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.