Trick or Treat….. Dog Biscuits

Close to ten years ago we got a new dog and named her Caper.  How clever! in the food business having a pet with a food name! Little did we know this dog decided to use the other definition of the word : oh! yes! she is playful, loves to frolic, leap, hop and is very fond of escapades and pranks! What can I say, we love her! and like most pet owners we treat her like a member of the family.

For the past two years we have been getting our beef from an organic farm in Shelburne and when Sally ( the owner) offered me the liver along with a “doggie biscuit” recipe I could not turn it down.  Especially when she mentioned that her dogs were at their most obedient when she had those biscuits in her pocket. She was right,  whenever I have these treats on hand Caper behaves as if she just got out of finishing school. So for you pet owners/lovers here is the recipe.  

DOG LIVER COOKIES

  • 1 pound liver
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)

In the bowl of a food processor mix chop the liver along with the egg.  Add flour, cornmeal and garlic powder if using and process until it comes together.  Drop into a bowl and mix again to totally incorporate the ingredients. The mixture will be a bit like a cake batter.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Cover baking sheets with parchment paper and drop the batter by spoonfuls about one inch apart.  Bake 10 to 12 minutes. This recipe makes about 2 to 3 dozens cookies depending on your spoonfull.  Keep them in the fridge or better, freeze and microwave when ready to give.  Caper likes them frozen as well.

NOTE: Sally’s note on my recipe card says: “Dog will do whatever you want- even come- guaranteed.”  I love it! By the way the house will smell a bit like liver while you are baking the cookies.  I boil a stick of cinnamon in water afterwards to get rid of the lingering smell.

From my kitchen to yours!

CK, la fille du boucher.

Schofield Clover

When our son Emmet came back from a year living in New Zealand last winter, not only had he discovered a beautiful country, made new friends and created memories to last a lifetime; he came back with a new love: MIixology.

Emmet created this cocktail back in September when he was asked to represent the restaurant he works at for the Whiskey Live Boston event.  As I watched him perfecting his recipe, getting inventive, passionate and excited about the ingredients I could not help smiling and thinking that the apple does not fall far from the tree.

So here it is, the drink that won the Whiskey Live Boston event and that Emmet likes to describe as a “fall time” lemonade: The Schofield Clover.  Of course, if you want the real deal, or a number of other inventive cocktails, head to Harvard Square and visit Upstairs on the Square (at 91 Winthrop Street, Cambridge).

SCHOFIELD CLOVER  (one serving)

  • 2 oz Bourbon
  • 1/2 oz allspice liqueur
  • 1/2 oz orgeat syrup
  • 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1 to 2 dashes cherry bitters
  • garnish with an orange zest

Add all ingredients into a Boston shaker and shake.  Pour into a rocks over ice or up in a chilled martini glass.  Then use a “channel knife” to zest the drink with the orange.  Using a channel knife releases the citrus oils and adds flavor to the drink. The orange peel in the drink is merely a garnish.

NOTE:  Emmet recommends using Evan Williams Kentucky Straight Bourbon.  He says it is inexpensive and perfect for mixing but, by all means you can use your favorite Bourbon.  Orgeat is a sweet almond syrup available at most liquor stores, and is most commonly attributed to the unique taste found in a cocktail known as a “Mai Tai”. Allspice liqueur (also called Allspice Dram) is a bit more difficult to find, but St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram is probably the most popular.

From my kitchen to yours!

CK, la fille du boucher  (as well as EK the butcher’s grandson)

Crème Brûlée (for 35)

What happens when you mix cream, eggs, sugar and a bit of vanilla? Crème Brûlée!  It is so simple and yet makes your guests feel doted on and happy. The little “tap tap” of your spoon on the caramelized sugar, the delicate breaking of it like shards of stained glass, and finally digging into that creamy custard are what crème brûlée is all about.

This recipe was passed on to me years ago when I used to caterer for my friend Diane.  It was our go-to recipe: simple, delicious and it never failed! I wish I had written the name of the book it came from, all I have left is an old stained xerox of the recipe titled “Classic Crème Brûlée”.

This past weekend I had to make it for a crowd: 35 crèmes brûlées for an international pot luck dinner.  I could not ask for a simpler recipe – within 2 hours I was done (minus the brûlée part).  If you too are making it for a crowd, never more than double the recipe in one go – otherwise all of the ingredients might not mix properly.

