Tuesday, August 28, 2018

NEW YORK STYLE CHEESECAKE!


I made this cheesecake for the 4th of July this year. It was a fun way to help celebrate our most American of holidays while living in Ireland for the summer. You can top this cheesecake any way you like or is also delicious plain. I topped with fresh strawberries, blueberries and shaved white chocolate for our festive holiday celebration.

The recipe is from All Recipes.

Ingredients:
3 Tbsp. Melted butter
18 Graham Crackers*, crushed
1/4 Cup Flour
1 Cup Sour Cream (I used creme fraiche.)
1 Tbsp. Vanilla
4 8-oz. Packages Cream Cheese, at room temperature
4 Eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
1 tsp. Lemon Zest
1 tsp. Orange Zest
* I could not find Graham Crackers here in Ireland so used half a sleeve of Tea Biscuits. Perfect substitution.



Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease bottom and sides of 9" springform pan. I used my hands to crush the Rich Tea Biscuits. Mix Biscuits (or Graham Crackers) with 3 Tbsp. melted butter until evenly moistened. Press the buttered crumb mixture into bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of springform pan. Put in fridge to chill while making the filling.

Whisk flour into the creme fraiche or sour cream. Add vanilla. Whisk in cream cheese, 8 oz. at a time. Add sugar and whisk until thoroughly combined (3 - 5 minutes) and shiny. I am sure you could do this with either a hand or standing mixer, but I have neither here in Spiddal so the whisk worked well and also provided some good upper body exercise!

Whisk in eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in lemon and orange zest.

Gently spoon filling into pan. Bake in preheated oven until edges are nicely puffed and the surface of the cheesecake is firm except for a small spot in the center that will jiggle when pan is gently shaken. This will take about 1 hour.

When done, turn off oven and leave cheesecake in oven to cool for about 1 hour. This prevents cracking. I learned another neat way to prevent cracking from Chef Jane St. Pierre at the cooking class I went to with my brother at Stonewall Kitchen in York, Maine. Jane says check the cheesecake temperature just before you think it's done. Insert thermometer in the center of the cake. If it registers 160 degrees, it's done! No cracks! Cool completely before topping.

My husband, Jerry, is in cheesecake heaven.
Our cat, JoJo, is happy to nap through it.

I made this cheesecake again when our good friends Brendan and Mary O'Tuairisg came to dinner with their ever so cool daughter, Roisin. Our son, Mike was here visiting, too, which made for a very festive night! This time I made a strawberry topping by combining 2 cups of freshly sliced strawberries with a cup of Follain's Strawberry Jam.

Gently heat the jam and stir in the sliced strawberries. The berries do not need to cook, but get them warm enough so they release some of their beautiful juices to make a rich strawberry sauce. Let cool completely before topping the cake. Let the cake cool completely before topping, as well.
I LOVE CHEESECAKE AND IF YOU FLIP THROUGH PREVIOUS BLOGS YOU'LL SEE I MAKE A LOT OF IT!

ALL FOR TODAY. OUR TIME IN IRELAND IS NEARING AN END, BUT WE'LL BE BACK AGAIN SOON TO CELEBRATE MORE OF THE CHARMING IRISH WAYS.

TUNE IN AGAIN SOON FOR ANOTHER EPISODE OF:

WWW.COOKWITHCINDY.COM

This is our Irish home sweet home!

Sunday, August 19, 2018

MONKFISH MARSALA!

There was a time, not that long ago, when you couldn't give Monkfish away. Sometimes called, "Poor man's lobster", now it fetches a premium price and is enjoyed for its sweet taste and pleasing firm, meaty texture, similar to lobster and scallops.
Monkfish is all head and beautifully designed with a huge mouth perfect for catching prey. They live on the ocean bottom, in both the Pacific and Atlantic and some believe got their name from their remote and solitary existence in the ocean's depths. I think that's a bit of a stretch.  A more plausable explanation for the name, monkfish, is that monks used to go to the docks asking for fish. Monkfish, because of its ugliness was not marketable, and fisherman would give them this by-product. Although they are also known by several other odd names: Goose-fish; Sea-devil; All-mouth; and Fishing-frog. Their Latin name is Lophius Americanus and the European variety is L. Piscatorius, caught right off our shores in Galway Bay. They are not a pretty fish and their most distinctive feature is their large mouth.

