You pretty little darlings are coming home with me tonight. I will use you to create deliciousness the world has never known before. And it involves Nutella.
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.
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)
Armadale Mackarel Tartare with Tattie Scones, Glendale Mesculun & Apple
Crab Risotto with Shellfish Essence and Truckle Wafer
A Selection of Broadford Cold & Hot Smoked with Farm Quail Egg
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)
Roast Fillet & Shredded Shin of Lochlash Beef with Pearl Barley and Totaig Vegetable Broth, Horseradish
Dessert — Hot Marmalade Pudding Souffle with Drambuie Syrup and Mealie Ice Cream
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!
Adapted from a Martha Stewart Recipe
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.
A couple of weeks ago, we Kitchens went out on the North Fork of Long Island to take advantage of the lovely not-quite-Fall weather, wineries and pumpkin picking. Restaurants aren’t exactly plentiful for a good portion of the wine trail on the North Fork, so I thought it might be a good idea to pack snacks. (Otherwise we’d be two car-fulls of drunks on a Sunday afternoon.) I decided on empanadas because they pack a pretty filling punch and are fairly easy to make in decent size numbers. The wineries were super gorgeous! There were pumpkins and delicious looking squash and acres and acres of beautiful vineyards.
Now, I know I’m going to catch flack for my recipe. I don’t use chorizo because I find a lot of it too greasy. I also buy the dough — I’m sorry, but I’ve tried making it and no amount of kneading or tampering with recipes can get the dough to be like La Fey’s. So do yourself a favor and just go and buy La Fey discs for these. Trust me, it’s 10 times easier and they work beautifully in the oven. Goya also makes a decent empanada dough.
Chicken & Sausage Empanadas
2-3 packages of the large La Fey discs. The filling recipe below makes enough for about 24 (20 if you’re packing it in) Extras can be frozen.
4 chicken breasts (medium/large size), cut into small chunks
5 – 6 Italian sausages (hot), diced/chopped into small pieces
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup Chardonnay or other fairly dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 large Spanish onion (diced)
2 heaping tablespoons garlic cloves (diced)
3 Bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup Spanish green olives with pimentos (pitted)
1/8 cup capers
1 green pepper (diced)
1 egg lightly beaten with a teaspoon of water
I find that most of the La Fey discs are pretty well frozen when I buy them, so let these defrost while you’re cooking the mixture. For the filling, in a large (12-14″ pan), heat the 2 tablespoons of oil and add diced onions and garlic and saute until onions are softened (5 minutes). Add diced chicken and sausage and cook on medium high heat, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Add wine, chicken stock, pepper, cumin, bay leaves, green pepper, olives, capers, salt (basically all remaining ingredients). Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, covered, until meat is cooked and sauce has thickened (about 30 mintues). After it’s cooked, let the mixture cool uncovered for about 20-30 minutes.
Take this time to pull apart the dough discs. If you’re using La Fey, they’re generally not separated in the package by wax paper, so be very careful when pulling them apart or the discs will tear. Preheat the oven to 350°. Prepare baking trays for cooking — if you’re making 24 empanadas, you’ll likely need three pans. Lightly lightly grease the pans. For filling the empanadas — if you’ve got a calzone mold, this will be super easy. Place the disc in the mold, spoon in about 3 tablespoons filling and close the mold, which will seal the seams. If you don’t have a mold, it’s really just as simple. Spoon the mixture on to one side, and fold the other half over so it forms a half-circle. Use a fork to seal the edges (just like you would a pie dough for a two-crust pie). Place on baking sheet and repeat for remaining empanadas. Brush with the egg wash and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the empanadas are golden. You can serve these warm or at room temp, and they freeze beautifully!
For the past couple of years, one of my friends has thrown a Bacon Party. (She’s evil, but obviously well-loved.) If you don’t know, a Bacon Party is a potluck party featuring only foods that contain bacon (or fake bacon for the vegetarians). Each year I gain at least 3 lbs from this party. Let me tell you – it’s totally worth it. This year I made a couple of dishes to add to the melee — bacon cheddar knots and a pumpkin pie topped with walnuts, brown sugar and, of course, bacon. Sadly, Mr. Kitchen had to miss the party because he was working. Luckily I came home with two giant Tupperware containers filled with treats. (I know, I’m totally evil, but if I’m not gonna fit in my wedding dress — he’s not fitting into his kilt.)
The cheddar bacon knots were surprisingly easy, though in preparation for that and the pie, Mr. Kitchen and I fried up an entire package of bacon. I could feel the cholesterol and fat seeping into my pores — kinda gross, but damn tasty! For any of you who are thinking that a bacon party is a brilliant idea, it is, but I would recommend starting on some sort of cholesterol medicine now, followed by lots of fiber. On the plus side (like bacon needs another plus side), at least I couldn’t actually feel the presence of my gallbladder after this year’s party.
Knots Dough (Adapted Heavily From Nick Manglieri)
4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 packet active dry yeast
1 2/3 cups warm water
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus oil to coat a baking (jellyroll) pan
3 baking (jelly roll) pans
Bacon Cheddar Filling
3/4 package bacon, cooked
1 8 oz package cheddar cheese (or any cheese you prefer)
Egg wash (1 egg, mixed with about 1 tablespoon water)
Combine flour and salt in large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix yeast into water and let stand for a few minutes until the water fizzes a bit (stir if it doesn’t begin to fizz). Whisk oil into water/yeast mixture. Make a well in the flour and pour water into center. Using a rubber spatula, begin to fold the flour into the water center, gently incorporating and mixing outwards until all of the flour is combined. The dough will be very soft. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit until the dough has risen to double its size (approx 2 hours). After the dough has risen, scrape it into an oiled jelly roll pan. Lightly oil your hands and press the dough into the pan so that it is evenly filled. Cover the pan with plastic wrap (oiled) and let the dough rise again, approximately 1 hour. While the dough is rising, cut the 8 oz block of cheddar into approximately 2 dozen pieces. After the dough has risen for the second time, use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into approximately 24 squares (6 length wise, four depth wise).
Preheat the oven to 350º. Cover 2 baking pans in foil and lightly grease.
Take a square of the dough and place about half a strip of bacon and 1 piece of cheese in the center. Fold two of the opposing corners over each other. With the other two opposing corners, twist them together, forming a knot on top. Place the piece in the pan. Repeat with remaining 23 pieces of dough. Brush all of the knots with the egg was and bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden.