Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Bacon Wrapped Shrimp with White Cheddar Cheese Grits

I've been watching Top Chef from the get-go and just last season I decided to try out a recipe that a Chef named Tre prepared on the show. I love grits and bacon wrapped shrimp so I figured this was a win-win recipe. It turned out that the grilled corn and white cheddar grits recipe is a keeper (I made this again for a Bacon party and people liked it just fine), the bacon wrapped shrimp aren't much different than how I usually make them normally and the chipotle-tomato butter sauce isn't worth trying again. (I made it twice and it turned out the same both times. It's got a nice flavor with a bit of spice but it doesn't thicken as much as I'd like and it's not worth the effort.) From this, I figure that Top Chef recipes are probably not really tested in an actual kitchen. I mean, the grits made enough for a few dozen people!

Shrimp Prep: Season shrimp with a little Kosher salt. Using a hot grill, quickly mark each shrimp. Remove from grill and allow time to cool. Shrimp should still be uncooked. When cool enough to handle, wrap each shrimp with a half piece of bacon. Season with cracked black pepper. Sear each shrimp in grapeseed oil till crispy on both sides. Serve when rest of dish is ready.

Grits Prep:Using a deep saucepot combine chicken stock and milk. Bring to a simmer, add butter, and allow time for it to dissolve. Slowly whisk in grits a little at a time. When grits begin to thicken, lower heat. Switch to a spatula and fold in the rest of the ingredients. Adjust for addition seasonings if needed. If grits are too thick, add more chicken stock.

For the Chipotle-Tomato Butter Sauce: In a saucepot, sauté onions and garlic over medium heat. Next, add tomatoes, chipotle peppers and peppercorns. Continue to cook for another three minutes. Deglaze with chicken stock and lower heat. Cook for 5 minutes then place in a blender; blend till smooth. Place liquid back in saucepot and over low heat mount with butter, whisking in a little at a time. Add cilantro and season with lemon juice and salt. Turn off heat and allow 5 minutes to steep cilantro. Strain through fine mesh strainer and reserve warm till time to serve.

(Messy, messy, messy when your blinder lid doesn't stay on!)

To Plate:Place small amount of grits in the center of a large plate. Drizzle sauce around grits. Place three pieces of shrimp around grits. Serve. (THREE?!? Make that Nine!)

For the Shrimp:
18 pc black tiger shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2T Kosher salt
9 bacon slices
2t cracked black pepper
Grapeseed oil for searing

For the Grits:
2qt chicken stock
1qt milk
1/4 stick unsalted butter
1qt instant grits
2 cups grilled corn kernels
1 cup poblano peppers, small diced
2 cups aged white cheddar cheese
3T chopped cilantro
2T Kosher salt
2T cracked black pepper

For the Chipotle-Tomato Butter:
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2T chopped garlic
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
3T chipotle peppers (in Adobe)
1t black peppercorns
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/2 bunch cilantro1 lemon, juiced
2t Kosher salt

(Not the greatest of pictures.)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

No-Knead Nutella and Roasted Hazelnut Challah

I took this recipe from Steamy Kitchen who took it from the book Artisian Bread Five Minutes a Day. I've since bought the book because I enjoyed this recipe so much. It's a bit labor intensive (we didn't get to enjoy our bread until about noon on the Saturday morning that I made it despite starting on it around 9:30 a.m. -- but most of the time is waiting and baking), a bit messy, and with buying the honey, hazelnuts (I had some leftover from the Scallops with Hazelnut Brown Butter Recipe) and Nutella it's not necessarily an inexpensive bread. But I love challah (I wonder what would happen if you made french toast with this challah!?!) and it was fun to make.

On to the recipe (taken from Steamy Kitchen):

You start by mixing the master dough first, let that rest overnight in the refrigerator, then the next day, pinch off a grapefruit sized piece of dough (1lb) to use for a loaf of Challah. Return the rest to the refrigerator to use for another day.

1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tbl instant yeast
1 1/2 tbl kosher salt (1 1/2 tsp table salt)
4 lg eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
7 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, water, honey, melted butter, yeast and salt. Stir well with a wooden spoon. Add in the flour. STIR, BABY STIR!!! Stir until you don't see any more dry bits of flour. Cover (not airtight) and stick it in the refrigerator overnight, or up to 4 days. The longer you let it fart around in the refrigerator (literally!), the better tasting the dough will be.
pssst....if you want, you can let it rise for 2 hours on the counter, pinch off the dough that you need to make your Challah. However, I've found that with only a 2-hour rise, the bread isn't very flavorful. Still good, but definitely not as good as if you had let it sit 1-4 days in the refrigerator.

Nutella and Roasted Hazelnut Challah adaptation of Challah recipe from from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

1 lb of Master Challah Dough (above) about a grapefruit sized chunk of dough
4 1/2 tbl Nutellasmall handful of hazelnuts
1 egg + 1 tbl water, whisked to make egg wash

The first thing you need to do is take that master dough out of the refrigerator, grab a grapefruit sized chunk of dough. Return the rest of it to the refrigerator to use another time. Generously flour your hands and the dough. Shape the dough into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough and tucking it to the bottom all around, rotating hte ball a quarter-turn as you go. This creates a taut, smooth surface. Let the dough hang out on counter, covered with a towel to take the chill off while you roast your hazelnuts.

Roast Hazelnuts: Grab a medium sized skillet. Turn heat to medium. When hot, add hazelnuts and roast, continually moving the nuts so that they don't burn. You may want to turn your heat to medium-low if the pan gets too hot. Roast until nuts are golden brown and fragrant. Roughly chop the nuts with a sharp chef's knife and cutting board.

Braid Dough: Now, back to the dough. Use palm of your hands and roll the dough into a thick, even log. Cut the dough into 3 equal pieces with knife or dough scraper. (It's easier to cut even pieces when the dough is not round). Roll each piece with your hands to stretch into a long 1 1/2" thick rope. Try not to just stretch it out by pulling, the dough will break. Easiest way is to place dough on counter and roll back and forth with palms of hands, starting in the middle and hands move out which stretching the dough a bit. Don't worry about getting it to look pretty, just try to get each piece even sized.

Time to add the Nutella. Take one piece of dough. Use side of your hand to press and create an indent in the middle of the strand. Spread about 1 1/2 tbl of Nutella in this indent.

Bring up the sides of the dough, encasing the Nutella and pinch dough closed. Repeat with other strands. It's a bit messy and next time I'll try and make deeper, wider holes so less Nutella squirts out the top.
Pinch it up!

Time to braid. Start in the middle and braid. Pinch ends, tuck under. Now braid the other side, pinch and tuck. Start braid from the middle (instead of top) so that it tapers evenly at both ends.

Cover with towel and let rest for 1-1/2 hours. 20 minutes prior to baking, preheat your oven to 350F. When dough is ready, brush top with egg wash and sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts. Bake for 25 minutes.

It's as good as it looks!