Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Engagement Chicken, with Roasted Broccoli and Crispy Smashed Potatoes





Yes, you read that right: Engagement Chicken.   I found this recipe in Glamour magazine ages ago.   This chicken is apparently known to make men swoon and see the wife potential in the maker of this chicken.  So if you are hoping to seal the deal, making this chicken might help make that happen.  If you are just looking for a great roasted chicken recipe, this is definitely a good one.

Engagement Chicken

Serves: 2-4

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice, plus 3 whole lemons – including one sliced for garnish
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher or sea salt
  • ½ tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • Fresh herbs (4 rosemary sprigs, 4 sage sprigs, 8 thyme sprigs, 1 bunch flat leaf parsley).  Note: You can just use whatever you have, I’ve even used dried herbs – one of my favorites is the Bavarian seasoning from Penzey’s spices.)   Oh! – I also add a couple garlic cloves.    
Directions
  1. Position an oven rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 400°F.   Remove the giblets from the chicken, wash the chicken inside and out with cold water, let the chicken drain, cavity down, in a colander for 2 minutes.  
  2. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.  Place the chicken breast-side down in a medium roasting pan fitted with a rack (if you don’t have a rack you can use celery or something to keep the chicken up off of the pan to allow for airflow).   Pour the lemon juice all over the chicken, both inside and out.  Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper inside and out.
  3. Prick 2 whole lemons 3 times each in different places with a fork and place them deep inside the cavity.    You can also just cut the lemons in half.    Tip: If the lemonds are stiff, roll them on the countertop with your palm to get the juices flowing. 
  4. Add the fresh herbs and garlic to the cavity as well.
  5. Tie the legs with a wet string and cut a slit in the side of the chicken and tuck the wings in.  These two steps keep the legs and wings from sticking out and burning or cooking too soon.
  6. Put the chicken in the oven, lower the oven temperature to 375°F, and roast uncovered for 15 minutes.  
  7. Remove the roasting pan from the oven.  Using tongs or two wooden spoons, turn the chicken breast-side up.   Return the chicken to the oven and continue roasting for about 60-75 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 180°F and the juices run clear when the thigh is pricked with a fork.  
  8. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving.   Pour the juices from the pan on top of the sliced chicken, as this is said to be the “marry me juice.”   Garnish with herbs and fresh lemon slices.  

Draining my Chicken

Filling the Cavity with lemons, garlic and herbs

Cut a whole in the side
Tuck the wing in the hole

Tie the legs together with wet string
Beautiful Roasted Chicken resting before carving

One of my favorite spices for poultry
FYI - Roasting a chicken does not take quite so long as roasting a turkey, however a large chicken could still take over 2 hours to roast.   As a general rule, calculate a cooking time of 20 minutes per pound of meat plus an additional 10 - 20 minutes at a temperature of 375ºF (190ºC).  Therefore, a 5 lb. chicken will need to be roasting in the oven for at least 1h 50 mins.  A 5 lb bird will serve between 4 - 5 people.   Some people prefer to set the oven temperature to 450ºF (230ºC) and roast the bird at this high temperature for the last 10 - 15 minutes. The rest of the time the chicken should be roasted at 375ºF (190ºC). The surge of heat will result in a really crispy and brown skin and deliciously succulent meat.

This chicken is really good and easy.    Let me know if anything magical happens after serving it.

I served it with roasted broccoli and smashed potatoes.  (And a full glass of un-oaked Chardonnay.)


Roasted Broccoli
Roasted Broccoli

Ingredients

  • Head of broccoli
  • Olive Oil
  • S&P
  • Fresh-grated parmesan
  
Directions
  1. Wash and dry the broccoli.   Cut into bite size pieces.  You can also cheat and just buy a bag of broccoli that is ready to go.  
  2. Toss the broccoli with a couple Tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper.
  3. Lay out flat on a roasting pan and roast in the oven for 12 minutes at 425 ºF.
  4. Once you plate it, top with a little bit of fresh-grated parmesan.   

Note: I actually put it in the oven after I took the chicken out and roasted it while the chicken was resting.   

Experiment: I was recently at a cooking class where the chef told us to always blanch green vegetables before eating raw or cooking.   The reason for blanching is to help preserve the color.  You basically plunge the vegetable into boiling water, removed after a brief, timed interval, and finally plunged into iced water or placed under cold running water (shocked) to halt the cooking process and set the color.  You also retain more nutrients than boiling.    Therefore, with the broccoli, I blanched half and left the other half raw and then followed the recipe above.  Surprisingly, I liked the raw broccoli better; I thought it had a richer flavor.  The blanched broccoli tasted watered down to me.

