Beet and Smoked Trout Salad

Recipe 11 of 103

April describes this dish as being full of contrasts. The beets are warm and sweet, the smokey trout is salty, flaky and tender, then the creme fraiche joins in to refresh your palate.

Here is what you will need

serves 4

3 to 4 bunches of baby beets (20-25) washed well

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for finishing

2 tablespoons nice thick good balsamic vinegar

maldon sea salt

6 or so skin on garlic cloves

6 or so thyme sprigs

1 pound whole smoked trout or packaged smoked trout

5 tablespoons creme fraiche

1/4 cup chopped chives

4 to 5 tablespoons Lemon Olive Dressing

Clean your beets really well, no need to peel them just scrub them really good. Leave an inch or so of the stems on for pretty rustic presentation and roots too. Pre heat oven to 400°

photo by Jenny

photo by Jenny

Put the cleaned beets in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with salt.

photo by Jenny

photo by Jenny

Put them in a baking dish, make sure to scrap all the oil from the bowl and pour over the beets, add the sprigs of thyme and the skin on garlic gloves.

photo by Jenny

photo by Jenny

Carefully pour a 1/2 cup of water into the baking dish be sure not wash off all the seasoning. Cover with foil and bake for about 50 minutes. Check every once in a while to make sure there is still water in the dish. After 50 minutes remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes until all the water is gone and the skins of the beets are blistery. When they’ve cooled, taste and add more salt if needed. roastedbeetsRemove the beets from baking dish into a mixing bowl, leaving the thyme and garlic behind. If you need a quick snack at this point, smash that garlic on to a piece of toast. YUM…ok back at it. Drizzle the dressing over the beets and set aside.smtroutI was lucky enough to find a whole smoked trout at  whole foods  whole paycheck, I went for this option because I know how to remove all the pin bones. If you’re not comfortable with this process buy it packaged, much easier. Here is a visual on removing the skin and bones from my cute little trouttrout1Easy right?

photo by Jenny

photo by Jenny

Assemble your beets, smoked fish and top with creme fraiche and chopped chives on a large platter or for individual servings. If you’re not down with smoked fish just enjoy the beets and the dressing, maybe add some goat cheese instead of fish. You could use any smoked fish you like for this also. April’s method for baking the beets was great, worked really well and yielded perfectly cooked beets with flavor.

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Lemon Olive Oil Dressing

Recipe 10 of 103

The perfect simple salad dressing. The simplest combination of ingredients, the bright acidity of the lemon and green grassiness of the olive oil, seasoned well with sea salt and pepper. April talks about using this dressing on grilled fish and boiled potatoes. I could slather it on so much more…..
lemonolive1

Basically you put everything in a jar with a tight-fitting lid, shake like crazy. Done

Here is what you will need

1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice, or more to taste

1 cup really good extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons maldon sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

Add olive oil to an old jar that still has a lid that fits nice a snug, you know have one some where. lemonolive2Add the lemon juicelemonolive3add black pepper and saltlemonolive4Apply lid and shake like crazy – taste – add more lemon or salt to your taste. easy eh? Keep this handy for the next blog post…..Beet and Smoked Trout Salad

Pie*ography

I was asked to be part of a cook book last March

I had about 5 days notice to contribute a recipe for a pie and write a story about how this pie is like me….seriously?

The pie came to me instantly

Writing about how this pie is like me?? This is the part where I froze in fear

Thankfully I have this amazing friend who is a whiz with the written word. A huge THANK YOU to miss amErica for taking my pie and making it sound like me..hahahahaha

It’s a cool book, check it out and let me know your thoughts, seriously send me some comment love 🙂

Click below to see my pages from this project

pie-ography-keenan

The book hit shelves February 1st, you can also buy the book online at Amazon.com

Thanks to Jo Packham for having me be part of this book and to my Gilded Girls for thinking of me, I’m dang lucky to have known you both all these years, love you long time always.

