30 November 2009

Catch Up on Funny Posts at Dennys Funny Quotes 1 Dec 2009



What'd ya say? I'm so smart? But are you sure about that?

From Denny: OK, so I've been slacking off for the holidays... :) What can I say? I've been in a "food coma"? Nice try; Thanksgiving Day was last week... My only defense would be that food comas take a long time from which to recover, uh, ok, equally lame...

This morning I've been working on Dennys Funny Quotes ever since I found out Blogger only backs up posts. Sweet. All those category lists which took hours and hours to build are basically toast so I've been creating posts of all my categories.

For a grin today take a look at what I've rounded up so far:

Funny Retirement Quotes

Funny Friendship Quotes

Funny Ironic Humor Quotes

Funny Crazy Cat Quotes

Funny Quotes About Quotations

Funny Cooking Quotes

Funny Conan OBrien Quotes

Funny Jay Leno Quotes

Funny Inspirational Quotes

*** Try not to dine too much you might end up in a funny quotes coma! Save room in your mind tummy for tomorrow's Cheeky Quote Day! :)

27 November 2009

Easy Party Foods: Short Ribs and Chicken Pot Pie



From Denny: Warm comfort food at a party only appetizer size, now we're talking! Now this one teaches the simplicity and ease of braising short ribs and then shows you how to portion it out for party food. How to serve chicken pot pie as a party food too.



Braised Short Ribs

From:
Chef Michael Lomonaco, Porter House New York

Serves: 6 – 8

INGREDIENTS

• 6-8 pounds beef short ribs, on the bone, cut into 4 portions for a main course, or 6-8 pieces when served as part of a tasting menu
• 2 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
• 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
• 1 celery stalk, chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
• 1/4 cup tomato paste
• 2 cup red wine
• 3 cups low-sodium, store-bought beef broth
• Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• Bouquet garni seasoning packet: several generous sprigs of fresh or dry rosemary, thyme, oregano, several black peppercorns, 2 -3 bay leaves, 2 or 3 cloves; all enclosed and tied together in culinary grade cheesecloth

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Pour the oil into a wide, deep casserole, set on the stove top over medium heat. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper, add them to the pan, and brown evenly, approximately 5 minutes per side. Transfer the short ribs to a large platter to hold.

3. Add the onion, carrot, and celery to the casserole, brown for 5 minutes to lightly caramelize them. Add garlic, tomato paste, wine, and broth to the pan. Bring the mixture to a rapid boil, add the seasoning packet of bouquet garni and return the short ribs to the casserole, arranged evenly in one layer. The liquid should not cover the short ribs, but rather should rise 2/3rd up the hunks of meat, partially submerging them. If it seems like you have too much braising liquid or the short ribs are too tightly packed together, try dividing the short ribs and liquid among 2 casseroles for more even cooking.

4. Cover the casserole and place in the pre-heated oven, and braise the ribs approximately 2 ½ hours. Keep the meat partially submerged throughout the braising process, Should the braising liquid evaporate too quickly additional beef broth may be added.

5. After 2 ½ hours of cooking pierce the short ribs with a fork; if cooked enough, the fork will meet no resistance. If the meat still feels dense and the fork meets resistance return the casserole to the oven for an additional 30 minutes, checking again for tenderness afterwards.

6. Remove the casserole from the oven and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before transferring the ribs to plate or platter. Degrease the braising liquid, strain it, discard the solids and return the short ribs to the liquid. The short ribs and their sauce can be served immediately; or cool thoroughly, cover and refrigerated for up 3 days. Re-heat thoroughly before serving.

7. Serve the short ribs family-style, passing the reduced braising liquid alongside in a sauce boat.



Chicken Pot Pie with Mushrooms, Tarragon, and a Flaky Pastry Top

From: Chef Michael Lomonaco, Porter House New York

Serves: 6-8

INGREDIENTS

To cook the chicken and make the broth:


• 1 large roaster chicken, 5 – 6 pounds
• Bouquet garni seasoning packet: several generous sprigs of fresh or dry rosemary, thyme, oregano, several black peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, 2 or 3 cloves; all enclosed and tied together in culinary grade cheesecloth
• 1 large onion, peeled, diced
• 2 large carrots, peeled, diced
• 1 stalks celery, diced
• 1 package frozen puff pastry, thawed, kept cold

For the sauce:

• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 3 large shallots, finely minced
• 2 cups assorted mushrooms, shitake, oyster, cremini, sliced and broken up by hand
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 2 tablespoons flour
• 3 cups freshly made chicken broth
• 2 cups heavy cream
• 1 bunch fresh tarragon, leaves chopped
• Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Cook the chicken and make the broth: may be prepared 1 day in advance

1. Wash the chicken under cold, running water and pat dry with paper towels. Put the chicken into a large pot, cover with cold water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, carefully skimming off any impurities that accumulate on the surface.

2. Season with salt and pepper, add the bouquet garni seasoning packet, onion, carrots and celery. When the water returns to the boil, reduce to a persistent simmer and cook, uncovered, for 45 minutes.

3. When the chicken is thourougly cooked remove from the broth and cool. As the chicken cools, strain the broth from the chicken, and reserving the broth, discard the vegetable solids. When the chicken is thoroughly cold, strip off and discard the skin. Strip the meat from the bones, and shred using scrupulously clean hands and an immaculate work station. (If you wish you may now refrigerate the chicken and cooled broth for up to 48 hours.)

TO SERVE:

Pre-heat the oven to 375°F. Bake the Pastry tops

4. Use a pastry cutter dividing the cold puff pastry into 3-inch circles. Cover a cookie sheet with baker’s paper, place the rounds on the paper, and bake in the preheated oven for 5 minutes or until they are nicely browned. Remove the pastry and keep warm.

Make the pot pie filling and finish:

5. Heat the olive oil in a large pot or casserole over medium heat, add the shallots and sauté them. After 3 minutes, add the mushrooms, raise the heat, and cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the butter to the mushrooms, allow to heat and bubble before adding the flour to make a quick roux to thicken the sauce. Add warm chicken broth, stirring in with a whisk; add the cream and bring the liquid to a boil, cook for 10 minutes. To the pot with the mushrooms, chicken broth and cream, add the chicken meat.

Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the tarragon leaves, and transfer to small oven proof dishes or crocks (soufflé dishes will do), top each with a pastry lid and serve at once.

*** For more recipes visit Romancing The Chocolate. Thanksgiving Leftovers Ideas: 3 Entrees, 1 Dessert, Recipes, go here.

*** Thanks for visiting! For more recipes, check out Romancing The Chocolate!

26 November 2009

5 Funny Thanksgiving Quotes, Photos



Trash-talking turkeys just passing the time until someone took them seriously... Photo by stevevoght @ flickr from another of my funny posts: 21 Funny Thanksgiving Fighting Turkey Photos

From Denny: I found some hilarious Thanksgiving Day quotes along with a few smart jokes and LOL holiday poems for this week's Cheeky Quote Day over at The Social Poets blog. Click on the links below for the full post of funnies and the Obama Turkey Pardon Preparation Video. Here's a sampling taste to get you started on your holiday grinning, enjoy!

Quotes

* If you count all your assets, you always show a profit. ~ Robert Quillen

* Here I am 5 o'clock in the morning stuffing bread crumbs up a dead bird's butt. - Roseanne Barr

* It was dramatic to watch my grandmother decapitate a turkey with an ax the day before Thanksgiving. Nowadays the expense of hiring grandmothers for the ax work would probably qualify all turkeys so honored with 'gourmet' status. - Russell Baker

* Thanksgiving is America's national chow-down feast, the one occasion each year when gluttony becomes a patriotic duty. ~ Michael Dresser

* I love Thanksgiving turkey. It's the only time in Los Angeles that you see natural breasts. ~ Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger

*** For more funny holiday quotes, holiday jokes and hilarious poems, the Obama funny video about his first act of turkey pardoning (wonder if it's name is Cheney???) and great holiday recipe links, check out The Social Poets and Cheeky Quote Day, go here.

*** Thanks for visiting and come back often for a grin! :)

25 November 2009

21 Funny Thanksgiving Fighting Turkey Photos

... And this is how you do the Turkey Strut to get some jealous feathers flying!



Photo by stevevoght @ flickr


Trash-talking turkeys just passing the time until someone took them seriously...



Photo by stevevoght @ flickr


Hey, there! Anyone wanna rumble?



Photo by Hey Paul @ flickr


And the lone hearty tail-nipped challenger swaggers in to approach the fight...



Photo by stevevoght @ flickr


Whoa! Hold on there, fella! I'm supposed to be first in line. That's why they call it The Pecking Order!



Photo by stevevoght @ flickr


... And the yard brawl is well under way with lots of shock and awe spectators...



Photo by stevevoght @ flickr


Are those two squaring off already? Show-offs!



Photo by stevevoght @ flickr


You know they mean business to win the kickboxing championship - they pull out the spurs on the back of their feet to fight dirty...



Photo by stevevoght @ flickr


Gotcha! Now you know who's top wing around here, mister!



Photo by stevevoght @ flickr


Head stomping you senseless, buddy! That'll teach you to mess with my woman...



Photo by stevevoght @ flickr


When you're tired all you're left with is neck chomping...



Photo by stevevoght @ flickr


Yeah, we bad, we bad... we love it when we win the fights!



Photo by eye of einstein @ flickr


Last beak dance cuz it's time to kiss and make up, bird brains!



Photo by stevevoght @ flickr


See ya, time to get outta here!



Photo by Hey Paul @ flickr


Hey! We were just watching the fight as bystanders...



Photo by Hey Paul @ flickr


... And we were all getting along so well there for a while...



Photo by Hey Paul @ flickr


Whoa! Time for a pedicure before the big holiday!



Photo by Hey Paul @ flickr


I was voted Most Handsome and Most Likely to End Up on the Dinner Table, isn't that just great?



Photo by Kevin Saff @ flickr


Who says I'm a candidate for ugly.com? You says? Naw, the girls, they love me!



Photo by David Reece @ flickr

... But my two cousins in the next photo are stone cold ugly!



Photo by D'Arcy Norman @ flickr


Prez Obama pardoned me today, whew! Glad to avoid the holiday table one more year. Think I'll vacation in the Hamptons for the season...



Photo by kimjonesphotography @ flickr

*** Thanks for visiting and come back often!

24 November 2009

Creole Seafood Mixed Grill from New Orleans Famed Commanders Palace



Photo by pink_fish13 @ flickr

From Denny: The restaurant owners, the Brennans, are practically a New Orleans institution themselves! They are well loved by the public as much as by those who have worked for them.

The Brennans trained Emeril Lagasse when he was just starting out. Emeril didn't know much, nothing about Cajun cuisine, and his previous employer was so jealous he landed somewhere good that he gave him an ugly "recommendation."

What did he say? He sneered that Emeril was good with the customers and chatted them up too much. Uh... folks, in New Orleans, and Louisiana in particular, that's exactly what a restaurant owner wants: a friendly chef! :)

Like the Brennans said, "Oh, I'm so glad to hear he has good people skills. The rest is easy; we can teach him how to cook Cajun and Creole. Thank you very much!" The rest is history. When Emeril went off to start his own restaurants the Brennans could not have been prouder of him than if he was their own son.

In Louisiana, we frequently do seafood at holiday seasons, like seafood gumbo on Thanksgiving along with the turkey and Christmas Eve along with a turkey or ham!

