RaeDi at Hummingbird Hollow

Thoughts on Food, Words from the Heart, 'The Little Winged Ones'….

Tag: Heavy Cream

Mushroom Potato Soup with Chicken Liver Pâté

 

It has been an amazing week here in the Northwest, lots of sunshine and of course there has been some rain, but what would the Northwest be without the drizzle?  I have lost count of all the new hummingbirds, the new-comer Rufus’s and add lots more Anna’s arriving for the new season.  It will be at least another month before we see any Calliope’s.  The Allen’s usually live on the outskirts and visit regularly.  They are in the process of working out all of the logistics… all the planning of who will live where and who has control of what feeder and then when the wildflowers bloom in the fields and my hummingbird plants start to bloom they will have to start again!   Not to say that we do not hear bickering going on out there.  What is life without a little internal strife and squabbling among friends?

T has his manly meal the other day and I was trying to think of something different to make for dinner… something we had not had in a long time.  I am one of those souls who dearly loves Liver Pâté… I usually have it once a year either during the Christmas Holidays or like a year ago for Valentine’s Dinner.  With my Mother being sick since right before Christmas and then her passing just before Valentine’s Day we did not do much special this year… no Liver Pâté.

Liver Pâté came to my thoughts and I could not get rid of the wanting of… no the craving of it would be more like it.  I love to spread some on lightly toasted baguette… I could just taste it.  Then I wondered what would we have with it… another thing I dearly love is Mushroom soup.  Homemade Mushroom soup that is thick and creamy now I had a meal that I was going to make no matter what.  I wonder what T would think… was he in a mood for Liver Pâté and thick, creamy Mushroom Soup.  When I told him I was making a list of things I needed from the market for dinner he asked what I was fixing… I let him know and he said it sounded good to him.  He was even willing to go to market and get the few things I needed to make the meal… what a relief because I did not feel for the trip to town today.

I found this recipe several years ago from Food and Wine and started using it and it has been my favorite since.  Very easy to make and it is silky-smooth… it melts in your mouth.

 

  

Chicken Liver Pâté

Ingredients:

  •         1/2 pound chicken livers, well-trimmed (I only use organic chicken livers)
  •         1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
  •         1 small garlic clove, smashed and peeled
  •         1 bay leaf
  •         1/4 teaspoon thyme leaves
  •         Kosher salt
  •         1/2 cup water
  •         1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  •         2 teaspoons Cognac or Scotch whisky
  •         Freshly ground pepper
  •         Toasted baguette slices, for serving

In a medium saucepan, combine the chicken livers, onion, garlic, bay leaf, thyme and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add the water and bring to a simmer. Cover; reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the livers are barely pink inside, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.    

Discard the bay leaf. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the livers, onion and garlic to a food processor; process until coarsely pureed. With the machine on, add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, until incorporated. Add the Cognac, season with salt and pepper and process until completely smooth. Scrape the pâté into 2 or 3 large ramekins. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pâté and refrigerate until firm. Serve chilled.

Make Ahead: The pâté can be covered with a thin layer of melted butter, then wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 2 months.

 

 

Potato and Mushroom Soup

Ingredients:

  •         1 cup oyster mushrooms (1/2 ounce) (slice up several and reserve)
  •         1 cup shiitake mushrooms (1 ounce) (slice up several and reserve)
  •         3/4 cup crimini mushrooms (3/4 ounce) (slice up several and reserve)
  •         2 cloves of minced garlic
  •         1 finely chopped onion
  •        1 stalk of celery chopped up finely
  •         1 ½ cups water
  •         1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  •         2 leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced very thin
  •         5 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  •         2 large baking potatoes finely diced
  •         1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme leaves
  •         2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  •         Salt and freshly ground pepper
  •         1 cup of cream (I used fat-free half n half instead)
  •         Crusty bread, for serving

 

Finely chop the mushrooms, onions and celery (I used my food processor.)  Mince the garlic.   Place all in pan with water and bring to boil, turn down heat and simmer until mushrooms and onions are tender.  I let this boil down a little to make a headier broth, do not overcook the mix.

Meanwhile, in a soup pot, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the leeks and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add the stock, reserved sliced mushrooms, potatoes, and the mix you have already cooked, along with the thyme (I did not have any thyme so used parsley) to the pot.  Cook over moderate heat until the potatoes are done, about 20 minutes. Stir in the cream and butter and season the soup with salt and pepper.  Serve in shallow bowls with crusty bread.

