Thursday, April 24, 2008

Dr. Pepper Ham

Yet another mish-mash of recipes and ideas. I've done hams before in the traditional honey/brown sugar/pineapple syrup sweet glaze, with a cherry-port glaze, and a "city" ham with mustard and ginger snap crust. So this time I wanted to take what I liked from each recipe and blend them into something incredible. I think I succeeded with this one.

I kept the cherries from the cherry-port glaze, but lost the port, and added a bit of merlot that I happened to draining that night. Along with the spice of whole ground mustard from the city ham, and a bit of brown sugar to help make the glaze syrupy, I added a good bit of Dr. Pepper to the glaze. At first, it might seem a bit weird to either add soda to your ham, or that I've stuck too many things into a simple glaze, but it turned out great regardless. The mustard kept the ham from turning that predictable salty-sweet flavor, and gave it a bit of bite. The cherry/merlot/Dr. Pepper glaze reduced wonderfully into a thick sticky mess, which stuck to the ham, and began to caramelize in the oven, making it even more delicious. I think the cherries and merlot complimented each other well, and the cherries cut down on the "winey" flavor that might otherwise have overpowered. As for the Dr. Pepper? I just got lucky seeing it somewhere. And it worked out great. Dr. Pepper has an excellent flavor for ham, and it's dark, which looks pretty in the glaze!

Dr. Pepper/Cherry/Merlot-Glazed City Ham

1 Hickory-Smoked, Cooked, Non-Spiral Cut Ham
1/4 cup Whole Grain Mustard (i used grey poupon country dijon)
1/2 cup Cherry Preserves
1/2 cup Merlot
1 cup Dr. Pepper
1/2 Cup + 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar

Begin several hours in advance, by putting the ham (still shrink wrapped) in a bucket and covered with hot water and let sit for an hour or so. Replace the hot water when warm, and let sit for another few hours. This is to raise the internal temp of the ham and reduce cooking time later without drying the ham out.

Oven to 250 F

When the ham is uniformly warm (use your temperature probe: ~ 70F - 80F or so), remove from water and plastic. Rinse ham and discard the pad covering the bone. Make thin cuts on the ham fat in the pattern of a diamond. This helps the ham stay flat while cooking, instead of curling up, and makes for easy removal of the fat later on when it's glazed.

Put the warm ham in an oven bag, and stick your temperature probe into the center of the ham but not touching the bone. Place the hame on a baking tray cut side down. Bake until the internal temperature of the ham is about 115 F.

While the ham is cooking, mix the cherry preserves, merlot, and Dr. Pepper in a blender and blend until the cherries are not chunky. Be carefull as the Dr. Pepper will foam up when blended. Put the mixture in a small sauce pot, add 2 Tbsp brown sugar, and stir over medium-low heat until reduced at least by half, or until syrupy.

Take the ham out of the oven (about 1-2 hours later), remove from bag, and place on a baking pan, or roasting pan cut side down. Remove the fat diamonds and excess fat from the ham. Brush or spread the mustard on the ham, and then rub (careful 'cause it's hot) the 1/2 cup brown sugar over the ham and mustard.

Increase oven to 300 F

Give the ham, a good basting with the glaze and return to the oven. baste periodically until the internal ham temperature reaches 130 F, and the glaze begins to caramelize.

Au Gratin

I made these to go with the ham. They're really simple, and delicious. I mean what's not to like? cheese, potatoes, toasted bread, sounds like a plan.

I must admit that I've never done au gratin before. I've dabbled with scalloped, and have a wonder version that uses herbs de provence... but that's for another post. I just sort of scavenged around the intarwebs looking for trends in au gratin recipes and took what I liked from each one, and made this recipe. I admit I used cheddar cheese soup from a can, instead of making my own cream of cheddar, but I figure it still turned out edible, so no complaining.

Au Gratin Potatos

3 lbs Potatoes, peeled, and sliced 1/8-1/4 inches thin (i used russet)
1 smal onion, halfed and sliced (think half-moon slices)
2 10.5 oz Cans Cheddar Cheese Soup
10.5 oz cream
10.5 oz milk
1 cup of Cheddar Cheese, shredded
2 slices bread
white pepper

Oven preheated to 350 F.

Begin by making the bread crumb topping, by putting the bread slices and parsley in a food processor and pulsing until coase crumbs. set aside

Whisk the cheddar cheese soup with the cream and milk until smooth. You needn't heat it, as it will all be going in the oven anyhow.

Begin by layering a 9x13 pan with a 1/4 of the sliced potatoes (we'll make 4 layers), followed by a 1/4 of the onions. salt and pepper the layer, and then repeat for the second layer. On the second layer, sprinkle half the cheese, and then add half the cheese soup. Repeat layering again with third layer, then a fourth, followed by cheese, and cheese soup. Sprinkle a little paprika over the whole thing and put in oven uncovered for roughly 50-60 min (until the cheese starts to brown up). After the hour cooking, sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the whole thing and bake another 10 min until crumbs toast.

Let sit 10 min before serving.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Finishing up those Anchovies

I was looking around for a way to use up the extra anchovies I had from making caesar dressing, and came upon this blog:

Seeing as how living in Socorro doesn't really lend itself well to fish, I decided to swap the fish with some chicken breast, and it turned out fine. This is surprisingly simple to put together and make. It takes less than 20 minutes to cook.

