For those who appreciate the sweet and the savory sides of dessert, this orange custard is a terrific light solution to ending a lovely meal.

Orange Custard garnished with Star Anise

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 3 cups milk
  • Grated zest of 2 oranges
  • 5 large eggs
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

Combine ¾ cup of the sugar and the water in a small, heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, brush down the sides of the pan with water, and boil for 6 to 7 minutes, or until caramelized. The sugar will be fragrant and a deep amber color when it is caramelized. Working quickly, divide the hot caramel among 10 ramekins, swirling each ramekin so that the caramel coats the bottom and half way up the sides.

Preheat the oven to 325˚F Combine the milk and orange zest in a small saucepan and heat to a simmer. Whisk together the eggs, salt, and remaining ¾ cup of sugar in a medium bowl. Continue whisking while adding the hot milk in a thin stream. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Stir in the vanilla and skim off any foam from the surface. Divide the mixture among the ramekins and place them into a roasting pan. Add enough hot water to the roasting pan to come half way up the sides of the ramekins and bake for 38 to 42 minutes, or until just set. Remove from the water bath and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours, or until firm.

To unmold, run the tip of a paring knife around the inside of each ramekin and invert onto a dessert plate.

Serves 10. Good any time of year, but especially in the winter when citrus is in season. You can tell that the flans are done when they jiggle like gelatin. Flans may be baked a day or two in advance and kept covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator. Unmold just before serving.

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I love Saveur Magazine. You should Buy it here because it will enrich your reading and culinary life and you will learn a LOT of in depth food history in addition to recipes and fun facts that make you salivate as you read.

I read it, cover to cover on a monthly basis. Like the other food magazines I receive and read, I cut out many recipes to save and try. It always pains me a little to cut pages out of Saveur because their issues are so artfully put together. Its the only one I keep on my bookshelf with my cookbooks. Weird I know. I love so many things about the way they present their product: their articles, the context they provide, the depth of their research and above all, their unbending commitment to quality writing, their beautiful photos (one actually made me cry one time)… and the joyous lack of botox ads within their pages. This is why I also own their cookbook collection of Italian, American and French classics. Its about aesthetics for sure, but I am a 100% bonafide Savuer soldier.

ANYWAY… In the pages of their French cookbook is a recipe for Fond Brun De Boef – Beef stock.

silky, rich, French beef broth

I thought it was high time I tried it out since I’m doing all this broth research. This recipe makes a beautifully elegant, rich and savory stock that forms the perfect basis for many dishes. I highly recommend using it. We recently made a triple batch and created my mom’s amazing Albondigas soup for a fundraiser. I have also used it to make French onion, and it was fantastic.

This recipe makes 2 quarts and takes 6 hours to make

Ingredients

  • 6lbs of beef bones (shin, oxtail, neck, etc.)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 2 carrots scrubbed and coursely chopped
  • 4 stalks celery coursely chopped
  • 2 medium yellow onions, halved
  • 2 leeks trimmed, washed and coursely chopped
  • 2 cloves
  • 8 cloves garlic peeled and lightly crushed
  • 1 cup red wine
  • Bouquet garni (french bundle of herbs including 3 sprigs parsley, 2 sprigs thyme, 1 bay leave, 3-5 peppercorns all wrapped up in a 6″ square of cheesecloth and tied with string.

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375. Brush bones with oil, season generously with salt and pepper and put in a large roasting pan (this is the pan I own), This is the one I really want…since we’re talking aesthetics.

Roast bones until just browned about 30 minutes. Smear tomato paste over bones and roast 2o minutes more. Toss carrots, celebery, onions, leeks cloves and garlic with remaining oil and add to pan with bones. Roast for 20 minutes more.

Roasted bones before immersion in water

Transfer all to a large stockpot (here’s the one I have, here’s the one I want.) Deglaze roasting pan on stovetop over medium heat with red wine, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan. Pour juices into stockpot. Add bouquet garni and cover with 5 quarts of water. Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered until stock is reduced by two thirds, about 4 hours. Occasionally skim off any foam that rises to the surface. Strain stock and discard solids using a colander lined with cheese cloth.

straining broth through cheesecloth lined colander

Transfer stock to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight. Remove and discard fat that has formed on surface. Stock may be stored for up to 3 days in fridge or in freezer for up to 6 months.

We like to use these zip lock bags to store in the freezer because they are easy to label, use and freeze an exact quart of broth easily.

Recipes I suggest using it for:

Date & Radish Soup

French Onion Soup

Beefy Stew with Mashed Potatoes

more to come…

 

 

 

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Not Your Grandmas Brussel Sprouts

This is a recipe we got from Scotts Dad Jack – an amazingly great cook who I am forever grateful to because he taught my sexy husband how to cook GREAT food and to be an adventurous eater.

