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Archive for the ‘Special Occasion’ Category

I thought these cupcakes would be the perfect thing to share in celebration of my second blogiversary! Since I launched Bakin’ and Eggs two years ago I have posted over 200 recipes, including 68 from Gourmet Magazine. I love that my blog allows me to share recipes with friends, family and readers from all over and also that Brandon and I now have a great resource of all our favorite recipes.

While we’re on the topic of my second blogiversary, I want to use this opportunity to discuss the future of this blog. Many of you know that I launched a healthy living blog back in April. Since then I have been asked many times if I am going to combine the blogs. As of right now, I have no plans to do that. I like that Bakin’ and Eggs is dedicated to recipes and that I have the freedom to publish anything I want without feeling that it has to fit in the “healthy living” bubble. And while my version of healthy living includes all things in moderation, I know that it wouldn’t work for everyone to see things like cupcakes and macaroni and cheese on Peanut Butter Runner.

Enough serious talk…let’s get to the cupcakes. ;)

I made these a few weeks ago for my niece’s first birthday. I will admit that I much prefer baking cakes and cupcakes to decorating them but when there’s a special occasion I can’t resist. Luckily, Brandon is very creative and helps tons when I take on these baking projects.

The simplicity and cuteness of the piglets and frogs seemed like a great fit for a first birthday party and the pink and green color scheme gave them a fun and girly touch. I used vanilla cake for the piglets and dark chocolate for the frogs to offer a flavor choice. I iced them both with buttercream that I colored with food coloring.

They were a hit with everyone at the party…including the birthday girl!

One Year Ago: Flourless Chocolate Cake (my first blogiversary!)
Two Years Ago: Dad’s Chili (my very first recipe!)

Piglet Cupcakes
(Inspiration from Parenting)

Ingredients:

Cupcakes (your choice of flavor)
Vanilla buttercream
Red food coloring
Black decorating icing (you can buy this in a tube)
Large pink marshmallows
Chocolate chips
Pink decorating sugar

Directions:

Using a handheld mixer or a stand mixer, color the icing pink with red food coloring. Frost cupcakes.

Snip a ¼-inch thick slice from a marshmallow, crosswise. Dip cut side of thin marshmallow slice into pink sugar to coat. Cut sugared slice in half crosswise and form into two ear-shaped triangles. Save larger piece of marshmallow for the snout.  Repeat with remaining marshmallows.

Press the larger piece of the marshmallow, cut side down, onto the lower half of the cupcake for the pig’s snout. Press two sugared marshmallow ears into opposite edge of cupcake, as pictured. Press the chocolate chips in for the piggy’s eyes, pointed end down (or use the black decorating icing). Pipe a mouth onto the cupcake with the black decorating icing.

Frog Cupcakes
(Inspiration from Cutest Food)

Ingredients:

Cupcakes (your choice of flavor)
Vanilla buttercream
Large white marshmallows
Chocolate chips
Red decorating icing

Directions:

Using a handheld mixer or a stand mixer, color the icing green with green food coloring. Frost cupcakes.

Cut marshmallows into thin slices to form the eyes. Press chocolate chips into eyes (we randomly placed ours so they were not all the same) and press into frosting. Draw smile and tongue (if desired) with red decorating icing.

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My mother in law celebrated a birthday last week and of course I volunteered to bring the cake. (Remember last year’s Coconut Cake with Lime Curd Filling?) Typically, the girls in the family prefer fruitier desserts while the guys are all about chocolate. I am firmly in the fruity cake camp so I knew that was the direction I wanted to go with this cake. I’ve mentioned before that I have a tough time deciding what to make (I will browse recipes for hours) so I was excited when my sister in law suggested a cake with fresh blueberries.

Luckily, my Google search for blueberry layer cake didn’t yield too many results. I trust anything that Epicurious posts on their site so I was sold on Blueberry Lemon Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting as soon as I saw it and noticed it received over 100 positive reviews.

I totally must disclose that this is not a light and fluffy cake. It’s pretty dense and I was scared to death when I was removing it from the pan and frosting it that everyone would hate it. I typically prefer a light, airy cake and this is not that. I was so surprised that it ended up being moist and the texture worked with this cake. Everyone really enjoyed the cake and raved over the flavor. My friend Catherine also made the cake for her mother in law’s birthday after reading about it on my healthy living blog, Peanut Butter Runner, and it was also a hit with her family.

