Bored? Bake a Pie

You have to love open farm stands or even growing some fruits & veggies on your own (or perhaps poaching from a neighbor’s yard :).

There are several pick your own farms in the area. What a great way to enjoy the summer by having some fresh-baked Blueberry Pie. Although, I am in the Northeast and it is Humid. Kicking the oven on is probably the last thing anyone wants to do. So if you get inspired to make the pie, toss it in the fridge or freezer and bake it late a night or when it gets cooler.

Having tired of consuming blueberry smoothies for a week, I knocked this creation out in the AM when it wasn’t so hot. The leftover bits of pie crust I used to make some poptarts with cherry and cognac filling (or any jam will do).

I am happy to post the recipe but aren’t there millions of standard pie recipes out there already?

This is the perfect food to bring to a dinner when everyone else is offering grilled items or leftover beers from the 4th. You can be the hero just don’t forget the ice cream.

Oh, and I know it is not a Pastry Chef’s Master piece. This is more an ode to Munch’s The Scream, but hey I was bored.

Outdoor Buffet Leftovers- “Help yourself”

No matter how delicious it was yesterday. If it was out in the sun all day. Toss it.

The food danger zone for perishable food is between 40˚-140˚f.  Do not take a chance with that Fantastic Potato Salad, Baked Mac-n-Cheese, Chicken Wings, etc unless they were stored back into refrigeration within 90 minutes after being prepared. Depending on the temperature during the day in your area, that 90 minute mark maybe pushing it. Food can spoil right after it has been prepared. Bacteria growth can get rise while that food sits in that danger zone.

Potato, Egg, Chicken, Tuna or any Salad with mayonnaise can hold in bacteria if it was sitting in the hot sun all for an hour+. So if you are not certain if something went bad or not, throw it out.

That is why the saying is ‘Serve hot food hot & cold food cold’. 

Keep this in mind for your next summer buffet and try to serve the salads over an iced container or use chaffing dishes for that hot food. Try to remove them after everyone has had a plate or two. If they get hungry later, they know where the refrigerator is. They can help themselves.

Greatest feature of a Steam Oven

Whether you currently own a steam oven or thinking of specifying one for your kitchen, a daily routine pays dividens.

Re-heating leftovers. Sounds like no big deal but it is. When you use a microwave, the moisture is removed from the food resulting in toughness. When you steam reheat it looks and tastes like it was just prepared. In the photo I have a roast turkey breast and mashed potato. These are typical food items that take on a ‘refrigerator flavor’ once they have been packed and stored in the fridge. When re-heating in the steam oven there if virtually no flavor loss & no refrigerator flavor.

This saves you money in the fact that usually you may end up throwing away those leftovers because you thought that they wouldn’t taste good. This is not the case if you Steam reheat.

In my Gaggenau steam oven there are adjustments to moisture level and temperature. Many steam ovens may not have that versatility but you still have the benefit of re-heating with a refreshing benefit. It is a kitchen must have.

Lamb Chops, Port Wine demi

This past weekend I was fortunate to work the grill on father’s day.

It’s fun to help out during a semi-holiday that doesn’t get the same props as Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas or even St Patrick’s Day for that matter. Dad usually gets the shaft when it comes to accolades so it’s a good time to put him on a pedestal for a day.

A family ritual is grilled loin chops. For those unaware of cuts of meat, the rack is cut from the rib section perpendicular to the spine, including the rib roast cut. The loin is cut from the loin saddle that includes the loin and tenderloin roast. Either one you choose, you can’t lose, they are both excellent.

There is a difference in the cooking technique. The rack chops require a few minutes on each side of a hot grill. You don’t want to over cook because if you cook too much of the moisture out, they become tough and flavorless.

The loin is typically a thicker chop and having more fat, require a low heat due to the flare up you will get. I suggest you sear the loin chops for a couple of minutes on each side then place on a pan or in foil to continue cooking on an indirect flame so you wont get flaring or severe burning. The juices from the fat will be excessive so be careful. Season lightly with salt & pepper and add a middle eastern allspice.

Here is a recipe for a sauce for either chop.

2 tbl grape seed oil

1 yellow onion, peeled & sliced 1/2″ slices

5 ounces button mushrooms, chopped

3 ounces port wine

2 tbl steak sauce or demi

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp fresh mint, cut Julienne

1/4 tsp red pepper seed

Salt to taste

Heat pan over medium to high heat for three minutes. Add oil wait 30 seconds, add onion. After a minute add mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes. Add garlic toss then deglaze pan with port.  Season with steak sauce or demi, mint & pepper seed. If too thick add a couple of tablespoons of water. Add salt to taste and pour over chops. Enjoy!

Baked Blueberry French Toast

This time of year we have graduations, weddings, weekend getaways and most likely lazy Sundays.

This is an easy recipe to whip together that will feed a crowd.

I used my Gaggenau combi steam oven with 60% moisture. This allows the egg mixture to rise slightly like a souffle. If you want to make a similar effect in your oven, put a pan of hot water on the first rack level when you turn your oven on.

