Saturday, December 19, 2009

Peppermint Patties

It's been a long time. Life has been full.

Christmas just isn't Christmas for me unless there are a few homemade gifts in the works. These peppermint patties, while time consuming, are making a great little addition to my holiday gift baskets.

You may wish to double the peppermint extract. Taste your filling once you've added the suggested amount, then add more if necessary.

Peppermint Patties
Makes 80

2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar (less than 1 pound), divided
1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening (preferably trans-fat-free)
10 ounces 70%-cacao bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
Equipment: a 1-inch round cookie cutter; a digital instant-read thermometer

Beat 2 1/4 cups icing sugar with the corn syrup, water, peppermint extract, shortening and salt using an electric mixer at medium speed until just combined.

Knead on a surface dusted with remaining 1/4 cup icing sugar until smooth. Roll out between parchment to a 7 or 8 inch round (less than 1/4 inch thick). Place on baking sheet and freeze till firm, about 15 minutes to overnight. Remove top sheet of parchment and sprinkle round with icing sugar. Flip and repeat sprinkling of icing sugar on opposite side.

Cut out as many candies as possible, transferring to a parchment lined baking sheet. Gather together scraps and reroll. Place both round and cut out candies back into freezer overnight. Cut more rounds.

Temper your chocolate by melting 3/4 of the chocolate in a bowl set over a sauce pan of simmering water. Remove bowl from pan and stir in remaining chocolate, until smooth. Cool until thermometer registers 80F. Return water in sauce pan to a boil and remove from heat. Set bowl with cooled chocolate over pan and reheat, stirring, until temperature registers 88-91F. Remove bowl from pan.

Balance 1 peppermint candy round on a fork and submerge in melted chocolate. Let the excess drip off and scrape fork along rim of bowl if necessary. Return chocolate covered patty to baking sheet. Coat remaining rounds, rewarm chocolate to 88-91F as necessary. Let patties stand until chocolate sets, about 2 hours. Patties will keep, chilled and layered between sheets of parchment in an air tight container, 1 month. Bring to room temperature before serving.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dehydrated Raspberry Powder

This months Daring Bakers challenge was macarons. I've always wanted to try my hand at making either pistachio or raspberry macarons - so I went with the raspberry for my first attempt.

Raspberry macarons call for something called raspberry powder, which adds flavor and a slight bit of color. It is not readily available but can be
purchased online and can be found in larger specialty food stores. I needed it immediately - but wasn't willing to give up.

After scouring the internet, I decided that making fruit leather was close to what I needed.
You'll need raspberries, a bit of granulated sugar, a food processor or hand blender and
a fine meshed sieve.

urée the raspberries with the sugar until smooth, then force through a fine meshed sieve to remove seeds. Spread the purée quite thinly on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at the lowest temperature your oven can be set to. This will take quite some time - I believe my raspberry purée was ready after about 2 hours.

You'll need to peel the dehydrated raspberry
purée from the parchment, and a mortar and pestle came in very handy when crushing the flakes to as fine a powder as possible. You could also add it to any dry ingredients that your recipe calls for; in my case, I crushed the raspberry flakes with the mortar and pestle and then added them to my food processor with the powdered sugar and almond flour.

Making my own raspberry
purée gave me a true sense of accomplishment, not to mention kept me from opening my wallet. Be sure to use your raspberry powder immediately after you've made it - if left for too long it will absorb any moisture in the air and result in a sticky, useless clump.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Chicken Paillard

Paillard is simply quick cooking thinly sliced or pounded pieces of meat. Typically this process is associated with veal or chicken, but beef can also be used.

We eat chicken regularly but I find that sometimes, it gets monotonous. When I spotted these recipes in a back issue of a Martha Stewart magazine, I added them to my recipe binder to break the chicken boredom.

Two very easy, very quick and very delicious recipes. We'll make them both again.

With the fried chicken, it is not necessary to use the amount of lard listed. I used not quite an inch of vegetable oil in a heavy skillet which was plenty to brown the crust.

The grilled chicken cooked quickly on the barbeque due to it's thinness. We had marinated it that afternoon and, although wary of the lime juice, discovered it to be delicious. The chilies added a subtle but noticeable heat that went very well with the lime.

Fried Chicken Paillard

Martha Stewart
Serves 4

1 1/2 cups non fat buttermilk
3 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
8 slices white bread, crusts removed
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup vegetable shortening or vegetable oil

In an airtight container, combine buttermilk, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Place a chicken breast half between 2 twelve inch squares of plastic wrap. Using a meat pounder or the bottom of a sauce pan, pound chicken until just more than 1/4 inch thick. Repeat with remaining breasts; place in buttermilk marinade. Chill 20 minutes.