This soup is amazing; if anything I would add more mushrooms.  It is a nice thick, creamy soup that you can taste each level of the ingredients.  The leeks make a wonderful addition.  You can make this without any cream or half n half and it is still very good.

T and I enjoyed the toasted baguette with the Liver Pâté immensely and the Mushroom and Potato Soup was a real treat that had so many layers of textures and full flavors each in its own right….

Caramel Budino with Salted Caramel Sauce

Dessert for Valentine’s Dinner this year was Caramel Budino with Salted Caramel Sauce.  The word ‘budino’ is Italian for pudding and I can say personally that Italian puddings are really mouth-watering, at least this budino was.   There were several different steps to this dessert but it was well worth the effort.

When I first saw the recipe at Bon Appétit I was bowled over and I knew that T would love it. The budino is made with caramel syrup you make and add to the milk and egg mixture, then the salted caramel sauce-topping is all you could want it to be and add fresh whipped cream to the mix and it was beyond expectancy.

I needed chocolate wafers and T was making the run… he wanted to know what I needed plain chocolate wafers for and I wanted to surprise him and told him to please just get them.  He came home with Nabisco Chocolate Teddy Grahams… but to my surprise they were perfect.  A deep chocolate flavor and made the perfect cookie crust.  I even decided to be whimsical and instead of garnishing with the cookie crust crumbs on top I put a Teddy Graham on top of each, it was Valentine’s Day and added to the love I feel for T and all that he does for me.  He loved the Budino and he loved the fact that I put a teddy on each.  It was his decision to buy the teddies and now he is a gourmet cook (didn’t you know!)  He made mention that he should or could be making more decisions on the finishing touches on our plated food!  I will let him!  Should have… Could have… Would have… We will see!

I will add the recipe here, there seems to be a problem with the connection (part of the time) at Bon Appétit:

Ingredients

Cookie Crust

  • 1 cup finely ground chocolate cookie crumbs  (such as Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers; about 20 cookies)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter,  melted
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Budinot

  • 3 cups whole milk,  divided
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup (packed) dark brown  sugar
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted  butter
  • 2 teaspoons dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon kosher  salt

Salted Caramel Sauce

  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn  syrup
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted  butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Lightly sweetened whipped  cream

Preparation

Cookie Crust

  • Mix cookie crumbs, butter, and salt in a medium bowl. Place 2  tablespoons in a small bowl; cover and chill for garnish. Press 2 tablespoons  cookie mixture onto the bottom of each of eight 8-ounce mason jars or  ramekins.

Budino

  • Whisk 1/2 cup milk and cornstarch in a small bowl; set aside.  Heat remaining 2 1/2 cups milk in a small saucepan just to a simmer; set aside.  To make caramel, stir sugar and 3/4 cup water in a heavy saucepan over medium  heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; cook without stirring until an  instant-read thermometer registers 210°–220°
  • Line a sieve with a double layer of cheesecloth and set over a  large pitcher. Whisk egg yolks in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in hot milk,  then cornstarch mixture. Slowly whisk in caramel. Return mixture to saucepan.  Whisk constantly over medium heat until mixture thickens and a thermometer  registers 175°, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in butter, rum, and  salt. Pour through prepared sieve.
  • Pour 1/2 cup budino over crust in each jar. Cover; chill until  set, 4–5 hours. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep  chilled.

Salted Caramel Sauce

  • Place cream in a small pitcher. Scrape in seeds from vanilla  bean; add bean. Set aside.
  • Stir sugar, corn syrup, and 2 tablespoons water in a heavy  saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high;  boil, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush,  until deep amber color forms, 5–6 minutes. Remove from heat; gradually add  vanilla cream (mixture will bubble vigorously). Whisk over medium heat until  smooth and thick, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in butter and salt.  Strain into a heatproof bowl. Let cool slightly.
  • Spoon 2 tablespoons caramel sauce over each budino. Top with  whipped cream. Sprinkle some of reserved cookie crumbs over  each.
http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2011/09/caramel-budino-with-salted-caramel-sauce#ixzz1nFOCZneZ

The dinner was a week late with all that has gone on, but each Valentine’s Day I try to make a special dinner for T.   Between the stuffed pork chops and apple, peach salad it was a wonderful meal.   I do not like getting flowers, chocolates or gifts of any kind for Valentine’s Day.  A card that puts a smile on my face is all I need and that is not mandatory!  Just love me for me, which is all I can ask….

