Thursday, March 19, 2015

“French Onion Soup” Tarte Flambée Pizza with Homemade “French Onion Soup” Onion Marmalade, Roasted Garlic Crème Fraiche, + Bacon

We have been on a French Onion Soup kick lately... we recently made a bacon infused recipe and also a casserole... and now a PIZZA! The idea quite frankly translates perfectly. The pizza dough mimics the crusty bread plopped on top of the soup, then there's that melt-y cheese you can't get enough of, and ohhhhh those caramelized onions. It all works, y'all. But my delicious twist on this dish is the "French Onion Soup" Onion Marmalade. This stuff is so gosh-damn-amazing, you'll be sneaking spoonfuls into your mouth as it is cooling (take my word for it). Not only is it caramelized onions, but it is reduced down with beef stock, red wine, cognac, sugar, white balsamic reduction, herbs, and butter. This marmalade is sticky, gooey, and utterly concentrated with French Onion Soup flavor! Another different direction I went in was making a "Tarte Flambée" style pizza. This uses a key ingredient of creme fraiche as the base of the pizza. I boosted the flavor with roasted garlic, minced garlic, and freshly grated nutmeg. It gives this pie a luscious cream that oozes out with each bite into that chewy crust and it cannot be beat! On top goes a whole mound of mozzarella, gruyere, and parmesan cheese and slices of extra crispy pieces of bacon. What gets better than that? All you have to do is finish it with some fleur de sel, fresh cracked pepper, red pepper flakes, and minced fresh herbs. This pizza is addictive, I kept wanting more + more every bite I took. It was astounding to me, how could something taste this good. Every culinary level is reached, hell, pizza greatness was reached. I can't say it more, but I'd take this pizza over French Onion Soup any day!! Enjoy :)

For the “French Onion Soup” Onion Marmalade:
3 Yellow Onions, Thinly Sliced
Kosher Salt
¼C Unsalted Butter
¾C Beef Stock + Splash of Red Wine
2-3T White Balsamic Reduction
1C Sugar
1T Cognac
2 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme + 2 Dried Bay Leaves
Kosher Salt + Fresh Cracked Pepper, To Taste 

For the Roasted Garlic Crème Fraiche:
8oz Crème Fraiche
1 Head of Roasted Garlic
¼t Freshly Grated Nutmeg
Kosher Salt + Fresh Cracked Pepper, To Taste
1 Garlic Clove, Minced

For the “French Onion Soup” Tarte Flambé Pizza:
1 Batch of Pizza Dough
Prepared Roasted Garlic Crème Fraiche
Prepared “French Onion Soup” Onion Marmalade, Cooled
8-10 Slices of Applewood Smoked Bacon, Cooked until Crispy + Cut into 1-2inch Pieces
½C Shredded Mozzarella + ½C Shredded Gruyere
Freshly Grated Parmesan
½t Fresh Thyme + Dried Red Pepper Flakes
Fleur de Sel + Fresh Cracked Pepper, For Sprinkling

1. For the “French Onion Soup” Onion Marmalade: In a large pot, heat the butter until shimmering. Add the onions (and a heavy pinch of a salt) and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add in the herbs and cook over low heat, stirring a few times until fragrant, about 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle the sugar over the onions and cook, without stirring, until the sugar melts, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to high and cook until an amber brown caramel forms, about 5-6 minutes. Stir in the beef stock, red wine, cognac, and white balsamic vinegar reduction. Cook and stir until the jam is thick about 10-15 minutes. Discard the herbs and season the jam with salt and pepper until you have reached your desired taste. Let it cool completely.
2. For the Roasted Garlic Crème Fraiche: Combine the Crème Fraiche, mashed roasted garlic, grated nutmeg, minced garlic, salt and pepper. Set it aside.
3. Preheat your oven to 550 degrees and place your pizza stone inside and allow it to heat in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour.
4. For the French Onion Soup Pizza: Create a 12inch round of dough on a semolina dusted pizza peel and spread the roasted garlic crème fraiche over the top. Lay a thick layer of the onion marmalade on top, followed by scattering the mozzarella and Gruyere cheeses. Put a little more marmalade and then place the pieces of bacon next. Grate the Parmesan all over the surface of the pizza and garnish the top with fresh thyme and a sprinkle of salt & pepper. Slide the pizza onto the pizza stone and bake for 12-15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese has melted and begun to caramelize. Remove from the oven and cut into slices, and serve immediately! 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Spicy Mexican Chocolate Silk Pie with Vanilla Bean Pâte Brisée , Salty Cajeta + Cajeta Infused Whipped Cream

Although it’s St. Patrick’s Day… I’m going way out-of-bounds and heading to a completely different area of the world… Mexico. Well, and America, too. Who doesn’t love chocolate? Everyone does. And chocolate pie, well it takes the cake (or pie) for me. This is a traditional recipe turned up a notch by taking Chocolate Silk Pie and making it spicy. It might sound crazy and a little insane, but bare with me a little bit as I explain it. I don’t know if y’all have been to (or heard of) Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, but we sure have. She recently opened up a shop in Atlanta and we nearly go every week. Our favorite flavors are her salty caramel, queen city cayenne, and the buckeye state. So, I took inspiration from two of those to make a pie. Chocolate Silk Pie is great on its’ own, don’t get me wrong. It’s luscious, smooth, and so-wrong-its-right in every kinda way. But why not make it spicy? You truly haven’t lived if you haven’t experienced Mexican chocolate or any spiced chocolate for that matter. So instead of using unsweetened chocolate, I bought some Taza Spicy Mexican Chocolate Discs and added some spices into the pie filling. It warms you deep into your bones and your soul, and well heats your mouth up a bit, but we like that, a lot. The whole thing is put into a pre-baked pie crust, I use my own recipe, but you could easily just do a store-bought crust to save time and effort. But the secret ingredient to this blissful pie is the Cajeta component. Cajeta is a thick Mexican caramel made with goat’s milk, very similar to a can of caramelized, sweetened condensed milk. But wayyyyyy better. We found our Cajeta at Whole Foods; however, you surely can make your own at home. We spread the Cajeta into the bottom of the pre-baked pie crust, so that there was a luscious layer of caramel with every bite. And shhh, we sprinkled a tad bit of sea salt on top to make it a salty Cajeta (and it was so yummy). Then we took it another step forward and infused our whipped cream topping with more Cajeta because, well, why the hell not? It’s practically a Cajeta party, YAY. The pie is finished with just some more of that fabulous spicy chocolate grated over the top. And you, my friend, will be in paradise along with us. You won’t regret making this pie, y’all, you just won’t!! Enjoy :)

For the Vanilla Bean Pâte Brisée:
3 ¾C AP Flour (plus extra for rolling)
3 Sticks of butter, Cut into ½inch Cubes & Chilled
1 ½t Salt
1T + 1 ½t Sugar
12-18T Ice Water, Very Cold
3 Vanilla Beans, Sliced & Scraped for Beans
For the Cajeta-Infused Whipped Cream:
2C Heavy Cream
¼C Sugar
½C Cajeta (we purchased some at whole foods)
Pinch of Salt (or to taste)
1t Vanilla

For the Mexican Chocolate Silk Pie:
4oz Spicy Mexican Chocolate, Chopped (we used Taza Chocolate Discs)
1C Salted Butter, Softened
1 ½C Sugar
½t Chili Powder, Cinnamon & Paprika (and a pinch of a cayenne)
4 Whole Eggs
½C Cajeta (to spread in the base of the pie shell)
Pre-Baked Vanilla Bean Pâte Brisée, Cooled