Place bread, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, and cayenne pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until fine crumbs form, about 10 seconds. Transfer mixture to a shallow bowl.

Remove a chicken breast half from buttermilk mixture, and shake off excess liquid. Dredge both sides of chicken in bread crumbs, and transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining chicken breasts.

Line a baking sheet with a double thickness of paper towels. Heat shortening in a large non stick skillet over medium high heat. When hot, carefully place two chicken breast halves in pan. Fry until bottoms are golden, about 2 minutes. Turn chicken breasts over, and cook until golden and cooked through, about 2 minutes more. Transfer to prepared pan. Repeat with remaining chicken. Serve.

Grilled Chicken Paillard

Martha Stewart
Serves 4

To prepare the chicken, place the boneless breasts in a resealable plastic bag one at a time, and pound them using the smooth side of a meat tenderizer. Once all of the breasts have been pounded, place them back in the bag to marinate the chicken.

2 cloves garlic, crushed
zest and juice of 2 limes
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4 inch thickness
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Make the marinade: In a small bowl, combine garlic, zest, juice, chili powder and red pepper flakes. Place the chicken in a large resealable plastic bag, and add the marinade. Seal the bag and toss to coat the chicken. Transfer bag to refrigerator and chill 10 to 15 minutes, or up to 24 hours.

Heat grill; when very hot, remove chicken from bag and carefully place on hot grill. Cook about 5 minutes, discard bag and excess marinade. Turn chicken over, and continue cooking 4 to 5 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Plum & Peach Galette

I love how summer winds down with one last hurrah from the late season fruits and vegetables. Plums are starting to ripen and the peaches are slowing down (but don't you find they're almost sweeter now, than at the beginning of their season?).

A week or so ago I picked up a 20 pound box of peaches; I froze the majority of them (rinse gently under cool water to remove fuzz; slice, pit and freeze on parchment lined baking sheets then store in freezer bags - peel when ready to use). Several peaches made their way into canning jars, a
very easy cake was thrown together one afternoon but yet I was left with two very ripe, desperate to be used peaches on my counter.

I've always wanted to try my hand at a galette - the most free form pie you ever did see.

Plum & Peach Galette

1 pie crust (I used pâte brisée that I had made some time ago and frozen)

6 Italian plums, pitted and roughly chopped

2 large freestone peaches, peeled, pitted and roughly chopped

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons cornstarch

pinch salt

1 tablespoon buttermilk

granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Toss plums, peaches, cinnamon, sugar, vanilla, cornstarch and salt in a bowl. Lay pie crust on prepared baking sheet. Pile fruit mixture in center of pie crust, leaving roughly 2-3 inches around. Fold pie crust up over fruit.

Brush crust with buttermilk, sprinkle with sugar and bake in preheated oven till crust is golden and fruit is bubbling, approximately 30 minutes. Let cool before slicing.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Mac & Cheese With Pancetta

This is most certainly not a dish you'll make often. Not because you won't want to, or that it's not creamy, flavorful and delicious, oh no; no, it's because it's not quite as cost effective as those blue boxes with the mysterious 'cheese' package.

It's a far sight better than those chemical laden preservative filled blue boxes, though - just to forewarn you. Those blue boxes just won't do it for you anymore, once you've tried the real thing.

In any case, this is a perfect dish for the upcoming season - comforting, filling, warm and delicious.

Bon Appétit shared this recipe as part of an article on the foods restaurant employees make for themselves before service starts - this Mac & Cheese with Pancetta is a favorite with staff at the Mio Kitchen & Wine Bar.

Mac & Cheese with Pancetta
Mio Kitchen & Wine Bar
Serves 10

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, divided

4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped

1 cup finely chopped onion

3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

1 garlic clove, minced

1/4 cup all purpose flour

3 1/2 cups (plus extra) whole milk

2 1/2 cups coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese

1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

1-8 ounce container mascarpone cheese

1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs

1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

1 pound orecchiette or elbow macaroni

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add pancetta and sauté until browned and crisp, about 6 minutes. Add the onion, sauté until lightly browned and softened, about 5 minutes. Add the crushed red pepper and garlic, stir 1 minute.