The only modification that I made to the recipe was to increase the lemon zest in the batter and lemon juice in the frosting. I knew that I wanted a pronounced lemon flavor and some of the reviews suggested increasing the lemon. I will most definitely be baking this cake again. It’s such a fun (and ridiculously delicious) way to use fresh, local summer blueberries.

Make this before blueberry season ends! You’ll be happy you did! :)

One Year Ago: Coconut Cake with Lime Curd Filling

Blueberry Lemon Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
(Recipe source Bon Appetit)

Ingredients:

FOR THE CAKE
2 cups plus 6 tablespoons cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel (double for a more pronounced lemon flavor)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs

FOR THE FROSTING
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar (I used a little less)
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel (I added 1 tablespoon of lemon juice for more lemon flavor)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
FOR THE CAKE
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter three 8- or 9-inch diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper and butter paper. Dust pans with flour and set aside.
Sift cake flour, baking powder and salt into medium bowl. Transfer 1 tablespoon flour mixture to separate bowl and add fresh blueberries. Toss with flour to coat and set and blueberries and remaining flour mixture aside.

Stir together whole milk, vanilla extract and grated lemon peel in small bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using electric mixer, beat butter in until light and creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until mixture is light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in flour mixture alternately with milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour. (Flour, milk, flour, milk, flour.) Gently fold in blueberries with a spatula. Divide batter equally among pans.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 23-25 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks for 10 minutes and then run knife around pan sides to loosen. Turn cakes out onto racks to cool completely. Peel off parchment paper.

FOR THE FROSTING
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment or using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in powdered sugar (tasting as you go – you might not want all four cups of powdered sugar due to sweetness). Beat in lemon peel, juice if using and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until just firm enough to spread, about 30 minutes.

TO ASSEMBLE CAKE
Transfer one cake layer to platter. Spread 3/4 cup frosting over cake layer. Top with another cake layer; spread with 3/4 cup frosting. Top with third cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. (Cake can be prepared up to one day ahead of time, covered and refrigerated. Let stand 30 minutes at room temperature before serving.) Decorate cake as desired and serve.

Yield: 10-12 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: DAY 68!!!!!!!!

What better way to end 68 Days of Gourmet than with a champagne cocktail? Cheers to the project and cheers that it’s over! I can honestly say that I’m still glad that I decided to make the 68 recipes even though it ended up taking a little longer to get through them than anticipated.

There were definite hits and misses but overall I was impressed by the variety and quality of recipes to choose from. There are many recipes from the project that I know I will be making for years to come. Also, The Gourmet Cookbook is a wonderful resource to have in your kitchen and I highly recommend that everyone buy a copy of this book. I know that I will continue to turn to it for inspiration.

I created a 68 Days of Gourmet recipe index page that can be found at the top of the page. Our favorites are marked on the recipe index page but I’d like to share some of our very favorite recipes with you in this post.

Macaroni and Cheese
Chili Lime Tilapia
Three Ingredient Pot Roast

Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake
Island Pork Tenderloin
Chocolate Cream Pie
Thai Beef Noodle Soup
Spiced Chicken
Overnight Baked French Toast
Black Bean and Quinoa Salad

I will definitely be making all of these recipes over and over again.

If you have never had a French 75 you must try one. It’s a combination of gin, lemon juice, sugar and champagne. Don’t be leary of the drink if you’re not a gin lover – it does not have a strong gin taste. It’s actually a very refreshing flavor combination that packs quite a punch. ;)

If you’ve been following along the 68 Days of Gourmet – thank you! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the project and if you have any favorite recipes.

One year ago: Beef Bolognese, Grilled Chicken Drumsticks

And here’s the VERY LAST recipe of 68 Days of Gourmet!!!

French 75
(Recipe source Gourmet, September 1997)

Ingredients:

3 ounces gin
3 ounces fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons superfine granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups ice cubes
1 cup chilled champagne

Directions:

In a cocktail shaker, combine gin, lemon juice, sugar and ice cubes and shake to chill. Strain cocktails into two wine glasses, champagne flutes or on ice in cocktail glasses and top off with champagne.

Yield: 2 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 67

Apologies for my disappearance the last week but I’m back with the final two recipes to wrap up 68 Days of Gourmet. And promises of lots more deliciousness to follow after the project is complete. I also want to point out the newly created 68 Days of Gourmet page (found above) that categorizes all of the recipes from the project.