1. For the Vanilla Bean Pâte Brisée: Start by cutting the sticks of butter into ½inch cubes and placing in the freezer bag, along with the flour, salt, and sugar. Place the bag of flour into the freezer and chill for at least 1-2 hours. In a food processor, pour the frozen flour bag in, as well as the scraped vanilla beans, and pulse 6-8 times until the mixture resembles a course meal, with pea size pieces of butter. Add water 1T at a time, pulsing until the mixture just begins to clump together. If you pinch of some of the crumbly dough and it holds together then it’s ready. Remove the dough from the machine and place on a clean surface. Carefully split the dough into three equal pieces and shape into discs (save the other two rounds of pie dough in plastic wrap and freeze them for a rainy day). Do not over knead the dough. You should still be able to see little bits of butter in the dough. Sprinkle the discs with a little flour on all sides and wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least an hour. Remove one of the discs from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. Sprinkle some flour on top of the disk. Roll out with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface to a 12inch circle (1/8inch thick). Place the rolled out disc on to a pie dish, lining up the fold with the center of the pan, trimming the excess. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 30 minutes.
2. For the Cajeta-Infused Whipped Cream: The night before you make the pie, heat a small pot over medium-low heat. Add in the heavy cream, sugar, cajeta, & a pinch of salt to taste and whisk constantly until the cajeta has dissolved into the cream and has become smooth (it should be a light khaki color). Remove the heat from the pan and add vanilla extract. Pour cajeta-infused cream into and container and let it chill overnight. Firstly, make sure the cream is thoroughly chilled. Add it into the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, and whip on high-speed until a fluffy, yet thick whipped cream. Season it with some sugar, vanilla extract, and salt if needed (really it’s up to your tastes).
3.  For the Mexican Chocolate Silk Pie: In small microwave safe bowl melt 4 ounces of the Mexican spicy chocolate until you can stir it (about 45 seconds on high). Set aside to cool. In a large bowl with an electric mixer beat 1 cup (2 sticks) of regular (salted) butter, spices, and 1½C of white sugar until fluffy (about 1 to 2 minutes). When melted chocolate is cooled, drizzle it over the butter/sugar mixture. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Beat the mixture thoroughly until combined (on a Kitchen Aid mixer, you will be using the whisk attachment). Turn your mixer to a medium speed and over a period of 15 to 20 minutes add in the four eggs, one at a time, leaving about 5 minutes between each egg addition. Prepare your pie by spreading some of the Cajeta into the base of the pie shell, so that you will have a nice, thick layer of Cajeta when you slice & bite into a slice (and sprinkle a little fleur de sel on top). Once the pie filling is well mixed, pour it into the baked & Cajeta-filled pie shell, scraping every last speck of it out of the bowl. Smooth out the pie filling and place pie in the refrigerator to chill for at least two hours (preferably longer). Plop a heaping mound of Cajeta-infused whipped cream on top of the pie, smoothing it out so it completely covers the chocolate.
4.  Serving the Pie: Cut a slice of the pie and grate some more Mexican spicy chocolate on top and enjoy! 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

#instagrub: Springtime Carbonara with Asparagus, Sweet Peas, Brown Buttered Leeks, + Goat Cheese

