Company’s Coming: Crème Fraîche Mashed Potatoes

Creme Fraiche Mashed Potato Recipe | Dear Martini

When company’s coming we pull out all the stops and make the creamiest and smoothest potatoes we know how!  The secret is…our mashed potatoes aren’t mashed at all, but put through a ricer or food mill. Instead of a rustic mash the texture is smooth and perfect for making a “gravy lake” in the center.  We know, we know, there are purists who will say you can’t call it mashed if it’s not mashed but potato puree sounds scary so we’ve agreed to call it an elegant mash!

Creme Fraiche Mashed Potatoes | Dear Martini

Call them what you will, this is not the recipe to skimp on the fat and cream.  This dish is all about the little details… The butter, crème fraîche, and heavy cream all play an important role in the richness and texture of the final dish.  If you can’t find crème fraîche in your area you can substitute with a really good quality sour cream or full fat Fage plain yogurt.

Don’t forget to infuse the cream with the aromatics — it’s an extra step but adds depth to the flavors. And, pop the drained potatoes back into the hot pot for at least 30 seconds to dry out the potatoes which makes them even fluffier.

Watch for the tip at the end of the video on how to keep the potatoes warm — it’s worth the price of admission we promise! Happy Start-to-the-Holiday Season!

 

Crème Fraîche Mashed Potatoes

Serves 4

 2 pounds (about 3 large) russet potatoes

Handful of kosher salt

½ cup heavy whipping cream

4 to 5 peppercorns

1 bay leaf

1 clove garlic, peeled and mashed

½ stick unsalted butter, cubed and room temperature

½ cup crème fraîche

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

Peel and cut the potatoes into quarters and place in a large saucepan. Cover the potatoes with at least an inch of cold water. Add the salt and bring the potatoes to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer potatoes until tender when pierced with a knife, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium heat with peppercorns, bay leaf, and garlic to a simmer. Remove from heat, cover and set aside.

Drain the potatoes in a colander and return potatoes to the pot to allow the potatoes to dry.Process the potatoes through a food mill or ricer. Toss in the butter to the hot potatoes as you work. Fold in the crème fraîche and heavy cream and gently fold until the potatoes are thick and creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Aromatics and Cream Infusion | Dear Martini

Our Favorite Fall Salad

Our Favorite

When the fall weather turns cool and crisp and the days get shorter and darker, we sometimes slip into a blue mood.  We crave sunshine and brightness.   A crisp, balanced salad with tangy-sweet fall flavors is just what the doctor ordered!

We developed this salad to celebrate the the flavors and textures we love — crunchy and aromatic fennel — honey-sweet persimmons — juicy-tart pomegranate seeds — earthy walnuts — and velvety mâche leaves, all tied together with a bright and tangy vinaigrette.

Persimmon and Fennel Salad | Dear Martini

A composed salad is a salad in which each component is seasoned  and dressed individually and then artfully arranged.  It’s an excellent choice for a leisurely lunch.  Take it to the the next level with some grilled shrimp or soft dollops of goat cheese and it becomes a quick and easy dinner.

The Dear Martini method of building the composed salad is also mirrored in our Bite-Sized Technique videos:  you can actually watch a video for each component needed for this salad!  Click on the blue links to jump to each technique video — we promise you’ll learn something awesome!

 

Persimmon, Fennel, and Mâche Salad with White Balsamic Vinaigrette 

Serves 4

¼ cup white balsamic vinegar

½  teaspoon Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon minced shallot

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

¾  cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 fuyu persimmons, peeled and sliced

½ fennel bulb and fronds, bulb thinly sliced and fronds chopped

4 cups mâche lettuce

¼ cup pomegranate seeds

1/3 cup toasted walnuts

To make the vinaigrette:  In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard, thyme, and shallot with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Slowly whisk in olive oil and continue whisking until dressing is emulsified. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Just before you are ready to serve, season and dress with vinaigrette each of the salad ingredients in separate bowls and then arrange on a platter or individual plates.

 

How to Make a Composed Salad recipe video thumbnail

 

Fennel Fanatics

 

Everything you need to know about fennel | Dear MartiniBack in our days teaching at Draeger’s Cooking School, we bonded over our love for fennel.  We used to joke that one day we would create a cooking class entitled, “I Love Fennel.”  It was a silly idea, but it was certainly a class we would take ourselves.