Now that the housekeeping details are out of the way, let’s talk about the Warm Chocolate Raspberry Pudding Cake. I saw this cake while browsing The Gourmet Cookbook and loved that it was elegant but relatively easy. This is the type of cake that would be perfect for a dinner party or date night dinner. Another plus is that it can be made ahead of time and reheated.

The frosting is poured into the bottom of the cake pan and the batter is poured on top. When you invert the cake from the pan your frosting is all melted and gooey on top of the cake. This cake is very moist and the raspberry jam in the frosting and cake adds a nice flavor dimension. The only change I would make next time I bake this is using a higher quality jam to really step up the raspberry flavor.

This is an impressive cake that requires minimal effort and is sure to be a crowd pleaser – especially with the chocolate lovers!

One year ago: Crash Hot Potatoes, Chocolate Biscotti

Warm Chocolate Raspberry Pudding Cake
(Recipe source Gourmet, January 1999)

Ingredients:

FOR THE FROSTING
3 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), roughly chopped
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam (about 5 ounces)
1/2 cup heavy cream

FOR THE CAKE BATTER
1/2 cup boiling water
1/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam (about 3 ounces)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and generously butter a 9- by 2-inch round cake pan.

FOR THE FROSTING
In a small heavy saucepan over low heat bring jam, cream and chocolate to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Pour frosting into cake pan.

FOR THE CAKE BATTER
In a bowl whisk together boiling water and cocoa powder until smooth and whisk in milk, vanilla, and jam. In a large bowl with an electric mixer beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time,  beating well after each addition. In another bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt and add to egg mixture in batches alternately with cocoa mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating well after each addition.

Pour batter evenly over frosting mixture and bake in middle of oven 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean (frosting on bottom will still be liquid). Cool cake slightly in pan on a rack, 10 to 20 minutes.

Run a thin knife around edge of pan and twist pan gently back and forth on a flat surface to loosen cake. Invert a cake plate with a slight lip over cake pan and, holding pan and plate together with both hands, invert cake onto plate. Frosting will cover cake and run onto plate.

* Cake may be made 1 day ahead, cooled completely in pan and left in pan, covered, at room temperature. Reheat cake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes.

Yield: 6-8 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 61

Gourmet named this recipe Spicy Boiled Crabs, Shrimp, Potatoes, Corn and Garlic. I put a Southern spin on it by subbing sausage for the crabs and calling it by its true name, Lowcountry Boil. I think the crabs would have been a fun addition but not in the realm of  possibility for tonight’s dinner.

Lowcountry Boil is a simple, one-pot dinner full of deliciousness. We served it at our rehearsal dinner when we got married in Charleston and requested it for our joint birthday party last year. It’s a great party/entertaining dish but also fun and easy for any night! You can easily scale the amount of ingredients to the number of people you’ll be serving. It’s also easy to control the spice level. If you love spicy foods, feel free to be a little heavy-handed with the seasonings. You cook this in such a big pot that the spices are really diluted.

It’s also relatively healthy and filling. We usually sub chicken or turkey smoked sausage. My favorite way to serve Lowcountry Boil is on a big platter so everyone can pick and choose what they want. And really hot homemade cocktail sauce (the more horseradish, the better!) on the side.

If you’ve never experienced Lowcountry Boil it is a must try this Spring/Summer. Perfect for your next get together – casual, a little messy and fun! I can just picture serving this outdoors with rolls of paper towels and sweet tea in mason jars – what can I say? I was definitely born and raised in the South!

One Year Ago: Easy Spanakopita

Lowcountry Boil
(Recipe adapted from Gourmet, June 1996)

Ingredients:

2 (3-ounce) packets Zatarain’s crab boil or 5 tablespoons Old Bay  seasoning (or more – adjust to taste)
1 tablespoon cayenne (or more adjust to taste)
1/2 cup table salt (might want to reduce to around 1/4 cup)
3 lemons, quartered
2 onions, halved
1 1/2 pounds small potatoes (about 2 inches in diameter)
2 whole heads of garlic (not separated into cloves)
6 ears of corn, shucked and halved
24 ounces smoked sausage (2 packages), cut into 2 inch pieces
2 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning, or to taste, for sprinkling over  boiled seafood
3 pounds large shrimp (about 30, preferably with heads)

Directions:

In a very large stock pot or kettle (7- to 8-gallons) bring 5 gallons water to a boil.

