Thursday, February 21, 2008

There Will Be Blood (Orange) Milkshake

A Bloody Mess, originally uploaded by chrisfreeland2002.

I was thinking about Oscar party food themes on my drive to work today, should anyone decide to host a party on Sunday (hint, hint Tagert). You know I like a good mashup and so was thinking of dishes inspired by the Best Picture nominees. This was my favorite.

There Will Be Blood is a rip-roaring good film. I liked it A LOT; Paul Thomas Anderson is a genius. Thanks to some good promos and the There Will Be Milkshakes video, by now you know that Daniel Day-Lewis as Daniel Plainview delivers these crazed, amazing lines about a milkshake. The thought of blood milkshakes seemed a little too early in the morning, but blood orange milkshakes sounded intriguing. Turned out to be super easy and delicious - juice some oranges, grate some ginger, whir in a blender with a pint of vanilla bean ice cream, add some whole milk to smooth it all out and a shot of Cointreau for sweetness and zing.

And of course, you must listen to Jonny Greenwood's amazing score for the film while prepping the shakes. I had it cranked. Screw the Academy rules - this is brilliant music and deserves to win (let alone be nominated).

1 pint vanilla bean ice cream, softened
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
2 blood oranges, juiced & strained
1 shot Cointreau or other orange liquor

Add ingredients to blender and puree until smooth, adding more milk to desired consistency. Garnish with a wedge of blood orange. Serve with a straw. Resist the urge to yell "I drink your milkshake. SLUUURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!"

Up next in the PT Anderson Recipe oeuvre: Boogie Nights Sausage Rolls with Coke...

Chris Freeland
cfreeland27 (at)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Vanilla sugar

Vanilla sugar, originally uploaded by chrisfreeland2002.

So this is the easiest, tastiest way to dress up sugar, ever. Put sugar in an airtight container, bury a piece of vanilla bean in it, and store in a cool place away from direct light. From time to time, shake the container to stir up the contents. After a week or two you'll have vanilla flavored sugar, perfect for adding some oomph to coffee or dressing up whipped cream.

Trust me, you'll love this sugar. And it smells like heaven.

Chris Freeland
cfreeland27 (at)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Scharffen Snap Pie

My grandma used to make the best chocolate cream pie. My grandma made great pies period, but her chocolate was my favorite. I had been looking for a good chocolate cream pie recipe and found one in the Feb 2008 issue of Food & Wine - Chocolate Cream Pie. The whole point of the article was to take a dish and make 2 versions; one upscale, one down home. Hmm....what a novel concept. Their upscale chocolate cream dessert was a chocolate souffle with vanilla creme anglaise. Nice and all, but I wanted an upscale chocolate cream pie. So, I took the basic recipe and twisted it up a bit to make Scharffen (Berger Chocolate Cream Ginger) Snap Pie.

Follow the recipe, making the following additions and substitutions.

-Use ginger snaps instead of chocolate wafers in the crust. I think the combination of ginger & chocolate is really nice, and a bit unusual.

-Steep the whole milk used in the filling with a vanilla bean. Take a 2-3 inch section of vanilla bean and split it down the middle. Add it to the 2 cups whole milk in a pan. Bring just to a simmer, cover and steep off heat for 20 minutes. After steeping, remove the vanilla bean pod and scrape the tiny seeds into the milk and stir. Strain the milk to remove any solids and continue using in recipe as instructed.

-Use really good chocolate. I used Scharffen Berger, which is fantastic. There are really so many good chocolates on the market now that finding one isn't hard; finding one you like is...but what a fun taste-test!

-The recipe calls for 4 ounces semisweet and 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate. I used 2 ounces semisweet, 2 ounces bittersweet, and 1 ounce unsweetened. I threw in the bittersweet because I like a darker, stronger chocolate flavor.

The pie turned out really, really well. I'll definitely be making this one again.

Chris Freeland
cfreeland27 (at)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Chicken & dumplings, sorta

I've been sick the past couple of days and have been craving a really good chicken soup. I finally felt well enough to cook and so decided to fix this unusual take on chicken & dumplings.

