Archive for June, 2008

Daring Bakers – Danish Braid

June 30, 2008

Well haven’t I been a bad Daring Baker? I’ve sat out the last two challenges but I’m back. June’s challenge was chosen by Kelly of Sass & Veracity and Ben of What’s Cookin’?. The recipe they chose was a danish braid which sounded pretty intimidating at first. After reading through the recipe I realized that it’s a pretty basic pastry dough but then you fold in a butter block, which is just butter and flour. It ended up being really easy and really fun, although all the turning and folding left me a little confused.

Braid
We were given the option of using an apple filling recipe that was provided to us but I decided to go with something a little more exciting. So I bought rhubarb for the first time and decided to get over my fear of the funny looking stuff. I ended up making an amazing strawberry and rhubarb filling but I can’t for the life of me remember exactly how I did it.

Braid
I also softened a block of cream cheese, mixed in some powdered sugar, and spread that out over the dough before I added the filling. It turned out great!

To see the full recipe, head over to Kelly’s blog. And check out the blogroll to see all the different variations the DBs came up with.

Barefoot Bloggers – Parmesan Chicken

June 26, 2008

It’s posting day over at Barefoot Bloggers again already! This time the recipe was chosen by Megan of My Baking Adventures. She chose Ina’s parmesan chicken which I have to say I wasn’t looking forward to. I make a very similar recipe frequently that my boy’s just adore so I was worried that they wouldn’t be too impressed.

Chicken

I have to say though, I was pleasantly surprised. I usually bake mine but frying this version really made it great. It isn’t something that I like to do often but frying this chicken was definitely worth it. Ina’s recipe also calls for a lemon vinaigrette that you serve over mixed greens but I wasn’t in the mood for salad. Instead, I served the chicken on a deliciously creamy caramelized onion risotto. I roasted some asparagus to go along with it but my mom called as I was waiting on it and I ended up venting to her for almost an hour before I remembered the asparagus. Oops.

Parmesan Chicken
from: Food Network

4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 extra-large eggs
1 tablespoon water
1 1/4 cups seasoned dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
Unsalted butter
Good olive oil
Salad greens for 6, washed and spun dry
1 recipe Lemon Vinaigrette, recipe follows

Pound the chicken breasts until they are 1/4-inch thick. You can use either a meat mallet or a rolling pin.Combine the flour, salt, and pepper on a dinner plate. On a second plate, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon of water. On a third plate, combine the bread crumbs and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. Coat the chicken breasts on both sides with the flour mixture, then dip both sides into the egg mixture and dredge both sides in the bread-crumb mixture, pressing lightly.

Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan and cook 2 or 3 chicken breasts on medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Add more butter and oil and cook the rest of the chicken breasts. Toss the salad greens with lemon vinaigrette. Place a mound of salad on each hot chicken breast. Serve with extra grated Parmesan.

Lemon Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.Yield: 6 servings

Crunchy Thai Noodle Salad

June 26, 2008

It’s gotten far too easy for me to fall into a lunch rut. The kid eats pretty much the same thing everyday: a slice of ham or turkey, green beans, peas, carrots, or a combination of the 3, and a piece of fruit. Me? I usually skip lunch because I never know what to eat. So my new goal is to make a couple lunches each week. Actual meals, not PB&J.

Thai salad

My first attempt was this oh-so-pretty Crunchy Thai Noodle Salad. It was colorful and fun and I’m sure most people would really like it. One of the main ingredients of the dressing is sesame oil and I always seem to forget that I hate sesame oil. I love the smell of it, but I hate the taste. Weird, right? I think I’m going to play around with it and see if I can find a good substitution that’s not so over-powering.

That being said, the husband shocked me by eating 2 huge bowls of it. Normally he turns his nose up at anything that doesn’t have a large piece of meat sticking out of it. Even the kid ate a bowl of it.

Crunchy Thai Noodle Salad
from: Vegetarian Classics

For the dressing:

3 tablespoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup tamari soy sauce
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the salad:

1 pound spaghetti or linguine
2 cups mung bean sprouts
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into matchsticks
1 carrot, peeled and grated
3 scallions, very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons shredded fresh basil
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped dry roasted peanuts

Cook noodles until al dente. Drain thoroughly and rinse the noodles under cold running water. Place noodles in a very large serving bowl.

In a medium sized bowl whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing. Pour the dressing on the noodles and toss well. Mix in all remaining ingredients except peanuts. Let the noodles sit for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve with the chopped peanuts sprinkled on top.

