Friday, August 24, 2012

Gordon Ramsay's Garlic Rosemary Focaccia

When it comes to Gordon Ramsay people either love him or hate him.  I'm part of the love him crowd.  Masterchef is one of my favorite shows.  As harsh as he can be with people he truly loves good, quality food and good, quality cooking.  He doesn't settle and he pushes people to be better. 
Last night I was looking for a way to use up the rest of my fresh figs before they went off and I thought 'Flatbread'.  I decided to open up Gordon Ramsay's "Healthy Appetite" cookbook.  He did have a focaccia recipe in there.  His needed a couple of special flours that I don't have on hand, so I substitued All Purpose Flour in their place.  His measurements for active dry yeast were in the oz and g forms, which I'm not used to (I need tsp and tbsp) - I did weigh out my yeast, but being such a small amount, I'm still not sure I got it right so if anyone has a tsp version I'd appreciate the note.
His recipe was for the flatbread alone, I topped mine with sliced figs, sliced garlic, goat cheese and a little drizzle of raspberry basalmic vinegar.  I really liked the result, quite tasty.
So here's my version of a Gordon Ramsay dish:

1/4 oz (7g) active dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt (he recommends fine sea salt, I used kosher salt)
2 tbsp chopped rosemary leaves (I subbed in dry rosemary)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely crushed
1/4 extra-virgin olive oil

Sift the flour and salt together into a large bowl.  Add the yeast and rosemary. Stir. 
Make a well in the center.  Add the crushed garlic, olive oil and water.   Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together.  You should get a soft, not sticky dough.
Press the dough together and put it onto a lightly floured counter.  Kneed the dough for about 5 minutes.  Place it in a lightly oiled large mixing bowl, cover with a clean dish towel and let rise in a warm spot for about 2 hours, until the dough has doubled in size.
Heat the oven to 400*.  Turn the dough onto a lightly floured counter and kneed lightly.  Place on a well-oiled baking sheet and gently flatten with the palms of your hands.  Pull and shape it to the edges of the baking sheet to form a 1/2 inch (1cm) thick rectangle.  Press with your fingertips to form indentations in the dough.
At this point I added the sliced figs, goat cheese, sliced garlic and raspberry basalmic vinegar.  He suggests rosemary leaves, whole garlic cloves and olive oil.
Bake for 15-20 minutes (until the bread is golden brown).  Let cool slightly, slice and serve warm.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Seafood Chowder

This morning we set out to the local Fisherman's Days down at the harbour.  What could be a better dose of Maritime Fun than the promise of a boat parade, a shell shucking contest, fiddle music, local displays and of course a bouncy castle for the kids?  Until we got there and it started raining shortly before the opening ceremonies.  We all huddled under the tents.  Feeling brave my family ventured out to look at the boats and what was still open of the displays.  My husband and I thought we would warm up a bit with a bowl of chowder from one of local vendors, except that it wasn't yet ready.  We went back, it still wasn't ready.  After the third time going back and starting to realize that the drizzle was not going to let up and that the wind was only getting stronger, we set ourselves back for home.  But now we both really wanted a bowl of chowder.
I remembered my dear friend Luan serving us the best seafood chowder at her husband's birthday a couple of years back and tried my best to find it.  This recipe jumped out at me in my search and by looking at the ingredients I thought it would be very good.  It was, it was very good indeed.
This recipe is an award winning recipe from PEI's Chef Jeff McCourt.  It took first prize in the PEI International Chowder Championship in 2003.  It is a little time consuming to make, but very much worth the effort.

1 cup (250 mL) butter
2 medium onions
2 cloves garlic
2 cups grated peeled potatoes
1/4 cup (50 mL) vermouth (I didn't have any vermouth, and substituted white wine instead)
2 cups (500 mL) milk
2 cups (500 mL) heavy cream
2 cups (500 mL) shellfish (choice of lobster, oysters, clams, mussels, scallops, and/or crab) *I adapted this with what I had on hand, cooking up a little salmon, haddock and shrimp - I also added a can of sweet baby clams
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) diced potato, steamed
Salt and pepper, to taste
Tabasco sauce, to taste

Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat, add onions and sauté until translucent. Stir in garlic and continue to sauté until onions are golden brown. Add grated potato, vermouth, milk and cream. Cook over medium heat, stirring often to prevent scorching, until potato is cooked, about 20 minutes.

