Saturday, December 29, 2012

Lobster Club Sandwich with Vanilla Bean Butter Fried Brioche, Tarragon Lobster Salad, Smashed Avocado, Maple Glazed Bacon, Arugula, & Heirloom Tomato

Lobster Club Sandwich with Vanilla Bean Butter Fried Brioche, Tarragon Lobster Salad,
Smashed Avocado, Maple Glazed Bacon, Arugula, & Heirloom Tomato
I'm sure y'all have noticed how bad of a blogger I have been... so, so, sooooo bad. And I feel just awful because I really love to do this every other day or so. But after being sick for 2-3 months, and then Christmas started taking over my life, I just needed a little break from my responsibilities. I mean, we all feel like that sometimes, right? I definitely do. I'm finally back though and I'm here to stay, especially with the new year just around the corner. I'll be posting some new recipes this week as well as one of our favorite posts, Our Top 10 Favorite Recipes: Savory & Sweet, for the year. So, y'all have to check back and find out what made our list for the best, most craveable meals that we enjoyed in 2012. What do y'all think should make the list or are there any personal favorites that you hope you'll see on there? Lemme know because your feedback is especially important :) Anyway, today's recipe is a sandwich, but of course, you know it's our favorite meal. But it ain't no boring sandwich, trust me. Why? Because there's lobster in it. Lots of it. You know what else? Utterly gorgeous brioche bread... that's been fried in homemade vanilla bean butter. It might sound bizarre, maybe even gross. But, trust me, lobster + vanilla bean pair amazingly together. I think the vanilla really brings out the natural sweetness of lobster meat. Then you add in creamy avocado, maple glazed bacon, peppery arugula, and a gorgeous heirloom tomato... that's heaven between two pieces of bread y'all. This is the mother of all clubs as far as I'm concerned. And I'm sorry, but nothing makes me happier than seeing a sky-high stacked sandwich towering over me. Honestly, I even get anxiety trying to tackle this baby. It's just so beautiful, yet oh-so-messy. Why ruin it by eating it? Pah, who am I kidding. Just lean over, bow up, and go at it. That's how a true Southern lady does it... right? I sure hope so!! Enjoy :)
After a few big bites :)
How cute are those itty bitty vanilla beans??

For the Vanilla Bean Butter Fried Brioche:
1 Stick of Unsalted Butter, Room Temperature
1-2 Vanilla Beans, Split & Scraped for Seeds
6 Slices of Brioche Bread

For the Tarragon Lobster Salad:
2T Mayo
¼t Dijon Mustard
¼C Fresh Celery, Finely Diced
¼C Shallots, Minced
1T Fresh Tarragon, Minced
¼t Fresh Lemon Zest
Pinch of Sugar
Salt & Pepper, To Taste
1T Fresh Chives, Minced (plus extra for sprinkling)
Butter Poached Lobster Tails, Roughly Chopped & Chilled

For the Maple Glazed Bacon:
6-8 Slices of Thick Applewood Smoked Bacon
Maple Syrup, For Brushing

For the Lobster Club Sandwiches:
Vanilla Bean Butter Fried Brioche Slices
Prepared Tarragon Lobster Salad, Chilled
Avocado Slices, Smashed
Heirloom Tomatoes, Thinly Sliced & Seasoned
Fresh Baby Arugula
Prepared Maple Glazed Bacon
Salt & Pepper, To Taste

1. For the Vanilla Bean Butter Fried Brioche: In a small mixing bowl, smash together the softened butter and vanilla bean seeds until incorporated. Spread the butter onto the slices of brioche. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat and fry the slices until they are lightly golden brown in color. Keep warm or set aside until you are ready to layer your sandwiches.
2. For the Tarragon Lobster Salad: Mix together all of the ingredients until smooth and incorporated. Add in the chilled lobster meat and toss to combine. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.
3. For the Maple Glazed Bacon: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and lay the bacon slices on top of a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper or a Silpat. Bake the slices of bacon for 15-20 minutes or until crispy. Remove them from the oven and brush them heavily with maple syrup, and then return them to the oven for another 5 minutes or so, or until the maple syrup is slightly sticky.
4. Assembling the Lobster Clubs: Place 1 slice of the Vanilla Bean Butter Fried Brioche onto a plate, and then spoon on a generous amount of the Tarragon Lobster Salad and top with some smashed avocado, another slice of fried brioche, maple glazed bacon, baby arugula, and seasoned tomato slices. Finish off the sandwich with another piece of brioche. Repeat with the remaining ingredients for another sandwich. Enjoy immediately.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Thanksgiving Leftovers "Chicken & Waffles" with Pecan Crusted Turkey Tenderloins, Cornbread Dressing Waffles, Vanilla Bean-Pecan Butter, Brandied Cranberry-Maple Syrup, & Brown Butter Fried Sage

