Roasted Asparagus & Prosciutto with Hollandaise

Let’s just see: asparagus – cooked my favorite way – roasted. Proscuiutto, I just don’t even know where to start with that and let’s just gild the damn lily with hollandaise. Hello spring.

And today was a beautiful spring day. Windows open, birds doing their chirpy bird thing. Beautiful light on the crepe myrtles and river birches in the front yard. Yep – just a perfect day. And then I made this – just bonus points.
D&D_1663
1 pound fresh asparagus, pencil thin, but not thinner
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 large slices prosciutto

Hollandaise Sauce:
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice – half a lemon or more if you like, yes
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
big pinch of cayenne pepper
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Break the asparagus when it breaks naturally to get rid of the tough ends. Place on a  single layer on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with  salt and freshly grated black pepper. Roast for 10 minutes, until the stalks are just tender and yummy. Meanwhile, place the prosciutto in a single layer on another sheet pan and roast in the same oven for 5 minutes.

Arrange the asparagus on 3 plates. Place 2 slices of prosciutto on top of each pile, drizzle with hollandaise and serve.

Hollandaise:
Place the egg yolks, lemon juice, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper in the jar of a blender and process on low for 15 seconds. Melt the butter in a small saucepan* until it is sizzling hot. Remove the small clear insert in the top of the blender. With the blender on low, slowly add the hot butter to the egg and lemon mixture and blend for 30 seconds, until the sauce is very thick. Use immediately.

Notes: Will go back to my America’s Test Kitchen Hollandaise. Otherwise, this is pretty perfect if you like asparagus. This hollandaise is easy, but not as thick as I like. I kind of like my hollandaise on the gloppy side. Is gloppy even a word??

Beautiful spring dish – will do this again when the asparagus is calling me. Which it does –  quite often.

*Am finally going to do it – buy a little pot just to melt butter in. Butter in the microwave is just so damn temperamental. It gets on my nerves, wastes butter and makes a big mess of the microwave. It is the little things in the kitchen than can just make one mad.

Source: modified from Ina Garten

Ham & Swiss Pinwheels

Big holiday cooking plans – I am always too ambitious. Always. Not sure why, but I like to bite off way more than I can chew. And so, I have done it again.

That does not mean things do not get made, just maybe not quite when I intended them to, in this case Easter.

D&D_28281 puff pastry sheet, thawed
1 egg, room temperature
12 thin-sliced sweet ham
12 slices Swiss cheese
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Thaw puff pastry sheets (about 40 minutes) until softened. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line baking sheet with parchment.

Roll pastry sheet out into 10 x 13 inch rectangle. Brush with egg; top with ham, then cheese slices, leaving a 1/2-inch border on the longer side. Roll the dough, starting with the long side, tightly around the filling; pinch seam together.

Cut each roll, seam-side down, using a serrated knife, into 12 slices (about 1 inch thick); arrange pinwheels on baking sheet. Combine remaining ingredients in saucepan on medium; cook 1–2 minutes, stirring occasionally until hot.

Spoon mixture evenly over pinwheels and bake 20–25 minutes or until golden. Let cool 5 minutes. Serve.

Source: The Publix

I kind of didn’t do much of this. I made the pinwheels, but not the sauce. That said, I put some Dijon mustard on the puff pastry and that made it pretty special.

Next time I might make the sauce, but ….

 

Lemon Love Cake

This is a recipe I never, um, ever, thought I might make. It uses two things that I just cannot abide by. Cake mix and pudding mix. Ugh. Dear lord the chemical smell just about sent me over the edge.

That said, I had seen Valerie Bertinelli make this kind of cake some many times, in so many iterations, that I just had to give it a go out of pure curiosity sake. So why not a lemon cake for Easter.

D&D_2787Easter to me is lemons or carrot cake and a few bits of chocolate, oh, and wait, some tiny jelly bird eggs – yes, I stock up for the whole year. You just don’t want to get into the details of what happens when you eat WAY too many jelly bird eggs.

Unsalted butter, for greasing
All-purpose flour, for dusting
One 16.5-ounce package lemon cake mix
1 lemon, zested and juiced
>One 32-ounce container part-skim ricotta
Two 8-ounce containers mascarpone
4 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk
One 3.4-ounce package lemon instant pudding mix

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13-by-9-inch baking pan with baking spray.

Prepare the cake mix according to package directions, then add 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and set aside.

Beat the ricotta, lemon zest and 4 ounces of the mascarpone with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until smooth. Add the sugar and vanilla; beat until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until just combined. Gently spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the cake batter.

