Saturday, September 20, 2014

Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon meringue pie is a dessert that's really gone out of style these days but I want to revive it and give it a fresher twist. A lot of recipes for lemon meringue pie call for storebought pie crusts and those are very convienent but a homemade pastry crust is so much better. The lemon curd is slightly tart so it doesn't make the whole dessert super sweet. This lemon meringue pie is certainly a treat that takes time and patienence but it's all worth it!

1 cup all-purpose flour
6 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
2-3 tbsp. cold water

Lemon Curd:
4 lemons, zested and juiced
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, cubed
2 tsp. cornstarch

4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
pinch of salt

In a bowl, rub together the flour and butter together until it resembles fine breadcrumbs then add the sugar, egg, and cold water and form it together until it's a soft dough ball 

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it chill in the fridge for an hour then roll it on a floured surface until it's the thickness of a penny

Lay the dough over a tart case, trim the edges of the dough, and line the inside with parchment paper and fill it with dry beans then chill it for a further 15 minutes

Preheat your oven to 400ºF and cook the tart case for 15 minutes then take the beans out and cook for an additional 5 minutes before letting it cool

In a saucepan, whisk the lemon juice and zest, egg yolks, sugar, butter, and cornstarch together over low heat until the mixture has thicken

Pour the lemon curd into the cooled pastry case and refrigerate until the curd has set about 30 minutes

Heat the sugar and water into a pan until the sugar has dissolved and it resembles a syrup

Whisk the egg whites and salt (by hand or by a mixer) to soft peaks then slowly add the sugar syrup until a glossy, meringue has formed

Spoon the meringue onto the pie and uses a kitchen torch, toast the meringue until it's golden brown

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Eggs Benedict

Eggs benedict is a classic breakfast/brunch dish that you see on a lot of hotel and restaurant menus but it's really simple to make at home. Every element of this dish is perfect; the toasted English muffin topped with crispy, salted bacon then a perfectly poached egg is placed on top of the bacon and the whole dish is finished with a dollop of rich, buttery Hollandaise sauce. The Hollandaise sauce is the only tricky part of this dish because you've got to have the patience to slowly add the butter to the egg yolk so that it won't split. So why not treat yourself or a loved one to breakfast in bed this weekend with this eggs benedict recipe!

2 English Muffins
8 slices of bacon
2 eggs and one egg yolk, room temperature
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 (4 oz.) stick of unsalted butter, melted
salt and pepper

Over a saucepan of simmering water, place a bowl on top of the water making sure the water doesn't directly touch the bowl

Place the egg yolk in the bowl and whisk the lemon juice into the egg yolk then very gradually add the butter to the egg yolk

Continuously whisk the butter into the egg yolk until a thick yellow hollandaise sauce forms then season with salt and pepper

Crack the two whole eggs into a pan of boiling water and let them poach for 3-4 minutes

Meanwhile cook the bacon in a pan for a few minutes until crisp and browned

Slice the English muffins in half and toast them until they're lightly golden brown

Top each English muffin with two slices of bacon, a poached egg, and a spoonful of the Hollandaise sauce

Serves 2

Friday, August 29, 2014

Asparagus & Pea Soup

Canned soups, although convenient, are loaded with sodium and MSG. And making soup at home is much healthier and easier than buying it from the store because you know exactly what's going into it. The classic combination of asparagus and peas take center stage in this vibrant and fresh soup. If you're not a fan of asparagus or peas you can put spinach, broccoli, or any other green vegetable into this soup. Make this wonderful soup at home for dinner tonight and you'll never give canned soup another look again.

1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 brunch of asparagus, chopped
large handful of frozen peas, thawed
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup milk
3 sprigs of thyme
1 lemon, zested
1 tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a large saucepan

Add the chopped onion and sauté for 3 minutes then add the chopped garlic and thyme and let it continue to cook for 1 minute

Pour the stock and chopped asparagus into the saucepan and let it simmer for 10 minutes

Add the peas, lemon zest, milk, salt and pepper to the pan and continue to simmer for 5 more minutes

Using an immersion hand blender, blend the soup to your preferred thickness (if you like it chunkier don't blend it as much, if you like it creamier blend it until the soup is smooth)

Serve the soup in bowls, drizzle each bowl of soup with a little extra virgin olive oil, and serve with grilled crostini

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Smoked Salmon Fritters with Mustard & Dill Mayo

Appetizers are the best way to start a dinner party and these smoked salmon fritters with mustard & dill mayo will never fail to impress your guests. Smoked salmon is usually served on a bagel with cream cheese for brunch but by incorporating them into a corn batter and frying them, they're perfect finger food that everyone will enjoy. Also, if you don't like smoked salmon you can use cooked shrimp instead.

