From The Bakery
Written By Calvin Virgilio
The priorities for Christmas in our house go something like this: 1. God 2. Food 3. Family. Okay, so perhaps I’m being a bit dramatic putting food before family, but what we eat between Christmas Eve and Christmas evening certainly has its importance. On Christmas Eve, we celebrate the Italian feast of the seven fishes. On Christmas day, we’ve cooked everything from prime rib and Yorkshire pudding to roasting a whole goose. And while both of these meals are two of my yearly favorites, it is the Christmas breakfast that I’ve come to enjoy the most.
Once my family has finished opening gifts on Christmas morning, my two brothers will start playing with their latest video game, my mom will be relaxing on the couch and my dad will head to the kitchen to get another round of coffee brewing. Since my mom is always in charge of cooking Christmas dinner, I try to help her out by taking the role of the breakfast chef. This year, I’m planning to serve a family favorite: pumpkin pancakes with apple cider syrup. This is a recipe that my mom has used for years at the bed and breakfast. The flavor of pumpkin paired with sweet apple cider is sure to be the perfect ending to Christmas morning.
Pumpkin Pancakes with Hot Apple Cider Syrup
1 ½ cups apple cider
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup corn syrup
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 granny-smith apples, cored and cut into small dice
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 ½ cups buttermilk
1 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree
4 egg yolks
½ cup salted butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 egg whites
Cooking the Cider Syrup
In a saucepan, bring to a boil all of the ingredients except for the diced apples. Once the mixture has come to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, or until the mixture is the consistency of maple syrup. Just before serving, add the diced apples and heat for several minutes until the apples are soft.
Making the Pancakes
Sift the dry ingredients, combine them in a bowl and mix well. In a separate bowl, combine and mix the buttermilk, pumpkin puree, egg yolks, butter and vanilla. Once mixed, add to them to the dry ingredients and stir just until blended. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites with an electric beater until they are stiff, but not dry (see photo below for an example of how the egg whites should look). Once the egg whites are stiff, fold them into the pancake batter.
Beat the eggs whites with an electric mixer until they are white and fully, then fold them into the batter.
Once the batter is ready, melt 1 tablespoon of butter on a griddle over medium-low heat. Scoop pancake batter onto the griddle using a 1/3 measuring cup. Cook pancakes on one side for 4-5 minutes, then check to see if they are ready to flip. Once you flip the pancakes, they should only take a few more minutes until they’re ready to serve.
Serve pancakes with a slice of butter and top them with the apple cider syrup. Enjoy!
For the instructional video visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkkmNrPw3-Qv
When it comes to outdoor summer cooking, burgers, ribs and bbq come to mind. But our personal favorite meal to cook outdoors is paella. Though paella can be cooked any time of year on a stove, the smokiness that comes from cooking over a wood-burning fire will enhance the flavor of the overall dish. So light the fire pit, grab the paella pan, and invite your friends for a great outdoor meal that everyone will remember.
Paella is a dish that originated in Valencia, Spain. Named after the giant pan that it's cooked in, paella can come in many forms and ingredient combinations. Though you are free to use any combination of meat and seafood, we recommend using a few essential ingredients.
Medium grain rice, such as bomba or callaspara rice, have the right texture for paella and soak up all of the flavors of the dish.
Saffron threads give the paella a yellow color and distinct flavor that can’t come from any substitute.
Spanish chorizo will give the paella a spicy and smoky taste.
Hot seafood stock, preferably homemade, is the best liquid base to cook the rice.
A licorice-flavored liqueur, such as Pernod, will enhance the seafood flavor of the paella.
We recommend building the fire pit with a mix of hard wood and wood-charcoal briquettes. This will give a nice smokiness and consistent heat for the large paella pan. Build the fire and allow it to burn down to hot coals. While the fire burns, prep your ingredients.
2.5 cups Rice (bomba or callaspara rice preferred)
2 lobsters, halved (ask your fishmonger to do this)
1-2 lbs. medium wild shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 lb. fresh calamari, cleaned and cut into rings
1-2 lbs. chicken breast, cut into one inch pieces
1 lb. Spanish Chorizo, cut into ½ inch thick rounds
7 cups hot seafood stock (homemade stock preferred)
½ cup licorice-flavored liqueur (Pernod is preferred)
3 bell peppers cut into strips
2 cups thawed petite peas
2 cups chopped leaks
2 Tbs. minced garlic
1 Tbs. Smoked Paprika
1/2 tsp. Saffron threads
2 lemons cut into wedges
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup freshc chopped parsley
Kosher salt to taste
Making the Paella
After paella pan has become hot over the fire, drizzle the olive oil and begin sautéing your sofrito. The sofrito is the base of aromatic ingredients that is sautéed in olive oil. For our paella, the sofrito is composed of chopped leeks, garlic, and chorizo. Add these ingredients to the olive oil, one by one, layering the flavors.
Once your sofrito is sautéed and fragrant, add the chicken and chorizo to the pan and sauté for three to four minutes. Next add your smoked paprika and toss ingredients once more. Then, add your rice and toss until ingredients are combined.
Once the rice has been combined, add hot seafood stock, one cup at a time, and stir as you go. After the stock is added, mix the saffron threads into your paella.
Now that the stock and saffron is mixed in, restrain the urge to stir your paella until the liquid has boiled down and the rice has cooked. Not stirring your paella will allow a toasted, flavorful crust known as the soccarat to form on the bottom of the pan.
After the liquid has boiled down, add your Pernod and stir the Paella to incorporate the liqueur. Next, add your bell peppers, shrimp, lobster and petite peas. We recommend covering the pan with tin foil and allowing the heat to cook your final seafood ingredients.
