Saturday, April 4, 2020

Juan Wampler's Salsa Verde Magnifico

This month’s recipe was to be a nice Pasta Fagiolini dish but I was stymied by the fact that the Winn Dixie I was shopping at had absolutely no pasta on the shelves. When did people start wiping with lasagna sheets? Fortunately, the produce section was amply stocked, so I loaded up my trolly with ingredients for Plan B.
 
This simple green sauce is highly versatile. It can be a dressing for your favorite salad or a sauce for your chicken.  And it’s just this thing for nights during quarantine with a bag of tortilla chips in from of the TV.

It’s totally by accident that I created a totally vegan dish. But, that’s a pretty happy accident.

INCREDIENTS:

2 avocado
2 tomatillos
2 c. packed parsley and cilantro leaves (combined)
2 jalapeño, ribs and seeds removed
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp. salt
2 limes, juiced
½ c. water
½ c. olive oil
½ c. macadamia nuts (a nice substitute is pistachios)

 

PREPARATION:

Pulse all ingredients – except pistachios – in a food processor until incorporated.

Add macadamia nuts and pulse until mostly smooth (depends on what consistency you want).

Serve as a dip, spread, or sauce — or add additional water or oil to thin the sauce for use as a dressing or a marinade.  Enjoy, JW
 
 

Monday, March 9, 2020

Chocolate Marbled Banana Cake

Chocolate and bananas go together like peas and carrots. Growing up in the foothills of Southern California, chocolate covered frozen bananas were a treat on the weekends at the beach. Closer to home, a banana spread with Nutella makes for a high energy treat. This delicious combination is the inspiration for this month’s recipe. Easy to prepare with items already in your pantry, this is just the thing to bring to a springtime pot luck dinner or barbeque. 

Ingredients
Cake
2 ½ c. (10 ¾ oz.) all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 ¼ c. (9 ½ oz.) brown sugar, firmly packed
¼ c. (2 oz. 56 grams) salted butter, softened
½ c. (4 fl. oz.) full fat sour cream, room temperature
1 ½ c. mashed banana (2 or 3 large)
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
¾ c. (4 ½ oz.) semisweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled

Ganache Frosting
¾ c. (6 fluid oz.) heavy cream
1 c. (6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
 
Optional Decoration
2 oz. white chocolate baking bar, broken



Instructions
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray an 8" by 8" or 9" by 9" baking pan with non-stick baking spray
In medium bowl, combine flour and baking soda and mix with a wire whisk; set aside. In a large bowl, blend the brown sugar and butter with a hand mixer or stand mixer, then scrape the sides of bowl. Add the banana and beat on medium until the mixture is smooth. Add the sour cream, egg, and vanilla and beat again on medium until smooth. Add the flour mixture all at once and blend on low until just combined, don't overmix. Pour the melted chocolate in a stream over the top of the mixture and fold it in by hand just a few turns until the mixture is marbled. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven and set it on a cooling rack for 15 minutes to allow the cake to firm up a bit, then turn the cake out of the pan and place it right side up on the cooling rack; cool to room temperature.

Ganache Frosting
Microwave the heavy cream in a small microwave-safe bowl for 1 to 2 minutes until it's steaming, then add the chocolate chips and set aside for 10 to 15 minutes. Stir ganache until it is smooth, then refrigerate uncovered, 30 to 40 minutes, stirring once or twice. When it's reached about 70°F, the ganache should mound and be spreadable without flowing. Frost the cake top and sides with the ganache.

Optional Decoration
Melt 2 oz. of white chocolate on med/low heat, stirring every 30 seconds until it is completely melted. Pour into a disposable icing bag or plastic quart bag and cut off a corner. Drizzle decoratively over the top of the frosted cake. Yield: 9-12 pieces. Enjoy, JW

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Jalapeno Poppers Bread

Skip the messiness of baking; this variation on Jalapeño Poppers is a creative party appetizer. Simple to prepare and present, or make in advance and then heat and serve.
 
