Monday, October 26, 2009

Mad Hungry with Lucinda Scala Quinn

Today, James and I found ourselves in Ann Arbor Michigan to attend a food demo & book signing event with Lucinda Scala Quinn, author of a great new cookbook, "Mad Hungry - Feeding Men & Boys".

We arrived in Ann Arbor a few hours early as to catch a quick and informal dinner at Zingerman's Deli! This was my first time visiting this world-famous place and was simply amazed! Not just by the food, but the fresh baked breads, cakes, pies, cookies, etc, hundreds of cheeses from all over the world, freshly made dairy items such as butter & cream cheese. Other than the delicious corned beef sandwich I got, and the Cobb Salad James enjoyed, I bought some French Baguettes, Pure French Butter and some imported cheese for my mother. Can't wait to visit this place again!
Check them out sometime, they even do mail-order!

Lucinda Scala Quinn is the Senior Vice President & Executive Editorial Director of Food & Entertaining at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, as well as co-host of the popular PBS series "Everyday Food", and host of the radio show "Eat/Drink with Lucinda Scala Quinn" on Martha Stewart Living Radio, Sirius 112/XM 157.
Her current book tour stopped off in Ann Arbor, MI. It was held at the Ann Arbor District Library and was a very small and intimate setting.
Lucinda talked about her beginnings in the "food world", how she became interested in cooking, her beginnings with MSLO and how this, her latest book, came about.

She then demonstrated one of the many simple recipes from the book. A Tabbouleh Salad. This was followed with samples for us in the audience, of this delicious and fresh tasting salad, a Q & A session, and then she signed copies of the cookbook!

Lucinda's oldest son, Calder, joining her on this tour, was just as friendly as her. He joined in on the Q & A discussion with the audience and chatted with attendees.

Of course, I had to ask if she would oblige in taking a photo and she most graciously did. So friendly and she seems like someone I could talk with for hours about the subject of cooking!

"Mad Hungry - Feeding Men & Boys" is a cookbook I know I will use over and over. I can't wait to get started this week and will also be blogging all the recipes I make from the book. I told Lucinda about this blog and perhaps she'll check it out one day and comment, and her culinary suggestions would also be welcome!
Please go out and get this book or click on the book cover above to order online! Also, check out Lucinda's blog MadHungryLSQ.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Bananas Foster

It's a Sunday night, I'm sitting at home, a bit bored and haven't experimented with a new recipe in a while, I get the idea of making this dessert while talking on the phone with my friend, Mike, who brought it up.

Bananas Foster, something I've NEVER tried before, unless of course you count the Bananas Foster sundae at Culver's, but I wouldn't, is a dessert made from bananas and vanilla ice cream, with a sauce made from butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, dark rum, and banana liqueur

The dish was created in 1951 by Paul Blangé at Brennan's Restaurant in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was named for Richard Foster, a friend of Owen Brennan's who was then New Orleans Crime Commission chairman.
It is still served at a number of fine restaurants in New Orleans as well as in several restaurants around the world.

I would also like to personally thank Gwen Stefani for teaching the world how to spell BANANAS! ;-)

The key to Bananas Foster's contrasting textures and temperatures is preparing all the ingredients before making the sauce.

For 4 servings:

1 pint of vanilla ice cream
4 large ripe bananas
1/4 cup of banana liqueur, brandy or cognac (1/4 cup water may be substituted)
1/2 cup dark rum
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Cover a small rimmed baking sheet (one that will fit in your freezer) with parchment paper, and place in the freezer for 10 minutes. When chilled, remove pan from freezer. Quickly scoop ice cream into 12 small balls, and place on chilled parchment-lined sheet. Keep in freezer until firm and ready to serve, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day ahead.

2. When ready to serve, peel bananas and quarter them, cutting lengthwise and then crosswise; set aside. Pour liqueur and dark rum into separate glass measuring cups; set aside. I did not have any banana liqueur, so I used cognac. Heat 3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon over butter, and cook until sugar is dissolved.

3. Remove pan from heat, and carefully stir in liqueur. Add bananas, flat side down, and cook, over medium heat, until softened and lightly browned on the bottom.

4. Remove pan from heat, and add rum. Return to heat and cook about 10 seconds to allow rum to heat up. If using a gas stove, carefully tip the pan away from you until the vapors from the rum ignite. (Alternately, light the rum with a long match.) When the flames have subsided, remove pan from heat and gently stir in remaining 3 tablespoons butter.

