Smokehouse Breakfast Bake

I love weekends.  In fact, my heart longs for a weekend with such intensity these days that after 5:00 p.m. on a Wednesday, I cannot believe we’re only midway through the week.  Harrumph.  That vacation I was dreaming about cannot come soon enough, I tell you!  It saddens me that summer, in the traditional sense, is almost over.  School is back in session (or will be soon), there are only two summer hours Fridays left at work, and soon, the pool will close for another season.  Sigh.  The pool has been an oasis for us in the heat of the summer sun, me bobbing about in my little floating orb and Ben standing flat foot in the water that rises above my head.  It inspires such laziness, which I adore, but it helps me to relax so much that I swear the pool is one of the few things that have kept me from going crazy these past few weeks.  The pool and wine.  Why lie?

So here I am, mentally rushing through the work week so I can spend my weekend mornings stretched across the couch with a cup of coffee in hand, a pup across my lap, and a good possibility of coupon clipping action.  Stress and worry free, just the way I order up my weekends.  Now I’m not a breakfast person during the week, mostly due to the fact that I can’t get my butt out of bed in enough time.  However, I do love breakfast on the weekends.  Although we have some great places in town, I don’t always want to go out and cooking really detracts from the lazy morning I relish.  Internet to the rescue.

A few weeks ago we hosted a brunch, the star of which was our house bloody mary mix.  However, a close second were the scrambled eggs.  I’d stumbled on a make-ahead recipe that truly was phenomenal, resulting in light, fluffy, golden eggs.  Here’s the best part:  lightly scramble a mass of eggs a day or two in advance, drop them in a baking dish, place in refrigerator, and ignore.  Day of?  Preheat oven, place pan in oven, cook and stir a time or two and voila – perfect eggs!  I loved it!  Laziness + deliciousness (+ brunch cocktail) = perfect Saturday/Sunday morning!

Now, you know me and you know I cannot leave well enough alone.  I needed to play, to accessorize, to oomph it up a bit.  I needed sexy eggs.  Now I don’t know if these ended up being sexy, but how does pretty damn good work?  Having weekend guests has been a bit of a constant for us this summer now that we are a bit more settled in KC.  On a recent weekend, one of our guests was a self-proclaimed barbecue guru (let’s call him Pork Belly) and I wanted to mix a little of KC’s finest into our morning meal.  I once made a comment to him about brisket for breakfast to which he responded “great idea!” so I knew this was a bit of an easy target…

We’re lucky enough to live a few blocks from a great little local grocer with the best meat counter in town.  It doesn’t hurt that they have an industrial sized smoker out front chugging clouds of hickory smoke and drool-inducing smells of smoking meat from it’s smokestack.  Lucky for us, they sell competition-quality barbecue, including the desirable burnt ends, so I had the start of a very good breakfast.  A few other flourishes here and there and the baking dish was sent to the refrigerator for a snooze.  Sunday morning dawned with moderate temperatures so turning on the oven wasn’t quite the torturous task it has been of late.  We sipped our coffee as our breakfast baked along on its own and once the timer sounded, the bloody mary mix and vodka came out and we sat to a lazy breakfast.  My kind of morning!

Smokehouse Breakfast Bake

recipe:  jb’s pour house

 

1 large white onion, very thinly sliced

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 Tbsp. canola oil

1/4 c. barbecue sauce

1/2 lb. barbecue burnt ends, diced

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 dozen eggs

1/2 c. heavy cream

1 c. sour cream

4 green onions, thinly sliced

8 oz. smoked Gouda, shredded

1 1/2 c. diced tomatoes

 

Set a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add onions, butter, and canola oil.  Stir often until onions are caramelized, about 15-20 minutes.  Remove from heat, add barbecue sauce and mix well.  Set aside.  Crack eggs into a large mixing bowl.  Add cream and season with salt and pepper.  Beat well until eggs are fully blended.  Place a large skillet over medium heat.  Add 2 Tbsp. butter.  Once melted, add eggs.  Scramble until eggs are just set but very slightly runny still.  Remove from heat.

Add sour cream, reserved caramelized onions, burnt ends and green onions to eggs.  Mix well.  Place eggs in a large ovenproof baking dish sprayed lightly with cooking spray.  Cover with shredded smoked Gouda.  Place plastic wrap over the baking dish and refrigerate.  Can be made several days in advance.

Remove dish from refrigerator and preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake for about 45 minutes, stirring after a half hour.  Remove from oven, add diced tomatoes, and serve, preferably with a brunch cocktail.

