Asian Pear Pie(s) + Coconut, Ginger, and Almond

Asian Pear Pie(s) + Coconut, Ginger, and Almond

This week Pi Day (not actually as in the baked good, but as in the mathematical constant) is among us, so instead of making one delicious pie, I made six mini pies. I get it, what does Pi have to do with Pie, and other than a name, nothing really. It is just a good excuse for the lovers of baking to bake ooey gooey pies.

Although I do have a confession — I didn’t even know Pi Day was a thing among bloggers and bakers until my friend and fellow blogger Maria [A Common Connoisseur] mentioned baking some hand pies for it. So in the word of Barney Stinson, “Challenge Accepted!”

Of course like most, I was keen on baking one of the classics: apple, peach, or pecan. Especially considering no matter how you prepare a classic, they rarely disappoint. But really where is the fun in that? I believe you should always try to challenge yourself when given the opportunity. Per usual, my inspiration for this recipe came about from seasonal ingredients I had handy around the house.

I absolutely love Asian Pears, they are crisp like an apple yet much juicer. Normally cooks feature them in salads because they pair delightfully with savory flavors, but the firmer flesh make them ideal for baking.

As for the flavor profile of the pie, I could not in good conscious add in a bunch of spices and mask the delicate flavor. Spring is almost here, so the combination of coconut and almond felt right, and there was no better way to add those flavors than through a crunchy buttery crumble on top.

The recipe calls for 6 mini pie pans, but if you did not have any mini pie pans this recipe would adapt perfectly into one large pie.

Coconut Pie Crust

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup of All Purpose Flour
  • 1/8 Cup of Cold Butter
  • 1/8 Cup of Coconut Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon of Light Brown Sugar
  • A Pinch of Salt
  • Ice Water for Binding

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together your flour, sugar, and salt.
  2. Into the dry mixture, cut in your butter and coconut oil with a pastry mixer. The end result should resemble course sand.
  3. Pour in enough water to bind the mixture into a dough.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for no more than thirty minutes before using.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Once ready to use, flour your hands and divide dough into 6 balls.
  7. One at a time, roll out each ball to a width slightly larger than the pie pan. Then place each rolled out piece of dough into each pie pan.
  8. After placing the dough inside of the pans, fill each pan with parchment paper then pie weights.
  9. Par-bake the crusts for about 10 minutes to ensure the bottoms are not soggy.

Pie Filling

Ingredients:

  • 3 Asian Pears, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 2 Tablespoons of Coconut Cream
  • 2 Tablespoons of Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Teaspoon of Flour
  • A Pinch of Salt

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl toss together all of the ingredients, stir until fully combined.
  2. Set aside and let rest while you prepare the rest of the ingredients

Crumble Topping

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup of Almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 Cup of Candied Ginger, finely chopped
  • 4 Tablespoons of Cold Butter
  • 3 Tablespoons of All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon of Light Brown Sugar
  • A Pinch of Salt

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the almonds, ginger, sugar, salt, and flour.
  2. With your fingers, work in the cold butter until the mixture comes together as coarse chunks.

Asian Pear Pie

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Divide your pie filling evenly among all six par-baked pie crusts.
  3. Equally top each pie with your prepared crumble topping.
  4. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the crumble topping is lightly golden brown.
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Pistachio Shortbread Cookies with Pluot Jam

Pistachio Shortbread Cookies with Pluot Jam

Rich, buttery, salty, crumbly….sometimes a fresh home baked shortbread cookie can be the best dessert out (well a classic chocolate chip cookie still may trump it).

It has been extremely difficult to push myself to post this week. My editor had me stretched a bit thin, writing three reviews in one week. And as a writer the last thing you want to do is force some half-hearted story. Needless to say, like most Sundays, most of my day has been spent recharging. My husband and I have created a small ritual in eating bad and binge watching shows every Sunday.

A bit of inspiration has come from one of our favorites, the Great British Bake-off. And if you have not watched it, you absolutely must. If like me, you have finished all of the seasons, there is also a Great Australian Bake-off. Yes, the Aussies have a version too! Their “bakes”, on the GBBO, are filled with jams, and most pair great with tea. These pistachio cookies would make Paul and Marry proud. Scrummie!

