Berry Danish Recipe

The goal this summer was to beat cancer and to keep my daughter occupied. Both are big challenges, and I think I am winning both at this point in time. The first challenge has been a total battle, but being the warrior that I am, I think I am at the tail end in finding out the outcome, and the second one, as challenging as it might not sound, has been a tough one as well. I’ll be honest. My daughter is pretty bored this summer, and unfortunately there has not been a whole lot I can do based on my condition to keep her busy. There has been one thing I have been active doing though and that is teaching her how to bake and cook in the kitchen. This is something that she has always loved, and I can say that it has been a joy teaching her new things. This one in particular was teaching her how to make a berry danish.

Homemade Berry Danish Recipe
Homemade Berry Danish Recipe

I knew that she was going to love pretty much all of this, but there is one thing that she was going to question and that was the cream cheese. Something that she doesn’t really like, nor eat on a regular basis. My hope is that by using it in the desert factor that she would get over that hump and really enjoy the combination of berries and cream cheese. I think she loved them!

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 14-ounce package frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 2 cups of blueberries, washed
  • 2 cups of blackberries, washed
  • Pinch kosher sal
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 8 ounces package of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 egg
  • Splash water or milk

Begin by making the berry mixture. Combine the honey, half of the blueberries, half of the blackberries, lemon zest, and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook this down for about 15 minutes, stirring during the simmer. About 15 minutes in add the rest of the berries and simmer gently about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, set aside to cool to room temperature. The goal is to have some texture to the berries.

Next, make the cream cheese filling. Beat together the cream cheese and the egg yolk. Set aside. That’s it, simple stuff.

Get out two baking sheets and line them with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Homemade Berry Danish Ingredients
Homemade Berry Danish Ingredients

Unfold your puff pastry and cut it into 8 equal pieces. Try to keep the pastry cold while you continue to work on each individual one. The colder the better. No one likes working with room temperature pastry dough.

Roll the puff pastry into a 4-x-9-inch rectangle on a sheet of parchment. Use a ramekin or cookie cutter and cut them into circles, repeating as you continue to lay them out on the parchment paper, leaving about an inch or so between each circle.

Take a fork and gently poke each  pastry circle. Add a tablespoon of cream cheese filling into the center of each pastry circle, then put the entire tray into the freezer for 20 minutes. Next, whisk together the egg and and water and set aside.

After 2o minutes, remove the the pan from the freezer and brush the edges lightly with egg wash. Spoon a very heaping tablespoon or so of the berries on top of the cream cheese.

Homemade Berry Danish Recipe
Homemade Berry Danish Recipe

Bake the pastries 15 minutes at 400°F, then reduce the heat to 375°F and bake 10 minutes more, until the pastries are deeply golden. Once cooked, remove the pastries to a wire rack and let cool. Now it’s time to dig in!

The result is a perfect bite. An awesome pastry that is creamy and fruity and is just a real treat anytime of the day. Did my daughter like them? I think so, especially after she investigated the cream cheese for a long period of time, but she got over it and asked for seconds. Hope you enjoy!

Maple Glazed Spiced Nuts

It wasn’t too long ago where a lot of our family members gathered for yet another wonderful wedding. Don’t you just love weddings, and wedding weekends? I can’t say that it was all fun and dance for me in particular due to my recent circumstances, but what it was, was almost like a really great reunion of cousins, uncles, and grandparents that just brought joy and smiles to everyone’s faces. Love that stuff. During this time, our Canadian cousins decided to come bearing gifts, of which was this awesome Canadian maple syrup. My kids love syrup, as does my wife, and to be honest I don’t really use it all that often with the exception of when I may make some chicken and waffles. After some time, I decided to come up with a snack for one of the parties and see how it would go over. I like doing that, you know?

That’s when I decided I would make maple glazed spiced nuts, along with some fresh turmeric that my friends in Hawaii recently harvested from their yard and sent our way. I mean who doesn’t love turmeric and maple syrup, right? I was about to find out.

Maple Glazed Mixed Nuts Recipe
Maple Glazed Mixed Nuts Recipe

I came up with this recipe after thinking about some nuts my parents used to make during the holidays. They were sweet, and lightly salted, and that was the direction I was trying to head, but in a slightly more savory application.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups walnuts halves and pieces
  • 1 cup roasted peanuts
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt, to taste
  • 1 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.

During this time, get a large mixing bowl together and dump everything into the mixing bowl. Mix well to incorporate all of the nuts, sugars, and syrup together.

Get a large baking sheet out, and line it with parchment paper for easier cleanup.

Maple Glazed Nuts Ingredients
Maple Glazed Nuts Ingredients

Bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes being careful not to burn. About half way through this time, stir them, carefully. The goal is to get that sugars to melt into the nuts, making small clusters of deliciousness.

