Monday, October 28, 2013

Secret Recipe Club: Morning Glory Muffins

It is time for a Secret Recipe Club reveal day! And I am posting this late. Life has been more than chaotic lately, as I am sure you all have realized from the lack of posts here on K&K Test Kitchen.  With a move for my mom and a move for me, neither of us K's have had much time to spend cooking... not to mention that both of our kitchens are barely unpacked.

But duty calls, and even though I am late, I wouldn't miss posting for SRC!  Especially since this month our assigned blog was Fried Ice and Donut Holes, an adorable blog written by Melissa, a teacher and passionate baker.  Melissa's grandfather used to tell his grandchildren to behave or they'd be having fried ice and donut holes (aka nothing) for dinner.  Her blog is full of amazing recipes and these Morning Glory Muffins are definitely evidence of how awesome her blog is.  Now excuse me while I go stuff my face with muffins and continue to peruse Melissa's awesome recipe collection!

Morning Glory Muffins

From Fried Ice and Donut Holes

1/2 cup Raisins
2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Ground Ginger (I used freshly grated ginger)
1/4 teaspoon Allspice
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 cups Peeled, Grated, Carrots (I used 2 large ones and probably could have used a 3rd)
1 Apple, peeled, cored, and cut into small pieces
1/2 cup Shredded Coconut
1/2 cup Chopped Walnuts
3 Eggs
1/4 cup Honey
1/3 cup Canola Oil
2/3 cup Unsweetened Applesauce
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1/4 cup Orange Juice, freshly squeezed (1 medium orange was the perfect amount)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and prepare about 15-16 muffin tins by lining them with paper liners or spraying them with non-stick spray. In a small bowl, cover the raisins with hot water and set them aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt. Stir in the carrots, apple, coconut, and walnuts. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, honey, oil, applesauce, vanilla, and orange juice. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir until just incorporated. Drain the raisins and gently fold them into the batter. Divide the batter between the wells of the prepared muffin tins, filling each well about 3/4 full. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffins comes out clean. Let the muffins cool for 5 minutes in the tins, then remove and cool completely on a cooling rack.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Osso Buco

Life has been crazy for both of the K's!  In the last two weeks, Kelsey and I (Kim) have both moved to new homes. Needless to say, cooking has not been a high priority; but this lovely Osso Buco was a result of cleaning out of the freezer!  I had bought the veal shanks months ago for a dinner party that did not materalize! Instead, I cooked this flavorful dish for our special guest, Kelsey, Tim and I as one of our last meal in our Arlington home.  Osso Buco has long been a favorite of my husband and he declared this the best dinner that I have ever made. Kelsey and I were in agreement that it is was pretty fabulous! If you are in need of an elegant dish for guests, you should give this recipe a try!

Osso Buco

adapted from Fine Cooking

5  2 inch-thick veal shanks
Kosher salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour for dredging
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 cups finely diced yellow onion (about 2 medium onions)
1 cup finely diced celery (about 2 stalks)
3/4 cup finely diced carrot (about 2 small carrots)
1 tsp. dried oregano
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 Tbs. tomato paste
1 28-oz. can Italian plum tomatoes, drained and chopped, juices reserved
2 cup low-salt beef broth, more if needed
1 large sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
2 Tbs. veal demi glace
2 Tbs. cornstarch 

For the gremolata:
3 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs. finely grated lemon zest

Heat the oven to 350°F.

Tie the veal shanks around the middle with kitchen string (if they’re not tied already) and season them with salt. (Several recipes that I checked suggested to let the shanks set with salt for up to 2 hours before cooking but I only let my shanks set for 30 minutes while prepping veggies.)  Put the flour in a dish. Dredge the shanks very lightly in flour, thoroughly shaking off the excess.

Have ready a roasting pan or baking dish large enough to hold the shanks in a single layer (I used my Le Creuset  or a 9x13 will work well). In a large heavy skillet, heat 3 Tbs. of the oil over medium-high heat. Put three veal shanks in the pan and sear until nicely browned on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Move the shanks to the roasting pan. Repeat with the remaining shanks.