Pluot Jam

Ingredients:

  • 7 Pluots, quartered
  • 1 Cup of Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup of Sweet Red Wine
  • 2 Tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar
  • Pinch of Salt

Directions:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients into a saucepan and heat over medium heat.
  2. Once bubbling, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for one hour or until reduced in half.
  3. Let cool before placing in sealable container(s). Can store in the fridge for up to one week, or freeze for 6 months.

Pistachio Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 Stick of Butter, cold and cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 Cup of Sugar
  • 1 Cup of All Purpose Flour
  • Dash of Salt
  • 1 Cup of Pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons of Pistachio Oil

Directions:

  1. Combine sugar, flour, and salt in a medium bowl.
  2. With your fingers, mix the butter into the dry mixture. Mix until it resembles course sand.
  3. Pour in pistachios and oil, mix with spoon until fully incorporated.
  4. Cover bowl, and let rest in the fridge for at least one hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a cookie sheet pan, with edges on all four sides, mash down your cookie mixture creating one even layer.
  6. Bake until lightly golden brown, about 30 minutes.
  7. After removing from oven, quickly take a cookie cutter, in the desired size, and stamp into cookies, creating scored cookies. Once cooled remove the stamped cookies from the sheet.

Khao Soi + Thailand’s Yummiest Dish

Khao Soi + Thailand’s Yummiest Dish

Creamy, salty, sweet, spicy, crunchy…those are only a fraction of the descriptors you can use when describing a dish that can only be found in the northern mountains of Thailand. Reminiscent of a yellow curry, this “soup” is creamier and sweeter than any curry I have ever eaten.
I generally dislike most curry, and until I spent a whooping $1.50 at a Chaing Mai hole-in-the-wall to try this popular dish, my recent fondness of curry had not spurred.
Since returning home to my normal 9-5, I have genuinely missed the kind people of Thailand and its beautiful cities. If you know me personally, you know it is a trip I just can’t stop talking about. (Sorry, friends.) My husband thinks I am crazy because I have craved Pad Thai at least once a week since returning Stateside.


What better way to pay homage to such a wonderful vacation than to try and recreate one of best dishes we tried. Though, my husband really liked the scorpion he ate at the night market, and that probably takes the cake for the most adventurous thing eaten on our trip.
Beware, this recipe has a ton of ingredients. The good news is most of the weird ones can be found at any local Asian market. I would not recommend trying to make this dish if you are a new cook.
Unlike many recipes you will find online for this dish, this one requires you to make your own curry paste — a rewarding but exhausting venture. Also, be sure to get fresh noodles, as the dried ones do not fry well.
You will notice in my pictures that my noodles are thin, do not make that mistake either.Thicker is better!

Khao Soi + Thailand’s Yummiest Dish

Ingredients

  • Tools:
  • Mortar and Pestle
  • Wok
  • Ingredients for the curry paste:
  • 1 whole dried Thai Chili
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 2 inches from the bottom of a stalk of fresh lemongrass
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh lime juice
  • 2 inch knob of fresh turmeric, peeled and diced
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro stalks
  • 1 teaspoon of whole coriander 6 pods of Thai black cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon of Thai shrimp paste
  • Salt
  • Ingredients for the "Soup":
  • 1 pound of fresh Chinese egg noodles
  • 2 (15 oz) cans of coconut milk
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons of palm sugar, brown sugar will work as a substitute
  • 4 chicken legs, split
  • Fish sauce
  • • Lime wedges and sliced shallots for topping

