Monday, February 27, 2017

Salmon Four Ways

Yesterday was the highlight of the winter season for Mrs. BA - the Spaghetti Dinner at our local church, for which I currently serve as the President of the Men's Club.  We had a banner day - serving up spaghetti and all the trimmings to nearly 500 of our friends in town.  Tomorrow night, we will observe Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras) with the Annual Pancake Supper at the Methodist Church, also in town.  Then in March, we will dine at a Lenten Fish Fry, also at the church.

The dinner schedule at the Launchpad has been somewhat disruptive of late, with both LBA and SoBA out at basketball practice on several nights during the week and then basketball games on the weekend.  We haven't been eating very well - except when we manage to get out to organized events, so we need to try and get back on a better schedule with the end of basketball season this weekend (at least until baseball season starts).

We really should eat more fish too.  The whole clan likes salmon. Via BuzzFeed.

Poached Salmon
  • 6 ounces skinless salmon fillet
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Peppercorns, to taste
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • Fresh thyme

  1. Fill a pan with enough water to submerge a fillet. Bring the water to a simmer.
  2. Add salt, peppercorns, sliced lemon, and thyme to water.
  3. Add salmon, cover the pan, and cook for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove salmon from pan, and season with salt, pepper, and fresh lemon.
  5. Enjoy!

Pan Fried Salmon
  • 6 ounces skinless salmon fillet
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • Fresh thyme

  1. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet.
  2. Season salmon with salt and pepper.
  3. Lay the salmon on the skillet and watch the color rise to about two-thirds of the way up the salmon. Flip the salmon once and cook until done to taste, roughly 2-4 minutes longer.
  4. Serve with lemon and thyme (optional).
  5. Enjoy!

Baked Salmon
  • 6 ounces skinless salmon fillet
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • Fresh thyme

  1. Preheat the oven to 400˚F/200˚C.
  2. Cover a sheet pan with foil or parchment paper.
  3. Drizzle olive oil on the salmon, then season with salt and pepper. Top with lemon slices and thyme.
  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes. (The salmon should flake easily with a fork when it’s ready.)
  5. Enjoy!

Parchment Wrapped Salmon

  • Parchment paper or aluminum foil
  • 6 ounces skinless salmon fillet
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • Fresh thyme
  1. Preheat the oven to 400˚F/200˚C.
  2. Fold the parchment paper in half, then open up.
  3. Lay down the salmon. Drizzle oil and sprinkle salt and pepper. Lay lemon slices and thyme on top of the salmon.
  4. Fold the parchment paper over the salmon, and cinch the paper together by folding it over itself along the edges.
  5. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until internal temperature of salmon reaches 145˚F/63˚C.
  6. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Coffee Flavored Cake

The Brave Astronaut was having LASIK surgery yesterday and missed getting Monday's recipe out on time - so it's coming out today.  I'm off shortly to my first post-op appointment - I will say that the procedure went very well and I can see without glasses (or contacts), although my need for readers is much more pronounced.  But I knew that was coming.

Here's a recipe to help keep my eyes open,  From A Cookie Named Desire via BuzzFeed.

A rich and moist coffee flavored cake that tastes just like your favorite cup of coffee in cake form. Finished with a mocha ganache for a truly decadent treat.
Serves: 1 layer cake 

Coffee Cake

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg (if using fresh nutmeg, cut in half)
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup milk, room temperature
  • 1 cup room temperature brewed coffee
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Whipped Mocha Ganache

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder (depending on the intensity you like)
  • pinch of salt
  • 16 oz semisweet chocolate 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8" round cake pans.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, espresso powder, and sugar together. Stir to combine well.
  3. In a separate bowl, add the oil, milk, coffee, eggs, and vanilla. Whisk well until completely combined.
  4. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in three batches, mixing gently between each addition.
  5. Evenly distribute the batter between the baking pans and bake for 25 - 30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle. Allow to cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Gently run a knife between the cake and pan, then gently remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour, preferably overnight.
  6. Heat the heavy cream, espresso powder, and salt in a saucepan until it is starts to boil. Remove from heat and add the chocolate. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, then stir to melt the chocolate and combine with the cream. Do not stir until after the 10 minutes or else the frosting will end up grainy! Chill in the refrigerator until completely chilled. At least 3 hours, preferably overnight.
  7. Pour the ganache in a mixer and whisk on high until doubled in volume and light in color.
  8. Cut the two cakes in half to make four even layers. Slather the whipped ganache on each layer of the cake and layer the cakes on top of each other. Run an offset spatula on the sides of the cake to smooth the ganache on the sides.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Strip Steaks with Blue Cheese Better

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, so at the grocery store on Saturday, I bought some nice strip steaks and fingerling potatoes to make a nice dinner for Mrs. BA (and LBA and SoBA, too).  Life of course, intervened, and dinner last night didn't materialize.  Given the boy's basketball practice schedules and I'm out at several meetings this week - we'll see about squeezing this in one night this week. From Fine Cooking.

