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Monthly Archives: August 2012

“Chopped” Desserts……….

This week we decided to do another “Chopped” episode. We gave each other ingredients. We weren’t allowed to check-out cookbooks or websites. We were to think of a recipe on our own. Chef Karen was given 3 ingredients: cream cheese, bacon and orange juice. Chef Jonathan was given 2 ingredients: bacon and pomegranates. The following are the results:

Chef Karen: I came up with a dessert called: Cream Cheese Bacon Bites. While I was cooking the bacon, I took puff pastry and after thawing it in the fridge over night, rolled it out and cut it into 2 inch squares. After draining the bacon, I mixed 1 package of cream cheese with 1/4 C brown sugar and 1/4 C orange juice until it was smooth. I broke the bacon into bite-sized pieces and made sure it was fully free of grease. I then put a tsp of the cream cheese mixture on each puff pastry square and laid a piece of bacon on top of it. I then put them in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 400 degrees. While they were baking, I melted some chocolate squares and added a bit of orange juice to the melting chocolate. Be careful or the chocolate will seize. I then put a drop of chocolate on each puff square.

I was very happy with how these turned out. I’m such a cookbook follower, usually, so this is good to stretch me as a chef. I really didn’t like the chocolate on the top of the bacon; it was a bit too sweet. The salty bacon with the sweet cream cheese, though, was very tasty and I will certainly try these, again.

Chef Jonathan: My dessert was called Pomegranate Gel with a Graham Crust and Creme Chantilly, Bacon and Strawberries. First, I heated the pomegranate juice to boiling, then I created a slurry using cornstarch and water. Meanwhile, I made my graham crust of graham crumbs and butter, pressed into the bottom of the ramekins and baked at 350 F for 10 minutes. Next, I whisked the slurry into the juice stirring rapidly until volcanic bubbles starting forming, until the mixture was at a desired consistency. I cooled the gel, then distributed into the ramekins. Finally, I cooked and cut the bacon, piped creme chantilly onto the cooled gels, and garnished with the bacon and strawberries. All in all, a good recipe, and you all should try it!

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Beef Bourguignon – Happy Birthday Julia Child!

Karen: We wanted to celebrate the great chef, Julia Child, by creating her Beef Bourguignon recipe. Her recipe is quite intense, as one might assume, so we found a shorter, easier version that any home chef could attempt with success. This was an easy recipe to follow. I was very excited to make the bouquet garni so I’ve added a picture of that! I had rave reviews of the smell while it was still cooking; even our dog sniffed the air when I took off the lid to stir the pot!

It turned out pretty good. The beef was really tender and the zest was good. Sometimes when I make beef stew it seems that the beef never tenderizes enough; this didn’t happen this time. I served this beef treat on top of egg noodles but you could use rice or potatoes, too. I’d make it, again. Thanks, Julia! Even though I used an easier recipe, you’re still my inspiration!

Chef Jonathan: I have always wanted to try this recipe, so when we found a recipe that was a little more approachable, we were thrilled! My favorite ingredients in this recipe are the beef and the wine, arguably the two most prominent as well. I decided to go with a Bordeaux from Gironde-Sur-Dropt, instead of the traditional Bourguignon, mainly for its fuller-bodied rich taste, I believe it goes perfectly with tender beef. It’s also very important to taste the wine ahead of time, to be sure that it doesn’t overpower the rest of the stew. For my bouquet garni, I used thyme and rosemary, but omitted the parsley, just my personal preference. I also loved the method of cooking the bacon and shallots together, it gives an amazing taste, and is very time efficient. Although, I shortened the simmering time on the stew from the original two hours, but I added about an additional 15 minutes for the cremini mushrooms to ensure doneness. All in all, an amazing dish from an amazing woman, and as Julia would say it, “Bon Appetit!”

Here is where you’ll find the recipe we used: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B07E2DC1638F935A1575BC0A96F9C8B63

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Fresh Corn Casserole

Fresh ingredients for this recipe are the best

Chef Jonathan: I was very motivated for this weeks blog, because I’ve never made a corn casserole or anything like it before, and I always love trying new things! I like this recipe for its simplicity, but in the same way, I wish there were more ingredients, like: onions, leeks, or something to bulk it up a bit. I also found it a bit runny, so next time I would likely leave out the milk and only add the heavy cream. I would also increase the cooking temperature to 375, for at least 45 minutes, as I found it took a long time for all the peppers to cook fully. Speaking of peppers, I decided to use both red and orange, as I find the color combination very visually appealing. All in all, a great recipe, with a few minor changes.

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Chef Karen: I’ve made this recipe several times this summer, already. I also have found it very easy to make. I agree with Chef Jonathan that it could use a little bulk.  I have also cut back on the milk and the cream.  Even with the cutbacks it’s too runny. So keep that in mind when you serve it.  I’m sure you could make this with frozen corn but at this time of the year buy fresh and enjoy it! I’ve never found the cooking time to be a problem but every oven is different so adjust your cooking time accordingly.  Just a note: please be careful when working with jalapeno peppers.  Their seeds are very hot and can leave a burning sensation on your hands.
Enjoy!
This recipe is from the Food Network website.