Add Zatarain’s crab boil or 5 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning, cayenne, salt, lemons and onions to boiling water and boil 5 minutes. Add potatoes and garlic and boil for about 10 minutes. Add corn and sausage and cook for about 5-10 more minutes, until corn and potatoes are tender.

Add shrimp and cook until they turn bright pink, about 2-3 minutes, careful not to overcook. Drain pot and transfer to a platter. Sprinkle with Old Bay seasoning and serve with cocktail sauce.

Yield: 6 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 42

Sometimes having a food blog has its perks. Like when I have a perfectly valid excuse to make chocolate cream pie on a weeknight. What kind of food blogger would I be if I didn’t give you guys some chocolate dessert ideas for Valentine’s Day? I am so glad that I selected this recipe to feature. It is simply just amazing. And this is coming from the girl who is firmly in the fruit dessert camp and not the biggest fan of super chocolatey desserts. The homemade pudding is definitely the “pièce de résistance” in this pie. And when paired with the chocolate wafer crust and freshly whipped cream – home run! Make this for your sweetie this Valentine’s Day – I promise you won’t be disappointed :)

And on to news on the fitness and nutrition front (so appropriate in the same post as chocolate cream pie). Last weekend was definitely an over-the-top indulgent weekend for me. Lots of dining out, dessert and Super Bowl snacking. But I also attended a hot vinyasa yoga class Friday night, taught BodyPump Saturday morning and ran five miles Sunday afternoon. About the running…I am so frustrated with it right now. It’s been almost two months since my last last race and I took the biggest running break that I’ve taken in years. I’m one week into my new training program and having terrible pain in my left leg in the achilles tendon/lower calf area. It feels like there’s a big knot there and it hurts when I run and stays sore for days after I run. I’m really bummed and hoping if I keep icing it and try to rest it that it will get better. Fingers crossed.

Stocked up on lots of healthy foods, fruits and vegetables at the grocery for the week. Putting last weekend behind me and moving on! It’s all I can do. We all have to splurge sometimes!

Chocolate Cream Pie
(Recipe source Gourmet, February 2004)
Printable Recipe: Chocolate Cream Pie

Ingredients:

FOR THE CRUST
1 1/3 cups chocolate wafer crumbs (from about 26 cookies such as Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers or Oreos with cream scraped off)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar

FOR THE FILLING
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large egg yolks
3 cups whole milk
5 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), melted
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla

FOR THE TOPPING
3/4 cup chilled heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar

Directions:

FOR THE CRUST
Preaheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together crumbs, butter and sugar and press on bottom and up side of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake until crisp, about 15 minutes, and cool on a rack.

FOR THE FILLING
In a 3-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt and yolks until combined well.  Add milk in a slow stream, whisking and bring mixture to a boil over moderate heat. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking constantly, 1 minute (filling will be thick).

Pour filling through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, then whisk in chocolates, butter and vanilla. Cover surface of filling with a buttered round of wax paper and cool completely, about 2 hours.

Spoon filling into crust and chill pie, loosely covered, at least six hours or overnight.

FOR THE TOPPING
Just before serving, beat cream and sugar in a bowl using an electric mixer until it just holds stiff peaks. Spoon on top of pie and serve with a dusting of cocoa powder or with fresh berries.

Yield: 8-10 servings

*Note: give yourself plenty of time to make this pie. You’ll want to make it the day before Valentine’s since you have to build in chilling time.

Other Valentine’s Day Treats
Lady Strawberry Cake
Flourless Chocolate Cake
Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
Jamwich Cookies

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 34

I kind of can’t believe I’m posting this. I can sum up this Duck a’Orange in two words: learning experience. It wasn’t a total fail but it definitely wasn’t smooth sailing. First, I decided to tackle this on a weeknight – over two hours in the kitchen on a weeknight – maybe not the best decision. Second, it might have been helpful for me to have studied up on the anatomy of a duck. I roasted it upside down! And third, the picture is terrible because I was pretty over it by picture taking time. I just wanted to eat the thing and call it a night.

All that said, the flavor of this was actually really good. My l’Orange sauce was a TOTAL success. I was really happy about that because it’s one of the hardest sauces that I’ve ever made. And I feel very confident that the  next time I roast a whole duck, I’ll have much better results.