Ginger Cake

Recipe 9 of 103

Gingerbread is a childhood memory for me. Every summer my Mom and I would go to the Del Mar Fair. There were two things we always did every year, eat gingerbread and take pictures in the photo booth.gingerbreadhut

My Mom would sing this song on our way to the little pink gingerbread hut. Actually anytime gingerbread was on a menu, served at a party, seen on TV or anywhere it was mentioned we would both start singing the gingerbread song. I thought it was a song my Mom made up, she has a serious silly gene that she has so lovingly passed on to my kid and me. About a month ago I made gingerbread cupcakes for her birthday and she set out to find the original song so here it is for you all to enjoy.

Now on to April’s Ginger Cake, it’s a spicy, moist, rich treat for sure. The kicker is tons of fresh ginger and to seal the deal……tons of whoop cream!

Here is what you will need.

Serves 8-10

1 stick unsalted butter at room temp, a bit more for the pan

2 1/2 cups AP flour

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 1/2 cups boiling water

1 cup unsulfured light molasses, not blackstrap

1 teaspoon backing soda

1 packed cup of dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1/4 cup freshly grated ginger

Preheat oven to 325° position rack in the middle of your oven

Butter a 8 inch springform pan that is at least 3 inches deepcakepanCut an 8″ circle of parchment paper and line the bottom of the pan…like this.drymixMeasure and mix all the dry ingredients except the baking sodamolassesMix the molasses, boiling water and baking soda until all are dissolved.
In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy about 3 minutes, scraping the bowl as you go, then add egg, mix until incorporated. gingerfreshAdd the grated ginger….look at all that ginger!! I was seriously geeking out at this point. I love fresh ginger.readytomixAlternately add the dry mix and the molasses mixture until all combined.oventimeFill your prepared pan and place on a baking sheet in the oven. Bake for an hour or until a toothpick or a wooden skewer comes out clean. Let the cake cool a bit in the pan before you remove the ring from the springform pan. Not too long though its lovely served warm.

Get your whoop cream ready and dollop it generously over a warm slice of ginger cake. Remember when I say whoop cream, I mean make it yourself, no canned crap. Whip heavy whipping cream with a little powdered sugar or no sugar until fluffy, maybe add a bit of vanilla extract and zest some orange rind over the whoop like thiscake

I loved this recipe, very easy and it has forever changed my taste for “gingerbread” I’m sure I’ll partake at the little pink hut again in my life but I will make this cake forever to satisfy my ginger cake needs.

Chopped Chicken Liver on Toast

Recipe 8 of 103

This one is for my Mom, she loves chicken livers. This is from the chapter called “nibbles” April serves this at the Spotted Pig in NY, it’s a staple on her menu. I will admit I hated liver growing up, my mom tried her best to get me to like it, but I wasn’t having it. Later in my life I fell in love with pate, so liver and me have since made friends. This dish is so easy and delicious.livertoast1

Here is what you will need

serves 4

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, more for drizzling

heaping 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots

1 large clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

2 tablespoons madeira

2 tablespoons port

1/2 pound chicken livers (get good livers, Mary’s organic air chilled are divine! can be purchased at whole foods paycheck ) trimmed and separated into lobes

maldon salt

small handful of parsley leaves

crusty thick bread for the toasts

shallotsgarlicChop the shallots and slice the garlic like thissautesgHeat a saute pan with 2 tablespoons of oil, when its nice and hot add the shallots, saute for a minute or so then add the garlic, cook until shallots and garlic are softened but not too browned.addhoochDeglaze the pan with the Port and Madeira, be careful the alcohol may start to flame up. Quickly remove from heat, stir all the bits off the bottom of the pan and pour into a small bowl and set aside.

liverThis is not a very appetizing picture, but I wanted you to see the lobes. Pat the livers dry with a paper towel gently. fryliverWhen the pan is good and hot, add the livers in a single layer, cook on one side until golden about 1-2 minutes, flip them over and cook for another minute or so, add a teaspoon of salt at this pointfryliver2They should be bouncy and slightly pink in the centers, do not over cook them. Turn off the heat and add the shallot, garlic, alcohol mixturefryliver3Scrape up all the sticky bits on the bottom of the pan, transfer to a bowl and let cool for a few minutes. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the livers, add more salt and black pepper to taste. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and mash it up, leaving some big chunks and some creamy parts too. Let cool to room temp.addparsleyServe on any kind of toasty crunchy bread you likelivertoast2So GOOD and so good for you! Liver cooked right is delicate, earthy, rich, packed with iron and delicious. Try it. Don’t be ninny.