Stuffed Pork Chops

T loves pork; I think most men love pork, maybe everyone loves pork… I am not a big pork eater.  As a child I would not even touch the stuff… I thought it was pure fat!

Anyway…  I decided to make stuff pork chops for a belated Valentine’s Day dinner.  They went over well, I even enjoyed mine.  They were very easy to make I always keep a pint of homemade seasoned croutons in the pantry alongside a pint of toasted seasoned breadcrumbs, and one pint of crushed cracker crumbs.  When I need to make any one of the three I always make a few extra so I have them the next time a recipe could call for them.  It makes it (life) so much easier.

I had some pork broth in the freezer that I thawed and added:

  • Around 3∕4 cup of pork broth, you could use chicken broth
  • 1∕8 cup of diced onion
  • 1∕8 cup of diced celery
  • One clove of diced garlic
  • Some fresh Parsley that I chopped up
  • 1 Cremini Mushroom diced up
  • About 1∕8 cup of dried tart cherries, save until the last-minute to add to the simmering pot

I put everything into a little sauce pan except the parsley and cherries.  I simmered this until the onions and celery were just soft. This too will reduce some giving the broth more flavor.  I added the dried tart cherries and parsley just a few minutes before I needed to put this broth mix in with the bread mix.

While that was simmering I put some of the seasoned baked croutons in a Ziploc bag and rolled a roller pin over a few times (when I make my seasoned croutons I make them about an inch in size.)  I wanted them broken up in smaller pieces.  Add about half that amount in seasoned toasted bread crumbs and add in 1 Tablespoon of cornmeal.   Then add about ½ teaspoon of sage, a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper.  If you have a favorite bread stuffing than by all means use it!

Then spoon all the onion, celery, garlic, mushrooms, parsley, and cherries out of the broth and stir them into the bread mixture.  Add just a bit of broth at a time into the mix, you do not want to get the stuffing too moist or soggy!  Let it cool down before adding one egg and mix it in.  Once it is thoroughly mixed leave it to dry out a bit.  Now it is time to stuff the pork chops.

 I had the butcher cut a pocket in each of the pork chops for me.  It makes it that much easier.  Once you have the stuffing ready, rested, patted, and loved stuff each pork chop as full as you can get it, using your hands.  (This is where I normally loosely stitch close the hole with some regular dental floss… as you can see by the photos I forgot until they had been in the oven about 30 minutes, too late!)  When finished wash your hands and then seasoned both sides of the chop with a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to keep hands clean I use tongs to flip the pork chop over to get all sides seasoned.  Then wrap them up individually in aluminum foil and close it tight, place each in a baking pan and bake for about an hour at 350˚.   The timing could be different depending on the size and thickness of the chops.

I had a little stuffing left over so I used one of my small baking dishes and added a couple of tablespoon of broth on top of the stuffing put a cover on it and baked in  the oven while baking the stuffed pork chops.  When I was checking on them I could really smell the tart cherries cooking in the mix.  It all smelled so succulent and luscious.

While they were baking I made a cream sauce:

  • 1 Cup of pork broth or you can use chicken broth
  • 1 Cremini Mushroom sliced in half and then sliced into thin slices
  • About the same in diced onions that you have in the sliced mushrooms
  • One clove garlic diced up small
  • Some chopped Parsley

Put all in a saucepan and simmer until it has reduced by half.  When it is done while it is still at a low boil I whisked in 1 teaspoon of butter and then a couple of quick splashes of heavy cream.  I added just a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper and let it simmer to thicken stirring every once in a while.  Sometimes when I want a nice cream soup I make this sauce as a soup… it is delicious!

I forgot we had roasted brussel sprouts on the side; they were a perfect side dish to the stuffed pork chops.

When you have baked the chops there will be some wonderful juice in each packet, I add it to my cream mushroom sauce!  Once I had the chops out of the foil I put them back in the baking dish and put them under the boiler for just a few minutes to lightly brown them.

The stuffed pork chops came out pleasing to the eye.  The dried tart cherries were a very nice complement to the dish.  The chops were moist and delicious and the broth cream sauce put it over the top, T loved them, which was all I needed to know….

Look what we found today on our walk… out front… spring is giving us a peek!

