Thursday, March 30, 2017

Whipped Cream

This is my go-to recipe for whipped cream. It's not too sweet, so the freshness of the cream shines through. A hint of vanilla adds a little depth to one of the staples of the dessert topping world.

This recipe calls for powdered sugar because powdered sugar has cornstarch in it, and that helps the whipped cream hold its stiffness over time.

Ingredients:

1 cup heavy cream
3 tbsp powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Pour all of the ingredients into a chilled mixing bowl with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed until stiff peaks form. Chill and enjoy.

If you plan on storing your whipped cream for any length of time, be sure to seal it in an airtight container with cling film pressed directly on the whipped cream. Since there is so much fat in whipped cream, it can attract bad fridge smells and tastes if not properly sealed.

Video:


Here is a quick video I made to take you through the process

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

About a week ago, I woke up with a hankering for some lemon poppy seed bread. So, I decided to make some. I looked around, couldn't find a recipe I liked, so I made my own. This goes really great with a citrusy black tea like Earl Grey.

Prep time: 25 min
Cook time: 1hr 20 min

Ingredients:

Bread

400 grams AP flour (aprx 14 oz or 3 cups) plus some for the
1.5 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup butter or shortening
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
¾ cup milk
2 tbsp lemon juice*
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp lemon zest
3 tbsp poppy seeds

Syrup:

⅔ cup sugar
⅓ cup lemon juice*

Directions

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a nine inch loaf pan.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt. Put the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and pour in the sugar. Beat on medium for 2 to 3 minutes or until the butter has lightened in color. This is called the creaming method, and the holes that the sugar punch in the butter help it to rise once it starts baking.

Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated before adding the next one. Once the eggs are all in, pour in the milk then the lemon juice and vanilla and mix thoroughly.

Now slowly add the dry mix, in 3 batches, making sure each installment is mixed in before adding the next. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed between batches. Once the dry team is all in, turn your mixer to low and add the lemon zest and poppy seeds. Mix until the batter is smooth.

Pour into your loaf pan and bake for 1hr 15-20 min until a toothpick inserted in comes out clean or the bread reaches an internal temp of 190 degrees. Remove from the oven and let cool, in the pan, on a cooling rack for 10 minutes before removing from the pan and cooling on the rack for another 20 minutes.

While the bread is cooling, it's time to make the syrup. Pour the sugar and lemon juice into a small saucepan over medium low heat and stir until all the sugar is dissolved. Keep the syrup warm until the bread is finished cooling. Once the bread is cool, use a basting brush to brush the syrup on all sides, except the bottom.

When the bread has absorbed all the syrup it can, let it rest for a couple minutes and then serve. Drizzle the slices with any excess syrup. Enjoy!
*Before I made this bread, I would have sworn that fresh lemon juice vs bottled made no difference. I was wrong. My wife and I did a quick taste test, and I now have an almost-full bottle of lemon juice that I am not using. So, if you have the patience, I would highly recommend squeezing your own lemon juice for this. It only took me 4 small lemons to get all the juice I needed for this.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Crispy Skin Salmon with Honey Mustard

As a fan of Gordon Ramsey's Hell's Kitchen, I have seen countless chefs screw up crispy skin salmon. I'd never had it but wanted to try making it... but I was a little nervous since I don't have too much experience with cooking fish.
Meet Adam. We look nothing alike.

Luckily, I'm friends with Adam, my fish monger. Adam and I spent an evening cooking various kinds of seafood, a lot of his tips made it into my mussels recipe, and one of the things I asked him to teach me was how to make crispy skin salmon.

Because this recipe is a bit trickier, and is something I don't think many people have tried, I'm including some more in-process shots for reference.

Ingredients:

2 salmon filets with skin on, about 3-4 oz each
Salt
Pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp dijon mustard

Directions:

Flip your salmon filets over so they are skin-side up and cut shallow lines, not much deeper than the skin, diagonally along the length, about 1.5 inches apart. Then liberally salt and pepper both sides.

My knives were a bit dull, so we ended up slicing deeper than intended.
Heat a cast iron skillet or griddle over medium heat and pour on the olive oil, making sure to evenly coat the pan. Fish sticks really easily so you want to make sure you have a good non-stick surface. While the skillet is getting to temp, in a small bowl, mix together the honey and dijon mustard until smooth.

Once the griddle is hot, place the fish, skin-side down, in the pan. Leave it there. 90% of the cooking is going to be done with the skin side down.

Herein lies the tricky bit. How done do you like your salmon? I'm a risky fellow and I like mine to be a little raw in the middle, so I want a hotter pan so the skin gets crispy with a shorter cooking time. My wife, on the other hand, wants hers a little more well done, so for her I need a cooler pan that won't burn the skin over the longer cooking time.

How do you know when to flip? Well you can actually just watch the side of your salmon. The flesh changes color as it cooks, so if you want your filet rare, once it gets about three quarters of the way up, flip it. If you want it well done, wait until the color reaches almost all the way to the top
Once you have flipped it, lightly brush the honey mustard onto the skin. Let the salmon cook skin-side up for about 30 seconds. Remove from the pan and flip, skin-side down, onto a plate before brushing the remaining honey mustard onto the top.