5 eggs

2-1/2 cups milk

1/4 cup Maple Syrup

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon vanilla

8 Cups Dry French Bread

1 cup Blueberries

1 jar of Blueberry Jam

8 oz Cream Cheese cut in small cubes

2 tablespoons butter

Set oven on Convection Bake** at 350˚

In a large bowl, beat together eggs, milk, syrup, salt, nutmeg, and vanilla.

Use the Butter to glaze a casserole pan.

Evenly distribute bread, cream cheese, jam and blueberries throughout the pan.

Cover with egg mixture.

Place in oven on second rack level.  Cook for 25-30 minutes or until firm. Slightly shake the pan to see if center is set before removing from oven. Remove then allow to cool in pan before serving.

Great with maple syrup, whip cream, ice cream or just a dash of powdered sugar.

Enjoy!

Notes:

This can be prepared the night before and kept in refrigerator until ready to bake.

Day old bread is great for this. Alternative breads are Challah, Portuguese, potato bread or cinnamon raisin.

*Use any fresh berries and jam for a variety of flavors

** If you don’t have a convection oven, use same temperature just increase the cooking time by 25%.


Allergy season, how ’bout some honey?

Pollen is killing me this season. Sure, the florals in the yard are looking great but I can’t breathe.

I coughed myself awake the other night dreaming that I was smoking.

Day two of the Neti Pot and my honey consumption is up. I no longer feel a migraine like headache.

If you want to try some local honey due to the immunotherapy concept. Being that consumption of some local honey will introduce the pollen in small doses to the body. Hopefully this will build an immunity to the airborne pollen. Check out this Boston site that is very informative.

http://eatlocalhoney.com/

Whether it works as a sugar pill or not at least my oatmeal tastes great!

From the Garden to your table

 Whether you have a garden or not. Try as often as you can to buy fresh vegetables. This time of year there are many farmers’ markets as well as tables set up at perhaps your neighbor’s drive way offering fresh tomatoes, squash etc.

Take advantage of this. It may inspire you to start growing something on your own. Start small, perhaps a starter of lettuce or herbs that you can tend to in the window of your kitchen.

“but Kurt that stuff is WAY too expensive and hard to find”

No way I say, if I can do it you can to.

If you care to adventure out to the markets check local listings. In my area of southern Massachusetts, there is Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership (SEMAP). Check out their website to see listings of local farms where you can buy fresh or bring the kids and pick your own.

http://semaponline.org/semap/where-to-find-local/

Fresh fuel for your body, you wont regret it. Get out there this weekend!

Mastering the Grill with a dog by your side

Grilling is perfect for the weekend. Definitely when the weather is great and the beverages are tasty.

I am not going to preach about the best dry rub, marinade or sauce. Just a few tips to help you master the grill.

  1. Use your grill brush before you put something on the hot grill. When you are turning your food or adding more, again USE YOUR GRILL BRUSH. This will keep items from sticking to the grates. The grill brush isn’t just for cleaning the grill when your are done cooking.
  2. Whether gas or briquettes, have one side on a high heat and one side on a low. This way thicker cuts of meat or pork along with bone in chicken can be seared on the high heat for a few minutes per side, then cooked on the low heat to avoid burnt chicken.
  3. Barbeque sauce is for finishing only or as a sauce on the side!  That means don’t marinate with a barbeque sauce; there is typically sugar or high fructose corn syrup in the bbq sauce, which burns quickly over a high temp.

Then again the dog has to eat too, so burn a piece for old times sake and let Fido enjoy!

When NOT to use Convection

Convection Cooking isn’t new technology. (oh thank you Kurt for that brainstorm statement!)

Most people who have it in their oven never use it. According to manufacturers’ Use & Care Manuals you can use that cooking mode for everything. 

Sure you can, but you may get results that go here

Try staying with the Bake mode for cakes. The batter needs the delicate surround of heat and not the variable flow that is provided by convection. 

Below are some Chocolate Cakes that I baked in Convection. 

No I didn’t throw them out!

Once I covered them in frosting they were fine. But they are individual size.  If you are baking in a standard pan you may not like the results. See how the tops are cracked?

This happens because convection heat dries out the top of the batter before the ingredients start to work their magic in the center.


Tangerine Sabayon

Ingredients:

5 egg yolk

1/3 cup sugar

zest from one tangerine

juice from one tangerine

2 T amaretto

pinch salt

2 T of sour or whip cream

In a stainless steel bowl, whip yolks and sugar for a minute. Add juice and liquor and whip over a baine marie (hot water just shy of boiling, in a 3qt. pan). Whip to Double in volume and heat to 140˚.  At this point it will begin to thicken. Be careful not to overheat or the eggs will cook (like scrambled eggs).

Remove from heat and pour over fruit or cookies. Top with a dollop of cream and zest.

To serve as a cold dessert, immediately chill the bowl in an ice bath, occasionally stirring, then store in refrigerator until service.

Enjoy!