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Entries in Martie Knows Parties (297)

Saturday
Mar292014

EASY & AFFORDABLE FOOD FOR A CROWD: MAKE A SPAGHETTI CAKE

Like most people, I love anything with pasta and Parmesan cheese. Add a skillet to the equation and you have something pretty fantastic. Make this for dinner, as a side dish or anytime you have leftover pasta. Perfect party food: easy, cheap and always a crowd favorite. You’ll love it.  

Photo Credit: MartieKnowsParties.com

Skill Level: Easy   Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

 

INGREDIENTS

 

1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic, smashed

12 ounces angel hair pasta, cooked until al dente and drained

3 eggs

1 ½ cups Parmesan cheese, grated

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Cook the pasta according to package directions but just shy of done. You want it to be al dente. Drain. Toss with ½ teaspoon olive oil.Put the eggs in a large bowl and whisk them with salt, pepper and the garlic. Add the pasta and the cheese. Toss to coat. You want this to be slightly soupy. If it isn't, add some heavy cream or milk.

Put  olive oil in a cast iron or oven-proof skillet over medium high heat. When it gets hot, add the smashed garlic clove and let it cook 1-2 minutes but don’t let it burn. Remove from heat. Use the back of a knife to turn the garlic clove into a paste. Mix it into the pasta.

Turn the heat down to medium. Carefully spin the hot skillet to distribute the olive oil. Pour the pasta mixture into the hot pan. Let it cook 3 minutes or until browned. Flip the cake and brown the other side. The cake is done when the eggs are set.

Serve with more grated Parmesan cheese and grated Italian parsley.

Friday
Mar212014

FOUR FAVORITES: FOUR COCKTAILS TO TRY TONIGHT

Ready to get out of the office and start the weekend? I don't know about you but I'm sooo past ready for this weekend. Here's a few of my favorite springtime cocktail recipes that are tried and true. Stop on the way home and pick up the ingredients, along with a nice steak or maybe a piece of fish and get the weekend started right. Cheers to Friday!

HERE ARE FOUR OF MY FAVORITE COCKTAIL RECIPES TO TRY THIS WEEKEND!

1. MINT JULEP 2. POMEGRANATE MOJITO 3. SANGRIA 4. MOSCOW MULE

1. MARTIE'S MINT JULEP

Use mint infused simple syrup and this drink just feels like Spring. A Kentucky Derby favorite, it is a signature Southern cocktail known around the world. Get the recipe here....

2. REFRESHING POMEGRANATE MOJITO

Another cocktail made with mint; this one is always a crowd favorite and is easy to mix in large batches when you have people over. Get the recipe here...

3. STRAWBERRY PEAR SANGRIA

Strawberries are coming into season and you can usually find quality pears year 'round. This is one of those go-to recipes you will find yourself serving again and again. And because you can change out the fruit for whatever is in season, you can keep it on the menu all summer long. Get the recipe here...

4. MOSCOW MULE

Long a favorite of mine, Oprah declared it her favorite cocktail a while back and now everyone is discovering it. If you can get the copper mugs, it just seems to taste better but if you don't have those, a mint julep or pewter mug will do the trick. The secret is Ginger. So zingy and so refreshing! Get the recipe...

Wednesday
Mar122014

Cooking with the Kids: Martie and CCA Chefs Club Huntsville

I have the great honor of working with many different groups and one of my favorites is the CCA Chef's Club from Huntsville, Alabama. The group is comprised of junior high and high school students who have a love of cooking and may possibly want to seek a career in food one day. I've had the chance to hang out with the kids a number of times; we cooked together last holiday season and made my chocolate roulage recipe. Last year, some of them were able to come to Birmingham for a tour of the Southern Living campus, the legendary test kitchens and the studios where I film my videos for MyRecipes.com

 

I asked the group for a family traditions recipe and they selected this old school whip pie crust recipe to share. Filled with fresh blackberries or your favorite fruit filling, try it for yourself. Here are some photos of the kids with their own variations. The pie crust recipe calls for items I've never even heard of: a pie crust cloth and a rolling pin cover. I guess that just shows how old school it this recipe really is. If you do not have these items, just make the substitutions I've indicated.

