Monday, April 26, 2010

Orange Blueberry Muffins

I have roughly 2 weeks left to the semester and while all I want to do is play guitar, cook, and share recipes, what I really have to do is bust out some results for work and spend all my free time studying.

These were fantastic, so I had to share them.  They are the perfect balance of sweet and citrus.  I intend on making them as lemon-blueberry next time.  This is a large batch and makes either 15 regular muffins or 8 "Texas" muffins according to the person whom I stole the recipe from.  I'm not sure if that is an actual type of muffin or if it's just a play on everything being bigger in Texas.

I especially loved them because if you were to say cut out all processed foods as torture a lifestyle change your availablility of sweets without guilt would drop tremendously, and these felt like having dessert for breakfast.  Another bonus is they lasted for 3 days at room temperature.  They probably could have lasted 4 or 5 but honestly there weren't any left to find out.

Orange Blueberry Muffins
Adapted (only because I messed up) from Key Ingredient Recipes


1 cup milk
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
½ cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
3 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
Zest of 1 orange
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries tossed in a bit of flour

Orange Glaze
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice ( added all my juice to the muffin batter by accident so I used lemon juice here)
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange zest (and lemon zest here… must learn to follow directions)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease muffin tins (makes about 15 muffins). Whisk together the milk, ½ cup of the orange juice, sour cream, eggs, and butter in a medium mixing bowl.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.  Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and stir just until the flour is incorporated. Gently fold the orange zest into the batter, then gently fold the blueberries into the batter.

Spoon the batter into the muffin pan, filling each up just ot the top. Bake the muffins for about 25 minutes, until they are golden brown around the edges and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool the muffins in the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack and glaze.

To make the glaze: combine all three ingredients in a medium bowl. Take each muffin and dip it upside down into the glaze. Twist the muffin a little as you pull it out. Set it on a cooling rack. Repeat with remaining muffins. Serve warm or cool. Keeps for about 3 days, but I doubt they will last that long.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Grilled-Chicken Tacos

It's about that time again... the end of a class.  Busy, busy, busy.  However in the craziness this time we add the extra special fun of preparing ALL food pretty much from scratch.  After careful consideration and research and a little inspiration from Jaime Oliver's Food Revolution I have cleansed our house of all most processed foods.  The foods that are processed and remain are chemical free, not as easy as it may sound.

However (there's always a however isn't there?)... I am thrilled to have found this little gem in this month's Food and Wine!  These took ZERO talent, practically no time, and were the best tacos that have ever come out of our kitchen!  Seriously you must put these on your menu this week.  You will not be disappointed.

Fresh food just looks better doesn't it?

Grilled-Chicken Tacos

Adapted from Food and Wine (Leo and Oliver Kremer with Miguel Franco)


3 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
2 pounds, skinless, boneless chicken thighs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
1 teaspoon dried parsley (I used fresh but it may have fallen off during cooking)
12 corn tortillas, warmed (we had flour so they weren't gluten-free but easily remedied)

Shredded Monterey Jack cheese, jarred salsa verde and chopped avocado, tomato, onion, and cilantro for serving


In a blender, puree the tomatoes with the lime juice, water and salt. Transfer the puree to a large resealable plastic bag add the chicken thighs. Seal the bag, pressing out the air. Refrigerate the chicken for 6 hours or overnight.

Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade and pat them dry. Brush with the oil and sprinkle with the paprika and parsley. Grill over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until the chicken is lightly charred and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a work space and let stand for 5 minutes. Cut the chicken thighs into strips and serve with the warmed tortillas, cheese, salsa verde, avocados, onions, tomatoes and cilantro.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Coconut-Chocolate Creme Brulee

After all of the recipe stealing I do around here I am happy to post one of my own recipes.  This dessert was inspired by Smokejacks on Church Street in Burlington, Vermont.  A restuarant I am sorry to say no longer existed the last time I visited. 

We served this at the end of a wine tasting this weekend and it won over even those that aren't big fans of coconut and probably ate the dessert just to be polite.  The chocolate was the main flavor with a mild coconut finish.  If only all the dirty stemware had dissappeared as fast as the dessert my Sunday probably would have been more enjoyable.

