Creamy Asparagus Soup

Creamy Asparagus Soup, Delicious and Nutritious ~Chef and a Baker
Yes, eating asparagus does make your pee smell.
But once you’re past that, there are plenty of reasons au mangent on this spring superfood.  On our recent trip to France we were able to see many clever uses and variations of asparagus.
It’s also packed with vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber. Thanks to all these nutrients, asparagus offers some serious health perks.
Not to mention it just tastes great in a nice, light and refreshing spring time soup.
Creamy Asparagus Soup
 
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Crème d'asperges (Asparagus soup) tastes great in a nice, light and refreshing spring time soup.
Chef and a Baker:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: French
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds green asparagus
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 to 6 cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup crème fraîche or heavy cream
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
Instructions
  1. Cut tips from 12 asparagus
  2. /2 inches from top and halve tips lengthwise if thick. Reserve for garnish.
  3. Cut stalks and all remaining asparagus into ½-inch pieces.
  4. Cook onion in 2 tablespoons butter in a 4-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Add asparagus pieces and salt and pepper to taste, then cook, stirring, 5 minutes. Add 5 cups broth and simmer, covered, until asparagus is very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. While soup simmers, cook reserved asparagus tips in boiling salted water until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes, then drain.
  6. Purée soup in batches in a blender until smooth, transferring to a bowl (use caution when blending hot liquids), and return to pan. Stir in crème fraîche, then add more broth to thin soup to desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Bring soup to a boil and whisk in remaining tablespoon butter.
  7. Add lemon juice and garnish with asparagus tips
Notes:
Recipe adapted from Epicurious
Creamy asparagus soup keeps, covered and chilled, 2 days. If making ahead, add last tablespoon butter and lemon juice after reheating.

 

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Roasted Garlic Baba Ganoush

Roasted Garlic Baba Ganoush Recipe ~Chef and a Baker
This baba ganoush recipe is a great way to introduce and ultimately make anyone fall in love with Middle Eastern cuisine, even if they’re a little scared of trying something new.
Traditionally it’s just made with eggplant that’s been fire roasted (either on a hot grill or under a broiler) to the point of a nice creamy golden brown, with tahini, lemon juice, garlic and salt.
I like to add another flavor dimension with some roasted garlic, vinegar and serve it as an appetizer with a French baguette that’s been cut into crostinis’ and baked for a nice crispy crunch to highlight the creamy texture of the eggplant.
I’ll also generally serve it cold or at room temperature.
Roasted Garlic Baba Ganoush
 
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This dish is a great way to introduce and ultimately make anyone fall in love with Middle Eastern cuisine, even if they're a little scared of trying something new. Traditionally it’s just made with eggplant that’s been fire roasted (either on a hot grill or under a broiler) to the point of a nice creamy golden brown, with tahini, lemon juice, garlic and salt.
Chef and a Baker:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 3  large and fresh eggplants
  • 1 large head of  garlic, roasted in olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 Tbsp Tahini
  • Fleur de sel to taste
  • 2 Tbsp fresh parsley chopped
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 fresh baguettes
  • 1 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to high broil and position a rack at the top of the oven.
  2. Slice your eggplant into ¼ inch rounds and sprinkle with sea salt and place in a colander in the sink to drain any excess liquid. After 10 minutes, rinse slightly and then pat dry between two towels.
  3. Arrange on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of fleur de sel salt. Roast for 5-10 minutes, turning once or twice, until the eggplant is softened and golden brown. Remove from pan, stack and wrap the rounds in foil to lock in moisture – wait 5 minutes.
  4. Cut baguette into crostinis' and season with the roasted garlic oil and some fleur de sel. Bake in oven until golden brown and a until crunchy.
  5. Peel away most of the skin of the eggplant (a little is OK) and add flesh to a food processor. It should be soft and tender and the skin should come off easy.
  6. Add lemon juice, garlic, tahini, vinegar, a pinch of salt and mix until creamy. Add herbs last and pulse to incorporate. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. I added a bit more tahini, lemon juice and another pinch of salt.
  7. Garnish with fresh parsley, the remaining roasted garlic (minced) and a drizzle of Extra virgin olive oil
  8. Serve with fresh sliced baguette cut on a bias into crostinis' and/or pita chips.
A great idea would be to have a Turkish inspired dinner and to use this baba ganoush recipe as an appetizer, with some fresh toasted and tasty French baguette or pita chips.

