Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My French Themed Birthday!

Today is my birthday, and although I am not excited about turning 23 (from here on out I will be turning 21 again every year), I figured I would take advantage of my boyfriend doting on me and enjoy a French themed birthday! I miss France so much and when Dave and I left last summer, we have done nothing but talk about when we would go back! However, since our lives are crazy at the moment with my graduate program, his work, and us moving to a new town, traveling to France is not in the near future :(
Dave and I in Paris 2010



Rather then dwell on the fact that our travel plans will be on hold until at least next year, I figured I would bring France to myself today! To start, David took me to Cafe Mirabelle in Portsmouth, NH.  I did not want to take any photos inside because it is a small and intimate setting (only about 10 tables), but it is absolutely amazing! They serve country French cuisine, and the chef Stephan, is actually from France.  He met his wife while she was traveling in France and they returned to the US together and have had a successful little restaurant ever since!


If you are ever in New England or live in the area, you must check out this restaurant! I recommend:

Crêpe Aux Champignons - Wild mushrooms sautéed with fresh rosemary, garlic, veal stock and cream folded in a French crêpe
Bouillabaisse - Scallops, shrimp, salmon and mussels in a lobster tomato saffron bouillon. Served with an aioli canapé
Magret of Duck - Boneless breast of duck roasted medium rare with portobello mushrooms on a tangy balsamic vinegar reduction
Profiterole - French vanilla ice cream in a pastry topped with a homemade Grand Marnier hot fudge sauce.
Clafoutis - Country French apple custard cake served warm with cinnamon crème anglaise
Crème Brulee - Made with Cointreau and fresh vanilla beans

Cafe Mirabelle also offers cooking classes, private parties, crepe breakfasts on Sundays, and more! Check out there website here: http://www.cafemirabelle.com/

Now, for my birthday cake, since I actually make cakes as a part-time job, I usally get stuck baking my own! You can see last years cake here: FRIENDS themed B-Day Cake.  This year though, I told David that I did not want to do anything crazy and was just going to buy dessert! But, I did not get a cake from just anywhere.  No, I purchased my cake (and other desserts) from one of my favorite chocolate shops, L.A. Burdicks! 


For those of you who live near Boston, in Harvard Sq on Brattle St. there is this tiny little shop that serves the BEST hot chocolate, pastries, and...wait....wait for it...... French Macarons! Jill, I thought of you when I discovered these here! :)



Since I am not in Boston much these days, I decided to stock up and ordered two if their pastries in cake form - their chocolate birthday cake and the hazelnut orange cake, along with an assortment of macaron flavors (I will be working out extra this week)! The flavors included ginger, coffee, pistachio, strawberry, chocolate, lavender, and citrus, and they are just to die for!


L.A. Burdick, along with Cafe Mirabelle, is a place you must visit if you are ever in the area. You can also order some, but not all, of their pastries online: http://www.burdickchocolate.com/default.asp

So although David and I may not be able to fly to France today, I have to say that this has been one of the best birthdays spent pigging out on my favorite French foods! 

The card David made me. This is why I love him! :)
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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Rhubarb Crumble with Creme Anglaise

For whatever reason, even though I can buy rhubarb here in the states, I never did until now.  I just always waited until I was in Ireland to eat fresh Rhubarb Crumble from a Bed and Breakfast.  There really is nothing like a home cooked meal with freshly baked treats from an Irish kitchen! Sadly though, I am not in Ireland at the moment, and I have been craving Rhubarb all summer long! Therefore, I decided to cave and buy rhubarb at my local market since they had it fresh and on sale!


Rhubarb Crumble 
Ingredients


Filling:
-1 pound fresh rhubarb, sliced (frozen works fine too)
-1 cup sugar
-1 lemon zested
-1 teaspoon cornstarch

Topping:
-1 cup all-purpose flour
-1/3 cup sugar
-1/3 cup light brown sugar
-1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced
-1/2 cup cooking oats
-1/2 cup slivered almonds
-Pinch of cinnamon
-Pinch of salt

Creme Anglaise:
-1/4 cup sugar
-1 cup milk
-1/2 cup heavy cream
-3 egg yolks
-1 tablespoon cornstarch
-1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
-Pinch of salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a bowl, mix together the rhubarb, sugar, zest, and cornstarch.  Pour into a pie dish or individual ramekins and set aside.

