Monday, April 19, 2010

Herbs, Hens, and Potatoes...Purple Ones

Purple Potatoes! ...Isn't it fantastic?! I was completely fascinated when I came across these Peruvian beauties. These little purple nuggets are regarded by many chefs and know as the "Gem of the Andes" (because they are found in the South American Andes' highlands).

These potatoes have a wonderful mild, smooth texture. So, I decided to roast them and pair them with my favorite Cornish hen recipe...Honey-Herbed Cornish Hens. I found this Cornish hen recipe about 3 - 4 years ago while I was flipping through a Family Circle magazine. This recipe is so delicious. I added it to my repertoire and it has been a family favorite ever since.

Roasted Peruvian and New Potatoes
Serves: 6 - 8

2 1/2 pounds Peruvian Potatoes, scrubbed clean and quartered
1 pound New Potatoes, scrubbed clean and quartered
3 tablespoons Olive Oil
3 cloves Garlic, minced
3 teaspoons Thyme, roughly chopped
3 teaspoons Rosemary, roughly chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat oven to 400°F.

Toss the potatoes with olive oil, garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. In a single layer, arrange the potatoes on a baking sheet or roasting pan. Cook turning occasionally for 25 - 30 minutes or until browned and tender.

Honey-Herbed Cornish Hens
Serves: 8

4 (6 pounds total) Cornish Game Hens, rinsed and patted dry
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice
2 tablespoons Honey
2 teaspoons Fresh Thyme, chopped
2 teaspoons Fresh Oregano, chopped
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon Fresh Black Pepper
Using kitchen shears or a sharp chef knife (I find it easier using kitchen shears), cut out the backbone of each hen, and split through each breastbone. Trim any excess fat and skin.

Brush oil onto large shallow pan (15 x 10 x 1 -inch) and place in oven. Heat oven to 400°F.

In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, honey, thyme and oregano. Season game hen halves with salt and pepper. Once pan has heated, carefully remove from the oven. Place hens, skin side down, into the pan. Brush with half of the honey mixture.

Bake at 400°F for 30 minutes. Remove pan from oven and turn over hens. Brush with remaining honey mixture. Return to oven and bake an additional 20 to 30 minutes or until internal temperature of meat registers 180°F on an instant-read thermometer.

Drain pan drippings into a fat separator, or skim off as much fat as possible. Pour into a gravy boat and serve alongside hens, if you like.

Transfer to platter and serve with roasted herbed potatoes.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Red Celery

Spring is here! My husband's favorite time of year because he gets to eat rhubarb. Or as my brother would say, "the red celery" (which he dislikes both). This crimson red veggie has a tart-sweet flavor. It's just delicious in sauces, jams, crumble, cobblers, and pie. Pie...oh, yummy pie.

Pie Crust
Yields: two 9 -inch pie crust

2 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 cups (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 tablespoon Sugar
1/4 - 1/2 cup Ice Water

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter and process until the mixer resembles corn meal, about 8 - 10 seconds.

With the machine running, add the ice water in a slow, steady stream through the feed tube. Pulse until the dough holds together without being too wet. You might not have to use all of the ice water. To test, squeeze a small amount together. It should hold kind of like clay or putty, it should not feel sticky or crumbly.

Divide the dough into two equal parts. Flatten each into a disc and wrap in plastic. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Roll the dough into 1/8 -inch thick. Line the pie plate with pastry. Allow the pie shell sit in the refrigerator while preparing the filling.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie
Yields: one 9 -inch pie

4 cups Fresh Rhubarb, washed and sliced into 1/2 -inch thick
2 cups Fresh Strawberries, trimmed and quartered
3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
4 teaspoons Cornstarch
1 tablespoon Milk
1 - 2 teaspoons Sugar in the Raw

Heat oven to 400F.

In a large bowl, toss the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, and cornstarch. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes. Pour the mixture into crust-lined pie. Make sure to level the filling slightly.

Roll out the second pie disc to 1/8 -inch thick. Using a knife or pizza cutter (I used a pastry wheel), cut the dough into 1 -inch strips. Interweave into a lattice pattern. Crimp the strips and edges of the pie to seal.

Bake at 400F for 45 minutes, covering the edge of pie with foil if browning too quickly. Pull the pie out of the over and brush the crust with milk, then sprinkle with sugar in the raw. Return to the oven and bake for another 2 - 5 minutes, until desired color and sugar glazing.

Allow to cool completely. You can serve this pie the same day. I usually make this pie the day before and refrigerate overnight. I think the flavors come together nicely if it sits overnight, but thanks to my husband; it rarely happens. Oh, did I mention that he "loves" rhubarb.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Passion Fruit Pavlova and Peeps

It's Monday, and I'm feeling a little like a fluffy peep. I think I ate way too many peeps. I ate purples ones, blue ones, and pink ones. If there's one thing I love (besides my family); I love gooey marshmallows and Pavlova is the next best thing.

Pavlova is a wonderful experience that you must try. It has a light, delicate crisp shell with a soft sweet marshmallow center (it's like biting into a light, fluffy cloud). Then to top this dessert with softly whipped cream and fresh fruit...just divine.

Passion Fruit Pavlova
Yields: 6 small pavlovas

2 Egg Whites
1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 teaspoon White Wine Vinegar
3/4 teaspoon Cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Place egg whites in a bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment. Whisk until the whites start to form soft peaks. Slowly start to sprinkle in the sugar and continue to whisk until shiny and stiff peaks start to form. Gently fold in cornstarch, vinegar, and vanilla extract with a rubber spatula.

Gently make six mounds on a sheet pan lined with parchment. Bake at 250F for 45 minutes to 1 hour. The outside should be dry and pale in color. Turn the oven off and allow the Pavlovas to cool in the oven with the door ajar. As they cool, you will see some cracking, but don't worry. They will be soft, airy, and marshmallow-y on the inside.

1/2 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1 tablespoon Granulated Sugar
3 Passion Fruit

Place heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment. Whisk until soft peaks form. Sweeten with sugar and spoon a small amount of cream over each Pavlova.

Cut each passion fruit in half. Spoon out the pulp and seeds of each half over the cream and Pavlova. Garnish with mint or even a peep.

* The tartness of the Passion Fruit is the perfect balance to the sweetness of the Pavlova. You can also use kiwis, berries, or any fruits you desire. Enjoy.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter, Passion Fruit and Peeps

Nothing brings me back to childhood like Peeps. This gooey marshmallow-y goodness coated in colored sugar is just delicious. This year, I restrained from eating a whole box and decided to use them as garnish to my Passion Fruit Pavlova.

I will update with pictures and recipe on Monday. I wanted to wish everyone a Happy Easter.

By the way, Easter isn't Easter without Peeps. =)

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