As far as I can remember, I have never been a "pasta person". I truly realize that anything of that sort is blasphemy, but it's just not my jam. However, I do tend to make a few exceptions and our tried + true favorite pasta dish is by far, Carbonara. I love it's luxurious parmesan-egg creamy sauce that perfectly coats every little individual pasta piece. Every time I eat this for dinner, it's almost like the pasta is giving me a big ole bear hug that warms me deep into my soul. We don't just make one version of Carbonara, but many... breakfast inspired, autumn flavored with sage, sausage, and roasted butternut squash, and this new edition using springtime ingredients. Not only is it packed with bacon, bacon fat, and heavy cream, but it also has gorgeous asparagus, delightful sweet peas, leeks sauteed in brown butter, and fresh herbs. All of these components truly liven up the somewhat-heavyhearted Carbonara, especially with the addition of lemon zest, lemon juice, and a glug of white wine. To make the pasta, I get out two large stockpots... one to begin boiling to pasta and one to start sauteing the leeks in brown butter. We buy the best frozen sweet peas we can find and toss them in at the last few minutes to partially cook them (along with the pasta), so that they can finish completely while we're assembling the dish. After the leeks have caramelized slightly and become translucent, add in the asparagus, some garlic, and that glug of white wine. After you have drained the pasta and peas into a colander to cool, it's now time to start cooking the bacon lardons. Once you have achieved crispy bacon lardon goodness, strain out the lardons onto a paper towel-lined plate, leaving the rendered bacon fat behind. With the heat on medium, return the pasta and peas, brown buttered leeks, asparagus, and minced garlic to the large pot with the bacon fat. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients to make the creamy egg-parmesan-heavy cream sauce until a cohesive mixture has formed. Turn off the heat (but the pasta ingredients are still hot) and slowly drizzle in the seasoned heavy cream-parmesan-egg mixture, stirring continuously, so that the eggs do not cook and curdle. You want to achieve a smooth, creamy sauce, that perfectly coats the pasta, and in order to reach those results… you have to keep stirring. If the sauce is too thick you can add in a small ladle of that starchy pasta-cooking water until your have reached your desired consistency. Finally add in a little freshly grated nutmeg, fresh parsley, and fresh basil. Take a taste test, and if needed, season it with some more salt, pepper, and/or any other spices. Return the pasta to low-medium heat for just about a minute or two to thicken the sauce and bring it all together. At the very last minute, toss in the crispy bacon lardons, so they maintain their texture, even when coated in such a thick sauce! Now all you have to do is spoon the pasta into serving bowls and garnish them with fresh basil, fresh parsley, and crumbled goat cheese, and you're done!! Enjoy :)

For the Springtime Carbonara:

1lb Orecchiette Pasta (or any short pasta you like)

1 Bag of Frozen Sweet Peas

1 Stick of Unsalted Butter

4 Leeks, Halved Lengthwise + Thinly sliced (white & green parts only and thoroughly washed)

1lb Asparagus, Trimmed & Cut into 2inch Pieces

6 Cloves of Garlic, Finely Minced (split into two equal groups)

¼C White Wine

1lb Thick Cut Applewood Smoked Bacon, Cut into Lardons

Generous Sprinkling of Cinnamon

4 Large Eggs

8oz Grated Parmesan (we used one container of finely grated cheese)

½C Heavy Cream

1-2T Lemon Zest, Finely Grated with a Microplane

Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice, To Taste

¼-½t Dried Red Pepper Flakes 

Freshly Grated Nutmeg (just a pinch or to your liking)

¼C Fresh Parsley + ¼C Fresh Basil, Finely Chopped 

Fleur de Sel + Fresh Cracked Pepper, To Taste

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1. Prepping the Pasta: Fill a large stockpot with water, and then heavily salt it (almost to the point that it is like ocean water) and add a glug of extra virgin olive oil. Bring the water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package directions. With about 2-3 minutes of boiling left to go, add in the frozen peas, so that they can partially cook (they will finish completely throughout the Carbonara pasta process). When the pasta is done, reserve 2-3 ladles of the starchy water to help create a better sauce. Strain the pasta and peas and keep them in the strainer until you are ready to make the Carbonara. Return the large stockpot to the stove to be used again
2. Brown Buttering the Leeks: Start a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the stick of butter and allow it to melt completely until it is just beginning to brown. Throw in the prepared leeks, as well as some fleur de sel and fresh cracked pepper, and cook for about 10 minutes, making sure to stir often. Boost the heat up to high and add in the cut asparagus and half of the minced garlic, and sauté for another 3-5 minutes, until they are tender, but not overcooked. Pour in the wine and allow it to reduce down, about 1-2 minutes. After this mixture has cooked, let it sit in the pan while you start cooking the bacon lardons.
3. Preparing the Creamy “Sauce”: In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, finely grated Parmesan, heavy cream, fleur de sel, fresh cracked pepper, lemon zest, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes until a smooth custard has formed. Set it aside.
4. For the Carbonara: In the same large stockpot used above, crisp up the bacon lardons over medium-high heat with a sprinkling of cinnamon. Once the bacon is completely cooked+ crispy, using a slotted spoon or spider, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Reduce the heat to low and leave the remaining bacon fat in the pot and throw in the cooked pasta and peas, brown buttered leeks, sautéed asparagus, and remaining minced garlic. Toss all of these components in the bacon fat until a cohesive pasta mixture has formed. Turn off the heat (but the pasta ingredients are still hot) and slowly drizzle in the seasoned heavy cream-parmesan-egg mixture, stirring continuously, so that the eggs do not cook and curdle. You want to achieve a smooth, creamy sauce, that perfectly coats the pasta, and in order to reach those results… you have to keep stirring. If the sauce is too thick you can add in a small ladle of that starchy pasta-cooking water until your have reached your desired consistency. Finally add in a little freshly grated nutmeg, fresh parsley, and fresh basil. Take a taste test, and if needed, season it with some more salt, pepper, and/or any other spices. Return the pasta to low-medium heat for just about a minute or two to thicken the sauce and bring it all together. At the very last minute, toss in the crispy bacon lardons, so they maintain their texture, even when coated in such a thick sauce.
5. Serving the Carbonara: Spoon the Springtime Carbonara into serving bowls and garnish with some fresh parsley, fresh basil, and a handful of crumbled goat cheese. Enjoy it while it’s still hot and oh-so-creamy! 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

New Orleans "King Cake" Cronuts with a Brown Sugar-Cinnamon Custard Filling, Toasted Pecan Sugar, Bourbon Glaze, + Festive Mardi Gras Sprinkles

As many of y'all know, my Mountain Man and I made a trip recently to New Orleans for New Years Eve. And although it was the greatest trip... you know the part where I fractured my foot about 30 minutes after leaving our hotel room. Yeah that part sucked, so did the crutches, and being cooped up in our hotel room for three days, but I still was able to explore the city for one day. And that one day drew a bunch of inspiration for future recipes. I know I want to make some beignets, a fried green tomato + shrimp remoulade po'boy, bacon pecan pralines, and a king cake. Well I took all of that food to heart and used it as inspiration for some upcoming recipes. So today we're taking a glance at King Cake, with a delightful twist. For the last year, I think the country has been enamored with the new pastry concoction that marries a croissant with a doughnut. You might know them by name, the infamous "Cronut". I've made about 5 versions at home and featured two recipes on this blog. So what do you get when a Cronut and King Cake come together? A KING CAKE CRONUT. And it's just about as good as it gets when it comes to pastry confections. I started off by making the Cronut dough, which involves making a yeast based dough that is laminated with some sticks of softened butter. I began this process about two days before because I wanted to take my time and not rush any of the components. After all that tedious folding, I used a doughnut cutter to make them into the specific doughnut shape, and then I moved onto everything else. Most King Cake recipes involve the following ingredients... the cake itself, brown sugar, cinnamon, pecans, and bourbon (if you're lucky). So, a filling of a Brown Sugar-Cinnamon Pastry Cream seemed to be a necessity. It is thick, luscious, smooth, and perfectly oozes in between the flaky layers of the croissant. After frying the Cronuts to a crisp, golden brown, I let them cool before I filled them with the pastry cream. Meanwhile, I toasted some pecans in a  pan and pulsed them with some sugar to make a Toasted Pecan Rolling Sugar. Then it was time to fill the insides of the Cronuts with the chilled pastry cream, followed by rolling the entire thing in the pecan sugar. By far the best part of this whole recipe is decorating the King Cake Cronut. I whipped up a thick bourbon-infused glaze to squeeze on top of the Cronut before finishing it with Mardi Gras-inspired purple, green, and yellow sparkling sugars. Not only do they look amazing, but they taste even better!! Just for some advice, two regular ole squeeze bottles with me needed to complete the recipe... one to inject the filling into the Cronut and one for the bourbon glaze on top. Now since I live in Georgia, I went on quite the escapade to find some miniature babies to top the King Cake Cronuts with, but to no such luck. So instead, we did tiny pigs, which seemed fitting considering that we are bacon-fanactics and we were slightly depressed that we couldn't incorporate any pork products into this pastry. Oh well, the pig is there as a stand-in, and might I add, I think they are adorable :) Now I completely understand that this project seems daunting, but every now + then I love to completely challenge myself culinarily, so I really enjoyed the whole process of it all. And hey, getting a real Cronut from NYC is harder than making them at home. Once you finish, just stand back and enjoy the creation you have completed... before eating everything single one!! Enjoy :)
some cronut frying action
the perks of frying cronuts... eating the holes right away :)
a cronut after being injected with the pastry cream
all tossed in some toasted pecan rolling sugar

hereeeeee piggy piggy pig
oink oink
oh yes those layers + pastry cream oozing
For the Cronuts:
¾C Milk, Warmed
1T Active Dry Yeast
1/3C Sugar
2 Large eggs
1t Vanilla Extract
3 ½C AP Flour (divided)
1t Kosher Salt
1 Cup of Butter (or two sticks), at least room temperature  

Brown Sugar-Cinnamon Custard Filling:
1 ½C Whole Milk
¾C Brown Sugar
¼C Cake Flour
½t Sea Salt
1T Cinnamon
4 Large Egg Yolks
1 Vanilla Bean, Split & Scraped for Seeds
2t Vanilla Extract 
½t Butter Extract
¼t Almond Extract    

For the Toasted Pecan Sugar:
1C Toasted Pecans
1C Granulated Sugar

For the Bourbon Glaze:
2C Confectioners’ Sugar
Pinch of Salt
2T Whole Milk
1T Bourbon
¼t Vanilla Extract
For the King Cake Cronuts:
Prepared Cronut Dough, Cut into Doughnut Rounds
Chilled Brown Sugar-Cinnamon Custard Filling (put into a squeeze bottle)
Prepared Toasted Pecan Rolling Sugar
Prepared Bourbon Glaze (put into a squeeze bottle)
Purple, Green, & Yellow Sparkling Sugar Sprinkles, For Decorating

1. Prepping the Cronuts: In the bowl of a standing mixer, stir together the warmed milk and yeast. Stir in the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Mix well. Add a cup of flour and the salt, and then gradually add another 2 ¼C of flour, stirring and then kneading for a few minutes, until it’s smooth, elastic, and still a little bit tacky. Transfer to a baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour. Meanwhile, beat the butter and remaining ¼C of AP Flour with an electric mixer for a couple minutes, scraping down the sides of a bowl, until smooth. When the dough has chilled, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a rectangle that is about ¼inch thick. Spread the butter evenly over the dough, and then fold it as you would a letter, in thirds. Cover the dough in plastic wrap and place it into the fridge for another 30 minutes to an hour.
2. Laminating the Dough: Pull the dough back out and put it back onto the floured surface, with the open sides facing the left and right. Roll it out into another rectangle that is ¼inch thick. Fold the left third over the middle, and then the right third over the middle (this is referred to a “turn”). Chill the dough for another 30 minutes to an hour. Roll, fold, and refrigerate the dough two more times, so that is had been “turned” for a total of four times. Cover and refrigerate it for at least an hour or preferably overnight.
3. For the Brown Sugar-Cinnamon Custard Filling: In a medium saucepan, heat milk over medium-high heat until bubbles just start to form around the edges but milk is not yet boiling. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks and vanilla bean seeds until well combined; slowly whisk in flour mixture until thick and pasty. Remove milk from heat and slowly add to egg mixture, whisking constantly. Transfer egg mixture to saucepan and place over medium heat, whisking constantly until mixture thickens and comes to a boil, about 3 minutes. Boil, whisking, for 10 seconds, and immediately remove from heat. Pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve set over a small heatproof bowl; stir in vanilla extract, butter extract, and almond extract. Strain into a plastic squeeze bottle and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight.
4. For the Toasted Pecan Rolling Sugar: Toast 1C of Pecans in a sauté pan over medium heat. Continuously move the nuts around, so that they will not get burned. Once they have reached a nutty fragrance and slightly browned, they are done! This should only take a few minutes. Place the toasted (make sure to cool first) pecans into a food processor and pulse until small grind has been achieved. Add in the cup of sugar and continue to process until you have a finely ground pecan sugar. Pour into a bowl and set aside until you are ready to use.
5. Frying the Cronuts: Cut the dough, using a doughnut cutter, into rounds (it should make about 12 Cronuts total). In a heavy pot, heat a couple inches of oil to 350 degrees and a scrap of the dough sizzles when you dip it in. Cook the Cronuts in batches, without crowding the pot (because that can cool down the oil), flipping as necessary until they reach a golden brown color. Transfer to a baking sheet, lined with paper towels, and let them sit until excess oil is completely soaked up. Next, move them to a cooling rack.
6. For the Bourbon Glaze: Add all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl and whisk together until a smooth, cohesive glaze has been made. Pour this white glaze into a squeeze bottle and set aside until you are ready to use it.
7. Assembling the Cronuts: It is now time to start filling the fried Cronuts. I did this “Twinkie-style” by using the squeeze bottle that is filled with the brown sugar-cinnamon pastry cream. Gently poke holes into the bottom of a Cronut and fill them all the way through with cream. Repeat this process until you have about 5-6 cream filling holes in each Cronut. Scrape off any excess cream that begins to ooze out. Now that they have all been filled, roll them in the toasted pecan sugar before placing them back onto the cooling rack (make sure the poke holes are facing up) and squeeze some of the prepared bourbon glaze in a circle around the top of the Cronut.
8. Finishing the Cronuts: Garnish the top of the glazed Cronuts with the purple, green, and yellow colored sparkling sugars, making sure to alternate colors, that way you form bands. Let them cool and enjoy!!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Braised Short Rib Ragu Pasta