Instructions

  1. In a large piece of aluminum foil, combine all the ingredients for the curry but for the salt. Seal foil well into a pouch, making sure all the edges are sealed. You can cook the packet one of two ways, over burner flame or by placing in a cast iron skillet (it will damage any other kind of skillet) over high heat. Cook the pouch, occasionally turning, until it begins to smoke. This takes about 10 minutes total.
  2. Once the packet is cooled, transfer the contents to your mortar and pestle. Work to the ingredients until a paste is formed. Approximately 10 minutes.
  3. Add in the shrimp paste and salt, working until fully combined. Set aside. (Note: The shrimp paste smells extremely strong — and it is! But follow the amount in the recipe and it won’t overpower the dish.)
  4. Heat wok with enough canola or vegetable oil for frying. Once at shimmering at high heat, fry 1/4 of the egg noodles until golden brown. Drain onto paper towels season with salt, and set aside.
  5. Discard the oil from your wok, then add in 1 tablespoon of oil. Skim 2 tablespoons of fat from the top of your coconut milk and add to wok. Cook the mixture over medium high heat, stirring constantly, until it appears as though the mixture has broken. About 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add curry paste to oil and cook, stirring, for about 45 seconds.
  7. Stir in your coconut milk, then the chicken stock, and finish with your sugar.
  8. Add in your chicken legs, and bring soup to a simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes, being sure to occasionally turn the chicken.
  9. While the soup is cooking, bring a sauce pan full of salted water to a boil. Cook your the remaining rice noodles until al denti.
  10. Drain the noodles, and divide between four bowls. Top the noodles with your soup, and finish with your fried noodles. Serve immediately, and allow your guest to top their soup with the desired toppings.
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https://epicuropedia.com/2018/02/23/khao-soi-thailands-yummiest-dish/

Triple Layer Cookie Cake with Salted Caramel Butter Cream

Triple Layer Cookie Cake with Salted Caramel Butter Cream

Gooey salty sweet homemade caramel buttercream stuffed between three distinct layers of thick, soft, chewy cookie cake layers: rich chocolate chip, buttery white chocolate blondie, and a classic crumbly snicker doodle. This may be the best birthday cake ever imagined.

With my husband’s birthday sneaking up last week, I knew I had to bake him a cake since I do every year. And this year I wanted to top last year’s Chicken and Waffle Cake.

I am not going to lie; I did not get this one perfect by any means. Just by looking at the pictures you can see how messy the butter cream is in its application, and the slight lean this cake had.

In baking this cake, my day started with three failed attempts at making a caramel (even though I did not stir the sugar), and it continued its path downhill. Between running out of eggs and flour, forgetting to add half of my butter to the snicker doodle layer, under cooking each layer (because I underestimated just how thick each cookie would be), a broken butter cream that had to be re-whipped, and finally, rushing to finish stacking the cake before serving it that night.

Being an experienced baker there are many days you forget just how challenging baking really is, and this cake was a harsh reminder. Luckily, after a practice round I have improved the recipe so it does not have to be as challenging for you.

Due to my failed attempt, you will notice that your layers are not as thick as the ones pictured. I have adapted the recipe to actually make it work, which means slightly thinner layers.

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake Layer

Ingredients:

  • 2 Sticks of Butter, Softened
  • 3/4 Cups of Light Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup of Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Baking Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon of Vanilla Extract
  • 2 1/2 Cups of Flour Flour
  • 8 Ounces of Chocolate Chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, then grease and flour and 8 inch cake pan.
  2. In a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar.
  3. Add in vanilla, baking.., salt, and then eggs one at a time
  4. Mix in flour one cup at at time.
  5. Mix in chocolate chips.
  6. Pour batter into pan, bake in over for at least one hour.
  7. If after an hour the cake is not done, cook until toothpick comes clean from center.

Snicker Doodle Cookie Cake Layer

Ingredients:

  • 2 Sticks of Butter, Softened
  • 1 1/3 of Sugar
  • 2Eggs
  • 1/2 TablespoonVanilla Extract
  • 2  3/4Cups of AP Flour
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1Teaspoon of Baking Soda
  • 3/4Teaspoon of Cinnamon
  • Mixture of 1/4 Cup of Sugar and 1 Tablespoon of Cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Grease and flour and 8 inch cake pan, set aside.
  2. In your stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar.
  3. Add in vanilla, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.
  4. Mix in eggs and flour, alternating between the two.
  5. Pour into cake pan, top with cinnamon sugar mixture.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center.