Its a tasty, rich and perfect side dish and we eat it all the time. We love brussel sprouts now that we have learned how to cook them in an amazing way…with bacon. By the way, if you want to be in heaven – try Nueske’s smoked Bacon from Wisconsin – it is freaking amazing. Click this link to find out  where to get some

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs brussel sprouts rinsed and cut in half
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 12 oz slab bacon or pancetta cut into small cubes or slices
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Instructions

Heat a cast iron or enameled skillet to medium  and throw bacon in with a dash of olive oil. Cook bacon over medium heat until crispy and grease is browned and slightly crusty.

Add brussel sprouts and chicken broth and cook over medium heat about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are tender but NOT mushy.

Serve as a side dish. Makes a great side for Thanksgiving or Christmas Dinner!

 

 

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Raw Cauliflower ready to be turned into a delicious creation

I have begun experimenting with the many varied uses for cauliflower – we get a head or two delivered in our organic vegetable delivery every week. I have found that it is a wonderfully neutral base from which to build many different types of light but comforting dishes.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Artisan Olive Oil

We have done cauliflower puree in place of mashed potatoes many times, we have used it in pastas, we have curried it and eaten it as a side with palak paneer (one of our favorite Indian dishes), and we have carmelized it with onions and raisins and eaten it as a side dish with ribs and pork roasts. All the ways we have eaten it have been equally delicious. This soup recipe is really nice and creamy and soothing. Easy to make and nice to have as a main dish with some bread or a grilled cheese sammy, or as a starter to a lovely meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 onion coursely chopped
  • 1 shallot coursely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves sliced
  • one 2 lb head of cauliflower, cut into medium sized florets
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 4 cups water
  • pinch of nutmeg freshly grated
  • Truffle salt to taste
  • grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese

Instructions

Heat butter in dutch oven or deep enameled pan and add onions, shallots and garlic over medium heat, stirring occasionally – about 10 minutes. Add cauliflower, thyme, bay leaf and cook until cauliflower is barely firm – about 15 minutes. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Boil until it has cooked down by about 1/3. Add water and stir – allow to simmer on medium heat for 30 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth and creamy – get rid of large chunks. You can also blend in a regular blender in two batches. If you wish to have a REALLY smooth texture, after blending, pour soup in batches through a fine mesh strainer and press solids through it with a spatula into a bowl. It will become very finely strained and will be smooth like a pudding texture. Pour back into pan and allow to warm before serving.

Sprinkle with truffle salt and cheese and garnish with diced sage or parsley.

 

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This recipe is easy, tasty and rich without any added cream or butter. Everyone who ate it asked if there was cream in it and were shocked to find there was none. It is the perfect addition of great chicken broth that makes it so creamy. We also added some shredded parmesan instead of the suggested cheddar cheese – because the parmesan we had is a much higher quality and doesn’t add extra grease the way some cheap cheddar cheeses do as they melt.

Potato Leek and Spinach Soup made with Chicken Broth and Parmesan

Ingredients

  • 2 medium sized leeks
  • 4-5 medium russet or red potatoes (if using red you might need a few more as they are smaller in size)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cups chicken broth  (you can use vegetable broth if you prefer to make it veggie)
  • 3 cups chopped spinach
  • salt and pepper
  • shredded parmesan cheese
  • diced ham or Hungarian bacon (optional and delicious to make it more of a hearty soup)

Instructions

Slice off a big hunk of the Hungarian bacon and eat it before starting on anything else – after all you need your energy and we have to check the quality!

Chop the white and light green parts of the leek. Throw away the top dark green half of the leaves. Rinse thoroughly after chopped – there is a lot of dirt hidden in leek layers!

beautiful leek layers

Saute leeks in a soup pot with olive oil until soft. Rinse and peel potatoes and cube. Throw potatoes in the pot with softened leeks and saute about 10 min.

Add chicken broth and bring to boil until potatoes are soft. You can add a cup or two of water if broth has boiled down to a level you think is too low. Salt the soup – tasting every 5 minutes (the potatoes make the salt take longer to take effect).

Add spinach and continue to boil for 5 mins. Grab your immersion blender and blend soup until there are only small chunks remaining or until completely creamy (your preference). Or pour half of the soup in a blender and blend on low. Tip: Make sure you hold a towel over the top of the blender so the lid doesn’t pop off and spatter boiling hot soup all over you and the kitchen. 

Pour soup back into pan and add ham or bacon if you are including it. Cook for about 30 min more and then serve. You can incorporate Parmesan cheese at this time and let it melt into the soup or use it as a garnish.

Sprinkle Parmesan, chives or croutons on top as a garnish.

 

 

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Tasty and delicious pork broth is a great starter for many soups and other recipes. Pork stock contain high levels of calcium and protein, suitable as a base for highly nutritious soups, dishes for growing boys and girls and people recovering from injuries. It also tastes awesome.

