Thursday, July 21, 2011

Steak and Kidney Pie

There is just nothing like a nice piece of kidney! Or is there? Okay, so eating a kidney may not sound like the most appetizing thing in the world, but as I am willing to try anything, you can bet I decided to sink my teeth into some of those bad boys! And guess what?? To my surprise, I actually liked it! Granted, I did eat it mixed in with other flavors and meats, but still, I was definitely pleasantly surprised.


So why did I decide to try a slice of steak and kidney pie? Well, first off, I am obsessed with anything related to the UK, and seeing as how this is definitely more of a British dish, it was on my "to eat" list.  Second, I am usually pretty adventurous when it comes to trying new foods, and apparently kidneys were not enough to drive me away.  And finally, because as most of you have figured out by now, I am in love with the Harry Potter books.  Yes, in love.  Therefore, since steak and kidney pie is one of the many dishes enjoyed in the Harry Potter books, I knew right away that I would have to someday eat the stuff!


Steak and Kidney Pie

Mmm, lamb kidney!
A little nauseating to work
with, but it's worth it!
Ingredients:
-1 to 1 1/2 pounds chuck steak, diced
-1/2 pound ox or lamb kidney, diced
-1 large onion, chopped
-1 garlic clove, minced
-1 cup beef or chicken stock
-3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
-2 tablespoons tomato paste
-Salt and pepper to taste
-Olive oil
-One egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash

For the dough:
Use a prepared dough, such as Pillsbury, a recipe of your choice, or my recipe that can be found HERE.

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Working in batches, place the chuck steak in a frying pan until browned on the outside.  Remove the steak from the pan and set aside.  Do the same for the kidneys and set them aside with the steak.

In a medium saucepan, drizzle a little olive oil and sauté the onions until they just start to brown.  Add the garlic and sauté only for about 30 seconds.

Stir in the meats, flour, and salt and pepper, and mix well.  Slowly add in the broth and tomato paste.  The broth should cover the meat, if not, add a little more broth or water to cover.  Let simmer, uncovered, for about an hour.  The top may need to be skimmed during cooking.

Once the mixture has thickened and the meats are tender, add a little more salt and pepper if needed.  Remove the mixture from the heat and let cool until it is lukewarm.

Meanwhile, roll out your dough and line a 9 inch round or square baking dish with one half of the dough.  Pour in the meat mixture and seal with the other half of the dough.  Seal the edges of the pie together and make a few slits on the top of the pie.  Place the pie dish on top of a baking pan in case there is any leaking during the cooking process so the pan will catch the drippings and not the bottom of your oven!


Brush the top of the pie with the egg wash and bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Allow the pie to cool slightly out of the oven before serving.  Enjoy!

This pie is also a featured recipe on Wiki - Thank you so much!
Steak and Kidney Pie
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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ahi Tuna with Cucumber Sauce and Salad

With all of this heat and humidity that has been happening lately, not many people are really in the mood to eat heavier meals, or even turn on the oven for that matter!  Since I was in the mood for something light and easy, I decided to go with Ahi Tuna... but what to serve it with?? As a part of Food Networks SummerFest, the vegetable of the week was cucumber.  Therefore, I decided to serve my Ahi Tuna over a bed of sliced cucumbers with a creamy cucumber sauce! This dish is so light and refreshing and will definitely satisfy you during these hot summer months!



Ahi Tuna with Cucumber Sauce and Salad
Ingredients

Tuna:
-1 ahi tuna steak 
-Olive oil
-Ground coriander
-Salt and pepper to taste

Cucumber Sauce:
-1 cucumber, finely chopped (seeds removed)
-1 cup mayonnaise (or sour cream or plain yogurt if you do not have mayonnaise)
-1 garlic clove
-1 teaspoon lemon juice
-1/2 tsp dried dill weed (parsley can be used if you do not have dill)
-Salt and pepper to taste

Cucumber Salad:
-1 cucumber thinly sliced
-1/2 onion thinly sliced
-Sliced radishes 
(You can add any vegetable or herb you would like, these are the three that I used)

Directions:
Prepare cucumber sauce either the night before, or several hours before serving.  In a food processor, mix all of the ingredients except for the mayonnaise, salt and pepper.  Remove the cucumber mixture from the food processor, and pour into a bowl.  Mix in the mayonnaise with a spoon or whisk.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.  

