Trying out recipes to pass on to you.

your new fancy snack

Posted: August 8th, 2009 | Author: leah | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 6 Comments »

I wanted to see “Julie & Julia” on opening night—and honestly, alone. Most movies I don’t mind seeing with friends. Movies I know I might geek out at…not so much. I also knew I wanted to sneak in some sort of snack. So as a little tribute to Julia I planned to make gougeres  after work to take with me. Also known in my house as “cheesy poofs.”

It’s no boeuf bourguignon, but choux pastry is French. And you’ve had it before if you’ve had an éclair or a cream puff. But when you add something like cheese and make them bite sized–voila! A cheesy puff! Hee!

This recipe comes from my Williams-Sonoma “Bride & Groom Cookbook.”

You will need a medium saucepan, baking sheets, a box grater, parchment paper and a wooden spoon. So far so easy, right?

 

 For ingredients you’ll need:

½ cup water

3 Tbsp butter (I use unsalted)

¾ cup plus 2 Tbsp flour

1 1/3 cups grated Gruyere cheese (other hard cheeses like parm can be substituted but this one has a nice salty nuttiness too it and melts well. I subbed cheddar once and it was a failure. I can find Gruyere at my local grocery story in Oklahoma so I bet you can, too)

¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper (adds a nice mild curious kick)

½ tsp salt

Preheat the oven to bake and 375 degrees F and line baking sheets with parchment paper. I was out and used foil with no major problem.

Combine the butter and ½ cup water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the flour all at once, quickly stirring with a wooden spoon until batter is glossy and smooth and pulls away from the sides of the saucepan. The dough will form a ball around the spoon.

 Remove from the heat and add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition until thoroughly incorporated. I recommend the eggs be room temp or they start to chunk up like mine did. It isn’t the end of the world, but not preferable.

Stir in cheese, cayenne, and salt.

Use 2 spoons or a pastry bag without the tip to form 1-inch balls on the baking sheet.  

Bake until balls double in size and turn golden brown and knife inserted comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cool slightly or completely before serving. (fun story, I had my oven set to broil and miraculously they didn’t ruin. They were done in about 18 minutes though. Follow directions!)

These are delicious the next day, too! Just zap them for 12 seconds in the microwave or a few minutes in the toaster oven.

Feeling fabulous? Cut these in half and add a bit of a filling—maybe a dollop of veggie cream cheese and a slice of ham? Crab or chicken salad? Stick a cute toothpick through and you have a nice out of the box offering at your next party (though they are DELISH alone and with everything from beer to sparkling wine to orange juice.)


THE squash blossom post

Posted: August 2nd, 2009 | Author: leah | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments »

I don’t know if I read about it in a magazine or why squash blossoms suddenly got stuck in my head. I’ve only had them once, fried—at an Asian restaurant. Timely—as long as squash is in season the blossoms are around.  A sweet friend has been getting up early to pick a few each day for me in her garden. The blooms open in the morning and stay that way when picked making them easier to stuff.

1

Since I needed several in case of a major screw up I had to buy more at the farmers market. Unfortunately, most were closed. Still pretty right? I’m going to slice them up and stir them in to a carbonara Monday night.

 

From what I’ve read, squash blossoms show up in Mexican, French and Italian dishes and have just a mild flavor of—garden. You know…like a good tomato tastes like garden. Earthy. It’s really just a delivery devise for the yum you stuff them with. Think “lettuce wrap.” This recipe has a southwest twist courtesy of Bobby Flay.

Crispy Squash Blossoms Filled with Pulled Pork and Ricotta

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese

Braised Pork, recipe follows (full recipe HERE)

Salt and pepper

15-20 squash blossoms

Canola oil or peanut oil, for frying

Rice Batter, recipe follows

Black Pepper Vinaigrette, recipe follows

Directions

Clean squash blossoms by carefully opening up the petals and removing the stamen, then removing the sharp leaves attached to the petals. Swish them gently in a bowl of water to remove any pollen, dirt or critters inside.


Place the ricotta in a strainer lined with cheesecloth over a bowl and let drain in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Discard liquid. (not sure about this step. Mine didn’t give off any liquid)

Combine the strained ricotta and shredded pork in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. I made shredded pork tacos to serve with these so instead I stirred in some left over ground beef chorizo—maybe 1/3 cup. I pan fried it and drained the grease. I figured it would still have a similar effect. I think I needed more. I ended up adding a few dashes each of cumin, onion powder and chili powder.

Fill each squash blossom with the cheese mixture and twist the top of the blossom to secure the filling while frying.

Fill a large, heavy saucepan halfway with oil and heat on the stove until the temperature reaches 360 degrees F.

Dredge each filled squash blossom in the rice batter to coat completely.

 

Fry the squash blossoms in batches until lightly golden brown, turning once. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels and sprinkle with salt.

Drizzle some of the black pepper vinaigrette in the center of a serving plate and place 2 squash blossoms on top for each serving. Serve hot.

Let’s be straight—these were TIME CONSUMING. I think my guests who got to try them were hesitant at first but brave sports. We ended up eating all but four or five. I thought the taste overall was good—a nice fried snack. And the vinaigrette was tasty. Looking forward to topping salads with it this week.  For something that isn’t a main meal I can’t see taking the time to make the braised pork. More chorizo or experimenting with other flavors like seasoned rice, salsa or other cheeses mixed with the ricotta might be good. If this sounds even slightly appetizing to you and you have access to some blossoms look up other recipes until you find the right one for you. I may try this once more before the squash season is over—next time with Italian flavors.

 My sous-chef says, “Buy local. Take naps.”

 

 

Braised Pork:

1 (2-pound) pork butt, cut into 2-inch cubes

2 cups your favorite BBQ sauce

2 cups rice vinegar

1 large red onion, coarsely chopped

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Place pork cubes in a medium roasting pan. Stir together the BBQ sauce, vinegar, and onion and then pour mixture over the pork and season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan with foil and cook in the oven for 3 1/2 to 4 hours or until the meat is fork tender. Let cool in the braising liquid, then drain the liquid from the meat and shred the meat into bite-sized pieces.

Rice Batter:

2 cups cold water

2 cups rice flour

Salt

Whisk together water and flour until smooth and season with salt. Let sit 10 minutes before using.

Black Pepper Vinaigrette:

1/2 cup rice vinegar

1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

2 teaspoons honey

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Combine vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, and honey in a blender. With the machine running, slowly add the oil until emulsified.