Wipe out pan with paper towels (it’s fine if the browned bits remain in the pan bottom; just wipe away the used oil). Return the pan to medium heat and add the butter and remaining 1 Tbs. of oil. When the butter is melted, add the onion, celery, carrot, oregano, half of the garlic and 1 tsp. salt. Cook the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the wine, and cook, scraping up any brown bits with a wooden spoon, until the wine is reduced to about 1/4 cup, about 3 minutes

Stir in the tomato paste and demi glace. Add the tomatoes with their juices, the broth, thyme, bay leaf, 1/2 tsp. salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Bring to a boil, and pour the contents of the pan over the shanks. Make sure to pile the vegetables on top of the shanks so the flavor cooks into the meat.  Place remaining garlic on the tops of the shanks.  Cover tightly with lid or heavy-duty aluminum foil.

Braise the veal in the oven until fork-tender, 1-1/2 to 2 hours, checking the liquid occasionally. If it has cooked down, add enough broth to keep the level about halfway up the shanks. To check for doneness, pierce a shank with a fork. The meat should pull apart easily. Taste a morsel—it should feel soft and tender. Do not overcook, or the veal will fall apart.

Gently brush most of the vegetable bits off the shanks. With a wide, flat metal spatula, carefully transfer the veal shanks to a dish. Strain the pan juices through a medium-mesh sieve into a saucepan, pressing hard on the solids with a spatula to extract as much sauce as you can.  I took the solids and placed them in a small blender and pause them for 5 or 6 time to turn them into a liquid and added this to the sauce.  Bring the sauce to a simmer.  In a bowl, combine the cornstarch with a ladle of the sauce.  Whisk the cornstarch mixture into the rest of the sauce and cook briefly to thicken. If you’re working ahead, stop here (see Make-ahead Tips for reheating).

Make the gremolata:

Just before finishing the sauce and serving, combine the parsley, garlic, and lemon zest. Add two Tbs. of the gremolata to the sauce. Remove the strings from the shanks. Serve the osso buco topped with the sauce and a small sprinkling of the remaining gremolata. ***I actually forgot to make the gremolata so it is not pictured on my Osso Buco! I understand that this makes a big difference but my dish was tremendous without it.

Make Ahead Tips

To make the osso buco ahead, braise the veal and strain and thicken the sauce with arrowroot. Wipe the roasting pan clean, return the shanks to the pan, and pour the sauce over the shanks. Let them cool at room temperature for an hour, cover well, and refrigerate for up to two days. (I made my dish in the morning.) To reheat, cover the pan with foil and set in a 325°F oven until the shanks are hot, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the shanks to a dish, then make the gremolata, adding it to the sauce and sprinkling it over the shanks.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

CulinAerie's Autumn in Normandy Cooking Class

Top left:  Mussels in Garlic Cream Sauce                    Top right: Chicken Normandy in Cider with Leeks
Bottom left:  Potatoes with Bacon Lardons                                                 Bottom Right:  Banana Tart Tatin  

Oh la la, what better date night is there than going to a couples cooking class!!!! Lucky for us, our blogger daughter, Kelsey and her foodie sister, Taryn gave their dad and myself a gift certificate for the Culin Aerie cooking school for Christmas! Since we are moving on to a new city, we decided we had to pick a class and go before leaving the DC area. The date night and couples classes are quite popular and we had only one choice, Couples Cooking: Autumn in Normandy with Chef Instructor Wendi James. The menu of Mussels with Garlic Cream Sauce, Normandy Chicken with Cider and Leeks, Potatoes with Bacon Lardons, and Banana Tart Tatin looked like a fine choice and we were so excited to finally set a date for the class.

We were most impressed by the school and how efficiently everything was run. We noticed that all the seats were stocked with your own burner and the necessary ingredients were prepped and ready. But first we had to make the difficult decision of white or red wine. Chef Wendi demonstrated all the dishes then had each couple cook their entire menu: course by course so that you could enjoy each dish while the next was cooking. I must say it was a most enjoyable night. The fun part was watching my husband get so into it. He said it was the best thing we had done in the city over the year we were there. Each of the dishes were fabulous; the mussels and garlic cream sauce begged to be sopped up with a warm baguette, the apples, cider, leeks and chicken were a heavenly combination, the potatoes and bacon always a great combo, and the Banana Tart Tatin was a good twist on Apple Tart Tatin and a truly easy dessert to finish the delicious meal. Overall we would give it a 10 out of 10! The experience was fabulous, the food delightful and the staff were friendly, helpful, and attentive.

A special thank you goes out to our two amazing daughters!  Dad and I loved our date night and it was the prefect gift idea!