For the salad, slice the cucumber, onion, radishes, and any other vegetable or herb that you would like to add. Set aside. 

Using a pastry brush, coat the ahi tuna steak with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and coriander.  Place the tuna in a skillet and cook for about 2 minutes on each side.  Do not overcook or the tuna will be too rubbery.  You want the tuna to be raw in the middle.  Once the tuna is done, remove from heat and allow to rest for a few minutes. 

Serve the tuna over a bed of cucumbers with the sauce on the side or drizzled on top.  Eat up and enjoy this light and delicious meal! 

For more great cucumber recipes, check out the following posts on SummerFest at Food Network!

What’s Gaby Cooking: Cucumber-Basil Gimlet
In Jennie’s Kitchen: Radish-Cucumber Crostini
Grecian Kitchen: Summer Cucumber Salad
Cooking With My Kid: Cucumber Limeade
CIA Dropout: Relishing Cucumbers
Healthy Eats: Cool Cucumber Soup
Food for 7 Stages of Life: Cucumber Cherry Salsa
Cooking With Elise: Green Tea Cucumber Pops
Virtually Homemade: Cold Thai Cucumber-Mint Soup
Daydreamer Desserts: Cubanita Margarita
Sweet Life Bake: Agua de Pepino
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Monday, July 18, 2011

Treacle Fudge

After some online searches and road trips to supposed British food stores that no longer existed, I finally found a legitimate British foods store near my home! I was so excited to finally find a place that sells British goods that I cannot normally get, like treacle! Granted, I could have substituted another ingredient, but I wanted to real thing (I'm picky like that)!


Treacle is a syrup, also known as golden syrup.  There is a dark version that is known as black treacle or dark syrup and is more bitter compared to the sweeter golden syrup.  Treacle can be used to make tarts, but it can also be used to make the delicious, melt in your mouth, treacle fudge! In continuation of my Harry Potter tribute, I could not resist making this sugary treat, as Harry seems to be quite a fan of anything with treacle!
Treacle Fudge 
(Adapted from the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook)

Ingredients:
-1 cup sugar
-1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
-1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, unsalted
-1/2 cup heavy cream
-2 tablespoons dark or golden treacle (I used golden)
-1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
-1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:
Lightly grease an 8-inch pan and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, dark brown sugar, butter, heavy cream, treacle, and cream of tartar.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring continuously until the butter has completely melted and everything is combined.  If sugar crystals start to form, use a pastry brush dipped in warm water to brush down the sides of the pan.

Continue to cook the mixture without stirring until a candy thermometer reads 240 degrees F.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Allow the mixture to cool for about 5 minutes.

Using a hand held beater, or spoon, stir the mixture vigorously for about 15-20 minutes.  This will get tiring, but the end result is worth the effort! Keep beating the mixture until it is no longer glossy and starts to thicken up like peanut butter.

Scrape the mixture out of the pan and into the prepared dish.  Pat the mixture down to make sure it is smooth on top and evenly spread.  Wrap in plastic wrap and allow to harden and cool.  Cut into squares and pop a piece of magic into your mouth! I promise, as unhealthy as this recipe is, it is worth the indulgence!

For more Harry Potter related recipes, see my Harry Potter page. Enjoy!


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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Butterbeer Cupcakes!

What better dessert to accompany your warm glass of frothy Butterbeer than with Butterbeer Cupcakes!? I know, it is definitely a pretty unhealthy combination, but it is okay to splurge every now and then.  Besides, I'm still celebrating the release of the last Harry Potter film as you can see in my Harry Potter tribute post.