New York Strip Steaks with Blue Cheese Butter
The stout flavor and aroma of blue cheese have always been a steakhouse staple as a salad dressing. But in recent years the blue cheese has moved from the iceberg to the red meat. This recipe gives you the basis for making compound butters, which are nothing more than butter blended with flavoring agents to add another dimension to your food. If you’re not a blue cheese fan, you can totally leave it out, or use rosemary, thyme, or an even stronger cheese if you desire.

For the blue cheese butter:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 oz. crumbled blue cheese, preferably Maytag or Point Reyes
  • 1/4 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
For the steaks:
  • 4 8- to 10-oz. New York strip steaks, 1 to 1-1/2 inches thick
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
To make the butter, blend the butter, blue cheese, garlic, and pepper together in a medium bowl. (A fork is a good tool for doing this. If you wish, you could use a hand mixer.) Pack the butter in a small container and refrigerate until needed. The butter can be made several days in advance and even frozen.

Allow the steaks to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before grilling. Brush olive oil over both sides of the steaks and season generously with salt and pepper.

Oil the grill racks. Preheat your grill using all burners set on high and with the lid closed for 10 to 12 minutes.

Place the steaks on the grill, close the lid, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Add a minute or two to each side for medium; subtract a minute or two from each side for rare. Remove from the grill and let rest for at least 5 minutes. Smear at least a tablespoon of the butter over each steak and serve.

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Fresh Herbs and Garlic
from the Food Network
Total: 25 min 
Active: 5 min 
Yield: 2 to 4 servings
Level: Easy 

  • 2 pints fingerling potatoes 
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary 
  • 2 to 3 sprigs fresh sage 
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme 
  • 6 cloves garlic, left unpeeled 
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus for sheet pan 
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F and place a baking sheet inside to heat.

Add potatoes, rosemary, sage, thyme, and garlic to a medium bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Remove sheet pan from oven, lightly coat with olive oil, and pour potatoes onto pan. Place potatoes in oven and reduce heat to 425 degrees F. Roast for 20 minutes, or until crispy on outside and tender on inside.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Brownies with Raspberry Swirl

I like brownies.  I usually am satisfied with the Ghiradelli Brownie Mix from Costco.  But if these came out of Mrs. BA's kitchen, I would be fine with that.  From the Washington Post Food Section, February 1, 2017 [link].

Brownies With Raspberry Jam Swirl
These not-too-sweet brownies from an easy batter rely on cocoa powder and don’t require you to melt chocolate (meaning no double boiler or questions about cacao percentages). The raspberry jam can be replaced by another flavor of jam or by nut butter (such as fig jam, cherry preserves, orange marmalade, peanut butter or almond butter). You can, of course, just leave the brownies plain. 

Make Ahead: The brownies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature (or in the refrigerator, which will make the texture fudgier). 

Servings: Tested size: 16 servings 

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten 
  • 3/4 cup sugar 
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • 2 tablespoons strongly brewed coffee or espresso, at room temperature 
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (may use Dutch-process) 
  • 1/2 cup flour 
  • 1/4 cup raspberry jam (may substitute any flavor jam or peanut butter) 

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray an 8-inch square pan with baking spray (flour and oil), and then line it with parchment paper (two overlapping rectangles work well) so that there’s enough paper left hanging over the edges. Spray the parchment in the pan as well.

Combine the eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk for about 2 minutes, until thick and pale yellow. Whisk in the melted butter, vanilla extract, coffee or espresso and salt. Add the cocoa powder and flour, stirring until just incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly. Dollop the jam evenly over the batter. Use a skewer or the tip of a paring knife to swirl the jam into the batter a little bit. The goal is for the brownies to have bites of jam, not to have raspberry jam-flavored brownies (meaning don’t stir it in completely, just swirl it).

Bake for about 30 minutes or until set throughout (test by jiggling the pan) and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with only a few wet crumbs and not raw batter (try to avoid inserting the tester into a raspberry swirl). Let the brownies cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes; then lift the brownies out of the pan and let them cool completely, if you can bear it, and cut into 16 even squares.

Serve at room temperature.