Sausage Stuffed Onions

Recipe 7 of 103

I like sausage and I like onions, so this recipe seemed to make sense. redonionsApril requests that you use her fresh sausage recipe but as I struggle to source the proper meats for this project I opted for store-bought for this recipe. Ideally you’ll want to get a spicy italian pork sausage.

Here is what you will need

pre heat oven to 400°

4 medium red onions ( about 8 ounces each) peeled. stem ends trimmed, root ends trimmed but left intact

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

maldon salt

1 head garlic

small handful of fresh thyme sprigs, plus 1 teaspoon leaves

1/2 cup fresh italian sausage (remove from casings)

1 cup heavy cream

Ready your onions, rub them all with olive oil and saltonionprep1Arrange them in a single layer in oven safe casserole or stock pot. Peel the outermost layers of the garlic, so the cloves are exposed. Add garlic, sprigs of thyme and 1/3 cup of water to potonionprep2

Cover and bake in oven for about an hour, until onions are softened. You should be able to insert a knife in the center of the onion easily. Remove onions to a baking sheet and let them cool enough to handle, keep oven on.onionsoftWhen the onions are cool enough to handle use a small spoon to remove the centers of the onions. Don’t remove too much and or too little. Stuff the onions with the uncooked sausage, set aside.onionstuffed

Keep the centers of the onions adding them back to the pot the onions cooked inonioncenters

Squeeze the soft garlic cloves from the whole head of garlic and add to the onion centers, as well as the cream, teaspoon of salt and thyme leaves. As you see here I spaced out and added more sprigs, avoid this and you won’t have to fish out the stems later after they’ve cooked. Bring the mixture to a boilonionjizzAdd the stuffed onions to the boiling mixture, liquid should come half way up the onions, adjust as needed by adding a bit more water or removing some of the liquid.onionsimmerReturn to oven uncovered, bake for about 40 minutes, basting every 10-15 minutes.bastingCheck seasoning, add salt if needed. April says to bring the pot to the table and dig in. I felt like the broth was screaming for some kind of grain so I cooked up some farro. oniondoneThe broth is amazing, the onion to sausage ratio was a bit off for me, I would like more sausage less onion. Onions overwhelm this dish, so if you’re not a big fan of them you might pass on this one. The spicier the sausage the better to balance the sweet of the onions. The broth is the star for me, I dropped my immersion blender in the pot after removing the stuffed onions and ended up with a silky, rich soup to die for.

Banoffee Pie

Recipe 6 of 103

Banoffee Pie? New to me, how about you? It’s creation dates back to an English Pub called the Hungry Monk in the 1970’s in East Sussex. As I read the recipe I stopped at “caramelized milk” and I had a wtf moment. I read further and all I could think was, this is starting to sound white trash in a way and I love it! Caramelized milk is sweetened condensed milk in a can that has been boiled for 4 hours. I have never been a fan of sweetened condensed milk (aka SCM cause I’m tired of typing it), it reminds me of all those overly sweet dessert bars that were huge when I was a kid, if I see SCM in a recipe, I move on to something else. Admittedly I was curious about the process of caramelizing in the can, so I let my snobbery go and I dove into this recipe openly. Lets start with the caramelized milk. Boil two 14 ounce cans, labels removed of SCM for 4 hours. Make sure there is always at least 2 inches of water above the top of the cans. Rumor is, if the water gets below the top of the can they can explode. I didn’t want to test the rumor so I obeyed April’s advice, checking the water every 20 minutes or so.caramelmilk1This is what it looks like when its donecaramelmilk2

Still super sweet but it takes on a deeper caramel flavor. You could put this on all sorts of dessert items. Or just eat spoonfuls right out the can in the middle of the night….Jim!

