Thursday, March 31, 2011

Buttermilk Biscuits for little Cowpokes

It's Austin Rodeo and to finish their unit of study, my daughter Emma's 2nd grade class is having a round up.  I'm making tomorrows snack tonight - homemade buttermilk biscuits!   Compared to a $2.00 can of ready made with tons of salt and preservatives, this recipe calls for delicious buttermilk.   I also made them a little smaller to fit second graders!   A little butter and it's yum time!

Buttermilk Biscuits

  • 4 C flour
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 1 T baking power
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 2 t salt
  • 1 C shortening, cut into small pieces
  • 2 C buttermilk
  • 1/4 C buttermilk to brush tops with
Directions:   Preheat oven to 400 degrees.   Sift together flour, sugar, baking power, baking soda and salt.   Using your hands mix in shortening until it resembles bread crumbs and holds together when squeezed.   Add buttermilk and again, using your hands fold dry ingredients into buttermilk until a sticky dough forms.

Turn dough onto floured surface.   Fold over several times to create layers and pat out to 1 inch thickness before cutting with biscuit cutter.   Place on ungreased cookie sheet, brush tops with buttermilk and bake for 20 minutes until golden on top.

into the oven they go...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Something comforting about Cinnamon

As I sit in the hospital's cafe, I had to comment on the comfort of cinnamon. My husband Trey is in recovery after full hip replacement surgery. He's sleeping, pain free, warm and oblivious to the world around him. Me, on the other hand, I'm totally exhausted. We haven't been getting much sleep the past 10 days as he's been without pain medication and has been waking up shouting "ouch" and he grips his hip. We left home at 4:45a.m and since he couldn't have anything to eat or drink, I skipped my coffee and breakfast too. It's only now that I'm able to stop and get something. Ah, a cup of coffee and the best cinnamon muffin I've ever had. Though strangers walk around me and Fox News is on the wall mounted TV, I'm comforted by this muffin that has a cinnamon crumbly top. I'm almost transported back to our home, which offers us this beautiful peacefulness each morning. Almost, as my pager next to me rattles a sign that they're moving my husband to his room now and I have to get up and go.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

BEEF - it's what's for dinner - and all natural too!

For this Special Edition of Rider On Recipes, where The Craig Bushon Show is hitting the road via an UStream exclusive, it's all about BEEF!   Kevin Finch from F5 Ranch has provided us with a few cuts of his all natural, no hormones, steroids, additives or preservatives BEEF.   His is fed a custom mix of grain and grass - order a 1/4 or 1/2, which can be custom cut to your liking.   It's then shrink wrapped and delivered to your door.   If you are concerned with where your beef is coming from and what's IN the beef - this is the perfect way to be informed and feel good about what you are serving to your family.   Contact Kevin at 512-914-2033.

F5 Ranch Beef T-Bone and Rib Eye

  • Your choice of F5 cuts of beef, room temperature
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Directions:   Heat your grill, either charcoal or gas.   Put those babies on the grill and cook according to your liking.   If you question the touch test, then use a meat thermometer.   Use this guide...

Rare 125–135 °F (52–57 °C) Red center, gray surface, soft, juicy
Medium rare 135–145 °F (57–63 °C) Dark Pink throughout, gray-brown surface, very juicy
Medium 145–155 °F (63–68 °C) Pink center, becomes gray-brown towards surface
Medium well 155–165 °F (68–74 °C) Thin line of pink, firm texture
Well done 165 °F (74 °C) Gray-brown throughout, tough texture, dry

Once done to your liking, let steaks rest for 10 minutes so they can reabsorb the juices.   Serve with your favorite sides!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Savory Scones

My daughter Emma went to a kids cooking camp over Spring Break and made scones... I had them growing up in England all the time, but they were sweet with strawberry jam and clotted cream.   Today I made them savory, with shallots, rosemary, cheddar cheese and lemon zest.   The flavor combination is delicious!

Savory Scones
with shallots, rosemary, cheddar cheese and lemon zest

  • 2 1/2 C flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/3 C butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 T fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/2 C Irish cheddar cheese, grated
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 C milk
Directions:   Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.   I use the silpat non-stick mat on top of my cookie sheet.   In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.   Cut in butter with your hands or pastry blender until it resembles wet sand.   Add shallots, rosemary, cheese, lemon zest and pepper.   Mix in incorporate and then add the milk, stirring until just mixed through.