Raw Broccoli
Blanched Broccoli with bright green color


Crispy Smashed Potatoes
Crispy Smashed Potatoes

Ingredients
  • 2 pounds small red potatoes (1 1/2 – 2″ diameter)
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (more if needed)
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves or rosemary
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • Fresh ground salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh-grated parmesan

Directions
  1. Boil potatoes in salted water until tender (test with a fork and if it goes in smoothly then they are done; about 20 minutes. 
  2. When the potatoes are done drain, and let cool for 10 minutes.  Toss potatoes with 3 tablespoons olive oil making sure each is coated with oil.  Take a cup and “smash” each potato to about 1/3 – 1/2 in thick.
  3. Drizzle another 3 tablespoons olive oil on the potatoes, sprinkle with thyme leaves, garlic, and salt and pepper.  Place the potatoes in your 500 degree oven on the top rack and roast for 20-30 minutes.   
  4. When done, sprinkle with fresh-grated parmesan.   
Note:  These were really good left over too.  I just warmed them up in the oven the next day.   

Smashing the potatoes with a glass

This is a great meal in the fall and winter.  And it’s cheap.  You can make this meal and feed four people for less than $20.


Let me know if this "engagement" chicken results in a proposal or creates some other kind of magic.

Cheers!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Pears

I recently, came across this advertisement for pears.  I can't help but think it is brilliant.  It actually made me crave a ripe juicy pear with some soft blue cheese and almonds.  I love that it is brief, but it tells you how to choose a ripe pear, gives you a recipe idea, and makes you crave a pear.  


Come to think of it, I have an awesome pear pizza recipe that I'm going to have to break out this week with the fresh pears this ad inspired me to buy......


Pear and Goat Cheese Pizza


Ingredients
  • 1 thin  Boboli pizza crust
  • 2 ripe pears
  • 3 large shallots
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Honey
  • 1 small Goat Cheese log (can use plain or honey goat cheese)
  • 1/3 cup parmesan
Preparation
  1. Put thin crust Boboli pizza in the oven for 8-10 minutes (at 375 degrees) - I do this to get the crust a little crispy beforehand; I don't like the taste of raw dough.  
  2. Cut thin slices of 2 ripe pears (you now know how to pick a ripe pear)
  3. Cut 3 large shallots thin.  Saute in a butter/olive oil combo (2 Tbsp. butter; 3 Tbsp. Olive Oil)  
  4. Add Salt +Pepper and cayenne to the onions.
  5. Take out crust.  
  6. Drizzle honey on crust (probably 1/2 Tbsp.)
  7. Put goat cheese on the crust and spread around with a spoon.
  8. Top with the shallots and liquid. 
  9. Put the pear on top of the goat cheese. 
  10. Sprinkle with parmesan – put in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the top starts to brown a little.   I put the pizza directly on the rack with a pan on the rack under it to catch any drippings.
Sauting the Shallots
Spreading the goat cheese on the hot, crispy crust

Topping the goat cheese with the shallots and olive oil/butter sauce

Next comes the fresh, ripe pair slices

Finish with freshly grated parmesan

It is as good as it looks

Serve with a salad and wine

I like to serve this with a goat cheese, beet, and arugula salad w/ balsamic dressing, and red wine.  It is a good fall/winter meal.  So good!

Cheers to fresh, ripe pears!     

Sometimes there is nothing better than a fresh, ripe pear.  

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Sides




Every year, I am torn between whether to stick to the basics or to try new Thanksgiving items.   There are inspirations and recipes everywhere.   I recently took a Thanksgiving sides cooking class and there were two recipes that I am definitely going to make this year. 

Cranberry and Pomegranate Sauce
Cranberry and Pomegranate Sauce

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 package fresh cranberries (can also use frozen)
  • ¾ cup dried cherries, chopped
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
  • Zest of one orange
  • 2 Tbsp. butter

Preparation

  1. In a large saucepan, bring pomegranate juice, cranberries, and cherries to a simmer.
  2. And remaining ingredients and continue to simmer for approximately 10 minutes, until sauce is slightly reduced.
  3. Transfer sauce to a stainless steel bowl to cool.  Chill for 2 hours of overnight.  
  4. Serve at room temperature. 

Notes
  • If you used frozen cranberries, they have been partially cooked so the cooking time is less.   The fresh berries take longer but they hold up better (i.e. less mushy texture).
  • You can use any sweetener, such as honey, agave nectar, brown sugar, etc.
  • Feel free to play, you can use other dried fruit or add apples.  