Fennel bulb top shot Dear MartiniWhy do we love fennel so much?  It’s versatile, available year round (we are so lucky to live in California), and it goes well with the California/Mediterranean style of cuisine we enjoy. We roast fennel with meats, shave it for salads, braise it or cook it in soups, and even throw it on the grill.  It’s sweet, licorice flavor is subtle enough to compliment pork, chicken and fish and goes beautifully into hearty dishes like ratatouille, our Thanksgiving stuffing, or a comforting soup.  When raw, it’s crunchy texture lends well to slaws and salads; in fact, one of our favorite salads of all is a simple combination of shaved fennel, shredded carrot and dried cranberries.

If you are new to fennel, we suggest you start off with this delicious soup.  It’s a hearty soup perfect for cooler months and we hope will inspire you to add fennel to your other favorite recipes.

Be sure to click on the blue links to watch our bite-sized technique videos.  And let us know what you think!

bean soup

Tuscan Kale and White Bean Soup

Serves 4 to 6

 

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

½ yellow onion, diced

1 carrot, peeled and diced

2 stalks celery, diced

½ bulb fennel, cored and diced

3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 15-ounce can white beans (or cannellini beans), drained and rinsed

3 cups chicken stock, or vegetable stock

1 Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind (optional)

3 cups (1 bunch) Tuscan Kale, chopped

2 tablespoons shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish

In a medium-sized soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium flame and add the onion, carrot, celery, fennel and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper and toss around to coat with oil.  Cover and let the vegetable become soft and tender, but not browned, for about 7 minutes.  Stir occasionally.  Uncover and add the pepper flakes and beans and toss to coat.  Cook until the beans are hot, about 2 more minutes.  Pour in the stock and bring to a boil.

Lower the heat to simmer and add the Parmigiano rind, if using.  Simmer for 15 minutes, covered.  Uncover and add the kale. Stir to combine the ingredients and simmer, covered, for another 8 minutes, or until the kale is soft and tender.  Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed.

Ladle into warmed soup bowls, top with cheese and serve hot.

Fennel_Bulb_Dear_Martini

 

ch-ch-ch-Ultimate Cherry Pie

How to Make a Cherry Pie with Dear Martini

What’s the secret to making the ultimate ch-ch-ch-cherry pie?  Use fresh sweet summer cherries. Some folks think you need sour cherries (which we seldom find fresh and are usually packed in syrup) to make a good cherry pie, but we think you’re missing out on some really great pies by sticking with canned cherries.  When cherries are in season we use whatever looks the best at the market– everything  from Bing to Queen Ann cherries.

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No one wants to spend their 4th of July in the kitchen, so here are a couple of ways to make it easier:

  • Make the dough as early as tomorrow and refrigerate tightly wrapped in plastic wrap. While the dough rests in the fridge the water is absorbed in the dough and the butter firms up.  A properly rested and chilled dough relaxes,  making it easier to roll out.
  • Buy an inexpensive cherry pitter.  A cherry pitter makes the process go much faster!  If the thought of pitting fresh cherries makes you want to poke your eye out, you can use pitted frozen cherries or bottled cherries (which are great for pie making during the winter as well.)  Thaw the cherries completely and use no more than about 1/4 cup of the collected juice.

ch-ch-ch-Ultimate Cherry Pie

Makes one 9-inch lattice topped pie

1 recipe Basic Pie Dough (see below)

5 cups sweet fresh cherries, pitted

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon Kirsch cherry liqueur (optional)

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

3 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

1 large egg

2  teaspoons heavy cream or whole milk

Garnish:  Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Roll out half the pie dough on a lightly floured work surface with a floured rolling pin into a 12-inch round.  Brush off excess flour; roll dough around rolling pin, and place it over your prepared pie pan.  Press the dough into the pan and trim the edges so that the dough hangs over the pie pan by about 1-inch.  Refrigerate while you make the filling.  

In a large bowl, add the cherries, sugar, salt, almond, kirsch, lemon juice, and cornstarch.  Toss the filling ingredients with the cherries until coated .  Set cherries aside while you roll out the top dough.

Roll out the remaining dough to a 12-inch diameter circle.  With a pastry cutter or a knife cut at least eighteen 1/2 -inch strips.  Place strips on a parchment lined sheet pan and refrigerate. Cut out stars or decorations using a cookie cutter from the remaining dough scraps and refrigerate.

Spoon cherry filling into the pie shell.  Dot with butter. 

Lay strips horizontally across the pie and give the pie a quarter turn.  Fold back every other strip starting with the first strip.  Place a strip horizontally next to the folded strips and unfold the folded strips.  Repeat the process starting with the 2nd strip folding back every other strip.  Repeat folding, adding strips,  and unfolding strips to weave a lattice pattern.  Trim the lattice and fold the edge under or over and crimp the edge.    Refrigerate the pie for 30 minutes.