For once, I would recommend using the pre-packaged polenta tubes instead of making it yourself, not because homeade polenta isn't delicious (and it is), but because the polenta "cakes" will hold together much better with the pre-packed tube stuff. I wasn't able to find the tubes of polenta, and just ended up making my own, and rolled it up in aluminum and chilled it overnight, but it still tended to get a little smushy when I broiled it. Still tasted great, though, just a little sloppy!

Seared Chicken Breast with Wilted Kale and Portabella with Tomato Caper Polenta

4 Chicken Breasts
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
Cayanne Pepper

14 oz. can of petite diced Tomatos
2 Tbsp. Capers (rinsed)
3-4 Anchovy Fillets, mashed with the tines of a fork.
1/2 tsp. Thyme
Salt & Pepper

Tube of Polenta
Parmesean Cheese

1/4 cup sliced Shallots
2-3 Portabella Caps sliced
3 Garlic Cloves
4 cups Kale, roughly chopped
1/2 cup water
Splash of Balsamic Vinegar

Combine the tomatos, capers, anchovies, thyme, and some salt and pepper in a small bowl and set aside.

Begin by turning on your broiler.

Slice the polenta tube into 1/2 inch slices and lay on a tray, ready to be broiled.

Prep the chicken by lightly oiling, then sprinkling with salt, pepper, and cayanne.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, add a little oil, and lay the chicken in to brown. 3-4 min on each side.
While the chicken is browning, pop the polenta in your broiler, for about 10 min on one side, 'till it crisps and browns.

Start the heat in another large skillet or saucier with a bit of oil. Throw in the shallots and mushrooms, and lightly saute. Add the garlic and cook a short while longer. Finally put the kale in the pan, pour the water over top, and slash with balsamic. Cover and let steam about 10 min.

After the Chicken is browned on both sides, pour in the tomato concoction and let that reduce a bit for 10 min of so over medium-low heat

When the polenta is browned on one side, flip it, top it with some cheese and put it back in the broiler to crisp the other side. It shouldn't take long.

Assemble everything on a plate and enjoy!

When Angels have a Tea Party

I found this recipe from a blog through Tastespotting and had to try it out, considering how much I love tea. This cake is unbelievably moist and tender, and actually tastes like tea (unlike some other tea cakes I've tried before)! I topped this cake with a dollop of whipped cream, and of course, had a cup of tea. With some friends we almost ate the whole thing in one night...

English Breakfast Tea Angel Food Cake by Carole Bloom


1/4 cup loose English breakfast tea leaves (or other black tea)
1/2 cup boiling water
12 extra large egg whites, at room temperature
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cups superfine sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
3/4 cup superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Put tea leaves in a bowl.
Pour 1/2 cup boiling water over leaves. Let steep for 10 minutes. Press leaves through a fine mesh sieve and collect all of the tea. Mine came to about 1/4 cup of tea.

Prepare tube pan with parchment on the bottom. Do NOT grease. The cake needs to be able to cling to the sides and climb up the pan. If you grease it the cake will collapse.

Sift together the cake flour and 3/4 cups superfine sugar in a bowl. Add salt and set aside.

Place the egg whites in a grease-free bowl of a standing mixer. Whip on medium speed until frothy and then add the cream of tartar. Once you have soft peaks then slowly add the remaining 3/4 cup superfine sugar. Whip until the eggs are glossy and firm, but not stiff, peaks.
Slowly add the 1/4 cup of tea, and flour mixture in 3 additions.

Transfer to the prepared tube pan. Run a knife through the batter to get any air bubbles out and then gently tap on the counter. Smooth the top out. Bake at 325 degrees for 50 to 1 hour, until cake tester comes out clean.

Invert the pan over a bottle to cool. You do not want to cool bottom down on a cooling rack or the cake will collapse. Cool to room temperature before trying to remove from pan. Run a knife around the edge of the pan. Then around the center tube. Invert the pan over a plate and remove the bottom of the tube pan. Remove the parchment.

Real Caesar

Don't cop out when doing caesar salad. Make your own dressing, it's well worth the effort (which isn't much). And real caesar has anchovies! Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.


3 Tbsp olive oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 Tbsp soy sauce
salt & pepper

3 cloves garlic
4 anchovy fillets
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp oil from anchovy tin
1 tsp dry mustard (I used whole mustard and ground it up so it had a little more texture to it than powdered)
1 egg (boiled for 60 seconds if you're averse to Sallmonella or whatever)
8 cups torn Romaine
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Mash garlic clove and anchovies into 2 Tbsp of olive oil until a smooth paste is formed. Using the tines of a fork for the anchovies can help you get a start.

Stir in 1/4 tsp salt, lemon juice, anchovy oil, and mustard.

Mash/whisk in the egg until smooth.
Rub both sides of chicken breasts with 1 Tbsp olive oil and soy sauce. Season with salt & pepper.

Grill chicken about 8-10 min until no longer pink (about 165 F) <-- that's important! NO HIGHER!! or you get dryness.

Slice chicken just before serving

Toss Romaine with dressing and Parmesan.
Add croutons and sliced chicken breast atop.