08 March 2012

Cheddar Cayenne Coins

Cheddar Cayenne Coins
6 oz. all-purpose flour
3 oz. finely shredded sharp Cheddar
1 Tbs salt
1/8 - 1/4 tsp. cayenne
4 oz. unsalted butter, cut into cubes, chilled
1 large egg yolk
2 Tbs water
1.5 oz. finely chopped walnuts

Combine flour, cheese, salt, and cayenne in a food processor. Process until just blended. Add the butter pieces and pulse until the dough resembles coarse crumbs. Stir the yolk and water together with a fork and drizzle over the mixture. Pulse until the dough begins to form small moist crumbs. Add the chopped nuts and pulse briefly until the crumbs begin to come together.
Pile the moist crumbs on an un-floured surface. With the heel of your hand, push and smear the crumbs until they start to come together in a cohesive dough. Shape into a 14" long log that's 1.25 inches in diameter. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours, or up to two days.
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment. Using a thin, sharp knife, cut the log into scant 1/4 inch slices. Arrange about 1/2 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until medium to deep golden around the edges, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets as needed for even baking. Cool on a rack. When completely cook, store in an airtight container.

Bench Notes: I have no idea why I got this from, but, thanks to Google, I now know. Apparently from Fine Cooking. I've been making these since 2008 and really love the flavor and texture of these little crackers, You can also use a mix of half Parmesan and half Cheddar, but I prefer the straight up Cheddar. Mine are never coins, they end up squares, but they still taste good. They can be a bit salty, so I often cut back on the salt.
Round Two of the cracker challenge....  This is Round One of the cracker challenge here

07 March 2012

Asparagus Soup with Parmesan Custards

Asparagus Soup with Parmesan Custards
Gourmet | April 2002
yield: Makes 6 servings

For custards
2 1/2 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano, coarsely grated (1 1/4 cups)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1 whole large egg
2 large egg yolks
1/8 teaspoon salt
Pinch of white pepper
Special equipment: 6 (2-oz) ramekins

For soup
1 large leek (white and pale green parts only), finely chopped (1 1/4 cups)
1/2 cup finely chopped shallot
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/2 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup heavy cream

Make custards: Bring cheese, cream, and milk just to a boil in a small heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and steep, covered, 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 300°F. Pour steeped cream through a very fine sieve into a bowl, pressing lightly on cheese solids and discarding them. Whisk together whole egg, yolks, salt, and white pepper in another bowl, then add steeped cream in a stream, whisking until smooth. Divide among well-buttered ramekins.

Set ramekins in a baking pan and bake in a hot water bath in middle of oven until centers of custards are completely set, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer ramekins to a rack and cool 5 minutes (do not allow to cool longer, or custards will stick to ramekins).
Make soup while cream steeps and custards bake: Wash chopped leek in a bowl of cold water, then lift out and drain well. Cook leek, shallot, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in butter in a 4- to 6-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring, until leek is softened, about 3 minutes. Add asparagus, broth, and water and simmer, covered, until asparagus is just tender, 10 to 12 minutes. After 2 to 4 minutes, remove 6 asparagus tips, halve lengthwise and reserve for garnish.
Purée soup in batches in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Transfer to a large bowl, then pour through a sieve into cleaned pot. Stir in cream, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste and heat over moderately low heat until hot.
Serve soup with custards:
Working with 1 custard at a time, run a thin knife around edge of each to loosen it, then invert a soup bowl over ramekin and invert custard into bowl. Repeat with remaining custards. Ladle soup around custards and garnish with reserved asparagus tips and  parmesan curls.

Bench Notes: Once again, I did not do the whole garnish thing. Perhaps if this were for company, but since it's just for us... The taste of the custard is pure Parmesan and the texture is silky. I haven't made custard or pudding in ages, so I was a little concerned, but ... easy as can be. This isn't the asparagus soup you'll make lots, but it's worth the effort when something elegant is called for. Just sublime. 

06 March 2012

I obviously have a problem ...

with salt... 
4 in one weekend - sigh. 

05 March 2012

Rosemary Salt

Rosemary from my garden
Okay, okay, this is the last one ... well, we'll see.
I wish blogs had smell-o-blog, because fresh rosemary from the garden is so amazing. My little rosemary plant started out life in its cute four inch pot. It's been in the west bed for going on nine years now and been cut back severely twice and is still about three feet tall and two feet deep and four feet long - if that makes any sense - suffice it to say - it's rather large.

1/3 cup rosemary leaves, coarsely chopped
1 Tbs lemon zest
1/3 cup Kosher salt

Mix rosemary with half of the salt and cut both until the rosemary was finely minced. Add the lemon zest and the rest of the salt. Mix well. Spread on a baking sheet and bake at 225 degrees for half an hour.
It's pretty easy going and smells incredible. I plan to use this on lots of things, but might start by making it the base for herbed nuts. You could probably mix some chopped garlic in this or not use the lemon - I used it because I had it.

04 March 2012

Citrus Salts

lemon salt 
Okay, obviously I have a salt problem. Or maybe it's just a time of year and the availability of fresh citrus every where I look. But I'm making more flavored salts, which I need like a hole in the head. Maybe I should blame 101 Cookbooks - they drove me to it... but then again I did have the Maldon.....

Lemon Salt
65 grams Maldon
2 Tbs lemon zest

Stirred together in a small bowl and make sure it's distributed well. Lay on baking sheet and bake at 225 degrees for thirty minutes. 

orange salt
Orange Salt
30 grams Maldon
1 Tbs orange zest

Stirred together in a small bowl and make sure it's distributed well. Lay on baking sheet and bake at 225 degrees for thirty minutes.