Friday, June 29, 2012

Banana, Coconut and Ricotta Pancakes with Ginger Syrup

I teased you yesterday with the recipe for ginger syrup, telling you that one of its delicious uses would be posted today.  Now, remember the luscious cocktail that was served in the coconut half that I showed you here?  Obviously, there was another half to that coconut, one with three holes in it for draining the water, but one that also had wonderfully fresh, moist coconut meat.  It was that meat, freshly grated in the food processor, that sent me on my quest for a breakfast recipe in which I could put it to good use.  Thanks to, I found a decadently delicious recipe that is full of complex tastes and will make you feel that you’re breakfasting on a tropical isle.  The beauty of this recipe is that it, like the ginger syrup, can be made ahead, so you won’t have to labor in the morning to put a fantastic meal on the table.  I used a Cuisinart Griddler to make my pancakes, so there was no need for the butter as mentioned in the recipe.  Also, as I'm not keen on pineapple other than eaten alone, I eliminated it as a topping ingredient.  Personally, I don’t think the pineapple has a place here at all as it would have clashed rather badly, I think, with the ginger.

Banana, Coconut and Ricotta Pancakes with Ginger Syrup

4 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup whole milk
2/3 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese (about 6 ounces)
2/3 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon (generous) salt
1 1/3 cups finely grated fresh coconut (about 4 ounces)
6 teaspoons (or more) butter
3 bananas, peeled, sliced on diagonal
1/2 pineapple, peeled, cored, thinly sliced, cut into triangles

 Whisk egg yolks, milk, ricotta, flour, sugar, baking powder, vanilla, and salt in large bowl. Stir in coconut. DO AHEAD Can be made 12 hours ahead. Cover and chill.

Beat egg whites in another large bowl until stiff. Gently fold into ricotta mixture.

Melt 1 teaspoon butter on griddle or in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, drop batter onto griddle by 1/4 cupfuls. Cook until bubbles form on pancakes, about 2 minutes. Flip pancakes; cook 2 minutes longer, adding butter to griddle by teaspoonfuls between batches. Arrange 3 to 4 pancakes on each plate. garnish with sliced fruit; pour warm ginger syrup over.

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ginger Syrup

As I stare at the above photo I’m struck by how much it looks like a specimen from one of those forensic crime shows.  It’s not.  It is a beautiful, delicious, rather healthy (ginger is, after, all one of the super foods), syrup that has a wickedly peppery kick.

After candying much of the ginger that I had on hand (you can read about that here), I decided to use the rest to make syrup.  You must try this!  I cannot recommend it enough.  It adds the BEST sweet punch to iced tea, is a rather exotic addition to homemade lemonade, can be cooked down and thickened up to use in the same way in which you would use honey (I recommend biscuits), it can be made ahead, and it also makes one heck of a breakfast topping.  With that, I’ll say no more, you’re just going to have to check back tomorrow to see the magnificent morning meal that I prepared and enjoyed beneath the swaying palm tree on the back deck.

Meanwhile, grab yourself some ginger, take ten minutes of your time, and make this syrup.  See you tomorrow!

Ginger Syrup

3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
2 1/2 tablespoons matchstick-size strips peeled Melissa's fresh ginger root (about 1 ounce)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel

Combine all ingredients in small saucepan; stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Boil until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 5 minutes. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 weeks ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm before serving.

To read more about this tasty and versatile spice, I recommend this book:

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Picnic Game

Louise over at Months of Edible Celebrations  is hosting the Picnic Game again this year and I’m joining in.  I’m going to a picnic and I’m bringing:

Frosty Summer Salad with Cranberry, 
Pineapple & Beet

1 16-ounce can jellied cranberry sauce
1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup heavy cream
1 3-ounce package Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup mayonnaise
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup pecans, chopped
each sliced into four ½” circles
Leaf lettuce

Put cranberry sauce into a medium bowl and crush with a fork.  Stir in pineapple and lemon juice; mix thoroughly, set aside.  Whip cream until stiff; blend in cream cheese, mayonnaise, sugar and nuts.  Beginning with cranberry mixture, alternate layers of cranberry and cream mixtures in 8 5-ounce paper cups (I used Dixie bathroom cups). Place cups into a 9 x 9 pan and place in freezer, freezing until firm. 

When ready to serve, place a cleaned leaf of lettuce on each serving plate.  Using a 2 biscuit cutter, cut a circle out of each beet slice, and place on lettuce leaf.  Remove frozen salad from the freezer and peel away paper cups.  Invert on top of beet slice, pressing down lightly.  Garnish with a spritz of light cream and a sprig of mint.  Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes before serving.  Yields: 8

Brown Sugar Meatloaf

 You don’t have to be a daily reader of this blog (although I’d love to have you!) to know that I love meatloaf.  They are always easy to assemble, are generally made from simple ingredients that we all have on hand, they are routinely very tasty and satisfying, and the leftovers (if you’re lucky enough to have them), make for a delicious lunch the following day.  Lover of this king of comfort foods that I am, I am always on the lookout for new recipes -- newand unique.  This one grabbed my attention because its base is a layer of brown sugar.  My fear was that this would be sickeningly sweet, but offset by the ketchup, the topping was the perfect combination of the sweetness of the sugar and tang of the tomato ketchup.

Brown Sugar Meatloaf

1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup ketchup
1 1/2 lbs. ground chuck
3/4 cup whole milk
1 extra large egg
1 1/4 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup Italian bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Lightly grease a 5x9 inch loaf pan.  Press the brown sugar in the bottom of the prepared loaf pan and spread the ketchup over the sugar.  In a mixing bowl, mix thoroughly all remaining ingredients and shape into a loaf.  Place on top of the ketchup.  Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour or until juices are clear.

If you love meatloaf as I do, treat yourself to this delightful little book.  It’s only 99 cents!

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Avocado Gelato

We all know that it’s a good health practice to consume 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.  This is not always easy, but what if I told you that one of these servings could be had in the form of dessert?  A creamy and delicious frozen dessert, namely gelato!  Hard to believe?  Maybe, but it’s true.  I was a bit skeptical myself, but when I found I had a few extra avocados left after making a big batch of guacamole, I figured, why not give it a try?  Having made a variety of flavors of gelato in the past (I ran rampant after returning from a trip to Italy), I was expecting a lot of egg separating and a half an hour of bicep-building stirring.  This recipe requires neither.  Cornstarch thickens the mixture beautifully, and the rich and creamy, buttery smoothness of the avocado replaces the eggs and cream.  The end result is nothing short of amazing!  The taste is fresh, clean, and lightly citrus-y, the texture is as creamy as the finest gelato I’ve ever eaten.  This is one vegetable that your family is really going to enjoy!

Avocado Gelato

2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
3 (4- by 1-inch) strips fresh orange zest
Pinch of Kosher salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons key lime juice
1 teaspoon key lime zest

Bring 1 3/4 cups milk, 1/2 cup sugar, orange zest, and a pinch of salt to a simmer in a heavy 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Whisk together cornstarch and remaining 1/4 cup milk in a small bowl until smooth, then whisk into the simmering milk mixture. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, and boil for 1-2 minutes, until thickened. Transfer mixture to a metal bowl, then set bowl in a larger bowl of ice and cold water and cool completely, stirring frequently. Discard zest.

Quarter, pit, and peel avocados, then purée with key lime juice and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a food processor until smooth. Add milk mixture and blend well.  Stir in lime zest.

Freeze avocado mixture in ice cream maker. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until hardened, about 1 hour.

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Key Lime Parfaits

Remember all of those key limes that I juiced and zested here?  They came in very handy when I needed a quick, delicious, and seasonal dessert for a summer lunch. It’s times like these when I’m grateful for my husband’s hoarding habits, particularly when it comes to issues of Gourmet Magazine and Bon Appétit.  This recipe hails from the latter and dates back to 1999.  Lime and citrus lovers will go crazy!

Key Lime Parfaits

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon grated lime peel
1 cup chilled whipping cream

Melt butter in heavy small skillet over medium heat. Mix in sugar and stir until bubbling, about 1 minute. Mix in crumbs; stir until color deepens, about 3 minutes. Turn out onto plate and cool.

Stir condensed milk, lime juice and lime peel in large bowl to blend (mixture will thicken). Using electric mixer, beat cream in medium bowl until firm peaks form; fold into lime mixture.

Place 1/4 cup lime mousse in each of six 8- to 10-ounce wine goblets. Top each with 1 tablespoon crumb mixture, then 1/4 cup mousse. Top parfaits with remaining crumb mixture. Refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.

NOTE:  I drizzled mine with blackberry syrup and garnished with a spritz of whipped cream, slice of lime, and lime zest.

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bleeding Deacon Meatloaf

I've said it before, I'll say it again: I love meatloaf. It's surprising, actually, for someone who was raised on those insipid, rectangular, tomato paste-topped horrors (my mother was -- still is -- a great cook, but meatloaf was not her forte), and once dubbed it MeatLOAD because of the weightiness of the dish.  But meatloaf has come a long way since the seventies.  Some productions, I dare say, are good enough to serve to company.  This recipe is one of them, I can personally attest, having served it to rave reviews at a luncheon last week.  It’s the product of a now defunct St. Louis pub, The Bleeding Deacon Public House, and a specially requested recipe that was published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Bleeding Deacon Meatloaf

1/4 cup rendered bacon fat
1 onion, chopped fine
1 carrot, chopped fine
2 ribs celery, chopped fine
2 tablespoons dried thyme
1 tablespoon ground red (cayenne) pepper (I used 1/2 tsp.)
4 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons Worcestershire
2 tablespoons sriracha sauce (see notes)
3/4 cup bread crumbs (see notes)
2 1/2 pounds ground beef (80 percent fat)
3 eggs, whisked to blend
Bourbon ketchup (see note)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Butter a 9-by-9 baking pan or a 9-inch pie plate. Line with parchment paper; butter the parchment.
In a large skillet, heat bacon fat until shimmery. Stir in onion, carrot and celery; sauté until vegetables are well-cooked and the fat has been fully absorbed. Add thyme, cayenne, salt, black pepper, cream, ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire and sriracha; simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in bread crumbs. Let cool completely.

With your hands, break up ground beef into small pieces, then work in eggs and vegetable mixture. Do not overmix. Pack mixture into pan and press to remove air pockets.

Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes or until top is crispy brown.
Let cool slightly, then cut into serving pieces. Serve meatloaf drizzled with bourbon ketchup.

Sriracha (pronounced SIR-rotch-ah) is sometimes called "rooster hot sauce" for the rooster on the label of the brand most available in the United States, Huy Fong. It packs plenty of heat; use less (or none at all) for a less-spicy meatloaf.

For bread crumbs, bake four or five thin slices of French bread in a 300-degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes, then break into small pieces with your hands.

To make bourbon ketchup, stir together 1 cup ketchup and 1 tablespoon bourbon.
Recipe may be doubled; bake in an 11-by-7-inch baking dish.

Recipe adapted for home kitchens by the Post-Dispatch

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