Monday, April 30, 2012

Blue Cheese Crusted Filet Mignon with Port Wine Sauce

This is so delicious I've made it twice now... once as an appetizer with thin slices of beef, once as an entree.

1 tablespoon butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 cup beef broth
3/4 cup port wine
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 steaks
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
Salt and pepper, to taste

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic and thyme.  Cook until the garlic is tender, then stir in the beef broth and port wine.  Bring the sauce to a boil, and reduced to about 3/4 cup.  Set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix the panko crumbs and blue cheese.  Drizzle the olive oil over the steaks and season with salt and pepper.  Now you have a choice... you can grill the steaks and finish them in the oven, or cook them entirely in the oven.  If you want to grill them, simply grill on high for about 2 minutes, then bring inside, coat with blue cheese mixture and transfer to the oven at 375 degrees for an additional 5 minutes.

Or, sear the steaks in olive oil in a skillet and then cook in the oven at 375 degrees for about 12 minutes, then remove, top with the blue cheese mixture, and broil for just a minute or two until the cheese melts.

Let the steaks rest for 5-10 minutes before serving with the warm port wine sauce.  I sauteed some mushrooms in the port wine sauce and served them on the side... yum!  Enjoy!

Goat Cheese Truffles with Drunken Carbonated Grapes

These are gorgeous and I adore the idea of a "drink" and an appetizer in one bite.

Yield: About 30 bite sized truffles

1 10 ounce container plain goat cheese
1 8 ounce package cream cheese
1/4 cup chopped pecans (toasted with 2 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp brown sugar)
1 tsp lemon juice
Salt and white pepper, to taste

Additional Ingredients:
Drunken Carbonated Grapes


Carbonate the grapes according the the recipe above.  Then, toast the chopped pecans in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and mix in the brown sugar and butter while the pecans are still hot, allowing the sugar and butter to melt and coat the pecans.  Allow to cool.

Next, mix goat cheese, chream cheese, lemon juice and salt and pepper in a bowl until combined.  Roll the cheese mixture into balls about an inch in diameter.  Then roll the goat cheese balls in the pecans.

Finally, take the drunken carbonated grapes and dry them off.  Using a toothpick, skewer a grape to the top of each cheese truffle, then place on a serving platter.  For presentation purposes, you can set out a few grape clusters as well.  Serve these truffles as is, or with bread, crackers or other fruits.  Cheers!

Drunken Carbonated Grapes

I had a carbonated grape in a dish at Moto (amazing restaurant!) a couple of months ago and had no idea how they had done it. As I was preparing for a party, planning a truffle with a drunken grape garnish, I remembered how delightful that carbonated grape was, so I looked it up online. Dry ice is the answer!

Suddenly I was on a mission to get my hands on some, which involved arguing with Kyle about buying it (he was certain I would blow up the house), and driving to the South Side, since there are only two places in the city of Chicago where you can buy this stuff.

Once I brought it home, I saw what all the fuss is about. Without thinking, I unwrapped the block and set it in my sink, which immediately began to rattle and shake. It sounded as though a giant creature was rising from below. Lesson learned... I took it out of the sink and placed it on a plastic cutting board, which seemed fine.

Then I used a hammer to smash it into small chunks, while Kyle and the puppy hid downstairs. In retrospect, I should have had them do this for me at the ice supplier. Whoops.

Anyway, here is the "recipe"....


Dry ice
1 bottle red wine

Procure some dry ice (in spite of your loved one's concerns). Place pieces of it in a bowl. The dry ice is about -100 degrees in temperature, so only handle it while wearing gloves. Set the grapes on top of the dry ice. Allow time for the dry ice to sublime, which should take about 10 minutes. This is a chemical process in which the dry ice will turn into carbon dioxide gas.. and is one of the reasons why dry ice is dangerous. Do not seal the ice in a closed container, as that could cause an explosion. As the ice sublimes, the gas will push into the grapes. The fruit will freeze and become carbonated.

Once the fruit has had time to carbonate, take the grapes and place them in a bowl. If desired, slice them in half. You will see the bubbles erupting from the fruit, showing that it is carbonated. Pour the bottle of wine over the grapes. Allow to soak in the wine for about 30 minutes (any longer and you risk losing some of the carbonation) and serve! Cheers!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Poached Chicken Breast with Tarragon Cream Sauce

I know it will come as quite a shock that I'm posting a chicken recipe, since I've declared my apathy toward chicken many times on this blog. However, I have to concede that if you take the time to cook it properly, it can be good.

This is a recipe I learned in culinary school and I took step by step pictures of the method, as you could apply this to any type of protein (it is particularly good with chicken or fish).

Yield: 2 entree size portions

2 chicken breasts, bonelesss and skinless
2 ounces butter
Salt and white pepper, to taste
2 ounces dry white wine
12 ounces chicken stock
1/4 Bay leaf
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
4 ounces heavy cream
2-3 fresh tarragon sprigs

Choose a pan that will just hold the breasts when they are placed close together. The pan should basically be just big enough to hold the chicken without crowding it, but not much bigger.

Rub the bottom of the pan with a bit of the butter, reserving the rest. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then arrange them in the buttered pan. Add the white wine, stock, bay leaf, and fresh tarragon.

Cut and butter a piece of parchment paper into a circle, with a small hole in the middle. Cover the chicken breasts. Bring the liquid to a simmer and then reduce the temperature to low to poach the chicken.

In a small separate pan, make a blond roux with 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of flour. Set aside to cool.

The chicken should take about 15-20 minutes to poach. Watch the color changing; once the chicken pieces have turned entirely white, they will be nearly done. When the chicken breasts are cooked through, remove them from the pan and set aside. Thicken the liquid with the roux. Add the cream. Simmer and reduce to the desired consistency. Strain the sauce (or just remove tarragon and bay leaves) and adjust the seasonings to taste.

Serve each breast with sauce, garnish with bay leaf or a sprig of fresh tarragon.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cheese Stuffed Meatball Sliders

My little brother lives in California and I live in Chicago, but he likes to send me recipes anyway, and then ask me how they turned out... somehow, he is eating vicariously through this blog!  He sent me a picture of a meatball slider one day, so this post is in ode to him.  Thanks Lee!

20 slider size meatballs

1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground turkey
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 eggs
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
3 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup dried bread crumb
2 tablespoons basil leaves
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into cubes
4 ounces of shredded mozzarella cheese
Slider or dinner rolls
1 cup pasta sauce, jarred or homemade

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a bowl, place meats, egg, parmesan, breadcrumbs, garlic, and seasonings.  Mix until combined.  Spray one or two baking sheets with non-stick spray.

Take a large tablespoon of the meat mixture and one of the mozzarella chunks.  Wrap the meat around the mozzarella, rolling to seal.  Each meatball should be approximately golf ball sized.

Once all of the meatballs have been set on the tray(s), place in the oven.  The meatballs should bake for 30-40 minutes at 400 degrees.  Turn them once, halfway through, so that both sides get browned.

I was worried that the cheese would pour out during the cooking process, but that didn't happen at all.  Some of the smaller balls leaked a bit, but for the most part the cheese stayed encased within the meatballs.

So, the meatballs are out of the oven... and you're probably wondering, what do I do now?  The answer is obvious - add more cheese, of course!  Take the shredded mozzarella and sprinkle it over the meatballs.  If it does not seem to be melting easily, you can put them back in the still warm oven, or use a microwave to melt the cheese.

Time to serve!  I recommend toasting the buns so the sandwiches don't get soggy.  After that, add one hot meatball to the bun, drench in marinara sauce, and add the basil garnish.  Delicious!  Enjoy!

Babycakes Pancake Video

Hopefully all of this food truck promo isn't getting obnoxious!

I couldn't resist posting this video because Kyle did such a good job filming and editing it.  Having a filmaker in the house is really coming in handy!  Pancakes have never been so sexy....

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Babycakes Test Drive

Check out the video Kyle shot for the food truck.  My first test drive... I almost look like a natural driving a big red truck!  

Babycakes Test Drive

Babycakes Pancakes

I haven't had a lot of time to post lately, as I've been testing recipes for the food truck I purchased.  So, I thought I would share some pictures of the recipes I've created.  I am trying to turn boring old traditional pancakes into fun, silly, decadent gourmet creations!

I won't share the recipes... just yet... but if you like to cook, I'm sure you can figure some of them out!  More to come.

Candied Apple

Maple Bacon

 Strawberry Margarita

Carrot Cake 


Banana Split

 White Chocolate Macadamia

Root Beer Float

Candy Bar Explosion

Irish Coffee

Chocolate Dipped Strawberry


Spicy Sausage Apple

Pumpkin Pie

Wedding Cake

Caramel Apple

Red Velvet

Cinnamon Bun

Peanut Butter Cup

Lemon Poppyseed

 German Chocolate

Green Chile & Corn

Pina Colada

 Pistachio Cream

Pineapple Right Side Up Pancake
 Banana Walnut

Blueberry Cream

Chocolate Chip

Cotton Candy

Key Lime Pie

Mango Madness

Mint Chocolate

Tres Leches

Bacon Date

Dark Chocolate Orange

Passion Fruit

Sunny Side Up Bacon Pancakes

If you want to keep up to date on the status of the food truck, subscribe to my Twitter feed - @babycakestruck or like Babycakes on Facebook at truck.  The truck is set to launch on the Chicago city streets June 1st!  Stay tuned...