They also have an interesting, irregular growth of flesh in the front of their head, just above their mouth. The esca, also referred to as the illicium, is movable in all directions and used as a lure to attract other small fish into their massive jaws. The "antenna" dip down resembling a shrimp and the prey is snatched. Nature! Love it!

The tail is the portion of monkfish that is eaten, but the head has lots of "meat", too and makes an incredible fish stock for seafood chowder. Once boiled, pick off the "meat" and make a luscious seafood salad.

Now, on to MONKFISH MARSALA! This recipe is from The Daily Catch in Boston, across from what used to be the famous Jimmy's Harborside.

Served over linguini with garlic bread;
 topped with freshly chopped parsley and lots of
that gorgeous Marsala sauce.

Ingredients:
1 lb. Monkfish, cut into 1/2 inch medallions, salted & peppered (We left ours in slightly larger strips.)
1/2 cup flour for dredging
2 Tbsp. Olive oil
1 1/2 cup Marsala wine*
1/2 cup fish, clam, or mussel broth**
8 white button mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 lemon for squeezing
2 Tbsp. Butter
2 Tbsp. Parsley chopped

*I couldn't find Marsala wine so used sherry instead. Not a bad substitute, but it's best to use Marsala.
This was excellent sherry, but really not the same as Marsala.
**The recipe doesn't call for the addition of fish stock, but my husband, Jerry, used to eat at the Daily Catch weekly and became quite friendly with the chef. He said add 1/2 cup fish stock to deepen the flavor. I had made mussels the day before so used that.

Dredge the medallions in liberally
 seasoned flour. Shake off the excess.

Preparation:
Place a large skillet with oil over medium high heat. I added a tbsp. Of butter to the pan, as well. It helps brown the fish and adds to the flavor. Sear the monkfish in hot pan for about 2 minutes per side or until nicely browned and slightly carmelized. Remove the fish from the pan and set aside.

Add the mushrooms and cook for a couple minutes until the butter/oil is absorbed and mushrooms start to look translucent.

I was a little late on this photo as flames are nearly gone.
 Be careful when igniting alcohol as it really
does flare up and could take off your eyebrows!
Remove pan from heat and add Marsala wine. Return to heat and ignite wine. Flambe until alcohol burns off. Flames will die down. Add fish stock, if using, and squeeze lemon juice into pan. Makes sure you catch the seeds. Continue cooking on medium high until sauce is reduced; about 10-15 minutes.
Return fish to pan. Add 1/2 Parsley, a little more butter and let bubble away on low heat for another 10 minutes. Serve over linguini topped with the last of the parsley. Garlic bread works well to soak up that sumptuous sauce!

I LOVE ALL THE FRESH FISH WE EAT WHEN 
LIVING IN IRELAND. ITS A VERY SPECIAL TREAT!

WE ARE SO FORTUNATE AND I ALSO LOVE IT WHEN 
MY HUSBAND COOKS WITH ME!!
Connie Thornton from Ali's Fish Market in Barna knows her fish! 
ALL FOR TODAY, BUT TUNE IN AGAIN SOON, AS MORE GOODIES AHEAD. 

NEXT UP...CHEESECAKE!!!

WWW.COOKWITHCINDY.COM




Friday, July 27, 2018

BLOOD PUDDING! AS IRISH AS IT GETS!

