Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Blackened chipotle tilapia with black bean salad

When it comes to fish, I am not that adventurous. I have a few recipes that I make, and that I know my son loves, so I stick to them. But this summer I made chipotle chicken a lot, and we loved it, so, I was really hoping tilapia would get the same response. And luckily it did. I tried a few sides with it, but this one goes really well, so I will be posting both  recipes, for the fish, and for the salad. These are colors of summer, and it is a perfect summer dish, but I would never refuse it any month of the year.
The salad is really healthy, easy to make, and while you are cooking the fish, the salad is already done. Its the perfect lunch in less than an hour.

For the fish you will need:
4 tilapia filets
4 cloves of garlic
5 tablespoons chopotle seasoning
2 tablespoons paprika powder
1 tablespoon thyme
salt and peeper to taste
Press garlic through garlic press. Spreed it on tilapia filets, and set aside. Combine chipotle seasoning, paprika powder, crushed thyme, salt and paper, and coat both sides of the fish with it. Let it rest for 15 min.
Warm cast iron pan to medium high heat. Add a little bit of oil, and add fish. Do not overcrowd your pan. Fry 3-4 min per side. Fish is done when the center is white, and not translucent. Transfer it carefully on the plate with fish spatula. It will be very fragile. 

For the salad, you will need:
1 (440gr) can black beans
300 gr. corn
1 avocado
400 gr cherry tomatoes
3 scallions
1/2 lemon juice
1 tablespoon parsley
1 tablespoon cilantro
4 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Rinse and drain can of beans. Combine it with corn, chopped cherry tomatoes, scallions, parsley, cilantro, olive oil, salt and peeper.
Peel avocado, chop into small cubes, and mix with lemon juice until you coat all sides of avocado with it. Add avocado to the veggies. Mix well, and try a little bit, and adjust seasoning if you need. You can add more lime juice if you like.
You can make the salad day ahead, but add avocado with lime juice right before serving.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Chestnut cream cake

For some reason, chestnuts are not that popular in U.S. And to me, nothing says winter like chestnuts. I grew up in a town that had street vendors selling fire roasted chestnuts during winter. To me they are nostalgic street food. Just the smell of them brings back so many memories for me. Snowflakes, roasted chestnuts, mulled wine, fireplace, friends...
With record breaking low temperatures in Chicago, this cake was my first choice.  Its so light, aromatic, creamy, it's really wonderful. 
The chocolate base is soaked with cherry jam that is mixed with cherry brandy. Its topped with  a chocolate cream layer with chestnut puree, a white layer with whipped cream and baileys, and chestnut puree with rum.

For the chocolate base:
85 gr. butter
85 gr chocolate melted
50 gr sugar
4 eggs
100 gr sugar
60 gr flour
Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.
Cream the butter with 50 gr. of sugar and melted chocolate. Add egg yolks one at the time. Whip the egg whites with 100 gr of sugar until stiff. Fold it into the chocolate mixture. When incorporated, add flour and fold gently. Scoop the batter onto prepared 9 inch baking pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 25 min. Cool, and moisten the cake with  60 ml of cherry brandy mixed with 200 gr of cherry jam.

For chocolate cream:
100 ml. milk
2 teaspoons sugar
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons cornstarch
5 teaspoons powder sugar
100 gr chocolate
500 ml. heavy cream
250 gr. chestnut puree
1 tablespoon baileys
To make the cream, bring the milk to a boil. Mix egg yolk with the cornstarch and sugar. Add 2 tablespoons hot milk to temper the egg. Add egg mixture to the boiling milk, stirring over medium heat to thicken it. Move it from the stove, add powder sugar and chocolate. Mix until everything incorporates nicely. While mixture is still warm, (if its chilled, it will be hard to incorporate into the whipped cream) whip the cream and stir gradually into the chocolate mixture. Spread immediately onto the cake and freeze.
When chocolate cream is semi-frozen add white cream layer.

For white cream layer:
500 ml. heavy cream
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoon baileys
2 bags whip it
Whip the ingredients for the white cream layer and spreed over the chocolate cream.
Decorate the cake with chestnut paste by mixing 350 gr of chestnut puree with 2 tablespoons of rum. I used potato press for it.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Pierre Herme's Cream puffs

I  wish I had more photos of these cream puffs, but when you bake something and people are at the door, its too late for that. You are happy with the one that you have.
These are Pierre Herme's cream puffs. It was my birthday in December, and I received two of his cookbooks as a gift.
To be honest with you, I religiously looked at page after page wondering how his recipes really are. Are they that good? Are his cream puffs better then ones I make using my mom's recipe?
They are good, but they are different from what I am used to. My cream is firmer. This one is really soft, but that has its own advantages. It very light and creamy. I wish it was just a little bit ticker, but that could be easily done.
So if you decide to make them, here is the recipe.