Turn dough out onto floured board and press into a rectangle, about 1 inch thick.   Cut into triangles and place on silpat lined baking sheet.   Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Chocolate Mousse a la Julia Child

This weeks Rider On Recipes request was Chocolate Mousse.   After watching the movie Julie and Julia, which is one of my all time favorites (in addition to It's Complicated - love that Alec Baldwin) I was inspired.   I have a 1968 edition of The French Chef Cookbook which was based off Julia's PBS Cooking Show The French Chef.   The book almost instinctively opened to page 24 and there was her recipe for Chocolate Mousse.   It was easy, with very simple steps spelled out and the end results are fabulous!

Chocolate Mousse
courtesy of Julia Child
from The French Chef Cookbook

  • 1 C semi sweet chocolate, broken into bits
  • 4 T strong coffee
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3/4 C superfine sugar
  • 1/4 C orange liqueur
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, unsalted
  • 4 egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 T granulated sugar
Directions:   Place chocolate and coffee in a small bowl and melt, slowly over over a pan of hot water.   Place egg yolks in a separate bowl and start beating with whip while gradually pouring in the sugar in a thin stream.   Continue beating for 2 to 3 minutes until mixture is thick, pale and forms a slowly dissolving ribbon when lifted.   Beat in the liqueur and set bowl on top of pan of almost simmering water.   Beat at moderate speed for 4 to 5 minutes, or until foamy and warm when tested with your finger.   Remove the bowl and beat for a few minutes to cool.

Stir the chocolate again and continue until perfectly smooth.   Gradually beat in the butter then beat the chocolate and butter into the yolks and sugar.

In a large bowl beat the egg whites slowly until they begin to foam, then beat in the salt.   Increase the speed gradually to fast until soft peaks form.   Sprinkle on the sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks are formed.   Stir one fourth of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it; scoop the rest of the egg whites on top and delicately fold them in.

Immediately turn the Mousse into individual cups.   Cover and chill for several hours or overnight.   You may garnish mousse with lightly whipped cream.

And as Julia would always say... "Bon appétit!"

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Pistachio Encrusted Chicken with Mushroom Sauce

To find this weeks recipe, we went to YELP and looked for bad reviews of local restaurants.   Noted not so good comments from Banderas Restaurant at the Renaissance Hotel, which is a beautiful place to stay.  How difficult is it to mess up Pecan Crusted Chicken?!?!   So I made my own version, using pistachio's instead of pecans and then made a quick mushroom sauce that complimented it very well.

Pistachio Encrusted Chicken with Mushroom Sauce

  • Chicken breasts
  • 1 C. pistachios, chopped finely
  • 1/2 C saltines, crushed
  • 1/2 C brown bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 T flour
  • 1 egg, whisked
Mushroom Sauce:
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 C sliced brown mushrooms
  • 1/3 C heavy cream
  • 3 T butter, cut into pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste
Directions:   Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   In a food processor, chop the pistachios finely.   Add saltines and bread crumbs and mix to combine.   Salt and pepper to taste.   To bread the chicken, pat it dry then run it through the flour, the whisked egg and finally into the pistachio mixture, coating well.  I used a silpat on top of a cookie sheet to bake the chicken in the oven for about 35 minutes.   Make sure it is cooked through at the thickest part.

While the chicken is baking, make your sauce.   In a pan with the olive oil, saute the shallots and mushrooms for 5 minutes on medium heat.   Turn the heat down to med-low and add the cream.   Let simmer for a few minutes and season with salt and pepper to taste.   Remove from heat and add the pieces of butter, whisking as it melts.  

To plate, spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.   So good!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Irish Cupcakes

Éirinn go Brách or Irish Cupcakes Forever! 

Say Happy St. Patrick's Day with these moist and liquor filled delights.   This was a test for me, since my oldest daughter Lindsey is moving to Dublin in May with her company.   We're going to have a huge Irish Shin-dig next month and I will serve these!