Throughout Ireland and the UK blood has been used to make sausage for centuries. In fact the oldest recorded use of blood for sausage dates back to the 14th century, but Ireland and UK countries are not the only to use this protein rich ingredient. There was a time when we'd utilize every bit of an animal being slaughtered, and throughout the world, blood was no exception.
It's in the bag!...the blood, that is.
All recipes for Blood Pudding contain roughly the same ingredients, but with many regional spice variations. The basics include: blood, grain (oats, barley, or sometimes bread), fat (generally pork fat), salt, pepper and other herbs and spices.

Earliest recipes used cow or sheep's blood, but by the 19th century pig's blood was predominantly used. I love Pinhead Oats so used them as the thickener.
Steel-cut pinhead Irish oats are made from whole oat groats that have
been cut into 2 or 3 pieces making for a much chewier cereal.
I found this recipe online and the only changes I made were to add 1 tsp. Of dried thyme and 1 clove of garlic. Next time I would increase both salt and pepper by a bit. I must warn you, I have posted several bloody photos, which may seem gorey to some. Let's start there...
This is the 10 liter bucket the blood came in.

I'm filtering the blood in our garage kitchen.
I've been searching in Ireland  for 2 years to find a butcher who would sell me blood. In this country, just as it is in the states, slaughtering of animals is highly regulated and monitored by the government. Almost all commercially prepared Blood Pudding is now made with dried blood. I kept expanding my search into more rural areas where I figured they might be a little more lax on the "rules". I found a willing butcher, but have been sworn to keep my source a secret. I asked for 1 qt. of blood, which is what the recipe called for and ended up with 1 gallon plus a quart. That's a lot of blood. To start, the blood needs to be filtered through a fine mesh sieve to remove any impurities and lumps.
Blood has a short shelf life (approximately 48 hours from time of harvesting, although my butcher said it lasts up to a week if kept very cold) so I wanted to get what I wasn't using into the freezer right away. Here's the recipe...

Ingredients:
4 cups fresh pigs blood
2 1/2 tsp. Salt, divided
1 1/2 cup steel-cut Pinhead Oatmeal
2 cups finely diced pork fat or beef suet. I used pork.
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, finely minced
1 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp. Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. Allspice
1 tsp. Dried thyme
Dicing the pork fat.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease 3 glass loaf pans. The recipe I used recommended lining a metal pan with parchment if you don't have glass to keep the blood from reacting creating an off-flavor. I had to do this as I don't have 3 Pyrex bread pans, but would not recommend. The Blood Pudding seeped behind the paper and made an awful mess of the pan. Solution: buy more pans.
Stir 1 tsp. of salt into the blood.

Gently saute onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent. Do not brown. Set aside.

Bring 2 1/2 cups water to boil and stir in oats. Simmer, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes until oats are just tender, not mushy.
In a large bowl combine finely diced pork fat, onion, garlic, milk, pepper, allspice, thyme and remaining salt. Add the cooked oatmeal and finally the blood.
The chunks in the blood are ice as I cranked the fridge
 way down to make sure blood stayed fresh overnight.
Mix thoroughly and divide between pans.

Cover with foil and bake for one hour until firm and a knife comes out clean.
Blood pudding is known by a number of different names:
Black Pudding, Blood Sausage to name a couple.
Cool completely. To store wrap in plastic. Keeps in fridge for a week. Double wrap in foil to keep in freezer for up to a month.

To serve cut 1/2 inch slices off the loaf and fry in butter and/or oil until all sides are crispy.

I had already planned lambs liver with onions and mushrooms for dinner that night so just served the Blood Pudding along with it. I've noticed in the finest restaurants in Galway they are now serving as an accompaniment to fish dishes. I had it the other night served with pan fried turbot resting on a bed of cauliflower puree. The Blood Pudding was smoked, which gave it an amazingly exotic flavor. Since I have a new smoker I'll have to try that next. Traditionally it is served as a breakfast meat with a full Irish breakfast.
I also want to try a Scotch Egg with the Blood Pudding. I know this may not be for everyone, but once you get beyond the concept of "blood" it's really tastey and nutritious!