Verdict
I am not normally a fan of cranberry sauce; I think the cranberries are too tart and let’s be honest; a lot of my cranberry sauce experience has been that blob of cranberry from a can.   However, I liked this sauce.  I love the pop of color it provides on the plate and it is a great palate cleanser.   


Dried Apple Wild Rice Pinenut Dressing
Dried Apple Wild Rice Pinenut Dressing

Ingredients
  • 3 cups chicken stock, divided
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 3 Tbsp. parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. thyme, minced
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 8 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 cups onion, ¼ inch dice
  • 2 cups celery, ¼ inch dice
  • 1 cup toasted pinenuts (or pecans)
  • 1 cup dried apples, chopped (or any dried fruit that you prefer)
  • 2 cups pre-cooked wild rice
  • 6 cups of sourdough or whole grain bread
  • 2 eggs

Preparation
  1. Preheat oven or grill to 400F.   Coat a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.  (That’s right if you don’t have room in your oven, you can bake it on your grill.)
  2. Combine 2 ½ cups of stock, milk, herbs, salt & pepper in a large sauce pot and bring to a boil.  
  3. While waiting for the stock to boil, heat a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the butter, onion, and celery.   Cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the pinenuts, wild rice, and dried apples, mix to combine.  
  4. When the stock comes to a boil, ad the bread and cook over a simmer until the liquid has been absorbed.   Remove from heat and add the onion mixture to bread and stir to incorporate.  
  5. Whisk the eggs and remaining ½ cup of stock together.  Slowly stir into the onion and bread mixture.
  6. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.   Grill or bake until set, about 30-40 minutes

Notes
  • If you use fresh apples, make the dressing the day of (not the day before, which you can do).
  • Don’t try to be healthy and use olive oil instead of butter; the butter helps with the balance between soggy and dry.
  • Feel free to add mushrooms (sauté first) or raisins or anything else you think would be good.
  • If there are walnuts in the whole grain bread you use, beware that the walnuts will turn purple.
  • For the wild rice…. I would recommend hand harvested rice because you can cook it the same day and it has a more delicate flavor.   In contrast, cultivated rice has to soak over night and has a stronger nutty/burnt flavor.  
  • If you decide to use your grill, here are some tips:  1) make sure the dish isn’t directly over the charcoal; you can use a heating stone to help or put it off to the side, 2) use a ceramic baker that is cast iron + ceramic porcelain, and 3) make sure the dish is freezer to oven safe verified.    These tips will help ensure that your dish doesn’t shatter. 
  • Don’t stuff the turkey!   There is no flavor benefit, and there is an increased chance of bacteria due to the raw juices.   The internal temp of the dressing has to get to at least 165 which is hard with everything else going on in the oven.    I also think it is soggy; baking it gives it a little bit of a crispy topping.  
Verdict
This stuffing was delicious.  It was rich, creamy, and hearty.  I loved the flavors and the textures and I can't wait to make it.


STUFFING SIDEBAR: I am going to have to tell you what I have done to cheat for stuffing in the past – it is the easy way and it is good; my husband is actually disappointed that I’m not making it this year.  Basically you buy Stove Top stuffing and make it according to the directions with the following tweaks: 1) use chicken broth instead of water, and 2) sauté onions, celery, garlic, apples, and raisins to add to the stuffing (be creative - there are lots of things you can add to make it seem homemade).   This stuffing is really good and really easy; and since it can be done on the stove top, it is not taking up space in the oven.  Although, you could bake it for a bit if you wanted to.
Easy Stuffing


While we are talking about Thanksgiving, I also thought I would share my favorite gravy recipe.  Anything with a splash of sparkling wine has to be good, right?  A cup of bubbly for the gravy and the rest of the bottle for me (okay, maybe I’ll share - it is Thanksgiving after all).   

Champagne Gravy

Ingredients

  • 5 cups turkey drippings
  • 1 cup sparkling wine
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary (most fresh or dried would work, such as thyme or tarragon)
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 6 Tbsp. flour
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Preparation
  1. Strain the turkey drippings through a fine mesh sieve into a large saucepan.   
  2. Stir sparkling wine, rosemary (or other herb), and black pepper into the drippings in the saucepan, and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer for about 15 minutes to reduce and blend the flavors.   
  3. In a separate pan, sauté the garlic in butter and then add the flour to make a roux.   Whisk the roux into the hot gravy.  Allow the gravy to simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes.  Add salt to taste.
Notes
  • If you don't have the full amount of turkey drippings, you can add chicken stock to reach the amount.
  • If you like your gravy thicker, add 1 or 2 more tablespoons of flour.