Stir in 3 tablespoons butter, allow to melt, then add the flour and stir 1 minute to cook off the 'raw' flavor. Gradually whisk in 3 1/2 cups milk; simmer till thickened and will coat a spoon thickly, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cheeses. Whisk in more milk as necessary to render the sauce thick but pourable. Season with salt and pepper.

Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large non stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the panko breadcrumbs and toast until very light golden, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley.

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a large baking dish.

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al denté. Drain but do not rinse. Return pasta to pot and add the cheese sauce, tossing to coat. Taste, and season as necessary with salt and pepper. Pour mixture into prepared dish and sprinkle crumb mixture over top.
Bake until heated through and crumb topping is golden brown, about 30 minutes.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Chocolate Mayo Cake

We hosted a lunch yesterday, to celebrate the baptism of our son. Of the several made-from-scratch desserts I baked especially for this event, this cake was my favorite - and it was actually leftovers from the night previous; a dessert I had brought with us to visit with friends. And horrors, it's made from a boxed mix!

Although I don't believe anything could ever top Beatty's Chocolate Cake; for a wonderfully quick and easy dessert that's moist, flavorful and absolutely delicious, this cake...takes the cake.

Hellmann's Chocolate Mayo Cake
Makes one, 2 layer 9 inch cake

1 box devil's food cake mix
1 cup Hellmann's mayonnaise
1 cup water
3 eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and lightly flour two 9 inch round cake pans, set aside.

Beat cake mix, mayonnaise, water, eggs and cinnamon for 30 seconds in a large bowl with electric mixer on low speed. Beat on medium speed, scraping sides occasionally, for 2 minutes. Divide batter between the two prepared pans.

Bake 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out cleanly. Cool 10 minutes on wire rack, remove from pans and cool completely.

Chocolate Frosting
Makes 2 cups

1/2 cup butter, softened
2 2/3 cups icing sugar, sifted
1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1/3 to 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Cream the butter in a large bowl. Blend in the vanilla and alternate the cocoa powder and icing sugar with the cream.

Beat with an electric mixer, adding enough cream to reach desired texture.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Apple Tart With Caramel Sauce

Bon Appétit called this recipe a 'grown up spin on the caramel apple' - and if this is what caramel apples taste like, I've been missing out.

I made this tart into 4 individual sized servings using small tart pans. We added a scoop of vanilla ice cream to the still warm tarts and scraped our plates clean - it's fabulous.

Don't be hesitant using the ground cardamom. While it's a fairly strong spice, the dimension it adds to the tart is unbeatable - while you won't be able to notice it distinctly, you'd be lacking in flavor interest without it.


Apple Tart With Caramel Sauce
Bon Appétit
Serves 8

Caramel Sauce
1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup chilled unsalted butter, diced
2 large egg yolks

2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
6 large apples (about 2 3/4 pounds), peeled, quartered, cored

For the caramel sauce: bring sugar, cream and butter to a boil in heavy medium saucepan over medium high heat, whisking constantly until sugar dissolves. Boil until caramel thickens enough to coat a spoon thickly, whisking often, about 10 minutes. Can be made 5 days ahead, cover and chill till ready to use. When ready to use, whisk over low heat until warm before using.

For the crust: blend flour, powdered sugar, and salt in processor. Add butter and blend until coarse meal forms. Add egg yolks. Pulse until moist clumps form. Gather dough into ball, flatten into disc. Wrap and chill at least 1 hour. Can be made 1 day ahead, keep chilled.

For the filling: whisk first 4 ingredients in a large bowl to blend. Add apples and toss until evenly coated.

Preheat oven to 375F. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 13 inch round. Transfer to 9 inch diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Cut overhang even with the top of pan sides. Press sides of dough to bring 1/4 inch above sides of pan. Arrange apple quarters, cut side down, in circle around outer edge of pan, fitting snugly. Cut remaining apple quarters in half lengthwise, stand in center of tart, fitting snugly.

Bake tart until apples are tender, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove from oven, brush with some of the caramel sauce. Cool tart to room temperature. Rewarm remaining caramel sauce. Drizzle tart lightly with sauce, serve and pass remaining caramel sauce separately.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cherry Clafoutis

My inlaws recently gifted us a small chest freezer, the perfect size for our small apartment. No more will I lament the lack of freezer space an apartment sized above fridge freezer allows!

Perhaps I overdid it a bit with 30 pounds of any case, 70 cups later; stemmed, washed, pitted and sliced - plus pre measured for pies and I'm a happy girl.

Three cups leftover equals just the right amount for clafoutis!

