Monday, October 17, 2011

Recipe: Crêpes with Chocolate Hazelnut Butter

By now I'm sure you're all assuming that I only eat breakfast related meals.  A fair assumption indeed, and I do tend to lean toward breakfast foods in general. However I promise I will put up some more dinner/lunch ideas in the near future, especially with the holidays coming up soon. 

This post is a breakfast idea for you and in my opinion a little different way to look at crepes. I was at a French bakery that I frequent for their amazing croissants, when I spotted a Mille Crepe (literally translated: a million crepe) which in essence is a cake made with crepes. This one was layered with strawberry and cream and looked absolutely delicious! I resisted the urge to spend a pile of cash and exited the bakery with my half dozen croissants...and a few Madeleine. 

Now fast forward to a few days later when I was sitting in my living room trying to figure out something for breakfast, and poof, I had my inspiration. A toned down version of Mille Crape with Justins Chocolate Hazelnut Butter and stacked to a max of 6-7 crepe high (opposed to 12-14). Also I omitted adding sugar and extract to the batter as this is going to be sweet enough. 

I know you're thinking a couple things when you look at this idea and let me tell you: 
No, it's not going to be hard. 
No, it will not take a long time. 
Yes, it is probably as bad for you as it looks (just remember the mantra 'everything in moderation'). 

Crêpes with Chocolate Hazelnut Butter

          2 large eggs
          3/4 cup milk 
          1/2 cup water
          1 cup flour
          3 tablespoons melted butter
          Butter for coating the pan

          10" frying pan
          Long flat spatula (a cake spatula works well)
          Large cutting board

First whisk together the eggs, milk, water, flour, and melted butter.  Make sure the batter is smooth and combined but don't over do it. A minutes or so should be fine. 
Put the batter in the fridge for 5 minutes to rest and get any air bubbles out. This isn't a necessary step but it will help prevent your crepes from tearing in the pan.  

Heat the pan to medium, if at first you find this cooking a little too slow you can notch it up a little but it's always easier to add heat than take away. 
Coat the pan with butter and pour about 1/4 cup of batter in. 
Immediately swirl the pan around to evenly distribute the batter. 
Cook for about 30 seconds (yes it is that fast) then flip the crepe and cook for a further 10 seconds. 
Slide it out of the pan onto the cutting board to cool. 
Repeat this for the remainder of the batter. Your first few crepes will either be unsatisfactory or a complete disaster depending on your luck. It takes a little bit to get used to the heat and cooking time so allow yourself to make a few throw-a-ways.

After all the crepes are made put the hazelnut butter into a microwave safe little bowl and melt it down. High power for about 20-30 seconds should make it workable. You want it to be nice a spreadable but not a runny liquid.  

For the assembly lay our first crepe down and spread a decent amount of the hazelnut butter on it. Then place the next crepe down, so on and so forth. As you can tell from my picture I just topped it off by melting the nut butter a little more and drizzling it about. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Recipe: Candied Apples

Have I mentioned I love autumn? Granted it hasn't felt like fall here in Minnesota this week. I'm ready for the smells, the crispness of the air, the food... oh the food! If you don't much care for fall I can bet that you at least enjoy the food!
Now I have lived in Minnesota for most of my life but I still remember what it was like on the East Coast growing up. I remember fall most vividly, the trick-or-treating, Columbus Day and the beautiful trees. I store all these as precious memories and every year I strive to feel that innocent love of autumn again! It’s much harder when you grow up and life moves so fast, pretty soon October will be over and winter will be here before we know it!

So what do I do to try and achieve this dream of an autumn to remember? Well I take walks in the woods, I always watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and I make candied apples!
I know that some of my born and bred Minnesota friends at this point are wondering why I keep calling caramel apples, candied apples. Well it’s because my taste stem a lot from the east coast traditions and although I do enjoy caramel apples as well, I long for the candied variety. So read on and maybe you’ll be intrigued, if so try these out this year and have a little taste of the east coast this autumn!

