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Honey Ducks’ Grilled Tenderloin with Sweet Potato Mashers and Balsamic Redution Sauce

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    I’ve always used terms of endearment to refer to the people I love. This sounds goofy coming from a man, but actually both men and women do this regulary. If you look up the top 5 affectionate names that we assign to our friends, partners and spouses, they all have sort of sweet ingredient, baked good, or cute animal somewhere within them.  I mention this because of the name I’ve given this simple to make recipe.  I call it, Honey Ducks’ Grilled Beef Tenderloin with Sweet Potato Mashers and a Balsamic Reduction Sauce.  I don’t want you to mis-understand the recipe since it does not include any honey and certainly there is no duck involved. Honey Duck was my affectionate name for the person I loved and cared about the most and this was her favorite meal. We cooked this plate together on a New Year’s Eve. I hope it brings as much joy and happiness for you as it did for me and I hope to be able to make it for her sometime in the future. Please enjoy with a glass of Cabernet or a nice Merlot. N’oublie pas de boucher le vin. – Tpum

Mise en Place:

 I geared this recipe toward a romantic meal at home. If you want to prepare it for a larger amount of guests, you will be better off asking your butcher to sell you whole Tenderloin. This is a more economical way to feed several people, but not everyone is willing to remove the silver-skin and trim it properly. If you want to have a go at being a boucherie, watch my video.

≽       2, 6-8 oz cuts of Beef Tenderloin or ask your butcher to sell you a whole loin. He will be willing to trim and cut it for you if you compliment him beforehand.

≽       2 Sweet Potatoes or Yams. (Please use fresh and not canned). Peeled and cut in half and then in quarters.

≽       1 cup High Grade Balsamic Vinegar. The best you can find originates from Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy. Trader Joes has a great selection. All of them offered at different price points. Please don’t even think of buying “balsamic” produced in the US. Balsamic Vinegar isn’t really vinegar in the usual sense. The original traditional product (Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale), was made from a reduction of cooked white Trebbiano grape juice and not a vinegar.

≽       Kosher Salt

≽       Cracked Triple Colored peppercorn

Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena DOP - I...

Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena DOP - Italia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

≽       Light oil

≽       Unsalted Butter


Equipment needed:

  •  BBQ or outdoor grill. If neither is available, use a trusty cast iron skillet
  •  Long handled tongs
  •  Vegetable steamer or microwave cooking bags
  •  Potato masher
  •  Medium sauce pan
  •  Pepper grinder
  •  Spoon
  •  Potato Peeler

Let’s begin:

  This recipe is super simple and does not take many steps to complete unless you plan to filet the tenderloin yourself.

  Place your tenderloin filets on a plate and sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Cold meat takes longer to cook and I find it is perfectly ok to let sit out for no more than 30 minutes. It always gives me better results. Coat the meat with a very small amount of oil.

  To make the balsamic reduction sauce, simply pour the balsamic vinegar into a heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium heat. This is not a time to multitask as it requires constant attention. Whisk the balsamic regularly. As with any type of reduction, the larger the surface of the sauce pan, the faster a liquid will reduce. You will notice that as the “vinegar” reduces, it becomes thicker and thicker. This is due to the natural sugars in the balsamic. You will know when to stop the reduction by testing it with a spoon. You want the spoon to show a coating without any drips. Remove from heat and mount the sauce with a small amount of cold butter. This will give the sauce a nice sheen. 

  While you wait for the meat to raise a few degrees, take the peeled sweet potatoes and steam in a vegetable steamer until a fork inserts easily. I use a microwave cooking bag because it’s incredibly fast and the results are the same. Follow the times printed on the bag. About 5-7 minutes.

  Place into a bowl and mash like any potatoes. You may add a little butter if you wish, but Honey Duck and I found that they tasted great without any additions. Cover and keep warm until serving.

  Over medium-high heat on your BBQ or gas grill, place the pieces cut or flat side down, not on the rounded side. Grill using the following chart for your preferred level of doneness. I prefer medium to medium well. A point to remember is that tenderloin is just that, tender. However, it does not have much flavor on its own and that’s due to a fact that it has very little, if any, marbling of fat. (Fat = Flavor). For this reason, you will always find it served with a flavorful sauce to compensate for the lack of flavor.

Cut Size of Cut Rare ( 125˚ ) Medium (140˚) Well ( 170˚ )
Filet 1 inch 6-7 min 7-9 min 9-12 min
Filet 1 ½ inch 10-12 min 12-15 min 15-19 min
File 2 inch 15-17 min 17-19 min 19-22 min
Whole Loin 5-5 lbs. 50 min 1 1/4 BAD IDEA

**For searing, allow 2 minutes for 1-inch-thick steaks and 4 minutes for 1½ – 2-inch-thick steaks. Turn steaks and move to a cooler medium heat to finish grilling, turning once halfway through remaining grilling time. The cooking times in the chart include searing. Use a meat thermometer to check your temps. 

 * NOTE* Eating undercooked meats can have serious health implications*

Once you’ve arrived at your preferred temperature, remove from the grill and place on a platter to rest for 5-7 minutes.

To present this dish well, take a scoop of the sweet potato mashers and drop a dollop in the center of the plate. You can serve the tenderloin sliced as I have done in the picture or if you prefer, leave it whole and lightly set it atop the potatoes. Don’t mash it down. With a spoon, ribbon the reduction sauce over your plate and on top of the filet and potatoes. Add an amount you want. if you’re feeling  really fancy, sprinkle some chopped herbs around the rim of the plates. This meal works well with sautéed asparagus or summer squash and will pair well with a Cabernet, Merlot or Syrah. Feel free to name it after someone you love too. 

Best Wishes Honey Duck!

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Grilled Pak Choi with Siam Sesame Dressing

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Grilled Pak Choi with Siam Vinaigrette Dressing

Several years ago I had the opportunity to live in Thailand on Phuket Island with one of my best friends. Because of its location we would travel frequently throughout South East Asia to mix things up a bit. We traveled to Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and China and many points beyond. We had a great time. He and I had a lot of fun, a lot of food and of course, a lot of regional liquors. Malaysia is a predominately Muslim Country that frowns upon alcohol, but we imbibed anyway. As a chef, I paid particular attention to the amazing variations of Asian cuisine. These countries pretty much share the same ingredients, but each one has its own way of preparing them. The following recipe uses simple ingredients and it pairs well with beef, chicken, or fish. Offer it as a staring course or a side dish. Either way, it will be a hit at your next outdoor party and remember to always buy from your local farmer’s market. Enjoy! –Tpum

Ingredients:

≽     Pak Choi aka: Baby Bok Choy, Shanghai Pak Choi, Baby Chinese cabbage (use one head for each guest). This recipe is meant for a gathering of 10-12 people. If you invite less people you can halve the dressing recipe or save the remaining amount in a jar for later use.

≽       ½ cup rice vinegar

≽       ½ cup light cooking oil

≽       1 tsp. fresh minced ginger

≽       1 tsp. Dijon mustard

≽       ½ tsp. whole grain mustard

≽       3 tbsp. black sesame seeds

≽       Kosher Salt and some Fresh Cracked Pepper Corns

Equipment:

≽       Large mixing bowl or wooden salad bowl

≽       Tongs

≽       Charcoal grill or gas powered grill if you don’t use charcoal

Method:

 Dressing:

The Siam Dressing is very easy to make. Simple put all of the ingredients into a jar with a lid and shake vigorously until the oil, mustard and vinegar emulsifies. Don’t be tempted to combine in a blender or food processor. This will turn the ginger and sesame seeds into a mustardy paste.

  1. Halve the Pak Choi length wise, rinse and dry.
  2. Toss the halves in a bowl with a small amount of light oil and sprinkle just a bit of Kosher Salt and a few twists of a pepper grinder. Medium setting.
  3. Over a medium temperature grill, place the Pak Choi halves flat side down and cover them with an aluminum baking pan or even a cast iron skillet. This technique works like a grill oven and will help to cook faster. After several minutes, remove the cover and continue to cook turning often. Be careful of flare-ups due to dripping oil. You really don’t want to use enough oil in step 2 for this to happen. You’re looking for a nice light char especially on the white bulb part. If the leafy tops look like they may be getting too charred, place a piece of foil under them.
  4. Remove from the grill, place on a plate and let cool to room or in this case, outdoor temperature.
  5. Once cooled, return to the mixing bowl, add enough of the dressing to coat and serve. You can place extra dressing on your table in case your guests prefer a bit more.

The final step is to pour yourself a glass of wine, or crack open a cold beer and most importantly, enjoy this time and your meal with friends and family. Enjoy life, eat out more often. Outside that is….

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A light dessert perfect for spring and summer get togethers

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Triple Layer Lemon Cake with Strawberry Filling

The spring season is well upon us and as we look forward to warmer months, we start to trend toward lighter foods, cooler beverages and desserts that are less intense.  If you live in California and you love going to farmer’s markets as much as I do, then you have probably noticed the abundance of Central Coast strawberries making their way onto the market tables. I love simple desserts. If I was given a choice between a slice of dense chocolate cake or a bowl of fresh summer berries drizzled with crème fraise, I would choose the berries. Having said that, I realize not everyone at your table will feel satisfied with just a ramekin of berries and cream. For that reason, I offer you the following compromise. Enjoy! –Tpum

Mise en place:

Equipment:

3 round cake pans. Commercial grade aluminum pans work the best as they distribute the heat evenly. Parchment paper, rubber spatulas, stand up or hand held kitchen mixer, wire rack, offset spatula.

4 ½ cups all-purpose flour (APF)

3 cups sugar

1 ½ Tbsp. baking powder

1 Tbsp. lemon zest

2 cups whole milk

¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from the one you just zested)

¾ cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature

2 tsp. real vanilla extract

3 eggs

Lemon – about 10 medium slices

 

Strawberry filling:

You may use a prepared strawberry fruit spread like preserves, but I recommend using fresh berries to make a simple strawberry sauce.

 1 cup fresh strawberries hulled and halved.