Cherry Clafoutis
Martha Stewart
Serves 8

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 pounds cherries, pitted
3 tablespoons flour
pinch salt
1/4 cup sugar
4 large whole eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, scraped of seeds
3 tablespoons kirsch

Heat oven to 375F. Butter a 10 inch porcelain tart dish, fill with cherries and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Add the sugar. Gradually whisk in whole eggs, egg yolks, milk and cream. Add vanilla bean scrapings and kirsch, whisk to combine.

Strain the batter through a sieve placed over the reserved cherries. Transfer clafoutis to oven, bake until puffed and browned, about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly; dessert will sink slightly. Dust with confectioner's sugar, serve.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Apple Hand Pies

I found a Pampered Chef Cut n Seal at the thrift store for $.25! Wanted to use it as soon as possible, and I had a handful of translucent apples in my I made Apple Hand Pies.

We're loving these 3 or 4 bite hand pies - no fork or plate necessary! Perfect for lunches, picnics, and more!

A recipe is almost unnecessary, really, but to wit:

Apple Hand Pies
Makes 2 dozen

1 recipe your favorite chunky applesauce (find my favorite here)
1 recipe your favorite pie crust (find my favorite here)
egg wash
sprinkling sugar

Using a 24 section mini muffin tin, spoon approximately 1-1 1/2 tablespoons applesauce into each cup. Freeze till the applesauce can hold it's shape but is not frozen solid.

In the meantime, prepare your pie dough. Use the Cut n Seal (without using the crimper) to cut out approximately 24 circles. Set aside half of these circles. With the remaining pie dough circles, make the top crusts of the hand pies by using an hors d'oeuvres cutter to cut out decorative shapes. You can also make simple slashes in the dough or use a paring knife to work free hand. The more opportunities the steam has to escape will make for a more flaky crust.

Brush half of the cut out dough circles with egg wash and place 1 frozen applesauce chunk in the center of these circles. Lay a top crust over the applesauce and using the palm of your hand, flatten gently. Repeat till you've used all of your cut out circles.

Using the Cut n Seal, seal each hand pie. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. If desired, add the cut out shapes to each hand pie.

Hand pies can be frozen at this point, or baked immediately.

Bake the hand pies in a 350 F oven on a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet for 30-35 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking.

You don't have to have the Cut n Seal to make this recipe. Use a medium sized round cookie cutter to cut out the circles, and use a fork to crimp and seal the edges.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Broccoli Salad

There is a broccoli salad that makes a very regular appearance on the buffet table at the hall where I occasionally cater. It's delicious - and I've finally found a recipe that is it's equal.

I typically don't enjoy raw broccoli - steamed or roasted, yes please! When raw, it's the thought of all those little flowery pieces getting stuck in my teeth. Not to mention I'm not a huge fan of the flavor of raw broccoli...

This salad's main ingredient happens to be raw broccoli...and I love it. Sunflower seeds, raisins, red onion, bacon and a dressing to tie it all together - it becomes a textural sensation in your mouth.

The LA Times initially published this recipe as part of a 'best of' potluck recipes article, way back in 1999. The Food Librarian recently posted about it, where it caught my eye.

I've made this salad several times and I'm sure we'll be eating it a lot more this summer - it's a fantastic cold side dish.

Broccoli Salad
The Food Librarian via The Los Angeles Times
Makes 10-12 servings

1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar

Blend, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

1 1/2-2 lbs broccoli florets
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup salted sunflower seeds
1 small red onion, chopped
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

In a large bowl, combine broccoli, sunflower seeds, onion and bacon. Just before serving, add dressing to broccoli and stir well.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Milk & Honey Jelly

I think it's important to share not only the good, but also the not so good - like these pretty Milk & Honey Jellies.

The recipe has been on my to make list for quite some time. We had a good friend over for a dinner and a long overdue visit, so I made these to serve as dessert.

While they weren't inedible, we didn't find them to be anything special - the flavors were just too delicate. It was suggested in the recipe to use a fairly strong flavored honey; my theory is that my farmer's market wildlflower honey was just not strong enough. Also, perhaps I did not allow the jellies enough time to come to room temperature - another point Ellie mentions. Doing so allows the jellies to soften, and serving them at room temperature doesn't dull the flavors as serving them cold, would.

I have a jar of cranberry blackberry honey that my mother in law presented me with on my birthday - it's more strongly flavored and darker in color...the lovely layered look of these jellies warrants another attempt!