As for Dessert….
I don’t like traditional pumpkin pie, so I usually make a creamy 2-layer pumpkin pie with a graham cracker crust that I love.  However, this year I have decided to branch out and I’m making a recipe that I found on Pinterest.  You’ve heard of better than Sex cake, right?  Well this is the pumpkin version.  Find the recipe here:  http://www.somethingswanky.com/pumpkin-better-than-cake/#sthash.n9Ayxf3D.dpbs
Photo from www.somethingswanky.com


Pairings:  I prefer to have Sparkling Wine with my Thanksgiving meal.  I feel like the bubbles make everything feel lighter.  This year I am serving a light rosé and a Prosecco. 

I’d love to hear what is going to be on your Thanksgiving menu and whether you prefer to stick to the basics or try to mix it up a bit?   Talk to me. 

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving.   Life offers a lot to be thankful for and it is important to focus on that once in a while.  

Cheers!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

So many recipes, so little storage......



Admittedly, I am a recipe addict.  Seriously, I cannot get enough of recipes.  I rip them out of all my magazines, I collect cookbooks, I print them out off of emails and websites, etc…


Well, I am running out of storage space and I cannot buy another filing cabinet.  It can be really hard to organize all these recipes and not forget about them.   There has been more than one occasion when I’ve been trying to find that “one” recipe with no luck.   

Well, Pinterest is the answer to this recipe chaos.  It is an online filing cabinet for my recipes.  You can organize them by category and have easy access to them.  Basically you just “pin” a link to the recipe to your “boards.”   Most of the recipes I’ve ripped out of magazines can be found online, so I am now beginning the process of going through my files of recipes and moving them online.   It is very freeing.     

I also love that you can share with your friends, and anyone else for that matter.  Pinterest is not only limited to food; there are many categories, such as decorating, crafts, fashion, etc…

Seriously, check it out.   You can follow my pins under Penelope Austin.

What is Pinterest? Pinterest is a Virtual Pinboard.

Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.
Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.

Cheers!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Roast Pumpkin with Cheese "Fondue"




This is your Thanksgiving appetizer.    
You’re welcome.  Believe me, you will be thanking me later.  This baby hits all of your senses; it looks gorgeous, it tastes sublime, and it even sounds good when you take out the sizzling pumpkin full of cheesy goodness.

My girlfriend made this last night for a Fondue and Vintage Champagne themed party.  It was seriously amazing.  It was rich, cheesy, gooey, and delicious.  If you could hear the photo, you would hear the hot bubbly cheese calling your name.   

To serve, you just scoop a little pumpkin from the side along with some cheese and bread and it is the perfect combination.  Seriously.  We scooped it into bowls and ate it with a fork, and we also put it on crackers.    

 
Yield: Makes 8 (main course) servings; Active time: 25 minutes; Total time: 2 hours

As the pumpkin roasts, its skin becomes gorgeously burnished, while inside, slices of baguette, Gruyère, and Emmental coalesce into a rich, velvety concoction that is utterly fabulous served with a scoop of tender pumpkin flesh.

Ingredients
  • 1 (15-inch) piece of baguette, cut into 1/2-inch slices (7 ounces total)
  • 1 (7-pound) orange pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 2 1/2 cups coarsely grated Gruyère (6 ounces)
  • 2 1/2 cups coarsely grated Emmental (6 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in lower third.
  2. Toast baguette slices in 1 layer on a baking sheet in oven until tops are crisp (bread will still be pale), about 7 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.
  3. Remove top of pumpkin by cutting a circle (3 inches in diameter) around stem with a small sharp knife. Scrape out seeds and any loose fibers from inside pumpkin with a spoon (including top of pumpkin; reserve seeds for another use if desired). Season inside of pumpkin with 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  4. Whisk together cream, broth, nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Mix together cheeses in another bowl.
  5. Put a layer of toasted bread in bottom of pumpkin, then cover with about 1 cup cheese and about 1/2 cup cream mixture. Continue layering bread, cheese, and cream mixture until pumpkin is filled to about 1/2 inch from top, using all of cream mixture. (You may have some bread and cheese left over.)
  6. Cover pumpkin with top and put in an oiled small roasting pan. Brush outside of pumpkin all over with olive oil. Bake until pumpkin is tender and filling is puffed, about 1 ½ hours. 