Irish Cupcakes 

  •  1 stick butter
  • 2 C dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 1/4 C cake flour
  • 1 C cocoa powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 1/2 C Guinness Stout Ale
Ganache filling:
  • 6 oz dark chocolate
  • 2/3 C heavy cream
  • 4 T Irish Cream Liqueur
Buttercream frosting:
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 3 C confectioners sugar
  • 5 T Irish Whiskey
Directions:   Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pan with paper liners.   In a mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.   Add eggs, 1 at a time until incorporated then add vanilla.   In a separate bowl, sift flour, cocoa, soda and salt together.   Stager adding some of the flour mixture then the Guinness, then more flour and more Guinness, beating well after each addition until it is all combined.   Spoon into paper cups, about 2/3 full and bake 18 - 20 minutes but no more.

For the ganache, heat heavy cream in a saucepan until it simmers.  In a separate bowl, break up the chocolate into pieces and pour the cream over it.   Let sit for a few minutes then whisk to incorporate, adding the Irish Cream Liqueur.  Set aside to cool and thicken.

Add cooled ganache into a piping bag fitted with a large open tip.   Plunge the tip into each cooled cupcake and squeeze ganache into cupcake until it almost bursts.   I love this part!

For the buttercream frosting, in a mixer beat the butter until light and fluffy.   Slowly add the confectioners sugar, then a bit of Irish Whiskey, until you get a nice texture.   Drink the whiskey yourself if you want!   Frost the filled cupcakes and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.   They won't last long so grab yours before the Leprechaun does!

Monday, March 7, 2011

White Raspberry Cake

I made this cake for Emma's 8th Birthday last month - and it was really good.   So good, in fact, it didn't last long in our house!   Fairly easy to make and if you are pressed for time, use a box cake mix and store bought buttercream frosting!

White Raspberry Cake

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 C milk
  • 3 t vanilla
  • 3 C cake flour, sifted
  • 4 t baking powder
  • 1 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 12 T unsalted butter
Directions:   Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.   Prepare 2, 9 inch round cake pans by buttering and flouring or line with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, combine egg whites, 1/4 C milk and vanilla.   Mix and set aside.   In large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt and beat on low speed until incorporated.   Add the butter and remaining milk to the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until moistened.   Increase speed and gradually add the egg white mixture (in 3 batches), beating well after each addition.   Pour into pans and bake 30 minutes until top springs back when lightly touched.

Buttercream Frosting

  • 2 C shortening
  • 8 T butter
  • 1/3 C heavy whipping cream
  • 2 t raspberry extract
  • 8 C powdered sugar
Directions:   In mixer beat shortening and butter until light and fluffy.   Add the cream and raspberry extract and mix well.   Add 1/2 powdered sugar and beat for 5 minutes.  Add remaining sugar and continue to beat.  If it is too thick, add a bit more cream.   For the fluffiest buttercream, beat for an additional 5 minutes or longer.

To assemble:   Cut each cooled cake in half to form 2 layers.   I put a dollop of buttercream down on my patter first, to secure the first layer.   Top with raspberry jam then add another cake layer, topping with buttercream.   Add another cake layer, repeat with raspberry jam and add last cake layer.   Tint the remaining buttercream frosting if you want to get a soft pink color and frost entire cake.   I embellished with edible pearls and piped icing.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Christchurch Crisis

My good friend Chef Gary Miller lives in Christchurch.   After the first earthquake in September, the restaurant where he was the Executive Chef was demolished.   He quickly re-grouped and moved on... fast forward to now.   With devastating aftershocks that destroyed the city, his restaurant in now the crisis center for the government.   With all that is going on, he took time out to write this note to me....
Thank you for your messages, at this time it really is pleasing to receives messages from friends and family from afar. The situation and challenges that lay ahead of us here in Christchurch are many, but like all great communities we are resolute in our resolve to overcome these and come out of this a better place.

Though we may lament the loss of our city as we knew it, we realize that we have a very rare opportunity to now build a new future for ourselves, the buildings that we have lost are now consigned to being part of our memories and past, but in a situation such as this sentimentality must take a back seat.

The people and communities of our city have and continue to rally round with support, comfort and togetherness. One thing that has really come to the fore is the sense of togetherness brought about by the sharing of food - so many people talk about bringing the family together around the table whilst enjoying the simple pleasures of a good meal. Here in Christchurch food and the sharing of is bringing many communities together. Whether it be a simple offering of corn on the cob or a BBQ, food helps create a central point where people can come together, talk of their days experiences, swap stories and also pass on info of who needs help and who can help.