Bing Cherries in Sweet Sauce and Pistachio Parfaits

A while back I canned some fresh Bing Cherries in Sweet Sauce (not overly sweet, I wanted the black cherries natural sweetness.)  I thought I would make use of it not only as a meat sauce (wonderful especially with pork and chicken, would be really good with duck) but too in desserts, salad dressings, on and swirled in ice cream and even yogurt and wonderful refreshing smoothies.   I am sure with time there would be a lot more uses than I can think of right now.

We were cleaning out my pantry a while back and discovered a box of Pistachio Pudding.  I do not know where it came from (I still have no idea.)  The expiration date was still some time in the future so I knew it was still good.  To be honest, I had no idea how the boxed Pistachio Pudding would taste.

I love a good parfait and we had not had a parfait for at least a dozen years.  I thought when I found the box of pudding it would be a good mix with my Bing Cherries in Sweet Sauce.  I made a mental note to one day in the near future use the pudding mix and add the cherry sauce and see what I could come up with.

One afternoon I made the boxed pudding per instructions.  I should have known at this stage it was not what I wanted to just take the time and make some pistachio pudding or custard from scratch.  I had some left over Pistachio Crumble (cherry pie topping recipe) to put between the layers and sprinkle some on top of the parfait.  I put a cup and then some of the sweet cherry sauce in a heavy saucepan and let it cook down some to thicken the sauce a little.   While letting it cool down some I made some delicious whip cream to top it all off.

Making a parfait is so easy; you just layer in the different ingredients you are using and in a few minutes you have a perfect treat.

I should have gone with my first instinct, to make the pistachio pudding or custard from scratch.  I have now faced my enter self that cannot bring me to throw away a thing and all things should be used… nothing wasted!  The parfait(s) were delicious with the exception of the pistachio pudding.  It was horrible, but edible (palatable) but seems lite on taste and faint in color.  Next time I need some pudding or custard I will do what I have always done in the past make it from scratch, you cannot beat the smooth, silky, wonderful flavors that you can take pleasure in… with the boxed pudding I lost all of the savor!

It was good enough there were no leftovers but we all knew it was missing flavor; some of the bouquet was missing!  The Bing Cherry Sauce was delicious as was the crumble and whip cream (a wonderful mix,) they in a way made up for the lacking in the boxed pudding….

I thought of this quote as I was eating my parfait.  It too is sad to think that so many generations will live this way:

You can say this for ready-mixes – the next generation isn’t going to have any trouble making pies exactly like mother used to make.  ~Earl Wilson 

Chocolate~Caramel Tart with Pistachios and Espresso Beans

 

 

Today is the day after, seems like I am always trying to catch up to the present time.  Yesterday was Father’s Day.  My Father has been gone now for twenty-three years, where does the time go.   I find myself at different times thinking of him and wondering what he would think on different things that have taken place over the years.  I too learned not to be my father, only he could possibly take that walk and we each are our own as it should be.

It makes me hope that I have been a better parent; I think we all want and hope to be and to do better than our own parents and hope the same for each new generation.  I am optimistic that my children will improve on their parents in one way or another.  That is something I can hope will come to pass and then through them to the future children.  That would be a wonderful blessing for our family now and through all the ages of time.

I made a tart today to celebrate all fathers, from ages past to future Dads (and Gramps.)  I was asked for something with caramel, chocolate, espresso and the simple graham crackers.  I knew immediately what I wanted to make.  It has been over a dozen years since I made a graham cracker crust.  I had to Google to find the directions.  eHow had the basic recipe; I had forgotten how simple it really was… I had the Graham crackers but had wanted chocolate so I added 1 and ½ teaspoon of Dutch Cocoa Powder.  This recipe originally called for shortbread pastry, but the chocolate-graham cracker crust was just as easy.  It called for hazelnuts of which I had none, but I love a Pistachio and chocolate mix and had some so that decision was made.  It called for Milk Chocolate and I used a mix of 1 oz milk chocolate with 3 ozs of Bitter Chocolate it was a perfect and healthier mix.

The original recipe was called Milk-Chocolate-Caramel Tart with Hazelnuts and Espresso that I found in Bon Appétit sometime in the past, I was just waiting to use this recipe and it did not let me down even with all my changes.  I too made a change in the espresso powder, I had none and so used some Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans that I did have and they tasted perfect. It too called for a sprinkling of crunchy cacao nibs on top of finished tart (pieces of roasted cacao beans) of which I had none, so that is another reason I used the chocolate covered espresso beans.