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The Best Pizza Dough

Learn How to Make the Best Pizza Dough~Chef and a Baker
I used to be a big believer about the best pizza dough being related to the water that you use. Being from New England originally and then starting my culinary travels eating pizza everywhere from Sicily to the Philippines, I’ve changed my mind somewhat.
(Sorry, New York).
I’ve found that by using warm water and combining two types of flours will give the dough that chewy, toothsome quality that really elevates an ordinary pizza dough.
Semolina flour, a hard durum wheat with a yellow coarseness to it, gives a nice texture to the dough. While the glutenous bread flour not only gives the dough it’s bread-like quality it also helps it to rise.
The Best Pizza Dough
 
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Semolina flour, a hard durum wheat with a yellow coarseness to it, gives a nice texture to the dough. While the glutenous bread flour not only gives the dough it's bread-like quality it also helps it to rise.
Chef and a Baker:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1.5 Cups warm water ( try to get it at 110 F)
  • ¼ ounce yeast packet of active dry yeast
  • 2 Tablespoons of of Olive oil
  • 2½ Cups white bread flour
  • 1 Cup Semolina flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
Instructions
  1. Pour the warm water into a large measuring cup, stir in the yeast and olive oil and let sit for a few minutes or until the mixture begins to bubble. On a clean surface mix together both flours and the salt and form a large well in the middle.
  2. Once the yeast is ready, carefully pour it into the well and using a fork bring the flour into the well  to incorporate it. Continue this process until the center is no longer runny and then bring the rest of the dough together until well incorporated and smooth. You could also use the food processor by combining the wet and dry ingredients together and pulsing until smooth.
  3. Transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl and cover with a warm damp cloth. Place the bowl in a warm room for about an hour and a half, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  4. Remove the the dough from the bowl and place on a flour dusted surface. Knead with with your hands to extract the air and divide into two balls. Roll them out into the recipe of your choice (more to follow)
  5. You can make the pizza dough out a day ahead but make sure you wrap it in plastic and refrigerate it. Then you'll want to roll the dough out just before cooking.

 

 

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Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns Fast and Easy ~ Chef and a Baker
Classic Hot Cross Buns.
The perfect Easter Pastry,  are underrated and good any time of year. These hot cross buns have several dried fruits in them and are flavored with cinnamon, cardamom, and mace mixed in a rich brioche dough which is great for a delicious treat.
Hot Cross Buns
 
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The perfect Easter Pastry,  are underrated and good any time of year. These hot cross buns have several dried fruits in them and are flavored with cinnamon, cardamom, and mace mixed in a rich brioche dough which is great for a delicious treat.
Chef and a Baker:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1⅓ Cup Filtered Water
  • 10 oz Heavy Cream
  • 4 oz Melted Butter
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 ½ Tbs Yeast
  • 2 lb AP Flour
  • 4 oz Brown Sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp Salt
  • 1 ½ tsp Cinnamon
  • ½ tsp Cardamom
  • ½ tsp Mace
  • ½ Cup Dried Apricots, Diced
  • ½ Cup Golden Raisins
  • ½ Cup Dried Cherries
  • ½ Cup Pitted Dates (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a mixer with a dough hook attachment, add water, yeast and stir
  2. Add heavy cream, butter, egg, flour, sugar, salt and spices
  3. Knead about 5 minutes, adding more flour if necessary until dough is smooth, shiny and elastic
  4. Add fruit in last minute.
  5. Put into a container and let rise until doubled in volume
  6. Divide dough into 5 oz portions.
  7. Shape into balls by placing you palm over the piece of dough with your fingers bent and mover your hand in a circular motion until the skin is taught, but not too tight. If necessary flip the ball of dough over and pinch ends on the underside together so it doesn’t open during proofing or baking.
  8. Chill for half an hour.
  9. To Bake:
  10. Place chilled balls onto sheet pan, spacing for baking
  11. Proof until doubled. Egg wash before baking
  12. Bake until light golden color, let cool slightly
  13. Brush with apricot glaze simple icing or a marmalade
  14. When the bun is cooled pipe a cross across the top with cream cheese frosting with a ¼” plain tip

 

 

 

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Lavender Gazpacho

White Gazpacho & Lavender Recipe~Chef and a Baker
Whenever I think of cold soups, I think of gazpacho, the “liquid salad” of Spain.
Not all gazpachos are made with tomatoes. White gazpacho is a classic dish from Spain, earlier versions dating back to when the Moors controlled Andalucia.
This version is made with bread, blanched almonds, red grapes, cucumbers, olive oil, and garlic. Odd combination you might think, but let me assure you, it truly is delicious. The soup gets body and protein from the blanched almonds. The bread acts as a thickener.
Lavender Gazpacho
 