1 cup sugar

½ cup of water or better yet, use a fruit juice like apple in place of the water.

 Lemon frosting:

 ½ cup of unsalted butter

4 cups of powdered sugar

¼ cup lemon juice

1 ½ tsp. vanilla

 

Let’s begin. Preheat your oven to 350 or gas mark 4. Spray your cake pans with baking spray and set them aside. *Chef’s tip: Buy yourself some parchment paper. Trust me, you’ll be happier. Cut a circle the same size as your round pan. After a light spray on the sides and bottom of your pans, line the bottoms with the parchment cut-outs. Next step:

 In a large bowl (or use a stand up kitchen mixer), combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and lemon zest. Add the milk, lemon juice, butter and vanilla and mix on a low speed until combined. At this point you can set the mixer speed on high for about 2 minutes. Now add the eggs and mix on high again for an additional 2 minutes making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally with a rubber spatula. Pour 1/3 of your cake batter into each of the 3 pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes. After about 15 minutes, rotate each pan half way to ensure even baking. Bake for the remaining amount of time or until a inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove and let the pans cool for 10 minutes. Invert the pans on to the wire rack and let cool completely before frosting the layers.

 While the cake layers are cooling down, use this time to make your frosting and the strawberry filling. For the strawberry filling, add the berries, sugar and water / fruit juice. Stir to combine and cook on low for about 8 minutes, stirring often and making sure to scrape the sides of your saucepan. { for a nice presentation, add your lemon slices into the pan after about 5 minutes and reserve until the end }Cool the mixture completely. For the frosting, beat ½ cup of butter in a large bowl or again, you can use a stand up mixer. Beat in between medium and high speeds until the butter is light and fluffy. Slowly add half of the powdered sugar (2 cups), beating to combine. Slowly add the lemon juice and vanilla until it too is combined. Continue on with the remaining powdered sugar, beating it until well combined. If you have used a store bought frosting in the past, you are looking for the same consistency. If the frosting becomes too dry, add additional lemon juice until you arrive at the desired consistency.

 At this point your cake layers should be cool enough to begin the cake assembly. Remove the parchment paper from each circle. On a plate or cake platter, add a dollop of frosting on its center point and place the first layer bottom side up. The dollop of frosting will help the cake adhere to the plate. Spread half of the cooled strawberry filling onto the bottom layer and set the 2nd layer on top. Spread the remaining strawberry filling onto this layer. Place the 3rd layer, again, bottom side up making sure your cake is level and that the layers are uniform.

 Frost your cake. If you use a cake blade or offset spatula, you will have more control over the process. Frost the top of the cake first and then take care of the sides. For best results, don’t overdo it with the frosting. This is a “moderation” cake after all and it’s supposed to be light. As with any cake, always use just enough to cover the cake completely and fill in the gaps between the layers. Too much on the sides will result in a droopy looking dessert. For a beautiful presentation, gather up the cooked lemon slices with a pair of tongs and pile them onto the center of your cake. You can also dress with fresh sliced strawberries.  

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Tuddypum’s Smoked Maryland Blue Crab Cakes

Capturesmokedcrab cakesI met a good friend of mine in Santa Barbara named Andy Sachs. Andy is a native of Maryland and like me, loves to eat and loves to cook. For one reason or another he talked me into moving to Las Vegas with him where we lived for a year. During our time in Vegas I was working for Emeril Lagasse at The New Orleans Fish House. This seemed fitting as I am native to New Orleans.

I remember one day hearing Andy on the phone with his Father Stewart. It seemed that Andy was missing his home state and craving a main staple of Maryland cuisine. Crab Cakes.

Maryland is a beautiful state steeped in rich traditions and the people that are from there are very set in their ways. This fact is especially true when it comes to anything that has to do with the bounty of seafood harvested from The Chesapeake Bay. The king of all seafood in the region is the cherished Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab. I feel safe to say that just as the weather plays a role in our daily lives, the Blue Crab controls the lives of the people who live there.

Back to Andy’s phone call. I don’t know everything that was said between he and his dad, but I do remember Andy (a tall, strong, tough guy with a nice guy’s face), break down and almost start to cry. We were living in Vegas and I thought maybe Andy couldn’t cover a marker and he was begging his dad for money. When he hung up the phone I went to my room and hid my wallet.

Two days went by and a package arrived from Maryland. I placed it on the kitchen counter and when my buddy got home he started running in circles like a dog chasing his tail. It was like the first night of Chanukah / Hanukah for Andy. “Just what the @&*% is in that box man”? Let me open it for you, I said. Like a dog with a bone was the reaction he gave me and I wasn’t going to grab it from him.

Inside the box, his father had placed two cans of fresh picked and packed Maryland Blue Crab Meat along with some ice packs. Andy looked further hoping to find an envelope of cash, but then came to realize it was just crab and he seemed happy enough with that. All I could say was “how in the hell are we going to eat that when we don’t have any money for beer”!? Times were tough for us, but we definitely had our priorities straight.