I have been involved in numerous assistance roles, mainly centered round food, either securing it for various groups or helping volunteer groups to establish, set up and organize kitchens that can then bring comfort and food to their communities.

How did your pilot filming go? is there any footage that can be viewed on line, sure would like to see it.

For now take care, carry on with your good works, keep spreading the message of the joys of cooking and stay safe.
To honor Gary and all the people affected by the earthquake, please consider a donation to the New Zealand Chef's Association - Earthquake Fund Raising Dinner.
New Zealand Chefs Association – Earthquake Fund raising Dinner

We have all watched with horror and disbelief as Christchurch crumbled.
Feeling grief for our families, friends, colleagues and strangers and we all want to help in some way.
As chefs, we can do what we do best, which is to cook, create and provide hospitality and raise funds for those affected
Please send this email to your own business and personal contacts, make up a table of 10 and join us to make this a wonderful event.

Saturday 2nd April 2011 @ 6pm
SkyCity Convention Centre - New Zealand Room
The cost is $300 per head or $2500 per table (10 per table)
5 course dinner, with entertainment and a charity auction

Some of our Canterbury chefs will be participating in the event.

The numbers to book a table or offer auction items is 0800 692 433 or 09 6222 748.
 I will ask Gary to set up a Paypal account to make donating easier for State-side people, but for more information, send me an email at

One more point - take a look at these before and after images of Christchurch.  It will certainly take away any hesitation to donate! 

Pan Fried Tilapia with Jalapeno Cream Sauce

This was a request from Craig Bushon of the Craig Bushon Show, Talk Radio 1370 AM.   He LOVES Carino's Jalapeno Garlic Tilapia and asked me to deconstruct the recipe so he could make it at home.   After a bit of tasting and research, I came up with this version which is about 97% to the real recipe.   On a side note, the sauce is SO GOOD and instead of Tilapia, you could use grilled shrimp, seared scallops or any other seafood.

Pan Fried Tilapia with Jalapeno Cream Sauce

  • 4 T butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1/2 C jalapenos, seeds removed, finely diced
  • 1 C spinach, chopped
  • 1/3 C heavy cream
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 2 T white wine
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 T butter
  • 4 Tilapia filets
  • 1 C flour
  • 2 T butter
  • angel hair pasta
  • diced tomatoes
  • parsley, chopped
Directions:   In a small saute pan, melt butter over medium-low heat and add the garlic, shallots and jalapenos. Simmer for 5 minutes, making sure not to burn the garlic.   Add the spinach and when wilted, add the cream, mixing well.  Let simmer for an additional 5 minutes.   Add the lemon, wine and salt and pepper to taste, mixing well then remove from heat.  Add remaining 2 T of butter slowly, whisking into the sauce.

Cook Angel Hair pasta according to package directions.

In a separate large pan, melt 2 T butter.   Dredge Tilapia through seasoned flour and pan fry until cooked through. 

To plate:   Start with a layer of angel hair pasta, followed by a pan fried Tilapia filet.   Spoon over Jalapeno Cream Sauce and top with diced tomatoes and parsley.   Serve immediately!   So good!

Asparagus Three Ways

Spring means beautiful asparagus in the grocery store.   I wanted to showcase three different ways you can prepare it for any meal.
Asparagus Three Ways

  • asparagus, ends removed
  • bacon, sliced long ways
  • olive oil
  • shallots
  • Italian vinaigrette
  • salt and pepper

For Blanched Asparagus in Italian Vinaigrette - quickly blanch asparagus spears in boiling water for 3 minutes, then remove to an ice bath to immediately stop the cooking process.   Once cooled, place into container, drizzle any Italian Vinaigrette over them and refrigerate until chilled.

For Shallot Sauteed Asparagus -in a saute pan, add olive oil, shallots and asparagus and saute for about 5 minutes, keeping the asparagus crisp.   Serve immediately.

For Bacon Wrapped Asparagus - cut a strip of bacon long ways and wrap diagonally around a small bundle of asparagus.   Place on a Silpat or any other non stick baking mat and bake in the oven at 350 degrees until bacon is cooked, about 12 minutes.   Remove from oven and plate immediately.

I actually served the three different asparagus types on the same platter at the same time for variety!