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United Kingdom of F’in’ Delicious

Yes, I’ve been terribly delinquent in posting.  BUT! (and isn’t there always a “but”?) I do have a good excuse.  Mr. Kitchen and I are finally legally a Mr. & Mrs.! We were wed in a beautiful ceremony in upstate New York, and afterwards, we whisked ourselves away for a truly amazing honeymoon in London and Scotland. What’s this got to do with food (other than providing an excuse for not posting)?  While on our honeymoon, we had two of the best meals we’ve ever had.   You know that cliche that food in the U.K. is boring and bland? Don’t you believe it.

One was a gift from our darling bridesmaids — dinner for two at Ramsay’s at Claridge’s in London.  I wish that we had had the opportunity to take photos of our dishes, cause let me tell you — nobody plates like Gordon Ramsay.  The dining room, surprisingly, wasn’t overly stuffy, despite being located in the veritable institution of class that is Claridge’s.  We  ate ourselves silly through three courses that had us tasting roasted loin of rabbit, thai-spiced lobster ravioli, a delectable roast loin of pork, a light and delicate john dorry and desserts that knocked our socks off — a dark chocolate, raspberry and praline sphere, and a gingerbread souffle with a blackcurrant sorbet for my hubby.  I can’t even begin to describe how beautifully blended each dish was — flavors were in turns surprising and comforting, but always balanced.   Fine dining in London is no joke.  Watching our servers was like watching the ballet – everyone flowing together, mostly in groups, in what I swear were synchronized steps.

Mr. Kitchen and I are sightseeing types — we’re not prone to lying on beaches.  We love history and exploring a new city is a past-time that we both have really enjoyed. (Except driving in said new cities.  That one nearly ended our marriage before it really got started.)  We had run ourselves pretty ragged running around London and then Scotland, until we got to Skye, which is the. most. beautiful. place. on. earth.  Yes. Each word needed its own punctuation.  It’s that damn gorgeous.  And the seafood!  If you like seafood, I’m convinced you’ll never find better than on that island.

Some of the island looks like this.

And where we were staying? It looked like this.

View from Carter's Rest, Skye

View from Carter's Rest, Skye

We spent two nights there, relaxing and taking in the beautiful countryside.  Little did we know, one of the top 35 restaurants in the world was just down the road in the middle of nowhere.  The Three Chimneys is completely unassuming.  You’d never know it was there and you’d definitely never expect a fine dining experience that is equal parts sophisticated and warm and welcoming.  Everyone there was incredibly friendly, but the restaurant itself offers truly superb service.  When the chef, Michael Smith, found out we were traveling from New York on our honeymoon, he invited us to come chat with him in the kitchen at the end of the night.  I almost keeled over! I immediately bought two of his cookbooks, and he signed them both and then gave us copies of the night’s menu.  We did manage to sneak some photos with our phones of our dishes — Sadly, they don’t do the meal justice.   We did the seven course tasting menu, which is not for the faint of heart.  All of the food is locally sourced and really, it’s worth the trip to Skye alone for a meal here.  At one point, halfway through dessert, I turned to Mr. Kitchen and said, “I don’t think I can do it.  I just don’t think I can finish.”  Mr. Kitchen, who was well into a fine Talisker, said, “Oh you’re gonna man up and finish that dessert because that’s a Drambuie dipping sauce.  I said Drambuieeee!”  When our server came to ask if we had finished, I gave him a pitiful look and said, “My husband said I need to man up and finish this.  I’m gonna need another minute.”  He returned a few minutes later with a plate of mini desserts.  He was evil.  In the best way possible.

I present below, the menu and photos of most of our courses, from The Three Chimneys.  Next up — I try my hand at jelly doughnuts and I discover the beauty of a nutella mousse!

An Amouse Bouche Terrine of Seafood (this wasn’t on the menu, it was a surprise first course)

Terrine Three Chimneys

Terrine Three Chimneys

Armadale Mackarel Tartare with Tattie Scones, Glendale Mesculun & Apple

Tartare Three Chimneys

Tartare Three Chimneys

Crab Risotto with Shellfish Essence and Truckle Wafer

Crab Risotto Three Chimneys

Crab Risotto Three Chimneys

A Selection of Broadford Cold & Hot Smoked with Farm Quail Egg

Smoked Fish Three Chimneys

Smoked Fish Three Chimneys

 Sconser King Scallop with Hazlenut Crust, Split Pea  & Ham Hough Purry

(Sadly, no photo – we were too busy eating to take the photo)

Three Loch Harport Oysters with Cucumber & Mint Jelly, Homemade Creme Fraiche & Loch Etive Trout Caviar

(served with ice cold vodka)

Oysters Three Chimneys

Oysters Three Chimneys

Roast Fillet & Shredded Shin of Lochlash Beef with Pearl Barley and Totaig Vegetable Broth, Horseradish 