ALL FOR TODAY. TOMORROW IS MY BIRTHDAY AND THE MAKING OF THIS BLOOD PUDDING AND WRITING ABOUT IT WAS TRULY MY PRESENT TO ME!

NEXT TIME WE'RE GOING TO DISCUSS A VERY SIMPLE RECIPE FOR MONK FISH MARSALA. MONK FISH IS CAUGHT RIGHT OUTSIDE OUR DOOR SO AS FRESH AS FRESH CAN BE!

WWW.COOKWITHCINDY.COM

Monday, July 16, 2018

FRESH SALMON CAKES!


The other day I bought some beautiful salmon filets from my favorite fish market--Ali's Fish, in Barna, which is a couple villages east of Spiddal.

Eddie Toner holding a large wild salmon. Eddie is from the Claddagh in Galway. The Claddagh, which means "the shore", is located on the western side of Galway situated at the mouth of the Corrib River. Once a thriving fishing village dating from the 5th century, this village was the heart of Galway's fishing community. This is also the "town" behind the ring.
Eddie cutting some wild salmon steaks. Tomorrrow nights dinner!
The farm raised salmon (in the case) is much paler in color than the wild.
I asked Eddie where the salmon came from and he said Irish Organic Salmon Company, Clare Island, County Mayo. There is much controversy over fish farms in Ireland as every year farmed salmon escape into the rivers and breed with the wild salmon. Last fall it was reported that hundreds of farmed salmon escaped into 5 different rivers in the west of Ireland causing much ecological havoc. I have to believe many fish farms raise salmon sustainably and responsibly, although some say with the increase of fish farms there is no longer any such thing as a wild salmon in Ireland, or maybe anywhere in the world. But this salmon was fresh, firm, sweet and made a lovely cake.
As you can see the main ingredient is salmon.
Ingredients:
.36 Kg. fresh salmon (about 3/4 lb.), roughly diced, makes 4 cakes
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 Tbsp. Mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. Capers
1 tsp. Coleman's or other mustard, but Coleman's adds a nice spark
Garlic powder, 1/4 tsp.
Onion salt,, 1/4 tsp.
Salt/Pepper
1 tsp. Freshly chopped tarragon (or 1/2 dried)
1 tsp. Freshly chopped chives
2+ cups Panko breadcrumbs for coating
2 Tbsp. Olive oil

Ingredients for Sauce:
1/2 cup mayo
2+ tsp. Coleman's mustard
1 Tbsp. Capers
Dash of white pepper
Chopped tarragon and chives

Mix all together and serve the cakes with a dollop of sauce.

Preparation:
Roughly dice the salmon filets. Liberally salt and pepper. Add all other ingredients except Panko (for coating) and olive oil (for frying) and gently mix until well incorporated. Form into 4 generous cakes. They will be a little loose, but will firm up in the fridge before you saute. Spread about 2 cups (1/2 cup per cake) Panko bread crumbs on a plate or tray. Place the cakes on the crumbs and gentle press into the crumbs, turning to coat both top and bottom. Add more crumbs if necessary.

Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator at least an hour to firm up. These cakes can be made a day ahead. Bring to room temp before cooking.

Over high heat, bring 2 Tbsp. Olive oil to the smoking point. Add cakes. Reduce heat to medium high and saute for about 6 minutes until golden. Carefully turn salmon cakes over and cook for another 6 minutes until done. Let rest in pan for 3 to 5 minutes. Serve with sauce. These would also be excellent with either Bernnaise or Hollandaise sauce.

AFTER 6 WEEKS OF GLORIOUS WARM 
AND SUNNY WEATHER WE'RE FINALLY 
GETTING SOME MUCH NEEDED IRISH RAIN!

ALL FOR TODAY. TUNE IN AGAIN...

WWW.COOKWITHCINDY.COM






Wednesday, June 27, 2018

BLUEBERY CRISP IN A JIFF!


