Monday, January 21, 2013

Cocoa Mocha Cake

I followed a recipe in an old cookbook, the red and white checked one, you know it. Anyway, it might have been called a fudge cocoa cake or something like that.
I used strong coffee instead of water, and added the zest of one orange, using a microplane. After the layers cooled, I brushed them with kahlua.
It was frosted with an easy butter cream: butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, cocoa, pinch of salt, coffee. Garnished with long strips of orange zest. Served with Breyer's Natural Vanilla ice cream.

Chicken Stock, it's a beautiful thing.

Actually, this is Cornish hen stock. I the backs and wing tips from the Cornish hens I prepped for dinner last night into a small slowcooker. I added carrots, celery, parsley, garlic, a couple of cloves, and peppercorns, and covered with water. I set it on low, and left it overnight. In the morning, i strained it and let it cool a bit before setting in the fridge I'll lift off the accumulated and hardened fat before use. Maybe use it to saute some vegetables.

Wheat Berries

First, I toasted the berries in a dry cast iron pan until fragrant. Then, I soaked them in water for awhile. We went for a walk.
Upon our return, I drained the wheat berries, put them in the rice cooker with chicken stock, a bay leaf, a smashed garlic clove, and a splash of olive oil.
They cooked for a bit, maybe a little longer than brown rice, and I added some water along the way.

Spicy Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp

These were an easy finger food, perfect for a party. They were good with ranch dressing.
I combined equal amounts of sugar and lemon juice, added a bit of oil, and seasoned with paprika, curry powder, ground cumin, ground coriander, pepper, ancho chile powder, onion powder/flakes.
I put the shrimp and the marinade in a plastic bag and let them defrost on the counter (yes, I used a beg of jumbo, cleaned, deveined, shelled, tail-on shrimp.)
Wrap each shrimp in half a bacon slice, secure with pick. Bake in a hot oven until bacon is crispy.

Stuffed Cornish Hens

I love Cornish game hens, but my husband hates dealing with the little bones, too fussy. So, I boned them, except for the leg and wing bone. Once stuffed and roasted, they are easily served and eaten.
I started by boning the hens, retaining the leg bone, and wing bones. I snipped the wing tips, put them in the stock pot. I used poultry shears to cut out the back
I used a knife to scrape the meat off the thigh bones, the rib cage, along the breast bone, and wishbone area. I was careful to not poke through the skin. Every now and then, the use of poultry shears is handy.
It's easier than it looks, really. Once the meat is prepped, one can lay it flat on a grill, or stuff it with whatever and roast: bread, grain, rice, sausage, vegetables, hard boiled eggs, etc.
This stuffing contained: cubed dried out baguette, bacon (cooked), prunes that had soaked overnight in marsala, cooked wheat berries (chicken stock, bay leaf, garlic), finely diced sweet pear, garlic, rosemary, parsley, onion, bit of diced celery.
Stuff, and tie. I think I will get better at tying as I make this more often. I used a bamboo skewer to close up the back.
I browned them in the dutch oven, then added some liquid (stock, marsala).
I put the lid on, roasted it for awhile, glazed it with some plum jam that was melted with rosemary and marsala. The Staub cookware has interior knobs that makes for a nice browned surface, while keeping the lid on.