Category Archives: Test Kitchen

Experiments.

Crescent Roll Crust – Asparagus and Ham Quiche

I wanted to prepare quiche for breakfast but was looking for a lighter alternative for the crust since most quiche recipes call for a standard pie crust. Standard pie crusts are made with a lot of fat and tend to be somewhat heavy and have a flaky, crumbly texture.

I considered using puff pastry, but it is very high in fat and would not have provided the texture of the crust I had in mind. Another possibility I considered was phyllo dough, but that would have resulted in a crispy flaky crust. Plus, although phyllo dough itself is low in fat, in order to achieve the layers it is necessary to brush between each, usually with either melted butter or olive oil.

A friend (who not so coincidentally loves them) suggested using crescent rolls for the crust. Unaware of any other examples of using crescent rolls as crust for a quiche, I decide to try an experiment and use them.

Here are the results.

Crescent Roll Crust Asparagus and Ham Quiche

CRESCENT ROLL CRUST – ASPARAGUS AND HAM QUICHE

Ingredients
5 Crescent Rolls (I used low fat)

1 T Butter
8 Asparagus Spears, fresh
¼ Ham cubed
2 T Jalapeno pickled, chopped canned
1 c Spinach leaves, fresh chopped

4 Eggs
1 c Cream, heavy whipping
½ t Pepper

Smoked Gouda

Instructions
Open the package of crescent rolls. Lay out 5 of them into a 9 inch pie pan starting around the top edge and pressing the dough until it forms a complete crust.

Bake crescent roll pie crust in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Trim off the fibrous end of the asparagus spears and cut into 1/2 inch segments. Saute in butter until soft, add cubed ham and cook until lightly browned. Heat jalapeno pieces with asparagus and ham then place in baked pie crust.

Whip eggs with cream and pepper then pour over asparagus, ham, and jalapenos.

Thinly slice smoked gouda and lay over the top totally covering the quiche.

Bake Quiche in a 425 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until jiggling the pan indicates the middle is firm. The cheese will also start to brown.

This recipe resulted in a very creamy quiche with a perfect crust. I will definitely make this again.

Pie Crust Shield

NOTE: You will need to either use a collar of aluminum foil or a pie crust shield to prevent the crust from burning while the quiche is baking. I got my pie crust shield for a reasonable price at Bed, Bath and Beyond. Check after 15 minutes of baking and if the crust edge is browning cover with foil or pie crust shield for the remainder of the time in the oven.

BTW – I baked the remaining 3 crescent rolls on a separate pan while cooking the crust the first time.

Homemade Corned Beef

As I have mentioned before the bulk of my interest in food comes from my parents, this post is one of their traditions that I tried to capture and share with everyone.  This tradition is a something that developed a few years ago and we’ve been doing every year since.  My family really enjoys corned beef, we also noticed that corned beef’s seemed to be of lower quality year after year, they just weren’t how they used to make them.  So we set out to create corned beef’s that reminded us of the corned beef’s of yesterday, but first a little history on the nobel corned beef.

Before we jumped blindly into this project we were curious on the history of corned beef, so we could better understand the tradition and even the scheduling of when and why they were made.  One of the first things we learned is the exact origins of corned beef has been lost, but it is generally agreed that it was done to preserve the meat and make less desirable cuts of beef more tender and flavorful.  A few hundred years ago there were no refrigerators and if you had to travel or survive a winter when your food supply migrated away from you, you had to find a way to survive.  If you’re optimistic and you or your tribe were extremely successful with hunting you’d want to preserve as much of the meat as possible, creating corned beef would be a great way to do this.

The next is the scheduling, why is it that the majority of American’s who eat corned beef eat it in March?  In most of North America March is the end or near end of winter, in order to make corned beef you need to be able to store the meat in a cold temperature for a long period of time.  Even in this day and age not many people have walk in refrigerators in their homes so that means leaving it in a garage or outside.  The main thing to do is keep the meat as close to 45 degrees F as you can for 10-21 days (different recipes call for different lengths of time, some go for much longer than 21 days).  During this time period you need to make sure the meat stays submerged in the brine and it’s generally recommended to give it a stir once a day.

So what is corned beef?  Corned beef is brined beef, typically brisket of beef.  The brining not only adds flavor, but it also tenderizes the meat and changes it’s color.  Brine is in it’s simplest form a pickling liquid which is made from water, salt, sugar and seasonings.  You probably see where this is going now, in order to make corned beef all you do is create the brine, chill it, place the beef in the brine, keep it cool for a few weeks while stirring once a day, ensuring the beef is submerged and then you have corned beef.  The theory is very simple, making all of these items come together in a way that resembles corned beef is a little trickier.

