George's Pumpkin Banana Nut Muffins

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Summer is winding down this week and I hope this recipe gets you in the mood for the arrival of Fall! Get into the fresh baked season and after 20 minutes of baking you can be enjoying hot out of the oven muffins. If you can resist to wait, they will even taste tomorrow. The banana in this pumpkin muffin recipe is an added natural sweetener, and also keeps the muffin fresh. 

George's Pumpkin Banana Nut Muffins

chefgeorgehirsch.com | adapted from George Hirsch Living it UP! cookbook

makes 10-12 muffins

For the Muffin Mix:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup fresh cheese pumpkin puree, cooked and reduced, or canned pumpkin 

1/4 cup about 1 large very ripe banana, mashed

1/2 cup pure cane granulated sugar

3 Tablespoons honey

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch fresh grated nutmeg

1/4 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest

1/2 cup sweet butter, melted; or replace with part/or all applesauce

For the Crumb Topping:

1/3 cup light brown sugar

2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 Tablespoons nuts, chopped

1 Tablespoon sweet butter

In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nuts. Blend butter in with a fork until mixture is crumb like.

Lightly grease 10 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat together reduced pumpkin, bananas, sugar, honey, egg, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, zest, nuts, and melted butter. Fold in pumpkin mixture by hand with a spatula into the flour mixture until just moistened. 

TIP: For a "lower fat" muffin replace the butter in-part or all with applesauce.

Place batter into muffin cups filling each cup to three quarters full. Divide the crumb topping evenly over the top of muffin batter.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin; done when toothpick comes out clean; or when touched lightly the muffin should have a slight resistance to finger pressure.

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Jacob's Ladder

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On one occasion when I was cooking for a client’s media event in the UK, I wanted to prepare a spin of a dish that was very popular with my viewers on my TV series - short ribs, but I had a heck of a time finding the cut of beef I required for my recipe. When I expressed to the British butcher my needs, he explained that in the UK it is known as Jacob's Ladder because of its 12 ribs; when laid on its side the bones look like the rung of a ladder. (There is of course a biblical reference to Jacobs Ladder, but I’ll stick to the short ribs foodie version for this post.) 

Enjoy. 

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Short ribs are best cooked in the pot-au-feu method, meaning ‘low and slow’ (low heat, with a long period of braising) to tenderize the tough cut of beef. 

Short Ribs of Beef with Orange Ginger Sauce

Makes four servings 

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

4 pounds Beef short ribs, bone in 

1/4 cup flour, for coating beef short ribs 

2 Tablespoons olive oil 

4 cloves garlic, sliced thin 

1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and chopped 

1 leek, whites only cut into one inch pieces 

2 teaspoons sesame oil 

2 teaspoons sherry 

2 teaspoons soy sauce 

juice of one orange 

1 1/2 cups beef broth 

Coat beef ribs with flour, shaking off any excess. 

Pre heat a braising or sauce pot to medium high temperature. 

Add olive oil and sear beef short ribs until well browned, turning only once on each side. 

Drain any excess oil. Lower temperature of pot, add garlic, ginger, leeks, sesame oil, sherry, soy sauce, orange juice and beef broth. Bring sauce up to a boil, then lower to a gentle simmer, cover and cook for 1 1/2- 2 hours or until meat is beginning to fall away from the bone. 

When short ribs are fully cooked, remove meat from pot. Raise the temperature of the sauce to a low boil. Reduce the sauce to naturally thicken. 

Serve with steamed rice or creamy mashed potatoes. 

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Better than Quiche Lorraine

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Contrary to what you might believe, the tart quiche originated on German soil and not French. The widely popular classic of French cuisine heralds from an area of the medieval German kingdom Lothringen, aka Lorraine, France.

Years ago the pie was made with just eggs, cream, smoked bacon and bread dough. The word Küche or Küchen is German for cake; believed to be the origin of the word Quiche. 

Keep in mind, the Lorraine region has influence from Germany as well as France; so depending on who you ask or where you sampling your Quiche from - you may receive a slight variation of the recipe. Today a Quiche Lorraine is expected to contain cheese and onions, as well. The use of Gruyère cheese is a relatively new addition to quiche in France. Oh and don't expect to taste any Gruyère in your quiche in Lorraine; they are purists - sans the cheese. Too bad, it's a really good modification to the French recipe. In Germany expect onions and no cheese; and it's called Zwiebelkuchen.

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I find it interesting to know the classical origin of a dish, but what is more important when making a quiche or any dish for that matter is - what influences the taste and texture of a dish. So for me the appeal is not to stick to its classical roots, but how the melding of cultures and the additions of flavorful savory ingredients, in this case, like onions and cheese have improved on this dish. 

As for Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche, the best selling book by Bruce Feirstein, which satirized stereotypes of masculinity; I can assure you based upon all the quiches I have made - real men DO eat quiche! 