Tortellini is an extremely versatile base for many recipes. I particularly like the frozen cheese tortellini available in most supermarkets because it cooks fast. I use it in this chicken soup in place of a traditional flour dumpling, which makes for a really filling soup. My brother actually came up with the basic premise of this recipe (Go, Scott!) and I've adapted it with some mexican heat.

2 tsp oil, separated
1/4 lb bacon, chopped
3 chicken breasts
1 large red onion, finely chopped
4 carrots, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, whole
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dry white wine
1 large can of chicken broth
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 bag frozen cheese tortellini
1/4-1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 lime, quartered

Heat 1 tsp oil in a large dutch oven or soup pot. Add bacon and brown, removing to paper towels. Add chicken, browning 4 minutes each side. Remove chicken to plate. Pour off all but 2 T drippings. Add celery, 3/4 onion, 2 chopped carrots, ground cumin and ground coriander. Cook until vegetables soften, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and chopped jalapeño, cooking for 2 minutes. Add wine and deglaze, scraping up browned bits at the bottom of the pan. Return chicken, bacon and juices to pot. Add chicken broth and more wine if needed to cover the chicken. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until chicken is cooked through, 20 minutes.

Remove chicken to plate and shred into large chunks using a fork or fingers. Strain off cooking liquid and discard solids. Strain cooking liquid again through cheesecloth to remove extra fats and solids.

In pot heat 1 tsp oil. Add cumin seeds and cook for 1-2 minutes, until seeds become aromatic. Add remaining carrots, onion, and whole jalapeño and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Deglaze with white wine. Add shredded chicken and cooking liquid. Bring to a boil. Add frozen tortellini, cilantro, and lime, and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until tortellini is cooked through. Let rest off heat 5 minutes, removing lime and jalapeño, spooning off any fat that accumulates on the surface. Serve in large bowls with a dollop of sour cream.

Chris Freeland
cfreeland27 (at)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Cafe Du Monde Beignets for Mardi Gras breakfast

St. Louis has a big Mardi Gras celebration and this year was especially fun. For the past couple of years our neighbors Rik and Dawn have driven us down to Soulard and dropped us off - so convenient, so nice. Rik was kind enough to fire up the Shuttle again this year, so I thought I'd make a New Orleans-inspired treat as a thank you - Cafe Du Monde beignets. I made them a little smaller than the originals, and from what I sampled they were good!

Chris Freeland
cfreeland27 (at)

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Indochine Chaat Mix

Who doesn't love a good Chex mix? I remember making it when I was a kid in the early 80's and it's still one of my favorite party snax. It shows up at most country shindigs (especially abundant during the holidays, for some reason) and everyone has their own spin on the recipe. This is my take, inspired by a recipe my sister gave me at Christmas, spiced up with Indian and Asian flavors (thus Indochine; I'm a big fan of neologisms).

Chaat is a term for savory snacks sold in roadside food carts or stalls throughout India and South Asia. They are generally small servings intended to carry you through to the next meal, or you can make a meal out of several, like tapas. Chex mix is like that, too. You can have a little handful, or you can eat the entire bowl...

The best thing about this recipe is you can really just throw in whatever kind of cereal/nuts/snacks you have on hand. Keep it loose and have fun with it!

1 cup oil
1 small package Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing mix
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp lemon pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp Chinese Five spice
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Dry Ingredients:
1/2 lb pretzels (about half of a big bag)
2 cups Rice Chex
2 cups Corn Chex
2 cups Wheat Chex
1 cup cashews
1 cup Spanish peanuts
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup wasabi peas
1 cup sesame sticks

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Whisk seasonings together and pour over dry ingredients in a large bowl. Turn to coat. Spread evenly on baking sheet(s) and bake for 1 1/2 hours, shaking the sheet halfway through baking to separate the mix. Cool on paper towels and store in an airtight container.

Chris Freeland
cfreeland27 (at)