 

Happy weekend!

– j

 

All content and photographs © 2010 – 2012 jb’s pour house

 

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 Welcome back.

I think one of the hardest things a foodie can endure in life is cancer.  Now I’m not saying cancer is a walk in the park for anyone because it just isn’t, plain and simple.  But in my experience, it was additionally difficult as I watched this disease whittle away at not only a hobby, but a defining facet of who I was.  Without me in the kitchen, Ben and I started to lose out on one of the things we enjoy most about our relationship – our mutual love of food and wine, shared nightly at our little dining table.  A severe deficit of energy, an extremely sensitive stomach and an esophagus ravaged from radiation treatments ensured not only weight loss (hey skinny jeans!) but an utter lack of interest and desire to do anything in the kitchen, including re-arranging the dishwasher per my OCD tendencies.

Thankfully, all of that is changing.  Treatment is over and with each day, I get stronger.  And more hungry.  And more ambitious.  So it should go without surprise that I am starting to have random ideas and crazy cravings again.  The first on my list?  Passion fruit curd.  As I hunted the local Asian market for 100% passion fruit juice, I mentioned my idea to Ben – I wanted to make a passion fruit curd and fill angel food cupcakes with the delightfully sweet and tangy concoction.  A random stranger stopped in her tracks, looked at me and asked if I own a bakery.  When I said that I didn’t and I just really liked food, she continued on her way.  Ben looked at me and said “Bet that made your day.”  I grinned.  It did.

Well, finding passion fruit proved harder than I anticipated.  That is, until I went to Foodie Mecca, aka Whole Foods.  I love this place.  It is so easy to be inspired while walking through the aisles of pristinely displayed produce, freshly baked breads, piles of gourmet cheeses, oh, I could wax on.  But, last I checked, I don’t have a job in the Whole Foods marketing department, so let’s move on.  I happily strolled through the store and made my way to produce.  Jackpot – passion fruit!  I was off to the races.

So I learned something very quickly this weekend.  I am r-u-s-t-y.  Five months of quality couch time had not sharpened my skills.  This was a great idea that I think still has merit, but I’ll be the first to admit that this recipe did not turn out as expected.  That might have a little something to do with me overcooking the curd and scrambling my eggs a little.  Or, being a little too shaky to separate eggs and starting over not once, but three times when making the angel food cake.  In the past, I probably wouldn’t have shared this recipe until I had it right.  But you know what?  Life’s too short.  And I have a lot of cooking to do.  Welcome back, friends!

– j

Passion Fruit Curd Filled Angel Food Cupcakes

recipe:  jb’s pour house

 

7 passion fruits

2 large eggs

1/3 c. sugar

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, diced into small pieces

1 3/4 c. sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1 c. cake flour

1 dozen egg whites, room temperature

1/3 c. warm water

1 tsp. orange extract

1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

 

For the passion fruit curd:  Cut passion fruits in half.  Using a spoon, scoop flesh from passion fruit and place in a saucepan.  Bring to a gentle simmer and remove from heat immediately upon simmering.  Stir constantly for five minutes.  Pour fruit puree and seeds into a fine mesh strainer positioned over a small mixing bowl.  Using a spatula, press juice and pulp through strainer until only seeds remain.  You may have to bruise a few seeds to get them to pop and release juice.  Be sure to scrape the bottom of your strainer before discarding seeds.  Set passion fruit puree aside.

Combine 2 eggs and 1/3 c. sugar in a saucepan or bowl.  Fill another saucepan with about 1 inch of water and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce heat to low.  Add passion fruit puree to sugar/egg mixture and place saucepan/bowl over the prepared double boiler.  Whisk constantly for 8 minutes or until mixture has thickened and coats the back of a spoon.  Remove from heat.  Place butter, one small piece at a time, in curd and whisk until incorporated.  Repeat with remaining butter.  Transfer curd to a container and place a section of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming.  Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

For the angel food cupcakes:  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine half of the sugar, the salt and cake flour in a mixing bowl.  Set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine egg whites and cream of tartar.  Using a whisk, incorporate cream of tartar into egg whites thoroughly.  Add water.  Place bowl on stand mixer and whisk on high until doubled in volume.  Slowly add in remaining half of sugar and whisk until medium peaks form.  Add orange extract and whisk for about 30 seconds more.  Remove from stand mixer.  Sprinkle in about 1/3 reserved flour mixture and fold into egg whites.  Repeat with remaining 2/3 flour.  Carefully spoon batter into mini muffin pans.  Bake for about 12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  If making regular sized cupcakes, bake for 17 minutes.  Cool completely.

