Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream

1 pint frozen whole, hulled strawberries
1/4 c sugar
zest of one lime
2c cake flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t kosher salt
1 stick butter (room temperature)
1 c sugar
3 eggs
1 t vanilla extract
3/4 c buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare 18-20 muffin tins lined with cupcake papers (yield is dependent upon the amount you put in each cup).

Place the strawberries, 1/4c sugar, and lime zest in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook until the sugar is dissolved, the mixture is somewhat soupy, and you can break the strawberries into pieces with a spoon. Pour the mixture into a food processor and pulse until the consistency is mostly smooth but with many small lumps of strawberry floating around. The mixture should still be cool or room temperature. If it's not, put it in the freezer until it cools down some.

Meanwhile, measure the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a small bowl.

Beat the butter and sugar in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time until smooth. Add vanilla.

Slowly add buttermilk and flour in alternating thirds until incorporated.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and swirl in the strawberry mixture with a spoon. Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, around 18 minutes.

While the cupcakes are baking, make the frosting.

3T strawberry jelly
2 drops red food coloring
1 box powdered sugar
1 stick salted butter (room temperature)
1/4 c milk
1 t vanilla

Put ingredients in the clean bowl of a stand mixer and mix on low until smooth, scraping down the sides frequently.

Garnish the cupcakes at the last moment with halved fresh strawberries (Note: if you leave the strawberries on the cupcakes for any longer than an hour or two, the sugar in the frosting will begin to macerate the strawberries and your cupcakes will get wet from all the strawberry juice!)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Homard a l'Amoricaine

This recipe came to me from Chef Herve during French Regional Cooking class during my time at the California Culinary Academy in 1994 (I graduated in '95). This is one of my all-time favorite recipes, though it may be a little advanced for some.

4# Live Main Lobster
3/4 c olive oil
2 c onion finely chopped
1 c carrot, finely chopped
1c leek, white part only, finely chopped
1/2 c celery, finely chopped
1/3 c shallot, finely chopped
1/3 c garlic, finely chopped
3/4 c brandy
1 c white wine
2 c tomato concasse
3/4 cup tomato puree
1 c demi glace (if you don't have this at home, just don't add.)
1 c white stock
1 c heavy cream
2 T chopped parsley
2 T chopped tarragon
pinch cayenne
salt and pepper

Kill lobster by cutting them in half and then into four pieces. Throw away the tip of the claw and the pincher of the claw. The tails and pinchr pieces are good to eat. The rest becomes the sauce. Set aside the tommaly in a bowl.

Saute the mirepoix. Add shallots, garlic, parsley, tarragon, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Add lobster and flambe with the brandy. Add white wine and reduce by 80%. Add tomato concassee and tomato puree. Add lobster juice (lobster blood and sea water). Add white stock, demi (if using), and cream. Cover and let simmer 10 minutes. Remove meat from sauce (tail and claws) and set aside. Puree the rest with a bazooka (huge immersion blender). Strain sauce, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and finish with tomally and butter (50% tomally, 50% butter). Once tomally has been added, do not boil b/c the sauce will break. Strain again and finish with parsley, cayenne, and tarragon.

Pour sauce over meat and serve.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Smart Things Other Folks Have Said About Food

Shipping is a terrible thing to do to vegetables. They probably get jet-lagged, just like people.
~Elizabeth Berry

There is no love sincerer than the love of food.
~George Bernard Shaw

He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise.
~Henry David Thoreau

Did you ever stop to taste a carrot? Not just eat it, but taste it? You can't taste the beauty and energy of the earth in a Twinkie.
~Astrid Alauda

After dinner sit a while, and after supper walk a mile.
~English Saying

Training is everything. The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.
~Mark Twain

There is nothing better on a cold wintry day than a properly made pot pie.
~Craig Claiborne

Find something you're passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.
~Julia Child

"You find yourself refreshed by the presence of cheerful people. Why not make an honest effort to confer that pleasure on others? Half the battle is gained if you never allow yourself to say anything gloomy."
~Julia Child
(OK, so this is not really about food. But it's *Julia* and we *love* her.)

Fervet olla, vivit amicitia: While the pot boils, friendship endures. (Meaning the man who gives good dinners has plenty of friends).
~Latin Proverb