Wedding Registry Tips From A Professional: Part One


tumblr_lkzluad2zc1qjld6zo1_500Professional cook that is, not bride.   I have yet to cross that particular threshold (ahem.)  But I do know an awful lot about what you simply must have in your kitchen and those fun things that you might not buy out of your own salary, but would sign up to receive!  I worked in kitchen retail for years and also had the opportunity to try out a lot of products.  I know what’s good and what looks good but isn’t actually good.  Good.

So the way I want to organize this is by necessity.  I’ll have three tiers:  first, the must haves.  Second, good things to have.  Third, fun things to  have.  Not every couple getting married is moving into a space with massive amounts of storage, so it’s better to sort of start with the stuff that you need and think about what you can really use and fit.   If you are lucky enough to be moving into a large home or, like me, just have a lot of kitchen stuff already, go ahead and register for the less practical.

A few tips:  really think about what you register for.  Nothing is more frustrating than when brides would come in with thousands of dollars of stuff that they changed their mind about, or decided they wanted store credit for.   If you want the couch from the sister furniture store, don’t register for stuff you can return at the kitchen store for credit.  Register for gift cards at the furniture store.  Also, to the friends and family of the registrees: if a registry has things on it that aren’t to your taste, don’t worry about it!  Buy the couple what they registered for, not stuff you think they want or you would want!  Guess what happens when you decide you know better than the bride and groom.  They return your gift.  And then act awkward around you FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!   Ain’t nobody got time for that.

That said, here’s my first tier.  Stay tuned tomorrow for the second tier.

Cookware:  Register for it piece by piece, rather than all in one big set.  It makes it more affordable for your guests that way, and then if you want to return it because it has a ding in it or something, you are more likely to be able to find a replacement.  There just aren’t as many large sets kept in stock at most stores.

You really need several key pieces:

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I’m not going to tell you exactly which brand of each to buy; that’s up to you.  But there are 6 pieces of cookware you absolutely need, as outlined above.  These are very basic, but you’ll be able to do simple cooking.  If you are an accomplished home cook and want to make your own stocks, by all means get a stock pot (but you can get a great one at a restaurant supply for like, 1/4 the price).  Or a griddle if you want to do big breakfasts.  But for the most part, this is it.   Do not buy or register for all nonstick cookware.  You won’t be able to get the same outcome as with stainless.  You need one nonstick pan for eggs or pancakes, but not a whole set.

Brands I Love:  Staub (cast iron), All Clad, Demeyere, Calphalon (nonstick), Williams Sonoma & Sur La Table House Brands, Kitchen Aid (budget).

Cutlery:  Again, registering by the piece can be a more budget friendly option for your guests.  However, there are several starter sets that aren’t too expensive.  The most important thing that you can do when registering for cutlery is to actually go into the store and try out the knives.  I know most of the high end kitchen stores will let you do this, and have great people with a lot of knowledge. (Houston people:  go see Lilly at Williams Sonoma in Highland Village!!)  Anyway, holding the knife gives you a feel for the weight distribution, handle size, length, etc.  Sometimes the ones that feel the best are not the ones you thought you would end up with.  Knife sets aside, here are the specific types you really need:

essential cutleter

And that’s really it.  I mean, I love a good santoku knife but not everyone does.  For more info on what all the different knives do, check out my earlier post.

Brands I Love:  Wusthof, Shun, Zwilling, Kuhn Rikon, Victorinox.

Electrics:  This is where you can sort of go for the higher end, splurge pieces for your family and close friends to buy.  Look, I know it can feel sort of like you are a spoiled brat asking for expensive items but those that love you WANT to spend the money to celebrate your wedding.  Trust me.  I had more people get frustrated that there weren’t enough big ticket items on their, say, nephew’s registry.  So go for the high end mixer; ask for a Vitamix even!  Then you’ll never have to buy another blender in your life.  Even if you don’t receive it, chances are you will have enough gift cards and returned item credit to buy it eventually anyway.  Plus, some stores give you a registry completion discount for the months surrounding your wedding, making things like this more affordable.

essential electricsSo the slow cooker is great for newlyweds without a lot of time for dinner; you can throw stuff in it, forget about it, and come back later.  Blammo.  Dinner’s done.  Plus, Pinterest has about 342 million slow cooker recipes.  The stand mixer is just something everyone wants.  It’s a statement piece.  Go with Kitchen Aid.  It’s the only brand that really stands the test of time.  As far as blenders go, just make sure it has ice crushing capability.  If you feel like you want to register for a Vitamix, please do.  It’s the best thing that is out there for kitchens, hands down.  Look it up.   Finally, a food processor.  If you go through my recipes on here, you’ll see that I totally depend on it.  Just makes life easier.

Brands I Love: Cuisinart (slow cooker, food processor), Breville (everything), Vitamix, All Clad (slow cooker), Magimix (food processor)

Finally, the last group of absolutely MUST have kitchen tools:

Cooks Tools: So this section is sort of obvious, and you might have some of these already, but why not register for newer, better ones.

essential toolsGet some great tongs; they should last a long time and be at least 12″ long.   Too short and you can’t use them for grilling, reaching in the oven, etc.  Also, you need at least one microplane zester.  These are handheld graters that you can use for zesting citrus, grating parmesan, chocolate, whole nutmeg, etc.  Super useful.  I also love the Microplane brand box grater – it has 4 sides and is very comfortable to use.  You’ll want some great peelers, and now you can get sets with a straight edge peeler, a serrated peeler, and a julienne peeler.  Finally, some offset spatulas.  The one pictured here is rather wide; good for flipping eggs or steak or fish.  The narrow ones are great for icing cakes.

Brands I Love: Microplane, Rosle, Wilton (icing spatula), OXO, Chef’n, Swissmar (peelers).

Finally, if there is one more absolutely essential gadget I can recommend, it’s a good can opener!  OXO makes one that gives you a flat edge and it is fantastic.

Stay tuned for tomorrow, when I post about items that are slightly less essential and a little more whimsical!

Simple Appetizer: Olive & Feta Bruschetta

bruschetta1 copyLet’s start today with a little lesson in pronunciation.  Bruschetta is said with a hard k sound, as is the rule in Italian when you see “ch.”  I know in English “sch” makes one want to say it like “brushetta” but alas.  However, you don’t need to overpronounce it like Giada.  Calm down, lady.

So anyway, bruschetta is a traditional Italian dish that consists of some sort of vegetable, cheese, meat, bean, etc piled on crusty grilled bread.  As with so many Euro dishes, it started as a means of necessity:  bread’s gonna go bad!  Quick, make something with it!  Presto!  Delicious bruschetta.

A lot of times on American menus you will see it with just tomato, basil, olive oil, perhaps some red onion.  I like that combination, but I think you can dress it up and make it a little more special.  The blend of flavors with olives and feta give it an almost Greek flair, and the colors just look so pretty all mixed together:  green, red, white, purple.

This is an exceedingly simple appetizer or snack to prepare but there is one part of it that needs to be attended to carefully.  Don’t toast your bread and leave it out way ahead of time – it will become super dry and overly crunchy.  Toast it just before serving, and then it will be warm when it goes out, while crunchy enough on the outside to support the topping but still easy to bite into.

Olive & Feta Bruschetta

3 roma tomatoes, quartered, seeded, and diced

3 T fresh basil, finely chiffonaded

1 1/2 T fresh oregano, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

10-12 kalamata or other red/purple variety olives, chopped

1/4 C crumbled feta cheese

1/4 of a red onion, small diced

1 lemon, juiced

3 T olive oil

Salt, pinch

8-10 Slices Italian bread or French baguette

In a medium to large bowl, toss together the tomato, basil, oregano, olives, feta, onion, and garlic.   Pour the olive oil over the top and then squeeze the lemon over it.  Toss again and then taste.   The feta can be quite salty, so very carefully add a little kosher salt or fleur de sel if you deem it necessary.  Let the tomato mixture sit at room temperature for about 30 to 45 minutes so that the flavors can mingle.

Just before serving:

Preheat oven to 375 F.

On a sheet pan, spread out the bread slices and drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle a little salt over them, and toss to coat.  Toast the bread untll crisp on the outside but not completely hardened, about 10 minutes.

Pile the tomato mixture on top of the bread and serve!

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Steak Frites

steak1Boy, am I glad I decided to make this when I went to the store the other day.   My allergies have been going bonkers lately (hello, spring!) and I took two extra strength excedrin today for a headache, on an empty stomach.  Cue the shakes.   Nothing like a little steak and carbs to cure all that ails!

Steak and fries are two deceptive dishes.  Seemingly simple, they are two of the most often screwed up foods by home cooks, and even some restaurant cooks.   Let’s talk about fries first.   What you want is a nice, golden brown, crisp fry with a soft inside.  There are as many fry recipes as there are restaurants that serve them.  I will stick with the basic tips here:

French Fries (Frites)

1) Start with an Idaho potato or russet.  Starchy potatoes work better for frying than waxy varieties, and give you more fries per potato.

2)  Peel the potato, and then cut into 1/4 inch sticks.  If you have a really long potato, cut them in half so they aren’t too long as the fries are more likely to break in half if they are too lengthy.

3)  Soak the fries in cold water for anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours.  Soaking pulls some of the starch away from the potato and makes them fry better.  Some people will say eight hours, but I dunno, I think that’s more likely to wick away almost all of the starch from the outside of the fry.   After they are done soaking, dry them thoroughly.  If they are wet, the oil is going to pop and not get as close to the potato.

4)  Heat your oil (canola, vegetable, sunflower, or peanut all work) up to 300 F.  Use a candy thermometer clipped to a wide bottomed pot to monitor your heat.   Working in batches, cook the fries for about 2 minutes and then remove to a tray.   Let them cool completely.   This blanches the fry, cooking the inside without crisping the outside.

5)  Raise the heat to about 375 or 400 F.   Again, working in batches, fry until golden brown and crispy on the outside, about 3 to 5 minutes per batch.  Remove to a lined tray, and sprinkle with kosher salt or fleur de sel quickly.   The salt will pull away excess oil and season the fries.  Serve within 8 minutes, and keep warm in the oven if you need to!

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Now let’s discuss steak!  I live in an apartment, so I don’t have the luxury of an outdoor grill.  I do have what is, in my opinion, the best grill pan on the market.  It’s enameled cast iron, with deep grooves and the capacity to be used on the cooktop, in the oven, or even on your grill.  Love it.  But the tips I will give you here really apply to both indoor or outdoor grilling.

If you get a good steak, like a tenderloin (filet  mignon), porterhouse, New York strip, sirloin, etc, you don’t need to do anything to the exterior except the following:

1) Bring it to room temperature before grilling.

2) Sprinkle with salt and pepper right before you put it on the heat.

That’s it.  If you want to finish it with a little herbed butter, go for it, but if you choose a steak with good marbling and thickness, nothing more is needed.

Get your grill or grill pan good and hot.  Place the steak on the heat and let cook about 5 minutes, then turn 90 degrees for the grill marks.  Cook another few minutes then flip over and repeat.   Don’t press down on the steak while it’s cooking with a spatula or anything.  No need.  Here’s where things get preferential.   I like my steak medium, or about 140 inside.  So, using a meat thermometer, I look for about 135 F and then take it off the heat.  THEN I LEAVE IT ALONE.  Don’t, I repeat, DO NOT cut into your steak right away.  All the juices will pour out, and you’ll be left with a leather shoe for dinner.  So let it rest about 5 to 7 minutes.  Then serve it.  As the steak rests, the juices sort of settle out and it actually continues to cook a little bit, for me that final 5 degrees to get to 140.  Then it’s perfect!

Hopefully this is clear and helps with your steak and fry cookery!  It’s a great dinner to make and if you get it right can really impress.  Bon appetit!

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Vichyssoise, Now with 100% Less Potato (Say What?!)

leeksoup2I am a massive fan of potato – leek soup (hot) or vichyssoise (cold).  There is something immensely comforting in that equally starchy and creamy spoonful; it’s like taking a time machine back to fine dining in 1960.   Something about that appeals to me.   However, as with most of the food featured on this blog, I actually eat what I cook.  When I cook for myself I try to tread the fine line between healthful and tasty.  So the other day at the store, I found myself grabbing leeks and thinking of what to do.  Then I saw the cauliflower, and all the pieces fell into place.   I would make a faux-chyssoise, replacing the carb-laden potatoes with the lighter cauliflower.

Now, I’ve tried to make a cauliflower soup before and it turned out…not so great.  I found a recipe in some magazine, zoned out, and followed it verbatim.  It called for 1 head of cauliflower to like, 6 CUPS of stock and water!  That is crazy talk.    With that much liquid, you wind up with basically globs of cauliflower puree floating in a water and stock mixture.  Blugh.  So today I barely used 2 cups of stock to the cauliflower.  The result was creamy and even.  It’s not quite the silky sensation that true potato leek soup is, but I think a pass through a fine mesh sieve or a chinois would help with that.  I was hungry, and didn’t really care about that so much in the moment.  If you like a bit of texture in your soup, just leave it as it is after you blend it.   For my garnish, I sprinkled the top with some toasted and diced proscuitto – a salty little bite to contrast with the mildness of the soup.   I also prepared some toast with goat cheese to go on the side.  Add a little mixed greens with balsamic to your plate and you are in business.  It’s a fresh, simple meal that satisfies both the gourmand and the realist that coexist in my head.

*A quick note on leeks, for the novice:  Always remove the rough top parts, using only the white and light green parts.  Usually this is the bottom 2 1/2 to 3 inches.  Then chop of the furry root.  Most importantly, cut them in half lengthwise and rinse under water.   Leeks are roots, and are grown in sand, thus are very likely to have a lot of grit and dirt trapped in their many layers.

Cauliflower & Leek Soup

1 head of cauliflower, rinsed and de-leafed, cut into medium chunks

Olive oil

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 leeks, chopped

2 -3 cups chicken stock (just enough to cover the top of the cauliflower in the pot)

1/2 tsp rubbed sage

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/3 C milk

Salt, to taste

Prosciutto or Pancetta, lightly browned

Chopped fresh rosemary

For the toast:

4 slices of italian or french bread

Olive oil

Salt

Goat cheese

Preheat oven to 375 F.

On a sheet pan, toss the cauliflower with a little olive oil and salt.   Roast gently for about 7-10 minutes, until just softened but not browned.  Meanwhile, in a dutch oven or pot, warm about 4 tablespoons of olive oil.   Add the garlic and leeks, and cook over medium heat until softened.  You want to keep the heat under control here and pay attention, because the goal is for the leeks to be very pliable and soft but not browned.   Add the cauliflower, stock, sage, and nutmeg to the pot, and simmer for 20 minutes or until the cauliflower is quite soft.

Pour the contents of the pot into a blender or food processor.  Blend until smooth.   Pour back into the pot.  Over low heat, stir in the milk.   Stir gently and season to taste.  Garnish with pancetta or prosciutto and chopped fresh rosemary.

Toast:

Oven should already be at 375.  On a sheet pan, drizzle the bread with olive oil and a little salt.   Bake for about 5 minutes, or until toasty but not super hard and crunchy.  Spread with a little goat cheese.   Enjoy!

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What’s Up, Googlers?

I’m chuckling because I get probably 43%* of my blog hits from people googling “boning knife.”  I have NO idea how that leads them here, since I’ve talked about that once, but I’ll take it.

I’ve decided to capitalize off of this trend and just go ahead and ask:

Are there lots of questions about boning knives?  If so, please ask in the comments.  If you’re just looking for images, that’s cool too.  I guess boning knives are the most mysterious of all the knives in the land and I’m happy to answer any questions or give my opinions on certain brands.  Working retail in a kitchen store for over two years did not leave me devoid of thoughts on this matter.

(I was really tempted to write “Happy Boning!” right here, but that means something else.)

Bone Voyage!

 

*That’s an exaggeration, but I did the math and it really is 10.4%.  Wild.

Summer Come Early: Fresh Asparagus Soup

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So, yeah I know that asparagus is a summer vegetable.  But it’s such a pretty day and it’s getting warmer and warmer.  I couldn’t help myself.  Last summer I made asparagus soup like every day for a week.  Lots of different variations on this theme!  I love it because making this soup is so simple and quick and is a different way of getting your veggies in besides just sauteing or roasting them.   This kind of soup always starts out really simple, just asparagus and stock or water.  What you really want to think about when making asparagus soup is how you want to spike the flavor, or which way you want to take it.  You can do really basic and finish it with cream, which is sort of heavy but tastes amazing.  My favorite way to flavor the soup is with a little citrus.  The brightness of citrus just balances the bitterness of the asparagus and is a much more healthful way of adding flavor than cream or milk.  Today I also tried something new and added a bit of fresh ginger to the stock as I cooked the asparagus.  Delish.  I put a little dollop of creme fraiche (basically, French sour cream) as a garnish.  It’s a little more mild and sweeter than regular old sour cream and was the perfect balance to the other flavors.

So, I just made enough for 2 people.  The asparagus right now (that I have been seeing, at least) is the very skinny variety.  So just double or triple the recipe if you are making for more.

Fresh Asparagus Soup

1 T olive oil

1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed and cut in half

2 cloves garlic, smashed

1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

2-3 C chicken or vegetable stock, enough to just cover the asparagus in the pot

1/3 C fresh orange juice

Kosher salt, to taste

Creme fraiche for garnish, if desired

In a pot, warm the olive oil.  Add the garlic and ginger, and just saute slightly.  Add the asparagus and coat with the olive oil.   Pour in the stock and bring to a simmer.   Cook the asparagus until softened, about 10 minutes.

Carefully remove the asparagus and put into a blender or food processor using tongs.   Pour in about 1 1/2 C of the stock and blend until smooth.

TIP:  The asparagus and stock are hot.  Steam rising from that will blow the lid off your blender if there is no place for it to escape.  If you have a blender that is vented, like a Vitamix, don’t worry about.  Otherwise, remove the little plug from the top of your blender and hold a kitchen towel over the opening.  The towel will absorb the steam and keep the soup from spraying out!

If you want to add a little more stock to thin out the soup, please do so.  Otherwise, pour out the remaining stock and pour the soup back into the pot.  Over low heat, stir in the orange juice and salt to taste.  Serve in bowls with a dollop of creme fraiche.  Enjoy!

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Heart Healthy: Go Red for February!

red gold 2As many of you probably know, February is Go Red for Women time.  Red Gold Tomatoes reached out to me to come up with a healthy recipe using their products, which is awesome!  Heart disease is still the number one killer of women in the United States, and just overall a really serious and unpleasant situation.  However, eating right and getting exercise can help ward it off.  So I designed a vegan recipe with LOTS of flavor and lots of nutritional value using Red Gold products.  Red Gold, based out of Indiana, has been producing tomato products since 1942 and their company participated in Wear Red this month, so they really practice what they preach!

red gold

What I came up with was a blend of sage spiced quinoa and black beluga lentils with a tomato sauce filled with lots of garlic (prevents heart disease!!) and herbs, topped with a basil and celery leaf blend.  This is super low calorie, very pretty, and has a nice earthy flavor.  Combining the lentils and the quinoa makes this an incredible source of protein and a great meal for people who are doing a lot of working out.  It is also gluten-free, so any of you that suffer from celiac or gluten intolerance that have a yen for spaghetti, this is a great option.