Milk & Honey Jelly
Kitchen Wench

Serves 4

Vanilla Panna Cotta

1 1/2 cups milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatin

1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod, split with seeds scraped into milk

2 tablespoons honey

Honey Jelly

1 2/3 cups cold water

1/3 cup strongly flavored honey

3 teaspoons powdered gelatin

Pieces of honeycomb (either real or
the candy) to decorate

To make the honey jelly, pour the water and honey into a pot, and sprinkle the gelatin over top. Leave to rest for 5 minutes to allow gelatin to absorb some of the water (helps to dissolve it faster and more evenly during cooking). Place over low heat and stir constantly until it comes to a boil and the gelatin is dissolved. Set aside to cool slightly.

To make the panna cotta, combine the milk, cream, vanilla and honey in a pot and sprinkle the gelatin over top. Leave to rest for 5 minutes. Place pot over low heat and stir constantly until the gelatin is dissolved and the milk mixture is beginning to boil. Set aside to cool slightly.

Using 4 glasses (wine, water, cocktail - whatever you have on hand), use half of the honey mixture to pour into each glass. In the first pour, they should receive 1/8 of the mixture, each. Carefully transfer the glasses to the fridge and chill for 30 minutes to an hour.

**while the honey jelly and panna cotta should not set without being refrigerated, stir each mixture occasionally to prevent gelatin from settling and to avoid a skin forming**

Once the first layer of honey jelly is set, pull out the glasses and carefully pour 1/8th of the panna cotta mixture into each glass, on top of the honey jelly. Carefully place back in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour to set. Repeat until you've used up all of the mixtures.

Allow jellies to come to room temperature before serving, and top with a piece of honeycomb or honeycomb candy to decorate.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Beatty's Chocolate Cake

This Ina Garten recipe has been waiting patiently for me to make it, ever since I stopped short on it in one of the Barefoot Contessa's cookbooks.

Rich, dense but not too much so, moist, dark and so chocolatey that you'll wonder why you've ever bothered with boxed mixes - there's absolutely no comparison.

It's Chocolate Cake, of course - Beatty's Chocolate Cake.

The cup of hot coffee in the cake batter really does enhance the chocolate flavor...although we preferred it the next day, after a good chill in the fridge. The coffee overpowered the chocolate flavor the day of making, and while it wasn't terrible (it's chocolate cake, after all!), it was just too strong for us. After it's refrigerator stay, the coffee just sinks into the cake; the frosting firms up, and all in all, renders it a truly deep and delicious cake.

Beatty's Chocolate Cake
Barefoot Contessa At Home
Serves 8

butter, for greasing pans

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour, plus more for pans

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup good cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk, shaken

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 extra large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

1 Recipe Chocolate Buttercream, follows

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter 2 (8 inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, butter again and flour both pans.

Sift and combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl. In a medium bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla. With a mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Place 1 layer flat side up on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

Chocolate Frosting

6 ounces good semisweet chocolate

1/2 pound (2 sticks or 1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 extra large egg yolk, at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups sifted icing sugar

1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

In a large bowl, beat butter on medium high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the icing sugar then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy.

Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don't whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Chicken Club Salad

Martha Stewart's recipes ceaselessly amaze me. They are typically accurate, easy to follow, and delicious.

Ms. Stewart's Everyday Food magazine has something in it for everyone; the issue that this Chicken Club Salad recipe was torn from had numerous other recipes I was interested in - and I've got the stack of them stuck to my refrigerator as proof.

I especially love the Good Things magazines. The 'For The Kitchen' issue is dog eared in multiple places, water stained, crinkle paged, food and sauce splattered, grease marked and very, very well loved.

My husband and I had this salad on a particularly warm evening; I had prepared all of the ingredients beforehand and simply tossed it all together before serving it on a bed of homegrown, fresh from the garden lettuce - delicious.

Chicken Club Salad
From Martha Stewart Everyday Food
Serves 4

6 slices bacon
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6-8 ounces each)
coarse salt and ground pepper
3 plum tomatoes, quartered lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch think, plus 1/2 cup celery leaves (optional)
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
lettuce leaves, for serving

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Lay bacon in a single layer on prepared sheet; bake until it begins to render it's fat, about 10 minutes. Turn bacon over, and slide to one side of sheet. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and place on baking sheet. Bake until bacon is browned and crisp and chicken is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.

Transfer bacon to a paper towel lined plate, and let drain; crumble. Let chicken cool completely. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine tomatoes, onion, celery, celery leaves (if using), mayonnaise, and vinegar.