In another bowl, mix the flour, sugars, cinnamon, and salt.  Mix in the butter until the dough crumbles and the butter is the size of peas. Using your hands, add in the oats and almonds until combined.

Spread the topping evenly over the rhubarb mixture and bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes, or until the rhubarb is bubbling out.  If using individual ramekins the cooking time may be a little less.

Meanwhile, prepare the creme anglaise.  In a saucepan, add the sugar, cornstarch, salt, milk, and heavy cream.  Stir over medium-high heat until sugar and cornstarch are completely dissolved.  Heat the mixture but do not boil.  Turn the heat down low and temper the eggs by pouring half of the heated mixture over the eggs, stirring continuously.  Then, pour the eggs and heated mixture back into the saucepan and stir over medium heat until the mixture thickens and begins to bubble.

Once ready, remove the mixture from the heat and pour through a sieve into a bowl.  Stir in the vanilla.  Let cool before wrapping and placing in the refrigerator to cool.  If you'd like, you can also serve it while it is still warm.

Pour the creme anglaise over the rhubarb crumble, take a spoon, dig in, and enjoy!

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Aperol Spritz

These past few weeks have been pretty hectic.  All of my final papers were due for my masters program and Dave and I moved into our new apartment.  So after 50+ pages of writing on and on about higher education and after numerous cuts and bruises from lifting and moving furniture, I figured that it was time for a drink!

I now have a couple of weeks off until the craziness of the fall semester begins again, but in the meantime, I am treating myself with rest, relaxation, and Aperol! Aperol is an Italian aperitif (similar to Campari but sweeter with an orange taste) and has only been around for a few years in the US, but if you can get your hands on some, it will be well worth the buy!

Aperol Spritz
Ingredients:
-1 ounce Aperol (for a larger glass use 2 ounces)
-2-3 ounces Prosecco
-Splash of soda water
-Orange for garnish

Directions:
In a chilled glass, pour in the Aperol. Then, pour the Prosecco and finish with a splash of soda water.  Garnish with an orange slice or peel.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy!

*Warning: Consuming Aperol Spritz may cause happiness, feelings of relaxation, and an overall sense of calmness - just what a grad student needs! ;) Pin It

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Swordfish with Béarnaise and Asparagus-Lemon Risotto

I actually missed my very first blogiversary! I cannot believe I missed it! It was August 5th and I had been telling myself all summer long that I was going to try and do something great, and then I missed it! Ugh :( As most of you know I was accepted into a full-time, one year, intensive Masters Degree program in Higher Education.  Now, don't get me wrong, I have always loved school, but this program is rough! It's just nothing but paper after paper, and it is because I was writing a paper that I completely missed the boat on my blogiversary.  Next year I will just have to more than make up for it.

Since I decided to take a little breather from paper writing tonight, I am bringing you all a delicious dinner dish that I love to make! It is one of those more "special" meals that I like to make for my love when he is being good! :)  For anyone who love swordfish or has ever had a "Swordfish Oscar" entree at a restaurant, then this is definitely a meal for you!

Swordfish with Béarnaise served over an Asparagus-Lemon Risotto

Ingredients

Fish:
-1 to 2 pounds swordfish steaks
-Salt and pepper to taste
-Olive oil
Asparagus-Lemon Risotto:
-1 pound Asparagus
-1 lemon zested and juiced
-2 cups chicken broth
-1/2 cup water
-1 medium shallot, chopped
-3 tablespoons butter, unsalted
-1 cup Arborio rice
-1 cup dry white wine
-1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
-2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
-Salt and pepper to taste

Béarnaise:
-1 bunch fresh tarragon (or about a teaspoon dry)
-2 shallots, minced
-1/4 cup champagne vinegar
-1/4 cup dry white wine
-4 egg yolks
-1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, unsalted, melted
-Salt and pepper to taste

Directions


Risotto:
Cut the woody ends of the asparagus off and throw away.  Then, cut the leafy ends off and place into a pot of water.  Boil for one minute, place into an ice water bowl, and set aside.  Then, taking the remaining stems of asparagus, boil them for about 8 minutes.  Remove the stems and 1/2 cup of the water, place in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. 