I used black beluga lentils because they are my super favorite.  They are an heirloom variety and are so named because when you get them wet or toss them in oil, they look like beluga caviar!

beluga

They also just stand up really well to cooking and have a thicker consistency than say a red lentil or green lentil – they don’t turn to paste if you cook them right and are more “beany” than mushy.

Thanks to Red Gold Tomatoes for sending me the product – the flavors are spectacular!

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Quinoa & Lentil Marinara

1 C quinoa, rinsed & cooked to package directions

1 C black beluga lentils (or other varieties if you can’t find them)

Olive oil

1 tsp rubbed sage

2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 yellow onion, small dice

2 celery stalks, small dice

1 T tomato paste

1 can Red Gold Diced Tomatoes, Oregano Basil & Garlic Flavor

1 can Red Gold Tomato Sauce

Kosher salt

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 T fresh oregano leaves

2 T fresh basil, chiffonade, plus more for garnish

Chopped celery leaves for garnish

Toss the cooked quinoa with some olive oil, a little salt, and the rubbed sage.  Set aside & keep warm.

In a pot, warm 1 T of olive oil.  Toss in the lentils and stir.  Add 4 cups of water and bring to a simmer.  Cook uncovered for 30-40 minutes, or until desired consistency. (I like them a little past al dente).   Drain and set aside.

While the lentils are cooking, warm another couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a sauce pan.  Add the onions, garlic, and celery and sweat (meaning, cook but don’t brown them) for about 2 minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste and saute about 1 minute.   Add in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, paprika, basil, and oregano.  Let simmer for approximately 10 minutes.  Season to taste.  Serve on top of a bed of quinoa and lentils, topped with more basil and celery leaves.

Serves 4-6

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Tweet Tweet

I made a twitter – follow me there for updates and self indulgence!  Hopefully I won’t cause a national scandal like EVERY SINGLE PERSON in the public eye on there.  Not that I’m in the public eye. You know what I mean.  Tweetle dee!

@theladyisachef

White Chocolate Cherry Mousse: Only 5 Ingredients!

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Happy Friday, and a very Merry Go Texan Day to you all!  So, my pal Stacy moved to Oregon a while ago to work for a Maraschino cherry company called Cherryman.   She was nice enough to send me some of their all-natural, farm to market, gluten free cherries to play with and see if I could come up with a fun recipe.   Tempted as I was to just buy some rye, make an  Old Fashioned with a maraschino garnish and call it a night, I actually spent quite a while thinking about it.   Maraschinos are pretty sweet, since they are preserved in a sugary suspension, and therefore really lend themselves to desserts.  If you are a housewife in the 1950’s, you would probably stick one inside a pineapple circle on the outside of a ham.  If you are a child in the 1980’s, you like them in Shirley Temples and Roy Rogers.  The interesting thing about the Cherryman natural cherries is that they aren’t sickly sweet like most of the maraschinos I’ve had.  They are actually a little bit tart, and more authentically cherry tasting.  Plus, they have pretty darn cute packaging.*

cherryman

What I ultimately decided on was simplicity and elegance.  I’ve made a bazillion mousses in my day, and the base recipe I’m using here is very quick and not too challenging.  The actually cherries are going to be my garnish, and I used the liquid inside the cherry jar to flavor the mousse.  It gives a great flavor, and the dark red mixes in to give the final product a really sweet pink tint (which did not photograph, but it totally does.)

White Chocolate Cherry Mousse

1  1/4  C heavy whipping cream

4 egg whites

1/2 C granulated sugar

5 oz white chocolate

3-4 T Cherryman maraschino cherry “juice”

Gather 3 glass or stainless bowls.  In one, pour the whipping cream.  Beat it with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer until stiff peaks form.   Set aside.

Set up a double boiler:  Get a saucepan, fill it about 1/3 up with water and bring to a light boil.  Place the white chocolate in another bowl and set on top of the double boiler.  Make sure the water in the pot is not touching the bottom of your bowl.  Melt the chocolate while stirring it until it gets to about 120 F.  You need a little thermometer for this, or just eyeball if you feel comfortable.   Be careful not to scorch the chocolate.   This should only take about  4 minutes or so.  Once done, set the chocolate aside.

In the final bowl, whisk together the sugar and the egg whites.   Put them over the boiler, and whisk constantly until the mixture reaches 120-125 F.  This takes about 3 minutes.  If you are using a stainless bowl, it will feel warm to the touch but not hot.  Be careful not to let the eggs start cooking.  Once they are warmed, put them in the mixer or use your hand mixer to created what is called a “swiss meringue.”  Beat the mixture until it has roughly the consistency of that marshmallow fluff – it should be very thick and shiny but won’t get peaks or anything.

Fold the egg mixture into the chocolate, and then fold the whipped cream into that!  Finally, pour the cherry juice in and make sure it is evenly distributed.  Pour the mousse into 6 ramekins and chill for at least 1 -2 hours.  Garnish with more maraschinos and a little more cherry juice.  Be sure to eat them as soon as they come out of the fridge, as they will melt into a puddle, and no one wants that!

Serves 6

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*I was not paid to write this or create this recipe – these are all my own, honest opinions 🙂

Herbed Edamame Hummus & Smoky Baked Tortilla Chips

hummus1I had a billion leftover corn tortillas from yesterday so I wanted to try out baking some chips.  Now, I’m a huge fan of using spices and smaller aromatics to completely change the way something tastes.  Today my item that sort of marries the hummus to the chips is some smoky ancho chile powder.  This is pretty easy to find at the grocery store, and is great added to just about anything.  I wanted to bake the chips so the texture would be a little different than just regular old fried tortilla chips, plus baking them is healthier.

The edamame hummus is pretty straightforward except for the addition of tarragon and cilantro.  Cilantro you see a bit more often, but I’ve never had it with tarragon.
I think the sort of liquoricey taste blended well and was just subtle enough to take this to a more unique place.  Again, I added the ancho chile powder with just a hint of cumin.  Also, there is a citrus present in both dishes.   The chips have lime zest and lime juice, while the hummus has lemon juice, which is a must for any hummus.

Here’s the recipe:

Edamame Hummus

1 1/2 C shelled cooked edamame beans (you can find these prepackaged or frozen at the store)

1 T tarragon leaves

2 T cilantro leaves

1 T tahini paste

2 tsp sea salt

2 T lemon juice

1/2 tsp ancho chile powder

1/4 tsp cumin

1/2 to 3/4 C olive oil, or as needed

Combine all ingredients except the olive oil in a blender or food processor.  Pulse until well combine and mostly smooth.  Leaving the blender or food processor on, stream in the olive oil until the hummus has loosened up to an acceptable dip consistency.

Smoky Baked Tortilla Chips

8 corn tortillas, cut into quarters

4 T vegetable oil

1 T lime juice

1 lime, zested

2 tsp ancho chile powder

2 tsp kosher salt

Combine all ingredients except the tortillas in a large bowl.  Whisk together until combined.  Add the tortilla quarters and move around the bowl until completely and evenly coated with the dressing.  Arrange the tortillas in an even layer on a baking sheet (use 2 if you need to) and then put in the oven.  Bake for at least 15 minutes or until crisp.  This may depend on your oven.  If you know your oven has hot spots, then rotate the pans halfway through baking.

Also, if you like the flavor on the chips, you could easily making the flavors into a vinaigrette.  Using any kind of oil, but preferably one with a light flavor like safflower oil or canola oil, combine the oil in a three to one ratio with the lime juice.  Add the seasonings and perhaps a bit of black pepper and then whisk or shake in a sealed container until combined.  Voila!

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