White Chocolate Blondie Layer

Ingredients:

  • 2 Sticks of Butter
  • 1 1/2 Cups of Light Brown Sugar, packed
  • 1 Teaspoon of Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons of Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/2 Cups of AP Flour
  • 8 Ounces of White Chocolate Chips

Directions:

  1. Grease and flour an 8 inch cake pan, set aside.
  2. In your stand mixer, cream together sugar and butter.
  3. Add in salt, eggs, baking powder, and vanilla
  4. Add eggs and flour, alternating between the two.
  5. Mix in white chocolate.
  6. Pour into prepared cake pan, bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour or until toothpick comes out clean.

Salted Caramel Butter Cream

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 Cups of Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Of Water
  • 1/2 Cup of Heavy Cream
  • 9 Egg Whites
  • 6 Sticks of Butter, Softened
  • 1 Tablespoon of Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Teaspoon of Salt

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, heat water and 1 and 1/4 cup of sugar over medium heat, do not stir.
  2. Once the mixture is boiling, stir to dissolve sugar. Do not stir again after this.
  3. Bring mixture to a light amber color, remove from heat, add in cream then salt. Be sure to whisk until fully combined. Set aside.
  4. In a double boiler, heat egg whites and remaining sugar. Whisking until sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are warm.
  5. Pour whites into stand mixer and whip on high for 10 minutes or until stiff peaks form.
  6. Add butter, a little at a time, whisking on high until fully incorporated.
  7. Next add in the vanilla, then slowly pour in caramel. Mix until shiny and smooth, for a minute it may look broken.

Assemble the cake, layering the cookie cake layers with buttercream then topping the final layer with buttercream in any decorative manner you like.

Cheesecake Topped with Candied Blood Oranges and Dark Chocolate

Cheesecake Topped with Candied Blood Oranges and Dark Chocolate

Hi. My name is Lindy, and I am a blood orange addict. As anyone with an addictive personality can tell you, when you want something, you find a way to have it, but it was not until I began baking that I became infatuated with blood oranges. As anyone else who is fascinated with a flavor, I am always trying to come up with new ways to use them in the kitchen.

As many bakers know, blood oranges are suitable for baking due to their extra tart flavor. Due to this, however, if you’re using them in a baked sweet, you really need to find a way to cut through that tartness. Obviously I love to bake, and I know that most of my recipes have been baked goods, but I’ve included this recipe because it shows a different technique to deal with blood oranges in a sweet dish and still get that beautiful tart flavor.

IMG_4392

Candied Blood Orange

Ingredients:

  • 2 Blood Oranges
  • 2 Cups of Sugar
  • 2 Cups of Water

Directions:

  1. Thinly slice blood oranges with a mandoline or sharp knife, leaving on the rind.
  2. Fill a small saucepan with water and blood orange slices. Heat on medium until boiling. Let the slices boil for two to three minutes. Drain the liquid.
  3. In the same saucepan add in the two cups of sugar and two cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Allow the slices to simmer in the syrup mixture for at least 45 minutes, or until the white part of the rind is translucent.
  4. Once cooked remove slices and let cool on a cookie rack.

Cheesecake Batter

Ingredients:

  • 1 Sleeve of Chocolate Graham Crackers
  • 5 Tablespoons of Butter, melted
  • 32 Ounces of Cream Cheese
  • 1 1/3 Cups of Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon of Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Tablespoon of Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 Cup of Cream
  • 1/4 Cup of All Purpose Flour

Directions:

For the crust:

  1. With a food processor, crush graham crackers until they are a fine consistency. Grease and line a tin spring form cheesecake pan.
  2. Fill the bottom with your graham cracker crumbs, then pour over melted butter. Mix the butter and crumbs, with you hands, fully incorporated.
  3. Push down, making sure then entire bottom of the pan is evenly covered.

For the Cheesecake:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. While the oven heats, combine your cream cheese and sugar into a stand mixer. Mix on medium until the sugar is fully incorporated into the cream cheese.
  2. Add in your vanilla, salt, baking…..
  3. Add in your eggs, one at a time, being sure each egg is combined fully.
  4. Mix in your flour.
  5. Once smooth, pour mixture over crumb crust.
  6. Fill a large baking sheet with water, then gently place the cheesecake on the sheet. Very gently place the baking sheet into the oven.
  7. Let cook for at least one hour, or until the jiggle in the middle is slight.
  8. Once cooked, turn off the oven, and let the cheesecake cool in the oven leaving the oven door open, as this will prevent cracking on the top.

