Saturday, January 2, 2010

This Week From My Kitchen - Recipes: So Many Of Them...Take Another Look

Chinese Salad with Orange Sesame Dressing

To give a salad more depth and texture, I always use a mix of lettuce – in this case Iceberg and Romaine. I then match the toppings to my dinner menu. I was making Chinese so I covered the lettuce with sweet dried cherries, Pea Pods, Won Ton Strips, Peanuts and made an Orange Sesame dressing. When I’m making Mexican, I will top the lettuce mixture with tomatoes, avocado, black beans, corn, tortilla strips, green onions and a little bit of sour cream and salsa.

I use anything in my refrigerator that will go with the meal and that I want to use up. I am inclined to add more to a salad than most because it is an easy way to slip in your daily allowance of vegetables or fruit.

Use your imagination and you will be surprised at the tasty combinations you will create.

Orange Sesame Dressing

1 cup orange juice

1 teaspoon honey

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1/4 cup water

1 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce (optional)

1 shallot, chopped

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

Cook the orange juice in a saucepan until reduced by half. Combine with the honey, sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, water and hot sauce in a blender. Add the shallot and ginger and process until smooth.

Homemade Salad Dressing

I always try to make homemade dressings when I can. Once you get into the routine of making them, you’ll wonder why you ever bought dressings at the store. The flavor of fresh dressing is so much better than what you can buy. Also, having control over the ingredients is another way to cut your calories.

I love to mix a good olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Here is an easy, basic recipe and the shallots (please don’t even think about using green onions. You really need “real” shallots They are a common ingredient in French food and once in get use to using them, they will be as indispensable as onions in creating your favorite recipes. Green onions simply do not have the complexity and delicious flavor that a shallot does.

3/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 shallot, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Put all ingredients in a bottle. Cover and shake. Makes One Cup.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

In January, nothing is better than Loaded Bakes Potato Soup to take the chill off. I serve it with a good quality Italian bread or a crusty roll.

Pair this with Conway's Irish Ale, a red ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co. The bottle's neck label suggests pairing with "organic potatoes"

4 Large Idaho Russet Baking Potatoes

1/2 Cup Butter (1 stick)

1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour

6 Cups Milk

1 Tsp. Kosher Salt

1/2 Tsp. White Pepper

2 Cups Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded (8 oz.)

8 Slices Bacon, cooked and crumbled

4 Green Onions, sliced

Garnish: Additional shredded cheese, crumbled bacon, and sliced green onion

Prick and bake potatoes in a 400 degree oven for one hour or until tender or microwave 10-14 minutes on high, turning once. Cool. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out pulp in chunks. Melt butter oven over low heat. Add flour, stirring until smooth. Cook one minute, stirring constantly, to make a simple, light roux. Add milk; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thick and bubbly, approximately 8-10 minutes. Stir in potato chunks, salt, pepper, cheese, bacon, and chopped green onion. Cook until heated through, but do not boil. Ladle into bowls and garnish with toppings of your choice. Yield: 10 Cups

Dipped Strawberries and Cupcakes

The kids in my neighborhood love it when I am home to bake…which is not often enough. I have a weak spot for anything that is chocolate covered and today, I made chocolate covered Strawberries and Cupcakes.

From my December 13th post, dipping chocolates were also used by Gina’s daughter Jessica to make chocolate covered twizzlers.

24 Strawberries

6 ounces White Chocolate

8 ounces Dark Chocolate

Note: Melt chocolate according to the directions on the package

Wash strawberries and make sure they are fully dry as water will cause chocolate to seize up.

Melt white chocolate. Dip the strawberry and give it a quick twist and shake. Put on wax paper to let dry. Dip the strawberry again in the melted dark chocolate, twisting, shaking and placing on wax paper to dry. I then put them in the refrigerator to set,

You can do the same with a white cupcake that has frosting piped on top in the shape of soft serve ice cream. Chill the cupcakes for at least an hour so the frosting sets before you dip them. I will soemtimes put them in the freezer.

White Chocolate Mousse Cake

This recipe is from Salty's in Seattle, Washington. I love this cake and it is a total, once-a-year SPLURGE for me. I always make it the day before New Years eve day. I keep one slice and bring the rest to my neighbors. It’s a New Years tradition that has been going on for over 20 years and they look forward to getting it as much as I do baking it.

It looks complicated but it’s not. Just follow through the process and have a glass of white wine while you’re doing it – it goes a lot faster.

If I can get beyond the “to prepare mousse” stage without eating all of it, I am in the home stretch.

3 cups cake flour, plus extra for dusting cake pans

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 8 pieces

2 cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup whole milk

8 large egg whites, at room temperature

1 pinch cream of tartar


12 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped (see shopper's note)

4 cups whipping cream, chilled


1 pound white chocolate, room temperature, shaved into curls (use

vegetable peeler)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 3 (9-inch) cake pans. Line bottoms with wax or parchment paper. Grease paper. Dust bottoms and sides with flour. Tap out excess.

To mix cake: Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In large bowl and using electric mixer at low speed, beat together butter and sugar until coarsely blended. Increase speed to medium. Beat until light and creamy. Add vanilla, then flour mixture alternating with milk. Beat until well combined. In separate bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar at medium-high speed until they hold soft peaks. Using rubber spatula, gently fold one-third of egg whites into cake batter until well blended, using a cutting motion through middle of batter and turning bowl as you work. Gently fold remaining whites into batter until just combined. (Note: Do not over-mix.) Divide batter evenly into prepared pans. Bake in center of oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool layers in pans on wire racks for 20 minutes. Turn out onto racks to cool completely. Remove paper. Using serrated knife, cut off top brown part on each layer, making sure layers are flat and even.

To prepare mousse: In double boiler or stainless steel or glass bowl over saucepan filled with simmering water, heat 12 ounces white chocolate until almost melted. Remove pan from heat. Stir until completely melted. Cool to room temperature. Using electric mixer, whip cream in large mixing bowl until stiff peaks form. Working quickly, gently fold melted chocolate into cream.

To assemble: Place 1 cake layer on plate. Working quickly, cover with one-third of mousse. Top with cake layer. Add mousse. Top with final layer. Ice top and sides with remaining mousse. Gently press white-chocolate curls into mousse, covering entire cake.

Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to set.

Shopper's note: When buying white chocolate, look for a product that contains cocoa butter and avoid those labeled as "artificial chocolate" or "chocolate-flavored."

Bon Appetit!