Frozen blueberries in lightly greased pie plate. 
I got this recipe from Ruth Reichl's wonderful novel, Delicious! I have been an avid follower of Gourmet Magazine for 30 years and was saddened when they closed their doors a few years back. Ruth was the editor for many years and I loved how she treasured the magazine showing deep respect and integrity for food. Her love of good food is evident and this novel reflects that and so much more. My favorite quote from the book is Lulu quoting James Beard who in real life was a contributor to Gourmet Magazine and in the story is also a contributor to Delicious Magazine: "The only thing that will make a souffle fail is if it knows you're afraid".  How perfect is that sentiment and pretty much sums up my attitude about all cooking! Don't be afraid and there are no mistakes. And if it were not for my old friend, Trudy Goldfarb Silverman, I would not even have known Ruth Reichl was a novelist. Trudy sent me this book and one more along with some wonderfully comforting tea to help my cancer recovery earlier this year. We share a passion for food and Trudy is one of the best home chefs I know. Here's Ruth's recipe...
BLUEBERRY CRISP
Ingredients:
1 stick butter, plus more for buttering the pan
3/4 cup brown or white sugar
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cinnamon
1 cup flour
4 cups frozen wild blueberries

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Melt butter and stir in the sugar. Add the salt, cinnamon, and stir in the flour until the mixture is dry and crumbly. If it's not crumbly enough to pick up with your fingers add some more flour. Instead I added about 1/2 cup oats. It should be very dry. You could also add chopped toasted almonds or chopped walnuts.

Liberally butter an 8" cake pan. Pour in the blueberries. Sprinkle the topping over the berries and bake in a 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes, until topping is golden and the whole house smells so insanely delicious that everyone is standing next to the stove, waiting for the crisp to emerge. (Copied exactly from Ruth's recipe.)

Right from the oven!
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.


We're back in Ireland so get ready for some Irish treats. Tonight I'm making salmon cakes. The salmon is from a sustainable farm right here in Galway. More about that next time. This is our 10th day in a row of sunny days with temps at 80 degrees or above. No rain. It's glorious.

HAPPY SUMMER!

Tune in again soon for another episode of:

www.cookwithcindy.com

Coming to you direct from Spiddal,
County Galway, Ireland

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

DELICIOUS CARAMELIZED ONION, BACON AND SPINACH DIP!

Serve this dip at your next BBQ!
Serve with crackers, little toasts, or julienned veg.
I started with a Cooking Light recipe I found online and then changed it up by adding the spinach, reducing the amount of onions from 7 cups to 4 cups and adding some full fat.
You'll want to use a food chopper to 
reduce tears while chopping 4 cups of onion!
Ingredients:
4 cups chopped onions
4 cups chopped spinach
3 Tbsp. Olive Oil, divided 2 and 1
4 Tbsp. chopped chives
2/3 cup mayonnaise
2/3 cup Greek style plain yogurt (That is one 6 oz. container.)
6 oz. gruyere cheese, divided 4 and 2
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Salt to taste
6 slices bacon, cooked crisp and chopped

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and drop in onions. Cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally to lightly brown. Cover and reduce heat to low and caramelize onions for 25-30 minutes. Stir occasionally. When the onions cook down you will have about 1 1/2 cups total.
Remove the onions from the pan and add 1 more Tbsp. olive oil. Wilt the spinach in the same pan over medium-high heat; 1-2 minutes. In a large bowl mix the caramelized onion with all other ingredients.
I cook my bacon in the oven at 400 degrees
so it gets nicely crisped without getting
bacon fat all over your stove-top.
Transfer to a glass or ceramic shallow bowl coated lightly with cooking spray. Top with 2 more oz. gruyere. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes or until the dip is browned and bubbly.

And here's a refreshing summer cocktail to go with your Caramelized Onion, Spinach and Bacon Dip.
To make this Cucumber Martini:
Fill a rocks or any short glass with ice. Add Effen Cucumber Vodka. Roll a thin slice of cucumber to garnish. It's that easy!
Summer is right around the corner, which means we will
be heading to Ireland! Stay tuned for some Irish flavorites!
 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

COLD SOUP FOR HOT DAYS!

It has become summery here in the beautiful southwest. I love our hot days and a bowl of cold soup makes for a light and refreshing lunch. Here are two recipes I think you will enjoy. The first I made for my new friend, Wendy Hinckle. We had such a fun afternoon eating, talking, and getting to know each other.
Thank you Wendy for coming into my life!
 
CHILLED WATERCRESS SOUP
The herb oil is on the right of the bowl. Just add a few drops
of oil and gently drag a knife through it to make a little design.
Ingredients:
2 big bunches watercress, tough stems removed
2 Tbsp. butter
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater
2 medium leeks, white part only, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
1 clove garlic
1 quart chicken stock
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt/white pepper to taste
Finely chopped chives for garnish
Herb oil for garnish, optional

Homemade chicken stock has a ton of collagen from the
chicken bones, which is why it becomes gelatinous when cold.
It's also why it's so good for you!
Preparation:
Lightly chop the watercress. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, then add sliced leek and cook, stirring frequently, until soft; about 5 minutes. Add grated potatoes and chicken stock and bring to a simmer.

Russet potatoes have lots of starch so are perfect to help thicken this soup.
Cook until veg is soft; about 15 minutes, and then add watercress. Simmer for an additional 15 minutes to wilt watercress and meld flavors.
Cool to room temp, then puree in batches. Whisk in the cream. Taste and season with salt and pepper. I like to use white pepper as it completely blends into the soup and has a little more bite than black pepper. Chill several hours or overnight. Serve cold garnished with finely chopped chives and herb oil. I also added a chive blossom just for fun!
I love to please people with food!

TO MAKE THE HERB OIL:
Into a small blender combine 1/2 cup watercress leaves, 2 large basil leaves, a sprig of fresh sage, thyme, oregano and a few chives. Add 1/4 cup olive oil and Kosher salt and a little more white pepper. Blend until very smooth. If it is too thick add a bit more oil.

With the soup we had tomato caprese with reduced balsamic
and Sesame French bread toasts melted with Gruyere cheese.
Wendy gave me these adorable rabbit measuring spoons! They are ceramic with a beautiful gold design. Just what every RABBITT cook needs!


The next soup is one of my all-time favorite cold soups...
CLASSIC VICHYSSOISE SOUP
(CHILLED LEEK AND POTATO SOUP)

This recipe is very close to Julia Child's original, but Julia uses water instead of chicken stock, which makes the color of the soup lighter.

I plucked this image from the internet
as I forgot to take any pictures of my soup!

Ingredients:
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 large potatoes, peeled and diced (Again, I used Russets.)
6 large leeks, thoroughly rinsed and sliced; white parts only
1 quart chicken stock
Salt/white pepper to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream
Sliced chives for garnish

Preparation:
In a heavy bottomed pot, heat oil and butter over medium-high heat. Saute the onions until translucent; about 2 minutes. Add the leeks and saute until soft; 4-5 minutes. Add the potatoes and saute with the onions and leeks for a few more minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Cool soup to room temperature and then blend thoroughly until soup is very creamy. If it is too thick add a little more stock or water. I like this soup very thick and it gets even thicker when it cools completely as the chicken stock thickens and the russet potatoes give the soup great substance. Add the heavy cream and turn the heat back to medium and gently cook another 10-15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Cool for a few hours in the fridge or overnight. Serve garnished with chives. I also topped with a sprinkle of Truffle zest. Thanks Debby Vis for this wonderful spice. I love truffles and this tastes very authentic. Really delicious!
This fancy French soup is very easy to make!
Here's another shot nabbed from the internet,
but this is exactly as my soup looked...very thick and creamy!

ALL FOR TODAY.
THANKS FOR JOINING ME
FOR ANOTHER EPISODE OF: