Thursday, April 30, 2009

Flatbread Caesar Salad

Warm weather always makes me eat more salads. I truly love a big bed of lettuce topped with different sides. Grilled chicken Caesar salads are a bit hit around here. How could any salad topped with chicken and cheese be bad?

2 heads romaine lettuce
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shaved
3 chicken breasts
1 loaf of bread
Caesar dressing

Grill chicken and slice thinly. Meanwhile, make bread and let cool.
Wash and dry lettuce thoroughly. Lay out lettuce on a platter and toss with dressing. Top with Cheese and chicken. Serve with warm flat bread.

Flatbread Recipe:
4 1/2 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cups ice water
1 teaspoon instant yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
dried basil, oregano, chives and garlic

Mix together first 5 ingredients and then knead for 8-10 minutes or until smooth. Let rise for 3 hours. Punch down and spread onto a oiled cookie sheet. Let rest for 1 hour. Punch down again, baste with remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle liberally with dried basil, oregano, chives, and garlic.
Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, or until bread looks golden brown.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Breakfast cups

Brunch is my favorite meal for entertaining. Even though I don't generally like breakfast foods, I do love breakfast pastries and a brunch (almost) makes it acceptable to eat 3 or 4 of them in one day. I occasionally get stuck in a rut with which foods to serve. You can only make mini quiches or large bowls of scrambled eggs before the crowd gets restless looking for something with a "wow!" factor, something new and different.

Lately on tastespotting there have been tons of posts with adorable mini breakfast cups. These are muffin tins filled with an entire bite sized breakfast. For Easter I decided to test them out. There were 6 adults and 2 kids eating. Just too many for custom egg dishes and the perfect amount to actually do taste testing with.

Then came the hard part, deciding what in the world to put in these cups. I had seen it all, from what could basically be described as an omlette to simply a single egg on toast. I know that Jimmy Dean Maple Sausage is a favorite among the men I was cookng for, and that bacon is the favorite of the younger crowd, so I did half and half.

Recipe (serves 6)
1 package Jimmy Dean Maple Sausage
1 lb thick cut bacon (I used applewood smoked)
Shredded cheddar cheese
12 slices of bread (I used potato whole wheat)
12 large eggs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cook bacon in a sautee pan. Once bacon is finished cooking, set aside and pour out extra fat and return the pan to the heat. Add in 1/4 of the package of sausage and cook (crumbling) sausage until cooked through, set aside. Form the rest of the sausage into patties and cook thoroughly.
Roll out bread with a rolling pin, making it thin and slightly longer. Remove the crust. Butter both sides of all 12 peices of bread thoroughly. Smoosh the bread into a muffin pan, making a cup out of the bread.
Crumble 4-5 peices of bacon and place a few peices into 6 of the bread cups. Fill remaining 6 cups with the cooked sausage. Top all 12 cups with cheese.
Crack 1 egg into each of the cups, gently shake the pan to help the egg settle and fill the cups completely. Top with salt and pepper.
Cook until the egg has reached the consistency of your liking. I cooked ours for approximately 11 minutes. 10 minutes will yeild very runny yolks and 15 minutes will yeild solid yolks.
Serve with remaining bacon and sausage as a side.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Grilled Ham and Cheese

Spring has sprung in the northeast and our grill is getting one heck of a workout! I made home made artisan bread (in 5 minutes!) and with one of the loaves we made some gourmet grilled cheese.

Grilled Ham and Cheese Recipe:
2 slices artisan bread (home made or store bought!)
3 ounces gruyere cheese
2 ounces ham steak sliced very thin.
Spicy mustard to taste
Butter (softened)

I started by grilling ham steaks until heated through. I then sliced them very thin and put them on sliced bread with mustard and gruyere. I buttered the outside of the bread and put it on the grill. I grilled until the cheese was very melted and the bread was nicely toasted.

Grilled Cheese Recipe:
2 slices artisan bread (again - home made or store bought!)
2 ounces munster cheese
1 ounce sharp white cheddar cheese
Butter (softened)

For me, since I don't eat ham, I did a blend of sharp white cheddar and munster cheeses, approximately a 1:1 ratio. I didn't use any condiments on my sandwich, but I did butter the outsides. The saltiness of the munster against the cheddar was a divine combination.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Tres Leches

The weather this weekend in New York was fantastic. The sun was shining, we got some rain Saturday night, but then the sun was back out in full force on Sunday. We couldn't have asked for more beautiful weekend. With the sun shining and the birds singing we had to kick off grilling season. We grilled chicken wings as an appetizer and chicken thighs as the main dish. We had a side of fresh asparagus. To cool us off after the meal we had Tres Leches cake.

I hadn't ever had Tres Leches before, and I didn't even really know what to expect. All I knew about it was that it is a vanilla cake soaked in 3 different milks. In general when I don't know much about a type of food, I rely on Alton Brown's expertise to teach me. This situation was no different, I looked at a couple of different recipes but stuck with his recipe in the end.

Tres Leches Cake:
Adapted from Alton Brown:

6 3/4 ounces all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces butter
8 ounces sugar
5 whole eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (5 ounce) can evaporated milk
15 ounces half and half

2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix together dry ingredients and set aside. In a bowl beat butter until light and fluffy. Add in sugar and beat until well combined. Add in eggs and vanilla, and beat until lighter in color. Slowly add in dry ingredients, stirring with wooden spoon until just combined. Spread into greased 9x13 pan, it seems like not enough batter, but it poofs nicely. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, until cooked through. Let cool for 30 minutes. Poke holes all over the cake using skewers or a fork.

Mix together the milks and pour over cooled cake. Refrigerate the cake over night.

Whip the whipping cream until soft peaks, and add sugar and vanilla and whip until stiff peaks. Spread evenly on the top of the cake and serve immediately.