Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Southern Inspired Version of Yotam Ottolenghi's Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce

Roasted Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce, Pomegranates, Candied Pecans,
Candied Jalapenos, Chives, + Balsamic Reduction
Have y'all seen any of Yotam Ottolenghi's cookbooks yet? I think he has about three out right now, I only own the one, Plenty. And even though, it is far from my cuisine of choice, I am so intrigued by his flavor combination, uses of veggies & herbs, and his beautiful photography. Although he includes protein in some of his recipes, most of them are vegetarian, which I love because I don't cook nearly enough those kinda dishes... mine almost all have to have bacon in them. Of course. The recipe that really pulled me in was his Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce. The picture was so gorgeous and inviting, but had the perfect rustic touch to it! I knew I had to make it, but with a southern spin.... haha, no brainer there. The eggplants are halved and cross-hatched before they are drizzled with olive oil, salt, pepper, and cajun seasoning (instead of za'tar). Once you've roasted them it's time to garnish them with a'whole'lotta crap. YAY for crap! I included the buttermilk sauce & pomegranates, like Ottolenghi, but I also scattered some chopped candied pecan, candied jalapenos, chives, and a balsamic reduction drizzle over the top. I decided to use a balsamic reduction, but I think a pomegranate reduction or pepper jelly drizzle would be just as fab as well, so it's up to y'all! I absolutely adore how the pictures turned out, they are so bright + vibrant, and I think they would be the perfect addition to your summer table. But go ahead and make it now, it's really pretty any time of the year!! Enjoy :)

For the Eggplant:
2 Large + Long Eggplants, Sliced in Half Lengthways
1/3C Olive Oil
½t Dried Basil + Dried Oregano
Fleur de Sel & Fresh Cracked Pepper
1t Cajun Seasoning

For the Buttermilk Sauce:
9T Buttermilk (well-shaken)
½C Sour Cream
1 ½T Melted Bacon Fat or Olive Oil
1 Garlic Clove, Minced
Salt & Pepper, To Taste

For Garnishing:
Pomegranate Seeds
Fresh Chives, Minced
Homemade Candied Pecans, Roughly Chopped
Homemade Candied Jalapenos, Finely Chopped
Balsamic Reduction, Pomegranate Reduction, or Pepper Jelly (for drizzling)


1. Preparing the Eggplant:Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the eggplants in half lengthways, cutting straight through the green stalk (the stalk is for the look; don't eat it). Use a small sharp knife to make three or four parallel incisions in the cut side of each eggplant half, without cutting through to the skin. Repeat at a 45-degree angle to get a diamond-shaped pattern.
2. Roasting the Eggplant:Place the eggplant halves, cut-side up, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush them with olive oil, keep on brushing until all of the oil has been absorbed. Sprinkle with the lemon thyme leaves and some salt and pepper. Roast for 40 to 50 minutes, at which point the flesh should be soft, flavorful, and nicely browned. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
3. For the Sauce:Whisk together all of the ingredients until a smooth consistency has formed. Season with salt & pepper. Keep chilled until you are ready to use.
4. Serving the Eggplant: Place the roasted eggplant halves onto a serving plate and spoon plenty of the buttermilk sauce over the halves. Sprinkle the top of the sauce with some more Cajun seasoning, and then drizzle on some balsamic reduction/pomegranate reduction/pepper jelly (of your choosing). Scatter plenty of pomegranate seeds, candied pecans, candied jalapenos, and freshly minced chives. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and enjoy!

here are some #instagrub pictures :)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Revamped : Red Hot Velvet Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing Glaze