Now, as with the Butterbeer recipes, I definitely had to do some research on finding the perfect butterbeer cupcake recipe! Once again, I could not decide, and narrowed it down to my two favorite recipes thanks to Yummly and MuggleNet.  Both recipes are very sweet, but I cannot pick a favorite.  I actually think that I may try combining the cupcake from MuggleNet with the frosting from yummly in order to get the best of both worlds!

Butterbeer Cupcakes

Recipe #1 (adapted from Yummly)

Ingredients:
-2 cups flour
-1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, unsalted
-1/2 cup sugar
-1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
-3 eggs
-1/2 cup milk
-1/2 cup cream soda
-2 tablespoons butterscotch topping
-1 teaspoon vanilla

Frosting:
-1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, unsalted
-1/3 cup butterscotch topping, plus extra for drizzling
-1 tablespoon cream soda
-1 16 oz package of confectionary sugar

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line cupcake tins with cupcake wrappers. 

In a bowl, sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.  In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and the sugars.  Beat in the eggs one at a time.  Once the eggs are well incorporated, add in the milk, cream soda, vanilla, and butterscotch.  Pour the mixture into the cupcake tins and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool on a rack.

Meanwhile, prepare the frosting.  Cream the butter and add the butterscotch and cream soda.  Sift in the confectionary sugar until well combined.  Frost the cupcakes and drizzle with butterscotch topping!


Recipe #2 (adapted from MuggleNet)

Ingredients:
-2 cups flour
-1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
-1/2 cup sugar
-1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
-3 large eggs
-1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
-1 teaspoon butter flavoring
-1/2 cup buttermilk
-1/2 cup cream soda

Ganache:
-1 12oz package butterscotch chips
-1 cup heavy cream

Frosting:
-1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
-1/3 cup butterscotch ganache
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-1 teaspoon butter flavoring
-1/8 teaspoon salt
-1 16 oz bag of confectionary sugar
-Splash of milk as needed

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a cupcake tin with cupcake wrappers. 

In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside. 

In a separate bowl, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and brown sugar until combined.  One at a time, beat in the eggs, then add the vanilla and butter flavoring. 

Alternate adding in the buttermilk, cream soda, and flour mixture into the egg mixture, until everything is well combined. Then, pour the mixture into the cupcake liners.  Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.  Allow cupcakes to cool on a rack. 

Meanwhile, prepare the butterscotch ganache.  In a saucepan, heat the heavy cream until it just boils.  Place the butterscotch chips in a bowl, and pour the hot cream over the chips.  Whisk until the chips melt and the ingredients are combined. Set aside. 

To make the frosting, cream the butter, and add in all of the wet ingredients until combined.  Sift in the powdered sugar until it is completely incorporated.  Add a tablespoon of milk if needed to loosen up the frosting to the consistency you want.  

Finally, frost the cupcakes and then drizzle the remaining ganache over the top.  

Both of these recipes go extremely well with Butterbeer! I was actually quite pleased how well the flavors matched one another.  Enjoy! 

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Butterbeer

As I promised in my Harry Potter tribute post, I am posting the recipe for Butterbeer, the delicious drink straight from the Harry Potter books.  Whenever I read the books and Butterbeer was mentioned, I would work up such a craving for it! The fact that I managed to work up a craving for something I had never had always blew my mind, but hey, the name alone is just so intriguing!

Now, I know that many people have their own idea of what Butterbeer should taste like, but for me, I always imagined that it actually had butter and beer.  Not only that, but it is described as being a warm drink in the books, so I am an advocate of having hot Butterbeer (although I have tried it cold too).   Furthermore, even though the drink is not strong enough to get the students in the books tipsy, it did have quite an effect on the house elves, so I figure Butterbeer should have a little kick! After a lot of research and recipe trials, I was finally able to narrow it down to my two favorite recipes! Oh, and I also found out that Butterbeer was actually a real drink back in the days of King Henry VIII!

Butterbeer

The first recipe was my boyfriend's favorite and is not as sweet, while I think I like the second one best (it's a little sweeter), but I'm still sipping on both trying to decide! :) The second recipe can also be made kid friendly!