 

 
INGREDIENTS:

18 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 c. grated cheddar
1 c. grated mozzarella
3 jalapeños, finely diced
½  tsp. pepper
3 baguettes
Bacon rashers


PREPARATION:
Pre-heat oven to 375ºF.

In a large bowl mix together cream cheese, cheddar, mozzarella, jalapeños and pepper until combined.

Cut baguette in half lengthwise and scoop out some of the insides.  Save for breadcrumbs. Fill each cavity with the cheese mix.  Place top half on top of bottom half. Arrange bacon flat on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Top with one baguette and wrap, herringbone style, with the bacon. Repeat with other bread loaf. Bake the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until bacon is cooked and golden brown. Enjoy. JW
 
 

Sunday, January 12, 2020

The Trouble with Truffles

From time to time I find a conundrum when it comes to epicurean delights. Take for instance truffles.

Ask a chef at a fine restaurant to describe a truffle, and they will wax poetic about an expensive fungus that grows beneath oak trees in France and found by pet pigs.

Now, ask a pastry chef to describe a truffle, and they will describe a soft-centered confection coated in tempered chocolate. So, the only determination I can come up with is that a truffle is both; a fungus and a chocolate delight.

With left over ingredients from last month’s brownie recipe, and Valentine’s Day being the number one day in which chocolate is gifted, I will show you how to make a delicious and easy chocolate truffle cookie. This recipe uses relatively little flour, resulting in dense, fudge-like cookies. They keep well in the freezer (but you may have a hard time waiting for them to thaw before you eat them).

INGREDIENTS:
4 (1 oz.) squares unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips
6 tbsp. butter
3 eggs
1 c. white sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ c. all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips


 
PREPARATION:
In the microwave or in a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water, melt unsweetened chocolate, 1 cup of the chocolate chips, and the butter stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. In a large bowl, whip eggs and sugar until thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Stir in the vanilla and the chocolate mixture until well mixed. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; gradually stir into the chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining 1 cup chocolate chips. Cover dough and chill for at least an hour or overnight.

 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Using a medium cookie scoop, roll chilled dough into 1 inch balls. You may dredge the top of the balls in sprinkles, macadamia nuts or leave plain. Place on parchment paper covered cookie sheets so they are 2 inches apart. Note: It is easier to roll dough if your keep your hands slightly moistened.

 
Bake for 11-14 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy, JW
 
 

Monday, December 9, 2019

Brownies with Merlot Glaze


It’s unclear exactly when cacao came on the scene or who invented it. According to Hayes Lavis, cultural arts curator for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, ancient Olmec pots and vessels from around 1500 B.C. were discovered in Southern Mexico with traces of theobromine, a stimulant compound found in chocolate and tea.

It wasn’t until the 16th Century that chocolate was known to Europeans. Christopher Columbus encountered cacao on his fourth voyage to the New World. But it wasn’t until after the conquest of the Aztecs by Hernan Cortez, that chocolate was largely import fist to Spain and then the rest of Europe.

Chocolate has heart healthy properties and it has been stated that it is also an aphrodisiac. When it comes to great discoveries, in my book, chocolate ranks high on my list. 



INGREDIENTS:

Brownie
¼ c. Merlot
2 eggs, room temperature
¾ c. white sugar
4 oz. dark chocolate
½ c. butter, cut into pieces
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ c. cocoa powder
½ c. All Purpose flour
½ tsp sea salt

Merlot Glaze
2 tbsp. Merlot
2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
1 tbsp. unsalted butter

PREPARATION: 

Preheat oven to 350°F. On the stovetop, in a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the chocolate and butter until smooth. Add wine and whisk until fully incorporated and then remove from heat. Add eggs and whisk until smooth. Add sugar and vanilla and whisk well. Add flour, salt and cocoa powder and mix well.

Next, pour batter into a 9x9” tin foil covered baking pan. Bake in oven for 25 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. While the brownies are baking, for the glaze melt the butter and semi-sweet chocolate until smooth. Then, whisk in the wine and set aside.