Fill a plastic bag with curd.  Using a paring knife, puncture a small hole in the bottom of cupcakes.  Snip a corner off of the bag filled with curd and pipe curd into hole on bottom of the cupcakes.  Repeat until all are filled.

roasted asparagus with black pepper zabaglione

It’s Sunday again.  That’s come to mean a few things around here.  One – I’m going to make a big meal.  Two – We’re going to eat ridiculously early (at least compared to our normal 8:30 p.m. or later).  And three – by 6 p.m., I’m going to be alone in our apartment again, sitting with Brix and waiting for Friday once more.  I’ve sort of come to dislike 6 p.m.

Once upon a time, I interviewed for a Food Editor position with a culinary publication.  In my preparations for the line of questioning to come, I knew I was likely to be asked one of two things.  What would be your last meal? or What is your favorite food?  Either question is extremely tough for me to answer.  My last meal would be a smorgasbord of favorite things – fried green tomatoes doused with lemon juice and Frank’s Red Hot, asparagus with bearnaise, eggs benedict with hollandaise, shellfish of any kind drizzled with beurre blanc, roasted chicken with white wine gravy, creamy polenta with a garden fresh chunky tomato sauce, french fries and white truffle aioli, and before I knew it, I had the answer to my favorite food.  Sauce.

B laughed when I first told him that sauce was my favorite food.  But it’s true.  Anytime I make anything that has a sauce, a salsa, a reduction or the like, I almost always double the recipe because I know we’re certain to find that particular serving dish to be the first one emptied.  And I’m not the only guilty party.  B’s just as likely to pile on the sauce as I am, although he somehow finds a way to be more prudent with the ones loaded with eggs or butter.  That’s ok though, more for me!

So it came to be Sunday once again.  Having kicked off the blog almost a year ago with a recipe for a sweet zabaglione (zab-ah-yōn), I thought it was fitting to celebrate our almost-anniversary with a savory version of the same sauce.  The verdant thin stalks of spring asparagus make a perfect vehicle for a decadent sauce, but even more so when roasted until tender and the spears become crispy and nutty.  And while the pronunciation of zabaglione may trip you up a bit, the creation of it couldn’t be simpler.  Egg yolks and white wine are whipped to soft peaks then punched with freshly ground black pepper for a lively kick.  The addition of butter adds richness and creaminess to the lush sauce and a light dusting of grated parmesan rounds it out with a salty bite.  Asparagus, and Sundays, never had it so good.

roasted asparagus with black pepper zabaglione

adapted from mario batali

 

1 lb. fresh asparagus, spears trimmed and peeled if necessary

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

4 large egg yolks

1/4 c. dry white wine (such as chardonnay)

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter

4 tsp. parmesan

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place asparagus on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roll asparagus until thoroughly coated and roast for 15 minutes.

Prepare a double boiler and bring water to a slow simmer.  In top pan/bowl of double boiler, place egg yolks and white wine.  Whisk over gently simmering water for about 6 minutes or until doubled in size and soft peaks are forming.  Add butter, 1 Tbsp. at a time, until thoroughly incorporated and melted.  Add 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper and 1/2 tsp. kosher salt.  Fold in to incorporate.  Place asparagus on serving plates and top with about 2 1/2 Tbsp. black pepper zabaglione.  Sprinkle with about 1 tsp. parmesan and serve immediately.

Waiting for Friday once again,

– j

All content and photographs © 2010-2011 jb’s pour house

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adult milkshakes: peach & brandy

note:  this is the first of a three-part series chronicling a recent romp around Green County in southwestern Wisconsin, aka “Baja Wisconsin” to my family

The sign read: “Chin Drippin’ Peaches.”

How could you resist that?

Ah, Wisconsin.  The land of beer, cheese and sausage.  (Really, the license plates should be changed to reflect that statement.)  A rolling countryside dotted with century barns and spotted cows (more on that later) where wide spots in the road reveal treasure troves in the form of little general stores.  A place where hand painted signs advertise summer’s bounty, beckoning drivers to pull into small parking lots and explore. 

