Say goodbye to the blues with this Blueberry Pie

This is an update actually…to my previous post on blueberry pie.  I found some beautiful Michigan blueberries the other day and decided what the heck… let’s make a blueberry pie. Well honestly I wasn’t too happy with the filling in my last pie so I tweaked it and this was much much better.  I can’t beat Ina Garten’s Perfect Pie Crust recipe http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/perfect-pie-crust-recipe.html so that’s always my go-to when making a pie.  The recipe is simple, and the results are always good…thanks Ina!

For my filling…here’s what I went with and was really happy with it.

  • 4 cups fresh Michigan blueberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (King  Arthur is my favorite)
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice (the juice of one decent size lemon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Mix all the ingredients together with a large spoon and then pour into the pie shell, cover with the top crust, pinch together around the rim and then brush top with egg white wash and sprinkle with sugar, makes slits in the crust and bake on cooking sheet in 375 oven for about one hour.  (after 30 minutes rotate the pie 180 degrees and continue baking).  Enjoy!

 

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Mussels in white wine and garlic sauce

I remember about 10 years ago I had mussels for the first time in a nice restaurant in Florida and I thought they were just delicious.  The broth, or the sauce, was very classic French and they served the mussels with a French Batard bread that was crunchy on the outside and nice and warm and chewy on the inside.  I tried to recreate that dish and came up with the following recipe.  I like to serve mussels over linguine, with a side of hericot verts.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. fresh mussels
  • 2 leeks
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 5-6 springs of fresh thyme
  • Olive Oil
  • White Wine (I like Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • linguine
  • french bread
  • hericot verts (french green beans)

Wash, scrub and remove “beards” from the mussels.  If any of the mussels are slightly open, tap them and see if they’ll close.  If they do, they’re alright.  If not, you need to throw them away.  Remember, mussels are live when you cook them.  After you clean the mussels and remove the beards, keep refrigerated while you do your prep.

Prepare your pasta.  Heat the water, and once it’s at a boil, add kosher salt then add your pasta and cook according to directions.  In a large sauce pan, bring water to boil, and salt, and then blanch the green beans (cook for just 90 seconds) and remove the beans add them to an ice water bath to stop the cooking.

Trim the end off of the leeks, then cut the bottom portion (just the white part) and rinse under cold water.  Then chop the leeks and set aside.  Finely chop the two garlic gloves.  Heat a heavy cast iron dutch oven over medium heat. Coat the bottom with the olive oil and when it starts to get hot, add the chopped leaks, season with salt and pepper, and stir often while you saute the leeks for about 2 minutes.  Add the sprigs of thyme and saute for another minute or so.  Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute for another 30 seconds.

 

 

 

 

Now add a cup of white wine (dry is better and I like Sauvignon Blanc) and cook for a few more minutes.  Remove mussels from the fridge, double check to make sure they are all closed.  Then add mussels to the pot and cover.  Turn down the heat slightly.  Cook for about 9 minutes until all the mussels are opened.  Add two tablespoons butter, and using a large spoon toss in the pot to coat the mussels in the white wine sauce.

Saute the green beans in olive oil and butter, season to taste and serve as your side dish.

In a bowl, add pasta then spoon mussels over the top adding a drizzle of good olive oil and serve with warmed french bread.  The bread is awesome when you dip it into the sauce!  I’m more of a red wine lover so I like to serve a nice red blend or a pinot noir with the mussels.  Certainly a good dry white wine would be great as well.

Enjoy!

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A little catfish dinnuh (dinner)

Seems like whenever I hear country music playing whether it’s on my iPhone, car radio, or wherever…it’s Luke Bryan singing one of his hits.  I think I must have heard his song That’s My Kind of Night about 100 times in the last week, and in that song, he talks about cooking up a little catfish dinnuh (dinner) so I guess it took over my brainwaves and I decided it was time for me to cook up a little catfish dinnuh!  So I did a blackened catfish cooked in a cast iron skillet, with succotash and cornbread.  Awesome!