The exact recipe for the brine we use I do not have, Alton Brown has a good basic recipe for you to start with, after that batch you can start tweaking the ingredients to suit your needs.  One of the tricky items to find is Saltpeter, which absolutely must be used when making corned beef.  In addition to adding preservation to the meat it is responsible for the pink hue of the meat which is a staple of corned beef.  The ratio of seasonings, salts and sugar you use varied depending on the size of the batch you’re making.  It seems every year we make a larger and larger batch which is another reason I don’t know our ratio’s.

We start by grinding pickling seasoning, along with black peppercorns and other seasonings using a mortar and pestle.

Grinding Pickling Seasoning

Then we add them to the brining liquid which we are heating on the stove to help aid in dissolving the salts and sugar.

cooking corned beef brine

This is a catch 22 because as soon as everything is dissolved adequately we have to cool it, there is no simple or easy way to cool a lot of water so we just add ice until the temperature is correct.

cooling corned beef brine

Once the brine is brought down to 45 degrees F we then add it to our brining vessel and the brining of the corned beef’s begins!

corned beef in container to be aged

Now we hurry up and wait :( After several years of testing we’ve found that 3 weeks is the sweet spot for us. I cannot stress the importance of keeping them chilled, if you let the temperature increase even a little bit you run a risk of having bacteria enter the equation and the beef discoloring – which happened to us last year.  The outside of the meat turned gray but the inside was still an inspiring hue of corned beef deliciousness.  We ran into the problem because my family moved from NY to NC and winters down here just aren’t as cold so we had to get a cooler to keep our corned beef’s in with ice around it to keep it the right temperature.

After 3 weeks of daily checks and adding ice approximately every 3 days we are ready!  I present you with fresh, just out of the brine corned beef’s!

finished corned beef

We went a little crazy this year so we ended up using a vacuum sealer and plan on freezing the majority of the corned beef’s this year so we’ll have them throughout the year.  Here is the full harvest on my parents stove.

vacuum packed corned beef

We had our first one about 2 weeks ago now and I think this may have been the best batch to date.  The first year they were a little heavy on the garlic and cloves,  then we adjusted on the second year and they came out very good, last year we ran into the discoloration problem, but this year they are spectacular.

Cooking the corned beef’s is about as simple as it gets, simmer it for 2.5-3 (or longer depending on the size) hours and serve with your favorite corned beef sides!  Some people like to add seasonings such as cloves, carrots or other seasonings or aromatics to the braising liquid, we find ours to be so flavorful it’s just not needed.  Great leftovers, or as corned beef sandwich’s – how ever you like your corned beef this is the only way to go.

Below is an image of the first corned beef that we cooked – delicious!

cooked corned beef

Candied Pecans – Sugar Free

I have mentioned in previous posts the fact that I have a number of friends with special dietary needs. Because of this I make a special effort to produce items from my kitchen they can eat too.

Raw Pecans Halves

I make this sugar free candied pecan recipe for a safe sweet snack they can enjoy. The coating has the taste and texture of cotton candy. Not only are they good to serve at parties, but they make a great gift too.

CANDIED SUGAR FREE PECANS

Ingredients
1 c Pecans, raw
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1/3 c Sucralose

Instructions
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Roast raw pecans in oven on the baking sheet for 10 minutes then allow to cool.

Beat egg white, blend in Sucralose, add nuts and toss to coat.

Pecans Ready for Coating

Spread mixture evenly onto baking sheet.

Bake 30 minutes or until nuts are toasted, stirring every 10 – 15 minutes. *

Pecans Ready for Roasting

Cool for 30 minutes.

If you prefer one of the following can be added along with the Sucralose and nuts.

1 t Maple flavoring
1 t Vanilla
2 t Cinnamon, ground

Candied Sugar Free Pecans

* As the pecans roast, the coating will begin to harden. As it does, it is important to separate the nuts or they will stick together. Also, you will need to ‘work’ the baked nuts after cooking to remove excess coating. Make sure not to pack the loose coating in with the finished nuts if you are giving them as a gift.

Cookies for Santa – Oatmeal Raisin

Christmas Eve is coming up quickly. Maybe you are wondering what kind of cookies to make for Santa’s special visit, or are just looking for the right cookie to serve to your guests. Here is a winning cookie recipe crafted in the Lukewarm Legumes test kitchen for you to try and just in time for the holidays. These cookies are not too sweet, or too filling, but are definitely delicious. They have the heartiness of oatmeal and the subtle sweetness of raisins combined with brown sugar and real butter. How could you go wrong?

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

OATMEAL RAISIN COOKIES

Ingredients
1 c Butter, softened
¾ c Sugar, brown packed
½ c Sugar, white
2 Eggs
1 t Vanilla

1 ½ c Flour, all purpose
½ t Salt, Kosher
1 t Baking powder
1 t Baking soda
1 t Cinnamon, ground

3 c Oats
1 c Raisins

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cream together the butter, brown sugar, sugar, eggs and vanilla until smooth.

Ready for Creaming

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together.

Mix the flour mixture into the butter/sugar mixture.