CRÈME BRÛLÉE

  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar for the caramelized tops

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is thick and pale yellow.  Add cream and vanilla and continue to whisk until well blended.

Divide the mixture among 6 ramequins or custard cups.  Place in a water bath (see note) and bake until set around the edges, but still wobbly in the center; about 40 to 50 minutes.  Remove from oven and leave in the water bath until cooled.  Remove cups from the water bath and chill for at least 2 hours up to 2 days.

When ready to serve, sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of sugar over each custard.  For best results, use a small hand-held torch to melt sugar.  If you don’t have a torch, place under the broiler until the sugar melts.  Re-chill the custards for about 10 minutes before serving. This recipe makes 6 servings

NOTE: to secure the ramequins/custard cups on the sheet pan, wet a dish towel and lay in the sheet pan, making sure none of the fabric hangs over the pan.  Place the containers on the towel and once the mixture is in the ramequins, slowly pour hot water in the sheet pan bringing the water level half way to the ramequins.  This towel “trick” can be used each time you have to bake small items in a water bath and you don’t want them moving around in the container and spilling their contents.

From my kitchen to yours!

CK, la fille du boucher

Limoncello

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade but “I”….make limoncello! That was the caption on a New Yorker cartoon my daughter sent me a while back. Oh! you know me so well, I thought .  As a food stylist, life does give you lemons and I am not talking figuratively here!

One perk of the job is to bring home delicious food and beautiful produce that is divvied up amongst the team once the shoot is over;  but how many lemons can one bring home?  Being one who always tries to make the most out of leftovers,  four years ago I started making limoncello; recycling those beautiful fruits into gifts for family, friends, clients and co-workers.

I always have a batch going but come October I go in full production to make sure everybody is treated with a small bottle for the Holiday season.  If you start now, you too will be able to enjoy a nice glass of limoncello in December.

LIMONCELLO

  • 10 to 12 lemons
  • 3.5 cups vodka ( 80 proof)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar

Wash, scrub and dry the lemons.  Remove the peel with a vegetable peeler making sure you get as little pith as possible.  The pith is the white fiber between the peel and the lemon and will make the limoncello bitter.

Place the peels in a 2 quarts glass container with a lid.  Pour the vodka over the peels making sure they are fully covered with the liquid.  Cover the container and let sit 4 to 5 weeks in a dark cool place (pantry or basement is great).

When ready the vodka will have a nice yellow coloring and smell lemony.  Make a simple syrup by dissolving the sugar in the water over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Cool to room temperature.  Pour the syrup into the vodka mixture and let stand at room temperature for another day.

Strain the limoncello through a fine mesh colander.  Discard the lemon peels.  Transfer the limoncello in clean bottles.  Seal and label the bottles.  Keep in the fridge or freezer until ready to serve, share or give.

I like mine on crushed ice at the end of a meal as a digestif.

NOTE:  I also make a variation with lime since life also gives me a lot of limes.  Follow the same directions, just substitute limes for lemons.

From my kitchen to yours!

CK, la fille du boucher,

Lobster Stew with cheddar crostini

Two weekends ago,  my family and I all holed away together in New Brunswick for Canadian Thanksgiving.  We wanted to celebrate and mark this special occasion with a traditional feast, but I did not want to commit to staying home all day nursing a turkey and all its accompaniments and miss out on a beautiful hike.  Plus, we will have our turkey next month in the U.S. – not to mention that, lets face it,  by the time October rolls around I am a bit “turkey-ed out,” as I have been cooking (aka styling) thanksgiving spreads for different clients since July.

Lobster seemed to be the perfect solution, and quite fitting since we are on an island where the economy is based on  fishing and lobstering.  My only problem:  how to prepare it.  I wanted it to feel special yet uncomplicated.  I didn’t want to serve it grilled or steamed – something closer to “comfort food” seemed more fitting for October.  Lobster mac & cheese? Lobster pot pie seemed appealing, but I was worried of overcooking the lobster.  Then I thought: how about deconstructing the pot pie? More of a lobster stew with crostini?

Lobster Stew with Crostini

  • Meat from 4 medium lobsters steamed and cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 celery stalks diced
  • 2 medium carrots diced
  • 2 medium parsnips diced
  • 1 large yukon gold potato diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoon butter
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 cups milk
  • salt and pepper

In a large stock pot melt 1 tablespoon butter with the oil.  Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes .  Add the diced vegetables and sautée on medium/high heat covered for 15 minutes, stirring once in a while and checking that the vegetables don’t brown.