Tuesdays with Dorie – Mixed Berry Cobbler

June 24, 2008

TWD

Tuesdays with Dorie time again. This week’s recipe of Mixed Berry Cobbler was chosen by Beth of Our Sweet Life.

Cobbler

This cobbler recipe was very simple. Just berries (fresh or frozen. Dorie says it doesn’t matter.) on the bottom and a biscuit topping. I used a mixture of frozen blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries since I always have those in the freezer. Even though I added a fair amount of sugar, it was still way too tart for me.

The biscuit topping came together very quickly and was a breeze to roll out. The problem was that it was bland. The only flavor mine had was saltiness. Bleh. You’d think I would’ve learned to read the TWD blog for suggestions before I start a recipe, but I guess I’m just hardheaded. Some of the other TWDer’s added cinnamon or extra sugar to their biscuit topping and said it came out fabulous so I would definitely suggest doing that.

All in all, this was a pretty good recipe. It was very easy to put together and neither the husband or the kid had any complaints. I really can’t ask for more than that.

Cobber

For the recipe, head over to Our Sweet Life and if you want to see what other TWDer’s thought, check out the blogroll.

Tuesdays with Dorie – Peppermint Cream Puff Ring

June 17, 2008

Gah. Let me start this out by saying that I thought about not even posting this. I hate my pictures. It was rainy the day I made them so I had no light whatsoever. Maybe if I hadn’t shoved every cream puff in my face within an hour I could’ve taken better ones when the sun came out, but yeah, I couldn’t control myself.

Caroline (I adore her name) from A Consuming Passion chose Dorie’s Peppermint Cream Puff Ring as this weeks recipe. I hadn’t made cream puffs before this so I was a little nervous. It turns out the dough is really easy to make, but it’s a huge pain in the ass to squeeze out of a piping tip. I ended up using a ziploc bag with the corner cut off.

I obviously didn’t make a ring. I didn’t even us peppermint. Sigh. Maybe I deserve to have bad pictures since I can’t follow instructions. Instead of steeping mint leaves in the cream I just added almond extract when I whipped it. Almond whipped cream might just be the best thing ever by the way. Dorie’s cream puff ring also had a chocolate glaze on top, but I left that off too. I decided to drizzle chocolate over half of my cream puffs but I couldn’t get it to drizzle so I had spotted cream puffs. It just wasn’t my day.

But like I said, I ate them all. Well, the husband ate one. The rest were mine. So they were good. Really, really good. Light and fluffy and pure heaven. I can’t wait until I have an excuse to make them again.

Check out the Tuesdays with Dorie blogroll to see what the real Peppermint Cream Puff Ring is supposed to look like. Next week I’ll do better, promise.

 

Barefoot Bloggers – Pasta, Pesto, and Peas

June 16, 2008

I joined another blogging group. Sigh. It’s not a baking group though. Everyone rejoice. It’s called Barefoot Bloggers and it’s for anyone who loves Ina Garten. And let me tell you, I adore Ina. I’m a few days late posting (and making) this recipe but I think it’s excusable since I didn’t join until a few days before it was due.

The idea is to puree spinach and pesto and then mix it with a whole lot of mayonnaise, toss it with hot pasta and peas, and top it off with fresh Parmesan and pignolis. I’m kind of a spinach freak so I decided not to puree it. I also cut down on the mayo and only used one type of pasta instead of the two that Ina’s recipe called for.

I am in love with this pasta. I had a huge bowl for breakfast and then shared a bowl with the kid at lunch. I know the husband won’t touch it though. Ironically enough we were watching Everyday Italian yesterday and when Giada put some peas in a pasta, the husband said with complete disgust, “I would be so angry if someone put peas in my pasta!”

Pasta, Pesto, and Peas
from: Food Network

3/4 pound fusilli pasta
3/4 pound bow tie pasta
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 1/2 cups pesto, packaged or see recipe below
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/4 cups good mayonnaise
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
1/3 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cook the fusilli and bow ties separately in a large pot of boiling salted water for 10 to 12 minutes until each pasta is al dente. Drain and toss into a bowl with the olive oil. Cool to room temperature.In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, puree the pesto, spinach, and lemon juice. Add the mayonnaise and puree. Add the pesto mixture to the cooled pasta and then add the Parmesan, peas, pignolis, salt, and pepper. Mix well, season to taste, and serve at room temperature.

Pesto:
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
3 tablespoons chopped garlic (9 cloves)
5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups good olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Place the walnuts, pignolis, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Use right away or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.Notes: Air is the enemy of pesto. For freezing, pack it in containers with a film of oil or plastic wrap directly on top with the air pressed out.