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This gazpacho is made with bread, blanched almonds, red grapes, cucumbers, olive oil, and garlic. Odd combination you might think, but let me assure you, it truly is delicious. The soup gets body and protein from the blanched almonds. The bread acts as a thickener.
Chef and a Baker:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Spanish
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 2 medium garlic cloves
  • 1 English cucumber (halved)
  • 2 cups red grapes
  • 2 slices white bread with crusts removed, cut into 2 inch cubes
  • 2 cups Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup veggie broth
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 cups Spanish Marcona almonds (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne Salt & white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chervil oil
Instructions
  1. Mince the garlic, half of the grapes, the cucumbers and puree in a food processor. Add the bread and then puree again.
  2. Mix the yogurt and veggie stock together in a bowl. Add the pureed cucumber with the olive oil, vinegar, parsley, cayenne, salt and white pepper and ¾ of the almonds.
  3. Mix well until thoroughly combined. Refrigerate until chilled, about 5 hours.
  4. Halve the remaining grapes and toss with the almonds and some salt. Pour gazpacho into soup bowls and garnish with chervil oil, nasturtiums, grapes and chopped almonds.
White Gazpacho~Chef and a Baker
White Gazpacho~Chef and a Baker

 

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Grilled Artichokes with Calabrian chili aioli

Grilled Artichokes with Calabrian Chili Aioli~Chef and a Baker
Grilled artichokes always suprise people with their delicate smoky flavor.  I would say that these artichokes are slightly sweet with an earthy overtone. They love to be paired with bright acids (vinegar or lemon) and when they are grilled the flavor goes into overdrive. I’ve paired these with a Calabrian chili aioli.
Calabrian chile peppers have smoky fruit notes and are considered a medium spicy chile pepper. The small pepper is often referred to as the Hot Calabrian chile pepper, small red cherry, and “Devil’s Kiss,” or as the pepper is known in Italy: Peperone Piccante Calabrese, which translates to ‘spicy pepper of Calabria’. When made into an aioli and used as a dip for the artichoke the added creamy heat makes the artichoke amazing.
Grilled Artichokes with Calabrian chili aioli
 
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Grilled artichokes always suprise people with their delicate smoky flavor.  I would say that these artichokes are slightly sweet with an earthy overtone. They love to be paired with bright acids (vinegar or lemon) and when they are grilled the flavor goes into overdrive
Chef and a Baker:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 3 Large artichokes
  • 2 lemons (quartered)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh Italian parsley (chopped)
  • ½ cup Calabrian chili aioli
Instructions
  1. Using a knife or kitchen shears, cut off the sharp points of the artichoke leaves. Cut the stem about 1 inch from the bottom and pull off the small dry outer leaves from the base of the artichoke.
  2. Soak the trimmed artichokes in cold water for about 20 minutes to clean them. Simmer the artichokes upright with the lemons in a pot for about 30 minutes, do not boil them into mush, we need the artichoke to hold together for grilling.
  3. Remove the artichokes from the pot and cool at room temperature. Cut in half and lengthwise and scoop put the fuzzy choke. Get your grill hot. and brush each side of the artichoke with olive oil and grill for 4 minutes on each side.
  4. Place on a platter and dollop aioli in the center with a squeeze of the remaining lemon juice and sprinkle parsley on top.

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Limoncello Zabaione

Limoncello Zabaione, How to Make a Delicious Dessert~Chef and a Baker
This one is a very quick, easy to make and yet absolutely delicious dessert. All you need is a few ingredients and you’ll be all set.
Limoncello is a lemon liqueur that pairs wonderfully with the Zabaione. The Zabaione (sa-ba-yon) is a light and frothy egg custard. Normally it is served with fresh berries or stone fruit, but with fresh figs coming into season they are the perfect accompaniment for this dessert.

Limoncello Zabaione
 
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This one is a very quick, easy to make and yet absolutely delicious dessert. All you need is a few ingredients and you'll be all set.
Chef and a Baker:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • ½ limoncello
  • 1 tablespoon Crème fraîche
  • 6 fresh figs (quartered)
  • ½ cup toasted hazelnuts
Instructions
  1. Set up a double boiler. In the top bowl combine the egg yolks, sugar, and limoncello. Whisk until well blended.  Gently boil the water in the bottom insert of the double boiler and mix vigorously until it starts to thicken and become foamy. This should take around 5 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat and let cool down to room temperature. Add the Crème fraîche and whisk until the the consistency is thick and custard-like. You should easily be able to coat the back of a spoon.
  3. Place the figs into champagne flutes or your desired vessel and garnish with hazelnuts.