Cut chicken into 1/2 inch chunks, and add to bowl. Season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Serve chicken salad over lettuce leaves, and sprinkle with bacon.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Edna Lewis's Summer Apple Pie

Happy Father's Day!

We enjoyed a fantastic evening with my husband's family - my mother in law's homemade hamburgers, green salad and baked potatoes; and for dessert, two desserts including this Summer Apple Pie from Edna Lewis. I've renewed The Taste Of Country Cooking from the library three times, and have come to the realization that I must own it. Molly claims to read sections of it at the change of each season, and I understand why.

To tempt:

Another late afternoon feast would be the melons my father had gathered in the early morning from the melon patch while the dew still lingered on them. He would put them in a tub or water or underneath the shrubbery until we were ready to eat them. Before he ever sliced open a melon, he would always plug it - by cutting out a small piece which he would taste to see if it had the proper flavor. If it didn't, he would cast it aside until he found a good one. We would all be served in our turn and we would enjoy each bite, discussing which condiment made the melon even sweeter - salt or pepper. After the feast, the rinds were saved and made into pickle or preserve, and the rest went into the swill for the hogs. Then we would go off to do our evening chores.

Absolutely glorious writing!

I'm looking forward to making this pie again in the fall, when the local apples will be at their peak. The baby and I are sure to come home from the farmers market, loaded down with crisp, sweet apples - this is such an honorable way to showcase their beauty.

Summer Apple Pie
-Edna Lewis, The Taste Of Country Cooking-
Makes 3, 7 or 8 inch pies.

3 cups sifted unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup lard, chilled
1/2 cup ice water

1 1/3 cups sugar
pinch salt
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3 pounds apples, peeled, sliced and cooked as below

Place flour and salt into a large bowl. Add the chilled lard, and using your fingertips or a pastry blender, mix well. This blend will not be as dry as a butter mixed pastry. When well blended add all of the water and mix until the water is all absorbed. This will make the dough a bit sticky. Sprinkle over lightly with flour and roll into a ball. Leave to rest in a cool place for about 15 minutes.

To make applesauce, pare, halve, quarter and core each apple. Place them into a saucepan. Sprinkle 1/3 cup sugar and salt over apples. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes over medium heat. Remove cover. Enough water should have developed to cook the apples - shake the saucepan to stir. Leave uncovered and continue cooking gently until all the juice has dried down and the sauce is thick. Remove from heat and set aside until ready to use.

Divide the dough into pieces to fit the bottom of each of three pie plates and a little less for the top crust. This is a soft dough and it is best to roll it out and place it in the pie plates, then chill until needed. The top pie crusts can be rolled out, placed on wax paper and set to chill as well. It is important to remove the top crust from the refrigerator ahead of time in order for it to warm up. If not, it will become brittle and break in half. The bottom crust should remain chilled until it is filled.

Add sugar and nutmeg to applesauce. Mix well and spoon 1 1/2 cups into each pastry lined pie plate. Moisten the rim of the pie shell and place on the top crust; seal the two by pressing the rims together. Make 5 or 6 vents in the top of the crust - the more vents there are in a two crust pie the crispier the crust will be. Bake about 45 minutes in an oven preheated to 425C. When done, remove from oven and set on a rack to cool.

When completely cooled, stack all three pies on top of one another. Cut into wedges to serve, along with ice cream or whipped cream.

Note: I found that 3 pounds of apples did not make enough applesauce to fill each pastry shell with 1 1/2 cups, so I made another, smaller batch using 4 apples. This made just enough applesauce. Depending on the type of apples you use, taste the sauce before adding the additional 1 cup of sugar - you may or may not need that much. I used Granny Smith apples and did not need to add a full cup of sugar.

The pastry recipe is better than anything you've ever made - perfectly flaky yet tender, with good flavor and turns a beautiful golden after baking. It's become my go to pie crust recipe.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Peanut Butter & Jam Bars

I acquired a vintage Sunbeam Mixmaster today. It has a few quirks - but I think we will become good friends...until a KitchenAid hits my countertops.

Our Best Bites posted this retro bar recipe today, and it only seemed right that a retro recipe be used to christen my new to me kitchen appliance.

Both my husband and I enjoyed our taste test - the jammy center is a pleasant surprise to what, at first glance, appears to be a peanut butter cookie square.

I made a few changes to the recipe - you can view the original at the link provided below.