Pork Broth worth breaking a leg for

Ingredients

  • 1 lb pork bones – broken to help release marrow
  • 1 onion
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 1 apple
  • 12 oz ham hocks
  • 12 oz of slab bacon whole
  • 4 cups dried shiitake mushrooms – reconstituted. Save the water that rehydrated the mushrooms and add it to the broth.
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 5 liters of water
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar

Instructions

Heat oven to 350. On a sheet pan, spread out broken pork bones and ham hocks and sprinkle with olive oil. Allow to bake for 20 minutes until lightly browned. Pour any juice from pan into a cup and add to broth (in next step).

Bring water to boil in a clean pot. Add white wine vinegar. Add the meats, the slab bacon and all the rest of the ingredients and bring back to boil. Then reduce heat to simmer for 2 to 3 hours or till soup reduced by about 1/2.  Scoop out any froth or grit floating on top of the water throughout the process.

Strain broth into a bowl, reserving the bones and bacon. Scrape any remaining meat from bones into a bowl. Cut up the slab bacon into small chunks. Add all the meat back into the soup for a meaty broth or strain out all ingredients to achieve a clear pork broth.

Don’t waste the meat! Use the meats and mushrooms in a bolognese pasta sauce or to stuff some cabbage rolls. Whatever you do, find a good use for the pork.

 

 

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This Recipe was contributed by our brother in law Jens from Germany while he was visiting over the Christmas Holiday. We had received a giant daikon radish in our Abundant Harvest organic vegetable delivery and didn’t know quite what to do with it. Jens found this recipe online and adapted it to make a vegetarian version with vegetable stock and without the meat.

It can also be made with a pork or beef stock however, which is what the recipe below reflects. It is also quite delicious and savory. This soup – in both versions – was the biggest surprise to me, rich, succulent and filling and the flavors married so well despite my preconceived notions of how it would taste. Thanks to this recipe, I am now even more open minded to experimenting with unusual ingredients!

grab a spoon and dig in!

Ingredients

  • 12 oz pork ribs
  • 6 oz of slab bacon whole
  • 1 cup dried shiitake mushrooms – reconstituted. Save the water that rehydrated the mushrooms and add it to the broth.
  • 1 large white daikon radish  cut into large chunks or sliced
  • 8 red dates (we used medjool dates)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 cups of chicken broth

Instructions

Heat oven to 350. On a sheet pan, spread out pork ribs and sprinkle with olive oil. Allow to bake for 20 minutes until lightly browned. Pour any juice from pan into a cup and add to broth (in next step).

Bring chicken or beef broth to boil in a clean pot. Add the meat, the slab bacon and the rest of the ingredients and bring back to boil. Then reduce heat to simmer for 2 to 3 hours or till soup reduced to 1 1/2 bowls water.

Pour broth into a bowl, reserving the bones and bacon. Scrape any remaining meat from bones into a bowl. Cut up the slab bacon into small chunks. Add all the meat back into the soup.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with cilantro. Unique and wonderful flavors.

 

 

 

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This is a recipe so freaking easy and delicious I can’t believe I never made it before. If you are like me, and occasionally like to skip the starchy stuff and eat more vegetables, and yet you are addicted to comfort food – this is a perfect recipe to trick your mind and body. HA!

Instead of mashing potatoes, you can make this mashed cauliflower recipe using chicken broth and some basic spices and you will not believe how satisfying it is. Even big old traditional beefy men will find it appealing.

You can add cheese also for that added toothsome appeal, or dress it up with different spices such as curry, saffron, thyme, sage, chipotle, sriracha, etc. (but not all at the same time…)

It even LOOKS like mashed potatoes!

Ingredients

  • Two 2 lb heads of cauliflower cored and cut into 2 inch florets
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/4 cup butter ( I didn’t say it was completely without fat)
  • cheese (if you wish to add cheese, you can try a different variety every time you make it)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • dash of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes

Instructions

Preheat oven to 325.

In large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the cauliflower until tender about 5-7 minutes. Remove and drain well. Spread on baking sheet and place in oven for 5 minutes to dry out.

In saucepan, combine chicken broth, red pepper or cayenne, cream and butter. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.

Puree cauliflower in a food processor or in a bowl with a hand mixer. (I used a standard hand held metal potato masher the first time and it worked fine too, just a bit more work). Add broth mixture to cauliflower and puree further until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy!

 

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Pumpkin Gruyere Soup Recipe

A Fun and tasty pumpkin soup recipe using chicken broth and gruyere cheese that you can make right inside the pumpkin! Easy to make and really unique flavor compared to other pumpkin soups I have tasted. I adapted this recipe from a Bon Appetit recipe I found this fall, because I thought it lacked some spice / kick flavor when I made their version and I wanted to make it a little more zesty.  The Gruyere gives it a nutty creaminess and yet it is still clean and creamy tasting with that nice pumpkin flesh texture and comforting color. I added the cayenne, orange zest and sage to kick it up a notch.