For the Cheesecake Topping:

  • 1 Bar of Dark Chocolate (the kind for baking, not eating)

Directions:

*It is your choice on how you want to use the chocolate. You can dip your candied oranges in the chocolate to coat,  you can drizzle the chocolate over the oranges once they are on top of the cheesecake, or create a drip cake effect. The options are endless.

  1. Create a double boiler by heating water over medium in a small saucepan on your stove, then topping the saucepan with a metal bowl. Do not let the bowl touch the water.
  2. Once the water is boiling, add your broken up chocolate into the metal bowl
  3. Stir constantly until about halfway melted. Then remove the bowl from the water.
  4. Keep stirring until all of the chocolate has melted, and fully combined.
  5. Use the chocolate to decorate how you would like. Dipping the oranges…etc.
  6. Top the cheesecake how you would like, see pictures for reference.

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Smoked Oyster Linguine Featuring a Sous Vide Egg Yolk

Smoked Oyster Linguine Featuring a Sous Vide Egg Yolk

Oysters in Savannah are as common as gnats in the summer. During the winter, most parties feature some sort of oyster roast, fried oysters, or another oyster dish. Personally, I love oysters almost any way you can cook them, and my love for oysters did not bloom until I moved to Savannah.

Most of the time, a party leaves behind a good many oysters that the hostess has nothing he/she can do with them. Well, that has all changed.

After our most recent party (that, of course, featured oysters), I found my self with a half of a bushel of oysters still alive. The challenge became how to utilize such a large amount of fresh oysters. Again, searching my pantry, I came up with a pasta that is reminiscent of a true carbonara, but a bit more refined.

Be warned, this pasta is extremely decadent and can go a long way. The addition of a sous vide egg yolk really sets it over the edge. I liked using two egg yolks per person.

My recommendation is to start the oysters first. With about 30 minutes left, begin the bacon, then the sous vide egg. Next shuck your oysters. Once finished with the oysters, start the water for the pasta.

Smoked Oysters

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 a Bushel of Fresh Oysters

Directions:

First soak the flavored wood chips you intend on using for at least one hour prior to cooking. When ready, heat your big green egg or smoker to 175 degrees Fahrenheit. Once at the correct temperature and holding, add in a few wood chips. Be careful to watch the temperature of your smoker after adding in the wood chips because when they catch fire, the open flame can raise the temperature quickly, given the low temperature of 175 degrees. Layer your raw oysters in single layer on the grate. Close the lid, and let smoke for 2 hours at 175. If before your two hours is up the smoke slows down, feel free to add more wood.

Once two hours have passed, remove your oysters. Clean the meat from each oyster, remove the adductor muscle, and store the meat in a sealable container.

Sous Vide Egg Yolk

Ingredients:

  • 8 Egg Yolks
  • Olive Oil

Directions:

Preheat your sous vide machine to 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Gently place your egg yolks in a sealable, heat proof container. Slowly pour over enough olive oil to fully submerge the egg yolks. Cover container, and gently place into the warm water. Sous-vide for at least one hour. The eggs yolks can sit in the sous vide for up to an additional hour before over cooking.

Smoked Oyster Linguine

Ingredients:

  • 12 slices of thick cut bacon
  • Smoked Oysters, see above
  • 1 Box of Linguine
  • 3 Cups of Fresh Spinach
  • 6 tablespoons of my Parmesan Parsley Butter (find it here)
  • 1 Lemon
  • 8 Sous Vided Egg Yolks
  • 2 Cups of Grated Parmesan

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a two sheet pans with foil or parchment paper. Layer your bacon on each pan in a single layer. Bake for about one hour, until the bacon is the color you prefer. Drain on paper towels, then crumble.

While the bacon cooks, prep and cook your egg yolks.