Beef Three Chimneys

Beef Three Chimneys

 Dessert — Hot Marmalade Pudding Souffle with Drambuie Syrup and Mealie Ice Cream

Marmalade Souffle Three Chimneys

Marmalade Souffle Three Chimneys

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Cognac Chocolate Raspberry Lava Cakes

I was too busy eating these lava cakes on Valentine’s Day and forgot to blog them.  Chocolate lava cakes, while so luscious and rich, are deceptively simple.  The “lava” is really just uncooked batter, pooling in the center.  I could kick myself for not blogging these earlier because lava cakes are also a perfect date recipe — if you’re cooking a dinner at home, the batter can be made earlier in the day and spooned into a muffin pan.  At just eight minutes cooking time, you can pop these in the oven while clearing the dishes from dinner, and voila! amazing rich delicious hot chocolate cakes.  While lots of lava cake recipes generally suggest serving it with a raspberry sauce, I took a twist on that and decided to just stick a couple of whole raspberries in the center of each cake.  Feel free to omit if you just want the oozy chocolate.  I also added cognac to my batter to give it a warm kick — raspberries, chocolate and cognac are my idea of a perfect combination.  You can serve it with some fresh whipped cream, or even ice cream.  (Mr. Kitchen will put ice cream on just about anything.)
Cognac Chocolate Raspberry Lava Cakes

Cognac Chocolate Raspberry Lava Cakes

Cognac Raspberry Chocolate Lava Cakes

Adapted from a Paula Deen Recipe
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 ounces semisweet chocolate
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 stick) butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 large eggs
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons Cognac
1/2 cup raspberries, rinsed (optional)
Butter a medium sized muffin pan and preheat the oven to 425°.
In a double boiler, melt the butter and add chocolate.  (For a makeshift double boiler, put a heatproof bowl in a simmering pot of water — it’s better to have the bowl touching the water than the bowl touching the sides of the pot.) As the chocolate begins to melt, remove the bowl from the water.  Continue mixing the chocolate and butter until perfectly smooth and fully incorporated.  Add the cognac and vanilla and mix together.  In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs and egg yolks, and then add the sugar.  Mix into the chocolate.  Stir in the flour until smooth.
If you’re using the raspberries, spoon a tablespoon of the batter into each muffin space in the pan (assuming 12).  Put two whole raspberries into each muffin space, taking care to keep the raspberries in the center.  Spoon remaining mixture into each space.  Bake for 8-10 minutes on the center rack of the oven.  Cakes are done when the sides are set and the top is no longer runny.  Top with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar, fresh whipped cream, ice cream or nothing at all!
Chocolate

OMG Chocolate

Isolating yolks for the cognac raspberry chocolate lava cakes

Isolating yolks for the Cognac Chocolate Raspberry Lava Cakes

Mixing in the flour for the Cognac Chocolate Raspberry Lava Cakes

Mixing in the flour for the Cognac Chocolate Raspberry Lava Cakes

Pouring the batter for the Cognac Chocolate Raspberry Lava Cakes

Pouring the batter for the Cognac Chocolate Raspberry Lava Cakes

Cognac Chocolate Raspberry Lava Cakes

Cognac Chocolate Raspberry Lava Cakes

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Super Brownies for the Super Bowl

It’s been a busy couple of months around the Kitchen, with the holidays and wedding planning taking up much of our time.  This past week was my birthday, and Mr. Kitchen got me an awesome present — a gift certificate for a workshop with DessertTruck here in NYC, where I will be learning to make macaroons!

Since it’s Super Bowl Sunday, I wanted to pass along a new recipe for these fantastic brownies — with three types of chocolate (baker’s unsweetened, dark, and semi-sweet) and a generous heaping of peanut butter, they’re not too sweet but incredibly rich.

They don’t take long to make, so if you’re planning to head to a party for this evening’s 6:30 kick off, you’ve still got time!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Brownies

Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

Adapted from a Martha Stewart Recipe

The Batter 

1 stick butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for buttering baking pan

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate (Baker’s provides 1 oz squares, if you’re using a bar, chop the chocolate into chunks)

1 ounce dark chocolate

4 ounces semisweet chocolate morsels,  plus an extra 2 ounces for chocolate chunks in the brownies

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Peanut Butter Mixture

1/2 stick of butter (melted)

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

3/4 cup smooth peanut butter

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Butter an 8-inch square baking pan.

Put butter in a double-boiler (set a heatproof over a pan of simmering water).  Stir until melted and add chocolate (unsweetened, dark and 4 ounces of the semi sweet morsels), mixing until the chocolate is fully melted and incorporated into the butter. Let cool slightly.

