Saturday, March 31, 2012

Dark chocolate espresso mousse with coffee zabaglione

The title is a mouthful and you'll be happy when you get a mouthful of this. I'm not supposed to play favorites, but this was my favorite part of all of the competition recipes (and you can tell I liked all of them and really loved some others). The kids really enjoyed this one, too and most were surprised they liked dark chocolate so much. It takes more time than stirring up a boxed cake mix and tossing it in the oven, but it's so worth the extra effort. You can easily divide into steps and have it prepared ahead of time. Do yourself a favor and indulge in this sometime soon!

Dark chocolate espresso mousse with coffee zabaglione

Serves 4

1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/8 tsp instant espresso powder
1/2 cup Ghirardelli espresso dark chocolate (use bittersweet chocolate if you can't find this)
1 large egg white

1 egg yolk
1 whole egg
1/8 tsp sugar
1/3 cup hot water
2 tsp instant espresso powder
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup half and half

Whipped Cream:
use cool whip or hand whip 1/2 cup cream with 2 tbsp sugar and 1 tsp honey

4 chocolate hazelnut straws ("pirouettes")

Chop two hazelnut straws into 1/2 inch long pieces.

Put chocolate in a heat resistant bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together the cream, sugar, and espresso powder until the sugar is dissolved and the cream mixture is hot, but not boiling. Pour hot cream over the chocolate and blend until the chocolate mixture is smooth. Add the egg white and beat for one to two minutes, until thick. Stir in the chopped hazelnut straws. Transfer the mousse to serving glasses and put them in the refrigerator to chill until firm, about two hours. (can leave overnight)

Combine water and espresso powder and set aside.

Set up a double boiler. In a metal bowl, combine egg yolk, egg, sugar, 2 Tbsp of espresso (from the water/powder combination), heavy cream, and half and half. It should become frothy. Continue whisking until it reaches a batter consistency.

Transfer the bowl of zabaglione to a bed of ice to let the zabaglione cool and set. Stir periodically to keep a smooth consistency. Once zabaglione is cool, place in refrigerator.

After mousse has set, top with zabaglione and return to refrigerator. Allow to set for thirty minutes. Top with whipped cream and garnish with hazelnut straw. Return to refrigerator until ready to serve.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Roasted red pepper salsa

Just thinking about this stuff makes me laugh. The kids practiced it over and over again and got the flavor and look down just right. (it's awesome) On competition day, I walk around while they're cooking instead of staring at them because I can't talk to them anyway, so it makes me more nervous to watch them not being able to say anything if I see something they need to do. I got back over to our station (my awesome family comes to watch every year and creates a big cheering section!) and everyone is asking me why they're burning the pepper and why the sticker is still on while they're "burning" it. Yes, it's okay to "burn" the pepper because they were roasting it, but NO, the sticker shouldn't still be on there! It was in prime view of our crowd and the judges and the first question the judges asked was about the sticker, too. Oops! Of course, something they've never done before and something they'll probably remember the rest of their lives every time they wash a pepper. Anyway, this was another thing I always hoped we had leftovers of. I took it home a couple of times and used it for chip dipping and one week I used it in my "Sunday soup" and it added great flavor. They came up with the flavor combination on their own and it was right on!

Roasted red pepper salsa

1 clove garlic, minced
3 tbsp honey
1/2 red bell pepper, roasted (have to roast the whole thing and just use half in your salsa or make a double batch)
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/3 tsp garlic salt
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
1 Tbsp dried onion flakes
1 tsp lime juice
salt and pepper, to taste

Roast red bell pepper over open flame until blackened all around, then put it in a bowl, cover it tightly with plastic wrap, and set aside for ten minutes.