Once you have the egg yolks going, start a large pot of salted and oiled water over medium heat.

Get your oysters cleaned and ready.

Once your pot of water is at a boil, throw in your pasta. It should take about 9 minutes to cook the pasta al dente.

Heat a large sauce pan over medium heat. Throw in your butter and let melt. Then add the spinach. Cook your spinach for 2-3 minutes until wilted. Once wilted, add it the zest of your lemon, plus the fresh juice. Stir in your parmesan, bacon, and oysters.

By this time your pasta should be ready, so drain the noodles and add to the sauce.

Serve the pasta immediately in individual bowls, topping each with 2 egg yolks and a sprinkle of fresh Parmesan.

Blood Orange Upside-Down Pound Cake

Blood Orange Upside-Down Pound Cake

Tis the season for blood oranges! I popped by Whole Foods the other day to pick up a couple of things, and per usual I ended up loading my cart with a few (and by a few I mean a lot) items that were not on my list. Upon spotting the display of citrus with skin that looks stained with red juice, I could not help but grab they few that were left. Blood oranges are one of the more beautiful fruits, so once a year when I spot them it is impossible to resist.

Due to my distraction in the fruit, I did not think far enough into the future to grab any other special items needed for baking. This recipe would have to be one I made with items I already had in my pantry….eggs, sugar, butter, and milk. Sounds familiar right…so pound cake it is!

What better way to showcase the unique color of these gothic orbs than to make it the top of a cake.

Be warned, blood oranges are more adept for baking instead of juicing. Their juice is much more tart than the naval oranges we are used to.

This cake is made in a loaf pan, resulting in a much smaller portioned cake. The buttermilk poundcake is buttery and rich, and the blood oranges on top add quite a bit of tang.

Blood Orange Top

Ingredients:

  • Two blood oranges
  • 1/2 cup of sugar

Directions:

  1. Zest a blood orange and place the zest in a small mixing bowl. Peel the blood orange, then slice the meat into rounds. Place rounds in the same bowl as the zest and set aside.
  2. With the second orange, zest it into the bowl you are going to mix your cake batter in. After zested, juice the orange and place the juice in a small sauce pan.
  3. Add your sugar into the saucepan with the juice. Cook on medium until slightly reduced.
  4. Pour reduced juice mixture over orange rounds and set aside.

Blood Orange Upside-down Buttermilk Pound Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of softened butter
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of buttermilk
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 cups of flour
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Zest of one blood orange (from above)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a bread loaf pan and set aside.
  2. Add your butter and sugar into the bowl with your zest (from above). Cream together until smooth.
  3. Add your eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated. Mix in baking soda, salt, and lemon zest.
  4. Mix in flour and butter, alternating each until fully combined. Set aside.
  5. Arrange your oranges slices in a single layer on the bottom of your greased pan, then pour the reduced juice over the slices.
  6. Slowly pour your batter into the pan, as to not splatter the reduction.
  7. Bake on middle rack for one hour. Let cool fully before inverting cake from the pan.

Smoked Oysters Two Ways

Smoked Oysters Two Ways

Since the holidays are officially over, my friends and I are looking for excuse to continue having celebrations. Last year, by happenstance, we threw together an oyster smoking and Christmas Tree burning party. I can’t decide if this was due to receiving a Big Green Egg as a Christmas present making my husband and I anxious to cook every meal on it or because my friends and I ‘s had nothing to do with our leftover Christmas trees. Nevertheless, the first party was a hit. I threw together a menu with almost everything done on the egg, including smoked bread, oysters, and sea bass.

This year my friends were sure to ask that we have another party with he same oysters, but instead of preparing the entire menu I asked everyone to bring over something we could throw on the egg. The result was perfect, first course was smoked bread to rip and dunk in truffle white cheddar spread and top with prosciutto. Next, my friend, Maria, prepared a traditional Caesar with romaine we lightly grilled, then topped with homemade dressing and fresh cracked black pepper. Finally, we had smoked oysters two ways. These babies are quick and easy. Together we all quickly shucked the fresh oysters, then I topped them with the butters, threw them on the grill for three minutes, then passed around the tray. Each oyster flavor stands up on its own. The chipotle butter is balanced with sweet honey, firefly chipotle, and bitter whiskey. The Parmesan brings needed relief from the heat with the savory taste of garlic and herbs.