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Salmon Gravlax

Salmon Gravlax~Chef and a Baker
I’ve always been a lover of salmon, a big-time lover of salmon.
I love it pan seared. I love it baked in a light sauce, I love it in fish tacos, I love it smoked, and now I love it when it’s cured to produce Gravlax.
One of Norway’s distinctive dishes, Gravlax literally means “Grave Salmon, ” and it refers to the medieval practice of curing the raw fish by burying it in the sand above the high tide level. Today Salmon Gravlax is raw salmon, cured in salt, sugar, and dill, usually served as an appetizer, sliced thinly and accompanied by hovmästarsås, a dill and mustard sauce, either on bread, or with boiled potatoes.
Salmon Gravlax
 
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One of Norway's distinctive dishes, Gravlax literally means "Grave Salmon, " and it refers to the medieval practice of curing the raw fish by burying it in the sand above the high tide level.
Chef and a Baker:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Norwegian
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • One 2-pound salmon fillet, skin-off
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 red onion, cut juilienne
  • Cheesecloth
  • Gravlax Sauce:
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup vegetable oil or mild olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped dill
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 2 cucumbers sliced thin
  • 2 lemons cut into wedges
Instructions
  1. Prepare the salmon: Trim the salmon. Remove all bones with tweezers.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the salt, sugar and pepper.
  3. Place half of the curing mixture in the bottom of a 9x12-inch pan, then place the cheesecloth on top of the curing mix.
  4. Place the salmon fillet in the cheesecloth and then cover it completely with the cheesecloth.
  5. Place the remaining mixture on top of the cheesecloth and press it lightly covering all of the cheesecloth and salmon.
  6. Place it in the refrigerator overnight.
  7. On the next day,take the salmon out of the cheesecloth. Move to a cutting board and use a sharp knife to cut into very thin slices.
  8. Prepare the sauce: In a medium bowl, stir egg yolks with the salt until it reaches a thick consistency. Slowly pour in the oil while whisking quickly until the sauce is a consistency similar to mayonnaise (you may need to use a blender or an immersion blender to help this process along). Stir the sugar, vinegar, pepper and mustard into the sauce. Just before serving, add the dill.
  9. Finish with capers, fresh lemon and cucumber.

 

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Yuzu~Citrus Marinated Wild Alaskan Halibut

Yuzu~Citrus Marinated Wild Alaskan Halibut~Chef and a Baker
Late March and fresh halibut is in season and plentiful.
This dish is a yuzu~citrus marinated seared halibut filet. It has a wild rice pilaf, butter basted, grilled Napa cabbage and a ginger mango gastrique.
 The yuzu [YOO-zoo] is a Japanese citrus fruit which is about the size of a tangerine and is quite sour. Yuzu is the most popular of all citrus fruits in Japan and is found fresh in Japan throughout the spring months.
Yuzu~Citrus Marinated Wild Alaskan Halibut
 
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This dish is a yuzu~citrus marinated seared halibut filet.It has a wild rice pilaf, butter basted, grilled Napa cabbage and a ginger mango gastrique.
Chef and a Baker:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • Fresh Halibut filet 5-7 ounces
  • 2 Cups Wild rice
  • 1 Napa Cabbage, cored, quartered and outer layers removed
  • Yuzu Marinade:
  • ½ Cup Yuzu juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Gastrique:
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped mango
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Grand Mariner
Instructions
  1. Roll Halibut in the yuzu marinade, season liberally with salt and pepper and hard sear halibut filet.
  2. Steam cabbage for a few minutes until pliable, brush with brown butter and season with S&P.
  3. Put on grill and get a colorful char.
  4. Make wild rice in rice cooker, when completed mix rice vinegar and scallions into rice.
  5. Make gastrique by combining all ingredients into pot, reduce and intensify flavor, when you've reached your desired flavor, slurry the gastrique until a thick consistency.

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Brined Corned Beef and Cabbage

Easy Corned Beef and Cabbage~Chef and a Baker
It’s time for the St. Paddies day celebration and feast to begin.
This is a twist on a traditional corned beef and cabbage. The pickling brine gives the corned beef an added layer of flavor, and when you roast the veggies and corned beef together this brings the entire dish to life.
Brined Corned Beef and Cabbage
 
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This is a twist on a traditional corned beef and cabbage. The pickling brine gives the corned beef an added layer of flavor, and when you roast the veggies and corned beef together this brings the entire dish to life.
Chef and a Baker:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 3 pounds corned beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1½ cups water
  • 14 oz chicken stock
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 1 head cabbage, broken apart
  • 2 cups Orchard Sauerkraut
  • Hot pickle brine:
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
Instructions
  1. Bring vinegar, sugar, salt, peppercorns, mustard seeds, and 2 cups water to a boil in a medium pot over high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and bring to room temperature.
  2. Rinse the corned beef and cut off excess fat, place in brine for 5 hours.
  3. Add water, chicken stock, carrots, onion and cabbage, bring to a boil and then shock in cold water.
  4. Add vegetables, corned beef and broth into a baking pan, cover with aluminum foil and cook corned beef and vegetables at 275 degrees until meat is tender and veggies are nice and roasted.
And that’s it, super easy and incredibly delicious. This pairs really well with a Guinness stout and some Irish soda bread.

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