The Social Diner

Favorite recipes and stories about home cooking. We love comfort food and dishes that warm the heart. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Roasted Chestnut Soup

Roasted Chestnut Soup

The first time I had chestnut soup was at a small French Bistro in the West Village. It was mid-December in New York City and I looked like a living snowman when I entered Bouchon Bistro and Wine Bar. My friend was a regular there and insisted I try their chestnut soup. It was love at first taste!

However, I moved to San Francisco the following year and couldn’t find this delicious dish on a menu anywhere. And after a two-year-long chestnut soup craving, I decided to figure out how to make it at home.

In the winter months, especially when it’s extra cold outside, this velvety rich soup is the perfect dish to warm you up. I guarantee you’ll love it!

Ingredients for Roasted Chestnut Soup- 6 cups stock: would suggest half duck and half beef. I usually make the duck stock from scratch.
  • 5 whole Star Anise
  • 2 cups Roasted Chestnuts: packaged is fine, but just to be clear, water chestnuts are NOT the same thing as chestnuts. Here’s a great link for easy chestnut roasting instructions.
  • ½ cup of brandy
  • Dash of Clove
  • Heavy whipping cream
  • Salt to taste

In a large pot, bring the stock to a boil. Reduce heat so that the soup is brought to a simmer. Add the star anise and continue to simmer for 10 minutes. Add the chestnuts and simmer for approximately 20 minutes – or until the chestnuts begin to break apart. Remove the stock from the heat.

Using a ladle, spoon soup and chestnuts into a blender – this may take 2 rounds. Hold the lid down firmly and start the blender on low, increasing the speed to high gradually (note: starting the blender on high may force the very hot soup to strongly impact the lid and possibly burn you – that would be bad). Blend the soup until it is completely smooth and one solid color – you can strain it if necessary.

Return the well-blended soup to the stove and simmer again. Add the brandy and stir thoroughly. Simmer for no more than 5 minutes. And now for the easy part:

Ladle the chestnut soup into soup bowls, add 1 Tb. of heavy whipping cream and…


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Spiced Apple Ricotta

Spiced Apple Ricotta
This recipe was just the product of a week-long brainstorm and a dire craving for something warm and spicy. The credit for the dessert's name goes to my friend, Marie French.

The first time I made it, I used Bartlett pears and it was just as delicious. The second time I made this (just to be sure it wasn't a fluke and to get a few external opinions) was last night for a few friends.

The response was a success! Everyone was blown away and one friend even licked his plate.

I still feel like it need to refine the recipe, but would really love to share it with you now.

Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients for the Apple layer:
  •           3 apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  •           3 cups red wine
  •           2 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa
  •           1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
  •           3 Tbs. granulated or raw sugar
  •           1 Tbs. vanilla extract
  •           1 tsp. salt
  •           2 Tbs. Crushed granola or whole oats
Combine the wine, cocoa, cinnamon, sugar, vanilla and salt in a large mixing bowl. Blend well. Add the apples and let them marinate for 30 min in the fridge. Preheat oven at 375. Sprinkle the granola or whole oats in a buttered pie pan and arrange the apples on top. Pour ¼ cup of the liquid over the apples. Bake for about 20 min.

Remove the apples and let them cool. (approximately 20 min)

For the remaining liquid, I would suggest reducing it by at least half in a sauce pan, over the stove and using it as a side-syrup. If you’re serving this dish cold, the syrup helps to tie everything together. Or you can serve it over vanilla ice cream for another delicious treat.

Ingredients for Vanilla Ricotta
  •           1 ½ cups ricotta cheese
  •           1 Tbs. vanilla extract (powder works as well)
  •           2 Tbs. granulated or raw sugar
  •           A dash of nutmeg
  •           1 tsp. salt
        Combine ingredients in a bowl, by slowly folding them in. Chill for 15 min in the fridge.

Ingredients for Crunchy Topping
  •           ½ cup Crushed granola or whole oats
  •           1/3 cup of coconut
  •           1 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa
  •           1 Tbs. flour
  •           2 Tbs. bacon fat (can sub w/butter and a dash of salt)
        Combine ingredients in a bowl and blend thoroughly.

The final step:
Pre-heat oven to 450. After the apples have cooled, spread the ricotta mixture evenly over them. Then sprinkle over the crunchy topping – try to coat evenly. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 10-15 min, or however long it takes to crisp the topping.

Remove your spiced apple ricotta from the fridge and let it cool for at least 20 minutes.

Slice, serve, enjoy!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Crème Brûlée Experiment

I'm going to keep this post short and sweet - this is mostly just to show off the pictures of the final product...

I made crème brûlée for the first time tonight and expected it to completely fail. Mostly because I didn't follow a recipe - just looked up the ingredients and decided to "wing it". I also didn't have all of the right ingredients, so I improvised.

Surprisingly, my crème brûlée came out perfectly. No curdling, no fires, no crumbly topping... Who knew?

Sorry for the lack of recipe, but the ingredients I used were egg yolk, granulated sugar, half & half, vanilla bean powder, and nutmeg. I preheated the oven to 280 and baked it for about 40 minutes - baking time could vary...

