Saturday, January 14, 2012

Pear and Jarlsberg Pastries with Ginger Green Tea Ice Cream

Hiiiiii.  So.... yeah.  Never did finish posting the cheesecake results.  Apparently eight days in a row was WAY too much for me.  I'll post the rest of those later.  Once I relocate the list of results...

Inspired by the AMAZING NEW COOKWARE Mom got us for Christmas (THANKS MOM!!!!), I picked up some bosc pears, fresh ginger, and lite jarlsberg cheese.  I wasn't really sure what I was going to do with them, but I knew we had some puff pastry in the freezer and I was feeling adventurous. So here's what I ended up doing:

How I did it:

NB: all measurements are VERY approximate.  I didn't measure.  at all.

Ice Cream:
Pour about 2 cups of fat free half-and-half into a small saucepan. Peel and slice a small piece of fresh ginger (I would guess just under 1/4 cup of slices, 1/4 inch thick? about 10 cents worth at Meijer!) and put the slices into the milk along with the contents of one green tea bag.  Heat gently until hot, but not boiling.  Set aside and let steep at least half an hour. After steeping, strain or scoop out the chunks of ginger and mix with 1 can sweetened condensed milk.  (You can add dried ginger here if you want more ginger flavor.  I added a little.) Pour into an ice cream machine and freeze according to the directions that came with the machine. Mine came out pretty soft, so I stuck it in the freezer for a while and it hardened up nicely.

If using puff pastry SHELLS, bake shells according to package directions (mine were 20 minutes at 400 or something like that, but I pulled em a couple minutes early because they looked done to me. While the puff pastry is in the oven, melt ~1 Tablespoon margarine and add 1/4-1/2 cup brown sugar and dried ginger (to taste).  Stir and add 1 pear, sliced thin.  Toss the pears in the syrup until coated.  Add the juice of one lemon (watch for seeds!) and mix.  Cook until the pears are tender (but not mushy!) and the sauce has started to thicken.

While the pears are cooking down, remove puff pastry shells from the oven.  Gently pull the top layer of the pastry up and push down on the center of the inner layers to form a well in the middle of the shell.  Put 2 Tablespoons (? Total guess) shredded jarlsberg cheese into the well and replace the top layer of pastry to cover the cheese and trap in heat (which will melt the cheese...).  Let sit while pears finish cooking.

To plate:
Put one cheese-filled shell on a plate and spoon cooked pears into/over the pastry shell and serve with a scoop of the fresh ice cream, topped with some of the ginger lemon caramel sauce from the pear pan. (The sauce is not on the ice cream in the pic, just a little bit of lemon zest, but let me tell you... the sauce is the way to go.  AWESOME on ice cream.)

If using puff pastry SHEETS: You can either try making shells as above by cutting out circles of puff pastry dough and cutting most of the way through (but not ALL the way) with a smaller circle in the center (bulls-eye style) then baking them until they puff up and turn golden, or make your pastries turnover style, like below.  To do this, prepare pears as above, cut the puff pastry into squares, and put both shredded jarlsberg and pears onto one half (diagonal halves!  so... one corner) of the pastry.  Fold the opposite corner over the filling and bake until puff pastry is golden brown, then remove from oven, brush the top of the pastry with some of the sauce from the pears, and serve with a (melty in this case, this pic was BEFORE the freezer hardening) scoop of your homemade ice cream.  (And in this case, I sprinkled a few SMALL bits of crystallized ginger on top of the dessert.  Good, but fair warning, if you've never used the stuff, it is STRONG.)

So, I hope you all (all 3 of you...) enjoy reading about our culinary adventures, and perhaps trying them for yourself (hint hint hint... you should totally try this, it was fantastic, if I do say so myself).  Let me know if you try making these!  And sorry I didn't take any progress shots.  I wasn't originally planning on posting a how-to, or I would have done that AND measured... at least a little.

Happy baking!


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Chicken Breasts with Rosemary Butter and Olive Oil Pasta

Okay... So this recipe is NOT from my man-crush Geoffrey Zakarian.  This one is just me having to use up some chicken breasts before I had to freeze them. I also wanted to use up the last of the homemade pasta.  So here is what I did.

Chicken Prep

1. Heat olive oil in a pan. 
2. Season chicken with kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and some Frankenmuth All Purpose Seasoning
3. Cook the chicken on medium-high heat until desired browning is achieved, adding a little bit of olive oil or butter to keep the breasts moist
4. Heat oven to 375 and let the chicken finish cooking in the oven

While chicken is finishing, add the following to a sauce pan

1. A couple of tablespoons of butter
2. Fresh rosemary
3. Kosher salt
4. Garlic Powder
5. Onion Powder

Melt the butter with the other ingredients and have the pan ready to pour over the chicken breasts when they hit the plate. 

Pasta directions aren't going to be included here because I'm assuming everyone knows how to boil pasta.  When the pasta is cooked, toss with olive oil and whatever seasoning you like.  I used rosemary, salt, and pepper. 

There is a serious "rosemary" motif going on in this dinner, and I thought it was alright.  The chicken ended up extremely moist and delicious.  I love pasta, especially fresh pasta... so this dish couldn't really go wrong for me.  Enjoy!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Eric and Geoffrey! Town and Country Journey Town Recipe 1

So Rowan got me this fantastic Christmas present... a signed copy of Geoffrey Zakarian's cookbook Town and Country.  I've been watching Chopped on Food Network for a long time now, but I really really loved Zakarian on Next Iron Chef.  When I started thumbing through the book it made me think of that movie, Julie and Julia, where the girl goes through and blogs about making all of Julia Child's recipes from her French cooking book.  People probably don't know that Julia Child actually didn't like the project because it was mostly a stunt and there wasn't anyone there to judge the food being made.  I pretty much agree with that... HOWEVER.. I very much want to work my way through Zakarian's cookbook and blog about it because I think it will be fun and frankly I love the guy.  Anyway, here is a shot of the book....

The first recipe I made is from the "Town" section.... which is supposed to be slightly more elevated food that you get to have once a week as a special treat.  I'm not really sure about all that, but I trust Zakarian's judgment.  The recipe I made tonight was Zakarian's adaptation of ravioli nudi, a dish served at River Cafe in London.  You need the following ingredients: Acorn squash, kosher salt, pepper, serano ham, fresh mozzarella, brown sugar, butter, honey, and olive oil.  To paraphrase Zakarian's process... heat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Place acorn squash (cut into 8 pieces) on a baking sheet with olive oil.  Put salt, pepper, honey, sugar, and butter on squash wedges.  Cook for 15 minutes, turn the pieces on their sides, cook for another 15, and then return the pieces to their original position for a final 15 minute cooking time.  Take the squash wedges out, remove the skin while maintaining the wedge shape as much as possible, and place a piece of mozzarella and ham on the wedge.  Drizzle with olive oil.   Now, when I did this tonight, I couldn't find serano ham, so I used prosciutto.  Anyway, here was the end product.

We didn't eat this alone... we served it along with homemade pasta with a lemon-garlic cream sauce and roasted-garlic bread, as pictured below...

Thanks for reading, and happy cooking.