For Pate a Choux:
125 ml cup still mineral water ( I used tap water)
125 ml whole milk
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt (I used one pinch)
110 gr  butter
140 gr flour
250 gr eggs (5 eggs)
Preheat oven to 400F/200C
In a saucepan bring water, milk, sugar, salt and butter to a boil. Add the flour all at once. Beat hard until the paste is smooth and shiny. Transfer the paste to a bowl and incorporate eggs one at the time, beating constantly. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with plain #14 pastry tip.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Pipe out balls of choux arranging them 5 cm apart. Place them in the oven and turn the oven off for 10 min.
Turn the oven back to 350F/170C and  continue baking. After 10 min slide a wooden spoon between the oven and its doors to keep it partly open. Bake for another 10 min, and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

For pastry cream:
1 vanilla bean
500 ml whole milk
130 gr sugar
35 gr pastry cream powder (2 1/2 tbs)
15 gr flour (2 tbs)
6 egg yolks (120 gr)
50 gr softened butter

Whipped cream 590 ml
2 tablespoons sugar

Split the vanilla bean and scrape seeds into a saucepan. Add milk, sugar, vanilla pod and bring to a boil. In a mixing bowl, beat the pastry cream powder and flour with egg yolks. Add one third of the hot milk mixture, beating constantly to temper the eggs. Pour this mixture back into the saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. Transfer the pastry cream to a metal bowl set in a larger bowl of ice water to cool. Remove and discard the vanilla pod. When the pastry cream has cooled to 140F/60C, cut the butter into pieces and beat it into the cream. Remove 460 gr of pastry cream and reserve the remainder for use in another recipe.
(I used all of the pastry cream)
Whip the cream and sugar. Remove 90 gr of whipped cream and carefully fold it into the chilled pastry cream. Pour this mixture into a piping bag fitted with a plain #14 pastry tip. Pour the remaining whipped cream into a piping bag fitted with a plain pastry tip.
Split each choux crosswise three-quarters of the way up the side. Pipe the pastry cream mixture into the bottom half of each choux. Top it with a swirl of whipped cream. Cover with the top half and dust with confectioners sugar.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Cranberry rolls

I have so many draft recipes, and so little time to review and post them. But today I made these, and they were so good, I had to share them with you right away. 
A bag of cranberries was sitting in my fridge for a few weeks. I wanted to make something else, but every time I went to grocery store I forget the main ingredient, so time was running out for cranberries, and I had to do something with them fast. Since my sons friends were coming today, I decided to try these out. I combined cranberry filling with my  marzipan roll  recipe, and I am glad I did. They were perfect.

For the dough you will need:
125 ml  warm milk
4 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon of yeast
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
400 gr flour
100 gr softened butter
1 tablespoon rum
pinch of salt
Combine warm milk and sugar, and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Add 1 tablespoon of flour and let it sit for 5-10 min until it foams. Add egg yolk, egg and rum and whisk until well blended. Stir in the pinch of salt, flour and knead on on low speed for 2 min. Increase the speed and knead for 1 min. Add soft butter, 1 tablespoon at the time, allowing each addition to blend in before adding the next. Decrease the speed an knead for 5-6 min longer, until the dough is soft and silky.
Transfer the dough into the buttered bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise until doubled.
You can punch down the dough and refrigerate overnight, and just roll it out in the morning. 

For the filling:

454 gr cranberries
100 gr sugar
50 ml orange juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
Stir berries, sugar, and orange juice. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar and mash lightly. Cook, stirring more frequently as jam thickens, until it has the consistency of very loose jelly, 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
Roll out the dough onto a work surface dusted with flour. Don't kneed the dough again. Dust it with flour and roll into an 11x15 inch. Spread cranberry filling in a thin layer over the dough, leaving 1 inch border along the long side. Roll it into a cylinder, gently tucking as you go. Cut the dough into 1 inch rolls. Place into the buttered pan, and let raise until doubled. Bake into 375 min for about 20 min, or until golden.
Dust them with powder sugar and enjoy with a glass of milk.
My son had them with a little bit of condensed milk drizzled on top.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