Let the fish rest for about 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy with a side salad for lunch or with a salad and some quinoa for a filling dinner.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Root Beer Pulled Pork

Now the last pulled pork I made, I made with Dr. Pepper, this one I made with root beer, and I decided, rather then just replace the Dr. Pepper with the root beer, I decided to make a whole new BBQ sauce that would be a little sweeter to play with the vanilla in the root beer.

When selecting a root beer for this recipe, I would suggest getting a good one. It is the foundational flavor of the sauce and so, just like with wine or beer, don't cook with what won't drink.

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 7-8 hrs

Ingredients:

3-4 lb bone-in pork shoulder
20 oz root beer
1/2 t salt
1 T apple cider vinegar
1 T Worcestershire sauce
2 T honey

Directions:

Place your pork shoulder or butt in your slow cooker and pour on the root beer. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hrs.

When the pork is fork tender, remove from the liquid and place on a platter. Cover with foil or plastic wrap and let it rest while you build the sauce.

Strain the cooking liquid, you should have 3-4 cups, into a large measuring cup or bowl. Put the bowl in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes so that the fat on the top solidifies and can be easily removed, or you can use a gravy separator. Pour your reserved liquid a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the salt, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and the honey. Simmer, uncovered, until your sauce is reduced to about 1 cup.

Now it's time to pull the pork. If you would rather have chunks, you can always use a knife, but I prefer using a pair of forks to pull the pork into bite sized shreds. Once your pork is pulled to the right sized pieces, pour on the sauce and stir thoroughly, but gently, to combine.

Enjoy room temp or warm it up in your slow cooker for a nice hot lunch.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Spicy Asian Style BBQ Sauce

This is a sauce I have been making for a while, usually by just throwing some stuff together until it tasted right. This is actually one of the first things that convinced me to make this blog, because it was something pretty original that people really liked. And, now that I'm starting to put together some healthier recipes, I figured this would be as good a time as ever to showcase it.

Prep time: 5 min
Makes: 2 servings
Calories: 47 per serving

Ingredients:

1 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tbsp ketchup
2 tsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp low sodium soy sauce
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp Sriracha sauce
¼ tsp fish sauce

Directions:

Combine all of the ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake to combine thoroughly. I recommend pouring over two cooked chicken breasts cut into cubes, and then serve on a kaiser roll garnished with some spinach. Paired with a fruit and veggie smoothie, it makes a great healthy lunch.

Customize it:

You like honey bbq? Why not switch out the brown sugar for some honey. Need it mild? Leave out the Sriracha. While I recommend chicken for this sauce you could use it in pulled pork (though that wouldn't really be healthy living at that point), or maybe even marinate some tofu for a great noodle dish. Don't let my suggestions limit how you use this versatile sauce.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Curry Flavored Roasted Almonds

Almonds are a great source of fiber, protein, and vitamins. These are oil roasted almonds which makes them slightly less healthy than raw almonds, but this is my meal plan and I need some flavor. Whether eating raw or roasted almonds, serving size is key; only ¼ cup is about 170 calories, mostly from fat. If you're roasting your own almonds, the sky's the limit on flavors, so feel free use this recipe as a base or jumping off point to your own combinations.

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 lb raw almonds
½ tsp salt
1 tsp curry powder
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp garlic powder

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350
In a non-stick skillet pour in the olive and sesame oil and heat until shimmering. Add the almonds and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until lightly toasted.

Pour your almonds into a large mixing bowl and sprinkle on the salt, curry powder, ginger, and garlic. Stir to thoroughly coat the almonds. Lay your almonds out on a baking sheet, making sure they are in a single layer.

Bake the almonds for 10 minutes, until toasted. Put the pan on a cooling rack and let them cool for 30 minutes before moving into air-tight containment. Enjoy my first Healthy Living recipe in moderation!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Weight Loss Goals

Hey everyone, I want to talk you all about something rather important today in the hopes that it will help keep me accountable to my goals.

I've always loved food, heck I wouldn't be doing this blog if I didn't. I'm a red meat kind of guy and I've never met a cream sauce I didn't like. All of this has caused me to struggle with my weight since high school. I've always carried my weight well so most people who see me don't think I'm quite as overweight as I am. Things really came to a head last year when I was participating in a couple of weddings and I was really alarmed at how large I have gotten. I've finally decided to try and do something about it.

I'm a big guy. I am under no allusions about my innate size. As envious as I am of my slighter friends, I know that is not in the cards for me.

I currently weight 280 lbs. My long term goal is 220 lbs. I would like to lose 30 lbs by the time grad school starts and 40 by my sister's wedding. I'm going to be doing this my way, which means good, nutritionally dense food, nothing diet, and plenty of exercise. In support of that, I'm going to be making a new tag for recipes on my blog called "Healthy Living." While not every new recipe will come with this tag, you will certainly see more healthy foods coming from my corner of the internet. I also hope to provide people with some accurate info on food and health that I can back up with reliable sources.

I've never wanted this blog to become a diary, and I certainly don't plan on starting now, but I will update sporadically.

So please, send me your good vibrations as I try to make radical changes in my life.

- The Viking Chef