Cheesy “Pantelones”

Cheesy Papillons
Cheesy Papillons

These aren’t actually cheesy pants (obviously). When J and I were putting together our Thanksgiving menu, I misread the Cheesy Papillons from this Serious Eats recipe as cheesy pantelones and after laughing until I couldn’t breathe, the name stuck.

Cheesy Papillons are simple, delicious and perfect appetizers. While best right out of the oven, they are just as tasty after they’ve cooled.

Ingredients:
Flour
2 puff pastry sheets (17 ounces total) (We found this hidden in the freezer isle!)
Coarse sea salt (such as Maldon or fleur de sel)
2 cups grated Gruyère (about 6 ounces. My new favorite cheese!)
1/4 teaspoon piment d’Espelette (since we don’t have this glorious spice, we used a substitute of half paprika and half cayenne)

Directions:
Follow the package directions for defrosting the puff pastry. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Dust the countertop (or the cutting board) with some flour. Unfold the puff pastry, dock lightly with a fork and season with a generous pinch of sea salt. Scatter 1 cup of cheese evenly over the top and use a rolling pin to gently press it into the pastry (this is important to keep the cheese from falling off as you roll). Top with half of the piment d’Espelette. Repeat with the second sheet of pastry and the remaining ingredients.
Use a ravioli cutter (we just used the pizza cutter) to slice the pastry in strips about 1-inch by 3 inches. Twist each strip in the middle to form a bowtie (a bowtie meant the cheese fell out for us, so we rolled into crescents with the cheese on the inside.).
Place strips, spaced out, on a parchment-lined baking sheet (you may need to do this in two batches). Bake until puffed and golden, 15 to 20 minutes.

My opinion:
So wonderful. I’m glad we had friends over to help me eat these because I would have eaten the whole batch myself.

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C’s Texas Sheet Cake

I’ve mentioned before, my sister, C, has a knack for perfecting baked goods. She did it again with this super delicious, never dry (even after three days!) recipe. It’s a combination of Joy of Cooking and our Mom’s family recipe.

 

Ingredients and Directions:
Have all ingredients at room temperature, about 70 degrees f. Pre-heat the over to 375 degrees f. Grease a 13×9 pan. if you don’t have the pan, you can use 2 round pans for an 8×11 pan and a loaf pan (the pan isn’t the most important part).

Whisk together in a large bowl until well blended:
2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Combine in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly:
1 cup strong, black coffee (apparently, this is Mom’s secret ingredient)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 unsweetened cocoa powder

Pour the hot mixture over dry ingredients and stir together just until smooth. Let cool slightly (about 3-5 minutes), then work in:
2 large eggs
1/2 buttermilk (regular milk works, too)
1 tsp vanilla

Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Let cool in the pan for about 3-5 minutes (until the cake is just warm) and spread on the icing.

Mom’s Icing:
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup milk
3 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Mix together and spread over warm sheet cake.

My opinion:
I might like this better than regular chocolate cake. Hard to believe, I know, but it is so good. I can’t wait for the next time C has a reason to make it!

Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon


If you’ve seen Julie and Julia, then you know Beef Bourguignon can be so much more than just Beef Bourguignon. I can assure you, this dish is worth it. It is not a weeknight dish. It is not a leave it on the stove and forget it dish, but it is unfathomably delicious. Make this on a rainy day weekend, it is perfect for fall. Since I’m not lucky enough to have the Julia Child cookbook, My sister adapted this recipe from ABC’s Good Morning America. She’s the one who slaved over the stove for several hours and deserves all the credit.

Ingredients:
One 6-ounce piece of chunk bacon (since no local grocer carries  this, we just used regular thick cut bacon)
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes  (or go with the already cut stew meat from your favorite butcher)
1 carrot, sliced (we used a mandolin at 1/4 setting)
1 onion, sliced (we used a mandolin at 1/4 setting)
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups red wine, young and full-bodied (like Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone or Burgundy. HyVee, our go to wine retailer was out of these, so we went with their recommendation, which was a Bordeaux)
2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups brown beef stock (we used the box variety)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/2 teaspoon thyme
A crumbled bay leaf
18 to 24 white onions, small (the pearl onions worked fine for us)
3 1/2 tablespoons butter
Herb bouquet (4 parsley sprigs, one-half bay leaf, one-quarter teaspoon thyme, tied in cheesecloth)
1 pound mushrooms, fresh and quartered (we cheated and used pre-sliced button mushrooms)
1 pound (bag) of egg noodles
Directions: Remove bacon rind and cut into lardons (sticks 1/4-inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long).Simmer rind and lardons for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts water. Drain and dry.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Since we were using bacon we skipped the steps above and went right to sauteeing the bacon in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a flameproof casserole over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly (we used a cast iron skillet). Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Dry beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Heat fat in casserole until almost smoking. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the lardons. In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the excess fat. Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat again and return to oven for 4 minutes (this browns the flour and coves the meat with a light crust). Remove casserole and turn oven down to 325 degrees (this is when we moved everything to a casserole dish, seems our casserole pan is only oven safe to 400 degrees). Stir in wine and 2 to 3 cups stock, just enough so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs and bacon rind. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove. Cover casserole and set in lower third of oven. Regulate heat so that liquid simmers very slowly for 3 to 4 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with one and one-half tablespoons of the oil until bubbling in a skillet. Add onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling them so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect them to brown uniformly. Add 1/2 cup of the stock, salt and pepper to taste and the herb bouquet. Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but hold their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet and set onions aside. Wipe out skillet and heat remaining oil and butter over high heat. As soon as you see butter has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add mushrooms. Toss and shake pan for 4 to 5 minutes. As soon as they have begun to brown lightly, remove from heat. When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan (We just used a mesh strainer). Wash out the casserole (we skipped this to leave all the delicious crusty bits) and return the beef and lardons to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms on top. Skim fat off sauce in saucepan. Simmer sauce for a minute or 2, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons stock. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour sauce over meat and vegetables. Cover and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in casserole, or arrange stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles or rice, and decorated with parsley.