CCA Chef TIP:  The use of a pastry cloth and rolling pin cover helps keep the pie crust from absorbing too much flour when rolling it out.  Too much flour and too much handling make a tough pie crust.

WATER WHIP PIE CRUST

(Recipe for 9” two-crust pie)

3/4 cup Crisco
1/4 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon milk
2 cups all-purpose flour (sifted once before measuring)
1 teaspoon salt

Put 3/4 cup Crisco in a mixing bowl.  Add 1/4 cup boiling water and 1 tablespoon milk; whip with a fork until water and milk are incorporated into the Crisco.  It should be smooth and thick like whipped cream.  Sift in 2 cups sifted all purpose flour and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir quickly, with round-the-bowl strokes, into a dough that “cleans” bowl.  Take up dough in hands and work gently into a smooth, blended round. Handle dough as little as possible.  Divide dough in half; roll each half separately. Place one half of the dough onto a lightly floured pastry cloth. (ok to use floured plastic wrap) Using a rolling pin with cover, (ok to simply flour the rolling pin) roll out the bottom pie crust.  Once dough has been rolled out, use the edge of your pastry cloth to carefully raise dough up and over the rolling pin.  This will make it easier to transfer rolled dough to the pie tin.  Fill the bottom crust with desired filling.  Roll out second half of dough and place on top of pie filling.  Trim dough ½ inch beyond pan, and flute edge.  Make several slits in top of pie crust for steam vents and sprinkle with sugar.  (Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon if making an apple pie.)  Baking temperatures and times depends on the filling you have placed inside.

Blackberry Pie frpm CCA Chefs Club HuntsvilleFresh Blackberry Pie Filling

3 cups fresh blackberries rinsed and drained

4 tablespoons All-Purpose flour

1 cup sugar plus more to sprinkle on top of crust

4-5 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon unsalted butter 

Place blackberries in bottom pie crust.  Layer the remaining ingredients.  Cover filling with top pie crust; seal and flute edge. Make several slits in top to allow the steam to escape. Sprinkle top with sugar.  Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes then reduce heat to 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes.  Cool on cooling rack for 2 hours before serving.

Thanks to all of my sweet future chefs for providing us with the recipe and photos of all the fun! Hope to see you all again soon.

 

Thursday
Feb132014

Party Desserts: One Bite Banana Pudding

I'm working on my menu for a charity event in Chicago next month... will have a Southern theme. The desserts will be an assortment of minis: pecan pie, peach tartlets and banana pudding. The host didn't want to have to worry with lots of small glasses. Here's my solution... I had some pate a choux left over from the previous post on cream puffs just hanging out in the fridge. What to do.... what to do? Then I see the fruit bowl out of the corner of my eye and it hits me! Put the insides of the banana pudding into puff shell! This dough makes the best little puffs and they are hollow. Perfect for filling. The experiment was a total success. Best of all, these tasted just like the banana pudding my mother used to make! BLISS! 

ONE BITE BANANA PUDDING

I have 3 components to this recipe: the pate a choux, the pastry cream filling and the meringue top. I have it broken down into segments below. You don't even have to do it all at one time. I made the choux the day before serving. I made the pastry cream the following morning and I made the meringue just before I wanted to put them in the oven. The meringue will not hold so plan on using it as soon as you whip it up. Hope you love these!

*CHEF'S NOTE: For assembly, you will need 1-2 ripe bananas

CREAM PUFF DOUGH RECIPE (Pate a Choux)

Makes about 22-28 small puffs depending on how large you pipe them out

Prep: 10 minutes    Bake: 20 minutes   Difficulty: Intermediate

Supplies: Cookie sheet, parchment paper, piping bags or ziptop bags (don't use a cheap one- it will break)

This is a classic Pate a Choux dough. I always mix mine by hand because I don't want to wash the extra bowl of the mixer but some believe (Alton Brown and Jacques Pepin for example) that you have to use a mixer to incorporate the eggs. I did a blind taste test and I cannot tell the difference in taste nor in texture or appearance.