Revamped: Red Hot Velvet Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing Glaze
By far + away, the single-most FAVORITE recipe here on PLC are my Red Hot Velvet Cinnamon Rolls. They are probably my greatest creation. Actually at the time when I first concocted the idea of this "dessert for breakfast", it was the only one on the internet. Now different versions are popping up EVERYWHERE. So, I am very proud to say that this was the ORIGINAL idea behind the celebrity. Anyway, I am a firm believer in that everything can be improved upon, so why not revamp the most visited recipe on my site? Well, it happened that my Mountain Man's place of work had a Valentine's Day Bake Off, so I knew I just had to enter my Red Hot Velvet Cinnamon Rolls to be judged. I changed a few things around a bit this time though. Firstly, I took out the cocoa powder in the dough. I felt like that made the cinnamon rolls a bit cake-y in texture, so I wanted to achieve a more yeasted cinnamon roll this time around. But of course, in order for it to be considered "red velvet", there's gotta be buttermilk, red dye, vinegar, and cocoa powder. Instead, I sifted cocoa powder on top of the butter, sugar and cinnamon for a lightly chocolatey filling. It was perfect. To make sure the rolls were extra puffy, I used instant yeast instead of active dry yeast, but either will work for y'all, I'm sure. Also, I felt like my cream cheese frosting was a tad bit thick last time, so this go-around, I whipped up a cream cheese icing glaze. It's still thick enough the coat the rolls, but it is thin enough that in seeps into the middle of the rolls... making them extra gooey. And that's all we want, amirite?! We added some cinnamon into our cream cheese glaze, for a little more spice, but you can easily leave it out, no worries!! As for the garnishes, we found some nifty red velvet cake sprinkles to sprinkle over the top to be super festive and they were awesome! But you can also use any Valentine's Day themed sprinkles or crushed red hots. It's up to y'all!! These are 10 times better than the original, so I hope y'all can get around to makin' them soon!! Enjoy (we sho' did) :)
roll out the red velvet dough with some flour...
spread the melted butter everywhere...
sift over some cocoa powder, cover with sugar, + sprinkle on a mess of
cinnamon (and press gently down so it adheres together)
and tightly roll them up...
so they look gorgeous like this...
and this...
then proof them, so they rise a bit and look like this...
then bake them until they are huge + puffy
and cover them in the cream cheese icing glaze...
and finish them with some sprinkles, butofcourse!
For the Cinnamon Rolls:
2C Buttermilk (minus 2T)
2T White Distilled Vinegar
½C Vegetable Oil
½C Sugar
2-3oz Red Food Coloring (or to the color of your liking)
1 Package of Instant or Active Dry Yeast (0.25oz Packets)
4C AP Flour + ½C AP Flour
½t Baking Powder, Heaping
½t Baking Soda, Scant
1t Salt, Heaping
1C Butter, Melted
1-2T Cocoa Powder (depending on how chocolate-y you like it)
1C Sugar
Generous Sprinkling of Cinnamon

For the Frosting:
4oz Cream Cheese, Softened
7T Unsalted Butter, Softened
1 ½C + 2T Confectioners’ Sugar
3-4T Buttermilk, For Thinning
1t Cinnamon (optional)
¼t Salt (or to taste)
1t Clear Vanilla Extract
Festive Valentine’s Day Sprinkles & Crushed Red Hot Candies, For Decoration

1. Measure out the 2C buttermilk in a large measuring cup, and then remove 2T of the buttermilk and substitute by adding in the 2T of white vinegar. Mix the buttermilk, vinegar, vegetable oil, sugar, and red food coloring in a pot. Heat the mixture until just before the boiling point. Turn off the heat and leave to cool for 45 minutes to an hour. Meanwhile, sift together the 4C AP flour and set it aside. When the milk mixture is warm (but not hot), sprinkle in the package of yeast. Let it sit for a minute or two, and then add in the sifted flour. Stir the mixture and cover, and then let it rise for at least an hour.
2. After rising for an hour, add in ½C AP Flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir the mixture together. Refrigerate the dough overnight to help it become firm and better for presentation.
3. The next day, sprinkle a rolling surface generously with flour. Take the dough and form a rough rectangle, and then roll the dough thin, maintaining a general rectangular shape. Drizzle or spread on 1C of the melted butter over the dough. Now, sift the cocoa powder over the butter, followed by sprinkling 1C of sugar over the cocoa and butter, followed by a generous sprinkling of cinnamon. Press the spices lightly into the butter to make sure they adhere together.
4. Now, starting at the opposite end, begin rolling the dough in a neat line toward you. Keep the roll relatively tight as you go. Next, pinch the seam of the roll to seal it. Spray a 13x9-baking pan with Pam, and set it aside. Then, begin cutting the rolls into approximately 12 thick round rolls and place them into the prepared buttered pans. Let the rolls rise for an hour.
5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
6. Bake the cinnamon rolls for 17-25 minutes or until light golden brown.
7. To Make the Frosting: Beat together the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer in a large bowl until creamy. Mix in the clear vanilla extract and buttermilk, then gradually mix in the confectioners' sugar and salt until smooth and fluffy. Add in the cinnamon if you are using.
8. Spread the cinnamon rolls with the icing (generously), sprinkle with garnishes if using, and enjoy immediately while they are still warm.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Gourmet Spiced Turtles with Vanilla Bean Caramel, Dark Chocolate, & Sprinkled with Vanilla Bean Fleur de Sel + Toffee Chips