Once the shrimp is cooked and the lobster has turned red, sprinkle the paella with fresh parsley. Serve paella with lemon wedges, and be sure to scrape some of the soccarat on the bottom of the pan onto each plate. Enjoy!
Everyone has his or her own opinion on when summer starts. For me, it’s when I see soft-shell crabs in the seafood display at the grocery store.
Soft-shell crabs are just regular crabs (blue crabs in the U.S.) that have outgrown their shells. They are full of fresh crab flavor without the hassle of dealing with the hard crab shell.
Though there are many delicious ways to cook soft shells, my favorite recipe involves breading and frying the crabs in a tempura style, and topping them with a sweet citrus gastrique! The combination of tender crab meat coupled with Asian flavorings is sure to get you in the summer state of mind.
Tempura Soft-shell Crab w/Oriental Salad & Citrus Gastrique
Serves 2 - 4
4 large cleaned soft shells – (Ask your fishmonger to prepare them cleaned for you)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 beaten egg
1-cup cold seltzer water
Oil for frying
Season soft shells with salt & pepper
Combine the next six ingredients in another medium bowl – stir well
Add seltzer water & beaten egg to flour/cornstarch mixture and whisk until smooth
3/4-cup soy sauce
1/2-cup sesame oil
1/4 cup Asian Chili garlic sauce or to taste
Combine all ingredients and stir well
1 lb angel hair pasta, cooked al dente and tossed w/ olive oil
1 julienned red pepper
1 julienned yellow or orange pepper
1-cup julienned Napa cabbage
2 cups steamed broccoli florets
1 bunch sliced scallions
1/2 bunch cilantro – chopped - additional for garnish
1/2 cup salted peanuts (optional) – additional for garnish
Toss vegetables with pasta and top with dressing – toss until well combined
Definition of a Gastrique: a gastrique is a sweet-and-sour sauce at its simplest. You caramelize sugar (or sometimes honey), combine it with equal parts vinegar, and reduce it slightly to make a tart, slightly thickened syrup. (Definition from Seriouseats.com)
1/2-cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and heat over medium flame, stir occasionally and bring to a simmer. Continue to heat until all sugar is dissolved and mixture is clear.
Remove from heat and pour into a heatproof pitcher.
Heat oil until almost smoking.
While oil is heating dip the soft shell into tempura batter, shaking off any excess.
First, carefully holding the top of the soft shell, drag the legs through the oil for 30 seconds. This will allow the individual legs to fry separately instead of together. Then, lay the softshell top side down, into the oil. Fry 2-3 minutes or until golden. Flip the softshell over and continue frying for an additional 2-3 minutes.
Remove from the fryer and allow draining on paper towel.
To serve - mound the salad into the center of a platter.
Arrange the softshell around the salad.
Drizzle the gastrique over the entire platter
Garnish with additional chopped peanuts and chopped cilantro.
We all know the first half of the story: George Washington chopped down the cherry tree. But do you know what he did with those cherries? He made dessert!
For those who love sour cherries but don’t have time to make a pie~ A delicious take on the favorite “up-side down” cake. A buttery cake made extra moist with almond paste and topped with a sweetened mix of sour cherries. The only way to improve it is to serve it with a dollop of whipped cream!
For the Cherry Topping
1 - 24 oz jar sour cherries
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4-cup light brown sugar
1. Drain cherries and set aside
2. Combine butter and brown sugar in a medium saucepan and heat over low heat until sugar is melted.
3. Stir in cherries, increase the heat to medium-high and bring just to a boil
4. The cherries should be soft but still maintain their shape. Use a slotted soon to transfer cherries to a baking sheet to cool.
5. Once cherries are cool arrange them in the bottom of the prepared pan.
6. Bring the sugar mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat, cook it without stirring for 3 minutes and pour it over the cherries
For the CakeIngredients
10 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup almond paste – crumbles
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs – room temp
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1. Combine the flour, baking powder, cornmeal and salt in a medium bowl, stir to combine.
2. Combine the butter, almond paste, and granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream with an electric mixer on medium – high until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice as necessary. With the mixer on low speed add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. When all the eggs have been added, turn the mixer to high speed and beat until the mixture is light and increased in volume, about 2 minutes. Stir in the vanilla and almond extract.
3. With the mixer running on low speed stir in 1/3 of flour mixture. Stir in 1/2 milk. Repeat with the remaining flour and milk, ending with the flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat the batter on high speed for 30 seconds.
4. Pour batter over cherries; gently spread it into an even layer with a spatula.
5. Bake until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes.
6. Transfer to wire rack and let stand for 5 minutes.
7. After 5 minutes, invert cake onto serving plate, replacing fruit that may have stuck to bottom of pan. Let cake cook for 20 minutes then serve or serve at room temperature
8. Store uneaten cake (if any) loosely covered with plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 2 days
I hope your week is going well, and you are looking forward to the holiday weekend. With George Washington’s birthday approaching, we decided to get patriotic and do a cherry cornmeal cake on the baked good side. We also have a new, very delicious, salted caramel pie on the menu. It has a graham cracker crust drizzled with chocolate, bakery-made salted caramel, bakery-made whipped cream and topped with chocolate shavings.
On the savory side, the Braised Asian beef short ribs with wasabi mashed potatoes are back on the menu. These short ribs are browned and then braised in Asian-infused juices for two hours. We then used those juices to make an amazing gravy that covers the short ribs.
Thanks and see you at the bakery!