Whisk granulated sugar into chocolate mixture. Add eggs, and whisk until mixture is smooth. Stir in vanilla.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder and add flour mixture to chocolate mixture.  Stir until well incorporated (about 3-4 minutes).   Stir in the remaining chocolate morsels.

To make the peanut butter swirl mixture, stir together butter, confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, and vanilla in a bowl until smooth.  I’ve found that melting the butter in a double boiler, adding the sugar and then the peanut butter and whisking together works well.  Just be sure to let the butter cool slightly before adding everything else. 

When pouring the batter and peanut butter filling, you’ll have to work quickly.  Pour one-half the batter into the buttered pan and spread it evenly with a rubber spatula. Drop heaps of peanut butter filling (about 2 tablespoons each) on the batter, spacing about 1 inch apart. This should amount to about half the peanut butter filling.  Pour the remaining batter on top, and gently spread to fill pan. Drop heaps of remaining peanut butter filling on top. Gently swirl peanut butter filling into batter with a butter knife, running the knife lengthwise and crosswise, with the tip of the knife hitting the bottom of the pan.

Bake about 45-50 minutes in center rack of oven, until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into brownies comes out with a few crumbs but is not wet, about 45 minutes. Let cool in pan, slice and remove and let cool completely on a rack.  

A trick for cutting brownies:  Use a plastic knife! I don’t know why, but it stops the brownies from crumbling/cracking/falling apart while cutting.

Melting the chocolate for triple chocolate peanut butter brownies

Melting the chocolate for triple chocolate peanut butter brownies

Mixing the batter for triple chocolate peanut butter brownies

Mixing the batter for triple chocolate peanut butter brownies

Mixing the peanut butter for triple chocolate peanut butter brownies

Mixing the peanut butter for triple chocolate peanut butter brownies

Mixing in the peanut butter for triple chocolate peanut butter brownies

Mixing in the peanut butter for triple chocolate peanut butter brownies

Pre-bake triple chocolate peanut butter brownies

Pre-bake triple chocolate peanut butter brownies

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Christmas Bread Pudding

Things have been super busy in Casa del Kitchen as we get ready for the holidays.  If you’re like us and you spend your holidays traveling and not hosting, the lead-up gets spent in frenetic travel preparation.  There’s been lots of shopping, wrapping, late work nights to get everything done before year’s end, and this week, we’re traveling to see family for the holidays.  Sadly, it’s also one of the times of year where I find myself not cooking much.  We’ve been subsisting on quick meals and take-out over the last two weeks, and I’m definitely ready for some fabulous home cooked treats.  Lucky for us, we’ll be seeing both our families over the next few weeks, and we’ll likely be stuffed to the gills for the next month!  I did, however, recently find time to make this delicious apple walnut raisin bread pudding, which I think would make a tasty addition to any holiday spread.  It’s also a great recipe to make ahead — just reheat in the oven during dinner, and serve warm with some fresh whipped cream (or, if you’re an ice cream lover like Mr. Kitchen, a scoop of vanilla).

On a separate note, Mr. Kitchen and I exchanged our gifts today and he got me a super kick-ass netbook so I hope to be posting more regularly!

apple walnut raisin bread pudding
Apple Walnut Raisin Bread Pudding

Apple Walnut Raisin Bread Pudding

1 loaf Challah Bread (cubed and crusts removed)

3 apples, diced

2 tbsp butter

1/2 cup walnuts

1/2 cup raisins

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1/4 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp nutmeg

6 eggs

1 tbsp cornstarch

Preheat oven to 350º

Line a baking sheet with tinfoil and put the bread cubes in the pan and roast in the oven until lightly browned (about 10-15 minutes).  Remove from oven and let cool, and then put the bread into a buttered 13 x 9 baking dish.  Leave the oven on.

In a medium sauce pan, cook the apples, butter and sugar until the apples are a bit soft (about 5 minutes).   Pour the apple mixture over the bread cubes in the baking dish.  Add raisins and walnuts to pan and gently toss to mix apples, bread, walnuts and raisins together.

In a mixing bowl, beat the brown sugar, heavy cream, milk and spices together.  Add eggs one at a team and beat together.  Add cornstarch and beat for 2-3 minutes until fully incorporated.

Pour the custard over the bread mixture and let set for 20-30 minutes, until the bread soaks up the liquid a bit.  Place in the middle rack of the oven and cook for about one hour, or until golden brown and the bread offers a bit of resistance in the middle from a gentle touch.

Diced apples for the apple walnut raisin bread pudding

Diced apples for the apple walnut raisin bread pudding

Apples mixed with the bread cubes

Apples mixed with the bread cubes

Letting the custard soak into the apple raisin walnut bread pudding

Letting the custard soak into the apple raisin walnut bread pudding

Baked Apple Raisin Walnut Bread Pudding

Baked Apple Raisin Walnut Bread Pudding

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