Peanut Butter & Jam Bars
-adapted from Our Best Bites-

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup raspberry jam

2 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon hot water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream shortening and both sugars together until light and fluffy. Add peanut butter and combine. Add egg and vanilla and mix until combined. Measure out the 1 1/4 cup flour. Add small amounts at a time while mixer is running. When about half of the flour is left add the baking soda and baking powder to it. Combine well and then add to the dough mixture and mix until everything is incorporated.

Reserve one cup of the dough for later use. Take the remaining dough and press it into the bottom of an ungreased 9x13 pan. Spread jam evenly over the dough.

Take the reserved 1 cup of dough and use it to cover the jam layer. Flatten pieces of dough between your fingers or you can also crumble it if you wish. Some of the jam will still show through when you're done and that's fine.

Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. The top should be set and just barely golden brown. Don't overcook. When done, remove from oven and cool on a rack. Wait until they are completely cooled to room temperature to glaze.

To glaze, mix all glaze ingredients together and whisk until smooth. Spread over cooled bars (double glaze recipe for a thicker glaze) or place into baggie, snip the tip off and squeeze thin lines over the bars. Let glaze set a bit to harden and then slice bars into squares or triangles.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Raspberry Lemonade

Oh my goodness gracious. Have you raspberries in your house? How about lemons?

I've found the epitome of a summer sipper: Raspberry Lemonade.

The baby and I actually walked to a grocery store yesterday, just so we could make this - and I am ever so glad that we did.

Raspberry Lemonade
-from Joy The Baker who adapted it from Simply Recipes-
Serves 6

1 cup sugar (for a less sweet lemonade, reduce sugar to 3/4 cup)
1 cup water to make simple syrup
1 cup fresh lemon juice (approximately 6 lemons)
4 cups cold water
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup raspberry sauce (depending on how much raspberry you like)

Make simple syrup by heating the sugar and water in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved completely.

While the sugar is dissolving, extract enough juice from the lemons to make one cup. Room temperature lemons give more juice, and it helps to roll the lemon on the counter, under your palm.

Add the lemon juice and sugar water to a pitcher. Add 4 cups cold water, more or less to suit your tastes. Add the prepared raspberry sauce and stir to combine. Refrigerate 30-40 minutes. If the lemonade is too sweet for your taste, add a little more straight lemon juice.

Serve over ice.

Easy Raspberry Sauce

6 ounces frozen raspberries, thawed
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon water

Place thawed berries in the bowl of a food processor fitted with blade attachment. Add sugar and water and mix until the raspberries form a smooth puree. Transfer raspberry puree to a fine mesh strainer fit over a bowl. Press the puree through the strainer.

Joy also suggests making a cocktail with your lemonade: Fill a glass with ice cubes. Fill the glass half full with the raspberry lemonade and top with Prosecco or champagne. Garnish with fresh basil or mint leaves. This is how I discovered Joy's recipe, truth be told - I had a half bottle of Prosecco left over from the weekend, and didn't want it to go to waste. This method was most delicious.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

My in laws have a wonderful garden, that each year, overflows with fruits and vegetables. We happily take their surplus!

The first offering was rhubarb - a favorite of mine. I used half a pound of it to make these delicious crumb bars and decided to use the remainder for this Strawberry Rhubarb Pie. I took it along with us to a barbecue with friends and the entire pie vanished.

The recipe you see below is loosely based on an Anna Olson recipe found here. I used pate brisee from the freezer for the crust and decorative topping - if you haven't ever made your own pie dough I highly recommend it. It really isn't that difficult and the quality is far superior to store bought pastry.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
-adapted from Anna Olson-
Makes 1 9 inch pie, 9-10 servings

Pate Brisee (either a double crust for a closed or lattice top or a single batch for crumb or cut out top)

3 cups rhubarb, chopped
3 cups strawberries, chopped
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 400F.

Line a 9 inch pie plate with your pastry, trim and pinch edges decoratively. Chill until ready to fill.

Toss rhubarb and strawberries with sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt to coat. Fill pie shell with fruit.

Top with second pie shell, lattice top, crumb topping or any manner of decorative cut outs using scraps from trimming bottom shell.

Bake pie on a foil lined tray for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350F and bake another 40 minutes until filling is bubbling and crust is browned.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mile High Lemon Pie

Martha Stewart is the epitome of all things domestic. Therefore, I turned to her when looking to satisfy a lemon pie craving.

Her recipe does not disappoint.

A fabulous pate brisee holds the zesty lemon filling secure underneath mounds of browned meringue; piled high so as to be given the name 'Mile High' Lemon Pie.