5. Place 3 scoops of ice cream in each of four serving dishes or bowls. Spoon the banana mixture and the sauce over each. Serve immediately!

This took less than 15 minutes to make (minus the time the scooped ice cream was in the freezer) and was so delicious! I mean come on, bananas, brown sugar, butter, and booze on top of ice cream? What could be better?
For this recipe and many other wonderful dessert recipes visit Martha Stewart.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Easy Roasted Applesauce

Going back to our visit to the apple orchard in the beginning of this Autumn season, I needed to use up the last of the apples we picked. Having just a few left, I decided to make something I really enjoy but have never made before...Applesauce!
Just a few simple ingredients and you can have a wonderfully tasty applesauce!

The apples and sugar caramelize on the bottom of the pan as they roast in the oven, giving the finished applesauce a marvelous depth of flavor. If you don't have a food mill, core the apples before roasting; after they're cooked, puree the apples in a food processor, and strain before adding spices.

Roasted Applesauce

1/4 cup water
6 Tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Pinch of coarse salt
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3 pounds small assorted apples, such as Gala, McIntosh, or Fuji
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine water, brown sugar, lemon juice, and salt in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
Scatter butter pieces over mixture, and top with apples.

Roast until apples are very soft, about 30 to 40 minutes. The smell from the kitchen today was simply amazing!!!!!

Working in batches, pass apple mixture through the medium disk of a food mill and into a bowl. Stir in the spices.

Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled. Applesauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Easy Comfort Food: Chicken Pot Pie

A blustery, rainy cool fall day is the perfect setting for this classic comfort food, chicken pot pie!
This recipe is featured on the cover of the October 2009 issue of Everyday Food Magazine. Very simple to make, and very comforting as well as delicious!

The recipe makes 4 individual pot pies, but I made one large one, which can be done using a 2 quart baking dish.

Chicken Pot Pie
4 T. unsalted butter
1 medium onion cut into medium dice
1 large carrot cut into medium dice 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups cooked chicken, cut into 1" pieces (1 pound total)*
1 cup frozen peas
1-1/2 teas chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 large egg yolk

*Store bought, rotisserie chickens are a great time saver for the cooked chicken meat. One rotisserie chicken will yield about 1-1/2 cups of meat.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and carrot and cook until onion softens, about 6 minutes. Add flour and 1/2 teas. salt; cook, stirring frequently, until mixture is pale golden, has a slightly nutty aroma, and is the texture of cooked oatmeal, about 5 minutes.
Whisking constantly, add broth. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens, about 8 minutes. Reduce to a simmer and cook 10 minutes.

Stir in chicken, peas, and thyme; season with salt & pepper. Divide mixture among four 12 oz baking dishes or one 2 quart baking dish; refrigerate until room temperature, about 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a lightly floured work surface, roll puff pastry to 1/8" thickness, 1" larger than the baking dish(es); with the tip of a sharp knife, cut vents into pastry. In a small bowl, lightly beat egg yolk with 1 teas. water; top pot pies with pastry and brush with egg wash. Refrigerate 15 minutes. Bake until pastry is deep golden and juices are bubbling, about 35 minutes.
Excellent served for lunch or dinner!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Cakes Of All Kinds!!

Recently, I've been making cakes and enjoying every minute of it! I wanted to share a sampling of the cakes I've made over the past few weeks.

On my recent trip to the Apple Orchard, we picked a few pints of raspberries! With those, I made a wonderful Raspberry Buckle! Not really a cake, this was very "cake-like", and chock full of plump raspberries, bursting throughout!!

The next cake was this amazing fragrant Lemon Cake! This cake was featured on The Martha Stewart Show, baked by Martha and Master-Baker John Barricelli.

The link provides the basic recipe for this cake, along with links to the icing, and easy Lemon Curd (the best part of the cake!), and be sure to follow the instructions in the introduction as well!

This last picture is a cake I was commissioned to make for the daughter of my sister's friend. It was a Sweet 16 birthday cake! This was a 2 tier cake, 12" chocolate bottom tier & 8" yellow top, covered in white fondant. The whimsical polka-dots and stripes are "edible images" that are available from "Lucks Cake Decorating Supplies",(Oops, didn't think to hide the seam before taking the photo!). The cake was finished with buttercream icing borders, and topped with a gorgeous spray of gum paste lillies!

The cake was a hit with the birthday girl and everyone else at the party!