Friday, June 18, 2010

Cajun Night i.e. Gumbo and Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Meringues

Our initial plan, back when Cajun night was to be held on Derby Day, was making Mint Julep Ice Cream. We tried and unfortunately the custard base curdled putting us back at square one; we blame the tricky advice to check for coating on a wooden spoon. Meg and I became concerned that Cajun night was cursed between the failed planning attempts and now the failed dessert.

But we were determined and started on Paula Deen's Gumbo anyway. Meg made the roux and I did lots of dicing. Everything smelled delicious and then I discovered I left the onion and tomatoes at home, which meant more stairs thanks to our walk-ups. So I headed home to regroup, pick up the ingredients and come up with a new dessert.

In my clipped recipes I stumbled on Every Day Food's Mocha-Chip Meringues and knew I had an easy option that wouldn't require more time at the grocery store. We followed the recipe cutting the espresso, substituting peanut butter chips for chocolate and frantically pulling them out of the oven approximately 8 minutes early due to a burning odor. Fortunately it was just the parchment paper and our curse was broken!

Initially I scooped the meringues with a melon baller, which gave them a lovely consistent round shape, but I ended up using the recommended drop method as meringue is sticky!! Meg smoothed with hot water and we were set. These meringues were great - airy, crispy and thanks to the cocoa marginally less sweet than usual while still completely addictive.

The gumbo was addictive as well - super savory, slightly thick and packed with flavor though not as spicy as expected. Perhaps because we only had a half portion of the andouille? My one warning regarding the gumbo is it takes MUCH longer than the recipe describes. We spent from roughly 2 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. preparing it. Dinner was late but as usual the wait was worth it. I'd recommend both of these recipes.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Almond Encrusted Salmon with Dill and Kale Chips

This made for a quick, light summer dinner. It was especially nice that both items cooked for roughly the same amount of time at the same temperature, which cut down on the heating up the kitchen factor. Yay!

The sweet nuttiness of almonds and bright taste of dill and lemon mellow out the salmon, which cooks up very tender. The lemon was an afterthought for me but I think you could up it easily by squeezing additional juice into the egg white mixture before coating the salmon. For me I'd just make it again this way.

I have less words at the moment being busy with a myriad of things at the moment but I'll be back to a regular schedule and my usual verbosity soon. Please bear with me as I figure out important things like where I'll be living come July 1!

Almond Encrusted Salmon with Dill
6 oz. Salmon
1/2 cup Almond Meal (Trader Joe's has this at a great price.)

3 Tbsp. Dill, pulled off the stem
1 Egg White
1/2 Small Lemon, cut off a decorative thin slice and reserve the rest
(as always everything is approximate)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Place the almond meal on a plate, spread the dill evenly across the top. Put the egg white in a large bowl. Coat the salmon in egg white. Dredge it through the almond meal/dill mixture to coat thoroughly.
3. Put on a baking sheet or shallow baking dish. Squeeze lemon over top. Place in oven for approximately 20 minutes, flipping it at the halfway point to make the outside for a light crust.

Kale Chips*
1 Bunch Curly Kale
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. If you're lazy cover the baking sheet with foil.
2. Remove the stalks from the kale. Tear it into chunks. Place in a large bowl.
2. Add olive oil and toss the kale to coat it.
3. Place on baking sheet in roughly a single layer and sprinkle with salt. Bake in the oven for approximately 15 minutes, flipping halfway through. It should be lightly browned on the edges when done. 

*The kale was cooked slower and at a lower temperature this time, which resulted in more green and less brown, a plus.