In a blender, purée chowder base in batches, then return to chowder pot and season with salt and pepper.

Cook whatever shellfish you want to add to the chowder, retaining all liquid from the cooking process. Shuck and set seafood aside. Add cooking liquid to the chowder base. Add diced, cooked potato for texture. Add seafood, and check for seasoning one last time. Finish with chopped chives.  Makes 8 to 10 servings.

*I paired this with some homemade dinner rolls - delicious!

While making the chowder, I happened to chat with my friend Luan on the phone.  When I told her I was making chowder and was remembering how much I loved hers, she started to tell me her recipe.  It turns out this is the recipe she uses!  Too funny :)


Dinner Rolls

Is there anything cozier than the smell of homemade bread baking on a rainy day?  I know, you wouldn't expect it to be in August, but after piles of gorgeous August weather, today we had a cold, rainy, windy day, so I baked a little.  I'm not usually a bread baker, though I'd like to be and I am getting better at it because I do enjoy it, it's just something you need to have the time for.
I have these very fond memories of Sunday dinners where my Uncle's Mom (who I called Nana Murray) would bring fresh baking of beautiful pies and dinner rolls.  Making these today brought me back to those suppers.
I know these aren't the prettiest rolls to look at (I'll have to work on my forming technique) but they were so tasty!

I found the recipe via Pinterest (with a warning these rolls are like crack).  That pin led me to "Eat Cake for Dinner".  She found the recipe floating around blogland herself.  The claim was that these are Texas Roadhouse rolls copycat recipe - a restaurant I'd never heard of before. 

4 tsp. active dry yeast
1/2 c. warm water
2 c. milk, scalded and cooled to lukewarm
3 Tbsp. of melted butter, slightly cooled
1/2 c. sugar 
2 quarts all purpose flour (7-8 cups)
2 whole eggs
2 tsp. salt

Dissolve yeast in warm water with a teaspoon of sugar; let stand until frothy.  Combine yeast mixture, milk, 1/2 cup sugar and enough flour to make a medium batter (about the consistency of pancake batter).  Beat thoroughly.  Add melted butter, eggs and salt.  Beat well.  Add enough flour to form a soft dough.  Sprinkle a small amount of flour onto counter and let dough rest.  Meanwhile, grease a large bowl.  Knead dough until smooth and satiny and put in greased bowl; turn over to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in bulk.  Punch down.  Turn out onto a floured board.  Divide into portions for shaping; let rest 10 minutes.  Shape dough into desired forms.  Place on greased baking sheets.  Let rise until doubled.  

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown (I did bake mine for closer to 20 minutes).  Baste immediately with butter.  Yield: 5 to 6 dozen.  (I didn't get that many, I got 4 dozen and those were pretty small - I can't imagine how small they would be to make 5-6 dozen)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

My Hubby's a Foodie Too

After watching me post on food for a few years (and doing a few guest posts himself) my hubby has joined the community of food bloggers.  Introducing Flavorite Savors!  He is posting his own recipes as well as his own reviews of restaurants we have been too.  Show him  a little blog love!

Mango Lassi Popsicle

I'm absolutely in love with two flavors right now: Mango and Cardomom.  This has both - yummy! 
I have to thank Desserts for Breakfast for this recipe - they have a Strawberry-Honey Yogurt one on there too that looks just a delicious.

2 cups ripe mango, chopped
1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp sugar (I substituted 2 Tbsp of honey instead which worked well)
BIG! pinch of ground cardamom
big pinch of salt

Blend everything up in the blender.  Pour into popsicle molds and freeze.
As a side note, my picky picky 5 year old who "hates" fruit - loves these popsicles!