This recipe was originally published in Gourmet in 1943! I thought it would be downright wrong of me not to attempt such a classic dish during 68 Days of Gourmet. I’m really glad that I made this but I think it’s a lot of work for such a small amount of edible meat. I think I’ll definitely make the l’Orange sauce again with roasted chicken. The flavor of the sauce was incredible! Or maybe I’ll just make Duck a l’Orange breast instead of a whole duck!

It’s been a pretty calm week so far. Monday was my first time teaching 6 a.m. BodyPump. Overall, the class was great. It’s definitely going to take me some time to get used to the 5 a.m. wake up time on Mondays though. Even though I was tired from my early morning, I went to a power mixed yoga class after work. So glad I did, it was just what I needed. The class was really fun and I got to play around with some positions that were a little outside of my comfort zone. Tonight I went to a hot vinyasa class and the room was SO HOT! Apparently, they’ve made some adjustments to the room to allow it to heat more efficiently. Whatever they did, it worked. Whew! Chugging water tonight! I’m attempting to practice every day this week. We’ll see how that goes! I’ll keep you guys posted.

It’s been a great week so far on the nutrition front. My usual bowl of oats for breakfast, peanut butter and banana sandwiches for lunch and healthy dinners. Nice to be back in my routine. Feeling good and strong.

So here is the duck recipe. I seriously recommend trying this if you’re looking for a culinary challenge! :)

My poor upside down duck!

Duck a l’Orange
(Recipe source Gourmet, January 2006, originally printed in 1943)

Ingredients:

FOR THE DUCK
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 (5- to 6-lb) Long Island duck (also called Pekin)
1 juice orange, halved
4 fresh thyme sprigs
4 fresh marjoram sprigs
2 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
1 small onion, cut into 8 wedges
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup duck stock, duck and veal stock, chicken stock or reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 carrot
1/2 celery rib

FOR THE SAUCE
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup fresh orange juice (from 1 to 2 oranges)
2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 to 4 tablespoons duck or chicken stock or reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon fine julienne of fresh orange zest, removed with a vegetable peeler

Directions:

FOR THE DUCK
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Make sure rack is positioned in the center of the oven.

Mix together salt, coriander, cumin and pepper. Pat duck dry and sprinkle inside and out with spice mixture. Cut 1 half of orange into quarters and place in duck cavity with thyme, marjoram, parsley and 4 onion wedges.

Squeeze juice from remaining half of orange and stir together with wine and stock. Set aside.

Spread remaining 4 onion wedges in a 13 x 9 roasting pan with carrot and celery, then place duck (breast side up!) on top of vegetables and roast 30 minutes.

Pour wine mixture into roasting pan and reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Continue roasting duck until thermometer inserted into a thigh (close to but not touching bone) registers 170 degrees, about 60 to 75 more minutes. Turn on broiler and broil duck 3 to 4 inches from heat until top is golden brown, about 3 minutes.

Tilt duck to drain juices from cavity into pan and transfer duck to a cutting board, reserving juices in pan. Let duck stand 15 minutes.

FOR THE SAUCE
While the duck roasts, cook sugar in a dry 1-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, undisturbed, until it begins to melt. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until sugar melts and turns a golden caramel color. Reduce heat to low and add orange juice, vinegar and salt. Caution – the mixture will bubble and steam vigorously and the sugar may seize (don’t give up on it!). Continue to simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until caramel is dissolved. Remove syrup from heat.

Discard vegetables from roasting pan and pour pan juices through a fine-mesh sieve into a 1-quart glass container or bowl. Skim off and discard fat.  Add enough stock to pan juices to total 1 cup liquid.

Stir together butter and flour to form a beurre manié. Bring pan juices to a simmer in a small heavy saucepan, then add beurre manié, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Add orange syrup and zest and simmer, whisking occasionally, until sauce is thickened slightly and zest is tender, about 5 minutes. Serve with duck.

Yield: 4 servings (only 2 for us because we only ate the breast)

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68 Days of Gourmet:  Day 30

I know I’ve mentioned this before but I love staying in on Friday nights and cooking something a little more special than our average weeknight meal. This week sea scallops were on sale at the grocery. Since they are one of my favorites, I decided to base our Friday night meal off of them.

I browsed through the highly rated scallop recipes from Gourmet online and thought that this recipe for Seared Scallops with Tomato Beurre Blanc sounded perfect. I love sundried tomatoes so I knew I would enjoy this beurre blanc.