Thanksgiving Leftovers "Chicken & Waffles" with Pecan Crusted Turkey Tenderloins,
Cornbread Dressing Waffles, Vanilla Bean-Pecan Butter, Brandied Cranberry-Maple
Syrup, & Brown Butter Fried Sage
Well, our first Friendsgiving dinner has come and gone, and I'm pretty sad about it. It was a lot of fun, and we had wayyyyyy too much to eat. But, there's always, always, always room for leftovers. And yeah, I know there are some Thanksgiving Leftover Purists out there who just want a plain old sandwich. But not me, I try to come up with something crazy & different every year. Just a couple weeks ago I made a tartine, and that was delicious, but I knew this time, I had to make something bigger + better. I couldn't help but think of wanting to make one of our favorite meals, chicken & waffles, into a leftover extravaganza. I started with my favorite buttermilk waffle recipe and then added in some of our cornbread dressing to turn them into these bread pudding-like crispy waffle cakes. Seriously, it has an outrageous texture and taste on its' own, but then you top them with some pecan crusted tenderloins that have been fried to perfection, a few tabs of a homemade vanilla bean-pecan butter, a healthy drizzle of brandied cranberry-maple syrup, and brown butter fried sage... and well, my friends, you are certainly in Thanksgiving Heaven (I'm pretty sure that's a real place, don't worry). It was the perfect brunch this morning, but honestly, I could go for these "chicken & waffles" at any time during the day. And you should too!! Enjoy :)
For the Pecan Crusted Turkey Tenderloins
6 Turkey Tenderloins (or chicken can be substituted, as well as pork)
1C Toasted Pecan Pieces (ground into a pecan meal)
2C AP Flour
Salt & Pepper, To Taste
1C Buttermilk, Well-Shaken
3 Eggs, Beaten
1T Hot Sauce
Vegetable Oil, For Frying

For the Cornbread Dressing Waffles:
¾C AP Flour
¼C Cornstarch
½t Baking Powder & Sea Salt
¼t Baking Soda
½C Buttermilk
½C Milk
1/3C Vegetable Oil
1 Egg
2t Sugar
½t Vanilla
1 ½C Leftover Cornbread Dressing or Stuffing

For the Vanilla Bean-Pecan Butter:
1 Stick of Unsalted Butter, Softened
¼C Toasted Pecans, Finely Chopped
1t Sugar
¼C Vanilla Extract

For the Brandied Cranberry-Maple Syrup:
½C Leftover Cranberry Sauce
½C Maple Syrup
¼C Brandy
Salt, To Taste

For the Thanksgiving Leftover Chicken & Waffles:
Pecan Crusted Turkey Tenderloins, Fried until Golden Brown & Crispy
Prepared Cornbread Dressing Waffles, Cooked & Warm
Prepared Vanilla Bean-Pecan Butter, Cut into Tabs
Brandied Cranberry-Maple Syrup, Warmed
Brown Butter Fried Sage, For Garnishing