Andy trusted my skills in the kitchen. I usually do all of the cooking no matter who I live with or what house I’m visiting. Having said that, I was shocked when my good pal asked me if I knew how to make crab cakes. “Uh duh, who doesn’t”? Pleased with my answer Andy handed me his precious cans of jumbo lump and sweet claw meat then he grabbed his car keys and left saying “I’m going to find a way to get us some beer”.

I lied when I said I knew how to cook crab cakes. I like to say that I misled Andy more than I lied to him because I used to make what seemed similar to them in my head. In Louisiana we’ll make a “cake” out of anything. All we have to do it dredge it in something and fry it. That’s where I went wrong and the reason I’m recounting this story.

Thirty minutes after leaving, Andy came back home with beer. I don’t know how, he wasn’t running, and I didn’t hear any sirens so I didn’t ask. It was a good thing that he accomplished his mission because I remember it being 120 degrees out that day and what was coming my way next was going to require at least a six pack each.

I was feeling pretty good. I had everything prepared and now we had cold beer. I told Andy to sit back and I would serve him his plate. “Here you go good pal of mine, enjoy”. Andy looked down at the plate and then back up to me. The color of his eyes changed to red in that very short amount of time and he simply said “what in the hell did you do to my crab you son of a bitch”? “Um, I made crab cakes like you asked big buddy”….

OK, so I got that wrong, but I’m still here to tell you the proper way I learned to make traditional Maryland Style Blue Crab Cakes, but just to piss Andy off once more I’m going to put one tiny little twist to it and smoke the crab first.

This recipe will serve 4 people with 2 cakes each

 

Capturelive crabs

Mise en place:

· 1 pound of jumbo crab meat

· 1 pound of sweet crab claw meat

· 30 butter style crackers crushed into crumbs (Ritz™)

· 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

· 1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce

· 2 teaspoons parsley

· 1 cup mayonnaise

· juice from ½ of one lemon

· 1 teaspoon dry mustard

· 2 eggs

· 1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning (no substitutions)

· 1 tablespoon melted, salted butter

Special Equipment Needed:

§ Large glass bowl

§ Small steel bowl

§ Charcoal Grill (Weber™)

§ Charcoal briquettes

§ Aluminum foil

§ ½ pound of fruit tree wood chips soaked in water for no less than 1 hour*

*If you want to be authentic in the Maryland / Chesapeake region, select either Apple, Pear, Peach or Cherry wood chips. All are indigenous to this east coast region.

Capturewood chips

OK, nous allons commencer:

The first thing we want to do is check our crab for freshness. It doesn’t matter if you live on the east coast or the west coast. If you live in Maryland you will be lucky enough to buy crabs straight from the boat and pick the meat yourself, but no matter where you live you may have to resort to buying refrigerated crab meat in the seafood section of the super market. If it smells sweet and light, it’s fresh, anything else and it may be bad. Fish and other seafood shouldn’t smell overly fishy. **(I will explain this after the recipe)** The second thing you should do is pick through the crab meat to check for shell fragments and any other physical contamination.

To prepare the smoked crab, prep a charcoal grill with hot, grey coals. Place a small stainless steel bowl of water in the coals in the center of the grill. In a separate bowl, soak a few fruit wood chips for approximately 1 hour. Remove wet wood chips from water, and gently drop them on top of hot coals, the wood chips should begin to smoke at this point. Take grill grate and line it with aluminum foil. Poke a few holes in the foil and place crab meat on top. Then place aluminum lined rack with crab meat on top of grill and cover. Allow to smoke for approximately 30 minutes. Remove crab meat and cool for 1 hour. Mix cooled crab meat into same manner as recipe above

Combine all of the remaining ingredients in the order I listed above and mix thoroughly. Add the smoked crab meat and gently fold in so as not to break the lumps. Portion out into 8 crab cakes of equal proportion.

To finish cooking the cakes, you’ll want to broil them in a shallow baking dish. Spray the dish just slightly with cooking spray and add a very small amount of water. Broil for about 10 minutes. Use caution, check regularly to avoid burning the delicate lumps of pure heaven.

Here’s to you Andy, I miss my buddy!

**Explanation about fishy odors from above**

With seafood, there are two different kinds of “fishy” odors and it helps to learn to differentiate them. One is a sign of spoilage, the other is an indication of the presence of healthy fats. The flesh of all fish contains an odorless, nonvolatile chemical called trimethylamine oxide (TMAO). During storage, bacteria on the surface of the raw fish convert TMAO into a volatile compound called trimethylamine (TMA), which produces the unmistakable smell we all know as rotten fish.

The fishy smell of cooked fatty fishes such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna comes from a different source. Salmon fat for instance is highly unsaturated, which makes it susceptible to oxidation when it is cooked. Oxidation causes the breakdown of the fatty acids into strong-smelling aldehydes, which are the source of salmon’s characteristic flavor as an example.

Picked and processed crab meat contains a lot of the crabs naturally occurring fat that is found inside of the shell of the main body. In summary, seafood shouldn’t smell “fishy” when raw. If it does, never ever buy it and I mean never!

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Tuddypum de gâteau au beurre de vanille avec des baies fraîches et crème lemon curd ( Vanilla butter cake with fresh berries and lemon curd cream )

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There are three things that inevitably happen when serving a typical frosted cake at the end of an outdoor summer party. One: the cake has been placed out during the entire event and the frosting has melted down the side. Two: No one can locate a cake knife which turns everyone into a problem solver with all sorts of intoxicated suggestions. Three: By the time everyone agrees that the handle of a serving spoon combined with a pair of BBQ tongs will do the trick, half of the guests will starting saying how they can only have “half a piece dear” or “just a little wedge for me”.  Ok folks, time to go home now!

My solution to these problems is to make a lighter cake in individual servings using fresh fruit and  lemon curd thickened with a bit of confectioners sugar. The individual servings remove the slice size requests and the people who are conscientious of their caloric intake can feel more comfortable with less fat and more fruit. The lack of an entire cake covered with a buttercream or whipped cream covering makes for a better looking presentation with no sagging frosting. If you set them on dessert plate prior to serving, you eliminate the chatter of what to use to cut the cake.

This is a delicious recipe that will help you host a less stressful conclusion to what should be a wonderful time spent with the people you love.  T-pum

 

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Mise en place:            350 degree oven

1 cup softened butter (2 sticks)

1  1/2 cups light brown sugar

4 eggs

2 Tbs. Vanilla Extract (pure)

2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1  1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup whole milk

1/4 cup  lemon curd (Trader Joes)

1 cup Heavy cream

Fresh berries (Black, Blue, Rasp, Strawberries)

Powdered sugar for dusting

Equipment:

Electric mixer

Large bowl

Flour Sifter

13 x 9 cake pan

Large round biscuit cutter

Rubber spatula

Let’s Begin:  Most cake recipes will tell you to dump all of the dry ingredients into a bowl or a stand-up mixer and add after eggs, but I suggest the first step should be to sift together all of the dry ingrediants  except the powdered sugar used for garnish. Do this step twice. Not only does it make for a lighter flour that mixes well with wet ingredients , it also evenly distributes the baking powder, baking soda and the salt. If you were to buy cake flour, it would have the same dry ingredients. Why not just do that you ask? Because I wanted to teach you something.  Set this bowl of dry ingredients aside.

Beat the butter and brown sugar together using an electric mixer for 3 minutes on a high speed setting. After 3 minutes it should appear light and fluffy. (This is called the creaming method). Scrape down the bowl. Start adding eggs to the creamed sugar one at a time and then add the vanilla extract.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half of the sifted dry ingredients. Slowly add the cup of milk and blend. Add the remaining flour and beat until well blended.

Grease and flour a 13 x 9 cake pan or spray and line with parchment paper cut to fit. Evenly smooth batter with rubber spatula and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or check with toothpick between these times.

Remove from the oven and let the cake pan cool on a wire rack for about 15-20 minutes.

Lemon Curd Whipped Cream:

While the cake is cooling, place an electric mixing bowl into the freezer for about 5 minutes. A very cold bowl helps to whip the cream to peaks faster. Using a whisk attachment, add the heavy cream and starting on a low setting, increase the speed in 30 second increments to avoid splatters. Whipping cream in a mixer is never a perfectly timed task and requires attention for the consistency that you need. You have to eyeball it. I’ve learned to walk away to do something else because I know the sound of the mixer once its to the stage I want.  You will see the cream build volume and start to form peaks. Remember that one cup of heavy cream will typically double during mixing. Just after peaks start to form, stop and scrape down the bowl. Again, begin on a slow speed up to a medium speed. Begin adding the lemon curd one spoon at a time until well mixed and the color turns to a pale yellow. This becomes your filling and should stand slightly firm, but not runny. place the bowl into the refrigerator.

By now the cake should be cooled enough to turn out onto a flat surface. Using a biscuit cutter, map out how many cake circles you will have. You need an even number in order to have two layers for each individual serving.  Cut rounds as close together as possible. Any remaining heat will quickly cool.

Build each mini cake by slightly opening a paper muffin cup and place the bottom round inside the cup. Add a dollop or two of the lemon curd whipped cream and set the top layer. Another dollop on top. Place berries on the top cream but, do not press them down. The weight of the berries will allow this to happen slightly. Dust the top lightly with powdered sugar and place the mini cakes on a serving platter in a cool place until you are ready to serve.

I know you will love this recipe, it seems slightly difficult, but really it isn’t. Compared to the three inevitabilities I mention above, It’s a piece of cake!!!!

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Gai Pad Med Ma-Muang {Spicy Thai Cashew Chicken}

ไก่เผ็ดเม็ดมะม่วง

Spicy Thai Cashew ChickenQuarterdeck

One of my fondest memories of living in Thailand would have to be the leisurely afternoons spent at The Royal Phuket Yacht Club. It was a relaxing way to unwind after a morning of doing absolutely nothing except swimming and dodging King Cobras. At the yacht club, my friends and I would sit on the veranda over looking Nai Harn Beach and the Indian Ocean. Besides the view, the main draw for us was the Quarterdeck Restaurant and their Spicy Thai Cashew Chicken. Served over perfectly prepared Jasmine Rice, no place makes it better. As much as I asked, the Chef would never offer me his recipe so based on what I tasted, the following preparation is as close as I can come. Please enjoy it and… มีฤดูร้อนที่ยิ่งใหญ่  -Tpum

 

This recipe will yield 4 servings.

 

Mise en place:

 

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp. Canola or other light oil.
  • 1 lb. boneless and skinless chicken breast
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp. Hot Thai Chili paste. (Oriental market)
  • 1 red bell pepper (large). remove the seeds and cut into about 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 white onion, cut same size as bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup of oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 6 +/- dried birds eye Thai chilies or you can use chilies de arbol if you can’t find birds eye
  • 1/2 cup (heaping) dry roasted and unsalted cashews
  • 5 scallions cut into 1 inch pieces
  • Steamed Jasmine rice. See package for cooking time   

Equipment:

  • Heavy Wok with Wok ring or a large skillet

 

Prepare the rice as instructed on the package and set aside. A rice cooker will handle this for you and allow you to focus on the following. Timed right, everything will be ready to serve immediately together.

 

Ok, this is a pretty simple to make recipe with bold flavors and opposing textures.  If you plan to use a wok, it’s a good idea to own a wok ring. This stabilizes the rounded bottom and prevents some of the heat from escaping. Wok cookery is a  hot and fast way of cooking meat and vegetables. Into your wok or skillet over medium – hot heat, add one tbsp. of the oil. Immediately add half of the chicken, season it with salt and pepper and stir-fry it until thoroughly cooked. Put it into a bowl and set aside. Repeat this step with the remaining amount of the chicken remembering to add 1 tbsp. of oil.  Add this to the bowl of already cooked chicken.

 

Into the same wok over the same degree of heat, add the remaining Tbsp. of oil. Now add the chili paste. Stir the paste constantly for about a minute and a half to break it up. Add the chicken broth, the bell pepper, onion, oyster sauce and sugar. Stir it well and let simmer for 3-4 minutes. reduce the heat to medium and add the cooked chicken and the juice that has collected in the bottom of the bowl. Continue cooking just until the sauce has slightly thickened and the vegetables have cooked tender. this takes about 4-5 minutes.

 

The last step is to add the cashews, scallions and the dried chilies. Combine all the ingredients and serve over the rice. The heat intensity will depend on how long you continue to cook after adding the chilies.

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I don’t really reblog. It seems a lot easier though. I thought this was cool to share since my site is all about food.

Illustrated Bites

Knife Skills

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Q and A: How to mix bread dough with out a mixer.

Today’s kitchen question was emailed to me by Al Mercado from New York City.

Q.

Dear Tuddypum,

I would really like to begin baking fresh  bread at home. My Grandfather used to bake bread from scratch and my memory of him making the dough, letting it rise, and pulling perfectly shaped loaves from the oven has always stayed with me. When I would visit my grandparents, their house was always filled with the wonderful aroma of freshly baked bread.

Here’s my question. How can I make my dough without having a stand up mixer? Every recipe I come across says to add the ingredients into a electric mixing bowl using a dough hook. This is how my Grandfather did as well. He had a very old one that seemed to work really well. The mixers are still in production and I’ve priced them out. They range anywhere from $199.00 – $350.00. That’s an investment that I cannot make at this time. Maybe one day. Do you have any tips or advice? Also, my wife has a gluten allergy. Can you provide a recipe for bread that does not contain gluten?  Thanks.

A.

Al, I feel your pain buddy. It’s too bad that your Grandfathers’ mixer didn’t get passed down to you. I know the brand you are speaking of. The newer models perform as well today as they did back when your Grandfather used his. I feel it is a worthy goal and I hope that sometime so you will be using one. I suggest that you check around at the thrift stores or even at a pawn shop. Believe it or not, I’ve seen them in both places, but they sell quickly.

In the mean time, you’re going to have to be creative. If you’re not a creative person, that’s ok because you have me to help and I’m as creative as they come. I can have you eating a sandwich made with slices of your own bread by sundown and it will only cost you .75 cents at your local hardware store. Oh, I forgot you said that you live in NYC so unless you are within walking distance, you should add some cab fare into the price.

In order for this to work well, you need to use a cordless or electric power drill. If not, go knock on some doors. Don’t tell anyone what you’re going to use it for and I advise you to do this in private unless you want people to think you’re as crazy as I am.

At the hardware store, go to the isle with all the hooks. Find yourself an “S” shaped bicycle hook used for overhead bike storage. Buy the red, rubber coated kind.

Viola, handheld mixer with a dough hook. Brilliant work Big Al!

Here is a basic recipe for baking gluten-free white bread.

Mise en place:

3/4 cup potato flour

1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour or chickpea (heaping)

Approximately 1 cup of rice flower.

1tsp. kosher salt

1tsp. of agave honey or use regular

1tsp. gluten free baking powder

1tsp. xanthan gum

1tbls. active dry yeast

2tbls. olive oil

1 1/3 cups of slightly warmed water or you can use milk if there isn’t a lactose allergy as well.