Creole Seafood Mixed Grill

From: Chef Tory McPhail at Commanders Palace, New Orleans, Louisiana

*** Great American Seafood Cookoff Winning Recipe, featured in Country Roads Magazine (without photos)

Ingredients:

1 lb. Sheepshead fillets, boneless and skinless
1 lb. 10–15 count head on shrimp, peeled and deveined with heads and tails left intact
½ lb. jumbo lump crabmeat, picked free of shells
4 oz. champagne or white wine
1 tbsp hickory sea salt
Black pepper, to taste
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp bacon fat, warmed
1 shallot, minced
1 jalapeño, seeds discarded and minced
1 oz celery, minced
2 cups corn—use a variety if available
1 cup milk
1 cup tomato concasse, small dice
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, picked and chopped
Salt and white pepper to taste
1 oz basil oil
½ cup mixed herbs, or herb sprouts for garnish (optional)

Directions:

Prepare a grill to medium heat and place a medium sauté pan on the stove over medium flame. Season the seafood on all sides and reserve. Next place vegetable oil and bacon fat in the sauté pan and swirl. Add shallots, jalapeño and celery and sauté for 1 minute. Add the corn and continue to sauté for 30 seconds. Add the milk and bring to a simmer. Next place ¼ of the corn into a blender and purée for 20 seconds. Add the puréed corn back to the pan and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes or until corn is cooked through, and at sauce consistency. Finish with fresh tomatoes, thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside and reserve.

To cook the seafood, place the crabmeat and champagne in a small saucepot and place on the hottest part of the grill. Heat the crabmeat for 3-5 minutes before placing the sheepshead and shrimp on the grill around the pot. Cook the fish and shrimp for approximately 3 minutes per side, until cooked. Make sure the crabmeat comes to a simmer also and swirl to make sure it’s hot all the way through.

To finish, spoon the corn into the middle of 4 hot entrée plates. Place the sheepshead down next and add 2-3 shrimp to the top of that. Spoon the warm crabmeat over the shrimp and into the corn sauce. Drizzle remaining corn sauce around the plate and garnish with basil oil and fresh herbs.

*** Thanks for visiting and have a great Thanksgiving! :)

22 November 2009

Video: Chicago Chef Jimmy Bannos Cajun Thanksgiving Menu of 12 Recipes

From Denny: There's a full Southern and Cajun menu here right down to the collard greens (full of calcium as well as vitamins B and C)and the roasted garlic mashed potatoes. He includes the jerk seasoning mix and marinade so you can make it yourself if you prefer along with a recipe for Cajun seasoning.

This chef may have a restaurant in Chicago but he knows the Southern trick of using Kitchen Bouquet to rub into the turkey to give an evenly browned color.

In the video he has a complete Thanksgiving table of wonderful side dishes but did not give all the recipes to The Today Show. Then he relented and gave his turkey and mushroom etouffee and red beans and rice and other recipes to us on his site HeavenOnSeven.com. This is a wonderful stash of awesome recipes! What I like best is that he provides us with his version of Cajun seasoning mix and the jerk seasonings. Cooking these recipes this holiday will sure make you popular with everyone! Enjoy!





Jimmy Bannos’ Jamaican Jerk Thanksgiving Turkey with Jerk Cream Sauce

From: Chef Jimmy Bannos at Heaven on Seven (HeavenonSeven.com)

INGREDIENTS

• 1 15-18 lb Turkey
• 2 lbs Plugra butter (or other European style high-fat content butter)
• 2 Tablespoons Angel Dust Cajun Seasoning (recipe follows)
• 2 Tablespoons Jamaican Jerk Seasoning (recipe follows)
• 1 Cup Jamaican Jerk Marinade (recipe follows)
• 1 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet
• Jerk Cream (recipe follows)

DIRECTIONS

The night before roasting the turkey, rub the bird with the Jerk Marinade, inside and out. Rub the outside with Angel Dust and Jamaican Jerk Seasoning. Refrigerate overnight.

Cut one pound of butter into cubes. Carefully work your fingers between the skin and the meat of the breast. Work butter cubes in between and distribute evenly.

Melt the last pound of butter, stir in the Kitchen Bouquet. Place the turkey in a deep roasting pan. Gradually pour melted butter over the bird, massaging the mixture into the skin as you go.

Place the turkey into a preheated 450 degree oven and roast for one hour uncovered. After the first hour, cover with aluminum foil and continue to roast until done (approx. 15 minutes per pound). Baste the bird every half hour to ensure a crisp, golden skin.



Angel Dust Cajun Seasoning

INGREDIENTS

• 3 tablespoons Hungarian paprika
• 1 1/2 tablespoons Spanish paprika
• 5 teaspoons salt
• 1 1/4 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
• 1 1/4 teaspoons dried oregano
• 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
• 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
• 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
• 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1/8 teaspoon onion powder

DIRECTIONS

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. Use as needed and store in an airtight container for up to 2 months.



Dry Rub Jerk Seasoning

INGREDIENTS

• 2 Tablespoons onion powder
• 1 Tablespoon ground allspice
• 1 Tablespoon ground thyme
• 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
• 2 teaspoons ground cloves
• 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
• 1 teaspoon ground coriander
• 1 teaspoon ground habanero chile powder
• 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1/2 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
• 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1/4 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Store in an airtight container. The mix can be kept for up to two months.



Jimmy's Jamaican Jerk Marinade

INGREDIENTS


• 2 Tablespoons ground allspice
• 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1/2 cup sliced green onions, white and green parts
• 1 Tablespoon seeded, chopped habanero chile
• 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
• 2 Tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
• 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed Key Lime, or regular lime juice
• 2 Tablespoons canola oil
• 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
• 1 Tablespoon dark rum
• 1 1/2 teaspoons peeled, grated fresh ginger
• 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
• 1 1/2 teaspoons cane syrup or light molasses
• 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
• 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
• 3/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
• 1/2 teaspoon habanero hot pepper sauce
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

DIRECTIONS

Prepare the marinade by adding the allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves to a small skillet. Heat the spices over medium-low heat for 45 to 60 seconds, stirring frequently. Transfer to a coffee grinder and grind to a fine powder. Put the spice mixture and the remaining ingredients in to a blender and puree into a thick paste. Store in a covered container and refrigerate for up to a week.



Jerk Cream Sauce

INGREDIENTS


• 2 1/2 cups Heavy Cream
• 1 Tablespoon Jimmy’s Jamaican Jerk Marinade (recipe follows)
• 2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
• 1/2 teaspoon Roasted Garlic Puree (recipe follows)
• 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
• 1/4 teaspoon Hungarian Paprika
• 1/4 teaspoon Spanish Paprika
• 1/4 teaspoon Chile Powder
• 1/8 teaspoon Angel Dust Cajun Seasoning (recipe follows)
• 1/8 teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
• 1/8 teaspoon Ground White Pepper
• 1/8 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
• 2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, chilled and cut in pieces

DIRECTIONS

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over high heat. When the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer, return it to the saucepan and stir in the butter. Set aside.



Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

INGREDIENTS


• 1 1/2 pounds small Yukon Gold potatoes
• 1 cup heavy whipping cream
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1 tablespoon Roasted Garlic Puree (recipe follows)
• 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper

DIRECTIONS

Scrub potatoes. Boil in salted water for 30 minutes. Drain. Cool slightly until potatoes can be handled comfortably, then peel and transfer to a large bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the cream, butter, and garlic puree until mixture just comes to a boil. Pour over the potatoes while mashing with a potato masher. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.



Collard Greens

INGREDIENTS


• 4 pounds fresh collard greens
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 1 1/2 cups diced yellow onion
• 2 tablespoons Roasted Garlic Puree
• 1 tablespoon seeded, minced jalapeno
• 1 cup shredded pickled pork
• 1/2 cup diced tasso ham
• 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
• 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
• 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
• 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon Angel Dust Cajun Seasoning
• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
• 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
• 3 cups water
• 1 cup bottled Italian dressing

DIRECTIONS

Wash the collard greens several times in a large quantity of water; drain well. Pull the thick center core out of each leaf and discard; tear leaves into medium-sized pieces. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat; sauté the onions until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic puree and jalapeno and cook another minute. Add the pork and ham, and brown for 3 minutes. Mix in the vinegar, sugars, Cajun seasoning, salt, red pepper flakes, and ground black and white peppers, stirring to coat the onions and meat. Add the greens, water, and dressing to the pot. Toss the greens as they begin to cook down and the liquid comes to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 hour and 25 minutes.



Went over to his website, HeavenOnSeven.com, to get the rest of the recipes he didn't give to The Today Show:

TURKEY AND WILD MUSHROOM ÉTOUFFÉE

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless turkey breast, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 tablespoon plus ¼ teaspoon Heaven on Seven Angel Dust Cajun Seasoning
2 tablespoons finely diced tasso ham
2 tablespoons shredded pickled pork or shredded smoked pork shoulder butt
3 tablespoons diced yellow onion
3 tablespoons diced red onion
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion – green & white parts
2 teaspoons roasted-garlic puree
1 cup seeded, diced green bell pepper
1/3 cup diced celery
2 teaspoons seeded, minced jalapeño
¼ teaspoon Hungarian paprika
¼ teaspoon Spanish paprika
1/8 teaspoon chile powder
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 small bay leaf
1-1/2 cups chicken stock
1 (5.5-ounce) can tomato juice
¼ cup blond roux
8 ounces Shiitake mushrooms, destemmed and sliced
8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
Sweet Potato Polenta (recipe follows)

Directions:

In a 5-quart heavy Dutch oven, preferably enameled cast iron, heat the oil over high heat.

Season the turkey with 1 tablespoon of the Cajun seasoning, add to the Dutch oven, and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the ham and the pork; cook for 2 more minutes. Sir in the onions and garlic puree; cook for an additional 2 minutes.

Add the bell pepper, celery, jalapeno, Hungarian and Spanish paprikas, chile powder, ground black and white peppers, red pepper flakes, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce, bay leaf, and remaining ¼ teaspoon Cajun seasoning.

Stir to coat the meat and vegetables with the seasonings. Pour in the stock and tomato juice and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for 50 minutes. Whisk in the roux. Add the Shiitakes and cook for 2 minutes; add the mushrooms and continue cooking for 3 minutes. Stir in the butter.

To serve, mound ½ cup of Sweet Potato Polenta in the center of a plate or large bowl and spoon the etouffee around it. Enjoy!

* Note that this recipe makes a thick etouffee; to make it slightly thinner, decrease the roux by 1 tablespoon.



SWEET POTATO POLENTA

Serves:
4

Ingredients:

10 ounces sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
3 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 1/3 cups heavy whipping cream
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup instant polenta
1/8 teaspoon salt
Pinch of white pepper

Directions:

Place the potatoes in a small baking pan, toss with the maple syrup, and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until soft. Scrape potatoes and syrup into the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth.

Heat the cream and butter over medium heat in a 3-quart saucepan. When the cream begins to simmer, slowly whisk in the polenta. Add the salt and pepper and continue stirring for 7 minutes. Mix in the pureed sweet potatoes until completely incorporated and heat through. Cover and set aside.



CORN BREAD

Serves:
6 to 8 people

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely ground corn flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg
1 1/3 cups milk
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon bacon drippings, optional

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 by 8-inch baking pan. Combine the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg, then whisk in the milk, butter and bacon drippings.

Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and mix until smooth. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake 50 minutes, until golden brown. Cool slightly before cutting.



RED BEANS AND RICE

Ingredients:


1 pound dried light red kidney beans
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ pound Andouille sausage, thinly sliced
1 8-ounce fresh pork hock
¾ cup diced tasso ham
½ cup shredded pickled pork or shredded smoked pork shoulder butt (optional)
½ cup seeded, finely diced green bell pepper
1/3 cup finely diced celery
¼ cup finely diced yellow onion
¼ cup finely diced red onion
2 Tablespoons thinly sliced green onion, white and green parts
1 ½ teaspoons seeded, minced jalapeno
2 teaspoons Roasted Garlic Puree (see recipe)
1 small bay leaf
2 teaspoons Angel Dust Cajun Seasoning
¾ teaspoon Kosher salt
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
8 cups water
½ teaspoon file powder
Cooked white rice
Chopped parsley for garnish

Directions:

Soak beans overnight in a large quantity of water. Drain before cooking.

Heat oil in a 6 quart Dutch oven over high heat. Add Andouille and sauté for 1 minute. Add the pork hock, ham and pork; cook for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the bell pepper, celery, onions, jalapeno, garlic puree and bay leaf; cook for 10 minutes, until vegetables are soft.

Add beans, Cajun seasoning, salt, oregano, basil, ground black and white peppers and red pepper flakes, stirring to coat mixture with the seasonings.