1. For the Pecan Crusted Turkey Tenderloins: Heat the oil, over medium-high heat, in a large cast iron skillet. In food processor, finely ground the pecans. Combine the pecans with the flour. Season the flour and tenderloins with salt & pepper to your liking. Whisk the eggs with the buttermilk and hot sauce. Dredge the turkey tenderloins in the pecan flour, coating each piece completely. Dip the chicken in the buttermilk egg wash, coating completely and letting the excess drip off.  Dredge them again in the pecan flour. Fry the turkey for roughly 6-8 minutes or until there is no longer any pink in the meat. The outside should be golden brown and crispy. Drain the fried turkey on a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt & pepper. Keep these warm until you are ready to serve.
2. For the Cornbread Dressing Waffles: In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Whisk together to blend. In another mixing bowl, beat together the whole milk, buttermilk, oil, egg and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients and whisk just until incorporated and few lumps remain. Add in your leftover dressing or stuffing and mix to combine. Set aside to rest for 30 minutes. Preheat a waffle iron. Fill waffle wells and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The waffles should be crisp and golden brown. Keep them warm until you are ready to serve.
3. For the Vanilla Bean-Pecan Compound Butter: In a mixing bowl, mash and smooth out the butter with a fork. Add in the vanilla bean seeds, toasted pecans, sugar, and vanilla extract and mix until it is smooth, making sure that all of the component are mixture thoroughly and distributed throughout. Keep it at room temperature or refrigerate until you are ready to spread it onto your waffles.
4. For the Brandied Cranberry-Maple Syrup: Heat the leftover cranberry sauce and maple syrup over low heat in a medium saucepan. Add the brandy and some salt to taste, and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the brandy infuses into the syrup and it thickens slightly. Keep warm until ready to serve.
5. To Assemble the Turkey & Waffles: Place two cornbread dressing waffles in the center of your plate and spread with the softened vanilla bean-pecan butter. Top the waffle with another tab of the butter and the crispy pecan crusted turkey tenderloins. Pour the brandied cranberry-maple syrup all over your plate and garnish with brown butter fried sage leaves. Enjoy it while it’s still warm!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Red Velvet "Crack Pie" with Chocolate-Oat Cookie Crust + Whipped Cream Cheese

Red Velvet "Crack Pie" with Chocolate-Oat Cookie Crust + Whipped Cream Cheese
It's finally Christmastime, and I have nearly missed another week :( But, the good news is that I have felt well enough to be cleared to head back to Savannah!! Jumpin' for joy, here. It's so much easier to cook in your own home, ya know? I mean, you know where everything is, what dishes to use, how hot the oven is, who will eat all of my creations before I can style them for a picture, etc. You know, REAL BIG LIFE PROBLEMS. Ha, that's debatable. So, don't worry, I have a bunch of recipes coming your way because I am actually hosting my First Annual Friendsgiving-Christmas Party. And yes, I realized Thanksgiving as come and gone, but I didn't get to eat all of the yummy food, so I'm going to be that slightest bit selfish and make my friends have a "Friendsgiving" with me... with some Christmas thrown in there too!! I'm making a Porchetta, my new favorite "bread pudding" dressing, southern sweet potato casserole, pan fried brussels sprouts with vanilla-pecan butter + pomegranate reduction, eggnog, a very special White Russian recipe, and too many pies to count. The first pie that will be featured is Red Velvet Crack Pie with Chocolate-Oat Cookie Crust + Whipped Cream Cheese. Y'all have all heard of "Crack Pie" right? Well, if not it a sugary-sweet pie from the famous Momofuku Milk Bar in NYC. I bought their cook book, and I just knew I had to make it. The classic is fabulous and please if you're going to make a pie, definitely make that one. But, I couldn't help myself in making my very own variation... Red Velvet. I mean, I turn everything into red velvet, it's actually unhealthy. I started off by making the oatmeal-cookie crust, chocolate, very chocolatey, since that's an important piece of the whole pie. I substituted in buttermilk, some buttermilk powder, and red dye for coloring. Lastly, I made a whipped cream cheese for garnishing the top of the pie, like a cake would have frosting. All of these components come together to make one heck of a Red Velvet "Crack Pie" y'all. And man, this pie is sweeeeeeet, but I think that's what the Milk Bar was looking for... so it would be like crack to kids!! Enjoy :)

For the Chocolate-Oat Cookie Crust:
8T + 4T Unsalted Butter, 8T at Room Temperature & 4T Melted
1/3C + 1T Light Brown Sugar, Packed
3T Sugar
1 Egg Yolk
½C AP Flour
¼C Unsweetened Dark Cocoa Powder
1oz Unsweetened Baker’s Chocolate, Finely Grated
1½C Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
1/8t Baking Powder
Pinch of Baking Soda
½t + ¼t Salt

For the Red Velvet Crack Pie Filling:
1 ½C Sugar
¾C Light Brown Sugar, Packed
¼C Milk Powder
¼C Corn Powder
2T AP Flour + 1T Buttermilk Powder
1T Cornstarch
1 ½t Salt
2 Sticks of Unsalted Butter, Melted & Cool Slightly
¾C Buttermilk, Well-Shaken
½t Vanilla
Red Dye, To Your Liking
8 Large Egg Yolks
Confectioners’ Sugar, For Dusting
Unsweetened Whipped Cream or Whipped Cream Cheese, For Serving

1. For the Oat Cookie Crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with Pam. In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine 8T room temperature butter, 1/3C light brown sugar, and sugar in medium bowl. Beat the mixture until light and fluffy, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, about 2 minutes. Add egg yolk; beat until pale and fluffy. Add oats, flour, cocoa powder, finely grated chocolate, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and beat until well blended, about 1 minute. Turn the oat cookie mixture out onto prepared baking sheet; press out evenly to almost the edges of pan. Bake until light golden on top, 15-18 minutes. Transfer baking pan to rack and cool cookie completely. Using hands, crumble oat cookie into a food processor and process until it becomes wet sand, and then add melted butter, salt, and brown sugar. Pulse until mixture is moist enough to stick together. Transfer cookie crust mixture to two 9-inch-diameter glass pie dishes. Using fingers, press mixture evenly onto bottom and up sides of pie dishes. Place pie dishes with crust on rimmed baking sheet.
2. For the Crack Pie Filling:Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Combine both sugars, milk powder, corn powder, AP flour, buttermilk powder, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer. Add melted butter and beat for 2-3 minutes until all the dry ingredients are moist. Add buttermilk, vanilla, and red dye (to your liking), and then continue mixing until well blended. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Beat in the egg yolks until just combined, do not aerate the mixture. Mix on low speed until glossy and homogenous. Pour filling into the two crusts evenly.
3. For Baking: Bake the pies for 15 minutes only. Open the oven door and reduce oven temperature to 325°F, and then close the door when the temperature has reduced. Continue to bake pie until filling is brown in spots and set around edges but center still moves slightly when pie dish is gently shaken, about 10-20 minutes longer (this strongly depends on the temperature of your oven at home, you will need to check back on the pie until it reaches the just barely-shaken consistency). Cool pie 2 hours in pie dish on rack. Refrigerate uncovered overnight. Once chilled, wrap with plastic wrap to store.
4. Serve the pie cold with sifted confectioners’ sugar over the top and a dollop of whipped cream cream!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Fleur de Sel + Dark Chocolate Dessert Popovers with a Hint of Brown Butter

Fleur de Sel + Dark Chocolate Dessert Popovers with a Hint of Brown Butter & Confectioners' Sugar
I'm popover-crazy right now, like seriously. They are so addicting. I love their eggy-ness, the pocket of air in the center, and their crispy, puffed up exterior. But, I recently realized that there are not many dessert popovers out there, and why the heck not? It would be absolutely perfect. So the first combination I thought of was Fleur de Sel, Dark Chocolate, + Brown Butter. It's the best flavoring ever, especially since it reminds me of chocolate chunk cookies. So, I filled the center with high-quality dark chocolate, baked them up with some brown butter, sprinkled with fleur de sel, and dusted with confectioners' sugar. The popovers came out delightfully delicious and tasted like a mix between a beignet + a chocolate croissant. Just if you didn't know already, that's a good thing. We served these popovers as dessert, but I think you could easily pass them off as breakfast... dessert for breakfast is always a winner in my book!! Enjoy :)
Yummy Chocolate Filling

For the Popovers:
2C Whole Milk
4 Large Eggs
1t Salt
1T Dark Brown Sugar
2C AP Flour
¼t Baking Powder (scant)
1T of Melted, Brown Butter (for each Popover)
6oz Sea Salt Dark Chocolate, Cut into Small Squares or Cubes
Fleur de Sel, For Sprinkling

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and position a rack in the bottom third of the oven. Place two popover pans in the oven to warm.
2. In a small saucepan, warm the milk over medium heat until it is hot, but not boiling. Remove from the heat. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs with the salt and brown sugar until smooth. Slowly whisk in the warm milk. Add in the flour (I mixed my baking powder into my flour) and whisk until the batter is just combined (it may still have some lumps).
3. Remove the pans from the oven and pour 1T melted, brown butter into each well. Pour about 1/3C of batter into each popover mold. Drop about 5-6 pieces of dark chocolate into each batter and sprinkle with a little fleur de sel.
4. Bake the popovers until puffed and deep golden brown, about 30-45 minutes (do not open the oven or they will collapse). Remove the popovers from the pans and sprinkle with grated chocolate and sifted confectioners’ sugar, then serve immediately.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Perfect Gruyere + Black Pepper Popovers with Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

Gruyere + Black Pepper Popovers with Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese 
ROLL TIDE ROLL, Y'ALL!! I know many of you might not be rabid college football fans like us, so I get y'all up to speed. Last night, my two favorite teams, the Alabama Crimson Tide & the UGA Bulldogs played in the SEC Championship, and man, what a game!! My boys from Alabama barely pulled it out, but all the matters is that we won. So now, we're headed to the National Championship to South Beach in Miami. Okay, back to the food, since I got a little distracted. Popovers are mah jam. They are one of my favorite dinner breads to serve to guests, friends, or family. I mean, you can make some many different flavor combinations and they always come out looking FABULOUS. Some other flavors I want to try are herbed, cheddar + bacon jam, goat cheese or brie with fig preserve swirls, cherry tomato confit + basil, and a variety of dessert popovers. Speaking of making popovers for dessert, not many people have made recipes that can be enjoyed at the end of a meal (or maybe for breakfast). So, the next recipe I'm going to post will be Dark Chocolate + Sea Salt Popovers with Brown Butter. I'm telling you they were delicious, almost a mix between a chocolate croissant and beignets. Once again, I'm getting off topic. The recipes that I'm introducing to y'all today are my Gruyere + Black Pepper popovers with grated Parmesan. It was a part of my Thanksgiving menu this year, and they were so good that even my one year old niece gobbled one up. Like what baby eats black pepper and gruyere? Not many. What I love about them is their utterly smooth batter that is speckled with freshly cracked pepper. THEN, they are filled with nutty gruyere cheese... perfection I tell ya. When they are done baking up, you get the instant gratification of seeing the gorgeously risen popovers that are perfectly golden brown and crisp on its surface. I included a few tips that are extremely helpful in making the best popovers you could possibly ever taste. So, make sure to use them to your advantage. But, most importantly, eat them right out of the oven with a bunch of grated Parmesan all over the tops of these tasty popovers and enjoy every tasty morsel. We have already made these three times since Thanksgiving because they were such a hit... a new Thanksgiving tradition has been born y'all!! Enjoy :)
golden brown color + freshly grated parmesan
Seriously, they are like two feet tall y'all :)
See that crusty, caramelized cheese on the top... 
For the Popovers:
2C Whole Milk
4 Large Eggs
1 ½t Salt
½-1t Freshly Ground Black Pepper (depending on how spicy or strong you like it)
2C Bread Flour, Sifted (AP Flour can be substituted)
¼t Baking Powder, scant
4oz Gruyere Cheese, Cut into Small Cubes (group the cubes into evenly numbered piles)
12T Unsalted Butter, Cut into Tabs & Brought to Room Temperature (extremely soft)
Freshly Grated Parmesan, For Garnishing

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and position a rack in the bottom third of the oven. Place two popover pans in the oven to warm.
2. For the Popover Batter: In a small saucepan, warm the milk over medium heat until it is hot, but not boiling. Remove from the heat. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs with the salt and black pepper until smooth. Slowly whisk in the warm milk, while making sure to use the tempering technique, so that there are no cooked egg particles in your smooth batter. Sift together the bread flour (or AP Flour) and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Add in the sifted flour mixture and whisk until the batter is just combined and smooth (it may still have some lumps, so do not over-mix).
3. Preparing the Popovers: Remove the pans from the oven and drop a tab of the extremely soft butter into each popover mold, and then ladle in a scant ½C of black pepper batter into the melted, sizzling butter. Drop the small cubes of Gruyere into the center of each popover batter; I dropped about 4-5 cubes of Gruyere into mine. This batter makes should make roughly 12 large popovers or 16 smaller popovers.
4. Baking the Popovers: Bake the popovers until puffed and deep golden brown, about 30-45 minutes (do not open the oven besides the one period where you prick the popovers). At the 30-35 minute mark, open the oven door and quickly prick the sides and tops of the popovers with a toothpick. This is a very important step because it helps the popovers to release steam that has been trapped inside them. Once you have pricked them, continue baking these for the remaining 10-15 minutes to finish browning. Remove the popovers from their pans, you have to do this carefully because you do not want to cause the popover to collapse or ruin their perfectly baked structure. I did this by using a dull butter knife to loosen up the edges of the popovers; it can sometimes be difficult to get them out when the cheese has oozed out and begun to caramelized and crisp up.
5. For Serving: grate fresh Parmesan all over the hot popovers and enjoy immediately while they are still warm.