In a small bowl whisk the egg and cream together to make an egg wash. Brush pie with egg wash and bake for 15 minutes at 425°F. Reduce heat to 350°F and bake approximately 35 to 45 minutes more until crust is golden brown and filling bubbles.  Remove pie from the oven and cool COMPLETELY (at least 2 hours) before serving.  Serve with pie with a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.

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Basic Pie Dough

Makes one 9-inch double-crust pie shell

Want an easy way to remember our recipe without having to look it up again?  3 + 2 + 1!  3 parts flour  2 parts butter 1 part ice water.

2 sticks (½ pound) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and frozen for 15 minutes

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

½  teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

½ cup ice water

Place the flour in a large mixing bowl, add the chilled butter and toss to coat the butter with flour.  Quickly rub the butter with the flour between your fingers to make flat pieces of butter. Take care not to overwork  the butter – you want to work each piece, but should still have pea-sized lumps of the butter in the flour.  Sprinkle in the salt and sugar and toss with your fingers to mix.  Add the water and using a plastic scraper and a quick a folding motion, mix the dough just until it begins to clump together.   The dough will look sandy and lumpy at this point and that’s okay.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface dusted with flour and gently pat out the dough into a flat disk about an 1-inch thick.  Fold the dough in on itself until the dough just begins to hold together and is no longer sandy on the edges.  Once the dough begins to come together, fold dough in half, turn it a quarter-turn and pat it out flat again to an inch thick.  Repeat this process 4 to 5 more times.  Butter will still be visible in the dough — it’s these pieces of butter that result in a flaky dough!  Divide the dough in half and flatten each piece into a disk one more time and wrap them in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to an hour before rolling out.

How to Make Pie Dough YT Tumbnail How to Roll and Fit Pie Dough YT Thumbnail

 

We dare you not to lick your plate!

We dare you not to lick your plate!

 

Mojo Verde Sauce

Mojo Verde Sauce Recipe via Dear Martini

Mojo verde or green sauce is a simple and easy to make sauce from the Canary Islands.  You’ll find mojo verde and variations in Spain, Cuba, and throughout the Caribbean.  Start with  fresh and tangy lime juice, a handful of herbal cilantro, a couple of garlic cloves, a little chile for heat (you decide how spicy you want it), and throw it all in the blender and your done.  Seriously, that’s it.  This week, get your mojo working…sauce that is!

Mojo Verde

Serves 4

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (approximately 3 limes)

4 cloves garlic, peeled

1/2 cup cilantro leaves

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and finely ground

Pinch of red pepper flakes or 1 serrano chile minced (to taste!)

Pinch of salt and pepper

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (or to taste)

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to use.

*Kitchen Notes:  If you love the bright green sauce in the photos and video — make and serve the sauce immediately after making.  Mojo verde has a tends to darken in color the longer it sits.

Need ideas for what to put it on?

We love mojo for its versatility…mojo can be used as a sauce, condiment, marinade, even salad dressing, and it practically goes with everything.  Here are some of our favorite ways to use it:

  • Drizzled on an avocado
  • Perfect for grilled Chicken
  • Serve with everything fish and shellfish
  • Garnish lamb chops
  • As a marinade for pork that tends to dry out
  • As a dip for vegetables
  • Potatoes, potatoes, potatoes

Mojo Verde Sauce with Roasted Game Hens | Dear Martini

Don’t have a blender?  Just mince everything up and stir together!  Hit the thumbnail to jump to the video!

mince garlic thumbnail Chop Cilantro Thumbnail jalapeno thumbnail spice blend toast how grind spices thubnail

 

 

Colcannon and Champ

Colcannon  and Champ:   Sounds like the name of a rock band or a law firm?  Think again!

Colcannon Recipe | Dear MartiniColcannon is a rustic country dish of potatoes, cabbage (or kale), green onions and sometimes leeks.  If you make the same mash using only potatoes and green onions then you have champ. In many Irish recipes white cabbage is always used, but we’ve substituted the white cabbage with Savoy cabbage because it is our favorite (And when you cook at your house you get choose your favorites too!).  The two things you cannot substitute are the butter and cream.  Of course, you can vary the amounts to make the dish lighter to your preferred tastes, but please:  always use the highest quality unsalted butter you can find… and the best cream available.

Simple and fresh ingredients are the key.