This year’s annual pilgrimage was no different.  Seeing the sign, we pulled into Brennan’s Market  and wasted no time grabbing a grocery cart.  Moments later, a flat of peaches sat in our cart, the golden blush fruit wafting its sweet summer perfume into the air.  No matter the direction you looked, piles of peaches, blueberries, plums, apricots, tomatoes, sweet corn, melons and more piled high against the rough, worn wooden tables.  Rows of jams, jellies, relishes and sauces stood at army-like attention against the wall.  And just beyond the doors, miles of cheese chilled comfortably in case after case, boasting of Wisconsin’s pride and joy with stickers announcing them as champions of world cheese competitions.

If Brennan’s is a specialty grocer, it certainly doesn’t put on airs.  Comfortable and casual, it is a fantastic noshing spot as you hop from one plastic deli container to the next, sampling the goodness hidden beneath each lid.  Of course, a sample usually leads to a jar, pint or package being placed into a cart, so sampler beware as you are likely to become a buyer in short order.  A sampler I was and in no time, the cart I pushed ahead of me was piled with cheeses, fruit, relishes, and wine.

We packed our purchases into the coolers waiting in the car (we came prepared) and headed off to our next adventure.  Despite the copious sampling, stomachs rumbled and we headed off in search of a more substantial meal.  In small town Wisconsin, town squares are thriving with boutiques, bars, restaurants, and shops.  Monroe, WI boasts Wisconsin’s oldest cheese shop in the form of Baumgartner’s, a rowdy tavern with communal tables, dollar bills on the ceiling, a small menu featuring cheese, cheese and more cheese, locally brewed beers and a mural spanning the length of the tavern with beer steins and wine bottles at war in the countryside. 

Highfalutin this is not.  A jovial hum permeates the bar with occasional spikes of laughter.  Orders were placed (are you brave enough for the Limburger sandwich?) and pints filled with local brews were set in front of thirsty patrons on the thick wooden tables.  Suddenly, the hum stops.  The fans slowed as the power fails and suddenly the bar is cloaked in darkness. 

“Free beer!!”

Someone shouts a wishful proclamation met with cheers, and the laughter and chatter resumes.  Soon, candles are placed on the long tables as waitstaff dance in the dark, holding flashlights high above their heads.  In the absence of the electricity needed to prepare our orders, our amusing and engaging waiter (name spelled J-o-h-n-n-y D-e-p-p, or so he says) filled the void by keeping the cold brews coming.  What else are you going to do in a Wisconsin bar with no power?!

The people of Wisconsin like their beer.  They also like their spirits.  It is a long, cold winter in this part of the world – might as well have something to keep you simultaneously amused and warm – and another wide spot in the road features a local specialty.  The Ding-A-Ling Supper Club (named for a bell, not anatomy) may be known for many things, but I have only known it as a stop for one thing:  a brandy Manhattan with pickled mushrooms.  This unusual concoction has been the litmus test for men marrying into my family.  If you are man enough to down one of these, mushrooms included, you have passed the test and are welcomed into the family.  Order a Tom Collins afterwards, however, and you’ll be mercilessly mocked for eternity.

Brandy Manhattans aren’t my cup of (spiked) tea, but the bottles of brandy glimmering in the afternoon sun got me thinking about the brandy peach pie I’d made the summer before and the flat of peaches waiting in the car.  Peach ice cream is a local specialty here come late summer/State Fair time, and I couldn’t resist the call of the adult milkshake.  The ice cream maker went into the freezer and peach juices dripped off of my cutting board onto the counter as I peeled and diced the golden orbs. 

Not wanting to waste a drop of the peaches, I slow simmered the milk and cream with the peach skins and pits to glean every last drop of flavor from the fruits.  Already sweet, I macerated the diced peaches with sugar to release even more flavorful juice which I pureed and poured into my waiting peach-infused custard.  The diced and macerated chunks of three peaches were reserved to add texture and additional peachy goodness to the ice cream as it churned around and around in the frozen cylinder.

Twenty-four hours later, the blender whirled in anticipation with the homemade peach ice cream and caramel colored brandy (or Cognac, as it turned out).  Into a glass it went and in no time, it was gone.  How am I doing?  Peachy keen.  And Grandma, I’ll save you one.