Simple Candied Apples

8 apples (The ever popular Macintosh)
8 wooden chopsticks (you can use skewers too)
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 cup red cinnamon candies
Candy Thermometer (VERY IMPORTANT)
Baking sheet
Aluminum Foil
Medium sized saucepot
Pastry brush (Optional)

First we want to get the baking sheet ready by lining it with aluminum foil then spray it with nonstick cooking spray.
Prep the apples now; wash and dry , remove the stems, and stick the chopsticks in the end where the stems were.
Put the corn syrup, sugar and water into sauce pot and turn the burner onto medium-high heat.
Stir until the sugar dissolves, then stop stirring and let the mixture reach 250 degrees. While you’re letting the mixture sit you can use the pastry brush to wash down the sides of the pot, however I didn’t and still had plenty of candy coating.
When it reaches the 250, add the cinnamon candies stir just enough to make sure the candies are mixed in well.
Keep going until it reaches 285 degrees. Again you can wash down the sides here if you’d like, and again I didn’t.
Watch the thermometer and when it hits 285 take the pot off the heat and start to stir the candy again until it is smooth and even.
Now the fun part! Holding an apple by the chopstick, tilt the pan and dip and rotate the apple to cover it completely with an even layer.
TIP: if your candy mixture starts to harden, just put it back on the burner and gently warm it again until it turns to liquid again. If you do this don’t heat it too fast!
As you take it out of the candy twirl it a bit to remove the excess.
Set it on the sprayed baking sheet and let it cool at room temperature.
When you have all the apples finished place them in the fridge.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Recipe: Simple English Breakfast

Leaves are changing, the air smells of fire and I am already planning my Thanksgiving menu. That's right fall is here! So what do I love more than Autumn in Minnesota? Brinner! (Breakfast for Dinner) Lucky for me I've had both this past week. 

I view this as a little twist on a traditional English breakfast, minus the English baked beans.  The flavours here are what tips you off that this isn't you're everyday American meal, tomato with eggs is rare over here across the pond. Then using Speck rather than bacon or rasher just elevates the taste even more.
However the real trick to this dish is in the English style scrambled eggs. The technique is different than you're used to I'm sure but the results will amaze and delight you!

An American, English Breakfast

Software: (good for one sandwich)
3 large eggs
1/2 of an avocado
1 vine on tomato
1/4 cup Muenster cheese (or mild cheese of your choice)
1 tablespoon chives
3 strips Speck/Bacon/Rasher
1 slice of rustic or artisan bread 1/2in thick
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons cream
Salt/Pepper to taste
Olive Oil for drizzling

1 small sauce pot
1 small skillet 

First you want to get everything prepped. That means slice up your tomato, avocado, chop your chives and grate you cheese.  Also now it a good time to toast your bread. I just set my panini press to a moderate heat setting so the bread doesn't burn while I'm working on the eggs and if I time it right the eggs get done just before the toast. I do the same for the Speck. Lay the speck in the skillet on medium heat and it should be done about the same time as the eggs. 

Now the eggs, turn your burner on to medium high heat add all three to the sauce pot along with the butter. That's right the small sauce pot is for the eggs, don't worry I promise this will all be ok.  This next piece is important do not, I repeat DO NOT add salt and or pepper to the eggs. Salt breaks down the yoke and will result in watery scrambled eggs, and we don't want that!

You will need to continually stir the eggs just as if you were making a custard. Along with that you'll need to practice a little heat control, if you notice the eggs cooking too fast take it off the heat and continue to stir. 
When they've started to come together and are looking fluffy take off the heat and add the cream. Continue to stir until the cream is incorporated. Now you can add the chives and season with salt and pepper. 

Take you're toasted bread and drizzle a little olive oil on top. Now we assemble! First put the tomato, then avocado, eggs and finally the cheese.  Lay the speck, or bacon if you chose that route, next to the sandwich and finally the best part enjoy!