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 tsp. baking powder
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
4 oz. smoked salmon, cut into small pieces
1 cup mayonnaise
1 heaped tbsp. wholegrain mustard
few sprigs of dill, chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced
Olive oil, for frying

Fill a pan halfway with olive oil and heat the oil until it reaches 350°F

In a bowl mix the flour, cornmeal, and baking powder together then add the egg, milk, and melted butter and stir until well incorporated

Fold the smoked salmon into the corn mixture and drop the fritter mixture, tablespoon at a time, into the hot oil and fry for a few minutes until golden brown

Mix together the mayonnaise, wholegrain mustard, chopped dill, lemon juice, a pinch of salt, and pepper until combined

Drain the fritters on a few sheets of paper towel to remove the excessive oil

Serve the fritters on a bed of arugula with the mustard & dill mayo

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Spinach & Bacon Pasta Bake

This spinach & bacon pasta bake is a very simple dish to make at home that is guaranteed to satisfy your family's taste buds. Creamy pasta, crispy bacon, and fresh spinach all come together in one delicious family meal. This pasta bake is not only delicious but really inexpensive. It's also really quick to make, so in about 15 minutes dinner is ready for everyone to enjoy! You can also add sautéed mushrooms, onions, and/or leeks to this dish. Serve this pasta bake with a salad and warm bread (try my easy homemade focaccia bread recipe) to make it a complete meal.

3/4 lb. penne pasta
10 slices of smoked bacon, chopped
a handful of baby spinach, chopped
1 cup crème fraiche
pinch of chili flakes
1 cup of grated parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

Preheat your broiler to high

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil then add the penne and cook for 8-9 minutes

Cook the chopped bacon in a pan until crisp and browned then drain the bacon from the grease

Drain the pasta and add it back to the pan along with the crispy bacon, spinach, crème fraiche, chili flakes, and the grated parmesan cheese

Pour the pasta into a baking dish and sprinkle with additional parmesan cheese and panko breadcrumbs

Place the baking dish under the broiler for a few minutes until golden brown

Serve each portion with a fresh salad and enjoy!

Serves 4-6

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Mid-Summer Update

Hello everyone, it's Alexandria! I know I don't usually do super long blogs like this one but I just wanted to update everyone on what I've been doing this summer and what's to come. Firstly, this summer has been such a whirlwind for me for many reasons including being on the teen tournament for the Food Network show Chopped on July 15th. Although I was sadly chopped first, it was an amazing experience and I made so many new friends that share the same passion as me. And now that the show has aired I'm working in a restaurant for the summer which takes up most of week but I'm really enjoying it. With that being said, I've gotten a lot of requests to post YouTube videos again and I will do videos and there will be a brand new video this Friday so I'll put a link to it on this blog once I post it. I'm also working on a new website that will be launched late September (I will keep you posted on an exact date soon). And in the midst of this very hectic summer I'll try to blog and post a new video once or twice a week. So thank you for reading this blog and hopefully you'll love what's to come for Alex's Kitchen!

                                                                                                  Peace, Love, & Food

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Yeast Dinner Rolls

Whether it's Thanksgiving or a dinner party, dinner rolls seem to always be a hit. These soft, warm dinner rolls are really easy to make at home and you can get your kids involved and let them help you shape the rolls. I'd recommend doubling this recipe and freezing some of the uncooked rolls so that you'll always have a batch of rolls on hand, ready to be baked in the oven. And one thing I love to do is sprinkle each roll with a little garlic salt for a nice garlicky twist.

