Monday, August 15, 2011

The Girls Are Back in Town Menu

Pretty much everyone goes away for a large portion of the summer here.  With weather restricting your travel for a good 6-8 months per year, summer is the time to go.  I wanted to host a "Girls are Back in Town" event, because the school year will be starting soon, and most people have finished their summer travels.  Here is what I made:

Emeril's Turkey and Pinto Bean Chili:

(I don't like my chili spicy or with any big kick to it, so if you are looking for that this recipe will not satisfy your needs!)

4 slices bacon, diced small
2 medium yellow onions, diced small
1 large red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced small
1.5 lbs of turkey
3 Tablespoons of chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 Tablespoon chopped garlic
2 teaspoons dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes
2 cans (15.5 oz.) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

1.  Cook bacon.
2.  Add onions and bell pepper, cook until softened.
3.  Add turkey, chili powder, cumin, garlic, and oregano. 
4.  Cook until meat is lightly browned.
5.  Season with salt and pepper.
6.  Add tomatoes and juice, beans, and 2 cups water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce to a rapid simmer, partially cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, 20 minutes.
7.  Serve with cilantro.  (I am leaving this as optional, since people either love or hate cilantro.)

Marc Forgione's Cornbread with Creme Fraiche (Almost)

1 stick unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons of sugar
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1.5 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup whole milk
3 large eggs
1/2 cup creme fraiche

This is my first time making cornbread that wasn't from a Jiffy box.  I also hit a major snag in that I could not find creme fraiche.  I found a Mexican crema.  It didn't taste Mexican per say, but I decided to not use it.  I google "creme fraiche replacements," and found that several people had used the new Philadelphia Cooking Cremes in place.  I decided to give that a go.  I grew up with really thick cornbread, and this recipe produces a very thin sheet of cornbread.

Almond-Grape Tea Cake:

10 tablespoons (1.25 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1.5 cups slivered almonds (.5 lb)
1/4 salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1.5 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
18 grapes, halved crosswise

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly butter and flour a 3x8 inch metal loaf pan.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and 1/2 cup sugar on high until light and fluffy, about three minutes.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, until combined, scraping down bowl as needed. 

2.  In a food processor, pulse almonds and 1/4 cup sugar until finely ground.  Add flour and salt and pulse to combine.  With mixer on low, beat almond mixture into butter mixture until combined.  Beat in vanilla and lemon zest.  (This was the first time I have "zested" anything.)

3. Transfer batter to pan and smooth top.  Press grape halves into batter in rows and bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 1 hour, rotating pan halfway through.  Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack.  To serve remove cake from pan and slice.

I was worried about this dish, because it seemed that there was way too much batter coming out on the fork each time I tested it.  I know I cooked it for an additional 10-12 minutes.  It ended up turning out just fine.  The tea cake was the only part of the meal that HH got to sample, and he loved it.

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