After you have achieved this, remove them from the oven, slide them into a bowl from the parchment paper, and let them cool before digging in.

I brought a majority of these to the party, yet reserved some only to make an ice cream with them with my daughter a few days later. Was that good as well? You betcha!

 

Crispy Pig Ears

Crispy pig ears, I know. Who the heck makes crispy pig ears? This dude does, that’s who. I forgot when and where I had these but were they ever awesome. They actually reminded me of a really good slimmed down chicharron. Crunchy, funky, and delicious. I tend to always look at this type of stuff when I shop at my local Mexican grocery store. They have everything, and granted there are some items that are not pleasing to the eye and I shun away from them rather quickly, there are others that really grab my attention. In particular these pig ears, and hopefully in the future, a cow or pig’s head. Who knows what I might make of those. Maybe some Filipino sisig, or maybe just braised and roasted to start digging into the cheek meat, etc. But these pig ears…. Those little suckers caught my attention and I knew I wanted to try to recreate those crispy, crackling things of beauty for my kids. Yes, my kids.

Crispy Pig Ears Recipe
Crispy Pig Ears Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of pig ears (mine came 4 ears to a package)
  • 2 cups of soy sauce
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • cooking oil

Start by rinsing off the ears with cold water. Once thoroughly rinsed, add them to a stock pot.

Add enough water to cover, and bring them to a boil, reducing the heat once boiling. Remove any and all of the scum that floats to the top and discard. This is much like cooking down bones for Vietnamese pho or any good stock.

After about 20-30 minutes, pour out the water, and give the ears another rinse, leaving them in the pot. Once rinsed, add the soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorn, and vinegar. Add enough water to cover the ears, then continue to cook over medium heat for about 2 hours.

How to make crispy pig ears
How to make crispy pig ears

After a couple of hours, pour out the liquid, and remove the pig ears, placing them in a bowl or plate to let cool.

Once cooled, slice them into strips, or chunks if you want. Whatever your desired bite is going to be.  Rub the teaspoon of salt all over them. Once sliced, and cooled, cover them and place them into refrigerator overnight.

The following day, heat enough canola oil on medium heat in a pan. NOTE: These will splatter a bit due to the fat content, so be prepared.

Once the oil is hot, about 350 degrees, pat the pig ears a bit before dropping them in, add the sliced pig ears in batches, and cook each batch until they are crispy.

A bit messy from the splattering, just a heads up.

Once they are crisp, remove them with a slotted spoon and onto a paper lined plate to remove any excess oil. Add the sliced ears to a small bowl and season lightly with salt. Repeat.

These pig ears are sticky from the gelatin the ears contain, crispy, and an overall unique experience that my kids (with the exception of one) actually enjoyed. Would I make them again? Probably. But in the future, I will have to hunt down where we had them and go from there. Have you ever cooked crispy pig ears, and if so what were your thoughts?

 

Thai Peanut Butter Toast

I have no idea why I don’t eat peanut butter more often because every time I do I totally love it. My kids probably eat peanut butter once a day. I don’t know if that is due to convenience or the fact that they love it as well. So one early afternoon I decided I wanted to have lunch. I wanted something Thai, but nothing that would take too long, plus my appetite was not all that fierce due to the cancer treatment I have been going through. Looking through the pantry, I noticed some really good and hearty bread that I had bought for my wife, that delicious creamy peanut butter, some Thai infused honey, and then some Thai bird chilies. I knew that I would get the best of everything by creating what I call Thai Peanut Butter Toast. Whoa is this every good.

Thai Peanut Butter Toast Recipe
Thai Peanut Butter Toast Recipe

I could have stopped at just peanut butter toast with a drizzle of that honey but I wanted to go further, and boy was I glad I did.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 slice of your favorite bread, toasted
  • 2 tbsp creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp Thai infused honey
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 whole Thai bird chilies, chopped (seeds removed is optional)
  • 1 tbsp roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 lime, squeezed

It doesn’t get any easier to make. Take your peanut butter and lather it onto your slice of toast. Sprinkle on the peanuts, Thai chilies, cilantro, and honey, and squeeze the lime juice over the top.

Thai Peanut Butter Toast Ingredients
Thai Peanut Butter Toast Ingredients

Plate and serve.

The result is everything I love about warm toast and creamy peanut butter. You know… when it drips down your hand? Then you get these pops of awesome spice from the chilies, freshness from the lime and cilantro, and that texture from the roasted peanuts.

Thai Peanut Butter Toast Recipe
Thai Peanut Butter Toast Recipe

This is a real winner, especially if you like a bit of spice. Feel free to reduce the chilies to one if you desire, or remove the seeds from them, but the balance of flavor is a tough one to compete with on this awesome snack.