Pour in the water, return the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 2 hours. Uncover and continue cooking about 1 hour, until the beans are cooked through. Stir occasionally, adding water if necessary.

Remove from the heat and stir in the file powder. Remove the pork hock, remove any meat attached to the bone; chop the meat finely, and stir it into the cooked beans. Remove the bay leaf.
Serve the beans in a bowl with a small portion of cooked rice; garnish with the parsley.



BOURBON MASHED SWEET POTATOES

Ingredients:


3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered
½ cup Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Steen’s Cane Syrup, to taste
1 ½ oz Jack Daniel’s

Directions:

Boil sweet potatoes in salted water for 30 minutes. Drain. Cool slightly until potatoes can be handled comfortably and transfer to a large bowl. Add Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes and mash with a potato masher until incorporated. Gradually add Cane Syrup until sweetened to taste, then Jack Daniels. Mix in thoroughly. Serve immediately.

*** For a wide variety of turkey recipes:

Video: Unusual Exotic Thanksgiving Menu, Poll on Turkey Vs. Sides Debate

6 Easy Turkey Thanksgiving Recipes and Gravy, Roasting Tips and Advice

Video: 8 Cajun Thanksgiving Turkey Recipes, BBQ Turkey, Deep Fry Turkey, Roasting Tips

*** Check out New York Times and their ideas for Thanksgiving Day where Mark Bittman has all kinds of creative ideas for side dishes for you: 101 Head Starts on the Day

For a typical Louisiana sweet: Louisiana Culture: Heavenly Hash Cake

*** Thanks for visiting!

21 November 2009

Funny Editorial Cartoons 21 Nov 2009



From Denny: Every Saturday I round up the best editorial cartoons of the week. They sure do lampoon the latest news! This week women have been up in arms angry at new health care guidelines which sounded really lame. There is the controversy over bringing Gitmo terrorists onto American soil to hang 'em in the New York courts just blocks away from the still destroyed Twin Towers area. Comments about Prez Obama's trips to Japan and China, too much bowing and nice-nice for most cartoonists apparently. Plenty of cartoonists lampooning Congress about health care.

Be sure to check out the funny video of Comedy Central's Jon Stewart lampooning the Palin book tour and the GOP in general. There are real news headline links to check out about the book tour farce and how Palin has already stiffed her fans, leaving them hanging literally out in the cold for hours in the rain in Indiana. They were not happy campers at all. Well, that's what you get when your hero is a fantasy: reality face slaps.

So, hike on over to The Social Poets where I park those cartoons every week and enjoy yourself today! BTW, thanks, everyone for visiting. You have been coming by the thousands, quite the unexpected turnout for my comedy parties, thank you! I'll make sure I order more appetizers for my hungry hordes... :)

This Weeks Editorial Cartoons 21 Nov 2009

20 November 2009

Video: 8 Cajun Thanksgiving Turkey Recipes, BBQ Turkey, Deep Fry Turkey, Roasting Tips



From Denny: Thanksgiving is fast approaching and there are those first time cooks who have yet to roast, brine or deep fry a turkey. With simple recipes like these your anxiety level will go down fast. These recipes are also a great resource for the experienced cook who would like to take a look at trying something different and want to compare the recipes all in one place.

Do yourself a favor and roast or deep fry a small turkey in the size range of 10 - 12 pounds. It takes less time and tends to be moister meat. Many experienced cooks roast 2 or 3 smaller turkeys for large family gatherings during the holidays...



I Love Louisiana Heart Men's Fitted T-Shirt


I Heart Louisiana tee to tell the world where you have traveled



19 November 2009

Catch Up on This Weeks 51 Posts At Dennys Blogs 17 Nov 2009



From Denny: After a year of blogging, I turned around and suddenly realized I've been producing a lot of content. Nor am I silly enough to think you check in every day with every blog. :) So, in case you missed anything this week, here's a menu of various posts all in one place for an easy read - and bookmark - so you can read when you feel like it:

From The Social Poets:

Roundup of Sunday Funnies 16 Nov 2009

Life Advice Poem by Rudyard Kipling

This Weeks Editorial Cartoons 14 Nov 2009

Reflections of That Moment - Libations Friday! 13 Nov 2009

5 Powerful Soul Affirmations, Soul Journey Poem

Funny Money Advice - Cheeky Quote Day! 11 Nov 2009

Musicians Are Territorial Animals, Funny Post by David Thomas

Roundup of Late Night Funnies, Cartoons 9 Nov 2009

From the funny posts at Dennys Funny Quotes and Ouch Outrageous Obnoxious And Odd:


From Dennys Funny Quotes:

Funny Secret to Longevity Photo and Story

10 Funny Love Quotes, Funny Cat Photo

Funny Money Advice, Cheeky Quote Day at The Social Poets

Video: Weirdest American Gluttony Foods

3 Paradoxically Funny Head Scratching Quotes

Awww, 7 Funny Dog Photos to Make You Laugh

What's stupidly popular at Dennys Funny Quotes these days:

42 Monday Morning Funny Coffee Quotes, Coffee Cartoon

25 Weird Coffee Trivia to Astound and Amuse You

10 Funny Work Quotes for Monday Morning

5 Monday Morning Posts to Get You Laughing!

From Ouch Outrageous Obnoxious And Odd:

9 Funny Socially Inappropriate Store Signs - what gets lost in translation from Chinese or Japanese into English, some really tacky ones!

Ouch! Best Love Story in Three Pictures: Prez Bush and Sec Condi Rice - a bit silly.

Outrageous Video: Overview of World Censorship on the Web - serious look at how content is heavily censored and in which countries, interesting overview.

First Lady Michelle Obama on Leno Show - how the Obamas don't take themselves too seriously.

Odd News Video: Liquor Warehouse Implodes in Russia

Weird News: Man in Breathalizer Costume Arrested by Police

10 Outrageous Glenn Beck Quotes That Prove Insanity

From the food blogs, Romancing The Chocolate and Comfort Food From Louisiana:

From Romancing The Chocolate:

Savory Chocolate Recipe: Mini Hamburger Sliders with Sauce

Chocolate Trivia from Horror Director Hitchcock

Video: Cool Food Gifts for the Holidays, Southern Sweet Chocolate Coconut Pie Recipe

3 Quick Awesome Chocolate Recipes for the Holidays

Chocolate Trivia - Who Are the Biggest Chocolate Gluttons on the Planet?

