Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Jump on Autumn

One bonus of working in a professional kitchen, is that I get to have a jump on the seasons. I get a head start on fall baking in early September, start playing around with winter spices in November, and experiment with bright winter citrus in December. We are rolling out a new fall inspired menu at the restaurant in the next week and I could not be more excited. Does this early run on autumnal goodies mean I will hit burn out on fall flavors by November?

Fall is my favorite season, and the food that comes with it is second to none. Even better than fall baking, is fall cooking, and while I am up to my ears in cinnamon, pumpkin and apples at work, at home I am diving head first into slow braised meats, stews and soups, and some serious comfort food. This week I made my first big 'ol pot of chili of the year. Chock full of hearty ingredients, warm spices, and healthy lean ground turkey, this is one soup to keep on rotation. Roasted sweet potatoes, black beluga lentils, white cannelini beans, crunchy corn and yellow bell peppers all add to the complexity and texture. Cumin, coriander, ginger, smoked chipotle chili powder add to the depth of flavor and slow subtle heat. If you are looking to change up your usual chili recipe, this is it.

Autumn Chili with Beluga Lentils, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, and Turkey

2-3 lbs ground turkey,
3 teaspoons paprika
1/4 cup AP flour 
1/2 cup olive oil 
1 large vidalia onion, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 large green jalepeno, diced (remove seeds if you want it a little less spicy)
1/4 cup tomato paste
4 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons smoked chipotle chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatos
2 cups white wine
8 cups chicken stock
4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced small
2 cans canellini beans
2 cups black beluga lentils
2 small cans corn
2 bell peppers (red, yellow or orange are my preference), diced
1/2 cup parsley leaves, minced
greek yogurt and more chopped parsley to garnish
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss diced sweet potatoes with 1/4 cup olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 30-40 minutes, tossing periodically until starting to caramelize. Set aside. 

Meanwhile, heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a large heavy bottom pot, such as a dutch oven, over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add turkey and cook until cooked through and starting to brown. Add the onions and garlic and cook until softened and starting to caramelize, about 5-7 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the turkey and cook for a minute or two, stirring constantly to cook off a bit of the raw flour taste. Add the jalepenos and saute another 2-3 minutes, until softened.

Add the tomato paste, chili powders, cumin, coriander, ginger, and stir to combine. Add the wine, bring to a simmer, then add the chicken stock and tomatoes. Stir to combine, then bring to a boil and add the lentils. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30-45 minutes, until lentils are starting to get tender.

Add the beans, corn, bell peppers, and sweet potatoes. Bring back to a boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until veggies are tender. Stir in parsley and serve immediately topped with greek yogurt and more parsley. This also freezes wonderfully.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Good as Gold

It's Saturday morning, and I am at home, drinking coffee, and...well, that's it actually. I am sitting in my pj-s, doing nothing. Nothing except writing this post. It feels wonderfully weird. No baking to do, no projects to work on, nothing. I get to spend some time with friends today whom I haven't seen in far too long, participate in some fall-themed activities, and share with you some goodies that I just haven't had the time to post.

A few years ago, I hinted not-so subtly on this very blog that I wanted Santa to bring me an airbrush machine for christmas. Santa pulled through, but unfortunately the machine was swiftly delegated to our second bedroom, otherwise known as the room where kitchen appliances go to die. When a friend of mine asked me to make her a anniversary cake, and showed me the picture of what she had actually wanted her wedding cake to look like (not what they ended up receiving unfortunately). I knew this was a perfect opportunity to resurrect and make use of my not-so new toy.

A smooth layer of buttercream, a quick coat of airbrush gold, and a light pressing of a textured paper towel, gave this cake it's antiqued look. For the flower, I rolled what felt like a million little balls out of fondant in multiple sizes and used royal icing to secure them to the center of the flower. Then I airbrushed the entire center and let it dry before affixing the petals.

Inside is my favorite devils food chocolate cake, frosted with vanilla italian meringue buttercream and filled with this raspberry curd mousse.

Raspberry Curd Mousse
recipe adapted from

12 oz raspberries
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 TBL lemon juice
2 TBL unsalted butter (room temperature)
pinch salt
1 tsp gelatin
1 TBL water
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Combine raspberries, sugar, lemon juice, and butter in a food processor, and pulse until raspberries have broken down. Transfer to a saucepan, and whisk in the eggs and salt. Place pan over medium heat, and bring mixture to 175 degrees F, whisking constantly. Remove from heat, strain through a fine mesh sieve, and let cool to room temperature, whisking every few minutes to aid cooling. Combine water and gelatin and let bloom for 5 minutes. Melt gelatin and whisk into raspberry curd. When mixture has cooled to room temperature, whip the heavy cream to medium peaks. Add the raspberry curd and mix until combined. Chill until you are ready to fill your cake.

You can skip the gelatin if you want, but I found the raspberry curd to be a little runny to be filling layer cakes with. If you are using the curd or mousse for a different purpose you can omit it.

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