Add 2 tablespoon butter. Once melted, add the flour and mix well until fully incorporated.  Cook for 2 minutes.  Add the chicken broth and parsley.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add the milk and return to a simmer.  Add the lobster meat, give the stew a stir and turn off the heat.  All you want to do here is heat the lobster.

Serve in large shallow bowls with the crostini.

Cheddar Crostini

  • one baguette
  • about 1/2 pound mild cheddar

Preheat oven at 400 degrees.

Cut the baguette into 1/2 inch slices on the diagonal to get long slices. Grate or slice the cheddar. On a sheet pan, cover the baguette slices with the cheese and bake in the oven for 8 minutes or until the cheese is melted, bubbly and golden.

NOTE: When getting lobster on the island we steam it in a bit of fresh sea water – if not you can get most fish markets to steam it for you.  As for the crostini, I count 2 per person when serving the stew but make sure there are extras on the table, since we found them quite addictive!

From my kitchen to yours,

CK, la fille du boucher

Roasted Carrots and/or Parsnips

Want a simple side dish? Something so easy it practically cooks itself, bringing out all of the natural flavors? Try roasting vegetables.  In this case I opted for carrots and parsnips.  This time of year they are in season and you can find many varieties of carrots at the farmer’s market.  All you need is fresh carrots, best quality olive oil, coarse sea salt, and herbs, and you have a great side dish.

Roasted Carrots or/and Parsnips

  • 2 bunches carrots or parsnips or a mix of the two
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • 3 tablespoon fresh thyme chopped

Preheat oven at 400 degrees.

Cut off tops and bottoms of carrots and parsnips.  Peel and cut into fat matchsticks about 2 inches long.  To do so, cut the vegetable in half or third depending on the length.  Keep the bottom part intact and quarter or halve the top part depending on its thickness. You want the matchsticks to be close in size so they all roast evenly.

In a bowl, toss the vegetables with the oil, salt and herbs.  Transfer to a baking sheet and roast in the oven 15 to 20 minutes or until tender and golden, turning the vegetables once or twice during cooking time for even browning.  

NOTE: In the spring when baby carrots are available, roast them whole. Try different herbs or flavored oils; experiment and have fun!

From my kitchen to yours,

CK, la fille du boucher

Clam Chowder and Clamming

We had the opportunity to spend last weekend “en famille”.  Those occasions are rare now with everybody’s busy schedules.  I treasure those days where time stands still. There are no outside distractions from phone calls, emails and such.  Our only concern  is where will be our next outing or hike.  We cook a lot, experiment with ingredients a lot, and, needless to say, eat a lot.  Leisurely meals, great conversations, and laughs are what those days are all about.

This weekend marked our last visit to the clam flats and we ended up coming home with more clams than we anticipated.  Clamming is so much fun until you get to the cleaning… which is not so much fun, but in the end very rewarding.  Clam chowder brings to mind summers in New England;  but there is something comforting about eating a big bowl of clam chowder with the fire roaring in the wood stove on a brisk October day. I serve it with a big dose of cracked pepper, a nice crusty bread, and … lots of butter.

Clam Chowder for a crowd    (this recipe serves about 10 to 12)

  • 3 thick slices of bacon diced
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 2 large yukon gold potatoes diced
  • 4 cups chicken broth (you can also use vegetable broth)
  • 3 cups chopped clams
  • 3 cups half and half cream
  • 1 cup bechamel sauce (optional)

In a large pot sautée the bacon in a teaspoon of oil until soft.  Add onion and sautée until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the potatoes and stir to cover with oil and juices   rendered from the onion.  Add the broth and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are starting to get soft.  Add the clams and simmer for 2 minutes.  Add the half and half and let the chowder get hot without boiling.  The chowder can be made ahead of time, cooled down, refrigerated and slowly heated up later or the next day.

NOTE: our family likes a thick chowder.  That’s were the optional 1 cup bechamel comes in.  Melt 3 tablespoon butter in a sauce pan add 1/4 cup flour let it cook slowly for 2 minutes.  Add 1 cup warm milk and whisk until it starts to thicken.  Add to the chowder after the half and half.  

From my kitchen to yours

CK, la fille du boucher