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Bloody Mary Chicken

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This recipe could not be easier. BUT it requires a secret ingredient that you can only buy at the Spice and Tea Exchange. It is a Bloody Mary Spice Blend. One of the many blends I make at work. It contains just about every thing you need to make a good Bloody Mary except the tomato juice and vodka. Here is a list of the ingredients (all of which you can also buy separately at our store): black pepper, sea salt, celery seed, garlic, horseradish powder, Worcestershire powder & tomato powder. By utilizing this unique blend of spices, herbs and concentrated powders you can make a fast and easy dinner, in fact I gave my husband the directions and he did the marinade while I was at work. When I got home, I just tossed a salad, grilled the chicken, mashed some sweet potatoes, drizzled them with maple syrup and added some of my Cognac Cranberry Compote.

Ingredients: 

2 Tablespoons STE Bloody Mary Blend

Juice and Zest of one lemon (I used Meyers from my tree)

1/4 cup Olive Oil (I used smoked olive oil that I make myself)

2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves

Method: 

Mix together the first three ingredients, put the chicken in a zip lock plastic bag, pour the marinade in. Allow to marinate for 6-8 hours in the refrigerator. Preheat your grill and then grill the chicken till the interior reaches 165 degrees. Remove, cover with foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Serve and smile!

Individual Cheese Soufflés

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I like to serve soufflés  in individual dishes. This recipe makes two generous soufflés. I used ramekins that are 5″ across. For dinner parties I like to double this recipe and use smaller ramekins. I served the soufflés with a sauteed chicken breast and brandied cranberry sauce. They would be equally good with a large herb salad. Fresh eggs are important in this recipe. Contrary to rumors, soufflés are actually very easy to make as long as you follow the instructions and do not open the oven while cooking. I also use a ceramic oven liner that retains heat and makes for even baking. Have fun with this!

 Individual Cheese Soufflés

  • 1 teaspoon of Piment d’Espelette (optional; you may find this favorite seasoning of mine difficult to find)
  • 3/4 cup finely grated aged Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus 1/4 cup for topping (used the food processor with blade for grating the cheese)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature and more for coating the ramekins
  •  2 tablespoons all-purpose/plain flour
  •  1/2 of a nutmeg, freshly grated
  •  3/4 teaspoons sea salt
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  •  1 cup finely grated semi-hard cheese such as Comté Manchego, Gruyère. I used Comté and did the food processor method for both the Comté and the Parm (but do make sure that there are no large lumps)
  •  3 large very fresh eggs, separated + one extra white.
  • 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used Meyer lemons, they are my favorite and my tree is loaded)

 

Preheat the oven to 375˚F with a rack in the middle of the oven. Butter ramekins sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano to coat completely all the way to the top. Shake any excess cheese out into a bowl. Place the molds in the freezer to chill.

Melt the 1 tablespoon butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Whisk in the Piment d’Espelette , flour, nutmeg, and salt; whisking constantly, cook the flour without browning, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the milk and garlic and continue to cook, whisking, at a low simmer until the mixture is smooth and thick like pudding, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the Comté and any Parmigiano-Reggiano left over from coating the molds and cook, stirring, until the cheese melts. Remove from the heat and stir in the egg yolks, one at a time. Continue stirring vigorously with a rubber spatula to cool.

Whisk the egg whites and lemon juice in a clean bowl. I use my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer with the  beater on medium-high until they just hold a soft peak. * DO NOT not over-whip the whites, which would give your soufflé a cloudy instead of creamy consistency.

Fold one-fourth of the egg whites into the cheese mixture with a rubber spatula, carefully turning the bowl and mixing gently until the whites are streaked throughout. Add the remaining whites and fold in but don’t overmix, which can deflate the whites.

Transfer the batter to the chilled mold and scatter the remaining  Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top. Place the dish on a baking sheet/tray and set in the oven, decrease the oven temperature to 325˚F/ 165°C/, and bake until the soufflé is golden, puffed, and set but just a touch wobbly inside, 30 to 40 minutes. Serve immediately. After a few minutes a slight deflation is normal, this is why they must be served immediately for the most impact. Enjoy!

Ham Haystack

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This is a delicious way to use leftover ham, or an excuse to buy a ham just for the leftovers. The recipe originates from Mareen Priviet, a South African friend of mine who presented this very tasty appetizer at a dinner party in Chicago many years ago. Because of the ingredients I suspect that it comes from the 1950’s. I have always loved the interesting taste, the surprise of crunch and the fact that almost everyone who tastes this loves it. This makes enough to serve to 20 people, so if you have leftovers you can stir it all together to make a deviled ham sort of sandwich spread. I added a few things to the basic recipe, but it is so very good just the way it is. The original recipe calls for Miracle Whip, something I have never been able to stomach, so I use good mayo with some Meyer lemon juice.  The most important flavor profile comes from Branston Pickle, a chutney like pickle from the UK. You can find it on the mainland in some stores that have a British food section. You can also order it online. The taste is extremely unique and I would not attempt this recipe until you have your hands on a jar of the REAL Branston Pickle. Branston Pickle is made from a variety of diced vegetables, including swede, carrots, onions, cauliflower and gherkins pickled in a sauce made from vinegar, tomato, apple and dates with spices such as mustard,coriander, garlic, cinnamon, pepper, cloves, nutmeg and cayenne pepper with sugar. Having said all of that, you really must get some Branston Pickle and go for it. Here is a recipe to make your own Branston Pickle, but it is not that difficult to find the original. The finished product resembles a haystack, hence the name. I promise you, EVERYONE loves this and will ask you for the recipe!

Ham Haystack

Ingredients: 

6  cups ham, in medium chunnks                        two 8 oz. pkgs. cream cheese

1 1/3 cups mayonaise                                              3 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice (you can use other lemons, I just love Meyers)

2/3 cup sliced green onion                                    1/4 cup finely chopped mint

1 jar of Branston pickle relish                                1 cup blanched, slivered almonds

Method: 

  • Toast the slivered almonds on a silpat at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes watching closely, till golden brown.
  • Stir the lemon juice into the mayonnaise
  • Chop the ham in a food processor till it is finely chopped
  • Combine ham with 8oz. of the cream cheese, 2/3 cup of the mayonaise, 1/2 cup slivered almonds (chop before adding), onion, mint & pickle relish.  Mix well.  Chill.
  • Shape into a cone-shaped mound.
  • Combine remaining mayonaise & remaining cream cheese and mix well (i used a food processor)
  • Frost mound with this mixture.
  • Chill slightly.
  • Cover with toasted, slivered almonds.
  • Serve with crackers or party rye bread.

Remember if there are leftovers, you can stir it all together and make a ham salad sandwich with the rest!

You may even get to see a cute bunny if you make this at Easter

Shrimp and Pumpkin Curry

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Based on a Thai Pumpkin Curry that I make, this silken & spicy dish definitely qualifies as SASSY in my book. It is easy to make, healthy and makes great leftovers. I steamed some Jasmine Rice with a few Kaffir Lime leaves and made my own sassy version of cucumber salad (recipe to follow on the next blog post.) I used the Japanese Kabocha  pumpkin that is abundant year round in Hawaii, but you could use any tender squash or pumpkin. Kabocha is sweeter and more tender than most and you can even eat the skin. It cooks rather quickly as do the shrimp, which makes this a prime recipe to whip up on a week night. The splash of cognac adds another dimension of flavor.

Garlic Man is the mascot for The Sassy Spoon! He will be featured somewhere in every post!

Ingedients: 

1 Kabocha Pumpkin cut in to 1″ squares

2 tablespoons curry paste (You can choose any style of curry paste, I have used yellow, green and red with this before. This time I used red).

2 cans of coconut milk

6-8 fresh kaffir lime leaves (there is no real substitute for this, but you can use lime zest).

1/2 pound of large raw shrimp (I used 18-21 per #)

2 tablespoons palm sugar (or dark brown sugar)

2 Tablespoons coconut oil

8 cloves fresh garlic finely minced

4-6 Shitake mushrooms, sliced thickly

splash of cognac (My “splash” is generous, about a jigger full)

Chopped cilantro for finishing

Method: 

In a large hot wok put a large spoon full of the cream from the coconut milk and stir in the curry paste, allow the paste to warm up completely, then pour in one can of the coconut milk & the kaffir leaves, stirring constantly as it thickens.

Add pumpkin and cook for 10 minutes, add the second can of coconut milk and the sugar. Check pumpkin to see if it is cooked thoroughly, be careful not to over cook it or the pumpkin will be mushy. Turn off the heat.

In another pan add the coconut oil, shrimp and mushroom slices. Saute till the shrimp turns pink, about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and slightly brown it.

Add a splash of cognac and cook for 30 seconds more. Add all of this into the wok, turn the heat back up and simmer for a minute, then sprinkle with cilantro and serve over rice.

Soda Bread and Irish Cheddar Bread Pudding

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Soda Bread and Irish Cheddar Bread Pudding

This bread pudding is a sort of a “two fer”, as it also includes a recipe for really great Irish Soda Bread. Soda Bread does not use yeast, it somewhat resembles a very large biscuit. It is easy to make and you will only use about half of the loaf for this recipe. Try toasting the leftovers with butter and jam.

It is March and we did an Irish Fine Dining Dinner for St. Patrick’s Day. I was not the host, so I only did three dishes, the first of which I am sharing with you today.

