Friday, November 21, 2014

Sweet + Salty Pie with Black Himalayan Salt + Maple-Bourbon Whoop

Sweet + Salty Pie with Black Himalayan Salt + Maple-Bourbon Whoop
To me, pie is the ultimate food group of the Thanksgiving meal. I can safely say that every year I way over-do it with how many pies I make. The number of them grow to the point that we have more pies than side dishes. Typically there is a bourbon-chocolate chip-pecan pie, buttermilk pie, salted caramel apple pie, crack pie, and either a sweet potato or pumpkin pie. In other words, we have a veritable array  of a pie pupu platter. So, my goal this year was to get started on making up a new dessert to add into the mix. We all know that I am mildly obsessed with the combination of sweet + salty... I top my cookies and coffee with salt and it is practically a scientific fact that salt makes all desserts better. You bet your sweet ass it does. And this pie, well, it hits that note perfectly. The base of this pie is primarily made up of brown sugar, brown butter, eggs, cream, and bourbon. Isn't that music to y'all's ears? After I whip up the custard-like base, I pour it into my go-to vanilla bean crust and bake it until it just has the slightest jiggle in the center. What is so glorious about this pie is the different textures that come about... you have the flaky crust, the smooth center, and the perfect crackly crust on top. It reminds me of a damn-good brownie where it is gooey underneath and slightly crisp above that. After you let the pie set and chill, it's time to brush the top of it with something sticky... you can use light or dark corn syrup, a little bit of brown butter, honey, or maple syrup. Just a little dab will do ya because you only need it as a way for the black himalayan salt to stick to it while you slice + eat it. Now any fancy/flaky/rock salt will work. The first time I made this recipe, I opted to use flaky smoked fleur de sel and it tasted great, but it blended in with the color of the pie and I wanted a contrast of color because we all eat with our eyes first. When I made it a second time, I decided that the black himalayan salt would be the perfect garnish (and it was). Now you might think that having such big pieces of salt would make the pie overly savory, but it doesn't... it only balances it more! Finally when we got around to eating the finished product, I topped it with my Maple-Bourbon Whoop, which is just a fancy whipped cream that is spiked with maple syrup + bourbon. From the different textures to its flavor profile, this pie is an overall winner, and it would make the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving table!! Enjoy :)
rolling out my vanilla bean pastry crust
and pouring in the luscious custard base 
look at that crackly crust :)
For the Homemade Crust:
1 ¼C AP Flour (plus extra for rolling)
½t Salt
1 ½t Sugar
1 Stick of Unsalted Butter, Very Cold
3-4T Ice Water

For the Sweet + Salty Pie:
1lb Dark Brown Sugar
4 Large Eggs
¼C Heavy Cream
½t Vanilla Extract
1t Bourbon
¼t Kosher Salt
4T Brown Butter (melted and cooled some)
Light or Dark Corn Syrup, Honey, Brown Butter, or Maple Syrup (for brushing)
Black Himalayan Salt (or any fancy salt), For Sprinkling (the topping)

For the Bourbon-Maple Whoop:
1C Heavy Cream
¼C Grade B Maple Syrup
2-3T Bourbon

1. For the Homemade Crust: 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 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. Shape the dough into a disc. Do not over knead the dough. You should still be able to see little bits of butter in the dough. Cut the dough into 4 small balls and sprinkle the discs with a little flour on all sides and wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least an hour. Remove the discs from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. Sprinkle some flour on top of the disc. Roll out with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface to a 12inch circle (1/8inch thick). Place rolled out disc on to a deep dish spring form pan, lining up the fold with the center of the pan, trimming the excess and crimping the edges. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 30 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
3. For the Pie Filling: In the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment, blend together the dark brown sugar, eggs, heavy cream, vanilla, bourbon, and kosher salt until completely blended and smooth. With the machine running, slowly stream in the melted brown butter until it is all completely incorporated.
4. Baking the Pie: Pour the custard into the prepared pie shell and bake for convection for 30-45 minutes (depending on your oven), or until the pie is puffed and golden brown, if shaken, it will jiggle a little bit but will not be liquid at all.
5. For the Maple-Bourbon Whoop: In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream and maple syrup together on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Whisk in the whiskey 1T at a time. With the mixer on high speed, continue whipping until medium-stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use.
6. Allow the pie to cool completely before cutting. Once it has cooled, brush the top with one of the sticky substances (corn syrup, honey, butter, or maple syrup) and sprinkle the top with the black Himalayan salt. Serve a slice of pie with some maple-bourbon whipped cream.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Cranberry Pepper Jelly + Goat Cheese Baked Brie Bites

