowl. Return the cookies to the lined baking sheets. Drizzle any remaining chocolate on top and refrigerate for about 5 minutes, until set.

The macaroons can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Makes about 40 macaroons

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Sugar Free Mom: Sugar-Free Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies with Sugar-Free Cream Cheese Frosting

When Christmas starts to creep up in the calendar, and it's time to start thinking about leaving a treat for Santa, what's a diabetic child (or adult) to do?  Luckily, there are some amazing products on the market now that will allow any enterprising cook to make some pretty fabulous treats that won't spike blood sugar through the roof.  These cookies look exactly like their sugary cousins, but the only carbs to count are in the flour.  I'm sure even Santa appreciates the sugar break.

Sugar-Free Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies with Sugar-Free Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Sugar Free Mom blog

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
4 tablespoons spoonable Truvia
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2½ cups Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a stand mixer combine butter, Truvia, and vanilla extract.  Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes.  Beat in eggs until well blended.  Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add flour mixture.

Using a tablespoon, roll into balls, flatten and bake 10 minutes on a parchment lined baking sheet.  To make cut out shapes spread dough between two pieces of plastic wrap, roll to 1/4 inch thickness and use cookie cutters to shape.

Bake on parchment lined baking sheet for 10 minutes.

Makes about 48 cookies

Sugar-Free Cream Cheese Frosting
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon spoonable Truvia
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Half-and-half, as needed

Combine cream cheese, butter, Truvia, and vanilla bean paste in a mixer and beat until light and fluffy.  Add half-and-half as needed to thin the mixture to a spreadable consistency.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Molly O'Neill: Glazed Shallots

Each year I have gotten into the habit of trying a new side dish for Thanksgiving.  Something outside of the usual rotation.  Because sweet potatoes with marshmallows and green beans only go so far.  I feel like there needs to be one new thing on the menu to keep things interesting.  This year I decided to play with some shallots, which I don't think would normally be considered a side dish, but more of an ingredient in some other creation.  But these shallots turn out soft and sweet, with a delicious umami background from the chicken stock and a slight tang from the wine.  And they play perfectly with that roast turkey.

Glazed Shallots
From Molly O'Neill, as seen at NYT Cooking

1¼ pounds (about 36) small shallots, peeled
½ cup white wine
1 cup homemade or low-sodium chicken stock
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
A few grinds of black pepper

In a skillet just large enough to hold the shallots in a single layer, combine the shallots, wine, stock, sugar, salt and 2 tablespoons of the butter. Place over high heat, bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the liquid evaporates and the shallots are very tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Raise heat to medium high and cook, shaking the pan frequently, until the shallots begin to brown and are coated with a thick syrup. Remove from heat and add the final tablespoon of butter, shaking the pan until it is melted and incorporated. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings