Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Kitchen Awesomeness (Buttermilk Panna Cotta Round Two, Perfect French Toast, Hoisin Glazed Shrimp, Mushroom and Caraway Soup, and the Cookiesperiment!)

     Prepare thyselves. This will be an epic posting. And not because I've been up to a lot in the kitchen in the two weeks or so since I last wrote, but because I've done a lot in the past two DAYS. It really has been a mini-marathon.
     First thing's first. I know you all have pretty much been sitting on the edge of your respective sitting machines just WAITING for me to tell you how the Buttermilk Panna Cotta turned out using real buttermilk instead of the reconstituted powdered variety that I used with great success before. Well, exhale, my friends because I am about to tell you. It tasted remarkably similar. The real stuff turned out a custard slightly lighter in color and a bit lighter in flavor, perhaps, but all in all about the same. Now that that is out of the way, I will share the first of several recipes.

Buttermilk Panna Cotta
You will need:
2 cups of buttermilk, fresh or otherwise
1.5 tsp unflavored gelatin
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar

With which you will:
1. Sprinkle the gelatin over 1 cup of buttermilk and set aside to soften.
2. Bring cream and sugar to a boil, turn heat to low.
3. Stir in gelatin mixture, whisk for 3-4 minutes until dissolved. Remove from heat.
4. Stir in remaining cup of buttermilk.
5. Pour into serving dishes, cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

So easy, right? SO delicious! Has a nice tangy quality to it. It's great with sweetened strawberries on top, or by its lonesome.
     That happened a week or so ago, but it didn't really make for an entire blog post, so I waited until the urge to get cooking hit me again, and it did a few days ago. And again, our story starts in Harris Teeter. After I ceremoniously spread some sample Irish Butter on a piece of sample Pecan Raisin Oval loaf (which was very tasty, and when I found the loaf, it was tiny and more than five bucks! CRAZY!), I stumbled upon a loaf of challah bread. I'd been toying with the idea of making french toast with something other than supermarket sandwich bread for a while, and here was a lovely loaf of challah! For an outrageous price. Eff that. So I moved on. But the next day I was back to pick up some lunch, and lo and behold! My challah loaf was now a day old and less than two bucks! Cha-ching! Sold! And day old bread is perfect for french toast!
     This recipe is from good old Alton Brown, with a minor tweak, and it was very tasty. Apparently he's lost a good bit of weight recently, and good for him. But it probably was not by eating this every day for breakfast. Yeah, I know you want in on that bacon action.

Perfect French Toast
 You will need:
6 thick-ish slices of slightly stale bread (brioche and challah are great choices)
2/3 cup of milk or half and half
2 large eggs
1.5 tbsp honey, heated in microwave for 20 seconds
Pinch of salt
Splash of vanilla
Butter for cooking

With which you will:
1. Preheat oven to 375. Whisk milk, eggs, honey, salt, and vanilla together. Pour into a dish good for dipping bread into.
2. Dip bread into mixture, allowing each side to soak for 30 seconds. Let slices rest on a baking sheet for 1 or two minute before cooking.
3. Melt butter in pan over medium-low heat. Working in batches, cook slices for 3-4 minutes on each side until nicely browned.
4. Slide slices directly onto oven rack and bake for 5 minutes. Serve with topping of your desiring.

     It's a really great recipe. I know it's a little more high maintenance than most french toast recipes, but the baking really makes the insides fluffy and decadent. I topped mine with sugared strawberries and it was perfect. Michael stuck with maple syrup.
     That was yesterday's brunch. But that wasn't the end of the day. We still had to have dinner. It was a doozy of a dinner, too! We decided to go lighter since we had already had an insane amount of french toast, so we went the shrimp and rice route with a side of homemade quick pickles (another batch, made with my mandoline this time!). Remember those? From my second post? My, how time flies.

     The shrimp was kind of insane. Three ingredients: Shrimp, hoisin sauce, sesame seeds. I'm not even going to type out a whole recipe for this. Just stick some peeled and deveined shrimp on some skewers, baste it in hoisin sauce while grilling, and then top with sesame seeds. Kind of stupid easy, and totally stupid delicious.
     Which brings us to today. Another light-ish but super good dinner consisting of garlic bread (the rest of the challah) and Mushroom and Caraway Soup. If you like mushrooms and/or rye bread, you have got to try this soup. It came from Food Network magazine, but I tweaked it a tiny bit, too. I can't help it.

Mushroom and Caraway Soup
You will need:
2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
10 oz sliced mushrooms
Salt and pepper to taste
3 carrots, sliced thinly and chopped into soup-sized bits
4 cups of low-sodium chicken broth
Sour cream for garnish

With which you will:
1. Melt butter over medium-low heat. Add caraway seeds and cook for about a minute, until it starts to smell awesome.
2. Add mushrooms and cook until they wilt a bit, season with salt and pepper.
3. Add carrots and broth, bring to a simmer. Cook for 10-12 minutes until carrots are tender.
4. Ladle it out and garnish with sour cream.

     Food Network mag also adds a garnish of red onion, but I hate raw onion. So it did not even slightly happen. The soup was broth-sippingly delicious, and I will probably make this over and over again.
     That's pretty much it for tonight, but I feel a Cookiesperiment blog coming on Thursday, and I will leave you fine people with this to think about: This chocolate chip cookie is inappropriate. Look at that slut showing off it's redonk chocolate filled interior to God and everyone. For shame, cookie. For shame.

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