There are some meals here on Haute + Heirloom that we tend to repeat... and repeat... and repeat. Like our favorite Fancy Pot Roast, we make this 3-4 times a month. Well this Braised Short Rib Ragu Pasta is also becoming a weekly tradition. It is something that you can start early on Sunday and by dinner time you just have to stir together everything for a super comforting + filling meal. There is something so magical about braised short ribs, and I can't really put my finger on it, but it is truly special. After browning the short ribs in a big pot, I added in a bunch of aromatics... carrots, garlic, leeks, onions, parsley, and celery. After they saute a bit, it's time to add in the pureed tomatoes, tomato paste, beef stock, and red wine.
Finally, it is all topped with the crucial "flavor"-producing components... herbs, bay leaves, cocoa powder, balsamic vinegar, fish sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. These all bring such depth to the dish, so don't skip out on any of them. I MEAN IT. Now this pot, it's gonna braise and braise and braise some more. Like 4-5 hours worth of braising is on the horizon, but to me, that's okay because I'm already doing some house cleaning and laundry, so I can keep an eye out on the pot as well. Eventually you get to that glorious part of the recipe where the braised short ribs are amazingly tender and forked off the bone tender. UM YUM. And then, you have to reduce this sauce down until it becomes chocolate brown and much thicker than where it started. I continuously stirred the sauce, so it would evenly reduce and not burn on the bottom. Once that sauce is ready, it's time to add in some more yummy stuff. Begin by browning a stick of butter in a separate pot, once it is just started to brown, add in the minced garlic and saute for just a minute or two. Throw in already cooked pasta, turn off the heat, and coat the pasta in the garlicky brown butter. And this, my friends, is where the magic begins to happen. Put the shredded short rib met on top of the pasta, along with as many scoops of your ragu sauce as you like, caramelized onions, red pepper flakes, shaved bittersweet chocolate, half of the grated Parmesan, some fresh herbs, and heavy cream (to make it extra luscious). Fold in all of the ingredients until you have a cohesive pasta dish. Spoon the finished pasta into serving bowls and garnish with a mound of freshly grated Parmesan + fresh herbs. Y'all are gonna LOVE it!! Enjoy :)
For the Braised Short Ribs:
¼C Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4oz Diced Pancetta + A Heavy Pinch of Cinnamon
4lbs Bone-In Short Ribs
Fleur de Sel + Fresh Cracked Pepper (to heavily season the short ribs)
½C AP Flour
1 Vidalia Onion, Finely Minced
1 Leek, Finely Minced
3 Carrots, Finely Minced
4 Cloves of Garlic, Finely Minced
3 Stalks of Celery, Finely Minced
½C Fresh Parsley
28oz Whole San Marzano Canned Tomatoes, Pureed until Smooth
3T Tomato Paste
2 ½C Beef Stock
1 ½C Red Wine
2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary + Fresh Thyme
1t Dried Oregano
3 Bay Leaves
3T Cocoa Powder (sifted to remove clumps)
1T Balsamic Vinegar
1T Fish Sauce
1T Worcestershire Sauce

For the Braised Short Rib Pasta:
1 Stick of Unsalted Butter, Melted & Browned
4 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
1lb Pasta, Cooked Al Dente
Braised Short Ribs, Shredded into Bite Size Pieces (prepared above)
A Few Scoops of the Braised Short Rib Ragu Sauce (from the pot used above… to taste)
1C Caramelized Onions
½-1C Heavy Cream (depending on how creamy you like it)
1-2t Red Pepper Flakes (or as spicy as you like)
4-6t Shaved Bittersweet Chocolate
1C Freshly Grated Parmesan (divided)
Fresh Herbs, For Garnishing (we used parsley, basil, and chives)

1. Preparing the Short Ribs: Place the olive oil in a large heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add in the Pancetta, with a pinch of cinnamon, and cook until the Pancetta is golden and crisp. This will take about 2-4 minutes. Meanwhile, season the short ribs with salt and pepper, and then dredge in flour (make sure to dust off any excess flour, so there is only a light coating). Using a slotted spoon, remove the Pancetta from the pan and put them into a small bowl, and reserve it for later. Add the short ribs to the pan and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Once all of the short ribs have evenly browned, take them out of the pot and place them on a plate or baking dish.
2. Making the Braised Short Rib Ragu: Meanwhile, place the onion, leek, carrots, garlic, celery, and parsley into a food processor and pulse until everything is finely diced, but definitely not pureed! Add these minced aromatics to the pot that the short ribs had been browning in and allow them to cook and caramelize some, just about 5-10 minutes over medium heat. After sautéing them, add the crispy pancetta, pureed tomatoes, tomato paste, beef stock, and red wine. Bring this mixture to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer, before you submerge all of the browned short ribs into the braising liquid, and then top with fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, dried oregano, and bay leaves. Cover the pot and cook at a simmer for 2 hours. Remove the lid and simmer for another 2 hours, making sure to stir occasionally. After this period of cooking, remove the lid, and continue to cook for another 2 hours (while also making sure to occasionally stir the sauce). After their second cooking period, remove the meat and bones from the pot. Discard the meat and bones from the pot onto a large cutting board (making sure to throw away any fatty pieces as well). Shred the meat into bite-size pieces and let them rest while we reduce the ragu sauce. Stir in the cocoa powder, balsamic vinegar, fish sauce, and Worcestershire sauce, and bring the sauce up to a boil, and then back down to medium heat. You will need to remain near the pot to stir the sauce to ensure that it does not burn. Cook this sauce until it is much darker in color and reduced in volume. It should be quite thick. Remove the bay leaves, sprigs of rosemary, and sprigs of thyme. Season the sauce with some kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper (and sugar if you want it to be a little bit sweeter).
3. Assembling the Short Rib Pasta: In another pot, melt a stick of butter over medium heat until it begins to brown and release a nutty fragrance. Add the minced garlic and sauté just for a minute or so in the brown butter. Turn off the heat and quickly add the al dente pasta and coat it completely in the garlicky brown butter. Throw all the meat on top of the pasta, followed by some scoops of the reduced ragu sauce (as much as you want), caramelized onions, heavy cream, red pepper flakes, ½C grated Parmesan, shaved bittersweet chocolate, and fresh herbs. Fold the pasta gently to combine and until a luscious sauce has coated your pasta.
4. Serving the Pasta: Spoon the short rib pasta into serving bowls and add a heap of freshly grated Parmesan and some fresh herbs to garnish. Enjoy!