Cooking spray for the bread pan

EQUIPMENT:

Power Drill – Cover the drill with a large Zip-lock or other plastic bag for sanitary purposes. Punch a hole through the bag, insert your improvised hook and chuck it down tightly. Make sure the bag does not wrap around the drill and please exercise caution. Use this method of your own free will.

Bike hook

4×8” bread loaf pan

2 Large mixing bowls

Flour sifter or fine mesh strainer

Rubber Spatula

Cooling rack. If you don’t have one, take one of your oven racks out before preheating and place atop a baking sheet.

Wet kitchen towel

Get set big Al. Here we go!

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees

After you’ve gathered all of your ingredients together, place your mixing bowl onto a wet towel and wrap the bottom. This will hold the bowl in place.

Sift all of the dry ingredients together into the bowl.  You can repeat this step if you wish, but it is not needed. Use a spoon to stir the dry ingredients to ensure that the yeast is evenly distributed.

Add the olive oil and using the wooden spoon again, slowly incorporate while adding the lukewarm milk or water a little bit at a time. I want you to use the spoon first because if you insert the hook before the mixture has started to adhere, you will have a really big mess in your kitchen.

Insert the bike hook and pulse the drill at first. The dough will begin to ball up after about a minute. Now you can increase the duration of your pulses working your way up to a constant low speed. Don’t use the drill in the dough like you would with a concrete screw. The bowl will end up in the living room. This may take you up to 10 minutes using this method. if you get tired, stop for a minute. Remember to use the rubber spatula to occasionally scrape the sides of the bowl.

After aerating the dough, transfer the dough into the second mixing bowl. Spray one side of a piece of plastic wrap with cooking spray and cover the bowl loosely. Set the bowl on a counter nearest the pre-heating oven. Let rise 30-40 minutes.

The dough will have risen considerably. DO NOT punch it down. Spoon the dough into your greased loaf pan and pat it down a bit with the back of the spoon. You can brush a small amount of beaten egg on top if you wish.

Put into the oven for 45-50 minutes. Turn the loaf out onto a wire rack and thump the bottom. A hollow sound means it’s done. If it doesn’t sound hollow, put the loaf back into the pan and continue to bake for another 5 minutes. When you know it’s right, leave it on the rack to cool.

It sounds like a lot of work, but it’s really simple. Thanks for the email, Al. – Tpum.

Yeast bread dough, ready for proving

Gluten Free Bread Dough, ready for proofing

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Joey Cs’s Strawberry or Mixed Berry Panna Cotta with Berry Coulis

Gluten free Strawberry Pannacotta

 

NO Gluten – NO Cheese – NO Shellfish – NO Soy – NO Acidity – NO Seeds – NO Eggs –  YES Vegetarian Friendly  >>>>>DOES CONTAIN CASHEW NUTS<<<<<

Over the past five or so years I have noticed a huge increase in food allergen modification requests that come across the lines of our kitchens. It puzzled me at first until I stopped to think about the possibility that our population has always had allergic reactions to foods and that they may have been misdiagnosed as some type of unexplainable illness. It make a whole lot of sense to me considering the advancements in dietary medical research. I’ve always known that people suffered from lactose intolerance. The inability to enjoy milk and cheeses seems like a punishment to me, but I give credit to anyone with the adaptability to eat healthy in modern day society.

Just recently I became friends with a really great guy named Joey. I learned that he suffers from coeliac disease which in simple language means he has great difficulty processing wheat and gluten. It’s no laughing matter as many people are hospitalized unexpectedly. I imagine this dangerous, inconvenience is often a result of restaurants providing incorrect information. It’s that or that the kitchen staff does not take the proper precautions when attending to the special dietary needs of their patrons.

Since my current menu themes revolve around light summertime fare, it seems appropriate to offer Joey C’s Strawberry Panna Cotta. (Pannacotta)

RECIPE SERVES 4 GUESTS – PREP TIME 15 MINUTES – INACTIVE TIME, 2 HOURS FOR CHILLING

Mise en place:

≽ 2 ½ cups fresh picked and hulled strawberries (use other fresh berries if you wish)

≽ 1tbls. Agave syrup

≽ 1 recipe of Cashew Nut Cream (see recipe below)

≽ 2 tbls. Fruit or granulated sugar

≽ 1 whole Madagascar vanilla bean, halved lengthwise and scrapped of the seeds. Save the seeds for later.

≽ 2tsp. agar-agar flakes

Cashew nut cream:

≽ 2 ½ cups cashews into a bowl of cold water cover and let soak at room temperature overnight. Drain and rinse. Add the nuts into a blender with 1 cup plus 2 tbls. water and blend for 10 minutes. (set it and forget it) it’s that easy to make.

Special Equipment:

≽ Food processor or kitchen blender

≽ Chinois or fine mesh colander

≽ Thick bottomed saucepan

≽ Glass bowl

≽ Plastic wrap

≽ 4 ceramic ramekins

Nous allons commencer:

In to your processor or blender, add your fresh berries and let them blend approximately 2-3 minutes. ( Always remember to hold the lid down with a kitchen towel unless you’re tired of the color of your kitchen paint)!!