Warm Chocolate Pudding Cake

From Comfort Food From Louisiana:

Video and Recipes: Holiday Challah and Ciabatta Stuffings, Vegetarian and Sausage

Cajun Joke: Boat For Sale by Beaudreaux and Thibodeaux

Video and Recipes: 3 Fabulous New Orleans Sweets

Cajun Joke: Boudreaux and Thibodeaux Fix Destroyed New Orleans Levee

Video: Unbelievable, OK, Weird, Foods and Recipes

Cajun Joke: Boudreaux and Thibodeaux Play Golf

Video and Recipes: Lobster Grits Polenta, Turkey Andouille Sausage Grits Casserole

Coca-Cola Glazed Baby Back Ribs

From Beautiful Illustrated Quotations:


Life is a Gift!

Whats Your Attitude Toward Life?

Veterans Day Quote, Links to Memorial Poems, Peace Quotes

3 Wonderful Quotes About Joy

5 Powerful Soul Affirmations, Soul Journey Poem

How Do You Know If You Have a Weak Mind?

When Something Inside You Dies, Do You Know How to Renew Your Life?

Do You Sell Your Soul For Others Admiration?

From The Healing Waters:

Video: Tim McGraw Making a Difference

Video: Halle Berry Making a Difference for Battered Women

The Perfect Work Quote to Keep Your Head Straight on Monday Mornings

Video: Awareness, and Gibran Quote

*** Thanks for visiting and come back often! :)

18 November 2009

7 Funny Quotes About Reading Habits



Reading Upside Down Photo by garryknight @ flickr

From Denny: Today, and every Wednesday, is Cheeky Quote Day over at The Social Poets, one of my many blogs where I dance on the airwaves. Here's a sampling of what's going on today:

Quotes

* A classic is something that everybody wants to have read
and nobody wants to read. ~ Mark Twain ~

* Never lend books, for no one ever returns them;
the only books I have in my library are books
that other folks have left me. ~ Anatole France ~

* I read the newspaper avidly. It is my one form of continuous fiction. ~ Aneurin Bevan ~

* Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore? ~ Henry Ward Beecher ~

* Outside a dog, a book is man's best friend.
Inside a dog, it's too dark to read.
~ Groucho Marx ~

* Books are the blessed chloroform of the mind. ~ Robert Chambers ~

* Never judge a book by its movie.
~ J. W. Eagan ~


*** To read a bonanza of funny quotes like this, hike on over to The Social Poets for Cheeky Quote Day to get some more grins, go here.

*** Thanks for visiting and come back often! :)

17 November 2009

Video and Recipes: Holiday Challah and Ciabatta Stuffings, Vegetarian and Sausage

From Denny: The race is on to find and try new twists on holiday favorites and stuffings are right there at the top of the list!

The first recipe is for vegetarians which is a welcome sight on the holiday table for relatives who are vegetarians. Easy to make for the cook too, a real win-win. It's made with buttery challah bread and tasty cremini mushrooms, sure to win over the carnivores too! I'd use clarified butter in this both for health reasons and flavor.

This second recipe is calling my name this season too: ciabatta bread with chorizo sausage (I might substitute a local brand, Richard's (Ree-chards), that does a wonderful turkey sausage), shitake mushrooms and sweet potatoes. What a great way to incorporate sweet potatoes in a new way! The seasonings are olive oil, rosemary (so fragrant!) and loads of garlic (awesome!).

While you can use these to stuff a turkey, I don't advise it. Why? Too much bacteria to worry about and it also slows down the cooking time - and it's also too gooey as a finished product. What we like at our house is to bake the stuffing as a casserole in a thin layer so you get lots of crusty topping!



THE RECIPES from food52.com

Challah, mushroom and celery stuffing


From: Chefs Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs

Serves: 12

INGREDIENTS

• 1 large loaf of challah or brioche
• 2 cup celery, diced
• 2 cup onion, diced
• 2 cup cremini mushroom, diced
• 8-10 sprigs thyme, chopped
• 3 sprig rosemary, chopped
• 0.25 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
• 3 cup vegetable stock, preferably homemade
• 3 ounce butter
• 4 ounce melted butter
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

DIRECTIONS

1. Cut the challah into 1-inch cubes. Leave the cubes out on a parchment lined sheet pan on the counter to get stale, at least overnight, and preferably 2 days.

2. Melt 3 oz. of butter in a large heavy saute pan. Saute the onions until wilted, add the herbs, celery and mushrooms and cook until just slightly cooked through.

3. In a large bowl, combine bread cubes, vegetables, melted butter and vegetable stock, and salt and pepper. Test for seasoning and adjust.

4. Press stuffing into a large buttered baking dish. Cover with buttered parchment, and then foil. At this point, the stuffing can be held for several hours, but should be at room temperature before baking.

5. Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes, the last 10-15 minutes without the foil and parchment to crisp the surface.



Ciabatta stuffing with chorizo, sweet potato and mushrooms

From:
Chefs Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs

Serves: 6 to 8

INGREDIENTS

• 9 cup Ciabatta bread, cubed into 1-inch pieces
• 14 sage leaves, divided into 4 and 10, chopped
• 2 tablespoon rosemary
• 1 medium red onion, diced
• 3 cup sweet potato, small dice (about 1 large potato)
• 5 cup shitake mushrooms (or your favorite mix), sliced
• 1 cup dried chorizo, small dice
• 2 - 2.5 cups chicken or turkey stock (or broth)
• 1 egg
• 4 tablespoon melted fat - butter, schmaltz, or turkey drippings
• salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat the over to 375 degrees.

2. Toss the bread cubes with 4 sage leaves, rosemary, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread on baking sheet and bake until golden and toasty. Remove from oven and put in large bowl or container. (They are great for a little snack as you continue with the recipe.)

3. In a large pan, saute the chorizo in a little olive oil until golden. The chorizo is already cooked but it's nice to render the fat and get it a little crispy. Remove chorizo with a slotted soup to the bowl with the bread.