On to the crust, here is what you will need.

1 1/2 cups AP flour

1/2 powdered sugar

1 stick unsalted butter chilled and cubed

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large egg yolks

crust1Pulse in a food processor the flour, salt, sugar and butter until the mixture resembles bread crumbs, add the egg yolks, pulse until it looks like a crumbly dough. Pour onto your work surface and form into a ball, wrap in plastic and chill for at least 2 hours. crust2

This dough came together instantly, very easy to work with. Do not knead it to death, just ball it up into a disc, done. OK ready for the cool part? April grates her dough like cheese!! Brilliant! I love her method for this, no rolling out dough, yippee!crust3Cut your chilled dough into a few chunks and grate like cheese, press the grated dough into a fluted 10″ tart  pan with a removable bottom. Work quickly, you don’t want your warm hands to soften the dough too much. If it does get a bit warm while you’re working, let it rest in the fridge to cool down again. Prick the dough with a fork after you’ve got it all pressed into the tart shell.crust4Line your dough with a circle of parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans and bake for 15 minutes at 350°, when edges are golden, remove beans and paper and bake for another 15 minutes until golden brown all over. Let crust coolcrustdoneLets assemble this pie. Here is what you will need.

8 to 10 small bananas

2 cans of caramelized milk

2 cups of chilled heavy cream

3 tablespoons of powdered sugar

1 vanilla bean split lengthwise

3 tablespoons grated dark chocolate

Grab your perfectly baked and cooled tart shell, layer the bottom with sliced bananas like this.banana

Add spoonfuls of the caramelized milkcaramelSpread the caramelized milk so it covers all the bananas like this, an offset spatula is the tool for this, get one.chillreadyAt this point chill the pie for at least 2 hours. April said to cover with plastic wrap, I did as she said and it stuck to the caramel and was a tragic mess trying to get it off the pie. Make your own call on this step.

Now on to the whoop cream! Yes I said whoop, get over it. Split your vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the vanilla caviar.vanillacaviarWhip the heavy cream, vanilla bean caviar and powdered sugar in a stand mixer. Whip until you have stiff peaks but not butter. whoopChill the whoop and spread another layer of bananas on your chilled piebanana2Top the pie with your freshly whipped creamwhup1Top with grated chocolatedone1Chill, serve chilled, keep chilled.done2So here are my thoughts on this pie. VERY SWEET! The bananas, cream and caramel are divine together and the crust is perfect. I would tweak a few things on the next go around, use less of the caramelized milk, no sugar in the whoop but use twice as much whoop. Maybe even add a layer of grated chocolate over the first layer of bananas? April says this pie would be the dessert for her last meal here on earth. My people loved it, sadly my Mom and Kid didn’t have the chance to try it yet, they are both huge banana cream pie fans, I’m guessing they will love this pie.

Cheers! I’m off to forage for food.

Asparagus with Parmesan Custard and Prosciutto

Recipe 5 of 103
She had me at custard….sweet or savory I love custard. Creamy, silky, decadent custard, throw in some salty prosciutto, crispy asparagus on grilled bread. done 🙂

You can make the custard a day or two ahead, or make a ton and always have it in your fridge for a quick bite of lusciousness. Here is what you will need for the custard. This recipe will serve 4 for lunch or 8 for small bitescustard13/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup whole milk

2 spring garlic gloves or 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped

1 ounce freshly grated parmesan buy good parmesan reggiano and grate it yourself

1/2 teaspoon maldon salt

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

Preheat oven to 325˚

Combine the milk and cream, pour half into a small sauce pot, add garlic, parmesan and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1 minute, take off heat and blend until smooth. I used an immersion blender for this step, right in the pan, you could just whisk it or get your blender out, do what works for you. In a mixing bowl, whisk egg yolk, whole egg and the remaining cold cream/milk mixture.hotcold Carefully whisk the hot into the cold, very slowly drizzle the hot mixture from the sauce pot into cold mixture in the mixing bowl, whisking vigorously so you don’t scramble your eggs. When both are combined pour into two 1 cup custard gratins or one 2 cup gratin, what ever you have will work. Ready a bain-marie aka water bath for baking, get some water boiling. Set a kitchen towel in a large baking casserole, place filled gratins in casserole and fill with boiling water about half way up the gratins like this.bainmarieThe kitchen towel prevents the gratins from vibrating and causing bubbles in the custard. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until custard has set, edges should be firm and the middle a bit wobbly. bakecustardLet the custards cool in the bain-marie, they will continue to set up. At this point you can keep these covered in fridge for a day or two.