1 cup water

1 stick unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup all purpose flour

4 eggs 

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Get out a large measuring cup or short glass (I find a pint mason jar works great) and put the ziptop bag into it, open the top of the bag. This will give you some stability as you spoon the dough into the bag.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Put the water, butter, salt and sugar in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil until the butter is just melted. Reduce the heat to very low. Add the flour all at one time, mixing with a wooden spoon. Cook over low heat until you start to see a little "film" on the bottom of the pan- only about 1 minute or even less. The dough will come together in a ball. Remove from the heat and allow to cool just a little bit but not too much; the dough has to be warm to accept the eggs. If the dough is too hot, you cook the eggs. This is not good.

If you are using a mixer, this is the time to transfer the dough to the bowl of your mixer. I use the same saucepan and put it on top of a dish towel to keep it from slipping around as I beat in the eggs. It is essential to add the eggs one at a time to your dough. I usually put all 4 eggs in a small bowl and just slip them in, one at a time, beating each with a wooden spoon until it is incorporated then I add the next egg and repeat. At first, it will seem as if you've made a mistake but do not stop. In a few seconds, the dough will go from slippery to a bit sticky as the egg is accepted into the dough. Do this 4 times. Take care not to be too aggressive with the wooden spoon because I have actually tossed an egg out onto the floor... that is how slippery the dough is in the beginning.

Once you have the eggs fully incorporated, spoon the dough into the pastry bag or ziptop bag you have set up. You can use it right away or it will hold beautifully in the fridge until you are ready to use it. I have waited a day or more, in fact, but let the dough sit out at least 20 minutes before you try to pipe it onto the baking sheet or you may blow out the side of the ziptop bag. Again, not good.

Pipe the dough into heart shaped or little puffs (see photo at the top) For the heart, draw the outside and then fill in the middle. For the puffs, I find that swirls don't cook as pretty as simply applying pressure to the bag until the puff is the size I want, then pull the bag back. It forms a little tip when you do this so before you put the into the oven, wet your finger with water and push down any little peaks so they don't burn.

Bake the puffs for 10-12 minutes at 425 degrees. Open the door and quickly rotate the pan and reduce the heat to 350 degrees for 10-12 more minutes. It is important not to simply switch the pan to an oven set to 350. The puffs will deflate.

I've had to trial and error this timing with my oven... and to my taste. I don't want dried out puffs but I also don't want them too wet or eggy. Grab one out, let it cool slightly and check the inside to see if it is what you want. If so, remove them from the oven. If not, give them a minute more.

Take a small paring knife or even a toothpick and puncture the top of the puff so the steam can escape. Allow them to cool on a rack before filling.

1. Boil the butter. 2. See the film. 3. Slippery. 4. Accepted. 5. Ziptop bag prep. 6. Ready to pipe.

1. Piping bag filled. 2. Choux piped onto parchment. 3. Push down any peaks. 4. Pierce the top to release steam.

PASTRY CREAM

For my banana pudding, I did not use a vanilla bean like I normally would because I didn't want the bean flecks in the custard. 

Makes 2 1/2 cups

Prep: 5 minutes    Cook: 12 minutes      Chill: 10 minutes

Supplies: Large bowl filled 1/2 full with ice and water

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup milk plus 3 ounces more (a little more than 1)/2 cup)

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract plus a tiny drop each of almond and lemon extract

8 egg yolks in a medium heat-proof bowl

1/2 cup granulated sugar

6 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 stick unsalted butter 

Make an ice bath in a heat proof bowl by filling it 1/2 full with ice and water.

Put 1 cup of milk and the cream  in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer. (you will see the little bubbles foaming around the edges of the pot)

Remove from the heat.

Add the sugar to the yolks and whisk for 30 seconds to help dissolve the sugar.

Put the saucepan back onto medium heat and bring it back to a simmer. Once you reach the simmer, temper the eggs by briskly whisking a small amount of the hot mixture into the eggs; keep whisking constantly; adding a little more of the hot mixture into the eggs. Continue whisking it in until you have it all incorporated and then return to the saucepan. 

Next, use a fork to whisk/dissolve the cornstarch into the remaining 3 ounces of milk. I just use the measuring cup because it shows the ounces on the outside. It is just under 1/2 cup of milk.

Put the saucepan back over medium heat. Whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Continue whisking or stirring over medium heat. As you are stirring, suddenly, you will notice it beginning to thicken up. Don't think you have ruined it or curdled it. Just keep stirring until it just comes to a boil and is thick. Remove from the heat. 