Combine honey, ground pepper, vinegar, garlic salt, dried onions, garlic and cilantro. Mix until combined.
Wash off the roasted red bell pepper until all the black skin is off.
Chop the peppers in long strips, then mince half the pepper and chop the other half. The minced half should be nearly pureed.
Add the peppers to the salsa, then the lime juice. Mix until combined. Serve cold or room temperature.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mexican risotto

This dish drew in the judges and had them wishing they could go to the back to try it. The floor judges watch preparation, safety and sanitation, teamwork, communication, etc., while the tasting judges are separated into another room where all they do is taste food all day and don't see any of the prep. The reason I explain that is that after the kids were finished with their hour prep time, the floor judges all told them that was the best looking risotto they had seen all day and they wished they could try it, loved the smell, on and on. The first comment from one of the tasting judges was "this is not a risotto". They're all chefs at pretty big-time places (for our area anyway), but they couldn't agree on a lot of things that day, so we weren't too surprised. It's prepared using the risotto method, so I'm going to continue to call it risotto. The floor judges that watched the prep and didn't even know what we were calling it called it a risotto themselves, so we'll stick with it! That being said, this stuff is great. A few of the kids were making it at home for their families because they loved it so much (and when you're making the same dishes three times a week for three weeks, you don't typically want to make the same thing when you get home!). You can adjust the vegetables and amount of cheese to your liking. This is another side that easily makes a meal for me and was good hot, cold, and room temperature (seeing it so many times meant I was sometimes eating it leftover for lunch:).

Mexican Risotto
Serves 3 hearty side portions

1/2 cup arborio rice
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 red pepper, brunoise (tiny dice)
1/3 green pepper, brunoise
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/3 zucchini, julienne (matchstick cuts)
4 oz frozen corn, thawed
1/4 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

 Pour chicken stock into a medium size saucepan. Heat and add chili powder, cumin, and red pepper flakes.

Heat olive oil and butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic; sauté for about 2-3 minutes or until onion softens.
Add rice and stir until coated, about one minute.
Add 1/4 cup of chicken stock and stir until the rice absorbs it.
Add red pepper, green pepper, and jalapeno.
Add broth one ladle at a time, letting rice absorb it before adding the next ladle. Stir continuously.
Before adding the last ladle of broth, add corn and zucchini. Add remaining broth and stir.
Add cheese and stir to melt. Serve.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Toasted lemon pinenut couscous

Israeli couscous is one of my favorite forms of pasta. The other is that stuff for mac and cheese.  Every year for the grains section, I teach the kids how to make homemade pasta and we make something with Israeli couscous as well as some other grains they aren't as familiar with as boxed, dried pasta. When ProStart competition time or their final meal assignment comes around (when they can make what they want), a lot of them go back to the couscous for their grain because they like it and it's something a little different. When you make couscous with chicken stock instead of water, you add so much flavor (just like preparing rice the same way). Combined with toasted pinenuts and lemon, this is a great refreshing side that pairs well with a spicy meat or a sauce that can also be used with the couscous. Add in some sauteed veggies and I could definitely make a meal out of this, hot or cold. This went well with their ribeye with orange cider glaze and broccoli with pecan butter.

Toasted lemon pinenut couscous

1 cup chicken stock
2/3 cup Israeli couscous (the big kind)
1 tsp lemon zest
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp salt

 Heat oil to medium heat in a small sauté pan. Toast pinenuts in oil for about four minutes, until golden brown.

Bring chicken stock to a boil in a small saucepan.  Stir in couscous and lemon rind.
Remove from heat; cover and let stand for five minutes.
Fluff with fork, then add toasted pinenuts.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Chicken Caesar salad in Parmesan cups

This is a really pretty appetizer that's not very labor intensive, but a little out of the box. Caesar salad typically has some parmesan cheese in it, but rather than putting it in the salad, this salad is served in a cup made of cheese. The red peppers and almonds are additions to the traditional style Caesar. The kids made their own anchovy paste, but you could certainly use store bought. I love this stuff and the kids did, too. The cheese cups can be made ahead of time. Make everything ahead of time and toss with the dressing right before serving, put in the cups, and you're ready to serve!

