Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Barefoot Contessa's Mustard-Roasted Fish

It is funny to me how the transition of time can have such an affect on certain rights of passage.  When I was right out of college and the first of my friends were getting married, bachelorette parties were crazy weekends spent in New York City or DC...we stayed out all night long and the following morning was filled with crazy stories from the night before and mimosas to help ease the train that seemed to barrel through our heads.

As time has past, and hopefully we have grown up a bit from the raucous days of our 20s, bachelorette parties have evolved.  We now gather with those closest to us, drink probably a few too many bottles of wine (a nice step up from the rot-gut vodka of our youth) and though the stories are no less entertaining, and the friendship only deepened by maturity and the memories of the paths we have walked together, the headache isn't as bad the next day and the food far exceeds the late night cheetos and room service!

One of my oldest friends hosted a bachelorette party at her house recently.  It was hilarious listening to the tales of the wild world of dating for some and the terror that can be a 3-year old when left alone with a simple marker.

As I sat there, sipping nicer champagne than my 20s budget allowed, I looked around the room at the amazing group ladies around me and thought "damn, I'm lucky", for it is this group of women who have been through so much together, laughter and tears, breakups and marriages, babies and puppies, all of it with an unending sense of loyalty and a joke around every corner.

So for the bachelorette parties of my 30s, life has once again progressed to a new stage...by 9 o'cloclk dinner was ready, right on par for Katie B, and we sat around a perfectly laid table, candles burning, wine pouring and love never ending.

The Barefoot Contessa's Mustard-Roasted Fish

4 (8 oz.) fish fillets such as red snapper
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 oz. creme fraiche
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons drained capers

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. (You can also use an ovenproof baking dish.) Place the fish fillets skin side down on the sheet pan. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. 
Combine the creme fraiche, two mustards, shallots, capers, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. 
Spoon the sauce evenly over the fish fillets, making sure the fish is completely covered. 
Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish, until it is barely done. (The fish will flake easily at the thickest part when it is done.) 
Be sure not to overcook it! 
 Serve hot or at room temperature with the sauce from the pan spooned over the top.
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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Cilantro Jalapeno Dip

I am itching for spring so badly I can't stand it!

I have stacks of magazines from Burpee's (where I order the seeds for my garden) just sitting there on the counter taunting me with beautiful photos of luscious vegetables and flowers in a warm place far, far away from the Artic Vortex that has hit the Southeastern United States but managed to leave Nashville without hardly any snow!

I know it is too early to be planting the seeds, even if I start them inside, but there is this part of me that just wants to go ahead and buy them like I would ever have the self restraint not to have my kitchen covered in dirt because I got too anxious it because absolutely necessary for me to plant my seeds even though it is 8 below outside!

As you can see, this is a huge source of anxiety for me.  February is the hardest month for me....looking down the barrel of warmer weather with just enough weeks of winter coats and Uggs left to make it seem like an eternity away!

With all of this angst constantly swirling in my mind, I have found a small solution, albeit not one that turns me into a normal human being, but that has always been a little outside the realm of possibilities for this one.  I have started making dishes that I will one day....a long long time away from today...be able to make with the bounty from my garden!!!  This recipe was my first attempt at my self-medication to my gardening anxiety, and I must admit, it worked....sort of....not really....I am kinda lying to myself just so I don't go streaking outside in an attempt to frighten winter away!


Cilantro Jalapeno Dip
6 to 8 jalapenos
1 bushel cilantro (meaning a huge handful)
1 packet of dry Ranch dressing mix
1 cup Sour Cream
1 cup Mayonnaise

Depending on how spicy you want your dip, leave the seeds of your peppers in top make your guests crying with joyful pain or remove all of the seeds like I do with a spoon because you are too much of a whimp when it comes to spicy heat.
Puree the jalapenos and cilantro in a food processor until it looks like a paste
Mix together the cilantro and jalapeno puree mixture with 1 cup of mayonnaise and 1 cup of sour cream mix
Chill for about an hour and serve
I can't wait to try this on burgers and fish tacos!!
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Thursday, February 6, 2014

S'Mores Pumpkin Pie

I am such a sucker for a good dessert!

I try to tell myself that I am not really a "sweets person" but let's just be honest here....you put a chocolate dessert in front of me, a spoon, and a split second and I am DONE!

I think that it is just a bag of potato chips I can't pass up but in reality, it is chocolate as well.  I can't help it!  After a trip to Hershey, PA in the 8th grade, I have forever been sold on the deliciousness that chocolate really is.

As we all know, I don't bake often.  Mostly because there is a true science to including the exact amounts of certain ingredients so that it comes out perfectly.  I have even heard that you are supposed to spoon flour into a measuring cup so that it doesn't make the flour too dense, thus not allowing the said dessert to rise properly...WHAT?  This is FAR too complicated for me!

If I can sip on a glass of wine or a frosting beer while putting something together then it probably isn't going to happen!

When I came across this recipe though, I thought I could give it a try...what is the worst thing that happens? I end up eating raw pumpkin pie filling with a destroyed graham cracker crust and dark chocolate by itself? That is a consequence with which I can deal!

As it turns out I did not ruin it...in fact, it was pretty freaking delicious, albeit incredibly rich!

S'Mores Pumpkin Pie

For Crust:1/2 box (12 cookies) graham crackers, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups crumbs)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For Chocolate Layer:5 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons heavy cream

For Pumpkin Filling:1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch salt
For Marshmallow Topping:2 1/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin (from 1 packet)
1/2 cup cold water, divided
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup, divided
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

To prepare crust, combine graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Add butter and stir with a fork until mixture resembles wet sand. Firmly press crumb mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan. Bake for 4 to 5 minutes or until just set. Let cool slightly.  (If we are being completely honest here, I really just bought a graham cracker crust from the store and it was just fine!)

Combine chopped chocolate and cream in a saucepan. 
Stir over low heat until chocolate is melted and smooth. 
Pour into crust and spread into an even layer in the bottom.
To prepare pumpkin filling, whisk pumpkin with eggs until smooth. 
Whisk in sugar, cream, milk, spices, and salt until evenly incorporated. 
Pour into crust, taking care not to overfill the crust 
(depending on the size of your pie pan you may have a little bit leftover). 
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until center is just set. 
Remove from oven and let cool completely, then refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours or overnight. 
Take out approximately 1 hour before making marshmallow topping to allow any condensation to evaporate.
To prepare marshmallow topping, place 1/4 cup cold water in a small dish. 
Sprinkle gelatin over and let sit for 5 minutes to soften.
Combine sugar, remaining 1/4 cup water, and 1/4 cup corn syrup in a small saucepan. 
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, and boil until mixture reaches 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
Place remaining 1/4 cup corn syrup in the bowl of a stand mixer. Microwave gelatin mixture on high for 5 to 10 seconds or until completely melted, then add to bowl with corn syrup. Turn mixer to low speed, and slowly drizzle in hot sugar syrup. When all the syrup has been added, increase mixer speed to medium-high, and mix for 5 minutes. Add vanilla extract and beat on the highest speed for another 5 minutes, until marshmallow is opaque, glossy, and tripled in volume.
Working quickly, dollop marshmallow mixture onto pie, and use an offset spatula to spread and shape it into a mound. 
Let sit for 20 to 30 minutes to allow the marshmallow to set, then gently toast with a kitchen torch until golden brown and blistered. Serve at room temperature. (Tip: to slice, first run a knife under hot water for 30 seconds; then quickly dry and use it to slice your pie. The warm knife will cut through the marshmallow and chocolate layers much cleaner than a cool knife).
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