Bake until the cake layer has risen to the top (the ricotta and cake layers switch places) and a wooden pick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Let cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat the remaining 12 ounces mascarpone with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Gradually add the milk, beating until smooth. Add the pudding mix and beat until smooth. Let stand until thickened, about 5 minutes. Spread the frosting over the cooled cake.

Notes: I was a glutton for punishment and did all this by hand. It worked out, but I really need a nice hand mixer for when I don’t want to get the stand mixer into a mess.

Also, this recipe made me purchase things, I, um, never buy. 1) Cake Mix, 2) Jello Pudding Mix. But the idea seemed so good I could not quite help myself.

Source: Valerie Bertinelli

While I have to say this smelled a little chemically being mixed up – it certainly didn’t taste like that.

There were only 4 of us for Easter and this cake is huge, um, and dense. So I sent the vast majority of it to the Boy’s work. I understand that one of the bartenders hid it from pretty much everyone else. I think the best thing about this cake is it makes it own “cheesecake” layer on the bottom – hence – dense, but yummy. Might need to make one of these for the next pot luck at work – might be a new favorite.

I do love to take baked goods to the restaurants that we frequent. I also do make a special effort to get treats back to the kitchen. So many people forget about the back of the house.

Bacon Cheddar Soda Bread

I haven’t yet ventured into yeast bread, but I will make a quick bread, because I’m not scared of it. Yes, I am scared of yeast. So. Sad.

But here is a take in a recipe from one of my favorite recipe guys. Kevin – Closet Cooking.

D&D_28262 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded or diced
4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 tablespoons parsley (or chives), chopped

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add cheese and stir to coat with flour. Coat bacon pieces with flour as well. Stir in herbs. Form the dough into the desired bread shape, place on a baking sheet lined with parchment and bake until golden brown, about 25 – 30 minutes.

Simple as that, well, sort of, mostly.

Source: Kevin – Closet Cooking

Can’t help it – I love Kevin’s recipes. Simple and elegant and always changing.

Notes: Herbs from my potted garden – onion chives, garlic chives, and parsley. Woo hoo.

Apparently, I didn’t dice my cheddar small enough because it leaked out which was disappointing because I took great efforts to push the cheese and bacon to the inside if the dough.

Guess next time I’ll shred the cheese instead. I just thought in the interior of the bread if their was some nice bits of cheese – small chunks – it would be nice. Shredded just seems a little bit meh.

15 March 2018

Savory Ham & Swiss Cheesecake

The MotH has a problem with me calling this a cheesecake because that just makes everyone thing dessert and I do, really, get that. But when you preface the name with savory, I hope people can somehow make the transition.D&D_2297

Definition of a cheesecake – having a firm custard-like texture, with cream cheese, cottage cheese, or both. Well, that fits.

But when get right down to it – this has an almost (almost) obscene amount of cream cheese and eggs which is what most cheesecakes do.

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 cups oyster crackers
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
7 large eggs
2 cups grated Swiss cheese (about 8 ounces) + some
1 cup 1/2-inch cubes ham + some
3 minced scallions
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

Preheat oven to 300°F. Brush 9 inch diameter springform pan with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Finely grind oyster crackers in the food processor. Mix cracker crumbs, Parmesan and 5 tablespoons melted butter in food processor to blend. Reserve 1/2 cup crumb mixture for topping; press remainder onto bottom and up sides of prepared pan. Refrigerate while preparing filling.

D&D_2336In a stand mixer, beat cream cheese and eggs until smooth. Mix in remaining ingredients. Pour filling into crust. Sprinkle reserved 1/2 cup crumbs over. Place cheesecake on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until filling no longer moves in center when pan is gently shaken, about 2 hours. Cool 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Make Ahead: can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Let stand 2 hours at room temperature before serving. We are going to stretch this for a day for Thanksgiving, but I am pretty confident in it (see hurricane story below).

I made this the first time in 2004. It was really good. Not sure what the occasion was and we went to the MotH’s parents’ house just around the corner*, but here is the key point: We all liked it and – just to bury the lede – it was a great leftover after Hurricane Ivan took us out mostly. No, really. Just keep the fridge closed and things can stay safely in there for a day or so. This really worked, and to be honest, you do not want any kind of warm food right after a hurricane – um, ever. That is why Mandarin oranges are my go to food after a hurricane. Even at room temperature, they just rock.

That said, I have not made this since 2004 – likely out of an odd sense of “perhaps this is not a good idea,” but I am totally feeling out of hurricane season at this point. Thankfully, we dodged a big bullet in Irma, and Nate was just annoying, but no really biggie.