Put the saucepan into the ice bath you prepared earlier; take care not to allow any water to get into the pan and continue stirring to cool the custard a bit. Add the vanilla, almond and lemon extracts plus the butter and stir until it is completely melted and incorporated. Transfer to a bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap or spoon into a piping bag. Refrigerate until ready to use.

ASSEMBLY

1. Slice the tips off of the puffs. Eat or save for later.

2. Pipe a dollop of pastry cream into the puff.

3. Slice a banana and add one slice on top of the pastry cream.

4. Pipe more pastry cream into each puff, filling it completely.

5. Make the meringue (see recipe below) and top each puff.

6. Bake until the meringue is golden brown.

7. Eat 3-4 as soon as they come out of the oven while warm.

MAKE THE MERINGUE TOPPING

I learned how to make meringue from my mom and I love the way hers was always so light and fluffy. However, my sweet and uber talented pastry chef friend, Geri-Martha taught me to first whisk the egg whites and the sugar together over a double boiler to dissolve the sugar so there is no grit remaining. For the photo above, I did not use the double boiler method, but for the party, I will. I like the texture better if you bother to do the double boiler step. Also, many people use cream of tartar or vinegar in their meringue. I don't because I personally think it creates more "shrinkage" where the meringue pulls away from the crust.

FYI: The ratio for meringue is 4:1. An egg white is about 1 ounce. Therefore you would use about 1 cup of sugar for every 4 egg whites.

CLASSIC MERINGUE RECIPE

4 egg whites

1 cup granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Put the egg whites and the sugar in your mixing bowl (make sure it is heatproof or use a heatproof bowl) over a double boiler that is simmering. Do not let the water touch the bowl and make sure the heat is not a full boil but a simmer.

Rapidly whisk the whites and sugar together until there is no grit remaining. This happens faster than you might think.

Remove from heat. Dry off the bottom and sides of the bowl. Put it on your mixer  stand with the whisk attachment. (if you do not have one, you can just use your hand-held mixer) Start at low speed for 30 seconds then increase the speed to medium high and beat until shiny and stiff peaks form when you lift the whisk from the bowl.

Immediately spoon the whites into a piping bag or ziptop bag. They will not hold long. Snip the tip of the bag and pipe onto your prepared shell taking care to "seal" the edges with the meringue.

Bake at 425 for 4 minutes or until golden brown. 

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Wednesday
Jan152014

Soup Season: Delicious Sausage, White Bean and Escarole Soup Recipe

I love soup. There's hardly anything I like more than a warm bowl of something hearty when it is cold outside. This time of the year, a big pot of soup is the perfect way to feed a big crowd and this recipe for Sausage, White Bean and Escarole soup is not only fast, it is also very affordable. For game day or Winter Olympics viewing parties, you can serve this with a salad and some toasty garlic bread and you're all set!

SAUSAGE, WHITE BEAN AND ESCAROLE SOUP

Serves 6-8

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds of spicy or mild Italian sausage, removed from casing

1 medium yellow onion, diced

5 carrots, diced

3 stalks celery, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

5-6 whole canned tomatoes plus 1/2 cup of juice from Italian canned tomatoes

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

splash white wine (or any) vinegar

1 cup white wine (optional)

5-6 cups low sodium chicken broth 

1 T. Worcestershire sauce

2 bay leaves

2 cans cannelini beans (white pinto beans, Great Northern beans)

2 cups escarole, chopped

Parmesan for garnish

Tabasco-optional

In a large Dutch oven, over medium high heat, brown the sausage, removed from the casing. Once the sausage is nice and brown, use a slotted spoon to remove it from the pan; drain on paper towels. Reserve. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan. Let the oil get hot and add the onion, carrots and celery. Cook 3 minutes or until softened. Let the vegetables get nice and soft, stirring occasionally, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic. Cook one minute more. Add the sausage back to the pot. Add salt, pepper, and thyme. Add the tomatoes by crushing them with your hands into little pieces. Add the juice from the tomatoes, vinegar, Worcestershire, and the white wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up all of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook and stir for about 1-2 minutes.

Add the chicken broth, beans and escarole. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and cook 10 minutes more. The soup is ready to serve when the escarole is wilted. Serve with toasty garlic bread and garnish with grated Parmesan.