Gourmet Spiced Turtles with Vanilla Bean Caramel, Dark Chocolate, & Sprinkled with 
Vanilla Bean Fleur de Sel + Toffee Chips
Back when I lived in Savannah, there were candy kitchens pretty much at every block. Pralines were their number one seller by far, so much so that if you just walked in the store, a hot, freshly-made praline sample was handed to you. Naturally, that just meant we walked in and out about 5-10 times. Of course, who wouldn't? Most of their treats were quite tasty, but I could never get on board with store-bought turtles. I'm not quite sure why, but they just weren't my gig, ya'know? Well, a couple weeks ago, I had a custom order request from an Haute + Heirloom Etsy buyer, asking me if I could whip up some gourmet turtles for her. I had never made them, but I knew how to make all the components and I was sure I could spice them up some to make them extra special. The first component are the pecans. A lot of the time, no one does anything to them. Some people might toast them or salt them slightly, but I went with the extravagant route by "spicing them". After being toasted in butter, I added in some fleur de sel, cinnamon, ground ginger, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, chili powder, & cardamom. They are all perfect, comforting fall spices. I also sweetened them up a bit with sugar to give them a crackly crust (um yumm). Now onto the caramel... the gooey, sticky, chewy caramel that is speckled + scented with vanilla beans and flavored with a dash of fleur de sel. If that doesn't make your mouth water... then I don't know what would. The caramel will harden & solidify, which means they are ready to be covered in chocolate. Tempering chocolate may seem like a daunting task, but really it is all scientific. You just gotta be aware of the temperature and keep it even throughout the entire process. Once you pour the tempered chocolate over the caramel, it will quickly begin to settle, so while it is still soft, sprinkle the tops with some vanilla bean fleur de sel and toffee chips (just for presentation & extra flavor). Even though these candies are a little more labor-intensive than the ones you can buy in a store, the quality alone speaks for itself. And that's coming from a girl who hated turtles prior to making this recipe!! Enjoy :)
clustering the spiced pecans...
making the vanilla bean caramel...
pouring the vanilla bean caramel over the spiced pecan clusters
a little extra salt neva hurt no'body
ready for the chocolate...
I experimented a little bit by adding on some chocolate stour marshmallows--yumm!
now it's time for the tempered chocolate, fleur de sel, & toffee bits
For the Spiced Pecans:
16oz Pecan Halves
3T Unsalted Butter, Melted
½t Salt, Cinnamon, Ground Ginger, Pumpkin Pie Spice
¼t Freshly Grated Nutmeg, Chili Powder, & Cardamom
1-2T Sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)

For the Vanilla Bean Caramel:
¾C Heavy Whipping Cream
½C Sugar
1/3C Dark Brown Sugar
3T Light Corn Syrup
2T Unsalted Butter, Cubed
1t Vanilla
1 Vanilla Bean, Split & Scraped for Seeds
½-1t Salt (depending on your taste)

For the Dark Chocolate Coating:
12oz High Quality Bittersweet or Semisweet Chocolate, Roughly Chopped
Vanilla Bean Fleur de Sel, For Sprinkling
Toffee Chips, For Sprinkling