Recipe 1 (adapted from Hans Milieu - the recipe was in milliliters so I just converted)

Ingredients:
-13.5 tablespoons of lemon lime soda
-6 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of Guinness
-2 tablespoons butterscotch schnapps (or butterscotch syrup if you prefer)
-2 tablespoons honey
-1 egg yolk
-1 tablespoon butter, unsalted
-A pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg
-Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream topping

Directions:
In a saucepan, bring the Guinness and lemon lime soda to a boil.  Once it boils, remove from heat and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolk, schnapps, honey, cinnamon, and nutmeg together.  Very slowly add in the Guinness and lemon lime soda mixture, whisking continuously so the egg does not cook.

Once everything is combined, return the mixture to the saucepan and let simmer on low heat for 5 minutes.  Add the tablespoon of butter and stir it in until it is completely melted.  Remove from heat and pour into glass mugs.  Add a scoop of vanilla or whipped cream if you like.  Drink it while it's warm and just enjoy!


Recipe #2 (adapted from Chica and Jo and can also be made kid friendly)

Ingredients:
-1 cup milk
-1/2cup powdered sugar
-2 tablespoons butterscotch schnapps (optional)
-1 teaspoon honey
-1 teaspoon cornstarch
-1 teaspoon vanilla (the original called for vanilla and nut flavoring, but I did not have that)
-Whipped cream
-Butterscotch topping

Directions:
In a saucepan, whisk together the milk, powdered sugar, honey, and cornstarch and bring the mixture to a boil.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In a mug or glass, pour in the vanilla and butterscotch schnapps (if using).  Pour the hot mixture over the vanilla and butterscotch schnapps in the glass and stir together.  Now, according to this recipe, when you pour the milk mixture over the flavoring in the glass, it will turn the drink into a light yellow color.  However, my mixture still looked pure white so I added a couple drops of yellow food coloring to get the full look of Butterbeer!

Place whipped cream on top and drizzle some butterscotch topping over it.  Serve warm and enjoy! I hope you love these recipes and would love to hear which one you like best!

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Last Stop, Hogwarts! A Harry Potter Tribute!

For those of you who do not know this, I am a Harry Potter fanatic! I was 9 years old when I first began reading Harry Potter, and over the years, as more books and movies have been released, I feel as though I have literally grown up with the characters.  Although it may be a fantasy, it is one of those series that carries you through and comforts you.  I have been long anticipating the release of the final installment of the Harry Potter films.  Even though I am extremely excited to go see the film at midnight tonight, I am also somewhat depressed - it's the end of an era, after all!


With the tears that I will be shedding aside, I am here to celebrate! I decided that in order to honor the Harry Potter series, I would not only re-read all of the books and have a movie marathon, but that I would also make several of the foods and drinks from the Harry Potter books. There are so many treats mentioned throughout the Harry Potter books (including traditional British dishes and made-up magical treats), that whenever I was reading one of them, I always found myself imagining what the treats must taste like and working up a craving for them. Therefore, in order to satisfy my cravings and to bring the world of Harry Potter to life, I decided to make a handful of British dishes that are not common in the US and also include a special treat from the books – Butterbeer!

First up, Pumpkin Pasties (recipe's for all of these dishes coming soon)!
These delectable little treats were one of the first things (among many others) that Harry bought off of the trolley on his first trip on the Hogwarts Express.  It is also where he became friends with Ron Weasley as Harry shared his treats with him. 


Okay, so even though the second part of this pie (the kidney) may not sound too appetizing, I promise it is delicious! This pie is a staple of British cuisine and is eaten for dinner more than once during the Harry Potter books. 

And for an after dinner dessert, Butterbeer Cupcakes!

Butterbeer Cupcakes, although they are not made in the book, are a treat that many have baked in honor of the famous drink, Butterbeer

Then, there is Hogsmeade Village.  Hogsmeade is the only all wizarding village in Britain, and the students of Hogwarts ages 13 and up, are allowed to visit the village on certain weekends. Honeydukes is a famous sweetshop in Hogsmeade where Harry and his fellow Hogwarts students stock up on candy and other delicious sweets!  One of those sweets is Treacle Fudge....