This recipe is from Gourmet Magazine November 2008.

Pairing: The vintage Champagne was delicious; we especially liked the 2002 vintage.  

Cheers!


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Asian-style Meatloaf




Original Recipe

1 (3.5 oz.) package of plain rice crackers (gluten free)
1 lb. ground turkey breast
½ lb. lean ground pork
1 cup chopped green onions
½ cup hoisin sauce divided
½ cup chopped red pepper
½ cup drained and chopped water chestnuts
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
½ tsp. salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 large egg whites
Cooking Spray



This is the most used appliance in my kitchen.  I use it all of the time.  For this recipe, I used it to mince the garlic and the carrots.

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Place rice crackers in food processor; process until finely chopped.
  3. Combine ¼ cup hoisin and everything else in a large bow (except for the cooking spray).  For a little spice add some Sriracha or cayenne pepper to the mixture. 
  4. Shape mixture into 6 (5 x 2 ½  inch) loaves on a broiler pan cated with cooking spray; spread hoison over the top of each meatloaf. 
  5. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until the thermometer registers 165.  You can also use a muffin pan.  Just spray the cooking spray in the muffin tins and add the meat.   The cooking time will be quicker, probably 30 minutes.   
  6. These also make great meatballs.

My Recipe Tweaks
  • I used sesame rice crackers instead of plain and I did not use the entire package, I used 2/3 of it.
  • I used the meatloaf mix (ground hamburger, pork, and veal) instead of turkey because I think turkey can get dry. 
  • I added Sriracha and diced jalapeno for spice.
  • I did not use the red pepper – you can add any vegetables you want.  I added ½ cup chopped carrots.  I love adding carrots to different things, you can chop them really fine in the food processor and they add a healthy sweetness to various dishes.   Carrots are really good in lasagna.  
  • I also added cilantro.
  • I used one whole egg instead of 2 egg whites.   Make sure to stir/mix up the eggs before you add it to the mix.  I basically did this on accident.  I just cracked the whole egg without reading the recipe (shame on me) and I only had one egg because my first one I put on the counter and left it unattended and it proceed to roll and splat on the floor.   

Sides
I made wasabi mashed potatoes to go with the Asian meatloaf.  I boiled red potatoes, then mashed them and added a little bit of butter, salt and pepper and then mixed wasabi powder with milk and added that to the potatoes.   Be careful with how much wasabi powder you use as you don’t want it to overwhelm the flavor.  Start with 1 tsp. to 1/3 cup of milk.   


SIDEBAR: I got this recipe from my sister, Chelley.  When she got married, my other sister, Casey, and I were in her wedding and she made us both a personalized recipe book as a gift.   It is full of photos of the three of us and tons of recipes.  It is a great personalized gift idea - and the holidays are coming up!




I really liked this recipe.  I like the vegetables and the flavor of it.  Do you have any unique meatloaf recipes to share?

Cheers!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Soufflé Tips and a Savory, Herb Gruyere Soufflé Recipe



Soufflé is a French word meaning to blow, to breathe, or puffed up.  

The word soufflé sounds so sophisticated that it used to intimidate me as I pictured my soufflé deflating like a helium balloon the minute I took it out of the oven.  Well, my fear is gone.  After attempting the chocolate soufflé with Casey in August and taking a recent soufflé class at KitchenWindow, soufflés will become a bigger part of my life. 

Herb Gruyere Soufflé

Yield: 8 Servings

Ingredients

  • Melted unsalted butter
  • 5 oz. freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 oz. flour
  • 3 oz. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 7 large eggs, separated
  • 2 oz. grated gruyere cheese
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh chives


Directions

  1. Brush melted butter over the insides of 8 soufflé molds 3 ¼ in diameter that hold 5 oz. each.  
  2. Blend the flour and butter to a smooth paste.
  3. Heat the milk in a saucepan to the scalding point.
  4. Whisk in the flour mixture and cook to a thick paste (roux), stirring constantly.
  5. Remove from the heat.  Mix in the egg yolks one at a time, continuing to stir constantly (slow and gentle) so they do not cook (temper).   
  6. Add the remaining parmesan cheese, gruyere cheese, cayenne, nutmeg, salt, and chives.
  7. Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks (be careful not to whip them dry).   Gently fold the egg whites into the batter one-third at a time.
  8. Fill the prepared soufflés molds three-quarters full.
  9. Bake immediately at 400°F for approximately 15 minutes or until puffed, with a nice golden color.  Serve immediately.

Verdict
I really liked this savory soufflé.  I thought it would be a great thing for brunch or a light lunch served with a side salad.  

Here are some Soufflé Tips & Techniques so that you don’t have to be intimidated either!  

  • Read the recipe, and then read it again to make sure you are clear on the instructions and have all of the ingredients.  (Do this with all recipes!)  Once you start to make a soufflé, it doesn’t like to be interrupted while you find a missing ingredient.
  • Collect all of the equipment you need.  (Again, do this with all recipes.)
  • Measure and weigh all of the ingredients before you start cooking.  Yes, they said weigh.   I must admit that I don’t have a scale in my kitchen but I keep hearing that for baking especially that ingredients should be weighed.  Personally, I get along fine with my measuring cups and have yet to put a scale on my wish list.   
  • Make sure all the equipment you are using is clean and grease free.  Greasy spoons, bowls, or whisks stop egg whites from rising sufficiently which can make the soufflé collapse.   
  • Ensure all you ingredients, especially the eggs, are at room temperature.
  • Prepare and grease soufflé dishes before you start making the soufflé mixture.
  • To prevent sticking, brush the dishes with room-temperature butter using upward strokes.  This helps the soufflé rise.
  • Use breadcrumbs or panko (caster sugar for sweet soufflés) to coat the base and side.   This helps the soufflé grip the side and rise evenly. 
  • Fill the ramekins 3/4 full.
  • Run your thumb around the rim of each soufflé, slightly inside the mixture.  This helps it rise evenly and gives it a “top hat” appearance.  
  • Preheat the oven, so once the soufflé is ready it can do directly into the oven.
  • It is not an old wives tale that opening the door while a soufflé is cooking can cause it to sink.   Be aware that a sudden rise or fall in temperature during cooking will have that affect.   Try not to do it; use the oven light to peek if you must.   
  • With soufflés you want a little wiggle.   Kind of like Jell-O, movement is good.  
  • Whether sweet or savory, soufflés should always be made in round forms with straight sides to help them rise.
  • Although a savory soufflé will never rise as high as a properly prepared dessert soufflé, it must still be served hot straight from the oven.   This is an important point because soufflés are not good cold.  
For the chocolate soufflé recipe I posted in August, go here: http://www.penelopethefoodie.com/2012/08/cooking-with-casey-august.html


If you have a good soufflé recipe, please share it with me.  And if you have any soufflé stories or tips, please share those too!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Cheese Course

How gorgeous is this photo?


I just snapped it from my November Food & Wind magazine. It makes me want to run out and have a picnic!  And try some new cheese.  That gooey one next to the figs is calling my name.    What is your favorite cheese?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Seasoned Pretzels




I was recently invited to an Octoberfest party and I wasn’t sure what to bring.  My German appetizer list is short; pretty much the only thing on it is Reuben dip.  Then I remembered these seasoned pretzels that my cousin made a couple of years ago and thought it would be the perfect accompaniment with beer.  I was right.

Ranch Seasoned Pretzels
  • 3/4 cup canola oil (I actually used half canola oil and half olive oil)
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon pepper
  • 2 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional – I like spice and put cayenne in everything)
  • 2 packets of dry ranch dressing mix
  • 3 bags of hard sourdough pretzels – broken into small pieces – I used my method of stepping and standing on the bag and then had to break some of them down further by hand.  


  1. Combine oil, lemon pepper, cayenne, and dry ranch mix.  
  2. Pour over pretzels and throw in oven at 350 for 10 minutes turning them at the 5 minute mark.
Broken up Pretzels
Pretzels Mixed with the Oil and Seasoning
Pretzels fresh out the oven, with the seasoning "baked" on
These pretzels are easy and tasty.  They are salty, so make sure you have an ice-cold beer nearby.    

This is the perfect fall party snack.  

The gift that keeps on giving......
This recipe makes a lot.  After seeing that bag sitting there, I decided to ground up some of the pretzels and use it as a breading for fish.  It was excellent; with lots of great flavor.  I think it'd be great with crab cakes too.  You can grind the pretzels up to use as breadcrumbs easily.  You can also use the pretzels as croutons.  The options are endless! 


Cheers!

PS – I also brought a mix of candy corn and peanuts to the party.   I thought everyone had heard of this combo but apparently not.   Just mix 2-3 bags of candy corn with a jar of roasted peanuts.   The sweet and salty mix is perfection.   Seriously.   Another perfect October snack – looks like you have the makings for a party.   Don’t forget to invite me.