Fresh out of the oven. Notice that the custard is holding the toothpick in place? =)
Brûlée'ing the crème

The final result: Crème Brûlée

I'm as proud as a kid who just successfully tied their shoe laces for the first time...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Bacon Brownies Recipe

Bacon Brownies
I know the words “Bacon + Browniesin the same sentence are hard to swallow, but I’ll swear to this: Once you go bacon, you’ll never be satisfied with a plain ol’ brownie again. And I promise that when you bite into these bacon brownies, you won’t get a chunk of meat that feels like it doesn’t belong there.

These bacon brownies will give you the best foodgasm of your life (my friends refer to them as “chocolate bacon crack”). They’re amazingly moist, with a crunchy-sweet bacon candy topping and the flavors meld perfectly together. Even if you’re not a bacon fan you’ll still love these brownies.

Here’s the recipe for the best Bacon Brownies EVER!

Bacon Brownie Ingredients
  • ½ cup Bacon Fat
  • 4 oz. Unsweetened Chocolate
  • A pinch of Cayenne Pepper
  • 4 Regular-sized Eggs (or 3 jumbo)
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • 2 cups Granulated Sugar (+ 1 Tbs. for the Bacon Topping)
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • 1 cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 strips of Candied Bacon
  • 2 Tbs. hardened Sugar from the Candied Bacon process
  • ¼ cup crushed Pecans

Bacon Brownie Preparation
  1. In a double boiler, slowly melt the ½-cup bacon fat with the unsweetened chocolate and Cayenne pepper, stirring occasionally until well blended.
  2. Let the chocolate mixture cool to room temperature (keep it liquid – do not let it get hard).
  3. In a large bowl, beat the 4 eggs together until light and foamy.
  4. Continue to beat, while adding the Salt, sugar and Vanilla.
  5. While still beating
  6. Add the cooled chocolate mixture into the eggs and sugar mixture and with just a few swift strokes combine. Even if you normally use an electric mixer, do this part manually. Before the mixture becomes uniformly colored, gently mix in the all-purpose flower (sifted flour is recommended to ensure there are no floury clumps).
  7. Add brownie mixture to a 10x10 inch well-buttered (or greased) baking pan.

Bacon Topping Preparation
  1. Crush the candied bacon and the hardened sugar left from the candied bacon preparation into little bits.
  2. Combine the crushed candied bacon with the crushed pecans and a Tbs. of granulated sugar and mix well.
  3. Sprinkle the candied bacon/pecan mixture evenly over the bacon brownie batter.

Bake the bacon brownies at 350°F for approximately 40 minutes. You can check to see if your bacon brownies are done baking by taking a regular toothpick and poking through the center of the baking pan. If the brownies are ready, the batter won’t stick, but there should be a little bacon brownie residue left on the toothpick to ensure the brownies are still moist.

Let the bacon brownies cool to room temperature and then cut into squares and serve.

Do you love bacon? Check out these bacon treats!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Grilled Cheese with Red Onion, Cherry Tomato & Irish Cheddar Cheese

Grilled Cheese with Irish Cheddar Cheese
Grilled Cheese with Red Onion, Cherry Tomato and Irish Cheddar Cheese is my absolute favorite grilled cheese sandwich. If you've got a craving for comfort food you absolutely must try this recipe on for size and if you have tomato soup to go with it, even better!

Grilled Cheese Sandwich Ingredients (makes 2 sandwiches)
  • 4 slices of whole wheat bread
  • Thinly sliced Irish cheddar cheese
  • 4-6 slices of cherry tomatoes
  • 4 Tbs. of chopped red onion
  • Butter

Grilled Cheese Preparation
  1. Place 2 slices of the whole wheat bread on a flat surface, divide half of the Irish cheddar cheese among the slices. Top the cheese evenly with the cherry tomatoes and onion.
  2. Place the 2 remaining slices of bread on top to make two sandwiches. Butter the top of the bread using half of the butter.
  3. Preheat a pan on medium-low heat. Place the sandwiches in the pan, butter-side down (may need to do in batches) and cook until lightly golden brown.
  4. Spread the remaining butter on the bread facing up, then flip and continue cooking until the bottom is golden brown and the cheese has melted.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Brown Sugar Candied Bacon (With a Kick)

Brown Sugar-Candied Bacon
I am obsessed with the combination of sweet and savory. And if you’ve taken the time to look through my recipes, you’ll notice that they have a much defined sweet-savory theme.  

The first time I made Candied Bacon I used maple syrup.  But I find, unless braised quite a bit, that the bacon doesn’t absorb the maple flavor too well. And once cooked, it doesn’t get the hard candy feel the candied bacon made with Brown Sugar has.

If you’re a bacon fan and love the sweet and savory combo as much as I do, you absolutely have to try this candied bacon recipe.

Candied Bacon Ingredients:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  3. Heavily cover both sides of each slice of bacon in the brown sugar and arrange the slices so there is no contact between them on the baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 15 to 25 minutes (until the bacon is well caramelized).
  5. Use a pair of tongs to transfer the bacon strips to a cooling rack and allow the excess fat to drain. Let the bacon cool until hardened.

Maybe be served alone as Bacon Candy or used as a garnish for a Bacon Cocktail.

Do you love bacon? Check out these tasty bacon treats!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Foodie Gossip: Anti-Valentine’s Day Food: Avoid the Sex by Feedin...

Foodie Gossip: Anti-Valentine’s Day Food: Avoid the Sex by Feedin...: "Beer or Ale is a the perfect beverage to lower the libido.Want to avoid the sex without hurting your partner’s feelings on Valentine’s Day? ..."