This fudge will definitely hit your sweet tooth's spot! It is made using a golden syrup (treacle) and is one of Harry's favorite treats!

At Honeydukes, one can also find Cockroach Clusters!

Don't let the name fool you of course, Cockroach Clusters do not actually have cockroaches in them, but the Weasley twins did try and convince their younger brother Ron that there were!  These are also extremely easy to make.  Just take precooked cho mein noodles and roll them around in melted chocolate.  Scoop out little mounds one at a time and let them harden and cool on a baking sheet.  They are very tasty and provide a nice little chocolate fix! 

And last but certainly not least, the absolute favorite drink among Harry and his friends, Butterbeer!

Butterbeer was first introduced in the third Harry Potter book when the students of Hogwarts visited Hogsmeade.  Butterbeer could always be found at the Three Broomsticks (local pub), and although it does not have much of an impact on the students, it can make the house elves in the books quite tipsy! Now, whenever I read Harry Potter, Butterbeer was always described as being warm.  If you notice, there are two different types of butterbeer that I made.  The first one literally has butter and beer, while the second one uses butterscotch schnapps, but can also be made kid friendly! Both are equally good, but I think I prefer the second one, although I am still sampling both of them in order to decide! ;) I promise to try and have all of these recipes up by next week! 

I hope you all enjoyed my tribute to Harry Potter as much as I did!  Something like this does not happen often (Star Wars could arguably another example), but when it does, it really allows the child, the daydreamer, and the adventurer in all of us to be released.  Although it has been years since I first started reading the Harry Potter books, and many may think that this is dorky or childish - that is the point! I just want everyone to let go and have fun, and be able to be a wizard right along with Harry Potter for a day!  To send you off, here is a little look back into the past 10 years of Harry Potter:



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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Blueberry Crostata

As most of you already know, aside from anything containing chocolate, I absolutely love fresh blueberries - especially when they are in a freshly baked treat! I had just picked up some fresh blueberries and wanted to use them in a dessert, but I was also really craving a crostata.  A crostata is a baked Italian treat that is in between a tart and a pie.  There are many different fillings that can be used, but I had only ever had them with raspberry jam and apples.  However, since my beautiful blueberries were staring me in the face, I decided to go for a blueberry crostata.  I was hesitant at first because I did not want it to turn out too tart, but oh my god... the end result was amazing! I've already had requests from my family to make them a blueberry crostata! If I received approval from my Italian grandmother, then I know that I must have done something right! 
Blueberry Crostata
Ingredients

Crust (Makes 2):
-2 cups all-purpose flour
-1/4 cup sugar
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1 cup (2 sticks) butter, unsalted
-6 tablespoons ice water
-1 egg, lightly beaten with a splash of water for egg wash

Filling (enough for one crust - double if making two):
-1 pint fresh blueberries
-2 tablespoons sugar, plus extra for sprinkling 
-1 tablespoon cornstarch 
-1 orange zested and juiced or 1 lemon zested and juiced (I use/prefer orange)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

In a bowl, mix the flour, sugar, and salt together.  Slowly add in the butter until the mixture begins to crumble together.  Add the ice water one tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and cut into two equal sized pieces.  Wrap in saran wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.  I made two crostata's so I left both mounds of my dough in the fridge, but if you are only making one, then you can keep the extra dough in the freezer until ready to use.

Meanwhile, mix the blueberries in a bowl with the lemon and orange zests and juices, sugar, and cornstarch.

When the dough is ready, roll it out on a prepared pan into a circle and pour the blueberry filling in the middle.  Leave two inches from the edge of the dough so that you have enough room to fold the dough over at the edges.  Fold and pleat the dough all the way around so that everything is sealed.  Brush the dough with the egg wash and sprinkle some sugar over the top.

Place the crostata into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the crust is a nice golden brown and the blueberries are bubbling.  Serve warm and enjoy!
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