On to the next step, here is what you will need.

photo by Jenny

photo by Jenny


1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

16 asparagus spears, the thickness of a pencil, woody bottoms discarded

maldon salt

10 to 12 small tender basil leaves

1/2 a lemon (optional)

6-8 this slices of prosciutto

grilled rustic bread or baguette

parmesan custard

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan, get it smoking hot, add asparagus and quickly toss to sear on all sides, sprinkle with maldon salt. Cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat, make sure not to over cook the asparagus, you want it to have a little crunch left in it.

photo by Jenny

photo by Jenny – check out my cool tattoo designed by my amazingly talented husband

Add basil leaves, making sure they get some time in the oil to crisp up.

photo by Jenny

photo by Jenny

When the basil has crisped up a bit, rest on top of the asparagus so it doesn’t wilt away to nothing.  Slice up the bread of your choice and either grill or toast it.

photo by Jenny

photo by Jenny

Now its time to assemble this lovely little snack. I like the custard to be more room temp then super cold. Spread a spoonful of custard on your grilled bread, top with asparagus, prosciutto and basil.

photo by Jenny

photo by Jenny

Enjoy! All these elements together make for an amazing bite. The custard is so rich and decadent. The cheesy garlicky flavor is addictive, I will admit to snagging spoonfuls from the fridge several times a day while researching this post. Its all April’s fault! Thanks to Jenny for the food porn pics and thanks to April for introducing me to a new love, Parmesan Custard. 

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Juniper Berries

Recipe 4 of 103   All photos by Jenny 🙂
BrusSprt26z

How about some veggies after all that amazing duckiness? Brussels Sprouts…do you love or hate? I LOVE them! If cooked well, they are amazing. I see them on menus all over in various preparations, grilled, shredded, cold or hot, these little morsels are all the rage.

April does them very well. Here is what you will need to rock them like she does.BrusSprt05e

serves 4-5

1 pound medium brussels sprouts

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

4 large cloves garlic, halved lengthwise

2 ounces pancetta, sliced thin about 6 slices

1 teaspoon maldon sea salt. invest in this salt, its lovely

3-4 dried pequin chilies, chopped fine or fresh red pepper flakes

2 juniper berries, smashed and finely chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped

1/2 lemon

Start by cutting the bottom off the brussels sprouts, then cut in half.

Slice the pancetta, peel and slice the garlic. Crush and chop the chilies, thyme and juniper berries. Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, add the garlic quickly tossing for about 30 seconds until garlic is browned, but not burnt.BrusSprt06fRemove garlic and reserve, add pancetta. Cook in the garlic infused oil until its crispy. reserve for later.BrusSprt11kIn the same pan while still very hot, add the brussels sprouts cut side down. Let them get a good sear, then turn them over. Medium heat turning and tossing them carefully every now and then until done about 8 to 10 minutes.
BrusSprt08hBrusSprt13m

When they’ve cooked to your liking, soft or a bit crunchy, turn off the heat. Add the salt, big flaky beautiful maldon salt.BrusSprt14nas well as the pequin chilies, juniper berries, thyme and a big squeeze of lemon. BrusSprt15oToss in the pancetta and garlic and serve right away.BrusSprt17q Taste and enjoy…….so good. The juniper berries add a floral spice that knocks you out. The pequin chilies are darling little gems, not too spicy at all. I urge you to seek them out, I found them at my local mexican market. Buy good pancetta at an Italian deli or a good fresh market, don’t get that crap that looks like spam…cause it taste like spam! I call it spamcetta, its gross…trust me. Make these right now, you will not regret it. The food porn pics are courtesy of my Jennay – of Absolutely Photography. Thanks for being my visual director so I can just get my cook on.