4. Next, saute the mushrooms in the chorizo fat (adding a little olive oil if necessary) and add salt and pepper to taste. Remove to bowl with bread.

5. Next, add some olive oil as the mushrooms most definitely sucked up all the fat. Saute the onion until soft and golden and add salt and pepper to taste. Add to the bowl with the bread.

6. Lastly, saute the sweet potato (adding oil as necessary) and salt and pepper to taste. You don't need to cook the potato through as it will cook in the oven but it's good to get a little color on it.

7. Whisk 2 cups of stock or broth with the egg and salt and pepper. Pour into the bowl of bread, etc., add the remaining sage, 2 tablespoons of the fat, and toss thoroughly until evenly moistened. You may need to add up to an additional 1/2 cup of stock but don't overdo it. You have been seasoning all along but you may want to taste for seasoning and adjust the salt and pepper.

8. Pour into a baking dish — a 9x13 or an oval gratin pan. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. This allows the bread to really absorb the stock and makes for a moist interior and crunchy top.

9. Bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove foil, brush top with remaining 2 tablespoons of fat, and bake for 15 more minutes. You may want to broil the top for the last few minutes so the top gets nice and crispy but be sure to watch it carefully.

*** Thanks for visiting and come back often! :)

14 November 2009

Video: Halle Berry Making a Difference for Battered Women

From Denny: If you missed this segment you will definitely want to watch it. Halle Berry grew up with an abusive father who battered her mother. Today, the actress is helping other women get strong, help heal them and their children and build new - and confident - lives.

13 November 2009

Cajun Joke: Boat For Sale by Beaudreaux and Thibodeaux



Bozo Sapien Photo by I'm Fantastic @ flickr

From Denny: This Cajun joke is in dialect and so I put a few translations behind some of the questionable words for readers for whom English is a second language.

BOAT FOR SALE

Thibodaux marches up to Beaudreaux’s front porch and wraps (knocks) hard on the door so, of course, Beaudreaux opens it to greet his friend.

Thibodaux say, “Beaudreaux! How long we ban frands?” (been friends)

Beaudreaux say, “Well, all our lives Thibodeaux.”

Thibodaux say, “Why don’t you told me you gotta boat?”

Beaudreaux say, “I ain't gotta boat!”

Thibodaux say, “Da’ sign say: 'BOAT FOR SALE.'"

Beaudreaux say, "Oh, no, Thibodaux!” See dat old ‘72 Ford
pick 'em up truck over dare?” (over there)

Thibodaux say, “yas, I see dat old pick 'em up truck” (pick-up truck)

Beaudreaux say, “See dat ‘76 Cheverloet Ce-dan?” (sedan)

Thibodaux say, “yas, I see dat Ce-dan.”

Beaudreaux say, “Well, dey boat for sale (they are both for sale)

*** Thanks for visiting and come back often! :)

Video and Recipes: 3 Fabulous New Orleans Sweets



To take a look or purchase, go here.

From Denny: From a pastry chef's old email address to the title of a book comes Dam Good Sweet: Desserts to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth! (And good news: Amazon books has marked it down, along with free shipping. Would make a lovely holiday gift for that special baker in your life.)

We love Red Velvet Cake with cream cheese icing around here (and at our house especially). Individual apple pies are a national favorite; see how easy it is to make your own. Now this Sweet Potato Tart sounds like a divine new twist on how to use sweet potatoes this holiday for more than just as a mashed side dish or casserole. Recipes follow the video, enjoy!







Fried apple pies

From: David Guas, pastry chef

Makes: 18 mini pies

INGREDIENTS

For the dough

• 4 cups all-purpose flour plus more for rolling
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 3/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) vegetable shortening, melted and cooled
• 2 large eggs
• 3/4 cup whole milk

For the filling

• 1/2 cup apple cider or apple juice
• 1 tablespoon cornstarch
• 5 firm, juicy apples (preferably Braeburn), peeled, cored, and diced into 1/4-inch cubes
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (preferably freshly ground)
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 vanilla bean, halved widthwise
• 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
• Peanut oil for frying
• Confectioners' sugar

DIRECTIONS

To make the dough

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer (use a large bowl if mixing by hand). Add the melted shortening, eggs and milk. Using the paddle attachment, mix the dough on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened.

Increase the speed to medium and knead the dough until it is no longer sticky, about 2 to 3 minutes, adding more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, if the dough seems very wet or sticky. (If mixing by hand, it will take about 5 minutes to knead the dough.) Divide the dough in half, wrap each half in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour (because the dough turns gray, it is best used within 6 hours of making; see "Make Ahead" on the facing page for freezing instructions).

To make the filling

Meanwhile, make the apple filling. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk 1/4 cup of the apple juice or cider with the cornstarch in a small bowl and set aside. Place the apples, sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon in a large bowl. Wrap one-half of the vanilla bean well in plastic wrap, and reserve for another use. Slice the remaining half lengthwise down the middle. Open the pod and use the knife to scrape out the seeds; discard the pod. Add the seeds to the apples and toss with the sugar and spices.

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Once melted, let the butter simmer for 20 seconds, then stir in the apples. Cook with a lid askew until the apples start to soften, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of apple juice or cider and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced by half, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in the cornstarch slurry and cook until the mixture is thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet (or a large bowl) and cool to room temperature, and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold.

To make the piecrusts

Once the apples have chilled, make the piecrusts. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place a small dish of water next to your work surface. Generously flour the work surface and roll one dough ball into a 1/8-inch-thick circle. Use a 3 1/2- to 4-inch biscuit or cookie cutter to cut out rounds from the dough. Place the circles on the prepared baking sheet, cover with a sheet of parchment paper and place them in the refrigerator to keep cool. Set the dough scraps aside and reflour your work surface.

Repeat with the second piece of dough and refrigerate the stamped-out rounds. Press all of the scraps together, roll them into a 1/8-inch-thick circle, cut out rounds, and refrigerate. Discard the leftover scraps. (Discard the scraps after rolling the second time; the dough gets too tough to roll a third time.)