Ingredients:

For the Soda Bread:

2 Cups all-purpose flour + 2 tablespoons for dusting

1 teaspoon baking soda (be sure it is fresh)

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon fresh cracked pepper

2 Tablespoons fresh dill chopped

1 tablespoon Caraway seeds

1 Cup of buttermilk (shake before pouring)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the Pudding:

4 large fresh eggs

2 cups whole milk

½ cup of heavy cream

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 cups grated Irish Cheddar Cheese

¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Paprika

6 6 ounce ramekins or a 2 quart baking dish

Method

FOR THE SODA BREAD:

Preheat oven to 350°

In a food processor add the flour, baking soda and salt. Pulse a few times. Add the caraway, pepper and dill, pulse a few more times. Add the buttermilk and butter. Pulse again till it just begins to form a ball.

Place on a lightly floured surface and gently knead into a smooth ball and flatten into a 6 inch flattened round. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. Place on an ungreased baking sheet.

With a very sharp knife, cut an X in the top of the dough about ½ inch deep. This assures even cooking.

Use a small sieve to dust the top with additional flour.

Bake on middle shelf (I also use a baking stone for even heat) for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and a hollow sound is made when tapped.

Cool on a rack. This can be done one day ahead.

FOR THE PUDDINGS:

Preheat oven to 350°

Spray the ramekins with olive oil

Cut ½ of the bread into cubes and place them in the ramekins about half way up. Reserve remaining cubes.

Make the custard by whisking the eggs, milk, cream, salt & pepper. Stir in the cheeses. Pour into a pitcher.

Place the ramekins in a hotel pan or 9 X 13 baking dish, cover the bread with custard, making sure some cheese goes in. Then add additional cubes to the top of the ramekin 3/4 of the way from the top. Pour all of the mixture into the ramekins, filling them to the top. Sprinkle with a little paprika. Add about 2 inches of water to the hotel pan and bake 35-40 minutes. They are finished when a knife is inserted and comes out clean.

Remove from the water and place on a towel or rack and allow to rest for 15 minutes or more.

The Compassionate Chefs of Charleston

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The Compassionate Chefs of Charleston

I have some sweet memories rolling around my head right now. Last weekend I found myself in the midst of several hundred foodies and fourteen amazingly generous chefs. We were at Lowndes Grove Plantation along the slow and winding Ashley River in Charleston, South Carolina. We were there for a barn raising, quite literally. Keegan Filion Farm owned by Annie and Marc Keegan supplies many of Charleston’s restaurants with free range poultry, eggs, grass fed beef and heritage Tamworth Hogs. On December 4th a young turkey knocked over a heater and the barn built in the 1930’s was consumed by fire. More than 100 turkeys died in the fire as well as turkey and hog feed, farm equipment and tools.

Chef Nico Romo of Fish Restaurant and Randall Goldman, CEO for Patrick Properties rallied the troops. A barn raising, was planned in a little less than two months. Chefs offered their services and food. Patrick Properties provided the spectacular venue and the public came in droves to taste and celebrate together. Enough money was raised at the event to build the new barn.

The food was amazing of course! Here are some pictures of the wonderful treats we were served.

Here is the perfectly executed Lasagna with Lamb Bolognese and Goat Cheese by Chef  Jacques Larson of Wild Olive

From the culinary program at the Art Institute, this beautiful Foie Gras Custard with Pickled Red Onion Mousse

From FIG, here is yet another “play with lamb dish”, AMAZING soft pillows of gnocchi with a velvety lamb ragu. This just might be the best gnocchi I have ever tasted.
It literally melted in my mouth. Chef Mike Lata is an artist in the kitchen. I would go back to Charleston just to sit at one of his tables.

House made Charcuterie on Focaccia by Craig Deihl of Cypress

Pulled Pork Tamal with Black Bean Sauce and a Kicker of Green Chile Salsa

Cassoulet with house made bacon

And then there were the OYSTERS! I miss oysters so much living in Hawaii. Low Country Oysters are unique and so very good that I often dream of them.

The handsome Chef Nico Romo of Fish Restaurant

In the low country oysters are roasted, this does not mean that they are cooked… they are steamed just long enough to encourage them to open.

Big thanks to the generous chefs who at the end of Restaurant Week still found energy and gave their all to the cause:

Nico Romo from Fish Restaurant, Sean Brock from McCrady’s and Husk, Ken Vedrinski fromTrattori a Lucca, Marc Collins from Circa 1886, Fred Neuville from Fat Hen, Craig Deihl from Cypress, Sarah O’Kelley from Glass Onion, Matt Russell from EVO, Nathan Thurston from The Ocean Room at Kiawah, Jacques Larson from Wild Olive, Mike Lotz from Triangle Char and Bar, Frank Lee from SNOB, Mike Lata from FIG, Jeremiah Bacon from Macintosh.

Ahhhh… I miss the Low Country already and I have only been back in Hawaii for a few days.

And here is a shout out to my host in Charleston, Holly Herrick… it was so much fun exploring the city and dining with you. More on her soon.