Once our bellies were full, we gathered around the fire pit in my backyard and picked off each tree one at a time. It is amazing the hours of fun burning dry christmas trees results in. I am not going to lie, we coordinated each tree burning with a related song. Nelly’s Its Getting Hot in Here, Snoop’s Drop It Like It’s Hot, and Lil Wayne’s Fireman were just some of the our brilliant picks.

Chipotle Bourbon Butter

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 stick of softened butter
  • 2 tablespoons of chipotle sauce
  • 1/2 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • A dash of salt

Directions:

In a small food processor, combine all ingredients until fully combined. Transfer into small Tupperware container and store in fridge until ready to use

Parmesan Parsley Butter

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 stick of softened butter
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons of finely grated Parmesan
  • A dash of salt

Directions:

In a small food processor, combine all ingredients until fully combined. Transfer into small Tupperware container and store in fridge until ready to use

Smoked Oysters Two Ways:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 bushels of cleaned fresh local oysters
  • Wood Chips
  • Chipotle Bourbon Butter
  • Parmesan Parsley Butter

Directions:

An hour or two prior to cooking, soak your wood chips in a bowl of water to prevent burning too quickly. Once ready to cook, get your smoker, grill, or big green egg to a semi-high heat; I cooked these at about 400 degrees farienhiet. While smoker is heating, start shucking your oysters making sure to keep all the briny juice in. Organize your oysters on a large tray, and top each one with a teaspoon of your desired butter. Set aside until your smoker is ready.

Once the smoker is at desired temperature, add you wood chips. Give the chips a minute or two to begin smoking. Place your oysters in single layer on the smoker, and cook for three minutes until the butter is bubbly; you should be able to shut the lid for a minute or two. Remove, place back on tray, and serve immediately.

Part 2: Revamping Leftover Caramel Popcorn

Part 2: Revamping Leftover Caramel Popcorn

For those who know me, know I am an ATL-ien at heart. I moved to the low country a few short years ago, but still take pride in my first home that was burned by Sherman. So, for part two of my last post, revamping your leftover Christmas popcorn, I am taking inspiration from my first home.

Those of you that know me also know that my favorite restaurant in the “A” is JCT Kitchen, a Ford Fry creation. JCT has everything that is right with the south: soul food that is fresh and modern. Although it is hard to order something besides JCT’s signature fried chicken, there are a ton of worthy adversaries on the menu. One worthy dish is the Cracker Jack Salad. Yes Cracker Jack, as in the childhood treat with a surprise at the bottom the box. By no means is this a healthy salad, but what truly southern cuisine is. Unfortunately JCT no longer carries the salad on their menu, but now with the recipe below you can recreate it at home.

This salad has everything you can imagine, and each element contributes to a balanced bite. The arugula base adds the right amount of bite to combat the sweet hit of caramel popcorn. Sharp red onions work with the tangy yet sweet apple vinegarette. Salt comes from the thinly shaved prosciutto. And to ensure you are actually reminded of a box of Cracker Jacks, the salad features spiced peanuts.

Although it is a salad, this is not one that will work for your resolute diet but the taste is worth the splurge!

Apple Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 apple (of any variety), peeled, cored, and sliced
  • A pinch of salt
  • A pinch of ground white pepper
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sugar

Directions:

Purée the apple in a food processor or blender until smooth. Add all of the remaining ingredients listed above into the food processor. Blend until fully incorporated, 10-20 seconds. Place in sealed container and in fridge until ready to use. Note: this dressing will stay fresh for about one day.

Spiced Peanuts

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of raw shelled peanuts
  • 1/2 tablespoon of melted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper powder

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine all of the above ingredients into a tupperware bowl. Place lid on the bowl and shake vigorously until the peanuts are evenly coated. Spread onto a baking sheet in an even layer. Bake 5-10 minutes until the peanuts become fragrant.

