Monday, November 17, 2014

Celery Root with Vanilla Bean (Video)

YouTube Link: Celery Root with Vanilla Bean
More Videos: Helen's Kitchen Channel

2 large celery roots, peeled, washed, dried, diced
1/4 olive oil
1/2 vanilla bean (optional)
1-4 Tbsp heavy cream to add when pureeing (optional)
1-2 Tbsp butter to add when pureeing (optional)

Lingonberry or black currant jam for topping (optional)

What's in Helen's Kitchen (pots, pans, cutlery, and more)

Many of you have been asking me to set up a page with all the cooking equipment that I like to use. It's finally here! Instead of being scattered in 20 different blog posts, everything is in one place on amazon. Your purchases through my store will help me earn a small commission, which will turn into better video equipment and better videos for you guys.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Apple Galette (Video)

YouTube Link: Apple Galette
More Videos: Helen's Kitchen Channel

Good apple varieties for baking: honey crisp, pink lady, granny smith, golden blushing, golden delicious, Northern spy, braeburn.  

Bad apple varieties for baking: cortland, macintosh, red delicious

For apple filling:
4 medium apples, peeled, cored, cut into wedges
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Squirt of lemon (2-3 tsp depending on how sour the apples are)
4 Tbsp sugar
Tiniest pinch of salt 

For shaping:
2 Tbsp sugar to put on the bottom of the dough under the fruit
1 Tbsp butter to brush dough and apples
1-2 Tbsp sugar to sprinkle on top of shaped galette

For glazing the apples:
Juice released by the apples
1 Tbsp apricot preserve

All instructions are in the video.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Caramelized Pear Ginger Tart (Video)

YouTube Link: Caramelized Pear Ginger Tart
More Videos: Helen's Kitchen Channel

Caramelized Pear Ginger Tart

Note about skillet: I use a 10 inch stainless steel all-clad or tramontina skillet. Non-stick pans also work. Cast iron might be a bit heavy to lift and flip. If you haven't done much weight lifting in the gym lately, this might not be the best pan for this tart.

In advance tip: You can cook the pears and roll out the dough earlier in the day, but start baking the tart no earlier than 1 hour before serving. The pears tend to wrinkle as the tart cools off and don't taste quite as good as when it's just baked.  The dough should be refrigerated after rolling out, but the pears should not be refrigerated after cooking (this can turn the caramel runny).

Burnt pears tip: If the pears burnt a little, don't panic. Take a paring knife and slice a sliver off the top after baking and inverting the tart. I prefer the pears and caramel to be more brown rather than less.

4 large Bosc pears (buy 5 just in case)
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tbsp minced ginger (optional)
Pâte Brisée (pie and tart dough) for one 10-inch tart (see the videos below)

Make the dough at least 1 day before baking
Dough video by hand
Dough video with a food processor
Rolling out pie dough video

Peel, halve, and core pears. In a 9- to 10-inch heavy skillet heat butter over moderate heat until foam subsides. Stir in sugar (sugar will not be dissolved). Arrange pears, cut sides up, in skillet, with the skinny end of pears pointing into the middle of the pan. If you have a half of pear left over, cut a circle out of it and place it in the middle of the skillet domed side down. The pears will make a sort of flower in the skillet. Cook without stirring until sugar mixture forms a deep golden caramel. (This can take as little as 10 minutes or as much as 25, depending on skillet and stove.) Cool pears completely in skillet. Sprinkle with cinnamon and ginger.

Preheat oven to 425°F and set a rack in the upper third of the oven. On a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin roll out dough into a 12-inch round (about 1/8 inch thick) and arrange over pears. Tuck edges into the skillet around pears. Bake tart in the upper third of the oven until pastry is deep brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest 5 minutes, but not longer. Have ready a rimmed serving plate slightly larger than skillet. Invert plate over skillet and, wearing oven mitts and keeping plate and skillet firmly pressed together, invert tart onto plate. Do this over the sink in case some juices spill. This is a bit scary, but it works! The trick is to do it in one very fast motion. Let cool until warm, 10-15 minutes. Serve tart warm with whipped cream or creme fraiche.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Braised Turkey Thighs

YouTube Link: Braised Turkey Thighs
More Videos: Helen's Kitchen Channel

Inspired by Kenji Lopez-Alt's recipe on

4 turkey thighs
1 Tbsp oil (grapeseed, safflower, canola -- anything with high smoke point)
1 large carrot, large dice
1 celery sticks, large dice
1 large onion, large dice
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 rosemary sprigs
10 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 cups red wine (not too tannic)
2 cups salt-free or low-sodium chicken or turkey stock
3 Tbsp butter at room temperature
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp pomegranate molasses or to taste

If you can't get your hands on pomegranate molasses, try a splash or balsamic vinegar.  Another (probably most traditional) method of adding acidity to the braising liquid is to add 1-2 Tbsp of tomato paste along with your red wine.  If you do end up buying pomegranate molasses, you can keep it at room temperature indefinitely and I am sure you'll find plenty of uses for it.  So don't feel like you are buying a whole bottle just for this splash and wasting the rest.

Braising time and temperature:
This dish takes 1 h 45 min and up to 3 hours in 275F oven.  Why such a big difference in timing?  At low temperatures, a 25 degree difference makes a big difference.  When you set your oven to 275F, it might really be 300F or 250F, so the timing will vary depending on the oven, the size and shape of your pan, and the size of the thighs.  Start it assuming it might take 3 hours.  If it's done quickly, you can always rewarm it.

If we were to cover the skillet, the timing would be more predictable.  When braises are cooked covered, the pressure builds up in the pot and eventually the liquid boils, so whether you set your oven to 250F or to 300F, you are eventually cooking in 212F liquid.  When the pot is left uncovered, the temperature of the oven starts playing a bigger difference.  But a covered pot will result in flabby skin, that's why we cook this braise uncovered.

If your turkey cooled off, it's easy to rewarm by setting it back in the strained and degreased braising liquid and simmering it gently to warm back up.  Just make sure to keep it skin side up.

Re-crisping the skin
You'll notice that the skin will lose its crispness very quickly.  Right before serving, I like to brush the top of each thigh lightly with neutral tasting oil (grapeseed, safflower, or canola) and pop under the broiler.  You want to be very far from the broiling element, and give it good 3-6 minutes.  In my oven, I set it in the bottom third of the oven while my broiling element is on top of the oven.  Watch it very closely.  I suggest you do this on one thigh to get an idea of a good setting for you.  Even if you don't manage to re-crisp the skin, the turkey will still be delicious

Scaling the recipe to feed more people
4 thighs should serve 8-10 people.  They should fit nicely into a 12 inch skillet or a large dutch oven.  If you want to cook more thighs, you can brown them in batches in a skillet, and set aside.  Then make your sauce in the same skillet and pour it into a large oven safe baking dish or two (like a turkey roasting pan).  Put your thighs on top and put in the oven.

Happy Thanksgiving!