Chicken Caesar salad in Parmesan cups
Serves 2 small starter salads

1 Anchovy fillet
1 tsp Olive Oil
1/2 tsp white Wine Vinegar
1/4 tsp minced garlic
pepper, to taste
3 oz freshly shredded parmesan cheese
4 oz diced chicken breast
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
3/4 tsp plain greek yogurt
3/4 cup chopped romaine hearts
2 tbsp brunoise (tiny dice) red pepper
2 tbsp sliced almonds
Anchovy Paste:

Using the back of a mortar and pestle, crush anchovies.
In a separate bowl, combine the garlic, vinegar, and pepper, then the oil little by little while whisking the mixture
When the mixture is blended, add the anchovies.

Parmesan cups:
Coat a small sauté pan with cooking spray and heat over medium heat.
Sprinkle 1 ½ oz of parmesan into a skillet in a circle about 1/8 inch tall. Cook for about 1-2 minutes, until it starts to firm.
Carefully flip and cook another thirty seconds or until it's firm but pliable. Transfer the cheese round to a small cup and drape over the edges, shaping it into a cup. (you could also use two muffin tins--put it over the bottom one and push the second tin over the top to shape the cheese cup) Let cool completely before serving.

For Salad:
Combine chicken with 1 tsp lemon juice and the soy sauce in a plastic bag. Let marinate for ten minutes, turning once.
Heat a small sauté pan to medium heat; cook chicken with marinade until chicken is cooked through.
Toss lettuce with dressing, then stir in chicken and half of the peppers and almonds.
Serve in parmesan cups garnished with remaining  red pepper and sliced almonds.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Broccoli with pecan butter

This side dish was for a ProStart competition side dish. The kids tried a few different recipes for broccoli and some other sides and decided to come up with their own from a bunch of different ideas they had. It's pretty simple and the toasted pecan butter adds just a hit of extra flavor that makes it go above and beyond your regular broccoli side.

Broccoli with pecan butter

8 oz broccoli, trimmed
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp chopped pecans
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper, to taste

Bring olive oil to medium high heat in a sauté pan.

Sauté garlic for thirty seconds, then add broccoli and chicken broth. Season with coarse salt and bring to a boil over high heat and cover.

Reduce heat and simmer until broccoli is tender but still bright green, about ten minutes. Remove broccoli from pan and shock in cold water to set color. Remove from cold water about thirty seconds later.

Add butter and pecans to pan and toast pecans and brown butter.

Add broccoli back to pan, heat thoroughly, and serve.

class-created recipe

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

White bean soup shooters with sage

The ProStart competition is always second semester, so when the kids come back from break, we start hitting the recipes pretty hard trying to find something that will work. We spend days making just appetizers, just veggie sides, just steaks, just desserts, and just starches (in various orders) until we decide what we like and what goes together. After that, we make those recipes again (or create our own based on an idea from a recipe or from a student) until they have something they are completely happy to present to the chef judges. There are often debates over which idea is better and what goes together, but this was one of those recipes that there was no debate--as soon as they tasted it, they all decided it was their favorite, and all the appetizers weren't even ready to try yet! They tried everything else and kept coming back to this one, and I'm glad they did, because it's excellent. They are serving it as a shooter, but a bowl of it would be perfect for dinner with a piece of crusty bread. Plus, it's pretty easy and just requires one burner!

White bean soup shooters with sage

makes 6 double shot glasses of soup

1/2 strip bacon, diced
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp chopped shallots
8 oz cannelinni or great northern beans, drained and rinsed
2 leaves fresh sage
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
~3 tbsp heavy cream
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
crusty bread, toasted
goat cheese for garnish

Fry bacon until halfway done, then add shallots, garlic, olive oil, and butter. Saute until soft. Add beans, sage, garlic, and broth and simmer for eight minutes. Mash (they can't use electrical eqiupment, or you could puree with immersion blender) until nearly pureed. Add cream and cayenne pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning and consistency as desired. Put a couple of crumbles of goat cheese in bottom of shot glass (so the "shot" finishes with soup as if it's on top), then pour hot soup into glass. Top with crusty bread crouton and sage leaf and serve warm. (don't serve piping hot so you don't burn your guests!)