It was delicious; it was on the rich side, real rich; a very small bite was all I could handle.  I was disappointed in one thing, the espresso beans when chopped left the dark chocolate looking a little sick, and were not that pretty on top of the tart, but they were delicious none the less, even for a person who does not like coffee of any kind (me!)  Next time I will probably leave them whole and put just a few, it would then have a ‘picture perfect’ look….

This recipe looks long and drawn out, but it is rather simple and took less time than I thought, will worth the little bit of time and effort….

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 6 tablespoons of melted Butter
  • 1 and ½ cups of crushed Graham Crackers (about 24 graham crackers)
  • 1 and ½ teaspoon of Dark Dutch Cocoa
  • ¼ cup Sugar

Place the graham cracker crumbs, Dutch cocoa and sugar in bowl, stir them to combine.  Add the melted butter and stir or with hands blend until well blended.  Press into the tart shell, I used a 13 ¾ by 4 ½ inch rectangular tart pan with removable bottom.  Once all is press in the tart shell put in a heated oven ~ 350˚ and bake for 8 ~ 10 minutes.  Leave on counter until you have your filling ready to use.

          Filling:

  • ¾ cup Sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1/3 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 2 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon Salt
  • 2/3 cup whole Pistachios (I used salted, love the salt with the chocolate and the caramel)

Stir sugar and ¼ cup water in heavy medium sauce pan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.  Increase heat and boil without stirring until syrup is medium amber, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan, about 8 minutes.  Remove pan from heat.  Add cream (mixture will bubble up be careful.) Place saucepan over medium heat: stir until caramel bits dissolve.  Add butter, vinegar, and salt: stir until butter melts.  Stir in 2/3 cup of Pistachios’.   Now spoon the filling unto the graham cracker crust.  Chill until cold and set, around 30 minutes or so.

                Topping:

  • 1/3 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 and ½ teaspoons instant espresso powder ~ I used 1 ½ teaspoons of chopped Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Bean. (In using the beans you will see the actual crushed espresso beans floated in the chocolate topping, but they are delicious!)
  • 1 oz of high quality Milk Chocolate
  • 3 oz of high quality Bitter Chocolate
  • 1 Tablespoon of Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Cacao Nibs ~ I replace with a few of the chopped Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans (I only used a few because they were not that attractive, but good!)

Combine cream and espresso powder, (here I replaced with the chopped dark chocolate covered espresso beans, in small saucepan.)  Bring to simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until espresso powder (the dark chocolate melted and lift floating pieces of chopped espresso beans) is dissolved.  Remove from heat.  Add the chocolate and butter, stir until smooth.  Spread chocolate mixture over caramel in tart pan.  Sprinkle with cacao nibs (I sprinkled with a few chopped dark chocolate covered espresso beans,) Chill tart until topping is set about 1 hour.  This can be made up to 2 days ahead of time, cover and keep chilled.  To serve remove tart pan sides, place tart on platter and cut crosswise into bars to serve.

I will add the shortbread recipe for those that would like to go that route:

Shortbread Crust:

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup Powdered Sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon Salt
  • ½ cup Chilled Unsalted Butter, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 1 Tablespoon (or more) Ice Water

Blend flour, powdered sugar, and salt in processor.  Add butter, using on/off turns, blend until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add 1 tablespoon ice water; process just until dough begins to clump together, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if dry.  Transfer dough to 13 ¾ by 4 ½ inch rectangular tart pan with removable bottom.  Press dough onto bottom and up sides of pan. Freeze crust 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375˚F.  Bake crust until golden brown and cooked through, about 30 minutes.  Cool crust completely in pan on rack.

Overall, it was an excellent recipe, I was not happy with the Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans, only because of the way they looked after chopping them, if using again I would not chop them.  If I was not going using the whole chocolate covered espresso beans I would use the espresso powder and possibly some nibs next time I make this.  I also would use the shortbread crust to help cut through the richness of the tart.   But the merging of caramel (which tasted like a toffee caramel ~ very good,) chocolate, pistachio and espresso mix is a wonderful tart full of luscious delight we all agreed….

Comfrey also known as Quaker Comfrey and Russian Comfrey

Taken in one of my gardens by the light of the full moon….

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