Simple and fresh ingredients are the key.

We were inspired to post this video and recipe after reading our dear friend Michael’s blog on colcannon.  We hope our version meets his standards!

As always, we bring these recipes to our blog with bite-sized technique videos you can find on our YouTube channel. Please click the ingredients in blue to see the videos!

Colcannon – Irish Mashed Potatoes and Cabbage

Serves 4 to 6

4 to 5 russet potatoes, peeled and quartered

1/4 cup kosher salt

1 stick unsalted butter

3 cups shredded Savoy cabbage (about 1/2 a head), white cabbage or kale

1 medium leek, white and light green parts thinly sliced

3 green onions, minced

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Put potatoes in a pot large enough to hold them no more than 2 potatoes deep.  Cover the potatoes with at least an inch of cold water.  Add the salt, and bring just to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer.   Simmer potatoes until fork tender, about 20 minutes.

In a separate pan over medium-high heat melt 3 tablespoons butter and add the leeks.  Sauté leeks until they are tender, about 3 minutes.  Add the cabbage and sauté until wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in the green onions and sauté 1 minute more.  Stir in the heavy cream and remove pan from the heat.  Set aside.

Drain potatoes in a colander.  Shake the colander to make sure the water has completely drained out. Return the potatoes to the hot pot and allow them to completely dry.  Potatoes will look crumbly and white around the edges.

Add the cream and cabbage mixture to the potatoes and mash with a potato masher until thick and creamy.  Season colcannon with salt and pepper.  Serve with a knob of butter melted in the center of your piping hot potatoes.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

How to Make Colcannon with Dear Martini

Baked Alaska – A flaming dessert for Valentine’s Day

Dear Martini Baked Alaska

Q:  What’s sweet, frozen and yummy… and set on fire?

A:  Baked Alaska!

Originally, the chef of New York’s Delmonico’s Restaurant created this show-stopping flaming dessert in 1867 to honor the United States acquisition of Alaska.  Though the chef didn’t invent the flambéed ice cream cake, Delmonico’s is credited for coining the name “Baked Alaska” to the delight of generations of ice cream cake enthusiasts.

If you’re in the habit of making a special dessert for your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day, chances are sooner or later you’re going to run out of ideas that have to do with chocolate.   We’ve found Baked Alaska usually wins over even the diehard chocoholics.  All you need to do is assemble your favorite ice cream (we love strawberry!) on top of your favorite cake and slather or pipe the entire thing with fluffy meringue.  Then, when it’s time to serve, ignite an ounce of your favorite eau de vie (any flavor that pairs with your ice cream, as long as it is at least 40% alcohol by volume or higher) and carefully drizzle the flaming liqueur over the dessert.  If your sweetheart hasn’t fallen for you by now, this flaming dessert will definitely seal the deal.

Baked Alaska

Makes 6-8 individual servings

1 recipe Yellow Cake, baked into a 9X13″ pan (or, you can use any cake you like – even frozen pound cake!)

1 quart of your favorite ice cream

2 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup water

8 large egg whites, brought to room temperature

1/4 cup Kirsch (or any of your favorite distilled eau de vie – must be at least 40% alcohol by volume) 

Special Equipment:

Round cookie cutter, 3 inches in diameter

Large ice cream scoop

Piping bag fitted with star tip

Kitchen torch

Small, long-handled saucepan

Long reach (fireplace) match

Punch out rounds of cake and arrange on a sheet pan.  Freeze for about 30 minutes.  Scoop out the ice cream and place one mounded scoop on top of each cake round.  Return to the freezer and freeze for 30 minutes, or overnight.

Prepare the meringue by first cooking the sugar and water together until the sugar reaches 240ºF.  Whip the egg whites until soft peaks and slowly pour the syrup in and whip until stiff peaks.

Pipe the meringue in decorative swirls around each ice cream cake.  The fluffier the better. Return the cakes to the freezer and freeze for 1 hour or overnight.

Just before serving, lightly torch the surface of the cakes with a kitchen torch.  Transfer a cake to an oven-proof plate. Pour the kirsch into a small long-handled saucepan and heat over the stove for a few moments, just until the Kirsch is hot.  Carefully ignite the Kirsch in the pot with a match.  While the Kirsch is flaming, drizzle over the cake and allow the liqueur to flame out on its own before enjoying!

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Here are some helpful videos – just click on the photo and jump to the video:

Dear Martini How to Make Italian Meringue VideoDear Martini How to Fill a Pastry Bag VideoDear Martini How to Use a Star Tip Video