Cranberry Pepper Jelly + Goat Cheese Baked Brie Bites
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, y'all. I can't even contain my excitement, literally. I also have Friendsgiving this weekend, which is a great way to test some of my recipes out before the big show. And speaking of this fabulous holiday, every year I realize that one course is often neglected... the appetizers to nosh on while all the important stuff is still cooking. We normally have some charcuterie out, as well as a plate of different cheeses and crackers, but I think it could really do some sprucing up ya'know? Well, my friend, these are the perfect little bites that people can pick up and go multitask. It combines my recently posted homemade cranberry pepper jelly and it's not only perfect with turkey or on leftover sandwiches, but the condiment is great in this too! If you don't feel like making the cranberry pepper jelly (which is completely understandable), then you can sub in almost any jam... cherry, apricot, peach, etc. But I love the profile of the spicy cranberry component and it perfectly fits the season/holiday. As for the brie... I found a great goat cheese brie that, quite frankly, we have been addicted to lately; however, regular brie works just as well!! We personally don't like the rind (on any cheese for that matter), so we chose to remove it. If you don't mind or prefer it, then leave it on, no worries here. Now all you gotta do is buy some frozen puff pastry at the grocery store and cut it into squares and let the layering begin. You have to make sure that you don't over-stuff the squares, so that it seals properly and all of the fillings don't ooze out every where while baking. We purchased a poptart cutter and used that to seal it, but you can use any shape cutter and that will work just as well, just make sure to use a fork to close up the edges. After that, I brush mine with some egg wash, to help the browning, and sprinkle it with some fleur de sel or raw sugar (depending on if I want something more savory or sweet). Once you bake them, they will puff up gorgeously and turn the most perfect golden brown. I let mine cool just a tad, so that the cheese won't be a melty mess, but they are best served warm. Don't you worry though, they are great at room temperature too. I think these will be a great addition to your upcoming Thanksgiving parties. I mean think about it, it's practically a grown-up poptart, yay!! Enjoy :)
layers of puff pastry, goat cheese brie, + cranberry pepper jelly
using our adorable poptart cutter to make hand-held baked brie bites
place them on a baking sheet and brush with some egg wash 
bake them until they are golden brown and devour all of them immediately
For the Baked Brie Bites:
2 Sheets of Store-Bought Puff Pastry, Thawed & Still Cold
4oz Goat Cheese or Classic Brie, Cold
Homemade Cranberry Pepper Jelly
1 Large Egg, Beaten
Splash of Heavy Cream
Fleur de Sel or Raw Sugar, For Sprinkling

1. Prepping the Puff Pastry: All-butter, store bought puff pastry usually comes frozen and folded into thirds. We’re going to use these folded thirds to our advantage.  Cut the puff pastry into thirds along the creases. Cut each panel into four pieces.  They’ll be 2 1/4-inch tall and 3-inches wide. One sheet of puff pastry will yield 12 rectangles. Cut each rectangle in half. You’ll have 24 little rectangles that will create 12 little rectangle pockets.
2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with a silpat. Set this aside.
3. Making the Jelly-Brie Bites: Combine beaten egg and splash of heavy cream. Brush 12 of the small rectangles with egg wash. Place a small sliver of Brie (we like the rind removed, but it can be left on and it’ll still taste great) on top of the egg wash (and stick).  Top with a small spoonful of the homemade cranberry pepper jelly. Take another square of puff pastry and press between your fingers to make the rectangle slightly bigger. Place puff pastry on top of the cheese and jam.  Use a fork to press the edges together or you can use a pop tart cutter like I had.  The egg wash will act as glue. Make sure to seal the edges well by crimping with the fork.  Prick the tops of the pastry lightly with a fork in order to let the steam escape the inside of the pastry. Place the stuffed puff pastry squares onto the prepared baking sheet and brush the tops with some of the egg wash. If you want you can sprinkle with a little fleur de sel (or even some raw sugar for a sweeter pastry).
4. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the pastry has puffed and turned to a beautiful golden brown. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool slightly before serving. These baked Brie bites taste best warm, but are also fine at room temperature!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