Blackened Catfish:

  • Nice fresh farm raised catfish filets
  • Blackening seasoning (I use my own rub and the recipe is on the blog)
  • Grapeseed Oil
  • Cast Iron Skillet
  • 275 degree oven

Take the catfish out of the fridge and brush both sides with grapeseed oil.  Now liberally season both sides of the fish with the blackening seasoning.  Add a few tablespoons of grapeseed oil to the skillet and bring to medium/medium-high heat.  Once it’s hot, add the filets and cook for two minutes before flipping.  Fish shouldn’t stick, and then flip and cook for 90 seconds on the second side.  Take skillet off the heat and put in the oven to stay warm while you cook the succotash.

Succotash:

  • Frozen butter beans (baby lima beans)
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Corn on the cob
  • Black eyed peas
  • shallots
  • Olive Oil
  • Chicken Stock
  • Heavy cream

Soak the black eyed peas in water for at least 4 hours, preferably 6 to 8 hours.  After soaking, remove the floaters, and then drain the rest.  In a sauce pan, add black eyed peas and cover with water (should be two inches over the top of the peas), and then bring to a boil.  When it reaches a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Drain and set aside.  Next, in a saucepan, bring water to a boil, add kosher salt, and then add the butter beans and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Drain and set aside.  Cook the corn on the cob.  Here’s one way.  Bring water to a boil in a large sauce pan, add some kosher salt, then add the corn.  After one minute, take pan off the heat, cover, and let sit for 8 minutes.  Slice the tomatoes in fourths.

In large saute pan, coat the bottom with thin layer of Olive Oil and bring to medium heat. Chop a couple shallots and when the oil is heated, add the shallots and cook for a couple minutes, season with a pinch of black pepper and dash of salt.  Next, add all the other ingredients and saute for about two minutes.  Next, add about a quarter cup of Chicken Stock and let it cook down almost completely.  Then, add a few tablespoons of the heavy cream and continue to cook over medium heat.  Cook for a few minutes as the liquid will cook down. Stir frequently.  You want to have some of the sauce so don’t let all the liquid cook away.   Remove from heat and serve with the catfish!

 

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Award winning “Best of Both” Burger

Who doesn’t love a burger!  I love burgers, no question…but the same old same old just doesn’t do it for me when it comes to burgers.  It’s got to be savory, spicy, juicy, and every bite needs to be special.  I recently won a competition with this recipe that I call the “Best of “Both burger.  It combines two of my favorite foods, burgers, and Mac & Cheese.

First things first. Fire up the grill.  For me, nothing beats the flavor of a piece of meat cooked over a charcoal grill.  I use all natural hardwood briquets, and use the chimney to get the coals going…no lighter fluid for me…not healthy and it changes the flavor.  Use this method…it works well!

Mac & Cheese:  (see my recipe on earlier blog post).  Make the Mac & Cheese and start bakaing it before you assemble the burgers.

  • 80/20 Ground Chuck (make into patties)
  • My seasoning plus kosher salt
  • Fresh Tomato slices
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Spicy chili remoulade sauce

Make your hamburger patties, brush lightly with grapeseed oil on both sides, season both sides with my seasoning and a little extra kosher salt.  Let burger patties come to room temp (about 20 minutes out of the fridge).  Once the coals are done, spead evenly, add your cooking grate, and you’re ready to grill.  Cook the burgers directly over the coals for about 90 seconds to get a nice sear, then place the cover on the grill.   Cook about another two minutes and then flip them.  Two minutes on the other side and you’re good to go.

Spicy Remoulade Sauce:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tablespoon asian Chili Garlic sauce
  • 2 teaspoons asian sweet chili sauce
  • pinch kosher salt
  • pinch fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • the juice of half a fresh lemon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley

Whisk together and that’s it.

Assemble the burger!  Sauce on the bottom bun, then the lettuce, then the tomato, burger patty, and an ice cream scoop of the Mac & Cheese right on top!  In the competition I also topped the burger with fried jalapeno’s which adds a nice amount of heat and a little crunch.  You could always use pickled jalapeno’s if you like.

Enjoy this decadent burger!

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The taste of Spring

OMG!  It snowed here yesterday.  Yep, snow.  What is going on?  I mean it’s mid-April.  Yesterday was tax day and it snowed…maybe there’s some symbolism there somewhere. All I know is I’ve had it with snow and winter even though my best friend actually loves it!

So the other day it was almost 80 degrees and today I’m wearing a winter coat.  But it’s time to say hello to one of my favorite flavors of warmer weather, Lemon.  I love lemon tart which combines the tart lemony flavor with a slightly sweet and flaky crust and some fresh made whipped cream on top.  This is one of my favorite desserts that isn’t chocolate (other than creme brulee).

To make the crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I like King Arthur flour)
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon very cold butter cut in chunks
  • 1 extra large egg, separated
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon ice water
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Pulse the flour, sugar and salt in food processor about 6-8 times just to mix.  Add the butter and pulse until it looks and sort of feels like cornmeal.  Add the egg yolk to the mixture and the ice water (no ice just the cold water) and pulse about 10-12 times until the dough comes together.  Dump out on to a lightly floured board, form into a disc and wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 25 minutes.  Remove the dough from the fridge, roll out to a 12 inch circle and now you’re ready to place in to the 10 inch tart pan (with a removable bottom).  Some people like to roll up the dough with the rolling pin, lay over the tart pan and carefully place it in.  I tend to gently fold the dough, then lay in the pan.  You’ll need to fold over the excess dough and use it to reinforce the edges of the pan. Once you’re done, wrap the dough again and refrigerate for another 25 minutes.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F and then put the tart pan on a sheet pan and prick the bottom of the crust with a fork.  Cover the shell with parchment paper and fill with some dried beans or pie weights, and bake the shell for 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven, and then lightly beat the egg white with a splash of water and then brush on to the bottom and sides of the tart shell.  Let it cool and now make the filling.

Tart filling:

  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice (4 large or about 5 regular size lemons)
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs (room temperature)

I use my stand mixer with the whisk attachment.  Whisk together all the ingredients for about 3 minutes.  Pour the mixture into the tart shell, carefully put in the 350 oven and bake for 22-25 minutes, depending on your oven. The curd should jiggle a little bit when it’s done.  Be careful not to over bake!  Remove from the oven, cool, and let it come to room temperature.  Remove the tart ring bottom.

Whipped Cream

  • 8 ounces heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon powered sugar

Use a hand mixer and whip until nice and creamy consistency, but don’t overdo it or you’ll end up with butter.  I like to use a metal bowl that I’ve had chilling in the freezer for about a half hour.  Enjoy your lemon tart!

 

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Key Lime Pie (sort of…)

Well, I must say I’ve had my fill of winter weather.  Where I live we’ve been nailed by a winter storm that brought tons of snow and real temperatures below zero…that’s before the windchill is factored in and then you get -30!  However my golden retriever is absolutely loving this stuff!

Sandy

So I thought the best way to tackle this winter arctic blast (other than hopping on a plane to Key West) is to get a taste of South Florida right here…so I whipped up a little Key Lime pie.   Trouble is, I couldn’t find any key limes, so I had to use conventional limes.  I was really happy with the results though, this was a slightly tart and slightly sweet pie that reminded me of those awesome nights in South Florida sitting by the water, watching the sunset and scarfing down some key lime pie along with a nice glass of sauvignon blanc.

Graham Cracker Crust:

  • 1/3 box of honey graham crackers, plus two additional crackers
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar plus 1 tablespoon

Melt the butter in a saucepan and then cool for 6-7 minutes.  Place the graham crackers in a food processor and pulse until they’re crumbs.  Add the sugar and melted butter, and pulse just until combined.  Pour graham cracker mixture into 9″ pie pan (I like to use a metal pie pan but glass is okay too) and using your fingers form the crust making sure to go up the sides of the pan as well.  Bake crust in a 350 degree oven for 8 minutes, then remove and cool, and leave oven on.

Filling:

  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 14oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 2-3 teaspoons of lime zest (use 3 teaspoons to add a little more tart flavor)
  • 2/3 cup of freshly squeezed lime juice (about 5 decent size limes) (if using key limes, you’ll need a lot more)

Using your mixer on medium high speed, with the wire whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks and zest for 4-5 minutes.  Next, slowly add the sweetened condensed milk (making sure to scrape the sides occasionally), then next add the lime juice and just mix until combined, only a minute.

Pour the mixture into the cooled pie crust and then bake in the 350 oven for 10 minutes until it’s set.  Remove from oven, let cool for 20 minutes on a wire rack, then cover with foil and place in the refrigerator.

Before serving, place pie in freezer for 10-15 minutes. Cut a slice and serve with a dollop of freshly made whipped cream.

Whipped Cream:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 Tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat together all the ingredients on high until you get the nice consistency of whipped cream.  Enjoy!

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Pommes Gratin Dauphinois

Merry Christmas!  I hope you are happy, healthy, and full of joy during this magical time of year.  Everyone has many traditions with food at Christmas, from standing rib roasts, to seafood feasts on Christmas Eve, and everything in between.  For us, here is one food tradition that we have all come to crave and enjoy year after year.  These are the most decadent, delicious, and awesome potatoes on the planet!  Fairly easy to make, and I think you’ll love these as much as I do.

Ingredients:

  • Russet potatoes
  • Heavy Cream (4 cups)
  • Garlic (3 cloves)
  • Kosher Salt
  • White Pepper
  • Ground Nutmeg
  • 8 oz. grated Grueyere Cheese
  • Heat oven to 375 F.  Start with a large gratin dish.  Lightly smash 3 garlic cloves, cut in half, and then spread the garlic all over the bottom and sides of the gratin dish coating it all over.  Next, peel about a dozen medium sized russet potatoes.  Mandolin the potatoes to the desired thickness, and I usually make mine pretty thin, using the second setting on the mandolin.  Once you had sliced all the potatoes (if you don’t have a mandolin you can slice with a knife but I highly recommend a mandolin, BE SURE TO USE THE GUARD on the mandolin so you don’t slice your fingers!) add the potatoes to a large cast iron dutch oven and then add about 3 cups heavy cream.  Bring heat to medium.  Season with kosher salt and white pepper to taste. Optional: I like to add a 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg which is a traditional French spice.  Cook the potatoes in the cream for about 12 minutes.  Be careful not to bring the cream to a boil, just get it nice and hot so that the potatoes get partially cooked.  Stir occasionally so that potatoes don’t stick to the bottom of the dutch oven.  Transfer potatoes to gratin dish spreading evenly.  Cover the potatoes with the grated Gruyere Cheese, and remaining 1 cup of heavy cream.  Place dish on baking sheet and put in oven to bake for 35 minutes.  Keep and eye on the dish and if it starts to get too browned cover lightly with a piece of aluminum foil.   Depending on your oven, it could take a little longer but 35 minutes is usually just right.  Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!!

Serve these with the protein of your choice, but for me, they certainly go best with beef tenderloin or a good steak!  Also pairs nicely with ham and pork roast.  Hope you enjoy these!

 

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Thai flavored grilled pork chop

When I eat pork, it’s usually when I’m devouring some Eastern North Carolina BBQ or when I cook up a nice lean pork tenderloin.  I went to the local butcher the other day http://www.goosethemarket.com and he had these amazing fresh local pork loins…so I asked him to slice me a couple of chops off the loin and they were amazing.  Really beautiful.  Normally I would use a basic marinade and then grill them but I had a taste for something a little sweet and spicy so went with a Thai marinade and soaked the chops for 3 hours in the fridge and then took them out for the final hour to marinate at room temp.

Thai flavored marinade:

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 1 Thai chile, stemmed and finely chopped (you can substitute with a Serrano chile if you can’t find the Thai chile)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Whisk everything together until the sugar dissolves and then pour over the chops.

I used my gas grill instead of my charcoal grill because I can regulate the heat easier.  Since there is sugar in this marinade, the chops could burn so be careful when grilling them.  I like to set the back of the grill at the hottest, and the front part of the grill at medium. Place the chops on the back part of the grill and sear for about 90 seconds.  You may need to turn the heat down to medium-high depending on your grill.  I have a three burner Weber.  After searing one side, turn over and sear for only 30 seconds or so…then move chops to the front part of the grill that is at medium, close the lid and grill for about 12 minutes (depending on the thickness of the chops).  My chops were about 1 1/2 inches thick.

I served the chops with some basmati rice and grilled asparagus.  The chops were cooked medium with just a touch of pink and very flavorful.  With the chops we had this very nice Sonoma County Zinfandel that complemented the Thai flavor nicely.  The Zin had just the right amount of pepper spice with a touch of cocoa, blackberry, and smooth tannins.

 

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Pan roasted Salmon over garlic mashed with asparagus

I could eat salmon five days a week… I love it.  For me, it’s just about the most versatile fish out there.  You can poach it, grill it, saute it, bake it, or eat it raw (sashimi grade of course).  Whipped this up one night after work and what I love about it is that’s it’s pretty easy and in 35 minutes you’re ready from start to finish.For this dish, I used some nice Sockeye salmon I got from my local market.  It was wild caught and just beautiful.  I love the texture of Sockeye and the deep color.

For the fish:  Take out of the fridge for about 15 minutes before cooking.  Lightly coat with good olive oil, and use a little bit of my rub to season the fish.  Next, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat, and add about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil.  Watch it so it doesn’t burn.  Take the fillets that are seasoned and press one side down on some sliced almonds.  As long as the fish is moist from the olive oil the almonds will adhere to the fish nicely.

Place the fillets in the heated skillet almond side down for 2  minutes.  Flip gently and then place the skillet in your oven and cook for 4-5 minutes.  Remove from the oven.  Your Salmon is done.

You can find my recipe on the blog for Yukon gold mashed potatoes.

For the asparagus, I simply grilled it on the stove in a cast iron grill pan turning every so often.  After snipping off the tough ends of the asparagus, drizzle with olive oil, add some fresh cracked black pepper and kosher salt, toss, and then grill.

Plate the potatoes with salmon on top and asparagus on the side.  Enjoy!

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Pan seared Cod with blood orange sauce and roasted root veggies

Well there’s very little about Winter that I find attractive…and I mean very little.  But it is the best time of year for root vegetables and I’m a fan of squash and brussels sprouts so that’s my main side for this dish.  I also served the Cod with some red bliss potatoes.

Halve the brussels sprouts and remove outer layer.  Peel the butternut squash, cut into cubes, and add to a bowl with the sprouts.  Drizzle olive oil to coat and then add fresh cracked black pepper and kosher salt.  Toss to combine, and then spread a single layer on to a sheet pan and roast in a 375 degree oven for about 17 minutes.

Pan Seared Cod:

Start with some nice cod fillets and take out of the fridge about 10 minutes before cooking.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Put a wire rack over a sheet pan.  You’ll add the fish to the rack and finish in the oven after searing.

Coat a saute pan with olive oil and heat over medium/medium high heat.  Make sure you don’t get it too hot or the olive oil will burn.  When it’s hot…add the fillets and sear them nicely on one side.  Once you put them in the saute pan leave them alone!  After 2-3 minutes you can shake the pan lightly and the fillets should move.  If they stick…use a spatula and gently turn them over.  Place the fillets on the rack, and then place in the oven for about 15 minutes until the fish is cooked through.

Blood Orange Sauce:

  • 3 blood oranges
  • 2 T sugar
  • 2 T red wine vinegar
  • pinch kosher salt
  • pinch black pepper
  • fresh thyme (2 or 3 sprigs)

Zest one of the blood oranges.  Next, juice two of the oranges.  Supreme the other orange and coarsely chop the pieces.

In the saute pan you used to sear the fish, remove the oil.  Place the pan over medium heat and add all the ingredients.  Reduce by about half.  You need to keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t get too hot.

Spoon the sauce over the Cod and serve with the roasted Veggies and potatoes.

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