3 cups strong bread flour
1 cup warm water
1/2 stick (2 oz.) melted unsalted butter, plus more for brushing
2 tbsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt

In a measuring cup, mix the warm water, yeast, and sugar together and let it sit for 5 minutes to activate

Combine the bread flour and salt together in a bowl then add the yeast mixture and melted butter

Then knead by hand or using a stand mixer for 10 minutes, until the dough is soft and elastic

Place the dough in a bowl, cover with cling film and let it rise for 1-1/2 hours, until it doubles in size

Deflate the dough and shape into 14 equal-size dough balls then place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and let them rise for 30 minutes

Preheat your oven to 400ºF 

Bake the rolls for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown

Once they've come out of the oven brush them with butter and serve them while they're hot

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Greek Beef with Orzo

If you're looking for something different and exciting for dinner then try this dish of Greek beef with  orzo. Orzo is a rice-shaped pasta that reminds you of risotto but it doesn't need all of the constant attention and stirring that risotto needs. Like any pasta, orzo is actually quite boring if you eat it plain so with ground beef and spices it's something perfect for a quick midweek dinner. Plus this recipe is so simple yet it can feed about 4-6 people.
1 lb. ground beef or lamb
1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups tomato sauce
2 cups beef stock
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. dried oregano
salt and pepper
feta cheese, to serve

Heat the oil in a saucepan then add the ground beef, cinnamon, & oregano to the pan and let it sauté for a few minutes until the meat is browned

Add the minced garlic, tomato sauce, beef stock, & a good pinch of salt and pepper to the pan let it simmer over high heat for 30 minutes

Pour the orzo into the boiling mixture and let it continue to cook for a further 8-10 minutes, until the orzo has absorbed all the liquid

Serve in bowls with chopped parsley and feta cheese

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

No-Churn Vanilla Ice Cream

There's nothing better than having a bowl of cold ice cream on a hot summer's day but instead of buying it from the grocery store how about making it at home? This recipe is super easy and only requires three ingredients. Plus, you don't have to buy any expensive ice cream makers which makes it super inexpensive and convenient to make at home. You can also flavor this ice cream with chocolate, coffee, cinnamon, etc. and you can add nuts to the ice cream for crunch. Regardless, you should personalize the ice cream to satisfy your sweet tooth. And since this recipe makes a small batch, you can double it and always have homemade ice cream on hand.

1 1/3 cups heavy cream, chilled
6 oz. sweetened condensed milk
1 vanilla bean, seed scraped

Place all the ingredients in a kitchen aid stand mixer with a whisk attachment and let it mix for a few minutes, until the mixture has thick, soft peaks

Pour the mixture into a plastic container with a lid and freeze for at least 8 hours preferably overnight

Whenever you're ready to serve let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes then scoop and serve on a cone or with hot fudge

Friday, June 27, 2014

Harissa Grilled Chicken with Pomegranate Mint Couscous

Midweek dinners can get boring and repetitive so how about adding some spice and vibrant flavors to your weekly repertoire? This meal only takes about 15 minutes to prepare from start to finish and it still packs a lot of flavor. Harissa grilled chicken with pomegranate mint couscous is not only healthy but also the perfect summer meal for the grill. Harissa paste is a North African chili paste that uses roasted hot peppers, tomato paste, cumin, coriander and a lot of other spices to flavor meats such as chicken, lamb, or pork. And to freshen the spicy harissa grilled chicken I pair it with a pomegranate and mint couscous which is not only perfect in this meal but for lunch on it's own the next day!
4 chicken breasts, butterflied 
4 tbsp. harissa paste
1 mug couscous
1 chicken stock cube
1 pomegranate, seeds only
small handful of mint, chopped
1 lemon
salt and pepper

In a bowl pour the couscous and add 2 mugs of boiling water, chicken stock cube, 1/2 of the lemon, and a pinch of salt then cover and let it steam for about 10 minutes until all the water is absorbed

Preheat an outdoor grill or grill pan on high

Season the butterflied chicken breasts with salt and pepper and rub each chicken breast with a tablespoon of harissa paste on both sides

Then place the chicken breasts on the preheated grill pan and cook for a few minutes per side until it has grill marks and is cooked through

Once the couscous is cooked, remove the lemon half and mix the pomegranate seeds and chopped mint into the couscous until combined

Serve each grilled chicken breast with a generous portion of the couscous and a wedge of lemon

Serves 4 people