Coconut-Chocolate Crème Brulee


For Custard
2 cups whipping cream
2/3 cup unsweetened canned coconut milk
1/3 cup sugar
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
2/3 cup flaked sweetened coconut
6 large egg yolks
1 whole egg

For Topping
12 teaspoons sugar (2 teaspoons per custard)


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place three crème Brulee dishes in each of two 13X9X2-inch baking dishes (or whatever you have that fit your dishes, I needed three random baking dishes). Mix cream, coconut milk, sugar and flaed coconut in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a simmer, add chocolate and mix well until combined. Cover pan, and reduce heat to a very low simmer (or turn off after 5 minutes) and let sit for 10 minutes to infuse flavors. Pour mixture through a strainer into a large measuring cup.

Making the custard (Crème):
Whisk egg yolks in a medium to large bowl with whole egg until well blended. Temper the egg yolks but whisking quickly and slowly pouring a small amount of the chocolate mixture into the eggs. Mix thoroughly before adding more of the chocolate mixture. After a few mixes you can dump the rest of the chocolate mixture into the large bowl. Whisk until mixed thoroughly. Return custard to measuring cup. Divide among dishes. The custards do not rise so you want them poured fairly full. Pour enough hot water into pans to come halfway up sides of dishes. I pour a little in then place the pan and dishes into the oven, and then pour the rest in to reach half way. Carefully transfer pans to oven and make about 30 minutes or until custards are almost set in the center when pans are gently shaken. Using a spatula carefully transfer custards in dishes to work surface or cooling rack. Cool 30 minutes. Chill at least 3 hours or up to 2 days.

Making the crunchy top (Brulee):
When ready to serve, sprinkle 2 teaspoons sugar evenly over each custard. Working with 1 custard at a time, hold Brulee torch so that the flame is 2 inches above the surface. Direct flame so that sug melts and brown, about 2 minutes. Keep the flame moving in a circular pattern to avoid burning the sugar in any one spot.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Spiced Clarified Butter (Ethiopian Food Part I)

A large number of people have never had Ethiopian food.  Well a large number of people I know anyway.  I think that has something to do with being from Vermont.  Last I knew there was no Ethiopian restaurants in Vermont.  In fact I have only seen them in very large cities like say Montreal or Boston.  This my friends is a travisty!  Ethiopian food is fabulous!  It is full of deep flavors, spices many do not use on a day to day basis but is not necessarily spicy.

When you go to an Ethiopian meal they bring out a large bowl with a thin layer of spongey bread.  They bring you a small plate with what looks like a tower of rolled warm face cloths, but really it's small rolls of the same bread, called Injera. 

I have no way to describe Injera to you as I am not a food critic, nor am I a writer (this you've probably already deduced yourself).  I can only say that it is thin, and pliable, and spongey, and elasticy (is that a word?) and sour and filled with tiny bubbles and like nothing I had ever eaten before.  I have yet to master the Injera but I am going to give it another shot in the week to come.  I am armed with Teff and Club Soda but that is for another post.

Next they bring out your various items of food and dump them and their amazing sauces into the giant bowl in little piles.  The diners rip up pieces of Injera and use it (and their hands no utensils for Ethiopian food) to pick up pieces of food.  The whole thing morsel of food and piece of bread is then popped in the mouth.  Yum! When all the food is gone you eat the layer of Injera that was under the food and is now soaked through with all the sauces and flavor... and now I'm drooling.

Ethiopian meals are leisurely and often can take hours while you sit around with friends and family having drinks, eating food, and maybe following the whole thing up some Ethiopian coffee (also amazing.... we need more Ethiopian restaurants out there, oh and remember to tip well, you're taking that table for a long time). 

I adore meals that are not just a flit through a restaurant to gorge yourself, I love it when they are an experience.  When the act of going to the restaurant and sharing the meal is your evening instead of the begining of it.

The draw back of all this wonderfulness is that again there are not a lot of Ethiopian restaurants and once you have it, you're going to want to have it again.  And let's just say eating the food isn't the only thing that takes a lot of time.  You're not getting those deep flavors from a 30 minute meal.  The staple ingredients such as Injera, Berbere (spice mixture or spice paste), and Niter Kibbeh (spiced clarified butter similar to Ghee), are not found in your local grocery store.  Okay maybe you could find them in your local store, but not mine, and I'm guess not yours either since they don't keep extended periods of time.  The good news is once you have your staple ingredients you can store them for a number of weeks, and can be used for multiple dishes and are very worth the effort if I may so.  So let's begin.  The first thing you're going to need is the spiced clarified butter.  This one is not hard to make at all.  Make yourself a cup of tea and grab a magazine, you'll be done in no time.

Niter Kebbeh (Spiced Butter)
adapted slightly from Marcus Samuelsson


1 pound unsalted butter
1/2 medium red onion, coarsely chopped
1 garlic glove, minced
One 3-inch piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin (I was out so I used seeds)
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
8 basil leaves (fresh)


Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirrng frequently.  As foam rises to the top, skim and discard it.  Add everything and stir.  Continue cooking for 15 minutes on low.  Strain through cheesecloth.  Keeps in the refrigerator for 3 weeks.

Makes 1 1/2 cups

Friday, April 9, 2010

Scalloped Potatoes with Creme Fraiche

Apologies.  Apparently I didn't take many photos while cooking on Easter.  However, I baked these in a rose colored pyrex dish so they didn't look so hot when they came out of the oven.  Brown on pink... not good colors for a potato.  And I almost broke a promise.  I promised I would post this by the end of the week and here it is Friday.  This was the side we served with the lamb, and while not quite the same type of flavors I thougth they went together just fine, and it was a great excuse to make home made scallop potatoes for the first time.  Why would anyone make them from a box when they are this easy?  However, I never knew they were this easy, but now I am passing on that little tid bit to you.... they are easy.  Make these tonight!

Scalloped Potatoes with Creme Fraiche
Recipe courtesy Food Network Magazine


2 cloves garlic, smashed
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 pounds waxy potatoes (such as Yukon gold or Yellow Finn), peeled (I didn't peel them because I was lazy)
3 cups half-and-half
1/2 cup creme fraiche
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup chopped chives


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Rub the garlic all over the inside of a 3-quart baking dish, then mince it. Grease the dish with about 1/2 tablespoon butter.

Slice the potatoes about 1/8 inch thick (a mandoline works well, however if a potato gets lodged in the blade, just keep slicing.  If you try to remove said potato this is where you stop, bandage your finger, throw out your potato, sterilize your mandoline and hand it over to your husband to finish). Combine in a large saucepan with the minced garlic, the remaining 2 1/2 tablespoons butter, the half-and-half, creme fraiche, flour, thyme, mace, 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the chives and transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish, shaking it to distribute the potatoes evenly. Bake, uncovered, until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 1 hour 5 minutes, occasionally spooning some of the liquid over the top. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Seven-Hour Braised Lamb

Now if my husband ever had time to breath this week would be a guest post because this is his dish.  He makes this once a year for Easter, and I wish I had been in the kitchen while he was cooking to take a decent photo because trust me this does not do it justice!  This lamb is that dish that generally takes people who do not like lamb and turns them into lamb fans. 

I can't wait to eat the leftovers. 

Excuse the horrible shot, but after all that cooking we were all starving and just wanted to get to it.  We served the lamb over a bed of mache, with homemade scallop potatoes (recipe to follow by next week promise) with creme fraiche and cauliflower au gratin.

Seven-hour Leg of Lamb
adapted from a GQ article a hundred years ago


2 bunches of thyme
3 tablespoons cumin seeds
2 to 4 garlic cloves, peeled
3 tablespoons kosher salt or 1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
3 to 4 anchovy filets
7 tablespoons olive oil
1 leg of lamb (8 to 12 pounds, bone in)
2 carrots
2 leeks
1 stalk celery
1 cup red wine (we add extra to make an au jus type “sauce” we poor it over the lamb and greens)
Parchment paper
Heavy-duty aluminum foil
Mortar and pestle (or food processor)


Strip the needles from the thyme stems. Warm the cumin in a preheated skillet for thirty seconds. In a mortar (we use a mini food processor), grind the thyme and cumin with the garlic, salt, peppercorns, and anchovy filets into a rough pomace. Add 4 tablespoons of the olive oil to moisten and bind the mixture into a paste that will stick to the lamb.

Coat the lamb with the paste.

Rough-cut the carrots, leeks, and celery. Sauté those in the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil for five minutes. Place them in a roasting pan. Pour in the wine.

Place the lab in the roasting pan. Stretch a piece of parchment paper across the top, crimping its edges along the rim. Then stretch a large swath of aluminum foil across, crimping its edges along the rim.

Place the lamb in the oven at the lowest possible consistent temperature it can achieve. If it has a low setting, use that. Otherwise shoot for 160 to 200 degrees (we use 175, and this year had a boneless leg of lamb which cooked a lot faster so watch it). Cook for 6-8 hours (seven is perfect for a bone in).

Serve sliced over a large chunk of sturdy bread, (toasted if you prefer) bitter greens, preferably from the endive family, and let the lamb juices slightly wilt the greens.