Tips:

Add 1 Tablespoon flour mixed into filling prior to adding egg/ milk mixture to help set a filling that is too moist, example: tomatoes, mushrooms, etc..  

To prevent a raw bottom of quiche, pre-bake pastry dough Blind (8-12 minutes with no color) before filling.

Bake directly on an oven rack. Baking quiche on a cookie or sheet pan will cause the tart or pie bottom to be raw. 

Feel free to improvise with flavors, seasonings, vegetables, meats and seafood. Just keep in mind that adding very moist fillings such as mushrooms, tomatoes, etc will affect the custard of eggs and milk or cream.

Better than Quiche Lorraine Recipe

Makes one 9-inch tart

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

For George's Pastry Crust:

*George’s Favorite Pie Crust

Makes 1 pie or 2 bottom crusts

1/2 cup butter

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup cold milk

Chill the butter and milk before you begin. Chilling keeps the pie crust flaky and prevents the fat pieces from melting into the flour and becoming tough. 

Next, mix the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder. Cut the chilled butter into the dry mixture using a pastry cutter or by pinching the fat into the mixture with your hands. The mixture should have fat lumps no larger than the size of raisins. If making pie crust in the summer time cool off the flour by measuring your flour and refrigerate one hour before making dough.

Pour in the chilled liquid just until the milk is absorbed, mixing gently with a fork. You should be able to gently press the dough into a ball. Mix the dough as little as possible: you don't want to cream the lumps of butter into the flour. A crust without lumps of butter will be dense, not flaky. Note that humidity will affect how much liquid the flour will absorb.

Split the dough into two parts; 2/3 and 1/3 (2/3 for the bottom and 1/3 for the top). Pat them into balls, flattening them slightly, and wrap them in plastic wrap. The dough needs to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Overnight is preferred. Chilling lets the flour absorb all of the liquid, lets the dough relax and become more elastic, and keeps the fat in separate pieces which will give the crust a lighter texture when it is baked.

Prepare George’s piecrust the night prior or at least 1 hour ahead; or use store bought piecrust. Roll out pastry into a 9-inch tart or pie pan. Pre-bake pastry dough Blind (8-12 minutes with no color) before filling.

For the Filling:

1 cup (approximately 6 slices) thick cut or slab bacon, cut into thin strips-'lardons'

1/2 cup sweet white onion, sliced thin

2 green onions, chopped

3 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cups half-half or milk

Pinch of sea salt and fresh grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon each hot sauce, fresh grated black pepper

1 cup Gruyere or good Swiss cheese, shredded

Optional: 

2 Tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped

2 Tablespoons Arugula, chopped

Preheat oven to 375F.

Pre heat a sauté pan to medium heat, cook bacon until brown and crisp. Remove bacon pieces and drain on a paper towel. Drain bacon fat from pan; add both onions to pan and cook for 2-3 minutes to slightly soften. Allow bacon and onions to cool. 

Place bacon, onion, parsley, Arugula, and Swiss cheese on top of blind baked pastry crust. 

In a bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, nutmeg, hot sauce and pepper and pour the mixture over onion and bacon tart. 

Bake for 20 minutes, lower temperature to 350F; total baking time is 30 minutes or until egg custard is set. Allow to cool slightly and serve warm or at room temperature.  

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Buttermilk Apple Pancakes

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George Hirsch Buttermilk Pancakes

Once the acids in the buttermilk get in contact with the baking soda or baking powder in the batter, a giant fizz-fest takes place. The reaction with the baking soda (or powder) cancels out the sourness of the buttermilk, leaving our baked goods airy, tender, and tasty beyond reckoning.

Buttermilk Apple Pancakes

Makes eight pancakes

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon pure cane granulated sugar

*1 1/4 cups Buttermilk milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg, beaten

3 Tablespoons sweet butter (unsalted), melted

1 Granny Smith Apple, peeled, cored and chopped small

* To make Buttermilk 

1 scant cup whole milk 

1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice 

To make buttermilk:

Measure 1 scant cup of milk. Stir in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar.

Let the mixture stand at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes. When it is ready, the milk will be slightly thickened and you will see small curdled bits. This substitute will not become as thick as regular buttermilk

In a large bowl, mix together well with a whisk all dry ingredients; the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. In a separate bowl mix all wet ingredients; the milk, vanilla, egg and melted butter.

Add the wet to the dry and stir with a spatula until the dry ingredients have incorporated. There may still be a few lumps. Do not over mix, or pancakes will become tough.

Pre heat a non stick pan or lightly grease a griddle over medium high heat at 375 degrees F. 

Tip: Test the temperature by dropping a drop of water on surface of pan. Water will dance across the surface when at the correct temperature. Test one pancake.

Pour one 1/4 cup scoop of batter onto the griddle for each pancake. If adding any fresh fruit such as apples, bananas or blueberries, add at this time. You will see bubbles form on the top side when brown on bottom, flip and brown on second side. Serve hot with syrup or favorite topping.

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