Stir in the oats, and raisins.

Form into balls and place on cookie sheets covered with parchment paper.

Ready for Baking

Cookies should be placed about two inches apart to allow for spreading since they have a lot of butter.

Bake them for 5 minutes then rotate and switch oven shelf placement, if baking more than two sheets at a time. Bake for 5 minutes and repeat until fully baked.

Fresh From The Oven

Remove from the oven when they begin turning golden brown.

Transfer to cooling racks.

Fantastic Breakfast Casserole

Sometimes breakfast is a rushed time of day. When this is the case it can present a number of challenges to the cook especially if they are preparing breakfast in someone else’s kitchen.

I had promised to prepare breakfast for a special occasion at someone else’s home, and wanted to have it ready when I arrived. The challenge was to make a breakfast that would taste great, be hearty, satisfying, and portable, yet not take a lot of time to get ready. So, my idea was to make a one dish recipe that could be made in advance, baked, transported, and ready to serve on arrival.

Breakfast Casserole

The following is the result of a dish prepared in the LukewarmLegumes Test Kitchen that is not only easy to make, but your guests will all be clamoring for seconds. With the holidays upon us and all the visiting, visitors, and meal preparation that goes along with it, this dish just might be what you need. I promise your guests won’t be disappointed.

FANTASTIC BREAKFAST CASSEROLE

Ingredients
1 c Rice, cooked (3 cups)

3 Eggs
½ t Salt
¼ t Pepper
¼ c Cream

2 T Flour
2 T Bacon drippings or butter
1 c Milk

Bunch Green onions, chopped
½ Red Bell pepper, chopped

12 oz. Bacon, cooked and chopped *

3 c Cheddar cheese, grated

Instructions
The base of this dish is a bed of rice. So the first task in preparing it is to cook the rice by taking one cup of rice, adding it to two cups of boiling water, and simmering for 30 minutes.

Place the cooked rice in the bottom of a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Mix together the eggs, salt, pepper and cream and pour over the rice. Prepare gravy with the flour, bacon drippings (or butter), and milk and pour over the rice/egg layer.

Egg and Gravy Layer

For the next layer sprinkle the chopped green onion and red bell pepper. Then comes the chopped bacon layer.

Veggie and Bacon Layer

Spread the grated cheddar cheese over all.

Then prepare the biscuit dough (see recipe below) and spoon over the top.

Biscuit Layer

Baked in an oven preheated to 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until the top is a golden brown and the filling is bubbling.

Here is a list of the layers in order:
• Rice
• Egg mixture
• Gravy
• Veggies
• Bacon
• Grated Cheese
• Biscuits

BISCUITS

Ingredients
2 c Flour
1 T Baking powder
½ t Baking soda
1 t Salt
½ t Garlic powder
1 t Parsley
½ t Pepper

12 T Butter

1 c Buttermilk

1 c Cheddar cheese

Instructions
Combine dry ingredients. Cut in butter. Stir in buttermilk. Mix in cheese. Work the dough only until it is blended.

* After cooking the bacon, in order to conserve the bacon drippings for use in your recipe, I recommend using a metal colander and draining over a dish to capture the drippings rather than using paper towels because the paper towels will absorb the juices and make then unusable.

Bacon Draining

Home Made Chocolate Syrup

Chocolate Syrup is a staple food around my home. It goes into a lot of things including milk, coffee, and over ice cream. Up until now I always had on hand the name brand readymade chocolate syrup. However, my pantry backup system failed me and when the bottle we were using became empty there wasn’t another one on hand to replace it with.

Ice Cream with Chocolate Syrup

This was just the inspiration it took for me to attempt making my own chocolate syrup from scratch. After all, my usual kitchen policy is to shy away from anything that is already prepared. So, why not chocolate syrup as well?

It is actually pretty simple to make, the ingredients being: sweeteners, cocoa powder, water to blend, a touch of salt, and vanilla.

The real challenge is balancing the heat to prevent the mixture from boiling over. This mixture when boiling is unstable and must be watched constantly – you will probably need to make several adjustments to the heat while preparing it.

Chocolate Syrup Cooking

However, the results are very satisfying. This method produces about 4 cups of delicious chocolate syrup.

HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE SYRUP

Ingredients
1 ½ c Water
4 c Sugar
3 T Corn Syrup, light
¼ t Salt, Kosher

1 ½ c Cocoa powder

1 T Vanilla

Instructions
Mix the water, sugar, corn syrup and salt in a pan and bring to a boil. Add the cocoa powder and stir until blended well. Continue to boil and stir until the mixture thickens. Don’t worry if the syrup seems too thin after boiling, it will thicken significantly once it cools.

Just before you turn off the heat and the vanilla and mix. Be careful at this step because the vanilla will immediately boil and steam.

Cool completely, transfer to a container, and store in the refrigerator. It will keep for several months in the refrigerator, but you’ll probably never find out – it is that good.