Sunday, October 25, 2015

ChezCindy: "Boozy" Apple Cake

Boozy Apple Cake

Leave it to the French to create this beautiful boozy apple cake.  All the goodness of apples, butter, sugar and brandy combined for a delightful cake.  The recipe is fashioned after one in Dorie Greenspan's cookbook, 'around my french table'.  A wonderful, grand book full of recipes you'll want to bookmark and make often. 

The apple cake is super easy with minimal ingredients; slightly sweet with a bit of edge from the apple brandy.  The apples are not shy in this cake as the recipe uses 4 large apples cut into 1-inch pieces.  It is delicious served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or at room temperature as a breakfast treat.

Dorie's recommendation for storage is to leave uncovered as the cake is very moist.  Simply place a piece of plastic wrap or waxed paper to cover the cut edges.  If desired, you can substitute apple cider in place of the apple brandy.  

Apple Cake

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of kosher salt
4 large apples 
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons apple brandy
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in the center of the oven.  Generously butter an 8-inch springform pan.  Line a baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper to catch any drips and place the prepared springform pan on it.  Set aside.  Melt the butter; allow to cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and pinch of salt.  
Peel the apples.  Cut into quarters, removing the core and stem; cut into 1-inch pieces.  

Working with a stand mixer, place the eggs into the work bowl, whisk until foamy.  Add in the sugar, continue to whisk until blended.  Mix in the brandy and vanilla until combined.  Whisk in half of the flour mixture and half of the melted butter.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add in the remaining flour and butter.  Use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and bottom to assure the flour and butter are fully incorporated.  Add in the apples, stirring the batter until each apple is fully coated with the batter.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing it out to evenly fill in the spaces.  

Bake the cake in the preheated oven for 50-55 minutes until the top of the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Allow to rest on a cooling rack for 5 minutes. Carefully run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake to loosen the cake from the pan. Open the springform; continue to cool to room temperature. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

ChezCindy: The BEST Salmon BLT

Copper River Salmon season has brought reason to pull out all of my favorite salmon recipes.  This one is a keeper found in a food magazine years ago.  Simply the best salmon BLT sandwich we have ever had.  The secret is in the proper layering of the ingredients.  I know that statement sounds like a sandwich geek, but I really believe it makes a difference on all sandwiches.  There are quite a few steps to this sandwich, but the end result is worth it. 

The original recipe called for raw red onions.  I changed that to caramelized onions for a sweeter layer with less onion bite.  These can be made ahead of time and stored in the freezer.  I like to make a large batch to have on hand as they are great for use in many other recipes - burgers, quiches, and chicken sandwiches are a few ideas.  You can also make the lemon-basil mayonnaise ahead of time. Choose a thin store-bought sandwich bread, such as Pepperidge Farm.  I use Sockeye salmon for the sandwich as it has a more even thickness.  Ask your fish monger for the thinner pieces. 

Salmon BLT
Lemon-Basil Mayonnaise
2 4-ounce skinless salmon fillets
6 bacon slices
caramelized onions
tomato slices
lettuce leaves
4 slices thin white sandwich bread

(Makes 2 sandwiches)

Make the Lemon-Basil Mayonnaise:
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
3 tablespoons basil, thinly sliced into ribbons
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Combine all ingredients into a small bowl.  Stir to combine.  Chill until ready to use.

Make the Caramelized Onions:
2 large sweet onions
1 large red onion
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons white wine

Thinly slice the onions to yield about 4 cups. Working with a large skillet over medium heat, add the butter and oil.  Once the butter is melted, swirl to combine.  Add the sliced onions, salt and pepper.  Stir to coat the onion with the butter-oil.  After about 10 minutes on medium heat, turn the heat down to low.  Cook on low for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Turn off the heat.  Deglaze the pan by carefully adding in the white wine.  Stir to combine, bringing up any bits of browning from the bottom of the pan.  Turn the heat back on to low.  Continue cooking until the onions are golden brown and have collapsed into soft strands.

Pan-Sear the salmon
 Rinse the salmon and pat dry with paper towels.  Place a large non-stick pan over high heat.  Allow the pan to become very hot.  Add 1 tablespoon of oil to thinly coat the bottom of the pan.  Drizzle 1 tablespoon of oil over the salmon; sprinkle salt and pepper over the salmon.  Carefully place the salmon flesh side down into the hot pan.  Don't move or flip the salmon for about 5 minutes.  You will see the salmon changing color from the pan side moving up.  You want a dark colored sear on this side of the salmon.  When this side is fully seared, a spatula should easily slip under the salmon so that it can now be flipped onto the skin side.  Cook this side for about 2 minutes.  Remove from the pan. 

Cook the bacon slices until crisp.  Set aside.
Toast the bread.  Set aside.

Putting it all together!
For each sandwich:  Spread the lemon-basil mayo onto one slice of toast.  Top with 3 slices of crisp bacon, 2 slices of tomato.  Top the tomatoes with 1 tablespoon of caramelized onions.  Place the salmon on top of the onions; add lettuce leaves.  Cover with the remaining slice of toast.  Cut in half and serve with plenty of napkins! 

Wine Pairing:  Rose Sparkling Wine

ChezCindy: Old Fashioned Carrot Salad

Old Fashioned Carrot Salad
Traditionally, when making carrot salad the carrots are grated.  In this recipe I recommend an updated cut for the carrots.  Grating the carrots can create a mushy salad.  Shaving the carrots into ribbons yields a more palette pleasing texture, as the ribbons hold their shape better than the small grating.  The dressing is mayo, with lemon to brighten the flavor, just a hint of onion from thinly sliced green onion tops, and plump golden raisins.  That's it.  Pretty simple, but oh so delicious.  Ready for your next picnic or lunch box snack.
Old Fashioned Carrot Salad
2 lbs. carrots
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 scant teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon thinly sliced green onion tops
1/2 teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste
Begin by cleaning the carrots, removing a thin outside layer with the vegetable peeler.  Lay the carrot on the cutting board.  Place the peeler at the top of the carrot, pulling it across the length of the carrot to make a long thin ribbon.  Pull several ribbons across this side, then rotate the carrot to make ribbons from 4 "sides" of the carrot.  Your carrot will end up looking like a long funny square with a knob at the top. 
Make the dressing in a large bowl by placing the mayonnaise, lemon zest and juice, sugar, salt and pepper in the bowl.  Whisk to combine.  Add in the carrot ribbons; toss together with the dressing to combine.  Sprinkle in the green onions and raisins.  Stir to combine.  Chill until ready to serve. 

Sunday, May 31, 2015

ChezCindy: Seared Salmon Hash for Brunch

One of the great benefits of learning how to cook is taking concepts from recipes already mastered and combining them to create a new recipe.  This brunch hash dish is the combination of recipes I have shared in earlier posts for my Copper River Salmon seared salmon with compound butter and fresh sliced tomatoes.  Also a post titled Not Your Mama's Hash Browns.  The mustard parsley butter adds a surprising tang to the runny egg yolk reminding you of the flavor combination found in deviled eggs.  And don't forget the Chez Cindy mimosa - mostly champagne and just enough orange juice to give it color. 

Follow the steps below to make the seared salmon hash browns.  Adding the egg turns this dish into brunch.  However, this can also be served as dinner without the egg, adding a vegetable or salad on the side.  Enjoy!

  • Make the compound butter.  Place in the refrigerator to chill. 
Mustard-Parsley-Shallot Butter 
1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper

Combine all ingredients into a small bowl.  Stir to combine.  Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap.  Spoon the butter onto the plastic wrap.  Shape the butter into a log.  Roll up in the plastic wrap.  Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.  Store the remaining butter in the fridge for 3-5 days or 1 month in the freezer

  • Make the hash browns.  Keep warm. 
Breakfast Hash Brown Potatoes
3-4 medium potatoes - combination of Yukon Gold & Sweet
2 tablespoons butter
1-2 tablespoons oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup fresh cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
 fresh thyme, parsley and chives
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

Clean the potatoes under running water to remove any dirt.  Cut into 1/2-inch chunks, leaving the skin on.  Working with a large skillet, add the butter and oil, swirling to combine over medium high heat.  Add the potatoes so that they are in a single layer such that each piece has a flat side exposed to the bottom of the pan.  This will allow the potatoes to pick up good browned color.  Stir the potatoes to rotate the sides to evenly brown on all sides.  Remove the potatoes to a separate plate.

Add the chopped onions to the same pan, adding more oil if the pan has become too dry.  Stir, cooking until golden brown.  Add the halved cherry tomatoes; cook for about 5 minutes until the tomatoes have also picked up some brown color.  Add the already cooked potatoes.  Stir to combine.  Sprinkle with the thyme, parsley and chives.  Season with kosher salt and pepper.  Stir to distribute the seasonings.

  • Prepare the salmon. 
Pan-Seared Salmon 
Fresh Salmon - skin on, cut into portion size
Canola Oil
Kosher Salt
Cracked Black Pepper

Place a large non-stick pan over high heat.  Allow the pan to become very hot.  Add 1 tablespoon of oil to thinly coat the bottom of the pan.  Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the salmon, drizzle a small amount of oil over the salmon.  Carefully place the salmon flesh side down into the hot pan.  Don't move or flip the salmon for about 5 minutes, less if the salmon is thin.  You will see the salmon changing color from the pan side moving up.  You want a dark colored sear on this side of the salmon.  When this side is fully seared, a spatula should easily slip under the salmon so that it can now be flipped onto the skin side.  Cook this side for about 3 minutes.  Turn off the heat.  Flip the salmon over.  Using tongs, remove the skin by pulling back at one corner, and pulling across the full piece of salmon.  It should remove easily.  Discard the skin.  Flip the salmon over so that the flesh side is now up.  Allow to rest in the pan for 2 minutes.  Remove from the pan. 

  • Prepare eggs as desired. 

Bringing it all together

Place a portion of hash browns onto your serving plate.  Top with seared salmon.  Add a dollop of mustard parsley butter to the top of the salmon.  Place a cooked egg directly onto the salmon, allowing the butter to melt over the salmon and hash browns.

Friday, February 6, 2015

ChezCindy: Roasted Vegetable Frittata

Roasted Vegetable Frittata
A frittata is basically an oven baked omelet coming from Italian origins.  Frittata's are wonderful for a weekend brunch or an easy weeknight supper.  I really don't use a recipe any more for my frittatas.  I am simply using up any vegetables I have remaining from another dinner, adding in cheese and sometimes a bit of meat - also leftovers.  But your friends and family would never guess this delicious satisfying meal is a clever resourceful use for leftovers.
Pictured here is a frittata with roasted cauliflower and roasted cherry tomatoes with feta cheese, seasoned with 'herbs de Provence'.  If you are not familiar with herbs de Provence, this is a delightful mix of Mediterranean dried herbs, typically rosemary, fennel, thyme, lavender, sage and more.  A great addition to any egg dish, even sunny-side-up eggs; sprinkled on oven roasted potatoes or hash browns; a natural paring with tomato dishes; and great with meats such as lamb or beef stews. 
The beauty of a frittata is that you are free to be as creative as you desire, once you follow a basic process.  Working with a 8 - 12 inch skillet, use beaten eggs, adding in any combination of cheese, vegetables, and/or meat.  Depending on the size skillet, simply increase the amount of eggs for your pan and the amount of items added to the eggs, also adjusting the amount of cooking time.

Other combinations to consider using are sautéed red onions, cooked broccoli and cheddar cheese; sliced potatoes, roasted fennel, crumbled sausage and provolone cheese; chopped red and yellow peppers, chorizo, cilantro and spicy jack cheese.  Always use meat and vegetables that are already cooked.  Raw meat and vegetables would not cook properly and fully in this short cooking time.  Making this the perfect use for leftovers and quick meals. 
The recipe below is for an 9-inch skillet.

Roasted Vegetable Frittata
2 cups of beaten eggs - use any combination of whole eggs or egg whites
1 cup of roasted cauliflower, chopped
1/2 cup roasted cherry tomatoes
2 - ounces feta cheese, broken into small pieces
2 - tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese
herbs de Provence
kosher salt
cracked black pepper
oil for greasing the skillet

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Crack the whole eggs or egg whites into a large measuring cup to measure out 2 cups.  I often use egg whites from a carton for ease and convenience and 2 -3 whole eggs.  Whisk to break up the eggs to form a pourable solution.  Grease the skillet generously on the sides and bottom.  Add the chopped cauliflower, tomatoes to the pan.  Evenly spread the cheeses over the vegetables.  Pour the eggs over the cheese and vegetables.  Season with herbs, salt and pepper.  Place the skillet in the preheated oven.  Bake for approximately 20 - 25 minutes, until golden brown and eggs are firm.  Remove from the oven; cool slightly.  Serve hot or room temperature. 
Notice the oven-sleeve placed over the handle in the pictures.  Always place a oven pad or sleeve over the handle as a protection from grabbing the hot handle.  I have burned my hand so many times in forgetting that the pan has just come from a hot oven.  It is such a natural instinct to grab a pan handle.   

Sunday, January 4, 2015

ChezCindy: Slow Roasted Citrus Salmon

As we prepare for the cold, gray days of winter, this salmon meal brings surprising brightness, both in color and taste.  Use a good quality wild salmon, poaching it in olive oil at a low temperature yields moist tender fillets.  Be sure to slice the citrus, fennel and jalapeno as thinly as possible for best results.  I like using a blood orange for great contrast of color and sweetness, against the sour of the lemon and the spicy heat of the jalapeno. 

Slow Roasted Citrus Salmon

1 1/2 pound skinless salmon filet, center cut
1 medium fennel bulb
1 blood or navel orange
1 lemon
1 jalapeno pepper
3/4 cup olive oil
kosher salt
coarsely ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.  Slice the fennel, orange, lemon and jalapeno into thin slices.  Place the slices into a shallow baking dish, large enough to hold the salmon, season lightly with salt and pepper.  Cut the salmon into portion size pieces, season with salt and pepper, place on top of the fennel-citrus mixture.  Pour the olive oil over the entire contents. 

Place the baking dish into the preheated oven, cooking the salmon until heated through to medium, roughly 40 minutes.  Garnish with fennel fronds if desired.