 

 

adult milkshakes:  peach & brandy

recipe:  jb’s pour house

7 ripe peaches (chin drippin preferred)

1 c. sugar, divided

1 ½ Tbsp. cornstarch

¼ tsp. salt

1 ¾ c. heavy cream

1 ¾ c. whole milk

4 large egg yolks, room temperature

¼ c. brandy

Peel and dice peaches, reserving skins and pits.  Place diced peaches in a medium mixing bowl and sprinkle with ¾ c. sugar.  Mix well and let sit for at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours, stirring occasionally.  Place peach skins and pits in a large sauce pan.  Add ¼ c. sugar, cornstarch, salt, heavy cream and milk to saucepan.  Bring to a boil (slowly) over medium heat, stirring often.  Do not raise heat as you want to slowly infuse the cream with the peach flavor and you do not want to scald the cream on the bottom of the pan. 

Place egg yolks in a small bowl.  Once cream mixture has come to a gentle boil, slowly add ½ c. of the cream mixture to the egg yolks, whisking constantly.  Slowly stream egg yolk mixture back into the cream, whisking constantly.  Cook for about 2 minutes or until the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon (170 degrees on a candy thermometer).  Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the custard into a medium mixing bowl, discard solids.  Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the custard to prevent forming a film and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours.

Using a slotted spoon, remove about 1 ½ c. peaches from the macerated mixture, set aside.  Place remaining peaches and juices in a blender and puree until smooth.  Add puree to custard and stir well to combine.  Using a potato masher, gently mash the reserved peaches.  Add to custard mixture. 

Prepare an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Pour custard into the ice cream maker (you may need to make two batches, as I did, depending on the size of your ice cream maker) and process until frozen.  Remove to a freezer safe container and repeat if needed.  Freeze at least 12 hours.

Place ¼ c. brandy into a blender.  Using a standard ice cream scoop, add 4-5 scoops of peach ice cream.  Blend carefully, just until ice cream begins to form a wall around the walls of blender and a hole forms in the middle.  Serve immediately.

Makes 2.

On Wisconsin!

– j

All content and photographs © 2010 jb’s pour house

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grand marnier crêpe cake

Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.  ~ The Wonder Years

My memories are recipes.  Nothing reminds me more of certain people or places in time than food.  A piece of chicken grilled in just the right way instantly transports me back to a pool filled with my cousins, splashing away as my grandparents grilled on the patio and our parents chatted and laughed.  Dad’s “Can’t Miss Ribs” suddenly remind me of a boisterous night with neighbor friends and a rousing chorus of “In Heaven There is No Beer” with five dancing, jumping little girls and laughing moms.  Cinnamon apples or warm homemade yeast rolls appear and I can hear my grandpa making Donald Duck noises at the opposite end of the holiday table.

A single bite is like a time machine, taking me back to a place or point in my life.  A taste simultaneously tugs at my heart and my mind, making me wistful, happy, nostalgic, or sad as I remember those that have come and gone or momentous occasions in my life.  Whenever I’m longing for comfort, I can open my recipe box and have those that I love at my kitchen table.

Crêpes will always remind me of our wedding.  We didn’t serve crêpes at our reception, there were none to be found on our brunch menu the following day, and we did not indulge in a single bite as we traversed the Napa wine country on our honeymoon.  But on the Thursday evening before we married, after a day of bustling about with last minute preparations, we dined al fresco at a quiet little French-inspired café in our college town.  The weather was perfect with blue skies and moderate temperatures.  A chilled rosé sat on the wrought iron table and plates of balsamic dressed greens, Croque Monsieur, and savory crêpes sat in front of each waiting diner.  The fast pace of the day melted into a leisurely evening as we lingered over our dinners, enjoying the conversation, the gentle breeze, and the anticipation of the excitement and activity the next few days would bring.  Enjoying the moment, we stayed on through dusk, sipping steamy cups of coffee and nibbling on crêpes beurre sucre and sweet crêpes filled with warm summer berries.  If perfection could be captured in a single dining experience, this came extremely close.

I closed my eyes and time had sped forward a few years (or so it had seemed).  I was enjoying a lazy Saturday morning, one so clear and calm that it reminded me of that peaceful patio dinner, and I stumbled across a recipe for a cake towering with layers of lacy, delicate crêpes and orange zest-flecked whipped cream.  In an instant, I knew I had to make it and I knew, without a doubt, that it would remind me somehow of that dinner. 

There are a few things you need to know about crêpe making.  First, tradition says you should let your batter rest for several hours, up to overnight, to allow the flour to absorb some of the moisture for a thicker batter.  This also allows the batter to relax and for the bubbles to dissipate.  The end result is a tender crêpe free of holes.  This recipe eschews tradition (ha HA!) and moves straight to the stove.  While I’m sure this batter would benefit from a little snooze, impatience wins out in the battle between perfection and consumption.  Sure, you may have a crêpe or two with a few holes, but those can easily be buried in the middle.  I always set aside my shining star – the perfectly golden crêpe with delicately lacey edges – and use that as the crowning jewel. 

