Gosh, I’m just “pickled” pink about this meal!

Desserts / July 3, 2015

While watching Chopped earlier this week, (Yes, I am a Food TV junkie,) one of the competitors went on and on about the food he meant to cook that didn’t get on the plate. He had a plan and a picture in his head of what he thought the judges needed to see from him in order to win and it didn’t work out.

“Don’t tell us about what we can’t taste.” One judge reprimanded…and then added with a grin, “There’s no need to talk about what didn’t make it because what did make it is superb.”

Take that and shove it into your convention oven! Whoa!

And so the basic rule of cooking is reinforced: Go with the flow, embrace whatever happens, then take credit for the mistake…I mean final result. I can’t tell you how many times I have jumped up and down because of a happy accident. Case in point, the deep pinkish-fuchsia color my quick pickled radishes turned into. YOU may have already discovered this, but it was a first for me. And boy did it end up becoming the crowning glory of a meal that flat out rocked.

I’m getting into this “presentation” phase with my food. Experimenting with how things look plated in an elegant way, and learning about scale and white space with food. It is a kick. Stacking, smearing, teetering…It is just FUN. And it teaches you a lot about texture and which food doesn’t go on the bottom. (Oh my!)

The other kind of accident (but not as much for me these days and I’m really getting the feel of how to take a series of flavors and spices and create a completely new taste,) is when the flavors from one dish are so perfectly paired with the whole meal you wish you could just jump on the plate and roll the food all over you it is that good.

That’s exactly what happened when I created this fan-worthy meal. See the photos below for my GRILLED PORK LOIN WITH PEAR CRANBERRY CHUTNEY, INDIAN SPICED LENTILS, POTATO/ARTICHOKE/GOAT CHEESE PANCAKES. Even the dessert caused us to swoon. I let fresh raspberries sit in a little sugar, port wine, and lemon zest then tucked them into dough and create these FRESH RASPBERRY HAND PIES. But it was the BRANDY BUTTERCREAM FROSTING that knocked us out!!!


Pear Cranberry Chutney

Makes a little less than 3 Cups


Ingredients:

1 C craisins
4 T fine brandy
3 large ripe Boscpears peeled and cut into small chunks
2 small ribs celery sliced
½ C white sugar
1/3 C champagne vinegar
Juice of one lemon
1 2 inch knob of fresh ginger chopped finely (or grated but I like the looks of the chunks in the chutney!)
Pinch of cayenne pepper


Directions:

  • In a large saucepan combine all ingredients. Bring to boil then lower heat until it is simmering and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Serve with your favorite meat! I served it cold with Grilled Pork Loin, Indian Spiced Lentil Salad. Can also put into canning jars, seal and keep, or just keep in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks.

Indian Spiced Lentil Mint Salad

Fab in Forty Minutes or Less

6 Servings


Ingredients:

Spice Mixture:

¾ t cumin
¼ t cinnamon
½ t dried oregano
¼ t ginger powder
¼ t curry powder
¼ t turmeric
¼ t dried fennel powder
¼ t coriander
Salt and pepper


Salad:

1 C uncooked lentils
½ C loosely packed chopped fresh mint
¼ C loosely packed chopped Italian parsley
2 carrots
¼ c onion sliced thinly
3 large cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1/3 C mild light olive oil, divided


Directions:

  • Combine all of the spices in a small dish and set aside.
  • Bring 4 C of water to boil. Add lentils and cook about 13 minutes, or until al dente. You don’t want them mushy for this warm salad. When done, drain, rinse only once with cold water to stop cooking, and put in a large, cool, bowl.
  • Chop the herbs and set aside. Chop the onion and carrot and garlic and set aside. Heat 2 T oil in a pan over medium/high heat and sauté the onion and carrot until soft. Then add the garlic and sauté for about 30-45 seconds until fragrant, but not burned. Take off stove and turn off the heat.
  • In the bowl with the lentils add the carrot/onion/garlic mixture, the fresh herbs and stir. Then add the spice mix, adding about 1/3 at t time and tasting for the level of spice you like. I used it all but about ½ teaspoon. Then add the rest of the oil and additional salt if needed to taste. If a more oil is needed to make it glossy, you can add. Set aside. Do not refrigerate and serve right away or at room temperature. Can be made about 5 hours before.
  • Refrigerate leftover salad.

Potato, Goat Cheese and Artichoke Heart Pancakes

About 6 Servings


Ingredients:

4 medium/small new potatoes, washed, skins on, chopped to about 1 inch cubes
1 C of canned artichoke hearts, drained and rough chopped
3 ounces of soft goat cheese broken into chunks
¼ C all-purpose flour
1 large egg
Dash paprika
Salt and pepper to taste, about 1 t salt and 1/2 t black pepper
2 T cream to moisten
3 T butter
2 T light oil such as canola


Directions:

  • Cook the potatoes in boiling water until very soft. Drain, cover with cold water to cool the potatoes. Drain thoroughly.
  • In a large bowl, work with a potato masher and mash the cooked potatoes.
  • Add the egg, cream, flour, paprika, drained and chopped artichoke hearts and stir well with a fork. Drop chunks of the goat cheese in and fold, working to spread the cheese evenly.
  • Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan over medium/high heat. When melted, drop by spoonfuls into the hot oil/butter mixture. Each pancake should be about 2 ½ to 3 inches diameter. As soon as you see browning happening on the edges, GENTLY turn the pancakes over with a small spatula. When you see the browning again on the side in the oil, remove and drain.
  • Serve hot or room temperature

*Even though artichoke hearts and goat cheese are salty, potatoes are bland. So you will need more salt than you think. I recommend at least 1 t of salt and ½ t pepper, but more may be needed. Make a small test pancake if you don’t want to try the raw batter for flavor and then adjust flavoring after trying the cooked pancake.

Artichoke Stuffed Chicken with Bacon

Serves 4


Ingredients:

4 6-8 oz. portions of boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 long slices of thick-cut bacon
6 oz. whole milk ricotta
1 large egg
1/2 C grated Parmesan (loosely filled)
3/4ths of a 12 oz can artichoke hearts drained and chopped
1/2 t paprika
1/4 C chopped white sweet onion
1/2 t salt 1/4 t black pepper (extra to sprinkle on after assembling)
3-4 T light oil


Method:

  • Cut slit in center on chicken to create a pocket. Rub with a bit of the olive oil. Mix the ricotta down to salt and pepper. Mix well. Stuff into pocket then wrap bacon around. Arrange in baking dish about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for about 35 minutes until chicken is cooked through and bacon is done. But don’t overcook.
  • Serve over rice.

Raspberry Hand Pies with Brandy Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

Enough pie crust dough for two pies
2 pints fresh raspberries, rinsed and patted dry
Zest from 1 lemon
½ C sugar
3 T port wine
2 t cinnamon
2 T brandy
½ stick of soft butter
¼ t vanilla extract
Mint to garnish
About 1 C of confectioner’s sugar or enough needed to make the frosting the consistency you wish.


Direction:

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  • Mix raspberries, sugar, port wine, zest and 1 t cinnamon in a bowl. Stir and let marinate for about 2-3 hours.
  • Grease a large cookie sheet. Prepare pie crust as directed and roll out to make 7-8 oblong squares. Using a slotted spoon, divide the fruit evenly among all of the square, blotting up any juice than runs. Seal over to make an oblong pie, cut slits in the top, and place on the cookie sheet. Place in oven and reduce heat to 375 degrees F. Cook for about 30 minutes until golden brown. Cool, and frost.
  • To prepare frosting FIRST add the butter, brandy and vanilla to a bowl and cream together. Then begin adding the powdered or confectioner’s sugar, little by little and stir. If you need more moisture add a touch of brandy. If it is too moist, add more sugar.
  • Spread over the hand pies and garnish with fresh mint.


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