Mile High Lemon Pie
Makes 1 9 inch pie

all purpose flour, for dusting

pate brisee (do make this rather than using a store bought crust - you will not regret it)

1 large egg

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1/3 cup cornstarch

1/3 cup sifted cake flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups sugar

5 large egg yolks, lightly beaten

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons lemon rind

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

7 large egg whites

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 400 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a thickness of 1/8 inch, anduse to line a 9 inch pie tin. Crimp the edges decoratively. Chill until firm. In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolk and cream to make a glaze. Prick the bottom of the shell with a fork, brush the top edges with the glaze, and line with parchment paper. Weight the shell with pie weights or dried beans, and bake until the edges begin to brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove paper and weights; continue baking until golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes more. Let cool.

To make filling, combine cornstarch, cake flour, salt, and sugar in a medium nonreactive saucepan over medium heat. Gradually add 2 cups cold water. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly, about 4 minutes.

Remove the pan from heat. Temper egg yolks by beating a small amount of hot mixture into the yolks before adding them to pan. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from heat, and whisk in the lemon juice and rind. Add the butter one piece at a time. Pour the mixture into a large bowl, and let cool.

Pour the filling into the cooled shell and refrigerate, covered with aluminum foil, until firm, about 1 hour.

To make the meringue, combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in a heat-proof bowl. Set over a pan of simmering water; beat until warm and sugar is dissolved. Remove bowl from heat; whip into stiff peaks.

Spread the meringue over pie so that it touches crust all around. Broil until brown, about 2 minutes, watching constantly. Serve at room temperature.

Pate Brisee
Makes 1 double crust or 2 single crust 9 to 10 inch pies

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.

With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.

My suggestions?

Absolutely, most definitely blind bake the crust before filling. My pie began to weep after only a few hours in the refrigerator, but the crust remained flakey despite this. If I hadn't pre baked the crust would have certainly turned into a soggy mess.

Put the meringue on the filling while the filling is still hot. This prevents separation of the filling from the meringue and also helps control weeping if you aren't eating the pie immediately.

Allow the meringue to 'seal' the pie by ensuring that the meringue touches the crust all the way around the pie.

I made this, along with an equally sinful Cafe Au Lait Cheesecake, to share with family at two Easter dinners this past April. Sadly, I was forced to press down my beautifully high meringue in order to transport it - and was unable to take a photograph of the completed dessert beforehand.

There is, however, another batch of pate brisee waiting in my freezer...


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Beef Tenderloin, Garlic Scented Asparagus & Blue Skies

Please don't be upset with me.

There are no recipes here.

Just a few images of our most delicious dinner this evening; the first BBQ of the season! I also wanted to share the weather we enjoyed today - beautiful blue sky, fresh fresh air and the warm sun. Both the baby and I thoroughly soaked as much up as we could.

I promise to return with a recipe. I've got lemons on the brain...


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Kitchen Sink Stew

Diets. Meal plans. Counting calories. Counting carbs. All protein. Zero fat. Low fat. Weight loss, weight gain, weight loss.

There are so many options in the quest to live a more healthy life and to see lower numbers on the scale and on the tags of your clothing.

My husband and I have started the ChangeOne plan.

Not a 'diet' or a pre packaged meal plan. No counting calories or carbs. We aren't living on lettuce wrapped burgers or tofu. We're simply eating well - properly portioned meals that include a vast array of vegetables and fruits.

Like this stew.

Kitchen Sink Stew

1 - 28 ounce can tomatoes
1 - 20 ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
1 cup dry pasta
1 tsp dried Italian herb mix
freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups water, plus more as needed

Combine all ingredients and heat to a boil over medium high. Simmer till pasta is cooked. Serve with multi grain roll or a slice of garlic toast.

Makes 4 two cup servings.

To read all about the ChangeOne plan, click the link to head over to my other blog.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting

There are frostings that, during the making, you continuously must taste test.

In order to achieve a good frosting, of course.

My bread machine has a sweet dough rising in it right now. After a frustrating attempt at a cinnamon roll recipe that ultimately ended up in the bin, I went with a tried and true recipe (for the bread machine!) with more than 2,000 positive feedback.

The frosting from the first recipe sounded better than the one provided in the second recipe however (who can resist a vanilla bean?), so I decided I'd use it.

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
-adapted from PickyCook-

4 oz room temperature cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out

Combine all with mixer until smooth. Spread over top of warm rolls.

It was difficult to refrain from hiding away in a quiet corner with my little bowl of frosting and a spoon.

The Cinnabon clone recipe I tried turned out fantastic as well.