Source: Bon Appetit ? – will find out.
Sept 2004 – Leftover for Ivan
November 2017 for Thanksgiving

2 day method – crust mixture one day, cream cheese mixture next, assemble third and bake, serve at room temperature the next day.

Very good, yes, if I do say so myself, but my unsuspecting family testers said so. But both the MotH and is brother approved of my suggestion of serving with hot sauce – brand: Crystal.
Why Crystal? – heat, but also flavor and it does not completely blow your palate like Tabasco – which I also like, in certain applications, but not this one. The Boy has other opinions on hot sauce that usually include habaneros.

Crust is really crumbly on sides – and totally messy the entire time I was dealing with. Maybe just do bottom crust and topping – needs work, but the flavor is really good – just reduce the amount by probably half (?).

Next time with minced fresh jalapeño (The Boy) – another thought or a little pepper jelly would not go amiss at this point. Oh, pepper jelly on the top as a thin layer?? Maybe going too far afield. Nope, I don’t think so.

Or with pan-roasted mushrooms and spinach (or cress) as long as all the liquid is cooked out of both in a ruthless sort of manner. Little Dijon swirled in?
This could be a great Easter appetizer too.

Okay – and the work hack version with the cranberry horseradish relish was a revelation. Not a bad thing at all. Another really good option for some spice with this cheesecake.

D&D_1418_iPhoneAnd what to do with the rest of the oyster crackers – must be something, right?

*Might sound like a nightmare to some, but my in-laws are just the best. I love them dearly – always will. The Boy and I are very fortunate.

Reuben Dip in a Bread Bowl

I am adjusting this recipe to fit with the things that work with the “Best Reuben Sandwich” from America’s Test Kitchen. Like making your own “dressing” which includes the mayo, sour cream, and chili sauce. Also using Boar’s Head sauerkraut and draining some sweet relish – though I will not go so far as to chop up my own sweet gerkins. Makes no sense. D&D_1861

I had to order the bread bowl from the Publix a day ahead of time, so consider that in your planning. I think a Rye boule would work equally well if you are so inclined.

1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup chili sauce
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup drained sauerkraut -Boar’s Head
3 tablespoons sweet relish, drained very well
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1 cup diced cooked corned beef – Boar’s Head from the deli @ the Publix
salt and pepper
1 large (1#) pumpernickel boule, top sliced off and center hollowed out

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Mix together mayonnaise, sour cream, chili sauce, cream cheese, sauerkraut, and relish into a large mixing bowl and stir together until completely combined. Fold in cheeses and corned beef until fully combined. Season with salt and pepper and stir together. Scoop mixture and place into the hollowed bread bowl and place onto a baking sheet.

Place dip in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until dip is hot and baked through. Serve immediately with bread bowl by making slices of the bread into the dip – really good. Yep.

Source: Spoon Fork Bacon with some America’s Test Kitchen influence.

15 April 2017 – For Easter this year. Used my super amazing tomato knife* to slice through the bread to make bites and it worked really well.

* Victorinox 125th anniversary limited edition 4 1/2″ tomato knife. Sharpest damn thing ever – mind your fingers. So not kidding.

Apple Market Ham Salad

Okay, this is another thing that I have found that someone, Apple Market, does so much better than any version I have ever made. Yes, it is ham salad.

Let’s just get all the disclaimers out of the way. I will eat deli ham on occasion – see chicken, cheddar, apricot sandwich in which ham plays a key role. But a big ol’ Easter ham is not for me. The cut is too thick and I just do not care for it which is slightly interesting since I really like the vast majority of the rest of the pig (pork) parts a lot, no really, A Lot.

The MotH says this ham salad is too sweet and I am guessing that is the sweet relish, but I really really like it.

Apple Market is an interesting place. It is a local (yeah) small grocery store that has a great deli, excellent beer selection, a real butcher shop, sushi, really fresh dairy, and I think they employ most of the teen-aged kids from the area of East Pensacola Heights. They were one of the first grocery places to open after Ivan and after that you could tell that they had increased the generator back ups for the whole store.

Apple Market is a real treat. I do not get there as often as I would like, but since I have had the ham salad recently, I am motivated. May not look like much, but you should envy me. Yes, you should. D&D_1849

Okay? Does it look like cat food? Or is that just me? Sigh. I just stay up too late. I really should not say that, but the idea just struck me. No matter – it tastes amazing. And I am going back this weekend for more. Yep. Also to see if they have some really old chickens that will make a great chicken and rice.