Saturday, February 23, 2013

Chocolate Gravy and Biscuits

It is like velvety, smooth, homemade, warm, chocolate pudding. The little bit of salt from the biscuits balances the sweetness of the dish but don't get me wrong, this is over the top.

8 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1⁄2 cup cocoa powder*
1⁄4 cup flour
1 tsp instant coffee granules
2 cups warm milk*
1.5oz chopped chocolate*
1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. 

2. In a bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa, coffee granules and flour; add to the melted butter; whisk. You are basically making a chocolate roux. Slowly add warm milk, whisking constantly, until smooth - just like when you make gravy. You don't want to walk away.

3. Bring to a low simmer; continue whisking and cook until thick, 2–3 minutes. Take off the heat, add chocolate, whisk in vanilla.

Serve with drop biscuits, croissants, donuts, shortbread, strawberries, basically anything you like that tastes good with chocolate! This recipe is an adaptation from Saveur. Makes 3 cups.

*Cook's Notes: The cocoa powder and chocolate you use is up to you. I used Hershey's special dark cocoa and a good old Hershey's milk chocolate bar (1.55oz)  because I like the blend. You could use regular cocoa and semisweet chocolate chips, Ghirardelli, Scharffen Berger - it's up to you! For milk, I used unsweetened almond milk. If that worked, my guess is you could use whatever you have on hand and it should work.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Easy Chocolate Croissant

I am currently obsessed with two things: the chocolate turnovers from Arby's and the idea of Southern Biscuits and Chocolate Gravy. So not surprisingly, after lunch, I wanted chocolate. Here is what I came up with in a snap.

Easy Chocolate Croissant

1 Bakery Croissant (if it is from a good bakery, just use it plain!)
1 Tbs melted butter
White or raw sugar 

Chocolate, Chef's Choice

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • On a baking sheet, brush croissant with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.
  • Bake 8-10 minutes until sugar and butter become crystallized or toasty on the top (croissants don't really brown per se). 
  • Let rest 10 minutes to cool down, then slice almost in half, like a hinge. 
  • Stuff with a few chocolate squares and microwave for 20-30 seconds. 

Pull apart the gooey goodness with your hands or use a knife and fork. Enjoy!

I used an old school giant Hershey's milk chocolate bar. Lindt, Ghirardelli or most others would work. Try chocolate chips, salted caramel, whatever you have. Next time, I'm adding raspberry jam and chocolate. How can that be bad?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Turkey Asian Lettuce Wraps

Turkey Asian Lettuce Wraps

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 package ground turkey breast 
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced or grated

Simmer Sauce
In a microwaveable bowl, add:
1 Tbs sesame oil
4 Tbs (low sodium) soy sauce
1 Tbs water
2 Tbs creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon of honey
1.5 tablespoons of apple cider or rice wine vinegar
2 Tbs Sriracha chili sauce
Grated fresh ginger or pinch dried (optional)

2 green onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 can bean sprouts, drained
1 small can water chest nuts, drained and finely chopped
10-12 large outer lettuce leaves - iceberg, butter or romaine
1/3 cup of chopped dry roasted peanuts, lime wedges 

Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Add turkey and onions, and salt and pepper to taste.  Cook for 3-4 minutes and add garlic.  Cook until turkey is no longer pink and onions are tender. Add carrots. 

In a microwave safe bowl, add simmer sauce ingredients. Microwave 30 secs and whisk together. Pour over meat mixture, add veg and simmer, 10 mins. Serve in lettuce leaves, top with peanuts and squeeze of lime.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Creamy Chicken Mother Soup

There are five "mother" sauces in French cooking that are the base of  literally hundreds of variations of sauces. I consider this soup a Mother Soup. It's a basic cream of chicken soup you could spin a thousand ways by changing up a few things.

Creamy Chicken Mother Soup
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup sweet onions, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped, including leaves
1 cup carrots, diced or shredded
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups low sodium chicken broth 
1 cup water
3 chicken bouillon cubes, low sodium 
1 teaspoon thyme, dried
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 tsp salt
2-3 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped (or shredded)

1 cup mushrooms, sliced 
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 can evaporated milk
1 cup milk or half and half

Melt butter over medium heat in large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add onion, carrots and celery; cook 5-6 minutes until vegetables are softened. Add thyme, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper.

Add flour and stir over medium-high heat, making a roux, 3-4 minutes. Add chicken broth, water and bouillon; stir to pick up browned bits on bottom of pan. Bring up to a boil and let thicken, then reduce heat. Add chicken and let simmer 10 minutes. Add mushrooms and peas. Add evaporated milk and half-and-half. Season with S & P.

Curried Pecan Tuna Salad

If I'm making tuna or chicken salad, I don't want your average mayonnaise-ladened deli salad. I want flavor, crunch and a twist. This tuna salad delivers. Grainy Dijon mustard, curry powder and the brightness of lemon juice gives it full on flavor.  Celery and pecans give it crunch. And the sweet chewiness of golden raisins balances it all out. I toasted an everything bagel, added the tuna salad, Swiss cheese and stuck it in the oven (400 degrees) until the cheese melted. 

Curried Pecan Tuna Salad

In a bowl, blend together:

1/3 cup mayonnaise
3 Tbs stone ground dijon mustard
2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 cans of light tuna in water, drained
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/4 cup onion, minced
3 Tbs golden raisins, chopped
3 Tbs pecans, chopped

That's it! I think this recipe would also be good with chopped Granny Smith apples.