To clean basil, remove the leaves, swirl them in a bowl of water, and then spin them very dry in a salad spinner. Store them in a closed plastic bag with a slightly damp paper towel. As long as the leaves are dry they will stay green for several days.

(almost) Half Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

June 16, 2008

I’m a slacker. Forgive me. I made these cookies a few weeks ago when my (almost) brand new laptop pooped out on me. (Anyone want to see how many times I can put “almost” in parentheses?) I wanted to drown my sorrows in chewy chocolate chip cookies without all the guilt. Plus I was just about out of all-purpose flour.

I’m generally not one to come up with my own recipes, especially for baked goods. I’ve only been cooking for about a year and a half so I’m still trying to figure things out in the kitchen. Luckily these turned out perfect. They didn’t last 2 days in my house. And like I said, (almost) no guilt. (That’s 3!) I didn’t even feel bad when I saw the husband sneaking bites to the kid.

(almost) Half Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
from: Like Sprinkles on a Cupcake…

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375.

Sift together flours, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar together. Add vanilla and then eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Slowly stir in flour mixture. Fold in chocolate chips.

Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 9 – 11 minutes, or until golden brown.

Let cool completely on wire rack.

 

Tuesdays with Dorie – La Palette’s Strawberry Tart

June 10, 2008

This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe, La Palette’s Strawberry Tart, was chosen by Marie of A Year In Oak Cottage.

This tart is very different from most tarts I’ve made in the past. This one was so easy. The only part that you actually have to make is the crust which came together quickly and easily. The other ingredients are strawberry jam and fresh strawberries. How easy is that?

I chose to do fresh cherries because I had a ton leftover from my cherry pie. I did sprinkle a little sugar on the cherries because I wanted them to be juicy. I also used strawberry jam because I was too lazy to go to the store for cherry preserves.

The husband really enjoyed the tart. Me? I’m not a big fan of fresh fruit but I loved, loved, loved the pastry crust with jam on top.

(As a group, us TWDer’s have decided to stop posting Dorie’s recipes since we think everyone should own a copy of her book. Luckily for you though, Dorie has already blogged about this one over on Serious Eats. And now you must go check out the other Tuesdays with Dorie blogs.)

Cherry Pie.

June 8, 2008

In an effort to look like the perfect housewife, I attempted my first double crust pie last weekend when the husband had a long-lost buddy over. Attempted being the key word here.

Unfortunately my ALMOST BRAND NEW LAPTOP decided to go crazy and the freakin’ Dell support people told me my only option was to completely restore it back to factory condition. Sigh. I lost everything so I don’t have the recipe I used. And my touchpad still isn’t working. I do know that I put cinnamon on the cherries. Yup. That’s all I remember. That’s mommy brain for you.

The pie tasted great and that’s the most important part right?

Classic Banana Bundt Cake.

June 8, 2008

I walked into my kitchen a few days ago and noticed 4 over-ripe bananas that I’d completely forgotten about. My initial thought was to do a sort of “chocolate covered banana brownie” but when the husband said he wanted some banana cake to take to work in the mornings. And being the lovely (ahem) wife that I am, I obliged.

I hate my loaf pan. It’s got to be 76 years old and nothing ever wants to come out of it smoothly so I decided on a bundt cake. I thumbed through Dorie’s book hoping that by some weird coincidence she would have a recipe for me. And she did!

The husband says this is the best banana cake ever. It was so moist and banana-y and perfect. I could probably find fault in the 2 sticks of butter that the recipe calls for, but we’ll just forget about those. Yeah?

Classic Banana Bundt Cake
from: Baking: From My House to Yours

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, as room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
About 4 very ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cups sour cream (or plain yogurt)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a 9- to 10- inch (12 cup) Bundt pan. (If you’ve got a silicone Bundt pan, there’s no need to butter it.) Don’t place the pan on a baking sheet — you want the oven’s heat to circulate through the Bundt’s inner tube.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and beat at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, then add the eggs one at a time, beating for about a minute after each egg goes in. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the bananas. Finally mix in half the dry ingredients (don’t be disturbed when the batter curdles), all the sour cream and then the rest of the flour mixture. Scrape the batter into the pan, rap the pan on the counter to de-bubble the batter and smooth the top.

Bake for 65 to 75 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Check the cake after about 30 minutes — if it is browning too quickly, cover is loosely with a foil tent. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before unmolding onto the rack to cool to room temperature.

If you’ve got the time, wrap the cooled cake in plastic and allow it to sit on the counter overnight before serving — it’s better the next day.


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