To assemble the pies

Place 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of cold apple filling in the center of each dough circle. Using your finger or a pastry brush, moisten the edge of the bottom half of the circle with water and fold the top half over, bringing the edges together and pressing them tightly to seal. Using firm pressure, crimp the edges of the dough using an upturned fork. Refrigerate the filled pies while you heat the oil. (The pies can be made up to 6 hours before frying.)

Line a plate with paper towels. Pour enough peanut oil into a large pot to fill it to a 3-inch depth and bring to a temperature of 375°F over high heat. Fry a few turnovers (you don't want to fry too many at one time, otherwise the temperature of the oil will drop and the turnovers will become greasy) until all sides are golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes, turning them over often. Transfer to the prepared plate to drain while you fry the remaining turnovers. Serve warm or at room temperature with plenty of confectioners' sugar on top.

Make ahead

The apple filling can be made up to two days ahead, and the stamped-out dough circles can be frozen for up to six months. Freeze the dough circles flat on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet (if you need to stack the dough, separate the layers with parchment paper). Once frozen solid, transfer the circles to a resealable freezer bag. To use, return the circles to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, cover them with another sheet, defrost in your refrigerator overnight, and then fill. The filled and crimped pies can be refrigerated for up to six hours before frying.





To take a look or purchase, go here.



Red velvet cake

From: David Guas, pastry chef

Makes: one 9-inch cake

INGREDIENTS

For the cake

• 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 3 cups plus 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 (1-pound) box light brown sugar (about 2 1/4 cups)
• 3 tablespoons red food coloring
• 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 3 large eggs
• 1 3/4 cups buttermilk

For the frosting

• 1 1/4 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
• 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1 (2-pound) bag confectioners' sugar

DIRECTIONS

To make the cake

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9-inch cake pans with 1 tablespoon of butter each. Add 2 tablespoons of the flour to each pan and shake the pans to coat the bottom and sides. Tap out the excess flour and set the pans aside.

Sift the remaining 3 cups of flour with the cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand mixer) cream the remaining butter with the brown sugar, food coloring, and vanilla on low to combine. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until aerated and pale, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium and add the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly between each addition and using a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary. Reduce the speed to low and add one-third of the dry ingredients followed by half of the buttermilk. Repeat, finishing with the final third of the dry mix. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl and divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans, spreading it out as evenly as possible.

Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean and the center of the cake resists slight pressure, about 40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, and then run a paring knife around the edges of each pan to release the cake from the sides; invert the cakes onto the cooling rack. Cool for 1 hour, and then wrap each cake in plastic wrap for at least a few hours.

To make the frosting

Beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together in the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand mixer) on low speed to combine. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until aerated and light, about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and add a few cups of the confectioners' sugar, incorporating it into the cream cheese mixture on low speed until combined. Repeat with the remaining sugar, adding it to the mixer in two additions. Once all of the sugar is added, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until fluffy, about 1 minute.

To assemble the cake

Unwrap the cake layers. Slice off the rounded top 1/8 inch of each cake and place the trimmed-away portion in the bowl of a food processor. Slice each cake in half horizontally (you'll end up with 4 layers), working over a baking sheet to catch any crumb. Add the crumbs to the food processor and pulse until fine.

Place one cake layer on a cake round or large plate (make sure that the diameter of the plate is at least 1 inch larger than the cake). Use an offset spatula to evenly spread a heaping 3/4 cup of frosting on the first cake layer. Repeat with the remaining three cake layers, ending with a bottom half of a cake on top, browned-side up (so you don't get cake crumbs in the frosting). Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake (the sides don't have to look perfect — you're going to cover them with cake crumbs anyway). Gently press a handful of the reserved crumbs into the side of the cake until all of the sides are evenly coated. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Make ahead

You can make the cake layers up to three days in advance. The filled and frosted cake keeps for up to three days in the refrigerator. Let it stand at room temperature for at least 20 minutes before slicing.

Variation: Red velvet cupcakes

Follow the recipe above, making a half-batch of the batter (unless you have two 12-cup muffin tins, in which case you can make a full-size batch) and decreasing the baking powder to 1 teaspoon. Bake until the cupcakes are domes and resist slight pressure, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool completely before frosting with a half batch of the cream cheese frosting.





Sweet potato tart tatin

From: David Guas, pastry chef

Serves: 6

INGREDIENTS

• 1 sheet all-butter store-bought puff pastry, thawed
• 3/4 cup sugar plus 1 tablespoon for pastry
• 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (try to buy potatoes of relatively even width and few bulges), peeled, ends removed, and sliced into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
• 1 large egg
• 1 tablespoon milk
• Ice cream for serving (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the puff pastry sheet on your work surface and cut out a 10-inch circle. Set the circle onto the prepared baking sheet. Prick the pastry all over with a fork and refrigerate.

Place 3/4 cup of sugar in a small saucepan and cover with 1/4 cup of water. Gently stir with a spoon to make sure all of the sugar is wet (it should have the consistency of wet sand), place a cover on slightly askew, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Keep the mixture covered until the syrup is clear and producing syrupy-looking medium-size bubbles, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the cover and continue to cook until the sugar is a light butterscotch color and its temperature reaches 320 degrees F. Turn off the heat (the sugar will continue to cook in the pan even though the heat is off). Once the temperature reaches 350°F (this will take only a few minutes), whisk in the butter, 1/2 tablespoon (1 piece) at a time, waiting until each addition is completely incorporated before adding the next. Stir in the vanilla and the salt, and pour the caramel into a 10-inch cast iron skillet.

Cover the caramel with the sliced potatoes, starting in the center and overlapping in a spiraling outward circle as you go. Top with the puff pastry circle. Beat the egg and the milk together and brush over the pastry, and then sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar. Bake until the edges are deep amber and the pastry is puffed and golden, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a large plate (make sure the diameter of the plate is larger than 10 inches!). Slice into wedges and serve with or without ice cream.

TIPS

To make life easier, I use store-bought puff pastry. Try to source an all-butter kind, like Dufour, which gives the tart a rich flavor and tender texture.



To take a look or purchase, go here.

*** Thanks for visiting and come back often! :)
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