from Food Network magazine, recipe written by Ted Allen

Monday, March 5, 2012

Jalapeno corn cakes with roasted tomatoes

It's ProStart week!! Competition time is finally here! I am bringing more kids than ever this week--two culinary teams of four plus one alternate each and two edible centerpiece competitors. That means there have been a LOT of trips to the grocery store lately and I have my list pretty much memorized over the last two weeks because they practice the same dishes they're taking to competition in the final days. We'll spend Tuesday putting finishing touches on any dishes, doing a little knife skills practice, packing up all of our food and totes, then they go check their food in and bounce around in a playhouse for a few hours to shake off some nerves! On Wednesday, we have competitors pretty much all day, so there will always be something to watch. One of the students on team 2 was just recognized as the district's Culinary Arts student of the year, which was a pretty great honor. I'm excited to see what some of these kids do with their careers in the culinary world after high school.
Last week, they had their menus all set when they decided they needed to add something to their appetizer. I was thinking the same thing, but it's a STUDENT run competition, so I try to just give nudges in the right direction while letting them have the decision rights, which is sometimes difficult for me to do, but makes it really a student competition instead of the teacher's best dishes going up against each other. They were thinking something crunchy to go with their soup shooters (more on those another day) and they came across this recipe idea from Paula Deen. I get really nervous when they randomly search the internet for ideas, because although there are many good ones, anyone can post anything (yep, this blog is no exception, although I only post things I would want to make again) and I don't want to waste money on ingredients. Thankfully, these were delicious! We had to adapt them some since okra wasn't available in the store. After finding them from Paula, they searched the internet for other people who had made them and Annie from Annie's Eats had a beautiful picture. After combining ideas from both women, they're the perfect accompaniment to the soup and I'm proud of them for adding them to their menu!

Jalapeno cornmeal cakes with roasted tomatoes
makes 10 small cakes

roasted tomatoes:
~1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved and seeded (just give 'em a squeeze)
salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp kosher or sea salt
1/4 egg (beat a whole egg, then just use 1/4 of it)
~1/2  cup water
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
oil for frying

cotija or goat cheese for serving

To roast tomatoes (since the kids can only use two butane burners and no ovens), heat small saute pan over medium heat and toss tomatoes on. Cook for about four minutes, or until skin is blistered and slightly blackened, stirring occasionally.

For the cakes, combine the cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the egg and water. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until combined. Fold in jalapeno and garlic. Let stand while oil heats. Cornmeal will soak up water. Adjust water/cornmeal as needed for a consistency you can form into a shape to drop in skillet.

Heat 1/2 inch oil in small saute pan. Drop cakes in desired shapes into oil and cook for about 1 minute on each side, until golden brown. Remove to paper towel lined plate.

Top with cheese and roasted tomatoes and serve.

Adapted from Paula Deen and Annie's Eats

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Pink Lemonade Cookies

Spring is clearly here--it's soccer season and our first tornado watches were this week. We'll have a few more days of cold weather (and maybe even some snow, who knows), but it seems as though we escaped a bitterly cold, snowy winter this year. Signs of spring and summer are also popping up in stores--swimsuits and Easter treats are out and I spotted this NEW product last week while walking the baking aisle! I normally like to make cookies from scratch, but I was so pumped to see pink lemonade cookies that I had to have the mix. They were selling lemonade frosting in cans to go with, but I already had leftover canned frosting from cake balls, so I made my own. These were so good! Mom, since our grocery store always has all the good flavors, I'll have to get you this here if you want it:) (she never can find the good flavors of marshmallows I'm always telling her about!)

I just followed the instructions for the box of cookie mix, except I used 75% of the butter it called for and they turned out just fine. Underbake them a little--you want them to be soft!
For the icing, I took a 1/2 can of vanilla icing and added the zest and juice of a lemon (depending on the size of your lemon, you may use less. start with half and adjust to your taste preferences). Perfect pair!

In cute dog news, this is the way they rode back from Topeka last weekend. Always have to be touching each other!! (they're at my feet right now sleeping and, of course, are touching each other)