Cheers!

Duck Confit

Recipe 3 of 103

Duck Confit was a revelation for me while in culinary school.  First how easy it was to make and second how good it was fresh out of the duck fat. It’s rich, tender, crunchy, salty and delicious. Confit is something cooked in its own fat, duck legs cooked in duck fat, pork butt cooked pork fat aka carnitas – you get the idea right? Making it, is fairly easy and inexspensive. Duck leg/thighs are about $6 a pound (1 pound would be 2 leg/thighs) currently at whole paycheck, they are organic and air chilled, try to buy the best you can. They will have duck fat at most of their bigger stores too – if you didn’t already get some or buy on line. Like I said in the last post it will change your life. April’s recipe is encouraged in the book to go with her cassoulet. You cannot have cassoulet with out duck confit. Since I just did cassoulet for my birthday last month, I’m going to wait until much later in the year to show you guys her cassoulet. Which means I will be making duck confit again….yippee! Her duck confit is different from mine, I like her cooking method a lot. She serves the leg/thighs intact with super crispy skin, I prefer to pull the meat and crisp it up shredded.

Here is what you will needconfitstuff

2 duck leg/thighs with plenty of fatty skin

3 cups rendered duck fat:)

12 black peppercorns

12 juniper berries

4 dried pequin chilies

1/2 cinnamon stick

1 sprig of thyme, leaves only

4 cloves of garlic peeled

1/2 cup kosher salt

Place the peppercorns, juniper berries, chilies and cinnamon in a mortar. crushCrush them with the pestle to a corse consistency.crush2Add the thyme leaves and the garlic and crush into a pastecrush3Add the salt and mix well. Put the duck on a plate and sprinkle with the spice/salt mixture, covering all sides and pat into legs gently.marinateCover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours up to 48 hours. I buy duck leg/thighs in bulk so I made a ton.marinate2These have been marinating for 48 hours. April does hers for 24 hours, I pushed it to 48, mostly because I couldn’t cook them the next day so they carried on for one more day in the fridge, not a big deal. Next rinse off all of the spice mixture and pat each leg dry.

Assemble them all in a single layer in the pan.ready4fatAdd the rendered duck fat so it just covers the duck legs.simmerApril is very casual about this next part, which I really enjoyed. In school we had to check the temp on the fat every 15 minutes to make sure the fat stayed at 200 F, we cooked it for 3 to 4 hours. April says keep it at a low simmer so you see a bubble here and there and cook for 2 1/2 hours or until the meat comes away from the bone with a twist of a fork. Her method does allow for the leg and thigh to stay a bit more intact, which is better for service as a whole piece. The meat is just as tender as the longer method I was taught in school. Both methods work great, choose the one that fits your final outcome for service. Your house will smell amazing, like Thanksgiving Day, seriously it does. When your legs are done, remove from the fat and drain on a cooling rack if you’re going to shred them. If you’re keeping them intact let them cool completely in the fat, store them this way for up to several weeks. To serve the legs whole and crispy, heat a small amount of duck fat in a saute pan and fry the legs skin side down until the skin is super crispy.duck2I shredded mine. I freeze it in 2 portion servings, wrapped in foil then plastic. Thats why I make a ton at a time:) It’s always there for me, I love it. shredLooks like carnitas, right? So good!!!! To crisp up the shredded duck confit, same as the intact legs, small amount of duck fat in saute pan.crispyI made a couple of salads, I love duck confit in a salad.spinachSpinach, Dried Cherries, Stilton Cheese and Crispy Duck Confit with a Vanilla Bean & Roasted Shallot Dressing.eggonitThe most over used culinary trend right now. Put an EGG on it! I call this the Breakfast Salad. Sliced romaine tossed with caramelized tangy onion dressing, slices of duck fat fried potatoes, pancetta chunks, poached egg and you guessed it…duck confit!

Thanks for reading, I promise I will shut up about duck for a while.

Cheers!