After removing brownies from the over, let them cool. Next, drizzle the glaze over the brownies and spread the topping using a rubber spatula. Enjoy, JW

Friday, September 27, 2019

POUTINE de POULET

I think October is my favorite month of the year. It is my birth month. Fittingly, the birth stone of October is the opal coming from the ancient Greek word opallios, which meant “to see a change in color.” Coming off the sweltering heat of August/September, there is a definite change in the air.

The most famous icon of October (besides the start of holiday shopping for Christmas) is the
jack-o-lantern. Various sources attribute it to either Scottish or Irish origin. It seems that the lantern was used by people who traveled the roads at night, the grotesque face to scare away faeries and spirits. And who, as a child, hasn’t bobbed for apples? Is it possibly a Pagan baptism? With hands tied behind the back and blindfolded with head immersed in water, can one see its’ origins as a Craft initiation?

Also, October signals the return of the venerable snowbird. Every year, thousands of Canadians take the migratory route to South Florida for 6 months of escape from their northern winter climes. One of the yachts that I run occasionally is Canadian owned.  I always prepare something familiar to them, like Bacon Butter Rum Tarts (The Triton 3/2018). The recipe below is my variation of a Canadian comfort food, poutine. Simple store bought items makes for quick and easy food for game night.


INGREDIENTS:

1 chilled deli rotisserie chicken, pulled
8 oz. frozen seasoned French fries
6 oz. snack sized Monterey Jack cheese, cut in bite sized chunks
¼ c. sliced green onion
6 oz. jar of chicken gravy

 
PREPARATION:

Pre-heat the oven to 450°F. Bake fries as per package instructions on parchment. While fries are baking, shred, by hand 2 cups of the chicken.  Preheat a large sauté pan over medium heat, pour in gravy and chicken, cooking for 3-4 minutes stirring occasionally until it starts to bubble. Lower the heat to simmer. Once fries are finished baking, divide the fries between serving plates. Add the cheese to warm gravy last, simmering 2-3 minutes. Serve gravy over the fries and sprinkle green onion as a garnish. Savourer faire!! JW

Thursday, September 12, 2019

PORK TACOS WITH PINEAPPLE SALSA


Mexico is one of my favorite countries to cruise thru. There is a difference between the Caribbean and Pacific sides of the country. The music, the proud indigenous people and the food have distinct differences. I prefer the Pacific over the Caribbean when it comes to food, though the Yucatecan/Mayan cuisine holds its’ own mystique.

No matter which coast, one of my favorite comfort foods is Tacos al Pastor. On most street corners you will find a taco shop with a vertical spit (think gyro) called a trompo, with slices of marinated pork piled high on top of each other. The meat is spun around and cooked in front of an open flame until cooked thru. At the top of the spit there is usually peeled pineapple cooking. The “taquero” slices the cooked pork onto a corn tortilla followed by a piece of the pineapple, finely chopped onion and cilantro. Serve with salsa rojo (red) or verde (green).

 
Not owning a trompo myself, I have a simple recipe that mimics this tasty taco.
 

INGREDIENTS:
9 oz. fresh peeled and cored pineapple
10 oz. can diced tomatoes and green chili
1 lb. ground pork
1 small red onion
8 corn taco shells or small tortillas


PREPARATION:
Cut 6 oz. of the pineapple into ¼ inch pieces and coarsely chop the remaining pineapple. Chop finely the onion and mince a ¼ c. of cilantro. To make the salsa, in a bowl, mix the small pineapple pieces, half of the chopped onion and cilantro.

In a food processor, puree the canned tomato with chili and large pineapple chunks until smooth; like a pesto. In a skillet, over medium heat, cook the ground pork and remaining onion until pork is no longer pink. Stir in the tomato mix and simmer until thickened. Pepper and salt to taste. Serve on warm taco shells or tortillas and garnish with pineapple chunks, lime wedge and cilantro. Enjoy, JW