February 16, 2013

Croque Poulet

I'm pretty proud of this recipe. I made it up myself after eating a sandwich in a French restaurant, hence the French name (I'm not sure what a Croque is, but poulet is chicken). I loved the combination of gooey cheese, chicken flavored with Herbs de Provence, and salty, crispy bacon all piled on buttery toasted bread. 

Of course, I had to put my own spin on it, so I changed the cheese and the seasoning of the chicken. The original sandwich had Swiss cheese, but I prefer Provolone. It melts really well and the mild flavor complements the other components. However, you can use any good melting cheese like cheddar, american, or Swiss. The second change is the chicken. If you're running short on time, you can slice up a rotisserie chicken from your grocery store. If I have the time to cook, though, I found something incredibly easy and incredibly tasty. After I cook the bacon, I leave the fat in the skillet and cook the chicken in it. Yes, I take pieces of chicken and saute it in bacon fat. It takes on all the flavors of the bacon and stays unbelievably juicy. Again, you can always use store-bought chicken, but this method adds another layer of flavor. If you do buy the chicken already cooked, just skip the marinating and chicken-cooking steps. Either way, you will love this sandwich!

1 lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
8 Slices Bread
3 T Butter
8 Strips Bacon
8 Slices Cheese
2 Cups Buttermilk
1 tsp Herbs de Provence

Season the buttermilk with the herbs de provence, salt, and pepper. Trim the chicken breasts and marinate in the buttermilk overnight.

Cook the bacon to the desired crispiness. Heat a grill and pat the chicken dry. Grill the chicken until cooked through. Slice into 1/4" thick slices.

Lay a slice of cheese on each piece of bread. Top half of them with two strips of bacon each and equal portions of the chicken. Lay the other slices of bread on top.

Heat some of the butter in a grill pan or panini press. Cook the sandwiches until browned and cheese is melted.

Makes 4 Sandwiches

February 10, 2013

Blackberry Buns

Clearly I love cinnamon buns. I make all sorts of variations, including Sticky Buns and Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns. Here's another one that is perfect for Valentine's Day: Blackberry Buns. The tart purple berries pair well with the buttery bread, and they make a sweet, sticky syrup when they bake. I happened to have a ton of blackberries, but raspberries or even blueberries would work just as well. Raspberries or blackberries would be the best for Valentine's Day in terms of color, but use what you like and what you have. To add even more flavor, you can make a glaze. Just mix some powdered sugar with a spoonful of milk and whatever flavoring you want until you have a pourable glaze. I like to use vanilla extract or the zest from lemons or oranges, depending on which berries I use and what I'm in the mood for. Whatever you choose, this is definitely a fantastic Valentine's Day treat.

3 Eggs

3/4 Cup Buttermilk
1/2 Cup + 2 T Sugar
1 1/4 tsp + Pinch Salt
2 1/4 tsp Yeast
4 1/4 Cups Flour
6 T Butter, Melted but Cool
1/2 T Butter, Melted
10 oz Frozen Blackberries
1/2 T Cornstarch

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, whisk eggs to combine. Add buttermilk. Whisk in 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tsp  salt, and yeast. Add two cups of flour and 6 T melted butter. Beat until just combined, then add in remaining flour. Knead with dough hook for five minutes. Knead by hand for one minute. 

Transfer the dough to a large, greased bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free area for 2-3 hours.

Toss the blackberries with the remaining sugar and cornstarch.

Roll the dough out to a 12"x16" rectangle. Sprinkle with the berries, pressing lightly to adhere. Roll into a log, brushing the end with the remaining butter to seal. Cut into 12 buns.

Place the buns into a greased 9"x13" pan. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free area for 2-3 hours.

Heat oven to 350F. Bake the buns for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Makes 12 Buns
Recipe Adapted from Cook's Illustrated

February 3, 2013

Chocolate Truffle Tartlets

I am addicted to these tarts. I absolutely love chocolate, and this has three types (four if you include the decoration): the crust, the filling, and the ganache. I start with my basic pie crust recipe, substituting cocoa powder for part of the flour. After I bake the crust, I make a delicious fudgy filling. It is creamy and velvety with just enough sweetness to complement the slight bitterness of the chocolate. To top it all off, I make a basic chocolate ganache. For Valentine's Day, I like to make white chocolate hearts as a garnish. When the occasion does not call for hearts, you can either leave the tarts plain or experiment with other decorations. All you do is melt some white chocolate and drizzle it in whatever shape or pattern you want. It is the perfect topping for the perfect dessert!

1 Recipe Chocolate Pie Crust (See Below)
1 1/4 Cups + 2 T Cream
11 oz Chocolate Chips
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
1/4 tsp Salt
1 tsp Corn Syrup

Heat oven to 350F.

Bring 1 1/4 cups cream to a boil, then pour over 9oz chocolate. Whisk until combined, then add the eggs, vanilla, and salt.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the crust and bake until mostly set, 25 minutes. Chill.

Boil the remaining cream. Remove from heat and whisk in the remaining chocolate. Stir in the corn syrup and 1T warm water. Pour onto the cold tart and chill until set, about 3 hours.

Chocolate Pie Crust
1 Cup Flour
1/4 Cup Cocoa Powder
1/4 Cup Sugar
1/4 tsp Salt
1 Stick Butter, Chilled
1 Egg Yolk

Pulse the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined. Add the butter and pulse until small pieces remain. Combine the egg yolk with a tablespoon of cold water and add in. Pulse until it begins to form a ball, adding more water as necessary. Chill.

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease 10 4" tartlet pans or 1 9-11" tart pan. 

Roll the dough out to fit the pan(s). Grease a sheet of foil, then press onto the dough. Fill with pie weights and bake until firm, 10 minutes for tartlets and 20 minutes for a tart. Remove foil and weights; cool.

Makes 10 Tarts or 1 9-11" Tart
Recipe Adapted from and Bon Appetit