1. For the Spiced Pecans: For the pecans, preheat oven to 350°F. Toss pecan halves with melted butter and kosher salt and spread onto a large sheet pan. Toast the pecans, stirring halfway through cooking, until fragrant and golden, about 10 minutes; set aside until cool enough to handle. Once you can handle them, toss them with the spices and sugar until it adheres. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper and arrange cooled pecans into X-shaped clusters or feel free to place the pecan pieces into small mounds to yield a more rustic-shaped cluster.
2. For the Vanilla Bean Caramel: For the caramel, combine the cream, sugars, and corn syrup in a medium-sized, heavy saucepan and whisk until incorporated. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Please do NOT stir the mixture after it comes to a boil; if necessary, dip a pastry brush in water and brush down the sides of the pot to remove any sugar stuck to the sides. Continue boiling the mixture until it reaches 250°F on an instant read thermometer, about 10 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in butter, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean seeds.
3. Working quickly, spoon a generous teaspoon or so over each cluster of pecans. Allow clusters to set, uncovered and undisturbed, for at least two hours but preferably overnight.
4. Tempering the Chocolate:To melt and temper the chocolate coating, prepare a double boiler or set a heatproof bowl over barely simmering water. Add approximately 3/4 of the chocolate (the remainder will get added in after the initial heating) to the top of the boiler. Melt the chocolate, stirring often, until it reaches the following temperature(s) on an instant read thermometer: 116 to 120°F for semisweet; 110 to 112°F for milk chocolate, and immediately remove from the heat. Add the reserved chocolate and continue stirring until the temperature drops to the following: 82 to 86°F for semisweet;80 to 84°F for milk chocolate. Return the chocolate to the boiler and heat on low until the temperature rises back up to 90°F, watching carefully to make sure the chocolate does not exceed the temperature.
5. Finishing the Turtles: Drizzle the tempered chocolate over the caramel-covered pecan clusters. Sprinkle the top with some vanilla bean fleur de sel and some toffee chips. Set aside in a cool place to set. Turtles will keep for up to two weeks, stored between sheets of wax paper in an airtight container at room temperature.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

How To : Brown Butter (like a boss)...

How To: Brown Butter (like a boss)...
Oh how I do love brown butter. And it is SO simple to make and it elevates any dish to another level! It's great in savory dishes, like pastas, sauces, or on seafood, but it is also fab in baked goods like cookies, doughnuts, and cakes. Oh and don't forget brown butter ice cream, it could possibly be my favorite flavor. It pairs amazingly with bourbon... which is also a win-win, since I like everything boozy. It is the perfect addition to chocolate chip cookies because it adds a nuttiness without including those pesky walnuts that I can't stand. I always drizzle some on top of my apple pies or just throw a whole stick of brown butter into my pecan pies... it's that good. I have almost 30 recipes featuring it as a prime component. So you need to jump on board and do the same. All you need is a couple sticks of butter, a saute pan, a whisk, & a rubber spatula... and you're in business!! So through this little tutorial, you'll learn how to brown butter, like a boss (just like me)!! Enjoy :)
Throw two sticks of butter into a heated pan.. 
And whisk, whisk, whisk away...
It'll foam, sizzle, & pop... don't worry that's just the water evaporating.
It'll clear up a bit and darken in color...
And shortly, you will see little brown flecks start to appear at the bottom of the pan...
Turn the heat off, but continue to whisk for another 30 seconds or so...
And then get it out of the hot pan and into a dish, where it will continue to brown due to the heat
Now you can use it right away or store it in the refrigerator for baked goods later...
For the Brown Butter:
2 Sticks of Unsalted Butter, Room Temperature

1. Heat a light-colored sauté pan over medium heat (you use a lighter color because it will help you to be able to see whether or not the butter is burning or not, so you achieve the perfect caramel colored brown butter).
2. Add the two sticks of softened butter to the warmed skillet. Let the butter melt completely and continue to whisk/move the butter throughout the entire process. After a couple minutes, the butter will begin to bubble, and then foam before it subsides into a bright yellow color (the bubbling & foaming is just a sign that the water is evaporating out of the butter). After this, you should begin to see the butter beginning to darken and little brown bits forming at the bottom of the pan. At this point, you should begin to smell a toasty, nutty aroma (it should be quite intoxicating).
3. The butter should be almost completely golden with a few of brown butter specks; this is the time where you need to cut off the heat. Continue to whisk rigorously to ensure even browning. Using a rubber spatula, pour the butter into a dish and scrape out all of the brown bits into the dish as well (those are the most important part). And don’t worry, because the butter is still hot, it will continue to brown/toast while cooling off in the pan. This is the easiest way to ensure you will not burn the brown butter (yuck).
4. Now you can either toss it right into a dish… such as pasta or in a sauce, or you can refrigerate it so that it hardens again and it will be perfect for baking, like in cookies or cake (make sure to whisk it right before serving, so that the brown bits are evenly distributed throughout the butter). Once your butter has browned and been refrigerated, it should be good for about a week or two (if it’ll last that long).