I went to a hot vinyasa class at Y2 yoga after work yesterday. The founder of the studio, Tanner, was teaching so I was very excited to check it out. It was an awesome class and I couldn’t believe the amount of work he packed in to 60 minutes. Usually, I prefer 90 minute yoga classes but I don’t think I could have made it through 30 more minutes of this class! I definitely think there was 90 minutes of work packed into the 60 minute class! I left exhausted but with a smile on my face – ready for the weekend and ready for these scallops!

The online recipe says that the preparation time is 2 hours and 15 minutes. That is not true. I don’t know how it could have taken that long. The only time you have to build in is making your sundried tomato butter. You can do that the day before or cheat like me and put the butter in the freezer to harden! :)

I loved this recipe. Simple but delicious preparation. I served it with Orzo “Risotto” (I was going to make real risotto but ran out of time and energy for it!) and roasted asparagus. Perfect Friday night feast!

Seared Scallops with Tomato Beurre Blanc
(Recipe source Gourmet, May 2002)

Ingredients:

FOR BEURRE BLANC
1/4 cup packed soft dried tomatoes (I used very soft, ready to use sundried tomatoes and skipped the rehydration step)
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup minced shallot
2/3 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

FOR SCALLOPS
2 lb large sea scallops (30), tough muscle removed from side of each if necessary
About 2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:

FOR THE BEURRE BLANC
Soak tomatoes in warm water until softened, 20 to 25 minutes (I skipped this step because I used ready to eat softened sundried tomatoes). Drain and pat dry, then mince. Mix together tomatoes, softened butter and salt. Form butter into a log on a sheet of plastic wrap, roll up and chill until firm. About 1 hour in fridge or you can cheat and put the butter in the freezer for about 20 minutes. Cut tomato butter into 12 equal pieces.

Heat a small heavy sauce pan over low heat. Cook shallot in 1 piece of tomato butter for about 3 minutes, until softened. Add wine and boil over medium heat until liquid is reduced by half, to about 1/3 cup. This should take anywhere from 5-10 minutes.

Reduce heat to low and whisk in remaining cold tomato butter 1 piece at a time, adding each piece before previous one has completely melted and lifting pan from heat occasionally to cool mixture (sauce should not get hot enough to separate). Whisk in water and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

Transfer beurre blanc to a bowl and keep warm, covered, in a larger bowl of warm water.

FOR THE SCALLOPS
Rinse and pat scallops dry. Season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Sear scallops, turning once, until golden on each side and cooked through. About 2-4 minutes total. Work in batches if you need, keeping previously cooked scallops warm on a platter covered with foil. Wipe out skillet and add more oil in between batches.

Serve scallops with 3 tablespoons of beurre blanc – either spooned onto the bottom of the dish or spooned over the scallops. I served my beurre blanc over the scallops and the orzo.

Yield: 6 servings
(I did not make 6 servings for the 2 of us. I just cut the beurre blanc in half and used about 1/2 pound of scallops.)

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 21

I have to admit that I had a mini-meltdown during menu planning this week. I was all over the place and couldn’t make a decision. Sometimes menu planning is so simple for me – it all just comes together. Other times – not so much.  I was just really over thinking it for some reason. While we were unpacking groceries, I was rambling off the menu selections for the week. Brandon seemed pretty pleased with his options so I guess I pulled it off.

We decided to keep it simple tonight with salad and a baked potato. But not just any salad…Frisee Salad with Lardons and Poached Eggs. I flagged this one in The Gourmet Cookbook because a) Brandon loves bacon and b) he thinks pretty much any food is even more delicious topped with an egg. One of his recent favorites has been a fried egg on hamburgers. Extra protein?

I actually made several changes to this recipe but it still turned out fabulously. First, we don’t love frisee – we usually pick it out of the salad mix or its left uneaten on the plate. You can’t even buy it on its own at the grocery store  where we shop and I was not going to make  a special trip for it. I had some baby arugula mix in the fridge so decided to go with that. Second, I realized I was out of red wine vinegar so I used a splash of white wine vinegar and a splash of balsamic instead. And last, I opted to use my egg poacher rather than use the written method for poaching eggs.