Ingredients

  • 1 6–8 pound round orange pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, finely ground (don’t use too many!)
  • 2 large pinches paprika
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups grated Gruyère
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 fresh or dried bay leaves
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • Flat-leaf parsley for garnish
  • 2 sage leaves diced
  • 1/2 cup orange zest for garnish

roasted and hollowed out

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°. Cut out a wide circle around stem of pumpkin to make a lid. Lift lid; scrape off any seeds and set aside. Scoop out seeds and strings from inside pumpkin.
Place pumpkin in a roasting pan or on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Rub pumpkin flesh with butter. Sprinkle all over inside with ground fennel seeds and paprika.
Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add cheese, cayenne, breadcrumbs, garlic, and bay leaves. Pour in stock to come within 3″ of the pumpkin’s rim. Cover with lid.
Roast pumpkin for 1 hour. Remove lid; put lid flesh side up on pan alongside pumpkin and return to oven. Continue to roast until pumpkin flesh is soft when pierced with a knife (take care not to puncture skin), 30-90 minutes more, depending on size of pumpkin. Remove from oven.
Discard bay leaves. Ladle soup from pumpkin into a large soup pot. With a metal spoon, scoop out the cooked chunks of pumpkin flesh from the inside sides of the pumpkin and add it to the pan. Blend cooked pumpkin and stock with immersion blender until smoother texture (to eliminate most of the largest chunks). Add sage leaves to pan and let soup simmer for 20 minutes before serving.
Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, gently ladle into bowls. Garnish with parsley and croutons and sprinkle with grated gruyere and orange zest.

cooking in the pan

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Frying our Shrimp Fideo Cake

Ilan Hall was a contestent on one of the past seasons of Top Chef. I actually thought he did a good job throughout the competition even though he was a massive jerk for shaving off Marcel’s hair while he was sleeping. I did think Marcel should have won though. ANYWAY…this is a recipe that Ilan made on the show (or something similar) and I finally saw it in a recent food and wine magazine issue. It has great flavor and they were very good, but the ones I made the first time came out a little greasy. I’m sure that could be eliminated by draining them longer or maybe using a lighter oil (grapseseed would be my suggestion).  It takes some time because you have to let some of the ingredients cool between using them, but other than that, its a really easy recipe and satisfies that “deep south deep fried” craving I get every once in a while but with a fun Spanish flavor twist.

Makes 6 first course servings (although mine seemed to make more like 10)

clean, peel and devein the shrimp

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound of fideos (fine pasta in shape of birds nests)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • large pinch of saffron threads
  • 1/2 lb medium shrimp – shelled and deveined. Cut into 1/2 inch pieces. reserve the shells.
  • 7 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 oz finely diced chorizo sausage
  • 2 Tbsp sliced garlic plus one minced garlic clove
  • large pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup mayo (I used crema salvadorena instead because I detest may0)
  • 4 tsp fresh lemon juice

Instructions

Devein and peel your shrimp. Rinse and set shells aside.

In a saucepan combine the stock, wine, saffron and shrimp shells – bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for one hour. Strain out the shrimp shells and reserve stock.

Preheat oven to 350 and spread fideos on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes until lightly browned.

noodles broth and sausage simmering

In a large saucepan heat 1 tbsp of the oil, add chorizo and sliced garlic. Cook over medium heat until garlic is browned. Add crushed red pepper, fideos, shrimp stock and bring to a boil, stirring. Cook and stir constantly until fideos are al dente and sauce is creamy – about 5 minutes. Stir in shrimp and season with salt.Remove from heat and cool to room temperature then stir in egg whites and refrigerate for one hour.

with the addition of shrimp and egg whites - ready to refrigerate

Shape the mixture into twelve 3 1/2 inch cakes – about 1/2 inch thick. Set on baking sheet and refrigerate for one hour.

In a bowl, blend the mayo or crema salvadorena, minced garlic and lemon juice. Whisk and add two tablespoons of oil and season to taste with salt.

In a large skillet (cast iron or le creuset is what I suggest), heat 1 Tbsp of the oil. Add 3 cakes at a time and cook over moderately high heat until browned on the bottom (about 4 minutes), being careful not to burn them. Turn over and reduce heat to moderate, and cook until heated through about 3 minutes more.

Transfer to a plate and keep warm. Repeat with remaining oil and cakes. Top cakes with the sauce and serve warm.

You can also use this complimentary recipe for orange saffron aioli sauce instead of the lemon mayo if you wish. It goes very nicely with the flavors.

 

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