Mussels in Garlic Cream Sauce

1# mussels, cleaned & debearded
1 tablespoon butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup ale
1/4  cup chicken stock
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1. Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add shallot and garlic and saute over
medium to high heat until translucent and fragrant.
2. Add mussels and cook on high heat for 1 minute.
3. Add ale and chicken stock and cook until reduced and mussels begin to open.
4. Add heavy cream and cook until slightly thickened.
5. Remove from heat and top with chopped parsley.
6. Serve immediately with toasted baguette.

Chicken Normandy in Cider with Leeks

2 tablespoons butter
1 apple, peeled, cored, sliced
flour for dredging
salt and pepper
2 chicken breasts and/or thighs, bone-in, skin-on
1 small or  1/2 of large leek, julienned
1/4 -1/2 onion, finely sliced
1/4 cup Calvados or Apple Brandy
l/2 -1 cup cider
l/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup heavy cream

1. Salt chicken and set aside.
2. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large saute pan over medium to high heat.
Add apples and saute until light golden brown. Remove from pan.
3. Dredge chicken in flour to coat. Tap off excess flour. Add remaining butter to
the saute pan and place chicken in skin side down. Cook over medium to
high heat until skin is crispy and golden brown.
4. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Add onions and leeks and saute
about 5 minutes until beginning to brown. Use a wooden spoon to help
loosen the caramelization on the bottom of the pan.
5. Off heat add the Calvados. Return to the heat and reduce by half.
6. Add the cider and bring to a boil. Add the thyme and salt and pepper.
7. Arrange the chicken breasts in the pan skin side up. Make sure the skin is not
submerged in the cider.
8. Cover and simmer for 10-20 minutes.
9. Remove lid and add cream. Bring to a boil and reduce until slightly thickened.

Potatoes with Bacon Lardons

12 oz Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled (optional), cut in wedges lengthwise
1.5 oz slab bacon, cut into lardons
1 tsp chopped thyme
1 garlic clove, minced
salt & pepper
1 tablespoon butter

1. Blanch potatoes in boiling salted water approximately 5 minutes.
2. Cook bacon lardons over low heat until rendered.
3. Off heat toss the potatoes with the bacon. Add the garlic, thyme, and butter.
Place in a 350F oven approximately 20-30 minutes.
4. Remove from oven and season with salt and pepper.

Banana Tart Tatin

2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 banana, cut into W slices
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, optional
6" round puff pastry


1. Melt the butter in a 6" saucepan. Add the sugar and stir gently just to
combine. Cook over medium to high heat approximately 5 minutes.
2. Remove from heat and very carefully arrange banana slices to cover bottom
of pan.
3. Sprinkle with cinnamon and cover with puff pastry circle. Gently tuck in
edges and prick top with a fork several times.
4. Bake at 350F approximately 15-20 minutes.
5. Allow to cool 2 minutes and then invert onto a serving dish.
6. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Sweet Potato, Kale and Black Bean Quesadillas

Sweet Potato, Kale, and Black Bean Quesadillas recipe

Did you know that yesterday was National Kale Day!? I totally should have posted this recipe for you yesterday, because these quesadillas are a fantastic way to enjoy kale.  The sweetness of the pototoes, the creamy texture of the black beans, and the garlicky kale really come together to make something special.  I will share the salsa recipe with you soon too, because it is fantastic with the quesadillas, in tacos, or spread over chicken.

Have you tried Food for Life's Ezekiel brand products? I really love the Ezekiel sprouted grains bread, but recently found these tortillas and really enjoyed them.  I also saw English muffins at the grocery store the other day, so I might have to try those too!  The products are gluten-free and full of goodness.

Sweet Potato, Kale and Black Bean Quesadillas

Adapted from Cookie Monster Cooking

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons olive oil
Dash of cinnamon
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 head Lacinato kale, chopped coarsely (thick middle rib removed)
1 small can organic, low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
6 Ezekiel sprouted grain tortillas
2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese

Toss cubed sweet potatoes with one tablespoon olive oil and spices, then roast on a parchment lined baking sheet for 20 minutes at 400F.

Saute garlic in remaining olive oil, then just before it starts to brown, add the kale and saute until slightly wilted. Stir kale into the black beans. Season with salt and pepper. Then add the roasted sweet potatoes.

Warm tortillas slightly until they are pliable.  Spoon the sweet potato, kale, and black bean mixture onto half the tortilla.  Sprinkle with Monterey Jack cheese.  Fold the tortilla over.  Place the quesadilla onto a heated skillet sprayed with cooking spray. Heat until cheese is melted. Flip and brown the other side.

Serve with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (recipe to follow) and sliced avocado.

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