I will definitely be making this salad again. How can you not love this combination? And the warm bacon dressing is amazing…although I had to put it in the back of my head that it was essentially bacon grease and vinegar. This is a great easy weeknight dinner paired with soup or a baked potato. It would also be an impressive first course for a dinner party.

Frisee Salad with Lardons and Poached Eggs
(Recipe adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook, printed in Gourmet February 1999)
Printable Recipe: Frisee Salad with Lardons and Poached Eggs

Ingredients:

1/2 pound frisée (French curly endive)
6 ounces slab bacon or thick-cut bacon slices (about 6 slices)
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons shallot, chopped
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Directions:

Tear frisee into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. If using slab bacon, cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch thick slices. Then cut bacon slices crosswise into 1/4 inch thick strips (these are your lardons).

In a heavy skillet over medium heat, cook bacon, stirring occasionally. Remove skillet from heat when bacon is golden and beginning to crisp. Set skillet aside.

In another skillet, place 1 inch of warm water and set aside. Fill up a 4-quart saucepan halfway with water and stir in white vinegar. Bring liquid to a simmer. Break each egg into a teacup one at a time and slide into simmering liquid. Immediately push white around yolk with a slotted spoon, working gently. Egg should be oval in shape and yolk should be completely covered by white. Using the same method, add the remaining 3 eggs. Simmer eggs for about 1 1/2 minutes for runny yolks up to about 3 minutes for firmer yolks. Immediately transfer eggs to skillet of warm water.

Reheat bacon in its skillet over medium heat. Add shallot and cook for about 1 minute, stirring often. Add red wine vinegar and boil 5 seconds. Immediately pour hot dressing over frisée and toss with salt and pepper to taste.

Divide salad among 4 plates and top with drained poached eggs. Season eggs with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 17

I was so excited to prepare our Thanksgiving feast with my dad this year. It’s rare that we have the chance to be together in the kitchen and we’ve never cooked the Thanksgiving meal together. This was the first year that Thanksgiving was at my parent’s house instead of my grandmother’s house and while Brandon was in law school we stayed in Birmingham for Thanksgiving due to finals. My mom pitched in with two killer desserts – Sweet Potato Pecan Pie and Apple Cranberry Pie.

We emailed back and forth about the menu for several weeks. We had the main dishes set but wanted to mix things up with the side dishes. I spotted these Creamed Leeks on the Epicurious Thanksgiving Guide and thought they sounded like the perfect accompaniment to our meal. I’m embarrassed to admit that I had never worked with leeks before and I was oh so thankful that my dad had taken to the time to watch a video of the test kitchen director cleaning and preparing the leeks for this recipe.

I wasn’t sure how these would go over with the dinner crowd but I was happy to find that they were extremely well-received. I did get several comments on what a different side dish it was (which was what I was going for!) but everyone enjoyed them – some even went back for seconds.

These Creamed Leeks would be a fabulous side dish to any holiday meal!

Creamed Leeks
(Recipe source Gourmet, November 2006)

Ingredients:

3 1/2 lb leeks, root ends trimmed
2 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs (from a country loaf, crusts discarded)
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
3/8 teaspoon black pepper, divided
6 tablespoons(3/4 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1 cup heavy cream

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees (we had other things going on in the oven and couldn’t have the temperature that high so we cooked them a little longer at a lower temperature).

Cut each leek into an 8-inch length, measuring from root end, and halve lengthwise. Then cut crosswise into roughly 1 1/2-inch pieces, you should have about 8 cups). Wash leek pieces in a large bowl of cold water, agitating them, then lift out and transfer to another bowl. Repeat with clean water, then drain leeks well. Watch this video if you have never worked with leeks before.

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a medium sized heavy skillet over medium heat. Stir in bread crumbs, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until crisp and pale golden. This should take around 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in a large heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Add leeks and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover the skillet but leave the lid slightly ajar to allow steam to escape. Cook for about 12 minutes, until tender, stirring occasionally.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer leeks to a gratin dish. Slowly pour cream over leeks and scatter bread crumbs on top. Bake for about 15 minutes, until cream is bubbling and thickened and crumbs are golden brown.

*Notes:
- Bread crumbs can be cooked 1 day ahead, cooled completely uncovered and kept in an airtight container at room temperature. Scatter bread crumbs over leeks just before baking.
- Leeks can be cooked and assembled in dish with cream (but not sprinkled with crumbs) 1 day ahead. Cool completely, uncovered, then chilled, covered.


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