In a saucepan, pour in the asparagus puree and chicken broth, and simmer over low heat.  Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and add the chopped shallots.  Sauté for about 3 minutes.  Add the Arborio rice and make sure it is coated with the butter and shallots.  Add the wine and cook over medium-high heat until the wine is completely reduced.  Once the wine has reduced, pour in the chicken broth and asparagus (about a 1/2 cup) and simmer until reduced.  Repeat this process of adding and reducing until the broth has been used up (about a 20 minute process).  Remove the risotto from the heat.  Stir in the remaining tablespoon of butter, lemon juice and zest, and Parmesan, and mascarpone cheeses.  Take the leafy asparagus tips from the ice water and mix them into the risotto as well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 


Swordfish:
Lightly brush the swordfish with oil and season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper.  Cook under the broiler for about 8 minutes or on the grill (about 4 minutes on each side). Set aside and let rest for a couple of minutes. 


Béarnaise:
In a saucepan, add the tarragon, shallots, wine, and champagne vinegar. Simmer until the wine and vinegar reduce by at least half. 


In a blender, mix the egg yolks, salt and pepper, and béarnaise reduction together.  Melt the butter in a bowl, and leaving the blender running, slowly pour the melted butter into the egg yolk mixture. Once the mixture emulsifies, blend for another moment and then set aside. 
On a dish, scoop out some risotto first, then place the swordfish on top, and finish off with some extra whole cooked asparagus (optional) and béarnaise. Serve warm and enjoy! 


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Monday, August 1, 2011

Black Currant Jam

Living in New England is great! I love having all four seasons and having the ability to go fresh fruit and vegetable picking with each passing season.  Every year, it is a mandatory that I go blueberry picking, and this year was no exception! We ended up picking just over 4 pounds of blueberries! I have already started to make so many different blueberry recipes, but more on that to come in a future post.  For now, lets talk about currants...



Currants are amazing! I love eating them and baking with them, but I absolutely love having them as a jam spread.  Unfortunately, currants just do not seem to be as common around here as they are abroad.  Luckily for me though, when my love and I went blueberry picking this past weekend, we were also able to go currant picking! Yes, our local farm has finally added red and black currants to their crops list! Naturally, I had to pick a couple of pounds worth.  I mean, it makes sense to pick that much when it is just my love and I and we could totally go through that much fruit! Okay, so maybe I went a little over board and got way more than we can eat in a sitting, but that is where making and preserving jam comes in handy! Having a homemade jam is one way to ensure that you can enjoy your freshly picked fruit all year round!

Ingredients:
-Black or red currants
-Sugar
-Water
-Lemon juice or Kirsch (optional)

Note: However many cups of currants you have, use an equal amount of sugar.  I just used 2 cups to fill one jar and 2 cups of sugar.  If you have 4 cups of currants then use 4 cups of sugar and so forth.


Directions:
Wash and remove the stems from the currants.

Place the currants in a saucepan and add just enough water to cover the currants.  Slowly bring to a boil and stir the currants.  Continue cooking until the currants are soft, wilted, and are easily mashed when pushed with a spoon.

From here, you can sieve the currants to remove any seeds.   Since my boyfriend likes "chunk" in his jam, I left pieces of whole currants in the jam.  Place the currant juice back into the sauce pan, and add the sugar.  Stir until the sugar is well dissolved and he mixture comes to a boil.  Once the mixture boils, let it boil for about 5 minutes without stirring.  This is also where you can add a splash of lemon juice or kirsch if you would like.

Remove the mixture from the heat and ladle into jars.  Seal the lead tightly, and turn the jar upside down so that the top seals correctly.  I like to seal my jam this way because it is easy than putting it through a hot water bath.  Let the jam cool completely and store in the fridge.



Enjoy this jam with warm toast, a bagel, or even some freshly baked scones! Pin It