Second, I will put money on the fact that you will throw out at least one crêpe out of the first five you make.  It is guaranteed.  Crêpe making can be a fickle business as your pan is too hot or too cold and you fiddle with the knob on your stove until you finally get it just right.  Goldilocks would be proud.  And hungry, when she saw this spectacular dessert set before her wide eyes. 

To me, this is dessert perfection.  I have it on good authority that this is an “anytime” cake.  Perfect following a lovely dinner, ooh-and-aah inspiring mid day, and decadent for breakfast when paired with a mimosa.  Just sayin’…

 

 

grand marnier crepe cake

recipe:  prepared exactly as instructed by Gourmet

 

6 large eggs

1 cup whole milk

3 cups chilled heavy cream, divided

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, divided

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup confectioners sugar, divided

2 teaspoons grated orange zest, divided

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon Grand Marnier

Blend eggs, milk, 1/2 cup cream, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla with flour, salt, 1/4 cup confectioners sugar, and 1 teaspoon zest in a blender until just smooth.

Brush a 10-inch nonstick skillet lightly with some of melted butter, then heat over medium-high heat until hot. Pour in a scant 1/4 cup batter, immediately tilting and rotating skillet to coat bottom. (If batter sets before skillet is coated, reduce heat slightly for next crêpe.) Cook until underside is golden and top is just set, 15 to 45 seconds. Loosen edge of crépe with an offset spatula (my personal preference – feel free to use a heat resistant rubber spatula), then flip crêpe over and cook 15 seconds more. Transfer to a plate. Continue making crêpes, brushing skillet with butter each time and stacking on plate.

Beat remaining 2 1/2 cups cream, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 3/4 cup confectioners sugar, 1 teaspoon zest, and Grand Marnier in a large deep bowl with an electric mixer until cream holds stiff peaks.

Center a crêpe on a serving plate and spread with 1/4 cup cream. Continue stacking crêpes and spreading with cream, ending with a crêpe. Chill at least 2 hours and up to 24 (although I have left this sit for as many as 72 hours – it usually doesn’t last much longer than that).

Here’s hoping this creates a memorable meal for you!

– j

All content and photographs © 2010 jb’s pour house

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key lime pound cake

“In my mind, I’m going to Carolina.  Can’t you see the sunshine?  Can’t you just feel the moonshine?”

This song has been on continuous repeat in my mind, playing over and over ever since it kicked off my youngest sister’s wedding reception on a stormy beach on Hilton Head Island in March.  It played over and over as I packed us up for a vacation back to Hilton Head – one of my favorite places – just a few weeks ago.  And it plays in my head still, beckoning me back to the sea pines, to the sandy beaches, and to the lazy harbors I’ve come to love in the more than 15 years since my first visit there.  Sadly, a return trip isn’t in the cards in the immediate future.  But if I do a little baking and close my eyes, you’ll find me going to Carolina in my mind.

There’s a hidden little gem on the island that’s known, at least amongst my family, for their pound cakes.  My newlywed sister called as we were vacationing to make a few requests:  a shrimp po’boy and a slice of key lime pound cake.  I wasn’t too keen on the idea of packing shrimp alongside my flip flops and sunscreen for the return home, so instead I set out to at least provide the key lime pound cake so we could have a little taste of the Palmetto State whenever wanderlust strikes.

There’s something magically “vacation-y” about the flavor of key lime for those of us in landlocked states.  The simultaneously tart, sweet and almost creamy flavor instantly refreshes and reminds us that we’re in a warmer, sunnier place.  The palm trees don’t hurt, either.  Key lime has been one of my favorite flavors for as long as I can remember.  Every time we’d go to visit my grandparents when they were living in Florida, I’d always have to stop for a slice of my favorite key lime pie.  Super tart and creamy with just a hint of frost from the super chilled refrigerator, it was the perfect way to combat the heat of the summer sun.  To me, key lime is as refreshing to my palate as a sudden jump into the pool at 4:00 on a hot and sticky afternoon.