My opinion:
Over egg noodles this dish is just divine. There are no additional words to describe it.

Homemade Chick Fil A


Before the current big hullabaloo over this restaurant, J and I decided to figure out how to recreate our favorite chicken sandwich at home. Mostly because the nearest restaurant to us is more than an hour and a half away. This recipe is so close! With a bag of Oreda waffle fries, it’s almost like you’re there.

Ingredients:
2 boneless and skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup Dill Pickle Juice (we bought the hamburger slices and just used the juice)
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 Egg
1/4 cup Milk
1/2 cup Flour
1 tablespoon Powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon Celery salt
1/4 teaspoon Dried basil

Directions:
Wrap the chicken loosely between plastic wrap and pound gently with the flat side of a meat tenderizer until about 1/2 inch thick all around. Cut into four pieces, as even as possible. Marinate in the pickle juice and Tabasco Sauce for 30 minutes. Beat the egg with the milk in a bowl. Combine the flour, sugar, and spices in a zip lock bag. Dip the chicken pieces each into the egg on both sides, then place in the bag and shake. Heat the oil in a skillet (1/2 inch deep) to about 345-350, or use a deep fryer (that’s what we did). Remove the chicken from the flour mixture and tap off the excess. Place in the oil. Fry each cutlet for 2 minutes on each side, or until golden and cooked through. If using a fryer, it takes about 5 minutes total. Be sure to check the first couple to make sure they are cooked all the way through. Blot on paper and serve on toasted buns with pickle slices.

My Opinion:
So good. It’s very, very close to the original. It just needed to be a touch sweeter, so next time we’ll use a bit more powdered sugar and a touch less pickle juice.

Green Chicken Enchiladas


Using the tomatillo salsa recipe as a base, we made these amazing Green Chicken Enchiladas. While a bit time consuming, the recipe makes more than enough to freeze half and reheats very well. If you plan to freeze, just leave off the cheese!

Ingredients:
1/4 to 1/2 cup tomatillo salsa (for the chicken mixture), plus 1/4 for the bottom of the pan and about 1/2 to 2/3 cup for the top (under the cheese)
2 tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium Onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon Ground cumin
1/4 cup All-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock
Chopped cilantro leaves
3 pounds boneless, skinless Chicken breasts
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 large Flour tortillas (we used the burrito sized ones)
1/2 pound Monterey Jack (or Mexican blend) cheese, shredded
2 cups Sour cream, if desired
Chopped tomatoes and cilantro leaves for garnish, if desired

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roast chicken in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F, or until cooked though.  Let cool and then shred.  Set aside. For more flavor, season the chicken with salt, pepper and cumin prior to roasting.  While the chicken is roasting, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and caramelized , approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin then cook for another minute. Sprinkle on the flour and stir to ensure the flour doesn’t burn.  Gradually add the chicken stock. Continue stirring over a low simmer until the flour cooks and the liquid thickens. Turn off the heat, add 1/4 cup of the tomatillo salsa and some additional fresh chopped cilantro and fold in the shredded chicken meat. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

To make the Enchiladas, take a large baking dish and smear the bottom with some of the reserved tomatillo salsa. Mix the salsa, cheese and the chicken mixture together in a bowl.  Put a scoop of the shredded chicken-enchilada mix  in an Enchilada. Fold the tortilla over the filling and roll to enclose it. Place the tortillas in the baking dish and continue to do the same with all eight tortillas. Finally pour the reserved enchilada sauce and top with the remaining shredded cheese. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes until bubbly and cracked on top. Garnish with cilantro and tomato, sour cream and guacamole if desired.

My opinion:
Perfect for a hot, summer evening.