#instagrub: Homemade Cranberry Pepper Jelly (for the holidays)

homemade cranberry pepper jelly (for the holidays)
It's officially holiday season, y'all! I anxiously wait every year for Halloween to pass, so I can focus on two of my favorite days of the year... Thanksgiving (and a Friendsgiving thrown in there too) + Christmas. These two holidays are for foodie junkies, which I proudly am. I'm that person that ends up making almost every component, and way too much, so everyone should invite me over. I'll start taking bids now. But I have a hidden agenda, well it's not so hidden anymore, because the only reason I love these holidays are because of the leftover sandwiches the next day. I went crazy last year with this triple decker turducken club sandwich... then I made this thanksgiving panini on homemade pumpkin bread... and before that, I whipped up this thanksgiving leftovers tartine with french toasted dressing cake... finally, I put together my first-ever edition of the "moist maker" sandwich. So you see, we are veteran leftover-using people around this joint. And with every sandwich we've ever made, what's going on them is very, very, VERY important. Today we're talking about the condiment portion of the famous dish. We usually go two routes when making a Thanksgiving sandwich... one homemade aioli and one cranberry sauce. Most of the time you just spread whatever cranberry thing you made that year on to a slice of bread, but I have started preparing earlier on in the season by making a cranberry condiment. I want something that tart yet sweet, chunky + spreadable, and with the slightest hint of heat. This recipe for homemade cranberry pepper jelly has become that go-to condiment for us. Obviously, as Southerners, we love us some sweet + spicy pepper jelly, so why not make a version of this for holidays? It's quite brilliant actually.
reduced-down peppers + pectin with fresh cranberries about to be added in....
You start with some red bell peppers, red jalapenos (or habaneros), sugar, salt, red pepper flakes, liquid pectin, and lemon juice and simmer that down for a little bit until the juices thicken. After a little while you add in some fresh cranberries and cook them until they burst.
Mmm fresh cranberries + spicy peppers
After that has cooked down and pretty much finished, I like to add in some dried cherries or cranberries at the last minute, so they reconstitute a little bit and plump up some to give the pepper jelly some texture. It's allllllll about the texture, people.
Now for the dried cherries (or dried cranberries) for TEXTURE
Once it's all finished up and thickened up real nice, just put them into jars and they'll keep for nearly a month! I think it's a super cute holiday gift for family, friends, or neighbors. So why not pass some out, so everyone can enjoy Thanksgiving leftover sandwiches with you? You'll save them a step and give them something that they'll love... it's a win-win!! Enjoy :)
the finished product!!
For the Cranberry Pepper Jelly:
3 Red Bell Peppers, Finely Chopped
3 Red Jalapeno Peppers, Finely Chopped
1C Sugar
1 ½t Red Pepper Flakes
½t Salt
¼C Liquid Pectin
1T Fresh Lemon Juice
3C Fresh Cranberries
5oz Dried Cherries or Cranberries (one small package)

1. Put the bell peppers and jalapenos in a food processor and pulse to finely chop.
2. Combine peppers, chiles, sugar, red pepper flakes and salt in a heavy wide pot over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar. Stir in pectin and lemon juice. Reduce heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
3. Stir in cranberries and simmer gently until they burst and juices thicken, about 10 minutes longer.
4. Lastly, stir in the dried cherries/cranberries and let them simmer for about 2-3 minutes until they slightly reconstitute and plump up again.
5. Transfer jelly to a jar, let cool, and cover. Will keep for up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

"Mountain Man Pleasing Chicken" with Peach Preserve-Honey Mustard Marinated Chicken, Colby Jack Cheese, Mushrooms, + Bacon

"Mountain Man Pleasing Chicken" with Peach Preserve-Honey Mustard Marinated Chicken,
Colby Jack Cheese, Mushrooms, + Bacon
This is one of those feel good meals... that the men in your life will thank you for. And on top of all of that it's something you marinate a day before or overnight and slop it all into a baking dish until it's cooked through + perfectly browned. After the chicken is done, you top it with some slices of Colby Jack cheese, browned mushrooms, & smoky bacon and bake it again, under the broiler, till the cheese is melty and beginning to crisp around the edges (a.k.a. the best part). If you're smart like us, you'll drizzle a little bit of that peach preserve-honey mustard marinade on the chicken before you start layering on the cheese, mushrooms, and bacon. It adds a little extra sweet + savory taste and boosts up that flavor profile just a tad bit more. First, you start by marinating the chicken in a homemade sauce; it is composed of different mixed mustards (or whatever you have on you), maple syrup, peach preserves, apple cider vinegar, worcestershire, garlic cloves, seasonings, and sprigs of fresh rosemary. I like the balance between the mustard + peach, it's like a fruity honey mustard... and who doesn't like that? Also, don't leave out the fresh rosemary, pretty pretty please? I love the aromatic element it brings to the whole dish. 

marinating the chicken thighs in garlic, rosemary, and peach preserve-honey mustard 
You can start this whenever you want, but the longer it marinates, the better it tastes. Marinate + bake the chicken thighs in the same pan, so you don't waste a bunch of different dishes. Less clean up=happy people, agreed? Agreed. Yes this dish is simple. But it packs a lot of flavor AND it has cheese + bacon on it, which automatically makes it, "man-pleasing chicken". Make it tomorrow, make it next weekend, or make it whenever you can. It's perfect for Autumn/Fall weather too!! Enjoy :)
after baking...
it looks perfectly brown + juicy
garnish it with chives and serve it with potatoes, and you're good to go
For the Marinated Chicken:
6 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs
2/3C Mixed Mustards (I used Dijon, honey mustard, and yellow mustard)
1/3C Maple Syrup
1 Jar of Peach Preserves
2T Apple Cider Vinegar
Couple Dashes of Worcestershire Sauce
4 Cloves of Garlic, Thinly Sliced
2-4 Sprigs of Fresh Rosemary
Salt, Fresh Cracked Pepper, & Red Pepper Flakes (for sprinkling the chicken)

For the Chicken Topping:
6 Slices of Colby Jack Cheese (one slice per chicken thigh)
Sautéed Mushrooms (I like a good golden brown color)
12 Slices of Cooked Bacon (two slices per chicken thigh)
Leftover Peach Preserve-Honey Mustard Marinade, For Drizzling
Fresh Minced Chives, For Garnishing

1. Preparing the Marinated Chicken: Spray a 13x9-baking dish with Pam and lay the chicken thighs into the pan. Season the tops of them with some salt & fresh cracked pepper. Thinly Slice 4 cloves of garlic and scatter them across the chicken.
2. Making the Marinade: Whisk together the mustards (of your choice), maple syrup, peach preserves, apple cider vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce until thoroughly combined (this should make about 2C of marinade). Pour half of the mixture over the chicken, so that they are completely covered (save the remaining marinade for another batch or use all of it for a double batch). Top the entire dish with the fresh sprigs of rosemary. Cover and marinate for 4-6 hours.
3. Baking the Chicken: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Remove the tin foil from the baking dish and place the chicken in the hot oven. Cook them for roughly 30-40 minutes. Allow the chicken to rest in the pan for at least 5 minutes.
4. Finishing the Chicken: Increase the heat of the oven to broil and remove the chicken from the baking dish and place onto a silpat-line baking pan. Spoon a little of the extra marinade over each chicken thigh, and then top with two slices of cooked bacon, a slice of Colby jack cheese, and a pile of sautéed mushrooms. Drizzle a little more sauce on top. Broil in the oven (while keeping a close eye, so that nothing burns) for about 5-10 minutes or until the cheese has completely melted and everything looks gorgeously brown.
5. Spoon a little more marinade over the top if you wish and garnish with chives. Enjoy it while it’s still hot!