I was intrigued by this key lime pound cake and set out to make a lighter, less dense version than the traditional pound cake.  Disclaimer:  I don’t bake much.  I don’t like to measure.  Therefore, as I willy-nilly added ingredients here and there, I wasn’t so sure of what the final product would look or taste like.  To be honest, taste was good.  It was pleasantly tangy, perfectly flavored with the key lime and sweetened condensed milk.  Looks were good too – at least for the first five minutes out of the oven.  My lightening attempts (whipping the egg whites into soft peaks before folding into the batter) resulted in a concave center to my lovely cake when I returned to see how the cooling process was progressing.  Mistake #2 was leaving the cake in the pan for a full 24 hours, covering with plastic wrap, and transporting across state lines so my little sister could have a taste.  My advice would be to follow the directions as written below.  Hopefully you’ll have better luck.

key lime pound cake

recipe:  adapted from James Beard’s Beard on Food, Florida Key West Inc., and Signe’s Heaven Bound Bakery & Cafe

2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan

1/2 tsp. baking powder

Salt

4 large eggs

3/4 c. plus 2 tsp. sugar

1 1/2 tsp. grated key lime zest plus 1 Tbsp.

1/2 c. sweetened condensed milk

1/2 c. key lime juice

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Butter and flour a loaf pan.  Sift 1 1/2 c. flour onto waxed paper.  Spoon the flour back into the sifter and add baking powder and a good pinch of salt.  Sift the flour mixture two more times.  Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs until light and lemon colored.  Add in 1 1/2 tsp. key lime zest, sweetened condensed milk, and key lime juice.  Mix until thoroughly combined. 

Gradually fold the sifted flour mixture into the butter-egg mixture.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Combine remaining key lime zest and 2 tsp. sugar.  Sprinkle over the top of the cake and bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick pierced in the center comes out clean.  Cool in the pan 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely on a baking sheet.  Serve in slices.

Here’s to Carolina dreamin’!

-j

PS – even as I loaded these pictures to Flickr, an ad for visiting Charleston appeared as my photos uploaded.  It must be fate!

All content and photographs © 2010 jb’s pour house

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fried green beans with meyer lemon aioli

I hated vegetables as a kid.  In fact, it was only recently, now that I’m nearly 30 years old, that I finally admitted to my parents what my secret strategies had been.  I’d chew and chew until whatever offending vile veggie had been pulverized to the point that I could discreetly place the cud inside my cheek and excuse myself to the bathroom to flush the fowl pulp to the sewers.  A dinner roll or baked potato also were excellent hiding places – eat out the center, place as many vegetables as possible into the cavity, pinch closed, sigh loudly, and declare “I’m full.”  Unluckily for my sisters and me, the family dog wasn’t too keen on the veggies either – she was much more interested in our steak – so she failed as yet another method of dodging out on my daily dose of vitamins.

Time changes many things – but a delicate batter fried golden brown and a rich homemade mayonnaise spiked with the herbal-honeyed juice of a meyer lemon don’t hurt, either.  I admit, I’m late to jump on the fried green bean bandwagon.  It never really tripped my trigger.  But then, I stumbled across this recipe, saw the meyer lemon, and figured it was about time I try this on for size.  What can I say?  I’m a sucker for aioli.

With this admission comes a huge mea culpa to my grandma.  For years she sang the praises of french fries with mayonnaise, to which I wrinkled up my nose (yes, I’m getting real wrinkles there now) and declared it disgusting.  Grandma, I’m sorry.  You were so, so right.  However, I must insist that it be real mayonnaise, not the store-bought brand.  A food processor, an egg, vinegar and some oil and ooh baby, we’re in business.  And when you throw meyer lemon zest and juice into the mix, those veggies aren’t looking so bad after all!

fried green beans with meyer lemon aioli

recipe:  adapted from Loretta Keller of San Francisco’s Coco500

1 large egg yolk (Can use pasterized if you are sensitive about eating raw eggs.  I’m not.  Bring it, Rocky!)

1 Tbsp. champagne or white wine vinegar

1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 small garlic clove, finely chopped

1 c. canola oil (maximum – you may not need this full amount)

2 Meyer lemons, zested and juiced

Salt, to taste

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 c. cold club soda

1 c. rice flour

1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 lb. green beans, trimmed

Canola oil

 

In a small food processor, combine egg yolk, champagne vinegar, Dijon mustard, and garlic clove.  Pulse until combined and garlic is finely chopped.  With the food processor running, slowly stream in canola oil.  Continue to pour very slowly until mixture has thickened and tripled to quadrupled in volume.  Add Meyer lemon zest and juice.  Process until fully combined.  Season to taste with salt.  Add cayenne and set aside.  If making ahead, refrigerate and let come to room temperature for about 20 minutes prior to serving.