S'mores cupcakes

I know. I did not torch them :(
I made them for Forth of July, and they were sitting in my folder since then. We had bunch of kids coming over before fireworks, and I didn't check my torch. Everything was ready. BBQ was on the grill, watermelon in the fridge, firecrackers were ready, and bunch of kids were about to eat.
I baked cupcakes, made marshmallow meringue, and I could not wait for the fun part. Torching them, and looking how that snow white thick, glossy foam becomes caramelized, dramatic and amazing looking. And my torch was dead. I was so disappointed, I still am.
So please, before you make them, have your torch ready. Mine was empty, no gas left. Kids were staring with their eyes wide open, and I did not have time to go and get new one. I just snapped 2-3 pictures, and the cupcakes were gone.

For the graham cracker base:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
5 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons sugar
Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Line muffin pan with 24 baking cups. Mix all of the ingredients, and place a tablespoon of mixture into each baking cup. Press down crumb mixture with the spoon until it forms a solid crust. Bake for 5 min, and cool.

For chocolate cupcakes:
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa 
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 lightly beaten eggs
1 cup yogurt 
2/3 cup melted butter
1 cup strong coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla
Sift dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients, and mix just until you break down the lumps. Batter will be liquidy. 
Pour the batter over cooled graham cracker base. Fill the cups only 2/3. Bake for 25 min. Cool completely before frosting them.

Make chocolate glaze:
200 gr chocolate
100 ml heavy whipping cream
Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Just bring it to a boil, and pour it immediately over chopped chocolate. Let it stand for a few minutes. Stir gently until chocolate is melted and smooth. Set it aside to cool.
When cupcakes are cooled, dip each one into the chocolate glaze. Let it harden a little bit.

For marshmallow meringue:
6 egg whites
1 1/2 cup sugar 
1/2 teaspoon of gelatin
1 tablespoon water
Bloom gelatin in 1 tablespoon of water. Mix egg whites with sugar, and place in the top of the double boiler. Mix it constantly with the whisk until sugar is dissolved and mixture  reaches 71C/160F. Add bloomed melted gelatin, and beat with your whisk attachment on medium high sped until mixture cools and doubles in volume. It should form stiff peaks, about 10 min.
Fill a pastry bag with the marshmallow meringue and pipe the meringue on top of the cupcake.
Lightly toast the marshmallow meringue using a kitchen torch.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Cookie dough cheesecake

I never had cookie dough cheesecake before. So when my son asked me to make one for New Years party, i was reluctant to make it. But, we love all kinds of cheesecakes, and we love cookies, so I decide to give it a try. I combined my standard vanilla cheesecake recipe, with my cookie recipe, and hoped for the best. How bad could it be?
Its buttery graham cracker crust, smooth, creamy cheesecake with chocolate morsels, cookie dough snuggled in, and garnished with whipped cream. Its comfort food, and my son loves it with a glass of milk. I prefer  the cup of coffee with it.
To make it, start with cookie dough.

For cookie dough:
112 gr butter (1 stick)
140 gr sugar
150 gr flour
1 egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla
150 gr. mini chocolate chips
In a medium bowl, beat room temperature butter with sugar until creamy. Add vanilla, and egg. Mix few more minutes. Add flour, and chocolate chips, mix until thoroughly combined. Refrigerate for 15-20 min. Roll cookie dough into small balls. They should be the size of the walnut. Put them in refrigerator while you make the rest.

For the crust:
2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
6 tablespoons of melted butter
2 tablespoons of brown sugar

Mix graham cracker crumbs with sugar. Add melted butter, mix well and press onto the bottom and sides of 9 inch baking pan. Bake for 10 min, at 325F/162C. Cool.

For the cheesecake:
3 packs (226 gr each) room temperature Philadelphia cream cheese
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 can (397 gr) condensed milk
100 gr. mini chocolate chip cookies

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), on low speed, beat the cream cheese until smooth (about 2 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating them well (about 30 seconds) after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add condensed milk and vanilla. Mix until everything is combined, but try not to incorporate to many bubbles. 
Pour half of the filling over the crust, and place cookie dough balls in it. Add chocolate chip cookies to other half of the batter, mix, and pour over cookie dough. Bake in a 325F/160C oven for 45 min. The edges of the cheesecake should be puffed but the center still a little wet and jiggle when you gently shake the pan. Do not over bake it, it will crack.
Refrigerate until chilled, preferably overnight. Serve with whipped cream and vanilla.