Cracker Jack Salad

Ingredients for large salad that feeds at least four:

  • 5 ounces (by weight) of Arugula
  • 1 cup of leftover caramel popcorn
  • 1/2 cup of Spiced Peanuts (recipe above)
  • 1/2 of a red onion
  • 1/2 cup of blue cheese crumbles
  • 7 ounces (by weight) of Prosciutto
  • 1/4 of a cup Apple Vinaigrette to start

Directions:

Cut an onion in half down the middle and remove skin from one half, store the other half for later. Cut tip of the onion bulb off before slicing the remaining onion in half to create two half circles. Thinly slice your halves of red onion.

In a large bowl for serving, place your arugula in the bowl. Top with your onion, prosciutto, spiced peanuts, and blue cheese.

Pour over dressing to taste or enough to fully coat the salad. I started with 1/4 of a cup, and added more until the salad was as covered as desired. Toss to coat. Add more dressing if needed, and toss again. Finish by topping the salad with the popcorn. Serve immediately.

Part 1: Revamping Leftover Cheddar Popcorn

Part 1: Revamping Leftover Cheddar Popcorn

It snowed here in the low country yesterday (something as rare as hens’ teeth), and with the snow I found myself diving into the pantry to come up with a few delicious meals. Like many people, I was given one of those delectable buckets of flavored popcorn for Christmas; you know the ones with cheddar, caramel, and sometime kettle corn. If you have never received one of these, I suggest you ask for one next Christmas and, if not, find one at your local corner store. The trifecta of popcorn is the perfect treat for sitting around a weekend fire, watching Netflix, and snacking. Personally, I like to mix the cheddar and caramel for a sweet & salty treat.

This year I did not quite make it through the entire bucket, even with the help of my husband. So when searching the pantry for a lunch that would warm my soul after playing in the snow for a few hours, I spotted my popcorn tin. Further in the back I located a few cans of tomato bisque, and in my fridge a bit of leftover pesto. Warm tomato soup with a crunchy topping would make for the perfect lunch. I am of the belief that tomato soup should always have a topping; it is a blank canvas for so many things: cheese, sourcream, crackers, goldfish, and apparently popcorn.

First, I placed the soup on the stove to warm. Then, I coated some popcorn in my leftover pesto and heated it to bring the stale popcorn alive. The aroma of garlic and herbs filled my tiny home, very reminiscent of garlic bread. The flavor of the warm pesto popcorn is deeply savory with a tiny bite of garlic. Because pesto is a wet mixture, it is important to heat the pesto popcorn at a low temperature, which dries the pesto out without over-crisping the popcorn.

After success with the pesto coating, I figured my husband would enjoy a topping with little bit of kick to top his bowl. A couple of spices from the spice cabinet with a bit of butter to coat the popcorn, and I was left with a crunchy little ball of firey cheese. The smoke ghost peppar salt that is included in the recipe below is something I had in my pantry, but you can find it online or at a local gourmet spice shop. If you are unable to locate it at all, any spicy seasoning will work, curry powder, harissa, etc.

Spiced Cheddar Popcorn

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 teaspoon of paprika (smoked or not)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of smoked ghost pepper salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon of melted butter
  • 1.5 cups of leftover cheddar popcorn

Directions:

Preheat oven to 250 degrees farienhiet, and line a sheet pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. In a medium Tupperware container, combine all of the spices. Next add in the popcorn, and pour over melted butter. Place a lid on the Tupperware and shake vigorously until all of the popcorn is evenly coated.

Spread into an even layer on your baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes. Immediately top your heated soup and serve.

Pesto Cheddar Popcorn

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups of leftover cheddar popcorn
  • 2 teaspoons of pesto (you can make it yourself or use store bought)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 250 degrees farienhiet, and line a sheet pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. In a medium Tupperware container, combine the pesto and popcorn. Place a lid on the your Tupperware, and shake vigorously until the popcorn is evenly coated.

Spread into an even layer on your baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes. If the popcorn is still soggy, place it back into the over for another 5 to 10 minutes. Immediately top your heated soup and serve.