Fill a large stockpot or wok halfway with oil.  Place on medium high heat until temperature reaches 350 degrees.  Combine club soda and rice flour in a medium mixing bowl.  Once flour is fully incorporated, add balsamic vinegar and mix well.  Add green beans, about one handful at a time, and toss with hands or tongs until beans are fully coated.  Using tongs, place about 8-10 green beans in hot oil.  Fry about 4 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove to a cooling rack set over a baking sheet and season to taste.  Repeat with remaining green beans.

Serve immediately with Meyer lemon aioli.

Sometimes, you want a little extra crunch.  While I preferred the recipe in its original form above, b preferred the extra crispy version.  To do this, after dipping the beans in the rice flour/club soda batter, dredge in panko and repeat as directed above.  Crunch away!

 

Hope this has taught your kids a few new tricks on how to hide their veggies and has provided you with a new way to enjoy them!

– j

All content and photographs © 2010 jb’s pour house

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roasted strawberries with zabaglione

 

While spring has sprung here in the Midwest and we’ve been gifted a few beautiful 80 degree days, we’re still a ways off from summer.  It feels like it should be June but it is only April, which I’m reminded of when picking up some strawberries at the local grocery store.  Although they look and smell like summer, the trucked-in berries (because it certainly isn’t warm enough to have local yet) give away their early spring secret when you bite into them.  They just aren’t that sweet yet.  Don’t fear friends, I have a way to have your summer temperatures and your summer berries too.

The idea is a little unconventional, I’ll be the first to admit that.  Roasted strawberries, huh?  Well, if you roast an onion or garlic, the sugars caramelize and you end up with something entirely different.  I thought the same could certainly apply to strawberries that just weren’t quite there yet.  I’m an impatient person and I wanted my summer dessert with my 80 degree days and patio lounging!  So I set off on a way to make to do with the berries I had, but I wanted an interesting and unique way to dress them up.

Zabaglione (say zab-ah-yōn) is like the angel food cake of custards.  It isn’t solid like a crème brûleé *yum* but instead, it is loose and airy and more like a thick sauce than a custard.  Traditionally made with Marsala, I chose to liven it up a bit with some bubbly instead.  No need to spend the big bucks on this kids, we’re cooking with it, so opt for a prosecco or cava.  Of course, you are going to want something that is palatable because let’s face it, you are going to drink the rest of the bottle with dessert, aren’t you?!  The real secret to zabaglione is a hand mixer.  You whip all sorts of air into it as the eggs, sugar and bubbly are cooking and the result is a light, foamy sauce.  It’s a little bit of heaven, I promise.  The best part is that this is a perfect dessert for entertaining.  While the strawberries roast (8 minutes – that’s it!) the sauce can be completely prepared and will be ready and waiting to blanket the berries in its boozy goodness.

roasted strawberries with zabaglione

recipe:  jb’s pour house

 

1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced in half

3 tsp. plus 1/2 c. sugar

4 egg yolks, room temperature

1/2 c. sparkling wine, such as prosecco or cava

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place strawberries cut side down on a large baking sheet covered in foil (trust me – makes clean up a breeze!).  Sprinkle 3 tsp. sugar across the berries and place in the oven.  Roast for 8-10 minutes or until strawberries have softened and sugars have begun to caramelize on tops of berries.

Using a double boiler, bring a small amount of water to boil in the lower pan (note – make sure the level of the water in the bottom pan is low enough that when the top pan is added, the water does not touch the bottom of the top pan).  Combine egg yolks and sugar in the top saucepan of the double boiler.  Using a hand mixer, thoroughly blend the egg yolks and sugar together until pale yellow, about 1 minute.  Add the sparkling wine, mix to incorporate, and place the pan over the boiling water.  Continue mixing with the hand mixer on medium-high speed until the mixture has thickened and doubled in size, about 6-7 minutes.  For those concerned about egg safety, an instant read thermometer should register 140 degrees.  Remove from heat.

Remove the strawberries from the oven and place in individual serving dishes.  Spoon about 1/3 cup zabaglione over the top of the berries.  If desired, garnish with a slice of fresh strawberry and mint.  Serve immediately.

 

Enjoy a taste of the summer goodness to come!

– j

All content and photographs © 2010 jb’s pour house

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