Take the fruit mixture and strain it through the chinois or a fine mesh colander into a clean glass bowl. You now have a simple coulis. Discard the left over seeds and pulp. (compost).

Put half of your berry coulis into a glass measuring cup, add the agave syrup and then mix well. Let this chill down in the refrigerator.

The other half of the berry coulis goes into your sauce pan with the cashew nut cream, sugar and the whole vanilla bean and the flavorful seeds. Heat this mixture over low heat no more than 2 minutes. Taste it and adjust the sweetness level to your taste. Now is the time to add the agar-agar flakes. Stir this non-stop for 5 minutes or a little longer if you notice the agar-agar flakes have not completely dissolved. Remove the saucepan from the hot burner and remove the vanilla bean. Let this cool down for about half an hour.

Almost done! Take 4 regular size ramekins or small round glass bowls and line them with the plastic wrap. There is no need to do this perfectly because the imperfections of the wrap make for an interesting, textured look once the mixture is turned out. Spoon the now chilled mixture into the ramekins making sure to smooth the top with the bottom of a spoon or small Teflon scraper. Cover the tops with more plastic and place them in the refrigerator for a minimum of 1 ½ hours.

To plate: remove the top cover of plastic wrap and turn the ramekins over into the center of a chilled plate or even a small serving bowl. Ladle or drizzle the berry coulis over the Panne Cotta, add fresh berries and a sprig or two of mint. An edible flower like an orchid blossom also looks stunning.

Serve your guests, kiss the one you love and then relax for the remainder of the day. Ciao… Tpum

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Tuddypum’s Favorite Places {} Mon Ami Crêperie and Coffee – Pismo Beach, CA

Mon Ami can be found at 230 Pomeroy Ave in Pismo Beach nestled between the Pismo Hotel and Harry's Beach Bar

                                          Mon Ami Crêperie, Pismo Beach, California

I love living in California and I love traveling up and down my adopted home state. Most recently, we had the privilege of living in a beautiful area in San Luis Obispo County about 13 miles south of the world-renowned Pismo Beach and the lesser known beach enclave known as Avila. I have to tell you about one of the best niche eateries I have ever stumbled upon. The restaurant is named Mon Ami which literally translates, le français , into “my friend”. It’s appropriately named because of the way the owners and staff treat their patrons. As their friends. You have to go here especially if you love authentic French crepes, fresh baked croissants, large varieties of other freshly prepared pastries and the best coffee and tea selections in Pismo. Other menu offerings include an impressively good choice of real Italian Panini’s. On my walks toward the beach I always made it a point to stop in for an amazing cup of coffee and the best breakfast bagel sandwiches I’ve had with the exception being the ones I crave from the Bodegas lining the street corners in New York City.

The focal point of the cuisine offered  inside this  hidden gem consists of  the 20 plus styles of crêpes that are freshly prepared on the spot as guests gather around the specially designed, duel flat-top griddles. There are sweet creations that most of us are familiar with like the one they call the Napoleon, (fresh sliced bananas, strawberries that are so ripe and juicy, (they pick them up literally an hour or two from the time they are picked from fields a few miles down the road), all of this fruit is gently placed inside the crêpes, drizzled with the finest chocolate sauce and topped with Chantilly Cream. Are you kidding me? WOW! You’re never going to see this done anywhere else and if you do, well, someone’s trying to duplicate the  Mon Ami in Pismo Beach. 

Most often people think of crêpes being served as a sweet dessert or even a guilty breakfast indulgence. If that’s what you crave then by all means take fifteen minutes there while you try to choose which one sounds best to you.

The Napoleon- Fresh pick strawberries, ripe bananas, Ghiradelli Chocolate Sause and Chantilly Whipped Cream

While staring at the menu, you will learn  that crêpes are served in a savory way as well. Savory you say? Yes, as in not sweet. Mon Ami offers breakfast, lunch and dinner creations so huge that they will blow your hair back, if you have any. I can say that because I shave mine. The size of the food covers a 9 inch round plate. Interestingly, the staff must serve on disposable plateware along with utensils. This is not by choice, but out necessity and it’s due to the fact that so many people line up inside and outside the front door just to be served that it would be an impossibility to keep up with the dish cycle. This small detail will not even be noticeable to you because your food will be so large you will never see the plate until your last bite.

I’m a Chef. I have been for well over 25 years and I have dined with the best of the best. I’ve traveled around the globe and across this country on more than a few occasions. My recommendations don’t come lightly and usually not cheaply, but I am so pleased with Mon Ami each time I visit this area. I am so delighted to offer this information to all of my loyal fans without any compensation. I think I’m also in love with one of the owner’s daughters, but that is of no issue here.

One last bit of information. If you look across the street you will see the well-known Splash Café. If you see a line of people out in front, it’s because the line is shorter there than at Mon Ami. Relax, you’re visiting the best beach in California. Chill out and meet some new friends while you wait for the best crêpes you’ll ever taste. Mahalo – Tpum

Mon Ami is found at 230 Pomeroy Ave. Pismo Beach, CA 93459 Just steps from the beach and the well-known Pismo Pier.

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